Bless Your Enemies

The joke goes like this: A woman was complaining to her minister about her husband. The minister asked, “Have you tried heaping coals of fire on his head?” (Prov. 25:21,22) “No,” she replied, “but I’ve tried hot water!” Obviously, she missed the point.

A friend was having trouble with her supervisor at work. She was reminded of what Jesus said: Love your enemies, bless them…(Matt. 5:44)

It wasn’t easy to ask the Lord to bless this woman who was so nasty to her, but my friend did. Not too many months later the supervisor was offered a better job for another firm. She accepted. Another outcome was that my friend’s attitude was changed.

The Bible relates a fascinating account of this kind of thinking. The King of Syria had tried time and again to kill the King of Israel, but each attempt was foiled by Elisha. When one of his officers reported, “Elisha, that prophet in Israel, tells the King of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom,” the invading king sent soldiers and chariots to capture Elisha. (Interesting note: How did the officer know about Elisha?)

When the troops were in position, Elisha asked God to “strike this people with a blinding light.” Now, that doesn’t sound like a blessing! Neither does what happened next. Elisha led them to Samaria. When Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men so that they may see,” God did.

How frightened they must have been when they realized they had been led to the enemy’s capital. Terror was added when they heard the King of Israel ask, “Shall I strike them down?”

They were Elisha’s captives. He had the power to kill them. How confusing his statement to the king must have been, “Set food and drink before them, and let them eat and drink and return to their master.”

Elisha stood in the gap for these enemy soldiers so their lives were spared. Israel’s resources were given to these men that when they returned, they would give a good report to their king. Also, if they were sent away hungry, people along the escape route would have been in jeopardy of being hurt or robbed. So those people, also, received a blessing.

Defeated soldiers needed something to take back to their king. A good report was better for the Israelites because the King of Syria “came no more into the land.”

In blessing the enemy with kindness, hospitality and concern for their physical needs, Elisha and all Israel were blessed with peace. The lesson taught: we can’t bless others without the blessing returning on us.

I wonder if the reverse is also true: we can’t curse others without the curse returning back on us?

Jesus knew that blessing our enemy would be hard, but doing this puts us in the same frame of mind as God. After all, He causes the blessing of rain and sunshine to fall on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). – – -Based on 2 Kings 6

Read about God’s point of view and the various reasons we are to bless our enemies in Forgiveness, God-Style by B. L. Wade.

For a paperback book: https://www.createspace.com/4025600  or for an ebook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00945XPZY?tag=akoebel-20

 

 

 

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Unforgiveness – Harvest

“Betty, forget the TV. You need to weed the corn.”

My stepfather’s words came to mind when, a few months later, we were eating freshly picked corn-on-the-cob. The taste was delicious. Only one thing was wrong. “I can’t understand why the cobs are so small,” he commented.

Those words from a man with a green thumb haunted me. I knew why the cobs were small. It was because, while the corn stalks were tender and growing, I weeded in anger.

I was not happy that I had to stop an activity that I was enjoying just so I could do my step-dad’s bidding. Sure, the rows of corn did need weeding. Sure, I had the ability and availability to do the job. Sure, the weeds, if left unchecked, would have affected the amount of harvest.

My head knew those things, but my emotions screamed out, “Unfair!” So, anger wielded the hoe that early summer day, and young roots were severed from the stalks as well as uprooting surface weeds.

In the parable of the Sower, Jesus said that the seeds planted in the good soil yielded three degrees of harvest – 30,60,100 fold. In Science class I learned the proper technique for conducting experiments – only one variable at a time.

In this parable the seed, soil and weather conditions were constant, but the harvest was not. So, what was the variable? Certainly, weeds can affect a harvest. If left unchecked they rob tender plants of sun, water and nutrients.

In a 30 or 60 spiritual harvest, what kind of weeds are there? Lack of studying God’s Word causes wrong feelings and attitudes to grow unchecked. Unlike Paul who was content in any situation (Phil. 4:11), dissatisfaction brings envy, taking my eyes off of God and His provisions and focusing on my own desires.

Lack of forgiveness, formed in both the past and present, places me in a position of acting as a god. Instead of following my Heavenly Father’s command and example, I set myself up as forgiver or not. Failure to forgive myself or others tells Jesus that His Blood is not all-sufficient. Might this be blasphemy?

Misunderstandings never addressed and resolved can spring up as hatred and defiance. An interesting observation of weeds. They are never planted; they are already in the soil. Under the right conditions and climate, they spring up. My brother-in-law, Al, says, “Emotions buried alive never die.” Just like weeds, they rear their ugly heads when my soul’s condition is favorable.

As a teenager, I did my stepfather’s will with a bad attitude. So, it also can be with my Heavenly Father. If I view the work that He has given me with discontent, if I use the hoe of criticism rather than thanksgiving, if I view the garden – the territory under my control – as a hardship instead of a challenge, I will enjoy a limited harvest of influence. The fruit of my existence will not be abundant.

When I stand before the Judge of my soul and He opens His book of remembrance (Malachi 3:16), I will hear Him say: I the Lord probe the heart and search the mind. I repay you according to your ways with the proper fruit of your deeds (Jeremiah 17:10 paraphrased).

