Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
In 2018, Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh was arrested in Iran for his Christian faith and sentenced to the Evin Prison, which is known as the Iranian “torture factory.” Earlier this year, Nasser managed to send out a letter that said, “I am confident in all hardships and I believe I will become free by Him who I have hope to (my Lord) because the Lord our God does not forget his children… so let me be bold and say, ‘The Lord is my helper.’”
In Christ’s first recorded sermon in the Gospels, He predicted His followers would be persecuted, and He called them “blessed.” At the end of His ministry, Jesus warned His disciples of the hostility they (and we) would face. “If the world hates you,” He said, “you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
One way the persecuted are blessed is when we pray for them. This is no time to plead ignorance about the persecuted Church. Take a moment right now to lift up your prayers for those who are suffering for His sake.
You know that your prayers are a sweet smelling offering to God and a sacrifice which is accepted and pleasing to him. Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh
Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5:10 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18
Donelan, a teacher, had always been a reader, but one day it literally paid off. She was planning a trip and reviewing her lengthy travel insurance policy when on page seven she discovered a wonderful reward. As part of their “It Pays to Read” contest, the company was giving $10,000 to the first person to read that far into the contract. They also donated thousands of dollars to schools in Donelan’s area for children’s literacy. She says, “I’ve always been that nerd who reads contracts. I was the most surprised of anyone!”
The psalmist wanted his eyes opened to “see wonderful things” about God (Psalm 119:18). He must have had an understanding that God wants to be known, and so he longed for a deeper closeness to Him. His desire was to see more of who God is, what He’d already given, and how to follow Him more closely (vv. 24, 98). He wrote, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (v. 97).
We too have the privilege of taking time to ponder God, His character, and His provisions—to learn about and grow closer to Him. God longs to instruct us, guide us, and open our hearts to who He is. When we search for Him, He rewards us with greater wonder at who He is and the enjoyment of His presence!
Reflect & Pray
As you open your Bible and read, how is your heart and mind opened to God and His ways? What would you like to know or experience more of?
How I love Your Word, God. It’s sweet to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth
God’s way is often contrary to the world’s. Our culture says, “Don’t let anyone push you around,” but Jesus teaches that it is the merciful, the meek, and the peacemakers who are successful in God’s kingdom (Matt. 5:5-9). The world encourages material prosperity and personal comfort, while Scripture says we are successful when we become more like Jesus and follow God’s plan.
As we learned yesterday, true success starts with our thinking. Picture your mind as a computer that regulates your attitudes and actions, directing your response in different situations. Since our decisions are made on the basis of values and priorities stored in the mind, our responsibility as Christ followers is to feed it a steady diet of God’s Word. Only scriptural truth can counter the continuous stream of ungodly or useless data that daily barrages our thinking. The Bible is the standard by which we screen the various ideas and attitudes that come our way (Phil. 4:8).
When we meditate on Scripture and value God’s standards in our mind, our words and actions will follow suit. Let’s opt out of the world’s love of power and material success—and instead become the people God planned for us to be. Then we can accomplish His purposes for us. Now, that is real success!
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)
This scene seems impossible. Could it be merely an allegory? But that isn’t all. “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 65:25).
Whether this will all come to pass literally (and there is nothing in the context to cause us to question it), it definitely describes what God considers the ideal state of nature. In fact, in the original creation, all animals were herbivorous. “And God said, Behold,…to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (Genesis 1:29-30).
With humanity’s fall into sin and God’s resulting curse on the earth, this ideal state deteriorated. Teeth and claws, originally designed for digging roots and branches, began to be used for tearing and eating flesh. Even people were authorized by God to eat meat after the Flood (Genesis 9:3). It’s still true, however, that both people and animals can survive on a non-carnivorous diet when necessary, for this was designed initially as the best way. All of this leads to the certain conclusion that God did not allow any such reign of tooth and claw on the earth before humans sinned. Those who promote the idea of long geological ages, with billions of animals suffering and dying during those ages, charge our God of wisdom and mercy with gratuitous cruelty. In a world made by a loving God, there could have been no death in the world until humans brought sin into the world (Romans 5:12). HMM