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Compassion Rather than Condemnation ~ December 26 Morning Devotion ~ Angela

compassion cures more sin than condemnation beecher quote

December 26, 2014

Friday 4:30 a.m.

I woke up thinking about how Jesus is our friend but He is also King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our relationship with Jesus should bring us to love Him even ever more and in humility. The more we get to know Jesus, the more we love Him and the more we see how holy and righteous He really is and how much in need of Him we are. To see His beauty and grace and to see my true self – only makes me love Him more and walk more humbly with Him.

Being friends with Jesus doesn’t make us better or more special than other people – it should make us more humble and compassionate. Jesus was humble and compassionate as He walked on this earth and among us. He humbled Himself to come and walk in our shoes and to grow up among us from a babe in a manger, to a lowly carpenter, to a ministry full of compassion and teaching and healing and love – to die on a cross for everyone’s sins so that whosoever would call upon His name could and would be saved. Truly, we have a LORD who understands us and our sorrows and flaws and who was willing to come and do what He has asked us to do. God was willing to come here, walk among us, be tested and tempted and to persevere, obey the Father and ultimately to overcome and to conquer so that His victory could be transferred to us and repeated by us because He defeated the curse of sin and the grave!

He is a God who understands. Jesus is a Savior who understands. He has sent us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to live in us and teach us and guide us into all the Truth.

When we see or hear of someone that seems to personify evil to us – like a murderer or a rapist, or a child abuser or drug addict – we need to check our hearts for humility and compassion in the likeness of Jesus. If we find ourselves thinking something like the following statements, then our hearts are not right:

“I would never treat someone like that!” “I am so glad I am not like her, I know

better than to do something like that.” “I can’t understand how a person could do

something like that – I’d never do that!” “That creep needs to burn in hell for

doing that!”

Friends, Jesus would rather us pray for that person that they repent and turn to Him and have their lives transformed by His work in them that they do good instead of evil. Our first thought should not be about how much worse that person is than us. Our first thought should not be how much better of a person we are than others who are caught in sin. We are not here to condemn others. We are not here to gloat over others’ failures and flaws and use them to make us feel better about ourselves.

We should recognize that we are only “not as bad” as someone else because of the grace and mercy of God and His work in us. We all fall short of God’s glory. We all sin and mess up and fail and fall. Some people sin differently than we do, but all sin is sin. All sins, whether they are big or little, horrible or seemingly justifiable, are enough that Jesus died to cover them with His blood to pay the price for them. The cost for all sin is the blood of Jesus Christ.

So let us all be moved with compassion for others and pray for God to work in others as well as ourselves to bring us all to godly repentance when we sin and to bring us all to a saving knowledge of Jesus and a love relationship with Him. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to minister to each one of us who seek to know the Lord, to bring forth and bear kingdom fruits in our lives. Let us pray for conviction and repentance. Let us pray for the transforming of our minds and read God’s Word and allow our minds to be renewed in Christ Jesus so that we do become more like Jesus. While we may not be addicted to alcohol – are we giving ourselves credit for what God alone is doing in our lives? While we may not be murderers, are we taking the credit for that by believing that something we are doing is actually responsible for that?

Our hearts as humans are wicked and our good works are like filthy rags. Only through Jesus and His blood are we able to become God’s children. And as God’s children, our goal is to make Him known and to love Him supremely and our neighbors as ourselves.

Following all the external rules is not all we are to be doing – if we are not loving as Jesus loves us, then we are missing the mark just as much as the thief who steals from his neighbor. When we withhold the love of Jesus from others and act out of condemnation rather than love and compassion, we are stealing blessings from our fellow man. How can those who are in darkness be brought into the light if we do not tell them of God’s love by sending Jesus to bring them out of that darkness and into His glorious kingdom of Light? If all we do is stand in judgment and see and remark about the wrong that they are doing, but offer no answer, share no love or light with them, then how are we different from them? Is the love of Jesus and His Light within us? If so, then we are compelled to share this love and His Light with others, especially with those who are still in the darkness.

Bottom line of this morning’s thoughts:

I cannot take credit for where God has brought me from and for the work that He is doing in me to change me from the lost and wretched sinner that I was. It is only Jesus and the work of God through the Holy Spirit in me and in my life that I am not who I once was. I was a lot of things that I am not now. I am now a new person and I do desire to be fully surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ and to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. But once, I was not this way and I can only thank God for the change in me and in my family. I can never look down on anyone or condemn anyone. I have been forgiven of so much and I do choose to follow the command of Jesus to forgive others or I will not be forgiven. I remember the parable of the man who was forgiven of a huge debt and when he went out, he met a man who owed him very little. Instead of forgiving him of his small debt, the man who was forgiven of the huge debt threw that man who owed him little into prison. The one who forgave the man of the huge debt heard about it and was very angry. He could not believe that this man whom he had forgiven of such a huge debt had someone else who owed him little thrown into prison. I do not want to be like that. I led a life of such wretched sin. The Lord Jesus looked beyond my faults and saw my need – my need for a Savior, a Redeemer, a Deliverer, a relationship with a Heavenly Father who created me and loved me and wanted me to know Him. I am so thankful that Jesus loves me and has made a way for me to be forgiven and to know Him, to know that Father and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

For those that do not have this same relationship with Him, I am filled with compassion and pray for them to know just how good God is. I long for others to know the love that I have found in Jesus and the freedom from worry and strife. I so wish that I could explain and show you just how good God is. But you have to taste and see for yourself, by faith. I pray that you do. I really do. God bless you!

