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Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt 5:12)

As we come to the end of this beginning (the Beatitudes) we see clearly the upside-down nature of the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us that the proper reaction to persecution, insults, and harm done to us in His name is rejoicing!
I feel like – OK Lord, it is one thing for me to expect it, and be prepared for it, but rejoice? WOW – HOW!
As I mull this, I think how did Jesus demonstrate this? Hebrews 12:2 (I know, I know, I have used this one in my blog before – your thinking this guy only knows like 8 verses – probably so)

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2 NASB)

It says He endured the cross with His eye on the prize, and that is what He tells us to do. Rejoice because of the “Great Reward.” Let’s think about this a bit.
Somehow Christians have in their collective heads (ok – that may be a broad brush stroke - forgive me please) that spiritual pursuits cannot be reward driven. Like somehow if we are doing something with a reward in view, it is unspiritual at best, or at worst sin and selfishness. Not so!
Think about this for a minute. Why were the disciples always arguing about who would be the greatest? Was it just testosterone driven machismo? Or could it be that Jesus often taught about how to be great. He would says stuff like “He who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven…” or “…your reward in heaven is great.” It may seem paradoxical, but Jesus actually encourages us to strive for greatness, as He defines greatness. That definition is for another post.
Have you read what David said, before he decided to go after that Philistine Champion Goliath. He asked, “What do I get if take this bozo down? No more taxes and a beautiful wife! I’m in!” (my paraphrase)
So why is it OK – wait – let me fix that – why is it imperative for a Christian to pursue reward? Think of the snapshots we get of heaven. What is going on? People, saints, God’s children, assemble before His throne, and those who have received rewards have the privilege of presenting those rewards to the Lord. The more you have received from Him, the more you can give back.
So what will you have to present to the Lord? If you sit back and fall through your life, you will have nothing to present to your King. We pursue spiritual reward so that we have a tangible way to honor our King when we stand before Him. This is the stuff that will make it through the fire. This is the stuff that you can take with you!
Excellence in your walk before the Lord will net you persecution, but with that is great reward.
Thank you for visiting today. I appreciate you taking your time to read my ponderings.
Ben

A few weeks ago I posted a blog called “Where was Jesus in your worst moment?” I thought it was a pretty valuable piece, and I have thought back on it a number of times.
Today, I was listening to a brand new podcast called “Jesus Culture Leadership Podcast.” Check it out. It is really excellent.
Banning Liebscher interviews the worship leader Matt Redman. They highlighted a song from his CD "10,000 Reasons" called “Never Once” and as I listened, it reminded me of this blog post, and complimented it nicely.
Here is my recommendation






Have a great day.
Thanks for stopping in today.
Ben

What does the Love of God look like?
I can trust my Father because He has my best interest in mind at all times. He loves me. What does it mean to love? Many of us know that there are a few Greek words for love, but the one used most often to describe the Father’s love for us is Agape. The best definition I know for this kind of love is this. Love does whatever is in its power to bring about the best for its object. Notice I did not say give the object of my love what they want, but what is best for them. The fuller the love, the higher the expenditure of resources involved. What I mean to say is this. If I love you a little, I will expend some of my uncommitted time or energy to see that you are benefited. I will consider what I see as the best outcome for you, and put some of my free resources to work for you. That may be time, money, talent, what ever.
If there is a deeper love (agape) commitment, there will be a higher level of involvement on my part. I will be more focused on what would be best for you, and expend more effort seeing it through.
Now let’s just say I am the One who created you (as well as everything else) and love you unconditionally, with a love that never fails - a love that is stronger than death - a love that can not be separated from Me by anything, created or uncreated - and I know you better than you know yourself, and I understand all possible outcomes of your life. My resources are limitless, and are completely at My disposal to bring about the best outcome for your life.
That is how Your Father loves you.
Thanks for reading my Saturday special
Come back soon.
Ben

Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.” (Matt 5:11)

When I read this I think, didn’t we just talk about persecution, why is Jesus repeating Himself? Since Jesus is doing it again, I am drawn to the difference or as they say in France “vive la différence” (though they are probably thinking of something else entirely.)
So what is different? Actually there are a number of things that set this apart. Lets look at a few.
  • ·      Blessed are YOU… This is so personal. Jesus has been addressing the group and talking more or less 3rd person. Blessed is this guy and blessed is the one who is like this or does that. Now He says YOU are blessed! One thing I love about Jesus is how personal He was with those He touched. Obviously, as we have been reading, He preaches to crowds, but much of the time He deals with individuals. I think of Peter and his tax question – Jesus was like, take some money out of my ATM (Automatic Tilapia Mouth) and pay the taxes for YOU and me. I love that!!!! Or how about when He looks on the rich young man with compassion, and tells him exactly what he needs to hear in order to break the power of the enemy in his life.
  • ·      …when men… This is not about your character, but actions taken against you. Every other one of these items are issues of character and your reaction to life. This, on the other hand, is about men attacking you.
  • ·      …on account of Me. This is not even your fault. These things are happening to you completely because Jesus has changed your life.

 

Jesus does not seem to have a clue about self-help systems. Doesn’t he understand that nobody wants a system of steps that take you from a vaguely guilty conscience to life on the receiving end of insults, accusations, and if you are really good at it, maybe even stones. Or does He?
What I hear is this “I am with you in this. I know what YOU are going through, and you are not alone.” We have left off principles and promises, and now we see Christ in You – specifically – no generalities, no group think here. I hear Jesus speak directly to me – I, Jesus, your master, your friend, your husband, I will personally bless you, Benjamin, when people mock you, or bad mouth you, or lie about you, or think you’re an idiot because you are walking in these things.
Jesus is saying, the abuse you are receiving is because of the stand you are taking for me, and I am taking personal responsibility for your blessing as well. Such great assurance!
Know this, whatever the cost to follow Jesus, He is in it with you personally every step of the way. Remember He says, “As much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” (For more on this check my blog on the subject.)
Have you known this personal touch of the Lord in your life? Perhaps you have heard His voice of comfort or direction at a key time in your life. Share it with us please <smile>.

Thanks for stopping in today.

Ben

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:10)

Welcome to following Jesus, now die! What a crazy way to climax this amazing set of character builders.
Just for fun, did you notice that we have had 7 Beatitudes before this? 7 is God’s perfect number, the number of completion. God rested on the 7thday because He was done, not because He was tired.

So why do the beatitudes keep going?

Well, I think the first 7 of these steps on God’s stairway to heaven are pretty complete. (See my comments in What Peace?)
I feel like Jesus is saying “Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life! I died for you, now you get to die to yourself, every day!”
It is important to know that Jesus promises persecution to Christians. There are a number of references, but my favorite is probably “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” (John 16:2 NASB) Did you hear that – Jesus said they would throw you out of church, and the guy who kills you will think he is doing God a favor. (kind of reminds me of a guy named Saul of Tarsus)
OK, so I have a question for you. What does it mean if you never feel any persecution? [Tweet This] Is this a cultural thing that no longer is in effect? Is this statement just idle words? Is Jesus just prepping the few who will get in big trouble for His name’s sake, and we don’t take the heat because we live in “Christian” America?
Nope, that’s not it. If you don’t ever feel any persecution, you might want to go back over the steps. Make sure you have not jumped to the conclusion that you are a Christian, because of some outside factor. You can only become a Christian, by being changed from the inside out. Jesus said the He and His Father would come and take up residence in you. 
Today, the point I am making is that persecution is not a something unlucky Christians face, but rather it is evidence that Christ is living in you. And let me be clear, No Christ inside – No kingdom of heaven!
These words might seem a little harsh today, but don’t be offended by me being obnoxious. If it is God word that offends you, I beg you, go back to step one – humble yourselves before the hand of Almighty God! Do it today. Ask Him if you are His. Don’t wait – do it now.
Thanks for reading this my friends.
I remain, Ben
Hey – if you are curious about the Kingdom of God check out my post from a couple weeks ago on the topic called "Kingdom".

they will be called the sons of God. (Matt 5:9)
OK – now that is a big promise! Peacemakers will be called the sons of God. Interesting since the one and only begotten Son of God is called the Prince of Peace.
This promise raises a couple of questions for me.
First, who is doing the calling? Who will call us the sons of God? And this one gets 3 answers.
  • Those outside the family will be inclined to say “these have been with Jesus,” or perhaps “you must be one of them.”
  • Those inside the family will see the family resemblance, and welcome us in with open arms.
  • But the best and most significant is the Father who has called us, has called us His sons!
My next question is: What does it mean to be a son of God?
Romans 8 does a great job of describing this.
We call Him “Abba” which is akin to Papa in my understanding.
We share in Christ’s inheritance. And the Word does not imply that we get a share, but rather that we share – Joint heirs! In Christ we inherit all things. Ephesians 1 tells us we already have every spiritual blessing, and again in Romans 8 we find that He who did not spare His only Son will withhold nothing from us.
It is a big deal to be a son of God! I suggest you ponder for a while what it would be like in the natural to be the prince of a wealthy nation. What are the privileges and what are the responsibilities. What would it mean to be the prince? What does it mean to be a Son of God? What are the privileges and responsibilities?
BenThanks for reading
Ben

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.(Matt 5:9 – NASB)

