Do you love me more than these?

Do You Love Me More Than These?
A few weeks ago, I was spending time with God and thinking about my life – the current state of my life, the different parts of my life and the people in it like my natural family, church family, friends, finances, etc. Then a few questions came to my spirit – which I know were from God:
What if these things were to fall apart? What if important people in my life began to leave or fail me? What would be my response to God? Would I run from God and abandon my relationship with Him? Would I become angry and bitter with Him because people I trusted in disappointed me or let me down?

Honestly, it’s hard to even fathom what my life would be or look like if certain things or people weren’t in place. God forbid if something major and unexpected were to happen that would shake my foundation and make me question God. God forbid if we were to be homeless or if something serious took place in my family. God forbid if I faced a serious situation with my health or even an unexpected death. These are things that happen in life that no one wants or expects to happen, but what if?  As these questions came to my spirit and I imagined things that could possibly happen, I was honestly “shook,” (lol). I had to honestly ask myself, “Justice, what would you honestly do? What would be your response to God?” I had to ask myself if I would charge God with wrongdoing for the bad things that would be going on around me. I had to ask myself if I would feel abandoned by God or harden my heart towards Him altogether.
At that moment, God was asking me, “Justice , DO YOU LOVE ME MORE THAN THESE?” Initially, I’m sure that I would be shocked, angry, sad, feel abandoned by God, betrayed by those who let me down, and wonder if God was still with me. But would I be willing to push past the pain and still honor and love God in my heart? Would I still choose to live for Jesus and totally devote my life to Him if everything around me or if the things and people that I found most important failed me? Would I choose to rise out of the ashes of disappointment, bewilderment, depression, and intense pain to still be a willing disciple of Christ? Or would I be so hurt, angry with God, disappointed, and embarrassed that I run away from God and His people? This is a heart check that we all have to do.

What Does It Mean To Love Jesus?
In John 21:15, Jesus asks Peter frankly, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” Jesus had just performed a miracle and did the Disciples a huge favor by telling them which side of the boat to cast their net so they could catch fish. They had been fishing the night before and caught nothing, but when Jesus told them where to cast their net, they caught 153 large fish! They went to shore and Jesus even had breakfast already prepared for them! I’m sure the disciples were elated at what Jesus had done for them. I’m sure they enjoyed the provision of food. Jesus wasn’t concerned though if Peter enjoyed or loved the miracle of fish, what He wanted to know was if Peter loved Him more than those things. Did Peter love Him more than the miracles He could perform or the things He could give or do?
It’s ok to enjoy the things that God adds to our lives – it’s ok to enjoy the money, the spouse, the jobs, the people, etc. But what God really wants to know is, DO YOU LOVE ME MORE THAN THESE? Do you love Me more than the loaves and fish that I can provide for you? This is what it means to really love Jesus. So many people love God and even come to God simply for what He can do for them. Many women in our generation are following Jesus simply to get a husband. Many people serve God in ministry simply for the money and fame they can gain from it. But God knows why we really love Him, yet He asks each of us, DO YOU LOVE ME MORE THAN THESE? If He were to take away all the things you loved or if the people you loved began to leave your life or do things to hurt you, would you still love Him? To really love Jesus is to still choose Him in spite of EVERYTHING and EVERYONE.
Each time Jesus asked Peter “do you love Me” (verses 15,16, and 17), Jesus followed it by saying, “feed/tend My sheep.” Jesus was pretty much saying if you love Me then be about my business – Kingdom business. If you read all of John 21 and the chapters before it, Peter and the disciples had gone back to what they knew (their old life) after Jesus had been put to death on the cross. Their life with Jesus, as they knew it had been torn apart and was over – so they thought. So, they went back to working and living for themselves, they went back to living how they used to live and living life for themselves. Jesus wanted them to know that if they truly loved Him, they would seek His Kingdom and make His Kingdom work their business.
To love Jesus is to seek first HIS Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), not seek after the things that make you happy. If everything in your life were to be turned completely upside down, would you still be about your Father’s business or would you go back to living your life how you used to live it before you knew Jesus? (Unfortunately, many have.) After the shock and the tears, would you get back up and continue to follow Jesus or would you go back to what you used to know (your old life)? Do you love Him more than everything in your life right now? Do you love Him even more than the things that He has so graciously added to your life? John 14:15 says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Jesus’ two greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40). To love God with everything is to seek Him above all else, to love Him above all else. To love God is to continue to choose Him even through the trials of life.

