How Can I Know God?

Exodus 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

When Moses had the encounter with God at the burning bush, God sent him to deliver the Hebrews out of slavery and into the promised land.  Moses asked God, whom shall I say sent me?  God’s answer is found in Exodus 3:14 (above).  That sounds like a strange name, but it isn’t a name at all, it is an attribute of God.

The purpose of a name is to distinguish one person from another, but in God’s case, there is no other to contrast Him with.   Psalms 113:5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high  Jer 10:6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.  Anytime you find His attributes it is always Him and no other so a name is not needed.  If you want to know God then you must discover what He is like.  Even when you find a name of God, such as Jehovah Jireh “The Lord Will Provide”; it describes something about God rather than a distinguishing name.  God is distinguished because of His attributes and not by His name.

One of the problems is that we try to picture God as a being like we are, limited by time and space.  He is not like us and therefore does not have the same limitations.  He does not act or react as we do.  Take His response of I AM THAT I AM”, and notice that God revealed something of Himself that is unique only to Him, that He is eternal.  He exists outside of time.  He is present in the past, as well as present now and is present in the future.  Also notice that if He is always existent throughout time, so He never changes, which is what we find in the scriptures.  Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.  Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

God is always revealing Himself to man but man has great difficulty understanding God who is past finding out.  You cannot exhaust the limits of God because He has no limits.   Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!  Though you cannot exhaust His ways, you can begin to grow in your understanding.  It is something like a baby knowing its mother.  It begins with instincts but those instincts are enhanced by experiences, then by knowledge and further on by understanding and so forth.  So also we know God in a graduated way and the more we come to know Him the greater our understanding of Him becomes.  I was 10 years old when we moved to Colorado, from Missouri.  My parents told me about the mountains and I had actually been there when I was about three but my memory and knowledge was so little that I didn’t have a good concept of them.  As we approached Colorado, we began looking for them and even wondered what they were like.  Finally, dad pointed them out in the distance.  They were so small on the horizon that I was unimpressed.  I wondered why all the fuss.  But then a strange thing happened, they began to grow.  At least they seemed to grow and reached higher into the sky.  This continued until we were driving in the mountains and they had become so large that I couldn’t comprehend how big they really were.  Of course they didn’t really grow, they were the same size all the time but my perspective continued to change, the closer I got.  The same thing is true about God.  The closer to Him you get the greater He appears.  The truth is that He never changes but our perspective of Him does.  James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Blameless

1 Corinthians 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Blameless is not the same as guiltless.  It is not the same as sinless either.  Other words with a similar meaning and are sometimes used interchangeably, but wrongly  are:  forgiven, sinless perfection, righteous, to name a few.  If we are to properly understand and teach the Word of God correctly, we must understand the relationships of these words and their specific meanings.  Lets look at the similarities and the differences of these words.

Guiltless:  means literally without guilt, innocent.  Having no knowledge or experience.  Since the Scripture is clear that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, this word does not describe any of us, in fact, of no one other than Jesus, Himself.  The fact that our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus and that He has made full payment of our sins can never remove the fact of our sin.  In other words, reverse history and remove the act from ever happening so that we are not guilty.  Even though we are forgiven, it does not remove our guilt.  We are all guilty of sin, but there is good news.

Sinless:  This word is not so easy to explain as the previous  word.  In it’s simplest form it means ‘without sin’.  There is another sense that the word is used in the Scriptures and that is ‘without chargeable sin’.  That is sin that has been committed but has been paid for and is no longer chargeable to the one who committed the sin.  Once the sin has been paid for, it is no longer charged to the individual and he is therefore without sin that needs to be paid for.  Please note that the payment (wages earned) for sin, is death.

Forgiven:  When sin is forgiven it means that the payment was paid by another.  To forgive will cost you something and death is the only payment for sin.  This price was paid by Jesus when He died on the cross for all sin, past, present, and future.  Yet it is not appropriated until it is confronted, confessed and concluded.  The woman at the well who was caught in the act of adultery, faced her accusers and then was sent away with the instruction to sin no more.  It is one things to feel the guilt of your actions.  Yet, without confession (that is to take ownership of your own guilt) the heart has not been transformed and it will be repeated time and time again.  The stubborn will must be subdued.  The conduct will remain unchanged until this happens.

Sinless Perfection:  is a false doctrine and cannot be validated either by Scripture or by reason.  Consider a gallon of poison.  If you add a gallon of pure water, it is still poison, just not as strong.  No matter how much pure water you add, you have not neutralized the poison and it remains.  You do not purify a substance by only adding nonpoisonous substance.  The poison must be eradicated. The Scripture states that without the shedding of blood (death) there is no remission.  Therefore we can never get good enough that our sin becomes of no count.

Righteous:   A right heart produces right actions.  A righteous  person is one who operates out of a right heart and a right spirit.  To be righteous is to be on the side of what is right.  The Scripture states that there is none good but God, therefore to be righteous is to have a heart and spirit that acts with God and not the spirit of this world of sin.  It is not to be understood as one who is perfect but on who endeavors to follow after rightness.  Whenever one gets off the right path, he make a course correction to align himself anew with God.

Blameless:  I love this word because it holds all of the possibilities of God’s favor and promise.  It means simply that my sin account has been drained and there is not a single sin remaining in my account that has not been covered by the blood of Jesus.  It does not mean that my guilt didn’t happen.  Nor, does it mean that the degree of my sin  is so great that the blood of Jesus won’t clean it.  It means that in spite of my guilt, I have the only remedy for sin and that brings hope and promise to know that I will be accepted into the family of God as His child.  Take a look as some of these scriptures with the view of being blameless.

Matthew 12:5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Colossians 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

1 Thessalonians 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

When trials Come

It has been a few days since I last posted so I want to offer you an explanation.  My schedule ihas been quite full with the Senior Adult Bible Conference,just completed along with the upcoming events such as out of town guest coming, the visa application that I just got off on Saturday and a trip to North Carolina which I am currently at.  It is .5:05 AM on Tuesday.  The trip began on Sunday when we were scheduled to leave Dallas at 8:20 PM but never left until 9:00 PM.  The flight was good but there was a heavy thunderstorm when we got to Raleigh, NC and we had to circle for 45 minutes while waiting to find a time we could land.  Then after we landed we had to wait on the plane for another 45 minutes until  the lightening stopped so we could  d board and then wait some more for our luggage.  In short, we got to bed around 3:00 AM.  Then it was the day of figuring out how to tie in two roofs that were at odd angles to each other and at two different elevations.

Isn’t that just like life,  all our plans are frustrated and then we are pushed to our limits.  I am happy to report that we never let it control us so that we forgot who is in charge.  I am thinking of Jonah.  He was directed to go to Nineveh, but made plans to go the other direction and wound up in the belly of a whale for three days and nights.  Have you ever wondered what Jonah was thinking while he was there in the fish’s belly?  If he were in today’s world he might of thought, how did I get in such a mess.  There was no warning about the upcoming whether change that messed up the voyage.  Then there was that crew that tossed me into the sea.  You’d think they would have had more compassion for me and my needs.  And if that wasn’t enough, instead of my needs being met, I wound up being breakfast for this huge fish.  He must really be desperate, mixing me up with all of this sea weed.  You see, Jonah was thinking of himself instead of his responsibility and God’s plan.  Sometimes things go wrong because God is trying to turn us to the right direction.  That wasn’t the problem for us so why would it be so difficult.

Another reason that things can get messed up is that God is developing our faith.  That is an ongoing work of the Lord.  We need to know that no matter how impossible the circumstances become, our God is bigger than the problems are.  So much of the time, we slip into the thinking that this situation is too big for God.  We forget that He who made all that is, is the same one who reign over all that is and He has the power to change anything.  I am sure that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednrgo gained a new perspective about God’s power.  God is greater than the laws of nature.  When you are walking with Him, even the laws of nature must bow to His authority.

A third reason that things may not go as planned is that God is using you to illustrate to others who are watching, how a Christian should act under pressure.  Sometimes we do a good job and sometimes we don’t.  In this situation I am not sure why the situation was so difficult but I am seeing some things.  On the first day of our work here, I have been impressed at how God has guided each thing we have attempted.  It seems that the ability to see through the complexity of the situation has been over powered by God and we have been able to make the very difficult cuts that established the beams, on which everything sets.  This reminds me to make sure the foundation because the superstructure works right, only if the foundation is right.  By following God’s plan, I have always found that anything and everything that was needed, has been provided.  Even to the extent of adequate rest.  I am amazed how well I have made it without adequate rest.  Then last night I just ran out of energy and was in bed by 8:30 but then awoke this morning at 4:05, rested and ready for the day.  Now I have time to meet with the Lord and even write this blog.

To sum this up:  sometimes things get messed up to get us in line with the Lord; sometimes they  become difficult as God is working on us; and sometimes trials are ours so that God can use us.  Really it is not so important that we see the why, as much as it is that we simply trust Him and know that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted  to Him:  and that is me.

Thinking of Eternity

I was just thinking of God and what it will be like when we stand before Him in Eternity.  I have heard a thousand thoughts of what others think it will be like.  Some think that they will still be in charge of something and will ask God their deepest questions about why did He  —-?  Others have the idea that Eternity will be linear, like it is here and our existence will be much the same.  (Example: Ten thousand year)  Another idea is that all our loved ones will meet us there and they will be much the same but just stop growing old.  One of the most popular is that it is”a better place”, without any explanation as to what that means.  Many understand that there will be no more pain and sorrow but do not understand why.  Most think that there will be memories and even regrets of what could have been but never was.  Sadly, most of our concepts are just wild guesses, carried out to several decimal places or just simply figments of our imagination.

The Bible gives us many clues as to what it will be like but they are meaningless until they are seen through the eyes of faith and the record of God’s Word.  Last week, I preached a message out of John 6, entitled I AM the Bread of Life.  The “I AM” is the same as what God told Moses when he asked God what His name was.  God replied, I AM that I AM.  Tell them that I AM sent you.  When Jesus said, “I AM the Bread of Life” He used the same phrase, claiming Himself to be very God.  He did not give His name but one of His attributes, His self existence.  The reason is that a name is used to distinguish one from another of similar features or specifics.  When you come to God, there is no other like Him.  He is one of a kind, unique, different from all others.  So to know Him is to know His attributes.  In this case it is His eternal self existence.  No other living being has eternal self existence so the identification is made by that characteristic.  Because he is self existent, He is not subject to time.  The conclusion is that in Eternity, time does not exist.  We, who exist in linear time, do not think of a timeless existence so we superimpose our understanding of time into Eternity and come to a false conclusion of what Eternity is like.  To truly know what Eternity is like is to know it from an eternal position which still awaits us.  We see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face.

What will it be like?  I don’t really know what it will be like, but I know that it won’t be like now any more than the world of time and space is like the world of the womb.  There is even more difference between this present world and the world of Eternity.  I get a clue of something of what it might be like as I look at others who have been very close to God.  Moses saw Him from behind and his face glowed so bright that he had to wear a veil.  Jacob wrestled with an angel of God and it changed him forever and he had a limp the rest of his life.  The three Hebrew children walked with Him in the fire and it had no effect on them except to free them from their bonds.  Many saints came before Him and fell on their faces, unable to stand without His help.  When Isaiah saw Him on His throne in the temple, he saw himself as unclean and without hope until the Lord cleansed his sin.  Paul was knocked to the ground when he met the Lord and it change his life, permanently.  When John saw the Lord, He was the glorified Christ and he fell at His feet as dead.  The result of that meeting is the book of Revelation.  On thing is certain, when we find ourselves before the Lord our God, we will see Him as He is and we will be changed.

PreparingThe Message

The Senior Adult Bible Conference has concluded and now I want to do a review of the process that went in to the preparation and delivery of the message.

Having been a part of this Bible Conference for three years, now, I look forward to it more every year.  This year was no exception.  When I was asked to be a part again this year, my first thought was, what does the Lord want me to say?  To preach for the Lord is to speak that which He would say if He were present in His earthly body.  That is such an awesome responsibility.  It genders many questions such as, Where are the people at in their lives?  What does the Lord have planned that they need to prepare for?  What problems are people struggling with?  What doctrine needs to be clarified? Etc.

And so it begins.  How do you discover the mind of God, for He alone knows where we are and what is ahead?  This necessitates prayer.  I never know until He reveals it to me so I have to go to Him as ask.  Sometimes it takes a lot of self-examination to make sure that there is nothing in my life that will hinder the message from being understood properly.

Once the receiver (me) has been properly prepared, then comes the receiving.  I make it a point that I never single out individuals, but stick to the principles laid out in the Bible.  It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to do the job of convicting and applying.  It is my job to properly present, clarify, and explain the Scriptures.  Each message is unique as to who is there, the times, the need, etc.  This combination of events has never happened before and it will never happen again and that is why you can never preach the same message twice, though you can present the same truths, repeatedly.

The next step is the selection of the Scripture.  There are a number of places in the Bible that a specific Doctrine, truth, circumstance or other application can be found.  I try to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and let Him direct me to the place He wants to speak from.  After all, it is His job to direct me into all truth.  He does it in many ways.  Sometimes He uses circumstances, but more often than not He will bring a particular Scripture to mind repeatedly, or show me a truth about that Scripture that I simply must share with others.  He works in many ways that I do not understand but I trust Him and His leading.

The final step of preparation is the soaking in the message.  That is reading and rereading, reviewing, listening for the still small voice that I have come to recognize by many years of hearing.  It does to me what happens to food when you marinate it in a specially prepared mixture of different flavorings.  The preacher must receive the message first as the Scripture says, they that preach the gospel, must live of the gospel.  Only then am I ready to preach.  How long does it take?  The answer  is all your life.

Then we come to the delivery of the message.  Nerves are present, the mouth is dry even if you just took a drink of water, the mind races, you are introduced, and you begin to speak . . .  It seems that I always forget some details that I intended to include and I add a few things that I never thought of in my preparation.  How was the timing?  Did I accentuate the point correctly?  What could I have done better? Etc.  This is all part of the preparation of the next message.

Summer Bible Conference Underway

We are now in our Senior Adult Summer Bible Conference which runs from yesterday through Wednesday.  Yesterday we had two speakers in the afternoon that both spoke on aging but from a totally different perspective.  Both were great and gave us several valuable insights.  One of the highlights for me was that it can be (and should be) one of the most productive times of our lives.  We have the opportunity to influence more people with more lasting insights than we have ever had the opportunity to do.  Today, Tomorrow and Wednesday we will have two speakers each day; the first speaking at 10:00 AM and the second will be speaking at 11:00 AM and repeating the times each day.

I will be speaking on Wednesday at the 10:00 AM slot.  My message is on John 6 where Jesus gave one of the great “I AM” teachings, I AM the Bread of Life.  All of the messages are being recorded and you can go to our Church’s web sight and listen to them at your convenience.  If You would like a copy of any or all of the messages (on a CD), drop me a note in the response box and I will try to get it to you.  If you live outside the US there will be shipping charges as I am not a business but an individual living on a fixed income.

Do you remember a blog that I wrote back in January about this blog being an ongoing adventure and that we would see the Lord in action, on our journey home.  Later I told you about my being asked about making the trip to China and later I shared with you that I was indeed going?  Yesterday, I found out that the entire trip is going to be paid for.  Since I am on a fixed income, and it was not part of my budget, it was going to take the Lord for it to happen.

The operation of faith is one of the strong point in chapter 4 of my book, The Mystery of Faith. Faith operates in the following manner: God initiates faith, then man believes, then God finishes it or brings it to pass.  Since God had initiated my making the trip to China, it was up to me to believe that He would provide what was needed to make the trip.  Since I then believed it was indeed God setting it up, I had compete trust in Him to bring it to pass.  This is how faith operates.  I did not go to God to make this happen, but He came to me with the request for me to go.  I wasn’t the one initiating the action, nor was I the one who initiated the request.  The request was the result of my response to God’s request for me to go.  He always finishes what He starts.  This is His chosen means of operation.  Until we get this operation down, we will continue to struggle with our faith and how God intends for us to walk.

