Matthew 5:6, Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Understanding the fourth beatitude turns on the readers understanding what Jesus meant by righteousness. In ancient Judaism, righteousness meant “to acquit, vindicate, restore to a right relationship.” The righteous are those who maintain right relationships—with God and with the people around them. On the basis of right relationships, those who commit infractions are acquitted of guilt provided If your hearts were genuinely in the right relationship with God.

Have you received the blessing of being filled with right relationships? It flows from meekness (the third beatitude) because we can only form genuinely right relationships with others when we cease making all our actions revolve around ourselves. Do you hunger and thirst for right relationships—with God, with your co-workers, with your family, and your community? Hunger is a sign of life. We are genuinely hungry for good relationships if we yearn for others for their own sake, not just as candy or snack food for meeting our own needs. If we see we have God’s grace for this, we will hunger, thirst for right relationships, not only with God, but with the people, neighbors, with whom we work or live.

When you’re really hungry or thirsty, you’ll do anything you can to get food or drink. In fact, it becomes all you can think about. When you are desperate for a drink, you don’t want to chat with a friend for two hours about your neighbors’ best recipes. Instead, you want to do whatever you can to quench your thirst.

This is a lot like what today’s Bible verse is challenging us with. It’s telling us that we should be hungry and thirsty for righteousness. Doing the right things for God’s Kingdom. It should be something that we’re going after and wanting.

Challenge yourself today to zealously pursue after righteousness. Don’t become so used to your friends and what’s going on around you that you forget that you should be hungering and thirsting to get to know God better, to become .001% more like Him every day. Determine to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Matthew 5:6 The Message

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

We each understand the concept of hunger quite differently. You might be hungry, even desperately starving for the want of a bowl of rice right now. I do not know what hunger feels like to other people, but I can only tell you what it feels like to me. What usually starts out as a mild feeling of discomfort from the stomach turns into a growing and maturing hunger that affects my entire body.

I know that if I allow my hunger to go on long enough, I get a big headache and experience dizziness. My body is screaming into my mind to tell my feet and my hands to get into the kitchen and do something fast! I am told that other people do not feel this way. That is why they will eat a later dinner at 8pm at night. The hunger pangs in my body would become so great I could never wait that long.

Thirst operates in the same way. When you are thirsty you can hardly think of anything else. Your mind becomes consumed with needing water to drink. There is nothing better than a cold glass of water when you are truly thirst.

After working outside noon day heat, you do not want anything else to drink than water. Nothing else will satisfy the needs of the body more. You do not want to do anything else – just drink. Hunger and thirst will become so great that you cannot do anything else. When our desperate hunger and thirst kick in, life not so subtly stops, and we drink, quench our thirst and eat, fill our hunger.

This has become a metaphor for a having a strong desire. When a sports team wins a game, the coaches and athletes will often talk about being hungry for being and becoming a champion. The idea is that of a driving pursuit and a growing and maturing passion that comes from deep within the soul of that person. Another word which may help us to understand the idea is ambition.

Hunger and Thirst

With this in mind, let us listen to the words of Jesus as he continues to teach the crowds which have now come and gathered to hear him speak on the mountain. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6 ESV)

Therefore, hungering and thirsting is not any one person’s mild desire. To say that you are hungry for something does not mean that you do not really care if you have it or not. To say that you are thirsting for something does not mean that you are presently content or satisfied. Hungering and thirsting speaks of having a deep craving, a zealous yearning, and wildly passionate pursuit. The scriptures speak of having this brand of hunger and thirst in a number of places.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1–2 ESV)

Like a deer panting and thirsting for flowing streams of water is the thirst that David and his whole entire being has for the living God. Listen to David again:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1 ESV)

We are reading these so we can have a sense of what the scriptures mean to hunger or thirst for the things of God. David does not speak of being mildly interested in God. He earnestly seeks the Lord. His souls’ thirsts for the Lord.

His flesh faints for the Lord. Do you hear the passion? Do you hear the desire dripping from his words? Now let us turn our attention back to Matthew 5:6, notice what Jesus says those who belong to his kingdom hunger and thirst for.

For Righteousness

Notice that Jesus says that our passionate pursuit is not simply for the Lord but for righteousness. Righteousness is used a few different ways in the scriptures.

When we read the writings of the apostle Paul, righteousness refers to the idea of justification. Paul will often write about how we are not righteous, but God makes us righteous through the cross of Jesus.

Justification is the word that we typically use to describe this.

Is Jesus saying the kingdom of heaven belongs to the people who desire to be justified, by God? While we could argue that this is true, in Matthew’s gospel the word righteousness is never used in this way like the Apostle Paul uses it.

To see how Matthew uses the word righteousness in his gospel, we can look a few sentences down the page and understand the meaning. Look further into the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10 ESV)

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20 ESV)

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1 ESV)

We will examine the meaning of these teachings in later lessons.

For now, it is enough for us to observe Matthew is not using righteousness in these places to describe God justifying us or declaring us righteous.

Rather, righteousness is here used in Matthew’s gospel in terms of personal righteousness by doing God’s will.

God’s people are those who passionately, zealously desire to do God’s will and equally pursue to keep God’s requirements. They look at God’s laws and ways as spiritual necessities to be desired just as food and drink are physical necessities for physical life. Covenanting to, conforming to God’s will be the highest desire.

The character of God’s people is that deep inside their souls they long so much for a godly life and relationship with God as much as a starving person long for his next meal or as a parched tongue longs for drops of water. God’s people are desperate for the things of God. All which we desire is to be right with our God.

It is an interesting and sad to note how modern Christianity seems to have no concern for right living or holiness. Right living appears to be inconsequential in these days. People think that they are Christians or that they serve the Lord while their desires are for any and everything else but God. Their desire for God is mild curiosity and not a burning passion or raging hunger. We cannot think that a luke warm, mild interest in God is what Jesus is calling for in today’s text. Listen very carefully to what Jesus said unto the Samaritan woman at the well.

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 ESV)

Just slow down over those words, “If you knew the gift of God” and if you knew who is speaking to you, you would have asked him for the drink and received Living water. Those who know the gift of God and comprehend who Jesus is and what he is offering hunger and thirst for righteousness. Right living becomes as passionately, zealously important to them as food and drink. These are the ones who can never get enough of feasting and thirsting God’s word. They see their relationship with God as Isaiah pictured it: the eating of rich food (Isaiah 55:1).

Satisfied

Looking for satisfaction is the pursuit and goal of our culture.

All magazine headlines and television advertisements suggest that what they offer you will truly satisfy. Everyone wants to be satisfied. We try to fill our hunger and thirst with what will only eventually rust and be thrown away.

It is sad how often we desire lesser things. The prophet Jeremiah pictured this problem in the second chapter of his book where the people are described as having broken cisterns that do not hold water.

The reason it is so foolish is because God is offering flowing, clean, clear water. Yet we try to drink old, stale water thinking we will be satisfied in this way.

This is why the scriptures so often tell us to be godly and pursue righteousness and holiness decisively, exactly and exactingly like our lives depended on them. Satisfaction can only come through living such a lifestyle. Those in the kingdom understand that only filling and satisfaction is Christ. Listen to Jesus again:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35 ESV)

The more we are satisfied with God, the more we are dissatisfied with “rust worthy” substitutes. What Jesus has done is create in us a hunger for God. The pursuit of His righteousness destroys our own self-righteousness because the pursuit reinforces our poverty of spirit, insufficiency, and need for repentance.

What Jesus says challenges each and every one of us to ask ourselves what we hunger and thirst for. Salvation comes only to those who truly and deeply want every last ounce and scrap of it. Our spiritual poverty and mourning over our sins should compel us to 100% desire salvation, restoration, reconciliation, and righteousness. Those who hunger for God desire to conform to the will of God.

I am going to say this another way I hope will make us a little uncomfortable so that we clearly get Jesus’ message. Jesus is calling for starving believers. We are fanatical about eating and drinking. We never miss meals and very regimented in our eating, drinking throughout the day. We absolutely must eat and drink!

Now we have read all of these passages that tell us that Jesus is to be our food and drink. We want Jesus and we do not want any substitute. We want time with him, and nothing can change us from that effort and passionate pursuit. Jesus is zealously upon our minds like food and drink are when we all hunger and thirst. We are called to be 1000% consumed with Jesus and desire his ways in our lives.

What is your passionate pursuit in life? What satisfies you? What do you hunger and thirst for? Your hungry heart, Your thirsty soul, Your time, your money will reveal those answers to you. Only Jesus can satisfy. Give your life to him today.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Helen Howarth Lemmel, 1922

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

His word shall not fail you he promised
Believe him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Father, my Guide, illuminate my mind so I can understand how you want me to live. Your word tells me that people of integrity who follow your instructions are joyful. You have said that those who obey your laws and search for you with all their hearts are blessed and happy. I want that joy! Holy Spirit, please guard me against allowing evil to influence what I believe and do. Help me walk only in your paths. May my actions consistently reflect what you have said is right and good. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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1 John 3:16-24– By this, do we know the genuine, true love of God? Are we Loving by Deed, and by God’s Truth?

It was perfect LOVE that caused the almighty God act in the affairs of mankind, to send His only begotten Son into the world to become the sin-sacrifice for the entire race of humanity and it was perfect love that caused the Lord Jesus Christ to lay down His life for us. It was perfect love which caused the Lord Jesus to be a perfectly willing sacrifice, to talk the talk and walk the walk all the long and humiliating and painful way to be crucified upon the cruelest criminal’s cross… willingly, so all who believe on Him might not perish but have everlasting life.

Ponder for a while in your 21st century heart those words “perfect love.” What comes into your mind? What thoughts come rushing into your soul that either say; “I can hold my head up high to that one!” or “my head now “comfortably” rests on my knees and my “perfect” shame are resting ever before mine eyes.” Be vigorously and rigorously honest with yourself – God is right beside you!!! Whose standard of “Yeah, I got this love thing down perfectly” “Hallelujah”” are you living, loving, placing before Jesus as your standard of Christianity?

Read and reread Psalm One. Place your standard of “Hallelujah” before God!!!

Now, let us examine today’s text,

1 John 3:16-24 The Message

16-17 This is how we have come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

When We Practice Real Love

18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

In the most perfect example of love in all history, God sent His only Son into the affairs and works of mankind. For the sake of love alone, the Lord Jesus offered for mankind’s consideration the supreme example of ultimate love when He willingly laid down His life for friends and enemies alike. Jesus’ Perfect Love is made manifest in its highest measure at the cross of Calvary and as His children we might ponder our own hyper dramatic, self-serving standard of perfect love.

Mankind is steadily crumpling under the weight of sin and collapsing under the satanic influence of evil, which is suffocating a world in distress, but the true character of the spiritual Christian is based on a godly love and stands in stark contrast with the evil hatred that reigns supreme over this fallen world system.

From our 21st century context we cannot begin to imagine what it cost God the Father to turn His back on His only begotten Son and pour out the full force of His holy hatred of sin… upon HIM. It was for love of us that God the Father poured out the full force of His holy wrath for the accumulated sin of the whole world, upon His innocent and dearly beloved Son – Whom He had loved from before the conception of the universe. And He did it out of LOVE… for the world.

From our 21st century “smart phone” applications we cannot dare presume to comprehend what it cost the innocent Lord Jesus, Who as God incarnate… had to freely lay aside His eternal majesty and supreme glory and be clothed in our decaying human flesh… and then be made indescribable sin for you and for me.

The eternal Creator God demonstrated His perfect standard of love towards us in that while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:6-8), He laid down His perfect life for us and became a perfect curse and a perfect hissing – as the weight of the accumulated sin of the world was laid perfectly upon His shoulders – and He did it for perfect LOVE of an imperfect you and for perfect LOVE of an imperfect me.

When we look at the cross of Christ and the blood that He shed for us at Calvary – we see incarnate LOVE. and we know what real godly love is by this: that the only Son of God, Christ Jesus perfectly laid down His perfect life for us. Ought not we for HIS sake, imperfectly lay down our lives for our imperfect brethren?

One “soul grabbing” “spiritually sobering” passage of biblical text which grabs our attention in this regard is the message of 1 John 3:16-18, where it is written:

1 John 3:16-18 Amplified Bible

16 By this we know [and have come to understand the depth and essence of His precious] love: that He [willingly] laid down His life for us [because He loved us]. And we ought to lay down our lives for the believers. 17 But whoever has the [a] world’s goods (adequate resources), and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him? 18 Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].

What a marvelous, memorable message that is! Let us look at those words and the surrounding context to learn about God’s will for love in our lives.

Love – a recurring theme in this letter. Love for our fellow Christians is one of the dominant themes of this epistle, especially in chapters three and four.

From a whole heavenly host number of angles, the Spirit through John appealed to these first-century disciples to love one another. That is just a part of whom God’s children are, recognizing this truth: “. . . we should love one another” (3:11). Would it be correct to say that God commands members of His church in our own troubled 21st century context to love each other? Read for yourself: “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (3:23).

Love in word – When we read, “. . . let us not love in word or in tongue” (3:18), that is not a divine decree forbidding children of God from verbalizing their love for one another. The point being made here is that we ought to do 100% more than talk about love – we need to show it in our action. Jesus told His apostles,

“. . . I have loved you” (John 13:1-17, 34-35, John 15:9-17). Paul wrote the same thing to the saints in Corinth, saying, “. . . though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved” (2 Corinthians 12:14-15). When it comes from our sincere sacrificial heart, saying, “I love you” doesn’t violate Jesus’ teachings.

Love “in deed and in truth” – Again, that is the plain point of 1 John 3:18. Genuine love for other humans is something that we put into practice.

In this context, we see that such love was exemplified. It was shown by none other than the Lord Himself. What was His greatest manifestation of love for humanity? “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (3:16). What kind of perfect love was that? It was perfect love in perfect action, love sacrificing, love doing what always will be in the very best interest of others.

In this context, we also see that such love is expected of every single follower of the Christ. He exemplified it and He expect it from us, too. In view of what He did for us, we know, “And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (3:16). In this matter, Cain seriously failed his brother (3:12). We must not do the same. When we see our brother in need of material goods, we need to have compassion, open our hearts and our stockpile of blessings, and help! (3:17). Until we grow to the point of putting love into helpful action, we are just talking and tinkering, prancing and dancing around and maybe, deceiving ourselves.

Love in deed and in truth – love from the heart. Immediately following the charge for you and me to love in deed and in truth (3:18), in each of the next three statements/sentences there is reference made to a Christian’s heart. Look at them: “our hearts before Him” (3:19), “our heart” (3:20), and “our heart” (3:21). Our heart may or may not condemn us (3:20,21). God sees! God knows!

Words are words. Action is action. But do the words and/or action come from the heart? Are they sincere before God and man, or are we like the hypocrites of Jesus’ day who looked great on the outside but were a mess within? (Matthew 23:27,28). Yes, God calls us to put love into action, but none of us should believe the faulty notion that all action shows true love. Such is not the case. Action without proper motivation (love!) is empty, fraudulent and seriously fruitless.

Lack of love – This is not a very pretty picture, but it is one which John sets forth before us. If I fail to love my brother in the Lord, which is the same as hating him, that makes me a murderer (1 John 3:15). Is that relevant today? That is what the Bible says, and such language gets my attention. What else?

If a child of God does not love his brother, he is “not of God” (3:10). Such a disciple of Jesus is acting like Cain (3:12). Raise your hand if you want that label (“Acts Just Like Cain”) for your conduct. The world hates us, and we expect that (3:13), but we do not expect to see such among God’s family. What else?

One who does not love his brother abides in death, which is separation from God (3:14). The saint who hates his brother is a murderer, and the consequence of being a murderer is one does not possess eternal life (3:15). You see, my own relationship with God, depends on exactly “how do I treat other people now?”

Think about it.

Ponder it in your heart.

Ponder it in your soul.

Ponder it in your strength.

Ponder it in your weakness.

Ponder it in all of your imperfections.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us pray,

Today, O’ God, this is my perfect plea, Lead Me out upon thy Level Ground!

Loving Father of mine, teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your Holy Spirit lead me forth on level ground. I see your faithfulness and goodness in what you have done for me throughout my life. I think about all these things, and I thirst for you. Let me hear of your unfailing love every morning, for I am trusting you. Show me how to talk. Show me where to walk, for I give my whole self to you. Keep me on firm footing for the glory of your name. Alleluia! Amen.

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Psalm 1: God’s Stability within an Unstable World: The Blessed Man Feeds Himself, and He Nourishes Himself, by the Whole Word of God.

Is there any way in which we can be secured in this ever-changing world? Is our “impossible” dream of stability possible? Is revival and renewal even possible within our hearts and within our souls today? The lessons in Psalms One serves as great encouragement for those who dare to walk upright in a fallen world.

Psalm 1 The Message

How well God must like you— [when]
    you don’t walk in the ruts of those blind-as-bats,
    you don’t stand with the good-for-nothings,
    you don’t take your seat among the know-it-alls.

2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.

4-5 You’re not at all like the wicked,
    who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
    unfit company for innocent people.

God charts the road you take.
The road they take leads to nowhere.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Is there any way that we can be secured in this ever-changing world? Is our “impossible” dream of stability possible? Do we all still accept that the word “impossible” ought to be spoken? Is revival and renewal even possible today! Is it possible that our hearts and our souls and our hands and our feet and our lives can once again reach our atrophying spirits? Are we so weighed down by the whole host of worldly concerns that our heavenly focus is been distorted, pressed down to the thinness of a penny or a dime through an arcade machine?

There is only one important difference between saints and sinners, and that is the life blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus. There is nothing else that separates us. We are Godly for one reason and one reason only, because we have accepted the full sovereignty of God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in our lives and been born from above and have taken on the nature of Christ by believing in the full life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus through faith.

The lessons in Psalms one serves as great encouragement for those who dare to walk upright in a fallen world. Are these verses then instructing us not to ever or even associate with sinners? Not really. Jesus hung out with the sinners of His day – the tax collectors and even the “questionable” women, but he did it to redeem them, not to gain their supposed “wisdom”. There is a difference.

These verses are instructing us to not draw wisdom from the “counsel of the ungodly” or hang out with the “scornful” – those who dare to mock God.

So many times, we try to gain wisdom from universities, scholars, and leaders in our country that don’t know God. They don’t have any understanding of what is right or wrong, or what is truth. Listening to them can give us knowledge, but they don’t hold ultimate wisdom. We have to pray that we are not led down the wrong “rabbit trail,” the wrong path as “knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:2).

That is why who we are listening to and whom we are walking with alongside and within our lives is so critically important. Priority 1: We need godly wisdom.

