““Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”
Luke 12:27–28, NIV
Jesus gave this series of teachings in Luke Chapter 12 on his way to Jerusalem. We can imagine that he passed meadows of wildflowers on his way. He may have referred to the scene as he elaborated on his admonition not to worry but to trust in God’s provision.
Confused or surprised that enemies are coming against you?Jesus said that his followers will have enemies in this world. His prophetic words came true for his first followers, most of whom were martyred.
It was important that Jesus warn his followers of the trials to come. He didn’t want them unprepared. Jesus wants us to count the cost of following him just as a man plans the costs of building a tower (Luke 14:28-29).
Opposition from enemies will come from many places.
Jesus said the world will hate his followers. The world signifies those who are not preoccupied with the things of God, those whose affections are on the things of this world, the things we can touch, see and hear.
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. John 15:18-19
Even those closest to you, those who should have the most fierce love for you and protect you will turn against you. God’s natural plan for family is distorted by anger.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Matthew 10:21
For I have come to turn
“ ‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Matthew 10:35
For deeper study
Jesus echoed Micah 7 which also gives the answer to dealing with these enemies:
For a son dishonors his father,
a daughter rises up against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.
Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.
Jesus said in summary that you will be hated by “all”, meaning many, even those in unexpected places.
“You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Mark 13:13
Where is the good news in this guarantee of enemies?
We are like our beloved Master, Jesus, when we suffer at the hand of enemies.
Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:20
Suffering at the hands of enemies is a privilege. Our Master, Jesus, went through the same thing. We are blessed to be united with him and we will have to be part of his suffering because of this blessed unity. We are being conformed into the likeness of Christ and dealing with enemies is one way God uses to get us there.
We are guaranteed ultimate triumph over our enemies because we have eternal life with God. Jesus elsewhere said that his apostles should not fear those who can only kill the body (Matthew 10:28) but rely on the keeper of the soul and the One who can destroy it.
…the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Mark 13:13b
Jesus brings comfort in the face of enemies by reminding his followers that those who endure the suffering that lasts for a moment, will ultimately experience the salvation of eternal life and joy in him.
Stay tuned for the next section of this discussion and we look at the ways Jesus tells us to deal with our enemies.
“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”” (Luke 22:17–19, NIV)
The scene is a somber one but filled with love. Jesus knows he must leave his beloved apostles soon. He yet has much to share with them.
Jesus with the twelve apostles prepared to celebrate the Passover meal, sacred because it commemorated God’s great power in freeing his people from Egyptian slavery.
But God was soon to perform an even greater miracle. Through the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus, the whole world might be saved.
It is in the midst of this sacred scene that Jesus gives thanks to his father. Before passing around the cup of wine to be shared, Jesus gave thanks. Similarly, before passing around the bread to be shared, Jesus gave thanks.
In this foreshadowing of his death, offering up his body and blood, gratitude flowed from the heart and mouth of Jesus.
Facing the most difficult time of his earthly life, Jesus took the time to give thanks.
Do you thank God in the midst of trials? I have found that doing so allows me to shift my focus off my trial and to all that God has provided me.
Jesus gave thanks in the presence Judas, the one who would betray him and send him to a painful, humiliating death.
Even in the presence of your enemies, thank God for who he is and all he has done.
“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” (John 6:11, NIV)
Background and Setting
“Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” (John 6:1–13, NIV)
The Master’s Plan
After healing many, Jesus was followed by large crowds because of his miracles. He asks a provocative question of his disciple Philip. “How will we feed so many followers?” Sometimes, God asks you a stretch question, designed to get you to go beyond your comfort zone and what you know you can do. The question was based on Jesus knowing what HE was going to do because he has all power. Andrew, another disciple, dares to come to Jesus with a tiny amount of food that can not come close to feeding the crowd assembled. But did he have a mustard seed of faith that maybe, just maybe, Jesus could perform a miracle with a little bit of food? I think so.
Calm in the Midst of Crowds
In the behind-the-scenes with Jesus, tensions were mounting. What about this idea of feeding all these people? What good can the small amount of food from a small boy do? Meanwhile, the multitudes are waiting for Jesus to continue doing his miracles. In the midst of this, Jesus takes his time. He tells the crowd to sit down.
Jesus is in front of a large crowd of hungry people. The situation seems desperate. What will happen? The people are restless, the disciples are worried. But Jesus will not be rushed. He will do things decently and in order. Thanks must be given before the miracle occurs. Jesus will lead them in giving thanks to the One who provides their daily bread.
