Is It Biblical to Say, “Bloom Where You’re Planted?”

Grace For The Journey


27Sept When I was pastoring a church in Iowa, there was a meteorologist at a local television station who always wore a rose on his lapel as he gave the weather report.  I heard him say on time that people had asked him why he did that.  He said that his mother always encouraged her children to “bloom where you are planted.”   When my wife, Kay, and I heard him say that she said, “I have never found that that in the Bible.”  And she was right.

It sounds biblical, doesn’t it?  The Bible is replete with agrarian references and illustrations, and there’s something about the wisdom of the phrase the makes it sound like it fell straight from the lips of Solomon or Jesus.

The problem, of course, is that there is no such phrase in your Bible.  Pull out your concordance, open your Bible-search program, scour the Proverbs and the Gospels – you won’t find “bloom where you’re planted.”  The law and prophets won’t help you; neither will Paul, Peter, James, or Jude.  The phrase is simply not there.

Many colloquial phrases get tossed around that are often mistaken as biblical statements.  “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is one with which you might be familiar. It’s not in the Bible.  The famed “Footprints” poem isn’t either. How about “Cleanliness is next to godliness”?  Nope.  “God moves in mysterious ways”?  He does, but that sentence is nowhere in Scripture.

As we grow in our walk with Christ, we should desire to know our Bibles so well that we’re able to spot biblical-sounding statements that aren’t in the Bible.  This is a matter of basic discernment and the responsibility of every Christian.

But our task doesn’t stop here.

In the case of “bloom where you are planted,”

It’s not enough to object, “That’s not in the Bible!”

We should bring the whole teaching of Scripture

To bear not only on the words of a phrase,

But also on its meaning.

This practice honors Paul’s admonition, “Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).  In other words, ask what’s true about a statement – and what’s false.

So, what does “bloom where you’re planted” mean?  While I can’t speak for all believers who use it, the likeliest meaning is, “Be content where God has placed you in life and make the most of your opportunity to speak, serve, and live for His glory.”  If that’s what we mean, then we’re close to capturing a biblical principle.

Theologically, the doctrine of creation teaches us that God has designed and outfitted His creatures with particular skills, interests, and abilities, and He has sovereignly placed them in their circumstances to exercise dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26-31; Acts 17:26).

Martin Luther and John Calvin rediscovered this biblical doctrine and taught Christians to fulfill their individual callings, whether serving society as a banker, farmer, or homemaker.  Giving careful attention to your calling will produce valuable goods for the community and, in the case of parents, train the next generation.  Careful attention to fulfilling your calling will also help keep you out of trouble. Calvin wrote:

“The Lord bids each one of us in all life’s actions to look to his calling.  For he knows with what great restlessness human nature flames, with what fickleness is borne hither and thither, how its ambition longs to embrace various things at once.  Therefore, lest through our stupidity and rashness everything be turned topsy-turvy, he has appointed duties for every man in his particular way of life.  And that no one may thoughtlessly transgress his limits, he has named the various kinds of living ‘callings.’  Therefore, each individual has his own kind of living assigned to him by the Lord as a sort of sentry post so he may not heedlessly wander about throughout life.”

In other words, constantly daydreaming about a different life, a better line of work, or a new community will lead to instability and lack of productivity.

More importantly, it appears that Paul might have approved the parental counsel I received as a young man. In 1 Corinthians 7:17, the Bible tells those anxious over getting married: “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. . . . In whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.”

The Bible doesn’t make this an absolute rule, for he tells the slave to be content with his status in life but to seek freedom if possible (1 Corinthians 7:22).  Those married must remain so, but the unmarried are free to either marry or stay single (1 Corinthians 7:9, 27-28).

Nevertheless, Paul recognized wisdom in burrowing yourself into your God-given calling and seeking contentment and productivity there – rather than constantly looking around and pining for something else (cf. Proverbs 17:24).  Nor does genuine repentance necessarily require a change in one’s work (Luke 3:10-14).  But it might – and that’s where we come to a deficiency in the saying, “Bloom where you are planted.”

The problem isn’t so much in what the phrase says, but what it doesn’t say.  Without the larger biblical context, the statement “Bloom where you’re planted” could imply that remaining in your calling is all you need to worry about in life.

But this approach wouldn’t account for stations that are overtly sinful and from which a person must “uproot” if they know Christ.  Christians cannot abide in Christ and work in the pornography or abortion industry.  In such cases, true repentance would lead to “planting” elsewhere.

Yet we can’t fault a proverbial saying for being proverbial.  Solomon’s catchy couplets don’t always give us the whole picture, but we don’t chide him.

Diligence, most of the time, leads to abundance (Proverbs 12:27; 13:4; 21:5) – but not when famines ravage the land.

Generally speaking, a slack hand causes poverty (Proverbs 10:4) – but it’s possible for a sluggard to inherit a large estate.

Whoever keeps his tongue keeps himself out of trouble (Proverbs 21:23) – unless unsolicited trouble finds him.

In other words, a good proverb doesn’t need to say everything in order to be helpful or true.  For Christians, sayings like “Bloom where you are planted” can be insightful and encouraging since we understand them within a biblical framework.  That’s the blessing of biblical discernment all Christians can enjoy, no matter where we’re planted.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



Christian Virtue: How Should I Respond to The Beatitudes, Concluding Thoughts, Part 18

Grace For The Journey


3Sept  To conclude my series of blogs on the Beatitudes of Matthew 5, I would like to write a few things about how we are to respond to the teaching Jesus gave on that hill in Galilee.

What can we learn

And how should we respond

To these virtues Jesus

Has laid before us?

First, recognize the Beatitudes are about the condition of our hearts.  Individually and together, these virtues describe the condition of the heart of the person who is favored by and approved by God.  The heart describes the seat of our emotions, contains the values we hold dear, and drive our actions and attitudes toward God and others.  The Beatitudes are about the kind of heart a person has whom God has blessed with salvation.

Second, recognize that the Beatitudes are inter-related and they rise or fall together.  That is why each builds upon the previous; each is a step toward Christlikeness.  Seeing our spiritual poverty, understand it is a reason for mourning, for being humble and for seeking to find righteousness, is the precursor, the first steps to responding properly to dealing with others and the world.  You can’t try to develop one particular virtue over another.  They all go together to build up the whole man or woman of faith toward Christlikeness.

Third, the Beatitudes are the key to the rest of the principles taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  The behaviors demanded by the Bible can be faked, but not for long.  The key to living in light of Jesus’ teaching in this sermon is the heart attitude that is brought about by the Beatitudes.  That’s why Jesus begins with these eight virtues.

They are the key to living the Christian life

Because the Christian life must be undergirded

By a heart aligned with these virtues.

The Christian character we desire that Jesus describes in verses 13-16 (“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its flavor. How shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do they light a lamp and put it under the basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”) flow naturally out of the virtues He describes as foundational in verses 1-12.

Salt and light are how Jesus describes His disciples.  Salt and light describe the impact that Christians are to have on the environment in which God has placed each of us.  Salt flavors and preserves, light dispels darkness.  The result is Christian fruitfulness which are the works of God in us that unbelievers see in us which glorify God in heaven.  This work is then described by Jesus in the rest of the Sermon, from Matthew 5:17 through 7:29.  But. . .

It must begin with the Beatitudes.

The spiritual life, health, and

The fruit-bearing that demonstrates

We are truly changed

Flow from character

And a Christ-like character

Is built on the foundation

Of the eight Beatitudes

Which the Holy Spirit

Produces in our lives.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Christian Virtue: Persecuted for the Right Reasons – How Do I Rejoice In Persecution? Part 17

Grace For The Journey


3Sept  I want to close out this long running discussion on the eighth Beatitude with why we rejoice when we are persecuted for the proper reasons.

First, it is a sign that we are Christian.  Jesus says at the end of Matthew 7, verse 12b that we are to rejoice because the world persecuted the prophets before us.  That means we are on the same side as the prophets who lived before us and, in essence, are on the side of God who sent the prophets.  Persecution is a badge of honor placing you in the company of the prophets who were approved and blessed by God.

Second, we rejoice when we are persecuted because an eternal reward is promised.  In verse 12a Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward i great in heaven…”  The reward promised to the persecuted for Christ is “great,” Jesus says.  The original Greek word translated as “great” in our English Bible is a word that describes “the upper range or scale of extent.”  Today “great” is a term used to described almost anything from a movie, to a meal, to a basketball score.  But the word Matthew chose to convey the magnificent extent of reward is the same word Luke used in Luke 7 to describe the love the unnamed woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and dried them with her hair had for Him.  We rejoice in persecution because we will receive the full extent of His love and grace.

Third, we rejoice in the privilege we have been given to be counted as a friend of Jesus and an adopted child of God. The Bible says this in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  There is no amount of suffering in this world that can compare to the eternal joy of our lives with Christ in God’s eternal kingdom that awaits us.

The persecution of the world against

The children of God will come.

But God ordains just what, when, how,

And how long that persecution

Will be for each of us.

Furthermore, He has given us His Spirit to be with us in and through the persecution so that we can stand.  The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, which words used by God to encourage the believers in Corinth through their trials, and they are the words we need to hear and hold as well.  Those verses says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Be glad and rejoice in the persecution that you face because . . .

  • It means you are honoring Christ by living a life that is seen as righteous by an unrighteous world.
  • It means that you are working out your salvation with fear and trembling which the Bible encourages us to do in Philippians 2.

This “working out” is allowing the Holy Spirit to conform our lives and actions to the image of Christ.  The “fear and trembling”’ is the awe, respect, and amazement at the power and glory of God that causes us to truly work hard at putting off our old self and putting on the new self we have in Christ Jesus so we can live for Him and be His witnesses.  And when you do that, the world will see Christ in you, and you will be persecuted.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Christian Virtue: Persecuted For All The Right Reasons, What It Means If Your Are Not Being Persecuted? Part 16

Grace For The Journey


3Sept  In yesterday’s post, I wrote that living a life in accordance with biblical principles; living righteously, even when done quietly will result in persecution by those in the world opposed to God and Christ.  There are two humanities:

Those who are against God


Those who are His children.

Those in the world have no common ground with those redeemed out of the world’s ways, and the result of these two humanities who are at odds is, Jesus tells us, persecution.  Today I want to look at the issue of what it means if you’re not being persecuted and why persecution for the right reasons is a blessing.

In this tolerant world, the only thing that is not tolerated is an exclusive truth claim.  To say there is one way or one truth is to commit the worst offense in society today.  But this is exactly what Christians are called to believe, to proclaim, and to defend.  When you do, you will be persecuted.  You will lose friends; you will be pressured to renounce your belief, you may lose your job, or you might be ostracized by your family.  This is the type of persecution that will come when you hold fast to the biblical truths of orthodox Christianity.

But what if you’re not being persecuted, not even a little?  What does that mean?  This may be hard to hear, but if you aren’t being persecuted in some way for your belief in Christ, it means you have made peace with the world.  You have found a way to “fit in”  so that the world sees you as one of its own.  Perhaps you talk like the world, dress like the world, or do things people of the world do at work or in leisure.  You might be living in such a way that the world thinks you are like them – That is not good news.

You won’t be persecuted

If you seem to have

The same views, values, and priorities

As the world, even if

You don’t completely

Agree with the world.

I’m not saying you have to go out and try to cause trouble, but if Jesus, Paul, and Peter tell us clearly that Christians will be persecuted and it is not happening to you, there is some soul searching that needs to be done.  You need to examine your life and see if there is something you’re doing that you shouldn’t be doing or something you’re saying that you shouldn’t be saying.  In other words, you need to ask yourself, “What needs to change?”

Here are some areas in your life you may want to examine and some questions you might ask yourself.

  • Do people know you are a follower of Christ?
  • Do you mention your love for the Lord, church attendance, your fellowship group, or that you attend a Bible study?
  • Do you control your words and try to avoid “hot-button issue” in your conservations?
  • Are your leisure activities wholesome?
  • When listening to a friend’s troubles do you offer to pray?
  • Have you explained why you believe Jesus Christ is the answer to people’s loneliness, quest for meaning, or the answer to why we are here?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself if you wonder why you aren’t being persecuted for righteousness sake or, for the sake of Jesus Christ.  Remember, Jesus said if you look and act like the world, the world will accept you as its own.  If that’s the case, then you need to consider these words from James 4:4: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

It is good to examine yourself in light of God’s Word.  Tomorrow, we will look at why and how to rejoice when persecution comes.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Christian Virtue: Persecuted For All The Right Reasons, Part 15

Grace For The Journey


3Sept  Yesterday, we found that the consequences of unrighteous decisions by a Christian cannot be properly called persecution.  When our actions harm others or ourselves and result in suffering, that’s not persecution.  That’s called the God ordained outcome of making poor choices.  When someone chooses to act or speak in self-righteous ways that are offensive or unacceptable to civil people, that too is not the persecution of which Jesus speaks.  Unrighteous and self-righteous behavior bring consequences, not persecution as Jesus defines persecution.  The Bible makes this clear when it says in 1 Peter 4:15, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.”

So, what then is the “right” kind of persecution?  What does Jesus mean by persecution, and how does that bring blessings from God?  That is the question we turn to now.  This eighth and last Beatitude is longer than the others because it has two components:   There is a blessing for those who are persecuted for living righteousness sake (verse 10) and for all who are persecuted for their professed faith in Jesus (verse 11).

Regarding these two verses, commentator J.C. Ryle says, “Jesus means those who are laughed at, mocked, despised, and ill-used because they endeavor to live as true Christians.”  Those who endeavor to live a Christ-like life in submission to Jesus; those who live in humility, purity, holiness, and godliness will attract the attention of others.   And since such a life stirs up the conviction of those “in the world” living for Christ will result in persecution.  A righteous life convicts and condemns the world for its lifestyle and priorities even without saying a word.  Actions are louder than words.

The world will respond with rage and persecution to those desiring to live righteously because, from the beginning, there have been two humanities.  There are the people of God, and there are the people who are at war with God (Genesis 3:15; Ephesians 2:3; James 4:4).  The clearest and earliest example is Cain and Abel.  Cain killed his brother Abel and the Bible tells us why in 1 John 3:12b, “And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.”

From this very first hatred induced murder to the strife today between an increasingly secular society and the Christian church, there has always been enmity between these two humanities.  But sometimes the worst persecution for the people of God has come from within the religious structure.  The prophet Jeremiah was ordered to be beaten and dropped in a cistern by the “chief officer in the house of the Lord” (Jeremiah 20:1). Jesus had the Pharisees and Scribes, Paul the Judaizers, and Luther and the other reformers the established Roman Church.
So, the persecution of those who desire to live a life honoring to Christ has always been a part of following Christ and while Jesus does not offer specifics about why He does tell us that we can count on it happening.

We should also note that the world’s hostility is unprovoked.  In John 15, Jesus tells His disciples why.  “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. …because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18–19).  If you stand for Christ, you do not share the values, lifestyles, and interests of the world.  Sometimes people react with indifference but, on occasion, you can expect outright persecution, Jesus says, “slander, lies, and false accusations” will come.

Righteousness in and of itself in our lives, even when we are totally neutral in our actions, will bring persecution.  The world hates Christ, and His people and the Bible teaches us that there is no middle ground.  In fact, there is no common ground between God’s people and the people in the world.  Paul writes; “What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:15).  Paul says there are only believers and unbelievers and there is no middle or common ground between them.

Let’s bring this forward to our time and place in 21st century America.  Our culture and society are utterly hostile to and desire to destroy biblical Christianity.  Maybe fifty years ago the culture was somewhat tolerant toward evangelical Christians but not so today.   The media, the government, public schools, and the courts are all hostile toward orthodox Christianity.  Our culture is relativistic and pluralistic and is now openly hostile toward Christians who are absolutist and believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father.  Do you think I overstate the case?  Try this: Write a letter to the editor of your local paper saying that monogamous heterosexual marriage is the only proper basis for sexual expression.  Any other expression of sexuality is a sin.  Include your address and phone number and see what happens.  I think you know!

To say there is one way and one truth is the height of intolerance in society today that will tolerate anything except an exclusive truth claim.  And Christianity is, at its core, an exclusive truth claim.  So. Christians can expect persecution.  Tomorrow we will address the question “what if I’m not being persecuted?” and we’ll discuss why we rejoice if we are persecuted.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Christian Virtue: Persecuted For All The Right Reasons, Part 14

Grace For The Journey


3Sept  Let’s look together at the eighth and final Beatitude from Jesus, found in Matthew 5, verses 10 and 11 where He says: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

