Happy are the Pure in Heart – April 30, 2021

As long as you love Jesus and go to church, does it matter how you live? We live in a day in which the vast majority of church attenders are satisfied to allow that to be the sum total of their religious life. Spiritual disciplines such as reading the Bible and prayer are seen as the things that the super spiritual do. The pursuit of life is not godliness, but pleasure. We believe that because we prayed a ditty, we are Christian. Yet in the middle of the list of blessed people, Jesus dropped a bomb on this thinking. He stated, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8).

To be pure in heart means to be completely separated from sin. No sin stains the life. The word pure means to be completely cleaned and spotless. We often use another word: holiness. To understand this, we must examine two important thoughts. First, when you come to Christ in salvation, confessing your sin and acknowledging Him as Lord, His righteousness is placed on you. We become righteous (holy). You are now positionally pure. Many stop here. But second, we must understand that true purity demonstrates itself in functional purity. In other words, true Christians act like Christians. They are concerned for purity in their life. Ephesians 5:6-15 informs us, Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Those who are truly pure in heart have nothing to do with a sinful lifestyle. They seek with all their power to please God.

The result is that the pure in heart will see God. Their purity reveals their standing. They are truly children of God. They have full confidence in their standing because everything in their life confirms their righteousness through Christ. They know that the day is coming in which God will say to them, “Well done, enter into glory.” And for all eternity, they will see God face to face. Christian, take purity seriously. Live out your faith. If you don’t value holiness, you need to check whether you are even of the faith.

Happy are the Merciful – April 23, 2021

How do we respond when someone wrongs us, inconveniences us, or sins against us? Some hold to the old saying, “I don’t get mad, I just get even.” Others simmer until the final straw pushes them to explosion. Some begin to complain about the individual and slander them to others. Some demand their rights be honored. Some loudly and colorfully inform the individual of their crime. Few are inclined to show mercy.

Yet, we learn in the next Beatitude that it is the merciful that are happy, for they find mercy themselves. Christ stated, Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy (Matt. 5:7). The principle seems to be twofold. First, when you love to show mercy to others, others will show mercy to you. Second, when you show mercy to others, you demonstrate the mercy that God has and will show towards you. Whenever we come across people who are unhappy with life, it is inevitably true that they do not show mercy towards others. Instead, they stew in the bitterness of their “unjust” treatment. Further, it reveals that they do not truly understand the mercy of God.

We are reminded of the parable of the unforgiving servant. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matt. 18:23-35). We have mercy on others because God has shown incredible mercy to us. And when we show mercy to others, we find true joy and contentment. Happy are the merciful.

Happy are Those Who Hunger for God – April 16, 2021

Your view of God dictates your view of life. This is also true in the area of one’s happiness and satisfaction. Ecclesiastes spends significant time revealing that the pursuit of the things of this world is vanity. Nothing this world has to offer can bring true happiness. Seeking happiness through the things of this world is like chasing the wind. That promotion at work, that relationship you desire, that new toy you want, that new car you crave cannot bring lasting happiness. Instead, Christ informs us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). When we hunger for God, we can find true happiness.

When Scripture speaks of hunger, it indicates a driving pursuit for something. What is the driving pursuit of your life? From the moment of birth, the driving pursuit of our life is to have our own lusts and desires fulfilled. We seek comfort and satisfaction. Yet, this world cannot truly offer this. This only comes from God. As you cannot get enough of the food you love, so you should pursue God.

We are also to thirst after righteousness. Years ago, I went on a hike in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and foolishly forgot to take a water bottle. It was not long before I began to get a little dryness in my throat. That dryness soon turned into a burn. And the burn soon turned into a longing. When I was finally able to get to water, I felt as though I could never drink enough. After what seemed like gallons of water, I was satisfied. So it ought to be with God. The believer ought to long for God and righteousness like the traveler in the desert. He becomes the sole focus of our thinking. He becomes the sole desire we long for.

We are to hunger and thirst for righteousness. But what exactly is righteousness? One could simply define it as rightness with God. We come to rightness with God through salvation (or justification) in which we give our lives to God through faith and find forgiveness at the cross. We also find rightness with God through sanctification. Daily living our lives in a manner worthy of our salvation. We seek to have our lives reflect our justification.

When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we are promised that we will be filled. Like the experience of leaving a buffet, we will find fullness from God. This is when we find true happiness and satisfaction. You will not find true happiness through the things of this world, but you will find true happiness through an urgent pursuit of God. Live for God and find true joy.

My Sin, Nailed to the Cross – April 2, 2021

Consider for a moment the thought that God created all things with a word. Yet shortly after this creation, the gem, the prized creation determined that it would not longer fulfill its created purpose. Instead, mankind determined that they were gods themselves. From that day forward, every human has continued in this open rebellion. Through one man’s sin, all were made sinners. In justice, God fulfilled His warning to mankind and death entered the world. It awaits each of us. This means that you and I are not good people. Ephesians 2 informs us that we were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Yet God in his eternal love and goodness had determined a way of escape before He had created anything. From eternity past, the Triune God determined that the Son would enter into His creation, become His creation, and be murdered by His creation as a substitutional sacrifice for the sin of mankind. Over 2000 years ago today, Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for our sin. He took our sin on Himself on the cross. So that through faith, His righteousness could be placed on us. He endured cruel mockings and beatings. He endured blasphemy and ridicule. And ultimately, he endured the death of suffocation and excruciating pain in the cross. All so that you and I could enter into life through Him.

So today we echo the words written by Horatio Spafford:

My sin, o the bliss of this glorious thought,

My sin, not in part, but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross,

And I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

O my soul!

Happy are the Gentle – March 26, 2021

Bold, brash, and confident: these are the marks of someone who will change the world. Or so the world would have you think. We live in a society which loves and values brashness. One who stands up for themselves and takes no prisoners. The way to the top is by climbing over the bodies. However, Christ informs us that this is not God’s way. Those who would inherit the earth must learn to be gentle. The next attribute for happiness in the sermon on the mount is stated as, Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). It is not the bold, the brash, or the confident who will inherit the earth and find happiness, but the meek.

Many look down on meekness because they view it as weak. Meekness and weakness are not synonyms. Rather, some have described meekness as strength under control. To be meek means to be soft and gentle. The picture is of a large muscular father gently holding his newborn baby. While he has the strength to crush it, he holds it with tender compassion and love. Meekness knows when to use its strength and when to subdue it. It shows forth its strength in defense of others in the battle against sinfulness. It subdues it when it would result in selfish ambition.

Jesus is our greatest example of meekness. As he headed towards the cross, He was sorely mistreated: beaten, spit on, humiliated, and mocked. Yet in all of it 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:22-24). Our first reaction is often to seek revenge and restitution when mistreated. We scream loudly so that we can be heard above the din of the world. Yet, this is not the way of Christ.

Those who are gentle will inherit the earth. The Kingdom of God is coming in which we will rule and reign with Christ. All the misfortune and mistreatment in this world will be over. Through Christ, we will inherit the earth. While the way to the top today might be through boldness, brashness, and confidence, it is short lived and short sighted. Those who are gentle will inherit the eternal kingdom.

Don’t be known as a mean, vindictive, brash, angry person. Place your confidence in the eternal sacrifice of Christ. See the souls of men as more important than your rights or comfort. Be willing to respond like Christ to mistreatment. Be known as a gentle person. For the gentle will inherit the earth!

Happy are the Sad – March 19, 2021

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ makes a statement that seems outlandish. He states: Blessed (Happy) are those who mourn (Matthew 5:4). How can the sad be happy? How can the mourning person be blessed? This is an important concept for believers to understand because life is filled with sadness. Loss of loved ones, battles with illness, financial trials, loneliness, and conflict all lead to a steady stream of sadness. Paul recognized that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now (Romans 8:22 NASB). Even creation is longing for the suffering to end. Yet, Christ states clearly that those who mourn are blessed. How can this be?

We must first understand why we mourn so that our mourning is proper. This mourning is not referring to an improper mourning over selfish or sinful desires unfulfilled. This mourning refers to the recognition of the effects of sin in our world. This mourning occurs because we see that sin has corrupted the world. But not just any sin: our sin. Our world is broken, and our lives endure suffering because we sin. Death, decay, and depravity result from our sin. We mourn, not just over the loss of life, the physical struggle, the financial burden, the loneliness, or the conflict, but also over the sin which brought this all about. We mourn over a sin-stained world.

Understanding proper mourning leads to the ability for the sad to be happy in their sadness. Because Christ continues: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. This “shall be” event is both near and far future. It is far future in that the day is coming in which He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4). The day is coming in which God will redeem His creation and make all things right. Glory will be revealed, and mourning will cease eternally.

