God's Promise of Blessing
Almighty God as we reflect on your word. May you open our hearts change our hearts to be more like you in Christ's name we pray. Amen. Today we hear from one of the most quoted scriptures in the entire Bible. Probably next to John 3:16. The Beatitudes The Sermon on the Mount we hear things that are often uses platitude, but a direct attack on the culture of Jesus time until this morning. We're going to talk a little bit about that. You know, but when I hear these words from Matthew this morning, I can't help but to think about all the men women and children. I have witnessed on the streets over the years and I grew up in a city near I sit and sew homelessness was an everyday occurrence you go down to Jackson Square and there they are I think about those living in Shacks around the world whose house size is smaller than my office here at the church. I think about all the children. And the refugee camps around the world.
That are exiled from their Homeland specially in places like Africa. And many more whose people's living conditions are worse than we would treat our dogs here in the United States. Why we have homelessness. and horrible issues We do not have the level of destitution and spices like Haiti. and on the continent of Africa But you know many of those people around the world are our brothers and sisters in Jesus and pray daily for God's Deliverance. So somebody you know, I am also a spiritual director for United Theological Seminary and that's really I just a fun thing I get to do so that begins back in February and one of my students was from Ethiopia last semester and it was really great getting to know this young lady and her calling to Ministry. And that's when we got in the small groups when I flew up to a high and low. She talked about how they would hear all these preachers on TV telling them. You know, if God if you believe in God he's going to bless your situation, but wondered why they were so many people living in destitution not knowing if their next meal was going to come to them. But they believe in God. He got that doesn't promise an easy pass. And so now she's here in the states and she's studying to be a pastor and God is really using her and she's going to go back home one day and minister to that context. Most of us at some point have struggled in our life. But I look at these poor people around the globe. And I look at their faith and often is much stronger than my own. couple years ago I got to attend a Bible study at Bethel Colony. So imma give you some context so New Orleans Baptist Seminary is on Gentilly Boulevard in New Orleans and all that's in considered the lower 9th Ward. So it is the bad part of town. Now, the cemetery actually has a gate all around its campus. The protected students we have armed cops When you entered the campus but right across the street is Bethel Colony. Which is filled with men only men who suffer with drug and alcoholism. And I got to witness people that literally only have the clothes on their back, but they had believed that God would be faithful. That God would heal their illness and disease because a lot of these addictions are disease and people don't know how to get through them. But they believe got peeled it was wonderful to see how God was so powerful among these people who had nothing. Being a Beatitudes this morning will continue to explore how God calls and uses messed up people really that should have been our sermon series last couple weeks how God uses messed up people. So this is my mess up this week. I had one. So my mess up was I decided I'm going to bring Ricky lead of the Chuck-E-Cheese in Ocala cuz apparently there's not any other one near here. So we drove down to Ocala and it's like 11 at night and I just want to get home and I'm driving along like I wasn't South Florida and there's the blue lights behind my car. So apparently I was going 80 in a 65. And I thought I was going to get a ticket for sure, but I was really honest and just stop it look like he was about 16. And yes, I do know I was speeding. And I he let me go with a verbal warning. I was really happy but the whole rest of the ride home. I drove the speed limit, but that was my mess up for the week. I shouldn't have been doing that. I was held accountable for not doing what was correct. But God still uses me despite me not being perfect. God uses each of us. We're going to continue to see how God does not use the rich and Powerful. You never does typically maybe there's a few cases in the Bible that God more so uses us as his hands and feet for the world. It's a it's a pleasure to honor that God would use us. We hear these first three verses 3 through 6. God blesses the unexpected. I hear this brothers and sisters lost it are the poor in spirit. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn? For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle the humble? For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst? for righteousness for they shall be satisfied. God really desires one thing from us as his children that we thirst and hunger for righteousness.
We're not perfect. But we thirst for God we thirst to be in communion with God and in the first two chapters of Genesis where God and man were in full communion. But unfortunately, we know the rest of the story by chapter 3 we messed it up. Then our first three verses we hear reversal of thought of Jesus regarding who God blesses for the kingdom. God tells the religious leaders and Pharisees. And it's not them. Who think they're extra spiritual Stern and righteous? That won't hear it the kingdom of God and we heard this scripture a couple days ago. There's that tax collector not even willing to go forward to the altar. Because he knows his sinfulness and there is that Pharisee God. Thank God. I'm not a tax collector there is thank God I'm not the IRS anybody else start filing your taxes. That's horrible every year. You know, I don't want to talk to him on the phone. but instead it will be people who beg for God's mercy and accept the fact that their centers.
