But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44 ESV
This morning the world is in shock after yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Paris. Last night and today, seemly endless images of the dead and wounded fill our screens. Updates chronicling the carnage clog news-feeds and talking heads on the news channels speculate as to who is responsible.
In times like these thoughts of fear, hatred and revenge can easily fill our minds. Such thoughts are only natural. Yet, we have been commanded by our Lord and Savior to think and act differently. Radically different. Supernaturally different. Divinely different.
It’s natural to think thoughts of revenge. Jesus Christ commands us to “pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:28.
It’s natural to curse those who curse you. Jesus Christ commands us to “bless those who curse you.” Luke 6:28.
It’s natural to dislike those who hate you. Jesus Christ commands us to proactively “do good to those who hate you.” Luke 6:27.
It’s natural to strike back when punched in the face. Jesus Christ commands us to “offer the other [cheek] also.” Luke 6:29.
Lord, I am tempted to hate my enemy. I am tempted to think thoughts of vengeance and retribution. Forgive me. I beseech you to empower me through your Spirit to love those who hate me. To pray for those who persecute me. To turn the other cheek when struck. Lord, I ask you to eradicate my thoughts of revenge and to forgive me for failing to bless those who curse me.
Editorial note: Originally published November 14, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 ESV
As Christians it is our privilege to meet together each Lord’s Day to remember our Lord Jesus Christ through the symbolism of bread and wine. Before partaking of the bread and wine, however, Paul cautions us to first examine ourselves to ensure we partake in a worthy manner.
Are you harboring unconfessed sin? Do you have feelings of bitterness or even hatred towards a fellow believer? If so, confess them to the Lord and then partake of the Supper.
One last thought: Paul instructs each person to examine himself. He does not instruct us to examine and judge each other!
Editorial note: Originally published November 8, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com
Commenting on Psalm 137:9 and the Imprecatory Psalms in general:
The language is exactly suited to souls under the law; but now are we under grace, and no longer under law, and we pray for persons that despitefully use us and persecute us; whereas the whole tone of the Psalms, where they speak of the happiness of dashing the children of Babylon against the stone, is anything but returning good for evil: it is evil meeting with its just doom. I maintain that every word in the Psalms is of God — that all these imprecations are divine. Each curse, threat, and warning, all this sympathy with divine retribution, is as much from God as the Christian’s now interceding for his enemies; but they are not suited to the same time nor the same persons, nor is God accomplishing the same end. As long as God carries on the day of grace, all these things are entirely inapplicable. They are not what God is bringing out now. They remain true for ever, each always in itself a right thing. But the fact is, that God has now, in Christ, brought in full, sovereign grace; and therefore God puts those who belong to Christ in a position to show forth, not earthly righteousness, but heavenly grace.
Kelly, William. “Galatians.” Lectures on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians. Galatians. Web. 27 June 2016.
Rend your hearts and not your garments. Joel 2:13 ESV
In the ancient world the intentional tearing apart of one’s clothing signified their soul was in great distress. Joshua tore his clothing after the defeat at Ai (Joshua 7:6), Jacob tore his clothing when he heard the report that his son Joseph had been killed by a wild beast (Genesis 37:34), and King Josiah tore his clothing in repentance when the rediscovered Book of the Law was read to him (2 Chronicles 34:19).
When God sent Joel to warn Israel of His imminent judgement, God told the people to rend their hearts but NOT their clothing. Why? Because God is not interested in a performance, rather He desires genuine, heart felt repentance.
Are you simply going through the motions? Do you simply dress up your outward appearance and give a performance to make yourself look like a fine Christian? This may fool your family and friends but it will never fool God. He is looking for sincerity, not a charade. He is looking for your heart!
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17 ESV
Editorial note: Originally published November 2, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com
Commenting on Ezekiel 17:22-24 ~
Politics always proves to be a washout. Only the return of Christ offers any hope to this sin-drugged world.
MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. Ed. Arthur Farstad. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995. Print.
[King Ahaz] shut up the doors of the house of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 28:24 ESV
[King Hezekiah] opened the doors of the house of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 29:3 ESV
Jesus Christ said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9 ESV. So, what will you do? Will you open the door? Will you open the door and enter in? Or, will you refuse and shut the door?
Open the door and enter in today!
Editorial note: Originally published October 27, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com
Commenting on Acts 20 ~
The model covered the whole time Paul spent in Ephesus, right from the first moment he arrived until he left. That period has already been described in Acts 19:1-20; and if that were the only account of it, we might well have formed the impression that it was two years and three months of the rigorous public preaching of a forceful man, performing extraordinary miracles and achieving triumphant success. What a different side of things the present address paints in. Here is what the work of serving the Lord was really like, and here is the real man who actually did it: marked by humility, often reduced to tears as he faced the plots of the Jews against him (Acts 20:19, 31), and constantly beset with trials. But see his moral courage and generosity: ‘I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you,’ he declares in verse 20; and again in verse 27, ‘For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.’
D.W. Gooding, True To The Faith: Charting The Course Through The Acts Of The Apostles. (Grand Rapids, MI: Gospel Folio Press, 1995), 323.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12 ESV
Have you lost the joy of your salvation?
There are countless reasons why one might lose the joy of their salvation. Sickness, personal loss, death of a loved one, disagreements with other believers are just a few examples of joy killers. David, who wrote Psalm 51, lost the joy of his salvation because of his sinful behavior.
If you have lost the joy of your salvation call out to God as David did! If sin or unbelief has assassinated your joy cry out to God in confession for He will forgive! 1 John 1:9. Has someone stolen your joy because they have wronged you? Then forgive them just as God has forgiven you! Ephesians 4:32. Has loss or sickness drained you of your joy? Then cling to His promises for “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 ESV
Editorial note: Originally published October 15, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com
Commenting on 1 Timothy 5:17:
…the phrase ‘in the word’ suggests the ministry of preaching (see 2 Timothy 4:2), whether the gospel, e.g., Acts 15:7; Ephesians 1:13; cp. 2 Corinthians 5:19; or Scripture in general, e.g., ‘the word of truth,’ 2 Corinthians 6:7; ‘teaching’ suggests instruction from the Scriptures, the unfolding of the word of God. Faithful ministry in either respect is no light matter, it involves the spending of much time in prayerful and thoughtful meditation in the Scriptures, and thus ascertaining the mind of God revealed therein. The feet are to be shod with ‘the preparation’ of the gospel of peace. It involves the presentation of oneself to be ‘approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth’ (2 Timothy 2:15). Anything of a merely mechanical or routine nature, or the handling of Scripture as mere theology, is utterly incompatible with the ‘labor’ here mentioned, and renders such ministry fruitless.
W. E. Vine, Collected Writings of W.E. Vine: 1 Timothy. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1996).
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20 ESV
Recently my son asked me to help him with his math homework. He was having difficulty correctly calculating the total cost of purchasing several hypothetical items. Looking over the problem it quickly became clear what was wrong: he forgot to include sales tax in his calculation. The lesson was clear: failure to include all of the factors in an equation will result in a wrong answer.
When considering the evil acts his brothers perpetrated against him Joseph found purpose and meaning. How? He remembered to include God in his calculation! “But God meant it for good.”
Failure to include all of the factors in a mathematical equation always leads to a wrong answer. Failure to include God in your search for meaning and purpose in life will always result in disappointment and grief.
As you go through your day today remember God has a plan and a purpose for good.
Editorial note: Originally published October 21, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com