Our Great Reward
The Extraordinary Life
Weekly Devotional Email
For Sunday, March 19, 2017
John 10:10 (ESV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Dear Church Family,
If God is so good, why do I hurt so bad?
If God is really there, why am I here?
What did I do to deserve this?
Why are the righteous persecuted?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
In his book, Disappointment with God, Philip Yancey quotes a letter that articulates the problem of unmet expectations in all its excruciating reality.
Meg Woodson lost two children to cystic fibrosis, and her daughter’s death at age twenty-three was particularly traumatic.
The following words speak of her pain and doubt as she struggled to cope with what happened:
I was sitting beside her bed a few days before her death when suddenly she began screaming. I will never forget those shrill, piercing, primal screams…It’s against this background of human beings falling apart…that God, who could have helped, looked down on a young woman devoted to Him, quite willing to die for Him to give Him glory, and decided to sit on His hands and let her death top the horror charts for cystic fibrosis deaths.
Does God sometimes sit on his hands?
Does He choose to sometimes do nothing?
Does God sometimes opt for silence even when we are screaming the loudest?
If you have ever heard the silence of God, if you’ve been left standing in the dungeon of doubt, if you are as confused as I was when I first read these words…
Matthew 5:10 (NIV)
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
You see, to really understand this beatitude and the blessing associated with it we need to go back to John the Baptist question and look at Jesus’ answer…
Luke 7:18-23 (ESV)
18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John,
19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”
21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight.
22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.
23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
John the Baptist sits in his prison cell and he wants to know.
Is He really who we though he was?
Is He the one?
Is there someone coming after him?
You see it wasn’t that Jesus was silent; it was that John had been listening for the wrong answer.
John had been listening for an answer to his earthly problems, while Jesus was busy resolving his heavenly ones.
That’s worth remember the next time you hear the silence of God.
Don’t think that God isn’t listening. He is. And he is answering requests you are not even making.
It wasn’t that John was asking for too much, he wasn’t asking for enough. He was asking the Father to resolve the temporary, while Jesus was busy resolving the eternal. John was asking for immediate favor, while Jesus was orchestrating the eternal solution.
Does that mean that Jesus has no regard for injustice? A thousand times no. He cares about persecution, he cares about inequities and hunger and prejudice. After all, he knows what it is like to be punished for something he didn’t do. He knows the meaning of the phrase, ‘It’s just not right.’
It wasn’t right that the people spit into the eyes that had wept for them. It wasn’t right that soldiers ripped chunks of flesh out of the back of their God. It wasn’t right that spikes pierced the hands that formed the earth. And it wasn’t right that the Son of God was forced to hear the silence of God. It wasn’t right, but it happened.
And the Son of God cried into the dark sky ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
Was it right?
Was it fair?
Was it love.
All so we could see the kingdom of heaven.
This Sunday’s Study…
‘Our Great Reward’
We come to the conclusion of our study on ‘The Extraordinary Life’ and as we do we turn our attention upward and we consider heaven. After all, heaven is our home, isn’t it? What a thought. Heaven is our home.
In this moment, Jesus sees to explain why living the extraordinary life is worth it. Because one day, we will see Him and enter our heavenly home. After all, when we understand ‘why’ we’re here it will give greater impact to ‘what’ our lives look like. Take a moment and read these beautiful passages about the promise of heaven.
The Pathway to the Extraordinary Life
Jesus gives us the pathway to this life in His sermon on the mount. This week we focus on Matthew 5:5.
Matthew 5:1-12 (NIV)
1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Bible Verses we’ll study together on Sunday…
John 14:1-6 (ESV)
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 3:16-17 (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Acts 4:12 (NLT)
There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
Revelation 21:1-7 (NLT)
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.
2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.
4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”
6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.
7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
Questions for Personal Growth and Discovery…
- What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the ‘heaven’?
- Who are you looking forward to seeing the most in heaven?
- Looking back on the last few weeks as we have studied this passage from Matthew 5, what beatitude or principle has challenged you the most?
This Sunday at First Christian…
This Sunday at church our youth will be leading worship and they will be helping us learn two beautiful worship songs. ‘O Glorious Day’ is a remake of the traditional hymn, ‘Living He Loved Me.’ We will also be singing a beautiful song entitled ‘Jesus Messiah’. In a world where we people are consistently questioning the identity and the person of Jesus Christ this song boldly proclaims that Jesus Christ is our Messiah. Here are links to these two songs so that you can listen to them before Sunday 😊
I am so excited about concluding this series and studying this with you on Sunday morning. I look forward to seeing you!
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