Beatitudes: The Happiness That Nobody Wants – Those Who Mourn – Part 2

“Matt. 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Yes, blessed are those who mourn. But they should not and will not mourn only for their sins. They will mourn for other things. Today we will see the next things that we should mourn.

2 – WE MOURN FOR THE CHURCH

This is the second reason to mourn, the church. We should mourn for the church. The church is the family of God. Like our own family, when someone is doing things that he or she was not supposed to do, often the parents mourn for them. It is not hard to see parents weeping and crying for their children who abandoned their way.

In the same way we should cry for the church, when the church is not going in the direction that God has for her.

A – Paul and the Ephesians – The future agony of the Church – In Acts 20: 31 we find Paul in his farewell to the elders of the church, and he mentions that his ministry was done with tears. “Acts 20:31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” Here Paul is telling the elders how hard it was to minister in that place. He and his companions had to face struggles inside and out. Tears were shed for their church during that time.

B – Paul and the Corinthians – The present sin in the Church – The church of Corinth gave Paul a hard time. They had so many problems and sometimes they even considered the idea that he was not an apostle, even knowing that he was the one who started the church. “2Cor. 2:4 For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.” The Corinth church was a church that caused excruciating pain in Paul’s heart, making him cry.

C – Paul and the Philippians – Members who were enemies of the Cross of Christ – The other experience that we find about the mourning for the church is the situation when we have people inside the church who are enemies of the cross of Christ. This is what Paul found in the Philippi church. “Phil. 3:18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” He found people that did not recognize nor accepted the sacrifice of Christ for them. They thought that they could save themselves without Christ’s sacrifice.

Those examples of mourning in church situations should make us cry and mourn. As you can see there are many reasons for leaders to cry for the church, but it is not only the leaders who should cry, the members too. Everyone should be able to feel the pain that pastors and elders feel when members of the church take the wrong path and do things that a Christian, a follower of Christ should not do.

You probably, know someone who was active in the church, used to be an example for others, and now he or she is not involved anymore, and some do not even believe in the same things any longer.

Yes, these should make all of us mourn.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beatitudes: The Happiness That Nobody Wants – Those Who Mourn – Part 1

The history of humankind is marked with tears. We start our life crying. During our younger years we go through changes and many times mourning is the response that we have. When we become adults, we start understanding the world and its deepest problems and we cannot do anything else but cry.

And finally, when we grow old and the end of the life is upon us, we sometimes are full of regret and fear of death, among other feelings that make us cry.

We, as human beings, have many reasons to cry, such as:

Sorrow,

Tragedy,

Disappointment,

Failure,

Problems,

Frustration,

Hardships,

Pain,

And the list could go on and on.

In the last posts we saw the first Beatitude, for the “Poor in Spirit”.

They are blessed because they recognize that they are impotent and cannot do or be what God asks them. They depend totally on the grace and mercy of God to be and do what God and His Word require from them.

It is important for us to understand that the Beatitudes are connected with one another. They are steps toward the same goal, THE HAPPINESS THAT COMES FROM GOD.

In this post we will see the next one:

Matt. 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

Two words are central in this verse: the word “mourn” and the word “comfort”. The word mourn means: “to mourn, to grieve, to be sorrowful.” The word used here is the strongest one among the others that mean mourn. It is the mourning for the loss of the most precious thing in somebody’s life.

But here Jesus is talking about the crying and mourning for something different; the reason for this mourning is the consequence of the first step after entering in the Kingdom of God, the state of being “Poor in Spirit”.

Like the other Beatitudes, this one also does not make sense at first sight. How can I be blessed and happy by being sad and mourning?

Let us see some reasons for the children of God to mourn and receive comfort for that.

1 – WE MOURN FOR OUR SINS

The first reason is to mourn for our own sins and shortcomings. After recognizing that we are poor in spirit, the next step is to look inside our own soul and life, and realize how far we are from God’s Standards.

The first attitude that we have to have is to be sorry for our sins. And repentance is the next step. We have to recognition our faults and errors. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about this to tell them that Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation. Let us see some examples in the Scriptures.

A – The Sinful Woman – When a woman came to Jesus and washed his feet with her tears, she was condemned by the people in the house, but Jesus made sure to tell her that those who are forgiven much, love much. Luke 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” 

When we recognize our sins, and realize how much we offended God, we will not have another attitude, but mourning.

B – The Sinful King – David – David had the same attitude when he wrote the Psalm 32, there he said: 

“Psa. 32:1-5 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven; whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD” — and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” 

David even mentioned the pain that his sins caused him.

It is important for us to understand that it is this kind of mourning that Jesus is mentioning.

When we are able to see our sinfulness, how much we sadden God with our attitudes, words, thoughts and feelings, then those things should make us cry.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beatitudes: The Happiness That Nobody Wants – Poor in Spirit – Part 2

Being poor in spirit is more than lacking food, shelter, money, etc. Jesus is talking about a different kind of poorness. It is a poorness that comes from inside, in our spirit. Here are a few more things that being poor in the sprit mean.

  • – THE POOR IN SPIRIT IS SOMEONE WHO DEPENDS TOTALLY ON THE GRACE AND MERCY OF GOD
  • God, and God only is the One who can save – The poor in spirit is the one who depends totally in God’s work to be saved. This is very important for us to understand that Christianity is an exclusivist faith. Our Reformed faith proclaims Christ Alone.
  • The poor in spirit only receives the free offering from God – That is the best challenge for people from our generation who think they can do something to own the salvation. The poor in spirit knows that they cannot. They just should stretch their empty hands in faith and receive from God the gift of salvation.
  • The poor in spirit recognizes and accepts that it is by grace alone and by faith alone – We depend on the grace and mercy of God. God is the one who decides and operates the salvation in those He wants. This is a humbling situation for us. We have to accept that we do not have anything to do, or anything that we do is not good enough to acquire salvation for ourselves.

3 – THE POOR IN SPIRIT IS SOMEONE WHO WILL RECEIVE THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

  1. The gate to the Kingdom is not only narrow, but also low – that means that few will enter, but to enter they have to bend, to lower their heads, to humble themselves. It is God’s Kingdom, and He decided to make it available through the work of His Son Jesus Christ. And those who would be willing to bow their heads and humiliate themselves will be able to receive and enter in this Kingdom.
  2. The poor in spirit are the ones who will humbling accept that they are not the king and queen in this new Kingdom – They are servants of Christ. Jesus is the King and the final authority in His Kingdom. The question for Christians today is, who has the final word about your life, your family, job, and the other areas of your life? Is Jesus the King of your life or you still in control?
  3. The poor in spirit will humble themselves before their brothers and sisters – This is very important for us to understand and to practice. The Bible tells us that we should consider our brothers and sisters superior to us, and consider us inferior to them. The poor in spirit has a humble heart toward God and his/her brothers and sisters. No matter if they have money or not, if they hold an important social position or not. The Bible is clear that we should consider them superior to us.

Jesus in this beatitude tells us that people, who are poor in spirit, will find a happiness that comes straight from God Himself. They will have a spiritual happiness that nobody can take away from them. They will have a spiritual happiness that is based in the will of God and we will be assured that God is pleased with us.

Poor in spirit, the true humbleness is the first one because without that attitude we cannot move forward in our spiritual life. We can only be received in the Kingdom of God when we humble ourselves and accept the free gift from God in Christ.

The challenge for us during this study in the Beatitudes is to find the Happiness that comes from God. This happiness is totally different from the happiness that we experience in the world. It is not a psychological or emotional happiness; it is a Spiritual Happiness that only God can give to you.

My prayer is that you will during this series find out that happiness.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beatitudes: The Happiness That Nobody Wants – Poor in Spirit – Part 1

“YES, I CAN! YES, YOU CAN! YES, WE CAN! 

Can we do it by ourselves?

Can we be good members of the church?

Can we live the Christian life by ourselves?

Can we help ourselves?

Can we receive the favor of God by our good deeds?

Can we save ourselves?

Yes, I can! Yes, you can! Yes, we can!”

We live in a time when the human capabilities are pushed to the extreme. People are taught that their possibilities are unlimited. Our generation is receiving the information that we can do everything and anything, even our own salvation.

We have people today trying to save themselves. They believe that if they work hard, pray hard, attend the services regularly, and perform good deeds, they will be saved, and God will look at them with favor.

As we saw in our last message of our Lord and Savior in this Sermon is totally countercultural, it proposes something totally different of what we have in our society.

The first Beatitude is this one, 

Matt. 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

There are four terms that are important in this text: Blessed, Poor, and Spirit, kingdom of heaven.

  1. Blessed – The word means “blessed (receiving God’s favor), fortunate, good (in a position of favor), happy (feelings associated with receiving God’s favor).” That is the word used for beatitudes. Blessed is the word that expresses the favor from God to those who He loves. This blessing is internal and spiritual.
  2. Poor – There are two words in the New Testament for poor. This one means: “poor; (n.) poor, beggar, a person of few resources, culturally considered oppressed, despised, and miserable, totally bankrupt.” It expresses the human situation of being impotent, deprived of anything or power.
  3. Spirit – The word for spirit is a reference to the human spirit, the one that was regenerated and transformed by the Spirit of God.
  4. Kingdom of Heaven – The Kingdom of God is the place where God lives, rules and has control. It is where the abundant life and richness of God are.

Those words help us to understand the deep meaning of this Beatitude.

1 – THE POOR IN SPIRIT IS SOMEONE WHO RECOGNIZES HIS/HER LIMITATIONS

  1. It Does Not Depend on his or her Financial Situation – The poor in spirit, the term already tells us, is in the Spirit. It is the recognition from that person that he or she cannot do anything to save him or herself. It is not something that comes from outside or from a financial abundance. It is the deep spiritual recognition that they are limited and cannot do anything good to please God. Of course, the person who is really poor has some advantages, because it is easier for them to recognize and accept their limitations. They can see them. People that have a better life, are blinded by those things and have more difficulties to accept their limitations.
  2. It is the recognition of our total depravation – The poor in spirit recognizes that he or she cannot do anything to save him or herself. They are totally depraved spiritually. Paul in Ephesians calls them “dead in transgressions”, which means, there is nothing that we could do in our end to attract the grace and salvation of God.
  3. Every attempt from our part failed – this is the conclusion that the poor in spirit arrived. Their attempts to please God and save themselves failed, and they found themselves lost and in a uncomfortable position of being enemy of God.

As you can see, the poor in spirit is someone that looks inside themselves and realize that they are not strong enough or good enough to please God with their own abilities.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beatitudes: The Happiness That Nobody Wants – Part 2

We cannot study the Beatitudes without analyzing the Sermon of the Mountain. Even if it is superficially, we need to understand the context for those teachings.

In our last meditation we started learning about the teacher of the sermon. Today we will learn about the audience and the teaching.

The Audience

There are two audiences in this sermon:

The multitude – Those who would like to know more about the teachings of this new rabbi. They can accept and obey or not. They are there just to hear without the responsibility to obey. 

The disciples – Those who were called to be part of this New Kingdom

and needed to learn its rules. The disciples on the other hand were called personally by Jesus. They were there to learn and be challenged to practice those teachings.

The Teaching – Counterculture

This sermon and teachings are totally countercultural. Jesus in this sermon is bringing something totally different for that culture, and not only for that but for ours too.

This sermon is countercultural because it goes against everything that our culture teaches us. This means not only our culture, but also our churches. Jesus is proposing a change in our lifestyle so dramatic that some people have a hard time to believe that it is possible to obey it.

The people in His Kingdom is characterized as being:

Humble, 

Compassionate

Meek

Yearning for righteousness

Merciful

Pure in heart

Peacemakers

Persecuted

In the eyes of the world these are marks of losers – The world says:

Assert yourself

Stand up for yourself

Be proud of yourself

Elevate yourself

Defend yourself

Avenge yourself

Serve yourself

These are the traits of the world’s people and the world’s kingdoms. We learn day in and day out that those traits are normal and should be sought by our kids and ourselves.

We learned, and grew up learning, and teach our children that we are the center of the universe, we are the most important person in the whole world, and everything and everybody is out there to serve us.

Jesus in this sermon is telling us that this is not right. In His kingdom this should not happen.

One of the main objectives of this sermon is to bring everyone to these conclusions:

I cannot be that! – That is the first conclusion that we come to when we read this Sermon. We realize that we cannot be that kind of person by ourselves. It is just impossible.

I cannot do that! – That is the second conclusion. We cannot do those things. They are way beyond our abilities and capacities. We just cannot do it.

I need help! – And finally, we realize that we cannot be or do without the help of God. This kind of life that Jesus is proposing can only be lived with the power and help from God.

Inside changes bring outside changes – The changes that Jesus proposed should take place inside of us before they come outside. Today we want to have external transformation without having the internal one first. This sermon tells us that there is no external transformation without the transformation that is operated inside of our hearts by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beatitudes: The Happiness That Nobody Wants – Part 1

Every one of us has our own way and idea of being a Christian. That is the biggest challenge for Christianity today. We decide by ourselves what is right and wrong and how a Christian should believe and behave.

People would be shocked if they read the New Testament and found out what Jesus said. Probably, most of the members of a Christian church would disagree with Him. And this is what the many churches are doing all over the world, they are redefining Jesus, and making Him say what they want to hear.

Before we dive into the Beatitudes, we need to learn a few things about the Sermon of the Mountain. The Sermon of the Mountain is one of the most important, if not the most important teachings of Jesus. In this sermon we learn essential lessons from Jesus Himself about His Kingdom. Because of that it is important for us to understand this sermon.

One of the important aspects of the Kingdom that Jesus made clear is that the Kingdom is spiritual and not physical and political. The Messiah that the people were expecting was a physical and strong leader who would conquer and defeat the Roman empire and establish the old kingdom of Israel in the world. They were waiting for this kind of King. Jesus came with a totally different message, a message that the Kingdom of God was not something physical nor political, but spiritual.

