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"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." --- Psalm 119:105

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What's the Difference Between "Cleaning" and "Cleansing"?

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Is there any difference between "cleaning" and "cleansing"? While both of these words mean getting rid of dirt, grease, grime or some other impurity, there is a major difference.  Cleanse implies being free from defilement and guilt. Cleaning is external; cleansing is internal. Cleaning is physical. Cleansing is spiritual.

"If we confess our sins" is in the above scripture instead of "When we confess our sins"  because everyone  will not confess their sins. But if we confess by admitting our sins, then God will act because He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. That means God does not forgive sometimes; He is faithful to forgive us every time, and He is just and fair in His forgiveness. God not only forgives, but also He cleanses us by erasing all guilt associated with the sin. He leaves no trace or residue. He eliminates all indications that the sin was ever present. In other words, we become justified (just as if we had never sinned).

Let's live by the words Jesus told the Pharisee, "Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. (Matthew 23:26). What can wash away our sins and cleanse us within? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Shrove Tuesday
If we confess our sins [be striven], he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

The day before Ash Wednesday is "Shrove Tuesday."  Its name came from the old custom of confessing (being shriven) on that day. It is also a day of celebration as the last chance to feast before Lent begins. Shrove Tuesday is a time of rejoicing in many countries and communities.  It is the last day of the carnival season of Southern Europe. Could this also mean it was the last day for people to be "carnal"? (Just a thought). Shrove Tuesday is the same as Mardi Gras of the French.  "Mardi" in French means "Tuesday" and "Gras" means "Fat." The English call today "Pancake Tuesday" because strict Christians prohibited the eating of fat, butter and eggs during Lent. Therefore, housewives used all their dairy products by making pancakes. The stacks of pancakes were eaten as a form of self-indulgence before the Lenten fast.  Some people call it "Fat Tuesday" mainly because they plan to eat as much as they can before their Lenten fast. No matter what you call the day, it is the day before Ash Wednesday.

Be striven on Shrove Tuesday; get ashes on Ash Wednesday!

How Deep Is Your Love?
He who says, "I know [love] Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in Him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk just as He walked. (I John 2:4-6)

If you would take a poll at a worship service to see how many people love God, every person there would raise his/her hand. Saying "Yes, I love God" would be the natural response for 100% of the people. Then you noticed that 10% of those people were late coming to the worship service. Then you noticed that 25% of them have never attended a Sunday School class. Another 25% have never attended a Bible Study. Another 20% have never tithed. Ten percent chew gum, talk, or sleep during the worship service. When it comes down to numbers only about 10% of the people who attend worship services really have a deep love for God. Are you in that number?

We love God only to the extent that we are good stewards of His word. If we say we love God but do not keep His commandments we are liars.

The question is: How deep is your love for God? Demonstrate it by obeying His word and walk as Jesus walked.

"My Bad!" Is Not Good
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. (1 John 2:15)

There is an expression that students and some adults say that makes me cringe. Recently I heard a television preacher say, "My bad!" when he realized he had misquoted a scripture. That definitely made me cringe.

When some people make a mistake they say, "My bad." What's wrong with simply making a complete sentence by saying, "I made a mistake"? Saying "My bad" is bad. First of all, it is grammatically incorrect. Secondly, why would anybody want to curse themselves by calling a negative condition upon themselves?

The exclamation, "My bad!" is an apologetic way of saying, 'My fault! My mistake!' It's said to have derived from the game of pick-up basketball, popular in the inner cities. A player may say it when he commits a foul or when the ball goes out of bounds.

Some people nominated "My bad!" as a candidate for the 1999 "Word of the Year," an end-of-the-year contest sponsored by the American Dialect Society. It was immediately pointed out that the phrase is over twenty years old. However, it was popularized by the 1995 cult movie "Clueless" which was loaded with teenage slang.

"My bad!" is only one of the many clever expressions common in the speech of young people in recent years. The phrase "My bad!" is probably decreasing in use compared to its popularity in the mid-1990s. However, it's still current slang used in all parts of the country. It's used by young people and even some adults, but when it makes its way into the pulpit, it definitely has gone too far.

Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost and 3,000 souls were saved. (Acts 2:14-41) That was because he was preaching the word of God. He preached with power and authority and not once did he say, "My bad!"

We can't keep teenagers from using slang. And we can't keep adults from using slang. However, we can still communicate with them without using slang ourselves. And I will never back down on saying it has no place in the pulpit.

God Lavishes His Love On Us!
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

Two important points are gleaned from the above scripture.  (1)  Who we are: Children of God! (2) How great is God's love for us? So great that He has lavished it on us. Once we accept that we are children of God, then we can also accept the fact that God has bestowed so much love on us.  In fact, He has lavished love on us in full measure.  God's love for us is great. 

We are His children right now, not just sometimes in a distant future. Our self-worth is based on the fact that God loves us and calls us His children. Knowing that we are His children should encourage us to live as Jesus did. When you feel that no one loves you, remember God does!

Like Jesus
But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him. (1 John 3:2)

Vow today that you will live to be so much like Jesus that if you were standing next to him, the angels would have to ask, "Which is which?"

God's Omniscience
For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:20)

Some people wonder why we need to talk to God when He knows what we are going to say. They wonder why ask God to forgive us when He already knows we need forgiveness. They wonder why we need to waste time telling God how holy He is when He already knows it. And above all, since God created us in His own image, doesn't He know that we love Him? Why do we have to tell him if He already knows?
God is omniscience. That means God knows everything. He knows what you are thinking right now. He knows the next words that will come out of your mouth. He knows what your next action will be. Yes, God knows!
We tell God we love Him. We tell God we worship Him. We tell God we praise Him. We ask God to forgive us for our sins not because God needs to know these things. We don't do it for God. We do it for ourselves.
When we remind God of things, we acknowledge that we are in sync with Him. We acknowledge that we are accountable to Him. We acknowledge that we know He already knows. And for that, God is pleased.
Do not refrain from talking to God based on His omniscience. Talking to God is two-fold: It is TO God, but it is FOR ourselves! Talk to God. Tell Him what's on your mind. And yes, He knows it already, but tell Him anyway.
Another thing: God's omniscience (all knowing) works in conjunction with His omnipotence (all powerfulness) and His omnipresence (being everywhere at all times).

Spiritual Caller ID
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.  (1 John 4:1-2)

Almost every household has a Telephone Caller ID. The purpose of Caller ID is for the caller to be identified  before someone answers the telephone. The person called knows immediately who the caller is, along with his or her telephone number. Then the person called makes the decision to answer or not.

Even this method of caller identification is not 100% accurate.  Sometimes the call is recorded "Out of Area" or "Unavailable."  There is even a way for the caller to have his or her call show up as "Anonymous."  Therefore, this method of caller identification is not foolproof. 

The above scriptures indicate that every one who says, "Lord, Lord!" is not of God.  You need to test the spirits to see whether they are of God.  You do this by checking your Spiritual Caller ID.  True prophets speak to your spirit as well as to your natural mind.  True prophets freely confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh and by His blood we are saved.  If those who minister to you cannot make that claim, they are false prophets and not sent by God.

Read your Bible and know God's word for yourself. Then check your Spiritual Caller ID before accepting and agreeing with what everybody tells you.

The Greater One
Greater is the One who is in you than the one who is in the world.  (1 John 4:4)

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the problems we face and upset by the wickedness all around us.  Those things are in the world and can be seen.  However, God is more powerful than any problem we are facing in the natural realm.  If we let God's Spirit and His Word live in our hearts, we are assured that we will be more than conquerors because the greater One lives in us.

We must realize that if we are important enough for God to send His Son to die on the cross for us, then we are important enough for God to continue to show His love toward us.

To personalize God's acts of love, think back over the circumstances involving your life this week.  Have you had close calls in any area that you know without a doubt that it was an act of God's love that kept you?  Perhaps you are having a problem thinking of at least one act of God's love right now. Let me give you a hint or two.  Are you reading this, or is someone reading it to you?  If you are reading it, then personalize God's act of love in giving you sight, the ability to read, the ability to comprehend, the strength to turn on your computer, knowledge to retrieve this document, and on and on and on. 

Let's not take anything for granted that God does for us.  Thank God now for His mighty acts of love toward YOU

The Invisible Fence
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because greater is he who is in you, than he that is in the world.  (1 John 4:4)

No doubt we are concerned about the wickedness in the world today. Evil is obvious in our schools, communities and even in some churches. While we might believe at times that we have no recourse, John assures us that God is still in control even though Satan is the god of this world. Because we are from God, we are overcomers. Because the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are greater than Satan who tries his best to take us out. Satan is hindered by an invisible fence and can go only so far.

Have you seen those invisible fences in yards that keep dogs from leaving the premises? Dogs come as close to the edge of the yard as possible, but they do not go beyond the invisible fence. Satan is like that. Because we are covered in the blood of Jesus, Satan may come real close, but he cannot touch us. He cannot touch us unless....

Satan cannot touch us unless there is an opening in the invisible fence. Sin provides a space, a gap, an opening for Satan to have legal access to our lives.

Satan is like a roaring lion on a chain (1 Peter 5:8). He makes a lot of noise and serious attempts. When we maintain clean hands and a pure heart, we are protected by the invisible fence that keeps Satan away from us and by the blood of Jesus that covers and protects us. Because we are doubly protected we can say like John, "greater is he who is in us than he that is in the world."

God is Love
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:8, 16)

A friend gave me a t-shirt that says, "God is love" because she knows I love that scripture. Whenever I perform marriage ceremonies, I always say that scripture to begin the ceremony because I want the name "God" to be the first thing out of my mouth. I wear my t-shirt often; especially when my three-year old grandson visits. That's because we get down on the floor, paint, do crafts, play with cars, and do other fun things that active three-years old boys like to do.

The first time I read the t-shirt to AJ he repeated after me, "God is love." On the next visit I asked him, "What does my t-shirt say?" Without hesitation he proudly said, "God loves you!" I was tempted to correct him, but then my theology kicked in. While he was not reading correctly the writing on the t-shirt, AJ was indeed correct in his thinking. Because God is love, God loves you.

God is the embodiment of love. Since God is love, everything God does is a result of His love for you. Who God IS cannot be separated from what God DOES. What God DOES cannot be separated from who God IS. What does God do? God loves you! Love is not only an attribute of God, it is also an essential part of God's nature. God is the personification of perfect love.

We will never know all there is to know about God's love for us. God's love surpasses our power of understanding. (Ephesians 3:9) Let the remark from a three-year old remind you like it reminded me . . .  Because God is love, God loves you!

How Are We to Love?
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.(1 John 4:7-8)

Those who love God will love one another.  It is impossible to have a personal relationship with God without also having a Christ-centered relationship with other people.  We cannot live in isolation if we are to grow in our relationship with God. 

Our relationship with God is represented by the vertical beam of the cross while our relationship with other people is represented by the horizontal beam.  If either beam is out of order, so is one's Christian life.

God's Acts of Love
This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.  (1 John 4:9)

The Bible tells us how God showed His love toward us.  If we truly believe the above scripture, then we must also believe that whatever God does is an act of love. 

We are then challenged to do two things: (1) to recognize constantly the loving acts of God in our lives, and (2) to make a conscious effort to receive and personalize every act of God's love.

God Is Love
God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16)

This scripture illustrates a great communion between the God who loves you and the you who love God. We love because God first loved us. The initiative is always from God shown through the perfect example of Jesus Christ. We can never be lost to God's love for God is love. God's love is beyond measure and inexhaustible. We never have to worry that God will run out of love because it flows from a well that will never run dry.

To always feel the presence of God and to know God's love to the fullest, abide in God and be assured that God and God's love abide in you.

God Is Love
God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God, and God abides in them. (1 John 4:16)

A few years ago (and re-runs today) there was a television show called "The Love Boat."  The theme song for that show was "Love is in the Air."  Everybody who was on the love boat fell in love and there was romance everywhere. 

Brothers and Sister in Christ, we don't need to take a cruise on the love boat to experience love. Right here, right now where you are today, you can experience love in its greatest dimension because God is love.  If we truly want the love that only God can give, we need to abide in God and He will abide in us. God just doesn't have love. GOD IS LOVE.  He is the true essence of love. 

If you think you have experienced all there is to experience by being in love with a human being, you haven't experienced all there is to love?  While being in love with a human is wonderful, the love of God is heightened a thousand-fold.

You haven't experienced the purest form of love until you abide in God and allow Him to abide in you; for God IS love.

It's Personal
God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16b)

Has someone ever told you something and prefaced it by saying, "It's not personal but . . ."?  Has someone ever told you something and then said, " . . . but don't take it personal"?
Well, this message is personal, and it should be taken personally. God is love and each and every one of us who abide in love also abide in God. God wants to have a personal intimate relationship with each of us on an individual basis. And it's personal!  God wants us to go through Jesus Christ (John 14:6) to get to Him. And it's personal!

If you have never confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior or if you don't have that personal relationship with God that He desires, why not do something personal today and call upon God and make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior through the blood that was shed on Calvary. 

Remember, it is to be taken personally.

What Do You Know For Sure?
God is love. Whoever abides in love, abides in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16b)

What did Paul know for sure? Paul knew the power of the gospel. Paul had a passion for the gospel. He did not give up on the gospel even when it meant his own death.  I believe Paul was still preaching the gospel as he was beheaded. The last words out of his mouth were not about himself and what he had done but about Jesus Christ and what He had done. Like Paul, we should be so sure about the gospel that we are willing to die for it.

Have you ever considered what it is that you are willing to die for rather than to back down on it. What is it that you know for sure? Everything you do and say should always point to what you know for sure. There should be an underlying theme to your life. What is your passion? What would you do even if you didn't get paid for it? What brings you back to reality when the whole world has gone mad? What makes you tick? What do you know for sure without a shadow of doubt?

