I recently began a fantastic bible study written by Kay Arthur, Lord, Only You Can Change Me.
I picked this study because it is one of Kay’s studies, and ALL over her books, studies, etc. are outstanding. Another reason is because I’ve been trying to get myself back to the right path in my life. One that is Christ honoring and not so self centered.
One of the first things this study does is to take the reader through the Sermon On The Mount, reading all of Matthew chapters 5-7. Then going back and marking each reference to ‘heaven’ and ‘righteousness’ throughout those passages. Next, going through and listing the verse reference and what it says about heaven, then the same for righteousness. If you are having any doubts about your own position in on your journey toward the pearly gates, this is a good place to start. It is an eye opener.
Here are some of the things I learned about heaven:
It belongs to the poor inspirit.
It belongs to those persecuted for righteousness.
Our Father is there.
Until it passes away none of the law will pass away.
Unless our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees we won’t enter the kingdom of Heaven.
Our Father there is perfect and we are to be perfect.
God’s will is done there.
Not all who call out “Lord, Lord” will enter there.
Only those who do God’s will can enter.
Our forgiveness from our Father hinges upon our forgiveness of others.
There were many other things, if you mark the word ‘heaven’ then go back and list everything these chapters say about it, but that gives you an idea.
The list for righteousness was a real eye opener as well. One of the biggest being we must SEEK it. That was my “one word” last year. I fell rather short on SEEKING most anything I needed when it came to my journey. Praise the Lord for His forgiveness.
While going through these passages for this study I did note that I have the following passage highlighted in every bible I own, and I had underlined verse 44 in addition to the highlights.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[b] 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren[c] only, what do you do more than others?Do not even the tax collectors[d] do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
For the record, the red highlight above (my doing) is the verse I underlined. This one is a place I fall very short.
I wonder about where my heart might be today had I stayed more grounded in the Word of God and not allowed myself to move away from what I knew deep down was right. Would I still be married? Or how much faster would I have healed (still in that process) if I had clung to God’s Word when going through the divorce and afterward? I can honestly say I did NOT love my ex-husband through that time, certainly did not bless him or do good by him. For the first time in our history I said unkind things. Throughout our marriage, when outside of our home, I never spoke ill of the man. But once he sought a divorce and I had moved out, I let it fly with both barrels in my other blog and to anyone that listened. I turned my hurt into hate. And because I could not begin to pray good things for him, I simply didn’t pray at all. No, not blaming him for my failure to live a Christ like life, that is all on me. I’m not responsible for his actions, only my own.
Another section that really bothers me when I read it, is Matthew 5:31-32.
31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality[a] causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.
I don’t know where to go with this one. I struggled with it when my first marriage ended, and even more so now. Not having been the one that ended the marriage, where does it leave me? Per the passage it causes me to commit adultery because he divorced me. Does this mean that blame, that sin, is on his head and not mine? And what of a future marriage…if I marry again it causes someone to commit adultery. It is a messy business, this whole matter of divorce. I understand now why the bible says that God hates divorce. It causes ripples of pain, confusion and further sins in the lives not only of the one wanting out, but for the one left behind too. (For more about this topic see Matthew 19:3-9)
I’m a long way from that place, but I have a long way to go. I’m past the meanness in my heart and soul, the hate, but the pain is still there, my heart very raw. But I will be applying scripture to my life in this and every other area, and praying for ME to be the one changed.