Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Matthew 5:11-12
“‘Rejoice and be glad’ paraphrases ‘blessed’ and turns it into a virtual act of worship… Believers should experience an ongoing exultant joy when privileged to suffer for the Lord; for the early church suffering was a joy because it meant a special ‘fellowship’ with Christ (Acts 5:41; Phil 3:10; cf. Col 1:24), a new level of union with him… The basic message of the whole NT is that Christ’s followers should expect to face the same hatred and oppression he did. In fact, this is primary fellowship and oneness with him.” [Grant Osborne, Matthew (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary), Kindle, p. 235, 238]
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to daily reflect Jesus’ love, holiness, and mission. When we experience rejection because of your name, may we be filled with supernatural joy through the Spirit as we experience fellowship with Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to the song “Joy of the Lord” by Maverick City Music TRIBL (click here).
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.John 15:18-19
“The point is that Christ’s followers should expect to receive from the world exactly what happened to Jesus. Those who ‘persecuted’ Jesus will continue to do so with the disciples, and those who ‘obeyed’ his teaching (far fewer in number) will follow them as well. This means that their treatment of them is actually part of their treatment of the Lord. Their task is mission, and they must leave the reactions of people to them with the Lord and trust him for strength to endure.” [Grant Osborne, John Verse by Verse (Osborne New Testament Commentaries), Kindle 5944-5972]
Prayer: Lord, may we not be surprised when opposition comes our way because of Jesus. By your grace and strength, may we stay on task, which is the mission for your glory. Help us endure rejection for those who will respond to Christ’s love and salvation. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to the song “Peace be still” by The Belonging Co (click here).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.Matthew 5:43-45
“… the ugliest four-letter word in the English vocabulary is them. It’s a word that separates and divides… It’s really hard to dislike someone you pray for regularly. One of the most important things we can do to move the cause of reconciliation forward is to pray for the brothers and sisters who we have been separate from… We can pray for God’s blessing on those we have felt separated from and for their hearts to be softened even as ours are. We can pray for opportunities to engage with them in new ways and for a new spirit of fellowship and brotherhood to develop. We can pray that they will not become discouraged if their first try at reaching out does not work. We will all need the Lord to keep us moving forward and to not give up when we are rejected and things don’t go the way we want them to. [John Perkins, One Blood, Kindle Edition, p. 153]
Prayer: Lord, today I specifically pray for those that have hurt me or those I try to avoid. Lord, soften my heart and theirs to respond to and receive your grace. Bless them today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to the song “Yes and Amen” by Housefires (click here).
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.Romans 12:9-14 NLT
Much like God’s anger, divine hatred is different from human hatred. Human hatred is rooted in sin and has destructive consequences. In contrast, divine hatred against sin is rooted in God’s character and being. God is love. God is holy. God is good. As such, the living God loves all that is good and hates all evil. Therefore, as the people of God in whom he lives through his Holy Spirit, we too are to love what he loves and hate what he hates. May we hate sin as much as God does while loving people as much as he does.
Prayer: Lord, may I be so filled with the Holy Spirit today that I hate what is wrong and flee from it. Empower me to truly love with Christ’s sacrificial love. “So let my deeds outrun my words and let my life outweigh my songs.” In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to the song “Unbroken Praise” by Matt Redman (click here).
Let’s read aloud together the following passages and prayer:
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 1 Peter 1:13-17 NIV
Let those who love the lord hate evil… Psalm 97:10a
“O Lord our God, grant us grace to desire you with our whole heart:
that desiring you, we may seek you;
and that seeking you, we may find you;
and that finding you, we may love you;
and that loving you,
we may hate those sins from which you have delivered us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
(Prayer for Ash Wednesday, BCP 2019)