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Monday, August 8, 2011

The Land of God's Love and Promise

The snow-capped mountains melt and their waters flow down to the valleys to bring water for life and growth. The Anointed Word does the same. God used snow to speak of the cleansing of a sinner bought with the blood of Jesus in Isaiah. Rivers of living water flow from the mountains (high places) to the valleys (low places) making the earth rich with life. It is the waters of the Holy Spirit and Word that will touch our low places and lift us up to the heavenly place.

We are in the wilderness of earth. Sometimes we are in a valley and sometimes we are on a mountaintop. Sometimes we are in a desert worn out from the heat of the enemy and the trials of life. It is here that the devil may play tricks with you. You will have a choice to make. Will you fall for the devil’s schemes or will you hold onto God for strength and direction? Will wandering, fear, impatience and unbelief take over or will you keep your eyes focused upon the mighty power of God to save and direct your steps? You will make a stand for one or fall for the other! God used the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites to test their faith and trust in Him. God wanted the Israelites to experience the fullness of His land of love and promise. He must strengthen them to face the giants in the Land. There was also giant fruit (abundant blessing) in the Land.

Jesus is the “lily of the valley.” He blooms and blossoms in the valley. Most lilies are white with gold in the center. Jesus is the only pure (white) one with a Divine (golden) heart--pure love. It is in our valleys that we can trust Him to bring us to bloom and blossom also. (mature)

It was in the valley that David slew the giant Goliath. Just as David had to slay the giant in the valley, there will be giants for believers to deal with in the valley. Giants (sins) will have to be rendered lame and put to death.

Goliath was loud and boisterous against God’s people. He was also huge--so huge that he rendered God’s people paralyzed by fear. They were afraid to come against him. His lies and intimidation had won. But along came David who had faith in the God of Israel to slay this giant and set His people free. David was just a shepherd boy who tended his father’s flocks. He was sent by his father to check on his brothers who were in the battlefield. David is a picture of Jesus, the Good, Great and Chief Shepherd, who was sent by the Father to check on His people who were in the battlefield of life. David was a shepherd in his father’s field who tended and protected his father’s flock, but he eventually became a conquering King with a Kingdom. This is a picture of Jesus in His first coming and His second coming. As God rendered the giant Goliath lame by directing David’s stone to his forehead, Jesus rendered the spiritual giant Satan lame at the cross. He will finish the job when He comes again to complete the atonement and restoration of the heavens and the earth. Satan’s authority will then be cut off and he will be destroyed forever. In the meantime, humans are in the spiritual battlefield of earth trying to render Satan’s schemes and ploys lame. Our spiritual battle begins in our mind (thoughts). We must render Satan lame in our minds so we don’t put his lies and sin into action!

God had prepared the land of milk and honey (love and promise) for His people, but there were giants in the Land! Milk and honey symbolize the pure, sweet Word of God. God will use His powerful Word to help us enter into His Land of love and promise. It is the Word anointed by the Holy Spirit that will defeat the devil and his ploys. Jesus illustrated this when He was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. Jesus spoke the Truth of His Word against the devil's lies. God also used the story of David and Goliath to teach us how to defeat the devil. The greater the giants that we defeat, the greater the blessing of God. David used a “smooth stone” to fling at the giant Goliath. Smooth stones have been in the water a long time. These stones have been tumbled and tossed in the water until all of their rough edges have been washed off preparing them to hit their target. A rough, ragged stone would bobble and miss its mark, but not a smooth stone thrown in the right direction by a follower of God at the Enemy of our souls! Jesus wants to wash us with His Anointed Word and make us weapons of use against the wiles of the devil.

What lies has the enemy (giant) told you? “You’ll never get married.” “Your aim is too high.” “You aren’t capable of having a fulfilling love relationship.” “You’re too fat or too thin.” “You expect too much.” “If only your personality were different.” “If only you would dress differently or act differently or speak differently or eat differently or walk differently or any other “if only” we can come up with. These are the devil’s tools to discourage and defeat God’s people.

God has prepared the land of love for us. Love is His highest aim for us. He showed us love through His precious Son Jesus who has promised to love us for all eternity. He will never walk away from us like people do. He sees all of our flaws, accepts us and wants to lovingly stretch us and help us to grow into His love and image. Jesus wants to love our sins out of us so we can experience the fullness of His love and give it to others. Love by its very essence is sacrificial, patient, kind, long-suffering, gentle, good, faithful and everlasting.

