A boy wanted to be a doctor. As a child his parents gave him a toy doctor kit and he would hold the plastic stethoscope to the chest of stuffed animals and give pretend shots to anyone who would allow him to put the plastic syringe to their arm. As he grew he would watch television shows about doctors; he knew the names and back stories of every major character in his favorite shows. He would drive around the hospital and sometimes even go inside.
He bought himself a pair of scrubs, a white lab coat, and a real stethoscope, and he would wear them around town. His chest would swell each time someone called him Doctor. He decided it was not important to go to real medical school, after all, he does look like a doctor already and why go through all the hassle of study when all he needed was the outfit; or so he thought.
One day there was a terrible accident. Upon seeing the young man they urged him to help.
“Doctor, do something!” The crowd pleaded. “Or they will die.”
Of course he didn’t know what to do. He fumbled around and tried his best to re-enact the scenes he seen hundreds of times on his favorite television shows, he yelled “Stat!” and “screamed for someone to hand him a “thing-a-ma-jig.” He didn’t know how to check a pulse, stop the bleeding, or bandage a wound. He tried to fake it, but faking it did not save any lives that day.
Perhaps he should have went to medical school? Maybe he should have applied himself to studies instead of appearance that merely brought him a false sense of security?
Thankfully, this is just a fictitious story. Yet, this scene is played out everyday within the Body of Christ.
Too many Christians are getting the Word from short blips and memes, or watching t.v. sermons, or worse going to a church where scripture is never mentioned, but my, my, my, what a great time they had, huh. They may own a Bible, but do they read it? They may pick it up occasionally, but do they study it?
If you are a Christian and I ask you where is your Bible and when was the last time you read it, what would you answer?
If someone asked you what do you believe and why do you believe, would you have a confident answer? And if your answer went against the grain of the person asking you, would you be bold enough to still give your answer without wavering? If you were speaking to someone who is well versed in their unbelief, (an atheist, for example) do you have enough of His Word in you to contend for the faith?
This is not meant to condemn anyone, rather I hope if this speaks to you it will encourage you to rise up and take your place.
But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness [though it is not certain that you will], you are still blessed [happy, to be admired and favored by God]. Do not be afraid of their intimidating threats, nor be troubled or disturbed [by their opposition]. But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:14-15
As followers, imitators, of Christ, we have been given a commission:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20
You have no need to fear! Study His Word, submit yourself to Christ, and when the opportunity comes (and it will) He will give you the words to say. He will bring back to your remembrance all He has taught you. But you can’t remember what you have not taken the time to hear and to know.
My friend, we are in the days where evil is called good and good is called evil, many are falling from the faith, false prophets are on the stage, the wolves are dining on the ignorance of lazy believers, people are seeking to have their ears tickled and there are many out there who will accomodate their carnal desires. Christians are being persecuted around the world, and even here in the USA our Christian faith is being attacked. We must be vigilant!
Difficult Times Will Come!
But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Do these verses from 2 Timothy sound like it fresh out of the mainstream media, Hollywood, your FaceBook newsfeed, or the world outside your front door?
What is apologetics? It is not apologizing for your faith, nor is it defending God, because He does not need us to defend Him, It is the discipline of giving the reason for your hope, applying scripture, it is combating unbelief.
There are many resources out there to help you. The Bible should ALWAYS be your first resource. Enroll in a course on apologetics. I have found some really good ministries out there. Check out:
Frances Chan has a heart for God and people. He is sure to inspire you!
People matter! Souls matter!
So, the next time you have the opportunity, open up your mouth and let Him out! We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth.
Stay connected to the Body of Christ, stay in fellowship with your local body of believers. We are not meant to be alone. We are many parts, but one body, we need each other.
Stay in the Word.
Stay close to Him.
Pray, commune with God, through Jesus.
Be filled with His Holy Spirit.
Open your front door and get out there!
And one more reminder… the offense will come, and when it does, lay down your pride, your ego, yourself, and do not be offended, nor lash out, stay in His peace, walk in love, be gentle, yet firm, and may you firmly grasp the knowledge of His love for you.
