DO YOU LOVE ME?

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”  John 21:15-19 NKJV

 

After the resurrection Jesus had a conversation with Peter in which He asked him if he loved Him. To understand exactly what Jesus meant and why Peter became upset at the question, you must look back to the words in the original language, Greek. In English, we have one word: love. In Greek there are more words: phileo and agape are two of them and they have different meanings. The Amplified Bible renders it this way: phileo is a deep, instinctive, personal affection for someone, as for a close friend, and agape is a reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father. Phileo is a human love, but agape comes directly from the Father.

 

Two times Jesus asked Peter if he loved (agape) Him (with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father), but Peter replied with a different word. He told Jesus that he loved (phileo) Him (with a deep, instinctive, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend). Then Jesus changed His question and asked if Peter loved (phileo) Him (with a deep, instinctive, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend) and Peter told Him, “You know I love (phileo) You (with a deep, instinctive, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend).”

 

Phileo is a friendship type of love based on the characters of the two people involved – the higher the character, the higher the quality of the friendship. This love is dependant on the person being loved. You can have this love for a friend or a family member. Husbands and wives can love each other many different ways, including as friends. Agape is the God-kind of love. The quality of agape is not based on the person being loved, but on the person doing the loving. It is a love that chooses to love in spite of the other person, not because of them. Agape love sees other people as valuable and precious whether they are or not. Jesus loved us – He saw us as so valuable and precious – that He was prepared to sacrifice His life for us even though we were dirty, rotten sinners!

 

He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God loved us so [very much], we also ought to love one another.  1 John 4:8-11 AMP

 

The essence of agape love is that God loved us first. We were totally incapable of loving Him appropriately until He first loved us, died for us, resurrected us to new life and placed His love in our hearts. Romans 5:5 AMP says that God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. We can only love God or anyone else with agape love when we have received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The more of His Spirit we have in our lives, the more love will be poured out in our hearts.

 

Peter was upset at these three questions that Jesus asked, because he really did not know how to love Jesus with agape love before he was born again and filled with the Spirit, but on the day of Pentecost all that changed! When the Holy Spirit fell on Peter, he was radically changed. Instantly, he stepped into his calling and began his ministry. With the love of God and the boldness of the Holy Spirit in his heart, he went forth to feed Jesus’ sheep and His lambs. God’s love has been shed abroad in our hearts. Let us love Him enough – with a reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion – to love others, as He wants us to, and let us love Him enough to go ahead and fulfill the call of God on our lives!

 

TO THE ANGEL IN PERGAMUM

Revelation 2:12-17 NIV

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

 

These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.

13 I know where you live-where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city-where Satan lives.

 

14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.

 

15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

 

16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

 

17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

 

Pergamum was situated in Teuthrania in Mysia, in the Caicus Valley, about fifty-five miles north-east of Smyrna. It was in a district watered by three rivers, one of which flowed into the sea. The original city was built on a lofty hill, which afterward became the citadel as houses sprang up around its base.

 

It was a great political and religious center. Eumenes II (B.C. 197-159) extended Pergamum and embellished it with many great buildings, including a fantastic library with 200,000 volumes, which was second only to Alexandria. The kingdom of Pergamum became a Roman province 130 BC. All the main roads of Western Asia converged there. Pliny called it “by far the most illustrious city of Asia.”

 

Pergamum was celebrated for the manufacture of ointments, pottery, tapestries, and also parchment, which derives its name (charta Pergamena) from the city. The great glory of the city was the Nicephorium, a grove of great beauty containing an assemblage of temples – belonging to Zeus, Athena, and Dionysos – rivaling Ephesus. Next to this was the celebrated and much-frequented grove and temple of AEsculapius (or Asklepios), the god of healing, with a university for medical study. AEsculapius was also called the god of Pergamum, worshipped in the form of a living serpent, kept and fed in the temple. On the coins struck by the town, he often appears with a rod encircled by a serpent.

