Archive for Beatitudes

The Beatitudes Describe Jesus

This is the final installment in an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes.
Each part features a hymn to a familiar tune.

Do you want to better understand the Beatitudes, or any of the Bible’s teachings, for that matter? Look at the life of Jesus. The Beatitudes are describing Him. He is the fullness of the person they are recommending. He is the way to the Father, the truth about the Father, and the life of the Father made human flesh (John 14:6).

He is thoroughly pleasing to His Father. At His baptism, the Father spoke from heaven:

This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. (Matthew 3:17, NASB)

At the transfiguration, as Jesus was about to be rejected, humiliated, tortured, and murdered by the Jewish leaders, the Father repeated virtually the same words of glowing approval.

The Apostle Paul, having described Jesus’ humble obedience, even to the point of death, phrased the Father’s pleasure and blessing this way:

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11, NIV)

Jesus’ life is the life most fully blessed by the Father. To understand the Beatitudes, look to Him.

He was poor in spirit. He had emptied Himself of all His own power and glory. He made Himself completely dependent on His Father for every word and every action. Though Lord of all, at His death He owned absolutely nothing. His only possessions, the clothes on His back, were divided by the soldiers as He died. Yet truly the entirely kingdom of God was His.

He wept with the other mourners at Lazarus’ death, and He wept over unrepentant Jerusalem. Though already full of righteousness and pure in heart, pleasing His Father was His food and focus and constant passion.

He was meek, and He was merciful. He spoke one-on-one with people from all walks of life, including the very lowest levels of society, and He always showed each individual dignity and respect. He forgave the worst of them, even His enemies as they were torturing and killing Him.

Though He was persecuted, pressured, and pursued most of His public life, He constantly lived God’s peace and spoke God’s peace. In the face of Jewish leaders intent on His execution and an angry mob calling for His life, He remained silent and calm. He never defended Himself, speaking only to faithfully witness to the truth.

Jesus is the life blessed by our Father. Embrace Him. Exalt Him. Desire Him. Follow Him. Be filled and led by His Spirit.

Above all else in this world, seek a close relationship with Jesus Christ.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Lord, Life Becomes More Simple
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Blessed Are the Persecuted

This is the tenth of an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes.
Each part features a hymn to a familiar tune.

Jesus eighth and final beatitude is this:

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12, NASB)

The Sermon on the Mount, and particularly the Beatitudes, teach us how to live in the presence of our Father who is almighty, all-wise, all-loving, and always with us. Trusting such a God turns our usual way of living upside-down. Giving now makes sense, not grasping…meekness, not pride…hungering and thirsting after holiness rather than glory and gold. We mourn what others consider normal or even good.

But here, as we suffer persecution and injustice, the opposite happens. In a situation where others mourn, we rejoice. Consider these verses:

When people insult you and persecute you…rejoice and be glad. (Matthew 5:11-12, NASB)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials. (James 1:2, NIV)

Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering…rejoice. (1 Peter 4:12-13, NIV)

Why should we rejoice when life is painfully unjust? Why should suffering that is unfair and even life-threatening become a compelling reason for joy? God’s Word gives us these reasons:

  1. If we suffer for doing the right thing, we are blessed by Sovereign God. He has decreed our eternal well-being. That is reason to celebrate! (Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Peter 3:14; 4:14)
  1. In exchange for temporary suffering, we gain a reward that is infinitely greater and more lasting. It will be the best exchange you ever make! (Matthew 5:10-12; Mark 10:29-30; Romans 8:17-18; 1 Peter 1:3-7; Revelation 2:9-10; 7:13-17)
  1. Suffering for doing good puts us in great company. The saints of all the ages, the prophets, and Jesus Christ Himself went through such suffering and are now enjoying their rich reward. They are like an entire stadium full of encouragers, watching as we run our race, cheering us on. (Hebrews 11:1 – 12:3)
  1. Suffering is extremely fruitful. When we are willing to suffer for Christ and for what is right, others take notice. Christ considered His suffering to be His best chance to glorify His Father. It is our best chance as well. As we suffer, we are planting seeds that will grow an abundant, eternal harvest. (John 12:23-28a; Philippians 1:12-14; 2 Timothy 2:8-10)
  1. Suffering tests and refines our faith, which is our vital connection with the unseen God. Suffering builds priceless character traits that can’t be developed any other way. (Romans 5:1-5; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:12-14)
  1. Most importantly, as we suffer for Christ, we are suffering with Christ. We are united with Him more deeply. In a very tangible way that goes beyond words, we are embracing His faith in the Father, His commitment to the salvation of the world, and His eternal destiny. We are throwing in our lot completely with Him. We are bound to Him, not just by our promises, but by pain and sacrifice. (Philippians 3:7-11; Colossians 1:24; 2 Timothy 2:11-12)

When Jesus listed the qualities that God blesses most richly, the qualities that are the keys to true and eternal success, the climax of His list was suffering for Christ.

