Everything Jesus Said or Did during His Earthly Ministry: Part 12

Matthew 5:6 (AMPC)

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!

 

My thoughts:

Not only is this a key to happiness, but I think it is also a great test for our relationship with Christ. What are we looking for in our Christianity? What is our ultimate desire? Is it to escape hell? Is it to go to heaven? Is it to receive blessings here on earth? While none of those things are wrong, and they may lead us to Christ, if we have sincerely repented, and are born-again, they should not be our greatest desire. We must hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Righteousness does not just mean to be a morally good person. It really has more to do with our relationship with God. Do we want what He wants? Do we love Him because of what He has done for us on the Cross? Do we want to become more like Him? Although we fail and fall short, do we want to be better?

Sadly, many look at Christianity as a means to something else. While it may lead to other things, our focus and ultimate goal should be Christ. Not just what He can give, but also Who He Is. Is our greatest desire to know Him and be like Him? If not, we need to repent and ask Him to change our hearts. If yes, it may be a slow process, but every step closer to Him will be filled with joy.

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Everything Jesus Said or Did during His Earthly Ministry: Part 11

Matthew 5:5 (AMPC)

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!

 

My thoughts:

Meekness and humility are often confused. They are similar, but I would argue that humility is more about one’s attitude towards God and oneself, while meekness is one’s attitude towards others.

In our fast-paced society, we want results, and we want results now! We are taught that if you want to be a good leader, you must be aggressive. If you want success, you must be tough. Your coworkers and friends are just tools you use to climb up the social ladder. The most important thing in life is achieving your goals and you should be willing to do whatever it takes to do so. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and you have to be the baddest wolf of all if you want to reach the top.

However, Jesus tells us that success comes from being gentle and patient. A good leader does not always have to be the one in charge in order to be a good influence. A good leader does not have to push others down in order to reach the top. A good leader does not have to manipulate others in order to get their help. A good leader cares more about people than profits or prestige. A good leader does not feel the need to constantly react. A good leader does not feel the need to constantly defend himself/herself. A good leader can find contentment and satisfaction in Jesus in whatever condition they are in. A good leader’s legacy is more about how they inspired people to behave than what they inspired people to obtain.

There’s nothing wrong with having goals and there are certain times we must be a little aggressive and show tough love. I’m not saying we should be total pushovers and let people walk all over us. However, our ultimate goal should always be to represent Christ. At the end of your life, it will not matter how much money you had. It will not matter what position you had. What will matter is how you got there and how it influenced others.

Everything Jesus Said or Did during His Earthly Ministry: Part 10

Matthew 5:4 (AMPC)

Blessed and enviably happy [with a happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace] are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!

 

My thoughts:

We sometimes think of happiness and sadness as opposites. We avoid negativity and painful memories and try to focus on the positive, uplifting thoughts. However, there is a difference between denying the bad and moving past it. The truth will set us free, but a lot of the truth is sadly negative.

We were all born sinners. We all live in a fallen world. It is not difficult to find the evidence of this everywhere we look. I’m not being cynical. I’m being honest. The problem is we either try to ignore these issues, fix them in unscriptural ways, or we succumb to the darkness.

It takes being honest about our problems before we can find the proper solution. We must admit we are sinners before we can understand our need for the Savior. There are times we find relief through tears on a physical level, but mourning is about more than just crying. It is a deep conviction of what we are and what we need on a spiritual level. We are sinners and we need Jesus. In this world there is tribulation, persecution, and just plain evil behavior. But He has overcome the world.

“O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

Trust, Love, and Forgiveness

Giving your trust to a highly manipulative/emotionally abusive person is like giving a gun to a hitman or a bottle of beer to an alcoholic. Not only is it dangerous, but it’s also irresponsible.

Unconditional love does not mean allowing people to do whatever they want without consequences. It means continuing to pray for them and desiring the best for them despite what they have done. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for a person is to stop enabling their bad behavior and allow them to face the consequences of their actions.

Forgiveness, in the case of the unrepentant, does not mean pretending nothing ever happened. It means letting go of your anger and desire for revenge. It’s okay and sometimes necessary to be angry for a time, but if you hold onto it too long, it will ruin your life. There’s nothing wrong with wanting justice, but we must leave the punishment up to God.

Love is free. Forgiveness is free. Trust must be earned.

Matthew 5:44 (AMPC)

44 But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Matthew 6:15 (AMPC)

15 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.

Matthew 7:6 (AMPC)

Do not give that which is holy (the sacred thing) to the dogs, and do not throw your pearls before hogs, lest they trample upon them with their feet and turn and tear you in pieces

 

Everything Jesus Said or Did during His Earthly Ministry: Part Nine

Matthew 5:1-3 (AMPC)

Seeing the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and when He was seated, His disciples came to Him.

Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

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 poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!

 

My thoughts:

The Pursuit of Happiness. Deep down that is what we are all really searching for: happiness. Numerous wars have been fought. Numerous books have been written. Numerous advancements in technology have been made. And it is all with the goal of trying to make life better or more enjoyable for someone. Sadly, it is usually at the cost of someone else’s happiness. And whatever joy we do obtain is always temporary.

The keys to long-lasting happiness have been given to us for thousands of years. The problem is we have either forgotten them or do not believe them.

The world often tells us we need material objects, self-confidence, and accomplishments to be happy. However, Jesus tells us we need humility.

Humility can be a confusing thing to understand. It is the opposite of pride, but not the opposite of confidence. There are those who think humility is just being modest or self-deprecating. However, I would argue those who downplay their achievements or who are constantly putting themselves down are actually displaying pride. It is just as bad as those who exaggerate their accomplishments and are always patting themselves on the back. Their focus, whether they are covering up their good qualities or putting them on a pedestal, is on themselves instead of their Maker.

True humility, and true confidence, is not denying our good qualities, but recognizing where they come from. We don’t need self-confidence; we need God-confidence. We can be confident because we can trust that He will provide whatever we need to do whatever He asks.

Whatever is good about me was created by God. Without Him I would be dust. Not even dust, for He created the dust as well. Without Him I am nothing. All good things were created by Him. All good deeds are accomplished through His Power. He deserves all the glory! How incredibly blessed I am that He would share His Goodness with me! Not because of anything I could do, but simply because He chose to create me! And though His creation has been marred by the fall, His greatest desire is to bring me back to the state of glory He always intended for me, if I would just trust Him!

7/5/18

Just because we agree with someone on a particular subject does not mean we are obligated to agree with everything they say. Nor does it mean we must do everything they ask. Likewise, just because we disagree with someone does not mean we have nothing to learn from them.

There is a tendency for us to idolize those we agree with and demonize those we disagree with. However, I think it is important to realize that we are all on a journey of discovering the truth and we all progress in different areas at different rates. I think the most dangerous people are those who think they have all the answers and who think they are never wrong.

Jesus is always the answer. Yet, as I have been researching Jesus and His Earthly Ministry, I have found that He did not always give the same exact instructions to everyone.

No matter how similar our experiences might be, they are never exactly the same. It is dangerous to blindly accept everything someone says just because they have given good advice in the past, are older, more experienced, or seem wiser than us. It is also dangerous to blindly reject everything someone says just because they have given bad advice in the past, are younger, less experienced, or seem more foolish than us.

We have much we can learn from others. Yet, it is only as we look to Christ, and are being led by His Spirit, that we can learn to properly discern the good from the bad and that we can learn how to apply their wisdom and advice to the specifics of our own lives.

Similarly, we have much we can teach others. Yet, it is always best that we let them come to their own conclusions and act on their own convictions, instead of manipulating them into doing what we say.

Matthew 16:17 (AMPC)

17 Then Jesus answered him, Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are you, Simon Bar-Jonah. For flesh and blood [men] have not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven.

Everything Jesus Said or Did during His Earthly Ministry: Part Eight

Matthew 4:23-25 (AMPC)

23 And He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news (Gospel) of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every weakness and infirmity among the people.

