Time and again I’ve heard people cry, “God hasn’t blessed me. I ask Him for good things, but it doesn’t help.” Or they complain, “I try so hard to do the right things and to be a good Christian, but it just doesn’t work for me.” We long for God’s favor; we pray and beg God for it. And yet the blessings of God often seem elusive. Our prayers don’t seem to get any further than the ceiling. So what’s the secret? How can we experience God’s blessing in our lives?

The Beatitudes-Matthew 5:1-11
Jesus answered our question in the “Beatitudes.” Each Beatitude begins with “Blessed are those who…” Jesus makes it clear that God wants to bless us! But he also makes it clear that how God views a life of blessing is NOT the same as what we think it is. For instance, Jesus says that God’s blessing comes to those who are poor, grieving, unfulfilled, and enduring mistreatment. Huh? What’s good about these struggles? Nothing. And that’s the point! We want wealth, happiness, popularity, success, and rewards for doing good. It’s natural to want things to go well in our lives, but these are not the deep eternal blessings that God wants to give us. God wants to give us Himself – His kind blessings in our lives are His abundant and eternal life in our souls, His holy and loving presence within us – so that we can be happy in Him no matter what our circumstances are.

We got it backwards. We approach God with our problems and say, “Please make my life better.” It’s much the way a young child looks to mom and dad to take care of him or her. We all begin our relationship with God like this. It’s where we start. But it’s not the way to live the life of blessing that Jesus offers. He has so much more to give us and we need to grow into it as we mature in Him. (Imagine a grown adult who continues to rely on his or her parents to make them happy) In the Beatitudes, Jesus is offering us the supreme blessing of God’s presence right here; right now, whatever we’re going through, whatever problems or pains that are afflicting us, whatever failures or frustrations we’re up against. So let’s look up to heaven and open up our hearts to God.

Write Your Own Beatitudes
Dallas Willard, in his “The Kingdom of God” teaching series, challenges his listeners to write our own beatitudes. That’s what Jesus is after here! He doesn’t suggest that God will take away your problems, (As some Christians suggest) but he’s trying to show us that the greatest blessing of all is to be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven and it is available to us in the MIDST of our difficulties.

So let’s make a list. What problems do you wish you didn’t have? Do you have cancer or another health problem? Are you bankrupt, divorced, or unemployed? Jesus would say, “Blessed are you with ____________ (Fill in the blank) for yours is the kingdom of heaven.” Of course, it’s not a blessing to have a health problem or to be short of money or struggle with any other problem. The blessing is having God. That’s Jesus’ message here.

Grieve Your Losses.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4)
We all want to be happy. Yet striving to be happy eventually leaves us continually unhappy! That’s because if we try to be happy all the time then we cover up our pain. And hiding our hurts will leave us unknown and unloved. It’s no wonder that the most common cause of depression and anger is denial of grief. Many have gone through one or more of the following difficulties in life:
• Death of a loved one
• Health problems
• Failures
• Disappointments
• Injuries
• Unmet childhood needs
• Abuse

Each of these difficulties includes loss. To deny this sadness and isolate it from caring people causes it to back up and form a cesspool in your soul that manifests itself as depression and sometimes leads to anger–Especially if one experiences one loss after another and does not allow themselves to grieve and be comforted. Of course, none of us want to feel pain and sadness. And yet when we’re honest about our sadness and reach out for the comfort from others, then we can experience the comfort and renewing that our souls need.

Be Yourself.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” (Matt. 5:11)
The most destructive of all emotions is shame, feeling that you’re bad – all bad. Perhaps nothing keeps us from God more than shame. You feel shame when you continually do things that are wrong or harmful; when you’ve been repeatedly violated, rejected, or judged; when you turn your anger inward against yourself; when you see only the bad in you. (This is especially true of victims of child abuse) The instinctive and destructive response to shame is to hide your true self. There are several ways that people try to hide the parts of themselves they’re ashamed of:
• Pushing them down into their unconscious
• Projecting them onto others via faultfinding.
• Covering them up with alcohol, drugs, sex or other compulsions.

Hiding in shame is hiding from love and forgiveness. It means missing out on God’s blessings! We all long to have our bad parts forgiven, our past hurts healed, and our good celebrated. And this is what God offers us! Our role is simply to be ourselves – expressing our true, inner selves – to God and to others. And then to take in the gracious acceptance that we need and that is available to us. THIS is the secret to true self-esteem.Remember: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Some people believe that God brings trials upon His children in order to teach us to trust Him more. But that would be like a parent withholding their child’s physical needs, (food, clothing, etc.) just so the child will trust them more! I could not serve a God who treats His children this way.

Trouble comes to us because we live in a sin sick world under the influence of the devil and his angels. But we need to remember that God does not look upon trouble as we do. Where we see stress, He sees opportunities. And when we learn from our trials and ride out these storms of life, we will see God’s great promise fulfilled in us and His glorious recompense will come to us throughout eternity. We need to see the joy and opportunities through our times of trials.

Unexpected crises are a part of life. They are like unexpected storms. At this moment you are in one of three storm categories; either you just came out of a one, or you are in a one right now, or you are headed into one. So we need to learn how to prepare and ride them out. We must learn to prepare and ride them out by learning and maturing from them.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Mat 7:24-27)

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