Slapped or Kissed?

Would you rather be slapped or kissed? That is not a trick question. It is a question about what type of relationships do you want? Do you want people who actually care about you? Or do you want people in your life who are seemingly nice but really do not care about you and are only in it for what they can get? We need to ask ourselves, what kind of person are we? Do we genuinely care for others? Or are we just nice to people for the purpose of what we can get from them? Are our compliments genuine and sincere or are they filled with flattery for the purpose of manipulation? Sometimes the people who feel and sound safe are actually not. Sometimes the people who rub us the wrong way are actually better for us than the feel good flatterer who is really lying to us to try to manipulate us. Remember iron sharpens iron but never without friction. We need more friction and less flattery if we want to be sharp and on point.

“Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.” (Psalms 141:5 NKJV)

David is welcoming the correction of the righteous. I would rather be slapped by the righteous than stroked by the self seeking. What about you? Do you want real relationships where people love you enough to be honest with you? Learning to respond to correction is essential for our personal growth. People who can’t hear correction position themselves for deception. Someone who is humble has the ability to hear hard things that others would want to avoid, deny or make excuses about.

“Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:5-6 NKJV)

Open rebuke is more beneficial than a deceitful kiss. It’s better to be slapped or wounded by a friend than kissed by an enemy. We need to have courage to develop relationships where there is enough trust for us to be honest. It’s possible to be honest and honorable. The goal is to be able to slap someone with truth and it feel like kindness to them.

Divine Opportunities

Temptation

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” (James 1:13-14 NKJV) Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted of the devil, see Matthew 4 & Luke 4. Jesus had no desires to draw him away into temptation so the Holy Spirit led him to be tempted. Fasting looses the bonds of wickedness, Jesus had none so when he fasted the devil showed up. Where Israel as a nation failed in the wilderness, Jesus their Messiah would not.

When Satan began to speak to Jesus he didn’t introduce himself. Just know when satan speaks to you he won’t introduce himself. Satan questioned Jesus’ identity and spoke to his greatest area of vulnerability. Satan tried to get Jesus to turn stones to bread. The enemy is always trying to get us to prove ourself by preforming for him. The enemy questioned Jesus’ sonship and spoke directly to the felt need of hunger that Jesus was experiencing. The enemy will try to question our identity and speak to our greatest place of vulnerability which is often a felt need. Very often Satan speaks to a felt need in our life, don’t listen to him he is a liar. Remember satan steals from us by lying to us. As believers we must follow Jesus’ example of submitting to God and resisting the devil. When we resist the enemy he will flee from us the same way he did from Jesus. The more we are rooted and grounded in the love of God and the truth of his word the less we will listen to the enemy. The more truth we possess the less temptation is actually tempting. The enemy tried to misuse scripture to make Jesus commit suicide from the church steeple. Suicide is completely satanic. Satan’s agenda is for him to get us to self destruct because he did. Your life has immense value, don’t even consider suicide or self destructive lifestyles. Don’t allow the enemy to misuse the Bible on you. Don’t worship Satan by trying to get what you are after the fast way. Satan wanted Jesus to worship him. In fact satan offered him the keys of the of the kingdom if he would just worship him. Jesus refused. We must refuse. Jesus came for those keys, but he had to die to purchase them. The enemy tries to get us to compromise so that we can get what we want the cheap and fast way. Please remember that there are no shortcuts in the kingdom of God. Jesus taught us to pray, “lead me not into temptation.” That petition to God is about us not desiring things that are destructive for us. My prayer for you is that you would not desire things that are destructive for you.

Adversity

We all experience adversity in this life. Often it is how we respond to it that determines the environment we live in and the direction of our life. Adversity tests how much pressure we can actually take. “If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.” (Proverbs 24:10 NKJV) The level of our strength is determined by how we handle adversity. Do we handle adversity or does it manhandle us? As followers of Jesus our faith should govern our feelings. Jesus said to his disciples that, “we are going to the other side.” When adverse wind and waves came against the boat the disciples were afraid. Although his disciples were afraid Jesus was not afraid. Let’s make it personal. Just because we experience adversity doesn’t mean we have to be anxious. We must not allow adversity to give us anxiety. Scripture tell us “to be anxious for nothing.” When scripture tells us to do something we are then able to obey scripture through the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Helper. He did not come to help us to do our will. The Holy Spirit is here to help us to do God’s will. The Holy Spirit is in believers to help us to obey God’s word. When we obey God’s word we experience God’s power and provision. When others are anxious we can be peaceful. Peace is not the absence of adversity, peace is what we can release to bring change to the adversity that we may be facing. The gospel teaches us that peace was more powerful than the storm. God’s peace is more powerful than the enemy’s storm. Jesus could speak to the storm that he could sleep in. We can’t speak to a storm that we can’t sleep in it. If we can sleep in it we can speak to it. Jesus rebuked the disciples for having fear of something they had authority over. The issue was they didn’t know they had authority over the storm. When we lose our peace and give in to anxiety or fear we surrender our ability to bring kingdom influence to the adversity that we may be facing. Hold on to your peace, because you will need it especially in times of adversity.

