Safe….?

“(10) The Name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to Him and are safe. (14) The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit? (19) An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. (24) There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:19‭, ‬24 NLT

A crushed spirit. That’s what happens in a relationship and a marriage when one leaves, physically or emotionally. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to study on this; too many opportunities. Currently, I find myself again feeling betrayed by a friend, a person I took at his word that he would not abandon me. A crushed spirit. Knowing a person for almost 20 years, being friends and going through good and bad times, helping each other through emotional times, doesn’t guarantee anything. I wanted to believe the best, but everyone lets down their friends at times. Why do we do this? Why make promises we know we won’t keep? Why do we lead others on, letting them believe something in error? Safe? No, there isn’t anyone on earth who is safe, who won’t disappoint you.

No matter how long or how much effort we put into the study of human behaviour, I believe we will always be disappointed, simply because we are human and full of flaws. Knowing that, studying that, doesn’t make it any easier to get past the hurt. The only way to really get past it, to find forgiveness for those who hurt us – and that includes forgiving myself for the hurt I have caused myself and others – and that way, the only way, is through Jesus Christ. Can I still forgive while being treated with disrespect and disdain? Do I want to? I study the scriptures for guidance, because I cannot find forgiveness in my heart. Instead I find sarcasm and anger flooding me, along with the hurt and the disappointment. All of those feelings come straight from the enemy, and they don’t help me at all. In fact, if I let them go, these negative thoughts and feelings can overcome and actually, physically, cause me to be ill.

With Jesus, and through the healing of the Holy Spirit, I can get through this. Study the words of Jesus for forgiveness. He taught us this: “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:15 NLT

Jesus was betrayed by a friend, a close friend who He loved, one who gave Him over to be tortured and killed in the most horrific ways know to man…. and before He died, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34 NLT

Even while dying; beaten, bruised, and humiliated, Jesus forgave us. Are we beater than the Son of God, that we can hold judgement and unforgiveness over another person? Let the chains of hatred, unforgiveness, anger, and hurt go. Let God have it. He can handle it.

You’re A Fool… Or No, It’s Me.

Will the prayer I am praying change anyone else’s life besides mine? Be careful with your words!! Am I praying for revenge on someone for hurting me, or am I thanking God for my blessings? Do I ask the LORD to bless those who have caused problems for me, or am I cursing them while asking God to bless me?

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” – Proverbs 15:1-2,4

Will Rogers said it pretty well, I thought: “It is better for some one to think you’re a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” My Mom always said “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything.” Lately, I find myself struggling to keep my mouth shut, and harsh words regarding the most recent hurt slip out instead. Thank God I am a work in progress!

I especially like this sentence: “The soothing tongue is a tree of life…” Think about that! A tree of life. We can do more damage with our tongue than with a knife, because wounds of the spirit are difficult to heal – I know, because I lashed out for years, hurting others because of the pain I felt. I will forever have to guard my tongue in this life. There is only ONE Healer for your wounded, broken spirit, and that is Jesus Christ, the Great Physician. Through Him, and Him alone, are my wounds healed. He can bring healing to you as well, and through your healing, you can reach out to to those you have hurt. In the 12 Step programs, it’s called making amends.

  • Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

In our lives, we will have to work these steps over and over. I have opportunities to ask for forgiveness. Most are graciously accepted, but there will always be those that are not accepted. I also have opportunities to forgive – and when I forgive, or struggle with forgiveness, I gain understanding of the consequences of hurt I inflict on others. In some instances, we will need much more than an apology. We need to make a physical or monetary amends in some cases. Sometimes it is impossible to forgive, and that is when I give it to the Great Physician so that He can work His healing power. Revenge for things people say and do is for GOD to deal out, not for us to do.

So be careful of your words. Even in jest, we can (and do!) hurt others.

Fully Committed; Fully Transparent

What does that mean, “fully committed”?

“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.” –
2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT

Interesting verse. How many years did I struggle through, simply because I was not fully committed to God? Reading this certainly explains the trouble and hurt of those years! At war – fighting to maintain my control. MY control; MY choices. Not asking God for answers or guidance, thinking I had it all figured out. At war – but not allowing the army of angels, GOD’s army, to fight my battles. Like a 2 year old, I said “I can do it!” How’s that working out for you? Even now, it often feels as though I’m at war with the world. There is so much much ugliness and meaness, much of the time I just want to retreat into my home and not venture out.

Paul reminds us how we should be thinking and acting in his letter to the Ephesians:

“And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” {Psalms 4:4 NLT: “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.”} Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. ….. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:26-27, 31-32 NLT

I confess I am struggling with anger right now. It is a real struggle not to be furious at my life partner (or so I let him convince me we were) for suddenly leaving. Anger at him for lying to me that he would not leave, anger at the financial bind I am in because of losing his support, and a lot of anger at myself for 《again!!》 letting myself become dependent upon a human man and pushing my relationship with my LORD aside. Bitterness wells up in my heart anytime I dwell on the situation, and harsh words and slander are ready to slip off my tongue with very little encouragement.

Instead of allowing this anger to control consume me, as the enemy wants it to do, my focus has to remain on scriptures and my Jesus. How will the mortgage get paid the first of next month? At this point, with my efforts, and my financial resources, it won’t be covered. The human in me is worried and almost sick about it. The Sprit residing in me tells me worry won’t fix it, and any anger at him I hold on won’t help any, either. Only by letting God have this, by fully committing to Him, holding nothing back and surrendering completely, will I survive this. Do you understand how hard that is? I can’t do it. Pulling myself up by my bootstraps won’t cut it.

“I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.” – Psalms 25:2 NLT
“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24 NLT

God of Love …. AND Justice.

I serve a GOD of Love. THE God of Love. Even so, or maybe BECAUSE He is The GOD of Love, He finds certain things despicable:

“There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to Him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies and
a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
– Proverbs 6: 16-19

“Haughty eyes.” No one person is better than another. We should honor people for their good and for their efforts, but not treat one as being worth more than others. In GOD’S eyes, we all all worth saving.

“A lying tongue.” Keep it honest – morally and spiritually.

“Hands that shed innocent blood.” Murder is wrong, and I believe that there is a special corner of hell for those who deliberately and cruelly harm children and the defenseless and animals. Defending yourself, your family, your country… Those things are right.

“A heart that devises wicked schemes.” Pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes – of course they are wrong. What about stealing, even the smallest things? Nobody “owes” us. What about the mean “jokes” we play?

“Feet that are quick to rush into evil.” When you know an action you are about to take is wrong, but you do it anyway….

“A false witness who pours out lies.” We’ve seen a lot of that lately on the news, with people who make up stories to push their hate agendas. How about the person who creates conflict among God’s people?

Finally, but maybe most importantly, “A person who stirs up conflict in the community.” To me, this sums up the first 6. If you are doing any of those, you are stirring up trouble. We all know someone who likes to make up stories to fit their agenda. Maybe it is you. I know that in the past, I have been guilty of this.

Lying, cheating, gossip. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything.” How many times did I hear that growing up!! But it is so true! If I check my facts before speaking, people will be more apt to listen in the future. If I hear something, I try to go to the source to verify it. (This can also alleviate unnecessary worry!) As I draw closer to GOD, and as I accept that He Alone is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIGHT, I find that these things that God despises retreat from me. I’m still guilty of doing them because I am an imperfect human. Thank God for His Mercy and His Grace! Now, am I ready to follow Christ’s command, and extend my own mercy to those who have hurt me?

“Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive His New Life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, Who died and was raised for them.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14‭-‬15 NLT

Amen.

Debt and Debtors

I’m not talking about debt we owe to banks or credit credit card companies. Today, i was convicted by a this story that Jesus told to His followers.

“Then Peter came to Him and asked, “LORD, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” – Matthew 18:21‭-‬35 NLT

Money is a very touchy subject, and obviously has been for millennia. There are individuals who have taken advantage of me in the past, and who owe me thousands of dollars. I have been holding on to the debt and tne paperwork for years, determined to somehow collect it. As I read this parable, I was again struck by the final sentence. Even though I am completely unworthy of any forgiveness, or any Mercy or Grace from my LORD, I desire forgiveness from Him with all of my being. I know, without any doubt, that I have received the Salvation of Jesus Christ, I have a healthy respect for the LORD and His Judgment. I don’t want Him to see that I have harboured resentment against anyone who I believe owe me a debt. I don’t want Him to find forgiveness in my heart when I face Him.

