Those who mourn are blessed: Reading scripture backwards.

A few weeks ago our pastor taught on the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12, and he highlighted something I hadn’t really considered: The verses from 3 to 12 are not simply separate sayings, like little nuggets of wisdom. Instead, they form a whole and each verse builds on the one before. They reveal a pattern for the life of a Christ-follower.

A few weeks ago our pastor taught on the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12, and he highlighted something I hadn’t really considered: The verses from 3 to 12 are not simply separate sayings, like little nuggets of wisdom. They’re not like some parts you might find in Proverbs, superficially a list of individual, wise sayings. Instead, they form a whole and each verse builds on the one before. Have a quick read through with that in mind and we’ll pick up after,

Jesus began to teach them,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
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 5:3-12

The first thing that struck me was that these people were “blessed.” Blessed?! Blessed… Maybe they were blessed because each ‘bad thing’ was followed up by a comforting thing, like “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” but that’s a little morbid, isn’t?

Continue reading “Those who mourn are blessed: Reading scripture backwards.”

The Firelight In Your Eyes

In the dark I can see,
reflected, weaving and waving,
in this blessed early morning moment,
the firelight in your eyes.

Your lips, full, pained, hurt,
whisper out an injured stream,
while I memorize your eyes,
and the mirrored flame of your soul.

And I am struck dumb,
feeble words wretch forth,
anguished to see you lifted and built up,
to fan the heart and the flicker still there.

Who am I,
that I should be the one here,
so lacking, failing even in this,
to blow these embers back to life.

But God–this is not of me–
but God–in spite of me–
He can take you in the hollow of His hands,
and blow your embers back to Life.

When we part ways,
the morning darkness hides us,
when I hold you again, once and again,
heat rushes into me, melting the cold of many moonless ages.

In the darkness, parting, again I look deep in your eyes,
and the warmth of your embrace rushes out from me,
but my prayer has ascended to Him Eternal, that I see you again,
and the firelight in your eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

Money is a Test

Whatever you have, God has given it to test your loyalty, allegiance, and heart. Judas’ soul was cramped and traitorous; money revealed that. Joseph’s soul was generous and loyal; money revealed that too. And “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The following is an excerpt from James McDonald’s “Found a Faithful Steward” blog from June 23, 2014. It hit home with me because it started at basics and progressed beyond to some things we don’t often consider in how we think about and use our money.

Jesus said,
“For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also”
Matthew 6:21

Money is a test of your:

Work ethic: While not universal, generally speaking, if your wallet is empty, you ought to look closely at your work ethic. How hard do you work? How diligently did you work, save, and invest in your twenties and thirties? The test of money hints at the longitudinal arc of your work ethic.

Self-control: You’ll never experience financial victory until you spend less than you make. Some people spend more than they make for years or decades. They’re failing the test, which often leads to financial bondage, tension, and misery in their homes.

Integrity: How did you get what you have? Did you cut corners or twist the truth to win a deal? Withhold taxes? Neglect tithing? Jesus taught, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). The money test demonstrates your integrity—or lack therof.

Love for people: When you’re able to meet someone else’s financial need, do you? Can you recall people you’ve helped? Perhaps no one knows. Perhaps you didn’t get a tax deduction. You simply helped and loved others. If so, you’re passing the test.

Love for God: Jesus said more about money than He said about heaven and hell combined. Not because it’s the most important subject, but because until God gets hold of people’s finances, He doesn’t truly have their hearts.

Whatever you have, God has given it to test your loyalty, allegiance, and heart. Judas’ soul was cramped and traitorous; money revealed that. Joseph’s soul was generous and loyal; money revealed that too. And “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Found a Faithful Steward, James McDonald

 

Jewish Passover and Good Friday

Jewish Passover falls on Good Friday this year. Passover remembers the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt during which God told the people to kill a “lamb without blemish” and paint their doorposts with the blood. God said “when I see the blood, I will pass over you and no plague will befall you to destroy you“. If they did this they were saved from the plague of the death of the firstborn. Every year the Jewish people would sacrifice again for the sins of the people. More than a thousand years later, God’s Son came down to earth as the man Jesus Christ, “a lamb without blemish or spot“, and He died a final death, a final sacrifice for our sins, and rose again in “victory over sin and death.” This Good Friday remembers the day Jesus, God’s firstborn, was not spared and was sacrificed for your sins so that when Jesus’ blood covers your sins God can say again “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Selah. Today, “if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts,” for “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.#TheShepherdIsTheLamb #SoliDeoGloria

Their Final Destiny

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.

When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny…

Continue reading “Their Final Destiny”

In this painting…

In this painting, lines of truth emanate. Light bursts forth, shattering a rigid picture, reaching beyond grasp, in bold strokes, defying a frame.

In its edged background, darkness seeps through. Something corrosive. Staining. But wherever the light reaches, there is darkness dispelled.

In its fierce foreground, a radiant star-burst flares forth from the form of a cross. At its center, a deep blue, shining, as arms and hands. They fly to the east and to the west, to the north and to the south, transforming from bright blue to blinding white.

Between these arms fly a thousand rays, reflecting their source, in hues of yellow and tinged orange. They warm instead of dazzle, and they draw the eye to their graceful metamorphosis from one strong arm to another.

In this painting, I see you. The artist I see in motions of creation, hovering over the surface, applying a foundation in broad, full strokes, and your hand, in dance, as you guide the light, and fill in the empty spaces. I see your moves in symphony and concert with love, shaping what will be, and exhausting care and consideration into a painting, radiating in the act of reflecting its maker.

In this painting is the source of which was said, “sunshine can be seen breaking forth from the frame, does strike my face, and warms again my heart to hope.”

New Year’s Day 2012

Happy New Year! May your heart warm again to hope by the very sunshine shone forth only from the trust put in Jesus Christ, Saviour of your soul, God, Who knows the good plans He has for you!

Allow me to open 2012 with an old stand by, for the “old school Sanctus Real fans…”

Things were better last year. Things will be better this year.

Thank you, God, for blessing me, thank you for helping me be a blessing, thank you for changing me. You have shown your faithfulness in spite of my unfaithfulness. You have answered my prayers, you have carried me through, you have lead me and guided me according to your Will for me, revealing to me day by day your plans to bless me so incredibly. I am amazed that you care for the things that I care about. Forgive me for having such little faith. I believe, help my unbelief! Thank you for the sacrifice of Your Son on the cross for me, a sinner. May I ever more and ever better be Your servant.

Lord, you know my heart’s desire. Please bless me with opportunities to be a blessing, please bless me with courage and confidence to seize those opportunities, please bless me with Your creativity to create opportunities! I believe your best for me is yet in my future. This I know because I have seen Your great hand at work! I will wait on You, I will trust in You.

The Lord, God, He is Good. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Selah.

Of Hearts and Minds

A hard mind and hard heart tends to unrelenting ruthlessness, but a soft mind and soft heart tends to wayward wandering. A soft mind and hard heart tends to flappable foolishness, but a hard mind and soft heart is the chosen clay of which the crafter says, “Of this refuse will I make something beautiful and of this frailty will I make a strong vessel.”

mjg/11