Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Love Practice – Love Your Enemies

I say to you:
Love your enemies & pray for those who persecute you

If you don’t obey this one, you’ll never have that house on the rock. 

Remember the end of the SOM (Matthew 7.24-27) where Jesus said the wise man builds his house on the rock?  Remember that storms will come to blow us away in this life.  Storms cannot be stopped - but they can be survived!  The one who actually obeys Jesus’ teachings … he’s the rock-house-guy. 

Loving one’s enemies is a valuable exercise that helps build spiritual strength.  It’s very simple … but it’s not easy.  It is simple and effective like running or push-ups.  What they do for your body, this does for your spiritual strength. 

If you've been following along in my teachings (or from scripture) … you know that spiritual/emotional strength can be built and developed in the same way an athlete develops muscle:
  • Proper diet/nutrition
  • Exercise/work
  • Rest/Sabbath

This is true of all living organisms, and it’s true of our spiritual selves. 

Consider today’s so-called “Christians.”  They sing nice songs and praise God and go to church and claim victory and love.  But – they also live with stress, anxiety, worry and fear.  Do you see the contradiction?  Jesus promised us rest for our souls (Matthew 11.28-30), and Paul promised that our hearts and minds would be guarded by peace that surpasses all comprehension (Phil 4.7). 

So are Jesus and Paul lying? 
I suspect the “Christians” who claim victory with their mouths while also living desperate, sad, fearful, stressed lives are the dishonest ones.  They live in sand-castles.  Their beach-front property looks very good … but every storm demolishes their mansion, and then they quickly rebuild the facade so others won’t notice.  And they look for answers in books and sermons written by men and "share" the so-called wisdom found therein. 

The simple fact is that they aren't getting enough exercise.  Just like in our physical life – we get lazy and gluttonous and become fat and out of shape, and then even the mildest activity causes blisters and sore muscles.  After a hard day’s work, do you want to eat a nice dinner and watch sports, or do you want to go for a run?  buah-ha-ha-ha!  Likewise, you can pray for your enemies or you can wish God will give you peace - relief from your anxiety.  

Jesus (who many call Lord, Boss, Master or King) is giving you an explicit, clear and direct command of “exercise:” pray for your enemies. 

The question is simple: will you - today - obey or not? 

This morning I prayed for my enemies.  It made me kinda sick at my stomach.  Praying that God would bless Bob, Rod … (I’d better not continue that list – you get the point).  It’s no fun.  Then again … I’d rather be praying for them than to BE one of them.  I’m happy that God reached out to me when I was His enemy, and I want to extend the same grace to my enemies someday.  May God grant me growth! 

He will grant my request.  He always has been faithful, but we have to be faithful, too.  God’s promises are conditional.  We must submit to His will and turn our backs on the world.  Jesus forces himself on no one.  He is only a King to those who willingly bow to him.  Question is … will YOU allow him to truly be your king – or merely say it? 

Pray for your enemies.  Do it right now, and then at least three times a day and make it a regular habit.  Or don’t.  It’s your house, build it where you want … on sand or rock. 

This is a nice lead-in to our next lesson which will cover only one verse.  It’s Matthew 5.48, and it fits nicely with this one.  Get ready, because I’m about to put you on a training program, and if you’re up for it … I promise you that God will honor your efforts and give you superhuman strength.  And once you have this strength, you’ll have a house on the rock – and no storm will defeat you.  You may (as I have) sustain a bit of damage … but if your foundation’s strong your house will stand. 

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