Monday, June 26, 2017


We understand restrictions. There are places we cannot go that are off-limits for a variety of reasons. There are activities we cannot participate in because we don’t fit the criteria. There are opportunities we cannot enjoy because we don’t qualify. Whether we agree with the restrictions or not, we simply understand the privileges don’t extend to us.

Try to get into Minute Maid Park without a ticket. Try to get onto a military base without clearance. Try to stop by and visit with the President without an invitation.

Restrictions are everywhere.

God has even set up restrictions.  Oh how blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. How is that a restriction? The obvious other side of the coin. How unblessed are those with impure hearts for they will not see God.

Remember Jesus was in the process of changing gears—phasing out the Old Covenant obligations and introducing the New Covenant relational truths. To an audience who only knew of rules and regulations, sacrifice and ritual—He wanted to show them what was missing. This is why you can’t find God in what you’re doing. You cannot see God with an unclean heart.

Many conditions of uncleanness kept people from approaching the Temple—access to God. Leprosy, touching a dead body, blood, eating wrong food, entering a Gentile’s house.

The people knew about restrictions.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (Isa 59:2)

Hidden His face – withheld access
Doesn’t hear doesn’t mean He can’t hear; means He chooses not to respond.

Word for hear – Shema – hear with intention to obey or hear with intention to respond

Iniquities are the impurities that dirty our heart before God. They are the desires and actions of satisfying self above God – disregarding God’s way for our way. It’s these impurities that prevent access to God.

A clean room is a surgically sterile environment, free from contaminates, where only those who themselves have been cleansed can enter. Why must the people wanting inside have to be cleansed to enter? To keep them from bringing contaminants into the clean environment. Permit pollutants and you no longer have a clean room.

Holy God cannot allow unholy people into His presence. Neither can He welcome the impure.

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. (Ps 24:3-4)

The restriction is clear: only those with a clean heart are allowed into His presence - able to ascend to the hill of the Lord and stand in His presence.
The essential question: How do we get our heart cleaned? We can’t clean ourselves.
He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, "Remove the filthy garments from him." Again he said to him, "See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes." (Zech 3:4)

Removing the offensive filth, cleansing a dirty heart is a God-activity:

Bible uses many different words to describe the dirt but one cleanser.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; [list of offensive behavior] Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9-11)

The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 Jn 1:6-7)
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
For every restriction, there is a way to gain access. Jesus is ours.
a.      For every fence there is a gate.
b.      For every fortress there is a door.
c.       For every passage there is a price.
For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, (Eph 2:18-19)

God’s house is a Holy House and God’s people are a Holy People.

This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which the Father carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. (Eph 3:11-12)

So this cleansing act of God makes me a Holy Child of God? Yes. Well, sometimes I don’t feel like a child of God and I still have trouble seeing Him. Check your feet.

Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter." Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." (Jn 13:5-10)

Walking through life, I’m going to get my feet dirty. Doesn’t change who I am, only points out my need.

If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear; (Ps 66:18)

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge. (Ps 51:1-4) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Ps 51:10)

When my feet get dirty, I have not become unholy, but have become impure. Impurity restricts me from seeing God. So God washes our feet.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn 1:9)

Sin, the stubbornness of my life to disregard God’s best, restricts me from seeing Him. How unblessed are those with impure hearts for they will not see God. How do you turn a restriction into a positive promise?

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
Cataracts are a distortion to the lens in your eye. They can cloud your vision or react to the light in ways that can make it impossible for you to see clearly. With cataracts your ability to see is diminished. The fix? Remove the distorted original lens and replace it with a new, clear lens.

When I have let the impurities of life distort my view of God, I need God to correct that distortion. His cleansing allows me to see Him clearly again. Whenever I can’t see God, I need to find out what’s blocking my vision. Could be I’m not one of His. Could be I am but got my feet dirty. Ask God to make you clean, then you will see Him.

  1. Restrictions keep us out, but for every restriction there is a way to gain access.
  2. It isn’t God’s intention to keep us out, but to show us how we might get in.
  3.  The privilege of seeing God through the requirement of a clean heart is only possible when we yield ourselves to God’s cleansing through Jesus’ sacrifice.
  4.  Initially, that cleansing declares us God’s holy people, granting us access to Him.
  5.  Subsequent washings maintain our fellowship with Him.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

A lady had just had her portrait painted. At the unveiling, she said to the artist, I don’t believe this portrait does me justice. He said, “Lady, you don’t need justice, you need mercy.”