True wisdom is only found in one place as it says in verse 2, the “law of the LORD”. The blessed man finds his delight in the “law of the LORD”.

First the psalmist makes it clear that there are only two roads in life. There are only two paths of life. The godly path or the ungodly path are manifested in the choices we make. Our decisions are important. First, everyone must decide.

God graciously granted us the gift of “self-determination.” Everyone single one of us freely choose the “path of life” as he or she pleases. The decision is yours. The decision is mine as are the consequences. Secondly, not choosing is not an option. Even our indecision is a choice either for God or against God. Finally, no one gets to freely choose the consequences of the choice. Each choice is leading us somewhere. Every decision is drawing us closes to God or a way from God.

We must choose to decide whether or not to allow God access into our lives. In order to experience change, we must desire change. We must desire to embrace either the ways of the acculturated world or God, God’s word. It is a choice. We must be opened to God. If we are going to live stable in an unstable world, then make good choices about where you walk, where you sit and where you stand.

Psalm 63 The Message

63 God—you’re my God!
    I can’t get enough of you!
I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
    traveling across dry and weary deserts.

2-4 So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
    drinking in your strength and glory.
In your generous love I am really living at last!
    My lips brim praises like fountains.
I bless you every time I take a breath;
    My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

5-8 I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;
    I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!
If I’m sleepless at midnight,
    I spend the hours in grateful reflection.
Because you’ve always stood up for me,
    I’m free to run and play.
I hold on to you for dear life,
    and you hold me steady as a post.

9-11 Those who are out to get me are marked for doom,
    marked for death, bound for hell.
They’ll die violent deaths;
    jackals will tear them limb from limb.
But the king is glad in God;
    his true friends spread the joy,
While small-minded gossips
    are gagged for good.

Every moment we are alive and upright and breathing we are constantly and continuously at a crossroads we cannot always see or even be aware of in life. We will constantly and continuously encounter a series of choices and then more choices after that with each breath we take and with every step we take. Some are so easy we do not even think about them overmuch – its automatic. Then we inevitably run into to those moral and ethical crossroads where the decision of what path to take becomes muddled by “what everyone else does.”

Every crossroads has an end point where we must stop what we are doing in that exact and exacting moment and ponder, decide to go to the left or to the right of to go straight or to stay put. Now, what is it which dictated direction?

There are thousands upon thousands of books which offer a whole host of ideas, guidance, recommendations and suggestions. Many are quite worthy to giving serious consideration to. Very intelligent and well-meaning people write them. Their hearts are in a good place. Their experiences are completely legitimate. Their honesty and integrity in communicating their care of others is crystal. I consider quite a few of these writings in my researching for each devotional.

Yet, to get the maximum balance of “do I or do I not” apply their principles, I weigh them heavily with and against the Word of God revealed in Scriptures. God has got a far better grip on my and everyone else’s reality than I ever do. I accept that God’s wisdom has some very significant lessons for me to ponder over through a disciplined course of study and prayer and waiting on my God. God has all of the answers I will ever need in my life – His methods are better!

What does that mean?

The law of the Lord is the instructions, teachings, and words of God that are superior to the words of man. That is where the “blessed man” finds his hope, and what we need to cleave to. The blessed man (or woman) knows that above all his earthly wisdom and thoughts, he can run to the words of God and find truth and life. He (or she) knows above everything that his bread and his food, his nourishment for life are found exclusively in one place – the Word of God.

So, what does he and she do?

The blessed man meditates on the “law” and the teachings of God “day and night”. He or she cannot ever get enough. He and she always put the words of God always before them and chews on them over and over and over again. He does not stop regardless of how difficult the words are [to hear and obey].

The blessed man who is constantly meditating on the Word of God is BLESSED. He is like a deeply rooted tree that grows fruit and is nourished by the waters of God. He doesn’t get weak or get sickly; the blessed man, woman is producing life and has vibrancy. This verse says that “whatever he does shall prosper.”

Why is he prospering? Why is he or she blessed?

Because they have found THE source of life – the Word of God, the teachings of the law, the teachings of Jesus. They have found stability and freedom and will produce good fruit that is eternal because they are focused on eternal things.

Colossians 3:1-4 The Message

He Is Your Life

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

I sometimes wish prosperity in our souls and in our families happened by osmosis. I wish a fairy godmother just waves a wand and we would prosper.  

I wish that prosperity where our businesses or jobs just flourished was the result of just a snap of our fingers, but it was never meant to work that way.

It takes hard work and being connected to a Source. It takes running to God and staying tied to the Source of Life especially on these days when the adversary is fighting tooth and nail to keep us from the presence of God. If we are planted by the deeply refreshing rivers of the presence of God, we know what we will reap eventually. We will reap prosperity in our souls, our families, our finances, and our lives. We will find the ultimate HOPE and PROSPERITY which is JESUS.

That is God’s desire for us that we would be fully fed and watered, so that we will produce fruit. Isn’t that your desire as well?

Proverbs 5:15 says “Drink water from your own cistern and running water from your own well.”

It is time for the 21st century manifestation of the Body of Christ to grow up and just learn how to water and feed themselves. That is why the Psalms are such a crucial starting place, because they are easy to digest. We cannot continue to depend on others to feed us – we must learn to feed ourselves the Word of God.

1. Make good decisions about where you walk, where you sit and where you stand.

Psalm 1:1-3 AKJV “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditates day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

a. Refuse to walk in the counsel of the ungodly (listen, follow the advice, be influenced by their actions and opinions)

b. Refuse to stand in the way of sinners (live by their choices, practice their lifestyle, nor adopted their attitude)

c. Refuse to sit in their company and partake in their sin (they take comfort in opposition against God)

There are ways that we can be secured in this ever-changing world.

There is a way to fulfil the “impossible” dream God has for us. We can be stable in an unstable environment.

After all the ups and downs experienced in the Joseph’s life, the bible said: Genesis 41:52 Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my suffering.” The word “fruitful” means productive, rich, abundant, successful, fertile and rewarding.

In other words, stability in the midst of instability is very much possible even in this chaotic world which is full of uncertainty and sufferings. In Psalm 1, the Lord reveals to us the secret on how we can be stable in this unstable world. If we are going to live stable lives in an unstable world, study God’s Word, make good choices about where you walk, and where you sit and where you stand.

2. Make good decisions about what we delight in and what we meditate on.

Psalm 1:2 “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law, he meditates day and night.” Those who are blessed by God not only must turn and flee from evil, but they must also build their lives up around the Words of the Lord. They must seek to diligently obey God’s will out of hearts that genuinely take great pleasure in knowing God’s way and word. Their heart must be captivated by His Living Word (Hebrews 4:12). Meditating on His word allows God’s word to shape our thinking, guide our actions, control our emotions and transform our lives.

3. Make good decisions about where we are planted because where we are planted determines our productivity.

Psalm 1:3 “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”

The outcome of those who faithfully seek God and His word is fruitfulness. The word planted talks about stability. It is one of the CONDITIONS which should be met before our lives become spiritually fruitful. The word of God has become the moral FOUNDATION of their life. (Psalm 119:105, 2 Timothy 3:10-17)

This third verse from Psalm One describes the benefits of a stable life as a life full of God’s blessing and favor. I believe these verses contain the secret of a fruitful and stable life in this unstable world. We must choose an upright walk against the evil system of the world. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.” We must choose a righteous stand with God and His word which is contrary to acculturated ways of the world. We must choose not to stand in the way of sinners or to sit on compromising seat with the scorners.

If we are going to live stable in an unstable world, I must choose to witness to sinners but the fellowship of the saints. I must develop a heart full of passion for the word of God. I choose to delight is in the law of the LORD and to fill my mind with the word of God by meditating in it day and night.

4. Make good decisions about what it means to be a godly and righteous.

The righteous in these verses are those whose lives are marked by consistency and stability between their Christian walk and talk. How consistent are you?

Their lives are certified by effectiveness, productivity. How productive are you?

John 14:11-14 The Message

11-14 “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.

The righteous are those lives which are proven by evidence of transformation and productivity and recovery. How much sin do you tolerate in your life?

Finally, their lives are those which are confirmed by God’s favor, success and prosperity. “Whatever he does prospers”

Are you a prosperous person in your walk with God?

The strength of our stability always depends on the foundation where we stand. Christ and his word should always be the foundation of our life. A favorable environment increasing productivity and the blessings of God flow freely!

We must be born again with His life, filled with His Holy Spirit, and then discipled and disciplined into His daily food and water – the Word of God. This is the only sure and genuine path to maturity, substance, and true prosperity.

