You don’t have to go out like that

I have been thinking about how similar Peter and Judas were in their actions in the bible. Judas denying Jesus’ love and leading the guards straight to Him. Peter denying Jesus three times after He was taken by the guards. I mean, wow. Peter, one of the great apostles, can be compared to Judas the traitor.
It is where they differ that makes all the difference.
Judas made a very bad decision. Was it predicted? Yes. Did it all fit into the plan? Yes. Peter also made a very bad decison that was predicted as well. Here is the difference: they both felt guilt for their actions, but Peter had accepted Jesus’ love and truly believed He was who He said He was while Judas did not truly believe who Jesus was. He faked it. He said he was a friend but hidden in the darkness of his heart was the truth. Jesus loved Judas. Judas never accepted that love. At anytime after his actions he could have asked for forgiveness and claimed his faith in Jesus. He didnt have to go out like that. Since Peter’s love for Jesus was true, his actions led him to forgiveness, stronger faith, and eternal life.
We all make mistakes. Do you react to them as Judas or as Peter? Do you truly believe Jesus is who He says He is? Have you accepted Him as your savior and decided to follow His ways? If not, friend, it is not too late. You dont have to go out like that.

Join with me in suffering

This chapter keeps finding its way to my eyes. It is a reminder to not focus with quarrling with the world. Quarreling doesnt lead to conviction. It doesnt lead to Christ. We are to handle the world with gentle instruction always living with hope that a seed was planted. It is up to each person to decide if they will disown Him or not. Quarreling wont change that.

This time, though, one verse popped out to me:
“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus”
I hate that word. Suffering. Why in the world would I want to JOIN someone in suffering? I dont want to invite suffering into my life!! Then the Spirit guided my thoughts to an understanding. We certainly dont have to invite suffering into our lives for it to make a dramatic appearance, but being a follower of Christ does present a unique set of struggles. We must deny our flesh when we really want to argue with others, turn away from sinful things that distract us, and hold on to a truth the world tries to lable as wrong or even judgmentally hateful and not inclusive. In any and all suffering we are to join together in Christ. We are to suffer with Christ as He did on the cross. He never took His eyes off of His end results. He never took His eyes off the joy that would be set before Him when it was finished. During His time of sorrow He still asked for God’s will to be done even knowing what that will was about to do to Him. He didnt turn to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food, dull the pain. He suffered for us so we can have a savior to walk us through the pain and has endured every ounce of pain we could ever come across. Have you ever tried to talk to someone about a problem that they have never experienced? About a pain they know nothing about? They can say all the kind words they are supposed to say but how does that compare to speaking to someone that has experienced that pain and more, endured it, and lived in joy on the other side of it. It is a whole different conversation isnt it? All suffering has a purpose. I know. I know that is hard to hear. Whether you believe in Christ or not…you will have suffering. For believers, when we join Christ in that suffering…when we take Him our suffering and lean on His love, guidance, and will through it. When we keep our eyes on the joy set before us as Christ did. We grow. We endure. We find peace amongst the suffering. Joy even. I dont want to talk to you about suffering. But when I talk to you about how Christ is right there with us giving us strength. That nothing is without a purpose. That God can be so trusted that you can walk through this fire and not even smell like smoke. That, because of Christ, you dont need what the world has to offer to get you through the suffering. You can overcome it and be a victor over it instead of a victim of it. Well…that’s a whole different conversation, isn’t it?

2 Timothy 2
New International Version
The Appeal Renewed
2 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

11 Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

Dealing With False Teachers
14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Well done good and faithful servant

What would it be like if you had an answer? A good one. The right one. When your friend you care for so much asks for advice, what would it be like to have words that are actual truth to give her? What would it be like to have an answer for someone wanting to be led to God? For someone asking the tough questions about our faith because they want to believe too? What is it like to feel the Spirit pull a verse you studied 2 weeks ago to the forefront of your mind in that moment? To speak with confidence the truth that has been revealed to you through bible study? To have the strength of Christ when someone rolls their eyes or mocks the truth? To be able to keep it together when the Spirit brought out of you words that brought someone to their spiritual knees in praise and surrender? To have the patience of Christ to watch a planted seed grow in someone?

You dont have to wonder what it is like. It is all right there for you in the bible. All the knowledge to turn to wisdom. You can be the one to spread the truth you have graciously been given. When Christ comes calling and asking “what did you do with the talents I gave you?” Did you bury them? Or did you use them to multiply the kingdom?

