Friday, June 24, 2011

How Followers of Jesus are Set Apart by God

Have you ever been casually reading the bible and come across the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5?  What in the world is a beatitude? - I don't think I've ever used that word my whole life!  Well the Beatitudes are a part of a very important sermon that Jesus himself gave, so this word is worth looking into.

The word Beatitude is defined as: Supreme Blessedness; Sainthood; Saintliness.  -Ok...I don't use any of those words on a daily basis either, but after reading in Matthew chapter 5 verses 1-11 the word that I can most easily connect with is Supreme Blessedness.

You might be asking yourself, how does this relate to me as a follower of Jesus?  Well the scripture starts off by saying that Jesus sat down and began to teach the disciples the following beatitudes or rather the supreme blessedness/blessings.  -Can we just shorten this to blessings, so from now on I will refer to each beatitude as a "blessing." Lets take a look at each blessing that Jesus is teaching about and soon we will begin to see how we are set apart by God just through relationship with him.

  • Verse 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (NIV) 
- The blessing here is not to be "poor in spirit" or humble, but the blessing is the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven.  When we come into a new relationship to follow Christ, it involves humility on our part.  It's not easy for us to surrender our own way of thinking, and our own way of living to follow the path that Jesus has for us.  It begins with salvation.
  • Verse 4 "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted." (NIV)
- The blessing here is again, not in the "mourning" but in the comfort that will be provided by God through the Holy Spirit.  We will all go through times of mourning, but in that process, ask yourself if you are finding comfort in the Lord or in other things.  When we are in relationship with Jesus as a follower that is one of indicators that you are in relationship with him.
  • Verse 5 "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
- "Inherit the earth" is one of the blessings given to Abraham in Genesis and now is a blessing spoken over the followers of Jesus.  This is not only a actual inheriting of land or prosperity, but also a much broader term for God's promises.
  • Verse 6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."
- When we seek righteousness or right and moral living, we will have it; righteousness is a blessing.
  • Verse 7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
- We all need mercy, and as followers of Jesus we all have the capability of showing mercy towards others and in return receive mercy.
  • Verse 8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
- Well you might think to yourself that this one will count us out for the whole thing!  "Pure in heart" sounds impossible right?  Well hold it right there, if you have made a decision to follow Jesus, surrendering your life to him, then all of the impure things in your life was settled at the cross.  Jesus has taken ALL of our impurities and washed us as white as snow.  So when God looks at us, he sees a pure heart.  Everything that we repent for has been forgotten by God -and when I say forgotten, it an on purpose kind of forgotten.  The blessing is in the promise that we "will see God."  
  • Verse 9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
- If you are a follower of Jesus, then you are already a son or a daughter of God.  So if you are a son or a daughter of God then you are a peacemaker.  It is in you, placed there through relationship with Jesus.
  • Verse 10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
- I personally didn't really like this blessing at first, it doesn't sound like much of a blessing....I mean, persecution, who wants that?  But it is NOT a blessing to be persecuted because of our right and moral living, but the blessing is the kingdom of heaven.  So why the persecution?  Well if you look closely the words are "persecuted because of righteousness."  Righteousness isn't something only done by actions, but it is also something we just are because Christ has made us righteous by his GRACE.  (Remember the  pure heart from earlier?) So in deciding to follow Jesus, we are made righteous and therefore will be persecuted. -It just comes with the territory so to speak and as heirs to the kingdom of heaven as a child of the King of Kings.
  • Verse 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."
- Again, not sounding so good, huh?  This persecution comes not just from who we are in Christ, but by what we do for Him, this is found in the words, "because of me." "Because of me" refers to the acts that Jesus Christ does through us. This type of persecution will result in blessings as we will see in the following verse.
  • Verse 12 "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
- The prophets took action; they spoke, they demonstrated, dreamed all with the power of God moving through them.  I believe this is the type of "because of me" acts that Jesus is referring to that brings persecution.

Now did you notice one little change in the wording through the Beatitudes?  It went from a generic message of "blessed are the (fill in the blank)" to "blessed are YOU" (emphasis mine).  We have received and we ARE in Christ all of these things: (v.3) Humility, (v.4) The Holy Spirit, (v.5) God's Promises, (v.6) Holiness, (v.7) Mercy, (v.8) Intimacy with God, (v.9) Authority, (v.10) Royalty, (v.11) Power of God in Us.

We ARE these things through relationship with Christ through his amazing grace, there is absolutely no way for us to receive any of these blessings if we had to do anything to receive them.  The only thing we had to do was to get into relationship with Jesus, that's it.  So how are we set apart by God?  The answer is we already are just by knowing him.  

Get that deep down in your soul, know that you have everything that God desires you to be already planted within you the moment you made a decision to follow Him, now it's your turn to release those blessings in your life.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stepping Out into the Great Unknown

Well, here I am world, starting a new adventure in blogging.  I am guessing that most people feel some sort of anxiety when writing their first blog, but not this girl -no way!  I am nothing but excited to travel down this unkown path to see what awaits me just around the bend.  God has been really doing some amazing things in my life lately and I can't wait to share all that I've been learning over the past few years and years to come. 

Just a little over two years ago, I felt inspired during my personal quiet time with the Lord to write out my thoughts in my journal that turned more into just thoughts, but a deeper look into what God was personally saying to me through his word.  I know that those thoughts and ideas aren't just for me alone, and I'm hoping that some of you out there can relate.

I invite you to walk this journey with me and follow along and maybe you'll discover something amazing that God is doing in your life as well!