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Today’s chapter – Matthew 5 – is one of the most well known in the whole Bible; well, the first 12 verses anyway.  These contain a list of 9 circumstances in which one should feel and count as a blessing.  None of the 9 circumstances are remotely like those which people count as blessings today.  They would use words like lucky or fortunate in talking about what they see as blessings, such as winning a lottery.  Does it seem surprising that neither of those 2 words appear in the Bible!?

The word BEATITUDE is used by the church to describe a condition of blessedness, that’s what the word means.  The first blessed condition (v3) is to be ‘poor in spirit’  This is understood as a humble or lowly attitude, the opposite of being proud in spirit.  The New English Bible puts it in an interesting way –  ‘How blest are those who know their need of God’

The next one is a hard saying for many to come to terms with!  “Blessed are those who mourn”!  But remember the lesson we saw in reading the book of Job. His misfortunes led him to seek and know God as he had never done before!  If we go through life with no troubles, are we motivated to really seek a relationship with God?

If you are simply taught about God, and reason out that he must exist, that attitude is simply laying a foundation that has be built upon. The next one is “Blessed are the meek” – this is the very opposite of being aggressive.

But what we have not yet emphasized is that with each of these present situations that is seen as a blessing, comes the promise of a future.  In the case of the meek – “they shall inherit the earth”  The is no promise of a place in heaven, it is a heavenly reward on earth.

It is very rewarding to read and carefully reflect on these states of blessedness and our own relationship to them.  May we all give careful thought to the other six – on this first Sunday of 2016, which shows every indication of being a momentous one in the unfolding plan and purpose of God.