A New Respect

I have new respect for Jonah. Although he is seen as a rebellious, runaway prophet with a selfish and prejudice attitude, I have come to realize that there is more to him than meets the eye.

In 2 Kings 14:23-27, he is described as a servant and prophet of God. His prophecy to Jeroboam II came true, proving he was a true prophet (Deuteronomy 18).  Even in the opening scene we see the words “The Word of the LORD came to Jonah, son of Amittai”. This wording was a phrase used in the Old Testament to indicate that God spoke directly to a prophet or to someone He has called to participate with Him in a special way. That is a big deal.

Jonah has more in common with Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, and Peter than he does with his reputation as a “bad” prophet. More to come on this in a future post.

What I have come to love about him is his honesty and open discussion with God. He told Him exactly what he was feeling and how angry it made him. And God honored Jonah’s struggle to understand His desire to rescue everyone, even the extremely wicked.

Jonah’s faith in God never wavered. Although reluctantly and maybe even unknowingly, in the face of death he was fulfilling the call on his life by professing his faith to the sailors in Jonah 1:9. He did not deny God, as Peter did, but he boldly told the sailors that he worshipped the God who made everything, even the sea and the dry land. Later, in Chapter 4 he confesses to God’s character and nature when he says:

Jonah 4:2(b)

“I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”

I want to be more like Jonah in this regard. Even when I do not understand God’s ways and especially when I find myself, angry, frustrated, or in a situation that I don’t want be in, I want to have an unwavering faith in Who He Is. I do not want to hide my feelings from God, He already knows how I feel. anyway. I want to work through all of that emotional turmoil in honesty with Him.

It all boils down to dialogue. We see that a lot in Jonah. God desires and even invites us into dialogue with Him. One definition of dialogue is:

“to discuss areas of disagreement frankly in order to resolve them”

We can’t resolve our issues if we don’t discuss them 😊

INTERESTING FACTS (not related to current topic, just fun facts with one assumption.)

Things I noticed in 2 Kings during my daily reading plan that popped out as they relate to Jonah. I have learned to slow down in the hard parts of Scripture like genealogy and history. There are so many little interesting tidbits that enhance the understanding of Scripture.

  • Jonah was a true prophet and servant of God (2 King 14:23-27)
  • He prophesied victory for Jeroboam II in establishing the boundaries of Israel.
  • Jeroboam II was a bad king (you might even describe him as wicked.)
  • Jeroboam II was the son of King Jehoash.
  • Jehoash was the king who cried to Elisha for help in the battle against Aram.
  • Aram later fell to the Assyrians aka Ninevites (Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C.)
  • Jehoash is the king that Elisha instructed to shoot arrows out the window as a sign for victory in battle (but Jehoash stopped at three and defeated the enemy only three times.)
  • It is very possible that Jonah was born before Elisha died, which opens up a lot of other possibilities 😊

Running Away

Do you ever want to run away when you screw up in life? I do. Which means I want to run away a lot! 😊

What if the view that others have of us was based on that one time that we really, really messed up? What if there was even a story written about it that became so popular, it became required reading and it was handed down from generation to generation for thousands of years?

No one recalls or remembers the good things we did, the people we impacted or the lives that were changed. They just know about that one time when we messed up and wanted to run away. The generations that followed only hear about our angry outburst and stubborn attitude. They only know us as someone who swallows up anything and eventually what we devour makes us so sick we vomit it out.

Jonah and Big Fish have both received bad reps from one snapshot of time. Hardly seems fair, doesn’t it?

Do we see Big Fish as the obedient servant that God sends to rescue one of His own? Or do we see him as the enemy that swallows up just about anything, including bad tasting prophets?

Do we see Jonah as the rebellious, single minded, selfish, and angry prophet that tried to run to away from God? Or do we see him as a faithful prophet that God trusted, struggling to come to terms with an exceedingly difficult task?

My views and prejudice against Jonah have really taken a pounding this go around in the Book of Jonah. I have failed to see the difficulty of his task. From what I know so far, he was the only prophet that was ever instructed to physically go into enemy territory and to preach directly to them (and it was not a “make-me-feel-good-live-life-and-be-happy” sermon!) Other prophets preached to the enemy nations but did so from afar.

Jonah was sent to a nation that he knew would soon destroy and overtake his own country. He was aware of the prophetic sermons of Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah, who were probably all contemporaries at some point. He might have known that he would forever be an outcast at home if he went on this mission. Trouble was coming and he was being sent to the troublemakers!

