Matthew Chapter 5 : The First Blessing

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Jesus Comforts the Poor  So the first blessing is “blessed are the poor in spirit.”  He is talking about the poor.  In Matthew, it says “the poor in spirit” but in Luke 6:20, the word “spirit” is not included.  And it says, blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.  So he starts off by comforting the poor.  So it starts by the way that God comforts the poor and gives courage to the poor.  So who must be the owners of the new world?  He is teaching us that in the new world, those who have prosperity and pleasure right now do not have the priority, because the priority of the new world is for the people who are repressed and so poor and sad right now.  Jesus is saying, those of you who are weak and poor right now, do not be sad because the Kingdom of God is yours.

God Comforts the Poor  In the Bible there are many places where God comforts the poor very warmly.

[Ps 9:18] But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.

[Ps 35:10] My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, O Lord?  You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”

[Ps 68:10] Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, O God, you provided for the poor.

[Ps 70:4,5]

  1. But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “Let God be exalted!”
  2. Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.

[Ps 140:12] I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.

Here it records the way God remembers the poor and saves the poor.  So we are able to see the love of God, the way He comes to the one who is poor, abandoned, and in pain in this world.  So God is coming saying, do not be sad just because you are poor and abandoned.  But this does not mean that all wealthy people are bad.

Humility  Matthew recorded that the poor in spirit are blessed.  What does the poor in spirit mean?  This means blessed are the poor in heart.  Those who have humble hearts.  Jesus used Aramaic language, this is a little different from Hebrew language.  In Aramaic, the word “poor” used in plural form is “modesty.”  So here he is talking about spiritual humility, spiritual modesty, modesty of the heart.  He is talking about the poor in heart, the ones who lower themselves, the ones with a humble heart, they are blessed.  This humble heart is the heart of Jesus.

[Mt 11:29] 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.

Longing for the Truth  The gentle and humble heart is the heart of Christ.  When you have this kind of heart, you will be blessed.  This heart is lowering and emptying yourself.  Those people will be blessed, and the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.  In other words, being poor means being poor about the truth.  This is the heart being thirsty for the truth, longing for the truth.

[Am 8:11] “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord , “when I will send a famine through the land- not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.

Spiritual Thirst  He is saying, there will be a famine, but not for food or water, but for the Word.  We have this hunger for the Word.  A spiritual thirstiness.  He is telling us that the ones who are hungry and thirsty for the truth are blessed.  If you look, the humble ones are truly thirsty for the truth.  The opposite of being poor is being filled.  A poor person is hungry, and a rich person is filled up.  If you are already filled up, then you do not seek.  So Jesus is telling us that those who are hungry and thirsty, poor like this and spiritually for the truth, they will receive the Kingdom of heaven.  So being humble is very important.

Arrogance  We learned through the lesson on the first sin that the first sin is arrogance.  In Proverbs, it says that God does not like arrogance.

[Pr 6:16,17]

  1. There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:
  2. haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,

There are six things that the Lord hates, one is the arrogant eyes.  When we are arrogant, we get further from God.  When we are arrogant, we abandon God.  So Jesus showed us the way to get rid of this arrogance.

[Php 2:5-8]

  1. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
  2. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
  3. but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
  4. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

 

Jesus lowered himself.  How low did he go?  It says he lowered himself even to death.  So Jesus laid down everything.  He didn’t just give out all his possessions, but he even gave out his life.  When he laid down everything, God lifted him up.

[Php 2:9-11]

  1. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
  2. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
  3. and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So how was Jesus? Jesus was the one who lowered himself, and by so doing, he was exalted.  So Jesus is teaching these words to the disciples, but not only did he say it, but he really lived like this.  So he perfectly showed them the way of heaven.  So how are the hearts of the people of the Kingdom of God?  The heart should not be arrogant lifting itself up, but be humble lowering itself.  That is the heart of the person of the Kingdom of God.  This heart and this attitude of humility and modesty is the basis and foundation of becoming a person of heaven.

