Who do we “seek the best or highest good for”?

This morning’s YouVersion Bible app “Verse of the Day” is:

But love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; for your reward will be great (rich, abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High; because He Himself is kind and gracious and good to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Luke 6:35 AMP

And the second word of this verse in most English translations is “love” (ἀγαπᾶτε in the Greek that sounds like “agapao”) — which is a verb, in the present active imperative, second person plural tense. It is an instruction given by Jesus to a multitude of disciples that is also given to us.

In fact, He even explains later that all of the law and all of the words of the prophets are built upon this — “love”.

And I especially like how the Amplified version expands this out in their translation in perfect “ELI5” form (“ELI5” = “Explain like I’m 5”). With the bracketed note “[that is, unselfishly seek the best or highest good for]” that they point towards “your enemies” in the gospel way that is shocking and offensive to our ego and carnal sensibilities.

You want to hear from God? He instructs you, commands you to seek the best and highest good — not for yourself, not for those who love you, not for those who are good in your eyes, but for your enemies.

Yep, this is where the rubber meets the road, where true saving faith is revealed, where most of us must count the true cost of Discipleship. And we must truly decide whether we will lay down those heavy burdens of offense, of unforgiveness, of grudges, of longing for revenge, of accusing others, or judging others — to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. It isn’t whether we will go to church, or graduate seminary, or preach publicly, or cross streets and oceans to win religious converts, or post scripture and encouragement online. It is whether we will seek the best for them — not just hope or wish or want for these enemies the best things — but to be active in seeking it on their behalf.

Can we admit that in our flesh, that is quite unnatural?

Can we lay down our religious coverings, and instead bear naked and fully exposed the desires of our hearts — and honestly admit that “enemy” that we have been clinging to so strongly that we cannot grasp a firm hold upon the grace available to us because of the cross?

Yes, this gospel is about surrendering our own demands so that through faith in God’s plan and purpose, we can trust that love and forgiveness is the cure that we need for the disease that was killing us. Yes, it sets us free from “enemies” holding our hearts captive in unforgiveness — to us soaring and seeking the best for those same people who are beloved by God.

Are our eyes open to see that those we once deemed “enemies” are now “beloved”?

If this is a heavy burden, realize that if we measure them by what they have done, we will be measured by what we have done, and that is a long spiral down into the pit of hell. It will crush our opportunities today by taking our hearts and minds captive to a cell and shackles that only imprisons and hurts us, not them.

To know what we should do and not do it is sin, and the wages of sin is death. He says we should seek the best and highest good for them.

Decide now…

We will go out today to live amongst the world, but we mustn’t be content with living as they do, “Christian”. Let’s not take the name of the Lord in vain by claiming the name like a cheap costume at Halloween, but leaving the one call that would truly let the world see God in us and would truly give Him glory. Amen.

A Tested, Tried, and Proven Firm Foundation

I love science, physics, math and logic — because they are based on physical evidence and verifiable truths that can be proven time and time again. There is “substance” that they are based on.

And I understand how things “unseen” or that “can’t be directly verified by our senses” can very be a challenge to comprehend, much less believe.

But the extremely cool thing about what faith has done for me over time (not like a genius granting wishes immediately), is that by establishing this connection via “faith”, I have seen the physical evidence — in my life experiences, in my thoughts, in my words, in my actions, and in my circumstances — prove time and time again the verifiable truth that my God is good and that my faith has a substantial and positive impact.

Hebrews 11:1
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Love this quote:

“It is easy to mock or dismiss faith, but that’s only for those who have never truly experienced it.  For those who have experienced it, it transcends any earthly experience and makes us so certain of the Lord’s abiding presence, that we could almost reach out and lay our head on His bosom.”

A Tried Stone

https://atriedstone.wordpress.com/2021/07/16/hebrews-111-faith-is-the-subtance/comment-page-1/#comment-4667

Destroying Obstacles

We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 NLT

I remind myself that it doesn’t say “We proudly destroy every obstacle” and it doesn’t say “We destroy every proud person” but it says “We destroy every proud obstacle”.

And just like “fighting fire with fire” without any plan or understanding just creates a great bigger, raging fire — it should be clear that to destroy any “proud obstacles” that our own pride can’t be the weapon or tool used. It must be us humbling ourselves.

It should not be us trying to manipulate a way to humble “them”. It must be us submitting ourselves and humbling “ourselves”.

We must take our eyes off the person, see the actual obstacle between us, and overcome spiritual obstacles with spiritual warfare. Don’t fuel the “proud obstacle with” more of our own pride, but humble ourselves and see mountains laid low and stones rolled away.

