“Loving Your Enemies” July 20

 

Loving Your Enemies

What do you value more—your rights when abused and mistreated or the eternal destiny of your abuser? Like Christ we are called to love our enemies.

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 1 & 2
Psalm 86.6-10
Proverbs 21.15-16
Acts 21.18-40

 

Loving Your Enemies

 

Acts 21.18-40:

Paul’s Eternal Focus

 

What an incredible example of boldness in the face of intense persecution! Paul had just been beaten by a mob. It says they were, “seeking to kill him.” After he was rescued, he asked the soldiers if he could address his abusers and then he began to share his testimony and to prepare their hearts for the gospel.

Like Christ who died for us when we were His enemies, he was more concerned about their spiritual destiny than any harm done to him.

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matt. 5.44).

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Phil. 2.3-4).

Like Paul and Jesus, we need to resolve to keep our focus, not on any wrongs done to us, but on others’ need for a Savior!

That doesn’t mean that those who abuse physically, sexually, or in any other way should be allowed to continue illegal or immoral behavior. But even when the right thing to do is to report a crime or in some other way allow the abuser to suffer the consequences of his actions, the focus of our hearts should be eternal, forgiving them, trusting God in our own lives, and praying for their salvation.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezra 1 & 2:

God the Author of Human History

 

The book of Ezra picks up where 2 Chronicles left off, with a pagan king named Cyrus sending the captives who wanted to return, back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.

Verse 1 says, “that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled …”

God was orchestrating the course of human events. History is His-story.

And just as God is in control of the events of human history, He is in control of our individual histories, as well.  Continue reading

“Responding to Persecution, Criticism & Rejection” May 1

 

How to Respond to PersecutionPersecution, mistreatment, and rejection will come.

Sometimes it comes, not in ways that threaten our lives, but from our own family members and friends. It hurts to be left out of family events or called self-righteous.

Yes … persecution and mistreatment will come. How can we be sure that God will give us the grace, ability and right words to say when we’re faced with it?

First, we shouldn’t be surprised by it! Instead, let’s see it as an occasion for sharing our testimonies and the truth about God. Let’s see it as an opportunity to walk in love and leave justice in the hands of God.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 4 & 5
Psalm 54.1-7
Proverbs 15.12-13
Luke 21.1-19

 

Responding to Persecution, Criticism & Mistreatment

 

1 Samuel 4 & 5:

God is Always at Work

 

Here we have another sad time in Israel’s history where God withdrew His immediate presence and protection from them because of their willful disobedience and idolatry. But this narrative leaves no doubt that even when people may not make the connection, God is always at work in the affairs of men.

That is true today, as well as, in Old Testament times. I once read that the word “history” actually means “His-story” and I certainly believe that’s true. So the question is, “What is God doing today?” How does everything that’s happening in our world—whether politics, wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or other world events, play into His plan and purpose?

He is there in the blessing and protection, but also in the withdrawing of blessing and protection.

That leads right into our Luke passage, so we’ll go there next.

 

Luke 21.1-19:

He Is Coming

 

pointing to heaven

 

This portion of Scripture, like Matthew 24, Mark 13 and other passages, talks about many of the events that point to Christ’s eminent return. Many of these things appear to be happening today, pointing to the possibility that He’ll be coming back soon. So,  what can we expect and what did Jesus say we should be doing if that’s true?

 

 

A Time of Testing & Persecution

 

Verses 12-13, “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, … But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.”

We should expect to be persecuted, do not be surprised by it! Instead of being upset or complaining, we should see it as an occasion for sharing our testimony and the truth about God.

13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed (1 Pet. 3.13-16).

If that sounds scary and you think, “I don’t know enough” or “I might mess it up,” remember verses 14 and 15:

“Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.”

That should be comforting and extremely encouraging.

Expect opposition even from your own family:  Continue reading