When the Enemy Is Too Close to Home

Lesson Three
Text: 
Luke, Chapter Six

My Thoughts:

Something the Lord has laid on my heart in the last few weeks is my relationship with Him. I know I have a relationship with Him. I know who Jesus is, and I know what He came and accomplished on the cross. What I’ve been feeling convicted about as of late is having an intimate relationship with Him.

Something else I’ve been realizing is that an intimate relationship comes with healing. In my case, mending.

The thing about mending is it implies brokenness.
For someone with wounds, coming across the part of scripture that calls us to “love our enemies” can be hard to absorb.

It’s easy for me to love the strangers across the sea I haven’t met. Strangers who call me evil and wish me harm.
It’s easy for me to love the strangers across town, the ones with offensive bumper stickers that roll their eyes when I bow my head.

It’s not easy to love the person who is close to home. The person who told me they hated me.  The one who took from me, falsely accused me, hurt me and abused me.
Sometimes we come across enemies who are a little too close to home. Enemies we actually have to face, right here, right now.

And Jesus goes and says things like “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” (Luke 6:32-33)
It stings a little.
Honestly, it stings a lot. Enough so that we dig into our Bibles to find scripture to “justify” our hardened hearts toward one another, brother and enemy alike.

Then the Lord, my Lord, goes even further.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. ~Luke 6:35-36

He, my God, is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Let’s get real for a moment.

I am the ungrateful.
I am the evil.

It was in sin, He paid the price, drinking the cup of God’s wrath for sin, to provide for me a way out of bondage.
In darkness, He gave me everlasting light.
He is kind. He is merciful.

In my brokenness, instead of slowing down to think about how the One True Living God of All Creation is kind and merciful, I try to find ways to justify myself to Him when I choose to be unkind and unmerciful.

When I choose to be unforgiving.

Forgiveness is part of the mending process. Forgiveness I seek from Him, humbling myself to realize who I am in comparison to who He is.
As well as forgiveness I give others. Forgiving others heals me. Allows me to be kind, merciful, and loving.

Even to the enemy who is close to me.

It doesn’t mean I am a punching bag. It doesn’t mean I twist Grace into something that is perverted, ugly, and unGodly.

What it does mean is that I am kind and loving. I forgive and in the act of forgiving, I suddenly drink deeply the truth and reality of my own forgiveness. It means I recognize who I am in comparison to all He is. In loving my enemies, I begin to know Jesus more intimately.

Because I was an enemy.

And He first loved me.

Prayer

Father, forgive me for my sins. Forgive me for my pride and arrogance in the face of who You are. Father, thank you for sending your son, for providing a way that I can be reconciled to you. Help me Father by the power of your Holy Spirit to forgive others, realizing you have forgiven me. Help me to love others with Your love Father, that I would rely on Your Holy Spirit to guide me into kindness and mercy. Thank you Jesus for Loving Me, for Your kindness to Me. Praise and Glory to you and all that You are.

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In Love & Faith,
RaZella

 

Serving with Intentional Purpose requires The Lonely Place

It’s time to pick back up our study of Luke. I’m going to pick up where we left off, as I feel the Lord has laid some specific things on my heart. One of the things I love most about reading the Bible, is that it truly is a Living Word. Each time I meditate in it, the Lord finds a way to speak something to my heart. I hope you’ll join me in finding that time to be with the Lord so He may speak to your heart as well.

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Lesson Two: Faith at Work
Text: Luke Chapters 4 and 5 (click here to read now)

My Personal Thoughts:

Last year I read the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. One chapter I find myself reflecting on frequently is titled “Balancing Work and Worship“. Some of the notes I took as I read the chapter were…

  • Love for God first, love for others second. Worship and Service. One flows from the other and back again. It is a picture of a balanced, Christ-like life.
  • God wants us doing both, loving Him, loving others. Service is love. Worship is love. It will never be enough to only do one or the other, both is required by God’s commandment. 
  • Balance is found in the flow of our life. Each day may not reflect equal work and worship time, however, over time they equal up and balance each other out. 

In this section of Luke, I see Jesus working. Serving. His work is active, intentional, and purposeful. He is teaching, calling, traveling, and healing. In chapter four we see a “healing spree” take place starting in Capernaum at the synagogue and continuing at Simon’s home. We read “When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.” (Luke 4:40 NIV84)

Jesus was working. Serving. Loving others.  

