Pondering the Passages: Matthew 5:1-12

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Memory Verse for the week: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

Matthew 5:1-12

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.

He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Things I notice:

The word ‘blessed’ is used 9 times in this passage. The world’s definition of blessed goes something like this: If I am wealthy, if I am successful, if I am beautiful then I am blessed. Jesus turns this upside down. He gives a radically different definition of what it means to be blessed.

What does it mean to be blessed? The Greek word is makarios. It describes the kind of joy that can’t thwarted by the circumstances of life. The kind of joy that is not dependent on financial wealth or good health or a problem free life. It is a joy that is rooted in God and that triumphs in the face of adversity.

What does it mean to be poor in spirit? To realize that we are spiritually bankrupt. To understand that I have absolutely nothing that can help me win God’s favor – that I am totally and completely dependent upon God to find life and joy and strength.

How is it that those who mourn will be comforted? What is it that they are mourning for? Mourning for their sin. There is a genuine sorrow in those who mourn that goes beyond just saying the words “I’m sorry.” There is heart break when one realizes what their sin has done to God and a desperate need to repent and make things right. What father would not wrap his arms around his child and comfort him when he sees this kind of mourning over sin.

How can I develop a “hunger and thirst for righteousness“? I notice about myself that I hunger and thirst for a lot of things. Food! Sleep! Comfort! Sex! Fun! New disc golf discs! Approval! Techie play toys! But  righteousness – not so much. So how can I begin to hunger and thirst for something that really matters? Here are a few thoughts as I’ve pondered this:

  • I need to become CONVINCED that righteousness is good for me! It’s kind of like eating more fruits and vegetables. I try to do this because I know that they are good for me. When I become convinced that righteousness is better for me than my unrighteous acts then I will crave them more.
  • I need to understand that righteousness is a heart issue and not a “do more good stuff” issue. If I do not desire righteousness then maybe I should examine my heart and deal with its corruption. Example: If I have a clogged artery in my heart the key is NOT to do more exercise – that could kill me. The key is to get the clog cleaned out – and that requires radical and painful surgery. Don’t like the sound of that but the alternative could be devastating as well as deadly.
  • I need to learn how to say “NO!” Titus 2:11 tells me that the grace of God teaches me to say NO to ungodliness and worldly passions. But it is up to me to say no when my desires are screaming YES. I think this is where godly friendships can be huge. I absolutely need you guys who are reading this to encourage me to pursue righteousness – because I promise you, even though I am a pastor, I have a very corrupt heart.

I note also that Jesus uses the hope of heaven and FUTURE reward to encourage and motivate His listeners to live faithfully in the present – even in the midst of persecution and mourning and trouble. Like we saw with Paul last week in Ephesians 1 I get the feeling that Heaven and it’s reward is never far from the mind of Jesus. It’s as if He is moving inexorably toward a goal and NOTHING is going to keep Him from getting there. If you are interested in learning more about Heaven and what we can expect, a really good resource I can recommend is the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn as well as his blog.

Next Passage to Ponder: 1 John 1:1-4

Next Memory Verse: 1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”

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18 thoughts on “Pondering the Passages: Matthew 5:1-12

  1. Jeanne on said:

    I read the Matthew passage earlier in the week while I was going over favorite scriptures. Now I will go back, reread and print this. Thanks.

  2. great insights on the passage Shay. I read Heaven by Randy Alcorn based on your recommendation and loved it. Great great book.

  3. Jennifer J Smith on said:

    God blesses us in and through all things; he fulfills our needs no matter what they may be. Looking back I know that there have been times when I didn’t feel his blessings. This is when I was trying to fill the need instead of allowing God to fill that need. We are a hard headed bunch. How often do we need to be reminded that it is only through God and not our strength that we persevere? God wants to bless us; we just have to get out of the way so that we can receive those blessings.

    We should expect to be persecuted because we are his followers. We should bless those who would want to do us harm, because of all of the blessings that God has given to us. This is extremely hard.
    When is the last time you were hurt to the core and you wanted to turn around and tell the other person that you were going to ask God’s blessings on them. My first thoughts are usually, for God’s vengeance on them instead.
    I think that God is preparing his followers (you and I) to know that we will face opposition because we believe and we follow him. We are to react the same way that God would react, and he will bless us for it in heaven. We tend to forget that our relationship with God is that of a father and child. Since we are his children he is going to allow us the space to make mistakes so that we can learn and grow; but he is also going to reward (Bless) us for listening and following his word.

