Beatitudes & Model Prayer

Since they're part of Sermon on the Mount, is there a relationship between the Beatitudes and the Lords Prayer?  On the surface they seem to differ quite a bit.  But there's more, if the layers are carefully peeled back.  And yes, they are closely related -- as each embodies the absolute truth of God speaking to us.

Here's the premise: There are 8 thoughts in each which may be viewed in symmetrical themes.  Blessings first mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount (Beatitude) are then echoed in the Model Prayer.  Why are they related?  Because all of what Christ spoke is the very root of truth. 
Blessed are...
  1. the poor in spirit (Theirs is the Kingdom of God)
  2. they who mourn (They shall be comforted)
  3. the meek (They will inherit the Earth)
  4. hunger, thirst after righteousness (They will be filled)
  5. the merciful (They will be shown mercy)
  6. the pure in heart (They will see God)
  7. the peace makers (They will be called Sons of God)
  8. the persecuted (Theirs is the Kingdom of God)
The model prayer...
  1. Our father who is in heaven
  2. Hallowed be your Name
  3. Your Kingdom come 
  4. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
  5. Give us today, our daily bread
  6. Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors
  7. Lead us not into temptation
  8. Deliver us from evil

Persecuted

posted Jun 23, 2012, 1:58 PM by David Gerhart   [ updated Jun 23, 2012, 1:58 PM ]

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."  Mat. 5:10.

"... but deliver us from the evil one." Mat. 6:13

Trials should not be confused with persecution.  

Jesus said: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Trials are difficulty that emerge from living our lives, most particularly the trouble that comes from straying off the narrow Christian path.

"But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Mat 7:14

Trials therefore generally revolve around responsibilities -- either those we avoid, or those we wrongly assume.  They exist  to some extent,  as choices we make that lead us into worry and angst.  In this way trials exist purely within our personal experience in some fashion.  Our neighbors do not share our emotions.  This private experience weighs on each according to what kind of thinking they engage.  For instance the death of a loved one impacts individuals differently.  Health problems are often blamed on demonic influences, but this author finds such affliction unlikely if one is under Godly protection.  Not many are tested as Job was.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" Mat 6:34

Persecution is torment by / through others that arrives in our lives because we are working powerfully for the Lord in some capacity.  Persecution originates with an active enemy working against us, who is the "evil one."  He uses lies and distortion with the intent to blunt, thwart, silence, imprison or even kill Christians.

"You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them." 2Tim 3:10-11

But there is another type of persecution: A self-inflicted, unwarranted range of emotions usually revolving around guilt.  Again our enemy lies to us, suggesting in our thoughts notions that lead to our indulgence of pernicious malingering self-pity.  We persecute ourselves for failing to meet our own standards and goals.  We seek achievements and acquisitions that are measured against others, or relative to cultural status symbols.  College this, car that, house there, boat, vacation (fill in the blank.)  This is a misplaced sense of security.  

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. Lu 12:33

Self persecution can also exist over spiritual matters.  But usually, this is a simple by-product of immaturity.  The mature Christian is able to forgive, even forgive themselves.

Christian persecution from with-out is managed by God to the benefit of His Kingdom.  Our internal experience is managed for us by the presence of the Holy Spirit and will result in our eventual sanctification.  In either case, our Heavenly Father delivers us from the evil one as we receive the salvation of Jesus by faith. 

Peace.  Harmony within and with out, but mostly within.  Now there is a goal worth pursuing!  

Peace

posted Jun 20, 2012, 8:03 AM by David Gerhart   [ updated Feb 8, 2013, 11:53 AM ]

"Blessed are the Peacemakers for they will be called the Sons of God." Mat. 5:9

"And lead us not into temptation.."  Mat. 6:13

Reading various commentaries, invariably the topic is peace between men.   But the real issue is Peace with God.  Peacemakers bring those living away from God's grace to a cleansing acceptance of Christ.  Christians are all called to spread this Good News.

Upon Jesus' baptism it was heard from Heaven:

"This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased."  Mat 3:16

Immediately thereafter Jesus was "...lead by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." Mat. 4:3.

It is important that these items are so closely connected in the text, and then again related through stanzas in the big themes of the Sermon on the Mount.  God wants us to understand that once we are at peace with Him, we are at war with our enemy.  But we are Son's of God and by faith can call on all of the gifts of the Spirit in our battle.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  Eph. 6:13

We should all expect -- particularly upon public confession of faith and if we seek baptism -- to experience a period of testing.  But more generally, we will experience attacks with every victory.  Jesus counseled truthfully:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Pure

posted Jun 9, 2012, 8:54 AM by David Gerhart   [ updated Jul 9, 2012, 11:50 AM ]

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God" Mat. 5:8

"Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."  Mat 6:12

Raw material is contaminated by many kinds of impurity. Sometimes very little of a precious thing is trapped in great quantities of worthless slag.  A whole load of ore, many tons, is processed to glean a few ounces of gold.  Purity requires refinement.