Father, when I have to suffer for following Christ, help me not to be surprised, discouraged, angry, or afraid. You offer each believer a unique opportunity to share in His sufferings in some small way. When my opportunity comes, help me to accept it for what it is: a precious and personal gift from You.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Captives of Eternal Love
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Blessed Are the Peacemakers

This is the ninth of an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes.
Each part features a hymn to a familiar tune.

Jesus’ seventh beatitude is this:

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9, NASB)

Father, You are the God of peace.
In You there is no conflict of any kind.
You are wholeness.
You are harmony.
You are complete and pure well-being.

You are the ultimate peacemaker.
You sent Your only Son from Your heavenly peace
into our battleground world.
Prophets announced Him as the Prince of Peace.
Saints and angels greeted Him as the coming of Your peace.
Throughout His 33 years He lived Your peace and taught Your peace
while wrapped in the most severe poverty and persecution.
And before returning to You, He spoke Your perfect peace
into the hearts and lives of His followers, saying:

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27, NASB)

In Christ, You have brought Your peace to us.
Paul told the Ephesians:

He Himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:14, NASB)

And to the Colossians he said:

It was the Father’s good pleasure…through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:19-20, NASB)

In Christ, we have peace with You.
Romans 5:1 says:

Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NASB)

In Christ, our hearts and minds are wrapped in Your peace
throughout every circumstance
as we trust You.
Philippians 4:6-7 says it so beautifully:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NASB)

In Christ, You have promised to permeate all creation with Your perfect peace.
Many centuries ago, Isaiah described our future this way:

The wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6, 9, NASB)

In the meantime, Father, You have left us here, wrapped in Your peace,
to be Your peacemakers.
You are the ultimate peacemaker.
You made peace here
by coming to us,
by crossing every barrier to reach us in our need.
You made peace by
loving,
healing,
forgiving,
talking,
listening, and
giving,
by accepting suffering daily, and
in the end, pouring out Your life completely.

You call us to make peace the same way,
by daily, constantly pouring out our lives for others.
And as we make peace,
You call us Your children.

Father, what reward could be greater?
How could we do any less than share the precious gift of
Your peace?

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: God of Peace
Recording
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Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

This is the eighth of an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes.
Each part features a hymn to a familiar tune.

Jesus’ sixth beatitude is this:

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8, NASB)

That is very much like Psalm 24, where it says,

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
(Psalm 24:3-5, NASB)

Father, I long to be pure.
I long to want only what You want.
I long for my every desire, every thought, and every action
to flow from love for You.
You have planted this desire deep within me.
I know that I can only live in Your holy presence
if I have clean hands and a pure heart.

But Father, purity is beyond me.
I was born in sin.
My roots sink deeply into it.
Even when I want to do the right thing,
without You I’m too weak.
Only You are pure, and
only You can make me pure.
You call me to a purity that only You can provide.
And Lord, You have promised it to me.
You said:

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness…I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you…I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27, NASB)

Father, You have promised my purity, and
You have provided it completely through Jesus Christ.
But what is my part?
Am I only a passive observer in all this?
How should I respond to what You have done for me?

Paul wrote:

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1, NASB)

And this:

In reference to your former manner of life…lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit…and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:22-24, NASB)

And to the Colossians, he wrote:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature.
Rid yourselves of all such things. (Colossians 3:5, 8, NASB)

Father, Your promises are always a call to faith, and
faith always demands action.
My faith is in You.
I believe that in Jesus Christ, Your divine power has given us
everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3, NIV).
I believe that as I walk in the light,
I have unbroken fellowship with You, and
You deliver me from all sin (1 John 1:7).
I believe that as I turn to You and trust You,
You help me lay aside my old self and
put on the new self You have created for me.
Holy God, I believe that as I trust and obey You,
You help me purify my heart and mind and life.

Praise to You, Father!
Continue to make me more and more like Your pure and beautiful Son,
Jesus Christ!

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Holy in Me
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Blessed Are the Merciful

This is the seventh of an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes.
Each part features a hymn to a familiar tune.

Jesus’ fifth beatitude is this:

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7, NASB)

Father, You are merciful.
You are kind to the undeserving.
You are generous even with the greedy and selfish.
You freely forgive those who wrong You.
You warmly welcome the unworthy.
You are gracious and patient and always good.

You call us to be the same.
If we are to be Your children,
we are to think and love and act like You.
We are to be merciful.

