The Greek word agapē translated ‘love’ in this verse is unlike other types of love. It is not the love we imagine, which is fickle in its essence, like romantic love or close friendship or brotherly love. The substance of this sort of love is goodwill, benevolence, sacrificial, and a commitment of the will to do good. This love is not capricious because its primary benefactor is not self. This is divine, selfless love.
Divine love has a deep affection for the unlovable and unlovely and is demonstrated not as an emotion that sits in the heart or mind but one that always acts. This love does not operate because it sees the benefactor as being excellent or even deserving. It acts because love is the core of it’s being. Divine love is not self-serving but seeks the welfare of others.
As we read this list, let’s ask ourselves, is this the divine love I demonstrate or do I demonstrate fickle love? Notice how the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) can prime these actions. Love:
is not jealous
does not brag
is not arrogant
does not act unbecomingly
does not seek its own
is not provoked
does not take into account a wrong suffered
does not rejoice in unrighteousness
rejoices with the truth
bears all things
believes all things
hopes all things
endures all things
The transformed mind and regenerate heart has the love (agapē) of God poured into it through the Holy Spirit. If you desire to demonstrate this divine love, repent and pray, asking God to fill you to overflowing. Lord God, I repent of being satisfied with loving others in ultimately self-serving ways; in ways that are fickle, convenient, and satisfy the desires of my own heart. I ask for your forgiveness and cleansing. I forgive myself as you, Lord, have forgiven me. Pour your perfect, divine love into my heart and mind, and I will pour out. I ask in the name, power, and authority of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, amen.
In His grace,
❀ Christward, A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (available at Amazon)
Have you ever considered proclaiming God’s attributes when you pray?
God is Infinite
He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together. Colossians 1:17
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. Psalm 147:5
There’s nothing He can’t do and nothing He doesn’t understand.
God is Immutable
I the Lord do not change. Malachi 3:6
His plans do not change. His promises do not change. God is dependable.
God is Self-Sufficient
God possesses infinite riches of being, wisdom, goodness, and power in and of himself (Genesis 17:1, John 5:26, Ephesians 3:16). Because God is self-sufficient, we can go to Him to satisfy all our needs. He is a never-ending well of goodness, peace, mercy, and grace.
God is Omnipotent
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. Psalm 33:6
Nothing is too hard for Him to accomplish (Genesis 18:14, Jeremiah 32:17, Luke 1:37).
Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above – what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below – what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea. If he comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose Him? Surely he recognizes deceivers; and when he sees evil, does he not take note? Job 11:7-11
God has unlimited power. God’s decisions are always in line with His character, and He has all the power to do whatever He decides to do.
God is Omniscient
Remember the former things, those of long ago; I’m God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. Isaiah 46:9-10
“God perfectly knows Himself and, being the source and author of all things, it follows that He knows all that can be known. And this He knows instantly and with a fullness of perfection that includes every possible item of knowledge concerning everything that exists or could have existed anywhere in the universe at any time in the past or that may exist in the centuries or ages yet unborn.” Tozer
Because God is all-knowing, He knows everything we’re going through today and everything we will go through tomorrow.
God is Omnipresent
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. Psalm 139:7-10
Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? Declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? Declares the Lord. Jeremiah 23:23-24
Great comfort, brought by God’s omnipresence, is available to the Christian who struggles with the complexities and the sorrows of life.
God is Wise
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Romans 11:33
God is infinitely, consistently, and perfectly wise.
Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means. It sees the end from the beginning, so there can be no need to guess or conjecture. Wisdom sees everything in focus, each in proper relation to all, and is thus able to work toward predestined goals with flawless precision. Tozer
When we see wisdom as Tozer explained, we realize just how much or limited, finite wisdom compares with the limitless, infinite wisdom of God. And how comforting and wonderful this is for man to dwell on! The fact that God can never be wiser means He is always doing the wisest thing in our lives.
God is Faithful
Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is GOD; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands. Deuteronomy 7:9
If we are faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13
The fact that God is infinitely, unchangingly faithful means that He never forgets anything, never fails to do anything He has set out to do, nor does He ever change His mind or takes back a promise.
When we are tempted to think God has abandoned us, remember that God is unchangingly faithful and good, is always with us, and is full of wisdom.
