Evil For Good

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Psalm 38:20 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “Those who repay evil for good attack me for pursuing good.”

Psalm 109:5 (NIV), “They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship.”

Have you ever tried to help someone, it was even something laid on your heart by God, only to have it backfire? You poured out your love and in return they called your good evil, or repaid your good with evil? Maybe they slandered you, lied about the whole situation, tried to make you look bad? Maybe caused you some sleepless nights and some grief?

Join the club!

David is in this club. You can tell by some of the things he writes in Psalms. Some of his close friends and his very own family turned against him. They kicked him when he was down, shook their heads, and behaved as if they were ashamed of him. They lied about him. They returned his good for evil and his love for hate.

Jesus is in that club. He came to save God’s chosen people, along with the rest of us. Only to have them shake their heads, mock Him, and to call Him a liar and a blasphemer. People accused Him of everything, they still do.

Isaiah 53:7 (KJB), “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

1 Peter 2:23 (NIV), “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

I am a member of this club. I’ve paid my dues. Not on the scale of David or Jesus, but it didn’t hurt any less. I have had evil repaid me for the good I have done. I taught school for thirteen years. It happens in the classroom all the time. Students lie about their teachers to cover their cheating, poor work effort, etc. In almost every instance their smart parents brought it up during parent teacher conferences, and the students were found out. However, that didn’t take the sting out of what they said. Some of the parents spread the lies and chose to believe their children. Those students ended up leaving our school and things didn’t turn out so well. The others, fessed up, and still treat me with love and respect when they see me. I have had people live in my home, family members, abused wives, abandoned teenagers, and foster kids. Most of them left with attitudes and slandered me and my husband. The few who accepted our love and our wisdom still stop by, they call, and they come for holidays. One is officially part of our family now. As an elder in the body of Christ, I have people talk bad about me. Sometimes they misunderstood something; sometimes they are just trying to take the heat off of themselves. It happens.

We can’t stop helping others. For my husband and I, after several not so good experiences with sharing our home, we decided we were done. Then a visiting prophet spoke over us that we were going to open our home up to those who needed love and help. My husband was going to love them unconditionally, he is good at that, and I was going to impart wisdom and tell them what they needed to do to get their lives right. Needless to say, we weren’t thrilled with that word! I can laugh about it now, but it wasn’t funny at the time. We had just come out of an ugly situation where we had to have a sit down with about three families and our Senior Pastor due to the lies that had been spread about us. But God knows who and when we need to help. So we trusted Him. I now have a family member in our home. My husband does the love thing, and I am doing the accountability thing. So far this is looking like a good outcome.

David didn’t stop helping. He asked God for help. He resorted to prayer. He continually put his hope and his trust in God.

Psalms 109:1-4 (AMP), “O God of my praise! Keep not silence, For the mouths of the wicked and the mouth of deceit are opened against me; they have spoken to me and against me with lying tongues. They have compassed me about also with words of hatred and have fought against me without a cause. In return for my love they are my adversaries, but I resort to prayer.”

We can’t hold it against them, no grudges. We have to forgive and love them. Keep them in our prayers. Jesus forgave.

Luke 23:24 (NAS), “But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.”

Doing anything less gives Satan the upper hand. He is the one who tries to bring division in the Church and in families. We have to do what we know we are supposed to and know that God preserves those who fear Him, those who trust Him. He preserved David and his household, all the way through until His own Son, Jesus, sat on the throne of David forever.

Do we live as doormats and allow people to walk all over us? No. Jesus didn’t rail against the people or even open His mouth to defend Himself at His trial. That is true. But we cannot allow division in the Church, (Satan’s divide and conquer technique) and as a teacher I couldn’t allow disrespect in the classroom. Those things weren’t Kingdome building behaviors. I called every one of them on the lies. I went through proper channels, parents with the students, pastors with the adults. Most of the time dealing with it directly brings repentance and forgiveness, which is a wonderful way to restore relationships. It keeps unity. The Apostle Paul had to deal with some bad behavior. It’s part of being a family. I am pretty confident that every Pastor, teacher or anyone who has opened up their home to help others has or will get burned. It’s human nature. But we now have God’s nature and we need to rise above that kind of thing. We are warned by Paul to not give up.
Galatians 6:9 (KJB), “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Love people. Help them. Be quick to forgive and slow to anger. Don’t hold a grudge, ever. Live like Jesus. Open your heart and if God calls you to, your home, and He’ll take care of the rest.

Romans 12:18 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.”

I Am Fully Yours

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Psalms 96 (AMP), “O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless (affectionately praise) His name; show forth His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples. For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be reverently feared and worshiped above all [so-called] gods. For all the gods of the nations are [lifeless] idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O you families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Give to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come [before Him] into His courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; tremble before and reverently fear Him, all the earth. Say among the nations that the Lord reigns; the world also is established, so that it cannot be moved; He shall judge and rule the people righteously and with justice. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all the things which fill it; Let the field be exultant, and all that is in it! Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy.” Before the Lord, for He comes, for He comes to judge and govern the earth! He shall judge the world with righteousness and justice and the peoples with His faithfulness and truth.”

Do you ever, like David, think about who God is, His magnificent, awesome, powerful, mind-blowing character? Then think about how small and fragile we are? I do. Yes, He is my Dad. I can be real with Him and He can be real with me. Just like He was real with David. Once when reading through the psalms I thought to myself, “David was kind of a whiner.” You know what God said to me? He said, “Kind of like you.” That wasn’t God being angry with me, or even His correction. It was my Dad being real with me. I swear I heard Him chuckle when He said it. So even though we are close and I am getting for familiar with Him every day, I have to still remember Who He Is. He is God. C.S. Lewis in the “Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe” puts it this way, when the children are in the Beaver’s home, one of them ask about Aslan, the lion who represents Jesus, “Is he safe?” Mr. Beaver answered, spluttering in exclamation, “Safe! Safe? No, He is not safe…but He is good.” He isn’t “tame.” He is wild and extravagant. He’s the wave pool, not the lazy river. He’s every adrenaline junkies dream.

But He is good. He is on our side and He loves you!

Father, I am overwhelmed by Your love! You made the worlds and set the stars, the suns, and the moons in the sky. You placed the deep waters in the earth and called forth all live. You created, in minute detail, every flower petal, every rain drop, and every downy feather on the swan. Yet, Your mind is full of me. You own everything, the cattle on a thousand hills, the very air I breathe. Yet, You gave your life’s blood to purchase me. I am fully Yours.

I was held hostage by the enemy, was a slave to my own sin. I was covered in my own blood, ragged and dirty, filled with sorrow and shame, when You came to me and covered me with Your robe of righteousness. You called me Your “Beloved,” and accepted me into Your family. You have cherished me as a loving Father, pursued me as a faithful lover, and taken care of me as a trustworthy husband. I am fully Yours.

You have captivated my heart and You alone know my inward most parts. You can discern the thoughts and intents of my heart. Preserve me in Your righteousness. Hold me in Your love. Deliver me in Your mercy and Grace. Uphold me in Your Justice. I will praise you all of my days. I will serve You with a full heart. I will faithfully pursue the calling You have placed on my life and generously give to those You love. I am fully Yours.

Who Can Save Us?

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The world looks to all kinds of places, people, and possessions for their salvation. We all at one time realized that our lives weren’t the best. We tried to run and hide, we tried to find an escape, if only for a short time, we tried to cover up our mistakes, change our address, get a new job, or get a new spouse, only to have to face the hard truth, our lives were a mess. Some tried drugs, alcohol, relationships, immersed themselves in work, or in serving others, and still couldn’t find fulfillment. Others went to doctors, psychologists, counselors, palm readers, and fortune tellers, consulted our horoscopes, the stock exchange, googled, twittered, and tried to re-invent ourselves. But when we looked in the mirror, or looked at the condition of our soul, we were sorely disappointed, the change wasn’t there, was only skin deep, or wasn’t enough, or worse yet, we had changed so much that we weren’t even us anymore.

So where do we place our hope? Who can save us?

Psalm 62:1-2 (AMP), “For God alone my soul waits in silence, from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my defense and my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved.”

