Posted by Emmanuel Mbennah, 27 Feb 2020
Emmanuel Mbennah considers the second of the Beatitudes: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
What is the comfort of the gospel?
Poor in Spirit
Posted by Andrew Towner, 26 Feb 2020
Andrew Towner begins our Lent devotional series with the first of the Beatitudes from Matthew 5.
At the start of Jesus’s longest recorded public teaching, what themes are you surprised to see or not see?
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:1-3)
Before we focus in on our specific verses, there are a few things to note about verses 3-12, which are known as the Beatitudes. These beautiful attitudes focus on the kingdom of heaven, verses 3 and 10 serving as bookends, and promise blessing in every single verse. They have a structure, flowing from and into each other, and they are addressed to both disciples and crowd, so two types of hearer are in view.
Turning to the first few verses, our text for today, we consider three questions about poverty of spirit: what is it? why is it a blessing? and how might we gain or grow in it?
The Blessed Life
Posted by Lee Gatiss, 25 Feb 2020
Lee Gatiss introduces this year's Lent devotional series.
Lent is traditionally a time for reflection and prayer. Over the next few weeks on the Church Society blog, we will be reflecting each weekday on some of Jesus’s first words, and his last words, as well as pondering what the Bible says about the spiritual life. That is, we will be reflecting on the Beatitudes from Matthew 5, Jesus’s words from the cross in the Gospels, the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5, and the so-called seven deadly sins which the Bible speaks about in various different places.
In the opening of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us nine times what a blessed life looks like. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ he says, ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’ These surprising and arresting pronouncements undercut worldly expectations (‘Blessed are you when people insult you’!), and teach us to live in a way that pleases God, always looking to the future where he will put everything right.
In Galatians 5, the apostle Paul contrasts the acts of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. The way of true freedom in Christ is about living in a way that keeps in step with the Spirit of God who has been sent into the hearts of his children. The world, the flesh, and the devil urge us to live for self, but the Spirit produces in us something which changes our orientation in life and bursts out of us with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.