Blessed are the pure in heart….

……for they shall see God.By now, you may have noticed a change between the first three beatitudes and these later ones, from four to seven. They, seem like cruel, paradoxical riddles, whereas these four are less puzzling.  

This week, find that the sixth beatitude, is like a crystal-clear gem; a gift of a spiritual truth which means what it says. It has been described as “the bright particular star in the constellation”.

Today, we encounter its clear and simple truth.  

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Earlier in the week, there were two news stories which leapt out at me, and both were about the trouble that using a mobile phone can get you into.  

The first and high profile one was at the night of the Oscars’ award ceremony.

This was one of those nights and events, when the very moment that you need to be on your game, and at your best, and when you have to focus and do the only thing that matters. The person responsible for preparing and handing the correct envelope to the Warren Beatty for the award of Best Picture, had been tweeting, when he should have been concentrating on the job in hand. And at that moment, the spotlight was taken away from the movie that won Best Picture, namely “Moonlight”. And made a mockery of those involved in the show, embarrassing not only the stars of both movies, but also Price Waterhouse who had been entrusted with the handling of the administration of the votes. All because of foolish tweeting on a mobile phone.

The other news item, which is much more serious, is that a long overdue law has been passed to fine people £200 ($245) and hit them with 6 penalty points on their licence if caught using a mobile phone whilst driving. The evidence already exists that you are 4 times, that’s 4 times more likely to have an accident whilst driving if you are using your mobile phone to speak or text. And, on the day that the law was passed, a senior police officers was quoted to say that the effect of using a phone has the same impact on performance as being under the influence intoxicating drink.

Both are examples of how the mind can be distracted from where our focus of attention should be. Clarity of vision cannot be achieved if our thoughts are being pulled every which way. So, when something is important or demands our complete attention, we cannot juggle, or balance agendas or priorities. The most important person, or thing in our life, must always be God. Remember the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me . . . “

And so, if we dare to allow ourselves to be distracted, we are in danger of the sin idolatry.

We often sing: “The greatest thing in all my life is knowing you”

And when we have that singleness of mind and purity of purpose, we shall see God.

One scholar puts it like this:

“What is purity of heart? ‘Heart’ in the Bible, usually means the whole personality, it involves mind and will, not only the emotions. Two meanings are perhaps dominant

– rightness of mind and singleness of motive.”

So, if our thinking is clear headed, we can begin to experience the purity required to see God. Too often, our clear headedness is impaired, by the sins of over indulgence in alcohol and other substances, or even through neglecting our health through lack of sleep or a good diet. It’s amazing how we fool ourselves into thinking that cheating on being the best that we can be, is somehow a kindness or a treat to ourselves. Take getting sleep for example, I love a good night’s sleep. It refreshes, rests and restores the mind and the body, but how often do we deny ourselves this most natural and wholesome tonic, in favour of burning the candle at both ends. Ironically, there is even a mobile phone app, which encourages us to set the alarm so we can get to bed in time to make sure we get our optimum sleep requirement. This, of course proves that it’s not the phone’s fault, but the user’s weak mind and ill-discipline, which gets so easily distracted. But, when you get that sleep, you are set to tackle the day by giving your very best to God, and those who depend on you most.

And that is what God requires of us, clarity of thought, so we can give our best to Him.

Singleness of motive, on the other hand, is less about the ‘how’ of purity, and more about the ‘why’.

“Jesus said, that “harlots” given to lust would go into the kingdom before the Pharisees – who were double minded”

Blessed are the pure, for they shall see God!

Because purity of heart is about the intention and its honesty and goodness, and not about the reputation that someone might have earned for their past mistakes, or successes.

When people go into politics, they usually enter that field with good intentions to work for change that matters in the lives of those they serve. But few remain pure from the alloy of horse-trading in what used to be smoke filled rooms and the compromised integrity when sordid deals that have to be made in the negotiation process.

The pure in heart have a clarity of vision in the world and in their lives.

They are not diverted by conflicted loyalties, or impure motives. The pure in heart, “see God in the world about them when others are blind; the pure in heart are aware of the Divine Will in their lives even in the midst of pain, when others are rebellious or despairing.”

This means that purity of heart, allows us to appreciate the beauty of God’s world; from a crocus, or daffodil in bloom to the first buds of spring time as they burst into the light. To hear the music of birdsong, or the joy in the laughter of the ones you love.

Purity of heart, has no axe to grind, nor score to settle, because the person who is pure of heart, sees God in the face of their sisters and brothers. Purity of heart also embodies many of the other beatitudes, such as mercy, hunger and thirst to see right prevail.

Purity of heart, is a display of complete transparency, where there no guile, or hidden agenda, only grace and peace and the understanding that we are loved by God, and that it is enough, as we walk His path and rejoice in belonging to Him and being in His presence.

But this is no easy street, as we find that purity of heart, is a constant struggle to achieve, because of our sinful nature.

Which is why we read the Psalms and pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51), and “Search me O God, and know my heart today, try me O Lord, and know the thoughts I pray, see if there be some wicked way in me, cleanse me from every sin and set me free.” (Psalm 139)

And for the last two weeks, we sang a hymn by Katie Barlcay Wilkinson that could have been sung this week also;

“May the mind of Christ my Saviour,

Live in me from day to day,

By His love and power controlling

all I do and say.”

For the purity of heart we crave, is so simple, yet elusive, unless we constantly and daily seek God’s presence and cleansing balm in the healing room we call prayer, it will remain as rare in our lives as diamonds. God is source of our desire, and when wait upon the Lord, and gaze upon His presence, we will find that purity we seek allowing us to see Him, and allowing His glorySermon 6 Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

By now, you may have noticed a change between the first three beatitudes and these later ones, from four to seven. They, seem like cruel, paradoxical riddles, whereas these four are less puzzling.  

This week, find that the sixth beatitude, is like a crystal-clear gem;

a gift of a spiritual truth which means what it says. It has been described as “the bright particular star in the constellation”.

Today, we encounter its clear and simple truth.  

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Earlier in the week, there were two news stories which leapt out at me, and both were about the trouble that using a mobile phone can get you into.  

The first and high profile one was at the night of the Oscars’ award ceremony.

This was one of those nights and events, when the very moment that you need to be on your game, and at your best, and when you have to focus and do the only thing that matters. The person responsible for preparing and handing the correct envelope to the Warren Beatty for the award of Best Picture, had been tweeting, when he should have been concentrating on the job in hand. And at that moment, the spotlight was taken away from the movie that won Best Picture, namely “Moonlight”. And made a mockery of those involved in the show, embarrassing not only the stars of both movies, but also Price Waterhouse who had been entrusted with the handling of the administration of the votes. All because of foolish tweeting on a mobile phone.

The other news item, which is much more serious, is that a long overdue law has been passed to fine people £200 ($245) and hit them with 6 penalty points on their licence if caught using a mobile phone whilst driving. The evidence already exists that you are 4 times, that’s 4 times more likely to have an accident whilst driving if you are using your mobile phone to speak or text. And, on the day that the law was passed, a senior police officers was quoted to say that the effect of using a phone has the same impact on performance as being under the influence intoxicating drink.

Both are examples of how the mind can be distracted from where our focus of attention should be. Clarity of vision cannot be achieved if our thoughts are being pulled every which way. So, when something is important or demands our complete attention, we cannot juggle, or balance agendas or priorities. The most important person, or thing in our life, must always be God. Remember the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me . . . “

And so, if we dare to allow ourselves to be distracted, we are in danger of the sin idolatry.

We often sing: “The greatest thing in all my life is knowing you”

And when we have that singleness of mind and purity of purpose, we shall see God.

One scholar puts it like this:

“What is purity of heart? ‘Heart’ in the Bible, usually means the whole personality, it involves mind and will, not only the emotions. Two meanings are perhaps dominant

– rightness of mind and singleness of motive.”

So, if our thinking is clear headed, we can begin to experience the purity required to see God. Too often, our clear headedness is impaired, by the sins of over indulgence in alcohol and other substances, or even through neglecting our health through lack of sleep or a good diet. It’s amazing how we fool ourselves into thinking that cheating on being the best that we can be, is somehow how a kindness or a treat to ourselves. Take getting sleep for example, I love a good night’s sleep. It refreshes, rests and restores the mind and the body, but how often do we deny ourselves this most natural and wholesome tonic, in favour of burning the candle at both ends. Ironically, there is even a mobile phone app, which encourages us to set the alarm so we can get to bed in time to make sure we get our optimum sleep requirement. This, of course proves that it’s not the phone’s fault, but the user’s weak mind and ill-discipline, which gets so easily distracted. But, when you get that sleep, you are set to tackle the day by giving your very best to God, and those who depend on you most.

And that is what God requires of us, clarity of thought, so we can give our best to Him.

 Singleness of motive, on the other hand, is less about the ‘how’ of purity, and more about the ‘why’.

“Jesus said, that “harlots” given to lust would go into the kingdom before the Pharisees – who were double minded”

Blessed are the pure, for they shall see God!

Because purity of heart is about the intention and its honesty and goodness, and not about the reputation that someone might have earned for their past mistakes, or successes.

When people go into politics, they usually enter that field with good intentions to work for change that matters in the lives of those they serve. But few remain pure from the alloy of horse-trading in what used to be smoke filled rooms and the compromised integrity when sordid deals that have to be made in the negotiation process.

The pure in heart have a clarity of vision in the world and in their lives.

They are not diverted by conflicted loyalties, or impure motives. The pure in heart, “see God in the world about them when others are blind; the pure in heart are aware of the Divine Will in their lives even in the midst of pain, when others are rebellious or despairing.”

This means that purity of heart, allows us to appreciate the beauty of God’s world; from a crocus, or daffodil in bloom to the first buds of spring time as they burst into the light. To hear the music of birdsong, or the joy in the laughter of the ones you love.

Purity of heart, has no axe to grind, nor score to settle, because the person who is pure of heart, sees God in the face of their sisters and brothers. Purity of heart also embodies many of the other beatitudes, such as mercy, hunger and thirst to see right prevail.

Purity of heart, is a display of complete transparency, where there no guile, or hidden agenda, only grace and peace and the understanding that we are loved by God, and that it is enough, as we walk His path and rejoice in belonging to Him and being in His presence.

But this is no easy street, as we find that purity of heart, is a constant struggle to achieve, because of our sinful nature.

Which is why we read the Psalms and pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51), and “Search me O God, and know my heart today, try me O Lord, and know the thoughts I pray, see if there be some wicked way in me, cleanse me from every sin and set me free.” (Psalm 139)

And for the last two weeks, we sang a hymn by Katie Barlcay Wilkinson that could have been sung this week also;

“May the mind of Christ my Saviour,

Live in me from day to day,

By His love and power controlling

all I do and say.”

For the purity of heart we crave, is so simple, yet elusive, unless we constantly and daily seek God’s presence and cleansing balm in the healing room we call prayer, it will remain as rare in our lives as diamonds. God is source of our desire, and when we wait upon the Lord, and gaze upon His presence, we will find that purity we seek allowing us to see Him, and allowing His glory to shine through our lives as He fashions us into the crystal clear gems He has called us to become.

Amen.

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