Beatitudes

Persecuted: For Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

Persecuted: For Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

Beatitudes, Series
Jesus declares in the final beatitude - “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10, NASB95)  The promise of this beatitude links back to the first beatitude - ““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3, NASB95). The beatitudes do not end but circle back to the beginning creating a complete picture of what the normal Christian life should look like. Experiencing persecution because of faith does not release us from being humble in spirit, broken over sin, gentle, strongly pursuing righteousness, being merciful, desiring purity of heart, and ministering reconciliation to a broken world. If anything persecution calls followers of Jesus to double down on all of these
They Shall Be Called Sons of God

They Shall Be Called Sons of God

Beatitudes, Series
Peacemaking is a costly business. While peacekeeping is the art of appeasement; giving in to simply calm the waters, or the art of the bully; forcing peace through strength. Peacemaking requires honest dialog, patience, self-sacrifice, and self-control. The events of the past few weeks and months has revealed that our world needs more peacemakers. The riots in Ferguson Missouri and Baltimore Maryland reveal the failures of peace through appeasement, welfare, and force. The regional conflicts in the Middle-east and Africa threaten to spread. The culture war in the USA has divided the Christian community in a battle between appeasement and moral absolutes. In the midst of all of these conflicts, division, hatred, and strife Jesus declares, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be
They Shall Experience God

They Shall Experience God

Beatitudes, Series
Have you noticed that there is a new food recall every couple of months? One item is recalled because of minute metal shavings that may have landed in the box. Another may be recalled due to bacterial contamination. Occasionally items are recalled because the contents are different than the labeling, like the gluten-free herbal supplement that upon scrutiny contained some wheat flour. The worst of course is when someone tampers with a product in order to cause harm. I think that these examples of impurity will help us understand Jesus’ next beatitude - “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8, NASB95) There are two aspects to consider when unwrapping what it means to be “pure in heart”. The first could be called inner moral purity and the second singlemi
They Shall Receive Mercy

They Shall Receive Mercy

Beatitudes, Series
There is a delicious paradox in Jesus’ fifth beatitude - “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7, NASB95)  Unlike the other beatitudes, this one as the quality of reaping what is sown.  The basic law of nature is if you plant a pumpkin seed you will get more pumpkins. The Apostle Paul extends this law to spiritual matters -  “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7–8, NASB95)  Whatever we sow in life tends to come back to us, whether we like it or not. Ever notice how smiles and laughter are contagious?  Or how an angry and bitter attitude can d
They Shall Be Satisfied

They Shall Be Satisfied

Beatitudes, Series
In the grand scheme of life, there are certain must-haves; air and breath, water, food, sleep, proper warmth, and the expulsion of waste. Life ends when any of these are denied for a sufficient length of time. We may think that other things should be added to that list like chocolate, coffee, a new dress, or anything else that we dramatically declare “I’ll die if I don’t get…” As much as we’d like to add to the list of base needs, that list really never changes. So, that should tell us something when Jesus declared “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6, NASB95)   To unpack what Jesus is saying it is necessary to understand righteousness. None of us are righteous before God on our own merits. We cannot satisfy the demands o
They Shall Inherit the Earth

They Shall Inherit the Earth

Beatitudes, Series
“Gently,” my dad encouraged as I picked up one of the chirping balls of yellow fluff out of the box. The baby chicks had arrived earlier that day from the hatchery. They were so small, soft, and delicate that care had to be taken. We carefully lifted each chick out of the shipping box and placed it in a small pen prepared with special bedding and several heat lamps. Keep this picture in mind as we look at Jesus’ third observational promise of the beatitudes - “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5, NASB95) Gentleness is that quality of meekness and humility that should be present in our hearts, our words, and our actions. Contrary to common sense, gentleness is not a position of weakness but of tempered and controlled strength. Gentleness is one of the
They Shall Be Comforted – Part 2

They Shall Be Comforted – Part 2

Beatitudes, Series
To unfold the rest of Jesus’ second beatitude - “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4, NASB95) - I’d like to paint you a picture.  Consider a boy in a baseball uniform. He’s returning to the dugout after his turn at bat. The bat is no longer poised and ready to strike but is being drug through the dirt in defeat. His head is down and his shoulders slumped forward. He sees nothing but that last failed swing, he hears nothing but the thud of the ball against the catcher’s mitt. Tears roll down his cheeks as he plods back to the bench, his mind frozen by the umpire’s last call. To understand the boy’s emotions we must look into his heart. For the boy’s tears are not from feelings of injustice, rejection, or the sting of personal failure. It’s not because he
They Shall Be Comforted – Part 1

They Shall Be Comforted – Part 1

Beatitudes, Series
When we began this series I had no idea that when it came time to write the article on the second beatitude - blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted - that I’d be attending a funeral. In a few hours family and friends will gather to pay their respects, share memories, and offer comfort to each other at the passing of my grandmother, Hulda Heinold. Perhaps on another day I’ll share more about Grandma Heinold, her love of Jesus, and her gentleness of spirit. Today it is better to take up the second promise of Jesus. The promise of comfort for those who mourn extends to all those who have suffered loss in their lives. The death of a loved one is the most obvious but other losses are also included. Loss of a job, loss of health, and financial disaster all create the feel
For Theirs Is the Kingdom of Heaven

For Theirs Is the Kingdom of Heaven

Beatitudes, Series
One day Jesus walked up on a hillside and sat down. After His disciples gathered around Him He began to teach. That teaching, in Matthew 5:1- 7:29, is called the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus begins with nine observational promises, often called the beatitudes. My plan is to unwrap each of those promises in the coming weeks. Before we begin however we need to consider the first word in each of those nine promises - blessed. Some equate blessing with happiness, prosperity, and being fortunate. Those are okay for as far as they go. I think that the deeper meaning, however, lies in God’s grace and favor because each blessing is a freely given gift from God.    Over the years I’ve heard several different understandings or frameworks upon which to hang these verses. They’ve been called the “