October 18, 2017

Beautiful Words

SeekingHimLogo

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

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Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:10

Beautiful Words, beautiful Words, He spoke beautiful Words.
The wind lay still, and the whole world listened as He spoke beautiful Words.

Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
Blesses are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the Children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake;
For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you,
And shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Beautiful Words, beautiful Words; He spoke beautiful Words.
The wind lay still, and the whole world listened as He spoke beautiful Words.

Blessed Are the Followers

SeekingHimLogo

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:10

Our world is in chaos. Our world is slowly self-destructing. This has all been predicted by God. We have a Shoulder to lie our heads on when the world pulls on us to the point where we ourselves are about to self-destruct. We already know Who wins. That is glorious news to come!

However, until that day comes, we must wait here on earth for Jesus to return for us. Until then, we are supposed to spread the good news of His birth, life, death, and resurrection. However, as we proceed to do this, we will always meet those who scoff at the story of Jesus and do not believe in the miracle that He performed on the Cross.

  • Prayer is no longer in our schools.
  • Students and teachers must be careful of what they say and do in school.
  • The National Day of Prayer is under attack.
  • Our missionaries are being imprisoned in foreign countries where Christ is not welcome.
  • The freedom of worship is being attacked and prohibited in our military.

BUT

  • God is with those who are with Him.
  • He leaves those who forsake Him and do not follow His laws.

Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
1 John 3:13

We should not be amazed that the world hates Christians nor should we dwell on this fact either. As Christians, we should forge ahead carrying our shields of faith into battle. The world does not like what it does not understand. For those who have no real exposure to Christ, they do not understand who He is or what He has done. Therefore, they choose to hate instead of getting to know the Truth. It is our mission as Christians to live as Christ did and show those who do not understand the truth behind God’s love.

The world will try everything it can do to bring us down. It will hurl insults and injure those who do not conform to its will. Yet, the ones who live by God’s grace and follow His will live a blessed and eternal life with God when time ends. They will also inherit the Kingdom of Heaven and receive their reward for enduring the wrath of the world. They will worship God throughout eternity in the heavenly place that is being prepared for them.

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Dear Heavenly Father, we pray that You will stand with us as we walk through this life and spread Your wonderful message. We know that there are those out there who do not understand the story, and they are the ones who try to bring us down. We pray that You show them the Truth and help them to understand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Kingdom of God

SeekingHimLogo

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:10

This simple petition carries a lot of meaning.  We have already seen in our meditations on the Beatitudes that Jesus often spoke of “the Kingdom of Heaven,” or “the Kingdom of God.”  For him, as for many Jews at that time, it was a future expectation, something to look forward to, a day when the reign of God would be complete, absolute, and apparent to every sentient creature on Earth.  It was a time when oppressed Jews would no longer be downtrodden, but be free to worship God whenever and wherever they pleased.  Their oppressors would be vanquished, and there would be a restoration of some form of theocratic government.  From this perspective, it makes sense that this petition would be coupled with the previous, “May [or “let”] Your name be held sacred.”

However, on the lips of Jesus, this petition means a lot more than just a change of governments. When Jesus teaches us to eagerly anticipate the coming of God’s Kingdom, He appears to mean this on varying levels which we deduce from His teaching elsewhere.

For Jesus, the Kingdom was something that will come at a future time (e.g., Matthew 5:19-20; Luke 21:31; 22:16) but also something that was a present reality.  He proclaimed that the Kingdom has “come near” (e.g., Matthew 3:2 and 4:17) and indeed was the present possession of some (e.g., Matthew 5:3 and 10).  Jesus taught what the Kingdom of Heaven is like—present tense (e.g., Matthew 13:24-53), and who may or may not enter it—again, present tense (e.g., Matthew 19:14, 23; 23:13).

From all that Jesus tells us, I think it’s fair to say that God’s Kingdom is not some kind of hoped for military take-over, as with previous revolts and theocratic kingdoms. Rather, God’s Kingdom arrived with the coming of the Messiah, and the proclamation of the Gospel. Those who are Christians—for whom Christ is Lord and Savior—are citizens in the Kingdom of God, while being residents in this world (1 Peter 1:1 describes us as “resident aliens”–a perfect description of Christians at present). But this is just a deposit—a promissory note anticipating the full payment of the Kingdom in the end times.

At some time in the future, God will call all men to final judgment and the events predicted in the Book of Revelation will come to pass, with Satan and his minions, along with hell, being cast into the lake of fire.  Then God’s dominion will be established totally, with all people under His loving and gracious authority.