What I know for sure is summed up in these words of John. "God is love. Whoever abides in love, abides in God, and God in him." (1 John 16b) Because God is love, heaven and earth were created. Because God is love, we were created. The only way to abide in God is to be what He is. What is God? God is love. The only way to abide in love is to abide in God. There is no getting around it. If you want God, then you MUST love because God is love. If you want love, then you MUST abide in God because God is love.

What do I know for sure? I know that God and love cannot be separated. God is love. He wants us to abide in Him so much that He sent His only begotten son. (John 3:16) Therefore, we have direct access to God and can abide in God only through Jesus Christ. (John 14:6)

What do I know for sure? What have I been willing to say in some form for 1700 times? "God is love. Whoever abides in love, abides in God, and God in him."

Love Is Reciprocal
We love him because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19

Through these E-Messages, you probably already know my four-year old son, AJ. Well, AJ is at it again theologically. When he spends the night with me, he talks, talks, talks. What else would a four-year old do? Without a reason, our conversation goes like this:

AJ:  "Grandma, guess what?"
Grandma: "What, AJ?"
AJ: Grandma, I love you!"
Grandma: "Why?"
AJ: "Cuz you love me!"

A few minutes later when I think AJ has forgotten the conversation, there is another dialogue:

Grandma: "AJ, guess what?"
AJ:  "What, Grandma?"
Grandma: "AJ, I love you!
AJ: "And I know why!
Grandma: "Why"
AJ: "Cuz I love you!"

Love is reciprocal. And that's the way it should be. We should let others know we love them, and they will also let us know they love us. We should also let God know how we feel toward Him. In the midst of our tears, we should have the above conversation with God. In the midst of our joy, we should have that same conversation with God. Why? Because God loves us and throughout the day, He tells us that He loves us in various ways.

Let God know you love Him cuz He is letting you know He loves you!

A Personal Ad To God
There are dating and matchmaking services nationwide. Both men and women of all races, ages and professions pay to advertise hoping to find the perfect mate. You don't need to advertise for God to find you. He already knows where you are. You don't have to advertise for God to love you. He already loves you. But let's suppose you had to write a personal ad to get the attention of God. What would you write?

WHAT NOT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR PERSONAL AD TO GOD: Saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost. Young, beautiful; seeking someone to date but not interested in a long-term relationship; just want to party and have fun. Financially secure. Have been told I have it all together.

WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR PERSONAL AD TO GOD: Broken, torn, weary, hurt, tired of sinning, longing for an everlasting companion. In need of love, provisions and protection.  Poor and needy. Spiritually and financially bankrupt. Wants a special gift but not willing to work for it. Not good to look at; in fact, I am a filthy rag. Sick and am in need of an operation: a heart transplant. Helpless, hopeless, lonely.  In need of immediate deliverance.

Which personal ad do you think would get God's immediate attention? God wants us to come to Him just as we are . . . broken, torn, weary, hurt, lonely, etc. The second personal ad lets God know that we need Him and want a lasting relationship. There is no reason to pretend to God that we are more than we are. He knows exactly who we are. He wants us to come to Him while we are still sinners with a contrite spirit.

Loving God Helps Us to Love God's People
If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:20)

When we love people, it is evident by the way we threat them and the way they treat us. We communicate with them, share with them and exchange gifts. We have their best interest in mind. Some people are more lovable than others. And they are easy to love. But what about those people who are difficult to love? There is just something about them that rubs us the wrong way. There is some habit or some flaw in their character that makes us want to have no dealings with them. What about those people?

God says if we can't love His people, then we are lying about loving Him. If we can't love the unlovable in our own strength, there is an easy remedy. When we are powerless to love certain people, God has given us a love potion. When we can't love people on our own, then we need to love them through God's heart.

We can't say we love God and not love His people. If there is someone you refuse to love, give up trying to love that person on your own. Love that person through God's heart until you come to the place where you can love through your own heart. And you will; that is, if you love God.

Prayers Are Answered In Heaven
And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us: and if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. (1 John 5:14-15)

Every prayer offered in faith according to God's will is always answered in heaven.  You might wonder why we do not always see our answered prayers manifested on earth. The adversary never allows an answer to reach earth if he can prevent it.  Persistence in prayer is not needed to persuade a willing God but to overcome opposition of hindering evil spirits. The answer to many prayers that have already been granted in heaven may never be received because the petitioner becomes weary, discouraged, or intimidated, and gives up the fight. Daniel's prayer for his people was answered in heaven the very first day that he began his intercession, and immediately an angel was dispatched with the answer. But the angel was intercepted, and for twenty-one days the evil one blocked his way. Then Michael, one of the top officers of the heavenly army, came and broke through those evil spirits (Daniel 10:12-13).

Know that your prayers are answered in heaven as soon as you pray when you do so according to the will of God.  The manifestation of the answers here on earth requires a spiritual battle.  Fast, pray, and put on the whole armor of God in order for your answers to reach you.

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