We see our example of this in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Lord, let our faith please you, and let us receive your Holy Spirit to teach and guide and lead us in The Way, as you have promised when we believe, confess, and repent. In Your Name, Amen.

Rest

I need rest.
Not just quiet,
Not just sleep,
but rest.

Not just my body,
Not just my mind,
But my heart needs rest.

So many around me hurting,
So much loss,
So much need.

Yet I cling to hope,
Through tearful eyes,
Upon tired knees,
On this solid rock
of promise and faith.

My eyes might not see it yet,
My hands may not have felt it,
My tongue may not yet recognize
the sweet taste of victory.

But I will find rest tonight
not just because the day was hard,
but because tomorrow is a new day,
and I will make it one day at a time.

Goodnight,
And rest well my friends.

Baptism

Q: Do you have to be baptized to be saved?

A: Look to what Jesus said to the thief on the cross.

But your question may be leading and may not be asking what actually needs to be considered and asked. Words like “have to be” or “should do” create a bias in the question that is legalism instead of using words that talk about the results of a changed heart and the Word of God being written on our hearts to lead us as a new creation in a new direction that isn’t about us “living up to” or “meeting the requirements” — but is about our wanting to “give God all the glory for what He has done for us”.

Those who do not believe that God has done much for them will not love Him, will not truly worship Him, will not be publicly baptized, will not share this Good News as far and wide as they can, will not live a life that brings God glory , will not bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, etc. But those who have been forgiven much love much.

Q: What is the call given to those who have surrendered their lives to The Way and love and seek God with their whole heart?

A: Acts 2:38 says, “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

What? Repent AND be baptized

Who? every one of you

How? in the name of Jesus Christ

Why? for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

People can build logical justifications fir their rebellion based on their natural man resisting things they hear with “have to” and “should” type of wording — but understanding and believing that the Why is true — should have us excited about the What, the Who, and the How.

God bless you, friends!

The Worker

The worker who is careless with their tasks and idle with their time is poor and brings poverty to their people,
While another worker’s diligence, resourcefulness, and efficiency makes himself and others rich.

This is even more true of their hearts and lives than their material wealth.

Be purposeful and drive forward with an intent to do great work — because diligence itself is an even greater reward than the honor, title, or compensation it might gain you.

Be attentive to opportunities, to lessons learned, and to solutions — because resourcefulness is an even greater reward than the honor, title, or compensation it might gain you.

Be mindful of your time and how your efforts might be maximized through sorting, prioritization, automation and delegation– because efficiency is an even greater reward than the honor, title, or compensation it might gain you.

Instead of seeking honor, title, compensation, or even a good reputation from others, focus on building for yourself a life of character — and those lesser things will follow.

Poor is he who works with a negligent and idle hand, But the hand of the diligent makes him rich.
Pro 10:4 AMP

“Grit”

Integrity is not only doing the right thing when no one is looking — but it is doing the right thing when those who oppose you are looking and it will cost you more than you want to pay.

In the Old Testament Bible, Daniel didn’t make a big show of his own integrity, but his integrity was so much a part of his character — that those who hated him and wanted to usurp him knew that his integrity was the only guaranteed way that they could trap him. So they laid their plans in place for their trap, but the lions that they expected to kill him destroyed and devoured them and their families instead.

Lord, that enemy that roams around like a lion looking for someone to devour, may his mouth be shut towards your children who walk in integrity even when the cost is high — and may his mouth be open to devour and destroy those who make schemes, plot against and hate those who stand firm and true.

Many times I have failed you Lord, but I pray that I will never be found laying traps for the innocent and the upright intentionally. I pray that when my ignorance and foolishness has stumbled others that it was through my own negligence and not anything malicious or with evil intent.

But I do not even trust my own heart to have not deceived me in such things, Lord. Because there are those who I believe have wronged me, and treated me unfairly, and accused me strongly — those who my flesh cries out against them for justice, for retribution, for revenge — those who nevertheless, I must hand over to you in hopes that they might repent.

Even a man who wishes for “satisfaction” in this life has no longing for his enemy to face death, hell and eternal separation from God. And if I can wish that the whole of a man’s sin be forgiven to save him from the wrath of God, shouldn’t I also wish that his few wrongs towards me personally be forgiven? How prideful would it be to believe that another man’s sins towards me were worthy of lasting bitterness — but his sins against God were somehow “less” concern to me?

So integrity is also laying down our “rightful claims” against our enemies to pray for their salvation rather than their destruction — choosing to be a witness giving the benefit of doubt to our neighbor, rather than an accuser and and enemy of our brothers and sisters.

So if I cry out for justice, let it be against those powers and principalities working from the shadows against your people, Lord. Let me cry out against those enemies that are not flesh and blood and see those true enemies shackled and defeated — while the once captive children of God are set “free indeed” in Christ Jesus!

