Summary: Observations of the kind of values that Jesus outlines in the Beatitudes. (Heavily in debt to Dallas Willard for seminal thoughts!)
Last week, I talked about the need for a transformed heart, made alive by God’s Spirit. If our desire is to please God and enjoy His blessings, our heart must be renewed daily, and we must discipline our hearts so they are undivided! We need not be ‘miserable Christians’ frustrated by the gap between faith and life. The truth is that we can grow deep in Christ. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, there is a maturity of faith that leads us deeper into the Christ-life. God has rich blessings prepared for you, friend - a life of purpose, a sense of connectedness and meaning, peace, joy, and hope for tomorrow and eternity.
Begin by seeking change that goes HEART DEEP!
"I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God." (Ezekiel 11:19-20, NIV)
The Values of the Person God Prospers
So what does the heart of a person prepared to enjoy God’s blessings look like? We need not guess!
TEXT - Matthew 5:3-12
From the highest authority, Jesus Christ, we have a description of the attitudes and values of a person who is positioned to receive God’s blessings. As we read this passage, you will quickly notice that His description of a prosperous blessed life is nothing like the picture of such a life that is painted by our culture.
∙ Most of us seek after wealth and the options having money can provide.
∙ Almost universally we admire beauty and spend huge amounts of both time and money chasing it
∙ Many of us crave recognition and celebrity, willing to do almost anything to be noticed.
∙ The person who is willing to climb the ladder of success and push aside people in her way to the top,
is usually held up as a model of success.
Some people appear to have the right stuff. They are the cool people of this world; beautiful, stylish, witty, gifted with social grace. They are it in any crowd.
Ill.- My wife, a teacher, says that in among the little ones she teaches in first grade, the social pecking order is already firmly in place. The it girl sets the pace for the rest of the class. Others maneuver to be near her, to bask in her radiance.
Many remember watching the handsome, square shouldered athletic guy who moved through the hallways in our high school with almost regal majesty, admired for his masculinity, his reputed sexual conquests, and his ability to throw a completed pass on the football field. His queen was the pencil slim blond cheerleader who has the look patented, the casual toss of her head just so!
We never really outgrow this silly stuff. In every social group that I have ever been part of, there are always those who are in, who have mastered the social code, who appear to be the blessed and beautiful.
In Jesus’ words, an entirely different picture is painted. What we see in our text requires some thought to grasp, much like the artwork that is unfamiliar to our eyes requires some study for appreciation. You will understand Jesus’ words, just as your eye may take in an artist’s creation. But only as you take His words and turn them for examination, as you ponder them for application to your life, will they begin to take hold of your mind, and reshape your life, from the inside out.
Let’s take a look - READ TEXT - Matthew 5:3-12
Remember this - These are not a new set of commandments given to replace the Law handed down to Moses on Sinai! It is a mistake to approach these as rules to implement in order to gain God’s favor. Instead Jesus is describing the kind of heart that is able to receive the wealth of the Spirit, the kinds of conditions in life that most people see as making life miserable and even cause some to reject others as hopeless, beyond help. Jesus says that the kind of things He describes do not disqualify a person from knowing God’s blessings. Indeed, He says, they open a person to experience those blessings.
Jesus intends to teach those who live with Him that they need no longer strive to own the kind of life that others fight and work to build for themselves. A truly blessed life is equally available to all, regardless of brains, beauty, or social advantage for the true source of real prosperity is not what one gains for himself, but from what God gives to those who know and seek after Him.