Tag Archives: mercy

Light In The Dark

10 Aug

In the midst of all  the harsh realities of hard times,  we will sink, we will soar, we will say and do things out of hurt or anger and we will make mistakes. The truth is, the pain is not constant and it is only a portion of the journey. Light remains.

The beauty of having a relationship with God, in trusting Him, is knowing that this is not permanent. Having faith doesn’t stop the pain from overwhelming you at times, we are still flesh and bones and our hearts truly ache at times. This journey can be so painful. Faith is knowing, even in the depths, that you are not alone. He is suffering with you and you know this, even when you can’t find Him.   In this hurt, in this lack, you absolutely know He is there, you know this is an important time of your journey with Him, you know this won’t last.

God doesn’t cause suffering, hard things don’t happen to us because he’s an unruly, unrelenting, punishing God. Hard things happen to us because freewill exists, evil exists because sin lives in all of us, disease lives. The most amazing thing can be found in God’s living Word. The bible lays out experience after experience for what we walk through today. Not to control our response but to teach, empathize and encourage us; To guide us in hope from each trial.  Ecclesiastes says, nothing is new, and also, this too is just one of many seasons in life, this hardship.

God is faithful and He loves each life that roams this earth. He longs for all of us, knowing He will only know some of us. We are His creation and He adores us. When we embrace the life He laid out for us, we must trust that He knows where he needs us to get to,what we need to go through to get there, who is going to be touched by that. He also uses this time to minister His healing in our hearts.

There will be hard moments during these time where we don’t feel Him, where we feel lost in our sorrow or trial. Hre is still there, but there is purpose in that as well. We may be pulled deeper, we may be healed more, we may be called out on the water to trust a little more. It is in the looking back, that you see every blessing that came along just when you needed it to even if you couldn’t see it at the time.

He will slowly remove the barriers and strongholds from our past, He will show us the lies Satan tells us that attempt to deter us from healing and peace. As we suffer, we often cause ourselves to suffer more. Maybe we pick up some old legalism,that  we deserve it, that we can somehow fall outside of his grace and his mercy.  These are lies of Satan. God’s beloved Son,  promises us fully that His mercy and grace has been there every step of the way simply by believing that it’s truth.  He will not leave us,  He will not forsake us, He holds us, He guides us. He is and always has been our only true hope.

From my own journey through divorce and betrayal, my faith is assured, even in the hardest moments of all this life has brought my way. What shattered me two days ago has empowered me today. He is so gracious, so amazing like that. Peace comes for a moment and rests within me.

There comes a point as you journey through a painful time that you realize that this is your life’s path and it matters; not just for you but for others as well. We cannot be lost in the moment and lose sight that in the end, this will be a page, a chapter or even a section, but it isn’t the full story.

If you are walking with Him, I will bet that even the darkest parts had light. Praise God for that hope. The light may dim and flicker sometimes, but that light is shining bright within our soul and it is meant to be shared with the whole world.

What will your story tell?

“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭39:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope.”Psalms‬ ‭119:49‬ ‭NLT

Complaining Not Allowed

5 Aug

 

Philippians 2:14(GW)

“Do everything without complaining or arguing”.

Well…this scripture literally made me stop in my tracks.

Everything.

Regardless of how difficult, painful, annoying or unfair something is, we are asked to do so without complaint.

What does your conversation sound like over the past week?

My week was full of complaint. I don’t think I even realized how much until I saw this scripture.In truth,  it was mostly a really great week. I had so many wonderful things to be grateful for. He is truly blessing me in many ways.

It was also a very difficult, painful week. So, I spent far more time talking to friends about this part of my week, highlighting how weary I become in the trial. I sought empathy, support and encouragement for my hardship (complaint).

As we go through life, our fellowship is really important. Talking to our close friends is essential to our walk. We need to share our journey! However, before we vent, before we cry out to our circle, we need to go to God first.

Philippians 4:6 (NLT)  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

He wants our first of everything. He wants our gratitude, our woes, our heartache, weakness and our complaints, and… He wants it first.

He is always the willing listener. Sharing our entire journey with Him is relational. He draws nearer to us as we draw nearer to Him. There is loving circle of protection that happens in that communion.

