Friday, December 27, 2013

Being the Beatitudes

Being the Beatitudes

Many of us will begin 2014 by making New Year’s Resolutions. These commitments, goals, promises, etc. often focus on bettering ourselves or impacting the world around us. Lots of people use this time of year to refocus their efforts in obtaining health, wealth or happiness.

As Christians, our focus everyday of every year should be to become more and more like the person God intends for us to be. Our only hope of success in this transformation is the goodness and faithfulness of God (see Philippians 1:6).

In Matthew chapter 5 (verses 3 – 10), as Christ began the Sermon on the Mount, He listed eight characteristics that lead to being blessed (or happy). This well know section of scripture is known as ‘The Beatitudes’. Perhaps a great way to step into 2014 would be to focus on ‘Being the Beatitudes’.

The call of the Beatitudes:
  • Blessed are the poor in Spirit; for theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven.
    • What I Have – Without God, I have nothing that matters for eternity’s sake; I am spiritually bankrupt; I must depend on Him for everything good and meaningful.
    • Recognizing this, I turn to Him: for forgiveness, sanctification and purpose (Romans 3:23, 6:23).
  • Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.
    • What I Feel – I am broken over sin. I ache over the pain and sorrow and emptiness that consumes all who suffer the consequences of living in a fallen world.
    • Real and lasting comfort comes only from God: His work in our lives and the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit (John 14:27).
  • Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
    • What I Am – Gentleness may appear as weakness to some; but there is great power in restraint. God enables us to show love and kindness when we desire to lash out.
    • Christ, the incarnation of God, was meek. I am called to be like Him (Matthew 11:29).
  • Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.
    • What I Need – Restoration before a perfectly holy and righteous Heavenly Father.  Salvation and righteousness before God come only through the blood of Jesus Christ.
    • He calls and justifies those He knows will surrender to Him (Romans 8:29-30).
  • Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.
    • What I Give – Patience, forgiveness, love and hope.
    • What God has done for me I am called to do for others (Ephesians 4:32).
  • Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.
    • What I Want – My thoughts and desires are focused on those things that please my Lord and Savior.
    • Only a heart made new in Christ can be pure (2 Corinthians 5:17, Philippians 4:8-9).
  • Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.
    • What I Do – Vengeance belongs to God. As a follower of Christ, I must never stir up or delight in trouble, arguments, fights, etc.
    • Christ brings peace to my life. Peace should characterize my interactions and influences with others (Proverbs 15:1, Romans 12:18).
  • Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
    • What I Experience – Serving Christ will lead to persecution. The frequency and extent of that persecution is in God’s Hands. How I respond to it is in mine (by His grace, power and presence in my life).
    • Christ, the only sinless man to ever live, suffered persecution. So will I (John 15:20, 2 Timothy 3:12).
Being the Beatitudes is only possible through the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). However, our transformation will not be completely fulfilled until we are with Christ (1 John 3:2).

May God bless you in 2014.


Holy, righteous, perfect Father, I long to be blessed by You by living my life for You. Enable me to become the man You have ordained me to be. May my life be a blessing to others as I surrender to You and show others the love of Jesus. I love You and Praise You in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights
Celebrating the birth of Christ is a joyous occasion. But for those without Christ, Christmas may be just another opportunity for vainly attempting to fill the emptiness inside with pleasures, distractions and possessions. Most everyone celebrating at this time of year, Christians and non-Christians alike, can face the added stresses of juggling schedules, yearend deadlines, traffic, traveling, etc.
Christmas is a great opportunity to let the light of Christ shine through regardless of the circumstances.
  • Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Your attitudes, words and actions speak volumes to others about your relationship with Jesus Christ. So, wherever your holiday travels and traditions take you, whether your days are jubilant or jumbled, be sure to keep your priorities straight and your testimony intact.
Regardless of how stressed and stretched you get, be sure to:
  • Make Time for Church, Bible Study and Prayer
    • Acts 17:11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
    • Matthew 14:23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.
  • Remain Humble
    • Luke 14:11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
  • Put Other’s Needs Ahead of Your Own and Stay Pure
    • James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Remember that you have the gift that everyone needs.
  • The Lost for Salvation
  • The Saved for Sanctification
  • The Discouraged for Hope
  • The Joyful for Appreciation
Be a Christmas Light to everyone you encounter during the holidays!
Merry Christmas to all and may all be a light!
Dear Lord in Heaven, You have empowered me to be a light in this world. Forgive me when my attitude doesn’t reflect the nature and truth of Christ. Strengthen me when I am weak, give me courage when I am afraid, comfort me when I am hurting, lift my spirits when I am down, bring peace when I am irritated: all for Your glory. Help me to show Your love and share Your truth. May Christ, the reason for Christmas, be my focus and motivation throughout the year. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Up On a Roof

Up On a Roof

I Want
2 Samuel 11:1-2 Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. 2 Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.
  • David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), when he should have been at war, got out of his bed in the evening and walked around the roof of his house. After seeing Bathsheba, he took what he wanted.
  • The resulting sins of adultery and murder led to ongoing tragedy in David’s life. Read David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51.
I Am
Daniel 4:28-30 “All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. 29 Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’
  • Although Nebuchadnezzar had seen great works of God (Daniel chapters 2 & 3), his pride led to severe punishment.  
  • For seven years he lost his kingdom, his mind and lived like a wild animal. Read Nebuchadnezzar’s praises to God when his sanity was restored, Daniel 4:34-37.
I Will
Matthew 4:5-7 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
  • Satan is deluded and actually believes he will be equal with God (Isaiah 14:12-14). He tried to tempt Jesus Christ (God in the flesh).
  • Satan’s punishment will be damnation in Hell. Read about the eternal consequences of his evil ways in Revelation 20:10.
Is there somewhere you go where you feel:
  • Entitled – David walked about on the roof of his house.
  • Emboldened – Nebuchadnezzar walked around on the roof of his palace.
  • Exalted – Satan took Christ to the highest point of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Be very careful about exalting yourself; so you won’t have to worry about facing the consequences.
  • 1 Peter 5:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Loving Father, forgive me when I exalt myself. Help me to see the places I go in my mind and in my life where I praise myself. Once identified, please empower me to destroy or avoid them. You alone are worthy of all praise and honor and glory. I love You and thank You for all the blessings in my life. I praise You and pray to You in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Is God Waiting on You

Is God Waiting on You
When Moses went back up Mount Sinai for God to write the Ten Commandments on replacement tablets of stone (Moses destroyed the original set when he saw the golden calf), God made an amazing statement about His own nature and character:
  • Exodus 34:6-7 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” 
Throughout the Bible, history and our daily lives, God constantly and consistently demonstrates His essences through His words and actions. For example, even in the midst of pending attacks from Assyria and prophecies of judgment for generations of disobedience, God declared His gracious intentions to Judah.
  • Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.
King Hezekiah, when faced with the imminent invasion by Assyria, prayed to God for deliverance.
  • Isaiah 37:20 Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, Lord, are God.” 
In response to this prayer, the angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 of the Assyrians encamped around Jerusalem and the King of Assyria returned home to be murdered by two of his sons (see Isaiah 37:36-38).  
God’s goodness and love for us exceed our ability to fully understand. He wants to bless us. He knows just what we need. Sometimes He is just waiting for us to ask!
  • Matthew 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
When His desire and our Spirit led prayers align, amazing things happen!
  • 1 John 5:14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
Whether we are under attack from the enemy, anticipating discipline from our loving Heavenly Father, or facing any other trail or tribulation, God desires us to humbly turn to Him. Is God waiting on you to worship Him (in Spirit and truth) and pray to Him (in expectant faith)? 
Do you experience comfort and peace based on His love and promises regardless of the circumstances of your life? If not, perhaps He is waiting for you; waiting for you to acknowledge Him, to seek Him, to trust Him, to surrender to Him, to ask Him.
Dear Lord, forgive me from worry, fear and frustration. I know that You are waiting for me to give myself completely to You. I am asking You to deliver me from the bondage of doubt, to empower me with Your Spirit of Truth, to grant me wisdom for discernment and decisions, and to comfort me with Your Peace that passes understanding. Thank You for Your patience. Thank You for Your Love. By Your grace I am saved through faith. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

After Giving Thanks

After Giving Thanks
Psalm 9:1-2 I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
Hopefully you took extra time during the recent Thanksgiving holiday to praise God and thank Him for all He has provided. We can never thank Him enough for all He is, all He does and all He provides. Everything good in our lives comes from Him:
  • James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
But with Thanksgiving behind us we turn our attention to Christmas. We celebrate the gift of Christ’s birth by giving gifts to one another. But of all the gifts we can give, what is most important?
Give yourself! 
  • Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Give yourself completely to Jesus Christ and then He can use you to:
  • Share the Gospel:
    • Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (see also 2 Corinthians 4:5-11).
  • Care for those in Need:
    • James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (see also Matthew 25:34-40).
  • And so much more:
    • Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (see also Philippians 4:13).
Way too often we focus on what we get. Everything is worth nothing without Christ!
  • Matthew 16:26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
When we give ourselves to Christ, He blesses us so we can bless others. We should be putting others ahead of ourselves.
  • Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
So, after giving thanks, give yourself to Christ and to others!
Dear Lord, I pray that I truly surrender all that I am to You. Use me as You see fit to share the Gospel message, to bless others, or for whatever purposes You desire. May all that call themselves Christians surrender to Your Lordship. Please help the church make Christmas about Christ. In the precious name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.