Loving your enemies, part 1

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

I know someone just came to your mind when you read that.  We find it all too easy to identify those around us who are wrathful and stir up strife.  Maybe you are that person.

Ok, let’s get real personal for a minute.  How are you about allaying contention?  Allaying contention means that you diminish, put to rest, relieve, or alleviate disagreements and conflicts.  So, do you try to put conflicts to rest or are you actually contributing to the stirring up of the strife?  Really think about it.

And perhaps you aren’t actively contributing to the point that others realize it, but are you stirring up the strife within yourself?  Are you dwelling on it?  Do you continue to think about it every time that person comes around or their name is mentioned?

One more question:  if someone who has hurt you needs prayer will you pray for them?

I’m going to continue this in part two and three, and four but for today, just ask yourself those questions and think on it.  Perhaps you’re not allaying contention the way you thought you were.  Perhaps you’re stirring up strife, after all.  I’m not sure.  That’s for you to figure out.

Until tomorrow…

jamie

Love Your Enemies, part 2

Love Your Enemies, part 3

Love Your Enemies, part 4


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Taking control of the wrong thing

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is filled.”  2 Cor. 10:3-6

My tattoo caught my attention the other morning and got me thinking about the reason why I got it.  I recalled coming to the place where I had decided that I had no control over anything in my life and so, I resolved to take control of something…enter the tattoo.

Whether you’re for or against tattoos, I can tell you that, at this point, I’m generally pretty indifferent towards mine.   But today it’s going to teach us all a lesson.

I’ve written before about when I got sick in 2012.  I never had a moments doubt that the Lord would heal me.  I remember reading my Bible in the hospital, completely trusting the promises within.

As the inconclusive medical tests continued to come in, and my pain persisted, I began to grow a bit weary.  At a church service a few months later, I heard a lesson about prayer lives that I didn’t like, and it hurt my feelings.  It made me feel inferior and inadequate.  I thought about it over and over.  I talked to myself about it.  I fumed over it.  I resented it.

Looking back, I know that when Satan realized that the physical issues weren’t going to cause me to turn against God, he knew would need a new tactic.  I gave him exactly what he needed.  He whispered, taunted, and argued against my knowledge of God with that comment I heard at church.  I could have just brushed it off and moved on with my life, but I allowed him to get in that crack.  I didn’t take control of my thoughts.  I didn’t take them captive.  I allowed him to control my thoughts for me.

As the months went by I let it impair my prayer life a little at a time.  Anger set itself deeper and deeper within my soul.  And then, someone I trusted even more spoke about the same thing, and I remember that being the day I just quit.  I remember thinking, “I’m done.”

What happened?  Satan won.  And I ended up with a tattoo.  I fought in the flesh instead of using the mighty weapons I have in God.  I became weaker because I took ‘control’ with my weakest weapon…my flesh.

Instead of taking my thoughts captive and reminding myself of the faithfulness of God, I listened to the twisted “truths” of the enemy.  Instead of ‘taking control’ by getting a tattoo, I should have taken control of my thoughts, reading the Word for myself and asking the Holy Spirit to teach me and bring to my remembrance all the Lord has said to me.

Let my tattoo be a permanent reminder for us all…take control of your thoughts!  Take control of the “truths” you are listening to.  Stay in God’s word and let the Holy Spirit minister to and teach you.  Fight in the Spirit and not in the flesh!  God is on your side and He is fighting for you.

Marked,

jamie

Follow-up blog:  How to take your thoughts captive

It’s about the war…not the battle

Pr. 20:3:  “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.”

It’s interesting how many things can become the focus of a quarrel within the church.  Is it best if the communion flowers are red (like the color of blood) or white (the color of purity)?  Should the music be contemporary or traditional?  Is it appropriate for a Pastor to lock himself away with God for an entire day or should he be the one visiting all the sick?

Most of us have heard the phrase, “Pick your battles.”  This holds true even within the church.

Is it the most important thing that the color of the carpet is exactly right or that the name of Jesus is being spoken from the pulpit?  Is it more important that the order of service not be disrupted than that a hurting brother or sister is being ministered to?  Are the political, attire, or translation choices more of an issue than the fact that the saving Word of God is being shared with the lost?

It’s amazing how quickly we can become distracted.  Things that have no eternal value become the focus of our lives and can cause quarrels and divisions.

Solomon reminds us that anyone can start a quarrel, but being the one who drops out of or doesn’t join the fight is honorable.  Pride can sometimes cause us to not want to give up or give in, but honor seems a much better thing to earn than the “win” of a meaningless battle.

Let’s stop striving about things that won’t matter in the end, and start focusing on the job at hand.  There are people dying around us while we’re busy arguing about carpet and musical choices.  Why would anyone want to serve a God that cares more about the carpet than He does about them?

We were called to preach the gospel and to baptize.  Demonstrating the love, peace, and honor that comes from serving the Great I AM is the way to start.

Let’s fight for things that matter…the souls of those around us!  And leave the rest to the fools.

Loving you,

jamie

All you need is love

Pr. 2:6:  “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

My mom and I were talking about love yesterday.  Perhaps that is what caused this dream I had last night.

I was in an old school building and there was an evil woman forming in the wall.  I was with a group and as we were waiting for the moment for her to form, I flashed back to the last time she had come.  We had tried to defeat her with battle, but apparently had not won.  She had turned some of our group into animals and although she had gone away for a time, she was now forming again.

A man and I gathered some of our loved ones that had turned to animals and hid in a closet, blocking the door, and preparing to fight again.  As we were waiting, I realized that fighting was not the answer.  The answer was love.

I opened the door, and as the evil one approached, instead of striking out at her, I began speaking love.  We all sat around her, and I reminded her of the good in her.  I told her why she was special.  I spoke lovingly of the things about her that were uniquely created, and about why I loved her.

As I spoke, she was motionless; unable to move in the presence of my love.  Her face began changing and eventually I could tell that she was free.  There was nothing dark or evil about her any longer.  She smiled and everyone cheered.  That’s my last memory of the dream.

As evil takes form in our world, and turns some of our loved ones to ‘animals’, and as we stand in the face of things that seems scary, I believe the same answer holds true.

Do we need to strike out at others?  Is it best that we prove our point?  Do we need to attack people with the Word or our opinions of the Word?  Is aggression towards sinners the answer?  I don’t think so.

I believe the love of God deserves more credit than that.  God is love, and His love for us is so strong that He gave His only Son that we should not perish.  We cannot keep that love for ourselves and offer only condemnation and judgment to those around us who are less than perfect.

Realizing that we are not the ultimate judge, we are here to offer hope, love, compassion, understanding, empathy, and the beauty of the freedoms in Christ.  Loving sinners does not mean you love sin.  It means you are following Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself.

The Beatles weren’t the first ones to let us know that all we need is love.  Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you…by this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:34-35

Let’s trust Him enough to offer that love and leave the rest to Him.

Loving you,

jamie