There is nothing Satan would like more than to have you complain, to not see the good, to not be in relationship with God. He would rather you gossip or complain to your friends about all that isn’t working in your life, rather than being grateful for all He gives.

Learn to go to Him first. Share authentically what you feel with Him before you say any more words. He loves us so much. He cares about our heartache and trials.

We don’t want to become like the Israelites in the wilderness, prolonging our struggle.

1 Peter 5:7 (GW) Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you.

James 4:7-8 (ESV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

 

Peace In The Void

24 Jul

Have you ever had to walk only by faith in God’s promises because you can’t see or feel Him? Worse yet, a time when you need God most and He chooses to step His presence away?

C. S. Lewis stated “during one of the most painful times of my life, I cried out to God and got… a door slammed in [my] face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.”    He wrestled with his faith, this man that gave us a glimpse of light in his words.

He added: “There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once… Why is God so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of need

Walking through such a time myself, I praise God for writers that share their testimony or the bible with stories of Joseph, and David. The sharing of testimonies help us relate and help us walk this life, including heartbreaking times in our journey where He simply doesn’t feel present.

I recently walked through a time feeling the void where God had been steady. I really had to dig deep in my faith and examine what I really believe.

He calls us to constantly grow in knowledge and strength of faith so we are better equipped to do His calling on our life. Our faith is not by sight and our faith will be tested and stretched fully. This time of void, where I can’t feel Him or find Him has been the greatest, hardest lesson of all for me.

He chose for me a time when I was already experiencing aloneness physically, and the loneliness of my divorce.  He decided to use this time to step back His presence. This void felt so devastating, cruel even. Yet, even as I could not find Him, I knew He was there, as if behind the door. I had to strain to find grace, strain to remain in His mercy. I had to work through deep anger at this abandonment, fear of rejection by Him.  I had to really stretch to draw nearer to Him and understand the blessings of grace even in this moment of empty.  I had to know His love remains. Grace is grace. It isn’t dependent upon our circumstances nor our sin.

Grace and God remain steady regardless of our feelings.

Learning to trust that He is still there because He says He is, I held tight to His word in my heart. I began to see Him everywhere, though I still didn’t “feel” Him. He was there in the sunrise and sunset.

I cannot find adequate words to describe this time. It was so lonely, so powerful in that I longed for Him in a way I never have and yet even in that longing, I was confident that He was there.

This was His great purpose for teaching me; Growing and developing my confidence in Him so I can be better prepared to fulfill His purpose for my life.  His refinement of my past, my belief of my worthiness for this journey, removal of all works based religion and the lies of the enemy.

This time. ‘A time such as this’,  there is a sense of peace from this growth. He promises us that joy comes after pain. He reminds us in His word, that hope lives on. We are here but a moment of time, like the wind. He remains. He is always there is the midst of darkness and trial as much as He is there in the mundane. He always has been and always will be.

This journey of life will bring times of abundance and times of lack.  King Solomon summed it up best when He said nothing matters but God.  God remains the same regardless of our circumstances or sin. Whether this world loves us, leaves us alone, recognizes us or ignores us;  God never loses sight of us. We are always within His hands.

What immense peace it is to know that I can sit in the center of His amazing love, feeling the fullness of the hurts and sorrows, joys and triumphs of this life, knowing with all that I am, nothing compares to just simply being in His presence.

Jeremiah 23:23-24 tells us: “”Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the Lord, “No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens  and the earth?”says the Lord. “

 

Take Heart

19 Jun

There is a line in the movie “The Shack” that I really liked.  “Papa” is explaining what grace and trust look like when evil harms us; In those circumstances that we are collateral damage when someone’s free will results in grave sin.  “I am not asking you to excuse what he did. I am asking you to trust me to do what’s right and to know what’s best.”  He means inspite of what we see.  Forgive and trust God in all circumstances.

He knows our storms. He knows our sin and He knows the sins done against us. He is beside us, faithful, even when we can’t feel Him.

Faith is like a muscle. In our good times, our faith may not be getting a work out. Our gratitude may be strong, our worship may be strong but our faith truly is only tested in our trials.  Endurance is for the long term. Is faith really faith when the minute it gets painful, we fall apart?

Romans 5:3 tells us that our trials, through persevering, strengthens our character and builds us up in Hope.

He knows our circumstances and he knows our relationships. He knows where we are overwhelmed by the storms, uncertain how to navigate our way through. In Matthew 14:27 he says to Peter “Take heart; It is I. Do not be afraid”.   It is the middle of a storm, and the seas are raging, the disciples see the impossible, Jesus on the water. Peter, though he only had a small amount of faith, and probably a good dose of fear in that moment, was willing to trust and get out of the boat and walk to Jesus. “Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water: Jesus said “Come”.

Faith like that, faith that says “ok Lord, I am overwhelmed by the storms of my life right now, I long for answers that don’t come quickly.  I struggle to let go of the resolutions I planned for the outcomes you have planned. Lord, hold your hand out to me, help me find my way safely, and I will step out in faith”

How confident we can be friends, that He is there in the storms. In him we can find our peace, our hope, our courage. We can cry out “Father, our little faith can let us step out of our terror, even in the midst of storm, and walk on the water with you. You ask us to trust you, to take courage in you, in your presence, even when we don’t feel you near. You help us walk on the water in the storm.”

It is then that we find what cannot be found anywhere else. Peace that surpasses all understanding. Calm that belies the storms. Hope that even if it isn’t what WE planned, we know it will lead us to the exact place to bless us and to bless other’s with.

Lord you are just that amazing and good. Us of little faith, seek you and find you when we seek you with all of our hearts. Imperfect, scared to death, hurting and lacking in grace and mercy for other’s and for ourselves. We find perfect peace in all of that, the storms that this world brings.

Thank you, Father, for never letting me drown in this storm. Thank you for giving me the courage of Peter to step out in faith I don’t always feel!

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b]boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:1-4

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillippians 4:7

 

The Truth Sets You Free

27 May

We battle with this world on a constant basis; we war with one another, we war with ourselves, we even war with God, at times. The very basis of truth in that is this: we only have one enemy, our war is with Satan.

We are victorious in Christ.

I am so far from perfect, God knows this! His forbearance of my stumbles has set the example for me to bear all things from those around me! It is a constant decision I have to make, and don’t always, obviously. In my short marriage, I learned to focus on grace and seeing the parts of my husband that were wonderful in order to not betray, reject or abandon him. Forgiveness and Grace are only possible by submitting and seeing the greater purpose, God.

In order for my husband to betray me and bring an end to our brief marriage, he had to to tune out the voice of God and believe the lies Satan told him. He had to hear Satan tell him to focus on the parts of me and our marriage that weren’t perfect. He had to, in order to betray, reject and abandon me. When we don’t fully understand our own own salvation, or how to even embrace Grace and Mercy, we simply are too vulnerable.  That is Satan, and he will follow it up with “life is too short to be unhappy”.  People don’t make us unhappy, we allow Satan to do that to us, for us and with us.

“From Lead like Jesus:Fear and Pride always separates us from God, from one another and even from ourselves. “ (EGO= Edge God Out) 

I read an article about the Lake of Fire. Revelations is a bit daunting to me, I become a bit frightened sometimes, reading it. As a sinner that struggles to trust in Jesus, Satan can seriously mess with me with that! I can go down the rabbit hole and question, am I truly saved?  Oh God, how I fear for those that walked away and rejected Him. What about those that don’t even know what is to come?  The second death of being thrown into the sea of fire, is so frightening. Thank you Lord for Grace! Please Lord, let me be an instrument of your message of hope to save people from that death!

“What hope have we for deliverance from the “second death” if not the suffering of its pains, in our place, by the Son of God? If I receive the “crown of life”, which I don’t deserve, in place of the “lake of fire”, which I do deserve, it can only be for one reason: Jesus Christ,” Rick Warren

We are not going to be thrown in to the fire because we do things wrong! We will be thrown in because we refused to believe we have been saved from the fire by Christ!

I completely believe that that mustard seed of faith is as important as my deep end of the pool is.  My deep end comes with far more expectations than an un-awakened believer or sadly, the Christian seeking redemption through rules and judgement’s of who is and who isn’t doing it right!  But, even in the deep end, I am vulnerable, I allow Satan to mess with my mind!

