Heaping Coals of Fire on an Enemy

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Romans 12:20

In the Bible era an extremely important matter was the ability to provide fire. Such fires were often started by a single coal. 

In this narrative an enemy has a need for coal. To illustrate the way to respond to an enemy in need, that of a coal is used. The proportionate response was to give the enemy so many coals they had to be carried in a receptacle on his head. Carrying weights in such a way was common.

The story is a metaphor advocating repaying a wrong with a right. Generosity is encouraged by the instruction to give your enemy more than requested, surely more than deserved.

By abundantly giving an adversary more than needed it is equivalent to giving a person in need of a single coal so many he has to carry them on his head.

The writer of Proverbs notes the results of doing so.

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the LORD will reward you.”  Proverbs 25:21-22

My Cup Runs Over

The Psalmist said of our Lord, “He leads me beside still water,” and “my cup runs over” (Psalm 23:2 & 5).

The still water spoken of is not that depicted by a slow flowing fresh water stream, nor a pond.

In the Bible Land it rains only parts of three months. The rest of the time the land is barren and dry. The flocks need water. To provide it the good shepherd finds a pocket in the earth and lines it with limestone making it a cistern. He then goes out on the side of the hill and gathers stones he uses to make a large “V” with the tip leading right into the cistern. When it rains the water flows into his cistern. Water kept out of light and open air remains fresh almost indefinitely. This water was called “still water.”

As a good shepherd always has in store what the sheep need long before the sheep need it, so the Good Shepherd has in store for His sheep what they need long before they need it.

The shepherd then finds a boulder and hews it out making it a trough, a cup. He drew the water from the cistern and poured it into the cup for the sheep to drink. They crowd around taking turns. They are so crowded the shepherd can’t see his feet. He continues to pour until his feet feel wet. Then he knows his cup is running over. 

So our Good Shepherd not only has in store for His sheep what they need, but before they need it, He provides abundantly. He is the “Shepherd of the Overflowing Cup.”

The Tipping Point

History reveals every great nation has a tipping point. It was not their end, but a point from which there was no return, and the end was inevitable. For some it was imminent, for others it was more distant.

Once the tipping point is reached the end is inescapable. Let us pray America has not reached her tipping point.

Once reached the end cannot be prevented, but we can so live as to delay it.

When the prophet Isaiah wrote these words was he speaking of his day or ours?

“Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, And equity cannot enter, So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” Isaiah 59:14-15

Historically such a time has been reached three times in America. Three times the people prayed earnestly, and revival spared the nation. Let us so pray that this might be the fourth time.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14

Aids in Discerning God’s Will

Trying to discern the will of God often is a challenge. I sometimes start with praying Dear God, I am pre-committed to doing your will even before I know it. Please reveal it to me. Be sure you are doing God’s will as you know it before asking Him to reveal His unknown will. If you are not doing His will why should He reveal more of His will for you not to do? As in Algebra, start with the known in order to find the unknown. A submitted will is the first step in finding God’s will.

“Then shall you call upon me, and you shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

I use the same principles as Peter which are recorded in Acts 5:1-16. This post will be better understood with your Bible at hand.

Peter was guilty of violating several taboos, things no self-respecting  religious Jew should never do. Two were, he had been in the home of a Gentile, and even eaten with them.

The Jews “contended” with him, which is a nice way of saying they tore into him with accusations and threats. Then in his defense Peter shared principles used in finding God’s will. They were:

* He prayed about it.  (vs. 5)

* He thought the issue through.  He gave study to the issue, he pondered it.  Don’t expect a vision, but don’t ignore circumstances. (vs. 6)

* He considered God’s Word. The equivalent today is there were Scriptural principles to be considered. Even if there is no direct text, just reading God’s Word helps to clear your mind and center your thoughts. (vs. 7)

* He had Spirit guidance. The expression ”the Spirit told me,” today means he had an overwhelming compulsion as to what to do, and it did not contradict  Scripture. Every feeling must be evaluated in light of Scripture. Even though the Jews contended with him, there was no Scripture forbidding what he did. (vs. 12)

* He compared what was happening with other related issues. Employ objective counsel to share with you. (vs. 12)

* He remembered principles found in God’s Word. Search the Scripture for answers. That is why it is expedient to memorize Scripture so you can apply it. 

All of these factors combined to lead him to the conclusion it was OK to go into the house of a Gentile and even eat with them.

As it turned out what he did proved to be correct. It helped open the church to Gentiles, and thus to the world.

After earnestly searching for God’s will and reaching what you understand it to be pray as I: “Dear God as best as I understand it this is your will. That is the only reason I am doing it. If I am wrong, it is out of ignorance not obstinance, please forgive me and redirect my path.”  We can pray: “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Don’t Be Afraid and Don’t Quit

At a fearful time in the life of Joshua, God gave him a charge that is relevant to believers today. In it is this inspiring statement: 

“Be not afraid neither be dismayed.” (Joshua 1:9)

The encouragement found in this statement has never been more needed than in today’s intimidating environment. Compounding personal problems and perplexities is the fact our nation is in a state of flux. Former foundations proven to be substantial are being eroded. Uncertainty leads to unsettlement.

The Greek word for fear is “phobos.” When spelled with an “a” as a prefix it means without fear or fearless. The source of all blessings has instructed us not to fear. The God who said “Let there be light” also has said, “Fear not.” If He was capable of making light, the sun, the moon, and the stars, He is capable of your care, and the meeting of your needs.  How big is your God? Consider the galaxy Andromeda. It is larger than our Milky Way. It is but one of one hundred million galaxies. Echoing through the vastness of that space are His words that are applicable to you at this critical time, “Fear not.”

Jesus is lovingly offering you a set of circumstances which, if responded to properly, will build in you character that is pleasing to Him and profitable for you.

You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it.  In doing so, you reveal your character. The Greek word for man, anthropos, means “the up-looking one.” The God of the one hundred galaxies is deserving of being looked up to.

Trust Him and give Him time to be God. Often He has us in a holding stage in order for us to exercise the antidote to fear, faith.

Then He said, “neither be dismayed.” The word means don’t give up. At the time they were already inclined to give up. If you for any reason are there, nor or at any time near there, don’t be dismayed, don’t quit. Just when they were about to abandon their mission and quit, God said, “Don’t give up.”

Everybody inevitably has losses and defeats. God uses them to redirect the believer in a productive way, so don’t be dismayed, don’t give up. He will help you find another way. All the trials you go through in life are making you stronger. You will see God working in your life if you’re a Christian and don’t quit following Him.

When Joshua and his people suffered a humiliating defeat at the small town of Ai, it would have been an easy time to give up. Heading the charge and promises of God they went on to possess the land.

God admires faith and courage so very much that He makes Himself the constant companion of those who exercise them. 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

May you be as emboldened as Joshua and they who abandoned themselves to God’s plan with their eyes on Him. They resolved, “All that you command us we will do…”

They had reason not to give us as is noted in the rest of Joshua 1:9: “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”