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It’s easier to blame others than to accept responsibility for our actions; to dwell on the mistakes made in the past than to build towards the future. Some look on the social, political and physical problems of today and blame God or others. Yet the evil of today isn’t because of divine action but due to the natural consequences of greed, lust, hatred and anger. Fire can’t be fought with fire. More darkness won’t defeat darkness. The smallest amount of light will penetrate the deepest darkness

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Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:17-19

‘He was a Samaritan.’

Only the most bigoted person would be able to grasp the full meaning of this simple phrase. To say the Jews hated the Samaritans would be far too soft of a statement. Self-respecting Jews would have nothing to do with Samaritans socially, religiously or in business transactions. People going from Galilee to Judea would do whatever they could to go around Samaria or travel through it very quickly.

The Samaritans had mutual feelings for the Jews. It was a hatred that went deep to the soul.

Funny how adversity can bring even the most hated enemies together though. As Jesus traveled the borderland of Galilee and Samaria he came to a village that must have been very close to the border. The group of lepers that approached him we most likely Jewish, except for one. Somehow, for whatever reason, the group of ‘walking dead’ had bonded. Now, as a last ditch effort, the group approached this Jewish teacher and begged to be healed.

There was absolutely no reason on earth that the Samaritan should be healed by Jesus. He was an outcast. He didn’t believe the same way as Jesus, in our society it might be best described by saying he was from a different denomination. Still, Jesus reached out to him.

It really should be no surprise that he would do that. He reached out to the Samaritan woman at the well. He reached out to the woman in Tyre. Jesus’ main ministry was to his Jewish brothers and sisters, but he wasn’t above reaching out to others.

He still does that today. We sit in our warm, comfy sanctuaries and thank God for all he’s given us, but do we really realize the extent of his reaching out? Do we fall to our knees as the Samaritan did and cling to him realizing the death sentence we lived under has been removed?

Ten men were healed of the terrible physical disease of leprosy that day. Ten men went home that night to restart life with loving family members. Ten men once again became members of a society that had branded them as outcasts. Only one went home with a healed soul.

We seek to heal our outsides in hopes that the healing will satisfy our soul. The tenth leper found that the only true healing comes from the inside out.

That’s why I’m thankful this morning. Like the leper, I was far from God. Things I’ve done had separated me from God and from others. Jesus never looks at what a person has done, he only looks as what he can do for that person and he freed me from the load of guilt, shame and embarrassment. All because he loves me.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I too fall on my knees before you in humble adoration and praise for all you have done for me. Others may still look down on me. Others may still criticize and doubt me, but you know my heart. Thank you for healing me. Amen.


 

He saves my life from the grave and loads me with love and mercy. Psalm 103:4 NCV

How full is full? The answer to that of course depends on the size of the container to be filled, and what you are filling it with.  Also, the supply source can have an influence on your answer.

For example, if I were to try to fill a gallon container with water from a quart sized container the question becomes unimportant. I can’t fill the gallon sized container because my source will dry up. If, however my source is unlimited and my destination container is small, filling it to overflowing is easy.

 The Psalmist tells us that your Heavenly Father loads you up with love and mercy. Interesting thing about love and mercy. When they are present they squeeze whatever is inside of us out. Love and hatred can’t abide together. When I’m filled to overflowing with God’s love I can’t hate, even if I want to.

Mercy can’t co-habitate with guilt. Forgiveness can’t share a bed with revenge. Grace won’t be seen with a judgmental attitude. Freedom (in Christ) won’t associate with legalistic attitudes. Fear can’t sit down to eat with worry. Your new life in Christ ignores the voice of your past as it screams accusations and reminders of your failures.

You are a child of the Living God. When you accepted Christ onto your life and asked forgiveness of your sin something else happened. The Father filled you to HIS measure with love and mercy. The filling with God’s love is immediate even though the results can take time to show themselves.

Sometimes our humanity fights the filling so it takes time to see the full results. Don’t give up on yourself though. Don’t give up on God’s ability to remove the sludge of the old life. Constant reliance on his love will slowly squeeze out the fear, the doubt and the pain that keeps us from feeling the full benefits of your Fathers unlimited love and mercy.

So when the affair you had reminds you of your unfaithfulness, remember God’s mercy. When the words you wish you could take back haunt you, remember his forgiveness. When the bruises of an abusive past cause you pain, remember his love. When the voices of addiction taunt you and welcome you in, lean on his strength.