The word “Peacemaker” interests me in that it only appears one time in all of the Greek New Testament. It is made up of (you guessed it) 2 root words. There are those who say it means to be a peace lover, or pacific or peaceful person, but the majority fall to the side of a more active idea. This peacemaker is not an appeaser, not one who avoids conflict. Rather one who makes peace is one who actively does what is necessary to end conflict. I really like the definition for the “maker” part of the word. Check out this excerpt from the BlueLetterBible.org:
I love this because it is such a call to action. We cannot sit passively by and hope for peace. Peace is produced – it is made –it is the product of peacemaking activity! Let me say that one more time: Peace is the product of peacemaking activity! [Tweet This]
Again, as we covered in Friday's post, “What Peace?” we are talking about the peace that passes understanding from reconciliation with the Father. When you enter into this peace you immediately have an active roll in helping others find the way to this peace. If you are a Christian, if you call Jesus Lord, and live with the expectation of a place prepared for you beyond the grave, you are called to be a peacemaker.
Peacemaking starts with praying for those with whom we have some influence. God will make clear paths for you to step into, in order to help others find peace in their life, and more importantly peace with the Father.
Start today – Ask the Lord for the who and the how, and you will be amazed at the opportunities you see. Tell me about them! I can’t wait to hear what God has done with your submitted life!
Thanks for reading.
Ben

photo credit: Swami Stream via photopin cc

There are times when I hear folks talk about suffering they are dealing with, and talk as though it was a gift from Jesus for them to struggle with in this life. I hear people talk about diseases this way, and financial problems, bad jobs, even bad marriages. As if Jesus tricked you into marrying the wrong man to help you mature. Hmmm. Is this what Jesus was talking about when He promised us trouble in this life?
Let’s just look at a couple verses. I won’t even comment much today, I just want to put some Scripture out there and let them do the talking. (ok I might just do a little highlighting along the way so you don’t miss the point.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt 5:10-12

They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. (John 16:2)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “FOR THY SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have beenon frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have beenin labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)

Boy – it did me good just to read though all that scripture – How about you?
Well – all that is to say, the suffering God promises is the stuff that will be done to us by men. God promise stands sure, He will not leave us or forsake us, but He is not trying to crush us either – that would be our enemy. God is our comfort and strength, a very present help in trouble, not a very present cause of trouble.
Tell me what you think. Comment on the post or on facebook if you get stirred up reading these scriptures.
Thanks for coming today.
I remain, Ben.

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

(Matt 5:9 – NASB)
Today I would like to focus on this idea of peace. What peace is Jesus referring to? Is it simply tranquility, or the cessation of hostility? Is it some sort of détente like we had with the former USSR when they could no longer afford to maintain a cold war?
Consider what the father of John the Baptist said upon the birth of this man of God.
“Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79 NKJV)
And again in the next chapter in regard to Jesus Himself: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)
The peace we are talking about here is the peace that Jesus offers, the ending of hostilities between God and man. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that the mind set on the flesh is actively hostile toward God. This war ends not when God ignores our sin, but when we surrender our lives to him.
With the coming of the Prince of Peace, Jesus, we can finally put down the weapons of our warfare against God: our hate, our rebellion, our self-righteousness, and we can take up the cause of Christ. We can become peacemakers – those who work to bring this same peace to others.
Once you know the peace that Jesus offers, you will never be content to sit by and let those around you wage useless war against the Lord of Hosts.
If you don’t know this peace for yourself, you can find it today. Call upon the name of Jesus. These beatitudes we have been looking at paint a great picture of the way to enter a relationship with Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Talk to Jesus about it. (He can hear you wherever you are)
  • Admit your own poverty of spirit, and that you need God.
  • Confess and forsake all your sin. Tell Him about every sin you can remember doing, and ask Him for forgiveness.
  • Meekly submit your will – your desires, your plans – to Him.
  • Pursue righteousness and integrity in everything you do, again with His help.
  • Offer mercy and forgiveness to those who owe you or have hurt you.
  • Ask Jesus to purify your heart, and press into more and more purity, by meditating on His word. You are made clean through the God's Word, The Bible.
  • Then you will become a peacemaker too, and you experince His peace, you will want to draw others to His side as well.
Ben NelsonThanks for reading. If you have talked to Jesus about these things, tell me about it. You can message me on face book, or comment here, or tell a Christian you know. Get plugged into a church, and begin to live in His word the Bible. We live by the daily bread of His voice.
Ben

for they shall see God” (Matt 5:8)

Now in my last post I equated this promise for the most part to us going into the presence of God. Pure hearts allowed us to come close to Him. But today I want to suggest the other side of this coin.
Here is a question for you to ponder? When Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. Why? Was it to let man in, or the let God out? Surely we are told more than once in Hebrews to approach the throne of God, so clearly God intends for us to see our way clear to access His domain. But I think for centuries, men have been satisfied with a religion that told them exactly where to find God at all times, but now we have a God on the loose!
What I am getting at is that not only can the pure in heart approach the throne of God; I believe the pure in heart will see God show up in day to day life.Where we go, He is sure to follow (well, lead might be a better word). He will be in the workplace and schoolroom with us. When we pray for our family members, co-workers, classmates, employees and employers, God will show up and confirm His Word with signs following.
This is where I really get turned on. It is one thing for me to begin to look more spiritual, and walk through like a great saint. But when God starts walking through my life with me in tangible ways, that is real Christianity, the kind of Christianity that Christ died for. [Tweet This]
Thanks for reading today.
Ben
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