Love Your Enemies

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust – Matthew 5:44, 46

David Spares Saul I Samuel 26:6-12Whom would you consider to be your enemy?  Someone you don’t get along with?  Someone you just can’t stand?  Someone who has it in for you?  Someone who doesn’t like you and is always undermining you?  How could we possibly love these people? This commandment of Jesus to love our enemies seems impossible but as He pointed out, if we love only those who love us in return, what good is that?  He was teaching us that hate is not of God.  Love is of God, even love for our enemies.

We are told that, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20, 21).  Jesus showed love toward Malchus, the High Priest’s servant after Peter cut off his right ear.  Matthew gives an account of the incident.

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.  But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” – Matthew 26:50-54.  Luke wrote that Jesus said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him (Luke 22:51).

Jesus rebuked Peter and healed Malchus.  I’m sure this act of kindness must have affected the servant in some way.

King David had an opportunity to kill his enemy Saul twice.  The first time was when they were in the wilderness in En Gedi.  Saul heard that David and his men were there and set off at once, taking three thousand men with him.  He meant to get David.  David’s men said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’”  David listened to his men and went to Saul who was in the cave.

David secretly cut off a piece from the corner of the king’s robe but afterward he felt badly about what he had done.  His heart troubled him and he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.”  So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way (1 Samuel 24:1-7).  The other time David spared Saul’s life is recorded in 1 Samuel 26.

Love for God made David do the right thing.  He loved Saul too and mourned when he died (2 Samuel 1:17).  He even commanded that the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan be buried in the tomb of Kish his father (2 Samuel 21:14).

By loving those we would consider to be our enemies, we will be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).  Love and kindess should extend to everyone.  Loving God makes God us want to do right by others.  Show God how much you love Him with an act of kindness or making amends wit the person or persons you had a falling out with.

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Love Your Neighbor

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” – Matthew 19:19accuser-of-the-brethren8

Like a certain lawyer we need to ask ourselves, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus told him the story of a good Samaritan who helped a man lying on the road after he was robbed.  He tended to his wounds and took him to an innkeeper.  He offered to repay whatever was spent to care for the hurt stranger.  This story made the lawyer realize that a neighbor is one who shows mercy.

Neighbor in this context goes beyond the person living nearby.  It is the homeless person you give a warm blanket to or buy a cup of hot tea or chocolate and a sandwich.  It is the troubled teen you help.  It is the elderly person you give your seat to or the blind person you offer your arm to.

Paul wrote in Romans 13:8-10:  “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

It makes sense that if you love others as you ought, you would not do anything to hurt them.  It would never occur to you to cross that line and have an affair with your boss’s wife or your sister’s husband.  You would never dream of taking another’s life.  You wouldn’t take what does not belong to you or tell lies about someone else.  You wouldn’t want what someone else has.  You would not gossip or tell lies about people.  When you choose love over envy, lust, dishonesty, etc, you would be fulfilling God’s law which Jesus summed up in two commandments–love God and love your neighbor.

If you love others like you love yourself, you would not do them any harm.  You would treat them as you want to be treated.  Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  And always think of God and what His word says.  Joseph was not willing to hurt Potiphar by sleeping with his wife or to sin against God by breaking His law which prohibits adultery.  Bottom line:  We treat our neighbors as we would like to be treated.

Love Does Not Envy

12798570.cmsJoseph’s father loved him more than all of his children because he was the son of his old age.  He made him a multicolored coat.  His brothers envied him.  Their love turned to hatred and they could not speak peaceably to him.  They plotted to kill him but Reuben, the oldest brother prevented them from doing that.  He told them to put him in the pit, planning to return Joseph safely to their father.  But while he was gone the other brothers decided that they would sell Joseph instead of killing him, “for he is our brother and our flesh”.  They didn’t spare his life out of brotherly love but for profit.  They sold him for twenty pieces of silver.

The chief priests envied Jesus.  They were jealous because He was popular with the people.  They plotted to kill Him.  There was no love in them.  They were filled with envy.  Envy consumed and they pushed for Jesus’ crucifixion.  Envy consumed Joseph’s brothers and they got rid of him.