 

The city has been described as a sort of cross between a pagan cathedral-city, a university-town, and a royal residence. It was enlarged and improved during a succession of years by several wealthy kings.

 

Pergamum was the first city in Asia (A.D. 29) with a temple for the worship of Augustus (Octavius Caesar). Hence, in the Apocalypse, Pergamum is a very center of emperor-worship “where Satan dwells.” The Nicolaitans also flourished here as in Ephesus and Thyatira. Like Ephesus, this city is called temple-sweeper (neookoros) for the gods. All forms of pagan ungodliness prevailed openly in this city.

 

In Numbers, chapters 22 through 24, Balak tried to get Balaam to curse the Israelites, but all he could do is bless them because God would not allow him to curse them. He knew what was right and wrong, and yet he chose to ignore his conscience, oppose God’s will, and do what was wrong.

 

He could not curse Israel or do anything to destroy them from the outside, so he tried to do it from the inside – he encouraged the daughters of Midian and Moab into sexual relationships with the Israelite men. In this way, the introduced the worship of Baal of Peor into the Israelite camp and brought a curse upon Israel (Numbers 31:16). The sins of Balaam were idol worship, including eating foods offered to idols, and sexual immorality.

 

The Church in Pergamum remained faithful to the name of Jesus Christ, even though they suffered persecution and were surrounded by extreme ungodliness on every side. However, they had been a little too tolerant of those among them who clung to vile and immoral, ungodly beliefs and practices. This was unacceptable to the Lord and He calls on them to repent or else He would deal with them using His two-edged sword – the sword of the word – bringing judgment upon them. 

 

“To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.”  Jesus is the Manna – the Bread from heaven – hidden from all, and unappreciated by all, except those who embrace Him. He is the life and sustenance of those who love Him and love His Word. He is all we need!

 

I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”  The white stone was regarded as a token of favor, prosperity, victory or success everywhere. It represents your allegiance. The white stone also represents heaven and the presence of God.

 

In some cultures, it was the prize the victor received for winning the competition. As such, it would denote that the Christian, to whom it was given, would meet with the favor of the Redeemer and would have a token of his approval. In eternity, the favor and approval of man counts for nothing, but the favor and approval of Almighty God means everything!

 

THE SEPARATOR

Then Jesus said, I came into this world for judgment [as a Separator, in order that there may be separation between those who believe on Me and those who reject Me], to make the sightless see and to make those who see become blind.  John 9:39 AMP

 

For thus it stands in Scripture: Behold, I am laying in Zion a chosen (honored), precious chief Cornerstone, and he who believes in Him [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] shall never be disappointed or put to shame.

 

7 To you then who believe (who adhere to, trust in, and rely on Him) is the preciousness; but for those who disbelieve [it is true], The [very] Stone which the builders rejected has become the main Cornerstone,

 

8 And, A Stone that will cause stumbling and a Rock that will give [men] offense; they stumble because they disobey and disbelieve [God’s] Word, as those [who reject Him] were destined (appointed) to do.  1 Peter 2:6-8 AMP

 

Jesus is Who He is. When Moses asked God what His Name was so that he could tell Pharaoh Who had sent him, God told him to tell them that the Name of the One Who had sent him was “I am that I am!” Jesus is the Son of God. He was with God in the beginning. He was there when the earth was created. He knows Who He is and He is not shy or ashamed of it. He is equal with God.

 

If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father. It is no secret that He was born into the body of a man through the womb of a virgin. He walked and lived as a man and died as a man to cut an unbreakable covenant between God and man. He was raised from the dead after He defeated the enemy, and He lives now, seated on the right hand of the Father.

 

Those who believe on Him will live forever in His presence. Those who do not will die without Him and spend eternity in torment in hell. He cannot be both a chief Cornerstone AND a rock of offense – He is either one or the other. However, in the hearts of men, He is different things to different people.