I close with this, Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Be Free & Stay Free
“Do it!” He whispered in her ear, as his unseen hand cupped hers, guiding the razor to her forearm. “This is your only way out.”
Her hand trembled and her vision blurred from the tears as she held the razor between her fingers. Cutting herself use to bring momentary relief from the pain inside of her, the warm, crimson red, flow of her own blood was a drain to the sickness inside of her. The pain of each cut was just enough to dull the despair. But this time she would cut deep enough to kill the pain forever.
Daily living drained her of strength. She no longer had energy to maintain the facade of normalcy. To get out of bed in the mornings brought increasing anxiety. She was constantly exhausted and the effort to keep breathing was an uphill battle. She had no where to turn; every bridge burnt in disappointment, rejection, and failure. Though she sought solace through relationships, alcohol, and every other substitute, it was no where to be found.
He felt her waiver and he knew if he allowed her to stall then she would change her mind. He mustn’t let that happen again. The other demons did an outstanding job separating her from help, it was his job to finish her, and there would be hell to be pay if he failed.
“Push her or get out of the way!” The other demons jeered.
“Silence!” He stood to his full height. “This takes cunning and precision.”
“Here, let me help you. She just needs a little reminding.” Another demon pushed his way through the others to join the rollicking. Shame enjoyed tagging along with the others. Though he was never the first demon to attack, he was an excellent grubber, and he didn’t mind feeding on the entails. It was Shames job to keep her in place, and to stay her from moving forward, by reminding her how worthless and hopeless she is.
“There is no help for you, if ever there was, because people would find out who you really are and what you have really done.” Shame echoed in her mind. “You stink, you’re worthless, and a total screw-up! Who would want you if they knew you? No one, that’s who!”
Memories of every relationship she gave herself to made her feel sick to her stomach. She closed her eyes tight to fight off the memories of the shameful and degrading acts. Shame reminded her of every piece of herself she gave away in each promiscuous act, until the purity of love was buried beyond recognition.
“Excellent work, Libertine!” Shame patted the lustful demon on the back. “I appreciate that you make my job easy.”
“You wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for me, you little imp!” Lust bellowed.
“Your own father didn’t even want you.” Rejection taunted her with memories of the abuse she endured at the hand of her father. “You were a terrible daughter! Everyone knew it was your fault!”
“You call yourself a Christian? Why look at you!” Religion pointed his finger at her, poking her with each word for emphasis. “You cry and God doesn’t hear you, because you are weak!”
“No one wants you!” Another demon chimed in. “Go ahead and off yourself, you won’t even be missed.”
Confusion stepped in and led the others in an orchestra of accusations, while Murder gripped her hand on the razor. “Kill yourself! Do it! You are worthless! No one loves you! No one wants you! No one cares! God will never forgive you! If there was a God why does your life suck? You are a whore! You are stupid! You are ugly! There is no hope for you! Everything you touch is cursed! Die! Die! Die!…” Accusations and taunts circled around her head, confusing her, making her dizzy.
Her hand trembled, her tears fell, and though she wanted it all to end, there was a small voice…
“Come to Me.” The small voice softly beckoned. “I am your Healer and Deliverer.”
“Jesus?” Her voice was barely audible.
“What did she say?!” The demons stepped back just enough to loosen the grip on her. Although they could barely hear her words, they sensed a power coming forth, though it was faint they knew even a sliver of faith in what she spoke would send them flying.
“Call on Me.” The soft clear voice broke through the confusion and spoke directly to her heart. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool. Come.”
“God, help me.” She cried.
The lesser demons began to flee, they knew they were no match for this war. They could feel the change in the atmosphere and their shadow began to fade.
“Stop her!” Murder screamed. But it was too late…
“Jesus save me.” The sound of the Name she spoke came through as thunder, throwing the demons off her.
The demons stood in the background, eyes narrowed, poison salivating from their lips with each exhale, waiting and watching. They trembled and covered their eyes when He entered the room, unable to look upon His glory. To the girl He was Love unconditional, to the demons He was a consuming fire. Not even the largest demon was fool enough to think of staying in His presence.
Immediately confusion was replaced with peace. She laid the razor down and wept.
