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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Just a note from 'my journey'! †`♪ღ♪ \o/

A few years ago I shared an  amazing journey with a friend. He was  born and bred in Israel and the nick name ‘prickly pear’ was well suited to him. He was tough and rough on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside.
Like many Israelis at that time he was travelling and looking for answers to life’s most common questions. “What is this all about?” and “what am I doing here”. (Google wasn’t invented yet LOL! Just joking!! ;))..
We travelled this journey together for a short time, both searching and looking.  We ended up in India in search of a famous sage who we believed held some of the answers of life’s secrets and the way out of the Matrix we knew we were in.
I remember the excitement that filled out hearts when we arrived in this ‘guru’s’ village and finally tracked him down!
We sat and must have looked quite a site with our  mouths stretched from one ear to another in smiles and ready to receive our ‘enlightenment’..
This guy asked the inevitable  ...”What are you doing here” (in his amazing Indian accent!!)
‘We are here to find ‘God’ ‘ was our heartfelt response..
The next thing that happened was a little overwhelming for both of us!
He started laughing! Yes, such a long, serious laugh!
My friend and I looked at each other, both thinking that this guy had lost the plot or that this was  what enlightenment looks like!
So when our sage pulled himself together, (our smile fairly shortened by now) he said to us.. “ So... God is not in Australia?...”
Okey, that took a minute or two to digest and we both walked out of there somewhat changed if not scarred for a while!
There are a lot more stories in between and lot more life was lived until I got to appreciate this guys response! Because when I began finding the answers to my lifelong questions ‘What is it all about and what am I doing here’,  I realised God was with us even that day! He was with us on our journey whilst searching for Him.  He was forever drawing us closer to Himself. 

Look at His amazing Word here is Psalm 139;
13 “For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvellous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

*”˜”*°•. ˜”*°•♥•°*”˜ .•°*”˜”*°•.
If you are on a journey of searching for truth, for the meaning of life or finding God the creator of our life and our universe and everything in it! I encourage to be bold for a moment and ask Him to reveal Himself to you! In Jeremiah 29:13 God says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart..”

I am so glad I kept asking and searching for truth, for God. I once was lost but now I am found!

I pray for my friend that he too has found the truth that His Saviour is willing to set him free!

  ♥ †`♪ღ♪ \o/ 

Monday, August 6, 2012

He is King!

†`♪ღ♪ \o/

“I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In loving kindness and mercy;
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the Lord. (
Hosea 2:19-20 )

As my heart hung low today because of some challenges,  I remembered this:
My Father God is LORD and KING  over all His creation! He is king over all the storms of life and all the chaos that goes on in this world!  He is in control and He is Love. And HE LOVES me!!!! And I know because the Bible tells me so!

His heart is full of love and compassion toward us. His desire is that all men will come to Him. His love draws them, His loving-kindness leads us to repentance. His loving-kindness is better than life!!

The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.” (
Zephaniah 3:17)

When we are  hurting, He is gentle and kind and forever present to  lift every burden off of our shoulders.
He is our gentle shepherd who is lowly and humble, and kind.
He desires us to come to Him with all of our burdens and lay them at His feet and to find rest with Him.. 

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
He wants us to go to Him so He can reveal His deep love and compassion to us. He endured the unimaginable on the Cross to reveal His love. The Lord longs for intimacy with us.. He wants us to make Him our FIRST LOVE..

At the cross you beckon me 
You draw me gently to my knees
I wholly surrender

You called me out of death
you called me into life

I am in awe of your faithfulness.
I am so many times lost for words as
I see Your heart for me upon the cross;

At the sight of your Face,
I fall to my knees....
and realize there is no place to hide from your GRACE.
LOVE........You accept me through and through.
Feeling so undeserving,
You draw me gently close to your side.
I am Lost in LOVE with YOU.....
Sweetly broken,
I wholly Your Loving Embrace.

