A Prayer about Loving Enemies Prompted by Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Heavenly Father,

Help us to love not only those who love us first, but also those who treat us badly.  Jesus expressed his love by dying for us precisely at a time when we were rebelling against his authority.  Help us to do the same sort of thing whenever we are presented with the chance.  Then help us to make opportunities to love where none exist.

When we are disrespected, help us to respond with respect.  When we are ignored precisely as we think we need someone’s attention, help us to think of the needs of others and pay attention to them.  When we are hurt, help us to respond with healing love and in so doing, become more like Jesus our Lord.

In saying all of this, we know that this love does not come naturally to us, but we know that it can arise as the result of you working supernaturally within our hearts.  We need your Holy Spirit to work within us to produce this spiritual fruit.

Father, may self-giving love be a mark of who we are as your children and as followers of Jesus Christ.  It is in his name that we pray.

Amen.

Fruit in keeping with repentance – Matt 3:8

When John the Baptist saw the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he had some harsh words for them.  He knew coming to observe him was insincere.  One thing he said that was not so harsh though was, 

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matt 3:8 ESV throughout)

This is helpful for anyone.  His point was that no birthright or position, however lofty or admirable, was going to be enough to please God.  Those with the best social standing still need to repent.  And repentance, that turning from sin toward God with a new attitude toward both, is going to be visible.  One passage that shows us the contrast of a pre/post repentance life is Gal 5:19-24.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Another helpful passage is Col 1:9-11,

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.

Finally, Hebrews 13:15 adds a bit more.

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

May our lives be full of good fruit, evidence that we have changed our minds, attitudes and hearts concerning sin and turned wholeheartedly toward God in Christ.

A Shared Responsibility: The Use of Spiritual Gifts – 1 Cor 12-13

Unity, Diversity and Our Identity in Christdiversity
Part 11 of 14

The Holy Spirit provides the church with diverse gifts and abilities. Each gift and each person is important to the whole.

.A Shared Responsibility 1 Cor 12-13.pdf                   

A Shared Responsibility 1 Cor 12-13.mp3

 

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildrose115/27623264486

The Old/New Commandment – 1 John 2:7-11

Apostle JohnThe Old/New Commandment     1 John 2:7-11

Love one another.  It really is that simple.

1 John 2.07-11.pdf            

1 John 2.07-11.mp3

 

Make Disciples. Week 10: Spiritual Fruit

make-disciples

Last Week, we got together for Week 10 of 12 in our “Make Disciples.” series. Below you will find links to an overview of the full 12 weeks and for the tenth area on the map, Experiencing God’s Power: Spiritual Fruit.

Overview

Make Disciples. Week 10

During the 12 weeks, we are addressing areas on a comprehensive discipleship map.  After discussing each area, we will try to establish Milestones that would provide evidence of personal spiritual growth – markers that we work toward. 

Central Streaming: The Flesh and the Spirit

The Letters of Paulapostle-paul

We are set free from the law and from our flesh by yielding to God’s Holy Spirit.

                  155 Gal 5.13-26.pdf           155 Gal 5.13-26.mp3

Central Streaming: The Vine

The_Vision_of_The_Valley_of_The_Dry_Bones-810x557Ezekiel prophesies against Jerusalem using the picture of charred and useless vine wood to illustrate the current state of the city.  Jesus declares himself to be the true vine, telling us we need to abide in him.

Ezekiel 15.pdf            Ezekiel 15.mp3