SCRIPTURE TEXT: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” —Matthew 5: 43-44
Unfairness is part of the human condition. You can’t live on this earth for long without feeling like someone has treated you unfairly. Maybe it’s a parent who put you through a miserable childhood. Maybe it’s an employer who treats you more harshly than they treat your coworkers. Maybe you feel like you were handled unfairly by the legal process.
You can choose to respond to the people who hurt you by hurting them. That’s the easiest choice to make, no doubt about it. But God gives us another option in his Word: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44 NIV). When people hurt you, they expect you to retaliate. They expect you to seek revenge. But God wants you to do the exact opposite. He wants you to respond in love. If you respond to mistreatment with love, you’ll keep the other person from controlling you. You can’t control when another person treats you unfairly.
You can control whether you get bitter in the process. You can control your response to injustice. Just because you respond to an offender lovingly doesn’t mean you continue to allow injustice. On the contrary, we must lovingly seek justice. We must work for justice in the world without retaliating. The Bible commands us to “be fair-minded and just. Do what is right!” (Jeremiah 22:3 NLT).Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great example of this. He fought against injustice without violence. He overcame evil through the power of love. He followed the example of Jesus, who chose to forgive his persecutors even as they were killing him. That’s our calling as followers of Jesus. Unfairness and injustice may be part of the human condition, but we must not feed into it. Instead, God calls us to respond in love.
Talk It Over 1.What personal injustice in your life are you struggling to respond to in love? 2.How are we allowing others to control us when we choose to hate them or harbour bitterness toward them? 3What are some creative ways that your family or small group can respond to injustices in your community with the love of Jesus?
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” —Isaiah 43:18-19
All of us have been through difficult experiences of flood or fire, either literal or symbolic. In what ways was God with you? How did He preserve you? Or are you still in the midst of trial? If so, tell a fellow believer about your need, and ask for prayer that God will supply you with the resources to meet the challenges. Cremate your past – don’t embalm it! Dr Harold Bloomfield writes: “Unresolved emotional pain wreaks havoc on your immune system, cardiac function, hormone levels and other physical functions. We must make peace with our past, because our life may literally depend on it!” Challenging words!
Here are four suggestions for dealing with your past:
1. Re-frame It Ask yourself, “How did it make me stronger? What do I know now that I didn’t know then?” Be a learner, not a loser.
2. Break The Shackles of Shame Shame is not feeling bad over what you have done, it is feeling ashamed of who you are. It is lethal! When God created you in His image He said, “I like it! It is very good” – Genesis 1:31.” Start agreeing with Him!
3. Arrest The Acid Drip of Regret Stop punishing yourself with the ‘if only’. David said, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Psalm 32:1-2 NKJV). Forgive yourself, God has! When He looks at you through the finished work of Calvary, you look better to Him than you do to yourself!
4. Move From Grief to Gain Healing takes time, so expect some anger, fear, and sadness. Don’t disown them – they are part of the healing process. But don’t adopt them either; know when it is time to move on. You can’t walk backwards into the future, and the future God has for you contains more happiness than any past you can remember – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future – Jeremiah 29:11.”
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”—Hebrews 4: 12
Believe it or not, many people who attend church choose to ignore God’s truth because they don’t like hearing sermons that convict or demand a change. But we tend to be guilty of doing the same thing when we pick and choose what to read in the Bible. When you open God’s Word, do you read only verses that encourage, comfort, or promise blessings? Are you reluctant to tackle the more difficult passages, which prick your conscience and call for obedience? Do you avoid sections that make you feel guilty about the way you are living? If you find yourself reacting strongly to a passage of Scripture or a sermon, then you ought to take an honest look at yourself. God’s Word is meant to cut into the deepest recesses of our soul and spirit. But the hope is that we then run to Jesus, our High Priest, in confession and repentance in order to receive forgiveness and cleansing. Christ sympathizes with our weaknesses and invites us to draw near to God to receive grace and help. The convicting passage of Scripture may cause momentary discomfort, but those who listen and take their burden to Jesus find sweet relief.
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a footstool to the devil.”—Ephesians 4: 26-27 What is your first response when someone hurts you? Maybe you immediately become angry and want to retaliate. Or perhaps your outward expression doesn’t change, but inside you begin quietly nursing bitterness. Although these reactions strike us as understandable and perfectly natural, they are not how God tells us to respond. Unforgiveness is spiritually destructive because it is contrary to God’s will and affects our emotions, thoughts, prayers, and relationships. Scripture is clear that we are to forgive anyone who causes us harm because we ourselves have been forgiven a much larger debt of sin by God. The grace He pours out on each of us should be our motivation to extend grace to others. If we have received His loving pardon, then we must do the same for others, even when it feels unfair. Forgiveness involves a total change of attitude and action, whereby we give up resentment toward someone and relinquish a desire for revenge. In our own strength, this is impossible. But if instead of rehearsing our hurts, we ask the Lord to change us and fill us with His Spirit, He will begin the process of transforming our heart. PRAYER: Dear Lord, give us the strength to be able to forgive those who hurt us. Amen
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “God our Savior showed us His kindness and love.”—Titus 3:4 What should be our heart’s deepest motivation as we serve the Lord? If it is for personal fulfilment and satisfaction then our lives will be empty; if it is for recognition and the praise of others then our lives will be hollow; if it is for personal gain or benefit then our lives will be shallow.
God is never pleased when our motivation in serving Him is for our own ends. There are many benefits and blessings that come to us as we serve the Lord, but they are the fruits of our obedience, not the reason for it.
Today, as you set your heart on the Lord, let each thing you do be done out of your love for Jesus, for Jesus has done everything out of His love for you.
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”—Ephesians 5:15-16 Aside from the opportunity that time offers each of us, we also have additional gifts of opportunities – no one is without a gift or talent. But alas, not all of us know what our talents are, and certainly very few know what to do with their talents.
So, how do we make the most of every opportunity, especially that of time and talent?
Proverbs 8:11 says, “For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”. To know how to make the best use of our opportunities of time and talents, we need wisdom. Apostle James tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1: 5. God is the One who can direct us to apply our talents wisely and within the time that we have been given. With God’s guidance, we will be very direct and intentional in what to do and how, when, and why to do them. It will take us less time and effort to do the right things and do them well so that we can accomplish what might take us our entire lives to accomplish on our own. Let us get wisdom, from the All-Knowing, All-Wise God.
God is faithful, and will not leave us living like rudderless ships. He has the right map. Our responsibility is to be willing to follow and obey. There is no profit for a student to have good books or a good professor if he refuses to listen or follow what is taught, he will be as ignorant as someone who does not have any of these things. Our situation should not be like that with God, Who is the Ultimate Guide Who can direct our lives wisely and profitably. So, as we seek, we have the assurance that we will find, but we must also be ready to follow and obey.
Let us diligently avoid people, places, and situations that eat away at the time we should invest in being productive. Those who have no plan for their lives will have no good plan for ours, except to plan how we will waste our time with them. Whatever stage of life you are at now, make life count. Live, not as unwise, but as wise. Make the most of every opportunity.
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “May you be blessed by the Lord, Who made Heaven and earth.”—Psalm 115:15 Jesus is the heartbeat of the Father’s love, He is the beauty of the Father’s face, and He is the glory of the Father’s presence.
He is an endless stream of Living Water, a Fountain of everlasting joy, and an Ocean full of pleasures forevermore. He has so much that He desires to give to you, and so much that He desires to do for you.
Today, may you be open to the wonders that He speaks to you; to the blessings that He pours upon you; to the promises that He affirms to you; to the grace that He multiplies to you; to the fellowship that He extends to you; to the love that He freely gives to you.
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart .”—Psalm 51:17 The term ‘sacrifice’ is often associated with something that you give up in order to do God’s will. There is a much deeper meaning to this word. Sacrifice goes right to the core of who you are.
More than anything else, God is concerned with you offering your spirit and your heart to Him. A spirit that is proud and a heart that is hard will never be acceptable to God. When your spirit is broken and you come before God with your pride in pieces, God receives you with great grace and mercy.
When your heart is contrite and you walk tenderly before Him, God assures you of His forgiveness, His cleansing, and His acceptance.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to come before you with a contrite heart. Amen
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that by you do not have the love of the Father in you .”—1 John 2:15 Anyone who has read the Bible is familiar with the apostle Paul, author of a majority of the New Testament. He gathered a committed group around him and set off on several missionary journeys, spreading the gospel and laying a foundation for the church as we know it today. However, not all of those companions were as committed as Paul. Take Demas, for example: “Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:10).
He loved the world and deserted Paul, and perhaps he even deserted the faith. How would you like it if all that was written about you was your desertion?
Jesus was against distraction in the parable of the sower. In Matthew 13:22 Jesus explains: ‘The thorny ground represents those who bear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced.’
Jesus’ admonition is clear: When God’s Word is choked out, worldly things like making money, entertaining sinful behaviors, and distracting relationships grow in the void.
John describes as a craving: “For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world”– John 2:16. A craving is something you are desperate for, a longing that screams for attention and pushes you to fulfill it. We see cravings in addicts. The only way to really combat a craving that is a distraction is to crave God’s Word more.
Be desperate for God. There’s a choice: be a Demas who ends up distracted or a woman who is desperate for Jesus and ends up hearing, “Well done!”
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power.”—Colossians 2:9-10 Nothing needs to be added to Jesus’ Person or position to make Him more complete. Because He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily, He does need to be or have anything else. Because He is the Head of the church, He does not need to receive more authority. Because He has all power, He does not need to receive more strength.
When Jesus comes into your life, you have received completeness. If you were an empty house, He would be the complete furnishing; if you were an empty plate, He would be the complete meal. If you were a violin, He would be the symphony, if you were a book cover, He would be the manuscript, if you were a vase, He would be the floral arrangement.