Wednesday, October 7, 2015


One rendition of “The Mercy Seat”, Ark of the Covenant
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

When it is in one shows compassion or forgiveness to someone when the one has total control to punish or harm, that is “mercy.” One of the synonyms of mercy that I love is "charity" - the word used for the love between God and man in the New Testament.

When we believe there is a Creator, one who is capable of bringing into  being and equally as capable to bring well-deserved punishing destruction, we would live in fear of that destruction. There is biblical proof of God's destruction, and greater biblical proof of His mercy.

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (Titus 3:3-5)

That reminds me of what I wrote yesterday – and used often in other blogs – there are none righteous. No, not one. We all have sinned, against one another and against God. He has provided the propitiation for these sins, by His mercy and His grace. I know – propitiation is more than three syllables long. Read it in context: Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:10. God's provision for the "whosoever" of John 3:16.

I see some of myself in that Titus 3:3 list. Oh, I have been foolish, disobedient and deceived. Somehow I think you have, too.  I have done things to gain items that gave me pleasure. You haven’t? How about that extra creamy New York cheesecake? Oh, didn’t think that counted? What other “lusts and pleasures” can fall into that “keeping up with the Jones” category. Malice? You have malice toward no one? Not even (insert a malicious thought from recent past)? No – we won’t go through the whole list. We would see ourselves is soooo many mirrors, wouldn’t we?

It is sufficient to know that we have not always been righteous and we’ve fallen short of our goal:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)

To be merciful means to be more like God. He’s given instructions for that through Christ:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

When we can be merciful as God was merciful, we obtain mercy. One of the easiest Beatitudes to read and understand, but difficult for us to do. Impossible to do without God.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I Think I know This One

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  (Matthew 5:6)

To understand this one we have to learn what righteousness is. We already know it is not self-righteousness – no one wants that and it’s too easily recognized from the outside, no matter how we look at ourselves. A little later in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew tells us Jesus referred to a specific righteousness:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

David went a bit further in Psalm 24:

A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalms 24:1-5)

Let me assure you, I know I am not worthy to stand in His Holy Place. I’m also positive you know that, too. Yet – this is an important concept in the Bible because “righteous” or “righteousness” is used in 500 verses. God repeats important things so we can “get” them.

It’s not used before Noah, but God called him a righteous man in a generation that held no other, according to Genesis 7:1. Then there is the back-and-forth between God and Abraham over how many righteous men there were in Sodom. Ten righteous men were not to be found. Do you know ten people (not just men) that you would deem righteous before God? Before your family?

I can name ten that do hunger and thirst after God’s righteousness. They could speak to you about this verse:

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Corinthians 1:30)

I don’t even mind being called foolish for believing God created the heaven and the earth. I know others laugh at those of us who believe Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah, that He died and was resurrected. Paul ran into that same problem:

For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:22-25)

One of the “Roman Road" verses tells each one of us where we fit as to righteousness:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10)

Romans 3:10 tells us nothing more than Psalm 14:1-7 and surely is tied to Psalm 36:1:

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. (Psalms 36:1)

The Psalmist also wrote:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. (Psalms 111:10)

Which Solomon must have learned early:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

Learned enough about the importance to repeat:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

That’s where we really hunger and thirst – to understand that God provides the righteousness because we know, fear and love Him..

Monday, October 5, 2015

And, The Third

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 KJV)

This one raised a lot of questions for me. Does meekness mean the same thing as humble? Why would I want to inherit the earth when it is in such bad shape. According to our leaders, mankind has made a mess of things and we have to make worldwide changes just to keep living on this accidental planet. Why in the world would I want to inherit problems.

Of course, the spiritual truth is quite a bit different. The earth is the Lord’s according to 1 Corinthians 10:26. I must admit here that I like the way the KJV puts it – “fulness thereof”, rather than “everything in it.” Think about it.

Any way, let’s take a look at the Pulpit commentary for a bit more explanation. Consider where the phrase "Shall inherit the earth” is used elsewhere in the Bible. First in Isaiah 60:21 when Isaiah is prophesying about the restored Jerusalem; and Jesus has referred to the following verses, Isaiah 61:1-2, to described His ministry in Luke 4:21. May I say again how well Jesus knew the inspired scriptures?

The phrase is used often in relation to the meek in Psalms 37:9, 11, 22, 29, 34.  According to the Pulpit Commentary:
Meekness is rather the attitude of the soul towards another when that other is in a state of activity towards it. It is the attitude of the disciple to the teacher when teaching; of the son to the father when exercising his paternal authority; of the servant to the master when giving him orders. It is therefore essentially as applicable to the relation of man to God as to that of man to man.
There is no doubt in my mind that I am a disciple to Christ as He is teaching. I have no doubt that God is my Father and He will exercise paternal authority. Absolutely am I the servant looking to God as my master. Feel free to ask me about these relationships!

So, the answers I get are that meekness does not equal humility, but is the concept of learning from someone that has much more to teach than we can know. That makes a good spot for it in Christian growth.

I also understand that the earth we see today is not the one to be inherited. Today’s earth – or at least the majority of the inhabitants – exploit the richness for now, to satisfy current desires, not essential needs. We go way past food, shelter and comfort, seeking luxury beyond our means. Those who have extreme means find ways to spend on passing fancies, and we envy their way of life. Think of the money spent by and on celebrities just to watch and envy their indulgences. Is that meekness? What are we learning from them? Is that what we are to inherit?

The Bible has answers for that, too. Those answers do not match the standards of the world.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2 KJV)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Mourning on the Mountain


I don’t know whether or not I’ll go through the remaining Beatitudes – but this one fell open when I picked up my notebook again:

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4 KJV)

“Mourning” is defined as expression of deep sorrow for someone who has died – as in Pieta, where Mary is mourning the death of her son. But it’s not the life taken from someone that Jesus refers to here. Instead, I believe that after becoming aware of our spiritual need for God (see yesterday’s blog), we mourn because of our sin, we are not worthy to be near Him. I think The Pulpit Commentary agrees wit this:
Our Lord does not define that which causes the mourning, but as the preceding and the following verses all refer to the religious or at least the ethical sphere, merely carnal and worldly mourning is excluded. The mourning referred to must, therefore, be produced by religious or moral causes.
My notes include verses from II Corinthians 7 where Paul was explaining that he knew his earlier letter to them caused them sorrow, then explained:

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10 KJV)

During the sermon, Pastor gave examples of two men who repented their rejection of Jesus. Peter denied him three times before a number of people, once using curse words to make his point in Matthew 26:69-75. Oh, yes – I do believe his crying was in mourning. With Jesus’ death, his hope was gone. He soon discovered it wasn’t. The resurrection changed everything.

The other man betrayed Jesus for money – 30 pieces of silver. And, he repented. He was sorry for what he had done. Instead of the mourning Peter did, he hanged himself after returning the money:

And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. (Matthew 27:6-7 KJV)

Just as prophesied in Zechariah 11:12-13:

And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. (Zechariah 11:12-13 KJV)

Two men who recognized their sin and repented. One turned to God and received the promised comfort. The other did not. This verse offers us comfort – which I have received, and pray for others to know.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

On The Mountain

Sermon on the Mount
Mosaic in Sant' Apollinare in Ravenna
(my apologies for not knowing the source of this graphic)

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: (Matthew 5:1 KJV)

While searching for a graphic, I found this one, posted by an Andrea, but no name and no response from the website where I sought permission. I chose it because it was from an older mosaic and because of the composition. We are told that Jesus saw multitudes, then went to a mountain where his disciples came to Him. Did the multitudes hear the sermon? Questions without answers. In other places, the Bible carries specific answers.

I chose the subject from a book I ran across while moving stuff around on my computer desk – notes from church services in 2008. The reference was Matthew 5:1-12 and the title “How Christians Should Be.” I find that many people on the internet are very specific as to how Christians should be. Let’s do a bit of study on Jesus’ description.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 KJV)

These are the beginners who just recognized their need for God. I like the way John Wesley commented on this verse:
"They who are unfeignedly penitent, they who are truly convinced of sin; who see and feel the state they are in by nature, being deeply sensible of their sinfulness, guiltiness, helplessness."
This is where we become aware that life is spiritual, too. Continued study takes us to Luke 18:9-14 where Jesus introduces us to two men. One is very aware of shortcomings – in other people; and one who is aware of his own. Jesus also tells us that only one of them went home justified.

People often become defensive when they hear they are in a state of sin, believing they are living lives that (by society’s standards) are good. Acceptance that we are sinners comes with requirements, responsibilities and consequences.

In several places are are given God’s requirements. My favorite is:

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:6-8 KJV)

My least favorite example is because the man disobeyed God after receiving years of blessings:

And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:22-23 KJV)

I believe that happens today – “Because thou has rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee . . . .” – and I know the consequences had I rejected Him. The kingdom I would have lost is much greater than Saul’s.

Friday, October 2, 2015

More Questions, Seeking Answers

Bethlehem, Judean Mountains in background (permission requested)
I have to answer some questions from my own studies. Remember, I’m very much as I found the Bereans:

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:10-11 KJV)

Yep – I’m going to search the scriptures before stating a viewpoint doesn’t match mine. I have much still to learn – and I really expect everyone does. We cannot know all there is about God:

To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. Isaiah 40:25-28 KJV)

What we have been told about Him is sufficient for my faith, and my faith grows as I learn more:

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)

Thus studying the scriptures daily to learn more about God, to see whether or not these things are so, is important to anyone who believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died for our sins. Beginning with John 3:16 is good, but knowing Isaiah 53 prophesied His death among thieves is better. It takes studying.

For example, what do you know about Bethlehem? Those who celebrate Christmas as a secular day off are aware of wise men who came to Herod with question. We know it as Matthew 2:1-6. Did you also know where the answer given in verse 6 was found? There are 38 verses in the Bible that refer to Bethlehem, but only Micah 5:2 prophesies a ruler born there in the future. You’ll have to read a lot more – from Genesis through the gospels to see the string of connections.

When it comes to the word “faith”, though, you’ll need to read almost 250 scriptures (best read in context) to understand why it is important and what it means – although the writer of Hebrews sums it up quite well:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

The Bible does provide examples of things not seen. Jesus described this as great faith:

When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.  . . . And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. (Matthew 8:10, 13 KJV)

Be careful if you click on the scripture reference – it will take you to the full 10 through 13 verses and you’ll learn a bit about God’s judgment. If you think people are judgmental here, you need to prepare yourself for later. Which is one reason I continually search scriptures, gaining faith as I see these things were so.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Seen Jesus Lately?

I think I’ve used that title – or something similar before – but it came to mind as I’ve finished 30% of an e-book by Jeffrey McClain Jones, “Seeing Jesus.” There are a couple of lines that I really like so far. One is from a former girlfriend who was just convinced Jesus was there and asked:
“How is this possible”
Philly shrugged. “Grandma prayed,” he said
Another was when Phil was “amazed at how silent Jesus remained through most of the day. He didn’t preach or pry, or interrupt Philly’s work.  Rather, he waited silently, patiently, always present, always ready and never perturbed.”  A little later he thinks, “Everyone could use a serene supporter, ready and waiting with an encouraging smile, throughout the day.”

The problem is that Jesus works through people – and Phil doesn’t quite get that Jesus could work through him.

Do we think He can work through us? Or do we leave His work to the Holy Spirit? Gotcha there, didn’t I. Where we do we see the work done by our Lord? Through the actions of those who have been reconciled with God is my answer.

I know how it was with Saul:

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (Acts 9:3-6 KJV)

I have never expected to have such an on the road experience – but my God is not limited by what I expect. What I do expect is that once we experience our own meeting with Jesus, we do as He told others, and I expect He tells us:

And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19 KJV)

. . .  follow thou me. (John 21:22c KJV)

I’m afraid my response “But first”ed, as these others:

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:59-62 KJV)

Am I alone when I qualify me response with “But first let me . . . .” What could I possibly be doing that would override our Lord’s request? Caring for my family? That’s what it sounds as though the Luke 9 examples are doing. They would follow Jesus as soon as they buried the dead or bid farewell to those at home. Did they not realize that those should have been the first to hear, “I’m following Jesus, let me tell you about Him.”

Were they looking more for the companionship of Jesus, the crowds He drew, the places He’s been and surely would be visiting? Why couldn’t it be to tell the ones we love the most that:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(John 3:16 KJV)

That’s a short verse – but we’ll need to explain where to learn about God, why He loves the world, who was His only begotten son, what it takes to believe in Him, why it’s important we not perish, what we can expect with everlasting life – and how we even know about these things. Short compound sentence, but it can take a lifetime to understand and respond.

My apologies - I've overstayed my usual time - but so many interesting questions are raised, aren't there?