Illustration results for the beatitudes
Blessed are the merciful. I learned the truth of this Beatitude from Henri Nouwen, a priest who used to teach at Harvard University. At the height of his career, Nouwen moved from Harvard to a community called Daybreak, near Tornonto, in order to take on the demanding chores required by his friendship with a man named Adam. Nouwen now ministers not to the intellectuals but to a young man who is considered by many a useless person who should have been aborted.
Nouwen describes his friend: “Adam is a 25-year-old man who cannot speak, cannot dress or undress himself, cannot walk alone, cannot eat without much help. He does not cry or laugh. Only occasionally does he make eye contact. His back is distorted. His arm and leg movements are twisted. He suffers from severe epilepsy and, despite heavy medication, sees few days without grand-mal seizures. Sometimes, as he grows suddenly rigid, he utters a howling groan. On a few occasions I’ve seen one big tear roll down his cheek.
“It takes me about an hour and a half to wake Adam up, give him his medication, carry him to his bath, wash him, shave him, clean his teeth, dress him, walk him to the kitchen, give him his breakfast, put him in his wheelchair and bring him to the place where he spends most of his day with therapeutic exercises.”
On a visit to Nouwen in Toronto, I watched him perform that routine with Adam, and I must admit I had a fleeting as to whether this was the best use of his time. I have heard Henri Nouwen speak, and have read many of his books. He has much to offer. Could not someone else take over the menial task of caring for Adam? When I cautiously broached the subject with Nouwen himself, he informed me that I had completely misinterpreted what was going on. “I am not giving up anything,” he insisted. “It is I, not Adam, who gets the main benefit from our friendship.”
Then Nouwen began listing for me all the benefits he has gained. The hours spent with Adam, he said, have given him an inner peace so fulfilling that it makes most of his other, more high-minded tasks seem boring and superficial by contrast. Early on, as he sat beside that helpless child-man, he realized how marked with rivalry and competition, how obsessive, was his drive for success in academia and Christian ministry. Adam taught him that “what makes us human is not our mind but our heart, not our ability to think but our ability to love.” From Adam’s simple nature, he had glimpsed the “emptiness that desert monks achieved only after much searching and discipline.
All during the rest of our interview, Henri Nouwen circled back to my question, as if he could not believe I could ask such a thing. He kept thinking of other ways he had benefited from his relationship with Adam. Truly, he was enjoying a new kind of spiritual peace, acquired not within the stately quadrangles of Harvard, but by the bedside of incontinent Adam. I left Daybreak convicted of my own spiritual poverty, I who so carefully arrange my writer’s life to make it efficient and single-focused. The merciful are indeed blessed, I learned, for they will be shown mercy.
Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1995), 119-121
Numbers of the Bible”
The number one is for God. We must begin with number one or we cannot have number two or any other number. Mathematically speaking we cannot get anywhere without the number one. We must begin with God.
The number two is for man. Man as an individual. God made man and Christ is “called the second man.”
Three is the number for the Trinity. God is a triune God; Father, Son and Spirit. The atmosphere, which we live in, is a trinity of oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen. The tabernacle was a trinity with its court, holy place, and Holiest of Holies.
The first chapter of Revelation is full of trinities of Truth.
V. 2 – The Word of God, The testimony of Jesus, All things that He saw.
V. 3 – Read, Hear and Keep.
V. 4 – Which is, Which was, and Which is to come.
V. 5 – The Faithful Witness, The First begotten of the dead, The Prince of the kings of the earth.
V.5, 6 – Loved us, Washed us, Made us kings and priests.
V. 7 – Every eye shall see him, They also which pierced him, All kindreds of the earth.
V. 9 – Tribulation, Kingdom, Patience
V. 18 – I am He that liveth, Was dead, Alive for evermore.
V. 19 – Things seen (Past), Things which are (Present), Things which shall be (Future).
Who would dare to contradict the trinity as these Ten appear in one chapter alone, chapter one of Revelation. Certainly no Spirit filled believer or student of scripture would not affirm its validity.
Four is the number of humanity as a whole. There were four men in the Ark, four men in the fiery furnace, four on the mount of Transfiguration. The four points of the compass comprise the whole of humanity in all the earth.
Five is the number for grace – grace accepted or grace rejected. There are five wise and foolish virgins.
The number six is the number for evil. A man with six toes and six fingers is called a wicked man in the Bible. Nebuchadnezzra’s image was sixty feet high and six feet in circumference and six musical instruments called the people to worship. The number for the Anti-Christ is six hundred sixty-six. This is set forth the trinity of evil, the climax of wickedness, and the culmination of iniquity. There can not be anything worse than 666.
Seven is the number for perfection. This number is frequently mentioned in scripture: seven churches, seven stars, seven heads, seven horns, seven eyes, seven Spirits of god, the seven branches of the candlestick.
In Judges, the seventh book of the Bible, there are seven departures from God; seven times the people repented and seven times Jehovah delivered his people from their enemies.
Eight is the number for that which is New. There are eight beatitudes which set forth something entirely new. Everything good in this sinful world owes its presence and existence to the Word of God. The resurrection of Christ and of many of the saints took place on the eighth day. Here indeed and in truth was something new.
Ten is the number of completeness. Jacob’s wages were changed ten times, which sets forth complete disappointment outside the will of God and his Promised Land. Eliezer, the servant, took ten camels with him when he started from home in order to obtain a bride for Isaac. God gave his people Ten Commandments. Daniel and his three friends were proved ten days and at the end of the test were ten times better than the others. Christ gave the parable of the ten pounds and ten talents. Christ healed ten lepers. The dragon of Daniel and Revelation had ten horns, which represent ten kings. The tenth or the tithe is the Lord’s.
The longest sermon on record was preached by Clinton Lacy of West Richland, Washington in February of 1955. It took 48 hours and 18 minutes to deliver it. Small wonder someone proposed the adoption of a new Beatitude: "Blessed is the preacher whose train of thought has a caboose." E. Eugene Williams
I saw it again this last summer - the small cathedral in Bethlehem that marks the birthplace of the Savior. Behind a high altar in the church is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps. There are two entries for pilgrims. One is through the main church, allowing you to admire the grandeur of the ancient building. The other is from Manger Square through a small entry. There is one stipulation. You have to stoop. That’s right, the door is so low you can’t go in standing.
What is true of the entry to the birthplace of Christ is true of those who walk in gentleness - it can’t be done standing, one must stoop and bow. You have to be on your knees if you want to manifest the third beatitude...
Blessed Are The Meek
As you study the character traits described in the Beatitudes, you can't help but realize one thing; these qualities are by no means natural to the human spirit. They are very foreign. Poverty of spirit, true mourning over personal sins against God and meekness does not come to us naturally.
The greatest preacher of all time, Jesus Christ, proclaimed "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." (Matt. 5:5)
The Greek word for "meek" means to be gentle; to be strong, very strong, yet be humble and tender. It is a man with all the emotions and ability to take and conquer, but he is able control himself in all ways. It is a state of being disciplined -- a man who is disciplined because he is God-controlled.
W. E. Vine writes: "Meekness is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercise of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good and therefore without disputing and resisting."
True meekness is a submissive and trusting attitude toward God. It is an attitude which considers all things that come your way as being for God's good purpose in your life. Meekness looks beyond circumstances, no matter how upsetting and hurtful, and humbly bows the knee to the Sovereign God.
Jesus is the perfect picture of someone who was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4: 1) and lived a life of true meekness. He had all the power needed to prevent His arrest and crucifixion, yet He surrendered to God's will. (Matthew 26: 53 - 45) He fully understood the sovereignty of God and the results of the free will of man. Jesus said to Pilate, "You would have no authority over Me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." (John 19: 11) Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot would betray Him. God used it to accomplish His plan of redemption, and yet Judas was and will be fully accountable before God. (Acts 1: 15 -19)
Man has strength to ignore God's will or to take God's gifts, talents, and abilities and use them for self or he may choose to use God's good blessings to glorify the Lord. Without meekness, he will squander what is given to him by God to gain earthly wealth, self-satisfaction and fame (little or great).
The Beatitude of meekness epitomizes the results of kneeling in total submission to God's will. It comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit and from allowing Him to produce Christ-like character in us. Are you craving that submissive spirit of meekness that bows and responds to the mighty sovereignty of God with joyful obedience? Meekness says, "not my will, but Yours be done." (Mathew 26: 39)
The Bible says, "...the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace." (Proverbs 37:11) Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29) The meek will rule and reign with Christ upon this earth someday. (2 Tim. 2:12)
True meekness is not a natural character trait. It can only be obtained by knowing Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord. Invite Christ into your life today a discover the joyful surrender of true meekness.
Blessed Are The Persecuted
Matthew 5:10-12 says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
We are not to be surprised if people in the world hate Christians. (1 John 3: 13) Matthew Henry wrote, "Whom Christ blesses the world curses. The heirs of heaven have never been the darlings of this world, since the old enmity was put between the seed of woman (Eve) and of the serpent (Devil). Why did Cain hate Abel? Because Abel's works were righteous."
Persecution is a great paradox and a part of Christianity. Therefore it is put last of the eight Beatitudes. Jesus gives mention of it twice in His opening statements in the Sermon on the Mount because persecution is certain. In fact, "...everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..." (2 Timothy 3: 12)
Righteousness, proper living before God, is an offense to people who live for the flesh, the world and the Devil. True holy living by the children of God convicts those who live for themselves.
