Enemies No More

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Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:1-6

In his book, Hidden in Plain Sight, Mark Buchanan tells the true-life story of reconciliation between a woman named Regine and the man who had killed her son in the genocide in Rwanda. One night there was a knock on Regine’s door.

She opened it, and there stood a young man. He was about her son’s age.

“Yes?”

He hesitated. And then he said, “I am the one who killed your son. Since that day, I have had no life. No peace. So here I am. I am placing my life in your hands. Kill me. I am dead already. Throw me in jail. I am in prison already. Torture me. I am in torment already. Do with me as you wish.”

The woman had prayed for this day. Now it had arrived, and she didn’t know what to do. She found, to her own surprise, that she did not want to kill him. Or throw him in jail. Or torture him. In that moment of reckoning, she found she only wanted one thing: a son.

“I ask this of you. Come into my home and live with me. Eat the food I would have prepared for my son. Wear the clothes I would have made for my son. Become the son I lost.”

And so he did.

It is all too rare that true enemies find reconciliation.

It was fitting that God would use the apostle Paul, who as a young zealous Pharisee persecuted the early followers of Jesus, to proclaim the gospel of reconciliation. He understood it. He had gone from being the enemy of Jesus to his ardent follower and friend. Paul traveled the whole Mediterranean world proclaiming this great message. We do not need to be enemies any longer—not with God, not with each other. Jesus makes it possible.

PONDER: How much do you long to be reconciled with your enemies?

* * *

John Newton and “Amazing Grace”

John Newton_Day19

Prior to writing the well-known hymn “Amazing Grace,” John Newton was the captain of two slave ships, profiting from the trade. Whips, guns, iron chains, collars, and thumbscrews were the tools he used to control his human cargo. His radical conversion to Christianity occurred on March 21, 1748. When a treacherous storm threatened to sink his ship on a routine voyage home to Liverpool, Newton cried out, “Lord, have mercy!” From that moment forward, Jesus began to transform his life.

Newton confessed his sins and repented by changing his behavior completely. After he left the slave trade, he applied for ordination to the Archbishop of York. Obedience replaced his rebellious spirit, compassion overtook him, and the Spirit convicted him about slavery. It was by the amazing grace of God that Newton’s eyes were opened to the terrible injustice he had supported. He became a passionate abolitionist. Newton was mentor to the young member of Parliament, William Wilberforce, whose legislative efforts eventually resulted in the abolition of the slave trade.

By the time of his death in 1807, Newton had successfully pastored an Evangelical congregation and produced over 280 hymns. All of them testified to the glory of God, but his lyrics in “Amazing Grace” expressed the true freedom he experienced once he decided to follow Jesus.

Caroline Chapp

Comments welcome below.

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10 thoughts on “Enemies No More”

  1. This is one of the best gifts. Unmerited grace just as Christ has extended to all sinners. All things are possible through Christ.

  2. Father, I fear that if the healing does not take place that I will be living a life of hypocrisy…

    Father, I need your heart of “Love”, “Reconciliation” and “Forgiveness”, because without them there can be NO peace…
    Lord Jesus, the pursuit of your love is the secret to contentment and strength, I need focus on that pursuit Lord, I fear my heart is susceptible to easily returning to the torturous prison of bitterness and hatred…
    Holy Spirit, I need your help in maintaining reconciled relationships in my life. My heart and mind tend to keep focusing on the issues that caused the hurt, making it difficult to maintain relationships. Spirit of God, could it be that I am still struggling with forgiveness in my heart? Lord please show me how to stand beside my brother or sister instead of focusing on the hurt, pain and conflict of the past…
    Lord God, heal the hurt of my heart, so that my forgiveness is not hindered, I fear that if the healing does not take place that I will be living a life of hypocrisy…
    Almighty One, do in me what you did in the Apostle Paul on the Damascus Road, blind me to the bitterness and hatred of an unreconciled life and open my eyes to the truth of the transforming power of your “Love”, “Reconciliation” and “Forgiveness” I want to KNOW your peace…
    Lord Jesus, the season of obedience is here…

  3. How do you reconcile with an enemy who is a deciever and acts like they are not your enemy? What do you do when it is a family member who is your enemy and you love your family but don’t like this person? I would love to be able to trust this person and truely share with them more freely but I can’t. It is very sad to have to feel this way about someone in your family it build walls that separate not bring together. in need of family reconcillation.

  4. In listening to Jason’s message, watching the video and today’s devotional, I’m in awe of God’s timing in reminding me of the unfinished business I hold in the death of my son. My son was one of two young men who decided to use heroin together. My son paying the consequence of this choice with his life and his friend currently spending an extended amount of time as an inmate. As a result of this tragedy, I lived in a bubble, wrapped up in grief ,disappointment and continually asking God why my son was taken home, while his friend was free to live. It wasn’t until the trial, that I came to a different level of understanding. I felt that justice had been served, but my heart went out to his mom, as she listened to the details of that night and watched her son being hauled away. I knew that the tables could have very well been turned. As we filed out of the courtroom that day, I reach my hand out to her, but it felt awkward even though on the inside I wanted to hug her. After a time I contacted her and have gotten together on several occasions. We have been reconciled in the part that we played related to the addiction our son’s shared. God has nudged me to send some of the books that my son had read to the prison, praying that through God’s word the boys would connect from heaven to earth. He and I have exchanged letters, but I feel the Holy Spirit asking me to take next steps to place this young man at the foot of the cross and allow God to heal my heart and to completely reconcile. I am amazed how God has perfectly timed this reconciled series and I know He did it for me!

    1. Praise God! He works everything in His time, He knows when you are ready to receive his grace. May He continue to bless you!

    2. What a heartbreaking but inspiring story Julie ! There are so many similarities. I’m also convinced that God has timed this for you.

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