Beatitudes, Part 9

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

No one was more loving and compassionate than Jesus. No person was more careful about the words he said than Jesus. You will never find a human being who sacrificed more of himself for the good of others, including his enemies, than Jesus.

If there was any person that could preach, talk, and live in a way that should have not offended anyone, it was Jesus. But as I heard in a sermon recently by Kevin Clark, “Not even Jesus could pull that off!” In fact, Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way” (Luke 6:26). They slaughtered Jesus, the most pure and loving person in history.

We will suffer persecution.

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). If people spoke against Jesus, then those around you will speak against you when you follow Jesus (John 15:18-19). I may want a pain-free walk with Jesus, but Jesus calls me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him.

Persecution comes in various forms.
  • The liberal, godless media will make fun of your values.
  • Professors, fellow students and teammates will mock you publicly because you believe in God and His word.
  • Politicians and elected officials may mock the very morals and beliefs you hold dear, and they do so to thunderous applause.
  • Your spouse may decide to turn against you because of your convictions.
  • Close friends may abandon you because you desired to live for Jesus.
  • Your boss may fire you.
  • Your co-workers may deliberately do things to make you look bad in front of the boss.
  • Sometimes even Christians, who are holding hands with the world, will tease you and put down your beliefs. They do this for self-justification to assuage their own guilt.
Jesus says to “rejoice” because we are “blessed!”

We have God’s favor; God is smiling upon us. We are blessed for several reasons:

  • “Yours is the kingdom of heaven.” We are citizens, sons and heirs of His kingdom now! He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6)!
  • For so persecuted the prophets before you…” We also are blessed because we are in great company…the prophets of old (Elijah, Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah). That’s pretty good company!
  • “Great is your reward in heaven.” One day we all will be in heaven with God, and this temporary suffering will be swallowed up in God’s eternal glory.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).

Beatitudes, Part 8

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

We are reeling as a nation once again from a deadly mass shooting, the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history. Hate is real; evil is real; Satan is real.

If there was ever a time that we need to be peacemakers as God’s men, it is now.

What does it mean to be a peacemaker?

The word literally means to make peace. As citizens of God’s kingdom, we must seek to produce an environment of peace both in our lives and in the lives of those around us. But what kind of peace? Jesus’ peace is not what the world offers (John 14:27). Jesus’ peace is not freedom from conflict. Jesus’ peace is not accepting the evil choices of others. Jesus’ peace is not about being silent on truth (Matthew 10:34).

  1. Jesus’ peace is about reconciling people to God. “In the world we have tribulation,” Jesus said, “but in Me you have peace” (John 16:33). Through the blood of Jesus which He offered for us on the cross, we can have peace with God and be reconciled to Him (Colossians 1:20-22). There is no better way that we can be “peacemakers” than to bring people to the blood of Jesus so that they can be at peace with God. Only when we are at peace with God can we truly be at peace with each other. Are you at peace with God through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:7)?
  2. Jesus’ peace is about having a heart for healthy resolutions to conflicts and disagreements. Peace in relationships is something we have to pursue. It takes all the strength we can muster sometimes. This concept is repeated often in Scripture. “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another” (Romans 14:19; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 3:11). Jesus gave us advice on how to handle conflicts with each other. Read the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. Read Matthew 18, the whole chapter. We must seek to have a soft answer that will hopefully turn away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). At our congregation recently, we heard a great sermon from Kevin Clark where he reminded us to be the kind of people that turn down the temperature. We must not be the kind of people who ratchet up the rhetoric, push people’s buttons, and retaliate for every insult and jab thrown our way. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18).

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:17-18).

Beatitudes, Part 7

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

The pure in heart shall “see God.” How do we “see” God?

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. In order to be accepted into His holy presence and to have the King’s favor, we must be purified and cleansed. We are cleansed by the Holy Spirit working through the word of G0d (1 Peter 1:22) and our consciences are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:14; 10:22). It is then that we begin to “see” things in a different way. We are looking through spiritual eyes, through heavenly glasses, if you will.

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart… (Psalms 24:3-4).

Men with pure hearts see the world through God’s eyes and are aware of His presence in every aspect of their lives. The wisdom that is “from above is first pure…” (James 3:17). Wisdom first requires purity of heart. We can’t see things the way God sees them if our minds and souls are filthy.

