"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
I don't know if I have ever been fought so severely while trying to complete a blog post.
The past several days have been SO difficult.
I don't want to waste God's....or your time here,
by giving satan credit for the evil things he hurls in our direction to try to foil God's purpose in us.
But, I feel led to share just a tiny glimpse into the spiritual warfare I have been fighting.
It just amazes me how satan attacks the parts of us that God NEEDS to use.
It hit me tonight and became so transparent.
Two vital components that are needful to fulfill my calling are my voice and hands....
to speak and sing God's messages and encouragement and to write/type the devotionals for this blog.
So, what are two things (among others) that have been the hunted targets of some of satans' latest schemes?
You guessed it.
For the sake of not wanting to take up too much space for this,
I will forgo the voice/throat attack and other trials and move on to what happened to my hand today.
PLEASE NOTE...I feel I should warn you that
what follows is not for the faint of heart and contains a graphic description of an injury. :~)
With that being said,
Mom Smith is very ill and in the hospital,
(we would deeply appreciate your earnest prayers for her healing),
and during our visit with her today,
we went to the cafeteria vending machine to get Dad S. a snack.
The bag of Dorito's got stuck, so I reached in to give the metal flap a tap to try to jolt the bag
and cause it to fall down into the opening far enough for me to reach in and fish it out.
Instead of this happening, the metal flap got stuck,
and when I tapped it again, it sprang loose, flew shut HARD,
and clamped down on my finger, in the process.
It all happened so fast!
When it slammed shut, reflexes kicked in automatically,
and I jerked my hand out of the machine.
As I did, a chunk of the top layer of the middle finger of my left hand
stayed wedged between the hard metal flap and the ridge of the bottom of the machine.
It hurt so much, I nearly passed out.
I was terrified to look down...I honestly did not know what I would find.
It was not a pretty sight, let me tell you.
Blood was gushing...pouring out, as I sank into a nearby chair.
Several people around us saw what was going on, and rushed to my aid...
handing me napkins, getting bandaids, and speaking kind words.
I sat there for a while trying to get the bleeding stopped...wishing I had cayenne pepper in my purse...
YES, it really does work and instantly clots a flow of blood...
we have tried it and experienced it, firsthand, more than once. :~)
But, I foolishly had no cayenne on hand, and the blood continued to pour.
(NOTE: I am not a doctor or a medical professional, so I assume no personal liability
for individual results or repercussions. I am only sharing what has been helpful to our family.
And, YES, to answer your question, it burns!)
for individual results or repercussions. I am only sharing what has been helpful to our family.
And, YES, to answer your question, it burns!)
I finally felt strong enough to walk back to the elevator with Kevin and Zach,
and once we reached Mom Smith's room on the third floor, I was feeling pretty faint.
I walked out to the nurse's station to see if she could provide more bandaids
and possibly some antibiotic cream.
She took one look at me and strongly suggested that I head downstairs to the Emergency Room.
By this time, I easily consented.
To spare even more gory details, I will fast forward to tonight.
Here I sit....
tightly-bandaged, thickly-wrapped middle finger...
trying my utmost to type because I know God called me to write.
I am convinced Homespun Devotions was and IS His idea.
I started writing this devotional days ago, and, by God's grace,
I intend to finish it...in spite of how difficult this is.
This is not about me.
It is all about Him.
And I want to be faithful to fulfill my calling and convey what He has laid upon my heart.
So, I proceed...in His strength alone...because I want good to overcome evil...To me, one of the saddest predictions Jesus made concerning the end times
in this and in every other situation.
in this and in every other situation.
is found in Matthew 24:12,
"And because iniquity shall abound,
the love of many shall wax cold."
This verse in the NIV reads this way,
"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold."
the Weymouth New Testament words it like this,
"..and because of the prevalent disregard for God's law the love of the great majority will grow cold."
I don't know about you, but when I read this verse, I am brought to tears.
There is a sad, deep ache in my spirit, especially when I realize that you and I...right now...
are watching the dismal and heartbreaking fulfillment of Jesus' words.
It is happening, my friend.
Iniquity is abounding.
Wickedness is increasing.
There is a prevailing disregard for God's law.
And because of these facts, the love of many is in the process of growing or has already grown completely cold.
Have you ever seen such a dog-eat-dog mentality,
such a lack of consideration, concern, and respect,
and such a self-seeking time?
Jesus said it would be like this in the last days....
all because of the increase of wickedness in the hearts of mankind.
As I said in my last post, it feels like evil is winning the war.
When we feel defeated and outnumbered, there is this impulse...this temptation...
to just give in and adapt the mindset that it if we can't completely obliterate the evil,
if we can't make a huge, show-stopping difference,
if we can't impact the whole, wide world at once,
then we may as well just cave and succumb to hopelessness
and do absolutely nothing at all.
This is exactly where satan wants us to be...to stay.
His goal is complete apathy....
impassivity; unresponsiveness; indifference; lack of interest, enthusiasm, and concern,
a total suppression of spiritual passion for God,
and complete spiritual paralysis.
Concerning apathy, Wikipedia says this,
"...apathy is described as a result of the individual feeling they do not possess
the level of skill required to confront a challenge."
The enemy wants us to feel that we can't do what needs to be done
and that our individual contributions are insignificant.
We, as Christians, are facing some of the most challenging of times,
and if satan can convince us that we are unequal to these challenges,
he has already won the war.
Because if he convinces us that we are incapable,
he will have persuaded us that there is nothing we can do...
to turn the tide,
to make a difference,
to bring a reviving to the spiritual deadness.
Another ploy I see him using is a little more subtle.
He is managing to convince us that since we are living in the end times, there is no need to even try to make a positive difference...
that we are defeated before we start, so, what's the point?
Please hear me out.
He will do this in whatever underhanded, conniving way he can.
He will even quote Scripture.
He tried it while tempting our Savior, remember?
Three, separate times, satan came at Jesus with God's Word.
If he had the audacity to tempt Jesus Christ through the use of Scripture,
don't you think he will try it on us?
He will remind us that "evil seducers will wax worse and worse" 2 Timothy 3:13,
and he will bring many other prophecies to our minds to make us believe that since these prophecies must be fulfilled and it is inevitable that it happens this way,
we may as well remove our armor, lay our weapons down,
and sit still in a state of hypnotized paralysis...
just waiting for the worst.
Please don't misunderstand me.
I believe we ARE in the last days, and yes, these prophecies ARE being fulfilled at record speed,
and Jesus is surely soon to come.
I believe that with all my heart and soul.
But, just because this is reality,
just because this is definite and will take place,
Jesus did not tell us to throw in the towel,
throw up our hands,
and throw away our courage.
He never said we should stop fighting,
just because we are nearing the end of the war.
He said to "Occupy till I come." Luke 19:13
The original meaning of "occupy" in this verse means...
"to busy oneself;
transact business, trade;
to bear much fruit i.e. the opposite of being fruitless
because of refusing to make trades by playing it safe."
Just look where "playing it safe" has landed us.
Jesus did not say to occupy until close to the end, then quit when things look really hopeless.
He said, "till I come", however long that takes, whenever that happens to be.
Evil is rampant.
You and I are here...for such a time as this...to overcome evil with good.
To make a difference.
To stand in the gap for the sake of our children, our family, our nation, and the church.
To "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die..." (Revelation 3:2).
To be the positive change we wish to see.
Sometimes, we can be the answer to our own prayers.
So, here we are.
As Christians, we are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)
We are the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13)
We are the city that is set on a hill so high that the whole world is watching us. (Matthew 5:14)
We are, after all, the ones who have dropped the ball,
allowing the enemy to gain such a foothold in not only our society,
but even more alarming, the ranks inside the church.
Passivity got us into our present state.
Occupation will get us out and move us forward.
So, as salt and light, what are we to do?
It seasons and disinfects.
It enhances and brings about positive change.
Salt creates thirst.
Light dispels darkness.
It dispels fear and becomes dominant.
When Jesus stepped onto the scene of earth,
our world was permanently and irrevocably changed for the better.
No level or power of evil could extinguish the goodness of His light.
"And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
Darkness will never be able to extinguish light.
