Jan. 8 – (Matt. 5:1-2) William Barclay – The Beatitudes are not “nebulous prophecies of some future bliss; they are congratulations on what is.”

                Let’s try to get a better understanding of what the Beatitudes are before we study each one by itself.  “Blessed” or “happy” does not mean what we usually define it to mean.  Happiness for most people consider it to be getting what they want.  Yet, when it is gotten, the happiness does not stick around. The word for “blessed” in the OT was inseparable from the blessing of God. “Blessing” there contained three powerful ingredients: belonging to God, being His beloved, and brokenness resulting in absolute trust. In the NT, the word for “blessed” or “happy” meant sufficiency, satisfaction, and security.

 Jesus is giving us a whole fresh look at eight truths that will bring lasting “happiness” or “blessing” as we view and live life through His eyes. The last part of each beatitude gives us the secret to receiving the “blessing” of God. Lloyd J. Ogilvie said it much better than I can. “This is Christ’s self-portrait for us to behold.  His life is incarnated in the Beatitudes; His death defeated the force of evil which debilitate them; His resurrection presence with us enables us to live them.  The life of true happiness our Lord envisioned for us is the life He wants to live in us.”  Let’s study and practice HIS kingdom rules!

Jan. 9 – (Matt. 5:3) The one enemy of receiving this blessing is pride, spiritual pride.  The most subtle and serious form of spiritual pride is the desire to be adequate for God on our own (Pharisees were good at this). Often, we deal with hurts and difficulties on our own strength so that we can offer the Lord a problem-free life.  If happiness is the freedom to holler “Help,” we miss a lot of help available. Many of us can give God glory for the gifts and abilities we have and give, but we often hang onto the aching problems, thinking if we loved the Lord more or were more spiritual, we wouldn’t have the feelings, resentments, or heartaches we sometimes endure.  The thing we missed was the gift of crises to discover our own inadequacy and the Lord’s overwhelming sufficiency.  The problem is not “I need to be weak (poor) in the world in order to be blessed.” Our flesh is weak (poor) when relating in the world. Only by recognizing it is poor and relying on Jesus’ strength will we be blessed (happy).

Jan. 10 – (Matt. 5:3) There is so very much in these Beatitudes, I really can’t cover them in one day.  So, on the second day, let’s go over that verse once again and see what God would have to say to you personally.  Do a little study of your own as you listen to Him speak to your heart.  Write it down so you will remember.  You can even send it to me if you are comfortable with that.  Let’s grow deeper!

Jan. 11 – (Matt. 5:4) What are we mourning?  Is it death of a loved one? Is it pain inflicted by someone? Those are legitimate reasons to mourn, but let’s take a different perspective. Let’s look at this verse as mourning our sins. When we mourn for our sins, we gain a new sensitivity to the rights and feelings of others.  We are talking about mourning our sins, not the consequences of our sins. When we have a concern for the harm our sins may do to some other human being and to the heart and purposes of God, our mourning gets a whole different perspective and quality.  Without this perspective, we focus on what wrongs others have done to us or how we suffered injustice; but when the sorrow of our sin comes to us, we are impressed instead with the pain others are experiencing.  Hopefully it will bring repentance of our sin before God with forgiveness from God, ourselves and possibly those our sin has affected.  As we genuinely repent and ask forgiveness, comfort then comes.

Jan. 12 – (Matt. 5:4; 2 Cor. 7:10) As you reflect again on this verse, consider how 2 Cor. 7:10 fits into this understanding. Now, let me add a story by Lloyd J. Ogilvie from his book “Congratulations God believes in you! Clues to happiness from the Beatitudes”.  As he was meditating on this Beatitude, he started a conversation with a woman who had been head of pediatric nursing in a hospital which cared for many of the victims of bombing and sniping incidents in Belfast, Ireland. They were discussing true happiness of which she said she would never find. She spoke of the suffering of the children in her ward; of mangled bodies and fractured psyches. They talked at length about her hatred of the I.R.A., her confusion about the issues in her country, and why she no longer could work. They then got down to the real reason she would never be happy.  One day she was asked to help turn a critical patient. Any wrong move may kill him.  As she looked in his face she realized it was one of the heads of the I.R.A. that had brought all those children into her care.  At that moment, her hatred led her to want to kill him by a casual slip of her hands.  Her nursing finally took over before she acted on those thoughts but she couldn’t see how God could forgive her. She felt she was no better than the killer laying on the hospital bed.  Here is Lloyd’s response: Deep inside me I heard the Lord say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  I have blessed this woman by helping her to get in touch with her anguish so that I can heal her.  Tell her that I love her, that she belongs to Me, that she is a beloved person of Mine.  She must allow Me to comfort her with My forgiveness.  Then she must forgive herself.  When she does that, she will be able to forgive the people she hates and be able to go back to work.  All she needs to say in her mourning is, ‘Lord, forgive me!’ and ‘I forgive myself!’ Then she will be free to say, ‘Lord, forgive them!’ and finally with deep identification, she will be liberated to say, ‘Lord, forgive us!’”  Selah

Jan. 13 – (Matt. 5:5) Again, this Beatitude does not mean what I think it means.  Whoever got onto the freeway by being meek?  Whoever got the special priced limited quantity item on Black Friday by being meek? If that’s what it means, I would think Jesus would say we would inherit heaven! (There would have to be some reward for never getting our way here on earth!)  We just have an incorrect definition of meekness.  The Hebrew word for meek (gentle) is “anaw”.  Jesus’ Beatitude has its roots in Ps. 37:11. The word meek is used to describe a person who, out of love and obedience, openly accepts the providence and guidance of God.  He lives with the certainty of God’s power and presence in all of life.  The meek man trusts that God knows what is best and will bring good out of evil.  Gentleness really is surrender to God.  It is surrendering our preservation in every circumstance to God knowing and trusting that then God will handle it for our best and His Glory.  The two keys to this Beatitude are ‘meek’ and ‘inherit’.  The first key is relinquishment and the other is receptivity: surrender and expectation, trust and hope.  Selah

Jan. 14 – (Matt. 5:5) As we reflect again on this verse, let’s look at who the Bible describes as meek.  Can you guess who that would be?  Of course, you would say it is Jesus and you would be correct.  The only other man was…. Moses (Nu. 12:3)!  Moses wasn’t weak.  He wasn’t particularly patient and sometimes had a temper.  He united a group of people- dispirited slaves into a nation and led them 40 years through the uncharted wilderness. He challenged Pharaoh many times.  He had such great strength and courage, yet the Scriptures describe him as the meekest of men. That certainly is not our definition of meek!

                What does ‘inherit the earth’ mean?  God had promised the land of Palestine as an inheritance.  Have you ever heard the phrase “The Israelites were taken out of Egypt but Egypt was not taken out of the Israelites.”? As “Egypt” is taken out of us, we rely on Kingdom rules and ways of thinking.  We will then inherit happiness or blessing on this earth.  Selah!