Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Guided by the Beatitudes’ – Part 2 (Part 1 Last Sunday)
© February 26, 2017, by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message shared at BLCF on October 18, 2009
Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer
Opening Hymn #177: Rejoice, The Lord Is King; Choruses
Tithing & Prayer Requests; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Responsive Reading #617: (The Beatitudes – Matthew 5)
Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Guided By The Beatitudes’ – Part 2 (Part 1 Last Sunday)
Let us pray…
You may recall in last Sunday’s lesson, examined the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law, understanding that in spite of our sinful nature which began in the Garden of Eden, the Bible records that God has faithfully provided mechanisms for guiding believers along the “A Path of Righteousness”.
Before the advent of Jesus, whose sacrifice on the cross, subsequent resurrection, and ascension to Heaven, allowed those who believed to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
God gave the People of Israel the Ten Commandments, as described in Exodus 20:1-17. These laws gave a nation of former slaves’ rules to guide the people along God’s path.
Over time, the Commandments have been expanded by the Jews into the Laws of Moses, comprising three Codes. The first Code is the 10 Commandments. The second Code consists of the Ordinances, a set of Spiritual specifications which include: description of the Tabernacle, Holy Days, acceptable offerings and activities or responsibilities of the priesthood. The third Code may be described as a set of Social rules governing such things as diet, sanitation, quarantine, soil conservation, taxation, marriage, slavery, etc. Many consider these comprehensive Mosaic Laws as the foundation or template of our modern legal system.
While the first code was given by God to Moses, the second and third were a human attempt to expand or embellish the original ten by covering every possible facet of society. Most importantly, as the manmade Laws grow in number and complexity, in an attempt to address each new situation, there is a tendency to forget the importance of the original 10 Commandments and who authored them.
Some mistakenly think that Jesus came to do away with the Laws of Moses, as we read in Mathew 5:17, Jesus said that not that he came to destroy the law or the prophets: but he came to fulfill them, and by his death and resurrection bring the Holy Spirit to those who believe. The Holy Spirit is the key to God’s plan for providing guidance to believers to keep along His path.
As believers in Christ, God has removed the old rules or laws and provided, through the Holy Spirit, provided a beautiful and simple way for us to grow and mature, by accepting the responsibility of our spiritual maturity. He has given us his Beatitudes by which each of us may use to measure our spiritual growth on a personal level. By doing so we may grow and develop our fruit of the Spirit and draw closer to his presence with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The Gifts of the Spirit given by faith in Christ’s act of salvation are free, and not of works, lest anyone should boast. To grow the fruit of the Spirit does require a conscious effort on our part as believers. For any of you who have grown fruit in a garden, must realize that it takes time and you may not get fruit in the first season. You must wait for the trees and vines to mature. You must plant, water, prune, fertilize, spray, and protect a tree or vine. And you must provide the right soil and climate to allow the fruit to grow and prosper. Finally, you must be persistent and patient to see fruit grow and mature.
You may ask: “What are some concrete evidence or expressions of these spiritual gifts and are these expressions truly an example of using the Spirit’s Gifts in a manner that is producing fruit?” Jesus gave us a list of expressions Godly Gifts, which he described as Beatitudes, in his Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5:3-10:
- 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 will 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 and persecute you … for great is your reward in Heaven.
Some Biblical scholars consider the 9th Beatitude as part of the 8th one. But what is the significance of the Beatitudes? Described in Christ’s Discourse? We find part of the answer from gotquestions.org:
Question: “What are the beatitudes?”
Answer: The Beatitudes are the eight declarations of blessedness spoken by Jesus at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-12), each beginning with “Blessed are…” It is debated as to exactly how many beatitudes there are. Some speak of seven, nine, or ten beatitudes, but the number appears to be eight (verses 10-12 of Matthew 5 being one beatitude).
