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Posted By Nan

We are comforted
Matthew 5:4.
Those who mourn do so for three reasons. There is the obvious grief at losing someone or thing you love, then there is the grief for the suffering of others and finally grief at your own sinfulness and Jesus’ suffering to pay for it.
In all those forms of mourning you are brought low, to a place of utter dependence on God. It is from that place of helplessness that God will bring us. He will lift us up and comfort us. He will give us the strength to carry on. It is from that place that we are willing to accept God’s help and not try to do it ourselves. It is that realisation that what is happening in life is beyond our ability to manage. God does move mountains and He performs miracles.
He promises in Isaiah 61:2 and Revelation 7:7 that He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. He will just not do that at the end, but any time we need His comfort.
We are blessed when we mourn because we have God. We have His comfort. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that.
We are blessed when we mourn for all those who are suffering in life because we can ask God to help them. That is far better than feeling helpless at being unable to help all those who are desperately in need.
We are blessed when we realise the enormity of, not only our sin, but the sin of the entire world. We will be comforted by the knowledge of the cross and by our acceptance of the precious gift Jesus has to give us. When we feel guilty about something we have done there is comfort in being able to repay our debt. When we mourn for our sin we are comforted by Jesus willingness to wipe away our sin so the debt is repaid. This may not seem like much to those who fail to comprehend how awful sin is and how much it hurts God but to the follower of the narrow way it is everything.
Jesus is our comforter when we mourn.
For reading and reflecting on over the coming days: Isaiah 61, which is related to this blog.

Posted By Nan

We are blessed.
We are blessed because we follow the narrow way. We live in the joy of knowing that Jesus is our Saviour, that he died for us and that daily He grows more and we grow less. That is the blessedness, the God given joy, of following the narrow way. The world is a fickle place and our happiness within the world is changeable. We cannot guarantee permanent happiness, but the blessedness of following the narrow way is a joy that is rooted in the greatness of our Lord, Jesus Christ and it is permanent.
The first beatitude in verse 3 says great joy comes when we realise our utter helplessness with all that happens in life. Instead we put our trust in God because in Him we belong to the Kingdom of Heaven. We survive in this world by keeping close to God. We grow stronger not because we have greater strength but because our confidence and trust in God grows stronger. The more we ask God for help the more He gives us and the stronger we are. Paul wrote about this in Corinthians 12:10 when he stated “when I am weak then I am strong”.  When we ask God He gives us the strength to go on. That is our strength and the only source of that strength is God and the only way we can build up our strength is in trusting God.
In Hosea 13:5-6 it is written that God took care of us in the wilderness, in the dry and thirsty land. But after He had given us food and water and we were satisfied, we became proud and forgot God. That is so true. When things are bad we cling to God in desperation. But when things are good we think we did it on our own and we forget to thank God or lean on Him. It is one of the biggest traps we can fall into and has no place on the narrow way.
Better to be poor in spirit than lacking in humility. We are blessed when we realise that apart from God we can do nothing. We are blessed when we are willing to be broken, to accept that we can receive nothing unless it has been given to us from Heaven (John 3:27). We are blessed when we follow God and continue to rely on Him. Then we are strong.
For reading and reflecting on over the coming days: Matthew 5:1-12