You might ask: if God is sovereign, doesn’t He already have absolute power and authority…so what are we asking for here?  I would respond by saying, yes, God is sovereign, and He has absolute power and authority.  He can do as He pleases whenever it pleases Him.  Which means that the state of affairs as they are right now, with the name of God slandered throughout society, and Christians being demeaned and, to varying degrees, persecuted, is part of His plan and is in accord with His timing.  When we pray this prayer, we are not asking for God to establish something that is not currently His, or to gain authority by conquest.  Rather, we are asking the Lord to hasten the day when He executes the final stage of His plan of redemption, when all His elect are called to Him, the present godless age is brought to an end, and He establishes His rule throughout the universe, with Satan, sin, and all that oppose Him set aside permanently.

This means that when we pray for the salvation of our non-Christian friends and family members, we are asking God to extend His kingdom on Earth in this present age.  But we also pray that God will, indeed, shorten the time we have to endure this godless age, and bring about what we so long and hope for.

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Father, we thank You for who You are in us and us in You!  And for Your unconditional love for us in Jesus’ name, we say ‘thank You!’ Amen!

Rejection and Persecution

SeekingHimLogo

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.
The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
Matthew 5:10

  • Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 7:54-60)
  • The Apostles were put in jail for teaching in Jesus’ name (Acts 5:17-33)
  • John the Baptist was beheaded (Matthew 14:1-12)
  • Jesus was crucified

As Americans we are blessed and privileged to have the luxury of not being likely to suffer extreme persecution.  Our modern-day persecution largely consists of Christians being labeled as intolerant.

Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
2 Timothy 3:12

Christian’s are destined for persecution.  Our Lord’s teachings go against everything the systems of this world idolizes.  God’s children were not made to be accepted by the world.  No!  We were called to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16).  Different.  Godly.

I think one of the toughest tests of faith is persecution, right alongside hardship and loss.  Even Peter failed to stand for Jesus and he walked to Him on water! Standing up and openly claiming Jesus as your Lord can be scary.  Nowadays, the worst that we face is denial from people (people we were never suppose to be accepted by), thank God for America.

Rejection isn’t an easy thing to face.  Jesus himself was rejected, though, but of course that doesn’t make it any easier.  Here’s how I’ve decided to look at rejection.  When faced with the choice to stand for Christ or not—to face possible rejection or not—if we choose to deny Christ to be accepted by people, we are rejecting Christ.  Is rejecting Christ worth not being rejected ourselves?

I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth,
the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.
But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels.
Luke 12:8-9

Will you stand for Christ in front of man?

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Lord, I’m thankful that I don’t have to worry about being beheaded!  Give me the strength to stand for You, regardless of whether it’s easy or not.  Right is right and Your truth is truth.  One easy, but wrong, choice can set us on a road we never intended to take.  Help us to make the right tough choices now so we won’t have to pay the consequences later.  I pray that I do not shy away from proclaiming Your name to the world!  Amen.

Paving the Path

SeekingHimLogo

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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Blessed and happy and enviably fortunate and spiritually prosperous (in the state in which the born-again child of God enjoys and finds satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of his outward conditions) are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (for being and doing right), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!   Matthew 5:10 AMP

Today, many of us living in the United States feel we have never been truly persecuted for our beliefs…for doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.  Oh, we may have been called into question for our actions or harshly criticized for our beliefs but persecuted?  Probably not.  Yet persecution has many forms and comes in varying degrees – from insults, harassment, and ostracism to imprisonment, torture, and even death. As representatives of Christ, the fact that we are a Christian will bother some people Our desire to live for Christ, our non-conformity to this world will bring persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 assures us of this. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

As Greg Laurie states: “If you live a godly life, you will be persecuted. It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when and how much.”

Why the persecution?

If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you. John 15:19

The world cannot [be expected to] hate you, but it does hate Me because I denounce it for its wicked works and reveal that its doings are evil.                     John 7:7

For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.                                                                                               John 3:20

Persecution is a result of righteous living. Most of us have never experienced the harshest extremes of persecution.  Many of us never will.  But we will experience persecution in some form.  How we react to persecution, in any form, is what matters.  What happens when we are taken out of our comfort zone?  Are we steadfast, consistent, unwavering in the face of challenges?  Or do we run from confrontation and actively try to avoid persecution?  There comes a point in our lives where we must decide if we will stand for our Lord, no matter the cost.  It takes courage to stand for our faith.  The stand we take paves the way for others to follow.

He who heeds instruction and correction is [not only himself] in the way of life [but also] is a way of life for others. And he who neglects or refuses reproof [not only himself] goes astray [but also] causes to err and is a path toward ruin for others.   Proverbs 10:17

Which path are we paving?

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Lord, help us to stand our ground and defend our faith no matter what the challenge.  With Your strength we can remain steadfast and unwavering in any situation. You were willing to die on the Cross for me.  Let me be willing to stand firm in doing what is right in Your eyes.  In Jesus’ name, amen…so be it.

Persecuted for Righteousness

SeekingHimLogo Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

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

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

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

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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I pray that we do not have to suffer the persecution that Christ suffered! It would be nice to think that religious persecution is over and that we have grown enough to look past religious differences. But daily there are news stories of those who are being sought and harmed due to their religion, due to their faith. Daily we are asked to pray for those who are hurting and suffering simply for leading others to salvation.

per•se•cute

to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religion, race, or beliefs; harass persistently. to annoy or trouble persistently.

Persecution isn’t always what we see on TV—it isn’t always the acts of bodily harm or imprisonment. And there are times when persecution is the whispers when we are seen reading the bible; it is eyes rolled when we share those words we read. We can see it when our children are encouraged and, at times, forced to hide their beliefs in school. Persecution is an attempt by satan to discourage Christians from sharing what we know to be true. Despite this persecution we are given instructions to continue to spread the love of God.

Mark 16:15-16

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Go into the world, without fear of persecution, because as He said “blessed are those who have been persecuted….”  This is a promise that whatever we may encounter on this journey, He has promised us and has assured us of what awaits.

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Let’s Pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for courage and strength to push through the persecution we may face, whether extreme or more subtle. Thank You for Your continued promises of Your reassurance of what is to come. I pray for those who are experiencing this extreme persecution! I pray for their strength and I know that Your hand is on their lives daily. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 8 – “Recycling Pain” (pp 241-242)

Choice 8: Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.

Matthew5_10

Can you believe it?  We are actually on our last week of this study.  It has been an amazing journey with all of you.  As we close up this study, we are going to talk about recycling our pain—sharing the testimony God has given us and our giving to others, so they may know the love and grace we have been given.  I don’t know about you, but I use to think as Moses did, “Who am I?” that He should use me?  But God doesn’t use the strong, or the wise, or the mighty. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty, and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are  (1 Corinthians 1:27, 28).

God wants to use those very things you want to leave behind, pack away, or just simply not talk about to help others.  When I first completed this study, 3 years ago, one of the sentences that stuck out to me was “God never wastes a hurt.”  He wants to use all the pain and struggles we have gone through to show others His power.  It is during that time when we become weak that His strength shines.  “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength (Isaiah 40:29). 

As you continue this journey beyond this week, and allow God to be first in your life, you will see that everything we have is a gift from God.  Our recovery and healing are built upon the strong foundation of our faith in Christ.  As we share what He has done in our lives, others will see Him living through us.  In Matthew chapter 5, just after the Beatitudes are delivered from Jesus during His sermon on the Mount, He tells us we are ‘…the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden’ (verse 14).  He then says,”Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify Your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:15, 16).  He wants us to place His light in us on that lampstand to shine before others.

As He is the Potter and has made us His vessels, think about vessels and light.  As we become broken vessels and He puts us back together, visualize a pot that has been broken and put back together—cracks here and there.  Now place it next to an unbroken vessel.  Which one, when a light is placed inside, would shine the most?  The broken and healed vessel, as the light will shine through the every crack.  God has healed and put us back together with His power, placed His light inside us to shine so others can see and all glory can be given to Him.

I have had the privilege of giving my testimony many times in the past year.  I love to tell people what God has done in my life.  God has given me the love and grace to be out of the gay lifestyle for three and a half years now.  That is just the frame of His testimony in me.  The masterpiece He has created within that frame has been given freedom from abusive relationships, manipulation of everyone around me, guilt, shame, anger, doubt, setting expectations beyond reach, dishonesty, and other struggles.  He has taken all my sin, dipped it in red, and made me white as snow.  My life has gone from chaos to peace, from despair to hope, from guilt and shame to honor, and from sin to salvation.  I am also happy to say He has taken me from strength and independence to weakness.  For in my weakness, He is made strong.

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Let’s Pray:

Most gracious and heavenly Father, we are so in awe of all You have done for us.  Of the grace, mercy, and love You have unconditionally given each one of us.  Thank You for Your healing from all things we have struggled with in our own might.  Lord, as we continue to seek You, show us how to be that light that will not be hidden, shine through us so others will see all Your glory.  Help us to spread Your message of hope and freedom.  Let our lives be that living testimony for You.  Lord, bless each person who has joined this study with Your healing power. Restore within their lives anything that has been damaged or destroyed.  Your word says that You will replace what the locusts have eaten. Father, we stand on Your word in agreement.  We love You, Lord, and give all the honor and glory to You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

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If you would like to send a private message to Laurie in regards to this blog, please email her at Laurie@girlfriendscoffeehour.com