Coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday and heading toward Christmas is a time of the year when followers of Jesus often become more focused on their faith. This is a good thing, but also a reminder that our faith should be a daily walk not a twice-a-year (Christmas and Easter) blip. To me there is no better way to dive in than reading the words of Jesus. One of my favorite sections of scripture is the “Sermon on the Mount”. In these few chapters comes the largest collection of Jesus’ direct teachings and the fundamentals of Christian faith and discipleship. The Sermon on the Mount begins with “The Beatitudes”, which paint a beautiful picture of the characteristics that a follower of Christ should have, and the wonderful hope and blessings that come through a faithful life.
One of the most easy to read and poetic versions of the Bible to be published in recent years is “The Message” Bible that was translated by Bible scholar and pastor Eugene Peterson. Take some time, read through the Beatitudes below, meditate on their meaning, and enjoy the blessings found in the teachings of Jesus.
1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
I know each time I read this I feel greatly encouraged and strengthened in my faith. I hope you feel the same. I would challenge you to let this be a season of renewal in your walk with Christ. As we approach Christmas remember the miracle of Jesus’ birth…and how much You’re Blessed.