Lessons from the Cross – Jesus said…

The Beatitudes according to Matthew (5: 1-13)

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

According to Luke (6:20-26) Jesus said…

Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:

Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

Taken at face value, the poor, the poor in spirit, those who weep now, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger now, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, are the blessed. And blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. These folks are blessed of God.

When I reflect on my Christian experience I think about the men and women that have influenced my walk, either to be more like them, or not like them. What was it that Jesus said?

“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”

Matthew 23:1-4

It’s that old saying “Do as I say, not as I do.” Rich Mullins once said…

“I am a Christian, not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity, but because there were people willing to be nuts and bolts.”

Rich Mullins

Today, I think it’s the reversed.

Do I recognize my spiritual poverty?

Yes, I weep when I see, or experience the wickedness in our world, especially among fellow believers. I mourn at the loss of a loved one, or when people choose to decline the salvation of Jesus Christ. Meek. What is meek? Willing submission? That is a very un-American concept. I see people hungry for food to feed their aching belly. Do the people that attend many of our churches, hunger and thirst for righteousness, or for entertainment, a quick motivational talk, refreshments, or for recognition of sorts? I had a pastor remark once, from the pulpit. He was kind of of complaining that church membership could not grow if members didn’t do their part by inviting people to church. He wanted to pastor a megachurch. He started teaching Bible study at my home and stopped after a month or so, because he saw we weren’t inviting new people to the study. He pretty much felt that Bible studies are for instruction but more so for growing the body of believers. That’s my understanding. Moving on, as for being merciful, I think most of us extend mercy to the degree that we have been shown mercy. I have never seen, or known a Christian to extend mercy for the sake of being merciful as Jesus did. As for the pure at heart, pffffffft.

My experience with the pure at heart, which I define as someone who doesn’t give consideration to ill thoughts, or anything that would offend God. Let me share a quick story. Anyway, I “had” this lady friend. Initially, her marriage was solid, until one day it went south. She stayed married in submission to the Lord. After a few years, she was fed up and finally filed for divorce. These stories are always long, but here’s a short version. Once she was divorced, she remained faithful to her church, and Bible studies. But, this gal had a flip side, which she was proud of. She and some of her friends, some of which were also church members, started to hit the bar scene and she started to date guys she met online. Well, she did more than date. She test drove the guys. It was a dangerous game, but she was confident that God was going give her the desires of her heart. God was going to bless her with a nice, attractive, physically fit, Bible believing, church going and faithful young man. She set some high standards for herself. First time at marriage she had married her high school sweetheart. Second time around she was going to pick the guy she wanted. No matter how much I told her that she was not going to find Mr. Right taking that route, she did not care. I got to where I had her text me every time she went out with a new guy with info on where they were going. So, at least I would have some info to give the police in case they had to go search for her body. And she did.

There’s lots of people that call themselves Christians, some that do awesome works, but they live to satisfy the flesh, in whatever way it needs satisfying. Some of them are preachers, and teachers and pastors and pastor’s wives, laymen, deacons, self-proclaimed prophets, healers. And it’s sad to say but that’s always been my experience. My first pastor beat his wife, had multiple affairs and did other ugly stuff. His wife ran for her life, filed for divorce. He married one of the women he cheated with and then beat her. The second wife left him and shacked up with some man. I was helping a church couple clean out their home and I found all sorts of very sorted material, if you get my drift. How difficult must it be to be pure at heart if the people that I knew to be faithful to the things of God could never be a 100% pure of heart. I think we all know people in churches that are pew warmers, domineering, manipulative, liars, cheaters, narcissistic and other uglier things. They are nonetheless Christians, that claim to be blessed by God. And what did Jesus say, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” To be pure of heart, I think should be every believer’s desire.

It makes me wonder about these the peacemakers. Whoever they are, this past year they’ve stayed out of the spotlight. And those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake? I saw a lot of rebellion on social media. The Christian leaders that did stand in the square to be heard were certainly not peacekeepers, and they were not being persecuted for Righteousness sake. They stood in defiance to state and local leaders in the name of God, but not for righteousness’ sake. Again, Rich Mullins came to mind.

“Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.”

Rich Mullins

“We do not find happiness by being assertive. We don’t find happiness by running over people because we see what we want and they are in the way of that happiness so we either abandon them or we smash them. The Scriptures don’t teach us to be assertive. The Scriptures teach us—and this is remarkable—the Scriptures teach us to be submissive. This is not a popular idea.”

Rich Mullins

So I examine myself, my walk with Christ. As a Christian woman, do I exhibit, do I exercise Christ like attributes? If I don’t, if I find it difficult to be Christ like in my thinking, in my behavior – then there is something wrong with my walk. And the only way to know one way or the other is to ask God to search my heart as Psalm 139 (vs. 23-24) says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Because, as a believer in Christ my desire is to be transformed into the image of God.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).” I should reflect a Christ like image.

Matthew 5: 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

More later on how I understand the times…

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