However, this is also a near future event as well. When the mourner comes to God with a recognition of their own sin and the reality of a sin-stained world, God will comfort them today. Our God invites you to cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). He promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). So, amid your mourning, look to your God for comfort. For he has promised, Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Happy are the Poor in Spirit – March 12, 2021

From the moment of birth, we are taught in this country to rely on our own abilities and make something of ourselves. We see ourselves as amazing. We tout our abilities and knowledge. We love us. The road to happiness is the one we pave with our accomplishments. Then we wonder why happiness eludes us. It might just be that we are looking in the wrong place.

Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with a series of blessing statements. The word blessing is a word which translates also as happy, fortunate, free from daily cares and worries. As Christ used it, it pictured a person in close communion with God who lives in peace and contentment. Through this section found in Matthew 5, Jesus gives a glimpse into the secret of true happiness. This glimpse reveals that happiness is not found where we expected.

First, Jesus informs us that the poor in spirit are the ones who are happy. These are the ones marked by spiritual poverty. While as believers we acknowledge our need for salvation, we see ourselves as basically good. At least better than others. We constantly look to correct others’ incorrect thinking without looking in the mirror. Yet, Jesus informs us that happiness comes when we recognize our spiritual poverty. We have no goodness in ourselves. We are spiritually bankrupt. We are totally destitute and completely dependent on God. We have no innate goodness. And every ability we have is a gift from God (James 1:17). Pride leads to frustration, while humility leads to happiness. This stands in stark contrast to all the world teaches. We are supposed to tout our abilities and knowledge. We are supposed to mock and ridicule opponents to bolster our arguments. We are right to look down on others for their “stupidity.”

Unfortunately, this mindset has also infiltrated the church. Think of the average Sunday. We inform those around us of our goodness. We promote our abilities and the things that we have accomplished. We sulk when our ideas are not agreed with or our abilities are not recognized. We become frustrated when our accomplishments are not praised. And when prayer time comes, we cannot allow our vulnerabilities to be revealed. So, like everyone else, we insist that everything is awesome.

But the road to happiness travels through the valley of humility. We must acknowledge our spiritual bankruptcy apart from the spiritual riches of Christ. We must seek the good of others over our own needs. We must be humble like Jesus. Then we can be truly happy.

Battling a Weary Heart – February 26, 2021

A byproduct of all that has taken place over the last year is an epidemic of depression. God designed man to be a relational being. As those relationships have been closed off and strained, man’s already fragile state of mind has been affected. Political, social, and financial unrest have compounded the stress and pressure on many. Others experience continual familial struggles. In the end, we now live in a society which is angry, hostile, depressed, and frustrated. While these times feel unprecedented, they are not actually unique. From the time of the Fall through today, man has struggled with a weary heart.

Psalm 27 provides much needed hope and guidance in the middle of challenging days. The Psalmist declares, The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident (ESV). When the world is overwhelming and we feel as though we cannot go on, we must turn our eyes to the one who provides light and a stronghold. We are reminded that though some sinfully assail us, they are the ones who will fall in the end when they stand before their Creator.

The psalmist continues with the importance of worship. He spends several verses declaring the beauty of God in the temple and the shelter of His worship. One reason that so many are struggling is that they have forsaken the church. Through the body of Christ, we are reminded that we are not alone in this struggle. We are reminded of the eternal priorities of life and the passing temporary nature of the world. And we are reminded to look to God.

The Psalmist concludes Psalm 27 with a powerful testimony, I would have despaired unless I has believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord (NASB). The hope which keeps us from despair is our living God. He will care for us. He will provide our needs. He will never leave us or forsake us. So, take courage. God is at your side. Don’t despair, look up. Don’t be marked by anger or frustration, wait on God. Spend some time today reading and meditating on Psalm 27.

Whiter than Snow – February 19, 2021

Winter has arrived. And along with it, snow has also arrived. It is no secret that I am not a huge fan of winter. However, I am always thankful for the reminder that the snow brings. I am speaking of the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 51:7, Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

This Psalm is David’s response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit after Nathan confronted him about his sin with Bathsheba. Although his sin was great, God’s mercy is greater. He committed adultery, murder, and deception. Yet, when he confessed, he had the confidence that God would forgive.

We understand today that this forgiveness is based on the blood of Christ. The Eternal Son took on human flesh and willingly went to the cross. There He offered up His own blood once for all as the perfect sacrifice for our sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 informs us that He became sin for us so that we could become righteous. As Psalmist stated, He makes us whiter than snow. He washes away our sin leaving us pure and clean before God. We stand without condemnation, completely righteous because of the blood of Christ.

So, the next time the snow falls, let it remind you of the amazing gift of salvation. Let it remind you that God became flesh and sacrificed His life so that you might be washed clean from sin and stand in purity before God. And let it remind you that when we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive it.


Whiter than Snow by James Nicholson 

Lord Jesus I long to be perfectly whole;

I want Thee forever to live in my soul.

Break down ev’ry idol, cast out ev’ry foe –

Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat;

I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet.

By faith, for my cleansing I see Thy blood flow –

Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.


What We Think About

In our Tuesday morning men’s Bible study, we just finished walking through the book of Philippians. As a result, we took a moment to look back over the lessons we learned. As we did so, I was reminded of a principle which is vital for today. Our culture is built on negativity. The news, social media, and even our everyday conversations tend to be negative and critical in nature. Depression rates have tripled over the last year.[i] Much of this is due to the fact that we are what we think about.

In Philippians 4:8, Paul reminds us to think guard what we think about: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Our lives will drastically change if we choose to dwell on things worthy of our time. We determine these things through their character. This verse challenges us to ask several questions about our thoughts.

Are they true? Is it marked by truth and dependable? We live in a culture that has downplayed truth and has elevated everyone’s own opinion. First, we must look to Scripture and determine the applicable commands and principles. Second, we should seek out the truth from those who have experience, study, and training in the area. While your Uncle Cecil certainly has an opinion on Facebook, perhaps the opinion of the expert in the field (through study and experience) should hold a little more value. Yet, even then, we don’t follow blindly. We always ask, “what is true?”

Is it honorable? Is it worthy of respect, noble and dignified? Much of what captures our attention is mental junk food. How do we know if it is honorable? 2 Corinthians 8 informs us that things find their honor in their relation to God (v. 21). Is it in line with the Word of God? Does it make God look as good as He really is? If so, think about that.

Is it just? Are you filling your mind with things that respond properly to sin? Do those things or people call it sin regardless of the political, racial, or social status of the individual? As believers we are to love biblical justice. We should treat every individual with care and treat every sin as sin. Just because someone is hypocritically pointing out that an action is sinful does not alleviate our duty to also treat it as sin.

Is it pure? Is it morally undefiled? We live in an immoral culture which praises sexual perversion. We live in an immoral culture which honors sinful actions. Are you filling your mind with things that are holy? Psalm 19:9 reminds us, The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

Is it lovely? Is it something whose grace is attractive? When we consider loveliness, we must be sure to use God’s definition not our hypersexualized cultured definition. Beauty should be measured by things that are full of grace and make God look good. Not just outward beauty, but also inward holiness. What might this include? Things like an engine working in harmony, a symphony arranged in simple complexity, or nature in vivid beauty. Things that declare God’s glory.

Is it commendable? Is this something that we can stand before God and be proud of? Is this something we should commend to fellow believers? Or is this something that we should be ashamed of? We spend too much time with our minds in the gutter and not lifted to heaven.

Is it excellent? With so many options in this word today, why occupy our minds with things that are mediocre? God’s desire is that whatever we do, we do well. God is not a God who simply gets by. Whatever He does, He states, “It is good.” The Bible tells us whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. What God does, He does well. So, what we do we should also strive to do well. We ought to strive for excellence and think about things that are excellent.

Is it worthy of praise? One man states, “Believers must not think on what is trivial, temporal, mundane, common, and earthly, but rather on what is heavenly, and so, worthy of awe, adoration, and praise.”[ii] Our world is filled with temporal and unworthy things. We can get caught up in everyday life and the junk food for the mind. Yet, believers ought to seek to set our minds on higher things. Things that declare God’s praise.

Social media, the news media, entertainment, and even our friends drag our minds down and force us to dwell on things which are not worthy of our time. We would be in a much better spiritual state if we would learn to filter our thoughts through Philippians 4:8. I challenge you today to set down your phone and turn off the tv. Instead, pick up your Bible and read. Take a walk or a drive and look at nature. Spend time with others expressing thankfulness for them and for God. And then watch how your viewpoint changes. Don’t settle for mental junk food.

[i]https://www.bing.com/newtabredir?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.webmd.com%2Flung%2Fnews%2F20200902%2Fa-us-pandemic-of-depression-too-rates-are-triple-pre-covid-levels accessed 2/12/2021

[ii] MacArthur, John Colossians & Philippians. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1992. p. 290.