Insulted, Gossiped About, Lied To

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:11‭-‬12 NIV (Red Letters of JESUS!)

I want people to like me. My feelings are hurt when people gossip about me and spread lies about me. Sometimes the hurtful things said are true and many more times they are lies. Either way, words hurt. Does that mean it’s okay for others, and especially people who claim Christianity, to use the gossip for their own entertainment? When I am insulted, persecuted, and lied about, I’m just supposed to turn the other cheek? I’m supposed to Rejoice??? This is what JESUS says to us about it:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and Glorify your FATHER in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14‭-‬16 NIV

Once we choose JESUS, we are no longer of this sinful, corrupt world. Why then do we continue to live as though we are still part of this world? As Christians we shouldn’t want to be a part of the gossiping and lying and back-biting, yet the people who have professed the CHRIST are often the worst about doing them. What’s up with that? Perhaps we need to pick up our Bibles and do some searching …..

There’s a song by David Crowder called Red Letters and it ends like this:
Thank You, God, for red letters
When the ground began to shake
The grace of God started falling
And I became a free man that day
The prison walls started falling
And I am a free man today

Have you read the Red Letters? Has your ground been shaken; have your prison walls fallen, have you received the Grace of the ALMIGHTY GOD and embraced your new freedom? It is an incomparable experience. It is truly the Peace that passes all understanding.

“He [King David] said: “The LORD is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer; my GOD is my Rock, in whom I take refuge, my Shield and the Horn of my Salvation. He is my Stronghold, my Refuge and my Savior— from violent people You save me. “I called to the LORD, Who is Worthy of Praise, and have been saved from my enemies.” ” – 2 Samuel 22:2‭-‬4 NIV

Christ, Be With Me

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Christ, be with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie,
Christ where I sit,
Christ where I arise,

Salvation is of the LORD (repeat 3x)

This is a part of the Catholic prayer called “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.” My devotion today is based on this prayer, and I find it to be a very powerful and compelling prayer. I’m sure any Catholics who read this will find it familiar, but for those of us who are not Catholic, it could be our first exposure to it. The prayer puts in plain language the omniscience of GOD. He is with me. He surrounds me with His Presence and Protection. He never leaves me.

But what does it [Righteousness] say? “the WORD is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” – that is, the WORD of Faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth JESUS as LORD, and believe in your heart that GOD raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. for “whoever will call on the Name of the LORD will be saved .” – Romans 10:8‭-‬10‭, ‬13 NASB

Is CHRIST with you? Have you called on His Name and claimed your gift of salvation from Him?

(Prayer is from the Catholic Bible School devotion, found on the Bible App by YouVersion.com)

Trust and Obey

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GOD.” – Philippians 4:6

“And we know that GOD causes all things to work together for good to those who love GOD, to those who are called according to His Purpose.”-
Romans 8:28

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is Good; For His Lovingkindness is Everlasting. Oh let those who fear the LORD say, “His Lovingkindness is Everlasting.” The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me; Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.” – Psalms 118:1‭,4,6-7 NASB

This hymn by John H. Sammis, written in 1887, captures the beauty of trusting in our Father God:

  1. When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
    What a glory He sheds on our way!
    While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
    And with all who will trust and obey.

    • Refrain:
      Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
      To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
  2. Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
    But His smile quickly drives it away;
    Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
    Can abide while we trust and obey.
  3. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
    But our toil He doth richly repay;
    Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
    But is blessed if we trust and obey.
  4. But we never can prove the delights of His love
    Until all on the altar we lay;
    For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
    Are for them who will trust and obey.
  5. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
    Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
    What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
    Never fear, only trust and obey.

Sweetly written, sweetly sung, and sweetly true.

Rejoicing in Hope

“….. casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 NASB

So easy to say, yet how difficult to live! Where would we be without hope?

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” – Romans 12:9‭-‬13 NASB

Today, I find myself yet again anxious and fretting over finances. I desperately need another source of income in order to cover my financial obligations, and although I continue to search, nothing is presenting itself as a solution. This is the type of thing that our Father GOD permits in our lives, to teach us to rely on Him rather than ourselves. Letting go of my “control.” Again, easy to say and difficult to do! I want to fix it, and GOD wants me to let it go so that He can show us (me!) how Powerful He is. He is reminding me that there is a GOD, and I’m not Him.

“….. Rejoicing in Hope, Persevering in Tribulation, Devoted to Prayer …..”

Simple, right? Hah.

Actually, it is simple for those who are confident in their salvation through JESUS CHRIST. With JESUS in my heart, and the HOLY SPIRIT beside me, I am inundated with Hope. Without their presence to lift me up above the muck and mire of everyday life, I could only flounder around and eventually succumb to hopelessness and helplessness, allowing it to overwhelm me. I’ve been there, stuck in those feelings, and it is definitely not a good state of mind. Because JESUS loves me (and you), He waits alongside me until I lift my eyes to Him and ask for help. I almost think that Paul got it backwards. If we are not first praying, how can we possibly perservere in tribulation? Where is our hope, if not in the LORD?

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” – Psalms 121:1‭-‬2 NASB (Read all 8 verses of Psalm 121. Powerful!)

