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7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Gal 6:)
1And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
This is the Sermon on the Mount. In the 6th chapter of Luke we find a very similar sermon that is called the Sermon on the Plains, called such because the sermon was conducted on the plains of Galilee. Most of Luke's account of Jesus' sermon is very much like, and even identical to Matthew's, but there are some things Jesus said in His sermon on the plains that either added to what He said on the mount, or clarified certain elements to a degree. Because of this I've added the words from Luke where I thought appropriate.
3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The word Jesus uses to express "blessed" is a Greek word that means "Supremely blessed, happy." This same word has been translated as happy in John 13:17; Romans 14:22; James 5:11; 1Peter 3:14 and 4:14.
The word for poor means "Distressed, beggarly, pauper." We have other passages that help us to understand better what Jesus is saying in such verses as 2Cor 8:9; James 2:5; Rev 3:17. In the verse that says Jesus became poor for our sake a slightly different word was used, but the meaning is the same.
The word used for spirit means to "breath, vitality, disposition, soul." It could also mean the Holy Spirit, since there's only one word to denote both, but we know that's highly unlikely to be His meaning.
Take special notice the reward given those who are poor in spirit. If the poor in spirit are given the right to the Kingdom of Heaven, what happens to those who are rich in spirit in this day and age? And what do you suppose makes the difference between those who are poor in spirit and those who are not?
4Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
To mourn means to "Grieve, wail, sorrow." We read in Rev 21:
4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Rev 21:)
And Jesus said:
15If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:)
Is there any correlation between these passages and what Jesus said on the mount? I'll let you decide. But if there is a connection, notice what Jesus said in this last passage: "If you love me," and "If you keep my commandments." Do you love? How do you show your love? Do you keep His commandments? Can you name any commandments Jesus gave us, His disciples?
Jesus called the Holy Spirit the "Spirit of Truth" that the world cannot see. The carnal mind (including those in the churches, which I sorrow to say there are all too many) cannot see the truth, all they see is doctrine and tradition, which according to Jesus stands in the way of truth (Mat 15:3,9; 16:12; 1Tim 4:1; Heb 13:9; 2Cor 11:15; Rev 2:14,15,24; Rom 8:7; Eph 4:23;1Cor 2:12-16; Heb 8:10 ). Notice in the last reference how those with the Spirit will have the laws, not eradicated, but rather and instead placed in their heart. Doesn't that mean they will know the laws? So then, wouldn't we be able to ask such a person, one that claims to have the Spirit of God, what the laws are, and if they keep them?
5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Mat 11:)
Jesus was meek. In Numbers 12:3 we learn that Moses was very meek. Meek in the Greek means "Humble, mild." We read:
15For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, WITH him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:)
3And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 18:)
10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Mat 23:)
6But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:)
5Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (1Peter 5:)
We're taught from a child to go for the gusto, strive for the top, to be better and higher than anyone else. The Bible tells us that if we listen to and follow this advice we'll lose grace, and we'll be looked down upon in eternity, if we make it that far.
It's our nature to be all we can be, to make life comfortable for ourself. And it's our nature to justify this way of thinking, especially in this modern world, and in this selfish, lazy country we live in. However, it's our nature we have to change if we hope to make it into Paradise. It's Adam and Eve's nature that got them kicked out of Paradise, God isn't going to let those of us back in to live with Him eternally who fail to rise above the nature He despises.
The meek will inherit the earth. Most of us, regardless of the denomination or religion are looking to be taken up into space or some other planet for eternity. Why would anyone in their right mind want to inherit a planet that's doomed to be destroyed with fire? Why then become humble, let others walk on us if the rewards for doing so is to gain that which no one would want in the first place? Is there something missing? Are we missing the boat with our doctrines somewhere along the line?
6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Mat 7:. See Luke 11:11-13 to see what the "Good Thing" is that Jesus was referring to.)
30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Mat 6:)
44How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? (John 5:)
20For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. (Phil 2: see Phil 3:17-19; Rom 16:17-18)
1If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Col 3:)
5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Heb 11:)
Notice how the rewards go to those who diligently seek the Lord.
What we search for, we continue to search for until we find it. Once we find what we were looking for, we stop searching. Man's nature is to search for answers. Eve is a good example of someone seeking an answer. Her question was, "how can I eat of that delicious-looking fruit without getting punished?" How do I know this? I know this for two reasons. First, if not, then what was she doing sitting around watching the tree whereby the serpent would bring up the subject in the first place? But more to the point, Eve was human, and I'm human. And what would I be doing in the garden? I'd be sitting on a rock trying to figure out how I could eat of that delicious-looking fruit without getting punished. Of course you wouldn't do such a thing, the perfect angel you are. But all of us aren't as perfect as you are. (I say this because I notice how perfect everyone in church is, how above temptation they seem to be because they've been baptized. I don't know, I guess the water they used to baptize me came from the wrong well because it failed to make me perfect, or even reasonably so.)
When we find an answer, we stop looking. The churches give us all the answers, and though they encourage the reading of the Bible, they discourage (in fact they will not allow) the questioning of the church doctrines we find faulty in the course of our reading the Bible. Therefore, since we are not allowed to question, we settle for the answers given.
Answers should only lead to more questions. Answers are merely stepping-stones along the road to truth, they're not stop signs. People who bother to read the Bible at all use the stepping-stones they find as stumbling stones that cause them to fall into error, which Paul speaks so heavily about in his epistles. And whatever way we stumble, there's someone there to lead us on the wrong path we've taken.
11Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. 13In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst. (Amos 8:)
Amos speaks of having a hunger and a thirst for the Word that can not be filled. Jesus said the same thing, except He tells us that it's in Him we are filled.
