To many lessons- but are we learning?

The enemy of the faith – is a know it all. Are we familiar with his ways. He knows Scripture better than most. In these three events the enemy is acknowledged. They are not in order of occurrence. Well known is the time when Satan presented himself to Jesus to test Him in the wilderness. The first we hear of his deceitfulness was when He presented himself to Eve to deceive her and she was deceived. And her husband followed without so much as a “Where did you get that from?” After roaming here and there, the enemy presented himself before God to accuse Job – a righteous man. Do you think he has retreated from deceiving the children of God? Not for a nanosecond.  Do you think he is not above using pastors, and preachers, evangelists, and such? Read Matthew 24.

Daily we may be presented with opportunities to learn about God, to learn how to discern truth, and how to face relationships head on. Sometimes we have to use good judgment and sometimes we have to judge others. And we do it, probably – without even giving it a thought.

True story. When my granddaughter was young I would take her to the mall to play in this indoor playground they had next to Foley’s. The area was somewhat small and enclosed and all the equipment was low so parents could see the children from anywhere. On days when there was a lot of children in the playground I would stand outside along the edge with the other parents. One day, as I was making my way around, I noticed this man, dressed oddly. That’s what stood out about him. He was standing in the distance, leaning against wall of the store in front. He was just staring at the children. He didn’t appear to have a child in the play area. I don’t believe anyone even paid him any mind. When I caught him staring at my granddaughter – I freaked. I didn’t like the way he was eyeing her. As any parent/grandparent might do – I acknowledged this man as a child predator. I passed judgment on this man. I took my granddaughter out and left the mall and never took her back there again. To me that was the right thing to do. The man was a potential danger to my child. I was not going to remain there. Was he a child predator? I didn’t know, but I knew I didn’t want to find out. I went with my gut instinct. Was it the Holy Spirit prompting? I believe so. So…

The temptation of Jesus:
Luke 4:9-12 (NKJV)
“Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” – There’s more to the story… read it.

Beguiled into eating:
Eve was deceived with a simple phrase…”Did God really say…”

Remembering Job:
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” Job 1:1

(NKJV) Matthew 10:24-26 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

The Scriptures tell us not to judge… but a closer reading of the text – it’s really a warning not to judge others for the sins you yourself are guilty of committing. For instance, how can a man that lusts after a woman, or flirts with a woman judge a man who commits adultery? How can the manager of a business tell his employees to show no favoritism when he himself plays favorites? How can a mother tell her daughter not to dress provocatively when her dress is always in question by others? There is no gradation for sin.

Matthew 5:28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

How familiar are we with the phrase “Do as I say (not as I do!)” Somewhere between here and there it became an acceptable (cross) cultural more, but honestly, as adults – it was always acceptable.

It was a means of training children to do what was right, or as we asked – vs – them learning from what we did, or how we lived, e.g. You are to young to drink, smoke and what not! Interpretation: It’s OK to do it, just now while you are young, or don’t get caught.

Personal experience has proven to me that parents that drink daily, or are alcoholic, raise adult children that drink excessively. These adult children have serious drinking problems, may deal with alcoholism, or have died from the effects of excessive drinking, etc. and may have all sorts of relationship issues. That’s what the research shows and it’s been my experience, as I said. It doesn’t have to be true in every case.

Through years of researching childhood issues, and perhaps our own experiences we have learned that – that old phrase “Do as I say (not as I do!) does not work. We are either good examples, or we are not. But this is not about parenting either. Do others learn-can they learn-will they learn from good examples-is a different story. When we talk about vicarious learning – is it possible to learn from the experiences of others? I know I have learned from listening and observing the experiences of others and I avoided some serious pitfalls, especially in relationships.

When it comes to facing judgment – most Christians avoid it. I have heard many a Christian rationalize their immoral behaviors. I can hear my thoughts swirling when I feel justified in rationalizing a behavior, but then God brings me back to Him. I get a chuckle. Why do we rationalize? Because no one (believer or unbeliever) wants to be judged. Because – who is the accuser of the brethren? Right! But the Spirit of God convicts us when we have sinned against God. So, if we are not right with God, how well can we discern the difference?

Does not sin begin with a thought that leads to an act of sin. And we will be judge for every deed, even those done in secret (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

And don’t we know that the body of Christ is us – the people that believe in Christ and everything that it encompasses? And these preachers, and pastors that have been appointed to watch over the flock – again that’s us – what example are they setting? Are they rightly dividing the word of God? Are they using the word of God for their own gain? Are they becoming richer while you are waiting for the windows of heaven to open up and pour out an abundance of blessings? How can you be sure the man on the pulpit is called of God? Does he get/buy his sermons online? Do you read your Bible? Do you take your Bible to church, follow along – search the Scriptures, or do you take the word of the man on the pulpit? Do you know the man personally? Have you been to his house? Has he even invited you to his house? 

2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

The reason Christians will not judge is not because they can’t. It’s because they can never measure up to Jesus. And judging others leaves Christians wide open for others to judge them. And who wants that?

Matthew 7:1-3 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

Romans 2:2-3 “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?

I don’t know about you, but I know and have known women of questionable character that teach other women, and we give them the benefit of doubt. This one particular woman in ministry, uses her story story of survival. I sat under her teachings for a while – until I couldn’t, because I knew her story. And she was also getting into teaching about things that were totally contrary to God’s word. That’s another story, but she was physically and mentally abused by her husband’s for many years. And it took her a long time to realize she had to leave. It’s great when women can share their stories. It inspires other women to share and get help if need be.

In this case, the abuse part is true. And it’s a long story. The point I want to get at – is the “how” she got into the abusive relationship, which she fails to mention in her narrative. And as I see it, it’s important to know how women, and men get themselves trapped in abusive relationships. There’s a lesson in that…

As women we enter into relationships hoping for a great romance. Sometimes, it’s not what we expected. Other times its more than we expected. Unfortunately, there are times when the new girlfriend/boyfriend or, Mr. (or Mrs) turns out to be a nightmare. It may be weeks, months or years, but – when he gets comfortable enough to expose his true nature – he will transform. You will know when you turn that corner. So, is there any perfect way for a woman of God to seek a monogamous relationship that can have a happy ending? Of course and that may look different for all women. But let it be known, ring the town bell – specifically for all Christian women (seeking a godly relationship) – God will never send you a married man as a potential partner, while he is married to another woman. If you are a married woman in an unhappy relationship (or not) – God will not send you a married man to rescue you from your unhappy marriage, or to put a spark in your love life.  We know what that’s called. God will never send a woman, a man that all he wants to do is get it on. That’s a given. 

Well, let me go back to the story of this woman in ministry. This was a few years ago. I would sit and listen to her story about her violent relationship with her husband. It was rather disturbing as is all DV. I have to admit I wanted to hear her talk about what she had learned from her experience with her husband – from beginning to end. For her, the beginning was the abuse, but I knew better.

At the time, I had been divorced for years and was waiting on God to bless me with a husband. Yes. Really. Well, God delayed. But, in listening to this woman share her story of abuse, I knew one thing. And here was the moral of the story.

God will not send a married woman (or a single one for that matter) a married man (especially the pastor of a congregation of which the woman might be a member) to have an affair with – for any number of years; though the two proclaim an undying love to each other; to bear his children, while he does all sorts of perverted things to other young women; to put the woman in an adulterous relationship, subsequently have the woman pass the man’s newborns as her husbands; All the while as the man (pastor) beats his wife daily, a fact the woman is made aware of; to know that the man also abuses his children; then with fervor watch the man lead his flock, preaching, prayer and all that other pastor stuff. Honestly, would you expect a good outcome here? The story is a long one and I might have shared it before. I would have to look through old posts. Anyway, I will tell you, there was no happy ending for the adulterous couple. And the sad part about this story – is that it takes place in many churches today – whether or not we are aware of it – or acknowledge it. It’s happening. So what does Scripture say about all that? Yes. Grace – it’s all about grace.

I was reading about this woman Anne Hutchinson that lived during the early settling of this country. She was very charismatic, to the point of challenging the local clergy, much to their dismay. Anyway, she was teaching that grace was more important than works. Her idea that one’s outward behavior was not necessarily tied to the state of one’s soul became attractive to, of course, those that were more into their habits than living for God. Anyway, I thought that was interesting. Isn’t that how we often use grace?

What’s the lesson? Is it obvious? Can we as Christian women learn from the experiences of others when it comes to relationships? Yes. Can we still get ourselves entangled in such predicaments? Yes. So, how do we avoid them? Do you see how there is so much to learn here? I always tell my children and now grandchildren that nightmares come in high heels (stilettos) and Armani suits.

We can get trapped in all sorts of bad relationships. Does anyone remember Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, David Koresh? Their followers were sold out to their church leadership.

Romans 2:5-6 “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”…

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

Psalm 32:3-5 “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Lamentations 3:40 “Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.”

Ezekiel 18:27-28 “Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. “Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.”

Haggai 1:5-7 “Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways! “You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.” Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways!”

1 Corinthians 11:27-31 “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.read more.

1 Corinthians 11:28 “But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

Job 13:23 “How many are my iniquities and sins? Make known to me my rebellion and my sin.”

1 John 3:20-21″For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

There is much we can learn about the things of God – living for God – recognizing God – recognizing the enemy. But we have to start by opening the word of God – the Bible.

1 John 4 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world…”

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