Men with dirty minds cannot see God in anything. When we have dirty minds and corrupt hearts, everything becomes dirty.

To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled (Titus 1:15).

I’m sure you know guys in your life at work or school who take anything good and turn it into something filthy. Maybe you find yourself right now in that state of filthiness. Pornography and Hollywood have had a significant and destructive impact on the minds of many, including Christian men. If we want to “see God,” both in this life and the next, we need to clean up our minds. We may appear outwardly righteous to men, but if inwardly we are corrupted, then God knows (Matthew 23:25-28). If you are struggling with keeping your mind pure, go to God in prayer (Psalm 51:10), and then go to your Christian brothers and beg for prayers and help (James 5:16).

There is another sense of “seeing God,” and that is when we will see Him at His return when He takes us home to heaven. In order to see God in heaven, we must be pure and holy here on earth.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure (1 John 3:2-3).

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Beatitudes, Part 6

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

We continue our Monday series on the Beatitudes. Today is about being merciful and receiving mercy.

What is mercy? I have heard it described as “not giving someone what they deserve.” That is certainly part of it.  God had mercy on us when He laid on Jesus the penalty that we rightly deserved (Isaiah 53:6; Galatians 3:13). Paul said he “obtained mercy” from God, even though he was the “chief” of sinners (1 Timothy 1:13,16).

Another aspect of this word mercy, according to Vincent’s Word Studies, carries with it “the sense of human wretchedness coupled with the impulse to relieve it.” Repeatedly, this word “mercy” is used in the ministry of Jesus when people suffering in various ways cried out to Jesus, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” And He did.

What precedes mercy? Look at Ephesians 2:4-5 and see what character quality leads to having mercy on others.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…”

How could a just and holy God look upon such wretchedness and wickedness which defines the human condition (Ephesians 2:1-3) and have mercy? Paul said it was “because of His great love.” Love precedes mercy. Without love, you can have no mercy. Love drives God to find a way to remove the misery of our condition. Love drives God’s compassion.

Men, consider how great of a love the Father has for you, and how much mercy God has showered upon you. Meditate upon it today. Pray about it, thank God and praise Him for “His abundant mercy” (1 Peter 1:3).

Next, pray that His love will fill your heart, so that you will also show this same compassion and mercy upon others in your life. When you look upon the physical suffering of others, have compassion…Jesus did. When you look upon the sins of others, even when those sins have personally hurt you deeply, have mercy, that’s what God did for you. We still have to confront the sins of others, but God’s mercy should fill our hearts as we do so.

If you and I want to receive mercy from Jesus, then we must first be merciful to others. If you want to study this further, look at all of the following passages which teach that those who are unmerciful and unforgiving will be shown the same treatment by a righteous and just God (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-35; Mark 11:25-26; Ephesians 4:32; James 2:13; 1 Peter 3:7).

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Beatitudes, Part 5

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

In order to be filled, you have to eat and drink. In order to eat and drink, you have to be hungry and thirsty. It may seem obvious, I know, but why are people not filled with the righteousness that only comes from God’s Word? Because they are not hungry for it. They are already full. Full of themselves. Full of the wisdom of this world. Full of entertainment, materialism and busy-ness.

Let us quickly review the previous Beatitudes and connect it to being hungry and thirsty for righteousness. When someone becomes “poor in spirit” they recognized their brokenness before Jesus. This leads to a “mourning” of our desperate condition, which produces a “meekness” in which we are of the state of mind to completely submit to the will of Christ with a mild and gentle spirit. We want to follow Jesus, and only Jesus, but we don’t know how.

That kind of heart is hungry and thirsty for God’s word, because we recognize like Peter that only Jesus has the “words of eternal life” (John 6:68). We have “tasted” that God is kind and good, and we become like newborn babies hungry for milk (1 Peter 2:1-3). You don’t typically have to tell a baby to eat! A soul who is hungry understands that man just cannot live by bread alone, but what really makes us live is every single word that comes out of God’s mouth (Matthew 4:4). We are willing to take any crumb that falls from Jesus’ table (Matthew 15:27). Those words of Jesus truly are the Bread of Life (John 6:58,63). If we come to Him and eat and drink of His words, we will never hunger or thirst (John 6:35).

Men, I know that by reading these articles you show a hunger for the Word, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading them. Continue to live these concepts and shine that light for other men. We need men who are hungry and thirsty for God in our churches, in our homes and in our nation. Be that example for others.

“But his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

For further study, here are a few verses to consider:

  • My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).
  • God promised His people that He would send a famine, not of bread or water, but of hearing the words of the Lord (Amos 8:11-12). Because God’s people Israel did not listen to His word, He took it away from them, and sent them into captivity. Let us not repeat history!
  • Timothy was counseled by the apostle Paul to meditate upon God’s word and to give himself entirely to it (1 Timothy 4:13-16).
  • Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
  • As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath (Act 13:42).

Beatitudes, Part 4

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

What does it mean to be “meek”? Some translations say gentle. Thayer’s defines this work as a “mildness of disposition, and a gentleness of spirit.” Others describe this word as “strength under control.” The ancient Greeks used this term in the domestication of wild animals, or the horse brought under the control of the bridle.

The photo attached to this article is of a recent brawl that happened between the Blue Jays and Rangers. These men with lots of talent, muscle, and testosterone let their emotions get the better of them and the fists started flying. Their strength was not under control.

Meekness, however, is not about weakness. Jesus is self-described as “meek (gentle) and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). But what does that mean? He could have zapped all of us into oblivion for what we have done against Him. When on this earth, Jesus with a word raised Lazarus from the dead and calmed the storm of Galilee. But when He was being crucified, He was described as being a silent Lamb led to the slaughter. His strength was under control, because His heart was tender and completely submissive to His Father’s will. He sought the Father’s glory.

Moses was called the meekest (most humble) person on earth in Numbers 12:3. Moses had great power from God, but like Jesus, his heart sought God’s glory. It wasn’t about Moses. When he was confronted, grumbled against, and threatened, he fell on his face and went to the Lord in prayer. That is the picture of meekness.

Meekness is not about personality. We get this confused sometimes. We think because someone is quiet and introverted that they are a “meek” person. Do not be fooled by outward appearance…some of the most stubborn people can be the quietest people. A person can have a pleasant and mild disposition around people, but his heart may not be submissive to the will of God. Don’t think that just because someone is extroverted and talkative that he is not “meek.” Paul was very bold and stern at times, but he was meek. His heart sought God’s glory and that reflected in how he treated others (2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 6:1-5).

Meekness is all about how we see God and our relationship to Him. Think about the first two Beatitudes. If I am “poor in spirit,” then I recognize my utter bankruptcy before Him. It leads me to “mourn” for the condition in which I find myself. But then, I realize that I need to fully submit to the Father’s will. My strength is now under the control of Jesus. That is meekness (James 1:21; 4:10).

Men, Jesus is calling you to be meek: to harness your will and bridle your soul to follow His will and His way (Matthew 11:28-30).

Conflict Resolution: God’s Example

This week we are going to focus on conflict resolution in our various relationships.  Have you ever noticed the bible is full of conflict?  The disciples of Jesus seemed to argue a lot, Jesus Himself was in constant friction with the religious leadership, and you might even call Paul the Apostle of conflict. He had to oppose Peter to his face, he had a sharp disagreement with Barnabas over John Mark, and he seemed to have to defend his apostleship constantly. We don’t have time to review all the examples throughout the Old Testament. Elijah and Ahab/Jezebel, Sarai and Hagar, Saul and David, Moses and Miriam/Aaron, just to name a few. The book of Job is mostly one big argument between Job and his friends.

Is it any different today? Do you have a single relationship in your life that hasn’t experienced conflict? Conflict goes all the way back to the beginning of man’s existence when Adam and Eve ate of the tree and created conflict with God. Today it is this essential conflict, between God and man, we are going to explore in order to learn how to resolve conflict in all of our relationships.

The most significant relationship we have in this life is with our God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Every single one of us has experienced conflict in this relationship because of sin. Look at Romans 5 and consider what God did to resolve this conflict.

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through Him.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”  Romans 5:6-10   

God initiated the reconciliation:  “While we were still helpless…while we were enemies”, God took action. He didn’t wait for our willingness or even our acknowledgement of the problem.