We read here that there will be a famine of the Word. When we read the words of David, his obsession with the Word, the laws, that he meditated on day and night, we see someone who would feel worse then dead if the Word was taken from him. I can relate to this. For the past nearly 40 years the Word has fascinated me, and I dwell on the Word day and night. By the amount of writing on this web site it should be fairly obvious that I spend a lot of time in Bible study. The rest of the time I have CD's in several rooms playing either portions of the Bible all the time, day and night, or I have sermons I'm listening to. Meanwhile I research various subjects that apply to the Bible in books and on the web. A famine of the Word would horrify me.
When I'm in distress, I go to the Bible. In my thoughts I talk to the Lord as one who is by my side constantly. This is me. Am I unique? I hope not. It seems to me everyone who is a Christian is to be this way. I hear people in church talking as if this is the way they are. I hear them singing praises to the Lord saying this is the way they are. Yet when I try to talk to them about the Lord, they're not interested. They want to hear about the latest ball game, or the latest soap opera, or the weather, or the news. They want to talk about anything other than what they claim to be the most interested in.
If the Lord was to send a famine of asparagus I doubt there would be too many people who would even notice. If He was to send a famine of baseball or some other sport, or of the TV, or video games, I imagine most of the "civilized" world would go to pieces and be pulling their hair out. But today we have a famine of the Word, and nobody notices it, or even cares.
"Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink." This is the lament of someone who is stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean. He is dying of thirst while surrounded with water. In days gone by the Word, the Bible, was considered precious and indispensable. At that time the Bible was a rare commodity that only the well-to-do could afford. Today we have the Bible in every form, and can be found not only in thrift stores, but in garbage cans. Yet those who claim to read the Bible, for the most part, only do so sporadically and for just a very few minutes when they find time between their TV programs.
Hunger and thirst after the Word. Do you hunger and thirst for the Word? But notice, Jesus said those who hunger and thirst after righteousness would be filled. The Pharisees of Jesus' day were a people who were driven by their thirst for self-righteousness. To them they couldn't see the difference between self-righteousness and true, Godly righteousness. Today we have multitudes of people who do not know the difference between righteousness as spoken of in the Bible and the self-righteousness we cling to and think God approves of. Our self-righteousness hangs on our church affiliation, or our baptism, or our knowledge of the Bible. The righteousness Jesus refers to has little or nothing to do with anything we cling to for our hope for the future. God's righteousness is that exemplified by Jesus, by our concern for our fellow man.
Righteous in the Greek means "Equity of character, justification." Those words don't mean a whole lot to us as they stand, but if we realize that the root word for righteousness is "innocent," the meaning becomes more clear. Equity, according to my dictionary, means "Fairness, impartiality." These words in one form or another we see all through the New Testament. We're to be merciful (Mat 9:13; 5:7), to not favor even our own family over strangers (Luke 14:13-14).
6Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. (1John 3:)
17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1Peter 4:)
Sin is sin, church affiliation, baptism and going by the name of Christian aside. By taking on the name Christian we are not relieved of having to fulfill the law, the example Jesus set for us, we're to understand that we now accept and pledge to follow Jesus' example and to do more than the law calls for. If we don't fulfill our part, then as Peter said, the judgement begins with us, as those who are ungodly.
We can readily see from these last two passages that the consequences for not attaining righteousness is quite severe. Do we hunger and thirst after righteousness? Or are we merely trying to attain the appearance of righteousness as did the Scribes and the Pharisees? (See Isaiah 64:6)
7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
We're all guilty of sin, just as much or more so than were Adam and Eve. Our first parents had no example to go by, no history of mistaken judgements and the consequences for those judgement calls. We can't make this claim. For us, when we sin, it's either willful sins we commit, or willfully ignorant sins at best.
13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: (Mat 9:)
The word mercy means "To have compassion." My dictionary says of compassion "A feeling of pity that makes one want to help." This seems to me to be an action word, a motivator.
14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (James 2:)
8Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. (Rom 13:6)
36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Mat 22:)
20If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1John 4:)
12Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. (Prov 10:)
The word used in these passages, as in most other passages describing love, is not the kissy-kissy love one feels for their sweetheart. Nor is it the agape love we call brotherly love we feel for those of our close acquaintance. This is a social love we feel for those in society in general. We see this kind of love expressed in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The good Samaritan saw someone in trouble, and that person could very easily, and very likely was, a person who would wish him dead (such as a Pharisee) for all he knew. Yet he did all he could to help that person in trouble. We think of this attitude when we consider a stray dog that's hungry or hurt. We may not desire to retain that dog (or that person) in our household, but yet we want to relieve the injured or hungry of their distress.
Love, as we can see, is an action word. When we love this kind of love it requires we do something. When we think of the other forms of love we tend to consider them as more on the selfish side. For instance the love we feel for our family or our sweetheart. We love them because they are part of us, of our family, or our circle (such as a church). But we have certain expectations we place on that person. For instance our spouse, we expect our love to be returned, to be reciprocated in kind. If we don't receive the love we expect, we feel cheated. With the love (called "charity" elsewhere in the Bible) no reciprocation is expected or often even possible. For instance the dog we help. We don't expect the dog to pay us back, or to feed us if we're hungry. The most we can expect is that the dog will not bite us when healthy and that it not insist upon living on your sofa once it's back on its feet.
This is the kind of love that's expected of all human beings, not just Christians. But if we indeed have the Spirit of God within us we can do nothing but feel this way about our neighbors because that's the way God feels about them. We're to be the arms, the legs, the eyes and the ears of God here on earth... (I hate to say this, but this one element that I thought was so clearly understood by the churches if none other, is lost in at least some of the churches. As explained in another story, I voiced this opinion in the church, that we are to be the members of God toward one another, and there was much effort on the part of the clergy to dismiss what I said)..., and we're to be His heart as well. If we don't act toward our fellow man, good or bad as they may be (how can we judge their heart?), then the Spirit of God is missing in us.
We're to love our neighbor even higher than ourself (Phil 2:1-7), placing ourself even lower than those we consider low. If we do this, from the heart, then how can we possibly allow anyone else to hurt without hurting along with them (1John 3:14-19).
8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
We're presented with a dilemma here. First, isn't everyone considered a child of God merely because they're a child of Adam, who is a child of God? (Luke 3:38) And aren't we told that if we're baptized, then we become a son, a child of God, no matter how we behave? Of course the churches will tell us that our conversion has to be more than mere confession and baptism, but I don't see them telling how we're to be sure we're truly born again other than by the fact we're baptized. And if we're truly born again, which no one seems to say how we're to know we are, then we can't lose our salvation. To me this seems all so confusing. I would like to hear just one sermon where the preacher put all this together in an understandable package. Actually I don't think such a sermon can be preached without disqualifying almost everyone in the congregation including the preacher.
Jesus said it's the pure in heart who will be the children of God. Let's assume Jesus knows what He's talking about. and everyone else, including me, is a liar (Rom 3:4).
What does the word pure mean? I think of something pure when it contains no foreign particles. For instance, in the case of our heart, our Spiritual life, I think of purity as containing no sin whatever. Today I had an experience that told me I have sin in a place I was unaware of. I met an old man (3 years older than me) who it turns out has a very sharp tongue and seems to have nothing good to say about anyone but his dog. In the beginning he was making crude jokes and remarks about everyone, including me, and especially about women. Before I stopped to realize it, I was feeding into his sordid humor. I didn't mind the time after time he castigated me, I can take that since I'm rather used to it now. I just laughed that off. And because I could take jokes about myself, he enjoyed casting more my way. I tried to get away from the man, but he was having too much fun with me to let me go. To my problem. When I was in the Army I was one of those who could go for hours telling jokes I wouldn't even mention now. I found myself falling back into that mode, and very soon regretting both that I did so, and that it was in me to take part in such behavior (even though my part was very mild, and mostly listening). What am I saying here? My heart is far from pure, as I see pure. If this was the worst impurity in my heart I would consider myself as doing quite well. But it's not. I'm far from pure. Thus having a heart that's not pure, am I a child of God?
The Greek word used here for pure means "Clean, clear."
9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. (John 13:)
3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (John 15:)
15Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:)
22Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1Peter 1:)
18And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 19And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.....21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. (Rev 21:)
1And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Rev 22:)
I've presented these verses in order that you (and I) can have a better idea what Jesus meant by the word pure. Some words presented are not italicized even though they have the same meaning (in the English) as the word we're looking at. This is because a different word was used.
As it seems to me Jesus meant what He said when He said a person with a pure heart will be called the child of God. I don't measure up, even though I'm assured I do by my church. How do you fit the description of a child of God? If you're standing next to me in my classification, that of missing the mark, are you doing anything to change your status?
10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This is a hard one. According to my church, and from what I've seen of anyone being persecuted, persecuted means receiving nasty looks at the water cooler. I suspect such sideways glances have caused many a Christian to fall to the wayside.
For myself, I stand alone in any church or group I may attend because of my views on God and the Bible. But I take no persecution to speak of because of my supposed heretical opinions. The worst abuse I recall taking in many years is the abuse I described above. And there was one other time when I gave money to a beggar who didn't like what I said. This abuse cost me 20 dollars, that being (the money I put in her cup). But as a Christian, in this day and age, abuse is either set aside or reserved for those who hand out magazines in front of the Post Office.
What does the word persecute mean? Maybe Jesus is saying those at the water cooler are being blessed:
18If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. (John 15:)
4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. (Acts 9:)
23Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. (2Cor 11:)
The word for persecute means to follow. The same word has been used in a generic sense, to follow, as well as to describe persecution.
Jesus said if they persecute us, the Christian, it's actually Jesus they are persecuting. And in the case of Paul, this is very easily seen in that Jesus said Paul was persecuting Him when he persecuted the saints.
In the early days of the Church persecution meant a great deal more than it does today, barring those countries that are truly against the Christian. Paul describes what he suffered as a Christian minister venturing into areas he wasn't wanted. I suspect the persecution the saints will endure in the near future, even in this country, will match or surpass that which the early Christians endured. At that time there will be a great many people "blessed," if they live through their blessed persecution. Today this kind of blessing is reserved for those we persecute because of their beliefs, that is, those we call the cults. These people are being blessed at our expense since regardless of what we think of their beliefs, it's the one pointing the finger of accusation who will be judged (Mat 7:1; Luke 6:37; Rom 14:4; James 4:11; Isaiah 65:5).
11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
22Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. 23Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets (Luke 6:)
The reason I included Luke's version of the above is because he added the phrase indicating that our church will separate us from them, those of us who refuse to agree with the "rules" and doctrines of the church they attend We see this exemplified in Jesus, the Apostles, and the martyrs of bygone days. Few of the martyrs left the church, the church left them. We have examples of such a separation in this, our day and age. In the 60's the Catholic church changed its long-established views. Since the Traditionalists refused to change along with the mother church, they are considered outcasts, or second class members at best. In the Mormon church, and the Jehovah's Witness, and even in such churches as the Episcopal and the Lutheran churches big changes have (and are) being made. The Baptists are not free of change, some (or many) Baptist churches are making a complete turnaround right before the parishioner's eyes, becoming the reverse of what they had been. Most people it seems are oblivious to these doctrinal changes since they are essentially frogs in a boiling pot. They aren't interested in the beliefs of the church they attend, as long as the coffee and donuts are fresh and tasty.
Persecution for Christ's sake puts us in good company. For the rewards provided those who are persecuted and who die for the name of Jesus, see the Book of Revelation, especially the second and the third chapters. Notice that it's those described at the end of each message to the churches who will receive the rewards. The rest of each of the letters are warnings, not blessings.
24But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:)
The sermon Jesus gave on the plain contained something the sermon on the mount didn't. Jesus not only blessed those who are lowly and without, He did something people don't want to hear, at least those who don't fit the category promised the blessings don't want to hear. He presented some woes. Let's take a look at the woes, but first let's find out what a woe is:
WOE - an exclamation of grief.
That's it. That's all there is folks. A woe doesn't sound so bad after all. What's a little grief? We all experience a little grief in this lifetime, so what's the big deal? Well, before we run off half-cocked, let's take a look at some examples of grief God planned for His creation:
1And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 5And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. 6And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 7And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. 8And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 9And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. 10And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. 11And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. 12One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter. (Rev 9:)
12Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. 13And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. (Rev 12:)
11And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mat 8; see also Mat 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28 for more teeth gnashing.)
You know what? Maybe a woe isn't such a little thing after all. Let's see who it is Jesus has in mind for these woes, and how they might effect us. (Note, although the last passage doesn't expressly indicate the judgements as woes, I think it fairly clear they fit the category of something we wish to avoid):
"Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger."
The full shall hunger? What do you suppose Jesus meant by this? Does this mean those who eat their meals like momma tells us to do, who don't refuse food, will go hungry through eternity? Is this kind of a karma thing? I don't think so. Let's see what the Bible has to say about being hungry:
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
31Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:)
13And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. (Rev 7:)
31In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. (John 4:)
26Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (John 6:)
19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 20When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. 21For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? (1Cor 11:)
27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:)
We find there is more than one type of hunger spoken of in the Bible. David, as we read earlier, hungered for the Word and for a closeness to God that comes by ridding one's self of sin. Jesus tells us His hunger, and His meat, is to do the will of the Father, which is to be our hunger as Christians as well. And of course there is the hunger each of us feels between meals. The first of these hungers we can understand as Spiritual hungers rather than that of the flesh. And these are to be our most important hungers. Trying to identify the physical hunger Jesus tells us of, which is obviously a big part of what He was talking about since the first part, the blessings, seems to be in regards to the physical, is a little more difficult. I don't think Jesus was saying we should push ourself away from the table before our dish is empty. But if not, what then?
Look in the mirror. Can you see all of you in the mirror? Now look at your toes, can you see them? The Bible tells us:
23Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, 24And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. 25Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full. 26He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind. 27He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea: 28And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations. 29So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; 30They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, 31The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel. 32For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works. (Psalm 78:)
9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous ["Wanting more"], nor drunkards [Drunk means more than just on alcohol. Various places in the Bible drunken relates to power, knowledge, or like the letter to the Corinthians above, drunk on food], nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1Cor 8:)
Paul tells us we're to be temperate in all things, which means we're to do everything in moderation (1Cor 9:25). When we overindulge in any activity we are being a glutton, thinking of ourself and no one else. In the passages presented above we see this exemplified. The priests and the religious (and civil) leaders who were supposed to be caring for those unable to care for themselves, were taking what belonged to the needy and keeping it for themselves. This is no surprise since we not only see this very thing all through history, but in our own government (and our churches) as well. Those in need become more needy, while those "with" become more abundantly "with." We also see this in the laws of the land, just as we read of it in the Bible. The Pharisees were so wrapped up in the letter of the laws they couldn't see the purpose of the law. Jesus said God made the Sabbath for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath was, as it is now with many people, the number one law that needed to be observed. And this for good reason. God made it perfectly clear that the Sabbath law had to be obeyed. The Jews were destroyed and kicked off their land several times for violating the Sabbath. Jesus used this optimum law to illustrate the purpose of the laws. The laws of the Jews, as is the laws of our land, were intended to take care of the safety and the needs of the people. But instead of the people's good being observed, the law is strictly enforced at the expense of the people it's designed for. If we look at the churches we see the very same process in operation. The churches have (with exceptions) forgotten the needs of the people, and they've disregarded the laws God designed to protect His people. In place of God's laws that have been set aside they've installed a series of laws (called doctrines and articles of faith) that must be observed and agreed upon if a person is to remain a part of that church body, and this all the while claiming to be law-free..
It appears to me the "full" are those who are full of themselves, at the expense, or at the disregard of those around them. When we feed ourselves, especially when we feed our lusts, that which is beyond our basic needs, we are robbing from those without. This is not a popular teaching I know, and this may be one of the few places you will read such as this. But as I see it, this is not only what I read in the Bible, it's what I see exemplified in the lives of Jesus and the Apostles, and in the early church.
"Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep."
This is another difficult statement to understand. Isn't it true that Jesus said if we follow Him we will have joy unimaginable and be very happy? Yet it appears that if we accept what He said about joy, and if we do as He said we're to do, we will regret it through eternity.
6Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8But let us, who are of the day, be sober, (1Thes 5:)
5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, (Titus 2:)
2That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. (Titus 2:)
At one time, and even in my day, this admonition to be sober and grave was taken very seriously. Older men in the church would look very much like bull dogs with their long faces and turned-down mouths. If there was anyone who was going to laugh in Heaven, according to the verse we're looking at, it would be them.
20But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (Mat 13:)
23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Mat 25:)
9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (John 15:)
22And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. (John 16:)
13And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:)
6And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: (1Thes 1:)
6Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:)
10Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (James 5:)
14But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; (1Peter 3:)
12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1Peter 4:)
21Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. 22Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. 23Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: (Luke 6:)
It appears by these verses that the ones who experience joy and happiness are those who we would expect to be worrying and crying. It's those being persecuted for Christ's sake that are happy. And it's those who suffer and die for Him, who sacrifice for Him (and others) who will enter into the joy of the Lord.
It's been said that those who were fed to the lion during the Roman torture of the Christians were amazingly happy about (and during) their ordeal. I suspect this joy was not natural, but rather it was something given to them at the time by the Holy Spirit.
If we try to make this life our joy, if we neglect to sacrifice in the here in now, then we will be one of those who weep and grind their teeth in eternity. Is this the way you read what is said here? If not, then how do you read it?
"Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets."
We learned that if we seek our own good here on earth, then in eternity we will be given what we least want. We're taught to please people, to have others like us, to be a part of the crowd. We wear the right labels on our clothes, the right hat for the occasion, the proper tattoos and nose jewelry for the fashion set we look to be a part of. Whatever it takes to be popular, we do. That's just the way we are. We sacrifice everything, including our integrity, to be one of the in-crowd.
During the days of the Old Testament those prophets who said what the people, and especially the high mucky-mucks wanted said, were treated well and placed in high positions. Those who went against the grain, who repeated God's words faithfully, were castigated and persecuted. It's not popular or safe to stand up for God.
Today if a person is a good speaker and tickles the ears of the congregation they can become rich and famous. Say something just a little out of line, not in tune with the popular doctrine of the day or the church, and it's out on your ear. I hear some preachers that straddle the line at times, as if they knew the truth, but didn't want to jump in head first and take the chance of becoming just another statistic. Yet it's those who become part of the statistics we see around the throne in the Book of Revelation..
"But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation."
We read earlier that the blessings fall to the poor. Here we have presented to us what we can expect if we're not one of the poor. We have two principle questions to ask ourself if we aren't poor, the first question having been answered to some degree in the section above, and that is: What is a woe? The next question we have to ask ourself is: What is rich? If I have ten dollars in my pocket, am I rich? If I have a house and a car, do I fall into the category of those who will suffer the Tribulation? If I have a television set, will I be gnashing my teeth in eternity? Let's examine what riches are according to the Bible:
23Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Mat 19:)
22He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (Mat 13:)
19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Mat 6:)
15And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 16And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 16:)
1And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. (Luke 21:)
9For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. (2Cor 8:)
4He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1Tim 6:)
9Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. (James 1:)
5Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? (James 2:)
1Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. 4Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. 5Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. (James 5:)
16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (Rev 3:)
If it seems as if I'm looking for something specific here, I am. All my life I've heard it preached that it's ok for the rich to be rich, just as long as they appreciate their riches and gave God the glory for their riches. How does a person give God the glory for their riches? Good question. I hope you have the answer to that question because I haven't got a clue.
[As a side note, you may have noticed how there are a few times in both testaments when the term "go to" is used, as it is in the verse before the last one above. Go to is a word that means "Come now," or "come on now," or it can also be read "lead the way." Whatever, I find it an interesting phrase.]
We read in the woe we're examining that the rich already have their consolation. What is the consolation they already have? The Greek word for consolation has the same base and is almost exactly like the word for "the Comforter" Jesus said He would send. The Holy Spirit gives comfort, or consolation; while the poor receive consolation.
I suspect at least a big part of what Jesus is saying is that on this earth the rich have spent their time and energy making life comfortable for themselves, while the poor have missed out on life's comfort. If a person is more concerned with themself then they are for others, they will miss out on what Eternity has to offer.
Here's another passage about a rich man, and it tells us something about the poor as well. Maybe this is the one the preachers use to support their notion that riches are ok in God's eyes:
19There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (Luke 18:)
Nope, struck out again. Is it possible that the sin of avarice is supported by those behind the pulpit because they don't want to tear down their own barns? Or might it be that if all the people in church followed the Biblical principle of the blessed, that is, the poor, they would be dipping into the poor box themselves?
All this, the question of riches, brings to mind the question I asked earlier: What is rich? How much am I allowed to keep, to hoard for myself and hold back from those who are destitute? Is there a formula we can use to determine if we're rich or if we're poor, and if we're following Jesus' commandment to give of our riches to the poor?
20The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (Mat 19:)
33So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:)
27Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? (Mat 19:)
6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (1Tim 6:)
30Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. (Luke 6:)
17But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. (1John 3:)
It appears to me that God wants His people to live on bread and water, the same thing He gave the Hebrews in the wilderness for forty years, during the test He put them through to see if they would appreciate and trust Him. We see here that all we're entitled to is bread and some clothes that last a long time. That's a far cry from steak and kidney pie. And it appears that even this meager subsistence we're to surrender if we see someone in need, or if someone asks us for it, or if someone steals it from us. When Jesus says "poor," He means "poor!"
12Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. 13The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. 14I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. 15I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. 16I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out. 17And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth. (Job 29:)
12They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul. 13But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. 14I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother. 15But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not: (Psalm 35:
28Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? (2Cor 11:)
Here we have the words of Job, Jesus (through a prophetic psalm), and Paul expressing their empathy to the point of extreme sacrifice. They gave their all, even to hurting right along with those in sorrow.
Jesus and the Apostles were not only preaching to the poor of the world, they were the poor. They were without home, family, income or support. What they were given, over and above their absolute subsistence, they gave away to the poor. An exception to this was Judas, who robbed from the poor box, and we know what happened to him.
In the Beatitudes Jesus referred to the joy those who are poor, those without, experience. For many years I lived on the road, just me and my bicycle and what I could carry on the bike. The rest of the time I either lived in my car or in the van I now have. I lived pretty well as did the vagabond Jews (the which Jesus was), and I can attest that those years of my life were among the happiest and the most freeing of any other. When we own even a pot to cook in, that pot becomes a burden, an anchor that binds us to it. We humans own nothing, whatever we have owns us, and causes us to believe we need more of what we have. We believe that a full table, a house full of goodies, is not only our right, but our essential needs. People will show me their wonderful things, their grand houses and their wall-to-wall televisions, and all the while they're showing me these things, they're telling me about the even bigger and better items they have planned in the future. They tell me what great Christians they are, and how God blesses them with their wealth. And, what amazes me, all the while they're displaying their bag full of loot, they're telling me how they are among the poor, and that the government isn't treating them, the poor, fairly.
