April 2005

Our goal is to affect the way you see God. We intend to reach the lost, the backslidden, the unchurched and the unproductive, and make them whole through the love of God, thereby launching them into productive, personal service. Our desire is to always have others feel loved, and to help them understand that God loves them.

How Do You See God?

How we see God affects the way we see and react with others. If we see God as creating us in His image, we will value the life of one another. If we perceive God as judgmental and always angry, we will reflect a critical heart. If we know and perceive God as love, we will reflect His love to those around us. Mother Teresa said that the greatest disease of mankind is the absence of love. She hit the nail right on the head.

This may sound over simplistic, but how I see you is a reflection of how I perceive God and His love for me. If my heart is filled with God's love, I will love you unconditionally. Conversely, King Solomon said: "He who has a crooked heart finds no good.1 If our hearts are crooked and twisted by sin, we will see only the bad in others. If your god is evolution, thinking mankind is derived from an animal, you may be helplessly treating others in a very self-gratifying manner. In other words, if you believe man evolved from monkeys; your way of looking at human issues (the need to provide for the poor, the need to take care of the sick and injured, aborting rights, the goal of an education system, for example), could be different than if you believe man was created "a little lower than the angels" by a loving God. 2 if you don't believe in God, it is impossible for you to have anything other than self-gratifying relationships with those around you.

It is extremely important for you to see God as love. For this to happen, there must be a change of heart to receive God's love. This is called repentance, from the Greek word metanoia, which is a radical turning from our sin; our selfish way of thinking to God's self-sacrificial way of love. The sinner must repent before he can become the recipient of God's love by grace through faith. 3

Our Misconceptions

Our minds can be filled with many misconceptions. I grew up never really understanding my parent's faith in Christ. I did not understand that His sacrifice on the Cross was a display of God's love. I was ignorant of spiritual things, hopelessly confused. My closed mind was full of darkness. I was far away from the life of God because I had shut my mind and hardened my heart against God. I didn't care anymore about right and wrong. I had given myself over to immoral ways. My life was filled with all kinds of impurity and greed. 4 My parents loved me deeply, but I still did not know how to receive their love. In selfishness, I was looking for love in all the wrong places.

After God changed my heart, I became aware of the many kinds of love, all described by different Greek words: (Excerpts from James P. Gills, M.D. and the book The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis).

Epithumia is an earnest desire, impulse and lust. In a positive sense, married couples desire to unite sexually. But in a negative sense, it can be a passionate desire for forbidden pleasure, which consumes, controls and devastates individuals and society.

Eros is the sensual, romantic erotic love between male and female, which Cupid has grown to represent in our culture. This love is to only be consummated sexually between married couples.

Phileo is an ardent affection and feeling, absent sexual motivation, between people who are physically or spiritually related to each other -- brotherly or sisterly love.

Storge is affection; the glue holding the other loves together; the medium by which they operate; the humblest love and appreciation for God and others expressed with thanksgiving for their works; to respect, serve, help, care for and encourage others; the framework in which agape love is expressed daily in our response to God's love; family love.

Agape is divine love, the God kind of love. It is unconditional; a self-sacrificial love from the nature of God living in the born-again believer flowing out to others. 5 We are called not only to love our neighbor with this love, but also our enemy. 6 It has been said that it is like oil to the wheels of obedience that never fails, but always flourishes.

This God kind of love is absent from every heart that does not know God through Jesus Christ. The lack of God's love leaves a person open to substituting almost anything in place of it. Because of the absence of God's love; the world, the flesh and the devil are allowed to destroy many souls. When we believe and receive Calvary's love where Jesus Christ became the sacrifice for our sin, defeated the devil and rose from the dead, His love takes up residence in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. We become born of God, victors over unbelief, fear and lust, which are no longer able to reign in our lives. 7 Instead, the Lord opens our eyes to righteousness, peace and joy, where we begin to live by grace the life of the new man. 8

The Lord Opens Our Eyes

I came off San Quentin's death row in 1972. For two years, I pacified myself with hobby craft and my prison job. I had no peace, and felt a void in my life. Those who knew Christ reached out to me, telling me of God's love. The goodness of God led me to repentance. 9 This gift of repentance is an inward change produced by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit as the Word of God is proclaimed. By faith, I received Christ's sacrifice for my sin. He took my guilt and judgment upon Himself and gave me His righteousness as a free gift. Only then did peace and joy fill my heart, 10

After Jesus healed the blind man in John, Chapter 9, the blind man said, "... one thing I know: I was blind, but now I can see!11 The Lord opened my eyes and gave me an eagerness to be changed to His way of thinking. As faith increased in my heart, my gaze turned solely towards God as my Heavenly Father. I learned how to experience His unconditional love by resting in His arms. He gave me an entirely new prospective on life. I began to experience His creative power flowing through my life, giving me new desires and abilities.

The deep secrets of the Lord are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. 12 Long ago, even before God made the world, He loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. 13 The prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Spirit of the LORD would rest upon Jesus to bring God's plan to pass. The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the reverence of the LORD. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins. 14 The Apostle John reveals these qualities as the seven-fold Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth to empower us with His love from the beginning of creation throughout eternity. 15

The Lord desires to open our eyes to who He is so we will see His divine-love plan as the only reality for life. Jesus said that it is best for you that I go to the Cross, because if I don't, the Counselor [the Holy Spirit] won't come. If I do go away, He will come because I will send Him to you. He will convince the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and the coming judgment. The world's sin is unbelief in Me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no more. Judgment will come because the prince of this world [Satan] has already been judged. 16 Oh, what a powerful expression of love!

How Is Your Love?

We all learn what love is like by those who we grow up around. We reflect the love that has been planted in our hearts. If we grew up around a lot of hugs and kisses, with much positive affirmation, most likely we will reflect the same. We pass to others what has been passed to us from one generation to another, through an exchange of love.

We are motivated by love, to love. If we have not known love, we are not motivated to love. But regardless what fervency of love we have experienced from others, we know that real love is exemplified by Christ, Who gave up His life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters. 17

I recently reread A. W. Tozer's book, The Pursuit of God. I felt led to memorize this quote from his book: "The continuous and unhindered interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man or woman is the throbbing heart of New Testament belief." I've experienced this continuous interchange of love between God and me, which has changed my life. I pray that you will come to know the same.

As we come to know God's great love, we are motivated to love those around us with God's love. The Apostle John says it is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord. If our conscience is clear, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive whatever we request because we obey him and do the things that please him. 18

This Is God's Promise

This God kind of love not only empowers us to be able to love, but enables us to receive answers to our prayers. Jesus says, "if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, so you will be my disciples.19

We are His disciples, and He promises us: "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you, abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide. in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.20

In His love, Jesus says: "You did not chose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.21 As we do, we will see His miraculous power working through us -- His love.

A PRAYER FOR YOU:

O God, I have tasted Your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of Your grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. 0 God, I want to know You! Show me Your glory; I pray that so I may know You indeed. Begin in mercy, a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow You up from this worldly lowland where I have wondered so long. In Jesus' name. Amen. 22

Footnotes:

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Pro. 17:20a
Psa. 8:4-5
Eph. 2:4-9; Gal. 5:6
Eph. 4:17-19
Rom. 5:5
Matt. 5:43-44
John 4:7-19
Rom. 5:17
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Rom. 2:4
Rom. 14:17
John 9:25
1 Cor. 2:10
Eph. 1:4-5
Isa. 11:1-5
Rev. 4:5; 5:6
John 16-7-11
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1 John 3:16
1 John 3:19, 21-22
John 15:7-8
John 15:9-13
John 15: 16-17
A.W. Tozer

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