VIDEO Love Whom God Loves

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies. Matthew 5:43-44


A majority of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) concerns correcting false teaching that had crept into Jewish religious practice. For example, in Matthew 5, Jesus said, “You have heard. . . . But I say to you” (verses 21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44). One of these six corrections concerned how to respond to enemies—those who persecute you.

In Leviticus 19:18, Moses wrote that the Jews were to love their neighbor. But the Jewish religious leaders in Jesus’ day added “and hate your enemy” (Matthew 5:43). Jesus corrected that false tradition by telling His audience that they should love their neighbor and their enemy. Why? Because God extends His grace—the blessings of nature—to the righteous and the unrighteous alike. And He said that there is no reward in loving only those who love you. Yes, loving one’s enemy is harder than loving those who love you. But we are to imitate God by loving those He loves (Matthew 5:48).

Thank God today that, even when we were His enemies, He sent His Son that we might be reconciled to Him (Romans 5:10).

Worst of all my foes, I fear the enemy within.  John Wesley

Loving Your Enemies as God Does

Recognizing God’s Voice

I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32

After years of research, scientists have learned that wolves have distinct voices that help them communicate with each other. Using a specific sound analysis code, one scientist realized that various volumes and pitches in a wolf’s howl enabled her to identify specific wolves with 100 percent accuracy.

The Bible provides many examples of God recognizing the distinct voices of His beloved creations. He called Moses by name and spoke to him directly (Exodus 3:4–6). The psalmist David proclaimed, “I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain” (Psalm 3:4). The apostle Paul also emphasized the value of God’s people recognizing His voice.

When bidding farewell to the Ephesian elders, Paul said the Spirit had “compelled” him to head to Jerusalem. He confirmed his commitment to follow God’s voice, though he didn’t know what to expect upon his arrival (Acts 20:22). The apostle warned that “savage wolves” would “arise and distort the truth,” even from within the church (vv. 29–30). Then, he encouraged the elders to remain diligent in discerning God’s truth (v. 31).

All believers in Jesus have the privilege of knowing that God hears and answers us. We also have the power of the Holy Spirit who helps us recognize God’s voice, which is always in alignment with the words of Scripture.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

What false teaching has God helped you combat as you studied Scripture? When has He used the Bible to encourage you?

Dear God, when the noise of the world around me threatens to make me wander from You, please help me recognize and obey Your voice.

God Is Sovereign Over Delays

Waiting is difficult but we can relax, knowing that our Lord is active even in the details of our life. Proverbs 16:9

Most people don’t like to wait, but have you ever wondered why? One reason may be that delays reveal we are not in control. Someone or something else is calling the shots. 

Although we are often able to identify the immediate cause—like a traffic light or long checkout line—ultimately the One who controls all delays is the Lord. He is sovereign over everything in heaven and on earth, and even our time and schedules are in His hands. You might have thought that the expression “waiting upon the Lord” applies only to seeking guidance from Him or an answer to prayer. But it can mean so much more when you remember that He controls all your day-to-day inconveniences and frustrations. 

In the Christian life, patience is vital. Without it, we can’t effectively obey God, pray, or experience the peace of resting in His sovereignty. We must learn to trust His judgment—about not just the big events in our life but also the trivial ones that cause us to become irritated, impatient, or angry. 

The next time you face an unexpected or unwanted wait, remember that it comes as no surprise to God. He’s more interested in developing godly character than He is in making sure your schedule runs according to your plans. 

Magnified Mercy

“Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die.” (Genesis 19:19)

This rather presumptuous plea of Lot to the angels who had spared his life when they called down fire from heaven to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah is noteworthy because it contains the first reference in the Bible to the mercy of God. Lot was a believer and a righteous man but carnal in attitude and greedy in motivation. Yet, God not only showed grace in His dealings with Lot but even magnified mercy!

As appropriate for the principle of first mention in Scripture, this first reference to mercy lays the foundation for the dominant theme of the doctrine of mercy throughout Scripture. The key is that God’s mercy can only be described properly in superlatives, and this fact is noted repeatedly throughout Scripture.

“The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,” said David (Psalm 103:17). “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (Psalm 103:11). His mercy, therefore, is both eternal and infinite. Nothing could ever be more “magnified” than this!

No wonder, therefore, that Paul says He is “rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us” (Ephesians 2:4), and Peter tells us that “his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3).

