How do you love Jesus?

Do you love Jesus? Do you love yourself?  Do you love yourself more than you love Jesus? What are you doing to strengthen your relationship with the One who sacrificed His life for yours?

For the majority of my life I longed to be accepted. I wanted to fit in. I was in deep pain for being seen as the odd ball. The queer one. I was hurt and angry and cried almost daily. To me, God didn’t seem to be acknowledging my pain and helping me to become “normal” and accepted like the other guys I went to school with. I suffered from constant teasing and harassment. 

I read bits and pieces of the Bible. I followed the Sabbath School lesson and, like a good Christian family, we had worship morning and evening. We continuously acknowledged God. I showed up every week at Sabbath School and church. And through it all--I was still miserable. What was missing?

What was to have been my part? Wasn’t Jesus to have simplified my life?

Through constant awareness of my abnormality, my trust in Jesus began to wane. I began to take matters into my own hands. Gradually, I no longer sensed my need of Him. I began to make decisions that took control and resulted in different degrees of pleasure and self-satisfaction, at least temporarily escaping my personal anguish and turmoil. Gradually, what seemed to be small deviances from God’s plan, actually were larger steps that were winning me over with Satan’s ever-so-slight deceptions.  I no longer evaluated whether or not my decisions were in alignment with God’s plan for His Word to me. I stopped consulting with Him. And gradually, He no longer occupied real estate in my life.  And as God is not a God of force, He honored every decision I made. He didn’t condone my decisions, but He respected my right to choose. He created us with that right. He won’t interfere with us —even when we are unwilling to be humble and listen for His still small voice. I was going to fix everything. I was going to find comfort in associating with people who were much like me and live in agreement with them. Millions of people have done the exact same thing. Races, belief systems, denominations, sexually-oriented people--they have all segregated themselves in order to be more content in life.  Are these segregations how God designed us to be? 

Essentially, over time I became my own God. If you’ve tried this for very long, you’re probably pretty familiar with the inability to make everything turn out just the way you want. We can be pretty successful for some fairly long stretches. Remember, deception has to be quite convincing for it to work.  But something always surfaces that reminds us of our finite minds and capabilities. As a non-believer we begin to rationalize our failures and the reason things might not be working out as we had planned. Only in humility and meekness do we begin to consider the absence of the presence of God in our lives and hopefully evaluate our need for Him. 

But God doesn’t want us to stop there.  This scenario has repeated itself in the lives of people over thousands of years. What exactly is God looking for?  What is he waiting for? Why are we still here? 

This reasoning isn’t rocket science. It’s pretty much stupidity. Oh what a patient God we have! He continues to wait for a group of people who will make Him King. If we know Him and understand His great love for us, why won’t we allow Him to be in charge of every decision we make? Of everything we do? Why won’t we trust His ways instead of managing everything ourselves? Why do we seek to invent our own truths?

God’s ways are not secret. If we love Him, why don’t we like His ways? How come we refuse to see that He wants the very best for us?  Why do we argue that we have a better way?  Isn’t this exactly what Lucifer did? We go out of our way to do things completely different from the way God has instructed, as though we know better or that God doesn’t seem to understand us. This has occurred over and over again, just as it began with Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Why are we so slow to believe in the justness, fairness, love and sovereignty of God?

Jesus has not given up on us. He loves us so much that He decided to come and walk this earth in human form, to set an example of how to live our lives. He pointed continually to His Father and His will. He dealt with the temptation to abort God’s plan over and over-- just as we are tempted.  He was tempted with food, with power and with defaulting on His plan to save us. He endured temptations far greater than we will encounter. In the midst of these intense temptations, He continually held out to the enemy of Heaven that “It is written.” This is the gold standard for all time and all people. It’s the victory and freedom that is ours to claim. Jesus purchased this just for us. We are promised that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We have assurance that choosing Him and His Word will never be a wrong decision. He will never let us down. He will never leave or forsake us. 

Yet even with these glorious promises we leave and forsake Him over and over again. We break His heart in our stubbornness to do things our way, neglecting and abandoning Him.

After years of stubbornness and self-direction, I looked to Jesus who was still holding out His original offer to me to seek Him first, and He would pour all the goods of Heaven on me. He is trustworthy and He is faithful. 

This in no way means that I will always have an easy road here on earth. But God is good. He desires to teach us. He wants us to come to trust in Him always. And so it is. At times things get rocky and tough to test our faith and our allegiance and belief in His goodness.

