Delivered on June 26, 2016
And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
What does “Beatitudes” mean? The term, beatitudes comes from a Latin word, a noun which means “happiness”. What? Look at the context of these verses. How can one be happy? Each Beatitude consists of two phrases, the condition and the result. Blessed...this means more than the emotional state represented by the word “happy”, It includes spiritual well being, having the approval of God, and thus a destiny of delight in communion with the Creator. ( Adlib: Use happy on each verse )
Jesus was a wonderful teacher, and still is. He had the knack of making His teaching on the Kingdom of God interesting and easily understood by the use of graphic pictures. Easily understood, but a little hard to accept. But in reality these are the things that will mold us into His image. Becoming that better person that is approved by God. A new outlook...a new attitude on life, which calls to be “transformed”.
These eight qualities can only be lived out by Christians, one who has been born again. These spiritual standards come about only through total surrender to the Savior. Jesus is not saying, “Live like this in order to be saved.” He’s basically saying, “Live like this because you are saved.” Conduct must flow out of character on every believer.
A Christian is one who embraces and embodies the Beatitudes. Being “happy”, Regardless of circumstance. Again, we can read it and read it, over and over again, we can easily understand what Jesus is teaching, but accepting it is a little hard to accept. Another way to look at it is that if you want to spot a Christ-follower in a crowd, look for these eight character qualities.
The Beatitudes are a package deal, not something to pick and choose from. Along with the Fruit of the Spirit that is to ripen in every believer, a Christian should, and must, display each of these character traits. They are not just for the “spiritual elite,” but are for every believer. In addition, these are not eight separate groups of disciples, some who are meek and others who hunger for God. It’s easy to make the mistake of saying, “I’m just not merciful” or “I’m just not a peacemaker.” Oswald Chambers refers to these words as lovely and poetic, yet their impact is that of “spiritual torpedoes.”
We can’t pick the easy ones and ignore the difficult ones, like being pure and being prepared for persecution. Incidentally, many of the Beatitudes are the exact opposite of what we want to do. Again like i said, “hard to accept” While easy to appreciate, they are difficult to apply. John Stott writes: “The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it is the least understood, and certainly the least obeyed”.
We must recognize that the sermon is directed to the disciples and through them the whole body of believers today. The sermon addresses both inward motives, and outward conduct, calling the “adopted sons of God”, to reflect the character of our Heavenly Father. These legitimate demands set the bar so high, that no one except Jesus, the king Himself, can fulfill them flawlessly. We are therefore driven to the grace and mercy of God both for forgiveness, in our failure, and for the Spirit’s strength when our faith and faithfulness grows weak.
A new attitude or outlook on life needs to change. Let us break these verses down one by one, and see if we are able to accept each the truth in how we live our lives, when it comes to being changed. Again...easily understood, but hard to accept. Hence the title, “ Accepting the hard blessings”.
Change of attitude towards self, Verse 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. Every human being, except for Jesus is spiritually destitute in God’s sight, but only those who see this poverty, who mourns over sin and thirst for righteousness, will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Change of attitude towards sin, Verse 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted” The context indicates that these are mourning over sin, and evil, especially their own, and over the failure of mankind to give proper glory to God. Reminder of the verse that says...
“every inclination of the thoughts of a mans heart was only evil all the time”.
One must mourn over his or her weakness when it comes to sin. A new attitude towards sin needs to be applied. It should be hated. “For they shall be comforted” God, by His mercy, and grace, gives comfort to those whom God has drawn to His Son, one who has received Gods forgiveness.
Change of attitude towards meekness, Verse 5:5 “Blessed are the meek,For they shall inherit the earth. This beatitude resembles and is probably based on Psalms 37:11...
But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
This meekness in view is an attitude of humility and submission to God. Our pattern for meekness is Jesus. Same Greek word for “meek”, is “gentle”, One who submits to the Fathers will as mentioned in...
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Now...verse 6-8, tells us of a new attitude towards God, and the things from above, things of God. A new attitude that is upward, A change in desires.
v. 6 This is an insatiable desire for God and the things of God. It’s not the kind of thirst you have after playing ball on a hot day…it’s the kind of thirst you would have after days in the desert without even a drop of water. It’s not the kind of hunger you have when you’ve missed lunch…it’s more like when you’ve gone several days w/out eating! Perhaps better English words to use would be ‘parched’ and ‘starving’.
Jesus says, blessed are those who have that kind of hunger and thirst for God! One of the proofs of a true salvation is that you have a new desire to know God and to make sure you are right with God! We all drift away sometimes, but there’s something that pulls us back when we have this kind of hunger and thirst.
As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
This is a hunger that motivates you to action, it demands to be fed, and each meals makes you want another! The person who really wants something doesn’t just sit around waiting for it to come to them…no, they are motivated to ‘make it happen!’ Why? Because they know why, and who it is that they hunger for. This is the kind of hunger only God can fill!
How much do you crave for God? Of course, only you can answer that question. Do you long to please Him, more than living only to please yourselves? Do you desire His applause more than the approval of your friends, or families? If you want God’s blessing more than anything else, you can have it. But first you must want to please Him above everything else. “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all this things will be given to you”. How badly do you want His blessing? After reading the Beatitudes, And knowing that at times we have to be in that state of challenge, and in the end the result of a blessing. Now...how much of that are you willing follow? Better yet, how much are you willing to accept? Cannot pick one from the eight, its a package deal. And the One offers it, is God Himself.
Listen...our heavenly Father loves to give His children gifts, a we call them, “blessings”. The number One proof of that, is by God sending His only Son as a sacrifice for you and I.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
The general sinfulness of humanity is assumed here, since even those who call God “Father”, are said to be evil. Yet, by Gods grace, which flawed human fathers meet their children’s requests in love. How much more will God the Father, who treats even enemies kindly, which includes you and I at one point, answer His children’s prayers.
These gifts from the Father are the things Jesus has been describing as necessary for disciples, righteousness, sincerity, purity, humility, and wisdom. Those who knows their need for them, will ask God for them. Hence the verse 6-8 of the Beatitudes, which we will receive coming from above.
Being “Pure in heart” means “sincere.” It’s being w/out hypocrisy and w/ nothing hidden. No doubt this was for the Pharisees, who were only concerned w/ outward appearance, but Jesus said they were like whitewashed tombs, but inside were dead men’s bones! They were like the cup that’s clean on the outside but filthy inside.
We could think of it as an elegant, fancy restaurant, pristine and spotless in the dining room, but the health dept. comes in and shuts them down because of what they see in the kitchen! To sum up being “Pure in heart” means “What you see is what you get!” What i mean is, if you see a pagan, you expect them to act like pagans. You see a Christian, you expect to see Jesus!
Again...these are things that can only happen, when it comes from above, when one has been given the New Life. You cannot be a good actor, and give your utmost performance and think that you can live your life in that role that you’re suppose to play. No! The real you, will come out. “seek first His kingdom”. And receive that changed life that comes from above.
Don’t hold things in, be frank, be honest, ask questions when you need to, ask God who joyfully gives. This is really doing yourself a favor…you’re keeping a clean slate, making things right with God or others when you’ve done wrong. This helps keep your vision clear, much like wipers to the windshield. Notice the promise... “They shall see God”.
We know this is true as a future event, but I believe it applies to us now. Jesus said to remove the “plank” from our own eye and then we’ll be able to see clearly! And then we can sense His presence like never before, and see Him in more reality than we ever could through the muddy waters that result from an impure heart.
To be pure in heart is to be true to yourself as well. Again, the attitudes of the Beatitudes should reign in our hearts, again its a package deal, cant pick and choose the easy ones, and ignore the hard. It’s a great chance to be honest to yourself and sincere before God. If you already know the things that will disappoint your relationship with God, or ruin the relationship you have with the people around you, then don’t ignore the fact that God will listen, and will move mountains to change you from the inside out.
It’s not enough to just enter the kingdom of God…we need to learn to express it. God will ‘show through’ and give us a new attitude upward, getting right with God, and outward, dealing with others differently, and inward, being true to myself and to God in the inward parts!
Verse 9, of the Beatitudes...
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
A peacemaker tries to eliminate strife. There is a great need for these today in our nation, as we can openly see in the news, social media, and so on...but specifically in our homes and in our churches…why? Because there’s a lot of troublemakers! And troublemakers are counterbalanced by peacemakers.
Listen...as i have mentioned, “in our homes”. Don’t be to quick yo be lead by emotions, what i mean is that don’t be to quick to start a fight, because of a bad day!
James 1:19-20 (NIV)
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Though the Christian community places high regards on the talent of eloquent speech, James places the accent on listening. It is the person who listens to the word of God intently who will progress in godliness.True hearing of the Word must lead to godly actions.
Some people have in their nature, wherever they go, to just be disturbers of the peace, and yes, sadly...even in the church, they want to be the center of the storm, a whirlwind of strife and tension and animosity…but Jesus said not to be a troublemaker…be a peacemaker!
In the church, that is one thing that is hard to control. Why? Well, how do you deal with the trouble maker, when your goal is to build up, and not tear down. Keep in mind, we’re all under construction. Everybody deserves that chance to be changed by God. If not...in my experience, God is always the One removes the threat. God protects His flock. Like i said earlier, you cannot put on act for a long time and not show the real you.
The first sin recorded in the Bible separated man from God. The second sin separated man from man. ( Abel and Cain )Evil towards one another. But when Jesus came it was as the Prince of Peace, helping make man once again right with his God and with his fellow man! Now that I’m saved, and a citizen of God’s kingdom, a child of the King, I ought to be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker.
So... how can I become a peacemaker? I must take a new look at me. There lies, being true to yourself. Hence, “pure heart”. Troublemakers are always exceedingly selfish. It’s always about ‘how will this affect me, what will happen to me, what’s in it for me,is this fair to me, am I getting my rights and my just due?
A peacemaker doesn’t have to let people walk all over him, and cower in a corner, always giving in or backing down. That would be extreme.
A peacemaker doesn’t think little of himself…he doesn’t think of himself at all! They can be active and take charge, but not for selfish purposes, but only for what is right, and for the well being of others. Building each other up.
We must take a new outlook on how things may seem. We have to learn to see others through the eyes of Jesus’. Then and only then, when we find it hard to say, how can they be like that? Why do they do that? The peacemaker knows why…it’s because they are human! And the best of men are still men at best! Still in the flesh, still under construction. The fact still remains, we all make...and will make mistakes.
The reason and outcome of being persecuted for Christ sake...
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
It is at this point we must be careful in our interpretation of this passage of Scripture. The blessing and consolation of these verses is not promised to every person who suffers, nor is it for every person who suffers for the sake of religion. Much has been done in the name of religion that has resulted in persecution of some type, that does not necessarily fall within the scope of these verses. Religion does not necessarily mean, being in Christ.
These verses do not say "Blessed are they which are persecuted because they’re obnoxious." These verses do not say "Blessed are they which are persecuted because they were arrogant and abusive in their attempts to witness."These verses do not say "Blessed are they which are persecuted because they had a ‘Im holier type” of attitude." We can bring endless suffering upon ourselves and can create difficulties for ourselves simply because we act foolishly or self-righteously. We can in so many ways, that we can receive persecution. But it does not mean, that we did it for Christ sake. ( See the difference? ) Adlib...I’m Being persecuted. What did you do?
Ohh...I was being an Idiot! Excuse the language, but do you see what i mean?
1 Peter 4:14-16 (NIV)
14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
It is not merely those who are persecuted that are blessed, but those who are persecuted for "righteousness’ sake. Verse 15, if one is suffering because, of murder, thief, or being a criminal, then you should face persecution. If you have been already found guilty. To be righteous means to be Christlike. Those are blessed who are persecuted for being like Christ.
Jesus was not persecuted because He was just doing good, but because He was different. There was something about Him that condemned those in the world. His righteousness exposed their unrighteousness and it was their feelings of guilt that brought about their persecution. They hated Him for what He stood for. And that is by doing the Fathers will. The world persecutes Christians today for the same reason they persecuted Christ. It’s because we’re different. We have a completely different nature than that of the unbeliever. At the time of salvation, the believer becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus. We begin to live our lives differently. We begin to live and demonstrate a life of righteousness. We don’t compromise with the world and its sinful behavior. We realize that we owe everything to Christ and that we are not our own, but that we were bought with a price, therefore we seek to live our lives for the One who died so that we might live. For this reason we are persecuted. What did Jesus say?
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
The opposition between the world and Gods elect is stated in the strongest terms. The worlds hatred is not due to anything disciples do wrong, but to what we do right. What i mean by doing what is right is...what is right in Gods eyes. God has His standards on right and wrong. Christians are being persecuted because of having that connection with Christ. “He is the vine, we are the branches”.
Beatitudes illustrate the spiritual journey from the time a man realizes he’s lost to the time he begins to develop signs of Christ likeness. We saw first of all that it begins with being "poor in spirit." To be "poor in spirit" means to acknowledge our total spiritual poverty before the Lord and our utter dependence upon Him. From that point, we begin to "mourn" our condition. This mourning is a deep and profound mourning as our hearts are broken before God. It is godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Our poorness of spirit and our mourning lead to meekness which is a broken will and receptive heart before God.
Next comes a hungering and thirsting after righteousness. At this point in the Beatitudes we have been made to see our deep need of a righteousness which we do not possess. It is at this point that we call out to the Lord, placing our faith and trust in Him as Lord and Savior. What follows this initial hunger and thirst for righteousness is a continual desire for the same. The newly converted soul is no longer satisfied with what the world has to offer and begins to hunger and thirst after godly things. After Godly Things.
Church...receiving a blessing from above is and will always be a good thing. Accepting what it is, is always the hardest.
Pastor Richard Santos
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