Blessing Under Fire
Of The Sermon on the Mount And as I've shared before we're going through The Sermon on the Mount it's going to take us probably a year to go through it. Now. I'm going to take various breaks and intertwine with my with this series other things that I will preach about but we are going to go through the Ducks are the three chapters Matthew 5 6 and 7. Carefully look at it because I believe when you study these three chapters your studying what Jesus is expecting you to be as a follower of Christ. NM Jesus hit the ground running with the Beatitudes. There's there's two cans to existing prevailing themes that I I think run through this particular passage the first 12 verses of Matthew 5. First is that the qualities are the characteristics that exemplify a person who genuinely follows the Lord Jesus Christ.
And then the second is a a paradox of the Believers Joy because everything that Jesus says the eight Beatitudes they seem that in normal times. They would Usher and emotion of sadness or discouragement. I mean who is blessed When They Mourn But when a follower of Jesus Christ Grieves over there sand in over there life outside of Christ, but then price found them and rescue them. There is Joy or when they reach out to others because they grieve over the last mess of others and they see the worst come to Christ. There is joy.
however If the first seven Beatitudes that we looked at over the last couple of months, we're course quizzes. Then today's beatitude would be the final examination. Let's look at this in Matthew Chapter 5 beginning with verse number 10 blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. No, I have to say that. I've not met many people who enjoy being unfairly treated.
I don't think there's a line for that waiting room for that filled with people. I don't see that and I don't know people who are looking forward to persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
But there's something that I think is very important that we need to understand and that is how we react to experiencing suffering due to our attitudes and actions which demonstrate the righteousness of God. It speaks volumes as to the authenticity of our faith and of our Witness. No friends, I think in America we have grown comfortable. We have become very at ease with lights and when things become difficult
Like waiting in a long line at Walmart on Black Friday. We think we're persecuted.
Friends, I will tell you even though I have had people that treated me I think wrongly because of my faith. I don't know if it rises to the level persecution the same kind of persecution that people experience all over this globe. because of their faith in Christ My wife has never been threatened because of my face. I have never been arrested for holding a Bible.
No. That's not to say. That the experiences we have today will always be. In fact, I will tell you in reading my Bible that as the second coming of Christ approaches. The Bible says perilous times will come.
See Jesus when he was talking with his disciples and even the crowd on that day when he delivered The Sermon on the Mount. I knew that they were going to experience persecution if they all would align themselves with him. He knew it.
He knew that for them to embrace Christ through the cross they would face alienation from their family. They knew that they would experience the challenges. Demonstrating an authentic relationship with God people will not like if they will become angry with that.
so so I want us to be prepared. How do we handle opposition to our faith in Christ? first
we are blessed when persecuted in is for righteousness.
We are blessed. When persecution is for righteousness lips. Look at Matthew 5:10. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom. of Heaven No friends, it would be easy to apply this verse in a way Jesus never intended. Like I said before we are highly sensitive easily offended. This is the kind of culture that we live in today. We are quit the suspect everyone's intentions assuming the worst. And we have become a nation of victims.
And the sad part of this it cheapens the fact that there are those who are truly victimized by Cruel Intentions of others, but friends when when when McDonald's gives you a plane T when you ask for a sweet tea you are not being persecuted.
What song I think somehow we have this chip on our shoulders and it's almost like we're waiting for somebody to to to to say something or do something and we're done doing that to me because I'm a Christian friends. They don't know if your Christian or not sadly.
They should boy that that hurt even when I said it.
Friends, that's not what Jesus is talking about here.
This is what he's talking about. God bless his persecution when it comes as a result of righteousness.
So what it's right you. First righteousness is the Declaration of Gods.
God God is the one who bestows righteousness righteousness is not based upon anything that we do the Bible says our righteousness is as filthy rags. God says we are righteous through faith in Christ Jesus. That's where righteousness comes. Prince we cannot be good enough. We can try to be good we can try to say all the right things. We could try to obey all the rules in The Lawns and the and the guideline but friends that will not learn righteousness because everyone of us are imperfect the Bible says all have fallen short of God's glory everyone of us.