Posted By Nan

Blessed are …
I have learned when writing my blog to follow God’s leading in what I write. This instruction I resisted for a while, because I have already covered this section of Matthew. But patiently God has shown me why it is essential to revisit The Sermon on the Mount when discussing discipleship. We become so familiar with all the old metaphors and parables and symbolism that we forget to actually look at them. In our lives we become expert at rushing ahead, thinking we have everything done already and with no need to learn anything. If we approach God with that attitude we risk missing important messages He has for us. That is why I spent so long looking at what we have to do to enter the gate and follow on the narrow way. There are many who may have become bored with this, thinking there was nothing for them to learn in that and that is their decision, but there was a lot of learning there and important reminding. My family are currently reading through Deuteronomy and we are coming to the end of the book, when Moses is reminding the people of the rituals they were to conduct before God. There has been much discussion of the importance of remembering and not forgetting what God has done for us. We have the example of the people of Israel to show what happens when we forget. It is very easy to do and very important to stop often and revisit some old truths. One of the things I love about the Bible is that fact that every time I read a verse, no matter how many times I have read it, I learn something new. After all, the Bible is the only book in the world where the author is leaning over our shoulder pointing out bit for us to focus on and instructing us. There is as much depth of meaning in the verses of the Bible as there are times we read it.
So to the study of the Sermon on the Mount. Those first two verses in Matthew 5 set the stage for the teaching. Jesus was followed by a great crowd. When He saw them He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him and he began to teach them. So who were the disciples? The crowds. How did all the people hear Him if He was sitting down? Good question. Perhaps He sat on a large rock, perhaps the mountain had amazing acoustics, perhaps those who could hear relayed the message back or maybe the Holy Spirit allowed every person to hear Jesus’ voice. The crowds certainly gained something from being there, because they stayed. The people of Israel were used to the teaching of the rabbis who would sit down and gather people around them to be taught. For them Jesus’ sitting down was a cue to sit and listen patiently. I wonder how much we, in our busy lives, actually sit down and listen patiently? Not only do we need to listen, we also need to reflect on what we hear. One of the most important aspects of following the narrow way is to be still, listen to God and take the time to reflect on what He has taught. One of the loveliest ways to learn is to reflect in God’s presence and allow Him to reply. I teach a lot of life skills to people who lack them and one thing that frustrates me is the insistence on forms of meditation to relax us. In truth, the best form of relaxation I know is to meditate on the Bible in God’s presence. To sit at His feet is truly the most relaxing and peaceful thing to do. Such a vital aspect of following the narrow way. We all need to make time to do that.
For reading and reflecting on over the coming days: Matthew 5:1-12

Posted By Nan

The Patience of God.
2 Peter 3:9, 11-16 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
Before I move on from entering the narrow gate I want to draw attention to 2 Peter 3. Here Peter reminds the readers that God loves us and is patient. He wants us all to be saved and He allows the time for that to happen. That doesn’t mean you can decide, as some do, that you don’t have to accept Jesus until you know you are about to die. (Will you know when that time comes? Will you have enough warning to make your hasty repentance? Will Jesus consider you a sheep or a goat is you manage to repent? Will you repentance truly be genuine?) But it does mean that God is patient with you. He is patient over all those hesitations along that narrow way, with all the longing to be on an easier path, to go alone with what your friends think or the world suggests you should do. He is patient when you slip and fall off the path and He forgives you and helps you back on the path. Remember God wants you to live Holy and Godly lives. He wants you to make the effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. The only way to do that is to fully accept the gift of salvation Jesus has won for you and continue to accept it. It means being willing to stay on that narrow path and seeking Him. It means accepting and embracing that precious gift Jesus gave of His salvation and His intercession for us with God.
For reading and reflecting on over the coming days: 2 Peter 3, Matthew 5:1-12

Posted By Nan

For God so loved the world
You may wonder why I have spent so long talking about following the narrow way, the good shepherd, the greatest commandment, the sheep and the goats, the parable of the sower and being born again. After all, they all talk about the importance of accepting Jesus and following Him. And that is why I have spent so long talking about accepting Jesus. Because it is important and so many people fail to understand that and fail to accept Him. They think, as did the old Christian man, that coming from a Christian family saves them. That going to church every Sunday saves them. But it doesn’t. If you don’t take that first step to come to faith in God through Jesus then you can never follow the narrow way. You can never be one of the sheep. I am not going to write much today because this is about you and time reflecting on what you believe and you having a conversation with God about your faith. Remember, if there is anything you are unsure of ask Him. He wants nothing more than for you to have eternal life. If you ask, He will meet you and send the Holy Spirit to show you the way.
I suggested you read John 3:16-21 at the end of the last entry. You may have done that, or you may not have. If you did or if you didn’t will you read it again now? Read it understanding that this is a message for you. This message applies whether you have accepted Jesus already or are yet to do so. It is God’s message of love to you. May you be blessed by it.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” NIV



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