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
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
[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
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
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
In the beginning, God created Genesis 1:1 ESV
Five very simple words– yet indescribably profound. Five very simple words that clearly answers today’s most hotly debated questions: Is there a God? Where did the universe come from? Where did I come from? Five very simple words that sets the foundation for all truth. If you can believe these five simple words you can believe all of the other words in the Bible that follow. If you believe these five simple words it will radically change your life, for it is these five simple words that introduces you to the all powerful creator God.
Really? Believing something so simple as these five words can radically change a person’s life? Yes! Jesus Christ said: “if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.”
Yes! Faith as tiny as a mustard seed moves mountains… faith as tiny as a mustard seed will even move the mountain of your life. Faith in these five simple words introduces you to the all powerful, eternal creator God. The only God– the creator and sustainer of all things– who profoundly loves you and desires a personal relationship with you. Do you believe these five simple words? If not, believe them today and meet the God of the universe!
Editorial note: Originally published October 9, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com
You are a hiding place for me. Psalm 32:7a ESV
The key to winning a game of Hide & Seek is obvious: find the best hiding place! Of course, it helps to be small and limber enough to squeeze into tight hiding places and have the patience and self-control to remain quiet until everyone else is found.
When I was a child I excelled at Hide & Seek. Like a contortionist I could shoehorn myself into the best of hiding spaces– I even had the patience and self-control to silently remain frozen in time and space until everyone else was found.
Now that I’m older Hide & Seek has become much more of a challenge! Why? Well, I keep getting in my own way. I’m no longer small or limber enough to squeeze into most hiding spots. Nor do I have the patience or self-control to quietly hide for any length of time when I could be doing something much more interesting!
The key to living a victorious life is no different than the key to winning at Hide & Seek! You need a hiding place and there is no better hiding place than the Lord. Just, don’t let yourself get in the way!
Editorial note: Originally published October 3, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com
Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! Psalm 34:3 ESV
When it comes to worship we enjoy a tremendous amount of freedom.
The New Testament Christian is not limited to a particular geographic location– we are free to worship Him regardless of where we are. The Christian is not limited by the calendar– we are free to worship Him regardless of the time or day of the week. Nor is the believer’s worship restricted by their surroundings– we are free to worship Him indoors or outdoors, in a city or a desert, in a cathedral or a shack, alone or with thousands of believers.
While we can (should!) worship anytime and anywhere there is something special when God’s people join together in corporate worship. David invited all who were willing to come and magnify the Lord with him. He desired to join in unison with others to exalt God’s name.
Today is the first day of the week– it is our opportunity to gather together and worship Him corporately. Yes! we can worship Him anytime, anywhere– but we should never abuse this wonderful truth by using it as an excuse not to meet with other believers.
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
Psalm 34:1-3 ESV
Editorial note: Originally published September 27, 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