LUKE 6:22 - Berean Lamp Memory Verse - (Oct 31 - Nov 7)
The Berean Lamp Memory Verse for this week is:
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man” (Luke 6:22).
SERIES INTRO: This is the 7th part in a new series looking at the concept of Grace. What is it? Grace in Christian theology is “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings” (Google dictionary). Grace is a hard word for us to understand. However, no word in the Bible is perhaps more important for us to understand. It is the foundation that underpins our understanding of how Salvation works and how God interacts with Believers. Let's spend some time trying to understand God's wonderful grace.
THIS WEEK: On the topic of Grace in the Christian life (the second definition - the blessings, encouragement, support, strength, comfort, joy, etc. that God gives Believers in their walk). We think they are superior in their standing before God because of the grace they have been given to do "great" things for God. After all, as Christians, we grow up aspiring to be like "The Giants of the Faith" - famous and well-known Christians (for better or for worse) like Augustine, Spurgeon, Luther, or ten Boom, to name a few - people who we think did mighty works for the church, performed amazing miracles, put God's stamp on the world through their efforts, etc. In the shadow of these men and women, many Believers fret that they just aren't measuring up to their full potential. This is assuredly true for all of us redeemed sinners (indeed, that is the meaning of sin - "missing the mark!"), but we need to be careful that we are not worshiping false idols. The important thing to know is that if you belong to Jesus, God is working through you in your life for His glory and for your future inheritance. Scripture is clear about that. You may not fully understand how this is so now and that is okay. You may not realize that the mighty labor God has given you is (or will be) through your relationship with your mother, father, brother, sister, friends or coworkers. Sometimes, we overlook what is (or will be) right in front of us, or feel the work we have been given is insignificant or beneath our potential. Similarly, some parents feel this way about raising their children - after all, what passionate Christian doesn't think more highly of the mission field in South Asia where people are "saving souls" in contrast to their own situation, taking care of a screaming infant's dirty diaper.
In Scripture, there is a counter-argument to the assertion that the "Great" men of the faith are more blessed than the anonymous who "wasted" their potential - a balance point to the idea that it is the gifted and accomplished Christians (from a human perspective) who are filled with grace to overflowing in their labors and trials. Jesus makes the case that it is not the famous or known people who are blessed, but those ground out of existence in the dirt of the world that are truly blessed - those who are faithful, yet ignoble and unknown - those who remain anonymous and unappreciated in their adherence to the Word of God and their faith in Him. Indeed, "blessed," He told His Disciples are those who have not even seen Him! He said this to the mighty Apostles who spoke and ate with Him and did amazing works in His name - people we aspire to be only a fraction of! This is the opposite of what we all think, which is, "How blessed is the man who walked with Jesus in Israel and heard His voice and touched His cloak!" In a similar way, we don't think that the mourning are those who are blessed, do we? We don't think Job was blessed, or Isaiah who wound up sawed in half! But Scripture says they were. Let's look at some Scriptures this week that show it is in the lives of the weak, tired, worn down, crippled, and oppressed that God's blessing resides (a future reward, inheritance, and crown). This is all said in the broader picture that the blessed in this life are not those who are rich or poor, mighty or weak, accomplished or unknown, but as Jesus said, "blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it" (Luke 11:28), regardless of their situation. Adhere to the Word of God and observe it in faith and you are blessed.
May we praise our God for a Savior like Jesus, Who knows the difficulties we go through in this life, and has given us mighty spiritual labors, even (and especially) in the dull, "trivial," and ugly things of this mortal life! Even so, Amen.
Other verses to consider:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matthew 5:11).
“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh” (Luke 6:21).
“As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful” (James 5:10-11).
“But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled” (1 Peter 3:14).
“If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Peter 4:14).
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
When people pointed to all sorts of things as signs of blessings (in this case, Mary giving birth to Jesus), Jesus set the record straight: “But He said, ‘On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it’” (Luke 11:28).