When light appears, it always wins.
I think a big part of overcoming evil is to simply take control of a bad situation and turn it around, reversing the enemy's intended outcome, in the process.
This is not easy, but it is possible, by God's amazing grace working within us.
In no particular order, what follows is an abbreviated list of eleven categories and lots of simple ways that we, as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, can overcome evil with good.
I say abbreviated, because, truly, the possibilities are endless,
and to narrow them down to fit into one blog post would be impossible.
1. Keep God first, front, and center.
Let Him be the first person you talk to in the morning,
and the last person you speak with at night.
Saturate yourself with His goodness.
Give Him your all.
Make your relationship with Him paramount.
Don't do anything without consulting with Him in the first moments of your day.
Listen to His voice.
Be in tune with His prompts.
Walk in complete obedience to His will.
This is the best and truly the only way to be properly and adequately prepared
for the guaranteed onslaught of evil waiting for each one of us on any given day.
Living life this way, seeing everything through God's lens,
weighing all upon the scale of His Word,
will automatically help us discern the difference between right and wrong.
If we stay continually filled to capacity with His goodness,
this is what will automatically flow out of us in every circumstance.
It will be there when we most need it to be called forth to combat and defeat the evil around us.
The goodness of God on the inside will rise to every evil occasion on the outside and overcome it.
2. Love your family.
Mom used to tell me that "charity begins at home".
If we can't overcome the evils of friendly fire inside the "safe" walls of home, how do we expect to be able to overcome the evil hurled at us from enemy ranks on the outside?
Perhaps you have a hard row to hoe at home.
Maybe the ones you live with aren't the most pleasant.
It could be that they are downright hateful and difficult.
If this is true in your situation, you are in good company.
Jesus said, "And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Matthew 10:36
He knew this very well from firsthand, human experience.
The Weymouth translation of Mark 3:21 says,
"...His relatives came to seize Him by force, for they said, He is out of His mind."
I wish we had more information about the daily happenings of our Lord's life.
This incident was only a small glimpse into what it must have been like for Him,
yet it speaks volumes.
Jesus' family members were not supportive of Him, His mission, or His ministry.
I have a hunch that Jesus had some very difficult, disparaging relatives.
Actually, it is more than a hunch, because Hebrews 4:15 tells us that He was tempted in
every, single point that we are....yet, He never sinned.
This confirms the fact that He had to deal with overcoming evil with good on every possible level,,,
even within the realm of the ones closest to Him.
Love is stronger than hate and more powerful than revenge.
Sometimes, we treat strangers with more respect than we treat the members of our own household.
No matter what, in spite of all, love your family, with all of their quirks, idiosyncrasies, and faults.
If your parents are impossible to please, demanding, and continually provoking you to anger,
make an inward determination to love them and prove it daily.
You know them better than anyone.
Lighten their load.
Be there for them.
Be the bigger person.
Just because they are older doesn't necessarily assure they possess wisdom,
but we still owe them and are Biblically commanded to extend to them our respect.
"It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right."
If your spouse is ill-tempered, why not say no to the temptation
of reacting in a similar way, and try being extra-sweet instead?
If your child is being contrary, instead of losing your temper and yelling,
adding fuel to the flame, why not try to find a constructive, productive activity for them to engage in,
re-channeling all of that rambunctious energy, in the process?
If your in-laws are nit-picky and quarrelsome, diffuse tension by lovingly serving their needs.
Sweetness will win out every time.
Do something nice, in return for spiteful behavior.
3. Take control of the tone.
Don't allow evil to hold on to the upper hand.
Don't play into its plot by perpetuating it and reacting in the same evil-like way you are being treated.
Overpower it, the minute you discover and identify it for what it really is.
React as Jesus would.
You walk into the grocery store and cringe, because the first person you see is the cashier who consistently makes it obvious that the last thing she wants to do is to speak to you, let alone serve you in any way.
All you can think about is the many times you have been forced to go through her line
and left the store in total frustration because of her rudeness.
How to overcome the evil?
Expect the challenge, and be mentally and spiritually prepared for it.
Don't allow your attitude to be dictated by hers.
