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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Journey to the Cross - Blessed are the Meek

"Gi Gi," Noah demanded. "You're going the wrong way. You need to take 9A."



"Noah," I said. "I like taking Butler. I know that way better."



"But it's longer," he said. "It's not even a highway."



I went to laughing. Noah was only 6 and one of his favorite activities was to study maps. He had most of the major highways in the country memorized. Going 9A hadn’t occurred to me because the entrance from the mall was new and I wasn’t completely sure how to get there. I guess I could have asked Noah.



"Noah," I said. "Gi Gi doesn't always take the shortest way. She has ways she likes to drive. Besides, Butler is a highway.”



“No it’s not,” he said. “It has red lights.”



“Highway just means main road. Expressways don’t usually have red lights except on entrance and exit ramps but highways might or might not have red lights. Think about Phillips Highway. It is a main road but has red lights. Noah, you’re really smart but Gi Gi wants you to be humble too. I drive all over the country and know a lot about roads. Since you like roads, you could learn more about them from me if you let me teach you. Sometimes when people are very smart, they get arrogant and think they know everything. Do you know the word arrogant?”



He didn’t so I explained the difference between humility and arrogance. “To be humble is to be teachable. People who are smart and humble do great things because they never stop learning. Gi Gi wants you to always be learning.”



To be meek is to show patience and humility. The definition of humility is to demonstrate meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit and not be arrogant or prideful. My favorite definition of humility is teachable. I’ve also noticed that when I refuse God’s teaching, God kindly humiliates me. Humiliate means to lower ones pride, dignity, or self-respect. It usually takes a while for me to appreciate God’s kindness. (www.dictionary.com)



The third Beatitude we will study is, “Blessed are the meek.” The promise is that the meek shall inherit the earth. I guess inheriting the earth is worth a little humiliation.


Morning Meditation



Read Matthew 5:5.



Matt 5:5

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are — no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. The Message



Allow yourself to be content with who you are.

• Think of everything you have and let yourself be grateful.





Morning Prayer



• Ask God to help you become humble without having to be humiliated.

• If you’re brave, pray for patience.

• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.

• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.

• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.





Morning Bible Study



Some confuse meekness with low self-esteem. When complimented on her cooking, my grandma would invariably point out what was wrong with it. We all smiled, knowing the food was delicious. I always wondered if she knew how good her food was.



I’ll share with you what I’ve observed about people who seem to be meek. They know who they are and are content with it. They don’t put on airs. Because they’re content with themselves, they are content with others, so people feel good when they’re around them. The meek aren’t surprised when they’re wrong and are willing to grow and change. Little embarrasses or surprises these paragons of virtue and they can easily laugh at themselves.



Compare and contrast the below translations and paraphrases of Matthew 5:5.



Matt 5:5

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. KJV



Blessed (happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous-- with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the meek (the mild, patient, long-suffering), for they shall inherit the earth!

AMP



God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them. NLT



What do you think meek means?

• What behaviors have you observed from the meek?

• What do you think “inherit the earth” means?




As with other beatitudes, In Matthew 5:5, Jesus was quoting ancient words from the Bible. Read Psalms 27:11.



Ps 37:11

But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. AMP



How is this similar to Matthew 5:5?

• What does it add?




There are similar passages in the New Testament. Read James 4:10.



James 4:10

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. NASU



Where are we to humble ourselves?

• What is God’s promise to us?




Read 1 Peter 3:8-9.



1 Peter 3:8-9

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. NASU



What kind of spirit are we to have?

• What are signs of that spirit?

• What is the promise?




And finally read the paraphrase of 1 Peter 5:5-7 from The Message.



1 Peter 5:5-7

And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for — God has had it with the proud, But takes delight in just plain people. So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. The Message



What should the young do?

• How should a leader act?

• Why are both of these signs of humility?

• What does God take delight in?

• What is the promise?

• How are we supposed to live?




Humility is both wonderful and elusive. Just as soon as you think you have it, its gone. There is a story that floats around the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Humility is critical to recovery in 12 Step recovery programs. An AA group decided to give a button to the man who was the most humble. When he wore the button to the next meeting, they took it away.


Application



In my last career, it was easier to pretend I was important. I could dress up in a suit, stay in 5 Star Hotels, and look and act like the rest of the “successful” people. When you live in campgrounds, sometimes miss showers, and travel with a dog, you get a better picture of where you fit in this world.



I’m a mother and not above using coercion to spend time with my adult children. On the most recent missionary journey, I called my son. “Chris, Kelley visited me on this journey and so far, you haven’t. I realize you gave me a grandson and that’s a lot of points towards ‘favorite child status’ but all the little things Kelley does are starting to add up. If you aren’t careful, she’ll get ahead again.”



“Mom,” Chris laughed, “I’ll be in Los Angeles on business in two weeks. Why don’t you meet me there?” I was in North Dakota and it didn’t seem possible but I wasn’t passing up the rare opportunity to be alone with my son. Knowing I could do all things in Christ, I started driving like a mad woman.



“What about bringing Noah?” I asked hopefully. “I’ll take care of him.”



Mom, I’m not bringing Noah. I’ll have to be enough.”



“Will you stay in the camper?” I asked excitedly. Silence met me on the other end. Chris hates dirt, germs, heat, and bugs. He wears water shoes in the shower of a Hilton. He went on his first camping trip at 3 months and screamed the entire time. His attitude about camping never improved. While I waited for an answer, I knew he was picturing getting dressed for a business meeting at a campground bathhouse. The next time I heard from him, he had found a dog-friendly luxury hotel with wireless high-speed internet.



My first sign of trouble was when I pulled into the Embassy Suites at the Los Angeles Airport and saw a parking garage with a sign that said “6’ 6” Clearance.” Sighing, I pulled next to a sign that said “absolutely no parking” and went inside.



As I climbed out of Happy, the Bellman squinted, trying to read the words on Happy’s side. He must have decided I was a delivery truck and not a customer because he didn’t meet me with a cart or offer to help with luggage. I was relieved because I had no idea how I was going to get my stuff into the Embassy Suites. The only thing that resembled a suitcase was under the bench seat cushions. To get to it would require removing the bicycle on the back and laying the cushions on the ground. I was too intimidated by the formal Bellman to create such a scene.



Since Chris was stuck in the Atlanta airport, I had to register. For me, registering meant paying the $25 per night pet fee and signing a formal pet contract where I agreed to pay for damages, walk her in certain areas, and about 10 other legal points. Do I need my lawyer to travel with my dog? I wondered as I read and signed.



“Where do I park?” I asked. “My van won’t fit in your garage?” Notice that I didn’t say RV.



Your van won’t fit?” she asked incredulously.



OK, it’s an RV,” I confessed. “It’s over 8 feet tall.”



She stared and I felt myself withering. What was wrong? I wondered. I’d put on my best casual clothes. As I followed her eyes to my faded, wrinkled clothing with a stain on the shirt; I realized how hard campground Laundromats were on clothes. There was a shopping trip in my future. Finally, she said, “You’ll have to park on the street.” I supposed that was better than being told I’d have to enter by a side entrance.



“But there are no spots,” I argued, knowing parallel parking wasn’t my strong suit.



“You’ll have to wait for one to open up. We have no other parking. Be sure you check signs for street cleaning times and move your RV at the right time or it will be towed.”



Great, I thought as I went back in search of a parking place. Finally, I found a spot along the park in front of the hotel. This must be where I agreed to walk Belle. The sign said “Street Cleaning, Tuesday 8-10 AM.” Since it was Wednesday, I was safe on that front.



Next came the difficult task of getting Happy level. If Happy isn’t level, Happy isn’t happy, and Happy shuts down the refrigerator for revenge. Briefly, I considered carrying the refrigerated food into the room but the projected humiliation of carrying multiple bags of groceries through the lush lobby stopped me. As I pulled forward, backward, and realigned along the curb looking at the levels, I wondered if the Bellman was watching. I refused to get out the greasy blocks and put them under the tires.



After parking, I sat down to decide the best way to get my stuff into the hotel without making a spectacle. Aha, I thought looking at the travel bag holding my devotional books. It had a little room left. If I finished filling it up and took it to the room, I could return with an empty bag for a second trip. As I packed, Belle began barking frantically, jumping up and down because she didn’t want to be left behind. I tried to calm her worries. “Don’t worry. You’re going with me.” Could the Bellman hear Belle’s barking? Was there something about barking in the contract?



I looked at Belle’s dog dish, realizing I should take that up on my first trip. It’s a clever design, made for traveling. One side holds water and the other side is for food. Knowing I would be there 2 nights, I filled the dog food side to its capacity.



As I climbed out of Happy, I worried I was carrying too much stuff but I had a sore foot and wanted to walk as little as possible. I left the RV, dragging a nervous Belle on a leash, a rolling computer bag holding an overstuffed and unzipped travel bag, a purse, and a dog dish.



Trying to get the hotel door open was a frustrating battle with balance that I lost. The travel bag went tumbling off the computer, spilling unmentionables on the pavement. Quickly, I stuffed everything back in, casting furtive glances for the now missing Bellman.



As I went inside, I realized I didn’t know where the elevators were. Not in a mood to go on a hunt, I walked back to the front desk, to the same woman who had checked me in. I looked at the check in line and decided I could ask my quick question without waiting in line again. “Where are the elevators?”



“What room are you in?” she asked. I told her and she pointed. As I walked off, a glaring man stomped to the counter, clearly wondering why I had jumped ahead. Belle saw the scary stranger huff up and bolted, catching me by surprise. As I jerked to balance myself, the dog dish went flying, throwing dog food all over the lobby and everyone in line. As I looked at the dog food, covering a 15-foot square area, I didn’t know what to do. I knelt down and starting picking it up with my hands. “Maybe she’s hungry and will help you clean it up,” the scary man suggested, as he brushed himself off.



Just leave it alone,” the woman said from behind the desk as she picked up a microphone. “We’ll send someone to clean it up.”



Still on the floor, I looked up at the woman behind the desk and everyone in line and said, “I used to know how to act in hotels like this.” My humbling realization was that I was no longer like the sophisticated business people in that line. I was a woman on the floor, cleaning up dog food. The worst part of the realization was that instead of being embarrassed, I was amused. I loved my life as an executive, but I also love my new life. If inheriting the earth includes cleaning up dog food, I’m OK with that.



Do you know who you are today? Are you at ease with it? As you go through your day:

If something embarrasses you, be teachable and look for the lesson.

• If you’re self conscious, ask God to help you accept who you are.

• If you find yourself putting on airs, notice whom you are trying to impress and ask God why.

• Be yourself. It’s good enough.

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