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.

Brass for Gold (1 Kings 14:25-27)

Each year, my family tries to get away on vacation and go to the eastern seashore. There we try to relax, forget about all of the busyness of life and enjoy the ocean. For just one week, all the cares of work, bills, house repairs, and everything else that is burdensome is put on the shelf.

However, for the Christian this type of escaping can never happen. For the Believer, each day is yet a continuation of the battle that was experienced the day before. Regardless of where you go or what you try to do to escape it can never be accomplished. There is a battle everyday. The Christian life is not a life of ease, but it is definitely better than the life without God.

There are times when the believer does not experience victory. This can happen because of yielding to sin or by the believer trying to fight the battle on his own. When we are losing the battle, the enemy is able to gain an advantage and not completely take over. They are just able to get a foothold into the Christian’s life. If their foothold is not recognized, more ground will be gained in future battles until the heart of the believer is completely turned against God.

The first ground taken or foothold gained occurs when the enemy steals away the treasures of the Christian. For King Rehoboam, the treasures of the temple along with the shields of gold were taken away by Shishak of Egypt.

And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king’s house. (1 Kings 14:25-27)

For the believer, his treasures are joy, happiness, the blessings of God and the peace which passes all understanding. Once these are taken, he lives the substitute life. Rehoboam replaced the gold with brass. It looked similar, but it wasn’t. It was just a substitute. The believer who is beginning to lose the battle, struggles to put on the joy, happiness and peace that he once had. At best his shows the substitutes. His smile isn’t real, his shout is weak and he stumbles in his walk. All the while, his heart is deceiving him.

For this reason, we must continue to read God’s word so that he can pierce our hearts, show us our condition, grant us repentance and restore us again with his blessings. We must continually yield ourselves to him so that he can guides us back to himself.

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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David Encouraged Himself (1 Samuel 29-30)

After running from Saul and taking refuge in the land of the Philistines, David again finds himself in a troubling time. David fought the Philistine’s battles with them and served his master well, but at the time when they would face the Israelites, David was forbidden and wrongfully accused. David defended himself and tried to persuade his master to allow him to fight his enemies, but without success.

David, a man after God’s own heart, was rejected and wrongfully accused. Why was God allowing it to happen? Why did bad things happening to such a good man? Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Have you ever done right in the work place only to be attacked? Have you ever withstood evil only to suffer loss as a consequence? When facing situations like this, we, like David, must recognize that a God is still in control.

Although things looked grim, God’s was using the wrongful accusation against David. Had it not been for his inability to fight for the Philistines, David would not have returned to Ziklag soon enough to lead the rescue for the women and children (1 Samuel 30:1-2). While in the midst of adverse circumstances, David encouraged or strengthened himself in The Lord (1 Samuel 30:6). In other words, as the battle raged in his heart, David held strong for The Lord. Victory in that battle led him to seek The Lord for counsel even though it appeared that The Lord had forsaken him (1 Samuel 30:8). Because of this, David prevailed, the women and children were rescued and The Lord was magnified.

As you face your most difficult trials, remember that God is sovereign and Lord over all, battle to keep your heart believing in God and continue to seek his face regardless of how things may appear. When you do, God will provide the guidance and deliverance needed.

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.