“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.

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).

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 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 & Ezra 2:

God the Author of Human History

 

historyThe 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

December 14 “God’s unstoppable plans”

God's unstoppable plansYou can trust in God’s unstoppable plans even when you are criticized, passed over, or treated unfairly. No plan of His can be thwarted and He allows nothing into our lives that He can’t and won’t use for good.

 

 

 

Today’s Readings:
Amos 4-7
Psalm 141.5-10
Proverbs 29.26
Revelation 4.1-11

Well, we are nearing the end of our journey on “the Bible bus” as J. Vernon McGee used to call it. I’d love to know how reading through the Bible has impacted you. Please take a few minutes and let me know. What has been your favorite book so far? What has changed in your life? How have you been able to apply what you are learning (the most important question of all)?

Are you already thinking about this coming year? I know I am. Every year is an exciting adventure in knowing God better through His Word! I’ll continue these “read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year” posts and I’ll be adding some new things. First, there will be more topical posts. And there will be two new regular features: “Wisdom Wednesdays” (a study from Proverbs) and “Bite-Sized Theology Thursdays” (a study in the basics of the Christian faith in simple, everyday language). Sign up to receive “Bible in a Year” emails and/or “Christian Living” emails to receive all the other posts.

On to the magnificent Word …

 

cows on fieldsAmos 4-7:

You cows of Bashan!

Amos was written primarily to the Northern tribes (Samaria) during a time of relative peace and prosperity. In chapter 4 Amos begins by addressing the women of Samaria addressing them “you cows of Bashan.” Wow, that’s pretty harsh!

The problem was that these women were living in luxury and encouraging their husbands to focus on material prosperity. Verse 1, “Who say to your husbands, ‘Bring wine, let us drink!’” And they had no regard for those less fortunate, “Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy …”

As wives and mothers and sisters, we have much more influence over our families than we think or like to admit. Are we acting like the “cows of Bashan”? What is our focus? Are we saying we want our husbands to be godly leaders and our sons to grow up to be godly men … all the while putting our focus on material things, pushing them to get a better job, more education, and provide more “stuff”?

Or do we encourage them to consider the spiritual implications of a job or career first and foremost? Will it allow them time to serve the Lord? Will having that bigger house make it difficult for us to give to the work of God? How do our lifestyles, our careers, and our goals fit with God’s plans and purposes? Whose agenda are we on, His or ours?

And husbands, are you leading your wives in this area? You are to wash us with the water of the Word (Eph. 5.26), pray for us, help us to grow spiritually, and lead by example.

Matthew 6 says:

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Where is your treasure and therefore your heart?

 

finger pointingPsalm 141.5-10:

Receiving criticism

Chapter 141.5, “Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it.”

Proverbs 27.6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

How do you respond to criticism? Do you welcome it, taking it to God and asking Him to show you how you need to grow and change? Or do you get defensive and choose to be offended? God can even use ungodly, unfair criticism for our good if we will take it to Him and ask Him to show us any element of truth in it. Continue reading

November 27 “Responding to an unreasonable spouse”

arguing argumentHow are we to respond to mistreatment, harshness or a lack of loving behavior, especially from a spouse?

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 45 & 46
Psalm 135.1-7
Proverbs 29.8
1 Peter 3.1-22

 

Ezekiel 45 & 46:

The Millennial Temple

As we are nearing the end of this book, the prophet lays out the plans for the Millennial Temple. Be sure to read John MacArthur’s notes about the presence of sin during the Millennium.

 

Psalm 135.1-7:

All for our good & His glory

Verse 6, “Whatever the Lord pleases He does …”

Our God is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), everywhere-present (omnipresent), and in control of everything! Just to name a few of His characteristics!

He alone is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. And everything He has allowed in our lives He has allowed for our good and His glory! Nothing happens by accident. He will use difficult circumstances, trials, even the sins of others for good if we will keep our eyes on Him and respond in a God-honoring way. No person, thing, or circumstance can make you or me sin (1 Cor. 10.13). Instead, we can call on God to enable us to respond in a way that leads to peace and brings Him glory (Rom. 12.17-21). Continue reading

July 11 “When mistreated or falsely accused”

How do you respond when you’re falsely accused or mistreated? Do you respond with anger and bitterness, or with praise and humble trust?

Falsely accused

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 17 & 18
Psalm 81.11-16
Proverbs 20.26-28
Acts 16.22-40

2 Chronicles 17 & 18:

Tell us what we want to hear

Ahab and Jehoshaphat are about to go out into battle, and Jehoshaphat suggests they seek God’s wisdom. Instead, Ahab calls in 400 of his own counselors. Finally, at Jehoshaphat’s insistence, he sends for the prophet of God. All the pagan prophets had prophesied victory, and Ahab’s servant tells the prophet of God:

“Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Therefore please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement” (18.12).

stop

Basically, just tell us what we want to hear!

How like the world today! “Don’t tell us our lifestyle is wrong! Don’t tell us we’re heading for disaster if we don’t repent! In fact, we want you to, not just accept our choices, we want you to embrace them and admit that they are just as right as yours!”

As Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun!

Continue reading