27th MARCH

Freedom and reward

Matthew 5: 12

“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

“Great is thy faithfulness” is a great Hymn of faith and has been a great encouragement to many in difficult and challenging times.  The words that really speak to me and I often use as a thread through prayers are ones that bring some perspective to life and its difficulties.  

“Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”

Two different tenses are used in the beatitudes.  At verse 3 and 10 the blessings are present ones:  “for theirs IS the kingdom of heaven”.  The other blessings are in the future tense e.g. at verse 4 we read,  “for they WILL be comforted”.  Taking a step back and looking at the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a whole we see that Jesus, on one hand, is pointing to the future.  He is pointing to a time when at the kingdom will be fully established and all that makes life difficult and challenging will be gone for ever and we will know only peace.  On the other hand, he is preparing us for a bumpy ride until then and that is what he was doing with the disciples.

Following Christ and living a life in line with Gospel teaching and kingdom value does not mean that life will be easy.  As Jesus has indicated it can actually bring with it challenges of its own like persecution.  It does, however, come with the assurance that when we stand for the things of God we will discover God standing with us which in itself sets us from from the hold that troubles have over us. 

The full blessings of the kingdom will be ours sometime in the future, but the seeds of that same kingdom have been sown already in the hearts of those who are receptive to God and willing tossed ways of living out the Gospel.

There is the future hope of better days in the promises of God brought to life in Christ Jesus.  There is also the present reality of God strengthening all of us for the work that he has called us to.

  • What are your dreams and hopes for the future?  How do they match up with God’s?  What does it mean to know that “strength for today” and “bright hope for tomorrow”?  How can you bring them to life for others?

So do not fear, for I am with you; 

do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; 

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

(Isaiah 41: 10)