August 26

Matthew 5-6, Psalm 84

Human philosophy and God's philosophy are polar opposites. We, as Christians, need to step back so as not to allow ourselves to be absorbed into the wrong system. Most of our children as they get older will begin to push back and either become overtly disrespectful or on the borderline before becoming adults. We reassure each other and tell ourselves that this is just a normal phase in becoming independent, which is necessary for each child if they are to become a normal functioning adult. But this is the world's philosophy. Nowhere in the Bible is this promoted. If we are to become children of God and facilitate the same for our children, they need to move from dependency on us, the parents, to dependency on Him, their true Father. Everything that we do to make our child excel in the world promotes those qualities that Jesus does not promote. The world states to try to be #1, not Jesus. The world tells a child to make sure they are noticed by the teacher or their coach so that they will be noticed. Jesus tells us not to draw attention to ourselves but to be a light for God. The world tells us to excel, to get trophies, to give us the ability to place bumper stickers on our cars ("My child is an honor student at ..."), to get into a prestigious college, to get a high-powered job, to make a lot of money, etc. All this to fulfill what the world claims will lead to a happy life. All of which is never stated by God but by man.

The Beatitudes, which are a series of qualities which will lead to true blessings and true happiness. These Beatitudes run completely opposite to the manual given by the world to achieve success. Matthew 5:3-4, reads "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted." The world says be self-assertive and confident and be filled with self-esteem. Jesus states the opposite. We are to see ourselves in light of Jesus and lose our pride and realize how impoverished we truly are in light of Him. Seeing ourselves, and how far we are from the mark of Jesus, will naturally cause us us to mourn over our past and present sins now that they are seen in a new light. We then read in 5:5-6, "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." Seeing ourselves in this new light, with our pride gone, whatever qualities we possess we want to harness and use for Him, not ourselves in meekness. Being emptied of ourselves we seek to be filled by something greater than ourselves. We empty ourselves of self-righteousness, self-importance, and self-satisfaction and hunger and thirst for His righteousness. We can only be filled if we have previously been emptied of ourselves. We next read in 5:7-8, "Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God." Once we are emptied of self and pride, we realize that we are in no position to judge others who are only sinners like ourselves. Comparing ourselves to Jesus should make all of us short on judgment and high on mercy realizing how much mercy and grace we ourselves need (Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35). No longer corrupted by the passions, lusts and distractions of this world, our hearts will become more pure. We read in 5:9-10, "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." Jesus and Jesus alone is the only name under heaven that offers true peace. Peacemakers are those who offer others the only true peace available. We need to be openly telling others about Jesus if we want to be peacemakers.

Though these qualities are all good, we can't expect the world to embrace them or us. Persecution doesn't seem to make sense when we become more like Jesus. But the crucifixion of our perfect, sinless, all-loving Savior, Jesus Christ also makes no earthly sense. When God's values are in conflict with the world's values, unless the condition of the heart is right, the natural reaction of the other person will to be fight back for what they stand for. This should not surprise us. But don't miss the second part of each Beatitude. Alongside each change of heart and character is a blessing of true happiness by Jesus Himself. As we read this section of Scripture, from the lips of Jesus Himself, may we all embark on the transformation necessary to move from independence on ourselves to dependence on Him, and in so doing experience true happiness.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster