Sunday, January 25, 2015

The word "enemy" or its plural "enemies" is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible and is the focus of large sections of Scripture.  Much of the Old Testament deals with the conflict and battles between Israel and its "enemies".  Two things are abundantly clear in Scripture.  First, each of us as Christians will face enemies and face persecution from those enemies because of our belief and faith in Christ (2 Timothy 3:12).  Second, God in His loving-kindness left many words of wisdom in Scripture to prepare us for dealing with those enemies who will persecute us.  

In this modern world strength and success in conflicts is clearly measured by winning.  Defeating one's enemies is undisputedly a primary pursuit and focus for many societies.  Whether it is defeating an enemy in a battle over possessions or being victorious in forcing beliefs and lifestyles on others - we are preoccupied with proving our superiority over our enemies.  Yet God's desire is not that we be focused on winning and defeating our enemies at any cost.  He is most interested in how we treat those we are in conflict with. 

Want to know God's thoughts on how you should treat your enemies?  Well here they are…

  • Love your enemies and pray for them.  Matt 5:43-48
  • Help your enemies in need.  Exodus 23:4-5
  • Provide life sustaining care to your enemies.  Proverbs 25:21-22
  • Forgive your enemies.  Luke 23:34, Acts 7:60
  • Bless and endure your enemies.  1 Corinthians 4:12
Not what you expected?  If you think about it, how powerful is it when you follow God's instruction to pray for your enemies as well as yourself?  Do you believe He will be more likely to answer your prayers and reward you as He has promised?  How much more difficult is it for someone to hate you when you have helped rather than hurt them?  How much more endearing is showing compassion to others rather than contempt?  How irresistible is experiencing grace when you are expecting retaliation?  How many relationships have been mended through love rather than hate?

God doesn't expect us to let others mistreat or abuse us.  There is no prohibition against righteous defense of one's self, one's family or one's people.  God is really more focused on our heart's response to our enemies.  He does not want us to hate our enemies or to fail to bless or pray for them as we are called to do.  If we are obedient to God and love and pray for our enemies He promises to reward us, if not on this earth, then most assuredly in Heaven.  So the question is, will we follow God's direction for OVERCOMING OUR ENEMIES or will we seek to solve it as the ungodly do through hate, intolerance and persecution?  Which approach do you think will be rewarded and be most successful in the end?

Sunday, January 4, 2015


In Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8 Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower to the crowds gathered around him.  In this parable Jesus compares the sharing of the Gospel message to the farmer sowing seeds in a field.  Christ explains that as the farmer scatters seed in a field some of it lands on rocky soil, some in shallow soil, some in weedy soil and some in fertile soil.  Many in the crowd who are listening are unable and/or unwilling to understand the meaning of the story.

When asked by His Disciples why He spoke in parables, or stories, that were sometimes not easily grasped by all who heard them, Jesus responded that only those who truly desired and sought the meaning would find it.  There would be those who heard but never cared to understand (never took root), those who tried to understand but soon gave up when they realized the cost to their lives (had no root), those who tried to understand but let other things rule their lives (smothered out by weeds) and those who understood and took the message to heart (took root and grew into a plant that produced fruit).

The Bible Exposition Commentary uses the following illustrations to further explain Jesus message in terms of the conditions of our hearts when we hear the Gospel message: 
  • Hard Heart - hears but resists the Word of God and opens up to all kinds of worldly influences which can harden the heart to truth.  Satan quickly takes the message away for it will not root.
  • Shallow Heart - hears but has no foundational understanding, the "emotional hearer" who in a moment of enthusiasm or exuberance over a message responds but has no idea of the cost and soon finds the cost more than they are willing to pay.  There is no true "root", so although joyful at first it is short lived.
  • Crowded Heart - hears but has so many lusts, priorities, desires in the heart that the message is soon pushed aside in pursuit of worldly things.  The worries and things of this life quickly crowd out the Word.
  • Fruitful Heart - hears the message and it takes root.  The changed life of a true believer produces fruit.  Serving God through any means is a driving force in their lives.
If you are reading this message, the condition of your heart is being tested.  Don't allow you heart to be hard, shallow or crowded.  As you read this God may be calling you right now to hear and receive His message and be fruitful.  Or He may be reminding you of your present condition.  Don't turn away, worry the cost or let other things crowd out His Call to you.
If you have not responded to the Gospel Call, admitted your sinful nature, realized your need to repent of your sins and asked God to save you from your sins and be Lord of your life do so now.  Read the Bible and seek to learn God's word with others in a Christ centered Church.  Be The Seed That Grows Into A Fruitful Plant.