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15 Bible-In-A-Year Reading Plans 

As I have been preparing to launch for our “Read the Bible in 2017“, I have been putting a lot of thought and consideration into which Bible reading plan I wanted to suggest for reading together. The problem is that there are several wonderful options to choose from! Also, what I personally may be drawn to for a daily reading schedule isn’t what everybody else would necessarily enjoy. I’ve finally (FINALLY!) come to the conclusion I will share the best year long plans that I have found, and let you decide which one works best for YOUR daily readings in 2017. I have narrowed it down to plans that are one year long, fairly simple and have a printable list for you to tuck into your Bible and check off each day.

 The Divine Mentor Twice through the New Testament, once through the Old Testament. This goes along with a book I highly recommend called The Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordeiro.

She Reads Truth New Testament, Old Testament, plus one day of psalms each week. 

5 Days a Week Read through the Bible with 5 days a week plus 2 days of rest (or to catch on missed days) I love the flexibility of this plan!

Self Paced Bible Reading Chart If you like to go at your own speed, this minimalistic, yet beautifully designed, is a great way to track your reading over 2017. 

Water for the thirsty Daily readings of New, Old, plus a Psalm or Proverb each day.

Discipleship Journal Reading Plan Four different readings each day add variety. This bible reading plan begins in Genesis, Psalms, Matthew and Acts.

ESV Bible Reading Plan Four daily readings taken from four lists: Psalms and Wisdom Literature, Pentateuch and History of Israel, Chronicles and Prophets, and Gospels and Epistles.

Chronological Order Read through the entire Bible in the order the events happened. 

Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan Read the New Testament and Psalms twice and the Old Testament once.

Daily Immersion A selection from 7 different parts of the Bible for 7 days of the week. Separated into Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. 

NKJV Bible Reading Plan Read through the Bible in a year with morning and evening reading selections.

American Bible – Through The Bible Stories From Genesis to Revelation in short story like chunks of the Bible.

Bible Unity Reading Plan Chronologically placed but with extra time in the NT, psalms and proverbs. Minimal page flipping (usually 2 readings each day), plus extra make up days. 

Eat This Book (Blackhawk Church) Following aspects of the traditional Jewish order in the Old Testament, this Eat This Book reading plan offers a sustainable reading pace. Each day, you’ll explore an average of four chapters, and you’ll close your time in prayer by reading a Psalm. 

BONUS: (highly recommended addition!) Want to read with your kids in a plan that’s especially targeted for them? Download the Kid’s Plan (Eat This Book)

Whichever plan YOU choose on following for your year in the Bible with JCM (Jessica Campbell Ministries), I highly encourage you to devote specific time each day to your bible readings. Try to set aside 30-45 minutes each day that you can keep consistent for yourself. (If that’s just not doable, even five minutes a day will change your day!). For me (right now) that is early morning with a big (BIGGGGGG) cup of coffee and some worship music..and a lot of prayers to get out of bed. However, in years past my study time has varied from late night to daily naptime. Whatever time you decide works best for you, be thoughtful in prioritizing your time. I will say, the absolute best and most fruitful time has been since I have added my 5am wake up call to meet with God. I am NOT a morning person….. so that’s all Him! So, if you’re praying and you hear God saying “give up your snooze button”, trust me, it will be worth it! Whatever the case, choose a time that works for you and pray to be able to prioritize it above the next item on your checklist. Remember: time spent in God’s Word is never wasted nor regretted! 

 I’d also love to encourage you to read your Bible purposefully and consider to SOAP journal with us this year. Just reading through the Bible is wonderful (In theory; I’ve actually not ever read through in one year, ever! I’ve always done topical or book bible studies. I’m sharing my first journey around the sun in the Word with all of YOU!!). Adding intention with journaling will record your year, prayers and thoughts adds a way to look at everything God will show you in 2017! I HAVE been a student of SOAP journaling and prayer journaling and can testify it is a phenomenal way to grow your spiritual journey and faith.

