We study through books of the Bible here at The Village Chapel. We have extra copies, if you didn’t bring one and you would like one to follow along, raise your hand up real high, somebody will drop one off at your row, your aisle. There’s a couple over here on this side. If somebody would grab some Bibles in the back, there. Keep your hands up ’til they come around. And you can also, I believe, sign in online and get this.
Our study of Matthew is being called, “The King in His Kingdom,” and just a few preliminary comments here, we’ll be in Matthew chapter five, if you wanna move there in the Bible. Last week, the introduction to The Beatitudes, Pastor Tommy led us through that, and that was really awesome. Kim and I happened to be out of town for the weekend, we just enjoyed the opportunity to get away. But here, as we start this off, I wanna recognize there are many moments in history when we are confronted with examples of the stark contrast between inexcusable evil and undeniable good. There have also been times when cultures struggle to find the consensus on a definition for evil and good, and that has an impact. It eventually matters a great deal if we don’t know the difference between good and evil. And to struggle with the consensus is not the same thing as to out and out deny the existence of good and evil, contrary to the opinions of any consistent naturalistic atheist. I would argue that we all believe that there is such a thing as good and evil, even naturalistic atheists will occasionally recoil at some great evil, but they have to borrow from religion to actually have a basis for recoiling. If they are recoiling from that, it’s because they think there’s something wrong there, something evil there, but if they don’t believe in such a thing as evil or good, of course, they’re just borrowing for their world view to be able to recoil at all.
For centuries, philosophers have asked, “what is the good life?” What does it mean? What does good mean? And what’s the highest thing to which humankind might aspire? If there is such a thing as a good life, and I believe there is, Jesus has given us His answer, and that’s why we’re turning now to the Sermon on the Mount. It’s perhaps the most famous sermon ever preached. It begins with these very beautiful words, in what we call “The Beatitudes,” which describe a life lived under the sovereign rule of Christ, within the kingdom of Heaven, and it’s the kind of life that Jesus calls, “blessed.” That’s an interesting word, in the Greek it’s “macarios,” and thus, these statements become macarisms, as some of the linguistic scholars will call them. There are eight or nine of them, depending on how you count them, and I want you to know, you can come to The Village Chapel and say there are nine, you can come to The Village Chapel and say there are eight. This is not something that divides us at all. We’re happy if you think there’s eight or nine, either one, we’ll go with that. I’ll be treating them as if they’re eight. That’s the direction I lean in. But I want you to know all of these have, essentially, these three parts to them: a pronouncement of blessedness, a condition of the heart, and a reward or benefit. If you were here last week, you learned that. Tommy put that up on the screen for us. One of the commentators on the Sermon on the Mount that I really enjoy, Jonathan Pennington, says all of these “are grace-based wisdom invitations to human flourishing in God’s kingdom.” That’s great. I wanna say it again, ’cause I wanna memorize that, myself. “Grace-based wisdom invitations to human flourishing in God’s kingdom.” Who wouldn’t want that? I think we would want that.
Matthew’s preserved for us an eyewitness record of the life teachings and the amazing ministry, earthly ministry, of Jesus Christ, and it is fair to ask the question, is this Jesus, this one that Matthew calls, “King,” and his kingdom, as we say up there on the slide, is this King Jesus good? Or is He not good? Was Hedeluded? Was he a megalomaniac ego guy? Was He power hungry? Is everything He does, everything he said, all about a grab for power, like some people would suggest all religions are? Or is it not that? I think I’ll let Jesus speak for himself. And I think I’d encourage you to ask some of those questions of any authority that might set itself up. At the end of chapter four, just read that, just look at that real quick, before we read on into chapter five, at the end of chapter four, we had this sort of summary statement by Matthew, describing leading up to this thing we call the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was going about, verse 23 of [chapter] four, Jesus was going about in Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel, so teaching and preaching, of the kingdom, healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. So He’s teaching, He’s preaching, He’s healing. This is what Jesus was doing. And the news about him went into all Syria. So it breaks out of what’s Israel at the time. And they brought to him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics, and He healed them. And great multitudes, and that’s not regular multitudes, great multitudes followed Him from Galilee, and from Decapolis, that’s the 10 Greek cities on the Eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, and Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the, literally from the whole region. His ministry launches, like, an explosion, basically. Right, people, the news about Him, without social media, the news about Him travels so fast that hundreds, no, thousands, great multitudes are following. Why? Why? We must ask the question. Was He