Tag: love of God

What’s Your Nickname?

 

A lot of people have nicknames; names they’ve earned or possibly a name that describes them well. 

Some nicknames are funny, while others are given out of spite.

There was a guy in my army basic training unit they referred to as “chicken bones” because that’s how skinny he was.

I’ve had a few nicknames over the years. Most were fun, but some were not.

Have you ever had someone attempt to tag you with a name that is demeaning, or at least one that’s less than flattering?

Names like “Loser”, “Bum”, “Good-for-nothing”, and “Worthless”?

As a child, did anyone ever tell you that you’d never amount to anything good? Did you ever hear these words, “I wish you had never been born”?

Maybe you started thinking your real name was “Worthless”, or “Stupid”. And it’s just possible you’ve spent your entire life trying to live “up” to that name.

Joseph was a guy in the early days of Christianity. He wasn’t a big shot in the church; at least he didn’t start out as one. He was just an ordinary Joe (literally) who loved his God and God’s people.

He developed a reputation for being the kind of guy who always believed the best of others, who always had a good word to share, a go to guy if you ever needed some cheering up.

The Apostles nicknamed him Barnabas, which meant “Son of Encouragement “.

As if he had encouragement for a father.

Well, the name stuck like glue. And it’s the name the Holy Spirit used when He called him into an apostolic ministry (Acts 13).

I can just imagine how Joseph must have felt, hearing the church’s leadership team call him by his nickname.

I picture him being so pumped, he was determined more than ever to be an encouragement to others, whether they reciprocated or not. Whether they appreciated it or not.

Did you know that Jesus has a special name He calls you? No matter what you’ve done, or what you’ve gone through, He speaks that name to His Father as He prays for you.

He calls you, “Mine”.

“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” (John 17:9-10 ESV)

No matter how you’ve been labeled in the past, in Christ you are a new creation. Forget about the former failures. Let go of the nicknames that belonged to the “old man”, and embrace your Heavenly Father’s new name.

Can you imagine how your life would change if you remembered everyday what Jesus thinks of you?

I can. 

I am His and He is mine. I belong to the Lord, the Ruler of the Universe, the Savior of my soul. He has made me accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).

My heart is encouraged, knowing how He loves me. Knowing He’s not ashamed of me.

Even though I’ve failed Him more times than I care to remember, He’s never once said to me, “I wish you’d never been born.”

And He’ll never say that about you, either.

What’s your nickname? Is it one others tagged you with to be hateful to you? Were they jealous of you?

Drop that name and use the one that’s spoken before Heaven’s throne on your behalf.

“They’re MINE.”

My Dream

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The other night I dreamt I was part of an Easter play, and I was the Christ. I was excited about playing Jesus because, after all, that is definitely a leading role. I figured all I needed to do was walk around in a robe, wear a holy look on my face, glance up towards Heaven now and then, and I’d be a real hit.

However, there were a couple of things I had forgotten. Like the beating and the subsequent crucifixion.

So, after a few minutes of healing everyone and riding a donkey into town, I begin preparing to be placed on the cross. The beating wasn’t too bad, though it wasn’t a walk in the park, either.

Climbing onto the cross was a different story. I had assumed my hands and feet would merely look as though I was nailed to it, but instead I saw the nails about to be hammered into my wrist.

I stopped everything. “Hey! This isn’t supposed to be happening”, I screamed. 

Someone said, “Don’t worry, you’ll rise again.”

I started to relax, then it hit me. I was not the Christ! I wouldn’t rise again. My life couldn’t pay for my sins, let alone everyone else’s.

Then I awoke.

Two things hit me immediately.

1. The love of Christ is beyond comprehension, but not above being experienced. It was His love and faith that kept Him on course. Love for His Father and for us, and His trust in His Father’s Word. Paul said, “Faith, which works by love” (Galatians 5:6).

2. There’s more to “take up your cross daily” than I ever thought. When Jesus said those words, He wasn’t referring to wearing a gold necklace with a shiny cross attached. No, He meant for us, for me, to be so in love with Him that I follow Him completely. Even to the cross, if necessary. To trust Him to resurrect my life, my dreams, my everything.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NKJV)
Looking at the cross will never be the same.

Because of my dream.

What About The Refugees?


I wrote this last night, but looking at it today made me question the wisdom in posting it.

But low and behold, in my email today was a post by J. Lee Grady, saying somewhat the same thing.

So, why not? I believe what I wrote is truth, so with the risk of sounding like a liberal, I’m gonna talk about something that’s very dear to the heart of God.

