Skip to content

Four times in Matthews telling of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us we can expect to be treated in direct relationship to the way we treat others.

The first shows up in the beatitudes. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." (Matthew 5:7 NASB)
The next is in the Lord’s prayer
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:12-15 NASB)
In the next chapter Jesus tells us: “Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2 NASB)
Finally Jesus tells us to live our lives by one simple rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NIV)
Oh and by the way, just for the record, in Luke's gospel it happens that this same principle is true with your time, talent and treasure. "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." Luke 6:38 NASB
What would happen if you actually treated your wife, sister, brother, husband, boss, neighbor, pastor, enemy… the way you want to be treated? What if when someone hurts you, you gave them the same amount of mercy you give yourself when you mess up? Did you get that question? If you are like me, when you screw up you cut yourself a lot of slack. You rationalize a thousand mitigations  and totally excuse yourself. But when others hurt you, will you even listen to their apology?
Many times we find ourselves with no mercy, no forgiveness, and full of judgment especially toward  those closest to us. Those who have paid the highest price of relational time with us get the least consideration and mercy.
God’s kingdom is upside-down, isn't it?
The lengths to which God expects us to go to protect relationships amazes me. But on the other hand God crucified His only son to restore His relationship with us! If I am ever to look like Jesus, I am going to have to put a much higher value on relationship.
What could you do today to improve a relationship that is not where you want it to be? [Tweet This] Ask the Lord for some ideas, if you don’t already know where to start. Even if it is only a baby step toward reconciliation, it will be worth it. Take a deep breath and go for it.
 
Thanks for reading!
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

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousnessMatt 5:6

The next step in God’s 8 step program is to pursue righteousness with the same intensity as a hungry man pursues food, or as one who is parched goes after water. Hear this. It does not promise this blessed life to someone who tries to be good, who pulls themselves up by their boot straps, who just grits their teeth and does what is right.
Rather this one who is hungry to do the right thing. To the hungry, there is no priority higher than food. We all get hungry sometimes. I walked in the house the other day after a long day at the office, and I was starving. I had not had a bite to eat since – oh – it had to be like 2 hours!!!!! Can you imagine my hunger? 2 whole hours without food! I was starving. And when I found out diner was not on the table, well you can just imagine the ruckus that ensued. Hmmm, not really. But I bet you have been there. This is not that hunger. One who is hungry has a determination and seriousness about him in his quest for food. Hunger cannot be ignored.
What if we actually pursued righteousness, sought after it like hidden treasure. What if we searched for opportunities to increase righteousness as though it was good for us, as if it was to our advantage – oh and just for the record it is to our advantage. I am not talking bout some strange self-righteousness that makes us feel superior. No way!. But how about taking your honesty to a new level, or how about the way you do your job, or your homework, or your chores, or duties – all of it. The mark of a Christian in the work place should be unimpeachable integrity. I promise if you will quiet your spirit for a while and mull this over the Lord will show you places to find more opportunities to do right. Don’t you see, as we take our righteousness to the next level, we will be taking our joy to the next level as well.
This passion for righteousness nets us a life joy. The Word tells us this about the life of Jesus that He “…loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” (Heb 1:9) Jesus understood that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17) And no man ever walked in the Spirit to a greater level than Jesus did. Righteousness works itself out in peace and joy. The worst turmoil in a life is when you walk away from righteousness. Trying to cover your sin, or walk the edge between good and bad is death to all joy and peace. When you are seeking after righteousness, there is no shame, no guilt, and no fear, just peace and joy.
Jesus is our righteousness. (1 Corinthians 1:30) So basically, to hunger after righteousness is to hunger for more of Jesus in your life. As we embrace Jesus, His ways, His priorities in our lives, we will walk in this peace and joy. We must put on Christ, and search for His presence in our lives as though our lives depended on it. You will never regret it!


Let's ask the Father this question: Where have you hidden opportunities for integrity in my life? [Tweet ThisLet me know what you hear (if you feel you can share.)
Don’t miss the promise for this one! Come back tomorrow.
Thanks for reading! Tell me where you have found opportunities for increased righteousness.
Ben

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:3 & 10

I know I am getting out of order here. I was just lying in bed – it is about 10 minutes to 12 on Friday night, and I was mulling.
Now let me be clear. I have studied through and taught through the Beatitudes probably more than any other passage in the Bible. It is my favorite by far. I have notes dating back a decade from preparations for this little piece of scripture.
But tonight – closing in on the middle of the night – I am trying to get to sleep, and the phrase “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” is rolling around in my head. This phrase that is calling me to my laptop to put down my thoughts does not even belong in my mind right now. I mean we are right smack in the middle of the beatitudes, and this phrase bookends the passage. I suppose I could wait and release this in a week or so when I get to the end of the passage. But I feel a sense of urgency in my spirit like I need this to go out now.
Here goes:
What if "Their's is the kingdom of heaven,"rather than meaning they gain entrance into the kingdom, as in, the poor in spirit get saved, what if what it means is the poor in spirit and the peacemakers for that matter, get the kingdom of God? What if those who are broken before God are not just given a ticket for St. Peter to punch, but they actually possess the entire kingdom. What if we are not just someday going on a long trip to visit a great place, but we actually have ownership (and not some sad 52nd part like a time share, but we are on the deed) of the kingdom of God.
Isn’t that what Paul was talking about when he said we are joint heirs with Christ? (Rom 8:17) Doesn’t that line up with us being seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus? (Eph 2:6) Isn’t the very fact that the Holy Spirit is in our lives the “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.” (Eph 1:14) Or how about this outrageous bit from Daniel:  "But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it for ever--yes, for ever and ever." (Dan 7:18)
So I have a question for you, Lord. How should this look in my life? What does it mean for me to be in possession of a kingdom? [Tweet ThisAnd not just any kingdom, but a heavenly kingdom!
I dare you to ask God that question. Share what you hear with me and let’s compare notes!
BenThank you for taking time to read this. It actually means a bunch to me.

Ben

 

God’s Upside-down Kingdom - Step 3 

“…for they shall inherit the earth.Matt 5:5
Some Christians are of the opinion that the earth really does not matter. That God is going to destroy it and start over somewhere down the line, and so who wants to inherit something that is going to be “rolled up as a scroll,” and tossed away? What kind of promise is this?
Bad Form! That whole attitude is bad from start to finish. As if somehow God gave us a disposable earth that we should just use up? Not a great attitude. Lets consider a couple things from the word.
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Psalm 24:1, 1 Cor 10:26 & 28)
“…the whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah 6:3
It would appear that the Father places a priority on the earth, and if our Father thinks it is valuable, that needs to factor into our thinking. In fact, we should let God’s values inform all our values, don’t you think?
So what does it mean to inherit the earth? If we think back to our two meek men, Moses and Jesus, there are we see men with a special relationship to creation. Moses (in response to instructions from God) holds out a rod and splits the Red Sea in two and the entire nation of Israel walks through on dry ground! Interesting. In fact each of the ten plagues that torment Egypt come from the throne of God, but through the hands of this meek man.
Jesus, our other example of a man submitted to the will of the Father also lives without the normal earthly limitations. He walks on water, calms raging storms, and feeds multitudes with a boy’s lunch! Again, I understand that these things were done by our Father, and according to Jesus, He did not do these things of His own power or authority, but by the “finger of God.”
I am wondering about my life now. If I submit to the will and voice of our Father in my life, what can I expect? I’ll tell you one thing; it should not be church as usual! I am thinking that as I bow my knee to the Lordship of Jesus in my life, and listen intently for His voice for my direction, I will begin to see the works that He (Jesus) did (see John 14:12) in my life, and even greater works. That may explain what Paul was talking about when he said; “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” Romans 8:19
I implore you to seek the face of the Lord and listen for His voice in your life. Begin to meditate on His Word day and night, and align your life to His word. This is what it means to be meek, and the promise is off the charts!
BenThanks again for reading. Let me know what you think.
Ben

