I don’t love you.

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (AMP)
13 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not [a]love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing. 3 If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [b]to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all.
4 Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. 5 It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 6 It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. 7 Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

The love passage. Believers and non-believers know these verses- and hurl them at one another frequently. It was read aloud at our wedding. I thought I loved my Prince Charming. I realize now that this Cinderella had NO idea what love was; how to receive-or give it. Then our kingdom expanded. We had 4 kids! Again, I had NO idea how to care for, much less love those tiny humans we brought home from the hospital. Then there’s others (not the others who lived on the island the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 crashed onto in the ABC Series “LOST”). I mean others who don’t live in my home- which includes you.

Allow me to confess:
I don’t love my husband.
I don’t love our kids.
I don’t love you.

love.jpg

Yes, I’ve accepted Jesus as my Savior.
Yes, I’ve been baptized.
Yes, I’m part of the body of Christ.
Yes, I’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit.
Yes, I serve others in the church.
Yes, I give to the poor.
Yes, I speak with the tongues of man and angels.
Yes, I have the gift of prophesy.
Yes, I understand some mysteries.
Yes, I have some knowledge.
Yes, I have some faith.

BUT….

No, I don’t always endure with patience.
No, I am not always kind.
No, I am not always void of jealousy.
No, I don’t always crucify my rudeness (sarcasm anyone?!)
No, I am not always slow to anger.
No, I don’t always forgive and forget being wronged.
No, I don’t always look for the best in people (honestly, I rarely look for the best in people).

Allow me to confess, again:
I love Jesus.
He saved me.
He forgave me.
He delivered me…and is STILL delivering me- from fear. Fear of man. Fear of being hurt by man, again. Fear of being a victim of man, again. BUT, despite the experiences I’ve had in my past and recent present, there is still hope! Hope of being set free from fear. Hope of being set free from the One who is love. So, I will continue to abide in Him so that He can be completed and perfected in me. Moment by moment, day by day, year by year, I will sit at His feet and be filled to overflowing with His perfect love which casts out fear. And when I rise to do the work He has called me to (which involves my husband, kids, and you) His Spirit will pour out, and I will love others… because He first loved me.

1 John 4:15-19 Amplified Bible (AMP)

15 Whoever confesses and acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know [by personal observation and experience], and have believed [with deep, consistent faith] the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides continually in him. 17 In this [union and fellowship with Him], love is completed and perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment [with assurance and boldness to face Him]; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love]. 19 We love, because [a]He first loved us.

Indulge

1 Corinthians 5:9-11, 6:15-20  New Living Translation (NLT)

When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10 But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer[a] yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. 

15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16 And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.”[a] 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.

18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Imagine an old, dilapidated house. In the middle of the dining room, under a large farm table lies an exquisite, one of a kind rug covering the aging hardwood floors. The rug is a masterpiece. Beautiful. Unique. Intricately made. The homeowner inherited it from her Father.

Beneath the rug however, lies deeply hidden secrets. They remain locked in darkness below the trap door which leads to the basement. No house guest, no family member, no friend knows they’re there. The Father knows. So does the homeowner. Desperately she hopes, prays even, that no one ever invades the darkness. For she couldn’t bear to see their disgust once the secrets were exposed. Surely, she assumes, everyone would reject and condemn her.

Occasionally, in the dead of night, when she has trouble sleeping, her mind begins to wander…..her eyes soon follow. Before she knows it, she submits her will to the lust. Her body, overwhelmed by temptation, commits a terrible act, again. Again! Shame immediately covers her. She runs to the dining room, desperate for relief. She pulls the rug back, unlocks the trap door, and shoves more secrets into the basement.

On other nights, she wakes drenched in sweat. Heart racing, her mind is consumed by fear. She tries to convince herself it’s only a bad dream. She runs into the dining room, stomps on the rug that is covering the trap door and shouts “I am more than a conqueror!” But she doesn’t believe it. She goes back to bed, wraps herself in the familiar blanket of shame, and fretfully falls asleep. The next day she wakes feeling utterly defeated and completely alone.

indulge

I was that homeowner.

The old, dilapidated house was my body.

The rug was my new life in Christ.

The locked trap door was my old life.

The dark basement was my soul.

After years of torment by residential demons in my body & soul that claimed squatters rights when I indulged in sexual sin (and others indulged against me), I finally allowed Jesus to gently pull back the rug. We opened the trap door together and His Spirit gave me supernatural courage to face the enemy who had been hiding in the basement for decades. Some demons were immediately evicted as I confessed and repented for each sin. But some required a greater level of humility when I needed to ask others in the body of Christ for help. I engaged my strong will and faced my fear. I invited them to climb down into the basement with me and Jesus. They prayed with me. They saw my shame.  I confessed my sin. I gave up control. I repented. I forgave. They battled the enemy with me. They cheered when Jesus led me out of prison. They celebrated when the chains that bound my hands and feet fell off. They rejoiced when I experienced the promise of freedom in Christ!

Since then, I’ve had the privilege of walking into many deep, dark, basements with Jesus and others. I’ve witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit cast out demons and set captives free. I’ve seen believers experience abundant life as they’ve confessed their sins and been HEALED, body and soul!

My fellow homeowner, if you are a believer, stop indulging in sexual sin. RUN! Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. God bought you at a high price. Jesus laid His life down for you. His blood covers all your sin. You’re already forgiven. He can set you free from the evil that resides in the basement of your soul. You are not the only one in the neighborhood who has indulged. You are not the only one in the church who has locked the trap door to keep the secrets hidden. Ask the Holy Spirit for help. Ask others in the body of Christ for help. The Father wants to restore your old, dilapidated body. The Son wants to gently pull back the rug, unbolt the trap door, climb down into the basement  with you and shine a light into the darkness. The Spirit wants to cover you with His armor and deliver you from the enemy. Victory IS possible!

Revelation 19:6-9 The Message (MSG)

6-8 Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of a mighty cataract, the sound of strong thunder:

Hallelujah!
The Master reigns,
    our God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice,
    let us give him the glory!
The Marriage of the Lamb has come;
    his Wife has made herself ready.
She was given a bridal gown
    of bright and shining linen.
The linen is the righteousness of the saints.

The Angel said to me, “Write this: ‘Blessed are those invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.’” He added, “These are the true words of God!”