DAY 35 BEATITUDES – MATTHEW 5:9 DISCUSSION

35“BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, FOR THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD.”

Loved today’s video – Jen Hatmaker and Jamie Ivey are my favorite presenters – especially together. Except that they have adopted children, love cooking (or having their husband do the cooking), are involved in one or more real time ministries that are changing the world, are published authors and that they are 20+ years younger than I am…well except for that, we are so alike!

All week I’ve been thinking of peacemaking as something that I initiate – mainly because it seems the whole country right now is dead set on making division the national pastime. In reading this prayer (KJV words aside) this is what struck. Sometimes we are offered peace or reconciliation and we don’t take it.

It is my responsibility to grasp thy overtures of grace, for if thou, the offended part, act first with the word of appeasement,

The very next line: I need not call in question thy willingness to save.

I know this is about God and I have no reason to question Him. But truthfully, I do question peoples’ motives. What are they trying to pull? What will they get from extending this olive branch? And I stand back – maybe way too long – to scrutinize the offer.

I love the words “overtures of grace”. Doesn’t mean anyone has a full blown plan to fix divisions. Doesn’t mean I am signing on for life. Doesn’t mean anyone – including me – is even close to perfect. It’s just an overture toward peace. A glance hoping for recognition might lead to a handshake; a chat over coffee might lead to partnership; knowing someone up close might change me and might change them – both of us for the better. Am I open to any and every “overture of grace” that could lead to peace?

Today and everyday forward Lord, open my eyes, my ears and my heart.
I want to take notice of the small nuances that might open doors to peacemaking.
Every “overture” to peace is bankrupt apart from you
but I am certain you are orchestrating a symphony where I play a part.
Help me to be ready and willing to grasp my notes.
Amen.

DAY 34 BEATITUDES – EPHESIANS 2:11-22

34PAUL – A PEACEMAKER

I’ve just studied Ephesians for the last 6 weeks so this is pretty fresh on my brain.

Ephesians is addressed to those who believe. At this time there were primarily two distinguishable groups of believers – Jews and Gentiles. If we look at it from the angle of Paul, he is indeed trying to stress that once they were divided but now are one in the body of Christ.

They have a lot of differences to overcome. Left to their own ability the walls are too high. Fortunately that’s the point, Jesus has stepped in and he is the one who has broken down the dividing wall of hostility. Jesus has made Peace the new playing field.

Now they need a new point of view:

  • You are all members of the household of God
  • You are all being built together into a dwelling place for God.

So basically, guys, this is not about your differences anymore. It’s about what you have in common and who you share – One Spirit, One Father, One peacemaker – Jesus.

Good reminder for me. Focus on what I have in common with someone else – especially those within the body. Build on that and let the differences slide. Jesus has made a way for there to be peace. It is no longer an impossibility so get with the program.

DAY 33 BEATITUDES – I JOHN 2:28-3:3

33-2…FOR THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD

And now, little children, abide in him…See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

Abiding has come to mind before. Usually in the context “that I can do nothing” apart from Jesus – I cannot live out any of these Beatitudes or anything else for that matter.

Today abiding took another turn. How can I possibly understand the kind of love the Father has given me? I know it is the easy answer to say “Jesus died for me”. That’s a fact whether or not it is packed with emotion but it is a bit distant to my fully embracing what it all means. That’s where abiding came in.

Abide – rest in – connected to – nurtured by – remain in – dwell here – live here. Children understand their Father best when they live together. Day in and day out, in good times and not, in homework and play, in victories and scraped knees – Dads/Moms/Parents are there with you. And while they are not perfect there is still the image of living together and what you come to know about them and your relationship with them.

Abiding – living minute by minute – with my heavenly Father – that’s how I might truly begin to grasp the “kind of love” he has given me.

Gabriela posted a song on the IF: Equip blog today about being a child of God. There was one line that got me – Your blood flows through my veins1. I have good thoughts about being an adopted child of God. It is an incredible honor to be taken from outside and brought near – right into the family. I have been given every privilege and inheritance – just like a birth child.

What if I have also been made a child of God’s very own blood? That really makes me His doesn’t it? DNA, paternity test – the whole enchilada…

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;
the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
2 Cor. 5:17

1 No Longer Slaves // Jonathan David & Melissa Helser // We Will Not Be Shaken Official Lyric Video https://youtu.be/f8TkUMJtK5k

DAY 32 BEATITUDES – ROMANS 12:9-21; 2 CORINTHIANS 5:16-21

32BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS…

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:9-21)

Much like darkness is overcome by the presence of light; evil can be overcome with good. That’s a challenging thought. There is so much evil I can’t even begin to sort it out. From ISIS to body parts, through the miracle of technology I can instantly know everything that is bad in the entire world. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless.

However, helpless is not our true position. I have been issued a secret weapon – it’s called “GOOD”.

The problem is I don’t think I have very sound view as to what “Good” is.

To me it’s just a squirt gun. It might wash one dirty face but 5 more will show up before I can run to the backyard faucet and reload. It helps but in small doses and evil seems to have bigger guns and a better bankroll. (Maybe that’s why it doesn’t work that well for me…I think it’s about a bankroll instead of the Spirit?)

So back to the top at v 9 and let’s read down again. Here’s how to deploy “Good”:

  1. Love truly
  2. Hate evil
  3. Don’t forsake anything good
  4. Be the best at showing honor
  5. Be zealous in serving the Lord
  6. Celebrate hope
  7. Be patient under fire
  8. Pray all the time
  9. Give to needs of the saints and show hospitality
  10. Bless your persecutors;
  11. Rejoice with the joyful and mourn with the grieving
  12. Live at peace with each other
  13. Don’t be puffed up
  14. Hangout with the lowly
  15. Don’t trust your own wisdom
  16. Never return evil for evil but think of something honorable to do
  17. Live peaceably with all
  18. Never try to avenge yourself
  19. Instead of vengeance meet your enemies’ needs

Well, it seems “Good” might require a rocket launcher instead of a squirt gun.

Lord, by Your Spirit, help me to load up today and extinguish me some evil. Amen.

DAY 31 BEATITUDES – MATTHEW 5:9

31

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, FOR THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD

Would it be an accolade if I referred to you by saying, “like father, like son”? With most dads, given the circumstances, it could go either way. The only way to guarantee it to be a compliment is if the father is our heavenly one.

I can’t think of any time I wouldn’t desire being called “a son of God.” Being a peacemaker is apparently a sign of my son-ship. [sons – 5207 hyios – a son (by birth or adoption) – figuratively: those who in character and life resemble God]

Peacemaker in the Greek comes from two words: Eirene – “to join, tie together into a whole” and poieo – “to make or do”. In my own words, then, it means someone who makes things whole. I like the sound of that.

First, it makes perfect sense in light of Jesus. His entire goal was restoration. He came to make my relationship with God “whole again.” Billy Graham aptly named his evangelistic tract “Peace with God” because that is exactly what happens. Jesus’ job was to reconcile our differences – between the Father and us.

I can think of 3 general areas where I am called to be peacemaker.

♦Paul says in 2 Cor. 5 this ministry of reconciliation that Jesus began has been given to me. As an ambassador for Christ, God is making an appeal through me to draw people to Himself. Like an ambassador at the UN I am asked to work toward opportunities that open doors between nations. That seems like peacemaking to me.

♦In speaking to the church Paul says in Eph. 4 walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called …being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Unity and love are one way those outside the family know we follow Jesus. Not to mention God is not big on family squabbles. Prefer one another – that should keep the peace.

♦“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” This follows close behind the verse “Bless those who persecute you.” (Rom.12) As best you can – be at peace with everybody – even your enemies. Wow! God has left no stone unturned.

Let me just say, all of these are hard and there are plenty of times I flatly “Don’t wanna!” When I need motivation it comes in the form of this:

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS
FOR THEY SHALL BE CALLED A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK.

…that will make my Daddy proud!

DAY 30 BEATITUDES – MATTHEW 5:8 DISCUSSION

30“BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART, FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD”

The big thing to me about purity of heart is that God knows us – inside and out. He looks upon our heart while everyone else is looking for our perfect attendance, shiny shoes or correct political affiliations. It is from His vantage point we are judged rightly. Not any of the others.

I would go so far to say God chooses us – not because we are pure, but because He sees where we are going, what we will become. He knows our potential even before we even acknowledge we are under His microscope. He is completely aware of what He can make of us and He sets out to let us in on the secret.

Of course at some point we become complicit in the plot to overthrow our own hypocrisy. We want to please the One who has chosen and called us forth. Dishonesty is a mask we gladly shed and the view – it is so much clearer.

Sometimes, in our zeal, we take on self-improvement projects, often laid out for us by other strivers who would like our adoration. Fortunately stumbling headlong into ditches is good cause to start again.

“Oh yes… it began with the Spirit… and Grace is the only trustworthy guide. Now, off I go.”

“Just keep walking forward – hand on the Vine.”

“I can’t wait ‘til I see Him!”

DAY 29 BEATITUDES – 1 SAMUEL 16:1-13

29BUT THE LORD LOOKS ON THE HEART

And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.

Don’t know too much about David from this passage. That’s probably the point. His “whole-heartedness” toward God didn’t come with a name tag or a blinking sign. I imagine it was something developing within him, over time – a quite personal relationship with His God.

Commentators think he was between 10-15 years old when he was anointed by Samuel. His age makes the depth of his relationship even more remarkable – but maybe not. Could this idea be another way of “looking on an outward appearance”? Wow! My prejudices are subtle, aren’t they?

