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
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
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.
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 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
When looking up Peacekeeper in an Encyclopedia one would find some of the following; various weapons like the Colt 45 called by Sam Colt “the peacekeeper” you would also find a missile system built during Ronald Reagan’s administration by the same name. You will find various soldiers, militia, and even heavily armed Law enforcement personnel. But is this what Jesus meant by this Beatitude? Notice Jesus uses the word Peacemaker. What comes to mind when we say that?
For me, my thoughts turn to a former President Jimmy Carter. During his administration he sought to bring Peace to the Middle East by making peace between Israel and Egypt. I remember seeing Jimmy Carter, Prime Minister Begin and President Anwar Sadat, signing the Peace treaty, shaking hands, and embracing.
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
One of the greatest messages ever proclaimed was delivered by Jesus Christ and is referred to as the "Sermon on the Mount." His message is as relevant today as it was when it was first spoken. Our Lord opens this message not with a joke, but with the Beatitudes.
The Beatitudes cover the glorious hope and are rewards that Christians can expect now as well as in eternity. The second Beatitude is, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5: 4)
To mourn means to have a broken heart. In the Greek, it means to have a deep inner pain which occurs when something tragic happens, such as a death of a loved one. It also means to have a desperate sorrow over evil and suffering. In this Scripture it is mourning over sin against God and the results of it which leads to spiritual death and eternal separation from God. It is a brokenness of heart that comes from understanding the suffering Christ went through upon the cross and realizing that our sin put Him there.
True Godly sorrow is not "I'm sorry I got caught! I'm sorry I have to pay the price for my sin!" This sorrow focuses on self and simply moans over the personal consequences of it's own sin. It is total self-centeredness that does not consider the heart of God. It leads to death because it does not lead to repentance.
Those who are God's true mourners live a life of repentance, they mourn over the sins they have committed as well as over the sins of others and they have great regard of God's honor, such as Ezekiel, Isaiah and Jeremiah. The psalmist who wrote psalm 119 wept "a stream of tears because God's Word was not obeyed." ( v. 136)
True mourners sympathize over the afflictions of others. "When Jesus saw [Mary] weeping and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping" over Lazarus' death, "He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled." (John 11: 33) "Jesus wept." (John 11: 35) They also have compassion on perishing souls such as Jesus did over Jerusalem and her coming fate. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (Matthew 23: 37)
King David found comfort in the everlastin...
Blessed Are The Pure in Heart
"The Sermon on the Mount" is the first of five major discourses in the Gospel of Matthew. In this sermon, Jesus gives us another powerful statement on the fruit of those who allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives.
He gives us one of the most important themes found in Scripture, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God." (Matthew 5: 8)
Purity of heart is the main thrust of true Christianity. "Surely you desire truth in the inner parts..." (Psalms 51: 6) The pure in heart are those whose minds, motives, affections and principles have been cleansed by faith in Christ and through the washing of rebirth. (Titus 3: 5) They seek to not only have their external actions corrected, but they desire to be holy in heart. They know that although man looks on the outward appearance, God looks into a man's heart. (Galatians 2: 6; Samuel 16: 7) The pure in heart care nothing for such sights that lead man into sin.
Anyone who is single-mindedly pursuing the kingdom of God and His righteousness in God's way will be inwardly pure. Inward sham, deceit, and moral sin cannot coexist with heartfelt devotion to Christ. This Beatitude destroys hypocrisy.
Pastor Henry Booth writes, "According to the nature and character of the fountain will be the character of the stream. The heart may be compared to a reservoir which supplies a large town with its hundreds of streets and thousands of pipes. If the water be pure in the reservoir it will be conveyed in its purity through the pipes to the inhabitants; but if turbid there, it will be impure at its destination. The heart is the reservoir from which life flows. The mouth, hands, feet, looks, actions, etc. are the pipes. If the heart is pure, purity will be manifested in life."
The pure in heart will see God. The greatest happiness to a Christian is the fact that someday he will see Christ face to face in the beauty of His holiness. None but the pure in heart will be able to look upon the face of God. What pleasure could an unrepentant soul have in the vision of a holy God? God cannot behold iniquity, nor can the impure stand to look upon God's purity. The unclean will never enter into God's dwelling place.
The Bible says, "I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to what his deeds deserve." (Proverbs 17: 10)
Only the blood of Christ can cleanse you from sin. Receiving Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord will put you under His blood and your sins will be covered, forgotten and cleansed, causing you to become a new creature in Christ. This will turn you from sin-centeredness and self-centeredness to God and Christ-centeredness. This is the blessedness of becoming pure in heart.
Those who cry out to God as king David did in Psalm 51: 10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me," they will see God.
Call upon Christ today and He will forgive you and give you a fresh clean start before God. He will purify your heart so that the sins that desire to consume and destroy you will no longer have dominion in your life. Purity of heart and victory over sin will be found only in Jesus Christ!
He was a professional thief. His name stirred fear as the desert wind stirs tumbleweeds. He terrorized the Wells Fargo stage line for thirteen years, roaring like a tornado in and out of the Sierra Nevada’s, spooking the most rugged frontiersmen. In journals from San Francisco to New York, his name became synonymous with the danger of the frontier.
During his reign of terror between 1875 and 1883, he is credited with stealing the bags and the breath away from twenty-nine different stagecoach crews. And he did it all without firing a shot.
His weapon was his reputation. His ammunition was intimidation.
A hood hid his face. No victim ever saw him. No artist ever sketched his features. No sheriff could ever track his trail. He never fired a shot or took a hostage.
He didn’t have to. His presence was enough to paralyze.
Black Bart. A hooded bandit armed with a deadly weapon. What was his deadly weapon? One word, it was FEAR!
Fear has prevented many Christians from experiencing the blissful happiness that Jesus is defining in the beatitudes. Fear of death, fear of failure, fear of God, fear of tomorrow – and the list goes on and on. Fear’s goal is to create a cowardly, joyless soul. He wants you to take your eyes off the mountain peak and settle for the dull existence of the flat lands.
And by the way, remember Black Bart? As it turns out, he wasn’t anything to be afraid of, either. When the hood came off, there was nothing to fear. When ...