To me, July is “America the Beautiful” month, hands down. I heard a collage of old hymns on the Fourth of July sung by a church choir that brought me to tears. It reminded me of the America that I once knew, the America I grew up in as a child.
“Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain…” I grew up in Eastern Washington where wheat fields grew from horizon to horizon as far as the eye could see. “For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!” The appreciation of mountains rising up from the floor of the plains to the sky far above, gives one that feeling of how Big our God really is. Then the refrain, “America, America, God shed His Grace on thee…” When I think of God shed His Grace on thee, I think of God giving us His all, giving us all of His love through God the Son, Jesus, Yeshua, placing the guilt of all our sin, all our mistakes, our failures on Jesus at the cross on Calvary. In this one act of love, God opened His arms wide and says to all mankind, “Come unto me, All you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest, learn from me, take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy, my burden is light.”
What a powerful statement from our Creator God and declaration of His Almighty Love. God the Father wants to fill us up with His Majestic Love to complete our purpose in life, to be full of His Love. All He asks us to do is to admit our need for Him, the Most High God, to admit we have sinned, confess our sins to God, take ownership of our wrongs and humble ourselves before Him in prayer and adoration of His Greatness, Holiness and Power over all creation.
God sent His Son Jesus as the atonement for our sins, in that even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, for our sins, to set us free from the punishment due us because of our many sins. Jesus’ Blood washes away all of our sins, “God shed His Grace on Thee…and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”
Recently, God reminded me of something that brought me to my knees. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” Jesus was not just talking about the TEN commandments, He was talking about all of the other commandments, like, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” One of those commandments that hit me hard was, “Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don’t expect them to repay you.” Luke 6:35a This command I had said, “yeah, I get it, love my enemies.” But, I didn’t get it. I mean I went through the steps and said, “I forgive my enemies,” but Love them? Lord you are asking the impossible of me. Yes, It was impossible for me to comprehend what Jesus was really asking of me. I admitted I really could not love my enemies on my own. I need the Holy Spirit to love my enemies through my own heart like God wants me to love my enemies. That is what Jesus meant. Love them as I Love Jesus, as I Love God.
This verse would not go away. It woke me up one night last week, so I got up and I read it over again and saw something I hadn’t seen before. Jesus said in Luke 6:35b,” Then your reward FROM heaven will be VERY GREAT. What I thought before was, “Your reward IN Heaven was great,” but, it turned out I saw, “our reward is from Heaven and very great.” The reward is a Now reward, not when we get to Heaven.
The best part of 6:35b, “and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked.” We are allowing God to love those people through us, which glorifies Him. “Lord, we love to obey your laws, our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.” Isa. 26:8
I hope we can now all take a different look at loving our enemies. Not only is it a command of Jesus, but it comes with a great reward from Heaven.
My first question of the Lord was, “OK Lord, now that I know that you want me to love my enemies, please show me who my enemies are. You know my heart and you know what I really think about people. Show me who my enemies are so I can love them for you as you would have me love them. Maybe I treat one of my neighbors as an enemy, or a relative, a friend maybe. Maybe I treat my wife or husband more as an enemy than one I would love as the Lord loves me? Go to your quiet place and ask God, “Who do I treat like an enemy?” Wait and God will show you who you have mistreated as an enemy. And, of course, we need to pray for them, we need to pray for those who are dividing the nation of America and are enemies of America. Pray for all to know Jesus so that He can heal those who hate rather than love.
The Lord bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you and bring you great Joy!
Mark Conway is a Christian evangelist living in Sterling with his wife Maryna. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.