Day 1

Present and Future Joy

from the The Beatitudes reading plan

Matthew 5:1-16, 1 Chronicles 16:28-34, John 16:22-24

BY Amanda Bible Williams

Text: Matthew 5:1-16, 1 Chronicles 16:28-34, John 16:22-24

Blessed are the spiritual zeros—the spiritually bankrupt, deprived and deficient, the spiritual beggars, those without a wisp of ‘religion’—when the kingdom of the heavens comes upon them.
– Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy

As believers in Jesus and His gospel of grace, we stand with one foot in the present and one in the future. In the present, right-here world, life is volatile and uncertain. And yet, we know the saying is true: This world is not our home. Our citizenship is in a greater, coming Kingdom—a Kingdom we will only know in part while we live here on earth (Philippians 3:20).

So how do we do that? How do we live in two worlds at the same time? How do we live in the reality of this present, imperfect world in light of the heavenly life to come?

At the beginning of Jesus’ longest recorded sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, He speaks eight blessings to the crowd. These blessings, known as the Beatitudes, shed light on the tension you and I are living in as women who trust our Savior, yet face actual pain, poverty, emptiness, and all manner of brokenness in our right-now lives.

The temptation is to see this list of blessings as a formula to a better, happier life. But as Dallas Willard puts it, “The Beatitudes simply cannot be ‘good news’ if they are understood as a set of ‘how-tos’ for achieving blessedness. They would then only amount to a new legalism” (Willard, Divine Conspiracy). So if the Beatitudes aren’t how-tos, what are they? Put simply, they are facts. They are truths of the kingdom of God.

Because of the finished work of Jesus on our behalf, the Beatitudes are not a mere wish list or to-do list; they are the blessings that are already ours in Christ. In the vast love, grace, mercy, and goodness of our Savior, the least are given the Kingdom. Those who hunger and mourn, the poor and the meek, the “spiritual zeros”—we are blessed with the riches of Christ. Not just later, but right now, right here.

No matter how comfortable the house, we’ll never feel fully at home in this world; we were made for the coming one. But while we’re here, we have a job to do. Our job is not to earn our blessings; Jesus did that. Our assignment is to be salt and and light to the very world that makes us fidget with discomfort. As those who carry the life of Jesus around in us, we have a message of hope to offer a dying world (2 Corinthians 4:10). We hold out the Word of Life, inviting our neighbors “to taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

As we study this short but impactful passage at the beginning of Matthew 5, may our hearts assume a posture of gratitude toward the God who grants us His very Kingdom through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son. And as we give thanks for the blessings that are secured for us in Christ, may we be quick to scatter the knowledge of Jesus to those around us.

The Kingdom is His, and all are welcome.

Post Comments (182)

182 thoughts on "Present and Future Joy"

  1. Teresa Donley says:

    RHONDA J – I just had to answer you as soon as I read your comment. I, too, watch my words to not set off a bad day with my husband. On Facebook today I saw a meme I just have to share with you…the meme says, “When you wanna say it…but the Holy Spirit be like…” There’s a picture of a seagull having its beak held shut by a yellow hand. I laughed right out loud. That’s certainly a picture of me sometimes. Praying that you’ll be able to maintain the peace by continuing not to engage in silly arguments.

  2. Traci Gendron says:

    I’m feeling a little crazy here. I always looked at the Beatitudes as fact, not something we were striving for. It was a fact that as I mourned, I was comforted. I also realized that I did this study awhile back. I opened my book and I had written comments in it. It will be interesting to see where I land now compared to the first time studying this.

  3. LindaK says:

    Good morning Shes❤️ Lynne From Alabama glad you were able to go to worship service in person. Hopefully there will be more opportunities in the future. CeeGee I loved your comment “don’t let the salt linger in your hands so long that it looses its effectiveness” Be Blessed today dear sisters❤️

  4. Rhonda J. says:

    Thank you @Michelle P. for mentioning “The Miracles of Jesus!” It peaked my interest so I headed over there and the “first day” lesson was perfect and lined up what I am leading tomorrow in our “Enduring Chronic Pain” group at church. The chapter is on “When God doesn’t Move Mountains!’ We seem to struggle with “healing miracles” and how it ties to faith when you have chronic pain. Yes, we pray and want to see healing, but the reading today also points out that miracles were not the point, receiving Jesus and knowing all that He “can” do is what is most important! She explains it very well on the first devotional which I can share in class!

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