“Oh, God, forgive me.” She wept. “I have sinned and turned so far away from You.”
In her brokenness, she laid down and confessed her sins and asked God to forgive her. “Jesus, if You are willing, You can heal me.” She cried.
“I am willing, be healed. You are forgiven.”
Her tears of sorrow soon turned into tears of joy as Gods Holy Spirit ministered love to her. Where rejection once resided, she now found acceptance. Where hatred once fanned the flames of unforgiveness, she found release and forgiveness. Where there was no hope, she found hope. And her weakness was now made strong, through the Name she called upon, Jesus, her Redeemer.
I wish I could tell you, dear reader, that the demons never tried to come back. But I can tell you that when they did, they found no place in her, the door to them was forever closed, as she continued to cling to Jesus and trust Him. This is her story, this is her testimony, though she was lost, she was found. What the devil meant to use to destroy her, God used for her good and for His glory. As we read the words of her story, we can be reminded, we are never so low or too far gone, that God can’t reach us. We have an Advocate, through Jesus, to God the Father. We are sealed with His Spirit and He is forever with us.
What is your story? Let it become your testimony of Gods redeeming love.
Call on Jesus.
Be Free & Stay Free
Thank God for humor! Right?
Sometimes I think my life is an episode of I Love Lucy. Just like Lucy, I often find myself in ridiculous moments.
One year for Christmas my youngest daughter made me a gift of a decorated jar, filled with 365 notes of encouragement, one for each day of the year. I love those handmade gifts!
One note read: What would Lucy do? Don’t do that!
Yes, my children inherited my humor and ability to laugh at ourselves.
God gave us the gift of laughter. Life can be serious and we need the reprieve of some comic relief.
Years ago, there was a women’s conference and I wanted to go. It was a couple hours away drive and I thought it would be nice to have another lady (or two) ride with me. I asked my pastor if he knew anyone who might like to go with me.
Suddenly it became an event and I was appointed the one in charge of all the arrangements. It went from having a lady or two to ride with, to a couple van loads of women. It is never a straight drive from point A to point B with a bunch of women; especially when one woman has taken a fluid pill before departure.
With each bathroom stop, the fluid pill lady would run into a bathroom while the rest of us watched the clock tick. Of course I didn’t factor in the multiple bathroom breaks when leaving the church parking lot, so I had to make up the time on the highway so we wouldn’t be late.
“Uh, Stacey, the angels don’t fly past the speed limit!” Gotta love the side seat drivers. “Slow down!”
We finally arrive in the nick of time, and all the ladies pile out of the vans like circus clowns, making a mad dash to the entrance doors; leaving me, my aunt, and Nancy, behind.
Nancy was a dear friend and sweet woman. She was not in good health and was almost not going to come on the trip because she was worried her handicap would hinder her. I called the event in advance to be sure it would be handicap accessible and she would not have to climb any stairs to her seat. I really wanted Nancy to come with us because I believed it would be uplifting for her spirit. After some coaxing she agreed to come.
So there we are; myself, my aunt, and Nancy, lagging behind in the dust of the other women.
“You go ahead so you can get a seat.” Nancy said. “I will catch up.”
“Absolutely not! We are not leaving you.” My aunt and I assured her.
We made our way into the event and the ushers graciously led us to the special needs section, right up front, to the right of the stage. Turned out to be the best seats in the house!
The rest of the ladies were seated on the stage, behind where the speaker would be speaking. As we were taking our seats, the ladies waved to us, joyful to be on the stage seating. But, when the event began, it turned out they didn’t have good seating after all, they had to watch the speaker from behind. Turns out stage seating is not the best seating after all. There we are; us in the front row and them on the stage, watching us watch the speaker.
Halfway through the event I had to use the restroom, because I didn’t take the opportunity during one of our umpteen bathroom breaks on the road. Hey, someone had to keep the engine revving!
I, as inconspicuously as I could, duck down and creep out of the row, walk all the way to the back exit door of the sanctuary (it was a very large church), and made my way to the restroom. After I exit the sanctuary I hear something drop. I look down and it is a large paper sign:
Reserved for Special Needs
Yep, when I sat down I didn’t remove the sign that was taped to the chair, and you guessed it…. it stuck to my bottom.