Paradoxical Wisdom  But these words, that we should lower ourselves, are very unfamiliar to us.  The truth of the Word of God is like a paradox.  We say, “why do we have to lower ourselves, to die?”  Satan tells us, “why do you have to lower yourself?”  He says, “why should you live that way?”  These words are unfamiliar to us, that is why it is unfamiliar.  When the paradox of the truth are given to children, they say it is a lie.

Fall of Man  So the words of God are very different.  But if men didn’t fall, then these words would be familiar to us.  But because of the fall of man, the Words of God is becoming unfamiliar to us.  So when the Words of God sound familiar to us, then that is when we are closer to becoming the people of heaven.

Foolish Wisdom  If you go to countries that are wealthy and have a lot of knowledge and wealth, they will say this is foolish.  Apostle Paul went to a city named Corinth, a place full of wealth.  A very clever land.  Apostle Paul went there proclaiming the Gospel.  And then the smart people there said, this is all foolish.  Then Apostle Paul replied, yes it is foolish, it is foolish wisdom.  But no matter how wise men are, the wisdom of men is still lower than the foolishness of God.

[1Co 1:25] For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

According to the wise people of this world, the Gospel may be foolish.  But it is true wisdom.  In the opposite way, looking through the eyes of the Gospel, the wisdom of this world is foolish.

Losing God  Because in this world, no matter how much wealth and material possessions you have, but if you lose God’s Word, then you will live a foolish life.  When man loses God, man will become nervous and lonely, and there will be pain.

Lamb Stronger Than Lion  So although this may seem foolish, Jesus is teaching us the true wisdom that this world does not understand.  Although this life is weak, it is strong.  This is a paradox.  The symbol of Christianity is a lamb not a lion.  We could have used a strong symbol like a lion.  But the symbol of Christianity is a lamb.  Another example is: an eagle soaring through the air is so graceful and strong, but instead of that the symbol of Christianity is a dove.  So it is very weak.  The lamb and dove are very weak.  This is telling us that there is strength inside weakness.

God Revealed in Christ  How is God revealed by Jesus Christ?  God revealed himself through Jesus Christ by the way he lowered and emptied himself.  Jesus being crucified on the cross is not strong, that is very weak.  But in that weakness, a very amazing strength is brought out.  What is the strength?  That strength is love.  It is not outward strength, but the strength of love.  We sometimes want to be rich and strong.  But if we truly want to be strong, we must first be poor and weak.  This is opposite, but through this a new and amazing world of peace will open up.

Peace through Christ  When we try to become weak, so many people could laugh at us, Satan could laugh at us, but when we have this kind of heart then we could find true peace inside of us.  There is something in Christ, when we find him inside our hearts, we begin to feel peaceful inside.  These words seem so unfamiliar to this world that desires and longs for power and strength.  But these words teach us to have peace in our hearts.  So in those places where all people try to live by the Word of God, there is peace.  The Word of Jesus Christ is the Gospel, in that place there is true peace, there is no fighting.  We tend to fight when we try to win.  But in those places where everyone tries to lower themselves, there is peace.  So I wish that we will be able to get rid of the arrogance inside of us and have the humble heart of Christ.

Become Poor in Spirit  In the days of Jesus, all the arrogant people weren’t able to meet Jesus.  Instead, the poor people, the sinners, because they at least had troubled hearts, they were able to meet Jesus.  In this message of the Sermon on the Mount, everything sounds like paradox.  But I wish that these words would not be unfamiliar, but be familiar to us.  The first teachings were about modesty and humility.  So all the other messages afterwards were connected to this message.  So I wish that you would become the poor people of the Kingdom of God.

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Albuquerque Senior Ministry Held Bible Study on the Law and the Gospel

Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 3.53.25 PM.pngThe newly appointed senior leader in Albuquerque church led her first bible Study on a very important subject: the Law and the Gospel.

After the opening prayer and the songs of praise, the leader exposed the concepts of law and Gospel and why both have their relevance in the Christian life. It was pointed out that the sole compliance of the Law was not enough to be saved. The Law only reveals to the human beings their own imperfections. It was stressed the role of the gospel in saving man from condemnation as  it highlights the need for man to rely on God for his salvation.

During the discussion that followed the reading of the Study, the participants agreed on the need for all Christians to incorporate the teachings contained in the Gospel in their everyday  life. The believer should not boast about anything but to humble himself in front of God, recognizing his limitations and asking for His forgiveness, repenting from his wrongdoings.

The participants also agreed that a deep knowledge of this basic concept is very necessary to live a life in Christ. After two hours of fruitful Bible Study was concluded with a prayer.

Graceful Outreach to Seniors at Montevideo Nursing Home

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-9-19-23-amThe Montevideo Senior Ministry continues the visiting nursing home “Rebirth”.  In former visits, the ministry has shared God’s beautiful message with the interns.

In this occasion the ministry attended especially a petition by two elders, Sandro and Chita, who called Monday, asking whether the chapter could go visit them. The senior members accepted the invitation and the following day mobilized as a whole to the nursing home where they were greeted not only by the old couple but also by other interns who have come to know them already.

The ministry members and the interns shared a beautiful message. It produced such an impact in Arturo, an 82-year-old, that he even asked the senior members to pray for him.

The senior members also visited the room of another 79-year-old elder named ‘Benigno’, who accepted Christ in his heart for the first time.The senior members are considering  to design of the brochure  for these elders that can help them to retain the message they receive every week. They can read but sometimes their memory fails.

The senior members concluded that it is very rewarding to share these moments with elders and, pray to God that He continues blessing them.

A Paraguayan Senior Testifies “God Answered His Prayers”

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 3.27.22 PMIn Paraguay Emmanuel Church Pastor gave testimony that he received with great joy the truth by hearing the Word of God.

Brother Roberto told the congregation how he had asked God for a chance to experience His forgiveness and to serve to be useful. So it looked like an answer to his prayer, to know the Emanuel Church and feel in his heart the desire to be an active member. The congregation  prays for God and the Holy Spirit to guide Brother Roberto to become the senior  leader in Asuncion’s church.

Senior at Lima Has His Heart Touched by God

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 9.24.15 PMDuring the Wednesday service sister Celeste preached the message about 3 temptations with the main emphasis on Matthew 4.

She proclaimed that “We are victorious over any temptation by absolutely trusting God.” Jesus could not be tempted by the devil because He had God in His heart all the time. Sister Celeste urged to have deep faith in God and to increase it by reading His Word daily.

An elderly neighbor to the church who has been attending the Sunday service, was participating in Wednesday service for the first time. After the service he shared problems and pains of his life. He confessed that if he had not walked on the  missionary in the street he would have committed suicide because of several problems present in his life. But after attending church, there was a gradual change in his heart. He also shared that he wants to evangelize his daughter with whom he has a lot of conflict to improve tht relation.

The missionary and church members prayed for the elderly, for the healing of his heart and his spiritual change.

Sioux Falls Senior Ministry Continues Outreach in Nursing Home

830927412_15470659326169024691On July 20th, he Sioux falls Senior Ministry visited one senior member’s mother at the nursing home and ministered to her by reading the Bible, singing hymns and praying.

The sick lady has lost a lot of weight and probably is very near death. The senior members read the first chapter of John and sang three hymns. The lady was very blessed by the experience and wanted to know when the members would be back.

The senior members  also handed out several church fliers to other seniors in the Home. They continue visiting senior facilities to reach out senior who are in need of Jesus Christ.

Have I Become Useless?

black-1146798_1280What does a man my age have to offer the trend-setting generation?

