DAY 40 BEATITUDES – MATTHEW 5:10-11 DISCUSSION

40BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Persecution comes in many ways. It can be everything from a snide look to a firing squad. If I am the target of persecution because I am trying to live out my love for Jesus, then I am in good company.

In my current lifetime, persecution could come at any time and from any source, and frankly, for any reason. All persecution is wrong as it is not only abuse but the opposite of love. In a nutshell it is the result of a fallen world that we torture and torment one another. But not every form of persecution comes with the promise of the kingdom of heaven. This is reserved for the one who is targeted because of their relationship with Jesus.

Frankly I think some may receive abuse because of their Christian name tag rather than their relationship. I don’t know how this plays out in God’s economy. Do I get the kingdom because I was attacked sitting in a church pew? The verdict is unclear.

This I do know. If I live for Jesus by trying to demonstrate each of the beatitudes then I’m going to be swimming upstream, maybe gets some sideways glances or a poke in the eye. In that moment I will chose. Will I keep going or flip and go with the flow?

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:2-3

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DAY 39 BEATITUDES – ACTS 5:17-42

39THE APOSTLES – ONES WHO WERE PERSECUTED

There are two brave statements in this passage. I can learn from each of them.

Peter and the apostles affirm that if the choice is clearly about following man or following God, they will follow and obey God. The apostles had a very clear message and I think this made their choice simple. They were certain of the fidelity of their cause. For me then, I must weigh the purity of my case. This means prayer and seeking God’s face.

The second brave statement comes from Gamaliel. He is a man of great wisdom. I think he is actively following God rather than man too. He affirms the God will have His way and will not be thwarted. He affirms a course of purity by submitting that he and the others might not really know the best answer. In doing so He honors God in waiting for God to reveal His own way.

DAY 38 BEATITUDES – 1 CORINTHIANS 4:7-18

38…FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

The answer to persecution seems to be related to how much I understand and believe that the Father loves me. Like Abraham who was obedient in being willing to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, so I must believe that suffering is not the worst thing that could happen.

Instead I need eyes that view the true capacity of the God I serve. Abraham was convinced that even if Isaac died, God was able to raise him from the dead. Paul testifies here that even in great suffering he and his people were not destroyed.

Trusting in the Father’s love says that I believe He has promised glory on the other side of suffering.

DAY 37 BEATITUDES- JOHN 15:17-27

37

BLESSED ARE THOSE PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE…

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

Jesus said He was hated because His message was in contrast to what people preferred to hear. He was Light to their Darkness and most were not thrilled. I dare say to live “in the world but not of the world” does make one the odd man out. Jesus understood this would happen and since a “servant is not greater than his master,” he wanted the disciples to understand it too.

The interesting thing to me is what he says after the part about hate.

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

The short version of what this tells me is this: When under fire, lean on the Holy Spirit and remember I have been chosen to be His. I will survive whatever comes because I have a promise: Mine is the Kingdom of Heaven.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PERSECUTE 1377 diṓkō – properly, aggressively chase, like a hunter pursuing a catch (prize). in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one; to persecute

HATE 3404 miséō – properly, to detest (on a comparative basis); hence, denounce; to love someone or something less than someone (something) else, i.e. to renounce one choice in favor of another

DAY 36 BEATITUDES – MATTHEW 5:10-11

36BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. BLESSED ARE YOU WHEN OTHERS REVILE YOU AND PERSECUTE YOU AND UTTER ALL KINDS OF EVIL AGAINST YOU FALSELY ON MY ACCOUNT. REJOICE AND BE GLAD, FOR YOUR REWARD IS GREAT IN HEAVEN, FOR SO THEY PERSECUTED THE PROPHETS WHO WERE BEFORE YOU.

The world would say protect yourself, keep your guard up, work to build your own comfortable, safe place and stay inside it. The Kingdom lifestyle is just exactly the opposite. It says open up, lay down your armor, give yourself away. Go outside and don’t be surprised that it’s dangerous. It’s always been dangerous.

So, I see this last Beatitude as reminder that if you are living this upside-down vulnerable lifestyle it is sometimes going to seem like a dumb idea!

Every time I exercise one of those “blessings” the potential return could be a snake instead of a fish. This is what the Enemy would like me to believe: Poor people are needy, mourners are sissies, the meek are wimps, the zealots – obnoxious, compassion is soft, the lily-whites get splattered in mud and peacemakers – well – they get shot at.

Jesus says, “I know, I know. I really do.”

I think that is why He tells me right here, there are blessings to this kind of life that go way beyond today. I don’t think I would get it if He didn’t spell it out.

It’s hard and it’s dangerous but be strong and courageous. This is the way to become like Jesus.

As for the current mission, I’m training for Lighthouse duty.

“Cover me Jesus, I’m goin’ in!”

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

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!