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Spreading the love of Jesus...the Cowboy Way!

      “There's no enemy quite as bitter as a friend who's turned against you.”

                    --Elmer Kelton  (Jericho's Road)

       "Rise, let us be going.  See, My betrayer is at hand."
                    --Matthew 26:46 (NKJV)
"Beware the Ides of March," so said the soothsayer to Julius Caesar, at least according to Shakespeare.  If you have read the play you know that this is the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated by the mob, led by his friend Brutus.  Brutus the betrayer.
     If you read Dante's, "The Divine Comedy," especially the section known as "The Inferno," you will find that it was Dante who depicted different levels of hell.  Whether there are or not has led to much speculation and discussion, but it does lead to interesting reading, and it is thought provoking.  I do want to point out the lowest, deepest, most foul level, according to Dante, is that in which he placed, or saw, the most despicable sinners--Brutus and Judas.  Both are known as the greatest betrayers in history.  Hmmm, wait a minute, that would leave room for one more, the greatest betrayer of all--Lucifer.
     Let me show you another betrayer; the one who betrays himself.  James speaks of the hearer of the word, "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was." (James 1:23-24, NKJV).  Many students that I knew kept a mirror in their locker.  I would ask them why they look at themselves each time they open their locker.  Did they forget what they looked like from the last time?  Perhaps a pimple popped up or they had something stuck in their teeth.  Why is it that we continue to go back to a mirror, is there something we didn't see the first time?  Or is it that the mirror might be betraying us?
     The self-betrayer is a dangerous person.  He can easily ruin his own life by doing so.  Here are some examples of the person who believes lies about themselves.  (Borrowing from Richard Dresselhaus)  
               "I am unloved.  That's a lie.  God loves you...and so do others.  I'm uncertain of my eternal salvation.  That's a long as you are abiding in Christ.  No one can erase your name from the Lamb's book of life.  I am unattractive.  That's a lie.  God made you.  So fix yourself up...and live with confidence.  My life doesn't count.  That's a lie...if you are living a life of obedience to the commands of Jesus.  Life is unfair.  That's a lie.  Live for Jesus...and life is good."
This is a short list, and true, others are deceiving and betraying you by saying these things, but you are betraying yourself by believing them.
     Then I think of the times that I have betrayed the Lord.  It was Judas who betrayed Jesus to the guards.  John writes, "And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples." (18:2, NKJV)  Matthew depicts the scene this way, "And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people." (26:47, NKJV)  Yes, it was Judas, one of the twelve, one who had walked beside Jesus, had shared food with Him, and had slept around the same campfires.  But look at who he brought:  a multitude, the temple guards from the chief priests.  Were they not betrayers as well?  The leaders of the people; the ones to whom the people looked for spiritual guidance sent guards to arrest the only one who could actually do so.  Wasn't that betrayal as well?
     How many times have I promised to do something for the Lord and failed--isn't that betrayal?  How many times have I had to go to prayer in repentance?  Stumbling and falling along the way--the narrow way.  I said I would take up my cross, but there have been times I let it fall, and I pushed it aside.  Betrayal!  But there is something that John wrote; something that we should cling to when this happens, for it is only real betrayal if we grovel in our sins.  It is only betrayal if we do not again pick up our cross.  John said, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9, NKJV)  Betrayal would be if we didn't recognize our sin and did not go to the Master.  "[But] if we acknowledge and agree with God that we are sinners, He is faithful and righteous and will forgive us [of] our sins, and will cleanse us from every kind of iniquity and wrong." (Harbuck)  
     That gives me hope.  We could stay in the dust and boohoo that we failed.  Or as many do, we could try to hide our sin, or say that it wasn't really that big of a deal.  We read in Matthew that Judas was remorseful (27:3-5) but that is where it stopped.  He stopped with remorse and did not continue with repentance.  If we do the same, then we are betrayers as well.
D.C. Adkisson

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