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.

Why are all these things happening to me?

You may ask, Why are all these things happening to me?  Life has its ups and downs.  However there are times in our lives that everything seems to turn upside down.  Imagine a family in an economic struggle. They are forced to relocate and in their pursuit face one devastating trial after another.  In the end, sickness and death take their toll.  Why?  Where was God?  I guess if you want to know, you will need to ask Ruth.

Controversial as it may seem, Elimelech and his family moved to Moab.  I don’t believe that any of the family members knew exactly what was happening.  Even Naomi when she later returned to Bethlehem didn’t quite understand.  However if you spoke with Ruth, you would hear the story of how God used terrible circumstances for a family to rescue her from idolatry and bring her into a relationship with the one and true God.  This family experienced many trials and for many years and maybe because it took that long to turn Ruth’s heart.

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: (Ruth 1:16)

There are times when people come to Christ after hearing the gospel only a few times, but there are others, who are steeped in false religion, who will need a demonstration of the gospel’s power before coming to Christ. So as you experience trials in your life and you have ruled out the chances of sinful consequence or chastisement, your life and its trials may just be a light in a very dark place.  Accept where you are, look for God’s grace, and declare to others what he is doing in your life.  You may never find out what God is actually doing or you may discover a Ruth in your midst.

What Is Stopping You? (Matthew 21:32)

What does it take?  In order to be or do something, it usually requires some preliminary steps or skills.  To run, you first need to walk.  To read, you must memorize and recognize letters, their sounds and words.  But what about something like believing.  What does that take?

For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.  (Matthew 21:32)

It appears that repentance affects a person’s ability to believe.  It seems that when the publicans and harlots had their lives changed as a result of John’s message, those who witnessed it should have then recognized John as a man from God.  Yielding to that truth would then have caused the listeners to accept and believe John’s message and how it pertained to their lives.  By repenting, they would have enabled themselves to believe.

Repentance continues to be a major aspect of the believer’s life both before and after salvation.  In salvation, man must repent and believe what God had said about him and his sinful condition.  Once man recognizes and yields to this, his entire attitude about himself, his condition and his ability to save himself will be changed.  He then can believe the gospel.  Again, repenting enables a person to believe.

Repentance continues to affect us after salvation.  As we face trials and difficulties, our hearts have a tendency to have fear and sometimes even doubt about the goodness of God.  It is only when we allow God’s word to turn our hearts around and accept the truth of passages such as Romans 8:28, that we then again can believe and trust the Lord.

What action of repentance do you need to do in order to help you believe and trust God?

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His Face Is Not Hid (Psalm 22:24)

At times, life can be very difficult. Not just for a few people, but everybody on the planet. Health issues, financial strains, domestic upheavals, death, enemies, violent crimes or any other negative experience cause difficulty for our lives. What makes those times even more difficult is the mental struggle that we endure until the difficulty ends.

Many during these times turn their focus towards God. They either focus on him for help or question his holiness. The Psalmist faced a similar situation, but maintain integrity in his faith by recognizing that even when it seems that God is not responding, he does not look down on our affliction and hears our prayer.

For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. (Psalms 22:24)

Regardless of how circumstances may appear, God is attentive to us and our problems. By his sovereignty, he will accomplish his intended purposes and afterwards bring deliverance. Victory for us is not so much deliverance from the trial, but more so in the battle that occurs in our hearts. We must trust or have faith in the goodness and holiness of God and not allow the enemies’ accusations to abide in our hearts. This battle will not be easy, but by truth from God’s word and fellowship in prayer, the battle can be won.

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Protect or Provide (Psalm 97:10-11)

Why did a loving God let this happen? How many times have people made this statement? I ask myself, “Why are they even asking such a question?” I guess some time along their lives they were told and concluded that God would keep evil from happening to them. Oh, what a wonderful thought, but is it true? I am sorry to say and also glad to say that it is not true. Think of the biblical examples that oppose this view: Abel, Adam and Eve (death of a son), Esau, Joseph, Dinah, Tamar (raped), David, the victims of Eli’s sons, and Israel as a nation. In fact, run down the list in Hebrews 11 and you must conclude that God had never promised to keep evil from happening to us.

In order for him to protect us from all evil, he would need to control every human being. That was not his plan. He gave angels their free will and one third of them kept not their first estate, but instead followed Lucifer. God has given man a free will and that decision is a major factor in his plan. Because man has a free will and that free will is a vital aspect of a God’s plan, he rarely intervenes in the actions of men. On occasions when God has intervened, we call them miracles.

What God did promise was that he would deliver our soul from that evil. God did not promise to stop people from doing harm to us or to keep harm from coming into our lives. What he promises is that whatever occurs, he will provide for us what we need so that our soul would be delivered from every evil. Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous,and gladness for the upright in heart. (Psalms 97:10-11)

For the righteous, there is one thing that we can be most confident: God will sow into our hearts that which we need so that our souls will be preserved, guarded or protected from being overcome by evil. He may not stop the problem from occurring like we desire, but he will stop the problem from destroying us.

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Deliverance (Psalm 91:15)

It seems that everybody I know is going through some type of difficult time in their lives. If they are not currently in such a situation, they will soon be entering another. Some think that as children of God, we should be exempt from such problems. Unfortunately they are wrong. Some may wonder where God is while we are alone toiling in the mire of life. Others seek him for deliverance from their trials. Sadly to say, many become angry with God when their deliverance does not come.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. (Psalms 91:15)

From this famous passage, God states that when we call upon him, he will be with us in the trouble. It is his presence that delivers us. When God delivers us from the trial, he strips the trial from us. Other forms of the word for deliver also mean to equip or present strength. God may not deliver you from the trial, but his presence will definitely deliver you through it.

As you face trials, you would be best to call out to God for his presence and strength in the trial. In the end, some form of deliverance will come.

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