True Freedom

31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in Myword, then you are truly disciples of Mine;
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will
make you free.”
33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet
been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered
them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.
35 The slave does
not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.
36 So if the Son makes you free,
you will be free indeed. John 8:31-336 

When you think about the fourth of July you probably think of many things. You probably think
about picnics, fireworks, and family. You might also think about our independence and freedom. 

We as a country experience many freedoms that other countries do not get to experience. When
the Bill of Rights was written the Federalists did not think that it was necessary. The Anti-
Federalists however believed that it was needed to safeguard individual liberties. When one
looks at the Bill of Rights, they can see the many liberties that are given to Americans.  

The first is congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof. We as Americans are given the right to choose what religion we practice.  

The government cannot tell us that we have to practice a certain religion. We cannot be thrown
in jail for worshipping Yahweh. Even though we are given this freedom from the United States,
among many others, this is not where our freedom comes from. True freedom comes from
knowing Christ.  

Christ starts out talking about His disciples. He is saying that only those that continue in His
words would be considered His disciples. Jesus gives us two promises as His disciples. He says
that you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.  

As children of God there are things that we do not know. Just as a child learns we too should be
learning more about God each day. If we are a disciple of Christ we are going to learn and study
His word. We are going to devote time alone with God. This will help us grow in our faith and
keep us on track with God. 

As we learn more truths about God we are going to be set free. God gives us the freedom to
choose Him and when we choose Him we are going to be set free. We are going to be set free
from our spiritual enemies. We are going to be set free from the bondage of sin. We are going to
be free to worship Him and serve Him.  

These Jews that Jesus was talking to made the claim that they were Abraham’s decedents and
therefore were never in bondage to anyone. While they were not slaves to the Romans, they were still subject to the Roman Empire. They were looking at this as a physical slavery, while Jesus
was walking about spiritual liberty. Jesus was telling them, as well as us today, that the truth
liberates the mind and sets us free.  

If we continue in sin we are in bondage to sin. We are a slave to that sin. When we live
according to the flesh and make sin our business we are now enslaved to sin. Jesus wants to set
us free from this bondage. We do this by accepting the fact that He is our savior and continue to
study His word. As we learn more truths we are going to be more like Jesus and less like the
person we used to be. The truth will set us free.  

Jesus has the power to give us true freedom. He justifies us through His atonement for our sins.
He sanctifies us by breaking the power of corruption in our hearts. He pardons us of our sins and
adopts us as His own. If we choose God we can truly experience freedom that cannot be given by
any government.

Take away:

1. Freedom comes from knowing the truth.

2. Freedom from the bondage of sin comes from Christ.

3. True freedom cannot be given by man, but by Christ alone.

Pray For Men Who Are Willing To Go

This is from a devotion from a weekly men’s group I do each Tuesday morning. For the past few weeks we have been praying for specific things in the church. 
5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live  among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar  with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips;  and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is [a] forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:5-8

As a church and Disciples of Christ we have been given a command to go out and tell others about the saving grace of Christ. We are to take the gospel to all nations. We can only do this if  we have people who are willing to stand up and say “Here am I. Send Me.” This is what Isaiah  did. God called him and then qualified him for service and Isaiah stood up and said I will go for  you Lord.  

Isaiah starts out recording a vision that he had been given. This vision was intended to confirm his faith. God was about to give him a task to complete. It was not going to be an easy journey  and God wanted Isaiah to know that He was with Isaiah. When God calls us to do something He is with us. God will not leave us when we are doing His work. God created each of us for a  purpose. When God says go do it, are you going to say send me or do not send me? 

We see that Isaiah started with excuses why he could not go do what God was about to tell him to do. Isaiah said I am a man of unclean lips. We can look at this statement a few ways. Isaiah  might be saying he is sinful because he has not spoken against the sin that was taking place in  front of him. It might also be that Isaiah was saying that he was a sinner and not worthy of the  honor of doing God’s work.  

We see all throughout the bible where God took people that had shady pasts and then used them for His glory. One of Satan’s biggest lies is that we cannot be used for God because of our past. We allow Satan to remind us of our past and that takes our focus off of what God is trying to do in our lives currently. Then we are convinced that our lips are unworthy to take God’s holy name to other people.

Isaiah also says that he lives among people with unclean lips. We also live among people that have unclean lips. Many people confess to know Christ while many others do not believe in  Christ. These people that say God is not real have unclean lips and that should bring us to  sorrow. We should be concerned and heartbroken with this.  

God heard Isaiah’s concerns about being unclean but God had a greater plan for him. The seraphim flew down with a burning coal and touched the lips of Isaiah. The seraphim were  taking away the uncleanliness of Isaiah’s lips. God wanted Isaiah to handle a mission, Isaiah felt he was not qualified; God cleaned him so that he could handle the mission. Just like with us if  God calls us He will make a way for us to be able to handle it.  

Then Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord saying who shall I send and who will go. We might not here an audible voice like Isaiah heard but God still speaks to us in many ways. How can we  expect God to speak through us if we have never heard God speak to us? We need to be open to  what the Holy Spirit is doing and telling us. God might be nudging us to go do something and it up to us to do what God tells us to do. 

This was a very special and holy time between God and Isaiah. God is telling Isaiah I have a plan for you. There was a lot of spiritual deliberation going on between the two. We also should
spend a lot of time in prayer when God is sending us out. When we send out a minister or  missionary there should be a clear calling on that person’s life. Disciples should also pay  attention to God’s calling on their lives and make sure that they are doing what God has called  them to do.  

After God asks the two questions, Isaiah proudly proclaimed five words. He said ‘here I am, send me.” Isaiah made himself available. He told God I am willing to go. Isaiah knew he had a  clear calling on his life. Isaiah took it one step farther. He then tells God to send him. We need  more people in the church who are willing to stand up and say these five words: here I am send me.  

Take away:

1. When God has a plan for you, He will make a way.

2. We have to stop making excuses when God says do something.

3. We need to pray that we have people who are willing to stand up and say send me lord. 

Pray for Revival

“Will you not yourself revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your
loving kindness, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. I will hear what God the LORD will say;
For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land.”
Psalms 85:6-9 NASB

Last week we prayed for workers in the church. Jesus told us that the workers are few and that
we need to pray for more workers. Jesus tells His disciples that more workers are needed because
the harvest is ripe and plentiful. There are many people who would come to Christ if they heard.
The problem is that some people have heard Christ but their hearts are not ready to accept Christ.
We all know people in our lives think they do not need Christ. They think that they are doing
fine living without Christ. What they really need is for their hearts to be revived. They need to
experience revival. They need a change of heart.

The Psalmist is asking God will you not revive us. The people of Israel had turned against God
but they had come back and God had restored them. He had forgiven their iniquities. God is
willing to forgive the iniquities of people who will turn back to Him but people are not willing to
do that. These people need revival. This has to start in their hearts. We need to pray for people’s
hearts to be revived. We also need to examine our hearts and look at our attitude towards God.
Are we living truly for God ourselves?

When revival comes we see rejoicing in the Lord. Without our hearts being right with God we
cannot rejoice in the Lord. When we have true revival we will truly be able to rejoice. When you
experience a revived heart you are going to have peace again because you know the Prince of
Peace.

We also see that revival leads to salvation for some. There are many people who do not know
Christ as their savior. When their hearts are revived and God impresses His grace upon them
they are going to seek Him. They will seek His salvation. The Psalmist asks God to grant His
salvation. As a child of God we have experienced revival in our hearts when we accepted Christ.
Many people have never experienced that revival in their hearts. They do not know what it is like
to experience salvation.

Revival not only brings peace and salvation, but it also turns the person away from their folly.
People get caught up doing their own things. They feel that they are doing fine and do not need
God because they have got where they are by themselves. People also get caught up in sin and
they justify it and tell themselves that they are not doing anything wrong. When these people
experience revival in their hearts they turn away from their follies and turn towards God.
When people turn towards God because of a revived heart it is important to keep that feeling. It
is important that we keep our eyes and heart focused on God. If we lose focus on God we are
going to turn back to our follies. This is what happened with the Israelites in the book of Judges.
They would sin. Their hearts would be revived through God sending a judge to turn them from their wrong ways. The Israelites would worship God then eventually turn back to their old ways.
It is so important to keep from going back to your old ways.