Don't let your niceness be contingent on whether or not she is nice.
Chances are, she won't be, but, as God's ambassador, you still can and should be.
Smile at her.
It doesn't matter if she smiles back.
Ask her how she's doing as you walk past her towards the produce department.
Don't be annoyed if she doesn't ask you the same.
Chances are, she won't, so don't even hope for it.
After you shop, make it a point to go through her line.
Tell her she is doing a great job, and you appreciate her help.
Keep command of the situation forcing good into it, continually replacing the evil.
This will not be easy.
Be persistent without being pushy.
Don't allow her to ruin your day.
Stay sweet, regardless of what she does or does not do.
As you load your groceries in the trunk of your car,
you will know that good overcame and won the battle,
because you did what was right.
4. Find something to pity.
It is hard to react in duplication to someone's ill-treatment
while your heart is going out to them in compassion.
Learn the fine art of empathizing.
Put yourself in the other person's shoes.
Imagine the weight of the cross they daily bear.
Keep in mind that their burdens may be greater than yours.
Convince yourself of the reality that underneath the roughness and crude exterior,
there is an undying, eternity-bound soul that Jesus loved enough to suffer intensely for
and lay down His life to save.
Look at the person who is annoying you through the eyes of Jesus Christ.
Imagine how He must see them.
In a way that is not condescending, react with genuine compassion,
as if the person were someone dear to you...
because they are worthy-of-dying-for dear to our Lord.
5. Be kind.
I know...this is so basic, so simple.
But, too often, we forget who we are,
we overlook Who we profess to imitate,
and we do the opposite of what He would do.
Make a commitment to do one kind thing every day.
It doesn't have to be elaborate or costly or difficult.
You don't even have to leave the house.
Keep a box of assorted greeting cards on hand....
especially the genres of get well, sympathy, encouragement, friendship, and thinking of you.
Take out your address book, and carefully consider each person listed.
Is there a reason you could send them a card?
Do you even need to have a reason?
Just take out a card, add a few heartfelt words of your own,
put it in the envelope, address it, add a stamp and return mailing label,
and walk it to your mailbox for the delivery person to pick up.
This is especially beneficial in overcoming evil with good if there is a measure of contention
between you and someone else.
"A soft answer turneth away wrath..." Proverbs 15:1
Let an act of kindness be your soft answer.
Don't go to bed at night, until you have done one kind thing.
You never know how many ripples of kindness you will unleash,
just by one small, sincerely-kind deed.
No one knows the length of their individual days, but if you start this pattern today, just imagine how many kind deeds you will be able to squeeze in before you leave here!
"I expect to pass through life but once.
If therefore, there be any kindness I can show,
or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now,
and not defer or neglect it,
as I shall not pass this way again."
There is an expiration date on every window of opportunity.
Seize and take full advantage of every chance to be kind.
It is contagious.
Once you try it and realize how good it feels,
you won't want to stop at just one random act of kindness per day.
Soon, it will become your normal way of life.
6. Extend grace periods.
Haven't we all needed one of those at least once in our lifetime?
For a bill that was due before we had the money to pay it?
When we were unavoidably hindered in doing something we said we would do?
When we got in the wrong lane on the interstate and needed to make a quick change?
Instead of cutting people off so quickly,
give others the benefit of the doubt when you don't understand their actions.
Assume the best of them, until proven otherwise.
Cut them the same amount of slack you long for
when you make a mistake and need a season of grace.
Don't be so quick to write them off and automatically assume the absolute worst.
Lots of things can happen in between the moment someone makes a promise
and the moment they are able to keep it.
Have mercy, for goodness sake.
One of the best gifts you can offer someone else is to forgive their wrongdoing.
Forgiveness will quench fires of contention.
Haven't we all needed forgiveness?
Who among us will never need it again?
Grudges are heavy burdens.
Forgive to the degree and at the speed you long to be forgiven.
Instead of perpetuating the disagreement and discord, be the bigger person, and just let it go.
8. Supply the needs.
As you are able, use your excess to bless.
Donate money, extra clothing, shoes, food items, blankets, linens, and household goods directly to those who need them or to charities that will pass them on FREE of charge.