Jesus tells us it will be the people who beg for who beg in our humble in our spirit. There's Jesus Christ is cleaning the feet of his disciples. God calls us to extreme humility. the morn our sinfulness to be gentle it is these people who are demonstrating to all of us the life of Jesus. It's not the proud. the mean are those who think they are perfect examples of who God is and we all know people like this, but sometimes those people are us. I swear proud us who are mean. Ask who make mistakes?
And Jesus Like Jesus Does flips everything. TS Believers, we are called to reform the culture in which we live. That's what Jesus did and he's Beatitudes. He flipped the Coster from the Pharisees being the most righteous and the ones guaranteed a spot in heaven to the poor the lame the people that nobody trusts it. He gave them the Love & Mercy. We must change our culture. The culture should not change us as Christ Church. As we look around today, we see out how the culture is dictating to the church, which what we must do to reach young people. You know. I think so many churches revamp relaunch to reach the young crowds. They spend all this millions of dollars on a new church building. But you know, it's not going to reach the young people. It's the word of God. The word of God and I don't just take my word for it there statistics the back it up. Those churches that are preaching the gospel that are staying true to the words of the Bible are growing by the masses by those going to culture continue to decline. I'm not saying we should not update and modernize the way we do things. Absolutely. We should always think about those things. But we should have a solid belief. And in matters of faith in practice, we look the God's word. We have to look at the words of Jesus this morning by turning Society Inside Out by lifting up the humble and those who thirst for that communion with God. We have to ask ourselves this morning. Are we humble and not proud? Are we gentle to our fellow man? Especially those of us who serve in leadership roles that are bosses two people. Are we nice to those who work underneath of us?
Are we thirsting for an almighty God as a way of life? if not What must we do to change our lives to be more like Jesus?
God tells us Jesus tells us. Turn the other cheek. Are this is hard again? I don't think I shared a lot of the Bible study. I believe, you know, if somebody hits my kid, he should have done that but I believe that's what I was taught. That's what my dad taught me. But Jesus says we should just take it. Sometimes we have to take the abuse and take the persecution right Jesus stood there. Currently my versus aren't in there. Blessed are the merciful. For they shall receive Mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven? And the next few vs. We hear Jesus continues this message. Continue in his message of turning the other cheek. We hear so many other times in the New Testament.
Jesus tells us it is the merciful that will receive Mercy. Which continues the idea for us that in order to receive forgiveness? We must forgive those who sin against us as we will say in the Lord's prayer this morning. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us how difficult is it? We cannot go our whole lives upset at somebody even if they truly hurt us. And for me, this is many reasons why it would take God himself to come down from heaven and tell me to go be an associate pastor somewhere. I have been hurt so many times that I have put boundaries up of what I will and will not do now Jesus. That was us in the Bible. It's okay to put boundaries up. But we must forgive and we must let go.
Next Jesus tells us in these verses that we must have your heart to see God. For me that's means more than anything that our intentions are from God that were honest people that we don't have a secret agenda in our lives.
Honesty goes a long way does it not? Right when a cop pulled me over I could have I could have said well, I didn't know I was feeding. I would have been lying. That's another standing at Sky. But I did. The Jesus tells us to be peacemakers. Which is certainly contrary to our culture today. hippie people of peace we hear things like raging war on the left or the right. When we should be Waging War at State and the gates of hell. So that people will not spend eternity there. We are the peacemakers to this crazy world filled with famine war and disease. Alaska lie, he tells us
That we are blessed to be persecuted. And again, I know I could get on this tangent of the persecuted church, and I apologize but you know every day there's an article on the persecuted Church Christians in China being put in camps and their organs being harvested was one of the Articles this week.
Brothers and sisters. It's at the real thing one of the other articles read persecuted even after death China bans Christians from holding religious funerals. Can you imagine not being able to celebrate the life and death of a brother or sister in Christ?
And the truth is we must rejoice and this persecution. Amy grateful that we in the United States are really not that bad off. We're here while churches here in the states continue to struggle to have Sunday morning attendance. And again when I was growing up at the saints were playing at 12 we had to move church service. Just so we can get people to come to church.
Overseas they are struggling to just stay alive. the worship almighty God So it's time to turn the other cheek and to accept the fact that we as Christians are called to live and mercy. To have a pure heart that be peacemakers and to be persecuted.
and lastly God blesses us with eternal life verses 11 12 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me now. If you have not experienced this you will at some point I can tell you as a pastor this happens. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is in heaven is great for in the same way. They persecuted the prophets who were before you. So yesterday, I attended a conference in St. Petersburg and the main speaker asked us what we were looking forward to in heaven. So I want you to think in your head. What are some things you're looking forward to in heaven?
and of course People responded we're looking for two no pain. no illness Being able to worship God being with God and it continued. These are all things we will share with our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. And he continued to stay to us. But you know who won't share these gifts. people who are lost because Jesus is the only way. Now the original pre the Nicene Creed that Jesus descended into hell. Irescue the center so they are there. Jesus is rescuing Abraham. And he told us that there will be two things. We cannot do when we pass this life. The first is to be forgiven of our sins.
asper repentance repentance daily and second is the same senators from hell. For those two opportunities are gone once we depart. Because I need to say that we often think about the loss in general terms about people who do not know Jesus. We think about the 70% of people around our state who know nothing about price. What about our own family members that don't know Jesus? Our kids are aunts or uncles or cousins. Or even your parents are your own siblings? How about those who live next door to you? work with you or even your friend you play golf with you got a point. Denis I too have been guilty of thinking of the lost people as people. I could never be a part of. And when I seen lost people who had their life together good jobs good home. Good family. It becomes even more difficult to share Jesus. In fact, I find it easier to share Jesus with the homeless person on the street than the average family that I walk into. The last year I was helping with a golf tournament. I ran a hole and we had little games with each one for this fundraiser and I can't play golf at all. So anybody would like to teach me how to play golf I'll take you up on it. So I couldn't play I sat in that golf cart all day running that hole. And I share Jesus with the guy running the whole with me and and he attended church with us. And a few months later, I finally got to watch that commitment to Jesus become a reality. That's a little bit a bad picture, but they're in the back. You see a swimming pool and he is being dumped in the pool being baptized. It was a joyous occasion the watch how one little story of faith can actually have an impact. My point here is brothers and sisters. I want to share the gift with those I love. The rewards that Jesus talks about in the scripture this morning. Can we talk this morning about the Lofts? I want us to really think about those in our life are lost and I want us to do something about it. And we don't have time to waste time on nonsense because there are Eternal consequences for how we spend our time. We can't delay in our action. So sometime this week. make that visit you need to make make that phone call. You need to make write that letter you need to write. To those you love to know Jesus know sometimes it's got to be subtle. We had some family members and every holiday, we would send Christian cards to them every holiday over the course of a couple years. They finally started going to church. May take a little while or you'll get your message there.
I want to share and that Eternal reward with those I love. I want to be able to go to heaven one day and see everybody in this room. And all of your family members and all of your kids and grandkids grandparents, you are so vital and sharing the gospel with your rank. You really are.
Church family we close asking ourselves. What's next? How do we take the words of Jesus and applied to our lives? How do we become the black? How do we become the happy? how do we in an instant change our moral idea and way of thinking how do we become humble and merciful and Grant pardon to everyone? How do we Embrace persecution as our Christian siblings do in China? The truth is I don't really know. I don't know other than to take one step at a time are as old phrase goes. How do you eat an elephant one bite at a time? That's what we have to do one by the time of this elephant update.
The brothers and sisters at College I said the congregation especially in the days ahead and take these words from Jesus and the attitudes. and do our best to live in Mount I'm going to leave you with this prayer this morning from st. Francis of Assisi. I've read so many times over the years now.
Lord make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury pardon? Where there is doubt faith? where there is despair hope where there is Darkness lights? Where there is sadness Joy o Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to consol. To be understood as to understand to be loved as to love. It is in giving that we receive. And it is in pardoning that we are part and it is in dying that we are born into eternal life. Amen.