Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Psalm 107:21
God’s steadfast love, hesed, runs consistently through the history of his people. Unchanging, steady, constant, committed, relentless, pursuing love. Covenant love.
God’s people rebel and wander far from him again and again, and he patiently brings them back.
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. Psalm 107:9
God delivers his people from trouble, feeds them physically and spiritually and leads them into good places of blessing.
He continues to do the same today. His steadfast love pursues us all the days of our lives. He satisfies our hungry souls. Oh, thank God for his wondrous works for us!
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathise with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.
1 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT)
God wants his children to be single-minded in purpose and direction – that does not mean that we will always agree on everything but we cannot let disputes or disagreements disrupt our overall unity. We are commanded to love one another deeply and genuinely. In fact, Jesus said that this should be the way that the watching world recognises us as his disciples…
Love inevitably involves risk. Tender hearts are liable to get bruised. Brothers and sisters can be bluntly honest with each other at times. But we must be humble, not allowing our own egos to trip us up.
The urge to retaliate when insulted is so strong! We need divine help from the Holy Spirit to help us stop before we ‘repay evil with evil’. And we definitely need the Spirit’s help to bless those who insult us! Perhaps take a moment this week to pray for someone who posts anti-Christian messages on Facebook, insults Jesus in a comedy sketch, ridicules Christianity in your home, or belittles the faith of Christians in your workplace. Pray that God would bless them – not what they do or say, but their inner person who is made in His image and likeness.
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptised by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. Luke 3:7-8
The people coming to John the Baptist thought that the ritual of baptism could save them. John is bluntly direct and cuts to the root of their motives. The people also relied on their Jewish ancestry to claim salvation but John dismisses this also as worthless. He challenges them to repent and then start living differently. The fruit of a truly redeemed and changed life should be apparent. God doesn’t look for any human heritage or self-righteousness when he adopts children. He looks for those who recognise their sin and repent wholeheartedly.
It is so easy to start thinking that we’ve somehow earned salvation through good works, obedience, duty… The truth is, we were cold and dead as stone before God chose us and made us alive in Christ. What fruit of repentance do I produce in my life? Do I show that I truly understand the extent to which I have been forgiven? Does my love for others reflect God’s outrageous love for me?