People of Promise 68 Irreproachable 2

We began a discussion of the concept of “irreproachable” in the last lesson with the idea of truly understanding who God has made us to be in Christ Jesus. Not just knowing who we are, but acting upon it in faith. Remember that faith is absolute trust in God. Not a “maybe” faith, not a “let me try it and see if it’s real” faith, not a “quizzical” faith, but a “real, honest, trusting to the very end” faith. And let me also point out that this is NOT “blind faith.” Blind faith is also known as stupid faith. God gave us His Word (word = His promise, His written word, and Christ Jesus) so that we will not be ignorant. So that we KNOW Him personally, and KNOW Him without a shadow of doubt.

He not only gave us His Word so that we could know Him and clearly understand our new life in Him, but so that we could act upon it in absolute confidence and trust (Col. 1:9-12, 2:2-3). Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah). For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power]. (Col. 2:7-10).

So, focus on the fact that God has made His children irreproachable. This does not mean that we can’t sin. Not at all. No, what it means is that when we become God’s child, Satan has no right to us. When we are renewed in spirit by our faith in Christ Jesus (Gal 2:20), we are God’s child, period. Satan cannot come and snatch us away (John 10:29). As God’s child we sit in the “secret place” of Ps. 91:1. That “secret place” is on God’s throne, at His right hand. We are there because we are in Christ Jesus, and that’s where He is seated (Col. 3:1, Eph. 2:6). Satan has absolutely no access to our secret place on God’s throne.

Sin is living outside a relationship with God. As God’s children, we obviously live in a relationship with God. But, God has given us the right to choose to live fully in that relationship or to not live fully in that relationship. We choose, not Him (Deut. 30:19, Josh. 24:15). He has given us an irreproachable spirit centered perfectly in Christ. We get to take care of body and soul. Look carefully at the wording of Romans 12:1-2: I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Notice who has to do this. We have to do it. Not a word in here about God forcing anything on us. Not a word in here about this being God’s responsibility. We are 100% totally responsible. Now, given that, we also have the right to enlist God’s help in doing what He asks us to do. Indeed, we can be 100% certain that he hears us when we ask for His help, and 100% certain that He grants it (1John 5:14-15). He asks us to choose to dedicate our bodies to Him and to get busy and renew our thinking so that it lines up with His, and further, if we ask, He comes along side us, yokes up with us, and guides us every step of the way (Matt. 11:29-30). What an incredible God we serve.

However, being human and having the Sinatra hankering to brag, “I did it my way,” we can and do get crossways of God’s desires for us. That’s when the irreproachable us has to get the other part of us back into a fully right relationship with God. And this we do by sincerely asking for forgiveness and by pleading the Blood of Jesus. To Satan, the Blood of the Lamb is not just irreproachable, it is also unapproachable. It instantly washes the dirt of the world from us. True, Jesus showed He was the servant King by washing His disciples feet, but the real point of the story is that He forgives us and ever washes us with His own Blood, cleansing us every single time we truly ask to be cleansed (1John 1:7-9). And when we are clean, we are clean—made pure in the sight of the Lord God Almighty. We are irreproachable.

Just think about it for a moment. God has made us His very own, and made provision to help us stay clean of the dirt of this world so that our lives can honor Him and help others to come out of the mire of Satan’s control and into the bright Son-Light. I can live with that!

 

People of Promise 68 Irreproachable

We need to very clearly understand who Christ has made us to be. We need to understand so that we can (1) operate in, and take full advantage of, what He bought and paid for on the cross, and (2) utilize all that He has thus provided for us to help others find their way out of the darkness and into the light of His Kingdom. We need to be very certain of who we are, not to brag about it, not to hold it above others, not to glory in it, basing in the light of our own significance. But rather, so we can do exactly what needs done with no equivocation. When we know precisely who we are and what God has made us capable of, we can be very positive in our actions. Positive, and ever ready to act n Agape love, willing to give the best we have without regard to the consequences to ourselves, absolutely certain that God has our backs.

The Bible is full of positive statements about who God has made us to be in Christ Jesus. Don’t dismiss these as being for others, putting on a cloak of false humility that masks our unbelief. If you really are God’s child, then you have rights, and God expects, as in expects, you to operate in them. For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance (2Cor. 5:7). Without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out] (Heb. 11:6).

If we really want to please God, then we really need to believe Him and operate fully in all that He has provided for us. And He will establish you to the end [keep you steadfast, give you strength, and guarantee your vindication; He will be your warrant against all accusation or indictment so that you will be] guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1Cor. 1:8-9).

Just look at all that God has provided for those who love Him and have made Jesus the Lord of their lives. (1) He established us to the end; we have His guarantee (2Cor. 1:22). (2) He will keep us steadfast; unmoved in who we are in Christ (2Cor 1:21). (3) Gives us strength for all things that we need to do for Him (Phil 4:13). (4) Guarantees our vindication (Ps. 135:14). (5) Will be our warrant against all accusations or indictments (Rev. 12:10). (6) Makes us guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 20:11-15, 21:27).

That’s quite a list, and one that we certainly can live with and live through. Imagine if you will, the Lord God Almighty, really pure beyond our imagining, making us blameless and pure before Himself. Sounds to good to be true, but that’s the beauty of the cross, if one can see any beauty in such an instrument of death. Yes, it was a horrible instrument of death, but for us it is the instrument of life, life in Christ Jesus, Who, by His death on the cross, paid our debts in full. That’s because God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross (Col. 1:20).

It was not humanity’s plan to kill Jesus so we could become God’s own. It was God’s plan, and that is astounding. We were in the wrong. We were the ones willingly living outside a relationship with Him, and He died so that He could re-establish that relationship. See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) us is that it does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him (1John 3:1).

How could we not want to honor Him by operating in all the power and authority that He has made available? To do otherwise is to spurn the work of Jesus on the Cross. To do otherwise is to cop-out, and treat God as unable to keep His promises to us. We are basically calling God a liar.  Heaven forbid! What if some did not believe and were without faith? Does their lack of faith and their faithlessness nullify and make ineffective and void the faithfulness of God and His fidelity [to His Word]? By no means! Let God be found true though every human being is false and a liar, as it is written, That You may be justified and shown to be upright in what You say, and prevail when You are judged [by sinful men] (Rom. 3:3-4).

We each need to get busy, dig into God’s Word, drink deep of His well of knowledge and wisdom, and become all that He intends us to be. Every day, we need to give our lives to Him, give our work to Him, and ask Him to give us His strength, His ideas, His thoughts, His wisdom, His way of looking at the world and helping others. We need to tell Him that if there are others that need our help and guidance that we are available and ready to help in any way the He wants, and to give us the words we need to help those He puts in our pathway. And then we need to be attentive to just such happenstances, knowing full well that God is right there with us every step of the way helping us to operate as His children.

 

People of Promise 67 Greater

It is imperative that we understand what it means to be a child of God. Not just the idea of being “saved” and living in eternity with God, but all that it entails. This is essential if we are to operate and function the way God intends for each of our lives here on earth. When we become God’s children we automatically gain a great deal of power and authority through which we are to operate our lives and function to the fullest in the Kingdom. We need to very clearly evaluate ourselves in the light of what God says about us, not what other humans or Satan say about us. We need to do this, not to brag about what we’ve become, nor to get a “big head” about ourselves, but to very honestly understand who we have become through our eternal fusion with the Lord God Almighty through Christ Jesus (Gal. 2:20).

When we truly understand all that God has done for us, the realization of it is staggering. Here we were, each an enemy of God (James 4:4), and He not only made us His children through Christ Jesus, but made us His friends (John 15:15), and bestowed upon us His might and glory and honor. In His Last Will and Testament (John 17), Jesus very specifically noted that He was passing on to us the same honor and glory that God had given to Him (John 17:22). Astounding, and very humbling. When one comes to the full realization of just exactly what Jesus was saying here, there is such a flood of gratitude that wells up in one’s heart that it is truly overpowering, creating such an upwelling of praise and thanksgiving that it simply cannot be held back.

Ah, but that’s not all. Listen to what Jesus said about each and every one of us that come to believe in Him, and thus become members of His Kingdom. Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (Matt. 11:11). And then again in Luke, it is explained just a bit differently (giving us a little better insight into the meaning):I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; but he that is inferior [to the other citizens] in the kingdom of God is greater [in incomparable privilege] than he (Luke 7:28).

Imagine, the greatest man ever born of woman, as Jesus called John the Baptist, and he is inferior to you! Stunning, isn’t it? The question is, what does that mean? Well, it means exactly what it says, and it says several things. First, John was not a Christian. He was a Jew, but not joined eternally to God’s Spirit through Christ Jesus. Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) (Eph. 2:5). Certainly, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, John’ spirit was washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb, and he became God’s child for all eternity, but he was never a Christian while he lived on this earth.

We need to realize what happened at the cross and in the subsequent resurrection of the Lord Jesus, King of kings. It was not just a miracle to show that Jesus was the Son of God. Certainly it did that, but His resurrection did far more. It brought about something that had never happened before. Humans living outside of a relationship with God now have a way to enter into a full-fledged relationship with Him, and literally become his children (Rom. 8:17, Heb. 2:10). And, if we are His children, then we have His nature (2Tim 1:7, Rom. 5:5, Eph. 1:19-20, 1 Cor. 2:16), and we have rights to everything that He has for us (Rom. 8:17). John did not have that while he lived on this earth.

It’s a stunning realization, and very humbling when we finally grasp how poorly we operate in all that God has provisioned for us. We have been given more than Moses, Abraham, David, or John the Baptist. We are each and every one called God’s friend, and His child. We each and every one have direct access to Him, and can rush boldly into the throne room, even letting the screen door slam behind us in our wild-eyed abandon to see our Father (Heb. 4:16). He not only welcomes us with open arms,, but gathers us up and sits us on His lap where we can chatter on uncontrollably, telling Him all that we are doing, and asking Him for at least 100 things to make our lives better.—all without ever asking Him how He’s doing, and what He would like us to do. Then, without so much as “by your leave,” we tear off and go to do things “for” Him.

That’s not exactly what we should be doing, though most of the time it is what we do. He made provision for us to come boldly into His presence so that we can spend time with Him and develop our relationship with Him to a fuller degree. To Him, this is more important that having us rush off and go about wildly doing things that we think with please Him. What pleases Him the most is the fact that we understand we can come boldly into His presence and spend time with Him. Yes, He has given us privilege and authority to operate our lives, to help others to find their way into the Kingdom and to better understand who they are in Christ, but that is all ancillary to spending time with Him. This has always been God’s desire. For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings (Hos. 6:6).

Moses could come directly into God’s presence, true, but Moses was not a born-again child of God, with God’s spirit living in Him. Abraham could come directly into God’s presence, but he was not a born again child of God, with God’s spirit living in Him. David could come directly into God’s presence, but he was not a born again child of God, with God’s spirit living in Him. John the Baptist could come directly into God’s presence, but he was not a born again child of God, with God’s spirit living in Him. What about all the other Jews? No one, on the penalty of death, except the High Priest could come directly into God’s presence, and then only once a year to make an offering. God lived among them in the Holy of holies in the Temple.

God doesn’t live among Christians in a Temple, He lives in us!! (John 14:17, 20, 15:4, 17:21, Rom. 8:10, 11, 1Cor. 3:16, 2Cor. 13:5, Col. 3:16, etc.), and that is totally new, having been ushered in at the cross. In His Last Will and Testament, Jesus very specifically specified this arrangement: I in them and You in Me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] as You have loved Me (John 17:23). Live your life in the recognition that you are the Temple where God dwells (1Cor. 6:19), and then get busy and get to know Him fully.

 

People of Promise 66 The Cross

The cross was certainly a cruel and despicable way to put people to death. In fact, the Romans considered it the most cruel and despicable way to kill a person. It was meant as not only as a deterrent to crime, but as a way to mock, degrade, and minimize a person. So, the question becomes, why would God put Jesus on earth to bring salvation to all humanity at a time when this type of death was a certainty? The answer is a bit startling: because He needed Jesus to die on the cross.

Sounds like God is playing the role of the monster in this scenario, doesn’t it? But that’s not the case. The case is, in fact, that Jesus had to die on the cross in order to fulfill prophecy and carry out God’s great plan for the salvation of all humanity. Remember, God gave us prophecies in the Old Testament that directly foretold what Jesus would be like, and what He was to do. Jesus had to fulfill all of them, not just a few. That’s why He said, This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything which is written concerning Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled (Luke 24:44).

And one of those was: “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God (Deut. 21:22-23). Notice that, (1) he who is hung on the tree is accursed of God, and (2) that the body shall not remain on the tree overnight; the person is to be buried that day. Sound familiar, well at least the fact that Jesus was buried the same day he was killed. But the accursed of God?

Yes, that was Jesus, hanging on the cross—accursed of God. Christ purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and its condemnation] by [Himself] becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the Scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified); To the end that through [their receiving] Christ Jesus, the blessing [promised] to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, so that we through faith might [all] receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit (Gal. 3:13-14).

You see, Jesus’ death on the cross was a physical act that had spiritual consequences. Jesus was not just 100% human, he was also 100% God. As a 100% human, he had to undergo physical death to pay the physical price for the sin of all humanity. For the wages which sin pays is death (Rom. 23:6a). As 100% God, Jesus had to take on the Curse of the Law (see Deut. 2815-68) and the spiritual separation of all humanity from God, and overturn that. On the cross, it was prophesied that He would call out, My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? (Ps. 22:1). And of course, He did. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?—which means, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me [deserting Me and leaving Me helpless and abandoned]? (Mark 15:34).

That was a cry of spiritual agony beyond human comprehension. But Jesus did exactly what God had prepared for Him to do. Christ purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and its condemnation] by [Himself] becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the Scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified); To the end that through [their receiving] Christ Jesus, the blessing [promised] to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, so that we through faith might [all] receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit (Gal. 3:13-14).

Jesus became the Curse and beat it, to become the Savior. No longer does the Curse have a hold on humanity, because the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 6:23b). Thus, everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] will be saved (Rom. 10:13)—that is, brought into a relationship with God and all that He has for us.

Notice that Jesus did this so that the blessings of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles—why not the Jews? Because they already had the blessings of Abraham. But then notice very carefully the wording: so that we through faith might [all] receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit. Notice this was not directed at just the Gentiles, but at all. This is because no one had ever received the promise of the Spirit. So, when we make Jesus our Lord, our spirit becomes one with Him (Gal. 2:20), and we can then be baptized by Jesus with the Hold Spirit (Matt. 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33). Never, since Adam and Eve, had God made available to us this relationship with Him, and such empowerment and infilling of the Spirit.

The cross was the place where God opened a new door on humanity’s history. We need no longer live under the tyrannical rule of Satan; because of what Jesus was able to do on the cross, we can become God’s own children and live in His house for all eternity (Rom. 8:17, John 14:2). That’s the great message of the cross, and the greatest message of joy in all of time. And all ya got ta do ta get it is ask!

 

People of Promise 65 Beatitude 9

Beatitude 9 could also be labeled Beatitude 8b because it deals with the same basic topic—persecution. But, we designate this passage as Beatitude 9 because it starts with “Blessed.”  So, let’s have a look.

Matt. 5:11 Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous— with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of your outward conditions) are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you falsely on My account.

Matt. 5:12 Be glad and supremely joyful, for your reward in heaven is great (strong and intense), for in this same way people persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The difference between 8 and 9 is quite subtle, but certainly real, none the less. In 8, the persecution is for righteousness sake—that is being persecuted for doing what God asks us to do. In 9, the blessing comes to those who are persecuted, as Jesus says, “on my account.” In other words, we will be persecuted because we believe in Jesus, or because we tell others of Jesus, or write about Jesus, or in any way, shape, or form acknowledge Jesus in our lives.

Again, we should expect this type of persecution. Jesus knows the heart of man, and gave us this warning/statement of fact: If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you. 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 15:18-19).

Notice the reason that the world hates us: we are not of the world. I like the way Peter put it: Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy. Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock] (1Peter 2:10-12).

We are aliens! So if anyone asks you if you believe in aliens, say yes, and then tell them why. Well, the point really is that we should consider ourselves to be separated from the world (the nature and functioning of man without God). We need to consider ourselves for what we really are. And what is that? Saints. Not sinners.

Saint = child of God; one who lives in a relationship with God; made so by the reliance of that person on Jesus Christ for his/her salvation, having asked God for that salvation and “confessed” (said it) with their lips (Rom. 8:17, 27, 10:9-13, Eph. 1:1,).

Sinner = anyone that has not made Jesus the Lord of their lives and therefore lives outside a relationship with God (Matt. 6:24, Rom. 13:2, 14:23, Eph. 2:2, Heb. 11:6, 1Peter 3:12).

Paul carefully explained this to the believers at Ephesus: Therefore you are no longer outsiders (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God’s own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God’s [own] household (Eph. 2:19).       Rather amazing. We have not only been extracted from the slime and ooze of this world, but we have been made citizens of God’s own household. This does come with a cost, however, and that cost is envy, jealousy, fear, bitterness, and hatred of the world toward us. Now, hold on just a minute. This does not mean that people are immediately going to come against you. It does not mean that friends will abandon you (although that may happen). It does not necessarily mean that everyone you meet that is not God’s child will immediately get their hackles up and begin persecuting you. There are plenty of people around who will persecute just by saying that they just want to “live and let live,” and so don’t want to be around “intolerant” Christians that are always talking about Jesus, not realizing that they are being intolerant by having such an attitude.

We need to always remember that Satan has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING GOOD for humans. His “job” (as he sees it) is to “kill, steal, and destroy,” while Jesus’ job is to give us life full to abundant overflowing (John 10:10). We need to remember that God is not capable of being tempted with evil, nor does He temp anyone with evil. We are tempted when we are drawn astray by old, worldly lusts, emotions, and attitudes (James 1:13-15). This is why we need to renew our minds (Rom. 12:2, 1Cor. 2:16), fill our brains with God’s Word, seek His ever-presence, and concentrate on the “good stuff” (Phil 4:8). Further, we need to remember that ALL GOOD THINGS come from God (James 1:16-17), and ONLY FROM GOD. And still further, we need to remember that in our worldly existence we WILL HAVE trials, temptations, and frustrations, and that we can escape from them though Christ Jesus (John 16:33, Phil. 2:13, 4:13, 19, 1John 4:4, 5:4-5).

When we are persecuted on account of Jesus in our lives, then we need to go to God, open our hearts in praise and thanksgiving (Eph. 5:20, 1Thes. 5:18), knowing that He has provided a way out for us (1Cor. 10:13), and give Him thanks that He always sees and hears us when we are operating in His will (1John 5:14-15). Then we need to move forward, leaving the garbage of persecution piled on yesterday’s trash heap.

People of Promise 64 Beatitude 8

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! (Matt. 5:10)

Ouch. Here’s a Beatitude that doesn’t seem to be any sort of beatitude. After all, being persecuted doesn’t seem to be a blessing. And it’s not. The persecution is not the blessing, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, is the blessing. Again, let’s flip it for a moment and look at this Beatitude the other way round: Those in God’s kingdom will suffer persecution for their righteousness. This is not a maybe, this is a “for real,” it will happen. Jesus also said, I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] (John 16:33).

The Hope of every child of God, the Strength of every child of God, the Wisdom of every child of God, the very Being of every child of God, is the Lord Jesus. There is, and cannot be, any other in first place in our hearts and minds (Rev. 2:4). If you cannot trust Jesus, there is no hope. And He most specifically told us, The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows) (John 10:10). Jesus is full of life beyond measure, and when we live in Him, we live in that fullness of life beyond measure.

It is not a life without complications and without trouble; rather, it is a life in which we are able to overcome complications and troubles because we live in Christ Jesus (1John 4:4). That overcoming is rarely easy, either. It requires that we work at it, hand in hand with the Living God. We must stand in the strength and truth that He provides (Eph. 6:13), and not waver in it (James 1:6).

The persecution that comes against us can be as soft and gentle as whispers behind out backs at work, more open, as in arguments that people involve us in to show they are “stronger” and know more about “religion” than we do, or it may involve more harsh physical persecution, even death. In this country, persecution currently involves calling Christians “intolerant,” trying the best way that the law will “allow” (read: look the other way) to wipe God out of all public life, promote all manner of acts that defy God’s Word, and so on. Physical persecution is not yet a tolerated norm in this country, but times can change. We need to stand in God’s Truth, and ask Him to help this nation turn back to Him, and seek His justice in our lives.

Taking a stand for God is not to be an “I’m better that you are” position. That’s the way to get the hackles up on nearly everyone. No, first of all we are always to have an answer ready for what we believe, and then always be ready to tell others in a polite and gentle way. But even in case you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, [you are] blessed (happy, to be envied). Do not dread or be afraid of their threats, nor be disturbed [by their opposition]. But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully (1Peter 3:14-15).

So, are we to study to become the best apologist out there, so that we can argue even the staunchest atheist to an absolute standstill? No, that’s not what Peter is saying. Even the best of the best apologists cannot under any circumstance “argue” anyone into the Kingdom of Love and Light. Our job is not to try to convict others of their “sin,” but rather to give a logical defense for the hope that is in us—the hope that relies on the salvation bought and paid for by Christ Jesus on the cross. And the best and most logical defense that you have is your own story of what God has done for you.

Don’t go and get all hot under the collar. You are not defending God! He doesn’t need your defense. If fact, if anything, He is helping you to stand on the Truth that lives in you so that you can give an accurate defense for the faith that is you. Look again, the passage does not say to “fly off the handle,” and give those questioning you a really good tongue lashing. If anything, it says exactly the opposite. Remember the problem with ye olde tongue?? If not, have a look at what God say about this unruly member: If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren) (James 1:26).

And there’s more—a great deal more:

James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and it can boast of great things. See how much wood or how great a forest a tiny spark can set ablaze!

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna).

James 3:7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea animal, can be tamed and has been tamed by human genius (nature).

James 3:8 But the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is a restless (undisciplined, irreconcilable) evil, full of deadly poison.

James 3:9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who were made in God’s likeness!

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.

James 3:11 Does a fountain send forth [simultaneously] from the same opening fresh water and bitter?

James 3:12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can a salt spring furnish fresh water.

How’s that for a scriptural “tongue lashing” about our lashing tongue? Now read this verse very carefully: For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature (James 3:2). Wanna be perfect, even as God is perfect (Matt. 5:48)? Then curb your ugly tongue and control what you say and how you say it. Yours is a defense of your faith, not a defense of God, and certainly not a viperous belittlement of those asking about your faith. That’s the way you turn people off and block the Holy Spirit’s access to their lives.

Here are a dozen potential Q & A’s.

1. Q: Why do you believe in God? A: I know God personally, and He has helped me in so many difficult situations. He not only brings me comfort in times of emotional turmoil, but He gives me the strength to get through those tough times and to help others to do the same.

 

2. Q: How do you know God is real. A: Because I can talk with Him and ask Him anything, and He answers and helps me to understand both myself and Him better. When I read scripture, His words illuminate my life and give me guidance that I can find nowhere else.

 

3. How can you be so silly as to believe in God? A: Believing in God has nothing to do with silliness. I believe in Him because He is real and has shown His true love for me in so many ways, including making you my friend.

 

4. Q: Why would you want God to tell you what to do. A: Not only do I want God to tell me what to do, but I go and ask Him to tell me what to do because His way is always the best. He is the most gentle, kind, loving being that there is, and His advise is always sound and brings the best of the best into my life.

 

5. Q: Why do you go to church? A: Because God loves me and I love Him, and being in church gives me an opportunity to be with Him and with others that love Him. It’s a great opportunity to further my relationship with Him.

 

6. Q: Why do you read the Bible so much? The Bible is God’s love letter to me, and I really enjoy learning from Him. He has put so much good advice and information about Himself in the Bible, and I truly love discovering everything about Him that I can. In addition, He has great advice on the best way to live my life.

 

7. Q: How can you stand to be such a “goodie-two-shoes”?  A: Knowing God personally and intimately allows me to choose the best things for my life. I’m not a “goodie-two-shoes,” I’m just God’s child, and I really want to please Him by the way I live.

 

8. Doesn’t God make you “do” all sorts of things, like go to church, give money, not have drinking parties, and so on? A: One of the really great things about my relationship with God is the fact that He let’s me do whatever I want, no questions asked. Of course, my true desire is to do what He wants, and that makes me the very happiest. I don’t go to church because I have to, but because I honestly want to. I don’t give money because I have to, but because I truly want to help others to enjoy all they can in their lives. I don’t have drinking parties because I don’t like the idea of getting drunk and having a hangover and puking, etc. I’d rather have control of my life and not allow others to control me, and that’s what knowing God allows me to do.

 

9. Q: How can you stand to have God boss you around all the time? A: He doesn’t. I’m the boss of me. What He has done is give me the tools to be the best boss of me that I can be, and enjoy life to the very fullest. And, because His way is always the best way, that’s the way I choose to live my life.

 

10. Q. How come you always seem so content? A: I’m content because I asked God to help me control every aspect of my life, and He is helping me to do exactly that. It doesn’t mean that I always get it right or that I’m happy every second of every day. No, I have my ups and downs, too. But when I’m down, I can always count on Him to pick me up and get me going again, a whole lot faster that if I were doing it on my own. Who would not want that?

 

11. Q: How come I feel so empty and you don’t seem to act that way? A: God fills every nook and cranny of your life when you enter a relationship with Him. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when I don’t feel empty, or alone, or unloved, or even worthless, but when those times come, I go to God and talk to Him openly about my feelings and needs, and He always picks me up and helps me to feel His ever presence in and with me.

 

12. Q: How can I know God like you do? A: All you have to do is honestly want to know God and then ask Him to become a member of His family. Jesus purchased this right for you by His death on the cross. If you really what to become God’s child all you have to say is: “Father God, I want to live in a relationship with you. Please wipe away all the things I’ve done in the past that did not include You, and make me your child. Let me live my life with You from this moment forward. I ask this in the name of Jesus. So be it.”

 

People of Promise 62 Beatitude 6

In His sixth Beatitude, Jesus notes: Blessed (happy, enviably fortunate, and spiritually prosperous—possessing the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God! (Matt. 5:8). It might seem at first glance that Jesus is saying basically the same thing he said about righteousness in Matt. 5:6. After all, aren’t the pure in heart the righteous? Well, these two Beatitudes are not addressing exactly the same concepts. Being pure in heart is an attitude. Righteousness is a condition.

Purity of heart means being “innocent” in our attitudes, thoughts, and actions in the way little children are innocent in their attitudes, thoughts, and actions. Jesus made this eminently clear when he told His disciples, Leave the children alone! Allow the little ones to come to Me, and do not forbid or restrain or hinder them, for of such [as these] is the kingdom of heaven composed (Matt. 19:14, Luke 18:16). The Kingdom is composed of those, who like little children, are “pure” of heart. That is they are open and honest in their relationships, not yet having learned to lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, and participate in other worldly activities.

And that’s the way God’s children are to operate. We are to be “innocent” in the way we think and operate. Not an easy task, always, but an essential one if we are to show Jesus to the world. One of the truly powerful directives relative to purity of heart that God has given us is found in Romans 12:2: Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

We renew our minds first by accepting the mind of Christ that we have been given (1Cor. 2:16). It is a free gift of God to every one of His children. But if a gift is never accepted and never opened and used, it is as valueless as no gift at all. If you have never really accepted this gift, then get thee to 1Cor. 2:16, read it, and say “Aha, I have been given the mind of Christ, I’m going to accept that right now!” Then give God thanks for this great Gift, open it up, and stick it in your head.