To that end, today I am determined to go through my files and destroy any paperwork on people who “owe” me. As for those whom I owe, I beg the indulgence of time in order to repay them. Forgiveness is hard, but it is possible through the Holy Spirit working in me. Left to my own thoughts and feelings, forgiveness would never happen. I turn to Christ. As the Father has forgiven me, LORD, I plead for a forgiving heart and mind. I pray for forgiveness for emotional hurt as well as monetary hurt. It is only through the Grace and Forgiveness I receive from You that I can forgive others. You don’t call for me to forget, because by remembering, we can hopefully not fall into the traps and situations set up by the enemy, and remain in Your Will. Thank You, JESUS, for Your Love and unimaginable sacrifice. AMEN.

Tough Day?

I can relate to having a tough day. In fact, I’m in the middle of several all strung together, and I’ve had a lifetime of disappointment and shame. I have been relying on a man for 2 years instead of relying on my Lord, and find myself betrayed, lied to, and disrespected…. again. Still, I choose to believe in and hold on to these verses in the psalms:

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our LORD! His Power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!” – Psalms 147:3‭-‬5 NLT

Knowing this doesn’t make my life, or my day, better. It does, however, bring me a measure of peace. You can know this peace, too, if you want it. Jesus came for everyone, even the ones who have hurt us. He suffered horrible things, and He allowed Himself to be brutally murdered for those who hurt, AND for those who hurt us. That’s hard to hold on to, especially when the wounds (physical or emotional) are fresh.

“He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” –
2 Corinthians 5:15‭-‬17 NLT

There are many seasons in life, and it seems that some of us are stuck in the muck and mess of this world when others just seem to skate over it, unaffected. (I know they are affected, bjut it’s difficult to see sometimes when you are trying hard to just keep your head above water.) I’ve stated many times over the past couple of years how blessed I have been to have a man in my life who loved me and (seemly) wanted to spend his life with me. It’s rough to be told it’s over. Despite my feeling of hurt and betrayal, I am compelled to pray peace for him. My human point of view is flawed, so in order to keep from spewing ugliness in my hurt, I have to look through God’s eyes to see His child. Feelings will change and the hurt will recede, eventually.

“King David said this about Him: ‘I see that the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts His praises! My body rests in hope. For You will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of Life, and You will fill me with the Joy of Your Presence.’ ” – Acts of the Apostles 2:25‭-‬28 NLT

Amen.

I Am In Need… or, I Am Needy

“O GOD, You are my GOD; I earnestly search for You. My soul thirsts for You; my whole body longs for You in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen You in Your sanctuary and gazed upon Your Power and Glory. Your unfailing Love is better than life itself; how I praise You! I will praise You as long as I live, lifting up my hands to You in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise You with songs of Joy.” – Psalms 63:1‭-‬5 NLT

I want to be like David, satisfied with nothing more than God’s Love, but I am too much in need…… or too needy?….. to be satisfied with the best thing available in this world. And it is a GIFT; freely given to us by the Almighty, the gift of His Faithfulness and Sacrifice and His Love. A gift so rich that not all of the billionaires and millionaires joining all of their resources can even begin to compete with. And our LORD wants us to have it with zero cost. How can that be? WHY can we not be satisfied with such a priceless, unmatchable gift?

GOD saved you by His GRACE when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a Gift from GOD.” – Ephesians 2:8 NLT

I think we aren’t satisfied because it is incomprehensible to us. Bill Gates, or Donald Trump, or George Soros could gift me with mansions and property, vehicles, and a trust fund to carry me effortlessly through life, and yet all that doesn’t even come close to the Gift of GOD’S Love. Incomprehensible, incomparable, …… unbelievable? For far too many people, GOD’S incredible Gift is exactly that – unbelievable. A deity that we cannot see or touch wants to give me Life? They can’t understand it, so they reject Him.

“He was despised and rejected— a Man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.” – Isaiah 53:3 NLT

Oh, for the faith of Paul, who was jailed for his faith, yet continued his testifying, and his encouraging letters to other believers, in spite of his confinement and suffering. How many of us would continue teaching and preaching while held in chains? “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent!” ” – Acts of the Apostles 18:9 NLT

Will you be like Peter, whom JESUS called the Rock, or will we be as dry grass when the Judgment occurs?

“Therefore, just as fire licks up stubble and dry grass shrivels in the flame, so their roots will rot and their flowers wither. For they have rejected the Law of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies; they have despised the word of the HOLY ONE of Israel.” – Isaiah 5:24 NLT

“__________” Lives Matter

“For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.” – 1 Peter 1:24 NIV (Isaiah 40:6-8)

Remember singing this as a child?

“Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight, Jesus Loves the little children of the world!”

We should be singing this every day, but substituting the words “all tbe people” for “little children”. He loves us, ALL the children …. He LOVES us!! He doesn’t care what color I am on the outside, because we are all the same without our skin. I find myself discriminating against people more for their appearance than their color, and that is just as bad as discrimination for color. We are called to love EVERYONE, regardless of color, or appearance, or political beliefs; EVERYONE, regardless of actions. I know firsthand how difficult is when a person has hurt you. Proverbs 10:12 says: “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” The LOVE of JESUS covers over ALL wrongs…..” This is so true. When I stay angry, or tense, or full of hatred, it REALLY affects me. Mentally, it gives me worry and stress headaches, and physically, it gives me stomach cramps that lead to ulcers. Does it hurt the person who harmed me? No, not all. They go on with their lives while I pay the price in my body with the hatred I carry. Just say “A pox on them!” and let it go. Remember this:

“For GOD Loved the world so much that He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish….” – John 3:16 NLT

Do I believe that this gives people who intentionally hurt others a pass? Absolutely not; I know that anyone can accept Jesus and experience His salvation (Hallelujah!), but we still have consequences for our actions. I can’t imagine how that will work when we stand before the Great White Throne for judgement by the Supreme and Almighty LORD of the Universe. All I can say for sure about that time, is that I know my Advocate is Jesus, and that I get to spend eternity with Amen.

ALL lives matter to Jesus. Red, yellow, black, white, blue. All the people of the world.

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

Politics and politicians rule the airways with their promises and their attacks on those who oppose them. My sponsor said about an alcoholic: “If his lips are moving, he is lying.” That is a true statement for politicians, too. Too bad we can’t have the following verses cast in stone over the doorways of all legislatures and courts in our nation:

“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin. A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves. Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner. One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” (Proverbs 13:3‭-‬7 NIV)

I find myself sorely tempted to say “A curse on every politician who lies to get elected and lies for their own gain….” Then I look in the Scriptures, and I think they have already cursed themselves. Isaiah seems to be speaking directly to every elected or appointed official in the world!

“For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away.” (Isaiah 59:3‭-‬4‭, ‬11 NIV)

Since our very first congress, has there been one that put the American people’s condition over their own financial gain? If we go back to the way of the first congress, and all politicians are required to pay their own way, how many of the current politicos and lobbyists would remain in Washington and our state capitols and our courts? I would say, VERY few. We no longer demand accountability from our officials, and that lack of responsibility has passed from them to our children, and into our professions. Who calls for justice in America? The loudest voices are from the people with the least accountability, and our “justice” system reflects it. The accused gets free legal help, while the victim is forced to use whatever they have and are frequently victimized again and again by that system. Politicians and lobbyists, lawyers and jurists, capitalize on their lies and deceitfulness. While the average Americans struggle to just get by, many of those in the political arena are amassing fortunes. Take a serious look at the presidential families and their finances from the past 40 years. With the notable exceptions of the Kennedys and the Trumps who already have their fortunes, those other families have come out of their terms vastly wealthier than they went in. It shouldn’t be about the money. The same holds true for countless elected officials. I no longer want to be the growling bear or the moaning dove. Sitting by and watching our country continue its slide into disgrace should not be an option for Christians. We must call for justice; we must know the constitution and call for honesty and righteousness. By doing so, we will be calling down the wrath of the enemy onto ourselves, because Satan has an agenda of lies and falsehoods. We must be cautious not to fall into webs the father of evil spins to misdirect and confuse us.

Action is required of all Christians, and we must use our voices appropriately. Violence is not the answer, but prayer is. This is a call to all Christians everywhere to get on our knees and cry out to Almighty God.

“If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)