Matthew 10:36, 37 NKJV (1) - "And a man's enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
Where are your enemies? Not that we want to look for any, but Jesus said something rather startling in our Daily Verse. Some of our "enemies" will be in our own homes! That's not something anybody wants to consider, but it's what Jesus said and something we need to understand. (Now, I'm going to be commenting on verse 37 in my next Daily Verse, and that will explain more of what I'm only going to begin to comment on here).
What Jesus is referring to is far more than the "sibling rivalry" of our childhood. It's far worse than even the aftermath of a nasty divorce. And It is even worse than brother fighting brother in our American Civil War. Jesus was talking about those in our households who hate Jesus enough to hate us if we turn to Him. These are heart-wrenching experiences that many believers have had to face when they turned their lives over to Christ. Their families refused communicating with these "converts" until they would renounce their faith in Jesus. They even treated them as if they had died!
Do we love those who hate our Savior? ASOLUTELY!! We don't treat them as the "enemy!" We recognize they're still caught up in Satan's lies and deceptions. They are truly victims of the real enemy. We pray so earnestly that God would help our families to see the joy of coming to Christ and believe the truth of God's Word. We still seek to be pleasant and gracious to our families hoping that any kind gesture on our part will help to "open their eyes" to the wonderful truth of salvation in Christ. Thank God if your family not only supports your faith in Christ, but that they have joined you in believing on Jesus! But pray for those believers who have to deal with their family's anger and rejection.
Romans 5:10 NKJV - "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
One of the great truths of the Christian Gospel is that it shows that God "demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." He didn't wait until we were "worthy" of His salvation! The point is, we were never worthy of His salvation and we still aren't! We were saved by His grace and we're still in need of His grace. And this truth comes out in our Daily Verse today. "...when we were enemies we were reconciled to God..." The point being that God didn't change our status from enemies to friends and then did the work for us to be reconciled to God. He did that work while we were still in our fallen state.
The Gospel of Grace teaches that we were saved without our meriting anything from God. And the same can be said about the Love of God: We were loved in our sinful condition! When God loves His enemies He does so knowing that many may never turn to Him. He is aware of the broad road that leads to destruction and He realizes there are many on that road! But He still shows His love for them anyway. (And YES, I believe in the universal love of God for ALL mankind! And NO, I don't believe that ALL mankind will automatically be saved. There will be many in hell because they rejected the love of God shown through the death of His Son).
But the main point here is that God loved and provided reconciliation for His enemies. That was HIs way of adding action to His words. And that is what God wants to do through us. He wants us to love our enemies while they are still our enemies. And God is ready to give you the desire and power to do what pleases Him. In a previous Daily Verse I asked would you be willing to "love an enemy into the saving arms of God?" Just the way God loved you into His arms?
Colossians 1:21 NKJV - "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled."
Why should you love your enemies? Did God love His? And if you're quick to think of Jesus dying on the cross and asking His Father to "...forgive them for they know not what they do..." then you could say that God loved His enemies. But, do you think that should include you, too? What does our Daily Verse say? "...YOU, who once were alienated and enemies..." (emphasis mine). Were you an enemy to God? What does the verse say, again? The answer is that you were an enemy to God! And God loved you! He included you when He cried out to His Father to "forgive them..."
How should you love your enemies? How did God love His? Our Daily Verse also says He reconciled them,. That means He made things right between His enemies and God. In other words, Jesus didn't just love His enemies in words. He loved them in action! He didn't just want His enemies to know they were loved. He loved them enough to do what it took to stop them from being God's enemies! When He reconciled them to God He was removing what it was the made them enemies to God!
Does that help you in understanding HOW you're supposed to love your enemies? More about this in the next Daily Verses.
1 Peter 5:8,9a NKJV - "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith..."
Believers are to recognize that Satan has them in his "crosshairs." Satan hates Christians, especially those who are "on fire" for Christ. The devil is the adversary who is described as the "...accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night..." Revelation 2:10. Our Daily Verse and this passage in Revelation give us the two primary activities of Satan that he employs against Christians.
First, Satan seeks to "devour" believers. That word in Greek speaks of "drinking down" or "swallowing up." The thought is that Satan wants to "swallow up a believer's reputation and testimony." Satan can't have a Christian coming back into his kingdom, as much as he might wish he could. He will seek to upset the Christian and get the believer in a weak and vulnerable moment when he can attack him. That's why Peter encourages the believer to be "steadfast in the faith" so that the believer is strengthened in Christ to resist Satan. Remember, in James 4:7 we are told to "resist the devil" and the result will be his fleeing from us.
The second activity of Satan is probably what he is best known for: he is the accuser. His desire is to take a believer's testimony and basically ruin it. Satan can't actually make a believer sin, but he can bring accusations against a believer to sidetrack them from fruitful service for the Lord. Either other believers will listen to Satan's accusations, or the believers themselves will listen to his reminders of their past failures or their inability to face future challenges. How many Christians have avoided a possible fruitful ministry because they felt they just couldn't do it? That's part of Satan's accusations against them!
Believer, Satan is your enemy and you should be aware of his activities, but by no means do you need to live defeated lives. Christ has achieved victory for you and you are on the "winning side!" Resist the devil - he will run away!
Ephesians 6:12 NKJV - "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
As we are called by the Lord to "love our enemies" let's remember something: Satan is our Arch-Enemy and we are certainly not called on to love him! He is the embodiment of sin and wickedness and the tempter of our souls. The Lord taught in His pattern prayer for believers to pray "...do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil [the evil one]." Satan has done much to create the chasm between God and sinners. Satan has no love for the unbeliever, and he does have an outright hatred for the things of God, and that goes especially for those who know Christ as Savior and Lord.
When we think of those who are our "enemies" we need to remember something someone else said years ago, "The unbeliever is not our enemy but he is the victim of the enemy!" Yes, we still call those who oppose the Gospel of Christ and seek to destroy our faith, our "enemies." But we understand that their actions are the actions of the evil one. The people themselves, however, are those for whom Christ died. Just like we were.
We should have no affection for the devil. We are to "...resist him..." 1 Peter 5:9, and again, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 4:7. As Jesus was tempted by the tempter, He resisted Satan by constantly quoting the powerful Word of God. Note Matthew 4:1-11. In our Daily Verse today we have a fight we all must be a part of! Satan is trying desperately to hold on to the souls of the lost. Our fight is to win those souls for Christ!
Romans 5:5 NKJV - "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
How can we love anyone with the love of God? Our Daily Verse tells us that God has "poured out" this love into our hearts by His Holy Spirit's presence in our lives. Though human love is wonderful to see in most all humanity, only God's love can be practiced by a true believer in Christ. But understand this: that power to do so only comes from the Spirit of God. God's love and His Spirit were given to us as a "package deal"! We didn't get One (the Spirit) without the other (God's love). And with the Spirit came the power of God to do whatever God wanted us to do.
Remember our study on Philippians 2:13 NLT - "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him." This is how you can love anyone, friend or foe. God gives the desire to do what He wants and He gives the power to do it. Do you believe that? You won't experience this until you willfully surrender your will to His will! He doesn't work through your human effort. He works through His Spirit's power! And when you experience that - WOW! You will find yourself practicing God's love in ways you never dreamed possible.
Our world needs a new display of the love of God shining out through individual Christians. While the world is so full of hatred and violence, Christians are filled with God's love. But it is a love that is meant to be lived and shared. There's no telling what God can do through a believer who would be willing for God to demonstrate His love through them!
Matthew 5:44 NKJV - "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."
I've been spending time teaching the commandment to "love your neighbor as you love yourself." In today's Daily Verse Jesus makes it clear just how far reaching this love is to be extended! Loving those who love you is readily enjoyable because the love you receive from your loved ones is easily reciprocated. But, note in Matthew 5:46 that Jesus doesn't necessarily commend our love for those who love us if we are not willing to love those who don't love us!
Loving your enemy is practicing what God did. At the cross He sent His Son to die for a world that hated Him. God knew that the only way an unsaved person who hated Him would ever come to love Him is that they would have to see that in the midst of their doing their worst to Him He was doing His best for them! Are you and I willing to go to that extreme to show love for our enemy?
God also showed His love for His enemies by blessing them with their daily needs of sunshine and rain, the basic elements for human existence, see Matthew 5:45. People need blessings as well as kindness and prayers. Those three things are what Jesus said we should do to show love for our enemies.
Seek your enemy's welfare - "bless them." Find ways you can meet your enemy's needs - "do good to them." Lift them up to God in prayer for Him to show His salvation-love for them - "pray for them." Would you be willing to "love your enemy" right into the arms of God?
Matthew 22:39 NKJV - "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
I've heard a lot of Christians emphasize the "Greatest Commandment" a lot. That's in verse 37 where Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." But after He said that He also spoke of the 2nd Great Commandment too. He brought it up because, to Jesus, the two commandments go "hand-in-hand." You can't do the first if you aren't willing to do the second! And you can't do the second if you don't do the first!
Staying with that thought has made me realize that I've been guilty of so emphasizing obedience to loving God that I've neglected what should have been part of that obedience. Putting it as simply as I can: How can I say I'm loving God as I should when I'm not loving my neighbor as I should?
Now, I can imagine someone saying, "How can you put loving your neighbor above loving the Lord?" I'm not saying that. What I am saying is that even God Himself won't accept our saying we love Him if we don't show love for our neighbors! How can I say that?! Look at 1 John 4:20, 21 NKJV, "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also." (emphasis mine) The Holy Spirit led John to write those words! God places obedience to the 2nd Commandment as proof of our obedience to the Greatest Commandment!
What else do you see Jesus saying? Our love for our neighbor is to be equal to the love we have for ourselves! I am to love my neighbor in the same way I show love for ME! Here is where the "Golden Rule" helps us understand "loving yourself." I should do for others what I wish for them to do for me. Saying it again, I should do for others what I would do for me. Do I care for myself? Yes. Do I want to recognize my own significance? Yes. Do I provide for myself the basic necessities of life? Yes. Do I indulge myself from time to time? Yes. Do I forgive myself when I do wrong? (Now, this is one of those issues we struggle with for we need to understand God's forgiveness to be able to forgive ourselves). So, the answer to forgiving myself? Yes! Therefore, how do I love my neighbor? Repeat the last five questions!
I want to write more, but even I want to rethink this again in my own life. So, I'll say more tomorrow in our next Daily Verse.
PPIL - Powerful Passage Impacts Life
1 John 4:10 NKJV - "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
My purpose for sharing this Daily Verse with you is to show that when God wants us to "love our neighbor" He reveals in His Word that He "loved His neighbors" too! This is one of the great "God so loved" verses in the Bible. Ever since John 3:16, a clear teaching has been presented in God's Word: God Loves Everyone! And this verse in 1 John declares the evidence of His love. In the KJV and the NKJV the word "propitiation" is used which seems difficult enough to understand let alone, pronounce! But the truth of this word shows the extent of God's love for the world!
Propitiation means that Jesus Christ completely satisfied God's just demands that sin be judged. Jesus became our propitiation, 1 John 2:2, and "not ours (believers) only, but He was the propitiation for the sins of the whole world." "God so loved the world..." that Christ became "the propitiation for the sins of the whole world." Jesus took the place of everyone on the cross when He died for everyone's sins to show just how much God loved everyone!
Since "God so loved the world" He wants us to "love our neighbor" no matter who that neighbor may be! No, we can't do what Christ did in dying for sinners, but we can still show love to everyone as we serve them for Jesus' sake. How can we do that especially when some people are so cruel? Jesus died for those who killed Him. He expects us to love people like He did. Remember our study about believing that God will give us the "desire and the power to do what pleases Him" (Philippians 2:13)? Since God loved everyone and if He wants us to love everyone, then He will give us the desire and the power to do that! Believe Him and watch Him love through you! (More about this in tomorrow's Daily Verse).
Jeremiah 1:9,10 NKJV - "Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: 'Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.'"
Probably part of the reason why Jeremiah's ministry would be so difficult is that God wanted him to preach messages that would "tear down and break apart" people's favored ways of living that were contrary to God's plan. This would include holding onto age-old traditions that were more important to men and women rather than obeying God's clear instructions and commands. But God knew and He was teaching Jeremiah that some things have to be broken down before something new can be built. You see this in remodeling all the time. To put up new cabinets in the kitchen, for instance, requires ripping the old cabinets off the walls first. There's a lot of mess and things don't look so great! But when the new cabinets are installed then everyone realizes the destruction was worth it in order to see something much better.
Many times in Scripture God speaks of "being broken" as a good thing. Note Psalm 51:17 NKJV - "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart--These, O God, You will not despise." And in order for some hearts to be broken the preaching of God's word has to be pointed at dealing with sin. People need to feel conviction before they can enjoy forgiveness. Pain in the heart that causes someone to get back on the right path with God is worth it all!
The "building and the planting" gives the message of HOPE! God doesn't just tear down that which is bad and leave it a mess. God is constantly in the ministry of rebuilding and renewing. And that is an exciting part of our ministries! As I've said since the beginning of this year: Everyday can be a New Beginning!
Daily commentary and insight from Pastor Eckardt.
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Mt Ephraim Baptist Church | 25 S. Black Horse Pike | Mt Ephraim, NJ 08059
Senior Pastor, Stephen A. Eckardt | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 856.981.7288