As you approach the Lord God Almighty, be reminded of God’s words to Moses when the Lord passed in front of Him, proclaiming His name.
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34: 6-7)
Listening to God
The Lord is gracious, abounding in love and faithfulness. The Lord is also just, in that He will not stand for the destructive power of sin in this world. Listen to what the Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome:
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 9-21)
Throughout the scriptures, imagery of “burning coals” or fire represents the presence of God (2 Chronicles 7:3, Isaiah 6:6). To radically love another—especially an enemy—is not only counter cultural, but Paul also seems to say that it is a way to bring the presence of God into our lives. It seems it is God’s desire for we who follow Jesus Christ to represent His grace and abounding love and faithfulness to the world in order that they might experience the Lord Himself.
Talking to God
Spend some time in prayer pouring out your heart to the Lord who loves you. What words of praise and thanksgiving come to mind when you consider God’s character in Exodus 34? What questions or concerns come to mind? How do God’s words today lead you toward confession?
Responding to God
What does it look like for you to radically love your neighbor in such a way that you would be bringing the presence of the living God? Spend time today discerning how God is calling you to show the compassionate and gracious love of God to someone specific in your life.
Surrendering to God
“Lord God, thank you for showing me the greatest example of radical love in your Son, Jesus Christ. Reveal to me how I might love my neighbor in a way that reflects the same compassionate, abounding love and faithfulness that you have shown to me.”
By JB Wernlund
A HISTORICAL SIDEBAR
One of the reasons the Protestant churches continued to expand is because of their belief in the presence of Jesus in the Word of God. Both Jesus and Scripture are referred to as God’s Word and words. In the Spirit-inspired human words of Scripture, we encounter the Word, Jesus – the two are linked. Yet, many Reformers went further, teaching that in the preaching of God’s Word, the Word of God (Jesus, through Scripture) is proclaimed. As Luther stated, “Even if Christ were given for us and crucified a thousand times, it would all be vain if the Word of God were absent and were not distributed and given to me with the bidding.” Preaching distributes God’s Word by the Spirit, and this is one way the Protestant churches grew.