This is the sixth video in the Beatitudes video series: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst For Righteousness. This video series is an expansion and fleshing out of the Beatitudes (from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount). The Beatitudes are the famous words of Jesus from His Sermon on the Mount given in Matthew 5:1-12.
Someone sent me an amazing expansion of the Beatitudes (from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount). There have been innumerable (and many famous) interpretations, expansions, and dramatizations of the Gospels, such as The Robe, Ben Hur, The Spear, The Great Fisherman, The Silver Chalice, many TV series, many movies, and even Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (one of the highest grossing R-rated films in history) drew from multiple sources.
However, this interpretation/expansion/fleshing out of the Beatitudes is the best I have heard yet and it is remarkable. I hope you enjoy it! Please share this with anyone you think might enjoy this or might find some degree of benefit or inspiration from it.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
My father-in-law turned seventy-eight recently, and during our family gathering to honor him, someone asked him, “What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your life so far?” His answer? “Hang in there.”
Hang in there. It might be tempting to dismiss those words as simplistic. But my father-in-law wasn’t promoting blind optimism or positive thinking. He’s endured tough things in his nearly eight decades. His determination to press on wasn’t grounded in some vague hope that things might get better, but in Christ’s work in his life.
“Hanging in there”—the Bible calls it perseverance—isn’t possible through mere willpower. We persevere because God promised, over and over, that He’s with us, that He’ll give us strength, and that He’ll accomplish His purposes in our lives. That’s the message He spoke to the Israelites through Isaiah: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
What does it take to “hang in there”? According to Isaiah, the foundation for hope is God’s character. Knowing God’s goodness allows us to release our grip on fear so we can cling to the Father and His promise that He will provide what we need each day: strength, help, and God’s comforting, empowering, and upholding presence.
Salvation is simple enough for a child to understand, but it’s also so profound that we can’t plumb its depths. One thing we can know for certain is that it’s a work of God, whereby He regenerates a spiritually dead sinner into a new creation filled with the life of Christ.
Peter wrote his first letter to believers who needed encouragement because they were suffering persecution for their faith. He assured them, and us, with the following truths:
God has caused us to be born again to a living hope through Christ’s resurrection (1 Peter 1:3). If we set our hope on the things in this life, we will be disappointed because this is a fallen world, which groans with the effects of sin. As believers, however, we have new life and a living hope that transcends this world.
We have an imperishable inheritance reserved in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4). Worldly investments and retirement plans can be decimated in a moment. But as heirs with Christ, we have a heavenly inheritance that’s being kept safe by God Himself.
We are protected by the power of God through faith for a future salvation (1 Peter 1:5). As God’s own children, we never have to fear the loss of our salvation, because our almighty Father keeps us in Christ. And we also have the guarantee of a future bodily resurrection when Jesus returns.
In trying or painful times, we need a hope that reaches beyond our circumstances—which is exactly what we have in Jesus Christ. From beginning to end, in life and death, we are held safely by God.
At the turn of twentieth century, a bloody, vicious uprising took hold of northeastern China. After years of tension, competing foreign involvement, drought, and famine, an extremist faction within China staged the Boxer Rebellion in an attempt to purge foreign influence from their country. In two short years, over 115,000 people lost their lives; almost a third of those were Chinese christians and missionaries.
The missionaries and their congregations were targeted as the source of foreign influence, and the Boxer’s tactics were ruthless. Churches were burned down with missionaries and their families trapped inside. Students were forced to step on a knocked-down cross—symbolizing their rejection of Christianity—or be shot on sight. Between 1899 and 1901, 236 missionaries and priests were brutally massacred, 53 of them children. An estimated 32,000 native Chinese Christians were slaughtered for their faith. The violence spread like wildfire, and neighboring countries sent soldiers in to stop the bloodshed. Japan, Russia, Great Britain, and America were among the nations who formed an alliance against the Boxers.
Ruthless cruelty, relentless grace
But what began as an attempt to quell a rebellion devolved into what witnesses of the time called savagery and barbarism. The soldiers of the alliance slaughtered the Boxers and civilians indiscriminately, killing laborers, farmers, women, children, and elderly. Thousands of Chinese women and girls took their own lives to prevent brutal ravaging and murder by the foreign soldiers. Train cars filled with loot, goods stolen from the Chinese people, were claimed as “spoils of war.” When the rebellion was finally quelled in 1901, China was left devastated in the wake of the carnage.
But seven short years later, a new uprising was taking place in China: a Pentecostal revival was sweeping across Manchuria, led almost single-handedly by Canadian missionary Jonathan Goforth. Thousands of Chinese Christians attended his revivals, which were marked by an outpouring of charismatic gifts, public confession of sin and repentance, and most prominently tears—tears of joy, of pain, of contrition, and salvation. Goforth blazed a trail of holy fire through Manchuria, eventually bringing him to Xinmin.
Overcoming tragedy with forgiveness
It was a small town and an even smaller congregation: they’d lost 53 members of their church during the massacre of the Boxer Rebellion. Driven by grief and anger, the survivors had created a list: 250 names of those responsible for the murder of their Christian brothers and sisters. They held on to the list for seven years, in hopes that one day they could secure revenge. But in the midst of the revival, one person brought the list forward. With shaking hands and tear-filled eyes, she ripped the paper apart and trampled it underfoot. By the power of the Spirit, this small band of Chinese christians were able to let go of the pain and hate, and forgive.
A century later, the story of Christianity in China continues to be one of painful persecution. But even in the face of atrocities and oppression, the faithful in China cling to Christ, unshakable and thriving.
I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
What we think about when we are free to think about what we will—that is what we are or will soon become….
The Psalms and Prophets contain numerous references to the power of right thinking to raise religious feeling and incite to right conduct. “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” “While I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue” (Psalm 39:3). Over and over the Old Testament writers exhort us to get quiet and think about high and holy things as a preliminary to amendment of life or a good deed or a courageous act….
Thinking about God and holy things creates a moral climate favorable to the growth of faith and love and humility and reverence. We cannot by thinking regenerate our hearts, nor take our sins away nor change the leopard’s spots. Neither can we by thinking add one cubit to our stature or make evil good or darkness light. So to teach is to misrepresent a scriptural truth and to use it to our own undoing. But we can by Spirit-inspired thinking help to make our minds pure sanctuaries in which God will be pleased to dwell. BAM044-046
Lord, my mind will be inundated with thoughts today—some necessary, some impure, some wasteful, some covetous, some neutral. Take control of my mind, that my thoughts throughout may be pleasing to You. Amen.
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.—Luke 12:21.
It seems as if God gathered into His storehouse, from each of our lives, fruit in which He delights. And the daily cross-bearings and self-denials, the bright word spoken when head and heart are weary, the meek endurance of misunderstanding, the steady going on in one unbroken round, with a patient cheerfulness that knows nothing of “moods,”—all these (re garnered there, and add to our riches towards Him.
It is a great matter to learn to look upon troubles and trials not as simply evils, How can that be evil which God sends? And those who can repress complaints, murmurs, and peevish bemoaning—better still, the vexed feelings which beset us when those around inflict petty annoyances and slights on us—will really find that their little daily worries are turning into blessings.
“And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord.” Lev. 4:7
The altar of incense is the place where saints present their prayers and praises; and it is delightful to think of it as sprinkled with the blood of the great sacrifice. This it is which makes all our worship acceptable with Jehovah: He sees the blood of His own Son, and therefore accepts our homage.
It is well for us to fix our eyes upon the blood of the one offering for sin. Sin mingles even with our holy things, and our best repentance, faith, prayer, and thanksgiving could not be received of God were it not for the merit of the atoning sacrifice. Many sneer at “the blood”; but to us it is the foundation of comfort and hope. That which is on the horns of the altar is meant to be prominently before our eyes when we draw near to God. The blood gives strength to prayer, and hence it is on the altar’s horns. It is “before the Lord,” and therefore it ought to be before us. It is on the altar before we bring the incense; it is there to sanctify our offerings and gifts.
Come, let us pray with confidence, since the Victim is offered, the merit has been pleaded, the blood is within the veil, and the prayers of believers must be sweet unto the Lord.