People.

Red and yellow, black and white, they’re all precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.

But only if they were born in America, to American parents. Right?

Wrong!

The United States of America is only 239 years old. Jesus died and rose again 2,000 years ago. Why did He do it? Because He loved the world so much! 

Jesus died for the nations – regardless of their political persuasions or religious convictions. Do you hear me? THE NATIONS!

How are the nations to hear of God’s great love, and the power of the Gospel, if American missionaries are not allowed into the nations?

Hundreds of thousands of refugees are being batted about from nation to nation like badminton shuttlecocks. Their lives are up in the air, without any fault of their own.

They simply want to live. 

What if the refugee crisis is God’s way of speeding up the distribution process of His message? Well?

What if?

What if America, even as bad and as unchristian as it acts, is supposed to be God’s end time Ark of Safety?

Like you, I’ve read the posts. “America can’t afford any more refugees! Impeach Obama! He’s destroying our country!”

Yes, I’ve read all that stuff. But what if YOU were the Syrian who’s only looking for a place to live? What would you do?

God told Noah to build the ark so He could sustain life. And since God is on record as saying mankind is worth much more than sparrows, couldn’t He have planned this massive, worldwide movement?

There’s a proverb you and I should pay attention to.

“People curse those who hoard their grain, but they bless the one who sells in time of need.” (Proverbs 11:26 NLT)

What’s it mean? It’s never good to be stingy with what we have, whether as individuals or as a nation.

“But the extra load will bust our economy!” 

God is able to make all His grace abound toward those who do His will.

“If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord – and He will repay you.” (Proverbs 19:17 NLT)

We pray, “Lord, raise up workers, missionaries, and send them to the nations. God, open the door for Your glorious gospel!”

And it’s good to pray that way.

But what if God is answering those prayers in ways which make life a little more challenging for us holy Americans?

What if illegal aliens are here (unbeknownst to them) to hear the Gospel? What if the refugees aren’t coming here to make the U.S. a Muslim nation? Oh, some may THINK it’s their plan, but God has ways of bringing HIS will to pass.

How do you know what their intent is? Besides, as Joseph told his brothers, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

I’m as concerned as the next patriotic person about how can this nation take on any more people. But I have an even greater concern.

How can these people hear the Gospel that will not only change their earthly lives, but also their FOREVERS?

So what about the refugees? 

What about you and I? We’re the ones who claim to have faith in the living God. Isn’t He able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or even think?

Isn’t the God we love and serve NOT WILLING that ANY MAN PERISH?

What about the refugees? 

Open your hearts and let them in.

It could be the best thing for this nation.
Who knows?
God does.

As for the illegals? Well, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a wall built anytime soon, so I think the best one can do is trust God. 

And make sure we love the ones He loves.

How Great Is God’s Love?

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I’ve heard it said that God’s love is beyond description. I believe I understand what they mean.

Yet there is a way one can really grasp the greatness of that love, like they’ve never grasped it before.

Here’s a passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT)

Paul prayed for the Ephesians (and us) to have the power to understand how wide, long, high, and deep God’s love is. And he didn’t mean some kind of mental acknowledgement. He prayed we would experience the love of Christ, even though it’s too great to understand fully.

As I said before, I believe there’s a way for us to know and experience the love of God as never before. How?

By understanding the holiness of God, and His absolute hatred of sin.

There’s no gray area; with God things are either right or wrong, good or bad, sinful or righteous. He has never just turned His head and ignored sin. He’s not like us; sometimes we’ll ignore it because we either don’t know what to do or we would rather not be bothered.

But as I said, that’s not God’s way at all. He hates sin with such a pure hatred only He can fathom.

And His hatred is perfectly just. He is perfect in His judgments, perfect in His assessments.

There’s nothing you or I can say or do to appease His anger for our wrong doing. We deserve the full fury of His hatred of sin.

He is right, we are wrong; we are without an excuse.

Forever.

There is only one thing greater than His wrath. Only one thing more powerful than His righteous anger. 

His love. 

His love satisfies the demands of His righteous anger. His love makes a once and for all payment, releasing us from His wrath.

That’s how great His love is.

His Son came to take our place, standing in our stead, absorbing all of the Father’s just and holy hatred for sin. God poured out His fury on His Son. 

So His love could be available to us.

To anyone and everyone who receives His Son as their Lord and Savior, God sees them as people worthy of His love.

Really? Worthy of His love? Yes. Because of our new place in Christ. The Father looks on us through the eternal work of His Son.

