Return on Investment

Return on Investment

By Jayson Tucker


Matthew chapter 25

Jesus continues to discuss what the kingdom of heaven is with the disciples. He uses the parable of the talents for this illustration.

After a long time the Lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His Lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
Matthew 25:19‭-‬21 KJV

God expects a return on his investment. In this parable there are three servants. One recieved only one talent and went and hid it instead of growing it. This servant is very similar to those who get saved but then don’t share that gift with others. Instead of helping to lead others to Christ they just bury it within themselves. Whether you blessed with five talents, two talents, or one God is waiting for you to grow his investment. Be profitable.

Have a great day.

The Faithful Servant

The Faithful Servant

By Jayson Tucker


Matthew chapter 24

The disciples asked Jesus of the end times and Christ’s return. Jesus tells them of signs that will indicate the end is near however, it is not for man to know.

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 24:45‭-‬51 KJV

We know Christ is coming back and that should be sufficient for us to do as we should. Otherwise we would be as the wicked servant who does as he pleases because he thinks he has plenty of time. I pray therefore that we be counted among the good and faithful servants who are diligent in the work given us by God. That we conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to God.

Have a great day.

Humility

Humility

Matthew chapter 18

The disciples came and inquired of Jesus who is the greatest in Heaven. The obvious answer is God, however that isn’t what they were really asking. So Jesus brought forth a little child.

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3‭-‬4 KJV

What they really wanted to know was how comparable they were to the greatest such that they could glory in themselves. This is why Jesus brought forth the child. We must not think of ourselves greater than another. Our works are not scoreboards of our accomplishments. Our thoughts are to be humble and our works are to be out of a genuine desire to help others.

Have a great day.

Written By Bro. Jayson Tucker

Dealing with Difficult People

Devotion written by Jaime Sicairos

1Th 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

Dealing with Difficult People:

Everyone probably knows someone that causes joy when they walk into the room and yet we all probably know someone that causes joy when they walk out of the room. I really am just trying to be transparent in the matter than none of us particularly enjoy dealing with difficult people. Just because we don’t like it does not change our Christian responsibility to still deal with them with compassion and grace. In fact, there is much in the scriptures that teach us how to deal with difficult people. Let me share a few highlights with you.

  1. Consider yourself-

Before we ask, “What’s their problem?” Let us first ask, “What is my problem?” Did you ever consider that maybe it seems that someone is being difficult because we have done something knowingly or unknowingly to offend them? Have you been gracious to them? How has your speech and attitude been around them? I have learned that sometimes when it seems like they were being difficult, it was me that was being difficult. We should be cautious about examining others, we should be diligent in examining ourselves.

 

Ro 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

 

  1. Guard your Tongue-

Col 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

 

This text is specifically addressing a principle on how we should “answer every man.” It is a specific command on how to speak and when to speak. The how is the “always with grace, seasoned with salt.” The when is, “alway.” Simply put, this is how we should speak all the time. When someone is speaking negatively towards us or worse attacking us, our nature is to respond with the same. If we are gracious in our speech, we will not respond in an inappropriate manner. How many times have we said something and as soon as we said it, we wished we had not? IMPORTANT biblical truth, just because it’s on your mind, does not mean you should say it!

 

Pr 29:11 ¶ A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

 

Specifically, until after you have calmed down and gained control of your emotions. Recently a friend reminded me that, “when tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the fire department usually uses water.” We also find a biblical truth to support that idea.

 

Pr 15:1 ¶ A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

 

  1. Walk Away-

Sometimes the best response is no response at all.

Joh 8:6  This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

 

Even Christ when provoked didn’t always respond. A response is not always necessary. Godly wisdom is not just knowing what to say but when to say it. It simply may not be the right time to say anything.

 

  1. Pray for Them-

It is difficult to be truly angry with people when you have truly prayed for them. I don’t mean to pray just out of principle, I mean to pray for them with the right motives.

