Bless Them Which Persecute You

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.  ~Romans 12:14

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.  ~Matthew 5:5-12

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  ~Matthew 6:14-15

These are some of the verses I’ve been quoting to myself recently. It is not easy to do the right thing when others seem to hate you and want to make your life miserable and yet, in order to truly have peace and joy, one must obey these commands that Christ laid out for us.

blessthem

The other night when I was lying in bed upset about the way a person was treating my family, I began to think about the Father and how He must feel by all the people that mock Him, take His name in vain, and do everything imaginable to grieve Him. All of a sudden, my focus changed, as it put things in a new light.

I don’t think there is anything we can go through on earth that Jesus didn’t experience in some form or fashion and yet He prayed for those who crucified Him. He mourned for Jerusalem and the way they would treat His people. He died for a world that He knew would hate Him. That is the posture He wants us to have. We must rid ourselves of all pride, the “need” to be right, even the desire to justify our actions at times, and humbly go to God in the midst of difficult situations. And somehow we must find a way to pray for those who persecute us. I think, many times, they really don’t know what they’re doing. And, even if they do and their goal is to hurt you in every way they can, only God can change a heart. Retaliation will only make it worse.

As I write this, a part of me wonders if anyone else can relate to this or if I should just be writing in my journal. I’ve learned, however, that most of the time, God allows me to go through things because someone else is going through a similar situation and needs to know they’re not alone. They need encouraged to draw near to the Lord and reminded of how they need to walk in various situations. That is my prayer. No matter who is being mean to you right now, God sees and He will take care of it in His time. This is simply a time to keep growing in walking in His ways. Hold tightly to His hand and don’t deal with it in your flesh. Ask God to give you His heart for this person and to give you wisdom in dealing with the situation. I’ve no doubt that He will.

Brethren, Pray For Me

Brethren, Pray For Me

2 Thess 3:1-2 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.

One thing that is hardly addressed these days is the desperate need of prayer for pastors and missionaries. These men are in the forefront of the spiritual battle. We see so many fall to the wayside due to many reasons both physical and spiritual. Sometimes, they give in to the pressure of being told not to stand for the truth, maybe they become afraid in the battle, or grow weary because of the fight. Maybe they have been ill used by the congregation and their very soul is tattered and torn, maybe they struggle against sin or a specific sin, maybe their family is falling apart and they feel overwhelmed by everything going on, or maybe they are in a deep depression at this point.

Yes, we can all feel those things at one point or another yet how few people realize the tremendous pressure these men are under. They are in the front line of fire, spiritually speaking, and there is much they have to endure that most wouldn’t allow. A lot of people in the congregation think that because they pay the pastor or missionary that he has to obey them in everything. Don’t get me wrong as I believe in accountability but the people don’t own the heart and soul of the pastor and missionary. God owns their soul and is the One whose will should be followed completely and wholeheartedly.

Preaching in the right spirit and with all a person’s heart is quite similar to a day’s work. It’s easy to complain that the pastor doesn’t do anything but a person who says that hasn’t watched a true pastor give himself up in his preaching.

pastorprayer

Brothers and sisters, pray for your pastor. Pray that he will stand true to the Word of God and do what’s right regardless of the cost. Pray that his heart will be touched by what he studies and that the Holy Spirit will speak to him, first, then speak through him when he preaches. Pray that his heart will be renewed day by day. If he has a secular job as well as the ministry, buckle down and pray the Lord will give him strength for both positions. It’s not easy on a pastor to work, take time out for his family, and do what he needs to do for the family of God. Pray also for the health of the pastor who works as he will very seldom get time off.

Brothers and sisters, pray for the missionaries. Pray the same thing for the missionaries except they need added encouragement when they live in a different country. There will be culture shock on their parts and will need extra grace to adjust.

One more thing, pray that the Lord will cover both pastors and missionaries with His cloak of protection. May they each stand firm and do the Lord’s will. A strong man of God will mean one who’s ready to follow the Lord and guide his ministry in the way that they should go but a weak man of God means his ministry will fall into apostasy.

Who Are The Christians?

The following description of a peculiar people comes from a book written in the second century, entitled, Epistola ad Diognetum. It is quoted by John T. Christian in his History of the Baptists, in a description of what the people of God looked like in their environment. Can it be said of you and I that we are so distinctive in our towns?

The Christians are not distinguished from other men by country, by language, nor by civil institutions. For they neither dwell in cities by themselves, nor use a peculiar tongue, nor lead a singular mode of life. They dwell in the Grecian or barbarian cities, as the case may be; they follow the usages of the country in dress, food, and the other affairs of life. Yet they present a wonderful and confessedly paradoxical conduct They dwell in their own native lands, but as strangers. They take part in all things, as citizens; and they suffer all things, as foreigners. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every native land is a foreign. They marry, like all others; they have children; but they do not cast away their offsprings. They have the table in common, but not wives. They are in the flesh, but do not live after the flesh. They live upon the earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the existing laws, and excel the laws by their lives. They love all, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and yet they are condemned. They are killed and made alive. They are poor and make many rich. They lack all things, and in all things abound. They are reproached, and glory in their reproaches. They are calumniated, and are justified. They are cursed, and they bless. They receive scorn, and they give honor. They do good, and are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice, as being made alive. By the Jews they are attacked as aliens, and by the Greeks persecuted; and the cause of the enmity their enemies cannot tell. In short, what the soul is to the body, the Christians are in the world. The soul is diffused through all the members of the body, and the Christians are spread through the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but it is not of the body; so the Christians dwell in the world, but are not of the world. The soul, invisible, keeps watch in the visible body; so also the Christians are seen to live in the world, for their piety is invisible. The flesh hates and wars against the soul; suffering no wrong from it, but because it resists fleshly pleasures; and the world hates the Christians with no reason, but they resist its pleasures. The soul loves the flesh and members, by which it is hated; so the Christians love their haters. The soul is enclosed in the body. but holds the body together; so the Christians are detained in the world as in a prison; but they contain the world. Immortal, the soul dwells in the mortal body; so the Christians dwell in the corruptible, but look for incorruption in heaven. The soul is the better for restriction in food and drink; and the Christians increase, though daily punished. This lot God has assigned to the Christians in the world; and it cannot be taken from them. 

(Epist. Ad Diognetum, C. 5 and 6 p.69 sq. Otto. Lips., 1852).

Brokenness of Heartache

In the post called If You Love Me…Part 2, I mentioned heartache and how there are times we sorrow over certain events. Let me remind you, dear reader, what a tender heart the Lord has for His beloved.

Isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon Him for He careth for you.

As we look around at life and the things that are happening, our hearts groan with the sorrow of it all. Everything seems to be falling apart, even within our own hearts. I wonder, sometimes, how people can go forward when it seems like even myself, as a believer fails so much. How can I expect anyone else to follow the Lord when I can’t seem make it at times?

Even in the darkest hours when we struggle to make it through another sorrow, or wake up another day wondering what will happen next and who will hurt us, when our hearts are torn apart because someone we care about refuses to have anything to do with us due to us following the Lord, a deep depression breaks over our soul and we can’t pinpoint just why, or pain (mental, spiritual or physical) keeps us awake through the night and we can’t sleep; just remember the Lord cares and hears.

godincontrol

Yet, the whole of sorrow is something we must endure at some point or another. How can we get through those times? What kind of responses should we have? It’s so easy to fret and fume, to be restless and uneasy because of what we have to deal with in the midst of that trial or tribulation. Sorrow is something that is good for us and we must sorrow at times but not as those of this world. We can still have peace and rest in the midst of our sorrows.

God is still in control and our sorrows didn’t take Him by surprise so let us learn to be still. Let us remember that the Lord works all things out for His glory and our, those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, good. Let us learn to cast our cares on our Lord and leave them with Him no matter how difficult the path or long the road. He is there and has promised He will “never leave us nor forsake us.” He will pour out His grace upon us and give us strength for the next step.

So, dear friend, trust Him because He alone is trustworthy!

Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment 2

February 9, 2017

B. What contentment is opposed to

But what, then, it will be asked, is this quietness of spirit opposed to?