 

Jesus is always the same – but whatever you believe about Him – that is what He will be to you. In other words, He is to you whatever you make of Him. If you choose to believe Him, your eyes will be opened to see the truth, but if you reject Him, you are destined to walk in darkness and confusion. You will be living in darkness and believing a lie.

 

For the son dishonors the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man’s enemies are the men (members) of his own house.  Micah 7:6 AMP

 

Therefore, everyone who acknowledges Me before men and confesses Me [out of a state of oneness with Me], I will also acknowledge him before My Father Who is in heaven and  confess [that I am abiding in] him.

 

33 But whoever denies and disowns Me before men, I also will deny and disown him before My Father Who is in heaven.

 

34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

 

35 For I have come to part asunder a man from his father, and a daughter from her mother, and a newly married wife from her mother-in-law—

 

36 And a man’s foes will be they of his own household.

 

37 He who loves [and takes more pleasure in] father or mother more than [in] Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves [and takes more pleasure in] son or daughter more than [in] Me is not worthy of Me;

 

38 And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me.

 

39 Whoever finds his [lower] life will lose it [the higher life], and whoever loses his [lower] life on My account will find it [the higher life]  Matthew 10:32-39 AMP

 

There is a separation between those who accept and love the Father and Jesus, His Son, Whom He sent to pay the price for you and for me. Even within families, there is a separation. On earth, family relationships are the strongest bonds that we have. However, the only thing that matters in eternity is who we chose to serve here on earth. If we compromise what we believe to please our family and to make life more comfortable for ourselves, we may lose our own life and burn in hell forever, but if we choose to serve Jesus over the objections and even persecution, rejection and emotional blackmail of family and friends – the people we care about – we will find the higher life and live with Jesus in eternity. 

 

GOD ANOINTS OBEDIENCE

He Who comes from above (heaven) is [far] above all [others]; he who comes from the earth belongs to the earth, and talks the language of earth [his words are from an earthly standpoint]. He Who comes from heaven is [far] above all others [far superior to all others in prominence and in excellence].

32 It is to what He has [actually] seen and heard that He bears testimony, and yet no one accepts His testimony [no one receives His evidence as true].

33 Whoever receives His testimony has set his seal of approval to this: God is true. [That man has definitely certified, acknowledged, declared once and for all, and is himself assured that it is divine truth that God cannot lie].

34 For since He Whom God has sent speaks the words of God [proclaims God’s own message], God does not give Him His Spirit sparingly or by measure, but boundless is the gift God makes of His Spirit!

35 The Father loves the Son and has given (entrusted, committed) everything into His hand. 36 And he who believes in (has faith in, clings to, relies on) the Son has (now possesses) eternal life. But whoever disobeys (is unbelieving toward, refuses to trust in, disregards, is not subject to) the Son will never see (experience) life, but [instead] the wrath of God abides on him. [God’s displeasure remains on him; His indignation hangs over him continually.]   John 3:31-36 AMP

 

Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. He was with the Father and the Holy Spirit when creation was created (John 1:3). He is one with the Father and equal with Him. And yet He humbled Himself to come down to earth in the body of a man, to endure what we endure and to pass the test, resist the temptations, take our place, to die and to rise again. He humbled Himself, submitting patiently to the verbal and physical abuse and pain that He endured on our behalf.

 

He humbled Himself to lay down His own will and desires to do and say ONLY what the Father instructed Him to do and say. Because He was so utterly and completely submitted and obedient to the Father, He was anointed with an unlimited supply of the Holy Spirit.

 

And the Lord said to me, They have well said all that they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet (Prophet) from among their brethren like you, and will put My words in his mouth; and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not hearken to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. 21 And if you say in your [minds and] hearts, How shall we know which words the Lord has not spoken? 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or prove true, that is a word which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.   Deuteronomy 18:17-22 AMP

 

Because Jesus speaks the Words of God, you have an obligation to listen to Him and obey Him. You must obey Him for your own sake – for your own eternity and your own blessing. Every one who hears what Jesus says and obeys Him is blessed, but those who won’t listen or obey will suffer the consequences of disobedience. What you have to understand is that we all live in a world that is under the influence of the enemy. God knows what you need to do to walk free from the devil’s influence and control. If you want to walk in victory and peace, you must hear and obey Him.

