Banner of Love

Banner of Love

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.  (SOS 2:4 NKJV)

In the Bible, many times when the word banner is used, it is referring to a flag.  Armies carry flags and kingdoms display flags to identify and declare several things: 

  • The identity of the King who rules in a certain country and in whose name a particular army fights;
  • The identity of the kingdom to whom an army has pledged its loyalty and steadfastness;
  • The identity of the kingdom that has supplied (and will continue to supply) an army;
  • The identity of the King and the kingdom which will protect an army or a country.

In the instance of the verse shown at the top of this article, the word banner has additional implications to those mentioned above:

  1. The King signified by this banner is King Jesus (the King of Kings and Lord of Lords), who has established His banner, authority, and might in LOVE;
  2. The Kingdom that displays this banner of love not only supplies food, armaments, and other supplies but it also supplies grace to its army and to its people;
  3. This banner represents a Kingdom of loveliness, security, unity, and loyalty;
  4. One of the seven names of God, Jehovah Nissi, means “The Lord our Banner.” (Exodus 17:14-15) The Bible reminds us that God is love.  (1 Joh 4:8, 16b)  Praise the Lord that His banner over us is love!

In John Gill’s Exposition on Song of Solomon 2:4, he says:  “ . . . the covenant of grace and the Scriptures of truth may be thought of as a banqueting house, well stored with blessings, and promises, and rich provisions; which, to be led and let into, is a singular kindness . . .”

As the children of God, we are a blessed people and I recommend thinking about this at length. 

Predicted Perilous Times

Predicted Perilous Times

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come . . .  (2 Tim 3:1)

For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!  (2 Tim 3:2-5)

Many of you already know that the Bible repeatedly mentions the last days.  This is a term that typically is understood to refer to a period when historical events would reach a final climax.  Whether or not theologians disagree on the terminology, we can all agree that we are living in perilous times. The Scripture passage shown above in 2 Timothy 3:2-5 describes what types of behavior we would see in the last days

If we are very honest, we have to admit that yes, we do see all of these behaviors in evidence in our world today.  So how should we respond to our perilous times?

The Bible shows us the way:

  • Read the Bible. (Josh 1:8; Neh 8:3; Ro 10:17)
  • Obey the Bible. (Joh 14:23; Jas 1:22)
  • Understand that Christians will at some point or other suffer persecution. (Mk 10:30; 2 Tim 3:12)
  • Follow Christ’s example in all things. (Joh 13:13-16; Lk 9:23; 1 Cor 11:1)
  • Allow the Scriptures to read you, correct you, and to transform you. (Heb 4:12; 2 Tim 3:16-17; Rom 12:2)
  • Love your enemies; pray for those who hurt you or abuse you. (Lk 6:27-28)
  • Resist the devil. (Jas 4:7)

Let us be obedient to the Word of God, and followers of Jesus, our example.

Walk Circumspectly

Walk Circumspectly

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise . . . (Eph 5:15)

What does it mean to walk circumspectly?  Circumspectly means:  cautiously, warily, vigilantly, watchfully, guardedly, and with awareness. 

So about what should we be so cautious and wary?

  • Do not call upon other gods or let their names be heard on your lips. (Ex 23:13)
  • Be shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. (Mt 10:16)  Shrewd means wise.
  • Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. (1 Cor 14:20)
  • Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Phil 1:27)
  • Continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. (Col 1:9)
  • Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. (Col 4:5)
  • Walk worthy of your calling. (Eph 4:1)
  • Be a light in the world. (Mt 5:16)
  • Allow the love of God for you, and for mankind [collectively and individually] to guide your life.

It is by faith that we see spiritual realities (Heb 11:1); but if we’re too tied into earthly or material things, it can dim our spiritual vision. 

Allow your “spiritual spectacles” to stay firmly in place as you make every decision in your life, whether it’s a physical, financial, or relational matter with which you’re dealing.  Trust God to lead you and guide you, and to provide grace in every season, department, and sphere of your life. 

He has promised that He’ll never leave us.  (Heb 13:5)  He will never fail us!  (Ps 89:33; Zeph 3:5) 

Love never fails.  (1 Cor 13:8)

God Comforts the Disheartened

God Comforts the Disheartened

Our God cares deeply about each and every one of His children.  He cares about every facet of our health, and He ministers His love to us.  But how can we grab hold of His love?  How can we receive His help?

One way is to meditate upon His wonderful promises to us, so that we may come to know Him fully.  Here are a number of Bible passages that speak about how God demonstrates His love to us, especially when we’re downhearted or depressed. 

We need to use our faith in order to rest upon these promises.  Ask God to help you and to infuse you with fresh faith for the battle.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.  (Deut 31:8 NLT)  The Lord never leaves us—nor will He fail us.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.  (Ps 34:17 NKJV)  We need to KNOW that God not only hears our prayers, but responds to them.

