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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Matthew 5 - Advice for living


Who is blessed?

Welcome back, folks!  

I am so excited to announce we are going to explore Matthew Chapter 5 during the next few weeks!

Take a moment to read the first ten verses now.

I've been inspired to read Matthew 5 by my dear friends at the East St. Louis Christian Activity Center   (CAC).  This is a beautiful ministry in one of the poorest and oldest housing projects in East St. Louis, IL.  We are going to explore The Sermon on the Mount with some of the 600+ children who pour through our doors each day.

The Sermon will be the basis for our devotionals each evening after school at CAC. I think it's good for all of us to explore it thoroughly.

I wish I'd been sitting listening to Jesus speak these mind-boggling words! He climbed to the side of a mountain.  Curious onlookers followed.  His audience was full of the poor and downtrodden.  Mathew 4:23 speaks about the crowds who gathered around Jesus:

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. -- Matthew 4:23

First of all, we should understand the culture in which Jesus spoke.  The poor were given no consideration. Women had no identity.  Misery and hardship were lifestyles.  Many in Jesus audience were intimately aware of the agony of struggling through life.

Life was hard. People were trapped in their misery. But one day,  on the side of  a mountain, Jesus told them their lives and struggles had meaning and purpose.

This was a riveting moment in time.  Jesus begins with the Beatitudes, which means supreme blessedness. -- -Just imagine how these words impacted the people who listened!  No one had ever spoken these revolutionary concepts before:

The poor were blessed.  The mourners were blessed. The humble were blessed. 
The merciful were blessed. The persecuted were blessed! 

-WOW! Can you imagine how each ragged, downtrodden listener in the crowd felt?  Never before had their lowly state been heralded as "blessed."

Jesus' words empowered people who were powerless.  His words touched the hearts of the lowly.  His words gave hope to the hopeless.

-- Perhaps your heart sags with the weight of poverty, humility, loss or persecution...

Remember the Beatitudes!  

Jesus gives us meaning, power .... and LIFE!

Let's close the day by reading Jesus' words a few times...then we'll explore MORE on another day!


"Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are they who mourn, 
for they shall be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, 
for they shall inherit the earth. 

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
for they shall be satisfied. 

Blessed are the merciful, 
for they shall obtain mercy. 

Blessed are the pure of heart, 
for they shall see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, 
for they shall be called children of God. 

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 5:3-10


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be·at·i·tude
bēˈatiˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
  1. supreme blessedness.
    synonyms:blessednessbenedictiongrace
    blissecstasyexaltation, supreme happiness, divine joy, divine rapture; 
    saintliness, sainthood
    "the everlasting beatitude"




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