good? Was what He said true? Was it also beautiful? Was it good? Well, when He saw the multitudes, He went up to the mountain. After he sat down, His disciples came to Him. And so that asks the question, who is it He’s speaking to, and initially here in the Sermon on the Mount, as it begins, the way Matthew has organized it, in chapters, what we call chapter five, six, and seven, it begins with this address to these disciples. But when we get to the end of the Sermon on the Mount, we see that the multitudes are still involved, just as they were at the end of chapter four. So throughout the Sermon on the Mount, there are lots of people coming and going, and probably more and more, and the crowd is growing and growing and growing as he continues to teach, if this is indeed one setting, and even if it’s not one setting, even if this Sermon on the Mount, as Matthew has collected it, is a variety of settings, the point is, His crowds are growing. His message is getting out and it’s attracting lots of people. I categorize them as the desperate, the curious, the disciples, and the detractors. The desperate, the curious, the disciples, and the detractors. The desperate are those who heard He can heal, and so they came running. Please give me my sight. Please help me to walk again. I’ve got my friends that have carried me here. What can you do for me? The desperate. The curious. This man speaks with astonishing authority. We’ll read that throughout the gospel of Matthew, with astonishing authority, not as the scribes. In other words, He doesn’t sound just like any other religious leader, He sounds astonishingly like this all has its source origin in Him. These truths are in Him, somehow. So it’s awesome. So the desperate, the curious, the disciples, and of course we’ll know them best of all, because He talks with them so much and we get a snapshot of them. And then lastly, the detractors. And those will be the self-righteous religious leaders that sit around harrumphing, the curmudgeon types. And you might know, are you, anybody know a? No, don’t, don’t. You might know one. Somebody that just, kinda, you know, and just, and I interpret all of your faces to not be curmudgeons, okay? When I look out here, I’m looking at people that are just excited over here, you know? So, but sometimes there are people that sit in the crowd and harrumph. And they don’t, like, when they read a beautiful passage like this, they’re still just going… So I invite you to flip the switch, to open your heart, to open your ears, to open the ears of your heart, and the eyes of your heart. Look at this page, look at this, what is written here, as I just read verses three through six here, which we’ll study today here, all right?
“Opening his mouth, He began to teach them, saying, ‘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 gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. The meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.'”Matthew 5:3-6
And I’m gonna stop there for today, I think that’s awesome. Now, these are the first four of The Beatitudes. So I’m, so far, very safe. Whether you have eight or nine, these are still the first four. All right? So we’re still gonna hang right there, and we’re gonna say that these are the first four, for today. Beatitudes, not to be confused with platitudes. A lot of us memorize, or get programmed with platitudes all the time. Finish these sentences, ready?
Time heals all?
What goes around?
[Congregation] Comes around.
[Congregation] The dream work.
Yeah, I didn’t know if you’d get that one. That’s good. The road to hell is paved with? [Congregation] Good intentions.
Good things come to those who?
[Congregation] Wait. God helps those who?
[Congregration] Help themselves.
Me, I prefer that one not to be true. I want it to be, “God helps those who can’t help themselves.” And that’s, that’s me, definitely.
And my last one will be this one, I’ll just tell you what it is. Whatever doesn’t kill you? [All] Makes you strong.
Evidently Kelly Clarkson did a co-write with Friedrich Nietzsche on that one. I’m not sure how she got together with him on that, and they pulled that together, but, anyway, it is sort of a platitude, but The Beatitudes offer these eight statements, eight and nine statements, two of which offer present tense assurances, and really they kind of serve as the bookends for The Beatitudes, just like as we pointed out, Tommy pointed out last week, what we read at the end of chapter four and what we read at the end of chapter seven serves as a sort of set of bookends for the entire Sermon. But these beautific bookends are awesome. And the six middle statements, or the six middle Beatitudes, if we will, or macarisms, offering future tense promises. As beloved as this passage is, it overflows with paradox. And paradox always raises questions. And questions are great, I think. I love questions. Last name’s Thomas, I have lots of questions. The Beatitudes, are they a list of rules to follow? Or do they describe something altogether different than that? How should we interpret and apply The Beatitudes? What is the meaning of this ancient word, “macarios,” blessed? What does that mean to us in our own day and time? Each of The Beatitudes is stated in these three parts, as I said, but as we take a closer look at them, I wanna pray, I’m gonna use a prayer for illumination from our dear friend, Malcolm Guite. Some of you know him, he’s a English poet, and we’ve interviewed him on TVC online before, and hope to have him come preach here one day. But if you’ll join your heart with mind, let’s just sort of pray a prayer of illumination as we start to look into these first four.