A few more things as we preparing for 2017:

1: Be sure to Follow FIRST on Facebook and share your personal verses each day with us as we share this journey together! 

2: While the GOAL is to read through our Bibles “in a year”, the biggest goal is learning the discipline of daily time with Jesus and in God’s Word. Life happens and days may be missed… don’t let Satan get you overwhelmed and ready to quit! (YES, Satan will be trying his hardest to distract, discourage and disengage you from your biggest weapon against him). This will be a year filled with GRACE! While many of these bible reading plans have days to catch up, I will strongly encourage you to jump into whatever day is on your reading checklist– don’t try to overwhelm yourself if you “fall behind”… read the day you’re on and move on. If you have time to read more, that’s even better- and totally not required! Also, you do not need to start on January first- if you’re just reading this for the first time and it’s well passed January, just jump in today!! The best time to start reading the Bible IS TODAY!

3. Invite your friends! The best way to have some encouragement and accountability is to have some sisters (or brothers) right next to you in this journey.

So, which Reading Plan will you choose? I’m still deciding on that! Comment below with what your decision is and what drew you to it, I’d love to hear! 
 

 

 

A Prayer For Grace (Morgan Harper Nichols)

If I could make just one requestThat would mark all the days I have left

I’d rather not be known for treasures and fame

Or trophies and accolades I know will fade
Instead I would rather be known

By the kindness and love that I show

To be known for patience and long suffering

A giver of life by the words that I speak
So with every breath You give to breathe

I pray it’s Your glory that they see

And of all the words this world could say

May they say I was full of grace
I’ll be the first to confess

I’m not always found at my best

But Lord be my strength in those moments I’m weak

And I’ll keep on giving the grace I’ve received
So with every breath You give to breathe

I pray it’s Your glory that they see

And of all the words this world could say

May they say I am full of grace
And finally when I see Your face

And I’ve reached the end of my race

I don’t want to be known for finishing strong

But as someone that Your grace carried all along
So with every breath You give to breathe

I pray it’s Your glory that they see

And of all the words this world could say

May they say I am full of grace

May they say I am full of grace
Full of grace

I wanna be full of grace

Enter to Win!

I’ve been thinking of a really fun way to spread the word about THE WORD! Yes, I’m talking about The Bible. 

Have you ever set a goal to read through the entire Bible, perfectly, without one missed single moment? End to end January 1 – December 31? 

Yeah, me too. 

That’s not going to happen without some imperfection thrown in there. That’s called LIFE! 😀 So, I’ve actually been reading through with lots of friends and I’m learning a lot about grace. 

We can work on getting into the word every day, brush off and pick up when we miss some days and keep meeting with God. This Bible is perfect for that! With the days broken down into bite size pieces and devotionals to go along, it’s the perfect way to jump in. 

So I’m giving one away! You can enter here

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I’ve been thinking of a really fun way to spread the word about THE WORD! Yes, I’m talking about The Bible.

Have you ever set a goal to read through the entire Bible, perfectly, without one missed single moment? End to end January 1 – December 31?

Yeah, me too.

That’s not going to happen without some imperfection thrown in there. That’s called LIFE! 😀 So, I’ve actually been reading through with lots of friends and I’m learning a lot about grace.

We can work on getting into the word every day, brush off and pick up when we miss some days and keep meeting with God. This Bible is perfect for that! With the days broken down into bite size pieces and devotionals to go along, it’s the perfect way to jump in.

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American Idols.

• 1 Chronicle 16

• Psalm 106

• Matthew 19
Not all idols look unfaithful to the world, but all idols will cause a stumbling block in faith. 
Psalm 106:36

They worshiped their idols which led to their downfall. 

In Psalm, their idols were pagan and they even sacrificed their children. 
Vs 37 goes on to say “They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons. 38 They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters. By sacrificing to the idols of Canaan, they polluted the man’s with murder”

Very recognizable as a major idol! We read this and we are disgusted and filled with horror. What an awful idol! Why would anybody consider going forward with this?