God Will Test Your Love And Loyalty For Him

In this walk, we will all be tested on how much we really love God. God will allow tests, trails, and situations to take place to show us what’s really in our heart. I have gone through situations that have literally knocked me off my feet. I’ve faced disappointment, I’ve had my hopes dashed many times, I’ve been caught off guard by completely unexpected situations, and I’ve been hurt and let down by people(I’m quite young though). These situations showed me what was really in my heart. They showed me that I had a sense of entitlement and thought that God owed me something. They showed me that I had a carnal view of God and what being a disciple really meant. They showed me that my love was very limited and so much more. But God used those situations to build my love for Him, He used them to prune me and purify my heart so that my loyalty could be to Him first and foremost and not to the things He could do for me or give me.
Peter’s love and loyalty to Jesus were also tested. Several chapters earlier in John 13:37 Peter boldly says to Jesus, “I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Those words sound really nice but of course, Jesus knew what was really in Peter’s heart. Jump forward a few chapters to John 18 and sure enough, Peter denies Jesus not once, not twice, but three times! Jesus had to put Peters words to the test to show him what was really in his heart. At that time Peter really cared more about His own safety and wellbeing more than standing up for the One he proclaimed to love. Jesus was about to be crucified, the whole city was in an uproar about it, and certain people were trying to identify His followers so they could persecute them too. Even though Jesus had warned Peter and the other disciples that this time would come, when it actually came, they scattered! What happened to their devotion for Him? What happened to Peter’s bold declaration to lay down his life for Jesus? When the fire got turned up, it exposed that they were not yet ready or willing to lay down their life, instead, they chose to save it.
It’s awesome to proclaim our love and dedication to God. In fact, it’s an easy thing to do. It’s easy to shout aloud during praise and worship how much you love God and how far you’re willing to go for Him. But when those words are really tested, what will you do? When it’s time to go to the cross will you scatter, or will you take a stand for and in Christ? Will you love Him more than your life? Will you love Him more than your husband/wife/significant other, friends and family, pastors/spiritual leaders; your job, education, social status, finances, house, etc.? Are you loyal and devoted to Jesus only when things are going good? Are you only with Him for the miracles He can do? We really have to search and evaluate our heart – ask yourself, how much do I really love God? Do I really love Him more than these things? So much so that I would continue following Him if something were to happen to these things? This is TRUE WORSHIP!
If You Failed The Test, God Wants To Restore You!

Clearly, Peter failed the test and I’m sure he felt really disappointed with himself, but the wonderful thing is Jesus still wanted to restore him! Jesus already knew what was in Peter’s heart, he just wanted Peter to know what was in his heart. Jesus already knew what was in your heart; He wasn’t shocked at your response when that situation did not go how you wanted it to go. He wasn’t shocked that you stopped talking to Him for a while because of that loss. He wasn’t shocked that you put that job and the money before Him. He wasn’t shocked that you choose the pleasures of your flesh over Him. He already knew it was in your heart, He just wanted you to see it. Now it’s time to get up, repent, shake off the shame and disappointment in yourself, and allow God to change your heart and restore you. As long as you are willing to repent (which means turn from your ways – turn from loving things and people more than God, turn from putting people and things before God), God is willing to work with you.
When Jesus asked Peter three times in John 21:15-17 if he loved Him, He was actually restoring Peter back to his rightful place as His disciple. Jesus didn’t want to hold it over Peter’s head, and He didn’t want Peter to walk around in condemnation and shame because of his actions. He actually wanted to change Peter’s heart. If you’ve noticed that you’re not as loyal to God as you thought you were or that you have placed other things before Him, or that you love the things of the word more than you love God, He doesn’t want your response to be condemnation and shame, He wants your response to be REPENTANCE – a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51). He wants it to be a changed heart. To have a changed heart you will need to spend more time with God and in His word, maybe fast, and practice denying yourself more, but God can do it and He wants to do it.
After you repent ask God to make you Kingdom minded. Ask Him to give you a heart that seeks His Kingdom and righteousness first. Ask Him for a heart that desires His will above all and that cares about souls. Jesus told Peter, “if you love Me, feed My sheep.” Loving Jesus is not just an emotional feeling; it begins in the heart but then it has to be manifested in how you live. Loving Jesus requires action. If you love Jesus, be about His business and put Him above EVERYTHING else. If you love Jesus, you will love Him more than these.

