Obedience Changes Lives!

Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed. Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.” At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. Acts 5:16-21a NIV

When people are jealous and envious of those who obey The Lord, they concoct all manner of complaints against them. We know because of what happened with Jesus the night He was arrested. That was all part of God’s plan–the sacrifice for our sins–by one who had not committed any sin.

Jesus also told us that if people hated Him–the Son of God–they would also hate those who followed Him and loved The Lord with all their heart and soul. Since Jesus could not lie, we should not be amazed at the treatment of Christians today. They were treated horribly by those who did not understand the force of their faith. They were set on fire and used as lights in the night for the games for the cruelest man on earth–Nero. They were wrapped in animal skins and attacked by other vicious animals for sport. They were killed because of their stance–remaining faithful to God–and in obedience to His Word.

Are we worthy of the same hate displayed towards those who came before us? Are we obeying God in all we do so lives will be changed? Has He spoken to us in the middle of night and we arose and obeyed? Are we hated because we refuse to back down from those who choose to follow Satan? Are we tormented because we obey God in all things and teach others to do the same?

What we have to realize is that when Believers obey God, the enemy will hate us and do everything they can to destroy us. With God on our side, nothing the enemy does will matter. No weapon formed against us shall prosper. And even if it seems that all is lost, we must maintain our stance–our faith must be unshakeable–as we move forward in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Satan has tried to stop the move of God for centuries and has never been successful and he won’t succeed now. We must remain steadfast, immovable in the face of the persecution, belittling and mockery demonstrated by the ungodly who are actually fearful of us. When there is a possibility that lives will be changed for the better, the enemy is afraid of losing his influence on the masses so he influences those with either weak faith or no faith in God to hate those of us who love God.

Today, just like so many years ago, the unbelieving are jealous of our obedience to God and they hate it when lives are changed for the better because of the faith instilled in them by our teaching God’s Word. We need not fear the enemy, but maintain our faith in teaching The Word and let the enemy fear us!

Who’s Kissing You?

Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Matthew 26:45-49 NIV

Most Believers know the story and why anyone found betraying another is called a “Judas” because of their behavior. We still have people in our midst–sometimes in our inner circle–who will be betray us in a heartbeat. And those same people, at any given moment, will greet us with a “kiss” marking us as target.

Think about it! Most of the gangster movies in which someone from the inside is going to betray the mob or even the good guys always marks the target with a friendly greeting–with the mobsters once portrayed in movies–with a kiss (cultural preferences). Funny how most movies portrayed the mafia as only one ethnic group when there are so many other groups of “gangstas.”

But people who betray others are not always part of the mafia or any other gangsters–they masquerade as friends, sucking the life of people, encouraging people to do the opposite of what they should do and then leave them hanging when they can’t have their way. When the foolishness is exposed, they have marked a target and then are long gone. We don’t always know people the way we think we know them and when we allow them into our inner circle, we should be careful about what we let them know about us.

Let’s face it–for most of us–three and half years is not long enough to determine whether those we meet are real or not. But that’s us. Jesus knew all along who would betray Him and He didn’t try to stop Judas because the will of God needed to be fulfilled. And it was–right after prayer–the kiss of death, targeting Jesus.

So again I ask, who’s kissing you and are they really a friend or foe?

It is sad to think that within the inner circle of Believers that we have those among us who will target us–mark us for the enemy’s attack. Why would they do that? The enemy’s influence is ignited by jealousy, bitterness, envy, covetous, and disobedience to God. There are people out there who hate those who obey God and will do everything in their power to create a situation where they can see Believers fail–sin as they sin.

Every smiling face is not a friendly face and we must know the signs–the little indicators that signal who is really facing us. Do we see the darkness in the eyes of those whose smiles are not genuine? Are we able to detect the depth of hate when looking into soul-less eyes–especially when the smile only reaches the corners of their mouths?

And once again I ask, who’s kissing you?

 

Saved From Enemies!