I love the phrase, “He loads me up with love and mercy’. In this we can find all the strength we need to carry on.

PRAYER: Father God I thank you for giving me the full measure of your love and mercy. I ask now that you would empower me with your Holy Spirit so that love and mercy will spill over to those around me. Amen


Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you. Proverbs 20:22

The toughest prisons are the prisons with no visible walls. Prisons of our souls that rob us of our freedom to love, our freedom to trust, our ability to live free of fear. In a ‘real prison’ the walls are built thick and strong by someone else for the express purpose of keeping you inside and protecting others from you.

The prison of the soul is built with your own hands. Brick by brick. Hurt by hurt. Failure by failure. Misunderstanding by misunderstanding. In your own mind, whether it’s a conscious thought or not, the prison walls of the soul are built to keep others out and to protect you from any more hurt. You’ve contracted with the master builder of walls, vengeance to make sure no one ever hurts you again.

One of the key ingredients to wall building is the desire to get even. We want to make sure that the perpetrators of our wound ‘pay for what they did’. We want to see justice served and are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that happens.

The problem is, when we try to settle the score with someone else we usually just imprison ourselves in bitterness, anger and fear. ‘If I don’t trust, you won’t fail me; If I don’t love you, you won’t hurt me again; If I don’t forgive you, you will never forget what you did to me.’

Your heavenly Father has a better way. His is the way of freedom; of hope; of love. His way offers you the healing you need from the emotional, spiritual and physical scars that weigh you down every day. His is the way of love, forgiveness and trust. Not trust in others, trust in His ability to take care of the situation in his time and in his own way.

When you forgive someone you aren’t saying what they did is okay, you are saying you trust God enough to let him take care of the situation. Think about that for a moment. Who better to deal with the enemies of your soul than the creator God of the universe? Trusting God to handle each situation in your life not only frees you from the prison of your soul, it protects you from the enemy that seeks to destroy you.

Who better to defeat your enemy than the creator God of the universe who loves you so much he was willing to give his very own son so that you could live free. It’s time to tear down the prison walls of your soul. It’s time to live in the freedom of forgiveness and trust. Not trust in mankind, but trust in an almighty God who wants desperately to free you from your hurt.

PRAYER: Father God, I’m angry today. I’m looking out at a world of hurt and fear from walls I’ve built to protect me. I sought freedom and gained incarceration. I thought pain-free living, but live in anguish and worry. I can’t tear these walls down on my own. I need your help. Empower me with your Spirit to be able to hand all this ugly stuff over to you. Help me to forgive for my sake and trust you to take care of the rest. In Jesus name, Amen.


The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

All great love stories seem to have the same general plot. You have the hero, the villain and the beautiful damsel in distress that needs to be rescued. The hero will often risk his own life in a battle to the end in order to win the love of his life. No one will stop the mighty man of valor from destroying the enemy in order to win the hand of the one he loves.

When I read Zephaniah 3:17 that’s what I think of, a love story like none other. The God of the universe loves me so much the he pursues me. He will not be denied. The villain is dastardly. It can be relational dysfunction. It can be addictions or worry or an unforgiving spirit. It can be bitterness or physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Whatever it is that attacks me is no match for the power of this mighty warrior who refuses to let me fail.

In the midst of the battle I grow weary. I question whether I’m worth the fight. I see myself as weak and unattractive. I focus on my failures and my past mistakes. Sometimes I even willingly put myself in position for the enemy to attack!

He will not be thwarted. He will not allow me to fall victim to the strategy of the enemy. When I’m at my worst, the mighty warrior is at his best, staying by my side and taking great delight in me.

During those darkest nights. During those times when the battle seems too great and the enemy seems ready to claim the final victory over my soul, I hear music. I hear a beautiful love song in my ear. I listen and am surprised to hear that I am the subject of the love song! Imagine that! Even though I fail on daily basis, the God of heaven takes such great delight in me that he writes a song just for me. In the midst of the battle, that is what I want to remember. I want to hear the words of love and praise my Father in Heaven has for me. I am loved deeply. I’m worth the fight. My warrior will rescue me no matter what the enemy may say.

PRAYER: Father God, my mighty warrior. I’ve failed so many times. My past is strewn with lost battle after lost battle against the enemy. Still, you love me so much you take great delight in who I am. Such truth is too great for me to comprehend. Forgive me for those times I’ve rebelled and ignored your presence. Thank you for your forgiveness, your love and my very own love song. In Jesus name, Amen.

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