A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

The beatitudes Jesus shared during His Sermon on the Mount challenge the way we think and act. Sometimes we can go entire days and weeks without considering our attitude—but Christ’s words in the beatitudes pull at difficult places in our hearts. Read Matthew 5:1-12. As you reflect on the beatitudes, consider the following:

First, they are inseparable. Each beatitude leads to another, like the steps of a staircase. The beatitudes point to the nature of Christ, and if we want to be like Christ, we cannot pick and choose the parts of Him we want to reflect—we must choose all of Him.

Second, they are instructive. As we read them, we learn from them. We ask God to mold our attitudes to fit His, and we ask God to help us live in obedience.

Third, they are interdependent. The beatitudes are not a cafeteria menu to choose from, but an entire mindset and lifestyle centered around Christ. He is the ultimate source of our blessedness.

So what are the beatitudes? They are not the life that we live to receive blessing; they are the life that the blessed live for the King. This leads us to ask: “What does blessed mean?” In Matthew 5, the Greek word used is makarios, which translates to the word happy. But the English word happy is overloaded with excess baggage. It’s superficial, temporary, and solely based on circumstances. It doesn’t last.

However, this kind of happy, this kind of blessed, has a different meaning. It refers to an overflowing joy and satisfaction that can only come from experiencing God’s glory. This is not the blessing of financial wealth or success at work. It is the blessing God extended to the Israelites in Numbers 6:22-26, the blessing of His presence: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (vv. 24-26).

Jesus’ introduction to the Sermon on the Mount is a difficult teaching when everything inside of us wants to do the opposite—but we must remember that the beatitudes are not a heavy burden, not something we grit our teeth to accomplish. They are blessings, and God will help us live them out.

Prayer: Lord, reveal Yourself to me as I read through these beatitudes. Help me to center my life around You and grow in obedience to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Check out more from Dr. Michael Youssef, here!

About The Author

Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even before he was born, it is clear that God had a vision for Michael Youssef. His mother was in poor health when she became pregnant with Michael, and because his life was in danger at the time of birth, the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. An abortion was scheduled. But God intervened and sent the family pastor to reassure them that God was involved in this pregnancy. He told them not to be afraid and that the child would be "born to serve the Lord." Michael's parents accepted the pastor's message as a message from God and obeyed. His mother gave birth, and lived to see him give his life to the Lord at the age of sixteen.

Believing that God had called him out of Egypt, Michael sought an exit visa in a time in which no university student was allowed to have a passport or leave the country. God intervened again, and miraculously he managed to acquire a visa. He immigrated to Australia, where he studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, was ordained as a pastor, and met Elizabeth who became his wife.

The Youssefs came to America in 1977, and in 1978 Michael received a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Then he earned a doctorate in social anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael served nearly ten years in the Haggai Institute, traveling around the world more than 32 times, teaching courses in evangelism and leadership. He rose to the position of Managing Director at the age of 31 years. The family settled in Atlanta, and in 1984, Michael became a citizen of the United States, making his dream of many years come true.

He founded The Church of The Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adults with the mission of "Equipping the Saints and Searching for the Lost". The church has since grown to be a congregation of over 3,000 people today. This church has driven the international ministry of Leading the Way. While it is heard by millions at home and abroad, behind every message preached through radio waves, is the heart of a pastor, willing to nurture and care for these people. Clearly God has uniquely equipped Dr. Youssef to speak to a global audience. The path he has taken has given him an understanding and firm grasp of the Scriptures that transcend cultures. He preaches, teaches and calls with a sincere, based on the authority of the inerrant, inspired Word of God. With his personal knowledge of the Holy Land, its history and culture, Dr. Michael Youssef transmits life to listeners all over the world.

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