Characteristics of Worldly Believers —Friends of the World (Genesis 19)

The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.” But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” “Get out of our way,” they replied. And they said, “This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door… (Genesis 19)

What are characteristics of worldly believers—friends of the world? If Abraham is pictured as a friend of God in Genesis 18(cf. Jas 2:23), in Genesis 19, Lot is pictured as a friend of the world (cf. Jas 4:4).

In Scripture, we are warned of this possibility; it is possible for a follower of Christ to be conformed to the world in such a way that it is hard to distinguish him. Paul said this to the Corinthian church:

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:1–3)

These Christians were acting and living just like the world and, therefore, could not understand or digest the spiritual riches of God’s Word. They were jealous and quarreling with one another. He said, “Are you not acting like mere men?”

Yes, this is at times common of new believers. Though born again and possessing a new nature, they are still worldly and often hard to distinguish from nonbelievers.

Sadly, this is often not only true for young believers but for old believers as well. Many Christians never shed the garment of the world but, instead, become more entrenched in it. This was true of Lot, Abraham’s nephew.

Lot was a believer, as 2 Peter 2:7–8 calls him a righteous man. However, he was righteous because of his faith, not because of his actions. Like Abraham, God justified him because of his faith (cf. Gen 15:6); however, worldliness was still a strong part of his character.

Instead of staying in the promised land with Abraham, in Genesis 13, he sets his tents towards the wicked city of Sodom. He desired Sodom because of its wealth. He looked at it, and it reminded him of Egypt and its wealth (v. 10). No doubt, he was tired of living in tents with Abraham and wanted luxury. He desired the riches of this world, and in the end, it produced destructive fruits in his life and that of his family. In chapter 14, he is living in Sodom. Then, here in Genesis 19, he is at the gates, meaning that he probably achieved his desires. The elders and officials sat at the city gates, where business and legal transactions were conducted. Lot gained the world but, ultimately, lost everything else.

As we consider Lot’s story, one cannot but be reminded of Paul’s teaching about the judgment of believers in 1 Corinthians 3:12–15:

If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

At the judgment seat of Christ, some believers will be rewarded for their faithfulness on earth, while others barely escape the fire. Their lives produced no enduring fruit for God’s kingdom. They were worldly.

Here in this narrative, God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot loses everything. The worldly success he gained, as he sat at the city gates, was lost. His popularity, prestige, and property were lost. And worst of all, he lost his family. His wife was turned into a pillar of salt and his daughters, though saved from the fire, had Sodom in their hearts. They raped him and bore two sons from him.

Yes, Scripture testifies that some true believers will still be friends of the world and spiritual adulterers (cf. James 4:4). Just as some will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and some will be called least in the kingdom (Matt 5:19)—missing God’s best.

What do worldly Christians look like—friends of the world? If Abraham is pictured as a friend of God in Genesis 18, as God shares secrets with him, Lot is pictured as a friend of the world here. It is important to ask ourselves this question so that we don’t have the same fate as Lot. In this text, we see eleven characteristics of worldly Christians—friends of this world.

Big Question: What characteristics of friends of the world can be discerned from Lot’s life?

Friends of the World Lack Intimacy with God

The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.” But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. (Genesis 19:1–3)

One thing that stands out in this narrative is that God never comes to Lot’s home. In Genesis 18, the angels and the Lord were on their way to Sodom until Abraham invited them into his home. The narrative doesn’t tell us about any hesitation on the part of the visitors. They just say, “Very well,” and enter Abraham’s home (v. 5). However, with Lot, God does not come with the angels. He stays with Abraham, as Abraham intercedes for Sodom. God never comes to Lot’s home.

In addition, when Lot petitions the angels to spend the night at his home, they first say, “No.” Lot had to “strongly” insist for them to enter his house. “Gordon Wenham translates it, ‘manhandled’ them! He did some major arm-twisting till they said yes.”1

This is true of carnal believers in general; they lack intimacy with God. Certainly, God indwells every believer with his Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 6:19); however, not every believer has intimacy with God. Abraham is called God’s friend; God enters his home and fellowships with him. With Lot, he does not.

As mentioned, Scripture also teaches that the Corinthian believers were worldly. In 1 Corinthians 3:1, Paul calls them carnal or worldly. Throughout the Corinthian books their worldliness is clearly displayed. In 1 Corinthians 1, they are separating into factions, as they idolize their teachers. In 1 Corinthians 5, a man is having sex with his father’s wife. In 1 Corinthians 6, they are suing one another. In 1 Corinthians 14, they are abusing spiritual gifts. In 2 Corinthians, they challenge Paul’s apostleship, even though he started the church. Consider what he says to them in 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15–17:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?… Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

He writes to Christians and calls them to separate from the world. Then he writes a promise from God, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters.” God is not promising salvation for being separate; he is promising intimacy. The Corinthians lacked intimacy with God because they yoked with the world, as did Lot.

Now, it wasn’t so much about Lot’s location. Daniel lived and worked in Babylon. Joseph lived and worked in Egypt. Lot’s problem was that Sodom was in his heart, as he lived a compromised Christian life. The world affected him, instead of him affecting the world, and because of his worldliness, he lacked intimacy with God.

James 4:4 says, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” If we are friends with the world, we will lack intimacy with God and, instead, invite his judgment.

Application Question: What is the difference between being in the world and not being of the world? How can we know if we are yoked with the world? How can we break this yoke so we can have greater intimacy with God?

Friends of the World Lack Generosity in Their Offerings to God

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. (Genesis 19:3)

Another obvious difference between Lot’s interaction with the angels and Abraham’s is that Lot gave them only unleavened bread—essentially crackers. There is nothing wrong with this; however, there is a great difference between Lot’s generosity and Abraham’s. Abraham prepared three seahs of grain (or five gallons), a calf, milk, and yogurt for the Lord and the angels (cf. Gen 18:6–8). Abraham was very generous with what he offered to the Lord and Lot wasn’t.

Certainly, there may have been a difference in wealth; although, Lot was wealthy too. In Genesis 14, Abraham and Lot separated because the land could not hold both of their herds. Also in Genesis 19:1, we see that Lot rose to prominence in Sodom, as he was sitting at the gates. He probably was an elder in the land. Therefore, considering that they were both wealthy, the difference in hospitality stands out.

In considering the diversity of offerings, it is hard to not think of Cain and Abel. Genesis 4:3–4 says that Cain gave “some” of the fruits of the field, while Abel gave the “fat portions” from the “firstborn.” Abel’s offering was accepted while Cain’s was rejected. The first born was considered the best of the flock and the fat portions were considered the choice part of the meat. All the flavor and seasoning are there. We will see later in the Mosaic law, God requires the Israelites to give the fat portions to him. Leviticus 3:16 says, “All the fat is the Lord’s.” Essentially, Abel gave his best, while Lot only gave scraps.

As with Cain and Abel, Abraham’s and Lot’s offerings reflected their hearts. Abraham gave his best because he cherished God, and Lot only gave some because he didn’t. This is common with worldly believers. Because their heart is attached to their wealth, they are not generous in their offerings to the Lord. They are too worried about securing a higher living status or preparing for retirement. Their minds are consumed with this world, instead of the next, and this is seen in their generosity both to the Lord and others.

However, whenever we study God’s Scriptural requirements for offerings, it is clear that he always requires the best. With the sacrificial lambs, he required lambs without spot or blemish. They had to be the best lambs.

In fact, in Malachi 1, God becomes angry with Israel because they didn’t offer their best. Consider what he says,

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ “You place defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty. “Now implore God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the LORD Almighty. “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. (Malachi 1:6–10)

God rejects their offerings. They offered the blind and the crippled, and he essentially says, “Would you give that to your governor? Then I will not accept it either!” The reason the Israelites did not offer God their best was because they wanted to keep the best for themselves; however, God only accepts our best. No doubt, God rejects a lot of offerings in the church, as well. Instead of offering the best of our time, effort, and mind, we give him scraps. We give our best to work, family, friends, and entertainment and then offer God the last five minutes of the day, as we fall asleep. The Lord says, “I won’t receive that!” We offer him offerings that cost us nothing. We ask ourselves, “What will cost me the least so that I can give it to the Lord?”

Consider David’s heart in giving an offering to the Lord. He said, “I will not give the Lord what cost me nothing” (2 Sam 24:24, paraphrase).

What are you giving the Lord? Are you giving him your best? Or are you giving the blind and the crippled?

God wants our best. The difference in Abraham’s offering and Lot’s is the fact that Abraham gave his best, while Lot just gave a portion. This reflected the giver’s heart. Friends of God give him their best. Friends of the world offer him their scraps.

Application Question: In what ways is God challenging you to offer him more of your best? In what ways do you feel the tension of keeping back the best portions for yourself? How do we overcome our clinging hearts?

Friends of the World Have Compromised Morals, Especially When Pressured

Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” (Genesis 19:4–8)

Before it was time to go to bed, the men in the city, both young and old, came to Lot’s house and asked for the visitors. They wanted to have sexual relations with them. This shows the great depravity of these cities. Commonly, in cultures that are being corrupted, it is the youth that have loose morals and the older generations stand in awe of the youth. This is how it is in many nations when considering the acceptance of things like homosexuality and transgenderism. The youth say, “What’s wrong with it? What’s the difference between same-sex, opposite-sex, or pan-sex?” and the older generation shakes their heads in awe. However, in Sodom’s depraved culture, it was both the young and the old who were corrupted. In fact, they were so corrupt they saw nothing morally wrong with raping two visitors. They say this about Lot who tried to stop them, “This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge!” (v. 9). They essentially say, “Don’t judge us! Who are you to judge us? What makes your morals better than ours?” Have you ever heard that before?

Something that should come to mind as we consider this incident and the men’s reply is the question, “What is the standard?” The men are right, if there are no moral absolutes. How can Lot judge the gang rape as wrong? What makes his standard better or moral? If the philosophy of relativity is correct, no standard is better than another. However, the reason we know this incident is wrong is because God sets the standard, and the standard is his Word.

As we consider this scenario, Lot clearly has morals that these men don’t have. However, when they continued to pressure him, he did something which could be considered worse than their sin. He offered his two daughters to be gang raped by this crowd of men. There is a similar story in Judges 19 where a concubine was handed over to a crowd of men and not only was raped but killed. The same fate probably awaited Lot’s daughters.

Here we see the next characteristic of worldly Christians, they have compromised morals, especially when pressured. In some ways they are just like the world or even worse.

How did Lot become this way?

Paul said, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Cor 5:6). Lot probably started with just a little bit of sin—a little compromise. Maybe, it started with materialism. He was materialistic like the world. But then to gain more material, he lied about his taxes. And then to gain even more, he compromised his morals to do “business” in corrupt Sodom. He continued this snowball until he was leavened just like the world.

Yes, Christians can compromise to the point where they are just like the world. Remember James 4? These Christians were arguing and fighting with one another, even leading to murder. James said,

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 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. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 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. (James 4:1–4)

These Christians were so worldly, murder seemed justifiable. Similarly, David, a man after God’s own heart, allowed lust to stay around in his life. One day he lusted so much that he committed adultery. Then to cover his sin, he committed murder. Afterward, he lived a hypocritical life until confronted by a prophet—leading him to repent.

Yes, Satan’s desire is to steal, kill, and destroy. He uses temptation and sin to destroy believers and that happened with Lot. Lot’s fall began with little compromises, and now Lot was almost as bad as these men.

But let us notice this: before the pressure came into Lot’s life, he looked godly. He offered hospitality to the visitors and tried to protect them. He was outwardly moral. However, when the pressure came, he compromised and offered his daughters. Trials revealed what was really in his heart, as they do with all.

This is common for us. We want to be godly, but when taking a test we could potentially fail, we choose to cheat. When pressure comes, worldly believers give into the world. They like the concept of godliness, as long as it doesn’t cost them something, as long as it doesn’t hurt. Psalm 15:1–4 says this:

LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,

Those who dwell in the Lord’s presence (i.e. friends of God) keep their oaths “even when it hurts.” They keep their oaths even when the pressure is on, but worldly believers continually compromise under pressure. It would have been more righteous for Lot to offer himself to protect these men, instead of offering his daughters.

Are you willing to be holy and righteous even when it hurts, even when there is a cost? Worldly believers only want to be godly when it’s convenient—as long as there is no cost or pressure. When it gets lonely on the weekends, they give in and find satisfaction and joy in the same ways the world does. They want no cost in their lives—no cross (cf. Luke 24:26–27).

Application Question: What are common ways that we are tempted to compromise when under pressure? How can we stand when temptation comes?

Friends of the World Sacrifice Their Families for Cultural Status

Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” (Genesis 19:8)

We have just considered Lot’s tragic offer of his daughters to a gang of men and how friends of the world compromise their morals when pressured; however, more insight can be gained from this. His offer was actually in accordance with cultural expectations of that day. In the ancient eastern culture, there was a strong emphasis on hospitality, so much so, that “it was understood a guest was to be protected more than your own family.”2 If Lot failed to do this, he would have lost face in the community—it would be considered shameful.

Sadly, this happens in Christian homes all the time, but in different ways. To protect themselves from the shame of society, Christians who become pregnant out of wedlock commonly sacrifice their unborn children at abortion clinics all around the world. They offer their children on the altar of shame. Others who are married offer them on the altar of comfort. They don’t want the discomfort children would bring to their lives so they sacrifice them.

Some parents, to appease family and culture, spend their life seeking a certain economic status by securing the right education, the right housing, and the right cars. Sadly, in order to do this, many neglect their children. They don’t see their kids. They expect the education system to raise them. By seeking the applause and affirmation of the world, they sacrifice their children.

Many Christian families, sometimes even those in ministry, sacrifice their children while pursuing success. Consequently, many young females give themselves physically to men seeking the affirmation and love lacked in their homes. Many young men struggle with great insecurity and anxiety because of a lack of parental affirmation. They find themselves on an endless pursuit of approval, which often leads them to the world. If the world will love and approve them, where their mothers and fathers did not, then they will follow the world. Many Christians do exactly what Lot did; they just do it in a different way.

As we will see, not only did Lot literally offer his daughters to this gang of men, but it is clear that he really sacrificed them long before. At the end of the story, his daughters rape him to have children. While Lot was seeking wealth and riches in Sodom, Sodom was being sown into his daughter’s hearts every day. Sodom was not only known for homosexuality, but incest and bestiality, just as its neighbors in Canaan (cf. Lev 18:24). These girls were neglected by their father and became worldly just like Sodom.

Friends of the world sacrifice their children for cultural status.

Application Question: In what ways have you seen Christians sacrifice their children for cultural status? How can we protect our families and our children from this common scenario?