We bless you who have spelt your blessings out, and set this lovely lantern on a hill lightening darkness, dispelling doubt by lifting for a little while the veil. Longing is the veil of satisfaction and grief the veil of future happiness. We glimpse beneath the veil of persecution the coming kingdom’s overflowing bliss. Oh make us pure of heart and help us see, amongst the shadows and amidst the mourning, the promised comforter, alive and free. The kingdom coming, and the Son returning, that even in this pre-dawn dark, we might at once reveal and revel in your light. Amen and amen.
Yeah, let’s reveal. Let’s peel it back. Let’s look at it and then revel in this light of blessedness that Christ has declared and invited us to as well. If I were gonna summarize, I’d say The Beatitudes describe the character of those whose values, affections, and allegiances have been transferred to King Jesus and the kingdom of Heaven. They’re not a list of requirements for salvation or entrance requirements into the kingdom of Heaven, no, not at all. They’re a list of the results of redemption, not the requirements for redemption. This is a description, a character description, of those who are disciples, followers of Jesus. Those who have recognized, and it begins, as Tommy pointed out so beautifully last week, it begins with this recognition of being poor in spirit. I got nothing. Is basically what it says. When we come before God, we come empty-handed. With our palms up to receive that which we can’t achieve. To receive a gift that God wants to give us. These heart-transforming results that are listed here in The Beatitudes, they are upended values, redirected affections, and surprising allegiances. You see those three things on the screen. Values, affections, allegiances. And see, all of those govern the way I think, in my life and your life, these things govern us. We may or may not even be aware of the fact that our values are governing us, that our affections are leading and guiding, that our allegiances, we have some loyalties that we’ve actually just inherited in some ways, and just blind to them, having never considered them, having never considered which kingdom or which king they really come from, here comes Jesus saying, or here comes Matthew saying, “Jesus is the king you really want. Jesus is the king you really need. And it’s His kingdom you actually, if you stop and think about it, it’s His kingdom you actually want to be a part of.” And so it’s good to think about those things. And I think The Beatitudes do describe the character of those whose values, affections, and allegiances have been transferred to the Lord and to His kingdom.
Those who are poor in spirit realize their own spiritual bankruptcy and neediness. Those are the ones who have entered the kingdom of Heaven, where all who mourn will be comforted. Those who are the meek are the ones who will inherit the earth, not the bullies who wanna try and take the earth. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, that is, they hunger and thirst, not just for anything, or not just for what they want, but they hunger and thirst for rightness. For a world set right. That’s why so many recoil at what they see in the news today. They know something’s wrong. Even if they’re naturalistic atheists, they would say, “it’s wrong.” A lot of them. Maybe not all of them, but a lot of ’em. Borrowing from religion to actually claim that there’s something that’s wrong. And so we recoil when things aren’t right. And that’s because God has actually wired us that way, that we would have some sense of right and wrong is His gift to us. Now, what will we do with it? The beatitudes represent the God of the Bible’s view about what is good. It’s somewhat of a reversal of logic, isn’t it? They’re upside down and inside out in view of this world’s value system, anyway. The Beatitudes overflow with paradox, as I said. We live in a world where we are constantly distracted, disenchanted, disappointed, divided, discouraged, and despairing, and I delight in that alliteration. So much so, I’m gonna read it again because each and every one of those words is important to me. None of them are throw away words. I won’t let the device take away from what they mean. Listen. We live in a world where we are constantly distracted. Is that you? Yeah, that’s me. Discouraged? Yep. And despairing. Hmm. Disappointed. Divided. Wow.
There’s conflict, outrage, anger and fear everywhere, aplenty. There are wars and rumors of wars. Many recognize something is wrong, but some can’t put their finger on what is actually wrong. Pennington, aforementioned, points out that there are approximately 552,000 licensed mental health professionals in the USA today. There must be enough work to keep them all busy. That’s convincing evidence that we struggle. There’s nothing wrong with anyone that goes or needs counseling, I’m all for it. But please know, there is evidence, empirical evidence, that something is wrong. Today, the total dollars spent on self-help books is in the neighborhood of $10 billion a year. $10 billion a year in the self-help section. You’d think that if any of those books actually worked, that that number might be a little bit less. Perhaps, though, it reveals the fact that we actually can’t help ourselves. That we actually need outside help. Whether that be the help of a counselor, the help of a therapist, whatever, or the help, ultimately, of God himself. But at least it puts us in the place, when you look at those numbers, of acknowledging the fact that we need help, not just self. And that’s kinda what Jesus is saying with The Beatitudes. It’s not, look to yourself to find salvation. It’s not, look to yourself to find the answers. It’s actually, poor in spirit. Myself is bankrupt when I come before God. What’s gone wrong? Why are we experiencing, why aren’t we experiencing this blessedness that Jesus talked about? Os Guinness is one of our dear friends here at The Village Chapel, and a great author and thinker. In his book, Fool’s Talk, he says,
“What Socrates called the ‘unexamined life’ that is not worth living’ now seems to be the life more people have slipped into than ever before. Most people, in other words, are happily diverted, but not conscious of it.”–Os Guinness, Fool’s Talk
I would suggest, based upon what I read in The Beatitudes, if Jesus was right, many of us have never simply come to the place where we recognize how poor in spirit we are. Or perhaps we’re mourning over the wrong things, and not mourning over the right things. Interesting. Many people think they’re pretty good on their own and simply don’t know why they might need God. Some have thought that the real answer, the real solution, is just to take care of, and look to themself, a little bit. It’s time for a little more of me. And Jesus says, “no, it’s time for a lot less of you.” The only thing Jesus ever says for me to do with myself is for me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him. It’s completely antithetical to the way the world in which we live thinks. Along came Jesus with these Beatitudes in His day and time, first century Jewish man, speaking these words in a day and age where, really difficult when you think about the context of the New Testament, I mean, it’s, religiously the context is Jewish, culturally it’s Greek, and politically it’s not Israel. It’s the oppressive Roman Empire. No air conditioning, no creature comforts like we all have. None of them owned a home down by the shore, most likely. Impoverished, all of them. And here comes Jesus saying, “Here’s the good life.” It begins with recognizing your complete poverty of spirit. It’s so upside down, it’s so radical, but yet it’s what He is both proclaiming as blessed and inviting us into. Now, how are we to understand this, and what if we can’t? Well, Yancey, I like the way Yancey says,
“If we fail to understand this teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, I fail to understand Jesus.”Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew
That’s how much Yancey connects understanding the Sermon on the Mount with Jesus. And that’s one of the reasons I’m so glad we’re going through it verse by verse. Admittedly, we’re trying to understand something said by something 2,000 years ago, from the other side of the world, living in a Near Eastern culture with a Jewish context, and this occupying political force that is very oppressive. So we’re gonna need, I think, to think through it a bunch as we go through it. And one of the things that helps me is, I take somebody like Eugene Peterson who wrote the paraphrase called “The Message.” How many of you had “The Message”? Have you read some of that before? I love the way Peterson sort of paraphrases the beatitudes here. And I wonder if you would read them out loud with me as Eugene has done such a great job doing this. Would you read this aloud?
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you, there’s more of God and His rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are, no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. You’re blessed when you you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever need.”–Eugene Peterson, The Message: Matthew 5:3-6
Can I get a Methodist amen?
Yeah. Ooh, Methodists alive today! That’s good. That’s good, yeah. It’s really well done, and it just helps me see it again a little bit differently. My favorite, one of my favorite Bible teachers over the years has been John Stott. He said,
“Right at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus contradicted all human judgements, all nationalistic expectations of the kingdom of God. The kingdom is given to the poor, not the rich; the feeble, not the mighty; to little children humble enough to accept it, not to soldiers who boast that they can obtain it by their own prowess.”John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount
See, the gospel is not a power grab. This is not one of those religions that seems to be a power grab. It’s not a political movement at all. It affects our politics, it ought to, if it doesn’t, something’s wrong with your politics. If your Jesus fits nicely into your political party, you got the wrong Jesus. But it’s transformative in such a beautiful way that it bids each and every one of us to come and say, “my biography, my story, isn’t the only thing that matters anymore.” ‘Cause that’s what I’m hearing out here, is that I should… My story, my! Every self. And the gospel is upside down completely, and inside out on all of that, especially when it says things like blessed are the meek instead of blessed are the strong! Or the powerful! And especially when it says blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. There’s been some argument back and forth, is this about mourning over our sin? Is that all, it’s about just the spiritualization of this Beatitude? No, I think it goes way beyond that. I disagree with that. I would see this as blessed are those who mourn, no matter what your heart is breaking over right now. ‘Cause we’re all mourning about something. We’re all longing for something that hasn’t come about just yet.
