Nancy Henry – I love sharing the HOPE of JESUS. "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12 NLT
Satan is devious. He wants us to question God and rebel against Him, but if we forget God, that’s even better. He wants us to succumb to the lusts and pleasures of the flesh. He knows how dark and depraved our human nature truly is. BUT he doesn’t “make us” do things – he can’t force us to do anything, ever … it is OUR choice. “But God,” made us ALIVE. We DESERVE death, but because of God’s Mercy we have LIFE instead of hell and damnation.
Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love. Micah 7:18 NASB1995
But GOD Who pardons our sins and rebellion, Who is limitless, unending, and Who loves us in spite of who and what we are.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But GOD, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of GOD; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which GOD prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10 NASB1995
Compare: Buddha’s dying words, which were to “strive without ceasing” to the dying words of The CHRIST, Jesus, whose words were “It is finished.” By Grace and through Faith in JESUS we can receive Salvation …. Both of these are gifts of and from God; there is nothing we do can earn them. Because He died…. it was never because of anything I could say or do. No justification.Just like the thief on the cross, it is always just because “the Man on the middle cross told me to come.” We are HIS workmanship; we are HIS Masterpiece!
But GOD demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NASB1995
Deceived. Denied. Abandoned. Deserted. Lied to. Ignored. Lied about. Awkward. Hurt. Introverted. Rebellious. Angry. Lashing out. Acting out. This is me. This was me. I have endured them, and I have lived them. I did them to my parents and family, to friends, and to God. People who did these things to me became objects of loathing and derision. Why should I ever speak to them, let alone forgive them?
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 NASB1995
In what sense is this commandment “new”? The old command was to the Jewish people to love their fellow Jews; the new command from Jesus is to love ALL people, regardless of nationality, love one another as disciples of Jesus. The old was to Love as you love yourself, but the new is to Love as Jesus loves you.
Wait! You mean, love those people who abused me???
“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18 NASB1995
Jesus gave us a new proof of Love; a new pattern. In His time, the Hebrew slaves were not required to wash feet because it was the lowest of tasks, but Jesus did it. He performed a humble service, the lowest of low, to demonstrate His love and devotion to His friends, but also to the one who would betray Him. These acts that can be seen, to show visible love to all peoples, are what we are called to do. It doesn’t mean that we literally need to be running around and grabbing people’s feet to wash them, but we are to use humble, visible things. The Apostle John wrote a lot about Christian love for one another: John 15:12 “This is my Commandment…. Greater love has no man than to lay his life…”; 1 John 4 “This is love: …”; John 13:5-15.
“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 selfish or self centered) “…do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Show the love. It is a verb, active, through attention and service, act as ‘slaves’ to the LORD. Love = to live for. SERVE.) “Rejoice in hope, [because you are] patient in tribulation, [because you are] constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” [Don’t entertain to impress; hospitality is sharing practical Christianity. Acts 4:34 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” When we are cursed and maltreated, bless and love them] “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” [Not by fixing anything, but just being there, even when rejoicing is harder when it is something that you want that doesn’t happen.] “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own estimation.” Romans 12:9-16 NASB1995
Agree on the basics. Be humble – think of yourself less, not less of yourself. Befriend the unimportant; make them feel important. Be open and willing to say I am wrong, I am sorry; admit to not knowing everything. If Jesus is truly your Lord and Saviour, He says that “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 NASB1995
“You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.”
– Amy Carmichael
“Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.” Micah 7:18 NASB1995
“….. everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”
Victor Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning, 1946
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 NASB1995
“In the world you have tribulation….” That is true for every one of us. No matter how much money we might have, or what country we live in. Doesn’t matter what color our skin. Whether of indigenous heritage, or recent immigrant, or long established family; farmer, herder, town or city dweller, we will always have tribulation. People we love will die. We lose our livelihood. We will be persecuted for what we believe, or what color we are, or for how we live. Why?
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9 NASB1995
Almost since the beginning of time, satan, the devil, has been after God’s Creation. He wants it for himself. He wasn’t satisfied with being the most beautiful creature that God created, he wanted it all. Does that sound familiar? In history, so many leaders and rulers have been greedy, narcissistic, evil, and cruel, but no one compares to the Enemy of God’s people. Once the most beautiful, and now the ugliest.
“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!” Isaiah 14:12 NASB1995
The Darkest Day in America. The day thousands of Americans were killed – massacred – on American soil by a small group of terrorists. That’s the anniversary we just marked. We can lament and weep over this day, following the example of the prophet Jeremiah. His people and his city, Jerusalem, were captured by the Babylonians. The city was destroyed and left as a pile of rubble, just like our twin towers. Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet, the man of sorrows”, wept over his people, just as we should weep at the ongoing attack on christianity. September 11, 2001; Nine eleven, is a symptom, a beacon. We can relate to how broken Jeremiah was when he wrote this:
“I am the man who has seen affliction Because of the rod of His wrath. He has driven me and made me walk In darkness and not in light. Surely against me He has turned His hand Repeatedly all the day. He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away, He has broken my bones. He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship. In dark places He has made me dwell, Like those who have long been dead. He has walled me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy. Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer. He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked. He is to me like a bear lying in wait, Like a lion in secret places. He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drunk with wormwood. He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has made me cower in the dust. My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness.”
God is unfailingly faithful, and the purpose of a godly lament is the regeneration of hope in your heart. God wrote this book through Jeremiah to remind people of the complete destruction, of not glossing over sin, and of total confession. The transgressions of Israel were laid out from A to Z. Can you imagine if he were writing about America? Jeremiah pours out his lament to God, then he writes this:
“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD.” Lamentations 3:21-26 NASB1995
How could this happen? How did we get here? How did this happen? Verse 12 says “He bent His bow and set me as the target of His arrow….” God did this, God is in the midst of it. Jeremiah isn’t showing defiance, but asking God “how is Your covenant going to survive?” Samuel Johnson said “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” We need to constantly reminded to trust God; to allow Him to work His will in our life. How will God’s covenant survive if we don’t live it? Remember the scriptures. God’s faithfulness is on display not because of the destruction but in spite of it. God PROMISES. Consistency in discipline shows affection; He will do what He says He will do. God is faithful.
God’s unrelenting faithfulness, His lovingkindness, abounds and overflows. The compassions and mercies of God are unlimited, and they are brand new every day. They are immeasurable. Have confidence in God’s faithfulness – change your thinking from “great is HIS faithfulness”, to “great is YOUR faithfulness”. In verse 24, “my portion” means “God is everything”. In verses 21 and 24, we read “I will hope in Him”, and in verse 25, “I will wait for Him”. We must be patient, as we are assured that GOD IS FAITHFUL. He provides. Wait for Him!
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” Galatians 1:3-9 NASB1995
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NASB1995
We definitely have tribulation in this world! As we come closer and closer to the Rapture of the saints, life as we know it will continue to get more difficult for Christians. Our world is shrinking by the day, as governments across the face of earth are joining in mandates and ruthless anouncements. Republic and democracy alike are shrinking, as administrators behave more like despots. Are we in the Great Tribulation? I can’t answer that because I am not a Bible scholar, and I don’t have a direct line from God telling me when Jesus is returning. I just know that we are getting closer. Minutes, hours, days ….. years? No one knows, and no one can predict it. Are you ready??
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the Grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:3-9 NASB1995
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” John 17:20-23 NASB1995
We can’t allow things like CRT, mask and vaccine mandates, skin color, party lines, or denominations to divide us! As Christians that means that we have to go back to the Word – the BIBLE – to guide us. We have to live now. Not based on 100 years in the past, on how our ancestors behaved. We have to live now. Take care of others and help others based on the now. We also have to stand up for what is scriptural, and stand against secularism. Not judging. (That’s really hard for me, especially when the people “in charge” are going against everything I believe in!) Remember who is in charge of this world until Jesus returns!
“And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” Revelation 12:9-12 NASB1995
That last sentence gives me chills. “….the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” Especially this: “having great wrath”. The enemy is after earth with a vengeance. All of it, not just Christians! We bear the brunt, because he hates us above all else on earth. His goal is too pull us away from Jesus, and to destroy God’s Creation. Remember the Truth. God wins. Jesus Christ defeats satan in the end. The dragon and death are vanquished! Hold on, stand up, for freedom and for Jesus!
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:15-16 NASB1995
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic For which it stands one Nation under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
The Flag of the United States of America is a symbol of us all — of all America. It is not a political symbol. It is a symbol that each American should respect, for it represents the honor, courage and sacrifice of those who struggled to preserve the ideals upon which our country was founded: Freedom, justice and opportunity for all. Contrary to other flags of the world, the U.S. Flag is the flag of its citizens – the people of all ages that make and keep America a stronghold and an example of freedom.
“Throughout the history of our nation, the flag has evoked intense, sincere feelings of patriotism.”
Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States
Some of the history and etiquette for our National Symbol follows. Our politicians in Washington need to review these guidelines!
Even more than the eagle, our flag, the flag of these United States of America, is a living symbol. Many of us look upon it as the embodiment of the spirit of this great land. Sometimes referred to as “Old Glory’, it has been cherished for years as the embodiment of what we stand for as a nation.
It is a standard of Honor that we should respect. Our reverence for our flag is justified by past and present sacrifices for freedom and liberty. To me, it is a symbol of the incredible bravery and sacrifices of the children, and the men and women of this country. Yes, “children”, because children have fought for this country, from the Revolutionary War to WWII and beyond. From children barely able to carry a musket; to men like my father, who enlisted in WWII at the age of 17.
Throughout the world, our flag signifies a people dedicated to liberty, justice and freedom. There is a magic in our flag. It brings hope to war-torn countries when carried in by our troops. Whenever I see the flag, my hope of a better nation is renewed; that this nation, under God, will continue to be an example everywhere for all people who love freedom with honor. In honoring and saluting our flag we demonstrate affection for our nation, our fellow citizens and the proud future we share.
The Pledge of Allegiance to our flag was written in August of 1882 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage. The celebration plans resulted in Columbus Day being designated a holiday for the whole country by President Benjamin Harrison. The original 23 words read as follows:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the republic For which it stands one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
In 1923 the original verse was changed from “I pledge allegiance to my Flag” to “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.”
When the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, citizens should stand at attention and salute by placing their right hand over the heart with the first word and hold the salute through the last line of the Pledge. The salute is directed to the flag by facing it during the Pledge.
The United States Flag Code was first adopted in 1924 prescribes flag etiquette for a variety of circumstances ensuring that our national symbol is treated properly. The Code is explained in great detail on the National Flag Foundation’s website for anyone wishing to explore it in greater detail. The Code is a guide for civilians and civilian groups who wish to properly honor the United States of America’s principle emblem. Each military branch has its own flag code of military etiquette.
In 1943 the Supreme Court of the United States decided that “No one – child or adult – could be forced to say ‘The Pledge of Allegiance’. To force someone to say it was in opposition to ‘freedom and justice for all.’ It was in 1954 that Congress added “under God” to the Pledge. It was pointed out that Abraham Lincoln had called the United States “this nation under God” in ‘The Gettysburg Address.’
When the flag is presented, all persons should come to attention. All persons in uniform should give the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may also render the military salute. All other persons should salute by placing their right hand over their hearts. Men wearing any non-religious headgear are to remove it. Women do not have to remove their head covering. In parades and reviews, it is proper to start the salute as the flag enters your position and end when it has passed.
The Flag of the United States of America should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously, and is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. Each individual should stand at attention facing the flag and salute. It is also proper to salute whenever the national anthem is played. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of the National Anthem whichever is the longest. It is not considered appropriate for US citizens to salute another countries flag or anthem.
Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night. There are eight sites in the United States where the flag is flown day and night under specific legal authority: Fort McHenry National Monument, Baltimore, Maryland; Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland; the United States Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington, Virginia; Lexington, Massachusetts; the White House; the Washington Monument; United States Customs ports of entry; and Valley Forge State Park, Pennsylvania.
The United States Flag should always be treated with the utmost care and respect. Remember, our flag represents a living country and, as such, is considered a living thing. For instance, the lapel flag pin, being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart. The flag should always be displayed with the blue union field up. The only time you ever display the flag upside down would be as a signal of extreme distress.
We should always carry the flag aloft and free — never flat or horizontally. The exception to this is carrying very large flags that are too big to be flown from a staff or pole. It is important to always keep the flag clean. Keep it safe from those who would not respect it, or do not know enough to do so, such as young children.
I am very grateful to be born in the United States. We are so blessed to live in this great nation. There is so much unrest and focus on things that are irrelevant, and the most important thing that we as Christians can do is to pray for our country. Thank God that you live in what is still the greatest country in the world, despite what politicians and others are doing to tear her down.