You find me every time,
You press your hands gently up against mine.....
I come Face to face with GRACE ~
Looking into my eyes,
Nothing in between,
your breath gives me strength to arise.
We arise together,
Face to face,
Hand to hand,
I am breathed alive
by the strength of Your LOVE. ~
You called me out of death
You called me into LIFE.......

I awaken and arise
by the power of Your Love to live with

(poem inspired by Jeremy Riddle – Sweetly Broken)

I LOVE YOU Yeshua my King and Lord! 
†`♪ღ♪ \o/

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Draw me deeper! ❤

For the last three days it feels like I have been undergoing  a heart and soul transformation!!!  I have been powerfully sensing the Holy Spirit working from within this fragile temple.
It has caused me to cry, to laugh, to reflect, to repent and to desire more to draw deeper into my Father’s  arms. Somehow I have felt the Holy Spirit opening up areas in my heart that have been closed for a long time.

I think the tears have been coming from the parts within my soul that are being cleansed. It’s so true that we are each like an onion!  We have all these layers protecting our heart and each time we go deeper with God there is more peeling away of self.
When the Father peels, He also heals. 

I have purposed in my heart (many times!) that I want nothing less than to be and to stay on the narrow path. I want to hear my Father say to me one day, ‘well done good and faithful servant’.

This morning I was thinking about being a disciple, about ‘following’ Jesus, not just glancing at Him.  I was picturing what it was like when He walked the earth and asked His disciples to follow Him. In Matthew 9:9 we read: “Then as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me”. And he arose and followed Him.” ><((((º>

This call to Mathew and to the rest of the disciples I believe is the same call that He makes to everyone of us!  It’s a definite “call” though which cannot be manufactured or entertained in our own strength.  Understanding more fully what it means to follow Him is a challenging but worthwhile pursuit, and well worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears. 

When I first started my journey as a Christian I had to leave behind a way of life that I was very accustomed to. I was heavily involved in the New Age and all that’s involved in it. I just could not live that way anymore.

Through the years I found that there is a continual work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we call ‘sanctification’. Sometimes it’s tough because it calls us to die to self, change our way of thinking and to let go of pride, popularity, people and all kinds of stuff.  From my experience we all have a tendency to put walls or guards up around our heart, especially as a result of hurt or disappointment. For the past few days however. God in His infinite love has been exposing and dismantling some of these walls. † 

I needed to be honest with Him and to confess  that I had lost some of that spark, that excitement and anticipation of knowing and following Him. My first love was more like a second hand love for Him!
I then asked God to help me to love Him like He wants. I have learned one thing very well!  I can’t do anything in my own strength to please Him!!  It is only  total surrender to and reliance on God that can make Him smile.  The word ‘surrender’ can be a little scary and is never easy, but when we have a revelation of the nature and character of the One we are surrendering to it is more appealing than surrendering to the desires and cravings of pleasure.
It’s a moment by moment choice to ‘follow’ Him and to live by faith rather than feelings.
So if you find yourself on your knees asking Him to work in you and through you, I believe He will and He does.

I was reminded of this scripture in Ezekiel 36:26-27, 29 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses."

Notice how many times God says “I WILL”.  Thankfully, it’s not up to me to make this spiritual journey “work”.  Yes I need to co-operate with everything He tells me, but I am learning to wait for His instructions, His initiatives, His power before engaging in any spiritual battles. The good works that we do accomplish are meant to be the fruit of the Spirit working in and through our lives.  Perhaps it is the continual pruning in our lives and the gradual dying to self that determines if we truly belong to Him or are just playing games.
Lord, please help me be willing!

And a thought on finishing. In  Matthew 7:21-23 we read,
“Not everyone who says to Me “Lord, Lord”, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, ”I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” The phrase ‘I never knew you’ refers to a very close and intimate relationship as in marriage.

So the bottom line is - Let’s get intimate and stay intimate with the Lover of our soul!
Lord, draw us deeper!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

HE is not here!!

