March 23, 2010

Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 30



Monte Holland

This is the thirtieth 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 29 

Today’s photographs feature Friedenskirche in Munich, Germany. To view click on:

Beatitudes – Fifth and Sixth

Matthew 5:7-8

 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

      The Fifth Beatitude has a ring of the Golden Rule, which tells us: “If you seek mercy, you should be merciful.” “Mercy rules” are put in place in some sporting events because some people aren’t merciful. Was it mercy in last week’s lesson to allow the physically challenged boy to hit a home run?

     Mercy recognizes that we often are in a position to shame another person, and tells us to respect the other person enough to not to not shame them. I recall some time ago that the coach of a girls’ basketball team was fired because he encouraged and allowed his team to humiliate another girls’ team, 100-0. He was fired for showing no mercy.

     I remember a Little League game where my nephew, Ronnie, was pitching. He was a good pitcher with a hard fastball. A boy was up hitting and Ronnie wasn’t throwing very hard. When I asked his father, my brother Elwin, why he wasn’t throwing faster, I was told that they didn’t throw as hard to the smaller boys—to give them a fair chance. Ronnie and the other boys were being taught fairness and mercy.

     Maybe the best thing we can take away from this beatitude today is to look at others with fairness and to not intentionally put them to shame—and maybe our whole community can learn to be merciful and receive the mercy God wants for all of us.

     While the mercy beatitude speaks to how we relate to others, the Sixth Beatitude speaks to our inner being, our relationship with God. To purify something, we either need to strain out or neutralize its pollutants.

     My rental apartments in the Slippery Rock area have a water treatment system. The first two parts of the system remove iron that creates acidic water and limestone, making “hard” water. Once this is done, an ultraviolet light kills the bacteria in the water, making it safe to drink. This three-step process purifies the water.

     What do we do to purify our hearts? Are there things to be removed? Are there things to be neutralized so that they do not interfere with the Godly, moral life? Are there “bacteria” to be killed? Surely there are! The checklist is probably quite long—theologians through the years have spoken of the seven deadly sins.

     A promotion for a History Channel series on the seven deadly sins stated: The SEVEN DEADLY SINS — lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, greed, anger and pride — have had an enormous impact on the moral compass of the modern world. These sins have had different interpretations in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and some argue that they have even greater significance than the Ten Commandments.

      As we look to minimize the impact of these sins in our lives, our hearts should become purer and the promise of seeing God should start to be realized.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (NRSV)

Summary:    action or condition                                  blessing

                          merciful                                          obtain mercy

                          pure in heart                                    see God


Exercise 1: Identify some conditions that call us to be merciful:

(cnae) ___________    (nesfats) _______________

(clusimness) ________________ 

Exercise 2: To purify the heart requires dealing with deadly sins:

(eedrg) _____________  (pdire) _________  (grane) ________

Continue on to the next lesson, A DAILY ON-LINE LENTEN STUDY GUIDE: 31 by clicking on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 31


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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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