“For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (Verse 6)

Psalm 1:6

I love the promise in verse 6 that the “LORD knows the way of the righteous.”  The Lord is aware of where we are going. He is intimately involved in our lives, and he has numbered even the hairs on our heads. (Matthew 10:30) It is so comforting to know that God cares about you and me and that if we call on the Name of the Lord that we will be saved (Acts 2:21). We can rest in those truths.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

When I see, O Lord, the power of your Word, I wonder if I can see the power in my own life? I see the mistakes, and all of the times I walked in the way of the wicked. Forgive me. I have sat down at the table of the ungodly. Your law reveals the path away from evil. Your word is my delight, my satisfaction. I can find no other thing to fill me. Sinful habits, selfish ambitions, unbridled pride all try to fill me up with good things. Like the chaff, the wind blows away the pleasures and I’m left empty. And alone. For God, you see my life when I walk in righteousness. Not because I have to be perfect, but because walking with you makes me righteous. Help me to walk. Help me to meditate. Help me to grow in your instruction. My joy, my fruit, my peace will come from the streams of your living waters. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Our Other Serenity Prayer: You have said, “Seek MY face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I Seek.” — Psalms 27:8 (ESV)

Prayer for Serenity

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

                                            Reinhold Niebuhr

Psalm 27:4-8 Names of God Bible

I have asked one thing from Yahweh.
    This I will seek:
    to remain in Yahweh’s house all the days of my life
        in order to gaze at Yahweh’s beauty
            and to search for an answer in his temple.
He hides me in his shelter when there is trouble.
    He keeps me hidden in his tent.
    He sets me high on a rock.
Now my head will be raised above my enemies who surround me.
    I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy in his tent.
    I will sing and make music to praise Yahweh.
Hear, O Yahweh, when I cry aloud.
    Have pity on me, and answer me.
When you said,
    “Seek my face,”
        my heart said to you,
            “O Yahweh, I will seek your face.”[a]

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

There is something very tender and heartwarming about an all-powerful God urging us, mere humans to draw close to Him.  When we are drawing too close to ourselves and our own carefully manicured well shaven mirrored images. It is in this moment, these moments, when we subtly become most self-critical. It is the place where we do not feel the need or the want or desire to value ourselves.

When God is asking us to move our faces away from our mirrors, seek His face it is His desire for us to learn more of Him, swiftly and thoroughly discard those distorted self-images which separate us from the reality of God’s knowledge of us, from His greater character and His heart. This exposure, this focus on His face causes us to know who He is instead of what He can give. God yearns for fellowship with us and created mankind for this very purpose. His passion and desire for fellowship is fully evident when He calls us His children and friends.

Why should God have us to turn away from ourselves to ask us to seek His face? He is the one who created us in His image, who has woven us together inside our mother’s womb before our mom’s knew of our existence, gave us life and breath and blessed us abundantly. But He does ask us because that is His heart’s very deepest longing, against our fleshly desires, selfish, self-centered selves.  

If we are willing to turn our faces away from our carnival mirrors, to give God our Father greater sovereignty over our created image, He will place His desires within our hearts so that they would replace our own desires, so we walk closely with Him.  As we do, we are blessed abundantly just by being in His presence.  

He calls to our deepest places because He longs for intimacy. God is a God of covenant relationship and calls us away and unto a love encounter with Him.    

King David answered this love call with urgency. Nothing hindered their love for one another. There was no question David could be very hard on himself. David had a vast number of serious personal faults and failures. The Hebrew Testament is strewn with stories of failed fatherhood, adultery, criminality and nearly impossible to imagine levels of intrigue which alienated many from him. Many were the people who wanted no part of David’s character or personality. David could not avoid knowledge and awareness of them. David could not also avoid his own very deep, intimate feelings about Himself turning against him.

Are we ourselves any different from this biblical version of David, the man who God Himself declared to be the “Man after His own Heart?” Not one of us could ever stand up to the full weight of revelation should we genuinely unleash all of our personal mess against ourselves. There is no mirror we would not shatter! There is no tear we would not cry a thousand, thousand times over and over. It is inconceivable we would ever look at ourselves again, have anyone look at us.

But thanks be to God our Father, that we have such a promise from Psalm 27.

Something leaps high and mightily within me when I read how the heart of God responds to our cries and our pleas! In this passage, the first thing we see is the Psalmist acknowledging that the idea of seeking God’s face originated not with us but with God. God extends the invitation to all, but who will hear the cry of His heart and respond? My observation has been that while many acknowledge the face of God, few take time to wait for His presence and to listen to His voice.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “’Seek and keep on seeking and you will find’” (Matthew 7:7, AMP), which echoes the word of the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all of your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, ESV). God absolutely wants to be found, and even absolutely guarantees our success, as long as we absolutely don’t dare give up.

I’ve often felt that God wants to be pursued by us, because that is a sign of our genuine love, so he doesn’t always make it easy to sense his presence and hear his voice. And it is not simply a matter of being a genuine sign of our love – there is something in our faith, hope, love-minded pursuit of God’s face that stirs our hearts to greater love, as long as we don’t let discouragement come in. All God desires to do a “face exchange and transplant.” His beauty for our ugly!

In Psalm 27, however, we see the reply of a willing soul, who responds from the depth of his or her being — from the heart. And from the heart of those weary arises the cry, “I am seeking, and will continue to seek until I find.” After such a pledge, the Psalmist struggles with some doubt, but eventually concludes that he will be successful, if he doesn’t give up: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalms 27:13-14, ESV).

Let us this day strive join our self-weary heart with the Psalmist’ words in his unwavering pursuit, not giving up until we have seen the face of God! There is also no question as to the intent of God’s request unto David and by the vast expansion of time and space and Scriptures. It is an open invitation from a Holy God and requires a response which is full of an absolute expectancy and desire.

Seeking someone else’s image in our mirrors because we are tired of our own, it should be far beyond exciting to seek God’s face and understand Him better.

He constantly gives us this invitation; He continually gives us this incredibly gracious choice so that we might come to see our relationship with Him as free and not like we’re puppets. Our desire for God must be sincere and passionate.

There ought to be nothing more on this earth more important than seeking over own God’s own face and desiring to know Him intimately. The Creator of the Universe created us in His image to share quality fellowship with Him. His love is this simple; His request is simpler………He is saying, “Just be with Me,” that’s all.

One of these days we will simply have to stop beating ourselves up over nothing. Someday we have to agree that it is God’s face alone which is staring back at us when we look into our bathroom or bedroom mirrors. Unto that day, O’ LORD!

Challenge: Seek God’s face. Feed your spirit in the Word.  Ask Him questions about who He is and ask Him to awaken in you a passionate desire to know Him.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us pray,

Faithful Father, thank you that your word revives my soul, gives wisdom to my mind and produces joy in my heart. Your word says that, if I abide in you, I will produce much fruit. Please help me to abide in you and experience your favor, you are able to do far more abundantly than all that I ask or imagine, according to the power at work within me. To you be glory throughout all our generations, forever and ever. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Alleluia! Amen.

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Turn your Eyes upon Jesus. Look Full into His Wonderful Face. The Things of this Earth will Grow Strangely Dim in the Light of His Glory and Grace.

Colossians 3:1-4 New American Standard Bible

Put On the New Self

Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 [a]Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Human beings will all tend to agree that different people have different styles. Different style for our dressing, our getting work done, schedules, you name it.

The daily routine for the average adult is sleep, eat, work, exercise and relax and occasionally a minute or two when they remember to pray. Is this how God expects us to live? This is the world’s prescription that promises to improve your live style but is this really true. If not, why do we even continue doing it?

Why do we not accept God’s prescription to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) Seeking first the kingdom of God is what really benefits the soul, and the human soul is a priceless treasure that is more valuable than the whole world. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

Unfortunately, many today are more concerned about the world than about their souls. Is that not the reason why a person would swallow cocaine pellets knowing that it could lead to death? Is that not the reason why a person would risk his or her life to steal a pair of sneakers or a mobile phone? These people give God little place or visible identity in their daily lives, are more concerned about pleasing themselves rather than pleasing God. They set their hearts on “lethal” earthly temporal things rather than “set their hearts on things above”.

Lifestyles will certainly go a long way to define a person, because other people can watch that person in action. Clearly the lifestyle of worldly values would be different from that of Christian values. Does wearing a necklace with cross on it, make you a person with Christian lifestyle? Instead of asking the question, what is the lifestyle of any particular Christian denomination, it would most certainly be far better for us to ask ourselves the question, what is the lifestyle of faith?

God has not called you and Me to live just for ourselves. Rather, God has called you and me to be some measure of blessing to others. God wants you and me to sacrificially use our hands and feet and gifts and talents to point others to Him.

So, if you’re good at music, begin to look for ways to use that gift to show others the grace, mercy, forgiveness of Jesus. If you’re good at baking, make cupcakes, sell them and use the money to give to missions. Do not let your life be simply all about yourself. Instead, look for any opportunity to be a blessing to others.

You might not feel like you have anything of any worth or value to give. Perhaps you even feel like you are going through something really hard and can’t help someone else in this moment. However true, don’t let those things be excuses. Pray! Strive to not allow your perceived “limitations and challenges” limit God! Beyond “yourself” You are infinitely more powerful than you can ever imagine!

Instead, purpose each day to look to opportunities. All around you, there are people who are in need of comfort. You can take two minutes out of your day and quietly pray for someone. God has placed opportunities all around you. Believe in yourself with the same measure of passion and purpose you believe in God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit as they believe in you!

Determine today to be the day you refocus your priorities and your mindset and deliberately see all the opportunities around you. As you begin to look for them, you will undoubtedly be surprised how many genuinely exist. Pick one and then choose to quietly act on it today. See God doing something great through you!

I am reminded, The Hymn “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” was written by Helen Lemmel, but the real story is about two remarkable women who had much in common; they were contemporaries; both with amazing artistic talents that merged to create one of the most loved spiritual songs of the 19th century. The other woman, her contemporary, was named Fannie Crosby, the blind hymnist.

In 1907, at the age of 43, Helen went to Germany for four years of intensive vocal training, where she met and married her husband. They moved back to the United States in 1911 and she continued singing in the gospel music circuits. Eventually, she became the vocal music teacher at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois.