Friends of the World Lack Spiritual Influence

“Get out of our way,” they replied. And they said, “This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. (Genesis 19:9)

Another thing we can learn from this narrative about worldly believers is that they lack spiritual influence. When Lot tries to get these men to stop, they replied, “‘Get out of our way…This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.’”

It is implied by their statement that Lot either never or rarely challenged Sodomites over their sin. They said that he was “now” trying to play the judge. No doubt, Lot realized long ago that if he was bold for God in that culture, he would lose friends and his ability to prosper, so he remained quiet. He saw silence as a reasonable opportunity cost.

Second Peter 2:7–9 said this about Lot:

and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.

Peter called Lot righteous and said that Sodom’s sins tormented his righteous soul; however, it must be assumed that it stopped there. He was tormented but didn’t speak out against it.

In fact, as mentioned, he had so little spiritual influence, he barely affected his family. He lost his wife to worldliness and love for Sodom. He lost his sons-in-law who thought he was joking when he warned them about God’s judgment (cf. 19:14). Obviously, he had never warned them about God’s judgment, and therefore, they could not take him seriously. He also lost his daughters who eventually raped him.

In his many years of living in Sodom, Lot didn’t even save his family. Even his daughters were corrupted by the world. Lot had little to no spiritual influence.

This is true of worldly believers as well. Because their language, clothing, entertainment, goals, and morals, are no different from the world’s, nobody takes them seriously when it comes to faith. They don’t really spiritually affect their family and peers in a positive manner.

Christ said this in Matthew 5:13: ‘“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

The metaphor of salt is meant to demonstrate how Christians are to influence and preserve society from corruption. However, Christ said that if salt loses its saltiness, it is good for nothing. For those who are familiar with chemistry, we know that salt cannot lose its saltiness. Sodium Chloride (NaCl) cannot lose its essential properties. Then, what was Christ talking about? The way salt loses its saltiness is by mixing with something else. Often salt could be found on river banks, and if it was mixed with dirt or other particles, it would no longer be salty.

This is true for believers as well. When believers start to mix with the world, though they can never lose their essential properties as a child of God, they lose their effectiveness by compromise. Worldly believers have lost their saltiness. They may have some positive effects on people, but it is largely absent. Lot is to be praised for raising daughters that still had their virginity in that society. He obviously shepherded their actions but neglected their hearts. Because of that, he lost them.

Are you still salty? Are you still influencing others for Christ?

Application Question: How can Christians strike the balance of being in the world but not of the world?

Friends of the World Are Reluctant to Give up Sin

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. (Genesis 19:15–20)

After the men refused Lot’s offer of his daughters, they tried to break down the doors to reach the angels. The angels blinded the men, and yet, the men still tried to claw their way to the door—showing their desperation (v. 10–11). Even blindness would not stop them.

After this scenario, the angels had their evidence. Sodom was corrupt, and therefore, God was going to destroy it. They asked Lot if he had any others in the city with him (v. 12). This interesting narrative note demonstrates the fact that angels are not omniscient. They did not know if others were with him. Lot tried to convince his sons-in-law but they would not listen (v.14).

Next, the angels urged Lot to take his wife and two daughters out of the city or they would be punished with it (v.15). Then verse 16 says something peculiar, “When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them” (v. 16). It says that after they urged him to flee, Lot “hesitated.” The Hebrew term means to linger, delay, or wait.3

This doesn’t make any sense. If someone said the building I was located at was about to explode, I would run for dear life! This hesitation shows Lot’s reluctance to give up his sin. Now, it was not sin to live in Sodom. The sin was Sodom being in Lot’s heart—he loved the world and the things of the world (cf. 1 John 2:15).

In fact, after dragging him and his family out of the city, the angels urged Lot to flee to the mountains, but he petitions to stay in a small city named Zoar—a little town at the southern end of the Jordan River Valley.4 Zoar literally means “small.” Lot implies that traveling to the mountains would be too difficult for him or that living there would be too hard, so he asked to go to Zoar. However, it really seems that Lot is just unwilling to give up his sin—his love for the world. He wants to keep at least a little bit in his life. Derek Kidner said this about Lot, “Not even brimstone will make a pilgrim of him: he must have his little Sodom again if life is to be supportable.”5

Sadly, this is how many Christians are. They like aspects of the world, even though they grieve God’s heart. It is for that reason many never get rid of certain sins but instead allow them to linger in their lives. They are hesitant like Lot to fully give up the world—a sinful character trait, hobby, ambition, or relationship—and therefore, it stays in their lives.

Christ said this about sin in Matthew 5:29–30:

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Essentially Christ says that if we are going to get rid of sin, we must have an absolute animosity for it. We must hate it so much that we are willing to murder it. This is the reason many cannot be set free from besetting sins—they don’t hate them enough.

Often the person struggling with pornography is not willing to get rid of the TV, the Internet, or any other doorway to that sin. The person in an ungodly relationship often is not willing to end that relationship in order to be holy. People often are not willing to be drastic to be free from sin.

This was Lot’s problem. That is why he hesitated and had to be dragged out of Sodom. And that is why he asked to go to Zoar. He was a man who loved the world and the things of the world. He did not hate his own compromise enough to be free of it. Friends of the world are reluctant to get rid of their sin and compromise. They want just a little Zoar in their life.

What is your Zoar? What are your little areas of compromise in your life?

Application Question: Why is it so hard to hate certain sins in such a way that we will do anything to get rid of them? Have you experienced certain sins or compromises lingering in your life simply because you didn’t hate them enough?

Friends of the World Are Materialistic

As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”… Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:17, 24–26)

Interpretation Question: Why did Lot’s wife look back at Sodom, even though the angels told her not to?

Next, we see the unfortunate death of Lot’s wife. The angels told Lot and his family to flee the city and to not look back. When they got to Zoar, the angels would then destroy the city. However, while on the way to Zoar, Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. This sounds like a fairytale; however, Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived from 37–100 AD, said he saw the pillar of Lot’s wife. It was still there over 2,000 years later.6

Most likely Lot’s wife was a Sodomite, someone he met in Sodom. Why did she look back?

Christ used the story of Lot’s wife as a picture of the time right before the second coming in Luke 17:28–32. He said,

“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

During the time period that the Son of Man comes, nobody on the roof of his house should go back to get his goods. It will be a time of great judgment, as with Sodom. Christ says, “Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it.” Since he uses Lot’s wife as a reference in the context of a person returning to get goods in his house, the implication is that she looked back because of her possessions. They left their house, herds, and fields. Everything they owned was left behind, and therefore, Lot’s wife could not but look back. Her heart was in Sodom with all her things!

This is how many Christians are. They are consumed with things: houses, cars, iPhones, iPads, and clothes. They are materialistic.

Christ gives materialism as a descriptor of the world and how Christians should not live for these things. In Matthew 6:31–32, Christ says, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”

He says the pagans run after food, drink, and clothes. They are consumed with them, but Christians should not be. Sadly, a lot of Christians are just like the world—consumed with material. They are frantic every time a new product comes out, and they run around like the world does to obtain them.

Interpretation Question: What should the Christian’s relationship to the material things of this world be like?

At least two verses clearly address this. Christ said in Matthew 6:19–21:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Christ said believers should not store up the riches of this world because they tend to steal our hearts. He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When Christians store up the riches of this world, it becomes hard for them to focus on heavenly things. Like Lot and his wife, they often become more concerned with keeping or gaining wealth rather than the things of heaven. Lot and his wife had a difficult time leaving their wealth because wealth had their hearts.

Paul also teaches about the Christian attitude towards the material things of this world in 1 Corinthians 7:29–31. He says,

What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

Paul said that those who buy something should treat it as if it was not theirs to keep. When I go to a hotel, I don’t buy new curtains or covers because I will only be there temporarily. Similarly, we should never forget the temporary nature of worldly things, as they are passing away. In addition, those who use the things of this world should not be engrossed in them. The things God graciously gives us should instead be used as tools to worship and glorify him.

However, worldly Christians are consumed with the things of this world. They run around seeking to gain them just like the world. They know nothing of, “Do not store up riches on this earth.” They have been raised in the world, and they have never gotten the spirit of materialism out of them. If you ask them how they practice the discipline of not storing up riches on this earth, they would have nothing to say because their practice is no different from the worlds’.

The disciples sold all they had. Much of the early church did the same. Scripture does not command us to practice this discipline the same way, but we all must at least pray about it and ask God how we should obey his command. Lot and his wife knew nothing about this. They were consumed with their things, which hindered their obedience to God.

Application Question: How big of a problem is materialism for you? How do you practice the discipline of not storing up riches?

Friends of the World Lack Fear of God

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”… Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:15–17, 24–26)

The previous point leads us to the next. Not only were Lot and his wife materialistic, but they also clearly lacked a fear of the Lord. The angels told Lot’s family to not look back nor to stop anywhere in the plain, and if they did, they would be swept away (v. 17). However, Lot’s wife still looked back and, consequently, was turned into a pillar of salt.

Why did she not heed the angel’s warning? Obviously, she didn’t take God and his discipline seriously. She thought, “God won’t discipline me for looking back” or “A little look won’t hurt” or “God is a forgiving God.” Sadly, this is all too common in the church. We know about a God of love, but we know very little about a God of discipline.

Application Question: Why is the fear of the Lord so uncommon among Christians today?

Maybe it’s uncommon because of the watered down preaching often seen in churches. When considering the gospel, it is often taught as a means of self-fulfillment and higher self-esteem. It is the pathway to getting rid of problems and the door to health and wealth. But the reality of God’s wrath and being delivered from it is often minimized or not mentioned at all.

Sadly, this is the current state of the church. Christ preached more on hell than heaven; however, the church today doesn’t want to mention hell or God’s wrath for fear of offending others. However, the gospel is offensive! It is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor 1:18)! In addition, Scripture says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10). We can’t live wise lives unless we fear God.

Often, carnal Christians view God as their big Buddy in the sky. They often declare that he doesn’t mind their sin. He knows that they are just going through “a phase,” and everything is OK. Or, they know God will forgive their sins, so they will just ask forgiveness when they’re done sinning. They know nothing of the God who is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29). To them, the God who destroyed the world with water is a fairy tale. The God who destroyed Sodom is a God of the past, and the God who exiled Israel is not the God of the New Testament. Worldly believers don’t fear or take God seriously.

Lot’s wife turned back because she didn’t fear God, and no doubt, part of the reason Lot hesitated was his lack of fear. The angels said, “God is going to destroy the city! Run!” Then Lot stopped to think, “Is God really going to destroy the city? Would he really do such a thing?” He had to be dragged out of the city by the angels. Often worldly Christians must be dragged to church, dragged to read their Bible’s, dragged out of darkness. Why? It’s because they don’t fear God. The fear of God is the beginning of living a wise life.

Application Question: What are major hindrances to fearing God? How do we grow in the fear of the Lord? Do you you fear God? Why or why not?

Friends of the World Receive God’s Discipline

But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.) By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. (Genesis 19:18–23)

Interesting enough, when Lot pleads with the angels to allow him to go Zoar, the angels grant his request. Certainly, this is pretty amazing. Yes, Zoar was small, but it was sinful just like the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah.

This was a tremendous grace to Zoar, as it would give the people longer to repent. However, this was not good for Lot and his daughters. This would only enforce Lot’s worldliness and put them around more corrupt people. In fact, we later see that Lot eventually moved away from Zoar to the caves in the mountains because of fear. Genesis 19:30 says, “Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave.”

Why was Lot afraid to stay in the city that he requested to live in? Obviously, Zoar was full of wicked people—just like Sodom—and we already know how Sodomites treated visitors. No wonder, they, eventually, fled to the mountains.

Interpretation Question: Why did God allow Lot to go Zoar, when he had already condemned the city because of its sin?

Allowing them to go to Zoar was probably a form of discipline. Sometimes God spanks us when we sin, and sometimes he simply says, “Go ahead. You don’t want to obey. Go ahead and reap the consequences of your sin.” The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 is a good example of this. The son approached the father and asked for his inheritance, essentially saying, “I want you dead!” The father gave the son the inheritance and let him go until he learned his lesson and returned home.

Many times God does that with us. He doesn’t fight us. He says, “Go ahead and enjoy your sin and compromise, until you have learned your lesson.” Like the Prodigal Son, worldly believers often must get to the point of brokenness—where they come to their senses—and then return to the Father’s house.

We see something of this in Romans 1:21–28, where God’s judgment on pagans for not acknowledging him is described. Consider God’s judgment,

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. (Romans 1:24)

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. (Romans 1:26)

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:28)

What was God’s judgment on the pagan world? He gave them over to the sexual impurity, homosexuality, and depravity that was already in their hearts. Many times God’s judgment is displayed by allowing a nation, a community, or a person to experience their evil desires and its consequences, with the hope that they eventually repent.

Sadly, this not only happens to the world but to Christians. They want to enjoy the sexual immorality of the world, and therefore, God hands them over. They experience conflict, emotional scars, disease, or worse. This happens in the church far too often.

One of the characteristics of worldly Christians is experiencing God’s discipline. Hebrews 12:5–6 says,

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

It seems Lot experienced God’s discipline when he was allowed to go to Zoar, which he soon left out of fear.

Application Question: Do you think that Lot being allowed to go to Zoar was a form of God’s discipline? In what ways have you experienced God’s discipline, and how did you respond to it?

Friends of the World Pass Compromise to Their Children

Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth. Let’s get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father.” That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I lay with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and lie with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went and lay with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today. (Genesis 19:30–38)

The story is not over; it only gets worse. Lot and his daughters move away from Zoar and settle in a cave in the mountains. Caves were often places where people buried the dead. Lot would rather live in a tomb than stay in Zoar. As mentioned earlier, his daughters, who desired to have children, got their father drunk and raped him. They bore two sons: The older son’s name was Moab, which means “from father” and Ben-ammi, which means “son of kinsman.”7The fact that the daughters named their children after their incest means they weren’t ashamed of it. It was actually something they boasted about! When they met people and introduced their children, they essentially boasted in how their children were conceived.

Interestingly, early records tell us incest was forbidden in this ancient eastern culture, which shows how depraved the daughter’s actions were. Kent Hughes gives us some insight into this:

Incest was considered wrong in Near-Eastern culture, as Harry Hoffner has shown in his festschrift for Cyrus Gordon, Orient and Occident. And Hebrew culture explicitly forbade a man’s having relations with his daughters or daughters-in-law (Leviticus 20:12Ezekiel 22:10, 11). The penalty for such sin was death (Leviticus 20:11–13). Mesopotamian culture similarly forbade such incest in the Code of Hammurabi (Paragraphs 154–158). Likewise Hittite laws forbade such sins, punishing them either by death or banishment and, later, by paying a fine and sending an animal out of the town bearing the guilt on the analogy of Israel’s scapegoat.8

Though incest had become a common practice in Sodom and Gomorrah and also in Canaan, it was against the common laws of that time. Lot’s daughters’ deceptive acts were clearly wrong, and their boast in it made it even worse.

