mercy

Enemies

You can’t live a life of any type of significance without making enemies, or haters, if I may use that word. Now using these terms, I am not talking about people that legitimately just don’t like you or people that just don’t care for you as a person, because not everyone meshes well with everybody, you learned that in pre-school. We each are drawn to different types of people, and the people you hang with may not be my cup of tea. These people are not your enemies. Rather, enemies are those who seem to be on an assignment to destroy your life or disrupt your road to fulfilling God’s purpose for your life, and the scary part is that they don’t always show their true colors right away, and some we don’t recognize before it’s too late, because their maneuvers are very subtle. Of course, the Enemy and all of Hell’s demons become your enemies once you surrender your life over to Christ, but I don’t want to talk about them specifically.

So where is all this coming from? Well I have been reading Max Lucado’s book, “Facing Your Giants,” which goes through the life of David, and he pointed out that during the time David was on the run from Saul, there was an incident when he cut off a part of Saul’s garment without him knowing it, and later felt bad about it. The lesson learned is that even though our enemies are our enemies, they still belong to God, no matter what position they are in, whether they are friends, co-workers, parents, ministers, siblings, or even those people you really can’t fathom how or when they became your enemy. For David, Saul’s pursuit was driven by jealousy and envy, which in my opinion is the common determining factor, meaning that people out of their own misery and insecurities do what they can to bring you down with them or try to get over you.

Nevertheless, recognizing who our enemies may be, it’s easy to begin to talk bad about them, build a false sense of pride, and if you let it, you begin to hate them. The problem here is that hating someone the Bible classifies as murder, God vividly says He hates pride, and slander is always condemned in scripture, so obviously, should we get to these points, we need to reevaluate our heart and motives, because if the Lord truly is trying to elevate us and use us in ways that only He can, we must get rid of all these things. If for no other reason, James reminds us not to tear them down, even though these persons are our enemies and may have truly done or said some terrible things, because they, like us, were made in the image of God.

Furthermore, because of that understanding, as Lucado explained, they are still a part of God’s plan especially in your life, which could be to develop patience, mercy, forgiveness, faith, and or love, yet in the same way, He has a plan for them too, for the simple fact that they are alive. This means that even though they are behaving like anything but a child of God, they are not out of reach to be redeemed by God. So with that being said, in dealing with our enemies we should be bearing fruit, honoring God, especially love since we are commanded to love our enemies. Likewise, it got me thinking some more as it relates to how we pray.

If you haven’t discovered this on your own, there are some scary prayers in the Bible, especially by David, that petition the Lord’s judgement and wrath on our enemies. So as a disclaimer, there is a time to pray those types of prayers, but I doubt your life is as insane as David’s so I can’t imagine you having to pray those prayers on a regular basis, just use wisdom with pure motives. On the other hand, because we acknowledge the fact the even our enemies are made in the image of God who still has the ability to change their hearts, our prayers should be more compassionate, because they may be in a spiritual war that they aren’t even aware they are in or deeply struggling in ways we aren’t privy to knowing. Your prayers can truly save their lives, which would make yours less difficult, allowing the possibility of a friend. To put it another way, if how you pray about and over your enemies they pray for you, would your prayers change? This is important to consider because you have been or still may be an enemy to someone.

Bottom line, your response to your enemies can change lives, just let the Spirit of God lead you in dealing with them in whatever your situation may be. It’s definitely something worth mastering, because being you for a purpose will always draw attention and create a response, both positive and negative.

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Beautiful Mercy for Ugly Sin

This love letter is amazing. As I read it and study more, the more I learn the heart of God and how much He truly loves me in spite of. Anyhow, there are four people that come to mind when I think of those that Satan very specifically targeted, not just a demon: Peter, Job, Judas, and David. Of course there may be others, but they are all I got. The first three I mentioned you are probably familiar with, but still going through Chronicles, I read about Satan’s encounter with David, and the story I knew but Satan’s role was unfamiliar.

Briefly, Satan was attempting to bring down Israel and used David to do so, by swaying him to pride and mistrust. You can read 1 Chronicles 21 for all the details. By counting the people David’s pride caused him to think that his success as the king thus far was by him alone, and what he had attained and accomplished was his doing. On the other hand, in doing so it was another slap in God’s face because it was as if David didn’t really believe the promise God made to multiply. He didn’t trust that God was doing what He said He would do. What I find the most intriguing are the events thereafter.

After David realized what had happened and God dealt with him, he was driven to build an altar and make a sacrifice to compel the Lord to stop the plague. However, in doing so, due to his guilt and shame, he nearly backed out because he was afraid, but the mercy of God is incredible. For the same place where David humbled himself after being so full of himself that God had to correct him, the place that represented one of his most costly mistakes and or sins, God still used it to build His temple.

So often in our own lives we mess up big and God has to deal with us, but when He does it’s in such a way that only He can get glory. God takes our mistakes and creates miracles. He uses our faults and failures as building blocks to an amazing testimony of His faithfulness, mercy and power. And truth be told, like David, it can be scary coming to God knowing just how flat out wrong we were, but His compassions are new every morning and His love endures forever. Coming to Him with a repented and humbled heart, the Lord is always willing to receive us with open arms. God will take the very thing hurt us and use it as a platform to help us and to see His promises come to fruition. David prepared the way for his son, Solomon, to build the temple of the Lord in the same place he built an altar.

In the end of his preparations for the next generation who would build the temple, David encouraged them. (See 1 Chronicles 22:17-19). He reminded them that the Lord was with them and everything was taken care of, so all they needed to do was focus on the task. He told them to devote and seek the Lord and begin to build the sanctuary so that things could be set in place.

The same speaks for us. We must continually seek the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33) and surrender all of who we are to Him, heart, mind, body and soul (Matt. 22:37). As we do so, we begin to build our temples, our bodies, the place where the Holy Spirit resides (1 Cor. 3:16) and we allow those precious fruit and sacred things of God to fill our hearts and minds that will give witness to the name of Christ, like joy, peace, forgiveness, love, and hope. These things will give room for the work of God to go forth in our lives and through our lives that the Name of the Lord may be known by whoever interacts with us as we use our gifts, talents, passions, and abilities to usher in His presence and leave His sweet aroma wherever we go. We have to prepare the way and give God the ugly things, the broken things, the sin that hinders the process, so that His beautiful mercy and love can cover it and be our foundation to build on. In doing so we have mastered the art of being ourselves for a purpose.

Lessons from Eden: Part III

So recently in a weekly group I attend we’ve discussed the first three chapters of Genesis, creation and the fall of man, and oh my, there is so much more to the story. I have written in the past about lessons from the Garden, but there are some more that I want to share that my eyes were just opened to see.

tree of the kgeFirst off, one of the lingering questions in the story is where Adam was during the whole conversation between Eve and the Serpent. Well in reading, the Bible does assume he was there, but how close is up for discussion. Nevertheless, lets assume that he in fact was there beside Eve as she was talking to the snake. The first lesson here is that silence is not always golden. Especially considering that he was the leader of that home, he should have spoken up when the Serpent began to misquote God’s word, but he didn’t because maybe he was just shocked that the snake was speaking or intrigued by what it was saying. Still, as we often do today, he didn’t speak up because he possibly didn’t see the threat in the lie that Serpent was speaking or in the Serpent himself who was said to be subtle and cunning. This very act of silence that we see here has shown it’s effects on our society. These subtle lies and doubts that the Enemy has whispered in our ears to make us question or reinvent the Word of God has desensitized us and confused even Christians as to what is right and wrong, and our society has greatly fallen because of it. It emphasizes our need to have continuous fellowship with God, as they did in the Garden, because for that brief time they were apart from God for one reason or the other, Satan slipped in and well, here we are today. God’s word is the truth and we must speak up for Christians have been silent for far too long and sin has prevailed in this society because of it, but yet we want to be popular and accepted and don’t want people to look at us weird or call us names, yet that is what was promised when we signed up to be followers of Christ. Now more than ever we need to not only speak up with the Word of God no matter how small or trivial the matter seems, but live a corresponding life showing that right is right and wrong is wrong.

As just said, for that brief moment Adam and Eve were not walking with God as they had done pretty much every day, so what happened? I don’t know, but what I do know is that we all miss the mark at times and for one reason or another we get out of touch with God. That doesn’t mean we just become heathens overnight, but perhaps we get too busy or life gets so chill that we forget our need for God, yet it’s that time we are out of fellowship that the Enemy likes to attack us and makes us question who God is, who we are and what we are supposed to do as he did with Eve. Our priorities get mixed up, we become anxious and worrisome, questioning the power and provision of God, pride sets in, and or we become apathetic, and before we even realize it, our thinking begins to change and that space between us and God thickens, our language changes, and sooner or later we fall into sin, whether worry, cussing, fornication, getting drunk, pride, bitterness, anger, jealousy, or whatever your vice may be.

So we mess up to some degree or another and feel so icky that we do the worse thing and pull away from God completely out of guilt, like Adam and Eve. We try to hide ourselves and our sin as if God doesn’t already know. We are afraid to pray, stop listening to devotionals, block out people from our lives, stop going to church because we feel so ashamed of what we did or how far off track we’ve gotten, because we don’t want people’s perceptions to change about us or let down those that looked up to us. So like Adam and Eve, we go under a rock or hide in a bush and put on a mask so no one can really see us. But God in His awesome love, grace, and mercy went out looking for them even though he was well aware of what they had done. He does the same with us, we just have to be willing to respond like Adam. God didn’t jump on their case or write them off from history because of their sin, but instead he covered them, though there were still consequences. As a body of believers, we should have the same mindset of God and should someone go missing from church or you notice a different pattern of behavior or attitude, reach out to them and show them the way home without automatically condemning or judging them, but show them the same grace, mercy, and love God showed to you. Yet, we neglect to do that far too often for a long time now and so many have slipped through the cracks and have been forgotten. So as much as you are able, check up on each other.

The last thing I want to point out that was pointed out to me is that God said not to eat of the tree originally, yet Eve told the Serpent that they were not to touch it nor eat it. Credit to her. Why? From Eve, this simple recall shows a great sense of maturity that we can apply today by not touching sin. Far too often we tease sin and put ourselves in compromising situations because we want the experience or we want to see how far we can get without actually sinning, but how much does that go as planned. More times than not we go further then we desired and do what we said we wouldn’t do and things get messy. We just wanted to touch it. This lesson from Eve urges us to just completely abstain from sin as much as we can, whatever is in our control, the choices we make every day. Though we can only control so much and get tempted, through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God we are able to not touch, preventing us from tasting the fruit.

This is one of the more lengthy posts I’m sorry, but I’m glad I was able to share and I hope and pray it blessed and encouraged you. Take these lessons from Eden and use them every day to more and more be you for a purpose.

If you want to check out other lessons from Eden, check them out on the links below:

Lessons from Eden

Lessons from Eden: Part II

Jewel of the Garden