Love Your Life – Hate Your Life (John 12:25-26)

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (John 12:25-26)

At some point in the believer’s life, he comes to this passage and assesses himself by trying to determine if he loves or hates his life. Many may conclude that those who hate their lives can only accomplish this by denying themselves of any desires and live lives of abasement and self denial. Although this view may seem accurate, it is similar to living life much like the Pharisees did. In their own eyes, these individuals never seem to reach the satisfactory level of hating their own lives. They constantly seek for and add new regulatory guidelines for living the “hated” or “denied” life.

Thankfully, The Lord has made a life that pleases him much more easily attained and enjoyable. Jesus simply defines the life he desires by saying, “Let him follow me.” So before breaking out your spiritual scourging instrument and beating yourself into subjection and self denial, ask yourself, “Do I want to walk with Jesus today and am I willing to follow him where he leads me?” If your answer is yes, God is pleased. If your answer is no, he wants you to know that you will not gain what you seek and will lose whatever joy you already have.

It is understood that there will be people who are deceived in their hearts about their answers, but God is able to deal with their deception by bringing needed truth to their hearts. Until he does, our efforts of setting them straight will be of no avail. If your life is like most Christians, you may vacillate in your position as you live throughout the day. If you find yourself walking away from The Lord and seeking your own will, desires or gain, confess your fault to The Lord, believe he has forgiven you and begin following him from that point on.

Jesus came to give us life that is more abundant and free. When you are following him, you will experience the joy that comes with it. If you are not experiencing his joy, something is drastically wrong. I am not saying that circumstances in life that may result from following him will always be easy or pleasant, but you should be experiencing the joy of The Lord and the sweetness of his presence.


Deliver My Heart (2 Samuel 22:28-29)

Sometimes life is just depressing. Like huge waves, the circumstances of life overwhelm and press upon the soul burying it in the waves of sorrow, sadness and dispair. Is there hope for this type of depression? In 2 Samuel 22:28-29, The Lord touches on just one aspect of this broad condition.

And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down. For thou art my lamp, O Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness (2 Samuel 22:28- 29).

One of the Biblical terms for depression is the word affliction. The various words used for affliction convey the idea of being depressed, poor and crowded in. In other words, the circumstances in life crowd a person’s heart creating depression and a perceived inability to escape. For this condition, The Lord declares that help will be found in his word. By his word, he promises to save or as the word is defined: to be open, wide or free. God’s word promises to remove the constraints upon the heart that were caused by life’s difficult circumstances. He accomplishes this by bringing light into the darkness of the heart. The light may bring guidance or comfort. This light and wide open freedom in the heart comes from hope provided by his word. Remember, hope is not something longed for that you wish would happen. It is the expectancy in the heart that God will do what he has promised.

Elijah had hope when he said that it would not rain until he would speak it to happen. Abram, even in his old age, hoped when he received the promise of a son through Sara. David had hope after receiving the news of his newly born son’s death. Zacharias had hope after hearing that Elisabeth would bare him a son. Hannah, Joseph in Egypt, the centurion and the woman with the issue of blood all had hope. And the list can go on.

As you struggle with the circumstances in life, look to God and his word. From it, you will find the hope needed to deliver your heart from being crowded in.

For those who are chronically depressed, a network of support will be needed. It will not be something that you can face or overcome alone. Seek guidance from those who have been successful at aiding depressed individuals overcome. Professional help may be needed and you will not be faithless in seeking their aid. Faithless people either cease from striving to overcome or place their faith in sources other than God. As these people guide you, look to God for strength as you take each step. This is all that he expects from you.

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Blessed Are The Merciful (Matthew 5:7)

Mercy is an action that occurs as the result of compassion. Many believe that mercy is the act of allowing somebody the opportunity to get away with wrong doing by not bringing judgment upon them. Simply allowing wrong to be done without any type of consequence would be an injustice.

A person exercises mercy when his judgment is mingled with compassion. Compassion moves the individual to take an alternative measure which would bring about the same result as judgment. God, who is rich in mercy, acted differently towards man than simply exercising his holy and righteous judgment. Because of mercy, he sent his son in our place to receive the retribution for our sin.

God declares that when we respond with mercy towards those who have wronged us, we will be blessed. Being merciful is not easy. However after experiencing being poor in spirit and mourning over your own sins, seeing others through eyes of mercy is much more easily attained. Those who exercise mercy decide to focus on what a fallen sinner needs to be victorious instead of having the tunnel vision of justice being served. When people commit sins against others such as lying, gossiping and offensive or hurtful acts, those with mercy will focus on why the person fell into such sins and seek to respond in the best manner to restore them. It is important to remember that this should not just be viewed as an action to put on and copy, but that responding in mercy will be the result of God’s grace working in your life as manifested in the Beatitudes.

Paul best demonstrates this principle in his dealings with Onesimus. Philemon had every right to bring justice upon Onesimus for his wrong doing, but Paul urged him to recognize what was best for Philemon and to act in mercy.

As you interact with people each day, you have the wonderful opportunity to display God’s compassion through mercy shown to others. You can obtain this work of grace as you walk, fellowship and live a yielded life to God.

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RAPE (2 Samuel 13)

The desire in his heart moved him to target her. With innocence and love she cared for her brother as his plan to satisfy himself unfolded. He forced himself upon her and then cast her aside as refuse. What were the results of this act and specifically, how did they affect Tamar?

When Amnon forced himself upon his sister, he did more than just take her virginity. His wounds went much deeper because he first deceived her with love. He conveyed love by desiring that he needed her to care for him. His deception of being sick played upon her empathy and falsely convey his need for her. This deception of love may have created wounds just as deep as the rape itself.

Amnon traumatized Tamar by his act of physical aggression. Her cries of reasoning fell deafly upon his ears. His heart was not concerned for love, but only lust. Although the physical struggle may have only lasted for moments, she would continually struggle with it by reliving that moment for years to come. Amnon also victimized Tamar with shame. Tamar would experience shame as the community looked her, but more so would she face shame as she looked upon herself. The one she may possibly be able to escape, but the other would be ever present. Before rape, Tamar proudly wore the garments that the King’s virgin daughters wore. After rape, she wore shame and disgrace. Her character, reputation and testimony were stolen from her.

Possibly the greatest of wounds occurred when she became hated by Amnon. The term for hatred conveys the idea that the subject of hate is counted as an enemy. In Amnon’s eyes, Tamar became the enemy. He saw it as her fault. Her beauty, delicateness and femininity caused it all. He probably saw himself as the victim of her beauty and was unable to control himself.

As an outcast, Tamar remained stunned and devastated as those around her did nothing. Then after two years, Amnon was killed by Tamar’s brother. Amnon paid the price for the wrong that he did to his sister, but his payment did not removed any of the wounds created by his selfish sinful act. Tamar wound carry those wounds with her for the rest of her life.

You or someone you love may be the victim of sexual abuse. There is hope in the midst of this devastation. God recorded this passage to reveal to them that he understands the depth of their hurt and wants to bring the deliverance that is so desperately needed. It will not be an easy road of recovery, but he will provide the strength, people and resources that is needed to overcome.

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It’s Not Just About You (2 Samuel 5:12)

David, after being annointed King over both Judah and Israel, moved upon Jerusalem. The inhabitants resisted him and mocked his ability to overcome them. In the end, David was victorious. God had blessed him and provided this victory, but not necessarily for David’s sake. God gave David the victory for the people’s sake. God may use you or work in your life to overcome obstacles, but when he does, you need to remember, It’s not just about you.

And David perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake. (2 Samuel 5:12)

You heard of the phrase, “No man is an island”. The statement declares that regardless of how much we may try to separate ourselves from others, our lives still affect other people. When God works in your life, he also is doing a work in the lives of countless others.