If I were to ask you which you preferred: justice or mercy, always take mercy.

Justice is giving us what we deserve.
Mercy is not giving us what we deserve.
Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve.

All three are involved in the saving activity of God: Justice, Mercy and Grace.
·         Justice declares us guilty, exposing our need.
·         Mercy extends His favor, holding back His justice.
·         Grace makes us aware of the response that opens us to the relationship we need to become Children of God.

If God acted only from justice – giving us what we deserve – we would never be saved. So He must extend mercy. In that moment His mercy holds His justice back. While justice is held back, we become aware of His presence. We can sense His favor, know His love, realize what Jesus did for us. We recognize our need and understand we can call out to Him. When we do, His grace gives us what we cannot give ourselves—forgiveness, acceptance and righteous standing before Him. And the whole process began with mercy.

Peter: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Pet 1:3)

Paul: He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5)

Then: By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (Eph 2:8)

How do you repay such a gift? First of all, you can’t. If you have to pay someone for something they gave you, what they gave wasn’t a gift. To try to do so will insult their generosity. Second, though you can’t repay it, you can show your gratitude by paying mercy forward.

Pay it forward is an expression describing having received something of value from someone else and repaying them by giving something of like value to another person. Responding to a person's kindness by being kind to someone else. To show appreciation for their generosity by being generous.
So how do you pay Mercy forward? How do you not give others what they deserve? That’s the Golden Rule: treat others as you want them to treat you. No, it is to treat them as we have been treated by God.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36) Not, since He was merciful you be merciful, too, in some unmeasurable ought or should, but as – with the same intensity, effort and intention.

Old word for mercy is forbearance. Refraining from doing something or acting in a way reflective of, or in response to, what someone else has done. It requires patient endurance and self-control. It is abstaining from the enforcement of a right. Often associated with some obligation we believe they owe.

They have done something you consider wrong, an offense, and instead of coming back against them, though that seems right, you don’t.

It’s what God did for us: in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; (Rom 3:25)

Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Rom 2:4)

God’s forbearance defines that time between His mercy holding back His justice while He waited for the moment we would accept His grace.

It was the period of time the Prodigal son’s father sat on the porch waiting for His son to come home.

It was the silent time while Jesus wrote on the ground, waiting for the accusers of the woman caught in adultery to drop their stones and leave her alone.

Within our forbearance, we are withholding justice, waiting for God to do a special work within the heart of the person to whom we are extending mercy. It could be buying us time to forgive them.

Why did Jesus ask the Father to forgive the men who crucified Him? How would forgiving them of this one act make any difference to a whole life of paganism? He said Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing. What was He asking for? Mercy, forbearance. Hold back the justice due them. What happened?

The centurion, within that moment when the Father pulled back Justice, had his eyes opened to understand who Jesus was. He announced, professed, truly this is the Son of God. Which makes this the first salvation in response to Jesus’ death on the cross.

Old definition of Mercy was the power to act according to discretion, for the public good, without the prescription of the Law, and sometimes even against it.

It is the freedom to decide what is best in a particular situation. And in that moment on the cross, instead of the right of retribution, Jesus asked for mercy. Forgiveness was what the centurion needed, not justice.

We don’t give mercy because we’re soft, tenderhearted and want no one to suffer, but because mercy is the best way to approach their offense.

The normal equation: Their action = this reaction.
Mercy doesn’t change their actions, it changes our reaction to them. Why? Because He did that for us. For while we were sinners, Jesus died for us.

Matt 18:23-35

Get mercy – Show mercy. Want mercy – Give mercy.

He expects us to dispense mercy. Not sympathy or empathy or even feeling sorry for someone. We give mercy because that’s what’s best.

It’s hard for those with a justice mentality to extend mercy. When they do show mercy it’s with a somber reluctance: "I wish I could pound you into the ground but, I’m supposed to show you mercy."

Like Job’s friends: When Job was going through all of his trials and his friends came to comfort him, rather than showing mercy to help lift him up from his misery, they show him where he went wrong. That’s justice mentality. He called them sorry comforters. 

Like Jonah: When Jonah had preached damnation to Nineveh and they repented, God gave them mercy instead of the promised judgment. Jonah had a meltdown.

They deserved justice! They don’t deserve mercy just because they repented.” God simply said, “I know.”

In A Knights Tale: The Jouster, William, didn’t run through a wounded competitor. Man asks, “Why didn’t he finish him off?”  Lady says, “He shows mercy.” Man, “Then he shows his weakness.”

Mercy requires more strength than justice. Mercy is the power to exercise controlled discretion to do what is best. Mercy has the power to hold justice back.

When we give mercy we are helping lift someone up, pointing them back to God, not pressing them down. If you every fall, you do not want someone to remind you why you fell, you want someone with mercy to come help pick you up.

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness [meekness]; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:1-2)

Instead of the impulse of judgment:
I choose not to be angry with you.
I choose not to turn away from you.
I choose not to ignore you.
I choose not to reject you.
I choose not to point out your ignorance, your sin, your wrong to condemn you.
I don’t want to kick you out but to restore you.
I don’t want to hold you down but lift you up.
I don’t want to remind you of your past but show you your future.

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lam 3:21-23) I know that is true because I have experienced that mercy. Therefore: I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; to all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. (Ps 89:1)

Making known the faithfulness of God is showing mercy to others and encouraging them to trust Him, be restored by Him and follow Him. It is dispensing mercy.

Oh the blessedness of the merciful – [but Jesus goes on to add] for they shall receive mercy.

Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. [How?] Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it [mercy] will be measured to you in return. (Luke 6:35-38)

God returns to us the mercy we give away. Withholding mercy limits God’s mercy toward us. Give none, get none. Give much, get much in return.

For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

Thomas A. Edison had a team of 24 men working 24 straight hours to put together one lightbulb. When they were finished, Edison gave it to a young boy helper who nervously carried it up the stairs. With each step his nervousness increased, obviously afraid he might drop such a priceless piece of work. And, of course, at the top of the stairs, he dropped the lightbulb, shattering it. It took the same team of men another 24 hours to make another bulb. Justice demanded Edison not give it to the same young boy to carry it upstairs. Edison chose mercy. Why? You don’t give up on someone just because they failed. This is coming from a man who failed 1000 times discovering how to make a lightbulb in the first place. Want mercy? Give mercy.
Oh the blessedness of we who have experienced God’s mercy because we can show others the same mercy God has shown us. In doing so, God will keep us full, renewing His mercy within us to cover our mistakes as well.
1.       Knowing we deserved justice, God extended us mercy in order to ultimately show us His love and draw us into salvation.
2.      Having accepted that salvation, mercy continually keeps us free from condemnation.
3.      In response to Him being merciful to us, we are to be merciful to others, so they may be able to see the goodness of God and respond to His goodness for them.

4.      By paying it forward, we bless God and them while God blesses us.

Monday, June 12, 2017

BEATITUDES - Righteousness

Remember as a kid how hard it was to color inside the lines?  As we got older we got better but every now and then, we’d have that one errant mark that got away from us. And no matter how good the rest of it was, our obvious mistake was there for the whole world to see.

The lines were boundaries identifying an image. You knew what the picture was because the lines outlined its shape. But what if being right or wrong with God was like coloring images on a page and how well we colored those images determined our standing with Him?

In Jesus’ day, coloring within the lines was all the Pharisees knew to do. Since those lines defined their standard for what made a person right with God, staying within the lines was essential. The horror of life would be to cross a line and then have to face your fellow Pharisees.

See, it really wasn’t God they were ultimately trying to please but each other. The worst thing you could do was mess up in front of another Pharisee, and have your picture hung up for all to see.

But not only were they concerned about their own lives and the lives of other Pharisees, they became the Righteousness Police to make sure everyone else kept the 490 laws deemed necessary for righteousness.

Since what they were doing wasn’t God’s idea, you can understand why Jesus and Pharisees didn’t get along. One day the disciples grabbed a handful of grain, rubbed the seeds out and ate them. A Pharisee pointed out, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath." Another time they were eating dinner and a Pharisee pointed out, Your disciples didn’t wash their hands properly—according to the Law. Then, again related to food, they challenged Jesus because His disciples didn’t fast like everyone else.

His response to the Pharisees: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. (Matt 23:27)

Hypocrites – word comes from actors in a play, using a mask to pretend to be someone they weren’t. That idea filtered into life to describe anyone trying to be something they weren’t.

To give an example of their hypocrisy, Jesus told His disciples, Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (Matt 6:1-2)

They thought they were doing good. They thought they were examples of righteous living because they colored so well. But all they were doing was living for the applause of men. The problem with hypocrisy is, it gets you what it’s designed to get you—the praise of those you fooled.
Like magicians, the Pharisees were showmen, amazing the people by pulling off spectacular feats of holy living, yet behind the curtain was a little man just pushing buttons, pulling levers and blowing smoke.

