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HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 3 (Mt.5:5) “Meek”


“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
Matthew 5:5

DRINK IT IN:
Are you meek? The average person might respond, when asked this question, with, “heck no…I’m not meek!” This character trait, called meekness, is not one that the world determines to be of value. In fact, I would say, that the world believes that if you are meek you are weak. The world would continue to say, ‘If you are meek, then you are weak, which means you are going to get your butt kicked over and over and finish last.” Jesus would push back on this argument by saying, “The last shall be first.” Jesus also would say, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

So, I suppose the big question is this. Who’s right? Jesus, or the world? When “its” all said and done…does Jesus win? When the world is finished as we know it today, will Jesus have been right? I’m not a betting man…but this one is worth betting on! This is one bet I’m willing to go, “All In!”

Let’s get right to it. What is MEEKNESS?

Maybe a better way to understand what being meek is, is to first understand what it is not. An easy way to understand meekness, is to first admit, that JESUS IS MEEK. We know that Jesus was strong and had all the power of God, the Father. We know that Jesus got angry and made a whip and used it to whip people out of the Temple. We know that Jesus called the Religious leaders bad names. So meek does not mean weak. Meek does not mean, to remain quiet. It most definitely does not mean timid. Meek does not mean, never get angry. Meek does not mean to think poorly of yourself. It does not mean that you should think of yourself as of little worth.

Meekness does not demand to think poorly of yourself, I think meek simply means that you do not think about yourself much at all.

A meek person is a secure person. A meek person accepts that they, in the big picture of life, are small and do not have real control. A meek person knows that their Creator is great and totally in control. A meek person knows that they have been made in the likeness of their Creator. A meek person knows that they are a child of Almighty God and that cannot be taken away. A meek person knows that God doesn’t NEED them, but wants to know them and work together with them to bring a touch of Heaven to earth. A meek person does not have to defend themselves, because they are already secure in who God made them to be. A meek person believes in what God says about them and ignores what other people say about them.

A meek person can have unbelievable power and strength and could dominate any situation they wanted to control. But a meek person doesn’t have to control and they acknowledge this fact and are okay with it. A meek person understands the Bible passage that says, “Where I am weak, God is strong.” A meek person’s major goal is to do his/her very best to behave like Jesus Christ and leave the results up to God. To the meek, ALL CONTROL belongs to God.

I think that is a solid idea of what MEEK is.

Now what does Jesus mean when He says that the meek shall inherit the earth?

Some people are confused about what Heaven is going to be like. Some people are confused about what the end times are really going to be like. Now, the reality, is that none of us knows every detail, but the Bible does paint a strong picture of what Heaven is going to be like. Its pretty clear in the Scriptures, that when Jesus returns to settle the score once and for all with the devil, that everything on the earth is going to be destroyed. It doesn’t necessarily say that the Earth is going to be destroyed. Everything is going to be destroyed by fire. That means that God is going to rebuild. Re-new and re-do. Maybe its kind of like when God “destroyed” everything with the great flood. God started over. The Bible says that a New Jerusalem will be built and placed on earth. Sin will be destroyed. Our earthly bodies will be destroyed and we will be given new bodies for our souls to live in. The Bible talks about relationships, food, worship, no more pain, etc. etc. when it explains Heaven.

Its very easy for me to read the Bible, and be able to say, that Heaven is going to be just as physical and real as our lives are today. Heaven is earth renewed to what God intended when He first created it all from the very beginning. If you would like to do a very technical study on Heaven, then I would highly recommend Randy Alcorn’s book titled, “Heaven.” It will excite you about the realities of Heaven. Your expanded understanding of Heaven will encourage you to work on your meekness…because the meek will inherit the earth!

Be meek. It will be worth it. It might make you finish last here on earth…but…the promise is…the meek shall be first in eternity! Hmmm…not a bad deal. Call it delayed gratification. The average life span is about 85 years. Eternity is forever. I’ll trade 85 years of potential last places for an eternity of Champion.

Have you ever said this phrase…”Your day is coming?” That phrase can be spoken to both the non-meek and the meek. Which ever one you are or choose to be…Your Day is Coming!

Its your choice which one you want to be.

SWEAT IT OUT:

Are there areas in your life where you are not meek? Maybe ask a trusted person in your life to help you notice areas.
Are there things you are trying to control and/or force to happen?
Who have you been “dominating” lately in life? What can you do today to elevate them and show more meekness?

How would your day look today, if you chose to let God have all the control and you focused only on behaving in a way that honors God?

Maybe, an easy way to remember how to live today as a person of meekness, is to remember these two words.

HONOR & DELIGHT.

What if all day…you focused on “honoring” the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Jesus Christ & worked on “delighting” the people that God puts in your circle of influence?

Think that would make your day a good one? Ultimately it won’t matter if your day is a good one or not…what will matter is that you will be a person of Meekness.

If you are meek, then Jesus says you are Blessed!

Have a meek day.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 2 (Mt.5:4) “Mourn”

“Those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4 (HCSB)

DRINK IT IN:

Have you ever truly mourned? It usually takes the loss of something in our lives to cause us to mourn. So, it’s fair for me to say that EVERYBODY at one point or another has mourned, right? I do not think this is what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Those who mourn are blessed.” If that is the case, Jesus would have just said…”Blessed is Everybody!” Because everybody, sooner or later mourns. So what did Jesus mean when He said, “Those who mourn are blessed?”
Put on your thinking caps with me here.

Remember that BLESSED, in this instance, does not mean happy. It means, ACCEPTED. This passage could be translated, “God accepts into Heaven those who mourn…for they will be comforted.” The hard truth in this teaching of Jesus is the fact that God LOVES everyone, but He only ACCEPTS into Heaven those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior into their personal lives AND mourn. Big difference.

So what does Jesus mean in this passage? “Those who Mourn will be blessed, for they will be comforted.”

I think the best way to fully grasp what Jesus meant here, is to understand what I like to call, origins. In order to understand the origins of God, then we need to reexamine the very beginning of time. We do this by asking this question…what did God intend for mankind from the very beginning? When I say beginning, I mean, Adam and Eve. The Beginning! What did God intend for the world to be like? Let’s go to the beginning.

And so, God created Adam. He put Adam in charge over everything on the planet to manage and steward. Adam got to spend “face-time” with The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God’s intent from the very beginning is for mankind to be up-close and personal with God all the time! Adam got to do some pretty cool things under the leadership of God. Adam actually got to name all the animals. I like to have fun thinking about how Adam started naming all the animals…one by one he got started on naming the animals with great creativity and energy. This early and energetic start allowed Adam to come up with names like, Hippopotamus, Duck-billed platypus, Giraffe, Elephant, Tyrannosaurus, Barracuda, Flamingo, Orangutang, Alligator, chimpanzee, and salamander. My opinion…about this naming task that Adam was given to do…it began to tire him, and much like any person, his patience grew thin as he looked down the long line of animals yet to be named. So instead of being creative, because creativity takes a lot of energy, Adam turned into, “Mr. Obvious.” He started naming the animals based off what they obviously did or at least what they looked like. Hummingbird, Road Runner, Grasshopper, Jellyfish, Red Deer, Stinkbug, and Woodpecker. So as the day wore on, and it is obvious that Adam got tired and grouchy and names began to shorten and we ended up with dog, pig, cat, rat, yak, Bee, Ant, Ox and in a grouchy last minute decision he named one an Ass! LOL

But…as the story moves forward…Adam, after naming all the creatures is still alone. God said at this moment, “Its not good for man to be alone!” And so he put Adam to sleep and in a miraculous move of creation, God creates someone just like Adam, but “better.” This new “creature” is a total compliment to Adam and is very similar but also different. She has “curves” that he doesn’t have. He is immediately very “impressed” and says out-loud to God…”WO–Man!” And God said…that works! Let’s call her Woman!

Sorry. Can we get back to the point please?

What I’m really trying to point out here is this. God was with Adam and Eve, face to face! Adam and Eve had no shame or embarrassment of any kind. There was no competition, no comparisons, no jealousy, no revenge, no hurt, no anger, etc. Animals and people were not afraid of each other. Perfect Community. No, greed, weeds, dirty deeds, or plastic surgeries.

God meant for it all to be perfect. Perfect community. Perfect relationships. Perfect life! That was God’s intent for the origin.

AND THEN CAME SIN. Freedom of choice turned selfish. Deception grew, jealousy and scarcity began to breed. Hurt…anger…murder…revenge. People taking advantage of each other. Sharing began to dissipate. Greed. In the lost face-time and community with God, people began to “re-group.” Racism formed, superiority complexes, gangs formed, cliques. Instead of share and love it became take and separate. Instead of give and share, it turned to keep and protect. Instead of work together, it became monopolize and dominate.

Every year that has passed since that first sin, it grows worse. Nearly 2000 years ago, the Apostle Paul warned of what times would be like as it grows closer to Jesus returning to break this world’s curse. Paul wrote in the letter of the Bible called 2 Timothy 2:3-4, “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”

As Christians, we understand what God intended our lives to be, starting with creation. We also know what has happened to our world. We understand that each of us have contributed to the problem. All this causes us to MOURN. We long for the day that Jesus will return and make all things new. He will RE-new all things to the original intent when He returns. Until then, we watch the 10 O’clock News and it causes us to Mourn. We see infants born with unbelievable mal-formities and we see the curse of sin growing through disease and disorders of every kind…and it causes us to MOURN. We see a child being bullied because he is different, and it causes us to MOURN. We study our history and read about people who, under the name of Christianity, marched forth to rape, kill and murder muslims in the Crusades of old…and it causes us to MOURN. We see Muslims Extremists fly airplanes into buildings…and it causes us to MOURN. Lying, cheating, stealing, sexual deviation, and every other form of self-serving action…growing, and growing out of control and it all causes true understanders of the origins of God to MOURN.

Its almost maddening to simply read the paragraph we just read above. Its really out of control. How long will Jesus wait?

If you want to read a passage in scripture, only 11 verses long, that perfectly talks about what I mean by, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted,” then read Ezekiel Chapter 9 in the Old Testament. Notice what happens to those who are in the city who are “mourning.” How do the angels know which ones are mourning? It says they are the ones, “weeping and sighing because of all the detestable sins that are happening in their city.” The Lord commands the angels to put a mark on these people’s heads. Go and read what happens to the people who DO NOT have the “mark.” What happens to the people with the “mark?” (Grab a Bible and read it.)

There is something deeply inspiring about this story of Ezekiel 9. The “Mark” that is given to those who are “MOURNING” is written on their foreheads. The people with the mark written on their foreheads are promised that they will be saved/comforted while everybody else is annihilated. The cool part of this story is the actual “mark.” The mark is the Hebrew alphabet letter called the Tav. The Tav…in Ezekiel’s time…when drawn on the foreheads of the people who were mourning…is this. Here is the “Tav” as it was written on the foreheads of the people in Ezekiel’s time. Today we know this symbol to be the sign of the CROSS!! This story happened nearly 600 years before Jesus dies on the cross. The sign of the cross that was written on the people’s heads, because they were mourning, “saves” them and comforts them from the wrath. (Do you see the prophecy in this story?)

So…eventually Jesus shows up on the scene and teaches about those who mourn and how they will be blessed. The people who mourn today, do it because they know what the world SHOULD be if it weren’t for sin. Those who mourn have a deep desire to live in the “God intended world.” Those who mourn understand this. Those who mourn will be comforted. Those who mourn will be the ones accepted into God’s Kingdom of Heaven where they will live just as physically as we do today, but in a renewed world. The world renewed as God had originally planned it to be. That is something worth mourning for!

“Blessed are those who Mourn, for they will be comforted.”

SWEAT IT OUT:
As you dwell on the depth of this one sentence that Jesus said, I hope you will focus on what ultimately has caused those who do mourn, to mourn. It is sin. So in this short devotion, I hope you will do some practical things to help you be in a better “up-close and personal” relationship with God, right now. We don’t have to wait until Heaven to have some up close and personal time with God. Your relationship with God won’t fully be what you would like it to be until eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven begins. Don’t forget, though, that God wants us to bring some Heaven to earth right now. If He didn’t, He would not have taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done ON EARTH…AS it is in Heaven! So here are a few things to do, to bring a taste of Heaven to earth right now.

First of all…are there any sins that you are continually practicing that are causing you extra pain and regret in your life? 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Are you being Greedy, arrogant, rude, selfish, drunk, sexual deviation, continual overeating, jealous, revengeful, judgmental, etc? If so, confess them and stop committing them.

You should be mourning this world right now, and wishing it were what it is supposed to be. So why don’t you contribute to the “what it is supposed to be?” There are a lot of people who suffer extra because of this “fallen” world. Jesus tells us what to do for these people. Feed them, clothe them, visit them, give water to the thirsty, care for the orphan, etc. Join a local church that is actively doing these things and participate yourself. Find somebody in your circle of influence who is struggling because of our world’s condition. Help them in anyway they need help.

If you have secrets in your life…those secrets are the beginning to sin and destruction. Admit the truth and accept the consequences and be free in the eyes of God. Forgiveness is real. Its not easy, but it is real.

Something to think about…Do you MOURN the current status of our earthly condition? If you do not…are you okay with that? Have you become hardened and cynical and sarcastic? I struggle with having a hard heart sometimes and also with sarcasm and cynicism. Those are not traits we should be proud of. Practice what Philippians 4:4-8 says. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Think about those things that are lovely, admirable and worthy of praise. Then the God of peace will be with you.” This world SHOULD make you mourn. If you do not, something is not right with you and your walk with Christ. Until Jesus returns there should be at least a little mourning going on in your life…an ache for what life is supposed to be.

The world we live in right now…was not meant to be this way. Someday Jesus will return to restore it to its intended condition. Make sure you are ready. What a world its going to be! I am hoping to see you there and spend eternity with you. If you don’t know for sure that you are going to spend eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven, then we need to talk. Contact me and we’ll get this all straightened out. It will be more than worth it.

“Those who Mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted.”


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 1 (Mt.5:3) “Poor in Spirit”

“The poor in spirit are blessed, for the King of Heaven is theirs.”
Matthew 5:3 (HCSB)

DRINK IT IN…
So Jesus is in Northern Israel when He speaks his very first recorded sermon. It says in Matthew 5 that Jesus went up a mountain and he sat down and began to teach. I have been to Israel now three times. I have walked on the ground where it is assumed that Jesus taught this crowd referenced in Matthew 5. We call this first sermon of Jesus’, “The Sermon on the Mount.” In the area I have visited there are a lot of hillsides. Its funny to me, as you read the Bible, and see the word Mountain used a lot. The mountains that are referenced in the Bible, leads us to imagine mountains like the Rocky Mountains or, as I live in the Phoenix AZ area, our Valley is surrounded by larger mountains. However, please understand, if you actually saw what the Bible refers to as Mountains in the Israel area, you would do better to think more of a hillside instead of mountain. This area that I have visited where it is assumed that Jesus preached this sermon that we have recorded in Matthew 5 is an area that has a hillside that goes upward about 100 feet. Littered throughout the incline of this “mount” are a bunch of chair sized boulders. As I stood at the top of this hillside looking down, it was very easy for me to see how Jesus would have walked through the flat plain of the land, through the crowds gathered there, and walk up the incline of the hillside or “mount,” and then sit on one of those boulders and begin to teach. Its a very cool place to visit and I hope you will be able to travel there someday and see the sight for yourself. I try to lead a trip every two years, maybe you could be a part of the group I lead over to Israel next.

As Jesus begins to teach, He simply says, “The poor in spirit are blessed, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

First of all let’s simply define “Blessed.” Blessed does not mean happy. Blessed means approved. This teaching of Jesus could be translated, “The poor in spirit are approved by God and will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.”

What does “poor in spirit” mean?
I do not think it means poor as in the opposite of being rich. Its not about the lack of houses, cars and bling. The Bible is loaded with faithful men and women that God used in mighty ways and they were wealthy. There is nothing wrong with being wealthy as long as you are “poor in spirit.”

Let’s look at it this way. Mankind…especially in America…values “HAVING & DOING.” The more you have the more successful you are in the eyes of the world. The more you do or accomplish, the more successful you are in the eyes of the world.

But Jesus didn’t teach this idea. Notice this teaching of Jesus’ doesn’t say, “Blessed are those who ACCOMPLISH poor in spirit or HAVE poor in spirit.” He says, “Blessed ARE the poor in spirit.”

So here is the deal…
WHO YOU “ARE” IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT YOU DO OR WHAT YOU HAVE!
This whole Hydrate series is about “winning from the inside.” I asked in a previous blog if your “happiness is portable?” The only way that happiness can be portable is if it is inside of you. If your happiness is in what you have or what you do, then if you lose what you have or can’t do what you do any longer, then your happiness would be gone too. Its like saying your purpose is found in your stuff and in what you do. But what if you lose the stuff or can’t do what you do any longer? Does that mean your purpose ends. No! Your purpose and your happiness must be portable. Your purpose and your happiness is in WHO YOU ARE.

Purpose is an “ARE”…not a Have or a Do! Happiness is an “ARE”…not a Have or a Do! (Do you understand this very important part?)

Jesus says blessed “ARE” the poor in Spirit. Maybe this is a good way to think about it, if you are still trying to understand “Poor in Spirit.” What is the opposite of poor in Spirit? The opposite of poor in spirit is “Self-Sufficient.” If you think you are self sufficient then you actually think that you don’t need God or anybody else. If you think you do not need God, then you are not “Poor In Spirit.” Thus…the Kingdom of Heaven will not be for you! If you think you are self sufficient, then others probably see you as arrogant. Those who ARE poor in spirit ARE humble. It might be fair to say that Jesus could have simply said, “Blessed are the humble, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I want the Kingdom of Heaven so bad. I must continue to work on my “poor in spirit.” My humility. Don’t forget that Jesus told us in the Lord’s Prayer that we should be praying, “Thy Kingdom Come on Earth….as it is in Heaven.”

So…yes…we want to be in the Kingdom of Heaven for eternity. But in order for that to happen, we have to bring some heaven down to earth. That happens best when you ARE like the Kingdom of Heaven. Lots of people “DO” what Jesus commands, or “HAVE” Bibles they read frequently, but they ARE not like God internally. Do you know what I mean?

Be the ARE!

“SWEAT IT OUT”
The “Sweat It Out” section is simply meant to challenge you to action. In the “Drink It In” section I share some history and teaching. Now that you drank in the material above. How will you “sweat it out.”

If you will…I ask you to get a sheet of paper and write out, in one or two sentences…”Who You Are.”
Some rules. You can’t write what you do or what you have. Remember, who you are must be portable. You could lose everything in your life due to a tragedy but that wouldn’t take away “who you are.” So write down who you are. Keep it with you today. Revise it as you think of other things that describe who you are.

Another thing to ‘sweat out’ is to ask somebody you trust whether or not you ARE humble or ARE arrogant. Ask them to tell you straight up. Make sure you don’t get angry at them for being honest with you. LOL If you get angry at them for being honest…then you will know for a fact that you ARE not in fact….”Poor In Spirit.”

Be humble today. Be poor in spirit. Don’t think you ARE self-sufficient. Ask for God’s help and strength in everything you do. Make sure you ARE a friend to others so that you may have friends in your life too.

Being poor in spirit must be a huge thing to God because it is the first sentence Jesus spoke at the very first sermon He ever preached. Poor in Spirit is a sense of need. I need God. I need others. The day I think I have arrived and I can do everything on my own. That’s not a good day.

Be thankful that you need others. That is how God made you. Write down the names of people in your life that you are thankful for. Use technology to send them a quick thank you note telling them why you appreciate them. Let them know they are important to you and that you need them in your life.

Don’t forget to pause and thank the Lord for how He made you and thank Him for promising to never leave your nor forsake you. You need Him. I do too.

Blessed are the Poor In Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!


Hydrate — Winning From The Inside — The Preface

Is your happiness portable?

What do I mean by, “portable happiness?” Think with me…

What if you lost your job today and couldn’t find any work for the next six months?
What if your son went undefeated in his basketball season but lost the championship game because he missed his final free throw?
What if a tornado or a fire completely destroyed your home and everything in it, including your family’s creative memories albums?
What if your four year old daughter were diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and were given a 10% chance of living to age six?
What if you lost your wife and children in a car crash as they drove home from Walmart today?

The “What If’s” game is not a fun game to play. But, the “What Ifs” are a likelihood for each and every individual, everyday. A likelihood for you. Please understand that I am not deploying fear tactics here. I am simply reminding us all that the “What Ifs” are realities for people, everyday.

The hard reality is this. If we place our “ultimate” joy and happiness in these temporal elements of our lives, then we potentially face, each and every day, such a heart wrenching reality that we would not be able to live the rest of our lives with joy or happiness.

Introducing — “Hydrate.” Winning from the inside.”

What do I mean by “Hydrate?”

There is a story-of-old about a man who encounters a woman drawing water from a well for her family at noon on a hot and dry day. At this encounter, the man begins to converse with her, he simply asks, “would you be so kind as to draw a drink of water for me?” She is quite surprised by the inquiry because he was of different ethnicity than she, and it was counter-cultural for such conversation to take place. However, she agreed and drew up some cool water from the deep well. After being refreshed by his drink of water. He said, “If you drink this water, you will only thirst again, but if you drink the water that I can give you, you will never thirst again. It will be like a bubbling spring of water and life inside of you. ” Then the woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw the water!” And, so, the conversation went on.

If you don’t know the “characters” of this story-of-old, this is a woman from Samaria speaking with Jesus of Nazareth. You can read all the details in the Bible in the book of John, chapter 4.

“HYDRATE”

If Jesus of Nazareth is who He says He is…then I would think that we should deeply consider and learn from Him. One of His teachings actually commands us “to teach people to obey everything that I have commanded.” (We’ll get to that teaching in this Hydrate series…but not yet!)

There are approximately 300 different teachings that Jesus publicly declared in His lifetime. I am hopeful that you will devote yourself to drink in this material as often as you can. Do not “drink it in” out of duty. Have you ever consumed a bottle of water out of duty? Its not refreshing, is it? I hope that you will place this material at your easy access and when you “thirst,” you will take it up and drink it in. And, as you continue to drink, my hope for you, is that you will find a “bubbling spring of water and life welling up inside of you.” I call this joy and happiness.

When your Joy and Happiness begins to flow internally.

Then it is portable.

Each teaching of Jesus will be an entry in the Hydrate series. You will see that each entry will be in two parts. First there will be an easy to understand history of what Jesus said and I will call that section, “Drink It In.” Then there will be a simple practical challenge for you to consider and activate into your life after learning about what Jesus taught. This second part will be called, “Sweat it out.”

Drink it in and sweat it out.

Its totally portable!

I hope you enjoy it and are forever impacted.

Please keep me updated along your journey.

Trent


Retweeting Jesus “RT@JesusChrist #13”

“It is finished.” — JC
John 19:20 (NLT)

Surely you have used this phrase before? I have spoken this after completing a Final Exam, book report, doing the backyard or eating a a large pizza all by myself.

When is the last time you said, “It is finished?”

When Jesus says this, He speaks it from the Roman Executioner’s Cross just seconds before his heart beats its last beat. He has just spent the last 18 hours going through unspeakable torment. It is Finished, is a statement of a champion. And in this case…the meaning behind this phrase impacts every person on earth from the past and every person to yet exist in the future.

When Jesus says from the cross, or as I have been pretending, “Tweets” it from the cross. Every Roman follower of Jesus’ Tweets would have perfectly understood in context what He meant. Keep reading…

You see in the Roman empire the Death penalty could be carried out in several different forms. Crucifixion or beheading were the two most popular death sentences given to non-military law breakers. The Roman Empire wanted to be known as fierce and they also wanted to avoid being known as uncivilized. So they had a death sentence “program” that was swift yet brutal. Swift so as not to be too cruel and unusual, but brutal enough to warn a potential criminal that Rome meant business when it came to following their laws.

The military had a few death penalty ways about them that could strike fear in the heart of anybody and hopefully would prevent a potential law breaker from going through with his plan. Here are some of the ways a Roman Military person could be put to death if they caused Rome to be embarrassed or if they broke the military code of ethics. If while on night watch as a Roman guard, the guard fell asleep, and his superior officer actually caught him sleeping, the commanding officer would awaken the sleeping guard, have his clothes stripped off to his ankles, then light the clothes around his ankles on fire and the guard would be burned alive. (One didn’t want to fall asleep on duty. They didn’t have energy drinks then, either!) Another tactic that Roman Officers would use when trying to find the culprit in a military regiment that had “messed up,” was to line the whole group up along a tall cliff. The entire Roman Army Regiment would then walk to the edge of the cliff and literally, while standing, put their toes on the edge of the cliff, and of course, everybody would be looking down, fearful of what could happen. The Officer in charge of the regiment would walk behind each of the soldiers as they stood on the edge of the cliff and would be yelling at them to identify the person who “screwed up,” broke the law, or embarrassed Rome due to negligence. If there wasn’t anybody in the entire Roman Regiment that would “Nark” out the guilty person, then the Officer in charge would begin to walk behind the group and push one soldier at a time off the cliff and have the group watch this person fall to his death. The hopes of the officer was that somebody would finally point out the offender, or the offender would finally confess and then be pushed to his own death, saving the lives of the others in the regiment.