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My Thoughts about Burn It Down by Linkin Park

My Thoughts on Linkin Park’s “Burn it Down” by Angela Dingler of 2fools4Christ

First of all, this is a very moving song and to me, I feel a deep pain and sadness through the beauty of the melody, the rhythm, and the beautiful voice. Also, I feel the anger and the resentment and the bitterness especially in the rap verse. Music is very stirring. Music can convey and evoke strong emotion and connect very deep ties to truths that are conveyed in lyrics. This song does a great job of all of that. This song truthfully reflects what it is like in a love and hate relationship where a couple is together and they have issues. When one makes a mistake the other is right there to point it out. Even though they want so hard to fix their love, we all make mistakes and it can feel so good to point out someone else’s flaws and even do things that can hurt the relationship. We can all get caught up in the turn and in the burn.

I can really see that there is a strong resemblance to mine and Jerry’s love story in this song. I can see how our love story felt like this, especially to Jerry, without Jesus and His love and His presence and the work of the Holy Spirit and our Heavenly Father in us. Ultimately, it is a choice to not have a “burn it down” kind of love and the first step in the choice is to be surrendered to Jesus.

Without the hope of Jesus, without the ministry of the Holy Spirit and without the gift of grace bestowed upon us by our Father, our love story would have probably ended long ago. For human love is not enough. As much as we wish for human love to be enough and for us to find that one perfect man or woman that will never let us down, that is just not possible nor is it realistic.

Do you want to know what a really beautiful love story is? I believe that our love story is exceptionally beautiful. The love story of Jerry and Angela is extraordinarily beautiful and it has been made possible only through the work of God in both of us. I give God all the glory due to Him and all the glory is due Him.

Our love story is so beautiful because even though we have both chased after our own selfish desires, even though we have both fallen and failed each other, even though we have both messed things up beyond repair and have been to the point of agreeing to divorce one another – somehow the Lord has kept us together. We have not given up on each other and we have forgiven each other and have had to choose to forgive each other again when bad memories try to rise to the surface over severe past hurts between us. We do still love each other even though sometimes that is the hardest choice to make. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to forgive. Sometimes it is scary to keep on loving. Sometimes you’re afraid that you might be hurt again. Sometimes you are really hurt and angry and want to punish the other person. Sometimes you just want to slap the other person. Sometimes you want to see the other person groveling for forgiveness. Sometimes you hate yourself for hurting the other person. Sometimes you feel like giving up because you are afraid that you can’t be all that the other person needs. Sometimes you think you aren’t good enough. Sometimes you think you’ve messed up too many times or too big to fix it. Sometimes you think everything is going great and all is going to be wonderful forever and then you remember something that happened in the past and those fears come back. Sometimes things are going great and you think everything is fixed and nothing bad will ever happen again and it does! Sometimes you just don’t know.

Sometimes two people can be like this song, “Burn it Down.” They can be there to point out each others’ flaws and failures and mishaps. When the next mistake happens they are there to point fingers and gloat and use it as an excuse to return to their own mistakes. Then, because love is there to an extent, when these two come back together to try and work it out, there is one who is seen as the “good” one. The “good” one is whichever one didn’t mess up this last time or who “messes up the least” and tends to hold it over the other one’s head. The good one tries to lord it over the other in hopes of controlling things and making sure that no more mistakes are made.

The one who is prone to make the most visible mistakes can feel like he or she cannot live up to the expectations of the “good one.” The “lowly” one may feel like they’re just playing a part until the next disaster when their true self comes out, again. And they may feel like they can never overcome the past or get beyond it. Hope may fade from their sight and hope may not have been there for them at times at all. With the “good” one always standing over them reminding them of their flaws and just waiting for them to fail again, the one who usually gets the blame can feel like they don’t even have a reason to keep trying. And while the “good one” is blind to his or her own faults and flaws, they are painfully plain to see for the one who is always held up to scrutiny. The “good one” is not really all that “good,” themselves. When both are wrong and trying to make the other one right but then gloating over the other’s failure, the relationship is bound to end up like this song, “Burn it Down.”