 

Mt 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

 

  1. Treat them with Compassion-

1Pe 3:8 ¶ Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:      9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.      10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:      11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

 

The bible is very clear on treating people with compassion (and in the context of this passage) specially those who have not treated us right. In fact, it says to not only not respond with evil but to be a blessing. You may have no clue what that person is dealing with, what they are going through, or news they just received. Consider it an opportunity to be a blessing and encouragement to them. Pray and ask the Lord how you may help them. Just like in construction it is easy to tear down but harder to build up. There is enough out there tearing down, let us build up. As a disciple of Christ, will people believe you are in the demolition business, or the business of building up?

 

Joh 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

 

Devotion written by Jaime Sicairos

True Test of Spiritual Growth

Devotion written by Jamie Sicairos

Am I really growing in the Lord?

2Pe 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Jas 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

 

I was recently asked by someone close, how do we know if someone is really growing closer to God? It is a very legitimate question and a question that every Christian should ask of himself concerning his spiritual growth. When we take our children to the doctor, they have different measurements that indicate growth and good health. They check their height and their weight. They check their vision, hearing, and even how many teeth they have.  They check their heart beat and blood pressure. These measurements are generally taken when we go for what we all call a “checkup.”

  1. The Spiritual Check Up

Let us take a moment for a quick spiritual checkup. Our measurement of growth in a Christian is different yet similar in many ways to a physical checkup. For example, we can certainly make an application that a growing Christian has good spiritual vision according to Pr 29:18 ¶ Where there is no vision, the people perish:. We can make a case that a growing Christian has good hearing. Jas 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. We can make a strong argument that a growing Christian has a pure heart because of the emphasis to guard it in the bible. Pr 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. We could spend a lot of time discussing the evidences of growth in a Christian such as their desire to be a soul winner, their faithfulness and engagement to church, their prayer and devotional life, and so on. Many people can practice and even master these concepts and yet not really be growing in the Lord. I want to share some evidence that I ALWAYS see in a growing Christian.

  1. Drawing Closer to God

One way I know a person is genuinely drawing closer to Christ is not always in their attendance to church, their activity on social media, (i.e. posting scripture, sharing godly quotes) or even how they give, but in their attitude. EVERY single time I have a seen a person grow in the Lord, I have seen a growth in humility and a growth in grace. When a person makes the statement, “I am really growing in the Lord,” without sounding skeptical my response internally is generally, “Maybe you are or maybe you’re not.” Before you criticize me for being “skeptical,” let me explain. When I see a person who has truly grown in the Lord they always humble themselves. Instead of saying, “look at how much I have grown,” they generally say something like, “The Lord convicted me of _____________ and _____________ then I realized the need to change it, repent of it and/or make it right.” Friends that is a sign of humility. Constantly proclaiming how much you have grown is the opposite of humility. A growing Christian first listens to preaching, or counsel or they heed to the Word of God. Then instead of ignoring or even rebelling against rebuke or instruction they admit that they were wrong or in sin and took corrective action. I don’t know about you but admitting I am wrong can be difficult. In fact, that is my point, admitting I am wrong is “humbling.” Confession of sin is always a sign of humility. The result is a change in their attitude.

  1. Observing the Text

Our text above speaks of drawing nigh to God. When we refer to a person “growing in the Lord,” we, in theory, mean they are drawing closer to God. If that is true, then when you draw closer to God you become more sensitive to sin in your own life. That is the “cleanse your hands, ye sinners,” part. The cleansing of sin in your heart on the inside will eventually show on the outside. The second observation of the text we want to make is the purification of your heart. “Purify your hearts.” A pure heart is always a humble heart. A pure heart is always a gracious heart. It is truly a sign that you came to a place where you realized you are living a such a way that is contrary to the Lord and you did something about it. Humility will always show in a person when they can admit personal sin. Grace will show in a person on how they treat other people. So, you see friends spiritual growth in a Christian can not only be measured by external proof such as attending church, putting money in the offering plate or even handing out a tract. (I certainly believe that GROWING Christians should practice all those things.) But true spiritual growth can be measured in a Christian by their attitude and their spirit. “Grow in grace and knowledge” is what the bible says. I recently heard a pastor say that, “You can have a head full of knowledge and a heart full of sin.” Just because you have grown in knowledge, does not mean you have grown in grace or grown in the Lord for that matter. Let us measure our growth by biblical principles. I pray these simple thoughts have helped you to “grow” in the Lord today.