Reconciliation did not depend on our “worthiness:  Notice the words used to describe us in this text…”helpless”, “ungodly”, “sinners”, and “enemies”. They don’t really scream of our worthiness do they? Did we deserve His efforts towards resolution?

God sacrificed, to His own hurt, to resolve the conflict because He loved us:  “God demonstrated His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Not only did God take the first step towards reconciliation for a bunch of unworthy enemies but He did it at great personal cost because He loved us. Not a warm fuzzy feeling but vulnerable, sacrificial, painful love. Conflict resolution starts with love.

God offers reconciliation but doesn’t force anyone to accept it:  The vast majority of people will reject the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Do you think God knew that when He initiated the plan for our redemption? Do you think Jesus knew that when He hung up there on the cross? Yet God still acted. God still reached out to resolve the conflict.

In sending and sacrificing Jesus, God provides us the motivation and the pattern to resolve conflict within all our relationships. We must have the trust and the courage to follow His example. But there is one last thing to consider. Think on past conflicts or current conflicts. How often is the conflict 100% one person’s fault? Usually both parties share some of the blame and even when someone else might start the conflict, my improper reaction will often escalate the situation. Now what about our conflict with God? Our choice to sin is what caused the conflict and it was 100% our fault and yet…God still reached out and provided us with a path towards reconciliation. What excuse are we left with?

________

Note from Aaron: We will pick back up on the Monday Beatitude series next Monday (May 16), Lord willing.

Beatitudes, Part 3

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

We are continuing our Monday series on the “Beatitudes” that Jesus delivered in His Sermon on the Mount. Today we are going to meditate on mourning. Blessed are those who are crying. Happy are the sad?

Is Jesus talking about everyone who cries? Are all tears promised comfort by God? I do not believe Biblically we can say that all people who are ever sad are promised to be consoled (Proverbs 1:24-33). Remember the context of these Beatitudes – Jesus is talking about the character and mindset of people who will be citizens in His kingdom.

One type of mourning that I know has a promise of comfort by God is when we mourn over our sins and lament our desperate condition spiritually before God. This is called “godly sorrow” by the apostle Paul and it leads to repentance without regret. This sorrow leads to eternal life, in contrast to the worldly sorrow that produces death (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Just a quick word here about worldly sorrow. You are sorry that you got caught. You are sorry that you lost something here on this earth because you got caught (reputation, possessions, illicit relationships, etc.). I am sorry I got a speeding ticket, but I’m not really going to stop speeding…I’ll just keep a better eye out for the cops this time. That kind of sorrow leads to death, and it does not have any promises of comfort in the end.

Take a look at James 4. Here we see the Beatitudes of Jesus from James’ perspective.

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:7-10)

What did James just say? “Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.” This, I believe, captures what Jesus is really talking about in the Beatitudes. This is the sorrow that truly leads to comfort by Jesus. It is the sorrow of David in Psalm 51 after he sinned with Bathsheba, and it is the godly sorrow of 2 Corinthians 7:10.

Specifically we are mourning over our sins. It pains us to know we have hurt God and broken His laws. The realization haunts us that those sins were laid on Jesus at the cross as He was slaughtered as our Passover Lamb. We lament and cry over our spiritual situation. As we look into the mirror of God’s word, we see that we are lost, broken, and helpless. We need a Savior.

Consider this parable by Jesus which I believe fits very well with this discussion.

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

The man who went to his house justified was the man who mourned. He beat his breast. Because he knew his position before God, he could not even look up into heaven. He needed mercy and salvation. According to Jesus, he got it. Comfort was promised because he truly mourned.

Watch this video. This garbage worker found an old piano that someone regarded as trash and began to play beautiful music with it. I believe that is exactly what Jesus does with us. He takes us when we are at our lowest, and through His grace He plays beautiful music as He restores us and revives us.

Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. (Psalm 51:8)

The Beatitudes, Part 2

“Clearly there has never been a teacher in human history more at odds with everything men in their wisdom have thought to be right than Jesus of Nazareth.” – Paul Earnhart

Last Monday, we began to consider the “Beatitudes” of Jesus in Matthew 5:1-12. Beatitude is a word which means “blessed” or “happy.”