God is Good
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8
The goodness of God disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men. He is tenderhearted and of quick sympathy, and His unfailing attitude toward all moral beings is open, frank, and friendly. By His nature He is inclined to bestow blessedness and He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His people. Tozer
Christians find it easier to affirm the goodness of God when things are going well. When life becomes overwhelming, that is when we begin to question God’s goodness to and for us. The equations are not: Life is good = God is good. Life gets bad = God’s goodness is questioned.
Psalm 34:19: Many are the afflictions of the righteous but Yahweh delivers Him out of them all. Even with a good God, who is sovereign over everything and has the power to do whatever He likes, good people still suffer.
God is Just
The Rock! His work is perfect. For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. Deuteronomy 32:4
God always does what is good and right toward all men.
He is both fully merciful and fully just.
God is Merciful
I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. Romans 9:15-16
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
It is undeserved mercy, as indeed all true mercy must be, for deserved mercy is only a misnomer for justice. There was no right on the sinner’s part, to the saving mercy of the Most High God. Had the rebel been doomed at once to eternal fire – he would have justly merited the doom; and if delivered from wrath, sovereign love alone has found a cause, for there was none in the sinner himself. Spurgeon
As judgment is God’s justice confronting moral inequity, so mercy is the goodness of God confronting human suffering and guilt. Were there no guilt in the world, no pain, and no tears, God would yet be infinitely merciful; but His mercy might well remain hidden in His heart, unknown to the created universe. No voice would be raised to celebrate the mercy of which none felt the need. It is human misery and sin that call for the divine mercy. Tozer
God is Gracious
The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. Psalm 145:8
As mercy is God’s goodness confronting human misery and guilt, so grace is His goodness directed toward human debt and demerit. It is by His grace that God imputes merit where none previously existed and declares no debt to be where one had been before. Tozer
Grace is a part of who God is and not just an action he bestows. When you welcome God into your life, you welcome His grace.
God is Loving
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
God’s love is active, drawing us to himself. His love is personal.
God is Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord Almighty. Revelation 4:8
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48
The word holy means sacred, set apart, revered, and divine. He is endlessly, always perfect. His standard for us is perfection as well.
God is Glorious
His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, And there is the hiding of His power. Habakkuk 3:4
The glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of God’s manifold perfections. The infinite beauty – and I am focusing on the manifestation of his character and his worth and his attributes – all of his perfections and greatness are beautiful as they are seen, and there are many of them. That is why I use the word manifold. John Piper
Thank you, Lord, that we may approach Your throne of grace for mercy and grace. May Your powerful attributes fill our hearts and minds. May our prayers be full of Your praise. Amen.
In His grace,
Christward, A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (available at Amazon)
Whose image and inscription is this?… Therefore give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.
Matthew 22:20, 21
We will not have to look further than the stirrings of our own heart for an explanation of our conduct. Jesus spoke a parable about the wedding banquet, and the Pharisees’ hearts were not softened, leading to repentance, but instead was hardened even further, which fueled their resentment towards Him.
The Pharisees and the Herodians did not see eye to eye. The Pharisees despised the rule of a foreign power, and the Herodians advocated the supremacy of Caesar. But their shared vision of hatred united them in their pursuit to ensnare our Lord.
The pride of the enemies of Jesus presumed their wisdom and intellect was superior to His. Together, they plotted and formulated questions they assumed Jesus would be unable to unravel, and thus they imagined they could easily trap Him by His words. Flattery is insincere praise used to further the interest of the flatterer. So with deceit in their heart, their approach was to use flattery in an attempt to draw out His pride (As if the Darling of Heaven suffered pride in His heart as they did.).
They began by calling Him teacher, but their hearts did not respect Him. They applauded His morality by saying He was truthful, but they did not believe He taught the truth of God. They praised Him for His fearlessness and impartiality, but they thought He was out for Himself. Familiar with how the pride of man operates, Jesus’ enemies were certain the flattering techniques would throw Him off guard. Interestingly, what they said was right, but the eyes of their heart could not perceive it. We should take note that when flattery begins to emerge, knowingly or unknowingly, prideful insincerity is at work to deceive. What Jesus’ enemies failed to calculate was that His brilliance could see through the flattery straight to their malice. He was able to unravel their questions and answer them in a way they never imagined He could.
We must ask for the Lord’s wisdom and knowledge so that we can see through flattery, unravel puzzling situations, understand with clarity, and can answer questions with God’s wisdom and knowledge. As we ask this Lord, we also ask for assistance in casting down our pride so that we are not enticed with the temptation of the Pharisees.
Humility is pride’s enemy. The guidance of God says wisdom comes with humility (Proverbs 11:2), and if we want to be honored, humility must come first (Proverbs 15:33, 18:12, Luke 14:10). Oh, that we would be encouraged by Christ, comforted by His love, and desire more fellowship with His Spirit! May we overflow with affection and mercy. May we no longer be driven by rivalry and conceit, but in humility, may we consider others as more important than ourselves. May we not only look out for our own interests but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-4). In the name, power, and authority of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, we ask for humility to work powerfully in us to kill our pride. Amen.
In His grace,
❀ Christward: A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Available at Amazon)
Greetings fellow sojourners! As we approach Holy Week, let’s behold the days in the life of Jesus and the disciples by contemplating the significance of each day leading up to and including the Resurrection. Perhaps you would like to print each day of the week and post it in a visible place in your home as you consider the day’s events and their spiritual significance in your life. Let’s ask the Lord to tender our hearts to everything that transpired and let’s be eager to learn what He shows us. I encourage you to read the events for yourself as you will find more details that will bless you.
Jesus began his trip to Jerusalem. Nearing the village of Bethphage, he sent two of his disciples ahead, telling them to look for a donkey and bring it to him. Then Jesus sat on the young donkey and slowly, humbly, made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The crowds welcomed him by waving palm branches in the air and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
On Palm Sunday, Jesus and his disciples spent the night in Bethany where Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha lived. Perhaps they hosted him and his disciples.
Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19
Jesus returned with his disciples to Jerusalem. Along the way, he cursed a fig tree because it had failed to bear fruit. This symbolism extends to all believers, demonstrating that genuine faith is more than just outward religion but true living faith must bear spiritual fruit in a person’s life.
When Jesus arrived at the Temple he found the courts full of corrupt money changers. He declared, “My Temple will be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:46) What is the condition of your “temple?”
That night he probably stayed in Bethany again.
Matthew 21:12-22, Mark 11:12-19, Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-25
Jesus returned with his disciples to Jerusalem. They passed the withered fig tree on their way, and Jesus spoke to his companions about the importance of faith.
Back at the Temple, religious leaders were upset at Jesus for establishing himself as a spiritual authority. They attempted to arrest him but Jesus evaded their traps. He addressed the scribes and Pharisees seven times with, “Woe to you” before He identified each sin. “Blind guides!…For you are like whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness…Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?” Matthew 23:24-33
Later that afternoon, Jesus left the city and went with his disciples to the Mount of Olives. He gave his Olivet Discourse, an elaborate prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age. Jesus again uses symbolic examples regarding end time events, his Second Coming, and the final judgment.
This is the day Judas Iscariot negotiated with the Sanhedrin, the rabbinical court, to betray Jesus. Matthew 26:14-16
Jesus and his disciples probably returned to Bethany to stay the night.
Matthew 21:23-26:5, Mark 11:20-13:37, Luke 20:1-21:36, John 12:20-43
Scholars speculate that Jesus spent this day resting in Bethany in anticipation of Passover. A few nights earlier, Lazarus’ sister Mary had lovingly anointed the feet of Jesus with pure and expensive fragrant oil. By pouring the fragrant oil on His body, she prepared Him for burial, and Jesus said it was beautiful.
Matthew 26:6-16, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-7
From Bethany, Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to the Upper Room in Jerusalem to make the preparations for the Passover Feast. Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Luke 22:15-16
As the Lamb of God, Jesus was about to fulfill the meaning of Passover by giving his body to be broken and his blood to be shed in sacrifice, freeing us from sin and death. Jesus established the Lord’s Supper (Communion), instructing his followers to continually remember his sacrifice by sharing in the elements of bread and wine. Luke 22:19-20
That evening after sunset, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as they prepared to share in the Passover. Jesus demonstrated by this humble act how believers should love one another.
Later, Jesus and the disciples left the Upper Room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He prayed in agony to God. Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and asked them to stay awake and pray so that they would not enter into temptation. Are you ‘awake?’
Jesus was betrayed in the Garden with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and arrested by the Sanhedrin. He was taken to the home of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the whole council had gathered to begin making their case against Him.
In the early morning hours, as Jesus’ trial was getting underway, Peter denied knowing Him three times before the rooster crowed.
Matthew 26:17-75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-62, John 13:1-38
Judas Iscariot was overcome with remorse and hanged himself Friday morning.
Before 9 am, Jesus endured the shame of false accusations, condemnation, mockery, beatings, and abandonment. After multiple unlawful trials, he was sentenced to death by crucifixion. Before Christ was led away, soldiers spit on him, tormented and mocked him, and pierced him with a crown of thorns. Jesus then carried his own cross to Calvary where he was mocked and insulted as Roman soldiers nailed him to the wooden cross.
Jesus spoke these statements while on the Cross:
~ Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34
~ He said to one of the criminals next to him, I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise. Luke 23:43
~ About 3 in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46
~ Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit. Luke 23:46
About 3 pm, Jesus breathed his last breath and died.
By 6 pm Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body down from the cross and lay it in a tomb.
Matthew 27:1-62, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:63-23:56, John 18:28-19:37
Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, where it was guarded by Roman soldiers throughout the day on Saturday, which was the Sabbath. When Sabbath ended at 6pm, Christ’s body was ceremonially treated for burial with spices purchased by Nicodemus. “He bought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.” John 19:39-40
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were members of the Sanhedrin, the court that had condemned Jesus Christ to death. For a time, both men had lived as secret followers of Jesus, afraid to make a public profession of faith because of their prominent positions. Because they were both deeply affected by Christ’s death, they boldly came out of hiding, willing to risk their reputations and lives because they knew he was Messiah. Together they cared for Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial.
Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin by offering the perfect, spotless sacrifice. He conquered death, both spiritually and physically, securing our eternal salvation. “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold and silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 1 Peter 1:18-19
Matthew 27:62-66, Mark 16:1, Luke 23:56, John 19:40-42
Early Sunday morning, several women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, and Mary the mother of James) went to the tomb and discovered that the large stone covering the entrance had been rolled away. An angel announced: “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.” Matthew 28:5-6
On the day of his resurrection, Jesus Christ made several appearances. The first person to see him was Mary Magdalen. Jesus also appeared to Peter, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and later that day to all the disciples except Thomas, while they were gathered in a house for prayer.
“Peace to you!”
Matthew 28:1-13, Mark 16:1-14, Luke 24:1-49, John 20:1-23
Greetings fellow sojourners! Perhaps you have heard the ‘knives out’ phrase recently. It refers to people who blame or punish someone unjustly, deliberately causing them problems. Families are a wonderful blessing of God, but like people, they tend to be less than perfect, and some can be worse than others. In 2 Samuel Joab created some family chaos when he choose not to see God’s sovereignty in his circumstances but instead looked to his dark jealousy resulting in him bringing out a sharp knife to revenge his offended heart. In all our disputes, it is far better to bring peace, not a sword into our relationships. To do this will require complete trust in God’s sovereignty in every area of our life ~ even and especially the part that seems most out of control.
Absalom had appointed Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of Jether, an Ishmaelite who had married Abigail, the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah the mother of Joab.
2 Samuel 17:25
When Absalom conquered Jerusalem and Abigail’s son, Amasa, became commander of the rebel army, his mother may have rejoiced that he’d gained such a grand position. But before long, Abigail would have understood the turmoil and danger that faced her child. Because soon, rebellious Absalom was dead, and her son was labeled a traitor to King David.
Then, in a peacemaking twist, King David offered Amasa the position of commander of his army, setting aside Joab, Abigail’s nephew, who had that job. Again, Abigail must have been on top of the world and relieved that her child was both safe and trusted by the king.
But what a family feud David’s decision started! Jealous Joab responded by killing his new commander with a single stab of his knife. A situation that seemed so promising instantly turned to tragedy. Believer, instead of having our knives out, let’s allow God full access to search our hearts in order to reveal anything there that is prone to offense. Any heart stoked by an offensive ‘sword’ that has not first had the Spirit of God bring it deliverance, will retaliate. Lord, search my heart and know me. If there is any offensive way in me, reveal it to me so that I may yield it to Your healing. I desire everything in my heart to be transformed by the power of your love.
Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember You…
Sorrow here is put to the question. “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me?” The words imply that God’s people have the habit of pressing down their own souls. That by our own sin, turmoil roars within us and tosses us around. This pressing down of our soul and the resulting turmoil creates more trouble for ourselves than the devil tempts us to.
We should always be quick to consider how much of God’s providence is in our affliction. Why are we downcast if we know that the Father is aware of our difficulty and would have stopped its course had it not been best for us? Like David, we shall not murmur as if God has treated us wrongly. The wisdom of His providence is always acting on our behalf. Oh Lord that we may be strengthened and comforted to bear with you and not be guilty of casting down our soul and allowing turmoil to reign within us as if we had no hope.
