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Sermon 2, On The Mount

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I. Intro -Matthew chapter 5 is called the sermon on the mount, and the teachings are called the beatitudes.  We talked about that a little last week, about the beatitudes, and we talked about those a little.  But as we begin to look at Mathew 5, I want to start at the beginning, verse 1. 

A. You ever find yourself in a hurry?  I’m sure most of you don’t, that most of the time you are relaxed, not worried about how you are going to fit all you do in to the day.  And don’t feel busy or overwhelmed by all the things you said yes to last week.

1. If you really feel that way, you might be able to take this week off from the sermon, although I’d prefer if you stayed.

2. But if you laughed at me when I said those things, about being calm, not overwhelemmed, not too busy all the time, then for us, we need the message I have today.

3. You are in a hurry. America is in a hurry. Time has skyrocketed in value. The value of any commodity depends on its scarcity. And time that once was abundant now is going to the highest bidder.

4. A man in Florida bills his doctor ninety dollars for keeping him waiting one hour.

5. A woman in California hires someone to do her shopping for her—out of a catalog.

6. Twenty bucks will pay someone to pick up your cleaning.

7. Fifteen hundred bucks will buy a fax machine … for your car.

8. Greeting cards can be purchased to express to your children things you want to say, but don’t have time to: “Have a great day at school” or “I wish I were there to tuck you in.”

B. America—the country of shortcuts and fast lanes.

1. “Time,” according to one poll, “may have become the most precious commodity in the land.”

2. Do we really have less time? Or is it just our imagination?

3. In 1965 a testimony before a Senate subcommittee claimed the future looked bright for free time in America. By 1985, predicted the report, Americans would be working twenty-two hours a week and would be able to retire at age thirty-eight.

4. The reason? The computer age would usher in a gleaming array of advances that would do our work for us while stabilizing our economy.

i. Take the household, they cited. Microwaves, quickfix foods, and food processors will pave the way into the carefree future. And the office? Well, you know that old stencil machine? It’ll be replaced by a copier. And the files? Computers are the files of the future. And that electric typewriter? Don’t get too attached to it; a computer will do its work, too.

5. And now, years later, we have everything the report promised. The computers are computing, the DVRs are recording, the fax machines are faxing. Yet the clocks are still ticking, and people are still running.

6. The truth is, the average amount of leisure time has shrunk 37 percent since 1973. The average work week has increased from forty-one to forty-seven hours. (And, for many of you, forty-seven hours would be a calm week.)

C. Why didn’t the forecast come true? What did the committee overlook? They misjudged the appetite of the consumer. As the individualism of the sixties led to the materialism of the eighties, the free time gained for us by technology didn’t make us relax; it made us run. Gadgets provided more time … more time meant more potential money … more potential money meant more time needed  … and round and round it went. Lives grew louder as demands became greater. And as demands became greater, lives grew emptier.

1. “I’ve got so many irons in the fire, I can’t keep any of them hot,” was one comment I read.

D. Can you relate?

II. “When he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountain-side ….”

A. Don’t read the sentence so fast you miss the surprise. Matthew didn’t write what you would expect him to write. The verse doesn’t read, “When he saw the crowds, he went into their midst.” Or “When he saw the crowds, he healed their hurts.” Or “When he saw the crowds, he seated them and began to teach them.” On other occasions he did that … but not this time.

1. Before he went to those people, he went to the mountain. Before the disciples encountered the crowds, they encountered the Christ. And before they faced the people, they were reminded of the holy.

2. I often do the final draft of my sermons on Saturday morning.  Not because I love to get up early on Saturdays, but because it is the time at my house that is quiet and free from distractions.  During the week, when I get home from work, there is always a lot going on and plenty to do.  Someone is making dinner, one of the boys might be home, wanting to talk about school, or current events, or life, and Jessica is doing homework, and dinner is hopefully being started and there is wood to cut and horse stuff to clean up and a shed that needs reroofed and grass that needs mowed, and dinner to make for a family in need, and a visit that needs to be done, and phone calls to make and agendas  to write and … well you understand, your life is just like that.

3. So the kitchen, often strewn with Saturday nights left overs becomes a study.  And what is a study sometimes becomes a sanctuary.

4. The quietness makes me relax. the silence opens my ears, and something sacred will happen. I will just sit, or maybe sit and write in the presence of God.  I wish I could say it happens every Saturday morning; it doesn’t. Sometimes I don’t think I am ready.  But some Saturday mornings I hear his whisper, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened …” and I follow. I leave behind the budgets, bills, and deadlines and walk the narrow trail up the mountain with him.

B. You’ve been there. How about sitting on a hill this last Friday night and watching the biggest orange sun I have ever seen slowly slip down the horizon.  You’ve turned your back on the noise and sought his voice. You’ve stepped away from the masses and followed the Master as he led you up the winding path to the summit.

1. His summit. Clean air. Clear view. Crisp breeze. The roar of the marketplace is down there, and the perspective of the peak is up here.

2. As you sit and pray or just sit in that holy presence, we hear that whisper, we remember his truths.

i. “Nothing will happen to us that he has not experience.

ii. “Truth will still triumph.

iii. “Death will still die.

iv. “The victory is yours.

v. “And joy is one decision away.”

C. Think about the people in your world. Can’t you tell the ones who have been to his mountain? Oh, their problems aren’t any different. And their challenges are just as severe. But there is a stubborn peace that protects them. A confidence that life isn’t toppled by unmet budgets or billionaire bailouts.  A peace that softens the corners of their lips. A contagious delight sparkling in their eyes.

1. I read recently about a man who had breathed the summit air. His trips up the trail began early in his life and sustained him to the end. A few days before he died, a priest went to visit him in the hospital. As the priest entered the room, he noticed an empty chair beside the man’s bed. The priest asked him if someone had been by to visit. The old man smiled, “I place Jesus on that chair, and I talk to him.”

i. The priest was puzzled, so the man explained. “Years ago a friend told me that prayer was as simple as talking to a good friend. So every day I pull up a chair, invite Jesus to sit, and we have a good talk.”

ii. Some days later, the daughter of this man came to the parish house to inform the priest that her father had just died. “Because he seemed so content,” she said, “I left him in his room alone for a couple of hours. When I got back to the room, I found him dead. I noticed a strange thing, though: His head was resting, not on the pillow, but on an empty chair that was beside his bed.”

III. Conclusion

A. Learn a lesson from the man with the chair.

B. Better yet, learn a lesson from Jesus.  Before we face the crowds, before we face out accusers, before we face troubles, stop, be quiet, make the time for quiet, make the time for the holy, make time for that trip up the mountain, to be alone with God.  Stubborn joy begins with the little times with the Lord, breathing deep up there before you go crazy down here.

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