I’m talking to you—
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’
I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.
When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives His best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity.
Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
Who the Son of God sets free is free to give just as he has received. At some point we were all arrested in development.
Start speaking freedom and release the captivated ones from the enemy’s devices. See them as Christ sees them–
Snared in the devil’s traps, unable to stand, let alone move. Remember, man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. For it is in Him that we live, move and have our being.
Freely you have RECEIVED
So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name. (Hebrews 13:13-15)
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. (Matthew 5:3-12)
The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away. (Isaiah 50:5)
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” He said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” (Mark 10:21)
The Attitude of Christ
…but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.* (For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
So that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.
Christ Redeemed Us
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written,
“CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE “–
in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles,
so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14)
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” (Hebrews 6:13-14)
For this reason* also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name. (Philippians 2:7-9)
A desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Christ’s bride reflects the desire of his heart,
“I delight to do your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)
The crown of God’s creation is a new creature, a creature that can sound the heartbeat of its Creator.
That creature, made male and female, reflects God’s own relational richness.
The human family is to join God in the ongoing work of creation.
The earth below and the sky above with all their inhabitants are too beautiful and too good to be left alone.
They need the tender care and close attention that only God’s favored creature can give.
God’s intention for the world is this: “I will be your God, and you will be My people.”
This is fulfilled by those who are faithful to Him.
“Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches.” (Revelation 3:13)
Eternal One: Tell My people about their wrongdoing;shout with a voice like a trumpet;
Hold nothing back: say this people of Jacob’s line and heritagehave failed to do what is right.
And yet they look for Me every day.They pretend to want to learn what I teach,
As if they are indeed a nation good and true, as if they hadn’t really turned their backs on My directives.
They even ask Me, as though they care,about what I want them to be and do, as if they really want Me in their lives.
People: Why didn’t You notice how diligently we fasted before You?
We humbled ourselves with pious practices and You paid no attention.
Eternal One: I have to tell you, on those fasting days,all you were really seeking was your own pleasure;
Besides you were busy defrauding people and abusing your workers.
Your kind of fasting is pointless, for it only leads to bitter quarrels,contentious backbiting, and vicious fighting.
You are not fasting today because you want Me to hear your voice.
What kind of a fast do I choose? Is a true fast simply
some religious exercise for making a person feel miserable and woeful?
Is it about how you bow your head (like a bent reed), how you dress (in sackcloth), and where you sit (in a bed of ashes)?
Is this what you call a fast, a day the Eternal One finds good and proper?
No, what I want in a fast is this:
to liberate those tied down and held back by injustice,
to lighten the load of those heavily burdened,
to free the oppressed and shatter every type of oppression.
A fast for Me involves sharing your food with people who have none,
giving those who are homeless a space in your home,
Giving clothes to those who need them, and not neglecting your own family.
Then, oh then, your light will break out like the warm, golden rays of a rising sun;
in an instant, you will be healed.
Your rightness will precede and protect you;
the glory of the Eternal will follow and defend you.
Then when you do call out, “My God, Where are You?”
The Eternal One will answer, “I am here, I am here.”
If you remove the yoke of oppression from the downtrodden among you,
stop accusing others, and do away with mean and inflammatory speech,
If you make sure that the hungry and oppressed have all that they need,
then your light will shine in the darkness,
And even your bleakest moments will be bright as a clear day.
The Eternal One will never leave you;
He will lead you in the way that you should go.
When you feel dried up and worthless,
God will nourish you and give you strength.
And you will grow like a garden lovingly tended;
you will be like a spring whose water never runs out.
You will discover there are people among your own
who can rebuild this broken-down city out of the ancient ruins;
You will firm up its ancient foundations.
And all around, others will call you
“Repairer of Broken Down Walls” and “Rebuilder of Livable Streets.”