God doesn’t demand order, he puts the chaos into order, because we can’t. We are constant chaos.  We are so double-minded, we lie to ourselves constantly. We get tossed about.

Who among us, truly, is so focused on Heaven, that this world never causes us distress. Who is so strong in their faith that they never battle with Satan and his lies. Who? Not one of us. Some have heard so much untruth in our early lives, we were so hurt, we truly don’t know how to not believe the lies. It is far more difficult to believe we are so incredibly loved and forgiven by a perfect God, than to believe we are not worthy by a lying enemy.

Christ was tempted. He can understand our hardships and weakness because He experienced it here. He went through horrible trials, temptation, and battles. He was perfect, victorious, every single time as an example.  I see the written word of how Christ walked this world, not as the hopeful example of how I should walk, (which my whole journey leads me down that path, but never to perfection) but the submission to the one so strong and perfect that He was able to save me from my weakness and imperfection. From that perspective, I am stronger, more powerful, because He lives in me. Satan has no hold. I can’t, but Christ can.

If we don’t fully understand the Power of the Cross, the grace and mercy that comes with that, we are powerless to give it to others. Worse yet, if we don’t understand that we are saved from the lake of fire, how can we be? It is the basis for forgiveness. If we truly believe God has forgiven us for being sinners, we can forgive others. That is faith! That is obedience.

Faith is the root, the need and the core of every bit of our walk.  We are all sinful. It is horrible to me to see the depth of suffering that is to come for those that don’t believe. There are life long Christians that have not understood the power of surrender, that see obedience as a way of living, rather than a way of submitting and surrendering, they have only a mustard seed, or maybe they don’t even have that! Hope for it to be truth is submission in its own right. Doubt that the cross was enough for everyone, is not faith at all.

The wisdom of King Solomon pours out from the pages, but at the end of the day this is his summary of our purpose.

13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. –Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Jesus said…Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[g] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[h]

They come to the light. They see that their actions are sinful and they need a savior. They turn to Jesus to rescue them, to save them from eternal judgement while they are still sinners! They aren’t perfect, they are humbled and worshipful. They fear God and seek to love others enough to help them to see their need for Christ. The light, The hope.

Paul tells us this truth!

 There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1).

Those of us that put all of our hope in Christ, know that this world is short and the second death will come one day. Heaven is our hope! This world hurts! I can’t wait to be in the presence of Christ and to dwell in HIS house forever.

As long as I walk this world, I will need Christ and I will sin. I will stumble, I will fall, I will continually need to cry out to him in trials and need to praise Him for His blessings. I am just a mere mortal. I am weak, He is strong.  But God! I am made strong in Him.

I will never stop praying for those that can’t seem to find Him because they can’t seem to let go of self hatred. Stop trying to run from your sins, lie about your sins or even suffer or pay for your sins. Simply just tell him the truth! Simply surrender that you are sinful, that you are weak, that you can’t do it yourself and humbly ask Jesus to help you. Then… you believe you are saved. You then can stop listening to the lies that you are too far gone for God to simply forget your sins. When you ask Him to forgive you, believe that He does! Because He does!

There is not one single good church,good pastor or humbled christian that doesn’t welcome your honest questions, nor will they judge you for your sins. They will give you guidance and hope.

32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:32

 

Under His Wing

29 Oct

His Love is bigger than we can fathom. Our value to Him is beyond measure. Do NOT let this world, or the words you tell yourself, echo louder than His amazing promises. It may be dark today, but don’t let Satan discourage you. Feel God’s holy and amazing presence. He is there beside you. Lean against Him, seek His voice. Ask the Holy Spirit to hold you so tight … then let the grief and disappointment you feel wash away with the promise that this is now, not forever. 

You will laugh again. 

You will love again. 

You will feel joy again. 

You will never, ever, ever, walk alone. 

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.””

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:1-6, 9-12, 14-16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

““If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says GOD, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!””

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭91:14-16 msg

Time For Grace

3 Jul

The Beatitudes:

Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God. ~Jesus

The past year for me, like most, has been extremes of trials and blessings, but for me,  the lessons of grace and mercy have taken my heart captive.

