“Love your enemies … hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great … He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful … Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you … For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:35-38).
According to Jesus, an enemy is someone who has cursed you, hated you, or persecuted you (see Matthew 5:44). By his definition, we have enemies not only in the world, but at times in the church. Paul said, “Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another” (Colossians 3:12-13).
Bearing with (forbearing) and forgiving are two different issues. Forbearing means ceasing from all acts and thoughts of revenge. It says, “Don’t take matters into your own hands. Instead, endure the hurt. Lay the matter down and leave it alone.”
In addition to forbearing, we must forgive from the heart. This encompasses two other commands: loving your enemies and praying for them. Jesus never said the work of forgiving would be easy. When he commanded, “Love your enemies,” the Greek word for “love” doesn’t mean affection but “moral understanding.” Simply put, forgiving someone isn’t a matter of stirring up human affection; rather, it means making a moral decision to remove hatred from our hearts.
When Saul was pursuing David with intent to kill him, David had an opportunity for easy revenge when he found his pursuer asleep in a cave in which David himself was hiding. David’s men urged him, “This is God’s doing! He has delivered Saul into your hand so kill him now and avenge yourself.” But David would not; instead, he cut off a piece of Saul’s garment so he could later prove he could have killed him.
Such wise actions are God’s way of putting our enemies to shame. This was the case when David showed Saul the piece of his garment. “Then Saul said to David, ‘You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil’” (1 Samuel 24:17). Because of David’s actions, Saul’s bitter heart toward him melted.
That is the power of forgiveness — it puts hateful enemies to shame, because the human heart can’t understand such a purely loving response.
“A bruised reed He will not break” (Isaiah 42:3).
A reed is a tall stalk or plant with a hollow stem, usually found in marshy areas or near a supply of water. It’s a tender plant, so it bends easily when high winds or swift waters strike. Yet the reed can only bend so far before it finally breaks and is carried away with the flood.
Like a reed in calm weather, America once stood proud and tall, full of purpose and promise. Our entire society honored God, and the Bible was held up as the standard for our laws and judicial system.
Yet, in our prosperity, we became like ancient Israel: proud and ungrateful. We have fallen a long way in a short time as God has been pushed out of our court systems, out of our schools, his name mocked and ridiculed. Our society has totally lost its moral compass and as a result, the America that once stood tall is now crippled, like a bruised reed.
If we got what we deserved, America would be in ruins, devastated by anarchy. But Isaiah says our tender Jesus would not break a bruised reed. Our Savior came into a society plagued by hypocrisy and rampant with sin. He wept over Jerusalem, prophesying that its house would become desolate. Yet he gave that society seventy more years of gospel preaching. Those years were filled with Spirit-anointed witnesses performing miracles, preaching hope and repentance, and issuing a powerful call to the kingdom. Jesus simply would not break the bruised reed that Israel had become.
Consider the Lord’s tenderness toward his own people. “Great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all” (Matthew 12:15). The word “bruised” has a number of definitions: hurt, crushed by unfulfilled expectations. Many of God’s people today need a word about our Savior’s tender mercy because they have become bruised reeds.
Beloved, this Christian walk is warfare. It means battles, weariness, wounds, and facing a ferocious enemy who is out to destroy you. It doesn’t matter how bruised you are, how bent down by your flood of testing. God has made you this incredible promise: “You will not be broken. I won’t allow your flame to go out. Your faith will be not be quenched.”
Here is your word of deliverance: Rise up and trust! The time has come for you to believe Jesus is with you in your storm and he will give you the strength to endure it.
Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, he instructed his disciples, “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus’ message was clear: “Wait on the Spirit!”
Most of us need a lot of work when it comes to the discipline of waiting. The more we rush to accomplish things for God in our flesh, the more his power drains out of us. This happened in the Old Testament over and over again. Israel was always moving ahead of God, frustrating his plans for them and robbing him of the glory he deserved as their faithful deliverer. We have the same tendency today. Our flesh is simply inclined to move ahead of the Lord.
