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Luke 6:17-23 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

When most people think of blessings, they think of the last time they received unexpected money, honor, man’s applause, being healed of a disease or injury, gifts, things going right making life easier for ourselves… the list could go on and on. But Jesus gave us a new twist on how we should view blessings in the spiritual realm.

The word had gotten out about Jesus’ power to heal the sick and the multitudes began to seek him out wherever he went. Jesus saw that the people were seeking him only for the physical healing he could give them. He then spoke to his disciples explaining the source of true spiritual blessings. His words suprised the people then, and still surprise us today. They are like a foreign language to those who are unable to see the wisdom contained in them. It is clear that Jesus expects his followers to rise above the “me first” way of thinking and to be willing to sacrifice our own needs and wants for the sake of others.

I plan to deal with each statement in the Beatitudes with separate posts.

Lord give us wisdom to understand everything you have to say to us. When your words seem difficult let us seek you out with hearts that are willing to listen. Help us to step outside earthly wisdom to seek the higher wisdom that you have to give to those who are willing to seek it.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Luke 4:14-15  Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

 These two verses immediately follow the account of Jesus and his time of temptation by Satan in the wilderness. This was the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

Jesus went in the power of the Holy Spirit and began his ministry in the region around the Sea of Galilee. From these two verses, he must have been an instant success as the word spread quickly about him. He was permitted to teach in the synagogues and all the people praised him.

The emphasis for this verse, especially as we apply it to our own lives, is on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t it exciting when we know we are doing the right thing – serving in the will of God – when we feel the blessings of the Holy Spirit on our efforts, and our efforts are recognized and appreciated by others?

But have you ever striven in your own strength and felt as if you were beating your head against the wall because you were going nowhere? This is not a pleasant feeling. We must be careful to always seek God’s direction before we try to do a great work for him to keep from spinning our wheels and wasting our strength on a lesser task he did not ask us to do.

But we must also consider that he may want us to persist in a task for a long time before we may expect to see the rewards from our labor. There are many testimonies of persons who prayed for the salvation of a loved one and witnessed to them for years before that person accepted Christ. There are testimonies of Missionaries who struggled for years before they saw a spark of interest in the hearts of the people, yet that first spark eventually did come as hostile communities finally opened their doors to Jesus.

Lord, help us to always seek your will through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Give us your discernment that we may know the difference between our own ideas and the leading that comes from you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 119:33-40 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

What a wonderful passage. This does not need any explanation. It only needs to be made into the prayer of our hearts. I encourage my readers to read this scripture several times, and at least one of the times you read it, make it your prayer.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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1 Chronicles 15:1-3, 11-15  Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

 

The ark of God, contained the tablets on which God had carved out the Ten Commandments in Mount Sinai. It had been kept in the section of the tabernacle reserved for it. It had been captured by the Philistines and David had attempted to bring it back to the Israelites. His first attempt had ended in disaster because he had disregarded God’s longstanding instructions on the proper way to move the ark from one location to another. (See Chapter 13) This time, David did his homework and followed God’s instructions precisely.

No one knows where the ark of God is today, so specifically caring for it is not an issue to us. But we should not miss out on the lesson that David and the Israelites learned from this experience. God has given us his instructions on how to live our lives in a way that pleases and honors him. These instructions are found in his Word, the Bible. Do we study and cherish it as we should, or have we taken his instructions for granted and tried to do things our own way? The stakes are high both in our lives on this earth and in where we will spend eternity.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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     1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 

    5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud
     
but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:1-5 (NIV)

     Peter is addressing the duties of the church elder – watching over the members of the congregation in a spirit of humility and servanthood. They should do this, not as a duty or requirement, but because they have a willing spirit to help others. They should not expect financial gain for their service nor should they lord their authority over the congregation in a heavy handed way.

      Peter then addresses the younger generation challenging them to be submissive to the older men. Peter stresses the concept that we have been considering all week – humility. Peter tells young men (and I don’t believe he deliberately omitted the women, this was one characteristic of the Jewish culture in his day) to clothe themselves with humility. Then he quotes Proverbs 3:34 saying “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV)

      We may not be elders or have great leadership roles in our churches, but all who are called as Christians are also called to minister one to another.  For this reason, we can all learn from the advice Peter directed to the elders in this letter to “God’s elect” (from chapter 1:1)

     Lord, thank you for your Word that you use to speak to our hearts. Give us ears to hear and teachable spirits that we may be willing and able to humble ourselves and serve those around us.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;
     
2 in you I trust, O my God.
     
Do not let me be put to shame,
     
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one whose hope is in you
     
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame
     
who are treacherous without excuse.

4 Show me your ways, O LORD,
     
teach me your paths;
5 guide me in your truth and teach me,
     
for you are God my Savior,
     
and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love,
     
for they are from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth
     
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
     
for you are good, O LORD.

8 Good and upright is the LORD;
     
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
     
and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
     
for those who keep the demands of his covenant.
Psalm 25:1-10 (NIV)

This is one of many of the Psalms that causes me to want to burst into song when I read it. That is because I first learned this Psalm as a song. And isn’t that so appropriate, since the book of Psalms has been a book of songs from the very beginning.

Singing this Psalm is a beautiful way to remind oneself of God’s faithfulness. I can lift up my soul to him and put my trust in him. I cannot be put to shame if I am living wholeheartedly for him– because by doing so I would not allow myself to do something to be ashamed of. As I sing this Psalm to God I am asking him to guide my steps because he is my Savior in whom I have hope.

I can only smile to myself as I read verse 7 (the song ended before this verse.) What a blessing that the “sins of my youth and my rebellious ways” can be put behind us because of Jesus’ great sacrifice made in my behalf.

Verse 9 tells us “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” Lord give me a humble heart. Strip away the pride that wants to get in the way, that I may have a teachable spirit and may walk more faithfully in your way. Thank you that I can trust you to humble me because all your ways are loving and faithful for those who walk in your ways.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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