Message of the Beatitudes – Five – Merciful

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

Life is a struggle.  We fear.  Life hurts.  Now we’ve been judged by others.  When life throws us into a pit, and we can’t find a way to climb out, who has shown us mercy and offered us a hand to get out?  Sometimes we only catch a glimpse of judgment on the faces of those who see us suffering – as if they’ve never worn anyone else’s shoes and have never been down-trodden.

But perhaps judgmental reactions are what they received while down in their own pit, and it’s the only reaction they understand.  Perhaps their behavior is due to their unbroken spirits in the Lord. They do not acknowledge that God has shown them mercy, and that they have more power to show mercy once they experience it themselves.  But to experience mercy, we all must acknowledge that we owe God a great debt and that we are unable to repay it and that God has offered to forgive us, undeservedly.  Mercy is a form of grace, which is undeserved favor.  Mercy is undeserved compassion and forgiveness.

So let’s back up for one moment.  What is mercy?  Mercy is an active empathy extended to relieve someone in misery, pain and/or distress, regardless of who it is.  This includes our enemies.    We should be on the lookout for those in distress and not pass by on the other side of the road.  We should have a heart of pity and our deepest desire should be to help no matter who the sufferer is.

Jesus lived a life of mercy.  He spent His time surrounded by those less fortunate; he suffered with the suffering, the addicted, the homeless and the prostitutes.  With whom do we surround ourselves?  What judgmental attitudes block our ability to extend mercy?  God’s desire is to be seen through us.  The Holy Spirit desires to penetrate that which hinders us from being God’s light to a suffering world.  

Have we become an indifferent people?  Are we now a people who lack concern for others?  If we have suffered, we should be the first to show compassion and mercy upon those that are suffering.  For we know that God pulled us up out of our pits when God showed mercy on us.  We should never condemn others.  Yet if someone stumbles, we are not to accept their sin as good, but we are to lend a helping hand and offer them God’s forgiveness.  Even Jesus said to the adulterous woman, who was condemned by the Pharisee’s, “Where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  When she indicated that nobody had, Jesus then mercifully said, “Then neither do I condemn you.  Go now, and leave your life of sin.”

Suffering is not always for no reason.  Suffering allows us to become better Christians – having compassion for those who are suffering perhaps something we’ve suffered ourselves.  What have we suffered and how can we use that experience to help a fellow brother/sister through the trials or sins in which they find themselves?

For one of the greatest blessings of receiving mercy is to be merciful ourselves.

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God Breathed….LIFE

Recently I was studying a Sunday school lesson, and I was in the book of Luke Chapter 24. At the same time I was working on another study for my women’s circle that concerned the soul.  I was researching the 7th Beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers…”  As I was surfing the internet, I came upon a site that suggested that the body was the soul of human beings.  This was the first time I had ever heard of such an idea, and it apparently is something many people are considering.

Each morning I listen to the music on my alarm clock and the station programmed is that of the local Christian radio station.  A song was playing, and God spoke to me when the lyrics said “God Breathed”.  Between the research and the song, I wanted to enjoy a moment reflecting on the essence of life and share it with you.

Genesis 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

It seems to me that our bodies were created separately from our souls. It wasn’t until God breathed into man’s flesh that we became a living being.  Our bodies couldn’t function without God’s breath.  Our souls are the very living breath of God.

Then I looked at Psalm 39:11 “….Surely every man is a mere breath.”  Man is nothing without the breath of God.  How awesome is that, that our souls came alive by the mere breath of God.

Look at Ezekiel 37:9, “thus says the Lord GOD, “come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.” Ezekiel 37:10 “…and the breath came into them, and they came to life.”  Ezekiel 37:14 “And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life…declares the Lord.”  Our souls are a reflection of God’s eternal existence.

Without the breath of God, we cannot exist.  But God did not breathe life into us for the purpose of giving ourselves pleasure.  He breathed us into life to give Him pleasure and to serve Him.  For He commanded man to fill the earth, and to rule over all the living things on the earth. It is only our selfish attitudes that keep us from aspiring to the good that God has seen in us from the beginning.  It is only our selfish attitudes that keep us from serving God with the gifts that He has given us to use for His Kingdom’s sake, and we selfishly serve ourselves instead.

So what are we doing that brings God joy and pleasure?  What service are we performing for His glory?  As a Christian leader, it should be our pleasure to be in His service and to help bring our Christian brothers and sisters into service as well.  For what did Jesus speak to the disciples upon His resurrection when He showed Himself to them in the locked upper room?  John 20:21 “Jesus therefore said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’  And when he had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”  Our spirits are made in the image of the Spirit of God.  For He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” Genesis 1:26 

 Jesus came to breathe the Holy Spirit into His disciples so that they could go out – be sent – in service to Him.  And by believing in Him you may have true LIFE in His name everlasting.

Message of the Beatitudes – One – Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

     How desperate for God are we? 

     Most of us believe that we do alright on our own and will bring God into our lives if we run into trouble.  When we feel like we have our little plans moving along and it appears on the surface that we have control over our lives, why bother God?  As I’ve heard said, He must have bigger problems elsewhere.

    Recently I was traveling from Atlanta to Charleston and driving at about 70 mph and suddenly I felt that I was about to faint.  I have these every 3-4 years, and I know when they are coming.  I get the metal taste in my mouth, my head gets woozy, I get extremely hot and start sweating, and I see speckled lights in my vision that steadily come together leading to a blinding light, and then I go out.  So as I was experiencing the symptoms coming over me, I barely saw a sign that said rest area ahead 1-1/4 miles.  I flipped on the air conditioner, reclined my seat enough that I could still see over the steering wheel and got the blood flowing to my head and at the same time called out, “Mom”!  My next thought was, well she can’t do anything for me right now, so I yelled out “GOD!” a number of times.  Miraculously, I made it to the rest area, and unable to see much of anything, I was not capable of parking properly between the lines, so I parked parallel to the sidewalk and went unconscious.  This was a desperate situation, and I relied on God to see me through it.  Desperation about our physical needs is one thing, but have we ever felt the same desperation about our spiritual lives? 

     I believe that to be “poor in spirit” is to let go of our pride and humble ourselves before God.  It is to recognize our great needs spiritually.  We are desperate and cry out to Him that we cannot live this life on our own.  It’s when we say “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139:23-24.  It’s when we acknowledge that without God, we are nothing.

god lives in yu - treo_062809_002_web

god lives in yu - treo_062809_002_web (Photo credit: kevindean)

     Psalm 140:5 says “The proud have hidden a trap for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set snares for me.”  It is the proud that have not emptied their souls to self and begged God to enter. To be “poor in spirit” means to open to the Word of God and truly empty our souls of self.  We must give Him access in order to truly fill us with His Holy Spirit. Those who seek His presence, know their desperate needs and confess their sins, their selfish thoughts and agendas and ask God to take control of their lives. 

     Once we acknowledge our desperate need for Him and give Him access to control our lives, our thoughts and our actions, then we can begin our transformation and wake up from a state of unconsciousness to the truth!

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