Did He Really Say That?

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 29 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Luke 6.27-28

These are the words of Jesus as He spoke to His disciples. I would like to have seen the looks on their faces when He stated these words with such emphasis: (1) love your enemies; (2) do good to them that hate you; (3) bless tem that curse you; and (4) pray for them that despitefully use you. You talk about rubbing someone the wrong way, if these words had come from any other source, you would see the reaction in their eyes.

Let’s look at each one separately: “Love your enemies … ” We realize this is not a “stand alone” sentence. These must all be coupled together in order to live the life God wants. We don’t usually “love” our enemies. But perhaps such behavior would change the status of the one we are calling our enemy. When we pray for someone, it requires a certain amount of self-denial to ask God to do for them what they don’t deserve. But isn’t that what GRACE is all about? In praying for our enemies, we cannot pray that God would somehow “get them” for what they did to us. On the contrary, we must do something they would never expect, and that is a prayer spoken with love for them.

“ … do good to them which hate you … ” Wow, it seems like things are getting harder, not easier. We usually want people we consider bad to just get out of our lives. Why would we want to do good for them? One reason only – Jesus said to do it. Is it easy? No! We don’t do things because they are easy, we do things because they are right.

Bless them that curse you … ” Do you see the progression here? Love, do good, bless … We become more like Christ with every step forward we take. Surely that is what we want in our lives, at least it is in mine.

Finally, “ … pray for them which despitefully use you … ” Jesus practiced what He preached – remember “Father forgive them for they know not what they do’? There is no sarcasm here, no anger, no malice – nothing but love as He “pray for them which despitefully used (Him).” I am asking each one who reads this, myself included, to ask God to bring these Godly traits to bear in our lives. Just my thoughts …

Forsaking All I Take Him

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, has not forsaken them that seek thy face.” Psalm 9.10

Have you ever awakened in the morning and thought to yourself, “Boy, it sure feels like God is a million miles away.”? Can I say candidly that it is not God who has moved, but rather something is between us and the God of Creation. I do not mean to sound harsh or judgmental, but God does not “forsake” His children. Ask Daniel while he was in the lion’s den, as David as he was fleeing for his life from King Saul, ask Abraham when he took his son Isaac to the top of Mt. Moriah and was about to plunge a knife into his chest. These Bible characters would quickly agree that in their moment of deepest despair God was there.

The psalmist begins this verse with a simple statement: “they that know thy name will put their trust in thee … ” Knowing His name is not a simple recognition of the name God. Rather it indicates that when one knows something of the character of the God whose name they know, the level of confidence increases dramatically.

But let’s focus for a moment on this last phrase: “for thou, LORD, has not forsaken them that seek thy face.” When was the last time you can remember really seeking the face of God? You wanted to converse with Him about something that was burning in your spirit, or there was a situation that only He could handle.

Do we only seek God’s face when we are unable to solve our problem or handle our own issues? I fear that far too many of God’s children us God as a “last resort” – you know, “I’ve tried everything else, I might as well try God.” Oh dear friend, ponder this for a moment … when you awake tomorrow morning, seek His face with a genuine faith that is willing to risk all to know God has not forsaken you. He HAS NOT and He NEVER WILL forsake you. Just my thoughts …

Let God BE God!

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5.6-7
As Christ followers, you and I are called to a life of humility and total dependence on God. That being said, the emphasis of these two verses is a reminder to us that God longs to care for us but in order for Him to do that, we must yield control of all of who we are and all of what we possess. I think it is noteworthy that Peter is the disciple chosen of God to write these words. When he first met Christ he was anything but humble and when it came to the cares of his life, he handled things in a pretty head-strong way (remember the Roman soldier who came to arrest Jesus and Peter cut off his ear).
Think with me about this first phrase: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God … ” When God tells us to humble ourselves, what does that mean? I believe He is saying to us that we need to remember Whose  we are when we are in His presence and there is never a moment when we are not in His presence. Peter tells us the reason for this statement: “that he may exalt you in due time..” When I am willing to humble myself before god, He will exalt me in His time.
When we have humbled ourselves, the next verse becomes much easier: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” The realization of our need as Christ-followers will cause us to WANT to cast our cares on Him. When He offers to carry my burden, that means that I don’t have to. And if we are brutally honest, there are some burdens that we THINK we can carry, but we can’t. So why not let God be God in your life and see how you attitude and countenance changes. Just my thoughts …

How Are You Doing With This?

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” Luke 6.37

Some of the greatest divisive issues that are present in Christendom today find their roots in the statements Jesus makes in this verse. Here they are: (1) judge not, (2) condemn not, and (3) forgive. One of the problems with which I struggle is making a judgment about someone whom I do not know and I am simply judging they by my first impression. Jesus is very clear here. Whether it is my first time to meet them or my 100th time to see them, it is            NEVER my place to judge another person. I know all the cute responses about this; “I’m not judging them. I am just a fruit inspector.” (By their fruits you shall know them) Or “If they are really saved, why don’t they act like it?” Remember what Jesus said: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged …

The next command of Jesus is: “condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned … ” No one likes to be condemned for something they have done, no matter their age. I am reminded of this verse from Romans 8.1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” It seems to me that Jesus has chosen not to condemn them because they have believed in Him as their Savior.

Finally, we come to perhaps the hardest command of all: “forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” It is amazing how many people who consider themselves to be in a close walk with the Lord, but they chose not to forgive someone who has wronged them. If God the Father chooses to forgive me because my sins have been atoned for through the death of Christ on the cross, how can anyone of us hold on to an offense (perhaps for a lifetime) and die with a wounded spirit BECAUSE we chose not to forgive. Ephesians 4.32 says: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” You and I have NEVER been wounded as deeply as Jesus was when He was on the cross dying for the sins of the world. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I pray that you will read and reread these verses and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart. Just My Thoughts …

Just Open Your Mouth …

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness: and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10.10

Some years ago now there was a Christian movie entitled: Silent Witness. That sounds like an oxymoron to me. How can you put silent and witness in the same sentence? A witness TELLS what he/she knows. It seems to me that you and I ought to be jubilant witnesses for our Lord once we fully grasp the miracle of salvation.

In the verse above Paul tells us that we believe unto righteousness with our heart, that part of us that makes life-changing decisions. We use that term heart in a lot of different ways: (1) I love you with all my heart; (2) I give you my heart; (3) I put my hand over my heart and I promise you. I suspect there are more. But the idea conveyed here is that from the deepest part of us we are making a verbal commitment to do everything we have promised.

So when we read this phrase: “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness … ” this heart decision is one that we have thought about and have made the decision that we believe what God says about His righteousness. But here is the catch … no one can SEE what goes on in your heart. So something more is required. Here it is: “and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The divine transaction took place in the heart, but the only way this world knows about it is when we are willing to confess with our mouth that we have embraced salvation from our heart.

Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? But truth be known there are so many people who SAY they have believed in their heart who are hesitant about letting anyone else know about it. We often hear a phrase something like this: “Well, I am going to live my life in such a way that they can tell I am a Christian by the way I live (silent witness).” Why can’t we just open our mouths and confess that Jesus Christ is our Lord? A simple question … what’s your answer? Just my thoughts …

Do You Know You Are Blessed Today?

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: 25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Numbers 6.24-26

Every time I read these verses, I am deeply moved with the message (in the form of a prayer) that Moses records for God’s people. Here are the life-changing phrases that are given to us: (1) the Lord bless you, (2) the Lord keep you, (3) the Lord make his face shine upon you, (4) the Lord be gracious unto you, (5) the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and (6) the Lord give you peace. Do you realize that every one of these statements reinforces God’s love FOR us and his presence WITH us?

What would your life look like if you lived with the constant reassurance that God is going to bless you and keep you? The blessings of God come in so many forms and we are constantly trying to figure them out. Why don’t we stop trying to figure them out and live joyfully with the knowledge that God CARES? When I think about the truth that God is keeping me, the fear of anything that this day can bring cannot overcome God’s keeping power. Philippians 1.6 says: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Look at these next two phrases: “The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.” When the Lord makes His face shine upon us, He is expressing His pleasure in the truth that we are His child, and that our life is pleasing to Him. To be gracious to us in an extension of His character to grant us the grace we need for this day’s living.

Finally we read: “The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” We must link the statements “make his face shone upon you” and “lift up his countenance upon you.” God’s purpose for us never changes. He never wants us to think that we must live without his face being attentive to where we are and what we need. And neither does He want us to think that His countenance is not a reflection of His love for us. It is then that He willingly makes available to us His peace. We must give to God our desire to control everything in our lives and in exchange He will grant us His peace. Just my thoughts …

Simple But Profound!

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him: and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37.4-5

I have a number of verses that have become favorites over the years. This duet is one of them. The psalmist gives us three very positive words in these two short verses: (1) delight, (2) commit, and (3) trust. Delight is the very opposite of disappointment. So for us to delight ourselves in the Lord, we must be something other than disappointed. Delighting ourselves in the Lord is not the same as understanding everything that He does in our lives. We do not have to UNDERSTAND everything that God is doing in order to delight ourselves in Him.

This second word “commit” implies a total act of faith. Ever get on an elevator and press the button for your floor and wonder, “Will this thing make it?” Once the door closes, you hear the motor begin to move it, but you can’t be guaranteed it will reach the floor you want. You do not have an attendant onboard to assist you. You have just exercised a total act of faith in that elevator. Can I just say that our God is much more dependable than that elevator? We don’t always KNOW where the next step will lead us, but we take that step anyway, believing that once we “commit” that step to the Lord, He will show us what’s next.

The final word is “trust.” We trust something or someone everyday. We walk into a dark room and switch on the light, trusting there will be electricity for the light. We go to work and our supervisor says something like, “You have never done this job before, but I trust your skills to do it.” You think to yourself, “He trusts me, and I trust him.” Look carefully at these words: “trust also in him: and he shall bring it to pass.” What does this little word “it” mean here? I like to think of this as God giving me a blank check and saying, “You trusted me. Now I am going to bring to pass whatever you have trusted Me for.” I find delight in that and it becomes easier to commit to God the next time the need arises. Just My Thoughts …