“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” —Acts 20:24 ESV

Paul was a masterful communicator and loved God passionately. In Acts 20, Paul affirmed that he “ … did not shrink from declaring … anything that was profitable and teaching in public and from house to house” (vs. 20 ESV). Then, knowing he did not have long to live, Paul confessed his only reason for existing was “ … to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (vs. 24b ESV). Paul was harassed, beaten, and imprisoned for the gospel, yet he persevered and finished the course. Will I?

An email arrived recently that made me pause. It accused my husband and I of having religious gatherings in our house as if that were a crime or misdemeanor. At first, I wasn’t sure how to respond. We were taken off guard, and I asked myself, “Do we have religious gatherings?” I suppose. We host Bible studies and invite our life group to our home twice a month. However, they are family gatherings, not “religious” ones. In any case, it’s not against the law. So, we decided not to address the topic of the “gatherings” but rather to speak to the intention. Since the email was inappropriate and intended to provoke anger, my husband wrote in his short reply that we would not be responding to the accusations. He was concise, sweet, winsome, and pointed.

So, here we are in the season of thanksgiving, swatting at flies sent by the “lord of flies.” And yet, it is something to be thankful for because it has provoked us to pray. The drip, drip, dripping of the waters of rejection haven’t driven us mad; they have propelled us into the holy of holies. Understand. I am human. Anger swelled up. I was tempted to respond like Peter and “cut off their ears” with words. But God. He died for me while I was still a sinner. I had once rejected God, too.

At this time, God showed me three verses from His Word.

The first verse: “ … If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31b NASB). What an earth-shattering truth. If a holy, all-powerful, loving God is my good Father, who or what could I possibly fear? No one. I can stand firm against the enemy’s fiery arrows because God stands before me. I am covered.

The second verse: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 NIV). This is upside-down living. Everything in my flesh wants to retaliate and defend myself. But in my spirit, I am brokenhearted and moved to pray for my enemies. This is not easy. But I remember when I was God’s enemy. I remember my pettiness and judgment, and someone prayed for me.

The third verse: “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day, he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10 NIV). This verse convicted me of sin. Pride and anger are distant relatives no one wants at a Thanksgiving celebration. I had to revoke their invitation and cast all my anxiety, anger, and pride onto the Lord, allowing His Word to cut them to pieces on the altar. Afterward, praise and thanksgiving flowed from my lips!

Through these three verses, God told me to keep going. “Don’t let the enemy distract you from what you have always done.”

Since we live in a country where the right to worship is protected, nothing will come of our unwanted email. Someday, however, that may not be the case. Even then, God is worthy of my devotion. Ironically, the very thing the enemy wanted to snuff out has ignited a flame of prayer.

Father, Your holiness and goodness overpower my emotions and usher me into the Holy of Holies. Thank You for allowing this harassment and provoking me to pray and not to retaliate. Fill me with compassion for others who mindlessly reject You. I pray for the writer of the email and all who reject you. Soften their hearts and open their eyes to the beauty of the gospel. Reveal their sin and usher them into the refining fire of forgiveness. Cover them with the blood of Jesus. In His precious name, Amen.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and
peace in believing, that you may abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13 NJKV).

Marlene McKenna



Sweet Selah Ministries

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.





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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Margaret Fowler
    November 13, 2023 11:21 pm

    Thank you Marlene, your thoughts are always inspiring. It is hard to be judged, but a good reminder to show compassion, at all times.

  • Marlene, thank you for this!!! Clearly you are doing something right. People are sitting up and taking notice. Praise God! His Word goes out and it never comes back void. Even when His Word may not be heard but will be seen, in this case, a well loved home for well loved “family”. Persevere! God is good. You are so loved!!!!


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