Ben Patterson

July 1, 2004

(This article contains a deep reflection on aging and how senior people can make a difference in their lives and the lives of others regardless their age)

Sir William Osler, in an address given at Johns Hopkins University in 1905, declared men over the age of 60 to be useless. “My second fixed idea is the uselessness of men above 60 years of age, and the incalculable benefit it would be in commercial, political, and professional life, if, as a matter of course, men stopped work at this age.”

His remarks created an international furor. An influential physician, Osler was 56 years of age at the time. I don’t know if he followed his own advice.

Since I am one year into Uselessness, I have been tempted to feel uncool, outdated, and passed-by. Even in the church, the attention and the agenda is directed by people well under the age of 40. One wonders if Osler was more a prophet than a crank. The race does go, it seems, to the swift and the young.

But I don’t need the sight of younger, edgier leaders to feel that way. My body and consciousness whisper their own insults and accusations. When I was young, I clenched my fists and wept when I read Dylan Thomas’s lines to his aging father: “Old age should burn and rave at the close of day; / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Now, I would rage against the dying of the light-if only I could stay awake after 9:00 P.M.

As I write, I’m considering an invitation to attend tonight a beach bonfire and barbecue some male students are terming a “Viking Feast.” It’s an end-of-the-year, Saturday-before-finals-week celebration. I am honored by the invitation. Scrawled across the top of the invitation: “Ben! You’ve got to come!”

But I’m nervous about one of the requirements: “NO shirt or shoes.” No shirt? I heard somewhere that the reason men my age shouldn’t go shirtless in public is that it scares the children and confuses the babies. Dark thoughts now intrude: will it also amuse the young men? And still darker thoughts: who do I think I am, trying to be a shepherd to these young people?

I am overstating the problem. Working with college students has shown me that my advanced age is more a help than a hindrance. Whatever else this generation wants, it wants to know there is such a thing as older people who are reliable, available, and willing to tell the truth.

It wants to be able to trust someone the age of their parents and grandparents. Many have been wounded by infidelity and divorce. Their foundations have been shaken in other ways, too. So many are under-parented: their moms and dads have been ardent supporters of their pursuits in academics, sports, and music, but more as peer wannabes than as elders. They have been more interested in helping their children build a resume than a character. The students I know are looking for mentors.

When I first began to hear God’s call to work with students, I thought I was too old for that kind of thing. I was 50, for heaven’s sake. Shouldn’t I have done that in my twenties instead, when I looked more like I belonged? I have since come to believe that rather than being too old now, I was too young then to be effective-or reliable. You don’t ask a fish about the impurities in the water; it’s too close to know. I was a child of the Sixties and, though a Christian, a reflexive leftist. I believed much of what was wrong with America could be traced to capitalism and its practitioners. The academic world seemed to me a haven of sanity and purity in an evil world populated by businessmen. I was also a disciple of rock and roll, and a narcissist. I spent too much time talkin’ about my generation, hoping to die before I got old, and mistrusting anybody who did.

So what did God have me do for 22 years? Pastor churches filled with business people and some old folks. And then (gasp!) I got old. My attitudes changed in many ways, although I still like rock and roll. It has been good for Ben Patterson to get old. Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age, but it rarely comes without it. I wasn’t wise then, I’m probably not very wise now, but at least I know it in ways I simply could not as a younger pastor.

What is the wisdom in all this? It’s greater than having a more nuanced worldview. It is the realization that the ministry I had then and the ministry I have now is solely because of the mercy of God. Completely. Period. My talent and maturity will never be sufficient; only the God I serve is.

I’ve lived long enough to see some happy endings: bodies cured, broken families restored, marriages healed, sinners saved, youths brought home from the far country. My hope in the power of God and the efficacy of prayer is firmer now than ever. I am more relaxed and focused in crisis than I once was. And there have been enough sad, tragic stories to keep me humble in that hope. Tears now come more easily. I have so many poignant, wonderful stories to tell. It goes with the territory. “Middle age makes storytellers of us all,” says my friend Dan Taylor. True, the danger for the old is the temptation to garrulousness. But what a splendid temptation!

Long view, short view

The wisdom of the long view is also the wisdom of the short view. The time left to live when old is shorter than the time left when young. It is an intense, burning personal reality. When Lou Holtz coached football at the University of Minnesota, he quipped about the Upper Midwest that though it wasn’t the end of the world, you could see it from there.

As far as I know, I’m not yet at death’s door, but I can see it from here, better than ever. Seeing it is good. I know by experience that seasons come and go, children grow up, dear friends get old and die. Time runs out, and the wise will pray, “Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).

The wisdom of the short view helps us put the emphasis where it belongs. The Christian ministry is always more about what you let go of than what you hold on to. It’s about leaving a godly legacy, about passing on to others the faith handed to us. This is no more true for the old than for the young, but the old have to be very stupid to miss it. Indeed, some are, but I don’t want to be one of them. I want to care more for what I can give to those who come after me, than what I can hold on to for myself.

Theologian Karl Barth had this in mind when he wrote that extraordinary section in Church Dogmatics on the vocation of the old. He thought it foolish for the elderly to think that because they are old they may now hold back and play it safe. “As if it were permissible to freeze or solidify at the point where the river of responsibility should flow more torrentially than ever in view of the approaching falls, of the proximity of the coming Judge!”

Just as a river speeds up its pace as it nears the precipice of the falls, so old age is the time to open up to God’s call. Why hold back when the time is so short?

I need to tell a story now, about Charles McCoy, a great waterfall rider. I got it from Franklin Graham’s book, This One Thing I Do. McCoy was pastoring a Baptist church in Oyster Bay, New York, when at age 72 his denomination mandated his retirement. A life-long bachelor, he had cared for his mother as long as she lived. In his spare time he had earned seven university degrees, including two Ph.D.s, one from Dartmouth, the other from Columbia. But now, at 72, he was being forced out of the pastorate because he was considered too old.

He was depressed. “I just lay on my bed thinking that my life’s over, and I haven’t really done anything yet. I’ve been pastor of this church for so many years and nobody really wants me much-what have I done for Christ? I’ve spent an awful lot of time working for degrees, but what does that count for? I haven’t won very many for the Lord.”

A week later he met a Christian pastor from India, and on impulse asked him to preach in his church. After the service the Indian brother asked him matter-of-factly to return the favor. Since he had preached for McCoy, would McCoy come to India and preach for him? McCoy told him that he was being forced to retire and move into a home for the elderly down in Florida. But the Indian insisted, informing him that where he came from, people respected a man when his hair turns white. Would he come?

McCoy prayed about it and decided to go. The members of his church were aghast. The young chairman of his deacon board summed up the congregation’s attitude: “What if you die in India?” I love McCoy’s answer. He told him he reckoned that “it’s just as close to heaven from India as it is from Oyster Bay.”

He sold or gave away most of his belongings, put what was left in a trunk, and booked a one-way passage to India. It was his first trip out of the United States.

When he arrived in Bombay, he discovered to his horror that his trunk was lost. All he had were the clothes on his back, his wallet, his passport, and the address of missionaries in Bombay he had clipped from a missionary magazine before he left. He asked for directions, got on a bus, and headed for their house. When he got there, he discovered that while he was on the streetcar his wallet and passport had been stolen!

When he knocked on the door of the missionaries’ house, he was greeted with a polite smile and a blank look. Not only were they not expecting him, but the man who had invited him to India was still in the U.S. and would probably remain there indefinitely.

What was he going to do now? Unperturbed, McCoy told them he had come to preach and that he would try to make an appointment with the mayor of Bombay the next day. The missionaries warned him that the mayor was very busy and that in all the years they had been missionaries there, they had never been granted an appointment with him.

Nevertheless, McCoy set out for the mayor’s office the next day. When the mayor’s secretary gave him McCoy’s business card, listing all his degrees, he thought McCoy must not be merely a Christian pastor, but someone much more important. Not only did he get an appointment, but the mayor held a tea in his honor, and invited many of the city’s influential officials.

Old Dr. McCoy was able to preach to these leaders for half an hour. Among them was the director of India’s West Point, the National Defense Academy at Poona. He was so impressed at what he heard that he invited McCoy to preach there.

Thus was launched, at age 72, a brand-new 16-year ministry for Dr. Charles McCoy. Before he died at age 88, this dauntless old man circled the globe preaching the gospel. There is a church in Calcutta today because of his preaching, and a thriving band of Christians in Hong Kong because of his faithful ministry. He never had more than enough money to get him to the next place he needed to go. He died one afternoon in a hotel in Calcutta, resting for a meeting he was to preach at that evening.

The wisdom of the Useless! Not many wise, not many influential-these are God’s favorites-young or old. Yeats saw it clearly, when he wrote,
“An old man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered cloak upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing.”

Ben Patterson is campus pastor at Westmont

New Haven Senior Ministry’s Strategy to Reach Out Seniors Bears Fruit

IMG_3746The strategy of the New Haven Senior Ministry to make frequent visits to those places where senior can be found is beginning to bear fruit. On July 14th, the chapter went to visit the Atwater Senior Service Center. It was one more time the local senior chapter visits that center and that a consistent approach to the seniors in the community bore fruit.

This time, even though the seniors were preparing to leave for an activity outside the center, they gave a warm welcome to the chapter members as  they have become acquaintances for them. It was possible to interact closely with the center clients, even Bible verses were written to some of them.

Just when the chapter members were leaving the center they came to know an old lady who is under treatment to cure her cancer. She expressed her desire to know more about Jesus and the bible. She received all he information about the church activities, specially the Senior Bible Study its celebrated every Thursday afternoon and she agreed to meet the pastor to receive the grace of the word that she needs so much.

This visit has confirmed the chapter members that by keeping a constant contact with the seniors they will be able to bring to more of them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bolivia’s Senior Ministry Launches Plan for This Month of July

bolivia

The La Paz, Bolivia, Senior Ministry has agreed to hold activities focused on assisting seniors in need in the community during this month of July. The Senior Ministry Leader of Bolivia shared her plan of this month of July.

The motto that presides over these activities was taken from Deuteronomy 15:11. “There never will be no need in the land, so I command you to be generous to those compatriots of yours who suffer poverty and misery in your country.”

Being conscious that the spiritual and material needs in the life of the seniors increases everyday; With this activities the Senior Ministry “Crown of Honor” will living testimony of the presence of God on this earth. With jubilation in the heart it will have a prayer meeting because prayer is the what creates a bond with the Father and is the mainstay of the church.

The Ministry is actively inviting  people who want to learn to make artistic gelatins, this in order to evangelize the people who visit the church to learn and also raise funds to assist in the mission that the ministry has undertaken.

The Ministry has scheduled several visits to a nursing home in La Paz where its members had a warm fellowship with the interns. Groups of two or three senior members will visit the institution  each time to establish lasting bonds with the interns as it will make easier to bring them to God.

The Ministry plans to visit another nursing home in the city of El alto, not far from La Paz The seniors in this nursing home  suffer from scarcities and hardships that the Ministry is eager to address.

WOA Senior Adult Ministry to Launch Global Senior Prayer Group

senior-ministryThe Olivet Association of Senior Adult Ministry is working into recruiting a global senior prayer group. Christian seniors know the value of praying. Many seniors have been praying all their lives. They know how to pray effectively. That is why fellowship thinks that if they can engage many seniors in that praying effort they can make a big difference in senior mission over the world.

http://woasenior.org/articles/64/20160620/oasam-launch-global-senior-prayer-group.htm