Eternal One: If because of the Sabbath you set aside your own pursuits and pleasure,
and you honor the Sabbath and sanctify that day by leaving it to and for the Eternal—
If you speak of Sabbath-delight but avoid speaking idle words,
and refuse to get caught up and busy with your interests and concerns—
Then you will discover joy such as only the Eternal can give.
And I will raise you high and make your reach as wide as the earth,
And you will live on all that I promised to Jacob, your ancestor, the heart of Israel.
The Eternal One said these very things.
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24)
Jesus Christ Has Overcome the World
“These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”
His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”
Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Like the dearly beloved disciple who lay his head on Jesus’ breast–
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24)
Like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet–
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
Not like Martha (the sister of Mary) caught up in the distraction of busyness rather than being about the Father’s business–
The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest ‘?
Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” (John 4:34-35)
Like the woman who knelt in washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair–
Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”
Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
Like the woman who broke and poured out all she was relying on in order to release her from reliance on things that are perishable subject to corruption or theft to place her reliance in the only One who is Faithful and True in Christ Jesus who is our Source and Supply!
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21)
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:21)
“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33)
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act—
Like Ruth lying down in humbleness of heart trusting in Naomi’s counsel at Boaz’ feet.
Ruth lay down to signal her availability for marriage.
What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (Mark 10:9)
Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)
[“When you see him slipping off to sleep, watch where he lies down and then go there. Lie at his feet to let him know that you are available to him for marriage. Then wait and see what he says. He’ll tell you what to do.”
Ruth said, “If you say so, I’ll do it, just as you’ve told me.”
She (Ruth) said, “I am Ruth, your maiden; take me under your protecting wing. You’re my close relative, you know, in the circle of covenant redeemers—you do have the right to marry me.”
He (Boaz) said, “God bless you, my dear daughter! What a splendid expression of love!”
[“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
“You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:13-14)]
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. (John 12:24-25)
Like Gideon who heeded the Word of the LORD doing as He said breaking open the jars
releasing the shining flames as arrows!
Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? the fruit of the womb His generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep. (Psalm 127:3-5)
[God said to him, “I’ll be with you. Believe Me, you’ll defeat Midian as one man.” (Judges 6:16)]
[That night, God told Gideon: “Get up and go down to the camp. I’ve given it to you. If you have any doubts about going down, go down with Purah your armor bearer; when you hear what they’re saying, you’ll be bold and confident.” (Judges 7:9a)]
Your wife will bear children as a vine bears grapes, your household lush as a vineyard,
The children around your table as fresh and promising as young olive shoots.
Stand in awe of God’s Yes. Oh, how He blesses the one who fears God!
You’re blessed when you stay on course,walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow His directions,doing your best to find Him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road He set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;now You expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,keeping to the course You set;
Then I’d never have any regretsin comparing my life with Your counsel.
I thank You for speaking straight from your heart;I learn the pattern of Your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what You tell me to do;don’t ever walk off and leave me.
“I’ll take her as my wife and keep the name of the deceased alive along with his inheritance.
The memory and reputation of the deceased is not going to disappear out of this family
or from his hometown. To all this you are witnesses this very day.” (Ruth 4:10)
“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
(Matthew 16:28-29) For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels,
and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.
“Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matthew 24:34)
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)
God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn:
when you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes,
When you avoid sin’s highway,
when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse.
For you, the Eternal’s Word is your happiness.
It is your focus—from dusk to dawn.
You are like a tree,
planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry.
Your fruit ripens in its time;
your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun.
No matter what you do, you prosper.
For those who focus on sin, the story is different.
They are like the fallen husk of wheat, tossed by an open wind, left deserted and alone.
In the end, the wicked will fall in judgment;
the guilty will be separated from the innocent.
Their road suddenly will end in death,
yet the journey of the righteous has been charted by the Eternal.
—then complete my joy by having a common purpose and a common love, by being one in heart and mind.
Do nothing out of rivalry or vanity; but, in humility, regard each other as better than yourselves —
look out for each other’s interests and not just for your own. (Philippians 2:2-4)
My joy completed in them
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.