“I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies.” (2 Samuel 22:4 NIV)

When people have been saved from disasters and they know The Lord, they understand God’s saving grace in situations beyond their control. David knew The Lord and knew that it was The Lord who had saved him from Saul’s relentless pursuit to kill him.

Let’s step back for a second review the relationship between David and Saul. It was David who struck Goliath with a stone from his slingshot. It was David who was able to soothe Saul with his music ability. It was David who was loyal to Saul beyond measure and refused to kill him, even though he had a chance when Saul sought to kill David out of jealousy. The real issue here with Saul was his jealousy, which reigned over logic in his head and led to his destruction. Jealousy–the monstrous emotion resulting from insecurities that blinds people from seeing reality and is a tool of the enemy–Satan.

When Samuel anointed David as the next king over Israel–predictively–David was put on the road to notoriety and acclaim. He was a hero to the people, but a pain to Saul because the people exalted David–because of his military success over Saul, who was king.

How can someone who claims to love a person become their enemy? When a person is influenced by demonic influence, love won’t stand a chance if the person who is influenced would rather express their desire to hold onto negativity.

Instead of taking the opportunities to kill Saul and become King as prophesied, David ran, formed his own armies, still fighting on the side of Saul’s reign, but keeping far away from him. Throughout Saul’s pursuit of David, David’s faith in God did not fail and he knew he would be saved. When Saul was killed, David sang praises unto The Lord. In fact, during the pursuit, David wrote and sang many songs and we have access to some of them in the Psalms.

Now, the bigger question for us today is, when we are pursued by an enemy, do we sing praises unto our God or do we cringe in fear and hopelessness? Do we sing when we know we have been delivered and saved by that enemy that influences our fear and makes us feel abandoned?

I’ve learned to sing God’s praises, no matter what is happening in my life. I may take a moment to be sad, but I straighten my back, hold up my head, and bellow the songs that are deeply embedded in my spirit--knowing that God has the last word over the things that happen in my life and I know–through Him, I will be victorious in the end. Hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus for victory in every situation in my life–no matter how dark the night may be, morning is coming and with it–Sonshine (The Son will shine brightly and dissolve any despair in all types of weather) and new mercies! Glory to God! I am saved from my enemies!

Hostile Roots!

“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7,8 NIV)

We are three part beings–mind, body, spirit. Our spirits live in our natural bodies and our minds (our soulish realm) is either going to be controlled by our spirits or our flesh (carnal realm). There is a war between our spirits–given by God–and our flesh–flesh wants what it wants and our spirits want what God wants.

We eat when we are hungry because our flesh dictates that need and all other fleshly desires–thirst, emotions, behavior. Our spirits line up with The Word and we are able to hear God when He speaks–allowing Him to determine how we respond to situations–sometimes. At other times, we allow the enemy’s spirit to influence what we do and say, which ignites fleshly reactions.

Notice what Paul says, the mind governed (ruled) by the flesh is hostile to God and when we allow our flesh to govern us, we cannot please God.

Now, I realize not everyone is concerned about pleasing God, but rather they are more concerned with pleasing the dictates of their flesh. God is not pleased, but they are and their pleasure is temporary at best.

For those who desire to please God, we must not allow flesh (that carnal nature) to govern us, but rather we allow our spirits, led by Holy Spirit to direct us in all we say and do. When we allow Holy Spirit to lead us, we cannot do what is wrong or hostile to God and therefore, we please Him.  

When we are hostile to people (and to God), it is because we have allowed our flesh to reign and flesh desires to do what flesh desires. If we get angry, we want revenge. If we are fearful, we want others to be afraid. If we are jealous, we want others to hurt. If we are insecure, we want to blame others for every downfall in our lives. If we have low self-esteem, we misinterpret everything someone else says or does. This is how we react to situations when we allow our flesh to reign and whenever flesh reigns, we end up with regrets. 

We choose (God always gives us choice) what happens to us on a daily basis and it is all determined by whether we want to please God or flesh. Are you trying to please God or flesh today?

