Shalom

How blessed are those who make peace! For they will be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9 CJB

I am a middle child. I have three older sisters and two younger. My oldest sister, Cindy, is nine years older than me, while my youngest sister, Melanie, is nine years younger.

The term most often applied to middle children is peacemakers. That was my role as a child in our loud and sometimes chaotic family. I hated conflict and strove to make peace.

What is a peacemaker?

Google defines it as : “A person who brings about peace, especially by reconciling adversaries.” But, the Hebrew language doesn’t use the word peacemaker, but the phrase “those who make peace.”

In English the word peace means, “freedom from disturbance; tranquility.”

Perhaps the best known Hebrew word for most Christians is shalom. Although people use it as a greeting, most people will say shalom means “peace.” But, if you know me, or have read my blog for any amount of time, you might predict I will tell you there is more to the meaning of the word shalom than just peace. 🙂

Shalom means more than “freedom from disturbance” or absence of strife. Strong’s Concordance, as well as the Hebrew defines shalom as:

Completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

https://biblehub.com/hebrew/7965.htm

Completeness means, Having no deficiency; perfect. Finished; ended; concluded; as, the edifice is complete.https://av1611.com/kjbp/kjv-dictionary/complete.html

Soundness is, “The ability to withstand force or stress without being distorted, dislodged, or damaged.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/soundness

The Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9:6 tells us Jesus is the Prince of Shalom or Peace. However, Jesus never promised us a world without disturbance or strife. Actually, quite the opposite.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 ESV

They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

John 12:53 ESV

But, Jesus did promise to make us complete. He promised to give us a sound mind and told us He would never leave us or forsake us.

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Colossians 2:9-10 NKJV

Jesus said, “O the Blessedness of those who make peace…” So, how do we carry out completeness and soundness?

How can we bring people to a place of completion while helping them withstand the battles around them? Prayer, discipleship, helping them discover their identity in Christ, and simply walking this Christian life beside them.

Again, taking in all the Beatitudes we have covered up until now, we find it begins with our heart, humility, and compassion.

In Exodus 34, God describes Himself to Moses:

“YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH!!! Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai] is God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth; showing grace to the thousandth generation, forgiving offenses, crimes and sins; 

Exodus 34:6 CJB

God described Himself as merciful first. Jesus used this exact Hebrew word in the Beatitude: How blessed are those who show mercy! For they will be shown mercy.

Throughout these Beatitudes, Jesus is telling us to be like Him and the Father.

This brings us to the promise of this verse: For they will be called the sons of God. We are most like the Son of God when we are a peaceful, encouraging, and loving presence in people’s lives.

We are most like the Son of God when we are a peaceful, encouraging, and loving presence in people’s lives.

My twins were born at twenty-seven weeks, weighing two pounds and unable to breathe without a ventilator. Women from my church provided me with rides to the hospital, since the doctor had not cleared me to drive. I remember one particular day clearly. While sitting next to their isolettes, I watched Alexandria’s tiny body struggle to breathe–her lungs collapsed. She was already on a ventilator, but the neonatal staff could not keep her lungs inflated. She was so weak and gray-looking from the lack of oxygen circulating in her fragile body.

My driver, who I met for the first time that day, was eight months pregnant, and had three other children at home. I knew she needed to go, but I could not leave Alexandria. I told her to leave me there, but she would not go. She stayed with me until my baby girl was stable. My husband was at our restaurant and since this sister did not want me to be alone at home, she took me there. I don’t see her anymore but will always remember this woman’s kindness and the care she and the other women who took me back and forth to the hospital gave me for six weeks.

They were Jesus to me during my time of need.

Ask the Lord how you can give peace to someone this week.

Here are links to the other Beatitudes in this series…

The Poor in Spirit

Blessed are those who mourn

Blessed are those who are Meek

Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Blessed are those who show Mercy

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

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The Pure in Heart Sees God Everywhere

How blessed are the pure in heart! For they will see God.

Matthew 5:8 CJB

I read a great quote on the Beatitudes by Skip Moen, PhD. He says, “[A Beatitude] is not a “blessing” that implies one party granting a favor to another party. A Beatitude is really a macarism, an announcement of an existing state, a status of happiness. https://skipmoen.com/2018/02/character-1/

Today, we will explore the sixth Beatitude of Matthew 5. As said above, these are not blessings over you or me, but a state of happiness when understanding that we are nothing more than beggars in need of the Lord, when we mourn over our sin when we look inward to see what keeps us from God when we are desperate to be righteous like Jesus, and when we are merciful and compassionate to others.

However, this is not the happiness the world teaches, but the happiness of a child of the Father.

I remember reading an article about the “sinfulness” of the seven deadly sins. The majority of the people polled did not regard pride as a sin. But yet, according to the Bible, God hates pride.

We cannot look at the Bible through the lens of the world or even with our American knowledge. We must look at it through the eyes of our Father. As we dig a little deeper while depending on the help of the Holy Spirit we will understand as much as He allows.

In my research of this Beatitude, the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels puts it this way:

O the gladness of the pure in heart! For they will behold God.

Matthew 5:8

I don’t know about you, but I struggle daily to have a pure heart. If it were pure, I wouldn’t have to seek forgiveness when I have the wrong attitude, or when I feel envy, jealousy, or anger.

The word Jesus would have used is the Hebrew word tahor, which means clean. This word has the connotation of cleansing. To be clean, someone must do the cleaning.

We can see this in John 15 as well.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 

John 15:1-2 ESV

In John 15:2, we see the word prunes. This is the Greek word kathairó, meaning clean or cleansed–the same Greek word used for pure in this Beatitude. God is the gardener who prunes the Vine of the extra weight of dead or overgrown branches (us).

A pure heart is a pruned heart. It is a heart that has allowed God to make it clean. No heart becomes clean on its own; we have a part in the process of cleansing as well.

A pure heart is a pruned heart. It is a heart that has allowed God to make it clean. No heart becomes clean on its own; we have a part in the process of cleansing as well. The Bible tells us:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

What is our part in the process of having a clean heart? We must surrender it to God so He can prune it. Google’s dictionary describes pruning as, “Trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth.

How does our heart become dead and overgrown?

By the cares of this world, hurts, wounds, and the desires of our flesh. The Lord prunes us because He loves us–He wants our hearts to be fruitful and our lives to look like Jesus as we walk with Him.

So what is the promise to those willing to have their hearts pruned?

To see or behold God. This is not future tense.

This is now.

The pure in heart will see God EVERYWHERE. They will see Him at work around us. They will not have to wait until Heaven, they will see Him moving here on earth.

Think about that. Why do some see God at work around them, and others don’t? Why do some ask where is God? Could it be related to the condition of our heart?

I was in a meeting about the Church and the current culture of disunity and division. At the end of the meeting someone asked,

Do we have a clear picture of what a healthy follower of Jesus looks like?

The answer was so clear to me…Yes!

The healthy follower of Jesus is the one who is in a state of happiness because they are living as Jesus told us to within the Beatitudes.

Remember, Jesus blesses you because He loves you, but you are a Blessed one because you do what He says.

Mercy!

How blessed are those who show mercy! For they will be shown mercy.

Matthew 5:7 CJB

One of my mom’s favorite expressions of surprise is “Mercy!” (Imagine a Southern accent with that) 🙂

My youngest son, Michael loved to imitate her by repeating it when she visited. My mom always got a kick out of it. Even though my mom is no longer able to drive up to see us–and for now is living in South Texas–Michael will occasionally go around the house saying, “Mercy” like her.

Today we are going to discuss the next Beatitude on mercy.

In other posts in this series, I have reminded you that each of the Beatitudes build on the first one. The fifth Beatitude comes with the promise: you get what you give.

For us, a place of mercy comes only after knowing we are beggars in total dependence on God (see Blessed are the Poor in Spirit), mourning over our sin (see Joy Comes in the Mourning), being meek in the sense that we look into our hearts for areas of uncleanness (see O the Blessedness of the Meek), and our desperation for God’s righteousness (see Do You Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?).

Mercy is not getting what we deserve.

So, what do we deserve?

Death! We certainly don’t deserve eternal life, forgiveness, or the ability to repent. But, eternal life is the gift of God through His grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.

However, in Hebrews we see that when we approach the throne of God we receive mercy like a gift.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

Mercy is both a noun and a verb. In the Hebrew language, the noun is  “Ra-cha-min.” The verb form or the act of having mercy comes from the root word, “re-chem” meaning womb. https://hebrew.jerusalemprayerteam.org/mercy-compassion-womb/

Not only is it a feminine organ, but life begins and grows in the womb. The bond and compassion a mother has for child is the very definition of mercy.

I couldn’t help but take this another way as well.

Abortion is the antithesis of mercy–tearing a baby from its God-given shelter is not merciful.

I am pro-life and I will not apologize for that. Life starts at conception and ends when God decides. All life is precious to God–the life of the unborn and born, the disabled–physical, mental or otherwise, the foster child, homeless, rich, poor, abused, and elderly–Their. Life. Matters. God created them in His image and their life should not end until God deems it.

Our mercy should extend to any person or animal that is in need of our care. Someday it might be us needing care. We get what we give.

Jesus also told us He will show mercy to the merciful.

Jesus told us He will show mercy to the merciful.

If you are anything like me, you need mercy everyday. Fortunately, God is ready and willing to give us mercy. But, we must receive it. Will you take it? Taking this gift has one reqirement…to give it away.

I give mercy when I forgive someone, when I overlook a bad mood, or a mistake. Mercy can look like buying a coffee or lunch for someone who isn’t very nice to you.

A little over a year ago, a woman we’ve known came over for instruction to take care of my goats and ducks while we were out of town the following week.

It had rained for over a week and our property was muddy. The goats, ducks and chickens didn’t want to leave the barn, either. Because of the mud, my husband was unable to get his tractor into the barn to clean it up. As a result, the goats’ white coats and legs were getting dirty and the barn was ripe.

Instead of lying on the raised pallets my husband gave them, the goats sat in the mud…

Everything seemed okay until she left and I started getting texts.

Apparently, our friend didn’t think much about our barn or animals so she complained to her friend by texting her on the drive home. However she didn’t stop there. She included how much she disliked my husband and our strange Amish religion (we are not Amish, obviously).

How did I know she sent her friend these texts?

She texted me before she came over, so instead of sending her messages to this friend she mistakenly sent them all to me.

After the first two, I stopped looking at them. They were hurtful and mean.

My husband on the other hand, saw all of them. See, she was driving while recording and sending each message and didn’t see my response to the first one which was: “I don’t think these messages are for me!”

Finally, after about ten or eleven messages (she must have gotten home) she realized the messages went to my phone and tried to explain.

She didn’t apologize except to say she was very particular about her animals, but she really did like me and thought I was a saint for putting up with my husband.

Yep, not really an apology. My husband is a good man and a hard worker who takes care of our property by himself.

After we told her we wouldn’t need her to take care of our animals, I think she realized we were upset.

Did I mention I also tutored her son twice a week?

We talked it out a bit more when she came by to drop him off a few weeks later. She is very frank, blunt, and a little outspoken, as well as an atheist.

I felt the Lord tell me to put this situation behind me. I needed to be merciful.

Amazingly enough, the Lord healed my heart and gave me the ability to forgive her. She still comes over–except we don’t let her in our barn–and I still tutor her son.

I pray for her to know Jesus and that she will let Him change her heart.

God taught me that I am no better than this woman at times. I can easily complain about someone who does things differently than I do or who practices their Christianity in a way that seems legalistic or strange to me.

I need mercy when I treat others badly, too. He is Good!

How blessed are those who show mercy! For they will be shown mercy.

Matthew 5:7
Do you Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?

Do you Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6

We are continuing our series in the Beatitudes. Today, we will examine the fourth Beatitude found in Matthew 5:6. You can go back and read the last three posts if you haven’t already.

We didn’t have much growing up. My father had a stroke that paralyzed him on his right side. With a fairly young family, he could now, no longer work. My mom had five girls to care for at that time, so it was difficult for her to work outside the home.

We had a farm, so we helped plant, water, and weed our large garden and played outside all day in the nice weather.

By the time mom made dinner, we were all ready to eat. We always seemed to have enough food, though. My dad would never take seconds until he was sure the rest of us were full. I’m sure there were days when he went to bed a bit hungry for our sake.

The hunger mentioned in Matthew 5:6 is not this kind of hunger, but means a poor person who works to fend off starvation. The Hebrew word for this kind of hunger is reab and it means famine, dearth (the scarcity of something), and hunger.

I can only hope I seek out God like a person starving for Him. I believe many who are persecuted in their countries probably could teach us about that…but I’m not sure that is the norm here in the U.S.

The word thirst, in Hebrew, is an interesting word. It, as well as the word for righteousness, begin with the Hebrew letter tsade.

צ

It has the sound of the letters Ts, like the end of the word pots. The ancient Hebrew letter looked like this:

In the Hebrew language, the letters have names as you can see, and the names have meanings. So, the meaning of the word tsade is “to hunt, catch, or capture.” However, the letter in the ancient Hebrew, looks like a man bent in a position as a servant with his hands lifted up to the Lord in humility. https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Aleph-Bet/Tsade/tsade.html

Another scholar describes the tsade as a servant carrying a burden and suggests this letter is most like Christ as we see Him in the scriptures. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG7RIw9IJsc

See how this and all the Beatitudes comes back to Christ-likeness?

Many years ago, my church had a Bible study which suggested we practice brokenness. I asked the Lord how I could practice something I wasn’t feeling. He spoke to my heart and said, “Get on your knees.” Since that day, I prayed on my knees alone in my room.

How would you practice brokenness?

The word for thirst consist of the letter tsade and the letter mem, meaning water. So, this kind of thirst means to hunt for water, in the pictorial Hebrew.

Within this Beatitude, we have a picture of a person who is desperate for food and water, not just hungry and thirsty. Remember I told you there is a reason the Beatitudes begin with “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”

Within this Beatitude, we have a picture of a person who is desperate for food and water, not just hungry and thirsty. #ThisSideofHeaven #Beatitudes #HungerandThirst

Now, for the word righteousness. This was where I started my research, actually.

It is the word, tsedeq. As I said above, it begins with the same Hebrew letter as thirst. And, just like that word, the first letter of tsedeq means, “to hunt, catch, or capture.”

Tsedeq means righteous, but can also mean justice.

We find this word also used in many Old Testament verses. The bold word is tsedeq.

Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 20:16

You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:36

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.

Psalm 7:17

So, tsedeq has the idea that desperate people like those who are starving or dying of thirst will hunt for God’s righteousness or justice as a person would for food and water.

Hebrew4Christians explains it like this: “Hungering and thirsting for righteousness means relying on God alone to meet our need.” https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Brit_Chadashah/Beatitudes/beatitudes.html

But, unlike many who are starving for food and water in this world, the promise from God for those who are truly seeking Him is “They will be satisfied.”

God wants us to seek Him like our lives depend on it…because they do. We need Him more than He needs us.

But, He. Does. Want. Us. The Creator of all things wants to have a relationship with you and me. The Beatitudes tell us how to do that.

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By the way, you may wonder where I get Hebrew words when the Gospel of Matthew was written in Greek. Well, the Gospels were first written in Hebrew. After many years, these manuscripts have finally been published, so that you can now purchase the New Testament Gospels written in Hebrew on one page with the English translation on the page facing it. It’s pretty cool, but I like that sort of thing.

I realize I have changed the days I am publishing my blog posts. I am going to stay with Wednesdays since another blog I contribute to (called VineWords, Devotions and More at http://www.VineWords.net) has my posts coming out on Thursdays, so I don’t want both coming out on the same day of the week. Thank you!