Lot’s compromise was not only passed onto his children but his children’s children. The two male children became the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites—future enemies of Israel. It was the Moabite king that tried to persuade the false prophet Baalam to curse Israel while in the wilderness (Num 22–24). Then, when Baalam wouldn’t curse them, the king sent Moabite women to tempt the Israelite men with sexual immorality and Baal worship (Num 25).

In the book of Judges, the Ammonites are seen fighting against Israel while they were in Canaan (Judges 11). They were bitter rivals. The sins of Lot continued in his children, even to the point that they became enemies of God and his people.

This happens with many parents who profess Christ but don’t practice their faith at home or in their daily lives. Often they raise up children who eventually become antagonistic towards God. They say, “If that is Christianity, I want nothing to do with it!” Like the Ammonites and Moabites, they become enemies of God all together.

Exodus 20:5–6 describes the process of the fathers’ sins following the children:

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Does this mean the children of the disobedient will be punished to the third and fourth generation? No, it means that the parents’ sins and the consequences of them will show up until the third or fourth generation (cf. Deut 24:16). Sin is hard to root out of a family line. It is common to find alcoholism, domestic abuse, children out of wedlock, and even witchcraft, pass from generation to generation. Lot’s sins affected his children’s children, and this commonly happens in the homes of worldly Christians as well.

Application Question: In what ways have you seen or experienced how sin and its consequences pass from generation to generation? In what ways have you seen or experienced how righteousness and its blessings pass from generation to generation?

Friends of the World Still Receive God’s Grace and Mercy

Observation Question: In what ways do we see God’s grace and mercy on Lot in this narrative?

As we finish this text, we also cannot but notice how God’s grace and mercy were still on Lot’s life. God’s favor is like a thread running throughout the entire narrative. Where do we see this?

1. God’s grace and mercy are seen in Lot’s eternal salvation.

Again, Peter calls Lot a righteous man—meaning that he was saved (cf. 2 Pet 2:7). He was not righteous because of anything righteous he did, but because of the righteousness given to him through faith in God. Just like Abraham, he was justified by faith (cf. Gen 15:6). This in itself is grace—unmerited favor. God saves undeserving sinners. Thank you, Lord.

2. God’s grace and mercy are seen in Lot’s deliverance from judgment.

Abraham was incorrect in his assessment that God would not allow the righteous to suffer with the wicked (cf. Gen 18:23–25). The righteous suffer with the wicked all the time. The angels even told Lot that if he didn’t leave Sodom he would be swept away with the wicked (19:15). It was God’s grace and mercy that Lot was saved.

In fact, many times God, by his grace, protects us from the consequences of our sins and others, even though we deserve them. We saw this in Genesis 12, as Abraham rebelled in Egypt. He lied about his wife, and she was taken into Pharaoh’s harem. While there, God protected her and brought a disease upon Pharaoh’s household until she was released. Yes, even in rebellion, the Lord is still the shepherd of lost sheep; he cares for them and graciously provides for them. Many times God protects us from the full consequences of sin, as well.

3. God’s grace and mercy are seen in Lot’s uncle Abraham and his prayers.

In addition, one of the great mercies in Lot’s life was his uncle Abraham. I have no idea why Lot did not return to his uncle’s house after losing everything in Sodom. When the angels told Lot to go to the mountains, they were probably referring to Abraham’s house. Sodom was the land of the plain and Abraham lived in the mountains (cf. Gen 19:27). Maybe, Lot was too ashamed to return to Abraham. Maybe, he was angry at Abraham because of the constant conviction coming from his righteous life.

Whatever the reason, we can be clear about this: Lot was saved from judgment because of righteous Abraham’s prayer. Genesis 19:29 says, “So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.” When Abraham prayed to God about delivering the righteous, God did. He saved Lot.

This is true of many worldly Christians; they are recipients of grace stemming from the prayers of the church, believing parents, or friends. As the saints pray for them, though God disciplines, in that discipline God remembers mercy (cf. Hab 3:2). He gives mercy to them because of the saints’ prayers, and many times he eventually leads them back to Christ. Lot and his daughters received God’s mercy in response to Abraham’s prayers.

Let us not give up on those who are far away from God. God hears the prayers of his saints. The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective (James 5:16).

4. Grace and mercy are seen in Lot’s prayer for Zoar and its deliverance.

But, I think we see another form of grace and mercy in Lot’s prayer. When Lot prays to go down to Zoar, God spares the city, even though they were wicked. Lot’s prayers, though probably few, were effective. In the same way, by God’s grace, God still uses worldly Christians to save and bless some. Those who are truly born again will always produce some fruit (cf. James 2:17John 15:8), even though they miss God’s best.

Because they are God’s children, they are still recipients of God’s grace and mercy. It is his love, goodness, and patience that are meant to draw them to repentance (cf. Rom 2:4). Like the Prodigal Son’s father, God waits, and waits for worldly believers to return so he can kiss them, hug them, and put his robe on them (cf. Luke 15:20–23). He still wants to give them his best. Thank you, Lord, for your amazing grace and mercy.

Application Question: In what ways have you experienced God’s grace and mercy, even while in rebellion? How can we show God’s love to those not faithfully walking with God or in total rebellion?

Conclusion

What are characteristics of worldly believers—friends of the world?

  1. Friends of the World Lack Intimacy with God
  2. Friends of the World Lack Generosity in Their Offerings to God
  3. Friends of the World Have Compromised Morals, especially when Pressured
  4. Friends of the World Sacrifice Their Families for Cultural Status
  5. Friends of the World Lack Spiritual Influence
  6. Friends of the World Are Reluctant to Give up Sin
  7. Friends of the World Are Materialistic
  8. Friends of the World Lack Fear of God
  9. Friends of the World Receive God’s Discipline
  10. Friends of the World Pass Compromise to Their Children
  11. Friends of the World Still Receive God’s Grace and Mercy

—————-

**Copyright © 2017 Gregory Brown at Bible.org + http://www.pgregorybrown.com

The primary Scriptures used are New International Version (1984) unless otherwise noted. Other versions include English Standard Version, New Living Translation, New American Standard Bible, and King James Version.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.


1 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: Beginning and Blessing (p. 270). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

2 Guzik, David (2012-12-08). Genesis (Kindle Locations 3188–3190). Enduring Word Media. Kindle Edition.

3 Swindoll, Charles R. (2014-07-16). Abraham: One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith (Kindle Locations 2062–2063). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

4 Swindoll, Charles R. (2014-07-16). Abraham: One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith (Kindle Locations 2109–2110). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

5 Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introductionand Commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 145–146). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

6 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: Beginning and Blessing (p. 275). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

7 Swindoll, Charles R. (2014-07-16). Abraham: One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith (Kindle Locations 2313–2314). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

8 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: Beginning and Blessing (p. 281). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Loving Your Husband When Your Own Love Tank is Low

I just wasn’t feeling the love. If everyone has a love tank, mine was low. And it was making me cranky. I have read about loving your husband, but love was the last thing I was feeling.

It wasn’t my husband’s fault really. Due to military life, I hadn’t seen him in a month and didn’t get to talk to him as much as when he’s home. I wasn’t getting my quality time. Or my words of affirmation. Or my acts of service. Or physical touch. Or gifts. None of the five love languages and I was feeling it.

The lies began in my mind. “He doesn’t really want to come home.” “He would be texting you more if he really missed you.” “He would have sent you flowers if he really cared.”

I knew I was only feeling this way because my love tank was low. And I knew it wasn’t my husband’s fault at all. I knew deep down he wanted to come home to me just as much as I wanted him to get home. But that didn’t stop me from feeling grumpy. If he took too long to text back, I wanted to lash out. I wanted to say, “Forget it. You don’t really care!”

Thankfully, I’ve read some great books on marriage and I’ve heard some great sermons on being a godly wife. The things I have learned over the years came back to me. I remembered how in one book it told me that I have to give love to my husband even when he doesn’t deserve it. Even when I’m not feeling love, I have to give love.

If I lashed out, it would cause him to lash out, which would cause me to lash out. We would both be hurt and therefore angry at one another. A vicious cycle would ensue and round and round we’d go into a big ugly fight. A fight that would really only be caused by circumstances we can’t change and lies being thrown by Satan.

So this time, instead of throwing angry words and causing a fight, I wrote Travis a big long text telling him how much I loved him and how much I couldn’t wait for him to get home. I went to the grocery store and I bought him a bunch of his favorite foods to have when he got home. I made the choice to love him even though I wasn’t feeling much love.

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” — Psalm 141:3

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” — Colossians 2:20

I realized I can’t show Travis love only in hopes of getting love back. These books and sermons have taught me that love isn’t selfish. It’s the exact opposite. Love is selfless. Love is showing someone you care without expecting anything in return. 

“When an action doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love. Ultimately, comfort is not the issue. We are talking about love, and love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself. Love is a choice.” — Gary Chapman (The 5 Love Languages)

By loving my husband this way, I am loving Christ. 

Our husbands are merely vessels to Christ. We love Christ by loving our husbands. We serve Christ by serving our husbands. Even when our husbands deserve the exact opposite of love, we should love them because that is what Christ has called us to do. It’s an act of obedience.

“With eyes of faith, envision Jesus standing just beyond the shoulder of your spouse and listening to every word you speak in every conversation, pleasant or tense. When you speak lovingly or respectfully to your spouse, you are speaking to Christ. Your spouse just happens to be there too.” — Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (Love and Respect)

The great thing about love is it can become a cycle as well. When we pour all our love into our husbands, it changes them. It makes them want to love back.

If we love on our husbands, it would cause our husbands to want to show us love, which would cause us to love him better. We would both feel loved and therefore happy with one another. A virtuous cycle would ensue and round and round we’d go into a healthy marriage!

I know this is something I’m still learning. It’s something I will always have to be striving for, always asking God to help me love my husband the same way Christ loves me — even when my own love tank is low. Because when we speak lovingly to our spouses, no matter how they have spoken to or treated us, we are speaking lovingly to our God who so desperately deserves it.

How have you struggled with loving your husband? In what ways, have you loved him even when you weren’t feeling love in return?

——————

***Article and Photo By Tiffany at Seeingsunshine.com

The Spirit of Grace and Power

I want to speak today on grace and power in the Holy Spirit. I want to begin with the first promise in the New Testament. Yesterday I mentioned, that when we come to the Word of God, if we don’t come with an open mind, we may not see new truths. We’ll see the old truths again and again, and perhaps new illustrations to explain the old truths. But if I come to God’s Word thinking that I’ve already understood everything God has to show me, I can miss something new God has for me. And one of the things I decided many years ago was that I’d always let God change my thinking if there was something I had not understood properly, that He would correct it and lead me into that, which was correct; that He’d help me to understand His ways, even if it brought me into conflict with a lot of, what is known as Christianity.

Now you’ve got to be willing to pay that price… if God sees in any of our hearts, the desire to find security in people around us and not in Him alone, He won’t lead us on. If He sees in us a slight desire to please someone……do you know what the Word of God says? “If I seek to please men, I cannot be the servant of Christ.” So I want to invite you, to open your minds, as you hear and say, “Lord, show me, is this your Word or not? Correct my thinking. Lead me, in the path which is right.” And let God convince you. Very often when I speak to people, they say, “Yes, I’m gripped….” And I say, “Hang on. You’re convinced because I said it. And you’ve got some respect for me. Take that before God. You got it second-hand from me. Take it before God and make it first-hand. Let Him convince you from His Word. And then you’ll never shake.”

Okay, the first promise in the New Testament, is found in Matthew 1, in verse 21. The very first promise in the New Testament, where the angel told Joseph that this little baby that is going to be born to Mary, “His name shall be called Jesus,” because, “He will save His people from their sins.” That’s the first promise in the New Testament. “He will save His people from their sins.” And that’s why His name is Jesus. Many people who use the name Jesus don’t know why He is called Jesus. Here the angel explains it. “His name shall be called Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.” Now we use the word “save” very frequently. And very often, we equate being “saved” with being forgiven. Now that’s not true. And that’s the distinction I want to make here. This is a new covenant. As soon as you come to this, the previous page says, New Testament. It’s a new covenant. This is something new! Which they didn’t have in the Old Testament. They had forgiveness in Old Testament. Psalm 103, a thousand years before Christ was born, David said, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and forget not all His benefits; One who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who crowns your life with good things….” That’s material blessing. They had forgiveness from sins, healing from sickness, material blessing, in the Old Testament. What they didn’t have, was being Saved from sin. That’s why the New Testament begins, with this as the very first promise. This is the distinctive feature of the New Covenant! David could not say, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, who saves me from sin in my life….” No…He could only say “God forgives me.” What is the difference of me being forgiven and being saved from sin? Now very often when we talk about being saved, we talk about being saved from the wrath of God. That’s in a moment, when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. Without any works… “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling…” That’s the only way to be saved from the wrath of God. That is salvation from the penalty of sin.

But now there is another salvation, from the power of sin. And that’s what it’s speaking of here. One day in the future, we’ll be saved from the presence of sin, altogether. That’s future. But right now, in between the time I was born-again, and the time Jesus comes again, I am to be saved from the power of sin. That’s what’s being spoken of here. To use a illustration – If my little five-year old son was going outside the house, and I said, “Son, be careful, they’re digging up the road there, they made a big, huge eight-foot pit there and don’t go anywhere near it.” And like little boys are, they disobey. And he falls into the pit and says, “Daddy!” And I come running and I say, “What’s the matter son?” And he says, “Well Daddy, I’m sorry, I disobeyed you.” He’s there in the pit… And I say, “Okay son, you’re forgiven, goodbye.” I want to ask you a question. Have I forgiven him? Have I saved him? That’s the difference. That’s the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

In the Old Covenant, they were forgiven, but they will still in the pit. They had to keep offering sacrifices everyday. But now with One Sacrifice, it says, it’s all over. We cannot only be forgiven, we can be saved. “You shall call His name, “Jesus”, because, it’s not He will forgive their sins, but “He will save His people, from their sins.” He will save His people from their dirty thoughts, and lustful thinking, and from their anger and from their bitterness against their wives and from jealousy and strife and every other form of evil. That’s why we call Him, Jesus! That’s the message of the New Covenant! And if you haven’t experienced it, it’s because the god of this world, the devil, has blinded our eyes, to the full gospel.

See, this is an expression that is used a lot in the world today, “Full Gospel”. People say we’re a “Full Gospel” Church. But what’s the full gospel? It’s being saved from our sins. It’s no use saying we’re a “Full Gospel” Church if people living inside there are still defeated by sin. Whatever gift of the Spirit they may have. Jesus came to save us from sin. That is the Full Good News. That I’m not only saved from the wrath of God, but I can be saved from this, wretched, sinful flesh of mine that has kept pulling me down, down, down, for so many years. You know, I have heard of a particular lunatic asylum, where they give a little test to see whether a man has come back to his senses or not. They put him in a room with a tap open, a faucet open, and the water flowing, and they give him a bucket and a mop to dry the floor. And if he tries to dry the floor without first closing the tap, they know he still needs to stay there a little longer. It’ll never end! He’ll be mopping the floor all his life! But you know, that’s what Christians do with the Blood of Jesus Christ. It never ends! We’re mopping, and mopping , and mopping….. well, that’s at least good news that we’ve got a mop and a bucket, but I want to say, the gospel is even better to use than that. God can do something about that “tap”. Otherwise, it really wouldn’t be “Good News”! If all that God could say to me was, “Well, you’re going to be forgiven, but you’re going to be defeated by the same old lusts, all your life.” I’d say, “Well, thank you Lord, but I’d hoped it would be better than that.” And it is better than that. “You shall call His name, “Jesus”, because He shall save His people from their sins.” The very first promise, as soon as you turn, to the pages of the New Testament. But we missed it! We thought it was all genealogy. “Somebody begat so and so, and somebody begat so and so…..” And you didn’t come to this verse. And you turned over, and rushed through. But this is the very first promise in the New Testament. Salvation from sin.

      I want to turn to Hebrews in chapter 4, we read verse 15 and 16; “We don’t have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,…” In other words, to put it in a positive way, “We have a High Priest, who can sympathize with our weaknesses. Why? “…because He was tempted in all points, as we are, yet without sin.” Now I’m sure that God can sympathize with us, even without having become a man. Because He’s God. But, you know, we’d always feel, “Well you don’t really understand what I’m going through.” You know it’s like a really wealthy man, goes to a slum and says, “Well, I really feel sorry for you folks, and here’s a little money.” They’ll never feel that he understands what they’re going through. “He lives in his palace up there; he’s a multi-millionaire…what does he know about living in the slums?” He may be a sincere person. Very affectionate, very compassionate. But those people in the slums will never feel that he understands them. And that’s why God became a man. He came into this slum. That’s the Good News. He loved us so much. That He came into this filthy slum, and lived here, and….. Wonder of Wonders; “He was tempted in all points,” as you and I are. I remember the first time my eyes were open to this truth. And interestingly enough, it was about fifteen years after I was born again. You know, Jesus once spoke about the ladder that Jacob saw. Jacob once had a dream where he saw a ladder going up to Heaven and the angels of God descending and ascending upon that ladder, and in John chapter 1 when Jesus spoke to Nathaniel, He said that that ladder was Himself. He said, “I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” And I always thought that that ladder, which came all the way from Heaven, stopped a little short, of down at my level. I thought, “Jesus couldn’t possibly have come right down to my level, to be like me…” And the day my eyes were open to that glorious truth, that, like it says in Hebrews 2:17, “He had to be made like His brothers, in all things.” He became like me. I wept tears of joy. I said, “Lord, I never knew you loved me so much. I never knew, that you loved me, to become exactly like me, to lift me from the pit in which I was. That last rung of the ladder came all the way down to earth. It didn’t stop, some ten feet above me. Now many people can’t think of that; that Jesus could become just like me. That He could be tempted just like me. They feel it robs Him of some of His glory. It’s not true. I live in a country that’s had a lot of Godly missionaries that have come from Western countries, including the United States, and I praise God for Godly men and women who’ve come there, and who’ve sacrificed and suffered for people in my country. And I’ve said to people in our land, I said, “Supposing a missionary from the United States where they live in such great comfort, comes to our land and lives in a five-star hotel, and visits the slum everyday, and preaches the gospel…well, that still would be a sacrifice. But think of another missionary who comes from a similar wealthy background and comes and lives in that slum. Whom would you admire more? Would you despise this person because he lived in the slum? No.” The glory of Jesus became greater, when I saw that He became just like me. And that He was tempted like me, on every single point…..I wouldn’t believe it, if it were not written in scripture, and He didn’t sin. Now I don’t want to try and analyze that. I just want to find the comfort I get from that. That when I’m tempted, I could now say, “Lord Jesus, sometime in your walk in Nazareth, in those thirty years you were tempted just like I am being tempted right now. Give me the grace to react and resist this temptation the way you did, when you walked in Nazareth.” You know in the Old Testament, the Old Covenant/New Covenant differences, the many differences, one of them is this: The Old Covenant was full of commandments, “Thou shalt….Thou shalt not….. Thou shalt…. Thou shalt not….” And so on. That was good. But in the New Covenant, God gave us an example, who said, “Follow Me..” Now supposing, none of you knew how to swim. And here I wanted to teach you how to swim, and there are two ways to teach you. One is to draw diagrams on the blackboard – how to move your hands and legs, and then say, “Okay fellows, go jump in the river now and remember what you saw on the blackboard……” That was the Old Covenant. Absolutely accurate – those diagrams were perfect! How to move our hands and how breathe in and out and everything….Wouldn’t it be better, the second method, where I say, “Come along with me to the river,” and I jump in and say, “Follow me”. That’s the New Covenant. That’s why Hebrews says the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. Jesus never gave us a lot of commandments like Moses, He said, “Follow Me…I’ve been tempted like you…” There’s not a single temptation any of us can ever face, which He hasn’t faced, and He overcame; He never sinned! Now, we’ve got to read scripture carefully – It doesn’t say He faced all the circumstances we face; no…. He didn’t have a drunken father….He didn’t have a nagging wife….He didn’t have difficult children…. He didn’t face the temptations to impatience we face, with other drivers on the road. It’s the same in India by the way – it’s actually worse. We have cows and dogs and everyone on the road – and we’ve got a lot more patience then you all over here. He didn’t face our circumstances. The Bible doesn’t say; it’s not necessary. But the temptations that come in those circumstances – He faced them. You don’t have to face the same circumstances. The temptation to be irritated, the temptation to be impatient, the temptation to be angry; He faced them all, and He overcame. And He says, “Follow Me…..Look at my example”. And I want to say , in my personal testimony, in the last twenty-five years, since I saw this truth; And I’m sorry that it took me fifteen years after I was born again to see it; is when I am tempted, I say, “Lord, you were tempted like this, exactly like this…..” Maybe a temptation to compromise, maybe a temptation to please some man; it may be a temptation to lust, it may be a temptation to get angry, it may be a temptation to anything…..I go to Hebrews 4, “You were tempted like me and you didn’t sin. I want to do the same thing. I want to see your footsteps. And I want to plant my feet in your footsteps the way you walked in Nazareth.” And I want to tell you, it works. 

      Now I want to go to the next verse, Hebrews 4, verse 16, because it goes on from there. He says, “Therefore,” And like someone said, whenever you see a therefore in scripture, see what it is there for. What’s a therefore? Why does it say therefore? Because it’s connected to the previous verse. “Therefore, let us, (because we have a high priest, who can sympathize with us,)” who has walked this way, who was tempted like us, who became like us in everything, and who understands the struggle, who understands the need to resist sin unto blood, like it says in Hebrews 12:3, who faced such a great contradiction of sinners against Himself, Hebrews 12:3, 4. Let’s look unto Him and run this race. “Let us therefore draw near with great boldness, to the Throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy, and that we may find grace.” We need two things: Mercy and Grace. 

      Mercy is an Old Covenant word. You don’t find grace in the Old Covenant. Even in the one or two places where it says, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” What it means is he found favor. It’s not speaking about that grace which only came through Jesus Christ, according to John 1:17. There was no grace in the Old Testament. There are people who say grace means the “undeserved favor of God”. Now I beg to disagree with that definition, because everyone in the Old Testament got the undeserved favor of God. Nobody gets favor that they deserve. Every human being, right from Abel’s time, got undeserved favor. Grace means more than that. Mercy, that’s an Old Covenant word, it refers to forgiveness. Jesus never needed mercy. We need mercy. Because we’ve all sinned. The best of us have sinned, and we will probably sin until Jesus comes again, in one way or another – we could slip up anytime. We don’t have to, but we might and we often do. We need mercy; that’s the first thing we need when we come to God – mercy – that deals with our past. But we now need something that deals with our future, and that’s grace. Now for many years, I never knew the difference between mercy and grace; I thought these were just interchangeable words. I’ve discovered, they’re not interchangeable words. Mercy is Old Covenant and grace is New Covenant. We have mercy and grace in the New Covenant. And so, mercy, first of all, to blot out my past, so that the guilt of my past doesn’t hang over my head, mercy that justifies me , and justification is another word, which is more than forgiveness! I never understood the meaning of that for a long time. To be forgiven, that was wonderful, but to be justified…..And this is how the Lord showed that to me. It’s like I’m standing in a court, accused of thousands of wrongs, and crimes that I’ve committed, and the judge listens to all that the prosecutor has to say against me – the Law of God is the prosecutor. And I’m guilty of all of them. And the judge has mercy on me and says, “Okay, you’re forgiven.” I walk out, happy. But as I walk out, and as I see the crowd outside the courthouse, I walk out happy, but with my head hanging down, because I’m a criminal. I’m a murderer, an adulterer, a thief. That’s forgiveness, I’m forgiven, I’m free. I don’t have to go to jail. Now, consider another scenario. Here I am, standing before the judge, and he examines carefully, all the charges, he examines all the witnesses, and says, “These are all false charges! There’s nothing wrong with this person, he never did any of these things! He can go free.” This time I walk out of the court hall with my head lifted up. That’s the meaning of justification. It’s unbelievable! That God Almighty, against whom I’ve committed so many sins, could not only forgive me, but declare me righteous. Look upon me as though I’ve never sinned in all my life. It’s unbelievable, but it’s true! And if you believe it, you will say, “My glory and the lifter of my head!” That’s what God is! He lifts up our head. There’s no need for a single sinner forgiven by Jesus to walk with his head hanging down, no. We’re not only forgiven, we’re justified. And never forget that, brother and sister. Today God delights over us with shouts of joy! We’re forgiven, justified. But there’s more….. what about this flesh of mine? That’s always dragging me down, and down, and down. Is there an answer for that? There certainly is. God offers us grace. I want to go back for a moment to Matthew’s gospel again. We looked at the first promise in the New Testament. Do you know what the second promise in the New Testament is? That’s also interesting. The first promise is “He will save His people from their sins.” The second, Matthew 3:11, ” He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Do you know that the New Testament begins with two promises? The very first two promises of the New Covenant – don’t miss either of them. 1. “He will save His people from their sins.” And 2. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” And the devil has made sure he’s got people scared of both. If somebody talks about being saved from sin, “Oh – holiness, this is dangerous teaching, perfection”. Baptism of the Holy Spirit, “Oh – those are those fanatics who go do crazy things”. And what’s the result? He’s killed two birds with one stone. He’s got some people off on a fanatic extreme, and he’s got other people reacting to that, and not wanting this truth at all. I remember what God said to me once concerning different doctrines. What the Lord said to me was, “Don’t let your understanding of a doctrine, ever be a reaction to the extremes you see in certain Christians.” Get your understanding from God’s Word. Forget the extremes and the fanaticism that you see in others. Because I got turned off from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, because I saw a lot of fanaticism. I’m not a Pentecostal, I’m not a Charismatic, I never have been, I’ve never belonged to those churches. I always wanted to be a Christian, experiencing everything the New Testament offers. I remember once, when I was seeking God for this, I said, “Lord, I don’t want what I see around here. I want what Peter, James and John got on the day of Pentecost. I want that.” That’s the second promise of the New Testament. It’s for me. Let a million people go to the fanatic extremes; I’m not bothered! I get what God’s Word promises me, what Peter, James and John got on the Day of Pentecost, which transformed their lives and I said, “I want that. I want power.” And do you know the Holy Spirit is called a Spirit of Grace, in Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 29, He’s called a Spirit of Grace. And that is, grace comes to us through the Holy Spirit. What is baptism? Baptism is immersion, to be immersed in the Spirit of Grace. Why should anyone be afraid of that? That’s the very thing we need! I need an immersion! A drenching of the Spirit of Grace! There are two ways we can be immersed: One is, you go into a river, and the other is, a flood of water, falling down from Heaven. If I stand under a river flowing down, I can be drenched. And that’s what the Holy Spirit is….. The River of God, flows down from Heaven and I stand under it, and I get drenched, and it’s grace, all the way. Grace, Grace, Grace. And grace is not “Undeserved favor”. Grace is power . Now I want to show you that from scripture. I don’t want you to ever believe what I say if I cannot show it to you from scripture! 2 Corinthians , chapter 12. Paul says about a time in his life when God allowed him to suffer a thorn in the flesh. And he asked the Lord to take it away from him, and the Lord said to him, 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is perfected in weakness.” What is my grace? It’s my power. It’s the same thing. “My grace is enough for you because my grace, or in other words, my power, is made perfect in your weakness.” And Paul understood that. He says, “Well, then I’m okay. I’m alright because the power of Christ is going to rest on me.” That’s what grace is. And when God says , “My grace is sufficient for you,” what it means is, “My grace is sufficient to handle anything that you’ll ever face in your life.” If I send my son to the shop to buy something worth five dollars, I give him five dollars. But If I send him to the shop to buy something worth a hundred dollars, he can’t buy it with five dollars, he needs a hundred dollars. So I give him a hundred. That’s what it means when it says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Exactly according to what your need is. Is the pressure very great? Grace is going to be very great. Is it a hundred dollars you need? You’ll get that. My grace is sufficient for you. I praise God for this, that there will never be a situation, I ever face in life, where the Lord won’t give me enough to pay the bill. Praise the Lord for this! This is the Good News! There is no temptation that’s going to be too strong for me. There’s no giant in Canaan’s land, that’s not going to come under my feet. Not one. Sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under law, but are under grace! You’re not under the Old Covenant, you’re under the New Covenant. You’re not just one receiving mercy, but you’re receiving grace. I want to show you another verse. It’s not so well known, unfortunately, as , “My grace is sufficient for you.” “My grace is sufficient for you” has been popularized throughout the world. It’s a very famous verse on grace. But I’ve discovered another verse, which is a much fuller statement on grace, and I think it’s the most wonderful statement on grace in the whole Bible. I don’t know how many of you have noticed it, in 2 Corinthians 9:8, it says here that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always, having all sufficiency, in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” Here are seven times, you get a picture of totality, do you notice that? All grace, abound, always, all sufficiency, everything, abundance, every good deed. I’ve never seen a verse like this in the whole Bible. Seven times! All grace, is going to abound to you! Always, not just sufficiency, but all-sufficiency. Not just in most things, in every thing. And, for every good deed, He’s going to give me two-hundred dollars, when I need only a hundred. An abundance! This is the Gospel! That’s why a Christian is to be an over comer, in every situation. 

You know, how Ephesians 6 describes the Christian? Beautiful! Ephesians 6:13, it says, “Having overcome everything, you’ll be able to resist in the evil day, having overcome everything, to stand firm.” No matter what the situation – sister, are all your six children sick at the same time? “God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that always , having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” for all those six children, and still be able to greet your husband with a happy face when he comes home from work. That’s grace. Is it possible? No? Well, according to your faith, be it unto you. But if you say, “YES!” According to your faith, be it unto you. The answer is the same. I think of that story, where two blind men went to Jesus, and Jesus asked them, you know the story, in Matthew chapter 9, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, and they said, “We want our eyes to be open.” And then he asked them a question, “Do you believe, that I am able to do this for you?” He didn’t ask them, “Do you believe that if you just try a little harder, you could see a little bit?” That’s not what He asked them. “Do you believe that if you just try a little harder, you could overcome that sin?” That’s not what He’s asking! That’s like asking a blind man, “Can you just try, try opening one eye just a little bit, see if you can see a little?” That’s not the gospel. Do you believe that Jesus said that, “I am able to do this for you.” It’s got nothing to do with your ability. It’s got to do with whether you are willing to let Jesus do a work in your life or not. And I’ve thought, one blind man goes first into the room and he says, “Well, Lord, I mean, I’ll be happy if you’ll open just one eye. That will be enough for me, I could see the road and I could walk around and I believe that you can open one eye.” And the Lord says to him, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” And he goes out with one eye open, and he’s so happy! Now the other blind man goes in, and the Lord asks him, “Do you believe I can do this for you?” He says, “Sure! I want both eyes open!” And He says, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” And He goes out with two eyes open. Now you have these two blind men. And now this first man says, “Hey, this is heresy! Jesus opens only one eye…..how in the world did you get two eyes open?” Does Jesus give forgiveness and victory? No! Only one eye. And he starts the One Eye Denomination. And he gets a whole lot of people who have faith that Jesus can open one eye, in that church. And here’s this other one, it’s usually smaller, of a few people, who’ve got both eyes open, and they are dubbed as heretics and false teachers, because they preach that Jesus opens two eyes. This is what’s happened for two thousand years.

Now I want to say to you, brothers and sisters, you can have your choice – which one you want to join. According to your faith; not according to Jesus’ ability, No….. If it were according to Jesus’ ability, we’d all have both eyes open! But it’s according to your faith, be it unto you. For years, I belonged to the One Eye Denomination; after I was born-again, I was on my way to heaven, my sins were all forgiven. But that was about all. I had the mop, I had the bucket, and the tap was always open. Till God had mercy on me.

You know, I’ve discovered one thing; you don’t understand scripture, you don’t get new revelations on scripture by study. You get new revelation of Jesus, when you have a new need in your life! It’s not by sitting and studying Greek, and Hebrew……I don’t know Greek and Hebrew, but I have needs in my life. And I said, “Lord, is there an answer to this need in my life?” And without any knowledge in Greek and Hebrew, He showed me that, “Sin need not have dominion over me.” And I want to say to you, my brothers and sisters, I don’t care what sin it is in your life; Jesus can deliver you from it. It doesn’t matter which it is. I just told you yesterday , how as a young man I struggled with lustful thoughts, and nobody ever told me what I could do about that, and as I told you yesterday, I thought everybody preaching up there had no problems with lustful thoughts, and I thought it was only me. That’s what I thought! I thought, “Oh my, why me? Why am I always struggling with these thoughts? Is it because I’m a maniac?” It’s because I didn’t know the way. I was forgiven. The tap was open, and I was mopping, mopping, mopping, mopping…….’til I found something better. That Jesus could not only forgive me, He could deliver me from the power of sin. When I was too weak to deliver myself. Through the Holy Spirit! And I thought of this, you know, this verse came to me at that time; God delivers only people who seek for victory like this; I want you to read this verse, in Exodus, Chapter 2, in verse 23, in the middle of that verse, it says, “The sons of Israel sighed, because of their , and they cried out. And their cry for help, because of their , rose up to God.” I want to ask you, my brothers and sisters, how many of you have sighed, because you were defeated by sin? Wept at night and said, “Oh Lord……there I lost my temper again. Lord! There I lusted with my eyes again.” Who sighed! There are a lot people who don’t sigh! No wonder they don’t get delivered! The children of Israel sighed. You know sighing is more than crying; it’s crying and saying, “Oh……when will I ever be free from this ?” “And their cry for help, rose up to God”. And it rises up, even today. And it says, “And God heard their groaning,” and He hears the groaning even today. Here and there…..not among many of his people. Most believers are content in their defeated position. But here and there He hears some……crying out for an immersion, a baptism in the Holy Spirit of Grace and Power. Verse 24, “And God remembered His covenant, in that day with Abraham,” and today, through Jesus. Through the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant. God remembers that. “And He saw the Sons of Israel, and He took notice of them, and He delivered them.” And He’s the same today. But He waits……for us to sigh, and cry.

Now I want to turn back to Hebrews, in chapter 4, where we saw, “that we may receive mercy,” That’s what He does for us, first of all, and then, “that we may find grace to help us in our time of need.” And our time of need is, in the context of verse 15, when we are tempted! My need is not for more money, to get a better car, or better house….. These are the stupid things being preached, in Christendom today, unfortunately. My need is to be delivered from this wretched nature I inherited from Adam, from sin. And when I’m delivered from that, all the other things will fall into their proper place. So, “Help in time of need,” is when I’m tempted! Now, imagine, a mountain climber. Someone, who feels he’s an expert at climbing mountains, and at one particular place, he slips, and he’s hanging on by his fingers, over the cliff….but he’s too proud to ask for help, because, “I’m an expert.” And he falls to the bottom. Then he has to ask for help, and the ambulance comes along and picks him up. That’s forgiveness of sins. We fall, we say, “Oh Lord, please forgive me.” And the ambulance is always there, Mercy. Takes me, fixes me up, and I go mountain climbing again. And again, I �m hanging by my fingers one day, I’m still too proud to ask for help, and I fall again. And the ambulance comes. And this is the cycle. That so many Christians live in – always the ambulance. Thank God for the ambulance. Isn’t it good news that there’s an ambulance when you’ve fallen? Mercy is available, forgiveness…… But think, if this person, the next time he’s about to fall, is a little humbler. And says, “I’m not such an expert.” Please, help me now. Then he will find grace, lifting him up in his time of need, and making him stand. Now which is his time of need? I agree, his time of need is there when he’s fallen and broken his bones. But there was another time of need prior to that. Before he fell. Now what I want to ask you, brothers and sisters, is when do you want God to help you, after you’ve fallen, or before? That’s the question. When is our real time of need. When are we going to break out of the cycle of always falling and getting the ambulance and falling and getting the ambulance. Are you sighing? Is there a sigh because, “Lord, I’m sick and tired of this. I want a better life.” There is a better life. You know, not everyone can come to Jesus. Jesus said, “come to me, all those who are weary and heavy laden.” Those who are sick and tired of their defeated lives, “come to me…..” In another place He said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me.” That means, if anyone’s thirsty for a better life than he already has….If anyone acknowledges that there is a dryness in his life, a deadness in his life, and he’s thirsty, let him come to me……and drink! There’s plenty of water there. And not only to satisfy you, it can flow out from you in rivers of living water to bless other people. This He spoke about the Holy Spirit. But you’ve got to thirst….. That means you’ve got to have a longing for something more than you have right now, and it’s got nothing to do with how many years you’ve been a believer. You may have been born again yesterday, and you can have a thirst and God can fill you with His Holy Spirit. But if you don’t have a thirst, even after twenty-five years, you’ll just be in the same old condition. You’ll be going around with the mop and the bucket, �til Jesus comes. But all I’m saying is, there’s a better way. I’m not forcing you, I’m just saying, “Come up higher, brother.” You’re invited, it’s free, but it’s up to you. If you’re satisfied down at those low levels, you can stay there. But Jesus invites you higher. So that’s our time of need. When we are about to slip and fall, and He can keep us. (Editor’s note, see Jude verse 24) Now if you don’t believe this, I can give you a little homework. The next time, you are tempted, think of the area where you are falling most of the time, where the ambulance has had to come and pick you up, and what particular area…. You know how it speaks about in Hebrews 12, about “the sin, that so easily besets us.” And that may be different in different ones. Okay, what’s the one in your case, is it anger? Is it sexually, lustful thoughts? Whatever it is, think of it now. The next time, that could be tonight, it could be tomorrow morning, you won’t have to wait long for that, for “the sin that so easily besets us.” But the next time you find yourself tempted in that area, when you’re about to fall, try this…. Come boldly to the Throne of Grace, humble yourself, you’re not such an expert mountain climber, just humble yourself and say, ” Well, Lord, I’m just a failure. Now Lord, show me that this really works! Give me grace! “Let’s come boldly to the Throne of Grace, to receive mercy for my past failures,” Okay, we’ve got that, but to find grace now, to help me in this particular moment, in my time of need.” And you know what’ll happen? After a few moments you’ll find, “Hey, I didn’t lose my temper! Hey, I could resist that evil though!” This is the Gospel. It’s a message of deliverance. Jesus came to set the captives free! He came to open prison doors. He came that we might walk as free people, no longer as slaves to sin. Never again in our life. And that’s why he gives us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Grace! People ask me this question, “What is the mark of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? What’s the sign, of being filled with the Spirit?” I say the same thing that Jesus said, I can’t say it better than Him; Acts 1:8, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and you shall receive power….” Power! What’s the evidence? Nothing else! That is the evidence. If you don’t have that, whatever else you’ve got, you’ve missed it. You need power. Power, to be a witness for me, Jesus said. Not just to bear witness. I hope you know the difference between being a witness and bearing witness. Bearing a witness is included in being a witness, but being a witness is more than bearing witness. “You shall receive power, and you shall be….”Not you shall “do”, “you shall be.” There’s a lot of emphasis in the Christian world today on “doing.” “What are you doing for the Lord, brother?” I’m being; and from being, I’m doing. You can “do” without “being”. But I want to “Be” first and then “do”. “You shall be witnesses, unto me, in every part of the earth.” America, India, everywhere…..God needs people who are witnesses and I need power for that! I need power, I need grace, this grace which is power. This which comes through the immersion in the Holy Spirit. Praise God for such a wonderful Gospel! And that can take care of all my needs. You remember that Old Testament story? I think it’s in 2 Kings, chapter 6, where this widow came to Elisha and said, “The creditor has come. I’m in debt and the creditor has come to take my sons away captive” I don’t have time to turn to it, you can read it sometime. And Elisha asked her a question, “What do you have in your house?” And she says, “Your servant has nothing, except, a vessel of oil.” It’s like saying, “We have nothing, except the Holy Spirit.” And Elisha said, “What do you mean nothing? That’s the answer to all your debt! That’s the answer to all your problems! Go and get as many vessels as you can and keep pouring.” And it says, she got vessels from all around her neighbors, and she kept pouring and it never finished. That’s a picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. They couldn’t experience it in the Old Covenant. We heard about our debt the other day; our debt of love. Every person we meet, we’ve got to recognize, “I owe this man something. I owe him something.” Even if it’s a stranger. I owe him something. Perhaps, just a smile, okay? But I’ve got to clear a debt. And how do I clear this debt? That was exactly the question this widow asked Elisha! How can I clear this debt, I’m in terrific debt! Do you recognize that you’re in debt? Most of us don’t….most of us don’t recognize that God, because He loved us so much, has permanently placed us in debt, to every single human being we meet on the face of this earth. That was the crime of the Levite and the Priest, when they saw that man laying on the ground and didn’t do anything to help. That’s the answer. And we say, we’ve got nothing. You think you’re going to clear the debt by going to one more meeting? Listening to one more message? Reading another book? No brother, you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The answer is there. Ask God to fill your heart with the Holy Spirit. And like it says in Ephesians 5:18, “Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.” That’s the answer. And God wants to give that to every single one of us. That’s the second promise in the New Testament! “He will save His people from their sins, He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit and with Fire.” But, like everything else, we’ve got to acknowledge our need. I couldn’t get forgiveness of sins, �til I confessed I was a sinner. Why is it the Pharisees couldn’t get forgiveness of sins? Because they pretended that they were not sinners. And Jesus said, “Well then I didn’t come for you, you fellows are healthy. I came for these poor, sick people.” I’ll apply the same logic of the same steps, to being filled with the Holy Spirit. Here, Jesus comes offering, what is the first thing? Forgiveness of sins. And here are a bunch of people who say, “We’re okay.” The Lord says, ” Okay, I didn’t come for you.” Here are some people who say, “Lord, we really need this, we’re sinners.” Okay, they get it, forgiveness of sins. And now He comes in the fullness of the Spirit, and here are a whole bunch of Christians who say, “Ah, we got it, we got it when we were saved,” and they were convinced doctrinally about something or the other. The Lord says, “Fine, you’re okay, I’ll leave you alone.” But here are these other, thirsty, hungry Christians, who say, “LORD, I DON’T CARE WHAT DOCTRINE, I’M DRY! I’M DEAD! I DON’T NEED A DOCTRINE, I NEED POWER! They get it! You know why you haven’t got it so far? Because someone convinced you about a doctrine. I know there’s a lot of doctrinal disputing about Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I don’t get into this at all. I remember when I was born-again, and I was in a brethren assembly where they didn’t preach about being filled with the Holy Spirit. They told me I got everything when I got converted. But I said, “Lord, I don’t know what it is, but I certainly, to be honest, I can’t say that Rivers of Living Water are flowing out from me.” No! My experience is more like a hand-pump. You know, in India, we have some hand-pumps. You pump and pump and pump and pump and a few trickles of water come out. And then when you’ve recovered a little bit, you pump some more, you pump some more and a few trickles come out. Yeah, a little bit comes out. A little bit was coming out of my life, but it was certainly not a river, certainly not many rivers. And Jesus said, “He who believes from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” I just had to be honest. I said, “Lord that is not true in my life.” And I don’t want anyone to convince me doctrinally about something, which is going to make me miss the most important thing in the Christian life, and discover at the judgment seat of Christ, that I missed something God had for me. I don’t want that tragedy. “So I seek you Lord, I don’t care about terminology, call it what you like, it doesn’t matter to me, I want Rivers of Living Water flowing out of my life.” That’s how I began to seek God. And I want to say, God met with me. He changed my life. He changed my ministry. My ministry was such a strain before that. Oooh, a struggle, struggle, struggle. A few drops would come out. I said, “Lord, that’s not how it’s meant to be, that’s not how Jesus ministered. That’s not how the apostles ministered. I want my ministry to be Rivers of Living Water! Flowing in many directions!” Now if you knew what I was, when I was converted, a shy, fearful, timid, introverted, reserved type of person, who wouldn’t like to stand anywhere, I know God changed me. And I believe that He can change anyone. But it’s according to your faith, be it unto you. If you continue to believe that Jesus opens only one eye, that’s all you’ll have til the end of your life. “According to your faith, be it unto you.” I’m not asking you to have faith for better cars and better houses and things God has not promised. I’d like to have hair on my head, but I don’t try to trust God for that. I’ll get it one day when Jesus comes again. But there are other things. You know, all the books on faith you’ll find on Christian bookshelves, are the type of books which tell you how you can get hair on your head, and new teeth, where your teeth have fallen off, better cars and better houses. I tell l you, I’m not interested. What’s the use of getting a better house, or a better car if I’m defeated by anger in my life? What’s the use of that? What’s the use, of even speaking in other tongues, if I lose my temper in my mother tongue. That’s no use. You mean, the Holy Spirit can only control other tongues and He cannot control the mother tongue? Well, that must be another spirit. I say if the Holy Spirit cannot control my mother tongue, I don’t want other tongues! Let me deal with my mother tongue first. And let Him teach me how to have the law of kindness in my mouth, when I speak to my wife. If that isn’t there.. I got sick and tired of these believers who would praise God in other tongues on Sunday morning and shout at their wives in their mother tongue Sunday afternoon. This is not the Holy Spirit! And I said, “Lord, I want that tongue of fire that was on top of those believers, that made the Holy Spirit control my speech, twenty-four hours a day. Control my tongue. That is what we need! Victory over sin! Along with other gifts God wants to give us! I believe that the devil has done a tremendous work in confusing people in this area, because he knows this is a very vital area in the Christian life. He’s made a lot of people go to one extreme, and he’s made a whole lot of other people fall over the cliff on the other side, going to the other extreme. And it doesn’t matter to the devil which side of the cliff you fall over, so long as you reach the bottom.

      Dear brother and sister, let’s shame the devil, and let’s say, “Lord, I’m going to seek you for what you’ve promised; I’m not going to seek you for things which are not promised in the Word, which are not going to help me in eternity, and which are not going to help me to be a more effective witness for you here on earth! But I do want to trust you, for that which I need to make me a more effective witness for you, here on this earth.” I want you to turn to Luke, chapter 11, “The disciples once came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And do you know the answer to that? Now you ask most questions, what answer did Jesus give when they asked Him this question – “teach us to pray…” They only say the Lord’s prayer. Well, they asked Him to teach them to pray, and He said, “When you pray, say verse two, Father, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, and so on……” But did it stop with that? No! He went on and that’s what I want to show you today. He taught them to pray like that and then He said, He’s still answering the same question, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And He told them what to pray for, and He says, in verse 5, “Supposing one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight, and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves for a friend of mine has come, and I’ve got nothing to set before him”, and from inside he answers and said, “Don’t bother me, the door is shut, my children are in bed and I can’t get up.” “I tell you, even though he’ll not get up, and give him anything because he’s a friend, yet because of his persistence, He’s still answering that question, “Teach us how to pray,” “With persistence He will get up and give him as much as he needs. And I say to you, ask like this, and it will be given you. Seek, like this man sought, and you will find. Knock, like this man knocked, and it will be opened to you; for everyone who asks like this, receives, and he who seeks like this, finds. And he who knocks like this, it’ll be opened. Because supposing, one of you fathers, your son asks for fish, will he give him a snake? No, never. If he asks for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? And now we come to the final point, “How much more, will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.” If you don’t ask….. How should we ask? Like this! That’s the point, it’s all the answer to that first question, “Lord, teach us to pray…” What do you need to pray for? This is what we need to pray for. What is the meaning of this man going to his neighbor, saying, “Give me three loaves….” Jesus said, “Ask the Father for the Holy Spirit, for the power of the Holy Spirit, for grace, ask.” And how shall I ask? Supposing I don’t get it immediately? Keep knocking. Keep seeking. Keep asking. “Lord, I’m not going to give up till you give me power.” There’s one more thing, which is very, very important, which I want to mention here. See here, He’s primarily speaking about our ministry. And He’s talking about somebody whose come to us in need. I told you about clearing the debt. Here is a man who has come to me in need, and I’m surrounded by people with need, in this world. And when I see their need, I can do one of two things. You know when this fellow came, this chap comes to my house at night, just imagine I’m the person here; he comes to my house at night and I ask him, “Well, have you eaten?” He says, “No, I’m hungry.” “Well, I’m sorry brother, refrigerator is empty right now, we already had our meal. Let’s just praise the Lord, and go to bed, and we’ll see how it is in the morning.” That’s not what he did. He felt, “He’s hungry. I must meet his need. I must do something about it!” That’s where it begins, that’s where a real seeking after God for the power of the Holy Spirit begins, when I see the need of another person, and I’m trying to help him, and I don’t have it within me, what it takes to help. Then what do I do? I can ignore and say, well I can’t help everybody in the world, I’m okay myself. I’ve eaten my meal and I’m alright. That’s how most Christians live. That’s why they never experience the genuine power of the Holy Spirit. And a lot of people who are so called, “seeking” for the power of the Holy Spirit today, you know what they’re seeking for? They’re not seeking for power to help others, oh, no! They’re seeking, because someone got up and gave a testimony, that they got tickled down their spine when the Spirit came upon them, or they got thrown into some corner, or they began to mutter something…..They’re seeking for some experience like that other testimony they heard in that meeting. They’re seeking for something for themselves; they’ve not got one single thought about somebody else in need! Whereas, Jesus said, “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you’ll be my witnesses to all those needy people, in the outermost parts of the earth!” And if people had sought God with this parable in mind, for the power of the Holy Spirit, like He said, they’d have gotten the genuine experience, and they’d have gotten the genuine Power. And it would have made the church like an army, terrible with banners; like it says in the Song of Solomon. But it isn’t. Why is the church so weak? You know, when we sing that song, “Hold the fort for I am coming…..” I tell you, I have little bit of a reservation about that. It’s a picture of a beleaguered church, struggling and the devil somehow – “Oh Lord, please come, we’re about to be defeated!” That’s not it. That �s not the church, an army, terrible with banners….. There is no “Hold the Fort, for I am coming,” anywhere in the New Testament. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell,” See, we’re attacking the gates of Hell! They’re the fellows that are going to cry out for help! “The gates of Hell, will not prevail against this church!” Don’t reverse it and say, that “The gates of the church will somehow survive, when the forces of Hell are attacking it!” I am not holding any fort. We go full steam against the devil with the promises, the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church! The church is triumphant. Satan will not be able to make inroads into our church and destroy people. He will not be able to get into that family and destroy those children. Because we’re going to stand and deliver that family, from the power of the devil! That’s what we’re here for. That’s what God’s servants are here for. We’re not here just to preach messages. Anybody can preach a message….. Just go read some books, listen to some messages and you’ve got material to preach for next Sunday. That’s not a servant of God. A servant of God is called to do what Jesus did; it says, “He went about doing good and delivering people who were oppressed by the devil.” And we are surrounded by them. There are needy people in our churches whose families are suffering, the devil has got inroads into those families. Are the gates of Hell going to triumph or not? No! The church must go against them! We’ve got to bind the Strongman, and spoil his goods! Deliver people who are under the captivity of Satan. For that, we need the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why we need the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I give you authority over all the power of the enemy. Nothing shall be able to stand before you. Over serpents, scorpions, over all the power of the enemy.” This is how we should be, brothers and sisters! But, here we are, praying, “Heal my backache, and I want a better car, and I want a better house,” and all these stupid things that believers are praying. I say, forget whether my backache is healed or not, I’m going to chase the devil out of that home. 

      I believe we need to have our vision lifted. We need to see what the Lord is calling us to in these Last Days. I want to encourage you my brothers and sisters, forget doctrinal differences. Forget terminology – call it what you like – But ask God to set you on fire! And if you don’t like the term, “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”, okay, drop it. Ask God for Rivers of Living Water, to flow out from you! Ask God to set you on fire! Is there anything wrong with that? Anything doctrinally wrong with that? And if you don’t like tongues, drop it, that’s not the most important thing. Ask God to set you so much on fire, that you’ll be able to deliver people who are oppressed by the devil around you. That’s the most important thing. And if He gives you other gifts, take them, but don’t go seeking after them. Seek for that power which will help you to deliver other people around you who are in need. I know, for thirty-five years, consistently, I have prayed one prayer. I have earnestly coveted to prophesy. Because the Bible says so. Earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit. Why have I coveted to prophesy? There’s hardly a meeting, that I come to, where I don’t see God before, and say , “Oh God, I want to prophesy. I want to give a word, that will go straight to the hearts of people. And I don’t have it within me. I don’t have the loaves. My refrigerator is empty. There are people in need. I come to you, Lord, give me that, which I can give to them.” And then it becomes easy. You remember the way the five thousand were fed? The disciples didn’t have to produce the loaves, Praise the Lord. I always say, I’m only in the distribution business, I’m not in the production business. I can’t produce! I can’t produce a message! But I can distribute if the Lord gives it to me. And when my basket is empty, I just go back to the Lord and say, “Lord, there are a few more people hungry out there, you got some more?” “PLENTY. PLENTY FOR EVERYONE!” It’s distribution we’re called to, not production. Don’t waste your time, cramming your head, trying to produce something. And you fill your head with knowledge, that’s what happens in a lot of pulpits. People are busy preparing on Saturday, for what they’re going to give on Sunday. It’s like getting a lot of things in and vomiting it all out on Sunday. That’s not what people need. They need food. And you cannot produce it. That’s the first thing you’ve got to recognize. In my younger days, I thought I could produce it. Gave out, what I would call vomit. What I had taken in, digested and vomited out. But I found a better way; I began to seek God, like this man here, for prophesy, for words, that would exhort, edify, comfort, build up, God’s people. And I want to encourage you to seek God a little more. I’m not saying intellectual preparation is wrong, but all I’m saying is spiritual preparation is much more important. That’s all I’m saying. You’ve got to walk with a clear conscience before God. You’ve got to walk in humility, and God gives his grace on ly to the humble. Keep your face in the dust before God and say, “Lord, I’m empty. Help me to deliver people who are in need.” I believe our churches are full of such people. They need help. They need to be delivered. And we need to give that which will set them free. I want to encourage you to seek God, to set you on fire. There is no respecter of persons with God. What He’s done for one, He’ll do for another. But He wants us to have faith. Faith, that He will, “Give us grace to help us in our time of need”, so that we don’t fall in to sin; Faith, that He’ll give us that power, those loaves…..to feed that needy person, who has come to us in his need. Let’s pray.

“Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this, thirsting of my soul. Lord, we want to come to you with open hearts. With hungry hearts; seeking you for that, which only you can give. We don’t want to be satisfied with experiences and thrills. We want Rivers of Living Waters to flow out from us, in these Last Days. To quench the thirst of needy people all around us. Help us Lord we pray. Help us to honor You, that we might be a church, like you want us to be, an army against which the gates of Hell will never prevail, in our local church situations. Give us grace we pray, as we cry out to you, there are needy hungry people here. Thirsty. I pray, Lord, you’ll satisfy the longing of their soul. In Jesus’ name. Amen”

———

** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Felix Mittermeierfrom Pexels

Missionary Amy Carmichael: Helped the Helpless

YouTube video of Amy Carmichael’s life – https://youtu.be/D0jqeVolVFk

“Please help me! Please don’t send me back!” screamed 7-year-old Preena as she jumped into Amy Carmichael’s lap, clinging to her neck. The little girl had just escaped from a Hindu temple in the middle of the night while her guardians were sleeping. She tiptoed quietly through an unlocked door and pushed open the heavy gate running as fast as she could.

Preena’s mother had given her to the temple priests in hopes of winning the favor of the gods. Amy did not know what was going on, but she knew this little-frightened girl needed her love and protection.

The Missionary: Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael had come to India as a missionary to reach those who did not know Jesus. Amy was sure that God did not want her to marry and have children of her own. That decision had been settled many years before. But was He now asking her to settle down and become a mother to an unwanted Indian child?

Life in Ireland

Amy Carmichael grew up in a wealthy family in Ireland. Her father owned a flour mill business. She went to the best boarding schools and had many fine things.

But one day Amy’s life changed without warning. Her father’s business began to lose money and it closed. Mr. Carmichael worried so much about his business that he became ill and died.

The family could no longer afford expensive things. Amy had to drop out of school. She spent the next ten years helping her mother take care of her younger sisters and brothers.

Life-Changing Events

One cold, dreary day as the young Amy, her mother and brothers left the church, Amy saw something that changed her life. An old beggar woman came staggering out of the alley. Her clothes were torn and mud-soaked rags covered her feet. Amy felt sorry for the woman. She and her brother helped the old woman down the alley. When she saw other people from church pass by them, she was embarrassed to be seen with the woman and hid her face. As she continued to walk with the beggar, Amy noticed a fountain in the center of the road. She studied it closely. Then she heard a voice say, “Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and straw — the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If the foundation survives, he will receive the reward.” She turned to see who was speaking but saw no one. Amy knew that she appeared kind by helping the old woman, but she knew her heart was wrong. From that moment on, she decided to hold her head high. She was no longer embarrassed. When she got home, she searched the bible and found the words she had heard. Amy knelt by her bed and promised God that in the future she would only do things to please him.

Another time she and her mother stopped to have tea and biscuits in a restaurant. As they ate, Amy saw a dirty little beggar girl with her nose pressed against the window. The poor little girl, with no food, touched Amy so much that she made another promise. She promised that when she grew up she would give her money to the poor.

The Shawlies

Amy Carmichael became very excited about doing what God wanted her to do. On Saturday evenings, she would go with her pastor to the poor neighborhoods to hand out tracts and food to the poor people known as Shawlies. The Shawlies made so little money that they could not afford hats so they used their shawls to protect their heads from the cold. They were eager to learn about God. Amy’s heart went out to them. She moved into their neighborhood and slept in bug-infested beds to be closer to the people. She prayed about building a church for them to attend but didn’t know where she would get money for such a large job. She did not want to ask the rich people in her old church who didn’t seem to care about the Shawlies. Instead, she and the Shawlies asked God to provide it. God answered their prayers and a new church was built.

