Persecution

Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:10 NIV).

In the eighth and final Beatitude Jesus tells those who are truly poor in spirit, mourning over their sin, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart and peacemaking they can expect persecution. The more a person is transformed into Christ’s image, walking in His Ways, whose allegiance is to Him and His Kingdom, the more one will face hostility and persecution from the world.

The Beatitudes end with the same reward as the first “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” All of these Beatitudes go together. We cannot pick and choose which of the Beatitudes we are going to follow. While some may be easier than others, we are called to live in righteousness, imitating Jesus.

Matthew continues saying, “‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you'” (vv 11-12).

In these verses Jesus moves from the third person plural to the second person plural. While Jesus was speaking to His disciples/followers at that time, the same is true for us today: “Blessed are y’all when people insult y’all, persecute y’all and falsely say all kinds of evil against y’all because of me…great is you all’s reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before y’all.

One of the things I love the most about Christianity is that it is NOT cookie-cutter. Each believer is unique, individually made with gifts and personal convictions tailored made for them. While the Body of Christ as a whole suffers persecution, so does each individual Christian. It is important to remember that not all Christians are “persecuted because of righteousness” in the same way.

Worldwide it is becoming ever more difficult to follow Christ. There is a price to pay. It is wise for all of us everywhere to ask God to prepare us and to help us endure the persecution that we will face. We need to ask Jesus to prepare us to endure because we are commanded to rejoice and be glad. Jesus has told us what to expect and He has also told us how to respond, rejoicing and being glad.

In Acts 5:41, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for [Jesus].” Jesus has left us no room to sulk, feel sorry for ourselves or be dismayed by persecution. Because Jesus commands us to rejoice and be glad in our persecution we are not to seek revenge nor retaliation.

Because Christ was persecuted, believers will be persecuted as well. Jesus reminds us that the prophets who went before us suffered persecution. Hebrews 11 recounts the great heroes of the faith and how all of them suffered in some way, never seeing the Promised Messiah. The writer of Hebrews then says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:1-3). 

We do not need to seek out persecution, if we are living for Christ, being transformed more and more into His image, insults and hardships will come. As the world persecuted Christ, so too will the world persecute His people. I do not claim to know what persecution, trials and hardships look like in your life, but I pray that you will be able to endure knowing that the Holy Spirit empowers and the Son intercedes on your behalf to the glory of God the Father.

Dear reader, as we conclude our time in the Beatitudes together, I want to thank you for walking through each of these with me. I am thankful that in the Christian life we never walk alone! The Beatitudes are just the beginning of the “Sermon on the Mount” and I am excited to see where the Lord takes us in the posts ahead. If there is ever any way that I can pray for you or come beside you and encourage you, NEVER hesitate to email me through my contact page.

Father God, may we never stop living the Beatitudes. May we never stop growing in our character and conduct. Lord God, prepare us to be persecuted because of righteousness. Help us to be poor in spirit because in both of these Beatitudes the reward is the kingdom of heaven. Lord God, remind us that we are Kingdom citizens who are to do Your will and way on this earth. Lord God, regardless of where we live may we be reminded that our allegiance is to you first and foremost. Lord God, as this world grows ever more hostile to You, may we seek refuge in Your Kingdom and not in the things of this world. Lord God, I ask that You continue to reveal and expose false prophets, teachers and ministries. Lord God, the world is watching and when they are not seeking to persecute Your people they are laughing. Lord God, in many ways the Gospel that is being promoted today is counter to what You teach in Your Word, especially in the Beatitudes. Lord God, imprint these Beatitudes in our minds, write them on our hearts so when we are in difficult situations we will know who You are and what we are to do. Thank You Lord for this reader. May they continue living in the ways that You have set before them. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Joseph and Potiphar

Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

Meanwhile the Midianites had sold [Joseph] in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard (Gen 37:36 ESV).

 It is well known that Joseph goes from being the favored son of Jacob, to being sold by his brothers to the Ishmaelites and then being sold by the Ishmaelites Joseph to Potiphar (see Genesis 37:1-35).

What is not well known is the significance of Potiphar’s title the captain of the guard. In Hebrew the root word for guard here is associated with slaughter or butcher. Alter states, “The actual responsibilities of this high imperial post remain unclear” (The Five Books of Moses, 2019, p. 144); however, I think we can make a connection that Potiphar had some degree of involvement with Pharaoh’s kitchen (as we will see in later events).

Joseph was both trustworthy and handsome (39:6). As much as Potiphar trusted Joseph, Potiphar’s wife wanted to seduce Joseph. Joseph continues to resist her advances until she had enough and told Potiphar that Joseph tried to lie with her (see vv 7-18). When Potiphar heard her story his “anger was kindled” (or “he burned with anger” NIV) and he put Joseph in prison (vv 19-20).

There are some misconceptions here. First, Potiphar was NOT angry with Joseph; he was angry with his wife. Potiphar is angry that she lied about Joseph trying to seduce her. Walton states, “Given his wife’s slander of his own motives [Potiphar bringing a Hebrew into the house to laugh at them], the proven trustworthiness of Jospeh, the fact that he is going to lose the services of a competent slave, and his knowledge of his wife’s character or lack of it, his anger arguably burns at his wife, not at Joseph” (J. Walton, Genesis, NIVAC, 2001, p. 671).

The second way we know that Potiphar believes Jospeh is because he did not have Jospeh executed immediately. To this point Walton states, “Jails were not common in the ancient world since imprisonment was not a standard punishment for crimes. If Potiphar truly believed that Joseph, his slave, was guilty of sexually assaulting his wife, execution would have been the swift and normal response” (J. Walton, “Genesis,” ZIBBC, 2009, p. 127). Potiphar puts Joseph imprison to keep his family’s honor and to preserve Joseph’s life. “The actions he takes against Joseph are as minimal as they can be” (Walton, Genesis, p. 672).

Later on we learn that “Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined” (Gen 40:2, emphasis mine). While Potiphar is not mentioned by name here, what is mentioned here is Potiphar’s title, captain of the guard.

Jospeh is not imprisoned in some other part of Egypt, he is “transferred to another part of Potiphar’s house” (“Genesis,” p. 127). This is why I think that guard has a connection to the kitchen. It only makes sense that Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and chief baker would be imprisoned at the house of the captain of the guard. The chief cupbearer and chief baker are vital to the survival of Pharaoh. Walton states, “The potential for assassination attempts through the king’s food was real and constant, so these officials not only needed to be incorruptible themselves, but also had to be able to hire people above reproach and to identify attempts at infiltration of the staff by enemies of the king…it seems logical to speculate that the king may have gotten sick from a meal” (“Genesis,” p. 128).

If in fact the chief baker and chief cupbearer were enemies of Pharaoh, it makes perfect sense why Potiphar, “the captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them and attended them [because] they continued for some time in custody” (v 4, emphasis mine). Potiphar, as the captain of the guard would not want anything to happen to Pharaoh under his watch. Potiphar already knows the kind of man that Joseph is and again, it is no wonder that he “appoints” Joseph to watch over them!

No two people would be closer to Pharaoh than the chief cupbearer and chief baker and at some point each of these men had a dream (v 5). God gave Joseph the ability to interpret the dreams correctly. The chief baker was hanged and the chief cupbearer was restored to his position (vv 6-23).

Two years later, God caused the cupbearer to remember the “young Hebrew… a servant of the captain of the guard (41:12, emphasis mine) who interpreted correctly the dreams of himself and the chief baker. Pharaoh then sent for Joseph. God caused Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dream correctly, thus being elevated to the second most powerful person in Egypt (vv 14-45). In which Joseph is used by God to save Israel and sons from the famine in the land. Truly what Joseph’s brothers meant for evil God used for good.

By looking at the historical-cultural background we can see even more how God’s Hand, Favor and Protection were upon Joseph. Joseph was with Potiphar for 11 years (how the time is divided between house and prison is unknown; see Walton, Genesis, p. 672). God uses unbelieving people to accomplish His will in His people’s lives, both in blessing and in consequence/discipline. Potiphar is part of Joseph’s story more than we realize. Who are the unbelieving people that God has used in your life?

Father God, thank You that when we look deeper into Your Word we learn more about the time and place in which Your people who went before us lived. Lord God, may we be reminded that Your common grace rains on both the just and the unjust. Lord God, thank You for the life and story of both Joseph and Potiphar. Their lives are intertwined more than we usually realize. Lord God, help us to be a people of integrity regardless of who is watching. Lord God, while You may not elevate us to the palace in this life, may we be mindful that Your Kingdom that is coming is more glorious, more majestic and magnificent than any palace this world has to offer. May we be encouraged by Your past workings in our lives and in the lives of others, so that we may endure our current circumstances and to eagerly await Your second coming and the consummation of Your Kingdom. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Peace: Maker or Breaker?

Photo by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matt 5:9 NIV).

“This beatitude is not about being a passively peaceful person but about being an active reconciler of people” (D. Turner, Matthew BECNT, 2008, n.p.). As a child of God we have no choice but to be peacemakers, just like we have no choice but to show mercy, mourn and be poor in spirit. This is not easy. This is hard work. This is messy. It is fitting that when one is pure in heart they would seek to make peace with God and others. For those of us who are in Christ, we are His ambassadors, His Agents of reconciliation in this dark and hurting world. There is a billboard in my town that says, “Know Jesus Know Peace; No Jesus No Peace.” I know all too well the truth of that saying.

I will confess I can be a peace-breaker far more than a peacemaker. I act like a peace-breaker when I demand to be heard, demand my own way, sow discord because I think I have been wronged. When I do not obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit when He stirs me to do something because of fear, anxiety or not wanting to be bothered, I am being a peace-breaker. When I am peace-breaking I am NOT acting like a called child of God; rather I am acting like the ruler of this world, the devil.

We all know this is not a peaceful world and it is becoming more hostile by the minute. God does not promise the world peace and reconciliation. He gives peace and reconciliation to His called, chosen, elect at salvation and continues to sanctify and make peace in His children’s lives when they obey and take heart in Him. “In a world full of all sorts of aggression, Jesus’s reminder that peacemakers (not warmongers) have God’s approval is sorely needed” (Turner, n.p.).

God’s shalom is more than just peace, it is wholeness. This shalom wholeness, completeness heals individually and corporately, so that individuals and the corporate Body of Christ can be agents of shalom in this world. Called in this verse is passive, we do not call ourselves children of God, God is the One who calls us His children. For those of us who are in Christ we are called His children now and at the end of the age.

Wherever you are today, if you do not know Christ, I pray that you will seek Him today while there is still time and for those who are in Christ may you be an agent of peace and reconciliation today.

Father God, thank You that Jesus is our Prince of Peace and that You are reconciling sinful people to Holy God by grace, through faith in Christ. Father God, thank You that You are able to put us together and make the broken pieces fit. Lord, when we look to the world for peace and reconciliation we will find that all the kings horses and all the kings men cannot put us nor Humpty Dumpty together again. Lord God, Your Church is sick and divided. We are seeking the things of this world rather than Your peace and reconciliation. May we seek common ground wherever possible. Lord God, for those of us who have experienced Your reconciliation, Your peace may we long to share that with others. May we be compelled to share Your Good News with others. Help us to be peacemakers rather than peace-breakers. Lord God, as the flowers and trees live peaceably together may Your people learn from nature as all creation points to You. Lord God, use this reader as an agent of Your peace and reconciliation. May we pour out our lives for You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

February 2021 Prayer

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Father God, thank You and praise You for this new month. As snow and ice cover the ground where many of us live, thank You that for those of us who are in Christ we are covered in Christ’s blood. Thank You Jesus that we are a people WITH hope!

Lord God, this life is not easy and discord is everywhere. Lord God, for those who are stronger in the faith, may they seek out people who are weaker to mentor and guide. Lord God, may we choose to look to You in these rapidly changing times. Lord God, now more than ever can Jesus followers be salt and light by being agents of calm and levelheadedness. Lord God, may Your people want to exercise self-control and common sense. Lord God, there is so much negativity, hostile emotions in this current culture. Lord God, help us to be people who point others to a different way.

Lord God, help us to grow in the next month in spending time with You. Lord God, prepare us for the coming challenges that we will face this month. Lord God, may we trust You more this month. Lord God, thank You for all the small and little ways that You work in our lives. Thank You that You have preserved Your Word for each generation. Lord God, stir individual hearts for You. Lord, compel us to pray for our unsaved loved ones more than ever as the time is growing shorter.

Like Moses Lord, teach how to number our days. You have etched eternity in each person’s heart. Lord God, please let the person reading this today who does not know Christ to seek Him while there is still time. Thank You Lord Jesus that You are still in the sinner saving business! Thank You Holy Trinity that You have not stopped Your ministry of reconciling sinful people by grace, through faith in Christ alone.

Lord God, thank You for this reader. May You fill this reader today with the Peace of Your Presence. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Pure in Heart

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matt 5:8 ESV)

In the Bible the heart is the center of a person’s life, housing their thoughts, emotions and will. “The heart is the center of the entire personality” (D. A Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World, 1987, p. 26). The only way that we receive this promise of seeing God now is by being pure in heart.

“Purity of heart must never be confused with outward conformity to rules” (Carson, p. 26). God is not impressed by our heartless religiosity. While the pure in heart “le[t] nothing stand in the way of [their] vision of Christ” (Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 2009, p. 37); the impure heart is one that is divided and noncommittal. This is the person who James calls double-minded (Jas 1:8; 4:8).

This Beatitude requires a heart check. We can invite the Holy Spirit to convict, test and search our hearts (Psalm 139:23-24) while answering questions such as: are we as committed to Him as we once were? How do our words and actions line up to what we find in Scripture? What or whom receives the greatest amount of our love and affection? How do you spend your down time?

In my first Seminary class, I traced purity from Genesis to Revelation for my Biblical Theme research paper. God gave me a line in that paper which has been the basis of my life for over four years, “purity is a manifestation of holiness and only a holy people can live with Holy God.” Our Triune God both in His Person and in His Work is Holy. For the believer in Christ, you are called to be holy. We are made holy at the time of our conversion and God in His grace and mercy continues to make us holy (sanctifies) until He calls us home.

However, we interrupt God’s plan for holiness in our lives when we seek the things of this world. When we respond in our flesh rather than in His Spirit. God cares about the purity of our thought lives. God also very much cares about the purity of our hearts in regards to the words we speak (whether oral or written). Are we speaking from a heart that wants to encourage and build up or are our words coming from a heart of jealousy, anger, hurt, a desire to be right?

In Psalm 24:3 David asks the question, “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?” He answers this saying, “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” (vv. 4-5).

When our hearts are pure before God and man, God allows us to see glimpses of Himself. The more our hearts are pure, the more we show mercy, the more we hunger and thirst for Him in meekness, mourning and in poor spirit, the more we will see God both now and in eternity “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (v. 3).

Father God, while the promise of this Beatitude is in the future, help us to want to keep our hearts pure now. Father God, there is so much turmoil and infighting between Your people right now. Instead of being salt, light and known for our love we are known for our disagreements and quarrels. Lord God, reveal and convict our hearts of idols and impurity. Lord God, may we seek You first. By meditating on You and Your attributes, the less we will think about ourselves and the more we will want to please, honor and tell others about You! In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Mercy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy (Matt 5:7 NIV)

As everyone across the globe knows, there is much emotion centered around the USA’s Inauguration today, January 20, 2021. From those who are posting decals saying, “Bye Bye Don,” to those like myself who are concerned about Biden/Harris policies, to those who outright say, “Biden is not my President,” there is no shortage of anxiety, outrage and turmoil in the USA and the world at large.

Whether we like it or not, “The Lord made mercy a foundation for his teaching” (Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible vol 2, 1988, p 1441; see also Matt 9:13; 12:7; 23:23; Luke 6:36; 10:37; James 3:17). The first four Beatitudes (poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness) are God centered in that our mindset and attitudes are centered on Him. The next three Beatitudes (5:7-10) are centered on a life lived rightly. Turner states, “God’s approval comes to those who relate to others with mercy, which includes pity plus action” (Matthew, BECNT, 2008, n.p.). As a present participle in Greek, showing mercy is continuous. When we show mercy we “exemplif[y] the conduct God demands of his people” (Osborne, Matthew, ZECNT, 2010, p. 168).

Like the previous Beatitudes, this one begins with a principle and ends with a reward, they will be shown mercy. “When we show mercy to others, we will receive mercy from God” (Osborne, p. 168). Praise God for the mercy that He has given and shown His people who are in Christ.