“Where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and everything evil are there” (James 3:16).  Envy is a source of evil.  It was first manifested in Lucifer.  It led to his rebellion against God and to his expulsion from heaven.  God calls for us to abhor what is evil (Romans 12:9).  Abhor envy and do not be overcome by it.

Love rejoices with others when great things happen in their lives.  Love does not seek what belongs to someone else.  Love does not resent others’ success.  Love celebrates life and is content with what it has.

Knowing the Enemy

03-032To defeat the enemy, one has to know him first.  The Bible teaches us everything we need to know about the devil.  He exists. He is not a figment of our imagination.

  • He was once  an angel named Lucifer.  He was an anointed covering cherub, perfect in beauty.  He had been in the Garden of Eden.  He was covered in precious jewels.  He was perfect in all his ways from the day he was created until iniquity was found in him (Ezekiel 28:12-15)
  • He became proud and ambitious, desiring to be like God.  He envisioned exalting his throne above the stars of God, ascending above the heights of the clouds.  He was no longer satisfied with the privileges he already had.  He wanted more.  Pride, envy and   covetousness consumed him and ultimately led him into rebellion.  Using his wisdom, he managed to get one third of the angels on his side.
  • As a result he was cast down from Heaven, an event Jesus Himself witnessed.  “I      beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven.” – Luke 10:18.
  • He was cast down to the earth.  “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” – Revelation 12:12.
  • Lucifer after sinning against God was no longer a light bearer.  He became Satan, which means Adversary.
  • He is known by many names.  Revelation 12:9 refers to him as the old serpent called the devil and Satan.  When he was in the Garden of Eden, he used as his medium a serpent, the subtlest of the animals.
  • Using subtlety instead of an outright attack on God, Satan managed to deceive Eve into sinning.  He lied to her by  downplaying the consequences of sin.   “Ye shall not surely die.” – Genesis 3:4.  Eve believed him, ate the fruit and gave some to her husband.  Thus, sin was introduced on earth.
  • Everything God is, Satan is not.  God is truth, Satan is not.  The Bible says he is a liar.  Those who follow him are also liars.  “Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” John 8:44.
  • God is not of this world, Satan is.  The moment he brought sin into it, it became his.       He is known as the prince of this world.
  • He misuses scriptures, insinuates himself anywhere such as among the disciples, among friends, families and in the church.
  • He is a deceiver.  He and his angels can become whatever they want to be in the war against God and His people.  “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” – 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15.  If there are false Christs, false prophets and false apostles then, it is very likely that the Mary seen by many is false as well. Satan uses those close to us to get what he wants.   He knows how to secure men’s worship. 

We are warned about this.  “Let no man deceive you by any means:  for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.  Using the mother of Jesus is one way to secure worship.  He has succeeded in replacing the Bible’s teaching that there is one Intercessor by establishing Mary as the intercessor to the intercessor.

  • Doubt is one of his weapons.  He used it when he deceived Eve.  He was in essence      asking her in Genesis 3:1, “Did God really say that you can’t eat from every tree in the garden?”  In other words, “Are you sure He really said that?”  He makes us doubt God’s word, His love and His promises.  He makes us think that we are so sinful that God cannot possibly forgive us.
  • He is always scheming, looking for a way to get to us.   As soon as he knows our weaknesses, he will use them against us.  He used Cain’s jealousy of Abel; Sarah’s desire for a child; Saul’s jealousy of David; Judas’ weakness for money. 
  • He afflicts people.  “And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath     day?” – Luke 13:16.  It is interesting that Jesus used the Sabbath Day as an illustration of undoing Satan’s work.  He is using the  Lord’s Day to restore God’s creation, which Satan crippled with sin.

Now that we know what the devil is capable of we can better deal with him and the Bible tells us how to do this.  “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” – James 4:7. We are exhorted to be humble for God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud.  It was pride that caused the fall of Lucifer and man.  Humility brings us closer to God.  Pride draws us away.  God’s Word is your best defense against the devil.  Jesus used it in the wilderness when the devil tried to tempt Him.  Take Paul’s advise and “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

Focus on Jesus

EyesonJesus_jpg-10_26_10Too many times we focus more on our differences than on our similarities.  Too many times we focus more on the different denominations and whose doctrine is in keeping with the Bible than on Christ.  One night instead of having a discussion, on who God is, what He is like, what He has done in our lives and on Jesus’ ministry here on earth, I brought up the subject of the idolatry of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Mariology is a phenomenon that really troubles me and I cannot help but address it.

