No.1 Obey the Commands

The commands of Jesus are the Mark, the target for the perfect life. To aim for and to hit the Mark is to conform to the image and likeness of God. To ignore, neglect, or miss the Mark is to sin. The commands provide stepping stones through earthly life, upon which the child of God survives tempests and deflects the boomeranging darts of pride. Adhering to the Mark aspiring immortals gain victory.

  They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.   John 14:21, John 15:10  The first command is to obey the commands. However often we say we love God, we fool ourselves when we do not take the commands seriously. Unless we obey the commands, our love is fraudulent and will tarnish and thus we risk damnation. We disobey the commands because of too much pride and not enough trust. Obey Christ’s commands to be loved by God, the Father, and to get to know Him. It is like the sun shining through you.

They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.

John 14:21, John 15:10

The first command is to obey the commands. However often we say we love God, we fool ourselves when we do not take the commands seriously. Unless we obey the commands, our love is fraudulent and will tarnish and thus we risk damnation. We disobey the commands because of too much pride and not enough trust. Obey Christ’s commands to be loved by God, the Father, and to get to know Him. It is like the sun shining through you.

No.2 Repent

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[Jesus said]…repent, and believe in the good news.

 Matthew 3:2, Mark 1:15, Mark 6:12, Luke 24:47

Jesus Christ commands us to evolve, to change our way of being. Visualize a rosebud that opens to become fully itself. Likewise, open your mind to the clear and unambiguous way to be Christ-like. Repentance is the medicine that opens your heart. In the course of learning the commands of Jesus each and every one of us will see that we need to change, to repent. The good news is that Christ points to the way to immortal life. Believe in this. The fragrance of the rose in full bloom delights everyone around it, so too will your new life delight those in your orbit. Peace.

No. 3 Be Gentle and Humble

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Learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. [read: be meek, kind, mild, passive, modest] Matthew 5:5, Matthew 11:29

Imagine that. The maker of genes commands even the fiery among us to defy our own nature, even as he defied the wind and waves, and illness.  How is this possible? Learn kindness, gentleness and modesty to gain peace of soul. The following commands tell us how. Ask for help and you shall receive. Peace

No. 4 Desire Righteousness

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Hunger and thirst for right standing with God.

Matthew 5:6, Luke 6:21, Luke 12:31

Some of these commands are taken from the Beatitudes which simply state that those who embody certain characteristics are Blessed. They are not laws that typically define a command, but like laws the Beatitudes illuminate the Mark, the target for the perfect life. To treat the Beatitudes as commands is to believe that we can regulate our selves even as laws aim to regulate us. To repent, to change our way of thinking is a command. To be Blessed is godly. To repent so we can be Blessed is a bulls-eye shot.

To strive for the kingdom is to hunger for righteousness, or right standing with God.  This is where the autonomy of free-will is truly demonstrated. Our genetic dispositions are not free will, but something imposed upon us by nature; assigning ourselves to a religion and church-going may happen because of external pressures from family or society, but to hunger and thirst for right standing with God can only come from within a person’s own heart and mind and will. God knows that. How much do you really want to be Christ-like and immortal? Is it a casual desire, like getting a new car, or is it a hunger that forces a response?

Hunger and thirst scream for attention in the same way that illness does. They are loud! Spend a moment, especially a moment of extreme hunger or illness imagining an equally loud desire for the contentment of right standing with God. Fasting helps us to understand what it means to hunger for righteousness. As food and drink nourish the body, right standing with God nourishes the soul. Could a starving soul live for very long? 

Recap:

  1. Obey the commands.
  2. Repent – Change your way of thinking.
  3. Learn from Jesus Christ who is gentle and humble.
  4. Want to be righteous as Jesus Christ is righteous.

No. 5 Be Merciful

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Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Matthew 5:6; Luke 6:36

‘Lord, have mercy on me, who sins.’ I ask You to help me to be like You, and forgive me when I fail. You ask me to do the same for others. Help those in trouble; be sympathetic, tender, responsive, and compassionate. No blame game, no lusty fault-finders playing hide and seek. To be Christ-like, to be God-like is to overlook offenses, and to pity the ignorant sinner. To be Christ-like is better than being right.