Resolve for the anchor of your soul to search for the present fruit in your trouble, however small you imagine the fruit to be, so that you may praise Him even in your painful experiences. When we allow our soul to become despondent, we make it disquieted, and thus, we are unable to praise. When the anchor of our soul is hope in God, this hope will unbridle us from the heavy yoke of anxiety and worry. Hope in the Lord is an expectation founded on faith in God and leads the soul to wait for him. The expectant soul does not cast itself down but hopes for the goodness of the Lord to be revealed!
Is He not called the Mighty Physician? Does He not identify and evacuate the diseases of our soul and yet at the same time, offer His comfort and strength? If we were to ask ourselves, “Why, poor heart, are you so depressed and disquieted?” Would we not respond with, “My distress and sadness springs from my unbelief?” Come Mighty Physician and remove what does not belong in my heart! I know my human condition is inclined to be impatient and haunted with a discontented soul when affliction remains upon me. Lord, I desire to not disquiet my soul from trusting in you, but instead, I am determined to silence my inner turmoil. I need Your help. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that guides me into all truth and teaches me how to put to death my carnal inclinations that do not align with You.
Transformed thinking. We will not make any progress towards this mighty thing called Christian ethics without transformed thoughts. The moral standards listed below can only be achieved by the transforming effect of a renewed mind (Romans 12:2), which is holy and pleasing to God. We are exhorted to think sensibly and therefore act sensibly. It is not ourselves we represent nor even defend, but Jesus Christ of Nazareth. How will we live our lives so that we make Him known? We allow ourselves to be trained by His moral code for one thing. His Word is efficacious. Read through these commands, inviting the Spirit to teach you what obedience toward these goals will look like in your life and then be in agreement. Let’s mold our lives toward these ends with joyful anticipation of making Him known. You can do it.
Love must be without hypocrisy.
Detest evil; cling to what is good.
Show family affection to one another with brotherly love.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.
Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
Be in agreement with one another.
Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble.
Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.
If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.
Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.
Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)
Thank you, Lord, for Your Spirit that leads, counsels, and teaches me in all truth. I desire to meditate on Your word and be transformed. Amen.
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my way, because these thoughts of yours don’t come from God, but from human nature. Matthew 16:23
Jesus turned, most likely confronting Peter face to face. A few moments earlier, Jesus had called him a rock upon which He would build His church. Now he calls Peter a different kind of “rock,” a “stumbling block” or an “obstacle.” Satan’s method offered Jesus kingship without suffering (Matthew 4:8-10), now Jesus finds Peter speaking the same way.
Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus told him, “Get behind me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.”
Jesus recognized the unholy source behind Peter’s temptation. The notion of a suffering Messiah was misunderstood by Peter so that he became a stumbling block to Jesus (Expositors Bible Commentary). Peter did not have in mind God’s thoughts but thoughts originating from the human nature. The sort of beliefs that persistently desire not to havesuffering in mind. Peter did not, however, have exclusively human thoughts. He also had God’s divine thoughts because revelation was given to him (Matthew 16:13-17). Here, however, he has switched sides, aligning himself not only with men but with Satan.
He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah,you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven.
Matthew 16:13, 15-17
Peter’s quick change in allegiance is a persuasive learning lesson for us. Peter indeed had God’s thoughts in his mind and God’s desires in his heart when Jesus asked him, “Who do you say I am?” but as soon as another opportunity presented itself to apply this divinely revealed truth, he instead reverted to his old human nature. Rather than allowing the Spirit to continue to reveal wisdom and knowledge to him, he yielded to his carnal nature and rebuked Jesus, creating a stumbling block for Him.
Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan.” Things that do not bring God glory and are against His purposes are to be put behind us. They are to be put out of our sight so that our vision is faith, not doubt. Fears that tempt us to opt for self-preservation and that violate God’s commands are stumbling blocks in our lives and the lives of others. Carnal obstacles laid before God’s will, work, and glory must intentionally ‘be put behind us’ so that the provoking snare of carnality and its temptations do not prevail.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.
The armor of God enables us to put all of our human nature ‘behind us’ and to stand in full assurance of who we are IN Christ. The pride of our hearts must be brought low and put behind us as well as any of the world’s and Satan’s temptations. Satan desires to hinder the redemption of mankind and to give deadly advice regarding our abilities and worth. We are to make no agreements with his will, work, or any of his unholy ways. Carnal advice that says we are to favor ourselves over God will, work, and glory is to ‘get behind us.’ We are instructed that if we are to follow Christ, we are to deny ourselves (Romans 12:1); therefore, we are to renounce our own will and substitute it for the will of God. If we are not standing on guard, pride and self-confidence will slither its way into our hearts as soon as we make agreements with the lies of the world and with Satan.
Thank you, Lord, for bringing us into your truth. Help us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. I desire to meditate on Your word and to be taught by the Spirit You sent to help me. I am eager to take my failures, my fears, and anything else that has the audacity to hiss about my unworthiness and put them behind me. I take my stand in the fullness of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. HE is altogether worthy. Amen.
Indeed, we groan in this body, desiring to put on our dwelling from heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:2
Perhaps most days, the majority of us take our health for granted. Similar to the sun, we expect health to continually make its daily appearance. We are thankful for both, but one, as well as the other, can be easily presumed.
I am thankful that I am rarely sick, but when I do get sick, it always reminds me of how grateful I am for health. During sick days I frequently tell the Lord how grateful I am for my past health and how I regret the days I took it for granted.
One day while sick I was reading and paused to agree with 2 Corinthians 5:2. We indeed groan in this body while we are ill and long for the days of health! I sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me that the ‘groaning’ went beyond what my mere memory could recollect concerning past feelings of health; it was indeed much more profound. I agreed with God’s Spirit that the ‘groaning’ was not just for the return of my health as I could remember it, but for the perfect restoration I would receive at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The real ‘groaning’ was not for the return of imperfect health but for a magnificent perfect health. My spirit longed to “put on the dwelling from heaven.” Oh, how we limit our thinking when we think only of what our senses reveal to us as truth.
The Spirit teaches us not to be satisfied with mere temporal things but instead to prefer eternal things. Yes Lord, come and restore our health so that we can live out our days ministering to you, but may we have an even greater longing to put on our dwelling from heaven. Don’t settle for “groaning” as a way to return to the status quo. Allow your spirit to be in agreement with the Spirit of God and “groan” for the unseen things to be more real to your heart than what you senses are currently able to reveal.
Agree with the Word and count your trials as joy (James 1:2) because most times it is during these trials that the Lord will reveal a newness to you that you may not have otherwise known. Thank you, Lord, for your perfect ways.
Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. Matthew 6:16
Perhaps the first question that comes to mind is, “How can a hypocrite fast?” “Isn’t fasting for the one authentically searching?” Sad-faced, somber, gloomy, downcast, sullen; it all amounts to how someone desires to appear before man. Or even worse, because the fast is resented in the heart. My question is, why on earth would someone look gloomy when they are seeking God? Do they think He will not be found? Is it because it is too hard of a work?
A hypocrite is someone who claims standards or beliefs to which his behavior does not conform. As a Believer, we claim the promise that when we seek Him, we will find him (Jeremiah 29:13, Deut. 4:29, Luke 11:9)! As a bold believer seeking the spiritual reward found in a fast, it should be done with a heart of joy which results in a happy countenance! There is no place for gloom. There is no place for sad-faced believers acting as if they were enduring some strenuous pursuit that required more than they desired to give.
When fasting, we deny our hand the ability to fulfill our need for nourishment. Instead, we are promised that if we ‘hunger and thirst’ for righteousness that we will be filled (Matthew 5:6). Believer, let’s resolve not to follow the example of the hypocrite but instead possess a joyful face and a heart full of anticipation that the Lord will indeed ‘fill’ us! Seek Him in his Word, and you will find a feast. This will require the transforming effect of receiving Jesus as the Treasure that he is; faith that sees his truth, beauty, and worth as that which far exceeds anything you can provide for yourself. With this truth thumping in your heart, there will be no hint of that hypocrite gloom. No indeed! There will be hope! And this Hope DOES NOT DISAPPOINT (Romans 5:5)!
In the same verse, Jesus says the hypocrite makes their countenance unappealingto others. Does this unpleasantness translate as such an arduous chore that it keeps others from desiring to fast? Not only have they made fasting unappealing, but the Lord gives an assurance that their reward would only be temporal.
Not only are we expected to fast (Matthew 6:17), but God rewards fasting (v16)! Lord, may our light appear like the dawn, and may our recovery come quickly as Your Word says! May Your righteousness go before us and may Your glory be our rear guard! Lord, when we call you will answer, and when we cry out, You will say, ‘Here I am.’ (Isaiah 58:8-9) What a fantastic promise. Instruct your heart to be full of expectancy during your fast. The Lord blesses us. Amen.