Meet Jesus: Ill Will Matthew 5:11

9385_554298617946432_1309700350_n (2)Matthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, … 11: Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

 Reviled, persecuted, falsely accused, and discussed with cussedness is the condition of a follower of Jesus.  Now, that was His condition.  And, now, that is our condition.  It is a strange communion with Christ that we desire.  We want to be like Him in every way except this one.  Sure, we would like to be gracious and kind and merciful and full of miracles.  But, do we want the accompaniment?   Jesus was conditioned to being treated this way every place He went.  Are we?

During the televangelist season of failure in the 1980s, a co-worker approached me on break.  This had been a hard time as many personal failures of Christian leaders were in the media and being talked about in congregations.  Jimmy Swaggart was one of those in the news regularly.  This co-worker made a crude comment about the minister and the accusations in the papers.  True or not, I had no idea.  My retort was to encourage them to find truth before repeating the news lest they find themselves against God.  Even if it was true, why would they wish ill will to the man?  Over years, he had been used of God to bless many.  Now there was a reported failure.  Wouldn’t we want him to be restored?  Wouldn’t we want him to enjoy family for the remaining years of life?  Wouldn’t we want repentance and continued good works?  The co-worker really wasn’t attacking Jimmy Swaggart.  They were attacking the cause of Christ and possible hypocrisy.  That is a dangerous game to play.  Who wants to be one to accuse Christ of inconsistency?

ACT!  Have you ever verbally wished ill will to another Christian?  Did you do it out of envy?  Have you ever heard someone else do this?  Did you participate by listening?  The next time you hear an accusation against a brother or sister in Christ, rise to their defense.  Bless them in your prayers and bless them in the hearing of others.  Don’t entertain the ill will.

PRAY!   Father, this kingdom of heaven is a strange life.  We find ourselves continually beset with accusations when we do good and needing to bless others in the same.  In the kingdom, we are joined in Christ to the same body.  In the kingdom, what affects one affects the other.  Teach us to be blessors, especially when others in Christ are attacked.  Teach us to turn what the enemy means for ill will into something of blessing.  Teach us to walk in the kingdom.

If we can pray for you regarding anything in your life, please let us know.  Our greatest blessing is to bless others in prayer. .  www.prayermetro.com   Phil@shepherdok.com

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Meet Jesus: The Walk of Persecution Matthew 5:10

meetjesushealerMatthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, … 10: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Walk: To walk with Jesus links us with persecution and suffering.  His walk on earth was full of many sorrows.  Some of those were the normal sorrows all of us endure such as loss of family members, friends being sick and just normal stuff.  Some of those sorrows were persecutions from friends and trusted people and strangers.  One of His greatest persecutors was the religious leaders of the day.  These were men dedicated to God.  These were men, whom the Father worked with daily to grow understanding.  These should have been friends of Jesus and the message He brought.  His message was a fulfillment of thousands of years of promises.  These very people turned on the God they worshipped and persecuted Him.  We are joined to that persecution when we are joined to Him.

Brian’s Exchange: The exchange was painful.  Brian had worked for this company for four years.  He had put in countless weekends and nights.  Calls came at all hours of the day.  Last year, his direct reporting structure had changed.  This new vice president was different.  During his annual review, Brian had gotten two messages.  1. Prayer has no place at work.  2.  You need to be less involved outside of work.  The company doesn’t like it.

Why a Problem Now?  This had never been a problem before.  For years he had been active in the faith community as a volunteer.  Now, his personal life was being attacked by his work management.  There was nothing active at the work place other than visiting with folks over break and lunch.  The attack was devastating.  He really had no experience to compare with this.  The hardest part was that the organization purported to the public to be linked to a large Southern denomination.  To the employees behind the scenes it was something different.

ACT!  How do you return blessing for cursing when you are persecuted?  Scripture tells us to bless those that persecute us.  Have you ever been in the situation of real persecution for your faith?  Think of a way to bless those that persecute you for your faith.

PRAY!   Father, persecution from anyone is hard.  Persecution from those from whom we expect blessing is super hard.  How do we survive?  How do we handle it?  How do we continue in good works even in the middle of the mess?  Teach us, Father.  Show us the path of Christ.  Show us how to reach out and continue to spread the gospel when the environment is hard.  Teach us to pray and bless over those that persecute that they might get connected with Christ themselves.  Help those that persecute us to have the eyes of their understanding enlightened.  Help them to see.  Help them to engage love in all they do.  Bless them abundantly.

 

Meet Jesus: Mercied Matthew 5:7

Matthew 5: 1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, ….. 7: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

 Mercy interests me.  I need a lot of mercy.  All of us do.  So what is mercy?

Mercy is acceptance in spite of my pain and problems and persistent pressures.

Mercy is being received by others regardless.

Mercy is not receiving bad results from bad actions.

Mercy is having a friend I just offended do an act of kindness for me.

Mercy is having my punishment revoked and let go free.

Mercy is someone loving me even when I continually hurt them.

Mercy is good.  It is kind.  It is abundant in Jesus.  He is full of mercy.

When mercy comes to us through others around us, we want to give it back to them.   A merciful person receives mercy from others.

When mercy is held back in a needful situation, we are deeply wounded.  We can decide to respond with mercy and protect our soul.

A really painful act with no mercy was dumped on me last year.  Really, it has taken me many months of pain and speaking blessing and forgiveness over the offenders to even have a day with rest.  The pain of a merciless act can dig deep into our soul.  This one did.  I won’t recant the actions.  They were disloyal, unfaithful, dishonest, and lacked any small amount of mercy.

Yet, I can apply mercy.  It has taken much of my emotional investment and trust in God’s protection for the future of my family, but He is giving me the smile of mercy for these that were unmerciful.  My joy is more certain and more consistent.  The wound of a friend goes deep.  These were friends.  Really, they were friends turned sour.  An unmerciful act of an enemy is expected.  But, a friend of over a decade is not expected to act such a way.

The great news is that we can take from our storehouse of mercy received over life and apply to the ugliest of situations and offenses.  We can dispense mercy in the face of evil and keep the light in our countenance.  Mercy has power.  Mercy received or mercy given  is healing.

ACT!  Mercy is learned by example.  Who around you is always taking care of others even when others take advantage of them?  You think about it and wonder if the person is all connected upstairs.  Why do they keep putting themselves at such risk?  Go spend some time with that person.  Learn from them. 

PRAY!   Father, I hunger for my family to be complete in You.  That is my hunger.  I wish to see all my friends connected to Christ.  There will never be a total satisfaction in me, Father, until I see my community committed to living fully in You and by character and moral principles revealed in Your word.  Satisfy my soul, Lord.  Show me a way to advance the righteousness of the kingdom in my family and friends and community this week.  Don’t let me sit on the sidelines.  Launch me into action.

Meet Jesus: Full of Life John 20:19

refreshJohn 20: 19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,[c] for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

This Resurrection Morning brings freshness to my soul.   Due to some incredible betrayals and organizational insensitivities last year found me looking for new answers. I did not find any new answers.  The old ones are just great.   Life is fresh.  Life is full.  Friendships are plenteous.  Family is solid.  My Good Friend, Jesus, continues walking with me along this narrowed and interesting path.

When Jesus’ closest allies thought they had been left alone, he met them fresh and alive with peace, forgiveness, appointment, empowerment, and a gift of His own Spirit to sustain.  That is resurrection.

So I wrote my prayer in poetry and reflection.   Find hope in here.   Find a new day.  Find a resurrection.

Death came for me.

Morte had me in his sights.

Death narrowed his focus to take my life.

My livelihood was damaged.

My soul was ripped in many pieces.

Friends scattered.

Family mourned.

Few came beside me.

The stench of death is potent.

There were friends and fiends.

Those for whom I had labored turned on me.

They had been made rich and prosperous.

Yet, their greed was too large for their souls.

Blackened in greed and jealousy, they turned fangs to my throat.

I escaped to the caves.

I fled to the crag of the rock.

The Creator met me there.

For months we talked and cried.

He molded a new man.

He made something different something new.

Strong steel has been woven into my forehead.

Titanium plates are fastened all about.

Today is Resurrection Day.

The pain is Passed Over.

Death has lost and met only blood on my doorpost.

Today I walk out of the cave.

Today I walk into the streets with the riches of my enemies.

That which they meant to destroy has become my strong armor.

Their weapons have not met with success.

My Friend has come for me and taken my punishment.

He took the pain.

He took the shame.

He took it all.

That’s what Friend can do.

Mi Buen Amigo.  My Good Friend.

He has surrounded me with angels.

He has surrounded me with hosts of friends.

He has surrounded me with those that support me.

That is what Friend does.

He Passes Over.

He brings life.

He brings peace.

He brings a resurrected morning.