The text says that Jesus knew what he was going to do. He knew he was going to do a miracle and feed the 5,000. Again, moving patiently and methodically, Jesus gave thanks before he distributed the loaves that miraculously multiplied. He did the same before he distributed the fish. Jesus thanked God in faith for the miracle before it happened.
Jesus Our Example
Thankfulness for food may have been part of Jesus’ daily routine. Is it part of yours?
As you approach Thanksgiving Day, make sure to order your Thanksgiving Day celebration to make time to give thanks. Don’t rush it. Give all in attendance a chance to express their gratitude as well. God’s provision for us is miraculous. Take time to remember that every day, not just on Thanksgiving, each time you set down to eat of the food God provides for you.
It is God’s will that we be continually conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, each day becoming more like him. Christ was thankful. Pray that you become more thankful to the One who provides everything for your nourishment.
Look around this beautiful earth that we live on and remember who created it and sustains it. There is no God like our God! None can compare and none even make the claims of our God.
Psalm 95:3-5 expresses the completeness of God’s power and creation in the way typical of ancient Hebrew poetry.
The first two lines, a couplet, are the background and explanation for the following two couplets. Because the “Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.”, everything is made by him and belongs to him.
The next two couplets explain the breadth of God’s power and possessions. Just as in English we say “From A to Z” to explain something that is comprehensive, so these verses beautifully describe God. The verses are repeating the fact that God created everything but using different examples.
Both the “depths of the earth” and “mountain peaks belong to him.” So too “the sea is his” and “his hands formed the dry land”.
What does this mean for your everyday life? The God who is above all things and created all things has the power to intervene in your life. Whatever problem you are facing, God can create a solution for you.
Knowing that you are loved and forgiven by the Ruler of all brings freedom, peace and joy. So no matter the trials of your life, keep praising God and his power to rescue you.
The Lord reigneth; He is clothed with majesty. The Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded Himself. The world also is established, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is established of old; Thou art from everlasting.
The Lord rules and reigns over the earth he created. He is strong and cannot be moved, forever and ever. You know you can trust a God like this. He is in control and you can lean on his strength and his steadfastness. God is on his throne and he’s not going anywhere!
Today’s Praise (and a lesson on prayer with praise)
Keeping our attention on praise, let’s look at a few verses in Psalm 147. The jubilant writer of Psalm 147 gives many reasons to praise the Lord. Learn how to praise God in your prayer life from these verses.
The order and beauty of these verses can help you formulate your own praise prayer. The high level structure gives a view of all God did for Jerusalem then and continues to do for you today.
Praise God for peace, provision and protection.
Praise God for his powerful Word.
Praise God for his control over all creation.
As you praise God for his sovereignty over all things, take comfort in knowing he can handle anything and everything for you.
The initial command to praise the Lord is essentially said twice in the first two sentences. It is repeated in two different ways for emphasis as is common throughout the Old Testament. This feature, parallelism, is especially prominent in Wisdom literature, Psalms and Proverbs. Look for it. When you see it, pay careful attention as the author intended.
Here is the parallelism:
1. Extol the Lord
1. Praise your God
The God of Two Spheres
The praises are grouped into two categories I call micro and macro.
Micro- Specifically for his people God:
Macro- God’s power in all creation becomes the focus of praise. He controls all of creation with his commands including the:
1) Snow and frost
2) Hail and icy winds
3) Breezes and waters
Turn Your Prayer Into Praise
While written to Jerusalem at the time of the return from Babylon, these verses were are a template for your prayer life today. Do you want to start praying and praising God more easily and effectively? Start with the words or patterns of the psalmist.
Like the psalmist, praise God for who he is and what he has done for you. Recall God’s relationship to the earth and all that is in it. Remember his control of nature.
Make your precious prayer time causes you to focus on God and who he is. Meditating on these truths will bring you the “peace that passes all understanding”. Taking your eyes off of your circumstances and putting them onto your Almighty God will lead to praise.
Be not overcome with evil but repay evil with good. Romans 12:21
This is a hard saying. Usually, with every fiber of our being, we want to fight evil with evil. We get wronged, we want to wrong in return. The problem is, we WILL find ourselves overcome by evil by retaliating in this way.
The Bible promises that we will have enemies. Enemies hurt us or try to. How do we overcome those with evil intentions?
Learn the truths of the Bible, found in both the Old and New Testament. Fight evil with good. Allow God to lead you in how to act against an adversary. A practical way to overcome evil with good- Pray for your enemies, as Jesus reminds says. In this way, evil will be overcome.