Romans 5:8-9 (NIV), “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”

We can’t fix us. We can’t even clean us. We end up being white washed graves, looking good on the outside, but full of death on the inside. A doctor, a psychic, a teacher, or a religious leader, can’t change us. A ten step process, a secret formula, or some new “spiritual” phenomenon, won’t change us, not fully, or completely. Bull dog tenacity, strong willed perseverance, nor stiff necked stubbornness, can’t get us what we need, what we so long for.

We need a Savior. Who can save us?

There is only One who can. In fact, He already did. Not two thousand years ago, but before the beginning of time! We just have to accept it. Apply what was purchased on the cross, by the very blood of the Son of God, to our lives. Then He doesn’t give us the “wash and wax” or just to a make-over, He makes us brand new, something never seen before, not put together out of old junk, no Frankensteins here, just a complete new edition. It’s a miracle, plain and simple. All the work, the time wasted, the pain and brokenness, all for nothing. We hurt ourselves and others trying to do it on our own, and it’s time to stop.

Maybe you are still living in the living hell of this fallen world. Just give up, surrender your heart to Him. He knows what you’ve been through, and He knows what you need. He sees your brokenness, your hurts, your faults, and frailties. Only He knows how. Nobody knows you like He does. You can trust Him with your life and with your heart. He is trustworthy. He is faithful.

Psalms 62:5-8 (ESV), “When we give Him our heart, truly and completely, then we can say with David, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.”

Book Review for “Path of Darkness”- Fiction/Fantasy

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I was given a copy of “Path of Darkness” book two of the “Seekers Burden” by the author, Mark Lein, in exchange for an honest review. This was a good fantasy. The first book in the series “An Emerging Threat,” set the foundation. this book continues with the characters, lands and peoples. Good writing, interesting plot. These are not stand alone books, you need to read the first to understand and book two ends pretty abruptly. I really liked it. I am looking forward to reading the rest. I can recommend to teens and up. No swearing and no sexual content, (no romance). There is violence and fighting. I give it 4 stars.

Off With Their Head

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Did you ever watch “Alice in Wonderland,” of maybe read the book? There is an evil character in that story, the queen of hearts, that likes to scream “Off with their heads!” I think she got that idea from Satan. He wants to separate us from our Head. The bible is clear, we are the body of Christ and He is the Head, (I Corinthians 12.) God’s word is also clear about the fact that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and that nothing can separate us from His love. Our enemy cannot “be-head” us. He, Jesus, will not allow Himself to be separated from the body, so, Satan has to get us away from our Head. Does that make sense?

How does he do that? He has several tactics, none of them new. One is distraction. He will bring everything, including the kitchen sink, against us. We tend to get our minds fixed on our problems and not on God and His solution. We fight that by rebuking our enemy and his plans against us, and speaking God’s word over our situation. Another ploy is to get us in discord or dis-unity with those around us, our family, friends, and our church family. We get so caught up in the drama that we lose sight of God’s purpose, His vision, in our lives. It can destroy a marriage and a church. We combat that by not listening to gossip, not spreading lies, and by building strong, healthy, Godly relationships. When people know us, they won’t believe any lie that is spoken by others about us. If you hear something that is untrue don’t repeat it, and don’t allow it to continue. Call the person who is gossiping on it! If needed go to the elders of the church. Promote unity! Pray for God to bind us together with bonds of peace and with love. Satan is the liar, have no part in his ways.

This one is a favorite of our enemy; he tries to convince us that God is keeping something from us, or that we have to work to receive from our Father. That’s the original lie that Adam and Eve believed. We wear ourselves out trying to get, earn, rob, grab, acquire, obtain, something that God, in His love, just wants to give us! Sounds pretty crazy, but I’ve bought into that one more than once, thinking the doctor could heal, the bank could bail me out, that the grass was greener… Don’t buy into that lie. God is good, He wants to bless you abundantly, and His gifts are free. They were already paid for by the shed blood of Jesus.

We don’t live in a fairy tale, and out enemy isn’t a misguided, misplaced card out of some strange deck. Our enemy is real, and we are cautioned not to be ignorant of his devices.

