March 19, 2010

A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 28



Monte Holland

This is the twenty-eighth in a series of daily Lenten devotionals called “Scriptural Lessons Leading to a Godly and Moral Life.” To start the study, click on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Introduction or

 To view yesterday’s A DAILY ON-LINE LENTEN STUDY GUIDE click on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 27

Today’s photographs feature the cross on the very top of Wallberg Mountain in Germany (the white one with the Alps in the distance). The second cross is on a side slope of the same mountain. To view click on:


Beatitudes – Matthew 5:1-12

 1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into the mountain: and when he had sat down, his disciples came unto him:

 2 and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying,

 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

 6 Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after 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 they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 11 Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you. American Standard Version (ASV)

Today we look at verses 3 and 4: the poor in spirit and those who mourn

 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

The Contemporary English Version (CEV) of these verses is:

3 God blesses those people who depend on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven. (or the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.)

4 God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort.

     The following verses are referenced in The Learning Bible (CEV) as related to the above two verses:

 Isaiah 61:2   This is the year when the Lord God will show kindness to us and punish our enemies.

  Psalm 37:11  the poor will take the land and enjoy the harvest.

  Isaiah 55:1,2  If you are thirsty, come and drink water! If you don’t have any money, come, eat what you want! Drink wine and milk without paying a cent. Why waste your money on what really isn’t food? Why work hard for something that doesn’t satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and you will enjoy the very best foods.

     The poor in spirit, or those who depend on God, will be blessed with the kingdom of heaven. Does that mean now, later, or at all times? Our faith teaches that those who put their faith in God have a future, an eternal future, with God. Jesus said in John 14 that He was going to prepare a place for us with God the Father.

     What about the present? Is the Kingdom of Heaven already available to those who are poor in spirit or belong to God?

     I believe some of those who serve God experience God’s kingdom in the present time. That blessing is already theirs. This is not a time like the forty years in the Wilderness when God put manna in the fields six days a week for the people to gather and feast on and the quail at night to provide more nourishment. Yet it is God’s intention that those who belong to God are to be cared for. Manna for some may only come in the form of soup kitchens or food pantries or food stamps.

     If you are a young person who is probably not poor, what can you do to help those who are poor? In other words how can you be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven into the lives of the poor? Maybe it is simply taking a canned good to a food drive at school or at church. Maybe it is helping out at a food pantry or a Fresh Express monthly produce distribution. These activities require the kind of manual labor that young and older people alike can provide.

     Television reports say that even in bombed-out Gaza life goes on. These people could consider themselves most deprived in the cruel world of war and bombs. And yet these people are going on with life the best they can. Farmers are still going to their fields to till their crops. They still find God’s blessing, even though they have little materially, compared to us.

     Without walking in the shoes of the really poor of the world, it is difficult to understand the concept of God’s blessing as well as they do. We confuse material goods with God’s spiritual blessing—which thankfully is available to all people.

     Our second verse implies that the more we grieve, the more God blesses us with comfort. The common thread of grief is a loss. What have we lost that we mourn? The death of a loved one? The loss of a romantic relationship? The loss of possessions or animal companions? These are typical situations that bring grief to our lives.

     God’s comfort comes when we are very careful to recognize this. Grief results from unwelcome and/or unexpected change. It takes time to adjust to change.

     For young people the death of a classmate or friend is especially difficult for two reasons: a. it may be the first time that they have experienced the death of someone close to them and b. it reminds them that even though most young people live to a relatively old age, some persons die when they are young. They need real support at this time, which comes with flocks of young people showing up for the viewing and funeral of a young friend. Good grieving is a process that involves reprogramming our life to cope with the new realities.

     A primary question becomes, “Have I lost everything?” The answer is, “No!” because you still have God and many other friends that have joined to grieve with you. A second question may be, “Can I replace what I have lost?” The answer is most likely, “No!” There is something special there in that lost relationship that can never be duplicated. Every person we know is unique. If you look at your family for example, once your mother dies, you can no longer have a relationship with the person who gave birth to you. Your mother was the only one who did that.

     God’s comfort comes into play when we let God show us that even though the old relationship will never be re-established, there are new relationships on the horizon. These have the potential to become a new and positive future. God’s comfort is especially important for young persons, because so much of the future and all of its newness still lies ahead. The Godly, moral life keeps us close to God, who fills our beings with comfort in the midst of tears of loss.

     Grief is not simple. It takes time. However, with God’s comforting help the future emerges, full of hope and possibilities. God informs us in our living: Ecclesiastes 3:17, 22

17So I told myself that God has set a time and a place for everything. He will judge everyone, both the wicked and the good. …. 22We were meant to enjoy our work, and that’s the best thing we can do. We can never know the future.

     On this first day we find that the poor in spirit and the mourners are blessed as they stay close to God. The Godly, moral life has its encounters with the kingdom of heaven and the comfort that comes from God.

EXERCISE:  (see Matthew 5:3-4 above):

action or condition                                  blessing

 (oorp in itirps)___________               (inkgomd of neveah)_________                   

 (oesth who rounm) __________         (omcotrf) ___________    

Continue on to the next lesson on A DAILY ON-LINE LENTEN STUDY GUIDE: 29 by clicking on:  A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 29


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Monte and I welcome any comments you might have on the Lenten posts. Use the COMMENT box below to respond. For details on the COMMENT CONTEST click on:







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