In My Defense

“GOD Blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the Crown of LIFE that GOD has promised to those who love Him.“- James 1:12 NLT (Note that it does NOT say “GOD helps those who help themselves.”)

Even though James thought he was writing to his contemporaries; fellow Jews who had been scattered throughout the known world, GOD’s message for him was to be sent through the ages. What James says looks eerily like it was written specifically for us today. For a person of true integrity, when he or she stands before the Great White Throne, waiting to be judged by Almighty GOD, there shouldn’t be many secrets hiding in their heart’s ‘closet’….. However, the outwardly righteous man, or the public presentation of integrity by a woman, could very well be hiding a closet stuffed to bursting with things that are secret and that they don’t want to reveal in the perfect Light coming from the throne. GOD sees past the facade we put up to fool other humans – and it is never a pretty sight.

Integrity defined: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness; the state of being whole and undivided.” – from Google Dictionary

Jesus warns His followers, then and now:

“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the LIGHT, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you Whom to fear. Fear GOD, Who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.” – Luke 12:2‭-‬5 NLT

Remember the story of David and Bathsheba? This man, who has been declared to be a ‘man of GOD’s own heart’, was an adulterer and he had her husband murdered in order to cover his transgression. A ‘man of GOD’s own heart’, who tried to cover his secrets and hide them from the ALMIGHTY, ALL-SEEING GOD. Do you recall how well his secrets remained hidden? Not long. Days, weeks, maybe a few months, but it all came to the light – and the consequence of those sins was that their son, their firstborn, died.

“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.” – Luke 12:2 NLT

Could our LORD make it any more clear? Whatever the secret, it will be brought out into the Light. Now is the time to open your heart’s door and allow the HOLY SPIRIT clean out the cobwebs; to open all of those secret places in your mind so that He can do a thorough cleaning. He wants us to be sparkling clean when we stand in front of the Judge, but He will not force us to unlock all those doors. The more you keep them closed up and locked up, JESUS’s death and resurrection can’t completely cover our secret sins.

Are you holding them closed and living your life looking back at them, so you won’t ‘forget’ how bad it/you were? GOD is a gentleman and won’t force us to open the door(s) in this life – but ultimately, when we stand in the box to be judged, those locks will pop open and everything will be revealed. Won’t it be good to not have any secrets to bring to the Light? I encourage you to unlock them and let the Holy Spirit do a clean sweep, right now, today! Listen to Steve and Annie Chapman sing “The Secret Place.” Even now, after hearing it for almost 30 years, it brings tears of joy to my heart. (You’ll have to Google it, or go to YouTube)

Open the door to your secret place. That’s when you find true Hope and Healing – the ONLY Way, through JESUS.


Photo credit: heartafterjesus.blogspot.com

LOVE Thy Neighbor

Bono, of U2, said ” ‘Love thy neighbor’ is not a piece of advice. It’s a command.”

He’s right on. It isn’t a suggestion, and it isn’t advice on how to live. GOD, speaking as JESUS CHRIST, said it as a command on how we, as His followers, are really required to live. What better way can we display the Love of the FATHER? When we don’t reach out to the hurting and the lost, it is sin, simply put. Am I guilty? Absolutely. No rock throwing from me. My life is full of insubordination and stubbornness – sin.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate with the FATHER – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the Atoning Sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands. Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the Truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His Word, Love for GOD is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as JESUS did.” – 1 John 2:1‭-‬6 NIV

Oh, but I WANT the revenge….. and GOD wants me to LOVE that person??? What? Really???

“Don’t say, “I’ll get even with you for the wrong you did to me!” Wait for the Lord, and he will save you.” Proverbs 20:22

(BIG sigh….) I have to wait. Revenge from me is not the answer. I actually want to let God take care of the people who have winged me (and who I have wronged), because:

“It is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love him.” (Isaiah 64:4) 1Cor 2:9

God will judge us. He will judge everyone, and those who chose not to accept Him and follow JESUS will be consigned to an unimaginably horrible eternity. I really don’t wish that on my enemies (well, most of the time I don’t; just being honest!) Then, after the Great White Throne judgement, He will be with us in the new world. EVERYTHING, EVERYONE will be new… NO sorrow. No aches & pains, no disease, no disfigurement. No mosquitoes, no ticks, nothing poisonous. Nothing scratchy or itchy, no ‘fashion police. No discrimination or judgment! Hallelujah!

Come back, Lord Jesus. Maranatha!

Oops.

“….. make every effort to respond to GOD’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.” – 2 Peter 1:5‭-‬9 NLT

Sidewalk Prophets have a song called “Come to the Table,” that has a line that says “Come meet this motley crew of misfits…. ” Doesn’t that just ring true for about any group of Christians coming together? I wonder, why is is that people who claim to follow CHRIST, people who are Christians, are so harsh on people who are broken? How is it possible to go from utterly broken sinner to self-righteous judgemental ‘Christian’? When we become that person; when we do life our way, are we truly in love with our Saviour? No matter how hard we try, we will always fail when we try to do life on our own. Doesn’t it mean we are taking on the role of GOD when we don’t defer to Him? If you are able, read the book of Romans, especially chapter 12, because it is laid out very clearly how CHRIST-followers should live.

“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of GOD. For the Scriptures say, “I WILL TAKE REVENGE; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.” – Romans 12:17‭, ‬19 NLT ( Deuteronomy 32:35 )

When we take on the role of judge and jury, deciding on our own what we can do to that person to punish them and get revenge, we sink to the enemy’s level. He – Satan – wants us to be judgemental. He wants us to be ugly to others, because it takes us away from our LORD. Even if we get physical revenge, we hurt ourselves much, much more than the person we do it to. Forgive them, pray for them, and rather than ‘getting even’ with them, do this instead:

“If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” – Romans 12:20‭-‬21 NLT ( Proverbs 25:21-22 )

We may not see the ‘heaping coals’ on their heads in this life, but GOD will punish them. He will also punish me, and you, for the judgement, revenge, and evil thoughts we have had on our enemies ( and I am guilty, guilty, GUILTY! ). Not a great thought, but this blog is about telling the truth, and the ULTIMATE TRUTH is this: JESUS will return and vanquish the enemy, once and for all, and then GOD the FATHER will sit in judgement of every one of us. I’m so far from perfect, and I am such a sinner, facing the ALMIGHTY GOD should – and does – have me scared and shaking. I can’t think about the judgement I should receive, or the judgement I deserve, but I can think on this: When that time comes – and it is coming, no doubt about it – I don’t have to face it alone! Because of the sacrifice JESUS made, and because I have given my life to Him, He will be my Advocate, my Saviour, showing GOD the FATHER where my name is written in His Blood in the Book of Life. Are you in it, too? I pray it is! I can’t even contemplate or consider what happens to those who aren’t represented by JESUS, with their names written in the Book. I pray that you aren’t an ‘oops,’ left out for eternity.

( Picture credit to Lamb and Lion Ministry )

Angel / Son

For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father. ” God also said, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.” – Hebrews 1:5 NLT

I believe that we are constantly in the company of angels, both exalted and fallen. God sends His angels to watch over us and to protect us from the enemy, who goes by many names. He was named Lucifer, the morning star and the shining star. Because of his rebellion against GOD, he has become known as the devil, the enemy, Satan. This fallen angel took a third of the angels in heaven with him when he fell from Grace, and their entire beings are eaten up in the ugliness of envy and pride. We have to constantly be on guard sgainst them, and we (humans) cannot fight them off on our own.

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of GOD: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the MOST HIGH. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” – Isaiah 14:12‭-‬15 KJV

Can you imagine how incredibly angry he became over that? Being kicked out of heaven….. the closest thing I can imagine is this: born to an incredibly wealthy family, raised in opulence and beautiful surroundings, never knowing hunger or thirst or loss – to be escorted out by security and thrown out because I wanted to control it all, to take it over in my greed; suddenly thrust into poverty and pain and want. Revenge? Anger? Envy? I think I would feel all of those things and more! In this imagined place, I would want to harm the other occupants; to turn them against the Father.

That’s exactly what the enemy and his followers, the falllen angels, are doing. In the process, all the evil has twisted them into hideous caricatures of their original forms. If you think about anyone you’ve ever known who was angry and bitter, you know that it transforms their entire being. A good actor can hide all that ugliness for a time, but truth always comes out. ALWAYS. The enemy is a great actor. He can appear as a beautiful, empathetic being in order to turn you / me from the LORD. He’s been doing it for millenia, so he’s had lots of practice in the arts of deceit and persuasion; he is the father of lies.

I believe God has assigned His angels the task of guarding His Children, the ones saved by His Mercy and Grace through the sacrifice of His Son, JESUS CHRIST. I believe that the day JESUS returns to earth, He will be surrounded by His Angel Armies, and He will defeat the enemy. I want to see the defeat of the creatures who have given human-kind hell (pun inteneded!!!) since the beginning, when our Almighty LORD, CREATOR of all things, punishes them for the remainder of time. He will claim revenge and Victory! Come on, JESUS, let’s get this party for the Father started! Hallelujah!

What is JESUS to you? Angel, prophet, a good man ….. SAVIOUR?