If we experience revival we are going to see God work in this land like we have never seen
before. If we see revival in our community we are going to see the unchurched drop dramatically
from 85%. We are going to see people’s live change. We will see people more focused on loving
their neighbors instead of their selves. 

In order for revival to start we have to pray that God will change the hearts of people. We have
to also examine our hearts to make sure we are right with God. We need to pray that God will start a work in our community that will lead people back to Him. 

Take away:

1. Revival comes from God.

2. Revival brings peace and salvation.

3. We need to pray for revival.

Looking Through the Eyes of Jesus

Luke 19:41-44

41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

We see Jesus riding a colt into the city. This should be a joyous time. People were putting coats down in the street so the colt and their king would not be stepping into mud. They were praising their king and showing reverence to Jesus. They were shouting blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest. The people that had gathered were excited to see Jesus.

Jesus on the other hand had a different type of emotion. Luke tells us that Jesus wept when He saw the city. Luke was not saying that Jesus cried a few tears. He is saying that Jesus sobbed when he saw the city. It was probably a very forceful cry. Jesus was moved by what He saw as He approached the city. One would think that Jesus would be happy about what He saw, but Jesus saw something else. Through the eyes of Jesus we see a city that saw the miracles of Jesus first hand and heard his teachings but still rejected Him.

This saddened Jesus and it should sadden us too. When we look at our city through the eyes of Jesus we will see those that are hurting and those that have rejected Him. I will use Metro Atlanta as an example. There are many things that should make us sob for the people of this city. Atlanta is a hub for trafficking drugs and unfortunately humans. There is not a day that goes by that we do not hear of a homicide. There is a large homeless population in this area. We also see a lot of people that reject God even though His name has been proclaimed by many. You could replace Atlanta with almost any city and see the same situation. Our hearts should break for those that reject Jesus and go against His word.

We also see that Jesus was not only moved to tears but He was moved to action. We see that while Jesus was in the city He entered the temple. He ran the money changers out of the temple. Jesus knew that what was occurring was not right and He took action. These people were making a mockery of God’s house. Jesus could not stand by and allow this atrocity to occur any longer.

We also must be moved to action. When we see things occurring in our city that go against the will of God, the church, the bride of Christ, needs to step in and take action. There is so much more that we can do to help stop human trafficking. There is so much that we can do to help people overcome addiction. There are many Christian programs that our churches can offer to help people overcome their addictions. When we see people who are lacking the church should be the one helping them to get back on their feet.

We also see that Jesus teaching every day. He was proclaiming the gospel and telling everyone that the Kingdom of God was at hand. Jesus was concerned with the spiritual health of all. Jesus was spending His time in the temple. He did this even though the religious leaders were trying to stop Him.

We also must be concerned about the spiritual health of everyone. We must proclaim the name of Jesus to anyone that will listen. There might be some that try to stop us but we have to tell about the saving power of God’s grace.

Take away:

  1. See your city through the eyes of Jesus.
  2. Be moved to action.
  3. Proclaim the name of Jesus wherever you are.

Follow God’s Will Even When Facing a Den of Lions

Daniel 6:16-18

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

All of the leaders of the region came together to develop a decree that if anyone asked anything of Yahweh or any other god for the next thirty days they would be thrown into the lion’s den. They convinced King Darius that this was necessary and so he signed it. It was now illegal to even pray to God.

Daniel knew that this was not the will of God. We can learn many lessons from Daniel on how to respond when the world tells us to turn from God. We have so many worldly influences trying to turn us away from God. Prayer in schools in no longer allowed. Prayer before government meetings is even frowned upon in some areas. The world has taken what God has called sin and said it is ok. We have to be strong because sometimes it is hard to be open about your faith in a world that frowns upon Christianity.

Daniel was steadfast in his faith. We see that Daniel, knowing the decree, did not waver from his time of prayer. Daniel would face Jerusalem and pray giving thanks to Yahweh three times a day. Daniel refused to let the world dictate who he worshipped, even though it would certainly mean a violent death.

We also see that when you are doing the will of God you will be at peace with your decision. Daniel continued to pray and worship God. Daniel did not try to hide his faith. He prayed in front of an open window. We have no indication that Daniel was concerned about what was going to happen. When Daniel was brought to the king, he did not argue with the king. He did not plead with the king or waiver in his faith.

When God is telling you to do something you need to listen to what He is telling you to do. You need to pay attention to God’s will for your life. When you do what God is telling you, you will have an inner peace. You will be at peace when you are doing God’s will; however, this does not mean you will not experience hard times.

Daniel was not willing to compromise on his faith and was thrown into the lion’s den even though he was doing God’s will. When he was thrown in the den we see that God protected him. We do not have to fight our battles, God is there for us. God sent an angel into the den and shut the mouths of the lions so Daniel would not be harmed. Daniel was in the will of God and therefore God protected him by fighting his battles.

Looking at king Darius we can also learn what happens when we get out of the will of God. The first thing we see is that you will be stressed. We see that the king went back to his palace that night and was deeply troubled. He could not sleep. He did not eat. God was impressing upon him that he had done something wrong.

When we turn our backs on God we will have an emptiness that can only be filled through God. We are going to hunger for something and that something is the bread of life. We are going to have that hunger until we turn back to God and get in His will. The king was troubled until he got back to the den this next morning. He found that Daniel was still alive and he had his men get Daniel out of the den. He was exceedingly glad at this point. He was glad because he was getting back into God’s will.

We also see that when you are not in God’s will, He will reveal Himself in ways that are unimaginable. God revealed Himself through that shut mouth of a lion that was meant to kill and devour. These lions were meant to devour Daniel however an angel shut their mouths until the right time came along. That right time was when Daniel’s accusers were thrown into the den.

Take away:

  1. Be steadfast in your faith even in the face of persecution.
  2. When you are in the will of God, you will have peace.
  3. When you are out God’s will, God will make it abundantly clear.

What Idols do You Have?

15 Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Nebuchadnezzar had become so bold that he had now built a very tall golden image that was to be worshiped. Nebuchadnezzar had set up an idol that was to be worshiped. Perhaps he set this statue up so he could be worshiped through it.  He was now making himself into a god. The worst part is that he was making others worship a false idol as well. Many of the officials in the region were required to attend this dedication. They made a foolish journey to come worship a false idol, but putting it into perspective worshiping a false idol is foolish.

We do not have kings building false idols and requiring us to worship the statue, but we do have idols that we see every day. We have less subtle idols in our lives. We have some that are obvious such as celebrities. You might be saying I do not worship celebrities. Think about this, do you know more about pop culture then you do the bible? What about money? When you are more concerned with making money then you open your heart up to many more sins such as greed or pride. Your job might even be an idol. If your job keeps you from doing what God has called you to do, it might be an idol that you are refusing to give up.

When everyone arrived they were given the command to bow down and worship the statue when the signal was given. Nebuchadnezzar declared that anyone that did not bow down and worship would be thrown into a fiery furnace that was already prepared. Many people probably bowed down in fear that they would be thrown into the furnace. They did not want to die so they chose to follow the ways of the world. The problem is they were choosing an eternal death to keep from dying at that moment. Others probably bowed down to the king’s statue out of their love for a false god.

There were three young men that made their mind up that they would not worship a false god. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow down. This enraged the king. He confronted the three men and wanted to know why they were not following his command. These men had made up their mind that they would not serve any other gods except Yahweh. They had made up their mind before they were put into this situation. They were so devoted to Yahweh that they were going to follow His commands and only worship Him.

As followers of Christ we have to be committed to putting God first in our lives. We are bombarded with things every day that could easily take the place of God if we allow them. Our relationship with Yahweh must take priority. When this happens we grow deeper in our faith and we do not compromise our walk.

These three men knew that not following the commands of the king would mean that they would be sentenced to death; however, their love for God helped them make the decision to not follow the king. Before we are put into a situation where we have to choose things of this world over God we have to resolve to live for God. It might not be an easy decision, but following God is always the right decision.

Take away:

  1. We must examine our hearts and make sure that we have no idols in our lives.
  2. We cannot let the world dictate how we live and what or who we worship.
  3. Have the courage to live for God even in a world that worships false gods.

Look for Opportunities to Share Christ

Acts 8:30-31

30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Phillip was on his way back to Jerusalem. He had been out preaching the gospel to many Samaritan villages. Phillip had his own plan on how to get back to Jerusalem. God had another plan though and it was revealed through an angel of the Lord. The angel told Phillip to go down a desert road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.

Phillip is probably thinking I want to get back home. I have been gone for a while and it will be nice to be home for a little while. Phillip listened though. We go through life with our own plans each day, but God might have a better plan that day. God might be putting someone in your path that needs to hear the gospel. God might be putting someone in your path that is struggling.

As Phillip listened he came across a eunuch from Ethiopia. This eunuch was a court official for the Ethiopian queen. He had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was seeking God’s word. He was seeking what he was missing in life. Many people we come across everyday are doing the same thing. They are seeking God’s love and grace but do not understand what they are seeking or how to find it. They need someone to explain it to them.

God placed Phillip in the path of this eunuch for a reason. God might be placing someone in your path today that needs to hear the word of God. They might be seeking God and do not understand. The Spirit told Phillip to go join this chariot. When he got there, Phillip heard the eunuch reading from Isaiah. Phillip asked him if he understood. He asked how would I understand unless someone guides me.

We must be ready to help people understand the gospel. When we come across people in our lives that are struggling with the gospel we need to be able to explain it to them in a way that makes since. We lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance. You can also show scripture to that person in order to explain what salvation means.

We see the eunuch start asking questions about what he had read. Phillip is willing to answer the questions. Imagine if Phillip had said I do not have time to do this. Imagine if Phillip had said at least he is reading scripture. Phillip could have easily said I want to get home. I am tired and I do not have time for this. Phillip did not do this. He took the time to explain scripture to the eunuch. When he did this he proclaimed Jesus to a lost soul that was seeking God.

We then see that the eunuch accepted Christ. Phillip baptized the eunuch in a body of water that they came across. Phillip listened to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and it led him to a person that was seeking God. Through Phillip’s faithfulness an Ethiopian came to know Christ that afternoon.

Take away:

  1. God might be leading you to someone that needs to know Him. If this is the case follow God’s lead.

2.  Be ready to explain the gospel to anyone that is willing to listen and is seeking God.

Suffering Produces Hope

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Paul is telling us to glory in our sufferings. We should take honor in our sufferings and have a thankful heart. We should be thanking God when we face hard times. This seems so opposite of what we are accustomed to. When we face hard times we do not think about thanking God. Some curse God, but most people at the very least start questioning God. Most people want to know why they are facing hard times and if it will end. Paul is telling us to not do that because our sufferings will bring hope in the end.

Think about the last time you were suffering. You might be facing a situation right now that is causing major suffering and heartache in your life. I would almost bet that your first thought was not praise, but it should be. We as humans have emotions that get in our way. We get angry, sad, upset, distressed, or wounded.

As we face sufferings God is going to be working with us and through us. Our patience is going to be tested. There is a saying that God will not give you more than you can handle. Well that is not always true. God will give you more than you can handle. You are going to be tested to the max. You are going to have times where you are not sure how you will survive. God wants you to fully trust in Him. He is building your patience. When you fully trust in Him you are going to persevere.

This perseverance will help develop your character. When you face a hardship you have two choices. The first choice is to suffer. When you suffer your character will show. You will become irritable, grouchy, stressed, you might withdraw from people. The people closest to you will notice your behavior and actions. Your other option is to rejoice in your hardships. Your character will be completely opposite. People will also take notice to your actions. Many times people know you are struggling and they will be surprised at the way you are behaving. Your character will be wonderful.

When our character is based on rejoicing and trusting in God we will have hope. In the book of Job we see Job mention in 23:10 that when he is tested he will come out refined like gold. When we suffer God is taking us through a process in order to refine us. Knowing that God is there with us all the time is enough to provide hope and encouragement.

We can be assured that this hope will not disappoint us. God does not want us to be ashamed of our suffering or be disappointed. He wants us to have full dependence on Him. We need to be so in tune with God that we know what He is doing. We need to always keep our eyes focused on Him. When we face hard times if we are focused on Him we will be prepared to persevere.