Support Your Local Pastor

Devotion written by Jamie Sicairos

Your pastor needs your support:

Jer 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Being a pastor is not exactly what I thought it would be. In many ways it’s much better, in other ways I was quite surprised. I never knew how much you can genuinely love and care for people that are not your flesh and blood. I didn’t anticipate the joy of seeing a person come to know Christ as Savior. Then after salvation begin to grow in grace and start living their life for the Lord is a proud moment for any pastor. Another joy that warms my heart is seeing church families who met at church start to form bonds and friendships as a result of the ministry God has allowed me to be a part of. I absolutely love when I see one church family go out to dinner with another church family. I love to hear them fellowship. I love to hear them testify about each other. On the other hand, I didn’t realize some of the hidden battles that pastors never speak about. The feeling of being alone sometimes. The fact that you don’t have a pastor yourself. Most pastors have many pastor friends and mentors but the moment they accepted the call to a church in theory they don’t have a pastor. My objective with the devotional this week is not to focus on the negative aspects of ministry but simply state the importance on why you should support your pastor and some simple ways you can do that.

  1. Pray for Him

I know this sounds cliché but oh how true it is. I believe in the power of prayer and I believe in the power of the saints of God. I KNOW there have been difficult days in my ministry where I don’t know if I would have made it without the prayers of my church family. I encourage you to let him know on occasion that you are praying for him. You say, “My pastor knows I pray for him daily.” Well I told my wife I loved her before I asked her to marry me, but I personally feel the need to remind her every day that I do love her. Telling your pastor that you are praying for him is a simple reminder to him that you are behind him. You also never know how much he may need to hear it that day.

  1. Defend Him

Every pastor has been burnt in the ministry. I don’t personally know a pastor who has not been hurt by people he has invested in unless he is just bitter and does not really care for people. People that he trusted, people that he thought would be with him to the end of his ministry, people that he personally sacrificed time and money for. People that pastors will consider like gold are people that he knows will defend him in his absence. This does not mean make excuses for sin. This also does not mean that you will agree with him 100 % of the time. It means you are loyal to him. It means you will not let other members of the congregation speak evil behind his back. It means you will act maturely if you have a problem with the pastor you will go to him directly on the matter instead of seeing who you can rally behind you. You want to support your pastor? Defend him in his absence. Gossip is always squashed in the presence of a mature Christian.

  1. Respect his Time

No pastor can do it all. He may try and maybe even get by for a little while but eventually he needs a break. Pastors generally are on call 24/7 365 days a week. Even when he is gone, he may have a deacon or assistant pastor on staff to deal with problems that may arise but every pastor worth his salt will always tell his leadership, “call me if you need me.” Pastors need time away with his family. Generally, most of them give much of their time, effort and energy to the ministry. There are times when pastors just need to be husbands and fathers. Even if he is not out of town, keep in mind that he wants to shut down too. You don’t know what he has had to deal with that day. The conflicts or burdens he is facing. At the end of the day he just wants to go home and be himself. Part of respecting his time is realizing that there may be someone else in the church that is qualified to answer your question or even assist you with the problem. Recognize his need to be able to attend revival meetings, bible conferences, camp meetings, pastors’ schools etc. This is invaluable time for pastors. They need to be fed too. They need time with other pastors and preachers. They need to be challenged and provoked too. Your pastor will appreciate you being respectful of his time.

  1. Remember he has Burdens too.

Everyone has bad days, yes, even pastors. Please don’t crucify him if you see him at the grocery store not smiling. Please don’t get offended if you could not sense great enthusiasm in his voice on the phone. Don’t get angry if he does not answer or call back right away. He may have just got a call from another church member telling him that they are never coming back. He may have a financial need he is not speaking about. Have you ever considered he spends much of his time meeting your needs and praying for your problems when his personal problems may be bigger than yours on that given day? Most good-hearted pastors will never say a word to the general membership.

