I’ve always heard that the adult female body is made up of about 60% water. However, I think it is much more likely to be maybe 20% water and 80% emotions! Not to exclude the men, we all are emotional people. And, because we all have emotions, we are all susceptible to having hurt feelings.
I don’t care how far along you are in your walk with God, none of us are immune. This is a point I was reminded of through an experience this past week. In ministry, I’ve always been told you have to develop a tough skin. But, still it must be balanced with a tender heart. Do you know how difficult that is? I thought I had come a long way in developing a tough skin and a tender heart—until it happened last week—my feelings were hurt.
Have you ever received an invitation to an event, party, or activity only to arrive and feel as if your name was accidentally included on the guest list? I’m not saying this is what happened, but when we get our feelings hurt we often feel just that way. We can feel insignificant and small, like we are at fault for showing up even though we were invited. People can often say hurtful things to us, or about us. Sometimes they ignore us or reject us. At other times the actions of another person whether intentional, or only perceived can slash us right across the heart.
Last week I realized just how much more sensitive women are to these feelings, and how great we are at hurting one another. Men don’t see things the way we women do most of the time. I’m thankful for my husband Bryan. Other than the Holy Spirit, Bryan is very often the voice of reason in my emotional out of sorts world. Even though I would often like to strangle him when he uses this voice of reason, I have to admit many times he is right. (And Babe, if you are reading this, I do take payment in the form of diamonds…just saying)!
But there is another voice that also vies for our attention, and that is Satan—the enemy of our souls. He uses his influences to cause us to dwell on the things that hurt us. Our feelings are very real to us, and we often feel justified in having bad feelings toward those who hurt us. But are we?
Jesus knew rejection to a degree that most of us will never face. Being rejected by His own, (John 1:11) He willingly went to the cross and laid down His life. As He hung there dying, He exclaimed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus demonstrated perfect love and forgiveness through the ultimate sacrifice—giving His own life to pay for our sins, and giving the opportunity to experience eternal life to those who believe and accept His forgiveness.
But before Jesus went to the cross, He taught exactly how we should respond to those who hurt, or mistreat us.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
We forgive because Jesus forgives, and He requires us to forgive if we are to be forgiven of our sins.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
We forgive so that God will not withhold His blessings from us.
1 Peter 3:9
“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
We forgive because we love one another. Real love forgives others of wrongdoing. And God commands us to love others even as we love ourselves. If we cannot forgive others, we do not love.
1 John 4:7-8
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
And 1 Corinthians chapter 13 tells us what love is, and what it looks like.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
So, while we are all susceptible to having our feelings hurt, and though we are all tempted to hold grudges, we can see it is Biblical to love and forgive. The flesh would have us to give in to the temptation to get mad, and pout about how mistreated we are, but the Spirit encourages us to let it go, and be free.
That being said, we don’t have to accept the invitation to put ourselves in situations where we know we will feel “uninvited” or left out. Sometimes resisting temptation requires us to protect ourselves (and our hearts) from situations where we know we will be hurt. So just remember, we must love and forgive, but sometimes we can do that from a distance. We don’t have to accept every invitation!
As I sat down to begin my Bible study for the day, I noticed a small ladybug crawling across the top of my desk. Or, was it a ladybug? I would have assumed it was, but a few years ago I was introduced to the name “Asian Beetles.” They look exactly like ladybugs. The only real distinguishing quality they have, is the shape of their heads. These Asian beetles seem to have multiplied overnight, and are invading the homes of people everywhere.
Still they never were at the top of my list of unwanted pests until I took a closer look at the seemingly harmless insects. After a little investigation and reading various sources of reputable information, I have come to find that these pests are not completely unassuming. Though ladybugs, and asian beetles have many similarities, they are totally different.
Ladybugs are good to have around. They eat other soft bodied pests like aphids, mites, and white flies—all of these cause damage to plants. Ladybugs do not eat plants, bite people, or do other damage. In fact farmers and gardeners welcome them.
Asian beetles are a different story. They eat ladybugs, plants, and even bite people! When threatened they release a yellow substance that smells bad, and stains walls, windowsills, or anything else they come in contact with. They also cause allergic reactions in some people, resulting in swollen eyes, itching, or asthmatic symptoms. So, as you can see, they are not the best house guests.
I’ve never been a fan of having any kind of insect in my home, but I never really paid a lot of attention to the occasional ladybug. Now that I realize the pesky intruders are not really ladybugs but a cleverly disguised imitation, I’ve become more aggressive in ridding my home of them.