I laugh to myself, because at this point I didn’t think anyone saw this little blunder.
I get back to my seat and I whisper to my aunt, “You are never going to believe what happened.”
“We know! We know!” She say’s, laughing, tears rolling down her cheeks.
I look over to Nancy and she is laughing. All three of us trying to control ourselves in this most “spiritual” atmosphere. I look up to the stage and all the ladies are laughing too. They may not have been able to see the front of the speaker, but they sure did get a good view of my back side. Everyone saw me walking, dignified, through the sanctuary with a big ol’ sign stuck to my bottom.
The event was being video recorded and I often wonder what people must think of the ladies in the background of the stage, laughing until they cried, while the speaker was preaching to the audience. Maybe they would think the ladies had a touch of the Holy Ghost giggles.
To this day I look back on that trip with fondness and I laugh at the memory. (I will have to share the adventure of the ride home in another post.)
Yes, laughter is good medicine. We have to take a step back and just enjoy the moments, because those moments are what make memories.
Be Free & Stay Free
Many of the prophesies given to Hosea have been fulfilled.
The removal of Israel as a nation and it’s restoration. The removal of Baal from the lips of Jewish people, a name now forgotten among them, and the grafting in of the Gentiles into faith.
Eloquently, Hosea reveals the valley of troubles needed for Israel to become a nation once again. Of course we now know it was the holocaust.
It has taken centuries for these prophecies to become fulfilled.
There were two outstanding reasons for the destruction of ancient Israel.
God separates the people or brethren of Hosea from the Nation itself. The mother or nation had become corrupt through trade with other nations. Through that trade the nation had become dependent.
They saw trade as the means of existence rather than the fruitfulness of the land God had given them. They no longer glorified God but instead found strength through their status in the world and desire for foreign goods.
Secondly, they started to diversify by accepting foreign gods. The names of the Baals, the piercing of the ears and noses which signified who they spiritual served.
In their desire to diversify they had accepted and interchanged the name of Baal with the name of God. They began worshiping Baal and ascribing that name to God.
God said they will no longer call Me by the name of Baal. (Hosea 2:16)
God had revealed Himself from the days of Abraham, till today, through many names which revealed His character and nature.
Now Israel gave God a name and He called it idolatry.
The Kingdom of God is progressive. He has unveiled Himself by His actions throughout the existence of man and in the process attributed a name to the actions.
Human progressiveness found in any nation outside the realm of God’s Kingdom leads to an acceptance of sin and a distortion of God’s character or outright denial of His existence. It leads to celebrating the distortion in individual identity. It becomes idolatry in its most vile form, the worship of self.
The prophecy found in Hosea 1:10 “You shall be called the Sons of the Living God,” will not apply.
God’s progressiveness is found in the revelation of Himself to man and the power of the revelation to bring personal identity to the individual.
In these last days the full revelation of God’s nature and character was revealed in and through Yeshua, or in English, Jesus. There is no other name given among men in which they can be saved, or in other words find and walk in created purpose for living.
It should not surprise a christian when they hear the name of Jesus being used as a curse. It only reveals the heart of the person vainly using His name. Disobedience to the first commandment (do not use my name vainly) can only be done by using Jesus Christ.
His name is used daily worldwide both as a blessing and power to change and vainly as a curse. No other name is used in such a way. This gives us both joy and grief. When a believer hears the name of Jesus being used vainly his or her heart is grieved because of the Spirit within them. But it also proves the very nature of Jesus as God. The disobedience of another can actually build our own personal faith.
Jesus was very clear in stating anyone can be forgiven for misuse of His name and that of The Father. We should not make final judgment of a person misusing Jesus name, but our judgment should be of their personal need for salvation.
In closing, Hosea has much to say to our world today. The power of prophetic relevance, the tendency for a nation to be corrupted by its leadership and not by it’s people, progressiveness which is born from the human heart rather than the revealed nature of God brings destruction to personal identity.
