Thursday, February 29, 2024

Being Generous With Your Time

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk--not as unwise people but as wise… Ephesians 5:15

Being Generous With Your Time

Perhaps even more valuable than money is something we cannot put a price tag on and that is our time. With money, you have the opportunity to make it back after you lose it, but with time, once it is gone, it is gone. With technology and social media, it is easier than ever to waste it and the overwhelm of activities we can become involved in can suck it right away before you know it. Anyone who has kids knows that time passes quickly. As I age, I can find myself thinking of years ago and even saddened over how fast it all passed, wishing I could do it over again. 

All that to say that our time is valuable, and we are to be good stewards of our time just as we are of everything God gives. If we are walking the Jesus Way, we will be stewarding our time well. As Christ followers we have a job to do. We have been given the command: Jesus came near and said to them, All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. These were the last words that Jesus said to His disciples before He ascended into Heaven after the resurrection. He expects us to carry on the work He began when He lived on earth. We should be spending intentional time on trying to reach a lost and dying world with His gospel story. 

While He was here on earth, Jesus showed us how to serve others. He spent His time serving others and doing the work of His Father. During the last meal He had with His disciples, He washed their feet. He had been showing them throughout His time with them how to show compassion and give time to serve people. This final act was His way of making sure they understood what true service was. 

So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you. “Truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. John 13:14-17

Looking closely at how we spend our time, and how we live out our days is wise. Young people - do not wait until you get old and out of time. Spend every moment you have like it is worth millions because it is worth more. Never pass up an opportunity to share the Gospel and take every opportunity you can to spend time with God, talk to Him, and learn everything you can about Him. Spend time with the people you love and love them well. Life really is too short. Steward your time wisely.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

After the Message... The Way of Generosity

 Wednesday, February 28, 2024

After the Message... The Way of Generosity

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. As it is written: He distributed freely; he gave to the poor; his righteousness endures forever. Now the one who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will also provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the proof provided by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedient confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone. And as they pray on your behalf, they will have deep affection for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 CSB

Every Good Gift

As Christians we sometimes fail to understand or remember that everything we have is because God gave it to us. There is nothing that we have that was not a gift from Him, and He gives us so many good gifts. He gives gifts of physical nature such as meeting our physical needs. He also gives gifts we cannot see or touch, but we can feel them. Gifts like love, joy, peace, and many more. Our very lives are a gift. Every day we wake up is a gift. 

We have life and are alive today because God wills it. 

The air in our lungs…

The beating of our heart…

The children we raised….

The family we love…

The friends we treasure…

All the things we probably take for granted at times...

God demonstrates His love for us by giving. He gives abundant grace and generosity for all believers because no matter what our circumstances are, we are all heirs of His kingdom, joint heirs with Christ. He gave us a beautiful world to live in and enjoy and other good gifts because we are His children, and He loves us. He gave us the greatest gift of all in the sacrifice of His Son so we can have eternal life. We can demonstrate and extend His love for others by giving. When we give with humility, others will see God and His generous love in action. 

Many Christians struggle with tithing. All the gifts God gives are ours for a season and we are to steward and share the gifts He gives. We often do not like to part with some of the gifts He gives, like money. Sometimes it is fear or lack of faith that keeps us from giving or tithing. We are not sure we will be able to pay all the bills if we give our tithe. But God gives the gifts, and He wants us to trust Him enough to be obedient. If we can be humbly obedient, He will provide for our needs. Obedience brings a kind of peace that nothing else will, no matter what the bank account says, and no matter what others say and think. Our money and our possessions belong to God, and he gives them to us for a season to steward. 

Tithing is not about what God needs. He doesn’t need our money – He owns it all anyway. Tithing is about our heart and our obedience. Giving generously is not about a number or an amount. Giving generously is about being willing to be obedient with what we have, and we are called to live open handed with what God has given us, sowing generously in His name. When we give generously as He has loved us generously, our lives will be enriched by being obedient with the gifts He has given and the joy we will feel when we help others who are in need. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Real Test of Faith

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?  2 Corinthians 13:5


The way we came to know God is through the exercise of faith.  The way we develop our spiritual strength and knowledge of God is through faith.  The way we began is the way we continue. For some, after receiving Christ by grace through faith, they begin the futile practice of trying to please God and grow through religion.  God is not pleased with religion in place of faith.  As a matter of fact, the Bible says in Hebrews 11:6 "Without faith it is impossible to please God."  You can do the right thing and still not be pleasing God because you’re not doing it in faith. You are trying to be in control instead of letting God be in control.  
The real test of faith comes when our concept of God and the reality of our lives conflict and we can’t understand why something is happening. If we had really had our way, our faith would never be tested…but God would never have the chance to prove that faith worked.  Our declarations of faith would ring hollow. We would simply be echoing empty religious clich├ęs learned in church and Sunday School.  No skeptic is ever convinced or won over by that kind of faith. God builds our faith by testing it. 

Faith is like a muscle and when it’s stretched, and it’s pulled, it develops - Your faith develops as it is tested. The testing of your faith is more about who God is than who we are. God’s desire is that we know Him and experience His goodness in our lives. The positive end of a test of faith may not be a change in circumstance but a greater knowledge of God and His love and power in our lives. 

Four Ways God Fortifies Our Faith

·      By Testing Our Obedience – Sometimes God will ask us to do things that seem impossible in our human minds.  And they are impossible in our human strength.  But in Christ, and through faith in Him, all things are possible.  Having faith is like taking a risk, stepping blindly off the side of a cliff.  We can’t see what is ahead or understand it at all, but we trust our Heavenly Father.  

·      By Providing for our Problems – Nothing ever happens by accident.  Every single thing happens for a purpose – even the hard things. But God’s hand on our lives provides protection, provision, and purpose.  The times when we have to fully rely on God are always the hardest.  We know better, we have extraordinary faith when life is running like a well-oiled machine, but when we have to truly rest and trust in Him for something, sometimes we struggle.  Ok, actually we beg, cry, doubt, negotiate, and slump into a heap of discouragement.  Then when He provides, we marvel in awe and wonder at the miraculous work of His hand.  I do love it when I get it though.  I have those moments when God totally comes through in a God way and I get it.  I see that it was Him providing and telling me that He will take care of me.
 
·      By Using Our Resources – God expects us to use our resources in a way that is glorifying to Him.  He expects us to be good stewards of our money – His money.  It’s interesting that in giving God not only tests our faith, but the Bible says in Malachi that giving tests God. "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. (Malachi 3:10)

·      By Making us Wait – If every prayer were answered immediately, we wouldn’t need faith, or God.  It is in the times of waiting that we press into Him the most.  God wants our faith to grow and He wants us to learn to trust Him.  It pays to be patient. Just remember this: While you are waiting God is working. You’re not waiting alone. Waiting in faith God is working. God is doing things behind the scenes, in your heart and other people’s hearts that you cannot even see. 

Monday, February 26, 2024

Living The Jesus Way – The Way of Generosity

 Monday, February 26, 2024

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4 CSB

Living The Jesus Way – The Way of Generosity 

Doing the “right thing the wrong way” happens when we do good things for the wrong reasons. The motivation of our heart in our actions is what determines if the deed we are doing is for the right reason. So far in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has addressed a Christ follower’s character, influence, faith, heart, devotion, and response. Now He shifts to personal application of generosity, letting us know that a Christ follower’s righteous actions come out of a right heart before the Lord. He speaks about how doing righteous things for the sake of display or to be seen by others is the wrong reason. 

Jesus begins in verse 1 by saying Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. In the last chapter He told us not to hide our good works which sounds like a contradiction to what He is saying now, but in chapter 5 Jesus was talking about our reluctance of sharing the gospel. Now He addresses the motivation of our hearts when we do good things like giving to the poor. The only right reason for a Christ follower to do good things is for God to be glorified. We are to be salt and light but not for our own glory. We are to glorify Him in everything we say and do. In all things. When we give, we are not to give so we can look good to others, but to glorify God. We are not to boast in our actions but to glorify God above ourselves in everything. 

Jesus then says So whenever you give to the poor… making it clear that giving to the poor is expected for someone who is living the Jesus Way. Our God is merciful and gracious to us so we should extend mercy and grace to others, and this includes generosity to the poor. It should be second nature for Christ followers to love generously if you have been generously loved, and we have been loved with the greatest love. We have been given the greatest gift when we have been the most destitute, having nothing to give in return. We have been redeemed by a merciful and gracious God. 

The Jewish people felt strongly about giving to the poor, believing that it was the same as being righteous. They also believed that it could earn them atonement for their sins and score merit for them in the sight of God. They put a lot of importance into giving to the poor but not for the right reasons. Jesus talks of “hypocrites” during this time who would sound a trumpet to draw attention to themselves and be applauded by people. This is probably metaphorical as there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that literally sounding trumpets was a practice in almsgiving. Jesus is painting a physical picture for us of someone who lives to draw attention to themself, not a literal practice. He is telling us we are not supposed to toot our own horns!  Jesus continues through the Sermon on the Mount to show them the difference between what they have been taught in the past and the truth He brings. There is nothing we can do in our own power make ourselves righteous. Righteousness only comes from Jesus.

What does generosity look like for someone who lives The Jesus Way?

In Living the Jesus Way, living like Jesus and pointing others to Him should become so natural to us that it just happens. Our giving should become “unconscious giving” in such a second nature that we don’t even notice what we are doing. We certainly don’t linger or give a second thought of how much we have given or what a good deed we have done. We do it out of obedience, humility, and genuine heartfelt care for those in need.

Jesus sees everything, including what is in our hearts. There is nothing hidden from Him. He sees what we give, who we give to, and why. He sees the motivation of our hearts and He knows if we are doing it for a fleeting moment of applause or if we deeply desire to be humbly obedient to Him. Our reward from our heavenly Father for being obedient is eternal. Our acts of righteousness should cultivate humility, not pride This is not about our outer works; this is about our interior motives.

Everything we have been given comes from God and belongs to Him. He gives us good gifts and resources to steward for a season. Living the Jesus Way means stewarding them well for His glory.  When we are humble and obedient, stewarding His gifts in a way that glorifies Him, He will take care of us, and our needs will be met. 

Below are some questions to ask yourself about your giving. These are hard questions – be honest with yourself. God already knows what is in your heart. This is an alignment check for you. 

Why am I doing what I am doing? 

Am I stewarding the gifts God has given well?

Do you have an expectation about receiving acknowledgement? 

Do you only give gifts to gain influence or curry favor for you? 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

The Jesus Way - “The Way of Generosity”


The Jesus Way
“The Way of Generosity”
Matthew 6:1-4 CSB

 

Key Truth: "To follow Jesus means to live out the values and principles of His Kingdom with our whole lives.”

Main Question: What does generosity look like for someone who lives The Jesus Way? 

1.    Generosity is expected.  (vs.2a)

 

Giving is a part of growing because stewardship is a part of discipleship.

 

2.    Generosity is fueled by humility(vs.2b-3)

"The essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less."- Tim Keller, The Freedom of Self- Forgetfulness

 

3.    Generosity is for God’s glory (vs.4)

 

After the Message: 
Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. What is the “generosity principle” in vs. 6? What attitude should we have in giving? Who is our provider? What is the result of generosity? 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Lament for the Day of Trouble – Psalm 77

Friday, February 23, 2024 

Lament for the Day of Trouble – Psalm 77 Submitted by Kay Crumley

Lament is a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. Where or to whom do you go in time of grief, sorrow, or trouble? As a child my go-to person was my dad. My go-to place was out in the pasture with the animals. I was confident that my dad could make whatever was wrong better. The fact that he would hold me securely in his arms was comforting and reassuring. Being out in nature with no distractions from people was peaceful to me. I could focus on the beauty of the trees and consolation of the animals so that I was able to calm my anxieties. That was my childhood reaction to trouble, sorrow, or grief. I could express my emotions without anyone judging or attempting to redirect my feelings. Laments can be emotionally all-consuming causing one to not think about clearly. Therefore, it is critical that we go to the person who can truly be our help in time of trouble. The author of this Psalm went to the Lord. 

1I cried out to God for help. 
    I cried out to God to hear me. 
2 When I was in trouble, I looked to the Lord for help. 
    During the night I lifted up my hands in prayer. 
    But I refused to be comforted. 

3 God, I remembered you, and I groaned. 
    I thought about you, and I became weak. 

When we cry out to God for help, we can be confident that He hears our cries of distress. I was reminded of the challenge that Elijah made to the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. He faced off against 450 prophets of Baal against just himself and God. The prophets had shouted and cried to Baal all morning when Elijah asked this question of the in vs 27. 27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” We never have to doubt that Our God hears our every whisper, He knows our every thought. There are many verses that give us that assurance, one example is Psalm 34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. In our times of troubles, we too can look to Him for help as we pray to Him. However, we can refuse to accept His comfort. This passage shows that we must accept His loving kindness toward us. We must be reminded of what He has done for us in the past. The author remembered His miracles of long ago and the power He showed His people. I am not a lover of history, but we must all be scholars of the Word of God because it shows us of the times God was merciful and redeemed His people. These reminders help us grow in our faith and trust in Him. Each time He provides answers to our prayers, our faith grows and matures. It can be helpful to write in a journal the prayers you have offered to Him then note the way that prayer was answered. The answer may not be anything like the expectation you had but it did provide a way for you to have peace and take the next step in your spiritual growth. 

After the author got his thinking cap on and jogged his memory of the many things God had done for His people, he had a new attitude and awareness of the Majesty of our God. 

13 Your ways, God, are holy. 
    What god is as great as our God? 
14 You are the God who performs miracles; 
    you display your power among the peoples. 
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, 
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. 

No other god is like our God. While most of us do not have physical idols that we worship, we do sometimes put other things before Him. If only I could have enough … money, fame, prestige, status, followers…  But the truth is none of those will take the place of God’s grace and mercy on our lives. We must join the Psalmist in declaring the how great is our God, His miracles and power never end. He is our redeemer and sustainer. He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the final answer to our salvation. No other sacrifice is needed because of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

After the Message – The Way of Response

 Thursday, February 22, 2024

“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 CSB

After the Message – The Way of Response

Read Matthew 5:38-48. How have you responded to someone who has offended you? Do you retaliate or do you respond with an attitude of grace, humility, and service? Do you love only those who love you or do you intentionally love your enemies?  

When we don’t treat those who hurt us with the same grace and love we desire to be treated with, we are keeping them from knowing the unconditional grace and love we have experienced from Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. 

This passage of The Sermon on the Mount may be one of the most challenging. When people hurt us, it can last for a lifetime if it is not handled right. We can become hard hearted, bitter, and resentful. Many of us bury it deep inside, trying to pretend it never happened. Somehow it seeps out into our lives when we least expect it. But Jesus offers a very different way to handle personal pain and offense. He commands us to do exactly the opposite of what our natural reactions (flesh) to pain and hurt would be. He asks us to treat them opposite of the way we feel they deserve. 

Jesus ends this challenging passage with an even more challenging statement by saying Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. We can never be as perfect as God is, and surely Jesus must know this. So what did He mean?  

How can we ever be even close to being as perfect as God is? Romans 3:23 speaks of how we are all sinners. So how can we possibly be perfect as God is, yet still sinners in need of a Savior? Jesus is the only one who has ever lived a perfect life and it is only through Him that we can be perfect as God is perfect. In Jesus we are declared righteous because we can never earn it. When we become a Christian by putting our faith in Jesus, we are made righteous in Him, freed from that sin. 

As followers of Christ, we strive to live our lives reflecting God’s righteousness and holiness. Through His strength we find the ability to love our enemies, not in our own strength. 

Do you only love those who love you? Can you intentionally love your enemies? 

We can when we trust in the strength of a God who sent His Son to die for our sins when we were still sinners. Only through Him in our lives can we do any of the things Jesus says of believers in this chapter. We can, in His power, make the right choices and live our lives reflecting Him, including the very difficult act of showing love to those who offend and hurt us. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Spiraling Back

Wednesday, February 21, 2024  

Abram went up from Egypt to         the Negev—he, his wife, and all he had, and Lot with him. Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold. He went by stages from the Negev to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had formerly been, to the site where he had built the altar. And Abram called on the name of the Lord there. Genesis 13:1- 4 CSB

Spiraling Back 
Have you ever felt like you are spiraling out of control? Or maybe you have been out of control for a while, and you are wearing thin. Anytime we move away from God, we will start spiraling and it will wear us out eventually. That is when you realize how far away from God you have gotten and that something has to change.

How can we dig ourselves out of a hole? How can we spiral back to God? There is no way we can do this in our own power so relinquishing control back to God and surrendering to Him is the first step. The next step is to turn from whatever you have followed after that has brought you to where you are. Turn around and go the opposite way and shift your focus back on God. Taking just one thought captive can shift all our thoughts and get us back on the right track – the one that leads upward. 

Abram (later to be named Abraham) spiraled out away from God’s will for his life for a while. From Abram’s story we can learn some good steps to take to regain God’s control in our life.

Abram was called by God to basically pick up everything and go and God would show him where later. That must have been very hard to just pick up all your family and possessions and go when you do not know where you are going. Abram was faithful and obedient. God had a vision for Abram and He made Him three promises – I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you and make your name great, and I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. Everywhere they stopped along the way, Abram built an alar to the Lord and called upon His name. They got to Egypt and Abram was afraid that they would kill him to take Sarai (later to be named Sarah) if they knew he was her husband, because she was very beautiful. So he asked her to lie and say she was his sister. Sure enough, Pharaoh took her for his wife and treated Abram well for her sake.  But the Lord sent great plagues on Pharaoh’s house because of Sarai.  Pharaoh found out that she was Abram’s wife and told Abram to take his wife and go.

Abram started out great, but he got off track like we all do. He decided that God must not know what He is doing because Abram didn’t understand, so he took control. Now he had to make some different choices to regain God’s control of his life. 

How to Regain God’s Control of Your Life

·  Retrace Your Steps – Go back and see where you lost the vision for your life. Abram had to back up to where he started this spiral.

·  Return to The Previous Victory – Remember what God has done for you and through you. Review the promise and vision given.  Remember where you started from.

·  Renew Your Walk – Abram we He went back to his altar. He is now a different man in his faith. Recommitment to God's plan occurs when we confess our prideful activity and humble ourselves to His desire for our lives and His design to bring it to pass.

What can we learn from Abraham? Abram’s choices didn’t get him what he wanted.  Only having God in control of his life got him the vision and promise that was intended for him. No matter how much we don’t understand what He is doing at the time, taking the control away from Him and managing our own circumstances will never get us the outcome we think we want. Trust Him with the path, surrender your own expectations, and you will never be disappointed. 

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. 
Psalms 27:14

 


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Christ In Me

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. mmm1 John 4:13 CSB

Christ In Me

Once a person becomes a Christian they are faced with one monstrous dilemma.  They are supposed to live, love, walk, and talk like Christ while loving his enemies, abstaining from the very appearance of evil, and growing in grace. Worry about nothing, be thankful for everything, rejoice always, deny ourselves, accept the fact of our death, and follow Christ every day of our lives. We are to set our affections on things above and not on things on the earth.  Added to these and dozens of other commands, we are supposed to be of good comfort, cheerful, and kind in the midst of an unkind world.

What a shock when we find that even after we are saved, we cannot live the Christian life in our own strength.  We are not encouraged anywhere in the Bible to resort to our best. There is no evidenc                              e in the Scripture to be found that God expects anything of us but total failure in our own strength.  This is the reason for the cross in our salvation and the cross in our inner life. Self would do its best and take the credit. Self can live a life that has some appearances of Christlikeness, but self cannot be Christ like.  Our dilemma is clear . . . we cannot be what God desires and what the Bible requires. The great question is, "How can we be Christ to a lost world and not be a part of this world?" 

The only one who can make us Chmristlike is Christ.  According to the Word of God, there are just two ways that we can live our lives. We can either live according to the flesh by following our own carnal nature, or live according to the Spirit of God by denying our fleshly desires to live a life that glorifies God.

I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Galatians 5:16-18 CSB

It is Christ in you which secures your salvation. If Christianity were nothing more than a man deciding to worship Jesus and doing his best to imitate Him, there indeed would be little hope. But if Christianity is Jesus coming into an available human body and acting like Himself, then there is abundant hope.  If my salvation depended on my ability to be like Christ, I would be lost again and again.  But if my salvation depends on Jesus, then I cannot be lost.  My salvation is secured not by my imitation of Christ but by my participation in Christ. He, Himself, living in me, is the security of my salvation. 

We are not in the world to be a witness for Christ through our own strength. Christ is in us in the world to bear witness of Himself. The Christian life is not the doing of things to please God but the yielding of our bodies to God so that He can through the indwelling Christ do things for Himself.  



Monday, February 19, 2024

Living The Jesus Way – The Way of Response

 Monday, February 19, 2024

“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 CSB

Living The Jesus Way – The Way of Response

As Christians, our purpose from Jesus is to go and make disciples. We do this with our lives when we live The Jesus Way. Every single word, action, and response should reflect the love of Jesus and point others towards Him. As Christ followers, the world will be watching everything we do, especially those who are not Christ followers. They do not understand the grace and love of Jesus so our reactions in their presence is a living testimony. 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:39–42

In this passage of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus counters the mosaic law of the Old Testament with what He says it truly means, doing away with the outrageous acts of religion. Pharisees and scribes had taught the “eye for an eye” principle and seeking personal revenge was acceptable. The punishment should fit the crime, so if you were punched then you should punch back, and the law is on your side.

When Jesus says, “Do not resist an evil person,” He is saying we should adopt an attitude of humility and seek to be peaceful with those who have wronged us. We can do this by giving even more than what they are taking and responding in kindness. We are to live contrary from the world. When we poke back, we aren’t living like Jesus. When we seek revenge, we are as wrong as the offender. Jesus is saying that whatever injury, offense, or insult we bear can be placed in His hands for Him to bear and make right. We find restitution in Him, not in revenge. He heals broken hearts and binds up our wounds. He restores what is lost at the hands of others for His name’s sake. It does not mean we stay in dangerous situations. It just means that we do not retaliate in response to offenses made against us. This is what the world does and expects us to do as well, but we have been called and commanded to respond in a Jesus way.  

How does a Christian’s response to offense demonstrate The Jesus Way?

As Christ followers living The Jesus Way, the only response that is right is love. Jesus ends this passage in verses 43-48 speaking about how we are to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us. We can respond in a way that is honoring to God through Him. We cannot do this in our own power but through Him we can show love to those who hurt us.  

People will hurt us in this life, that is a guarantee. Jesus suffered at the hands of others, and He understands the pain. Every time we are offended in some way is an opportunity for us to be Jesus to the one who hurt us. Living the Jesus Way calls for us to actively love and help our enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. This is not the way of the world, but as Christ followers we are to live contrary to the world. As we live The Jesus Way, we are to be imitators of Christ, glorifying Him in every action, decision, and response, and always pointing others to Him.

I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another. John 13:34-35

·      Has someone hurt or offended you that you have not forgiven?

·      Name one person in your life who is an “enemy” that you can show love to this week. Who can you pray for?

 

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