God’s blessings in the Beatitudes

I was reading through the beatitudes for my devotions this morning. They are found in. Matthew 5:3-10.

As I was reading through today I realised afresh how God blesses us in our lives. Here are some of my notes.

1. When we recognise our need for Him – He gives us the Kingdom

2. When we mourn – He gives us comfort

3. When we are humble – He gives us the earth as an inheritance

4. When we hunger and thirst for justice – He gives us satisfaction

5. When we show mercy – He shows us mercy

6. When we are pure at heart – He shows us Himself

7. When we work for peace – He calls us His children

8. When we are persecuted – He gives us the Kingdom

So many blessings. So much favour. So much comfort.

One thing I also noticed today was the bookmarks at the beginning and the end. When we recognise our need for Him or are persecuted, He gives us the Kingdom.

Be blessed by the beatitudes today!

Dave

The five crowns for being faithful

Below is some research I am doing for a sermon. I thought I would share it as a blog post…

The Five Crowns, also known as the Five Heavenly Crowns, is a concept in Christian theology that talks about the five crowns that individuals can receive after the Last Judgment.

In the Greek language, stephanos is the word for crown and is translated as such in the Bible, especially in versions descending from the King James Version. These five rewards can be earned by believers, according to the New Testament, as “rewards for faithfulness in this life”.

Crown of Life

James 1:12 – God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.

Revelation 2:10 – Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.

The Crown of Life is referred to in James 1:12 & Revelation 2:10; it is bestowed upon “those who persevere under trials.” Jesus references this crown when he tells the Church in Smyrna to “not be afraid of what you are about to suffer…Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Incorruptible Crown

1 Corinthians 9:25 – All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

In the KJV it calls this prize the “Incorruptible Crown”. It is also known as the Imperishable Crown. This epistle, written by the Apostle Paul, deems this crown “imperishable” in order “to contrast it with the temporal awards Paul’s contemporaries pursued”. It is therefore given to those individuals who demonstrate “self-denial and perseverance”.

Crown of Righteousness

2 Timothy 4:8 – And now the prize awaits me–the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.

The Crown of Righteousness is mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:8 and is promised to “those who love and anticipate” the Second Coming of Christ. These Christians desire intimacy with God.

Crown of Glory

1 Peter 5:4 – And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.

The Crown of Glory is discussed in 1 Peter 5:4 and is granted to Christian clergy, who “shepherd the flock in unselfish love being a good example to others” 1 Peter 5:2-3

Crown of Exultation/Rejoicing

1 Thessalonians 2:19 – After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown [of rejoicing – KJV] as we stand before our Lord Jesus when He returns? It is you!

Philippians 4:1 – Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

The Crown of Exultation is also known as the Crown of Rejoicing. Talked about in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and Philippians 4:1, it is given to people who engage in evangelism of those outside the Christian Church. In the New Testament, Paul earns this crown after winning the Thessalonians to faith in Jesus.

So, we will be rewarded for our service in this life. Everything we do for God will be added to our account. Now I must admit, generally I am not motivated by rewards, I serve God out of my love for Him and my desire to please Him. But on the days when it is hard, it helps me to know that God sees my efforts and He will reward me.

Love hurts at first sometimes

2 Corinthians 7:8-11 NLT – I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. [9] Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. [10] For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. [11] Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.

In this passage the Apostle Paul explains why he sent a strong corrective letter to the Corinthians. And why it was so harsh in its wording.

Although Paul felt sorry at first, he knew he had to speak the truth in love. This is because he wanted God’s best for the church at Corinth and for the individual people.

Sometimes we need to be told firmly and honestly. It may hurt at first, but it really is for our own good.

I have been on the giving end and the receiving end of harsh words. It pained me to be the messenger and it pained me to be the receiver. Probably equally for both!

But with God the ultimate goal is not our long term pain, it is repentance and a life dedicated to God and His Kingdom.

We all need to live in that place of surrender to God. And sometimes we need to a kick to jolt us back to where we should be living.

As I type I am reminded of two verses from Proverbs and Psalms…

“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Joyful are those you discipline, Lord, those you teach with your instructions.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭94:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Love can hurt at first sometimes, but long term it is worth it.

Blessings,

Dave

A key to staying pure

In the above passage from Psalm 119:9-16 it gives us some clues to staying pure in a world that tries to contaminate us and shipwreck our faith.

These clues all revolve around God’s Word – the Bible.

1. Obedience – the writer wants to obey God’s commands. This is a great place to start in staying pure – the desire for obedience.

2. Staying – next we see the writer declares they do not want to wander away. They want to stay on track with God.

3. Hidden – the next key is having God’s Word hidden in the heart. This means to hold it deeply inside or to cherish it.

4. Teach – in verse 11 the writer asks God to teach them His decrees. There is a deep desire to learn, grow and be taught.

5. Recite – verse 13 then moves on to reciting or speaking out God’s Word. This helps to hear it differently when the Bible is read out aloud.

6. Rejoice – the next key is genuinely rejoicing over God’s Word. The Bible gives us so much. Our salvation alone is worth infinitely more than riches.

7. Study – studying God’s Word is so much more than reading it. The best investment we will ever make in time spent studying the Bible.

8. Remember – lastly this passage reminds us not to forget God’s Word. Memorising Scripture is key to staying pure. Jesus quoted Scripture when tempted by the devil.

There are a number of things we can do in this life to remain pure. Much of it revolves around digging in to God’s Word – the Bible.

If we love it, commit to reading and studying it, we will be strong in our faith. This combined with prayer and relying on the Holy Spirit helps us to remain pure.

Blessings,
Dave

Your unfailing love

Psalm 36:5-9 NLT – Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. [6] Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD. [7] How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. [8] You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. [9] For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.

I read this passage as a part of my devotions this morning. I had to read it over and over. I love the way it talks about God’s unfailing love. It gives us a picture of just how deep and wide and vast it is. It even says that all humanity finds shelter in the shadow of His wings and He provides for us all out of His abundance. I couldn’t imagine a world without God. I wouldn’t want to! He truly is the fountain of life and the light by which we see.

Prayer

Lord God, thank You for Your unfailing love. It is so precious to me. I thank You that You provide for our needs out of the abundance and I can find shelter under Your wings. You truly are the fountain of life and the light of my life. Amen.

A day is coming

Zechariah 14:9 NLT – And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one LORD-his name alone will be worshiped.

This verse talks about a day when all false gods that people worship and all false religions will be no more. There will be no cults, no worldly charismatic leaders who deceive people and no doubt who the true God is. It will be a day when only He is worshipped and He will rule and reign over all the earth. As a Jesus follower I look forward to this day. How about you?

Prayer

Dear God, I thank You that You are the one true God who reigns supreme. You are far above all other false gods and worldly leaders. I look forward to the day when You come in power and glory and You alone are the one who is worshipped. Amen.

A triple-braided cord

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. [10] If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. [11] Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? [12] A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

I have found over the years it helps to have good people around you. Having family, friends, workmates who have your back makes a big difference. As today’s passage says having people around you can help you to succeed, help you up if you fall down, keep you warm in cold trying conditions, and even fight with you if needed. It reminds us of the importance of having good people around us by using the image of a triple-braided cord being stronger. Three interwoven cords are way stronger than a single thread.

Prayer

Lord, I pray that I will always have good people around me. I thank You for the good people who are now in my life. I pray that You will help us to help each other and as we follow You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Great hope and holding firm

Hebrews 11:13-16 NLT – All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. [14] Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. [15] If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. [16] But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

In Hebrews 11 it lists some of the heroes of faith. It talks about people like Abraham, Sarah, Enoch, Abel, Moses, Jacob and Joseph and the amazing faith they showed.

In verses 13-16 it gives us two tips that helped them to be heroes of faith.

1. Firstly, they had a great hope. They were looking forward to all the things God had promised. They believed what God said was yes and amen.

2. Secondly, they held firm to end. Even though they felt nomads and foreigners in this world, they held firm. We know this because it says they died still believing.

All of the heroes listed in Hebrews 11 did amazing things. If you haven’t read it in a while, I would encourage you to re-read it slowly and take it all in.

Two things that helped them was their great hope and decision to hold firm until the end.

Because of their commitment, we are reading about them thousdands of years later!

Blessings,
Dave

Unscrambling life

I love this simple image and what it says. It talks about the process of working out our lives and finding our place in this world.

I know for me it took longer the first time to work things out and find my place.

Then over time life throws curve balls and your cube gets mixed up a bit again. But the cool thing is it is easier to fix over time as you learn the pattern like with a real rubik’s cube.

One key for me was walking with Jesus. Once I came to know Him, I found that I could see a future where things would be clearer.

I also found I didn’t always have to work out the next moves myself. I could pray and ask for help or wisdom. And Jesus always came through.

If you are going through a time where the colours are all mixed up, I would encourage you look to Jesus and ask Him to help you sort things out.

In Matthew 11:28-30 He encourages us to come to Him. He says…

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Jesus invites us to Himself. He wants to give us rest, He wants to teach us, and He wants to help us make sense of our lives.

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, I pray that You will help me unscramble my life. I pray that You will give me wisdom and understanding and help me know what to do next. I pray that You will take my weariness and heavy burdens and exchange them for rest and peace. Teach me Your ways so I can follow You. Amen.

ALL and the Great Commission

Matthew 28:18-20 NLT – Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. [19] Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. [20] Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

When we look at the Great Commission we see there are five “ALLs” in this passage.

1. ALL authority is heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus

2. The great commission to go and make disciples of ALL nations

3. Baptise the new disciples in the name of ALL of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit

4. We are to teach new disciples ALL the commands Jesus gave us

5. Jesus promises to be with us ALL-ways

I like the way the Great Commision has bookends. Jesus starts by telling us He has ALL authority and He finishes with He will be with us ALL-ways.

In between that He tells us what we need to do – go to ALL nations to make disciples, baptize them and teach them ALL of what Jesus commanded.

For me seeing the five ALLs helps me to remember what I need to do as a Christian and it keeps the Great Commision in the forefront of my mind.

Blessings,
Dave