Love Jesus More Than Life Itself
Our relationship with God cannot be dependent on how everything else in our life is going. God’s goodness is not dependent on what’s going on around us. His goodness is not dependent on what people around us are doing or not doing. God and His nature exist outside of our world, the circumstances we face, and the actions of those in it. We can’t judge or view God from the lens of our circumstances. He is God, He is good, and He is Love even when our world is in shambles – that’s the beautiful thing about Him, He doesn’t change. He is the ONLY constant in a world that is so unstable. Our trust should be in Him alone, our security should be in Him alone, and our loyalty should be to Him alone. We should love Him more than life itself and everything in our life.
Life happens; things will happen in life that you don’t expect to happen. Things will fail you and people will fail you. Even Christians whom you trust will fail you, but you can’t charge God for behavior that people do with their own free will. It rains on the just as well as the unjust and God knows when the rain will fall. He uses the rain to make us stronger. So, what will you do when these things happen? Will you choose to hold on to God and stay committed to Him or will you give up on Him? God will walk with you through those things if you choose to hold on to Him. Do you have your heart prepared and your mind made up to love God more than all these things? In a world that loves everything else more than Jesus and has put everything else before Him, do YOU truly love Him?
Do you love Him more than these? If so, be about His business!

By Justice Annobil

THE RIGHT TO JUDGE

 

The church has faced so many persecutions and trials throughout its existence and one that’s very popular now is being called judgemental. Many Christians are of different views and I would like to add mine. Unbelievers claim that we condemn thinking we are the only ones who are right. No one wants to look or feel bad that’s exactly how they say we make them feel. There are also Christians who say other believers judge them without first getting to understand what they go through. Those who do the judging too are also of the view that they cannot allow their loved ones perish or see fellow soldiers of the cross fall down. All sides of the argument seem right, and whenever we find ourselves in a dilemma we have to look at Jesus would do (since we have been called to be exactly like Him). (If you are an unbeliever, this may be where you stop reading but you have made it this far so try and finish).
So Jesus in one of his sermons said “Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Pardon and you will be pardoned.” (Luke 6:37) . This makes it clear that our Lord does not want us to condemn anyone. In John 8, He shows this by His actions towards “one of the worst sinners”. A woman caught in adultery was brought to Him and He said “‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin'”. He teaches us the right way to deal with those we judge as the worst people. We have to let them know that even though they have faults Jesus has paid for everything and then pray for the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Now to how Jesus dealt with believers in sin. In the early parts of the Book of Revelations, Jesus addresses the seven churches. He clearly points out their faults to them and tells them to repent for He will return. We cannot watch our brethren continue in their wrongdoings, the issue is how we go about correcting them. The Bible advises that we rebuke sharply but also in love. Let us correct each other with the word of God as directed by the Spirit. Before we correct anyone too we have to pray that the person would receive it since the heart of a king is in the hands of God.
So to the unbelievers and believers who feel judged, maybe, just maybe the reason you feel judged is because deep inside you know where you stand with God and you know you have to work on that. Open your heart to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and allow yourself to be corrected. To those who are called too judgemental, even though we are called to lead others to Christ. It is only the Holy Spirit who convicts so let Him lead you.

The Christian and Music

None of us can deny the power and influence of music. There has been a point in everyone’s life where a song changed the mood. For some of us there are songs that can lift us up no matter how bad we feel. One “bitter pill” we have to take as Christians is that we are called out of the world and hence can’t live by their standards. The word of God is our standard in everything. We therefore have to check if everything we do is in line with it and this includes the kind of music we sing and listen to.

