“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.” – Luke 6:18 (NASB)
Persecution comes from many sources and for many reasons. It’s easy to feel persecuted. It’s more difficult to identify real persecution when it is happening to you. We may feel picked on, or demeaned without experiencing persecution for our faith. The unbelieving world is turning up the heat on believers with increased efforts to cancel, cause injury, grief, or suffering because of one’s Christian testimony. We too swiftly wrongly classify an unpleasant encounter unwelcome regulation as persecution. “The words of Jesus here embody a prophecy. They describe what’s going to happen to followers of Jesus after his departure from this earth. However, it’s not at all necessary to limit this entirely to the future. Right at this very moment, while the Master is still with his disciples, this hatred is already manifesting itself.” One essential element to understand persecution. Persecution is identified as when evil is spoken or acted against a Christian falsely for Christ’s sake or in His name. Persecution per se is not something to be sought but true persecution of believers happens it carries with it the blessing of God.
 William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 11:342.
“…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” – Ephesians 1:4 (ESV)
We have today, a verse that teaches us a truth many have great difficulty understanding and therefore accepting or believing. The truth in this verse is hard for our rational and reasoning mind to embrace until we are willing to accept God’s word as it is written even if it does not seem fit in to how we reason it. But it is the absolute truth revealed to us in the Bible. “The doctrine of election is emphasized throughout Scripture* The form of the Gr. verb behind “chose” indicates that God not only chose by Himself but for Himself to the praise of His own glory (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). God’s election or predestination does not operate apart from or nullify man’s responsibility to believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. All before the foundation of the world. Through God’s sovereign will before the creation of the world and, therefore, obviously independent of human influence and apart from any human merit, those who are saved have become eternally united with Christ Jesus.”** God’s purposes exist apart from the bounds of our limited reason. Since both are emphasized, both are truly God’s Promises.
* (Deuteronomy 7:6; Isaiah 45:4; John 6:44; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29; 9:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10;)
** John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Eph 1:4.
“My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. “For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.” – Luke 1:47-49 (NASB)
As we are approaching what some call “Christmas in July” we take this moment to remember again the words of Mary the mother of Jesus. After receiving the word from Gabriel, God’s arch angel that she would bear the Son of God in human form, Mary visited her cousin. Mary referred to God as “Savior,” demonstrating both that she recognized her own need of a Savior, and that she knew the true God as her Savior. Mary did not see herself as one free from the taint of original sin. She sang about the wonderful works that God was doing in her life. She had learned that she would become the Mother of Jesus, the Messiah and she realized that it was God doing it. We can praise the Lord just like she did. God does do great things for us and He is ready to do such things for us every day. We can remember that He is the Mighty One and His love for us is so great. So whatever we are facing today, you and I can know that God is able to take care of it for us. Let’s trust Him because He has promised.
“Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” – Nehemiah 9:5 (ESV)
This verse from the book of Nehemiah is a demonstration of proper worship of God. This chapter is an account of the people’s reaction after hearing the Law of Moses read. They likstened for 3 hours about the sins of their fathers and for 3 more hours confessed that they had been partakers of similar evil deeds. In response to all of this, they worshiped. Some were a surviving remnant of Israel that was left and not carried away to Babylon; some also those who had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon after 70 years of forced exile. Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and took nearly all of the excellent, educated and young to live in Babylon during the three mass exiles. While this is a long confession of sin, it is within the recitation of God’s mighty redemptive acts on Israel’s behalf. Indeed, an expression of worship. We might something about true worship from these words. It begins with acknowledgement of the greatness of God’s name and learn that God’s name is glorious and deserves to be spoken with the greatest of awe and recognition that no other name is greater or higher in all creation.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:11-12 (NASB)
Do you have a heavenly perspective regarding your future beyond this world? Jesus in our verses actually is promising those listening the consequences of being a follower of Him. We’re promised insults, mocking, being reviled and ostracized. The promise is still working out today. Today, many are secret about their faith in Jesus. Secret and silent because who likes to be insulted and we are enamored by what we have here. However there is a wonder ahead for all who believe in the Son of God as Savior. The old spiritual that sang: “everybody talking about heaven ain’t goin’ there.” Today it’s more like, “everybody goin’ there ain’t talking much about heaven anymore.” Heaven is real, it is a wonderful reward from God and it is beyond description. When asked how he was, the sixth president once replied, “John Quincy Adams is well, sir, very well. The house in which he has been living is dilapidated and old. He has received word from its maker that he must vacate soon. But, John Quincy Adams is well sir, very well.” So, we look to heaven where we will have that eternal weight of glory, and that new house from God.
“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.” – Revelation 16:15 (NASB)
As faith believer and Christians let’s not think that these are times in which we can dispense with watchfulness or with holy zeal; we need these things more than ever, and may God the eternal Holy Spirit display His omnipotence in us, that we may be able to say, in all these things, “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) These days and the ones coming are not easy for the faithful believer. In Revelation 1:3 it is written “Blessed is…” as in this verse for today it is written “Blessed is…” This is the only biblical book that comes with a blessing for the one who listens to it being read and explained and then responds in obedience. There are 7 beatitudes in the book.* Our Lord stresses the need for constant readiness for His return; “Behold I come like a thief!” The imagery pictures a soldier ready for battle, or a homeowner watchful for the arrival of a thief. Christians are not to be surprised by the return of Jesus; we are here warned by Him to be prepared and alert for Christ’s second coming.
“Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” – Psalm 32:2 (ESV)
Come to think about it, an observant and sound minded person is able to notice quite a number of lies that are widespread in our world. These lies lay out, for those who choose to believe them, a way to cover their guilt from the consequent sins. If we also notice who it is that is propagating and spreading these lies, we just might come to understand the answer to the frequent question; “What in the world is wrong with our world today?” We should be very cautious that we do not buy into these lies for they kill our happiness and extinguish our joy. Alistair Begg says, “Honesty is vital to the discovery of happiness. Joyful, contented people do not lie to themselves or to anybody else. We cannot deceive ourselves and enjoy genuine happiness; deceit and happiness don’t sleep in the same bed.” It is a wonderful promise from God that He will restore and bless us by forgiving us when we repent and confess our sinfulness. King David expressed his personal experience of receiving forgiveness in this Psalm. In a same manner so can each of us.
“And blessed is she who believed for there will be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:45 (NASB)
Our verse today is one we read and hear often at Christmas time. But the truth and promise in the verse is good for us to remember and apply all year long. These words were spoken by Elizabeth, a cousin to Mary, the when Elizabeth learned that Mary was carrying the Christ child in her womb. Mary certainly did receive God’s blessing for believing what He had promised. For several reasons Mary deserved being called blessed. Mary is the most honored of all women because she believed what she had been told from the Lord. It was a profound expression of Elizabeth’s confidence that Mary’s Child would be the long-hoped-for Messiah. Each of us who believes that God does and will do what He has promised receives blessings through the many promises God gives us. As we think of some of his promises today let’s believe and trust that He does keep His word.
“How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments.” – Psalm 112:1 (NASB)
“He will not fear evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” – Psalm 112:7 (NASB)
“The wicked will see it and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked will perish.” – Psalm 112:10
We have chosen three verses which reminded us of steadfast heart and how the world responds. Verse 1 encourages believers – those who fear the LORD God. They delight in God’s Word. Verse 7 describes a picture of a heart that is resting on something solid so that it is not shaken no matter what happens. There is no fear of the evil in the world. It is common today to hear the angst expressed by believers when they see that the world around us is unstable and coming apart. Our promise is that our hearts can remain unmoved. The verses today explain how this comes about. It is by trusting in the Lord. What else could provide a more solid foundation than our God? As we trust and fear the Lord we find satisfaction in his promises and commands. The wicked in the world will be disturbed by the believer’s steadfast faith. Gnashing of teeth they melt away. We won’t be bothered by things going on around us. Our feelings and our thoughts will always be steady knowing that God is faithful. Today, let’s be like the person in verses 7-9.
“As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Luke 19:38 (ESV)
Today is another special day for us who know Jesus Christ as our Savior. We call it Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday because as the people welcomed Jesus they laid down their robes and palm branches in the road in front of Jesus It is the day the people outside of Jerusalem followed him and sang praises to the Lord as he approached the city. Notice the words “the whole multitude of his disciples.” Many people were following Jesus hoping He would establish His kingdom and free them from Roman tyranny. But Jesus had a different plan. The verse we have for today is the message that God wanted people to proclaim on that day. When the Pharisees suggested that Jesus rebuke those who were singing, He replied that if these people did not tell the message, the stones would cry out. What the people sang was the truth which needed to be heard. It’s is a message which we all need to proclaim. This Jesus who was to die on the cross that very week is our King. We need to recognize Him as the King of our lives and we need to honor Him every day.