When God Sticks Out [The Beatitudes]
One Sunday as they drove home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, there’s something about the preacher’s message this morning that I don’t understand." The mother said, "Oh? What is it?" The little girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. He said God is so big that He could hold the world in His hand. Is that true?" The mother replied, "Yes, that's true, honey." "But Mommy, he also said that God comes to live inside of us when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Is that true, too?" Again, the mother assured the little girl that what the pastor had said was true. With a puzzled look on her face the little girl then asked, "If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn't He stick out?"
That is what the beatitudes are about – God showing through. It has always been God’s purpose that when He entered our lives, He would be allowed to so fill and control them that He would "show through" – that He would be visible in our attitudes and actions. The beatitudes are like a light bulb…that only shines when plugged into God’s power!
One preacher said the beatitudes are supposed to ‘be’ your ‘attitude’. No…you can’t pretend. Humans aren’t able to keep the beatitudes, no matter how hard they try. Nobody can be like Jesus like Jesus can. By the Holy Spirit, He has come to live IN us that He might live THROUGH us to meet the needs of hurting humanity. And when He does, others see the image of Christ shining through this veil of flesh.
Let me ask you a question: How would life be different if Jesus were to come take your place? What if He took your place in the home? What if He performed your work on the job? What if He sat in your desk at school? What if He filled my place in the pulpit? Yet, that is exactly what He wants to do. He came to live within me to mortify the carnal works of this body, master the circumstances of my life, manifest His character, and minister to others whom my life touches every day.
Knowing that makes me wonder, does anyone ever see God showing through me. Well, if they did, I know what He would look like, for the beatitudes are a self-portrait of Christ.
Let’s make this practical:
v. 3 poor in spirit – like when we are down because we lost an election – remember we are citizens of heaven first!
v. 4 they that mourn – like when you are thinking about the babies who will die, the immorality that will prevail, and the religious freedom you will lose – take comfort in the fact that though we lose some battles we WILL WIN this war!
v. 5 the meek – like when you realize the taxes you will pay, the gas prices that will rise, and the jobs that will be lost – remember that you will rule and reign with Christ over it all one day…as a joint heir! Our Father is rich!
Why should we study this today? The answer is the first word of the first verse: ‘Blessed’. Jesus gets our attention from the beginning of each verse. When Jesus preached He showed us how important the introduction is! This is the sermon on the mount: “The greatest sermon ever preached by the greatest preacher Who ever lived!”
Joke—the forgetful preacher: went to conference / heard them say that the first thing you say in your message should be attention grabbing / then he heard a preacher stand up and give an example, saying, ‘I spent many years of my life in the arms of another man’s wife.’ [the people gasped] He continued ‘…she was my mother!’ / the forgetful preacher said, oh, I’ve gotta remember that one. He got home and couldn’t wait to grab their attention Sunday morning. He said, ‘I spent many years of my life in the arms of another man’s wife.’ [dramatic pause] ‘…for the life of me I can’t remember who she was!’ Well, at least he got their attention!
So, why should we study this today? The answer is the first word of the first verse, and almost every verse: ‘Blessed’. Jesus got our attention from the get-go. We want to be blessed!
Here is what others will see when God shows thru:
I. A Happy Person
This is the first sermon recorded in the New Testament as having been preached by Jesus Christ. It begins with a promise of happiness. Nine times the voice of Jesus reached out to the multitudes seated on that hillside – people who were oppressed politically, socially, and economically – with the offer of genuine happiness.
A. Happiness – the uncommon feeling
1. The word translated "blessed" is makarios.
a. It was a common word, but Jesus used it in an uncommon way.
Typically, it was used to describe:
• The wealthy, because they enjoyed a standard of living that appeared to put them out of reach of the cares of this life. (Money can buy happiness.)
• The Greek gods because they had the power to gratify their every desire.
b. It described a state of contentment and delight that was reserved for a very privileged minority.
2. This world gives us the popular concept of happiness.
a. Blessed are the rich
b. Blessed are the famous
c. Blessed are the gifted
d. Blessed are the powerful
Happiness is a common desire. Yet, so few people seem to have it that we put it in the same category as four-leaf clovers and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – the elusive, the unattainable.
• If happiness is linked with power, not every one can have it.
• If happiness is linked with prosperity… “”
• If happiness is linked with popularity… “”
B. Happiness – the unexpected offer
Chuck Swindoll, in his book Simple Faith, made the following observation. After noting that Jesus used nine, back-to-back announcements of blessing, he remarked, “Having endured a lifetime of verbal assaults by the scribes and Pharisees, the multitude on the mount must have thought they had died and gone to heaven.”
For some reason, many people look at the Bible and all they can see is the negative. They emphasize the prohibitions, the curses, and the judgments and leave people with the impression that God has the disposition of a dill pickle. They seem to see God as the “cosmic killjoy” who spends His time trying to think up new ways to make people miserable.
Jesus painted a different picture. He showed them a God who wanted them to be happy – who wanted to fill their life with satisfaction, contentment, and delight. G. Campbell Morgan wrote that blessed is a word "full of sunshine, thrilling with music, brimming over with just what man is seeking…."
The same word is used in 1 Tim. 1:11
According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
I’m so glad I serve a happy God, a joyful God. Don’t ever let someone criticize you for having fun at church. It’s a wonderful life, a natural high, and you don’t have to wake up tomorrow feeling guilty!
The same word is also in Titus 2:13
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
It also has the meaning of “congratulations!”
So, are you poor in spirit? Congratulations! [etc.]
Are you happy? Too many people spend their lives thinking, "I could be happy if..." They are looking for happiness in the wrong places, associating it with the wrong things. And I would suggest that people seldom see God showing through them.
When God shows thru, the world will see not only a happy person, for happiness is based on happenstance or circumstances, but they’ll see something deeper…
II. A Whole Person
The beatitudes are a self-portrait of Christ – that which we would see if God were living in the body of a man. And God’s purpose, according to Romans 8:29, is for every Christian to be conformed to the image of Christ. Therefore, it is reasonable to draw the following conclusions:
A. They are not guidelines for Christian character.
A guideline suggests a standard that you and I should strive to measure up to. Men do not have what it takes to reach the standard set by the beatitudes.
B. The beatitudes describe the evidence of a yielded life.
They are not to be produced BY the Christian, but IN the Christian. They tell us what men will see in a life that is surrendered to the Lord.
1. The beatitudes do not represent individual qualities, but a complete picture of a man mastered by God…a complete package of qualities.
Ill.--The Bible speaks of the FRUIT of the Spirit, not the fruits. A person under the control of the Holy Spirit isn’t going to demonstrate love but lack self-control. The evidence that a man is truly walking in the Spirit is that he exhibits the fruit of the Spirit on a consistent (not perfect) basis.
This takes the pressure off of us to “produce” fruit. We need only be filled with His Spirit and His Word and then when life squeezes us…what comes out? Him!
The Beatitudes are the same. Are we seeing a work of God if a person appears to be "poor in Spirit" but still hungers and thirsts for the things of this world? Will God make me meek, but allow me to be lack mercy and compassion? What kind of impression would people have of God if He worked that way?
It is impossible to genuinely display one of these qualities as the work of God without displaying them all. True, because of circumstances, one or more will at times be more prominent, but the Holy Spirit will not manifest one with a disregard for the others. If that is the case in my life, it is a sure sign that what people are seeing is a fleshly counterfeit, not a genuine, spiritual work of God.
2. The beatitudes are not a standard for me to achieve, but a yardstick by which to measure my submission to the Holy Spirit.
I do not spend my time worrying about whether or not I am poor in spirit, meek, merciful, etc. My focus is on walking in the Spirit - being submissive to the Holy Spirit – because I know that if the Holy Spirit is in control of my life, He will manifest these qualities. However, the beatitudes let me know that if I am being hateful and vindictive then it is a sure sign that I am not walking in the Spirit. If I am driven by selfish ambition, then my life is not yielded to Christ.
Poor in spirit = emptiness. Having a humble / sober / right self-image. This is about our self.
We all want to feel good about ourselves, but Biblically, you cannot feel good about yourself until you feel bad about yourself. Our problem isn’t low self-esteem…it’s pride!
Seeing ourselves accurately comes by seeing the Lord in His glory!
Poor in spirit = self…
Mourn = brokenness. This is about our sin. This is when we realize our sin breaks God’s heart, and then our heart breaks over it, too!
Meek = submissiveness. This is about our Savior. It’s power under control. It’s the picture of a horse that has been broken. Is that horse weak? No! Meekness isn’t weakness. It’s us being under God’s control.
The happiest people in the world are those who yield themselves to experience the grace of God every day. Why? Because theirs is the kingdom of heaven, they are comforted, they inherit the earth, they are filled, they obtain mercy, they see God – and others see God in them, for they are called "the children of God." They also lead the most fulfilling lives – because God makes them into a complete person.
I want you to do something right now. Mentally, reach into your hip pocket or your purse and pull out a little mirror. Now, look into it. Are you allowing God to so control and fill your life that He "shows through?" You know what He looks like. His portrait is in the beatitudes. If not, why not take the first step and yield yourself to the Holy Spirit of God. It’s the only way that you can experience these qualities and the blessedness that goes with them.
It all starts when you are born again. Are you?
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