I’m working on a devotional series on the Beatitudes. It will be an 8-post project on Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount, specifically addressing The Beatitudes. Each devotion will examine what Jesus said- how what He said was countercultural then and now, and how living in the way He prescribes will produce real, eternal blessing. The devotions will be short-under 500 words, intended for encouragement over a cup of your morning coffee. The purpose of this project is to connect us on earth more with the heavenly purpose that God has designed for us through Christ. I hope and pray that you will be encouraged with me in your daily walk.
Here’s a little sneak peak…
Up Close With Jesus
“And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. Seeing the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and when He sat down, His disciples came to Him.” Matthew 4:25-5:1
From as long as I can remember I have always been among the crowds. I went to an overcrowded high school of 3,000, and there were 800 students in my graduating class. In college, several friends and I traveled to Shelby Farms for Passion One Day in a beat up Winnebago that blew a tire on I-20 just north of Atlanta. We mixed in with about 30,000 other college students on that grassy, green field for the two-day festival. After college, I worked at a multi-site mega church one summer whose interns had interns. I think I was an intern of an intern from what I remember. Living among the crowds was a great way to hide, though. Because without the crowds I would then be seen.
Spiritual crowdedness works the same way. If I just fill up my life- my time, my mind, my music player, my calendar- with enough stuff then I cannot be seen and I cannot see. The activity and noise brings a strange comfort to the dry soul.
Where are you with God right now? Are you in the nosebleed section or are you sitting on the front row of your faith? Because sometimes walking with God feels hard. The disciples were on the front row with Jesus, not because of their inherent worthiness, but because of their neediness. Jesus performed wonders, healing the afflicted and teaching in the synagogues, and the crowds followed him. From Judea and beyond they followed Him, and He sat down. It was the proper way for a rabbi to sit while he taught in Jewish culture in that day. Jesus sat before the crowds, and his disciples “came to Him.” They were his followers, the ones who were called by Jesus who left all they knew to follow Him. They were called to be close to Jesus. This same group of unlikely men would eventually become the ones who would preach the gospel to the ends of the earth, some even sacrificing their own lives to do so. The sermon Jesus was about to teach on the Mount was for them. The sermon is also for us.
If we sit in the nosebleed section at a “safe” distance from God we may not get called upon to do the hard stuff like sacrificing comfort, “control,” or our personal well-being. It is easy to hide in the crowds. But the thing about God’s children is that He knows those who are His, and He will leave the 99 sheep to go after the lost one, so He will eventually come and bring that one back into the fold, close to Him on the front row.
The disciples came to Jesus. I want to be like them- desiring communion with God at His feet, eager to receive His teaching and presence. I don’t want to run into the crowds, listening to God at a safe distance. I want to know Him. Knowing Him produces blessing, because when we know Jesus, we become more like Him, and in becoming more like Him we find the blessing that He preached about on that dusty Mount some 2,000+ years ago.
Journey with me as we discover what it means to be blessed by God. I believe that The Beatitudes will challenge your heart and encourage your soul as you get out from among the crowds and “come near” to Jesus.