Think about that. God spoke to Jonah and gave him an extremely hard assignment. He knew it was hard when He assigned it. But he also knew His prophet. He knew Jonah would struggle with the assignment and He knew that he would need some rescuing as he came to terms with God’s plan. God never abandoned Jonah. He was with him every step of the way.

As I reflect on this today and as I step back to get a bird’s eye view of the story, I see my own stubborn, know-it-all views and judging of a person based on one small snapshot of his life. And once again, I am overwhelmed by God’s gentleness, His mercy, His patience, and His Sovereignty over all things.

The beginning of the book illustrates His Sovereignty and Power, the middle of book reveals His patience, the end of the book reveals His gentleness and mercy.

I used to be frustrated being in Jonah so much, but God’s patience with me has been amazing. This book is fantastic, and it has so many themes to peel back layer by layer.

I love You, El Shaddai!

Judging Jonah

I have been pondering this thought about the Book of Jonah.

Does Jonah invite us to judge?

What an odd thought when the Bible often reminds us “not to judge” in an unrighteous manner. But what if Jonah is inviting us to judge him without knowing the full story? The book ends abruptly with God’s words of compassion.

God says a lot in a small book that contains only 48 verses and there is a plethora of themes to study. I believe one of the themes is about judging.

We judge Jonah, the Ninevites, the sailors and we even judge the big fish. We judge the sailor’s attitude when they cry to God. We judge the Ninevites turning from their wicked ways and we judge Jonah’s pouting and angry attitude. We might even say we judge God’s compassion on all the above.

What we do not know is the full story. We don’t know Jonah’s life story or when and where he died or what happened after Chanter 4 ends. Many of the Old Testament prophets rejected or doubted the call of God, Moses, Elijah, and Jeremiah for example. Even Timothy appeared to doubt his calling in the New Testament. We seem to be a little harsh on Jonah and see  him only as a wayward, rebellious prophet. It is evident that God is with Jonah the entire time! God saw him as he was called to be. Jesus refers to Jonah in a positive light as well. He does not condemn the prophet but sees him as a representative of Himself.

On July 24, 2014, ISIS destroyed a tomb in Mosul, Iraq. Mosul is known as the ancient city of Nineveh. The tomb ISIS destroyed was the Tomb of Jonah. This tomb is known as the burial site of the prophet and it was not just a tourist attraction; It was a revered site to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. It was described as an “antithesis to sectarianism”. In other words, it was a place that brought all peoples to a common ground in their shared history. ISIS wanted that common ground destroyed. They may have destroyed most of the tomb, but not the meaning behind it.

Why would a people build a tomb to remember someone who hated them? Did Jonah die in Nineveh? We do not know. We don’t know if the tomb contained the actual remans of the prophet or if it was built as a memorial. He may have  lived to a ripe old age in Nineveh and grew to love those to whom he preached. God’s patience and ending words in Jonah 4 may have resulted in the repentance of a stubborn heart. Or, Jonah may have died soon after his message from the injuries he more than likely incurred during his time in the fish.

I like to think that the former is true. 😊 It gives me hope in the redeeming of my own wayward and rebellious heart.

I believe Jonah invites us to judge so that we see how ridiculously futile it is and he guides us to see everyone as God sees them. Maybe he even invites us to see ourselves as God sees us.

From Jonah to Corinthians

What exactly does Jonah 1:3 and 1 Corinthians 9:16-17 have in common? It appears to be plenty.

God continues to amaze me in the things He can show me through the book of Jonah. I am planted here for a while, and I am good with that now. I no longer see myself stuck here; I am planted. He has proven Himself faithful. Like Phillip, when God whisked him away from the Ethiopian eunuch on the road south of Jerusalem to Azotus, he takes me from Gath Heper (Jonah’s hometown) to Ephesus as Paul writes to the Corinthians, in the blink of an eye!

From Gath Hepher:

Over the last few days, I have been reading the New American Commentary on Jonah. After the initial background chapters of the commentary, the author begins a verse-by-verse discussion. The author describes Jonah’s behavior in v 1:3, as Jonah’s tragic decision to disobey God. Jonah was a prophet, called by God to speak to the people on God’s behalf. Jonah was given a gift of prophecy and the calling of a prophet. In other words, Jonah was in the LORD’s service.

