Friday, February 12, 2010

Lessons I learned from my friend Judas

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”  - Luke 6:21

HMMMM!  It is hard to imagine a smile coming to my face when I am going through something that hurts so much.  However, I have learned there does come a time when the hurt is gone and the smiles and laughter return.  But  I also learned some other lessons along the way that I would like to share with you.    I hope they will be a blessing to you and that they will be refreshing water to your dry and thirsty  soul.

1.  Jesus knows your pain – He’s been there done that before.  There is not a single pain or hurt you will ever experience that Jesus did not or will not feel.  He has gone through the very same trials as we have.  Imagine, one He called friend and one who was part of His inner circle betrayed Him, the Savior and the  One who was going to die for him.  Jesus knows your pain. 

2.  We too can be a “Judas.”  We have what it takes to be a Judas with nothing to stop us from hurting and betraying someone we say we love.  The only way we cannot become “Judas-like” is to be “Christ-like” and choose to do the right thing, which means putting others before self by thinking before you act.

3. When we are betrayed, it is our choice to – use this experience as an opportunity in which to learn and grow, or, allow it to be an obstacle which will hinder us in our relationships with others and with our Lord.  If we choose to use it as opportunity to grow and learn from it, we can be assured that this experience will not be wasted.  It will be used someday in the future perhaps to help someone else who has been hurt or betrayed, and needs to hear that someone does understand and that there is hope  of being made whole once again.

4.  Restoration of a broken and shattered relationship can happen.  Again, if we choose it as an opportunity, our Lord can take what is broken and make it something beautiful, many times being even more beautiful than it once was.  If you are willing, then God is able.  It is your choice.

5.  Love your Judas and be willing to forgive if your Judas comes to you with Godly sorrow and a repentant heart.  Love keeps no record of wrongs as 1 Corinthians 13 teaches.  Jesus gave us the perfect example of how to love our own personal Judas.  He loved him until the very end.  We also know from the Scriptures that we are told to love your enemies.  Something caught my eye this morning in Luke 6:27-28 which says –”But I say to you who hear; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you.”   The part that caught my eye was the part of “those who spitefully use you.”  Many times our hurts and betrayals come from people who were using us all along and we never realized it.  When the disciples heard that one of them was going to betray Him, each asked if it was he.   They did not realize it was Judas.  He had them deceived and so  were we.   Most times our Judas is not obvious.  They are very good at deceiving.   I  believe what hurts the most, is that you think they really love you as they say, but  then you realize they were just using you.  Whether we like it or not, we are told that we need to pray for them.  So pray, we must.   Join with me and let us pray for our Judases and watch God go to work. 

6.  The last item I want to mention is to be prayerful about whether or not to end your relationship with your Judas.  Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and direct your decision.  There are some relationships that must come to end for many different reasons.  Yet, there are some that the Lord will want you to stay in so that He can go to work fixing what is broken and making it something beautiful, something which only He can do. 

These are just some of the lessons that I have learned.  Was it easy?  Absolutely not!  Would I choose to experience something like that again?  Absolutely not!  There are more lessons that I’ve learned  and I’m sure that many of you have also learned some lessons along the way.  Will you share yours  here on the blog  so that we can all learn together and grow from them?   If you decide to share, please don’t mention anyone by name.  We are here to help and to build up, not to hurt and beat up.
I will be honest with you; I would never want anyone to ever  experience an act of betrayal.  I hope you, like me, will be determined to never be a Judas.  We are called to be “Christ-like” in all we do not “Judas'-like” therefore, let’s take Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 11:1 and do as he says - “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. 

I pray that these hard-learned lessons have been a help to you and will act as a reminder that we do have a choice when we are hurt or betrayed.   Hurt can cause us to do many things that we otherwise would not do, so be on guard against the Judas that lives inside each one of us, and who wants to come out and strike back.    Instead, go and find yourself a place to be alone with our Lord and spill your heart and anger out to Him.  Allow Him to comfort you and dry those tears.  His arms are open wide while He waits for His daughter who is hurting to come to her Papa for the love and comfort she so desperately needs.  Run to Papa my dear sister and do not look back but look straight into the face of your Heavenly Father.  Remember, He knows your pain and there is nothing  He desires more than to turn your ashes into something beautiful. 

Isaiah 61:2b – 3 says - “to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness...”  

As we mourn over the hurt and betrayal of a relationship, God promises us that He will give us beauty for ashes and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to hold on to a spirit of heaviness.  I will gladly trade in my ashes for something beautiful.  What about you? 

Betrayed but no longer broken,

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Have you met my friend Judas?

Have you met my friend Judas? I am sure you have. Oh, he’s your friend too. I thought so. I had a sneaky suspicion of such. Therefore, now that it’s clear that we share the same friend I think for the purpose of this blog I’m going to use the word “her” or “she” since most of my readers are women.

