Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Declarations of Blessedness

If you were to ask a fellow believer if he/she is blessed, no doubt the majority would say yes, but what would be his/her answer if you asked in what way are you blessed?  No doubt, many would say they are in good health, they have a job, a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, and so on, but these are all physical aspects of life and therefore, are these things the true measure of what it means for one to be blessed?

I know I shared this story before, but it is indeed a story full of profound thought and spiritual insight and worth sharing time and time again.
It was the end of the trip when the mission team gathered with the members of the host church to pray for them because the conditions of their country were poor and they had very little.  At the conclusion of the team’s prayer, the pastor of the host church said we now want to pray for you because your country, being America, has too much and it clouds your relationship with God.
I find this to be quite true because all too often people have the propensity to assess their blessings and relationship with God on external or rather physical things of the world.  I mean we hear people all the time saying how blessed they are when speaking about their careers or financial success.  Others even say it for them in that someone might say, “Look at the size of that house – that family is truly blessed” or ‘my goodness they even have a pool in the backyard how blessed can someone be?”

This is not to say that a successful career, a big house, a pool, and so on are not blessings from God because He is the giver of all good things, but are they truly the measure of what it means to be blessed and the answer is quite simply – no!  Well what makes you so sure Darryl – you might ask.  At the onset of His public ministry, Jesus gave one of five long discourses made throughout His ministry and the first topic the Lord addresses is none other than the declarations of blessedness.
Jesus said, “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.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  (Matthew 5:3-9)
Notice Jesus did not say blessed are those who have successful careers, big houses, or pools, but rather He focuses on the internal nature – who we are on the inside.
  
The term blessed in the original Greek is “Makarios” and pronounced “mak-ar'-ee-os.”  The term refers to the sheer spiritual delight shared by the people of God in the salvation of which was once promised and is now offered through Jesus Christ.  Therefore, let us examine a few of these beatitudes to gain a better understanding of what it means to be blessed.

To be poor in spirit is to empty ourselves of everything so that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit by way of Christ Jesus.  It is coming to the realization that we have a sinful nature, we cannot, in any way shape or form, save ourselves, and that we are in dire need of His amazing saving grace.  In other words, we come to the realization that when it comes to the kingdom of God everything else is immaterial e.g. our wealth, our possessions, even that of ourselves.  
John the Baptist puts it another way and though in a different context, the concept is the same saying, “He must increase, I must decrease.”  (John 3:30)
Now Darryl, wait a minute, is this saying I need to give away all my possessions and wealth to be poor in spirit?  Well yes and no – Yes, if your possessions and wealth hinder or obstruct your relationship with God and no, if you use them in a way that serves and glorifies Him.

To understand what it means to be poor in spirit, let us look at the attributes of what it means for someone to be rich in spirit.  A person who is rich in spirit is arrogant, boastful, and self-assured and we have all met that kind of person and surely at one time or another we have each been that person.  Well then, what does it mean to be poor in spirit - a person who is poor in spirit is of course, humble, modest, and not one who is self-assured, but rather one who is Christ-assured!

The Greek word for mourn is “penqeo” and it is pronounced “pen-theh'-o”or.”  It means to lament or grieve over something or someone i.e. to have one’s heart weighted down with sadness.  People often relate this with the passing of a family member or friend, but what about those who are yet living among us such as the homeless, the abused, and the neglected.

In other words, do you mourn for that person who has become ill with cancer even though he/she had treated you poorly in the past, and do you mourn for the countless children who are slaughtered daily while still in their mother’s womb?  How about this one being do you mourn for those who have rejected the gospel and destined themselves to the eternal lake of fire?  If so, the bible teaches that you are blessed and that you shall be comforted.

Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was the epitome of what it is to be gentle.  Did Jesus treat Nicodemus harshly because he did not understand what He meant by being born again?  What about the Samaritan woman being did Jesus treat her with disgust in response to her seemingly sharp-tongue towards Him?  Are you gentle towards others for this is how Jesus built a many bridges per se to share the gospel? 

One time when my wife was out on visitation with two other church members, one of the people they visited was simply not buying the gospel.  After talking a bit more one team member flatly said with a stern voice, “Look if you do not repent, you are going to hell!”  Well, he might have put that person in his/her place and won the debate, but in the process, he no doubt burnt the bridge and might have very well lost the opportunity to win the soul.  Jesus’ gentleness towards others allowed a bridge to be built and the gospel to be shared, souls to be won, and God to be glorified.  Are you gentle towards others?

A peacemaker is one who persistently pursues peace with all peoples in as much as it depends on his or herself.  In other words, our pursuit of peace as Christians is to be an endless process that is internally driven and not for mere outward appearances.  Most people use the baseball rule of three strikes and you are out, but that is not a reflection of our heavenly Father’s character for if it was, mankind would have struck out long ago my friend!

Yes, but Darryl you say, you do not know what that person said to me or how that co-worker treats me every day or how my family member has always belittled me.  I tell you this does not matter because we must keep ourselves accountable to the Lord and let the Holy Spirit deal with those individuals. 

There is of course the blessedness that comes to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and extend mercy towards others.  However, the last two beatitudes seem to be the culminating result of living in step with the first seven. 
Jesus said, “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)
A person who is poor in spirit, mournful and gentle, hungry and merciful, peaceable and pure at heart will face persecution from the world.  Moreover, Jesus said such people are blessed for theirs is the kingdom of heaven and the reward that awaits them in heaven is great.  This therefore begs the question dear brother/sister, are you blessed as the scriptures teach?

Have a blessed week!



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6 comments:

  1. Hi Darryl,

    I received your reply on Steve's blog and wanted to drop and let you know that I am accepting your invite and will be following your blog! I look forward to reading your thoughts. I invite you to follow mine as well. In addition, I also have a devotional blog (like yours) called at jesusthewild.blogspot.com

    God bless!

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    1. Marcos,

      Thank you for stopping by and signing on as a follower, and for the kind invitation to visit your web blog of which I certainly will do so.

      Blessings!

      Delete
  2. Hi Darryl,
    I think if someone were to ask me how the Lord has blessed me, I believe I would say 'by coming into my life thirty years ago.' My favourite scripture sums up the blessing that He is to me. 'I love thee O Lord my strength.' God bless

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    1. As always, wonderfully said Sister Brenda and of your heart that clearly shows in all your writings, I know is full of the Holy Spirit.

      Blessings!

      Delete
  3. Really great thoughts Darryl. The abundant possessions that we have in America tend to skew our definition of what it means to be blessed. We so often look at the physical/temporal over the spiritual/eternal. It is good for us to give thanks for these physical blessings but they can also cause us to think that they are of most importance. Thanks for reminding us of what it really is to be blessed.

    The greatest blessing that I have is simply that I "know" the Lord and am "known" by Him. The salvation in Him will never be lost.

    "Let him who boasts, boast of this, that he understands and knows Me" -Jeremiah 9:24

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    1. Hi Scott,

      Thank you for the kind accolade of which I give to God for He is the true speaker. Yes, I agree in that people are becoming more focused on the physical/temporal as you say than ever before and yet, all the while, they do not know that it obscures their vision to see the world as it really is and God for who He is.

      Thank you for the added commentary and the life application scripture of which all should not only ponder, but also put into practice.

      Blessings!

      Delete

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