“The LORD is near to the brokenheartedPsalms 34:18
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
And from the beginning and all the way through the Bible, the Lord draws near to the broken hearted, and the Lord saves those who are crushed in spirit. Is that you today? Was that you last week? Will it be you next week? It really is wise of you to remember where you should turn when your heart breaks and when your spirit is crushed. Where should you turn? Is it one more trip to add just another $20 to the pile of self-help books, or do you get down on your knees before a God who already says, “your broken heart is like a magnet to me.” And He wants to come for you, and He wants to come and comfort you. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. If poor in spirit, as I said, means “nothing,” those who mourn are, they actually have less than nothing. ‘Cause they’ve lost something. And maybe, again, maybe that’s you. There’s something you’ve lost that was of such great value in your life, maybe something that you are weeping over, consistently and chronically, and you would love to have the comfort of God. Again, I don’t know what’s going on in everybody’s life. I just know if I were to ask you to raise your hand, if you’ve known the comfort of God in some way, a lot of hands in this room would go up because we have known Him to be faithful and we will be turning to Him again and again and again, along the way. When we do, as Christopher Ash says,
“We weep in the presence of God, I do so before the face of infinite love, unerring wisdom, unchanging faithfulness, unfailing kindness; before the Father who sent His Son to save me; before the Son who loved me and gave Himself for me; in the power of the Spirit who pours love into my heart. Weeping can feel lonely, but weeping to God never is.”Christopher Ash
That’s amazing. I don’t know if you’ve ever wept before the Lord, before. I have, there have been times when I’ve just crumbled, didn’t know what to say in my prayers, honestly, just out of words. And I don’t usually run out of words. I know a lot of you are going, amen, it’s true, you don’t. But sometimes I do! And I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what the solution is, I don’t know what to pray for, don’t even know what to ask for, and I’m just groaning. And the Lord himself comes to be my peace, to be my comfort, and my weeping before Him never is wasted weeping, as a matter of fact, the scriptures tells, “He saves our tears in a bottle,” it’s such a poetic, beautiful image to think of that. Every tear of every one of His children, in a bottle. Why? Because it’s precious to Him. So precious to Him. So important for us to know that. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. I love that one as well. Meek is, in the, it sounds like squeak, and that’s what mice do, right? So you kinda think, oh, what does that mean? You gotta be, like, kinda mousey? Is that, you gotta be, just kinda this little, kind of person? No, the word is “praus” in the Greek, and it means, “strength under control.” A great illustration of it was, like, for us last week, I don’t know if you missed us or not, but we were gone, and I’m gonna say this publicly, we went to a rodeo. Woo! And for once, I can actually say, “it was my first rodeo.” Yeah, so this is my first rodeo. This was my first rodeo! It was awesome! And, I mean, you know, a lot of it was kind of corny and stuff like that, but… But what was really awesome to me, especially, was the barrel racing. And here, and it was cowgirls that were coming out, the cowgirls were coming out, and, I swear to you, not one of em, you know, I mean, they were all tiny young gals, and couldn’t have weighed more than 110 pounds, but here they are on these beasts, these horses that weighed 1,500, 2,000 pounds, right? A horse? Full grown horse? And just with these reins, they’re getting this horse, at full speed, to come galloping in, and around the, figure eight around these barrels. And that’s amazing to me, as I thought about it, that somebody so small with the reins could contain and control that strong animal, and get it to do this very meticulous thing. And that’s strength under control. That’s meekness. Doesn’t mean you just roll over and let people walk on you. It doesn’t mean you’re just, you know, always this sort of, you know, surrendered everything, every, all the time, no. But it’s strength under control.
