Devotional Thoughts: Love Your Enemy!

Missionary friends tell me what Jesus taught here has rocked lives in the Muslim world so much that this teaching of Jesus has brought Islamic believers to faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit uses this to draw people into A conversion experience of salvation and a lifetime and beyond of walking with God.

Loving your enemies… this is such a wild concept! Jesus certainly modeled this for us when he prayed for those crucifying him on a cross. This is something only the godly think about and do. This is the opposite of what comes naturally to all of humanity. Holy Spirit power is essential to love our enemies.

In practice this means we do not seek retaliation. We pray for the one who has offended us. We’ve all heard stories of families who have lost loved ones who in turn forgive the one responsible for their loved one’s death. Taking someone’s life is way at the top of what we consider terrible sins. Lives have been transformed through the power of forgiveness and loving who is supposed to be our enemy. This is how God works.

I think Americans are so consumed with political differences they have taken differences to the extreme and consider the other political party to be the enemy. This is so immature, uneducated and off base. An example of taking this to the extreme is a white supremacist shooting up a group of people from another race, an attack on an abortion clinic, and all the lies we hear politically. Evil leads us down roads we don’t want to be on. If we take the advice of Jesus in this instance we will never find ourselves on that road! We don’t even need an outside enemy because we are killing ourselves. I’m already hearing dread of the upcoming political season. Evil eventually destroys itself. We are starting to see this on American soil. We are so far away for living God’s principles!

Lord, have mercy on us! Lord forgive us! Lord, may we turn and follow You! May we each love our enemies so where we live is a greater place!

Devotional Thoughts: The Devil

A first grade boy in multi-housing ministry told us at night he feels evil come to him and he is afraid. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this. I explained to him as followers of Jesus we do not have to be afraid. I taught him demons shudder at the name of Jesus and are subject to God. I hope this sweet little boy is saying, “Go away in Jesus name!” This isn’t something we talk about much in the North American church. I believe it’s real.

I’ve heard many stories throughout the years I’ve been in ministry about demonic activities. Some are wild hair raising stories but I think here in our culture the enemy mostly chooses to act in different ways.

Division, lies, temptation, thoughts, and many other ways are more likely to turn us away from God’s plan. The job of the enemy is to tear us away from the God who loves us, to convince us God isn’t real, to prevent us from living a life that will draw others to God.

Christians, we forget we are warriors in battle. The warrior who has laid down his sword isn’t a challenge to the enemy and you’re likely to be left alone. This is a safe faith here on earth, the kind that’s impotent, producing nothing. It’s when we begin to step out and truly live out our faith that the darts come. The enemy doesn’t concern himself much with the one who is already ineffective.

To those of us striving to walk in God’s ways, we have promises to stand on. Those who aren’t engaged in battle in the here and now seem to have it easy, but we know it’s just easy for now. To the one sharing their faith and living out the instructions of scripture, you’re dangerous! You’re the one the enemy is after! There’s a crowd of people watching you just anticipating your fall. Stand firm in God’s ways and resist the devil and he will flee.

How do we resist the devil? You can shout commands in Jesus name and he will obey, however most of our issues with the enemy don’t look like this. Attacks are subtle, they creep in slowly and divert our attention elsewhere. If I stare at a media screen for hours I’m ineffective during that time period and am not advancing in my mission. If I give in to sin I damage my relationship with God and have to clean up my mess. This could have been time spent using my efforts doing God’s work.

As a warrior God gives me all I need to not just survive but to even make headway so that others can see God. I can choose today to resist. Jesus resisted by quoting scripture. We can do this too. If I do not know God’s word I cannot do this in moments of of difficult temptation.

Our world glorifies the sinner. I tell you the strongest one is he/she who resists and stays on track. There’s no bed of roses here. We all seek comfort for ourselves and in this process and we miss the things God has laid out for us.

Warrior, cross over the comfort zone and fight! Love the unlovable! Encourage the discouraged! Do crazy things for our Kingdom with your money! Live in the lane and land you’re called to. Here is where the greatest fulfillment lies! It’s not in your next spa treatment or latte for yourself. Resist the temptation to worship yourselves by putting your needs of personal comfort first. It’s not about you anyhow. This might even be our greatest temptation: to put ourselves first.

Please remember the enemy is never a person. Yes the enemy can use people to flesh out a plan but that person isn’t the enemy. This is how the devil works. Don’t be caught off guard today. My mentor used to say, “When God is about to do something amazing the devil tries to stop it.” We shouldn’t be shocked. This is normal here. The more I resist the stronger I become. God is good and gives me a way out. I can do this! Will you pursue God with me?

The first grader experiencing evil has grown in faith this year. He’s had lots of questions and sincere statements like, “My mom says God isn’t real.” Of course the enemy wants to scare him away. He might be the warrior to lead crowds to Christ.

Devotional Thoughts: Fallen Leadership

When leaders think they’re wise they also think they’re indestructible. This is when sin and evil creep in. This is pride. I’m sure we all know a leader we followed and respected who fell hard. None of us are immune to the schemes of evil. When we think we are experiencing great success we start to believe we can take credit for it. Our ego inflates and we are in a dangerous place because pride comes before the fall. Success in ministry belongs to God.

So many churches have been hurt and split by great leaders who allowed sin to creep in. In my younger years I belonged to a church that was growing rapidly. I grew in my faith from the teaching I experienced there. The senior man had child porn on his computer and it was discovered he was also having an affair. This poor church split three ways.

When I was hired at the church I serve now I looked at the group of pastors I’d be serving with and let them know I’m not the type to cover things up so if someone is engaged in sinfulness, I’m not the person for you. I’ll address what’s going on.

Stories of fallen leaders of faith abound. No human is perfect. No human is meant to be idolized. This too is a sin. I haven’t stood in the shoes of these leaders. I do not know their temptations. All I know is the way to keep from falling is to remain nestled close to God.

We are so small in all the earth. We may have a few small nuggets of wisdom that God has given us. We should use them wisely because if we have any wisdom at all it came from God, not ourselves.

It’s fearing the Lord, respecting the Lord that gives us the ability to shun evil. I cannot even shun evil without God. I’d be on the evil train leading others towards evil if I hadn’t given God my life. I think I’d even be unaware of how I arrived in such a place.

If you’ve experienced a fallen leader recently I have an article on my blog called, “When Christian Leaders Fall” that outlines what I’ve learned in these circumstances. You can find it by scrolling down on this page: jenimartinj.com.

Let’s be wiser than others by choosing humility. We are not God. We are not better than anyone else despite what people might tell us.

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