Today: Psalms 6; Matthew 5:43-48, 6:1-24; Genesis 14, 15, 16

Psalms 6

Here is the state we find David in as he penned the sixth Psalm:

My bones are horrified; I am weary with my sighing; I flood my bed with tears every night; my eye has wasted away with grief; I have grown old because of all of my enemies.

Then he cries out to God, “How long?!”

How many of us felt that way in 2020? How many of us feel like that today? I did. I do.

David’s encouragement is that the LORD receives our prayers and hears our pleading. Some day, some how, God’s enemies WILL be put to shame. That’s a promise.

painting by Angela Anderson

Matthew 5-6 – LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:44-45

More life advice from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus finishes up by saying “Therefore you shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

How can Jesus say that? Well, no we won’t! Seriously, none of us is going to be perfect, especially not God perfect.

This continues the pattern of the previous chapters. Jesus is telling us things about ourselves that can never be true. He is telling us to behave in ways that we’ll never be able to achieve. And that is the whole point. We just can’t do it. But HE can. HE DID.

He continues with the Lord’s Prayer… “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It is the only conditional element of the prayer. He even says it twice, just to make sure we get it. “But if you do not forgive other people, then your Father will not forgive your offenses.” OUCH! Is he for real? And Jesus doesn’t fudge on this one. He didn’t say, well if you forgive people most of the time… he straight up said that if you don’t forgive others then God will not forgive you. But wait. Yes, this is yet another thing we’ll never be able to successfully accomplish, not 100% of the time anyway. (Are you seeing a pattern here?) So once again, the whole point is that we CAN’T do it. But these are not restrictions meant to control and enslave us. They show us our sinfulness so that we might understand our need for a Savior.

He is our goodness and our perfection. Most of us would never be able to really REALLY muster up love for our enemies and truly forgive them in our selfish little hearts. And if they are persecuting us? Forget it! Only Jesus can do that in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Instead of twisting our innards into knots trying to FEEL love for our enemy, we need to only focus on Jesus. Spend time with him. Pray pray pray. His transformative power can turn you into whatever he wants you to be if you only seek him.

It all comes down to our attitude. Two people might behave identically but one is motivated by law and the other by freedom. The first person is trying as hard as they can to do all the right things and obey all the rules using their own willpower. The second person enjoys a deepening relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Outwardly, they may both act exactly the same. But the first person is miserable and the second person is full of joy. The goal is not learning how to be perfect. The goal is learning how to walk in FAITH.

I choose freedom!

Genesis 15

“Abram (Abraham) believed in the LORD; and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:6

Abram DID believe God. He believed enough for it to be “credited as righteousness,” so that’s a lot! But what he didn’t have in abundance was patience or trust. God told him that he would have many descendants. But he was childless and his wife, Sarai (Sarah), had already gone through ‘the change.’ So he did believe God’s promise but he thought God needed a little help. Abram and Sarai hatched up a plan to get him some kiddos. And, as usual, when we try to work things out in our own power rather than trusting and waiting on God… things got ugly. Sarai and her servant, now impregnated by Abram, were catfighting in the tent. The servant, Hagar, and her son, Ishmael, were eventually banished after God did what he intended to do all along and Sarai miraculously became pregnant with Isaac.

The result of Abram’s and Sarai’s sin was catastrophic. Descendants of Ishmael have been at war with Isaac’s descendants ever since. If they had only patiently trusted God to fulfill his promise, much bloodshed would have been avoided.

I’m a type A personality, a go getter. My natural inclination is bust down the door instead of knocking. I like to make things happen. But that never works in the long run, even if what I’m wanting seems like a very good beneficial ambition. Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it (Ps 127:1). If God isn’t in it, then it’s not going to prosper spiritually.

So every time I get excited about my next big project and want to go stampeding down the hallway, I remind myself to slow down, breathe, pray, wait on the LORD. If it is his plan, it will come without my bullheaded finagling. God doesn’t need our help. He’s got this. Really. We don’t need to scheme and plot and plan how to make things happen. Wait on his divine arrangements. Don’t give Hagar to Abraham!