What’s the determining factor? It’s grace based wisdom from God about when to speak and when to be quiet. About which direction is the wise choice. Which is the direction that will lead me to increased holiness and passion for God, or away from God, and the mission that he might have for me in this world? It’s self control, but it’s grace based self control. You participate in it, I participate in it, but it’s really his power at work in us, isn’t it? The meek are humble before God, and they submit to who He is, to His wisdom, to His ways, to His will. And the meek are also, and you know somebody that you would say, “oh, they’re very meek, they’re very gentle.” That’s very humble, and we use these words kind of interchangeably, don’t we? But this person is very humble. And so they’re meek before men, and they’re humble, gentle, faithful, strong and steady. Patient, long-suffering. Strength under control. Aimed in the right direction. Not given to angry outbursts, not given to selfishness, self-focusedness. To quote from Malcolm one more time, Malcolm Guite,
“To us, the meek are precisely the people who do not appear to inherit the earth, because the arrogant have, as always, thrust them aside. In ordinary human experience, those who dare to act as peacemakers in the midst of conflict, far from being blessed, are cursed and deprecated equally by both sides for daring to suggest a new way of seeing things and prising people away from the comfort of their familiar hatreds. And yet, in spite of the way they contradict our experience, our hearts leap every time we hear these words. Something in us stirs, some long-suppressed hope revives, and we know that Jesus is right.”Malcolm Guite, Why Poetic Imagination is Necessary to Understand Biblical Prophecy
Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven! Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted! Blessed are the meek, they will inherit the earth! These things that Jesus has said are so beautiful, and again, we might not be able to define beauty. We might not be able to agree, we might not be able to come to a consensus on what is beauty, but I think we kind of recognize it when we see it, and it kind of inspires awe and astonishment. And that’s what keeps happening in the book of Matthew. We’re gonna read over and over again, how they listen to his teaching. And He just blows them away. He’s truthful, that’s true, but He’s also good, and He’s also beautiful in what He says. And He actually lives this out Himself, when He comes and lays down His life for the sins of others, so that we might know His peace, that we might know what this blessed life is, this flourishing life that He talks about. These words in that last one, that was hunger and thirst, I love that one, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. Remind us, you know, to ask the question, what are we hungering for? We can hunger and thirst after a lot of things that aren’t righteousness, right? How then, does this hunger and thirst for righteousness manifest itself? Well, it’s in the heart of a person who truly desires to see righteousness, rightly.
How do you define righteousness, rightly? Where should we go for that answer? It’s also in the heart of a person who has a holy ambition to walk in God’s righteousness, a person who’s ready to put God first, others second, and themself last. A person who longs to see righteousness promoted throughout the world. And so we pray, God, bring peace and righteousness to Europe. And we pray, God bring peace and righteousness for the 27 million people that are caught up in human trafficking. That’s around the world. See, and that’s happening all the time, that didn’t just make the news. We stopped talking about it a long time ago. Maybe we ought to start talking about it. God, bring righteousness. Set the world to rights, because we can’t do it ourselves. We’re poor in spirit, we need you to come and set all things right. How does believing the gospel of Jesus change and transform our dull lives into the kind of lives Jesus calls blessed? How do we, as a community of faith, open our hearts to receive and reflect God’s grace to others along the way? What if you are, right now, acutely aware, or were acutely aware of your poverty of spirit? How would that change the little battle, the little skirmish you’re going through with someone else? What would happen if you actually said, “God, I don’t feel very meek right now, but I’d love for You to change my heart.” And see, this is all kinda, it’s very personal, isn’t it? It might be getting in your business a little too much, but that’s what it was intended to do, so, I love you. It’s getting into my business too, so… But that’s what this is about. It’s a proclamation of blessedness that’s an invitation to holiness. It’s an invitation to live our lives as Jesus would live them if He were us.
And together as the community of faith, we then would turn to the watching world and say to all who are spiritually weak and need rest, to all who mourn and long for comfort, to all who struggle and desire victory, to all who sin and need a savior, to all who are strangers and desire fellowship, to all who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and to whomever will come.
This church opens wide her doors and offers a gospel welcome in the name of Jesus Christ, who knows what the good life really looks like. Amen. Let’s go before him.
Lord, thank You for who You are, what You said, as You came and taught. These things seem somewhat illogical, irrational, to us, just because we are so programmed to look out for the self, to assert the self, and to literally become self-absorbed. Pray, God, that You would break through that darkness in each and every one of our hearts and minds, and that we might see in You the great hope, the great rescue, the salvation that we actually need, even in these days that are so confused. These days that lead us to fear, when we think about what’s going on in the world around us, Lord. Might we, by looking to You, find the comfort, the hope, the refuge, the strength, the fortress that we so desperately need. Call us to Yourself this morning, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
(Edited for Reading)