fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Love Your Enemies

Love Your Enemies by Julie McAllen

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Lk 6:27-36)

It’s tough. Really tough. To be mocked, ignored, shunned, taken advantage of, the object of scorn? Suffering for thine enemies takes on many faces. Is the enemy the disease attacking your body from which you seek relief? When the pain is real, is it enough to know that Jesus “carried our sicknesses?” (Is 53:4) When the enemy is one who opposes your faith at work, home or even at church, is it enough to know that Jesus is familiar with suffering, despised and rejected by men? (Is 53:3) We hope in the resurrection, but when the enemy death steals those we love, we still suffer grief. It’s tough to love your enemies. Misery loves company, but misery also seeks immediate relief. We agree, “yes Lord, love my enemies, but get me out of this!”

Regardless of who or what that enemy proves to be, are we given any instruction from God in how we can cope with this perplexing and difficult command to “love your enemies?”

It’s easy to become a Christian. Get saved, go to church, wait for heaven. It’s easy, until you actually attempt to walk in the Spirit, fulfilling the words of Spirit that wage war against your flesh.

Love my enemy? Pray for those who persecute me!!? Who of us has not wanted to skip highlighting that one in our Bibles? We love to get our yellow markers out for the verses that tell us how loved WE are by God, but these ones are harder to accept, let alone apply. It makes little sense to our eyes of flesh when we see these words, but coming from Jesus, we know they are not mere red letters on a page, they are words of Spirit and life (John 6:63).

And so, we need his Spirit to accept them.

The apostle Paul, a saved and deeply spiritual man, outlined for our benefit the battle with sin he endured. Through it, he came to understand that within his flesh, or sin nature, nothing good resided there. (Ro 7:18) Paul did not stay in the infancy stage of his Christian life enjoying the bliss of salvation, he pressed on to maturity to know the suffering of Christ. He learned this through the battle of flesh and Spirit. Through this, Paul concluded it was impossible to please God or have fellowship with him in the flesh (Ro 8:8). What a wretched condition to love God and seek to please him, but fail time after time. Love your enemies? Try it in the flesh and you will know how far from God you really are.

Paul was humbled through his battle with the flesh and thereby could write with authority the truth of his own condition and ours. The truth? We’re hopeless, defeated and enslaved to the sin in us. Who will rescue us from this body of death? (Ro 7:24)

An authentic Christian life is not easy. It is the very real struggle of flesh and Spirit battling it out in our members. Proverbs 3:5 admonishes us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Yes, obey –even when it makes no sense to your flesh. Loving our enemies is such a daunting task. Our flesh resists it, our Spirit knows we are to obey. A battle ensues. What makes sense to the flesh is in opposition to God. And so, in Paul’s raw exposure of the battle, he offers the solution of how to win the war.

Life by the Spirit

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Ga 5:16-18)

What does this mean to “walk by the Spirit?” Is it to be continually in a love fest with the Lord overflowing with bliss? Oh that it were! But notice what Paul shares about this after he outlines the struggle of flesh and Spirit for us.

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Ro 8:12-17)

We have an obligation. It is to put to death the misdeeds of our flesh. One of which is a sinful inclination to withhold love from our enemies. Our flesh is opposed to giving them anything good. It is impossible to do this without God’s help. And so, how do we love them? How do we pray for them? Oh Jesus, help!

Our High Priest

The letter to the Hebrews outlines the priestly role of Jesus Christ who has entered the Most Holy Place with his own blood, in fact, the blood of God (Heb 9:12, Acts 20:28). And by this blood, we were invited into the New Covenant of which he is our mediator. The righteous blood of Jesus purified us to stand before the throne of God with confidence (Heb 10:19-22) And it is there, in that confidence that we trust the promise Jesus made at John 15:16 that what we ask in his name it will be given. To utter a prayer simply adding “in Jesus’ name” is not a magic formula however. It is the assured expectation from the prayer of intercession in which we become aware that we are not the ones praying. For in his position as High Priest, Hebrews 7:25 states that he is always alive and interceding for us. When he became the mediator of the New Covenant, we were invited to pray in his will and not our own.

As the body of Christ here on earth, we became the temple in which his Spirit dwells. The Spirit is always alive and interceding through us. If you’ve ever had the experience of being awakened in the middle of the night to pray and yet not know why or for whom, you understand the meaning of an aspect of walking in the Spirit.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Ro 8:26-27)

To groan and search in intercession under a burden not even knowing why is not the pleasant experience we seek in prayer, but it comes upon us like an unexpected wind. Our obedience is simply to remain in prayer waiting for a breakthrough. When we are not given the why or the who but only the burden, it comes out as “the groans that words can not express” for if we knew what to pray, we’d just say it wouldn’t we? But the Spirit-led prayer is the way in which Jesus intercedes on behalf of the saints. Without even realizing it, sometimes we pray for our enemies or those opposing other believers. When we faithfully avail ourselves to his work, relief comes when we become aware of the power flowing through us and out of us knowing that something or someone is being loosed in heaven (Matt 18:18). It’s a wonderful shared blessing when the Spirit reveals who it is we’ve been interceding for as we wait to see how he carries it out in this realm. When that person tells you how recently some “coincidence” occurred that solved a problem they’d been dealing with, our expressions of “praise God!” are most sincere. It’s no longer a praise for their “good fortune” in the happy coincidence, it is in the very real understanding that God had it planned for them and heard the cries of their heart in advance, but before he would pour out the blessing, he invited someone here on earth to speak it into existence through prayer. For everything that is good is created from his word, not our own. He invites us to intercession, he invites us into his divine nature and purpose.

So we see that the Spirit is capable of praying blessings through us. As our flesh resists loving our enemies, do you see how it is that we could pray for them? The obligation is not so much “pray for your enemies” as it is not to obey our sinful nature and live according to it. (Ro 8:12) We obey the Spirit’s lead.

When faced with the very real and very difficult task of loving those whom your flesh resists, we are not obligated to listen to the desires of that flesh–we are under command to live in the Spirit. Too often the concept of being “Spirit-filled” has been reduced to the pleasantries of worship. While prayers of adoration and corporate communion with the saints is ordained by God and necessary for our joy and refreshment, the suffering and burden that comes with the alignment of our wills to God’s is also part of the Spirit-filled life.

So God asks us to “love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who abuse us.” Is he asking us to be doormats? What is God’s goal in this? It remains as in all things, “to conform us into the likeness of his son.” This is why we were called in the first place (Ro 8:29).

Jesus, the firstborn among many brothers, walked perfectly by conforming his flesh to that of the Spirit. Paul also “pummeled his body and led it as a slave.” (1 Co 9:27) Yes, we DO have an obligation. It’s painfully stated as our assignment to put to death the misdeeds of our own sinful nature.

 Our adoption

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (Jn 1:12)

It is bliss to have the revelation that we belong to Christ having been adopted as children of God. Our spirit testifies with his and we cry out “Abba Father!” It is good to belong! But what kind of Spirit did we receive?

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Ro 8:15)

The same Spirit of adoption is not a spirit of fear! Fear makes us retreat from an enemy. Fear makes us protect our own.

Look now at your High Priest. He knows your fears, your situations and your sufferings. You have taken comfort in that understanding. But the pain is still there, causing your flesh to cry out for relief to be removed from this enemy.

Now look again at Jesus. He was enthroned in the heavens before coming to our earth. He looked down from that vantage point knowing that he was about to enter a hostile environment as a helpless baby, dependent upon sinful humans. He knew so well the suffering he would endure at the cross that he sweat drops of blood asking the cup of his affliction to pass if there were any other way. There was no other way. So, FEARLESSLY he came to earth. FEARLESSLY he presented himself to those he knew would one day spit in his face and nail his hands. He didn’t retreat. He faced the greatest enemy of those he loved. He faced death for all of us. He was moved by love, not fear. Perfect love had cast out fear. (1 John 4:18) And this is the same Spirit we received. And this is the Spirit praying for our enemies.

We do suffer. Maybe not at a literal cross, but by putting to death our own sinful nature. The nature that fears the enemy, the nature that retreats, the nature that refuses to bless, love or pray for those who oppose us. Our Lord died for us while we were yet his enemies (Ro 5:8-10), he asks us now to do the same. Oh God, help us!

And so, given his Spirit, we are commanded to love our enemies. We come before him, acknowledging our sin—the reluctance of our flesh to love and to bless. And we ask for a Helper. God has given us his Spirit, not so we can separate ourselves from our enemies, but to enable us to love them and thereby reflect his glory.

and if (we are) children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Ro 8:17-18)

Keep yourselves in God’s love, Julie

August 9, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions, Prayer Requests | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Love Your Enemies

Bless the Opposition

 Bless the Opposition by Julie McAllen

“I don’t need this!” Who hasn’t blurted that out in some form or another when faced with a hardship? Everything was going just fine until THIS came along. If it would just go away, all would be blessed, or so we think. We all encounter opposition: financial burdens, physical disabilities, difficult people in our lives, and recurring negative habits of our own. Somethings we may have a measure of control over, other things simply must be endured.

When Moses was first called to task, his immediate response was to talk to God about his own imperfection. He admitted he was not a good speaker and questioned God’s choice to make him a spokesman on behalf of Israel. Though the Lord promised He would help by including Aaron, a perplexing character trait of God is revealed in the passage.

The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? (Exodus 4:11)

God MADE Moses to be slow of speech and tongue and yet in this God-given imperfection, he was called to do a great work. If God needed a spokesman, why didn’t He simply create a radio announcer type of fellow and use him? Why Moses? Furthermore, as Moses and Aaron went forth to Pharaoh they encountered opposition. If God wanted Pharaoh to “let His people go,” don’t you think He would’ve paved the way and made it simpler for poor stuttering Moses? God had not blessed his task with an immediate submission on Pharaoh’s part, to the contrary the account accredited God Himself as the one who hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 10:20)!

Note how God used the opposition in the case of Moses.

9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.” 10 “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said. Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the LORD our God. 11 The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.” 12 After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the LORD about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. 13 And the LORD did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. 14 They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. (Exodus 8:9-15)

Moses showed fine character in leaving Pharaoh the honor of setting aside time to pray for him and his officials. Do we consider it an honor to pray for those who oppose us? And look at the result. God heard and sent the relief Moses prayed for on behalf of Pharaoh. Though Pharaoh’s heart was unchanged, what do you suppose this did for Moses’ faith? One answered prayer, two responses.

Did it get any better?

25 Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both men and animals… Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28 Pray to the LORD, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer.” 29 Moses replied, “When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the LORD. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the LORD’s. 30 But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the LORD God.”….. Then Moses left Pharaoh and went out of the city. He spread out his hands toward the LORD; the thunder and hail stopped, and the rain no longer poured down on the land. 34 When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts. 35 So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had said through Moses. (Exodus 9:25-35)

Another plague, another prayer. This time we see Pharaoh having some faith in what the prayers of Moses can accomplish. He even admits his sin. Yet when the hail ends, Pharaoh’s hard heart is once again revealed but Moses continues to have faith in God. Do you suppose he was perplexed at this point? Do you suppose Moses wondered if his efforts with Pharaoh were a waste of time? Do you ever wonder if he got weary praying for this obstinate man’s heart?

Plague after plague, prayer after prayer, the story was played out in Exodus and in the hearts of Moses and Pharaoh.

9 The LORD had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country. (Exodus 11:9-10)

Moses was even told by God that Pharaoh would refuse his efforts. That is disheartening, especially for someone like Moses who wasn’t exactly custom-made for preaching in the first place. But he was also given wisdom as to why. This is key. In James chapter one where we are admonished to find joy in our trials, it also encourages that if we lack wisdom, we ought to ask God (James 1:2-5). Moses was a man like us, I have no doubt he had frustrations in this calling God gave him. He must’ve sought God many times before he understood it wasn’t just about him and Pharaoh’s stand-off, it was greater than that. It was that God may be glorified in Egypt. And through this, God created out of humble Moses a new man, a leader.

As if the opposition of Pharaoh and his officials were not enough, even the people whom Moses was defending and rescuing began to turn on him. Had Moses not sought God’s wisdom and understood the greater purpose, he might have given up his leadership role, which was not about glorifying Moses, but in leading the ones being rescued to glorify God!

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” 13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:10-14)

Moses knew the One who called him. It is fitting that Moses was not a born leader when he was called. There’s no bravado here. His faith is evident in the face of this opposition from pursuer and rescued. He’s against what looks impossible and hopeless and he knows the wonders he performed earlier were not of himself but of God. He has nothing left to rely on but faith in this same God who called him in his imperfection and that is why he could say to this imperfect people “stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” Without having all the answers and the map laid out as to how that would take place, he trusted in God’s deliverance. It looked hopeless, but Moses had learned to cry out in prayer and also learned to listen and obey.

15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:15-18)

I chuckle at how this might’ve been said in modern terms.”Stop praying already, I heard ya! Now MOVE IT! Don’t argue, I know it sounds silly, but stand there and hold up this stick!” Sometimes we have to be against an approaching army and the sea before we’ll stop arguing with God and do the uncommon thing He advises. Moses could’ve gone back to the fleshly way he responded when God first began to dialogue with him. He could’ve brought up all his imperfections or pointed out the sins of these people grumbling against him when they ought to be thanking him. He could’ve thrown up his hands and said, “impossible!” He could’ve cursed at God and yelled, “a stick?! That’s your answer?! Hold up a stick?!” But I believe it was through the trials and opposition he incurred with Pharaoh that Moses became the man God knew from the start he would be…despite what Moses thought of himself. And what of God? We all know the story don’t we? Did He show His power to all of Egypt and His people Israel also? The exodus is well-known right down to us, those who believe and those whose hearts are hardened. We still know the story. May God be glorified.

Jesus admitted that in this life we too would have trouble, and the Bible speaks often of human suffering as well as persecution, so we shouldn’t be surprised. But what’s the point? Why? Can anything good come from trials, suffering or opposition?

We come to God when we’re at the end of ourselves. Often it’s those trials that push us to the edge where we can no longer place blame on anyone else or the circumstances, and we are left to examine our own faith in God’s promises and in the character He is desiring to birth in us.

It’s not about the world around us then, it’s about the perfection God is creating in us. So, consider it all joy as you undergo trials. God isn’t finished with us yet. Just as Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered here on earth, so we do also (Heb 5:8). Will we give up or see the glory of God?

In a New Testament account, the disciples ask Jesus about the condition of a blind man wondering if his disability can be attributed to his own sin or that of his parents. Jesus’ reply echoes the statement Jehovah gave to Moses about his stuttering.

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. (John 9:3)

Who makes a man deaf, mute or blind? Both these accounts agree that the Lord is the Author of Life, even life imperfect. Our disabilities were written into our stories.

And just as Moses and Aaron went to confront the opposition of Pharaoh, the blind man was interrogated and opposed by the religious leaders of his day. Isaiah was sent to preach and within the same breath told no one would listen to him (Is 6:9-13)! It was decided upon in his mother’s womb that Jeremiah would be sent as a prophet to Judah and no one listened after 23 years of proclaiming the words God gave him (Jer 25:3). The blind man, Pharaoh, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the captivity of Israel. All were written into the story. And what about Peter’s denial of Christ? The betrayer Judas? And Christ’s death on a cross itself. All written in advance. Trials, suffering, opposition…..of God? Who hardened Pharaoh’s heart? Who makes the blind and the deaf? We can’t blame our Pharaohs. We can’t always blame the devil. Dare we blame God?

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? 22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory (Ro 9:14-23)

It does not depend upon our desire or our effort, yet He sends us out. He even hardens whom it pleases Him to harden for the sake of displaying His power. I am humbled to realize that if I have any shred of faith, it truly is a gift. I am an object of His mercy. In this, God has taught me to pray mercy toward others and not “change them so I can have a nice day.”

When Jehovah called His people Israel as His witnesses, He did not say their testimony was to make converts, rather He declared that by giving a witness THEY would know, believe, and understand who He was (Isaiah 43:10). And yet, as many miracles as they witnessed, the Lord did not give them a mind to understand (Deut 29:2-6).

And when many of that nation rejected the Messiah, even then in Paul’s anguished cries for their salvation, he was given wisdom of God’s sovereign choice as noted in Romans 9. He came to understand that a remnant of that nation were chosen by grace while some were given a spirit of stupor–similar to Pharaoh’s hardened heart.

