PROMISED BLESSINGS AS WE JOURNEY TO CHRISTLIKENESS

_________________________________________________________________________________________

On the outskirts of Capernaum sits a hill with a view out toward the Sea of Galilee. On this hill Jesus chooses to preach His first sermon. He begins His Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes… the Latin word for blessings… to teach the people of the new life He came to give them.

The teachings of Jesus are revolutionary for the time, telling of a new way of living starkly contrasting with the ways of the world. A way to live a blessed life, a life of true happiness. A life of inward joy and hope irrespective of outward circumstances.

Jesus teaches of a new kingdom, a kingdom in the hearts of believers. This kingdom can be found only in Christ. Jesus presents seven Beatitudes… the sevenfold characteristics He desires to see in His followers. Seven is a holy number representing wholeness, completeness, perfectness. Only Jesus perfectly modeled the beatitudes throughout His life.

Living the beatitudes brings blessedness. Like a trail map, they mark the steps to this new life in Christ in ascending order. Believers may be at varying points along the path in different areas or seasons of their life.

As we walk the journey to Christlikeness, we learn to live as a reflection of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Kingdom values replace worldly values. The promise of happiness and blessedness on our life’s journey and at journey’s end will be our reward.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3

Step by step, we journey on our Christian walk. Humility is the first step… a recognition of our spiritual poverty. Our need for repentance is in direct contrast to the proud of the world who see no need for repentance. Our hearts are receptive and amenable to the call of Christ. We long for the salvation that only our Redeemer can bring. Our reward – the everlasting kingdom of heaven, both now and forever.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

Godly sorrow is the next step of our journey. Unlike the worldly who are sad for their sin only because of the consequences reaped, we grieve and truly repent of our sinful ways. Our heartfelt desire is for the mercy and forgiveness of our Savior… His cleansing of our sin. Our reward – the consoling presence of Jesus… His comfort and peace.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5

Along our journey, we seek to acquire the characteristics of Christ. Jesus said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Always He yielded to the will of the Father. The worldly would rather submit to no one. Yet we follow our Shepherd, modeling His gentle ways, His servant’s heart… yielding to the will of God. Our reward – His inheritance of blessings in this world and glories in the heavenly kingdom.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” – Matthew 5:6

Our next step is a longing for the freedom from sin. To be clothed in the robe of righteousness that Jesus won for us at so great a price. This righteousness, the right standing with God promised to all believers, is ours by faith in the Son of Righteousness alone. The worldly long to be accepted by the world. The Christian longs to be accepted by God. Our reward – the One who is faithful will fulfill all He promises.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” – Matthew 5:7

We next seek to cultivate the compassion of Christ. Unlike the worldly… merely looking out for themselves, we look to others… loving them as Jesus loves us. We show His love to all the world… extend His mercy to all in need… share His hope to all who are lost. Our reward – the endless mercy and compassion of our Immanuel.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” – Matthew 5:8

Our journey next leads us to embrace the holiness of Christ. Jesus sets us apart, separating us from the world unto Himself. He anoints us to walk in His ways… the ways not of the world but of the kingdom. Our hearts are purified by faith in the One who is Holy and True. Our reward – eternal life in the presence, purity and holiness of our Lord.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” – Matthew 5:9

The final step in our journey culminates in gaining the peace of Christ that passes all understanding. What the Prince of Peace offers is unlike the peace of the world. His peace is a deep, abiding contentment… a calm and quiet spirit. With His peace in our hearts, we seek to bring harmony in the world around us. Our reward – the honor, the privilege of being called children of God… kingdom children eternally loved by Him.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” – Matthew 5:10-12

What appears to be the eighth beatitude is a retelling of the first with the same reward… the kingdom of heaven. Jesus warns His disciples that they will face opposition and persecution because of their faith in Him. Troubles and trials will come our way… all a test of our true discipleship. Yet Jesus encourages all His followers with the promised reward for living the beatitudes… blessed happiness in this life and perfect happiness for all eternity.