The Blessing of Standing Up for What’s Right

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THE BLESSING OF STANDING UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

standingupforwhatsright

This is our eighth and final message in our series on the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount and today’s message is titled, “THE BLESSING OF STANDING UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT.” Keep in mind the series called SALT AND LIGHT on the Sermon on the Mount is far from over.

Matthew 5 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Overall Background: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This final beatitude is very different from the rest. It deals with a subject that is very painful and has brought great sorrow to the people of God through the centuries. It has tested the reality of their faith and the firmness of their convictions. In fact, I don’t like to talk about it much because I had to experience it growing up. The subject is Persecution. Simply defined, it means – “any form of harassment and aggression against you because of your faith in Jesus Christ.” I’m sure we’ve all heard of the persecution of the early church and through the Middle Ages, and even now in Russia, China, and the Middle East. Unfortunately, persecution is not that far away anymore. It’s already on your doorstep. Ask Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the Oregon-based Sweet Cakes by Melissa, who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple and were fined $135,000. Eventually, they were forced to close their business.

Aaron and Melissa Klein

Aaron and Melissa Klein

Sweet Cakes by Melissa

Sweet Cakes by Melissa

Klein Family

Klein Family

Application: What would you have done? Would you have stood up for righteousness or would you have given in? How would you handle persecution? Here’s a deeper question – Is there enough evidence in your life for the world persecute you? Are you saved?

Many of you have told me how much you have enjoyed this series. If you ask me, this is the most important message in this entire series on the Beatitudes. It is important for us individually, for our children, for our grandchildren, for our church, and for our nation’s future. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you like never before. 3 questions again:

I. WHY DOES PERSECUTION COME? 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…”

Background: Jesus makes it clear that persecution comes for righteousness sake. Now, what is righteousness? Remember, the fourth beatitude – Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” In this context, righteousness is not just the imputed righteousness of Christ – the righteousness that is accounted to us as Paul talks about it in Romans 4, the forensic righteousness – but it is the daily practical righteousness. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that brings about an external change. Because we are saved we begin to live a life that day-by-day pleases God, that step-by-step obeys His word, and that moment-by-moment looks more and more like Jesus Christ. There’s a difference in the way we walk, talk, see, and hear. There is a difference in the way we work, play, shop, and live in this world. There is a difference in the way we treat our friends and families. There is also a difference in the way we treat our enemies and our opponents. In short, it’s not the righteousness that saves but the righteousness that shows that I’m saved.

How does the world react to this kind of righteousness in us? Some people admire us. Some people aspire to be like us. But, there are others who avoid us and even attack us. This is persecution for righteousness sake. Jesus was actually quoting the Old Testament when He gave this beatitude. Psalm 37:12 The wicked plots against the just (righteous), And gnashes at him with his teeth. Psalm 119 157 Many are my persecutors and my enemies, Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies…161 Princes persecute me without a cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your word. But Jesus gave a deeper reason for this hatred. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, if you are persecuted for being godly, it’s because you have the kingdom of heaven. What is the kingdom of heaven? Do you remember the first beatitude? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The Kingdom of Heaven is the rule of God through the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who have received Jesus as their Savior. Remember what Paul said in Romans 14:17 “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Persecution is the assurance that the Holy Spirit is in your life. Listen carefully – “The real reason the world hates you is not you but the one who is in you.”

For e.g. I used to work at a job laying Cat 5’s all over the state. The guys I worked with knew what I was doing. Some of them were fine with me but others hated me and I never understood that. Maybe its because I wanted to go home rather than drink and go to the doll house.

Application: The question is not “Are you facing persecution?” The real question is “Are you godly?” 2 Tim. 3:12 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Here’s a different way of asking that question: “Do you have the Holy Spirit in your life?” If you’re not saved, then you don’t have the Holy Spirit and there’s no reason for the world to hate you.

II. HOW SHOULD WE HANDLE PERSECUTION? 

Background: Unfortunately, most messages end with – “Persecution proves that America is not a Christian nation anymore.” “It’s just gonna get worse and worse.” “It’s just the signs of the times.” The problem with these statements is that it is contrary to what the Bible says. Thank goodness Jesus told us what to do! Listen to verse 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Who are the prophets before you? We don’t have time to recount each of them but here are just a few:

Moses – Exodus 17:3   And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”

Jeremiah – Jeremiah 20 1 Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. 2 Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD.

Daniel – Daniel 6  4 So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”…16 So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions.

Application: This is a hard one to apply because many of us haven’t faced hard-core persecution. Let me ask in a different way – how do you respond when you get slighted, mistreated, and neglected? Do you rejoice? Are you exceedingly glad? Do you consider your great reward in heaven? Or do you pitch a fit? Do you pay back ten fold? Our response to our trials is just a precursor of our response to persecution.

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?

13 “You are the salt of the earth;

Background: Keep in mind that this is all one message. Just when you think that the message is over, the most important point is about to come. We use just a pinch of salt in our food. That’s all we typically need. What’s the point? Persecution has a way of thinning out the crowd down to a pinch. What’s happening in America is that God is weeding out the imposters from the real deals. The problem in America is too many people are pretending to be something they’re not which is hindering those who are really searching for God from coming to Him. That’s why I believe that the greatest revival and awakening is coming very soon to America.

Now the crowd is down to a pinch but the pinch becomes indispensable. Just like salt – it’s a very small in proportion to the whole meal but it changes the flavour and the taste of the meal. “but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?” What happens to those who have lost the flavour of Christianity?It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Churches are closing all over America but that’s not a bad thing. Too many sincere people are stuck because of some obligation and some loyalty but it’s killing the cause of Christ. But a new day is coming!

What will happen in this new day? 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Have you ever driven towards a big city at night? You can see the glow towards the sky. Those who’s truly have the light will shine brightly in this dark world and people near and far will come to them. By the way, I love it when people refer to our church as “the church on the hill.” This is not the time to hide your light but to shine it even more. Our job is not to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. But listen to verse 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Personal Illustration: As a 9-10 year old, I remember coming back home from school and trying to turn on the lights and the fan and nothing happened. Imagine 115° temperatures in the hot summer and not having any electricity to turn on the fan, forget about any air condition. I went to the kitchen and asked my grandmother if the power was out and she told me that our electrical connection has been cut. “Why?” “Because we’re on the same line as the church. They cut the power to the church and so our power is out as well.” I remember that night my mom crying as she went around the house lighting candles and oil lamps. We ate in the dark by candlelight, not something unusual because when power would go out, we would do that. But this time it was different. There was no estimated time when services would be restored. We went to bed early that night obviously, hoping against hope that somewhere in the middle of the night the fan would start blowing but it never did. The next morning, no hot showers. This was for real. Later that week, my dad was able to talk to a so-called “Christian” neighbor who was kind enough to run a single line to our house, just enough to turn on a light bulb. At least, we could have light. Unfortunately, some time later he got upset with us for some reason and cut the line. I think that hurt much more than the first time. But that experience and many more shaped me into the person I am today.

Home church in India (1)

Home church in India (1)

Home church in India (2)

Home church in India (2)

Home church in India (3)

Home church in India (3)

Home church in India (4)

Home church in India (4)

People have a lot of false ideas about persecution in America. Some think that it’s going to get worse and worse and it’s time to fly out. Others think that it automatically grows the church. Neither is true when you study the Bible carefully. First, God thins out the numbers to those who are truly godly. But He doesn’t stop there. Then, He holds them up like the pinch of salt and a little oil lamp to change the world for the better.

Listen to verse 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Imagine once again people in America praising your Father in heaven!

Persecution is not what God is doing to Christians in America but what God is doing through Christians for America.

Are you saved? Are you living a godly life?

The Blessing of Bringing Harmony

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THE BLESSING OF BRINGING HARMONY by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

theblessingofbringingharmonyThis is our seventh beatitude in our series on the Sermon on the Mount called SALT AND LIGHT and today’s message is titled “THE BLESSING OF BRINGING HARMONY.”

Matthew 5   1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Overall Background: “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” When we place our faith in Jesus as our Savior, we become sons and daughters of God. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” The right to be a child of God is only awarded to those who receive Jesus as their Savior. But, according to this beatitude, there is a difference between being a child of God and being called a child of God. Listen again – “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” The title of son/daughter of God is only awarded to those who are peacemakers. Meaning: If you are a troublemaker, a rabble-rouser, an instigator, and an agitator, then you may have the position of being a child of God but you will not receive the title of being a child of God. You may claim that you are a Christian but God doesn’t boast about you nor do people acknowledge you.

For e.g. I remember this young man in our hometown – a rough character, a gangster. He was a friend of my brother. One day my brother told me that he actually came from a very prominent family and his father was actually a judge. I couldn’t believe it! He had the pedigree of a good family but his reputation was very different.

Application: This morning, you may be a child of God but the question is “do people call you a child of God?” Are you known as a son/daughter of God? There’s a big difference between position and reputation – between being a Christian and being known as a Christian. Better yet – Are you known as a peacemaker or as a troublemaker? Are you even saved? You cannot have God’s peace until you get saved.

As we walk through this message, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to your position as well as your reputation as a Christian. Three questions again:

I. WHO IS A PEACEMAKER? 

“Blessed are the peacemakers…”

Background: When Jesus gave that beatitude, there were all kinds of people in the crowd, just like the crowd in this place:

  1. There were troublemakers in the crowd, like the zealots. These were people who were constantly itching for a fight with the oppressive Romans. In fact one of Jesus’ own disciple was Simon the Zealot. There are some zealots here this morning. These are people who are constantly looking for conflict. They love turmoil and chaos. They enjoy seeing people at odds with each other. It’s normal for them. They love drama. Maybe they grew up that way in an environment of constant tension. I know someone like that, no one here. Every time I see this person, there’s always some drama that’s brewing and some fire raging.

Question: Is that you? Stop starting trouble and stop thinking that the whole world is like you. You need to ask God’s forgiveness.

  1. There were parasites in the crowd, like the tax collectors. These were people who had mastered the art of taking advantage of the situation. Just get all the taxes you can, avoid any confrontation, and let people kill each other. Some tax collectors are here this morning. They are only interested in exploiting the situation. They are not interested in bringing peace, just using the conflict for their personal benefit.

Question: Is that you? You take pleasure in watching people go after each other because it takes the attention off of you. You need to realize that you are part of the problem. You also need to ask God’s forgiveness.

  1. There were peacekeepers in the crowd, like the Roman soldiers. Their job was to maintain the Pax Romana (the peace of Rome). They knew how to weed out the bad element and enforce peace. There are some Roman soldiers here this morning. These are people who want peace at any prize. They will compromise the truth, avoid the facts, sweep things under the rug, and pretend that everything is just fine. “Let’s not talk about it.” Only problem is that one day it all comes out. By the way, I’m not referring to law enforcement but everyday peacekeepers.

Question: Is that you? God sees everything and you will have to answer for what you’ve done. You also need God’s forgiveness.

  1. There were false peacemakers in the crowd, like the Pharisees and the scribes. They found peace in controlling the masses. Their idea of peace was to get people to respect them and honor them. There are some Pharisees and scribes here this morning. They’ve got plenty of problems but delight to tell others how to solve theirs. One time someone I knew had unjustly attacked me and I had to distance myself from this person. What was funny was this other person who wanted to be the mediator – “You know I can see both sides.” This person couldn’t solve his own conflicts! I told this person to take a hike.

Question: Is that you? Then you need to stop trying to fix others and seek God’s forgiveness in your own life.

Mt. Sodom

Mt. Sodom (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

Lot's Wife

Lot’s Wife (All images © 2015 Abidan and Nicole Shah)

But Jesus presented a whole new category to all these people – peacemakers (Gk. eireinopoioi). Although this word construction is found only once in the New Testament, the concept of peacemaking is found all over the Bible. The earliest example we see is in Genesis 13:7 “And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.” What was Abraham’s reaction? “Let’s not fight. Pick what you want and I’ll go the other way.” What did Lot do? 10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD… Lot picked the lush, green, and fertile land. As we just read, it was Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities known for their sexual immorality. We’ve been through there. What’s amazing to me is that when God came to destroy those cities, he mentioned his plan to Abraham. What did Abraham do? He could’ve said, “I told him so. He asked for it. I knew this would happen.” Instead he tried to bargain for Lot’s life and family! That’s a true peacemaker.

Peacemaker is someone who has more than just a peaceful disposition. You know people like that – they don’t meddle in anybody’s business; conflict tears their nerves; and they’re always thinking of their happy place. Peacemakers are much more. They recognize conflict and they do whatever they can to bring resolution. They’re not blind to the facts or compromise the truth or sweep things under the rug but they actively seek to promote peace. They are people who when they see that someone is at odds with them, they set aside their pride, step out of their comfort zones, reach out to the other person, and try to make things right. They are people who when they see two parties in conflict, they set aside their agenda, step out of their comfort zones, and try to bring reconciliation. They don’t do that to look important or to play the judge. They do that because it’s the right thing to do. These people know how to approach the two parties, sometimes with words but many times just with their presence. They pray more than they preach.

