Friday, April 26, 2013

 We all have gifts and callings and when we read the Bible we interpret it through the filter of those gifts and callings. The following is how I interpret the Sermon on the Mount.

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

I think it’s clear that it refers to those of a repentant and contrite heart, but a wider application applies to those that are downtrodden in spirit, the poor inner city single mom who has little hope that her children will break out of the cycle of poverty; the child who has suffered abuse and has lost his way and lives in dejection and despair or acts out in anger and rage; the desperately poor in developing countries that live with hunger, lack of medical help and despair; the drug addicted person who lives in bondage and confusion without hope. The spirit of dejection, which sees no end in sight, all “that are weary and heavy laden,” all that live in utter hopelessness and are overcome with a “poor spirit.”

Is. 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to those who are bound.” 

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

I think this also applies to those who are involved in ministries working with the marginalized people of the world like Job who -------
 …delivered the poor who cried for help,
And the orphan who had no helper.
The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me,
And I made the widow’s hear sing for joy.
I put on righteousness and it clothed me;
My justice was like a robe and a turban,
I was eyes to the blind
And feet to the lame.
I was a father to the needy,
And I took up the strangers cause.
And I broke the jaws of the wicked,
And snatched the prey from his teeth.

When we are working with Christ in these issues there will be many set-backs, defeats and mourning, but we will be comforted in our labor as illustrated in Psalm 126:5 “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.”

 “Blessed are the meek, gentle, humble, for they shall inherit the earth.”

In serving mankind with this spirit, we will be repaid a hundred fold, in this life and the life to come. We shall inherit the most valuable treasures on earth, love.

“Blessed for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

In a world where justice and right relationships are ruptured, to be involved in restoration ministries will not happen unless we earnestly desire solutions.
These relationships have often years of damage and there are no easy fixes.
It will require an earnest and persistent determination and if we do not sense Christ’s concern and love we will not have the hunger and thirst needed to endure.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

When working with the “poor in spirit” we will uncover many dark and insidious evils. If we lack mercy we will recoil in judgment and lose our ability to help find change. We must have the mind of Christ when confronted with shocking and blatant sins; with a merciful heart we can put aside judgment and seek restoration, snatching some as it were, from the very flames.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

The servant who works with the poor in spirit must have no agenda but Gods.
We must be a faithful friend, an honest confidant, and our motives must be pure,  never looking for gain, profit or recognition.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

When we are involved in personal relationships that have been fractured and forsaken, we will need the sensitivity and humility to help establish peace where past hurts and abuses have lead to rejections, anger, revenge and separations on many levels: be it in restoring man to God; mother to child or spouse to spouse.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

When involved in the above work, there will be times when you will be turned on, attacked or misunderstood. Many issues run so deep they can be hard to look at by the offended, and you may become the scapegoat. When involved in matters of justice for the oppressed, those who gain from the oppression may see you as the enemy. Versus 11 and 12 in Matthew 5 speak to this, but take heart and rejoice, for your reward in heaven is great!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Of Ideas

 The following is an exhortation to renew our minds through Godly thoughts. 

Regarding the mind, heed well that this athlete, growing in your brain,
Becomes a wholesome Genius, and not a cursed Afrite, (Afrite are supernatural creatures in Arabic and Islamic cultures. They are noted for their strength and cunning. An enormous winged creature of fire, either male or female, who live underground and frequents ruins.)

And see that you discipline the minds strength, and point his aim discreetly;
Feed him on humility and holy things, weaned from covetous desires;
Hour by hour and day by day, supply him with ideas of excellence,
 And win, by gradual Godly allurements, the still expanding soul,
To rise from observing the universe, to the Hand of God that made it.

A common mind doesn’t consider things beyond his eyes and ears:
The roebuck is captured and enthralled by his carnal senses:
And though fettered in the flesh, he doesn’t feel his chains,
Externals are the world to him, and circumstances his atmosphere.
Therefore tangible pleasures are enough for the animal-man;
He is swift to speak and slow to think, dreading his own dim conscience;
And solitude is terrible, and to be exiled alone, worse than death,
He cannot dwell apart, nor breathe at a distance from the crowd.

But minds of a nobler stamp, and especially those thoughts with the mint-mark of heaven and eternal value,
Walk independent, by themselves, free from the slavery of external circumstances;
They carry provisions with them, and need no refreshment along the way,
Nor to drink of other wells than their own inner fountain.
Strange shall it seem how little such a man will lean upon the circumstances of life,
He is winged and needs not a staff; if it break, --- he shall not fall:
And lightly perchance does he dwell on the stale trivialities around him,
He lives in the realm of thought, beyond the world of merely things;
These are matter, a substance that briefly endures,
But he is made of enduring Spirit;
Now the worldly man will laugh to scorn wisdom that transforms
Thought into something more noble and pure:
But His eyes may open on a prison-cell, but the bare walls glow with imagery;
His ears may be filled with the cursing’s, but he hears the music
Of sweet thoughts;
He may dwell in a hovel but with a hero’s heart, and canopy his poverty with peace,
For the mind is a kingdom to the man, who gathers his pleasure from Godly ideas.
Martin F. Tupper, photo from the Internet

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I was reading in Acts 28:25-27 where it says “The Holy Spirit spoke,” and I stopped to consider, “what was the Holy Spirit going to say to them and to me?”
As I read on I began to see He was speaking too Duty and Purpose and Restoration. “For the heart of this people has become dull.”

Dull to duty --
“Lest they should see with their eyes,” those that are close, in our immediate and extended family, those we see and of whom to serve and love is our duty.
We no longer see the grief of our father, the tears of our mother, the sorrow of our siblings, the fear and insecurity of our very children, the loss in the eyes of our spouse. Our eyes have been dimed by our self-seeking; we are blinded by our lusts and restless pursuit of appetites which never find satisfaction.

Purpose ---
“Lest they should hear with their ears,” those that are far; the cry of the oppressed, the child kidnapped for use in the sex trade, the mother whose breasts are dry for lack of nourishment and her children die in her arms. The little girl who has gone blind for lack of protein which we could have easily supplied by the crumbs from our tables. We have scarcely heard the mourning of the orphan and widow of whom are in our charge that we would be their keeper.  
The cries and heartaches have become a distant drone that has been drowned by our worldly ambitions driven by our ceaseless desires and cravings.

Restoration –
If we seek understanding of the desires and purposes of God we will hear with our hearts and He will bring healing.

Give us mercy Lord, for, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke…..”
 Photo by Jack Dallas. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

  I read a short poem by Robert Browning this morning that I like. The last line is a bit unclear to me but I think it means, “To continue to fight against sorrow in the world.” The word – recommence- is unfamiliar to me but in looking it up it appears to mean, continue or begin over, or begin where one left off.

“Gladness be with thee, helper of the world.
I think this is the authentic sign and seal
Of Godship, that it ever waxes glad
And more glad, until gladness blossoms, bursts
Into a rage to suffer for mankind
And recommence at sorrow.”

I took the poem to mean that when we serve God we will gain a momentum of joy and when, as that joy increases, it bursts into a rage, or zeal, for mankind and fuels us on to further service where the sacrifices seem little. 
Photo taken from the Internet. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

  I shared this piece with a brother the other day and thought it is something many will appreciate.

"Private experience is an unsafe teacher, for we rarely learn both sides of an issue, and we see the gilt on the surface but we shouldn't assume there is steel beneath. But, student of wisdom, feed on the marrow of the matter; If you will suspect, let it be of yourself; if you will expect, let it not be gladness." 
  What I took from that is that we are poor judges of the heart and past experiences of others, we see but one side, just because we see actions that are good doesn't mean they are truly from the heart. And if we will be suspect of anything, let it be of ourselves and our weaknesses, and keep our expectations from people low, very low. We serve God and He rewards our good works, sometimes, people do as well, but don't count on it.

Found the picture on another blog.