When I see all the wonderful things people have, does it cause me to want to run out and buy for myself all the wonderful, flesh-satisfying things this modern world has to offer? Not! Correction, there is a part of me that desires these things, and that part of me may take control of my mind for a moment or two. But very quickly my thoughts turn to all the people without homes, without food, and without a means by which to keep warm on frigid nights. I think of the children who have to eat out of garbage cans; and I want to run home and get rid of all my abundance, my wealth of old and second-hand stuff I have that no one else would have (my "riches"). When I see the abundance those of the churches have, and how blind they are to their condition, it cause me to regret that I have anything at all. Having five bicycles, mostly throwaways, and a 42 year old van places me in the same category as the poor rich people who are so blessed with cursed material goods, but seem to be deprived of the Spiritual blessings that come from caring for those God has favored.
It is said that when we entertain strangers, especially those poor strangers who are placed in our path, we may be entertaining angels unawares. We see this with Abraham, and with Lot, and Jacob who even wrestled an angel. I highly suspect there have been angels the Lord has sent my way, and often in the form I would never have guessed their true identity. Consider that dirty vagabond who you see wandering the highways and byways; isn't that what Jesus did during His ministry? We picture Jesus as tall, handsome, sparkling clean, with robes that almost glowed from their whiteness. Not so. According to what has been written of Him He appeared to be of no significance whatever, someone we wouldn't give a second glance to if it wasn't for His preaching and His miracles.
Consider Lazarus. Couldn't the description of Lazarus fit that of Job perfectly? Job said when he was at the top of his game everyone respected and feared him. But when he was in great pain and need, everyone despised him. With Job, the end brought him wealth and success unimaginable, and those who believed themselves to be righteous, and who defended God's integrity, found themselves to be at the wrong end of the stick, and had to give of their wealth to Job. The last shall be first; and those who have not will be deprived of what they do have.
17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
21Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
27Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 31It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
33Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 30Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. (Mat 5:)
Yes, you've already seen most of this, but there's another point I'd like to make that these passages exemplify. We're taught that Jesus came to do away with the law, and to give us freedom to do as we please without fear of reprisal. Besides this making no sense whatever, nor is such a concept found nowhere in life, it is completely without Biblical foundation. In fact such a concept goes against what is written and exemplified in the Word of God. In the passages above we see where Jesus raised the bar of what constitutes a sin, He didn't lower it. The laws are not abandoned, they've been taken off stone and placed on the heart of those who truly believe (Heb 8:10; 10:16). We think of poor as being without modern luxuries, of being deprived of the latest invention or innovation. But Jesus makes it abundantly clear that we are to remain without any of these thing (2Cor 6:17), to be content with the minimum.
Another way we've corrupted the words and the purpose for His coming to earth is in assuming He took away all our responsibilities when He sacrificed Himself on the cross of Calvary. We think when Jesus said "It is finished," that it relieved us, not only from past sins, but from all future sins, and from having to live up to what He spent three and a half years telling us we have to do.
Consider for a moment: let's say you and I were sent to do a job, to build a house, an example Jesus used often to describe the building of the Church (Mat 7:24; 16:18). First of all we have Jesus, who is the cornerstone of the house (Eph 2:20; Mark 12:10). Then we have Paul who says he and the other Apostles built (and are) the foundation of the house (1Cor 3:10; Rev 21:14). Now, the house is not complete having just the cornerstone and the foundation, it needs doors and walls and a roof to be of any use at all. Let's say it's your job to build the walls, and it's my job to put in the doors, windows and the roof. You finish your job of building the walls, then you stand back, sigh, and say "Ah, it is finished." I say, "Good, I like it just like it is, let's go home."
Of course that's a silly picture, a dumb example. Just because you finished your part of the building, and the foundation has been put in place, doesn't mean my job is finished as well. In fact I can't even begin my part of the building until everyone else has finished their part. The foundation of the Church was laid by the Apostles and prophets (2Sam 7:5-14; Heb 11:10; 2Cor 3:14; 5:1-4). Their part is finished, but if we're to be a part of the building, the Temple (the "house") God is planning on dwelling in, we have to do all we can to finish the building (1Cor 3:8-10; Rev 21:14-18; Eph 2:11-22; Isaiah 60:14-22).
Read the Bible, from start to finish with this concept in mind, and see if what God is telling us in His Word doesn't become very clear and understandable.
43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? (Mat 5:)
Interesting enough while I'm writing this study my Sunday School class is spending the month examining charity and doing for others. The teacher made the statement that only a Christian can fulfill the command to do for others, that is, to love. As I've pointed out in this study, from what I've seen the Christians are doing no more than are those outside the church to help the needy. There are individuals both in and out of the church who care for people. Being a part of the church system is not a sign that a person is more charitable than if he or she was an atheist or part of some other religious organization.
Jesus said "don't the heathen do the same?" And of course, the correct response is, yes, the heathen do do the same.
35But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:)
This kind of mercy takes more than just being a humanitarian. As for myself, I consider myself more of a humanitarian than most people, but I doubt I could go to this extreme. I would like to think I could, but I hope my ability to do so is never tested, at least not more than it already has been tested.
31And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
We, in our colloquial way, rephrase this command by saying "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The idea being that we should give consideration to our actions and our words to see if we would like the same to be returned to us. When we're upset or if we act before we think, then what should we do to correct our unrighteous behavior? I find it hard to admit I've been wrong and to ask forgiveness, but I find that it's not my confessing that causes the other person to know I was wrong, it only serves to let them know I know I was wrong.
37Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:)
Jesus said not to give with thoughts of recompense or reward in mind. Yet time after time I hear preachers use this passage to support giving, not just giving, but giving to the church. They present this passage as a byline when it's time to preach on tithing, what appears to be their favorite subject.
As for me, I read this to say whatever we give, what we sow in other words, is what we will receive in abundance. Is it money and things we want? We're not supposed to want these things, which Jesus said we're to avoid (James 4:3). In this study we're looking at the blessings the poor receive, so why would Jesus tell us how to get rich so we can endure the woes the rich will receive? For myself, I want more knowledge of Him and His Word. I want more of the Holy Spirit. In fact at present I want to be able to lay hands on people and heal them. If what is said here is true, then the more knowledge, the more of the Holy Spirit I impart, and the more I try to heal and to help others in distress, the more of the same I'll receive in return.
Consider, when the time comes for judging, what will seem the most important to us? Will our huge bank account seem so valuable when we stare at a smoking pit? When we learn we're dying of cancer, will our house full of goodies look as appealing as would one good sure-fire cure for our disease?
41And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. (Luke 6:)
We of the church are quick to see and judge the failures of others, how they don't live up to the standards of the Bible. How difficult it is for us to see our own failures, the areas where we don't live up to our own standards, the standards we pretend to live by.
43For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 44For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. 45A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. (Luke 6:)
The Bible speaks a great deal about producing fruit, and the consequences for not producing fruit. Israel was essentially cut down because of the lack of fruit (John 15:2; Mark 11:12-14; Luke 13:6-9). What was the fruit they weren't producing? Were they cast out for not obeying the laws? Was it perhaps that they didn't observe the Sabbath, the reason they had been cast out in the past? No, the reason they were disapproved was because of their lack of mercy (Mat 12:7; Micah 6:8; Zech 7:9-11; Mat 5:7).
All through the New Testament we see where we're admonished to treat others better (or at least as good as) than we treat ourselves, even our enemies and those who seek to do us harm. We're to love, and not just love, but to love from the heart. This is the law we now live under. If we love, then all the rest of the laws are being fulfilled because love is the purpose of the law (Mat 22:39-40). It's through our display of love that we demonstrate our obedience to the laws we've been given, those laws that are supposedly written on our heart, and that shows the world we are a disciple of Jesus (Gal 5:22: John 13:35). If a tree doesn't produce good fruit, its lack of fruit is evidence that it isn't a good tree, a tree worth keeping and nurturing. It's the same with the fruits of the Spirit, which we see love is a product of (Gal 5:22). If we aren't showing love, then we can assume we don't have the Holy Spirit within us, that we're not a disciple of Jesus, that we are not actually converted (born again), and so therefore we're heading for that pit we accuse everyone else of being on the path toward.
46And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: 48He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:)
I see a lot of houses, of churches and Christian lives, built on words without actions (James 2:20, 26). We Christians are very good at casting aspersions, at throwing stones from our glass houses. But when it comes to living up to our words, we stand behind our plastic wall of doctrine that serves as a "get out of jail free" card. We claim diplomatic immunity because of a pool of water we passed through, the cross where Jesus died to free us of or sins (not to sin), or of the church we attend. When the time comes for our judgement, it's none of these that will save us, but rather it's the following that Jesus will be looking at:
14And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! (Luke 15:)
A little over a week ago I came across an elderly couple while I was on my bike ride. As per usual I stopped to ask about their destination, and if they needed anything. As it turned out they were homeless, and homeless in such a way that few homeless people are. Lots of people are homeless, as I had been most of my life. I thought little of their being homeless until I realized that they didn't know how to be homeless, and they were on their last legs. I say they were on their last legs because they were hardly able to take one step after another, and they had been eating out of trash cans. When living on the streets (in contrast to living on the road as I had been doing) there are city laws that have to be obeyed. One such law requires that a person have no sleeping bag or way to keep out of the weather or to cook a meal. So this couple (ages 73 and 70) had gone 6 days, having to move constantly and eat out of trash cans. I told them it was over and they weren't going to live on the streets any more, no matter what it takes. I put them up that night, and the next day they found there is a rescue mission in the next town, over 50 miles from the town in which I live. I drove them to the bus stop and made sure they were securely on their way before returning home.
No one would help them. How can that be? There are about 20 churches here in this small town, many of them very large buildings with lots of additional rooms. We have hundreds of people attending these churches, and no telling how many more Christians who don't attend church, all shuffling from one place to another throughout the day. Yet no one, none of these Christians would give them to eat. None of these churches would take them in and keep them from dying on the streets. (The man had a swollen leg, almost double normal, and they both admitted that they didn't think they would have survived another night, a statement that needed no other evidence than to look at them.)
Here was an opportunity for the Christians, the churches of this town, to practice what they preach. Yet all of them failed the test.
I understand that we, you, I, nor any of the churches, can take care of all the homeless. And I know there are many of those who are homeless that are homeless because that's the lifestyle they've chosen (as did I). And there are others who are outright criminal, or who would take advantage of a person or church's open door to leach off of them. However, this couple was obviously in none of these categories, otherwise I certainly wouldn't have taken them in and prepared myself for the long haul if need be.
I've had my days when I would have been glad to find corn husks to chew on because I was so hungry. I know the feeling. And it's for that reason I'm so sensitive to other people who are without, who hunger. And it's for this reason, the sympathy we feel for those in need, that God has each of those who choose to serve Him, who take on His name, go through hard situations. We read:
12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1Peter 4:)
11It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: (2Tim 2:)
It is said "Don't judge another person until you've walked a mile in his moccasins." Of course that means not to judge others until you've gone through their experiences. This stands equally true in regards to appreciation. We can't appreciate another person until we've had their experiences. This is one reason God has us go though the life experiences we do, so we can understand and appreciate others, and Jesus as well. We say the words, that we appreciate, but we really don't. If we appreciated Jesus and His love and sacrifice for us, then we would be doing the same for others who are in need. John asks the question, how can we say we love God who we can't see, when we don't love our brother who we can see? (1John 4:20) There are those needing our help our understanding and our love everywhere. God has made sure we're amply supplied with a multitude of needy people. If we're not finding them, then we must be doing as the Levite and the Pharisee did on the way to Jericho, turning a blind eye to them.
