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
The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Luke 7:34 ESV
The enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ hurled at Him a seemingly endless barrage of insults and accusations. They accused him of overindulging in food and drink. “He’s a glutton and drunkard!” they shouted. They also accused Him of befriending societal outcasts– tax collectors and sinners!
They said these things to discredit Him. To shut Him up. To drive the common people of the day away from Him and His teachings.
Yet, what they failed to realize is their accusations were, in reality, ringing endorsements of Christ’s holy mission as the greatest of all liberators! A liberator? Yes! A liberator from the stifling, religious legalism of the Pharisees and the enslaving power of sin. Jesus Christ came to set people free so they might “have life and have it abundantly” John 10:10.
Are you enslaved by legalism and sin? Then allow the Lord Jesus Christ to set you free for “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36.
Jesus friend of sinners we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus friend of sinners the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to you but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
Oh Jesus friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus friend of sinners break our hearts for what breaks yours*
*Jesus Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns. https://www.castingcrowns.com/music/lyrics/jesus-friend-sinners Accessed 9/21/2015.
Editorial note: Originally published September 21, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com
“You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” Micah 7:18 NIV
“The LORD will rise up… to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task.” Isaiah 28:21 NIV
God does not delight in executing judgement, rather God delights in showcasing His mercy. Isaiah describes judgement as God’s ‘strange work’ and as God’s ‘alien task.’ Peter reminds us that God’s desire is for ‘everyone to come to repentance.’ God is patient and longsuffering! God does not want any to perish in their sins!
Have you ever heard a ‘hell fire and brimstone’ sermon that went so far as to say God enjoys punishing sinners? Unfortunately, I have. For a preacher, or anyone else, to outright say or imply that God enjoys judgement is to misrepresent God’s character. The thought that God enjoys sending guilty sinners to Hell should make us recoil in horror. His delight is not in judgement; His delight is in mercy! Even His angles rejoice (Luke 15:10) when a guilty sinner repents!
Yes, God hates sin but He absolutely loves the sinner. How can we know this is true? We can know by looking at the cross of Jesus Christ! God sent His Son to suffer and to die on the cross so He could rightously display His mercy by forgiving repentant sinners.
Editorial note: Originally published July 17, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com
“Like Jesus (Luke 19:41) and Paul (Rom. 9:1–5), Jeremiah wept over the sad spiritual condition of the people, and this is one reason he’s known as “the weeping prophet” (see Jer. 9:18; 10:19; 13:17; 14:17; Lam. 1:16; 2:11, 18; 3:48). It’s unusual today to find tears either in the pulpit or the pews; the emphasis seems to be on enjoyment. Instead of evangelists and revivalists, the church now has “religious comedians” who apparently have never read James 4:9–10.”
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Decisive (p. 48). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Commenting on Luke 4:18-19 DBY “But are we poor and captive and blind so as to appreciate Him, or are we full of self-righteous pride? That is the test, and when it comes home to us that we are blind and that we do need glad tidings and deliverance from heaven, it no longer becomes just a picture to admire; it is a personal Deliverer who captivates and charms the heart, so that we are made willing to follow Him at all cost to ourselves.”
Coates, C. A. An Outline of Luke’s Gospel. Kingston-On-Thames: Stow Hill Bible And Tract Depot, undated, pp 70-71.
Commenting on Luke 24:13-35: “Let us learn a lesson from the two travelers to Emmaus. Let us speak of Jesus, when we are sitting in our houses and when we are walking by the way, whenever we can find a disciple to speak to. (Deuteronomy 6:7.) If we believe we are journeying to a heaven where Christ will be the central object of every mind, let us begin to learn the manners of heaven, while we are yet upon earth. So doing we shall often have One with us whom our eyes will not see, but One who will make our hearts ‘burn within us’ by blessing the conversation.”
J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 2. (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), p. 499.
“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:6-7 ESV
Luke 2 gives us the wonderful account of our Lord’s birth. This wonderfully beautiful account is often read and enjoyed by during the Christmas season.
