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Posts Tagged ‘Poverty of spiirt’

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,

One of the greatest challenges facing us as believers in Christ is that of transitioning from merely being believers to being conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29) as adopted sons and daughters – as heirs of the Kingdom.  The process of being conformed to Him is not our of own doing or ability, it is a process of transformation driven by the Spirit of the Living God who indwells all who believe in the Son, Jesus the Messiah.

It is not a process forced upon us, rather it is a process that we are invited to enter into willingly and freely of our own accord, in faith and out of love, the love of Him who died for us!  It is a yielding that surrenders our total being, spirit, soul and body, so that He may deliver us from the bondage of the world through the renewal of our hearts and minds and in this way conform us to His image and His Spirit to the point where we can all say that “… we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor. 2:16).

This, my brethren, is what the process of becoming a disciple is all about. It is a process that entails a personal cost – namely, our very selves. It the process whereby we divest ourselves of our own ambitions and desires and yield ourselves to Him who has bought us at the cost of His own life through the shedding of His precious blood!

When Jesus called His disciples to a mountainside to teach them (Matthew, Chapter 5) it was not to give them a “pep-talk” but rather, to indicate to them what the cost and depth of their commitment to Him as disciples really signified.  Significantly, Jesus prefaces His teaching, which we refer to as the “Sermon on the Mount”, with a very direct summary of the process which the Holy Spirit will work in them and through them as they enter into the Narrow Gate and begin their walk of discipleship with Him.

In this introduction, the fundamental aphorisms of discipleship, are posed as “Blessings” or “Manifest Favor of God” to let them explicitly understand that what they will be experiencing, is the power of God working through them and in them to bring them to the point where they will sacrifice even their own lives in doing the Father’s will and thus bringing forth His Kingdom on this Earth!

For us, today, these “Beatitudes” are the indicators of where we are in the transition the Holy Spirit is working in us on the way to being conformed to the image of Christ. These Beatitudes represent for us, the progressive phases that all of us, who truly and willingly enter into the walk of discipleship and take on Jesus’ yoke, will experience as we continue on our walk with Him.

Of course, some of us, enter the walk not fully realizing what our commitment to “following Christ” entails, and thus are tempted to opt out of the Walk at the first sign of resistance from the world system in which we live. And there are even some, who attempt to enter the Walk without renouncing the world thus making shipwreck of their faith (1Tim. 1:19). But we, brethren, are of faith and not those who draw back and of whom the Lord says, “my soul has no pleasure in them” (Heb. 10:38).

So, in order to be fully informed and permit the spirit of the Beatitudes to prepare us and guide us in our walk with Him, I will share with you (in summary form) my reflections on the essential elements of these stepping stones into the Kingdom of God in this and the several other postings that will follow this one.

Before I do, let me first point out that for many of us the use of the word “discipleship” is a hindrance because it has been so misused and abused by certain persons who attempt to control and manipulate the people of God under the guise of “authority”.  Let me be clear – when I use the term it is as a personal and private discipline to bring to perfection our relationship with Jesus and the Father.  It merely formalizes what we all as Christians are called to do – hear the voice of God in love and meekly and humbly obey His calling by putting into action the Word of God in our lives, and thus manifesting His Love into this fallen world.

This is something each of us can do in private regardless of our state in life! We don’t have to be monks or nuns, or preachers or deacons. All we need to be is the persons the creator made us to be, whether married or single, ordained or un-ordained, in whatever occupation or profession in which we are currently involved (except a sinful one, of course).

All that the Lord is calling us to is to let His Spirit work in us and through us in our every day lives so that as we become more and more like Jesus, more and more of the Jesus that is in us will be manifested to the world. To do that we have to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and His gifts of discernment and wisdom, otherwise, our own flesh may deceive us and take us down the wrong path. A path that definitely would not be discipleship.

The First Beatitude – “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit …”

The first Beatitude or work of Grace in us is that of bringing each of us to a distinct awareness of the state of our spiritual bankruptcy or poverty. For us adult believers, this usually comes during a crisis in our lives. It may be an emotional, physical or spiritual crisis involving our work, our relationships, our financial status, or our moral situation (or a mix of all of these). In any case, the Holy Spirit uses such circumstances in our lives to help us to understand that we cannot on our own human effort save ourselves, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. To bring us to this self-assessment usually requires that we enter a stage of brokenness so that the shell we have built around our hearts is open to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17)

It is through the brokenness that occurs in such circumstances that Holy Spirit is able to reach our hearts and lets us properly assess our desperate plight so that we are willing to turn to God for help. Remember that Jesus, at another place in scripture, told His disciples, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18 17). It is through this Beatitude or grace that the Holy Spirit brings us to the point in our lives where we become as dependent as a little child so that our hearts are opened to receive God’s saving grace . Praised Be His Holy Name!

Please note that I am speaking of adults becoming as little children – children, who, because of their dependent state, normally are very open to the Spirit and, usually, do not need to be brought to such a stage because they are already “poor in spirit”.

We adult believers, however, because of the worldly environment in which we are forced to live and survive, have made pride and self-sufficiency our idols and, in fact, many of us raise our own children to honor those same idols in their lives. It is to the breaking of these idols to which the first Beatitude speaks. It is the doorway to the rest of the Beatitudes and to the “Kingdom of Heaven” – it is, above all, the doorway we must re-enter when we fall along the Way – as we all do because of the moral weakness inherent in our human nature.

This Beatitude, then, leads directly into the next Beatitude where, when like Peter, we realize we have betrayed the Lord, and are led into the Godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Thus, blessed by this holy mourning as stated in the Second Beatitude, we cooperate with the Spirit of Grace by responding to this sorrow for our sin with a corresponding attitude of repentance. This beatitude and the other four that follow are part and parcel of the inner sub-process of  “conversion” which will be the subject of my next posting.

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As I conclude this particular sharing, my brothers and sisters. I pray that The Spirit of His Love hover over you and inspire in you that which is appropriate for you in your stage of the spiritual walk with Him who died for us all!

May He abundantly bless you … Bartimaeus

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

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