This last “blessed are” or Beatitude, a word that means “favored by God” is as surprising as the others.  Those who are blessed by God are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.  They will inherit the kingdom of heaven.  This is not what we would normally expect.  Why would Jesus include this as a mark of the true believer?  After all, one who is humble, meek, merciful, hunger and thirst after righteousness, and is a peacemaker wouldn’t be or our list of the most likely to be persecuted.  Yet, Jesus says that persecution is as much a mark of the Christian as is purity of heart, being merciful, or being a peacemaker.  The Apostle Paul explains this to Timothy as the Holy Spirit led him to write in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

Most of us will not be particularly thrilled about this news.  “Revile” is a term that means “to be insulted.”  “Persecute” is a term that describes what happens when reviling turns to action.  Living a life that leads people to speak evil about us and to stir up hatred against us is not an appealing prospect, but Jesus says that when that happens to us, we are blessed and ought to rejoice and be glad in it.

How can we do this?

The only way we can is if

We have a different view of life.

When we understand and believe that this world and all that is in it is not our home, but instead, we look forward to the promise that we will see God and live forever in His kingdom, then we are strengthened to face what may come because our motivation is different.  If we are one of God’s children, our hearts will be set on eternity, not the things of this world.  We will seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, not the rewards of this world which are passing away.  We look to the things unseen which are more real than the things seen in this world.  It’s a completely different motivation that drives us, and because it is, we can stand in the face of persecution in this world that rejects God.

When our hearts are set on eternity, the persecution in this world we may face doesn’t much matter.  As Luther writes in his great hymn “A Mighty Fortress,” we can let “goods and kindred go” because “God’s truth abideth still; His kingdom is forever.”  So, with this perspective, let’s look more closely at Jesus’ words.

Why are the disciples of Christ persecuted?

Let’s begin by understanding what Jesus is not saying.  He is not saying that we are blessed by suffering for the sake of unrighteousness.  Christians can suffer for poor decisions, either before or after being saved that can result in self-inflicted suffering.  A sinful habit, a DUI arrest, an indictment or conviction of a felony crime, a damaged or lost relationship; all of the consequences of these or other poor decisions can continue to haunt a Christians for many years.  That is not the kind of suffering that Jesus is speaking about in verse 10.  There is no virtue in suffering as a murderer or as a gossip and meddler.  While Christians are forgiven, the consequences of poor decisions can continue to cause suffering.

Jesus is also not saying that blessings come to those who are persecuted for their self-righteousness.  Self-righteousness is when we act prideful, when we display a judgmental attitude toward others, or lack tact or sensitivity in what we say.  People will push back against those who act in like that and the suffering that results is not the suffering that is “blessed.”

In the same way as self-righteousness, non-righteousness in the form on non-conformity is also not blessed.  When people reject the societal standards of morality and civility and imagine they are taking a stand for individual expression or freedom to be who they want to be, they are acting in non-righteous ways.  When the eyebrows are raised against the way they speak, dress or act, it’s not persecution for righteousness, it’s persecution for being uncivil.  Jesus says that is not what God blesses.

What Jesus is saying is that the suffering that is “blessed” and “rewarded” is that which comes from and is endured for the sake of true righteousness.

So, if these are not the forms of “righteousness” that Jesus says God will bless, what are those things that are righteous that can cause the persecution that leads to God’s blessing?  We will save that answer for tomorrow.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Christian Virtue: How to be a Peacemaker, Part 13

Grace For The Journey


3Sept  Yesterday, we looked closely at Matthew 5:9, the seventh of the eight Beatitudes.  Jesus is preaching on the Mount Olives above the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus presented His next point by saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  Those who profess faith in Jesus and claim to follow Him will be dedicated to seeking peace with God in their own lives and strive to live in peace and harmony everywhere they go and with everyone whom they encounter.  A spirit of openness, selflessness, and sincerity are essential for one to be a peacemaker, and these essential qualities come from being poor in spirit, understanding our sin problem, being meek and surrendered to the Lord, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

The Bible-believing Christian understands that the righteousness and peace required here comes only through faith in Jesus Christ which justifies the sinner, yet as John Calvin said, “the faith the justifies is not alone,” meaning that saving faith always demonstrates itself in the way a true believer lives.  For the one who has been saved, poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, and desiring to please God by keeping His commands are at the core of who he/she is.  And these qualities are necessary to be merciful, pure in heart and a pacemaker.  So . . .

If you have been saved,

How then should

You go about

Being a peacemaker?

