Grateful

Today’s prompt for the #Five Minute Friday group of writers is: Grateful.

Strangely enough that is what came out for me in my bible.reading this morning from Ephesians 1:3-14

📍 Blessed with every spiritual blessing:-
Chosen to be blameless
Adopted as legal heirs
Have grace freely bestowed upon us
Redemption
Forgiveness of our sins
God’s own possession
Sealed with the Holy Spirit

🖊 As Christians we are ALL given these blessings, they are lavished upon us, this is now what we have and who we.are.in Christ.

No matter our physical circumstances or status these are.our blessings and if we can’t find anything else in our lives to give thanks for, we can give thanks for all these spiritual blessings.

God has given them to us generously, according to His riches, according to His good pleasure and for the Praise of His glory. There is no way then that we should be living as spiritual paupers, or as unthankful people, instead we should be living rich lives, full of gratitude for all our many blessings.

So today, no matter what our circumstances look like we are richly blessed and for that I am grateful.

Blessed When Persecuted

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 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  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.

Matthew 5:10-12

A strange reading for the week before Christmas you may think, but actually when you think about it, it is so apt and so relevant.

At Christmas we want to think about the Prince of Peace, the Saviour of the World coming, we want to think of nice things. Yet the harsh reality is that this Prince of Peace, this Saviour who came was hated, persecuted & rejected by mankind. And as His followers, we can but expect the same. There is an offence of the gospel which is aimed at those who follow Jesus, they don’t want Jesus, so they don’t want us and that can lead to persecution even in small subtle ways. They ridicule, make fun of our faith, they take the Lord’s name in vain, they throw insults, they put us down, they go out of their way to be awkward, they display dislike and even hatred, all because they are rejecting the Saviour, they are hurt by the offence of the cross.

However, as always with these Beatitudes, it is the paradox which strikes us – those who are persecuted, given a hard-time because they are Christians, well they are actually blessed! They actually have reason to rejoice and be glad! Why? Because this Rejected Saviour comes and walks beside them, this Lord who suffered and was persecuted knows and understands and can draw alongside and strengthen in miraculous ways. The suffering Servant brings His own healing and balm and Immanuel, God is with us through it all as we discover that the times of our deepest lows can also be our times of highest joys.

And even though it is Christmas, families still face trials, pain, suffering and persecution. It doesn’t stop, just because it is Christmas. I know a family who on the lead up to this Christmas are facing a Child Protection Court Case, just because they pray with their children!! They are experiencing that opposition of the gospel, and it is hard.

Dear friends,

Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.

1 peter 4:12-14,(nlt)

So as we rejoice in the coming King this Christmas, may we also take heart and be glad that we are counted worthy to suffer with Him.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

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What an appropriate Beatitude for this time of year, when we celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace to look at what it means to be peacemakers.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the Sons of God

matthew 5:9

The Prince of Peace, Jesus, came to reconcile us to God, that we may have peace with God, and that we would be adopted into the family and called ‘sons of God’

We have to look to this Prince of Peace to see what a peacemaker is and to see what role we have as peacemakers. So first of all we have to see that Peacemakers are not the same as Peacekeepers who can be passive, can cover over conflict for the sake of false unity, they call for peace where there is unrest and hurts and shame, but don’t get to the bottom of these things, there is no actual peace at the core, they white-wash issues with bland words.

Peacemakers are FOR peace, they work for peace, they pursue peace, they actively engage in the peacemaking process in order to bring about reconciliation. Reconciliation between Christian brothers and sisters, reconciliation between family members, reconciliation between friends, and most importantly reconciliation between us and God.

So where there is discord, disharmony, hurts, unforgiveness and grievances we are called to bring reconciliation. To recognise the conflict, recognise the hurts, recognise the imperfections, not ignore those real and often raw human emotions and yet still seek for reconciliation. Recognise that God is bigger than those things, recognise that Jesus came to heal us from those things, and be brave to work for peace in these situations.

To live like Jesus, to live up to His standards is not easy, He calls us to bigger, He calls us to better and He calls us to be brave and step out from worldly standards and instead follow His radical ways and be peacemakers, bringing reconciliation with God.

Only in Jesus can we find true peace because only through Jesus can we have peace and reconciliation with God.

Peace, I leave you with; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27

Where do you need to be a peacemaker in your relationships?

Do you need to be brave and actually face up to an unpleasant situation rather than just let it fester?

What about your relationship with God, do you need reconciliation there?

Do you know the peace of Jesus, which keeps you heart free from trouble and from being afraid?

Pure in Heart

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Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

matthew 5:8

Well there is no hope for me then! Pure in heart? Just as well no-one sees my heart, eh?

Yet, yet it is the pure in heart who see God. The unrighteous heart does not want to see God, the sinful heart does not desire God, only those whose hearts have been made clean by the blood of Jesus, only those who have been made righteous in Christ can have that desire to see God.

So what does this look like for me today?:

Well there appears to be a 2-foldness to this being pure in heart:-
1) Our hearts are impure, sinful, only by the blood of Jesus can we be made clean, only by accepting His righteousness can we have pure hearts & clean hands and are acceptable to the Righteous, Holy God.
2) But we do have a daily duty to keep our hearts clean, to keep our spirits in fellowship with God and to follow Him with undivided, loyal hearts.

So in this lead up to Christmas, this advent time, I can meditate on the wonder of a Saviour coming to save a sinner such as I, whose heart without Him is impure, sinful and far from Him. The Saviour, who came because we were unrighteous and there was nothing we could do to get back to God, the Saviour who took our punishment for sin and brings us back to God, the Saviour who makes a way for us to “see” God.

Only Jesus. Only His Righteousness.

What a Saviour, He came to save us FROM sin and save us TO God!

As we worship this Babe born in Bethlehem this Christmas time, may we remember what He came to save us from and what He saved us to and have that desire to see and follow Him every season of our soul.

Blessed are the merciful

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Mmmh, there is such a lot in this little beatitude:

Blessed at the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Matthew 5:7

Let us have a look first of all what the word Mercy actually means, it is such a small word, but it contains so much. Mercy – it has overtones of forgiveness and grace, but also of God’s judgment, that God doesn’t give us the judgement we deserve.

So as sinners, we are separated from God, we deserve His wrath, His judgment, His punishment, we deserve no less than this because we have gone our own sinful way, away from Him. But God sent Jesus to take our sin, take our punishment so that we can have a way back to Him. We don’t deserve it, but God in His mercy does not give us what we deserve, but rather in love chooses to forgive, chooses to draw us near, chooses to give us the blessings we don’t deserve (grace).

That is pretty awesome!

But what is hard in this beatitude is that He is telling us that we are to treat others like that too! We are to forgive, we are to accept even when others don’t deserve it, even if they have hurt us, even when they have sinned against us. We are to forgive, even if/when they don’t deserve it. Jesus is saying; this is the way God has treated you, now go and do likewise!

This is a parable Jesus told to illustrate this point:

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

MATTHEW 18: 23-35

Go and do likewise.

*****

For they shall receive mercy – we have received it, we then give it and we receive it back again every single day when God wipes our slate clean and gives us a brand new day.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

    his mercies never come to an end;

23 they are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3: 22-23


Everyday we get to start again, we get to experience anew God’s mercies, His love, His kindness, His compassion, His grace.
Every day, God wipes the slate clean and we have a fresh start with Him, He doesn’t hold our yesterdays against us, neither should we hold them against ourselves, but move, gratefully into each new day, assured of His mercy and grace.

Hunger & Thirst after Righteousness

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Continuing to look at the paradox in each of the Beatitudes.

 The meaning of Paradox = seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true.