What The Lord Hates!

“There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)

Let me see if I can break this down to the lowest possible simplicity:

Haughty eyes–those who look at someone else with scornful arrogance–thinking they are better than others.

Lying tongue–those tongues that wag ceaselessly, telling untruths.

Hands that shed innocent blood–taking a life that does not belong to you for any reason, not justifiable.

Hearts that devise wicked schemes--hard-hearted people who do not know love and therefore are full of hatefulness, planning the demise of others.

Feet quick to rush into evil–those who are quick to run to provoke evil and spread lies to convince others to do evil.

A false witness who pours out lies–those who willingly attest to a wrong-doing that never occurred simply to benefit themselves.

A person who stirs up conflict in the community–those who promote unrest and instability within entire communities for no other reason that be a tool of evil.

There is nothing new under the sun and these things–we see everyday in the news media–to report allegations without evidence or proof of a person’s wrong-doing, provoking society into conflict and hatefulness, those who willing falsify information for the 15 seconds of fame they hope to get, those who take the lives of others for no other reason than they are evil personified, and we know their hearts are evil when we see the plans they devise, implemented. And for any and all who promote something as true without proof, shame on all. In this country, the justice system is supposedly based upon the presumption of innocence, UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY!

What The Lord hates, we who Believe should also hate and condemn those who provoke evil and report lies as truth. The lake of fire is waiting for all liars.

Lord, help us all, to see things the way You see them and to do all You would do, to ensure peace, joy, and prosperity for all, through the overflow of love You have shown us.

Mightier Than The Sword–Live on Amazon!

I am so grateful that I’ve finally completed this project and can share it with you! If you read free chapters on JukePop, you can now read the entire book–after the 15th revision. A mystery/suspense worth reading and you may be surprised! amazon cvr 3   You can get it now http://www.amazon.com/Mary-M-Hall-Rayford/e/B00BAW31CQ/

Are You The Ones?

“Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil—they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them.” (Isaiah 33:15,16 NIV)

No matter what some people about those who do everything in their power to live right, God’s promises never fail. Even though, the righteous have to deal with the same things as those who live ungodly lives, God has a plan to save those who honor His Word and those who don’t–will be left to suffer the consequences of their actions.

When I look at the world and the chaos that abounds, I gain greater understanding of those things the prophets said–warning people about their behavior and associations. History–if not remembered and lessons learned from it–has a way of repeating itself and we see this every day. Everything that was prophesied about the descendants of the Children of Israel is falling into place. The hatred between the brothers is being played out right now in Israel and Gaza, Syria and Afghanistan–all because of jealousy and envy. How foolish we must appear to God to not have learned our lessons well! Could it be that those who read the Words of the prophets read them in unbelief? Or is it stubborn nature that makes us foolish in our attempts to “prove ourselves” to others?

Whenever we think we are better or superior to another group of people–disaster is bound to come upon us and others because of our pride and ignorance. It is pride and ego that leads us to believe in our own superiority and ignorance of the truth of God’s Word that makes us believe that others are inferior. This prevailing attitude often results in people cheating others, misusing and abusing people, lying, and plotting acts of violence and murder against others–superiority. Is there anyone really superior to another? When it rains–does the rain not fall on everyone at the same time or does it just fall upon those who think they are important?

Isaiah has said it well and it would profit all of us to remember that God is not a respecter of persons. His Word is truth and His promises are for everyone–the righteous and the unrighteous–shall receive their just reward for their deeds committed in the earth. I’d rather live with the understanding that I’m better off seeking God’s wisdom than man’s wisdom; doing what God decrees instead of what man commands; and speaking what God speaks rather than changing what God has said to accommodate man’s ever-changing perspectives about God and what He has said.

I pray that God will see me as one who speaks what is right, according to His Word, and doing what is right always in His sight. I pray the same for all who love the Lord and have decided to live according to God’s Word. Are you the ones?