Right after teaching his disciples to obey the laws and commandments of God, Jesus gives the disciples and multitudes a list of antitheses -(you have heard it said...but I say to you...). Jesus begins by confronting his listeners about anger. He compares it to murder. Anger comes in various forms--some blow up, some clam up--, but the results are devastating no matter what. This series will teach us to handle anger in the right ways and for godly reasons.
I'll be preaching a message called - "Trust and Obey." Jesus is teaching His disciples that following Him is not a substitute to obeying God. In fact, the standards are higher than that of the Pharisees and the scribes. He will give a series of "You've heard it said...but I say to you." Ultimately, the only way people can obey such high standards is through the help of the Holy Spirit. He is indispensable to live the Christian Life.
Unfortunately, many Christians run from their surrounding or become indistinguishable from it. Instead, we are to be the flavor and the light. In other words, we are to make our world better tasting and brighter by our presence. We will be seeing through the Bible as well as history how God’s people reclaimed their world for God when they returned to this very important passage. As I've said it before, the best days of our nation are ahead. They may not look exactly like some past nostalgic era (which never existed) but they will be better than ever, where people will glorify our Father in heaven.
I’ll be honest with you - the final beatitude deals with a subject that I don’t like to think about because I had to experience it growing up. In America people talk about persecution and how good it is for the growth of the church and develops holiness and purity. Ironically, those who go through to it don’t talk about how wonderful it is. In fact, they do whatever they can to avoid it and fight against it. Persecution is the final beatitude for a reason. It is not something that we should look forward to. It is something we should do all we can to avoid, prolong, and work against. It is not something that God gives an extra something for. If you notice, the reward of persecution is no different than the one for the first beatitude - 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Unfortunately, it is a subject that we in America are having to face in a small degree. The response is not to brace ourselves and prepare for the worst. We need to strive to maintain and increase the presence of Christianity and biblical values in our country and beyond.
Human beings are prone to conflict. That’s in our sinful nature. The first conflict began in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve broke God’s commandment and ate the forbidden fruit. When God came and questioned them, the blame game began…and it continues to this day – spouses are in conflict, families are in conflict, neighbors are in conflict, communities are in conflict, nations are in conflict, and, unfortunately, even Christians are in conflict. God is the source of true peace and harmony. The only way we can have harmony is if those who claim the name of Christ start living in peace and become peacemakers in the world. For that to happen, we will have to reject the urge to be selfish and stubborn and seek to be Spirit-filled.
We live in a world that is defiled by sin and evil. It clouds our vision of God. Every time we try to visualize God, some impurity of life gets in the way. It requires a solid commitment to repent from sin and submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Then and only then will we see the hand of God all around us. As Hebrews 12:14 also reminds us, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” In this message we will seek to answer three important questions: 1. Who are the pure in heart? 2. What does it mean to see God? & 3. How does this blessing work?
Mercy is often confused with meekness. But meekness is giving things over to God while mercy is reaching out with love to the offender. It is a spirit of generosity towards those who are least deserving. Jesus often reprimanded the scribes and the Pharisees saying that God desires mercy not sacrifice. He wants us to reach out to those who are least deserving and show them the love of Christ. He wants us to see things from the perspective of the other person. He wants us to give the offender the benefit of the doubt. That’s mercy. God has shown us this mercy in Jesus Christ. In fact, he has gone a step further and shown us grace by giving something that we don’t deserve.
All Christians, especially in this generation, need to take a hard look at this beatitude. Although we desire righteousness, we do not hunger and thirst for it. Unfortunately, we are too satisfied with the things of this world and our own complacent Christianity. The Word of God is just something we pop into our lives like a breath mint. It doesn’t fill us but then again we are not seeking to be filled by it. We just want a little Christianity to fool those around us into thinking that we are good enough. First we will ask – what is true righteousness? Then we will ask – what does it mean to truly hunger and thirst. Finally we will see how this blessing applies in the Christian life and beyond.
I believe that this is probably the most difficult beatitude that Jesus gave because it deals with the one subject that all of us struggle with – humility. As someone said, “Just when you think you are humble, you’ve lost it.” God gives His grace to the humble. First we will ask – what does it mean to be meek? Then we will ask – what does it mean to “inherit the earth?” Finally we will see how this blessing applies in the Christian life. When we begin to live by the spirit of humility, we truly live by grace. It is freeing. It brings glory to the name of Christ. It transforms the world around us. Imagine if everyone had the spirit of humility.
In our series on the Sermon on the Mount we come now to the second beatitude -"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." This is probably one of the most needed messages today. It's about grief and sorrow, something all of us face in this life. Where does sorrow come from? It comes from loss.Throughout life we have losses, some big and some small. In fact, life is a series of losses. The real question is "What do we do with our losses?" If we handle them God's way, the result is comfort. If we look for superficial ways, it will not work. God has the right answer to our sorrow. By the way, I love Luke's rendition of this beatitude - "Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh."
This weekend I will be preaching a message titled “THE BLESSING OF BROKENNESS.” As we begin looking at the Beatitudes, we come across the first one - 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” First we will ask – what does it mean to be “poor in spirit?” Then we will ask – what does it mean by “the kingdom of heaven?” The passage teaches us the importance of brokenness in the Christian life. This goes quite contrary to our human nature. We want to be self-sufficient and strong but God wants us to trust Him and rely upon Him. When we begin to live by the spirit of brokenness, we demonstrate to the world what it means to enter the kingdom of heaven. Our brokenness not only blesses us but also blesses those around us.
In our series on the life of Christ we come now to the Beatitudes. This passage has been interpreted in various ways throughout the history of the church. There have been numerous debates about whether or not it is applicable to the believers today. The titles range from “The Secret to the Blessed Life” to “The Blessings of the Christian Life.” Could it be that we are missing the very essence and purpose of this passage? When we read it carefully we notice that the blessing passages are leading towards Matthew 5:13-14 “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” The Beatitudes were not given to help us in our own personal lives as much as to live a life impacting the world around us. This is one message that you cannot afford to miss! It will not only challenge us to live a life of blessing but also help us transform the world around us.