In the Valley as it is in Heaven: Beatitudes and Blessings of Jesus

Week 1: Matthew 5:1-12 – Beatitudes

Date: September 9 & 10

Writer: Steve Dang

In first century Palestine, the people at the bottom of socio-economic-political pole were ignored and abandoned. But Jesus is saying, the Creator God is on your side. Jesus sets up the entire Sermon on the Mount with this crazy idea: The God and Creator of the universe actually cares about us. Jesus establishes a transformational idea –  you are seen, before you do. This is subversive start to the Sermon on the Mount.

My freshman year of college one of my professors held me back after class and said, “You should definitely write more.” I was not sure how writing would fit into my career aspirations as a youth pastor, but I left that meeting feeling noticed. While I did not think I was a particularly good writer, I started to take her suggestions on my papers seriously. I wanted to hone my craft not just to improve my writing skill, but because my professor saw something in me, and I wanted to live towards it.

Jesus starts the Sermon on the Mount calling out a forgotten group of people – the poor, the marginalized, the peacemakers, the bottom rung of society. They had no status, they had no wealth and they had no influence. And Jesus’ words to them? God is on your side.

It would be so easy for us to read the Sermon on the Mount as simply laws to live by or a code of ethics. But this is not the case at all. This is why Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount addressing our identity before addressing how we live our life practically. You are noticed. I see something in you. In other words, who you are precedes what you do.

If my professor had said, “Work harder and I’ll give you an “A” in the class,” I would have found this very unmotivating. But because she first called out something about who I was, I wanted to work to discover my full potential. What if the Sermon on the Mount was about embracing the fullness of life that God wants to offer us? But before He unpacks what we do, Jesus calls us out for who we are.

Reading: Matthew 5:1-12

Discussion Questions:

  • Do you believe that you are noticed by God? Look at the verses in Matthew 5:1-12 – what do they say about how God views you?
    • How to these views contrast against what the world values?
    • How do these views contrast with how you view yourself?
  • We often live towards what people call out in us – if someone says, “That shirt looks great on you.” Guess what? You’re going to wear it again…and probably often. This is why Instagram has become popular for teens – for better or worse. How has someone encouraged you in the past that effected how you view yourself?
  • How can you call out the best in others?
  • God sees you first, before your actions. How does God’s view of us impact you personally?

Elementary Focus:

Title:  The Heart Matters

Bottom Line:  God is focused on the heart, not our actions

Verse:  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  Matthew 5:8

Morning Time: Talk to your child about their upcoming day.  Remind them that God is focused on their heart and not just their actions.  Spend a few minutes praying with your child about their day and that God will guide them through it.

Preschool Focus:

Passage:  Matthew 5:1-12 :  Jesus wants me to follow Him with my whole heart

Cuddle Time:  Talk with your child about their day.  Remind them that God is focused on their heart and attitude, not just their actions.  Pray and ask God to help our help our heart and attitude be happy, so we can be kind to others.