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

Social Media Warning: Stripping on a Winter’s Day

Proverbs 25 – Thursday

“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”   Proverbs 25:20

Prov 25-20

Any of us could be forgiven if, by looking at our latest social media feed, we were surrounded by people full of joy living their best life today.  It’s easy to see how perfect our friend’s lives appear when viewed one photo, tweet, or snap at a time.  It’s a perfect and tailored vision of what their lives are.

 

It isn’t uncommon for me to find myself not refreshed by spending a few (many) minutes on my latest Instagram feed, but actually more tired, weary, and heavy.  In fact, recent studies have shown that spending more time on social media platforms actually increases the likelihood of depression.  I know that I’m not the first one to say this, but holding our own lives – with all its boring, sad, weird bits – against the lives we see portrayed every day in these feeds is a pretty easy way to see yourself into a sadder state.  

 

The thing is, we have a hard time stopping.  We delete our Facebook, shut down our Twitter, and delete Snapchat from our phone.  But before long, it’s right back again.

 

I want to talk about this, because I think that this verb from Proverbs speaks as deeply to how we treat ourselves as to how we treat others.

 

The more obvious way to read this verse is to see it as a directive to treat others and their pain with the respect it deserves.  If someone’s in pain, don’t try to gloss over it.  If they’re hurting, quit trying to just make them laugh.  Quit telling me to smile.


And I can easily point out a ton of examples of how we see this same message echoed throughout scripture. The best thing that Job’s friends do isn’t to try to tell him how to fix it all, but to sit with him in the ashes and mourn with him.  Paul tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.  God sent Christ to meet us exactly where we are.  

 

The Christian message is one of meeting people in their pain and sharing its load with them.  Just like the song says, lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend.  I’ll help you carry on… (you’re welcome for getting that stuck in your head).  


But I want to focus on how we can each steal garments away from ourselves and pour vinegar on our own wounds.  Although we can and do find all sorts of crutches in our life, few of them have the alluring power that social media has inspired over the past decade.  Why?  Because unlike many addictions, social media – when misused – can give us the fleeting sensation of being connected with others without any of the benefits of actually engaging in relationship with them.  

 

Because social media also has the ability to be a transformative tool for actual social engagement.  It can help us find a community of friends who will help us bear that load (to help us carry on…get it???).  I don’t want you to mistake this as a tirade against social media usage, but rather as a call to reflect on how we should keep it in its proper orientation.  Where digital connections enhance and strengthen the bonds you’ve built IRL (in real life), it can provide a way to stay connected in meaningful ways like never before.  But if it has become an addiction that keeps us from engaging in the richness of the world around us, then we may find ourselves stripping off our own clothing on a winter’s day.

 

We need to not only treat others emotional trauma with the kind of respect and “sitting-with-ness” it deserves.  But, we need to be attentive to our own emotional needs so that we can feed ourselves with relationships and community that doesn’t just feel engaging, but actually is.  

 

-Graysen Pack

A Shift in Tone

Ezekiel 27-28

ezekiel 27-28 amber

Monday, March 27

Thanks to Rachel Cain’s devotion on Lamentations recently, we know that to lament means to mourn. Here, God tells Ezekiel to mourn Tyre.  To me, this looks like a shift in what we saw yesterday.  In our reading yesterday, God told the rebellious people not to mourn.  Here, God is calling for a season of mourning.

 

At the beginning, we see that Tyre was a great nation.  Some of the vivid imagery is displayed in the visual above.  Tyre is compared to great ship.  The ship is made of the finest wood and cloth; Tyre was a wealthy city who traded with many.

 

However, in 27:26, we see another tonal shift.  The east winds will come and break this beautiful, seemingly perfect ship into pieces.  Although I am by no means a Bible scholar, it seems like a fair assumption to say the east winds represent Babylon.  Tyre will be destroyed by Babylon, just like the nations foretold in Chapter 25.

 

We see this theme continuing in Chapter 28.  God tells Ezekiel in reference to Tyre, “Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of nations” (28:6).  Here, it is evident that pride is once again an obstacle for Tyre.  Their pride blocks their vision of the True God; whether explicitly stated or not, through the actions of Tyre.

 

Application to our lives: Although we may not explicitly state we are a god, do we sometimes un-purposefully act as though we are? Do we act as if we are entitled to a life of abundance?  Do we let our pride obstruct the divine glory of God?  I know that I can act this way sometimes.  When I feel these emotions creeping up on me, I remind myself of my identify I have in Christ, not my identity I have built up in treasures on earth such as pride and wealth.  I think of the disciples and how they left everything to follow Jesus.  This seems to be a theme I keep coming back to in Ezekiel.

-Amber McClain

 

 

 

 

 

2 Things You Always Have – No Matter the Circumstance

Job 9 – 12

don't give up.png

Friday, December 16

In yesterday’s reading and today’s portion of the book we find Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, come to visit him. The trio sit with Job in silence for seven days out of respect for his mourning. On the seventh day, Job speaks, beginning a conversation in which each of the four men shares his thoughts on Job’s afflictions in LONG, poetic statements.

 

To summarize, Job curses the day he was born, comparing life and death to light and darkness. He wishes that his birth had been shrouded in darkness and longs to have never been born. All his bemoaning only seems to intensify his misery. Eliphaz responds that Job, who has comforted other people, now shows that he never really understood their pain. Eliphaz believes that Job’s agony must be due to some sin Job has committed, and he urges Job to seek God’s favor. Bildad and Zophar agree that Job must have committed evil to offend God’s justice and argue that he should strive to exhibit more blameless behavior. Bildad surmises that Job’s children brought their deaths upon themselves. Even worse, Zophar implies that whatever wrong Job has done probably deserves greater punishment than what he has received.

 

The one thing I wish in reading the story of Job is that God had actually given Job reasons that made sense to Job. He never did. He simply said, “I am here and I am God and you aren’t.” What I do know from personal experience and from scripture is that God has settled His love for me, regardless of my circumstances. There is no injustice, grief, pain or loss that could ever take away the love that He displayed for me, a hopeless sinner, in giving His Son as my sacrifice. Regardless of what you have lost, as believers in Christ there are two things we always have. You still have Jesus and you still have a choice. Cling to both until God brings you to a peaceful rest.

-Julie Driskill

 

 

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