Protect Yourself !!!

Protect yourself! You hear it all the time. Protect your identity, protect your vehicle, protect your home, get a flu shot. But do you hear anybody talk about protecting your heart from being caught in a snare?

Jesus spoke of this in Luke 17. He tells his disciples that offenses will come. When he spoke of offenses, he was referring to situations that would cause them to stumble or fall. Offenses are traps or snares that take our hearts captive. Much like the branch of a tree is pulled down and attached to a rope so that it can snare rabbits or other small animals.

Each of us could become ensnared and one major way for that to occur would be by refusing to forgive. Right after Jesus’ warning of offenses (snares), he talks about the brother sinning against them and then repenting: not only once, but even seven times in a day. His advice or counsel was for them to forgive each time.

Refusing to forgive can lead to anxiety, anger, depression and a host of physical elements. It would be wise for us to forgive and by doing so, we are not setting the offender free: we really are freeing ourselves.

Forgiveness is not explaining away the offense or allowing the person to be free from the consequences of their wrong. It is simply freeing them from owing you anything.

I remember a conference speaker referring to a situation when he was the principal of the school. He explained how a student brought a firearm to school. When he was caught, he was very sorry and in tears asked the principal for forgiveness. The principal told the boy that he forgave him, but that he could not speak for the law which he also offended. With that, he picked up the phone and called the police. When we forgive, we are acting in the same manner: forgiving them of a debt owed to us, but still having them answer to God concerning their offense against him.

Outside of being persecuted for Christ, you are not required to be a doormat and allow people to wound and hurt you. But you are required to forgive. Remember, when you forgive, the person you freeing is yourself.

The Motive (Psalm 95:10)

From the beginning, man has always looked outside of himself when it comes to blame for his actions. It started in the garden and continues to this present day. People have blamed ethnic heritage, financial status, lack of education, social oppression, situational circumstances and even the sins of others as an excuse or cause for their sinful actions. However, God sees the matter differently.

Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: (Psalms 95:10)

God reveals that the origin of sin is in our hearts. It is a heart of lust and covetousness that steals items from those who worked for them. It is a prideful and angry heart that lashes out at those who hinder them from gaining what they desire. It is a proud selfish heart that believes people are just objects to satisfy its sexual pleasures. It is an envious and jealous heart that gossips about others in an attempt to make themselves look better. It is not the Italian, Irish, German or any other ethnic culture that causes a person to have angry or wrathfully outbursts. It is the heart of a person that determines their actions. Circumstances do not determine actions or else everybody would respond the same way to those circumstances. However this is not the case.

Consider for example people who work with a complaining coworker. Some may respond with anger while others may respond with compassion. While some may react by complaining about the complaining coworker, still others may put a lid on their emotions and just deal with it. If situations cause people’s reactions, then the situation must cause the same reaction in all people all of the time. Since they don’t, then the motive for reactions must come from within the individual.

How have you been acting lately? Your outward actions reveal to yourself the condition of your heart. Consider the following verses.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil:for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. (Luke 6:45)

I Am Tired Of Forgiving (Luke 17:3)

I have been in the same church for over 30 years. I have many friends in the church: with some I am very close while others are a little distant. I have worked together with many of them on projects, ministry outreaches, and missions trips, but not without incidents or problems. Some problems were worked out quickly because all in involved applied biblical principles. However many situations arose where problems occurred that did not get resolved as expected. Feelings were hurt, people refused to communicate with each other, resentments grew, which resulted in words and actions of anger.

Why? I thought that the church was supposed to be a wonderful place where believers could experience a little bit of Heaven on Earth. The church is a wonderful place, but it is made up of believers that still have their sin natures and many do not always act and respond to problems as stated in the scriptures.

The Lord admonishes us about forgiving our brothers. In fact, he tells us that if a brother sins seven times in a day, repents and asks for forgiveness, we are to forgive.

Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. (Luke 17:3)

With this passage many focus on and teach that we must continually forgive those who repent and seek forgiveness for sin, but this passage teaches more than that. It reveals that brothers and sisters in Christ, who truly repent of sinful actions, can quickly fall back into that very sin. We must understand that some believers are in a great battle with anger. While others battle to bridle their tongue and engage in this battle continually. People can become bound in more sins than just alcohol, drugs and pornography. These people, that we love and who continually fall into sin and seek forgiveness, are just as bound. As we deal with each other, we must remember this and exercise longsuffering, mercy and compassion.

When we understand the battle with sin that others are experiencing, it makes it much easier to forgive.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

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Insecurity (1 Samuel 18:7-13)

Because of disobedience, the prophet Samuel informed Saul that The Lord had rejected him as King and was appointing another to replace him. In addition, Saul experienced trouble from an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:14). During this struggle, Saul encountered the battle with the Philistines, Goliath and David’s victory. These events brought insecurity into the heart of Saul, which resulted in destructive behaviors.

When David was lauded for his victory, the announcement caused Saul’s heart to be filled with anger and grief. Samuel informed Saul that the kingdom would be torn from his hand and because it appeared that David may be the man, Saul became fearful and jealous. Instead of Saul managing the event, the event instead began to manage or control him. From that moment forward, Saul eyed or suspected David of evil and as Saul continued to crumble, his emotions became actions. He began to attack what he believed to be the source of his trouble and eventually out of fear rejected or removed David from his life.

These attitudes and actions of Saul are some of the very things we do when we are insecure. Because of insecurity, we experience anger, fear, and jealousy. We then become suspicious and attacking towards those around us. In the end, we attempt to push away from us those that are causing us to experience insecurity.

People are not the source of our insecurity, we are. We become insecure when we think that success is our responsibility. Remember, we are never commanded to be successful, but we are commanded to be faithful.