A note on gratitude and loving your enemies

Following Jesus is a path of gratitude.  Don’t forget to look back at all God has done for you.  Rocky, my husband, was sharing some wisdom with me, telling me it’s important to be thankful for all that God has done already in our lives. He and I both see that God has blessed us with so many spiritual blessings (and other types). Don’t get me wrong – we’ve had our fair share of trials, okay?  Anyway, I consider myself a thankful person; my heart is full of gratitude. Despite that, I admit sometimes I easily start to lose my focus on what God has already done and my focus shifts to the future on what is yet to be done. I am sure I have many friends like this; those who are progress and future-oriented. As soon as I complete a goal, I start another project or goal and only think about that because I view time as a gift not to be wasted. I know productivity is a good trait, but sometimes I need to stop and look back and see all that God has done for us. When I do, I am blown away and humbled mostly at the deep spiritual blessings. It is true that God is good to all people, even those who don’t love Him:

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:35).

What can you be thankful for today that has already happened? How can you show kindness to others today, even those who hate you or will be unthankful for your kindness? There is truly nothing special or noteworthy about loving those who love you. Every human being on the planet is capable of that; even the most evil person. That’s easy. What’s a challenge is loving those who don’t love you and who are not thankful for you. If you do, your character will be like God’s because that’s exactly what He does to every human being on the planet. Even when I didn’t love God or give thanks to Him, when I ignored and rebelled against Him when He was trying to get my attention in many ways (because of His great mercy), He gave to me and was good and gracious to me. Why? Because He is kind and good even to the unthankful. He gives us our breath and even our intellect; the ability to work and make a living, etc. Really, what do we have that wasn’t given to us? There is really no room to boast about anything. Rocky and I are at the point where we both see His hand in our lives and His blessings.  “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10).

Tyndale Life Application Daily Devotion:

“But be sure to fear the LORD and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.”
— 1 Samuel 12:24 NLT

Insight:
Samuel reminded the people to take time to consider what great things God had done for them. Taking time for reflection allows us to focus our attention upon God’s goodness and strengthens our faith. Sometimes we are so progress- and future-oriented that we fail to take time to recall all that God has already done.

Challenge:
Remember what God has done for you so that you may continue your life accompanied with gratitude.

© 2010 by Tyndale House Publishers

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Could your weakness be your strength?

Have weaknesses? Like an illness, maybe? Or a mindset? God is strong in the weakness. God uses the weak and flawed, like Gideon, not the high and mighty. That way, His strength shines through and He gets the applause. He alone is worthy of praise. He does not use the “elite”. He does not need the high and mighty of this world to do His work; an elite troop. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. The Gnostic sects have always claimed elitism and certain privileged, secret knowledge just like the Pharisees. His strength is made perfect in weakness. He uses the weak to lead the strong, not the strong to lead the weak. Also, He blesses the poor in spirit; the broken. The Apostle Paul admitted his weakness. God’s power rested on Him (2 Cor. 12:9). I have personally seen God turn my biggest weakness and sorrow into His strength, and it has become my joy and a witness to His power and goodness.  The following is written by the Bible League International:

When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Gideon had a low opinion of himself and his clan. His assumption was that if someone was to save Israel out of Midian’s hand, then it must be someone of greater status than him and from a stronger clan than his. It never occurred to him that God may have selected him for the task precisely because of his low status and weak clan.

God, however, seems to specialize in selecting what is low and of no account for the accomplishment of His purposes. He selected the Israelites as His chosen people not because they were numerous, but because they were few (Deuteronomy 7:7). He chose David to be King of Israel even though he was the youngest son in his family (I Samuel 16:1-13). The Apostles Peter and John were “unschooled, ordinary men” (Acts 4:13). Many more examples could be added to the list.

The reason why God so often chooses what is low and of no account is so that the chosen will be more reliant on Him and through that reliance His glory will be magnified. God often chooses the foolish, weak, lowly, the despised, and the things that are not so that no one may boast before Him (I Corinthians 1:26-29). If God were to exclusively choose those who are high and mighty, then they might be tempted to boast of their own abilities and take credit for any successes.

If you are confronted today with a calling that seems beyond your status and abilities, then consider Gideon. It is God who makes us able, not we ourselves. Indeed, God declared Gideon to be a “mighty warrior” before he ever accomplished anything.