The Sermon on the Mount -One Blessing After Another-

“Memorizing entire books or passages will keep intact God’s succession of ideas, without interruption. Many individual verses, memorized out of context, can give a false meaning…”

Memorizing entire books or passages will keep intact God’s succession of ideas, without interruption. Many individual verses, memorized out of context, can give a false meaning”

Janet Pope, His Word in my Heart


“When the Lord Jesus preached His famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, He began with the Beatitudes. Too many people read these as though they were a set of impossible hurdles. But Jesus was beginning His message as God loves to begin all His gospel work—with promises.

We are told in Scripture that the one who begins a good work in us will also be faithful to fulfill it. But we may also reason backwards—the one who will fulfill the good work is the one who began it. If He gives us the gift of seeing Himself, He also gives the gift of enabling us to be peacemakers. If He gives us the filling, He also gave us the hunger and thirst for righteousness to begin with.

This is the work that God gives us to do—that we believe in the one He has sent. The beginning, middle and end of all our duties is to trust in Him, to believe in Him, to rest in Him. Why? Because the just shall live by faith.”         Douglas Wilson

Becky

*Please feel free to download today’s image for your personal use.

More on this series:

A Project for the Busiest Months of the Year: Memorizing the Sermon on the Mount
Memorizing the Sermon on the Mount: A Printable Schedule

The Greatest Temptation in the Wilderness

Jan Havicksz c.1660

These are some reflections I gleaned this morning while reading Psalm 78 (especially verses 18-24 ).

We are just like Israel, whose greatest temptation in the desert land was to test God. We are like them when we are led by the Spirit to the wilderness and found ourselves starting to demand from Him food,  pleasures, and the same kind of satisfactions that the world, in which we were once enslaved, offers us. It is that longing in our heart, deep within, that rebels in the quiet, and speaks against God saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” that reveals our sin.

See what is there? We doubt God’s goodness, His sovereignty, His promises. We start craving for the world because the satisfaction it offers is immediate. We forget that even in the wilderness He sustains his own. We forget that He has said that we are engraved in the palm of His hand, and that we are the apple of His eye.

How can we forget  that He has already provided Jesus, the Living Water, so that we won’t thirst anymore? Our Lord Jesus was struck on the cross just as the rock in the desert and life, living water,  gushed out and streams overflowed. Why do we long to drink water from broken cisterns, from poisoned rivers?

How can we forget that Jesus himself said that He is the Bread of Life? How can we long for something else? Only He has words of eternal life. Only when we come to Him and eat at his table is that we will be truly satisfied. Only and only then.

How easily it is for us to stop believing in God and in His saving power. He will never, never, never let His people die in the wilderness. Never.

The Lord is our Shepherd,
we shall not want.

The Lord is our Father,
we shall never be abandoned.

The Lord is our Life,
we shall not die.

The Lord is our Hope,
we shall not despair.

The Lord is our Refuge,
we shall not fear.

Come to the table, grab your bible, read it, mediate on it, pray over it. It is food to your soul, medicine to your bones. Goodness and life. It is Living Water, come drink, my friend, and thirst no more.

 

Becky

Hope in the Midst of the Consequences of Our Sin

Annie Pliego Photography

My children and I are reading together Ezra after lunch and most of the times, with a bowl of ice cream out in our back yard.

Yesterday we came to Ezra 9, this is the passage in which Ezra gets the news that “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands.”

Ezra’s response to the sin of his people was like the one Jesus talked about on the Sermon of the Mountain, “Blessed are those who mourn…”  Ezra tore his cloak and even pulled hair from his head and beard in great distress. Ezra fasted as he mourned, and when the evening came, he fell on his knees and prayed spreading out his hands to God.

The faithlessness of the people, their sin had been great, and Ezra knew it. He confessed their great sin before a Holy God. No excuses, nothing else to add, it was but the cry of a repentant heart. A mourner.

“O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt.”

Ezra keeps crying on his knees to God, he knows that all the affliction that has come upon them has been a consequence of their great sin. And then these words come out of his mouth, and it was here where I found myself reading aloud with a lump on my throat:

“For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem.”

Even in the midst of the terrible consequences of our sin, we can find hope. Even there we find His grace. His grace towards his people never ceases. His mercies are new every morning. His steadfast love reaches to His own even when we have sinned.  He repairs what we have torn down. He revives our broken hearts. He frees us from the slavery. He protects us.

“And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this, shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? O Lord, the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.””

Ezra did not see the end of the story then. Jesus came and took our guilt, our punishment on his body on the cross. All the suffering that we deserved he bore in our place.

David knew this as well when he said,

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” Psalm 103:10

“Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.” Certainly we cannot stand before a holy God if we have not seen our desperate need for Him and have not repented from our great sins. We do not have hope to stand before God and not be consumed, apart from Jesus who came and died and rose again, and is now sited at the right hand of God interceding for us. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Because of His great love towards His people, we have eternal hope even in the midst of the consequences of our great sins: We will indeed be comforted. The night will be gone and the day will arise. Our tears will be dried out, the fighting will be over. He will give us “beauty instead of ashes, oil of gladness instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a faint spirit” (Is. 61)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Becky

Three Ways to Keep Watching -Finding Delight in God’s Word-

Source 
Music by Laura Story

 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5: 16- 18

This week I found in the Scriptures three ways to keep watch, and to do the will of God in any circumstance (and just in case you are wondering what is God’s will for your life, read the Bible verse above once more)

Rejoice always
 
Pray without ceasing
 
Give thanks in all circumstances

Seems so simple, doesn’t it?

May we all learn to keep watch and do not sleep,

Becky

 

Finding Delight in God’s Word – We Don’t Lose Heart-

This week during my Bible reading I read 2 Corinthians, and I was greatly encouraged to see that Paul used twice in this epistle the phrase, “we do not lose heart”.

“But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.

2 Corinthians 3: 16- 4:1 ESV

In this first instance, we are reminded that we do not lose heart because it has pleased the Lord to set us free and to remove the veil from our eyes so that we see his glory. We do not lose heart because we know we are being transformed into the same image of Jesus. We do not lose heart because we know that our God is a merciful God.

In that, my friends,  I find great delight!

The second time Paul uses this phrase is here:

 

“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4: 13-18 ESV

Here we are reminded that we do not lose heart because we have an unshakable hope: we know that we will be resurrected and will be with Jesus in Heaven. We do not lose heart because we are grounded in the Word and live with our eyes fixed on the eternal things.

This is a truth that makes my heart sing.

Delighting in Him with you today,

Becky

 

Finding Delight in God’s Word – Proverbs 4: 20-27-

My friend Leslie is hosting this year a wonderful challenge: Finding Delight in God’s Word. I read about it and loved her idea. This year in which I want to continue on the things I have attained and at the same time, be purposely watchful I must not forget that Finding Delight in God’s Word is what will help me persevere. If my heart is somewhere else, if it is not delighting in God’s Word, how can I continue in the way I should go? How can I be truly watchful if I don’t find my utmost delight in God’s Word, the Lamp to my feet?

So, I have decided to join Leslie, and as I keep reading my Bible following my own pace with this little help,  this week I found delight in these verses:

Proverbs 4: 20- 27  ESV

20 My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.

The first verses are a wonderful encouragement to abide in the Word, to read it and contemplate it. The more I read the Word of God, the more I incline my ear to it, the more I delight in it. And of course I must memorize it; if I don’t do so, how am I going to keep it within my heart?

Verse 23, “Keep your heart with all vigilance,  for from it flow the springs of life.” is a verse we have read and heard, but really, read it slowly, once again. What am I doing to keep my heart with all vigilance? As a mom, it seems that I am more willing to “keep my children’s heart with all vigilance” than to do something practically about my own heart. I know (or I presume to know) that I know what my children should do to keep their hearts. But what am I doing to keep my heart with all vigilance? This goes perfectly with what I am aiming for this year: Be watchful, Becky.

And I keep reading, and I delight to see that God tells me how I should be vigilant:

* Watching my words, all that I say.

* Watch where am I fixing my eyes;  where I am focusing. It is so easy to stop looking at the goal. While doing school with my children and grading, while cooking and baking, while enjoy a cup of coffee, a good book, a great conversation, I must remember at all times that it is that in Him that I move and live and have my being. It is for Him that I do all things.

* I must ponder the path of my feet. Take time to consider if I am walking in the way I should go. Am I building my relationships or tearing them apart? Am I mortifying those sins that I still pamper? Am I walking straight or maybe I am just starting little by little to swerve to the right or left?

I delight in God’s Word because it is there where I see how much I need Him and how much I hunger for Him.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

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