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It is our hopeful contention that Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount so very early in His ministry to prepare those who would follow Him for the storms they would face in sharing and living it with others. The gospel of the kingdom of heaven – the good news of God’s reign in the hearts of His people – would be so radically counter-cultural, not only to the heathen Gentile, but to the Jew as well, that it was only fitting and fair to lay it out from the beginning. Full disclosure; nothing hidden.

As we read the Sermon two-thousand years later, we must use our imagination and consider the timing to appreciate God’s approach in the introduction of His New Covenant. It is both simple and instructional: Jesus first taught His followers about life in the kingdom so they could then observe Him walking it out before them and His Father. “He who hears these sayings of mine, and does them…” is the disciple-makers way.

So, what are we to do about these sayings of Jesus in the Beatitudes? Is there a way we should respond to them? Or, are we left to simply hope the blessings will one day be ours?

God intends for every Christian to respond to every offer of His grace in the same way: through faith. It is no coincidence that the process of faith begins with the hearing of faith (Romans 10:17), proceeds through obedience to the faith (Romans 1:5), and culminates with the work that perfects our faith (James 2:22). Indeed, the process of faith answers the question, “How should we study the Sermon on the Mount?” The only way to become a kingdom citizen is by grace, through faith.

The Sermon begins with the Beatitudes for this very reason. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve just returned from ministering to Syrian refugees in Mafraq, Jordan. God had much to say to me there. Sitting down this morning to consider what I am thankful for, here’s what came out.

I am thankful that:

  1. I have not been tortured.
  2. I have not watched my infant die for lack of medical care due to war.
  3. I have not had my dreams ripped away from me because I am a young intelligent university student.
  4. I don’t have to wait for a doctor to fly 8000+ miles to treat my child.
  5. People don’t assume I am their enemy.
  6. My children had teachers that cared about them and their education.
  7. I have a home with more than three rooms.
  8. I know the ones I love have the choice to live in a safe environment for the rest of their lives.
  9. I am not prohibited from working because I come from another country.
  10. I can sleep through the night.
  11. My children do not suffer from PTSD.
  12. I don’t have paranoia about my children going outside to play.
  13. I have hope for what tomorrow will bring.
  14. I know where all my extended family lives, that they are safe, and I will get to see most of them this Thanksgiving season.
  15. I have not been forced to fire upon my friends and neighbors.
  16. I know the love of God; and, that if I suffer, He is with me.
  17. I experienced the sacrificial love of Jesus followers in Mafraq, Jordan; and the overflow of that love onto those that serve with them.
  18. God is long-suffering with the seekers of His kingdom that just don’t get it.
  19. The LORD’s mercies are new every morning; and He is working in us to will and do to His good pleasure.
  20. The truth will make us free; and Jesus will make His followers to become His disciples.

I hope and pray you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Bible with Cross ShadowThere are passages in the Sermon on the Mount that are impossible to understand with the carnal mind. The fact that our minds are in the process of renewal leaves us in a vulnerable position. Perhaps this is God’s intent: To help us experience the humility that precipitates our taking on the mind of Christ.

I confess that I am experiencing that humility in regards to this passage:

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Matthew 5:38-41

Personally, I have lived a relatively safe life. There have been very few times in my 55 years that I have faced an evil person, and the temptation to resist them. I have not had the “opportunity” to turn the other cheek. I have not been sued; nor have I been compelled to go one mile. I hope you will ignore my lack of personal experience long enough to consider the following encouragements. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowBefore we move on from the Beatitudes, there is something more the Lord would have us recognize about the blessings of the persecuted. It is of particular importance to the church in America. Though it is not a saying of Jesus that we must do; it is something we would be wise to consider in this regard.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12

A friend of mine was one of the first to enter Communist China when the bamboo curtain was opened for business with the West. He went in looking for the remains of the church that had been targeted for destruction by that evil government for many years. When he found them, he praised their endurance against the persecution. Their response surprised him. Read the rest of this entry »



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