Jesus died to save you from sin and deliver you from the curse of the law. He died and rose again to make us all children of God and to empower us all to do the same works that He did. If you want to be anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit, you must obey the Holy Spirit. You must speak what He tells you to speak and do what He tells you to do.

 

There are people who claim to speak for God and yet they speak their own opinions. This is not a small matter to the Lord – He holds us responsible for every word we speak on His behalf. Speaking on God’s behalf is a sacred trust and we should not treat it lightly. Under the Old Covenant, a prophet who spoke his own words and not God’s words, or who spoke in the name of other gods was sentenced to die! God tells us not to continue to listen to prophets whose words do not come to pass.

 

If you want God to use you, if you want Him to anoint you, you must press in to His presence, to hear His voice and you must do everything in your power to obey His voice. Then you will be blessed by Him and you will also be a blessing to others.

PUT YOUR HOPE IN GOD

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God.

 

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

 

3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

 

4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.

 

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

 

6. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon–from Mount Mizar.

 

7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

 

8 By day the LORD directs His love, at night His song is with me–a prayer to the God of my life.

 

9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”

 

10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

 

11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.  Psalms 42:1-11 NIV

 

King David was a man who was hungry and thirsty for God. He had a great reverence and respect for the presence of God. Even when he became a great king, he continued to humble himself before the Lord and give God all the glory and honor. He went through hard times just as all of us do, but he kept his heart right before the Lord. He made mistakes and wrong choices, he even committed murder in his quest to cover his sin of adultery, but he was quick to repent when God confronted him.

 

Through his lifetime, he endured a lot of persecution and hardship. Even though he was God’s anointed, he had to run for his life – first from Saul and then from his own son – and live in caves. There were many times when he felt miserable, abandoned and neglected. However, he maintained his relationship with the Lord by praising and worshipping Him and by rejoicing in His Word and His goodness. Because he continued to praise God in the good times and the bad – God protected him and delivered him – even though he was chased and threatened, his enemies never could get the victory over him. He knew Who his Rock was – he knew Who watched over him, protected him and provided for him on a daily basis.

 

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 NIV

 

We need to encourage each other and ourselves in the Lord. We need to remind each other that, as we honor Him, God is on our side. We need to tell our soul – our mind, will and emotions – how they feel and not allow them to dictate how we feel. We need to control our feelings and not let them control us. Your feelings are inconsistent and unreliable – they change with the weather; they get offended; they don’t naturally display the fruit of the Spirit. Your Spirit needs to take control over your flesh and your feelings and tell them what to do and feel. Tell yourself to be joyful and cheerful. Tell yourself to rejoice. Begin to praise the Lord and your feelings will come into line.

 

Even if you feel bad, if you make your face smile, you will already feel better. Doctors say that smiling and laughing causes a chemical reaction in your body that makes you feel much better than you did before. But God already knew that a long time ago. He knows that as we praise Him and as we rejoice, we will begin to throw off our mourning clothes and put on robes of rejoicing.

 

As you praise your feelings feel better. You were created to praise God and that is why you feel so good when you do it. God inhabits the praises of His people. When you praise, He shows up and when He shows up, the devil departs in a hurry. He cannot hang around in the presence of God – he cannot function in an atmosphere of praise.

Why do you think that he tries so hard to prevent you from praising God?

He tries to convince you that you can’t do anything unless you “feel” like it. He tries to make you feel shy and embarrassed about praising God. But when you get a revelation of how much God loves you and that He is on your side – even when your circumstances are really, really bad – you can begin to praise Him and see His hand move on your behalf to change your situation. Don’t wait to feel good before you choose to praise God. Tell your feelings what they should feel, begin to praise God, and then see His mighty works in your life!

