Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth

In Jesus first public sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, He emphasized meekness as one of the core values of the Kingdom of God. At the very onset of His message He made a shocking statement, it’s not the strong, rich, or accomplished who will reign with Him in His Kingdom, it’s the meek, lowly, and humble. This statement didn’t only fly in the face of the leaders of His day; it stands in direct contradiction to leaders in virtually every culture the earth has ever seen. People love strong leaders who exude confidence and power. They especially love when someone looks the part as much as he plays the part. Jesus’ statement, however, is the antithesis of what people look for in leadership. This is the truth of His kingdom, not many noble, not many mighty, and not many powerful people are the leaders in His kingdom; it’s the meek and lowly that He chooses (1 Cor 1:26 -27).

If you’re like me you love the idea of meekness and you probably even value those who act humbly. At the same time you probably realize that you fall woefully short of Jesus’ example. If you’re like me, when you get past the surface of these truths and look deeper into your own heart you realize you don’t’ really resemble the meekness that Jesus taught and live. What’s worse is you have probably realized you can’t just do meekness. Humility and the fallen human heart are completely incompatible. Here we are, you and I, stuck with hearts that are deeply stained by pride and Jesus requires humility from those in Kingdom. We know we can’t fake it. How do we change? Here is the bottom line; you and I can’t truly be humble without God transforming us. Sure we can act humble for a moment, an hour or a day, but to live our lives loving humility, loving being least, last, and lowest takes a complete change of heart only available through the power of the Holy Spirit. Transformation of this kind doesn’t happen because we try harder, it only comes as a product of God’s powerful grace released to our soul.

Jesus taught us to come to Him to learn meekness (Mat 11:28-29). It’s the only time He directly tells us to learn a topic from coming to Him. Paul tells us that as we contemplate Jesus’ we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 3:18). Here’s the point: if we want to grow in meekness we have to come to Jesus, admit our pride, and ask Him to transform us. As we ask for change, we must consider and reconsider Jesus, the One who is meek and lowly, and He will impart grace to our hearts to transform us.

Think of it. Jesus is co-equal with the Father. He is from everlasting. Uncreated. All Powerful. He who is most highly exalted put aside His divine privilege in becoming a man and submitted himself to human weakness, humiliation and death. Though He is so great, all that He was and is as a man expresses perfectly His core identity. He didn’t become a man as a “humility assignment”, He is humility. He didn’t have to try to be humble, He simply expressed His core nature.

As we continually consider who He is in humility, it will have a powerful transformative effect upon our hearts. I encourage you to continually consider Jesus astounding humility, ask Him to teach you of Himself in this way, and the power of God will transform you.

In thinking about Jesus and thinking about America it’s hitting me hard how un-American Jesus actually is. Even the statement that Jesus is un-American strikes many people as irreverent or rebellious. I assure you I am in no way being irreverent or rebellious. I am however calling out a deep-seated American nationalism that colors our mentalities about Jesus and His values. Unintentionally we imagine that Jesus is an American and is for America in all of her exploits. Even within our country’s political structure people at times imagine that Jesus has allegiance to one of our political parties. The extent to which we hold these mentalities is the extent we misunderstand His nature and values.

I honestly believe that we can’t overstate how un-American He actually is. He said the same through Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are your ways are my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” He wasn’t kidding, nor was He exaggerating. The truth is, nobody natively thinks like Him. It would be sheer hubris for us to imagine “The American Way” is somehow exempt from His exclusion.

For arguments sake let’s take a cursory look at some of the beatitudes to identify a few key differences. I see the beatitudes as the core values of the Kingdom of God. They are not just values that we should live by, but they are values that Jesus embodies and actually lives Himself. They are His values.

JESUS VALUES
Blessed are the Meek – Ask yourself when was the last time you heard an American political pundit espouse the virtue of humility and meekness in leadership ? Or better yet, when was the last time you saw authentic meekness, not posturing for a media moment, displayed by one of our national leaders?

Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness – We hear much about desiring a better America, a more prosperous and powerful nation, but it’s exceedingly rare to hear political leaders ever mention desiring a greater righteousness in America.

Blessed are the Pure in Heart – This speaks to the issue of ambition. The impure heart is the one that lives for self and is ambitious for promotion. The pure heart is the one that lives for the pleasure of God and the furtherance of His kingdom in the earth.

Blessed are the Persecuted for righteousness – Not only does this not play well on a national level, it doesn’t play well in the Church. We are so attuned to the American value of the “pursuit of happiness” that even in the church we imagine anything that doesn’t make for our own temporal comfort and pleasure to be a curse. Jesus said the opposite.

This is such a small token of thoughts that illustrate how different He is from us and from our national values.

But what about things like freedom? Doesn’t He value liberty? Absolutely, yes! But the liberty He values is one that is experienced in the heart and leads to an expression of righteousness behavior. It is a liberty from the bondages of sin. It is not a human centered liberty that gives freedom of expression to every wicked passion of a fallen heart. His motives are always God-centered not man-centered and thus His agenda and tactics are thoroughly different from ours.

What do you think? Is Jesus an American in mentality? How is He different? How have we created Him as a God in our own image, similar to the children of Israel with the infamous golden calf.

Over the last decade I’ve had the privilege to travel around the world visiting some extremely remote villages as well as some of the world’s largest metropolises. From China to Australia, Jordan to Germany, Israel to Australia, and Kenya to Hong Kong it is absolutely clear that God is raising up His house of prayer. It looks different depending on the culture and language but no matter where you go throughout the earth, you will find people whose hearts are burning with a desire to worship Jesus night and day.

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entitlementHere at the onset of 2015, the Lord has freshly impressed upon me the dangers of having an entitlement mentality. You know, the idea that we are owed something or that we deserve better than what we have. I’m face to face with my own propensity to believe I DESERVE comforts, things, honor, etc. The problem is I don’t deserve anything better than what I have, in fact, truth be told, because of my rebellion against God, all I really  deserve is hell. Anything I receive one degree better than hell should be considered a huge blessing. So, I’m turning to the Sermon on the Mount again to gain perspective and help extinguish my entitlement mentality.

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Consumer ChristianityBy “Us”, I mean all of us who name the name of Christ; us, the Bride, the Church. Consumer Christianity is KILLING US.

You understand consumerism. America is made up of consumers. Companies make stuff and we consume it. That’s the cycle of economics which is based upon the law of supply and demand. Demand drives the process. And who does the demanding? Consumers…also us…people. Consumerism is predicated upon our choice to purchase things based on our preferences and needs. If we have a family of six and we need a vehicle which can carry all of us together – Mini van here we come. Healthy consumerism drives a healthy economy and the freedom to choose is at the core of this. That’s why capitalism thrives in countries where the people are free to make their own choices. Consumerism, however, does not make for a healthy church.

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sparkAs early as I can remember in my Christian walk I was fascinated by the subject of revival. My fascination compelled me into  avid study and ultimately birthed a hunger in my soul to see a true, God-birthed revival in our day and time. I love the stories of the old revivals – Cane Ridge, Wales, the Scottish Hebrides, Azusa Street, and so many other places. Each story is a a precious pearl in the history of God’s movement in the earth – a continuing testimony of the wave of kingdom power that continues its course throughout the ages ultimately pointing us to the final outpouring of the Spirit that will precede the Lord’s return (Acts 2:17-21). Read More

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In the last two weeks there have been two heroes whom I’ve known who passed from this life into glory – Steve Hill, the evangelist who led the Brownsville Revival and Brady Clark, a trusted friend and comrade. Steve fought a long and courageous fight against cancer and lost. A month ago Brady suffered multiple heart attacks, looked to be on the mend, but his organs simply could not recover from the incredible trauma and he also passed. I knew Brady much better than I knew Steve, but I knew neither of them as well as I would have liked. Each were heroes in their own right…One well known, one not as much. A hero is by definition: ‘One who is admired for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.’ Those who live godly in this present wicked age are heroic in their faith and admirable for their courage. Any who finish their course faithfully are heroes in my book. Both of these men exemplify the definition of a hero. And both left a wake of influence that will continue to compel people into the the kingdom for decades. Read More

crucibleWaiting is a crucible. Almost nothing causes your flesh to burn like waiting on the Lord. Bob Sorge recently tweeted, “There is no hotter flame than waiting on God. That’s why God calls you to wait—He’s refining you.” Bob knows what He’s talking about, having walked a path of waiting few of us have ever experienced.

When we understand that God uses waiting as a means to purify our hearts it gives us courage to persevere, though we may wait long. We know that the outcome of the waiting is ultimately for our good and blessing, though the pain of the waiting can be excruciating.

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Waiting on the LordWhen the bible talks about waiting on the Lord, what exactly is it talking about? Waiting is quieting yourself in stillness with hopeful expectation of the Lord’s leadership and action in your life. It’s ceasing for your own ways to allow the Lord to accomplish His will through your life in His way. Waiting is not idleness nor laziness. It’s not in opposition to work. It is actively choosing to pause, maybe for an extended period of time, in order to allow the Lord to show Himself strong on your behalf.

Waiting and Hoping are synonymous. Consider Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.” When we wait on the Lord we position ourselves in hopeful expectation of His activity in our lives.

There are multiple components to waiting on the Lord. Here are a few that helped give me clarity as to what waiting on the Lord is really about. Read More

Better Be Prompt! One of the chief story lines of Scripture is the struggle between the arm of the flesh and the arm of the Lord. The arm of the flesh speaks of the strength of man while the arm of the Lord speaks of the strength of God. The struggle between the two is a repetitive theme throughout the entire bible – humankind’s unwillingness to hear and obey God’s voice and God’s answer with power to show humanity his utter and complete need of God. Mankind tries to prove, albeit horribly ineffectively, how much he can establish without God, while God shows humanity that without Him we can do nothing.

It’s ultimately rebellion in the heart of man that causes him to attempt to assert himself against God. Fallen humanity loves to try to prove that he doesn’t need God, that he can take care of himself and accomplish all he wants without God.

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