May 20 - Encouragement to Be With God

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
Praise God.
Praise God for the grass that is beginning to grow and the flowers that are beginning to bloom. This shows that God is continuing to provide for man. Praise God that the temperatures are beginning to rise as this will give heat to the earth, cause the seed to germinate, and provide a harvest in due season. Genesis 8:22
Acknowledge sin.
Confess the sin of presuming that earth is self-sustaining, resulting in infrequent thanksgiving to God. Ask God to help you to be thankful on a daily basis for the bountifulness of his provision for all mankind.

Let's read Luke 6:29-31.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
Yesterday I used the word ‘radical’ to describe what Jesus calls us to be and do; the same word applies today. John Calvin writes of this passage, "We learn from these words how the faithful should have no dealings with vengeance of any kind…. At the same time, they do not cease to commend their own cause to God until He takes vengeance on the reprobate. They desire as far as may be, the evil to return to a sound mind and not to perish, and so they hope for salvation." 
V29. Turn the other cheek.
Jesus gives three examples of how his command to "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you," should work out in life. What is the first of those examples? Note, Jesus is not talking here about a slap on the face. The word used speaks of the jaw rather than the cheek. So, this relates to someone punching you on the jaw. The command of Jesus is not to back off, but to stay engaged with the person. Stay toe to toe. But, not so that you are placed in a good position to strike back, but rather within striking distance for another hit. It sounds like sheer and utter madness. What about the right to defend oneself, either by taking evasive action, i.e., walking away, or meeting like with like, 'An eye for an eye'? The issue of 'An eye for an eye' (Exodus 21:23-25, Leviticus:19-21) is that it relates to the considered ruling of civil authority, and not the potential enraged act of an individual. Jesus is addressing the believer's response to the violence perpetrated on them in a non-war, everyday, personal situation. His point is simple; show that you love your enemy by responding in a way that will call them to question their behaviour. Note, though, the motivation for doing so is entirely different from the world's 'forgive your enemies because nothing will infuriate them more'. Doing as Jesus commands is not to infuriate the person; it is to confront them with the futility and hopelessness of their life before God. This is not an expression of a love that is aimless, nor naive. The love Jesus is talking about is intelligent; it understands life and what is essential to it. It is a purposeful love, a love motivated and directed towards seeing real change in the lives of others. Our Christianity is frequently too weak, too insipid. It lacks the grace-given grit of being different, due to a lack of clarity in our thinking about the eternalness of life. 
V29. The Tunic.
Jesus goes on to talk about giving the person who takes your cloak, your tunic as well. What was the tunic? The cloak was the outer full-length body robe; the tunic was the inner garment worn next to the body. The point is, if they take your jacket or sweater, give them the shirt off your back. The reason for doing so is again to call the person to consider their life without God. What is the probability of it being effective? I don't really want to hazard a guess, but I will. Apart from the grace of God immediately laying hold of their lives, probably 0%. But that's not the point; the point is our obedience to Christ. Our response is a clear indicator of how much we are trusting God, and are living by faith and not by sight. Yes, this exposes us to looking; naive, weak, ridiculous, open to being taken advantage of. All those things are true in the eyes of the world, but not as Christ sees things with his eternal eye. And that is the only perspective that matters, both now and ultimately. There is a real personal blessing should we choose to walk this road, and it has to be a considered choice, it won't just happen. We will dissipate all that pent-up frustration, annoyance, and anger that comes from wanting to, if even gently so, get our own back on someone who is hurting or stealing from either our loved ones or us. Those feelings take so much from us, mentally and emotionally. They can also eat up so much time, and our time is precious. "Look carefully then how we walk, not as unwise but the wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:15-17. Some of the best decisions in life you will make will be to turn the other jaw and to give the shirt off your back, both for the other party and yourself. Believe Jesus; it is neither weak nor naive; it is to be 'manly'-godly.
V30. The one who begs.
What is the difference between the one who strikes or steals, and the one who begs? It is the absence of force on the part of the latter. Since it won't be frustration and possible anger, what is the issue for the believer regarding those who ask something of us and are not in a position to pay it back? Surely, it is lack of concern, of pity, borne of a hardness of attitude. Jesus' command is to give, with the verb meaning to be continuous in our giving. Jesus is not contemplating nor suggesting a one-off gift. He's commanding a perpetual attitude of giving to those who are in need. I am reluctant to put any caveat into this and do so with extreme hesitancy. But, wisdom needs to be invested when giving financial support to those who are in need, solely because of their wanton idleness. Dealing with people who find themselves in such a lifestyle requires proactive, intelligent engagement. 
V31. The often-quoted phrase.
It is interesting to see the number of things which Jesus said which are still part of the fabric of our language today. Albeit that most of them are now expressed in a manner that is far removed from their true meaning. Nonetheless, it does speak to a time when the Word of God was taught and understood in the nation. What is particularly interesting is that the saying existed in a negative form before Jesus transposed it into this positive form. Many cultures had a saying along the lines of, 'what is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour'. In taking this and changing it into the positive statement, “as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them”, Jesus tells us a lot about the goal of his life, namely to restore man to a positive way of thinking and living. The world's mantra is that Christianity has a backward outlook on life and a negative way of expressing it. That is a lie. Christianity is genuinely progressive and positive. Christianity is all about seeing dead men and women made alive. It is all about enabling those alive men and women to become conformed to the perfect image of Jesus Christ, the risen, glorified, Son of God. It is all about those men and women being prepared for their glorious eternal dwelling in heaven. The alternative the world presents is what? Chaff that the wind drives away!

A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 40B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.

Memory Verse. 
'Hiding' the Word of God in your heart will bless you in ways you will never expect.
Ephesians 1:3
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places," 
Truth for the Mind and Heart
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 38 - What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
Answer - At the resurrection, Christ will immediately raise up in glory all believers; he will openly acknowledge and acquit them in the day of judgement, graciously rewarding them according to their works of faith, and they will enter into the full enjoyment of God for all eternity.
This is taken from where you find proof texts.
Thank God.
Thank God that we can, because of his work of grace in our lives, live a life marked by radical positivity. Ask God to help you think through the implications of this for your life. 
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley