Today’ selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle which the apostle Peter wrote unto the strangers which were scattered abroad. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses three through twelve of the first chapter. When you come to this particular portion of the first chapter of this epistle you find the apostle Peter using language which was very similar to what the apostle Paul used in certain of his epistle. If you begin reading the words which the apostle Peter wrote in this portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Peter using language that is even similar to that which the Lord Himself used when speaking unto the multitudes which drew near unto Him. If you turn and direct your attention to the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel according to Matthew, you will find the Lord speaking forth a series of statements which have commonly become known throughout church history as “the Beatitudes.” It’s actually quite interesting to consider that which this series of statements and phrases are called, for if you take a look at the word “beatitude” you get the sense that essentially what Jesus was seeking to set forth was a series of “be-attitudes”—a series of actions and behaviors which should be found within the hearts and lives of each and every disciple and follower of Him. What’s more, is that what we find in this series of “be-attitudes” is a powerful sense of truth and understanding concerning that which s Gould be our mindsets which should most certainly be found within each and every saint, disciple and follower of Jesus Christ. We dare not miss and lost sight of the significance of what is found within this series of verses, for not only do they present us with that which should be cultivated and manifested within our hearts, our minds and our lives, but it also reveals to us the blessing that is directly connected and associated with such attitudes, such actions, such behaviors, and such mindsets. I am convinced that if we are to truly understand that which the apostle Peter, and that which the apostle Paul wrote in their epistles, we must first recognize and understand that which we find in the Sermon on the Mount. Consider if you will the words which our Lord spoke at the very outset and beginning of this famous sermon—that which is found beginning with the third verse of the fifth chapter:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:3-12).
With this series of phrases our Lord brings us face to face with a powerful need that is found within our hearts, our minds, and our very lives. Within this series of phrases and statements Jesus confronts us with the tremendous reality of how we should live our lives and conduct ourselves among those around us, and within the world in which we live. Consider if you will that nine times in this series of statements Jesus uses the word “blessed” to describe those individuals who allowed themselves to be governed by such principles and truths. Jesus emphatically declared that such individuals who allowed their lives to be governed by such behaviors and attitudes would both be blessed, as well as be happy within this life. The question we must ask ourselves is how many of us move, operate and function in one or more of these “be-attitudes.” I am reminded of the wonderful and incredible truth that our attitudes are a direct and powerful reflection of who we are as a person. Whether we want to chose to believe and accept or not, our attitudes are a demonstration of who we are as an individual to the world which is present all around us. The fact that these phrases and statements are called “be-attitudes” should bring us face to face with the awesome truth that the attitudes we possess within our lives are a powerful statement and practice of “being” within this generation and upon the earth. Jesus repeatedly used the word “blessed” when speaking of this series of attitudes, actions, mindsets and behaviors, for Jesus knew that the life which was governed by such rules and principles as these would indeed be a happy and blessed life. In all reality, I can’t help but think that we as the saints of God—we as the disciples of Jesus Christ—need to take a good, long and honest look at ourselves, and examine whether or not we possess at least one of the attitudes and behaviors that are found within this sermon. It is not by coincidence that Jesus uses the word “blessed” when speaking of these very specific attitudes and behaviors, for that life which allows itself to be governed by such principles as these will most certainly and surely be blessed within this generation. With that being said, it’s imperative that we recognize and understand that the blessing is not necessarily found in the attitude and behavior itself, but also the direct result of that particular practice of these attitudes and behaviors within our lives.
