Enemies? Love Em’

Jesus says,

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister , will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘ Raca ,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:21‭-‬22‭, ‬38‭-‬39‭, ‬43‭-‬48 NIV

http://bible.com/111/mat.5.21-48.NIV

The documentation of what Jesus said remains today, 

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.  

 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 

 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  

Note: Jesus tells us,

 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Luke 6:27‭-‬36‭, ‬43‭-‬45 NIV

http://bible.com/111/luk.6.27-45.NIV

Who ever we think are our enemies, may we love them.

Cults & Cultures

Lately there has been a lot t.v. programs about former cults and cults that are still active. This is really increasing awareness regarding cults & cult leaders. 

I’ve personally kept my eyes, ears and mind wide open. One thing that has always been on my heart and a deep concern of mine is others who are trapped and controlled by another human being claiming to be God, claiming to be The Messiah or claiming others need to do what they command in order to avoid be punished eternally and to be rewarded after life on earth. 

This is really nothing new.  

Before The Lord Jesus Christ (The Way, The Truth and The Life) came to earth (fulfilling detailed prophercy written long long ago, before He came) there were false prophets. While He was on earth there were still others who still tried to lead others away and bind them up. After His resurrection and ascension it was still an issue.
Thank God we are warned and given God’s Word so that we can see clearly when these imposters come along.

Holy Scripture: And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

1 John 5:20‭-‬21 ESV

http://bible.com/59/1jn.5.20-21.ESV

If people look at the false ones and measure what they say and do against The Holy Bible (as a whole, not just parts) it would help them keep from being caught in the web of lies.

The average person must wonder, “How and why woukd anyone be sucked into a cult?” The Bible answers that question for us…The Apostle Paul dealt with this,

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

2 Corinthians 11:13‭-‬15 ESV

http://bible.com/59/2co.11.13-15.ESV

Arrogant men, women and the devil himself long to gather followers. They would love for us to not believe Christ at all and have no faith or to believe what they proclaim as the truth. 

Personally I will continue to read and study The Holy Scriptures, taking it as God’s Word and let His Holy Spirit encourage me until that final day.

Todays reading really grabbed my attention.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. 

There are some things in them that are hard to understand,

which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
2 Peter 3:9‭-‬18 ESV

http://bible.com/59/2pe.3.9-18.ESV

May we stay in God’s Word and let God’s Word stay in us.

God’s Perspective

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. 

At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. 

How differently we know him now! 

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 

So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 

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 5:16‭-‬21 NLT

http://bible.com/116/2co.5.16-21.NLT

They Will Know We Are Christians …By Our Love

Reducing Anxiety (Part 4 Step 4)

From day 4 of the @YouVersion Plan Reducing Anxiety. Check it out here: http://bible.com/r/Sl

Reducing Anxiety: Step Four

You may be in a moment of spiritual despair right now. You may be feeling anxious for no apparent reason. I want to share with you important coping tools to focus on the Spirit and find peace in this moment. In this fourth and final session I want to teach you how you can reduce your anxiety by changing your spiritual focus.

 

Listen to prayer

Find peace, purpose and strength with Jesus in prayer.

Scripture: Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ

But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased. 

The same thing could happen to us. 

We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. 

And 

  • we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did

—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” 

  • We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! 
  • We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. 
  • We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them. 

These are all warning markers— danger !—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes

Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. 

Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. 

You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. 

Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence. 

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. 

All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

1 Corinthians 10:1‭-‬13 MSG

http://bible.com/97/1co.10.1-13.MSG

Reference: day 4 of the @YouVersion Plan Reducing Anxiety. Check it out here:

http://bible.com/r/Sl

Reducing Anxiety [Part 3 Step 3)

Looking at characters documented in God’s Word help us realize that we are not alone in our struggles with anxiety.

Reducing Anxiety: Step Three

Form: day 3 of the @YouVersion Plan Reducing Anxiety. Check it out here: http://bible.com/r/Sl

In Psalm 27, David was praying for a behavioral change. So must we. David knew that he wouldn’t be able to draw closer to God if he stayed in his current sinful circumstance. He needed to make fundamental changes to his life. In this third session I want to teach you how you can reduce your anxiety by changing your behavior.

 

Listen to prayer

Find peace, purpose and strength with Jesus in prayer.

Scripture: Light, space, zest— that’s God! 

So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. 

When vandal hordes ride down ready to eat me alive, Those bullies and toughs fall flat on their faces. When besieged, I’m calm as a baby

When all hell breaks loose, I’m collected and cool

I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. 

I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic. 

God holds me head and shoulders above all who try to pull me down.

 I’m headed for his place to offer anthems that will raise the roof! 

Already I’m singing God-songs; I’m making music to God.

 Listen, God , I’m calling at the top of my lungs: “Be good to me! Answer me!” 

When my heart whispered, “Seek God,” my whole being replied, “I’m seeking him!” 

Don’t hide from me now! You’ve always been right there for me; don’t turn your back on me now. Don’t throw me out, don’t abandon me; you’ve always kept the door open. My father and mother walked out and left me, but God took me in. 

Point me down your highway, God ; direct me along a well-lighted street; show my enemies whose side you’re on. Don’t throw me to the dogs, those liars who are out to get me, filling the air with their threats. 

I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. 

Stay with God ! 

Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God .

Psalm 27:1‭-‬9‭, ‬9‭-‬14 MSG

http://bible.com/97/psa.27.1-14.MSG

Reference: day 3 of the @YouVersion Plan Reducing Anxiety. Check it out here: http://bible.com/r/Sl

The Holy Spirit’s Bite (Inspired by Tim D. Hall)

As a teenager I had a friend, Tim D. Hall. We constantly encouraged each other in Christ and The Fire of The Holy Spirit was infections.

When the first Spiderman movie came out (it must have been some time in the 80’s) Tim said, “Dude have you ever thought about how Spiderman is like when you become a Christian?” I couldn’t wait to hear his analogy. He explained,

 Like Peter Parker (the fictional character who became spiderman)…He became like a spider after bit by one. So also We take on ways of the world as we continue to live in it. BUT If WE take a bite of what God has for us (TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD Psalm 34:8) and accept Christ, His Holy Spirit, in our lives, HE renews us, we become born again and we take on the nature of Christ.

Think again about Spiderman–Peter Parker gets bit by a spider and takes on traits of a spider. 

We are effected by things that bit us. Again, If we take a bite out of what God has to offer us, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” and let The Holy Spirit take a bite of us, we’ll take on His characteristics. 

We can become more and more like Christ but we have to feed our Spirit thing Jesus fed His. 

Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Mt. 4:4; Lk. 4:4). Jesus is the bread of life ( Jn. 6:33,35,51). We need to have Communion with Him (Jn. 6:51-58). Not just go to a communion service but daily, regularly drink Him in & devour all He offers and all He is. 

Mt. 7:21 says that we must “know” Him.

Rev. 3:20 (he stands at door and knocks)…He wants to come in and dine with you & you with Him. 

Hebrews 10:11-14 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest (Christ) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:11‭-‬14 NIV)

For more analogies go to: illustrative illusions

I want to thank that long time friend, Tim D. Hall for staying in Christ and continuing to encourage me to this day.

Reducing Anxiety (Part 2 Step 2)

Reducing Anxiety: Step Two

So many different factors in our life can influence our emotions every day. Basic life situations, work, relationships, sleep patterns, and poor coping skills. 

In this second session I (Cheryl LaMastra https://abide.is/) want to teach you how you can reduce your anxiety by changing your emotions and share some skills to help you reduce anxiety and embrace the strength, wisdom, and peace of God more clearly in your life.

 

Listen to prayer

 Find peace, purpose and strength with Jesus in prayer. 

Scripture: “Quiet down, far-flung ocean islands. Listen! Sit down and rest, everyone. 

Recover your strength. Gather around me. Say what’s on your heart. Together let’s decide what’s right. 

Who got things rolling here, got this champion from the east on the move? Who recruited him for this job, then rounded up and corralled the nations so he could run roughshod over kings? 

He’s off and running, pulverizing nations into dust, leaving only stubble and chaff in his wake. He chases them and comes through unscathed, his feet scarcely touching the path. 

Who did this? Who made it happen? Who always gets things started?

I did. God. I’m first on the scene. I’m also the last to leave.