Jesus on the cross showed us that love would require sacrifice and putting our flesh to death, so His life and love would live in and through us. Jesus denied Himself, took up His cross and laid His flesh life down for us willingly and fully. He took up God’s all-encompassing, spiritual, pure love for all of us. He did this to show us the depth and height of His and His Father‘s love for us. God wanted us to feel His heartbeat of love for us through His Son’s willingness to suffer and die for us. God is love. To know God, we must know love. It is only in God’s land of love that you discover the complete richness of His character and the character He wants to develop in you. It is only in this place that you will understand the extent of His love for you and the love that He wants you to give to others. You will never understand love that strong until you have given it yourself. It is a love that transforms. One transformed life changes other lives and gives glory to the Father. This was Jesus’ goal and it is to be our goal.

Obviously, the enemy doesn’t want us to reach our goal so he will place “giants” in our way. Like David, look your soul’s giants in the face and slay them by the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit. God was with David and directed the stone that hit Goliath in the head and rendered him lame. Then David finished the job by cutting off Goliath’s head with the sword. It is the rock Jesus that rendered the Enemy (Satan) lame at the cross. Jesus had given us the sword of His Word and His Holy Spirit to cut off Satan’s head (authority against us). As God helped David by directing the stone to its proper target, God will also be with you to help you and give you strength against the giants that come against you. God through Jesus gave us all we need to slay the Enemy of our souls and let His love and grace flow from us.

It is important to note that when the Israelites went into the Land of God’s promise they expected everything to be easy and painless. They didn’t want to have to face off with the giants who came against them. The Israelites even wanted to shrink back and settle for the leeks, onions etc. of Egypt. Allowing God to conquer the Land of our hearts and fill them with His holy, sacrificial love is not easy or painless. Jesus illustrated this to us on the cross of suffering. The Bible says that Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered. A smooth path doesn’t make us grow in His love and love for one another. God wants to put our love-threatening habits to death so we can enter into the fullness of His love and give that love to another.

The Land of God’s love and promise is a place of commitment. “I” must become “us.” It is a place of total surrender and responsibility. It is a place of trials and tests, a place of giving and receiving, a place of wrestling with some personal giants. It is a place of dependency upon God. It is the place of challenge and sacrifice. It is a Land worth fighting for! It is seeing the fruit of Jesus’ life and allowing that fruit to grow in you….becoming more like Him everyday. Jesus exhibits the fruit of the Holy Spirit in its perfection as He deals with us. He wants us to know Him in such a way that we will gain the same fruit and give it to others. This fruit is the fruit of the Land of God's Promise. The fruit of the Land God gave the Israelites had large fruit that had to be carried by two men. This fruit represents the fullness of the fruit of the Holy Spirit that we are to carry two by two to others. This fruit doesn’t just grow without any effort on our part. Something has to feed the roots in order to produce the fruit of the Spirit. It is defeating our giants in the land of our hearts that brings that holy fruit into our hearts and spirits in its fullness. God has to remove the garbage and feed our hearts with the Anointed Word so this holy fruit can grow. Don’t settle for the vegetation in the land of Egypt (world) when God has an abundance of fruit and love ready for you. All He needs for you to receive it is your faith in Him, your willingness and your cooperation.

Love must be the foundation of all of our relationships, coupled with continued spiritual growth. It is the foundation of love, commitment and spiritual growth that will weather any storm in any relationship. Jesus will never walk away from you but instead will carry you tenderly through the storm until you reach the other side, closer to your Land of love and promise. He is relentless in His pursuit of you and His desire that you truly know Him and the extent of His love so you can share it with others. His love is relentless and our love for one another should be relentless. We should challenge each other to grow in His love and the fullness of all that Jesus died for, as Jesus challenges and stretches us. We shouldn’t be satisfied with the crumbs when He has an abundant banquet for us. It is in losing our “self” that we gain our “self” in the fullness of the life of Jesus in us. To God, death is life and love! The cross of Jesus is the ultimate picture of this.

Allow God to balance your reality so you see Jesus and His love. Thankfully, God isn’t in the business of discarding us even though He sees us as we truly are. He also doesn’t allow us to use the fact that we are “human” to excuse our sin. Instead, He lovingly, with the fruit of His Holy Spirit, takes us through His transforming process so we may know Him and the power of His love and resurrection. Jesus wants to resurrect our sinful nature into His nature. He is a confrontational God who is zealous and jealous for our love. He wants us to experience the real deal -- love as only He can give. The first Man and Woman were created by God holy and perfect. God is in the business of recreating us into that image with the help of His Holy Spirit, Word and others He has set into our life so we too can experience love in its fullness. May we allow His transforming love to love us out of our “self” and into His heart and the hearts of others. God has far greater things for you than you could ever give to yourself. Trust Him and allow His loving Hand to shape and form you into His image and likeness with the power of His love in your heart.

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