So, Lord, help us to walk in integrity — with little thought to reward, cost, or revenge — but trusting that you know better than we do when and how to open and shut the mouths of the lions. Amen.

People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.
Proverbs 10:9 NLT

Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich.
Proverbs 28:6 NLT

13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!
1 Peter 3:13‭-‬17 NLT

3 Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. 4 Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. 5 So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.”
Daniel 6:3‭-‬5 NLT

9 So King Darius signed the law. 10 But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. 11 Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help. 13 Then they told the king, “That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is ignoring you and your law. He still prays to his God three times a day.” 14 Hearing this, the king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament. 15 In the evening the men went together to the king and said, “Your Majesty, you know that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed.” 16 So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night. 19 Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. 20 When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” 21 Daniel answered, “Long live the king! 22 My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” 23 The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God. 24 Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused Daniel. He had them thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before they even hit the floor of the den. 25 Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! 26 “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. 27 He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
Daniel 6:9‭-‬11‭, ‬13‭-‬28 NLT

Wisdom is Living, not just Knowing

What if our life’s example (not just our words):

— teaches people to live disciplined and successful lives

— helps them do what is right, just, and fair

#MeaningfulGoals #Proverbs1_3 #WalkTheLivingWord

We aren’t going to get it perfect every time, but if we don’t aim for the target, we are guaranteed to miss.

Our decisions, our words, and our actions today will not only bring us personal consequences, but they will influence lives around us — and leave the world “changed”.

You are a “world changer” with everything you do.

What change are you bringing today?

These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:1‭-‬7 NLT ( https://bible.com/bible/116/pro.1.1-7.NLT )

“Little Things”

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
Matthew 13:31‭-‬32 NLT

You never know when doing right that “one small thing that matters” can leave a bigger impact than you’d ever imagine.

Little Seed, Big Potential

Listening to Mia tell me about the moments that mean the most to her, and reflecting to my dad the things that he has done for me that mattered deeply, and realizing how much I appreciate my wife for things like another full pitcher of tea magically showing up in the refrigerator — reminds me how important “little things” are in the “grand scheme” of life.

I also think about Paul writing good, loving pastoral advice in a personal letter to his friend Timothy (by way of the Holy Spirit) — versus Paul trying to write a book to live alongside the Pentateuch for all of eternity in a book bound up and marked as holy by the largest and most wide spread of religious institutions of the future.

Don’t fret or be anxious about whether or not your life has made a sufficient impact “so far” — just realize the opportunity that you are going to have with “every little moment” to come. Our passion is the fuel that lights lasting flames, not our striving.

What are you passionate about?

What “little thing” could I do today to encourage, honor or appreciate someone else?

Put that passion to work in one extra “little thing” today!

Commit your actions to the Lord , and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3 NLT

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
Luke 16:10 NLT

He Knows My Name

I realize that someone might think it quite very proud of anyone to proclaim that “God knows me by name” — almost as if they were implying “God knows me but He doesn’t know you, so I’m better.” I can assure you, that is not the attitude of this song, my worship, or the attitude of anyone who truly knows God and is known by God. This is not a song of proud exclusion or self glorification — but one of utter awe and wonder that the creator or all cares about “even me” and “even you”. It is a declaration that the God of all the universe and all of creation is not a deadbeat, absentee father.

I’m not a professional artist like Tasha Combs who brought us “You Know My Name”, but these are the best ashes I can bring to the altar:


And you can hear this amazing performance by Tasha here:

Get Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s Latest Album Here: https://TCLeonard.lnk.to/HPPLiveYD Subscribe to Tasha Cobb Leonard’s Official YouTube Channel: https://TCLeonard.lnk.to/SubscribeYD See Tasha on the Bethel Tour! Get tickets now: https://TCLeonard.lnk.to/BethelTour Get Tasha’s latest single “This Is a Move” here: https://TCLeonard.lnk.to/ThisIsAMoveYD Connect with Tasha: Twitter: https://twitter.com/tashacobbs Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tashacobbsl… Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTash… Website: http://tashacobbs.org


https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.43.1-13.NLT

Isaiah 43:1‭-‬13 NLT:

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord , your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west. I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth. Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’” Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. Gather the nations together! Assemble the peoples of the world! Which of their idols has ever foretold such things? Which can predict what will happen tomorrow? Where are the witnesses of such predictions? Who can verify that they spoke the truth? “But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the Lord . “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be. I, yes I, am the Lord , and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the Lord . “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.”

This past year has been a challenge for me, but I’m so encouraged that He knows me not just by name, but intimately and personally. And I know this assurance is available for everyone who seeks Him humbly and earnestly.