During the course of this year each inmate to whom we write will receive a lesson regarding the beatitudes with his or her monthly mailing. It is our desire to help every inmate develop a life devoted to prayer and Bible study, focusing their attention on renewing their minds with Bible study focused on a personal relationship with Christ and their fellow man through Biblical instruction and prayer. One of the missions which the Lord presented The Forgiveness Foundation with this year is to raise up a team of prayer warriors within the prison system. We have already asked several inmates to begin praying for revival within their prisons, revival in our land and this world.
It is our desire that the studies we prepare be simple and strictly measured to the Word. Our desire is not to promote opinions or generate new theology - merely share the Gospel as it is written, to honor and share the true message of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As I prepared this lesson it occurred to me that some of our website visitors may enjoy this series of teachings on the Beatitudes so I decided to include it on the website.
I also want to encourage you to pray for revival in your world, the space you occupy on this earth, to pray for revival for our country and for revival throughout the world.
The Beatitudes - Matthew 5:1-12
1"And seeing the multitudes, He [Jesus] went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs shall be the kingdom of heaven.
4"Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
5"Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
7"Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
8"Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
11"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say al kinds of evil against you falsely for My name sake.
12"Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (NKJV)
Thank you for joining us in our study of "The Beatitudes," taught by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as part of The Sermon On The Mount. The ministry focus of this teaching is to help apply the specific beatitude to daily living. Together, over the next eight months, we shall look at each beatitude that Jesus taught with the purpose of arriving at a better understanding of the beatitude so that each of us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, may apply it to our daily living.
The first beatitude which we will examine is Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
What does the word beatitude mean? It comes from the Latin word beaus which means blessed or happy. Utmost bliss. It is also defined as any declarations made in the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew Chapter 5 verses 3-11. The Greek word used in the text for blessed is makarios and is an adjective suggesting happy, supremely blessed: a condition in which congratulations are in order.
Jesus is telling us that the poor in spirit are blessed? What did Jesus mean to be poor in spirit?
Poor in the spirit includes a recognition that everyone is in spiritual poverty. It requires us to accept that we cannot earn our salvation. It also requires us to accept that our salvation is a gift from God that shows His mercy through His Son Jesus Christ. What can I do to earn my salvation? Nothing! Salvation is a gift available to those who confess Jesus as Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised Jesus from the grave. Poor in spirit means we have nothing to offer. We are dependant upon God, His grace and mercy.
"Poor in spirit brings to mind a concept we humans do not like – submission. God’s plan does not provide a way for us to earn our salvation but does provide salvation as a gift. God created us with free will. Free will allows us to decide whether to submit to God’s plan and accept His gift or reject His gift and thereby reject our salvation." (King James Bible Commentary, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Poor in spirit is about humility. The beatitudes don’t tell us how to get salvation – they show us the evidence of salvation. A person who is poor in sprit is one who is humble and acknowledges and accepts his or her dependence on God for all things.
The poor in spirit are the opposite of the proud or haughty in spirit. The poor are those who have been humbled by the grace of God and have acknowledged their sin and therefore their dependence upon God to save them. They are the ones who will inherit the kingdom of heaven."
Are you poor in spirit? Do you want to be? Are you haughty and arrogant? Are you self made? Do you want to become the type of person Jesus describes as poor in spirit? Pray for the spirit Jesus describes. Ask God to remove the haughty arrogant attitude that you possess and with a sincere heart acknowledge that you are dependant upon God for your salvation. God is faithful and will hear your prayer.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4 (NKJV)
The book of Matthew tells us that after Jesus was tempted by Satan, He began his Galilean ministry. Matthew 4:17: From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (NKJV) Jesus was telling the Galilean’s to turn away from sin. The need for true repentance is helpful in understanding the second beatitude.
Mourning is a state of sorrow. The Greek word used for mourn at Matthew 5:4 means, "a grief so all-encompassing that it cannot be hidden." (Strong’s) The word used for mourn in this passage describes a deep heart felt sorrow in a general sense and is also used to grieve a death. What is Jesus telling us?
The first step toward repentance is recognition of sin in our lives. Jesus tells us that we should be deeply grieved for the sin in our lives to the point of mourning. Mourning is the recognition of the depth of our sin, not just the mere fact that we are sinners. Mourning is an outward demonstration of putting away sin that attacks our relationship with the Lord.
The second part of this beatitude, "for they shall be comforted," assures us that our genuine desire to turn away (repent) from sin is not unnoticed by God and in fact God comforts us (1) by forgiving our sins and (2) by sending the comforter (the Holy Spirit) to help us endure in our battle with sin.
Are you genuinely sorry for your sin? Have your mourned over the separation sin placed between you and God? Be comforted because God is here to battle for you – just let Him in.
The third beatitude which we examine is Matthew 5:5 (NKJV), "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth."
Webster’s dictionary defines meek in two ways. The first is patient and mild. The second is too submissive and spiritless. What a contrast! It’s like through the world’s eyes or through Christ’s eyes.
As I studied this verse I realized that Christ meant steady and consistent. Meek are people who know themselves because they know and submit to God. The meek aspire to see life through God’s eyes and to live life in a manner dedicated to serving and pleasing God. That simplistic thought alone takes all the wimp out of the word meek as Jesus meant it.
By submitting to God the meek develop a living relationship with Him. By submitting to God the meek exercises His authority in their lives in a manner which the arrogant cannot comprehend. Meek is moving anger to peace with soft words even when that anger is directed at them. The meek, as Jesus taught, is a person who exercises self control and is in fact very strong because his battles are well chosen.
Meekness promotes happiness because it is the result of an inward relationship with Jesus which produces the outward manifestations of the love of Jesus the Christ. Now that’s awesome.
Meekness does not connote weakness, but rather controlled strength developed through genuine humility and self discipline.
What does inherit the earth mean in this verse? Happiness, genuine happiness is the inheritance which the meek have. A Christian knows that he is the adopted child of God. He knows his inheritance. The meek are content in all things as they patiently wait upon the Lords return.
The fourth beatitude which we examine is Matthew 5:6 (NKJV), "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."
Christians know that the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to the believer the moment the believer surrenders his or her life to Jesus. At that point, Jesus becomes not only the believer’s Savior, but also Lord of his or her life. It is important to understand this in order to truly grasp the meaning of the fourth beatitude. Clearly one must be a believer, a born again Christian, to grasp the full meaning of this verse.
Is Jesus Lord of your life? This beatitude addresses spiritual growth. As a Christian our deepest desire should be to grow in Christ, that is, to become Christ like – the meaning of the word Christian. As Christians, we are not righteous by our own good works or deeds. Christians are righteous because God showed us mercy and grace through the death and resurrection of the only truly righteous one, Jesus Christ.
What does Jesus mean when He says that we should hunger and thirst after righteousness? Jesus, as our righteousness, requires us to pursue Him as we would pursue food and drink when we are hungry and thirsty. To get the full measure of the soul satisfying nourishment, we need to develop our relationship with Jesus. In order to get our souls nourished it is imperative that we feed on the source of that nourishment, The Bible. It is through the written Word of God, by His Spirit, that we are given the view of Jesus Christ that carnal minds cannot understand. Because, the carnal mind does not have a personal relationship with the Redeemer. It is the Word revealed through the guidance of the Holy Spirit that our understanding of Jesus, our Redeemer, grows. We need to nourish our spirit by pursuing a deeper understanding of our Lord and Savior, which can only happen when we study the Word.
Prayer is the other essential ingredient to our quest for righteousness. It is with prayer that we open the lines of communication with the Lord. It is useful to pray for clarity of understanding when we study His Word. As we seek afer His righteousness, it is not by man’s understanding but by God’s. It is useful to pray for His direction when making a decision. It is useful to pray for healing and material needs. It is useful because these are the very things that we would share with a good friend, a friend, who in most cases can do little or even nothing to help resolve the need. Jesus on the other hand can command the solution to take place. It most definitely is better to share your needs and desires with Jesus, since He can act upon them.
Righteousness is about right living through developing an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior whereby our soul is nourished with righteousness. The phrase, "for they shall be filled," indicates an on going activity. This phrase indicates that we need to be constantly seeking a deeper relationship with our Lord and Savior. We have a need for Spiritual growth. Nourishment is provided as the Holy Spirit replenishes our spirit with His nourishment, allowing us to grow in our understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember the promise, "Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled." Praise the Lord!
(4) “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. (5) But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear." Luke 12:4-5 (NLT)
Happy Independence Day
United States Of America
We, at The Forgiveness Foundation, thought that for Independence Day in the United States we will share Bible passages that share God’s view of government so you can ask yourself if your relationship with our government is as God expresses in Romans and whether our government is as God describes in 1st Samuel.
Israel Demands a King (July 4-10)
(11) He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. (12) And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. (13) He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. (14) He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. (15) He will take a tenth of your grain and your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. (16) He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys and put them to work. (17) He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. (18) And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 1st Samuel 8:11-18, (ESV)
The Lord’s Prayer
The Model Prayer
Relationship and Worship
Our first lesson on the Lord’s Prayer is limited to verse 9 because the verse needs to be meditated and reflected upon. This verse identifies God and establishes the relationship between God and the person praying. Do you view God as your heavenly Father or are they just words you recite? Has the Lord’s Prayer become a convenience for you, allowing the words, like so many memorized recitals, to pass through your mind without a conscious thought of their true meaning?
The non-believer who is following the lessons regarding the Lord’s Prayer will find that God reveals Himself, many aspects of His personality, through this prayer. The Lord’s Prayer or model prayer is a good introduction to God.
(9) Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven; hallowed be your name. (10) Your kingdom come, your will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. (11) Give us this day our daily bread, (12) and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. (13) And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:9-14 (ESV)
The Lord’s Prayer is found in the Bible at the 6th chapter, starting at verse 9, after the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. Some scholars refer to this prayer as the model prayer and not the Lord’s Prayer because it teaches the elements of prayer and is not considered by them to be a prayer of our Lord. They consider it to be instruction on how to pray.
Let’s start by looking at verse 9 of Matthew 6. Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Jesus’ first lesson in prayer is simple, call out to God, “Our Father in heaven.” Some believe that God is universal. This is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that God is triune: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In prayer it is important to call out to the living God, because the others won’t hear because they do not exist. In these first few words, God is called upon and the word, “Father” reveals the personal nature of the relationship God has with those who call upon his name. We are his children and He is our Father. Father is a word of comfort that assures us that God cares about us, listens to our prayers, and gets personally involved with our lives.
Verse 9 continues, “hallowed be your name.” Holy is your name. Holy is your name. Holy is your name. An incredible contrast from the intimate beginning of the verse, “Father in heaven,” to the worship filled phrase, “hallowed be your name.” Although we are to strive for a personal relationship with God, He demands that we grant Him the reverence due Him and acknowledge Him as creator and Lord of all.
Verse 9 instructs us to acknowledge God and state our relationship with Him. It identifies God, as the God of heaven; it speaks to His personal relationship with the believer, and identifies his total authority over all things. You can use your own words to address God, the point that Jesus was making to the disciples was to address their prayer to the only true God, to have comfort in His desire to have a personal relationship with each of us while acknowledging Him as creator and ruler over all things created.
Jesus’ Thoughts on Prayer
Jesus told us everything we need to know about prayer. The Forgiveness Foundation plans to share Jesus’ teachings about prayer over the next fourteen days, “The Forgiveness Foundation’s 14 Days of Prayer.” Our objective is to learn to pray as Jesus taught us to pray.We pray that you will join us.Matthew 6:6-8 shares some do’s and don’ts about prayer.
(5)"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (6) But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (7) “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.(8) Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you Him.”Matthew 6:6-8 (ESV)
In verse 5, Jesus tells us that God is looking for a sincere relationship and not one designed for others to observe rather than true and sincere relationship with God.Jesus in verse 6, tells us seek a private place to pray. This allows us to pray without interruption or distraction.In verse 7, Jesus tells us that the length of our prayer does not account for its reception from God.God is looking at our heart as intently as He listens to our words. In verse 8, Jesus reminds us to not be like them, the hypocrites, people who play act a life for God without having a genuine heart to live life for Him.
Jesus' Thoughts On Prayer
The word Christian means to be Christ like, that is, to take on the characteristics of Jesus – inwardly and outwardly.One characteristic of Jesus Christ that is sited universally is love. Love is described in 1st Corinthians 13 and Jesus tells us to love everyone. “But I (Jesus) say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” … Matthew 5:24 (ESV) If you are having a problem forgiving someone, you have a love problem.Is there someone in your life who has wronged you and you can’t let go of that hurt, follow the words of Jesus, pray for them, pray that they be blessed upon their greatest imagination, and watch what Jesus does in your life.
THE JOURNEY TO CALVARY
SIN DEFEATED – RESURRECTION SUNDAY
The Last Supper
17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.
20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” Matthew 26:17-29 (ESV)
Christ’s Anointing At Bethany
When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to His disciples, (2) “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” (3) Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, (4) and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill Him. (5) But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
(6) Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, (7) a woman came up to Him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on His head as he reclined at table. (8) And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?” (9) For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” (10) But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. (11) For you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. (12) In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. (13) Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
(14) Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests (15) and said, “What will you give me if I deliver Him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. (16) And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray Him. Matthew 26:1-16 (ESV)
Christ’s Triumphant Entry to Jerusalem – Palm Sunday
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethpage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples (2) and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. (3) If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” (4) And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they united it. (5) And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” (6) And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. (7) And they brought their cloaks to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and He sat on it. (8) And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. (9) And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! (10) Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
(11) And He entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when He had looked around at everything, as it was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:1-11 (ESV)