(I Peter 3:9) 9 not rendering evil for evil, or insult for insult; but instead blessing; knowing that to this were you called, that you may inherit a blessing
Good Evening! Tonight you will notice I started with a verse and yes, there is a reason. I came upon this verse last night while Michelle and I were doing our Bible study and it really spoke to me. I'll let you in on why in a moment, but first I want to ask you: What does this verse say to you? What does it mean? How do you bear it when people persecute you?
Well, here's my take from recent events in my life. I could rightfully (in the eyes of this world) lash back at those who continually question my character, throw stones, and beat me down with their actions, suppositions, and hate. After what I've endured, nobody would question me repaying their evil for evil and reacting instead of praying. In fact, many have questioned me: Why don't you defend yourself? How do you let them say that about you? Why don't you speak your mind? Why don't you set them straight?
Truth be told I've really, really wanted to. I've really wanted to point our the failures of those that have wronged me. I've wanted to hurt them in the same way their judgment and lies have hurt me or those that I love. I've wanted to expose them for what they are so that they can face the same pain that I've felt. But, I haven't. I've somehow been able to restrain myself from falling into the trap. A major part of that is relying on many of you. You have allowed me to "vent" and given me perspective that my infantile brain couldn't fathom. You have provided me the "Truth" through your references to Bible Verses and examples of steadfast faith. You have been extensions of Jesus and for that I'm extremely grateful.
I know that the "Stone Throwers" are still and will always be at work in my life and yours. Actually I anticipate the next move from these extensions of Satan is right around the corner. I'm just glad that I have all of you to support me so that I can follow through with the instructions from the verse above. Its no accident that God has provided us to support each other in these times. Its no accident that we are here to lift each other up and provide unconditional love. Its God's perfect plan.
Tonight I want you to pray over your "Stone Throwers". They may be family members, friends, coworkers, or complete strangers. They may be very aware of the stones they are casting or may be oblivious to how they are hurting you. Pray for them. Pray for you. Pray over the verse above so that their actions don't keep you from experiencing the full richness of the Kingdom. And, finally stand strong my Brothers and Sisters. You know who you are in Christ and that's all that really matters.
One of my most hated phrases lately is "Well, perception is reality you know." This jaded reality could be that you are scheming to do something spiteful, being a bad parent, being a bad friend, being a bad sibling, being a hypocrite... get the picture? Don't let the "Stone Throwers" dictate the truth or trick you into believing these lies. We are children of God and as long as we keep our focus on Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to drive our lives we will never truly fail. Soon their "reality" will be seen for what it truly is and that is the work of the Devil. And, the Good News is that we will rise above as long as we are diligent.
Tonight Brothers and Sisters I pledge to pray for your "stone throwers" and I ask you to do the same for me because together as a Family of Believers We Can Bear It! Love and Peace to you through our Risen Savior,