Volunteer your time to serve at a homeless shelter or Gospel mission.
Jesus said, "Freely ye have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8
"Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren,
ye have done it unto Me." Matthew 25:40
Kevin doesn't like to be bragged on or exalted.
He lives his life in a generous, compassionate, caring, altruistic way, without the necessity of fanfare.
While I deeply respect his need for anonymity and lack of publicity,
I am compelled to insert something here that he does on a regular basis.
He prays before he goes in the grocery store that God will lead him to someone to bless.
God knows who needs help the most, and Kevin relies on that fact.
As God leads, he prayerfully and gently approaches the one(s) God directs him to,
and he offers to buy their groceries.
Oh, the stories he could tell...if he weren't so modest about it.
One thing I will tell you is that no one has ever turned down or been offended by his offer.
Zach and I love hearing about his adventures in blessing others after he returns from the store.
I think this is the part of grocery shopping he enjoys the most.
9. Suspend judgment.
It really isn't our business or duty to be the judge of others.
In fact, Jesus commanded that we don't judge one another at all.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged." Matthew 7:1
Pretty plain, straightforward, and easy to understand words.
Jesus' message is like that.
Critical, judgmental behavior is horribly evil.
It is not Christlike.
It has turned many a soul away from Jesus and all He is and all He longs to do in their life.
Judgmental behavior is ugly and offensive and off-putting.
When a woman was brought to Jesus who was caught in the very act of adultery,
He, the only true, righteous, and rightful Judge,
had every reason and justification to condemn her on the spot.
The self-righteous, legalistic Pharisees thought they had done something big and religious
by pointing out her sin and airing her dirty laundry on the public square.
They stood there with a sense of pride and self-gratification, even glee, stones in hand,
waiting with baited breath for the Son of God to dole out the severest of punishments,
giving them the green light to start slinging their rocks.
Jesus' reaction must have shocked them to their holier-than-thou cores.
He said nothing...at first
Instead, He stooped down and wrote something in the dust on the ground.
Wouldn't you pay money to know what He wrote?
We've all heard theories, one of which includes the thought that maybe He was writing their names,
along with the sins THEY had committed and were hiding.
None of us know for sure.
Whatever it was, it was profound...as was every word and action of Jesus.
When He was finished, He said this,
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." John 8:7
Do we comprehend the volumes He spoke here?
We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.
This is a Biblical fact. Romans 3:23
So, basically, we are all on an even playing field, right?
We are all fallen beings, who come miserably short of God's perfection and holiness.
Those who think themselves to be exalted and elevated above others are desperately deceived.
None of us have any right to judge anyone else.
God will take care of it.
"But why dost thou judge thy brother?
Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?
For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ."
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ;
that every one may receive the things done in his body,
according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
2 Corinthians 5:10
We would do well to leave all judging to the Judge.
10. Look beyond exteriors.
Open the book, before you automatically decide you don't like it.
Why does a person's skin color create such assumptions?
Why do we automatically prejudge another person based on their outward appearance?
Did not the Lord God create us all?
Do we not all look the same on the inside?
Aren't we all brothers and sisters in the body of Christ?
It is time to stop the hate.
To stop thinking the worst of one another, based solely upon the hue of our skin tone,
denominational label/"group or sect affiliation", quality of clothing, or financial status.
To put an end to the hate-filled behavior and overcome it with Divine love.
Jesus died on the cross for all of us, and there is no respect of persons with God.
It shouldn't exist among us, as Christ's earthly body, either.
Shame on us if it does.
11. Infuse positive change.
Be Jesus' hands and feet.
Love as He loves.
Be moved with compassion as He is moved.
Go about doing good, as He did. (Acts 10:38)
Leave every situation better than you found it.
Take someone under your wing.
Be a mentor to a motherless or fatherless child.
Adopt a family this Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.
Go up to bat for those who need a human advocate.
Become an intercessory prayer warrior on behalf of someone who has no one to pray for them.
Stand in the gap for those who have no spiritual connection with God.
Repent for the sins of our nation.
Place a gift card in an envelope with your pastor's name on it, & leave it on his seat at church.
Discreetly and quietly pay for another family's restaurant meal, as you pay for your own.
Give your waiter/waitress an extra-large, much-deserved tip.
Take a trash bag to the dumpster for an overworked janitor.
Smile at the sourest person you know.
Slip a $20 bill into the backpack of an underprivileged child.
Call your Mom and/or Dad.
Volunteer at a nursing home.
Send a gift bag laden with goodies for your child's Sunday School teacher with him to class.
Read to a blind person.
Text your spouse just to say I LOVE YOU.
Take a meal to an overworked Mom.
Put quarters in every wash machine in the laundromat.
Ask the person in front of you in line at the grocery store to allow you to buy their groceries.
Leave a tract that shares the good news of the Gospel in a bathroom stall.
Spend a whole day doing nothing except what your child wants to do.
Go to the electric company and anonymously pay someone's heating bill this winter.
Shovel a neighbor's sidewalk.
Say thank you to a motel maid, and prove your gratitude by leaving an adequate tip in your room.
Remove motel sheets and trash bags and gather linens into a pile before checking out.
Commend good service to management wherever you go.
Send an unexpected, "just because" package to an out-of-state child in your life.
Leave an unexpected, "just because" package outside the door of your own child's room.
Mow the grass for your husband.
Bake or buy a sugar-free dessert for a diabetic friend or relative.
Have a pizza delivered to the parents of a new baby.
Make a goodie basket for an elderly person at church.
Give up one meal each week to fast for spiritual awakening in our country.
Together, let's turn the tide.
Let's make this happen.
Let's stay occupied until Jesus comes!
Let's be the change.
Let's let our light shine...into the dark sadness and gloom of our present world.
You brighten your corner, and I promise to do my utmost to brighten mine.
Every little light counts.
Now for an update on Makeya and Max Brown, by their Mommy, Shyla....
but first a video of the little guy!
Doesn't it just bless you to see how far he has come?
All glory to God!!!
they saw that he still had some spots on his lungs where it is still a little collapsed behind his heart, but it is better.
The vest treatments seem to be helping, and he is doing good.
He will have another test on his bladder to see if he may have to have yet another procedure,
so just keep praying."
"Max is doing a lot better....Tuesday when Max had his test done, Keya also had a urology appointment, and the same test was done on her. The results for both came back today. Max's looked great. As of right now, nothing needs to be done. Keya's on the other hand, was not so good. They are going to do a few more test on her next week, and they may, depending on what these next 2 tests say, have to take her back in to the operating room. Nothing major. They will just run a camera up into her bladder and use needles to do a botox to her bladder to relax the muscles in it. If this has to be done, she will get to come home the same day. This procedure won't help her long term though, if she continues to have spasms, so they may or may not have to do something else when she gets older. Plz cont to pray for my babies."
Please don't ever forget to keep Max, Makeya, Steven and Shyla, in your constant prayers.
To read previous posts about the Brown Family,
click ORIGINAL POST,
and 1ST UPDATE,
and 2ND UPDATE,
and 3RD UPDATE,
and 4TH UPDATE,
and 5TH UPDATE,
and 6TH UPDATE,
and 7TH UPDATE,
and 8TH UPDATE,
and 9TH UPDATE.
and 10TH UPDATE,and 11TH UPDATE,
and 12TH UPDATE,
and 13TH UPDATE,
and 14TH UPDATE,
and 15TH UPDATE,
and 16TH UPDATE,
and 17TH UPDATE,
and 18TH UPDATE,
and 19TH UPDATE,
and 20TH UPDATE,
and 21ST UPDATE
and 22ND UPDATE.)
and 22ND UPDATE.)
If anyone would like to send the Brown family a card of encouragement,
please contact me, and I will provide the mailing address to you, individually.
If anyone would like to make a monetary donation to this family,
there are two ways to donate.
1. An account has been set up for this purpose at a local bank.
Please mail donations to:
Citizen's Deposit Bank & Trust
P. O. Box 9
Vanceburg, KY 41179
Please write "For Brown Family" on the memo line of check.
2. You may donate online by clicking HERE.