Thinking about these pests this morning, I had to ask myself what other kind of harmful intruders I have permitted to come into my home, or my life, disguised as innocent and unassuming? How quickly we can become de-sensitized by the things around us! Then its easy for an imitation to come in and take up residence with us.
As I was scrolling through the news feed on Facebook yesterday, I noticed a story about a couple of “devout Christian Swingers,” who were spreading the Gospel by swinging (spouse swapping)! Seriously? How absurd! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I’m not sure what they are actually spreading, but it’s certainly not the Gospel that is recorded in my Bible! Jesus warned us about false teachers, false doctrines, and false prophets. Some are blatantly obvious—like I would think these two swingers are. But others are much more subtle. Jesus warns us about these things.
“Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.”
Paul warns the Corinthians about false prophets/apostles.
2 Corinthians 11:10
“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
2 Peter 2:1-3 says:
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”
This is why now, more than ever before, we must know the Word of God. The enemy of our souls works his way in by introducing near truths that sound good. He has always twisted Scripture to make it more palatable. It may sound very similar, so if we do not have a solid foundation we can begin to accept wrong doctrines.
Peter says the false teachers will secretly introduce destructive heresies. They don’t make it obvious, they use deceptive tactics. And we know that Satan is the Father of Lies. (John 8:44) We must test everything to see if it is truly from God.
1 John 4:1
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
We must always be on guard. We can’t become complacent, and blindly accept what sounds good. We must be observant, and make sure everything we see, or hear lines up with the Word of God—the Holy Bible.
I truly believe we are living in the last of the last days and the enemy is trying harder than ever to lead Christians astray. Let us not be easy targets. If he comes after me, I want him to regret it! Know the Word of God, and quote it. Saturate yourself in the Truth so you cannot be led astray. Even the seemingly innocent can bring destruction!
2 Peter 3:17-18
“Therefore, beloved, since you already know these things, be on your guard not to be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure standing. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."
Flu season has hit and is in full swing here in Tennessee. Many schools are closed because of the high number of students who are already sick, and to minimize spreading the flu among those who are not. Scores of people are staying home to avoid the risk of contracting the flu virus. Some wear medical masks to keep from breathing in any potential germs when they go out in public.
Hundreds have received a flu vaccine that has had little to no benefit this year—some say it is less than 10% effective. All kinds of precautions are being taken to avoid the horrible sickness we call the flu. Anyone who has ever had the flu understands exactly why it is best to take precautions. In older individuals or those with compromised immune systems, it can even be life threatening sometimes resulting in death.
However, in most cases it proves to be a couple of weeks of misery. Bad to say the least, but not a permanent situation. It does come to an end, thankfully! I’ve had the flu a couple of times in my life, so I can attest to how miserable it can make a person feel. I also understand the reasons for taking precautions against it—of course no one wants to be sick. But, still I’m amazed at the measures we will take in an attempt to prevent something that is temporary.
I can’t help but think of how truly horrible it would be to experience eternal pain and suffering in Hell, and yet so many people choose to take no preventative measures to avoid it. Hell is real. It is not a myth we scare our children with to make them behave. Hell is a reality and it is not a couple of weeks of misery. It is eternal pain and suffering and total separation from God.
Matthew 5:29 ESV says:
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.”
Matthew 13:49-50 ESV
“So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Revelation 20:15 ESV
“And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 21:8 ESV
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
I don’t think there is a flu virus in the world that can compare to that kind of misery. The truth is, we don't have to be incredibly evil to go to hell. For all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) The awesome news is there is a Perfect preventative measure we can take. It is 100% effective. It is only by applying the blood of Jesus Christ to our lives that we can totally avoid the eternal punishment of hell. When our names are recorded in the book of life, we have no fear of eternal damnation.
Jesus became the Perfect Sacrifice for our sins and mistakes, when He laid down His life for us. We simply need to repent and turn from our sins, ask Him to forgive us, believe that He IS the Son of God, and confess Him as our Lord and Savior. Then we must strive to follow Him and seek His will for our lives, with all of our hearts. Seems like a really simple preventative measure to escape the flames of hell if you ask me. Yet so many people refuse to acknowledge that they need a Savior.
You can believe the enemy of our souls is spreading his nasty germs and his viruses to trap us in torment and misery with him. Misery loves company, and he knows how the story ends. He will be thrown into the lake of fire. His only desire is to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus has come so that we might have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
We must fill our hearts and minds with the Word of God. We must spend time talking to Jesus, just as we would talk to our best friend. He wants to be your best friend. We must be careful to avoid the deceptions of the enemy and do our best to stay away from the things we know will cause us to stray or be tempted; just like avoiding germs.
