A Turning Point

Dear friends,
Are you excited about the New Year? To me, it is good to think of a new year as an opportunity to make some course corrections, and to reevaluate where I am headed. However, I think at this point I am more motivated by the thought that spring is coming. I’m just not dealing with the cold this winter, and yes, I know this hasn’t been a particularly hard winter.
In our Sunday school lesson this week, it was suggested that an encounter with Jesus Christ is a turning point; a new beginning. When a person becomes a Christian, he or she has a change in priorities. In fact, a true conversion experience creates change.
In the passage of scripture known as the Beatitudes, Jesus clearly identified the characteristics He expects His followers to exhibit. They are not options; they are Jesus’ expectations for all His followers.
There are eight of these characteristics, and they are found in Matthew 5:1-16.
The poor in spirit: True happiness comes when we realize we are spiritually bankrupt and must rely on God’s strength. Those who mourn: refers to those who have true sorrow for our sins, which leads to repentance. The gentle: This implies humility and trust in God rather than a self-centered attitude. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: Those who yearn for true justice, personal righteousness, and salvation.
The merciful: The word merciful implies generosity, compassion, and forgiveness. It is second nature for those who have experienced God’s mercy to show the same mercy to others. The pure in heart: Purity of heart is single-minded devotion to God. The pure will see God and experience intimate fellowship with Him. The peacemakers: Peace describes a state of wholeness and completeness in our relationship with God and all others. Those who seek to make peace do the work of God and will be called sons of God.
Finally, the persecuted: It is an inevitable fact of life that true followers of Christ will be persecuted. Those who are persecuted because they serve Christ can rejoice, because their reward is great in heaven.
Those who possess a genuine Christian character are going to make a difference in the world. As salt, which both flavors and preserves, and as lights shining from a hilltop, they will have an impact on the culture in which they live.
Blessings,
Pastor Jerry
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