God’s Upside-down Kingdom - Step 3 
Blessed are the meekMatt 5:5
By now, you see a pattern emerging – Jesus is totally confused about what makes people happy. If we are going to believe Him the worse off we are, the happier we should be. If I realize that I am worthless, and that I have offended God at every turn in my miserable life – this is a sure source of happiness for me! God’s kingdom is truly upside-down, and we need to get this if we are ever going to be right side up.
“Meek” will need some explanation. Who are the meek? When (or should I say IF) you hear the word “meek” today it is most likely either an insult, or a low estimation. When I think of a winner, a go-getter, a “get ‘er done” kind of person, I do not think meek. Meek is more likely to conjure up the doormat. You want to come in here – sure thing – just wipe your feet on me, and in you go. Not exactly the stuff legends are made of.
Most of the more recent translations use words like humble or gentle here, and that is not a bad thing, but I think there is a little more to it than might be conveyed with any of these terms. So rather than living with terms that either confuse us, or point us in the wrong direction, I thought I would point us to a couple of guys the Bible describes as meek (or gentle or humble.)
There are 2 men in the scriptures who are specifically described using this word, one in the Old Testament (actually using the Hebrew from which Jesus is quoting) and one in the New.
Meek Man #1 – Moses
I love this because off all the guys you could pick as a meek man, Moses? This is the guy who goes before Pharaoh and demands freedom for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of slaves. This is the man who killed an Egyptian for abusing one of his countrymen. This is the man who somehow convinced the same hundreds of thousands of men to commit to circumcision as adults. This is the man who led those multitudes right up to the shores of the Jordan River. In Numbers 12:2 we read that Moses was the meekest man that ever lived! I need a new definition for meek.
Meek Man #2 - Jesus
Jesus tells us of himself in Matthew 11:29, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” So here is another man among men. Jesus wrecked the status quo at every turn. The religious men hated Him and He would go head to head with them at every turn. He protected the broken and lifted those who were crushed. When I look at the man Jesus, I do not think meek - definitely no doormat here. I really need a new definition for meek.
I believe the key to this character trait is directional. Both Moses and Jesus clearly live with a humility toward the Father. They may stand in fear of no man, but they walk in submission to the voice of God. Moses leaves the known universe of his life on the back of the desert and to take on a roll that would seem crazy to anyone else.
Jesus said of Himself over and over. “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me.” (John 4:34) “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38) “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19)  “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” (John 12:49) Jesus only did the will of the Father, and taught us to pray this same thing. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
There it is. This meekness we are called to is not doormat status, but rather radical complete submission to the will and voice of our Father. [Tweet This] This is the way to a truly blessed life, a life filled with satisfaction in God’s favor regardless of the outward situation.
Let me know what you think. Come back tomorrow to get a look at promise that comes with this one. It will blow your mind.
Ben Nelson
Thanks for stopping in today.
Ben

Blessed are those who mournMatt 5:4

Mourn about what? Is this talking about people who have lost love ones? Are we talking about sad people here? No. We are talking about people who having realized their need for God and now see the sin in their life and repent. But what does it mean to repent – is it just saying I’m sorry? Does is simply mean to change your mind, as it is commonly taught today. No repentance is one of the most basic and most important parts of the Christian life. Without repentance you can never achieve true freedom from sin.
Repentance – a biblical definition from II Corinthians 7:10-11
Sorrow of the world produces death: There are a couple types of sorrow that will kill you. One is self-pity. Feeling sorry for yourself will put you into a downward spiral from which there is no return. Another deadly type of sorrow is that which is born of condemnation. Condemnation comes from the enemy, and it shows up as a general feeling of unworthiness. Condemnation is vague, and depressing.
Godly sorrow which works repentance: In contrast, the Holy Spirit convicts. Conviction is specific and actionable. Conviction always comes with the gift of repentance.
what carefulness it wrought in you: You are careful not to get yourself into situations when you can even be tempted by this sin. Job said he made a covenant with his eyes. Solomon says “Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on.” (Proverbs 4:14-15) In regard to that which you are giving up, this is the way to go – find a way to get around it. Remember also that in 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.
what clearing of yourselves: You get rid of everything that pertains to it – You don’t keep a stash of porn – or a bottle of booze around for when you loose your resolve. You clear the decks.
what indignation: You take offence at anything or anyone that would draw you, or others, into this temptation.
what fear: You have a healthy realization that sin ends in death. Understand, there is a fear that is right – not a terror, but a respect and understanding. The fear of the Lord is probably best defined as an unwillingness to offend God. Not a fear of punishment, but a fear of separation. Remember when Jesus was in the garden, and prayed for deliverance from the cup He was facing. The thing He wanted to avoid was not the physical pain, but the separation He knew He had to suffer.
what vehement desire: Vehement would be a good adjective for a raging forest fire, like those that hit the West Coast in the fall some years. This repentance should bring you to a place of a ferocious desire for purity in this area of conviction.
what zeal: Zealots usually look crazy. We all know someone who is zealous about something. Some people are zealous with their exercise routines, and some with their finances. The ones that make the news are those who are zealous for their religion and blow something up. I met a man who would chain himself to abortion tables, or clinic doors, because he was zealous for the unborn. In the case of repentance – you are ready to be outspoken about the evil of this thing, and you will do what ever you can to dissuade other from taking up this sin.
what revenge! Finally revenge. Your passion leads others from going this way, and so you break the power of sin for you and those around you.
All that being said, true repentance is actually a gift of God according to God’s Word in Acts 5:31 and 2 Timothy 2:25. God only gives gifts He intends for you to use, and they are powerful. When you repent in this way, God's intention, and promise is that you can be free from the sin He has brought to your attention.
So, how do I know if I have been given repentance? You will know if you sense conviction. Conviction is a specific realization that something you have done has offended God. Not some vague condemnation that you are not good enough, but you know that you know that what you did is wrong. If you have been given repentance, that means God will also give you the freedom from that sin in the future. True repentance can set you free from sin, as God leads you through the process listed above.
for they shall be comforted.– Comfort is a misunderstood commodity.
Often when we think of comfort we think of someone patting us on the knee and saying, “there, there, it will all work out alright.” So when we think of the Holy Spirit, our “comforter” that is what we are thinking. That the job of the Spirit of the living God is to whisper platitudes to us when we are feeling sorry for ourselves. That could not be further from the truth.
The word comfort is the same word used to describe the Holy Spirit, Comforter. It means one who comes beside to give strength and help in time of need. It looks nothing like that “poor baby” picture we can easily conjure up. I heard a preacher say once that the idea was that of a tug boat coming along side a huge ship to guide it through tricky waters. The Tug though small is very powerful, and has complete expertise in navigating the tricky waters ahead.

So then, those who mourn over their sins will find that the Holy Spirit comes along side, and gives them the strength and direction they need to walk out true repentance. There is a comfort and confidence that comes from victory over sin.
Are you feeling blessed yet? Come back tomorrow for step 3!

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you think!

Ben

Blessedare the poor in spirit”   Matt 5:3

Whoare these poor in spirit? They are the ones who realize that before God, theyhave nothing to offer. Without God they bring nothing to the table. They have no hope for any future if God does not take their part.
InPs 51 David, (God’s favorite) in his prayer of repentance for his failing with Bathsheba, states, “A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” (Ps 51:17 NASB)
InJames 4:6 the, James says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Thepoor in spirit are those who see their need for redemption. Without this sense you will never get right with God. It is a wonderful thing to grow up in a Christian family. You have a chance to live a good life and never make thosehuge mistakes that hurt so badly, and cost so dearly. However, there is adanger of becoming familiar with the Holy, and missing the fact that you need asavior. This was my testimony. I was born and raised in a church setting forall my growing up years, but never got serious about God until at age 25 whenthe Holy Spirit opened my eyes to my own sin and my need for a savior. Itchanged my life. I was no longer a good enough to get by church kid. I was onset on fire for God.
fortheirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  
Thereis no other way into the kingdom of heaven save a broken and contrite heart.You cannot be born in, you cannot be raised in, and you cannot memorize enough scripture, or pray enough prayers. It is not even about believing the rightfacts about Jesus. You can believe that Jesus is the Son of God and still diein your sin. You can believe that He died on the cross for your sin and neverknow the life He offers. You can believe that He rose from the dead and stilldie and go to an eternal hell.
Untilyou see your own spiritual deadness, and take hold of Jesus as your Lord, Master, King and Boss you cannot enter into His kingdom. He is the only way. It is not about believing the right facts, or praying the magic words. It is about exchanging your life for His.
Hey, thanks for reading today!

Comeback soon

Ben

%d bloggers like this: