February 18, 2015
I am not much of a news watcher. But I definitely watch enough to have seen the pictures of the 21 Christians who were slain on the Libyan beach by ISIS. The image of the men in orange jumpsuits lined up on their knees will always stay with me. Each day I have been leaning into God with that image close to mind. We are a nation of fixers...so in my mind I would wonder what "we" as a nation could have done to prevent this, or what "we" should do to make sure it never happens again, that is what the news is asking for sure. Putting blame. Media helps with this doesn't it? I am not going to list here but you can probably think of all sorts of blame being tossed around right now.
I had felt a stirring in my spirit for several days. Was I going to hate the men who beheaded the Christians. I wondered to myself...what would Jesus do? I want to do what Jesus would do...and then I realized we know exactly what Jesus would have done. He would have asked forgiveness for those that persecute, Jesus words from the dangerous cross that the evil men hate..."Father, forgive them they know not what they do." He would have loved.
The government has a job to do to protect it's citizens in the USA. So I am not talking about government stance or action here. I am talking about me. My heart. In difficult times Satan loves nothing more than to turn people of peace into people of hate. We might not have been on that beach that day, but Satan is sure going to take every advantage..travel to and fro across the earth to try to infect us with fear, hatred and bitterness because of that beach. It would be a righteous hate, right? We have every right to hate them because of what they did? No. As easy as it is to be pulled into this way of thinking there is a more difficult road of love that Christians are called to. It is NOT for the faint of heart.
So I felt like God said to my heart, it is time to gird your loins, get ready, dive deeper into me because you do not possess the supernatural love that it will take to fight the infestation of hate that can come of this. I can not control any government, I can not control ISIS but I can submit my heart to The Way of the Cross. The men that died last weekend and the many men, women and children that have died for their faith through the centuries chose Jesus. They chose His way.
I don't think I am expected to like the persecutors, but I am expected to not give my heart to bitterness or hate. I am called to revisit Ephesians 10 and prepare for my own personal battle to keep my heart right before God. I must stand and be aware that fear can seep in almost unseen, but the feelings it brings are not.
I know I can't do this on most any subject without God: What fruits of the Spirit have I mastered that I can do on my own without God's supernatural power flowing through the Spirit to me?
None. If I am seeking God with all my heart these do flow naturally out of me. Some more readily than others. If I am not seeking God and thinking that I can be kind or full of God's peace without fully relying on Him for these things...I am desperately and wholeheartedly wrong.
Am I ready?
I am ready only if I am fully relied upon God. That picture of those 21 Christians, 21 souls that were murdered will remind me what it costs to be a servant of Jesus. If it is not costing me anything then I need to give that some thought and prayer and start asking some pretty tough questions.
Questions I ask myself:
Do I really trust God? The answer to this for me is...never enough. So I pray each day..."Father, I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief."
Have I given into fear, hate or bitterness....if so, ask God for forgiveness and send those evil spirits away. I would say this: "In the name of Jesus, the spirit of hate, must leave and go where Jesus sends it, Father fill me with fruit of your Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self-control." See Paul in scripture for his example in casting out spirits. One does not need to be possessed by evil to be oppressed by evil.
Am I actively pursuing a relationship with God? Going to church on Sundays doesn't really count in this question. Yes, it is a good thing. But you would not develop a deep relationship with a friend or spouse in the middle of a church building with lots of people around. This is one on one time. Me and God.
Am I being silent before God?
Am I so scattered with busyness or thoughts that I can not even focus on God? Does it seem like God is distant? I can keep God at arms length by never stopping to be silent before Him. This is where the transformation of my heart is at it's greatest with God.
Prayer is such a gift. Praying for our enemies, praying to love those that hurt us or our family or friends, praying for the strength to make it through a storm of difficulties, praying for the light of Jesus to shine through you. Praying for the increase of the fruit of the Spirit. Praying to be released from _______.