The Five Kings

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But these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in a cave at Makkedah. And it was told Joshua, saying, “The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” So Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them. And do not stay there yourselves, but pursue your enemies, and attack their rear guard. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand.” Then it happened, while Joshua and the children of Israel made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they had finished, that those who escaped entered fortified cities. And all the people returned to the camp, to Joshua at Makkedah, in peace. No one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel. Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me from the cave.” And they did so, and brought out those five kings to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” And they drew near and put their feet on their necks. Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening. So it was at the time of the going down of the sun that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day. (Joshua 10:16-27)

The Five Kings

Canaan was a land filled with the people of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites. Long before Joshua brought the nation of Israel into the land of milk and honey God had promised Abraham the land would be given to his descendants. When the Lord made the promise to Abraham He told the patriarch the iniquity of the people had not become full or complete. The people of the land were wicked but at the time of Abraham their judgment was not to a place God would destroy them. When Joshua came on the scene, this all changed. After four hundred years the people of Canaan had become so wicked the wrath of God was brought upon them by the hand of the Israelite nation. Joshua was the instrument of the Lord to bring His wrath upon the nations that required the righteous judgment of God. When the spies entered Jericho as the first city to be destroyed by the Lord, Rahab told the men she had heard about the power of God over the Egyptians forty years earlier. The people were terrified of the Israelites. Jericho fell through the power of God and then the city of Ai was destroyed. When the king of Jerusalem heard what happened to Jericho and Ai and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had sued for peace (through trickery), he sought the help of four other kings to fight with him against Israel. The five kings made war against the city of Gibeon because they had made peace with Israel. Men from the city sent word to Joshua to come help them against the kings of the mountains and the Israelites came with a great slaughter against the five kings. Seeing the great slaughter, the five kings hid in a cave. Finding the kings hiding Joshua shut up the cave with large stones until the battle was finished. Returning to the cave, the son of Nun called for the kings to come out and told his captains to place their feet on the heads of these kings. There would be no mercy for these wicked and vile men. Joshua tells the nation not to fear these people who dwell in the land of Canaan because as seen by the five kings subjected to the will of God, there is nothing to fear. He then executes the kings hanging their bodies for all to see until evening. Their bodies are thrown into the cave they were hiding and secured with large stones. The writer includes the cave remained sealed in the day of his writing the book of Joshua.

The wrath of God is clear and demonstrative. There was never a time when the Lord indiscriminately destroyed a nation or people. For modern senses the slaughter of the people and the execution of five kings seem harsh and cruel. The five kings were men of corrupt morals, practices and everything about their nations evidenced a complete disregard for the holiness and sanctity of God. Joshua and the people of Israel were carrying out a plan of judgment upon a society that had become so wicked they needed to be punished and God did just that. There are consequences to sin and in the mind of God He chose to bring judgment upon the nations of Canaan during the conquest by Israel to show His power, His might and His glory. Many generations later the Lord would bring the nations of Assyria and Babylon against His own people to do exactly what they had done to the inhabitants of Canaan. Judgment is not measured by the Lord to a certain sect of people disregarding others but to all who disobey Him and disregard His holy name. The nations of Canaan had filled their lives with gross immorality and the Lord brought judgment upon them through the hand of Joshua. When the Assyrians and Babylonians came against Israel and Judah, the prophets preached repentance to the children of Israel but the people refused. Their judgment came in the same manner as God’s wrath against the five kings and save a remnant that returned seventy years later, the nation was destroyed. Same God, same problem and same punishment.

Five kings tried to hide from God but to no avail. Judgment was required and the people made certain it was carried out in accordance with the will of the Lord. The story of the five kings reminds us that all sin is an abomination to God and whether on a national level or individual response, His wrath will be brought to bear. There is a time of completeness when there is no return. When Abraham walked among the people of Canaan the iniquity was not quite full. Joshua came to the land and the cup was full. God’s wrath was meted out against the wicked nations and His glory was established. History is replete with examples of nations who no longer stand because their wickedness had come full circle. God’s view of sin has never changed. His will is carried out through the centuries against those who become so wicked and vile they can no longer be accepted in the eyes of the Lord. Hiding in a cave will not deter the Lord from His work. So goes the nation that does not believe in God. A day of reckoning is set for all the nations that deny God and worship the gods of this world. Do not be afraid nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage. The Lord fights for you and keeps His word.

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What If He Is Right?

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When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. (Matthew 25:31-33)

What If He Is Right?

The question for man has always been to determine what lies beyond the grave. He creates mythological figures to explain what he cannot see and stories of cultural fantasies to excite the senses to the mystery of death. Since the beginning of time there has been a denial to anything beyond the grave that would be fearful or dread. For many, death is final and there is nothing beyond – good or bad. Others create pleasure filled nirvana’s that reward the passing in death as a higher plane of experience and knowledge. Religions each share a view of eternal life respective of what they teach in their core doctrines. Most deny the veracity of the Bible as nothing more than fables and myths. It is impossible for anyone to accept there is a Creator that allows man to live after death and choosing right and wrong will determine a course of either eternal joy or everlasting suffering. Thinking the God of the Bible would actually punish a person in an eternal flame is not accepted by the critical thinkers of human wisdom. Hell is a story contrived to scare young children and humor the adults. The idea of an eternal judgment where few are rewarded with goodness and the majority are cast into a lake of fire cannot be accepted as the purpose of life. And so the world continues to whirl around the sun and the lives of six billion souls walking the face of the earth live and die without giving any thought to life after death and certainly not the consequence of life lived and eternity awaiting. But what if Jesus is right and there really is a judgment of good and evil?

There is a deep sadness that overshadows the existence of man because he does not believe in the story of judgment. Arguments can be made for a Biblical reasoning proving the reality of separation in an eternal judgment but for many the idea is hard to imagine. Failing to believe in God hinders the mind to accept eternal doctrines of accountability but it does not change the reality. If anything should be considered it must be from the standpoint of asking the doubter, “What if He is right and there will be a judgment – what then?” All men agree death is final. No man returns from the grave to tell the story of what lies beyond. Everything known about eternity comes from the Bible and only through the word of God can man come to an understanding of the nature of man both physically and eternal. In the revelation of God’s word life after death is opened up and the promise of resurrection established by the story of Jesus Christ. Accepting the story of Christ comes from a faith that believes in the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. And that is the problem. Man will not believe what he cannot see. He hears Jesus tell the story of judgment and refuses to believe and accept God will separate men like sheep and goats. There is a spirit of denial to agree that some men will be ushered into an eternal paradise of joy while others are cast into a place of eternal torment. But what if Jesus is right and there really is a judgment day?

Believers in Christ will reject the question suggesting Jesus is right because their faith is established upon the promises of God and that He cannot lie. But on the surface for nonbelievers how do they rationalize the idea that when death comes in its final form and there is no return – what will they do if they find out what Jesus said was exactly true and they stand before God in judgment – what then? It is here the heartbreaking news comes to bear upon the tortured soul that knows God is real, the Bible true and judgment sure. Every man who dies becomes a believer in God. They may have denied the existence of God in their life but in their death they became an absolute believer in the power of the Lord. All they denied in life is accepted in death. Ignoring the word of God will change when the shadow of death descends upon them. The last breath of a nonbeliever is the first breath when a person dies and realizes there really is an eternal God. At that time it is too late because there is no return from the dead. In the fantasy world of man he would want to enter death and see God face to face so that he can return and believe in God in life. Tearfully all men die and see God and there is no return to seek the face of the Father in life. Eternity is final, absolute and complete. If a man does not believe in God now he will when he dies. The difference will be that he can change his heart while he walks among men but when he stands before the heavenly hosts there will no change of station although the heart has changed. Lost will always be lost and saved will always be saved. That is the character of eternity. It is not a matter of “What if he is right” but “What must I do to be saved?” That is the most important question a man can know. What about you?

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The Challenge Of Separation

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Therefore do not be partakers with them. (Ephesians 5:7)

The Challenge Of Separation

Kermit the Frog sang woefully ‘It’s not that easy being green” because he was so much like the colors of everything else that he blended in. No one would notice a green frog. Harder still is choosing to be different from the world and stand out in a very noticeable way where everyone does see how different a person is by the way they live, the manner of speech and even how they dress. Life can be challenging for the child of God. Acceptance is a normal part of life. From infancy the need for companionship comes from a desire to be recognized by others as equals and to share in the common interest in life. Learning to be a disciple of Christ creates a challenge to be set apart from the norms of society rejecting what are common acceptable behaviors. Sexual freedom has always been what every society presents as a normal part of the human lifestyle. Expressing a desire to enjoy the fleshly pleasures between a man and woman are expected from an early adult age and more often than not encouraged by society. There is very little information about abstinence compared to protection. Proponents of ‘waiting for marriage sexuality’ are in the minority in a world filled with entertainment that propels the sexual union of two people as freedom, expression of love and fun. In a world where marriage is no longer defined as man and woman the sexual freedoms are liberated to encourage same-sex unions. Always promising rewards of pleasure the world entices the heart to fill itself with fornication and uncleanness.

Money is the green that brings more heartache than the woes of Kermit the frog. Covetousness is not a word in the vocabulary of most people but it is the most common heart disease. Lotteries tout the chance of winning millions and millions of dollars to bring untold happiness to a soul that will find more heartache, sorrow and misery in the dollar than anything in their life. There are many temptations that stand before the child of God and the desire to imbibe in some or all of these delicacies of worldly fun seem more than a soul can bear. Obscene, flippant and vulgar talk is the gutter language of the world and Christian’s find themselves wallowing in the mire of such filth. The apostle Paul has a clear and demonstrative admonition for all those who profess Christ: Do not partake of such things nor participate with those who do! Imitating God does not come from fornication, uncleanness covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking and coarse jesting. There is one thing very clear that every Christian must know and understand: following after these kinds of morally corrupt lifestyles and attitudes will send the soul to hell. Paul said it like this, “For this you know that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” That is as clear as clear can be. There is no reservation about the kind of things that will damn a soul to a lake of fire and children of God should not partake in such things nor partake with those who do.

The challenge of separation is challenging to keep oneself unspotted from the world. Those who wallow in the mud with hogs will become just as filthy as the ones they wallow with. Those things that displease the Lord should be avoided at all costs. Matthew Henry writes, “We partake with other men in their sins, not only when we live in the same sinful manner that they do, and consent and comply with their temptations and solicitations to sin, but when we encourage them in their sins, prompt them to sin, and do not prevent and hinder them, as far as it may be in our power to do so.” A clear line of defense must be drawn to keep the influences of evil from our lives so as to not partake of such things. There is to be no fellowship with the works of Satan. Too many Christians are so green like the world around them it is hard to tell the difference in a holy life and an unholy life. They dress like the world, talk like the world and accept the sinful nature of the world. It is not hard to be green because they blend in with the world. Therefore do not be partakers with them. Walk in the light as children of light.

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Making Jesus Marvel

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Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.” Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick. (Luke 7:1-10)

Making Jesus Marvel

Standing on the sea shore in the early morning hours watching the sun peek over the horizon and burst into brilliant colors of indescribable brilliance is something that can take the breath away. Gazing over the mountain tops billowed by the morning mist is an awe inspiring scene of pastel beauty that is almost more than the eyes can take in. Looking into the face of a newborn baby in the wonderment of birth causes the heart to burst with emotions never known until a man becomes a father or a mother caresses for the first time her little child. There are many things that bring awe and surprise to the mind of men as they fathom the incredible world created by God. As incredible as the wonders of life can be there is nothing more incredible than to consider that the Son of God marveled at the faith of a man who was not a part of the nation of the Lord. A centurion was a commander of about one hundred men in the powerful Roman Legions that had established the Empire for Rome.

