Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Just a Stone's Throw Away . . .

John 8:7
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

I arrive at Wednesday morning Bible study to find Pastor Emily sitting by herself. I'm surprised no one else has shown up yet, but delighted for some one-on-one chat time.

As we talk about last Sunday's church service and share recent events in our lives, our conversation takes a more personal turn.

"I just loved your post about our Bible study group, Martha," Emily beams at me. "What a great read that was!"

"Thanks so much! I really hoped you'd enjoy it. And, thanks to you, I learned how to post blogs ahead of time. That was a lifesaver during vacation."

"I'll bet. It sure was for me when I was on my mission trip this past summer."

"You know, Emily, writing these daily devotions has really opened my eyes to scriptures. And, I have to admit, to myself. Which is a good thing, examining my own heart, my own sins; just not always easy to do. I sometimes worry that the folks who read these think I have all the answers when I'm on the same journey they are. Seeking God, and trying to figure out His will for me along the way."

"But, that's what it's all about! When I'm preparing to preach, especially when I plan to talk about a particular sin, I take a long, hard look in the mirror. How can I possibly stand in front of the congregation, pointing out sins which my plague their lives, if I haven't made an honest assessment of my own shortcomings, my own failings? And, no, it's not easy, not at all."

"I have to confess; my most difficult obstacle in following Christ is loving my enemies."

"Oh, Martha, that is one of the hardest! Possibly, the most challenging of all. But, it is certainly one you and I agree we must try with all our might, and God's help, to do."

"And, forgive them."

"Seventy-times seven. Again, no piece of cake."

"And, just when I think I'm there, here come the thoughts, the memories . . ."

"As they do for all of us. It's in the repeated act of forgiveness, the conscious act of love, no matter how many times we have to do so, when peace finally comes. And, it will come. It will. We need to continue to pray."

"Pray without ceasing?"

"My favorite! 1 Thessalonians 5:17."

"Now, there's a daily devotion for another time, for sure."

"A work in progress!"

"Always"

~

Are you throwing stones at your enemies, or are you loving them, forgiving them?

Will you pray with me?
Help us, Father, to take that long, hard look at our own hearts before we judge the hearts of others. Give us the grace to love and pray for our enemies. Thank you for Your forgiveness when we try the seventy times seven, and still fail. Grant us strength to try for seventy times eight. Amen.

Readings
Psalms 38 or 119:25-48
Isaiah 6:1-13
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
John 7:53-8:11

8 comments:

  1. I've carried resentment and hatred towards folks for years but as I've gotten older those ways of the past have been reduced. Hatred really is a double edged sword and the destructive feelings did no one any good especially me. I still get upset with people but an effort is made to not let the negative vibes linger. Blessings :)

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  2. Hi, David!
    Thanks for stopping by so early this morning. :)
    Yes, hatred is the proverbial, double-edged sword. When we fill ourselves with negative feelings toward others, we end up harming our souls. I still have issues with certain persons, as I mentioned here, but I am working on it daily. I like to feel at peace with myself and my God.
    May He bless you today!

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  3. It is not easy to forgive at first, but with time we either forgive or learn to be indifferent. Sometimes meeting those people will make the wound fresh again...but, I tend to ignore them.

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  4. Hi, Janu! Thanks so much for dropping in today!
    I'm glad you are able to forgive those who have hurt you. We only hurt ourselves when we can't let go. I learned that the hard way!
    Blessings to you as always!

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  5. She's right...and I know that personally as both a preacher and a writer- the best messages are those preached to yourself first! It's only after the Word has washed you clean, that you can share with authenticity, Martha! :-)

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  6. Hello.
    We hate & resent because we are imperfect humans. Resentment, hate & bitterness use up so much energy that could be better spent doing joyful or pleasant things. I try to only surround myself with people who I know generate positiveness & keep away from people who tend to annoy me.
    Nice post Martha.
    Thanks for sharing & for your continued visits to my blog. They are much appreciated.

    For ref:
    Eleven Roses And You

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  7. Hi, Bernie and Andy! Thanks so much for dropping in on the blog!
    @Bernie - So glad you could personally identify with Pastor Emily! She is a gem in my life, for sure!
    @Andy - Yes, negative energy is definitely not something we need in our lives! I so enjoy visiting your post and reading your marvelous poems. Glad to see you here, too!

    Blessings to you both!

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  8. The problem with holding grudges or being unwilling to forgive your enemies or those who have hurt you is that in not forgiving them, you are actually putting yourself in a prison rather than hurting the other person. Forgiveness frees both of you to begin again.

    ReplyDelete

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