LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift-wrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
‘You’re familiar with the old written law. Love your friends and its unwritten companion. Hate your enemy. I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable. Do you expect a bonus?
Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal. Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
‘In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward your.” Matthew 5: 38-48 (Message)
Prayer: “Holy God of compassion, you invite us into your way of forgiveness and peace. Lead us to love our enemies and transform our words and deed to be like his through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen”
“I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Psalm 16: 8 (KJV)
Everyone knows the story of the Three Little Pigs. Two of them built their houses out of straw and sticks so weak that the wolf blew them over. The Bible says the gold, solver, and precious stones will endure while wood, hay and straw will go up in smoke. That brings up a question for each of us. Do our faith, our prayer life, and our conversations with God reflect the endurance of gold and silver or the weakness of straw and sticks?
If we want gold, silver, and costly stones that will endure forever we have to dig for them. We have to pursue with great effort. They’re not just lying around everywhere.
As we marvel at the wonder of being able to commune with the King of the universe at any time, we become centered in God as we let the love of God wash over us. Pastor gave us a guide for deepening our prayer life and conversing with God. To pray after connecting with God, to pray the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, sing a hymn, pray for a deeper awareness of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in your life, repent, ask for forgiveness, intercede as you pray for others, petition for yourself, give thanks and to praise God, and continue to be centered in God and His love wash over you.
Prayer: Lord, in Psalm 16: 8 it says, “I have set the Lord always before me….” We pray for each and every one of you as you continue faith journey. Praise and thanksgiving be to God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
“Our Father in heaven. Reveal who you are….” Matthew 6:9 (Message)
Have you ever thought of praying the Lord’s Prayer in the present tense? I’ve read somewhere that some Biblical scholars believed that the spoken language of Jesus’ day used a verb tense that could be translated, “Thy kingdom is coming. Thy will is being done…”
I personally like the traditional Lord’s Prayer. However, for today let’s personalize it with the present tense. As we read it, listen to each word, each phrase and each and every thought.
“My Father, who is in heaven.
Hallowed is your name.
Your kingdom is coming.
Your will is being done on earth, as it is in heaven.
You are giving me this day my daily bread,
And You are forgiving me my trespasses,
As I am forgiving them who trespass against me.
You are leading me not into temptation,
But are delivering me from evil,
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power,
And the glory, forever and ever. Amen
Prayer: Thank you Father for the opportunity to study Your Prayer in another format. To listen to each word and phrase and to feel Your presence as we prayed. We ask that we can continue to broaden our prayer life with You and to fix our hearts on You always, through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Who lives with You and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea… ‘Be still, and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations; I am exalted in the earth!’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Psalms 46: 1&2, 10&11 (RSV)
As we read Psalm 46, we see that we will face trials and tribulations as long as we are on this earth. But God does promise that while we are living here He will be our refuge—our place of protection and shelter. He also says he will be our strength when things go wrong.
What wonderful words of comfort and hope. “The Lord almighty is with us.” God in all His faithfulness answers our pleas by being our strength, our very present help when we need Him most. What hope! What comfort! “Call to me, and I will answer you. I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.” Jeremiah 33:3
Prayer: Lord, when things seem to difficult for us to handle and the burdens of life seem too, too heavy to bear let us find strength in You alone. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” Daniel 2: 20&21 (NKJV)
Why do people fight change, Lord? Do they not know that change is necessary?
Whether we accept change or fight it, it will occur. All life is a change. Think of all the change around you: smart phones instead of landlines; fast foods; all the technical advances, and medical transplants. God even provides us with change through the four seasons that He gives us and all His creation.
When we think of it, our view of God has changed. It was quite different as a child, a teen-ager and adult, gaining more insight and understanding as we grew in adulthood and spiritually. He has changed our concepts of Him and our knowledge of Him.
As we have changed, God hasn’t. He has been the constant, un-changeable. No matter how we have changed, God hasn’t. He loves us whole-heartedly forever and ever.
Prayer: Lord, help those who fight change see that even if they want things to stay the way they are, things are going to have to change. Keep changing people and remake all so that we can accept Your constant love everyday through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen
BIG PRAYER-BIG ANSWERS
“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up…he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16, 17 (KJV)
What a blessing it is that we have opportunities to pray for others- that our prayers can flow from a heart filled with love, compassion, and forgiveness for others just as He taught us.
It is almost surreal to think that our prayers can be a link between another person’s need and God’s inexhaustible resources.
Each day, as we see a person in need of something (hurting, illness, loneliness, fear, etc.), we see them with the eyes of Jesus. Our desire to show that person compassion and help him or her allows us to pray with understanding and depth. Sometimes we pray, and sometimes we become part of the answer to that prayer. Either way, we persevere. Colossians 4:2 says “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” “Large asking and large expectation on our part honor God,” as said by A.L. Stone, as well as large gratitude in the form of thanksgiving.
Sometimes we worry that our prayers are not answered. But then we see Him answer our prayers in a far greater way than we expected. The Community Prayer and Healing Service was such a beautiful example of this. Love, compassion, and thanksgiving were evident as many prayed and were prayed for.
Prayer: Almighty God, may we all continue to pray for one another with great faith and expectations, always giving You the thanks and glory. Praise be to God. Amen
GOD IS GOOD
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” 2 Peter 2: 9 (KJV
A group of us are reading and studying The Story, the Bible as one continuing story of God and his people.
As the stories of the Bible unfold we are amazed the wherever we are in The Story the people are always rejecting their God. No matter how many times God faithfully acts on their behalf, they do not get it. Temptations allure them; other gods, sexual immorality, murders, etc.
They were a rebellious lot. But are we not rebellious, too? Look at our world today. Are we really standing firm with God? Don’t we see our own idolatrous hearts?
Yet, as we continue reading and studying The Story, God is never failing, always in their/our mists, working to get His people in the right track. He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins and to be raised up, to bind us all together with Him in eternal life.
Even with all our failings, God is forever faithful. God is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Praise be to You, O Father.
Prayer: Lord, we are such a rebellious world, forgive us for being so dense and careless with what you offer and give us in love. Thank you for your patience in all that we do and say and for Your unconditional love. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen