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Monday, February 29, 2016
"Leaping For Joy"
Message Summary: Today we consider words of Jesus that, speaking for myself, I tend to want to respectfully shrug off. After all that's not been my experience in the past and I certainly don't want it to apply to my life now. These verses surely must be for someone else, maybe just the original disciples or for someone else, not me!
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"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets" (Luke 6:22,23). "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?" (John 6:60).
February 29 is a date that usually occurs every four years*, and is called leap day (which makes the year a leap year). This day is added to the calendar in leap years as a corrective measure, because the earth does not orbit around the sun in precisely 365 days.
Today is the first Monday on February 29th, that we have ever prepared a daily encouragement message and will most likely be our last. The last time we had a Monday, February 29 was in 1988, over eight years before we began writing these messages and the next Monday, February 29 will not be till 2044 when we will be in our late-eighties! It's very likely that at that date we will no longer be here, or you won't!
Charles Spurgeon preached a message on leap year based on 1 Corinthians 15:8 "One born out of due time".
Well, I thought I would examine Bible texts that had the word "leap" in them, an unusual way to go about Bible Study but a method that just may force me to consider a passage I would otherwise tend to leap past. So I typed in the word "leap" in my online concordance and scrolled through passages with this word and although there are several I was intrigued by today's passage.
In our second daily text the disciples spoke rather frankly and honestly to Jesus, following some hard teaching on discipleship, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” All these centuries later we might respond, “This is a difficult statement; who can understand it?” This difficult statement is found in a section of Luke that reads similar to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew (Luke 6:20-49). It is a beatitude type saying from the Lord.
It's not a comfort verse people choose to memorize, excepting those are undergoing imprisonment and persecution for their faith. It's one of those portions that's difficult to read yet really not that difficult to understand.
"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets" (Luke 6:22,23).
These are words of Jesus that, speaking for myself, I tend to respectfully shrug off. After all that's not been my experience in the past and I certainly don't want it to apply to my life now or in the future. These verses surely must be for someone else, maybe just the original disciples or someone else, but not me!
But I do so at my own peril. Sound theology is developed as we consider not only the easily understood, encouraging type passages but rather the full content of God's Word.
"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man." I don't know about you but that's not how I've prayed for a blessing!!! And that's not the way we generally describe one who is getting a blessing from God, is it?
But Bible-faithful Christians have always been hated and maligned. And increasingly that's the case here in the US just for holding to the Biblical position on issues like the sanctity of marriage (a sacred union between a man and a woman) and the sanctity of life (abortion is murder). As the great apostasy of our age continues to increase I believe this hatred will also increase. Consider the words, "scorn your name as evil". As right is turned upside down those who do right will be considered evil.
But what's especially interesting about this Bible portion are the words that follow. It's a concept I really have a hard time wrapping my arms around, so to speak. Following Jesus' description of hatred, ostracizing, insults and scorn He informs us about the way we are to respond: "Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets."
I'm going to candidly tell you that I am far from saying I can apply this verse in my life, that is, "Be glad in that day and leap for joy". Realistically for me my private thoughts might be more like, "Grieve in that day and cower in despair."
But I realize I need an attitude change, a mighty work that can only be accomplished by God's Spirit working deep within my heart. Jesus motivates us in the last part of the verse which is another reminder of the truth from the message we shared Friday titled "This World Is Not My Home". He concludes the teaching with these powerful words, "For behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets."
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we confess that there are many teachings of the Bible that are hard to understand and challenging to apply. Yet we honor Your inspired Holy Word and hold it up as the standard for our pilgrimage here below. As lawlessness and ungodliness continue to spread all around the globe our comfort and safety is shaken. We use the word, "blessing" when we receive unexpected gifts, promotions, have good health, a warm home and other such comforts. But Jesus informs us that we're blessed when we're hated, ostracized, insulted and when our name is scorned because of our devotion to Him which includes our stand for righteousness as defined in the Bible. If our only rewards were received here on earth Jesus's statement would be deeply troubling, but when our vision is turned heavenward we find peace and strength in knowing that our greatest and lasting reward for remaining faithful in the face of evil awaits us in heaven. Don't let us forget that promised, eternal blessing that lessens the sting of rejection and ridicule. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"It Will Be Worth It All" Video All Together Separate
Bible verses with "leap" in them
* February 29 is a date that usually occurs every four years. Usually but not always. See here
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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