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Blessed are the Meek - Matthew 5:5

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. - Matthew 5:5

Our society does not value meekness. We honor the ambitious; we reward the “self-starters.” Meekness is considered by many to be synonymous with weakness. In business and in relationships, people are encouraged to be more bold. Those who are not are pitied. For how else are we to get what we want, and our culture is all about getting what we want.

But the Kingdom of Heaven has completely different priorities. As we have seen in the Beatitudes, the Kingdom belongs to the poor in spirit, those who are aware that their sin leaves them morally and spiritually bankrupt, and in no position to negotiate a deal for salvation with God. We must cast ourselves on Him and plead His mercy; and He does respond in mercy. As Jesus says in John 6:37, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

The second beatitude says “Blessed are those who mourn.” It is not that mourning is inherently beneficial, but grief over our sin is the only right response to having transgressed against a God Who has loved us so well. As we are initially forgiven and brought into the kingdom of heaven, our former way of life and the remaining effects of sin will cause us to mourn. But those who mourn will be comforted, as God continually gives grace and forgiveness.

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 09:06 -- john_hendryx

Those Who Mourn - Matthew 5:4

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

The first and possibly most famous part of the Sermon on the Mount consists of a series of eight statements, each of which begins with the phrase, “Blessed are the . . . .” In the Latin Vulgate, this portion is entitled “Beatitudenes,” which comes from the word for “happiness,” and is the origin of the common English name for this section, The Beatitudes.

A common misunderstanding about the Beatitudes comes from this title. The Beatitudes are not a recipe for how to be happy. Because of our highly individualized society, contemporary Western readers in particular read the Bible as a self-help book, but to read the Beatitudes that way would actually get them backwards. They do tell us how to attain happiness, but they describe a settled joy that is the result of membership in the Kingdom of Heaven. Citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven, though, originates with Christ and His call to us to follow Him. We cannot simply use Him as a means to our own self-fulfillment.

A second way the Beatitudes can be misunderstood is if they are read as isolated, unrelated statements. Each of the Beatitudes is, in fact, related to the others, and the order in which they appear is intentional and important.

The first Beatitude is, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (v. 3).” As discussed earlier, “poor in spirit” does not mean we are discouraged by our lack of wealth, but refers to our spiritual poverty, the lack of anything innately good or righteous in us. When we realize our moral bankruptcy before God and that we have no means to bargain with Him so that we might enter His kingdom, we come to Him humble and broken and He receives us on the basis of Christ’s finished work at the cross, and not because of anything that we have done.

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 09:16 -- john_hendryx

A Kingdom for the Poor - Matthew 5:1-3

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:1-3

      When the time for Jesus to begin His earthly ministry, he was baptized by John.  John protested, “But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 4:14-15).”

      Jesus then went into the wilderness, where He fasted for 40 days, was tempted by the devil (4:1-11), and emerged victorious. 

     Having prepared Himself this way ceremonially and spiritually, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (4:17).”  The Kingdom of Heaven was always central to Jesus’ preaching.

He next called His disciples (4:18-22) and taught them, too, about the Kingdom.  His first extended teaching in Matthew 5-7 is called the Sermon on the Mount.  It is not a plea for repentance to the undecided, but is instruction about what Kingdom living looks like to those who have been called by Jesus to be His disciples.  The crowds were present (v. 1), and Jesus is always speaking to those who will listen, but as He sat on the Mount to teach, His intended audience was the disciples He had just called.  His teaching still applies to the church today.  If we would follow Jesus, we need to be aware that we are submitting to the King of the Kingdom of Heaven.  And the Sermon on the Mount tells us what Kingdom living looks like.

Sat, 08/02/2014 - 17:02 -- john_hendryx

The Servant of Justice - Isaiah 42:1, 5-9

1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.

Thus says God, the Lord,
    who created the heavens and stretched them out,
    who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
    and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
    I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
    a light for the nations,
    to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord; that is my name;
    my glory I give to no other,
    nor my praise to carved idols.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
    and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
    I tell you of them.”

Isaiah 42:1, 5-9

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 02:32 -- john_hendryx

Reason to Rejoice - Psalm 118

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
    that I may enter through them
    and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
    the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
    and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Without notice of the context, this quote from Psalm 118 has come to mean something like, “God is our Creator. God is good. Life is good. Enjoy it.” All of this is true, in a sense. But in its context it really means so much more.

Psalm 118 is another Messianic psalm, which means it refers to the life and ministry of Christ. Verse 22 is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 21 in reference to the Pharisees’ rejection of Him as the Christ. They rejected Him, but He is the foundation, the standard of all that is straight and true for His people. Jesus continues, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits (Matthew 21:43).” So rejecting Him forfeits our place in His kingdom, and we must bear fruit to confirm we are His.

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:42 -- john_hendryx

A Priest Forever - Psalm 119:4-7

4 The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand;
    he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
    filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
    over the wide earth.
He will drink from the brook by the way;
    therefore he will lift up his head.

The biggest question for readers of this second half of Psalm 110 today may well be, “Who is Melchizedek?” As we saw in the earlier verses, this is a Messianic psalm, teaching us something about the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. It is the Messiah to come that the Lord appears to be addressing when He compares Him to Melchizedek, so the more we know about Melchizedek, the more we know about Jesus Christ.

Melchizedek first appears in Genesis. After a great battle with five kings, Abraham rescued his nephew, Lot, and many others who had been taken captive. Melchizedek, king of Salem (later, Jerusalem), and priest of God Most High, brought Abraham bread and wine and blessed him:

All we know about Melchizedek at this point is that his name means, “King of Righteousness,” and he is king of the city called, “Peace” (Hebrews 7). But how can he be the priest of God Most High centuries before God instructed Moses on Mt. Sinai about proper worship for God’s people? The writer to the book of Hebrews list additional mysteries about Melchizedek: “He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life (Hebrews 7:3).”

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:44 -- john_hendryx

David’s Lord - Psalm 110

1 The Lord says to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The Lord sends forth from Zion
    your mighty scepter.
    Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
    on the day of your power,
    in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
    the dew of your youth will be yours.

Psalm 110 is another messianic psalm, a psalm that teaches us about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus used this psalm Himself to teach about the identity of the Christ. The Pharisees knew that the coming Christ would be the son or descendant of David. And they were content with a human monarch, one who would be as great and victorious as David. But Jesus opened their eyes to something more.

What do you think about the Christ?” He asked. “Whose son is he?”
They said to him, “The son of David.”
He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:25 -- john_hendryx

The Response of the Redeemed - Psalm 22:22-31

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
    the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
    but has heard, when he cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
    May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 12:55 -- john_hendryx

Deliver My Soul - Psalm 22:16-21

For dogs encompass me;16 a company of evildoers encircles me;they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—17 they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, 18 and for my clothing they cast lots.9 But you, O LORD, do not be far off O you my help, come quickly to my aid! 20Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

These verses from Psalm 22 clearly identify it as Messianic. The details given correspond directly to events of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which took place a thousand years after David wrote the psalm.Verse 16 says, “they have pierced my hands and fee,” which is consistent with Roman crucifixion,” and “I can count all of my bones,” may refer to the posture of the victim, with arms spread wide above the height of the shoulders, exposing the ribs. That the soldiers attending the execution would “divide [his] garments among them,” would in itself be a particular detail unique to Christ’s crucifixion, but verse 18 also says, “for my clothing they cast lots.” John 19:23-24 indicates that Jesus’s tunic was woven of one piece of fabric, so rather than tearing it, they cast lots. That both of these details correspond to the crucifixion of Jesus is remarkable. Fulfillment of prophecies like these confirm our belief and trust in both the Old Testament Scriptures and the gospels, and with the gospels their testimony to the person and work of Jesus.

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 13:12 -- john_hendryx

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