Archive for category #loveyourenemy
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” [NRSA]
This is a helpful passage to hear at a time of fear, want, and uncertainty. The Hebrews have been lead by Moses out of slavery in Egypt, through the miracle of the parting of the waters of the Red Sea, the find themselves thirsty in a dessert.
One of the key definitions of a dessert is that water is not readily available. The fruit of the land is extremely limited and especially when a multitude of people are traveling together.
Even as spectacular and life changing it must have been to cross the sea, evade the enemy army and find themselves on dry land while their oppressors drown. The daily need for food and drink challenge the best experience of faith. We were just remembering how Jesus had been fasting in the wilderness, a dessert place, having spent forty days and thirty-nine nights in the most defining spiritual experience of his life. At the very moment of dealing with the basic needs of life and death, we are confronted with the temptation to fear and doubt.
We look around today and find ourselves being tested by the effects of a virus.
Healthy humans ‘harbor an average of five viruses’ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282751
It is well established that our bodies possess gut bacteria that is beneficial for health. Now, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, have found that our bodies are also home to an average of five viruses responsible for numerous illnesses, although it is unclear whether they have positive or negative implications for health. Strains of HPV were found in around 75% of participants’ skin samples and 50% of nose samples, while new strains of the virus were found in both skin and nose samples. “Most everyone is familiar with the idea that a normal bacterial flora exists in the body,” says study co-author Dr. Gregory Storch, a virologist and chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the university. “Lots of people have asked whether there is a viral counterpart, and we haven’t had a clear answer. But now we know there is a normal viral flora, and it’s rich and complex.” The findings, which form a part of the Human Microbiome Project funded by the National Institutes of Health, were recently published in the journal BMC Biology. The research team, led by Kristine M. Wylie, PhD, an instructor of pediatrics at the university, collected 706 samples of bodily fluids from 102 healthy adults aged 18-40. The samples were taken from participants’ [skin and all openings.] All participants were closely screened to ensure they had no viral infections, and they were eliminated from the study if they had had been diagnosed with human papillomavirus (HPV) in the past 2 years, or had a form of active genital herpes in the last 2 months. For each sample, the researchers used high-throughput DNA sequencing that enabled them to detect a wide range of viruses. Expect in-depth, science-backed toplines of our best stories every day. Seven families of viruses identified, including HPV and herpesvirus Among 92% of participants, at least one virus was detected, with some participants harboring around 10-15 viruses. On average, each participant harbored five viruses. The researchers say they were surprised to find so many. “We only sampled up to five body sites in each person and would expect to see many more viruses if we had sampled the entire body,” says Wylie. From the samples, the team detected seven families of viruses. These included viruses responsible for non-sexually transmitted herpes – herpesvirus 6 and 7. These viruses were detected among 98% of participants who were sampled from the mouth. Strains of HPV were found in around 75% of skin samples and 50% of nose samples, while new strains of the virus were found in both skin and nose samples. Around 38% of female participants had HPV strains in vagina samples, with many of these harboring strains associated with increased risk of cervical cancer, such as HPV 16 and HPV 18. The researchers also identified adenoviruses – responsible for pneumonia and the common cold – in the majority of samples. It is possible, the researchers note, that the viruses identified were lurking infections from years before. But Wylie says that dormant viruses usually reside in cells rather than bodily fluids, which is where the viruses were found in this study. Commenting on their findings, the team says: “This study is the first to use high-throughput DNA sequencing to describe the diversity of eukaryotic DNA viruses in a large cohort of individuals who were sampled at multiple body sites. This analysis demonstrates that there is a ‘normal viral flora’ in generally healthy, asymptomatic individuals.” They admit that it is unclear as to whether the viruses are beneficial or detrimental to health, but they hypothesize that the viruses may boost the immune system’s response to harmful pathogens in some cases, while increasing the risk of infection in others. “It’s very important to know what viruses are present in a person without causing a problem and what viruses could be responsible for serious illnesses that need medical attention,” says Dr. Storch. “While more research remains, we now have a much clearer picture of the communities of viruses that naturally exist in healthy people.”
That means that at any giving time we have from one to over a dozen virus at work in our bodies; some working to build up our immune systems and others might threaten our life.
How do we know when we are at risk? What are the risks? What does God plan to do with us as a global people in the threat of virus, thirst, or any other struggle that faces our mortal experience?
Look at the context of our present global circumstance:
SARS, AVIAN, SWINE, MERS, EBOLA, ZIKA, EBOLA, CORONA – These are not connected to politics, but when we politicize or look to blame the sin of infection, we will never find a cure, love our neighbor, much less love our enemies. Every epidemic has a tragic effect on those who are not able to survive and those who suffer through the effects of each occurrence. When obsess our time on the fear of virus and illness we are admitting that we have no faith, we have no hope, and we have no trust in God to provide.
Tragically, this virus has become infamous within the brewing global kettle of blame and rage that makes illness and suffering the main story rather than where our strength, hope, and help comes.
Pslam 121:2 [NRSA] I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.
It’s a word that Moses and those afraid and thirsty in the dessert had forgotten since the parting of the sea.
My Help Comes from the Lord
It’s a word of encouragement the world needs to hear and trust. God is working through researchers and healers to deal with symptoms, causes and cures.
God is working through the church to remind the world that God will provide a way through this struggle and all our struggles.
Our Challenge to one another and all those we can influence:
1. Only check the news once a day, and only long enough to find out if the overall plan of prevention has changed.
2. Spend the hours you might devote to news watching and social media reading to prayer, study and Christian fellowship.
3. When you hear or see someone obsessing on the news, call them out to spend their lives with greater care:
a. Live, Love and Share the Good News Christ is offering us everyday. GOD WILL PROVIDE
b. God provides through medicine, through governments, and despite governments.
c. Trust the Voice of God more than voice of those who are selling fear and promising death.
4. There is no diminishing those who have died, those who are suffering from this virus, but know there are
a. MORE PEOPLE are suffering from bad politics and ungodly politician agendas
b. MORE PEOPLE are suffering from heart disease, cancer, poverty, trafficking and self-imposed evils.
c. MORE PEOPLE are suffering from meth, alcohol, and all sorts of substances,
d. MORE PEOPLE are suffering from sin and separation from God and neighbor.
5. THE HOPE AND ANSWER IS THE SAME: God will Provide
LET THE WORLD HEAR YOU SAY THESE WORDS: God will Provide.
In our Text from the Exodus: God says to Moses, “Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” God has a plan, God has a way, God has a process, God is at work behind the scenes, AND God is at work in the People of God, those willing to listen, trust and carry out God’s instructions and message.
Footnote: Moses asks the faith question after the water flows: “Is the Lord among us or not?” This is our word!
You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. [NRSV]
- What is it that someone who is feeling as though they don’t matter need to hear?
- What is it that someone who is feeling unworthy because of poor choices they have made need to hear?
- What is it that someone who feels helpless and vulnerable need to hear?
- What is it that someone who feels broken and worn out from not achieving or completely their work need to hear?
- What is it that someone who is feeling distant from God, with unanswered prayers need to hear?
- What is it that someone who is searching but not finding faith need to hear?
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God [NRSV]
What do I tell someone who is alone, empty, guilty, broken, weary, failing, lost and afraid?
By grace, you are saved through faith, not for what you have done, not done, failed doing or never tried, but by God’s love, God is saving you to be in relationship with God.
What is it that you and I are called to share with a broken and hurting world?
God’s gift for us
God so loves the world that he gave us himself, in Jesus Christ, that we might believe and trust him as the way to find God’s love.
How many people are afraid where you live and work?
All they talk about is how worried, afraid, alone, unworthy, or unhappy they are… all symptoms and signs of not knowing God’s love.
99.9% of those who say that don’t believe in God are also saying they don’t feel or sense God loves them. “How could a God, if there is one, love? And more miraculously, how could God love me?
Look into your own mirror, your own spiritual self: Do you know God loves you?
The correct answer is Yes, because Jesus Christ saves me to prove God’s love for me.
But the question is not what is the correct answer, the question is: “Do you believe this is true for you?”
I know that God loves me and yet I struggle trusting it at times?
It is most clear when I look back at God’s presence in grand mothers, a grand father, a father, teachers, neighbors, church members, authors, theologians, and friends who have revealed God’s love to me, because they have shown me what God’s love is.
Rather than boast in my or your failures, it is essential to focus on the prize, the gift.
God’s love is awesome: For all the reason God should not love me, my behavior, my selfishness, my greed, my pride, my self determination, my hard work, my correct answers, my untruths, my fears, my failures, none of these are the reason that God loves me.
God loves me because I am created of God. Formed of the stuff and creatures of God’s creation. God has never forsaken us and will never forget us. God love is with us.
- This is what the world needs to hear.
- This is what people are dying to know.
- This is why people are fighting and they don’t even realize how far off base they have become.
So what do we do?
Look to verse 10 “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” [NRSV]
Our purpose is to be loved and to show love.
Our purpose is to be in Christ Jesus for the world, that is hurting, afraid, clueless and against us.
Our purpose is determined before we decided, our purpose to learn to love God and God’s people in response.
- God loves us when we were enemies.
- God’s hope, dream and desire is for us to find our belonging and once we are whole our works become the signs for others.
- We love the poor, not to prove our worthiness, but because, before we had Christ, we were totally poor, no matter how rich or poor the world might label us.
- We feed the hungry, not to earn our way, but because our hunger is satisfied in Christ. When we think and are driven my/our worldly worries and fears, we remain malnourished.
- Once we have feasted in the love and power of God’s table our spirits are filled. But we see, hear and know word full of those who hunger for what is right, who trade their own understanding or perspective for what is good in the moment or good in principles, but far from Good in God’s love.
The greatest way to find assurance of our own faith and trust, is to share the gift with others.
I offer that it is not just feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, comforting the sick, healing the broken, forgiving the debt and trespasses, it is when we learn to love our enemies that God’s love and lesson comes full circle and complete.
You can surely find someone in this fellowship this morning who will love you, yet while we are not perfect, I doubt that our enemies are fellow church members.
When we understand and experience love for someone that is not based on what they can do for us, but what we do for God that we understand love.
This is the simple task that is the most difficult of our lives. Loving without expecting reciprocal love.
Typically we say, if I show them love, they will love me back. What if love says, if I show them live, they will know how to love me back, but they might never do that.
This is what makes our task difficult, even with God as our example and our salvation.
What it proves is that that we actually cannot complete this without God’s work.
When we reach the breaking point of our own limitation, we see/know where God’s salvation and love makes us whole.
- So the answer to the question, “Do I love God?” is never enough, I need God’s help.
- So the answer to the question, “Do I love my enemy?” never enough without God’s love.
- So the answer to the question, “Do I need God help?” the answer is Always, even to the end.
God’s joy is to love us.
Christ is the proof and our eternal hope.
Our purpose is to trust God to love and help love the world, including our enemies.
Let’s get to trusting God, because we love God, not just need to be saved. We are saved to love, that ‘s gift.