The gambling industry isn’t a charity. Rather it refers to itself as “gaming,” “entertainment,” “recreation,” and “leisure.”
Whatever term or terms they use, their main business is taking your money. They do this by taking money from gamblers, then giving small portions back to some gamblers in “winnings” some of the time, but keeping most of the money for themselves. How much money? Over $100 billion in 2005, while state lotteries raked in another $53 billion. With billions of dollars in profits, some gamblers may be winning – but most are losing! Continue reading A Stacked Deck
The first seven beatitudes describe the kind of people we ought to be. The final beatitude is different; it is not a characteristic but a consequence! Discipleship involves suffering.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (vs. 11).
Continue reading “Happy Are Those Who Have Been Persecuted for the Sake of Righteousness…”
Songs are everywhere in Scripture. The people of God sing. They express reverence in extolling the majesty of God, thankfulness for His grace, and humility for the mercy of Christ. Biblical hymns gather the voices of men, women, and children into century-tiered choirs. Moses sang. Miriam sang. Deborah sang. David sang. Mary sang. Angels sang. Jesus and His disciples sang. Paul and Silas sang.
When people of faith become aware of who God is and what He has done, they sing! The songs are irrepressible.
Then I heard every creature in Heaven on earth, and under the earth, and on the sea, and all things that are in them singing:
“To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb,
Be blessing and honor and glory and dominion
Forever and forever.”
– Adapted from Living the Message, by Eugene Peterson
What a shock those words must have been to those who heard the Lord that day. In Jesus of Nazareth, they were beginning to see the potential of a great leader. During the next three years, His fame and renown would increase. They wanted a king, a Messiah who would throw off the yoke of Roman oppression and gloriously lead them in restoring the kingdom of David and Solomon. Continue reading “Happy are the Peacemakers…”
When Ellison Research asked more than one thousand American adults if they believed in the concept of sin (defined as “something that is almost always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral perspective”), 87 percent said yes. What kind of behavior fits in that category? Here’s what America labels as sin:
· Adultery 81%
· Racism 74%
· Using “hard” drugs 65%
· Having an abortion 56%
· Homosexual activity 52%
· Under reporting income on tax returns 52%
· Using pornography 50%
· Premarital sex 49%
· Telling a “little white lie” 29%
· Not attending church 18%
Ellison Research, March 11, 2008
Certainly that must be one of the greatest statements in all the Bible. Jesus focuses attention on the center of true religion. Outside appearances, looking and acting religious do not make us acceptable to God – rather it is the condition of the heart.
The heart has always been the source of all our troubles. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, envy, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7.21-23). Continue reading “Happy Are the Pure in Heart…”
Christianity is the way of life. It is not a set of formal rules to be memorized. It is a way of life that is designed for us to think about and to work at in order to make us progressively better people – it’s called “spiritual growth.”
None of us, at the beginning of our Christian life, knows all about this way of living and usually don’t do a very good job of practicing it. There may be some in this beginning who know a lot of Scripture, maybe even being able to quote large sections of the New Testament, but still be a long way from making Christianity their way of life. Continue reading Christianity, the Way
The first four beatitudes parallel the last four. When we become impoverished of spirit we understand our overwhelming need for God’s mercy and therefore learn and long to extend mercy to others.
When we mourn over our sins, recognizing the gracious yet terrible cost for our redemption, penitent obedience purifies our heart.
When we are meek, we will have harnessed our strength and brought our life under the restraint and control of God – the result of which we are at peace with God and seek to be peacemakers among men. Continue reading “Happy Are the Merciful…”
Food and water are essential to life. We are driven to satisfy the body’s demands of hunger and thirst. We know what it feels like to be hungry and thirsty and the cravings for food and water such hunger generates. In the fourth beatitude Jesus used this most basic human need to teach His hearers their souls needed nourishment as well.
Just as the body craves and demands food and drink, so the soul hungers and thirsts. But there is a difference – our bodies let us know when we’re hungry and thirsty. We experience physical discomfort and anxiety – not so the soul. We can’t feel its lack of nourishment, so we must be all the more cautious and alert to its needs. Continue reading “Happy Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness…”
You’re kidding, right? Happy are the meek?! What world are you living in? Meekness, “do unto others,” “turn the other cheek”: All those sweet sounding platitudes may be good for church and for teaching kids in Sunday school, but as a realistic lifestyle, it doesn’t work like that. Life’s too mean, too intense, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and meekness just doesn’t cut it.
That’s the general sort of reaction you get when you start talking about meekness. Maybe because it rhymes with weakness it is thought to characterize the weak, timid, and frightened. You know – “meek as a mouse.” Continue reading “Happy Are the Meek…”