When are you blessed or happy according to Jesus? Only when you are poor in spirit, hungry, thirsty, mourning and persecuted. Really? Would we think in our fleshly minds that a person who is hungry, mourning and persecuted is blessed or happy? Let’s start to dig into what Jesus is getting at in these Beatitudes.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

Who will take residence in the kingdom of heaven? Who are the sons and daughters of God in the Messiah’s kingdom? Those who are poor in spirit.

The word for poor here means to “crouch like a beggar.” A person who begs has no other option but to fall at the mercy of others for assistance. He has been reduced to begging for every little morsel because he, for whatever reason, cannot make it on his own. The pride and dignity have gone, the quest for a perfect image is out the window, he is simply helpless and powerless. “Somebody help me, please.”

Now, Jesus and other Bible writers often talk about poor people and rich people, but I do not believe Jesus in this context is talking about money. He is talking about souls, attitudes and the condition of our hearts.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

Let’s look at an example to illustrate Jesus’ words.

David, after he sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband killed, was rebuked by the prophet Nathan and punished by the Lord (2 Samuel 11-12). Psalm 51 was written by David during this dark time in his life as he sought forgiveness and healing from God.

We are told in Psalm 51 what kind of spirit God is looking for, and it parallels perfectly with Jesus’ statement about being “poor in spirit.” David wrote, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). The word broken here means “crushed, torn, burst.” The word contrite here means “to collapse.” A broken spirit is what David had. All pride was gone. All desire to live for self was gone. He was empty. He was spiritually destitute. He collapsed before God because his soul was crushed and only God could heal it and revive it.

God is looking for broken spirits. He is looking for the poor in spirit. Until we have exhausted all other options and have spent our time, energy and being on all the things of this world that do not truly satisfy, then we just don’t look to God as our only hope. We need to be broken first. That is the painful reality. We have to become poor so that we can be rich.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…” (James 4:8).

Another example that I believe perfectly illustrates this principle is the woman with the blood issue who reached out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:42-48). She had spent all her money on doctors and treatments, but only grew worse. 12 years of suffering that seemed endless. She had no other option left. The woman was anemic, weak and dying. Then she heard about Jesus of Nazareth. Through her powerlessness and helplessness she reached through the crowd in faith and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. She believed with full confidence that if she just touched His garment she would be healed.

Jesus stopped in the crowd that was “thronging” Him, turned around and asked, “Who touched My clothes?” Peter and the rest of His disciples thought that was pretty crazy, considering everybody was touching him. They were being knocked around all the time because of the crowd. But Jesus recognized the touch of faith. He recognized the touch of a person who was poor in spirit.

Final thought, “Does Jesus know your touch?” Is your touch the one of someone who is “poor in spirit,” or is your touch just one of the crowd?

The Beatitudes, Part 1

For the next several Mondays, we are going to look at what are called the “Beatitudes” from Matthew 5:1-12. The word “Beatitude” is from a Latin word for “blessed” or “happy,” which if you look at how each verse begins from verse 3 to verse 11 you can see why. Jesus began each statement with “Blessed” or “Happy” is the person who has certain qualities.

Please take time this morning to read Matthew 5:1-12. For this morning, I will make a few quick initial observations.

Kingdom Citizens. Jesus is the King, the Messiah, and the King decides who will be a citizen of His kingdom. His kingdom is like no other, it is a kingdom not of this world (John 18:36). His focus as King of a heavenly kingdom is totally opposite of the mindset of a king of this world. If I am to be a citizen of Christ’s kingdom, what character traits is He looking for in me?

Paradox. Think of how crazy this must sound to someone of the world. It might even sound crazy to you. Jesus said, “Happy” are the poor, the mourners, the hungry, and the persecuted? That just doesn’t make sense to my human mind. If you really take time to think about that, it says loudly that Jesus’ kingdom is like no other. If we want to be a part of His kingdom, we have to turn our thinking upside down and inside out.

Compare the Book of James. I encourage you if you want to study more and go deeper to take the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5-7 and compare it with the book of James. James highlights and reiterates a lot of points that Jesus made in this sermon.

Next Monday’s article: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”