[I want to add a note here: those people you hand a quick 20 dollar bill to, the ones holding the signs, are not the ones in need. These are the takers out for quick buck. It's those on the road, those who it's hard to give to and would rarely accept even what's offered to them who are the needy. Salving your conscience by tossing money at those cardboard signs is not the same as fulfilling the admonition to love your neighbor, or to sacrifice to the needy. You're just getting robbed, and feeling good about it.]
31Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:)
The people were wanting the bread "forever more" that God through Moses provided, that would fill their belly. Jesus was offering Spiritual fulfillment, and it's the Spiritual food and drink He said those who come to Him will never hunger or thirst for. We, being carnal, think on carnal terns, and we seek to feed our carnal, fleshly nature. Those who live after the Spirit will sacrifice the carnal and seek the Spiritual. If we're still looking to feed our carnal nature, then we're either not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, or we're not being led by the Spirit. Either way we may feel fully confident that we're part of God's Kingdom when in fact we have no part in the Kingdom (James 1:22; Rom 8:12-14; Gal 5:16-18)
5And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 16And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. (Luke 12:)
Man is by nature obsessive, and he's a collector. Have you ever met someone who had a collection of any kind? Maybe you have a collection yourself. As a boy I used to collect comics, marbles, and something almost unheard of today, bottle caps. We used to collect what's called green stamps as well, but things like green stamps and box tops was like money to us, we could use it to purchase something we wanted. Of course the advertisers weren't thinking of the good of the consumer when they offered these premiums. It was to get us to buy more of their product, usually something we could well do without.
My collection of comic books hoovered around a total of a thousand when I shuffled myself off to Basic Training in the Army. I was a collector. And I'm still a collector. Although I've rid myself of most my books, I still can't let go of the broken and inoperative computers and parts I have stashed away in case of an emergency. I say emergency because I live on the computer, doing my writing and studying, and I've had four computers all quit on me at the same time. Because of this I keep plenty of spares on hand, for the most part nothing anyone else wants, so they give them to me.
I also collect pictures. I used to have many boxes of pictures I used as references for my art. I got rid of all those boxes, as well as the many, many boxes of CD's, video tapes and DVD's I had stashed way (maybe fifty or so boxes of "stuff" all toll). The pictures I now collect are digital, mostly pictures of cars I copy from the web. At least this collection doesn't take up any space, and it's free. My collection of my own writing I can't say the same for. It takes up a lot of room in my little trailer, and the equipment to print and bind it is rather expensive..
I also have a hard time passing by a bicycle. I like to collect bikes, but I resist the urge, although, as I said earlier, I do have several around the place.
What am I saying here? I'm confessing to having a carnal nature, I'm a collector, and I've built barns for my collections. I understand the mind of a collector, and that of a compulsive person.
I don't think I'm the only compulsive collector around, nor do I think I'm the only obsessive person in my vicinity. I suspect many of you reading what I have to say are obsessive as well, and I hope your collections are of those things that benefit rather than those that merely take up space and collect dust.
We humans go whatever direction we face. That's the way all God's creatures are (other than such animals as the crawdad that scurries where he can't see, a dangerous things for us to do). If we choose to exercise, we reach a point where we want to exercise more. If we stay in bed, it's in bed we tend to spend most of our time. If we eat....
We do more of whatever we choose to do. The man who had too much for his barn wanted, not to give his surplus to the poor, or to even sell it so others can eat, but to store it away for his own consumption at a later date. This is what is called "selfishness."
Tell me, if you had a harvest, and the harvest was more than you needed (in contrast to wanted), what would you do with the surplus?
How many times have I said "If I was in their place, I wouldn't do that"? I've said it often, then when I was in their place, I did what they did. I know my nature, my failed character. Because of this awareness I try to avoid saying I wouldn't do such and such. I can only hope I wouldn't do such-and-such, because I recognize my potential. Because of my ability to fail, to fall into sin, I try to stay just as far away from temptation as I can, which all too often isn't far enough away.
It's hard to let go. Becoming a Christian should change this nature, and I believe it does change many people's nature, and maybe everyone's nature. But like me, although I know I was originally relieved of many if not all my carnality, my old habits, I have on occasion gone back to pick some of it up and played with it. And true to form, what I play with, I want to play with more, and more, and.....
When we're full, as Christians particularly, we should have no problem giving up our extra sandwich to someone who's hungry. But like the baby in the crib, we yank what we don't want out of our sibling's hands and cry out "Mine!!"
It's our nature to be selfish. And it's our nature we have to change. For this reason God provided His nature through the Holy Spirit to help us in our effort to change, and become more like God. God is a giver. We're formed in the image of God, and those who are truly converted have the Spirit of God (Mat:5:48) leading them. God would give to the poor. If we're not willing to give of our surplus to the poor and needy, then how can we say we have the Spirit of God working in us? (James 1:22-27)
31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Mat 25:)
4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. (Acts 9:)
20If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (James 4:)
1Let brotherly love continue. 2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Heb 13:)
20And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. (Ex 20:)
1All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers. 2And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. 3And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but BY EVERY WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. (Deut 8:)
10But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. 11My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. 12Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. (Job 23: see Job 1:9-12)
1Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. 2Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. (Psalm 26:)
1Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. (Mat 4:)
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