As such, regardless of what emotions you are experiencing today, regardless of where in God’s Creation you are located, regardless of your political leanings, I beg you in the name of Jesus to show mercy. Show mercy on those (especially other Christians) with whom you disagree. Whether you are elated, concerned about policies or think the election is illegitimate, I humbly ask you to show mercy and in return God will show mercy to you.

Lord God, if there is one thing this world is it is unmerciful. It is unrelenting in its sin, darkness and cruelty. I ask Lord that for those of us who are in Christ teach us what it looks like to show mercy in these rapidly changing times. Lord God, have mercy on Your people when we get it wrong in these rapidly changing times. Lord God, direct our minds, hearts and hands to extend mercy rather than hate and rage. Lord God, may we never forget that the mercy You showed us with our salvation was costly, the death of Your Son. Thank You Jesus that You are still seated on the Throne and that whatever happens is of no surprise to You. Lord God, prepare us and strengthen us today. Thank You for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Hunger, Thirst and Psalm 1

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matt 5:6 NIV).

Hunger and thirst are both present, active, participles in Greek, signifying continuous action. I do not know a better way to start 2021 then by hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

This is a deep longing like when you are famished and in need of food or “dying of thirst” so to speak. This righteousness is one that can only be filled or satisfied (ESV) by God. The righteousness that Jesus is speaking of here isn’t forensic, imputed righteousness, our right standing before God we receive at the time of salvation. The righteousness that Jesus is speaking about here is practical in that we are to want to do what God says is right and see what God says is right done on earth as it is in Heaven.

In light of Jesus’s call to upright living and correct conduct, I cannot help but to think of Psalm 1 which says:

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish
(ESV).

In Psalm 1 the blessed person does NOT walk, stand nor sit with the wicked, sinners or scoffers. The blessed person is the one who delights and meditates on God’s law, applying what He says.

As God continuously knows (qal, participle) the way of the righteous believer in Psalm 1, so too does He know the heart and conduct of the believer that is continuously and longingly hungering and thirsting for righteousness. The person whose conduct delights in meditating on the Word, seeking His will and righteousness to be done on the earth is the one who will be filled and satisfied both now and in eternity.

May this New Year be one where we hunger and thirst to know God and His righteousness more than ever before!

Father God, thank You that You Word is alive and practical! Thank You that when we famished in our hunger and thirst for You and Your righteousness that You will fill us. Lord God, stir this reader to want to know You more! Lord God, when we meditate on You and Your attributes, we decrease thinking about ourselves. Lord God, forgive us for all the ways that we fall short and bring shame to Your Name rather than glory, honor and praise. Lord God, thank You that You will one day hold all false prophets and false teachers accountable for the way they confuse and mislead people. Lord God, draw us closer to You today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Happy New Year! January 2021 Prayer

Father God, thank You for this new year and month! Thank You for new beginnings, new mercies each and every day! Lord God, prepare us for 2021 and 2021 for us! Lord God, may we seek and desire to be prepared to live even more fully and authentically with and for You in 2021!

Lord God, thank You that You call us to keep moving forward! While we are to reflect and learn from the past, our past is not to be an anchor weighing us down but a propeller moving us on. Lord God, may we be reminded that we are living in the land of in between. Your Kingdom has come but it is not yet consummated. May we persevere and have even greater awareness that this world is not our home!

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, for those who are in Christ may they start this new year with the reminder of who they are in Christ and their position in You as well. Lord, for the reader who does not know you, may today be the day of salvation. May today, the start of 2021 be the day where they come to trust Christ by grace through faith. Lord God, thank You that You are still saving sinners, sanctifying believers. May we thank and praise You that You are sovereign, controlling world events!

Thank You Jesus there is NO moment where you are not seated on the Throne! Thank You that NOTHING in 2021 will catch You off guard or surprise You! May we be optimistic about our walk with You this year regardless of our circumstances! May we be better prepared to handle change, challenge and hardship because of what we learned in 2020.

Lord God, may we trust You more this year rather than longing for comfort. I know this is an area where You are convicting me. I pray that I will grow in love, trust and obedience this year! Lord God, may we strip off our clothes of mourning and put on clothes celebrating You, manifesting Your fruit.

Lord God, may You strengthen this reader to hold fast to You this year. May this new year and new month be a time of renewal and refreshment. Lord God, may this time be one of excitement in what You will do knowing that You have been faithful in the past.

Lord God, thank You that Your Good News will continue to spread and thrive even when Satan, the world and the flesh does everything they can to stop and suppress it. May believers be reminded more this year that praise and prayer have power and both connect us to You and focus us on You and not our situations and circumstances.

Lord God, thank You for the gift of this reader! Lord, lead this reader by still waters today, where they will know that You love them and so do I! Thank You again Holy Trinity for the gift of new mercies and beginnings. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen and Amen.

Christmas Prayer 2020

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Father God, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to be born of a virgin, taking on flesh to dwell among sinful people to reconcile the whomsoever to Yourself.

Lord God, comfort those who are struggling today. Lord God, bring Peace today to those who are hurting. Lord God, thank You that NO earthly government will ever overrule Your Kingdom! Praise You Triune God that Jesus is seated at Your Right Hand ruling over nations because of His birth, death, burial, resurrection and ascension.

Lord God, whether Jesus was born on December 25 or in the spring or fall matters not; all that matters is that our Savior indeed was born and that He is real, He is alive and He is Immanuel, God with us! Yes and Amen, Lord! Father God, as Alan said yesterday, thank You that everyday for those who are in Christ have a White Christmas knowing that You are white, pure and perfect like snow and that for believers they are clothed in white robes with forgiven sins!

Triune God may we NEVER separate the Incarnation and the Resurrection. Without Jesus’s birth, there is no hope of salvation, without the Resurrection, Jesus is just another man who died. Praise God, that Jesus is both fully God and fully Man. May we savor and worship Jesus in greater awe and wonder this day.

Thank You Lord for this reader. May Your Presence be their greatest Christmas Present! Lord God, Praise You that Peace is a Person and His Name is Jesus! Triune God, Father, Son, Spirit work on the hearts of those far from You and strengthen and give confidence to Your people. Lord God, remind this reader that Jesus loves them and so do I! Amen.

Merry Christmas!

Meek

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matt 5:5 ESV)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Meek would not be in the top fifty or even one hundred words that my family and friends would use to describe me. It has long been said that “meekness is not weakness” yet, we tend to perceive meek with weak. Meekness means gentleness and self-control. Both gentleness and self-control are listed as fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in the life of the believer (Gal 5:22-23).

Meekness has to do with our attitudes toward people. It is one thing for us to confess our spiritual poverty (5:3) and mourn (5:4), it is far more difficult to respond with meekness when someone else confronts us about our bankruptcy, inadequacies, sin. Believers, myself included, need to start responding to this hostile world in meekness (gentleness and self-control). The last thing this world needs is more harsh and angry responses. I need to learn to respond in meekness so that I may deescalate a conversation rather than throwing and adding fuel to the fire.

The reward for the meek person is a fulfillment of Psalm 37:11, “But the meek shall inherit the land [in Hebrew land can also mean earth] and delight themselves in abundant peace.” While in Psalm 37:11 inherit the land refers to the Promised Land, here in Matt 5:5, Jesus extends this inheritance to all those who will believe in Him.

For the meek person, this promise of inheriting the earth is in the future; however, “it is an encouragement in the present, for Jesus’s followers know their present sacrifices will be worth it and they will be vindicated” (G.R. Osborne, Matthew, ZECNT, 2010, p. 167). May we persevere and endure in meekness knowing the great reward that lies ahead!

Father God, as the Greeks viewed meekness as a vice, so does our society today. Lord God, help us to be a people who are humble and gentle displaying self-control in this chaotic and out of control world. Lord God, thank You that when we actively call on You and authentically seek You, wanting to obey You, that You will help us to respond in a manner that brings You glory. Lord God, I am sorry for all the times where my attitude toward others has been anything but meek. Lord God, while the internet is a wonderful tool, it can also be wielded as a weapon. Lord God, help us to be meek when engaging in online discussions. May we not seek to provoke people whom we disagree with just for the because of it. Lord God, prepare us for whatever it is that we are to face next. Prepare our families and friends. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Thank You Jesus for the example of meekness that You have set before us. May we long to be more like You each and every day. In Your Name Jesus. Amen.