Persecution, which is seen by an all-knowing God, comes in many forms and is found in every nation. Christians have been fined, imprisoned, banished, stripped of their estates, scourged, tortured, falsely accused and killed. There is no evil so black and horrid as false accusations and the persecution of Christians who truly walk uprightly before God.
Today's text does not encourage Christians to seek persecution. But, neither does it permit retreating from it, sulking or retaliation.
Christians who are persecuted because of righteousness will have a great reward in heaven. They may not understand the purposes nor see the benefits of it down here on earth, but there will be a great reward in the future life. Persecuted Christians who are fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit, can be like Peter and the other apostles when they left the Sanhedrin "...rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name [of Christ]." (Acts 5: 14)
Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer were the two American Christian aide workers being held by the Taliban under threat of death during the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on America and the resulting U.S. attack on Afghanistan. They open their book, "Prisoners of Hope" with these words, "To the Afghan people whom we so dearly love." These words reflect the heart of Christians who are willing to risk persecution and perhaps death for the sake of taking the gospel to the lost, those who are without Christ as personal Savior and Lord. They also wrote; "To our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Your everlasting love healed our hearts and set us free. May we honor and love you with all that we are for all of our days."
Having the "Righteousness" of God is to have a surrendered heart to His will, regardless of the cost. Blessed are those who will undergo persecution for the sake of the righteousness of Christ.
THE BEATITUDES: AN INSTRUMENT PANEL
On July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was killed when the Piper Saratoga light aircraft he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. His wife, Carolyn Bessette, and sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, were also killed. The intended flight path was along the coastline of Connecticut and across Rhode Island Sound to his final destination of Martha’s Vineyard Airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that the crash was caused by "the pilot’s failure to maintain control of his airplane during a descent over water at night, which was a result of spatial disorientation." The cause of his disorientation was hazy conditions which existed on the night of the fatal crash, coupled with the fact that he was insufficiently trained to fly using the instrument panel. Especially at night, haze can lead to disorientation for pilots. Other pilots flying similar routes on the night of the accident reported no visual horizon while flying over the water because of the complete fog which made it impossible to know up from down. Because of the conditions he thought he was flying in the right direction, but instead he flew his plane downward until he was in a death spiral. He thought he was going up when he was in reality going down.
Kennedy, like many people, thought he was going the right direction even though the haze made it impossible to distinguish between heaven and earth. He did not rely on the instruments, but on his gut feeling. Jesus has given us an instrument panel to guide us and help us to distinguish between heaven and earth. That is what the Beatitudes are for. This is what Jesus intended to do: get us headed in the opposite direction of what we think (and everyone is saying) is the right direction. The beatitudes help us to remember that we are headed for another world and that the rules are different, We cannot rely on our gut feeling about what is right or wrong, up or down. We need to believe in the instrument panel we have been given to guide us as we live in another kingdom.
And then the scripture will be fulfilled that says, "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.'" Matthew 25:34
In the movie "Serenity" the crew of the ship Serenity find a planet that was last known to be filled with crowds of people all working together to build a world. The ship lands on the planet only to discover the streets empty of people. When the crew begins to investigate they discover the inhabitants dead at there work stations, lying dead on the floor, and dead asleep in bed.
They finally discover the terrible truth behind all of the deaths on the planet after listening to a tape left by a previous government ship. The government had discovered a new drug that brought satisfaction to the people and they had used it as a test drug on the people of the planet.
The drug did bring satisfaction to every one. The problem: they were so satisfied they no longer had ambition, drive, hunger, thirst, or any of the natural God given warnings that alert us to move. They were so satisfied they wouldn’t even get up to get food or drink. They had all died right where they were when the drug got into their system. They died of complete satisfaction right wh...
The Church & Education: The average Protestant church offers classes, or education on 4.6 different topics in a typical year. The most common topics taught are for new members (60%) followed by basics of Christianity (47%) how to study the Bible (43%), evangelism (39%), spiritual growth/renewal (37%) and effective prayer (35%). (Facts & Trends 11-12/05)
Bob Pritchard said, "When Jesus gave His beatitude, He was actually quoting Psalm 37:11: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” The psalmist David contrasted the meek with the wicked. “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be” (Psalm 37:10). The way of the meek is the way of righteousness. The wicked “shall not be,” but the meek shall “inherit the earth.” The possession for the faithful is the “new earth” described by John the seer in Revelation 21. Just as the children of Israel inherited the promised land, the meek follower of Christ will inherit the new heaven and new earth. We just need to follow in the footsteps of the meek and gentle Jesus.