 

  1. Check on his personal needs

It may not hurt from time to time to ask your pastor if he needs anything. Preachers/pastors get a bad rap from the general public because many have abused their position for personal gain. Please remember just because other pastors did it, does not mean your pastor will. Unfortunately, the lack of trust many pastors battle is not because of what they have done, but what other pastors have done. I’m not stating that pastors should not be transparent, because they should. That in itself helps build trust with people. All I am trying to say is make sure his needs are taken care of too. Make it a personal goal to check on this or see that someone in the church is checking on this on a regular basis.

Our culture is not friendly to pastors who desire to continue to preach the truth and the whole counsel of God. Believe it not, most pastors are not as angry as you think they are. Most of the time they are just frustrated from time to time. The best way to keep your pastor around for a long time is to remember these simple principles. I encourage you to support your local pastor because according to scripture they are a gift. Every time I read this passage, I always conclude that our church didn’t get the best gift. (Insert big smile here) Nevertheless, pastors are not perfect, but they are truly a gift from God.

Positive Thoughts?

Devotion written by Jamie Sicairos

Think on These Things: 

Php 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 

Anytime someone is going through a trial, heartache or expressing a need they need positive reinforcement. In fact often when you hear someone share a burden on social media a common response more and more is the new catch phrase, “positive thoughts.” What exactly does that mean? Well that all depends on who you ask but I will tell you what I believe it means and how Christians should respond in these circumstances. 

It means I am trying to be “politically correct.” 

More and more we live in a culture that is trying to be politically correct in anything we say or do. Yet the bible says that what we say or do and even put into our bodies should be to the glory of God. 

1Co 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Sadly, many Christians today don’t even want to bow their head in prayer in a public restaurant for fear of backlash. Now, in our social media addicted society we can’t even say, “I’m praying for you.” Friends, in the middle of a bad circumstance or trial is the best time to give positive reinforcement to a non-believer or suffering Christian. Let us not worry so much if someone will be offended because we mentioned prayer or gave a scripture reference that is relevant to the situation. Let’s worry more about being biblically correct than politically correct. I also do not mean we should use this as an opportunity to be “preachy.” Use discretion but don’t be afraid to use biblical principles to give positive reinforcement.

What is Positive Reinforcement?

By positive reinforcement, I am speaking of what the bible says we should emphasize. A quick analysis of the above text speaks of many important principles. It speaks of not worrying about the little things, it speaks of prayer, it speaks of the peace of God, it reminds us God is control, and commands us to focus on the positive not the negative where it concludes, “think on these things.” Furthermore, it evens tells us in detail what we should think about. Christians I can positively tell you that prayer works. I can tell you with confidence that the bible is true. I can tell you with assurance I know what Jesus did for me. I can tell you how God hand has been in my life through difficult, unpleasant and even lonely times. This is what I consider real positive reinforcement. So, the next time someone is asking for “positive thoughts” don’t be afraid to give the biblical thoughts. Maybe it’s not appropriate to engage in long conversation on social media but maybe it’s helpful to tell that friend that you will be praying for them, possibly share a quick scripture reference and then follow through. By follow through I mean you should pray for them. Secondly, you should follow up with them directly and ask how they are doing or how you can help.

Don’t be censored

Friends it’s a matter of principle. The bigger picture is not just about the expression in question but whether we are going to allow society tell us what we can and can’t say. Are we going to let culture tell us we can’t speak of spiritual solutions to life’s problems? Are we content with “positive vibes?” (I want to insert an eye roll here) No, give me something biblical. Send me a devotional. Build a wall of prayer around me. Adrian Rodgers said, “I will be civil but I won’t be silent.” Christians, let’s speak out of love with biblical boldness.

Ac 14:3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hand

Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Average Christians

Devotion written by Jamie Sicairos

How to be an above average Christian: 

Ac 2:42 ¶ And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

People who want to succeed in life are never average. When we search for something special, we don’t desire just average. For example, if we search for childcare, although price is a factor it is not the main concern. You look for a childcare facility that has a good record and reputation. When you go out for that special anniversary or birthday, you don’t settle for an average restaurant, you seek out a quality place to dine for the special occasion. Here are 5 quick thoughts using the text above on how to be an above average Christian: 

Emphasize the Bible-vs 42

There must be a special emphasis on the Word of God. In Acts 2 after people got saved and baptized, the Bible says they continued in the apostle’s doctrine. They made the Bible and what they were being taught a priority. This may seem redundant to hear but it is so critical. Just reading your Bible every day, even on the days you don’t feel like it, puts you in a special class. Most of us feed our bodies 3 times a day. It should be obvious that we need to feed our spirit daily, otherwise we become spiritually malnourished. People often say, “Pastor, my faith is not strong.” Well truth be told; your diet of the Bible is probably not what it should be. 

Ro 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Fellowship with God’s People -vs 42

I must acknowledge that in most Baptist churches when we say “fellowship” most connect it with food. There is some truth to this and there are even some scriptural references that would support this practice. However, Fellowship according to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary refers to it as: “companionship, association or partnership.” Who do you associate with? What are your associations? It is critical to have good fellowship with God’s people. This includes faithful church attendance. The Bible even says we should put consideration into our fellowship. 

2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

The fact of the matter is we are all influenced by people which is why we should be very cautious who we allow to influence us. 

1Co 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Have a Strong Prayer Life vs 42

Prayer takes work! Prayer takes time! Prayer takes consistency! Anytime you see a person God has greatly used, whether in the Bible or someone you know personally, you know they all had a strong prayer life. It has been said that, “Prayer is the link that connects us to God.” You will never be more than an average Christian if you don’t have a regular, planned prayer life. Thousands of Christians wake up each day searching for answers and they look everywhere except where they should be looking. 

Jer 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Learn to Give Cheerfully vs 45 

Our main text shows us that people sold their possessions to meet the needs of others. That is what we call sacrificial giving. Many times, the automatic response is, “Pastor, I can’t afford it.” Friend, you can’t afford not to. When we fail to give the Lord what belongs to Him, we fail to trust him. I will not spend too much time on the point, but the Bible tells not to just give but to give cheerfully. 

2Co 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Do your part to Spread the Gospel vs 46 

The Bible tells us that they went “house to house” and not just in the temple. Paul taught the scriptures publicly and from house to house. 

Ac 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house

We are also told in the book of Acts that they did everything they could to “publish” the Word of God. 

Ac 13:49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

That means in church, house to house, at your place of business, at the grocery store, at school, your neighbors and everywhere you go. One of the methods we do this is by literally going door to door despite those that believe it is not relevant for today. Personally, I find it fascinating that we expect our missionaries to go soul winning but don’t expect our churches to do that in our local communities. I also find it repulsive that “gospel” preachers are willing to go anywhere to preach the gospel on any platform but won’t walk to the porch across the street to give the gospel to their neighbor. We ALL as Christians have a responsibility to share the gospel. 

Mr 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 

Friends I know that many of the principles shared in this devotional are very basic and elementary yet I’m finding more and more that the average Christian does not faithfully practice them. It’s like the pro basketball player who forgets to practice dribbling, lay ups or free throws. It’s time we get back to the fundamentals of the faith. Since God shed his blood on Calvary for me, He deserves committed Christians who desire to be “above average.” If you practice these biblical principles, you will by default be an above average Christian.

“Refuse to be average. Let your heart soar as high as it will.” -A.W. Tozer 

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That’s Not Fair

 

That’s Not Fair

Devotion written by Jamie Sicairos

What to do when you are treated unjustly: 

Mt 5:43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

We live in a culture that promotes the idea of “looking out for # 1,” but the scriptures teach the exact opposite. Think of the story of Joseph who was treated unfairly by his older brothers and sold into slavery. Not long after that he ended up in prison because he was lied about. Joseph had a chance for revenge against his brothers but chose to have mercy and even testified that, “God meant it for good.” In Acts chapter 7 we find Stephen was being stoned to death, yet his response was, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” 

In our text we see Christ is referring to a worldview idea or tradition in stating that “it hath been said.”  Jesus had a greater lesson by saying, “but I say unto you.” Just for the record it is always better to go with what God’s Word says vs what you have heard! Here are a few simple thoughts on what to do when we are not treated right.

