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Beatitudes, Russian Orthodox Icon (detail)

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We are almost finished with our series on The Beatitudes. We began by learning how Jesus set the stage for his sermon. Then we studied the first Beatitude and saw what it means to be poor in spirit. Next, we examined what it looks like to mourn our sinful state. The following week, we learned about meekness and obedience. Then we saw what it looks like to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Three weeks ago we studied mercy. The next week we moved on to becoming pure in heart. Last Tuesday, we learned how to be peacemakers. This week we find out how to react when the sin-filled world attacks our godly living…

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  ~ Matthew 5:10

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…

My husband says, “The world considers peacemakers to be trouble makers.” How true!  He goes on: “When a peacemaker (a believer) shares Truth will a non-believer, that Truth forces the non-believer to confront the sinfulness within himself.  When that happens, people tend to get confrontational with believers.  People of the world want tolerance for their behavior, but will not tolerate the gospel message or the messenger.”  And this is not new – Jesus is speaking on it here, and we read this in Proverbs: “Every way of man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.” (Proverbs 21:2)

… for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Now we come full circle, as this is the promised reward in the first Beatitude. We come to Christ poor in spirit, we are transformed by His saving power and mature as we learn to live righteously.  As we persevere in the faith, we will inevitably encounter persecution for our beliefs and lifestyle. Perseverance is one sign of a true believer.

Romans 8:16-17: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”  So as we saw in week two of our study, each believer receives a share in the kingdom of heaven.  No matter our present trials, we have the certain hope of eternity in a perfect Heaven with our Creator God.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND MEDITATION:

  • In John 15:10, Jesus states: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”  Sometimes it is hard to keep His commands, especially if we are under persecution.  How are you doing in this area?  Are you struggling to keep living righteously in a world that shrugs off morality and truth as “optional”?  Ask the Holy Spirit to encourage you as you persevere in the faith.
  • Is your life lacking persecution?  Could it be that you are conforming too much with the worldly values system around us?  Has the culture influenced you to compromise God’s standards?  Take some quiet, quality time and prayerfully examine your life.  Ask God to reveal the areas of compromise, and to give you the strength and courage to make the necessary changes to align your life with God’s commands.
Father God, persecution is not pleasant.  Oftentimes, we avoid persecution and instead compromise Your standards of righteous living.  Please show us how we do this, and help us to repent.  We want to be the salt and light of righteousness in this dark and dying world.   Help us to boldly live out our faith, accepting that our lifestyle will not be popular or easy, but it glorifies You and that is all that matters.  These things we pray according to Your Will, and in the mighty and precious name of Jesus.  Amen. 
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