Hello friends, how are you today? How was your weekend? Currently is 30° but feels like 22°, just a tad bit chilly; winter season isn’t quite here yet, by the time January rolls around 30 will be a ‘heat wave’.  We’ve been promised better temperatures throughout the rest of the week, but here, we always expect the unexpected.  For the people, in the southern states, who were affected by the recent snow storm, may your hearts be comforted by a beautiful, loving and gracious God.  Eph 4 32 I am reading the book of Esther, I told you before I love reading about the women of the Bible.    Anyway … I got to Haman’s hatred toward Mordecai in chapters 5 and 6.  I mean he absolutely hated Mordecai.  He was so filled with hatred that he built ‘gallows’ so that he can have him hanged. .  Did you know that during the Persian reign, ‘hanging’ was a kind of impalement on a stake, that was usually left around for the public’s viewing (something, I’m sure, they did not ask for)  so that others would be discouraged from committing the same or a similar offense. Can you imagine having such hatred or being hated to such an extent? In Haman’s defense, he didn’t know the Lord, therefore that’s not surprising. eph 2 8 Yet there are some of us, Christians, who will withhold forgiveness and grace and mercy from others because well… they don’t deserve it.  They’ve not groveled enough; we’ve determined they are not repentant enough.  Do we not understand that with love, patience and grace, mercy and forgiveness must exist? We can’t love others, if we allow anger and bitterness or even sanctimonious self righteousness to control our actions. We know its self righteousness when the Word of God isn’t the standard to cause others to come back to Him.  After all, He does say, in Proverbs 15:1, ‘a soft answer turns away wrath’.  We run to our Lord, we tell Him how we feel, we ask Him to forgive us for harboring these emotions and to replace it with the characteristics that best exemplify Him.  And He does just that!  Matt 11 2930As Christians, the Lord has placed us in His family. He has given us sisters and brothers all over the world, in all walks of life. Some come with a past, that will take some time for the Lord to chisel out and others are still babies in their walk.   Some do not look like us, some don’t talk like us, some do not have the same social status, but still we are a family. In order to live harmoniously in this family, the Lord has given us the same standards across the board. No one is exempted.  No one is entitled in spite of the fact that we may have walked with Him far longer than this other person.  The Lord continues to extend much grace and mercy to us, leaving us without excuse when it’s our turn.   Gal 6 10When the girls were younger and constantly bickered with each other, I remember sharing a saying with them that my mom told us, when we were kids ourselves.  If we can’t get along with our siblings, we really can’t get along with anyone else.  If we can’t treat our siblings with the care and compassion with which we’ve been taught and tasked, then the world truly is lost.  We are a family; let’s treat each other with respect and gentleness, regardless of where they are spiritually.  Believe it or not, no one is perfect; we are all subject to falling short of the glory of God. Rom 5 8 We all need to remember BUT GOD… Sin is against God, not against man.  He forgives sin and takes it as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103: 12).  He sent His Son to take our sins and pay the price and stand in our place for something He never did.  Yet He gently draws us back to Himself, when we fall short.  Do we think we are better than God? Who gave us the right to abuse verbally or use our keyboards to beat other sisters and brothers until we draw blood; certainly not the God who freely forgave our sins and continue to do so still today.  Rom 3 23  God called me to teach, He didn’t call everyone.  He tasked us with kids, He didn’t call every family.  He called us to homeschool, He didn’t call everyone, and He called us to serve in our local churches in our specific ways, it may not look like the roles of everyone else.  He’s called me to work with both kids and ladies; these are specific to me, not everyone. I don’t have the right to place everyone in my box and say that the Lord’s will.  That’s His will for my life; it may not even be His will for my kids. One thing that never changes; God commands us love everyone. Love shows itself in our actions.james 2 10Let’s choose to be kind to each other.  Let’s choose to encourage and build up each other.  Let’s choose to take our hurt and our pain that others have perhaps done against us to the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Let’s tell Him of our pain.  Surely this Just God is able do battle for us.  Let’s choose to stand in the gap for others.  Let’s choose prayer instead of strife. I heard today, real strength does not come from pushing people down but rather strength is shown when we build each other up.  After all, what do we have to lose, when we obey the Word of God?  james 1 2We have been called to ‘warn them that are unruly’ but that must come with much grace and mercy, knowing that we could be next.  Really… How are you doing? What are your goals for next year? closing1brenda