On a day when Jesus entered Capernaum a certain centurion sent elders of the Jews to beg of Him to heal a servant that was very dear to him. The Lord agreed to go to the centurion’s home to heal the servant but before He arrived friends of the centurion came to Jesus with a message. There was no need for the Lord to come to the house as the centurion did not feel worthy for such a man to come into his home. As a centurion, he was familiar with authority and when he spoke men obeyed. He commanded men by issuing commands and as a centurion had great power to change the lives of many men. His message to Jesus was that as powerful as he was in the Roman Legions as a man of war he knew the power of Jesus was so much greater to do an impossible task to heal his servant. The centurion had such great faith he told Jesus but speak the word and the servant would be healed. It would be one thing to have Jesus touch the servant or do something special when he came into the house but the centurion believed that Jesus only had to say the word and his servant would be healed.

It is a wonder to cause the Son of God to marvel but the centurion did exactly that. The word marvel is defined as something that inspires, causes awe or amazement. It can be admiration for someone who does a wonderful or astonishing thing. The commander of a Roman Legion caused Jesus Christ the Son of God to marvel. There were many examples of faith as Jesus healed the blind and raised the dead but the faith of the centurion struck the Son of God especially in a marvelous way. He was amazed that a man showed such faith that he begged Jesus just say the word and a miracle would take place. Turning to the crowd that followed Him, Jesus told them He had not seen that kind of faith among His own people. The servant was healed from his sickness and the people of Israel would kill the Son of God because of their lack of faith.

Jesus marveled because He had not seen such faith in Israel. Is it possible to cause the Son of God to marvel at our faith? What does He see in our lives that would cause him to be in awe or amazement? There is need among the people of God to show their faith by extraordinary means of trusting in the power of God to do the impossible. The centurion’s faith was not a mythical Bible story to inspire but a real faith in a real man who trusted so completely in the power of God that he asked Jesus to speak the word and his servant would be healed. Faith that is full is faith fully trusting God to work in our lives and do what may seem impossible. Like Israel of old it is easy for the church to have a weak faith in the power of God. Evangelism suffers, hearts are downtrodden and lives filled with the world resulting in stunted growth, weak spirits and souls lost. The church needs to bring amazement to the eyes of God. Christians need to start living in such a manner that Jesus will marvel at their faith. The Godhead is looking for marvelous things to happen. What does He see in your life? Make Jesus marvel today.

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Two Men Sat On The Side Of The Road

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Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. (Matthew 20:29-34)

Two Blind Men Sat On The Side Of The Road

There were only a few weeks left before the Lord would be crucified. He has been steadily making His way to Jerusalem telling His disciples He would be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and he would be condemned to death. Jericho was near Jerusalem (about 15 miles) and as Jesus was leaving the ancient city, two blind men sat by the road begging. When they heard the Lord coming by they begged for Him to show them some kindness. The blind men understood the man from Nazareth was the Christ calling Him the Son of David. Where they learned this and how they accepted the power of Jesus is unknown but it is clear they believed He had the power to heal them. As blind men they were limited in their abilities to interact with the Son of God much less see any miracle. The multitude tried to quiet the men from speaking out but the more they were restrained the more they cried out. Their voices were insistent and persistent. They could not allow the Son of God to pass by without seeking a blessing from Him. Hearing the men Jesus stands still and asked them what they wanted. The question would seem incredulous at first as it would seem obvious what a man would want if they were blind. Jesus chose to use the chance meeting as a time to teach faith and courage. He wanted to know what they wanted Jesus to do for them. Without hesitation the men implored Jesus to open their eyes. The miracle was first seen in the faith the men had in the power of Jesus to do the impossible. Had they heard of Him healing other blind men? What was the basis of their faith in the man from Nazareth? Regardless they begged Him to give them sight.

Matthew records a touching moment in the life of Jesus. The Lord expressed compassion for the two blind men. His heart was touched by their sincere request. They could have asked for anything but they only wanted to be able to see. His heart was moved with the souls of these two blind men and when He touched their eyes they could see. What a wonderful thing these men saw for the first time and what a beautiful face as they peered into the face of God. Standing before them was more than a voice but a man who had touched their eyes with His hands and they could see. It was a defining moment for the two men. The blackness of the blind world was gone. Now in the bright Palestinian sunlight stood the presence of a kind face and loving heart. He had healed them completely. Their sight was given to them by the Son of God. As Jesus turned toward Jerusalem they immediately followed Him. One can only imagine the discussions these men had with everyone along the way. How often did they go up to Jesus and say how much they loved Him and thanked Him for His kindness? Their lives were changed forever because of the touch of the Son of God. He had opened their eyes and now they could see the beautiful world created by the hand of God. Sadly it is probable those same eyes saw Jesus die on a cross in a very short time. As they followed Jesus they were unaware He was going to Jerusalem to die. His compassion healed them of their blindness and His love would soon heal them of the darkness of sin.

