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Overcome Evil with Good

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-21, NRSV)

Do not seek revenge, and do not repay evil with evil. Instead, feed your hungry enemies and if they are thirsty give them something to drink, be kind to them for in doing this you will confuse them and they will not know what to do.

Revenge belongs to God and God’s wrath is worse than anything you could come up with, so love everyone, weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who are joyful.

Overcome evil with good.

Be good to everyone, and let God take care of the rest.

 

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An Extravagant Anointing

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” 3Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5But they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.” 6Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. 8But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? 9For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.”10But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. 11For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. 13Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” (Matthew 26:1-13, NRSV)

Let us not get this story confused with the one in Luke where the woman comes and washes Jesus feet with her tears and then dries them with her hair. Because when I did a search for an image, there was only this image I found that was of someone anointing His head. The rest of the images are of a woman washing Jesus’ feet. But now that is the story in Luke which gets confused with the earlier story in Luke 7:36-50.

Herein all of the gospels a jar of ointment here and is named as spikenard in other gospels is used on Jesus and that would have cost around a year’s wages. it was not cheap. and the money from its sale could have fed a lot of people, but it was used for a purpose to make Jesus ready for his burial. It was extravagant, this woman knew Jesus was worth this and she anointed Jesus. And she will always be remembered as the woman who anointed Jesus.

What have you anointed Jesus with?

 

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Calling the Fishermen

18As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22, NRSV)

Jesus was walking on the shore and saw Simon and Andrew and said Follow me. ορισο μου. Literally get behind me. Also the words Jesus uses for Peter when Peter tries to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem after Jesus tells them he will be killed.

Know your place is to follow behind me. If you can’t see the back of Jesus’ head you might want to reevaluate your position.

Get behind me and go where I go.

Are you ready to get behind Jesus?

 

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Israel Demands a King

When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” (1 Samuel 8:1-18, NRSV)

Samuel appointed his sons to be judges in his stay, however, they did not do as he did and follow after the Lord. They looked out for themselves and this made the people want to not have judges but to have a king as other people did.

But God told Samuel to tell the people what would happen if they had a king as other peoples did, but they still wanted a king.

We want what we want even if we know that it will not be good for us because we think we know better than God does.

Let us follow God and head His words.

 

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Hairs of your head

6888219“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.  “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke  12:4-12, NRSV)

I have to say that I take great comfort in knowing that the hairs of my head are all counted and numbered! For those of you who do not know me in person, or have not seen a picture of me, the picture on the blog today is me. I have no hair, except my goatee, on my head. So again I find great comfort knowing God has counted all of the hairs on my head!

But the point of the passage is not lost, because I love the fact that I am worth so much that God takes the time to count my hairs and to know each one so that even the minute details of my life are known by Him. He loves each of us so much He knows everything about you, even things you do not know!

So shout it from the mountaintops the love your savior has for you! And make sure everyone knows how much he loves them too!

 

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heap

Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:13-21, NRSV)

I love these verses…

Kill them with kindness is the way we say this now. But I love the imagery of heaping burning coals on the heads of those who persecute us!

But is it easy?

To love your enemies?

To pray for those who persecute you?

To do good to those who hate you?

No. it is not easy. But here is the thing, it really isn’t an option for us.

God told us to do this. So we need to love everyone as our neighbor and repay no one evil for evil.

If we shower them with kindness we will confound them. We will confuse them. and in the end it will be worse for them than if we tried to seek retribution ourselves!

So love them to death and heap away!

 

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Always there

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;  he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. (Psalm 23, NRSV)

What a wonderful psalm and one that we all know very well.

We go into auto pilot when we hear this, because it is said or heard during Lent, and at most funerals… But do we miss the richness if we go into autopilot mode on it?

We hear that God is our shepherd and He will provide our every need. That He watches over us by protecting us from the smallest peskiest hindrance. You see anointing the head of the sheep with oil kept the flies and other flying things away.

God sets a table (communion?) before us and our enemies to we can sit down and have table fellowship with God!

But the part I think we miss, because we like to focus on the bright pretty images…

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me” The valley of death is how many of us know it. We don’t like to think about being in darkness or pain or dark valleys, but even in the darkest place we find our selves, as the picture shows us, God is always with us!

So take comfort that God will always be with us, when we are in a bright sunny place, or when there is nothing but gloom and darkness closing in, He is always there!

 

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