There are many gods in this world but only One true God and He is found through and in the name of Jesus Christ the Redeemer and Deliver of all mankind; any other name given as way to God is idolatry.
Be Free & Stay Free
(This post was written, and shared with permission, by my husband, Jim Kessler.)
Have you ever argued with God about something He asked you to do? I mean, has God ever asked you to do something that would require complete trust and faith in Him, and you were afraid because you felt insignificant, so you question if He was really speaking to you?
Yea, I think anyone who has asked God to use them is surprised when He does, especially the first time. I know I was.
Years ago, I had a dear friend who had a ministry for people just out of prison. She loved the Lord and she wanted to love people into His Kingdom.
One day I get a call from her. “Stacey, I got this guy and he is going to be going back to his hometown soon and he needs to get saved. Come over here and get him saved!”
I love this woman. Her and I are very much alike. It’s all about Jesus! Nothing else matters.
So I throw on my super hero evangelist cape, hop in my car, and bee-line right over. Oh, the zeal!
I met them in one of her houses she was renovating for ministry. Inside was covered with drop cloths, paint, and ladders. She made the introductions and it didn’t take long for me to realize he wasn’t expecting me. Yes, my friend put us both on the spot (or was it God?).
I break the ice with him and talk about the things in the natural, asked him questions about himself, like how did he end up in prison, you know, the obvious ice breakers.
Poor guy, there was no escaping this encounter; he was blocked in by two women who were determined that this was the day of his salvation.
Transitioning from the natural, I questioned him about his beliefs in God. Then I shared my testimony with him and how I met Jesus and He changed my life.
Pause here for a moment. I want you to know something. You know all the stuff (sin) you have done before you met Jesus? All the injuries and the shame that came with it? My friend, you no longer have to be ashamed. When you accepted Jesus you became a new creation. While we are no longer the same person we were, the experience of our past can be a treasure chest for souls. There are parts of my story that I only share on a “need to know” basis. We need to be real and honest when we share Christ. If He saved me, He can save you. No one is beyond His reach.
People need to know Christ died for us while we were still sinners, to reconcile us to the Father, and only through Him are we free from the bondage of our past.
Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]. For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1-2
As I was sharing the Gospel with him, I could feel God’s love for him, and I knew this was a Holy Spirit orchestrated meeting.
The guy asked me how he can be saved. I told him to confess, repent, and receive Jesus.
I asked him if he was ready to receive Jesus.
“Yes!” He answered.
The reverent simplicity of a prayer from a contrite heart reaches the ear and heart of God. We celebrate with hugs and tears, then after giving him instructions on his first steps in his new life, I say my good byes.
But God wasn’t done yet!
As I am preparing to leave Holy Spirit speaks to me.
“He needs the Baptism of Holy Spirit.”
Now, I have never laid hands on anyone to receive the Baptism of Holy Spirit before. Although I have wanted to, I was too afraid. What if God didn’t show up? It would be a big let down. To be honest, I didn’t think God would use someone like me, there were far more qualified people.
So there I am, in my mind, arguing with God and He didn’t budge.
Do you know what courage is? It is being afraid and stepping out anyway. Thank God for His courage in us.
I turn around and say, “Look, you are about to go home a new man and you will be faced with old temptations. You need power to be a witness of Gods grace to your wife, family, and friends. You are not the same man they used to know. Do you want this power?”
“Yes!” He said.
“I’m going to pray for you.” I said. “His Holy Spirit is going to come upon you and fill you. I want you to lift your hands, open your mouth and begin to speak.”
I barely had my hand on his shoulder and I don’t think more than a sentence came out of my mouth, when the Holy Spirit fell on him so mighty, he began to praise God in heavenly tongue.
As this was happening, him praising God, my friend praising God, me standing there with my mouth hanging open in complete awe, a certain male minister came in the door. This minister comes from a denomination that does not believe God can use women in ministry, especially to men. Let me tell ya, this minister walked in the door just in time to catch the guy falling out under the power of the Holy Spirit.
There were some lessons to be learned that day.
A man out of prison learned about God’s great love and met Jesus.
Another man learned God can use anyone He chooses.
And me? I learned it’s not about me. It’s all about Him. And when He say’s go, then go! Because He is already there.