1. It is opposed to murmuring and repining at the hand of God, as the discontented Israelites often did. If we cannot bear this either in our children or servants, much less can God bear it in us.

2. To vexing and fretting, which is a degree beyond murmuring.

3. To tumultuousness of spirit, when the thoughts run distractingly and work in a confused manner, so that the affections are like the unruly multitude in the Acts, who did not know for what purpose they had come together. The Lord expects you to be silent under His rod, and, as was said in Acts 19: 36, “Ye ought to be quiet and to do nothing rashly.”

4. It is opposed to an unsettled and unstable spirit, whereby the heart is distracted from the present duty that God requires in our several relationships—towards God, others, and ourselves. We should prize duty more highly than to be distracted by every trivial occasion.

the-rare-jewel-of-christian-contentment-by-jeremiah-burroughs

5. It is opposed to distracting, heart-consuming cares. A gracious heart so esteems its union with Christ and the work that God sets it about, that it will not willingly suffer anything to come in to choke it or deaden it. A Christian is desirous that the Word of God should take such full possession as to divide between soul and spirit (Heb 4: 12), but he would not allow the fear and noise of evil tidings to take such a hold in his soul as to make a division and struggling there, like the twins in Rebekah’s womb (Gen 25:22).

– by Jeremiah Burroughs

Creator and Sustainer of Life

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Isaiah 40:25-26 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things,that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

Mind boggling! Mind blown! We hear these expressions used often both by people we know as well as movies we see. Sometimes it means amazement over something but other times it’s used as an expression of sarcasm about someone who didn’t get something they should have. We also see it when the hand is used as a means of showing something that blows up along with hearing the sound of an explosion.

The reality is that our mind should be amazed over God and His attributes. Everything He is, is so much more than we could ever hope to be. The phrase “You can be anything you want to be or do anything you want to do” pales for humans in comparison to God. This phrase truly does fit Him but cannot, in its truest sense, fit us. There are many things we can’t be or do no matter how much we might want it.

When God created the world He spoke and it was. That, in itself, is mind boggling. No matter how much I want to speak something into existence I will never be able to do so. God created heaven, earth, everything in it and on it, all the heavenly bodies, and the universe simply by saying it will be and it was.

What blows my mind is how He sustains every bit of life. From the tiniest atom to the biggest star, planet, universe, or whatever it is that is biggest in our domain. He not only sustains life but knows every single detail about every living object and inanimate object. He is personally involved in each person’s life whatever happens because He controls everything.

Every detail that is minutely part of our life is known by God and He isn’t up in heaven wringing His hands saying, “Oh, dear! What am I going to do. Something horrible happened to them and I guess I’ll have to go to plan B, now.” No, God is fully in control and can take care of every little detail necessary.

Now, having explained all that, let’s break it down into a myriad of things all at one time. We see the trees green in the summer, flowers blooming, little children running around screaming with excitement, little bugs scurrying all over the place, animals running to and fro, grass growing, clouds floating in the sky, the mama taking care of the house or out working, the dad at his work, the sick person praying, the goldfish swimming in the tank, etc., etc., etc. Each breath you take is given by God and yet, everything that happens is known by Him always with no exception.

That, my friend, is mind blowing information (with the explosion sound and movement of the hand). What is even more exciting and boggling to the mind is that God cares so much that He could hear your prayer, mine and every person that is alive today, if we were all praying at the same time. Mind blown! Here is a depth that cannot be fathomed and a height that we can only wonder at. In the end we have to say, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Rev 4:11.

You Are…

You are my Glory and my Hope
Perfect in all Your ways
You are the One in Whom I rest
You are my Hope and Stay

You are my Wisdom and my Rock
The Blesser of my soul
The Hearer of my painful cries
You’re holy and faithful

You are the One in whom I trust
The Strength’ner of my heart
You are my Shield and Protection
You’ll never more depart

You uphold all your righteous ones
You are my Hiding Place
You are the One Who gives me food
My Light, my Truth, my Grace

You are Alpha and Omega
You are the First and Last
When You come back to take me home
My sin will all be past.

Words by Violet Escalera – January 2017
(Can be sung to the tune of Amazing Grace)