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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Love Never Fails

1 Corinthians 13 : 4 - 8, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. NIV

The Word of God warns us not to place confidence in the flesh of man. We are also taught that we should be wise as a serpent, yet remain harmless like a dove. It's easy to recognize a serpent in the natural; nevertheless, it can be very difficult to have the discernment needed to recognize one in the heart of a person. When we care about a person, and they fail us, it can injure us. Therefore, we need to use our wisdom and our ability to discern people's character so that we're not blinded by their charisma and end up hurt. We must view people as God sees them. He knows that we're flesh, and we have weaknesses. Nevertheless, in spite of our weaknesses and flaws, He chooses to love us. 

Several times in the gospels the writers mention a time when Jesus knew what was in people's hearts. He knew when they were trying to manipulate and play Him. Even though the religious zealots of His day tried to entrap and falsely accuse Jesus, He would always see through their smoke-screens and ploys. Jesus discerned the hearts of men and knew what was really under their false pretenses. He wasn't moved by their accolades, nor was He tempted to buy into their praises of Him. The same people who shouted, "Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord," were found later that week shouting, "Away with Him, crucify Him."

We can learn something about discerning the character of people from the teachings of Jesus that will prevent us from being vulnerable to their charisma. God told the Prophet Samuel that He didn't see as man sees... for man looks on the outward appearance; however, He looks at men's hearts. Therefore, we should be focused like Jesus on a person's actions and on how they align them with the words of their mouth more so than just their ability to charm us. Love doesn't need a fan-fair; however, charisma demands it. The Lord recently revealed something to me about the principle of charisma versus character in a clearer way than I have seen it before.  

If you read Numbers 20, you will see that God commanded Moses to speak to the rock so that the children of Israel would have water to drink in the wilderness. Previously, however, God had instructed Moses to smite the rock... but this time, He told him to speak to the rock. When Moses and Aaron stood before the congregation to carry out God's command and bring forth water, Moses decided to disobey God's command, and he struck the rock with his rod. Immediately, the rock brought forth water, and the people began to drink from the rock. Wait! Did you catch what I just wrote? Moses disobeyed God's command, yet water still came out of the rock. The people viewed Moses as a "Miracle worker" and a "Mighty man of great power." However, God's view of the situation was that Moses had refused to believe Him and had brought dishonor to God's name before the people. Only when we obey God's commands will we be able to bring honor to His name. When we disobey God, we might get results; nonetheless, those results won't honor His name, even though they might meet our present needs. We must be careful that those we choose to follow honor the name of the Lord with their character; we must not just be concerned about our needs being met.

Because Moses chose to operate in unbelief by disobeying God's command, God told him that he wouldn't be allowed to lead His people into the Promised Land. You see; without faith, Moses couldn't please God, nor could He be allowed to enter God's rest. The moment Moses decided to disobey, he also stopped walking by faith and was no longer able to lead God's people. Was God impressed with Moses' power to get water from the rock? No! God doesn't buy into man's abilities, charisma, or charm; He seeks those who will worship Him in Spirit and truth. If you read Matthew 7, you will see where Jesus is teaching on the coming Judgment Day. In that chapter, he tells us that many will come to Him demanding He let them enter into His rest because of the "great miracles" they had performed while on the earth. At which point, He will tell them, "I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practiced lawless deeds." Just like Moses, who could get water from a rock even though he had disobeyed God, there will be many who have used God's anointing and Jesus' name to get results, but they won't be able to enter into the Promised Land (heaven) because of their unbelief.  Please note that Jesus called their self-proclaimed "great works" acts of rebellion. God is looking for leaders who will obey Him and His Word with their hearts. As God's people, we should settle for nothing less. However, if we choose the wrong path, we will get what we deserve and what we settled for. In that same chapter in Matthew, Jesus tells us that we will know false prophets by their fruit, or the lack thereof. Don't be impressed by people's ability to get results, but rather be fruit inspectors. This could very well keep you from getting bit by a serpent and from becoming poisoned by their seductive lies.  

Fruit and Not Fluff,
Pastor Asa Dockery

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