Take away:

  1. Sufferings will come and you have two choices. You can curse God or place your trust in Him and give Him glory.
  2. Our suffering is a refining process that God is putting us through.
  3. Our hope in the good times and bad times comes from trusting in God’s plan.

 

Love Everyone

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48

The Lord has commanded us to love our neighbor. We are taught that we should love our neighbor. This includes everyone and not just who we choose to love. The world for thousands of years has perverted this law to fit human thought. We have taken the law and changed it to say what God never intended for it to say. We have added that it is ok to hate your enemy. When God said to love your neighbor, He did not give a conjunction. He did not say love your neighbor if. He did not say love your neighbor but. God was saying that we are to love our neighbor unconditionally.

When you look at the definition of enemy it is a person who is actively opposed to someone. As we look around we can see many people that are opposed to someone else. We have seen many people who are opposed to the current political leaders. We have also seen people who are opposed to those people. By this definition many people have created enemies. There have been hateful things said by many people just because they do not agree with someone. Many people who have said these things that are very critical are people who have God in their hearts.

Jesus is telling us to love our enemy. This is so counterculture as we are so accustomed to hating those that oppose. Most people are going to say they do not hate, but are you really showing love if you are making comments that are glorifying to God? Instead of spending time criticizing others because their views are opposite, we should concentrate on listening to the views of others. It is time we have a serious dialogue on many issues in America. We have several issues that have divided us as a country. These issues have caused division because of opposing views. When we listen to each other and open our hearts we are going to have a better appreciation for our neighbor. When we appreciate people we are going to start loving each other.

God also says to pray for those that persecute you. We see that Jesus prayed for those that persecuted Him. When we pray for those that persecute us we are living out an example of Christ. We must pray that God will forgive them. We also must pray that if we have done something to them that God will reveal it to us so that we can seek forgiveness. We also should pray that peace is restored between the two parties.

We are too strive to love like God did. We are to love everyone. Part of loving your enemy is to forgive people. It is God’s nature to forgive. When we have a wrong done to us we should not seek revenge but forgive. This is hard but we will have peace in our hearts. We also show love by showing hospitality to strangers. We also show love by doing good to ungrateful evildoers. We also show God’s love by not responding negatively online when we see something we do not agree with. God’s love will only be shown when we strive to see everyone through the eyes of God.

Love vs. Hate

“I have decided to stick with love…hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of MLK day on January 16, 2017 I decided to use a quote from Dr. King to write this devotional. This is a devotional for a men’s prayer group that meets on Tuesday morning. There is so much truth in this quote. This quote speaks volumes about where our heart should be when it comes to how we treat each other.

1 John 4:7-13

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 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. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

Love comes from God. We are told in many places that we are to love one another. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor. Paul tells the church in Thessalonica that he should not have to write them because God himself tells us to love one another. If we know God and are born of God then we should love. We are told that if we truly love then we are born of God.

Likewise we are told that if you do not know God then you are not able to love. God is love and we must know Him in order to truly love. We cannot give away something that we do not have. If we do not have God in us then we cannot love, because we do not have love.

We also see that God loved us that He sent His son to die for us. He gave His only son as a sacrifice for our sins. This was done so that we might live through Jesus. God did not do this because we loved Him. He did this because He loves us that much. He did this even though we were still sinners.

We are told that God is love. He loves us. We are able to live through the sacrifice that was made through Jesus because of God’s love. Therefore we should love one another. It is a cause and effect. The cause is God loves us and the effect is that we love each other. If we love one another then God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.

Hate

1 John 2:9,11

The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

When you say that you have God then that means that you have love inside you. This love should be seen by everyone that you meet, but this cannot be so if you hate your brother. If you have hatred in your heart then you do not have room for God. God and hate cannot exist.

When you hate you have taken your eyes off of God. You are no longer focused on what God is doing around you. You are no longer walking in light. You are now walking in darkness without God.

Are you loving as God says?

  1. Love God then love your neighbor.
  2. Do not hate those that have difference of opinions then you do.
  3. Have love and compassion for the oppressed.
  4. Love everyone enough that you are willing to share God with them.