 “Far-flung ocean islands see it and panic. The ends of the earth are shaken. Fearfully they huddle together. They try to help each other out, making up stories in the dark. The godmakers in the workshops go into overtime production, crafting new models of no-gods, Urging one another on—‘Good job!’ ‘Great design!’— pounding in nails at the base so that the things won’t tip over. 

“But you, Israel, are my servant. You’re Jacob, my first choice, descendants of my good friend Abraham. I pulled you in from all over the world, called you in from every dark corner of the earth, Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.

 I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ 

Don’t panic. I’m with you. 

There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

Isaiah 41:1‭-‬10 MSG

http://bible.com/97/isa.41.1-10.MSG

Reference: day 2 of the @YouVersion Plan Reducing Anxiety. Check it out here:

http://bible.com/r/Sl

Song: “Do You Know” by Dogs of Peace 

https://youtu.be/phk3SW_39go

Alexx Puzzle

A picture is worth a thousand words.

May this PUZZLE speak for itself.

I wanted some of the pieces to come together and fit but that is not where they belonged. I had to search, do the boarder 1st, then find pieces of similar shading and lock them into place. I recognized Alexx’s eyes, our similarities and features that matched one another.

Slowly all the parts formed a recognizable picture.

There was a point near the end of completing this puzzle where I could not find the right pieces that filled Alexx’s heart; as I continued to work it all out I found out that some of the bright white pieces I was trying to place there were actually the parts that fit where my bright white heart was.

There is a lot to be learned, processed and accepted. I’m still working on this metaphorical puzzle of my son’s death.

One of the verses Alexx left at the scene of his suicide was: “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.” Proverbs 14:10 NLT

http://bible.com/116/pro.14.10.NLT

God says, “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God , search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” Jeremiah 17:9‭-‬10 MSG

http://bible.com/97/jer.17.9-10.MSG

Also

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start.  Now I’m alert to God ’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.  Psalm 18:20‭-‬24 MSG

http://bible.com/97/psa.18.20-24.MSG

Where do all the pieces fit? I’m looking at certain situations and circumstances in my past, present and future and I can’t currently see how all these pieces fit but I hold onto the hope that God knows and He will cause everything to fall into place & complete it all.

You see, it is like God’s inspired words tell us, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.                        1 Corinthians 13:12‭-‬13 NASB

http://bible.com/100/1co.13.12-13.NASB

*For a post on the verse Alexx circled (to be found at his suicide) go to -> No On Knows Another Person’s Heart (Alexx’s Suicide Verse).

Song “Pieces” By The Imperials :

To The Anxious Believer (Part 1 Step 1)

Anxiety is more than just worrying and being anxious over what may have happened, is happening or what is going to happen in our lives.

I have a good friend who said, “Either worry or pray but don’t do both.” Good advice, but what do we do when we seem to have anxiety over nothing. For me, personally, around 7pm-9pm almost every night my chest tightens up and I get these overwhelming feelings that all is not well. I have to remind myself that everything is going to be alright and I also take medication to balance out chemicals causing this anxiety.

Reference: I’ve just started a very short  reading plan (just 4 sessions) called “Reducing Anxiety”:

http://bible.com/r/Sl

In this plan Cheryal LaMastry and the abide team (https://abide.is/)  offer some professional advice.

Reducing Anxiety: Step One

Everyone experiences anxiety in many forms throughout the course of their daily lives. However, the usual methods that we use to manage it may break down in certain situations, which may lead to excessive or inappropriate expressions of anxiety. 

In this first session I want to help you with some mental exercises to help you reduce anxiety and embrace the strength, wisdom, and peace of God more clearly in your life.

 

Listen to prayer

Find peace, purpose and strength with Jesus in prayer. Hear daily prayers, choose prayer topics and customize your prayer time. Download Abide for free on iTunes and Google Play.

Scripture: And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t Lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

1 Peter 5:1‭-‬7 NLT

http://bible.com/116/1pe.5.1-7.NLT

Helpful Tool: the @YouVersion Plan Reducing Anxiety. Check it out here:

http://bible.com/r/Sl

1st Pete 5:7 is a great verse to commit to memory. When we realize how mich God cares & how much bigger He is than us ans anything we face we can accept that our best option when facing anxiety is to cast up onto The Lord. He can and will handel it.


Our confidence is in God not ourselves. Our own anxious thoughts and conserns are a reminder how much we need our savior.