The Christmas season can be the most wonderful time of the year for some, and the most stressful or contentious for others. We hear Christmas songs about ‘peace and goodwill to men,’ but sometimes those can seem like concepts far removed from our own personal situations. As Christians though, we know that through Jesus and His victory over death we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). We know that Jesus gives us the peace of God.
Jesus made it clear that in this life we would face opposition and perhaps, even persecution. As the world continues to polarize around divisive issues, we can expect to find others at odds with our belief in God’s word as final authority. So we should not be surprised if we find there are times we have to deal with those who are enemies.
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).
It doesn’t matter how you start. It matters how you finish. You may be sensing God turning the heat up on things in your life He wants to purify you from. Like David, you can say the same prayer and allow the flux of His get rid of toxic thoughts and bad behavior. “Search me, O God, and know my heart… Point out anything in me that offends you…”
Those that have participated in youth sports like baseball and football may be familiar with the mercy rule, where a game or contest is declared over if one team is ahead by a large margin in score or points. God intended the mercy rule to be in effect in our everyday lives as well. Being Christlike requires those with means to show mercy towards others that are in need or have suffered loss. The challenge often comes when we do not feel like being in a “winning” position to show sportsmanship, whether in our deeds or attitude. Why should I be merciful when others have not been merciful to me?
Is it possible that this explosion of passion for food in our generation is just evidence of a deeper spiritual hunger that’s gone unfulfilled? Might this rampant hunger be a sign that we’re on the verge of a great spiritual food awakening as people discover true fulfillment in Christ? Just as foodies love to share their passion for all things food, maybe it’s time we allow our hunger and passion for Jesus to be evident in everything we do so that others can experience Him for themselves and taste and see that the LORD is good.
Take inventory of the 10 to 12 closest people, podcasts or influencers you lend your ear to and ask the Holy Spirit if changes need to be made, so you, as promised in Psalm 1, can live in fruitful seasons that bless both yourself and others. If they draw you closer to righteousness let them know you’re thankful for them. They are contributors to the blessing of God on your life!
Jesus wants you to love him, live for him, and follow him with all your heart. He wants you to love others, to life generously with your time, talents, and gifts. He wants you to put him first in all you do, to learn his ways and model them to others. He wants you to be part of building the Kingdom of God on this earth. What are you building your house on?
The power of thanksgiving cannot be underestimated, as it is a key factor in our daily happiness (or contentment). If so much of the world pursues it, wouldn’t it make sense to pay attention to what determines it? As followers of Jesus, we have the benefit of knowing the God to whom we give all thanks, glory and praise. He is our source of everything we need, and in His power, we can grow to be a thankful people. Our happiness is not dependent on what we have, on what we can achieve or on what we do, but rather, it is found in knowing the God who loves us and becoming more aware of His goodness in our lives.
At first read, this verse sounds like a great contradiction. How can someone who mourns be blessed or happy? Where does the promise of comfort come from? The kingdom of God is an upside-down Kingdom compared to the world’s. Jesus leaves us in the beatitudes not only a set of attitudes to take on but He gives us a sure promise that we can receive when we fully embrace His ways.