Application: Are you a peacemaker? When someone is at odds with you, how do you handle it? Do you find ways to avoid them? Do you try to show them how mad you are or how it does not bother you? Or, do you try to make things right? Are you known as a peacemaker between others? You cannot be a true peacemaker until you have God’s peace in your heart. You need to be saved before you can go save others.

II. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A SON/DAUGHTER OF GOD? 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.”

Background: Keep in mind Jesus is the Son of God, son with a capital S. We worship one God but three persons – Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is how God has chosen to reveal himself. Jesus is God’s Son in the past, present, and future. It is known as the eternal functional subordination of the Son. That’s the triune God we worship. But, God has many sons and daughters. They’re not eternal but they’re adopted. Listen to Romans 8 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” When we receive Christ as our Savior, we are adopted into the family of God, with all the rights and privileges. In time we also take on the family characteristics. We begin to look like God.

What is God like? We know that God is holy, loving, gracious, powerful, wise, unchanging, eternal, and on and on. But did you also know that He is a God of peace?

Isaiah 9:6 “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Romans 15:33 “Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

Romans 16:20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way…”

I can go on and on but the point is simple – God is a god of peace and when we enter into His family, we become people of peace. You look just like God than when you forgive and reconcile.

Illustration: Nicole loves to talk about who the kids look like in our family.

Application: Whom do you look like? Jesus often identified some of his enemies as “sons of the evil one” and “sons of those who kill the prophets.” When you actively seek to promote peace, you look like God’s son and daughter. How do people describe you?

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK? 

Background: Human beings are constantly in conflict. Every moment there are millions upon millions of conflicts taking place all over this world – conflict between a husband and a wife, conflict between siblings, conflicts between friends, conflict between neighbors, and, on a large-scale, conflict between nations. It began in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve for his disobedience. Later conflict spread to the children when Cain killed Abel. Where do conflicts come from? James gives us the reason in James 4 1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Conflicts are the result of sin.

We can do anything about it so God took the first step of peace by sending Jesus as the peacemaker. Listen to – 1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” Once we receive this peace, we become God’s peace ambassadors. Listen to 2 Corinthians 5 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

People constantly talk of peace. Most everybody wants world peace. Peace will not come into this world until Christians who know the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ take the gospel of peace every human being. Then and only then will we not only have peace with God but also peace with our fellow man. We fuss about how terrible things are in the world and in our nation. Here’s my question: where are the peacemakers?

Are you saved? Do you know the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ?

The Blessing of Spiritual Vision

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THE BLESSING OF SPIRITUAL VISION by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofspiritualvisionIntroduction: So glad all of you are here this morning and also glad to have all those who are joining us by radio! Thank you for tuning in! We’re back in our series called Salt and Light on the Sermon on the Mount and this morning we will be looking at the sixth beatitude in our message called – THE BLESSING OF SPIRITUAL VISION.

Matthew 5   1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Overall Background: 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” Just when you think that you have a handle on these beatitudes, this one throws you for a loop. Think about this – As a Christian you can be poor in spirit and have the kingdom of heaven, mourn and be comforted by the Holy Spirit, meek and inherit the earth, hunger and thirst for righteousness and be satisfied, merciful and receive mercy but if your heart is impure, you’ll never see God. In other words, you can be stable emotionally, growing biblically, and acting mercifully but if you are living sinfully, then you will be blind spiritually. You can do a lot of things right as a Christian and even be a salt and light to the world but if there is sin in your life, then God will be hidden from you.

There are two words that have all but disappeared from Christian vocabulary. First is the three-letter word – Sin. We talk about everything from prayer, worship, ministry, God’s will, conservative values, and reaching the world but sin? Who wants to talk about that! Another word that has gone out of her vocabulary is holiness. In fact, that word is looked down upon as legalistic, negative, old-fashioned, judgmental, and boring.

Question: How is your sin life? What do you think about holiness? When was the last time you repented before God? Has the Holy Spirit convicted you recently of some sin in your life? Have you done anything about it? There is no substitute to holiness in the Christian life. Here’s the heart of the matter – are you saved? If there is no conviction of sin, it’s probably because there is no Holy Spirit in your life. You’ve never seen God and you’ll never see God until you see Him on the Day of Judgment.

This morning ask the Holy Spirit to remove the trash in your heart so that your vision may be clean enough to see God. Once again – three questions in this passage:

I. HOW TO HAVE A PURE HEART?

“Blessed are the pure in heart…”

Background: Before we run to Webster’s to define purity, we need to look in the immediate context. Jesus was quoting this beatitude, almost word for word, from Psalm 24, a psalm of David. To give you a little context – this psalm begins with the declaration that everything belongs to God – 1 The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. This earth, this universe, and all of us human beings are God’s property and He is the Creator King but He is not satisfied with just that. Listen to vs. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Meaning: God is not some almighty sovereign ruler, despot, and dictator who lives in His grand palace and can never be seen and approached by the common people. To the contrary, He wants to meet us, talk to us, and connect with us. He wants us to come to Him, hang out with Him, and live with Him. But there’s a problem – “Or who may stand in His holy place?” There’s a barrier/barricade that keeps us from getting near Him. It’s God’s holiness. He is holy and we are sinful.

People ask, “What is sin?” Paul gives a detailed list in Galatians 5 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 1 John 5:17 simply says, “All unrighteousness is sin…” Bottom Line: Sin is anything that is contrary to the nature of God and goes against the will of God. It is neither neutral nor passive. It wants to spread and take control and destroy everything. But God is holy and He cannot and will not let sin rule. That’s why His wrath is against sin and since we are sinners, it is against us. In fact, Romans 5:10 tells us that sin has made us “enemies of God.” Don’t misunderstand – God’s wrath is not some bad temper. He’s not some bully going around threatening people or a cantankerous old man, always angry and yelling at people to get out of His yard. Isaiah 28:21 reminds us that God’s wrath is His unusual act.” Think of it this way – “It is a love which is so jealous for the good of the loved one that it blazes out in fiery wrath against everything that is evil.” (Leon Morris, Apostolic Preaching of the Cross)

So sin invokes God wrath but that’s not the final word. To the question, who can stand in His holy place, the answer comes in vs. 4 “He who has clean hands and a pure heart…” Meaning: To come close to God you need to purify yourself, externally and internally. In other words, you need total holiness. No hypocritical, half-hearted, pretend holiness will do. God sees the heart. We are like an open book in His sight.

Application: Are your hands clean before God? Is your heart pure before God? Proverbs 20:9 says, “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin’?” It’s a rhetorical question. Jeremiah 17 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the LORD, search the heart…” David clarifies in vs. 4 “…Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.” 2 things God hates: 1. False gods – anything that is taking the place of God in your life. It’s more than just some idols in a temple. 2. False swearing – claiming God’s name falsely. When you say you are a Christian and yet disobey Christ and His Word, that’s swearing deceitfully.

Application: Is someone or something playing God in your life? Are you taking God’s name in vain? Have you ever received a spiritual heart transplant? Have you ever received Jesus as your Savior? That’s the only way you can receive a clean new heart.

II. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO SEE GOD? 

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”

Background: How does that work? We have to go back again to Psalm 24. Listen to vs. 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 “He shall receive blessing from the LORD…” Now listen carefully to vs. 6 “This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face.” For over 2000 years people have struggled with this verse. What exactly is David saying here? “Those who cleanse their hands and purify their hearts will receive a blessing from God. They will be called the Jacob generation. Who are they? They are those who are determined to see the face of God.”

Who was Jacob? Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebekah and twin brother of Esau. Esau was the firstborn but despised his birthright. Jacob wanted that blessing and bought it for a bowl of stew. Later when Esau tried to get the blessing back, Jacob went as far as to deceive his father to get what was rightfully his. By the way, the Bible never condemns him for that. Esau made a vow that he would kill Jacob and he had to flee for his life. Twenty years later, it was time for Jacob to head home but he had to face Esau. The night before he prayed to God foe help. What was God’s response? Genesis 33:24 “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” How strange?!! Just when you’d think that God would have sent a cool breeze, put some angels around him, and given him sweet dreams on a soft bed so Jacob could wake up fresh and ready to take on Esau, some stranger jumps on him and tries to pin him to the ground! This goes on all night but the worst is about to come. Genesis 39:25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint…” Ouch! So now he’s sleep deprived, physically exhausted, and limping in incredible pain. Will he finally give up?

What in the world is God trying to do? God is testing Jacob. “You tricked Esau and got the birthright. You tricked Laban and got your Jacob wrestling with Godfamily out. You are about to trick Esau and head back to your home. Are you going to trick Me too? But how much do you really want the blessing?” Somewhere between the grappling and tussling, pushing and shoving it hits Jacob – his opponent is not just some man or even some angel (He had seen some earlier in Mahanaim). This person is a whole different being and immediately he tightens his grip. Did he pass the test? Maybe. The person says in vs. 26 “…Let Me go, for the day breaks” but Jacob replies, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” It was no longer about Esau. It was no longer about his livestock. It was no longer about his family. Did he pass the test? Maybe. 27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Meaning: You wanted the blessing. You fought for it and got it. Did he pass the test? Maybe. 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. Did he pass the test? Now he passed the test.

Listen to Jacob’s response in vs. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Who was this? There’s only one who qualifies to be both God and man. It’s Jesus Christ pre-incarnate. The same way he came to Abraham and later to Moses, Daniel, and others, he came to Jacob.

Application: Do you really want to see God? God doesn’t reveal His face so easily and cheaply. How much are you willing to purify your heart? What would happen if you and I had that kind of determination to seek after God? The Holy Spirit is waiting to do that kind of work in our lives.

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK? 

Jacob and Esau reconcile by Francesco HayezBackground: Keep in mind the true blessing of the beatitude is not to self but to others. We are blessed in order to be the Salt and Light to others. Let’s go back briefly to Genesis 32:31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. You can silhouette of a truly broken man. He sees Esau and bows seven time to the ground. What was Esau’s reaction? Genesis 33 4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. What a beautiful sight! 8 Then Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company which I met?” Remember the hundreds of animals – goats, ewe lambs, rams, camels, cows, bulls, donkeys, and foals? And he (Esau) said, “These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.” 9 But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10 And Jacob said, “No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me.

Our world is so broken right now. Our country is so divided right now. What is the answer? It may sound simplistic but here goes – “Men and women, boys and girls with clean hands and pure hearts who have only one desire – to see the face of Jesus.” When we go out like Jacob who saw the face of Jesus, then and only then will forgiveness and salvation come to the Esaus. Hebrews 12:14, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” Is your heart pure before God? David said in Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do you need a new heart? Are you saved?

The Blessing of Not Getting Even

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here or watch the video here.

THE BLESSING OF NOT GETTING EVEN by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofnotgettingevenIntroduction: In our series SALT AND LIGHT on the Sermon on the Mount we come to the fifth beatitude from Matthew 5. Thank you for joining us this morning and especially thank you to those who are joining us by radio. This morning’s message is titled – “THE BLESSING OF NOT GETTING EVEN.”

Matthew 5   1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Overall Background: 7 “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” So far the beatitudes were primarily dealing with our personal relationship with God.

  • You are to be “poor in spirit” and have more of the Holy Spirit.
  • In times of loss and pain, trust the Holy Spirit and He will comfort you.
  • Be meek and give your problems to God and you will inherit His riches.
  • You are to hunger and thirst for His righteousness and you will be satisfied.

All of these are important but they focus primarily on our personal relationship with God. But the fifth beatitude – “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy” – has to do with our relationship with people. When people take advantage of us, hurt us, mistreat us, or insult us, instead of retaliating, getting revenge, paying them back or getting even with them, we are to show mercy to them. People think that mercy is showing compassion towards those who are less fortunate and cannot do anything for you. That may be true but it’s much more than that. It is showing compassion towards those who have done something wrong to you, hurt you, and maybe even hate you.

Question: Are you a merciful person or are you a person who gets even? Are you a person who forgives and reaches out or are you a person who pays people back? Do your family members and friends say that you always get the last word and you always come on top? Let me ask you a deeper question – Have you ever accepted the mercy God through Jesus Christ? Are you saved? If not, no wonder you can’t show mercy.

This message is very important because how you show mercy is how you obtain mercy. If your life is only full of justice and only eye for an eye and only tit for tat, it’s because that’s how you are. Do you often say, “I wish I could get a break?” Then “Start giving others a break.” Let the Holy Spirit help you today. 3 Questions this morning:

I. WHAT IS MERCY? 

“Blessed are the merciful…”

Background: There is a lot of confusion over the meaning of the word “mercy.” People confuse it with so many other things. Let me explain with four scenarios:

  • First Scenario: Joe insults Mike so Mike insults Joe back. That’s JUSTICE. He has every right to do that. We do that all the time especially in our culture. We have a very tit for tat society. We like to put people back in their place. We like to have the final word. We see that even in how we joke with each other – “If you can’t take it, don’t dish it.” The problem is – We don’t just dish it back, we dash the other person! But that’s JUSTICE and we understand that very well.
  • Second Scenario: Joe insults Mike but Mike instead of insulting Joe back and getting justice, just walks away and gives it to God. That’s MEEKNESS.

(Qualifications – all this is in the context of personal relationships. When it comes to individual safety and national security, we have to defend the helpless and ourselves and even make preemptive strikes against the enemy. That’s a very different issue.)

  • Third Scenario: Joe insults Mike and Mike gives it to God but instead of just walking away and distancing himself from Joe, Mike does something else. He forgives Joe. He refuses to hold a grudge. He refuses to be bitter. He doesn’t want to carry that extra baggage in life. That’s FORGIVENESS.
  • Fourth Scenario: Joe insults Mike and Mike gives it to God and even forgives Joe but he doesn’t stop there. He puts his guard down, sets his pride aside, and reaches out to Joe. As hard as it is, he tries to see things from Joe’s perspective. He tries to be patient and kind to Joe. He tries to redeem and restore the relationship. That’s MERCY.

Mercy is forgiveness plus much more. If you want to understand it, you have to turn to the Bible – Ephesians 2 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, What is salvation? It is a gift originated in God’s love, worked out in his mercy, and offered to us by his grace. It not only forgives us but it raises us up and seats us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. All we can do is receive it by faith. Listen to verse 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…” We have offended God but because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God has not only forgiven us but also given us all the riches in Christ. No other religion can demonstrate mercy. It is an exclusive Christian virtue. Other religions may have justice, self-control, self-restraint, and even forgiveness. Only Christianity tries to redeem, restore, rebuild, reaffirm, reassure, and a lot of words starting with “re.”

What happens when we are touched by the mercy of God? We abdicate our right to revenge and retaliation. We relinquish our right to get even. We hand over the gavel of justice. Just like how God is towards us, we too forgive the person who has offended us but don’t stop there. We try to reach out and bring out the best in that person’s life.

Application: Have you ever received God’s mercy in your life? He worked out the plan of salvation when you were so undeserving. Unless you get saved, you cannot even begin to understand mercy. F.B. Meyer said – “It (mercy) is an exotic which Christ brought with Him from heaven.” Are you holding out mercy towards someone in your life? Are you only giving justice or forgiveness? Are you willing to go beyond?

II. HOW DO WE OBTAIN MERCY? 

“Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy”

Background: What does it mean to “Obtain Mercy?” It means having God’s forgiveness and restoration in our lives. Mercy is not just something that we need when we get saved but it’s also something we need every day after we get saved. Everyday we need God’s forgiveness towards us. Everyday we need God’s restoration in us. Why? Because we are weak. Because we cannot keep God’s standards. Because we fail so often. Of course our salvation is intact. Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Our eternal destiny is secure. But because of sin our relationship with the Father get’s broken. Even though we are headed to heaven, life begins to feel like hell.

How do you get mercy (forgiveness and restoration) in our lives? Some people think we need to pray for mercy. Some people think we need to ask God to forgive us for our sins. What does God have to say? “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy” Meaning: If you want mercy in your life, you have to show mercy to others. If that’s not enough, in the Lord’s Prayer or Disciples’ Prayer, Jesus said it again in Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” Then he gave an amazing parable in Matthew 18 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Application: Are you known for justice? Are you known for just forgiveness? Are you known for giving people three strikes and then out? If so, then you are setting the course of your life. James 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?

When you show Mercy and in return have God’s Mercy in your life, your life becomes a blessing to those around you. When Jesus was in this world He often reprimanded the scribes and the Pharisees for failing to show mercy. They were not horrible people. They tried to keep God’s commandments. They even tried to witness to others. Matthew 9  10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ (Jesus was quoting Hosea 6:6) For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

What the world needs to see are people who are so full of God’s mercy that they cannot help but show mercy to others. It will call on us to reconcile with the fact that some people who have offended us may even get away with what they did to you. You will have to kiss revenge goodbye. You will have to refuse to talk bad to people’s faces and even behind their backs.

In return not only will God show you mercy but people will also show you mercy when you need it. Proverbs 3 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

Corrie ten Boom Story on Forgiving (from “I’m Still Learning to Forgive”)

Nazi Holocaust

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. “It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’ “The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue Jewish Women Holocaust 2uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

[Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.] “Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’

“And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? “But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze. “‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me. “‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’ “And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

Corrie Ten Boom and Billy Graham“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. “For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’ “I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’ “And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’ “For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.”

That’s MERCY – forgiveness that calls the person a brother or sister. The only way we can do that is if we have the love of Christ in our hearts. That’s what this fallen world needs to see. Do you have it?

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

The Blessing of a Spiritual Appetite

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here or watch the video here.

THE BLESSING OF A SPIRITUAL APPETITE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofaspiritualappetite

We’re in our series on the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5 called, “SALT AND LIGHT.” This morning we will be looking at the fourth beatitude and our message is called, “THE BLESSING OF A SPIRITUAL APPETITE.”

Matthew 5   1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Overall Background: 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” On the surface, this beatitude seems very simple to understand and easy to apply but it’s anything but that. Look at it carefully and you realize that there’s more to it than what you think – 1. What is righteousness? 2. Why do we have to hunger and thirst for it? After all Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 61:10 “For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” I don’t have to work for it. I only have to trust Jesus for it. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Keep in mind that the Beatitudes build upon each other. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we develop an appetite for spiritual things like never before. There’s a new hunger and thirst in our lives. You know that you are accepted by God because of Jesus Christ but now you want to live a life that looks like Jesus Christ. It is a life that is simultaneously full and not full enough, quenched and unquenchable, satiated and insatiable, satisfied and yet always yearning for more.

Challenge: Does this describe your life? Do you hunger and thirst for the things of God or are you the type who can take it or leave it? Here’s a deeper question – have you ever had a spiritual appetite? A lost person is a dead person and a dead person cannot have an appetite.

This morning as we walk through this message, listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying in your heart. Hopefully, by the end of this message your spiritual stomachs will start growling. If you’ve never had a spiritual appetite, we pray that you will be born-again and begin your spiritual meal. Three questions again this morning:

I. WHAT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS?

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Background: When we hear the word “righteousness” in this beatitude, we need to first look at what it means in its immediate context.

Meaning: Two things in this verse – First, this kind of righteousness does not come naturally. You have to seek after it. Second, when you truly seek after this kind of righteousness, then you are filled. The words are in the passive voice referring to God. In other words, you seek after it and God fills you up. So we have – This kind of righteousness is not natural. You have to seek for it and then God fills you up with it. But that still doesn’t tell us much about this “righteousness.” Let’s go beyond this verse to the rest of the Sermon on the Mount –

5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…

Meaning: Two things again in this verse – First, this kind of righteousness brings about an external and noticeable change in our lives. It’s not just some internal righteousness. Secondly, it does not always evoke a pleasant and favorable response. Sometimes the response is negative, hostile, and hateful. In other words, some of those who don’t have this righteousness persecute the ones who do have it. What do we have now? This kind of righteousness is not natural. You have to seek for it and then God fills you up with it. People can see it and some of those who don’t have it persecute those who do.

5:20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Meaning: Two things again in this verse – First, this kind of righteousness can be faked. Jesus is saying, “You gotta do better than the hypocritical scribes and the Pharisees.” Second, if its fake then it can keep you out of the kingdom of heaven. So let’s see it again – This kind of righteousness is not natural. You have to seek for it and then God fills you up with it. People can see it and some of those who don’t have it persecute those who do. Fake righteousness can keep you out of the kingdom of heaven.

6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Meaning: This time righteousness is connected to the kingdom of God. If you remember, kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven is the rule of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

So let’s connect the dots. What is this righteousness in this context? It is the work of the Holy Spirit that leads us to want to live a life that pleases God and looks more and more like Jesus Christ. It brings about external change that causes some people to be hostile. Those who fake this are not in the kingdom of heaven – under the control of the Holy Spirit. God promises to take care of those who really hunger and thirst for it.

Application: Does this describe you? Has there been a real change in your life? Is the Holy Spirit working in your heart causing you to yearn for the things of God? This does not mean that you are perfect but you are definitely not fake.

II. HOW TO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR IT? 

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

In America it is very hard to understand hunger and thirst. If you’re hungry, go in the kitchen and make yourself a sandwich. If you’re still hungry, get a bag of chips or some cookies or some ice cream. If you’re hungry and don’t want to work for it, then get in your car and go through a drive through and get what you want. If you’re hungry and want somebody to wait on you, then go inside the restaurant and order what you want. What if you’re thirsty? Go to the kitchen sink and get some water. If you’re thirsty and don’t want water, then you have soft drinks, sweet tea, milk, juice, and other beverages we’re not going to name. We’re living in the land of milk and honey. I’m not saying there are no hungry people in America. There are people, especially some children in America, who would love to have what you threw in the trashcan last night. Overall we don’t understand hunger and thirst.

Illustration: Come to India with me and I will show you what real hunger and thirst looks like. Children walking around on the streets with their bellies bloated not because they ate a lot of food but because they have Kwashiorkor – protein malnutrition that swells their bellies. I have seen children so weak that they could barely walk. They have Marasmus. I’ve seen a brother and sister fighting over a piece of bread on the street. We have the luxury of all these drinks but I’ve seen people drink water from places that I wouldn’t use to water my lawn. They have Cholera and Typhoid.

Let me cut to the chase – If you’re not hungering and thirsting for righteousness, it could be a symptom of a deeper problem.

  • You are already stuffed. What are people stuffed with? Entertainment, Hobbies, Sports, and Toys. Not that all these things are bad in themselves but they cannot give you the nutrition that you need for your spiritual lives. No wonder many Christians are walking around with Spiritual Kwashiorkor and Marasmus. Psalm 63:1 “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.”
  • You are eating wrong spiritual food. What are you eating and drinking spiritually? If you are listening, watching, and reading the wrong biblical stuff, you will have Spiritual Cholera and Typhoid.

What are the consequences of a poor diet? It affects our relationship with God and with each other. We don’t have faith, hope, joy, peace, and wisdom. Instead, we have anger, bitterness, wrath, envy, jealousy, misunderstandings, and all the other junk. No wonder our churches are in such a mess! Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 3 1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? Sometimes people come to church one Sunday and say “feed me.” My question: “How long since you ate?” It’s been a year! Imagine if you missed your meal for a year – 365 X 3 = 1095 meals! By the time a put a bib around their neck, they’re on the way out. “I went to church/bible study and it didn’t help me.” Same goes if you miss a week – 7 X 3 = 21 meals!

Application: How is your spiritual diet? Are you truly seeking after the things of God? Are you daily feeding upon His Word? Are you daily submitting to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you dealing with sin harshly and resting in the righteousness of Christ?

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Background: When people truly hunger and thirst for righteousness, God does the filling. The Greek word is “chortazomai” which means “fattening animals” or “being stuffed.” Spiritually malnutritioned people are a very poor representation of Jesus Christ. They are like the Snickers commercial – “You’re not you when you are hungry.” They make decisions that are shameful and embarrassing. They hurt people around them. They act in ways that are contrary to the Word of God. They actually repel people from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the world sees Christians who are stuffed with the right food and drink, the Holy Spirit holds them as an advertisement of what Jesus can do for them. They may not be perfect or have all that they want or they may have their struggles but in their hearts and on their faces there is the smile of contentment.

Invitation: Which one are you? Come to Jesus. He said in John 6 48 I am the bread of life…51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” John 7 37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

The Blessing of Humility

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here or watch the video here.

THE BLESSING OF HUMILITY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofhumilityThis morning we are looking at the third beatitude and our message is titled “THE BLESSING OF HUMILITY.”

Matthew 5   1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Overall Background: Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. At first glance this beatitude seems very simple to understand and easy to apply but it’s anything but that. I preached on it 13 years ago and so I pulled out my notes thinking that I could just warm up this old biscuit and serve it. I couldn’t do it. It’s not that I preached something wrong back then but I did not realize how deep it was entrenched in our system. It is listed as one among the three things that is not from God – “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 John 2:16) It’s as if the Holy Spirit said to me – “You were digging in the right spot but you didn’t go deep enough.”

Application: Do you consider yourself a humble person? Be careful how you answer that! “Pride is so subtle. Just when you think you are humble, you get nailed!” As someone said, “What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.” Here’s a better question – Do others consider you a humble person? Pride is the enemy’s choicest weapon against the Christian and the church. When they asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He answered, “whoever humbles himself as this little child.” Are you saved? To be saved you have to set your pride aside, admit that you are no good, and humbly receive God’s grace.

This beatitude is probably the most difficult beatitude that Jesus gave. Once again we’re going to ask 3 questions about this beatitude. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you.

I. WHO ARE THE MEEK?

“Blessed are the meek”

Background: Typically people run to Webster’s or some quote from a famous person to define meekness or humility. When Jesus gave this beatitude He did not have some dictionary or some Chinese philosopher in mind. Instead, He was quoting a psalm of David from the Old Testament – Psalm 37. Listen to verse 10 “For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth…” Jesus was quoting David. To understand meekness, we have to understand what David meant by it. He wrote this psalm to help the righteous deal with the wicked. He tells them to be meek. Keep in mind that this is not in the context of daily security or national defense. Remember David killed the wicked Goliath. This is in the context of daily relationships.

Who are the meek who inherit the earth according to David? If you put two verses in this psalm side by side, you get the true definition. Verse 11 “But the meek shall inherit the earth…” and verse 9 “But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.” In other words, meek are those who wait on the Lord. Typically, people think of the meek as people who walk around all hunched over saying, “I’ll go along with whatever” or “Just pretend I’m not here” or “Forgive me for living.” David’s description of the meek and the humble is a person who waits upon God when people do their thing. Instead of getting angry, frustrated, or disappointed with God, the meek let God handle their case.

It’s easy to be meek/humble when people are being nice to you. It’s a whole different story when they’re not. The perfect example is found in Numbers 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) What a complement! But do you know the context of this statement? Listen to verse 1 Then Miriam and Aaron (brother and sister) spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (They didn’t come out and say that.) 2 So they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. Do you think Moses didn’t know that? He must have told her – “Ignore them” but his friend God had heard it. Verse 4 Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” 6 Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. 7 Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. 8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?” Isn’t that amazing when God speaks in your defense?!! You know why many times God doesn’t come to our aid? Because we are not meek and we take matters into our own hands.

But it doesn’t stop there. 9 So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed. 10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron begged Moses to do something. Moses was not strutting saying, “Remember that next time. Don’t mess with me.” Instead, verse 13 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!” How many of us would have done that? What was God’s response? 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.” You know why sometimes God doesn’t come to our aid? Because He knows we are not meek and we would love to crush our enemies instead of praying for them. Any wonder that Moses was the most humble person on earth?!!

Application: The true test of meekness comes when people mistreat us in our family, friend, work, neighborhood, and even church. Are you a meek and a humble person? True meekness and humility is a life that waits upon God and let’s God handle our battles. Do you wait upon Him? Do you trust Him to handle your case?

II. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO INHERIT THE EARTH? 

Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

Background: We have to go back to Psalm 37 to understand it’s meaning. 5 times in this psalm that phrase “inherit the earth” is used. What is the point that David is making here? He explains it in the opening verses of the psalm – 1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. What a powerful imagery! The proud wicked seem to be cropping up and flourishing. They seem to be gaining power and prestige. They abuse and mistreat people but seem to be getting away with it. Don’t be afraid because they are like the grass in the Middle East. For the moment it appears so lush and green but once that hot desert wind known as the “hamsin” comes, it will dry up and fade away. Unlike Aaron and Miriam who were saved but acting like the proud wicked and God disciplined them, what will He do with the proud wicked? 13 The Lord laughs at him, For He sees that his day is coming… What else? 35 I have seen the wicked in great power, And spreading himself like a native green tree. 36 Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more; Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.

But what about the meek and the humble? “For they shall inherit the earth.” The key word here is “inherit.” What is an inheritance? It is something that has been passed down because of family connection. Because God is our heavenly father, Christ is our brother, and we are joint heirs with Him, everything that God has now belongs to us also. What should the meek focus on? 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Some of this inheritance will come to you in this life and some in the life to come. Don’t fret over it or be envious or waste your life wondering why they are so blessed and you’re not. Be meek and wait upon God. He will take care of you. You will “feed on His faithfulness.” You will have the “desires of your heart.” You will have “abundance of peace.” He will give you exactly what you need.

But there’s more. This inheritance is not just for you but also for your children and grandchildren. Here’s one of my favorite passages in the Bible – 25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. The blessing goes on!

Application: Do you want to inherit the earth? Do you want God’s blessing in your life? Are you waiting upon Him? Are you meek and humble in His sight?

III. HOW DOES THIS BLESSING WORK?

Keep in mind that the beatitudes build upon each other. The first one 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Remember – the kingdom of heaven is the Holy Spirit ruling your heart. When you are “poor in spirit” meaning less and less of self, you will be more and more led by the Holy Spirit. What is the second beatitude? 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. In life you will go through loss, which will bring grief and mourning. Instead of giving in and falling apart, the Holy Spirit will come alongside and comfort you. What is the result of this? You come to realize how much you cannot make it by yourself. You understand how much you need God’s help and grace in your life. You set aside your pride, your wisdom, your strength, and self-confidence and you wait more and more upon God. You don’t worry about the wicked proud but you become meek and humble. How? The Holy Spirit helps you with this. D.L. Moody, “A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility.”

In turn the world sees the difference in our spirit and attitude. J.C. Ryle said, “Humility and love are precisely the graces which the men of the world can understand, if they do not comprehend doctrines.”

Are you saved? You have to humble yourself and acknowledge that there’s nothing you can to save yourself. You need God’s grace through Jesus Christ.

Augustine said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”

The Blessing of Sorrow

You can listen to this and other sermons online by clicking here or watch the video here.

THE BLESSING OF SORROW by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

theblessingofsorrowWe are in Matthew 5 for our series titled – “SALT AND LIGHT.” This morning we are looking at the second beatitude and our message is titled “THE BLESSING OF SORROW.

Matthew 5   1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Overall Background: Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. You can picture Jesus looking across that mountain and seeing the multitude/people.

  • There sits a family that just lost their home in a fire.
  • There sits an old man who lost his ability to see.
  • There sits a young man who just lost his job as a soldier.
  • There sits a young couple that was robbed on their way to Galilee.
  • There sits a father whose son just ran away from home.
  • There sits a mother who lost her daughter to an epidemic.
  • There sits that middle-aged couple wondering where time has gone.
  • There sits a young girl who lost her innocence to what she thought was love.
  • There sits a little boy who lost his parents.

As the Bible says, “seeing the multitudes” he opened His mouth and said – “Blessed are those who mourn.” In other words, “Blessed are those who have gone through some loss.” Why do we mourn? Because something or someone we had is not there anymore.

Not much has changed. The multitude is still grieving. There are people all over this room who are mourning. As someone said, “In every pew there sits someone with a broken heart.” We are grieving over the loss of a job, house, health, relationship, love, money, vision, time, or a loved one. Life is a series of losses – some big and some small – and because of that we all mourn or sorrow to some degree or the other.

Application: What are you doing with your sorrow? Are you pretending that everything is all right? Are you looking to false substitutes to cope with your sorrow? Are you looking to Jesus? Are you trusting Him to get you through? Only He can truly comfort you.

3 things we will see in this message. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will apply this beatitude to your life so not only will you get this but go further to Luke’s rendition of this beatitude – “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”

I. WHY DO WE MOURN?

This week was a busy one for me. All day Monday through Wednesday I was in Raleigh for NCLEAP – NC Law Enforcement Assistance Program. They were conducting what is known as PCIS – Post Critical Incident Seminar. It is an event designed to help officers (Police, State Troopers, Sherriff’s Dept.) and their spouses who have gone through trauma like line of duty shooting and line of duty death. People don’t realize what men and women in law enforcement go through every day of their lives. They are constantly bombarded with trauma, death, loss, and grief and it begins to take a toll on them and effects their health, relationships, and work. Just to let you know – as many as 100 commit suicide every year. At this seminar men and women and their spouses come from everywhere who are struggling with loss and they are helped with peer support and teaching. As the chaplain for the Henderson PD I was invited to be there and I am really glad I went. One of the teachers was Dr. Therese Rando who is a world-renowned grief expert and Clinical Director of The Institute for the Study and Treatment of Loss. She has published as many as 80 works on the subject and been on national TV and everything. Amazing how the Holy Spirit works! This week I am preaching on mourning and the world expert is sitting behind me! Here’s what she shared:

There are 2 kinds of loss in life:

  1. Physical loss – car is stolen, house burns down, leg is amputated
  2. Abstract loss – divorce, job loss, relationship loss

Both of these are known as Primary Loss. But there’s something else happens next which is known as Secondary Loss – Because of primary loss, people go though a deeper loss of their worldview – what they believe about God, this world, themself, and others. Because of your loss you begin to look at everything differently. Keep in mind that there’s a difference between losing your keys and losing a loved one to cancer but your loss is important to you. Children leaving the home can be a loss. Depending on how serious your loss was to you, you begin to rewrite your life script.

What’s next? Loss leads to grief and mourning. There’s a difference between the two:

  • Grief is your reaction to the loss. This can be psychological, behavioral, social, and even physical. It includes crying, depression, guilt, anger, irritability, restlessness, fear, anxiety, numbness, sleep deprivation, social withdrawal, addiction, etc.
  • Mourning is learning to cope with your loss. It involves adjusting to the loss by undoing our previous ties with that thing or person. It involves building new ties with that thing or person. It involves revising our worldview and learning to move forward. By the way, people grieve and mourn differently.

Life is a series of losses – some big and some small – and because of that we all grieve and mourn to one degree or another. This is a big problem of life. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus began His Sermon with the most common human problem?!! After all He is God! What did you expect! It behooves me when people say that the Bible doesn’t apply. It applies much more than you think!

Application: Are you struggling with some loss in your life? Are you trying to pretend that you are strong and it doesn’t bother you? Are you living in grief and mourning? God understands. Jesus understands. He cares.

II. WHAT ARE SOME WAYS PEOPLE COPE? 

People try all sorts of ways to mourn. They are known as “coping mechanisms.”

  • Act out = Go wild. Do crazy things. You owe it to yourself.
  • Adapt = Find a new normal. Just adapt to this loss.
  • Altruism = Help other people and it will make you feel better.
  • Avoid = Just don’t face it. Pour yourself into your work, hobby, or relationship.
  • Cry = Let it out.
  • Distance = Move away. At least get away for a while.
  • Emotionality = Have an outburst. Make people scared of your anger.
  • Fantasy = Go into your make-believe world. Turn on a favorite song and dream.
  • Help-Rejecting Complaining = Ask for help and then reject it. Look for pity.
  • Intellectualize = Think deep on the subject. Go get a PhD on it.
  • Passive Aggression = Be stubborn and hostile even if it hurts self. Procrastinate.
  • Provocation = Get others to act so you can react.
  • Regression = Act like a little kid.
  • Self-harming = Cause pain to self so you don’t have to face the pain of loss.
  • Trivializing = Pretend that it’s not a big deal.

Why do people try these coping mechanisms? Because they give some temporary relief or even long-term relief but there’s a big difference between relief and comfort. Jesus did not say, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will find relief.” The English word “comfort” comes from the Latin com = with and fort = strong. It’s connected to words like fortify and fortress. We will see all this in the last point.

Application: Which one of these coping mechanisms are you using? Are you just satisfied with relief? Relief can only shift the pain, sometimes on those around you. Can you see the pain that others are feeling through you?

III. HOW DOES GOD COMFORT US? 

Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

Background: Keep in mind that Jesus gave these beatitudes in a particular order. You cannot jump around here. The first one is the first one for a reason – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Remember the “kingdom of heaven/God?” It is the rule of God through the Holy Spirit in the life of everyone who has received Jesus as his/her Savior. Remember Romans 14:17 “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Who are the “poor in spirit?” They are those who have less of self. So the first beatitude is saying that those who have less and less of self will be more and more under the control of the Holy Spirit. When you have this in place you are ready for the second beatitude – “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.”

Look at the word “comfort,” not in English but in Greek. It is the word “parakaleo.” It is the verbal form of “parakletos,” the name Jesus used for the Holy Spirit.

  • John 14 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
  • John 14:26 But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
  • John 16 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

When Jesus gave the second beatitude, it was in the context of the Holy Spirit being the one who comforts. Jesus Himself is our Comforter but now He is also at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. So he sends another Comforter the Holy Spirit. Amazing! We have 2 Comforters! What are they doing? One is advocating for me in heaven and the other from earth. The Holy Spirit encourages me, guides me, strengthens me, gives me exactly what I need, sends the right people in my life, and even uses my loss to comfort others. Guess what? It works! “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried” – G. K. Chesterton

But it doesn’t stop there – Listen to Paul in 2 Corinthians 1   3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. The point is that we’re not just waiting to be comforted but as salt and light we comfort others.

Invitation: Do you know Jesus as your Savior? How are you handling loss in your life? Are you looking to the Holy Spirit to comfort you? Do you know someone who needs Him?

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