Wednesday, April 24, 2013

turn that cheek & harvest righteousness & peace

As I continue to put myself "out there" for The Devoted Woman, I find that Satan has ordered a full-on personal assault against me in opposition against our ministry. Because of this, I have grown accustom to people (and organizations) attacking my character in some form or another. I receive emails, letters and posts just about every day criticizing and questioning my actions, my beliefs, my family, my choices, my past, my appearance, my openness, my privacy, my likes, my dislikes, how I worded something, how I didn't word something... even my dog (ha ha - really!). The saddest comments are the nasty and judgmental slams that emerge from those who claim to be fellow Christians. Strangely enough, they don't want me to share how God is the first priority in my life as frequently as I do. Wait... what? Of this request, I am always amazed.

Thankfully, I have learned that at the center of such cruelty roars an enemy ready to attack by attempting to shame me and silence my voice for Jesus. The Lord has shown me that it is not actually "me" that Satan is after... but God Himself. Believe me when I tell you, learning to praise Jesus name - while others are determined to drag your own name through the mud because you praise Jesus name - has been a very difficult but necessary lesson for me to grow closer and more reliant upon my King. It has allowed me to frequently assess my heart's desire to please and seek my Savior... and ONLY my Savior. For this, I am grateful and content in my position to serve and trust Him alone.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)

Shame is something we all experience when we have been declared deficient in some way by either ourselves or by others. Whether a result of our own sin or a result of someone else's abuse, we must all be prepared to deal with shame as a very real component in our lives. The key, of course, is to deal with it biblically. For if left unchecked, shame is capable of leaving any one of us paralyzed and ineffective to live fully in Christ and share His message of grace and redemption.

When our shame is the result of our own wrong doing, God uses our guilt to motivate us to seek reconciliation with Him (and others) through confessing our sin. Then we are able to thankfully move forward in His forgiveness and grace. However, when our shame exists due to someone else's abuse or wrongful accusation, it seems more difficult to overcome because we have done no wrong. When this occurs, Jesus gives us the answer in how to respond to shame that is clearly the result of someone else's sin against God.

When Christ was hung for dead on the cross, He was sentenced as a criminal and put to shame by all mankind. He was humiliated publicly and cruelly forsaken by most of His followers. He was declared deficient. However, by His own actions, Jesus shows us that when such shame occurs, we are to endure the hardship in His name and scorn the shame.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

God wants us to spend very little time reflecting on shame when someone else has wronged us. For dwelling on such shame can stifle our spiritual growth. Rather, we are to focus on something more important than the wrongful humiliation directed against us at the hand of another... we are to focus on God's kingdom and His glory! Instead of allowing our anger to fester over our treatment... instead of repeatedly highlighting our abuse, Christ teaches us that we are to respond in a way that glorifies The Father. We are to love our accusers, our tormentors, our abusers while standing strong against their sin. We are to love them and glorify God. This is what Jesus did. He scorned the shame of the cross... He despised it... He stood against the sin of those against Him. But then, He spoke up in love for the sake of those causing His pain. He cried out to the Almighty Father, "Forgive them," and loved us in spite of our rebellion.

Mankind spat in the face of the King of kings, and He endured it. Jesus outright chose to love us more than His own life. Because of this, those who believe in Him and follow His way have the promise of eternity!!! This sacrificial discipline is the example we are to follow in our own lives. According to the writer of Hebrews, such discipline will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 2:7-13)

Ladies, I cannot possibly know all your situations and circumstances personally, nor can you know mine. However, I do know that many of us have been plagued (in one form or another) with unwarranted shame and cruelty that has been brought on by the assault of another person (or group). Some of us have dealt with childhood abuse. Some of us have been a sexual victim. Some of us have been verbally dragged through the mud and left for dead emotionally. Some of us have been judged unfairly and measured by legalistic hypocrites. No matter what has happened or where our shame has originated from, please hear me on this: We have little control over the circumstances in our lives. However, we are accountable to God in how we respond to the events that affect us. Overcoming anger and bitterness and "turning a cheek" to those who have done us wrong can only be accomplished when we give everything completely over to God, trusting our Heavenly Father to govern all things to work toward His ultimate good.

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:27-36)

Let's submit our whole lives over to God's sovereign control - even the deficiencies that others may bring against us. Let's allow Jesus to strengthen our arms and knees to fight past any spiritual enslavement due to anger or emotional bruising. Let's mirror our Savior's way and scorn all shame while banking on our Redeemer's love and protection. Most importantly, in all circumstances, let's share the good news of Heaven until that blessed day when we exhale our last breath and enter into His gates with thanksgiving... into His courts with praise!

Turn that cheek, DW, and harvest His righteousness and peace! He is in control, and one day He will be glorified by the bowing of every knee and the confession of every tongue. Believe it. Share it. Give it. Live it!

Blessings!

~Victoria

8 comments:

  1. Amen! I really needed to hear this! Thank you so much and God Bless!

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  2. Excellant article written Biblicly with a heart for God! You remind me of a beloved Bible teacher from years past.Continue to stand firm! You will be covered in prayer as you continue on your journey!Keep writing as God is using your writing to change hearts and lives!

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  3. Thanks so much for the encouragement! It's nice to hear! XOXOXOXO
    God Bless YOU!!!

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  4. can u pray for my sons spiritually to not be decieved into believing a cult please thanks

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  5. God bless you. I have experienced the same type of attacks, as many of your readers probably have, and appreciate your words of wisdom in dealing with this type of attack. Press on, Sister, and know that I will be praying for covering for you. I am blessed by your site.

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  6. Lately I have felt called to step out of my comfort zone where I have hidden for a couple of years, to serve in the church with the youth (high school...God love 'em!) and in the coffee shop. I have not been personally attacked by people, but my finances have gone bezerk as has the feeling of oppression. It didn't strike me until this past Thursday what was going on because I'm not like that usually. Thre are other things, but most of all I wanted to tell you thank you for posting this and being open about your faith! Keep fighting the good fight, Sister!

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  7. Great article! Surely the attacks will come and you are absolutely right, Satan is after God, if he can get us down he knows it hurts God! We are the apple of his eye!! Thank you for being a blessing!

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  8. Thank you for posting DW. As someone that has been through much accusation and attack the last 6 months for something I know nothing about, this penetrated my heart so deeply to know that there are others sisters in Christ out there experiencing the same. What is unbelievable is that it is DW. Carry on sisters with the Word of the Lord.

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