Parable of the Talents
Matthew 25:14-30

Martin Luther King, Jr

Listening to the Unashamed podcast and Jase just said something very profound to me. The reason Martin Luther King, Jr. was so effective against racism is because his main goal was spreading the love of Jesus.
He simply spoke the truth utilizing the fruits of the Spirit. Success came from a Godly focus. God’s word will not go out into the world and come back void.

Isaiah 55:11
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

From I ain’t to I am

So, when I was younger I was picked on a little bit. When we moved to a different town then I decided I would not be the one that got picked on. I have worked hard on this through the years. In fact, my motto has been “I aint the one!” for a good part of my life. To one extent it is good not to let yourself continually be walked on or abused. I will always beleive you need to know when to set boundaries and to even know how to defend yourself physically. But when I tell you “I aint the one”, I took it to the extreme. You wanna get an attitude with me? No, honey, I aint the one. And I would bite back and make it my mission that you never got that attitude with me again. In fact, you probably never even wanted to talk to me again. Well, of course, God went to work on me. He has been telling me “yes, you are the one.” He tells me “you are the one I put in their path. You are the one that asked for widsom and compassion and now here is your chance. Take that attitude and come back with love.” I cant imagine someone letting me have it and I geniually feel concern over what is causing them the anger instead of allowing it to make me angry. I know I am on my way to getting there. I know my responses will become lighter and more gentle. I know the love of Christ will shine through me. God has started this work in me and He will not stop until it is completed. I wont lie. Im scared to love yall like that. Odds are my feelings will get hurt. My pride will take a beating. You may see me as weak and I have worked many years to not come across that way. This will, indeed, humble me and that is exactly what needs to happen. My goal is no longer to prove how tough I am but to show the love of Christ in all I do as best I can. Because, just maybe, if you see that in me then you’ll want it as well. To His call for this change, I accept. “I am the one, Lord. Send me.”

Philippians 1:6
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Flee from a “Screw it” mentality

God has promised us a way out when temptation hits. My struggle has been how to see my way out and how to know when to flee. Recently, God has made evident my cue to run. There are times when I am faced in a struggle with temptation and two words come into my head, “Screw it!” Everytime. Whether it be with food, something I shouldnt watch or listen to, or just anything I shouldn’t do…there is a moment that my brain yells “Screw it!!”. Those two words used to send me straight into sin and regret. By the grace of the good Lord, He has turned those words that the devil uses to bait me into my cue to get the heck out there! But Monica, doesn’t running from something mean you are too weak or too scared to battle it? Glad you asked. No, it doesnt. You see, God sent Jesus to fight that battle and He won. Why waste my energy and become weary fighting a battle that has already been won? When I flee from temptation and run to Jesus then I am accepting the victory He has set before me. Not only that, but I am also accepting my reward of obedience. That reward is gained endurance, rest to not grow weary, and free from the regret/consequences of the sin! But Monica, sometimes saying “screw it” is exactly what you need to say to step out in faith. Let me tell ya, I have found times that I thought God was calling me to do something and I was hesitant and then I heard “screw it!” and it made me take a step back and reevaluate. God does not push. “Screw it” are words of defeat, not submission. “Ok”, “Yes, Lord”…those are words of submission. Those are words that show God is in the decision. They are loving words. Accepting words. God does not speak words of defeat. Ask God to reveal your cue to flee and live in victory, not defeat.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”
1 Timothy 6:11

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
1 Peter 2:20-24

What are you watching?

Just a thought as I am feeling a little downish here lately. I think there is something very harmful in binge watching a drama series. Not because you may neglect other responsibilities. I can have a show running on my phone and watch it while I am doing chores. I think it is harmfull because it keeps you in a constant state of distress. These characters never catch a break! And when they do seem to catch one then it is pulled right out from under them as quick as they got it. How depressing!! Can anything good ever happen and it just be good?? Back in the day when we could only watch one episode a week then this didn’t seem to be such an issue. Now we can watch several episodes back to back and it can really affect your mood. Possibly even affect how you view problems in your own life. “My life is so depressing!! Can anything good ever happen and it just be good??” So, if you feel depressed right now or like nothing ever works out for the good….evaluate what you are watching. What music are you listening to? Are you keeping up with media coverage constantly? Having some discipline on the amount of depressing and distressing things that you are allowing in could be part of the solution to your sour mood and poor outlook. Just a thought….

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
Philippians 4:8

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28