Month: August 2013

Hardened Hearts

Hardened Hearts

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Return to Pharaoh and make your demands again. I have made him and his officials stubborn so I can display my miraculous signs among them. I’ve also done it so you can tell your children and grandchildren about how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and about the signs I displayed among them—and so you will know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 10:1-2 New Living Translation).

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart against Him for a purpose. The Egyptians worshiped many gods, and had magicians who were able to duplicate some of the same plagues the Lord brought against them. As I read this, what struck me was how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and continued to bring plagues and suffering to the Egyptians, all to show He is Lord. Scripture doesn’t tell us whether or not it was recompense for the harsh treatment of Israel during it’s captivity there, but I can’t help but wonder if it was. God wanted the Egyptians to understand He was greater than all the gods they worshiped, and He wanted the Israelites to remember all He had done to set them free. At the end of the plagues, Pharaoh relented and released the children of Israel. When Israel was freed, the hearts of the Egyptians were softened, and they freely gave the departing Israel all their riches. God was not done yet. After Israel left, Pharaoh’s heart hardened again and he gave pursuit, ending up at the banks of the Red Sea. Here, God showed Himself to be mighty and calculating (Exodus 14: 1-4) by putting Himself between the children of Israel and the Egyptians and parting the Red Sea with an East Wind (Exodus 14:15-22). Israel safely walked across the Red Sea, when the Egyptians began to pursue, God released the waters and they were drowned.

We have many around us today with hearts hardened toward God. How they came to have such hard hearts could be the result of many different things, but nonetheless, they want nothing to do with God. After reading and meditating on the story of Pharaoh, I do believe God has hardened most of these hearts because He has a greater plan to reveal Himself to them. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, so if He did such signs and wonders then, who says He can’t do them now? Just as Moses prayed for Pharaoh, we should pray for those we meet with hard hearts. Israel’s life got harder before it got better and we will also experience this. When we turn to God in prayer, with faith, knowing that if He did it for them, He will do it for us, we are able to persevere and be joyful around people with hard hearts.

Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, You are awesome in all Your ways, and all Your ways are just. Father, let us not live above those we meet with hearts that want nothing to do with You, instead, lead us into our prayer closets for them. Give us hearts that break for them, and prayers to intercede on their behalf. You are God, You are Lord and You are Redeemer and Deliverer. There is nothing too hard for You and we know You show Yourself strong and mighty. Use us Father to speak life into those who need You but refuse to see, use us to pray for those who have no hope, use us, Lord. We thank You for all the good You have done for us, we thank You for all Your faithfulness and we thank You for hearing and answering our prayers. Give us strength to continue to stand in the gap, courage and endurance to keep going and peace to know You are at work. We bow before You in worship and stand before You in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Today’s Attitude of Worship: Who’s the hard hearted person or persons in your life? Bring them before the Lord and whatever He tells you to do, obey.

Additional Scriptures: Exodus 1-15

Shalom,

Prudence

My Way Is The Right Way, I Know It!

MY WAY IS THE RIGHT WAY, I KNOW IT!

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits (Proverbs 16:2 New King James Version).

Deep inside, I have this need to always be right. My husband can attest to this. I don’t often like to admit when I am wrong, and I’m not yet adept at waving the white flag of surrender. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Many of us struggle with always having to be “right.” We aren’t comfortable when we have to admit we were wrong, or we went about things in a direction opposite our destination. Admitting we are wrong opens us up and leaves us vulnerable; it can make us feel subject to rejection and ridicule. God is kindly teaching me to come down from my high horse and walk alongside it instead of trying to be the high and mighty rider I sometimes think I am. The wonderful thing is when God teaches lessons He is a gentle and persistent teacher, not moving forward until He is quite sure the lesson has been learned.

