Restoring Authenticity

Jesus answered him, “‘Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.’ This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is like it in importance: ‘You must love your friend in the same way you love yourself.’ Contained within these commandments to love you will find all the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.” -Matthew 22:37-40 The Passion Translation

 

JUNETEENTH

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which officially outlawed slavery on January 1, 1863.  Freedom Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day are terms for the 19th of June, originating in 1865 which is a holiday celebrating the liberation of those who had been held as slaves in the USA. Originating in Texas, it is now celebrated yearly across America on this date.  Although Juneteenth is commonly thought of as celebrating the end of slavery in America, it was still legal and practiced in some states until December 6, 1865, when ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery nationwide.

Freedom took time to be understood, realized, and authentically practiced. 

The annual celebrations began in 1866 and first involved church-centered community gatherings, spreading across the South. The celebration often centered around a food festival in the 1920s and 1930s.  During the 1960s Civil Rights era, there was a struggle for general civil rights, but recognition of the holiday again grew in the 1970s with a focus on African American freedom and arts. By the 21st century, Juneteenth was celebrated in most major cities. Currently, there are 47 states that acknowledge this holiday in some way, with four states recognizing Juneteenth as an official paid holiday for state employees. Blood was shed for this emancipation; many lives were lost so others could be saved and freed.

 

The law of love, Jesus’ mandate for our lives as seen in Matthew 22: 29-33, 37-40 TPT, was fought for as well. The cost was high. When spirits ruled the carnal minds of the day, Jesus laid out His plan for each one so they could receive truth, receive His love, and lead others likewise.  His blood was generously shed at Calvary for this incredible opportunity to experience freedom. He voluntarily laid His life down and literally became evil for this freedom to manifest.  He deserves all glory and thanksgiving for absorbing within Himself all sin which includes racial injustice and any other divisive, non-unifying, and unloving lifestyle or system.  His death, burial, and Resurrection has made it possible for the eradication of all hatred, fear, and the ensuing of any divisive trajectory so people can live freely with dignity and peace.  He made a way.  He made THE way for the impossible. Believers are the recipients and promoters of His Kingdom plan and Kingdom heart for this to become reality. Jesus silenced the religious leaders of the day with His superb ability to speak truth that cut to the heart, decimating hatred and deception. How about our lives today? When the Sadducees came to Jesus to question Him about marriage and resurrection, Jesus answered in verses 29-33 saying “You are deluded, because your hearts are not filled with the revelation of the Scriptures or the power of God. For after the resurrection, men and women will not marry, just like the angels of heaven don’t marry. Haven’t you read what God said: I am the Living God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. When the crowd heard this, they were dazed, stunned over such wisdom.”  Jesus called it like it was and still does today. Hearts and minds were deluded. They had no revelation of the Scriptures or power of God. But His compassionate end goal in so doing was to provide an opportunity for love to break through, for all to see and receive loving freedom; not just point out their sin. Sin was the obstacle to remove for true freedom to thrive.

The love war was raging. Many people were watching and listening to the challenge, not just the religious leaders. Jesus was always operating multidimensionally.  He was totally connected to the Father in full obedience while He was the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world. He knew what everyone was thinking, feeling, and what they needed. The following verses, 34 and 35, are so important because the battle against Jesus intensified: “When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they called a meeting to discuss how to trap Jesus. Then one of them, a religious scholar and lawyer, posed this question to test him: ‘Teacher which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus knew that He was being set up but was ready to lay out the law of love for them (and for us today). He wanted everyone to recognize the battle they were in and then run into their only safe place, Jesus Himself.  Everyone could feel the tension. And everyone was given a way of escape. Jesus was ready throughout the challenges given and never backed down. He knew this was a make or break time for all who were there. His compassionate heart was actually setting them up. The next 4 verses were clear, power packed, and penetrating.

 

 

This is the key to change. This is the key to revival. This is the key to awakening hearts to Love Incarnate, Jesus. In our lives, He will bring the solution, no matter the cost, no matter how long, no matter the intensity. We must believe this. In verses 37-40, “Jesus answered him, ‘Love the LORD your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you, this is the great and supreme commandment.

Every passion of your heart

All the energy of your being

Every thought that is within you

And the second is like it in importance: You must love your friend in the same way you love yourself. Contained within these commandments to love you will find all the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.”

