Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Perfected Golden Rule – The Fifth Beatitude

Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Mer·cy – noun
• compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
• synonyms: leniency, clemency, compassion, grace, pity, charity, forgiveness, forbearance, quarter, humanity.

This be-attitude made me think first of the Golden rule. Then it dawned on me the Golden rule is more about personally controlling behavior. Do unto others…as you would have them do unto you. Certainly a good thing to practice.

The order of this blessing for these people of mercy is about behavior controlled by The Perfected Golden Rule. It has become “Do unto others…what has been done unto you.”

Another Kind of Life – The Fourth Beatitude

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

It’s a fact of be-ing that food and water are real physical needs of life the body craves. Our bodies make us very aware of those needs. It was that word “craves” that connected my mind to this blessing this morning. It means to long for, yearn, desire, want, wish or need.

This is Jesus at his best using something as basic and daily as hunger and thirst as images to remind us there’s Another Kind of Life to long for, yearn, desire, want, wish or need – a life of righteousness.

The blessing is two-fold: to crave and to be filled.

Be-ing vs Choosing – The Third Beatitude

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

An interesting word play occurred to me this morning. Are these Be-Attitudes? All Jesus’ blessings are about “Be-ing vs Choosing.”  Word play is not an indication of lack of seriousness especially when it comes to the Word of God. Quite the contrary, it’s an involved mind challenge to consider a meaning that may be deeper than the mere letters that form this known word – meek.

• Meek – adjective: quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.
• Synonyms: submissive, yielding, obedient, compliant, tame, biddable, tractable, acquiescent, humble, deferential, timid, unprotesting, unresisting…

The inheritance of land has always been a symbol of security…and power. Way back at the beginning God saw land as a promise and a blessing for his people as he moved them into position to fulfill his plans to make them his heirs on earth.

That’s proved to be tough to work out because “choosing” has become the focus rather than be-ing. That change in focus has resulted in the competition, wars, greed and deceit that plague our world. Jesus says be-ing meek is the answer to the mystery of inheriting this blessing. That’s a mind challenge!

Unfamiliar Reality

The Second Beatitude
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Mourning exposes a depth of emotions associated with loss that are an Unfamiliar Reality to us. Loss forces us to experience those emotions and at same time admit our coping skills will not comfort us.

This is the reality that Jesus simple words address: mourning releases us from our need to cope with those unbearable circumstances so we are ready for the blessing of comfort.

Fallen Through the Cracks

Matthew 5:3 The First Beatitude
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

You’ve probably heard expressions like “high spirited or free spirited. Those expressions describe people whom God has chosen to give personalities that are more demonstrative, more confident of their place in life and are therefore more noticeable.

I doubt you’ve ever even noticed anyone you’d call “poor in spirit.” Maybe that’s why God has chosen this apparently very small group to be His number one focus. He noticed them precisely because their life is not about depending on their own spirit at all. Somehow they’ve Fallen Through the Cracks of praise and attention in our world but  they’ve caught a glimpse of a different kingdom and another Spirit that sustains them.

Out of the Ashes

John 12:4 & 5
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.

Judas—The betrayer who is politically correct…and corrupt. Maybe that’s a new term, “politically corrupt.” Judas—the master of diverting attention away from himself while appearing to be concerned for others. Why would Jesus have chosen him? I started to ask how Judas could have done what he did but came to my senses. Why would Jesus have chosen me? How many times have I said something I thought was truth only to find my ethics were more situational than real?

Judas wasn’t the only disciple confronted with his bad choices and really he was no worse than the others who turned away when the circumstances were tough. But…there is one BIG difference that is the essence of this Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  When reality interrupted the corrupted, the others knew where to turn for restoration. Judas’ faith was in his actions and his choices. He is a sad reminder of the reality sin forces us to deal with: repentance. Even that has critical choices [1] WHAT you repent of…not merely being sorry you were stupid or caught and [2] WHO you repent to.  There is only one who has the power to pick you Out of the Ashes of sin and restore you…Jesus.

Take the Package Deal

I Timothy 1:12-16 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

The Apostle said “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” There’s not one of us who doesn’t want mercy and grace. It reminded me of buying a car in a way.  Features you might want often come packaged together so you can’t just take one, you have to take them all.

You don’t just get mercy and grace as individual features either.  They come packaged “with the faith and love that are in Christ.” They are not meant to excuse our ignorance and unbelief. They give us the courage to admit the power of Christ to recover the destructive effects of our ignorance and unbelief “as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”

Take The Package Deal.

Before and After

I John 5:6-10a & 11-12a NASB
6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life…

“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…”. The Spirit, the water and the blood have been, and are still, testifying in your life. It’s easy to recognize that testimony after you’ve been adopted into God’s family. But what about those years before? Those three were not just standing in the wings hoping you might come to your senses. They were there testifying to you about the reality of Christ.

I was baptized when I was about 12. There was some huddled whispering among relatives at that time that was mysterious to me. Some of the mystery became clear shortly after my baptism when I learned the only Dad I’d ever known wasn’t my birth father at all but the process for adoption had been put in motion. The name I had been baptized with wasn’t actually my new name…yet. That process took years but I came home one day to find my Dad with papers in hand weeping because I was finally his daughter.

It doesn’t make a bit of difference what the human details were. The participants might not have been perfect or even particularly religious. The Lord in his mercy, saw that young girl and was testifying to her about another adoption that would take another 15 or 16 years: this time by a heavenly Dad.

Like me, you were not adopted into God’s family because he’d waited long enough…or by the skin of your teeth…or your wise choices. Long before that adoption became a reality there was a process in motion: testimony was happening.  Don’t overlook it. That recognition can be one of the strengths in your life. Think back and see for yourself how faithful God has been to you both Before and After.