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DAILY DEVOTIONAL – Monday, December 14, 2015
Today’s scripture reading:
By telling us not to retaliate, Jesus keeps us from taking the law into our own hands. By loving and praying for our enemies, we can overcome evil with good.
Jesus says we are to love our enemies. If you love your enemies and treat them well, you will truly show that Jesus is Lord of your life. This is possibly only for those who give themselves fully to God, because only he can deliver people from natural selfishness. We must trust the Holy Spirit to help us show love to those for whom we may not feel love.
How can we be perfect? (1) In character: In this life we cannot be flawless, but we can aspire to be as much like Christ as possible. (2) In holiness: Like the Pharisees, we are to separate ourselves from the world’s sinful values. But unlike the Pharisees, we are to be devoted to God’s desires rather than our own and carry his love and mercy into the world. (3) In maturity: We can’t achieve Christlike character and holy living all at once, but we must grow toward maturity and wholeness. Just as we expect different behavior from a baby, a child, a teenager, and an adult, so God expects different behavior from us, depending on our stage of spiritual development. (4) In love: We can seek to love others as completely as God loves us.
We can be perfect if our behavior is appropriate for our maturity level–perfect, yet with much room to grow. Our tendency to sin must never deter us from striving to be more like Christ. Christ calls all of his disciples to excel, to rise above mediocrity, and to mature in every area, becoming like him. Those who strive to become perfect will one day be perfect, even as Christ is perfect. (NLT)
Matthew 5:43-48 – [Jesus said] “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Jesus said, “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.“ — Matthew 5:44 (NIV)
Jen Parra (Texas) titled her story “PRAYING FOR MY ENEMIES;” here is Jen’s story:
“One afternoon I received an email that I thought was from our bank. In a rush, I replied with the requested security information and fell victim to identity theft. We immediately changed our passwords, closed our credit cards, and did everything we possibly could to ensure that the scammer could not get into our accounts. Nevertheless, four days later I received a call from a bank — a woman claiming to be was trying to open a credit card account and make a large purchase at a store. As I continued to get calls from stores and banks where this woman was trying tio impersonate me, I couldn’t even find the words to pray. My husband encouraged me to pray David’s words from Psalm 140:8, ‘Do not grand the wicked their desires, Lord.’
“As I prayed, I also began to think about this woman. What kind of brokenness had led her to become a thief? Because Jesus told us to pray for our enemies, I began praying that God would use my connection with this woman, which had begun in darkness, to bring light into her life. (See John 1:5 [below].)
“This experience has opened my heart to understand what it means to pray for our enemies. Through prayer we work with God to bring light to the world.”
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY – Praying for someone who has hurt me can bring both of us new life.
Prayer: Dear Father, help us to pray for those who have hurt us. Thank you for shining the light of salvation into the world. Amen.
Prayer Focus: VICTIMS OF IDENTITY THEFT
To read other stories in The Upper Room, click on the following link: http://devotional.upperroom.org/
John 1:5 – The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
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