One of my sweet ladies in the jail has repented and given her life to Christ, but as a baby Christian, she struggles with using profanity from time to time. As we began to talk about it last week, she shared that when she was busy cleaning the jail she would put a Rap CD into the CD player. The rapper uses a lot of profanity in his lyrics. I asked her if she thought that might have any effect on her using profanity when she gets frustrated or upset?
Just like we can breathe in germs from a flu virus, we must be careful of other things we allow inside our heads, and in our lives. I’m a firm believer in the phrase “garbage in—garbage out.”
Luke 6:45 ESV:
“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Let’s be careful to take the right preventative measures in our lives. There’s nothing wrong with doing what we can to avoid temporary discomfort, but let us never forget that eternity is FOREVER. Let’s make every attempt to avoid eternal suffering, and plan for an exciting destiny with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our Heavenly home!
I love how God moves when we trust Him with the smallest details of our lives. And I love how sometimes when we pray simple prayers, God comes along and does something even bigger than we were expecting or even asking for. God positions, repositions, and meticulously places every piece of the puzzle until all the pieces fit exactly as they should. He never wastes opportunities to train, instruct and guide us until His will is accomplished.
The most amazing part is how He often answers our own prayers by answering someone else’s prayer in the process. This is something I have experienced a couple of times this week, and I love watching the way He works!
As most of you know, I travel and speak for women’s conferences, retreats, church services, and revivals. I also lead the Embrace Sisterhood (women’s group) at my home church, which meets the first Thursday night of each month. Next month I’m speaking in Arkansas for a women’s retreat, and Sunday service. I didn’t realize the next Sisterhood meeting was the night before I leave for Arkansas, so when I looked at my calendar last week I started to panic.
I didn't want to overextend myself so I started praying and asking God what I should do? Should I ask someone to fill in? If so, who? Needless to say, God was already working on it before I asked. In fact He had been working on it for over a month. As my hubby tuned into the Super Bowl on TV Sunday night with his dad and brother, I tuned out the Super Bowl and went to my room to pray. I began to ask God once again who I could get to fill in?
As clear as a bell, God spoke to my heart, “Jacqueline!” Jacqueline is on my Sisterhood leadership team, but I haven’t known her very long at all. She has always seemed really quiet. However, I knew God had spoken, so without hesitation I sent her a message and asked if she would pray about speaking for our March meeting. She immediately replied, “We need to do lunch!” I sent her another message and said, “God has already put it on your heart hasn’t He?” She said, “It has kept me up at night!”
God had already asked her to talk to me about speaking for a meeting. Then He also planted the thought into my head as well. I am thrilled to see what God is doing in Jacqueline’s life, and I have no doubt He is going to use her in wonderful ways! It is my desire to help others step into the calling God has placed on their lives, so this was especially thrilling to me.
I also do jail ministry every Thursday, and this was another area I had been praying for God to help me out with. I never want to just leave those ladies hanging when I have to go out of town to speak. They count on me to come and minister every week, and I don’t want to let them down. So, this was another matter I had taken to God. Sunday a week ago—Kelsey—another one of my ladies on the Sisterhood leadership team contacted me because God had put the jail ministry on her heart. She also said she hadn’t been able to get jail ministry off her mind. I took her in with me last week, and as the tears rolled down her face, I saw the love of Jesus and His compassion flowing from her eyes. This Thursday, she will be speaking to the ladies for the first time.
I am so excited to see these ladies stepping out in obedience to God, and I believe they are equally excited that God is providing opportunities (obviously answers to their own prayers) to do so. God is faithful to answer our prayers, and when we listen for His voice we sometimes find that He is answering multiple prayers at the same time! Without any of us three ladies knowing what God was doing; He was working out every detail for each us behind the scenes. Nothing is too difficult for Him! When I think about multi-tasking I start feeling like I need a nap. But God loves multi-tasking.
I’m continually amazed by how very little we can comprehend of the magnificent mind of God. Our human minds can never wrap around the complexity of who God is, and how He orchestrates even the smallest events of our lives. The world with billions of people, and billions of situations big or small, can never tire or exhaust the patience of our great God. He is on it—always. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to understand how, but I can trust that He will always have the answer when I pray, because He already knows my thoughts, and knows my need. You can be assured of that as well!
Psalm 139:1-10 NIV
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Donna Sparks is an International Speaker and Evangelist. She is the Author of Beauty From Ashes: My Story of Grace, and, No Limits: Embracing the Miraculous.