So so how am I write this before the Lord? How am I made worthy? It's not because of what I did. It's because of what Christ did on the cross.
God says we are righteous because of Christ the blood of Christ makes it possible for us to be made righteous.
as we as we come clean before God confessing our sins with the full knowledge that Jesus Paid the penalty of our death and took it upon himself. It is God who declares he says you are righteous you are.
Because of God, there's something else about righteousness that I don't want us to miss as well righteousness is also the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of God within you empowers you to live a holy life friends. We can't do it by yourself with the Holy Spirit and Powers that's enables us to do the right thing because it is the price that broke the chain. We are set free. We've been redeemed now, we can live a life pleasing to the Lord because of the work of the Holy Spirit again not because of us, but the power of the Holy Spirit we cannot take credit for it.
Again, righteousness is not living according to a legalistic set of do's and don'ts righteousness is a life lived under the control and influence of God's spirit living in you is the holy spirit in control of your life. Because Friends when the Holy Spirit is in control of your life. He's going to leaves you in a direction that you did not necessarily foresee.
The holy spirit's going to give you a plants that was not necessarily your plan. He's going to give you a golf that was not necessarily your golf. And as a follower of Jesus Christ, that means I got to surrender my way. I got to stop following my goals and my plan and I need to follow Jesus and as we are being followed as we are followers of Jesus Christ being led by the Holy Spirit lead us into a direction that will eventually eventually cause persecution.
And are we ready for it?
See friends. The bottom line is Christian should live differently from those who are not we shouldn't be the same. We are.
Are values our priorities are goals our desires. Should produce a different kind of Lifestyle than the world. Too many times our attitudes in our lifestyles and our gold mirror. We lose our tempers just like everybody else. We have a mouse just like everybody else. We have attitude just like everybody else. But as a follower of Jesus Christ, we should be different doesn't make sense that a Christian should be different.
We should do things differently. We should see things differently. We should we should not allow everything that the world holds on as valuable not to be our values are values need to be lined up with the price. Are we that kind of person?
Can people see? Christ in you
when I was in the Air Force. I was I was learning how to be a follower of Jesus Christ, but I was a very much afraid follower of Jesus Christ. I was I am I did not want people to know I was Christian.
now I'm ashamed to say that but I was I I just didn't want to get the things people say to people that are not living like the world. Almost almost immediately people saw something different in me. But I don't want to I don't want to pretend to you that it was by Design. It was intentional that I wanted everybody know. I was a Christian I would have preferred that. No one knew I was a Christian. Now I know that shouldn't be but hey, I was a 19 year old afraid of my own shadow kind of person. And now I'm thrust into this new environment called the military. I'm taken out of my nation. I'm thrown into England at Raf lakenheath.
And I wasn't sure what do I do?
So I would I would bring my Bible to work cuz I work the night shift and all I had to do was monitor the radio. And nobody could call during the night shift. So I decided everybody else brought things. You know some of my fellow workers they brought in all pornography.
Some of them brought, you know novels to read my Bible. But I did it I put it in a in a plain plain paper bag all thank you so much. And I was it wasn't like I was trying to be one of those Bible Thumpers letting everybody know who I was I tried to do itself away.
But people would find me out. Ralph Whittemore, I'm terrible with names, but I remember Rob Whittemore.
and he would make fun of everybody hit people down with his mouth. He was really good at that. I'm fact. Sometimes I admired his ability.
and and and and I was listening to some Christian music and he heard it. I immediately turned it off. Because I was so afraid he was going to just ridicule me. And Ralph looked at me all serious. You said never be ashamed of Who You Are. Wow. Jonathan Landrum was another member of my my Squadron and Jonathan was also a person that was very quick to make fun of people. He made fun of me when people were around. But one time right before I was leaving there for us to go to Bible College. Jonathan came up to me privately. I was I was doing some inventory and and he came up to me privately said how do you do it? Do what? he said
Should I wish I was more like you?
And it really just shocked me in and God use that opportunity for me to share my faith. But the fact is even though sometimes I've had to take some some breathing. I'm not going to call that you know being persecuted.
But the fact is that when God righteousness is in your life. If it's genuinely in your life, I think it's almost impossible to keep it a secret. Because your mouth will line up with the righteousness of Christ. Your attitude will line up with the righteousness of Christ.
When people see you they will say there is something in you. What is it? You don't even have to you don't have to be this incredible evangelist there be Witnesses. All you have to do is be a follower of Jesus Christ. Do you want to tell me tell me the secrets?
We are the live differently friends a child of God should stick out like a sore thumb compared to the culture of this world in the American culture.
So living out the Beatitudes in your life means that you can't sit on the fence between Christian faith in the values of this world. We cannot sit on the on the fence in Revelation 3. He said he said I wish that you were hot or cold but because you are lukewarm. I wish I could just spit you out of my mouth.
Well, hope Jesus never says that about us. When we live our life consistently with the attitude and characteristics and qualities and values of Jesus. Our life will definitely be different and if it isn't I would be very afraid right now. Because two things are happening one of two things 1. You are your relationship with God is broken. And you need to ask God's forgiveness and you need to repent because the more you go on with life being like the world. The harder and harder it is for you to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit to be inclined to follow the word of God, but there's suck it. There's something else. If you are not living a life consistent with being a follower of Jesus Christ. You may not be a follower of Jesus Christ and I think the most dangerous place In America right now is in the church. With someone who thinks they are a follower of Jesus Christ, but they have no relationship with God whatsoever and they somehow have brought it into their mind if I sing the songs if I say the right things to my Christian brothers and sisters then somehow God Will Make It Alright, even though I do not live like Christ. You may not be a Christian.
II Second I mean, let me give you another verse here. Austin to eat too many Christians focus on God's blessing and forget the price that we must be willing to pay Luke 14:27 says whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple for which of you Desiring to build a tower does not first sit down and count the cost whether he has enough to complete it. See Jesus did not hide anything from us. He told us like it is this is not a bait and switch. If you are going to be my disciple, Jesus says then expect persecution. Second Life you are blessed when persecuted is a reaction to Christ. a reaction to Christ verse 11 of Matthew 5 says blessed. Are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on account of me.
The Christian faith is not a cause or a religion. It's not about good words works or living a moral life. Christianity is all about Christ. Are Christian faith is centered on a personal relationship with Jesus when when you encounter persecution, you are blessed when you remember it's not that your attackers are outraged with you. They are outraged with Jesus Christ. Friends, even though we have been seeing over the last several years a more.
Hints of hostility toward the Christian faith. We should never be surprised.
In fact, I should be expected especially in a very carnal Society friends. America is an incredibly carnal Wicked Society. We have embraced wickedness and we've exchanged the truth for a lie, and that's the world that we live in and we need to remind ourselves when we are living in Christ. Christ is running contrary to the system of this world and they are going to be mad at price and if Christ is in you they're going to be mad at you.
John 15:18 the scripture tells us if the world hates you and Pat Jesus is saying this if the world hates, you know that it is hate hated me before it hated you.
We might feel like what what's going on? We we live in America. We should we should we should. We should I thought we were in a Christian.
I am telling you. Duck anyone that is not a follower of Jesus Christ officially. They're going to be very upset with those who are because of Christ Living in their wife friends. This culture that we live in is not they do not look at Jesus.
As the savior of the world the lord of Life the king of creation don't see him that way. you know the world sees Jesus as at the very least or I should say at the very most that this world sees. Jesus is just nice.
gentle week Teacher Guru Sage that's what they see. Jesus is. They don't see him as the redeeming Lord. antique In fact, I thought it was interesting in the United Kingdom wear. a majority of Millennials believe today that Jesus never existed Okay, which I find absolutely insane because of all the historical records in the Bible and outside the Bible, but I will tell you this is how our world has been so twisted.
We should not be.
Be wondering. How this happened?
Friends the way Jesus is and what he stands for is opposed in direct opposition to this world. And that leaves me to the third thought this morning. You are blessed when persecuted reminds you of your Godly Association. So you're blessed because of the righteousness of God in your life. When persecution happens when persecution happens you are blessed because of Jesus Christ. What's third you are blessed when persecuted happens because it reminds you of your Godly Association look with me in verse 12 of Matthew 5. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven for soul the so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. See Jesus wanted us to remember we are not the only ones who have ever experienced persecution for our faith in God. It goes all the way back to Abel when Cain killed Abel. The Godless people in the world have always hated Christ and intern his followers all of them. We should never be surprised.
And I guess one way to Remember You Are Not Alone. That you are not the only one experiencing persecution is to remember that you are also not the only one to complain to God about it. I'm reminded of the Old Testament Prophet Elijah.
Elijah had this mountain top experience literally. He saw fire come down from heaven burned up his sacrifice.
He saw an incredible spiritual victory for the people of Israel. And then the Queen the wicked Queen Jezebel of Israel. Threatened his life and he went running and hiding.
and then he He had one of those Penny parties that we sometimes whole, don't we? Elijah was saying why me. Why is this happening to me? I'm the only one left. I'm the only one that is not bound the need to to bail Lord Lord. Why me? Why did you let this happen to me and all my goodness the violins were out that day.
But then God says you're not the only one. The opened Elisha's eyes to see that there were thousands that did not bother need to bail You Are Not Alone. And you need to be encouraged by that. But here is something that we need to understand why we come together as followers of Jesus Christ isolation is an enemy of the Soul. When we separate ourselves from the body and when we go through the difficult times, which we will we will fill not just alone but very discouraged and despondent and we are become very vulnerable. Very vulnerable to walk away from the faith.
Friends, we need to understand. That they that the world has treated. So many people who put their trust in God wrongly. And until price comes back. until that second coming when his foot touches the Mount of Olives. Until then there is going to be persecution and we need to be ready for and one of the ways we are ready for is we surround ourselves with Brothers and Sisters in Christ. That can help us keep focus on what really matters see it's the writer of Hebrews that really helps us understand what's happening in the spiritual. He says the writer says in Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1 these words therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. Let us also lay aside every weight and the sin which clean so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. What's not quit?
Comment would you come to the piano?
the attitude we must possess even in the midst of hardship due to our relationship with Jesus Christ is not to be sorrow or regret. but joy And gladness. I remember this was not really persecution. This was just a battle that I was having in my own life. I was 34. Well 33. I was 33 and I wasn't married.
And I felt like I was never going to get married.
And it's a battle that many people face sometimes and when you face that battling you face it in correctly. You open the door to a very vulnerable attitude. That sometimes will invite compromise.
And I was so discouraged and I shared this story before but I was so discouraged.
MMD the Pinnacle of my discouragement was being at my sister's wedding. And I was one of the groups. And there my dad was walking my sister Debbie down the aisle. And I was so mad.
I was the oldest I should have been married first, but there was nobody. I was so angry. I was so frustrated.
And I felt so alone. How do I share that kind of thought with someone else? It's hard to special your guy. polyphonic
so I got on the plane and coming back to Kansas City.
And I had one of those moments. Several of them in my life. We have one of those come to me come to me Jesus moments.
and and I felt the spirit of God speak to my heart said have I ever let you down? Pain when you hear the word from God that says have I ever let you down, you know, you're in for the time of discipline.
So when did I win. I abandon you tell me when?
When did I break a promise to you?
When you're in a packed Pine and God is talking to you. It's a very uncomfortable position.
And God says I promised you I'll take care of you.
Don't worry, and I made a promise to the Lord at that moment in time. I said.
If I'm called to be single the rest of my life so me then. My relationship with you has to be the most important thing in my life that my life needs to revolve around you. and your purpose
You know when when the light comes on. I can't describe it. It's just an incredible piece that God just slows down in your life when you surrender to him.
You know, I'm not single I'm married and I got 4 Kids to prove it.
friends Listen, we're going to space difficult. I'm not because of just the hardships of life that come our way, but eventually we're going to start facing persecution because of our faith. It's already started happening. Primarily happening right now amongst military chaplains and chaplains in our penal justices. What's happening now? It's going to happen in the war.
But I think we need to be ready. Not not to erase an angry Fist and complain. We need to be ready in Seymour God.
I'm identifying. They persecuted you now they're persecuting me and we wear it as a badge of honor not honoring our cells but honoring who saved us and rest of your life to change the spice Grace.
See if we're persecuted because of his righteousness if were persecuted because of Jesus Christ and the persecuted. Just being a follower of God as the prophets of old or let's not bring our hands and worry and fear and frustration have this. Woe is me break out the violins and let me complain and throw the biggest Diddy party that I've ever had know what we do is we say Lord in this midst Lord. I praise your name.
Bored something is happening. And that was my purpose. That's that's one of the reasons why I exist for worship you and to be light in the dark.
That's the reaction we should have because he walked away from God and through the guilt. He killed himself.
1 old age His name is John, but he experiencing Norma's persecution.
history tells us that boiled in oil he was exiled on a Island
Let's add the Apostle Paul. the rest those 10 and fossil fall all martyred for Christ jam with James the son of John brother John the son of Zebedee. He died. First of the end of the disciples there Steven. He was the first Christian martyr. He was a deacon. Any pro climb the space then they Stone them to death.
But the greatest one of the most beautiful stories of persecution is is Paul story. Paul and Silas they were doing the work of God. They were they were preaching Christ. There was a girl that was demon-possessed and Paul prayed the Pharisee and she was set free and then everybody got mad at Paul and Silas in jail.
jump and slide
Not at all. Where do we find Paul and Silas at the Midnight Hour not complaining not ringing their hands not saying what was me, you know, what they were doing. They were sending places to God because he they had in their mind Lord, whatever happened to our life. It's not about us. It's all about you. Lord is asked to be in the prison or if it's being a witness on the streets or it's going to far away land and sharing your good news. So be it because I'm totally sold out for you thought about me anymore. It's about you and that's what they were doing dinner. And they were set free by the power of God.
what are you wanting me to do today? And it wasn't to run around with the gel it was to be a witness to that job order right there. Jailer gave his life to Christ and his family tattoo.
See, that's the attitude that we need to be touched Church. We need to be on Kingdom Business. all the time in our workplace at our home.
That friends we've align yourself with what God is doing great things are going to happen and I'll tell you what there is nothing in this world. second number one Shepherd Number to there is nothing in this world can do to quiet the message the Salvation message. So friends, no matter if we're on the Mountaintop seeing a fire of God flowing or if we are in a fireman's left alone imprisoned in Chains. No friends. We are more than conquerors.
God's grace and his Mercy are we ready to accept the call and are we ready? to accept his condition
put Stand Together.
the Apostle Paul Wright from 2nd Timothy 3 verse 12 and 13. Yes, and everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ will suffer persecution. Did you see that and say may suffer will suffer persecution flourish and will themselves need to see that's the world that we live in but like I said before work to those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. So I want to pray for you that you will have the courage to stand and continue to stand.
but also I want to pray for those of you that are not living a life pleasing to the Lord know who you Maybe you have been embracing recently compromised in your life all the tell you friends. You will not experience. Any peace until you make things right with me. Oh God, I pray for this congregation The Community of Faith. Lord I pray that we will not lose heart and we will not be discouraged but Lord our eyes would be upon you. more than you know.