Jesus said: "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees…" (Matt 16:6) Leaven is an influencer. The most dangerous influencers are those who influence in the wrong direction or toward the wrong things. It is particularly dangerous when they don’t even know what the right way is.

I had a friend who worked as a service tech for office equipment. He admitted he didn’t really know what he was doing. So, he’d go into a business, find a machine he didn’t even know how to turn on, and say: Why don’t you turn this on the regular way you always do and let me see if you’re doing it right. He faked them out to keep from proving he didn’t know what he was doing.

The Pharisees were trying to enforce righteousness without knowing what righteousness was or how it worked. They thought it was an obligation God owed them for their efforts. They thought it was credit they got for doing religious stuff. The target they were shooting at had nothing to do with the real target.

Boy had hit the bullseye of a dozen targets he had drawn on a fence. When asked how he had gotten so good, he said, “I kept missing the real target so I just shot the arrows at the fence then went over and drew the circles around where the arrows hit.”

Fortunately, God later clarified the target through Paul: God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…He made Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:19, 21) He calls it: the gift of righteousness…through Jesus.

Righteousness is a gift made available through Jesus dying to pay the penalty for our sin. That sin had separated us from God. When we believe in Him, accepting what He did as the salvation of our lives, God gives us the title, righteous. We are declared instantly right with Him.

Paul explained further: if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Rom 10:9-10)

It is acknowledging Jesus as who He is. Peter declared: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matt 16:16) Later he added: "Lord, You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." (Jn 6:68-69)

As Abraham was declared righteous when He believed God, His disciples were as well. So from the standpoint of having already been declared right with God, Jesus told His disciples: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be satisfied.
He wasn’t talking about becoming righteous, but pursuing the righteousness they already had. He’s not talking to people on the outside looking in, but those already inside. Jesus wanted being right and living right with God to become consuming desires affecting everything about their lives – like hunger and thirst.

There are two interesting words used to describe the extent of our hunger and thirst.
·         Hunger for something to eat – a piece of bread.
·         Thirst for something to drink – a glass of water.

Word Jesus used is hunger for the whole loaf of bread.
Thirst for the whole pitcher of water

He said: I’m not just promising you’ll get the edginess of hunger knocked off. I’m going to fill you up.

His desire is for the whole effect of righteous engulfing me. “When God is the supreme hunger of our hearts, He will be supreme in everything.” 

Jesus fed two separate multitudes of people—5000 and 4000. The Bible says in both accounts: they all ate and were satisfied.

There are three levels of satisfaction:
·         Dissatisfied – I do not like or approve of what I have.
·         Unsatisfied – I haven’t gotten enough yet.
·         Satisfied – I’m filled to the highest level of being full.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst as a consuming life choice with regard to righteousness for they will be neither dissatisfied nor unsatisfied, but satisfied.

What creates hunger and thirst for righteousness? What makes us want Blue Bell?

Remember David’s little deer: As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. (Ps 42:1)

Why does the little deer pant for the water brooks? He knows what’s there. He’s been there before and can’t wait to get back.

Chuck Swindoll had a family come to church on Sunday who had experienced a tragic loss the day before. After what they went through, no one would have expected to see them there. He asked them about it and they said: We needed a word from the Lord. He has spoken to us here before, so we came back to see what He might say today.

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. (Ps 63:1-8)

God, I hunger and thirst for You because I know You are good. I know what it’s like to live in the overflow of Your blessings. I know the joy of being surrounded by Your favor. I know the comfort of Your presence, the lightness of Your load, the release from my burdens, the hope in my darkness, the love that forever holds me secure.

To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to long for God Himself. To delight in fellowship with Him. To worship Him for His goodness. To desire His Word as nourishment for our hearts. To want for ourselves what He wants for us.

Job said: I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. (Job 23:12) More than I hunger for food do I hunger for my God.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary and gathered from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.  They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region; they did not find a way to an inhabited city.  They were hungry and thirsty; their soul fainted within them. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He delivered them out of their distresses. He led them also by a straight way, to go to an inhabited city. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. (Ps 107:1-9)

We are blessed because giving ourselves to the desire for the righteousness we already have produces a satisfied life.

HG Wells: A person may be a bad musician but yet passionately in love with music.
Or: we may not be very good at coloring within the lines but desperately love to color.

Ask yourself: Am I okay just to touch the hem of His garment to gain the benefits of His blessings or do I want to embrace Him and satisfy my whole life? Cry out to God and you will not be disappointed.

Oh the blessedness of the righteous ones who give themselves to the consuming desire to find the nourishment for their lives in their relationship with Jesus. For the promise to them is: Your hunger and thirst will be satisfied.

1.       In a world where everything is a temporary fix, the promise of complete satisfaction seems unrealistic.
2.      Even things that come with a guarantee have conditions attached.
3.      But God is faithful and all His promises are true.
4.      He promises that those who hunger and thirst after Him will be satisfied.
5.      It would seem, then, that if the results we want are found in Him, He must become the target of our desire for life.

Monday, June 5, 2017


We understand the principle of a pendulum, swinging from one side to another. It’s often used to represent two extremes. The middle is the medium or mean between the two extremes. When used in politics there are the ultra-conservative and the ultra-liberal sides. Generally to work together, most decisions are made somewhere in the middle.

Weather can take extremes. It can be extremely cold up north or extremely hot in the desert. The medium is Hawaii.

The economy is affected by pendulum swings. OPEC can raise the cost of crude and prices at the pump skyrocket, strangling the economy. Or they can cheapen the price until layoffs begin, which also strangles the economy. What’s best is somewhere in the middle.

Aristotle said that virtue was the mean between two extremes. Extremes on each side and in the middle, was the virtue itself, the happy medium.

For example, he took the concept of excessive aggression as one extreme and being excessively passive as the other, in the mean between the two he placed the word meek. Both sides having given in to the moment, one to unguarded brutality, the other beaten down into abject submission. Neither are useful since both are being controlled by inappropriate inner forces.

If you want a guard dog: A vicious dog is too unpredictable to be of use. A cowering dog is too scared to be protective. A guard dog must maintain his ability to be vicious yet at the same time be controllable.

If you want a good horse: A wild horse, though strong and powerful, is unmanageable. A horse whose spirit has been abused and broken is too defeated to want to perform. A good horse must maintain his strength and power yet at the same time be controllable.

Our concept of meekness doesn’t fit these pictures but the definition does: strength under control.

There are times we need to demonstrate strength. There are times we need to demonstrate weakness, or times to be assertive and times to be non-assertive. So on the pendulum, if the opposite extreme of strength is weak, meekness again would be the medium. It is the ability to be strong or weak according to which is the proper response.

Jesus said: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt 11:29-30)

Gentle and humble are words used interchangeably in the Scriptures for the old word meek. No one wants to use meek anymore. It has taken an effeminate turn to define a soft, passive, non-effective pushover.
But when Jesus used the word you don’t sense powerlessness. You hear Him saying, “I will bear the burden of your life.” That’s the extreme assertiveness of someone taking charge and taking action. “I’ll carry the heavy end of all that concerns you.”

The Bible says of Moses: He was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth. (Num 12:3)

Show me a weak bone in Moses’ body. Show me how he was a soft, passive, non-effective man. He took control of a nation and led them for 40 years. He faithfully gave them God’s direction and instruction though they were obstinate and rebellious. That takes amazing strength under control.

Here, Jesus is talking to His disciples. Two of them wanted to call fire down from Heaven. One will take a sword and ty to take off a man’s head. As a group they agree to fight, even die, to keep Jesus off the cross.

They had great potential but needed balance to be of any use. Jesus had tremendous plans for them. Some would stand before kings, testify before tribunals. Some would place their necks on chopping blocks and not deny Him. Others would face severe persecution and death. Some would even get married.

So when Jesus told them the third Beatitude: Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, He wasn’t demanding they become soft, passive and non-effective pushovers. He used the word that meant: be strong, courageous and bold, but controllable.

St. Gregory of Nyssa, back in the 300’s, taught that meekness meant exhibiting a docility of spirit, even in the face of adversity and hardship. He was trying to create an emotional disconnect from life. No, Jesus wanted us connected to the moment and to ourselves but not be dominated by our impulses and selfishness.

Jesus was saying: Oh the blessedness of the man who has every instinct, every impulse, every passion under control. If that’s what He was saying, was He asking too much?

Make a list of the people in the world who have everything in their lives under control and that’s going to be a very short list. In fact, to say that to a crowd like Jesus did, you’re going to overshoot, oh everybody.

Reason: controlling ourselves is the greatest battle we face in dealing with demanding forces raging within our lives. Complete self-control is beyond our ability.

That’s why Paul listed self-control as a fruit of the Spirit. It’s such a hard expectation, we need the Power of God to bring it about in our lives.

Wait: my wife can follow a diet like nobodies’ business. She’s got tremendous self-control. Great: how’s her attitude? How’s her pride? How’s her fear? Her anger? How’s her patience? How’s her faith operating?

Why is self-control so hard?  
            Power of the flesh – we want what we want.
            Encouragement of temptations – we need what we want.
            Selfishness – we get what we want.

He who has no rule over his spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls.” (Prov 25:28)

It’s like the prisoners being in control of the prison.
The kids being in control of the school.
The addict in control of the pharmacy.

But meekness is more than telling ourselves NO. It is realizing:
·         The vanity of a self-fulfilled life.
·         The emptiness of a self-indulgent life.
·         The recklessness of a self-important life.
·         The danger of a self-directed life.
·         The pain of a self-inflicted life.

That’s why an additional meaning for the word meek is honesty.

Paul said we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think but soberly—not undrunk but clearly, realistically. I am not better just because I think I am nor am I worse.

Meekness lets us be honest about our lives. It says, “I don’t know everything I need to know, I can’t do everything I need to do and I can’t meet every need I am going to have. I can’t control everything that needs controlling.” I NEED HELP!

So Jesus said: Oh the blessedness of the man who has the honesty to admit his own ignorance, his own weakness, and his own need.

Meekness points me away from myself to God. It is an honest evaluation of who I am and an accurate understanding of the greatness of who He is. I see my limits and I see His power. I submit my limits to Him and trust Him to make me able.

He doesn’t beat me into submission. He simply shows me who I am when I’m in charge. He shows me the emptiness of my results and shows me what I can be, yielded to Him.

Which is the second part of the Beatitude: Oh the blessedness of the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

David had already told us this: Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land. (Ps 37:3-9)
Inheriting the land or the earth is our inheritance until we die. It’s just on the other side of surrender. Meekness is a surrendered life. A surrendered life is one that has placed the demands and expectations of life upon the One who created that life. Jesus calls it the inheritance of the earth: which is, the promised riches of God’s provisions for living faithfully while on earth.

Until we die, the objective is to live on earth with the same degree of surrender there is in Heaven. Thy will be done on earth as it is being done in Heaven.

Jesus’ kingdom wasn’t of the earth so his goal wasn’t to make earth better. It was to transfer the glory of Heaven into His people so, as they lived out their lives on earth, the goodness of God could be seen in them.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matt 5:16)

Paul said: I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal 2:20)

The life I live, I live through the faith of the Son of God. He’s the example. He defined the terms. He’s the one who showed us what meekness looked like: by being bold, courageous, tender, loving, stern, forgiving, passionate, violent to throw the money-changers out of the temple, yet, silent before his accusers and compliant to those who nailed Him to the cross.

He said: I came to do the will of the One who sent Me. Jesus’s life message was to live in submission to the Father, to do whatever it took to do the Father’s will. That takes strength under control to be strong when appropriate or weak when that is a better response. Power to submit – determination to yield.

The blessedness of the meek is a surrendered life, trusting in the adequacy of God to manifest in our lives the evidence of His purpose and power, enjoying the riches of what He provides for us while on earth.

O the blessedness of those who have submitted every instinct, and impulse, and passion to God’s control, who have the honesty to admit their own ignorance and their own weakness, declaring themselves in need of God’s help, for such people are blessed for Heaven operates within them now!

An old story from India tells about a mouse who is so terrified of cats he asks a magician to transform him into a cat. That helped him with his fear until he met a dog. He was so afraid of the dog, he asks the magician to turn him into a dog. He is content until he meets a tiger. Once again, he has the magician turned him into what he fears. But when the tiger comes to complain that he met a hunter, the magician refuses to help. The magician said, "I will return you to what you originally were, for though you have the body of a tiger, you still have the heart of a mouse."

He thought the outside determined the inside. It’s just the other way around. Regardless of how he appeared, he remained what he was. That’s why the change Jesus expects of us can only happen from the inside out.

God willed to make known to you what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col 1:27)

Only God can produce the life we want. Those who have discovered this are called the meek. They are the ones who demonstrate strength under control and honesty in their dependency on Him. In light of the pendulum, they live the balanced life.

1.       God didn’t save us so we could continue life on our terms.
2.      Neither was His goal to simply make our lives better.
3.      He is the benefit for living effectively on earth, which is why the reward is called blessing.
4.      As His children, we are blessed to be among those living according to His design.

5.      Being blessed isn’t the result of our efforts, but the evidence of His goodness working on our behalf and us living in agreement with His plan.