We've been studying the Beattitudes in Sunday school the past few weeks. I have been so challenged, inspired, convicted, and encouraged all at the same time. I fail so miserably, so often. But this study has been so good that I wanted to share some of my notes with you all.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."- Matthew 5:3-12
1) "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." - the Greek word used here for "poor in spirit" is "ptochos" and it is the picture of a helpless beggar, distressed, in desperate need. The Bible says that we have to come to a point where we realize there is nothing good whatsoever within us apart from God, before we can experience the kingdom of heaven. But guess what? The promise says that that kingdom IS theirs, not will be one day. We can experience the kingdom of heaven right here on earth, with all of its blessings and victories, if we will become like that beggar and be desperate for God. When I think that I've got some good spiritual quality or righteousness because of something I've done or thought or been, I am not experiencing God's kingdom. Only when I recognize how wretched and spiritually bankrupt I am without Him, can I experience the richness and fullness and victory.
Isaiah 57:15 says, "For thus says the High and Lofty One, Who inhabits eternity, Whose Name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.'"- The High and Lofty One dwells within those who have contrite and humble spirits! Why? To revive them! Do I want that? YES!!
2) "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."- this is not talking about mourning or complaining over silly things, out of self-pity. This is talking about mourning over the things that break God's heart- like sin. Our sin. When we are really, deeply remorseful over our sin and the sin around us. We studied the triumphal entry this morning for Palm Sunday, and saw that Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem and WAILED for it. The preacher asked when was the last time we wept for the lost in our city. Our Sunday school teacher asked when was the last time we wept over our own sin. There is a beautiful picture of this type of mourning in Psalm 51. I personally have received that type of deep, abiding comfort after mourning before the Lord over my own sin. The Lord is gracious and compassionate. When I have come to Him in mourning, like the beggar poor in spirit, He has comforted me in my very deepest parts. I LOVE and have recently memorized this Psalm 25:11, "For Your Name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great."But the Bible also says that He opposes the proud. When my flesh or my pride keeps me from hating my sin, there is no comfort. I am restless. I am discontent. I am defensive. And I find no peace or rest.
3) "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." - Being meek means to be humble and mild, enduring injury with patience and without resentment, rebuking retaliation. It is a picture of inner strength under control, of "entrusting yourself to HIM who judges righteously." (1 Peter 2:23b) This one has been a real test for me lately. I have been going through a trial that has tested my patience, endurance, and trust in the Lord. My flesh has wanted to seek retaliation, to lash out in anger. I have been anything but meek in spirit. I may not have verbally or overtly retaliated, but I have had to continuously bring all thoughts captive to His authority and fight hard for joy, peace, and love. Stepping away from it and looking at it through the eyes of the Beattitudes, I can see that God is allowing this trial to shape me. He is in the process of sanctifying and beautifying me, making me what He wants. Meekness when everybody is being nice to you is easy. It's not so easy when they are mean and hateful. I am beginning to thank God for this trial and how He is changing me through it. Psalm 37:11 makes the same promise of the meek inheriting the earth, but adds to it- ". . . and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." Ahhh. Delighting myself in the abundance of peace. What a beautiful picture. Kind of makes this fight to be meek, seem worth it.
4) "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." - this picture of being filled has the connotation of being gorged; completely satisfied; abundantly full. Jeremiah 23:6 calls Jesus "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." When we hunger and thirst for Jesus, He covers us with robes of righteousness befitting a King! He GORGES us with righteousness! Isaiah 61:10 says, "I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness." This is so hard for me to get. It's harder for me to get that He has clothed me in righteousness than it is for me to get that I am sinful. I can see my sin. I see my imperfections crystal clearly. I don't usually have much problem recognizing my depravity. What baffles me is that because of Jesus, I am actually clothed in robes of righteousness! Not as if I never sinned, but as if I am perfect! That baffles my mind. I don't think I will ever get over it. I hope I never do.
5) "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." - Mercy is undeserved kindness, forgiveness, grace; withholding deserved judgement or punishment that is deserved. It is having compassion and pity on others instead of repaying evil for evil or judging them. Once again, in the trial I have been enduring, this one has been hard. And I'm a pretty compassionate, merciful person. It may even be my spiritual gift. But true mercy isn't just being merciful when it's easy or natural. Truly showing mercy is when you could (and may even want to) hate and retaliate. I have come to LOVE this Psalm 62:5- "My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him." When my expectation is from HIM, it doesn't really matter what the other person does. He has promised mercy, so I must show mercy. Regardless of the circumstances. Regardless of the actions of the other person. My expectation is from a God who will not let me down. He will bless me and fill me to overflowing.
6) "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." - Purity is undefiled. It is singly focused, rid of all distractions and idols. When my heart is pure, this promises that I will gaze upon Him "with eyes wide open". A pure heart will truly see Him. Again I feel like such a failure when I contemplate being pure in heart. But I love these prayers from Psalm 119: "Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes!" (vs 5). . . "Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way!" (vs 37)
7) "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." -there we go talking about peace and mercy and love again. Yeah yeah yeah. :) I do want to be called a child of God though, so making peace needs to be my aim. Even in this situation and the many that I'm sure will come in my lifetime. The Bible says we are to be ambassadors of reconciliation. My constant aim should be to live at peace with all men and be reconciled whenever and wherever possible. Oh, how desperately I need the Lord. There is absolutely no way I can do these without Him.
8) "Blessed are those who are persecuted. . . " 2 Timothy 3:12 says that all who live godly WILL be persecuted- it's guaranteed! So you could say, if I'm not now being persecuted, am I living godly? And I love the words from 1 Peter 2:23b that I've already mentioned, about "entrusting yourself to Him who judges righteously." This thing of entrusting myself to Him who knows all the intimate details of my life, even way better than I do, makes it a little easier to put my hope and expectation in Him. To hand Him the reigns and ask Him to sanctify me through and through. And to see the trials and difficulties of life as necessary for living the life He wants me to live, becoming the woman He created me to be. If I'm not ultimately doing that with my life, what is the point of my life anyway? "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength." -Isaiah 26:3-4