As you read the words which Jesus spoke unto the multitudes that came unto Him, you will notice these “be-attitudes” are essentially broken up into three distinct parts. First, these statements and phrases begin with a single word which carries with it tremendous weight, meaning and significance—the word “blessed.” The “be-attitudes” which Jesus spoke unto those who came unto Him to listen to and hear Him speak began with a statement of what that life would be like for the one who engaged themselves in such practices and attitudes within the daily practice and routing of their lives. Jesus begins each of the “be-attitudes” with the word “blessed,” and then immediately following the words blessed Jesus transitions into the attitude and behavior that is needed within the life of those who sought such a life. In the third verse Jesus spoke of those who were poor in spirit, while in the fourth verse Jesus spoke of those who mourned. In the fifth verse Jesus spoke of the meek, while in the sixth verse Jesus spoke of those which do hunger and thirst for righteousness. In verses seven and eight, Jesus not only speaks of those who are merciful, but also those who are the pure in heart. In verses nine and ten Jesus spoke of the peacemakers, and those which were persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Please pay close attention to that which is found in this series of verses, for these aren’t merely suggestions which Jesus was speaking unto and offering unto those who gathered together to listen to and hear Him speak. If we are going to truly understand that which Jesus was declaring in this series of statements and verses we must recognize and understand that they are not suggestions which Jesus made in an attempt to somehow make our lives better simply for the sake of making them better. There are those among us who read the words which Jesus spoke in the “be-attitudes,” and consider these words to be optional behaviors and attitudes which they can choose whether or not they would like to incorporate into their daily lives. There are those who would treat this series of statements as a menu which they can pick and choose which ones they want to add to their daily lives and their regular practice. There are those among us who would merely sample the behaviors and attitudes which are found in this passage of Scripture, and only after sampling them can and will they make a decision as to which ones they would like to incorporate into their regular lives. There would be those who may like and enjoy hungering and thirsting after righteousness, but that’s about as far as their desire for these attitudes truly goes.
I fully recognize and realize that what we find in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount isn’t directly linked and connected to the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the first chapter of his first epistle, but I feel it absolutely necessary to use His words to set the stage for this concept of “blessed,” for not only are we able to be blessed within this life and within our experience, but we can also, should also, and must also bless the living God. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the Lord spoke unto Abram when He called him forth from Ur of the Chaldeans. If you journey to the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book fo Genesis you will find the Lord beginning Abram’s journey with a wonderful and powerful promise—a promise that directly hinged on his willingness to walk in obedience and faithfulness to that which he had been commanded and instructed of the Lord. It would be very easy to focus solely on the words of promise the Lord spoke unto Abram, and it would be very easy to get caught up in how the Lord was going to bless Abram within and throughout his journey, however, to do without first acknowledging and understanding that which was required of Abram would be to sorely and severely miss the point of what the Lord was desiring to do within and through his life. It was true the Lord desired to bless Abraham, however, the blessing which Abraham would receive was never intending on being hoarded and kept all to himself. What’s more, is the blessing that was within and upon Abram’s life wasn’t even really about him, for the Lord wasn’t simply looking to Abram’s life, but to the generations that would emerge within and upon the earth through the seed that would be passed down through the generations. It would be very easy to get caught up in just how blessed Abram was from a material and possession standpoint, but to do would be to miss the awesome importance of the requirement that was placed upon his life. There are far too many of us who desire the blessing without being willing to accept the requirement and responsibility that is directly connected to and associated with that blessing. There are many of us who desire the favor of the Lord within and upon our lives, and yet we aren’t willing to take the necessary steps of obedience and faithfulness to making such a reality manifested within our lives. I am utterly and completely convinced that more often than not there can be no true blessing of the Lord without and apart from our willingness to accept both the responsibility and requirement that is directly connected to the blessing. Consider if you will the words which the Lord spoke unto Abram, which began first with a call to obedience and faithfulness:
“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the easy of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south” (Genesis 12:1-9).
You will notice at the end of the third verse the Lord made a promise unto Abram—a promise which declared that in him would all the families of the earth be blessed. It is absolutely critical and vital that we pay close attention to these words, for so many of us ask to be blessed of the Lord in order that we might hoard the blessing of the Lord for ourselves, and enjoy it within our own lives. So many of us neglect, ignore, and even reject the reality and concept that the blessing of the Lord within our lives is not even necessarily about us, but is so that we can be a blessing unto others. BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING! What I so love about the words which the Lord spoke unto Abram on this particular day was that it was at the very beginning of his journey of faith and obedience before Him in the earth. Before Abram would even begin his journey within and upon the earth the Lord would make it perfectly and abundantly clear that the blessing which would be bestowed upon his life would be so the nations of the earth could and would be blessed. What we must recognize and understand is that the nations of the earth would and could not be blessed without and apart from Abram being blessed, and Abram would and could not be blessed without and apart from giving himself over to the obedience and faithfulness to the responsibility and requirement of the blessing. You will notice in the first verse of the twelfth chapter the Lord instructed Abram to “get out of his country,” to “get out from his kindred,” and to “get out from his father’s house” and to go unto a land which he would show him., Abram’s journey of blessing would begin with a long obedience in a single direction—the direction which the Lord would show him. This long obedience in the direction the Lord would show him would begin with his leaving his country, leaving his kindred, and leaving his father’s house, in order that he might come into and come unto the land the Lord would show him. It is critical that we understand that the Lord would make Abram a great nation, and the Lord would bless him, and the Lord would make his name great, and Abram would be a blessing, and that the Lord would bless those who blessed him, and would curse those who cursed him, however, none of this would come without and apart from Abram making the conscious and deliberate decision to get out of his country, to get out from his kindred, and to get out from his father’s house, and to go unto a land which the Lord would show him. The journey and path to blessing before the Lord has always and will always begin with faith, for the only thing Abram saw was everything he was leaving behind, and perhaps even everything he was giving up in order to pursue something he could not see with his natural eye. When Abram rose from Ur of the Chaldeans, and when Abram left Haran, he had absolutely no idea where he was going, or even what that place would look like—he only saw that which he was leaving behind him. More often than not that which we are leaving behind is the only thing we can see, for that which lies before us is concealed, hidden and withheld from our natural senses.
I am utterly and completely convinced that the blessing that is presented in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew isn’t merely about those who would make the conscious and deliberate choice to allow such attitudes and behaviors be manifested within their lives. What I mean by this is that when we are poor in spirit—while it is true that the kingdom of heaven is promised unto us—that attitude and mindset of being poor in spirit is in and of itself a blessing to those who are around us. When we mourn—it is true that we comforted—but those around us can be blessed through, by and as a result of our mourning. While we shall inherit the earth as a result of our being meek, the blessing for such an attitude and behavior within our lives extends beyond just ourselves. When we are merciful—not only do we receive and obtain mercy, but that attitude of being merciful has a direct impact and affect on those who are around us. What’s more, is that our being the pure in heart will in fact result in and position us to see God, but the blessing of such an attitude extends so far beyond us ourselves. Even when we give ourselves to being peacemakers, the blessing of being peacemakers—being called the children of God—extends so far beyond just ourselves. What’s more, is that when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake—it is true the kingdom of heaven is ours, and it is true that we are blessed, however that blessing extends so far beyond us ourselves, and so far beyond our own lives. Jesus spoke of the poor in spirit, those who mourned, the meek, those which hundred and thirsted after righteousness, the merciful, those who were the pure in heart, those who were the peacemakers, those which were persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and those who were reviled, and -persecuted, and those who had all manner of evil spoken against them falsely for His sake, and yet in each of these cases Jesus described such individuals as being blessed. First comes the blessing, then comes the attitude, and then comes the result that is brought forth and manifested as a result of such actions, attitudes and behaviors. The life of that one who is poor in spirit is blessed, for that one who is poor in spirit will have the kingdom of heaven. The life of that one who mourns is and will be blessed because they can and will be comforted. The life of the one who exercised meekness would be blessed, for they would inherit the earth. The life of that one who hungered and thirsted after righteousness can and shall be blessed because they will indeed be filled in order that they might be satisfied. Those who are merciful can and will be blessed, for they shall obtain mercy, and those which were the pure in heart can and shall be blessed, for they can and shall see God. Those who were peacemakers can and shall experience a life that is blessed, for they shall be called the children of God. The final two “be-attitudes” are of such a nature that we rarely want to talk about them—much less accept them into regular practice and experience within our lives. There are many who are okay with most of the “be-attitudes”—that is, until they come to the final two “be-attitudes,” for Jesus transitions to speaking of those which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and those who are reviled, persecuted, and those who have all manner of evil spoken against them falsely for His sake. How counter-cultural, and how so much against our natural way of thinking to actually think about and consider that such a life which is persecuted, and such as life which experiences men reviling them, persecuting them, and having all manner of evil spoken against it falsely can and shall be blessed.
When opening up his first epistle, the apostle Peter blessed the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ—this same God and Father who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us agin unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Furthermore, this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has begotten us unto an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefined, and which does not fade away—an inheritance which is reserved in heaven for us. Within verses three and four of this first chapter the apostle Peter not only spoke of our being begotten unto a lively and living hope, but also to an incorruptible and undefined inheritance which cannot and shall not fade away, and which is reserved in heaven for us. I absolutely love how the apostle Peter writes and speaks that this inheritance is reserve in heaven for us, for it suggests that absolutely nothing within or upon the earth can touch it. The inheritance which has been reserved for us has not and did not originate within and upon the earth, and therefore it cannot be touched by the hands of men. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which our Lord spoke in the Sermon on the Mount concerning the treasures of our heart—treasures which are either stored up here on this earth and within this life, or treasures which are laid and stored up in heaven. Consider if you will the words which our Lord speaks in the sixth chapter concerning the treasure(s) of our heart, and where the treasure(s) of our heart have their root and foundation and are found within our lives. Beginning with verse nineteen of the sixth chapter we find the following words spoken by our Lord concerning the treasure(s) of our heart:
“Lay not up for yourselves upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:19-23).
In this passage of Scripture Jesus instructs us to lay not up for ourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. Instead, Jesus instructs us to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. What’s more, is Jesus would go on to declare that where our treasure is, there will our heart be as well. In other words, if our treasure(s) are rooted and grounded, and if our treasures are found within and upon the earth, then our heart can be satisfied with and by the things which are present in the earth. It is absolutely necessary that we understand and recognize this principle, for.if our treasure(s) are found here on the earth, then that means our heart scan be fully and completely satisfied with the things which are present within this earth. Heaven help that individual whose heart can be fully and completely satisfied with and by the things which are found within the earth, for that will be a heart that is routinely and regularly disappointed. There is a great danger in allowing ourselves to store up for ourselves treasure here on the earth, for by doing so, we allow our heart to be tethered to the world, and thereby we become slaves of the world, and even enemies of the living God. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which James the half brother of Jesus wrote in the fourth chapter of the epistle which is found in the New Testament. Consider if you will the words which he wrote in the opening portion of the fourth chapter of this epistle: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye. Not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a.friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:1-4). You will notice in this passage that not only does James declare that friendship with the world is enmity with God, but those who would choose to be a friend of the world are enemies of God. One of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to store up for ourselves treasures here on the earth and allow our hearts to be satisfied with the things that are found within the earth, or whether or not we are going to forsake all the world has to offer in order that we might pursue and lay up for ourselves treasures which are found in heaven. To help illustrate this point even further, it is necessary to consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the first chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Ephesian congregation. Consider if you will the words which are found in this particular epistle beginning with the third verse of the first chapter:
“Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved> in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye beloved, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).
With these words the apostle Paul issues similar language to that which the apostle Peter wrote in his first epistle, and it is quite clear and evident from both apostles that there was this great need to examine our lives, and to truly see where our heart and its desires, its passions and its lusts are truly found. Perhaps the single greatest question we can and must ask ourselves is whether or not our hearts can be satisfied with and by the things which are found present in this earth, or whether this world has absolutely nothing to offer. What’s more, is when we compare that which is made available to us in heavenly places, and when we examine that which is made available to us in and through the person of Jesus Christ—why on earth would we allow our hearts to be satisfied with anything that is present within and upon the earth? What about you who are reading these words? Can your heart be satisfied with the things of this world, or can your heart be satisfied only with and by Jesus Christ, and that which He has done and performed among us and on our behalf? One of the greatest dangers that faces any one of our hearts is the regular and continual bombardment of that which would seek to distract it from what is laid out before us by the Holy Spirit of the living God. One of the greatest dangers in any given life is to allow oneself to be satisfied by the things of this earth, and to lay up for ourselves treasure(s) here upon the earth. I am challenged with and by the words which are found written in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews, and I leave you with the words which the author wrote unto their respected audience. Beginning with the thirteenth verse of the eleventh verse we find the following words: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13-16). Oh heart of mine—would you choose to be satisfied and fulfilled with the pleasures, the lusts, and the passions of this world? O heart of mine—would you allow yourself to be enticed and captivated by the things of this world, and sacrifice and forfeit that which is laid up and prepared for you. In heaven? O that we would make a conscious and deliberate decision and effort to set our hearts free, and deliver our hearts from the passions and lusts of this world in order that we might be wholly and completely satisfied with and by that which has been laid up for and prepared for us in heavenly places in and with Christ Jesus.