Update – 8-3-18

Things are starting to happen with the mission trip to China.  The tickets are being purchased and it is starting to become a reality.  The date of departure is set for October 24, 2018.  Our first leg of the trip will be a non stop flight from DFW to Guangdong, China, which is near Hong Kong.  From there I will take another flight to northern China where I will meet Forest and Yan and spend a few days with them.

As soon as I get the tickets and full schedule, I can then continue with my visa application which should take about two weeks after it is sent in.

Forest reported that they are working hard on the translation of my book and hopes to have it completed and printed by the time I get there.  It will not be printed by a noted publisher but is will be something that I can bring back here and finalize it for our uses here.  Hopefully, I can then make it available to Christians here that speak and read Chinese.  This will be a milestone in the present ongoing work of the 4 language translations  that are underway.

The translation in Japan took a hit recently when a portion of the translation was lost in a flood in Japan.  I have 4 chapters that have been completed but it was a big loss of the work that had been done beyond that.  They are regrouping and pressing forward with that work there.

There has been significant progress on the Russian translation and chapter 4 has just been completed.  Joel has been more than faithful in his work and it is such a joy to see the Lord bless him through this process.  I think he really has little awareness as to how God may use it.  There are so many in this country who speak only Russian that it surprised me how needed it is.  I can see the Lord working on many fronts.

The Spanish translation is moving forward as well but at a much slower pace.  There have been much interference in family needs and prayer is needed there.  Still the translation is on chapter 3 and moving forward.

As always, I solicit your prayers for this ministry and the safety and guidance of those who are sharing in this work.of translating. Your prayers are more needed than you know.

Dwelleth

John 6:56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

1Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

[Greek – enoikeo, en-oy-keh’-o – to occupy a house, i.e. reside (figuratively,                                  inhabit, remain, inhere); by implication, to cohabit:–dwell.                                              –  meno, men’-o – a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or                     expectancy):–abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand]

In the above text there are two words that are translated dwelleth as listed above.  They are quite similar in their meaning and invoke the idea that there is an ongoing or repeated action.  You will notice that the word ends with an eth ending which meant that in the original language it was either an action t that continued indefinitely or that it was an action that was repeated indefinitely.

In our modern world, we think of our will, that is what I want so our concept of Christianity is often slanted to the idea of convenience or desire.  The Bible knows nothing of that type of relationship for the Christian.  We give as it is convenient but the Bible teaches that we give 1. as we are prospered, 2. according to opportunity, 3.  the demand of necessity, and 4. as an act of faith in God.  Our service may come from duty, responsibility or desire but all too often it is because of selfish reasons rather than to deal with the old nature of sin or allow God to affect change in us.  We desire the blessing when we should desire the one who is blessing.

The concept of dwelling with God is not a duty or even a responsibility, it is a privilege and an opportunity.  It is a privilege because the infinite God desires to be with me.  It is an opportunity for me to become what I could never be without Him.  It requires us to open ourselves to him in prayer and faith.  It requires time in His word that He might speak to us about eternal things.  It requires sharing our lives with Him as He shares His life with us.  Dwelling with God is a life style not an occasional visit.

Notice that in John 6:56  that is a communion or participation together in the events of life (eating and drinking) or consuming the life of God.  The eth ending is attached to all three; eating continually, drinking continually, and dwelling continually.  Also notice in Romans 8:11 that the Holy Spirit is not only present with you continually but also is constantly quickening (making you alive) continually.  And finally, in I Corinthians 3:16 that you are the residence or dwelling of God.  The only place that will satisfy God as a residence is the heart of one who loves God back.  He loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die in our place.  Do we love Him enough to dwell with him in this life, as well as for eternity?

Our Conversation

2 Corinthians  1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

The word “conversation” is a word that has undergone change in meaning since it was originally written.  When the Bible was translated into English, the word was used to express the sum of what was done, what was said, and all of the interaction of the experience.  Today the term has been limited to only what was said so that if you read the passage as only what was said, you do not get the full of the meaning.

The above verse is one of those examples that make the understanding of the verse more difficult.  The apostle Paul is writing to the Church at Corinth, which he had established on his second missionary journey.  Later he wrote to this church in response to several important issues that they had asked him about.  Now he is writing a second letter to encourage the church and to further clarify their doctrine.

