Peace-MAKER

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. – Matthew 5:9

Not “Blessed are the Peace lovers.”

Not “Blessed are the Peacekeepers.”

The word is “Peacemaker.”

This word, “Peacemaker” interests me. It only appears once in all of the Greek New Testament. It comes from (you guessed it) two Greek root words.

This peacemaker is not an appeaser, not one who avoids conflict. Rather the one who makes peace actively does what is necessary to end conflict. I like the definition of the “maker” part of the word. It literally means (are you ready for this?) to make–to produce–to create. Isn’t that cool?

Jesus calls us to action. We cannot sit passively by and hope for peace. Peace is produced–it’s made–it’s the product of peacemaking activity! Let me say that one more time:

Peace is a product and it’s made through peacemaking activity by peacemakers!

Jesus talks here about the peace that passes understanding. This peace stems 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 follow Christ, if you call Jesus Lord, if you live with the expectation of a place prepared for you beyond the grave, your business–your calling–your job–is to make peace.

Peacemaking starts with praying for those with whom you have some influence. God will open doors for you with your friends and loved ones. He will make opportunities to lead them into this peace in their own life. And more importantly into peace with the Father.

Start today! Ask the Lord for the who and the how. God brings amazing opportunities into the path of those who align themselves with His heart in this area.

Tell me about them! I can’t wait to hear what God does with your submitted life!

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by,

Walk in the light,

Ben

What Peace?

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. ~ Matthew 5:9

Peacemaker? 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

Again, in the next chapter speaking of Jesus Himself:

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” ~ Luke 2:14

Jesus, our Prince of Peace, brings us of 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.

…because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; ~ Romans 8:7

And what is it that can bring an end to these hostilities? Does peace come because God closes His eyes, ignoring our sin? No! This hostility can only end one way. We must surrender our lives to Him.

With the coming of Jesus, we can finally put down the weapons of our warfare against God. As we lay down our hate, our rebellion, our self-righteousness, we take up the cause of Christ. We 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 their 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 pave a clear path toward 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 your need for 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, 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. Meditation on His word cleanses you like no soap can.

Then you will become a peacemaker too, and as you experience His peace, you will want to draw others to His side as well.

If you have talked to Jesus about these things, tell me about it. My email is [email protected] I’d love to hear your story. 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.

BenHeadshotThanks for stopping in,

Walk in the Blessing!

Ben

See God!

…for they shall see God – Matthew 5:8

To this point, I have been talking about our approach to the Father. Pure hearts allow us to draw near to Him, but there is more. There is another dimension to seeing God, and we must not miss it.

Here is a question for you to ponder? When Jesus died, the veil in the temple split in two from top to bottom. Why? Was it God granting us access to the holy of holies? Yes–and no! The writer to the Hebrews implores us more than once to approach the throne of God. God intends for us to make our way into His domain.

But that’s not the whole of the matter. For centuries, a religion that told us exactly where to find God satisfied men. The torn veil speaks of God on the loose! No longer confined to a box in a tent or temple, God, to His great pleasure, now walks with us and in us.

Not only can these pure in heart approach the throne of God. The pure in heart will see God show up in day-to-day life. Where we go, He is sure to follow–wait–check that–lead. He goes before us into the workplace, the marketplace, the schoolroom. When we pray for our family members, co-workers, classmates, employees and employers, God shows up and confirms His Word with signs following.

This is where I really get turned on. It is one thing for me to look more spiritual, and walk around like a great saint. But when God starts walking in and through my life with me in tangible ways, that is real Christianity. That’s the kind of Christianity that Christ lived and the kind of Christianity for which He died.

cropped-BenHeadshotSee you soon,

Love,

Ben

Pure in Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God ~ Matthew 5:8

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: ~ Hebrews 12:14

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, ~ Psalm 24:3

We are called to have a pure heart, and to be holy. I am not sure if these two are interchangeable, however, based on the scriptures above each has as its reward an audience with the King of Glory!

The paradox here is that in order to approach God we must be holy which means set apart. And God is so holy and so set apart as to seem unapproachable. It has long fascinated me that God actually created angelic beings whose sole purpose is to hover before the throne of God for all eternity crying “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Both Isaiah and John the beloved tell us of these creatures that act as eternal warning beacons. In the same way, when God decided to interrupt Moses’ afternoon by showing up in a bush, the first order of business was to alert Moses that he was on holy ground.

At first blush, this seems like it is intended to keep us away, but the fact is, in all three cases God’s intent was to draw each of these men closer. As they prepared themselves they got a glimpse of God’s unmatched holiness and they were drawn into His irresistible presence.

Approach the Lord? Yes, you. He calls us to His throne. He beckons we sons of Adam to come before Him. As we draw near, change will be required. The very journey toward His throne will mold us–conform us–to His image. As we approach, He will ensure that we don’t arrive in an impure state, and He will supply what is needed to allow us into His wonderful presence. He did it for Isaiah with coals from the altar (check out Isaiah 6); He will do it for us.

Was there a time that God revealed a greater measure of His holiness to you?

BenHeadshotCome back soon

Love you,

Ben

It’s a Two Way Street!

Four times in Matthew’s 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 here, in the beatitudes.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. ~ Matthew 5:7

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

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

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

There is another similar statement in Luke’s gospel. It seems 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

Let’s take a tally. We have mercy, forgiveness, judgment, generosity, and in fact, in all ways, we are to offer others the treatment we desire to receive.

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 relationships.

What could you do today to improve a relationship that is not where you want it to be? 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.

It’s great you stopped by today.

cropped-BenHeadshotIf you like these studies, share them with a friend.

Bye for now

Ben

Greatness–Jesus style…

A few days back, I put up a post called “Satisfy Your Deepest Longings” about how our longings are not sin but God designed and given to us to manage. It stirred up some conversations here and on social media, but one reader posed a question I wanted to answer here.

Debbie Zeigler (Ziggy317) asked:

What are a couple of examples of how the longing for greatness is practically worked out with humility? There’s freedom tucked in there somewhere. 

I love this question.

As I considered her question, a thought poked its head into my mind. Muth. That’s what we called my mother in our family. Muth was amazing. I grew up a few years back (okay–a few decades back) when Muth worked full time as a mom. At least while I demanded care. When I hit my teens, Muth went to work, but while I was little-tiking she was momming full time.

The job tended to be thankless, the hours grueling, and the pay, intangible. It’s exactly what the women’s movement of the sixties and seventies militated against. Women fought for liberation and won. Women have some freedom to choose work over home if they want.

And I’m not thinking about ranting about that. I’m pretty egalitarian for a white male in his sixties.

But I’ll tell you something about Muth. She was the greatest! I don’t think my brothers would argue the point, and I know Fath wouldn’t. It turns out greatness exists in the most unlikely places.

You find it in the servant’s heart.

When the boys (Jesus’ disciples) were arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom they saw coming down the pike, Jesus tweaked their passions.

He didn’t rebuke them for wanting to be great.

He didn’t chide their foolish ambition.

He didn’t tell them they should take a vow of loserness.

He simply gave them the secret to true greatness.

“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; – Mark 10:43

It’s not wrong to desire greatness, the path is just not what we think. The path to the top of the corporate later runs through the servants quarters.

True greatness takes off His robe, puts on a towel and washes the feet of the one who would that night betray Him, and the others who would scatter and deny before sunup.

Thanks for the question, Debbie.

cropped-BenHeadshotBlessings,

Come back soon.

Ben

Satisfy Your Deepest Longings!

for they shall be completely satisfied. ~ Matthew 5:6 AMP

I love that the Amplified Bible has it this way “completely satisfied.” Not just, satisfied, not just, they will get what they are hungering after and thirsting for, but they will be completely satisfied. The world preaches that satisfaction comes from evil hungers and desires, but Jesus says, if you hunger for righteousness, you will be satisfied in every area of your life.

It is funny how hard we try to hold onto some of our old stuff, habits, sins, etc. Many a man has stayed away from God for a time, because he did not want to give up some secret sin, and knew that God would never allow it. But the truth is that God invented pleasure, and really knows how to make it work.

David said:

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fullness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever. ~ Psalm 16:11

Heaven is a place of complete pleasure like you have never experienced or even imagined. God completely gets you and knows exactly how to satisfy your desires.

During a study of the Song of Solomon, I read the book ‘Seven Longings of the Human Heart’ by Mike Bickle and Deborah Hiebert. These longings are not sin and are not to be repented of. They are not even part of our sin nature. These are all God designed longings and appetites that each of us must manage. We must discover God’s intended means of fulfillment. Bickle details these seven longings, which he says every human has.

» A longing to be fascinated
» A longing to possess and feel beautiful
» A longing to be great and successful
» A longing to know intimacy without shame
» A longing for assurance of being enjoyed
» A longing to be wholehearted and passionate
» A longing to make deep and lasting impact

These longings are often satisfied in unholy ways causing guilt and separation from God and from one another. These unholy actions need to be dealt with specifically in repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 holds the process of repentance in detail. For a review of the process of repentance, take a look back at “Repentance – the path to Comfort.”

However, because there are so many ways to fulfill these longings that are not glorifying to God, it is easy for us to despise the very longings themselves because we are stuck in a pattern of sin trying to satisfy these God-given needs. Rather than managing them, and directing them with godly wisdom and the Word of God, we try to get free from them or to suppress them. A ‘longing to be great’ can look a lot like pride, and we could try to suppress that drive for greatness that God has put in our soul. Instead, we should look to the Lord for instruction. When the disciples were arguing over who was the greatest, Jesus did not rebuke them but rather pointed them in the right direction, humility, the classic upside-down strategy for Kingdom greatness.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for coming by today.

More to follow,

Ben

Seven Longings of the Human Heart, by Mike Bickle and Deborah Hiebert.

Completely Satisfied!

for they shall be completely satisfied. ~ Matthew 5:6 AMP

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 happiness 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!

I said, “it’s a lie!

And this lie has worked for thousands of years. In fact, the serpent used this same lie to trick Eve in the garden. God is keeping His best away from you. He wants you to go through life missing out on all the fun, and always just a little frustrated.

This same serpent is the thief that Jesus tells us has come to “steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) His lies have separated us from satisfaction. In fact this very lie leaves us unsatisfied and distracted from the source of true happiness and real joy. How could we be so foolish, believing this liar! Jesus promised us “abundant life,” not an average, boring, prudish and 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)

Lord, have mercy–forgive–and empower us to walk in pursuit of righteousness today.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping in.

Love you,

Ben

Hungry?

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. – Matthew 5:6

Jesus’ lays before us the next earmark of a citizen of His kingdom, and it’s all about our appetite.

Let’s start with a definition of hunger.

I walked into the house 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 two hours!!!!! Can you imagine my hunger? Two whole hours without food! I was starving. And when I found that dinner was not on the table, well you can just imagine the ruckus that ensued.

OK, that was a bit of fiction. But I bet you have been there.

This is not that hunger.

When a person feels real hunger, all other priorities and passions pale. Hunger doesn’t start in the brain, it emanates from one’s innermost parts. It’s not about thoughts and wishes, it’s a primal need. Their whole body demands food.

And what of thirst? It’s worse!

Where does this primal need for righteousness come from? I never had such a longing as a natural man. As a natural man, no desire for goodness stirred my soul.

Paul talks about this some in Romans 6

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. – Romans 6:20-22

This hunger and thirst after righteousness is a direct result of regeneration. Before you knew God, you had no desire to walk right before Him. The only righteousness you may have desired had to do with people treating you right. I wanted those in my circle to treat me well, to tell me the truth, to treat me with respect, but that was the extent of my hunger for the right.

But now, walking this path of blessing…

I see my inner poverty and my need for God.
I see my sin and it breaks my heart, so I cry out for His mercy.
I submit my will to His, setting His priorities above my own.
A hunger and thirst rise up within me for His righteousness to manifest in my life.

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 bootstraps, who just grits their teeth and does what is right.

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. What if we pursued it as if it was the only thing that mattered, like a man starving to death goes after nourishment.

I am not talking about 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 workplace 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.

What may not be entirely obvious is that as we take our righteousness to the next level, we take our joy to the next level as well.

This passion for righteousness nets us a life of joy. The Word tells us this about the life of Jesus:

“YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS; THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS.” – Hebrews 1:9

Jesus understood:

for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 14:17

No man ever walked in the Spirit to a greater measure than Jesus. Righteousness works itself out in peace and joy. The worst turmoil in life comes when you walk away from righteousness. Covering up sin, or walking the edge between good and bad deals death to all joy and peace. When you are seeking after righteousness, shame, guilt and fear leave and peace and joy remain.

Jesus is our righteousness. (1 Corinthians 1:30) Simply put, to hunger after righteousness is to hunger for more 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?

cropped-BenHeadshotDon’t miss the promise for this one!

See you next week.

Ben

Kingdom?

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 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 decades 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 doesn’t 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 stick it at the end of the chapter, but there is an urgency I sense in its placement right here.

Here goes:

What if “Theirs 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 timeshare, but we are on the deed, of the kingdom of heaven.

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) Doesn’t the very fact that the Holy Spirit is in our lives as the “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” illustrate this? (Eph 1:14) Or how about this outrageous bit from Daniel:

‘But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.’ – Daniel 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? And not just any kingdom, but a heavenly kingdom, Your kingdom!

I dare you to ask God that question.

cropped-BenHeadshotLet me know what He shows you.

See ya…

Ben