Jesus gives us some clues in His teachings on how we should be making peace. Any loving actions and words that help overcome enmity between us and others is a good start. And to be more specific, we are to pray for those who persecute us. In order to pray for God to bless our enemies we (super)naturally need to walk in forgiveness and not hold on to any offenses. As Paul tells us we are to, “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
This past weekend at Coastal Church we started our series on the Beatitudes that beginsJesus’ Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5-7. In these chapters we read a collection of Jesus’s teachings that have greatly impacted, inspired and transformed people globally. In this blog, I will be mainly focusing on the first Beatitude found in Matt. 5:2: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In verse one we see Jesus observing the large crowds as he walked up the mountainside and then sitting down, which was the well-known posture of a teacher.
Love! In English there is only one word for love. It’s a word we use a lot to express how we feel about food, fashion, friends and family. Love is something we want – and desire to experience. But the type of love we read about in John’s Gospel is different, in fact it’s divine. In the original language of the New Testament, the Greek used multiple words for love. In John 3:16, the author uses the word agape, which speaks of God’s selfless, undeserved and unconditional love towards a broken and fallen world. God loves a world that does not and cannot love Him back in return, unless He makes the move to change our hard hearts and renews a right spirit within us
May the Lord help us to keep growing in our adoration and worship of Him as the Lord of Hosts and our God. May the Spirit empower us to live a holy life in which our thoughts, words and actions honor Him and point people to the King of kings and Lord of lords who is seated on the throne interceding for us (Romans 8:34).
How do we avoid doing what is right in our own eyes? For starters, we need to avoid relying on our own understanding, but instead trust in the Lord with all our heart. We must set our eyes on Jesus and follow His teachings that are spirit and life (John 6:63). We repent of the things that have been filling our hearts and minds that diminish our love for God.
Those who are of God love what God loves. God loves His children and Apostle John in his letter directs Christians to do the same, to love one another. God is delighted when His children obey and live according to His will as revealed in His commandments. Believers do not see God’s commandments as heavy and vexatious. We are a new creation in Christ and therefore we love to follow our master’s decrees. However, we also recognize that loving others or loving what God loves is not an easy task and it requires our daily surrender and dependence upon God. We need the power of God’s Spirit working within us and our daily intentional meditation and application of His Word.
One day Jesus was teaching and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
The letter of James is extremely practical and helpful for believers looking for specific guidance in the Christian life. He did not address the letter to just one single church, but to the twelve tribes of Israel scattered among the nations (1:1). James was Jesus’ half-brother who came to faith in Christ after Jesus’ resurrection. He became an early leader of the Jerusalem Church and died as a martyr in AD 62 or 69. He was known as James “the Just” because of his exceptional virtue.