Trusting all reading this had a great Thanksgiving (here in the U.S.). What follows comes from my own morning devotions today. I hope you find it worthwhile. Thanks for stopping by! -GlennThe Sermon on The Mount -Glenn’s Overview”The restoration of the church will surely come from a new kind of monasticism, which will have nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising adherence to the Sermon on the Mount in imitation of Christ. I believe the time has come to rally people together for this.”-Dietrich BonhoefferWithout question, others have done a far more masterful job than I will here. What follows are simple, blanket thoughts regarding one of Jesus’ most-quoted and important messages given to a large crowd on a mountainside:Mt. 5.1-16 (World English Bible Translation)5:1 Seeing the multitudes, he went up onto the mountain. When he had sat down, his disciples came to him.GK- Jesus actually sees people. Sadly, I and we do not always notice. He sat when He taught. The focus is on the Father and on the people. And His disciples came to Him. Sadly, at times we don’t and therefore do not hear His heart, His mind, His view on things.5:2 He opened his mouth and taught them, saying,GK- Jesus is rabbi, the Teacher, and not a mere academic nor orator/preacher/writer, but One Who truly communicates the very nature of God to His listeners. This is not about “wow-ing” the crowd, but about deep and needed information pertaining to spiritual, emotional and yes, physical health and of course, for the glorification of Our Father as we shall see.5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.GK- “Blessed” means to be envied, happy, truly satisfied. As we shall notice, all of the points Jesus makes are related to all people at various times in our lives. There are those times we are poor, empty, impovrished right down to our very breath (spirit). But there is a kingdom -coming-… and it is the kingdom of God where all who have loved and served Him in Christ will one day be!5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.GK- Early, middle or later in life mourning happens. Whether loss of loved ones in death, injustice, personal illness, job loss or any number of pains all of us face mourning. Jesus tells us comfort WILL happen in us.5:5 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.GK- The gentle, the meek (which I have sadly often -not- been…) indeed have an inheritance, and that inheritance is promised by Jesus Himself. One cannot but think of those hearing this message, many who had zero power in terms of education, land ownership/rights, inheritance or any sort, political authority and on and on… and He is telling them all this -will- change not due to their own ability or strength but due to the Father’s will and in the Father’s timing.5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.GK- I have sometimes asked myself if I truly HUNGER… THIRST… for what God considers righteousness? Sadly, I often fail in this. And yet -being filled- with these things comes to us as we learn where our truest need really is! We-shall- be filled!5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.GK- True confession: for years I have prayed for the spiritual gift of mercy. Merciful is not how I would describe myself and it is a shame and deep need for others to receive a sense of the mercy of Jesus via me. And so I pray. Of course I want to receive mercy, who doesn’t?! But the point is to -be- merciful and I pray for growth and the Spirit Who gives gifts and produces such fruit in our lives to do His work in me for this.Again, Jesus tell us such will receive mercy…5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.GK- Wow. He gets deeper still! Pure in heart. One heart, one mind, focused on Him, His will, His Word, His way, His plan, His desires, His love for others. Pure. Holy. Genuine. Unsullied. Such -shall- see God!!5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.GK- Making peace brings blessings to the person who helps bring it about as well as to those who were either fighting or on the edge of warring. In our marriages, families, churches, workplaces and world there are just too many fighters and not enough peacemakers. I am personally convicted to pray and work in my own prayer life, mind and inserting myself into discussions and writing that -making- peace is part of Jesus’ call to His people! I think in my own country (U.S.A.) that peace-making is not all that near the top of our list of priorities. It’s more about personal gain (see the book of James about why fighting and war exists) than peace between people. God help us find this blessing by working for peace! Help -me- be part of peace-making rather than another round of fighting and resultant pain! The true children of God are at core, about peace. How quickly we forget this!5:10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.GK- What strikes me here is how often we as individuals and groups, consider ourselves righteous/holy/correct simply because we are persecuted. Not so! But alas, this is how we are at times tempted to interpret this verse. It is about Jesus, about the righteousness of God, not our own righteous behavior. It seems to me the core of the persecution Jesus is talking about has to do with living out His love in relationships and societies where others seek something or someone other than God’s love and will.5:11 “Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake.GK- What always leaps out at me here is “my sake”. It’s all about Jesus. For HIS sake we at times may get blamed for this or that. False stuff, hard knocks due to our allegience to Christ are simply part of our road. He’s worth it.5:12 Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.GK- I suppose a root point here is “prophets”. People don’t like being told to repent, to change, to get their relationship with God in order and often neither do I! So if and when we are speaking truth (even in the real and super love of God) there are going to be detractors, angry people. Consider John the Baptist’s end and face the reality of this if you are going to be salt and light in a pagan society.5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.GK- In the most basic sense, of what value are you and I? To God, we are fully, totally, always valuable regardless of what we do or don’t do, regardless of whether or not we “produce”! Having said this, it is also true that in terms of humankind, our works speak louder than our thoughts, words or intentions. Salt indeed gives flavor, seasons, preserves, burns away germs and infection (think “gargling with salt” when one has a sore throat, etc.) and is important for life. Light is essential for good health as well (the good stuff from the sun’s rays) as the simple ability to not stumble in darkness- literally and spiritually. God is light and the entrance of His Words bring light. The New Testament calls Christ’s followers “children of light” and “children of the day”.5:14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden.GK- See my above comments. Salt and light must be genuine, authentic and present for a real life. And there is the “shine”, the reflective properties of light. We are like the moon- we have no light of our own but relfect the sun… or literally, The Son. Trying to hide or bury the salt and light, always and forever remaining silent, refusing our various prophetic callings (the varied ways we reflect Jesus Christ in our daily life) is not only a cop-out and irresponsible, it reveals a lack of the very love of God within us. The more we are filled with Him the more we will sense ways to bless others around us -regardless of personal cost.5:15 Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house.GK- Jesus continues with His “light” metaphor. Here again we don’t see “secret service” Christians but Christ-followers who stand out in bringing God’s love, light, truth to those around them. It is NOT “the pastor’s… or other professional’s job”… it is the daily, supernaturally natural life of all believers to relfect Jesus where we are to those around us. I don’t hear Jesus saying we should be obnoxious, rude or jumping up on a stage every chance we get. What I hear Him saying here is something along the lines of “Of COURSE you are going to reflect Me as you daily follow”! But do we? Today, am I? God help us!5:16 Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.GK- This is -not- about salvation by works, nothing anywhere near it! Jesus is saying that humankind NEEDS to recognize our life in Him. A genuine salvation experience with Christ will ultimately result in our living out the Good News which means (Jesus’ words, not mine) your and my “good works” will be seen. They will be noticed. In the end, the question is “what motivates these people to live like this, to sacrifice, share, give and love like they do?” And of course the answer is our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Therefore, a witness is offered through you and I… and the true end to all this is the glory of God! Jesus always and always points to God the Father, always teaches and acts in order to turn hearts, minds and actions towards the Father. ALL of what He has been teaching them and therefore you and I about thoughts, beliefs, difficult circumstances, actions and even the painful trials coming to His followers while we witness to Him on this earth, such a calling, such a lifestyle and even through the pains of “Jesus is coming, these blessings ARE COMING” but are not always each moment ours yet. They are wrapped in need, want, desire, wrapped in the “coming but not yet!” All of this boils down to glorifying God. This IS our life, LIFE. “For Christ IS our life” (Col. 3.4)and the glory of God our goal as it was/is His!