God seems to pour out revival throughout generation to generation…

Dear God don’t forget about us!!!!
We are a chosen generation – the Bible does not say we are the left out generation.
Joel said in the last days a revival would happen.

That came to pass in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost when Peter stood up after the Spirit had been poured out.
I believe that we may not see a world wide revival unless we first see our own personal revivals as individuals.
There seems to me  no way we will see the body of Christ revived and the world coming to Jesus unless we first as individuals have our own personal revival.

In Matthew 28:1-8.. Please read this story!

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdelene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.
And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow;
And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
And the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.
“And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.

The greatest tragedy happened just a few days ago. The Messiah, the one whom they thought would bring freedom, had been crucified on a cross.
The followers of Jesus were heartbroken, their souls were shattered and we see several despairing followers of Jesus going to visit Jesus in a dead tomb.
Depressed, downcast because their savior had died – they were coming to visit the tomb but suddenly there was a great earthquake.
The angel sat on the stone.
His face was as lightning; his clothing was as white as snow.

The women run from that place to spread the news of the resurrected savior.

If we approach Jesus like these women did, we are not going to find Him.

They were expecting a dead experience, looking for a lifeless Jesus – a lifeless experience.

Behold our Redeemer lives.
If our life experience feels dead, it is because we are looking in all the wrong places.
If it is dry, unexciting, unadventurous and it is just depressing, and it’s a chore in going to bible study and having devotions and talking to the Lord is just a ‘check off the list’  - it is because we are looking for Jesus in all the wrong places.

Job got it right – He said, Behold my redeemer lives!

Many Christians can be scholars of the Bible, but never know the Word.

John 1: says that Jesus Christ is the Word of God.

A lot of people know Jesus as a character on the pages of a dead book, written by dead authors thousands of years ago.

To truly experience the relationship that God intended us  to have with His Son, we can’t just know Jesus from reading the pages of a book – we have to know a living, breathing Savior who is alive and well and with us here NOW!

David said in Psalms 16:11
"Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fullness of joy;
In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever."

There is a little secret that the world does not quite understand.
That is, we can experience real pleasure.
Christianity is not about denying pleasure,
It is about denying counterfeit pleasure – which is temporary.
David said God’s pleasures are at His right hand that last forever.

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.”

Where are you?

A Prophet who was able to summon fire from heaven because he had faith in prayer.

A man who was a little bit rebellious but hung out in a hotel that was a little hot – his hotel was the belly of a fish for three nights.

A child who was able to slay a giant.

Of a leader, who was able to divide an ocean.

Of a God who died for His creation then rose again to reconcile them to Himself.
Where are the Abrahams who will cling to the promises of God even if circumstances tell you that the promises of God are crazy.

Where are the David’s who will worship God with such passion that they wont even care about what anyone else might say and their worship will shake the very foundations oh heaven.

Where are the Josephs in our generation who will hold to the path of purity even if no one else is – even if the path of purity leads to suffering.

Where are the John the Baptists who will warn the lost of the everlasting flames.

Where are the Jeremiahs who will warn this generation about the wrath of God even though false prophets might be declaring peace, peace, because that is what people want to hear.

Where are the bold prophets who will be raised up in this generation.

Where are the Elijah’s who will pray with such passion and such belief and such faith as to truly expect results to come from Heaven as if it were fire coming down from Heaven itself.

Where are the Shadrack, the Meshack  and the Abendigo’s who will cherish the loyalty to God more dearly than they cherish life itself.

Where are the Shadrack’s who will say, ‘Lord I esteem my relationship with You higher than my life and if I have to go to the fire of persecution then so be it because I want to be loyal to You.’

Dear LORD… We need a God given Revival! \o/

Friday, February 10, 2012

A fresh look at AFFLICTION!