Time to Move On

Amy began to sense that God wanted her to tell people in other countries about him. There was one problem though. Amy had an illness that made her so sick she had to stay in bed days at a time. Despite her health, she knew she must obey God.

Life In India

Amy traveled the India countryside telling anyone who would listen about Christ.

One day Preena, a little Indian girl, was collecting water for the temple near where Amy was speaking. Preena stopped to listen as Amy told the ladies about her God who loved everybody the same. He did not put people in different classes as the Indian caste system did. Preena was very interested in what Amy was saying but knew she must not be seen listening to the stranger. She tucked Amy’s words into her memory and hurried back to the temple.

Indian girls were often unwanted and were given to the temple to serve as prostitutes. Because of this, when Preena arrived at Amy’s door, Amy knew she could not send her back. The little girl would be beaten, even killed, if she were returned. Amy could have been charged with kidnapping and thrown into prison. But it was a chance she was willing to take.

Over the 50 years she spent in India, Amy Carmichael took in hundreds of unwanted children. She became known as “Amma” or mother to them.

———————

Article by Christianity.com /

Power Through Unity in The Church


“Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he’s in trouble…..And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Eccl. 4:9-12-TLB).

You may remember the story from Aesop’s fables, where an old farmer taught an object lesson on unity to his three children, who were constantly quarreling among themselves. Taking a number of weak sticks, he showed them how the sticks could quite easily be broken individually, but when tied together in a bundle were almost impossible to break. Even the children of this world realise that there is strength in unity and fellowship. “The locusts”, the Bible says, “though small are unusually wise, for though they have no leader, they stay together in swarms (Prov. 30:27-TLB). Therein lies their safety and their power. In the church of Jesus Christ, we need to relearn this lesson.

The unity that the New Testament speaks of, is the unity of the members of Christ’s Body with one another, under the Headship of Christ – an organic unity and not an organisational one. It excludes those who are outside of the Body of Christ, even if they have the label `Christian’. There can be no union between the living and the dead. Those made alive in Christ through the new birth can find their spiritual unity only with others who have been similarly regenerated by God. Christian unity is forged by the Holy Spirit Who alone makes us members of Christ’s Body. The Bible exhorts us to “strive earnestly to guard the harmony and oneness produced by the Spirit” (Eph. 4:3-Amplified). Any unity formed by man is worthless.

Satan is a cunning foe and he realises that he cannot overcome a united Christian fellowship that lives under the authority of Christ and His Word. His strategy for warfare, is therefore, to begin by sowing discord, suspicion and misunderstanding among the members of a fellowship, so that he can paralyze them individually. Jesus said that the powers of Hell would not be able to overcome His church.

(Matt. 16:18). It is the church, the Body of Christ, that is promised victory in the battle against Satan. A believer standing in isolation from other believers may find himself defeated. Satan attacked Christ constantly during Christ’s life on earth, but was unable to prevail. Finally at the cross, Satan’s power over man was taken away from him by Christ (Heb. 2:14; Col. 2:15).

Today, Satan cannot attack the Risen Christ. His attacks are therefore directed at Christ’s Body, the church. Victory over Satan is possible only as we stand united against him, as a Body under the Headship of our Lord. In a fellowship of Christians, even if one member is not fulfilling his function, the power of the Body is, to that extent, weakened. Satan knowing this, seeks continually to isolate individual members of a group, or to divide the group (or church) into cliques. Either way, he succeeds in his aim. This is why we must be constantly on our guard against the wiles of Satan, lest he weaken the links between us and other members of the Body of Christ.

Jesus made many promises in relation to individual believers praying to God. But in Matthew 18:18,19, we have a promise made to a section of Christ’s Body praying in unison: “Whatever you bind on earth”, Jesus said, “is bound in heaven, and whatever you free on earth will be freed in heaven. I also tell you this – if two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask for, my Father in heaven will do it for you” (TLB). The word translated “agree” in verse 19, is the Greek word “sumphoneo”, from which our English word “symphony” is derived. Jesus was referring in these verses to a unity among even two of His children that would be like a musical symphony. This implies more than just saying “Amen” at the end of another’s prayer. Symphony implies a deep harmony of spirit between those who are praying together.

When the fellowship of even a small group of Christians is like the symphony produced by a well-conducted orchestra, then (Jesus said) their prayers will have such authority that anything they asked for would be granted. Such a group of Christians would have authority to bind Satan’s power and to liberate Satan’s captives. The reason why such a fellowship could exercise such authority was explained by Jesus: “For”, He said, “wherever two or three are gathered together into My Name, there I AM in the midst of them” (verse 20-Amplified). Christ the Head is present with all His authority in the midst of such a fellowship, and therefore the powers of Hell can never stand against it. One reason why the church described in the “Acts of the Apostles” knew the reality of this authority was because they had this unity in their fellowship. “All of these (the 11 apostles) with their minds in full agreement devoted themselves steadfastly to prayer….. “And all who believed were united and together…..and day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose…… “And they (the apostles and other believers)… lifted their voices together with one united mind to God… (Acts 1:14; 2:44,46; 4:24-Amplified). Because they were integrated into one Body under the authority of Christ, they could exercise the Lord’s authority in prayer. They were not highly educated, they had no social influence and no financial backing, yet they turned the then-known world upside down for Christ. When Peter was locked up in prison, all of Herod’s forces could not stand against the power of that early church on its knees before God (Acts 12:5-11). Satan’s kingdom was shaken to its foundations by that church as it went forth as one Body, registering the victory and authority of Christ in human lives all over the Roman Empire (See Acts 19:11-20 for one example of this).

Today Satan ridicules the efforts of a disunited church trying to oust him from his strongholds by gimmicks, gadgets, conferences, theological knowledge, eloquence and trained choirs. None of these are of any avail against Satan. The church needs to know again the reality of being one Body united under the Headship of Christ. A fellowship of Christians properly related to each other, growing in love for one another and living in obedience to Christ and His Word is the greatest threat to the kingdom of the Devil on earth. Satan dreads nothing else as much as that.

Let us make it our prayer that the Lord will help us to live each day in the light of the glorious truth of our being one Body in Christ. As more and more Christians throughout the world begin to understand and to live by this truth, we shall assuredly see the church, though small in number, restored to her pristine glory, an instrument in God’s Hands to rout the forces of darkness and a channel of blessing to a needy world.

——-

** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Aigars Neļķefrom Pexels

Be an Example by Your Life

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I life by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, ESV).


Timothy was a young man in the church in Ephesus, and there were many older people in that church. So Paul tells him not to let anyone look down on him because of his youth (1 Timothy 4:12). A young preacher can feel intimidated by older people in his church, particularly if some of them are rich and influential people. Paul urges Timothy not to allow them to intimidate him, but to be an example by his life, in the godly way he speaks, in the way he conducts himself, in his love for them, by his faith in the midst of all his trials, in the purity he has in his life and in every area. This is in direct contrast to what Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:1-4. False teachers merely teach, whereas true teachers teach by example. False teachers teach theories. True teachers teach by their lives. 1 Timothy 4:13 emphasises public reading of the Scriptures, because in those days, believers did not have Bibles. So the one who had a Bible had to read out large sections of it for the people to hear. Today, believers can read large sections of the Scripture at home.

Then Paul reminds Timothy that he needs something more than a good life and Scripture-knowledge. “Be a good example and give attention to Scripture” (1 Timothy 4:1213). That is good. But “don’t neglect the gifts of the Holy Spirit” (1 Timothy 4:14). Paul reminds Timothy that he had laid hands on him along with other elders to impart a spiritual gift to him. We need the gifts of the Spirit also to serve the Lord. We must “earnestly desire to prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:1) – that is, to speak in such a way that our words go home to people’s hearts like an arrow, like the words of the prophets in the Old Testament, like the words that go out of God’s mouth that never return empty (Isaiah 55:11). To minister like that, we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus needed it and we all need it too – all the time. This is not something we can get once for all. No. We must seek to be anointed at all times.

Young people: Don’t feel that you have to wait until you are 40 years old to serve the Lord. I was born again when I was 19 and baptised when I was 21. And I started preaching immediately. I didn’t know much then. But with the little I knew, I could teach the “A, B, C…” of the Christian life to those who knew less than me. As I grew up I could teach people more. A first-standard student can teach a kindergarten-student. Why do you have to wait until you are old before you start to preach God’s Word? The moment you are converted, start sharing with those who know less than you – especially with those who are not yet converted. Always be ready to share God’s Word and to seek God for the power of His Spirit to share it effectively.

In 1 Timothy 4:15, Paul urges Timothy to “take pains with these things.” A businessman takes a lot of pains to earn money and to establish his business firmly. If you are serious about the Christian life, you will take a lot of pains to study the Scriptures, seek for the gifts of the Spirit and cleanse your life from everything impure. One translation of this verse reads, “Be absorbed in them.” When you are absorbed with these things your progress will become evident to everybody.

Let me give you a negative example of what “being absorbed” with something can mean. A family was watching a popular television programme in their home and totally absorbed with it. Some thieves who knew that the family was thus occupied, quietly got into their house and stole whatever they could! And the family never knew about the theft until the TV programme was over.

In the same way, but in a positive sense, we can be so absorbed with Jesus Christ and His Word that the temptations of this world don’t attract us so much. And we won’t be chasing after the many things that worldly people chase after. If you live an “absorbed” life like that, you will make progress constantly. Every year you will be a better Christian and a more effective servant of the Lord.

In 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul urges Timothy to pay close attention to two areas: his life and his teaching. These are the two areas that we must watch constantly. Our life and our teaching must both be pure. Paul says that if we persevere in these two areas, we will save ourselves and others as well. We first need to save ourselves. Only then can we save others. What that means is: If you yourself have not been saved from some sinful habit, how will you be able to save others from it? If you preach above the level of your life, you will be a hypocrite and God will not bear witness to your words. We must be serious about our Christian life, just as businessmen are serious about the way they run their businesses. They are wholehearted about making profits. In the same way, we must persevere and give ourselves wholly to living for God and serving Him.

———

^*Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / by sculpies/Shutterstock/

What Is the Love Language of Acts of Service?

God’s love should be reflected in our actions no matter how big or small the action is. So, let us honor God by serving and giving what He has given us. This is a true act of service to all.

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20-35).

In Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” there is one love language that is called “Acts of Service.” On the website, it says that these are the people that seek action rather than hearing words that pertain to affirmation. Even so, this does not mean that love-affirming words do not affect these people, it is that they view acts of service, both received and shown, as love.

For example, when Mary poured the expensive oil called “pure nard” on Jesus’ feet, she was performing an act of service to Jesus by anointing Him (John 12). But an even better example, the most important example is that Jesus came to serve and to give His life for us so that we could be saved.

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). 

Faith and Acts of Service

In James 2, the Bible talks about faith and works. The Bible says that “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’ — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” (James 2:14-16).

Therefore, it is true that actions speak louder than words said. You can have the faith that your spouse will be healed or anything that you are believing in. Prayer is an act of service too. But many times, we believe and do not pray. 

Many times, we have faith and do not serve or act. Jesus’ act of service for us was sacrificing Himself by being tortured, bruised, battered, and dying the most horrible death that we deserved. No one can comprehend the love that God has for us by sending His Son to die for our sins. 

God did not have to do that, and Jesus did not have to go through with it all. But because of His love, His act of sacrificing His life for us is an act of service that no one could ever do again. My point is that serving one another is truly love as we are called to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Serving Ourselves Vs. Others

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-4).

One of the most difficult things to do in life is denying yourself to others. Showing love for others has our pride submitted to humility and service to God. But if we let our pride, our ways, or our own thoughts rule over our humility, then we are a disservice to God and others. We know what to do but do not (James 4:17) because of prideful, selfish reasons. 

Even the smallest acts that are selfish could be that you choose something that you wanted at the supermarket, and you do not ask your spouse if they want something too. That may seem very small and insignificant, but the small actions count too. 

Those small actions can lead to greater actions that could negatively affect the relationship. Hebrews 13:16 says,“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

But knowing that you would rather serve yourself rather than others is not showing God’s love and grace to others. As hard as it may be, we have to learn to be more selfless and show God’s love to others.

The Greatest Mission of All

“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love — the perfect bond of unity. 

And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:12-17).

Jesus asks us to go into the world to speak the Good News to all, to make disciples, heal the sick, raise the dead, and much more. He has commissioned us to do His work of saving the lost. This is an act of service. We love because He loves (1 John 4:19). 

We serve because He served us. We sacrifice because Jesus sacrificed His life for our sins. How could we hold back what we have learned from Jesus and not give that knowledge to others? We are chosen because God believes and trusts us to serve Him by speaking the Good News to the world. 

God’s love should be reflected in our actions no matter how big or small the action is. So, let us honor God by serving and giving what He has given us. This is a true act of service to all.

A Closing Prayer

Father, I thank you for giving us these revelations and showing us what true acts of service are. I thank you, God, for giving your Son so that we could live again. I pray for all of us to learn to be selfless and show your love to God to the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

——————

***By Heather Mashburn at Christianity.com

What Is the Love Language of Receiving Gifts?

Making an intentional effort to regularly bring presents to one’s spouse, family, children, or friend with this love language can tell them “I love you” and strengthen relationships through continued effort and acts of love.

According to Dr. Gary Chapman in his popular bestselling book, The Five Love Languages, there are five “love languages,” which communicate love to another person. Every person has their own “language” through which they feel loved. These different “love languages” include touch, acts of service, quality time, affirming words, and receiving gifts.

Based on the information in Dr. Chapman’s book, couples can invest in the quality of their marriage by being aware of their own primary love language and learning how their spouse feels loved through the five languages of love. While this method has been used by married couples, it also is beneficial in showing love to family, friends, and children.

One of the five love languages is receiving gifts. Those who identify with this “language” feel loved when they receive presents from others. Many people may misunderstand these acts as promoting materialism.

However, individuals who identify with this love language are not necessarily focused on the item they receive, but rather the tangible act of receiving an item that represents the other person’s love for them.

To help provide clarity to this topic, this article will look at what receiving gifts mean in regard to showing love to others, what this looks like in everyday life, how this love language correlates to Scripture, and why this information is important.

Representations of Love

A person whose primary love language is receiving gifts feels most loved when they receive gifts from those they love. These presents may be extravagant or simple, but a person with this “language” appreciates these keepsakes because of what they represent.

To them, the gift is much more than a material item since it reminds them that they are loved and cherished by someone. Oftentimes, people who most enjoy giving gifts to others, for special occasions or spontaneously, are the ones who have the love language of receiving gifts.

Throughout time, people around the world in various cultures have understood that giving and receiving gifts convey love to another person. Whether such gifts are jewelry, flowers, cards, poems, or music, gifts do have the power to tell another person, “I love you.”

Thus, those who know someone who values gifts as an act of love need to be aware of how important this is in their relationship. Regularly giving presents to a person who speaks this language is vital to ensuring they feel loved.

Even small gifts, such as a food item or a handwritten note, can make the other person’s heart fill up with the message that they are cherished. Doing this regularly out of a place of love for the other person will make a major difference in one’s marriage, family, or friendship.

With knowing the power of giving gifts, individuals need to be careful not to misunderstand or misuse this love language. First, the person who requires presents to feel loved is not being selfish or greedy.

Instead, they value gifts because of what the item represents. To them, presents have sentimental qualities and cause them to remember that they are loved by the person from whom they received the gift. In addition to avoiding any misunderstanding about receiving gifts to feel loved, individuals must also be aware of the danger of misusing this love language.

Potentially, a spouse or loved one could use another person’s primary love language against them by deliberately withholding acts of love.

Doing this can cause the other person to feel hurt and neglected, which is not a God-honoring way to act. Individuals should use the knowledge of love languages to strengthen their relationships with others instead of causing hurt.

How Can I Do This?

1. Remembering important days and holidays is essential. A wife whose love language is receiving gifts will eagerly await her anniversary and expect a present as a tangible expression of her husband’s love.

If he fails to remember the date and neglects to bring his wife a present, the message expressed to her will be, “I don’t care about our marriage.” However, if her husband remembers and provides a special gift, she will know that her husband does care about their marriage and still loves her just as much as the day they were married.

2. Giving gifts on ordinary days is also important. These gifts do not have to be lavishly expensive or dramatic. Instead, simple gifts on ordinary days of the week can also have a significant impact in expressing love. For instance, buying a friend a cup of coffee before heading to work can demonstrate one’s care.

Also, a parent can lovingly remind a child that they are thinking of him or her by packing a handwritten note in their lunchbox for school. Such gifts are simple, yet profound because it tells others that someone cares for them.

3. Giving gifts should stem from a heart of love toward the other person. A person whose love language is receiving gifts will benefit the most if they receive presents that are given from the heart. Truly, it is the “thought that counts” and not necessarily the gift.

Handing over items with a bad attitude or irritation will not make a loved one feel cherished. Instead, such an action would cause more damage than good. Thus, people must be careful not to present gifts to others by mere habit or duty, but rather from the sincerity of the heart (Romans 12:9).

The Connection to Scripture

Those who do not have the love language of receiving gifts as their own primary love language may find it challenging to understand how giving and receiving presents can be an expression of love to others.

However, the Bible also connects gifts with love, as shown in God’s loving gift of His Son and eternal life through Him. As John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God the Father gave His Son to die on behalf of mankind’s sins, which is the ultimate expression of love (Romans 5:8). Furthermore, salvation is a gift based on God’s graceand received by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Based on Scripture, God clearly communicates in the love language of receiving gifts. He has graciously offered the gift of salvation to all who believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection (Romans 10:9-10). Truly, in Christ believers have been given all they need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The love of God is evident in what He has offered as a gift to all humans.

Christians have been the recipients of the amazing love of Jesus. In discussing the topic of presents, however, receiving gifts must be kept in balance with giving to others. Jesus did say, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Because of the love He has freely given, followers of Christ can also freely give to others, both in the form of love as well as material needs or gifts.

Since those who value receiving gifts as a form of love are also often the ones who enjoy gifting others to show love, giving can often come naturally. All people, regardless of love language, should strive to give of themselves just as Christ did (John 15:13). In doing so, they can model the wonderful love of God to others.

Why Is This Important?

Generally, Dr. Chapman’s book on love languages has greatly impacted how married couples, families, and friends interact with each other and deepen their relationships.

Both secular and Christian counselors utilize the methods discussed in Dr. Chapman’s numerous books on the topic of love languages for couples, singles, teenagers, and children. Understanding how others feel most loved can enable individuals to love others better in a way that reflects God’s love.

Through knowledge about the love language of receiving gifts, people can be equipped to express love to those who have this primary love language.

Making an intentional effort to regularly bring presents to one’s spouse, family, children, or friend with this love language can tell them “I love you” and strengthen relationships through continued effort and acts of love.

Those who take the time to learn about the “language” their loved ones speak are demonstrating sacrificial love and concern for others, which reflects Christ’s love to a watching world (John 13:34).

————-

***By Sophia Bricker at Christianity.com

What Is the Love Language of Physical Touch?

Physical touch is more than sex. People who have this as their primary love language express and receive love through hugging, cuddling, holding hands, a back rub, or any other kind of touch that is appropriate in the moment.

Anytime I mention that my love Language is physical touch — it’s assumed that I feel loved through sex. But the love language of physical touch is more than that.

While sex is an important aspect of marriage, physical touch communicates meaningful expressions of love.

In fact, two of my three kids have the same love language I do. Our primary love language is physical touch and quality time together.

What Are Love Languages?

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman became a New York Times #1 bestseller in the early 1990s and has remained popular for its timeless wisdom, practical help, and how it helps us become better at loving those in our family.

Written for married couples, the book and its tips have expanded to help parents understand their children as well.

This book explores the ways people give and receive love. He explains how many of the misunderstandings and problems that arise in marriage is because we don’t know how to communicate love to our spouse.

While words of affirmation may make one spouse feel good, quality time might be the other’s love language. Through his book, individuals in relationships learn to communicate in their partner’s love language, they can strengthen their bond by keeping each other’s “love tank” full of fuel.

These five categories are how we all express our love for another and how we need to receive love. In the book, Chapman suggests that everyone receives love in at least one of five ways:

1. Quality time: Giving your partner your undivided attention like going on a date or going for walks. It’s all about giving the other person your attention.

2. Physical touch: People who have physical touch as their primary love language have a deep-felt need for appropriate touch.

3. Words of affirmation: This love language means these people need to hear how much they are loved, cherished, and appreciated.

4. Acts of service: For these people, the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words,” equals love.

5. Gifts: For some people, what makes them feel loved and cherished is to receive a gift.

The Gift of Physical Touch

Physical touch is more than sex. People who have this as their primary love language express and receive love through hugging, cuddling, holding hands, a back rub, or any other kind of touch that is appropriate in the moment.

Physical touch is the most direct way to communicate love. It is essential for the health and well-being of every human being.

Experts say the first hour of a child’s life is crucial to have skin-to-skin contact. This helps regulate their heart rate, temperature, and breathing. At the same time, a mother’s hormones are regulated as well. As the infant grows, physical touch boosts early child development.

Other studies have proven how detrimental physical touch is through intuitional isolation that is prevalent in orphanages around the world. These children often grow up in environments where touch and emotional engagement are lacking.

Many children who have not had ample physical and emotional attention are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional, and social problems. It’s clear, God created physical touch to be a powerful force of love.

What Is the Love Language of Physical Touch?

Jesus used physical touch often and made it a point even though He could heal people with just His Words. When the children came to Jesus, we see that “he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying hands on them” (Mark 10:15-16).

In Matthew 18:14-15, we read, “He touched her hand and the fever left her.”

When Jesus saw Simon’s mother-in-law lying ill, he “took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her” (Mark 1:31).

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him (John 13:5).

In Matthew 17:7, we read, “Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”

These are just a few passages of Jesus’ time on earth when He chose to use His hands to show His love for the world.

God created us to enjoy skin-to-skin contact because it triggers the release of certain hormones associated with pleasure and bonding as a couple.

Oxytocin is the bonding hormone, and it is released along with the rest of the feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine.

To some degree, we all need physical touch in our marriages but for those whose love language is physical touch — it’s critical.

But this type of love comes down to timing because it is primarily made up of small gestures like having your spouse put his arm around in public. It could be a hug before leaving for work, a kiss when you get home.

How to Love Someone Whose Love Language Is Physical Touch

When you hug, use both arms and your whole body, and linger for a moment in the embrace. A rule of thumb is 30 seconds, 60 is heavenly!

Give them kisses often. Whenever your spouse is feeling blue, holding them closely can make tears disappear. Cuddle in bed together. Snuggle on the couch or hold their hand. Take them dancing for date night.

Make a point of maintaining physical contact when you’re both out for events. Kiss them hello and goodbye. Kiss them in places besides the lips, like her forehead, collarbone, the back of her neck or hand. Rub her shoulders when she is stressed out.

When you hug, use both arms and your whole body, and linger for an extra moment in the embrace. Spontaneously give them a little back rub or back scratch. Always hold hands when you’re out and about. Enjoy the public displays of affection, holding hands, cuddling, and kissing!

If you’re in a marriage or dating someone who has physical touch as their love language, be sure to ask what touch makes them feel most loved and what annoys them.

These physical displays of affection are a gift and matter more than words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and gifts.

Remember Jesus modeled physical touch and used His hands to heal. In the same way, this is an immense gift to give to your spouse.

————

**By Heather Riggleman at Christianity.com

What Is the Love Language of Words of Affirmation?

This love language is also the only category that involves verbal expression. You can spot people whose love language is based on Words of Affirmation because those people don’t hesitate to cheer others on. So, making them feel valued with words is love.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).

Scripture has much to say about the power of words. After all, words matter, and when it comes to our relationships, “the power of life and death” is held by the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

Given the weighty influence of our words, it should come as no surprise that in matters of love, the “Words of Affirmation” category reigns supreme as the most common of the love languages.

What Are Love Languages?

A “love language” is a way that a person emotionally expresses and acknowledges love. Dr. Gary Chapman is a pastor and relationship expert who authored the best-selling book, The Five Love Languages.

In his book, Dr. Chapman identified five love languages that he noticed were being emotionally “spoken” by the married couples he counseled during his extensive career as a marriage counselor.

In particular, Dr. Chapman found that people tend to show affection in the same way that they like to receive it. In other words, the things that one person does to show love are the types of things that that person would like done back to feel loved.

For example, if you feel most in sync with your spouse during a romantic dinner, then Quality Time is your love language. If you’re thrilled by the thoughtfulness of a surprise gift, then you speak the language of Receiving Gifts.

Do you feel the most connected during moments of intimacy? If so, then your love language is Physical Touch. If considerate acts definitely speak louder than words for you, then you’re fluent in the Acts of Service love language.

Lastly, if you enjoy singing your sweetie’s praises and you’re overjoyed when they sing yours, then Words of Affirmation is your love lingo.

For purposes of this article, let’s zero in on the love language of Words of Affirmation, and consider ways in which you can show love through the power of your words.

What Are the ‘Words of Affirmation’ Love Language?

Think back to a time when you were told that you had done a good job on something, or when someone thanked you for your effort. Perhaps it was a boss, a friend, or a parent who recognized your hard work and verbalized their approval.

Those simple words of appreciation may have buoyed you for days or made you feel more connected to the speaker.

When it comes to married couples, Dr. Chapman tells us that words of affirmation make up the most common love language. This love language is also the only category that involves verbal expression.

You can spot people whose love language is based on Words of Affirmation because those people don’t hesitate to cheer others on. These are people who notice other people’s moods, celebrate other people’s accomplishments, and grieve when others grieve.

By the same token, these are the same people who are moved when others express their appreciation for them through words as well.

If your spouse’s primary love language is rooted in words of affirmation, here are four ways you can speak love to your beloved.

1. Call Your Spouse Just to Say, ‘I Love You’

If your loved one is reassured by words of affirmation, a phone call during the workday that may seem like an inconvenience to you may mean the world to them. The phone call doesn’t have to be long or consist of a litany of reasons you love your partner.

Rather, the phone call can simply be a quick “check-in” to make sure your sweetie is doing okay and to let him or her know that you love them.

Keep in mind that if verbal communication is hard for you, your sweetie would be over the moon if you jotted down your I love you in a quick note, email, or text.

Whatever your mode of communication, remember that sincerity is key. The effort you make in letting your loved one know that they are cherished won’t go unnoticed.

2. Speak Love by Being a Cheerleader

You know your spouse better than anyone. You know when they’re insecure or overwhelmed, hurting or just plain bummed out.

Your sweetheart may be having a string of bad days or they may be reeling from some recent bad news. Whatever the case, your words of encouragement may be the fix they need to steady their steps or bring some much-needed light to an otherwise gloomy day.

Whether it’s a simple “you’ve got this” before a big meeting, or a comforting “I’ll wait up to hear all about it” after a long day away from home, your heartfelt words of support go a long way to making your significant other feel loved.

And never underestimate the power of reassuring words on a sticky note smoothed onto a mirror to help your honey start his or her morning with a little more confidence.

3. Stick Up for Your Better Half

When you look at the love of your life, you may not be able to imagine anyone who doesn’t see all of the same qualities in him or her that you see.

Nothing bursts this bubble faster than when someone you know disparages your spouse. This can be especially hurtful when the critic is a friend or relative.

If you want your marriage to thrive, take your cue from longtime, happily married couples who say that the success behind their union is based on their united front. Use your words to show that, no matter how others may criticize your spouse, you are on your spouse’s side.

You don’t have to be rude to your loved one’s critic. But you do have to verbally assert that you love and stand by your spouse, and will not accept anyone’s insulting words pointed in their direction.

This will mean the most to your spouse when they hear you sticking up for them. If that isn’t possible, then be sure to communicate to them how you came to their defense outside of their presence.

4. Thank Your Spouse for What They Do

In a perfect world, couples would go around thanking each other every time they did something to make the other’s life a little easier.

The “thank yous” would flow like water whenever one of you got up with the baby in the middle of the night, drove the kids to their sports meets, or brought home dinner for a surprise date night in.

In reality, it’s easy to fall into a daily routine of checking off boxes on your to-do list and forget to express gratitude for all that your spouse does to keep your household running smoothly. Yet, gratitude matters, and telling your spouse how thankful you are for all they do can go a long way in making them feel valued.

For some people who speak the Words of Affirmation love language, a blanket “thank you for everything you do,” will make their heart swell. For others, they’ll appreciate your attention to detail in highlighting the specific things they did that you’re grateful for.

What Does This Mean?

For many couples, expressing words of affirmation can mean the difference between an evening spent enjoying each other’s company or an evening spent trying to figure out what triggered your sweetheart’s cold shoulder.

When you take the time to build up your spouse with words that resonate most in his or her heart, you’ll be doing your part to improve communication between you and your beloved. You’ll also be bolstering your marital bond in a way that will help stand the test of time. God bless your union!

———-

***By Dolores Smyth at Crosswalks