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Path

I was wondering through Psalm 85 this morning and ran in to this:

Righteousness will go before Him And will make His footsteps into a way. - Psalm 85:13

God takes on flesh, and takes a thirty-three year walk leaving His heavenly home. The Word of God which had for centuries been the way, steps out of the infinite and into a man suit.

The perfect blend of lovingkindness and truth – the lover’s kiss of righteousness and peace (Psalm 85:10 paraphrase.) [Tweet This]

He walks a path – a straight and narrow path – directly from a manger – to a cross – then back to the Father’s side.

This path he walked – His footsteps as the psalmist promised (I like the sound of that) – became a way – The Way.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." - John 14:6

And today He invites us to walk in that way.

  1. Humbled – born in a manger.

    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:3

  2. Crucified

    I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. - Galatians 2:20

    Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? - Romans 6:3

  3. Reunited – Reconciled.

    Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, - 2 Corinthians 5:18

 

Today – let’s go for a walk together.

the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. - 1 John 2:6

Will you follow Him with me today?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon

Ben

Matthew 5:3
Blessed... 

I want to share with you something off the charts about the word “Blessed.” We toss this word around pretty carelessly. If someone sneezes we say “Bless you!” or if we are real spiritual we might say “Ga bless you!” But this Greek word “Blessed” is pregnant with meaning. If you read the beatitudes in the Amplified Bible you will see the word “Blessed” rendered 14 different ways in these 8 statements. 

  • Happy
  • Blessed
  • To be envied
  • Spiritually prosperous
  • With life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions
  • Enviably happy
  • With a happiness produced by the experience of God's favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace
  • Blithesome (who knows what that means in this day and age – but you get the idea.)
  • Joyous 
  • Fortunate
  • In that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation   
  • Enviably fortunate
  • 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.  
  • Enjoying enviable happiness.
  • 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.
 Blessing holds Assignment, Ability, and Authority [Tweet ThisFar from being a wish for good luck, a blessing has in it vision, authority and power. We treat our words very lightly these days, and can blow off the power of our words. God spoke the worlds into being and we make off handed comments that hurt others, or destroy our own confidence. Consider the power of blessing:
Creation:  
And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. ~ Gen 1:28-31 
Notice that after He created, He blessed man. This blessing holds in it His expectation for man. “Be fruitfuland multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it.” It is both blessing and commission or command! But God never expects from us that which is too much for us. He never puts on us burdens we cannot bear.
God’s blessing acts as an assignment or commission. When God gives an assignment is it much more than an errand to run. Think about Nehemiah. When the king sent him to rebuild the walls of the city, the king gave him his blessing and assigned to him the resources, and authority to complete the mission.
God’s blessings grant authority. When God told Adam to subdue the earth, God was telling Adam that he had the authority to rule the earth, all creations was in subjection to Adam at that point. God had given him the authority to rule.
God’s blessing reveals ability. It would be unreasonable for God to expect us to subdue the earth if we did not have the capacity. This blessing not only tells us we are called to do this thing, but that He stands behind us and will back us up with power. Adam could fulfill all that God blessed him to do.
As we read the Beatitudes, we will see God’s plan for us – we will receive assignment, authority and ability to be what He calls us to be. What follows is a path leading from man on the street to son or daughter of the King, exercising authority and ability carrying out His assignment.
Ben NelsonThanks for reading.
Come back soon!
Ben

photo credit: Pop Culture Geek via photopin cc
photo credit: Pop Culture Geek via photopin cc     

As we tie up our time in the Sermon on the Mount, I want to take two giant steps back and notice a couple of things from the top down.

Back in chapter 4 there was a bit of foreshadowing about Jesus’ preaching;

And Jesus was going about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. ~ Matthew 4:23

Then Jesus began teaching with:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:3

As He closes this wonderful teaching He says:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; ~ Matthew 7:21

This gospel, good news, that Jesus brought is all about the kingdom of heaven. So what is this kingdom?

When Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven, He is not simply talking about you getting through the pearly gates. He is talking about the government of your life.

When I step back and see this sermon declaring the good news of the kingdom of heaven, I see a description of a life under the reign of a King, not just a future in a mansion taking harp lessons.

This life is marked by humility, giving, caring for others, letting go of rights, and generally living a selfless life. Jesus takes the priorities that our world presses upon us, and turns them upside down.

And this is expressed perfectly in our bookends. Those who are entering the kingdom – demonstrating their allegiance to the reign of Christ in their life, are poor in spirit. Those who are denied entry actually stand before the one they called Savior and say “What about ME!”

Any attempt to enter the kingdom, or should I say, any delusion of being a Christian, that is centered on self, is just that – delusion.

Do you remember Paul’s heart?

For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, ~ Romans 9:3

These we see at the gate of heaven as it were, cared for nothing but their own access to heaven. Paul, a good picture of transformed man, is more interested in the souls of others that of himself.