How many of us really know when we demand that we are in the right all the time, we are being stubbornly prideful? I didn’t, until God sweetly revealed this scripture. It’s one thing to skim over it while reading, but it’s something completely different when it jumps out from the page and resonates within the heart. How can we sit before a holy, omnipotent and righteous God and justify always being right? To always imply we do no wrong; that the way we do things is the way others should do things; that our lifestyle and choices should be the lifestyle and choice of others, is not the way to be an effective, salty and bright witness for Jesus. God will not allow us to sit before Him and tell Him all the reasons why we are right, He will sweetly point out we are hiding behind the sin of pride, pricking our spirits to confession and repentance. For some of us, this may take years; for others, it could be instantaneous. That piece of humble pie we are served is not something we can just sample and move on from, it’s a dish we need to eat all of and never forget the taste.

On this journey with the Lord, it’s ok to admit when we are wrong, it’s ok to be humble, and it’s ok to not always be right! God searches our hearts, He weighs our spirits, He knows when we are right and He knows when we are wrong. He will affirm us when we are in the right; and He will also reveal when we are in the wrong – the key is to know when to get off the horse and chew the distasteful piece of pie. By humbling ourselves when we are wrong, we open doors for God to move and change our hearts and minds to be more in line with His.

Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, You are so awesome and wonderful! Your word says that “when pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom. ~Proverbs 11:2; may we remain humble and shameless, may we not become so blinded by our pride that we believe we are always in the right; let us not bring shame to Your blessed and holy name. Father, reveal to us the sins of pride and self-righteousness; forgive us these sins and show us how to lead humble lives. Father, may we become more and more like Jesus every day, may we be so imbedded in You that You are revealed in all that we do and to all that we meet. We love You and proclaim Your greatness and faithfulness. We give You all glory and honor and may Your will be done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today’s Attitude of Worship: If you are not right about something, don’t argue. Admit you are wrong, ask for forgiveness, learn from this experience and move on. Keep a clean heart before God and man.

Additional Scriptures: Proverbs 13:10; Isaiah 25:10-12; Matthew 12:9-14

“Walking humbly, you are more of a man than you were when you walked proudly” (Henry Ward Beecher).

Shalom,

Prudence

Got Anxiety?

GOT ANXIETY?

Proverbs 12:25Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad (Proverbs 12:25 New King James Version).

In today’s world it’s difficult to not be anxious. The cost of everything we need is rising, gas prices are outrageous, there are youth who do not know how to effectively handle conflict without violence, there are unseen predators out there targeting our children, and many people are unemployed because of the rising costs ripple effect. Anxiety comes in many forms now, and prescription drugs are widely available to combat anxiety and depression. What happens, though, is the prescription drugs don’t always work. They mask the emotional feelings, but they don’t stop the thoughts running through our head.

God’s word says when we are anxious in our hearts, it causes depression; it also says a good word makes it glad. I know from experience sometimes the good word did not always makes its way from my ear to my heart. Before Jesus rescued me, I was very depressed, constantly worried and anxious about everything. I won’t go into detail, but I can tell you the prescription I took to battle depression only made me more depressed because of its side effects. The day I grabbed hold of Jesus’ outstretched hand and took a step into His embrace, the spirit of depression began to lift. It didn’t happen overnight, but the more I fed myself on God’s good word, no longer did I need to take a daily pill to be happy.

Jesus said to not worry, God knows what we need before we even need it. His word says to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6). If you struggle with anxious thoughts, depression or worry, spend time with God, feed yourself on His good word, let it sink deep into your heart. If you are finding it difficult to get the good word from your ear to your heart, tell Jesus. He will open your ears for you!

Let’s pray: Dear Lord, how we thank You for another blessed day! We thank You for Your redemptive and healing hand, for Your love and Your mercy. Thank You for grabbing us from the miry clay and setting our feet upon Your rock. We ask for Your help in opening our ears and allowing Your word to settle into our hearts, feeding us by Your Spirit, and seizing our anxious thoughts. Teach us how to bring every thought into captivity. We love You and offer You our praise and ourselves. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

Today’s Attitude of Worship:  If you struggle with good and positive things getting from your ear to your heart, read and memorize scripture. When scripture is hidden in your heart it makes it easier to recall and battle those moments of anxiety. Philippians 4:8 says to think on good things, pure things; begin to ponder all that is good in your life and God’s creation, as well as what the Holy Spirit brings to your mind.

Additional Scriptures: Matthew 6: 25-34; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8

Shalom,
Prudence

Don’t Like Something? Give God Thanks and Praise Anyway!

