Monday, June 20, 2011

Spiritual Mountain Climbing

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Matthew 5:1-12
Do you like the mountains?  Isn’t there just something very special about driving between two rocky cliffs or seeing the beauty of a sunset from a mountain top?  There is the sense of awe and grandeur that makes them much appreciated and inspiring.  No matter how strong or big you think you are, a large granite mountain overwhelms everything within you.
There is also the quietness and closeness to God that seems to encompass anyone ascending one of God’s great mountains.  The heavens seem to descend to meet you and what seemed so large at the bottom now looks so small and insignificant.  The rustle of the trees in the wind accompanied by the trickle of a small brook are sounds that are drowned out in other places apart from the solitude of the mountain.  You just feel so close to God.

Mountains have played a large part in God’s working with His people.  There was Mt. Sinai (also called Mt. Horeb) where God revealed Himself to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments.  Or, Mt. Carmel, where Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal and proved Baal as a false god.  There also is an important pair of twin mountains between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan in Samaria — Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal. It was at these two mountains that Joshua assembled the tribes of Israel to instruct them in the Law of Moses.

It is not surprising that Jesus led His disciples up five very important mountains as He taught them.  A very specific lesson was learned as they ascended each mount.  Many times it seems that the Lord took his followers apart to a high place to capture their attention for a purpose.  While there was nothing special about these mountains themselves, there is a need to learn the lessons that the disciples learned as they climbed these mountains.

The Mount of the Beatitudes - Matthew 5-7
The definition of discipleship was given from this mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  The beginning place of Christian commitment is a proper understanding of the nature of the Christian life as it is lived out.  This understanding is basic to proper commitment and direction.

Too many have built their Christian lives on an interpretation of Christianity not given by Christ, but created in the minds of men.  Many continue under the law because they have not been to the Mount of the Beatitudes and understood what Jesus taught.  The demands and insights regarding proper Christianity that Jesus related seem far removed from the experience of many Christians today.  Understanding the “but I say unto you” statements of Christ can liberate us from the bondage of trying to find salvation through our own efforts.  Not to climb this most important of mounts is to fail to discern the meaning and powerful freedom of vital Christianity.

Like the disciples, the first mountain we need to climb is the mountain of discipleship to learn of Him and His ways.  Find Christ there and listen as He teaches.

Scripture to Claim:
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."  (John 8:31-32)

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