Moses stood on the side of a mountain and delivered commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) to help God’s people behave. Jesus sat on the side of a mountain and delivered descriptions (Matthew 5:3-12) to help God’s people become His representatives. There’s an obvious comparison between the two. In fact, some people say Jesus is a second Moses.* (More about this connection in the introduction to this series, Blessed Are: Ten Commandments Turned Inside Out). Between the two Moseses, prophets, kings, leaders, and at least one simple widow show us all that God’s grand plan has always been about who we are more than what we do. Jesus was just the first to spell it out. Continue reading
I'm happy to introduce you our guest writer, Carla Pollard for this month's installment of our series, Seeking the Beatitudes in the Old Testament. You will be blessed by Carla's insight, and you can read more about her at the end of this post.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. –Matthew 5:11-12
David was God’s anointed leader for the nation of Israel. He was the giant-slayer, a conqueror, the one who was hailed as a man after God’s own heart. David, the shepherd boy who worshiped his Lord through music and song was a great leader and mighty servant of the Most High. Continue reading
Nobody in the Old Testament chose to be a prophet. They didn’t grow up answering, “I want to be a prophet when I grow up,” and plan their education accordingly. Consider Moses’ reluctance to speak for God (Exodus 3) or Amos’ declaration, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet” (Amos 7:14). Then there’s the most well-known denial of God’s calling: Jonah, who heard from the Lord and ran the other way (Jonah 1:1-3). Speaking for the Lord was never one’s first choice and never accepted by others.
Jesus pointed his finger at the Pharisees and back through time, saying, “You testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute’” (Luke 11:48-49).
Being a prophet was never easy. Continue reading
We return to that hillside somewhere in Galilee. “Large crowds,” Matthew says, from cities across the region and down into Judea, followed Jesus as he taught, proclaimed, and healed (Matthew 4:23-25). As we look back into the Gospels, we call his lessons on that hillside “The Sermon on the Mount.”
He began with an attention-grabbing list, an inside-out set of commandments designed to question everything the people had been taught. I imagined he paused between each one, giving it time to “sink in” before he continued. Continue reading
King Solomon questioned, “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin’?” (Proverbs 20:9). He’s right. It’s hard to find an Old Testament example of someone who is pure-hearted.
For one thing, the Hebrew idea we typically translate as heart means “the center of the human spirit, from which spring emotions, thoughts, motivations, courage and action” (NIV Study Bible notes for Psalm 4:7). It’s a tall order to keep all that pure! Continue reading
“Lord, show me kindness when I don’t deserve it.”
“Lord, forgive my sins even though you and I both know I did every one of them.”
Most of the time, we simply say, “Lord, have mercy!”
This is mercy: the demonstration of undeserved kindness or forgiveness. Continue reading
For our on-going series seeking the Beatitudes in the Old Testament, welcome a special guest for this month: Leigh Powers. You'll be blessed by Leigh's reflections on an Old Testament prophet you probably don't know! Read more about Leigh at the end of the post.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. –Matthew 5:6
Huldah lived through some of the
darkest days of Judah’s history,
but she never stopped hungering
and thirsting for righteousness.
Scripture remembers Josiah as one of Israel’s greatest kings, but at the center of Josiah’s story is a woman who we sometimes forget: the prophet Huldah. Huldah lived through some of the darkest days of Judah’s history, but she never stopped hungering and thirsting for righteousness. She remained resolutely committed to God and God’s Word, and the Lord saw that her hunger for righteousness was satisfied. Continue reading
A weak person can’t be gentle.
A fearless person can’t be courageous.
Gentleness is the restraint of strength. Courage is the overcoming of fear.
In the same way, being meek requires an ability…perhaps even a propensity…for its opposite. Continue reading
“How did we get here?” It’s one of the questions I ponder after every school shooting, after every senseless act of violence, after every scandal in the public arena. It’s one of the questions I ask God. The longer version: “Oh Lord, how did this country come to be like it is today?”
Sometimes I mourn for the state of our country…our world. Maybe you do, too. Jesus said,
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. –Matthew 5:4
Like many of Jesus’ statements, this line seems backward at first. Like I’m going to celebrate my grief because I experienced some comfort in it?!? It would still be better not to have grieved at all, thank you very much!
Maybe we don’t really understand “blessed.” Continue reading
Here's our first guest post on seeking the beatitudes in the Old Testament! I know you're going to be blessed by these thoughts from Rachel Schmoyer.
Recently my church was a host to four homeless families through the Family Promise program. Thirteen churches in our area take turns housing families in the evening and overnight. The day program helps the families find jobs and places to live.
On my way to volunteering at the church one evening, I found myself thinking, “I’m so glad I know how to handle money so that I’m not homeless like these people.”
The Holy Spirit convicted me right away. Was it really because of me that we are not homeless? Continue reading