Blessed are…


Luke 6

Recently, both my Sunday School and Wednesday night groups went through the first part of Matthew, chapter 5. This is the beginning of Matthew’s rendition of “The Sermon on the Mount”, and it starts with “the Beatitudes”. It is a list of traits that show who are the blessed ones. When you read the list of the eight “Blessed Attitudes” in Matthew, you could easily see implicit commands. Be more poor in spirit, be more gentle, hunger and thirst for righteousness better. Something like that. 

In the recent years, I read an interesting take on the Beatitudes in Matthew. This author said that the first four are brokenness and oppression that no one chooses, and that God is on the side of those oppressed ones. This would seem clear with “mourn” (Matthew 5:4); but if poor in spirit means “impoverished of God’s goodness” rather than “humble”, we could see that this would be a rather impressive switch. 

The reason I bring up this reading in Matthew is because Luke doesn’t need a ton of interpretive work to see the blessedness of the broken. In your reading you read Luke 6. This is part of the passage we read:

20 And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22 Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.

23 Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. 

24 But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.

25 Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.

Blessed are the poor. Not the poor in spirit, the humble, the ones who recognize their own spiritual poverty.

Jesus blesses those who don’t have coins to rub together. 

Because God wants to give them a kingdom. 


Blessed are you who hunger. No hunger for righteousness, thirst for truth, and desire the goodness of God. 

Jesus blesses those whose stomachs are growling. 

Because God wants to give them food for now and eternity.


Blessed are you who weep. Not mourn over the sins of the world and the things that drag us away from God. 

Jesus blesses those who cry because of stress, pain, heartache, and loss. 

Because God will give them laughter. 

Blessed are you when you are hated because of Jesus. 

Jesus blesses those who are only trying to follow in his footsteps in the middle of a world that may hate them. 

Because God has a great reward in heaven, waiting to be given. 


And Jesus follows up with some strong language : woe to the rich, the well-fed, the laughing, and the well-thought-of. Those who have all the blessings this world has to offer don’t share any in the world to come. 

What does this have to do with you?

Jesus clearly doesn’t want us to suffer needlessly. He never wants anyone to suffer needlessly.

And part of what we are called to do is to end the needless suffering around us. 


Jesus told his disciples “you will always have the poor with you”, and what that text is really saying is “never stop giving to those who need help.” (Deuteronomy 15:11) 

God is on the side of the poor; He will bless them in his kingdom, but he is using YOU to alleviate their poverty now. 

Jesus told his disciples “you give them something to eat” (Luke 9:13), and the early church made sure that every person was fed and taken care of. (Acts 2:44-46)

God is on the side of the hungry; He will give them food in his kingdom, but he is using YOU to feed them now. 


Jesus always encouraged and comforted his disciples (John 14), and the church lived life together, weeping together so they could rejoice together (Romans 12:15). 

God is on the side of the weeping; He will give them comfort in his kingdom, but he is using YOU to comfort them now. 


Jesus said “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) and that “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)

God is on the side of those hated for his son; He will bless them beyond all measure in his kingdom. 


Your call is to be a great blessing to all those whom God desires to bless. May you bring blessing wherever you go; you are blessed to be a blessing

-Jake Ballard

You can read or listen to today’s Bible reading at BibleGateway – Numbers 31-32 and Luke 6

Faith and Blessings

In Exodus 17 the Israelites again ran out of water and are ready to stone Moses if he didn’t give them water right away, and again God gives them water miraculously, but again the location gets a telling name, it was called “test” and “arguing”.  I really wonder what the names of some of the locations in our lives would be called?  Would your living room be named “disobedient”, or would your kitchen be named “hateful”?  Would your office be named “gossip”?  Would our churches be called “whitewashed tombs” if God was in charge of putting the letters in the sign on the road?  The way that we treat others can be a test, and every time we fail those tests, or do not trust in God, or grumble and complain about things it puts up big red signs all over the place and those outside of the church can see them.   

