I started publishing these brief articles back in April with the hope that it might be something from which folks could derive some benefit in their daily walk with Jesus. Your kind words and encouragement have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. If God has used this medium to bless your life, then I give Him the glory.
But it’s time for Manna in the Morning to take a break. I’ll be brutally honest: writing is hard. Good writing is even harder. And trying to write something of substance and value five days a week adds to the difficulty. So after much thought and deliberation, I’ve decided to put Manna on hold indefinitely as I reassess the ways that I am currently using different forms of media.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
The last of the Lord’s beatitudes in the great Sermon on the Mount may be the most counter-intuitive of them all.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Echoing the words of Jesus are Peter (1 Pet. 4:13), Paul (Rom. 5:3-5), and James (James 1:2-4). But how can one consider himself “blessed” while suffering?
- Because your reward in heaven is great (Matt. 5:11).
- Because tribulation produces perseverance, which leads further to the production of character and hope (Rom. 5:3-5).
- Because the trying of your faith produces patience, which then helps one to become perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).
Bottom line: heaven is worth any price we are called to pay in our pursuit of it.
The life of a citizen of Christ’s kingdom is not like the life of a citizen of the devil’s. The Christian’s values, priorities, and attitudes are different. We are strangers in a foreign land (1 Pet. 2:11; Phil. 3:20). Perhaps no section of scripture highlights these differences more clearly than the Sermon on the Mount in general, and the beatitudes in particular. May God bless our lives as we, with his help, develop these wonderful traits.
Another unfavorable trait of our fallen world involves relationships. Too often a man will view his relationships as only being useful if they bring him some personal benefit. The minute they cease to benefit him they are discarded like yesterday’s trash. This same man will not hesitate for a moment to ruin a relationship between others if he believes that said action will bring him some advantage. In this man’s world strife, discord, and rivalry are virtues. In our Lord’s world they are not.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Our God is clear in his will for our relationships. He desires that we do all that we can, without compromising righteousness and truth, to maintain harmony in our relationships.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
God desires that we work and work hard at nurturing our relationships and maintaining peace, tranquility, and good will between ourselves and others. Focus today on being a peace maker, not a peace breaker.
When we read Matthew 5:8 we are struck once more with the chasm that exists between the mind of God and the mind of man.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Personal pleasure and selfish, lustful pursuits characterize far too many in our culture. Hedonism is the order of the day. If you want it, go for it. If it feels good, do it. Lust, jealousy, greed, hatred, bigotry, envy, and arrogance are all heart defects that bring untold misery into the lives of those affected by them.
But those who would be followers of Jesus must embrace the quest for purity within. My hope of enjoying life in the presence of God rests in part on my desire for and pursuit of purity and holiness.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
Search your heart today and begin to root out any and all signs of impurity (2 Cor. 7:1).
In his famous beatitudes, Jesus has been creating a picture of the person who rests under the blessings and good graces of God. So far he has revealed that this person recognizes his spiritual poverty and need for God (Matt. 5:3), mourns that poor spiritual condition (5:4), possesses the gentleness necessary to seek and accept God’s help (5:5), and longs for justification as one longs for food and water (5:6). It is this person who will find what he’s looking for and be filled.
With all of those traits working together, this person will reach out to help those in need since he received help in his time of need. This is called mercy.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Mercy is a spirit of compassion that sympathizes with the sufferings of the distressed and troubled. It causes us to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). But more than just a feeling, the truly merciful will try to ease the pain of his fellow-man as much as possible. Arthur Pink succinctly wrote that mercy “not only stirs the heart, but it moves the hand.”
Will there be opportunities today for you and me to show mercy to another? Perhaps. Let’s look for those opportunities and respond to them by showing to others the mercy that we have received.
Thus far in our abbreviated study of the beatitudes, we have noted that the characteristics of the blessed life involve traits that come from within: poverty of spirit, sorrow over sin, and meekness. The next trait in the Lord’s list involves an internal component that necessitates a look outward.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Hunger and thirst are powerful feelings. They can occupy your mind to such a degree that you can’t focus on anything else. They can be all-consuming. But it’s not a hunger for food or a thirst for water that Jesus sanctifies here. It is a hunger and a thirst for something far more satisfying: righteousness.
How is your spiritual hunger? Do you crave God’s justification? Can you describe your desire for God as did the writers of the Psalms?
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
In order to be truly satisfied and experience a life that is blessed beyond measure, one cannot ignore his spiritual needs. To the contrary, he must long for spiritual satisfaction as much as he longs each day for food and drink. Job once said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).
Can you say the same?
In Matthew 5:5 Jesus calls attention to another key to living a blessed life. Once again it highlights the difference between worldly thinking and spiritual thinking.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
The world says, “Might makes right. Do anything that you have the power to do. Don’t allow anyone to get above you.” Self-discipline and self-control are not popular traits in many circles.
Meekness, however, is controlled power, not a lack of power. Meekness is being governed by a gentle disposition even when it is within your ability to exercise power or authority.
One important expression of meekness is being teachable.
The meek will he guide in justice; And the meek will he teach his way.
Psalm 25:9 (ASV)
When an individual recognizes and grieves over his spiritual poverty (Matt. 5:3-4), he is in the best position to be open to teaching and instruction in the ways of God. That’s meekness.
Are you meek?