All men experience the darkness of sin. Few men come to Jesus seeking His healing power through the touching of the hand of God. Jesus walks among men waiting for them to call out for Him to heal them. He has the power to heal because of where His journey that day leads Him to the cross of Calvary. His compassion took Him to the cross where He died for all men and through His sacrifice expressed the love of the Father to the whole world. He can heal men but only when they cry out to Him believing. The two blind men believed Jesus had the power to heal them and He did. You must believe in the power of God to take away your sin and give you a new heart created in the image of the Son of God. Without an obedient heart there can be no hope. Unlike the two blind men Jesus is not walking towards a cross to die but to the resurrection of all men when He returns. How beautiful heaven must be. Are you ready?

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They Will Know A Prophet Has Been Among Them

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And He said to me: “Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse—for they are a rebellious house—yet they will know that a prophet has been among them. “And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” (Ezekiel 2:3-8)

They Will Know A Prophet Has Been Among Them

The nation of Israel was in the early days of their captivity when the Lord appeared to one of His priest, the son of Buzi named Ezekiel. Babylon had destroyed the final remnants of a once proud nation and now only a handful remained to tearfully tell the story of Israel’s downfall after the glorious period of Solomon, son of David. It took less than four hundred years for the nation to crumble and the Assyrians and Babylonians to exact divine punishment against the people of God. The northern ten tribes were obliterated and now only a small group remained of the faithful among Judah and Benjamin. It was to these faithful few the Lord sends Ezekiel to preach repentance, hope and the judgment of the Lord. The task would not be easy for the priest. As the Lord raised Ezekiel up and declared to him to work before him, it became abundantly clear the challenge of exhorting the people of God would be daunting at best. The Lord does not tell the priest his job would be easy and tells him in no uncertain terms it will be the most difficult thing he will ever do. Regardless of the hardship, Ezekiel is tasked to carry out the work of the Lord.

Ezekiel is being sent to a rebellious and stubborn nation who has yet to learn the captivity is their punishment. As a preacher of truth, the priest will speak before an impudent crowd who do not respect the word of God. For generations the children of Israel chose their own path refusing to heed the will of the Father. The history of Israel is filled with rebellion, murmuring, wickedness and injustice to their fellow man and the Lord had had enough. First the Assyrians came and then the nation of Babylon to exact vengeance on an ungodly nation of believer’s intent on serving the gods of the world. The reception Ezekiel would receive was anything but cordial. God warned the priest the people will not be receptive and refuse to listen but he must preach the word regardless of how the people respond. Whether they heard the word of God or whether they refused to hear the task of the priest was the same – preach the word. He should not be afraid of them or be afraid of their words and even when they looked at Ezekiel with eyes of contempt – preach the word. The response of the people did not change the message of the preacher. He would tell them things they did not want or like to hear but he would tell them anyway. His task was to let the word of God have the impact of God’s grace on the people and allow the power of the message to move the hearts of men to obey the Lord. Ezekiel did what the Lord said and left a legacy of courage in the face of disappointment and hardship. His book is preserved in holy writ as a testimony of faith standing in the midst of rebellion that should resonate in the hearts of all those who share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God sent His only begotten Son into the world to save men and they killed Him. Jesus knew they were going to crucify Him and He still preached the word of the Father. He never backed away from preaching truth whether it softened the heart of the common man or angered the belligerent spirit of Jewish hierarchy. Jesus preached the word. The early disciples did not hide in fear when Saul persecuted the church. They went everywhere preaching the word. Many would lose their lives for standing for truth. Living in a godless world of rebellion the saints of God courageously spoke the word of truth to souls that would listen. The day of reckoning is upon all the people of God to refuse to bow down to the social, political and religious pressure to compromise truth. Ezekiel was called during a time of national calamity to preach the word to a rebellious people. Every generation must have men and women who are willing to take their place of courage to stand in the gap defending the truth of God’s word. Men and women like Ezekiel who are called upon to preach the gospel of a risen Christ in a world that is rebellious and stubborn. Whether they hear or whether they refuse – for the world is a rebellious house – they need to know there are prophets of God among them that will tell the old, old story and not change the message of salvation. Faith comes from hearing the word of God and sharing that message of faith with others untainted by the afflictions of man’s compromise is the task of the loyal servants of God. Let the world know there a righteous people of God among them. Shout the message loudly so that all can hear. Preach the word.

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Getting Along With Others

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But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36)

Getting Along With Others

Human relationships are important and one of the key characteristics of how God’s children interact with others. The world does not view dealing with people as a priority. It is easier to look out for self and promoting the needs of the individual rather than the community. In a hard world of reality many look at protecting their rights not allowing others to abuse them or take advantage of them. A Christian is very different. He or she has an attitude of kindness, goodness and charity to all men – including those who revile or abuse the people of God. Jesus explained that love could not be measured by loving only those who loved in return. That is easy. The real challenge comes when those who do not deserve love or that make it difficult to be kind towards are the ones to whom the Christian shows mercy and goodness. Loving enemies is a hard pill to swallow and often some of God’s people refuse. When someone takes advantage of another the heart can harden against being kind. If harm is done then vengeance is returned. This is a sinful attitude. The point is simple: Jesus said to love the one who is an enemy. It was not a suggestion or an exception that is allowed in the law of God but a command to learn how to do good to those who stand against the character of the Christian. Enemies are people who are not looking out for the betterment of others. What they find in dealing with Christians is not what they find in the world. The carnal nature of man is bent on revenge. Children of God who possess a spirit of gentleness will not revile in return. When people do bad things the Christian will do good things. This is the character of those born again in the Spirit of God.

Jesus exhorts His disciples to have a spirit of serving the Father with a spirit of serving others. He says to lend with no desire for anything in return. This is not compatible with the thinking of the world. Often the attitude is that if something is done for someone there is an expectation that something must be returned in kind. A need may arise and monies are exchanged. Coupled with this exchange is the anticipation of a returned investment. Remarkably Jesus suggests the Christ not to hope for anything in return. The attitude is that what is given to the individual is a blessing from God and sharing it with others is a kind way to reciprocate what is received from the Lord. Everything Jesus says in this sermon is based upon what God has done for man. Giving His Son as a sacrifice was not based on the worth of man but his worthlessness. Man was not good enough to accept the blood sacrifice of God’s Son. Jesus died without sin. All men die because of sin. The sacrifice made by the Son of God was not given with the expectation that man could do anything to be worthy of God’s grace. Yet the love of God was shed abroad in the hearts of man to say that God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son to die for undeserving people who killed Jesus Christ on a cross. If God has done that for men He requires for man to do the same for others. Showing mercy to others is because eternal mercy was granted to those saved by His blood.

Getting along with others is how man shows the Lord how much he understands what God has done for him. Loving enemies comes from the knowledge that God loved me. Doing good to all men – those who are loved and those who are enemies – expresses the character of mercy God has given to me. Lending without hope of return puts everything in the hands of a bountiful Creator who has blessed His people with untold blessings. Being kind to the unthankful is a mirror of what He did in sending His Son to die for my unkindness. Showing grace to those who are evil is the full expression of God’s grace for Christ to die for my evil heart. Letting a merciful heart fill my life is declaring the mercy the heavenly Father has given me. How can I not get along with others when God has done so much for me? If I cannot learn to love my enemy I cannot learn to love my God. As His child I must be like Him. Learning to get along with others is the stamp of God’s image on my heart to be like the one who was merciful and full of grace that saved me from sin. Thank you God for your love. May my life reflect that love to others.

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