It’s interesting that this passage doesn’t give us 5 steps to becoming pure in heart. We can try to extrapolate from other things we might know about David but those things likely came much later than when Samuel encountered him. He was a shepherd for his family – no claim to fame.

This is all we really know – God saw David’s heart, God chose David, God poured out His Spirit on David.

Isn’t that how it works? In unknown ways and over time, God is wooing our hearts. At some point we welcome being chosen by Him. The Holy Spirit comes to live in us. And, just like David, this is just the beginning.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you,
will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Phil. 1:6 NLT

DAY 28 BEATITUDES – PSALM 24, TITUS 2:11-15, HEBREWS 12:12-15

28…FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD

He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah – PS 24

For the grace of God has appeared… training us to renounce ungodliness… and to live godly lives in the present age – Titus

Strive… for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God – Hebrews

I tend to think of a generation as a group of people born within a certain time span – my generation, my parents’ generation, or the “next” generation. (The latter being the ones some think should drive the bus before they’ve taken the road test. Don’t get me started.)

But here I like the word generation to mean, not people separated by age but a group of people set apart, over all the ages, by the way they seek to live. They are the chosen generation Peter speaks of.

And what do they look like?

Ps 24 says they are honest about who they are – who God says they are. They are not little “Pigpens” walking around in their own cloud of dust when it comes to faith. Whoever said, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, made a good point. The generation that stands close to God can tell when their robes are dirty or their face is smudged and they know where to find the soap.

They are honest in their dealings with others (Ps 24). Unlike the Pharisees of Bible times or the hawkers of ours, their goal is transparent living. They have been called out of darkness and daily walk in the direction of Light.

They know that Godliness and Holiness are products of God’s grace (Titus, Hebrews). They know with Paul, salvation begins by the Spirit and cannot be matured by human effort. Grace is the tool of the tutor. With it He calls and also empowers.

This is the generation being purified as they seek His face.

This is the generation to which I have been named.

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”Psalm 27:8

DAY 27 BEATITUDES – MATTHEW 15:1-20; 23:25-28

27BLESSED ARE PURE IN HEART…

The particular problem Jesus had with the Pharisees, at least as it relates to purity, was their hypocrisy. They pretended to be teaching God’s law but they had elevated man’s tradition instead. It’s a good example of “impurity” because by definition to be pure is to be of “one thing” with nothing else in the mix. They had the combo thing going….and to their own advantage.

As to personally being “pure in heart” one thing stands out. You have got to get the directions from the one true source – God. As in the John 15 passage – abiding comes to mind again. The Pharisees had stopped doing that. Instead they shifted their allegiance to someone’s application of God’s law instead of God’s law itself. Having “nailed it down” so to speak, they no longer needed God to speak to them.

“…they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

It is amazing to me how true this is today. Whether it is some highly regarded Christian figure or some misapplied teaching so firmly entrenched it is above new scrutiny or your own preferred news outlet, we are in danger of being blind followers of blind guides.

I can’t take on every question that comes down the pike these days but I can “not follow” until my heart is given clear direction.

The only cure for a less than singular heart for God is God’s voice through His Word and applied by His Holy Spirit to my heart.

———————————————-

Pure – free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from extraneous matter: (dictionary.com)

Heart – 2588 kardia – heart, “the affective center of our being”

“According to the Bible, the heart is the centre not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life.” (dictionary.com)

See Heart in Bakers Evangelical dictionary and Eastons Bible dictionary

DAY 26 BEATITUDES – MATTHEW 5:8

26BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART, FOR THEY WILL SEE GOD.

2513 katharós (a primitive word) – properly, “without admixture”

When I read through the many contexts “pure” is applied in the NT I get this summary:

  • Physically pure – purified by fire, cleansed by pruning
  • Clean – as in not forbidden
  • Ethically pure – free from corrupt desire’ sincere, genuine, blameless, innocent from sin or guilt

It’s pretty easy to admit, left to my own devices my heart is far from pure. I will and do fail at each of the three ideas about being uncontaminated. Still it seems I am to strive toward the goal of a pure heart.

And do I keep working at it in hopes one day I will actually get to see God? Chances are pretty slim my efforts will produce this end result. It makes me think of Peter when Jesus wanted to wash his feet.

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

Me: “Jesus, if you waiting for me to get pure in heart…well…I don’t know.”

Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean…

News flash to Peter…and good news to me. You are clean. You are Pure. Like so many benefits of salvation we stand pure before God because of what Jesus has done for us.

The trick is we don’t live in heaven. Down here on the ground we have a “mixed” nature. We are the word someone on IF found offensive “half-breeds”. We would like to live out of our “clean” self but that is a total bust except for this:

John 15:1-4 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me

Here is the way to pureness of heart –. That’s enough to think about for day one.