If there was no cliff to be found in the area then the Roman Officer would have his regiment of soldiers line up anyway. He would take out a cup that he carried with him for this very purpose. The cup would be filled with a mixture of Hemlock. Hemlock is a lethal poison. Whether you drink a little or a lot, it is going to kill you. (Hemlock is the poison in the story of Romeo and Juliet. It is also how Socrates was given the death sentence) This cup that the Roman Officer carried would be filled with the Hemlock mixture and was known as “The Cup of Suffering” in the Roman Empire. In the Roman Empire if an officer in charge had to use the cup of suffering there was only one rule…The cup had to be completely drank for the officer in charge to be satisfied that “the crime” committed was paid for. So imagine the Roman Regiment lined up. If the officer had an idea of who the offending soldier might have been he would place that soldier in the first position, the front of the line. He would give the cup of suffering to that first soldier. Now the soldier has a moral dilemma. The first soldier knows that he is going to die whether he drinks a little of this cup of suffering or if he drinks the whole thing. If the first soldier drinking from the cup of suffering only drinks a little, he then would have to pass the cup to the next in line. That next soldier would have to drink a little and then pass it on to the next. However…if anybody in the line wanted to spare the lives of everybody else, down the line, all he had to do was drink the whole cup of suffering himself. If the soldier chose to drink the whole cup of suffering, he would drink the whole cup, give the cup to the officer in charge and the officer would say, “IT IS FINISHED!”

Do you get what Jesus did, when He “tweeted” from the cross, “IT IS FINISHED!”

Jesus was saying, “I will take all the punishment upon myself and spare everybody else for all time past and future.”

However…please think about this with me…this is important…Just approximately 24 hours earlier, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and was begging His Father in Heaven to do what?

“Father, Please take this CUP OF SUFFERING away from me!” Jesus begged His Father three times this exact request.

Understanding the Roman’s Cup of Suffering brings about a lot more depth of meaning to this whole situation doesn’t it?

Do you have a child or children? Can you imagine one of your children coming to you…and by the way…this child coming to you has been the PERFECT child, literally. This child whom you love so intensely begs you to not do something. But this something he is begging you not to do is so intensely painful and humiliating. How could you follow through and give the go ahead and then watch it happen to your child? You give the “go-ahead” to have your perfectly innocent child beaten to an inch of his life, stripped naked in front of everybody, you watch him get beaten over the head with clubs, they force a huge thorn crown down upon his bleeding head, make him carry his own cross through the streets while people spit and jeer him. You continue to watch the people throw your perfect child on top of the cross beam and drive nails into his hands and feet. Dislocating his shoulder or both shoulders. Laughing and jeering the whole time. They then hoist the cross, with him nailed to it, to an upright position where you have to watch your only perfect child literally suffocate to death, fighting for air.

I couldn’t do it. If I had to pick who was going to go through that kind of agony to pay for all mankind’s sins. And my choice is between my own perfect child and you…the one who sinned and brought this whole curse to a reality. I’m sorry…You would die. Not my only perfect child.

How much does the Heavenly Father love you? How much does the Heavenly Father love you that He chose for you to live and have His perfect son, His only child, pay the price instead?

REALLY…HE CHOSE YOU TO LIVE. HE MADE JESUS DRINK THE CUP OF SUFFERING INSTEAD OF YOU.

This is the way God desires us to be everyday of our lives. Sacrificial, Giving, Loving, Serving, Accepting.
That’s what He did for you. That’s what He did for me. By doing this, God demonstrated to us how much He loves us and accepts us without having us do a single thing to earn His acceptance. In fact the Bible says that while we were sinners, God absolutely accepted us by having His son die for us…again…while we were still sinning, we were accepted by God. By God giving His only Son as a replacement for us on the cross. (To drink the Cup of Suffering) It shows that you can’t do one thing to earn God’s acceptance and love for you. It is a gift. That gift was given when Jesus was placed on the cross instead of you. Oh, I wish all people lived in this kind of behavior. Let me demonstrate by inserting a diagram below.

The image I have inserted below is an image that demonstrates, perfectly, the difference between Love’s way and Control’s way. I wish I could say that I created the diagram. I did not. Credit is due to the Life Training Material we used to teach at Parkway Christian Church. If you would like to check this full material out then look up www.vcli.org. Vcli stands for Victorious Christian Living. They are headquartered in Phoenix AZ. The material is actually called S.A.L.T. (Seven Areas of Life Training) Its good stuff. The following thoughts are from this material.

God is Love. He COULD control, but He chooses to demonstrate his power and position by Love not control. Please be “self-aware” enough to know which way you live your life and lead the people you influence. Do you live/lead by Control or by Love?

As you can see, Love doesn’t make you earn anything. Love gives you total acceptance first. Love gives you an “A” and then allows you to earn an “F” if you want to. Love says, “I have AUTHORITY to make you earn my acceptance, but I am going to ACCEPT you first and show you how much I love you. When you know how much I love and accept you, you will feel AFFIRMED by be. As you feel affirmed by me, then you will desire to be ACCOUNTABLE to me and when you choose to be accountable to me, you acknowledge that I am an AUTHORITY in your life.

That is God’s way. That is the way God wants you to live and lead others. It will take you totally trusting in God as you live and lead this way.

People, who have a problem with God, usually think that God leads using the Control side of the diagram.
They have had either a controlling parent or too many controlling people in their life.
They have been forced to submit to the person in authority first. It goes like this…
Somebody, with power, demands that you follow their AUTHORITY, period. They do this by forcing you to be ACCOUNTABLE to their rules/style/ways. When you prove you are being accountable to their authority, then the person in authority will begin to AFFIRM you. “Keep up the good work, you are really catching my attention,” they say. As you keep up the good work because you want this person’s affirmation and you continue to work for their affirmation and you stand the test of time…you will finally be ACCEPTED by the person in authority.

How Horrible. Right? Thank God, that God and Jesus didn’t do this to all of us!

This is the way of corporate and worldly living. This is the way of control. People who control are living as if they are God. You agree, right, that ” all control” belongs to God?

So…I say…THANK GOD that God leads us using the Love side of the diagram. God accepts first. How wonderful.
The Cup of Suffering that was given to Jesus proves it.

“IT IS FINISHED.”
That means you don’t HAVE to have control. God’s got that part.
ACCEPT first.
God didn’t force you to make Him your Authority.
Why do you make others bow to your Authority? (If you do.)

God’s Got your Back.
(Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Live like God in all your ways and He will take care of the rest.) That’s my version of Proverbs 3:5-6.

Accept first. Love first. Trust first. You really didn’t EARN anything in your life that you have. You might pridefully think you did. But everything is a gift from the Lord. Everything.

Our School Teachers are a perfect demonstration point on this. Depending on the teacher’s personality and whether or not they are power hungry, they can start you, as a student, with either an “A” or an “F”. The grades work out the same either way in the end.
Everyday you can tell the attitude difference between the teacher that accepts you first and teaches as if you have an “A.” Versus the teacher that has the attitude of not accepting you first and you come into class with the teacher seeing you as a student starting with an “F.” Its an obvious difference and everybody knows it except the teacher.
Which teacher is better to sit under as a student?
Which teacher do you actually WANT to learn from ?
Which teacher really is better at teaching?
Get it?

It Is Finished!
You don’t have to control anything.
Live for others like Jesus lives & died for you.

In your marriage, does your spouse start the day with an “A” or an “F”?
In your workplace, do those “under” you start their job with an “A” or an “F”? (BTW…Jesus washed the feet of those “under” Him.)
In your parenting do your kids start the day with an “A” or an “F”?
In your friendships do your friends start each day with an “A” or an “F”?
In your everyday life as you drive, do totally dumb drivers get to start with an “A” or an “F”? Ohhh…that’s a hard one for me! Can you tell? LOL
Shopping for Groceries does the lady slapping her kids at the check out counter start with an “A” or an “F”?
Waiting in line…wherever…did the guy that cut in line start with an “A” or an “F”?

Give people in your life an “A” first and then you’ll be following the example of Jesus Christ. Fully accept first. Then work from there.
How they treat the “A” you gave them is up to them. There comes a time where that “A” starts dwindling to a “B” or a “C”…its then you and I need to confront the offender…if you wait until they get an “F” to confront…well…that’s just a tough meeting! Its hard work. Never quit working on it. We all have shortfalls. If we follow the teaching of Jesus to treat others like we like to be treated, then hopefully that gives us a few more “A’s” in our pocket to hand out to others. Make sense?
Can I help you with anything?

All right…I can finally say about this long blog…
“It Is Finished!”