Sometimes I think we get lost in the command to love others. I know I have.
We feel we don’t volunteer enough of our time, enough of our finances, or enough of our homes. We start seeking various ways we can love others, and over-commit ourselves to loving others. Instead of love it turns into a “to-do” list, a score card, and we find ourselves serving others with a underlying foul mood and critical spirit. We lose the love. We lose the heart of service. In trying to love others we begin to alienate others, judge others, and suddenly we are trying to serve without love and beating our heads against the wall as to why it isn’t working.

As a homemaker, I too frequently forget the call to love others starts at home. My husband, my son, are the “others” that are directly in my path each and every day. On a busy week I can beat myself up “I didn’t do enough to love others” because I didn’t leave home enough. The Lord is helping me see His call to love others starts here and spreads outward.

Loving others is service. It’s work. It means caring about their needs first. Thinking about how to best help them. It uses energy and effort. Time and thought. It is work physically, emotionally, and mentally. Jesus knows this. He knows the work that serving others involves because He came to serve. He came to serve others with absolutely everything He had to offer. He knows the effort and toll such work can take on us, especially when we find ourselves in a season of “marathon loving”.

Which is versus like this one grab my eyes.

 At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. ~Luke 4:42a

As a people person, words such as “solitary” and “lonely” have never appealed to me. Not until I realized just how precious they are with God. Not until I’ve found myself on the brink of collapse because of spiritual exhaustion.  It’s more than the tired sweaty end to a workout or the brain dead feeling after a two hour math test. It’s that feeling deep down, even deeper than your bones, that you just can’t take another step, or another breath, without falling on your knees and crying out to God.
In my personal walk, I’ve come to realize this type of exhaustion comes when I forget the importance of finding a lonely place. A place to worship the Savior. To lean on the Holy Spirit and use His strength to breath in His Word, His Healing, His Resting place. Jesus knew the importance of finding the solitary place, the lonely place, and praying. Worshiping the Father. Talking with the Father. Loving the Father.

How precious those moments must have been. God and Son were in perfect community together, for all time. For Jesus to be here, working, serving, Loving others, how precious and sacred those moments alone with God must have been for Him.

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Some days it’s not long before I already begin to feel drained. A testy teenager. An over-tired husband. A disagreement with a friend. A change in my routine. The longer I go without finding a solitary place, the less I’m able to work with the intentional purpose to love others.

Sometimes the work load will be great. It will require an “all-nighter”. When the sun rises, will I rush to go to bed, or will I take a moment to find the lonely place and withdrawal to worship my Lord? Will I turn to the world to give me rest, through games, TV, or YouTube? Or will I find the solitary place to rest my spirit? To Love God first, so that through Him, I can Love Others to His Glory?

My Personal Application:

Loving others is work. Loving others is a command that starts with my family, and branches out to all the world. Christ served people with intentional purpose, to give Glory to God. I want to serve and love others with that same purpose. To do so, I need to withdrawal to the quiet place. My spirit will only find rest in God, not in the world. If I give up my precious moments to be with God for the distractions of the world, I will lose those moments to worship and Love God first. To be renewed and restored in spirit. Which will result in losing the ability to truly Love others. Loving God and Loving Others. The lonely place is vital to find.

Next Week’s Post will be a though reflection on Luke chapter 6. 

In Love & Faith,
RaZella

Someday He Will Love You More

A few months ago I read a letter from a mother of a young son to her future daughter-in-law. As I read it, my heart broke. The mother was very clear that her future daughter-in-law would know her place, would never interfere between mother and son, and would always be second to her until the day she passed away.

That letter has randomly picked my thoughts since I read it. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like I wanted to write my own letter. So here it is.

Dear Future Daughter-In-Law,

Selfishly, I hope we someday meet. I say selfishly because I want to be a “Grammie” someday. I want to hear the sound of little feet running through the house again. I want to hear giggles and babbling and “Grammie, Grampie, look what I can do!”

That’s only my selfish little reason though. The truth is, I know if my son meets you, falls in love with you, that he will someday love you more. I pray he loves you more. I pray he marries you wanting to provide for you, protect you, and love you with the sacrificial love of Christ. I pray he lifts you up above all other women and provides you Godly wisdom and counsel. I pray he never makes you feel “unworthy”, or “less than” because you are a woman. That instead, he will make you feel like the wonderful creation by God in which you are. A woman. Beautiful. Wonderful. 

I pray in return you will love him more. More than your own parents. More than your friends. More than any children you may have. I pray you will love him with a tender compassionate love. Lifting him above all other men. That you will want to be his helpmate, his partner, his prayer warrior. 

I promise his father and I will continue to do our best to raise him in the way he should go. To teach him compassion and mercy. To teach him his strengths and how to honor God and you with them. To teach him self-control, kindness, patience, and most importantly love. 

I also promise his father and I will continue to learn how to love one another more. To show him God’s design for marriage. Union. Oneness. I pray your parents are doing the same. Teaching you the awe and wonder and beauty of marriage. I pray God’s grace will cover both you and our son for the shortcomings of parents. We will promise to teach him all we can while he is with us, however, we won’t always be perfect. I’m sure he will share stories with you about our imperfections. I pray they are few.

I pray you know the Lord. I pray you know Him and love Him more than my son. I pray my son loves the Lord more than you. I pray the love you both have for our Savior will bind you stronger to one another. Because storms will arise. Pain will come. There will be arguments and hurt feelings and words said you wish you could take back. It happens to us all. Remember, there is forgiveness. We promise to teach him about forgiveness, to teach him to not hold onto grudges, to teach him confession and repentance and reconciliation. We promise to be here for you both. To take no one’s side except for God’s side. To always speak truth to you, pray with you, and share whatever life experience we have with you. Please understand, when we feel you are in error we will honestly and gently and lovingly explain why. Know that we will continue to do the same with our son.

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We will strive to not interfere and respect your decisions if you become parents. If you don’t want your children drinking soda, we promise to not sneak it to them when you aren’t around. We will honor our relationship with you with integrity and trust and love. Our grandchildren will know there are no secrets from mommy or daddy. We will not go out of our way to undermine you or spoil them in ways you disagree with. Although, I selfishly ask you let us spoil them sometimes in ways you approve of, as reward for raising our son. 

Understanding you have parents too, praying that you have parents you are close with and love dearly, we will never expect you to spend every holiday with us. We will ask that we get every other if it’s possible. If distance separates us we promise to not always expect you to come to us. We will come to you as well.  If we all live close enough together we will gladly share holidays as one huge family. We promise to be kind and respectful of your parents. We would enjoy getting to know them and sharing life with them. 

If your parents have already passed on from this life, or if you have pain with them, we promise to be understanding of that. To pray with you about it, to love you, and to welcome you always with open arms. To love you as a daughter. We will never replace your parents and we would never want to, however, we would love to be an addition. We want you to be comfortable enough to call us whenever you have a need. To come and spend evenings of laughter and card games. To take family vacations together. To know you are loved and cherished as our daughter in law. 

We promise to remember your birthday. We promise to help you move when you need to move. To help give you a break by watching the children so you and our son can spend the precious needed time together as husband and wife. I pray the two of you never stop dating. We promise to live out this example for him. 

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I hope you and I can be close friends. Share coffee. Lunches. Trips. Prayers. Studies. Recipes. Dreams. Hopes. Praises. I hope we can enjoy our times together as mother- and daughter-in-law. I hope you never feel threatened by me. I hope you never feel undermined by me. I hope you never feel inferior to me. I promise to never do anything intentional to make you feel that way. I pray our communication with one another will always be open and honest so we can encourage and uplift one another as women. As you and my son create your own family traditions, I hope we can be apart of them as well. We hope you will always be a part of ours. 

I pray the Lord is watching over you right now. Protecting you. Loving you. You may be a young girl. A woman-child. If so, these next few years are hard ones. I remember. We are watching our son go through them. We promise to help him as best we can to navigate these rough waters so he comes out the other side not weighed down by past mistakes. I pray you have someone in your life right now who is doing the same for you. Someone you can come home to and cry on their shoulder when you’ve had a bad day. I pray you have a warm home, a safe place, and that you are learning Jesus is always a safe resting place. I pray you laugh often. I pray you look in the mirror and see the beauty the Lord gave you. That the pressures of the world’s beauty do not hurt you. I pray if these next few years are hard for you, that you will come to know His Grace. I pray if you make some mistakes, you will not lose hope. That no matter what, you are never alone, for you know He is always with you and I pray that He sends His people to always be with you too. 

I don’t know when we’ll meet you. I pray someday we meet you. I pray long healthy happy lives for both you and our son. I pray we come to know you. I pray we watch your father give you away on your wedding day. I pray we sit, probably bawling our eyes out from happiness, watching the look of awe, wonder, and love in our son’s eyes as he takes your hand to be his wife. 

So, until I meet you, whoever or where-ever you may be, I will pray for you. I will pray for you after I meet you. We promise, his father and I, to always pray for you both for as long as we are here. To love you both. To help you both in whatever ways we can. Because someday, he’ll love you more. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That is what will bring the most joy to this mother’s heart, is for my son to love you more. 

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In Love & Faith,
RaZella

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