Tuesday, March 27, 2012



As Jesus launches into some of His first public teachings, He has already begun to do wonderful things in healing and touching the lives of so many in His new ministry among them as the new Rabbi in town. He has already chosen a few men to follow in His dust-to be taught in His way. So now the question automatically arises: "Jesus, how does your teaching differ from all of the other Rabbis' teaching that we have grown up with? How does your teaching compare with what we've been taught?"
This is the question for everyone of us, no matter from which culture or religious background you were brought up. HOW DO THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS DIFFER FROM WHAT I'VE BEEN TAUGHT SO FAR? These are possibly the most revolutionary teachings ever!

Jesus has been teaching the good news message of the Kingdom and is enjoying a wonderful response from the people. Now, when He sets out to answer how His teaching differs from all other teachings, Jesus paints a portrait of what a person of the Kingdom might look like. Jesus doesn't paint a broad-brush swipe, but first offers 8 snapshots of a happy Kingdom dweller.

They have been called the Beatitudes. They are so outside the box that many theologians and ministers have relegated them to a later time in the future Kingdom, refusing to apply them to life today. But this is precisely the point of what Jesus is saying. These are Kingdom teachings and principles for today.
Jesus carefully describes each of these 8 dimensions with very few words. Each one begins with "happy" or "blessed" are you when you are this way or that. "You'll do well to be this way" is his point in every one or "The Kingdom citizen will be like this." However, He will turn your world and thinking inside out and upside down as you contemplate each one.

The first 4 are all about our personal relationship with God on the inside. The second 4 extend the first 4 out into our relationships with others. It is truly a great pattern for first walking with Jesus and then walking with others. Let's look at the first of these snapshots: Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

It all begins right here-"Blessed are the poor in spirit". You are blessed if you have this quality of being poor in spirit. The term "poor in spirit" is a word that means that you must beg in order to live. You are that desperate! It's having a right evaluation of yourself before God. He's God and self-sufficient and I am not!

Jesus is speaking to a massive group of people who have been taught by some of the most haughty men who have spent their lives outlining what it means to be right or righteous before God and that system is really a performance system of attempting some level of perfection. Jesus begins at the very opposite end of the spectrum. Righteousness begins when you understand your total need for God-your spiritual poverty!

Pride is an insidious cancer that skews your thinking, distances you from enjoying your relationships, and sets you up for a fall in whatever you do. Being "poor in spirit" is coming to grips with your humanity! It's the realization that we are all broken and spiritually bankrupt! One of our main addictions is that we are stuck on ourselves-our self-centeredness-the big "I" for everything to revolve around.

So, SECRET #7 is: The follower of Jesus has a right evaluation of himself before God. You know that without God you are pretty bad off on the inside in need of supernatural empowerment, yet you are not as bad as you could be, since you were created by the God of gods and He doesn't make junk. So, there is a wickedness (the downside) and a wonder (the upside) about you. This is a right evaluation of yourself before God. Those who reaffirm their poverty before God are operating within the very presence of God and therefore they are practicing God's kingdom on earth and have the assurance that they are in possession of the kingdom of heaven. Those who are poor in spirit are the ones who will receive the kingdom of heaven. The Kingdom belongs to those who know and admit their need for God. It all starts here. You see, it's only when you come to the end of yourself (poor in spirit) that you finally realize that God is enough. The follower of Jesus has a right evaluation of himself before God. He is God and you? You are not!



For several years we have been urging followers of Jesus to practice three habits: FIRST-Practice walking with Jesus every day. SECOND-Practice walking with others. THIRD-Practice waiting on Jesus to lead out with orders and opportunities. It's the 3rd habit that speaks to secret #6. SECRET #6 is: The follower of Jesus views Jesus as his Master.
To come to the conclusion that you are going to wait on Jesus to lead out with orders and opportunities is to view Jesus as your Master. Viewing Jesus as your Master is something you do. It is not waiting in the sense of sitting back, but it's doing something. In order to make Jesus your Master you must be active and attentive.

I see 4 responsibilities here. FIRST-Your responsibility is not to be in charge, but to be ready for Jesus, the King, to take charge.

SECOND-Your responsibility is to continue relating within your support team-to one another-doing life together rather than spending your energy to keep on explaining your life.

THIRD-Your responsibility is to be anxious for nothing, but to rest in your relationship with Jesus and with others. He may have no direct orders for you today. Don't be in a hurry. You are not called into stress, but rest. Jesus calls His followers into His rest-a confident, peaceful and everything-is-going-to-be-OK kind of rest.

FOURTH-Your responsibility is to be ready to hear His voice. You must be ready to listen for your Master's voice. Don't keep telling Jesus what you want; stop and listen to Him. You might hear something important!

When you view Jesus as your Master, you are not waiting on Jesus to do what you can do. You can do what you know Jesus would do as best you can. You can relate to Him and to other followers of Jesus. You can be responsible to Jesus and to one another.

If Jesus is your Master, you're waiting for Jesus to do certain things: 1. To show up in your life as you gather in Jesus' name. 2. To give you an answer to your questions and heart's desires through an impression, a sense of peace, a desire or a thought. 3. To bring people into your life who are in need of being restored.

4. To bring people into your life who need you to walk with them-for fellowship and/or support.

When it comes to waiting on Jesus to lead out, I have had to acknowledge my sense of impatience, my struggle to remain focused and my tendency to promote people, places and things to get things done in my time. I have had to ask for God's wisdom to give me what's next. I pray for each of you that you might be encouraged and empowered by Jesus today to wait and by waiting make Him your Master.

Isaiah 40 comes to mind regarding waiting on Him: He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:1-31

I was also directed in my mind to Acts 1 where it says that Jesus gave orders to wait in Jerusalem for next steps! When Jesus caught up with His disciples in Jerusalem after the resurrection, He spent 40 days with them to prove Himself to them and to teach them about the Kingdom. What Jesus said to His disciples still speaks loudly to me today: "He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.'" (Acts 1:7-8).

We are to pray for Jesus to lead out and we are to follow Him. So we are praying and waiting for Jesus to lead the way. If you are going to be a follower of Jesus, you must first learn to wait on Him to lead out. Then, it's much easier to follow. SECRET #6 is: The follower of Jesus views Jesus as his Master. Do you want to be a follower of Jesus? Then, wait for Him!



As you can plainly see there is an unmistakable, common thread at the core of all of the 75 SECRETS. Followers of Jesus are known to be lovers-grateful recipients of God's unconditional love, lovers of God, lovers of neighbors, lovers of others as family and now the pinnacle of it all-to be a lover of your enemies. SECRET #5 is: The follower of Jesus loves his enemies.
It was one thing for Jesus to announce to His early disciples the new commandment: "I want you to love one another just as I have loved you." That was a powerful foundation Jesus laid for them. I mean, here was quite a group of men from a variety of backgrounds. There were fishermen.

Within that group there was Peter who seemingly had no unexpressed thought. There was a cynic by the name of Thomas who was never quite sure about whatever it was that everyone else seemed to have embraced as a truth. Then there was Matthew, a hated tax collector, sort of a traitor to the Jews who worked for the Romans. Simon, the Zealot, had to have been an interesting one. He was a political activist, from a party of radicals against the Romans.

Can't you feel the initial tension in the room, when Jesus announced to them that He expected them to not only get along, but to love one another? I can hear the thoughts of some of them, thinking: "Jesus, I signed on to follow you, but not to hang out too closely with this motley crew."

Jesus had already given them a personal illustration of what He meant by loving one another, when He washed the disciples' feet. Loving one another was all about serving one another-lifting one another up higher than himself. This was a tough call, for sure!

But in order for the lover motif to be complete Jesus taught an even more radical thought for His followers to practice-to love your enemy. Let's listen in on how Jesus taught this.

Matthew records in the 5th chapter of his Gospel: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Luke records the same teaching in the 6th chapter of his Gospel: "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful."

Now get this straight. Love your enemies? This is the most radical principle ever taught and is graphically illustrated by what Jesus did by dying on the cross. The symbol of the cross was a Roman symbol of death, power and domination. It was a frightening symbol. Jesus turned the Roman symbol of fear and domination upside down and inside out. He transformed it into a symbol of love and forgiveness. He took the punishment of the dominating world power and used its symbol as the radical symbol of sacrificial love.

The power of the Jesus movement is the dynamic of sacrificial love toward everyone, but especially your enemies. There is nothing more revolutionary ever taught or lived out in this world. SECRET #5 is: The follower of Jesus loves his enemies. Do you have any enemies? You can eliminate them all right now. Love them!