And this Beatitude is no different:

Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6

Hunger and thirst are two of the most basic human instincts, they form a craving, a need born out necessity. This is also true of our most basic need for God. There is within each one of us a God shaped hole, which only God Himself can satisfy. It doesn’t matter how many other things we use to fill our lives, they won’t satisfy, only Jesus can.

So to hunger & thirst after righteousness, is a blessed experience because it is when you are in that state of hungering, hankering after something which will satisfy, when you are thirsty for the truth, that You will seek for God, You will pursue, and You will find.

Righteousness means right standing with God, and that only happens through Jesus. Jesus alone is the One who has paid for our sin, Jesus alone is the One who has opened the way to God for us, bridging that gulf of sin, Jesus alone is righteous and so it is to Jesus that we must come for our righteousness, it is to Jesus that we must come to have our right standing with God.

And having that right standing means to go on, to pursue, to continue on to know more of God, to put aside other worldly pleasures, to put aside our own ambitions, thoughts and plans, desiring to know God first and foremost.

Jesus came to give us life and to give it more abundantly, He came to stir our hearts so that we won’t settle for temporal things which won’t last and won’t satisfy, for He promised that He is enough, that His Grace is sufficient and that He will meet our needs, He alone will satisfy.

Sometimes that hunger & thirst of desire is created within us through hardships, through tough times, as they let us see how empty other things are, things which don’t satisfy those deep longings in our heart. That is where the paradox comes in and if that is the case with you dear friend, then know that you are blessed indeed, know that when you know your need, that you are blessed. Let that need drive you to Jesus and to Him alone, for that need could be the means of blessing to your soul.

Blessed are the Meek

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Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth

Matthew 5:5

Really? It is the meek who shall inherit the earth? According to our Society today it is the strong, the academic, the loud, the aggressive; those who are cut-throat and don’t let anyone stand in their way, surely they are the ones who inherit the earth and the rest of us just slide along at the bottom of the pile?

Not so according to Jesus. It is the meek. Not the wimpy, not the weak, but MEEK. Those who choose to be humble, those who choose to hold back aggression to be kind and gentle, those who don’t seek their own glory, but will give a lending hand to others, those who know whose they are in Christ and so choose a different walk.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness & patience

Colossians 3:12

Just as Jesus, with all His majesty and divine power chose to humble himself, chose to walk this earth in submission to His Father, chose to walk humble, chose to walk meek, so He calls us to do the same.

 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:1-8

So to inherit the earth as one of the meek it starts with having that humble, submissive heart to God, in recognition of His Sovereignty, surrendered to Him in trust.

To inherit the earth means that we have that peace and serenity which the world longs for, but cannot give; it is being in harmony with God through the sacrifice of Jesus; it is walking with Jesus, learning from Him, emulating His ways and His compassionate heart.

We can choose to walk a different way from the world, we can choose to walk in meekness, we can choose to follow the ways of the Man from Galilee and in so doing we will inherit the blessings of God, we will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who Mourn

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted

Matthew 5:4

We have had a deep sorrow and mourning in our community in recent days. The pain, the sorrow is still very raw.

What words do we have to comfort? Where can we find our comfort? What is our comfort at such awful times?

IMMANUEL – God with us, He is our comfort. The fact that He is right here with us and knows our pain, that He sees our tears and that it is He Himself who will come and wipe them away for us, is our comfort.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away

Revelation 21:3,4

We have a present promise: God Himself will be with us. We are not walking through this alone, the Man of Sorrows is with us.

We have a future hope: for when all the pain, tears and sorrows will cease.

We must not forget eternity!! We must not be so caught up with the present that we forget about eternity, or forget that as Christians we have a hope which will shed light and meaning to our present sorrows.

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” 1 Corinthians 15:19

Not only do we have a hope, but we must share that hope. There are so many people still stuck in sorrow, still stuck in mourning, with no hope, asking ‘where is your God?’ We can answer that He is here, He is with us and that eternity will shine light and bring meaning to our present sorrows. And how in eternity all our pain, all our sorrows and all our tears will be wiped away.

God Himself will comfort.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.