by Tony Nester

Blessed Are the Merciful
Tony R. Nester
Matthew 5:7-11

(Matthew 5:7-11 NRSV) ''''Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
{8} ''Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. {9} ''Blessed are the
peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. {10} ''Blessed are those
who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
{11} ''Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all
kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.''

Last week I preached about spiritual weakness quoting from Jesus' Sermon on the
Mount: ''Blessed are the poor in spirit.'' Discipleship empties us of our
self-sufficiency - we never forget how much we depend on the grace of God.

But Jesus didn't' give us the Beatitudes to leave us in weakness. The
Beatitudes are a pathway to the power and strength of the Kingdom of God.

The Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy, his young son in the faith, to be a Kingdom
leader and as such to stand up to critics who dismissed Timothy because of his
youth. Paul reminded Timothy that ''God did not give us a spirit of cowardice,
but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.'' (2 Timothy 1:7
NRSV). ''Be strong, Timothy!''

Paul had found his own source of strength. His apostolic ministry exposed him
to criticism, ridicule, and mortal danger. But Paul learned that Kingdom
people, though weak in themselves, are never without the strength of God. ''... I
am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for
the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.'' (2 Corinthians
12:10 NRSV)

''Whenever I am weak, then I am strong.'' Kingdom people are weak yet strong;
poor in spirit, but richly blessed by God. Kingdom people live in the strength
of the King.

Each of the final four Beatitudes identifies a spiritual strength that becomes
available to us when we live in the pow ...

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