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Listen while you read: "Holy God We Praise Thy Name"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 10:16 – I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (NIV)
Many mornings, my husband and I enjoy watching birds come to feed outside our window. Among them, we see doves, moving about gently and quietly. They never harass the smaller birds or fight with each other. They emanate an aura of peace. No wonder the dove has become a symbol of peace.
One morning, the tranquility was disturbed. We looked out and saw on the ground a small hawk standing with its claws firmly gripped into the body of an unlucky dove. Although the two birds were nearly equal in size, they were clearly no equal match. The hawk, true to its nature, had attacked and killed the dove. For the next hour, we watched this hawk greedily feast on its prey — plucking away the feathers and gorging on the flesh.
That's nature — a constant battle between predators and prey. Sadly, this same pattern has characterized much of human history. We experience it ourselves. Predator-like people are everywhere. At some point, we may find ourselves victimized or targeted by one — perhaps without realizing it (at first). Jesus warned us about people who "come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves". (Matthew 7:15 NIV) They are masters at playing on guilt — while lacking it themselves.
The hawk attack in my backyard reminds me of a recent experience in which I felt like prey. I saw little chance of rising above the situation — whether by peaceful placating or by firm resistance. During that experience, I found myself empathizing with characters in the Bible like the psalmists and the apostles, who experienced the grip of predators without possessing any means, apart from God, of rising above their circumstance.
Since Bible times, many of God's people have suffered like the dove in my backyard. Even if they could have found a way to attack and overpower their "enemy" they did not do so. Why? Because they possessed the nature of a dove. That was their identity through their union with Christ. They could not be something they were not. They could not become a hawk.
So it is for you and me. If we are truly in Christ, any hawk-like behaviour is outside of our nature. Remember, our old ways of self-interest and self-management were put to death with Christ. Now, God is our defence and protector. We trust Him to empower us to live courageously with the shrewdness of a snake and the innocence of a dove among people who perpetually strive against each other.
Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (NIV)
Prayer: Lord, our weak faith often tempts us to betray our identity in Christ, and through our actions, to bring dishonour to Your name. We have at times recoiled in fear or attacked in self-defence. We do not justify this behaviour, no matter how wrong our opponent has been towards us. Rather, we humbly turn to You and accept Your forgiveness. Work in us that we may be faithful "doves" of peace and forgiveness — no matter the cost. Amen.
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Thanks Diane for a good word this morning.
Hi Diane; Well written. Did you know that in Gods nature, animals (preditors) only kill what they need to eat whle us people will kill for any charismatic politician. (greed)
I really enjoy your story “The Hawk And The Dove”.
I can totally identify with your message of today, Diane.
I have also seen a hawk attack – it is swift and deadly. As Christians we too, as you say, experience similar attacks in our lives, but praise the Lord, He is good and kind and a safe place to be.
Thank you Diane for pointing out in your devotional the way we might cope with being prey in the vicissitudes of life. One can never expect that one is ever free from onslaught but your last paragraph, so well worded, gives us wonderful assurance. Our Saviour can solve every problem.
Thank you for a devotion of peace, peace, God’s peace.
“On the wings of a snow-white dove….”
Jesus came to make peace with God for all of us sinners.
May God help us to pass on His peace.
You quoted the verse in which Jesus warned about people who “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves”. (Matthew 7:15 NIV) They are masters at playing on guilt – while lacking it themselves.
Just a few days ago two fellows who seemed to be pretty good guys, suddenly set off two bombs in Boston. You know the story, I’m sure. How long had they worn sheep’s clothing, while inwardly planning their attack?
Just thinking of my friend who raved on about the beauty of a hawk. Sometimes our eyes deceive us don’t they.
Today’s devotions was very special and sweet and sooooo true. Thank you and God Bless.