No. 6 Be Pure

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Be pure in your heart. Matthew 5:8

The mind informs and influences the heart, but the heart rules. The heart is extra sensory; the heart is keenly perceptive in ways the mind does not comprehend.  I will even venture to say that your heart is the substance of your being, this intangible element of personhood that neither computer nor internet can trump as it has with the mind. As people age, they often lose their mental faculties, but they rarely lose their hearts.

When I cut open a ripe avocado, I am thrilled when I see an avocado that is perfectly ripe through and through, when it hasn’t started to rot. In contrast to contamination, purity resonates in delightful rhythm.

The land of immortality is comprised of the pure of heart. This is why we yearn to be there. Yet, to be there we must be pure too, lest we contaminate heaven.

The call for purity is repeated by Christ. He commands righteousness, perfection, and purity of heart.

 Psalm 24:3-6

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?

And who shall stand in his holy place?

Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,

who do not lift up their souls to what is false,

and do not swear deceitfully.

They will receive blessing from the Lord,

and vindication from the God of their salvation.

Such is the company of those who seek Him.

 Psalm 73:1

Truly God is good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart.

The challenge for this week is to look into your heart and purge from it any impurities that may lurk there. How can this be done? Try prayer and fasting. King David did when he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Ask and ye shall receive.  Peace.   

 

No. 7 Make Peace

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Be at peace with one another. Matthew 5:9; Mark 9:50

Imagine sitting in darkness on a wide cold sandy beach before the dawn. Imagine staring at the horizon where earth kisses sky until the speck of sunlight, no more than a pinhead illuminates the whole world. There is a peaceful eyeful, there is a powerful event.

God and the children of God know that sheer power, radioactive power, atomic power, holy power is required to make and maintain peace. To fight one another is to roll down a grassy hill; it is a natural gravity-fed activity, physical and emotional and simple. To make peace, that lily-white breeze of a feeling is to be victorious over nature’s gravity which would force the whole wide world down into hell if God blinked. Aspiring immortals make peace by using holy power over self, to forebear, to self-correct, to be merciful. Then they are capable of being at peace with others.

Except, to quash evil sometimes soldiers make peace with bombs and bayonets for the same reason that the cross gave life and that chemotherapy heals. Sometimes soldiers must climb mountains to give us peace.  In both cases peace requires power, power over evil whether in the world or in the soul.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God who will be welcomed with His open arms into His awesome eternally peaceful kingdom.

No. 8 Take His Hits

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Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Matthew 5:11, Luke 6:22

Hitting the Mark on this one in my opinion, in this day and age especially, would be nearly impossible. I wonder what form the blessing would come in while I was being shunned and hated. It is like saying that you won the Jackpot, you have liver cancer. How exactly is the blessing manifested? I suppose it says that if you are willing to take the hit for Christ, you are really standing in His sandals. He will be with you and reward you in unimaginable ways.  

Being hated for Christ is very different than simply being hated. It may not be on account of my Christianity that I am being persecuted but on account of my personality! Think about some loud and brassy televangelists. They were reviled even by Christians, not because they were preaching Christ. Who can hate a true Christ, someone who is kind and gentle, peaceful and merciful?

Finally, I think this Mark can’t be achieved because it depends on others. It is impossible to try to be hated while trying to love.  MAYBE there is a way. There are a few countries in this world where Christ is hated. One could plan a vacation there, and wear a big gold cross. If you happened to be killed, you could become an instant saint! Now that’s a blessing! Remember though, Christian martyrs do not commit suicide! Someone else has to kill you and you have to not want that to happen!

Lord, I’m sorry for making fun of this ‘beatitudinal’ command. You know I would take your hits and even die for you. I try every day to find ways to die to my ‘self’ for Your sake, so You won’t cringe if I wear a cross and act like a jerk. If it ever happens that I am persecuted and excluded for your sake, I promise not to buckle. What’s next?

No. 9 Be Luminous

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[As you wouldn’t light a lamp and place it under a bushel basket, but on a lampstand to give light to all in the house]…let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

If your marksmanship has improved, and you have internalized the commands and you are starting to evolve into a replica of Christ, by now you are probably glowing in the dark. Isn’t this fun?! 

Recap:

  1. Obey the commands
  2. Change your way of thinking.
  3. Be patient and mild
  4. Hunger and thirst for righteousness
  5. Be merciful
  6. Be pure of heart
  7. Make and maintain peace
  8. Be peaceful during persecution
  9. Illuminate

John said that in Christ was life, and the life was the light of all people. Everyone shines life. To think like Christ and behave like Christ is to shine brightly; it is to teach, to heal and to feed and relieving suffering. These works are the manifestation of God’s light (in you) and should be on display to cause people to thank God and worship Him and love Him.

It is THE luminous circle of love! First God loves you and fills you with His light, then you use your light to love and help others, then they love and thank God too!

Illuminating is not a request. It is a command. It is one of the purposes of going through the kind of transformation that forces us to combat our nature (read: genes or ego). Turning into a flashlight, is not for your own good, so you can live happily ever after, or just look like a star. It is to expand the kingdom of God on this earth, one state of consciousness at a time. Joy.  

No. 10 Bear Fruit

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He removes every branch in Me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit He prunes to make it bear more fruit. John 15:2, John 15, 16

If you thought that you could go to God’s Kingdom to escape terms like the GNP (Gross National Product), think again. The acronym actually stands for God’s National Product and it is very important to Him. Productivity matters. Busy bees, busy ants, busy christs. God’s world is teeming with activity and continuous improvement. Perhaps the phrase, “May (s)he rest in peace” only applies to the time between when we leave the body and the Second Coming. I suspect that even on the new earth our fruitful productivity will be required to create the most magnificent world possible. This explains why fruitful branches are kept and unfruitful ones are burned. (Read John 15:6)

It is no wonder that the verb ‘to produce’ sounds like the noun meaning fruit? Fruit, such as apples, peaches, and figs are not only beautiful and tasty they also keep our bodies healthy. In addition to vitamins and fiber, fruit comes with a bonus: seeds.  Seeds are the source of even more fruit. Fruit is the most productive of God’s creation. Look around; to be productive, i.e. to  be fruitful is to be like God.

Reading the Bible and praying often is a grand way to learn and feel holy. But getting out in the world to follow Jesus Christ’s who taught, healed, fed, and raised the dead increases the GNP and builds God’s country. Are you in?

No. 11. About Divorce

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[Jesus said] anyone that divorces his wife, except on the ground of [her] unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

For this reason (i.e. to marry) a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

Mathew 5:32; Mark 10:7-9, Deuteronomy 24:1-4

This command hits a nerve as few others do. The impulse to run from pain and conflict is powerful. To obey this command may require extraordinary faith and an extraordinary commitment to becoming a child of God, and the Bride of Christ.

Yet, Jesus, building upon the law, forbids divorce for reasons that the all-knowing, far sighted God understands better than humans. The truth is that divorce can be nothing more than a mirage in the desert. By banning divorce God seeks our long term good, not our suffering. Trust Him.

“One flesh” the marriage bond is as real as it is invisible. Divorce is the suicide of the compound person that was born on his and her wedding day.  To marry a divorcee is to marry someone who is already united with another. Equating lust with adultery says it is wrong to break the marriage bond even secretly, deep within one’s own heart. Lust, adultery, divorce, it’s all the same rip of one into two.  By contrast, focusing on the Mark instead of focusing on faults unites people with each other as it unites us with God.

If you want to be at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, as a Bride of Christ, show Him that you are not inclined to divorce.   

No. 13 Don't Swear

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Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord. But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is His footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes or No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Mathew 5:33-37, Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30.2; Deuteronomy 23.21

What an honor. What a relief. To swear by God or by Jove or anything is to try to give weight to your declaration. It is to bring in the troops to back you up, or to lift you up.

If you swear falsely, to give weight to something that is not true; you aren’t even close to being Christ-like. Take three giant steps back. If you have potty mouth, take six giant steps back.

Swearing is not necessary. As a child of the most high God, the Creator of the universe who spoke this whole amazing scintillating world into being, your word has power. Your word: sturdy, sound, reliable, forms a foundation upon which the castle of your being is erected.

To swear is to diminish your personal divinity.  Christ came to teach you what it takes to regain the image of God.  The mark of an immortal is reliability.

No. 14 Cheek Turning

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But I say to you, Do not resist an evil doer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. Matthew 5:39, Luke 6:29a

When I was a child I did not understand what grown-ups meant when they said to turn the other cheek. Then one day I read a Bible that said, “…and let him strike the other also.” OUCH!

Smart God tells us not to resist, but rather to let the person complete the zing by doing it on both cheeks, all that you have. Don’t put up your guard and don’t strike back! Be strong enough to break the circle dance of anger. Let it play itself out in the other person. Take the punches like a god. See Christ be whipped before the crucifixion. Be willing to be whipped too. In this way you are being Christ-like which makes you at-one with the Mark! Congratulations you made it!

People hurt others in psychological as well as physical ways. Sometimes they slap intentionally, sometimes just because they are slappers and they don’t mean to inflict pain, and sometimes because they perceive that they are slapping you back. Evil is like a gas, it pervades the atmosphere and then dissipates; it goes away. You can’t fight a vapor, you wait it out.

No. 15 Roll Over in Court

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"…and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give him your cloak as well.” Matthew 5:40

Another in the series that forbids retaliation, this command pushes us a little farther out on the limb by telling us to give the thief even more than He is grabbing. It is the step that follows the command not to try to recover anything stolen from us.

Give your opponent even more than what (s)he demands!

In short, avoid court. It is a horrible place to be. Don’t just settle with resentment in your heart. Be willing to look like you lost, like you were guilty. Be willing to disrobe, to be cold!

If you want to abide in the land of God and His angels, then you must rise above human nature. You must focus on nothing more than becoming Christ-like through obedience. Nothing on earth is worth more than this lesson. No warmth on a cold day. No material good, no clinging to the notion of earthly justice, no decadent sense of pride compares to the abundance in store for those who practice letting go for God’s sake.

Invest yourself in God and watch the return increase your net worth.

Demonstrate your devotion; don’t just sing it.

After the sting, see how well this works. You won’t know how much suffering this approach saved you, but giving more than the disputed coat directly hits the target which releases pure joy into your core. Be like him who said,

Psalm 40: “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

No. 16 The Golden Mile

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And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Matthew 5:41

The second mile is the fun mile. Being forced to do something is no fun. A client wants more than you expected to give and so you have work through the night, or during a party you wanted to attend; a teacher gives a lot of homework on your birthday, a friend begs you to do something that you don’t expect to like. Getting over the hump of doing what you don’t want to do is difficult. But the second mile, doing an excellent job at it, staying longer than you need to turns the whole situation on its side! The second mile is your own turf! It is where you adopt the idea and make it your own. The second mile is where the angels come to meet you to play. The second mile is golden; go there as often as you can. Joy.

No. 17 Let Go - Be God

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“Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:42, Luke 6:30

The metamorphosis we go through to become Christ-like, to hit the Mark with our behavior and our thoughts, is replete with light-filled phases. This command to be exceedingly generous presupposes such a light-filled phase that reveals awareness of the limitless wealth of God and by relation, you His true child.

He said in John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you (read: memorize these commands,) ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Also, the begging angle is, “Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you…” and “Now ask and keep on asking and you will receive so that your joy may be complete.” Luke 11:9 and John 16:24.

If someone prays to you for something, give it or lend it. You are a child of God and you have a responsibility to answer prayers as He does. If you don’t think you can afford it, then walk over to the light and look around.

No. 18 Have You HUgged Your Backstabber Today?

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“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for He makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44 

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27-36

Do you have an enemy? Is there or has there ever been someone in your life who obviously hates you and wants evil to befall you? Someone who [figuratively] puts their foot out to make you trip when you walk by or someone who tells lies to ruin your reputation? Has anyone poisoned your coffee lately?

In nature the sun rises on you both. But human nature is more selective. Human nature only wants to shine where there is already light. Human nature prefers to make the dark even darker. It makes you behave like your enemy, fight back and try to win by hurting him more, or if you are the passive type human nature makes you simply ignore your enemy.

Jesus Christ, in His luminous supernatural superman way, tells you to walk on water. He tells you to override human nature, even the passive type, by loving in tangible ways the person who wants to destroy you. Why?! This command begins to make sense when you see that He is telling you and me to be the light of the world as He is, a child of God as He is, so we too can destroy darkness. Love of enemies is the litmus test for His immortal children.

I hope you have no enemy, but I hope even more that if you do, you can love him or her. Some enemies will dissolve as fast as the wicked witch of the west when the water was poured on her. Others, the more insidious enemies, will see the overtures as weakness and go for the kill. Don’t worry; this is when being a supernatural child of God really comes in handy. He will shield you.  

Love your enemies; our world needs more luminous, immortal, supernatural children of God in it.

No. 19 Go Thief!

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Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Luke 6:30

Are you getting the picture yet? The person that Jesus is describing through His commands is like Teflon, nothing sticks! Nothing can tarnish this heart of gold. All offenses, slaps on the face, backstabbing enemies, pushy tyrants, thieves and beggars, all simply slide away as fast as a downhill skier.

Jesus demands generosity for reasons very different than your average televangelist. The televangelist wants to enrich his kingdom, or simply pay his bills and so (s)he offers you in return the hope of a high yield investment that God will pay you (on his/her behalf.) Jesus doesn’t want a Ferrari. There are no malls where He lives. Jesus wants you to be generous to bless as He does and to practice letting go of your money or time.

He wants you to untie yourself from ropes that shackle you to this earth. A child of God must be able to rise when God calls on that Fearsome Day of the Lord. To rise to meet Jesus in the air at His Second Coming requires the ability to easily let go. Let go of your goods; let go of your money; let go of your resentment. Practice letting go in thirty seconds or less! Now, can you do it…in five?

Give it away, or let them take it from you. Don’t ask for it back. Don’t call the police.  Don’t judge the beggar; let God do that, just give.

Allowing people to take from you gives you one more opportunity to trust. See God smile.

No. 20. Actors Need Not Apply

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“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

The author of Reality is as entertained by literature and theater as you and I. But beware! We venture out into the danger-zone when we mix theater with reality, that is when we lie or when we only pretend to pray, or when we perform acts of kindness in order to be seen by others. God the Father strictly guards Reality.

The most intimate relationship each of us has is with our Father who art in heaven. He lives in our hearts and hears our every thought and word. He watches over our every move, and guides us through our conscience. Married or single, a person cannot have a more real and intimate relationship, no matter how popular (s)he may be.

Intimacy is one to one; nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, never. A crowd of people worshipping God together looks like a gaggle of balloons each connected by its own string in God’s hand. The mass or liturgy may unify our voices and minds, but as harmonious as it is, the liturgical prayer is still one to one. God created us as individuals; He loves us and cares for us …one by one.

To practice piety before others to be seen by them is pornographic. No, it’s worse; it is like abusing your lover by inviting others to watch your most intimate moments.

I wonder if some people who do this don’t realize how offensive their act is to God. I wonder if they simply do not know about the exquisite beauty of the pure relationship with God the Father. How sad.

For this command, the Mark is invisible to everyone but you.

No. 21 Sweet Perfection

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Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

I hear the crowd echo the refrain over and over again, “You are only human. Nobody is perfect.” Deeper and deeper is the message pounded into the psyche. Each time lowering centimeter by centimeter our standard, our value, our image; suppressing our potential. “Keep humanity down!” demands the demon superintendent.

Humanity turns upon its earth spiraling slowly into oblivion, unaware of the mission to illuminate the universe, unaware of the demonic determination to dominate.

One bright clear morning, the cool air spreading the aroma of fig leaves throughout the crowd, the Son of Man commanded perfection as if it is possible.

The command to be perfect simply reminds us to aim for the Mark, the bull’s eye, the target.

Without perfection there is contamination. There is no middle ground; no cozy gray corner to hide in while waiting for God’s magic wand to make us instantly perfect. That’s not reality, that’s the fairy tale. The truth is God wants us to choose either life or death with our whole being, His way or the damned highway.

We are perfectionists when it comes to wanting perfect health. A cut finger, a sore tooth, any small defect throws us off, even though it is only one malfunction out of thousands of operations that occur in the body. Physical perfection matters for us, and our Being matters for the Father.

Jesus did not tell us to try to be perfect. He told us to Be Perfect.

The Mark defines perfection. Ready. Aim. Fire! Hitting the target is possible! He told me so. He showed me so!

Perfection defies demons and annihilates evil.

Perfection opens the door to immortality.