Posted by on Oct 30, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on God’s Direction in our Lives

Dear Lord…Thank you for keeping us safe through this week. Thank you for the many gifts you give us each day…many of which we often don’t realize are really gifts from you. As we consider your words this day, speak to each one of us and how we can show we are yours through our actions.

On this November 1, we are not only celebrating communion together, but we are also celebrating All Saints Day. This day is always celebrated the day after Halloween. In many denominations, Halloween is also called “All Hallows Eve”. It is on the next day that churches celebrate all of the members of the churches who have gone to heaven.

Our gospel reading for today is from Matthew 5:1-12. These verses are part of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” that is described by Matthew from 4:23 through 7:29. This section sets the stage for God’s mission through Jesus’ teachings and actions. Just prior to this section, Jesus has called his first disciples and they went with him seeing the healing that Jesus was performing just before they went to the mountain.

In the first verse, we see Jesus observing the crowds that had been following and going up to the mountain with the disciples. At this point, Jesus needed to be alone with the disciples for a time to begin their instruction and give them the promises of God they would obtain and observe in their discipleship.

These verses are called the “Beatitudes”. The description for “beatitude” is “blessedness”. Each beatitude implies a state of happiness and well-being. Jesus is indicating to the disciples how they were to live life when they had accepted God’s forgiveness and had repented from their previous life. It also indicates how people who have been forgiven will exhibit the gifts bestowed on them.

The first four of the eight Beatitudes describe attributes of honorable disposition that followers of God will have as part of their lives on acceptance of God’s forgiveness. The first one of these attributes is that of “poverty of spirit” or in modern terms, humility. The humility comes for knowing we are nothing and have nothing without Jesus Christ. To paraphrase, “Blessed are those who humbly recognize their need for God, for they will enter into His Kingdom.”

The second beatitude is talking about “those who mourn”…or who are sorry for their sins and repent. The forgiveness they find when they repent along with the joy of salvation is a comfort for those who repent. “Blessed are those who mourn for their sins, for they shall receive forgiveness and life eternal.” In the third beatitude we find the subject of “meekness”…or the submission to God’s authority and declare Him as Lord. In Revelation, we find God saying that His children will “inherit all things”. Those who are meek are imitators of Christ and are shown by their gentleness and self-control.

The fourth beatitude talks about those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. This describes a deep, strong need for justice. In reality, this beatitude is one that can apply to both what God gives us when we recognize what we are lacking and what God expects us to exemplify as one of His disciples. God can feed us as well as give us living water to replenish our souls…when we accept His love and forgiveness.

The last four beatitudes talk about our social relationships as God’s disciples. The first one is, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” If we show people acceptance and kindness, that is what we will receive. However, if we show anger, discrimination and hatred, that is not the way we are to act as having been given mercy, ourselves, by God. Think for a few minutes about what acts of mercy you have either shown to people this past week…or how people have been merciful to you.

We, as God’s people, are to show mercy through forgiveness, kindness and compassion to others. This is what God has shown to us…and we are directed to exhibit this to God’s people.

The next beatitude is, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” This indicates that God will cleanse all of his followers from the inside. This is not an indication of outward righteousness or pride to be seen by men, but inward holiness that only God can see. Those who have been cleansed by God from the inside out, have been made clean and holy and they will see God. In the next beatitude, we are challenged to show peace and reconciliation to other people. God has given us peace through Jesus Christ and this brought a restored relationship (reconciliation) with God. We are to take this same reconciliation to those we meet every day. All who have peace are God’s children.

This practice of reconciling with people is not easy. We know that. Jesus taught the disciples and the people in the temple how to talk with those when there were disagreement, etc. Have you experienced this type of “concern” this past week. Were you able to reconcile with someone?

Finally, in verse 10, we read that there are blessings in being persecuted because of righteousness. This specifically refers to those who exhibit their faith regardless of the situation and do not hide the fact they are children of God. This is difficult for us, we know. But we are challenged to openly live for Christ. We know we have the love, support and protection of God and will inherit the kingdom.

All of these are indications of how we are to live our lives knowing God has shown us love, forgiveness and that we are to show the same to the people we meet in God’s world.

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