Be Free & Stay Free
Real love calls for repentance. Real love will tell you the truth; you are going to stand before a Holy God.
Real love will press in. God does love you, come to Him as you are, but you can not stay there. The blood of Jesus washes you clean.
Repentance is not an insincere apology.
Repentance is owning your sin, through confession, being broken before the Lord and turning away from sin.
We don’t accidently sin. We make a choice.
When we were kids our mothers would ask us, “If your friends jump off a bridge, are you going to too?”
We can not act like, or do what, the rest of the world is doing. We are called to a higher standard, a Holy standard.
If you fall, repent and get back up.
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]. 1 John 1:9
Be Free & Stay Free
I am not intimidated, nor ashamed, to share my faith in Jesus Christ. While it is foolishness to the perishing, the man who is wise in his own eyes, it is life to those of us who have put our trust in Jesus.
There are some who are afraid to share there faith, but fear has no place in the rejuvenated heart of a believer.
The attack on Christianity has been turned up a few degrees. We are being flanked from all sides, politics, schools, and Hollywood, but even more so on the personal front, in our homes, relationships, and churches. We are at a crossroad where we must choose a side. There is no place for lukewarm Christians. It is time to get off the fence.
Some may justify their silence by saying, “Faith is a personal matter.”
Our faith in Jesus Christ was never meant to be kept a secret. If it were to be hush-hush then Jesus would have never told us to go into all the world and make disciples. We are not illegitimate children or mistresses. We belong to God, through Jesus, we are His children, His Bride.
No person volunteers to have their chest cut open for heart surgery unless they understood they needed surgery to live. Only then would they submit to a surgeons knife for a life saving operation. But, how would this person know they needed a new heart unless a doctor told them?
But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher (messenger)? Romans 10:14
I do not get offended when someone attacks my faith. I do not fear their rejection; I fear for their soul.
We can not force anyone to accept Christ, salvation is a free gift and a person must choose. It is Holy Spirit who calls us to Him, it is our responsibility to open our mouth. We are not God’s lawyers, we are His witness to His saving grace.
Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15-16
Let us get out of our comfort zones and throw away our excuses and purpose to live our faith out loud and to walk worthy of the calling.
Stay in the Word and in prayer. You do not have to be afraid of what you should say, His Spirit will bring it all back to remembrance to you, but you can’t remember what you have not known. So read your Bible daily, meditate on His Word day and night.
When they bring you before the synagogues and the magistrates and the authorities, do not be worried about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:11-12
The world is getting darker and now is our opportunity to shine bright.
Be Free & Stay Free
Does it ever feel like things are not going the way you think they should? I mean, you are trying to do everything right and be a person of integrity, but it seems the Godless people are flourishing?
Yea, I had a few minutes pity party for myself today.
It only took a minute for me to remember…
“If the world hates you [and it does], know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love [you as] its own and would treat you with affection. But you are not of the world [you no longer belong to it], but I have chosen you out of the world. And because of this the world hates you.” John 15:18-19
Thank You, Holy Spirit, for the reminder.
Be Free & Stay Free
There was a boy who was being bullied. Everyday the neighborhood kids would taunt and tease him. And everyday the little boy would come home with bruises and tears.
There was one particular bully who seemed like a giant in the boy’s eyes. He was the meanest bully of them all. Now this giant of a bully would incite the other children to throw rocks at the boy, push him down, and call him names. He would spread lies about the little boy and no one would question if the lies were true; even the most outrageous lies.
The boy tried to ignore the bullying and be nice to the bullies, for he thought if he were nice to them then maybe they would like him and stop terrorizing him. So the boy would offer gifts to them. But the bullies took his gifts, scoffed at him, pushed him down, then demanded more gifts. No matter how nice he was, or how many he gifts he gave them, it was never enough.
Soon the little boy stopped going outside. He stayed in his room, scared, sad, and alone.
His father, wanting to help his young son, enrolled him in self defense classes.
“Son, I don’t want you to go around looking for fights, because the fights will come to you.” The father said. “But I don’t want you to be afraid or defenseless to stand your ground. When you stand strong, most bullies will run away. Sometimes you will come across a giant of a bully and you will have to rise up and face him.”
In the class the little boy met other boys and they became friends. As he grew in courage and wisdom he no longer felt defenseless.
It wasn’t too long after, the little boy had to put into practice what he learned. One day the boy rounded a corner and came face to face with the giant of a bully and his gang.
“Get out of my way!” The giant of a bully demanded.
But the little boy stood his ground.
“Are you deaf? I said get out of the way!” The bully sneered with a shove to the boy.
Yet, the little boy held his ground.
“Are you blind, too?” The bully mocked. “Can’t you see my gang with me? You are out numbered!”
Still the boy did not back down.
The bully’s gang began to get nervous at the newfound boldness of the little boy. Some joined in with jeering the boy and some ran away.
Soon other children started to gather and stood beside the boy. Even though the bully continued to scream threats, the boy and his friends were not intimidated. With each threat the bully uttered, the boy and his friends took a step forward, pushing the bully back.
The little boy was no longer afraid to stand his ground, even if it meant bumps and bruises. If he had stayed hidden alone he would have never known there were other kids who would stand beside him to face the bullies down and send them running. He could stand and not give up any ground. He could advance and take the bully’s ground from him. He just had to be courageous and put into practice all he had learned.
In many ways we are like this little boy. We are bullied everyday. Though it may not be a bully in the form of boy on the street throwing rocks at us, but the adversary we face is very real.
The Bible says our adversary is the devil and he is very sneaky and stealth in his attack. Sometimes his attack is so blatant we doubt we are seeing what we are seeing. He knows our weak spots and he aims to hit it hard. When his frontal attacks don’t work he tries to come in through the backdoor to disqualify us; through temptations, attacking our marriages and our family, our finances, our health. He will use people, things, our past, and our minds against us. He is a dirty fighter.
Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.] After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be].
1 Peter 5:8-10
He will hit, hit, hit us until we are too weary to even fight back. His fancy foot work exhausts us and we just want to get out of the fight and go to sleep. But, my friends, this is not the time to sleep.
Jesus knew the battle we are in. He warned us, if the world hates you, remember it hated Him first. “Listen carefully: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves [have no self-serving agenda]”. Matthew 10:16
It is difficult, I get it, to not feel the suffocating presence of evil around us. Ten years ago we would have never imagined the blatant attacks against our Christian faith as we are experiencing. We must remember it is a spiritual war and the attack is against Christ, His Truth, and His elect. It is a battle for souls.
When the world seems to want to hurry up and get to hell, we must put on our battle clothes and fight! We don’t fight like the world. Their battle plan is to destroy, wreak havoc, create confusion and chaos. The world uses intimidation tactics.
The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6
I don’t know about you, but I will admit that sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I get angry and I want to lash out and just slap some sense in people. Even in writing this post I had to delete some of what I wrote (well… because it was me talking and being very carnal). It is difficult to not get caught up in the politics of the world. Sin abounds, but His grace, my friends, His grace abounds even more.
How did Jesus turn the world upside down? His love! He spoke the truth and it stepped on people’s toes. He knew His purpose, He knew He was going to the cross, He even knew who was going to betray Him, yet He loved. He was bold and not afraid of “popular opinion,” because only Truth is able to set the captives free.
The early church were revolutionaries! They were imprisoned, stoned to death, crucified, beheaded, and scattered. Yet, they didn’t take to the streets and burn the cities down. They didn’t go on a smear tactic campaign. They continued in Christ and boldly proclaimed the Gospel message.
For Jews demand signs (attesting miracles), and Greeks pursue [worldly] wisdom and philosophy, but we preach Christ crucified, [a message which is] to Jews a stumbling block [that provokes their opposition], and to Gentiles foolishness [just utter nonsense], but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles), Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. [This is] because the foolishness of God [is not foolishness at all and] is wiser than men [far beyond human comprehension], and the weakness of God is stronger than men [far beyond the limits of human effort]. 1 Corinthians 1:22-25
I ask God, how can I make a difference? I feel inadequate. I feel outnumbered.