One reference the author uses says that by “fleeing” the LORD’S presence Jonah knew he could not actually flee from God himself.  The Hebrew people did not believe that God was limited to one place. Jonah later shows in v 9 that he believed God to be the Creator, thus everywhere. By fleeing from the LORD’s presence, Jonah announces empathically his unwillingness to serve God. His action is nothing less than open rebellion against God’s sovereignty.

To Ephesus and the letter to the Corinthians:

As I listened to John Bevere’s book X, Multiply Your God-Given Potential, I see a connection between what John Bevere says and my current study of Jonah. John is discussing our role as stewards of the grace gifts that God gives to each of us. He references Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:16-17.

16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. (NIV)

He highlighted the part of the verse “woe to me”.

The definition of woe: grievous distress, affliction, or trouble. When “woe” is used, it is not a minor thing!

Jonah faced that woe head on when He rebelled against what God had compelled him to do.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

We each have gifts that we are to use to serve others! We most often think of money when we think of stewardship. It is not just about money! It is about all of things God gives us, including the Spiritual Gifts.

It is about developing in the calling God has placed upon us. It is multiplying that calling in the lives of others. To do otherwise, are we like Jonah? Are we trying to flee from service to Him?  Are we searching for peace but finding woe instead?

OUCH! My feet hurt from all the toe stomping this week!

Father in Heaven, how majestic is Your Name! You are Creator and the Sovereign King. You have given me gifts that I have ignored or ran away from. Instead of running from them, I run to them, I run to You. Renew in me a steadfast spirit. Give me direction and guidance in how I can best steward these gifts and the calling you have placed upon me. I know that it is not for my benefit alone but for service to You by serving others and like the parable of the talents, multiplying what you have so graciously given.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

From Luke to Jonah … and Back

Once again, I find myself in Jonah! When I am not studying for a particular purpose, I often find myself at a loss of where to start. Because Easter is approaching, I decided to read the Gospels and Acts. I landed in Luke and was drawn to Luke 1:1-4.

Luke 1:1-4 highlights his reason for writing the book and his method of doing so. That was a great study and I gained insight when I started  a couple of weeks ago, but again today, as I met with God, I was at a loss of where to start.

I hear in my heart…. yep, you guessed it, JONAH!. What? Again? Then I was reminded of something Joyce Meyer said in one of her lessons and of something God said to me in my heart.

Joyce Meyer says if you do not know what God wants you to do now, go back to the last thing you remember him telling you to do. For me, that would be Jonah. His direction was clear, loud,  and simple. I awoke one morning and the first thing that hit my brain before I lifted my head off the pillow was JONAH.

I spent a long time in Jonah and often asked God why He had me here and why I felt stuck. It is only four short chapters and contains 48 verses in the entire book! God’s reply was through a side study of  “cross-reference”. During one of my Jonah studies, I was researching the Introduction of the NIV Study Bible (older version) and it said that cross-referencing is inexhaustible. I even tested it and it’s true, cross-referencing never ends! God said to me, “Don’t worry about where you are, I will take you where you need to go.” He can do that in any manner he chooses too. Cross-referencing, and mostly in my case ADD! I often get lost in the side notes.

WOW! God is FAITHFUL

To begin the study of Jonah all over again, I started with the introduction to the book of Jonah in the NIV Study Bible Fully Revised Edition 2020. As I was reading the introduction and going to the cross- references listed (I have learned not to skip these!), I wondered if the revised edition was in LOGOS so that I could just hover over the references and they would open in a pop-up (lazy or resourceful, you decide 😊 ). I took a moment to research the Logos online store and yes, the Bible Study Notes for the revised edition was available and it was on sale! Doing my Dave Ramsey due diligence, I researched my budget to see if I had the monies to pay for it. Yes! I budget for LOGOS purchases and money was available 😊

Whoop There it Is

I opened LOGOS on my laptop to same place that I was reading in my Bible. My mouse hovered over a section of the introduction about authorship. I did not hover intentionally over this section, but I read what popped up anyway. And boy was I blessed!

It tied right back to my study of Luke 1:1-4!

Luke 1:1-4 tells us why and how Luke wrote the material. He researched, he was organized, he was a servant of the Word who was familiar with the work of other servants of the Word and he journaled.

The introduction to 1 & 2 Kings, tells us the writer of this historical account also did his research. He was a servant of the Word; he did his research and he even named his sources. He was careful and he wrote down what he gathered.

I think when we read in Scripture that the Bible is the God-breathed, inspired Word, we think that God just downloaded the words to the writer. We think He will do that for us as well without any effort on our part. After seeing both examples, I realize that is not necessarily the case. The writers did their homework! God blessed them in their work and careful study. The Holy Spirit cannot bring to remembrance what was never remembered in the first place!

Yes, I believe the Holy Spirit does give us inspiration, but I also believe that God blesses us the most when we are in the Word. When we seek Him, we will find Him! Set a date, keep the date, meet with Him and He will show up!

RESOURCES:

(NIV Study Bible Fully Revised Edition 2020 -Popup)

Whoever the author was, it is clear that he was familiar with the book of Deuteronomy—as were many of Israel’s prophets. It is also clear that he used a variety of sources in compiling his history of the monarchy. Three such sources are named: “the book of the annals of Solomon” (11:41), “the book of the annals of the kings of Israel” (14:19) and “the book of the annals of the kings of Judah” (14:29). It is likely that other written sources were also employed…

Luke 1:1-4 (NIV)

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. [1]

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God p may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

1 Peter 1:21

For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Deuteronomy 4:29

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Jeremiah 29:13

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart

Matthew 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.


Gearing Up for Easter: Bible Study Lessons from Luke

In preparation for Easter, I am diving into the Gospels and Acts. My first stop: Luke and Acts consecutively since they were both written by Luke.

Who knew that Luke would teach us a few things about Bible Study in his introduction? This is what is so fun about “digging in” to the Word. You never know what you will see in Scriptures you have read many times over when you just take the time to pray first, slow down, and pay attention to the words. Reading alone is not Bible Study. However, Luke gives us some great ‘how to” Bible study tips.

Bible Study How-To tips from Luke 1:1-4.

  1. Acknowledge that others have taken upon themselves the task to study the Scriptures and give an account. They knew the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. They studied the Word. We can learn from them and use them as a basis for our own study.
  2. They did the work it takes. Bible study takes time and effort.  They considered the words of the eyewitnesses and they compared it to those things handed down (Old Testament Scriptures and those handed down verbally by servants of the Word). They listened, they discerned, they researched and made a report.
  3. Luke considered the work and accounting of those in verses 1 and 2 and he carefully investigated everything himself from beginning to end. He too, studied and compared what he knew and heard. He journaled! He wrote it all down!
  4. He shared what he learned through his own study. Thank you, Luke! You gave us a Gospel that we can rely upon through your careful investigation, research, and willingness to share what you learned with Theophilus so that he (and we) may know for certain what we have been taught!

Amazing huh?

Luke 1:1-4 (NIV)

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Make a Date

My entire schedule has been messed up the last couple of years and like everyone else, especially in 2020.  I used to set aside every Saturday morning studying the Bible or researching lesson plans. This time alone with the LORD was always fruitful and a blessing to my spirit.

My schedule really changed when the pandemic set aside early shopping times for the “at risk” people (insert smirk emoji). Instead of spending time with God, I spent it going to the store before the crowd. This eventually became my new habit. My time studying suddenly vanished and I had a hard time focusing on it at any other time. Something always got in the way. This was supposed to be my date-morning with God.

I fast every January as a first fruit offering to the LORD and for guidance for the year ahead. I fast alone and with my church. This year I asked God to help me realign things again. I felt out of control with the inability to focus. I needed His help. Praise God, He never disappoints!

I am at the end of my first fruits fast and I was feeling a little disappointed in myself. I felt that somehow, I failed in focus, prayer, and study. Nothing had changed. I felt I hadn’t done enough through the fast (which is a works mentality and lacks faith in God’s grace.)

But God!

Last night as I was crawling in to bed, God reminded me of our Saturday date-mornings. So, I set a date for 6:00 am. I can go to the store later in the morning, I can run later in the day. I can clean house this afternoon. But today, beginning at 6:00 am, that is God’s time.

My life verse is Ezra 7:10, especially the part that says Ezra devoted himself to the study and observance of the law. But I love to teach it too 😊

Whenever I study for others I am so blessed because I learn for myself as well. If I try to just read the Bible as something to check off my reading plan for the day, I usually leave rather empty. It was a duty and not a joy. Oh, but when I set aside time to meet with God, on purpose, for the joy of it, I am so very blessed, each and every time. God is faithful.  

As I began reading Ephesians, I had focus today and I started to see Scriptures that related to the class I begin to teach on Monday! It was awesome. I was reminded of God’s love, His grace and the Power that He has bestowed upon us. I was reminded of the life I am called to live.

Make a date and be faithful. Give time to God and He will give to you in greater measure.

Ezra 7:10

For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.

Luke 6:38

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Discipline or Privilege

I have been reading James W Goll’s book THE SCRIBE and he said something that really hit home.

He had always used the phrase “spiritual disciplines” when it came to setting habits for prayer, worship, journaling, being in the Word and so forth. He recalls a time when the Holy Spirit said to him “you are not disciplined enough to have spiritual disciplines.”  Well, if that is true of James Goll, it is even more true for mel!

The Holy Spirit’s response to Mr. Goll was to call these things ‘privileges”.

This puts a whole new spin on things. A discipline is performance based. It often turns to a drudgery or just something to check off a list. Doing the same thing as a privilege, however, means doing it because you can do it. You do it because God has equipped you to do it and because you want to do it. You do not have to do these things for God to love you more. He loves you already! Praying, studying His Word, praising Him, worshipping Him are all things we get to do! They are things He invites us to do so that we can can have relationship with Him. They are benefits and gifts that our Father has lavished on us!

To take this thought a little further, what if we have that same attitude in everything we do? What if I do not see cleaning house today as the drudgery, I believed it to be? What if I saw it as cleaning and caring for the home that God gave me 10 years ago? What if my commute to and from work every day is not seen as a long drive and time wasted, but as time spent worshipping God with the radio or being taught God’s Word through audiobooks I’ve downloaded? What if its neither of these things and just quiet time with Jesus? What if I see going to work every day as the privilege it is! What if I see it as something God has enabled to do? It is God’s provision for me. The same with errands like going to the store.

I believe if we looked at more of the everyday things in life as privileges instead of routine things we must do, we will be more thankful, and in doing so, we will reap the benefits of a blessed and more joyful life.

Philippians 2:14-16

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 

Psalm 121

Meditating on Scripture is probably one of the most rewarding things a person can do. When you spend time with God in His Word your entire perspective on things change.

Recently, I have been going through one of those “phases”. With everything going on with the pandemic, the political craziness, the increase of lawlessness, and just life in general, a feeling of loneliness was settling heavy on my heart. A spiritual war was intensifying on the battlefield of my mind. I knew the only things that would win the battle would be the arsenal of the Word and a renewing of my mind.

I made a big mistake this year and did not have a study plan in place by January. I read the Word every day, but this year the plan was haphazard at best. I love the Word. I love seeing the story unfold and I absolutely love meditating on it. But these past few months, I seemed to have just drifted. Funny, how that happens. You just seem to drift and before you know it, you are not where you know you need to be.

Then one day, as I was putting things away and battling things in my mind, I glanced at the bulletin board in my home office and I see Psalm 121.1. I don’t remember when I actually wrote this, but God knew I would need it soon!

That one Scripture changed everything! I still have to fight the battle. The weapon I am using is meditating on Psalm 121; memorizing it, and letting the Holy Spirit recall other Scriptures that are hidden in my heart that strengthen my resolve to be the victor in the battle. The more I meditate on Psalm 121, the more the battle changes in my favor.

Not only is it renewing my mind, it is renewing my heart as well!

The next few posts on A Heart After Him, will be how God is renewing my mind with the washing of His Word. It’s a personal journey but you are welcome to come along.

Part 1

Theme

Two of the keys to effective Bible Study and effective meditating are to pay attention to the words and pay special attention to repetitions. You look for the theme

These eight verses pack a mighty wallop and the theme is obvious in one Hebrew word, shamar (שמר).  In this Psalm, the NIV translates the Hebrew word shamar (to keep, guard, watch over, attend to carefully) as watch. Other versions translate as keep, but really, any of the translated words reveal and mean the same thing and each brings its own powerful impact. More on this in the study of each verse in following posts.

“He watches” is mentioned five times in eight verses. Four times it says either “watches over you” or watches over your”.

In every verse it says things he will do or something that he is to you: He will not let your foot slip; He is your shade, he is my help. We see that He will not let the sun or moon harm (representing the dangers in the day and night.) Verse seven says he keeps us from all harm (evil).

The theme for Psalm 121 is that God watches over us, He guides us and He protects us from everything,  around the clock and He will never stop!

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

THE BEATITUDES

The App series The Chosen has made a wonderful impact on my life. Their portrayal of Jesus and the biblical stories made me want to read the Gospels through a new lens. I know a lot of the dialogue and the scenes are “fiction”, but I believe they are soundly based on Scripture. The way they portray the characters and the events transfers them from words on a page to real human experiences to which we can all relate.

I have a new hunger to read and study the Gospels slowly, with intent, purpose, and a teachable heart. I want to see beyond the words I often read too quickly. I want them to penetrate my whole person (spirit, soul, and body.) I no longer want to just read about Jesus and what He did, I want to see who he is through the example he lived for us, as I sit at his feet while he teaches me. My heart’s desire is to grow deeper in relationship with him.

I began this journey in Matthew. I read slowly, made notes, read commentaries, and did my normal Bible Study routine. By the time I arrived at Matthew 5:3-12, it finally dawned on me that I needed to pray for revelation, wisdom, and enlightenment on what I was studying. I needed the Holy Spirit to reveal the Scriptures to me. I am slow, but I get there eventually! Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, “Be this person.” I understood that to mean that all of verses 3-12 applied.

We will come back to chapters one through four of Matthew in later studies. But for now, we will begin with Matthew 5:3-12, commonly referenced as The Beatitudes. Activating these verses in our lives is not optional, nor are they multiple choice. They all apply to the life of everyone who calls themselves a Christ follower.

The word for blessed (makarious) used in Matthew 5 refers to a current state of being. It does not mean if we do this, we will get that. Each of the nine “blessed” verses begin with “Blessed are” they do not begin with “blessed will be”. The Greek word makarious used here is a grace word that references satisfaction in abundance, an authentic spiritual joy, peace, and feeling of well-being. It implies a state of happiness that already exists in the life of the believer. A popular commentary on Jesus as seen through the culture of his time on earth, describes the word as someone who is already happy because they already have something or have already been promised something. They do not have to do anything to earn a reward, it is already theirs. The commentary goes on to say that this distinctive spiritual joy accrues to man from his share in the salvation of the Kingdom of God.

With this definition of blessed in mind, the Beatitudes describes a person who is already happy because these characteristics are already active in their lives. Jesus lived the ‘blessed” life! The Beatitudes describe the person of Jesus and how we can learn to be like him.

A Declaration of the Beatitudes for right living.

Although not all of these are always actively on display in my life, I declare them over myself as I grow in spiritual maturity. However, I do know that I am blessed! When life gets me down, all I have do is read through this declaration and my mood swiftly changes as I praise God for the blessings He has already given to me.

I am sure that these declarations  will  change as go I deeper into study. These verses are rich with meaning and when you tie them to the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus used as the foundation of his sermon, you cant help but sit back in awe, raise your hands, and shout praise to God!

  • I am blessed because I know and recognize that I am spiritually bankrupt without God. His grace allows me to set aside all self-dependence and rely on Him alone. I have spiritual joy and peace in this life with the knowledge that I already live in the Kingdom of God here on earth where God rules. I have a future home made just for me and it was prepared by Jesus himself (v3).

 

  • I am blessed because I am sorry for willful rebellion, unintentional sin, lack of and unbelief. Through my sorrow and repentance, He comforts me and forgives me. I live in peace knowing that all is well with my soul, that I no longer live in shame. I know that He is with me and comforts me through all that this life brings. Though sorrow may come, either through loss or sin, there is joy in the morning (v4).

 

  • I am blessed because the Holy Spirit helps me to grow spiritually and guides me in areas of self-discipline. He teaches me humility and self-control. In my weakness He is made strong. I have the same power that raised Jesus from dead living inside of me and I know that I will succeed and be prosperous when I strive to eradicate prideful behaviors from my life. I display the fruits of the Spirit through, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (v5).

 

  • I am blessed because I love the Word of God, and I strive to be obedient and accordingly. I hunger to know Him more and continually grow in spiritual maturity. I am filled with the Holy Spirit, hallelujah! (v6).

 

  • I am blessed because God is merciful! I can do nothing to earn his favor. He gave His One and Only Son so that I might live. Because I remember that I have been granted unmerited favor, I strive to forgive others promptly and show mercy to those who have wronged me (v7).

 

  • I am blessed and I know that I shall see God! I have been made pure because the blood of Jesus has washed me clean (v8).

 

  • I am blessed because I am a child of God! Whenever it is possible and within my ability, I will be a peacemaker. I will not let anger control my behavior and I will help others in reconciling differences (v9).

 

  • I am blessed and I do not take offense when I am persecuted for my love of Jesus and speaking out in truth (v10).

 

  • I am blessed because I know that Jesus is my intercessor and he defends me to the Father when others speak evil and falsely against me. I praise God and I rejoice because I am counted among the prophets who were persecuted before me (v11)

 

  • I have a great reward waiting for me in heaven (v12)!