Pure in Heart – Sun – 21-09-26



My mother tells a story about me. I don’t remember it, but on the last day of school in second grade, my teacher read a poem to the class. The poem was all about the joys of summer for a child. You know, going barefoot – that sort of thing.  I must have taken the poem to heart! It seems one of the joys mentioned was not needing to take baths. Mom says that she had to work hard to convince me at the beginning of that summer to bathe! It didn’t matter what my teacher had read! Mrs. Fuller wanted her boy to get clean!

This concept of being clean is in the Beatitude found in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (NIV) The word pure basically means clean. The same word is used in Matthew 27:59 to describe the linen cloth Joseph of Arimathea used to wrap the body of Jesus for burial. It was a clean cloth.

We understand what clean means when we think of clothing. It means no dirt, no stains, no spots of any kind. We can purchase all kinds of products to clean our clothes – or our bodies and our hair. We also know how important cleanliness is to food preparation, drug manufacturing and medical procedures.

With all this emphasis on outward cleanliness, have we missed the importance of our hearts? Remember, focus on being pure in heart!


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The Merciful – Sat – 21-09-25



Do you ever look in the closet trying to decide what to wear? Usually, we think about the activities of the day, right? If working in the yard, we dress differently than going to a wedding or a ballgame. We also think about the weather. Will it be hot, comfortable or cold? Will it be windy, rainy, calm? And for some of us, we also have to ask, what’s clean, right? These questions help narrow down our choices. Sometimes we may still dither over one garment or another. But once the decision is made, we clothe ourselves.

Now, what about your inner self? If you are looking for a list of things with which to “clothe” your character, you should look at Colossians 3:12. It says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (NIV)

Did you notice the word compassion? That is the same concept as mercy. In the Beatitudes, Jesus promised mercy to the merciful. God also told us that he desires mercy more than sacrifice. Listen to Hosea 6:6, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Jesus used this verse to rebuke the Pharisees.

So, clothe your character with mercy. Use whatever power you have to help alleviate the problems of people, even if they don’t deserve it. That’s the mercy God shows to us.


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The Merciful – Fri – 21-09-24



Do you know what it means to be rich? The definition can shift. The number of dollars required to be rich in 1921 was vastly different than today. So, here’s a simple definition of rich — having a lot. Rich people have a lot of money, a lot of cars, a lot of clothes, a lot of jewelry, a lot of space in their house – even a lot of houses! That’s what we usually think of when we hear the word rich – someone with a lot.

But people can be rich in other things as well. If I say someone is rich in family, don’t you think of someone surrounded by smiling, loving people? If I say someone is rich with happiness, you probably visualize someone who is elated, beaming with joy. So, what do you think of when you hear the phrase “rich in mercy”? You should think of God. That’s how he is described in Ephesians 2:4-5, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved.” (NIV)

In other words, God has a lot of mercy! He is rich with mercy. His mercy is connected with his love and grace. Aren’t you glad? Instead of chasing the riches of wealth, perhaps we should try to be rich in mercy!


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The Merciful – Thu – 21-09-23



We are focused this week on the Beatitude found in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”(NIV) My work to uncover the nuances of mercy led to a surprise. I wanted to look at Jesus as an example of mercy. He is a great example – that is not a surprise! But the surprise was in Hebrews 2:17, which reads, “For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”

You see, I knew Jesus needed to be faithful to God to give his life as a sacrifice. It was not easy to face the cross. But Jesus was faithful. So how did his becoming human lead to being a merciful priest in his service to God? Hmm. I think the clue is in the next verse, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  Jesus’ experience in this life made him more sympathetic to the struggles we face. He is compassionate. This concern for the suffering of others and willingness to alleviate it is the very definition of mercy.

If we are to be merciful, then we need be compassionate with others.


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The Merciful – Wed – 21-09-22



Have you noticed that athletics run in the family? Sometimes championships even run in the family. Archie Manning was a quarterback in the NFL for 13 seasons, mostly with the New Orleans Saints. His two sons, Payton and Eli, have also been quarterbacks in the NFL. Both of the boys have two Super Bowl victories each. *

Or consider the Griffeys in Major League Baseball. Ken Griffey Sr. made the All Star team three times. His son Ken Griffey Jr. was an All Star 13 times. At one point, both father and son played for the Mariners. In one game they hit back-to-back homers. They are the only father-son duo to accomplish the feat.

Then there are the Earnhardts in NASCAR racing. Ralph Earnhardt won the 1956 National Sportsman division. His son, Dale Earnhardt Sr., was won the Winston Cup seven times. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won over 25 victories in stock car racing, including the Daytona 500 twice.

It seems almost cliché to say “like father like son.” But it is so true. Sons often look like and act like their fathers, even when it involves sports. If we are to be merciful, like the Beatitudes urge, then we need to take after our heavenly Father. Or, as Luke 6:36 says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (NIV)


*All examples from: “Athletes and Their Athlete Fathers,” Sports Illustrated, June 8, 2015, https://www.si.com/sports-illustrated/2015/06/08/athletes-and-their-athlete-fathers#gid=ci025587d770012781&pid=eli-peyton-and-archie-manning.