24 So the report of Him spread throughout all Syria, and they brought Him all who were sick, those afflicted with various diseases and torments, those under the power of demons, and epileptics, and paralyzed people, and He healed them.

25 And great crowds joined and accompanied Him about, coming from Galilee and Decapolis [the district of the ten cities east of the Sea of Galilee] and Jerusalem and Judea and from the other [the east] side of the Jordan.

 

My thoughts:

To be honest, I struggled with knowing what to say about these verses. The part that stuck out to me the most was the fact that at this time Jesus healed EVERY disease, weakness, and infirmity. It begs the question: Why did He not heal everyone everywhere? And why do we not see large-scale miraculous healing like this today?

Scripture tells us that in certain areas He did not do many miracles because of a lack of faith in the people. However, I think it is dangerous to assume that everyone who is not healed is lacking faith.

I disagree with those who say God no longer performs miracles. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. But never on the scale of the scripture above.

I don’t think I can give a definitive answer on why some people are healed and others are not. Sometimes it has to do with a lack of faith, but I know there are others who have more faith than I do that were never healed physically.

Another thing to consider is that Jesus not only healed, but He also preached. He was just as concerned with the spiritual health of the people, if not more so, as He was their physical health.

I cannot guarantee that everyone will be healed physically, but I can guarantee that everyone who repents can be saved.

And perhaps as we focus on the spiritual health of the people, giving them the truth of the Gospel, living the way we ought to, we might begin to see more miracles.

Everything Jesus Said or Did during His Earthly Ministry: Part Seven

Matthew 4: 21-22 (AMPC)

21 And going on further from there He noticed two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets and putting them right; and He called them.

22 At once they left the boat and their father and joined Jesus as disciples [sided with His party and followed Him].

 

My thoughts:

This account of the calling of James and John is very similar to the one of Simon Peter and Andrew. However, whereas the scripture only mentions Peter and Andrew leaving behind their nets, we see here that James and John left behind their father.

We often think of repentance as simply giving up the bad in exchange for the good. Yet, repentance is about much more than just morality. It is a commitment to follow Christ, whatever the cost may be.

Following Christ always requires sacrifice. Some sacrifices may seem big, while others may seem small, but they are all big in God’s eyes. Whatever may hinder us from following Him may not be sin on it’s own, but it becomes sin if it is holding us back. If it gets in the way of our obedience to Christ, we must let it go, even if it is a blessing that God has given.  If it is not a sin on it’s own, then we may not have to give it up forever. In the right way and at the right time, God may give it back to us when He has determined it is no longer a stumbling block to us. Whatever He gives or takes away is always for our benefit and will ultimately lead us into a greater relationship with Him.

Everything Jesus Said or Did during His Earthly Ministry: Part Six

Matthew 4:17-20 (AMPC)

17 From that time 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.

18 As He was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He noticed two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, throwing a dragnet into the sea, for they were fishermen.

19 And He said to them, Come after Me [as disciples—letting Me be your Guide], follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men!

20 At once they left their nets and became His disciples [sided with His party and followed Him].

 

My thoughts:

The first message Jesus preached was, “Repent!” How we need this message today! Too often the focus has been shifted away from this all important concept. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot cleanse ourselves from sin. Yet, it is our duty to turn our hearts to Christ. His offer is always open, but He will never infringe upon our freewill. We must choose to receive Him.

The Kingdom of God is not only a place, but, much more importantly, a Person and a state of Being. When He said the Kingdom was at hand, He spoke of Himself. In essence, He said, “Here I Am! Turn away from your old life and let Me lead you into the New!”

And that is exactly what Simon Peter and Andrew did. Had they seen Jesus previously? We are not told. Had they heard His Message before? We are not told. What exactly convinced them to follow Him? We are not told. All we know is He told them to come and they did.

How much effort does the Church put into gimmicks and manipulations to try to entice the people today?  How much more effective would it be if we just trusted and obeyed the Lord?

No amount of convincing or persuading will ever beat the simple Power of God. All we need is to preach the right message for the right reasons to the right people at the right time. Lord, show us how it is to be done!

 

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