But then tragedy struck. She developed an affliction that resulted in blindness. Her husband could not cope with the thought of a blind wife, so he abandoned her. She had nowhere to turn but to wholly trust her whole life unto the Lord.

She retired from Moody Bible Institute and then moved to Seattle, Washington where she continued to spend her time to write poems and set them to music. In complete blindness, she would pick out the notes on a small keyboard and call on friends come to her home to record her melodies before she forgot them.

Along the whole long concourse of her years, whenever her friends asked how she was, her frequent reply was, “I am fine in all of the things that count.”

She continued eyes on Him who was sent from heaven, inspired to write her poems until she died at age of 97 years. In all, she authored about 500 hymns.

There are some fascinating similarities between Helen H. Lemmel and Fanny Crosby. Both ladies were very prolific hymn writers and, being totally blind, both used the imagery of looking at and seeing their Savior through the eyes of faith. They could both literally no longer see the world except through Jesus!

Pease pray over living a lifestyle of faith over a lifestyle of “It is no big deal!” Please pray over loving a lifestyle of faith over a lifestyle of “It is no big deal!”

Please pray over living a lifestyle of faith over a lifestyle of “I am no big deal!” Please pray over loving a lifestyle of faith over a lifestyle of “I am no big deal!”

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace. Helen Howarth. Lemmel, 1922

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us pray,

Loving Father, help me to understand the precious relationship I have with Christ and what it means to be in Christ and to be seated with Him in heavenly places. Help me to set my heart on the wonderful things that You have prepared for those that love You, and, more and more, may I be a visual and visualized reflection of Savior Christ to all those I meet today. In His name I pray, AMEN.

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A New Position, A New Reality, A New Focus, A New Perspective – Heavens!!

The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the center of everything which we believe as Christians (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). Without this sacrificial example of life, death of Jesus and His victorious resurrection we have no hope.

As we come to Colossians 3 Paul is eager for the Colossians and all Christians to understand the correlation between the physical death and resurrection of Jesus and the spiritual realities we live and love into, experience as those who believe.

When we come to faith in Jesus our old nature, our old perceptions of self, is put to death. Just as Jesus lived and died, we live and die. In the same way, just as Jesus rose from the dead, we are raised with Him. Through faith we died and through faith we are raised to new life in Him (Romans 6:1-11; Colossians 2:12-13).

All that being said, in Colossians 3 Paul’s whole purpose goes beyond helping us come to understand our position in Christ; he desperately wants believers to understand how this new position should impact the way we live. As those who have a new position and a new reality, we should have a new focus. Our position in Christ as our Lord and Savior should change our affections and our desires.

Colossians 3:1-4The Message

He Is Your Life

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Our Calling from the Throne Room of Creator God: A New Perspective (3:1-2)

As the passage begins Paul makes it clear who his audience is: He’s addressing those who have been raised to new life in Christ. With this established Paul describes the perspective or the focus of those who are in Christ.

Check Your Heart at the Gates of Heaven: What are you pursuing? (vs. 1)

  • Seek the Things– The call is to evaluate your affections. What do you long for, what are you pursuing, what do you desire?
  • That Are Above – Paul defines “above” as the place where Christ is, or more correctly, the position He holds. Savior Christ holds the position of all rule and authority (Ephesians 1:20-23).
  • To seek the things that are above is a call for the Colossians to set their hearts and to orient their minds in light of the ultimate and eternal rule of Christ. Pursue things that are eternal (Matthew 6:33; Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21; Ephesians 1:13-23; Philippians chapter 2; Philippians 3:12-16).

Check Your Mind at the Gates of Heaven: What are you focused on? (vs. 2)

  • How do we seek the things that are above? The next part of the passage gives the answer: it begins by setting our minds on eternal things. As we set our minds on eternal things our pursuits and desires and ambitions (what we seek) will follow.
  • If we are going to faithfully pursue eternal things, we must guard our hearts and our minds and our souls and fight to keep our attention on the things of Christ (Psalm 90:10-12; Proverbs 4:23, 15:11, 21:2; Ezekiel 36:25-28; Matthew 5:8, 6:19-22, Romans 12:1-3; 2 Corinthians 3:1-6; Philippians 3:17-4:1). 

The Reason for placing ourselves at Heaven’s gate: A New Position (3:3-4)

After explaining the call Paul returns to the reason for his admonition: our new perspective is a result of our new position.

  • Our Present Position (vs. 3) As those who are in Christ, we have been united with Him in His death and resurrection; we are “in Him.” Because of our union with Him Christ lives in and through us (Galatians 2:19-21). We have been crucified with Him and we have died with Him and now our whole lives are His, therefore everything we do and say should be impacted by our identity in Him.
  • Our Future Position (vs. 4) Even though we have been given a new position in Christ we are still constrained by the flesh, but this is only temporary. One day Christ will return, and we will join Him in glory (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).

We are Standing at Heaven’s Gate looking for our Direction and Application

  • When live in light of who we are in Christ and set our minds on things above it will keep us from loving the world too much and creating idols out of things that will ultimately let us down. (Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, Mark 4:21-25)
  • When we live in light of who we are in Christ and set our minds on things above we will be guarded against despair when the pressures of life are hard to bear (John 16:29-33, John 17, John 21).
  • When we live in light of who we are in Christ and set our minds on things above we have an anchor for our souls secured in God’s throne room, have strength when the world opposes us and what we believe (Hebrews 6:13-20, 12:1-3.)
  • When we live in light of who we are in Christ and set our minds on things above it will motivate us in our fight against sin (1 John 3:1-3; Romans 6:1-12).
  • When we live in light of who we are in Christ and set our minds on things above we will be more ready and willing to tell others of the hope that we have in Him and of their need for Him (1 Peter 1:13-23).

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Holy God, I ask you to raise me. Teach me like a parent teaches a child. Open my eyes so I seek heavenly things, not earthly things. Change my focus so that I see Christ, and not sin. Love me and nurture me as I grow. Guide me through trials and temptation. In Jesus’ name, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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When You Struggle with Self-Worth, Always Try Hard to Remember this: You Are Somebody Special to God!!! 

From my very earliest of years, I have learned so much from just watching the birds. I was raised by my father in the rural country surrounded by the woods, and we also had access to seven sizable ponds, so birds were frequent visitors. One in particular was a Great Blue Heron which would stop there every year. And even to this day, forty some years after leaving the country, it still does!

Watching these birds teaches me so much about God’s love and provision. A variety of birds visit our trees and our yard in Maryland, included are Robins, cardinals, orioles, blue jays, and hummingbirds.  When I study how far some of these birds travel each year, I marvel at how God sustains them throughout their migrations. It’s a joy to scatter sunflower seeds to help meet their needs.

I’ve also seen graceful herons and colorful wood ducks visit the nearby water ways where I live. A few times, a bald eagle has swooped over the lake to grab a fish for supper. In the winter, I regularly hear owls calling to one another in our woods. Each bird’s personality reflects a different aspect of God’s creativity.

All the birds I see or hear inspire me to praise God for the beauty of his creation.

Yet as wonderful as all of these species of birds are, they pale in comparison to the value and importance we people, God’s Children, have in God’s kingdom.

God, the Author and Creator of our life, through Jesus, affirmed our value with this verse: Matthew 6:26 Amplified 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow [seed] nor reap [the harvest] nor gather [the crops] into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?

When You Struggle with Self-Worth, as all of humanity will from time to time, Pray! Always Try Hard to Remember this: You Are Somebody Special to God!!! 

Matthew 6:25-34 The Message

25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and do not get all worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Today, we are going to continue with the subject theme of “Who Am I,” but I believe it is time to discover who the Bible says we are. We have discovered who the Bible said the men of the bible were, but what does the Bible say about me?

Have you ever felt like a failure in life? Have you ever experienced insecurity? Some are insecure about your appearance, your abilities, your personality, your life, your choices? Have you felt unloved and worthless? Have you ever said the following words: “I am not attractive? I can’t do all the things that person can do. I am not good enough. Nothing good ever happens in my life. I am a failure.”

If your mind is filled or being overwhelmed with thoughts of worthlessness, shame, embarrassment and low self-esteem, valuelessness, then it is time this day to address all of that perceived insecurity. Some may ask; “how do I get rid of insecurity that has been there my whole life?” If you have ever felt that way, you need to listen to the messages for the next few weeks, because the only way we can address all those feelings is by realizing that WE are God’s most prized possession! If God had to choose the finest thing that He has ever created – He would choose you and me! We are somebody extraordinarily special to God!

Those thoughts and feelings of being worthless and devalued surround millions of people around the globe and they are the very worst kind of lies from the devil aimed at getting you so down on yourself that you will never experience God’s abundant best for your life. These thoughts try to get you to feel you are just not or never will be “good enough,” so why would God ever want to bless me?” God does not have one child who is not good enough to receive His love.

There are a whole lot of people who never learn how to enjoy victories in their lives because of such low self-esteem. Jesus said that we are to love one another even as we love ourselves. If you don’t like YOU, how are you ever going to like someone else? Low self-esteem is a result of a lack of knowledge, a lack of what I call “GOD-ESTEEM!”. I am absolutely convinced that the core reason so many Christians live way below their privileges as a child of God is because they don’t know that they are blessed and highly favored of the Lord. My favorite saying is, “I’m healthy, wealthy, wise, blessed and highly esteemed, favored of the Lord!!!”