DON’T LIKE SOMETHING? GIVE GOD THANKS AND PRAISE ANYWAY!

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain (Philippians 2:14-16 New King James Version).

 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 New Living Translation).

As much as I try to stay positive, I can also be extremely critical. I prefer things done a certain way and I don’t often hesitate to share my “humble” opinion. Hey, we all have opinions, right? I’ve realized (or perhaps I’ve always known) I don’t necessarily need to share my critical opinion of things unless it really is going to bring benefit to the hearer. Sharing how I feel to the wrong person could potentially misconstrue the context of whatever it is I’m trying to say, and this would not be a good thing.

The Lord said something very profound to me last night regarding this. I have been particularly critical of an area of ministry where I am currently not serving. I’ve managed to pick it apart and compare it with past experiences and pontificate how it could be better. First, the Lord had to shake some sense into me, reminding me how it is not all about me. Then He proceeded to tell me if I didn’t like something, praise and thank Him for it anyway. In this moment of correction, I saw how my negative, critical speaking has impacted the growth and spiritual health of this ministry, as well as giving the wrong impression to others. He spoke to my heart and told me if it was change I wanted, I needed to be grateful for what He has already provided before change could be facilitated.

Today I ask that we all take an inward look at ourselves. What kind of an impression are we making? Are we constantly speaking negative things about the ministry, the church, and our brethren? Do we always feel we could do something better than someone else? God wants us to give thanks and praise, for and in all things.

We, as Christians, need to be very guarded about what comes out of our mouth. James 3:5-12 says “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” Jesus also said in Matthew 15:18 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”

Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for blessing us with life today! You have rained many blessings down upon us just by waking us up! This is a beautiful morning and even more beautiful because we have You! Father, forgive us for not checking our words before speaking; forgive us for complaining and whining when we should be rejoicing! Father, help us to be more aware of those around us so that we can season our conversations with salt and that Your light shines through us. Father, Set a guard, O LORD, over our mouths; keep watch over the doors of our lips. May the sparks that the enemy kindles not become the forest fires that he so delights in; may the water of Your Holy Spirit wash over us and put out the sparks. Grant us discernment to know when to speak and when to be silent. Cover us with grace so that we may extend it to those that cause us to want to grip and complain and gossip. Father, we love You and we seek to know You more. We give You all glory, all honor and we bow down in worship at Your feet! Thank You for hearing our prayer this morning, thank You for the many blessings You bestow upon us when we rise each morning, and thank You for Your discipline, Your encouragement, Your instruction and Your Spirit. We come before You in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today’s Attitude of Worship: We all have areas where we are critical and haughty, instead of complaining about it, give God thanks and praise for it. What He does after that will be amazing! Tame your tongue, guard your heart, and let your light shine!

Additional Scriptures: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Job 6, 24; Psalm 15

Shalom,

Prudence

 

Stop Talking, You Are Confusing Me!

STOP TALKING, YOU ARE CONFUSING ME!

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5 (New King James Version).

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and walked away wondering what it was even about?  Have you ever listened to a preacher speak and felt even more about God’s word than when you walked into the church? Some people don’t realize how they come across when using many large words, long winded sentences and Christianese jargon. In trying to impress the listener, they run the risk of not being invited into conversations because others simply cannot follow what they are saying. The same goes for trying to deliver the Word of God out of man’s wisdom. We cannot effectively preach and share God’s word out of our own power and strength. Oh, yeah, we can be persuasive and impressive, but when using human wisdom, our listeners will not feel any conviction, frustrating us since we feel no one is listening. In a way they aren’t. They are hearing you, but only with the Holy Spirit’s power do they listen. We are powerless on our own; yet when we yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to speak through us, God can take the simplest word choices and empower them to have an effect on the listener.  It is the power of the Holy Spirit that God uses through us, not our own power.

If you know someone who confuses you the minute they open their mouth, pray the Holy Spirit brings them revelation and they yield to Him, allowing Him to speak through them.  If you are someone who tries to sound impressive, stop.  God can’t use you effectively if you think you are smarter. There is simplicity in Christ and we don’t need to make Him seem complicated.  Put away your human wisdom, your $10.00 words, and  your long sentences; yield to His Spirit and allow Him to speak.

Let’s Pray:  Dear Father, thank You for this gift of today!  We praise and exalt Your name!  You are beautiful, holy, righteous and mighty!  You are faithful, loving and true!  We long to sit in Your presence for eternity and look upon Your beautiful face.  Father, there is none like You, no not one!  We stand before You today asking for forgiveness; for we are lofty creatures, thinking that we will impress others and bring them to Your feet by portraying ourselves as more intelligent than You.  Father, we are sorry, and we do know that we can do nothing without Your Spirit, Your power, without You.  Lord, it is our prayer that we fully submit to You and that You speak through us, use us.  Let not our flesh speak, bind our tongues when we begin to allow ourselves to take over.  Father, I pray for those who think that they can do things on their own, without You.  Open their hearts, their eyes, their ears to this pride that they carry.  Father, You word tells us that You will humble those that exalt themselves and exalt those who humble themselves, we pray that we continue to walk in humility.  Thank You for hearing our prayer today.  We love You and we give You all glory.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Additional Scriptures:  1 Corinthians 1: 26-31; 1 Corinthians 2: 6-16; 2 Corinthians 11:3

Shalom,

Prudence Ramos

The Route To Death

THE ROUTE TO DEATH

Grapes on a vine“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned (John 15:5-6 New King James Version).

 Ever notice when you take apart a bunch of bananas, they begin to turn from green-yellow to yellow to spotted to brown much faster than if you left them attached to each other? Pondering this brought today’s verse to mind. Jesus was saying apart from Him, we will rot, we will wither and there will be nothing left to do with us other than throw us into the fire. We cannot sustain ourselves apart from Him.

In the natural order of things, fruit ripens on the tree and is plucked for food, falls to the ground as nourishment for wildlife, or as fertilizer for the ground itself, with the seeds bringing forth new vegetation. As Children of God, we were created to stay attached to Him, to have fellowship with Him and our Brothers and Sisters in Christ; we were created to worship Him, to love Him, to learn of Him and from Him. We were created as social creatures, building up others as we ourselves are built up. This is the fruit we bear while attached to the vine; and while attached, our fruit is plentiful, feeding those whom God chooses us to feed. Our fruit will also be seed bearing.

 We have to be careful we don’t cut ourselves off from the main vine in our walk. We must not think ourselves capable of being fruitful without fellowship, without teaching, without correction or pruning. Once we believe we are our own teacher, we’ve cut ourselves off from the vine and are trying to sustain ourselves on our own. This is dangerous, as now the rotting process has begun. We cannot grow when we are by ourselves; we cannot speak life into others when life is not being spoken into us. I am not talking about those who temporarily desire solitude, as Jesus, Himself, went into the desert, fasting for 40 days alone. I’m talking about those in the Church who believe they are better off by themselves, and so they refuse to belong to a church, they refuse to submit to authority, they refuse to fellowship with other believers all under the guise that God is the only person they need to listen to because everyone else is flawed. I’ve got news for you, God knew what our flaws would be before any of us were ever born and because He loves us so, He still called us to be His children and enjoy fellowship.

 Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this blessing of another day! Thank You for loving us so much that You called us to be Your children and that we can be fruitful. May we remain attached to Your vine, may we allow Your pruning and care for us. May we welcome Your correction. Father, we pray for those that have cut themselves off, may it not be too late for them to be re-grafted to Your vine. Father, Your tender mercies are so great, may they see the error of their ways and may they come to Your feet in repentance. You are faithful to forgive and You are merciful, may they be welcomed back. Father, may Your children have mercy on them as well, for You have forgiven us much, may we be willing to forgive them. Father, we love You and we desire to be who You’ve called us to be. Father, may we recognize any opportunity to share Your love with others, may we have an encouraging word from someone today. We give You all praise, all honor and all our worship, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 Today’s Attitude of Worship: Do you know anyone who has cut himself or herself off from the Vine? If so, pray for them. If not, pray that those you know remain attached to the vine.