Revenge

“See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:15 NLT

Oh, I struggle with this verse sometimes! I know, I know. The LORD says that HE will be the avenger, and that we don’t get to (or need to) exact revenge because He will do it for us.

“The LORD says, ‘Am I not storing up these things, sealing them away in my treasury? I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, a nd their destiny will overtake them.’ ” – Deuteronomy 32:34‭-‬35 NLT

The question for you today is this: how do you handle it when you have been wronged? The driver who cuts us off; the line-cutter at the coffeehouse or the movies; the snarky coworker …. the person who stole your identity? (This list could fill pages!) The point is, do we let it go, or do we drop to their level and get in their face? I was a ‘get-in-your-face’ person for years, aggressive and intimidating. When someone crossed me, I could get ugly, fast. Was it effective? Sometimes, but even being the ‘victor’ didn’t make me feel good about it for long. Guilt gnawed at me….. but I was in the right! Why should it bother me? Why, indeed.

We know right from wrong. When we take the task of revenge into our own hands, we are declaring that we know better than the LORD. That’s a pretty dicey declaration. Think about it, and listen to Mandisa sing “Bleed the Same.”

Gotta let go of the junk in order to enjoy the Peace of our LORD.

Curses On You

Ever had anyone curse you? I don’t just mean foul language, but for someone to say (and mean) for you to go to hell? There are curses when the individual is truly cursing you, like in voodoo, and there are instances where it is done in jest…. although I don’t understand how you can jokingly refer someone to being cursed. I have been cursed at and had curses directed at me, but never have I had someone for years profess to love me, and then to do a 180 and curse me to hell. Disconcerting, at the least. Alarming, to think that someone close to me, to you, would hold that much hate. Instead of focusing on the injury, we need to focus on Jesus’ words:

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. ….Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” – Luke 6:27‭-‬31‭, ‬35‭-‬36 NLT

As many of you know, I have harbored grudges and anger and thoughts of revenge against those who have hurt me. All that negative in my life only served as a wedge between me and my God, and it also kept me away from people who genuinely cared for me. Letting the anger fester can kill us, spiritually and physically. The enemy rejoices when we hold on to all that. In my past, I became embroiled in a life of satanic influence, and I tell you the truth, I was within days of dying when I was rescued from it. The curses from that time trailed after me for years, and it is only the intervention of my Lord JESUS that I am alive today. I will forever bear the emotional and physical scars of that time, so that they can be a reminder that Jesus alone will sustain me. Even now, as I have been told to go to hell, I know that Jesus has determined that I need to bless and forgive that person. I cannot do it alone; my compassion fails me. Oh God, how I need you to guide my thoughts and words and actions! My one defense, my righteousness, depends on You, LORD. Blessings on each and everyone who despise me….

Love Your Enemy

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬7 NLT

God didn’t tell us we could pick who to love. No, He sent His Son to us, Who taught us these lessons:

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” – Matthew 22:37‭-‬39 NLT

Short and to the point. Jesus is referring to a passage in Leviticus 19, verses 9-18 when He says to love your neighbor as yourself. Read it – it may help with your understanding the point. I’ve read Bible scholars who say that Jesus is referring to fellow believers when He says ‘neighbors’; I think they should read the story of the Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37. This terribly injured Jew was left for dead by robbers, and a priest and then a temple assistant passed him and left him to suffer rather than sully their hands. A Samaritan, a people despised by the Jews and who in turn hated the Jews, picked up this man, his enemy, and cared for him and provided for him. Who was the real neighbor? Certainly not the man’s fellow Jews! The Samaritan showed love to his enemy. Shouldn’t those of us who have experienced the Love of the Savior lead by example in loving our enemies; our neighbors? Both Luke and Matthew record several instances of Jesus talking about loving our enemies.

“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.” – Luke 6:35 NLT

Even as Jesus showed His love as He was dying, by asking God His Father to forgive those who tortured and crucified Him, so we need to forgive those who hurt us. Yes, I am all too human and know EXACTLY how difficult it is, especially when the hurt is new, or the person is completely unrepentant. In fact, I’m currently dealing with it, even as I write these words. Knowing that the LORD has forgiven me for much, I know that He expects me to forgive others the same…. and more. There are many, many scriptures that talk about forgiveness. Not forgiving, and fostering anger and hurt in my heart, doesn’t do anything to my enemy, it only harms me. The greatest thing we can do, after prayer for our enemy, is to love them. Most times it has to be done at a distance, especially if that enemy caused us physical harm, and we shouldn’t forget, lest we get into another bad situation. Forgiveness is only through Jesus Christ and His Love.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have Loved you, you should love each other. ….”If you love Me, obey My commandments.” – John 13:34; 14:15 NLT