"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7. "Nothing can stop God's plan for your life." Isaiah 14:27. "Still, it was a sad state of the world that people judged others not by the best that they could be but by the worst thought in their own hearts." Elizabeth Hoyt.
Everyday that I open my eyes to see a new day, I realize that I am a recipient of God's love, grace, mercy and faithfulness, and I give Him praise. I have not earned the privilege of being given another day; it's just that He lovingly permitted my "golden moments" to roll on a little longer. As is normal, many of us have taken note that life does not always move along swimmingly or even according to our plans. Usually, this is because of our own shortcomings or the interference of other people. I am a retired educator after more than thirty (30) years of service in the NYC public schools. Many of my colleagues and I used to lament that we could really do a super job of educating young people (students) were it not for the "meddling influence" of those who believed that they knew more about the children we were trying to educate. And, oftentimes these influencers had the ear of the those decision makers who changed policies based on the thinking of outsiders. Regardless, this did not stop us dedicated to the task of educating from doing our best, which I believe made a tremendous difference.
This is not popular to say, but I also believe that there was and still is a body of people like myself who believe in the power of prayer. We prayed hard and worked hard (in the schools that I worked in). This can be a successful formula, but it is not foolproof. Why? Because we are not perfect; all who can cooperate are not always completely on board, we have inconsistencies in our efforts, and then there are the naysayers who can wear you down with their negativity, etc.
My point with this writing is that you will not always have people cheering you on. You will have to know the center of your strength and run there when you need to replenish. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1. We live in a fallen world ; and even when you are as good as you think you can be, you can still run into obstacles. Never mind when you do not measure up in the eyes of others. Being able to turn to or rely on the source your strength will fortify you and empower you to keep moving forward. In my experience, you can be caught doing good or bad and the outcome is the same at times. Let me hasten to say that it is highly probable that you sometimes you will be found wanting. But, far often, your good can be devalued or even ignored. But, if God is the source of your strength, do not fret; it will be alright. There is no need to seek revenge or even to take offense to the degree that you step out of your character. The Lord can fix it for you.
"Woman, where are your accusers?" Jesus asked this of the woman caught in the act of adultery. "Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, "Where are your accusers?" "Didn't even one of them condemn you?" John 8:10. You see, the people wanted to stone her to death (mind you, they did not present the man she was caught with for stoning. Certainly, she did not commit adultery by herself). Yet, they brought her alone to be dealt with. They were, however, stopped in their tracks by one short and simple statement (or maybe it could be considered a polite command) that Jesus made: "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her." John 8:7.
We can all admit that we are not perfect, but we are quick to add that we are not as bad as whoever. "Don't judge others because they sin differently than you do." Anonymous. Many of us have forgotten how we used to be and what we used to do. Maybe we pretend that we have always done the right thing because we did not get caught. It does not matter; we have all sinned and fall short. Man may write you off. However, our God is the God of another chance. He does not seek to condemn, but to forgive. "Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." Isaiah 1:18. We are not equipped to throw stones. "As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one." Romans 3:10. This is why God sent His son to give His life as a ransom for mankind so that we could be reconciled to God. "All of us have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." Isaiah 64:6. Remember this when others treat you as though they have a lock on being good, and you don't measure up; we are all sinners saved by God's grace. "Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled as we are." Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Jesus's response to the woman caught in adultery was uplifting, filled with mercy and compassion. He did not offer condemnation, shunning, shaming, etc. Rather, he offered love and forgiveness. He also did not condone her behavior. How do we know? Listen to His response to her when she answered His question about where were her accusers? "No one Lord." She answered. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Now go and sin no more." John 8:11. She was caught dead to right, but Jesus showed her love and forgiveness. This response was enough to bring about a change in her life and her future behavior. Love does conquer all. We should all try very hard to follow Jesus's example, especially those of us who profess to be followers of Christ and those of us who want to treat others the way we want to be treated. We all want and need mercy, let us practice it.
"All that the Father gives me will come to me, whoever comes to me, I will never cast out." John 6:37. When you are being rejected, know that is not of Christ. Look to Him who loves you when accessing your worth. Man is not here to judge and is in no position to do so. God is the supreme judge of all. He and He alone has the right and the power. He cannot err. He is absolute righteousness and cannot do injustice. One day we will all stand before Him. But, in the meantime, let's live by His word. If you are tempted to judge, start with you. Matthew 7:3-5.
"Before you assume, learn the facts. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think." Anonymous. This is good advice for all of us.
Watch the company you keep. My grandmother used to admonish me and my siblings to chose carefully the people we hung around and/or those we became friends with. Of course, we thought she was overly suspicious. All of her warnings had a ring of overkill. Like, "every shut eye ain't sleep, every goodbye ain't gone." I used to think, what in the world is this lady talking about? Suffice it to say, now I understand. She was trying to say that there will be people in your inner circle that do not wish or mean you well. Be careful who you pull into your confidence. Ponder on this a while and you will get her drift too.
Backstabbers go both ways. Let me explain. I had a great supervisor who told me not to worry so much about people who will betray you behind your back. He said you should expect them. He said that it is the one that stabs you in the front (like those people in a meeting that will steal your idea while you are in the middle of making a presentation). You know the type. After being a supervisor for a while, I got over being naïve and was on alert for the front stabbers. Sad to say this can happen even with people you consider close friends. Be on alert and stop providing ammunition.
Trust God. He cares for you. Not only that, He can keep a secret. Sometimes we just want to spill our guts to get free of what we are going through. Tell Jesus. You will never have to hear what you shared with Him from anyone else. Not only that, He can help you. Believe me I know from personal experience. I can testify that He is a heart fixer and a mind regulator. He holds my confidence and is with me and sharing my burdens and in many instances has carried me through. I give you my word on this. Trust Him. People mean well, but they are only human.
God's grace is sufficient. You can recover from those who try to crush your spirit or worse. Not only is your down time measured, but your recovery is sure when your faith and trust is in God. In Him, we have the victory. Claim it. Know that God has a plan for your life and another human being is not going to change that no matter what. Pray to stay in His will and on the path He designed for your life, and you will not be moved. Start shouting! You win!
Do not take everything to heart. You should not crumble or throw a pity party because someone says something negative about you. Do not let it paralyze you. Turn it over to the Lord and leave the consequences to Him. (The late Dr. Charles Stanley). People talked about Jesus. They even killed Him. Search the scriptures for yourself and follow God's word. Sometimes people believe they are being helpful when they point out your flaws. (Remember Job's well meaning friends?). Sometimes they may even have a point. Thank them and go to God in prayer. He can help you make changes to your life if that is what is needed. God knows all about you, and He still loves you. Stay prayed up.
Forgive. After all, we are just dust. No one is better than the other. The ground is level at the cross. Repent (confess your sin/s) and ask God for forgiveness when you need to, and determine that you will endeavor to not repeat the behavior. Stand on the word of God. You will always be on sure footing.
This life is a journey and there is a final destination. Let the Lord lead you. He will direct your path to His planned destination. "I will instruct and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Psalm 32:8. God bless you!!
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Tribute to the Life of Dr. Charles F. Stanley (September 25, 1932- April 18, 2023)
Thank you Dr. Stanley for being a humble, dedicated and faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your commitment to preaching and teaching the word of God, sharing and living out your faith over the many decades has inspired millions worldwide and has led many to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. You have left a loving and rich legacy of faith and a roadmap to eternity with God. We have been blessed by your life, and we thank God for you having come this way. We continue to blessed by your preaching, teaching, books and resources, etc. You are home at last. Absent from the body means to be present with the Lord. Enjoy what God has prepared for you in Heaven! You will be missed, but we know that you are in the presence of our Lord and Savior, and for this, we rejoice!