 Additional Scriptures: John 15:1-17; Isaiah 5:1-10

 The trees of the garden should bear more fruit than the trees of the forest (Christopher Love).

Shalom,

Prudence

 

Be Like The Deer

BE LIKE THE DEER

deerAs the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God (Psalm 42:1 New King James Version).

While driving home one evening, I passed a small family of deer. They were fairly close to the roadside, yet oblivious to the traffic whizzing by, intently grazing on the delectable grass after a day of heavy rain. They were so focused on eating, not even an ear moved nor did a head pop up to gaze at passing cars.

God has gifted me with the ability to multitask, and I have learned to do it well. While this is a huge blessing, it can also be a hindrance if I am not paying attention. There are times where I juggle 3 to 6 things at one time and manage to accomplish what I set out to do. This is when it’s a blessing. However, there are also times I multitask when I shouldn’t. It’s evident when I step back to look at what I’ve done and realize my attention was elsewhere. We do this with God, sometimes. There have been times where I’ve been reading my bible, yet thinking about the day ahead, planning meals and scheduling my workday. There have been times when I’ve sat down to pray, only to be distracted by household chores, pets and family. While this may not be bad because we must take advantage of every opportunity to connect with the Lord- when done all the time, it can leave me very dry and very hungry because I didn’t take the time to focus only on God.

We live in a fast paced world, one in which the more we can accomplish in one day, the more productive we feel. However, I want to be as the deer. I want to be focused solely on the Lord and not multitask my time with Him. I want to sit at His feet, and speak with Him without distractions. I desire to read His word and not hear what’s going on around me.

Lord, our God, our Holy Father, we hunger and thirst for You.  Day and night we yearn to sit with You, to speak with You, to be in Your presence.  We long to feel Your consuming Fire, to hear Your whisper, to follow Your beckoning.  The moments we have now are not enough, we want more.  We ache because I crave more time with You. May we make time specifically for You, may we not become distracted, may we not come before You and before our other tasks at the same time. Refresh and revive us, Lord. In Your sweet name, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Today’s Attitude of Worship: Find a quiet place, turn off your phone, TV, radio…anything which distracts you, lock yourself in your bedroom if you have to…spend some quality quiet time with God, even if it’s just 15 minutes. The more often you purpose yourself to do this, the more you will crave it and make it a priority.

Additional Scriptures: Matthew 6:33; Deuteronomy 4:29; Job 8:5-6; Psalm 63:1

“He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other” (C S Lewis).

Shalom,

Prudence

Worship

WORSHIP

And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you”(Genesis 22:5 New King James Version).

Aaaah, worship. Just what exactly is worship? Many have answers, but which is God’s true answer? I am still learning this, but I will share with you what I have learned since I began my walk with Christ. Worship is not the songs we sing Sunday morning, or whenever we play our Christian music and open our mouths to sing. Worship is not doing what we want to do for God. Worship is not simply paying lip-service to God so we can have our agendas met. Worship is service; it’s active, it’s laborious, it’s rewarding and it’s humbling. Worship is being obedient to God despite the circumstances surrounding us or our perceptions. Worship is bowing down before God in trust and faith, knowing He’s going to do what He says He’s going to do. Worship to God is in how we serve Him. This can mean we worship Him when we sing; when our whole being is poured out in the lyrics and melody of the song we are singing to Him. This can mean when we do what God wants us to do, and we want to do what God wants us to do, we are worshiping. Worship can be public or private, depending on our obedience to God and where He has placed us.

Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Out of obedience and worship to God, he obtained what he needed to perform the sacrifice, and as an act of worship, he tied Isaac down and raised his knife. Because of Abraham’s act of obedient worship, God provided a sacrifice to replace Isaac. Has there ever been a time in your life when God asked you to do something which didn’t make sense, but out of obedience you did it, and saw what God had in mind for you after? Perhaps it was to turn down that exciting job offer, or maybe to meet with someone you thought you had nothing in common with, or maybe it was even to attend an event that you had no intention of attending. Whatever it was, if God told you to do it and you did, you performed an act of obedient worship.