The other aspect about the Kingdom is that the Kingdom is internal and not external. Jesus makes clear in this sermon that the teachings will affect the person internally, before affecting them externally. The Kingdom of God begins in our heart, and spreads outward in our life.

The first thing that we need to learn in this sermon is about its teacher. Jesus is the teacher, and this is how He presents Himself in this sermon.

Jesus the King – In this sermon the King announces the principles of His Kingdom. Jesus is the Messiah and the King, and in this sermon, He is establishing the rules and modus operandi of His Kingdom. Probably, it was because of that that He went to the top of the mountain, so He would not only communicate better His message to the people, but also make clear that He is the most elevated and important person in the Kingdom.  If someone wants to hear and learn from Him, they have to come to Him.

Jesus the Rabbi – He sat down – this was the tradition for an authoritative teaching. When the Rabbi sat down, he was teaching with authority. When the Rabbi taught walking or standing normally this would mean that the teaching did not have the same authority compared with the teachings when he was sitting.

Jesus with this attitude is telling the people and the disciples that He is the Teacher, the Rabbi, the one with Authority from God to tell them what to do and what to be. This should impact each one of us when we read what Jesus said.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interferences in Our Prayers – Part 3

There are many reasons why our prayers are not answered. Those interferences are everywhere, outside and inside of us. Today I will share two more interferences that we face in our prayer life. The first is laziness and the other one is our wrong motivations.

Laziness, yes, sometimes we are just too busy to pray, we do not want to learn, and we do not want to pray. We think that it is a waste of time, it will not be of any avail. It will not work. We just do not pray.

This is what James says in his letter, James 4:2-3 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” 

It is not that we do not have needs, we just do not feel like praying. We find it difficult to start praying, to create a prayer discipline. We are not lazy in all the other things in our life, but when we talk about prayer, it seems that it is the end of the world. It is too hard, too complicated, etc. It is very easy for us to find a good excuse for not praying.

In this text, James wrote, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” It was supposed to be so simple, just open your heart and mouth and ask, but for us it looks like something very difficult.

The other interference is the wrong motivations. Yes, you read right. James mentions in this text that we do not get what we want because we are asking with the wrong motivation. We are thinking about our pleasure and leisure. 

We do not have in mind His Kingdom and His will, but our kingdom and our will. And God is not interested in giving to us something that will exalt for ourselves and not Himself.

So, laziness and wrong motivations will interfere in our prayers, and we will not be able to receive what we are asking.

As you can see, there are many interferences in our prayers. Sometimes we pray, and we get upset that we did not receive any answer. We did not receive any answer because there are things between us and God, and the prayer did not reach Him, or the answer did not get to us.

Prayer is a tool, an exercise, and a life-style. We learn, we practice, and we persevere. Sometimes we need to change our practices and our lives to be more effective in the prayer life.

My friend, prayer is one of the most important disciplines in our spiritual life. Jesus felt the need to pray. The apostles and first disciples prayed constantly. There is no Christian life without prayer. Because of that we need to learn, to practice, and to persevere in our prayer life.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interferences in Our Prayers – Part 2

Yes, our prayers can suffer interference. This explains why sometimes we do not receive answers to our prayers. We become discouraged, we complain, and sometimes we change our prayer “Modus Operandi”. We do many things to get that fixed, but despite our efforts we still cannot have our prayers answered.

Today we will see another interference in our prayers, it is a very common one and it is totally related to us.

2 – Interference Caused by Our Sins

That is the second interference in our prayers, it is caused by our sins. We will not receive the answer to our prayers because there are feelings, attitudes, and words in our lives that block our prayers from God.

This is what the Prophet Isaiah said to the people of Israel,

Is. 59:1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. 

Is. 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. 

Is. 59:3 For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things. 

Is. 59:4 No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.

In this text we learned that the people then were praying, and could not see the answer, so some of them started thinking that the problem was not in the prayer, nor with them, but with God. His arm was not long enough to deal with their requests and needs.

Sometimes we have the same attitude, we pray, we pray, we pray, and we do not get the answer, and we blame God. He is too busy, there are things more important to do, He just cannot do it, He is not as powerful as we thought, etc.

We never look at ourselves to see if the problem is within us. God through the prophet told them that their iniquities have separated them from God, so that He would not hear them.

My friend, yes, if there is a sin, something that we said, did, or even think, that can cause an interference in our prayers. It is because of those wrong attitudes that our prayers are not getting answered.

To fix that we should learn and practice confession. Yes, we must confess and receive forgiveness, in this way we can fix the problem. Now, when I say confession, I am not telling you to participate in a religious ceremony. I am talking about recognizing your sins, repenting, confessing, and accepting the forgiveness that God has for us.

If sin is the interference for our prayers, confession to God and forgiveness from Him are the solutions for our problem. When we do that the channel will be opened again and our prayers will be heard and the answers from God will reach us.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment