All Consuming Desire

Journal Entry // February 14, 2023

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (ESV)

Matthew 5:6

As Jesus continues his discourse on the beatitudes, those that are blessed and approved by God, he has moved from “poor in spirit” to “mourning” to “meekness.” Now that he has explored and revealed that our nature is not only tainted by sin but is totally depraved, meaning that every area of our life and nature has been infected and is influenced by sin, Jesus next presents us with the call to pursue righteousness. As he has demonstrated that righteousness is not to be found within us, our pursuit and desire of this holiness can and only will be satisfied in his very own righteousness accomplished on the cross. It is through the cross that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied. It is only by understanding our sinful heart and in humility and meekness turning to Christ in repentance and faith for cleansing and healing that we will be satisfied. Our hunger for righteousness will only be filled in Jesus. Our thirst for righteousness will only be quenched by the precious blood of Christ.

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Strength in Meekness

Journal Entry // February 8, 2023

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (ESV)

Matthew 5:5

Who are the meek? This word always seems to come across as a character trait that is not truly something I would desire.  It sounds the complete opposite of what the world and the culture around me tell me I should pursue. Meekness in my mind is a timid, shy, passive, and cowardly person who lets anyone and everyone walk over them and treat them unfairly. Yet, this is not the picture that the Bible presents of the meek and this is where I typically go astray. I read this verse (and many others) and I think I understand what is being said, but I completely misunderstand or deviate from the truth due to my lack of understanding. As the ESV Study Bible says, “The meek are the gentle, those who do not assert themselves over others in order to further their own agendas in their own strength.” The reason I struggle with truly understanding and embracing this characteristic, this beatitude, is that meekness goes against my basic fleshly desire to assert myself and take control of life and every situation. As the saying goes that I hear spoken so often in various ways, “God helps those who help themselves.” This 10-word phrase of Jesus puts my self-centered, self-righteous, prideful attitude in check and points me back to humility and hope, trusting in Jesus to meet my every need.

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Mourning to Comfort to Joy

Journal Entry // February 4, 2023

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (ESV)

Matthew 5:4

As Jesus builds on the beatitudes, moving from spiritually poor beggars to those that mourn over their poor spiritual estate and the havoc that sin has wrought in their lives, he states the good news that there is a comfort to be found in this mourning. The mourning that Jesus is speaking about is directly related to the understanding of our spiritual poorness. When we truly understand the devastation of sin in our life and the world around us, when we truly know the depth of our disobedience and rebellion against our holy God, then we will find ourselves in a state of mourning. Mourning over the hurt and pain that results from an understanding of the sin in our hearts. As we reflect on our lives and the waywardness of our souls, those who are receiving the kingdom of heaven will be led into a state of mourning. A time of deep grief as the waves of loss and brokenness wash over us. A deep grief that comes from a longing to see forgiveness and healing from the Lord. The good news that Jesus proclaims in this verse is of this very longing being fulfilled. Those who mourn… they will be comforted.

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Spiritual Beggar

Journal Entry // January 28, 2023

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)

Matthew 5:3

Jesus separated from the great crowds and has gone up a mountain with his disciples to teach them about the Kingdom of God. With his disciples gathered around him to listen, Jesus begins to speak and starts with a summary description of the whole of his teaching with a section of nine statements that all begin with the word “blessed”. This word, blessed, is sometimes translated and defined as happy. There is a sense in which happiness is a true outcome of these blessings, as the one who is blessed by God should be in a state of happiness over his being blessed but I think it means something a bit more than just a feeling of happiness. Especially as modern-day men and women typically think of happiness in response to getting what they want/desire or seeing personal gain coming from some material circumstance. No, the “blessed” that Jesus is talking about here is more about the person being approved by God. Not a fleeting experience of happiness, but an objective truth of our state of being approved by God. The blessing of God upon the people Jesus is going to describe is his approval. That God approves of the person and has given them his blessing is the central point. The person being blessed is not the focus. The focus is on the One who blesses. The One who gives his approval.

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Special Teaching

Journal Entry // January 25, 2023

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: (ESV)

Matthew 5:2

As Jesus saw the crowds gathering and forming around him, he pulled aside his disciples to a mountain and taught them. This teaching was not meant for everyone but only for those that were committed to following Jesus as the promised Messiah. When Jesus had separated himself from the crowds and was just among his disciples, then he sat down, opened his mouth, and taught them. It’s important to see the intentionality of this teaching. It is something more than the lessons the disciples witness as Jesus interacts and engages among the crowds. This is something special and direct for those who are committed to following Christ. When Jesus opens his mouth and teaches his disciples, he is building in them the importance of interpreting life and the law through the lens of grace and obedience. He is teaching them what it means to abide in Him.

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Seeing the Crowds

Journal Entry // January 21, 2023

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. (ESV)

Matthew 5:1

I have been considering the principles of the Sermon on the Mount for several weeks now during the quiet moments of the day and evening. It began with the Spirit bringing to my mind the words of various sections of this sermon that were intimately relevant to my spiritual journey. Words that comforted me at times and challenged me in others. These words of Jesus wooing and calling me into a deeper and more intimate relationship. A call to reflect on my union with Christ and to motivate me to strengthen this fellowship through a deeply personal communion with Jesus in the Spirit. So that is my plan over the next however many weeks it takes me to journal through the Sermon on the Mount. It could be a month or it could be several months. I aim only to interact and engage with Christ through this message of encouragement and challenge. I want to walk away from each reflection time with a more richly personal understanding of Christ and a heart filled to the rim with his mercy and grace.

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Come Rest with Jesus

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28–30 ESV

“Come to me.”

The first thing we see in this passage is that Jesus is inviting us to come to Him. This is much more than a call from our master or our boss who is commanding and requiring us to obey his order. No, this is an invitation from a dear friend to come and spend quality intimate time with Him personally. It is a personal invitation from the Son of God to come and be with Him in a personal relationship.

The second thing we notice is that “we” need to come to Jesus. This is not something that will happen against our will or through passive/willful resistance. This is an act that requires us to admit our own dependence, weakness, and humility. We must drop our pretense of self-reliance and humbly come to Christ.

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Urgent Fear and Joy

Journal Entry // February 13, 2022

So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Matthew 28:8 ESV

As I reflect on this passage, I see that there are three emotions that the two Marys carry with them after encountering the resurrection of Jesus. They have a sense of fear, a great joy and overwhelming urgency. These are typically the emotions we all have when we first encounter Jesus and his resurrection. Every new believer has a sense of fear, joy, and urgency all mixed together. The question I ask myself at this moment is, “Why do I not feel these now?”

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Hour Watch

Journal Entry // February 9, 2022

And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?

Matthew 26:40 ESV

Oftentimes I identify with Peter on so many levels. Sometimes I can see myself in his enthusiasm and brashness. Other times I see my own weakness in his failings and mistakes. In this passage Jesus has just told all the disciples that they would all fall away. Peter, leading the way, makes a boisterous commitment to stay by his side, even if that means death. Jesus, in his sorrow, pulls away from the crowd and separates his disciples, taking Peter, James, and John with him to watch and pray.

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False Appearances

Journal Entry // February 5, 2022

So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Matthew 23:28 ESV

The mask of righteousness is a dangerous and addictive lie and deception that will ultimately bring about our downfall without true spiritual, heart changing correction. This mask of righteousness that we wear is all about self-righteousness and the approval of people. We wear this mask because we desire the approval of man above the approval of God. We want people to like and approve of us to the point that we want to remove the righteousness of Christ that covers us and expose our inward hypocrisy and lawlessness. In so doing, we must then cover ourselves with this mask of outward appearance of personal righteousness. Performing for the crowds, but allowing sin to run rampant inside.

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