Prayer Psalm: 33
Prayer Point: God is not only our Creator, he is actively involved in our world. Pray today that we will not fear men or terrorists or armies or politicians. Pray that will fear God instead and that we will make him our source of security, not the power of our armies nor the size of our bank accounts.
The Jews of Jesus’ day certainly knew what it meant to have enemies. They lived under the cruel Roman occupation and they despised them for it. What does Jesus teach us about how to respond to enemies?
Love,for Jesus, is not an emotional feeling of affection, but an act of the will, a decision to act in the best interests of the other. What does it mean to love those who are against us? What do we do with people who ask us for things or worse take things from us? What do you think we would have to believe about God in order to follow these teachings? Why is it not good enough for followers of Jesus to love those who love them back or give only to those who repay us?
What Jesus means by “sons of the Most High” is that when we love our enemies and give without expecting anything back we take on the family resemblance of our Father in heaven. Like Father, like son and daughter.
Paul has been speaking in his own defense to a crowd that had just tried to kill him, for they had mistakenly believed that he had slipped a Gentile into the Temple in defiance of Jewish Law. He tells them his story of becoming a follower of Jesus and so far they have listened quietly. That is now about to change.
What part of Paul’s story sends the crowds into a frenzy? The Roman soldiers drag Paul back into the barracks and prepare to beat him for inciting a riot. How does Paul stop the soldiers in their tracks? How has God orchestrated all of this? The Commander had purchased his Roman’s citizenship which afforded him the protection of Roman Law and the right to due process. Paul on the other hand was born a Roman citizen, and that was a greater honor still. Do you see how God used every detail of Paul’s life, even those before Paul knew Jesus, to serve his purposes?
Hosea 11:1-9 – “When Israel was a Child”
What is going on in the opening verses (11:1-4) of Chapter 11? (It appears that Israel never realized how much the LORD had been present among them. He had even delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Every step of the way was the LORD by their side. Israel’s complaint had always been that they could not “see” their God as the nations around them could see theirs. So Israel strayed and followed (continually) other gods. They never appreciated all that the LORD had done for them.)
In verses 11:5-7 why will Assyria (aka Egypt) rule over Israel? (Because Israel refuses to repent (i.e. “return to Egypt”) will Assyria rule over them. “My people are determined to turn from me.” (Hosea 11:7 NIV))
“How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim?” (Hosea 11:8b NIV) To what does this refer? (Admah and Zeboiim were two cities which the Lord had completely destroyed shortly before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (and for pretty much the same reasons). The reason: “My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.” (Hosea 11:8b NIV))
Why will God not completely destroy Israel? (Many centuries before the Lord had made a covenant with, oh let’s see, nearly everyone, that he would make Israel like the stars in the heavens or like the sand on the seashore for multitude. While it is justice to punish Israel for its sins, God is also merciful: “For I am God, and not man – the Holy one among you. I will not come in wrath.” (Hosea 11:9b NIV))