I hope you had fun with the VBS.
We had a great weekend of putting that Celebration thing to practice with friends Friday and then family on Saturday.
On Sunday I got to go the Mart in Chicago and help Kim select things for Fall and Winter clothing and accessories. I have no pictures to share because we just spent time with our people, but it was a full one.
I did miss being with Russ to attend church and do our Sunday things and I am thankful for online church now. This morning as I walked, I listened to a great sermon about putting the words of Jesus into practice.
It was a little annoying that our pastor seemed to hone in on forgiveness a bit excessively since my morning devotional was actually on the same passage of Scripture.
So let’s take a look at that. And you know I really didn’t think it was annoying, right? I just know when God puts the same verses, topics and opportunities in such a short time span, He is letting me know what this post should be <3
Let’s start with the devotional this morning.
The Scripture verse was from Matthew 7 where Jesus taught that we are not only to love our friends, but we are to love our enemies and we are to pray for them.
In the meditation part of my reading, the author mentioned that our enemies include people who hate us.
I was actually just chatting with a friend about this recently and we were agreeing that not all people who seem to hate or dislike us are people we want to be our enemies. Often we have tried everything to make peace with them and at least be amicable, but to no avail.
I loved that here in my devotional reading, she was affirming that even though we do not want someone to be our enemy, their attitude toward us or a group we belong to may make it seem that we are against one another.
Because of this conflict, we may be tempted to feel “animosity” towards that person or group and God knows that this animosity will make a fertile place in us for a bitter root to spring up.
Thus He tells us to love and pray for those who hate us, dislike us, disdain us or exhibit behavior that is unfriendly, unkind or downright mean.
I looked up “animosity” to get an idea of what that feels like, so I can begin to recognize if someone is making me feel like we are enemies.
Here is the definition:
Animosity – ill will or resentment tending toward active hostility.
A synonym is enmity – deep-seated dislike, or ill will, or a manifestation of such a feeling.
We may not actively do harm or wish harm on someone, but if there is a feeling inside of resentment or lack of love when we see, think of or hear about this person or group of people, then we are having animosity to some degree.
Let’s just say that if, when we see someone or hear something about them, and there is a kind of hard knot in the stomach, heart or mind…that is the fruit of animosity.
And when that happens, God’s word is clear. We must ask for His help to love that one and then we are to pray.
How do we do this?
I once found myself on the wrong end of a whole lot of messy hurt in someone who had been a dear friend. The expression, “if looks could kill” became something I understood well. I did try to apologize for any perceived part in the wounding that I was being held accountable for, but the wound was too deep.
Through the grief, hurt and anger, I was being eaten alive with growing “animosity.” And I knew I had to have God’s help to heal and move on without the friendship.
First, through many hours of prayer, He helped me remember why I had loved this one so much and all the good of our friendship and her as a person.
Then He helped me understand that even though I didn’t see where I had been part of whatever happened, she did and I knew her well enough to know that she believed deeply that I was guilty.
So my first prayers for her were that He would bring out the truth and help her forgive me.
But that didn’t help when we would run into each other and nothing at all had changed. I would find myself in a ball of anxiety, trying to go through the whole mess again and feeling helpless.
So one day, I sat down and I wrote a prayer of blessing for me and our family. I wrote like I was asking for the spiritual and material and physical lottery of the perfect life. Every hope and dream I could think of for us.
And then I started praying that prayer for her.
I prayed it over and over for a long time and one day when I heard a piece of good news that had happened to their family, my first response was joy and celebration for them. I was sad I couldn’t express it, but in the response that rose automatically I knew God had done the work of forgiveness for me.
Time has not healed all wounds, but God has given me a sense of peace and we are not finished until we are taken home, so who knows.
Someday there may be a healing and restoration here on earth, but if not, we will be worshipping side by side in heaven some day because we both love Jesus and received His salvation so we have that to look forward to.
Maybe your enemy doesn’t know Jesus. That might be another prayer line to add to the blessings you are praying over them.
Hope you have a great day and may you walk in peace and joy because your heart is light and aligned with the God who loves you, and your enemies, so much <3