2016 JOHN

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. "Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. "Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3-10

Dear Friends,

Someone asked me during a visit to share my favorite scripture. For me, it is difficult to narrow it down to one. I have many, but since I was asked I decided to answer. I answered with the words of Jesus known as the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…” I find these words are ever new. I cannot exhaust them. I cannot master them. No matter how much I study them, they seem to study me. There are so many ways to look at them. One can think it is an exhortation of Jesus to strive for certain values such as humility. One can think they are an encouragement to people who felt outside of God’s favor such as the powerless. One can think Jesus is telling us how gracious God is toward those who are not very spiritual. One can think Jesus is telling us how gracious God is toward those who are rejected. One can think it is a call of Jesus to be unselfish. One can think these are values of the Kingdom ofGod.

You may recall that I was preaching at a refugee camp in Tanzania. I stood up to preach about the Beatitudes and the whole sermon changed in a moment. After I read the first line, I heard in my mind quite clearly, “They expected to hear “Blessed are the rich in spirit.” And it went on from there that they expected to hear—blessed are the happy, the strong, the righteous, the forgiven, the clean, the victorious, and the secure. Jesus was blessing the opposite of what they expected. On another occasion Jesus said if you try to save your life you will lose it. I wonder how much time we spend trying to make sure we are happy, strong, righteous, forgiven, pure, victorious, and safe, when we should be spending our time to encourage those who feel they are none of those things. What is your favorite scripture?

Blessings,

Pastor John 2