Three Weeks From Today

3weeksFor years, two of my aunts stopped speaking to one another.  I don’t know exactly what the issue was, but I was sitting in the living room, as my mother and one of her sisters talked.  Aunt “Sue” was telling my mom that while visiting their mother earlier, Aunt “Sally” came by the house.  As soon as Aunt “Sally” realized Aunt “Sue” was there, she sped off in her car and refused to come inside.

My mom never told me the whole story, but I knew enough to know that it was not a big incident that caused this division. It was a case of harsh words because of a disagreement.  Disagreement had divided the family.

America is in an election such as we have never seen.  There are enough lies, exaggerations and scandals to last a lifetime.  We are a very divided country. We seem divided along gender, racial and party lines.

Yet, for me the most troubling division is that which has risen in the Body of Christ.  It doesn’t take long to read social media, internet articles, and periodicals to see just how divided we have become.  There are competing prophets telling us who is to be elected and/or who is of the devil.   Christians loudly declare:  you cannot be a Christian and vote for him; you cannot be a Christian and vote for her.    Insults are hurled a mile a minute. One woman deleted me from social media because I did not support her candidate. Before deleting me from her life, she made sure to let me know I was not a woman of God.

One of the jobs of Satan is to divide the church.   Yes, we’ve always had some division, but the divide is so much deeper now.  The enemy did not just get a foothold in the door; it seems he has almost gotten his whole body in the door.

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19-21

As we look at the above list, most of us who try to live by biblical truth, would never think of getting drunk, being sexually immoral, playing with sorcery and throwing wild parties.  (I said MOST of us!)  Yet, God took the time to add to that list: hostility, outbursts of anger and division.

The enemy must be smiling, because he thinks he is fulfilling scripture, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” – Mark 3:25.    The New Living Translation says it profoundly, “Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart.”

It’s time to stop the angry words towards each other.  It’s time to stop finger-pointing and speaking evil against one another.  The wounding has to stop.  Three weeks from today, we will have a president-elect.  In three weeks, many will be disappointed, and many will be jubilant.  The question is, “In three weeks, what kind of Church will we have?”  I hope and pray that we will have a Church that is not strife-filled.  Proverbs 6:16 tells us that God hates strife.

While many of us have been praying for repentance in this nation, it’s time to repent for letting down our guards, and allowing such ugliness to develop between us.  “If my people …”

Three weeks from today, I still plan to serve God.  Three weeks from today, I still plan to evangelize.  Three weeks from today, I still plan to help those who are in the midst of life’s pain.  Three weeks from today, I still plan to love God’s people.  Three weeks from today, I still plan to have faith in God.  Three weeks from today, I still plan to have kind words coming from my mouth.  Three weeks from today, I still plan to pray for a move of God in the United States of America.

What will you be doing three weeks from today?

There’s A Pharisee In Me

phariseeThe words were stunning and shocking. The doctor, after much testing said to me, “Mrs. Benton, we are 99% sure you have ovarian cancer, and it has already spread to nearby lymph nodes. You will need surgery to remove all the disease, and by my side will be a surgical oncologist, who will check all the organs to see how much the disease has spread.”  That was more than twenty years ago, and praise be to God, I am still here!  He still works miracles!

The Sunday after my surgery, I was not able to be in the church service. A friend of mine was so grateful for the miracle God had done in my body that she began to dance with the joy of the Lord. Others began to join in and celebration erupted in the house. Then, an unbelievable thing happened. One man looked with disdain upon the celebration, citing that my friend had never danced this way before, so why today?   He could not celebrate the great victory because he was too busy being a Pharisee – righteous enough to dance when he wanted, but eager to tell others why they shouldn’t or couldn’t!

Please don’t think my intention is to be hard on my fellow believer.  We all have some Pharisee in us, and when it shows its face, religion can get real ugly real fast.

“On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. (Luke 6:6-7)

Jesus showed up in church one day and saw a man with a withered hand. Jesus just can’t help being Jesus – filled with compassion and eager to heal. It was a beautiful thing Jesus did as he healed that man’s hand and set him free. What God did that day was incredible. Yet, in that same service, some of the “church” folks were watching, not to celebrate what was right, but to point out what was wrong.

It is so easy to sit in a church gathering looking for what we don’t like, or seething over the one thing we disagreed with in the sermon. In our minds, we can turn the beautiful things of God into something ugly real fast if we let the Pharisee take over.

Pharisees don’t seek to love and heal those around them, but to show them every little thing that is wrong with them. Pharisees could never enjoy the presence of Jesus because they were always trying to make sure every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed just right. If even one thing wasn’t like they thought it should be, church was over for them. How many times did they miss the presence of Jesus touching them because somebody offended them by the way they did something?  Pharisees loved the best seats. They wanted to be seen. How many times do we walk away from the things of God because no one noticed me, or no one spoke to me?

Beloved, the presence of Jesus is always where two are three are gathered in His name. He is there to touch us, cleanse us, renew us and empower us. Don’t miss out on what God is doing because you see someone who is not quite living up to your standards, or, you see a leader that has done you wrong, so no way are you rejoicing in that service!

The Pharisaical spirit is from Satan to keep us from entering into the life-changing work of the Spirit. That spirit is determined to kill the life of Christ in you. As a born-again, Spirit-filled child of God declare boldly, “Pharisaical spirit, get out of me. You will not rule my worship or my ability to enter into God this day!  You will not destroy me or hinder the work of God in my life, my family or in my church.”

How well I know that I must be careful about the Pharisee in me.

Let God arise and His enemies be scattered!