“It is not an enemy who taunts me— I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me— I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.” Psalms 55:12-14 NLT
Have you ever experienced betrayal from a close friend and fellow church goer? I sure have! The sting is deep and the pain is almost unbearable. Attacks from an enemy are expected but an attack from a comrade is a blindside. After all, our friends are supposed to have our backs, not stab us in the back. Sure, a friend is someone who will speak the truth to us even if it hurts, but this doesn't mean that they turn on us.
“Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6 NLT Sadly, this has happened many times over the course of history. Listen to the heart cry of the Apostle Paul when He was in his final days: “Timothy, please come as soon as you can. Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:9-11 NLT “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm, but the Lord will judge him for what he has done. Be careful of him, for he fought against everything we said. The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:14-18 NLT We cannot expect to live in this world without experiencing the fallen nature of humanity. I hate to say it this way, but it's par for the course. People will abandon us, disappoint us, slander us, attack us, and the list goes on. Let's face the facts: not everyone who runs this race will finish it. There will be those who lose their way and their lives will become a casualty. The pain and anguish that come our way is common to a fallen existence. We must remember our orders and stay the course, no matter what!! Listen to the great hall of faith chapter of Hebrews 11: “How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:32-38 NLT Our eyes must be fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ!! “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT
No matter what happens, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and finish the course He has laid out for us. “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 NLT Heaven is waiting! The sidelines are lined with saints of the ages who are cheering us on. “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NLT
Rev. Curtis Norris