The Beatitudes Study Topics

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					(We prepared the following for our Team Retreat this year and since there is
no Study Topic for a while we offer it as a possible resource for a few Team
meetings. David and Avril)

                               The Beatitudes

Matthew 5 3:11

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 will inherit the earth
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they
shall be filled
Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy
Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God
Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteous sake, for theirs is
the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all
kinds of evil against you falsely on my account


The beatitudes are blessings or spiritual laws – eight pathways to
contentment.

They are given to us to help us enter into the joy and peace that is God’s
kingdom, among us here and now, and to help us discover about thriving
spiritually and experiencing the blessed life. (We are reminded of the words of
the hymn “Gather us in by Marty Haugen, V4 “Not in the dark of buildings
confining, not in some heaven, light years away, but here in this place the
new light is shining, now is the Kingdom, now is the day.”). Perhaps we
have always considered them a recipe for “how to get to heaven” rather than:
”How do I bring heaven to those around me?”

Each beatitude embodies a blessing poured out in spiritual fulfilment and true
happiness for ourselves and those we love, because a person who is blest
can become a blessing for others.

The spiritual laws Jesus taught reveal his own values and ideals, his goals for
us his people.




                                 Page 1 of 9
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

We will have peace of mind which depends upon uniting ourselves with God’s
power and guidance. Most adults expect to be in control of their lives. They
want it that way, and struggle to let go. But to find and receive peace of mind
that comes from God, we must allow ourselves to be open to him. This takes
practice and perseverance, but accepting the reality that we do not know what
tomorrow will bring, what difficulties or struggles may become part of the
equation of our lives, will bring us to an understanding of our true state of
dependency.

Peace of mind comes when we acknowledge that we are dependant on God
for everything, and we will be much stronger than if we think we can do it all
on our own by trying harder. Through these spiritual laws, Jesus shows us
things, not as they are, but as they might be and even should be.

Being “poor” in spirit is admitting our need, opening ourselves to God and
relying on Him to lead us and keep us growing. In essence it is trusting in God
to provide and not worrying. As we practice being trusting, God will open our
eyes to see things as they should be, and to catch glimpses of glory.

Question: Can we honestly say we trust God in all things, or are there some
things we want to keep hold of? If so, what should we do about it?




                                  Page 2 of 9
Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.
                                                                Romans 8:28

Jesus spiritual laws reveal, at their core, that the only way to live is with God.
All else is futile. A life with God means not only being “poor” and dependant
on Him, but facing the undesirable reality of suffering. Everybody encounters
pain and disappointment, so Jesus calls us to learn how to live in this
imperfect world. This spiritual law embodies the essential truth about our
human vulnerability, and a path to redemption – a saving of our life rather
than losing it to sorrow and despair. If we stick with God and follow His path,
He will show us a place where all true blessings reside. We will learn to find
comfort in knowing that He is with us in our trouble. He will teach us to hope
and if we have hope we can persevere. If we can learn to be accepting of
what life brings, in true dependency on God, we can even experience joy in
the midst of our suffering, because joy is a gift of God and nothing at all to do
with circumstances.

We are promised in this spiritual law that we shall be comforted and as we
practice living in God’s presence, He will show us and give us pleasure in the
myriad small miracles embedded in His creation. We will learn that all good
gifts come from our Father who cares for us, and we will find comfort in Jesus’
promise when he says “come to me all you who are weary and overburdened
and I will give you rest”. Knowing that Jesus is carrying our burdens with us is
all the comfort we need.

Question: Do we know if we are the type of person who can find the positive
in our situations, or do we only see negatives? Do we ask God to share with
us in our daily struggles?




                                   Page 3 of 9
Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth

The very first condition of lasting happiness is that life should be full of
purpose, aiming at something outside ourselves. Seeking pleasure is a sure
way to miss it. Jesus’ third spiritual law teaches that we will only be really
happy when we wait on the Lord and seek to serve others.

The meek are those whose egos do not dominate. They practice true humility
and regarding them Jesus said: ”The gate is narrow and the road hard that
leads to life, and there are few who find it.” If we think we have all the answers
and are flying full speed ahead by our own power, we will never know
humility. But if we wait on the Lord we are where we need to be – at the
threshold of humility. Meekness is not a popular virtue and involves patience
and endurance, a willingness to learn, and being slow to anger. Again, it
acknowledges a dependency on God for our daily living, and the meek are
happy for it to be so.

Our own achievements and accomplishments can often be a barrier to
dependence on God, and remove us from Him. We are not called to conquer
the world, but to inherit it by living each day in peace and with purpose as
Jesus did. Meekness signifies slowness to take offence, sensitivity to others
and loving our neighbour. Jesus describes himself as: “gentle and humble of
heart”, but he was not indecisive or weak. He drew others to him in vast
numbers and he lived to serve them.

We can be meek and humble only with God’s help and by walking in God’s
way. It is a way of spiritual power. Humility is the way of the practice of love –
not feelings but actions decided upon and this will open our hearts and minds
to “inherit” the goodness of peace and serenity and love that Jesus longs to
bestow on us.

Question: Are we happy to wait on the Lord and seek humility through God?
Do we put service of others before our own interests?




                                   Page 4 of 9
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they
shall be filled.

Clothe yourself with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in
true righteousness and holiness.
                                                                 Ephesians 4:24

No grace and blessing is truly ours until we are aware that God has blessed
someone else with it, through us. This spiritual law challenges us to impact
the world around us with all its injustice and need, and its opportunities for
caring. Mother Theresa said: “We can do no great things, only small things
with great love”. Everything we do with love makes a difference. Jesus
expects us to carry on his work of bringing healing and peace and daily bread
to a troubled needy world. We are told that we are the goodness of God on
earth today. God uses our hands and hearts to show His compassion and
mercy. If we don’t, who will? But we don’t act alone. Jesus assures us: “The
one who believes in me will also do the work that I do and in fact greater
works than these. If in my name you ask for anything, I will do it” John 14:
12,14, Spiritual backup!

In seeking to dispense spiritual righteousness we must believe in the power of
the individual and the ability to start a chain of goodness at the very spot
where we are planted. And then we must trust God for the results. As with all
spiritual laws, any accomplishment must begin with our dependence on God.
We can only do what is required in obedience to God and then leave the rest
to Him. God promises to bless the efforts of those who hunger and thirst after
goodness, and that is enough, because in that blessing we are “filled”. Jesus
also told us: “I come that they may have life and have it more abundantly”,
and that means here and now in our current time. We only have to accept.

If our faith seems small and ineffective it is only because the buckets we bring
to the Well of Providence need to be bigger. In other words, take the promises
of God and believe them to be true and we can expect miracles from small
beginnings.

Question: If we hope and pray to God to be filled with abundant life, do we
also work diligently to ensure others can receive it too?




                                  Page 5 of 9
Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy

If we are following Jesus’ spiritual laws for a good and meaningful life, we will
find that mercy for others flows naturally. The spiritual effect is not only balm
to someone who is hurting, but the blessing we are promised in return is balm
to our own soul. The ripple effect reaches far beyond our own influence,
healing many others along the way.

Showing mercy means willingness to forgive and forgive again. It means
being non judgemental. It is never our place to judge another and in the
measure we forgive and show mercy, we will ourselves receive forgiveness
and mercy.

Mercy is a quality of God, so those who share a life of blessedness with God
can’t but help sharing this quality also, and practicing here and now some of
the rules of God’s kingdom.

The parable of the Good Samaritan ends by Jesus asking “and who in this
story showed mercy?” It presents us with a spiritual law that can and must be
lived here and now.

Micah 6:8 summarizes very neatly the spiritual laws we have so far looked at:
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the lord require of
you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”.

Mercy is a generosity of understanding that proceeds naturally from the fact
that we ourselves have received it. Jesus said: “Freely you have received,
freely give”.

The spiritual law of becoming merciful helps us to understand that the
important economics of life are the exchanges of mercy, tenderness,
compassion and true concern, person to person, in the name of God. Mercy is
a cornerstone for anyone seeking peace and genuine living.

Question: Do we struggle to forgive people or the World in general for
seemingly doing us wrong? Do we strive to find the good in people or are we
more inclined to judge by appearances?




                                  Page 6 of 9
Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord and who may stand in God’s holy
place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts.
                                                         Psalm 24: 3 – 4

This spiritual law challenges us to become people who know God and bring
Him into our world of tension and strife, of disappointment and fears.

Purity of heart implies no less than total transformation, but God warns us that
this can be a lifelong process – but that is what life is for.

To know God we must believe he is approachable and Jesus came to bring
God among us. To have the necessary “clean hands” and “pure heart” to
come before God requires concentration of intent and the giving of our lives
according to God’s leading.

A pure heart is all to do with our attitudes and choices. What we allow into our
consciousness becomes part of us, the essence of our personhood and
values. The pure in heart can experience fellowship with God now and
forever. It calls for a life of justice, fidelity and loyalty, but what is also needed
is humility. Pride plays no part, rather, a humble attitude in searching our
hearts, accepting our limitations and assets as given to us by God, and letting
go to let God.

Prayer time is also essential. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to
you”. We will always find God if we ask Him to be present with us in all our
painful and joyful experiences. If we travel God’s road we will discover Jesus
walking with us as did the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Purity of heart has a close relationship to the innocence of children. Our adult
experiences may have damaged and sullied our perspective, but in spite of
this purity of heart can grow in us through seeking God. It is a state that must
be entered into to “see” God and to which God calls us and leads the way

Question: In our hectic lives are we willing to give the time to truly know God?
Is time spent in His presence essential to us?




                                    Page 7 of 9
Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God


The spiritual law to be a peacemaker calls on us to be one who arbitrates on
behalf of the truth, seeking to bring agreement in people’s lives.

A peacemaker stands between those who have something to give and those
who need it and help to plead their cause. Some people seem to have a skill
in conciliation and others seem to create dissention wherever they go, but
Jesus in this spiritual law calls us to a deeper level of understanding about
making peace. The kind of “peace” that ignores difficult realities is not only
impossible but also undesirable.

If we follow this spiritual law we will find we are challenged to be truth-tellers,
open to uncovering the real situation of any conflict and willing to state openly
what we see, and then we need to act in response to this knowledge as far as
we are able.

The biblical metaphor of a body with its various parts, expresses beautifully
how interconnected and interdependent we are meant to be in Christ. This is
our starting point for understanding and living in reconciliation and practicing
true peacemaking. We are all children of God and accountable to God and
each other for our actions. As peacemakers we must speak the truth in love
and this action is likely to be costly. It is rarely popular. Getting at the truth
requires dialogue and dedication. It is not acceptable to keep silent in the face
of serious social problems and psychological bullying. It takes courage to be a
peacemaker.

True peace comes when all parties desire it and are willing to work towards it.
Many people never learn that disagreements do not have to be expressed in a
threatening or abusive way. Difference can and should be voiced with
reasonableness and love and there should be no winners or losers but
instead growth for the whole group. Each person should feel free to express
opinions and admit needs and doubts and worries and find support.

This spiritual law calls us to be instruments of God’s peace in whatever way
we are suited and empowered to do, another cornerstone in the edifice of
God’s kingdom.

Question: Are we willing to speak out on behalf of others? How do we
approach disagreement and dissention?




                                   Page 8 of 9
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteous sake, for theirs is
the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all
kinds of evil against you falsely on my account


If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the
tax collectors do the same? But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for
those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in
heaven.
                                                           Matthew 5: 44 – 46

This final spiritual law tells us that when we are ridiculed and maybe abused
for following these laws, we are one step from the kingdom of God.
It implies a life of following “kingdom ways” through the guidelines we have
been given, but we must understand that we go against “the way that the
World is”. If we challenge authority it will not be taken lightly. If we go before
God and he asks “where are your wounds?” and we say “I have no wounds”
God may well ask “was nothing worth fighting for?”

This spiritual law affirms that Jesus’ way is not only worth fighting for but living
for through whatever challenges come, and in spite of the inevitable arrows
that will be flung our way, the very safest place for us to be is always with
God. We don’t like to think that we may face pain and strife as we take a
stand in the world as we often must when following Jesus’ way. When these
demands cause us to long for an easier road, we may be tempted to look for a
way out. Jesus himself was tempted in this way but His total dependence on
His Father always enabled Him to persevere, as it will us and we will be given
understanding to know that our trials are signs of God’s favour on our lives.

What our desire to follow Jesus will bring is an inner transformation, a
profound change in the way we see the values of this world. We will learn to
value our lives more as children of God and count them as nothing in the light
of the Gospel and following Jesus’ way. As we immerse ourselves in Jesus’
laws, peace will begin to pervade our lives and they will become characterized
by the blessedness that Jesus promises.




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