First, we are peacemakers when we promote agreement among others.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:10: “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”  We work to promote peace with others when we seek to be of one mind in agreement with the Scriptures.  “Scriptures” is an important word here.

We cannot be of one mind

And without division with others

Who do not agree

On who God is,

The nature of the human condition,

What Christ has done,

And how we are saved.

But for those who hold an orthodox understanding of the Christian faith, we are to be peacemakers by being of the same mind and judgment, so there is no significant division with other believers.  We should make every effort to find consensus through a Bible-driven understanding of God and ourselves.

Second, we are peacemakers when we “bear with one another.”  Consider what the Bible says in Ephesians 4:2–3: “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” In this verse, the Bible tells us that the earlier Beatitudes are foundational to being a peacemaker in this sense.  With humility, patience, and gentleness, we are to work for the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace.  For a marriage to work, small things must be overlooked. It’s the same in friendships, in the church, and in the broader social community. The peacemaker cultivates the ability to overlook slight faults and minor transgressions. The peacemaker is careful with his or her words thinking first of how a statement will sound in the hearing of those around them. Rather than saying things that cause conflict, the peacemaker will be careful in speech and desire understanding.

Third, the peacemaker pursues reconciliation.  Peacemaking is costly.

It cost the Father

The life of His Son

To pursue peace with us.

It cost Jesus

The comfort of His relationship

In the eternal Godhead

When He took the wrath

Of His Father upon Him

For us to have peace with God.

So, peacemaking is costly.  It is costly to love our enemies, to seek forgiveness when we are in the wrong, and to offer forgiveness when we are wronged.  Puritan writer Thomas Watson put it this way: “Christ suffered on the cross that He might cement Christians together with His blood. As He prayed for peace He paid for peace.”

Peacemaking is costly, but when we are peacemakers, doing all we can to promote agreement and harmony, to bear with others and to seek reconciliation, Jesus says we will be blessed.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Christian Virtue: What is a Peacemaker? Part 12

Grace For The Journey


3Sept  The Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12 show us a beautiful picture of how disciples of Jesus are to believe and behave.  In previous posts, we have seen that on the inside, a disciple of Jesus is humble, aware of his or her sinfulness and shortcomings, displays a meekness because they understand their true condition as a sinner, and hunger and thirst after righteous.  In other words . . .

They are the opposite of how most people

Act today who go about the business

Of being proud, self-serving,

Carnal, and self-indulgent.

Those who truly desire to follow Jesus

Do not act that way.

These internal qualities of humility, meekness, and a desire for righteousness have a great impact on how a Christian treats others.  A Christian should be kind, forgiving, able to empathize, sincere and “pure in heart.”

Jesus is not telling His followers that they

Must become like that

Before they can be disciples.

Instead, He is telling them that

These are qualities that are manifested

If they are His disciples.

Because these qualities

Are matters of the heart,

Only Jesus can remake us

To be the kind of people He describes.

Now, in this beatitude,  Jesus turns to the attribute of peacemaking – ““Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9).  This seventh beatitude, the desire to be a peacemaker is dependent, like all the Beatitudes, on those that have gone before. To be a peacemaker one must first be pure in heart, merciful, meek, righteous, mournful over sin, and poor in spirit.  R.T. France says this: “The absence of selfish ambition which has marked the earlier Beatitudes provides the only basis for the quality of peacemaking, which is especially pleasing to God.”

Since most conflicts result from some sort of “drama,” a spirit of honesty, selflessness, and sincerity are essential for one to be a peacemaker.  Being defensive, looking for some personal gain, or having mixed motives will never result in being the kind of peacemaker who pleases God.

Peacemakers are those who promote peace and harmony in public, at home, and in the community.  Peacemakers seek to reconcile people who are in disagreement and encourage harmony and unity wherever they go.  A peacemaker is the opposite of a troublemaker.  And those who are peacemakers shall be called “sons of God” not by God, but by those around them who observe their actions.  This is because peacemakers will more fully bear the image of God.

God is a God of peace (Hebrews 13:20), His Son is the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7), the gospel Jesus preached was the gospel of peace (Ephesians 2:17), and the Father sent the Son to bring peace (Luke 2:14). The Bible says in Colossians 1:19ff (and following) that the Father desires to reconcile all things to Himself.  Therefore, those who make peace are those who have made peace with God first in their own lives and are being led to follow the Father’s desire and, as peacemakers, they are truly His children.

Since reconciliation (peacemaking) is at the top of the Father’s agenda, it should be the top of His children’s agenda too.  Those who are disciples of Jesus “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11), desire peace with all men (Hebrews 12:14), and do everything they can to be at peace with all (Romans 12:18).

But the peace of which Jesus speaks

Is not peace by appeasement.

Appeasement is not true peace;

It is a false peace

And can never be sustained.

The peace that Jesus is talking about

And every believer now has with God

Is peace and reconciliation that comes

Through the blood sacrifice of the Son.

Without His atoning death,

Without the covering of our sin,

Peace with God is not possible.

It was not secured by denying our problem of sin or trying to overcome our problem by our own efforts.  Instead . . .

It was obtained by God in Christ

Paying the ultimate price for our sin –

He died so that we can be justified

And have peace with God.

A form of “peace” which is sought without dealing with the deeper, more difficult underlying problem of sin is not true peace; it is a superficial peace at best.  True peacemaking is always set in the frame of justice and truth without compromising either. So . . .

No one can be a peacemaker

If one denies the gospel,

The problem of sin,

And the need for a Savior.

That may serve the efforts of ecumenism –

The attempt to reconcile Christianity

To other forms of religion,

But it is not biblical peacemaking.

The plain fact is the gospel divides.  A Christian is constantly at war with the world, the flesh, and the Devil (Ephesians 2:2-3; 1 John 2:16) and we don’t make peace by giving in to them.  Martin Luther said “peace if possible but truth at any rate” and that is still true today.

True peacemaking must have,

As its aim,

Leading others to Christ

By the gospel.

Only in Christ will people find true peace,

And be able to life a life of peace.

Tomorrow we will look at how to be biblical peacemakers.  Until then, may you know peace with God, and may the peace of God be with you and guard your heart and mind in Christ.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Christian Virtue: True Purity of Heart: Realizing the Promise, Part 11

Grace For The Journey

In yesterday’s blog we discussed the sixth Beatitude, found in Matthew 5:8. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  We learned that Jesus is talking about those who are pure in their innermost being; in the heart, where the Bible says our deepest desires, emotions, thoughts, and will reside.

Pure hearts are those that are undivided

By conflicting concerns or unsure loyalties.

Pure hearts are those that are free from falsehood,

Are sincere and transparent.

Pure hearts are characterized by pure thoughts,

Motives and are free from hypocrisy.

For a disciple of Christ, a pure heart

Means undivided loyalty, undiluted

Commitment, and unmixed motives.

A pure heart loves God and Christ

First, only, and foremost.

Here is where the fourth Beatitude, ““Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied,“ becomes important.  When I wrote about that element of the Christian life, I wrote about and defined the word “imputation” in its theological sense.  Imputation is a legal and accounting term that means “to be credited,” and in the Bible, imputation is used to describe God’s gracious gift of perfect righteousness given to all those who trust in Christ for their salvation (Genesis 15:6; Psalm 32:1-2; Romans 4:24).  We called this Beatitude the hinge because all the others turn on this concept of a hunger and thirst for righteousness that is filled by the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness.

Those who are pure in heart love God with all their heart, soul, mind, will, and strength, and when they fail to do so, God credits them for having done so because of Christ.  The Bible tells us that this is the condition of the heart of everyone who is “in Christ” (Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:19).  And to those “in Christ,” purity of heart is realized and Jesus promises they receive God’s blessings.  So, let’s look at how this promise is realized in the here and now.

First, purity is its own reward.  Just as we appreciate clean air and water, clean living conditions because it carries the reward of healthy living, in the same way, spiritual and moral purity has rewards as well.  People who act out of pure motives, those which can be trusted to do what they say, who help with sincerity instead of anticipating a return, are the kind of people we want to know.  When we act out of a pure heart, people often treat us in the same way.  True and lasting friendships are built on actions that come from a pure heart.

Second, what price would you put on a clear conscience? At the end of the day, the swindler, or thief, or cheat looks in the mirror and sees a fraud.  They lie restless in bed knowing they are contaminated by their underhanded ways.  While the world may disdain the pure in heart because of seared consciences, God has a different view. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:32, “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.”  Purity has emotional and relational rewards that lead to health, life, and rest.