 

AUTHENTICITY OF FAITH

When there is intense disagreement and division rises, humility is always the key to establishing a proper Kingdom perspective. The Lord moves on our behalf through this perspective. A genuine Kingdom heart embraces and pursues genuine reconciliation with God and others, which marks the end of estrangement. This attitude of the heart, and resulting behavior, kills pride, arrogance and fear. Pause for a moment; if we really realized that refusal to reconcile was based in pride, there would be pro-active steps to be taken for those who desire to walk in humility. This growing heart is critical to help release and restore authenticity of faith in ourselves and also others.  Don’t gloss over this. Cutting a slice of humble pie and actually eating it is very good for the soul. It will lift burdens from within and also speaks volumes to the enemy of our soul. He really hates serious believers who desire authentic faith.  At times, there may be a temptation to put an end to terrible relational tension any way possible, for the sake of “peace.” That preferred method becomes one of “peace keeping” rather than “peace making,” which does not result in restoration. It may feel like emotional peace, but it covers what the Lord really wants to illuminate so we can be free. It involves running away from Love’s solution, ignoring root issues and people, and pulling back.  It provides a band aid which covers painful interaction that, left unattended (not receiving healing from Jesus), can become a seeping wound. This enables the wound to fester and spread, which causes further tension, chaos, and refusal to war as Jesus warred. Could the inner agitation actually be the unholy hindrance that the Lord wants to replace with His love?

 

 

Jesus knew His battle wasn’t against flesh and blood, so He never quit, never pulled back, never gave up. He was fully armored at all times (Ephesians 6: 10-18). Suited up in proper armor, He saw people hurting, angry, and bitter, as those orphaned. Complacency never was an effective battle strategy for Him. Jesus didn’t coast and hope His Father would do something. No. He was and is action. Letting things “go” and “moving on,” is harmful for the initiator and those closely aligned when there is tension. This inaction also causes fiery pain for recipients of the debilitating and poisonous arrows that deeply hurt others’ hearts. The enemy loves to entice people to shoot these weapons. It’s wickedness with a smile. Unresolved hurt, pain, and tension can turn into a powerful mindset and platform to try to convince others as to why their perspective is right and “I’m sticking to it; it is what it is”, but really is futile. A non-kingdom perspective is futile.  As time passes, unresolved issues evolve into a “non-issue,” a serious condition of the heart because the heart loses its softness and actually becomes stoney. The “undetected” issue/pain remains securely hidden in the inner protective recesses of the soul. Hardness of heart results with eyes that can’t see the reality and importance of God’s perspective and a failure to embrace Him as the Solution. Inaction results in the enemy triumphing. And this can continue for years, decades, and generations. That’s a huge mistake for believers since their love for the Lord will wane, and their love for others will not be based on the Jesus being the anchor of their soul. It will be based on insecure love. That’s dangerous and destructive; insulting to the finished work of the cross. It deeply hurts others, as well.

 

NO RETREATING – NO WITHHOLDING

If Love Himself is the Solution to our differences, then there must be a higher understanding that our God doesn’t retreat from us and He doesn’t withhold from us. That’s really important.  Do we believe that? Our God is intentional about revealing His authentic love to us on every front. If His love captures our hearts, we will never retreat from those who fail to love us by withholding expressed love to them.  That would not only hurt the retreater and withholder but would deeply hurt the ones who desire to receive love. Not a healthy plan. We will recognize judgment in our own hearts that has subtly taken root, masked in our own opinion. We will be able to see how our own heart has blamed others for causing us pain because the real culprit, hidden pain, has been just that ….hidden. The platform of ick has been cultivating a great landing strip for criticism and judgment to slide right in and suggest to us what isn’t accurate.  And the wrong virus is spread. It’s time for a new season; one of vulnerability which leads to true holiness. Time for the fountains of revival of our own hearts to spring up!

He wants to restore the authenticity in our hearts of sold-out devotion to Him.

 

 

Sin is designed to rob people of authentic faith so they will not connect with the immutable and unchangeable love of God for and towards them. By nature, sin attempts to devalue and eventually destroy the truth and reality of God’s amazing love for each of us. That is always our battle, but if left unrecognized, we become slaves to sin once again. Since, as believers, we are bought with a price, we are to see ourselves as “willing” slaves to His righteous heart: “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6: 16-18).  Our worth and value to Him is nonnegotiable. He doesn’t make mistakes. The enemy attempts to twist the understanding of God’s unfathomable love toward us so our soul will, instead, receive rejection from others rather than acceptance.  Rejection is poison in the soul and keeps people from focusing on the cross.  Rejection will always back off, avoid, and retreat.  It doesn’t just go away. It must be unmasked by the power and love of Jesus, so every believer will experience the peaceful reality of living the life of a slave to righteousness.

Receiving God’s love beyond an intellectual understanding, and loving others out of that love, is our answer to all things. These are not just religious sounding words. They are truth. God’s love is powerful and is the answer to rejection, rage, anger, dissension, unforgiveness, racial conflict, hatred, despair, discouragement, depression, fear, and more. All people are designed by God to feel accepted and approved of. Love deficits are evident in those who strive for acceptance and approval and will accept any manner of what they think or feel love looks like.  The danger in that is that Jesus is the author of genuine and authentic love and will never offer a substitute or counterfeit affection.  That would tie Him to what is intended to steal from, kill, and destroy a person. That’s the enemy’s job.

 

AUTHENTIC IDENTITY

If we are honest, many times we often feel insecure. The good news is that this is an invitation from God to escape the dangers of believing wrongly about ourselves and find the true and lasting peace that comes from God. He wants us to see ourselves as He sees us, avoiding the trap of defining ourselves based on what we do, our performance, and all that distorts in our eyes how God really sees us. Often we define who we are based on our jobs, successes and failures.  Also our marriages, families, and outside interests will define us if we let them. And we crave the “good job” kudos that keep us going. The Lord wants us to look in the mirror and see ourselves accurately.  He wants the foundation and basis of our acceptance to be from His perspective.  We are wired by God to know Him deeply and connect with Him intimately to see how HE sees us above all else and respond accordingly.

Only God can form the true identity of a son or daughter in the Kingdom.

 

 

We are called to know Him as Father and see ourselves as His sons and daughters, totally doing life from that perspective. When we step into His drawing love, we will begin to better embrace how He sees us and will receive His affirmation and acceptance first and foremost. If not, we will be controlled by our screaming needs and then be controlled by others. We are to be reconciled to the Father, through Jesus, energized by Holy Spirit.  True sons and daughters are mandated to be instruments of reconciliation, stopping for the one, which leads to restoration for others. This is full circle. The enemy works furiously against all the above, to enslave and keep people from these truths because he knows if they are wholeheartedly received, destiny is released on every front, in every direction. This involves ALL parties. No finger pointing. Romans 8:15-17 TPT reminds us “And you did not receive the ‘spirit of religious duty’ leading you back into the fear of never being good enough. But you have received the ‘Spirit of full acceptance’ enfolding you in the family of God. And you will never feel orphaned, for as He rises within us, our spirits join Him in saying the words of tender affection, ‘Beloved Father!’ For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as He whispers into our innermost being, ‘You are God’s beloved child! And since we are His true children, we qualify to share all His treasures, for indeed, we are heirs of God Himself. And since we are joined to Christ, we also inherit all that He is and all that He has. We will experience being co-glorified with Him provided that we accept His sufferings as our own.”  This is our true identity.

 

NO NEUTRAL

There is no neutral. If you consider yourself a true, growing, and highly valued son or daughter of the King who loves the Presence of God, this message is for you. If you don’t know or fully believe that you are a true, growing, and a highly valued son or daughter of God, this message is for you.  Think about that for a moment and take steps afterwards. If you don’t peddle the bike you won’t go anywhere. As a true and growing son or daughter of God who believes you are highly valued by God, your heart for the harvest (other people’s salvation, healing, deliverance, restoration) will burn because God designed you that way.

 

 

You will see every calamity, whether COVID-19 or the current civil unrest/racism/division, as opportunities to see the Gospel of the Kingdom exponentially spread. And you will desire to be part of the resulting harvest. You will take steps to become a person of action.  That’s Jesus’ heart which He puts inside of us and we are responsible to see people authentically rescued and restored. This is the contagious love virus of God. The enemy steals, kill, and destroys the desire to become and remain infected with this supernatural “virus” of love which releases our true spiritual identity in us and enables us to help others to that end. This is a critical part of sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom, which can end hate, fear, racism, abortion, trafficking, and other atrocities.

If you have a heart to see an end to poverty, death, destruction, slavery, racism, hatred, etc., it’s because God put it in you. He wants us to embrace the greatest love commandment (see above) to accomplish this, then be able to love others as you embrace who you are as a valuable son or daughter in the Kingdom. That’s loving others as you love yourself. You can’t fulfill the 2nd love commandment without living out the 1st. Notice the order. We will then do things His way, so we truly succeed, as He gets the glory. That’s the way of His Kingdom. He’s in charge.

The Lord loves to expose the “non-belonging” orphan heart which always entertains orphan thinking. He wants us to love being in His family, linking arms with others who love Him, and reaching out to effectively help others. How can we delight in the Lord if our hearts are far from Him, or if we are detached in any way? How can we feel as though we truly belong to Him and are in the center of His plans/will if we are not actively and consistently secure in the Love of our Father?  We can’t and we won’t. Jesus is our Freedom Fighter who has won everything for us at the cross, We were buried with Him in the grave, so that life-giving Living Water results from the Resurrection. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus. He wants us to be found in Him.

 

IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO IS AGAINST US?

Romans 8:31-39 NASB: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The Triumph of God’s Love in this Romans passage is also clearly spelled out in The Passion Translation. According to Romans 8:31-39 TPT, “So, what does all this mean? If God has determined to stand with us, tell me, who then could ever stand against us? For God has proved his love by giving us his greatest treasure, the gift of his Son. And since God freely offered him up as the sacrifice for us all, he certainly won’t withhold from us anything else he has to give. Who then would dare to accuse those whom God has chosen in love to be his? God himself is the judge who has issued his final verdict over them ‘Not Guilty!’ Who then is left to condemn us? Certainly not Jesus, the Anointed One! For he gave his life for us, and even more than that, he has conquered death and is now risen, exalted, and enthroned by God at his right hand. So how could he possibly condemn us since he is continually praying for our triumph? Who could ever separate us from the endless love of God’s Anointed One? Absolutely no one! For nothing in the universe has the power to diminish his love toward us. Troubles, pressures, and problems are unable to come between us and heaven’s love. What about persecutions, deprivations, dangers, and death threats? No, for they are all impotent to hinder omnipotent love, even though it is written: All day long we face death threats for your sake, God. We are considered to be nothing more than sheep to be slaughtered! Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and his demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything.

 So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us-no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord, Jesus, the Anointed One!”

 

ENGULFING SECURITY

If we are engulfed in this amazing love, we will become very secure in Him. We will desire to love Him more. We will want to become closer with Him. We will feel protected and strengthened and be able to easily approach His Throne of Grace with confidence and boldness. We will see through His eyes, hear with His ears, and release Peace Himself in all situations. Believers will understand the battle that the Bible tells us we are in and be able to see Love Himself WIN in the midst of turmoil, strife, angst, fear, hatred, rebellion, anger and more. If Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing as seen in John 5:19, then the great love He had for people he both agreed and disagreed with had to be evident.  “Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)

 

RACISM AND THE ANOINTED ONE

When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman in the village of Sycar and asked for a drink of water in the account of John 4: 1-30 TPT, she had been in the throws of racism and was spiritually blind. John 4:9 states “Surprised, she said, ‘Why would a Jewish man ask a Samaritan woman for a drink of water?’ Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew who I am and the gift that God wants to give you-you’d ask me for a drink, and I would give to you living water.’ The woman replied, ‘But sir, you don’t even have a bucket and this well is very deep. So where do you find this ‘living water’? Do you really think that you are greater than our ancestor Jacob who dug this well and drank from it himself, along with his children and livestock?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you drink from Jacob’s well you’ll be thirsty again and again, but if anyone drinks the living water I give them, they will never thirst again and will be forever satisfied! For when you drink the water, I give you, it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, springing up and flooding you with endless life!’ The woman replied, ‘Let me drink that water so I’ll never be thirsty again and won’t have to come back here to draw water.’ Jesus said, ‘Go get your husband a bring him back here.’ ‘But I’m not married,’ the woman answered. ‘That’s true,’ Jesus said, for you have been married five times and now you’re living with a man who is not your husband, You have told the truth.’ The woman said, ‘You must be a prophet!’

 

 

‘So tell me this: Why do our fathers worship God here on this nearby mountain, but your people teach that Jerusalem is the place where we must worship. Which is right?’ Jesus responded, ‘Believe me, dear woman, the time has come when you won’t worship the Father on a mountain nor in Jerusalem, but in your heart. Your people don’t really know the One they worship. We Jews worship out of our experience, for it’s from the Jews that salvation is made available. From here on, worshiping the Father will not be a matter of the right place but with the right heart. For God is a Spirit and he longs to have sincere worshipers who worship and adore him in the realm of the Spirit and in truth.’ The woman said, ‘This is all so confusing, but I do know that the Anointed One is coming – the true Messiah. And when he comes, he will tell us everything we need to know.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You don’t have to wait any longer, the Anointed One is here speaking with you – I am the One you’re looking for.’ And the disciples returned and were stunned to see Jesus speaking to a Samaritan woman. Yet none of them dared to ask him why or what they were discussing. All at once, the woman dropped her water jar and ran off to her village and told everyone, ‘Come and meet a man at the well who told me everything I’ve ever done! He could be the Anointed One we’ve been waiting for.’ Hearing this, the people came streaming out of the village to go see Jesus.”

Encountering Jesus in 2020 is the answer to our societal maladies. He is the Living Water; He is the answer to COVID-19 and civil unrest. He will reveal Himself to anyone and all who will thirst for Him. He is the Anointed One people are really looking for. He is the bigger picture. He is the Restorer of authentic worship and hope. When the woman was freed and ran to her village, she invited all to meet her Answer. And the others responded. They weren’t looking for an answer to racism per se (although they were under its tyranny), they were looking for authentic Love and found Him.  He became the full answer to all things.

 

REALITY CHECK

To move into legitimate unity with others during this COVID-19 time and season of disturbing unrest, especially as evidenced in America right now, we must draw into the closeness of the One who sees all, knows all, feels all, and directs all. Our love must be unconditional regardless of how right or wrong we feel people are.  And, only the Lord can define what that looks like. We might seem to excel in many areas of our lives that we put our mind and heart to; where we spend most of our time. We begin to feel good about our lives. We feel proud of ourselves. We feel as though we are succeeding, whether it’s in our vocation, family, or ministry. While there is some truth to that, the Lord is waking everyone up in this season, shaking everything inside that can be shaken (Hebrew 12) which prevents our oneness with Him. He is calling each of us to Himself for a reality check. He is looking at all our interpersonal relationships, first and foremost with Him, then others. With this developing posture, we can truly talk to anyone who is upset, angry, hurting, and explosive as the Lord provides opportunity.  Look and listen to the “Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness,” because “that’s who He is!”  1 John 4:4, 18-19 NASB reminds us, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.”  Don’t let protest, riots, and violence frighten you.  You carry the Greater Spirit.

 

 

THIS IS THE TIME

He is very serious in this hour and is working to draw us into deeper intimacy with Him, which will proactively spill into others. This is the time to reexamine our lifeline to Jesus based on Matthew 22: 37-40. This is the time to see Jesus as the Solution to any situation that involves us, in any way.  The time to “get to it later” is over; the stakes are high. May we stop and obey what the Master Lover of the universe is saying to us, no matter the cost. We owe this consecration of our soul to Him. If we’ve sold any area of our soul to the enemy, knowingly or unknowingly, now is the time for RESTORATION of AUTHENTICITY to escalate and explode. Ask Him to speak.  Focus on His eyes and give Him everything that hinders 100% freedom in your soul. Your mind, thinking, emotions, and will…the real you…will never be the same. His power is here so each of us will see who He really is and only then can we truly believe who we really are: “ It’s the goodness of God that leads man  to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:15)  We will become the needed forerunners in 2020 and beyond to see the Great Commission fulfilled in our workplaces, families, and ministries. People who closely live and work with you, will notice the change. This is the time to see how seriously joyful Jesus is and that the Lion of Judah is roaring.  He’s looking for those who will run to Him and say, “Yes, I’m all in, let’s do this together!”  Don’t let anything stop who the Lord says you really are. Reclaim lost territory. Don’t shrink back. Those who are destined to follow you deserve the real you to arise.  Arise worshipers!  Spread the Good News…on the streets, in our cities, in every nation.  People will listen because “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” (John 4: 35). Get ready; Jesus is coming soon!