“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”Proverbs 15:1

There’s a whole lot of bitterness and anger, sarcasm, and spiteful speaking in the world today. Mask or don’t mask. Vax or don’t vax. Guns or no guns. Illegal aliens or migrants. Woke or not woke. Two sexes or multiple sexes. One God, or no god. Stand for the flag or kneel. Freedom or submission.

I don’t mask. I’m not anti-vaccine in general, but I choose not to get the covid vax. I believe strongly in the First and Second Amendments, and I think that every American should be trained in handling firearms. I am not Woke. Life begins at conception, and abortion is murder. If someone wants to come to the United States, they should come through legal channels – otherwise, they should be sent back. I believe that God created man and woman. Period. I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus died for me. I proudly stand for the flag, and in the (famous) words of my ancestor, “Give me Liberty or give me death.”

I try really hard to be respectful of other people. It can be difficult, especially when they are disrespectful of the things, and the people, I hold dear to my heart. It’s really hard when they disrespect my Saviour. The following is from my devotional today, and it struck me right where it needed to: in my heart.

Words can be used in many ways. They can be meaningful and healing, offer optimism and encouragement to someone in despair, and resolve disputes. A kind, compassionate, thoughtful, or caring word can calm troubled waters, give hope to the hopeless, heal a broken heart, and be a light to those around us. However, hateful, cruel, harsh, or careless words can be used to wound, discourage, or create disagreements by being a disgusting odor that echoes what is in our minds while stirring up strife. When someone provokes anger, their words feel like a sharp knife that leads to pain, and even in some cases, revenge. When you provoke someone to anger with words or actions, at that moment, you are unconcerned with their well-being, the condition of your soul, or the glory of the Kingdom of God. If you love God, why would you want to provoke anger in someone who is also made in His image? Those who love God are careful of their words, so their tongue does not lead to sin by provoking others to anger (Psalm 39:1). 

“Let Love Turn Us Away from Our Wicked Ways” 
By: Dante Bowe & Andrea Fisher

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:31‭-‬32 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/eph.4.31-32.NASB1995

LORD, help me today, tomorrow, and each subsequent day to put all the bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander in this world away from me, along with all malice. Help me, LORD, to be kind to others, tender-hearted and forgiving, especially to those who try to get under my skin and trigger me, just as You have forgiven me. Amen.

Deceived

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” Colossians 2:8‭-‬10 NASB1995

“Temper tantrums, harsh and unkind words, hatred and obscenities have no place in the Christian life. This isn’t about developing some public spotless image, but about deep change in my friendships, family, marriage and dealings with people in the workplace. The new self produces new words and new relationships. Sometimes we’re so eager to get our way that we can compromise honesty and openness. In those moments, though, we’re starting to live outside of Christ and we’re undoing what God has done amongst us.” (from Andy Mason’s Colossians Alive in Christ devotional)

“But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—” Colossians 3:8‭-‬10 NASB1995

It’s too easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of a charismatic man or woman. In churches and in politics, there are many who have no problem saying whatever they think will advance them the furthest. Acquiring money or followers, they use deceptive to pull us in. They don’t care about telling lies if it gets them what they want. You wants and needs don’t figure in to their plans – but they use our problems as props to get the things they want.

As followers of the Way, Christ followers, lovers of the Truth and the Word, we have to be particular and discerning in who we listen to and what we choose to believe. No one is perfect in this world; I think Paul is quite clear about that. The thing that differentiates you and me from the world is twofold. First, and foremost, as flawed and imperfect as we are, we are forgiven, washed clean, and we are new beings in Christ. Second, as new beings, it is critical that we put on that new self and test everything before blindly following someone because they say the “right” things.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1 NASB1995

“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21‭-‬22 NASB1995

Don’t be deceived, friends. Test everything and everyone against the Scriptures. If you checking them causes them to be angry or upset, that’s a good sign that perhaps they aren’t the one you should be listening to. Remember that no one is perfect, and we are not put here to judge people. We are here to pray for them and encourage them, and to tell them about Jesus – the Way, the Truth, and the Light. In the words of Paul:

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. Brethren, pray for us . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23‭-‬25‭, ‬28 NASB1995

AMEN.

When I Cry

“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalms 34:15‭-‬18 NASB1995

I’ve done a lot of that in my life. Crying, I mean. Not as a righteousness person, either. Although I grew up in the church, when I left home for college it only took a few months for the enemy to seduce me away from God. Boys (because they certainly weren’t mature enough to be called men), recreational drugs, alcohol, the thrill of being kissed and touched and told how beautiful I was…. I would go home, back to my parents house, for breaks and pretend nothing had changed with me. Reflecting on that time, I’m sure the only one I was fooling was myself. After just 2 years, I left school and married the man of my dreams. It quickly became more of a nightmare than a dream.

A miserable pregnancy, an unfaithful, abusive husband, and I was still pretending to the world and my parents that life was good. The facade was thin, and I think more people saw through it than believed it, but I wasn’t giving up. Pull yourself up, girl! Stand by your husband, submit to your man, and keep up appearances. I couldn’t allow my parents, let alone God, to know how badly I had fallen, so I stayed, the great pretender. As the abuse became more severe, I became more angry and belligerent, especially towards God. How could He allow this to happen? So I turned further away from Him. He didn’t reach down and fix my life, so I rejected Him. But I still pretended to my family.

After eight miserable years, I divorced him and gave up my daughter to a family member. Anything to keep him from having custody. It was like tearing out my heart, but I knew it was the best thing for her. My life didn’t get better. It seemed that I was destined to stay with abusers. The enemy led me to another one. I was mesmerised; in a trancelike state for months, subject to his ….. what? Desires, whims, abuses? I can’t describe what happened, because it was like a dream, or more like a nightmare, that I couldn’t escape from. Ironically, it was my abusive husband who rescued me from that situation.

Was life with him different than before? Not really, but it was better than the nightmare I had been in. For years, I moved from man to man, looking for my Knight in Shining Armor, my Saviour. I lived in a homeless, hopeless state. For a period of time, with my third husband, life improved greatly. Together, we became active in church, putting God in a prominent place in our lives. I’ll tell you now that it’s critical to put God in a prominent place, but unless He is FIRST, it won’t last. It was good, until the enemy got a toe hold into our lives, and pulled my husband away from God and from me.

After that, I spiraled. It wasn’t pretty. Outwardly I looked like I had it together, but inwardly I was angry at God and refused to let Him have my heart. That’s a dark spot. I allowed abusive men back into my life, and several years passed as I pretended to be a Christian but couldn’t allow God to have control. I was going to do it myself. God got my attention. Husband five was my breaking point; my “bottom”. I took him to a Christ-centered 12 step recovery program so that he could get his act together (because there was nothing wrong with me. Ha!).

God has a sense of humor. The husband left, rejecting the program, God, and me. I stayed in the program. Funny thing, my biggest lesson was that I wasn’t so perfect after all!

Life is full of the good, the bad, and plenty of the ugly for all of us. It isn’t easy for anyone, even our children. That’s just a fact. Rich, poor, any shade of color, every continent, every nation. Life is hard. So why bother with living? Because God gave us life through His Son Jesus! Because of Jesus, I can face all the ugly in my life. Because of Him, I can face today. Every. Single. Day. Living with Jesus, and putting Him first means that I am never alone, and it means that when I can’t take the next step, He will hold me and carry me through it.

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12 NASB1995

Are You Watching The News?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31‭-‬32 NASB1995

Lying politicians. Blatant discrimination. Pornography on primetime TV. Government consumed with elitism. Families divided, fatherless children, abused children. Attack after attack on Christian values, in person, on the radio, on social media, on television talk shows and sitcoms and ‘regular’ programming; everywhere, anywhere, you look. Even from the pulpit.

Is there any common sense left in our country, or in the world?

I attempted to open an online conversation with a professing Christian, who is in fact a church leader, after he came out in favor of abortion. I say attempted, because he, and several other people, refused to hear anything against their beliefs that it should be legal and completely up to the woman. But, what about the baby, I asked? Apparently, there is no “baby” until it can survive on it’s own, so at least 6 to 7 months after conception. It’s a “foetus”. Instead of arguing, I bowed out of the conversation. There is ample evidence available about babies in the womb, but there is no point in arguing with people who are entrenched in their beliefs. That said, I admit that I’m pretty entrenched in my beliefs…. but I try really hard to base them in the Scriptures, without picking and choosing. Am I always right? Not at all!

I’ve come to realize this: people believe what they want to believe, and most will take the most comfortable view. I found this prayer in the devotional Good Morning Easter Devotional, by Compassion. It really touched my heart.

Lord, thank You we can have hope in every situation because You are always faithful. I bring You all the situations in my life that are challenging and the prayers that are yet to be answered. I ask that You renew my hope. Please help me to keep bringing good news, to carry your peace and declare that You reign in every season of my life. Amen.

“How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7 NASB1995

Last Hour

“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior…”

1 Timothy 2:1‭-‬3 NASB

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is Righteous, you know that everyone also who practices Righteousness is born of Him.”

1 John 2:18‭-‬23‭, ‬28‭-‬29 NASB

WOAH. Last days? Antichrist?? Last hour?? Am I a Bible thumping, stand on the street corner, wear a placard to announce “The World is Ending!”…… Chicken Little? You know who Chicken Little is, right? In case you are unfamiliar, Wikipedia ststes “it’s a European folktale known in Europe as Henny Penny. It is a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase “The sky is falling!” features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.”

John is not crying out “The sky is falling!” but he is warning us that it could, at any moment, in the form of our Saviour returning for us. He doesn’t mean for us to run around like Chicken Little, screeching that the world is ending. He warns us to be aware of who it is that we are following. If they do not embrace Jesus, the Son of God, then we are to reject following that person. It’s difficult, at times, to know what to believe, or rather, what someone else believes. As Christians, it is up to us to make sure that those around us understand how critical it is to test those leaders, and ensure that those leaders confess the Son as the Christ. Words alone don’t cut it. We have to look at actions. My Dad used to say, “It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.” Truth. It is our job to pray for our leaders with entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority.

We are in the last days; approaching the last hour. Are you ready to face your LORD and your GOD?

I Am Strong

From God’s Not Done With You, a devotional by Tauren Wells, on http://www.Bible.com:

“When we admit that we are prone to failure, that our strengths aren’t strong enough to save us, we find the power to live righteously through Christ….. When sin affects our opportunities to use our strengths, a perfect situation can become a perfectly wrong situation.”

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12‭-‬13 NASB

Did that hit you like it did me? It’s when I stand on my strength, and rely on my abilities, that I fall. It’s that old “I can do it” attitude. When I rely on me, I fail. I’m a “fix-it” person. If there’s a problem, let’s fix it. Don’t wait, don’t take time to pray about it, just get it done. I’ll do it if it kills me.

Sound familiar?

I’ve known so many people with that attitude. Then there’s the opposite: those who sit back and do nothing, expecting God (or man) to step in and take care of the problem with no effort from them.

In my opinion, both attitudes are equally wrong. The Bible doesn’t say that God takes care of those who take care of themselves. It also doesn’t say to be lazy and expect others to take care of you. God gives us our strengths, our talents, to use in conjunction with Him and His Will. Do I do that? Unfortunately, no, not like I should. Sometimes I’m determined to do whatever it is on my own. No help. Other times, I give up, and want someone to to do it for me. I’ve turned many opportunities into disasters with these attitudes. Even Peter, the Rock, loved by Jesus, fell when he tried to stand on his strength over the Lord’s.

“And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75 NASB

We need to weep for the many times we have denied Christ by trying to stand on our strengths rather than His. I weep for all those times, past, present, and future that I stand on my own. I’m human, I will continue to fail, but I am also a child of the King, forgiven for my failure.

Lord God, help me get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’ that I can stand without You; help me to take heed of Your Will so that I will not fall. I know that no temptation has ever overtaken me, or will ever overtake me, but such as is common to man; and I know that You are faithful. You will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able as long as I depend upon You, and with the temptation, You will provide the way of escape also, so that I will be able to endure it. Amen.

Raw Honesty

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NASB

Rest in the LORD. That’s where I need to be.

“When we get injured, God covers us. Stop picking at that scab.” Wow. A lady just called in to K Love (radio) and said that. My heart feels like one giant, deep, open raw wound, where I don’t even have enough scab to pick at. God covers that hurt, and every hurt, no matter how big or how deep. I get that. I believe that. But, oh, how it hurts. How did I get into such a bad financial situation? How is it even possible for my heart to hurt this much?

Easy. My choices. My decisions. Not waiting on and relying on and trusting my LORD. Instead, I trusted and relied on a man, and he is leaving it to me to resolve. My heart doesn’t want to give up. My head hopes he will step up. I want him to. Trust is fragile anytime, and mine has been trampled on.

Please pray for me. This time, for this situation, is beyond anything I can see a solution for. It is going to take a miracle, a bonafide, God-generated miracle to heal my heart and this hole I have dug myself into.

Raw honesty. Hard to write. Hard to admit.

I Hate Her / Him

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:22‭-‬24 NASB

“The life we live today will determine the life we will live for eternity.” Mark Hitchcock (Pastor, Faith Bible Church, Edmond OK)

Think about that for a minute. If I spend my time, my life, on earth holding a grudge against someone, hating them, how will that affect my eternal life? I know it can’t hurt my salvation, because that comes solely through God’s Mercy and Grace in Jesus Christ. It can, however, affect my eternal life.

Every person who has accepted Christ as their Saviour enters into an undeniable, unbreakage relationship with the Creator Father. We are saved from damnation with the enemy for all of the ages. That is indisputable. The question of all time is what will it be like, and how will we be when we get to that glorious place called heaven? Does how we live on earth affect our lives in heaven? The Apostle Paul thinks it will:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 9:24‭-‬25 NASB

“….. for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NASB

We are striving for an imperishable wreath, or crown, in our lives. One that will be rewarded to us at the Bema Seat when we first see Jesus, and that will stay with us throughout eternity. Those people I want to hate because of their actions – is it worth it to lose out in my relationship with Jesus Christ? Is it worth losing out on the rewards He wants to give me? Turn them over to Jesus. Lay them at His Feet. Let Him deal with their lies, betrayals, ugliness. I don’t need that trash cluttering up either this life, or the next!

Willful Disobedience

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of Grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine , I will repay.” And again, “the LORD will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:26‭-‬31 NASB

We can know the truth, but sometimes in the moment (oftentimes?) the reality is that we think we know better and that what we are doing isn’t really a sin. Anytime – any time – we are willfully disobedient we sin. Did that strike a nerve? It did with me. I sin many times daily, but I don’t (usually!) consciously choose to do so. If I know the risk, and do it anyway, is that being willfully disobedient? If I choose badly, no, when I choose badly, especially in big decisions, my body immediately tells me. My stomach clenches. I get crazy butterflies….. or an angry swarm of bees….. in my gut. An indescribable ache starts up betweenmy eyes. Then when the error manifests itself and becomes obvious, my heart drops and fear tries to overtake me.

My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your Love….. I could listen to this, and sing along with Josh Baldwin, all day, but right now, my heart is on the floor, and Mercy Me’s lyrics to Even If resonant within me.
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

It is well with my soul. I know it, but I can’t feel it. I know to let God lead. His hands are holding me, no matter what. I know this, but right now I don’t feel it, and that’s on me. All He can do is offer. It’s up to me to accept His help. Amen.