Category Archives: Spirituality

And Who is My Neighbor?

Jesus often taught by asking questions.  He also told a good story as a teaching tool (the parables).  I chose the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of both.  This is also a message we need to hear today. It is clear, plain and needs no interpretation.  All we need to do is live it.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  —Luke 10:25-37, New International Version, Accessed from Bible Gateway.com

 

Dig a Little Deeper:   

Who is your neighbor?

Going the Extra Mile

Copyright 2017 by R. A. Robbins

38 You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”  –

— Jesus. Matthew 5:39-51, NIV, Accessed from Biblegateway.com

 

This is one of those difficult teachings of Jesus that we would like to cut out of our Bible’s isn’t it?  It definitely goes against our Western sensibilities.

 

Dig a Little Deeper: 

What are some ways you can go that extra mile with someone in your own life?

A life of humble simplicity

“The life of Christ was a life of humble simplicity, yet how infinitely exalted was his mission. Christ is our example in all things.”  —

Ellen G. White

Dig a Little Deeper:   How can you follow Christ in a life of humility and simplicity?  Think of specific things you can do.

:) Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness

Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Jesus, Matthew 5:10, NIV, accessed from BibleGateway.com

Let’s face it, living a righteous, Godly life has never been easy.  There has always been opposition.  The prophets suffered greatly for their calling.  John the Baptist, Jesus and many others were murdered for their faith.  Early Christians met in secret because of the persecution and death they faced if discovered.

Notice that Jesus did not say fight back.  He said we are blessed when people insult us, make fun of us, persecute us.  We are blessed (made happy) because it means we are living in a way that is different than ”the world” and people are taking notice.  Persecution means others are recognizing the Christ within us.

In the world we live in now the temptation to not only fight back, but to kill and destroy the opposition is stronger than ever.  Even “good church going folks” are falling prey to this.  Some pastors are even telling their congregants to arm themselves.  This is not the way of Jesus.

Remember we are blessed when the world turns against us.  It means we are doing something right.

Dig a Little Deeper:

  How do you handle persecution against your faith/”way of life?”  Are you willing to take an unpopular stand to state you are for what is right? –Regardless of the cost to you?

:) Blessed are the peacemakers

Copyright 2011 by R.O. Robbins

Blessed are the peacemakers,  for they will be called children of God.” 

— Jesus, Matthew 5:9, NIV, accessed from BibleGateway.com

It seems that many Christians have trouble with the idea of Jesus as a peacemaker and even more trouble with the idea of themselves as peacemakers.  After all what can one person in this world do to stop the violence and pave the way for peace?

The answer to this is simple.  We stop being violent.  We become peace.  We live, breathe and act out of peace.  One person.  One kind loving act.  That is how it is done.  Is it easy?  Of course not.  But is it possible?  Yes, but we cannot look at the whole big picture of violence in the world because it will be overwhelming.

No one can wave a magic wand and make all war and violence stop.  But we can calm the violence and anger within ourselves.  Next, we bring our families, churches, and communities together in peace.  That’s how peace spreads.  One person at a time.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.”

 

Dig Deeper:

  How are you making peace in your world?

:) Blessed are the pure in heart

Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” 

–Jesus, Matthew 5:8, NIV, accessed from BibleGateway.com

Blessed are those who see the world through the eyes of love.  When our hearts are pure we see a world filled with life, love and oneness. We see God.

Dig Deeper:  How do we better express that lifestyle?

:) Blessed are the Merciful

Copyright 2017 by R.A. Robbins

  Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” 

–Matthew Jesus, Matthew 5:7, NIV, accessed from BibleGateway.com

If we show mercy to others

God will show mercy to us.

Scary isn’t it?

 

Digging Deeper

Where do you fall short in showing mercy to others? 

How can you do better?

 

:) Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

Copyright 2017 by R.A. Robbins

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” —  Jesus, Matthew 5:3, NIV (New International Version), accessed from BibleGateway.com

So who are the poor in spirit?  The version of this in Luke 6:20 says simply blessed are the poor.

Those poor in the material things of this world have a special place in God’s heart?  Why?  Because they must recognize their dependence on God for their sustenance.

The poor in spirit are hungry for the things of God.  We are blessed when we seek after God for not only our physical sustenance but our spiritual sustenance as well.

Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_5

https://www.catholic.com/qa/who-are-the-poor-in-spirit

https://blog/biblesforamerica.org/blessed-are-the-poor-in-spirit

 

Dig a Little Deeper:

Do you hunger for God?  

:) Introduction to the Beatitudes

Copyright 2017 by R. A. Robbins

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.”  — The Bible Matthew Chapter 5:1-2, New International Version, accessed via Bible Gateway.com.

Beginning today we will be considering that great teaching session of Jesus usually referred to as the “Sermon on the Mount.”  This sermon takes up three chapters of the book of Matthew (5, 6 and 7) and includes lots of good stuff.  This is where Jesus talks about being salt and light in the world, murder, oaths, “an eye for an eye,” giving to the needy, prayer, laying up treasures in heaven, judging others, ask, seek, knock, true and false prophets and disciples and much, much, more.

But this lengthy teaching begins with what we call The Beatitudes, that series of statements beginning with the words “blessed are.”  We will be going through these verse by verse, one per day.

 

Dig a Little Deeper:  As we read about these think about the people Jesus calls blessed — is it shocking?  How does it go against conventional wisdom or popular culture?