I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.  He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.  He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God;
many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.
  (Ps 40:1-3 NKJV)  We do need, sometimes, to wait for the Lord’s solutions to materialize in the natural realm.  But this verse assures us that our deliverance shall come, and that it will motivate us to sing a new song!  And our deliverance shall be so mighty that everyone will notice it, and rejoice with us in the Lord!  Some people will even be fearful of the Lord, when they see what He has done.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?  Why have you become restless and disquieted within me?  Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.  (Ps 42:11 AMP)  This passage reminds us that we need patience, and that as we wait for God’s solution, we should praise the Him.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.  (1 Pet 5:6-7 RSV)  Throw all of your worries down at the feet of Jesus, and acknowledge that He loves you and is working on your behalf.  As we respectfully wait for God to lift us out of trouble (which is called humility), He loves the fact that we put our trust in Him at all times—despite what things may look like in the natural realm. 

 It’s impossible to please God without faith because the one who draws near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards people who try to find him.  (Heb 11:6 CEB)

Our faith tells God that we believe in Him, in His existence, in His promises, and His reliability.  Our faith pleases God, and He deeply rewards ALL those who find Him in the midst of life’s difficulties!

Being a Witness Where You Are

Being a Witness Where You Are

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  (Mk 16:15)

Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.  (Ps 96:3)

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.  (Mt 24:14)

The Bible tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that the Lord is not willing that any should perish.  Jesus obediently fulfilled His assignment to the fullest, and has purchased our salvation.  We are instructed by the Scriptures to share our Good News with others! 

We don’t need to embark on a mission field in some far-flung country to do this.  We’re called to be witnesses of God’s goodness right where we are!  We may do that in a variety of ways:  by serving our neighbors through acts of kindness and mercy; by being helpful and considerate; by sending a card, making a meal, or visiting someone who is not feeling well.  God has made us to be creative, and every individual can think of creative ways to be a light in this world—thereby bringing glory to God.

Sharing the Good News isn’t about preaching at someone or beating them over the head with verses from the Bible.  It’s not about condemnation, but love.  It’s about lovingly reaching out to those we know, and interacting with them in ways that are meaningful to them.  And while we’re doing that, we take opportunities to share our own life experiences with them.  We may quote a succinct Scripture to support a comment, or share a brief testimony of answered prayer.

Being an effective witness for the Kingdom of God means connecting with our friends and neighbors during good and bad times. (Eccl 3:4)  As a witness, we should also strive to be a good citizen and neighbor—a good example.  (2 Cor 5:20)  We need to speak from our hearts, and show respect and sympathy towards others.

Witnessing means being genuine with our friends and neighbors, and even admitting when we may be struggling with something.  (2 Tim 1:8)  As we are open with others and allow them to see God resolve our circumstances for us, our life becomes a window into how the Kingdom of God operates.  This style of candid testimony affirms our authenticity.  Other people can sense how deeply we honor Christ and value our relationship with Him as they see us trust Him to work out the difficulties that we encounter in life.  (1 Pet 3:15)

As we live this way, the Lord will faithfully open the ears, minds, and hearts of those with whom we interact.  He will allow others to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and His Spirit will then be able to move upon them to minister to them. 

All we need to understand is that the Lord will draw the unsaved to Himself through us—if we’ll cooperate with Him.  Praise God!

Not Perfection but Maturity

Not Perfection but Maturity

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God . . .   (Heb 6:1)

What does the author of Hebrews 6 want us to understand by the word “perfection” as used in this verse?  The Jamieson, Fausset & Brown (JFB) Commentary on Hebrews 6 says this about it: 

perfection–the matured knowledge of those who are “of full age” ( Heb 5:14 ) in Christian attainments.

In the JFB commentary, “full age” can be understood to mean mature.  Once a person is mature in Christian attainments, what does their life look like to others? 

  • This person is not easily swayed by false or erroneous doctrines; but it’s someone who ministers God’s love and mercy to others. (Eph 4:13-16)
  • Their relationship with the Lord remains steadfast, regardless of the current circumstances of their life. (Col 1:23)
  • A mature Christian doesn’t get anxious over things that they can’t control—especially about events reported in the news. (Ps 112:7)
  • He or she will not allow any circumstance of life to disrupt their faith in God nor their daily spiritual habits of quiet time with the Lord, prayer, and Bible reading. (Act 2:42)
  • They maintain their childlike sense of wonder and trust in God. (Mt 18:3)
  • A mature Christian does not compare themselves with others. (2 Cor 10:12)
  • This is a person who is rooted and grounded in love—the love of God for them and the love of God for other people. (Eph 3:17)

The verse at the top of this article (Heb 6:1) reminds each of us that the Lord doesn’t want us to remain stationary in our Christian walk but that we need to build upon the foundational principles of our faith and to grow in maturity in Christ Jesus.

Did Jesus Truly Show His Love?

Did Jesus Truly Show His Love?

Ponder this:  did Jesus truly show His love for mankind?  Do you have assurance of God the Father’s love for you?  Here are some Scriptures for you to consider:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

. . . nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:39, underscoring added)

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20)

All of these Bible verses talk about the love of God for us and the love of Jesus for us.  It is very easy to understand it through these passages.

Jesus, our Savior, demonstrated His great love for mankind and for His Father by offering His own life and blood in order to reconcile all of mankind to our Father God.   Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  (Joh 15:13)  Jesus absolutely loved us—He gave His life for us!

With this understanding of Jesus’ love, which is a reflection of God the Father’s love, I believe it should seem like a reasonable service for us to put God in first place in our lives.