What’s more, the giving and receiving of mercy are inseparably linked.
We cannot receive Your forgiveness
unless we extend it to others.
Your forgiveness cannot flow to us
until it flows through us.
Until we grant forgiveness to those who have wronged us,
we remained enslaved by sin,
suffering the lovelessness, resentment, anxiety and anger that injustice brings.
We can only free ourselves by also
freeing those who have wronged us.
If mercy is the solution for sin,
it is the solution for every last one of us.

Father, Your Son showed us the way of mercy.
While being tortured till death, He prayed,

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NASB)

When I suffer because of someone else,
give me His Spirit.
Give me His love.

When I am asked to share with the undeserving,
give me Your generous heart.
You lavishly pour out an entire world of blessings
on both the wicked and the good.

Father, grow in me
Your compassion,
Your open heart,
Your open hand,
Your freedom from selfishness.

May the needy sense in me Your eagerness to
smile and help and bless.
Let all who cross my path,
including the unkind,
get a glimpse of Your beautiful, life-giving mercy
through me.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Let Mercy Shine
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Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

This is the sixth of an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes.
Each part features a hymn to a familiar tune.

Jesus’ fourth beatitude is this:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6, NASB)

We are not self-sufficient, self-contained beings.
We have needs outside ourselves:
food, water, and air,
shelter and security,
relationships and fellowship,
purpose and meaning,
knowledge and wisdom.

We are needy, and
the Source of all things is God.
We need God in absolutely every way.
We are inherently, completely, eternally, inescapably dependent on Him.

But we have broken our relationship.
We have turned away from Him and
have tried to supply our needs through other sources.
But all these sources are
secondary and shallow,
temporary and painfully inadequate.
We have aspired to be gods,
self-sufficient and
self-contained.
But we are not and
can never be.

This is especially true of our greatest need,
a need we rarely face and only vaguely realize:
We need help to be who we ought to be.
Our most desperate need is our inward weakness.
On our own, we cannot think or act as truth demands.
We sense this weakness,
but we don’t want to admit it to ourselves or to others.
We don’t grasp how broad it is or how deep it goes.
Our own will-power is no match for this weakness,
and none of our reasoning or acquired wisdom can enable us to conquer it.
We are deeply wrong, and
we cannot make ourselves right.

Father, You are completely right, and
we long to be right as You are right.
O God, we are hungry for it.
We are thirsty for it—
so
very
thirsty.
We’ve tried and tasted everything else, and nothing satisfies.
Nothing can touch this hunger, this thirst.
All that we’ve tried is like drinking dust:
it only makes us more thirsty.

Our God, we hear Your invitation:

Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost. (Isaiah 55:1, NASB)

We come to You.
We turn to You, thirsty for Your own Spirit to fill us.
Jesus said:

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive. (John 7:37-39, NASB)

As we come, we find that You are not far away.
Before we ever thought of coming to You,
You came to us.
You gave Yourself to us,
You who are the Living Bread.
Jesus said:

“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (John 6:35, NASB)

You Yourself are the Water of Life.
Jesus promised us this:

“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, NASB)

Almighty God, our Creator, our Father,
You Yourself are what we long for.
You Yourself are what we need.
We hunger and thirst for Your rightness.
We hunger and thirst
for You.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: We Taste Your Life and Long for More
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Blessed Are the Meek

This is the fifth of an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes.
Each part features a hymn to a familiar tune.

Jesus’ third beatitude is this:

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5, NIV)

Father, as we see Your greatness, we face our smallness.
As we glimpse Your power, we grasp our weakness.
As we marvel at Your transcendence, we embrace our lowliness.
Standing before You, humility is natural, honest, and sweet.
As we worship You, we forget ourselves.
As we crown You Lord, we gladly resign the throne of our lives.
Self-protection is unnecessary, for You, Sovereign God, are our protection.
With Psalm 123, we pray:

I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hands of their master…
so our eyes look to the Lord our God
till he shows us mercy. (vv.1-2, NIV)

As we gaze on Your great glory, we abandon our own.
James 4 says:

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble…
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (vv.6, 10, NIV)

As we rely completely on Your provision,
we no longer grab and grasp and worry.
We simply pray:

My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalm 131:1-2, NIV)

When Your own Son came to us, filled with all the fullness of the godhead,
He was meek.
He was completely empty before You,
completely dependent on You.
He relied on You for everything He said and did.
This Jesus invites us to come to Him.
He says:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

Jesus invites us to lay down our constant, crushing burden of self-concern
and take up the one easy burden of simply trusting You.

