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 

The Pressure Relief Valve of Prayer

Perspective is Everything 

Our perspective is what we perceive about reality. The cold hard truth about that is either we are correct or we are deceived. Our perspective is where we operate from. Our perspective determines how we relate to others, ourselves and our circumstances.

Jesus of Nazareth, according to the scriptures, was the rightful heir to the throne of King David. Although Jesus was not a citizen of Rome he did pay taxes. Even though he paid taxes he did not receive a fair trial. The Roman guards came to get Jesus at night when he was out of the sight of the masses. There was nothing just about his trial or his sentence. Not only was he the rightful heir to the throne of David, he was completely innocent. While he was hanging on a cross one of the men hanging next to him looked at Jesus and said, “Lord remember me in your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42). The perspective of that man was correct. Although Jesus was in the same circumstances as him, he knew that he was guilty and that Jesus was innocent. He looked at a naked Nazarene and saw a king. This same man knew that he deserved to be on the cross. He assumed responsibility for his actions. He acknowledged Jesus as Lord and that acknowledgement gave him access to paradise.

The other thief did not have the right perspective. He said to Jesus, “If you are the Christ save yourself and us.” (Luke 23:39). This thief looked at Jesus and did not see a savior or a king. This thief failed to understand that he was not a victim of Rome, he failed to take responsibility for his actions, and he failed to see who Jesus really was. Perspective is everything. If we want to see reality correctly we must first assume responsibility for our actions. Second, we must acknowledge our need for Jesus. Third, we must ask him, in prayer, to have mercy on us and remember us in his Kingdom.

Overcoming Emotionalism

Choices are more powerful than feelings.

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:25-33 NKJV) 

My emphasis will be on the words that are bold. Here Jesus is talking about the cost of discipleship. If you read the gospels carefully you will find that Jesus never looked for half hearted followers. He was always looking for the totally committed, those who would be fully given. Often people make decisions based out of emotions. Which means they make commitments they don’t intend to keep. We have all done this at one time or another. It is crucial to know that we can overcome our feelings with faith that is rooted in the truth.

Jesus uses two illustrations that make his point clear.

  1. You don’t build a tower that you don’t have enough money to finish. That is not faith its presumption. Presumption is usually rooted in selfish ambition. We should not make decisions based out of ambition because the decisions will always be unrealistic. The emotion of ambition will not lead you into a decision, it will lead you into a disaster. The fruit of that disaster will be shame. Don’t let ambition decide your trajectory, let faith decide your capacity and let integrity chart your course.
  2. You don’t start a fight you can’t win. Anger causes people to start fights they can’t win. We need to check ourselves before we make a decision from a place of anger. Anger will cause you to get into things you may not walk away from.

To make it clear we need to count the cost of our commitments before we make them. It is critical that we don’t make decisions or commitments based out of emotions when we haven’t counted the cost. Ambition and Anger can cause us to commit to building something we can’t finish or fight a battle we can’t win. Counting the cost is actually what helps us prepare to pay the price. Similar to stretching before you exercise. When we prepare ourselves we are actually positioning ourselves to succeed.