Morning, July 17
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Bible League: Living His Word
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven."

Jesus' commands in our verses for today are not mere quirks of Christian teaching. Even though they seem counterintuitive in the extreme, they arise from the central core of the Christian faith. Even though we may find it easy to overlook them, they are part and parcel of the Christian walk. Jesus himself left us an example. He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). If the pioneer and perfecter of the faith obeyed these commands, then it is incumbent upon us to obey them as well.

Jesus' commands arise from the central core of the Christian faith because they presuppose one of its central teachings. The Apostle Paul, for example, expressed it this way: "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). The only reason we are not on the side of the enemies who persecute us, including any Christians who do not treat us well, is due to the gift of God's grace. In and of ourselves we are not superior to them in any way and we do not, therefore, have the right to hate them. Indeed, "There but for the grace of God go I."

Loving and praying for our enemies does not mean that we must reduce ourselves to mere doormats and it does not mean that we may not make use of whatever remedies there are against the forays of those who attack us. Jesus did not unleash the twelve legions of angels because it was unethical to do so, but because he had a prophetic purpose to fulfill (Matthew 26:52-54). Loving and praying for our enemies does mean, however, that we should speak kindly to them, wish them well, return good for evil, pray for their eternal well-being, and the like.

Loving and praying for our enemies is one of the most difficult aspects of the Christian life. It is also, on the other hand, one of the highest expressions of the Christian life.

Bible in a Year
Old Testament Reading
Psalm 22, 23, 24


Psalm 22 -- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

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Psalm 23 -- The Lord is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing.

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Psalm 24 -- David's Psalm of Glory to God

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New Testament Reading
Acts 20:1-16


Acts 20 -- Paul in Macedonia and Greece; Eutychus Raised; Paul's Farewell to Ephesian Elders

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Reading Plan Courtesy of Christian Classics Etherial Library.
Tyndale Life Application Daily Devotion
These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
Insight
Jesus was sending 36 teams of two to reach the multitudes. These teams were not to try to do the job without help; rather, they were to ask God for more workers. Some people, as soon as they understand the gospel, want to go to work immediately contacting unsaved people.
Challenge
This story suggests a different approach: begin by mobilizing people to pray. And before praying for unsaved people, pray that other concerned disciples will join you in reaching out to them. In Christian service, there is no unemployment. God has work enough for everyone. Don't just sit back and watch others work—look for ways to help with the harvest.
Morning and Evening by Spurgeon
1 Thessalonians 1:4  Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

Many persons want to know their election before they look to Christ, but they cannot learn it thus, it is only to be discovered by "looking unto Jesus." If you desire to ascertain your own election;--after the following manner, shall you assure your heart before God. Do you feel yourself to be a lost, guilty sinner? go straightway to the cross of Christ, and tell Jesus so, and tell him that you have read in the Bible, "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Tell him that he has said, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Look to Jesus and believe on him, and you shall make proof of your election directly, for so surely as thou believest, thou art elect. If you will give yourself wholly up to Christ and trust him, then you are one of God's chosen ones; but if you stop and say, "I want to know first whether I am elect," you ask you know not what. Go to Jesus, be you never so guilty, just as you are. Leave all curious inquiry about election alone. Go straight to Christ and hide in his wounds, and you shall know your election. The assurance of the Holy Spirit shall be given to you, so that you shall be able to say, "I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him." Christ was at the everlasting council: he can tell you whether you were chosen or not; but you cannot find it out in any other way. Go and put your trust in him, and his answer will be--"I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." There will be no doubt about his having chosen you, when you have chosen him.

"Sons we are through God's election,

Who in Jesus Christ believe."

Daily Light on the Daily Path
Jonah 4:2  He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.

Numbers 14:7,18  and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, "The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. • The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.'

Psalm 79:8,9  Do not remember the iniquities of our forefathers against us; Let Your compassion come quickly to meet us, For we are brought very low. • Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; And deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name's sake.

Jeremiah 14:7  "Although our iniquities testify against us, O LORD, act for Your name's sake! Truly our apostasies have been many, We have sinned against You.

Jeremiah 14:20  We know our wickedness, O LORD, The iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against You.

Psalm 130:3,4  If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? • But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.

New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. For Permission to Quote Information visit http://www.lockman.org.

Evening July 16
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