June 2021 Favor In Hard Places – Part 2

Dear Friend in Christ:
My previous letter began a two-part series on the Beatitudes (Beautiful attitudes) from Matthew
chapter 5:1-16. In that letter, we examined the poor in spirit, grief over our condition, meekness and
hungering for righteousness (see verses 1-6).

This letter will give a brief examination of verses 7-16. Books have been written about these verses,
so this letter will only be able to note some highlights. It has occurred to me that the Beatitudes are
progressive in that they take us from spiritual poverty to maturity as true sons and daughters of God.
They are not only progressive and blessed increasingly, but they are preparatory for what is ahead.

At the age of 12, I memorized these verses, but missed the message. As we grow older, we experience
many hard places and the need to understand that the right attitudes bring blessings. So, I write these
letters to encourage us to set our minds in harmony with the Lord Whom we follow, so that He will
show us His favor as we journey. Now let’s look at Matthew 5:7-16.

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

The grace to give mercy (unearned favor) is a sign of our growth and is the basis for our receiving
mercy from God and other people. Jesus’ disciples did not begin as merciful; James and John wanted
to call down fire on villages that would not receive Jesus (see Luke 9:51-56). Of course, Jesus rebuked
them saying that they did not know the spirit that moved them. There are numerous references to
their lack of mercy all the way to Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection, and to Pentecost. They had to
grow up, and so must we if we are to carry out our mission in a difficult culture.

Jesus told the disciples, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (see Matthew 9:13). The disciples had
sacrificed a lot to follow Jesus, but still needed to learn mercy. On one occasion, Peter asked Jesus,
“How often should I forgive my brother who sins against me— seven times?” Jesus answers seventy
times seven! In other words, many multiple times.

Another question could be, “How often do I want mercy?” Give it as often as you want it—we need
it often, many multiple times! In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus told a story about a king who forgave his
servant a very large amount of money. Then, the servant found a fellow servant who owed him a small
amount, but the first servant would not forgive the debt. When the king heard about that, judgment
came upon that unforgiving servant.

All of us should study Galatians 6:1-5, which teaches us how to deal with a fellow Christian who has
sinned. James 2:13 tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment. Like Jesus’ story of the forgiving
king and unforgiving servant, unforgivness leads to judgment. Mercy overcomes judgment.

We live in the current culture of unforgiveness and call that “Cancel Culture.” A person can lose
everything from one word or act without any restoration. I wonder if many of us who are believers
have our own “Cancel Culture?” Have we become infected with unforgiveness? If so, we will get
into hard places without blessing. Remember, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Now, the Lord is speaking to what really motivates us and what He will do if we respond. God is
pure; His heart and motives are clean, undivided, guileless, and consistent. He is good and full of
mercy. He desires to fellowship with us and reveal Himself to us as He is (see 1 Peter 2:22).

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it flow
the issues of life.”
The all-important task is to keep a pure heart, because everything else is affected
by that (see 1 Peter 2:1-3).

Our enemy, the devil, knows that also, and will use anything to pollute our hearts. That is, he knows
what God hates and wants to insert those things into our hearts, our thoughts, and motives, and then
our words and actions. We are being bombarded with temptation in all kinds of ways, that want to
make sin “normal.” There has been a significant erosion of moral standards. Yet, we are sent into that
world to be in it, not of it. Possible? Yes, if we tend our hearts and fellowship with those who support
truth and love. If we do, God gives an amazing promise: He will reveal Himself!

Second Corinthians 3:17-18 tells us that where the Holy Spirit is, there is liberty to behold the glory
of the Lord and be transformed into His image. Revelation brings transformation! Every time He
reveals Himself to us, we become more like Him! Becoming like Him, our Lord and Savior, the One
we love, is the process and goal to which we are called.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
Notice that this blessing is not step one. Earlier, we were most likely part of the problem but now
the Lord is calling us to solve the problem. We truly cannot make peace until we have peace. As
our peace with God increases, we receive the peace of God—the very peace at the Throne of God!
What peace, a literal ocean of tranquility! The peace of God in our hearts and minds is contagious,
especially given our disturbed and tumultuous culture. People are hungry for peace and if we have
peace, we can give peace.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace; He rules in peace and righteousness! He calms the restless sea and
the restless soul. He brings order to chaos. He is the reconciler who gave to us “the ministry of
reconciliation” (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). That is a great challenge!