However, this is still happening even today here in America. Let me explain, and just consider my point of view. 

As a nation, worship the idol of convenience, ideal families and perfect timing and there is blood shed. Innocent blood is shed daily as our society accepts the freedom to choose abortion. Babies, our sons and daughters, are sacrificed. I am not saying this to condemn anybody, but to show you there are many kinds of idols. 

To many, abortion seems to be a horrendous sin, worse than any other kind. But to God, sin is sin. An idol is an idol. 

Read on to see another idol, may I suggest that God views it to be just as ugly, but it is much more commonly embraced and even encouraged in some of society’s churches. 

Matthew 19:21-22

Jesus told him, “if you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me. 

But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 

In Matthew, the young man seems to choose his wealth over following Jesus. He is sad for he had many possessions. Worshiping the idol of wealth and possessions is the same in the eyes of our God who tells us to put Him first. Wealth is worshipped in America on many levels. We worship a little g god of perusing our dreams, getting the bigger house and the next promotion. Why is that accepted?
So, I share these two instances and encourage you to read these chapters in context for yourself. 

The point of today is to be still and ask God, what idols do I have? What am I putting before you? 

It may not be obvious to us. Not all sin is blatantly evil to our own eyes, but God will show our hearts where we need to change. 

God, 

Reveal my idols and give me strength to remove them and keep you as my One True God. 

Help me to recognize a prideful heart and any other type of idol that I may fall into the trap of. 

Help me to put you first, help me to purify my heart. 

In Jesus name,

Amen 

Satan, Society & Sinful Hearts

Happy May Day! 
• 1 Chronicle 14-15

• Psalm 132

• Matthew 18

Matthew 18:33 NLT

Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you? 

Observation

The story of the unforgiving debtor:

(My own recap)

A man owed his master more than a million dollars. His master was going to sell him & his family to pay his debt. The man begged to have his master be patient with him, so he may pay him back. The master had pity on him & forgave his entire (very large) debt. 

The man who was forgiven then went to his servant who owed him only a few thousand dollars. He demanded to be paid back immediately. When his asked for a little more time, he denied it and threw him in jail. When the debtor’s master realized he had done such a thing to his own servant after being forgiven, he became angry. He threw the servant in prison to be tortured until he paid his entire debt (which likely was never). Matthew 18:35 reminds us, “what’s what my Heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart”. 

I want to suggest that society often conveys to us that we can hold power by holding unforgiveness. We can have the upper hand with a grudge. We can make others (sometimes those we love), work for forgiveness, that perhaps it’s something they need to earn. On the contrast, God’s word is quite vivid about this topic. 

Forgive to be forgiven. 

We are forgiven of much, we need to forgive even more of others. We see a steep warning more than once to forgive others. Satan, society and our sinful hearts make it tempting and desirable to hold hostage unforgiveness, grow grudges and hate and makes it feel even like a reward. However, it grows bitterness in our hearts, and it is a major sin. How can we forgive others? We need to pray for help. Sometimes the only possible way to forgive is to do so with the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember, forgiveness isn’t recognizing what somebody did wasn’t wrong, it’s releasing ourselves from holding hate towards them and embracing grace that’s been bestowed upon us and showing it to others. 

Dear God, 

Satan makes me feel like unforgiveness, hate and grudges are a reward. Remind me they’re anything but that, they are a punishment to my own soul. Soften my heart and help me to realize the debt of my own sin, that is much more than I recognize, and let me show that mercy to others. Also keep me humble, don’t let my heart become prideful or arrogant because I have forgiven others. I have no room in my soul for pride: forgiveness is not something I have earned. 

Lord help me to walk through each day as a reflection of you. Forgive me when I am hateful. If I am holding anything against someone in my heart, please reveal it to me and help me forgive them immediately. 

Thank you God, 

In Jesus Name,

Amen 

Psalm 139

This was in my reading plan yesterday, and the whole psalm is just too wonderful not to ponder again! I encourage you to open your own Bible today and soak it up. This is the New Living Translation. What are you reading from? I’d love to know. 

Psalm 139

Psalm 139

For the choir director: A psalm of David.


1 O Lord, you have examined my heart

    and know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up.

    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

3 You see me when I travel

    and when I rest at home.

    You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say

    even before I say it, Lord.

5 You go before me and follow me.

    You place your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

    too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!

    I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;

    if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning,

    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

    and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me

    and the light around me to become night—

12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

    Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born.

    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out

    before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.

    They cannot be numbered!

18 I can’t even count them;

    they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up,

    you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!

    Get out of my life, you murderers!

20 They blaspheme you;

    your enemies misuse your name.

21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?

    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?

22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,

    for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 Point out anything in me that offends you,

    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Is your Storm > Faith?

Yes, you read that right. The storm is often greater than our faith. Especially when we are brand new to having faith.  That’s the awful truth and reality of life and all that we go through. We know in our hearts that God is good and trustworthy, but when we look up and realize the intensity of the waves and the wind, fear can strike us and paralyze us. The more we grow in our maturity of faith, the goal would be to have faith unshakable. Trust that conquers all storms. But we don’t start there. It’s a trait given to us only by the Holy Spirit. It is not in our nature to go through storms without fear. We first have to know God and His character, and then we can grow our trust. 

Today in my reading plan:

• 2 Samuel 1

• Psalm 140

• Matthew 14

{{ By the way, It’s always exciting to get to a new book in the OT. I’ve never read this far. So I am really thankful for a lot of grace this year as I journey through the Bible. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s not meant to be. If you’re ready to read the Bible every day, join our Year Of Grace 2017 Bible Reading Group }}. 

Today my verse is Matthew 14:31, however, I feel I need to share the context. So, here’s the context. 

Matthew 14:14-33 ESV

(English Standard Version)

14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Wow. So that’s a lot to take in. Let’s observe. Keep in mind this is immediately after Jesus has been told John the Baptist had been headed (v 1-13). 

• Jesus heals the sick & shows compassion 

• Jesus feeds the 5,000 using only a few loaves of bread and a few fish!!! 

• The disciples leave on the boat 

• Jesus sends the crowd home after a day of healing and miracles, then he goes to pray by himself. 

• A mighty storm brews while Jesus’s disciples are at sea, so Jesus walks out to the boat during the storm!!! 

The disciples are afraid, thinking Jesus is a ghost, Jesus responds “do not be afraid”. 

• Peter needs proof, so Jesus tells him to walk out to Him. 

• Peter walks out towards Jesus, on the water, but he realizes how terrible the storm is, sees the wind, becomes afraid and begins to sink. 

• Jesus asks why Peter doubted? “Oh you of little faith”

• The disciples (Finally??!!!) realize Jesus is the Son of God and they worship Him. 

A: Application 

Why did Peter doubt that Jesus would keep him safe? He had literally just that day witness Jesus making the miracle of feeding more than 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread and fish!! Plus, Jesus healed the sick! My goodness, we really can pick Peter apart here. However, we can really relate to this if we stop and think. We are so much like Peter.

How many times does God answer prayer and the very next “storm” we encounter, we completely forget God’s faithfulness?? 

Can you imagine Jesus speaking to you, “oh you of little faith, why did you doubt me”. OUCH. And yet, we all know there have been times where we saw the storm, became afraid, lost our sight and sank!! So, how do we get through the storms of life and assure our faith > the storm? We keep our eyes focused on Jesus, we keep walking, we don’t focus on the storm- we focus on our Savior.

There’s no getting around the fact that life is difficult. We have hardships, disease, death, loss, uncertainty.. and the list goes on and on. 

We can sink in the paralyzingly fear of the unknown, or we can walk with Jesus and keep our eyes focused on Him. 

What does this look like? It may look a little different for each of us, but there are some core concepts. 