Lets’ be honest. Can we rewrite God’s Word and make allowances for homosexual behavior? Can we insinuate that we have somehow just misinterpreted His instruction to us?  Is it His perfect plan to have women performing the same duties as men under ordination, or are we seeking to make things equal without His clear guidance? Through social injustices toward gays and women, can’t we bring it into an equal rightness without having to consult God? And what will follow these issues?  Can’t we just continue to modernize God’s Word to accommodate whatever perplexes us?  Or is God actually asking us to turn to Him and His ways and honor His original plan, drawing closer to Him rather than pushing ourselves further from Him.  Is our self-pride rising up? Why are people living in “margins,” that people keep referring to today?  Have they become comfortable with compromising the truth of Jesus Christ and want us to compromise them as well?  Or are they reachable with the “love and truth” message of Jesus?

Dear fellow brother and sister. Now is the time to make your decision for the Author and Giver of life. Now is the time to reflect on the life of Christ. Jesus has claimed you. Won’t you claim Him? Stop looking to the opinions of those on the left and right.  Don’t concern yourself with being in agreement with them. Live in agreement with God and His Holy ways.

We are given “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” 2 Peter 1:4. Jesus has given us words to live by. 

God is not trying to trick us. If His Word tells us that something does not please Him, believe Him!  If homosexual unions are not His plan, don’t be tricked by your heart (Jeremiah 17:9). His ways are clear! Don’t try to reinvent what God has already perfected. Believe Him.  Surrender self and live for Him regardless of how your feelings are seeking to dictate your actions. Satan is the chief of deception by trying to persuade us through feelings.  Don’t allow him to master you. Temptation cannot overrule your right to choose. 

This is the example that Jesus set. Even in His hunger and thirst He possessed the power to provide for Himself, yet He relinquished that power and surrendered to the will of His Father. Following His example is what He is asking of you and me.  

Living under temptation is not a feel good experience. It is a refining experience.  It is the experience that fits and transforms us for Heaven. With a little self-exploration you might ask yourself why you are fighting for that which does not please Him. Why are you living in rebellion?

Jesus offers us refinement. Difficulty does not excite us. But by being confident in Him who has helped us develop our goals, we can be willing to endure. The strength of Jesus is available to all who are Heaven bound. 

What a blessing we have been given as Adventists by the words of the woman  whom God inspired. The Spirit of Prophecy has often been misused. But this does not alter the original helpful intent provided us. Enlightenment and hope are conveyed as a gift from God. No human mind without holy inspiration could have written volumes of clarity agreeing with God’s love letter to us. We are blessed. 

“Such will be the experience of God’s people in their final struggle with the powers of evil. God will test their faith, their perseverance, their confidence in His power to deliver them. Satan will endeavor to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless; that their sins have been too great to receive pardon. They will have a deep sense of their shortcomings, and as they review their lives their hopes will sink. But remembering the greatness of God's mercy and their own sincere repentance, they will plead His promises made through Christ to helpless, repenting sinners. Their faith will not fail because their prayers are not immediately answered. They will lay hold of the strength of God, as Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and the language of their souls will be, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me” (Patriarchs and Prophets, pg. 202).

“Yet Jacob’s history is an assurance that God will not cast off those who have been betrayed into sin, but who have returned unto Him with true repentance. It was by self-surrender and confiding faith that Jacob gained what he failed to gain by conflict in his own strength. God thus taught His servant that divine power and grace alone could give him the blessing he craved. Thus it will be with those who live in the last days. As dangers surround them, and despair seizes upon the soul, they must depend solely upon the merits of the atonement. We can do nothing of ourselves. In all our helpless unworthiness we must trust in the merits of the crucified and risen Savior. None will ever perish while they do this” (Patriarchs and Prophets, pg. 203).

I have lived pretty much all of my life following the desires of my heart. Jesus never stopped trying to reach me. One day I found myself listening to Him. Could I switch gears and let Him take control? 

Jeremiah 17:9 rings true. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

I challenge you to find a quiet retreat where just you and God speak to each other. Invite Him to search your heart. Listen to Him as He calls you to pick up your cross and follow Him. What is that cross?  Is it a cherished sin?  Is it an opinion you’ve not been willing to surrender?  Is it hanging on to your ways instead of choosing His?

My life today is about surrender. I choose Jesus over same-sex attraction. I am studying to develop and allow intimacy with Jesus to be my guide. Jesus overcame the world. I have entered full-time ministry to help others recognize what is possible through Jesus Christ. It is freedom from the bondage of this world.  If you are interested in a weekend seminar at your church or want to introduce Jesus and hope at your school or organization, please don’t hesitate to contact me through Know His Love Ministries. Know His Love Ministries is a 501c3 non-profit organization.

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