May, 2007

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Mercy. Matt. 5:7

Monday, May 28th, 2007

The first four of the Beatitudes are personal. Here we moved to a greater level of complexity. Mercy involves others. Repeatedly, God told the prophets to teach the Children of Israel to be merciful. Mercy is a basic characteristic of God. The history of his relationships with the Hebrews in the Old Testament demonstrates his mercy. And a knowledge of the failures of the Christian movement across nearly 2,000 years continues to underscore this trait in God.

Since February/March of 2007 I have seen mercy demonstrated in a moving, powerful way. The pastors and leaders of several of the nine rural Alabama churches that were victims of arson then have called for mercy for the young men who set the fires. This display of mercy has struck a chord in the hearts of people across our nation.

More than enough resources have poured in to make it possible for these churches to rebuild. And they have done so with a eye toward the future and expanded ministries.

But there is much more here. Jesus is speaking of God’s merciful response to those who deal with their neighbors mercifully. It seems to me that the remarks by Jesus concerning the criteria of Judgment, Matt. 25, reflect what is stated in this Beatitude.

Some might see mercy as a sign of weakness. A better assessment is it is a demonstration of faith in the sovereign power of God.

Hunger. Matt. 5:6

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

Righteousness is defined as being right with, or aligned with God. Those, Jesus promises, who seriously want to be right with God will get their wish. Here again the presence of the Holy Spirit in one’s life makes this rightness possible.

Personally, I have found that as I have grown older the desire to be righteous has grown within me. Coupled with this is a growing realization of my unrighteousness. In reflecting upon my life, I am convicted of my failings in the past, and more honest about my current failings.

I struggle some with understanding the promise of fullness. I am certainly not full in the sense of having achieved righteousness. But there is a sense of having filled in some of vacant places of my life with righteousness.