• Prayer & Daily time with God

• Bible study

• Scripture Memorization

• Fellowship with other Christians 

• Following the love actions of Christ (serving, sharing, giving, etc) 

Ask God to help you grow your faith and make it solid. Be prepared for battle, Satan will do whatever he can to deter us from the path and faith life God has for us. Satan loves to fill us with fear. Remember that true love casts out all fear! (1 John 4:18) 

Dear God,

Please forgive us when we take our eyes off you and focus on the storm. We are more reactive to fear than the Word and Promises of God more times than we’d like to confess. Forgive our little faith and doubts. 

Grow our faith. Help us to become disciplined in walking with you. Help us to cling to you and reject fear. Lead us and compell us to follow. 

Let our faith be something that others can see and wonder how we can go through life storms and not be shaken. Give us opportunities to share YOUR HOPE. You are the hope of the world. 

Thank you God, 

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

April 22nd, 2017:Memorize Psalm 63

If you love music and want to memorize the Psalms, the Christian band Shane and Shane has put the Psalms to beautiful music. Open your Bible to Psalm 63. (The translations may be slightly different, but the melody is fixating). 

Listen here to Psalm 63. 

Psalm 63

O God You’re my God I seek YouO my soul it longs for You
my flesh faints for You in this land

this dry land where there is no drink

I’ve looked upon You in this place

be holding your power and glory, Lord
Because Your love is better than life is

I will praise You as long as I’m alive

and in the face of precious Jesus

O my soul will be satisfied

O God You’re my God I seek You

O my soul it longs for You

my flesh faints for You in this land

this dry land where there is no drink

I’ve looked upon You in this place

be holding your power and glory, Lord
You have been my help

in the shadow of Your wings

I’ll sing for joy
You have been my help

in the shadow of Your wings

I’ll sing

I’ll sing
Because Your love is better than life is

I will praise You as long as I’m alive

and in the face of precious Jesus

O my soul will be satisfied

Prayer & Grace

•1 Samuel 23

• Psalm 31 & 54

• Matthew 7

Matthew 7:29

When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, for He taught with real authority- quite unlike their teachers of religious law.


Jesus has just finished teaching the sermon on the mount and has given a lot of commands, but in a totally new way. See Matthew 5:1-7:29

He has taught on:

  • The Beatitudes
  • The law
  • Anger
  • Adultery 
  • Divorce 
  • Vows
  • Revenge
  • Loving your enemy
  • Giving to the needy
  • Prayer 
  • Fasting
  • Money & posessions
  • Worry
  • Judging others
  • Effective prayer
  • Wisdom 
  • The golden rule
  • The narrow gate
  • A tree and it’s fruit
  • True disciples
  • Solid foundation

Wow. The crowds are amazed! Jesus is teaching with real authority. He is quoting scripture, but not reading word for word. He is giving new commands- being radical, once again. What they thought they understand, perhaps has been turned upside down. Jesus began by teaching only his disciples, but crowds had come to the mountain side as well. Unlike the teachers of the reiguous law, whose authority only derived from quoting scripture or previous teachings of other scholars, Jesus taught with direct authority. His teaching was based on his own authority as the messiah. (7:28-29 footnotes from NLT Study Bible)

So, here we see Jesus’s teachings. Some of them I read and I think to myself, wow, that’s great theory but can I really do that? Maybe I’m the only one who has thought that, or maybe you can relate. 

Love your enemy. Don’t judge. Always give to the needy. Keep your word. Don’t sin in anger. Keep your thoughts pure… on and on Jesus goes with His teachings. It’s a high bar that Jesus has set. And then I remember two things. 

  1. Any fear is not from God. If I am afraid to step out in faith, it’s not because God has let me hold that fear. It could be my sinful nature but also could be the enemy trying to hold me back from doing God’s will. So, I need to pray to be bold… not fearless, necessarily, I can take steps while being afraid but obedient. The fear will go away. “Faith it til you make it” may need be applied here!
  2. God has given us His Holy Spirit. We can do these things because He has given us the power. It is not in our own will or flesh. Prayer, prayer, prayer. Ask for guidance. Ask for anointing. Ask for grace. Ask for forgiveness. Keep on asking and God will give us all we need to accomplish His will. 

