Matthew 5:44

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:44

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, ” – Matthew 5:44

As Christians, we are called to love everyone, just as Christ did when He was down here.  Of course, we are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”  John 13:34.  He commands us to love each other.  We are all one in the body of Christ.  There should be no enmity between us, but we should be compassionate with each other.  In fact, we should see others as better than ourselves.  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;“  Philippians 2:3

Also, we are to love the lost.  We do this by showing them the love of Christ, and the way to salvation.  This is why we are here.  To reach out to all who are lost and guide them to Christ.  He does not want anyone to remain unsaved but wants all to come to salvation.  “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.

However, there is one area that is most difficult, but is no less important.  And this involves our focus verse.  We are to love our enemies.  We are to love all who treat us badly.  Paul put it very clearly.  “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:20.  So, we are to meet every need they have as well, with compassion.  However, what does it mean to heap burning coals on his head?  Sounds like a bad idea, however, this is a true blessing as well.  Note these verses in proverbs.  “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you.”  Proverbs 25:21-22.  Notice the similarity of the verses.  No doubt Paul was quoting this verse.

Also notice though that heaping hot coals on the head was a blessing back then; note “and the Lord will reward you”.  When Proverbs was written, people heated their homes and cooked with fire. But sometimes, a person’s fire would go out during the night, and before they could cook their breakfast, they had to go to a neighbor’s house to get a coal so they could relight their fire.  Proverbs 25:22 teaches that if the fire of your enemy goes out, and they come asking for a coal to relight their fire, instead of turning them away or giving just one, we should be extravagantly generous. How? By us giving our enemy so many burning coals they must carry them the way burdens were carried in the Middle East: in a container on the head. Then they can go back and immediately bake their bread without having to wait for the wood to become suitable coals for cooking.  A much different way of looking at the heaping hot coals verses.  This is the love we should have for our enemies.

As the focus verse says, we are to love our enemies and pray for them.  We are also to meet their needs the same as we meet the needs of our brethren.  By doing so, it gives us the opportunity to share the love of Christ through words, and by deeds where they will see our light shine into their darkness, and it may turn an enemy into a true friend.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Luke 6:27-28

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Luke 6:27-28

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” – Luke 6:27-28

This is probably one of the most difficult requirements Jesus gave to His disciples, and ultimately us who are His modern-day disciples.  He tells us in many places to love others, but here He specifically says to love our enemies.  Matthew records it in his gospel as follows, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44. It is so easy for us to hate those who hate us or those who do us harm or steal from us.  Or we may not hate them but will have no desire to do any good to and for them.  However, He requires us to do much more.  He says we are to bless those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us.  We are not to think badly of them, but to pray that God will turn their hearts to Himself and be willing to be used by Him for this purpose.   

The attitude we are to have is not one of anger or hatred.  God loves everyone and desires all to be saved.  “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.  And this is the main reason He desires us to love our enemies.  Both to bring salvation to the lost and to bring correction to the saved who struggle in sin and think badly of others.  In fact, in the next verse he goes further.  “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” Luke 6:29.  We are to be patient under injuries that are being put upon us and benevolent toward the unthankful.  Matthew adds the following in his version.  “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” Matthew 5:40-41. The basic idea here is that we are not to return evil for evil, but if possible, show your love by going beyond their demands. 

He then again takes it a step further.  “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.” Luke 6:30.  Whatever sense we put on the Lord’s precepts, not by force, but by consent, having either lent them, or sold them to him: for if they were taken away by force, the person so taking them was to be deemed a thief and a robber, and to be treated as such; but one that takes them by agreement, and is not able to make a return of them, or to give a valuable consideration for them, of such an one ask them not again: do not exact or demand them, but give him a release, as the law requires.  This law is found in Deuteronomy 15:1-2, “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts. This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the LORD’S remission has been proclaimed.” Deuteronomy 15:1-2.  I know this is a part of the Jewish Law, however the idea has also been told by Jesus to His disciples.

Jesus then continues this idea with the following.  “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.” Luke 6:32-34.  Jesus is saying here if we only love those who love us, do good to those who do us good, or only lend to those we expect to have it returned, how different are we from what the world does.  Our love for others should go far beyond what the world expresses. 

He then concludes as follows.  “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:35-36. He lays it out clearly.  We are to be merciful to all just as God the Father is merciful.  We are to be kind to ungrateful and evil people just as He is.  What is more important, getting our way or letting God have His way?  He desires us to be a light in the darkness,  shining out to the world the truth of the gospel and the love and salvation God has for them.  We may be wronged or taken advantage of but look what lies ahead in the new heaven and earth.  Really, there is no comparison.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Psalm 23:5

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Psalm 23:5   

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.”- Psalm 23:5

This verse is a picture of God’s provision for His people in difficult times.  A good man has enemies.  There is no question of that, just like Jesus had enemies.  Yet here, what we see is David declaring peace in the midst of his enemies.  This is something that is totally different than how we see things.  Let us look at this a moment.  Normally, when a soldier is in the presence of his enemies, if he eats at all he snatches a hasty meal, and away he hastens to the fight.  He quickly swallows it so that it will get him through the battle until he can have a more complete meal. 

However, notice the wording here.  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”. Psalm 23:5a.  David is saying that just as a servant lays out the table with a fancy cloth and then puts the feast on this table as in a time of peace, so does He present a table for David where his enemies see it.  Nothing is hurried or rushed, and there is no confusion.  There is nothing to disturb the meal, even though the enemy is at the gate and sees everything.  God prepares a table for us and we as God’s children can sit and eat as if everything were in perfect peace.  And what a peace He gives us, that even in the midst of the most trying times and circumstances.  Isaiah puts it this way, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4.  When we trust God completely, and our minds are focused on Him and not our trials, then He will keep us in perfect peace.  It does not matter what is going on or if we are troubled by our enemies, for He will take care of us.  God will provide our needs in ways we could never imagine.  We have no reason to fear, for God is always with us and will protect us.   And He will bless us in situations that seem impossible for any good to come from it.

The last part of this psalm is, “You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5b.  There are several meanings to the anointing of the head with oil, however, the one that makes the most sense to me is the idea of the oil of gladness as shown in Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3.  Because of the goodness of our God, even in difficult times, He will anoint us with the oil of gladness.  Because of this, we will not mourn during this time, but trust God that He has this.  And the peace of God and His incredible provisions will not just fill our cup but will overflow due to the overabundance of His goodness.  And again, our enemies will see this and be amazed at what they see. 

This chapter shows the amazing provisions He provides us, especially during difficult times when our enemies are within view and are watching us.  We have nothing to fear when we put our trust in the Lord our God, for even at times when things look the worst, He will bring us through.  Always remember this, God is greater than our problems and will work on our behalf to take care of us.  Trust Him in all things, for remember what Moses said, “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.