Father, give us the Spirit of Your Son Jesus.
Give us His Spirit of meekness—
not weakness, but meekness.
And from His Spirit, grow within us
His gentle heart with
His gentle words and
His gentle hands.
Make us truly and completely Your children, meek before
You,
Your people, and
the world.
Father, empty us of ourselves
that we may be filled forever with You.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Meekness
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Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

This is the fourth of an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes.
Each part features a hymn to a familiar tune.

Father, we are Your people.
As we live in Your presence, You say to us,

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4, NASB)

In what ways should knowing You, Lord, cause us to mourn?

We see this world, and we remember Eden.
We remember all You had planned for us.
Now we see all these people You created for Yourself,
into whom You breathed Your own life.
They are so very far from You, their only source of good.
They sin, they suffer, they cause suffering, and they die.
O our Father, we mourn for all that has been lost!
O God, forgive us!
We see all these dear ones, engulfed in grief and pain,
dying in the darkness every day, and
we mourn with You, loving Father.

We mourn our own sin.
We were like them, so far from You.
Evil filled our hearts and minds and hands.
You redeemed us, You bought us back at the price of Your only Son.
But even now as Your children,
our response to You is so cold and inconsistent.
We still think and act selfishly.
We are still fearful and mistrusting,
though cradled here in Your loving arms.
We are easily distracted from You and
so indifferent toward You.
We see You, glorious Father, and
we see ourselves, and
we mourn.

The nearer we grow to You, Father,
the more we mourn our separation from You.
The more we love You, the more we long to be with You
completely and constantly,
with no separation, no distance, no barriers, no veils,
nothing but You.

Father, You Yourself are the comfort for our mourning.
Your presence is fullness of joy.
You promised us Your Son, and You have given Him.
You promised us Your Spirit, and He is with us and in us right now.
You have also promised to live among us as our God and our Shepherd.
You have promised to wipe every tear from our eyes.

Father, we are waiting for that day.
We long for You.
We mourn for You.
O Lord, come!

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: We Mourn
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Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

This is the third of an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes.
Each part features a hymn to a familiar tune.

Jesus’ first beatitude is this:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:3, NASB)

God has decreed the well-being of those who are poor in spirit. His sovereign word says they will have abundant life, and that they will be “prosperous” and “successful” in an ultimate sense, beyond mere money. But what does it mean to be “poor in spirit”?

To be poor is to lack possessions. To be poor in regards to spirit is to have a spirit, or a heart, that lacks possessions; a spirit that does not “possess” or claim ownership of anything; a spirit with no wealth, no glory, no will or way or strength of its own.

Such a spirit is what we had in Eden before the fall. Then we were surrounded by God’s abundant gifts, but none of them had taken root in our hearts. We possessed nothing. We clung to nothing. We claimed ownership of nothing. God was all-in-all, and our spirits, hearts, and desires were reserved for Him.

When we are again poor in spirit, possessing nothing as our own, we are free to cling to God alone. When we do, we enjoy all things in Him. All He has, all He is, His entire Kingdom is ours, and we are entirely His.

Blessed indeed is such a person!

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Poor in Spirit
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Blessed

This is the second of an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes.
Each part features a hymn to a familiar tune.

Jesus spent His entire ministry here teaching and demonstrating a new relationship with our heavenly Father. Life could be full and complete by simply, actively trusting Him. These teachings are especially concentrated in Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7, the passage we call the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus begins His description of this new life by summarizing God’s recipe for success. This recipe is called the Beatitudes. Here He pronounces God’s blessing on eight character traits. He says that God has decreed the eternal well-being of people who possess these qualities.

But like much of the Sermon on the Mount, the list is surprising, even shocking. Human society tends to prize people who are strong, assertive, and confident, people who provide themselves and others with the physical goods, security, and pleasure.

Jesus’ recipe for success is completely different. Realize that only He has experienced both life on this earth and eternal life in heaven. Only He has a complete perspective on what is best. And He says that the person who is truly blessed by our Creator is poor in spirit, meek, merciful and pure in heart. That person mourns, desires righteousness above all else, makes peace, and gladly suffers persecution for obeying God.

What unexpected keys to success! None of these qualities are strength, skill, material goods, or human accomplishment. All these qualities flow naturally from trusting and loving God.

These traits come with wonderful promises from our Father. He has decreed that all who show these qualities will be blessed with the Kingdom of heaven, their Father’s rich comfort, rulership of the entire earth, a complete rightness to life, mercy from God, the promise of seeing Him, and the glorious reality of living as His dearly-loved children.

All these blessings concern our inner, eternal person. None are simply material. All will outlast this world. Jesus, the only person with a total view of all of life, urges us to seek these gifts as our Creator’s greatest blessings.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Beatitudes Hymn
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

 

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