There is also worship of God in which we declare what a holy and righteous and mighty God He is. This is the type of worship in which we bow down low before His throne, cloaked in humility, standing before Him in faith and trust. We cannot stand and worship before a Holy God and not be faced with our true selves. Worship of God in this sense requires an inner examination; we must confess and repent of our sin before we can enter His presence. We must stand before Him with pure hearts and motives, giving Him all of our selves, being available for His purposes, for His use.

All we do for the Lord while here on earth is an act of worship. When we want to stay home and do nothing, but we attend church instead, that’s an act of worship. When we sacrificially give of our time, our resources, our talents, our finances – these, too, are acts of worship. When we offer up our jobs to the Lord, we are worshiping. When we throw our hands up and declare that God is Holy, Mighty, Righteous, Just – we are worshiping. Worship is not just reserved for Sunday morning sing-along service.

Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, You indeed are Holy. So very Holy, so very righteous, so very just! You are faithful and loving, but also to be feared. Father, forgive us for our attitudes towards worship, teach each one of us what true worship is, teach us obedience. Show us how to be joyfully reverent in Your presence and not hold to man’s definition of what reverence is. Father, we long to worship You, to sit in Your presence, to sing to You and be sung over by You. We offer You all we put our hands to do as an act of worship, we commit to You our talents, our resources, our finances, our lives to be used according to Your purposes. We love You and desire to please You. We stand before You in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

Today’s Act of Worship: If you are torn between listening to a secular song and a Christian song, as an act of worship play the Christian song. If you have someone you avoid dealing with often, take the time today to stop and say hello – you never know what God will do through you in that moment. If you are constantly on the move, no time for relaxation, for friends, for family time – stop and make time to sit before the Lord and tell Him how holy and lovely He is – it’s amazing how your priorities will realign themselves while in the presence of God.

Additional Scriptures: Genesis 22: 1-18; Matthew 14:33; Psalm 96:9

Shalom,

Prudence

Seek An Encounter

SEEK AN ENCOUNTER

Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison (Acts 8:1-3 New King James Version).

encountering-God Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank (Acts 9:1-9).

Christians should not persecute Christians, and yet we see it in the church. Maybe the persecution is not the way Saul persecuted the church, but it’s there nonetheless. It masquerades in the forms of pride, selfishness, gossip, murmuring, slander, judgment, accusations, fault-finding, withholding of tithes and offerings, disobedience, disrespect of Christian leaders, or lying. As Christians, we are not better than or above anyone else. Yes, we are saved, but we should live our lives for Christ and preach the Gospel to the lost, bringing them to the feet of Jesus for salvation.

We are to be humble, for Jesus was humble, and was He not our example? Jesus was loving, and compassionate. He did not speak behind anyone’s back, and He did not assume He knew all about a situation before hearing the facts or experiencing it for Himself. He would not embarrass someone, and He would not focus on all our faults. He poured out the love, grace, mercy and compassion of God upon everyone and He continues to do the same today. If He could change the heart of Saul – someone who murdered and jailed Christians – He can change our hearts as well.

Jesus Himself said “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, we humbly come before You today thanking You for Your love, mercy, and grace. We know that it is because of You and Your love for us that we are here. Father, it is our prayer for those brethren who are struggling and have a hard time following Jesus’ example that they experience a Damascus Road encounter. That they meet You face to face, that their hearts and minds are forever changed because of it. We ask for Your forgiveness for their thoughts and actions, and that You remove anything that is hindering their spiritual growth. We ask for comfort, endurance, wisdom and peace for those of us that are dealing with brethren who may be trying to walk both paths-the path to righteousness and the path to the world. Grant us discernment and boldness to help keep our brethren on Your path. We ask for each of us to have a heart like Jesus, to have eyes like Jesus, to show love like Jesus. Teach us to remain humble. Father, we love You and we give You all the glory and honor. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today’s Attitude of Worship: When you are tempted to be drawn into conversations and situations that do not glorify God or His kingdom in any way, walk away; examine all that you do to make sure that you are not participating in the persecution of anyone. Seek God’s face and seek to have an encounter with Jesus.

Additional Scriptures: Luke 14:11; John 4:1-26

Shalom,

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