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Bless Your Enemies

There is no gain from hate. There is no growth from murder. Should Christians feel the need to take revenge for a slight, a wrong, perceived or otherwise, the command is clear:

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

Jesus said this knowing fully well that His appointed time would require Him to give His life for the sins of others, bearing their cross and forgiving those who would torture Him, simply because He was telling the truth.

The expected reward for which a Christian would hope is not to suffer at the hands of others for doing good. However quite often, that is not the case. Quite often, in fact, we will suffer trials for the very good we do. And unlike what certain churches preach today, those same trials will be at the hands of our enemies.

It is in those occasions when Jesus’ words ring crisp. For how easy is it to love those who love us? But to love our enemies as ourselves requires God’s love to flow through us by the Holy Spirit so that it is not us receiving the glory for our forgiveness but God. And if we take a moment to see through the eyes of our enemies, we may understand their heart and take pity on them. For we, too, never knew the truth about forgiveness and about how it would free us from bitterness had God not shown it to us through Christ Jesus’ sacrifice.

Oh, how great the power of forgiveness truly is when we bless our enemies!

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Rejoice in God’s Presence

God is everywhere. He is among the flowers; He is among the trees; He fills the sky and beyond; He is here now, with us. In everything we do, God is there. For Christians, God’s promise to never leave us nor forsake us is as sure as the coming of tomorrow. And if God is here with us now, at this very moment, what are we to do to acknowledge his presence?

The Apostle Paul answers this question like this:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

Paul continues to say in the next verse, “The Lord is at hand.” That is to say, God is near; we are to pray and give thanks, and then God’s peace will be our peace (v. 5-7).

For those of us who have accepted Christ as our savior, we have Jesus living inside of us. Knowing this, we have cause for great celebration with the Lord, for His spirit is powerful, just and righteous. No evil is too great that it can overtake us. No power is too strong that it can overwhelm us. And no spirit is higher than that of God’s spirit, comforting us in our time of need.

Our celebration is knowing God is here for us now and forever. When we raise our hands in praise, we are acknowledging His awesome love for us. When we pray, we are honoring Him for everything He has done for us. And when we thank Him, we are rejoicing in His presence.

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Praise Be to God

Rejoice and praise God, for He is good. He made the heavens and the earth, gave us dominion over all things under the sun, and blessed us with the power of His name. All glory belongs to Him. He has withheld nothing from us. His greatest gift, the gift of eternal life, He gave through His son Christ Jesus whom He sacrificed for the forgiveness of our sins. Praise Him always.

Should we limit how we give thanks to God? The Psalms tell us otherwise:

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

(Psalm 148:1-4)

God has shaped us into who we are, breathed into us life and has given us the desire in our heart to want to know Him. Our love for Him should be without ceasing, for in everything He does, He does because He loves us. There is no limit to God’s love, because God is love.

Whatever we are feeling, if we are sad, if we are angry, if we are hurt, God is there, waiting to comfort us. Our prayers are as incense to Him. They rise to the heavens and fill his throne with the sweet aroma of our praise.

Let us rejoice always for knowing our heavenly Father is there for us. Praise be to God.

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The Heart of God

What would it be like to have the heart of God? What would it be like to know Him, fully and completely, without boundaries and without end? Would we act as we do today, with restraint in our step and caution in our tongues? Loving God is knowing God. If we love Him, we will do His will and we will know Him. His heart will then be our heart, and we will no longer hold back from proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God.

The prophet Jeremiah, who was still a youth when God called him, said this about God’s children:

“I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7)

When God imparts the Holy Spirit into someone, He has imparted His heart into that person. This means that you and I, regardless of race, gender, culture, or otherwise, if God has chosen us and begotten us with His spirit, He then lives in us.

The prophet Ezekiel describes it this way:

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

God wants nothing but good for his people. God wants Christians to know He loves them, will provide for them, and will bless them in everything they do. In everything we do, the heart of flesh that God has imparted in us will lead us to do His will in spite of the temptation that surrounds us.

This is what it is like to have the heart of God.

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Love One Another

In everything we do, we ought to love one another. For if we love one another, we will not harbor grudges, we will not hurt from heartbreak, we will always look to God for His will, and most of all, we will be at peace. Love one another, for in love we will know God. As He lives inside of us, His nature will show outside of us. It is a difficult thing to keep the nature of God from urging us to do good to others. For when His spirit works in us to do His will, we have all but to contain our love for Him and for others.

The Apostle Paul explains it like this:

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10)

As bearers of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, we owe others our love. Through that love we will not want to lust and commit adultery, we will not want to hate and murder, we will not want to steal, and we will not want to covet. Our love for one another will be deep, will be high, will be strong and will be wide. There will be no limit to our love for one another because there is no limit to God’s love.

Let us come before God with humble hearts, seeking His will, and loving one another.

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The Gift of the Holy Spirit

In the new heaven and the new earth there will be no more sadness, no more pain, no more tears, no more evil, and above all, God will dwell with us forever. In a way, He is doing that already. The gift of the Holy Spirit is what makes us who we are. We are Christians. We do not go by any other name other than that of being followers of Christ. We are God’s offspring, his chosen and his elect. Our future is with God. And what a future to which we look forward. Even King David understood this:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalms 23:6)

When Jesus died on the cross, it was just the beginning. His death ushered in the joyous event of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised a helper to his disciples, and when the Apostle Peter stood up on that fateful day of Pentecost, this was a different Peter. Gone were his insecurities of who would be first in the kingdom, instead he was bold and offered life to those looking to God for answers. Peter’s sudden emergence as a leader was not without its trials. The memory of his denials that he knew Christ was still fresh in his mind. Yet the gift of the Holy Spirit changed him, and he became a different person.

We have the opportunity to be different. God in us renders us to be different. There will be a day when we will dwell with God forever in the new heaven and the new earth. Until then, let us grow in the knowledge of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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How Great Is Our God?

Out of nothingness came life. Out of the emptiness and the void, came we. God formed us out of the dust of the ground, breathed into us the breath of life and made us living beings. How great is our God?

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalms 8:3)

We mere humans are dust. Yet God loves us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his only son Jesus so that we may live, live free from the penalty of sin, and live forever. How great is our God?

From edge to edge of this deep vastness called the universe, God has set the foundations of our firmament. He gave us dominion over all things on the earth. He provided us food with which to feed ourselves, and clothes to keep our fleshly bodies warm. How great is our God?

We are but bones, sinews, flesh and skin covering it all. We have seventy years given to us, eighty by reason of strength. Our lives are like a vapor, but even King David asked: Who are we that God should be so mindful of us? How great is our God?

Out of the emptiness, God made us, and through Jesus, he fills us with the Holy Spirit and saves us. God is great.