I (and you) make a difference with Christ in us. He has already equip us with all we need to be victorious! We have His Holy Spirit. We can do ALL things through Christ Who strengthens us! He is not setting us up for failures. He is for us!
Just look at your own calling, believers; not many [of you were considered] wise according to human standards, not many powerful or influential, not many of high and noble birth. But God has selected [for His purpose] the foolish things of the world to shame the wise [revealing their ignorance], and God has selected [for His purpose] the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong [revealing their frailty]. God has selected [for His purpose] the insignificant (base) things of the world, and the things that are despised and treated with contempt, [even] the things that are nothing, so that He might reduce to nothing the things that are, so that no one may [be able to] boast in the presence of God. But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God [revealing His plan of salvation], and righteousness [making us acceptable to God], and sanctification [making us holy and setting us apart for God], and redemption [providing our ransom from the penalty for sin], so then, as it is written [in Scripture], “He who boasts and glories, let him boast and glory in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
What are we to do?
First, we get on our knees before Him:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
We seek Him:
In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. -Proverbs 3:6
Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. Philippians 4:6
We listen and obey:
If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. But he must ask [for wisdom] in faith, without doubting [God’s willingness to help], for the one who doubts is like a billowing surge of the sea that is blown about and tossed by the wind. James 1
Remember the boy in the story? He did not stand against the bullies alone.
We must come together, as true followers of Christ, in one mind, unity, encourage and pray for each other. We must stand in agreement. Remain in battle formation, watching out for each other, covering each others blind spot, and remember each other always in our prayers. Because it is not about us, it is about souls and His glory! If we truly love Him, then we love each other and we will be about His business in sharing His love and His truth to a lost and dying world. Live a life worthy of the calling, do not compromise, do not fear, and do not back down. Stand!
Be Free & Stay Free
My fathers side of the family is recognized by “the chin.” Most of my cousins have inherited this feature, including myself.
When my children were babies they looked like their father. As they grew they developed some of my features; big eyes and dimples. Mostly, they took on my mannerisms, no doubt because of my influence of them. (Insert smile here)
I am known to my friends by my laugh. When I was young I was called giggles. Sometimes my giggle would get me into trouble, I just couldn’t help it, to stifle my giggle I would look like I was having a seizure with my body shaking trying to keep the laugh inside. My family calls my laugh a cackle. My “cackle” was usually heard before I entered a room.
When my oldest daughter left home I would worry if I prepared her for life. Even though she is a responsible young woman, a mom still worries. To my delight I received a call from her one day.
“Oh no!” She said. “I inherited your cackle.”
She was in school and when she rounded a corner a friend told her she knew it was here coming down the hall because of her laugh. Of course we both got a cackle out of this.
I have told my kids that no matter where I am they will always have a home to come home to. My kids are grown now and spread out, but no zip code will ever change the fact that they are my children. They carry my DNA, they are mine.
This is the same for God’s family. Because of the blood of Jesus Christ, we have His DNA, we are His.
As we grow and mature in our walk with Jesus we begin to look more like Him; we take on His characteristics. The more time we spend with Him, the more we know Him, then the more our thoughts begin to reflect His.
You ever see couples who have been married for a long time? They begin to look alike, right.
I lived many years in NYC, so there are certain words I say differently than my husband who grew up in the mid-west. Just the other day he caught himself saying something and he sounded just like me. I found this funnier than he did, I think. But, there are some things he does that I have noticed I have picked up, too. This is what intimacy, spending time together, and knowing each other does. You become one.
This is the intimacy our Abba Father desires us to have with Him. After all, we are the Bride of Christ and He is coming for us soon for the wedding feast. What a celebration that will be! Until then, our courtship with Him, through the Holy Spirit, seals us. He loves us, cares for us, provides for us, laughs with us, cries with us, He knows or every thought.
O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do];
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
The more we know Him, the more we want to know Him; to be so intimate and hidden in Him that the world no longer sees us, but sees Him. As we receive His love, we reciprocate by loving others. We become His heart extended to a world that truly needs Him. We become His light in a world that is fumbling around in the dark.
By this they will know we are His.
Be Free & Stay Free