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Devotionals

The Beatitudes (Part 2)

Some people follow and befriend others for the wrong reasons. All too often it is for ulterior motives such as getting a girl or guy into bed, milking someone’s wealth, getting to meet the friends (contacts) they have for business purposes … and as you know, the list is endless. In Jesus’ day, although the multitudes were first stimulated by His teaching and even the miracles that authenticated His Words, many were out to get food. Jesus was not charmed by this at all.

Jn 6:26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”

Then He makes a statement that is as relevant today as it was when He spoke it:

Jn 6:27 “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Here He is referring to spiritual food. Food that endures to eternal life … lasting spiritual manna. Coupled to yesterday’s “repent” … which brings one into the Kingdom (salvation), the “food that endure to eternal life” is proof of sincere, intentional, meaningful Christianity. The “repent” and the “food” proves the Gospel is understood and followed.

1) Although large crowds followed Jesus, His focus was on the disciples.

Mt 4:25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. 5:1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, Mt 5:2 and he began to teach them.

(1) Jesus climbed upwards on a mountainside. This was almost a reverse amphitheater style of classroom where Jesus looked down upon the people in general and His disciples in specific.

(2) Jesus disciples came to Him. He might well have called them because He wanted them to hear His teaching.

(3) Jesus taught them. Although the wording seems to imply that His teaching was directed only at the disciples, the crowds would have heard too.

Those who major on the miraculous, signs and wonders of Jesus or His disciples in the early part of the Acts of the Apostles tend to use the spectacular and excitement to stir people’s emotions, drawing them into an experience of feelings. Sadly, all feelings wear off. This is the reason for certain Church movements repetitive use of excitement, loud, repetitive music and singing to sway emotions before introducing what they term as “signs and wonders” to feed the people’s craving for the spectacular. Sadly this is all manipulative to achieve numbers and finances. Majoring on what the Holy Spirit withdrew early in the Acts of the Apostles results in weak, little or no Biblical teaching. They might say it is “Bible” but it is not! Jesus’ method was teaching. Far too many people in Churches these days do not want teaching. Too many want motivational talks, excitement and positive thoughts and messages. These will never cultivate the soul for glory! Read John 6:25-69 and see that as soon as Jesus presented the Gospel without pulling punches … as soon as He focused on His death and resurrection people started to drifted away.

(i) Firstly they saw His teaching as “hard”. 

Jn 6:60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

“Disciples” here means followers.

(ii) Secondly they deserted Him.

Jn 6:66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

Solid Bible teaching is the backbone of the Church and of individual believers who desire to be transformed into the “likeness” of the Lord Jesus.

Ro 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.

If God’s part is Him predestining us to be conformed to Jesus’ likeness then our part much be to avail ourselves to proper Biblical teaching with the intent of applying the teaching to our hearts and souls. Jenny and I attended a small Church last Sunday. They have a book table. All the books are free to anyone attending. Apart from Bible teaching they want good Biblical material to fall into the hands of eager, hungry souls.

(a) What is the purpose of your Church attendance? This includes listening to or watching pre-recorded messages, although my focus is on Church attendance. If you go to Church to be seen, to feel good, because it is the right thing to do, to have an hour rest, to meet up with friends and a host of other reasons, you are fooling yourself. The main purpose of Church is praise, prayer and preaching. By preaching I mean teaching. Teaching affects the careful listener’s heart and mind, for such a personal wants to hear what God has to say to him or her through His Word. This Word needs to be thought through, meditated upon and prayed about so that it makes such sense in the mind, that the will activates a response to believe, adopt and practice what has been taught. True, the preacher must work at his desk, sweating over the Word to present such an exposition that is believable and understanding with applicatory results in the hearer’s will. The hearer or worshipper in turn needs to avail him or herself to diligence in listening to understand so that learning takes place. Allow me to be blunt! As hard as sermon preparation is to the pastor teacher … it is also hard to take what is preached and absorb the message for the purpose of mind and will changing experiences. I have said before in the notes of “Dare to be a Daniel” … the Bible is hard work … and God its author knew that when He gave it. He wants us to work at His Word because that is the way of life transforming retention.

(b) What is the purpose of you reading the Bible every day? I don’t want to repeat what was said above. Other than to add … Bible reading is for knowledge. What is retained in the brain is available for use at any moment. Think of when Jesus was tempted!

(c) What is the purpose of you praying daily? It is taking the Word read and learnt and praying it through for application.

(d) What is the purpose of you tithing? Amongst many other things, most importantly to maintain teaching the Bible to the saints of God.

Father, help me to be a diligent student of Your Word in study and in application. Amen.

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