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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.

Peace: Maker or Breaker?

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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.

Pure in Heart

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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.


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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

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.


Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matt 5:4 ESV)

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While my focus is on mourning, each Beatitude builds on the previous so allow me a minute to address what it means to be both “blessed” and “poor in spirit.”

“Blessed” means to be a recipient of divine favor or approval. The opposite of blessed is cursed. There are only two paths, blessed or cursed. The blessed person in Matthew 5:3, the one who is “poor in spirit” is the one who is humble and acknowledges their need for God in every area of their life. God’s divine favor, approval, endorsement rests on those who are “poor in spirit” and their reward is “the kingdom of heaven” life spent in eternity with the Holy Triune God.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (5:4). In the Greek mourning is a present, active, participle which means that we should be repeatedly mourning. This is not a one time event! Only the person who is poor in spirit is the one who is able to authentically mourn. And how do we do this? Why should we mourn? Pastor Keith yesterday (6 Dec 2020) gave three layers or reasons for why we mourn: over personal sin, over the persistence of sin, over the pervasiveness of sin.

Many cultures today (especially in the States) do everything they can to run from or mask pain and discomfort. The world promotes that we should be as happy as we can because the world is bad enough. As Lloyd-Jones states, “The whole organization of life, the pleasure mania, the money, energy, and enthusiasm that are expended in entertaining people, are all just an expression of the great aim of the world to get away from the idea of mourning and this spirit of mourning” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 1976, p. 43).

The Gospel does indeed say, “blessed are those who mourn.” Once we acknowledge that we are “poor in spirit” we have no choice but to authentically progress to mourning over our sins personally and corporately. We are called to mourn, to rejoice and to be content. I mourn and lament the sin that is within me that has helped promote the problems that we have in this world today. Like Paul, I mourn and hate the persistence and pervasiveness of my own sins and the sins of others that are causing the problems that we are seeing in society today (Romans 7:18-24).

Folks, I will be honest, I have been mourning what has happened and is happening in our world today. I am fully aware that for those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ that we are Kingdom citizens first and foremost. I am NOT asking God for things to go back to how they were prior, I acknowledge and am fully aware that God’s ways, plans and thoughts are NOT mine and I am following Him! However, I also know that if I do not acknowledge my grief and admit that I am mourning to God, myself and others two things will happen definitely happen 1. I will become angry and 2. Anger will cause me to sin in which I miss/forfeit God’s comfort. There’s also a 3rd component which is more of a risk, if I do not acknowledge to others that I am mourning, I may miss the comfort that God has given them to give to me.

Unlike the first hearers of Matthew’s Gospel, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us. We have the Comforter of comforters inside of us who will help us, strengthen us in our mourning when we acknowledge our brokenness over our sin, when we express our hurts, pain and fears to Him. We should not stay in mourning, we should experience His comfort and the comfort of others; however, we cannot deny that we have a need to mourn. Again, mourning is a byproduct of the one who is poor in spirit. Being poor in spirit and mourning both have to do with our vertical and our horizontal relationships in the face of oppression and opposition.

Mourning requires self-examination and self-reflection. This Advent season, may we not run from mourning but rather run to mourning, knowing that in the Incarnation, God Himself took on Flesh to reconcile sinful man to Holy God by dying a criminal’s death on a cross, buried and in the grave for three days, Resurrected from the dead, who is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Fifty days after Jesus Ascended to Heaven, the Father through the Son sent the Holy Spirit to indwell, comfort, advocate on behalf of all those who will believe in Him.

May we mourn knowing that God will comfort us now and even more so in eternity. I have no idea what mourning looks like for you dear reader, but know that Jesus is with you and that He loves you and so do I.

Father God, help us to mourn and lament our sin and the sins of what we see around us. Thank You Father that although we are called to mourn we are also called to rejoice. Lord God, thank You for being a God who allows us to express our emotions and that You will help us process our emotions and circumstances in a manner that honors You and brings You glory. Lord God, Your glory is the manifestation of Your Holiness. Lord God, make us more aware and more sensitive to our spiritual poverty in this Christmas season. Lord God, 2020 has been a tough year for just about everyone in so many different ways. Lord God, make us sensitive to NOT look down on those who are mourning but to comfort them, being quick to listen and slow to speak. Lord God, thank You that mourning and comfort go together. Lord God, thank You for the gift of this reader. Meet with them today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.