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Betrayal

February 24th, 2016

“I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness.” Psalm 89:33 NIV.

Hurting people hurt others.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “betrayal.”

Betrayal is a harsh word but not a new occurrence. Everyone has felt the sting of misunderstanding, misjudgment, or unfair treatment. The experience is as old and common as time itself. Feelings of betrayal necessitate a relationship that holds positive expectations. Betrayal feels personal and usually is. David felt the sting of personal betrayal – from Saul, his king; Absalom, his son; and Ahithophel, his trusted friend and adviser. “Even my close friend (Ahithophel), whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 41:9 NIV. David understood his own frailties and failures and forgave others as he had been forgiven. (As an interesting and relevant side note, scholars believe Ahithophel to be the father of Eliam and grandfather of Bathsheba. Might that grandfather’s disloyalty relate to David’s behavior with Bathsheba?) Betrayal of others breeds betrayal toward oneself.

Strangers or enemies cannot betray you; your expectations of the first are minimal, of the latter their unkindness is assumed. Friends and family hold unique power to inflict emotional pain. To one degree or another, friction happens in homes, at work, and even in churches. Sadly, it happens in marriages, families, and with friends or mere acquaintances. Hurting people hurt others. Knowingly or unknowingly, fallen people living in a fallen world inflict their hurts and unhappiness upon the lives of those around them. It’s usually about themselves, not the other person. Their pain causes their words and actions. It splashes out on whoever happens by.

Emotions of betrayal come in all forms and sizes, from annoyance to distress. Something as small as an unintended slight or something as large as intentional slander can both create feelings of betrayal. Judas betrayed Jesus. Matthew 27:3-5. Peter denied Jesus. Matthew 26:75. Thomas doubted Jesus. John 20:25. The disciples abandoned Jesus. Matthew 26:56. The crowds left Jesus. John 6:66-69. In differing measures, Jesus was betrayed and felt its pain, yet offered forgiveness and restoration of fellowship to each. Imagine Paul’s personal disappointment and pain as he wrote, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed.” 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV. But God’s Word provides this assurance, “We have [a High Priest] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin. Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NIV. Jesus heals all hurts.

Betrayal is a word or action that causes emotional pain, eliciting strong reactions in return. It can be an action toward you as well as a reaction to you. As a teen, when I tried to justify hurting someone who had hurt me, my Dad would remind me, “Two wrongs never make a right.” Imperfect grammar, but he was right, of course. Obviously, there are two questions you are wise to consider. Felt betrayed by someone? Forgive, surrendering your pain to Jesus. Betrayed another’s confidence in you? Consider their pain.

When you have been betrayed, forgive. There is no better choice. Forgiving is for your benefit as much as theirs. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Read Colossians 3:13-14 NIV. “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Read Matthew 6:14-15 NIV.

When you have betrayed, ask to be forgiven. There alone you find redemption. Read Matthew 5:23-24 NIV. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Read Ephesians 1:7-8 NKJV. Read Romans 4:7-8 NIV. God’s promise is true, “I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness.” Psalm 89:33 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to always trust the faithfulness of God to heal and forgive.

EDL broken trust

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communications 2016
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Failures and Sorrows

September 4th, 2015

“Simon, when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32 NKJV.

Momentary failure need not produce consequences for a lifetime.

My thoughts and comments today are about “failures and sorrows.”

Failure comes in many forms and sizes, but inevitably comes to all. May yours be insignificant and easily redeemable. Learning from your own and others’ failures is essential. The prolific inventor, Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, held 1093 patents but failed hundreds of times before successfully inventing the electric light bulb because he didn’t stop trying until he succeeded. Edison is quoted as saying, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” Turning failure to success is possible.

Who does not identify with Simon Peter? His record was not flawless. When he failed, he failed publicly and on a grand scale. Despite Peter’s earlier protestations of allegiance and after Jesus’ arrest, Peter denied three times to even have known Jesus. As the day dawned, Peter heard the crow of the rooster, remembered Jesus’ words and, “went out and wept bitterly.” See Luke 22:60-62 NKJV. Failure is not final; mistakes are not fatal.

Earlier, Jesus had spoken words of warning to Peter, but also reassurance, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 NKJV. Momentary failure need not produce consequences for a lifetime. “My salvation will last forever; My righteousness will never fail.” Isaiah 51:6 NIV.

