“Getting to the Other Side with Jesus!”

Photo: Pixabay

Getting to the other side, isn’t that what we all want to do?  All we want to do is be opposite of where we are now.  Standing on the edge of one shore with a whole mess of stormy ocean in between, all our hearts yearn to do is get through this mess safely and plant our feet on the shore of peace that stands waiting to receive us after navigating the tumultuous oceans in between.

But, it’s that whole mess of raging ocean in between that’s the problem.  Sometimes life is hard.  Sometimes the waves are so high and terrible, the view of the shore is obscured.  Sometimes they crash so violently that I can’t help cry out with the disciples, “Lord, save us!” (Matthew 8:25).  The situation is hard and we are desperate and screaming for deliverance!

The Lord hears, and He questions them, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26).  For the disciples, Jesus wanted to know, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25).

Let’s face it, like the disciples, sometimes it’s hard to see past what is before you right now.  With fearsome events swirling around, and disaster seemingly imminent, “seeing” a positive end to this rise is very difficult.  But, God never asked us to see the better end.  He asks us to hold on, in faith, and trust that He will get us to the other side.

Four times we are told in His word, “The just shall live by faith,” (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).  And, in 2 Corinthians we are told, “We walk by faith, not by sight,” (5:7).  Yet, no matter how much we hear or read these encouraging words from Scripture, when it comes our time to be in the boat tossed about on the raging seas, many are ready to abandon ship because they just can’t see the way to the other side.  But, abandoning ship doesn’t get you to the other side.  It only leaves you treading water in the middle of the waves.

I don’t scoff at the disciples for waking Jesus, because if you don’t know how to get through the storm safely, and if you are having trouble navigating the ferocious winds in your life, it’s best to lean on Jesus in the middle of the storm.  It’s best to speak to the one who cannot only see you safely to the other side but quiet the mess in between (Matthew 8:26).  If your goal is the other side, Jesus is your way.  Trust that if you are riding with Him, you will arrive safely on that shore of peace because Jesus never fails.

“He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.”  – Psalm 107:29

“Pray, and let God worry.” – Martin Luther

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” – Psalm 34:17

““When you can’t see God’s hand, trust His heart.”  – Emily Freeman

“The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” – Nahum 1:7

 

“SPEAK TO INCREASE!”

There is power in our words. We’ve heard it
time and again, but applying it to our own lives
takes a bit practice. In the heat of the moment
or just in rashness to answer to say “something”
our words can often come flowing out with no
purpose or intent of causing fruit or increase
that benefits not only the hearer but the one
who speaks.

Every time we open our mouths to speak we are
either producing or limiting things from
happening in our lives; we are either putting stuff
out there that causes an increase or a decrease.
We truly do eat or fill our lives and the lives of
those around us with the words we speak.
Satisfaction comes when we are filled with good
and right things. Today, speak to increase and
bless yourself and those around you

“SIT AT THE FEET OF JESUS!”

Jesus told Martha she was worried about many
things, but only one thing was needful: to
sit at His feet, to be where He is, to hear what
He speaks.

Worrying about many things has a way of
distracting us from Jesus and robbing us
of the joy of being where He is. Sometimes
we have the “I can’t help it” attitude. It is
then when we need to really cast these cares
on Him so that we can enjoy the life He
intended for us to have in Him. Father God,
Help us to let go and let God so that we can
sit at the feet of Jesus in peace. Amen!

Sunday School Lesson – “Serving Like the Good Samaritan” Luke 10:25-34

Photo: Pixabay/jclk8888

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 10:25-34 (KJV, Public Domain)

In a previous article I wrote: “Have a Warmer Heart than Usual” it reads:

“I live in a good distance from the church I attend which means lots of driving and observing time.  Often times, on my way to church I look out my window and I stare.  Some may think I’m being rude, but it’s the exact opposite.  I look at that person sitting on the stoop or the one standing on the corner, and I wonder.  I wonder about what they may have gone through that day.  I wonder what it is that made that person look so sad.  I wonder about the mom on the bus stop struggling to get stroller, baby, and bags onto the bus.  I wonder.

How often have we really taken the time to see beyond the people to see the person, to really try to imagine you walking in the shoes of another?  To see what’s going on inside the person without judging the outside?  To show a tender heart instead of a wagging head, disapproving eyes and a simple tsk-tsk-tsk?

When it’s all said and done, “Mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:13).  Thinking beyond oneself is going to win out hands down every single time.  Why?  Because, that’s what Christ did for us!  He looked beyond Himself, beyond His own needs and hurts, and saw what the world needed.  The world needed a Savior.

Even during His earthly ministry it has been noted in the Bible, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (Mt. 9:36).  To the leper, “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him…” (Mk. 1:41).  To the mom who just lost her son, “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her…” (Luke 7:13).  To the world, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42).  To His enemies, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34).

That’s how warm Jesus’ heart was toward people.  He had a genuine concern to look at people from the inside out instead of the outside in.  He saw the person beyond the people.  So, did the Good Samaritan.  Despite the rejection and animosity he faced down through the years at the hand of the Jews, this man needed his help.  He was not going to let those years of bitterness or even indifference change his resolve to help the one that needed him now.

Paul taught the church in Ephesus to “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us…” (Eph. 4:32-5:2).

Imitators of God are concerned with the person on the inside.  An imitator of God is warmed to the plight of the human in humanity and sees them for who they are.  They are someone that God is concerned enough about to allow His Son to die.  Shouldn’t we then have that same compassion for one another? (© Word For Life Says).

Compassion, though it may sometimes seem like it in today’s world, does not have to be a lost art.  We, if we follow the example of Jesus and of those who have gone on before us, can make a difference, not only in one life but in the world, positively, for change.  Through our service to our fellow man we are demonstrating the service of God’s love toward us; thereby serving God as well.

Considering all that Christ has done for us, we have a unique responsibility to show one another love through service.  Think about the life of Christ.  He said, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many,” (Matthew 20:28).  Here is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords, humbling Himself as a commoner and serving.  His focus was never on receiving anything, yet to give it all.  The pattern of the Church and those who would serve God should be so likeminded.

A Lawyer Questions Jesus

Luke 10:25-29 “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?  And he answering said, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.  And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.  But he willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” 

It amazes me the lengths that individuals will go through to try to prove a point.  Certain men would show up at different points: Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees and scribes, “to catch him in his words,” (Mark 12:13).  These questionings were not honest inquiries rather ways to try to catch Jesus in a trap; “that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor,” (Luke 20:20; read 9-19 for more).

The lawyer in today’s lesson was an expert in the religious law or the Law of Moses.  His life revolved around the teachings thereof; he knew and possessed the expertise of the time; a very thorough knowledge of what was written and passed down from generation to generation amongst the people of God.

Here, he used his “knowledge” to try to trap Jesus in something he and the other Pharisees and scribes could eventually use against Him in their pursuit of His demise.  We see a similar situation play out in Matthew 22:35 and Mark 12:28.

But Jesus turned the tables on him and asked him, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” Obviously, Jesus knew of the man and who he was and being the expert that he is should be able to readily answer His question as well.  It’s one thing to throw questions at another in an attempt to embarrass or discredit; it’s totally different to be put on the spot and have to answer for some theological debate for oneself.  Jesus redirected the man’s question to let the law, which he is so familiarly acquainted with, speak for itself.

Note: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16).  If there is any question regarding the Word, refer back to the Word.  Jesus used God’s Word a lot in many defenses.

What I like is Jesus didn’t initiate this.  It was the pride and headiness of those who sought to disprove Him that caused them to pose these questions.  Yet, at every turn, Jesus, in His quiet and humble way, puts people in their place causing the opposite results in what they were hoping for.

The lawyer’s response was not unexpected.  He answered with his recitation from a portion of the Law which begins in Deuteronomy 6:4 with the words, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:”; also known as the Shema (compare Mark 12:29).  This prayer was recited two times a day.  Its instructions are very poignant and meant to solidify one’s relationship and that of his house with God (see Deuteronomy 6:4-7).  What great principles on rearing a godly house and drawing one closer to God!  Here, the lawyer answered confidently, “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind” reciting from the familiar verse 5 in that same set of verses from Deuteronomy 6.

Note: Because we love Him, everything within our inner being should be wholly and completely devoted to God: the emotions, mind, will, and strength.  This goes beyond lip service.  God wants your inner man devoted to Him rather than surface professions of faith.  Why do you think God so approved of David despite his many, many faults?  He did so because David’s heart was for God.  Act 13:22 says, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart…”  David worshiped God and was devoted to God from the heart.  His inner man was tied to God.”

The second portion of his recitation came from Leviticus 19:18b where it states, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Love is a working of the inner man and is concerned with outwardly working itself in the lives of others seeking their betterment.  Love doesn’t look to loop-hole another to get out of service, rather, it asks, “What can I do for my fellow man?”  One of the greatest things we or any of us can give to another is love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Jesus supports his answer as being correct by stating, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” In Matthew 22:40 Jesus states, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  Everything is fulfilled in the following of these two commandments.  We are not saved by our works, but our works prove to whom we belong.  “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17; read vss. 14-18).

“But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?” Oh, here’s where we get into the pudding of the matter.  I don’t know why this man felt a need to justify himself but the answer that Jesus gives was most certainly not what he was looking for.  When one is seeking to justify themselves, in my opinion, they are trying to clear themselves from any wrongdoing.  Being that this man was, in fact, a pro at the dealings of the Mosaic Law, he wants to be found, again in my opinion, “right” in his dealings with his fellow man.

Though his title of a lawyer was not as we use it today in a court of law, let’s think about that court of law scene for a moment.  People go to court to try and convict.  Others are there to defend or justify; presenting an excuse to the judge/jury of why they should be cleared of any charges.  Again, strictly my opinion, but to me, this man was fishing to be exonerated of any wrong toward his fellow man.  But, let’s find out Jesus’ answer in the matter.

Jesus’ Answer to the Lawyer

Luke 10:30-34 “And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

To answer the lawyer’s question, Jesus, as He was known to do, told a very illustrative story instead of giving a simple verbal response.  What He was about to pose would be thought-provoking and should cause some to question whether they are truly serving in the love of God.

Many of us are very familiar with this story so I won’t bore you with the obvious.  What I do what to point out is the “opposite” ingredient that plays into the mix of things in Jesus’ story.  On the one hand, we have not one, but two men who are considered righteous workers in the temple of God: the priest and the Levite.  Both men have been ordained and appointed special positions and special tasks on behalf of the temple, the people, and God.

On the other hand, we have a despised reject of Jewish society, the Samaritan.  One who most would have been considered a nobody yet became the hero of Jesus’ story and is definitive proof that no matter how others view you, you can still make an impact in this world for God.

Another “opposite” ingredient to look at is not who any of the men are; rather, their actions in coming across the beaten man.  The two, the priest and the Levite, for whatever reason chose not to help or even come near to see about the battered man.  Some say they wanted to remain ceremonially clean or the like.  We just don’t know the exact cause for why they reacted the way they did but Jesus made it a point to tell the story like this, so it is more than noteworthy to pay attention to.

To Jesus, their actions were not only opposite of the Samaritan’s, who showed compassion; but their actions were also opposite of what God was looking for.  For by the time we reach the end of the story, not in today’s printed text, Jesus asked, “Which of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36).

The lawyer to whom He presented the question answered, “He that shewed mercy on him,” (Luke 10:37a).  Jesus followed with this very important instruction: “Go, and do thou likewise,” (Luke 10:37b), showing what kind of service God was looking for from His people.

We serve God not just in the confines of the church building or temple; we serve God when we reach out to our fellow man and become vessels for His mercy to work through.

This was a prime teaching opportunity to let them know how they treat people matters.  Treat people as you yourself would want to be treated or how you think Jesus would treat them.  “God is love,” (1 John 4:8), and those that belong to Him should operate in love also.  Everybody wants to be loved and feel the concern of mercy and compassion this man showed, no matter their status in life.

God’s people should know how to treat people in any situation or circumstance, whether the times are favorable or not.  God’s people must respond the same way Jesus did.  Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  See people how Jesus sees them.  What is His attitude toward another in need?

Loving people; serving them and treating them as one would want to be treated is a priority for living as God’s people and serving Him.

As was already stated in our introduction, we are to “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us…” (Eph. 4:32-5:2).

In order to serve God, we must serve people also.  The Good Samaritan became a great and enduring example through the ages of how through serving one’s fellow man we also serve God.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Suggested Activities:

Object Lesson Idea from: “Living Love: The Parable of the Good Samaritan” (go to page 3 for the Object Lesson to lead into this lesson titled, The Present Predicament )

“Bible Verse Review Activity” (Click to find a great game that’s easy and inexpensive to help students memorize Bible verses)

In getting across the idea of “Serving,” I used crafts incorporating the hands since that’s what we use the most to serve and help others (see below). Enjoy!