I showed them the book written by a former Catholic entitled, “Is Mary Dead or Alive?”  One person glanced at it and thrust it aside dismissively while another picked it up to browse through it.  I mentioned that people should not be praying to Mary.  After some discussion and disagreements, we established that people were praying to someone who is dead.  I tried to find in the Bible where it is mentioned that we should not be speaking or contacting the dead but, couldn’t find it so I was unable to make the point.  However, I found it the day after and here is what the Bible says, “And when they say unto you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter.’ Should a people not seek their God?  Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?” – Isaiah 8:19.

I spoke of the appearances around the world and made it known that I did not believe in any of them simply because Mary is dead.  I mentioned that when Jesus appeared to His disciples, He was in the flesh.  Here is an excerpt of what was written about the three children in Fatima.  The shepherd children saw the vision of an angel of peace whose mission was to prepare them for the Coming of the Virgin Mary three times. For each Apparition, the angel invited the children to pray and accompanied them in their reverence.  During the summer, the angel appeared a second time to the children who were playing and urged them to pray “Constantly offer prayers and sacrifices to the Most High”. He presented himself as the guardian angel of Portugal.

The Coming of the Virgin Mary?  Mary is no longer among the living.  She like the rest of those who died in Christ will be resurrected at His second Coming and caught up.  In the Bible, the angels’ will appear with Christ at His Second Coming.  “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness and will cast them into the furnace of fire.” – Matthew 13:41, 42.

This angel invited the children to pray for each apparition.  He is praying with them for the appearance of a spirit.  Man, according to the Bible, is lower than the angels, yet here was one encouraging the worship of Mary, a person.  She is the mother of Jesus, not the mother of God, therefore, not to be worshipped but respected as the most blessed of all women.  Reverence should be given to God, “Serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” – Hebrews 12:28.  Reverence should be given to Jesus.  “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in Heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11.

What sacrifices is the angel talking about here?  In Daniel 9:27, it says that Jesus brought an end to sacrifice and offering.  The only sacrifices we are exhorted to offer up are spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5).

The following is an account of the last of six appearances of Maria in Fatima.  On 13th October 1917, the day of the last Apparition, it poured with rain on the Cova da Iria. Lucy asked the faithful to close their umbrellas to recite the rosary together and observe the arrival of the Holy Virgin.  The Virgin Mary presented herself to Lucy as Our Lady of the Rosary and asked her to build a chapel in her honour. She announced that the war was going to end and asked Lucy to “heal several of the sick and convert sinners”.

The Virgin Mary then raised her eyes to heaven, the rain stopped and the sun shone brightly, radiating different coloured beams of lights. The crowd cried out in terror but after a few moments, everything returned to normal.  The Virgin Mary then disappeared into the firmament, reappeared a few moments later, under the amazed eyes of 3 shepherd children, accompanied by Saint Joseph, the Infant Jesus and Our Lord blessing the world using the sign of the cross.

What disturbs me about this is that Jesus is seen here as an infant.  When we last read about our Saviour, He had risen from the dead and after spending time with His disciples, He ascended to Heaven.  Yet, in this vision, He is an infant again.  In Italy, the majority of the paintings and sculptures are of Mary and baby Jesus.  It is not the infant whom died on the Cross for us but the Man.  It is not Jesus, the infant that is going to crush Satan’s head but Jesus, the Man.  And why is Joseph in the vision?  Joseph is resting in his grave.  And why did Mary disappear into the ground and then reappear again?

This vision is going back to before Jesus’ ministry, His finished work on the Cross, His death and His resurrection.  The very things Satan tried to hinder when first he tried to have the infant killed, then, the temptation in the wilderness, and the rejection of the people, the crucifixion and finally, the resurrection when the Pharisees had the tomb guarded.  The things said in the vision contradict the Bible.  And we know that the devil likes to contradict God’s Word—twist it to suit his purposes.  That is why in the case of Fatima, caution should be exercised because the devil is good at disguising himself.

