Inevitable: Temptation

I’m still hanging out in James, the first chapter. If by chance you’ve read it, you know by now I skirted around a certain passage. It told myself it was for continuity and I’d return to dig deeper into it. Here I go, James 1:13-14:

“No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God,” since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”

James 1:13-15 CSB

I find this passage both practical and quite daunting. First, we aren’t to accuse God of tempting us, it is not in His character. Simply stated, He can not be tempted and He does not tempt us. That’s pretty straight forward and something I have accepted by faith and it has proven true in my life. So where does temptation come from? According to James, our own evil desire entices us; draws us away from God’s way or will. Could this really be true? Could we really be our own worst enemy when it comes to temptation?

As I’ve pondered this over the last several days, three examples have come to mind.

  • The fall of man in The Garden of Eden
  • Satan’s temptation of Jesus
  • Jesus time in the Garden of Gethsemane

How was it Eve found herself tempted? What did the serpent say? How did that bring temptation? Genesis 3, enter the serpent and he spoke to Eve:  “Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”” CSB

He followed up with an answer: “ “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will bell opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”” Genesis 3:4-5 CSB

  1. He questioned Eve’s understanding of what God had actually said.
  2. The serpent worded his answer deceptively; he implies that God purposefully is keeping them from the fruit so they will not be like Him (God).
  3. The serpent implies God is holding out on them and keeping knowledge from them that they need to know.

Is it possible, in the quest to please God and a desire to be like God, Eve’s own desire(s) are what tempted her to do exactly what God had instructed the not to do. We were told, and perhaps even Adam and Eve, though it is not specifically said; they were created in the image of God. Both were already like Him, created in His image. Perhaps, because God is sovereign and His ways are higher than ours, He was protecting them by keeping them from this tree of “Knowledge of Good and Evil”. Keeping them innocent of the evils that were possible in this new world. Was their sin allowing their desire to be like God to tempt them to disobedience? Were they placing their will above God’s will? Were they snared by the serpents deception or were they really trapped by their own desire to be like God? Maybe it really was because of there own selfish desire for more.

Temptation of Jesus

“Then Jesus left the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered him, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone. ” So he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. The devil said to him, “I will give you their splendor and all this authority, because it has been given over to me, and I can give it to anyone I want. If you, then, will worship me, all will be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. ” So he took him to Jerusalem, had him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. For it is written: He will give his angels orders concerning you, to protect you, and they will support you with their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. ” And Jesus answered him, “It is said: Do not test the Lord your God. ” After the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.”

Luke 4:1-13 CSB

The Bible tells us Jesus was tempted in every way we have been, yet was sinless. This is a great example. How was Jesus so strong and resistant to sin? Possibly because He was in constant communication with His Father and He was determined only to do what His Father said! He focused on His purpose and His goal not His own selfish desires or His hunger. He realized something higher was at stake. This is pretty good proof that though outside forces can bring on the means of temptation, they are not responsible for us falling into the snare that was set before us.  Rather it is our own selfish desires that over come us and cause us to fall into the trap.  

Lastly, Jesus in the Garden, a mind anguished but firmly set on the prize set before Him!  

““He went out and made his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he told them, “Pray that you may not fall into temptation.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me — nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he got up from prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you won’t fall into temptation.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a mob came, and one of the Twelve named Judas was leading them. He came near Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?””

Luke 22:39-42, 44-48 CSB

We find Jesus example here exemplary. Anguished to the point of sweating drops of blood, He remained true to the course set before Him until the very end when He was arrested, mocked and beaten, judged wrongly and executed.  We also find a different example in the disciples. Jesus asked them to watch and pray for an hour so they would not fall into temptation. They failed, though they may have tried; their tired flesh had it way. Though Jesus awakened them to remind them; they fell into the temptation of sleep each time.

I’ll be the first to say though I’d rather not admit it; “it’s not the devil made me do it” (a throw back to Flip Wilson comedy); and it certainly is not God tempting us. It might be considered a test but ultimately bottom line we make a decision and we are responsible for our actions. Even in not deciding, we have made the decision to let what happens happen. 

Tough saying this is:  “But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”

May God give us grace and strength to decide wisely and set aside temptation and choose life; keeping our focus firmly set on the prize set before us. When we fall, may His beautiful forgiveness, grace and mercy surround us!

May His grace and peace be with you and keep you.

Inevitable: Loss

For the third day in as many days, I have awakened with a specific thought on my heart and felt compelled to write. I’m not sure why that is; perhaps it is a reminder of something I will need in the coming days or there is someone that God in His infinite grace, wisdom, and mercy already knows will stumble across and find some comfort and companionship in what they are going through. Whatever the case, here goes!

Last night in passing, my hubby commented that today was a “special” day. Just for a moment or two I pondered his statement noting that the date would be November 7. Then recognition set in. November, though it contains one of our favorite holidays, has tended to be  hard month for our family. By that, I mean hard things tend to happen in November. November 7th is the day my Mom passed away. It has been 23 years this year and honestly very few years have passed that I didn’t have some kind of memory of that day on this 7th day of November. Certain days you just remember- birthdays, holidays, special shared occasions, missed special days when they would have been there if possible; like weddings, graduations, etc.

