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Archive for February 22nd, 2010

Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes (Matt.5:3-11)

“Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

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

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

My Fellow Pilgrims,

Having shared with you my reflections on the first five Beatitudes dealing with, the brokenness of spirit that leads us to the “Beatitudes of Conversion”, I now, with much trepidation, share with you my reflections on the “Beatitudes of Expression”. These are the beatitudes that conclude the work of the Holy Spirit in us – that brings us into full conformity to the to the “image of Christ” – the outward expression of the life of Christ in us.

Notice, that I say, “with trepidation”, because in sharing my reflections with you, I need to admit to you that what I am sharing is only what I see ahead for me in my walk of discipleship. Right now, I go in and out of this stage in my spiritual growth as the Holy Spirit is still working on my conversion phase.  The works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) are being pruned from me so that the fruit of the Spirit might come forth to His glory (Gal. 5:22-23)!  The beatitudes I am reflecting on, here, are what give me hope as I continue my walk along the path of discipleship.

Thus, as I proceed to tell you what is in my heart, I ask your loving understanding and prayers and request that you please submit what I am sharing to discernment, in prayer, through the Holy Spirit and the Word Of God. Praised Be The Holy Name!

The Sixth Beatitude: Blessed are the Pure in Heart, for they shall see God …

This beatitude poses what appear to be two impossible challenges of faith to the dedicated disciple who, by now has all his focus on drawing near to the Father by yielding himself totally to the Spirit of Jesus, so that in Him and through Him we may come into communion with the Father.

These two challenges of faith are:  (1) How can man with a fallen human nature obtain to the purity of heart required to draw near to the throne of the Most High? (2) How can man with a fallen human nature see the transcendent and Holy God who is beyond our nature to see? After all, scripture tells us that when Moses asked to see the Lord God the Lord said, …

“I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.  But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.’ (Ex.33:18-20)

And the Book of Psalms (Ps24: 3-4) poses the two rhetorical questions …

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?

And who shall stand in his holy place?

And provides a seemingly unachievable rhetorical response …

[Only] Those who have clean hands and pure hearts..”

For the Old Testament believer these were indeed formidable barriers to coming to know or see the Holy God, the Creator of heaven and Earth.

Even the High Priest who entered the Holy of Holies once every year could only come into the Sacred Presence before the Ark of the Covenant after a sacred ritual of purification in the holy Laver and bearing the Blood of the Holocaust Victim in his hands. Any impurity or deficiency, either in ritual or in his person, would result in certain death.

But, ah! Brethren, we must not forget that we are “New Creations” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) and we come before the Throne of Grace not on the basis of our own righteousness or works (Heb. 4:16). We have the imputed potential to come near, in faith, robed in the Righteousness of the Son and through His cleansing blood!

But the decision is ours, we must, in faith, put on our “New Man” in Christ (Rom: 13:14). We must transition from an imputed righteousness to our own expressed righteousness or holiness (flawed though it may be) so that we can truly be a living expression of the very life of Christ in us. We must cry out to the Lord just as David, in his repentance, cried out for the Lord to create in him a clean heart.

“You desire truth in the inward being;

therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,

and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and put a new and right spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from your presence,

and do not take your holy spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and sustain in me a willing spirit.” (Ps. 51: 6-12)

Now if we have just emerged from the conversion/repentance experience, as through the Beatitude of Holy Mourning, we have lived this prayer ourselves. But if we, on the way through the other beatitudes, have sinned, and separated ourselves from the Lord, we must, at this point, return to the Beatitude of Holy Mourning so that, with a pure heart, we can proceed again in our quest to enter the Beatitudes of Expression, where the Lord so rules in our being that everything we do, or say, or think, comes from His Heart in us and NOT from our own desires or thinking.

The Lord wants to set us free from the burden of guilt and from the destructive force of sin in our personal lives. He wants to purify our hearts and renew our minds so we can love and act in every situation as he would love and act. The Lord is ready to change and purify our hearts through the grace and help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God through his Word and Spirit first brings sin into the light that we may recognize it for what it truly is and call upon his mercy and grace for pardon and healing. The Spirit of truth is our Consoler and Helper. His power and grace enables us to choose what is good and to reject what is evil.

It is in just such a cycle of purification that I find myself in. For a moment, it seems, that I enter the expressive phase of the beatitudes and in that moment I am no longer my own, but Jesus’. However, because I still have trouble keeping my flesh under control, very shortly, I find myself responding to the flesh rather than to the spirit and thus I fall from the grace to which the Holy Spirit had taken me.

Then, through the compassionate Grace of the Holy Spirit, I regress back to the Holy Mourning and the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion that restore me again to the place where I can be an instrument of His Grace and His Love in this world!  In this purification process, I find that the more frequently I partake of these sacraments the longer I am able maintain my state as His instrument of Love in this world. Praised Be His Holy Name!

Whenever, I am in this state I find myself more and more open to see what God is doing in and around me and this permits me follow Him, obey Him, and thus complete His work in this world. Remember, Jesus only did something if He saw the Father doing it (John 5:19), and He was able to see what His Father was doing because of His intimate relationship with Him. In this way we see the Father as Jesus saw Him. Also as, we obey the Father in our lives through the Spirit of Jesus in us, our intimate relation with Jesus permits us to see the Father, for, after all , He is the image of  the triune God incarnate!

It is essential, then, that as we progress in our pilgrim’s walk, we keep in mind that it is in maintaining this intimate relationship with Jesus that we are able to “see” the Father and His Love so that, through this “seeing”, His purpose in us may be fully accomplished. Remember what Jesus told His disciples …

“If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ ” (John 14:7-9)

It is at this stage, when you are totally yielded to the Spirit of His Love and “see God” through Jesus, that all that you do is anointed with God’s Love – the “agape” or divine Love that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Corinthians when he declares that,

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1Cor. 13:1-3)

That is why it is so important that we as Christians yield ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit and through a Pure Heart maintain our communion with the Son. In this way, and only in this way, can we truly be the instruments of His Love in this world!

But we must be very careful in our walk at this stage. We must not presume that due to our state of intimate fellowship with Jesus that we cannot fall. In fact, because of our human tendencies we are even more susceptible to fall into sin, especially, the sin of spiritual pride.  Thus we must be very honest with ourselves and with Our Lord regarding our weaknesses, asking for the graces we need to keep from falling. As you proceed, keep in mind the following scriptures …

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:5-10)

“Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.” (1John 2:4-6)

Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.” (1John 3:2-3)

I conclude with this quotation from “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas A Kempis:

“You must bring to God a clean and open heart if you wish to attend and see how sweet the Lord is. Truly you will never attain this happiness unless His Grace prepares you and draws you on so that you may forsake all things to be united with Him.” (Chapter 8, The Intimate Friendship with Jesus)

I pray, brethren, that my sharing with you has helped you on your spiritual Journey. In my next posting I will continue with my reflections on the remaining  “Beatitudes of Expression”. In the meantime I exhort you to enter into your secret place with the Lord and ask Him to evaluate your spiritual progress so that you can determine those aspects of your spiritual walk need to be corrected or strengthened by Him.

May the Lord richly bless you as you walk along the Narrow Path with Him!

Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, 2010, all rights reserved

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Related Links:

Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 1)

Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 2)

Surrendering to Divine Love

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