See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. Is 48:10

Nearing the end of three years following Jesus, Thomas on hearing that Jesus is leaving asks his famous question "Lord we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way." John 14:5   Jesus answers "I am the way the truth and the life" and continues about the Father finishing "From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” John 14:7 
 
But none of them understood.  It would take the death of Christ on the Cross to destroy the Apostles sense of knowing.

After the resurrection, Thomas, still full of doubt touched Jesus's pierced side and saw the holes in his hands...

"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29

The fires testing their faith were lit.  The affliction of doubt burned until, in those hours 50 days later at Penticost, the Spirit would come upon them.  They would all then, once and finally for all, know that they had seen God.

“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus”  Blaise Pascal

We have believed on the evidence of creation around us and the calling of the Holy Spirit, because we can sense our need for forgiveness.  And we are more blessed for it.  The law of righteousness convicts us and we cry out for Jesus in our affliction.  He cleanses us, and we are purified.  Now, with a pure heart and our forgiveness, would we be like the unforgiving servant in Mat 18?  He'd become vastly indebted to his master, and was forgiven that debt (as we are with Christ) but when he encountered a lesser who owed him, he demanded payment. The Master finds out ...

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’  In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed."  Mat. 18:32-34

The impurity of unforgiveness can not exist in a truly purified heart.  When we love our enemy (Mat.5:44) we will pray for their salvation.  When we are attacked, there will be no reflex to retaliate -- in turning the other cheek we are expressing love, not some steely determination to perform an act!  A pure heart can only issue pure words, and the pure word comes only from the Lord Himself through the Holy Spirit.  

A pure heart will always forgive, because a pure heart knows the love and price that was paid for our own restoration.

Merciful

posted Jun 5, 2012, 10:39 AM by David Gerhart   [ updated Jun 5, 2012, 10:39 AM ]

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" Mt. 5:7

"Give us today, our daily bread" Mt. 6:11

Humans are born greedy, seeking self-justification and aggrandizement; pre-wired to compete for what we can get.  Survival of the fittest. People take all they can get when they are able -- accumulating ever more, and much beyond actual need.   Sadly and often, such gain comes at another's expense.  The justification is often "because I can" or "because I deserve it" or "because I earned it."  Because I want to!"

Mercy contravenes justice; suspends law.  Most particularly the laws of nature and instinct.  Mercy is not genetically transmitted.

“I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” 2Sam. 24:14

Who invented mercy? God.  His is not the mercy of biting ones' tongue, or painfully denying some fault or slight whilst forcing a toothy, false smile.  This is not "denial of true feelings" and behaving a pious lie.  This is the mercy that is a reflection of the greater mercy and grace we were shown on the cross.  Mercy that is borne of love so abiding that it first looks to lift up, that it always seeks to comfort, that is ever present despite human weakness.  Patient, long suffering, mercy.  Mercy that suspends justice to save.

"Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy." Prov. 28:13

And so if we are not seeking to collect more grain into the barns for ourselves, or to have a more beautiful palace and worldly adornment -- we must lean back on our source.  Remember Israel in the desert: daily gathering manna to eat.  They could gather only enough for that day and it would only last those hours.

"For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jn 6:33

Since I'm not filling my self with the food of the world, the Lord continues his indwelling -- infilling me with the spiritual food I need so much more than meals of corn and meat.

"Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Is. 55:2"

Each day, our daily bread is provided at the mercy of the Lord.  Mercy that is borne of love so abiding that it first looks to lift up, that it always seeks to comfort, that is ever present despite human weakness.  Patient, long suffering, mercy.  Mercy that suspends justice to save.

Thirst

posted Jun 4, 2012, 11:00 AM by David Gerhart   [ updated Jun 4, 2012, 11:34 AM ]

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Mt. 5:6

"Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."  Mt. 6:10

After one has processed within oneself the prior elements (Beatitudes) we are waiting vessels -- hungry and thirsty for the filling our God has predetermined for us.  He knew us from before time, and has plans for us.  
  • Poor in spirit -- reduced to nothingness, personally bankrupt
  • Mourning -- we regret our transgressions and the loss of God-given potentials
  • Meek -- pliable, ready to be formed, which He will do to fit his purpose.
If we are done with our selfish arrogance, sorry for our transgression, meek and maleable -- we are ready.  Ready to receive his will here on earth, because we know it is perfect in Heaven.

Jesus spoke his will, in his last words to the apostles... 

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses ... to the ends of the earth." 

Many will come to listen, few will hear and receive the Gospel, and fewer still will be prepared as the Beatitudes outline.   Because doing so is ... an unnatural act against our instinct, it's difficult to subjugate our will to another.  

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Pt 3:9



Meek

posted Jun 2, 2012, 8:45 AM by David Gerhart   [ updated Jun 2, 2012, 8:52 PM ]

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."  Mt. 5:5

"Your Kingdom come" Mt. 6:10

It's been asserted that meek does not mean weak.   To be meek is to be ready for the potters hand: one is maleable.

mal·le·a·ble  (ml--bl)
adj.
1. Capable of being shaped or formed, as by hammering or pressure: a malleable metal.
2. Easily controlled or influenced; tractable.
3. Able to adjust to changing circumstances; adaptable: the malleable mind of the pragmatist.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin mallebilis, from mallere, to hammer, from Latin malleus, hammer; see mel- in Indo-European roots.]

Synonyms: malleable, ductile, plastic, pliable, pliant

"O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. Jer. 18:6

We are one shape and God needs us to conform to his will, to take on the shape he would have us become.  Is this easy?  Is it fun?  Does it hurt?  Letting go of self always burns.

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret..." Ps 37:7
"Wait for the Lord and keep his way he will exalt you to inherit the land..." Ps 37:34

The Lord completes the meek.  Filling them not with things of this world, gadgets, baubles, fame -- which are fleeting and imperfect.  His work on our person permits us to become truly complete in the inner and outer experience (E.Fox) where one engages all places and things with contented satisfaction; encountering Gods creation as he intended, trusting and relying on his provision and placement each day as it comes.  To inherit the earth includes an appointment to spiritual wealth of the Kingdom of God here on earth.  We will live and move and work in this Kingdom according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

"My Kingdom is not of this world.  If it were , my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my kingdom is from another place."  Jn. 18:36

Mourn

posted May 28, 2012, 11:10 AM by David Gerhart   [ updated May 28, 2012, 11:10 AM ]

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."  Mt.5:4

"Hallowed be thy Name!" Mt. 5:9

Joy is a result of having been created in Gods image; we are imbued with God-like attributes, one of which is free will.  To have free will means that we are free to pursue what pleases us. To desire a thing is to experience lack. Great joy can only be experienced when we obtain something we deeply desire.  Joy is an experience of being filled.

Therefore, as joy is contingent on lacking, unfulfilled desires produce pain. Loss and sadness are intimately connected with expectations, a sense of justice and fairness.  Unmet expectations become resentments which are really anger in disguise.  And anger is an early step along the chain of grief.

When there is mourning for lacking things of this world, it will pass -- because the things of this world are like chaff and dross.  The fires of refinement separate dross from the gold and the stormy winds of life blow away chaff.  All one must do is wait for tribulation.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Jn. 16:33

There is one form of loss that cannot be burned or blown away, because it's eternal.  This is the loss of relations with God.  We sin and in turning away from Him, we pollute ourselves.  In our shame, he turns away because pure holiness cannot look on unrighteousness. God is like us and loves us, our sin causes Him great pain.  The cost to him of our sin was the blood of his own Son.  God the Father sent God the Son to die for sin; Jesus was separated from the Father and paid the price.  And because He was God, Christ rose from the dead, making atonement and breaking the bonds eternal separation from God because of sin.  Now that's something to be joyful over. 

"For God (the Father) so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son ... who ever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.  Jn 3:16

Much deeper than the grief we can ever experience over the passing of worldly things, true believers will mourn over the pain they have caused their Lord.   In forgiveness, we experience restoration, through the free gift of Christ which is grace, comes our comfort. 

"When the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." Jn 15:26.

In Christ is great comfort.  Salve for an aching soul, longing to be filled with the abiding truth:  This life is forfeit, there is joy only in the life of Christ. 

Poor in Spirit

posted May 26, 2012, 9:16 AM by David Gerhart   [ updated May 26, 2012, 12:30 PM ]

"Blessed (are/be) the poor In spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."  Mt. 5:3

"Our Father, in heaven..." Mt. 6:9

 In Mt. 3:2 John the Baptist exhorts "Repent, the Kingdom of heaven is near!"   Later in Mt. 10:7 Jesus echo's "As you go, preach this message: 'The Kingdom of heaven is near!"

To be "poor in spirit" is to be empty of all desire.  Dreams for life no longer harbor hopes of good things, all the pleasure is gone out of getting what I want.  I renounce my preconceptions in a wholehearted search for God.  The vessel is ready for the potter's hand.

"...The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel."  Is. 7:14  Immanuel means "God with us."  In a very present sense.  Jesus has come to fill the emptiness in our lives with His spirit.  Our joy is in Him, we are content to live for Him.

When we call to the Father in heaven, we recognize our empty inadequacy and extol the fullness of His holy nature.  We are low and He exalted far above us.  In our emptiness we are finally willing to admit Gods perfect fullness.

The Kingdom of heaven is here now.  The rich young ruler rejected Christ because of his great worldly wealth.  This is a picture of the spiritual wealth believers must unfold and return to the Lord -- compactly stated, it's a matter of free will.  We quit doing for ourselves.  We respond and do what Christ does in our lives.  Heaven exists in the believer's life because we are living for Christ.  All of the fruits of the spirit are manifest: Love, joy, peace, temperance, long suffering...

To non-Christians, this sounds like so much malarky ... there is actually no way, no language that can be used to communicate with them about the nature of these spiritual affects.  Elsewhere scripture mentions hardened hearts, deaf ears ... Christ taught in parables so that the mystery of the Kingdom of heaven could be understood only by those who were at the end of themselves.  The Poor in Spirit hear him.

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