“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”Matthew 5:6
Jesus was a rule breaker!One example we can cite is the fourth beatitude which blatantly breaks the rules of Greek grammar normally applied to the words “hunger” and “thirst.”It was usually written or spoken that hunger would be satisfied with a meager pinch or two from the loaf of bread, or thirst could be quenched with a small portion of the pitcher of water.But the words which Jesus spoke describe a grave hunger and thirst that can only be satisfied if the whole loaf of bread is eaten and the entire pitcher of water consumed.
A few verses later, “Jesus the Rebel” warned His disciples that the righteousness of the Pharisees will not satisfy you, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20) From the beginning of time, the human spirit in everyone has desired to satisfy the “god within,” and to find a mystical fulfillment by pleasing that ultimate authority we have chosen to accept.That’s what drives the soul.
So what is driving our society today?We all want to be right…to be accepted in our communities, and to measure up to the moral standard of the day.For the Christian, God is the Ultimate Authority; it is HIS righteousness we hunger and thirst after and His standard has not changed.Since non-Christians are incapable of following biblical teachings, society has lowered the ethical and moral standard. Even though there are a lot of good people in the world who will give you the shirts off their backs, it is only partial goodness. They are satisfied with only a part of the loaf and a small swallow of water and they will NEVER be filled.Instead, they will just keep on changing the standard or moving the goal posts until the “rules” for living a good life are easy enough that everyone can comply.
Our “new age” wants us to believe that the quest for righteousness is over and that we have outgrown the archaic standards and ideas which have bogged us down.Framers of our current ideology say that mankind has come of age…at last we can see the intrinsic good in everyone and now we can dismiss the old standards which were imposed upon us by religion, especially Christianity.God help us!
I haven’t tried this (and won’t!), but there is an old folk warning that if you place a frog in boiling water it will quickly jump out.But if you put a frog in a pot of cold water and raise the temperature slowly, the frog will doze happily and eventually be cooked to death without ever waking up (http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/frogboil.asp says this is not true but it illustrates a good point).
Beloved, it is time to jump out of the water and join the Jesus Rebellion!We must recognize the signs around us so that our Christian witness will not become like the fable of the frog.Let us hunger and thirst after God’s righteousness as never before.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, awaken me from my slumber; make me aware of the dangerous rise in pagan ideals so that I can sound the warning to everyone: “Jump or die!”Amen and amen.
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, February 24, 2010
“Turning Crisis into Opportunity”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.”
Mercy Corps is a non-profit organization engaged in helping people in 107 countries.If you ask what they do, one of the 3700 workers might quote from their website to say:“We turn crisis into opportunity.”The work of mercy (and Mercy Corps) is to make a bad situation better, not worse.
M E R C YD E F I N E D
What is mercifulness?
·It is a gracious disposition toward others
·It is that kindness which feels the miseries of others
·It regards with compassion the sufferings of others
·It deals leniently with an offender and takes no revenge
·It is the forgiving spirit
M E R C YR E W A R D E D
To the merciful are granted rewards on earth as well as in heaven: “for they shall be shown mercy.”
·Mercy shown to others begets merciful treatment from others (Matt. 7:2; Prov. 21:21; Prov. 11:17a)
·The merciful Christian will also be shown mercy from God(Psalm 18:25; Matt. 6:15)
T H EC O N S E Q U E N C EO FN OM E R C Y(Matt.18:23-35)
Jesus told about a servant who had a multi-million dollar debt forgiven by his master, but then threw a fellow-servant in prison because he would not forgive a meager $20 debt.In his anger the king turned the wicked servant over to the jailers to be tortured, until he paid back all that he owed.Jesus concluded the parable by saying, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart.”
Now let us think for a moment about those times when destruction has come to relationships because of the absence of mercy:A brother has not been able to forgive a brother, and for 20 years there has been a rift between them.A sister has gone to her grave without ever showing mercy to another sister, and now it is too late.A pastor allows a deacon to leave the church of his childhood because he is unwilling to “bury the hatchet” and express an unforgiving spirit.How many times do we need to be reminded of this before we yield to the teaching of Jesus?“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12).
GospeLines Prayer:Father, we read it, we pray it, we tell others about it and do all of that fairly well; but when it comes to practicing mercy, I need lots of help.God help me to be a bearer of mercy when there are crises and when there are not, before the opportunity is gone forever.Amen and amen.
≈ Devotional for Monday, March 1, 2010
“Change Your World from the Inside Out”
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”(Matthew 5:8)
Heart:The heart is who you are when nobody knows but God.What you are in the invisible matters as much to God as the visible; those things in the deep recesses are crucial to Jesus.He didn’t come into the world just to change our bad habits, but He came because our dirty hearts need to be purified.From the heart come all of life’s issues. (I Samuel 16:7)
Pure:The word is used 27 times in the New Testament; and most of the time it refers to a cloth or garment which is free from contamination; but there is also a higher sense of the word.It refers to a person whose heart is free from unadulterated motives. (Matt. 15:18-19)
“See” God:The use of the word “see” is figurative, as in John 3:36, “Whoever rejects the Son will not see life.”And Jesus promised to Nicodemus, that a person who is “born anew” will see God and enter the kingdom of heaven. (Jn. 3:3-5)Our vision becomes CLEAR by the power of Jesus Christ, both on earth and in the heaven to come.
Jesus was a thorn in the side of the hypocritical Pharisees.It was as impossible then as it is now to live up to ridiculous, ever changing religious laws in an effort to achieve the state of spiritual purity.The promise that the pure in heart will see God is a grace gift which comes from God’s own heart.
A few years ago a Jerusalem newspaper carried a kind of ‘Dear Rabbi …” column in which an anxious reader asked whether it was acceptable to open a refrigerator on the Sabbath. The answer given was that it was perfectly proper to do so if the refrigerator was not fitted with a light which came on when the door was opened. If it was fitted with a light this would be an infraction of Sabbath law as it would be causing the electricity suppliers to work on the ‘day of rest’.
That isn’t what the sixth beatitude is all about.Removing the light bulb in a refrigerator doesn’t purify the heart of a person who is trying to see God.
Let’s look at the words of the Apostle John, who figured out how purity of heart meshes with the (1)“when and (2)how” we shall see God:
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3).
In 2006, Hillsong published these lyrics which speak the concern of this beatitude:
“In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love You from the inside out”
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I have not reached the same point of maturity as the apostle John; sometimes I feel like I have hardly begun the journey.Cleanse my dirty heart, purify my motives and clarify my vision so that I may be able to change my world from the inside out.Amen and amen.