II Corinthians 2:11 (God’s Word Translation), “I don’t want Satan to outwit us. After all, we are not ignorant about Satan’s scheming.”

I Peter 5:8 (NIV), “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Did you catch that part, Who he may devour? We don’t have to let him!

Don’t Be A Victim

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Some people have a victim mentality.

They are always being attacked, provoked, short-changed, overlooked, underappreciated, ridiculed, and the list goes on, and the world owes them something. Sometimes all they want is an excuse, a reason for their less-than-perfect lives, or why they can’t hold down a job, why they drink too much, eat too much, abuse drugs and other people, why they are lazy, or sick, or broke. Other times they want compensation for what they consider their they were robbed or cheated of, and even more astounding, they want someone to support them, to take care of them, and to be a leach off of the hard work, or spiritual maturity of others.

I know some of those people. I am still frequently amazed when I find out exactly what they are supposed to be a victim of. I am often reminded of something our Senior Pastor jokes about when he mentions people like that. He says, “My mama put me on a cold potty when I was two and I never got over that.” We all laugh, partly because it can be pretty accurate.

These were the reasoning I have heard: Their ancestors were slaves…their parents didn’t want them, love them, or were abusive…they had an alcoholic parent…they were bullied in the sixth grade…their husband, or wife, left them…and on it goes.

I am not belittling any of those things. I have experienced most of those. However, we don’t camp out in those awful experiences. We certainly don’t live there. So many times I have wanted to give this sound and loving advice to those who are stuck, “Get over it!” I have given a softer, nicer, more politically correct version of this.

Our prisons, our welfare system, and our schools are full of “victims.” It’s a shame. God’s chosen people were taken out of slavery in Egypt and they were led by God, personally, to a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet, they couldn’t shake that slavery mentality. They saw themselves as victims of Moses, who they accused of trying to kill them, and of God, who they said had led them out just to let them starve and die in the wilderness. Do, a trip that should have taken days, took forty years! That’s what a victim mentality will do, rob you of your inheritance and delay the promises. Aren’t God’s blessings, his provision, better than a “free ride,” better than any so-called entitlements?

God calls us His children, those of us who have accepted Jesus as Lord. He says that we are Kings and Priests. We are chosen, blessed, redeemed, saved, delivered, Holy, righteous, loved, and accepted (and those are just a few things He says about us.) How can we ever perceive ourselves as being a victim? “But, Satan keeps attacking me,” you say. Sure he does, that’s his job, it is who he is. Satan wants to keep you a victim. Don’t listen to him, or any other voice that tells you that junk, whether it is a family member, a teacher, a friend, or even the President of the United States, listen to God. His job, who He is, is love. He is our Father. He’ll protect those that are His like a mama bear protects her cubs. He is a Mighty Warrior King!

I know people who have gone through some stuff, but they chose to live as His children, and they are productive, generous, loving, and unselfish people. They give, they don’t expect to receive. Some of those people have been raped, sexually assaulted, abused, were raised by parents who were addicted to drugs, alcohol, or food, they have made bad choices, messed up their lives, but they have moved on. Others, life has dealt them some blows, sickness, broken bones, broken hearts, and broken marriages. Yet, they choose to persevere, to fight the fight of faith, to trust God.

My husband is one who refuses to be a victim. The day after school got out his junior year (way back in 1973) he was out drinking with some buddies on some logging roads in Washington State. Those roads are steep, gravel or dirt, have mountain on one side and a drastic drop off on the other, and worst of all they corkscrew up the mountain. Their bad choices resulted in a horrible car accident where my husband broke his back in seven places. He shattered vertebrae and is still missing two. He spent three months in the hospital and six months in a body cast. That was the end of high school wrestling. The doctors told him he would never walk again and his limitations if he did were numerous. God had preserved his life, even at a time when Eddie was not serving the Lord. Now, so many years later, he is now fifty-eight, he still works hard. He refused social security disability all of those years ago, preferring to work and support himself and his family. He still has pain but works, every day, sometimes even sixty hour weeks in a factory. When I met him, he had already been married and divorced twice. He could have played the victim, and lived a life lonely and bitter. We have been married for thirty years this summer. He has never seen himself as a victim.