    I hope that you have had a blessed week.

    • Kim Stewart on said:

      First-Randy are you closet Pondering Passages with Shay? 🙂 I didn’t know you were doing this :O)

      Second-Shay I wrote on my blog before I read your blog so I wouldn’t be tainted by what you said. Love your insight. I’m really enjoying this journey through scripture.

      Third-I have a few questions. Did Jesus go to the mountain to serve as an ampatheatre type area to talk to the crowds or did he go to get away from the crowds? Was he talking to just his disciples or to the entire crowd? How do you know?
      What does inheret the earth mean? Why would we want to inheret the earth?

      Fourth-THANK YOU!

  4. You can go to this site: http://kim-momto5.blogspot.com/ to see what Kim S. had to say – really good thoughts.

  5. Carol Kidd on said:

    Enjoyed the blog today—- Alot to think about–great questions Kim!!

  6. Greg Lineberry on said:

    Shey , Thanks for the insight. Kim ,Great Blog. You guys ROCK. My ponderings from the week. As most of you know what this past year has been for me and my family. It truely has opened my eyes to what being blessed really means. In the past year we have lost all of what we thought we had been blessed with. Finances,health,Jobs,home, everything. The question had crossed my mind. Were we being punished for something, and the infamous “Why?”. I can Honestly say. God has shown me In that time we are and have been more blessed than ever. The greatest blessing God has ever given me is the Holy Spirit who lives within me. Through this God has wrapped his arms around us and used you guys His Church to Rain his love upon us. Its the friendships and relationships that are nurtured in the sharing of His word and His Love. That my friends will endure forever!!I praise and thank God for this journey!! Last of all ,as Shey mentioned. I realize the state of my sinfulness and corruption and ask you guys for encouragement and support through this. To grow and draw closer to Him. I LOVE YOU GUYS !!!!

    • Kim Stewart on said:

      Greg- I just love how honest and real you and Sarah have been through your entire experience. God is and will use all the junk you are going through to bring glory to himself and to draw ya’ll (and others through your testimony) to himeself. I am sorry for the suffering you guys have had to endure but I am excited to see what God is doing in your lives. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately…..because I so don’t get God) God often uses the hard stuff the most. I heard an analogy once about how people are like a vase….and Christians have a bright light (Christ) in the vase (our life) and when life is tough and we get “cracked” it is through those cracks that God’s light can shine the brightest. I just hope you (and Sarah) are encouraged. You guys are in the valley now but you are trusting in THE ONE who will not let you down and who has proven himself to be faithful. Love you guys and can’t wait to see where your journey leads you.

    • Susan Thayer on said:

      What I have learned about hard times is that sometimes you get the greatest blessings that you couldn’t possibly get any other way. For example, when we evacuated from New Orleans due to hurricane Katrina myself and my family experienced a great outpouring of God’s love through His people. People gave to us (material and financial and emotional) things that still to this day will bring tears to my eyes when I think about it. This was a type of putpouring that we couldn’t have experienced if we had not been through the hardship. I’m glad that you are seeing His blessings in the midst of your hardship also.

  7. Fran Tucker on said:

    I have had a hard time getting past the scripture ” poor in spirit”
    To me this means emptied of self and filled with the Spirit. That takes me to my salvation in Jesus Christ. The fact that the blinders were removed and I saw myself for the SINNER I was and wept for hours in repentence. Isaiah when he first saw God for who HE is said “Woe is me…”, Paul “Oh wretched man that I am”
    I still today marvel that God chose to create me and even more that He did not just wipe me and my sin of the face of the earth. But what did HE DO INSTEAD? HE SENT JESUS CHRIST TO REDEEM ME.
    Jesus is my perfect example of how to be poor in spirit
    He left the glory of heaven,made himself of no reputation,took on flesh,lived a sinless life,was obedient unto death,and arose by the power of God. He came to do His Father’s will.
    He did not just leave me “emptied “when I was saved. He filled me with the Holy Spirit
    “poor “in my human spirit but RICH,RICH,RICH because “theirs is the kingdom of heaven!

    I think I need to wake up each morning and shout “Woe is me because God allowed me to see who I am and who HE is!” I really need to work on saying like Isaiah “Here I am LORD send me”
    Also if I don’t have verse #3 confirmed then what would verses 4-12 mean.

    Verse 4 Shay I studied this last summer. During that study I prayed for God to break my heart for what breaks His. HARD to pray. God showed me Sin breaks His heart because it separates us from HIM.
    Three things I was taught in this Kay Arthur study to “mourn over”
    . Sin in our lives
    .Sin in the church
    .Sin in the world
    I have to ask myself when was the last time I truly wept over sin?
    I have to ask myself am I truly concerned that some will not be comforted because they rejected Jesus or worse because I did not tell them?
    God’s Word tells me He wants that all men be saved

    Father God I cry out to you for the apathy I have shown. Forgive me. Help me see the lost as you see them.
    Fran

  8. Janice Elrod on said:

    Jennifer’s post/song made me cry. So pure and sweet….
    I am “Pondering the Passges” with you. Thank you, Shay.

    • Ann Dobies on said:

      Jennifer, wish I could touch someone’s heart like you did. I shed tears just to hear the God-given talent you have. What a wonderful reply.

  9. Kim Stewart on said:

    Oh my gracious! Jennifer….BEAUTIFUL! I just love you!!!! You are AMAZING -your voice-obviously….Your heart…..precious. I JUST LOVE YOU!!!

  10. Susan Thayer on said:

    1. The poor in spirit are happy. These bring their minds to their condition, when it is a low condition. They are humble and lowly in their own eyes. They see their want, grieve over their guilt, and thirst after a Redeemer. 2. Those that mourn are happy. That godly sorrow which worketh true repentance, watchfulness, a humble mind, and continual dependence for acceptance on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, with constant seeking the Holy Spirit, to cleanse away the remaining evil, seems here to be intended. Such mourners shall be comforted by their God. 3. The meek are happy. The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of anything else. These meek ones are happy, even in this world. Meekness promotes wealth, comfort, and safety, even in this world. 4. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are happy. Righteousness is here put for all spiritual blessings. These are purchased for us by the righteousness of Christ, confirmed by the faithfulness of God. Our desires of spiritual blessings must be earnest. Though all desires for grace are not grace, yet such a desire as this, is a desire of God’s own raising, and he will not forsake the work of his own hands. 5. The merciful are happy. We must not only bear our own afflictions patiently, but we must do all we can to help those who are in misery. We must have compassion on the souls of others, and help them; pity those who are in sin, and seek to snatch them as brands out of the burning. 6. The pure in heart are happy; for they shall see God. Here holiness and happiness are fully described and put together. The heart must be purified by faith, and kept for God. Create in me such a clean heart, O God. None but the pure are capable of seeing God, nor would heaven be happiness to the impure. As God cannot endure to look upon their iniquity, so they cannot look upon his purity. 7. The peace-makers are happy. They love, and desire, and delight in peace; and study to be quiet. They keep the peace that it be not broken, and recover it when it is broken. If the peace-makers are blessed, woe to the peace-breakers! 8. Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are happy. This saying is peculiar to Christianity; and it is more largely insisted upon than any of the rest. Yet there is nothing in our sufferings that can merit of God; but God will provide that those who lose for him, though life itself, shall not lose by him in the end. Blessed Jesus! how different are thy maxims from those of men of this world! They call the proud happy, and admire the gay, the rich, the powerful, and the victorious. May we find mercy from the Lord; may we be owned as his children, and inherit his kingdom. With these enjoyments and hopes, we may cheerfully welcome low or painful circumstances. I think my biggest struggle with these is the “hungering and thirsting forrighteousness”. It isn’t always the priority that it should be. If I strived for it more, achieved it more even little by little, I would be happier. Mainly because following the laws of the Lord are effective. As you apply them to your heart they take root and manifest themselves in your life in many ways; relationships, health, community respect, work (financial blessings). I’m with Shey in working on hungering and thristing for righteousness, I’m starting to see the importance of it.

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