This devotional guide prepares readers for the January 8 sermon, “Caring About Others,” and it looks at the final four Beatitudes: mercy, purity of heart, peacemaking, and being persecuted. By spending time with the devotional readers will be better prepared to think about the ideas of the sermon as well as its command on their lives.
Monday, January 2. Read Lamentations 3:22-24. 1) What does Jeremiah say about the mercies of God? 2) What effect does God’s mercy have on Jeremiah? 3) And you?
Tuesday, January 3. Read Deuteronomy 24:17-18. 1) What did Moses teach his people regarding the orphan and widow? 2) What did he want them to remember? 3) How do you think this applies to you today?
Wednesday, January 4. Read Luke 6:35-36. 1) What is your responsibility to your enemy? 2) How should you “lend” to others? 3) How does God regard us when we live in this way?
Thursday, January 5. Read Matthew 5:23-24. 1) What might come to mind in the midst of offering a gift to God? 2) What does Jesus say we must do about this? 3) When should gifts be offered to God?
Friday, January 6. Read Proverbs 4:20-24. 1) What place should wise words from God have in your life? 2) Where do these words have residence, and how should one attend to that?
Saturday, January 7. Read Matthew 5:1-10. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
— Matthew 5:9
Evening Thought by Charles Spurgeon
This is the seventh of the beatitudes: and seven was the number of perfection among the Hebrews. It may be that the Saviour placed the peacemaker the seventh upon the list because he most nearly approaches the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must attain to this seventh benediction, and become a peacemaker.
There is a significance also in the position of the text. The verse which precedes it speaks of the blessedness of “the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” It is well to understand that we are to be “first pure, then peaceable.” Our peaceableness is never to be a compact with sin, or toleration of evil. We must set our faces like flints against everything which is contrary to God and his holiness: purity being in our souls a settled matter, we can go on to peaceableness.
Not less does the verse that follows seem to have been put there on purpose. However peaceable we may be in this world, yet we shall be misrepresented and misunderstood: and no marvel, for even the Prince of Peace, by his very peacefulness, brought fire upon the earth. He himself, though he loved mankind, and did no ill, was “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
Lest, therefore, the peaceable in heart should be surprised when they meet with enemies, it is added in the following verse, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Thus, the peacemakers are not only pronounced to be blessed, but they are compassed about with blessings. Lord, give us grace to climb to this seventh beatitude!
Purify our minds that we may be “first pure, then peaceable,” and fortify our souls, that our peaceableness may not lead us into cowardice and despair, when for thy sake we are persecuted.
Purer Yet and Purer by Johann von Goethe, 1749-1832
Purer yet and purer, I would be in mind,
Dearer yet and dearer, every duty find;
Hoping still, and trusting God without a fear,
Patiently believing He will make all clear.
Calmer yet and calmer, in the hour of pain,
Surer yet and surer, peace at last to gain;
Suffering still and doing, to His will resigned,
And to joy subduing heart and will and mind.
Higher yet and higher, out of clouds and sight,
Nearer yet and nearer, rising to the Light;
Light serene and holy, where my soul may rest,
Purified and holy, sanctified and blessed.
Swifter yet and swifter, ever onward run,
Firmer yet and firmer, step as I go on;
Oft these earnest longings swell within my breast,
Yet their inner meaning ne’er can be expressed.
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born in poorest state.
Grant that I, who have been born again and made your child by adoption and grace,
may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through my Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.