The Greek word translated “blessed” means “happy, blissful” or, literally, “to be enlarged.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the word to refer to more than a superficial happiness; in this context, blessed refers to a state of spiritual well-being and prosperity. The happiness is a deep joy of the soul. Those who experience the first aspect of a beatitude (poor, mourn, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful, pure, peacemakers, and persecuted) will also experience the second aspect of the beatitude (kingdom of heaven, comfort, inherit the earth, filled, mercy, see God, called sons of God, inherit the kingdom of heaven). The blessed have a share in salvation and have entered the kingdom of God, experiencing a foretaste of heaven. Another possible rendering of the beginning of each beatitude is “O the bliss [or blessedness] of . . . .”
The Beatitudes describe the ideal disciple and his rewards, both present and future. The person whom Jesus describes in this passage has a different quality of character and lifestyle than those still “outside the kingdom.” As a literary form, the beatitude is also found often in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms (1:1; 34:8; 65:4; 128:1) and in the New Testament as well (John 20:29; 14:22; James 1:12; Revelation 14:13).
Ronald G. Falconberry writing in Moral Ethics and the Beatitudes: Righteous Code of Conduct is Revealed in the Sermon on the Mount helps us to further understand the importance to the Lord of his Beatitudes:
Each beatitude reveals a moral philosophy or code of ethics which God desires in everyone. Those who embrace those moral values will receive God’s blessings.
While the Law of Moses judged men by their actions without looking at their motives, the Beatitudes reveal that God looks at each person’s heart because whatever is in the heart is what leads one to actions:
Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount with eight statements known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10). Each beatitude reveals a moral philosophy or code of ethics which God desires in everyone. Those who embrace those moral values will receive God’s blessings.
While the Law of Moses judged men by their actions without looking at their motives, the Beatitudes reveal that God looks at each person’s heart because whatever is in the heart is what leads one to actions.
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit for Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
The “poor in spirit” in the first beatitude are those who are not self-centered. According to Proverbs, “The Lord detests all the proud of heart” (16:5) but God will bless those who acknowledge their need for God’s grace and humble themselves.
As James writes, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
Blessed are Those Who Mourn for They Will be Comforted
The second beatitude refers to a spiritual mourning. Those who recognize that they are lost in sin can, in their sorrow, accept the gift of salvation from God and be comforted to know they have the promise of eternal life in heaven.
As it is written in Revelation 7:17, “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.“
Blessed are The Meek for They Will Inherit the Earth
The word meek in the third beatitude does not refer to a weak or spineless person but to a strong person who submits to God’s control. Although Jesus was meek, he overturned tables in the temple and drove the money changers out on two separate occasions (John 2:2-25; Matthew 21:12-17) and publicly denounced the Jewish leaders’ corruption of the Law (Matthew 23).
The meek are those who submit to God’s will but are willing to stand up and confront evil and injustice. As Jesus stated in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Blessed are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
The fourth beatitude alludes to those who desire to live moral and virtuous lives. Those who accept Jesus as their savior and attempt to live Christ-centered lives will receive righteousness. Paul writes, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22).
Blessed are the Merciful for They will be Shown Mercy
In the fifth beatitude, the merciful are those who reach out to help those in need or forgive those who wrong them. God will remember their love as James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, “because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:13)
Blessed are the Pure in Heart for They will See God
The pure in heart work to keep themselves unpolluted by the spiritual filth of the world. The sixth beatitude promises that God will bless those who try to keep themselves morally clean. In Ezekiel 36:26, the prophet writes, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” and, as Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Blessed are the Peacemakers for They will be Called Sons of God
The seventh beatitude refers to those who love peace and work to prevent or resolve conflicts or disagreements. This does not mean simply appeasing people or watching quietly while contentious activities occur; instead, peacemakers attempt to establish a healthy relationship based on truth and righteousness.
Romans 14:19 says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
Blessed are Those Who are Persecuted Because of Righteousness for Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
Paul writes that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Even Jesus died for his righteousness; however, the eighth beatitude promises the ultimate blessing.
As Paul later wrote, “Now, there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)
Beatitudes Help Develop Quality of Character
People work their entire lives to achieve wealth, fame and power, which may bring material rewards. Christians believe, however, that those who live by the code of conduct outlined in the Beatitudes and pursue righteous lives will develop the quality of character that God wants His followers to have and will ultimately be blessed with the reward of an eternity in Heaven.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #79: We Come, O Christ, to Thee
Benediction (Numbers 6:24-26):
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.