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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 5:6’

 
Five samples of red wine sat before the young man, each labeled with a price tag ranging from $5 to $45 a bottle. He tasted one, cleansed his palette with plain water, then tasted the next.

“Which one tastes better to you?” the researcher asked.

“Oh, definitely the $45 bottle,” responded the participant.

Most everyone who tried the wines agreed. The more expensive vintage was clearly superior. What they didn’t know: the wines labeled $5 and $45 came from the same bottle (1).

The preconceived idea that more expensive wines taste better had greatly influenced the participants. And it makes one wonder, what other preconceived ideas influence what we value?

 

 
Do we choose our clothing based on the logo? Are we more likely to accept certain invitations based on the importance of the host? Do we take great interest in the rich and famous?

In today’s world, people value:

  • Influence, power and authority, little realizing its downward pull. “Power intoxicates men,” asserted James F. Byrnes. “When a man is intoxicated by alcohol, he can recover, but when intoxicated by power he seldom recovers.”
  • Self-reliance, assertiveness and drive. Charles W. Eliot isn’t the only one who’s believed “the efficient man is the man who thinks for himself.” But that discounts the value of knowledge, wisdom, and creativity of others–including God’s.

 

 

  • Wealth and material possessions. By contrast, St. Augustine would have us “soar above our worldly possessions. The bee does not need its wings less when it has gathered an abundant store; for if it sinks in the honey it dies.”
  • Fame and privilege. But “what is Fortune, what is Fame? Futile gold and phantom name—Riches buried in a cave, Glory written on a grave” (Henry Van Dyke, “The Talisman”).
  • Physical attractiveness. “The most highly respected and valued attribute in our culture is physical attractiveness, “ wrote Dr. James Dobson (2). But of course beauty fades over time. What then?

 

 
It’s all chasing after the wind.
 

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

that struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

and then is heard no more;

it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

signifying nothing.”

–William Shakespeare, Macbeth

 
And yet, if you exhibit at least several of the elements listed in bold print above, you are deemed successful in this world—even though those who reach the pinnacle of such success often experience loneliness, boredom, and dissatisfaction.  What kind of prosperity is that?

Still, men and women through the ages have been fooled into believing that pursuit of these values will bring happiness–in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
 

 
Praise God he offers a better, truly fulfilling way to live. And since he made us, he knows exactly what will satisfy.

To an outside observer, the values of his kingdom must appear upside down. Note how opposite they are from the world’s values listed above:

  • reliance upon him (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

 

  • humility (James 4:6)

 

 

  • generosity (2 Corinthians 9:7)

 

 

  • a servant’s heart (John 12:26)

 

 

  • inner beauty based on character (1 Peter 3:3-4)

 

 
These are the qualities that provide a solid foundation for wise choices.  And it’s wise choices that contribute to peace, contentment, and fulfillment.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

Lord God, I know the world’s ways lead to futility, yet I can still be drawn in by the lies. Give me strength to choose your way and make wise choices based on your Word. May I be mindful how blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because it is they who will be satisfied. I praise and thank you for the full satisfaction you freely give!

Ephesians 4:17-24; James 1:5; Matthew 5:6 ISV

  

 

Notes:

  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080126101053.htm
  2. https://www.drjamesdobson.org/blogs/dr-dobson-blog/dr-dobson-blog/2018/10/15/sources-of-self-esteem-in-children-part-1-society’s-infatuation-with-beauty

Photo credits:  http://www.pixabay.com’ http://www.pxhere.com (2); http://www.pixnic.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.dailyverses.net (2).

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USA-NYC-American_Museum_of_Natural_History

 

Sometime in the 1940s the New York Museum of Natural History created a living room space–from the perspective of a dog. Table legs rose like tall pillars, chair seats hovered overhead, and the mantel of the fireplace loomed higher still.

Now any human museum-goer would instantly know this was an unrealistic representation. But if we were all terriers, we’d bark to one another how accurately the decorator had appointed the room.

Which view of the museum display is correct—that of humans or dogs? Our instinctive response is: the way a room appears to us as humans is the accurate view.

And we think, The poor dogs—living their whole lives with an illusion they accept as reality.

 No doubt that museum space provided plenty of entertainment. But perhaps an important lesson was hiding among the over-sized furniture and features. What if we compared Planet Earth to that room? Then we are the small creatures gazing upwards—at towering mountains, high plateaus, and tall waterfalls.

 

Pailon-del-Diablo-ecuador

(El Pailon del Diablo–Ecuador.  Can you spot the people?)

 

Oh, but our view must be expanded further—far beyond Mount Everest even. We must consider what Planet Earth looks like to God, who made the numerous planets, spinning in billions of galaxies. On a map of the stars, our tiny planet isn’t even represented.

Yet it’s so easy to lose sight of this reality.  Our sphere of contacts–family, friends, and coworkers –becomes our whole world.  The pursuit of happiness within this microcosm becomes our whole focus.  And we think living life “my way” is the ticket to happiness and satisfaction.  Like our poor canine friends, we can easily spend our whole lives accepting an illusion as reality.

Then there’s God’s point of view, as taught by Jesus:

 

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“How blessed are those

who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness,

because it is they who will be satisfied!”

–Matthew 5:6 (ISV)

 

Which view of reality is accurate–our view or that of our sovereign Maker (who sees, understands and controls everything)?

Logic supports the latter. The real world-view is God’s view.

And if we’re ready to accept that reality, then we must also agree it makes sense to follow his instruction manual, the Bible, for living in the world he created.

My self-serving, egocentric side says, Wait a minute. I have my own ideas of what’s best for me. I ought to know what will make me happy. Doesn’t my viewpoint count for anything?

Such thinking exposes my lack of understanding, putting me on the level of a dog in that museum living room! My world view is flawed.

No, I’d be much wiser to embrace God’s point of view as revealed in his Word, and learn about true reality—the reality of his invisible, spiritual kingdom and its benefits:

  • His foundation of security

 

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“Those who know your name will trust in you,

for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

–Psalm 9:10 (NIV)

 

  • His way to happiness

 

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“The one who trusts in the LORD will be happy.”

–Proverbs 16:20b (HCSB)

 

  • His gift of peace

 

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“Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.”

–Colossians 3:15a (NLT)

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Thank you, Father, for these benefits and more, lovingly bestowed as we seek to live within the spiritual reality of your kingdom. Yes, it’s invisible to our human eyes, but no less real than the wind. And as we follow you and obey your Word, the more real your world becomes, the more wonders we experience. Help me to outgrow the immaturity of illusions and embrace your reality!

 

(Information about the New York Museum of Natural History room display came from Ralph Sockman’s book, The Higher Happiness, Abingdon Press, 1950.)

 

Photo and art credits:  www.wikipedia.org; http://www.trafficamerican.com; http://www.dailyblossom.com; http://www.pinterest.com (3).

 

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Say the word, “blessing,” and what immediately comes to mind?

For me, it’s happy events and lovely gifts, engineered or bestowed by God out of his loving kindness.

But James, the brother of Jesus, saw a different side of blessing: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides” (James 1:2, MSG, italics added).

Tests and challenges as gifts?! Sounds a bit daft—until we consider:

 

What-Seems-To-Us-As-Bitter-Trials-Are-Often-Blessings-In-Disguise

 

Take, for example…

 

THE CRAZY BLESSING OF WANT

Do you wish you had a bigger house? A newer car? Better furniture? Consider yourself blessed, that you’re not like King Solomon–the wealthiest person who ever lived. For all his striving to achieve and accumulate, Solomon discovered that when every desire is gratified, the end result is nothing but meaningless smoke (Ecclesiastes 1:2, MSG).

The blessing of want protects us from the pit of depression caused by self-indulgence.

The blessing of want fosters contentment, as we learn to enjoy and be grateful for what we already have.

 

THE CRAZY BLESSING OF DIFFICULTY

Difficulties provide a surprising number of positive opportunities. Here are ten:

  • To press in closer to God and trust him more completely.
  • To experience the adventure of God’s sufficiency (Philippians 4:13) as he enables us to endure—in ways we never thought possible.

 

Philippians4_13

 

  • To see how God will bring beauty out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
  • To discover more of who God is.
  • To witness the fulfillment of his never-failing promises.
  • To present a sacrifice of praise to God, beginning with the affirmation that he has our best interests at heart—in spite of what we see.
  • To be prepared for greater usefulness for God (John 15:2), which fosters greater fulfillment and satisfaction in our spirits.

 

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  • To have a compelling story to share, as encouragement for others. Years ago I heard a speaker say, “With no test there is no testimony.” In the final analysis, I’d rather have the latter. You, too?
  • To become mature, complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4). That doesn’t happen without trials.  As Thomas Carlyle wrote:

 

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(“No pressure, no diamonds.”)

  • To love our Savior more passionately. Josif Trif, a pastor from Romania during the days of Communism, said, “If it weren’t for Communism, I would not have loved our Lord as much. I kissed the cross the Communists gave me” (1).

 

THE CRAZY BLESSING OF FAILURE

If failure served no purpose in our lives, God would not allow it to happen. But since he does, we can know that failure is either for our benefit or for God’s glory—often both.

Failure is the soil from which great success can grow, beginning with a crop of positive character traits, such as perseverance, humility, and greater reliance upon God.

 

Green-Bean-Sprouts1

 

Out of failure comes experience; from experience comes greater wisdom; and wisdom leads to a godly life.

“How blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because it is they who will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6, ISV)!

*    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Crazy as it sounds, I want to praise you, Father, for the blessings of challenges and tough times. Thank you for your loving attention that carries me through, transforming me and makes me a better version of myself.  I also praise you for the glorious promise that through trouble, hardship, disappointment, or pain–“overwhelming victory is ours through Christ” (Romans 8:37, NLT)!

 

What crazy blessing have you experienced in the crucible of trouble, hardship, disappointment, or pain?  Please join the conversation below!

 

(1) His Imprint, My Expression, Kay Arthur, Harvest House, 1993, p. 135.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.imagesbuddy,com; http://www.wallpaper4god.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.izquotes.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.harvesttotable.com.)

 

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