I was reading this morning Pauls letter to the Thessalonians.. In chapter 3:3 “That no man should be moved by these 
afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto..”
My attention zoomed on two words here.. afflictions and appointed!
It got me thinking about afflictions and why must we have to have them!? 
Personally, affliction causes me  to draw closer to God. I think the weaker we are the more we rely on HIM.. When I’m afflicted I cry out more, I  pray more , I become desperate to hear from God and so I set out to seek His face like never before! I pay more  attention to everything that might help me!

I believe when we are going through a hard time, God wants to reveal Christ to us (and reveal Christ through us too..) He wants to give us a revelation that can only come through experience as we walk closely with Him!


Reminds me of the  apostle Paul when he  cried out 3 times for God to remove the ‘thorn in his flesh’ in 2 Corinthians 12 he says:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me....That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong....”
I find these are amazing powerful words.. (This puts a big question mark on all those prosperity teachings!!) In our weakness, in our affliction God’s power rests upon us?! What was Paul saying.. Delights in affliction! I guess this is what he is saying if I am reading it right!
2 Corinthians 4:17 goes on to say For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory..”  So even a light affliction carries the same promise, an ‘eternal weight of glory!’
I long for a deeper revelation of God’s character..
When we are prospering we are most likely to forget about God. It’s in our affliction that we grow depth of character and we mature in Christ..
But how? Well I believe that affliction produces patience.. James says in 1:3 ‘testing of our faith’.. the opposite to patience is wanting everything and anything now.. we can get so stressed and filled with anxiety when we don’t’ have patience.. Patience is the cure for instant gratification..Most people are unable to delay their own gratification.. 
If we learn patience life is better.. we are less stressed!
I think also affliction helps us to PAY ATTENTION!!  In our prosperity we can get too confident.. It happened to King David in Psalm 30:6  we read, “When I felt secure, I said, "I will never be shaken."
We can stop paying attention to spiritual things and start to care more about material things.. This happens sometime and before we  know it we are spending  every moment  pursuing money or a nice body, or whatever!... It’s such a trap! A millionaire or a top athlete will tell you they can’t get peace from their achievements!
 So I think afflictions gets us to Pay Attention..

David understood this too! He declares in Psalm 119:67 “ Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept your word...”  What happened to David! Yes, he was afflicted and later on he proclaims that ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn your statutes.. Psalm 119:71! He saw that affliction was good and necessary!

When we are under the pressure of affliction we somehow get driven to read the Word, pray, press into God’s presence..

Again, affliction strengthens the inner man! In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 it says:   “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal..” And we read in  John 3:30 -  “He must increase, but I must decrease.”


It’s saying here that the inner man is being renewed, day by day through our light affliction working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!!  Our inner man is becoming strong while the outward is perishing! 
Are we as passionate about the inner man as we are the outward! I pray our attention will be on what is eternal.. Let’s not lose heart! Remember our afflictions are light but have a ‘far greater eternal weight of glory’. Not equal but far more!
The outward is perishing.. Nothing we can do about that! It’s terrible! It’s painful! But it’s so good to know that our inner man is being renewed day by day.. Our first hand experience with  the Lord is far greater than what I am losing in the outward man! Amen!
I think too often we look and spend a lot of time trying to get the outward man stronger! He must get weaker and weaker! It is the circle of life! And yet we spend way too much on clothing, getting healed, feeling good, enjoying life! When it’s all about the  INWARD MAN!
 I am not saying either to ignore our physical body! I am all for taking care of His Holy temple! But to be mindful that the outer is  perishing and the inner one is eternal..

It’s amazing really! The more we go through, the stronger we become.. Exactly what it means to be an overcomer! 
It’s important to remind ourselves here that we cannot do this in our own strength! But it’s a moment by moment yielding,  a total surrender of our will and our submission to Christ!
So don’t’ lose heart! Don’t give up in pressing into God to entering His rest!
Another thing affliction teachers us is to have contentment. People don’t’ know how to have this..  We get upset, moody impatient disappointed, we are not thankful... Counting our blessings needs to be learned! Look at how Paul learned this! Philippians 4:11 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Paul learned these things in the depth of his afflictions.. He didn’t read someone’s health book or find the answers on Google!! You just can’t learn these things by reading someone’s book or even reading the scriptures.. But as we walk through life in abundance and in poverty, in good times and bad times, full and hungry..
The depth of wisdom comes from experience. Experience teachers us deeper truths of God that we cannot get by doing a bible study.. Studying the Word is good to encourage us, to strengthen our faith and this is good, and I love them! But when we are confronted with real people, real problems, theories don’t work very well!! Learning cannot be purchased.. It needs to be experienced.
Affliction also encourages revelation! Prosperity doesn’t! Affliction does!!

Let’s look at Job. Now this man  had an extraordinary difficult tribulation and affliction.. at the end of it he said this.. Job 42:1,6 Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do all things;  no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’  Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,  things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;   I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 
My ears had heard of you  but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself 
and repent in dust and ashes.”
When God purposes something, He will finish it!  He can do all things! And like Job, we want to be able to say,  “but now my eyes have SEEN you..”
Affliction gives meaning to what we go through; we learn things about ourselves and about God that we cannot learn anywhere else!
The ideal state of mind is to be "Stirred, not shaken" by our afflictions.  This means to me that when hard times come, it stirs us to seek the Lord, but we are otherwise unruffled, unmoved, and unshaken - no matter what.

Well, the world doesn't have a clue how to be that way.

But as Christians, we have something the world doesn't have. We have the Holy Spirit indwelling in our heart to help us overcome the world!

So back to the letter to Thessalonians, Paul is telling them to have a good attitude so as not to lose their faith in the Lord and fall away!
I think that when difficulties come and we don’t have a godly perspective on why we have afflictions we are likely to get upset and disillusioned and even depressed..  Sometimes we like to live in bubble and not have to go through the hard stuff.. Sometimes death to self seems impossible and it’s just too hard! So when something happens to us or in our marriage, we get so discouraged! So shaken! And we can often make the wrong choices!
Yet, affliction is part of living!
We need to accept affliction!  To fight against it will cause us to resentful and harden our hearts.
The Bible says to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus - spiritual warfare is  very real.. and it’s hard on the flesh and the spirit and the soul.. so let us endure and be strong in the  power of His might ..
Clothe your self in armour of God and stand .. Ephesians 6

Be of good cheer!! It’s all about our response.. Testing will come whether we  agree with this or not! We are promised this! In 2 Corinthians 4:8-11 we read, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body..” Wow! What a promise! 


 In the middle of all this we can be of good cheer.. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation …But Be of Good Cheer; I Have Overcome the World”

Remember to stand fast!! Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”


Stand fast, hold on to Jesus! Not coming under the yoke of religion or traditions of men but the living Word, Jesus Christ!

Enduring, Accepting, Stirred and not shaken!
Pray !
Pray that the love of the saints will not grow cold!
Look at the last couple of verses in this chapter 3 in 1 Thessalonians.. v12 “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: v13 To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

Stand! Rest in Him! Fight the good fight!

Mary J

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Do we love or tolerate?

As I was reading Philemon, this scripture stood out to me.. Paul is writing,  “I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. Philemon 1:12

In particular these 3 words.... ‘my VERY HEART!”

Here Paul is ‘appealing’ to Philemon, and the "him" refers to Onesimus who was formely Philemon’s servant who is believed to have stolen from him but upon encountering Paul and accepting God’s gift of salvation is a ‘new creation’.. or better put by Paul in verse 11. “Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

I wonder if we are the kind of people who have bought into the religion of the day, i.e. "tolerance", or if we have the biblical understanding of "love." Now certainly the Bible teaches "tolerance" in certain instances, but far more than simply "tolerating" those with different beliefs we are to "love" them.
 If I merely tolerate you then you do not sense that I love you, desire the best for you, would be eager to help you in times of difficulty, etc., but rather that I merely don't wish you any harm and will "put up with" you while we have to be around each other.

