We face various challenges in our lives. Sometimes we may even find ourselves in circumstances so confusing that we’re questioning ourselves: “how can God possibly give me a way out of this?” We cannot possibly imagine how God is going to move; how He is going to deliver us and break the unbreakable strongholds for us. But God is ready to help. Often His help is unexpected, and we are simply mesmerized that it has come.
Our God is a sovereign God. He moves in an unpredictable way.
FIRST JEWISH MESSIANIC CONGREGATION – EXAMPLE OF LOVE TO THEIR ENEMIES
I remember the situation that happened after Stephen’s death when the persecution started against the Messianic Jews, first in Jerusalem, and then all around Judea. And just about the most dreadful persecutor Saul, a very devoted student of Gamaliel (Gamaliel himself, for the record, did not have such atrocious position towards the followers of Yeshua) forced the high priests to give him the letters to the synagogue in Damascus and headed there. And at that time Damascus believers must have heard that persecution was impending, their fiercest enemy was coming after them.
So it was the fiercest persecutor together with his companions who started off the journey to Damascus. However, the one who finished it was the Apostle of the persecuted Messiah, God’s child and a servant of the One he came to persecute! The most dreadful enemy left Jerusalem, but the best friend reached Damascus. How was this ever possible? It is simply beyond our comprehension!
I want you to know, my friends: Don’t you worry! God is good! He knows how to shift your situation. The Lord knows how to send a person into our lives, the person we may be completely unaware of. The key person who will show the way out. God has already planned everything! And it’s important for us to pray and thank God in our ordeals: “I thank you, my dear Daddy, though I may not see it, there is a way out for me! You have prepared it for me and You know when is the right time to reveal it!”
The moment we start praying like this and giving thanks like this, simply incredible things begin to happen! I believe that first Messianic congregation in Jerusalem was praying intensely for the future Apostle Paul. That was one Jewish congregation simply immersed in God’s presence. They were experiencing God, their Daddy, so profoundly. Ruah Ha-Kodesh was also moving so powerfully that they knew for sure how to pray for their enemies and they did just that with love!
Friends, under no circumstances we should succumb to despair and hopelessness.
We mustn’t think that God is in a tight corner when we are in a tight corner. God is never in a tight corner. He’s broken every sort of tight corner there is! The love that was at work in the Jerusalem congregation is at work in us.
And God is moving powerfully. He is using us to restore the standard of His love because we are a part of a great restoration process of Messiah’s body, of Israel and the unity among the Jewish New Covenant congregation and the other nations in the body of Messiah. God is moving powerfully so we can live in the freedom of the incredible love of the Father that penetrates deeply into our souls, transforming and changing everything. This transformation is the transformation in the image of Yeshua Ha Mashiah Himself.
And when this love is revealed in us, we understand how to pray for the people we’d rather forget. And then we come to realize how the first Jewish Apostolic congregation was fulfilling the commandment to love their enemies.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN “TO LOVE YOUR ENEMIES”?
Of course, when Yeshua gave the commandment to love the enemies, He didn’t mean for us to love them as our closest and dearest people. No! Yeshua Himself treated different people differently.
We love our enemies when we stop living in negative response to their ungodly attitude to us. When we are free from their mean, unjust attitude then our response to their evil shouldn’t be evil anymore. Yeshua comes in between us. He died for them just like he did for us. And He’s hugging us with one of his pierced hands while stretching His other hand to them. The understanding of this essential truth brings us closer to forgiving our enemies.
Forgiveness is the basic expression of love.
When believers started praying for Saul they saw that he became more zealous and even more filled with hatred towards God’s children. Like a wolf he started prowling about Jerusalem. But God comforted them and they kept on praying, kept on blessing this dreadful persecutor Saul, tying up evil spirits and praying God to reveal Himself to His persecutor.
And what happened next? - Mind-boggling things! – It became worse. He forced the High priest to give him the letters that would have empowered him to persecute local Messianic Jews in Damascus. Can you believe it?! Goodness gracious! – Complete doom and gloom! The more fervent their prayers were, the wilder Saul became.
Believers might have prayed for God to stop him and his companions on their way to Damascus; for God to keep them in Jerusalem where everybody knew them and thus had a chance to hide. But they went on. Even more so, Saul marched and as the book of Acts says: “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples”. And the Lord stopped Him, the love of His disciples reached Saul on his evil path of hatred and fear. And everything changed radically! We know nothing of Saul’s companions; they may have never become believers. But the main persecutor was turned into the greatest Apostle!
That’s why, friends, never lose heart when you see situations that seem hopeless! God is able to turn enemies into friends. He’s able to turn those who think of themselves as our enemies into our most cordial friends as well as those who think of themselves as our enemies.
How? He grants us His incredible love, His forgiveness. He sets us free from mutual hatred, mutual meanness. He takes away this desire for vengeance even from our thoughts:
- I’m a part of God’s family now. I have no right to behave like this and I won’t. But if I wasn’t a believer, I would definitely…Oh, dear God, it’s so great to be a believer! Thank you, God, for making me kind and humble, if it wasn’t for my humbleness, that jerk would’ve suffered!
If we surrender to the Lord and stop overmatching evil with evil; if we stop thinking that we have every right to hate the person who’s being aggressive, rude, and dishonest – everything will change dramatically! God showed us that we have no such right (to hate) because we have been loved by the One who had every right to punish us and send us to hell for all our sins. Instead He, though being absolutely sinless, let others torture Him to save us from perishing in hell.
So, finally the moment comes when you realize that you need to love the people you can barely stand; you need to pray for them, bless them, and support them. Not all are going to become our friends. But every person who will become a friend to us, will also be an incredible miracle of God’s love and grace. Not all who had persecuted the believers became Apostles. But for the sake of one Apostle Paul – loving them all was worthwhile.
That’s why He wants us to pray for the difficult people in dead-end circumstances so much. It could be those whom we are closest to – a parent or a child, a husband or a wife. For some people it could be a pastor, a mentor, or a church leader. For others – a boss at work or their neighbors. It could be the best friend who betrayed us (or at least that’s what we think)
LET’S LIFT SUCH PEOPLE UP TO THE LORD IN FAITH AND SAY:
“Daddy, you love me so much! You’re revealing your love in so many incredible ways! You’re renewing my heart, you’re making everything new, and you’re making me capable of loving. So I’m asking you: help me to love the people I can’t love. Help me to forgive them and keep forgiving them. Help me to look at them through your eyes – eyes of love, faith, and hope. Answer my prayer on their behalf, filled with your love, forgiveness and blessings.
Daddy, you gave your Son for them just like you did for me. Let this understanding become mine on a very deep level. Your grace is the most powerful! And even if they are not going to change, please, keep changing me. I don’t want to respond negatively on their ungodly attitude, words and actions. Let Yeshua stand between me and them, let His blood go in between us.
I want to be expectant of your surprises. Your surprises in my family, among my close ones; your surprises among my friends and people who used to be my friends. Your surprises at work or school, especially through the least likely people. Help me to expect your surprises from everywhere. I don’t want to insist on particular sources of your blessings in my life and in the life of my family.
Also, Daddy, help me to be expectant and believing of your surprises in my congregation, among my brothers and sisters, among my mentors. And help me to be a friend for those who treat me badly. Help me to bless them, pray for the best for them and reject whatever arrows Satan is aiming at me through them and against them. God, fill me up with your blazing fire of love and goodness towards these people precious in your eyes! God, you are making everything new in me and I want to see people with new eyes and in a new way.
Boris Grisenko, prayer retreat of KJMC