Do We or Do We Not?

There is a passage in Matthew 25 it seems we have often overlooked.  This chapter is a part of what is called the “Olivet Discourse” of Jesus, which actually begins in Chapter 24 and continues through Chapter 25.  The cause for the discourse was Jesus’ answer to the well-known question of the disciples, “…What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

We are very familiar with the first several parts of this significant portion of scripture.  We are assured that wrs and rumors of wars, false prophets, the abomination of desolation, and the sun and moon being darkened, and budding fig tree are definite signs of the end of time, and know that we are seeing them fulfilled.

We are, also, sure that we should heed not only the story of the virgins who foolishly did not have enough oil but also the warning of the wicked and slothful servant who did not multiply his talents.

The question is, though, have we overlooked the last part of Matthew 25? Continue reading “Do We or Do We Not?”

Blessed are the Persecuted

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

We don’t talk about persecution too much these days.  When we talk of persecution we often find ourselves focusing on the martyrs of old, men like Michael Servitus and Pliny the Younger and Justin Martyr and thousands of others who gave their lives rather than denounce their belief in Jesus Christ.

Tertullian observed:  “The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow. The blood of Christians is seed.”  (Tertullian, Apology 50, c. A.D. 200). In the earliest years of Christianity, persecution of Christians was rampant. Continue reading “Blessed are the Persecuted”

The Mockery Of Purple

They called Him “King.”  They tried to make Him look like one.  They even gave Him a crown.

What they called Him was a bad joke that was not funny.  They were playing and pretending with the purple robe, and the crowning was not only painful, it was humiliating.

By choice He was at their mercy.  The exhilaration of their own power gave them poor judgement of their attitude and actions.  Would it not have been enough to simply carry out the orders to get rid of Him?  Why taunt Him, teasing and humiliating?  A beating and an old coat to send Him on His way to rejection would have been enough.  Oh, but, no . . . they called Him something they didn’t mean, attempted to make Him appear more than what they really felt HE was, and they hurt Him. Continue reading “The Mockery Of Purple”

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

If there’s anything in true shortage in our world today, it’s peace.  Check your current news source.  Google current wars or visit warsintheworld.com and you’ll see that we’re in the “wars and rumors of wars” stage of time.  In addition to these big real-life wars with guns and bombs, there are the smaller wars we all face every day.  The war between what is right and what is wrong.  The wars of words and deeds that rage between couples in the throes of divorce, among families wrought with discord.  In the business world, companies overtaking other companies and the threatened unemployment fallout leaves anything but peace in its wake.  So many more examples could be listed here.  People need peace. Continue reading “Blessed are the Peacemakers”

A Place In the Sun

I first noticed it as I hurriedly turned a corner, making my way on down the walk.  A tiny little plan t had sprouted in a very unlikely place.  Cradles in a crevice, shaded by the corner of the building and a small shrub, it had crowned itself with a frail little bloom.

“How did you get there?” I mused out loud, noticing the strange bend of its spindly stem.

Almost daily I watched as it struggled in its shady spot.  It strenuously pushed itself around the corner at an odd and difficult angle as it reached upward, ever seeking the sun. Continue reading “A Place In the Sun”

Blessed Are The Pure In Heart

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

Jesus, in this fifth “blessed are . . .” statement, makes clear His concern with our hearts.  He is not just interested in whether or not we change outwardly.  He wants to know our hearts are right as well.  In Matthew 23, he called out the scribes and Pharisee for being clean on the outside and filthy on the inside.  His instruction was to clean the inside of the cup first – and the plate – that the exterior might be clean as well.  He didn’t come just to change our lives; He came to change our hearts.  John Piper observed,

“What we are in the deep, private recesses of our lives is what he cares about most. Jesus did not come into the world simply because we have some bad habits that need to be broken. He came into the world because we have such dirty hearts that need to be purified.”

Continue reading “Blessed Are The Pure In Heart”

A Commitment To Excellence

Several years ago I read an interview with Mary Crowley, the highly successful developer and owner of the Home Interiors enterprise.  The question was asked, “What are some of the basic principles of how you approach your work and how you approach your life that have made you more and more successfully.”  Her answer was simple: “I have a commitment to excellence, and never give up.  Whatever the job is, do it the best you can, and make it shine.”  With this she also imparts her deep feeling that everyone is on the team, and everyone is serving others, not just doing a job.  Over a period of 25 years, her initial investment of $5,000.00 had grown to over $400 million that year. Continue reading “A Commitment To Excellence”

Blessed Are The Merciful

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

The law of sowing and reaping is often quoted in reference to bad behaviors and the end result of a sinful life.  However, it also refers to the sowing and reaping of good things.  True, you can sow unhappiness and reap a lifetime of it for yourself.  But, by the same token, you can sow happiness and ultimately reap happiness in your own life.

This beatitude that promises mercy for mercy reflects that law in the best of terms.  If you and I can learn to practice mercy toward others, we will, when it is needed in our own lives, find that mercy is granted to us.  Long ago, dealing with a particular situation involving a couple of church families, I heard a pastor say, “If I am going to make a mistake with an individual, I would rather err on the side of mercy than ever on the side of judgement.”  He has lived that – and lived to reap that.  We cannot expect to set ourselves up to harshly judge others and expect, when our time comes, to receive great mercy from those same individuals in our own situations. Continue reading “Blessed Are The Merciful”

Blessed Are The Hungry & Thirsty

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:

for they shall be filled.

Have you ever had one of those conversations with your spouse or kids?

“I’m hungry . . .”

“Okay, let’s see . . . What are you hungry for?”

“I don’t know really . . . I’m just hungry. . .”

“How about Mexican?”

“No, anything but Mexican. . .”

“What about trying the new Italian place?”

“No, that doesn’t really sound good to me . . .”

“So, you choose . . . What about just ordering pizza?”

“No . . .let me think about it . . .” and they wander off into another room.

Meanwhile, by now you’re hungry, too, and they can’t make up their mind so you’re at their mercy. Continue reading “Blessed Are The Hungry & Thirsty”

The Confusion Of Christmas

Man’s mind is a significant skirmish field for the emotions.  The constant tug-o-war between what we ought to do and what we do, how we ought to feel and how we feel interjects confusion compounded with guilt into the maze of life.  Those who are trained in the science of the mind and emotions tell us that the Christmas holiday season is one of the peak times for upset emotions.  Many reasons make up the basis for this.  The contrast of memories of carefree childhood holidays versus the pressure of the adult world of holidays can cause confusion by the paradox of how we would like to feel and how we feel.  Peaceful and happy holiday scenes and melodious strains of “sleep in heavenly peace” contrast drastically with the hectic holiday pace, late hours, pressure and frayed nerves.  However, a real look at the first Christmas reveals a great similarity between their day and ours. Continue reading “The Confusion Of Christmas”