Also, I wonder if we are the kind of people who love repenting sinners, or if we merely accept them as possibly being Christians, but somewhere down deep we feel that, because of their past, they are somehow second-class Christians.
We note the response of the prodigal son's older brother, when the prodigal came to his senses and turned away from his sinful living and came home. The older brother's response was one of toleration. He accepted his younger brother, barely, but certainly did not evidence love for him.

25 "Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.' 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, 'Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!'" Luke 15:25-30

I notice that the older brother depicted his own life as that of obedience, in contrast to the younger brother's sin and rebellion.. He also made reference to the past of the younger brother, plus he refused to celebrate the return of the younger brother. These are all characteristics of those who are self-righteous and hypocritical.

We see this same attitude displayed in the Pharisee who was praying in the Temple:
11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus:"God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get." Luke 18:11-12

Are we like that? Or are we like the Apostle Paul who, when seeing the work of God's grace in turning Onesimus away from his sin and rebellion, truly loved him from his heart. We see the display of Paul's love for Onesimus in his  willingness to write a letter of recommendation for him and his desire to repay the debt of Onesimus, and  the affection Paul used for Onesimus ("son", "beloved brother", "my very heart"). Paul did not merely "tolerate" Onesimus, nor did he half-way "accept" him; oh no, he dearly loved him and made his love quite open and known to others.

If we have "older brother syndrome" it is because we do not see the depravity of our own heart. Do we think, somehow, that we don't fit into verses like these:

10 as it is written:
"None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one."
13 "Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive."
"The venom of asps is under their lips."
14 "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known."
18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Romans 3:10-18

While some people have not chosen to be morally impure through sexual impurity, drunkenness, drug usage, etc., and there is indeed much value in that. However, when examining the flesh of all mankind we see that there are not two kinds of flesh. There is no such thing as "depraved flesh" and "good, kind, and upstanding flesh." All flesh is the same. The hearts of mankind are identical by birth - hard, uncaring, cold, and dead. You and I are identically like the prostitute, the drunkard, the drug addict and the gambler. Maybe we have not become ensnared in these sins, but our hearts are the same and our nature is the same unless God changes it by His amazing grace.
And if He does change our hearts, one way the change will evidence itself is in our loving others. When we see a sinner who turns away from his or her sin, we rejoice in our hearts and praise the God of grace Who likewise changed our own hearts. When we are around the one given grace, we delight in hearing his or her story of how God saved them from a life of sin, turned their hearts away from their rebellion, and brought them to the Lord Jesus. We don't even consider their pasts in a negative light, but instead we understand that God uses all things to bring glory to Himself and to do good to those who are chosen and called to Him (Romans 8:28).
We do not think ourselves better than anyone, we do not compare ourselves in a favourable light to anyone, nor do we at all remind them of their past (which can be so wounding to the sinner who is keenly aware of his error). No, instead we love them, embrace them, seek to encourage their growth in the Lord, accept them fully, and never bring up their past.

I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. Philemon 1:12

Onesimus was Paul's "very heart." In other words, Paul loved Onesimus. His heart beat with love for that man who had rebelled and repented, who had now become a beloved brother in the family of God, and who was now useful to all. May we love LIKE THAT. May we love LIKE PAUL. Paul, who pointed Onesimus to the forgiveness available in Jesus Christ, Paul who exhorted Onesimus to repent of his sin, Paul who went before Onesimus in preparing for Onesimus' return to his master, Paul who did not merely "tolerate" but who loved. THAT is how we are to love.

"Oh God, please send us someone today who has sinned against light and knowledge, who has spurned your grace and defied your sovereignty and Lordship, please send us that one who has so rebelled against you that he or she does not feel worthy to be called your son or daughter, nor does he or she fully understand all your grace for him or her. And then, oh Lord, please enable us to love him or her, with a godly love, with the same love Paul had for Onesimus, with the same love with which you have loved me and forgiven all my sins.
 In Yeshua’s Name, amen!"