Do I still miss my Mom? Oh good heavens, yes! Her passing was fast and unexpected- almost out of the blue. She transitioned into eternity at a young age of 59, when her grandchildren were just ages 10 and 13. my youngest had just turned 10 ten 9 days earlier. She would miss my sons 14th birthday coming in just 43 days! Thanksgiving and Christmas would be different in the years to come; something would always be missing without Mom’s presence. In a similar way, my Dad entered eternity just seven years and a few weeks later; also in November. Remember, if you read this blog, a couple of days back- James 1 talks about trials in our life and makes it clear it is when they come, not if they come. Loss of a loved may be one of the hardest knocks life gives us! Even to those of us who are people of faith and have the beautiful hope of eternal life and being reunited one day in heavenly places; Loss is hard! Whether it is sudden and unexpected or it is gradual during a long fought battle with disease; it is never easy and you are never quite ready for it. Yes, your loved one may have been through a painful battle and it may be a relief that their pain and suffering has come to an end; but it is still hard. We still miss them and their presence and influence in our daily lives.

Perhaps it is because the holiday season is upon us and depression and anxiety always seem to escalate during this season. We face shorter days with less sunshine; grief and losses still come; increased and even unmet expectations are all around; for many, holidays mean financial stress; cold weather brings increased bill expenses; risks of colds and flu that come around in the fall and winter increase. Regardless, people struggle more this time of year and perhaps that is why this topic is weighing heavily on my mind and heart. It could it be remembering my first childhood memory this morning; a fall day when I was around 3, (I was almost four since my birthday is in December)?

 That memory was of the family gathering after a funeral. I don’t remember the funeral, I probably stayed at my great aunts with my slightly older cousins and a sitter. It stands out because we were together, the whole extended family. Also, because I lost my new and beautiful golden birthstone bracelet. It disappeared among all the fallen leaves on the ground, never to be found. Superficial, I know but I was 3! I only share this story to let you know from that day to the day we buried Mom, I had been to almost as many funerals as years I had lived. (We tend to be a close knit family, and people of my grandparents generation tended to larger families).

I guess the point I’m trying to convey is loss is hard (at the risk of being redundant); you aren’t alone; no one knows how to navigate it well; each loss is different and yet the same; whether through death or by other means, it is still loss and it is still hard; I have never found a proven way to navigate loss, though there are some ways that may be healthier than others; and finally, we all deal with it and the associated grieving differently. It just looks different on each of us. In my life, focusing more on the treasured good memories has been helpful. Some folks find talking about it helpful; others find it painful and hard. We are all different but we are not alone! Faith and our Heavenly Father are a great help in getting through the tough times associated with a loss and there are many comforting scriptures to sooth our troubled souls in such times.

If this is you, my prayer is that you will find comfort, peace, and in time that your joy will be renewed and refreshed! May His grace, mercy and comfort be like a blanket around you as you navigate these roadways! There is life beyond loss!!!

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

Inevitable- Part 2

Back to James chapter one! What a great and needed reminder of Who we need to go to when we face trials.  Who better to go to for help than our Creator? He knows us better than anyone! God has given us each a measure of faith and He has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11); a hope or knowing that there is more out there than what we see all around us. A deeper desire and longing that we may not even be able to understand or explain. Then there was the reminder that every good and perfect gift comes from our Heavenly Father who never changes or shifts like shadows! It’s no wonder I never got past verse 19 just meditating on His goodness!

Now., as I read, I find it interesting the very next section begins by saying: “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”

James 1:19-20

I’ve got to wonder, why talk about about anger on the heels of faith? Perhaps anger is one of the biggest hindrances to our faith? Anger comes in many forms from injustice to deep wounds to our soul. Some of us go as far as experiencing deep seeded anger at God Himself because of our wounds and grief. It is easy to feel anger when we are treated wrongly, or someone we love is treated unjustly; when we experience losses we don’t understand; when we feel neglected, ignored or invisible; when we feel our prayers go unanswered or are answered differently than we’d hoped.

Let’s look at each of these things James mentions and see how they might fit:

  • Quick to listen:  We live in a world today of sound bits. We get lots of small bits of information all day through texts, media, and many other sources. Yes, we still have some full conversations but  I believe on some level, the sound bites of life tend to damper our listening skills. I believe we get rusty and if someone is too long winded, many either interrupt or zone out. James tells us it is important to be quick to listen; be a good listener.
  • Slow to speak:  I think James is advising us to be careful. Listen and be present; take a few minutes to really think about what is being said. Hear It out and ponder. Don’t get all fired up, planning your response but truly hear what was said and think about it. Respond instead of reacting. Because you have Listen to the actual heart of what is being said.
  • Slow to anger:  This is pretty self explanatory. When you are really listening and taming the impulse to react without thinking and trying to fully understand the person, their situation or concerns, and their heart; it is much easier to have an objective and less emotional or angry response. It also helps us to move from opinion, selfish desires, and tunnel vision. When we truly try to see the bigger picture and that there may be multi-facets to the situation or problem and unknown variables— we have a better chance or reaching reasonable outcomes that better serve everyone involved and hopefully avoiding anger outbursts in the process.

There sure is a whole bunch of wisdom in James and we are just 19 verses  into the Book! Who says an ancient and timeless book can not be relevant today?!!  I’m just a simple lady. I don’t claim or pretend to be a scholar or have any expertise beyond sheer life experience and maybe the school of hard knocks. I can say that I haven’t found many, if any, situations in life that I haven’t been able to search God’s Word and find passages that were relevant and helpful and often times bringing peace and comfort to the situation.

May God bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace!  -Numbers 2:24-26

Inevitable: Are Trials Unavoidable?

Interesting how life ebbs and flow! Writing is something I have enjoyed for quite a while, whether personal journaling or blogging. Lately, it seems I have been in a season of distractions when it comes to the inspiration it takes to get me writing in either area. Maybe that’s a thing of the past…perhaps I’ve just been letting those distraction have too much power in my life.

Today, I began my day earlier than usual. It is still very quiet and peaceful, my favorite condition to find myself in; especially for pondering important stuff and for writing. In our modern, fast paced lifestyle, it is often illusive and hard to find. Determined to do just that, I got up early, settled in my reading chair and opened a new Bible-fresh, unmarked, clean slate. Because a passage in James has come up several times since late September, I began my reading there. First, I ran across a devotional about James. It intrigued me and pulled me in. At the end, it asked three great questions. Basically the paraphrased version would be:

How can you see God’s hand of blessing in your life today?

Have you seen God go above and beyond your expectations? How?

In this season, how is God asking you to be a blessing to someone?

Wow! Answering those questions challenged me to think, to answer, to pray, and to get busy reading.

Blessings: A loving and faithful God who knows everything about me and call me worthy because of Jesus; a terrific family; answered prayers for resolution of a couple health issues; just to get started.

Exceeded expectations: Going through a recent surgery with only a few hours down time and very little pain. Which because of the other circumstances happening, was a blessing way above and beyond anything I could have asked or imagined!!

Season to be a blessing: Approximately 36 hours after surgery, a very close family member in my husband’s family graduated to heaven. Together we are being called to a season of more responsibility and caregiving; hopefully to be a blessing and not a stumbling block.

Back to James! Verse 2 is a show stopper! This gets me every time. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…”. James1:2 Most everyone who has heard a sermon on this portion of James has heard a pastor say, “notice that it does not say IF you face trials.” In every version or translation I have ever read, it clearly states that we are to consider it all joy or pure joy when or whenever trials come. Stated this way, it becomes clear that in every one of our lives it is inevitable (certain and un-avoidable) we will encounter trials. Yet when one comes our way, it seems to surprise us or even shock us. Human nature I suppose.

Familiar with this passage since early adulthood, it still strikes me fresh and anew every single time I read it! Perhaps that says as much about me as it does the actual verse, however I think it really shows us how counter-intuitive it is to our human nature. God sees the end of the situation even before it begins. We humans do not. It is a stretch for us to look beyond the initial aggravation of whatever trial presents itself to us and search for a lesson to be learned as we go through that trial that will bring us out on the other side better than we were before we went through it.

When the trial or struggle comes, what will we do with it. We may not be able to keep it from coming. We may not be able to avoid it. So, what next? I personally think it comes down to what we do with it. Do we just wrestle and struggle with it; do we fight against it; ignore it; give in to it; become overwhelmed by it; or go into problem solving mode to fix or solve it? Some would say we should ask what we are supposed to learn from it.

Responses vary probably as much as people. Scripture seems to be saying it is an opportunity to be joyful or choose joy; not because we have the trial or the problem. Because God is faithful and if we turn to Him in the circumstance and trust Him to see us through. When we take our struggle to Him, it tests our faith; producing endurance in the trial. Can we get through this situation? Will God answer our prayers about it? Will He answer them the way we want Him to answer? Is there a reason for Him to answer differently that we can not see/understand? Do we trust when the Word says that Gods’ ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts?

” because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4

Trials, bring about the testing of faith according to James. Testing of faith leads too endurance. Endurance when fully acting or in full effect brings about a maturity; completeness. Is it possible that faith could be compared to a muscle and the more exercise it gets, the stronger it gets. Could it be the stronger your faith gets, the less we panic or worry when another problem hits and the sooner we take it to our Heavenly Father in prayer?

Please know in these questions and ramblings, I am not trying to oversimplify. Life can be difficult and overwhelming at times. Sometimes it seems problems come in waves as often and as rhythmic as the waves hit the shoreline. I do find comfort that the very next section assures us that when we need wisdom all we have to do is ask God. It assures us that He gives wisdom freely, generously. James also warns us. Ask in faith. Don’t doubt. Be single minded, sure that He will answer. Find yourself doubting? I do, and find myself praying… “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

I also find a great deal of comfort that the endurance of trials come with a promise or a reward if you will. James 1: 12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” I hope that you find this as encouraging and helpful as I did this morning. I certainly needed this reminder and though I didn’t make it through a whole chapter these words breathed fresh life into my heart. Finally, I would like to encourage you with the following words that James penned many years ago:

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of all he created.” James 1:16-18

Grace and Peace to you!

Change is Inevitable-What Can We Do?

     Change is all around us; some good, some not so good, and some traumatic. You may feel like you are continually experiencing it. Or ask, as do I, questions like why it seems that things are always in flux? What is especially frustrating and most of us have or will experience this sometime in our lives is when you seem to get caught in whirlwind, quicksand, or whirlpool. You may have experienced it. When something negative happens and seems to trigger a series of chain-like events and you can begin to forget what normal life feels like when this happens.
 
     Why am I writing about this? Three reasons. First I seem to be in a contemplative season in my life, and secondly, it seems to have the potential to suck me in and drag me down as described above by the terms whirlpool or quick-sand. Lastly, I woke up this morning with a song stuck in my head (more about that in a bit).
 
So what can we do when this happens?
 
     If you are a believer, my first advice is to pray and listen for the answers and search for them in the Word of God. I get it; sometimes this is hard. There are seasons when we don’t know what or how to pray BUT we have an intercessor praying for us, and He knows how to pray and how to translate our groanings and our outcries when we don’t understand what to say!
 
     Personally, sometimes all I can utter is Lord, help or Jesus…  Second, we are not the only one experiencing troubles, we are not alone though it may feel like we are. When we feel like we are, we hesitate to let others come along beside us to help carry the burden. Maybe we are embarrassed, shamed. That is usually the enemies attack and tactic to keep us isolated from others and God. We also need to remember plenty of God’s people experienced seasons like this and overcame them. Most of the best known and revered people from Biblical times found this to be true. Sampson was consecrated as a Nazarite and had taken a vow; he met with temptations that he succumbed to, like taking honey out of a lion carcass, dating and marrying outside his own culture, and other such shenanigans.  Still, he did mighty things for God, and his life counted. There’s also Moses, Jacob, Rahab, Saul, also known as Paul, King David and the list could keep going. This situation is NOT the end of our story unless we choose to let it be!
 
     Next, one thing that has been helpful to me was to stop watching the news. I did this personally in 2003. I will occasionally watch world news, major events and I’ll check in for weather events briefly. Mostly I avoid it like the plague. It is just too much. I once counted up the hours our local stations run news. It is in the neighborhood of eight hours every single day. They start a story and continue it in the next hour, and possibly again in the following hour. Perhaps hoping you’ll stick around and watch it all. If you do, you are inundated with the same tragic and horrifying stories over and over. What has this got to do with change? When we are struggling with a difficult season of life, hearing ghastly stories about our communities, cities, and the world repeatedly; it seems so much worse than if we’d only heard them once. It is not helpful. The truth is, you’ll still come across plenty to keep you current whether it posted on social media, a notification on your phone, or walking by a store display or news stand! Continually watching it can be stressful at best and depressing at it’s worst.
 
 Our minds are bombarded every single day. Pulling back on some of the access gives our brains a rest and gives us more time to do things we enjoy whether it is a hobby, exercise to relieve stress, read, meditate, or get more sleep which so many of us are deprived.  Rest helps, it may not answer the problem, but things look much better when we get proper amounts of rest.
 
That brings me to the song…
 
     This morning I woke up a song on my mind, or more accurately my heart. That isn’t unusual for me, but the song was. Recently, I heard a song I remembered from childhood in the seventies. It was written or released in 1963, but my exposure was later. “The Sound of Silence” was re-released recently by Pentatonix and I ran across the video and listened. Did I mention I’ve been in a reflective state lately? So I pulled up the lyrics and began to read them and think about them. Some people thought them rather dark, which I had never considered. I found them more prophetic than dark. In the early sixties, a few saw them predictive of the so-called Hippie or free love movements according to some. My thoughts ran to the changes I have seen in our culture over my lifetime as I listened. I ran across another rendition by Disturbed. I was not familiar with them; I decided to go and look at their interpretation of the song. It seemed powerful, serious, and poignant.  It was possibly a bit darker but considering all the changes in life and culture during my years on the planet. It seems accurate and still prophetic. 
 
Exerpt from ‘Sound Of Silence’:
“And in the naked light, I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
 
“Fools,” said I, “you do not know
Silence, like  cancer, grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed the wells, of silence
 
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out it’s warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of silence.”
Paul Simon
 
 
      Also in 1963, prayer was taken out of schools. Ten years later, Roe vs. Wade passed making abortion legal. Though the majority at the time were against these acts, the vocal minority won; perhaps because of the sound of silence. That has happened many times throughout history from ancient times up until current events. The Holocaust is one example, though there have been many other examples as well. Different times and different places, but the sound of silence has allowed travesties to happen over and over and if good men/people do nothing or say nothing; it will continue. 
 
     As in recent news, yep it still gets through, even without watching, it may be particularly prophetic. Controversial bills are passing to allow abortion up until the babies due date; the law to protect babies born alive in late-term failed abortions failed to pass; a seventeen-year-old gave birth at home and stabbed her just born baby, taking it’s life. All shocking and devastating, especially the last! Yet, enough of the government representatives opposed the protection of life bill so that it didn’t pass, and her country says it is the mothers right whether to choose life or not. So, maybe based on that, she thought it was okay, despite the devastation to her life and the babies. She is charged with murder; as would someone be  who had attacked a mother and caused the death of her baby before it had been born — mixed signals from our laws. contraversial things we hesitate to speak out about and remain silent.
 
      Whether it be on a community, city, state or national level or a personal level, silence can be detrimental and cause devastation. We need to be there for each other, be reasonable and have mature conversations even when we have disagreements;  we need to find common ground. Sadly, a vast majority get deeply offended; of those, some become silent, and others become vocal to the point of being abusive and unkind. Still, others are marginalized and seem voiceless. 
 
     As I read Colossians 3, something stuck out to me that I’d never considered from this passage:
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Col. 3:1-4 NASB
 
 
     I have read this a lot but this time what struck me was when it says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on earth”;  just maybe it meant not only to not get caught up in possessions, jobs, wealth, or cares of the world; and possibly “gods of their own making” as referenced in the song. Perhaps it means not letting the things we see, hear and experience get to us but to refocus immediately on God when issues come trying to inundate us and give them to Him before they cause fear, concern, temptations and other negative, unproductive feelings and actions to creep into our lives.
 
I had previously only considered it as a warning against getting too caught up in the world, but now it seems clear that it is a protection, a plea for us to keep our focus above on Jesus rather than getting caught in the snares that can lead our hearts into troublesome places. Places that can cause us to lose our direction and silence our voice rather than follow the next directions:
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.  Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”  Col.3:12-17 NASB
 
 
     You may wonder how the above passage fits into this train of thought, I did. Honestly, we all desperately need some grace!  We need to give it to others; we also need to give it to ourselves sometimes. We need God’s grace and mercy. Silence is sometimes appropriate; other times it is deadly. 
 
      God help us to have the wisdom to know when to speak; when to reach out for help; and when to hold our tongue.  Grant us the courage to speak up and speak out when the time is right. Help us to reach out when we are overwhelmed, first to You for wisdom and then lead us to those we can trust for help that won’t add to our burden. Grant us wisdom in what and how much we open ourselves up to in the form of news and entertainment and help us find alternative ways to spend our time to protect our mind and heart where it is needed. Help us remember everyone is going through something at any given time and strength to show kindness, mercy, and grace whenever possible.  In Jesus mighty name, Amen.
 

Grace and peace to you!

Welcoming 2019

It’s been a while! I haven’t disappeared off the face of the planet, but I will say, writing has been almost the last thing on my mind for a season. Honestly, it has been a challenging season. It was a time of distracting myself from the usual flow of ideas by reading or pretty much anything that would keep my attention and thoughts off the very things that were troubling me.

A season of distraction.

Distraction in the Word, distraction in prayer, the voice of the enemy distracting me with fiery dart thoughts of worry and the diversion of all the things the world throws our way; sickness, disasters, storms, and evil deeds. A medicine change aimed at improving health that actually for a season sent it spiraling.

Circumstances.

As I began to say goodbye to 2018, things had started to look up, and I had been feeling better than I had in months. I actually had lots of energy and felt ten to fifteen years younger. Then it happened another set of circumstances. A hurting loved one; a death of a friend; family colds; a basement leak at two family members home; a roof leak from this year’s storms not covered by insurance; another medical issue; and another loved one in crisis. All were back to back.

Circumstances.

Somewhere in those last six while looking back over the year, I distinctly heard the word joy ring out in my head. Now I have done a study on joy and the difference between joy and happiness in the past. Happiness is often, if not always determined by our – you got it; Circumstances.

Joy, however, can be found even when our circumstances are not the best. Joy comes from knowing who we are and whose we are. It comes from the blessings in our life. Sometimes the blessings and joy take a back seat to the immediate circumstances and imminent crisis that arise. Our perspective has a lot to do with what wins out. It is much easier to keep joy our focus when there are no problems or when they come along one or two at a time. Not so much when an avalanche of things come all within six months or a year. That is when we must work hard to keep our perspective right. God’s Word is full of promises, and they are sure and true. our focus should be on those promises. We also have warnings and if we are wise we will also heed those. Let’s look at John 16:33:

Jesus warned us, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

James, Jesus brother, warned us: “James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. 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. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:1-5 NASB

So, with new and greater determination, my word for 2019 is Joy. James clearly says it is possible to have joy in the midst of trials; suffering if you choose to. Fear and distraction are the enemies of joy. They come to steal, kill and destroy our joy. This year my plan is to pursue joy and with it peace. My goals: 1. Whatever happens, to ponder the better things; the blessings that are unshakeable and not let myself lose sight of them even when times get harried and sticky. 2. To do my best not to allow the enemy to steal that joy. Somehow, I’m sure it sounds easier than it is but with determination, it can be done, and I am betting that the year will be much more productive and fulfilling when it is all said and done.

May Grace, Peace, and Joy be yours!

Psalm 34:4-5 CSB
I sought the Lord, and He answered me
and rescued me from all my fears.
Those who look to Him are radiant with joy;
their faces will never be ashamed.

Galatians 5:22-23 – NASB
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.

Psalm 5:11 – NASB
But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;
And may You shelter them,
That those who love Your name may exult in You.

Psalm16:11 – NASB
You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand, there are pleasures forever.

Psalm 59:16 – NASB
But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength;
Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For You have been my stronghold
And a refuge in the day of my distress.

Eyes to See

Not so long ago, I loved to study, learn new things. Not only that, I loved to write about what I was seeing and learning along the roads on which I traveled. At a quick glance, as days clicked by with waning desire to read, engage in conversation, and write- I blamed busyness; or the holiday season.  Days turned into weeks, and it is more appealing to bury myself in some good fiction than engage in my usual quest to learn and grow…why, I ask myself? No answers, at least nothing rang true. Writer’s block popped into my head, but no. First, you would have to have the desire to put pen to paper or fingers to keys. I haven’t.

Now, weeks have turned into months. I try to work around the lack of desire and forge forward. Let’s crack open the Word, research a topic…it lasts for a short while, but the fiction calls or a movie seems in order. Or worse yet, housework calls to me. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a tidy house; but cleaning has never shouted louder than the desire to study, learn, or put pen to paper! So, what is going on, I wonder? Who is this person I seem to be becoming? Is this just a different or temporary season?  I don’t know about you; but when experiencing something, it can be easy to slip into thinking, “am I the only one going through this?” From experience I know that’s rarely the case. Despite all our differences, we humans are more alike than we realize.

Though, I have searched my heart; questioned in my mind – the only thing I have been able to come up with is that life is complicated and convoluted. Never before in history have we been so bombarded with information!

We live in a day, at least in America, where news is available from 4:30 a.m. until 8:00 a.m.; 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.; and at 9, 10, and 11 p.m. with reruns available during the night. We have 24-hour news channels, online news, constant updates, newspapers, magazines, and social media. Most of the reports are negative, violent, or tragic and often reported in ‘real time.’ Then there are the many replays throughout the day. Thankfully, I gave up tv news for the most part in the early 2000’s, between biased reporting and my son in Iraq, it seemed prudent for my sanity. Even so, if you use a computer for work, research, etc.; newsfeeds bombard you with the headlines.

Last night. We met with our regular Tuesday night Bible Study. We broke bread together, shared prayer requests, ‘skyped’ with one of our folks that could not be with us, and got into the Word much as we always do. Somewhere in the discussion of the passage, the word perspective came up. Oh boy, did that word click in my mind! It resonated so much in my heart that I figuratively wrote it in bold letters on a post-it note and placed it in a prominent place in my mind so I would come back to it when I came home and was in a quiet place to ponder it more. Is it possible that where I have found myself lately is a direct result of an unrealized shift in perspective that had happened gradually? Lord God, through your grace, please give me eyes to see and wisdom to make good choices about what my eyes see, and ears hear.

Before the Internet, hard to imagine, I know; information took longer to disseminate.   It could take days to get news from another area of the world, and today we have it in minutes or less. These reports aren’t the only thing flooding into our screens: gossip and intimate details of the lives of celebrities and politicians abound. On that note, everyone has an opinion about said news and gossip and few are shy to share that opinion. Next comes arguments about those opinions, which more often than not disintegrates into foul obscenities, horrible name calling, and trying to silence those who are not of like mind. Tweet after tweet, post after post, late night after late night, story after story… Is this truly the inheritance we want to leave for our children and our children’s children?

Honestly, there really was a time when reporters reported the facts of the story without opinion or personal bias. There was also a time when biased and unkind statements about others were not tolerated; innocent until proven guilty meant something. A time when though you disagreed with another’s opinion; you remained respectful towards the person. Civility reigned as did civil debate. Disagreement did not equal disassociation but working together to come to a place both parties could tolerate. It was a time when even though ugliness and unkindness existed, it was not in vogue and openly tolerated and celebrated by publically flaunting itself. Again, what is the inheritance we want to leave for our children and our children’s children? Oh, how I hope it’s not the first, but too often this is the world in which we live.

Yep, no Calgon will take this away. From experience, neither will burying our head in a good, clean fiction book. It could be that it’s gone too far out of control, tolerated beyond the point of return – I hope not. Social media has become anything but social. It used to be a fun, uplifting way to connect over the miles and encourage. Now it’s more political, harsh, and maddening. Dear Lord, Please give us wisdom and right perspective.

I don’t know about you, but I could use a good dose of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; against such things, there is no law! And then there is grace; we need a whole lot of grace!

Grace and peace to you my friends!

Unexpected JOY

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My view this morning…

Last Thursday, December the 7th…

Winter Advisory until Sat. at 7 a.m. They said…

Snow they said…

No accumulation on roads they said….

Just a dusting 1/2 to 1 inch at most…

No transportation issues…

I responded to myself with, “Huh, that’s usually what they say before us have some unprecedented and unexpected snowfall. Now in context, it rarely snow in early December in Georgia. If it does it doesn’t accumulate, it doesn’t typically last and  it is extremely rare! (At least south of the North Georgia mountains.)

Friday, 7 a.m.

The snow begins, I watch it from these very windows the entire day as I go about my daily chores and my to-do list. At first small and light, later larger flakes; some the size of a quarter. It didn’t take long to see we had hit the 1/2 inch mark. Then the one-inch mark. By noon, it looked like  the picture below.

 

 

Isn’t it beautiful; how amazing is our Creator! And man thinks he can predict this awesome God and what He has set in motion. Ah, but this story is just beginning!

3″ @ 1:13 p.m. – No sign of letting up.

This verse comes to mind – “Where is the way where light dwells? And as for darkness, where is its place, That you may take it to its territory And that you may know the paths to its house? “You [must] know, since you were born then, And because you are so extremely old! “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,”
‭‭JOB‬ ‭38:19-22‬ ‭AMP‬‬

5:15 p.m. – over 5″ – I’m going to need a larger ruler!

For a moment, I sit relishing in this autumn wonderland, traveling through my memory of past Decembers; maybe there was another time in early childhood we had a similar experience. But I have lived within a forty-five-mile radius of my birthplace my entire life and can remember nothing that compares to what is unfolding before my eyes. I feel pure joy bubble up inside at the rare beauty. Yes, there are cares and concerns, but for the moment they are muted; put on hold. They are diminished by this extraordinary sight. And the snow keeps coming…

Around 6:30, I begin preparing some corn muffins to accompany our soup. The power flickers a number of times as they cook in the convection oven. Resetting it each time, they finished before we lost power around 7-ish, thankfully. Also, I am grateful that I asked my sweet husband to light the pilot for the gas logs earlier and turn them on just in case. It has an electric switch but if it’s on it will stay on without the power.

It is amazing how peaceful it is with no power, no tv, no internet. A quiet night before the fire, conversation, rest, a little reading. Nineteen and a half hours of peace and quiet and semi-disconnection. Yes, we checked email and social media a little until the phones drained. Mostly, we just enjoyed the downtime, not once worried about the power or lack of heat. We only ate what we could fix on the gas stove top, manually over-riding the pilotless ignition and bundled up.  Saturday we awoke to a real wonderland!

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      8:15, Saturday morning – 9 inches!

A friend said the record was a little over 8 inches back in 1940. Haven’t checked to see for myself. We also have a sundial out front. The needle that creates the shadow was completely covered, and the top looked like an enormous wedding cake. Snow there measured 9.9 inches.

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Still, no power, not  a problem though. The freezer is frozen and fine. The gallon of ice I placed in the frig. is starting to melt and the temperature is going up a bit. It’s time to fill ice chests with snow and transfer food outdoors where it will keep. We even stuck the bottle of soda directly into the snow on the back deck. I am so thankful for lessons learned as a young child during an ice storm. We were just over a week without power, and I learned many survival techniques. I am also grateful for having a gas stove (at least we can cook on top overriding the pilotless ignition, gas logs since we don’t have a wood burning fireplace), a kerosene heater in the basement just in case we need it, and assorted flashlights, candles and oil lamps.  I honestly don’t know how people with all-electric manage in outages.

Some may be asking, “what’s the big deal? It’s just a little snow.” You know what, you are so right; especially if you are from up north where snowfall is much higher. Nine to ten inches is nothing when you are from a place where two and three feet of snow is the norm. Yet for my husband and I, this was epic! When you live in an area that you may go a few years without seeing even a dusting of snow or at best a dusting to three inches when you do have some; this is amazing!

My favorite part has been the peacefulness; the serenity. I love how everything slowed down. Neighbors that rarely see each other are all out walking around and chatting. Watching the toddler girl next-door play in the snow with abandon, throwing herself down making snow angels over and over on every smooth untouched area of snow. Then getting back up throwing a snowball followed by grabbing a handful to eat. Our dog Shelby (just a year old) playing in the snow for the first time and loving it, nipping at it and eating it. Wishing I could have been with the grandkids as they played in it at their homes and watching them enjoy it.

I love God’s sovereign timing, too! It has been perfect. It came right at the busiest time of year for many of us, when we are running around like crazy to appointments, parties, and all sorts of gatherings; when we are frantically looking the right gift for loved ones; and so many busy tying up their year in a nice little bow. A perfect pause. Most will either love it or hate it. For me, it brought peace. It brought much joy. I didn’t see inconvenience. I saw opportunity. Opportunity to slow down, ponder the season, be grateful and see unexpected blessings over the perceived difficulties. It was time to relish in the simple things and the small things that we take for granted most of the time. It was a reminder that we can choose to pause on our own without a prompting from the weather and it is good for us to do it.

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From our home to your: Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

May Grace and Peace be yours!!

Joy Comes in the Mourning

Today October 26, my parents anniversary. I’m headed to my husband’s parents home to help care for his Dad because he is not doing well. I began my journey with a stop to fill up the gas tank and realized today’s date. I decided to make a quick trip to the local store to pick up some flowers to take to my parent’s graveside to honor them on this special day- it’s only a few minutes out of the way…alas, they have both graduated to Heaven. Today would’ve been their 60th wedding anniversary! I know, it’s more form me than for them, but it just felt like the right thing to do. As I thought about it I realized it’s also another kind of a coming-of-age season; it will be 21 years since my mom passed and graduated to heaven this November 7th. She was followed by my dad seven years later.

Twenty-one years! How fast it’s gone. Sometimes it feels like an eternity! Every day I realize more and more how grateful I am for the lessons they taught me and for the things that I learned through the experiences in my family of origin. Not just during the good times; in fact, in hindsight, some of the most valuable ones came in the difficult times. So many of my relatives have already gone before me; only cousins left and of course my wonderful adult children, children in love(spouses), and eight amazing grandchildren. There has been a great deal of loss in my life, BUT there have been many glorious blessings! One of the things I have learned is God is good even in the hard times when we are tempted to doubt His goodness.
God knows our every struggle and His timing is perfect even when we can’t understand it or believe that it’s true! Sometimes that’s a hard lesson to learn when everything seems to be caving in all around.

So why is this perhaps the second coming of age? We think when we turn 21 or 18 for some of us that we are all grown up, but that’s not necessarily true. We become adults, and we become more responsible for things. We do what today is termed ‘adulting.’ Honestly though, many of us still value the wisdom of our elders and seek out advice on some of the tougher things in life, and sometimes we just want to share the joys of life with them. We may not depend on them anymore, but it’s still nice to know there is someone to turn to at times of great joy, sorrow or trouble; until they aren’t there. Trust me; there’s been more than a few times early on that I’ve picked up the phone ready to dial and realized…I can’t call you. I can’t share that joyful news or ask that question. Honestly, I remember feeling like an orphan. That truly sounds kind of silly or ridiculous; I was 34 and 41 respectively when they went home. For a season, I felt like an adult orphan. It was comforting to find later out that I wasn’t the only one who felt this.

I usually don’t share things this personal. However, death and loss are things that hit everyone at one time or another. We may feel in invincible and think those we love are as well, but the truth is life can be fragile; it flies by in the blink of an eye. We will all experience loss, and we must deal with it at our own pace and in our way. It’s hard, and it is painful; excruciating at times, to be honest. Those who have elder parents still living as my husband does know the only thing as hard as losing them in their prime is watching them grow weaker and lose the ability to do the things that once brought them great joy. Cherish the moments, learn to find joy and humor in the good times and if at all possible in the difficult ones also; it helps take some of the bite out of the hard stuff!

Last Friday, my father-in-love got quite ill and on top of that had a fall and ended up in the E.R. By Saturday evening he was improving except for pain from the fall. After seeking x-rays and additional care to ensure no missed broken bones, he was given something for pain on Tuesday. The adverse effects took a toll on him and knocked him out for about 36 hours. Thankfully, today, his color is back, and he is eating and drinking well but is still weak and sleeping a lot. He is blessed to be 87, but it takes longer to bounce back, and we are hoping he returns to his self.

Sometimes in our life, the important just must take precedence over those things always declaring themselves urgent. In those times we must slow down and slow the crazy race that has become our life and remember what is truly important. It has been said to seize the day, but sometimes we just need to capture the moment. Linger a minute, find a moment to make a quick call; share a hug and say I love you. When we do, we leave our self less open to doubt and living with regrets later in life. Often remembering the little things like this help make it more bearable when loss and grief come your way.

It may seem a bit silly to celebrate my parents 60th anniversary by taking a bouquet to the place where their bodies rest; but for me, it brought great joy in remembering them today. I learned a lot about life and marriage from them, both what to do and what not to do. They instilled many good traits and habits in me and maybe a few patterns that needed to be broken. I still miss them and many times merely long to talk with them, share a home-cooked meal, or just sit in front of the fire and be together. I’m deeply grateful for their influence and that we did these things often. I am even more thankful for the faith they instilled in me, and that the Lord has grown in me. It gives me a blessed hope and the ability to say with assurance; we will be reunited once again and share in our Heavenly Father’s glory for eternity. I hope that sharing a piece of my journey will be a comfort and blessing for those dealing with struggles and loss.

Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord, Jesus!

 

Which Kingdom? Your Own, The World’s, or God’s?

All creation was made to be an inhabitation for the Kingdom of God. He set it in motion; He defined it – a Kingdom of righteousness, wholeness, peace, love, joy; the list could go on. God gave us a choice:

“”For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. “”See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity;” in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it.” Deuteronomy 30: 11-18

Deuteronomy 28 lists the blessings associated with obedience to God’s statutes, as well as, the consequences or curses related to neglecting those principles. He also sent His Son (John 10:10) that we might have life by choosing Him, but we have the freedom to choose; life or death, His Kingdom or the worlds.

His goal will one day be reality… no matter what we choose.

 

Many find ourselves living in a world where the fast lane is the heaviest traveled path. We live in a time of instant cereal, instant potatoes, instant service; a drive-thru and microwave existence, and knee jerk reactions for many people. Social media has changed from My Space and Facebook to 140 character tweets on Twitter and Instagram, where a picture says a thousand words!? Media today is made up of sound bites that only give partial and sometimes biased views, rather than the whole story or whole truth. As a rule, we want what we want, and we expect it yesterday rather than when we asked for it today. Tolerance is exalted and called for on every front until it tramples on someone getting their desires met, and then the gloves come off because you’re interfering with my rights. At that point, some of us lose sight that sometimes our rights negate or trample the rights of others. These results were never the intent of our Creator!

Again, His Kingdom is defined by righteousness, wholeness, peace, love, joy, putting others first, caring for: the afflicted; brokenhearted; captives; prisoners; and those who mourn. (Isaiah 61) We are encouraged to take care of the weak, infirmed, poor, widows, orphans, our elderly. (The Kingdom way) The world tells us to look out for ourselves (look out for number one). We are told if we don’t take care of and look out for yourself, no one will! We are told to go for the gusto; enjoy it now while you can, and encouraged to stock up on the latest of everything. These two kingdoms are almost always giving us opposing messages. For example, one says don’t dare let them get by with treating you that way. The other tells us to turn the other cheek and forgive. One brings life to relationships; the other kills relationships; sometimes forever!

Not all of the differences are as cut and dried as these. No, some are much more subtle, and some are even hard to differentiate. Even more important, there are plenty of kind, loving, moral individuals who don’t believe in God or His Kingdom and many Kingdom people or believers that are stuck in a non-Biblical world view. Many are tempted to make the mistake of drawing conclusions and stereotypes of others based on religious beliefs, on ethnicity, on skin color, on their level of education, on their political leanings, etc. The question is: are you willing to be characterized by the same standards that you describe others? And is it a fair or accurate assumption to say that all ______________(you fill in the blank) are ___________________! One example for you that I hear or see on social media: “They don’t have a job because they are too lazy to work and want the government to take care of them.” I’m sure there are those for whom this would be a true statement, BUT there are many who are unable to work regularly because of certain disabilities, others who live in an economically challenged area and do not have the means to move to a new area to find employment. Stereotypes are unfair in most cases and are just mean-spirited and unnecessary. They also lead to the type of behaviors we see in the news media all the time. All lives matter in the eyes of God! Every one of His creations is important to Him. Do we all please Him? No, but He loves us in spite of our shortcomings. If that were not true, why would His Son, Jesus Christ have come to this planet and lived and died to make way for us to find grace and peace with God? To give us the opportunity to have eternal life with God?

We are told in the Word of God;

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3: 26-29

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?’ James 2: 1-7

Our Heavenly Father doesn’t show favor based on our skin color, our ethnicity, our bank account or lack of, our gender, our appearance, or based on whether we are in bondage or free. He sees us either as we are (condition of our heart) or through the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son if we believe and receive His salvation.

You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5: 43-48
“Dear friend, listen well to My words; tune your ears to My voice.

Keep My message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart!

Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they’re bursting with health.” Proverbs 4: 22-24

We get to choose! Moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day!! Will we choose our way, the world’s way or will we choose God’s way? Will we choose love? Will we choose life? Or Will we choose death? He sets before us life and blessing or death and curses. Our choice, what will we choose?

May His grace and peace abound to you this day!