 

GOD GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE – PART 2

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?

 

2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

 

3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

 

4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

 

5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?  

 

6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 

 

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.

 

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  James 4:1-10

 

If you want God’s grace in your life, then you owe it to yourself to lay down your pride and humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. Pride prevents the blessings of God in your life, but humility welcomes and makes way for them.

 

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?  James 4:11-12

 

When you slander or criticize your fellow Christians, you are setting yourself up as a judge. The problem is that there is only one Lawgiver and Judge. If you realized that when you judge another you are trying to take a place and a position that belongs only to the Lord, then you might be quicker to put a guard on your lips. This judgmental attitude—setting yourself up as better than another—stems from your pride. Your pride will always get you into trouble!

 

John 3:17 AMP says that, “God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.”  If Jesus does not even judge you, then you certainly have no right to judge each other. Remember—you might have a reason to judge others, but you still do not have a right.

 

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.  James 4:13-16

 

As many of you may already have found out, you cannot say, “I will do this” or “I won’t do that” to the Lord. Just when you make up your mind, He changes your direction. You must lay down the pride that causes you to try to do things on your own—trusting in your own judgment, intelligence and wisdom—and yield to His superior wisdom and understanding. When you humble yourself to daily receive direction and wisdom from the Lord, then you will prosper in everything that you do.

 

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.  James 4:17

 

You are accountable for what you know. If you know what is the right thing to do—then do it. Otherwise it will be counted as a sin to you. Make sure that you are a doer of the Word and not merely a hearer. Humble your heart to receive both correction and direction from the Lord and He will prosper your way.

 

AT THE SEA OF GALILLEE NOVEMBER 2008

Dr. Rodney Howard Browne is leading a group through the Sea of Galilee and Holy Land this month. The Sea of Galilee lies on the ancient Via Maris. The Greeks, Hasmoneans, and Romans founded flourishing towns and settlements on the lake. The Flavius Josephus wrote, “One may call this place the ambition of Nature.” It is a thriving fishing industry at this time, with 230 boats regularly working in the lake.

Much of the ministry of Jesus occurred on the shores of Lake Galilee. The gospels of Mark (1:14-20), Matthew (4:18-22), and Luke (5:1-11) describe how Jesus recruited four of his apostles from the shores of Lake Galilee: the fishermen Simon and his brother Andrew and the brothers John and James. One of Jesus’ teaching, the Sermon on the Mount, was given on a hill overlooking the lake while many of his miracles were recorded.

BE WISE AND YOU WILL LIVE LONG AND PROSPER

When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.

 

2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, show yourself a man,

 

3 and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go,

 

4 and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: `If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’  1 Kings 2:1-4 NIV

 

David was a great king because he was a humble man, righteous and upright. Because he honored God all the days of his life, God placed him on the throne and kept him on the throne, promising him that his descendants would always sit on the throne as long as they honored Him. God’s promise to David was so powerful that even though David’s descendants were disobedient and lost control of Israel, God still kept them on the throne of Judah.

 

David was a wise man because he was submitted God and to His commandments. He accepted the will of God for his life and even when he sinned, he bore the consequences of his sin humbly and did not try to justify himself or blame God in any way for his own mistakes. He tried to teach Solomon what to do to prosper and to remain on the throne as God had promised to David’s seed. David realized that access to the throne was a privilege and not a right.

 

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

 

6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

 

7 “Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.

 

8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.

 

9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

 

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.

 

11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,

 

12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.

 

13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for-both riches and honor-so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.

 

4 And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”  1 Kings 3:5-14 NIV

 

In verse 9 in the Amplified Bible, it says that when God asked Solomon what He could give him, Solomon asked God for an understanding mind and a hearing heart that he might discern between good and bad in order to justly judge God’s people. He recognized that the people were God’s people and not his.

 

He also acknowledged that he needed God’s help. Because he did not ask for long life or for riches or for the lives of his enemies, but for understanding to recognize what is just and right, God gave him a wise and discerning heart, riches and honor and – as a condition: if he would walk in God’s ways keeping and obeying His statutes and commands as David his father did – God promised to lengthen his days as well.

 

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.  Proverbs 3:1-2 NIV

 

If you want to live a long time and prosper then be wise – do not forget the word of God and make sure that you keep His commands in your heart.

 

MY YOKE IS EASY AND MY BURDEN IS LIGHT

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

 

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

 

The Amplified version says, “28 Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]

 

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

 

30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good – not harsh, hard, sharp or pressing, but comfortable gracious and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”  

 

Jesus gives an invitation to everyone of us who are weary, fatigued, heavy-laden and overburdened – because we have been working hard, toiling, and laboring in our own strength – to come to Him. He offers help and a solution. He was not talking only to us about physical labor alone, but also about mental, emotional and spiritual labor.

 

There are some burdens that we were not designed to bear. We were not designed to bear the burden of sin and everything else that hell has to offer. We were designed, by the Father, to live in His presence and to draw our life from Him and to be sustained by Him, not to be lone rangers – struggling and limping along under the weight of our heavy burdens.

 

There is no help, no salvation, no relief from our burdens in anything that is in our wisdom, strength or ability – nothing we can do ourselves can come close to what the Father does for us if we will humble ourselves to receive from His hand all that He has already provided for us.

 

The term heavy-laden means to be loaded up like a pack animal, or in a figurative sense, to be overburdened with ceremony or spiritual anxiety. That is what religion does. It loads you up with burdens, and yet offers no solutions, no way out and no relief. No wonder religion makes some people miserable and grumpy and others just run away.

 

Unfortunately, they run away from God as well. The meaning of religion, in the dictionary, has to do with a belief in and a commitment to something or someone. It also means that a person is bound to the something or someone. Now commitment to God and being bound to Him is not a bad thing, but the problem is that most people are bound to a set of rules and regulations, most of which were instituted by man, not God!

 

God is not religious! Yes, you read it right! He hates religion with a passion. Jesus, Who speaks for the Father, tells us what He thought of religion and tradition.

 

In Matthew 15:1-9, the Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples broke the tradition of the elders by not ceremonially washing their hands before they eat! But Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for breaking the command of God for the sake of their tradition and called them hypocrites because they honored God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. He told them that they worshipped God in vain because their teachings were nothing more than rules taught by men.

 

If we want the blessing of God on our lives, we must be bound by and to the commands of God, but not the traditions that are set in place by man. Your prayer should be, “Father, burn every bit of religion and tradition out of me. Let me be filled with love and devotion to You and to Your Word alone.” Those who do not practice what they preach and who put unfair religious burdens on others – burdens that they themselves are unwilling to bear – anger the Lord (Matthew 23:1-4).

 

We should not lay any burden on someone other that what God requires and what we ourselves are willing to do.

 

The yoke is a wooden frame or bar with loops or bows at either end, fitted around the necks of a pair of oxen, etc. for harnessing them together. It represents a coupling – something that binds, unites, or connects, such as the marriage relationship. People use the term “the yoke of matrimony.” Figuratively, it has to do with servitude – a law or an obligation.

 

We are yoked to the Lord, but it is neither a hard or unpleasant yoke. A burden is, literally, freight or, figuratively, a task or service. It should not be difficult for us to serve God – if we do it right! It should be a joy and a pleasure. If you are serving God and you are not having the time of your life, then you better check out what you are doing and believing, because according to Jesus, our yoke should be easy and our burden should be light! Cast your cares on Him today. Stop trying to work for your salvation and stop trying to please God in your own strength or ability. Stop! And receive His grace and His mercy, which will refresh your souls!

 

1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.