5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, 8 as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” (Romans 11:5-8)

As written, they were warned within their own scrolls that understanding and wisdom would be sealed (Isaiah 29:9-12). No amount of reading would unlock it. Jesus himself quoted the scriptures that proved their fulfillment. Still it was hidden. Paul strove earnestly using the scrolls and his background as a Pharisee to reason with his brothers, yet they remained hardened while the elect received mercy and grace.

Paul understood that wisdom is not found merely in the black and white letters found in ancient scrolls. Wisdom comes from the Spirit.

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:6-10)

As we encounter opposition and see no results, what does it do to our faith? Moses continued to trust in the Invisible though the situation appeared hopeless. He focused on the big picture of God’s glory. Paul gave his life to ministry while understanding many would never hear, never see. He knew it was completely dependent upon God’s mercy to reveal anything by His Spirit. He also understood the big picture as to why there had to be given a spirit of stupor–for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. The script was already written. And regarding Israel’s continued obstinacy, Paul said, “because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” (Ro 11:11)

God had a reason for hardening hearts back then, do you suppose He does now in whatever opposition we are facing?

Paul also understood that the persecution against him was for the advancement of the kingdom. Could this be the case in our suffering too? His focus was continually on God’s glory rather than his own suffering. Could this be our attitude too?

12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. (Phil 1:12-14)

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. (Phil 1:27-30)

Wisdom from the Spirit revealed a purpose in the opposition God allowed. So how are you handling your opposition?

44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt 5:44-48)

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. (Phil 2:14-16)

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Pe 4:12-19)

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Love with Action

Love with Action by Julie McAllen

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:18-20)

How we long to have our hearts at rest in God’s presence! According to this, we rest when we know we belong to the truth. And how do we know? By action taken first. For we are not to love just in words, but with actions and in truth. This is not talking about works for works sake as if we perform an action and then God will grant our requests. It has to do with faith. When we feel the nudge to trust and go forward in faith, we know we belong to the truth because we have listened to his voice. Has God put something on your heart? Some action you’ve neglected due to fear of failure? Never put out that fire. Trust the nudge. Do you know why we put out our own fire? Because our own hearts condemn us. We doubt our abilities, our circumstances, the reactions of others to us, etc. We allow our hearts to condemn us. When that happens, we’ve given lordship to the sin nature and fear reigns supreme. If we truly have faith and make Jesus Lord in our lives, we trust that we are not condemned because as the word of life proclaims, “God is greater than our hearts.”

So where are you? Who told you that you were naked? God speaks to your heart assuring you that you’ve been forgiven, empowered, given victory, and are no longer condemned, but another voice says otherwise. Faith is trusting God’s voice. He clothed you in his righteousness at the cross, who told you that you were naked? When we find ourselves in a state of condemning our own hearts, that nakedness immobilizes our actions to follow the nudge in something we’re called to do. God has plans for you and yet you do not trust him enough to follow through. You feel the unrest and begin praying, but in actuality you’ve already given into doubt not trusting God at all. How? By lack of action. In prayer you’re seeking rest for your troubled heart, but your love so far has only been expressed in words and not action driven by faith. That is why a troubled feeling hovers over you making you wonder if you even belong to the truth. So what is a troubled heart to do? The voice of our Lord begins,

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. (John 14:1)

Trust in God. These are not just words, they call us to the first necessary action. They call our own hearts to trust even when our feelings conflict with what it says. Our hearts are troubled. We hear the words that say “have faith” but dear children, let us not love with mere words but with action and in truth. The truth is, God loves and forgives you. The first action on your part is to trust this. No matter how low or inadequate you may feel, trust in faith that God is with you always. Trust that and begin your prayers establishing that confidence.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb 4:16)

When our hearts are troubled, that is the time to trust in God. We begin by trusting that God is greater than our hearts. Therefore, do not let your heart be troubled, trust in God. Trust that your salvation and righteous standing before the throne is based on what Jesus already did for you at the cross so that you may enter confidently and receive mercy and find grace to help you in your time of need. As you are refreshed and built up in faith, trust his love and furthermore, trust his calling in your life. He has plans for you. When the nudge comes, do not put out the fire. Take it to action. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth and set our hearts at rest in his presence. Otherwise, your relationship with God becomes stale, for faith without works is dead. Again, dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Keep yourself in God’s love,

Julie

 

December 31, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , | Comments Off on Love with Action

   

%d bloggers like this: