Proverbs 10:12 (NKJV) Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.
It is Valentines Week and so many people are talking about love. There was a time when I could not stand all the mushy gushy stuff going on during this time of year. The reason for my aversion is that it seemed so fake and put on. What about the day after Valentines, a month later or six months later, how will you treat your “loved one” then? What I have observed and been a recipient of most of my life is Conditional Love.
Conditional Love is not really love at all. “I love today because you make me happy…” Who wants or desires that kind of love? God loved us while we were yet in our sin, daily disappointing Him, consistently choosing to walk after our own desires – never seeking His direction. It cannot be found in His Word – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him begging for forgiveness and groveling for the rest of their earthly lives for all the sins they previously committed will have everlasting life.” No – God freely gave His Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Now that is Unconditional Love! (read John 3:16)
Because I have experienced God’s Unconditional Love and have grown in His grace, mercy and forgiveness I choose to live in His Love– I prayed, “Lord Jesus, Open my eyes that I may see everyone I meet through Your Blood. My brothers and sisters have not arrived in heaven yet, I need Your help. Let me see what You see when You look down upon each of us. Let me look through Your Blood Covered Glasses of love…”
Last month I shared a little of my testimony in my writing “Set Free From Self-Imprisonment” many have written in asking questions or sharing how my testimony encouraged them. I have been blessed by your letters, thank you as it was difficult for me to share – I actually had my husband read it before I posted it online or added it to our Warrior Bride Series.
At the end of the writing I shared a scripture passage that I desire to be walked out daily in my life which talks about “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them…” in Romans 12:9-21.
Each day as we reach out to men and women, who have been impacted by incarceration, we are asked questions about convictions, sentences, etc. My heart becomes grieved as I hear good meaning Christians asking if our ministry supports those convicted of murder or sex-crimes because they personally believe that those sins are worse than robbery, assault and the like. When asked if Jesus only died for certain types of sins – they back up and say, “Well of course not”. Because our justice system measures some crimes heavier than others from parole sentencing to life to death-row, we here in the church carry this worldly system with us after we become believers.
Others ask when we meet, “I understand that you are a minister, but what did Jesus save you from?” I have yet to understand this type of questioning. Will it help you in your walk with Christ if I bring out the list of all the sins that I am aware of in my past? What about all of the sins of omission – where I did not love my neighbor or visit the sick or those in prison?
The Bible clearly tells us: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” in Romans 3:23. The word “all” in Greek when we look it up means “all” in English; each and every one of us are born into this world sinners. This is the reason we all need a Savior and His name is Jesus Christ.
I have been praying and asking for the Lord to give me help on this matter because at times I feel my flesh burning with anger. Some of you may be surprised but I am being transparent here today. I am trying to share about the Love of Christ and how Awesome He is, yet people want to focus about when I was in darkness.
Yes I understand that we overcome by the word of our testimony and the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 12:11) However that is not what saves us – Jesus alone saves us. We are not to glory in our past life of sin. We are now new creatures in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is almost like people want to know how I myself or others are “qualified” or not to be a minister of the Good News or a Christian by taking note of past experience in sin.
I believe the Lord lead me to read about Saul of Tarsus who became the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts – to see about this same type of behavior in the early church.
Acts 9:1-31 New Living Translation (NLT)
9 Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. 2 He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.
3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! 6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! 8 Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. 9 He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.
10 Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord!” he replied.
11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”
13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14 And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”
15 But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19 Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.
Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. 20 And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”
21 All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”
22 Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. 23 After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. 24 They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. 25 So during the night, some of the other believerslowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall.
26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! 27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.
28 So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they tried to murder him. 30 When the believers heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown.
31 The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.
In reading this passage several things jumped out at me. In this whole passage the emphasis is on Jesus not Saul with a list of his sins against Christ. Man is not the emphasis, nor the sins committed – Jesus is to be the focus at all times.
- Verse 4 – Jesus calls out to Saul
- Verse 5 – Saul asks who is speaking to him
- Verse 5 & 6 – Jesus identifies Himself
- Verse 10-12 – Jesus speaks to His servant Ananias
- Verse 13-14 – Ananias voices his concerns about Saul’s sins
- Verse 15 – 16 – Jesus speaks of His calling upon Saul’s life – never mentioning past sins
- Verse 17-18 – Ananias obeys Jesus’ instructions
- Verse 20 – Saul began preaching about Jesus being the Son of God
- Verse 26-27 – God gave Saul another witness to his conversion in Barnabas as he shared with the apostles about Saul preaching about Jesus Christ.
- Verse 28 – Saul continues to preach boldly in the name of the Lord
Bottom line – Jesus Christ – The Good News that He was born, lived among us, died on a Cross and conquered death, hell and the grave so that we could have eternal life is the real story! Because He died for me, now I have been made righteous and you can be too!
The next statement that is spoken many times – “I’m not judging I just want to know who you were.” However what I see in scripture over and over are the Disciples who became Apostles telling of Jesus Christ and what He can do for you and me.
- I don’t see any of them telling of how they denied Christ the night/day of His Crucifixion.
- I don’t see any of them glorying in their lives before Christ called them to follow Him.
- All I see them talking about is Jesus Christ the Son of God who came to give life more abundantly!
Are you having trouble still? Do you want to know if someone is indeed a Christian? Check the fruit of the tree. How do we know that fruit inspection is ok to verify the type of tree? Jesus Himself told us in Matthew Chapter 7 what to look for.
Matthew 7:15-23 New Living Translation (NLT)
15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
More scripture on fruit inspection – A Tree of Righteousness exhibits Fruit of the Spirit which can be found in:
Galatians 5:22-26 New Living Translation (NLT)
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Now I see so much clearer, by wearing His Blood Covered Glasses. I should see Christ living, moving and breathing in the life of every believer. The glasses do not distort the truth – they reflect God’s Truth. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Light of Christ shining from the inside out!
So from now on when asked – “How do you know so-n-so is a Christian?” I can say – “Let’s inspect the fruit and see if we can see, smell, touch and taste Jesus!”
Bring on Valentine’s Day, Bring on Every Day – I have been blessed with God’s Unconditional Love and I desire to wade out into His Love daily as I go fruit inspecting, Jesus Style!
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Sincerely Warrior Bride of Christ,
Mrs. Donnie W. Ojemann,
All I am, All For HIM!
February 13, 2014