LACE IT UP HANDPRINT:

One craft idea is to simply have students trace their handprint on cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout printed on cardstock for this project because it’s sturdier, and then cut it out.   Using a hole punch, go around the outer edges of the picture of the hand (these will be for lacing).  Students can then decorate and lace with ribbon, colorful shoelaces, or yarn (note: if you use ribbon like I did, you may want to wrap the ends in tape to make a little aglet like on a shoelace to make it easier to navigate through the holes).  You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project. (Example pictured below)

 

HANDPRINT NECKLACE:

Continuing with our hand theme, students can make a Handprint Necklace (example pictured below – I used construction paper with tracing).  Students can trace their handprint onto construction paper or cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout and cut out.  Punch one hole in the top.  Using ribbon or yarn and cut up straws, beads, or whatever you have laying around (even loop cereal 😉 Let them have fun and decorate it as they see fit. You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project.

Adult Journal Page: Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Kid’s Journal Page: Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Blank Journal Pages (to cover what interest your class): Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Draw the Scene

Word Search: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Search  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Search Answers

Crossword: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Crossword  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Scramble  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Scramble Answers

“The Good Samaritan Bible Lesson” (Here you will find many, many activities to choose from including WWJD? activities, coloring pages, take-home pages, and more.  Enjoy!)

“The Good Samaritan Crafts for Kids”

“The Good Samaritan Bible Lesson/Little Blots of Faith”

“Bible Fun Zone/Good Samaritan”

“The Good Samaritan” (Several unique activities, printables and story illustrations for the telling of the lesson.  Enjoy!)

“First Aide Bag” (A very original, cheap and easy craft your students can put together.  I would suggest adding a bible verse from the lesson as a reminder of what was covered.  Enjoy!)

“Doctor’s Bag”

“I Can Be a Service Star” (Sugardoodle.net)

“Serving Others”

 

 

 

“God Puts Gladness in My Heart!”

Circumstances don’t dictate a child of God’s joy.
Daily things can and will happen that will throw
us for a loop, but the joy we have in Him is real.
The joy that we have in God cannot soon be
shaken by the cares and the drama of this life.
The joy we have in Him will stand the test of
time.

Times of increase is wonderful. Times of
blessings are great. But, the greatest thing we
could ever experience is that gladness in our
hearts that God puts there because we have
experienced Him for ourselves; because we are
in a relationship with Him. No matter what’s
going on today, hold on and remember, “The
joy of the LORD is your strength,”
Nehemiah 8:10. What a great feeling!

“God is Forever Faithful!”

 

“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness,”

Lamentations 3:22-23

There seems to be news every day of more and more people experiencing hardships in their lives. There are stories of loved ones that didn’t return home. There are stories of weather disasters wiping out cities. There are stories of our young people and teenagers struggling. There are stories of corrupt politics; a crippling economy, job layoffs and firings, and more.

You name it and it’s out there. The daily news is littered with the truth of the sorrow that can penetrate into anyone’s life on any given day; stories that cause one to just shake their head and feel the pang of sympathy for those going through. Nobody wants to experience hardships and nobody wants to see anybody else having to suffer with it either.

It is during these times when we have to fight the most to remember the sovereignty of God. When we have to continually pound it into our heads that He is in control and “His compassions fail not.” Life may seem very, very bleak at times but God is still on His throne and “great is Thy faithfulness!”

Going through the hardships and the disappointments of life are hard enough, but when we start attributing the human characteristics of short-comings to a divine God, we rob ourselves of an unfailing assurance.

It’s hard to keep one’s head above water during times of crisis. It is at that time when we need our safety float the most. Then is when we need to remember that God has never failed and He is not about to start failing today. He is forever faithful!

Even in the book of Lamentations after the people went into captivity and Jerusalem became desolate, Jeremiah penned words that still inspire to this generation. They became words that have resonated God’s faithfulness in song; words that recognize that God is still there with His people.

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope,” (Lamentations 3:20), Jeremiah writes. This is a made up mind focused on all that God has done through you and for you; seeing how He has moved in times past in your life. Looking back and remembering the prayers that He has already answered brings to the forefront of your mind all the successes He has allowed you to experience. Let that store up for you an arsenal of truth that fights for you and will declare “He is faithful!”

Don’t measure God faithfulness by your present circumstances.  God never promised the absence of hardship or adversity in our Christian walk. But, what He did promise, in His faithfulness, to be in it all the way with you (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised),” Hebrews 10:23.  The pathway we have walked may not have been all peaches and cream, but God was there with us and brought us through to this day because He is faithful.

Text Free Photo Source: Pixabay

“STRENGTH IN THE TIME OF NEED!”

No matter who you are in life there will be a
time when you need help outside of yourself.
When all your inner capacities are drained and
strained and we feel like we can’t press
through anymore, we need Him to refill and
strengthen us in this journey.

The good news is God is here for His people
to give them what they need to make it
through even the hardest times of life. Where
we lack, He will supply. Where we come up
short, He can meet us there and provide the
means to keep us, deliver us, and set us free.

Turn to Him today. “The LORD will give strength
unto his people; the LORD will bless his
people with peace.” Psalm 29:11.

Sunday School Lesson – “Love Your Enemies” Matthew 5:38-48

Photo: Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Matthew 5:38-48 (KJV, Public Domain)

What does true Christianity look like?  How do people know that we are a child of God?  What marks us as being different from anyone else?  When we decided to do the things that God does and love the way He loves, then people can readily tell whom we belong; who is our Father.

In life, there are going to be times of being wronged, hurt, and/or misunderstood.  What do we do in these instances?  Do we vehemently seek revenge or try to get even? 

No.  Part of being a Christian or living life as God’s people is to extend God’s love to those who refuse to show us kindness in return.  It’s going against our human nature to when offenses happen by extending the heart of God to those who oppose or war against us; to those whom one would consider being an enemy.

When we choose to say no to what our flesh wants to do and yes to what is right in God’s sight, then we are on the right pathway of living lives that are pleasing to Him.  We are purposefully living like Jesus did – choosing to love, even the worst, like God does.   

Going Against Human Nature

Matthew 5:38-42 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

It is during His teaching on the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus lays out the disciplines necessary for a life lived for the Kingdom of God, where this lesson text is found.  In that teaching, He clarifies a few points He wants His followers to adhere to.  Jesus wanted to set aright some misunderstandings concerning the Law and offers a more Kingdom-approached mindset.

Part of laying out the law in Exodus was to ensure that when people committed a wrong against another or injured another, proper retribution was made.  This portion of the law, and similar portions like it, were put in place to keep everything fair and balanced, not only for the offended but for the offender.  Both parties would be protected to ensure neither party involved would go overboard in exacting from the other what they believed was due them or deserved.  Those who were to receive something in return for an offense would get what’s coming to them – nothing more, nothing less.  And, those who caused the offense or injury, those on the punishment end of the spectrum would get or give what is their due – nothing more, nothing less.

Basically, laws like this not only promoted fairness, but it limited extreme actions from being taken by another for the least little bit of infractions.  The punishment had to fit the crime and not be exaggerated, out of the proportion, or go too far for what was called for.

That’s the meaning behind the phrase/verse, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, (compare Exodus 21:24).  It was not a license for retaliation and revenge.  It was a law commanded to keep everything fair and balanced.

Supporting the true nature of the law, Jesus taught, rather than seek revenge, go above and beyond what normal human nature would demand of in times of offense.  Do something radically different: Resist not evil.  Proverbs 20:22 explains it like this: “Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he will save thee,” (compare 1 Peter 3:9).  The focus of a Kingdom-minded individual is not seeking to render evil for evil.  The focus of a true child of God is to live life like Jesus did, with love and compassion toward one’s fellow man.  Even their enemies.

And, if it’s the Law the people want to quote to justify themselves in rendering to another their “just desserts,” then they also must remember that it is also the Law that states, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt  love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD,” (Leviticus 19:18).

People can be very self-seeking in matters of avenging and holding grudges.  These two things will tear relationships and people down rather than heal and restore.  And, that defeats the purpose of the original intent of the Law.

Therefore Jesus, to further drive His point home, continues: But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  During the Roman occupation, people in Jesus’ day would suffer many assaults from these soldiers and governing authorities.  And, surely too, there would be times when one’s own countrymen would strike out in unjust ways.  But, the response of the Christian is not to behave in the same manner as they.  They were to respond opposite of what society or their normal human character would dictate.

Other scenarios Jesus gave, such as, if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also, and, whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain, demonstrate the previous point He made about not getting caught up in revenge, retaliation, and the seeking of one’s rights.  Here, He is instructing them to once again, go above and beyond that, to the point of doing more than what was insistent upon.  The Christian is not called to live and act like everyone else, getting caught up in matters that surround the here and now or being entangled with the cares of this life, 2 Timothy 2:4.  He/she is called to live and love people as God Himself does, and that often goes against the grain of human nature.  And, sometimes it will require one to do extra or more than necessary in order to show the love of God.

When someone has been hurt and broken the last thing on their mind is the benefit of the one who has inflicted the harm.  Jesus, knowing what He was going to accomplish on the cross, was teaching His disciples to operate in this world as He would.

All these things that He speaks of in the above verses, all the scenarios of wrongs committed, were to be situations that Jesus Himself would live through, love through, and forgive the offense of others through.  They would be things that He would actually demonstrate through His own life: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,” (Isaiah 53:7).

Jesus was teaching His disciples that to live as Kingdom-minded people, you will not only have to go against the status quo and cliques of society, but you will also have to fight against your own natural inclinations that don’t want to seek the good of those who cause harm.

In addition to that, be giving.  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.  God gave us the greatest gift one could ever hope to receive, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16), who would freely and willingly suffer so much wrong to lay His life down for us.  Is it too much for us to give as He gave to those in need?  Jesus didn’t turn others way or turn a blind eye to genuine needs.  Do we?

Love Like God Loves

Matthew 5:43-48 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.  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; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Love your enemies.  Loving neighbors is one thing, but the words love and enemies don’t exactly coincide with one another according to human standards; rather, they usually collide with one another head-on.  But Jesus is calling us to use God’s Spirit within us to operate on a supernatural level that surpasses our view which is usually obstructed by this natural world.

When one is an enemy that means they are against us.  Yet, Jesus’ command is to love them anyhow.  Show them the same compassion as He did when He allowed them to drive the nails through His hands and feet.  He told His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane at the time of His arrest, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).  He could’ve taken care of His enemies with one swoop of prayer, yet love compelled Him to offer Himself for their release from sin.  He had a heavenly view for loving His enemies.  In that, He laid it all down for them and us and showed just one of the ways one can do good to them that hate you.

Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.  No one said these sayings were easy, because they’re not.  If they were, everybody would be doing them.  But they are doable because everything that Jesus is telling His followers to do, He did, or would go on to do.

They cursed Him, yet He prayed for them: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34).  They struck Jesus on the cheek (John 18:22; compare with Matthew 5:39 from above), and they divided His clothes (Luke 23:34).  He went through it all and never sought His own revenge but continued forth in love.

Following His teachings, even when it’s hard, and mimicking the things He did, helps to identify the Christians as true children of your Father which is in heaven.  In normal, familial relationships there will be some sort of resemblance between parents and children.  Certain traits, characteristics, features will be prominent, assuring the fact that this child belongs to me.  And, the same is true for those who claim to be spiritual children of God.  As His children, some of Him should be seen in us.  As we were originally created to be in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), so too should we represent His image as we have been recreated with a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17).

God is a good God (Psalm 100:5) and “He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God,” (3 John 1:11).  In His goodness, He does not withhold the natural graces of nature even from those who are considered evil and unjust.  He allows the sun and rain to benefit them all.  How much more in kindness should we operate if we are mimicking our Father?

It is easy for anyone to love or salute those who love and salute them back.  Jesus, to make sure they understood this concept, used as an illustration one of the most despised people of their day: the publicans.  The publicans were the local tax collectors on behalf of the Roman government.  They placed exorbitant charges on their fellow countrymen and gave to the Romans what belonged to them while pocketing the overages for themselves.  Because of this, they were greatly despised among their own people and seen as traitors.

With that being said, Jesus is making His point, that it is no great thing to treat ones with love and compassion who show the same toward you.  Even the most despised of people usually do the same.

It is when one goes above and beyond – that’s what sets them apart as true children of God.  When one can step away from their natural tendencies of wanting to retaliate and get even and decide to walk the path that leads us to perfect living; one that mimics our Father which is in heaven is perfect, can they truly say they are loving as God loves.  They are seeing people the way the Father sees them.  That even enemies, and those that war against us, would be viewed in our sight the same way the Father views them and treats them.

