Protect Your Enemies!

Protect Your Enemies!

If you’re a good friend, you protect the people you’re close to. You have disagreements with family and friends, but you still love them. You can criticize them one on one if you are close enough to them, but you stand up for them when someone else puts them down. My younger brother and I fought all the time growing up but if anyone else touched him, I would spring to his defense immediately. That’s the way it is with brothers. Once, we were playing basketball when two guys, high on drugs came and crashed our game. They took our ball and pushed my brother. I stepped between this guy and my brother and he pulled a piece of steel attached to a rope out of his pocket and started swinging it at me. I sent my brother home. I should have sent him for help. I was pretty sure I was about to get hurt but fortunately the second guy grabbed his friend and persuaded him to leave before they got into trouble.

You will put yourself in harm’s way for a friend but what about an enemy? Jesus said to love your enemies and the scripture says, “love always protects”. Jesus protected His enemies. Peter cut off the ear of one of the temple guards who came to arrest Jesus. But the Lord immediately healed the man who had come to take him away. As Christ hung on the cross, He looked at the people gathered to watch. In the crowd, he saw the Pharisees who falsely accused Him, the people who chose a murderer, Barabbas, to be released instead of Him. He recognized those who spit in His face and beat Him with their fists. He saw His torturers and His executioners and protecting them all, He said, “Father, forgive them.” You don’t see it often, but when you see someone protecting their enemy, you can be sure of one thing, that person has had contact with the Savior of the world.

If you want to experience a very unusual blessing, try protecting those who wish you harm. At that moment, you’ll connect with the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. You’ll experience what it’s really like to love like Christ. It’s truly unconditional, selfless and will make an impression on those who have the good fortune to witness it. If you want to experience a very unusual blessing, try protecting those who wish you harm. Love protects!

Words That Make Your Life Great!

Words That Make Your Life Great!

Your words are powerful! God spoke the universe into being by the power of His words. He says it, and it happens. People were originally created in His image and if you are a follower of Jesus, you are being recreated in His image. So we are like Him in many ways. We are creative, we have the ability to speak to each other, convey ideas to one another, write down and record words for future generations and if we know Him, we have the ability to speak His words. It’s an explosive gift that can actually bring eternal life to others. Imagine that!

James says that if you want to control your whole body, then control your words. Think of what your life would be like today if you controlled your words. If you chose to only say things that are true, things that encourage and bring joy, peace, and life to you and to those around you, how much richer would your world be? People you meet would want to spend time with you. Because in your words, they would find wisdom, clarity, and purpose.

If this sounds good, you can start today by giving your voice to the good things you are thinking. So many times, we think something good about someone but we keep it to ourselves. I was at a restaurant a few days ago and there was a young woman at the cash register who was really good at her job. She was attentive, friendly and accommodating so I complimented her. She said it made her day. I’m an introvert, so it’s more difficult for me to speak up, but what a small price to make someone’s day. Ask God to make you aware of opportunities to be an encouragement. It will change your life!

re about Jesus than their political or cultural differences. I want to be able to literally embrace those whose perspective is 180 degrees from mine. We in the church, will never agree on everything but if we are serious about Jesus, we could agree on the main thing. “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Let Patience Work For You!

Let Patience Work For You!

Patience and perseverance are better than any financial investment you could ever make because in time, it will profit your soul! James talks about letting patience have its perfect work. The kind of patience he’s talking about is not passive but it’s diligent obedience. Patience is required when you do the right thing and then wait as long as it takes for God to bless your efforts. Our nature is to try and work things out on our own right away, but God says to wait on Him.

It’s especially important to have the ability to wait and be obedient in our relationships. Love waits. My wife and I dated three years before marrying and we waited. I believe that the trust between us today is due to the fact we were faithful to God in our dating relationship. I know my wife to be a faithful person and so I trust her. It’s also a virtue to wait on passing judgement on someone, retaliating for some wrong that was done to you or responding to a conflict in the heat of anger.

Abraham Lincoln had a habit of writing what he called a “hot letter” so that he could get all his angry thoughts out. Then he would wait. When he cooled down, he would write, “Never Sent, Never Signed” on the letter and put it away. He was obedient and patient. What do you think the world would be like if we all learned to wait patiently before we responded to offenses? I know how it’s changed my life. Just a few years ago, I was filled with worry and anger. I would just say whatever was on my mind and I didn’t care about the consequences. The problem was that I was the one who always paid the consequences. But, I learned to stay quiet and wait on my responses. Now I have peace.

Are You a Good Friend?

Are You a Good Friend?

Who is your best friend? I’ll bet you have one or two people in mind. Steve, one of my spiritual mentors, once told me, that if at the end of your life you can say that you have two or three true friends, then you have led a very blessed life. Steve passed away several years ago and at his funeral which I attended, there was a time allotted for anyone to stand and say what he meant to them. I was amazed. So many people, people I didn’t know, young and old, male and female, those who had money and some who were poor, all called him a dear friend. Each person had one thing in common. Steve had done something very kind for each one. Because of the things he did, they valued his friendship.

Jesus said to His disciples, “I call you my friends.” Not long after He said those words, He did something amazing. He carried a cross up the hill of Golgotha and His body was nailed to it. The scripture says He became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God. It also says that He nailed our sins to that cross. One of His last commandments to us was to love each other as He had loved us. I think when you make it a point to be a good friend to two or three people, it spills over. I said to Steve’s wife, after his funeral, “I didn’t know he had so many friends.” She said that it had only happened over that last few years of his life. He had shown sacrificial love to a few people and it spilled over into all his relationships.

Jesus said to take up your cross and follow Him. If you do, you’ll find yourself loving people with a sacrificial love that will overtake your life and relationships. At the end of your life, you will look back and see that you blessed others with the eternal love of Christ and you will look forward and know that you will spend eternity not only with God but with friends. Are you a good friend?

Your Focus Determines Your Success!

Your Focus Determines Your Success!

Are you excited about where you are? Are you excited about your potential for the future? How would you feel if you knew your success was certain? Starting your journey is important, but staying focused on the certainty of victory is just as important. It’s out of this assurance of who God has called you to be that the drive and determination to follow Christ can be found. Knowing that the Spirit of God is working in you to transform you into the image of Christ will give you the confidence to take your next step.
 
Some people don’t even believe it’s possible to become like Christ in this world. One thing is for sure, the Apostles believed it and wrote about it. And if you and I believe, all things will be possible for us. I want a heart like Jesus. I want to love as He loved. I want to forgive as He forgave. I want to have the peace, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control that He has. And guess what? He wants the same thing for me and for you. You may have trouble believing that but it’s true.
 
Everything changes when you stop focusing on the negative, dream-killing, accusatory thoughts of the evil one and turn your attention to what Jesus and the Apostles said about you. I’m posting a list. Read it morning, noon and night until your focus changes.

Best Version of You

Best Version of You

God has in his mind, the best version of you. You may even have a similar vision of who you would like to become. But God’s idea is the best one. He purposed you to be transformed into the image of Christ. Since we are all so very different and the scripture tells us that we are all different parts of the same body of Christ, we were all created to be unique in our reflection of the Lord. What an amazing site it will be when we all assume our places as His glorious church.

Some think that day will take place in the distant future but just like the Apostles, we can take our unique place in God’s plan beginning today. He is always ready to execute His will; the question is are you. The scripture outlines very simple principles that can get you there in a relatively short amount of time if you are committed to the life Jesus has called you too. It will be exciting! Life-giving! It will be the most fulfilling thing you’ve ever done but it will also be the greatest challenge you’ve ever faced. God did not create us for halfhearted measures.

Are you in? I am! You can start by reading Matthew, chapters 5, 6 and 7. To take this amazing sermon Jesus gave and apply it to your life is an exercise that will crush the rut, break the chains of mediocrity and launch you into a venture that you’ve only dreamed about in your heart of hearts.