Another man I know was raised by an abusive mother, had little affection, hardly any money growing up, and lived out in the middle of nowhere. He later made some poor choices and ended up a drug addict. Did he camp out there? Is he a victim? No, he happens to be that Senior Pastor I mentioned. He has traveled the world and had preached to thousand at a time. He has decided to put his trust in God and has let his past be a stepping stone, not a stumbling block. He chose to forgive and love his parents and got to personally lead them to the Lord before they died. He ministers as a covering over dozens of churches and ministries all over the world. He refuses to be a victim, so He is used by God in a big way.

There are many other stories to tell. I am sure you know some of each mentality, two ways of thinking, victims and fighters. Victims lose, fighters win. Adding God into the equation makes our victory sure!

So, what will it be?

Victim or Victor?

II Corinthians 2:14 (KJB), “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”

If you chose victor, then get in the word and find out what God has to say about who you are! If you are not sure where to start, google it. Modern technology can be used for good. Get off all those social network, log off that game, and go to one of these great sites. You can search just about any topic and find out the truth.
http://biblehub.com/revelation/18-12.htm
http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?q=be+content&c=&t=niv&ps=10&s=Bibles

God, how awesome is it that you have already won the victory through the shed blood of Christ. I accept what You have already done. I am not fighting for a victory, but from Your Victory!

Change Me

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For years I tried to change others, or if I wasn’t consciously trying to change them, I was hoping and praying that they would. I have had some stubborn, selfish, and downright mean people in my life over the years. They needed to change, really!

However, my reasoning wasn’t the best. Rarely was my motivation for wanting them changed them-love motivated, usually it was for my benefit that I wanted them changed. See and http://authorjodiwoody.com/?p=508 That is pretty understandable coming from a child, but unacceptable from an adult. I learned a hard lesson: I can’t change people.

So am I saying we shouldn’t pray for change in others, or encourage and give advice to help them grow and develop Godly character? Not at all. We should do those things. What I am saying is that our motivation needs to always be love. Going even farther, our desire for change needs to start with us.

Matthew 7:3 (NASB), “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

Matthew 23:24 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet gulp down a camel!”

Luke 18:9-14 (NIV), “And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

These scriptures were Jesus talking to and about the Pharisees. I don’t want to join that group, do you? They are some of the most stubborn, selfish, and downright mean people of all. I want to be like the humble man who wanted God’s mercy and grace!

God wants hearts changed. Not so it would make life easier for Him. He doesn’t think the way we do. It’s always for our benefit. He is always motivated by love.

Sitting in a church service and hearing a great message, but thinking, “I wish so-and-so were here, they really need to hear this,” is not acceptable. The message is always for us, (if you sit under a pastor who is in relationship with God, and hearing His voice.) Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can apply it to your own life. Then during our busy days, take the time to ask Him to show you any area in your life that need to be renewed. He won’t reveal it all in one day, we couldn’t handle it. He is a gentleman and will show you bits and pieces at a time. Then take action. If you don’t know how, not trying to be redundant here, but ask the Holy Spirit. He guides us into all truth. He helps conform us into the image of Jesus.

We aren’t trying to be someone else, just a “better me.” God knows who that is! He will help you become that better you.

Do you have some people in your life that need a spiritual make-over, or maybe even a complete over-haul? First, make sure they are really supposed to be in your life. (You are starting to get it now, if you’re not sure you…ask…). If they are, turn that magnifying glass on yourself instead of them. Stop looking at and for their faults and shortcomings. We take an honest look at ourselves, remembering it is a process and there is no condemnation now that we are saved, and allow God to change us. It isn’t a secret, magic formula, and will probably take some work, but it is worth it.

You will notice as you are changing that those other people don’t irritate you as much, can’t hurt you the way they used to, and you may even discover more things to love. Better yet, they may be motivated and inspired to work on their own lives.

Open yourself up to the Holy Spirit, to God’s love, and be changed!

You will like the new you!

Holy Spirit, I may be afraid for You to point out my faults, but I don’t want to be the same. So, show me and give me the strength and the scriptures to stand on, to be a better me.