Thankful

One day I asked my son, “Justice, what are you thankful for?” When I asked him that he started to name who he is thankful for. He didn’t name things, he named people. He reminded me what really matters. People matter. You matter, I am thankful for you. I am thankful that you stopped by my blog for a quick read. I hope it encourages you. This blog is not about me, it’s for you. I am thankful for the relationships God has allowed me to have. The scriptures teach us that we enter into God’s presence with thanksgiving. The scriptures teach us to live with an attitude of gratitude. We are taught that it’s God’s will that we are always thankful. When we are thankful we live with the correct perspective, we live from God’s presence toward our circumstances.

Jesus was teaching the multitudes for several days. They were hungry and so the disciples wanted to send them away. Jesus commanded the disciples to feed the multitudes. What he commanded them to do was impossible in the natural. They found a boys lunch. The lunch was brought to Jesus, he lifted it to heaven, thanked God for it, blessed it and gave it to his disciples to pass out to the multitudes. There were 5,000 men in attendance not counting women and children. Thankfulness is what opened the door to the impossible and through the obedience of faith the miraculous was manifested. When we are thankful we are inviting God to invade our circumstances with his power and provision. I am thankful that God will finish the work that he began in us. You can be thankful to Jesus and confident in his work in you. What he has began he will complete so don’t quit.

Getting Unstuck 

God is not in control 

Dealing with disappointment 

Committed beyond feelings

There is one common denominator among all successful people and it is this, they are committed beyond feelings. In other words their commitments are more important to them than their feelings. Their convictions about their commitments are stronger than their feelings of inadequacy or insecurity. Most people are more committed to their feelings than they are to their commitments. If you want to be successful at anything, if you want longevity in anything and if you want to leave a legacy to anybody you must be committed beyond your feelings. When you are tired you may feel like quitting, don’t. When you are offended you may feel like leaving, don’t. When you are unnoticed or unappreciated, don’t give up you matter. Anyone can quit, anyone can leave, anyone can complain. But you have the opportunity to be different. Faith (in Jesus) lifts us above our feelings and our circumstances. Faith allows us to live on higher and more solid ground. Faith allows us to live consistently above our feelings. So if you want to get married, stay married, raise children, pay debt, build wealth or have healthy relationships you will have to be committed beyond your feelings. Commit to being committed beyond your feelings in the end you will feel better anyway!

How to Handle Stress

We live in a stressed out society. All you have to do is go to the mall or a rest stop on a major highway, and there is a very high chance that you will see a machine that you put in some change and it will tell you your blood pressure. You put in a little change and the machine basically tells you how much you need to change. The question is not, “do we have stress?” The real question is, “how do we handle stress?” or better yet, “does stress handle us?” Do we live in reaction to everyone, and everything or do we decide how we feel and how we are going to live? Let me be clear how we handle stress will determine how we feel, the relationships that we have and the legacy that we leave. How we handle stress may very well be a deciding factor in both the quality and the quantity of our life.

What we internalize and externalize is a determining factor when it comes to the quality of our lives. Thoughts become feelings, feelings become words, words become actions, actions make habits and our habits determine the environment we live in and the culture we project to the world around us. When we choose to forgive someone we are saying that his or her stupidity and sin can’t live on the inside of us. By not forgiving the only one we hold hostage is ourselves. Recently my wife and I paid about 14,000 USD dollars in debt. We kept the debt on an excel spreadsheet. Why? Because, we chose to take responsibility for our debt. We began to pay our debt, but we did not allow our debt to live in us. It lived in an excel spread sheet inside a Mac Book pro, not inside my wife or I. In other words, we had some stupid debts, stupid debts didn’t have us.

What to Internalize – You internalize something by thinking about it, remembering it and writing it down for the sake of remembering something (but for good.)

What God has said – In his Word (the Bible) or what he has spoken through his people. (Teaching or tested and accurate prophecy.) 

What God does – The testimonies of the Lord. Remember the faithfulness of God in your life.

Success – Remember the successes you have had as a result of your obedience to God.

The counsel or the advice of the wise – Remember when someone corrects you, because correction is protection from both deception and destruction.

What to Externalize – We externalize things by speaking them out, and writing them down. Writing it down in the sense that you recognize there is a problem but you are not giving that problem permission to live inside of you.

Debts – If you have any debts write them down. Assume responsibility for them; formulate a strategy to pay them, but don’t allow the debt or debts to have you.

Debtors – If anyone hurts you don’t wait for them to say they’re sorry to forgive them. If someone owes you money consider canceling the debt.

Temptation – Renounce and reject any destructive desires that you may have. Remember whatever thoughts you don’t take captive will take you captive.

Needs – Write down, speak out and pray about any emotionally and spiritual needs that you may have in your life. (Make sure the needs are appropriate and spoken to a trusted friend. Don’t entrust your secrets to unsafe people.)

Failures – Learn from your failures don’t let them live in you. Just because you failed doesn’t mean you are a failure. Confess your sins to God. Admit when you are wrong.

If you have enjoyed this blog, you can listen to a podcast on – How to Handle Stress by clicking here. The podcast is only 16:40.