We aren’t designed to be perfect, but we are designed to be obedient. Let’s not abuse grace. Jesus has given us these things to learn and apply, and He’s also given us the Spirit to have the power to put it all into action. God’s also given us grace when we fail in these areas. So let’s start the day by asking for God’s guidance, for our boldness and for more grace as we go through each day. 

Dear God,

Thank you. Thank you for these holy words. Thank you for showing us what Jesus taught. Thank you for helping our hearts understand. 

God, I pray you meet our fears and failures with grace and give us boldness to do your will. When the world sees what you ask and calls it difficult or crazy, let us be bold for you. Let us be obedient. Lord, you give us grace but we don’t want to abuse it. We want to be obedient to You! Lead us. Gently nudge us. Perhaps shove us into your will if it’s what we need. God, we hold too tightly to this world. Help us to have open hands and open hearts. Rid us of our pride and our jusgemental hearts. Purify our purposes and goals to match yours. Let us show the world YOUR love, in a radical way, like Jesus did. 

Oh God, we are yours. Let us act like it. 

In Jesus’ name,

Amen


Loving The Difficult Ones

Matthew chapter 5 has such a goldmine of words of Jesus. It’s really difficult to choose one small section to share what’s been spoken to my heart. That’s the awesome thing about SOAP journaling with a group: everybody will be given a message that will slightly differ. If you ever get the chance to read the Bible together with friends, please do. It’s such an awesome experience! 

So, today I was drawn to the entire chapter of Matthew 5… it was in my reading plan for today. However, I try to focus in on one verse and one smaller section. So today was Matthew 5:44. In order to share in the context, I’ll share 5:43-48.

Matthew 5:43-48

Matthew 5:43-48New Living Translation (NLT)

Teaching about Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[a] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies![b] Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,[c] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Okay, so that’s a lot to take in! Jesus never sets the bar and leaves it there. He sets the bar and then raises it higher. The great news is that we have been given the power of he Holy Spirit to do these things that Jesus tells us to do. 

• Love your enemies 

• Pray for those who persecute you

• Imitate God in the way He loves 

God gives to both evil and good. It’s easy for us to only love those who are lovely, good to us, and easy to love. However, everybody can do that! Even the corrupt and evil ones in the world love their family and lovely people around them. Show your love to those who are deemed unlovable, difficult, evil to you and hate you. Have you ever noticed you can stop someone in their tracks just by showing unexpected kindness? What a way to show the love of Jesus… just by being kind and loving when it’s least expected! Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us. Anyone who is against us? Pray for THEM?! And that doesn’t mean pray for them to go away. Pray for them in a sincere way… wow. That is difficult. We know with God’s help, we can genuinely learn to do this, however unappealing it is to our sinful heart.

Oh God in Heaven, 

You’ve given us Your Word and the words of Jesus. Please don’t let us read and forget. Help us to change and follow You. Let our hearts be softened. We are so wired to hate, seek revenge and harden our hearts to forgiveness. Let us be bold and different and love those who hate us, betray us, and seek vengeance towards us. Let us love those who the world has said is unlovable or unworthy. We can only do this with the help of the Holy Spirit, who you’ve given to those who know Christ as their savior. You haven’t left us without a helper, and for that we thank you! 

God, days can be so difficult. Let us show kindness and love when it’s least expected. Help us to think before we speak or act. Change our rotten hearts into softened reflections of Christ’s heart for the world. Let us remember we love only because YOU loved first.

Thank you for this day and be with those who are going through difficult times that can set hate into their hearts. Let them run to You, God. 

In Jesus’ name we pray, 

Amen

Footnotes:


5:43 Lev 19:18.

5:44 Some manuscripts add Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Compare Luke 6:27-28.

5:47 Greek your brothers.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.