So sorry I didn’t get this posted last week, but alas I was enjoying the wonderful Colorado mountains! Please find below my teaching notes to Pt. 7 of the teaching series, “BE: The Kingdom Here and Now- Blessed are the Pure in Heart.”
I get my oil changed at the Grease Monkey near my house. They always bring the air filter in to show me. It always has all this stuff on it- dirt, grime, bugs… And sometimes they tell I need to replace it! The whole purpose of the filter is to keep the things out that would cause my engine to struggle to function and maybe even quit altogether!
This next Beatitude is sort of like that- Jesus is talking about this idea of BEING “pure in heart.” As we’ve noted in this series, the Beatitudes are all about those Jesus would entrust his kingdom to. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful…”
And then this next one: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Matt. 5:8 NASB
This is a very intriguing Beatitude because Jesus says, “They will see God!” We hear this and we think this all about after we die, so we think it’s irrelevant here and now. But if you consider that our lives could be dramatically affected here and now in our present moment, that’s different! That, what IF all these Beatitudes were just that- for here and now?? That, in respect to this Beatitude: IF you are pure in heart, you get to see God!”
Anyone ever have Cataracts? Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens inside the eye – which is normally clear. A normally clear lens allows light to pass through to the back of the eye, so you can see well-defined images. If a part of the lens becomes opaque light does not pass through easily and your vision becomes blurry – like looking through cloudy water or a fogged-up window. The cloudier the lens the worse your vision will be.
My new glasses: They are sort of “trifocals!” And it’s critical which part of the lens I look through if I want to see something clearly! I get a very distorted view when I use the wrong lens!
If you have cataracts or a bad eyeglass prescription you have a distorted view of the world and you may be tempted to think that everyone else sees the world that way too! That’s just it: we can truly think everyone sees life like we do- blurred and distorted!
I didn’t know how really blind I was at a distance until Jo Ann kept informing me about just how blind I was!
I couldn’t read the signs on the road ahead and would ask her to help me. And sometimes I’d actually argue with her about how correct she was regarding the said signs, especially when we were traveling on unfamiliar roads. I would actually think, “Are you seeing that right?” We are tempted, for whatever reasons, to think that someone is lying to us… UNTIL WE CAN SEE IT TOO! Before that we have a distorted and blurred view of life!
Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will SEE God!” We need to literally take Jesus at his word and engage what he’s saying for here and now in our present moment! That we can SEE God in our present moments! This is what Jesus is trying to get us to see!
Jesus SEES in a Way that We Cannot See!
It’s not because we weren’t created or made to see like he does, BUT because we become BLIND! We develop spiritual cataracts and really bad eyesight! Is it possible that Jesus is telling us what we SHOULD or COULD be able to SEE? That IF we “are pure in heart” we can SEE God??
When we understand this dynamic of BEING pure in heart our vision will be restored and healed from this “blindness” we have that we are so unaware of (because we don’t know we can see more clearly!) and we will be able to SEE and LIVE in the way God intended for us to live! That, we will SEE GOD!
Too often our culture can’t see God in us because we can’t see God and how he wants to live through us! We must confess that we have a blindness, an inability to see how we should live, were created to live, how God wants us to live! Only by inviting Jesus into our lives to shape and develop us to BE “pure in heart” do we begin to SEE how God wants us to live here and now in our present moments.
SEEING God Face to Face!
It is said of Moses that he “saw the invisible God!” (Heb. 11:27). It also says in Deut. 34:10 “Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” Here’s another verse, Exodus 33:11 “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.” Wouldn’t that be awesome??
So when Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall SEE God” this is not in the category of the impossible! Moses was human!! He was like us!! Yet, he is known as a “friend of God” and someone who interacted with God “face to face!”
But this isn’t how Moses’ relationship with God began! Look back at his first encounter with God at the burning bush. That when God began to speak to Moses from the burning bush it says in Exodus 3:6 “Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God!”
Do you see that?? He hid his face when he first encountered God!! What a transformation that took place in his life to go from hiding his face from God to having face to face encountered with God, his friend!
Is it possible that even in this life of faith and church that we have “hid our face” and can be blind to when it comes to seeing God, blind to his activities, blind to his presence, with a distorted view of how he wants us to live and relate?
Some of you have that deal that you can’t see to read unless you move it real close to you!
Vision Becomes Clearer as You Move Towards God!
It is not incidental that the story of Moses and Pharaoh is interwoven. Think about this: Moses was a murderer, he had faults, issues, and imperfections. So, whatever it means to BE “pure in heart” we know that it’s possible for you and me, no matter where we are right now in our present moment, to live in that reality!
What was the key? Every time God spoke into Moses’ life he MOVED towards God, got closer to him, and allowed his life to be changed and shaped by God’s presence- that’s how his vision of God and God’s desires and expectations became clearer!
BUT… God also spoke to Pharaoh! Yet here’s someone who repeatedly resisted the Lord. His heart became harder and harder to the things of God. His vision or how he saw God became more and more distorted and blurred, leading him to make some very poor and tragic decisions!
Think about it… Pharaoh saw every miracle, every sign, every wonder that Moses saw! He was literally surrounded by the presence and power of God! Sometimes we say, “Oh, if God would just show up in my life or in the church or give me a sign, then I’d believe! If God would just do something in the visible, tangible world I live in, then I would believe!”
What you have in Moses and Pharaoh are two men who saw the same signs but made very different choices! Pharaoh chose NOT to believe but to war against God and his activity and purpose in the world, and it ended very tragically!
Here’s the thing: God moves. His presence is all around us. There are definite signs of his activities and purposes. But if you just ignore those things, you become “blind” to his presence, his activities, his purposes. You chose NOT to SEE!
Remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees? He said, “They were the blind leading the blind!” (Matt. 15:14). And yet, wasn’t Jesus standing right in front of them? Didn’t they see the miracles, the transformed lives, the healings he performed?? Why couldn’t they SEE GOD? They chose not to, they resisted and rejected the Kingdom of God and the principles of life that Jesus shared and lived!
Jesus can be standing right I front of you, his presence in this room, speaking, actively moving, wanting to be engaged in our lives, BUT THERE MUST BE OPENESS OF HEART TO SEE HIM!
SEEING God Through the Lens of Your Heart!
Ever jump into the ocean and open your eyes under water?? You literally can’t see anything! But jump into one of those Rocky Mt. lakes or springs and it’s amazing how much you can see simply because the water is so clear!
Illustration (Show my hiking filter): You can actually put this thing into a mud puddle, pump that water through the filter, and not only will the water be amazingly clear, you can drink it!
Jesus is trying to let us know that the way you SEE God is NOT through your eyes, but through your heart! The “filter” that removes all the impurities, the things that would keep you from seeing who God really is and what God is really doing, is your heart! When your heart is filled with impurities it distorts and makes your spiritual sight murky that it’s virtually impossible to see God.
How do we achieve “purity of heart?” Because only when there’s purity of heart can I SEE God!
Consider there is no moralizing in the Beatitudes. Jesus isn’t talking about your “moral actions” but your “motivation”- BEING “pure in heart!” Obviously your motivation affects your moral action, and that’s primarily why Jesus is NOT dealing with a list of “immoral actions” but addressing the “condition” of the “core” of your very BEING- your “heart!” (The “heart” biblically is symbolic of your “will/motivation”).
Jesus is NOT saying “If you live to this moral code or religious experience you will see God.” NO, he’s talking about SEEING God because you’re heart, the “filter” of your soul, is clean and pure! THEN you SEE God! But here’s the dilemma: This is NOT something you can do for yourself!
2 Chron. 16:9 “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” You see, God longs to show himself, to strengthen, those people!
YET, like Moses, with his faults, and like David with his sinfulness, of which the Bible says, “He was a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), we KNOW that even if you mess up or blow it you can still qualify as someone “after God’s own heart!”
Jesus is wanting us to look at the very core of our BEING and what would motivate us, drive us, and would take us to a place where we are desperate for God because you CANNOT be “pure in heart” without God’s help! You can do “damage control”- which is all about an “outside in” approach. But to have a “pure heart” we WILL NEED GOD’S HELP because it’s an “inside out” deal!
How does God help us to have a pure heart? Ez. 36:26 “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart, and give you a tender, responsive heart!” Wow! Do you SEE that?? God’s solution is to give you a NEW HEART! That even in your full humanity and “heart of flesh” God will dwell within us, replace our heart with his “purity of heart!”
So, what does that look like? Jer. 31:33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (In the OT the people would actually write the laws of God on their foreheads and chests, etc.). But God says there’s something far better and more powerful- He will “write His word on our hearts!” That means, you give God your life, he takes out your stony heart, gives you a new heart that is motivated by his word! And there’s nothing more pure than God’s Word because there is no manipulation or misguidedness found in it!!
Back to Moses– there’s this great encounter with God and Moses in Ex. 33. Moses has been on this incredible journey with God, seeing God “face to face” and he says to God, “Show me your glory!” And God basically responds to Moses with this: “Are you out of your mind? Moses, you CANNOT COMPLETELY SEE ME AND LIVE!” So, God hides Moses in a crevice in the rocks and walks past him so Moses can only see God’s backside! Isn’t that crazy??
What’s going on here?? Illustrate: All you campers out there… Ever see moths flit around your lantern? Moths don’t know what they want! They are drawn to the light but don’t know they can’t handle the light! Because what happens when a moth makes it somehow through the glass?? Yep, up in flames!
Moses is asking God something good. But God is telling Moses you cannot fully SEE me and live- you’ll be like a moth, because God is a “consuming fire!” SO, God let’s Moses SEE a part, a glimpse, because IF you SAW me COMPLETELY God’s HOLINESS would CONSUME Moses’ SINFULNESS! (You see this in the OT with the sacrifices…)
So here’s the thing… God wants us to SEE Him, but we can’t fully see him until the day we are completely like him- Jn. 3:2 “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.” So, what did God do to let us SEE him? HE SENT JESUS!
In John 1:14-18 Jesus says, “We beheld the glory of God!” That, “if we’ve SEEN him, we’ve SEEN the father!” He further says, “No one has fully seen the Father except the Son!” Yet, God makes it possible for us to SEE Him through the Son, Jesus Christ!
God had to come in human form so we COULD SEE HIM! SEE HIS HEART! SEE his kingdom. SEE his salvation! SEE his glory! In every respect, as mortal human beings, Jesus is the FILTER through which God SEES us and through which we SEE God!!
Without Jesus we would be consumed! But when we invite Jesus to dwell within us, when we surrender to follow him, become like him, pursue him constantly in deepening intimacy of relationship, we are made “pure in heart” and we SEE God! WE SEE WHO WE CAN BE IN CHRIST! WE SEE THE POSSIBILITIES! WE SEE WHAT CAN BE THE BEST LIFE POSSIBLE!
Take off my glasses… tough to see without these… but when I put them on it’s amazing what they do for me, what they let me SEE! Because too long I was adjusting to the world, to life, WITHOUT them; even refusing to wear them! But wow what a difference they make!!
Wow, what a difference Jesus makes in your life! He makes your heart pure and you SEE God! Who wants to experience that today?