Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sunday: Blessed are the persecuted

The downloadable pdf is now available on www.fbckilleen.com or


Why persecution follows peacemaking
Why is a believer persecuted? It is for righteousness sake.
D. Martyn Lloyd Jones wrote “it is interesting…that this particular Beatitude follows immediately the reference to the peacemakers…He is persecuted because he is a certain type of person.”
Not exactly a compelling reason to strive for righteousness or peacemaking is it? But it is true throughout Scripture. Why did Cain kill Abel? Why did Saul pursue David? What put Daniel in the lions’ den or the three Hebrew boys in a fiery furnace? What did Job do to deserve what happened to him?
Many times in life and in the Bible, we see that doing the right thing often leads to unpopularity in the world. There is a reason for that. This is not our home, as we live in a fallen world and God has prepared us for the kingdom of heaven.
Same reward, different degree
  Secondly, look at the reward. We are back where we started. After climbing the steps of the Beatitudes, have we come to the bottom rung? Hardly! Look at Matt. 20:1-16. Laborers hired at the end of the day got exactly what those who worked for at the beginning of the day. They complained, but the owner said, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?”
   When we see all that we have suffered for righteousness’ sake compared to what we might have received without the salvation through Christ, no wonder we will cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus. The reward of the kingdom of heaven is no more deserved at the top of the staircase than it was at the bottom. A true servant of Christ will say as the servant He spoke of said in Luke 17:7-10, “We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.”

So is there a point in attempting to live the Beatitudes, if we are going to get the same reward as everyone else? By all means! Persecution has the same reward of the kingdom of heaven as being poor in spirit, but so much more.
Matthew 13:43 explains the story of the wheat and tares, “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” God will remember our labor and our persecution and He will reward us. Matthew 5:12 explains further, “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Verses about God rewarding us.
God will reward you openly for righteous works done secretly.
4 Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you. 6 When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you. 18 No one will suspect you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in secret. And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ. 18 The nations were angry with you, but now the time of your wrath has come. It is time to judge the dead and reward your servants. You will reward your prophets and your holy people, all who fear your name, from the least to the greatest.
 (Matt. 6:4, 6, 18, Col. 3:24, Rev. 11:18, 22:12).
Rewards for small acts will never be lost. Salvation is free, but rewards are according to our works, especially loving our enemies.
42 And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded. 8 they will be rewarded individually, according to their own hard work. 35 Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don't be concerned that they might not repay. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked. 
 (Matthew 10:42, 1 Corinthians 3:8, Luke 6:35)
Some outwardly righteous works won’t receive any heavenly rewards.

1 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.   

Why are you being persecuted?
   Finally, let us note again what righteousness is and why that is the source of our persecution. It is not the act of being noble or good or even being what the world would call “right.” The Biblical definition of righteousness is “right standing with God,” and not with the world.
  This is not Murphy’s Law of “No good deed will go unpunished.” This is Kingdom’s Law that says that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking (that is, living selfishly), but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” In Matthew 5:10, He says “for righteousness’ sake,” and then in the very next verse, He says, “for My sake,” making persecution for righteousness and for Christ as being equal.
Blessed are you who have spent time in this devotional this week
for Christian Home Week. May God richly bless you and
make you a blessing to others. Amen.
Sunday’s “Be-Attitude”
Kid’s Korner by Morgan Perry
Jesus knows exactly what it feels like to be “persecuted for righteousness.” He was cruelly and harshly treated because he had done everything right, because he was the son of God. Jesus wants us to do what is right, to share how God wants us to make good choices, and generally live our life in a way that makes Him proud. Sometimes, when we do this, people will make fun of us. Here, in this Beatitude, Jesus wants us to understand that He will bless our life for being faithful to Him and our Heavenly Father.
Have you ever felt persecuted, treated cruelly or harshly, by someone?
How did that make you feel?
Have you every persecuted someone else?
Take a moment to think about how that made them feel.
Is it easy or hard to do what is right?
Pray for God to help make you strong, able to know what to do to make Him proud!

Saturday: Blessed are the Peacemakers

The downloadable pdf is now available on www.fbckilleen.com or
 

From Purity to Peace; from seeing God to sons of God

What is a peacemaker? Is it only helping others to be reconciled with one another? If that is all, why would that alone result in us being called children of God? The word “peacemaker” is unique to this verse. The closest comparison in the New Testament is found in Col. 1:20 as it is applied to Christ.

18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

Did you catch it? No, not the underlined words of making peace--the other part of the verses, with words like “firstborn” “reconcile” and “the Father.” Isn’t it amazing that the only two places in Scripture where peace-making is explained, it also relates to the family relationship?

Is there a connection? Jesus is not saying “Happy are those who help people get along with each other.” He is talking about making peace with our heavenly Father, and how that gets us to be called His children!

If you have all of the other beatitudes, that is great. But we must help others make peace with God! This is higher than only having our own purity of heart because it brings purity to others. It brings others to Christ, reconciling them and making “peace through the blood of the cross.”

Peace on earth is not lasting. Peace made with Christ is everlasting! “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” (John 14:27). He is not saying “Blessed are people who make peace like the world makes peace.” Jesus said there would never be lasting worldly peace, instead in the world we would have trouble. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).

Questions: Combine John 14:27 with John 14:1. What should keep our hearts from being troubled, afraid and essentially give us peace? In John 16:33, What did Jesus say he did to bring peace to believers?

Things that make for your peace

There is nothing that breaks the heart of Jesus more than when people fail to make peace with His heavenly Father. There is Biblical proof that this is true in Luke 19:41-44.

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Do you want to see an absence of worldly peace? Bring up the name of Jesus. Jesus spoke about worldly peace but not in a positive sense.

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; 36 and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Matt. 10:34.39

Paul also made it abundantly clear that making peace means bringing people to salvation, reconciliation between God and man. And that results in us being called the children of God! Read Ephesians 2:

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances,   so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,  16  and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity… 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God

Are you called a child of God?

What does it take to be a child of God? Clearly, it is by grace received through faith, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” (John 1:12-13).

But what does it take to be called the children of God? To be called a child of God is when others see you as a “chip off the old block.” We are called children of God because we are doing what the Father is doing. It means we are acting like God and bringing peace between humanity and God. Read 1 John 1:1 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

We are called children of God because we follow Him, in faith and then in obedience. We are never more like Christ than when we reconcile the world to make peace with God.

Saturday’s “Be-Attitude”  
Kid’s Korner by Morgan Perry
Jesus wants us to be “peacemakers.” Being a “peacemaker” means that you will help people get along and be friends. In addition you will take time to tell people about how Jesus wants us to treat each other when we have problems. Although it may be hard at times, we should NEVER talk unkindly about others, because we should not cause fights.
Has anyone ever hurt you so much that you wanted to hurt them back?
How did you feel when you were going through that?
According to this Be-Attitude, how does Jesus want us to handle these situations?