Falsely Accused

by Cynthia L. Simmons @CynthiaLSimmons

I didn’t want the pastor to see my face while he preached, so I positioned myself behind someone to block his view. But even without seeing his face, I still felt betrayed. I’d always believed God ordained preachers and guided the things they said. In this situation, the pastor failed.

Every Sunday, while taking sermon notes in the church bulletin, I’d usually write across the top of the page, “It’s the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

In that terrible moment, I looked at those words to remind myself of my motives in service and knew they were the truth. I wanted to please God, yet the minister was not only publicly condemning my actions but my thoughts and motives as well.

In that church, my husband and I taught Sunday school with all our hearts, and on occasion, my husband filled the pulpit. God was using us to touch hearts. Apparently, that threatened the minister. Perhaps if we took out the trash and changed diapers in the nursery, he might not think we were after his job? He accused us of arrogance and said we thought awful things about him while he preached, like he could read our minds.

The first time I heard those accusations, I cried all night.

Was he in the right to be judging us? After all, Luke 6:37 says “Judge not, that you not be judged.” However, at times God does tell us to judge. Paul’s first letter to the believers at Corinth was written in part to address sin that was going unchallenged in that church. A man committed adultery with his father’s wife, and the church ignored it. In arrogance, rather than mourning the sin, they refused to address it.

Paul unequivocally identified the man’s behavior as sin and told the church to do the same. He was to be put out of fellowship until a time when he humbled himself before God. If someone violates Scripture, you can call it sin because God already did. Paul knew it would have been damaging to both the man, his mistress, and the entire church body to allow him to continue. By doing so, they were actually enabling it.

However, trying to discern motives and thoughts is a lot trickier. Paul didn’t accuse the man of a motive (like saying he committed adultery in order to disgrace his father)—he knew only God can know the heart. In fact, in chapter four of the same book, Paul had warned the Corinthians: “…do not go on passing judgement before the time and wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts…” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NASB). That last phrase makes a big difference. Only God knows our thoughts and motives and can judge whether they are evil or good

We decided to respond to the accusations by humbling ourselves before the Lord. We confessed everything we could think of that might have caused offense, including any secret pride. A passage in Hebrews brought us great comfort, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NASB). For whatever we may have contributed to the situation, we placed our confidence in the mercy and grace of God.

Why could we be so confident? Because of what the verse proceeding Hebrews 4:16 said. “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NASB). There is nothing we can go through that Jesus has not experienced Himself. He was falsely accused and convicted of a sin He never committed: insurrection of the Roman Empire. It was all a big lie, styled to give the Romans a reason to crucify Him. What was the religious leaders’ motive? “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (John 11:48 NASB). Pride led to false accusation. Jesus has been there.

In our greatest heartaches, He has already traveled down that road. He can sympathize with us like no other. We can trust Him to deal justly with false accusation in the end. He will always stand for truth.

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Falsely Accused – encouragement from @CynthiaLSimmons on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Cynthia-Simmons-5About the author: Former home school mother of five, Cynthia has a special spot in her heart for young moms and loves to encourage all women to pursue God. She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio, and writes inspirational fiction and non-fiction.  Find her at www.clsimmons.com.

Join the conversation: How do you deal with an injustice when it happens to you?

Halloween Candy—On Sale This Week!

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

Halloween candy goes on sale this week. But before you snatch up your favorites, beware of the monster you may unleash.

We’ve given Eve a hard time for eating the forbidden fruit, but if it smelled like chocolate, I understand.

Somebody knew women who like china also love chocolate and placed my favorite bar among the housewares where I was shopping. I picked up the 14.1-ounce Swiss Toblerone bar and remembered its smooth taste. “Shall I buy it for you?” my friend asked.

“Absolutely not!” I dropped it and walked away, but temptation had taken root. I ambled back to look at the fat grams, 12 grams per serving. Ridiculous. Who eats only one serving? Again, I walked away.

I discovered this particular chocolate on a mission trip in Europe. The music of the Alps played through my mind. In those days, you couldn’t find Toblerone bars in America. I could save it for when I really wanted chocolate.

The check-out clerk said he had never seen such a big chocolate bar. Good, it must be fresh.

Now that chocolate bar torments me day and night. One serving is just a tease for me.

I know how chocolate works. Like a sponge that begins the size of a flat dollar bill and puffs up in water to the size of a walrus, every gram of Chocolate fat expands into ten pounds of human fat. If someone can figure out how to pack a thousand photographs into a thumb drive, you’d think they could keep cocoa fat from expanding your hips.

Wrestling with chocolate reminded me of how powerful and deceitful temptation can be. Once you open the door to a temptation, it’s hard to resist doing more of the same.

How do we protect ourselves from destructive attractions? Consider the following.

Temptations are common to everyone. Whether we’re enticed by unwise relationships, rich foods, or over-spending, this world offers many deadly hooks (1 Corinthians 10:13). Even Jesus was tempted, but He never succumbed. Now He stands ready to help us resist.

Temptations lie to us. The Bible calls them “deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22 NIV). They make promises they can’t keep. The guy at work promises excitement and love but delivers heartache. Rich foods make our taste buds dance, but too many of them compromise our health.

Temptations promise you’ll get away with it. One time won’t hurt. You’re smart enough to know when to quit. But the Bible warns sin is destructive and addictive (James 1:15, John 8:34).

God wants us to enjoy His good gifts. But indulging every whim makes us slaves to our passions and deadens our spiritual senses (Romans 6:16). Saying no to ourselves may be the most liberating thing we do.

When we wrestle with an attraction to what we know will harm us, we need to consider the implied promise behind the pull to go against our better judgment. What is the more likely outcome?

The good news: we will not struggle with temptation in eternity. Neil Anderson once said that heaven will be a place with no bad options. But until we get there, we have a High Priest who is able to rescue us from temptation and restore us when we fall.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV

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Halloween Candy—On Sale This Week! Thoughts on wrestle with temptation from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What kind of temptations are hardest for you to resist?

When Life Hurts

by Monica Schmelter @MonicaSchmelter

I get lots of calls, letters, and emails requesting prayer.

Each request is different.  Some requests just really stand out.  One of them was “Frieda” who asked for prayer. After 16 years of marriage, her husband wanted out.  He’d met another woman online. He felt “alive” with the other woman and wanted a new life.

Frieda’s case is especially complicated: her husband was a pastor. She had worked by his side for years, supporting his ministry and raising their children. But despite her tears and prayers, the marriage ended.

Why such needless suffering? The events brought pain not only to Frieda and her children, but to their former congregation. With more questions than answers, they did their best to move forward, but the profound sense of loss and suffering persisted.

When it comes to suffering, there are no easy or pat answers. However, when life hurts, we can trust His Word. It assures us of His promises, purpose in our lives, and offers godly perspective.

 God’s Promises

What a comfort it is to know He stands ready to help! He says we can come to Him in total honesty and receive mercy and grace when we need it most. Hebrews tells us that Jesus the High Priest “understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us in our time of need” (4:15-16 NLT).

God’s Purposes

God will use suffering to accomplish great things in our lives. Suffering has a way of helping us to realize just how helpless we really are. And as we cry out to God in our pain, He will use that moment to draw us into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Him. we are in a good position to go deeper in our trust of Him. He will also use suffering to develop and transform us into the image of Jesus Christ. And make us a better reflection of who He is to the world around us. As we trust and obey Christ amid suffering, He will accomplish great things in our lives.

God’s purposes in our lives are accomplished as we yield to Him in our pain. Hebrews tells us that even Jesus was perfected through suffering: “For it was fitting for Him…to bring many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10 NASB).

God’s Perspective

While it may seem like an eternity as we struggle through pain, we can know that it will not last forever. God’s eternal perspective is a comfort, as well as giving us hope that one day everything will be made right. Our earthly life may be limited, but life beyond the grave will be forever.

As Paul wrote: “That is why we never give up. Thought our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT).

If you are in a season of suffering, take some time right now to reflect on God’s Promises, Purposes, and Perspective. Allow His Word to encourage you and fill your heart with hope. You can trust Him to use your right now for good.

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Getting through a season when life hurts – insight from @MonicaSchmelter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

monicaheadshot (1)Monica Schmelter is host of the daily television show Bridges on Christian Television Network. In her spare time, she searches for delicious and decadent calorie free chocolate. You can find out more about her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.