It is only “according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5), surely “not [because of any] works of righteousness which we have done.” Therefore, with David, we can say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:6). HMM

On the Road to Jerusalem

Luke 17:11-37

ON His way to Jerusalem, our Lord was met by ten lepers beseeching Him for mercy. He simply told them to go and show themselves to the priests as cleansed persons, and we read that “as they went, they were cleansed.” What a lesson in faith! They could have said, “What? Go to the priests as though we are healed! We are not going to witness to what we don’t have!” But faith simply took Jesus at His word, and as they walked by faith the wonder was wrought. We demand that we see before we believe. Faith steps out, looking no better and feeling no better, but believing that He is faithful who promised. As we go, we are cleansed.

Only one of the ten returned to give thanks, but he was rewarded by being made whole not only in body but entirely! The entire story (Luke 17:11-19) sets forth the blessing of God when we simply obey like Naaman—who went to wash in the Jordan though he felt no better, and it looked like a fool’s errand.

In the remaining verses of this chapter, the Pharisees demand to know when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus replies that the kingdom is “in the midst” of them. He did not mean that it was within those self-righteous Pharisees, but that in Himself the kingdom was among them—but they refused it. During the present Church age the kingdom is a spiritual matter and not outward, but when the Lord returns to reign it will be an outward matter, visible to all. The Bible speaks of that day and says it will be as it was “in the days of Noah.” We are living in such a time now. Men are eating and drinking and marrying wives and buying and selling and planting and building. They are indifferent to the Lord’s return; and even professing Christians ask, “Where are the signs of His coming?”

But He will come. Many, like Lot’s wife, will be looking back upon the city of Sodom. In verses 26 and following, there may be a reference first of all to the fall of Jerusalem… but that was a type of the Lord’s return. Our Lord’s strange statement: “Wheresoever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together,” has its primary application in the Roman soldiers who wrought God’s vengeance upon Jerusalem… but broadly it means, “Wherever there is sin and national putrefaction, there will the avenging forces fall in judgment.” This carnage will reach its climax at Armageddon, the last great battle.

“Thou art the Lord that doest wonders.”

Psalm 77

On this occasion we shall read Psalm 77.

This will show us the way in which holy men of old derived comfort from the great miracle of the Red Sea. Here is Asaph, almost in despair, encouraged by remembering the Lord’s wonders of old.

Psalm 77:1, 2

His spirits sank so low that like a sick man who cannot eat what is good for him, he was unable to believe cheering truths.

Psalm 77:3

God’s people know by experience the lonely glens of soul trouble.

Psalm 77:3

This is a musical pause, or perhaps it means “lift up the tune.” Let us lift up our hearts.

Psalm 77:7

These questions are suggested by fear, but they may serve as the cure of fear. Their answers are both self-evident and heart-cheering.

Psalm 77:10

This accounts for most of our fears. They have no real ground, but are based upon our weakness of faith. The evil is in us, not in providence; the change in our hearts, not in the immutable God

Psalm 77:12

“Remember,” “meditate,” “talk,”—this is a wise order. Imitate it.

Psalm 77:16

Quiet caves of the sea, far down in the abyss, were stirred with fright; and the waters fled as if they feared the face of the Lord.

Psalm 77:18

According to Josephus there was a terrible storm when the Egyptians were in the midst of the sea; there would seem from the text to have been rain, tempest, and earthquake combined. All the elements are the allies of Israel, and the enemies of the ungodly.

Psalm 77:19

Our God has mysterious ways of delivering his people, but deliver them he will.

Psalm 77:20

They felt no storm and feared no ill, but were as quiet and safe as sheep protected by their shepherd. Even thus shall all the saints be secure, while their enemies are utterly overwhelmed.

I’ll call to mind thy works of old,

The wonders of thy might;

On them my heart shall meditate,

Them shall my tongue recite.

Thy people, Lord, long since have thee

A God of wonders found:

Long since hast thou thy chosen seed

With strong deliv’rance crown’d.

Sound the loud timbrel o’er Egypt’s dark sea I

Jehovah hath triumph’d: his people are free.

Sing, for the pride of the tyrant is broken,

His chariots and horsemen all splendid and brave,

How vain was their boasting! the Lord hath but spoken,

And chariots and horsemen are sunk in the wave.

Sound the loud timbrel o’er Egypt’s dark sea!

Jehovah hath triumph’d: his people are free.

God Is Not Dependent on Our Human Success

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5:6

Why is it that the professed Christian church seems to have learned so little from our Lord’s plain teaching and example concerning human failure and success?

We are still seeing as men see and judging after the manner of man’s judgment. How much eager beaver religious work is done out of a carnal desire to make good? How many hours of prayer are wasted beseeching God to bless projects that are geared to the glorification of little men? How much sacred money is poured out upon men who, in spite of their tear-in-the-voice appeals, nevertheless seek only to make a fair show in the flesh?

The true Christian should turn away from all this. No man is worthy to succeed until he is willing to fail. No man is morally worthy of success in religious activities until he is willing that the honor of succeeding should go to another if God so wills.

God may allow His servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man.

God will allow His servant to succeed when he has learned that success does not make him dearer to God or more valuable in the total scheme of things.

Our great honor lies in being just what Jesus was and is. To be accepted by those who accept Him, rejected by all who reject Him, loved by those who love Him. What greater glory could come to any man?

VIDEO The Power of Power

And in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them. Esther 8:17


Scholars of missionary activity and evangelism use a term to describe how the Gospel spread in the Early Church: “gossiping the Gospel.” That means the Gospel message about Jesus spread from person to person based on eyewitness accounts from those who had received the Gospel and its benefits.

While many forms of evangelism can be effective, there is nothing like hearing from a “satisfied customer.” In Persia, where the efforts of Queen Esther saved the Jewish people from genocide, many non-Jews converted to Esther’s faith. Why? Because they saw how Esther’s God had moved the king to protect the Jews. This meant that Esther’s God was more powerful than the Persian king! As word of this spread, conversions followed. The same thing happened during and after Jesus’ ministry. Word of His miracles and teachings spread from person to person.

If you are looking for ways to influence unsaved friends for Christ, be open and bold about the way God’s power has been at work in your own life.

Witnessing is not something we do; it is something we are.  Unknown

Esther 6-10 God Working Out His Purpose

Why Do This?

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. Psalm 19:7

As I was helping my sixth-grade grandson, Logan, with some tough algebra-type homework, he told me of his dream of becoming an engineer. After we returned to figuring out what to do with the x’s and y’s in his assignment, he said, “When am I ever going to use this stuff?”

I couldn’t help but smile, saying, “Well, Logan, this is exactly the stuff you’ll use if you become an engineer!” He hadn’t realized the connection between algebra and his hoped-for future.

Sometimes we view Scripture that way. When we listen to sermons and read certain parts of the Bible, we may think, “When am I ever going to use this?” The psalmist David had some answers. He said God’s truths found in Scripture are effective for “refreshing the soul,” “making wise the simple,” and “giving joy to the heart” (Psalm 19:7–8). The wisdom of Scripture, found in the first five books of the Bible as referred to in Psalm 19 (as well as all of Scripture), helps us as we daily rely on the Spirit’s leading (Proverbs 2:6).

And without the Scriptures, we’d lack the vital way God has provided for us to experience Him and better know His love and ways. Why study the Bible? Because “the commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes” (Psalm 19:8).

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

Why is the wisdom found in Scripture relevant for you today? How can you grow in your understanding of it?

Loving God, please make Your Word a light to my path. Help me to use the wisdom of Scripture to direct my steps and grow to love You more.

The Struggle With Unforgiveness

Trust God with your hurt, and refuse to let the poison of bitterness take root. Hebrews 12:14-15

Yesterday we discussed forgiveness and how to incorporate it into our relationships. Now, let’s look at its opposite. 

Unforgiveness is the deliberate decision not to let go of resentment toward someone else or of your rights to get even. Unfortunately, this attitude is common. Both outside and inside the church, people seem to enjoy nursing a grudge. They broadcast their hurt and focus their energy on retribution. What a waste! 

In Hebrews 12:14-15, we see a warning against the “root of bitterness” that springs up and causes trouble. Bitterness may start with a simple grievance because of a person’s actions, but then that little seed of resentment begins to grow. And what happens at the root impacts everything else: If love and peace are your foundation, then you will produce loving and peaceful fruit. If unforgiveness is your foundation, you’ll find a crop of anger, malice, hostility, and bitterness. The sooner you deal with it, the less that bitter fruit will spoil your life. 

How can we accomplish God’s will while harboring an unforgiving spirit? How can we grow in Christ when we willfully let bitterness erode our heart? Uproot the unforgiveness in your life today, and offer the Lord your finest crop of spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).