Loving and Serving

Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Of all the Beatitudes, this one is the one that hinges on all the rest. You cannot be “poor in spirit” if your heart is not pure. You cannot mourn for a separation from God if you are not pure in heart. You cannot be meek or hunger and thirst for righteousness, or be merciful without being pure of heart. You cannot be a peacemaker or be persecuted for righteousness in Jesus’ name if you are not pure of heart. Bottom line, being pure of heart is the essences of the blessings of God because all the others are subject to the state of your heart.

When you think about your life, what are your goals? Most of us finished high school, started a trade or went to college. Some of us finished college, started a career or graduate school. After graduate school, we got a job, married, started a family, saved money, bought a house, a car, put in a swimming pool or purchased an RV. Some of us have kids that are in school or graduated. We have kids married and starting families. We are saving for retirement or are retired. Now what?

The question this Beatitude answers is really simple – our lives must be dedicated to loving and serving God – to learning about His Word and implementing it in our lives. Our plans should be more about God and His vision for our lives than a nest egg of money. When we live with a pure heart, a heart that yearns for God, a heart that loves our neighbors, a heart that wants to honor God, all the rest falls into place.

The plans of our lives should start with the simple statement, “I want to develop a heart that is pure in God’s sight.”

At the very heart of receiving the blessings of God is our heart. What is the state of your heart?


Mercy

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

In elementary school we played a game. Two people clasped hands and bent each other’s fingers back until one person screamed, “Mercy!” It was all about enduring the pain the longest. The person who didn’t scream mercy, won the game. Once mercy was shouted out, the hands were unclasp and the game was over. It was all about ending pain.

Mercy is not a verb in the English language; and yet, it is an action given to someone who doesn’t deserve it but gets it anyway. Most of us want mercy from God and other people. We do not necessarily want others to receive mercy when they have wronged us. Strange, isn’t it? We want God to extend His mercy toward us when we mess up; but when someone messes up, and we are affected by it, we’d rather them not receive mercy from God.

To be “merciful” is to give people a second chance; to forgive a wrong done against us or another person; to allow someone into our lives who doesn’t deserve to be there. When we show mercy toward others, we receive mercy from God.

In Matthew 18, Peter asked Jesus “how many times should we forgive someone.” Jesus responded by telling a story of a king who forgave one of his slaves. The slave owed the king a great amount of money. The king graciously forgave the debt. Despite the mercy of the king, the slave in turn had another man thrown into jail because he owed the slave money. When the king heard about this, he was very severe in punishing the slave because he was not willing to show the same to the man who owed him money.

Maybe there is someone you need to extend mercy toward today. When we are merciful toward others, we receive the blessing of God’s mercy.


Blessed are those who hunger

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

Most of us do not know what it is like to be truly hungry. We’ve probably been thirsty after working in the hot summer Georgia sun all day, but being hungry is uncommon to most of us. This verse uses the physical sensation to help us to understand the depth of hunger and thirst He expects us to have in pursuit of righteousness. He’s not talking about someone who kind of wants righteousness, He’s talking about someone who is seeking righteousness in almost desperation.

I remember being in Haiti several years ago and being around people who had not eaten in a week. Their stomach’s ached with the pain of emptiness. A teenage boy bent over in agony because the pain was unbearable. I’ve never experienced that kind of hunger, but I’ve seen it. The yearning for food overwhelms the brain. The mind can think of nothing more than finding food to fill the stomach. It is this desire Jesus is talking about but it isn’t a desire for food or water but for God.

When Jesus speaks of this hunger and thirst for righteousness, it is about an insatiable desire to please God, to honor Him, and to be close to Him.  It is about an all-consuming passion which burns within us to be filled with His presence. Just as one would search out food and water in desperation to survive, so should we search out God in order to live.

2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Do you realize, your thoughts and actions directly affect your relationship with God? Without the Word in our lives, we cannot function. It is similar to going three days without food or water. Could you work? Could you take care of your family? Could you even communicate with people? Three days without food or water would definitely leave you weak and lethargic. How then do we think we can function without the Word of God – the nourishing food of our soul?

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When we put God first, seek Him first, we can’t help but be hungry for Him. Blessings follow those who want more than anything to please God. Reflect today on how you can put God first above all else in your life.


Who will inherit the earth?

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

Ahhhh! the humble…the meek… the world will run right over them, correct? They are doormats! Wimpy, pitiful folks who cannot take up for themselves much less others.  They probably need the blessings of God, pitiful little creatures. Is that what you are thinking?

Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Is this what Christ is talking about?

There are great and tremendous blessings for those who are meek and humble because their inner strength relies on God and not the world. God wants us to be humble and meek so much, He declares we will inherit the earth!

When our strength comes from our dependence on God and not upon money or power or ability, God blesses us. It is our faithfulness in a God who will right the wrong; heal the sick; judge the wrong-doer; provide; give us direction; give us hope; that brings us to this blessing. Being meek shows the world we know who is in control and we rely on Him.

The word Paul uses for humility is not exactly the word used in Matthew 5:5, but I believe the idea is the same. Humility is defined as “the selfless regard for the needs of others over your own.” Jesus was the ultimate example of humility because He put us above Himself in suffering and dying on the cross for our salvation.

Being meek and humble doesn’t mean we just sit back and let the world pass us by for fearing of stepping in front of someone. It isn’t what we do in our lives; it’s all about how we do it and for whom we do it. God wants us to be active and participate. He wants us to excel in life. He wants us to have victory. It is how we excel and who we give the glory to that counts.

Confidence in God to do in us and through us what we could not do otherwise is the blessing of meekness. Ask God today to work through you. Give Him all honor and glory. Experience God’s blessings when you do.


Fill your day

Connie and I had dinner recently at an incredible restaurant. From the moment we entered the building, we knew we were going to have an experience. The service was like nothing I have ever had. The food tasted delicious. The atmosphere was friendly. When we left, we both felt so fantastic and determined it was the people and their willingness to make our night special through service that made it what it was.

Have you ever thought what it would be like if everyone got motivated and chose to serve others? What would life be like if we all decided to stop looking at ourselves first and turn toward others.

In Hebrews 13:16, “Do not forget to do good and to share with others; for with such sacrifices, God is pleased.”

The idea of this scripture tells us to do good, to give to others; because, when we sacrifice for others, we please our Heavenly Father. The challenge comes in trying to implement the process. How do we serve others? What does God expect from us in order that we please Him.

If you really want to do good and bless others, it starts when you say Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” When we acknowledge God in all our ways, we become His servant and a servant to others. It may take a directional change; it may take the loss of a dream; it may take destruction of your plans to focus on His.

And it starts with the people in your home. Your spouse. Your parents. Your children. Your friends. Your co-workers. Try it. Servanthood can be contagious. Set the example.

I want to challenge you to fill your day with random acts of kindness. Think first of the person next to you before you think of yourself. Allow the mighty power of God to flow through you to impact His kingdom and help His people.


Misjudgment

Luke 7:37-38, “A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”

Misjudgment. It happens routinely and unfortunately daily in our lives. We judge people based on their past. In this scripture Mary Magdalene, a woman with quite a sordid past, anoints Jesus’ feet with a very expensive perfume. People who witness the gesture find that it is wrong – erotic in nature – inappropriate. The Pharisees can’t understand Jesus even allowing a former prostitute and demon possessed woman to touch Him.

The Pharisee comments to Peter about Mary indicating his astonishment that Jesus would even allow “this kind of woman” near him. Jesus hears the conversation and asks Peter, “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.” Luke 7:41-43

When Mary rubs the perfume on Jesus’ feet, He does not see a prostitute. He does not see the stain of sins. When Mary rubs the perfume on His feet, Jesus sees her heart – not her past.

Some of you are dealing with sin you do not believe Jesus can forgive. It is difficult to talk with Him about it because you are so ashamed. Not only is He willing to forgive – He is willing to forget. Today, talk to God about the sin in your life. Put it in your past and move on to a glorious future in Christ.


Promises of Christ

In the New Testament, Christ gives us promises; yet, almost always the promises are conditional. Often, in fact almost always,we must do something to receive the gift of His promise. I like to read the scriptures and underline my part – highlighting what I have to do to experience the fulfillment of His promise in my life.

John 6:35 – “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'”

John 12:26, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Many years ago, I worked with an incredible leader whose philosophy of “Team” was simple: if you have a problem, bring with it a solution. His expectation in meeting with one of his team members required a presentation of the problem and a presentation of an answer. He would then contemplate both and come up with a resolution. That way, we all had ‘skin’ in the game. We couldn’t just come to him and complain expecting him to answer all our problems.

Christ is presenting a similar platform for us to follow. He wants us to bring our problems to Him but in doing so there is something expected of us. We must understand His requirements. He gives this, we give that. Salvation is a “TEAM” effort. Christ requires us to live in accordance with His words so that we become a part of His Team.

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!”

Salvation is not about works; it is about the mercy and grace of God. When we are saved, we become new creations in Christ. A transformation occurs in our lives. We are no longer our old selves and our new selves long to obey His commands.

Luke 6:35, “But love your enemiesdo good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

Luke 9:48, “Then He said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent me. For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest.'”

Walking in the Promises is a two-way street. Many people miss what they have to do and see only what Christ has done for them. If it were simple, why the sacrifice? Why suffer humiliation in the hands of evil? Christ died so that we might live – because He knew what we will face every day here on earth; because He believed in our ability to remain faithful to Him; but above all, because He loved us enough to give all so that we might live with Him in eternity.

Understanding your part in receiving the Promises of our Lord and Savior is a key element in our daily walk with Christ.

John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

Luke 11:28, “He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.'”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,654 other followers