He uses the example of his own experience to clarify how a christian is to conduct themselves in their lives.  He points out that God is the one who has delivered them in the past and he is the one who is working in the present and even further, He is the one in whom Paul has placed his confidence in, to be delivered in the future.  (verse 10)

In verse 11 we see Paul pointing out that the Corinthians were also a part of Paul’s ministry in praying for them.  The Christian  walk is not a lone individual shinning like the sun, but a corroborative effort by all Christians that cause a celebration by everyone.

Now he points to his own rejoicing by saying that his own walk was one of simply focusing on God and following Him.  He point out that it was not one of “fleshly wisdom” that is present in the old nature but one of faith that follows the Spirit of God and Scriptures.  Then he makes the point that it is the grace of God that enables him to be successful in the world and especially with the Corinthians.

So many times, it is not the wonderful oratory that convinces and convicts, but it is the small things that God uses to reveal the consistency of the message.  Paul is thankful that he was dependent upon God working and not on his own wisdom.  They were the proof of God’s working.  We must place our faith in Him and not in ourselves.

Love In 4 Directions

I am sure that many of you already know about the various meanings of the word Love, in the Bible.  There is ‘eros‘ which is the physical or lustful attraction; there is the ‘phileo‘ love which is brotherly love such as a parent for a child; and there is ‘agape’ love which is the love of God that is supernatural.  Our focus today is not on what kind of love but on the agape love that is to find a home in our heart and finds it’s expression in all directions.

First, we are to Love God back with the same love that He loves us.  That means that we have no other gods that we hold in comparison to Him.  He alone is God and there is none other like Him.  Until we get to know Him we do not love Him.  The more we get to know Him, the more capable we are to love Him, for God is Love.

The next area of our love that must be developed is to love one another.  That is to love those of your family and those to whom you identify such as your church family.  This requires some stretching and maturing.  Sometimes we forget that our love for one another is not based on how we feel about the other person.  It is not based on what they do for you but on their value which is not always apparent.  Sometimes their value will not become apparent for a long time but love can’t wait till then.  They need to be loved whether or not their value has appeared.  The world will know we are Christians by our love.  Love does what is best, not what is convenient, or easiest or even by what is desired.  It is the expression of what erupts out of the heart from our concerns and understanding of the others needs.

The third direction of our love is focused toward our neighbors.  That is those to whom we have contact in our everyday living.  It includes those who cut in front of you in traffic, your fellow employees, the beggar, the down and out as well as the up and out and even your business acquaintances.  You are to love them and seek for their good.  This will take even more growing to develop a love that is ever a blessing.  Some people are not easy to love.  The negative, the critical, the depressed, the gossip, the one who never stops talking, the gossip, and on and on it goes.  These people are all hurting and need your love.  They come from all sorts of backgrounds and bad situations yet God loves them and we are to love them with His love, too.  We have to learn to live with each other yes, but it is even more important to learn to love each other.  This love will cover a multitude of sins.

Finally, we are to love our enemies.  They are the ones who are not fair or merciful.  They attack us and all we stand for.  Sometimes they are from outside our world and come at us suddenly and without cause.  Sometimes they are close to us and hurt us the deepest.  Sometimes they are cruel and sometimes they are sly.  It doesn’t matter what they attempt but what does matter is the attitude that you express when they do.  They are expecting a fight but they are not expecting your love.  These are the ones who have the least love in their lives.  They have probably endured the worst treatment, have been taught the least, had the worst examples and come from the most dysfunctional families.  They can only be won by love.  To that they will respond.  Not at first but they can be won if your love is real.  They will cost you the most and they are the hardest to convince but they are some of the most loyal and dedicated of all.  The apostle Paul comes to mind as a great example.

God is not looking to punish us but to redeem us.  He paid the ultimate price so that we might have eternal life.  To God, we are each worth more than the entirety of this world.  There are a number of tools that God will use to reach the isolated and unloved, but the greatest of them is Love.  Love is God’s chosen means of reaching the hearts of men.  So how is your love growing?  When you are loving, you are expressing the very nature of God.