Judas! She’s the one who says she’s your friend. She may not be your “best friend” but a friend nonetheless. She’s one that may be in your closest circle of friends; or one who is the closest to you at work; or maybe she co-labors with you at church doing kingdom work. Somewhere in your sphere of life, she is there and she is more than just an acquaintance, she’s someone you consider a friend. At least you thought she was. Until one day, you find out that she has betrayed you. Yep, you can’t believe it but she betrayed you and not only once but several times. Oh, she doesn’t know that you know about her betrayal but you do. You found out either by accident, by someone else sharing the good news of her betrayal with you, or as God would have it, through a spirit of discernment that puts two and two together and it equals betrayal.

Betrayal is a harsh sounding word isn’t it? Nevertheless, it is what it is. And it hurts. I mean after all, she’s supposed to be a friend so what would lead her to do this? Why couldn’t she just come to you and talk to you instead of going to others? Good questions. I can offer some suggestions such as, envy, jealousy, she wants to look good in the eyes of others, she needs the approval of people, insecurity, she wants to see you fail; she’s sick and tired of you getting all the praise. The list goes on and on doesn’t it? I bet you can add a few more reasons why someone has betrayed you.

A while back, our pastor finished a three-week series on “FRIENDS”. He mentioned several characteristics that should be evident in a friend. Betrayal wasn’t one of them. Hmmm! Yet, we see that quality more than we would like in people who call themselves friends.

As you can imagine, I have been a recipient of betrayal. Oh, yes, it hurt. In addition, it caused me some anger and bitterness. The saddest thing that came out of it was that I have lost the trust and respect for that person, which is something that will take a long to be restored. However, I know that our God is in the business of restoration and that all things are possible through Him. So I am trusting Him to do just that in His time and in His way.

I got to thinking though about Jesus and Judas. Judas was part of Jesus’ inner circle. He spent night and day with Him for three plus years. Yet time after time, He betrayed the One who was going to lay down His life for him. In His humanness, I am sure that just like us; Jesus was hurt by the betrayal. Yet, He never stopped loving Judas. He loved Him right up until the end. Knowing that Judas was going to betray Him, Jesus still washed his feet. What would you do if you knew that someone in your inner circle was going to betray you? Would you wash their feet? Would you continue to love them?

It was in the Garden, where Jesus spent His last free hours agonizing in spirit that his friend, Judas, one of his closest friends and part of His inner circle, would betray Him. We see it told in Matthew 26 verses 48 through 50. We see Judas telling the chief priests and elders of the people that the one he kisses, He is the one; seize Him. Immediately, he goes up to Jesus, says, “Greetings, Rabbi!”, and kissed Him. The literal translation is that he kissed him repeatedly. Why? For identification purposes. He wanted to be sure that they got their man. Imagine Jesus and what He must have felt to see His betrayer face to face once again, but this time he was with those who would see to it that Jesus was crucified in just a few hours. What does He do? What would you do? It’s bad enough to have someone betray you behind your back, but to experience it face to face would be more than I can bear. However, that was not the case for Jesus. He calls him friend. Even after being betrayed, He calls him friend. Jesus never stopped loving Him. He was ready to die for him.

After I thought about Jesus and Judas, I realized that my Lord knows exactly how I feel for He experienced the same thing. That brought such a comfort and peace to me that those feelings of anger and bitterness are gone. Praise be to God for what Satan meant for harm God means for good. He will bring good even out of a betrayal all for His glory.

The lesson for those who have been betrayed by someone who is supposed to be a friend, is to remember that Jesus knows your pain and allow Him to help you release those hurts to Him. Remember, if someone has betrayed you, they have betrayed our Lord. They will have to answer to Him. This is something we as Christians lose sight of way too often, that when we sin, we forget that in reality we are sinning against God. The Prodigal realized that he sinned not only against his father, but heaven as well. Our Heavenly Father knows how to handle our hurts so leave it in His hands and rest assured that HE will handle it in His own way and in His own time.

The Word is clear that another lesson for us is to continue to love our “enemies.” If they aren’t our friends as we thought and have betrayed us, then they are truly are enemies. Yet we are to love them. Remember, love is a verb; it’s an action, not that “oooey goooey” feeling. Don't wait until you "feel" like you can love them or that time may never come. Read 1 Cor. 13 for a better understanding of what love is according to God.

Jesus never gave up on His Judas and I won’t give up on mine, how about you?

The last thing I want to say is that whatever you do, do not be a Judas. Remember the times of being betrayed, how you felt, the hurt and the tears caused by someone you considered a friend. Take a stand against the beckoning call of Satan to turn against someone close to you. Stand strong in your spirit and seek God's wisdom of how to handle your situation so that your friendship remains intact. And remember, when we sin against or hurt each other, we are sinning against and hurting our Lord.

It is my prayer that as we read about Judas and Jesus' response to him, that we too will learn how to love those who betray us. Zechariah 4:6 tells us how to do that - "not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord Almighty." You cannot love someone on your own. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is your helper.

Lean on Him to overcome those hurts and allow Him to wipe away your tears. It's for those tears He died.

In Christ’s love,