Now, begins the process of thinking with the mind of Christ, which is pure and clean and fresh before God. But, there’s a rub. The mind of Christ, which you have accepted and want to use, will only think with the things of God, not the concepts, ideas, ideals, facts, etc., of the world (John 5:19l 30). So, time to start getting your RSMMA in order: Read, Study, Meditate, Memorize, and Act on God’s Word. The more of God’s Word that is in you, the easier for the mind of Christ in you to think the way God intends you to think.

One of those verses that should constantly be at your fingertips is Phil. 4:8–For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. How’s that for a God given list of things to think about? Let’s do this. Below are some verses that pertain to each of the items listed in Phil. 4:8. Read them over and reflect on what God is saying to you in these verses.

 

Reverence, Honorable, and Seemly

1. So now let the reverence and fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed what you do, for there is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking of bribes (2Chron. 19:7).

2. Let them confess and praise Your great name, awesome and reverence inspiring! It is holy, and holy is He! (Ps. 99:3).

3. And if you call upon Him as [your] Father Who judges each one impartially according to what he does, [then] you should conduct yourselves with true reverence throughout the time of your temporary residence [on the earth, whether long or short] (1Peter 1:17).

4. His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever (Ps. 111:3).

5. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also [utensils] of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble [use] and some for menial and ignoble [use]. So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work. (2Tim. 2:20-21).

6. Now I say this for your own welfare and profit, not to put [a halter of] restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly and in good order and to secure your undistracted and undivided devotion to the Lord (1Cor. 7:35).

 

 

Pure

1. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits (the thoughts and intents of the heart) (Prov. 16:2).

2. Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love, which springs from a pure heart and a good (clear) conscience and sincere (unfeigned) faith (1Tim 1:5).

3. To the pure [in heart and conscience] all things are pure, but to the defiled and corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are defiled and polluted (Titus 1:15).

 

Lovely and Lovable

1. How lovely are Your tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! (Ps. 84:1)

2. Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God, for He is gracious and lovely; praise is becoming and appropriate (Ps. 147:1).

3. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns!  (Isa. 52:4).

4. Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another (Rom. 12:10).

5But concerning brotherly love [for all other Christians], you have no need to have anyone write you, for you yourselves have been [personally] taught by God to love one another (1Thes. 4:9).

6. By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children and who take their nature from the devil and are his children: no one who does not practice righteousness [who does not conform to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action] is of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother (his fellow believer in Christ) (1John 3:10).

 

Kind and Winsome and Gracious

1. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord! the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth (Ex. 34:6).

2. Now the man Moses was very meek (gentle, kind, and humble) or above all the men on the face of the earth (Num. 12:3).

3. The Lord is long-suffering and slow to anger, and abundant in mercy and loving-kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and fourth generation (Num. 14:18).

4. As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever! (2Cor. 9:9).

5. Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you] (Col. 4:6).

6. The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you (Num. 6:25).

7. Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood—being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it (Heb. 13:2).

 

Virtue and Excellence

1. You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48).

2. For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence) (2Peter 1:5).

3. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your amoral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

 

Worthy of Praise

1. But the centurion replied to Him, Lord, I am not worthy or fit to have You come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant boy will be cured (Matt. 8:8).

2. And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me (Matt. 10:38).

3. But as for that [seed] in the good soil, these are [the people] who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in a just (noble, virtuous) and worthy heart, and steadily bring forth fruit with patience (Luke 8:15).

4. I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God’s service (Eph. 4:1).

5. The saying is sure and true and worthy of full and universal acceptance, that Christ Jesus (the Messiah) came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost (1Tim. 1:15).

That’s more than enough to think about. Get your heart’s attitude in line with God’s. Keep it pure by thinking on those things that God has done and will do for you. Develop a world-view that is based on God’s care and love for us and not on the things that ooze out of the Evil One.

 

People of Promise 61 Beatitudes 5

Mercy is certainly in short supply these days. Movies are based on vengeance, or out and out violence against the innocent. The headlines are saturated with the likes of ISIS atrocities, suicide bombers, the sex trade, brutal shootings that have no meaning, and much more that reflect human depravity and total lack of compassion and mercy. We may not like it, but we should expect it because that’s the way the human mind without God works. To them, mercy is a weakness. But it’s not a weakness in God’s eyes. Jesus made this eminently clear in His fifth Beatitude: Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous— with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy! (Matt. 5:7).

The mercy that Jesus is describing is an interesting trait. It involves a healthy dose of both God-centered forgiveness and Agape love, neither of which is possible without God. It is most interesting that the only phrase that Jesus commented on in the “Lord’s Prayer,” was the one about forgiveness. After giving the disciples this prayer example, He went on to say, For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses (Matt. 6:14, 15).

That’s a rather harsh statement at first glance. Almost a “take it or leave it,” attitude on God’s part, it would seem. Well, first glances can sometimes be right, but other times they can be way off the mark. First, doesn’t it seem odd that we have to forgive others to get God to forgive us? After all, Jesus died on the cross so that we could receive the ultimate forgiveness and become a child of the living God, no string attached. I see no place in scripture where God says we have to forgive everyone that has trespassed against us before we can receive His forgiveness and salvation. That doesn’t even make sense. Neither do I find any place in scripture where God is resentful. Also, why should I have to forgive them instead of God forgiving them? So obviously Jesus is talking about something slightly different.

The word “trespass” comes from the Greek word, paraptoma, par-ap´-to-mah;  which means a side-slip (lapse or deviation), i.e. (unintentional) error or (willful) transgression: — fall, fault, offence, sin, trespass. This is a fault or slip that has somehow caused us offense. And we are to forgive the perpetrator, not the act. So, a better way to think of what Jesus is saying is to insert “can” in the place of “will,” like this: “If you cannot forgive others, God cannot forgive you.” Suddenly, this passage becomes an issue of the heart, and not just an “I forgive you” issue. Words are cheap, mighty cheap in fact, and often filled with half-truths and downright lies. It’s easy to say “I forgive you,” and not mean it in any way shape or form. But God searches the heart. David clearly told Solomon, And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father [have personal knowledge of Him, be acquainted with, and understand Him; appreciate, heed, and cherish Him] and serve Him with a blameless heart and a willing mind. For the Lord searches all hearts and minds and understands all the wanderings of the thoughts. If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him as your first and vital necessity] you will find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever! (1Chr, 28:9).

It is with our heart, our inner person, our spirit, that we must forgive. Yes, our mouths should say “I forgive,” but that must be the truth in our inner being, not just because we are “supposed” to say it. As a child, when someone did something wrong to you, like hit you, your mother may have forced you to say “I forgive you,” after the other child’s mother had forced him/her (certainly under duress) to say “I’m sorry,” or “please forgive me.” I guarantee you (having had such childhood “teachings” from both sides of the equation ) that there was no sorrow in the “I’m sorry,” and no forgiveness in the “I forgive you.” There was only anger and resentment—mostly toward the mother.

God cannot forgive you (bless you) if your heart is hardened and unwilling to release your resentment. His forgiveness cannot replace your resentment. Remember, we are agents of free will. God set that in His Blood Covenant with us (Deut. 30:19, Josh. 24:15). We can tell Him to “get off my back,” and He will. When we choose to be resentful and angry toward others, then that resentment and anger fills up all the places in our hearts (our inner being) where God could put any forgiveness for our trespasses against others. And by the way, that resentment and anger is what constitutes our trespasses against the “others” that have committed “trespasses” against us.

It’s a simple matter of keeping ourselves open to all that He has for us. When we get filled with the things of the world, there’s no room left for the things of God. Don’t hang on to all the “filthy rags” of the world; heave them out and allow the cleansing and healing salve of Jesus’ Blood to wash over you.

Now, let’s take a little trip down the old forgiveness lane and see exactly how to do this. Saying it is one thing, doing it is something totally different.  The key here is to be the king that God made you to be (Rom 5:17, Rev. 5:10), use the name of Jesus as your badge of kingly authority (Col. 3:17), and bring into play your right to bind in your life whatever has been bound in heaven and loose in your life whatever has been loosed in heaven (Matt. 16:19, 18:18). Let’s say you hold something against “X” because they have done something to offend you. Go to God with an honest heart and say something like: “Father, I’m having a hard time with “X.” He/she has done “abc” to me, and I don’t like it. I want to forgive them, but boy it is hard. So, In Jesus Name, the Name above every name, I bind this anger and resentment in Your presence and cast it out. I loose in myself, the fruits of the Holy Spirit to operate in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and self control. Thank you gracious King.”

Then, accept what you have done, and relax in it. But, it isn’t going to go away without a fight. And it might be a rather long one. Long or short, however, it is your job and your responsibility, not God’s, to get rid of it. God doesn’t do this, you do! You do it willfully and you do it purposefully. Stay at it. When the feelings come back, bind them and toss them out and loose the fruits of the Holy Spirit in you once again. Stay at it. You will win if your hang in there and use the authority that God has made available to you.

Now, “mercy” also involves Agape. That is the kind of love that is willing “to give the best you have without regard to the consequences to yourself.” That’s tough. But true forgiveness says that the Agape that God has put in me (Rom. 5:5) must be the dominant force in my life, and I must exhibit it, regardless. Believe me, it takes true Agape to forgive someone and not hold something is reserve against them. After all, there were consequences to you from their actions. You have to shake them off, and get your feet on the right path (Heb. 12:12-13). Again, the only way you can do this is with God’s help and strength (Eph. 1:19-20, Phil. 2:12-13).

The more we exercise our God given right (read “responsibilities”) the easier it becomes to do what God asks, so that He may shine through us and touch the lives of those that don’t know Him. After all, isn’t that what you want?

When we truly extend this God-centered mercy to others, it is flowing from God, through us, to the other person, and one never knows where that can lead them. When mercy flows from us, it also flows to us from the throne of the King. That’s what Jesus is saying in this fifth Beatitude.

 

 

 

 

People of Promise 60 Beatitudes 4

In the Beatitudes, Jesus is describing His Kingdom benefits for those of us living here and now on this earth. True, we live eternally with God when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but what many don’t realize is that this eternity with our Creator begins the very moment we accept what He has to offer. We are not supposed to live out our lives here in desperation, awaiting for death so that we can be with God. No, we are to live out our lives here in the pure joy of our eternal life so that we can help others find their way out of the darkness and into the Light of God’s Love.

And that is the main thrust of the fourth Beatitude. Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied! (Matt. 5:6).

Notice that this Beatitude is one of action on our parts. We have to actively go after righteousness. That is, God will not, in fact cannot, make you His child unless you want to be His child. We have go after it. We have to commit ourselves to God’s headship. We have to look at our life in all truthfulness and admit that it would be better with God in it. We have to admit that we are living outside a relationship with God. When we come to the realization that we are not all we could be, and that we are living apart from our loving Creator, then we can make the leap from self-centered living to Christ-centered living.

Christ-centered does not mean losing our identity. It means gaining a new one, a better one. An identity that is linked to the Lord God Almighty. An identity that gives us all the rights of the Kingdom, and allows us to operate in the fullness of God’s authority and power, for Him. This ownership of rights is called “righteousness.” Said another way, righteousness is having the right to all that God has made available to His children. And that’s a lot.

Furthermore, righteousness means being pure, cleansed of all sin. Now hold up there just a moment. When I use the word “sin” I know it conjures up all sorts of images of killing, rape, theft, cursing, hating, jealousy, etc. But what it really means, at it deepest core, is living outside a relationship with God. The acts that we consider “sins” are acts committed by those living outside a relationship with God, and our abhorrence of them is not an abhorrence of the person, but an abhorrence of the act of sin and it’s deleterious consequences for all involved, the innocent as well as the guilty.

Being a “good” person is not enough. One can be “good,” even a “goody two-shoes,” and still be living outside of a relationship with God.

When one becomes God’s child, one enters into a relationship with God, for eternity. God “cleanses” us of “sin.” That is He lifts us out of a relationship to the Evil One and puts us in a permanent relationship with Himself. We call that the “new birth” we are born out of our old relationship with Satan and into a relationship with God. And in that, we are like new born babies—pure and clean as the driven snow. Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool (Isa. 1:18). And may the Lord make you to increase and excel and overflow in love for one another and for all people, just as we also do for you, So that He may strengthen and confirm and establish your hearts faultlessly pure and unblamable in holiness in the sight of our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) with all His saints (the holy and glorified people of God)! Amen, (so be it)! 1Thes 3:12-13).

This does not mean that “once clean, always clean.” No it means that we start off clean, but we can certainly get dirty. Jesus specifically noted this in the “washing of the feet” (John 13:5-14). Peter jumps up when Jesus tries to wash His feet and Jesus tells Him that he, Peter, is not of His (Jesus’) unless He washes his feet. So, Peter, not really understanding what is going on, and wanting his lion’s share, commands Jesus to wash all of him. Jesus said to him, Anyone who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is clean all over. And you [My disciples] are clean, but not all of you (John 13:10). Jesus washed their feet as a symbol of God’s forgiveness. The feet get in the world and get dusty and dirty. It not necessary to “cleanse” the whole person once again, only the dirty part.

We wash our “feet” of the dirt that we have gotten into by asking God for forgiveness for walking outside our relationship with Him, that is our “sinning.”  When we repent—that is see the error of our ways and turn from it in total disgust, and ask for forgiveness–God does forgive us and purifies us in the Blood of the Lamb (1John 1:9, 7, Rev. 7:14). That is, He brings us back into a full relationship with Him. And that’s the place to be, and the place to operate our life from.

People of Promise 59 Beatitudes 3

The third beatitude or blessing that Jesus pronounces to the crowd on the mountainside is: Blessed (happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous— with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the meek (the mild, patient, long-suffering), for they shall inherit the earth!  (Matt. 5:5). Jesus had just inaugurated His ministry here on earth. He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11), and heard that John the Baptist was imprisoned. He moved to Capernaum, and it was from this city that Jesus began to preach, crying out, Repent (change your mind for the better, heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 4:17).

This is the basis from which Jesus taught, preached, and healed. The Kingdom is at hand, He proclaimed, and then spent the rest of His ministry demonstrating and discussing the Kingdom. The Beatitudes are a straight-forward exposition concerning what the Messiah makes available to those that seek and find Him. In this third Beatitude, He addresses the people about meekness. The Amplified Bible modifies the word “meek” saying that it denotes the mild, patient, long-suffering. But these words need a bit more explaining. First, “meek” does not mean a “milktoast” attitude. It does not suggest that one who is meek is a doormat for others. It does not indicate an introvert, too shy to assert him/her self, and consequently constantly being taken advantage of by others.

Whenever one needs to examine the characteristics that God champions in His children, one needs to have an intense look at God’s only begotten, Christ Jesus. He is the very definition of meekness, patience, and long-suffering. Meekness, as defined by Our Lord and Savior’s life, means recognizing God as Creator and putting Him first, above our own desires. Meekness in this sense is really no different that humbling one’s self under God’s will. Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! (Phil. 2:5-8).

Real meekness is honestly admitting that God is supreme and you want Him to be supreme in your life. This goes beyond the simple act of salvation. It means to say, “My life is Yours, Father, and I want to become everything that You want me to become.” And then it means getting busy and becoming that child that God wants you to be. Read His Word, Study His Word, Meditate His Word, Memorize His Word, Act on His Word. An hour on Sunday morning is not going to cut it. Get busy and dig in, dig deep. Make God’s Word you word.

When we dedicate ourselves to truly learning what God wants us to learn, and then focus on doing what He wants us to do, then we are blessed. This does not mean that B is the result of A. It means that A is also the blessing. That is, the learning and the doing are in themselves the blessing. True meekness, the kind that Jesus displayed, is in and of itself a blessing. Why? Because it positions us in God’s full will, and there is no better place to be, regardless of outside circumstances. When we live our lives with God in first place, we truly can give thanks in all circumstances (1Thes. 5:18).

When we put God first, we are giving back to Him His Agape, which He poured out into us (Rom. 5:5). For the [true] love of God is this: that we do His commands [keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and teaching]. And these orders of His are not irksome (burdensome, oppressive, or grievous). For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith. Who is it that is victorious over [that conquers] the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on that fact]? (1John 5:3-5).

We are told in this third Beatitude that the meek with inherit the earth. Well, I don’t see any meek people inheriting any earth. So obviously, God had more in mind that dirt and rocks. His ultimate purpose for His children is to overcome the things of the world and live in the fullness of God. And when we are truly meek—putting God first—that is exactly what He makes available for us. In fact, Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world. (1John 4:4).

But please note, in order to live in all the fullness that God intends for us to live in we have to operate in the fullness of God’s Word. That’s what Jesus did. Though the meekest of the meek, He never turned away from the Truth. He faced all that Satan could throw at Him squarely, doing exactly what God wanted Him to do, without regard to the consequences to Himself. That can sometimes be a hard row to hoe, but out of it we grow in who we are in Christ, and that is the greatest blessing of all.