This week we are excited to welcome Alyssa Nelson to the blog. She’s a vibrant, young college student, with a passion for Jesus. She loves to help lead worship in her local church and you can find her teaching teenagers, inspiring them to seek the word of God enthusiastically. You will notice a common thread in this week’s devotions. It is difficult to consider the topic of Blessed without looking at the Beatitudes. Alyssa starts us off and we pray you enjoy your time in the word, verse by verse!
For a printable version of today’s devotion, click here >>>>Blessed Devo Six- Alyssa Nelson
The Beatitudes are the very first portion of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5:3-11. I love to put myself into the middle of this story, as a young woman with a heart for teaching I don’t know what in the world I would teach if a large crowd started to gather around me. Would I try to address hot topic issues from a gospel perspective? Would I talk about some of my favorite teaching points like the attributes of God or spiritual disciplines? Or would I even be able to teach at the sight of so many people? But Jesus knows exactly what to say, Jesus begins to teach, describing who he says is blessed— something I would never think of, but that he knows we need to hear. It quickly becomes evident in all of Jesus’ descriptions of the blessed person they are lacking or have gone without something.
Blessed are the poor in spirit…blessed are those who mourn…blessed are those who hunger and thirst…words such as poor, mourn, and hunger are not typically associated with being blessed. After all, would we not caption a picture of our closest friends gathered for a delicious meal “I am so blessed!”?
Lacking and blessed seem contrary to the worldview, but reading the beatitudes paints us a picture of how God and his gifts become so much greater in our neediness.
Lacking opens way for us to see God as the Perfect Provider that gives to us life abundantly (John 10:10).
It helps me to consider those Jesus describes in His teaching:
- The poor in spirit are those who have come to the end of themselves to realize they cannot be self-sufficient.
- Those that mourn have been overcome with sadness as they grieve the loss of something or someone.
- The meek have given up ensuring that they are always validated and in the spotlight by putting the needs of others before themselves.
- Those that hunger and thirst for righteousness and the pure in heart have given up the things of this world to pursue the commands of God above anything else.
- The merciful have given up their pride to forgive others who have wronged them, and the peacemakers have given up the satisfaction of pursuing their individual desires and ideas to pursue godly unity, even when people are difficult.
- The persecuted give up the comfort of validation from others and even safety for the sake of making Jesus known.
Thousands of #blessed tags on social media are not under posts where people have lost everything and died to their own plans and desires, they are of people with things in abundance. So how do we reconcile this? The people Jesus describes have indeed died to themselves and lost or given up lots of things, but they are not blessed merely because of what they have given up but because of what they have gained.
The poor in spirit and the persecuted are now in the very Kingdom of an Almighty God. Those that mourn in loss now know the comfort of a gentle and lowly Savior who embraces them all the more tightly in their sorrow. The meek are now heirs who have inherited the Earth. Those that have pursued righteousness and not the “ways of the world” will not only be completely satisfied but will see God (verse 12). Those that have extended mercy in hurtful situations will know the most beautiful mercy from a just and holy God and those that have been peacemakers will be able to call this incredible God their Father! The people who are blessed have indeed given up many things, but they do not go without because in return they are given a relationship with God and the promise of an eternal weight of glory.
In total, to be blessed is to trade everything this world has to offer and to lay all our dreams and desires in the hands of God to receive Him.
Even in my short 21 years of life, I have seen God do this in my own life. I was 19 years old when I realized God was calling me to girls’ ministry. I was incredibly terrified, wondering how was I expected to throw away perfectly laid out, secure, good plans for a path that was so unknown. I attend a public college God called me to, how on earth was I going to be equipped for such a task? How would my friends and family react when I told them the calling God had given me? Was I truly willing to place my life’s plans in the hands of God to be used as he sees fit? My questions were many. God’s answer became vividly clear, he was going to give me life abundantly not because I had everything I had ever wanted, but because I would know Him more as he would work past my insecurities and despite my sins to make the gospel known. Amid COVID-19 he has made it even more clear. I knew that in giving me an avenue for online classes, God was making a way for me to continue doing ministry face to face with young students beyond the summer months. Was God really asking me to give up my college experience? Was he asking me to leave behind my friends and independence? Yes, he was, and even as I have worked through loneliness and confusion, they are all fleeting emotions when I watch young girls’ eyes light up at God’s word on Saturday mornings or sit over cups of coffee talking about the incredible ways of God in difficult seasons. As one of my wise friends said to me recently as I confessed moments of feeling alone and the future being so unknown, “God wants to show you more of himself.”
While we give up many things to be disciples of Christ, we gain exponentially. What makes us blessed is not having all the things that we have decided we need, even if those are good things, it is to see God for who he truly is and to know him deeply and personally. To do this may require us to be in seasons of mourning or to persevere in moments of persecution but it is the reward of knowing an infinite God that makes us blessed despite difficult circumstances.
To be blessed is to know that I indeed am poor in spirit, but to know I can rest in the promise of an incredible inheritance as the daughter of the Most High.
1- Read Matthew 5:3-11. Choose part of this passage to verse map in your journal.
2- Read Philippians 4:11-13. What can we learn from Paul’s words?
3- Often we think of deciding between good and bad. Alyssa writes, “What makes us blessed is not having all the things that we have decided we need, even if those are good things, it is to see God for who he truly is and to know him deeply and personally.” Is there any area you feel God is asking you to give something up in order to gain more of Him? Pray over that area of your life in your quiet time.
Alyssa Nelson is a junior at the best college on earth, NC State University (go pack!) where she pursuing a degree in religious studies and psychology. She has heart for learning and showing other women how to fall in love with God’s word. Her favorite things are a good iced coffee, a good book, good music, and combining all those things as she reads the word with others.
Alyssa also serves as a Young Women’s Director during the summer at Calvary Baptist Church in Roanoke Rapids, NC.