Third, purity is rewarded.  Jesus says the pure in heart will see God.  How could there be a greater reward for the one whom God has called by faith?  Think of how you have been moved emotionally by the wisdom of some great person.  Imagine meeting Abraham Lincoln, or Albert Einstein, or William Shakespeare, or some other person you admire greatly for their intellect.  Well, God is infinitely more wise, interesting, and eloquent than any person who has ever lived.  God’s mere presence thrills our souls now when we can’t see Him; but think how thrilling it will be in His presence.  The Bible declares in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Fourth, purity is real.  Do you want to see God?  Then God must purify your heart. The Bible says in James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  Purity of heart is required in God’s presence and those whom God calls into His presence, He transforms and changes. They become new creatures in Christ and are given new hearts, indeed, they are given pure hearts (Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

What is the condition of your heart?  If you have trusted in Christ, God has given you a new heart that is pure.  And while that purity of heart is not yet complete, there is merit in an imperfectly pure heart when contrasted with an impure heart.  God replaces our old, filthy, dead heart with a new heart alive to Him and persevering in faith that leads to purity of heart.  If you wish to see God, then turn to Christ who alone can make you fit for heaven.  Then you will realize God’s promise, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Christian Virtue: A Cleansing The Leads Us To Be Pure In Heart, Part 10

Grace For The Journey


3Sept  In today’s blog, we come now to the sixth Beatitude. Matthew 5:8: ““Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

In part 2 of our study of the Beatitudes, we learned that when Jesus talked about those who were poor in spirit, He did not mean people who lack material possessions.  Instead, by ‘poor in spirit,’ Jesus means those who are spiritually impoverished by being humbly aware of their lack of any spiritual strength or ability.  This is a poverty that has nothing to do with economic standing and everything to do with an accurate assessment of who we are as fallen creatures. The poor in spirit confesses one’s unworthiness before God and (an) utter dependence upon Him.  In the same way, when Jesus talks about being pure in heart, it is not an external conformance to the law or a religious code that He is talking about.  Instead, it is an inward holiness and a moral purity that is at the center of a person’s very being.

The word translated in our English Bibles as “pure” is the Greek word “katharos,” from which we get the word “catharsis,” which means “an emotional and spiritual cleansing or release. “ To be pure in heart is to be pure and guiltless in the place where our emotions, thoughts, and will reside; in one’s “heart,” which, the Bible says, is the very center of our being (Matthew 15:19; Romans 10:10, ESV).  To be pure in heart is to be pure spiritually, and it is manifest in thoughts, words, and deeds.  It is a true purity, not a show of outward cleanliness.

Notice that Jesus does not say “blessed are the pure,” for there would have been those standing within earshot who would have considered themselves to be in such a condition.  The Scribes and Pharisees thought themselves to be pure in a ceremonial way which is why later, Jesus called them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27).  The Apostle Paul considered himself to be pure before Jesus revealed to him what true purity required (Philippians 3:4-6).  So, when Jesus speaks of being pure in heart, He has something much more comprehensive and complete in mind when He speaks of the purity that leads to blessing.

Throughout Scripture, we find that God is never pleased with the right, moral behavior if it is without heart obedience. Through the Prophet Isaiah, God asks: “’What to Me is the multitude of your sacrifices?’ says the Lord; ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats’” (Isaiah 1:11).  Instead, what God requires is internal purity.  He declares this in Isaiah 1:16-17, “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before My eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

And what has been true throughout history is still true today. There are many people who come to church on Sunday morning for worship yet live lives during the rest of the week with little or no regard for God, honesty, humility, or purity of heart.  You may even know someone who claims to be a Christian, who tries hard to do all the right things, but their heart is filled with bitterness, resentment, anger, lust, or covetousness.  These are all sins of the hearts, and while people can often be fooled, God knows the heart, and He is never fooled (1 Samuel 16:7).

Once again we see how the Beatitudes cause us to examine ourselves in light of what God requires of those who are His children.  In these few short verses, Jesus asks us to examine our spiritual condition.  Are we poor in spirit, do we mourn over sin, are we yielded and surrendered to the will, way, and Word of God?  If so, do we long to be different?  Do we hunger and thirst after righteousness?  If so, are we being controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit?  If we have then can it be seen in our conduct – we will be merciful and we will desire to be pure in heart.

Tomorrow we will look at what being pure in heart demands.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”