  1. Love them anyway.

It is not difficult to love my children. Do I get frustrated with them? Absolutely! Who doesn’t? I truly believe in love at first sight when it came to the birth of my children. My instinct as a father is to love and protect them. Loving someone who would be considered an enemy is more difficult. Now for clarity’s sake the context of the scripture is referring to a person you have personally interacted with and has treated you wrong. The commandment from the Lord was to love them. Now we must acknowledge that is not easy to do. Most of the time when I counsel people on this scripture their response is something like, “well you don’t know what they have done to me,” or “you don’t know how they hurt me,” or “they don’t deserve it.” Nobody said they didn’t hurt you and nobody said they deserve it. We are speaking about matters of obedience to Christ. Doing the right thing is not always the easy thing to do but it is still the right thing. Christ simply said to love them despite what they have done to you.

 

  1. Bless them from time to time

Ok so we know the Lord has ordered us to do something that’s not easy. Let’s be honest, we really don’t want to. Let me be even more honest, its because of our pride. Let me remind of you of something I read recently. “Pride is the only poison that is healthy for you when swallowed.” Now that is a tough pill to “swallow,” but since we have that out of the way it raises the question, how do we love them anyway? By blessing them from time to time. An example would be to send a simple word of encouragement to let them know you are praying for them. Even send them a random gift. Maybe send a gift and don’t sign your name to it. This is not primarily for their good as much as it is for your heart. One of the most humbling experiences I have had to endure was to send someone a gift that I did’t believe deserved it. I have literally left the post office in tears because it humbled me so much. I never regretted sending a gift or trying to be a blessing in some way but always walked away knowing it was the right thing to do. It really helped me to not let a “root of bitterness” spring up within me. How do we start to show brotherly love? Be a blessing however you can.

  1. Go out of your way to be kind

You can be a blessing to someone and them never know it. I think you must have personal interaction to really show your kindness or “be good to them.” Being a blessing will be a good for your heart, being kind will be good for their spirit. It is letting them know even if unkind words word said, unkind deeds were done that it is not going to affect your character as a Christian. If you run into them at the store, my advice is to not avoid them but go out of your way to greet them and say hello. Again, then our flesh speaks up and says, “I am not doing that” Friend lets just go back and call it for the ugly thing it is, PRIDE! That’s the reason we say, “I can’t” or I should say “I won’t!” It is easy to be kind to those who are kind to you. It shows character and Christian love to be kind to those who have not been kind to you. In fact, Christ later in the same text referenced that is exact point.

Mt 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?      47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

It’s not impressive to say, “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” If you love, bless, are kind to your family and friends only there is no reward in that. The business world will even be kind to you when you are kind to them. Christians are kind to others especially when others are not kind to you.

  1. Pray for them

Finally, Christ tells us to pray for them. I don’t believe that when Christ says, “pray for them” that he means, “Lord I pray you send vengeance upon them.” Remember that belongs to the Lord.

Ro 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

There are certain things in the scriptures that God said belonged to him. Vengeance is one of them. I do not advise getting into the practice of taking something that God says belongs to him. God said this tree is mine, don’t touch it! We then seen the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Because of the day we live in let me note that blasting someone on social media is taking vengeance. Let’s also not be fooled into thinking that because we didn’t mention their name that it’s ok. You put it out there because wanted them to know or get back around to them. Worse than that if you are completely honest with yourselves you know you intentions were not pure. If there is truly a problem with that brother or sister then let’s get back to doing the biblical method of restoration and “go to thy brother,” and not to social media or wherever else we choose to air our dirty laundry.

Friend pray for them out of a good heart. Pray sincerely for them. Pray that God bless them. Pray that God will open the doors to make things right. I’m not saying you must be best friends, I’m saying according to the scriptures to live peaceably.

Ro 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Before you say I have tried, make sure you followed the pattern given by Christ in this devotion.