Elijah knew what it meant to wait on the Lord. “The word of the Lord came to [Elijah], saying, ‘Hide yourself’” (1 Kings 17:2-3). These are some of the hardest words any follower of Jesus can hear. It’s the equivalent of Jesus telling his disciples, “Wait.” For the disciples, waiting was a matter of weeks (see Luke 24:49). But for Elijah, it was three years. That was the remaining length of the famine Israel endured after God spoke to him.
Imagine how hard that period was for Elijah. He had a word from God burning in his heart, but he was commanded to stay silent for three long years. Once those years passed, however, God told Elijah, “Go, present yourself … and I will send rain upon the earth” (1 Kings 18:1).
Today, some of us “present ourselves” before God’s appointed time. We end up spinning our wheels, tiring ourselves, becoming weary in doing God’s work. But, friend, the only power we will ever have for God’s work will come from time spent in prayer.
Waiting is a painful experience, often filled with boredom and sighing. For the disciples, however, waiting was anything but boring because they had Jesus’ word of promise and it made all the difference! When the moment comes for us to “present ourselves,” God will endue us with his power. What an awesome moment that will be!
In the Scriptures, God reveals his nature to us through his names. In Genesis he reveals himself as Elohim, the transcendent Creator worthy to receive worship. In Isaiah, he reveals himself as Emmanuel, God with us —showing his great love for us by stooping down and meeting us.
When God asked Moses to lead his people out of bondage, he gave him a fresh revelation of one of his names to equip him, to strengthen him. “Then Moses said to God, ‘Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they say to me, “What is His name?” what shall I say to them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’” (Exodus 3:13-14).
No matter what you are facing, no matter what you are carrying in your life at this moment, God is the I Am. He is not the I once was or I may be someday. No, he is your Lord, your God, your I Am — now. The Scriptures always refer to God in the present because we have yesterdays and tomorrow, but God doesn’t have a yesterday or tomorrow. God is always the now God, the ever-present Father.
Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your ways, O Lord, and I will walk in truth and unite my heart to honor your name.” What a prayer that says, “Lord, bring my heart to a place of never living in vain. I want my life to hallow your name. I want my testimony, my words to hallow your name. I want the truth, the joy, my trueness and my character to hallow your name. Hallowed be your name in my life!”
Jesus the Messiah is our hope, our peace, our joy unspeakable and full of glory. He is our rock and our prophet, our high priest and our redeemer, the Son of Man, the Son of the Most High God. Receive God’s peace today; receive freedom from anxiety, freedom from fear — and worship the powerful name of Jesus!
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
“So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night” (Numbers 9:16).
In Numbers 9 we read of a cloud that came down and covered the tabernacle in the wilderness. This cloud represented God’s constant presence with his people, and for us today, the cloud serves as a type of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. At night, the cloud over the tabernacle became a pillar of fire, a warm glow in a dark place.
The children of Israel always followed this supernatural cloud, however it directed them. When it rose above the tabernacle, the people pulled up stakes and followed it. And wherever the cloud stopped, the people also stopped and pitched their tents (see 9:18-19).
Another cloud descended from heaven centuries later, at the Upper Room in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit — the same Spirit who had hovered over the wilderness tabernacle — came down and hovered over some hundred and twenty worshipers who had gathered in the Upper Room after Jesus’ death. This cloud came down into the very room where people sat, and it dwelled upon the heads of the people as cloven tongues of fire (see Acts 2:3).
We who love Jesus today also have a cloud to follow. We may be filled with the Holy Spirit but we still have to commit to taking orders from him. If we don’t wait for his direction in all things, we simply aren’t walking in the Spirit. Paul’s instructions make this distinction clear: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
The meaning of Paul’s phrase regarding walking in the Spirit means: “Just say yes!” “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). So, according to Paul, walking in the Spirit begins when we give a confident, intractable “divine yes” to all of God’s promises. It is saying, “Father, I have read your promises, and I say yes to all of them. I believe your word to me.”
God will lead you into all truth, guiding you where he wants you to go and showing you things he wants you to know. Just say yes to him today!