“This Is Backward…”

Our reading today is from Matthew, Chapter 5:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew%205&version=NLT

Good Morning Friends,

As we open our reading this morning, I urge you to not gloss over this text, as it is one that we all have heard many times.  The Beatitudes are something that we have all been encouraged to follow in our daily lives, so we tend to not listen closely because we have “already heard that.”

I welcome any comments you have on this passage, and any others, because I know it holds a different meaning for each of us.

As I read the chapter, my first thought was “This is backward.”  The message seems to me to be in the wrong order.  First, Christ teaches us about the blessings and graces of being followers, then He launches into the actual behaviors He expects from us.  It seems to me that the expectations should come first.  It was then that the message for my life dawned on me.  

These expectations set the bar pretty high for us don’t they?  Love your enemy, give more than we are asked for, when wronged – forgive, keep your mind and heart pure – not just your actions.

Those are a struggle for me – every one.  They ask so much and for me, require a huge amount of daily intentionality.  I admit, on days that I am overloaded, stressed out and struggling – I don’t make it.  I fall short in one or many of them, time after time.

That is where the beauty of grace comes in.  See, grace in the form of blessedness, is abundant for us.  Go back to the top of the page in chapter 5.  Blessed are they… Blessed are they…  

Blessed are we, friends, who have the presence of the Holy Spirit right here with us.  Blessed are we, sinners that we are, who are trying to live up to these expectations and fail.  Because He is here to pick us up.

The message of Matthew 5 for my life today, is that I will never live up to His expectations without the grace of our Lord pouring over me.  His presence in my life alone, makes it even possible for me to try these incredibly difficult commands.  Without the grace first, I don’t have a chance.  I guess the text wasn’t backward after all.

Heavenly Father,

I am so dull sometimes.  I see things from my worldly perspective, devoid of grace and mercy.  Thank You for putting up with me.  Thank You for doing the heavy lifting when it comes to the renovations of my mind and spirit.  Help me to live out the paths of blessedness – that I might know Your presence every day in tangible ways.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

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