An example of this could be when friends and I, at 18 years of age, were traveling home from school. While on a back road, a tire became flat. Before I could get out to work on the flat, a car pulled up and offered to help. The car I was driving belonged to my sister and of course when we opened the trunk, there wasn’t a spare. Quickly, the stranger took off the wheel, threw it into his vehicle and said he would return. I sat there and thought to myself, “What have I done? Before I only had a flat tire. Now I only have three wheels. What am I going to do, if this guy doesn’t return?” After some time, he returned with the repaired tire, put it back onto the car and neatly put away all the tools. It was then, that he handed me a gospel tract. I never read it and I didn’t need to. I knew that I had met somebody who had something that I did not and that I needed to search out the matter. A few years later, I came to Christ. Since then, I surrendered to the ministry, went to Bible college, served in ministry for decades, reached countless souls for Christ, became a teacher, principal, Dean of students and vice-president of academics at a Bible college. All of this because of a flat tire. Today there are many serving as pastors, missionaries, teachers and secretaries because of that day.

How would things have been had I not had the flat tire. Was God concerned about me? Yes, but more so in how his work upon me would affect others. Your situations in life are not just about you. They are about others. We will never know on this side of eternity exactly how God is working. What we must do is recognize that we are but a very small aspect of his great plan. As you travel through your day, look for the opportunities that The Lord puts before you. Some of them may be positive experiences and others negative, but in either instance, God is working good on your behalf and also for the benefit of others.

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Why Must I Suffer (Philippians 1:29)

Why do I have to suffer? If I am saved and a child of God, why does not God keep me safe from ill and harm? It just does not make sense. Cannot God receive great glory by keeping me from these evils? Will not God’s deliverance and a better life drawn people to him?

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (Philippians 1:29)

Do these questions sound familiar? Have you asked these questions? If so, you are one of the countless number of believers who have experienced this struggle. The answer is in the scriptures, but it may not be simple nor easy to receive.

From the fall of man until now, man has always sought to have life focus around him and his desires. Wars have come about because of a clash in desires between people. Nations have tumbled by judgment because the people sought their own way. Religion is the work of man trying to gain the blessing of God based on merits or achievements. Any gain obtained in these situations would be wrought by man and at best sharing glory with God.

God however has a different plan. He has chosen the foolish and weak things of this world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27). By choosing the foolish and weak things, God is clearly recognized as the provider of the blessing, strength or deliverance. The lost and the saved experience the same problems in life: the former without hope and the latter by God’s aid. When we were astray and wanted nothing to do with God, he sought us. He worked in our lives bringing us to the point of recognizing our sinful condition and need for a savior. Because he paid our debt on the cross, redeemed us from sin, adopted us into his family, became our father and blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3-7), he has the right to do with our lives as he pleases.

He continues to work in the heart of unbelievers and is drawing them to himself. When Christ is lifted up, all men will be drawn to him. By lifting up Christ in your life, men will be drawn to Him. His strength to you in trials and comfort in the midst of sickness, loss and trouble will lift up Christ before others. Because he does not use our strength, he solely receives the glory that he deserves.

This is why we experience trouble. This is why God allows us to experience sorrow, pain and suffering. We may not like it, but when we yield to him, we gain what truly is best for our lives.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

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Magnify Christ (Philippians 1:20)

When I was a boy, I received a microscope for a Christmas present. It was one of the best presents I ever received. With it, I was able to see and explore things beyond my recognition. I quickly found myself rummaging through the house for items to put under the scope. Paper, ink markings, skin, bugs, leaves or anything else that poked at my imagination. Everything was so big and details that I could never see before were suddenly before my eyes.

So now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. (Philippians 1:20)

Our lives are like microscopes. We demonstrate the hidden things of Christ that the world cannot see and magnify them in plain sight. This is done by the fruit of the Spirit being manifested in our lives, which exalts and magnifies Christ. Anybody can put on the pretense of religion, but longsuffering, gentleness and goodness cannot be mimicked.

As you walk with Christ today, allow him to live through you and reveal himself to others. The most difficult part of this is to get out of his way. As we die to ourselves, Christ can reveal himself through us. Remember, the salvation and growth of those around us are dependent upon it.