You see, it is a kingdom of love, agape love, self-sacrificing love. Love that is willing to lay down it’s own rights, priorities, dreams, hopes, and even calling to serve the one who gave up heaven and took up hell for … well … you and me.

The big reason those folks are on the outside looking in, is that they always have been on the outside looking in. Even the wonderful works they do in the name of Jesus don’t change who is boss, master, ruler of their life.

Even standing before Jesus in His glory their hearts are crying out “what about me?”

How is it with you today, friend? Is it about you?

If so, simply ask the Lord to give you a new heart and to remove the stony heart, that monument erected to you in your chest, and replace it with a heart of flesh that beats for others, that beats for Him. [Tweet This]

BenThanks for coming by today

See you again soon.

Ben

My new friend Graeme from down under wrote a great post about how to be blessed today.

Q241 "how do I get blessings?".

It pairs nicely with my very first post for "Another Red Letter Day"

"The 3 "A"s of Blessing"

While you are at it you might want to check out more of his blog. For 2012 he is answering 365 questions. I am been blessed many days by his posts.

Thanks for stopping by.

Ben

In Luke 6 Jesus preaches a sermon very similar to the sermon on the mount. It may be the same sermon from a different man’s point of view, or it may be that Jesus preached this content a number of times.
In any case there is something very interesting about Luke’s account. As with much of Luke’s gospel there is an edge to Jesus' words that is not always present in some of the other accounts.
When Jesus gives the Beatitudes in Luke, He first pronounces blessing, and then the turns them around. Here he says “Woe to you…”
So today, I am going to take the liberty of turning Matthew’s beatitudes around. I know this is not scripture, but it makes an impact on me when I think about these things.
Woe unto those who are the rich in spirit, for they have no part in the kingdom of heaven.
Woe unto those who do not mourn over sin, for they shall receive torment.
Woe unto those who will not submit to the will of God, for they shall inherit eternal destruction.
Woe unto those who hunger and thirst for wickedness, for they shall never be satisfied.
Woe unto those who are unmerciful, for they shall receive no mercy.
Woe unto those with impure in hearts, for they shall never see God.
Woe unto those who are troublemakers, for they shall be called sons of the devil.
Woe unto those who have persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for they will never see the kingdom of heaven.
And as Jesus himself gave this last one “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)
BenI hope this impacts you as much as it impacts me. Do you think this goes too far? I don't, but let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading.
Ben

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

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 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

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 be completely satisfied. (Matthew 5:6 AMP)

Wait – Wait – Wait This can’t be right. Do you believe this? Is it true? Or is Jesus telling us a little white lie to try to motivate us to be good. Does true satisfaction really come from the pursuit of righteousness?

All our lives we are told that the best way to enjoy life is to live on the edge, to walk the fine line between good and bad. This is nothing new either. Generation after generation, it takes different forms, but we live surrounded by the message that a little compromise and a touch of naughty will bring a little joy into our lives.

The American culture teaches us that when someone is stressed, or grumpy, they just need a little sex and they will relax a bit. When someone has a hard day they need a drink to take the edge off. If you have to meet a budget, a little lying or cheating will go a long way to solving your problems. Satisfaction is just a compromise away.
It’s a lie! And it has worked for thousands of years. In fact the serpent used this same lie to trick Eve in the garden. God is keeping the best away from you. He wants you to go through life missing out on all the fun, and always frustrated.

This same serpent is the thief that Jesus tells us has come to “steal and kill and destroy.” His lies have separated us from satisfaction and in fact have left us unsatisfied and distracted from the source of true happiness. How could we be so foolish as to believe this liar! Jesus promised us “abundant life,” not average, boring, prudish or disappointing life.

Here is the thing. As I sit here writing this, God is bringing to my mind stuff that needs to be done with more integrity in my life. He is asking me if I believe Him, or if I am going to keep on living a compromised, unsatisfied life.
Now you decide, is Jesus telling us the truth? Is it true that complete satisfaction comes from pursuing righteousness? Or is this religious speak intended to manipulate the masses into obedience. Is there actually blessing, happiness and joy in living your life for God? If what Jesus says is true, aren't we effectively robbing God of that which He purchased when we live in compromise? 
Can you quiet yourself and listen for the voice of God as you read this. If you don’t have time right now, plan some time to mull, to consider. If you are like me, right now you are saying, oh, sister so-and-so could use this, or brother what’s-his-name could sure use some integrity. Yep, I thought about brother what’s-his-name, I admit it. But you need God’s voice in your life today, and so do I. Get quiet and ask Him this: Am I stealing myself back from You by my lack of integrity? (ouch) [Tweet This]

Hey, thanks for reading today. Please let me know if this is making a difference in your life.

Ben

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