Jesus ended the Beatitudes saying, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10 MEV)
That statement is so counterintuitive that he repeated it: “Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be very glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in this manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).
We can’t earn salvation, but we can earn blessings by exhibiting certain characteristics. Each Beatitude builds on the one before.… Read the rest
God is the God of everyone and calls everyone to rejoice in him. The Bible clearly teaches that from beginning to end, but people have often had trouble accepting it.
At one point, God confided in Abraham that he intended to investigate Sodom’s evil. Abraham knew well their wickedness, but prayed for whatever righteous people lived there, declaring, “Will not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:19).
But the nation of Israel ignored God for centuries as they pursued other gods. Then, purged of that sin, they came to regard God as exclusively their own.
Christians know that the Bible says, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) and “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
In fact, those are the texts of two popular rounds that are probably going through your head right now.
We know what the Word says. That doesn’t make it easy for us to wrap our minds around what it really means or how to do it. Sometimes, life is so miserable that there doesn’t seem to be anything to rejoice about at all.
And yet Paul, the man who wrote those words, didn’t exactly have an easy life.… Read the rest
Today’s news seems bad all around. Pollsters find an unprecedented level of pessimism and anger at the ineptitude of our national government. Besides the sour economy and a bipartisan failure of leadership, we are beset with a number of foreign challenges.
Do we have to shut out current events in order to find anything to be glad about this Christmas? Probably so for people who only celebrate the season. Not at all for people who understand the meaning of Christmas and celebrate the birth of the Savior.
The prophet Isaiah lived in bleak times. Early in his ministry an ungodly king, Ahaz, made a cowardly alliance with the Assyrian empire, which reduced the once-proud kingdom of Judah to vassal status.… Read the rest