I encourage you – and me – to learn these scriptures, especially Psalm 121; to hold on to the words of the LORD whenever despair and hopelessness raise their ugly heads and try to drag us down. There is nothing more Powerful in the Universe than our GOD: FATHER, SON, and HOLY SPIRIT. Nothing. Remember,

“….. at the Name of JESUS every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth …..” – Philippians 2:10 NASB

REJOICE at our HOPE in the LORD!

AMEN.

Coming Home

I believe that “home” can be anywhere, as long as you are with people who love you. You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying “Home is where the Heart is.” When we marry, home should be wherever our spouse is, and if we are single, we usually choose to make our home near friends and family – people we know we can count on. It saddens me to hear grown people, and especially married people, say they want to go “home”, when they really mean they want to stop being a grown-up and go back to their parent’s home. We can go to visit our parents, and even stay for a while…. but is that really our home any longer? I know I’m always welcome at my mom’s home, and I know I have friends and family who would welcome me into their homes. I welcome to my home any family or friend who wants to come for a visit. It’s all just temporary though, because my REAL home is in Heaven with my LORD.

I read a devotion I’d like to share with you. It’s from “Right From The Heart 1-Minute Devotions,” titled “Going Home.”

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20

Robert Frost wrote, “Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” There’s no place like home. No matter how bad we mess up or how disappointing life gets, it’s the one place they have to take us in.

Jesus told of a wayward son who messed up big time, wasting all his dad had blessed him with. He became homeless and was so hungry he wanted to eat leftover slop fit only for animals. But when he came to his senses, he thought about home. He knew he didn’t deserve to go there, but he went anyway. And his dad was so overwhelmed with joy he welcomed him home.

The dad represents God, and the wayward son represents you and me. It’s Jesus’ way of telling us that we all mess up–but nobody messes up so badly that when he decides to come home to the Lord, the Lord won’t welcome him back to a right relationship with Him. Is it time for you to come home to the Lord?

I’m not sure that I agree with Robert Frost in saying that “home is where…. they have to take you in,” at least, not in the sense that our parents or siblings are obligated to help us or “take us in.” I suppose, though, that would imply that our “home” is necessarily with our parents. Our true “home” could be elsewhere. Turning to the scripture, I have been that prodigal, and when I came back from my selfishness, I was welcomed “home,” back into my family’s hearts and lives. I had turned my back on my parents and on GOD, wasting my life and my resources. In spite of myself, they never gave up loving and praying for me. I think that’s how you know you are home, wherever there are people who don’t give up on you; the people who love you and pray for you in spite of you.

Looking at your own life, have you been a prodigal son or daughter? Have you made it difficult for your family to like you, as I did? Not everyone has a birth family they can return “home” to as I am blessed to have. Abuse – substance, physical, emotional – circumstance, and not having JESUS CHRIST in their lives, these things can prevent us from going back to our earthly families. Are you concentrating on looking for your earthly home and not finding it? Do you yearn to be able to go “home”? It is sometimes impossible to find here on earth, and that is a sad, heartwrenching reality for many….. BUT!! Here’s the GOOD NEWS!

Regardless of whatever is happening or has happened in your life here on earth, whether you have a “home” or you are looking for one, there is One Father waiting for you with open arms, unconditional love, and forgiveness. The GOD of everything, the FATHER of all, is standing right next to you, just waiting for you! All we have to do is to acknowledge that JESUS CHRIST is GOD’S Only Son; that He lived on earth as a man, He died as the ULTIMATE sacrifice for our sins, and that He rose from the grave on the 3rd day, victorious over death and hell. He gave His all for you and for me. Can we do any less for Him?

A reminder to us all.

No Distinction Between Us

I’m listening to a song called “Build My Life,” sung by Pat Barrett with Cory Asbury, and it begins with these words:

Worthy of every song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of every breath we could ever breath
We live for You …..

FATHER, Jehovah, Yahweh, The Great I AM; JESUS, Son of The Most High; the HOLY SPIRIT, the Triune GOD – who else is worthy of our praise and worship? There is not one being in existence who is worthy, other than our LORD, yet we persist in putting so much before Him. Consider these words from Paul:

“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. …… 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 – a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but CHRIST is all, and in all.” – Colossians 3:5‭,7-‬11 NASB

Do you know the old hymn “I Surrender All”? When we surrender all to JESUS, how is it that we think we are justified to judge others who are different from us? As Paul reminds us, there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman ….. No Distinction.

If we are in Christ, there is no distinction between us. Ethnicity, physical condition, nationality, creed, or social and economic ranking, we are the same, and we will all meet someday when we are joined in eternity with Him. For those who choose to stay in the world and reject JESUS The CHRIST, there is no distinction among them, either. After their death, they will also all meet and be on equal footing in hell. Harsh? Yes, but don’t shoot the messenger. This is the one distinction between humans and is determined by our Creator, not by me or any other person, that JESUS is the only way to an eternity with the LORD.

As a JESUS-follower, these things should be dead to me and no longer a part of my life: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry; anger, wrath, malice, slander, lies, and abusive speech. I shouldn’t seek ways to separate myself from other believers through the distinctions of the world – the distinctions that have been manufactured by the Enemy of the LORD, who is also known as Satan – to trip us and cause us to stumble. To keep these things out of my life requires that I constantly surrender my all to the LORD, and knowing that He Alone is worthy. Everything on and in and under the earth pales beside Him! I know – not just hope or believe – that the only way to peace within me on earth, and an eternity of praise is through JESUS CHRIST. How confident are you of the path you have chosen?