I have such strong feelings when I feel my fellow believers are being religious, legalistic, unkind or in my opinion, standing in the way of true evangelism. Yet, as soon as I think that way, The Holy Spirit convicts me and shows me my own sin. My own pride. My own legalism in my judgement.

We are supposed to love God, love our fellow Christians and mostly, love our neighbor. This is the fulfillment of the law.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. Galatians 5:4-14 

Loving your neighbor doesn’t just mean those that are in your inner circle but rather this includes those that are different from you- the atheist, homosexual, abortionist, muslim. This also includes the guy who disagrees with you, or the guy that just cut you off on the freeway, the girl that was rude to you, the boss that screams at you. It also includes your husband when he is unloving or your wife when she is disrespectful. This is agape love. This is grace. This is where I sin most.

Grace is essential in every single aspect of our journey to become Christ like. Without grace, you truly are not aligned with Christ and your faith is not evident.  If we seek it, we need to give it. Your walk should embrace grace and be evident.  Jesus warned us about Spiritual pride. 4″ Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4, 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:10 

So before we can walk in grace, we absolutely must humble ourselves. God teaches us in His own way, in His own time, and The Living Word breathes truth into us, over and over again, we grow, we soften, we learn, as that knowledge is shown to us, by the Father.

Humility is essential to growth, to love, to grace, to salvation. Without it, we can’t possibly understand how to love as Christ loves us; Our ego fights this, our free will fights this.

We are sinners. If we are judging the sin in other’s, we take a step away from humility,  from grace and from Christ. Before you hate the sin in other’s you must first hate your own sin and your own sin nature. Ask forgiveness for your own sins. Let Him walk you through your own refinement. This is faith. This is how God can begin to change the world, first within us. Then through us.

After all, He loved us first. All of us.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

I have recently had my own major lessons and convicted misteps in grace. Being hurt by family and/or family of believers,  I being shocked by the dishonor, blatent unkindness and later, the untruth and slander that was exposed. responded with protective anger. Especially at the cruelty that crushed the spirit of someone I care about.  There is a hurt that goes so deep when the hurt comes from family and/or our family of believers. It is more unexpected in some way. We walk more transparently with our fellow believers, or we should anyhow.

But Christ himself walked everything before us and he expects us to stay focused on him and on grace.

39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 5:39

He teaches us how to stay focused on what truly matters in our journey to eternity. We can’t care about what others think of us. God has a different expectation. His approval is all we truly need.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26  

As with all scripture, you must read the whole in which the context is taken Jesus didn’t mean to “hate” your family but rather this is a warning that walking a Christian life is difficult. We must love God first and be willing to lose all the rest, in the end, for that love. Jesus loved the law, including to honor your mother and father. but He was very clear:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

In the end, humble, forgiving grace is essential to our journey. Grace doesn’t approve of, enable or minimize sin. Grace doesn’t decide forgiveness of sin, Jesus did that on the cross for us. It is not our job to convict, nor judge. That is the Holy Spirits job. Justice is not ours. Humility says, if justice were served, I would be unworthy to receive the mercy and grace of our Lord’s crucifixion.

When our fellow Christian sins, (not the unsaved), like we do ourselves…we must help them back to God’s truth, even if it is our spouse. We submit to God first. If our fellow believer, whether friend, child or spouse is hurtful or walking away from alignment in Christ  we lovingly speak truth, sometimes it is a must, but it also must include acknowledgement of forgiveness, and our own need for forgiveness and grace.  Ultimately, it can cost rejection, but if it is in line with Christ, it is worth it.

When the world walks in sin, like we do ourselves, we must step out of discipleship and into evangelism. Jesus was a revolutionary teacher of peace and of LOVE in a time of arrogant legalism and religious politics. Truth be told, times were very politically extreme like it is today. If we aren’t perfect, like He was, which we are not, we can’t have the same righteous anger. If we aren’t transparent and humble, walking in grace and love, then we are not following the words of Christ. Our words and actions at all times are our evangelism. If they aren’t in line with scripture, we have too much work to do on ourselves before we put ourselves in a role of leadership. Period.

In the end, Grace wins.  I think The Message version sums it up best.

43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”