Although the events in this chapter occurred some two thousand years ago, a thoughtful reading of the passage will show that our modern world is very much like the world that our Lord Jesus Christ was born into.
“There was no place for them in the inn” then and there is still no place for Him today. He was rejected then, and He is still rejected now.
There were a few exceptions though: Anna was among those “waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” Luke 2:38 and Simeon was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” Luke 2:25.
There were exceptions then, and there are exceptions now! How about you? Have you room for Jesus?
Recorded: Sunday December 23, 2012 at the North York Gospel Chapel in York, PA.
On Luke 2:26 – “God had promised Simeon that he would see the salvation of God. What did he see? He saw a little Baby. Salvation is a Person, and not something that you do. Salvation is a Person, and that Person is the Lord Jesus Christ. You either have Him, or you don’t have Him. You either trust Him, or you don’t trust Him.”
J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, Vol. 4: Luke. electronic ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, p. 254. [Italics original.]
Two weeks ago, we began to look at the New Testament principle of bearing (or forbearing) and forgiving one another. Our text is found in Colossians 3:12-13 “Put on, therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
In our post two weeks ago, we mostly focused on the idea of bearing with one another. This week, I’d like to begin the process of thinking about what forgiving one another looks like. I recently had the privilege of speaking on this topic at a local assembly. As I was preparing for the series of messages, God kept impressing upon me the simple truth that forgiveness is all about relationships. Sin and offense breaks or impedes relationships.
Fixing Broken Relationships
Forgiveness (and forbearance) is the solution to broken relationships. Forgiveness should lead to restoration. So often, we look at forgiveness as trying to RIGHT A WRONG! And it is not! Forgiveness is blotting out a wrong, wiping away the handwriting of judgement against us, declaring the debt paid! It is NOT righting a wrong. If we are trying to right a wrong, we are going to squelch forgiveness.
Let’s look at one of my favorite examples and a very well known Bible passage. In Luke 15, we have a father and two sons. We aren’t told a lot about this family, but we are told that the younger son wanted his share of his father’s wealth NOW before his father died. This was clearly an insult to the father. Basically the son said, “I’d rather have riches and go my own way and fulfill my own lusts than be part of your family.”
Even though the father did not have to abide by his son’s request, he did give his son his share of the family wealth. This would have been not only a private shameful event in the life of the father, but also a public embarrassment. But the father allowed the son to go his own way. (God does that with us, too, doesn’t He?) As we know, the son left home and quickly spent everything he had and then ran into trouble. There was a famine and the son “began to be in need.” So he became a servant to one of the locals and his job involved feeding the pigs. He still remained in need. He finally got to the end of himself he decided to go back home, apologize and ask his father to hire him as a servant. (Even this is an act of flesh that is worthy of being considered at some point in the future.)
A Father’s Love
As the son began the journey home, the father had already been waiting for him. The Bible records that while the son was still a long way off, the father was standing there and saw him and felt compassion for the son and embraced him. The father had already forgiven the son before the son had a chance to apologize. The father’s goal was to restore a relationship by forgiving his son. The father’s goal was NOT to make things right. He didn’t ask where the money was, he didn’t ask what the son had been doing, he forgave him. He wiped away the sin, he blotted out the wrong-doings and he wrote off the debt.
The son’s apology was flawed, full of flesh and man’s reason, but the father’s forgiveness was not based on the quality of the son’s apology. The father’s forgiveness was based on the love the father had for the son. Think on that for a week….
Until next week, fulfill your ministry.
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple… So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-27 ESV, Luke 14:33 ESV
In the four Gospels our Lord Jesus Christ spoke often about the terms of discipleship.
When we honestly examine His teaching on this very important subject we will probably arrive at the same conclusion as many of His disciples came to: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” John 6:60 ESV. In fact, His teaching was so difficult that “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.” John 6:66 ESV.
What about us? After we have evaluated His teachings will we continue with Him or will we be like the “many” who “turned back and no longer walked with him”?
Recorded: Sunday September 30, 2012 at the North York Gospel Chapel, York, PA