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"We Serve Christ!"
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism" (Colossians 3:23-25).
Today I have on my heart those who have experienced lasting hurt due to the inappropriate actions of other believers. If you have walked with Christ for any length of time you've likely experienced the uncomfortable sting of another Christian's hurtful words or actions. This may be in the form of a moral fall by someone you have esteemed over a long period of time. It might be a harsh unreasonable action or a betrayal. These deep felt hurts may come from our own families, churches and other ministries or a fellow Christian we work with.
When I think of the emotional or spiritual sting that I've experienced over the years from fellow Christians on occasion I consider the analogy of an insect bite or sting. For instance the honeybee is equipped with a stinging barb that lodges into the victim's skin. Anyone who has experienced this most uncomfortable pain will quickly remove the venom-filled barb to seek relief from the pain and swelling associated with the sting. But even after the barb is removed pain, swelling and itching will likely reside for several days reminding you of that unfortunate run-in with the hostile bee.
Similar to the bee sting a hurtful experience with a brother or sister in the faith can lodge deep into one's heart causing great disturbance and even the unsettling of one's faith if not kept in proper perspective. The circumstances of the hurt may sting, even to the point of making you sick, emotionally or physically, if not kept in proper perspective. The truth is that we are all undergoing spiritual transformation at different paces and in different areas of our lives. We may overcome in one area, while still struggling in another. We cannot depend on the degree of spiritual transformation in others as a condition to our own victory in Christ.
But this perspective is so hard to apply when we are in the midst of pain. I consider a friend who experienced a hurt due to the wrong actions of another believer. By all evidences he is showing a sweet spirit in the midst of his unsettled circumstance. That is a wonderful demonstration of faith and spiritual victory! Perhaps he is finding some consolation in the old adage, "Better to have been wronged than to be doing the wrong." Or maybe, in his spiritual maturity, he is personalizing the Scripture lesson today and reminding himself, "It is the Lord Christ I am serving" – with intention choosing to rise above the circumstances, instead of sinking under them.
We ponder the Scriptures in regard to the situation my hurting brother is going through and similar situations that we've had in my own life.* Paul through the Holy Spirit reminds the believer, that no matter what difficulty or challenge we face, "It is the Lord Christ you are serving." The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we can "say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
When we are hurt, and undoubtedly some of you are in the midst of these kinds of hurts, it's so important to know this truth and keep this perspective; "It is the Lord Christ I am serving." When you look into the face of the one who has contributed to your emotional pain, by faith, may you see that person through the compassionate eyes of Jesus. God will bring healing to you today, my fellow believers, and He will help relieve the venomous sting that inflicted you in the first place.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father You are a friend that never leaves us nor forsakes us. When we feel that a friend has despised, betrayed, or misrepresented us we can take it to You in prayer because You know all about it. You know the motive of our heart while others may not and You guide us accordingly. Give us insight and wisdom regarding our relationships with those of the faith and those who are not. Keep us from harboring a vengeful spirit or allowing bitterness to root within our hearts. We want to grow and mature in the ways that make us more like You. Help us to do so as we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
*We must declare that we have received blessing from relationships with my fellow believers to a much, much greater degree than we have been hurt! The needed perspective for all of us in the midst of a strained relationship is to realize there is often misunderstanding or miscommunication. Often our actions are based on our emotional perception of a matter rather than the cold, hard facts. Be careful of falling into this error – loving, clear communication and a prayerful spirit are keys to working out matters. If we apply Paul's words in Philippians 2: "Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others" we would find ourselves much more fair-minded and would seek, as much as possible, to blend our perspectives so that we build one another up as opposed to tearing one down, as prescribed in Scripture.
Brooksyne's Note: Since I'm a gardener I occasionally pull a weed or cut a flower that has a bumble bee hiding under a leaf. When my finger gets that stinger, believe me, I let go real quickly and head to a cold faucet for relief. I've also found that my Aloe Vera plant brings great relief to the site where the bee stung me. The sting usually leaves me with intensive itching for days. When this happens I carry a stem of the Aloe Vera plant and extract its juice over my itch and it will go away for an indefinite period of time. I consider the analogy of the bee sting in our lesson today to that of a brother or sister who has stung us with words or actions. The Bible is like the Aloe Vera plant – it brings soothing relief and it also brings about spiritual growth and needed perspective. The time I look back to one of my greatest periods of spiritual growth was during a "saint sting." Instead of shrinking back I moved forward in the ways of the Lord because Jesus had the remedy for my pain in His Book! Try it, because really works!
Our flowers are really starting to bloom. This is a Peony that faces the full afternoon sun. Today we are getting a cool, gentle rain and I expect the animal and plant life are really enjoying it.
It's difficult to get a clear photo of the fish in our small backyard garden fishpond but this will give our readers an idea. Our two goldfish survived through the winter even though our pond froze practically solid (there must have been an air pocket). A friend of my brother Pat gave us the two Koi. They seem to get along OK!
Yesterday I shared a photo of an old steel lawn chair that was the type my folks used when I was a child. Marsha, a long-time friend from northern PA, informs me that the same type of chair is still available descibed as a retro. I must not be the only one who has sentimental memories of this type of chair! I just wonder if they would be built as well now as they were then?
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.
"For I Know The Plans I Have For You" Jeremiah 29:11-13 from the Integrity Scripture memory series Audio (Open this page and click on play.)
"Meditate on These Things" Philippians 4:8 from the Integrity Scripture memory series Audio (Open this page and click on play.)
Doris High captures a glimpse of the view from her patio in this post. Her rural neighborhood is very similar to the sights, sounds and smells in ours, so enjoy. Doris observes what is also one of my favorite farm smells, freshly cut alfalfa! We've yet to experience that this spring.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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