After all, we were once enemies as well.  “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13).  But, in His love, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).  He didn’t wait until we were doing right and walking perfect and checking off all the right boxes and treating everyone fairly before He died for us.  He did it while we were in our mess.  He did it while we were sinners.  He did it while we were enemies.  Now, it’s our turn to show others, even those who may hurt us and be called our enemies, the love of God in us.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Love Your Enemies

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page – Love Your Enemies

Kid’s Journal Page – Going the Second Mile

Memory Verse: Love Your Enemies Memory Verse

Draw the Scene: Love Your Enemies Draw the Scene

Word Search: Love Your Enemies Word Search  Answers: Love Your Enemies Word Search Answers

Crossword: Love Your Enemies Crossword  Answers: Love Your Enemies Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Love Your Enemies Word Scramble  Answers: Love Your Enemies Word Scramble Answers

“Love Your Enemies Activities” (Tom and Jerry anyone?  Yes, what a great example about getting along with someone you are always fighting with.  Enjoy!)

“Love Your Enemy Children’s Lesson”

“Love Your Enemies Group Activities” (Several great ways to bring this lesson out.  Enjoy!)

“Love Your Enemies Activity Sheets”

“What Would Jesus Do Printable Craft”

“What Would Jesus Do Activities” (I really like the section on Visual Activities.  I think using this technique is a great way to open up and introduce the students to this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!)

“What Would Jesus Do, Mirror”

“Jesus Knocking Craft” (Though this does not go with today’s verse, I think this easy printable can be nicely applied to today’s lesson.  Use it to make a Jesus door hanger that will help remind students to ask WWJD?  Enjoy!)

 

“THERE IS A FULL REWARD AFTER THIS!”

There is a “full reward” after this. After all the
turmoil. After all the pain. After all the heartache.
And, after all the rain. God has in place a “full
reward” for His people. For those who refuse to
quit. For those who refuse to be sidelined. For
those who turn a deaf ear to false doctrine and
false ways – there is a “full reward” up ahead.

Be on guard, dear friends, and watch out. There
is much at stake here. There is much to lose.
Keep pressing for the prize (Phil. 3:14). Keep
moving toward that “high calling of God in
Christ Jesus.” Don’t be swayed. Don’t be
overcome. Run to obtain your prize (1 Cor. 9:24).
Run past every obstacle that may be thrown in
your way because the “full reward” is waiting for
you at the end of this race.

“I Believe God!”

Photo: Pixabay

In the midst of the storm, he was tossed.  A prisoner shackled by iron, but not held down in his faith.  The Apostle Paul has been through some rough patches in life but even now he stands by his faith, and says, “I believe God!” (Acts 27:25; NKJV, read Acts 27).

There are moments when life will make you scratch your head with wonder, thinking, “What the world is going on around here?  I have stood the ground of faith.  I have walked the path of the Lord, and yet, now I am facing a ferocious storm that wants to capsize everything I believe in.  I face waves of adversity come without notice and slam against my body, my mind, and my heart.  What’s going on?!”

If you have never faced that head scratching, heart-searching moment, then I celebrate with you.  But, if you, like most of us, have stood on the bow of the boat, with a raging storm all around; thundering, lightning, and the very real fear that in a moment’s notice everything could go really wrong really quickly, then you know the quandary it places you in: give up and forget everything that has gotten you to where you are; or, secure yourself for the ride and hold on.

The Apostle Paul chose to do just that.   The storm hadn’t changed.  As a matter of fact, it grew worse.  Yet, he anchored himself in God.  Paul held on to the promise of God and boldly stated, “I believe!”

In God’s Word is light and strength to hold on to during the darkest and stormiest of days and nights.  Some days require more encouragement than others.  Some nights need the comfort of God holding you so close through His matchless words that say, “I am here for you.  You are not alone.  Come, find comfort and solace in Me and rest your weary soul.”

When He says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you,” (Deut. 31:8; NLT); Father God, help us to lay down the discouragement that tries to speak against Your promise.

When His Word speaks, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds,” (Psalm 147:3); Father God, help us to find comfort in You and trust that you are healing this situation right now; that Your hand is still bandaging these wounds the world tries to inflict upon us.

When Jesus declares, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28; NIV); Father God, help us to cast these burdens and worries at Your feet and accept the peace that You want for us in our hearts.

Like the Apostle Paul, we have to choose to believe God over what’s raging around us.  Storms are frightening and life can be tumultuous, but Father God, help us to hold on to You, and just believe.