The reality is that both are not right. The reality is that one person can never control another person or make another person do the right thing. The reality is that as long as forgiveness is withheld and love as God defines it is not there, that a relationship will never be all that it could be. The reality is that when we accept God’s grace and we receive salvation through belief and faith in Jesus and ask Him to be our Lord and Savior, then He comes in and makes us new creatures. Jesus makes our spirit come alive unto His Holy Spirit and He is the one who makes us new. Jesus is the One who causes us to be able to have hope. We don’t have to return to our old ways and make the same mistakes that we made in the past. We don’t have to return to our old and evil ways that hurt ourselves, our loved ones and our Lord. We have new life in Jesus and new hope of transformation into His likeness in our spirit by the work of the Holy Spirit. God works in us to do good things that He had planned for us since before we were ever born. That is how marriage is a picture of Jesus and His bride, the church, or believers in Christ. Jesus loves us and asks for our hand in marriage and all the while He knows that we are marred and stained with a sinful nature and that we will only become all that we can be through a love relationship with Him. In marriage, we come into this union and we know that “ain’t neither one of us a prize,” to quote Jerry. We know that neither of us is perfect but we are so glad that we have found a person who will accept us and love us for who we are. That is what Jesus did for us and is offering us. Jesus is offering to love us no matter what even though He knows we are prone to wander and that we are going to need rescuing from time to time. Jesus knows that we are human and that is why He gave His life for us. In marriage, we accept each other for the good that we do see in one another and we bank on the fact that with Jesus, He is going to magnify that good and minimize the wicked tendencies of our flesh.

Marriage and love stories between a man and a woman were first told to us in the Bible and were created and made special by God. When Adam and Eve were in the garden, they were made for each other. It was love at first sight. They were in a paradise and they were beautiful people and made just for one another. They were completely in love with each other and there was only one thing that could mess up their happy home. Sin was the only thing that could mess them up. Sin was just making a mistake. Sin was choosing to believe a lie that there was something missing from them and from the place where they had been placed. Sin was listening to the devil tell them that there were other options, other benefits, other things out there that would make their existence even better.

When Eve believed these lies and Adam believed them with her and they did what God told them not to do, their eyes were opened to their own inadequacies. They were able to see each other’s flaws and how they were different from God. They began to live in fear and shame and guilt. But you know what? They stayed together. The Lord helped them to stay together and He blessed them still with children and still blessed them with clothing and food and a wonderful world in which to live. Yes, it made them have to struggle and experience more pain, but they had joy in the struggle because God still loved them and provided for them and blessed them with a love for one another that overcame the sin that they both committed together.

Throughout the Bible there are stories of men and women in love, but I want to finish here with telling you about our love: Jerry and Angela’s love.

You see, the Lord put us together about ten years ago. For me and I think also for Jerry, we had a love at first sight kind of experience. No, we did not do everything just right from the beginning. No, we were not 100% walking with the Lord. No, we didn’t even know what it meant that we would face all of the things that we have faced together. We have lied to one another, been through addictions with each other, sought recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse and been through trouble with the law and jail time and adultery and controlling and accusing and being harsh and unforgiving and judging and criticisms and holding grudges and holding things over one another’s heads, etc… We have had a “Burn it Down” kind of story.

But the part of our story that “Burn it Down” doesn’t have is HOPE, the Living Hope that we have in Jesus. Especially since we really began to seek after the face of Jesus individually and as a couple and as a mother and a father since 2010, we have seen that Living Hope in Jesus manifest in forgiveness, letting go of the past, seeking a future filled with HOPE as promised in Jeremiah 29:11-14. The cycle as described so well and so movingly in the song that Linkin Park sings in “Burn it Down” has been broken for us and it has been broken by none other than Jesus Christ because He is The Way, The Truth and the Life and he whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We don’t have to repeat that self-destructive cycle any longer. We can encourage one another and forgive one another along this journey that we call life and marriage and raising our children. We can really love one another the way that Jesus calls upon us to love one another, and we can only do this with Him as our Teacher and our Guide.

When the way gets weary, when the long nights are dreary, when we feel like we cannot do it, when we feel like we cannot forgive or see the good or know what lies ahead: Jesus comforts us with His Holy Spirit and He leads us and guides us and gives us His grace, His mercy, His love, His strength, His power, His might, He strengthens our faith and helps us in our burdens when we lay them at His feet. The struggles are fewer and further in between. The peace and joy and fulfillment are much more a part of our life than the struggle. The Lord is growing us. The Lord is so good to gently lead us.

No matter what Jerry and Angela, we, have been through together, this is what we know: We love each other and we will stand by each other because the Lord put us together and we choose to stay together. We will not give up on Jesus or each other. Jesus looks beyond our faults and He sees our needs and He meets our needs right where we are. We know each other as well as any human can know another human. We know each other’s flaws and we also see the beauty in each other, flaws and all. We love each other and we will stand in our faith in Jesus and in our love for each other that He has blessed us with.

Flaws and all, I, Angela, am so blessed and happy to be married to my dear husband and wonderful father to our children, Jerry. I am so thankful that Jerry loves me the same way.

I do pray that as you seek the Lord, that you allow Him to work in you to make your marriage as beautiful as God designed it to be: a picture of Jesus and His love for His church, His bride, those who love Him and hear His voice and love others as He has commanded us to do. There is no magic formula or cookie cutter approach for healing in your marriage. There is only this: Jesus said, “A new command I give to you: love others as I have loved you.” Can you do that? Not on your own you can’t. If you want to be able to really love and be loved, then ask Jesus to be Lord of your heart and ask Him to teach you how to love the way that He does. You will find that learning to love as Jesus loves is tough, but possible with Him, and is so worth it. Ask Jesus to bless you daily with His presence and for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you, pray, stay in God’s Word, and pray some more. J God bless you! ❤