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HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 10 (Mt.5:14-16) “Light”


“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

DRINK IT IN:
Have you ever seen light run from Darkness? Have you ever seen a strip of darkness piercing through the middle of a light room? No Way. But, we know what it looks like to be in a dark room and see a glance of light streaming through the darkness. This “sword” of light always strikes a gleam of hope in my heart. It always provides a touch of comfort. It lets me know that in the middle of darkness there is something on the outside that is piercing the darkness.

In this simple teaching, Jesus is using some common sense word pictures to make people think about how He created us to be. Let me rewrite Jesus’ teaching in a way that I think Jesus meant it to literally be.
“You–My followers–are the light of the world. You are to be like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Don’t become a Christian and be secretive about it. Instead, SHINE ON, and give light to everyone in the world. Yes, you as Christians, let your light shine before the whole world, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

I love how Jesus just “rubs in” what is supposed to be the brightness and greatness of a Christian. He is saying that we as Christians GLOW. We should glow and it makes no sense to give our lives to Him and then hide it.

My fear in this kind of talk from Jesus is that it will empower the wacko. Nowhere does Jesus say in this passage that you should shout out negative, hurtful, hateful things from across the street at people who are far from Him. In fact that would cause Kingdom damage. That would push people farther from God. That would actually be contributing to darkness. Peter wrote in the Bible, that we are always supposed to be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have, but we should do it with gentleness and respect. So…Don’t be a wacko. Be light. Be love. Be peace. Be patience. Be joy. Be kindness. Be goodness. Be faithfulness. Be gentleness. Be self-control. Be respectful. Be like Jesus. Be light!

SWEAT IT OUT:
Are you being secretive, in any way or form, about being a follower of Jesus?
If you are, what are you afraid of?

Think of somebody today that is “stuck in a dark room” of sin/shame/evil/hopelessness/depression/loneliness/etc. Be a piercing streak of light in their life and help them smile and shine. Give them a taste of Heaven today by being the light that Jesus referred to.

If you behave this way. If you put the high-beams of your faith on for all the world to experience…they WILL give PRAISE to THE FATHER IN HEAVEN.

What a blindingly halogenic 🙂 objective for today…
Did you notice the word halogenic has the word halo in it?
SHINE ON.


HYDRATE –WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 9 (Mt.5:13) “SALT”

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
Matthew 5:13

DRINK IT IN:
According to the Salt Institute, there are approximately 14,000 different uses for the mineral called SALT.

14,000 different uses for salt! Really?

So when I started going to Sunday School back in the mid 1980’s as a Jr. Higher, and was asked what it means when people say that Christian are to be the salt of the earth, and I answered, “we are to bring purity into every thing we do,” was I wrong? No. That is a right answer. But it is also what I call the typical “Sunday School Answer.” A Sunday School answer is the kind of answer that Christian’s like because its simple, concise and it doesn’t take a lot of thought. Again…not wrong, but not a “full” and insightful or inspiring answer. Its a little “bland” for the kind of answer that God deserves for the creativity that he invented in salt. So…what is a better answer?

I think that if we, as people, can discover 14,000 different uses for salt, then surely we as Christians can have a deeper meaning to what Jesus meant when He said that we are the salt of the earth.

Here’s my attempt at a better answer. Individual pieces of salt all by themselves are pretty much useless. Try it at home. Separate one tiny granule of salt and place it on your tongue. I just did it. It took me a little longer than I thought to actually get one tiny piece onto my tongue. My hands are big and my fingers struggled to get control of one tiny piece. But…I finally got it. Now, you should understand, that I do not have a strong sense of taste or smell in my life. It pretty much allows me to be able to eat anything as long as the texture doesn’t gross me out. So, as I put this individual piece of salt on my tongue, I think I tasted salt, but I couldn’t prove if it was just my imagination telling me it was salty or if I could actually, finitely, maybe, actually taste it. Either way…it was pretty unmemorable as far as experiences go.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Now go back to your salt shaker and do it again, except this time, lick your finger, put it in the salt and then back to your tongue. Big Difference! It actually made me grimace and get one of those faces that we get when we put something really sour in our mouths. It made the glands in the back of my mouth produce some extra saliva. It definitely caught my attention. You? (Don’t tell me that you just sat there reading this without actually doing the “test…if you haven’t…GO DO THE TEST!!”)

One tiny piece of salt, all by itself, is pretty uninspiring. It really doesn’t have much saltiness to it. Jesus says, in the passage I’m referring to above, that if “salt loses its saltiness, its not much good for anything except to be thrown out and TRAMPLED by men.”

Is it just me or is there a lot of trampling going on to the Christian Faith in our American Society? I’ve traveled to South America, Africa, Europe and have been to the Holy Lands. I do not sense the “trampling” as heavy in these places as I do here in our very own, “one nation under God.” So here is my thought. America is the greatest country in the world, and we know that its not perfect. I love the independent nature of an American. We as an American society are becoming more and more independent. God said in the very beginning, right after He created Adam, “its not good that man should live alone.” I could retranslate that sentence God said to, “Its not good for man to be totally independent,” and really not change the message that God intended.

One independent grain of salt is a good thing. Its what God made it to be, but all by itself, isn’t that great, doesn’t have that much impact, is kind of invisible. Agree?

If there are 14,000 uses for salt, then we can do better as Christians when it comes to being the Salt of the earth. I’m not going to have a brainstorming session with you right now about all the uses we as Christians could be in our world to prove that we are salt. What I want you to think about is how alone you might or might not be. Do you have other Salt pieces in your life that you team with, and together you are much “tastier” and noticeable to a world that has become a bit “bland.”

I love the passages of Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. There are other Bible passages as well, but these two passages in the Bible talk about most of the SPIRITUAL GIFTS that God gives to Christian when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and have the Holy Spirit move into us. These gifts that we now possess as a Christian are a part of what defines who we are and what we are good at. If you have the spiritual gift of mercy, you are an amazing person to be around when I am hurting. If you have the gift of teaching, you are amazing to be around when I am hungry to learn. If you have gifts of leadership, you are amazing to be around when I need somebody to point me in the right direction. But Hold On! If you are all by yourself…individual…independent…and you have the gift of mercy, but I am in need of the gift of teaching…your mercy will leave me still needing teaching. If you have the gift of teaching and you are all by yourself and I need someone with leadership, then your encounter with me will leave me still in lack of leadership. If I am somebody with the gift of leadership and I encounter you needing someone with great gifts of mercy…then I’m probably going to hurt you as you need more mercy than I am gifted with.

Do you understand what I am saying?

What if…we as a bunch of individual pieces of salt, got together and used our “spiciness” to push each other on to do good in the world. What would we encounter that we WOULDN’T be able to accomplish together? NOTHING! Think about your local church and the total number of people you have together, with all the different gifts you have amongst each other. What can’t you do? You can do anything! Even the average size church in America, which is approximately 85 people, can do anything…together!

We are the Church. We are the Salt of the Earth. We can do anything…as long as we stick together. Please don’t allow yourself to be separated from the “salt shaker.” It takes my breath away when I think about how many people, who fall onto hard times, quit showing up for Church services, and quit serving other people. Think of it this way….What happens to a Zebra when it gets separated from the herd?

The Bible describes the Devil as a roaring lion waiting to devour you. If you separate yourself from your group for any reason…lunch will be served. You are “salty” too! The devil loves a good Christian for breakfast, lunch or dinner…or just a midnight snack.

Stick together! If you don’t have a local church home…keep searching. If you don’t have somebody you can call when you fall on tough times…be one to somebody else and that will solve your independence and separation problem.

SWEAT IT OUT:

Do you know what your Spiritual Gifts are? If you do not, please contact a local pastor of a Christian Church and ask Him to help you. If you can’t find help with this, please ask me to help you. If I can’t personally help you then I will get you connected to a local church pastor that you can trust…wherever you live.

Are you using your spiritual gifts in the local church? Don’t forget that the local church is really just a big salt shaker. You are a granule with millions of other granules spread around the world in a bunch of different “salt shakers.” Be encouraged by that powerful fact! If there are 14,000 different uses for Salt, but you, as salt, do not use your “use,” then the church is really only 13,999 uses. Not bad…but not complete! Jesus wants COMPLETION, when it comes to the huge things He would have us being responsible for.

You are the salt of the earth! What a huge compliment Jesus gives you. Please don’t take it for granted. Make sure you are adding your spice to this world. The world hungers for what you can provide. You are needed.

The world is a better place because you live in it right now.
I hope you believe that. I believe it about you.

Today and from now on…use your strengths and giftedness to add some great spice to other people’s lives. I know that you will agree with me when i say that little things matter to people. So, how can you use your “saltiness” in a way that makes a little impact in the life of someone you now today? Try it. What do you have to lose if you try?

I say it again…the world is a better place because of you.

I hope you will live like you believe that!


HYDRATE –WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 8 (Mt.5:10-12) “Persecution”


“God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in Heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”
Matthew 5:10-12

DRINK IT IN:
When was the last time you were persecuted for being a follower of Jesus Christ?

Now…don’t misunderstand me here. Please don’t be like the people who stand out on street corners and yell from their megaphones, spew hate by picketing military funerals, or demand that people follow Jesus. These groups of people think they are honoring Jesus. They get more ‘pumped up’ when they get arrested, make the news and stir up controversy, because they think they are facing persecution on behalf of Jesus for doing good. This is not a biblical thing. This is not a holy thing. This is not something that Jesus did. These groups or individuals will state that their 1st Amendment rights give them the right to behave the way they do. They are right in the fact that legally, their 1st Amendment rights allow them to behave this way. However, the “laws” of God take priority over the “laws” of the land. In this case, they honor their 1st Amendment rights and dishonor their Lord and Savior. Jesus was always very kind and gentle to the people who were far from Him. I think that Jesus would use a mega-phone to let these kinds of people, who are behaving this way on street corners, know that they are actually doing harm to the Kingdom of Heaven…but I think He would “one-up” them…He would use a whip!

So, back to my question. When has your holy behavior landed you in “hot-water?” When have you been demoted for standing for Jesus in a gentle way? When did you not get the promotion because you refused to do things “under the table?” When were you left out of the circle of friends because you keep the “bar” to high? When were you last seen carrying your Bible to a lunch break to spend time with God? When was the last time you actually had to pay more taxes because you refused to lie about your income? When was the last time you dropped your ego and actually agreed to go to marital counseling with your spouse? When was the last time you got flipped off because you simply refused to drive ‘that’ fast? When was the last time people rolled their eyes at you for leading your family in prayer before your meal at a nice restaurant? When was the last time you gently spoke your biblical opinion about a hot “political” topic during a discussion about abortion, illegal immigration, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, or other “hot” topics? When was the last time you took one of your Saturday’s off and helped a neighbor in need? When was the last time you “persecuted” your bank account and personal lifestyle because you chose to give 10% of your income to the Lord’s work? The questions could go on for miles, but I think we get the idea.

Persecution comes in many forms. I’m simply asking when was the last time you faced any on behalf of Jesus Christ?

The following is a passage in Scripture that explains what happened to some Christians a long time ago for taking a stand, in love, for Jesus Christ.
“But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.”
(Hebrews 11:35-40, NLT)

SWEAT IT OUT:
Would you take 30 seconds and sit quietly and see if God would remind you of an area(s) in your life where you could take a gentle, stronger stand for Him? And If you do, take a gentle stronger stand for Him, it might have you being a bit persecuted?

I pray for you that you will take that gentle strong stand. I pray that you will be persecuted for doing it. I pray that you will be happy about it. I pray you will be glad about it.

For if you do…You know that the Kingdom of Heaven is Yours.
Well…that is what Jesus says.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 7 (Mt.5:9) “Peacemaker”


“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Matthew 5:9

DRINK IT IN:
If you have children, what would you actually do for them in a time of crisis? If you are like me, then you would do anything to protect them, help them, encourage them, shape them. I think its instinctual. If God created the bear and the lion and He also created you. He’s only one artist. He created you with some similarities as the bear and the lion. Have you ever heard any stories about a person coming across a momma bear or lioness when their “kids” are around? They mean business. Its the same for you. You could be one of the most gentle and quiet people on the planet. But put your kids around you and then introduce a little danger in the form of other people or a criminal and its like you jumped into a phone booth, stripped off your regular clothes to expose a super hero ready to do some serious damage in the name of protecting your children.

God is a parent. If God made you in His image to be like Him, then you and God have similar qualities. God designed it that way. I think that God is willing to do just about anything to honor, and do what is very best for His children.

So, the question is; Are you a son or daughter of God?

Some may say, “yes, Trent…I prayed a prayer back when I was in Jr. High and gave my life to God.” My reply to that is, show me in the Bible where someone prayed a prayer and then, from that point on, is considered a child of God. I don’t want to be to cynical here, but please let me save you some time by telling you that, such a Bible verse/story is not in the Bible.

How do I know I am a son or daughter of God?

According to Jesus in this fist sermon He ever preached, He says that you need to be a PEACEMAKER to be considered a son or daughter of God. How serious is this? This is what is called a “salvation issue.” You have to agree with me that in order to go to Heaven you have to be a son or daughter of God. Agree? Jesus then says, that in order to be s son or daughter of God, you have to be a peacemaker. Agree? Then to summarize this line of thinking, we must be peacemakers in order to go to Heaven. You must be a peacemaker to be saved. Agree?

Jesus’ brother has something to say about this. James wrote, in James 3:18, “And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”

I want to be more of a peacemaker. I have found this to be a personal challenge that is difficult. I am an intense person of passion and I most definitely don’t like the status quo. I like to get to the underlying issue of things instead of talk about the surface level of life. So many people, when I speak with them, feel that I am prying a little to hard into their lives. This causes walls to go up. It doesn’t help that I’m 6′ 3″ and 220 pounds. I do boxing workouts. I run 5 miles every other day. I speak the truth and like to be direct. I enjoy making the bully “sweat.” Does that make me a bully to the bullies? Does this disqualify me from being a peacemaker? What a dangerous situation. I must guard all this more carefully. I wish Jesus would have never said this thing about peacemaking. But He did.

So, what about you? Are you a peacemaker? Before we get too discouraged at our answers, let’s make sure we are defining peace the right way. Jesus says that there are different kinds of peace. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

But hold on! Jesus also said in Matthew 10:34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”

Is Jesus arguing with Himself? Is this what some call a “biblical contradiction?” The answer is a very clear, “No.” The answer is that there are different kinds of PEACE. As I write this, last Sunday was the Superbowl. We watched the underdog New York Giants beat the New England Patriots. At Half time of the Superbowl, Madonna performed and at the very end of a pretty good performance she had the floor light up with a great big flash of production and it said, “WORLD PEACE.”

Is this what Jesus is talking about when he says, ‘Blessed are the Peace Makers?” It would be impossible for Him to mean this. Because he also said that He did not come to the world to bring Peace but a sword. And I would say…”He did a good job of that.” Every since Jesus arrived and left this planet, there has been division and chaos. Want proof…march into your local public school and start talking about Jesus to the students. I’ll bet your circumstances won’t end in what could be called a peaceful ending. As Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 10:35-36, “I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be in your own household.” Jesus meant it, didn’t he?

How can Jesus say, “Blessed are the Peace-Makers,” when He says He didn’t even come to bring Peace, but a sword?”

He can only say that if there are two kinds of peace. 1. What Madonna calls “World-Peace.” 2. What Jesus calls, “Peace of Heart.”

I think, according to Jesus’ personality and style, the peace He refers to has nothing to do with tranquility, as in no war because every human being just loves one another. That is the dream of mankind. Its a worthy dream. Michael Jackson rounded up pretty much every music celebrity back in his day and they performed a song together that went like this. (I’ll be you can’t read it without singing it in your head!) “We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving…When you’re down and out, there seems no hope at all. But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall, Let us realize that a change can only come, When we stand together as one” (You started singing it didn’t you!?) In order for this kind of peace to become a reality in the world…then evil would have to be completely removed from the planet. As long as evil is real there will never be the kind of Peace that Madonna or Michael was hoping for.

So, that leaves us the kind of Peace that Jesus gives. Simply put, His kind of peace is best defined this way. “The ability to be calm and confident because you trust that God is in control even in the middle of total chaos.”

We, on occasion come across people like this. We see them in the news. They have stories of Heroism and selflessness. In the middle of absolute chaos they somehow remained strong and confident and calm. Now…I don’t know if Jesus is the one that provided them with this kind of confidence or not. Jesus is not the only one who can provide this kind of peace. You can train for it and not include Jesus in it. You could be naturally confident and ready for action in any situation and be seen as a peaceful person, without Jesus. You could be missing some common sense in your life and therefore not naturally think about dangerous consequences and thus seem to be able to stay calm in scary situations. None of those have anything to do with Jesus, yet you are a person of “peace.”

What I’m trying to say here is that there are all kinds of people who have the Peace that Jesus is referring to and many of them do not have it because of a relationship with Jesus. What I’m saying here is that if you want to be considered a son or daughter of God then you have to let Jesus live inside of your heart and mind and when chaos is ripping all around you, you rely on His peace and calm that He provides because you know He is in control.

When you let Jesus have total control over every detail of your life, then whatever you encounter that isn’t peaceful, that is dangerous, that is scary, you have the ability to remain at peace and in self-control. You are at peace even in the middle of tragedy and chaos. You are able to stay “peaceful” even when your own death might be staring you in the face. Because God is in control. You don’t let the fears of the world control you. God controls you. In the face of insecurity, when someone is verbally attacking you or mistreating you, you don’t have to lash back, because your security is in God and what God says about you.

Peace…Jesus’ style…is the ability to remain calm and collected in the middle of Chaos because you acknowledge that Jesus is in control, no matter the results of the situation. Peace…Jesus’ style…doesn’t mean you just lay over and never challenge back or stand up for what is right. Don’t forget that Jesus is a peacemaker and yet He made a whip and whipped people out of the temple, and He called the Pharisees horrible names. Being a peacemaker…Jesus style…doesn’t mean that you have to be a wimp. It means there is a steadfast strength about you. Being a peacemaker means you are a well-rounded balanced person. Just like Jesus. Strong and gentle. Tough and kind. Offensive and defensive. Sly and innocent. Aggressive and peaceful. Truth and Love. Justice and Mercy. Get it? If you still want a strong picture of the kind of peace that I’m referring to here, then read the Bible story of the crucifixion of Jesus. I can’t think of a more horrible thing to go through than a Roman Crucifixion. So, read the Bible’s account and pay special attention to the attitude and demeanor of Jesus while this horrible thing is being done to him. You will see a man at peace with WHO is in control.

There are stories of women who have been raped and abused over and over but they survived it all and have been saved from that situation and they talk about the peace they were able to have in the middle of all the horrific things that were happening to them. They give credit to Jesus and the Bible. One lady tells the story of how she wrote a powerful Bible verse on her ceiling above the bed. And day after day, she would read the Bible verse above her bed while being raped and trusted that God was real and that she would be okay through all this. What a story of strength and victory. This lady tells of her story, as a story of victory today and about the goodness of God compared to the evil of mankind. There are stories of “tragedy” all over the world where Christians had unbelievable atrocities happen to them, yet they tell the stories as if they are stories of victory! How inspiring! What a witness to the power of God. What a witness to the PEACE of Jesus Christ being lived out by His sons and daughters.

SWEAT IT OUT:
What’s your worst nightmare? What could happen to you that makes you think you couldn’t handle it? I encourage you to think about it and prepare for it to happen in your mind and determine that you would be okay through it all. What is the alternative here? Worry, Stress, Fear, Doubt, Control problems, Nervousness, Anger, Hurtful reactions, etc.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you must be prepared for anything and therefore never be caught off guard. If you are caught off guard and in a moment of weakness do something really stupid, then you harm the witness of Jesus Christ. The Bible is full of teachings about the sons and daughters of God needing to always have their wits about them. We are always one decision or one reaction away from blowing our credibility with God and with other people. Every decision we make…matters. So…

Be prepared.
Be a Peace-Maker.
You will be considered a son or daughter of God.
There is no greater title.

“Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS for they will be sons/daughters of God.”


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 6 (Mt.5:8) “The Pure”

The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God.
Matthew 5:8

DRINK IT IN:
Do you want to SEE God?

Can you imagine seeing God? I have so many questions for Him. I have so many ideas of what God looks like. Again, I have so many questions. To see God, would change so many things wouldn’t it? Or am I just speaking for myself?

Some people say, “Seeing is believing.” Well…I believe and I have not “seen” God. I think my faith is strong now and I haven’t seen God. I wonder how much stronger my faith would be if I actually saw God? I wish God would just show up and let me see Him. I’m guessing you wish that too. I wonder if I would fall flat on my face in fear if God showed up, physically. Bottom line though…Is…I WANT to see God.

Jesus tells, in this passage I am referencing today, how I can see God. He says, BE PURE. Jesus gets even more specific. He says, ‘Pure In Heart.” The pure in heart will see God. Let’s face it, the heart is where everything comes from. Now scientifically some would argue that everything starts in the brain. I’m okay with that. But are you positively-absolutely-for sure that everything starts in the brain. I like to think that the heart is where something spiritual resides and medicine and science will never be able to explain it. 1 Corinthians chapter 1 talks about how all the wisdom/knowledge of the world will never be able to explain how God works. God actually calls all that knowledge, foolishness.

So…I say…everything starts in the heart. Want an example? If you have what is typically called a “foul-mouth, potty-mouth, or simply a bad-mouth,” I don’t think you do…I think you have a foul-heart, potty-heart or simply a bad-heart.” Jesus actually backs that thought up by saying in Matthew 15:18, “But the words you speak come from the heart–that’s what defiles you.” I don’t want to go into detail on this now, because this is a teaching coming up soon in this Hydrate Series.

But, there it is. Jesus says, what comes out of your mouth actually originated in your heart.

BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART FOR THEY WILL SEE GOD! And so…I am working on “The Pure Heart” thing.

I wish there was this great formula or a 3 point sermon for Purifying Hearts. There is not. Well…I’m sure there’s a 3 point sermon about it…but it will be laughable. Some people say naively, “Just read the Bible more and your heart will become more and more pure. I want to believe that, but that would be like saying, “You want to have a really sharp sword, just read the manual on how to sharpen swords more often and it’ll get sharper!” In my not so humble opinion, purifying your heart is like sharpening a sword, purifying gold or having a perfect diamond.

Swords get sharper when they go through heat, and friction.
Gold becomes more pure when it goes through the smelter, over and over and the impurities slowly get burned out.
Diamonds are in their most desirable state after they have been cut and polished.

So…How do I get a pure heart?

First, give your life, your thoughts, your actions, your words, your mind, your ideas, your everything to Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. Read and study what Jesus commands of us and practice living it all daily. Then…LIVE ON! Now…Introducing…LIFE! It will come at you hard and it doesn’t care if you make it or not. Life will work you over and spit you out. This is called refining, smelting, cutting, polishing. So, its gut check time.

Did you ever wonder why Jesus’ brother in the book of James writes, “Consider it pure joy when you go through trials and suffering.” (James 1) Was James nuts? Or…did James understand how purity happens? Trials and Suffering are friction. Trials and suffering are smelters. Trials and suffering are where you get cut and polished. The book of Job chapter 23 verse 10, it is written, “I shall come out as GOLD after He tries me.”

Sounds simple enough, right? NOT! Whoever said that Christianity is a crutch for the weak, is a clueless-wonder to what Jesus really asks of His followers. A person who says that Christianity is a crutch, is a person who has obviously been hurt deeply by somebody who declares themselves to be a Christian and continues to let that “christian” cause them to stumble. I won’t apologize for that person. If you think that Christianity is for the weak, then I want to tell you to stop using people as your example. Stop following people. Start following Jesus. He’s not weak. He’s not a Hypocrite. Quit putting so much reliance on how others treat you, become responsible for your own study of truth and make a decision. People will always get in the way. If someone in your life keeps getting in the way of your heart being pure, then remove yourself from the person. Quit following that person. Quit blaming that person. Here’s our tough reality. The people who were supposed to be following Jesus are the ones who actually killed Jesus on the cross. Now, don’t forget…Jesus chose to go to the Cross. If Jesus didn’t want to die for you, He would have walked from the cross and nobody could have stopped Him. But…the ones who were supposed to follow Jesus were the ones who drove the nails that fastened Jesus onto the cross. Quit following people. Quit letting people cause you to stumble. Toughen up, follow Jesus and quit using people as your scapegoat as to why you don’t want to face the truth. I have personally found that most people who think Christianity is a crutch for the weak, have never even read the Holy Bible. Read it first…then…we’ll chat.

Since I am mentioning imperfect people getting in our way of us following Jesus. I’m choosing to do a Confession time. I have, many times in my life, found some very real and dark corners in my heart. All you need to have happen, to discover these dark corners of your heart, is a little hurt. Or a lot of hurt. That hurt turns into anger and before you know it, you have thoughts coming from your “heart” that would make a criminal sweat. Or am I just speaking for myself here? I’ll just try to speak for myself. I’m pretty sure…I could be a sniper. I think I could put a bullet through an enemies head and not lose one ounce of sleep over it. So many people think that all pastors are just lovey, dovey wonderful and kind, nearly perfect people. You know what I think about that? I think…NOPE!
The men and women God used to lead His people back in the Bible times were a rough and tumble bunch. One of Jesus’ Apostles was from an order of people that are called the Sicari. They were known as a group of assassins. I don’t have time to go into that detail, but just google it. Peter, tried to kill a man with his sword when the group showed up to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas was just bad in so many ways. Let’s go way back. Elijah killed 800 prophets of Baal back in his day, and God took Elijah straight to Heaven without having him die first. There are a lot of “not-so-goody-twoshoes” kind of people that God used and uses to lead His people. I admit that I can be one of those…in my heart.

Now…I know…I know…I feel you wanting to preach to me right now. The fruit of the spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. You don’t have to preach to me about how much love I’m supposed to have for all people. I agree. I love all people. I wouldn’t be a pastor if I didn’t love people. I am just tempted…at times…to be a sniper! LOL

The POINT?

SWEAT IT OUT:

Purity of heart. It seems that some people are just born with a pure heart. Its not true…people are not born with pure hearts. I have personally found that people who have pure hearts are people who have payed a large price of pain for that pure heart. It always seems like the pure in heart are gentle and kind and loving. I have found, when I asked those who are pure in heart about their life story, that their story is one that breaks my heart. These people, with refined, smelted, and polished pure hearts, now look back on their lives and can thank God….NOT FOR THE PAIN…but thank God that He helped them THROUGH THE PAIN. These people have now, “Come out PURE AS GOLD.”

Do you really want a pure heart?
Knowing how much pain is involved in getting a pure heart…I’m tempted to say no.
But if I don’t have a pure heart, then I know that I will never see God.
I want to see God.
So I will pray this prayer to God. Maybe you would pray it with me right now too? “Lord…I want to have a pure heart. But…Lord….PLEASE…as you turn up the heat on my life to refine me, smelt me, sharpen me and make me PURE…PLEASE DO NOT TAKE YOUR HAND OFF OF THE THERMOSTAT.” In Jesus name, AMEN.

I will end this post now…and as you step out today to continue your refining, smelting, sharpening, polishing and PURIFYING…take great confidence in 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure!”

I love that passage. So…bring life on! Whatever it takes for you and me to see God…bring it on! Right?
And when we have lived our lives through this life process of purifying our hearts…then…with pure hearts… you and I will go together into the presence of Almighty God.
And SEE HIM…yes…SEE GOD.
What a cool day that is going to be.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”