Saturday, December 3, 2016

Claim Your Inheritance (79)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven

For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. What does that mean to you?

Jesus spoke a lot about the kingdom of Heaven. The first time we read is in Matthew 4 where he says “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The kingdom of heaven is very near. In the verse we are considering, he says that those who are blessed by being persecuted for righteousness sake are in possession of the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus began the blessings with the promise of the kingdom of heaven and here near the end of the blessings he promises it again. It seems to me that this may indicate that what comes between has a significant part in this business of possessing the kingdom of heaven.

As I endeavor to incorporate the virtues of the blessings into my life I find difficulty all around. The old nature wants to stand up and demand that things not change but remain as they always were. But if I by faith, turn away from the old ways and pursue the new life in Jesus, that embraces the virtues, I will suffer, but I will also enter into the kingdom of heaven. It will be mine.

Yesterday I shared a passage that is especially encouraging. In 1 Peter 1:4 it speaks of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that does not fade away, which is reserved in heaven for you.

When a minor child is provided with an inheritance, there are usually qualifications to be fulfilled in order to receive that inheritance. This is usually something like coming of age or completing schooling.

In the case of the kingdom of heaven, some of the qualifications are set out in the beatitudes. The gifts or inheritance is explained in the blessings.

As we believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, let us also believe and enter into obedience to his words. This is how I can enter into the kingdom of heaven, this is how I claim my inheritance and it becomes mine.

an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that does not fade away, which is reserved in heaven for you.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Faith Tested and Proven (day 78)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
As I am thinking and praying about what else to say about this concept, I have come across a passage so powerful and so complete that I feel that I can add nothing to it. Please read this passage slowly and allow the Spirit of God to speak to your heart.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

God builds me up as I am able (day 77)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The persecution for righteousness sake that most of us have to learn to endure might seem to most as simply the irritations of life.

How can that be persecution for righteousness sake?

In those little irritations, I can learn to be patient. In those little irritations, I can learn to answer kindly.

If you truly desire to be a disciple of Jesus, this is a desire you have received from God, and God will be your help and guide in this process. Truly discipleship is a process.

And as God is your helper and guide, he cares especially for your progress. Paul tells us;

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
God measures our trials to us in proportion to our ability. If I cannot stand the loss of a few dollars without becoming depressed and irritated, God knows that I am not ready to be faithful in the loss of a loved one.

All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
If you are believing these words of God, words of faith, you can say with confidence, “nothing bad ever happens to me.” Right after Romans 8:28, in verse 29 it says;

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
This is God’s purpose for each one of us, that we become like Jesus.

Have you accepted God’s purpose as your own?

In order for an athlete to become stronger he must continually exercise his muscles with harder and harder exercises until his goal is reached. It is the same for each of us.

Jesus says; Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every one that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:2)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Find Your Joy (day 76)

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into different kinds of temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)

WOW! Did you see that “all joy”? And Jesus says “blessed”.

Have you ever gotten really happy when you were tempted to become angry, impatient or discouraged?

Of course, this is easy to talk about when you’re warm and dry and there is food in the ‘frig. But what about when the car won’t start, again? What about when the rent is due now and pay day is a week away? What about when your son or daughter is sick and you can’t afford the doctor or the medicine? These are real trials. These are real temptations.

This is where I truly show my faith. Do I count it all joy or do I doubt and become discouraged and disagreeable? God’s word says that I should count it as joyful when things don’t go my way.

If I will be faithful God’s word promises that patience will be developed in me and I will become perfect lacking nothing. Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven will be mine.

Do you believe it? Will you purpose in your heart to live this promise?

When our son was young, I would listen to his prayers at night. One night he prayed that God would help him be patient with his sisters. We had a talk about how God could help him the most to be patient. It was not by them being agreeable all the time. No, we can only learn patience when things don’t go our way.

Recently I realized that patience is not a gift from God. Trials and temptations are the gift, because they develop patience in me.

Father in Heaven, help me to always be mindful that trials and temptations are the gift that you give me to strengthen my faith so that I can learn patience and become perfect and complete in you. What a wonderful Joy! Amen

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Way into the Kingdom (day 75)

Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
“Persecuted for righteousness sake,” what does that mean?
I had thought that this was persecution that resulted from being righteous. But is that what it says?

The way it is written it could mean because I am righteous, but it could also mean, in order to help me become righteous. There is some reason to think that this may be accurate if you look at Acts 14:22
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
When Paul exhorted the disciples as he was passing through the different cities he did not tell them, “everything is taken care of just be happy Christians”. No, he exhorted them to continue in faith and expect to have difficulty. This is the way into the kingdom of God.

It is absolutely true and correct that Jesus died to pay the debt of sin, to reconcile us to God, to redeem us. But we are still exhorted to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

What does that mean?

I suspect it means more than, ‘pick up your ‘get out of Hell free’ card on your way out of the baptistry.’

At the end of the sermon on the mount, Jesus says,

Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock.
DOING the things Jesus tells me to do is not always pleasant, especially at first. Often when I am instructed to do a thing that is contrary to my will, it seems that I am being persecuted. In the case of the commands of Jesus, very much of what he tells me to do is contrary to my will, although it is the very best thing for me to do, and leads to the abundant life that he promised.

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father does not chasten? But if you are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then you are bastards and not sons. (Hebrews 12:7)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Expect Persecution (day 74)

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Many years ago, when I began this journey of discovery in the blessings, these last 2 gave me some real problems. Because they seemed to be way too similar. But as I have thought and prayed over them, I believe God has shown me that they are radically different.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
The first thing I notice is that this blessing follows the same form as the first 7. It is pronounced in the third person; Blessed are they”.

However, it is different in that being persecuted is not something that I can strive to attain. It is something that will or won’t happen to me. But there is no doubt about will or won’t. Jesus says;

I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me. In the world, you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
There is a verse of promise that many people like to think of, but do you think of it in connection with this verse from John 16? That popular promise verse is Romans 8:28.

All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
God’s Word says we are blessed when we are persecuted. Jesus has said that we can have peace in Him when we have tribulation. And Paul said “ALL THINGS work together for good.”

Today I am challenged to simply believe what seems hard to believe. I am challenged to find peace in Jesus in the midst of tribulation and trial.

Blessed Father in Heaven, your word tells me that your thoughts are not my thoughts and your ways are not the ways I would choose. Your ways are as the heavens are above the earth, higher than anything I can understand or comprehend. Give me grace Blessed Father to accept the truth of your word until I can understand more of your way. (ref Isaiah 55:8-9)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Reconciled (day 73)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.
The truly good news, the best news of all time is that though we were in total rebellion toward God, God in his merciful love sent Jesus to reconcile all men to himself.

Anyone who has lived from paycheck to just about paycheck has probably had some experience with a check book. If you have one of these, it is a good idea from time to time to reconcile your check book. For those who are not aware of what I’m talking about, you need to get a statement from your bank that tells of the transactions that they have processed and make sure that your record agrees with the bank. When your record agrees with the bank’s statement you have peace with the bank. It does not work the other way round. Sometimes banks do make mistakes, but rarely, very rarely.

The God who made you and me designed us to function best in proper relationship to Himself and gave us instructions so we would be able to be happy and at peace with all of his nature.

Unfortunately, in our arrogance and stupidity we have come up with thousands of “better ideas”. And so, our lives are unimaginably out of balance with God.

When you are balancing your check book and find that you and the bank do not agree, you need to find out where the difference occurred and make a correction, usually to your own record. Sometimes you can’t find the problem. Then you must insert what is called a reconciling entry. The bank will almost never, if ever, make the reconciling entry in your favor, when you are the cause for the difference.

That is exactly what God has done in the case of Jesus.

We were out of balance with God and God’s nature. God sent Jesus to live a life in balance, in agreement, in union with Him and his nature in order to show us what that looks like. And then he was executed according to God’s plan, to make the reconciling adjustment for our arrogance and rebellion.

whereas God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us. (2 Corinthians 5:19)