Special guest writer today – My mom: Deb Howard

READ: Matthew 5

BACKGROUND:  Bible scholars often divide the book of Matthew into five parts. Chapter five begins part three of those five and starts with the early public ministry of Jesus. Jesus is now drawing lots of attention and some big crowds, and these crowds listen as Jesus teaches his disciples.  The first part of Chapter 5 is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount and almost everyone has heard at least parts of this. Jesus offers some radical prescriptions for happiness: how to be happy with ourselves, with God, and with others. After surprising everyone with his wisdom on living as children of God, Jesus goes on in verses 17 -20 to explain how he came to fulfill the law, and finishes in verses 21 – 48 by rejecting traditional thinking. This chapter is packed with important truths spoken by Jesus.

By verse:
1-12 This section is referred to as the Beatitudes. Beatitude means supreme blessedness.
3 – Blessed is more than just being happy. Happiness is an emotion that  often depends on our circumstances, but blessed refers to the spiritual joy that we can have at all times because of our salvation through Jesus.
Poor in Spirit is the opposite of pride. We are poor in Spirit when we consider God’s opinion of us: wretched, blind, miserable…..and realize we need a Savior!
4 – Mourn – the world says be happy. Jesus says the only true way to happiness is to mourn our sin and seek repentance.
5 – Meek – a foreign idea to us as self-sufficient Americans. Meek describes a person who is God-controlled!
6 – Ask God to generate this desire within us! We need to want more of him….
7 –  Our debt was paid on the cross. Surely we must show mercy to others as Jesus showed mercy to us!
10 – Jesus knew what was coming for him, for the early Christians, and for us!
11 – Salt in Jesus day was a precious commodity and extremely important to preserve food. Jesus says we are that valuable to him! Salt makes us thirsty – the world should see what we have and want it!
17 – 20  – The Law is the first five books of the bible. Jesus taught that the Bible was the authority over our lives! Though in our culture not all the details of Old Testament laws are followed, the principles are timeless.
21 – 47 – Jesus confronts the Pharisees who wrongly assume only overt actions were sin. God looks at the heart! Avoid anything that leads to impurity!
48 – Be mature, be perfect….God wants us to grow up, take his Word seriously, and change from the inside out!

THINK:  My favorite part of every summer is Vacation Bible  School. Growing up it was a tradition not to be missed. I feel like our church always started VBS planning as soon as Christmas is over. Looking back, it was probably a great excuse for my friends and me to get out of the house, drink coffee, and chat for hours while our husbands got stuck with dinner and bedtime. I remember specifically a few of the early VBS years and seeing the way that they stuck with my kids. One year a stuffed bear led all the songs with his helper, a stuffed bee…and you’ve got it….we sang our way right through the BEE-attitudes!  I can’t remember the words, but I do remember feeling very convicted, and that’s just what Jesus words are designed to do – not convict so that we feel overwhelmed with guilt, but convict so that we repent and receive the JOY that Jesus says will be the reward of all who follow him! Sure, in this world we will have trouble, but we can BEE happy because he has overcome the world!

ASK: Am I allowing Jesus’ words to change the way I live? Do I believe in the radical transformation that’s available through surrendering to His radical plan for my life?

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