Monthly Archives: September 2021

Pure in Heart – Thu – 21-09-30



For much of my life, people have been concerned about the environment. I remember news stories about environmental disasters, such as Love Canal, New York, and Times Beach, Missouri and Bhopal, India. Pollution made the areas unlivable. I also remember the Exxon Valdez oil tanker that spilled millions of gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound.

What about you? Do you remember when a certain over-the-counter medication was poisoned? I’m sure you are aware of all the food recalls because of e. coli or some other bacteria contamination. A few years ago, you couldn’t go to a restaurant and order a salad because all the lettuce was contaminated!

Purity is critically important in many things! The government has spent billions of dollars cleaning up toxic waste. Companies have spent millions of dollars recalling contaminated food and products. Companies spend a lot of time and money on quality processes to ensure the purity of food and medication. In fact, government regulation requires these efforts.

One other area where purity is vitally important is religion. As James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (NIV)

Is this a practical description of the Beatitude about being pure in heart? It seems to fit. We should be generous to the needy and avoid the moral pollution of this world.


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Pure in Heart – Wed – 21-09-29



“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God,” says the Beatitude in Matthew 5:8. We’ve learned that the word pure means clean. And we know that the word heart refers to the entire inner being. But I see a problem, do you?

Proverbs 20:9 puts it this way, “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin’?” (NIV) I know I haven’t kept my heart pure! I bet the same is true for you. Jesus called out the Pharisees because they thought they were good, moral people. He called them “white-washed tombs.”

So what are we to do? How can we be blessed if our hearts are not pure? James 4:7-8 tells us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (NIV)

James is telling us to change our direction. He uses the idea of washing, not as a ritual, but as our appeal to God for forgiveness. God is the one who can forgive and cleanse our conscience. Having a pure heart is totally dependent on God. We must have the attitude of David in Psalm 51:10. He said, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (NIV) That is the path to blessing!


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Pure in Heart – Tue – 21-09-28



People often like rituals. One of my favorite baseball players has a specific ritual when he steps up to bat. He tucks the bat under his arm and tightens each batting glove. Then he takes the bat and flips it in his hand. He then taps the toe of his right shoe, then his left, then his right. He steps into the batter’s box and takes a couple of swings. Then, just before the pitch, he does a little wiggle with his upper body. It is quite a sight! He is a good player, but his ritual does not make him good.

When Jesus spoke the Beatitude in Matthew 5:8, I wonder if he had rituals in mind. He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (NIV) You see, the Pharisees in Jesus’ day had a lot of rituals. They thought their rituals made them good, moral people. They were wrong. Listen to Luke 11:39-41, “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.’” (NIV)

Being pure in heart is not about outward rituals, whether they are devotional habits, church attendance or giving offerings. It is about purity in our inner self.


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Pure in Heart – Mon – 21-09-27



This week, the podcast is focused on the Beatitude found in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”* What is the heart that must be pure?

The word can refer the physical organ. However, that is not the meaning here. It is used in different ways in the New Testament.

First it is the place of emotions. Romans 9:2 speaks of great sorrow and anguish in the heart. In Luke 7:13, Jesus sees a widow who had lost her only son. It says, “his heart went out to her.” This usage echoes common usage of the word heart today. People pledge to love each other with all their heart.

Second, it is used for the place of thought and understanding. Mark 7:21 says, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come.” And Acts 8:22 says, “Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.” We usually use the word mind for this, rather than the word heart.

Finally, the word heart describes our will or decision-making self. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give.”

So, to paraphrase the Beatitude, blessed are those who are pure in their entire inner being, for they will see God.


*All Scripture from the NIV.

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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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