Regret is a natural reaction; repentance is a spiritual response. Though the emotions feel similar, the resultant remorse is not to be confused. Paul explains the difference in these terms, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this Godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.” 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 NIV. Regret is a natural, emotional sorrow that you are less holy than you thought you were. Repentance is a spiritual sorrow that you loved God less than you thought you did.

May your failures be from human judgement, not lack of spiritual character. You will not always get everything right the first time, but the first time should not become your last effort. And don’t give up on yourself; Jesus doesn’t. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22 NIV. Bring every failure to Jesus quickly, Who alone can give you a fresh start. “Jesus appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin.” 1 John 3:5-6 NIV. Jesus appraisal and commendation of your life can be, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . Enter into the joys of the Lord forever.” Matthew 25:21 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you that your failures will be few and your successes many.

Christian Communications 11216

EDL PIX remorse

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The Capacity to Regress

July 28th, 2014

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do.” Romans 7:15 NIV.

Your capacity to regress to unprofitable behaviors is a besetting temptation.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the capacity to regress.”

At times, I am bewildered by how little I really understand about myself. While feeling proud of my progress, I am puzzled by the ease with which I revert to ways and habits I previously found unworthy. As old as I am, that still perplexes me, as it did Paul, “I do not understand what I do.” Romans 7:15 NIV. I surrender progress achieved with much effort and diligence, and find myself closer to where I was than where I need to be. My capacity to regress to unprofitable behaviors is a besetting temptation.

When where you have been still holds attraction, the path of progress can be challenging. Read James 1:12-15. Temptation alone is not sin, but spiritual maturity and Godliness are measured by your recognition and rejection of any temptation to regress to familiar yet ineffective ways of coping with everyday life.

You will never find confidence or growth by returning to options once familiar and places formerly comfortable. As danger threatened or opposition arose, Israel looked over their collective shoulder with misplaced fondness for what they left behind in Egypt. “In their hearts they turned back to Egypt.” Acts 7:39. Read Nehemiah 9:9-17.

Before judging Israel harshly, consider your own temptation to return to negative emotions, old prejudices, wrong attitudes, unworthy appetites, unholy ambitions, or unhealthy habits. Paul encouraged and warned the Galatians, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1.

Let me suggest some Biblical examples of regression and suggest their causes, (1) Complicated discipleship, “From that time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” John 6:66-69. (2) Competitive affections,Demas has forsaken me having loved this present world.” 2 Timothy 4:10. (3) Confusing circumstances, After Jesus’ death and reports of His resurrection, Peter and other disciples returned to fishing. See John 21:1-5. A vulnerable time is when disappointment in people or situations and the resulting discouragement dissuade you.

Maybe today you identify with the Apostle Paul in his struggle with bewilderment. Paul wrote, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I allow . . for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:15-21 NIV.

In the succeeding verses, Paul confessed his despair over his spiritual frailty.  “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:24-25 NLT. I suggest three spiritual practices that bring clarity during bewildering times: God’s Word, (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV), Jesus’ example, (Hebrews 4:14-16), and the Holy Spirit’s empowering, (Acts 1:8/Romans 15:13). In your panic, the answer may first appear to be running back to your weaknesses; God’s answer is fleeing to a safe refuge – into the arms of God. See Proverbs 18:10/Psalm 27:5/91:1-2.

Today, my prayer for you is to set progress as your highest, spiritual priority.

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Weakness and Strength

June 4th, 2014

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 NKJV.

God more easily supplies what you lack than can displace what you are proud to possess.

Today my thoughts and comments are about “weakness and strength.”

Whether in the barnyard, school yard, or market place, others seem to take advantage of those whom they perceive as being weaker than themselves. For that very reason, people learn to mask weaknesses with denial or pretense. Neither of those are a winning strategy. No one enjoys being weak or being considered weak. Denial of a fact does not change it, and pretending you are other than you are doesn’t alter facts. Here’s the reality; every person has both strengths and weaknesses peculiar to themselves. Your recognition and response to either is what will make the difference. In your strengths, be humble; about your weaknesses, be honest.

God looks at your weaknesses and strengths much differently than you or others do. What you perceive as strength is of more concern to God than your weaknesses. Strength can be beguiling, leading to pride and living independently of God when you are not. Pride is not a pretty thing and God will not long indulge it. Humility is the cure for pride. From his earlier lessons of humiliating failures and humbling experiences, Peter wrote, “Be [aproned] with humility [toward one another], for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:5-6 NKJV. Voluntary humility is an easier path than imposed humiliation. If you will not embrace the first, you will face the latter.

Let’s see what God says about weakness. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Think of what you were when you were called [by God]. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong . . so that no one may boast before Him.” 1 Corinthians 1:25-29 NIV. God does not respond well to boasting. God more easily supplies what you lack than can displace what you are proud to possess.

In the great chapter of faith, you can read of those, “Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” Hebrews 11:33-34 NIV. Who were these incredible, powerful, conquering people? They were ordinary people, “whose weakness was turned to strength.” God alone can do that. They were people who found strength is their God. “The Lord . . gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:28-29 NIV.

Paul wrote, “God said to me, ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my [weaknesses], that the power of Christ may rest upon me . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV. It may sound counter-intuitive, but in Christ, that is ever true.

I pray for you today that you are content that your strength depends entirely on His.

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Betrayal and Amazing Grace

April 18th, 2014

“On the same night that [Jesus] was betrayed.” 1 Corinthians 11:23 NKJV.

It is as wrong to underestimate His grace as to overestimate our faith.

My thoughts and comments today are about “betrayal and amazing grace.”

Betrayal is a terrible thing. It isn’t accidental; it’s deliberate, intentionally hurting another. When it occurs, the pain is immediate and can be enduring. The reactions vary – stunned disbelief, destruction of trust, emotional pain, grief, anger, self-pity, and eventually estrangement. Be careful; betrayal is often sown in the seed of offences, harbored and unforgiven. Forgiveness is the only true remedy.

The history of man is cluttered with betrayal, beginning with Adam and Eve. Abel experienced betrayal by Cain; Jacob betrayed Esau; Joseph was betrayed by his brothers; Job felt betrayed by his friends; Absalom and Ahithophel betrayed David; David betrayed Uriah; Haman betrayed Mordecai; Demas betrayed Paul. The best and worse among us are capable of unthinkable betrayal.

The wondrous story of the Resurrection cannot be told apart from the undercurrent of betrayal. I have been intrigued by this cryptic verse, “The Lord Jesus on the same night He was betrayed took bread and said, ‘This is My body broken for you . .’” 1 Corinthians 11:23-33 NKJV. The juxtaposition of dark betrayal alongside this intimately sacred moment seems unthinkable. But Jesus was neither surprised nor stunned. “[Jesus] had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.”­ Read John 2:23-25 NKJV.

Jesus knew Judas would betray Him. For thirty pieces of silver, he identified Jesus with a kiss in Gethsemane. Jesus knew Peter would deny Him. In spite of his protests, he would do just that. Jesus knew all the disciples would forsake him. After His arrest, they all would flee in fear and self-preservation. Yet for this Passover, Jesus gathered these very disciples with a sense of strong urgency saying, “With fervent desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Luke 22:15-16 NKJV.

This was the Passover the Exodus from Egypt foretold generations earlier. This was no casual evening. His earthly ministry and the future success of the Kingdom of God would now rest on their devotion and efforts. And He knew the shattering effect His suffering and death would have on their confidence. John later described Jesus’ intent on this fateful night, “. . Having loved His own . . He now showed them the full extent of His love.” John 13:1 NIV. They had to be persuaded of an unfailing love.

It is as wrong to underestimate His grace as to overestimate your faith. Jesus knew their frailties, as He does ours. Amazing grace. Jesus still loved them – and you, and me. He desired for them, as for us, “to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” Read Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV. As in Jesus’ parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son (Luke 15), “[Jesus] came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV. Not only to save, but even to seek. He would seek for Judas at that Passover Meal, for Peter at a fireside on the shore of Galilee, and for the disciples, and Thomas, in an upper room where the risen Savior showed them His pierced hands and wounded side.

This Good Friday and Easter is not about Judas, Peter, or the disciples; it is about you and me. Today, and every day, Jesus offers amazing grace – second chances, renewed vows, and new beginnings.

My prayer for you today is for a joyous and glorious celebration of His Resurrection.

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