Posts Tagged Matthew 5: 44

Rescue Me!

Psalm 35: 17 – 20, 23 -24         NIV

Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you. Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye, they do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land.

23 Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. Vindicate me in your righteousness O Lord my God.

Yesterday we saw David forlorn and depressed. He moaned under the weight of his grief. In today’s portion of Psalm 35 we see David beginning to transition. He is beginning to look for the answer and he knows that his God is the answer. He recognizes God as his vindicator and his own role as praising and thanking the Lord for his salvation.

As you listen to David’s words you may think that his problems are not that different from our own. Perhaps we would be well advised to view our role in the battle in the same way as does David. David understood the lesson from 2 Chronicles 20: 12 – 25. In this great adventure the people learned how to fight a battle. God told them, “You need not fight in this battle” (v. 17). Instead they gave themselves over to praise and thanksgiving while God routed the enemy for them. They didn’t even go down to where the battle took place. They stood on the high ground and praised their God.

Maybe your tormentor, like King Saul, seems misled and unreasonable. That is what David had to contend with. He said his enemies hated him without cause or reason. It is said of Saul that he was influenced by an evil spirit, or that he suffered from a mental disorder. Those who plague us have their own issues. Often, probably most often, their suffering is the genesis for the agony they cause us. This, I believe, is why Jesus taught us to pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5: 44). They have their own pain and it is that hurt that causes them to persecute us without cause.

So what do we have to say to these things? Look to God to be your vindicator. Stand in trust. Pray to the Lord your God giving Him praise and thanksgiving. Sing to Him with a glad heart for all that He is. Expect Him to rescue your precious life from the roaring lion. Stand and see the glory of the Lord.

Healed to Help

Matthew 5: 44                         (King James Version)

But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. 

These are the words of Jesus from early in his ministry. We see him taking his own advice at the cross when he prayed to his father from the cross to forgive those who crucified him. Jesus knew something that we are hopefully all learning. When people act out, they are really revealing their own brokenness. When we are healed and walking in our office and authority, then these people’s offenses become an opportunity for ministry rather than a time for us to be offended. I am learning that people can do things that are prime stimuli for me to lose my peace but that it is really my decision to allow them to steal my peace or not. The stronger and more complete my healing, the less their stuff gets on me and the less it offends me. You begin to see that the people who strike out at you or attempt to hurt you are really only exhibiting their own emotional damage. As God heals their wounds, they will not feel the need to strike out at others or hurt others. Their language will correct itself and they will be able to become others centered instead of being so selfish and self-centered. We can help these people. First, physician, heal thyself. Allow God to do a work in you so that you are not susceptible to other people’s problems. Then, learn to sincerely pray for these people. Help them. Also, as you grow and people do not so easily offend you, when someone does something that once had the power to upset you, you will find that you can meet them at their point of need right then and there and minister to their need.

Spiritual Revenge

Job 42: 8

Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.

If you read the book of Job you will see that Job’s “friends” spoke against him for the whole book. I mean they really gave him a time. As soon as bad things started happening to Job his friends descended upon him and accused him of some great sin as the cause of the tragedies which were occurring in his life.

Isn’t that just like folks? They probably had been jealous of Job all the while because he was very wealthy and blessed in all things. Then when the devil started stealing his blessing, his friends began to harshly criticize him. In the end God corrected and reproved them.

Now if I were Job, I might not want God to send those chaps to me for me to pray for them. I can imagine saying, “God, I don’t want to pray for those fools that have harangued me for months. Just let them reap the fruit of their seed.” Fortunately for them, Job was obedient to God. I do like that they had to take him a big offering though. And we know that Job did pray for them because the subsequent verses tell us that God did accept Job’s prayer.

You see, the Old Testament teachings are consistent with the New Testament. God had Job pray for his enemies and we are under the same command today. Pray for those who persecute you and despitefully use you (Matthew 5: 44).

The Surprising Arsenal

Romans 12: 21

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Last week my mom called and told me that she had employed my spiritual warfare tactic of sowing into a ministry when the devil is putting up road blocks. She put today’s scripture into effect. Overcome evil with good.

