Years ago a young man was riding a bus from Chicago to Miami. He had a stop-over in Atlanta. While he was sitting at the lunch counter, a woman came out of the ladies' restroom carrying a tiny baby. She walked up to this man and asked, "Would you hold my baby for me? I left my purse in the restroom." He did. But as the woman neared the front door of the bus station, she darted out into the crowded street and was immediately lost in the crowd. This guy couldn't believe his eyes. He rushed to the door to call the woman, but couldn't see her anywhere. Now what should he do? Put the baby down and run? When calmness finally settled in, he went to the Traveler's Aid booth and together with the local police, they soon found the real mother. You see, the woman who'd left him holding the baby wasn't the baby's real mother. She'd taken the child. Maybe it was to satisfy some motherly urge to hold a child or something else. No one really knows. But we do know that this man breathed a sigh of relief when the real mother was found. After all, what was he going to do with a baby? In a way, each of us, is in the same sort of situation as this young man. Every Christmas God Himself walks up to us and asks, "Would you hold My Baby for Me, please?" and then thrusts the Christ Child into our arms. And we're left with the question, "What are we going to do with this Baby?" But an even deeper question is just, "Who is this Baby?" If we look at Scripture, we find all kinds of titles and names for this Baby we hold in our arms: Emmanuel, "God-with-us;" Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Christ the King, Jesus. In today’s Gospel describing the presentation ceremony, Simeon asks Mary the question: "Can I hold your Baby for a few minutes, please?" (King Duncan).
2: The sword piercing Mary’s heart:
5. Sermons.com: Matthew 5:1-12 - "The True Nature of Happiness"
Some years ago the Raleigh, North Carolina News & Observer published an article entitled: "How Do You Measure Up As A Man? The article stated that some extensive research had been conducted on the 20th century standards for measuring a man. The criteria were quite interesting and I thought that I might list them for the men here this morning just to see how they measure up.
1. His ability to make and conserve money (That lets me out already).
2. The cost, style and age of his car.
3. (This is my favourite) How much hair he has.
4. His strength and size.
5. The job he holds and how successful he is at it.
6. What sports he likes.
7. How many clubs he belongs to.
8. His aggressiveness and reliability.
Jesus Christ also once set down eight principles for the measure of a person. His standards stand in stark contrast to the aforementioned. There would appear to be a wide gulf between the popular image of the successful person and what God sees as the successful person.
Susan R. Andrews, The Offense Of Grace, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.
3. The Key to the Beatitudes
The idea of being poor in spirit is the key to all that is to follow in the Beatitudes. I like the note in the Life Application Bible:
"You cannot mourn without appreciating how insufficient you are to handle life in your own strength.
You cannot be meek unless you know you have needed gentleness yourself.
You cannot hunger and thirst for righteousness if you proudly think of yourself as already righteous.
You cannot be merciful without recognizing your own need for mercy.
You cannot be pure in heart if your heart is full of pride.
You cannot be a peacemaker if you believe that you are always right.
You cannot identify with Christ in the face of negative reactions from others without dying to yourself and renouncing your own rights."
All of these beatitudes are rooted in humility, being poor in spirit.
Owen Stepp, Unlikely Blessings
One Sunday as they drove home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, there's something about the preacher's message this morning that I don't understand." The mother said, "Oh? What is it?" The little girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. He said God is so big that He could hold the whole world in His hand. Is that true?" The mother replied, "Yes, that's true, honey." "But Mommy, he also said that God comes to live inside of us when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Is that true, too?" Again, the mother assured the little girl that what the pastor had said was true. With a puzzled look on her face the little girl then asked, "If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn't He show through?"
That is what the beatitudes are about - God showing through.
Jerry Shirley, When God Shows Through
5. God Means Everything
"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
William Barclay says this verse means, "Blessed is the man who has realized his own utter helplessness, and who has put his whole trust in God. If a man has realized his own utter helplessness, and has put his whole trust in God, there will enter into his life two things....
6. "Best All Around"
A small parable: Once upon a time, there was a company who had two junior executives. One did everything by the book, was diligent and trustworthy, always made sure he was covered and, since he always went by the book, rarely made mistakes. The other also was a hard and diligent worker, but he often tested the rules, sometimes received some criticism, and sometimes made mistakes. One day an opening came up for a senior executive position, and the owner of the company promoted the one who made mistakes over the other. Of course Mr. "By the Book" was enraged and asked his boss why - after all, he had a better record, didn't he? He NEVER made mistakes. He ALWAYS followed the book. To which his boss replied, "Yes, but what will you do someday when something comes up that isn't covered by the book. You know the rules, but he knows what we are doing here, and why we are here. He UNDERSTANDS the company. And that's why he was promoted over you."
How do we obtain God's blessing? Well, the answer, of course, is that it's not something we obtain - it's not for sale. It's something he has already freely given to you, but which you can only recognize when you accept it as a gift, and live in it.
Gary Roth, All of God's Blessings
Some years ago a panel of doctors was appointed by the Federal government to meet together and draw up eight laws of public health that could be printed in pamphlet Form and distributed to the public. After twelve days off exhaustive meetings, the doctors were unable to come to a consensus. It seems that their areas of concern were so diverse: one was a cancer specialist, one a cardiologist, one a psychiatrist, and they all approached the problem from their own discipline. The chest expert was concerned about coal dust from the mines and lint from textile mills, while the psychiatrist was concerned about the effects off urban stress. Finally, Dr. Harold Sladen offered Hospital in Detroit came up with an appropriate idea. He said: Let's just republish the eight beatitudes of Jesus and simply replace the word "Blessed" with the words "healthy."
Here is the infamous bit from Monty Pythons "Life of Brian." All great humor must have one essential element: Truth. This bit certainly has that. Jesus' words when misunderstood has led to some pretty fantastic conclusions. And so, this is dedicated to all those knuckle headed interpretations throughout the years. There are two main characters in the bit who are called Trouble and Bignose. They are at the back of the crowd when Jesus is giving the Sermon On The Mount:
Trouble: I was only asking her to shut up so I could hear what he was saying, Bignose.
Bignose wife: Don't you call my husband Bignose.
Trouble: Well he has got a big nose.
Jew: Could you be quite, please. What was that?
Trouble: I don't know... I was too busy talking to Bignose.
Man: I think it was 'Blessed are the cheese-makers'...