Jan. 15 – (Matt. 5:6) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.” What is righteousness? It describes God’s essential nature of absolute purity, truth, justice, and love. Our consuming passion for righteousness is for God Himself, for companionship with Him, emulating Him.  It is knowing and doing the will of God in all of life.  God’s righteousness came to cover our unrighteousness through Jesus’ blood.  So, we now have purity, truth, justice and love as we have faith in the righteousness that Jesus has given us.  As we hunger and thirst for God, our mind is renewed little by little and we are changed in our thoughts and attitudes and actions to be purer, more truthful, and have more love with others. 

This blessing is not for those who arrived at righteousness. Rather it is for those who are deeply desiring it. Jesus condemned those who were satisfied with their relationship with God and commended those who hungered and thirst for God.   If you are dissatisfied with your life…congratulations!  The discontent you feel is a sign that you are a special, chosen person.  The Lord is invading your life!  Wanting you to have more…of Him!  Desire (hunger and thirst) is essential to satisfaction (being filled).

Jan. 16 – (Matt. 5:6) Have you ever really desired something?  That’s all you can think about.  You are so close…you just keep working on it.  Here’s something small I can compare this Beatitude to: Over Christmas holiday I try to have a Christmas puzzle out for anyone to work on.  To be honest, it’s not usually my thing but my sister-in-law loves them and usually visits a couple days.  Anyway, when she leaves us, the puzzle is not usually done and she always “encourages” us to finish it before we put it away.  As I get into it and begin finding pieces that fit, I eagerly continue.  There is always one missing piece I know I can find if I just search long enough. Sometimes I have to go to another area (leave that spot alone for a while), but eventually I am back there still searching….  It is always so satisfying when I finally come across that one piece that fills that part of the picture!  To me that is a small picture of the hungering and thirsting part of righteousness.  It is also the feeling of being satisfied. 

Jan. 17 – (Matt. 5:7) “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” Who needs mercy? How often and how much? Does a child who has misbehaved? Do his parents, who have not set up loving disciplines? Does the grandparents who have not been supportive?  What about the person who caused you pain or the one who caused them pain?  We all need mercy.  Let’s look at a parable Jesus taught (Matt. 18:21-25).  The servant was forgiven a million dollars (just a number) by a king.  The servant then does not forgive (show mercy) to someone else who owes him $10.  It seems ludicrous.  How depraved was this guy?  How hard hearted?  Now let’s look at the Mercy shown us in that while we were still sinners, Christ came and died for us. Yet we go and hold fellow man accountable to “small sins” done to us.  SELAH!  (I think that’s enough to grasp today.)

Jan. 18 – (Matt. 5:7) What is mercy?  William Barclay said, it means “the ability to get right inside the other person’s skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind, and feel things with his feelings.” It involves emotions and most people avoid it.  How far are we willing to go to receive the fulfillment of this Beatitude (mercy)?  It’s interesting that this Beatitude follows the Beatitude to thirst and hunger for righteousness. Righteousness, admirable as it is, is always in danger of becoming hard; mercy is tender.  Righteousness can easily turn inward, but mercy flows out.  Righteousness can tend to become impatient with those who are not as hungry and as diligent in their quest; mercy is patience personified.  After we have learned how to hunger and thirst for righteousness, we are ready to go on to mercy.  Mercy, one might even say, is the higher righteousness.  (J. Ellsworth Kalas, Beatitudes from the Back Side)

Jan 19 – (Matt. 5:8) “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Do you really want to see God? I’m sure you are looking forward to that in Heaven, but do you want to see God here on earth? Be honest.  Am I willing to do what it takes to be pure in heart so I can see God here on earth?  We certainly will get no encouragement from the world.  It is made fun of and looked down upon as weak.

                Let’s look at the meaning of the words in this Beatitude. The Greek word for ‘pure’ is katharos which meant clean.  It was used to describe soiled clothing that had been washed or grain that had been winnowed and sifted and thus rid of chaff.  The Greeks also applied this word to describe an army after it had been purged of all its discontented, cowardly, or ineffective soldiers. Hmmm. What about the ‘purity of heart’? When we speak of purity of heart in its biblical sense, we mean thought and conduct, body, mind, emotions. It’s the motivation out of which we conduct all parts of our lives. That motivation comes from “willing” only one thing. Purity of heart means an utter singleness of life and purpose.

Jan. 20 – (Matt. 5:8) Quiet contemplation is desperately needed on a daily dosage yet we choose never to be quiet long enough to hear what God is saying to us about being pure in heart (or any other godly attribute).  Between car radios, tv, and phones, etc. we choose distraction (even if it’s Christian distraction).  I have to say the Lord has been dealing with me on this.  It is a work in progress.  But as I take more time to focus solely on Him, I think I see Him clearer.

                I will make today’s writing short, so you have some time to “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” 

Jan. 21 – (Matt. 5:6-8) As we finish this week. I would like us to go back over these 3 Beatitudes.  What is the Lord speaking to you about?  What new insights has He shown you that He wants you to put into your everyday actions? What steps do you need to take to make that part of your life?  Reading His Word is not just to say we have read it.  It is the “Living Word” that will renew our mind as we study and apply what He is specifically saying to each one of us.  You go, Pilgrim!