I urge the study of Philippians chapter 4 where Paul urges peace between two leading ladies in the
church and tells them the keys to peace. But bringing peace to our unbelieving culture is a much
greater challenge. Peace can come temporarily through compromise, but that is not God’s peace.
God’s peace is in His Presence.

If you truly have His presence, then your presence will bring peace, your words will bring peace, your
countenance and smile will bring peace, and most of all, your love will bring peace. Then we just
might be recognized as “sons and daughters of God.” It will not be our rules that bring peace, though
God’s rules are vital. It will be His presence in us that brings peace.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).
Dealing with unjust persecution, lies, and sanctions leveled against us is a great test of our maturity
in Christ. That certainly does not sound “blessed” or like the favor of God. When we are persecuted
for righteousness’ sake, we are being identified with Christ. If we learn to respond as He did, then we
have become more like Him and that is indeed blessed!

What’s more, He promises that we will inherit the kingdom of heaven! We have exchanged the
earthly for the heavenly. We have endured a “cross” and had a “resurrection” that made us more than
we were; different than we once were.

When Jesus was crucified, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” It
was not only that He forgave them, but He released Himself into the Father’s hands. Forgiveness does
that for us as well.

Part of my daily prayer is for our persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide, and they are many. Their
persecutions are real not mere hurt feelings. Yet those places are often where Christianity is growing
fastest. Have they learned something that we have yet to learn?

I will close with a very brief look at Matthew 5:13-16. The Lord calls us to be “salt and light.” Salt is
very valuable and has been used for currency in times past. It not only preserves, but holds together.
It binds to the other crystals and endures cold, heat, and rain. But should it lose its flavor, it becomes
like mere sand—trodden under foot.

Jesus says that we are light that cannot be hidden. We do not merely talk about light; we are light of
and light in the world to be seen there. Remember Isaiah 6, when Isaiah saw the Lord “High and
lifted up?” Then Isaiah saw himself and cried out “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips and live
among a people of unclean lips.” Then the Lord asked, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?”
Isaiah’s response was, “Send me.”

We will not truly know the full blessings of God until we take His blessings beyond our homes and
churches into the world. Will you? If we just try, we will find His favor in hard places.

Part of our mission here at CSM is to equip and inspire you to take those steps outward. We are so
thankful for you, for your friendship, and for God’s calling on your life. How can we serve you as you
serve Him and other people? We would love to hear from you about what the Lord is doing in your
life, and how we can stand with you.

I hope you had the opportunity to see our recent “Virtual Gatlinburg” 2021 online event. You can
still view it on our Charles Simpson Ministries Facebook Page or via our CSMPublishing YouTube
Channel. Our theme was, “In Christ Alone,” and we are very encouraged by the many testimonies
we’ve heard so far. We have also added many other videos to our YouTube Channel, including the
“Time Out With Coach” series.

Because we didn’t gather in person in Gatlinburg this year, we did not receive an offering there to
support the ministry, which is a key part of our income. Some churches and individuals are giving
special gifts this month to stand with us in ministry. Would you prayerfully consider standing with us
as well? (See enclosed card for more information.) Your prayers and your financial support equip us to
reach all over the world and also to support pastors and ministries in “hard places” globally.
We are traveling in ministry this Summer and hope to see you soon! Visit csmpublishing.org for
more details. You can also follow us on Twitter @CSMinPublishing. It’s our honor to serve you and
the Lord for His glory in all the earth. Have a wonderful June!

In Christ,
Charles Simpson

About the Author:

Charles Simpson

Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.