There are many songs in the Bible and most of them were based on how the composers saw God  (mostly after a miracle). Let’s take a look at a few:

Exodus 15- when God delivered the Israelites and sent them through the red sea they sang a song of praise to Him. So we are to sing songs of praise and worship unto our maker.

1 Sam. 16:23- when David drove out an evil spirit sent by God. The songs we sing can bring deliverance.

2 Kings 3:15-16- when Prophet Elisha heard God and prophesied  after the harpist played. Music ushers us into His presence.

2 Chr. 20:21-23 – when the Israelites won a battle just by singing. Miracles happen through music.

Most of the scriptures in the New Testament concerning music say the same thing- admonishing us to sing psalms,hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to God (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16).

Most of us can testify that there was this church service where you just didn’t feel like participating but when that song was raised, you didn’t know what happened, you just found yourself loving the Lord in worship. So if spiritual songs can usher you into God’s presence even when you don’t want then what can secular music do to you? Music affects the environment and the kind of music can make you more prone to falling when tempted.

Job 35:10- “…where is God my maker, who gives songs in the night?” It is clear from this text that God is a source of music. Many Gospel musicians will tell you they received songs after some prayers or period of waiting before God. God is not the only source of music; it could be from the spirit of man or even evil spirits.

So as Christians we always need to surround ourselves with things that will draw us closer to God and the kind of music we sing and listen to plays a major role in our walk with Christ. Endeavour to listen to and sing Spirit-filled songs. God bless you even as you share.

WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM TODAY

W-hen the fullness of time had come, Jesus was born behind an Inn in a cave-like stable.

I-n the Inn there was no room for the Son of God, no room for the Saviour of men.

S-tar was shining so bright above the stable for the shepherds to find their way to Him.

E-ven angels proclaimed His birth to those shepherds “Unto you is born this day.”

M-anger is where Mary and Joseph first laid him. It was filled with hay.

E-very animal there must have known that their Creator had come that day.

N-o one knew the depth of love God had, to give His Son to dwell among men.

S-ame star guided three kings from the Orient, who studied the stars and heavens.

T-hese wise men from the East came saying “Where is He that is born King”

I-n their hands they brought him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrr.

L-ike these three wise men, wise men still seek him today!

L-ove is the reason that God sent His only Begotton Son into the world to save us.

S-eeking for you and me, yes God was seeking for us because we had left Him.

E-veryone, yes, all we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone to his own way.

E-ach one has to make his on decision to follow Him or not to follow Him.

K-ing, born to be a King. King of the ages. King of the past. King of the future.

H-eaven, He came from Heaven to earth to show us the right way.

I-niquity, the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

M-elody, He gives us a sweet melody, we sing many songs of praise to Him.

T-ree, A Christmas tree, the love that Jesus had for us, to die on a tree.

O-nly one life and how soon it passes. Only in life can we accept His Love.

D-eliverance, He came from Heaven to preach deliverance to the captives.

A-cknowlege Him and accept Him. Behold now is the accepted time.

Y-ou, Yes, this Christmas Love was for You. Will You accept this love?

WHY CAN’T I GET TO HEAVEN THROUGH GOOD WORKS?

Many believe that if they try hard in this life to do good, that God will accept them into heaven when they die. Yet the Bible makes it clear that getting into heaven is not something we can accomplish in our own power. 

EPHESIANS 2:8-9 clearly teach, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Being saved from sin and receiving eternal life cannot take place by our works. Getting into heaven requires faith in Jesus Christ.

Why is getting into heaven based on faith? Heaven is a perfect place that is free from sin. Yet every person except Jesus has sinned. 

ROMANS 3:23 teaches, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” ECCLESIASTES 7:20 adds, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” No matter how hard you may try, even one sin is enough to keep you from heaven unless you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ.
The good news of the Bible is that, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (ROMANS 5:8). 

He knew we would each fail, sin, and lack the ability to enter heaven apart from Him. He died in our place, offering Himself as the way, the truth, and the life (JOHN 14:6) that would allow us access to heaven by faith in Him.
Can anyone come to faith in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life? Yes! In JOHN 3:16, Jesus promised, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This “whoever” includes you.
How can a person place his or her faith in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life in heaven? ROMANS 10:9 answers, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Salvation occurs when we accept Jesus as Lord and believe He rose again from the dead.
When we do, we can be confident that He will accept US. ROMANS 8:1 teaches, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” 1 JOHN 5:13 adds that we can know for certain that we are saved and will spend eternity with the Lord when we die: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”
We are saved by grace through faith and not by works. No amount of good works could ever get us there. Only a good God Who sent His perfect Son could get us to heaven and that’s by repentance and faith. There is no way that a good person will ever make it to heaven on his or her own but only bad people forgiven by a very good God. There is positively no other way to get there. Sadly, hell will be full of self-proclaimed “good people”
Have you been trusting in your own efforts and goodness to receive eternal life? Today, you can place your faith in Jesus and know for certain you will have eternal life. There is no special prayer you must pray to do so. Remember, salvation is not based on your works, but on God’s grace. However, the following prayer is one you can use to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior:
“Dear God, I realize I am a sinner and could never reach heaven by my own good deeds. Only you have the power to save me. Right now I place my faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son who died for my sins and rose from the dead to give me eternal life. Please forgive me of my sins and help me to live for you. Thank you for accepting me and giving me eternal life.”AMEN. 

God bless you.
Justice Smith Annobil 

sAm InSpiReS team

THE UGLY SIDE OF PRE-MARITAL SEX

Pre-marital sex is a very important topic especially today. Young people are bombarded with world’s (satan’s) standards of morality or immorality. The values and moral standards which were endorsed by most people in the past years are now ridiculed by many. Teachings on sexual purity before and after marriage are no longer held before young people as a law of God nor even an ideal goal to strive for. So called sexual freedom is flaunted as the norm among teenagers and adults. 
See God’s law is plain:

“Flee sexual immorality”. Every sin that a man does is outside the body;but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his body “. ( 1 Corinthians 6:18)

God,our creator, knows our needs and what is best for us, his creation. Behind each negative Bible command are two positive principles. One is to protect us, the other is to provide for us. God has” good things” planned for us and does not want us to do something that will bring pain to us and to others. God’s motivation in dealing with us is love. 

“God is love”. (1 John 4:16).He is the author of love and he knows all about it. God is not anti-sex. He created sex and said it was good, but he gave rules with it. Can you imagine a football game without rules, where everyone does just what they want to do? We have one basic rule from God with reference to sexual activity. That is “Wait until marriage”. 
We saw in “1 Corinthians 6:18” that sex before marriage is a sin against the body. Sinning against the body means losing respect for your body, as well as the body of the one you’re involved with. Once respect is lost, it becomes easier to indulge in promiscuous sex. The emotional needs which God created are not met in casual sex but in the loving commitment of a partner (marriage). Waiting as God commands gives peace of mind which affects our physical health. We don’t experience the stress of worrying about unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that could kill or cripple us or our children.

Birth control methods are sometimes unreliable. Some condoms and of course the pill offers no protection whatsoever against STDs. 
Fifty years ago, teens were warned against STDs(syphilis and gonorrhea). There are now over 50 STDs and AIDS is not the only one that kills. Some cause birth defects that pass a parent’s foolish decision on to an innocent child. And do you know that cervical cancer, a disease that is proven to be more prevalent among sexually active girls? All these are some of the physical effects of premarital sex. 
Spiritual Effects 
God blesses purity : “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”.(Matthew 5:8).Clearly God’s word forbids any type of sex outside of marriage. There are spiritual consequences anytime we disobey God. 

” God will judge for fornicators and adulterers “.(Hebrews 13:4)

Sexual sins brought destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. Many Bible characters committed sexual sins and were judged by God. Sin separates us from God. (Hosea 5:6).It causes us to be a bad influence on others, both Christians and non christians. Sexual purity is a way to show respect for others and to confirm their dignity as human beings. It is impossible to show someone the love of God while engaging in immorality with that person. When we maintain sexual purity, we can be channels of God’s love and can accurately represent him to others. 

God bless you as you are faithful to His word. Amen.
By: Justice Smith Annobil 

sAm InSpiReS bLoG team

We inspire the world in Christ.

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