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Posted By Nan

Matthew 5:13
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavours of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage” The Message.
When I read this verse, I am always reminded of the saying that a person is the salt of the earth. This is a positive thing, saying that person is great and highly prized. Jesus is telling those who are His disciples that they are the salt of the earth.
In the time of Jesus, salt was seen in the following ways:

  • It was pure. It was so special it was acceptable as a sacrificial offering. Jesus was telling anyone that would be a disciple that he must be pure. By pure He meant maintaining a high standard of behaviour by being honest, hard-working and moral.
  • Salt was also a preservative and this made it a very precious commodity. Salt allowed people to eat in times when food was not so plentiful, such as during winter. So salt kept the dead meat fresh. It also stopped the meat from being infected with bacteria so that the meat remained untainted or uncorrupted. So the disciple of Jesus is alive and uncorrupted by the world.
  • The flavour of food is also improved by salt. Jesus expected His disciples to add flavour to life. In the modern world, people perceive Christians as being joyless and taking the flavour out of the world. So many Christians become legalistic and set limits on what people can do instead of looking around with joy and delight at the wonderful world God has created and the beautiful people He has put in the world. Instead of serving Jesus with great Joy, these Christians serve the law with great misery and delight in this joylessness! Yet Jesus asks them to be the salt of the earth and add flavour and joy to the people of the earth.

Our purpose as Christians is to be the salt of the earth. We are required to live in purity, to be filled with the life of Jesus and the purity of His sacrifice for our sins. We are also required to be the one who adds flavour to life through the joy of our relationship with Jesus. Are you fulfilling this requirement of discipleship? If not, what are you going to do about it?

 
Posted By Nan

The Sermon on the Mount is considered to be about discipleship and the Beatitudes are seen as the picture of the “perfect disciple”. Taken superficially, it can be seen to be promoting poverty and extreme submissiveness, but our study of the Beatitudes so far has shown that the actual meaning is spiritual, not physical.
We are blessed because we are Christians. Our blessing is the life we live in the joy of knowing that Jesus is our Saviour, that he died for us and that daily He grows more and we grow less. We cannot guarantee permanent happiness, but the blessedness of the Christian is a joy that is rooted in the greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ and it is permanent.
In the first Beatitude the man who lives in abject poverty has learned not to rely on material things to bring happiness or security. This person understands that only God can help him. As we grow in our faith in Jesus, we seek to do God’s will more than our own. Therefore, we are blessed when we realise and accept our own helplessness in being able to effectively live our lives. When we realise this, we put our trust in God. As we learn to trust God, we become obedient to His will.
The second Beatitude looks at the person who mourns for his sin and that of the whole world and feels overwhelming sorrow at the realisation of the pain he has caused to God and Jesus. This person is blessed because of the cross and has realised the way to joy and forgiveness is through the desperation of a heart broken on the cross by the knowledge of the awfulness of sin.
The third Beatitude looks at the importance of being assertive and of using self-control to deal appropriately with anger so we are always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time. It speaks of the importance of being God-controlled and of being humble enough to recognise our dependence on God to maintain our self-control.
The fourth Beatitude considers how much we want goodness. Is it as much as the starving man or the man dying of thirst wants food and drink? In our overindulged Western Societies, do we just have a slight longing for the “whole of righteousness” or a life or death desperation for it? Are we prepared to give the time or effort, the sacrifice required to have the “whole of righteousness”?
The merciful of the fifth Beatitude are about forgiving and choosing to not judge others. This includes seeking to understand the reasons for a person’s actions. Jesus did just this in coming to live in a man’s body and live as a man so that He could understand us and the reasons for our actions. This is the supreme act of mercy as described here in this beatitude. If we do that we will find others may well do the same for us, and we will know that this is what God in Jesus Christ has done for us.
In the sixth Beatitude the person with the pure motives is blessed. We need to stop, think and examine ourselves to ensure our motives are pure and unmixed. We often feel pride at performing an act and that immediately mixes our motives. Jesus said our inability to see God is due to our lack of purity of heart. Mixed motives reduce our knowledge of God so we do not know what we are looking for and therefore cannot see God.
The seventh Beatitude speaks of the peace makers, those who seek to resolve, not suppress conflict.
The final Beatitude contains the warning the disciple of Jesus will suffer for faith. Work, social and family life may be disrupted by following Jesus. However, the sheep of the Shepherd walk in the world and risk the persecution of that world.
Relying on God, mourning our sinfulness and accepting our need of a saviour, being God-controlled, desperation for the whole of righteousness, forgiving others, pure motives, good conflict resolution, and willingness to suffer persecution. These are all spiritual and physical marks of the true disciple of Jesus.

 
Posted By Nan

Matthew 5:10-12
Verse 10 reads “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.” The Message.
“Blessed and happy and enviably fortunate and spiritually prosperous(in the state in which the born-again child of God enjoys and finds satisfaction in God’s favour and salvation, regardless of his outward conditions) are these who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (for being and doing right), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” The Amplified Bible.
It is difficult to separate verse 10 from the following verses 11 and 12 because they all talk about the persecution suffered by the believer. 1 Peter 3:14 expands on the persecution mentioned here in the three verses.
These verses contain an important warning to anyone who would be a disciple of Jesus that they would suffer for that faith. One of the things Jesus was talking about in these verses was that the disciple would find his or her faith would disrupt his/her work and it would disrupt his/her social life. The believer would be called upon to not work for pagan religions and to not participate in pagan rituals which were a major source of social interaction at that time. For the disciple there was an even greater problem. His/her faith might disrupt home life. If the disciple was the sole Christian in a pagan family and had to face the difficult task of choosing between God and family. In addition to this, the terrible tortures meted out to Christians were horrifying. Much has been written about why Christians suffered such persecution. One was due to misunderstanding about the Christian Faith. Many believed Christians were cannibals because of the words of the last supper where Jesus spoke about eating his body and blood. It was also believed Christian worship was immoral because it was described as a Love Feast. For those who did not know Jesus and what He taught, love was interpreted as sex and there was a belief that these meetings were depraved orgies. It was also believed Christians were planning a rebellion against their leaders. If they weren’t going to disrupt society through revolution, then it was seen that Christianity disrupted society by destroying families. The faith was seen as dividing families. For the Romans, Christians committed the ultimate sin of refusing to worship Caesar.
According to this beatitude, being persecuted gave the Christian the chance to prove his or her loyalty to Jesus. Jesus spoke of the disciple being persecuted in the same way the prophets were persecuted. For the disciple, persecution was a lonely road, but one shared with Jesus. He was always there with the disciple. Daniel 3:19-25 tells the story of the three young Israelites who refused to bow to the Babylonian King in worship. When they were cast into the furnace to kill them four men instead of three were seen to be in the fire. The men survived and reported an angel had come to minister to them. Jesus does not leave us alone to suffer.
In our safe western lives the worst persecution we are likely to suffer is that of mockery from non-believers who wish to poke fun at Christian faith and attitudes. The cost we pay is not to be killed horribly or tortured mercilessly, but to be mocked and excluded. For many who keep themselves safe in little segregated Christian groups there will be no mockery. But of course the person who keeps themselves safe like that is not following the teaching of the Beatitudes. Jesus requires His disciples to walk in the world and risk the persecution of that world. Any attempt to avoid this turns us from sheep to goats (Matthew 25:31-46).

 
Posted By Nan

Matthew 5:9
The Message “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”
The Amplified Bible “Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous – with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favour and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!”
Linked to this verse are the following passages:
James 3:18 “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” NIV.
Romans 8:14 “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” NIV.
Also see Matthew 5:44-45.
This suggests a strong link to moving in the spirit to sow peace and harvest righteousness.
In Hebrew and Greek, the word for peace means more than just the absence of trouble, it means everything which makes for a man’s highest good. So wanting peace means having good things as well as not having bad things.
It is also important to note that the peace makers are the ones blessed, not those who love peace but those who make it. Note the call to make peace is misinterpreted by many in western culture and in the churches as meaning there is to be no conflict by suppressing people who try to resolve a problem. But this is incorrect. Proper conflict resolution is a pre-requisite for peace. Trying to prevent a person discussing a wrong done to them will only breed resentment. This is not peacemaking. Rather, acknowledging the wrong that person has suffered and opening a way for both parties to resolve this, including an acknowledgement by the other person that his/her actions have hurt another, is peacemaking. Those who supress conflict and prevent issues being adequately resolved or try to pretend there is no problem are not peacemakers, they are fomenters of war. Sadly, many churches place great pressure on people to suppress conflict and they misinterpret the scriptures to claim this is peacemaking!
Barclay notes that early church scholars thought this beatitude referred to the making of peace in a person’s own heart. However another meaning for peace, which was supported by the Jewish teachers of Jesus’ time was that the highest which a man can perform is to establish right relationships between man and man. This is certainly an aspect of peacemaking, but not the entirety of peacemaking.
According to Barclay, the beatitude might read:
“O the bliss of those who produce right relationships between man and man, for they are doing a godlike work!”

 
Posted By Nan

Matthew 5:8
In the NIV this beatitude refers tp being pure in heart. The Heart is considered to be the centre of our being, including our mind, will and emotions. This is linked to Psalm 4:7 “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when the grain and new wine abound.”(NIV) Heart is the centre of the human spirit, from which spring emotions, thought, motivations, courage and action “the wellspring of life”. This psalm is linked to Proverbs 4:23 “above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” (NIV). The beatitude is beautifully expressed in The Message:
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”
Looking from a different perspective, The Amplified Bible translates this verse as:
“Blessed (happy, enviable fortunate, and spiritually prosperous – possessing the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favour and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!”
This latter part of the verse is linked to Psalm 24:3-5 which reads “Who shall go up into the mountain of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy Place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted himself up to falsehood or to what is false, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (The Amplified Bible)
Matthew Henry considers this to be the most comprehensive of the beatitudes. Here holiness and happiness are fully described and put together. The most blessed are the pure in heart. Those inwardly pure show themselves under the power of pure and undefiled faith. True Christianity lies in the heart, in the purity of heart, the washing of the heart from wickedness (Jeremiah 4:14). We must lift up to God not only clean hands but a pure heart (Psalm 24:4-5, 1 Timothy 1:5). The heart must be pure, in opposition to mixture. It should be an honest heart that aims well, pure in opposition to pollution and defilement as wine unmixed and water unmuddied. The heart must be kept pure from fleshly lusts, all unchaste thoughts and desires and from worldly lusts such as covetousness. The heart is purified by faith. We see reference to this in Psalm 51:10 “create in me a clean heart, O God.” True happiness is to see God and only those pure in heart can see God. Those without pure hearts cannot endure looking upon God’s purity.
William Barclay sees this beatitude as a command to stop, think and examine oneself. The Greek word for pure has several meanings, all of which are relevant to this beatitude. It means clean, as in clothes that are washed clean. It refers to corn that has been winnowed and cleansed of all chaff. It also refers to something that is pure and has not had anything else mixed with it. So the beatitude could be seen to say “Blessed is the man whose motives are always entirely unmixed, for that man shall see God.”
It is so easy to perform great acts in God’s name and to feel pride within the heart for a “job well done”. This is a classic mixed motive. If we obey this beatitude, we are required to examine ourselves to understand our motives. Barclay asks how many people go to church, not to meet God, but to fulfil a habit or appear respectable. Sadly there are many who do this and it robs the churches of true faith as those with pure hearts struggle to find God amongst those with mixed motives.
According to Jesus, our inability to see God is not due to God, but due to our lack of purity of heart. We can only see what we are trained to see. If our knowledge of God is limited, then we will not see God because we do not know what we are looking for.
So Barclay considers the sixth beatitude should read:
“O the bliss of the man whose motives are absolutely pure, for that man will someday be able to see God”

 


 
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Nan
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