Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Day 10: Matt. 5:1-16; Psalm 10 - What Kind of People Belong in God's Kingdom?

Today's Reading: Matthew 5:1-16; Psalm 10

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What Kind of People Belong in God's Kingdom?

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. . .

“You are the salt of the earth, . . .

You are the light of the world. . . . - Matthew 5:2-3, 13-14

What kind of people does the King of kings promise that "theirs is the kingdom of heaven"? The rich and powerful? The talented and impressive? The beautiful and enviable? No, of course not! But maybe the super-religious? The holier-than-thou? The spotless perfectionists? No, not them either!

How about the poor in spirit, those who realize their spiritual bankruptcy before a holy God? Yes. Those who mourn over their sin and don't think very highly of themselves? Those who are starving for righteousness because they know they don't have any of their own? Yes! These are the people Jesus says belong to His kingdom. 

Jesus says those who are reviled and persecuted should rejoice, for their reward is great in heaven. The world may hate and trample on the meek and mock the merciful, but Jesus saves them a place in His palace.

In fact, Jesus says it is these kind of people - those who do not trust in their own righteousness but look to God for it - who are the salt of the earth. Those who know their own poverty and who treat others with gentleness are the ones who make a real difference, who bring flavor and preservation and cause others to thirst for God, too. They are the light of the world, the ones who shine with a light only God can give. 

So if you think you have something to offer God, put it down and walk away from it. God doesn't need it and it will only keep you from what He has for you. Empty hands. Bowed knees. Humbled hearts. Thirsty souls. These are the things we bring to God and He welcomes us into His kingdom to receive His fullness of righteousness, joy, peace and love! 

Prayer based on Psalm 10:

O Father, sometimes it seems like You have hidden Your face and turned Your back on us and on Your world.  We watch the liars, the cheaters, the oppressors, the persecutors and the God-haters rise to positions of power and trample on everyone in their path. Politicians make empty promises and break them. Lawyers profit off of the miseries of others, pocketing the prize for themselves. Tyrants enslave, oppress and terrorize helpless masses of people. Advertisers sell false hopes and appeal to our basest desires.

Sometimes we look around us and we cry, "Where are you, Lord?" These wicked people openly mock You and Your righteousness and think they will never face the consequences. 

But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,    that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
    you have been the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;

    call his wickedness to account till you find none.  

Satan is the mastermind of evil in this fallen world, and the wicked are his pawns. Break his death-grip on this world and set people free from his slavery by the power of Your Gospel!

You are the King forever and Your kingdom of perfect justice and righteousness will stand forever, long after all the nations of this world have fallen away. You reign! O Lord, please reign over us and bring Your kingdom. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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