AS WE STRUGGLE WITH OUR SELF-WORTH

We often spend too much of our time focusing on and prioritizing, losing sight of just exactly and exactingly, how absolutely valuable we are to God. Many of us see easily all of the most beautiful and valued things in God’s creation and in other people. Yet we somehow will refuse to value ourselves in light of how God 100% loves us. Some of us get stuck, struggle with feelings of low self-worth.

“Gee whiz, I have this physical or mental health challenge”, “I have a different standard of acceptability amongst my fellow human beings.” “My value and my self-worth are automatically assigned to me differently.” “As mankind assigns me my value, my self-worth, it automatically becomes my standard of living.”

If you struggle with any of these and similar sounding thoughts of self-worth, let Jesus’ words bring you comfort today. Look at the birds outside your window today, consider how wonderfully, automatically, God cares for them. Then pray about how much more he cares for you every day. How valuable you are to him. How much more could you value yourself when you realize, come to experience, echelons far above mankind’s standard of judgement IS God’s standard of care?

Isaiah 61:10-11 English Standard Version

10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
    my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    to sprout up before all the nations.

As a change of pace, consider the greatest plans and purposes God has for you, in comparison to birds. Then take the risk and take one giant sized baby step out in a bolder more confident, greater faith, trusting in the value and worth which Jesus places on you, rather than choosing a negative thought pattern.

As you meditate on the truth of God’s Word from the Gospel of Matthew, you can begin to see your great value in God’s eyes. You can overcome feelings of low self-worth when you believe Jesus says you are greatly valuable to him. Slowly, and I believe surely and genuinely, those thoughts can be case aside into the vast, immeasurable expanse and depths of God’s great Sea of Forgetfulness!

CELEBRATE GOD DAILY EXACTLY AS GOD IS DAILY CELEBRATING YOU!!!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, PRAY!

Let us set aside what we perceive and believe to be our value is to the world,

Psalm 8 Names of God Bible

Psalm 8

For the choir director; on the gittith;[a] a psalm by David.

Yahweh, our Adonay, how majestic is your name throughout the earth!

Your glory is sung above the heavens.[b]
From the mouths of little children and infants,
    you have built a fortress against your opponents
        to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens,
    the creation of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars that you have set in place—
        what is a mortal that you remember him
            or the Son of Man that you take care of him?
        You have made him a little lower than yourself.
        You have crowned him with glory and honor.
        You have made him rule what your hands created.
        You have put everything under his control:
            all the sheep and cattle, the wild animals,
            the birds, the fish,
            whatever swims in the currents of the seas.

Yahweh, our Adonay, how majestic is your name throughout the earth!

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Asking and Answering the Questions: “Who Am I?” “What is My Purpose?” Finding your Place & Purpose in life.

1 Chronicles 17:16-21English Standard Version

David’s Prayer

16 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 17 And this was a small thing in your eyes, O God. You have also spoken of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and have shown me future generations, [a] O Lord God! 18 And what more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant. 19 For your servant’s sake, O Lord, and according to your own heart, you have done all this greatness, in making known all these great things. 20 There is none like you, O Lord, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 21 And who is like your people Israel, the one[b] nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making for yourself a name for great and awesome things, in driving out nations before your people whom you redeemed from Egypt?

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

People need and want to feel important and needed. They want to believe that their life has meaning, that their life matters muchly, and they are valuable. We need to know that, from birth to death, the lives we lived mattered to someone beyond ourselves. Our hopes, our dreams, our cherished aspirations mattered. We have a place and purpose in life which is something that comes to have a meaningful place in the course of life. Someone loves us, makes us valuable. A husband or a wife, children and grandchildren, friends, a great job, a career.

There are and always will be arguments in any workplace that the worker has because he feels he deserves more pay than what he is getting. People will tend to always feel unrecognized and that they deserve more than they are getting.

David had decided that he wanted to build a temple for God. God loved his heart but told him that he was not the one to do it, but his son would build the temple. God also promised him that he would always have a son sitting on the throne.

David was thoroughly overwhelmed with what God had said and asked who he was that God would do this for him. He did not get angry with God, but truly understood the favor that God was giving him and could not understand it.

It is common for believers to develop the same attitude that the world has. They often feel that they deserve to have the absolute best of everything, and then get far above, beyond upset when God does not give them something they desire.

The reality is that no person really deserves anything but painful death from God. From true paradise, Sin has brought death upon every person, including believers. Yet, God loved people so much that He provided a way out of that death. He has given every believer unmerited favor upon their lives. (John 3:16)

In every believer, God has poured out many blessings and His favor in ways that the world cannot understand.

Take a look at your own life. How has God blessed you over the days and years? Despite any situation you may be going through or have gone through, God has still given you great favor. God will continue to shower great favor upon you.

God has also spoken His abundance of blessings over your life and promised a great future. Your future includes eternal life with no more pain or suffering.

Over time God has already brought you through many things which you did not deserve to receive or then survive from. God did this because of His great love for you, not because you deserved anything. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

LIVING A LIFE OF PURPOSE: SELF – REFLECTION

David left his extravagant palace, went into the Tabernacle and sat down before the Lord and he asked God to enlighten his soul as to why he deserved anything like what he had just been promised – an eternal kingdom in all of the heavens.

David had been humbled more so than at any time in his life of successes and his life of vast and catastrophic failures. David realized that something beyond what he knew he deserved had just been guaranteed by God. David was asking himself many tough questions and he was not able to provide himself with any easy answers which made the least bit of sense to him. David was genuinely lost in the moment, this crossroads between his temporary Kingship and his death. Something just did not make any sense to him. He had great wealth; he had a reputation as the greatest King, he had incredible personal power to change the course of his nation’s history. Only now, God has called him away from himself.

Understanding yourself at a deeper level is essential to living a life with purpose.

So often we look outwards to find peace, contentment, comfort and compassion – for ourselves and for others. What if we could, instead, try to find these deeper feelings within ourselves, enhancing awareness, emotional intelligence, goal achievement and the ability to live a life with purpose?

Self-reflection is absolutely necessary if we are to be clear about our purpose in life. Being clear about one’s purpose brings meaning, perspective and adds enjoyment to life.

As part of my ministry, and because I am interested in what factors lead to confidence, happiness and success, I am always wondering to what measure, to what degree do people actually rely on external feedback for confidence and self-esteem, feeling good about themselves, feeling purposeful and valued.

While it’s always a wonderful feeling and confidence builder to receive positive feedback, indeed it is absolutely necessary, to receive both positive and negative feedback from others about how your actions influence the way others perceive you, it is also crucial to listen to your own inner voice. If you do not know who you are and what you’re abundantly passionate and purposeful about—and like it—it will be close to impossible for you to be express your best and most valued self to the world and to follow the route that matters most, works best for YOU.

5 benefits of reflection for living a life with purpose

  1. Reflection transforms thoughts into genuine learning about how beliefs and values affect happiness, life choices and goal achievement. Understanding how your beliefs and values affect you is the first step towards uncovering your life’s purpose.
  2. Taking time to reflect on challenges, approaches and options, increase self-awareness which is a key component of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a critical life and leadership skill.
  3. Improve empathy levels and understanding of others by reflecting on your relationships. Forming connections, building close relationships are key to a live well-lived.
  4. Spark your creativity by keeping a notebook handy for when ideas strike. Take time to reflect on the pro’s, cons, compromises and possibilities of your ideas so that you are reasonably clear on which ideas are those that matter to you.
  5. Increase focus, productivity and goal achievement by writing down your plans and goals – then reflecting in the presence of God, on just which strategies and activities that will lead to goal achievement, self-value and living with purpose.

With increasingly busy and stressful lives, it’s more important for your success levels than ever, to take time to yourself. Whether you’re an extrovert who may find alone-time challenging or an introvert who craves time by yourself, you can deliver the 5 benefits listed above – and more, by taking some time every day for self-reflection.

11 questions which will prayerfully help your “me and God” reflections be more effective

In the presence of God, the Lord, sit down, ask yourself open questions as you reflect, for example like the questions listed below, to find a way to explore your thoughts and feelings, to help you provide clarity and compassion for yourself.

  • How am I feeling today?
  • What is my intention today?
  • What about my life/this situation do I find challenging/worrying?
  • How did I contribute to this situation?
  • What are all my options?
  • Which parts of my life do I love the most?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • How can I show kindness to someone I care for?
  • What would I like to do more of?
  • How will I choose to show myself love and kindness today?
  • What’s great about me?

Life is always going to full of ups and downs, good times, not so good times. Remember that after darkness comes light. Time passes, feelings change.

Take time to think. Examine your thoughts and feelings. You may choose to keep your reflections private, using your notebook or journal as a trusted confidante without an agenda. Or you may discover as you process your reflections that you would like to ask someone for help and choose to share.

Sitting on a park bench, alone with Jesus, Reflections help create value, meaning, an essential element to living a life with purpose.

Isaiah 55:1-3, Matthew 11:28-30, Luke 24:13-35, John 15, 17, 21:15-19

Take quality time to come away from yourselves, just sit in the presence of God!

Realize who you are in Christ Jesus.

Even if the whole world refuses to acknowledge it,

You and I have value! You and I are valued! You and I absolutely matter!

Even when we cannot sense it or find no reason to accept it within ourselves,

We have purpose!

We have value!

We have an over-abundance of “God-Esteem!”

You and I are God’s child, because of what Jesus did for us for love, not because of you. Give God greatest praise for what He has done for you and made us to be.

In the name of God, the Father, and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us pray,

Lord Jesus Christ, your power is beyond compare. You turned water into wine. You restored sight to the blind and made the deaf hear. You made the lame walk. You healed the sick, you fed the thousands and raised the dead. You conquered death in your resurrection. Everything you touch is powerfully transformed. Let me know and experience that powerful touch in my life. Lord, bless me and keep me, make your face shine upon me.  Through your mighty name, Alleluia! Amen

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Life is not being fair? Getting your Heart and Your Soul under Control. The Importance Of 1 Peter 3:13-18.

An itinerant Rabbi Jesus once said that “in this world you will have tribulation,” and we all know that to be true. The fact that suffering exists doesn’t trouble us until we are the ones who are doing most of the suffering, when we are the ones who are the most vulnerable to experiencing that suffering and it is especially troubling when we feel the depth of our suffering is unjustified. While we know that one day God will make all things right, how are we to deal with injustices in our 21st century lives? How do we keep pressing on when life doesn’t seem fair? 

Our response to unfairness is greatly influenced by our perspective, or the lens through which we choose to view our “suffering” life. We either have a human perspective—one that seeks living victimization, retribution when it perceives unequal treatment; or a divine perspective—one that yields its rights to the Lord and trusts in Him to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).  There is such an overwhelmingly strong message in 1 Peter 3:13-18. Lately, these verses have been standing out, so I thought we could dive into it together.

1 Peter 3:13-18 The Message

13-18 If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you are still [far] better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in [full] adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s [far] better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

It is crucial to focus on the condition of your heart and soul. Our actions flow from these two things. Our thoughts and actions are altered by both as well.

Except this focus becomes blurred when life seems to focus too much on just exactly how vulnerable we are when life screams at us: “that is just not fair!”

We have all at one time or another been in that place where the only thing we seem to be able to focus on or prioritize is the “unfairness of our vulnerability.” Both ears of our hearts and our souls are deafened by all the piercing shrieks. Sometimes there appears to be no way to filter or screen out all the craziness. Our lives seem to become immobile frozen to an absolute zero temperature. “I cannot go up or down or to the right, and I cannot move off to the left either and I am certainly not going to jump off of the nearest cliff into the deepest rivers!”

So, what direction does that leave me to go, when there is seemingly nowhere? I will never hesitate to recommend turning to the Word of God for His children. I will never hesitate to recommend the Bible as the authority of God over every last ounce of the chaos which threatens to exploit my every single vulnerability.

And now, I grasp the authority of God from His Word found in 1 Peter 3:13-18! Reading and re-reading it, studying it and praying it, the only way to live a bold, demonstrative, spirit-filled life is to constantly redirect our attention to God, the Father. He shows us that His ways are better than ours. He shows us how to treat others and how to be light. When He is the center of every area of our lives, we live strongly. Souls are strengthened and hearts are filled. Following God does not guarantee an invincible path. We are not invincible, but He 1000% is.

When He gifted us with the Holy Spirit, He gave us supernatural strength to handle situations. He gave us understanding. We are always going to be human, but we are also conquerors. We will still face downfalls and heartaches, but if our eyes, hearts and souls are seeking Him, we will always rise. With constant reassurance of how great He is, why would we want to do our own thing? Our hearts and souls need to be fed in order to prosper. Without affirmation of faith through covenant and communication with Him, it’s impossible to be unselfish.

We recognize our source of life, but we cannot continue to develop without our exercising it every day. We must search for better understanding and know why we believe what we believe. We should be ready to tell anyone about how good God is to us. We must stand firm when people have tough questions and doubts.

They should not be able to distract us from the truth we have received from God and revealed through the ministry, mission and works of Jesus and Holy Spirit.

We should each be able to give explanations for the hope and faith within us with nothing but friendliness rather than aggravation. There will always be people who bash and disagree but let them. Jesus was mocked and tortured, but the glory of God overcame it all. Bad days will always come, but I would rather have bad days with a great God by my side than good ones without Him. The joy of the Lord is a lifestyle that cannot be described. It is well worth any sacrifice… After all, He did give the ultimate sacrifice. Because of this, I am forever His.

1 Peter 3:13-18 offers five-fold advice that will enable us to live in an unfair, inequitable world, and leads with a general rule that if you live a clean and honest and God-devout life, God, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit protect you. 

[1] When suffering, consider yourself to be blessed by God. When you patiently endure unfair treatment, you are fulfilling God’s purpose and plan for your life. (Genesis 22:1-19, Daniel chapter 3, James 1:1-18) It is understandably difficult to remain joyful when going through pain, but it’s important to remember one day you WILL be richly rewarded for your endurance of these undeserved trials. 

[2] Don’t panic or worry as it does nothing but undermine your trust in the Lord. God is aware of your struggle and He is your defense. He has your back. 

[3] Acknowledge that Jesus is Lord over this situation as He is Lord over all of creation itself. He is glorified when he’s given ultimate authority in the midst of your trial. He is absolutely sovereign and is allowing this trial for reasons that are all His, even if it does not make sense to you. (Job 1:20-22 and 19:23-27)

[4] Be ready to defend your faith when the opportunity arises. Crisis often presents an overwhelming platform for zealous gospel witness, especially when your actions match your talk. This is especially true if #5 is in place, so… ergo … 

[5] Be a person of honor, humility and integrity. Your honor, humility, and integrity are your greatest defenses against unjust criticism and the greatest evidence that there is a God in heaven who is powerfully working in your life. 

We should really not be the least bit surprised or overwhelmed when we are overlooked or persecuted by the world. It is, sadly, a natural part of walking in opposition to culture and standing firm for Jesus Christ, but we can take heart, because we know He has already overcome the world. And through Him alone, so can we also! (John 16:25-33, John Chapters 17 and 20, Romans 8:31-39)

APPLICATION / CHALLENGE

  • When you patiently endure unfair treatment, you are blessed. You are fulfilling God’s purpose and plan, and soon you will be rewarded for your endurance. Don’t panic or worry. Acknowledge that Jesus is Lord over this situation.
  • Be a person of integrity (it’s both your best defense against unjust criticism, and the greatest evidence that God in heaven is powerfully at work in you.)
  • Be ready to fully defend your faith as the opportunity arises. In a few concise statements, what would you share with someone who asks you about your beliefs? Finally, fashion your brief statements into an articulate paragraph that feels natural to speak – and regularly practice saying it until it is comfortable.
  • Then zealously seek out opportunities to put your hope and faith into practice.
  • In our success or in failure, Give God every last ounce of glory, honor or praise!

TO GIVE GOD PRIORITY IN LIFE – TAKE A FIRST STEP

Each day strive to write down one doable concrete step towards obedience, small or large, that you will then strive to put into regular practice. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)

In the name of God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us pray,

Psalm 23 The Message

23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Matthew 5:7 AMP, “Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

My Prayer is “Lord have Mercy! Christ, have Mercy! Lord have Mercy upon Me!!!”

Today, I am pondering how God treats us much, much better than we deserve.

Today, I am pondering just how much better we could be if we ourselves treated others, others being those whom God has called to be our neighbors, as God has treated us from the very beginning of all things. God mercifully created all of us. He gave us the responsibility to be care-full, care-filled stewards of each other. Yet, it is obvious even to the untrained, unobservant observer, there is failure! Even in the midst of all of our greatest failures to care for each other, God, in the single greatest act of mercy sent His Son Jesus to us to save, not condemn.

That fundamental, undergirding spiritual truth is the reality of grace. He has seen us in our very worst sins and had mercy on us because of his great love for us (see Romans 6:6-12). Even though we have repeatedly proved unfaithful and undependable, both individually and as a group, God has yet been gracious and profoundly merciful. He has repeatedly offered forgiveness, help, redemption, and salvation when we least deserved it. We have all been failures as stewards. We have had more than our fair share of success stories, but those failures ….!

Rather than dealing with us strictly as law would demand, God has dealt with us as a loving father does with his children. This conditioning reality must show up in us also. How can we truly claim to be his children and not be merciful as God has always been merciful with us? What about our mutual stewardship?

How can we call for retribution against our brothers and sisters, when fairness would demand we pay a great penalty for our sin? In the Kingdom family, mercy rules. When that mercy is so easily brushed aside, forgotten by us, then God has promised to judge our very own standard of mercilessness when he judges us. Matthew 7:1-2. Yet as long as we are merciful to others, God will show us mercy.

The Beatitudes are a description of the characteristics of people who belong to Christ’s kingdom. Matthew 4 we read Jesus was preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then Jesus went through Galilee proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and is healing diseases and afflictions among the people. As Jesus goes up the mountain, he is reenacting the great law-giver Moses going up the mountain and receiving the Law from God’s own fingers. Jesus is now declaring the law, that is, the covenant of the kingdom of heaven.

In Matthew 5:7 Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Matthew 5:7 The Message

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

You are blessed when you care.

Someone else is being blessed when you care.

Your family is being blessed when you care.

Your friends are being blessed when you care.

Your next-door neighbors are being blessed when you care.

Your community is being blessed when you care.

Being across the globe as I am, I am blessed when you care.

The Body of Christ is being blessed when you care.

At the moment of being care – full you find yourselves cared for.

At the moment you are being care – full I find myself being cared for.

At the moment of being care – filled you find yourselves being cared for.

At the moment you are being care – filled, I find myself being cared for.

Jesus came to give us life, a life full of abundance.

Jesus came to give us life, a life filled with abundance.

Jesus came to care about our lives full of abundance.

Jesus came to care about our lives being filled to abundance

Jesus came to care for our lives filled with abundance.

In the single greatest act of mercy, God sent His Son to show He cares.

In the single greatest act of mercy, God sent His Son to care about us.

In the single greatest act of mercy, God sent His Son to care for us.

What else can be said here?

What else can God do here which He has not already done in abundance?

How much more will God continue to do for us through His Son Jesus?

What about this continuous revelation of mercy we have done nothing for?

Understanding God’s revelation of Mercy

The word “mercy” is used in the Gospel of Matthew to refer to showing compassion, pity, and favor toward the suffering and needy (Matthew 9:27; 15:22; 17:15; 18:33; 20:30).

We get a good experience for this word when we read the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). Remember that there was a man who fell among robbers and was suddenly beaten severely. A priest and a Levite pass by and do not offer assistance. But a Samaritan, someone the Israelites avoided at all costs, comes to his aid, takes him to an inn, and pays for his care. Jesus then asks, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Luke 10:36) The lawyer responded, “The one who showed him mercy” (Luke 10:37). Here we see that mercy is showing compassion, pity, and favor.

Mercy, therefore, is not just a feeling. Mercy is not some detached feeling or a sentiment that does nothing. Mercy is a feeling that causes the individual to act.

Sometimes we describe mercy as not giving to others what they deserve. While there is truth to this declaration, we are going to see that this is not a complete definition for mercy. Mercy is not merely refusing to bring judgment on those deserving of judgment. Mercy is genuine compassion expressed in genuine help and selfless, sacrificial compassion and selfless concern shown in selfless acts.

The people in God’s kingdom are those who are free givers of mercy. Mercy is something that is freely shown, not merely felt. Later in Matthew, Jesus will call mercy one of the weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23).

Matthew 23:23 Amplified Bible

23 “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you give a tenth (tithe) of your mint and dill and cumin [focusing on minor matters] and have neglected the weightier [more important moral and spiritual] provisions of the Law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the [primary] things you ought to have done without neglecting the others.

Mercy was not a characteristic of 1st century culture, nor ours today. A popular Roman philosopher called mercy, “The disease of the soul.” It was the sign of supreme weakness. The Roman world in Jesus’ day did not show a lot of mercy.

Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and raised the dead. He was the friend of sinners. He forgave prostitutes, tax collectors, and religious rulers. He took children in His arms and blessed them. He showed mercy to everyone and in return they betrayed him, they repeatedly attempted to stone Him, throw him off cliffs and united to kill Him.

The ancient world then was a place of coercive violence and intimidation, but not mercy. The quality and quantity of Mercy was not very “politically correct.”

Just like the other beatitudes in which Jesus promises blessing for living in ways contrary to our nature, He climbs a hill, the people gather around him, and He says in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Matthew 5:43 records the saying was to love your neighbor and hate your enemy. We see in these cultures that mercy, if it was given, was reserved for those who had been merciful only to you. Our world today is not far removed spiritually from the Roman world when Jesus gave these blessed statements.

One too many world cultures say the same thing: “If you don’t look out for yourself, no one else will.” Another slogan today: “Don’t get mad, get even.” People are still treated like things, power is the supreme deity, and financial success is the most important thing in life. There is even the saying to, “Show no mercy ever.” Today, just as then, mercy is weakness in the minds of most.

The Standard of Mercy of God our Creator

We see Jesus showing mercy on many occasions. He looked on people and was moved with pity and compassion (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32). Jesus showed compassion on the sinful woman caught in adultery. Jesus always showed compassion and love toward the people. This is what attracts us to Jesus!

He truly cared for people. He had a legitimate concern for their needs and difficulties. In fact, we see the ugliness of the human heart with how the religious leaders treated Jesus. You will notice in the gospels the more Jesus showed mercy and compassion, the more the religious leaders hated Jesus and looked for opportunities to kill him.

The hatred grew so great that the people and leaders betrayed him, had Jesus arrested without cause, nailed to a cross. Yet, even while hanging on the cross, with nails driven through his outstretched hands, we see the mercy of Jesus. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Notice in this we see a distinction between mercy and forgiveness. The mercy of our Lord is the basis for his desire to forgive us. “…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own [standard of] mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior…” (Titus 3:5–6). 

Mercy was the basis upon which forgiveness was extended. God’s forgiveness of our sins flow from his abundant mercy.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:4–6 ESV)

Please notice that Ephesians makes the same distinction between mercy and forgiveness. Because God is rich in mercy with great love for us, he saved us by grace and made us alive together with Christ. While Jesus is on the cross, we see his full extent of mercy as he extends the opportunity of forgiveness to them.

We must be merciful because this is the very character of God. Jesus declared, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). The mercy of God should be renewed in our minds and hearts at least every Sunday as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the mercy of God that we have experienced. God’s mercy is the covenanted basis of our own forgiveness.

This covenant teaches us something valuable. Our lack of forgiveness and our unwillingness to forgive others comes from a lack of mercy for others. Mercy drives forgiveness. If I am not driven to be forgiving, then I am not driven to be merciful. If I am not merciful, then I am not living in the kingdom of heaven.

The Challenge of God’s Standard of Mercy

Mercy is a challenge to develop in our character. Showing mercy means making ourselves vulnerable. We will be hurt by what other people do to us. We will extend ourselves to help people without reciprocation or thanks. We will give of ourselves unto those who need us without regard for receiving something in return. Compassion and pity are not often praised in our world, but it is the very heart of God, revealed through Jesus Christ, that we are showing to the world.

Mercy is not earned. Just like grace is no longer grace if it is earned, mercy is no longer mercy if it is deserved. Mercy is compassion that is undeserved. We are not to show mercy to whom we think deserve our mercy. We are to be like the character of God, extending mercy to all. Show mercy when people sin against us. The merciful expend a great measure of themselves to freely assist others.

But sometimes we misunderstand mercy. Mercy does not mean sin is ignored. We know this because God is merciful toward us but that does not mean our sins are ignored. Mercy recognizes the reality of sin. Mercy has the recognition of wrongdoing. Jesus did not show mercy by pretending that people were not sinning. Jesus did not show mercy by not convicting the people of their sins.

Jesus was being merciful by identifying sins and giving sinners the hope for forgiveness through him. Mercy identifies our sin but then shows the way to reconciliation with God. Mercy does good toward the other even in the face of opposition or evil.

Now think about what Jesus taught a couple times in the Gospel of Matthew: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” This declaration ought to be weighty to us and must not be emptied of its impact. God wants people who have a heart for him and for others. God does not want passive, heartless, soulless pew sitters.

We are people who help and heal. I am so troubled to hear how often Christians have an argument or a moment of an unkind word, and rather than showing mercy, there is division. People leave the congregation and go to another.

People get their feelings hurt and dwell in bitterness and leave. Going to church is not the test to know if you have received God’s mercy. Being merciful to others is the test to know if you have in truth experienced and received God’s mercy. Mercy is not desiring for other people to do good for others. Mercy is when we seek and act upon opportunities to be mercy givers, like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.

Think about what the prophet Micah declared to the people:

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy [kindness; ESV] and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NIV)

They Shall Receive God’s Standard of Mercy

The sinner’s plea can only be the words, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). God only shows mercy to the merciful. “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”

Listen to the chilling words of James:

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13 ESV)

What terrifying words to hear! Judgment will be without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.

We also have another saying: that person is getting what they deserve. But is that what we want to have happen to us? Do we want to get what we deserve for how we have treated others?

I know I have made many, many mistakes and I do not want to get what I truly deserve. for making them. You know others have been merciful toward you with your flaws and errors. Yet how often we will refuse to help people and refuse to be merciful because we think the person should not have put themselves in this mess in the first place! “They are only getting what they deserve.”

But we want others to be merciful toward us and not give us what we deserve. Further, we want God to be merciful toward us and not give us what we deserve. Do we seriously want to get what we deserve for how we have treated God?

Mercy toward others begins in our lives by having a penetrating awareness of our own desperate need of mercy from others, and especially from God.

It is mercy that shows compassion to the helpless (Luke 10:37) and extends forgiveness even to the one who gives repeated offense (Matthew 18:21-22). But this is what is important: mercy is not prompted by the appeal of certain qualities of the offender. We see this truth when God showed mercy to us through the cross (Romans 5:8-10).

Matthew 18:33 “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” God’s standard of mercy compels us to be gracious, kind, compassionate, merciful toward others. We love God because He first loved us!

Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

Oh, how we need this!

Oh, how we need to live this!

Oh, how we need to love this!

Oh, how we need to move on this!

Oh, how we need to go forth with this!

Oh, how we need to experience this!

Oh, how we need to reveal this!

Pray! Let God’s mercy transform your heart to be mercy givers to all people.

Let mercy flow like as an everlasting stream flowing from the heart of God!

In the name of God, the Father, and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us pray,

Heavenly Father, how I praise and thank You for Your manifold mercy towards me, in that while I was yet a sinner, and at enmity with You… You did not give me what I deserve, but showed me mercy and love, by redeeming my life and clothing me in the righteousness of Christ. May I imitate the merciful way that Christ lived by bestowing Your mercy and compassion on all those with whom I come in contact. May I live as You would have me live in Jesus’ name – and for His glory, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! AMEN.

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