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

How great is His love? Great enough to span the gap sin created between the righteous, holy God and people like you and I. People who could never get anywhere near God on our own merits. 

How great is God’s love?

Great enough to do the impossible, change the unchangeable, and turn a rebellious and selfish heart into one that is full of grace and mercy for others.

How great is God’s love?

Great enough to change your life. My life.

Forever.

God Loves Rainbow Lovers

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God loves rainbows and rainbow lovers.

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:8-17 ESV)

God loves rainbow lovers.

Contrary to popular belief, the rainbow doesn’t belong to any one group of people.

The rainbow wasn’t invented by the religious world, or created solely for them either. It isn’t private property of the LGBT gang, or gay rights sympathizers.

God gave it to be a sign to everyone, animals included, that He is a covenant making and covenant keeping God.

(By the way, animals don’t have a problem with God. I’ve never heard a single rabbit complain about God, or a gorilla try and explain to zoo visitors that God isn’t real.)

When God sees the rainbow in the sky He remembers His promise to never again destroy the earth with water.

When He remembers His promise, He remembers why He destroyed the earth in the first place. Wickedness in and throughout the heart of man. People just like you and I. Hell bent on doing our own thing, living our own way, and totally ignoring the One Who breathed into the first man the breath of life.

He remembers His promise. 

He doesn’t say He will never again destroy the earth. On the contrary, He declares it will be destroyed by a fervent heat.

Why will it need to be destroyed again? The same reason as before. Wickedness.

And yet, even at that, He remembers His promise. 

You see, the promise God originally made is something to behold, and it’s the place where we can and will find safety from destruction.

The rainbow, symbol of a God given promise, is powerless when used as a logo, bumper sticker, or anything like it. It’s merely a nice array of colors; nothing more, without the God of the promise. 

God loves rainbows, and He especially loves rainbow lovers. He loves those who love His promises, and take Him at His word.

In fact, people who love His promises NEVER have to be concerned about being destroyed. Because people who believe His promises find themselves changing from wickedness to righteousness. No one can consistently abide in His “Rainbow” and remain unchanged by His Presence.

There are rainbow lovers all over the world who, at one point in their life, were enemies of God. Including me. I deserved destruction, damnation, and the wrath of God. 

“…and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10 ESV)

But someone told me about His Rainbow; His Promise. I began to believe His promise, live in His promise, and allow His promise to live in me.

So now, every time God looks at His promise, He looks at me. I’m abiding in His promise; His rainbow if you will.

Abiding in the place He loves to behold.

The rainbow. What is it to you? The promise of God or something else?

Remember: God loves rainbow lovers.

Familiarity

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Familiarity:
-the state of being familiar with something
-the state of having knowledge about something
-a friendly and informal way of acting or talking

There’s an old, well-known expression regarding familiarity. You may never have said it, but I’m certain you’ve heard it.

“Familiarity breeds contempt.”

In other words, the more we get to know someone, the more apt we are to notice their faults, flaws, and freaky mannerisms. Their shining armor becomes tarnished. It’s not like we try and find something to pick at; it just happens. Their jokes are no longer funny, their apologies sound like hollow, empty words, and their table manners are abhorrently disgusting.

The honeymoon is over.

What happened? We were never bothered or irritated before when they told their jokes. Why now? Is it just because we’ve been together too long? Is that why it seems as though we’ve grown apart?

I’d say no. Probably not.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that should be changed.

For instance…

Familiarity breeds, not necessarily contempt, but slothfulness; i.e.- laziness.

I’ve noticed this in my own life: in the different places I’ve worked, and in the various relationships I’ve had through the years.

Who’s the person who normally gets the brunt of our grumpiness? People to whom we’re supposedly the closest to.

Professional drivers can, at times, let their focus on safety become slack. After all, they’ve driven the same road over a thousand times, and without incident. So what if they are driving a little fast, or the road’s a little wet. They know what they’re doing.

Until the crash that claims their life, or the life of someone else

.

A letter carrier, walking the same route everyday, house to house, can become so used to their surroundings they never notice when something changes. I know a guy who, after walking the same route, months on end, walked into the raised tailgate of a minivan. Cracked his head wide open.

Never saw it. He allowed familiarity to blind him.

Another guy tripped over a rock. Someone had changed the landscaping but the carrier didn’t see the change. He was blinded by familiarity. He quit looking. And broke his ankle.

Have you ever owned something brand new? You were its first owner. Remember how cautious you were with it? Careful! You don’t want it scratched, or messed up in any way.

At least for the first few months.

But, after a while…

A lot of the problems husbands and wives face stem from this thing called familiarity; not because the honeymoon is over.

No, generally familiarity leads to…

Laziness. Slothfulness in the way we look at people, treat loved ones, or even take care of ourselves.

Laziness in communication. No longer thrilled to spend a quiet evening with family; it’s just too boring.

And one day our world crashes in. Or we walk into a raised minivan tailgate.

Or our spouse walks out of our life for good. Or…

Familiarity can breed contempt. It can mark the beginning of an end. It can spell danger.

Yet familiarity isn’t a bad thing, because real intimacy grows from such closeness.

Familiarity is the outgrowth of shared experiences, even tragic experiences.

It’s easy to share nice, feel good experiences with someone you love. It doesn’t take much effort to enjoy the company of someone you’re physically and emotionally attracted to.

Familiarity is fun in those cases. Wouldn’t you agree?

But sooner or later, at some point in our lives, we’ll find ourselves in the familiar company of someone who irritates the daylight out of us. It may even be our spouse!

And yes, we may need a little space in order to return to some semblance of sanity. But let’s keep our eyes, and our heart, on the prize; the prize of intimacy with people we truly care about.

People we love.

Let’s endeavor to maintain intimacy with God, our spouse, our family and loved ones, in the bond of peace; regardless of the work involved.

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3 NKJV)

Familiarity breeds contempt?

It doesn’t have to.

And it won’t, if we will do our part.

My Thoughts About Gay Pride

I believe this nation has had all it can stand where political correctness is concerned.

Correctness? Who came up with that one anyway?

Do you want to know what it was that got me started on this tirade? Tonight, in my hometown, there’s a Capital Pride Parade. Why should that bother me?

Does it not bother you?

Apparently June is Gay Pride Month. Nice. It’s a month to recognize “gays” for their achievements and contributions.

Which is a nice thing to do. It’s nice to recognize people for the great things they do. It’s important for our society to honor people who make a difference in the lives of others.

But what in the name of Heaven does their sexual orientation have to do with it?

Do they do their honorable deeds because they are gay? Does their “gayness” represent something they’ve had to overcome, making their contributions much more valuable? You know, like Helen Keller? She was the first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Years ago, while watching an old Muppets movie, “Muppets Take Manhattan”, I learned something from the character named Pete. He had a line in which he said to Kermit, “I tell you what is, froggy; peoples is peoples.” Isn’t that a great line?

Why doesn’t our nation get it? Why don’t we let people just be people?

Gay Pride. Really? Pride?

Look, I’m not against anyone or any particular group; I want everyone to be happy. And I want everyone to know the love of God as revealed through his son, Jesus Christ. But pride thumbs its nose at everyone else, including God. Pride tells all who will listen, “I have a better way. I know more than you. I am better than you.”

That may work with our society. But it doesn’t impress God.

And in spite of the opinion of a few, it doesn’t add anything to someone’s story.

Let’s drop all of the labels and tags. If someone does a great thing, recognize him or her with a plaque, award and a cake. Interview them and let them tell their story. But for Pete’s sake, don’t ask them which gender they prefer to make love to! Too much information. And it’s nothing to brag about.

Pride. That in itself should be a clue something’s wrong.

Oh, by the way… About 3800 years ago there was another city having a Gay Pride parade.

But that one was rained out.

Sorry, no picture with this post. Nothing seemed appropriate.

God Gave Them Up?

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May I ask you a question or two? They’re kind of personal.

In the bible passage below, what kind of God do you see? And is this what is known as “hate speech?”

A hateful God? A loving God? “Let’s burn ’em in hell” God, or “What else can I do?” God?

You decide.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:18-32 ESV)

So, what’s your answer?

Does “God gave them up to…” mean they had no choice but to do what they did?

Have you considered how God tried to get Cain to release the murder he was harboring in his heart? He warned him, probably more than once. But Cain wouldn’t release it. So that’s what he became.

A murderer.

So is God the bad one? The bad one because he tries to get us to release the evil, the ugly, the unnatural, the cancerous, and the deadly things we hide and nurture in our hearts?

Or, is he is the good one doing everything he can to save our stinking necks?

Why would he do such a thing?

Because he knows our value.

He ought to. He paid a handsome price for us. His son.

“God gave them up…” doesn’t mean that God gave up on them. On us.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 ESV)

Now, tell me why you think God is hateful. Remind me why you say God can’t be trusted.

Tell me slowly, so I’ll catch it.

Tell me why you think the bible is full of hatred and bigotry. I used to believe such things until I started reading it. I found love pouring out of every page, for me.

And you.

Here’s something to consider... every breath we take will someday witness against us. God allows us to live as long as we live to give us all the time necessary to receive his goodness, and run into the saving arms of his son.

Please take one more breath, then read this last scripture.

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:4-5 ESV)

God is patient for us. His goodness is for us.

God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

God does give us up…but he doesn’t give up. As long as we’re alive, we can turn to him.

A Valentine Poem

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A heart’s the symbol of a valentine,
the valentine, a statement of love.
The cross is the picture of love divine, painted by the Father above.

O love divine, O perfect one,
your love has ransomed me,
O lamb of God, O glorious Son,
forever I am free.

Love dipped his brush into the crimson pail
His weeping endured through the night
The sorrow he’d known
soul wrenching travail
Burst into joy and danced with delight!

O love divine, O perfect one,
your love has ransomed me,
O lamb of God, O glorious Son,
forever I am free.

Love’s painting is finished
but not complete
Until all have come, he’ll not be through
Love’s invitation,
“please come and meet
This one who’s called Jesus. He died for you.”

O love divine, O perfect one,
your love has ransomed me,
O lamb of God, O glorious Son,
forever I am free.

Reverse the Cycle

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“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord .

Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:9-21 NLT)

Evil. Harmful. Wrong. Damaging. Injurious. Pernicious.

Life can be a vicious cycle, and can have a person running from issue to issue, crisis to crisis. I have known people, perhaps you have also, who aren’t “happy” unless they are fussing with someone, or not speaking with another; they seem to enjoy playing the victim. They carry on like they’ve been rejected by the last person on earth. Either someone has done them wrong, taken advantage of them, or they’ve been ignored completely. They show affection to loved ones but get mad when that affection isn’t reciprocated. They don’t know how to listen to someone’s pain or praise report; instead they feel the need to “one up them”. You know the ones. Your pain never is as bad as they’ve had. Blessings you’ve received never quite measure up to theirs. They can’t just say “thank you” for something you’ve done for them. No, they always have to pay you back, “get even”. They see themselves as real helpers, givers, lovers; but never recognize “giving” and “loving” with attached “strings” isn’t giving or loving at all. It’s “trading”; and with trading everything has to be even. Which means, someone may end up feeling cheated.

This kind of behavior isn’t cute, and it’s not just a nuisance. It is destructive to individuals, families, churches and the Kingdom of God. It is evil!

Evil. Harmful. Wrong. Damaging. Injurious. Pernicious.

We have a responsibility, a command, to NOT be overcome by evil, or evil ways. Instead, we are told to overcome evil with GOOD.

Okay, so what’s good? Where do we find the good to overcome evil?

Well, God is good, and His mercy endures forever! He has an abundance of good for whoever asks Him. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above”, and, “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…”, James wrote. Wisdom to handle any temptation, any desire for revenge, any urge to curse and retaliate. So the first part in overcoming evil with good is ask God for help and wisdom. Help and wisdom is good. I’ll put it another way.

We must RECOGNIZE the temptation to jump back into the vicious cycle.

The next part can be as easy as it is difficult. What I mean is, it may be hard to get started but can become easy the more you do it.

REVERSE the cycle, is the second part. Doing the opposite of what you feel like doing! For instance, someone slighted you, offended you, treated you dirty. Instead of cursing them, bless them in the Name of Jesus. Instead of showing them hatred, show them love. Go out of your way to give into their life, with no strings attached, and no record-keeping of wrongs. REVERSE the cycle of evil reaction and evil manipulation. REVERSE the urge to get even. REVERSE the desire to control others. REVERSE the cycle and live free!

God never instructed us to love sin or hate good. We should ALWAYS hate what He hates and love what He loves. Let love be without hypocrisy. Work hard and serve God with enthusiasm. Be patient when trouble comes, and keep on praying. Be ready to help anyone with a need, and practice good hospitality. All that is fairly easy to do, until someone does us wrong!

That’s when it’s important for us to RECOGNIZE and REVERSE!

Persecuted? Don’t try to get even. Get God involved by asking God to bless them.

REVERSE the cycle!

Has an “enemy” stolen from you, slandered you, embarrassed you? Invite them to dinner!

REVERSE the cycle!

This is exactly what Jesus did, and it’s exactly what we need to do!

RECOGNIZE the temptation and REVERSE the cycle.

“Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Christ.” 1 John 5

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