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.

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Take Refuge (Psalm 28:7)

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Some time ago, my wife and I were enjoying ourselves as we explored the capital city of the Dominican Republic. We decided to rest and sit on the shore and watch a ship pass, but after some time, we noticed a storm coming in off of the coast. Being intrigued by the sight, we lingered a bit too long and found ourselves caught in a down pour. While holding hands, we scurried through the tiny streets of the city and finally found a small cafe to take refuge. Needless to say, it wasn’t any where nearly as romantic as the movies make it seem. But regardless of the fact, we found refuge from the storm.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. (Psalms 28:7)

The psalmist declared that his heart trusted in The Lord. By that, he was stating that when his trouble arose, he sought refuge in The Lord and subsequently The Lord gave him help. God may not have necessarily removed the trouble, but he did bring help to his heart. Sadly to say, but many believers as they face troubles do not immediately seek refuge in The Lord. They struggle alone trying to battle the circumstances and become weary in the process. God has never intended that to be. He always wants us to abound in Christ and to experience joy and contentment regardless of the circumstances.

As you face trials, seek The Lord early. He will be found and you will find refuge for your soul.

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Peace In The Storms (Mark 4:37, 39)

The waves were rolling high and every effort to prepared for them was useless. They pounded upon the sides of the vessel, flooded over into the boat and lowered it deeper into the grips of the sea. Frantically the disciples tried to bail out the water, but their efforts were met with the dismal blows of the storm. Unless help would arise, the ship would go down and all would be lost.

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full…
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:37, 39)

Some 30 odd years ago, my life was in a similar state. As life pounded upon my empty heart, the swirling sea began swallowing it into despair. All my efforts towards happiness, were useless. Pales of success, possessions, and ways of escape were unable to remove the water from my vessel. Unless help would arise, I would have gone down and been lost.

And then, I finally heard Jesus calling me. He had been working all the while, but I didn’t recognize him. My sinful heart and religious efforts drowned out the soft tender voice of his calling. It was only when I fell broken and hopeless that I heard him. I responded to his call and immediately he was at my side. He lifted me from the storm and placed me upon a solid rock in the midst of the waves. No longer could they flood my upon heart. As they dashed upon the rock upon which I was placed, I experienced no fear. The storm clouds parted and rays of God’s shining love brought warmth to my heart. The storms of life were still all around me, but as peace and calm are in the eye of the storm, I enjoyed a similar peace and calm in the eye of his care. For over 30 years , he still brings peace in the midst of my storms.

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.

https://www.createspace.com/4441566

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Why Do We a Fear? (Matthew 8:26-27)

Fear is something all of us have experienced and hope to avoid. Sometimes we face trials in life without fear and at other times, fear controls our actions, robs us of the pleasures in life and is the cause for many sleepless nights. Why do we fear? What can we do to keep from fearing?

Fear is the emotion that we experience when we face situations that present harm to us or impending doom. Our two natural responses are to fight the situation or to run away. Running from fear may be the best option. If your house is on fire, run. If you find your self crossing the street and an inattentive driver is speeding your way, get out of the way. If you get attacked by an individual, your best response may be to fight your way out. Fighting and running away are good responses, but they will not work for us as we face trials in life. Believers can experience high levels of fear in their lives as they face trials. Running away from problems does not work. Fighting trials creates more trials such as anxiety, depression, resentment, anger, bitterness and the list can go on. The reason people fear is because they do not understand or recognize the Lord’s power or plan to deal with the situations that they are facing. (Matthew 8:26-27)

In the Gospel of Matthew, the disciples experienced fear as they faced the storm at sea with the waves coming over the sides of the boat. Granted they did wake The Lord and asked him to save them, but they were also amazed when he spoke the sea into calmness. What did the disciples expect Jesus to do when they awoke him? Did they expect him to aid in bailing out the water? Did they expect him to provide to them an extra measure of ability to fight the storm? Looking back at the event reveals that he had neither intention. The disciples had fear because they did not understand the power that The Lord possessed. Later in their lives they would grasp this understanding and willfully place their lives on the line as they spread the gospel to the entire world. But at this time, their knowledge was limited. Fear also comes when a person fails to grasp the sovereignty of God and recognizes that he is in control and can work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

When facing trials, do not fight your way through or run from them. Instead, look to The Lord. Pray for him to guide your steps through the trial. Cast your care upon him and let him know that you are depending on him to resolve the issue or to give you strength to endure the trial (1 Peter 5:7). The victory will always come through him and not from ourselves. If you have any comfort or confidence in your plans of action, you are most likely facing the trial alone because you have not yet relinquished control of the trial to The Lord. It is important to remember that if you do respond to problems correctly, the trial may not necessarily disappear as quickly as it came. Trials are for a purpose and until the purpose is attained, the trial will continue. Your faith may need to be displayed before many people before the trial ends. Until that time arrives, God wants you to experience peace in the midst of your trial.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

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.

https://www.createspace.com/4441566