Read more on this subject: Forgiveness God Style. e-book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00945XPZY?tag=akoebel-20 or for a hard copy: https://www.createspace.com/4025600

Forgiveness – Anger

“Aren’t you angry?” my sister asked. She was referring to my recent divorce. For 48 years I had been a major financial contributer. Yet, by man’s standards, my husband ended up with far more money and possessions.

I think about Jesus. Did He feel anger when He stood before Lazarus’ grave? Were His tears for the grief of the sisters? Probably. Was there more? Absolutely! He was angry that His creation experienced death – the result of Satan’s anger in not fulfilling his desire to be like or better than God.

When the apostles asked, “Show us the Father,” was Jesus angry? Possibly. He had given them His time, attention and instructions. Mentoring them for His ministry, they failed to see the Father reflected in the Son.

When Peter challenged Jesus and, at His command, stepped out of the boat, was Jesus angry that a wave of doubt and disbelief slapped Peter’s feet and he began to sink? Perhaps. Peter lost faith in the one who controlled the wind and water. His action denied Jesus’ deity. “I invested time in you, and this is what I get in return? What a waste!” Jesus could have said.

What about the time Jesus was teaching the crowd and many turned away, never to follow Him again? “Who can understand His words?” was their reasoning. “What simpletons. What ungrateful people. For these I am going to the cross?” Jesus could have, in hurt and anger, refused to die for them. After all, He had the power to lay down and take up His life. Such anger would have been Satan’s delight.

Death of a life or marriage must follow steps of healing and restoration. Anger is one of those steps. The nice thing about stairs is that they lead to a landing. I am never to linger on a step but use it to get to where I can walk in progress.

I can display my anger to Jesus because He understands. If I display it to others, whose reflection do they see? Jesus? He displayed anger once in the Temple because money-hungry men took up space that should have been occupied by Gentiles seeking to worship. Satan was triumphant in manipulating people’s greed. Jesus was angry and called a halt to it.

God shares His glory with His children. If I make an open display of anger, I am responsible for who receives the glory – God or His enemy.

When people observe how I handle angry situations, may their view of Jesus’ character not be distorted, nor His glory diminished, nor His Sovereignty questioned.

Anger is only a tool that reveals who I am – God’s servant or Satan’s pawn.

Read more on this subject. Take advantage of a free e-book download for the next two days – Jan. 17th and 18th.

Forgiveness God Style, B.L.Wade:http//www.amazon.com/dp/B00945xPZY/?tag=akoebel-20

Angry at God, Yourself and Others, Dr. Lynda Irons: http//www.amazon.com/dp/B009AHTE9W/?tag=akoebel-20

Forgiveness-The Father’s Heart

To forgive is most important. Unfortunately, the act of forgiving depends on how we view our circumstances. Listen as a man from biblical times relates his story.

“I was the head servant of a wonderful and compassionate man. This is his story. He had two sons. The older boy was a diligent worker. He made up for his brother who was a restless soul.

One day the younger boy said, ‘Father, I am bored out of my skull living here. I crave excitement. I want friends. I want to experience life in the fast lane. Give me my inheritance now so I can live life to the fullest while I am still young.’

Well, the father’s heart was grieved, but he knew his son well. Giving him his inheritance early was a small cost to eventually win his loyalty and love.

It didn’t take long for this young man to pack his gear, thumb his nose at his brother and leave. Setting off for the country of dreams, he could only imagine how wonderful life would be.

And it was just as he thought. So many friends to pay attention to him – not like his father’s hired servants. So many women to embrace and make love to. Women who whispered in his ear just how wonderful and exciting he was.

Yes, life was certainly good until that fateful day when he had used the last of his savings. Until then he hadn’t noticed that food was scarce. As long as he had plenty of money to buy, he had enough to eat and lavish on his friends.

His friends! How fickle they were. When he was hungry, they laughed and taunted him instead of filling his stomach.

Finally, he was evicted from his living quarters. He didn’t have much to pack – not like when he left his father’s home – for he had sold his fine wardrobe to put food in his belly. Now there was nothing left and nowhere to go. Fortunately he heard of a small job, applied and was hired.

Reports of the son’s fast living surfaced from time to time. Although the older son never spoke the words in his father’s earshot, the smug look on his face said, ‘I told you so!’

Once after hearing about the riotous living and escapades with harlots, this gentleman looked at me. I knew him well enough to know what his questioning eyes were asking. ‘Is the fatted calf still ready for my son’s return?’ And my nod assured him that it was as he had instructed on the day that his son left home.

Everyday this devoted father searched the road for his son, and everyday the older brother became more jealous.

What a joyous time it was when the father finally could order that the fatted calf be served at a festive dinner in honor of his son’s return.

When the older son heard all the laughter, he asked me what was going on. I answered him, and his face turned beet red. Hatred was in his eyes and harsh words spewed forth.

Hearing his voice, the father came out. Anxious that his sons be reunited, his pleas fell on deaf ears. The same patient love that he had shown his second son, he now showed this angry man.

Back inside the celebration continued. This young, naive man left home as a son. Today he returned as a wise and humble servant.

Pity swept over me. Pity for the father who displayed so much love for his first born son without getting any back. Pity for that son because he didn’t understand his father’s heart.”

Read more on forgiving in Forgiveness, God-Style available on Amazon.