The devil really, really hates it when he is trying to bother you and you write a check to God’s work. It is one of my favorite tactics and I will say that I enjoy doing it. We have learned by now that trying to get back at someone or trading blows with them is not going to yield the fruit we want. In fact, there is no spiritual weapon or spiritual warfare tactic for striking back at our enemies. Jesus said to pray for them (Matthew 5: 44).  

The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses (2 Corinthians 10: 4). Besides prayer, the weapons of our warfare are love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5: 22). Now, if you choke on that a bit, I don’t blame you but ultimately we need to figure out what works and abandon that which doesn’t. The Apostle Paul knew more about fighting these battles than most of us ever will so when he says overcome evil with good he must have known what he was talking about. I believe an extension of what he was saying is that we will never overcome evil with evil. In order to overcome at all we must fight with the weapons of our warfare, namely that which is good.

I also believe Paul is telling us that we never have to be overcome by evil. The reason is that we have a savior. Besides just having the loving grace of Jesus, we also have his victory which has crushed ultimate evil. Jesus is good. He dwells in goodness and kindness. Therefore, the weapons of our warfare are good. Jesus defeated the devil by doing a good thing, really a great thing. He gave in order to conquer. Certainly that is not how most people strategize for battle. That is why giving is such a powerful weapon. It imitates Christ. That is also why it bothers Satan so much. It is a reminder of how he was defeated.  

Let this revelation sink into you. Our God is a good God and His overcoming is in His goodness. Overcome evil every time. It has no hold over you. Let goodness and righteousness be your banner.

Big Guns

Matthew 5: 44

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Okay, now we are talking about serious spiritual warfare. This verse doesn’t look like warfare though, does it? None the less, this is where the rubber meets the road. When the enemy is all around you and it feels like even the house is falling down on you then start praying. Sometimes the pressure on you is so heavy that it is hard to pray. I understand that. Just come up with something real simple that you can say each time you feel overwhelmed. Here is an example, “Father, I forgive them and ask you to forgive them. I pray that you bless them and meet their needs.” Then every time that feeling comes in your gut just turn your thoughts to our beloved Father and pray those words.

Jesus gave this scripture for us, not for them. He said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33 NIV). This is one of the ways that he is leading us from trouble to overcoming. Trouble comes but Jesus is our victory. He has already provided the means of triumph. He spent his time on earth teaching us those means. So when you read that you should pray for your enemies, take heart because Jesus is leading you to the victory. Glory!

Loving the Unlovely

Romans 12: 14

Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.

This is grown-up Christianity. We have gone into the deep water. We know that if we love Christ we will keep his commands. Paul is preaching Christ here. Besides, we know that Jesus is the word, the entire word. But if that is not good enough let us see what Jesus said when he was still in the earth. Matthew 5: 44 reads, “But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” One translation says, “… bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (KJV).

If you do not like these two verses, I don’t blame you. It is just not natural to heap blessing on those who persecute and hate us. But then, we weren’t called to be natural, were we? We are called to be supernatural through the power of Christ at work within us. These circumstances are when we most need the miracle working might of Christ Jesus ministering in us and through us. Jesus said that all things are possible with God (Mark 10: 27) so the key here is that we must be with God. We are not going to succeed in praying for and blessing our persecutors without God’s strength. The Apostle Paul received this revelation as well. In Philippians 4: 13 he wrote, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” With God all things are possible which is a really important thing to know when you believe that He has called you to the impossible like saving a country or forgiving your obnoxious brother-in-law. I wonder which is more difficult. Regardless, you are going to need God’s power and strength in order to do what you are supposed to do. We know that we are to follow all of Jesus’ teachings and obey his commands. If you have made a quality decision to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and be obedient to the calling within you including obeying all of Jesus’ ordinances then you need the power of God at work in your life. But, fear not. Father God has created a foolproof way for each of us to operate in that awesome power that can only be obtained through Him. He just comes and lives inside of us. We take off the grave clothes of our former lives and don the glory of the living God. He, God, becomes again our covering just as in the Garden of Eden when humanity was surrounded by the glory of God.  

There is nothing God cannot due and by extension there is nothing you cannot do when you are joined with the Holy One. You can even pray for your enemies and bless those who persecute you. Your glory is the Lord himself and He will lift you up and He will enable you to do all things. You are half of an unbeatable team. Now, what will you do?