Maturing in the Faith :: by Sean Gooding

Matthew chapter 5:1-12 (continued)

“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

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

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

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

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

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

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

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

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

How is your walk with the Lord?

I have to check this daily. We cannot neither dwell on the failures of the past nor become complacent with the successes of yesterday. The Beatitudes are one of the best ways to gauge you walk with the Lord.  For most of us they will be more a source of conviction that contentment and that is okay.

Those of you that know me know that I am a big guy. I have been big for most of my adult life.  Over the years I have tried all manner of diets and calorie reducing plans all to no avail. I have lost more weight than I actually weighed but eventually I put it back on. The reason is that my relationship to food never changed, I never changed when it came to food.

What I learned is that one will never change the outside permanently until there is an internal change.  In the case of my weight, I had to change my love for food and my dependency on food as a source of happiness.

Our walk with the Lord is a reflection of an internal change.  Let me clarify, when we are saved the Holy Spirit comes in to live in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19).

“Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,”

In this Scripture we see that the Holy Spirit lives in us once we are saved, our bodies become His Sanctuary.  When we think of the word sanctuary today we think of a place of rest for animals who have been abused or a safe place for troubled people.

But in the Old Testament, the temple of God was a sanctuary. It was a place of respect for God, of seeing God’s power and for one to have a healthy fear of God. The sanctuary was the center  of worship for the nation of Israel and our bodies are the main tool with which we worship the Lord.

We use our hands, our mouths, our feet, our minds and our time to worship the Lord. True worship comes from and internal sense of gratitude and awe towards the Lord, and this is sparked in us through the Holy Spirit as He lives in us.

In Romans 12:1-2 we are called to become “living sacrifices” surrendering our bodies to God   so He can renew our minds and “transform” us.

The word transform mean the change into something else. The best example of transformation for us to see if a caterpillar turning into a butterfly: no one goes to a caterpillar sanctuary, but people actually pay to go and see butterfly sanctuaries.

God wants to take us and transform us from lost unsaved caterpillars into beautiful saved butterflies.

The Beatitudes are the colors on our wings, they make us beautiful and show the changes that God is making in us.  Today we will look at two other Beatitudes by which to gauge our wall with the Lord.  Ironically, in the KJV Bible our walk with the Lord is often called our “conversation.”

Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness, Verse 6

This is definitely a transformation from the Lord.  The natural man, we are told in Romans 8:37 is the enemy of God and does not naturally seek after God:

“For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law,  for it is unable to do so.”

Our minds do not naturally seek to obey God and to honor Him; we are God’s enemy in our natural state. So if you have a mind and a will that wants to seek righteousness that is a wonderful sign that God is working in you—a sign that His Holy Spirit is transforming you   from the inside and the evidence of that is coming out in your body.

The Scriptures tell us that when we seek after righteousness that we will be filled. Filled with what? Who fills us?

Satisfaction is what we are looking for. When we are hungry we want food, when thirsty, we want drink and these things satisfy us. When we desire righteousness and seek it like hungry  men and women God will satisfy us with His righteousness.

We will crave living right. We  will dream about it and when we fail we will repent and fall on His mercy; but get up determined to succeed.

When we have these desires, these cravings and these drives from the Holy Spirit in us, we will find satisfaction, contentment, we will find our fill in Christ our perfection. Matthew 6:33 tell us to “seek first the kingdom of God” and all the things you need will be given to you.

Not  many people live life satisfied or content, but as God’s people we can simply by seeking after righteousness and the drive of the Holy Spirit in us calls us.

Blessed Are the Merciful, Verse 7

Our God is a merciful God, in Ephesians 2:4, we are told that “Our God is rich in mercy.” All through the Psalms the writers sing of His mercy. In Psalm 136 the echo for the psalm is “His mercy endures forever.”

We are blessed to serve a merciful God. Just take a few moments of honest reflection at your track record as a person and then as a Christian. Are you glad that God is merciful? I sure am. have failed the Lord in more ways than I can recount and truly ask forgiveness for.

Psalm 25:7 begs God to forgive the “sins of our youth,” those things that we did and did not feel any shame for. I am glad that God is merciful.

In turn you and I should be merciful. Jesus was here on earth, He forgive sins and healed people spiritually and emotionally.  was the complete opposite of the religious bigots of His day; men, who sinned themselves but had no compassion for sinners (see John 8:1-11).

Jesus had every right to be unmerciful; He was and is 100 percent righteous. But He was and is merciful. Matthew 5:45 tells us that God allows sunshine and rain on the “Just and the unjust.”

Are you a merciful person? Am I a merciful person? These are soul searching questions. You see for us to obtain mercy from God we must be merciful people. We need to be compassionate to people when the sin or fail.

1 Peter 4:8 reminds us that “love covers a multitude of sins” aren’t you glad that Jesus loves you and covers your sin? Prideful people cannot forgive, they have this idea that what has been done to them is greater even that what they do to God.  They expect God to forgive them, but cannot forgive others.

Even the model prayer beginning in Matthew 6: 9, we are reminded that we are to forgive other as God forgives us.  Jesus reminds Peter in Matthew 18:22 that we are to forgive endlessly; don’t keep count. God does not keep a count of our sins, but offers us fresh mercy each day as we see in Lamentations 3:22-23:

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. We will end as we began, how is your walk with the Lord?”

Sean Gooding

Pastor, Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church