Luckily in Mark 5 we have examples of extraordinary faith and the blessings that followed.

Mark 5

25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

I am sure many of you are familiar with my Mom, Beth Mattison, and her battle with cancer from 2016 to 2020. She had faith in God completely and we all prayed hard for her, and I firmly believe that God answered our prayers and helped reduce her cancer in 2016 when things did not look good, and he gave us four extra years with her and let her meet her children’s spouses and see her first grandchild.  God honors faith in this life, and ultimately he will reward our faith in him during his Kingdom.

Later we see several examples of people not seeing God at work around them, with Jesus’ neighbors not believing in him because they knew his family.  We then have another incident on water.

Mark 6

47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning[i] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 50 They were all terrified when they saw him.

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here![j]51 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, 52 for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.

During my Mom’s fight with cancer it would have been very easy for us to grumble or complain, or not see God at work, but it is important to soften our hearts and trust in God and see him at work around us.  

Chris Mattison

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 17-18 and Mark 6

All Glory to God

In Ezekiel 28 through 31 God continues to condemn all of the other nations around Israel for their evil.  He dedicates a lot of time to Egypt because they did not give glory to God for the blessings that he had given to them.

“9 Egypt will become a desolate wasteland. Then they will know that I am the Lord.“‘Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it,” 10 therefore I am against you and against your streams,”

The ancient Egyptians had stumbled upon and settled in one of the most fertile areas on earth and because of the natural flooding of the Nile river at the right times of the year had prospered and grown in numbers and in power in the ancient world.  For all of these blessings they did not thank God and instead had taken the glory for themselves, with their rulers counting themselves as one of the gods, and they took credit for the river and the life that it brought.  

Today we live in a blessed nation that has a history of being mostly God fearing and because of that history God has blessed us for many generations and that has led to us being the most powerful nation on earth.  We do not need to be afraid of foreign nations invading our borders because of the large oceans on either side of our continent, and we do not need to worry about having enough food because the fertile lands of the midwest grow an abundance of food and feed.  We need to remember our roots though, and always give glory to God for the blessings he has given us.  The Egyptians were on top of the world for many hundreds of years and might have thought that their glory days would never end, and likewise many in America feel like we are invincible, but if we stop serving God and giving him glory that can all dry up very quickly.  Covid has shown us how quickly jobs and health can be lost, and how quickly life can change in strange ways.  So let this be a wakeup call to us that we cannot be complacent in the good times, we cannot forget about the one who made the world and gave us all of the good things we have in life.  We can also take this slower time during Covid to dedicate more time to God and work on strengthening our relationship with Him.

Chris and Katie-Beth Mattison 

Thankfulness and Greater Blessing

Ruth 2 13

Ruth 2:13-23

Ruth exemplified a beautiful thankful heart in the beginning of this passage. She recognizes that she is being blessed by the customs of a culture where she really has no right to reap (pun intended) the benefits. Ruth thanks Boaz for treating her with such kindness, tells him that he has put her heart at ease and hopes that she will continue to find favor in his eyes. He immediately responds to her humble heart with greater blessings that are above and beyond the custom. He invites her to eat with him — a prominent and wealthy man — as well as indicating to his servants in verse 15, As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up and don’t rebuke her.”
When Ruth returns to Naomi with the fruit of her labor, Naomi can tell that she had been truly blessed in her work and that someone had shown her great kindness. Here we see that Boaz is actually a close relative and Naomi and she determines that he is being kind and gracious due to the familial ties.  Naomi blesses Boaz for taking notice of Ruth and encourages her to stay with Boaz’ female servants as she knows no harm will come to her while she works in his fields. I believe the most important aspect of this passage that we can take away is thankfulness and humility.  Ruth is a hard worker who also shows great thankfulness in how she speaks to Boaz.  Not in every situation are we returned greater blessing when we have a thankful heart but we are called to be thankful to God. Ruth is really living out her faith by being grateful. Take a moment to search verses in the Bible on thankfulness. The Psalms especially are riddled with praising God and being thankful to him! One way to love God more deeply is cultivating this spirit of thankfulness and gratitude. In prayer today really thank God for who HE is and what HE has done — especially through Jesus to provide a way for salvation and our hope in the coming Kingdom of God.
Praise the Lord, all nations!

    Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
    and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord! (117:1-2)

-Shelby Upton

God’s Blessings

ruth 2 12

Ruth 2:1-14

Ruth saw an abundance of God’s blessings as she followed him. In the Jewish law it was custom to let the poor and widows glean from the edges of the field in Israel. Ruth, abiding by this custom went into fields where Boaz had authority. When he saw her he asked who she was in Ruth 2:5. When the other workers commented on Ruth’s heritage and her work Boaz was impressed. He could see by her actions, the dedication and devotion she held to God and her family to protect and care for Naomi.
In response to this realization Boaz heaped a blessing on Ruth. He encouraged her to stay in his fields under his protection and gave her drink although she was a foreigner. By her loyalty Ruth was blessed by Boaz in very tangible ways.
Ruth 2:8-13 says,
“Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Don’t go and gather grain in another field, and don’t leave this one, but stay here close to my female servants. See which field they are harvesting, and follow them. Haven’t I ordered the young men not to touch you? When you are thirsty, go and drink from the jars the young men have filled.” She bowed with her face to the ground and said to him, “Why are you so kind to notice me, although I am a foreigner? ” Boaz answered her, “Everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husband’s death has been fully reported to me: how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and how you came to a people you didn’t previously know. May the Lord reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
Ruth’s dedication to her family and God was seen very clearly by Boaz. In response to her actions he was moved to protect her and care for her. In these ways today our dedication to God can invoke such respect and provision. As we pursue God it is not beyond the realm of expectation to see God working in our lives especially as we make sacrifices to love and serve him. Have you seen God or others bless you as you have made sacrifices and commitments to serve him?
-Shelby Upton

Reflect His Goodness

psalm 107-22

It’s been a week of thankfulness – recognizing God as the Giver of All Good Gifts, getting to know Him more and more through the gift of His Word, gratefully accepting the gift of His Son, Jesus, and being thankful even in the midst of a difficult time.

Now for the great yearly challenge – how do we continue the thankful thinking all year?

Perhaps the following quote from J.F. Kennedy will provide some help.  “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  Show your gratitude, not just by saying, “Thank You” to God and to others, but by living a thankful lifestyle.  If we are deeply thankful for the blessings that have been given we will naturally want to share those blessings with others.  Opening our home to others, tithing to our church, caring for those experiencing difficult trials, and sharing with those who have less material blessings are all ways we can express our gratitude for what has been given.  We can reflect His goodness.  He has given to us.  We will give to others.

And, most importantly, when we are truly grateful for what God has done, for who He is and for His plan of salvation, for the gift of His Son and the forgiveness given, for the Kingdom hope – we will want to share it with others.  Inviting a friend to church, sharing a devotion with the family, praying with someone struggling, telling what God has done for you, giving a Bible, donating to missions (*), posting Scripture on your social media, home, office and locker walls, and the list goes on.

Read over Romans 10.  The world is full of people who do not know the gifts they could be receiving right now – who have not heard the message.  It is our job to, “Sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy.” (Psalm 107:22).  What thank offerings will you present?  How will you tell of His works?  We are not responsible for other’s reaction to the saving message.  Just as Moses and Isaiah met up with resistance and obstinate people – so will we when we exercise our beautiful feet (Romans 10:15).

Look over your thankful list (go ahead and write it down if you haven’t already this week).  Prayerfully consider how you can show your appreciation for each gift.  How can you pass along the joy you’ve received?  How will you reflect His goodness?

-Marcia Railton

 

(*) Be watching for the soon-to-be released Lord’s Harvest International Gift Catalog for some great ideas on how to help provide for needs on our missionary fronts (Bibles, church buildings or rent, a pastor’s transportation, an orphan’s or widow’s care, seed & fertilizer, etc….) 

The Way of Wisdom – Prov. 1-5


Good morning everyone! First I want to start off today, by saying that I am so glad you decided to read along with us this week, and I hope you have gained something from it. Today, I am going to give you a quick summary of the week, and a challenge for you, as you go forward. 

Monday, we read through Proverbs chapter 1, and I talked about where wisdom comes from and why we NEED wisdom. Wisdom comes from knowledge, and knowledge comes from the fear of the LORD. We are also given wisdom by our parents and our elders, those that have lived before us. 

On Tuesday we read through Proverbs 2, and I again talked about where wisdom comes from, and why it is beneficial to us. Wisdom is a two way street, and requires work on our part. God will give wisdom to those who ask for it, but they have to ask for insight. If you hold wisdom in the highest regard, like hidden treasure, and ask for it, crying aloud for God, he will give it to you, that you may live. The benefits of having wisdom in our lives and in our hearts, is that are guarded and protected, and we listen to those who have gone before us. 

Wednesday we read through Proverbs 3, and I talked about quite a few different pieces of advice written in this chapter. My favorite verse from this chapter is verse 3, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”. We are called to love, love the LORD, love our neighbors, love our enemies, love. Besides the memory verse this week, which also comes from this chapter, (Proverbs 3:5-6) I encourage you to remember; let love and faithfulness be your guide, and your comfort. Keep them close to you, and wear them proudly.

Thursday we read through Proverbs 4 and I talked about a few specific pieces of advice that Chapter 3 gives us. There were quite a few, but in this summary I want to remind you of that last verses in Chapter 4, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” We need to be careful of what we say, and we need to guard our hearts, because everything that we are comes from it.

Finally, on Friday we read Proverbs 5, which was a warning about adultery, but I want you all to realize that this chapter applies to all temptations. We need not focus on what other people have, because we need to be open to seeing and noticing the great things that God has already given to us, or that he is in the process of blessing us with. Our God is amazing, and he knows all that we need and want, and he will take care of us in whatever way follows his will. 

Today I want to leave you with a challenge. Memorize Proverbs 3:5-6, but also ask your grandparent, or great-aunt/great-uncle for some advice this week, about almost anything. Try to recognize the wisdom they are trying to give you. I am certain that you will make their day a little brighter, and you just might learn something new and important. 

Thank you for reading with me this week. Have a great weekend, and God Bless 

~Jana

Pursuing Wisdom – Prov. 1

If you have not yet seen the video for the beginning of this week’s readings, I encourage you to go ahead and watch it. As a reminder, this week’s memory verse is Proverbs 3:5-6.
This week I am going to be talking mostly about wisdom.
Today I will be specifically talking about what wisdom is, where it comes from, and why we need it and need to respect it. Proverbs 1 tells us that wisdom comes from knowledge, and knowledge begins with the fear of the LORD. 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” This chapter also says that we need to listen to our father’s and mother’s because their teachings have knowledge and wisdom in them. Verse 9 says, “They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Where are most tiaras or crowns held? A box, or a glass case- this means that those physical items are taken care of very well, and protected. We should treat teachings from our parents the same way, as they are just as valuable as tangible objects that we hide away, or protect fiercely.
The rest of the chapter talks about why we NEED to have wisdom. The Bible says that there will be people who are stuck in their wicked ways and will try to entice you into going along with them. They will say things like, “we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; cast lots with us; we will all share the loot” (verses 13-14) Now obviously in this passage, these people sound like they are up to no good, but there are people in our daily lives that will try to lead us astray, and they will be better at covering up their true intentions. Have you ever had a friend say, “Oh they changed their mind, they don’t want to play with us today.” but deep down you know that your other friend was really excited to spend time with you? Have you ever heard someone say, “One little sip can’t hurt anyone?” even though you know that your parents don’t allow you to drink pop, or you aren’t old enough to have wine. These are the exact same as what Proverbs is warning us against. When these things are said to you, you probably have a weird feeling in your stomach, and this is wisdom. Wisdom helps you to discern when someone is trying to lead you away from the path you are called to. This passage tells us that those who ignore what wisdom is telling us will kill them. “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them and the complacency of fools will destroy them” (verse 32).
However, the very end of Proverbs 1 gives hope to those who gain knowledge, and work to learn and understand wisdom. Proverbs 1:33, “but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease without fear of harm.” If we trust in the knowledge and the wisdom taught to us by our parents, and ultimately from fear of the LORD, we will have safety and should not be afraid of harm.

 

Wisdom is an important tool that every Christian should practice, and learn. Wisdom will help us find our way on our path with God, wisdom will help us to trust in the plans he has for us, and wisdom will protect us, in many ways.
Thank you for reading today. Tomorrow, we will delve even more into where wisdom comes from, and what it can do, and why it is important for us in our daily lives. May you have a wonderful day, and God Bless.
~Jana

How Generous Are You?

2 Corinthians 8-10

2corinthians-9-15-asv-preview

Saturday, June 24

 

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.           2 Corinthians 9:6

 

Paul has been talking about a collection of money that the Corinthians had promised to gather and prepare for the poor believers in Jerusalem, and he has sent certain brothers to come retrieve it and bring it to Judea (9:3-5). The collection was to be a free-will offering of monetary gifts for a relief aid to subsidize the needs of the saints in Jerusalem who were suffering.

 

To put his point bluntly, Paul uses an agricultural metaphor to convey the principle he desires his readers to understand. If little is sown, little will be reaped. If much is sown, much will be reaped. Now what is Paul teaching here. Is it that giving away a little money will result in you getting little money in life. Or giving away much money will result in receiving much money. Not at all. While Paul is openly encouraging the Corinthians to give of their abundance to help the needy believers in Jerusalem, his axiomatic metaphor is intended to set the premise that whoever does not want to give should not expect to receive, but whoever is generous should expect to receive generously. It is a simply matter of reciprocity that Paul is getting at.

 

According to the wisdom of Proverbs, the person who is willing to give will prosper and do well, and the person who is stingy and selfish will end up falling into poverty.

 

Proverbs 11:24

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.

 

Proverbial wisdom is designed to demonstrate a general principle or prescribed attitude that its readers would do well to adopt. It should not be viewed as enforcing a formulaic approach to life. Even Jesus taught that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The choice for the free-will act of financial giving will result in blessings and provisions in your life. James also employs this principle of sowing and reaping when he says, “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (Jas. 3:18).

 

If we think that our giving of time, energy, or money is simply that—time, energy, and money—we will miss the way that God will turn that generosity back upon in like measure but perhaps in a different form than we think it might look. And also, often times in even exceeding degrees than the level of our demonstration of love in giving.

 

Be generous and give willingly and cheerfully, and trust that God will continue to provide your needs and bless you for your generous heart.

 

Proverbs 22:9

Whoever has a generous eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.

 

-Jerry Wierwille

 

(Photo Credit: http://www.biblepub.com/downloads/wallpapers/preview?w=2corinthians-9-15-asv)

Broken Down

Jeremiah 3-4

jer-3-22-ww-splitshire-9x

Monday, February 27

In Chapters 3-4  Jeremiah wanted a spiritual turnaround for sinful, wasteful lives.  He pictured this as a plowing of ground, formerly hard and unproductive because of weeds, in order to make it useful for sowing.

 

Chapters 3-4 are a description of God sending enemies to break up and punish the sinful people who are not seeing their sin.

God sent armies that were powerful like lions and took away blessings that they no longer recognized from God.

This is actually mercy from God so that these people will not die in their sin but recognize how far they have turned from God.

 

Do you recognize when God is trying to bring you back?

Are their things that you see as hardships that maybe can be useful to your spiritual life?

– Andy Cisneros

(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/jeremiah-3-and-4/)