Treat your enemy with kindness

2017-10-03
Proverbs 25:22 NKJV

It’s not enough for us to just leave our enemies alone; we need to actively show God’s love toward them. The Bible tells us, ‘If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you’ (vv. 21-22 NKJV). What does it mean to ‘heap coals of fire on his head’? Charles Swindoll explains that in ancient days, people heated their homes and cooked their meals on a small portable stove, a bit like a barbecue grill. A person would often run low on hot coals and they’d need to replenish their supply. The container was usually carried on the head, so as the person passed beneath the first-storey windows of neighbouring houses, thoughtful neighbours who had extra coals in their possession would reach out of the window and place them in the container on top of their head. Thanks to the thoughtful generosity of a few folks, they would arrive at the site with a pile of burning coals on their head, and a ready-made fire for cooking and keeping warm. So ‘heaping burning coals on someone’s head’ became a popular expression for a spontaneous and courteous act that one person would voluntarily do for another. Luke 6:27-28 says, ‘love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are cruel to you’ (NCV). So we have a choice. We can experience the short-term satisfaction of retaliating, or we can do what God asks of us and show grace, generosity and kindness to everyone, even those we dislike.

 

Exo 1-3; Mark 16:1-8; Ps 63; Prov 25:26-28

Treat your enemy with kindness


Proverbs 25:22 NKJV

It’s not enough to simply leave your enemies alone; you must demonstrate God’s love toward them. “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (vv. 21-22 NKJV). What does it mean to “heap coals of fire on his head”? Charles Swindoll explains that in ancient days, homes were heated and meals were fixed on a small portable stove, somewhat like our outside barbecue grills. Frequently, a person would run low on hot coals and need to replenish his or her supply. The container was commonly carried on the head. So as the individual passed beneath second-story windows, thoughtful people who had extra hot coals in their possession would reach out the window and place them in the container atop their head. Thanks to the thoughtful generosity of a few folks, they would arrive at the site with a pile of burning coals on their head, and a ready-made fire for cooking and keeping warm. “Heaping burning coals on someone’s head” came to be a popular expression for a spontaneous and courteous act one person would voluntarily do for another. When you treat an enemy this way, the Bible promises, “The Lord will reward you.” You have a choice. You can experience the short-term satisfaction of retaliating and get into trouble with God for doing it, or show mercy and kindness and be rewarded by God for doing it. So the word for you today is – treat your enemy with kindness.

Soul food: Exo 1-3; Mark 16:1-8; Ps 63; Prov 25:26-28

When God calls you

2017-07-26
Isaiah 48:15 NIV

God told Jeremiah, ‘Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work’ (Jeremiah 1:5 NCV). When God decides to use us, five things happen: first, there’s a call. God asks ordinary people to do extraordinary things, like Peter getting out of a boat and walking on water. Second, there’s fear. When God called Moses to stand before Pharaoh, he said, ‘Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words…please! Send somebody else!’ (Exodus 4:10;13 MSG). Third, there’s reassurance. The thought of having to fill Moses’ shoes must have terrified Joshua, so God told him, ‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5 NIV). Fourth, there’s a decision. Sometimes we say yes to God and sometimes we say no. When we say yes we live with joy; when we say no that joy can pass us by. But there’s always a choice. Fifth, there’s a changed life. When we say yes to God’s call we don’t suddenly do everything perfectly. But because we said yes, we learn and grow even from our failures. Our failures often become part of our ability to reach out to others. And when we say no to God we’re changed too; but not in the best way. We become a little more resistant to His calling, and a little more likely to say no next time. So is God calling us today? Maybe it’s to do with our future career, or our current job, or our relationships, or our money, or facing our biggest fears. God’s call will go to the core of who we are and what we do. Saying yes to Him is the best decision we’ll ever make.

Zeph 1-3; Mat 27:45-56; Ps 46; Prov 19:18-20

Learning from David (2)

2017-07-22
Hebrews 6:12 NKJV

Here are three lessons from David’s life: 1) God makes the choice. When Samuel the prophet came to David’s house to pick Israel’s next king, David wasn’t even up for consideration. But God chose him anyway – just like He chose Deborah to lead the nation in a male-dominated society. If you spend your life trying to figure God out, you could well miss out on what He has for you. We’d probably have rejected many of the people God used (which shows how little we know…) 2) God designs the plan. ‘Being confident of this…that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it’ (Philippians 1:6 NKJV). It’s God who designs and performs the plan. So you can put your confidence in Him. His plan for David involved years of ducking Saul’s spears, living in caves as a fugitive, and working with six hundred misfits who redefine the word ‘dysfunctional’. God trains you through difficulties so you can handle the assignment He has for you. 3) God sets the schedule. ‘Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.’ Patience means standing firm under pressure. The prize belongs to the one who’s in it for the long run. David was anointed king in his teens, but he didn’t take the throne until he was thirty. So be patient. God’s prepping you so you’ll be ready when your time comes. Waiting is hard. But if you run before the starter fires the gun, you’ll botch the race. Just keep your eyes on the prize and don’t give up.

Hab 1-3; Mat 27:11-26; Ps 1; Prov 19: 9-11

Gratitude

2017-07-19
Psalm 103:2 MSG

God loves to bless us. But when we’re overwhelmed with a tricky situation like a challenging relationship or health problem, it can be easy to overlook the blessings. Sometimes the problems seem to make us forget God’s goodness and all the good things we’ve been given. We can even become ungrateful, always wanting the next thing and not thanking God for the blessings He’s already given us. The psalmist shows us how to overcome an ungrateful attitude by cultivating a spirit of thanksgiving. ‘O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!’ Thinking and thanking go hand-in-hand. When we remember what God’s done for us, we can’t help but worship Him. The psalmist encourages us to do three things: first, think about what God’s given us – His forgiveness, healing, protection, redemption, love, and compassion (see vv. 1-5). Second, think about what God hasn’t given us – the punishment our sins deserve (see vv. 8-12). Third, think about what God is going to give us. ‘From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him’ (v. 17 NIV). And even when we don’t think we’ve got anything to be thankful for, we can still praise Him for who He is. ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever’ (Psalm 136:1 NIV). Thankfulness is a choice. Even when we’ve got a whole load of problems to deal with, we can’t forget the blessings and good things that God gives us and promises us in the future. Whatever we’re facing, we’re called to ‘give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV). So each morning let’s choose to say: ‘O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!’

2 Sam 22:31-24:25; Mat 26:47-56; Ps 146; Prov 18:23-24