“And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.” Joel 2:13 NASB1995
“Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your indignation toward us to cease. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You not Yourself revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your lovingkindness, O Lord, And grant us Your salvation. I will hear what God the Lord will say; For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; But let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land. Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth springs from the earth, And righteousness looks down from heaven. Indeed, the Lord will give what is good, And our land will yield its produce. Righteousness will go before Him And will make His footsteps into a way.” Psalms 85:14-13 NASB1995
The psalmist wrote this for the nation of Judah, but I see it in the the United States of America. From school boards and town councils to the Oval Office, Christians are going to have to join together, on their knees, to restore our nation to it’s greatness. We have to denounce – not deny – the godlessness that is rampant in our country. If it is not scriptural, it is wrong. Are we as Christ followers guilty of sinning against God? Absolutely; every day. That doesn’t mean that we can just sit back on our hands and say, “well, I tried.” Prayer is immensely powerful, so if someone says that all they can do is pray; well, that’s the best thing any one of us can do! Take action. Do whatever you can.
“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.” — Patrick Henry at Virginia`s U.S. Constitution ratification convention
“The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.” — Samuel Adams at Massachusetts` U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788
We must fall back to the Founding Fathers and listen to them. The majority of them followed Christ. ALMIGHTY GOD gave us the greatest country in the world. We must fight the enemy of God and of man to protect and preserve her. I stand with other Christians and Patriots, and I am not ashamed.
All for one. One race, the human race. Ordained by God, the Creator. He created Adam, then he created Eve, and he told them to go and procreate and populate the earth.
Because of Adam and Eve’s bad decision, human kind were banished from the garden and placed in the world ruled by the enemy. Not because God wanted us gone from the garden and His Presence, but because man chose to separate himself from it. That hurt God, and we have continued to hurt Him with our bad decisions ever since. But the ALMIGHTY God wasn’t going to let us, His finest creatures, created in His likeness, to be destroyed by the enemy. He sent His Son, His own being, to earth to atone for our sins. ONE for ALL; once for all.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NASB1995
The sixth Commandment of the Ten says “No MURDER“, or “No MURDERING“. It was inaccurately translated in early translations from the Greek to say “no killing“. For centuries, there have been people who have used that to mean that any taking of a human life is wrong, but God was very clear on this if you study Scriptures.
There are things that the the sixth Commandment does not prohibit or forbid. One thing that is not prohibited is the killing of animals, because God gave them to use. In Genesis, God provides all animals for us to use, and in Leviticus, cruelty to animals is prohibited.
The LORD GOD made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21 NASB1995
GOD blessed Noah and his sons: He said, “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill the Earth! Every living creature—birds, animals, fish—will fall under your spell and be afraid of you. You’re responsible for them. All living creatures are yours for food; just as I gave you the plants, now I give you everything else. Except for meat with its lifeblood still in it—don’t eat that.” Genesis 9:1-4 MSG
A just war is not prohibited, nor is defending our faith and families, self defense, or administering justice – such as in capital punishment. Remember, our God is a Warrior GOD. Individual vengeance is not allowed, but a legitimate government. In Romans 13, Jesus tells us to be subject to our government. We are to respect and love the lives of others; to seek out and cherish the “neighbors” in our lives, because they are the image of GOD.
The sixth Commandment prohibits killing an innocent person, i.e. homicide. All HUMAN life is sacred, but animal lives are not sacred. There are marred and mangled people who do abhorrent, ugly things, but they are still in God’s image. The first murder is documented in Genesis, when Cain became angry at his brother Abel, and killed him. (Read Genesis 4) Negligent homicide is included in this, such as an accident caused by drunk driving, or an avoidable situation where someone is fatally injured. You can imagine other instances as well. By this Commandment, suicide and abortion are prohibited. Life has been cheapened in our society. Suicide doesn’t “end it” for family or for the person whose life is ended. There is a judgment for every person, no matter how they die. However, it is important to note that suicide is not a mortal sin. It is a sin but it is not unforgivable.
If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. Romans 8:10 NASB1995
EVERY life is precious to God. I suggest reading Psalm 139:13-17. Also, follow the science. Life begins at conception; it has been established that a human being is in the process of being formed at that point. Genetics are established at fertilization; it is a human life. Beethoven’s mother had TB, and his father had syphilis. Of his four siblings, one was deaf, one blind, one had dead, and one had TB – if his had an abortion, Beethoven wouldn’t have been born and the world would have missed out on a genius. But today, his mother would most likely have been advised to abort him. Think on that.
Abortion and euthanasia are murder. They are all the same. Even so, they are forgivable. Jesus came to forgive. Euthanasia is the direct and intentional taking of life – it is just doctor assisted suicide. Please understand that this is not the same as allowing a terminally ill person to die. It doesn’t mean to withhold palliative treatment, or needed pain medications. In Matthew 5, Jesus is talking about Commandments, and makes clear it is the SPIRIT of the law that we need to obey. When we have unjust or unrighteous anger, that personal anger is incipient murder, or murder in our hearts and with our mouth. 1 John 3:15 says that when we hate, we murder in our heart. When we call or think of someone as empty headed, stupid, a fool, dull, a moron, undeserving to live, or contemptible, we murder them in our heart. Instead, when we find ourselves feeling these things about someone, respond in KINDNESS. Don’t let the sun set on your malice or anger. It only hurts you.
“For GOD so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 NASB1995
Jesus was MURDERED for us, to save our lives, and for murderers. We did that. We murdered Him….. and GOD allowed us to murder Him. Jesus allowed us to murder Him. Without that, we wouldn’t have the Good News of the Gospel, which is that Jesus died to pardon murderers, which includes every single one of us, every human who ever or will ever live. That’s pretty amazing. I’m a murderer, but I am forgiven. Thank GOD. Can you say the same?
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My GOD, in whom I trust!” Psalms 91:1-2 NASB1995
What satisfies you? And what makes you happy? Is it your job? Your possessions? Your home, your car, your family, your bank account? I’ve had a great job. I’ve had a big house, full of nice things. I’ve had a husband who loved me, a bulging bank account, a fun vehicle to do road trips and exploring. But was I happy? We had our moments, but we were constantly looking for something more. The prophet Isaiah tells us:
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:2 NASB1995
All of those things, those actions, gave us temporary happiness, but none of it gave us – gave me – lasting Joy. In all of this, there were people and circumstances that hurt us. Some were unintentional, but some was very intentional. Anger and resentment stole my joy. It took several years and lots of hurt to find the place where I could hear the words of Jesus and let them soothe my bleeding heart. One of the first things necessary to healing is to learn to let the resentment go. Forgiveness….
“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:23, 29 NASB1995
“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
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.” Psalms 37:7-8 NASB1995
I think that many times we go searching for our joy and happiness in the things I’ve talked about above to cover up the anger and frustration we have with others. By covering up and ignoring those feelings, trying to hide it – or outrun it – we are only hurting ourselves. We want joy. We want peace. We want the hurting and the anger and the fear and frustration to just stop.
We WILL have trials in life. People will hurt us. They will leave us, they will disappoint us. Circumstances will change. This fallen world will hurt us. Expect it. The trials we go through are crucial to our maturity in Christ. They allow God to do His greatest works. They produce steadfastness in us. I don’t like what James says here, but he’s right.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 NASB1995
He says “Consider it all joy” – how is that possible? It’s actually very simple. Joy is a state of mind; we make the CHOICE to Rejoice. Joy is found solely and completely in the recognition of the Sovereignty of God. We are not alone, he says “my brethren” and he means we are connected, sons and daughters through God the Father, and brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. He reminds us that when we encounter all of the various trials, we know that they are the “testing”, like when gold and silver are subjected to fire to remove the impurities. Our testing will be unpleasant, uncomfortable, and painful but it will REFINE our faith.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you…” 1 Peter 1:3-4 NASB1995
READ verses 5-9, too! Endurance is an active hope, a living Hope in and through Jesus Christ our LORD. When it takes everything we have to hold on, even when it seems all hope is gone. Remember Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted….” Your faith produces endurance living by and for GOD, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing when we see Him. God prunes us so that we may be more fruitful, and to bring Him Glory; to deepen our dependence on Him and NOT to be be independent and dependent on ourselves. It is through dependence on God that we find true independence, and that is when we will find true happiness, satisfaction, and joy! Trials bring us closer to God “by breaking and subdividing the stubbornness of our hearts.” – Daniel Dyke, an English academic and Puritan. The proper Christian response to trials is to be a source of joy.
“…. for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13 NASB1995