DAY 12 BEATITUDES – GALATIANS 5:16-26

12BLESSED ARE THE MEEK

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

The phrase that hit me was let us not be “provoking one another”. It seems to really come from the opposite spectrum of meekness. Provoking is all over Facebook and social media these last few days. I’m afraid the Christians seems to be some of the biggest “provokers”. This makes my heart so sad.

The referenced sermon, (http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/blessed-are-the-meek) written in 1986, is a well-considered understanding of meekness – from many angles of Scripture. I can only say how frustrating it is to see some of today’s most prominent Christian ministries post and write words so completely contrary to the truth presented here.

Either truth is truth all the time or it is conditional and circumstantial. I believe the former to be correct. We all do well to apply it that way.

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DAY 11 BEATITUDES – MATTHEW 5:5

11BLESSED ARE THE MEEK, FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH.

I really appreciate the link listed on IFEQUIP today from ONE OF THE KIMS.  (see below).  Having researched this word in the past – credit to Precept studies – I knew it mean “strength under control.”  I’m sure the context was in understanding what Jesus meant when he used this to identify himself in many passages.

These are the thoughts that have encouraged me today.

In the Old Testament meekness referred to one who endured undesirable circumstances – externally vulnerable and weak but inwardly resilient and strong. “Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up. The use of the Greek word when applied to animals makes this clear, for it means “tame” when applied to wild animals.”

♦ How do I choose to respond in the hard places of life? Will I use my inner resilience to persevere or take up my outer strength to fight?

God, the Father cannot be identified with a definition of submission “nevertheless, in the incarnation Jesus is freely described as meek, a concomitant of his submission to suffering and to the will of the Father ( Matt 11:29 ; 21:5 ; 2 Cor. 10:1 ).”

♦ This depicts Jesus in his humanity. I am always amazed when I realize how he modeled exactly what it looks like to live in right connection with the Father. It could certainly not be said that Jesus was without strength.  So many times he demonstrated that strength under control – yielded to the Father’s will in every circumstance. I have no further to go than to consider my actions in light of His example in all things.

“”Meekness” in the New Testament (praotes, prautes) is not merely a natural virtue, but a Christian “grace”; it is one of the “fruits of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:23).”

♦ Lastly I think understanding meekness to be a fruit of the Spirit gives a more complete picture of the concept. You can’t leave out this piece. Acting “meek” is not simply an act of my own will and flesh. To think of it that way is to conjure up something I can do in my own strength that pleases God. There is nothing that meets that standard apart from the Holy Spirit’s work in me. Let me be careful to remember this point if I were ever asked to define Biblical meekness.

HTTP://WWW.BIBLESTUDYTOOLS.COM/DICTIONARY/MEEKNESS/

DAY 10 BEATITUDES – MATTHEW 5:4 DISCUSSION

candle“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED”

Have you noticed we have been talking this week about mourning while Charleston has happened in our midst?  Mourning is right in our collective faces and we cannot turn our eyes away.

I cannot write about it.

Suffice it to say, the enemy comes to kill and destroy.  He works on so many levels until a wide-open display cannot help but to explode.   There is carnage, and grief and anger and gapping wounds lay bare.  If we are not, we should be undone – MOURNING.

Into this Jesus speaks what we cannot imagine – there will be comfort.

Though your sins are as scarlet they shall be whiter than snow.

DAY 9 BEATITUDES – JOHN 11:17-44

9MARY: ONE WHO MOURNED

…he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled…Then Jesus, deeply moved again…

When Jesus saw how sad were Mary and the mourners, when he saw the tomb that incased his friend Lazarus, when he heard the questioning of His love and care for his friends – the doubt, the trying to apply their theology to their situation – Jesus was angry and agitated.

It’s not the flavor I expect from this story but that’s the basic meanings behind the words.  Frankly I think he was ticked at the reality and consequence of the broken world.  I get it.

Death was never his intention – nor was sadness and pain. Not trusting Him was not the original idea.  He started with a garden to walk in with the people He created.  He would care for them and in turn they would live in unbroken fellowship with Him.  That was the idea.

But, I think, on this day, Jesus experienced human grief and fury over the whole situation. He wept with those who were weeping but I think He was grieving over a greater loss.

I’m glad to know it’s okay to weep angry tears when things are not as they should be.  There are things to mourn.  But, one day, anger and tears will be replaced – there will be resurrection.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

———-

DEEPLY MOVED – 1690 embrimáomai (from 1722 /en, “engaged in” and brimaomai, “to snort”) – properly, snort like an angry horse; (literally) “snort (roar) with rage” (BAGD) which expresses strong indignation, i.e. deep feeling that is moved to sternly admonish (A-S).

TROUBLED –  5015 tarássō – properly, put in motion (to agitate back-and-forth, shake to-and-fro); (figuratively) to set in motion what needs to remain still (at ease); to “trouble” (“agitate”), causing inner perplexity (emotional agitation) from getting too stirred up inside (“upset”).

DAY 8 BEATITUDES – 2 COR. 1:3-7 & 1 JOHN 1:9

8FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED

Afflictions, all of them, will be met with God’s comfort.  The word affliction speaks to an internal pressure that feels like we have no way out – no options.  It stands in contrast to another Greek word for pressure that is caused by external circumstances.  In thinking about this difference, sin is definitely an affliction that comes with but one way out.  And the comfort of knowing God is faithful to forgive and cleanse cannot be overestimated – or comprehended for that matter.  How would one go on?

Then, as only God can envision, we who have received comfort are given the ability and task of offering comfort to others.  We did not have to experience the exact same affliction though we commonly use this idea to somehow justify and give purpose to our sorrows.  Rather, what we have to offer is not our experience of pain – it is our experience of COMFORT.

When this passage speaks of the sufferings of Christ it is the word for “passion”.  Passion is the capacity and privilege to experience strong feelings, like agony, ardent desire, suffering, etc. It must be the ability to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Rom. 12)

This does not come naturally to me – this empathy.  It is certainly not that I have failed to experience affliction.  Nor is it that I have missed being comforted by God.  I think it is the walls of self-protection that allow me to stand safely away from feeling someone else’s pain.  Jesus felt our pain.  He sat with us in it.  He connected to us without thought to his own comfort.  Comfort goes out when we let the other person in.

Empathy – is something God is growing in me.  It’s slow and intentional work. But like never before, I want to be a comfort courier.

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Sufferings (Christ’s sufferings) – passion – the capacity to feel strong emotion, like suffering. Properly, the capacity and privilege of experiencing strong feeling; felt, deep emotion, like agony, passion/ardent desire, suffering, etc. 3804 /páthēma (“strong feeling”) includes affliction (suffering), which should always (ideally) result in knowing God’s glory – like going through difficulties (persecution, etc.) in faith. Note the -ma suffix, emphasizing the end-result (experiencing strong feeling).]

DAY 7 BEATITUDES – PSALM 32 & 2 COR. 7:9-11

7BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah PS 32

It is extremely uncomfortable to be at odds with God – that’s my personal experience. I know what it is to have his hand heavy upon me.  To the exact opposite extreme is the recognition that when I confess, I have been forgiven.  More than just forgiven – restored, and surrounded by His love and protection.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Cor. 7

Grief is the same except for the modifiers. The NASV says sorrow. Is it Godly grief or worldly grief?  The word for grief used here is different than the one for “mourn” in the beatitude.  It means distress or vexation; physical or emotional pain.

Since this kind of distress (more than discomfort) comes in two distinction flavors, it is important to determine from whence the pain comes.

First, it would be nice to discount such vexation and say “oh God never allows this so it’s not from him” but clearly He does, not only allow, but has a particular purpose for it.  Nice try!

Secondly, the worldly kind has an outcome of death.  Not the end result most appealing so it makes source detection all the more important.

I can tell you that when in this kind of pain, my judgement is not too reliable.  The only viable solution is to take this to the Lord.  He is ever willing to sort it out.

If it is found to be a sorrow God is choosing to use, He will offer restoration through repentance.  He will remove my sin as far as the east is from the west and there will be no regret – the slate is completely clean.

Worldly sorrow – that’s tricky.  I’ll have to think what that implies.  Definitely there is sorrow from not getting my way or lusting for something I know I can’t entertain.  Maybe it is like pouting and stomping my feet and acting all broken-hearted and pitiful, hoping I can fool my Father God into giving in.  So glad He is not a pushover.  He can see right through my angst and knows the danger that lurks in my demands.  I think He will gladly hold me close and remind me:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;I will counsel you with my eye upon you.Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle,or it will not stay near you.Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
PS 32

DAY 6 BEATITUDES – MATTHEW 5:4

6

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN, FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED.

MOURN : 3996 penthéō – properly, grieve over a death; (figuratively) to grieve over a personal hope (relationship) that dies, i.e. comes to divine closure (“ends“). “Mourn over a death” refers to “manifested grief” (WS, 360) – so severe it takes possession of a person and cannot be hid. (This is the same meaning of 3996 /penthéō throughout antiquity, cf. LS, R. Trench, Synonyms.)

Signifying grief manifested; too deep for concealment. Hence it is often joined with κλαίειν, to weep audibly.

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While today’s video indicates one view – that this mourning refers to mourning over our personal sin – all commentators do not limit the usage this way.  So, too, I believe mourning to have a more inclusive application.

Of course to see the word Mourn today, in America, one’s first thought is Charleston.  The people of that church, that city, that State are mourning.  We as a nation and as the Body of Christ mourn with them and for them.  It is our freshest example of manifest grief joined with tears.

Our hearts are broken for so many reasons.  Senseless violence – Devastated families  -Good people gone too soon -A boy so misguided (the same age as my own grandson) – The ugly reality, we as a nation harbor racism deep within our DNA -The uncomfortable and unavoidable truth that as white people we are infected and carriers of this deadly disease. We must and do weep.  The burden of sin is so great.

Jesus offers comfort for mourners.  Of course there will be comfort when His Kingdom is fulfilled, on earth as it is in heaven.  But right now, we, individually and corporately, only have two choices for comfort in the moment of our grieving.

Like the surgeon treating a body riddled with cancer, we can look deep into the incision and determine there is no hope.  Sew them up and say try to live the best you can.  We are powerless.

Or the other choice?  Radiation by the Comforter himself.  Tattoo the spot.  Target the adversary. Eradicate the enemy. It will hurt before it gets better but He is powerful.

All mourning will lead us to Jesus.  Maybe we go in anger or pain or fury or despair but He is both a precise surgeon and tender comforter.

Today I have signed the consent forms for a radical removal of racism and prejudice.  I have no idea how deep it runs.  I have only recently come to know it was there.  It’s deadly so it’s got to go.

I plan to be a survivor and an advocate for healing.  It’s time people – it’s past time.

DAY 5 BEATITUDES – MATTHEW 5:3

5“BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.”

This is a common response when some “American” returns from serving in an impoverish place:  “They didn’t have hardly anything but they were content – even joyful and they were grateful to God.”  This amazes us.

I think it amazes because we first wonder how they live without the conveniences that are minimal and expected in our culture – like toilets with running water. It’s a challenge to go to France for heaven’s sake, where the toilet is in a separate place from the sink to wash your hands – but a hole in the ground behind a shower curtain in the local church building?  I call this culture shock.  It’s normal and if you stay someplace long enough you’ll get over it.

So, let’s disregard culture shock.

The real amazement to us relates to possessions = joy.  Of course we would never admit in our own lives that this equation is right.  In fact, we work hard to rail against the notion.  But, unfortunately, it is secretly embedded in our DNA.  We divide into the “have stuff” people and the “don’t have stuff” people.  The “have stuffs” should be happy.  Conversely, the “don’t have stuffs” should be sad.  It’s kind of revealing and we should struggle to uncover why we have drawn such a conclusion.  It’s a fair trade then.  The wealthy American has given aid and returned with the gift of insight.

So what does this have to do with being POOR IN SPIRIT?

It just got me thinking about material things and how POOR people don’t have them.  Which led me to ponder how being POOR IN SPIRIT might mean I have no possessions to give to God.

Which led to these thoughts:

  • What if I woke up every day and acknowledged to myself and to God that I was lacking in everything essential?
  • What if these empty hands were held up and had to wait for Him to fill them?
  • What if I really practiced acting as poor as I actually am?

Jesus said this posture was “blessed”.  That’s the word for happy….maybe even joy.  I think I’d be amazed.

DAY 4 BEATITUDES – PSALM 51:1-7

4

LET ME HEAR JOY AND GLADNESS; LET THE BONES THAT YOU HAVE BROKEN REJOICE.

My emotions flare at the extremes – deep grief, blazing anger on one end and marketing levels of excitement on the other.  The middle stuff, day to day, I’m mostly neutral.  I am not an emotion expert and truth is, feeling the feelings make me vulnerable and uncomfortable.

That being said, I do know something about the pain of feeling separated from God – and the longing to be restored.  Deep inside my chest my heart is broken.  The ache echoes and amplifies in the hollow space that was once filled with joy.

Now here’s the thing.  It’s not like I was so aware of this giggly happy feeling one might call joy.  It’s not that.  In fact I call it “joy” because when you read this psalm it is what David says is missing ever since his sin against God.   He wants it back.  When it’s me, so do I.

I know nothing can separate me from God literally,  but I also know there is a grieving over sin that feels like separation and brokenness.  This is something the Holy Spirit uses to awaken in me the knowledge of my sin.  It is the triangle of my conscience jabbing my heart just like the Rev. Cochran said would happen when I was 12 and learning the catechism.  It’s a warning I have wandered away.

Confessing the sin that has brought me to this place often requires time and usually tears.  Broken bones hurt.  You have to be in the doctor’s office long enough to set them right.  X-rays are important so you learn just what you’ve done and maybe what you haven’t done.  Through the process grace and mercy form a cast of restoration. Relief comes – flooding the hollowness with the settled sensation of being wholly known and completely loved.

This is what David and I knew we could not live without – joy.

DAY 3 BEATITUDES – MARK 8:34-35 & MATT 18:1-4

3

FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

The Poor in Spirit have in their possession, right this very minute, the Kingdom of Heaven.  It’s present tense – done deal.

What I get from the Mark passage is again the call to Humility. One cannot hold on to their own life, their own ways, their own choices and at the same time think they are “coming after” Jesus.  That’s like trying to run in two opposite directions!  One must lead, one must follow.  Following is both challenging and rewarding work but work none the less.  The job includes self-denial and heavy lifting.   How then are we even able to follow?  Only by reminding ourselves that our personal directions are faulty and in truth, even on a good day, we do not know where we are going.

Matthew 18 speaks to how one enters the Kingdom.  Again the gateway is humility.  One must recognize and acknowledge their neediness.

I am grateful that Jesus pictures our neediness as the neediness of a child.  There is a vast difference between the idea of considering one’s self the scum of the earth and without any value verses being a child who requires a loving and guiding parent.  God, our father and creator, does not approach us in a way that asks us to grovel.  He is not put out or offended by street urchins in ragged clothes – unkempt and dirty.  Instead He approaches us as children who were lost and now found, sons and daughters to celebrate their home coming.

The call to humility is wrapped in very big arms of LOVE.