Paul warns us, “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” – 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15.  This was met with the objection that God would not allow children to be deceived.  The Bible addresses this, “And he (the beast) was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.  It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.  And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.  All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” – Revelation 13:5, 7, 8)

Genesis 3:15, says that Satan will enjoy limited success.  The Bible does not say that only adults will be deceived.  It says that the inhabiters of the earth are subject to the wrath of the devil who knows that he has a short time (Revelation 12:12).  The devil is no respecter of persons when it comes to leading them away from God.  He deceived the angels.  And Jesus predicted that if possible even the elect could be deceived by false Christs and false prophets (Mark 13:22).

We should be focusing on Jesus rather than on the different churches, but when people are being deceived it is hard not to say anything.  This is why the Bible was written.  It warns us of the devil’s schemes and how we can protect ourselves.  Jesus came into the world to wake us from spiritual darkness and His parting words to the disciples were, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” – Matthew 28:19, 20.

 When these disciples had God’s truth in them they didn’t keep it to themselves, they shared it, knowing that they would encounter resistance, ridicule, and scepticism.  Jesus came to expose the lies of the devil and we should do the same by sharing God’s word, which is truth.  We should focus on the Word of God because the scriptures testify of Jesus.  “I am the way, the truth, and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”  – John 14:6. 

Build on the Rock

Jesus Is My Rock“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

When we build our houses, we want to make sure they are on solid ground.  This is how it should be when it comes to our personal lives.  We should build on the Rock who is Jesus.  He is our foundation.  When we build our lives on Him and His teachings, we will not have the ground pulled under our feet.  Although troubles and trials will come our way, they will not overwhelm us because we have placed our lives in the hands of Jesus.  He is the Rock we cling to when the tribulations and problems assail us.  He is the One who keeps us from being swept away by the waves.  Like floods, troubles will come but we won’t fall because we have built our lives on the Rock.  Whenever you face troubles, cling to the promises of Jesus.  Remember His words and they will help you to hold on and not fall.  Though the winds of adversity may blow and beat on you, you will not crumble because solid is the Rock upon whom you stand.

Matthew 7:24-29

I Am That I AM

John 1:1 - The word became flesh. Popular New Testament passageA couple of years ago I watched the movie “The Tomb of Jesus”.  It was disturbing but informative.  As I watched it, I realized that it is dangerous for people who are not grounded in their faith.  The filmmakers make outrageous statements.  One example is when Jesus was on the Cross and He said, “Woman, behold your son,” They stated that the woman He was talking to was not His mother, Mary but Mary Magdalene.  And when He said, “Son, behold your mother,” He was not talking to the disciple, John but to the son He had with Mary Magdalene.  This is what is written in the Bible regarding that scene, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”  Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:25-27).

Two days after I watched the movie, I decided to spend some time in devotion.  After praying, I stretched out on the sofa and closed my eyes.  I prayed, asking God to speak to me as He had done in the past when I took the time to fellowship with Him.  As I lay there, I kept hearing the words, “Say the name of Jesus.”

At first I couldn’t understand why I was hearing the lyrics of a song that we sing at Kanisa Church when what I wanted to hear was God’s voice.  Then, it dawned on me that I was being told to say Jesus’ name.  I called out to Him in my head, “Lord Jesus”.  Immediately after saying that I started to cry, it was one of those gut-wrenching cries.  This happened for a little while and then just as I suddenly started crying, I stopped and became completely calm and still. Then, I heard Jesus say, “Believe I AM that I AM.”  I asked Him if this message was just for someone close to me but He said that it was for everyone.

That same morning I shared this testimony with my co-workers.  I stressed that “Jesus IS NOT the husband of Mary Magdalene or the father of her son or just a good teacher, preacher, prophet or man.  He is God the Son.  He is not in a tomb He is in Heaven where He belongs.  We have two choices, we can believe the Word of God, which says that Jesus is alive, or we can believe that He was buried in a tomb with a wife, son and other family members.  I hope God can show you that He’s alive and that He’s working in each of your lives.

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