Bible Study: The Beatitudes (Fall 2019)

The Beatitudes, Week 8:   The Crown of Righteousness

Opening Prayer

Read Matthew 5: 1-12

Discuss:  What are the benefits of having the freedom to worship

Discuss:  are you noticing signs that your faith is not always welcomed or appreciated?

Read:  Matthew 5: 10-12

Matthew 5:10-12 The Message (MSG)

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.


Consider: Voices of the Martyrs,

Believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ can be a life-threatening experience in Indonesia.  The government requires everyone to carry an identification card that includes information about religious status.  Roadblocks have been set up to check identification cards, and men have been dragged from their vehicles and chopped into pieces when authorities discover that they profess faith in Christ.  In the last decade, over five hundred churches in Indonesia have been burned.  Prison torture and death are common occurrences.


Read:  5 Countries where it is dangerous (illegal) to own a Bible

North Korea – In this totalitarian state, the only thing that North Koreans are permitted to worship is the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un. Bibles are banned and those found in possession of one face imprisonment, torture and even death – as do up to three generations of their family.

Somalia – Christians residing in Somalia face constant persecution from radical Islamists and government officials. The prevalence of the Islamic extremist group, al-Shabaab means that believers often practise their faith in extreme secrecy and cannot own Bibles.

Maldives – The Maldives have a reputation for being a luxurious idyll but a Bible can get you into trouble in this paradise. Under the country’s strict Islamic laws, importing a Bible is forbidden. There is currently no complete translation of the Bible into Dhivehi, the official language of the tropical nation.

Morocco – It’s against the law to carry a Bible translated into Arabic in Morocco. Reports of overt Christian persecution are few but Christian children are not given a religious education.

Libya – Like Morocco, Libya has laws against bringing Bibles in the Arabic language into the country. The distribution of Bibles and evangelism is illegal.

Uzbekistan – In this Central Asian dictatorship, high penalties are imposed on those who own Bibles. Authorities are known to detain Christians found in possession of the holy book for “keeping and storing extremist materials with the purpose of further distribution.”

Discuss:  These countries make these laws out of fear.  People armed with the word of God are a radical transformative force in the world.

Yet Christianity is estimated to be the most persecuted religion.  Christians all over the world and even in rare instances in North America have been and continue to suffer because of their commitment to Jesus.

April 2002 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights released the following report

We estimate that there are more than 200 million Christians in the world today who do not have full human rights as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, simply because they are Christian…We believe this is  the largest group in the world without full human rights because of their beliefs.   VoM,

Question:  What evidence do you see in the world of persecution against Christians?

What evidence do you see in Canada of persecution against Christians?

Governor General
Quebec Religious Symbols Laws
Speaking at public events not allowed to talk about Jesus

Question:  can you name any people you know who have suffered for their faith?

Have you ever experienced danger as a result of your commitment to Christ?

Ie Columbine shooting… the shooter was asking people if they were Christian and then shooting those who said yes…

Read:  1 Corinthians 12:  12-14, 26-27

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.


Discuss:  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.

Suffering of early Christians:

Fed to lions
Burned at the stake

Used as living torches
Molten lead poured on them
eyes torn out
hands and feet burned

The writers of this study say:

Demonic imagination created suffering as awfully tortuous as possible

It is hard for us to imagine such suffering.  In our context it is even more difficult to imagine that kind of suffering in our day and age.

Yet according to world mission digest in the 20th Century close to 100 million people were martyred for faith in Jesus Christ.

Read Hebrews 13: 3

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Discuss:  why is it important to remember those who are suffering for their faith/our faith?

Read:  1 Peter 3: 14-17

1 Peter 3:14-18 The Message (MSG)

13-18 If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.

Discuss:  What is the guidance we receive from these words of Scripture


Read:   2 Timothy 4: 3-4

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Discuss:  A distinctly anti Christian bias is growing in North America.

Religious pluralism is leading to increasing discrimination against Christians in:

public schools,

workplaces, 2002 GM decided that the Christian Employee network could no longer meet on company property yet allows groups for Asian, African Americans, women people with disabilities and LGBTQ2 to meet.  Dunan and Dunnan say this double standard illustrates that we truly live in the time predicted by Paul when people rarely listen to right te4aching  following their own desires and rejecting truth.

in zoning, (Ross Lockhart spoke about NIMBY regarding rezoning to build a church)

in the pulpit ( UCC minister who says she doesn’t believe in God, yet can’t be fired? Challenged?

Discuss:  Separation of Church and State

Intended as a protection for churches where the state could not interfere with or silence the church, it is now often used as an argument to prohibit almost every pubic profession of the Christian faith.
And…a response to those who speak out against injustice to silence them.

A new kind of persecution is emerging.  Hatred, defaming, exclusion, reviling—are becoming attitudinal responses to and actions against Christians.

We know that intolerance and discrimination unchecked can escalate into violence against.

Yet we are cautioned to very clearly understand what persecution is so that we avoid an exaggerated perception of our own difficulties.

While we live in a culture of hostility, and a culture of disbelief and we may have certain “rights” restricted, we are not persecuted.

Not being able to pray in Jesus name at a school graduation, or losing a job for talking about Jesus,  as unjust as they are, are not persecution.

Discuss:  the difference between disruption and persecution

eating meat sacrificed to idols
living in a home where one member became a Christian when others did not

What kind of disruptions have you known:


Social life

Home life

Ponder:  If I were more faithful to Christ in my work/business/social life would I experience persecution?

In what situations are you silent about  your faith?

Read  Luke 21: 5-6

5-6 One day people were standing around talking about the Temple, remarking how beautiful it was, the splendor of its stonework and memorial gifts. Jesus said, “All this you’re admiring so much—the time is coming when every stone in that building will end up in a heap of rubble.”

Question:  how much of our identity is tied up with the building? If this building was destroyed what would happen to us?

Jesus is clear when talking about the blessing of the persecuted that although life is difficult and being faithful is costly.  Persecution is terrible, but unfaithfulness is worse.

In Matthew 5: 10-12 Jesus tells us that God is on our side when we suffer.  Those who persevere will inherit the Kingdom.

Read:  Matthew 24: 30-31

Matthew 24:30-31 The Message (MSG)

30-31 “Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies—no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. At that same moment, he’ll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God’s chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.

One of the things we are called to pray for is the return of Jesus.  That theme is not always in our thoughts, yet this Sunday, Christ the King and many of the Sundays in Advent focus on the return of Christ.

Are there any events in the world that make you remember to pray for the return of Christ?

What persecution really is

Read Matthew 24: 9-14

Matthew 24:9-14 The Message (MSG)

9-10 “They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other.

11-12 “In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.

13-14 “Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.


For the early church is was a dangerous time to proclaim faith in Jesus yet the church responded by trusting AND bracing for additional trouble, never giving up.

Discuss:  the church was not surprised by tribulation. 


Trials and difficulties were expected as a part of the coming kingdom of God ushered in by the return of Jesus.  Rather than being intimidated and/or disillusioned early Christians responded to persecution with enduring faith and by establishing a flourishing spiritual community.

What about today?  Is the increasing tension between society and the church a cause for celebration or concern?

Read:  Condoleezza Rice,  Sermon, The Privilege of Struggle, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church

Struggle and sorrow are not license to give way to self-doubt, to self-pity, and to defeat, but are an opportunity to find a renewed spirit and a renewed strength to carry on.  How else but through struggle are we to get to know the full measure of the Lord’s capacity for intervention in our lives?  If there are no burdens how do we know he can be there to lift them?


Question:  how do the words Jesus spoke about suffering and persecution reflect hope rather than cynicism?

Promise of the kingdom

Promise of blessing

Promise of being gathered in when Christ returns

The earliest followers built the church on faith.  We need to build on the same foundation.



How else but through struggle are we to get to know the full measure of the Lord’s capacity for intervention in our lives?

If there are no burdens how do we know he can be there to lift them?

Read Ephesians 6: 10-12

New International Version (NIV)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.


Ephesians 6:10-12 The Message (MSG)

10-12 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.



Question:  how aware are we that this is a spiritual battle?

Underlying Jesus promise that God blesses those who are persecuted is the knowledge that persecution and evil are powerful forces in the world, and they are connected.  Jesus understood the power of evil and he knows that force will not disappear fully until he returns and establishes his kingdom on earth.


Blessing for the persecuted church:

Dear friends, do not be afraid of those who want to kill you.  They can only kill the body they cannot do any more to you.  Luke 12: 4

Final thoughts.

Closing prayer


Week 7 Blessed are the peacemakers

Gathering Prayer

Read Matthew 5: 1-12

What is your idea of a safe place?

How do you nurture your safe place?

How do you extend that safe place to others?

Read:  Matthew 5:9

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

Consider:  Jesus knew how badly our world needs peacemakers.  That’s why he proclaimed that God blesses those who work for peace and why he promised that the peacemakers would be called children of God.

Yet we are all of us children of God, by faith through the grace of Jesus.

How does that truth show us how to be about the work of peacemaking.

Peace with God comes first
Then we are able to reach out with peace to the world.

Consider:  when we come and go, we say hello, goodbye

In Hebrew the standard greeting is, Shalomi Tov   literally how is your peace?

In some traditions when the Hebrew people gather, they end with a blessing for peace from Numbers.

May the Lord bless you and guard you.
May the Lord cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his face to you and place upon you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-27)

We know this as the Aaronic Blessing and typically only say it or sing it at a baptism.  What is key in the Hebrew traditions is that this is a prayer for peace.

we find that in the Bible alone, shalom has very varied and rich meanings: completeness, safety, soundness, security, welfare, health, prosperity, peace and quiet, tranquility, contentment, friendship, and peace from war. Shalom looks outward to the world around us, and inward to the world within us.

What does Shalom mean to you?

In the Hebrew tradition of daily prayers, at least 2 include a petition for peace.

the Amidah, and Birkat Hamazon all conclude with a prayer for shalom.

The Amidah:   (Morning Prayer)

Bestow peace, goodness and blessing, life, graciousness, kindness and mercy, upon us and upon all Your people Israel. Bless us, our Father, all of us as one, with the light of Your countenance. For by the light of Your countenance You gave us, L-rd our G‑d, the Torah of life and loving-kindness, righteousness, blessing, mercy, life and peace. May it be favorable in Your eyes to bless Your people Israel, at all times and at every moment, with Your peace.


Birkat Hamazon (Grace after meals)

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, benevolent G‑d, our Father, our King, our Strength, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Maker, our Holy One, the Holy One of Jacob, our Shepherd, the Shepherd of Israel, the King who is good and does good to all, each and every day. He has done good for us, He does good for us, and He will do good for us; He has bestowed, He bestows, and He will forever bestow upon us grace, kindness, and mercy; relief, salvation and success; blessing and deliverance; consolation, livelihood and sustenance; compassion, life, peace, and all goodness; and may He never cause us to lack any good. May the Merciful One reign over us forever and ever. May the Merciful One be blessed in heaven and on earth. May the Merciful One be praised for all generations, and pride Himself in us forever and to all eternity, and glorify Himself in us forever and ever. May the Merciful One provide our livelihood with honor.

How do these prayers for peace point to God’s call to be the peacemakers?


We see how shalom is more than an inactive state or the absence of trouble.  It means wholeness, everything that works toward our highest good.  The Hebrew concept of the peacemaker is one who continually expresses active goodwill.    A peacemaker engages the world so that reconciliation and peace may reign.

In Greek Eirene is the word for peace.

The word for peacemakers is eirnopoios… it is an active word more than peackeeprs/lovers it is one who actively seeks peace, always working for reconciliation.

Q What does Jesus say about peacemaking?

Read:  Romans 12: 17-21

17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.


Preacher James Harnish tells the story of the time when the California legislature were debating capital punishment and Mother Teresa called the governor to suggest that he do what Jesus would do.

The media learned of this conversation and printed an article that said, “Mother Teresa, Butt out!”

The Dunnans who wrote this study suggest that when it comes to receiving the blessing of the peacemaker is the fact that more often than not, when it comes to Jesus’ call to peace and non-violence we have found polite ways of telling him to butt out.

They write:  we have neutralized Jesus demand that we be peacemakers.  We have subtly pushed the gospel call for peacemaking and non violence into the Spiritual Realm with the result that we neve actually expect peace to become a reality in our human experience.

In what ways are we called to be peacemakers in these areas:





Letters for Amnesty International about people unjustly in prison such as the Canadians in China….but not as often as I used to.

In the past 5 years I have written to the government, PM, Minister of Immigration and my MP to outline the need to increase the number of spaces for private sponsorship of refugees

I have also written in opposition to an omnibus bill that included a repeal of the federal statute that says it is illegal to interrupt/disturb a service of worship.  Enough people wrote that the bill was amended to remove this clause.

What other ways can we work for peace?

Prayer, Discussion Groups, funding projects through PWSD or adopting a foster child through Christian children’s fund, etc….

Today is International Kindness day.  The organizers say that if we all practiced more kindness the world would be a more peaceful place.

What do you think?  True, partially true, not true

I think more than that.  Our acts of kindness need to be tangible, don’t just say peace, give peace.

Read:  James 2:14-18 The Message (MSG)

14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

Question:  Earlier we said that we are already the children of God and this reality underlies our peacemaking.  Now lets think about how our inner peace leads to peacemaking.

Reflect:  we will never experience peace in our relationship until we experience it within ourselves.

This beatitude reflects the need to make peace in our own heart and soul, to still the restlessness, to ease the inner conflict.   Otherwise that inner turmoil affects the relationships we have with those around us.

Read:   James 3:11-16 The Message (MSG)

10-12 My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?

13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

This is a reminder of the natural order.  You can’t get olives from fig trees and you can’t make peace from a heart in turmoil.

If you want to reap peace, you need to plant peace.

You have to get  your own house in order before you can change the world around

What is the place of vengeance?

Earlier we read from Romans 12:21 where we are urged to overcome evil with good.  Doing this is difficult enough, but it is impossible to overcome evil with evil.

Comment on the saying:  The best defense is a good offense
and the saying:  the ends justify the means

Read:  Christmas Sermon on Peace, Martin Luther King

We will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represents the ideal in the making, and the end in process, and ultimately you can’t reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.


Read Proverbs 15: 1-11

Proverbs 15 The Message (MSG)

15 A gentle response defuses anger,
but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.

Knowledge flows like spring water from the wise;
fools are leaky faucets, dripping nonsense.

God doesn’t miss a thing—
he’s alert to good and evil alike.

Kind words heal and help;
cutting words wound and maim.

Moral dropouts won’t listen to their elders;
welcoming correction is a mark of good sense.

The lives of God-loyal people flourish;
a misspent life is soon bankrupt.

Perceptive words spread knowledge;
fools are hollow—there’s nothing to them.

God can’t stand pious poses,
but he delights in genuine prayers.

A life frittered away disgusts God;
he loves those who run straight for the finish line.

10 It’s a school of hard knocks for those who leave God’s path,
a dead-end street for those who hate God’s rules.

11 Even hell holds no secrets from God—
do you think he can’t read human hearts?


What do you see happening in our community/nation/world that needs to have peace brought to it.    At the conclusion of the places named use this prayer.

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.

O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive-
and it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Question:  how does the way we live affect the peace around us?

Read:  Ephesians 5: 8-16

Ephesians 5:8-16 The Message (MSG)

8-10 You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

11-16 Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!

So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!


What does pacifism mean to you?

Acccording to Merriam Webster

passive attitude, behavior, or way of life

but Jesus calls us to a radical alternative to violence, which is described as:  “unquenchable good will, the law of love in human relationships”

what does that mean to you?

To follow Jesus is to never passively react in the face of injustice, abuse, or undeserved suffering.  Being a peacemaker who follows the way of Jesus is always an energetic and risky endeavor, filled with vigorous, complicated, costly, and insistent goodwill in which we liberate the oppressed and set the captives free.

We don’t just seek justice, we do justice and we work to transform brokenness into wholeness and following Jesus we willingly descend into places of violence and death in order to bring healing and life

Examples:  Mother Teresa, Bishop Oscar Romero, Deitrch Bonhoeffer,

Martin Luther King, …who do you think of?

So when we live as children of light what does that mean to us?

When Jesus fought the battle he did so on the cross and he asked his disciples to stand with him?

What does that mean for us?

In the history of Israel when they went into battle at night, men stood watch on the front line,  placing themselves between the enemy and the troops.  The night Jesus was arrested, he asked his disciples to watch and pray while he prayed.

When we say yes to Jesus, we become watchfolk. We actively put ourselves on the front line for the life of the world.  We become radical agents of love, actively working for God’s reign of peace to become a reality in our world, and committing ourselves to the invasion of light and love for the ultimate defeat of death.

Question:  how can we as a congregation become a community of light in Salmon Arm?  How are we peacemakers in our community?

Read Galatians 3: 26-29

Galatians 3:26-29 The Message (MSG)

25-27 But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.

28-29 In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.


When we accept the grace of Christ through faith, then we become like Jesus.  This reality becomes our DNA and it overcomes all other parts of ourselves.  When Jesus says that we, as peacemakers are the blessed children of God then he is saying that peacemaking flows from our deep seated yearning to be like Jesus, base our lives on his love, follow his commandments faithfully and bring our behaviour into harmony with his vision of the kingdom.


Read:  Ephesians 2:13-18 The Message (MSG)

11-13 But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.

14-15 The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.

16-18 Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.


We have peace because Jesus broke down the walls of hostility,

Walls of hostility include:

Conflict, estrangement, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, misunderstanding, and alienation.
Christ has broken down these walls so that we can have peace with him, peace with ourselves and peace with those around us.

When we experience this continued disconnection this is evidence that we need to commit ourselves to peacemaking after the example of Christ

Final thoughts

Closing prayer






Read Matthew 5: 1-12

Use the peace portions of the morning prayer and the prayer after meals this week.

The Amidah:   (Morning Prayer)

Bestow peace, goodness and blessing, life, graciousness, kindness and mercy, upon us and upon all Your people Israel. Bless us, our Father, all of us as one, with the light of Your countenance. For by the light of Your countenance You gave us, L-rd our G‑d, the Torah of life and loving-kindness, righteousness, blessing, mercy, life and peace. May it be favorable in Your eyes to bless Your people Israel, at all times and at every moment, with Your peace.


Birkat Hamazon (Grace after meals)

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, benevolent G‑d, our Father, our King, our Strength, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Maker, our Holy One, the Holy One of Jacob, our Shepherd, the Shepherd of Israel, the King who is good and does good to all, each and every day. He has done good for us, He does good for us, and He will do good for us; He has bestowed, He bestows, and He will forever bestow upon us grace, kindness, and mercy; relief, salvation and success; blessing and deliverance; consolation, livelihood and sustenance; compassion, life, peace, and all goodness; and may He never cause us to lack any good. May the Merciful One reign over us forever and ever. May the Merciful One be blessed in heaven and on earth. May the Merciful One be praised for all generations, and pride Himself in us forever and to all eternity, and glorify Himself in us forever and ever. May the Merciful One provide our livelihood with honor.

At the end of each day, think of the places in your life/community/nation/world that needs peace and then pray saying:

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.

O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive-
and it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life.





The Beatitudes:  Week 6  Clean hands/Pure hearts

Opening prayer

Read:  Matthew 5: 1-12

Share:  any thoughts about the beatitudes we have already discussed?

Read Matthew 5: 5-8

Matthew 5:5-8 The Message (MSG)

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.


This takes us back to last week thirsting for righteousness and mercy.

How does that thirst flow from a pure heart?

Read Psalm 24: 1-6

24 1-2 God claims Earth and everything in it,
God claims World and all who live on it.
He built it on Ocean foundations,
laid it out on River girders.

3-4 Who can climb Mount God?
Who can scale the holy north-face?
Only the clean-handed,
only the pure-hearted;
Men who won’t cheat,
women who won’t seduce.

5-6 God is at their side;
with God’s help they make it.
This, Jacob, is what happens
to God-seekers, God-questers.



Who is worthy to stand in God’s presence?

Read:  Luke 11:37-41 The Message (MSG)

37-41 When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands.


What is Jesus accusing the Pharisees of?

Harmony must exist between the condition of our heart and our outward actions.

Or, as Jim Harnish puts it:  The heart of the matter is always a matter of the heart.

What does that saying mean to you?

The heart is the centre of our emotions—we may be cold hearted or warm, passionate or indifferent.  Out heart influences our will as we steel our heart for a particular decision, and it’s the set of our moral integrity.

Read:  Luke 6: 43-45

Luke 6:43-45 The Message (MSG)

Work the Words into Your Life

43-45 “You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.


Or NIV  Luke 6:43-45 New International Version (NIV)

A Tree and Its Fruit

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.


Notice the connected action flowing from the conditions of our heart with the tree bearing fruit.

In life everything is a matter of the heart

Our heart is the dwelling place of Christ through the Holy Spirit

What are some characteristics of a pure heart?

Brave, tender, generous, gentle, cheerful….. etc

Greek for pure:  katharos
originally it simply meant clean, and was used to describe dirty clothes that are washed clean

Other meanings of katharos

Winnowing or sifting grain

Katharos is often used in conjunction with akeratos, which is used to describe milk or wine that is “unadulterated with water” or a metal with no alloy.

Websters Dictionary describes pure:  homogenous or uniform in composition, not mixed

Purity involves having a singleness of nature:  BUT that is a two sided coin

Pure joy
pure love
pure sadness
pure evil

Jesus consistently rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, their pretense.  Not pure, yet perhaps also not purely evil?

The blessing from the beatitude suggests that God blesses us when our hearts are undivided.

Have you ever been in such a state?

We all know how difficult it is to achieve an undivided heart.

Our minds wander during our prayers or while reading Scripture.
We have good intentions and we get distracted by other things.
We have divided commitments and loyalties

We confess with Paul:  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do  (Rom 7:9)

Read: Dunnam, Be your whole self

A travelling evangelist came to Edinburgh and set up his tent.  One of the ways he attracted attention and caused enough stir for the curious was by criticizing other preachers.  He made a harsh attack upon a Dr. Wilson who was an outstanding Edinburgh minister and a friend of Alexander Whyte.  A parishioner reported to Dr. Whyte

“Pastor I went to hear the evangelist last night.  He said your friend Dr. Wilson is not a truly converted man.”

Whyte leapt from his chair, eyes blazing, shouting, “that rascal.  How dare he.  Wilson is a converted man or no one is.”

The parishioner was shocked; he had never seen his pastor angry.  “But, Dr. Whyte that isn’t all.  The evangelist said you are not a converted man”

This took the fire out of Dr, Whyte,  He wilted back into his chair, slowly put his face into his hands.  For a while there was silence.  Then with an awful earnestness he said, “Leave me my friend.  I must examine my heart.”


Question:   What did Dr. Whyte know?

What we all must learn: that we cannot remain inattentive to our heart—to what stirs and grows there in the depths.

Read:  Psalm 51: 1-12

51 1-3 Generous in love—God, give grace!
Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.

4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!

This was the prayer of David for cleansing after facing up to his blatant sin with Bathsheba.


Yet God calls David a man after his own heart.  Why?


Clearly David knew the struggle of a divided heart.

He knew guilt, and all about covering up guilt, by which he only compounded his sins


Confession (true confession) involves pulling back the layers of our hearts.  This is not easy.

Changing the heart requires hard work and openness to the transforming work of God.


This psalm is the tortured cry of a sensitive spirit expressing the deepest yearnings of the soul.

Remember the story last week about the Western Gate which was wider and bigger and the most people were going through it.  They didn’t think they could enter the city of blessing through other gates but they understood the thirst for righteousness, because it speaks of the desire for all the virtues we know we lack.


the images of this psalm speak strongly of desiring what we don’t lack.


Purge me with hyssop
Wash me and I will be whiter than snow

Let the bones you have crushed rejoice
Hide your face from my sins


Humbled by a forgiving heart

Read Matthew 6: 9-15


Matthew 6:9-15 New International Version (NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.


When we don’t forgive, we can’t be forgiven.

Dunnan says:  Our hearts can be like a cluttered junk drawer.  At some point it is so full we can’t cram any more into it.

The things that we hide in our hearts are the things we don’t want others to see.  Attitudes, passions, desire, behaviours.

But what is in the heart, will come out.

John the Baptist says:

You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.


A pure heart cannot be faked.  At some point our sins will catch up with us, as it did for David.

Our unforgiving nature will also come out.  It is a bitterness that will feed our discontent, our anger, and be revealed in our deep unhappiness and our judgementalism.

God desires to bless us, yet we block God with our unresolved heart issues.

Yet God desires to bless us.  The lesson of the Lord’s prayer, like the Beatitudes, is part of the Sermon on the Mount.  There is only one part of the prayer on which Jesus comments….forgiveness

If you do not forgive others neither will your Father forgive you.

Forgiveness is a crucial issue that needs our ongoing attention.

Sometimes we fail to seek forgiveness for ourselves
Sometimes we withhold forgiveness from others
As a result, our hearts are divided hindering us from living fully in the present because our hearts are tied to the past.

Unforgiveness blocks God’s blessing and punishes us.

When we think about having a pure heart, we have looked at wholeness, singleness of nature, being undivided at the core of our being.  This is important because often we think of purity only in terms of cleanliness.

If that’s all we focus on we miss the full meaning of the beatitude.

Read:  James 1: 2-8

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

The Greek word for double minded is dipsuchos  with two souls or two minds

Have you ever said you were of two minds on an issue?

One mind believes the other disbelieves

So we can think of this beatitude this way:  Blessed are the single-minded.  They are focused and sincere, and the Lord will honour them with his presence.

Earlier we said that our hearts could be seen in our words and action.

William Temple says that purity of heart is a passionate aspiration towards the holiness of God.  The Epistle of James puts it this way:

Read James 2: 14-17

James 2:14-17 The Message (MSG)

14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?


What else do we think of when we think of James letter.


Doers of the word not hearers only

Reflect:  our behaviour is a reflection of our Spiritual status

Reflect:  to be pure in heart is to have had a heart transplant

Read:  Ezekiel 11: 19-20

Ezekiel 11:19-20 The Message (MSG)

16-20 “Well, tell them this, ‘This is your Message from God, the Master. True, I sent you to the far country and scattered you through other lands. All the same, I’ve provided you a temporary sanctuary in the countries where you’ve gone. I will gather you back from those countries and lands where you’ve been scattered and give you back the land of Israel. You’ll come back and clean house, throw out all the rotten images and obscene idols. I’ll give you a new heart. I’ll put a new spirit in you. I’ll cut out your stone heart and replace it with a red-blooded, firm-muscled heart. Then you’ll obey my statutes and be careful to obey my commands. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!


So can we say that the pure in heart are those who have been transformed by being given God’s heart.

Final thoughts

Closing prayer



Read Matthew 5: 1-12

Read Psalm 51: 1-12

Pray the Lord’s prayer.

Reflect on forgive us as we forgive others.

Who do we need to forgive?

How do we need to forgive ourselves?

Pray daily being honest with God about the contents of your heart, and asking God to empower you in your commitment to have clean hands and a pure heart



Sorry Folks, technical issues, like user error meant this did not post.   Here it is:

Week 5:

The Beatitudes:  Righteousness and Mercy

Opening Prayer

Read:  Matthew 5: 1-12

Reminder:  all the beatitudes rest upon the foundation of the first:  Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

General Discussion:  what do righteousness and mercy mean to you?

Read:  Matthew 5: 6, 7

NIV 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

And again, in The Message:

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

General Discusssion:

It is no accident that Jesus orders the Beatitudes in the way he does:  Righteousness and mercy go together because justice is a part of God’s righteousness.

Prevailing Standards re: Righteousness in Jesus’ Day

  1. They were external.  People kept the rules and regulations because they were expected to, not because they believed them.   In the Cotton Patch New Testament,  Clarence Jordan writes describing their righteousness as “something like perfume—it wasn’t a part of you but you had it on, it made you smell real sweet.”  ?Jesus white washed sepelchures.
  2. The motive for righteousness was reward.

How do we see these attitudes in Scripture?

Read:  Luke 15: 29-32

Luke 15:29-32 The Message (MSG)

28-30 “The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’

31-32 “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”


When you  keep the rules for outward appearances and for the reward you expect you miss the point.

For the people at that time, the thought of being righteous or serving God without reward was not a part of their thinking or experience.

What about our own practice?

What about it is empty external activity?
how reward oriented are we?


What is the righteousness that Jesus was talking about?

  • Righteousness always mirrors God’s will
  • Our desire is that God’s will be done
  • We make ourselves available to God
  • It means striving for justice

This is more than an occasional thing:

Giving food to the food bank is not the same as working to end poverty

Attending a reconciliation service is not the same as inviting neighbours who are different from you to a dinner.

The blessing is reserved for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness like a person who is starving for food or dying for water.

The starving spirit

In the heavenly Octave, Boerham describes a dream of approaching the city of blessedness.  It had gates at each corner all the same size except one, The Western Gate wider and taller and busier than the other gates.

The other gates were:  Blessed are the poor in Spirit, blessed are they that mourn, blessed are the meek, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for righteousness.  Very few people were approaching them, and many with a sad shake of the head left these gates and waited at the Western Gate for entry to the city of Blessedness.  The Western Gate was labeled:  Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Why did most of the people line up at that gate?

Read Boerham, The Heavenly Octave:  the keeper of the Martyrs Gate

You see, the keeper observed, there are great numbers of people who turn sorrowfully away from the seven small gates…believing themselves not to be sufficiently lowly, or pure in heart,  and so on…

But it is one of the fundamental principles of the City of Blessedness that just as there is sin in the appetite for sin, there is grace in the appetite for grace.  There is lowliness in the longing for lowliness; there is meekness in the yearning for meekness; there is purity in the craving for purity.  And so a gateway—the largest gateway of all—has been placed in the centre of the Western wall for all, who pitifully conscious of their own imperfections, nevertheless covet, and covet passionately the virtues they know they lack.


Discuss:  The truth is wonderfully clear, it is not those who are completely righteous, not those who are perfect, but those who hunger and thirst after righteousness who will be blessed.

Hunger and thirst are basic needs, they override anything else. That’s why Jesus points out:   The blessing is reserved for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness like a person who is starving for food or dying for water.

Read Psalm 42: 1-2, 6-11

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

How does this Psalm speak to your desire to be right with God?

What does it mean to you that there is sin in the appetite for sin and grace in the desire for Grace?

Read  Matthew 20: 1-16

20 1-2 “God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.

3-5 “Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.

5-6 “He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’

“They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’

“He told them to go to work in his vineyard.

“When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’

9-12 “Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’

13-15 “He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’

16 “Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”

Discuss:  How do you respond to the vineyard paying all the workers the same?

What do you want to say to Jesus when he asks:  “are you envious because I am generous?”

Why is this story radical?

It goes against our human tendency to equate justice with merit

It shows the nature of God’s grace and righteousness

Everyone gets the same reward

Its not about what we deserve, or working longer to get more its about being in relationship with God

In this story from the vineyard invites us to enjoy God righteousness rather than compete for it.  How does this tie in with our earlier discussion of doing the right things for show and reward?

The Beatitudes assure us that we will be blessed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness.  We will be blessed when we yearn with our entire being to be in the centre of God’s will, where all people are valued and lifted up.

My cousin Lidy is an artist.  She was invited to present a vision at some event in de Hague.  She recruited a large number of people and gave each a black t-shirt with scenes from war and disaster zones around the world.  Then she chained them all together a positioned them around the town square.  When she described it to me, I found it to be a profound statement that we are all caught in the cycle of injustice, yet can be so unaware of it until we start to identify with the “least of these”

How does living God’s righteousness in mercy for the world break that cycle of injustice?

We must all live out the reality that we and all people are of great value.

Yesterday I was at the foot nurse to get my ingrown toenail clipped.  As I waited for my turn there was a man hovering near the door to the treatment room.  When it opened he barged in.

The nurse came to apologize to me, said he would only be a minute and did I mind waiting.  I didn’t.

It was clear as I heard him speaking with her that he was socially if not also mentally challenged, yet lived on his own.  It was also clear that she and he had a longstanding relationship and that she was happy to help him.

When he left and I went into the treatment room she apologized again, saying that she liked to let him in as soon as possible because he tended to make people in the store nervous when he was hanging around.

I had to think about that, because I didn’t get that vibe off him.   But as I thought about it I could see it.  He was a little rude.  A little pushy.  His speech could get garbled.

I don’t think my waiting patiently was a mark of any thing “holy” on my part.  In truth it was my day “off” and I had nothing urgent to do, except to do laundry and clean the bathroom.  I sat back and relaxed knowing that in my world those things could wait.  But in truth I enjoyed having nothing to do and every reason to enjoy that space of peace and quiet.

There are other times however when I chafe at those kinds of events.  And I realize that my attitude often has a lot to do with my agenda for the day.  And today I am pondering how having a more God-like attitude would result in extending justice and mercy to that man at the foot clinic.  He received it regardless, but not by any willful god-likeness on my part, although I suspect the nurse was the real source of that mercy that was given.

When Jesus says “Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy” he is talking about more than pity.  He is talking about an attitude that is born of righteousness.

Discuss:  what does that mean to you?

Chesedh:  Hebrew, untranslateable, but includes the concept of mercy.  It includes to sympathize for.  It is much more than feeling sorry.

William Barclay writes that chesedh means the ability to get right inside the other person’s skin…to identify closely with another so that we see through their eyes, think thoughts with their mind, and feel emotions with their feelings.

So it also includes deep understanding and deep empathy and an ability to see oneself in their circumstances.

For that reason mercy demands intention, deliberate effort—an act of the will.

Read Matthew 8: 1-4

1-2 Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.”

3-4 Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. Jesus said, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”

Leprosy:  contagious, debilitating disease that meant a person was banished from society.

Unclean:  physically, socially and religiously.  And Jesus touched him.

Think about the priest and the scribe in the story of the good Samaratin.  They wouldn’t even check on the traveller in case he was dead and would make them unclean… Yet Jesus touched a leper which in religious law made him unclean…

True mercy Jesus teaches is blessed with an attitude of compassion to all persons that causes us to share gladly what we have.  We want to do whatever we can to make their lives , if not rich and meaningful, at least bearable with enough hope to keep them going.

Read Micah 6: 6-8

6-7 How can I stand up before God
and show proper respect to the high God?
Should I bring an armload of offerings
topped off with yearling calves?
Would God be impressed with thousands of rams,
with buckets and barrels of olive oil?
Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child,
my precious baby, to cancel my sin?

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.

What does this psalm teach us about holy mercy?

Chesedh is what Jesus is talking about when he says we are called to be merciful as God is merciful and calls it one of the mightier aspects of the Law, which he calls justice and mercy and faith.

Jesus identifies mercy with forgiveness and he reminds us that if we lack forgiveness we will not receive mercy.

Gods mercy is a shower of blessing that cleanses transforms and refreshes us and we experience it by turning to God.   We grow in God-like graces and the beatitudes come alive in us.  We are merciful and we receive mercy.  It is not about being merciful to obtain mercy, we simply practice mercy as we seek to be like God.

Final thoughts.

Closing prayer




Read Matthew 5: 1-12

Reflect on:  Charles Spurgeon “What we are to others, God will be to us”

Is this a new concept to you?
Do you live as though you believe it to be true?

Read Matthew 25: 31-46 and reflect on the words of Jesus:  as you did to the least of these you did to me.



Bible Study:  The Beatitudes, Week Four—Blessed are the Meek

Opening Prayer

Read:   Matthew 5: 1-12

Reminder that all the beatitudes rest upon the foundation of the first:  Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

General Discussion:  “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.   what does it mean to be meek?

Tyrants and Despots  what underscores their behaviour?

Arrogance, entitlement, megalomania…etc

Yes to be sure:  but there is something greater:   FEAR

Pharoah:  afraid the Hebrews would become too plentiful and decreed that all Hebrew boys be killed at birth.

Herod; Heard that a king was born in Bethlehem and he killed all the boys under 3 years of age, killed his own sons fearing a coup

Sadaam Hussien
had 3 meals prepared daily in each of his 20 palaces and went by random to one place and selected one of the meals.

Never slept in the same bed 2 nights in a row

Killed 2 of his sons in law for disloyalty


Read:  Psalm 37: 10-17

Psalm 37:10-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

10 Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land,
and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous,
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to kill those who walk uprightly;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

16 Better is a little that the righteous person has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.


What are the signs of meekness?

Read:  John David Walt, Tyrants, Terrorists and the Meekness of God

Meekness—it conjures up images of an old woman (Sarah) counting the stars and daring to believe she was counting her descendants when she had not one.

Meekness—it looks like a tiny baby (Moses) placed by parents in an ark of reeds—civil disobedience—and gently navigated right into the palace

Meekness—it looks like the young widow Ruth, clinging to Naomi on the road to Bethlehem, becoming the one through whom Naomi’s name and lineage would be preserved, preparing the humble origins of King David

Meekness—it reminds us of the unlikely Gideon, threshing wheat in a wine-press, hiding from the enemy and called to be a deliverer.  And with an army pared down from 30 Thousand to three hundred, armed with trumpets torches and clay pots, Gideon proved victorious.

Meekness—it looks like the anointed unknown boy-king, shedding the armour of Saul like ill-fitting clothes, taking up 5 smooth stones, facing the giant, and saying, “you come at me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

Meekness—it looks like the boy Samuel hearing the Lord calling his name in middle of the night, and making his answer:  “Speak for your servant is listening.”


Discuss:  What traits are common to the meek

Humility, obedience to God, confidence in God, selflessness

Trust that results in Boldness of action?

Consider:  Meekness does not mean being without passion, commitment and driving power

Biblical examples of those who are meek?

The parents of Moses, baby, basket, trusting in God to keep him safe

Moses himself…but what about the incident where he beat a Soldier?

Moses channeled his passion and used it when needed in the service of God, expressing holy wrath when:   Aaron helped make the golden calf

How is Jesus an example of meekness and constrained passion?

Yet he overturned the tables in the Temple…

Righteous indignation…  we see in him not cowardly weakness but splendid strength when he is passionate.

Other examples:  rebuking peter when passionate about going to his death

Standing before Sanhedrin/Pilate refusing to answer to the lies

Proclaiming from the cross “it is finished”

Other examples of people who are meek?  Biblical or other

David when cursed in battle did not take revenge but said:  “the Lord will repay me for this cursing today”

Stephen   read Acts 7: 51-53

Acts 7:51-53 The Message (MSG)

51-53 “And you continue, so bullheaded! Calluses on your hearts, flaps on your ears! Deliberately ignoring the Holy Spirit, you’re just like your ancestors. Was there ever a prophet who didn’t get the same treatment? Your ancestors killed anyone who dared talk about the coming of the Just One. And you’ve kept up the family tradition—traitors and murderers, all of you. You had God’s Law handed to you by angels—gift-wrapped!—and you squandered it!”

When else did Stephen display passionate weakness
when being stoned saying:   Lord do not hold this sin against them.

Discuss:  the meek are constrained by God’s love, they use their anger not for themselves but on behalf of others.

Question:  a meek person is not weak, but God controlled

A meek person is free under that control and lives by the words of this prayer


Read:  Matheson Make me a captive

Make me a captive Lord, and then I shall be free
Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be
I sink in life’s alarms when by myself I stand;
imprison me within thine arms and strong shall be my hand

My heart is weak and poor until it master find
it has no spring of action sure, it varies with the wind
It cannot move freely, move till thou has wrought its chain
Enslave it why thy matchless love, and deathless it shall reign


A meek person is completely surrendered to Christ.

Paul displays that when he speaks of himself as a prisoner of the Lord

The meek will inheirit the earth, why?

Because they are open and flexible—they are free to receive what God has to give

What holds us back from being meek?

We are filled with our own ideas to the exclusion of all other ideas

We are so certain of what’s best that even God can’t get through to us

We are so full of pride that we dart off in all directions offering our solutions

We are not able to accept what God offers

What we lack is:

Meekness that produces a dynamic freedom open to God’s graciousness.

The meekness that demonstrates abandonment to God as the potter of life—asking him for:  guidance and the shaping of his discipline.


Read:  Philippians 2: 6-8

The Message (MSG)

5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.


Consider:  Paul begins this passage with he words:  Let each of you look, not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…

Or in NIV:  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus….

The Greek word here is Phronate—to be minded

So here we are being called to be minded as Christ is minded

What does that mean to you?

To think like God thinks

Meekness then is related to character.  (Comes up repeatedly in this study)

Meekness is a disposition of mind that grows out of who a person is.  …meekness is learned and practiced until it becomes a part of our identity.

How do we practice meekness?


We can’t live the new life this and the other beatitudes describe apart from the new birth Jesus provides.

The grace of Jesus, making us new creatures in Christ, transforms and empowers us to receive the blessings of the poor in spirit

Those who mourn do so because of their awareness of the depth of their inadequacy of need.

Consider forgiveness:  If we never feel the need to be forgiven, we will never know the full richness wonder and joy of forgiveness.


Read:  Philippians 2: 1-4

 1-4 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Question:  what contradicts meekness?

Putting our selves first

The study writers put it this way:

We often wonder, what’s in it for me  But that question is not a part of the mind of Christ, so it should not motivate the Christian.  No where did Jesus put self interest first.

He said:  He Love your neighbour as yourself.

Love one another as I have loved you

No one has greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends


Let’s consider:

You can’t be meek, as Jesus calls us to be, and concerned about how you appear to others.

You can’t be meek and spend your life preoccupied with your own status

When a person lives in the kingdom of self, he or she shuts themselves out of the kingdom of heaven.

How are we glorified in meekness?

Read John 12: 23-26

The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

24-25 “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

26 “If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.



Pride is our declaration of freedom from God; meekness is the stance/style of person who know they are completely dependant on God.

Read:  1 Corinthians 3: 18-23

8-20 Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture,

He exposes the chicanery of the chic.
The Master sees through the smoke screens
of the know-it-alls.

21-23 I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift—Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future—all of it is yours, and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God.

Concluding thoughts.

Everything is already yours!

When Jesus says blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, he is not talking about a territory but about a quality of life.  Everything that Jesus accomplished through his life, death and resurrection is ours.

Everything is already yours!

Adam and Eve demonstrated pride.  Their lives would have been beautiful, bountiful and blessed if they had remained faithful.

They wanted to be like God…and didn’t believe that God really meant what he said.

Pride is the root of original sin.  The need to be in charge and to have control is the root of original sin.

To be meek is to depend on God.

That requires humity, brokenness, deep grief for our sin and our separation from God

Consider:  if we admit our inadequacy, we can have God’s adequacy.

The meek shall inheirit the earth>   Our inheritance is the inexhaustible power of the Holy Spirit, sufficient for every situation:  wisdom, knowledge, discernment, insight, guidance—what we need when we need it.

Final thoughts

Pray together the Lord’s prayer which links us to all the faithful on earth and in heaven…..


Read Matthew 5: 1-12 daily

Pray this prayer daily:

Matheson Make me a captive

Make me a captive Lord, and then I shall be free
Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be
I sink in life’s alarms when by myself I stand;
imprison me within thine arms and strong shall be my hand

My heart is weak and poor until it master find
it has no spring of action sure, it varies with the wind
It cannot move freely, move till thou has wrought its chain
Enslave it why thy matchless love, and deathless it shall reign

Ponder this saying:

The greatest problem in the church is trying to do God’s work with human strength




Bible Study:  The Beatitudes—Tears in the night, joy in the morning

Opening Prayer:

Read:  Matthew 5: 1-12

Last week:  having nothing, possessing everything…  about how deeply  we have to understand our own poverty.

How is our poverty expressed in mourning?
Discuss in relationship to tears, joy and comfort


Strange Bedfellows

It’s a strange notion to think about entering the house of sorrow to look for joy.  Sadness and happiness don’t normally share the same room.  Yet Jesus says, blessed are those who mourn.

Read:  Matthew 5: 4

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

Discuss:  How does God’s blessing fit into suffering?

Is it a sign of strength to “not cry”?

Read:  Psalm 42: 2-3

My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”


What kind of tears is the psalmist talking about?

Read:  Luke 7 36-50

36-39 One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”



40 Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Oh? Tell me.”

41-42 “Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”

43-47 Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”

“That’s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”

48 Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”

49 That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”

50 He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Discuss:  what was the comfort for this woman’s tears?

Discuss:  What are the various causes for tears of grief?

What are the causes of other reasons to cry?



Slide 2:  John 11: 33-36

33-34 When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. He said, “Where did you put him?”

34-35 “Master, come and see,” they said. Now Jesus wept.

36 The Jews said, “Look how deeply he loved him.”


Slide 3

Matthew 11: 28-30

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”


Ponder:  What other kinds of tears do we shed?
LONLINESS…    loss …pain… love …anger   exhaustion… joy….gratitude….devotion…worship


Read:  Isaiah 61: 1-3

 The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness”
planted by God to display his glory

Discuss:  how are the words of the prophet expressed in these beatitudes?

How is Jesus the fulfillment of the prophet’s words and the beatitude?

Slide 4

Greek word for mourn  θρηνώ

Thrinó which is the strongest word for mourning in the Greek language.


Read:  Barclay

It is the word which is used for mourning for the dead, for the passionate lament for one who was loved.  It is defined as the kind of grief which takes such a hold on a person that it cannot be hid…Here then is an amazing kind of bliss: Blessed is the person who mourns like one mourning for the dead.

Discuss:  what other times do we mourn so deeply?

War?   When heartbroken at the end of a relationship?  For a sick child?  /spouse?

Slide 5  Donald English  You’ll always meet God in the world as suffering, dying love…which you will know in the way God lovingly feels is way through the affairs of the wold in order that the result might be the very best result for everybody involved.

Discuss:  the gospel writers were convinced that if we are going to see Jesus, we have to see him on the cross:  vulnerable and weak.

How does meeting God in the world as suffering dying love show us Jesus in the lost, the lonely, the least of these?

Slide 6  Kiss frequently the crosses the Lord sends you. Francis de Sale

Does that seem like a strange notion?

How do we discover the truth that to welcome the suffering that comes into our lives as an invitation to love and trust God more?

This is more than our suffering, in this is a call to embrace those suffering whom we encounter.

A child caught in addiction
disabled elderly
serving the poor

What other crosses?
kissing the leper clean and doing as this unseen

To answer the call we need to answer the big question:

Are we willing to give ourselves for the sake of others and for the world?

This can’t happen with out our willingness to mourn on the behalf of others.



Read:  CS Lewis

We cannot love without risking a wounded or even a broken heart.  If we want to keep from being hurt, then we must wrap up our hearts with little pampering and luxuries and avoid involvements with others.

Discuss:  when God offered love to the world in the person of Jesus, God didn’t try to protect himself or hold anything back.

God’s love is risktaking
God became vulnerable
God gave himself completely in Jesus

The greater the love, the greater the loss, the greater the mourning.

Lisbeth:  crying when a Side by Side participant died… “I didn’t realize that this ministry would cause me to fall in love with the participants and feel such deep pain”

Yet that ministry also contained some of the deepest joy.

Discuss:  How do we encounter grief and joy in our relationships with the world?  Each other?


What about mourning for sin?  Like we feel when we minister to a drug addicted child, or an abusing adult

Read Genesis 6: 5-7

5-7 God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil—evil, evil, evil from morning to night. God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. God said, “I’ll get rid of my ruined creation, make a clean sweep: people, animals, snakes and bugs, birds—the works. I’m sorry I made them.”


Slide 7 Discuss:  All sin causes God to grieve

It doesn’t matter whether our sins are great or small;  all sin is an affront to God, breaking God’s heart.  Ultimately all sin is against God.

Discuss: Is one sin greater than another?

Do we sometimes think that one is?

Murder bigger than shoplifting

Other that we may consider to be “worse sins”?

Discuss:  how are we ourselves grieving when we remember our sins before God.

How does Godly sorrow affect us?

Read:  Romans 8: 26-27

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.

Godly sorrow leads us to great care and concern


How does the deep loving we are called to, change us that we grieve with the same grief of God when we see sin in the world?

How then do we become the people who bring joy to other’s mourning.

The cross serves as a constant reminder of how deeply God lovesand cares for us.  We look at the cross and wee th tears of God because more than anything else the cross reminds us that our sin breaks God’s heart.

Godly sorrow comes when we are in touch with God and begin to feel what God feels, and when we look at others we see them as God sees them

Then we mourn for them…

Think about a person for whom you feel a godly love and sorrow.  Now imagine seeing Jesus embracing that person, speaking to that person’s need.

Now in your imagination step into Jesus’ sandals and embrace that person.

When God mourned the sin of the world he sent Jesus.

When he continues to mourn he sends us.

In Christianity today Tim Stafford identified the that need the church’s care

Read from book:






Can we think of others?


Read:  Stafford

What people want and what they need are not the same.  Their experiences may  be impossible, and their neediness endless.  We may help them more by challenging them to serve other than by trying to fill their empty holes.

Still I can’t help remembering that Jesus showed impatience only toward those who defined themselves as healthy—never toward those in pain.  He identified his mission with the lost sheep and those in need of healing.  When those people accosted him in the street, he stopped for them.  He never lost sight of his larger agenda, but he always stopped for them.  (The church’s walking wounded, Christianity Today, March 2003, p 69)




Closing thought:

We are blessed when we weep over our own sins because our awareness of sin and deep sorrow for our sins lead to repentance and confession, which in turn leads to forgiveness.  Wo we’re blessed when we weep over our own sin.  We are equally blessed when we weep over the sins of others.  There is no happiness, no joyous blessedness like knowing we are accepted and loved.  When we know such acceptance and love we want everyone else to experience it.

Slide 8Heidelberg Catechism

1. Q. What is your only comfort

in life and death?

A. That I am not my own, 1 but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, 2 to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. 3 He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, 4 and has set me free from all the power of the devil


Closing Prayer


Read Matthew 5: 1-12 daily

Reflect on Day 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism

  1. Q.

What is your only comfort

in life and death?

That I am not my own, 1

but belong with body and soul,

both in life and in death, 2

to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. 3

He has fully paid for all my sins

with his precious blood, 4

and has set me free

from all the power of the devil. 5

He also preserves me in such a way 6

that without the will of my heavenly Father

not a hair can fall from my head; 7

indeed, all things must work together

for my salvation. 8

Therefore, by his Holy Spirit

he also assures me

of eternal life 9

and makes me heartily willing and ready

from now on to live for him. 10



Dear Jesus, be present in me in a powerful way today and in the coming days.  Possess my mind, my heart, my will.  Let no word cross my lips that is not your word.  Let no thought be cultivated that are not your thoughts.  Let no deeds be done that are not an expression of your love and concern.  May your presence be so real in me that others will no longer see me, but you, Lord Jesus.  May I be cheered by your presence and move through these coming days with no hint of anxiety so that your peace may flow from my life.  Amen





October 2

The Beatitudes:  Session 2 Having Nothing, Possessing Everything

Opening Prayer

Read Matthew 5: 1-12

One Diamond with Eight Facets

Slide 2

The Beatitudes describe the character of persons living in the Kingdom.  There are 9 Beatitudes but they are usually referred to as the 8 Blessings.  Scholar Archibald Hunter describes them facets saying:  “we should think not so much of 8 different types of character as of one ideal character seen from eight different angles—one diamond with eight facets”



In the character of Jesus, the distinctive beauties of the Beatitudes harmonize like the colours in a mosaic.  He is por in spirit, a mourner, meek and lowly in heart.  He hungers for the supremacy of righteousness, is merciful, pure in heart, the Prince of peace, and suffers for righteousness’ sake—yet none of these virtues is cultivated at the expense of another. They blend in his character in their true proportion and express the spirit of perfect love.  (Hunter, A Pattern for Life, 34)



Each blessing is described as the Kingdom of Heaven.  How/Why

Kingdom:  totality of salvation that Jesus brings—how would you  describe that?


To what degree do you experience these aspects of kingdom living?

Being comforted

being satisfied

Knowing wholeness

Realizing the promise of Jesus:  no hunger/thirst

Mercy now and on judgement day


The joy of becoming the children of God


All belongs to you and you belong to Christ


The Prerequisite for all blessing

No one beatitude is more important than the other, but the order has significance.

Read:  (read one version, ponder, then the next)

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

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. MSG

“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].  Amplified

How happy are the humble-minded, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.  JB Phillips


It is significant that this blessing is first.   Why?

Poverty of Spirit comes first because it must be first: it is the foundation of spiritual character.

There are 2 words is Greek for poor the other one is penes, which describes a person who has to work for a living.

The other:

Slide 3

Poor:        Hebrew:  ebion—the one who having earthly resources whatsoever, puts their whole trust in God.

Greek:  ptochos—absolute and complete poverty

This word is connected to the root ptossein:  to crouch or to cower and describes the poverty which is beaten to its knees

Discuss:  what does poor in spirit mean to you?


William Barclay:
“Blessed is the person who has realised his own utter helplessness, and who has put his whole trust in God.” (Barclay:  the Gospel of Matthew, 1: 91)


Read:  Mark 10: 17-22

17 As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?”

18-19 Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.”

20 He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!”

21 Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”

22 The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.



What kept this man out of the kingdom?

His feeling of self-sufficiency:  his attitude hat he’d done everything necessary—he had kept the commandments—and he could do whatever was necessary for salvation.  He was not poor in Spirit; he had not placed his  whole trust in God.

Compare this man to Paul.

Read Philippians 3 3-9

The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it—even though we can list what many might think are impressive credentials. You know my pedigree: a legitimate birth, circumcised on the eighth day; an Israelite from the elite tribe of Benjamin; a strict and devout adherent to God’s law; a fiery defender of the purity of my religion, even to the point of persecuting the church; a meticulous observer of everything set down in God’s law Book.

7-9 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness


Discuss what made Paul different from the rich young ruler.


Read:  Luke 18: 9-14

9-12 He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’

13 “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”

14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”



What does it mean to be humble minded?

Tax collector: realized his need for God’s mercy

Maxie Dunnan one of the commentators in this study writes:    there is a paradox here and reflects on a time when she went through difficulty which revolved around a financial issue when the endowment fund she administered was negatively impacted.  She writes:  “I felt helpless and went through 3 or 4 weeks of near despair.  The secret of my overcoming was the discovery of the difference between RESIGNATION and SURRENDER.”

Slide: 4   RESIGNATION is passve and negative

SURRENDER in the midst of and in spite of circumstances is positive and active

Read:  Ogilivie

Many of us do not realize our poverty of Spirit because we are not living an adventurous enough life.  We aren’t living courageously enough to have any other invisible means of support than Christ.  …Whenever we try to change social conditions, we meet obstacles of closed minds and resistant wills.  Then we realize how poor in wisdom we are.  We do not realize our poverty of spirit until we accept the potential challenge in which we are to live out our faith.


To be poor is spirit is to recognize that we are utterly helpless to save ourselves—even to receive the forgiving grace of God for our justification.

Read:  Romans 3: 21-24

21-24 But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.


What does this passage teach us about sin?

About being created in the image of God?


Poverty of Spirit is required for our sanctification and having God’s image restored within us.


Read 2 Corinthians 6: 1-10

1-10 Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,

I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.


What does Paul mean when he writes having nothing, having it all?


Slide 5  Matthew 5: 3-5, 9

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

This beatitude is not about material poverty.
This beatitude is not about low self-esteem

We are not poor in Spirit because we are poor spirited but because we feel our spiritual need.

Final thoughts

Closing prayer




Read Matthew 5: 1-12 daily.

Examine your whether in your various relationships and work you have any sense of helplessness and if you are putting your whole trust in God regarding it


Is there a potential challenge that, if you accept it,  will call for such faith and commitment that you will realize how poor in spirit you are?





Welcome to the Fall Bible Study on the Beatitudes.

The Weekly Schedule

Sept 25  Blessed are you
Oct 2  Having nothing, possessing everything
Oct 9  Tears in the night, Joy in the morning
Oct 23 Blessed are the meek
Oct 30 Righteousness and Mercy
Nov 6 Pure in heart
Nov 13 The Peacemakers
Nov 20 The crown of righteousness
Nov 27  Make up week if needed

Sept 25

The Beatitudes:  Session 1

Opening Prayer

Read Matthew  5: 1-2

Opening Discussion

The beatitudes provide a way to be, to walk, and to relate, as well as values and principles to guide our decisions.

They provide an ethics of grace marked by the external expression of the truth in the inward being outwardly expressed.

They lay down principles for the behaviour of citizens of the Kingdom.

Read Psalm 103:  6-18

Psalm 103:6-18 The Message (MSG)

6-18 God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.


The prophets and the psalmists sought to communicate the nature of God.

Slide 2 attributes of God

  • gracious and compassionate,
  • forgiving,
  • slow to anger
  • abounding in love,
  • extravagant with mercy and blessing,
  • healing and redeeming,
  • providing justice and hope.


Read:  Micah 7: 18-20

Micah 7:18-20 The Message (MSG)

18-20 Where is the god who can compare with you—
wiping the slate clean of guilt,
Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear,
to the past sins of your purged and precious people?
You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long,
for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most.
And compassion is on its way to us.
You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing.
You’ll sink our sins
to the bottom of the ocean.
You’ll stay true to your word to Father Jacob
and continue the compassion you showed Grandfather Abraham—
Everything you promised our ancestors
from a long time ago.

Discuss:  What does Micah teach about the nature of God?

Study the list on the screen.  (see above) Are there attributes that you have trouble comprehending?

Max Lucado had difficulty finding a name for his book on the Beatitudes.  After dozens of attempts this is how they settled on the title:  The Applause from Heaven

Read: from book

Ponder the possibility of God applauding for you.

Reflect on last few months.  Has there been a deed or an attitude for which God applauded you?

But:  God’s love for you and joy in you is only dependant upon his grace.  So can you earn God’s applause?

Slide 3  blessings list

Blessed are all who take refuge in Him  Ps 2: 12

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord Ps 33: 12

Happy are those who consider the poor Ps 41: 1

Blessed are those whose strength is in you  Ps 84:5

Blessed are they who maintain justice  Ps 106: 3

Happy are those who fear the Lord  Ps 112: 1


The Beatitudes are not an explanation for what might be, or could be; the are exclamations about what is.  Jesus announces the privilege that is ours to share with God the very blessedness that fills God’s heart…Discuss

Slide 4  meaning of beatitude latin/Greek


Latin—beatitude  (consummate bliss)

Greek—makarios (joy whose secret lies within)


So blessed means more than happy: it means joy of the highest kind.  That’s why Jesus said:

Read:  John 16: 21-23

John 16:22-23 The Message (MSG)

21-23 “When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You’ll no longer be so full of questions.


No one, or no thing can take this joy away.

Discuss: how even in your darkest days you found joy in God.

Repentance and the Kingdom

Discuss:  What is the nature of the Kingdom?




The foundation of the kingdom is the revelation that God is the Father, that Jesus is his Son and the rightful Lord of the faithful, and that the Holy Spirit is the guide of all the citizens of the Kingdom.  Believers, by identification with the Son, become children of the Father. The result is a family, of those who so believe.  (Jordan, the sermon on the mount, 14)


Discuss:  Kingdom residents have a single loyalty

Discuss:  Kingdom loyalty is not a portion of one’s life but extends to every area.

Beatitudinal living

Read:  Matthew 6: 3o-33

Matthew 6:30-33 New International Version (NIV)

30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Slide 5 sobrino definition of spirituality

Definition of Spirituality:

profound motivation  (Jon Sobrino:  Latin American Jesuit)

By this definition he means:  All those instincts, intuitions, longings and desires, both of culture and nature, that move us, inspire us, breathe through us, and shape, inform and fill our decisions and actions.


Discuss:  how is this definition reflected in seeking God’s kingdom first.

Our spirituality is is shaped by what we desire most; what we strive for; what motivates us, drives us, moves us to select one priority over another.

Childlike freedom:  you play and never worry about where your next meal comes from…

Discuss:  We are called to live in the trust and confidence of Jesus.  He desire that we live a beatitudinal lifestyle—a style of life that trusts God to add to our lives the joy and happiness that cannot be taken away.

Closing prayer

Homework assignment….