None of us deserve to be treated like God has:

The truth is if we all got what we deserved God would have sent us straight to hell. The bible tells us there is there is “none that doeth good, no, not one.” In Romans 3:12. God has been good to us even when we didn’t deserve it. God has been gracious enough when we didn’t earn it. God has been merciful when we should have been punished. Let’s follow the lesson and example of Christ and treat people good, even when they have not treated us good.

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Dealing with Criticism

Dealing with Criticism

Devotion written by Jamie Sicairos

1Sa 30:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

How to handle the critics

There is not one single Christian who has served the Lord for any length of time without their fair share of criticism. In fact, all CEOs, entrepreneurs, successful athletes, pastors, preachers, church leaders, politicians (good or bad) have dealt with their fair share of criticism. Throughout the scriptures you will find many occasions where God greatly used a leader but it came with much back biting and criticism. 

1. Don’t respond directly 

In our text above we find a story of David who was “greatly distressed” because of what the people had been saying they wanted to do to him as a result of a decision he had made. David had led his men into battle and while he was away the city was burned and the women and children were taken captive. It is important to note that one of the key methods David used to handle his critics was actually not responding to them directly. It is very wise when dealing with critics to always pray before responding. It should be noted that not all criticism is bad, therefore we should always consider the critic and their intent. I receive, invite and welcome constructive criticism (which I personally interpret as instruction) from wise and godly sources. 

Pr 9:9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

2. Seek the Lord first

David, even during a difficult time sought the Lord before deciding his next move. The men may have forgotten during this stressful event that David was suffering personally as well. This is part of leadership. People don’t realize that we may already be hurting on the inside. Nevertheless, David drew closer to the Lord and encouraged himself in the Lord. David got his strength, his confidence and direction from God. After David received the help from God he needed then he had the wisdom on how to respond. In this case God told him to pursue after the enemy and rescue his family and claim the victory. 

3. Control your emotions 

It is easy in the heat of the moment to lash back out. People often pride themselves on speaking their mind, yet the scriptures state that this is not necessarily good. 

Pr 29:11 ¶ A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards. 

Even though all the fingers were pointed at David it did not seem he was interested in pointing the fingers back. One thing I have learned in leadership is that when things go right, you share the praise; when things go wrong, you take responsibility. David could have played the blame game but he didn’t. David, regardless of his emotions pondered within himself and took the matter to the Lord. We need to remember this important step when dealing with critics. Its easy to speak our minds, it shows character to control our emotions and do the right thing. Even as a pastor I have had people sit across the table or desk on multiple occasions with attack after attack or criticism after criticism. My pride wanted to respond and lash back out but it would only make matters worse. I wish I could tell you I always responded properly but I am still a work in progress. “Character Under Construction” 

Pr 15:1 ¶ A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Another important aspect to remember is that all of this was just rhetoric. The bible says the people “spake” of stoning him but they never actually did. It is so interesting that we always allow ourselves to get into an uproar over what people are saying but not actually doing. Many times people try to put teeth to their bite by saying “people are saying” but most often I have learned its actually just one or two. People are going to talk and we can’t help that but don’t let it distract you from the task at hand. 

4. Remember whats important

David despite the pressure, distress, and the critics, was able to keep his focus. He didn’t respond directly, he sought the Lord. He didn’t act irrationally, he remembered what was important. What was important was to rescue his family and the rest of those taken captive. What is important to me as a pastor is to “rescue the perishing and care for the dying.”  It is so easy to be distracted by critics that we forget what is most important. I have often received lots of criticism for my evangelistic efforts but it has always been by those who are not evangelizing. It reminds me of the story of D.L. Moody who was criticized by a lady for his evangelistic efforts to which he responded with something like this; “I’m sorry, I don’t like the way I do it either, how do you do it?” to which she replied, “Well I don’t do it.” Moody replied, “Well I like the way I’m doing it better than the way your are not doing it.” What’s most important is to please the Lord. Focus on God’s will for your life. Personally I have learned one of the best ways to respond to critics is to simply accomplish the task they said you could not do. Let the critics talk, seek the Lord, and finish the task God gave you to do. 

For More Devotions by Jaime Sicairos go to: 

Helping A Brother Out