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The Merciful – Tue – 21-09-21



You’ve seen a cell phone tower, right. Can you imagine being 225 feet up a 359 foot tower? You are strapped to the tower working on the equipment there. Now imagine you are 225 feet up the tower when a section topples off the top and snaps a guy wire, causing the entire tower to collapse! This actually happened to Uriah King. He survived, but suffered a broken left ankle, broken right leg and multiple pelvic fractures. He endured six surgeries to install plates and rods in his pelvis and legs. Can you imagine the therapy he had to fight through?! After months of healing, King is walking again. But there’s more. He is not only walking again, but playing high school football! King has triumphed over his injuries.*

Think of that word triumph. It is used in connection with mercy. If we are going to live the Beatitude that says “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7 NIV) we have to understand where mercy triumphs. James tells us in James 2:12-13, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

So, do you want to be a winner when facing judgement? Then be merciful!


*Derrick Stuckly, “Uriah King Makes Triumphant Return To Football 14 Months After 225-Foot Tower Fall,” Brownwood News, August 16,2021, https://www.brownwoodnews.com/2021/08/16/uriah-king-makes-triumphant-return-to-football-14-months-after-225-foot-tower-fall/.

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The Merciful – Mon – 21-09-20



What does it mean to be merciful? Have you ever seen a business book extolling the value of mercy as an attribute of a leader? I think most people don’t think they need to be more merciful. Or more likely, they never think of mercy as an important attribute to possess. If that is the case, how can we live the Beatitude in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”?

Are you like me? I find being merciful a challenge. Oh, don’t get me wrong! I’m not harsh and cruel. But I like things to be fair. I want people to uphold the terms of an agreement. But mercy is not fair! It flows from compassion for people. Compassion is disconnected from fairness.

One person who displays compassion and mercy is God. When God gave laws to the ancient nation of Israel, he said in Exodus 22:25-27, “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it by sunset, 27 because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can they sleep in? When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.” God’s compassion requires treating others with mercy.

How’s your mercy? If you want to receive mercy, then show mercy.


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The Merciful – Sun – 21-09-19



Jesus said in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”(NIV) This Beatitude is our focus this week. Mercy is the release of another from a negative situation or release from consequences for their action. For example, if a person breaks the law, they are subject to punishment. This may be in the form of a fine or imprisonment. If the court shows mercy, they are released from that punishment, or it is greatly reduced. Mercy can also be shown to those who owe a financial debt. The debtor may plead for mercy, meaning they want the debt forgiven or the due date extended.

But mercy is not always related to people who are guilty or owe something. People who were sick or blind often cried out to Jesus for relief. They said, “Have mercy on us!” One instance begins in Matthew 20:30. Two blind men on the edge of Jericho wanted Jesus to heal them. He did.

This shows us that the key to mercy is this: it is granted by one who has power in the situation. The two blind men cried for mercy because Jesus had the power to heal. A judge can show mercy because he has the power to sentence another for a crime. If we are to live this Beatitude, we need to show mercy to others, whether those in need or those who have offended us.


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Hunger For Righteousness – Sat – 21-09-18



Do you enjoy holiday meals? It seems that holidays often revolve around food, usually with family.

I have fond memories of Thanksgiving dinners at Elaine’s parents when our children were younger. Everyone would show up with food for the noon meal. The good china would be taken from the cupboard and set on the tables. In fact, with about 40 people in the house, we had lots of tables! The big one was in the dining room joined by a card table in the living room, another in the hallway, the kitchen table, and often the living room coffee table!

We ate heartily of the turkey, stuffing, homemade noodles, mashed potatoes, homemade bread rolls, green beans and lots of pie! We were absolutely filled when we finished! We couldn’t eat another bite. But you know what? By evening we were ready to eat again – usually rolls and pie!

In Matthew 5:6, Jesus promised that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness would be filled. But this is different than a holiday meal. Although it doesn’t say it, I think those filled with God’s righteousness would never hunger again. Why do I say this? Listen to Jesus’ words in John 4:14, “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (NIV) So, seek God’s righteousness and you will be filled!


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Hunger For Righteousness – Fri – 21-09-17



I’ve never spent much time in a desert. The closest I’ve come was on a short hike in the Grand Canyon. At the top of the South Kaibab Trail, the ranger checked that we were carrying enough water. We planned a short hike down the trail and back to the rim – only two or three hours. Going down was easy! It was morning. By the time we reached Cedar Ridge, our turn around point, we were hot and tired. We had dropped 1,000 feet in elevation. Now we had to hike in the blazing sun the one and a half miles back to the canyon rim. Step by step we climbed up the gravel trail. We wanted to stop, but there was no real shade and no place to get water. We drank every bit of water we carried and were ready for more when we reached the top!

Water is important in a desert land. David wrote the 63rd Psalm while in the desert. Listen to his word in the first verse, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”

Do you seek God and his righteousness with the longing of one looking for an oasis in the desert? You should, because Jesus promised that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled!


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