Being Blessed

Posted on 02/19/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband

TRANSCRIPT:

If you're blessed and you know it, let me see an amen!

I'll let you in on a little secret. This is not part of the message today, it's just a free extra, but if this is all you hear today and really really get it and live by it, it will change your life.

Do you want to be blessed? Do you want to know that God is moving in your life? Do you want to see his hand at work in your situations and in your own heart and mind?

Then listen carefully to this secret: When you make blessing God your focus, your aim, your lifestyle, your top and central priority, God will respond by blessing you in every way imaginable.

Do you want to be blessed? Bless God!

Do you want true and lasting pleasure? Seek that which pleases God.

Do you want love and security? Stand firm in loving the Lord your God will all your heart, all you body, all your strength, and all your mind.

After asking us why we worry about things, Jesus says, "Seek first (and central) the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you."

Let's stand to our feet and bless the Lord today in prayer and praise.

Father God, thank you that you have created us for the purpose of having sweet, intimate, unbroken fellowship with you. Thank you that you sent your Son to pay the price for our sins so that wall of sin between us and you could be destroyed, and our fellowship with you could be restored.

Holy Spirit, teach us today. Open our eyes and ears and hearts to your Word. And may our focus today be not on ourselves, but on Jesus, the only one who is worthy of all we have, all we are, and all we could ever hope to be.

And it's in the name of Jesus we pray.

Amen.


Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard. If you don't have any worship animations, click-touch the first step here for some free animations. And if you have any copyable clapping and Holy Ghost dancing animations you'd like to share, please talk with me after the service!

You know, you don't have to be a great singer with a beautiful voice to bless God with your singing. If that were the case, I'd be in trouble!

You don't even have to be able to carry a tune, and you know, it doesn't even matter if the neighborhood dogs start howling every time you start to sing.

Regardless of how other people hear you, when you are lifting up your voice in praise to Jesus, he hears your singing as the most beautiful, most melodious, most thrilling sound in the universe.

So let's open our mouths today and sing to the Lord -- not to anyone else who might be listening, but to Jesus himself. If you're worried about someone else in your house hearing you sing, just turn up the music and let the praises pour forth from your heart, through your vocal chords, and out of your mouth.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

*** to join in the time of worship, listen to the audio at livingsounds.org ***


HE HAS MADE ME GLAD
I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart
     I will enter his courts with praise
I will say this is the day that the Lord has made
     I will rejoice for he has made me glad!

He has made me glad, he has made me glad
     I will rejoice for he has made me glad
He had made me glad, he has made me glad
     I will rejoice for he has made me glad

If you don't feel particularly glad today, sing this as a proclamation of faith, that the joy of the Lord is your strength, and that Jesus promised to pour out the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness.

Let's enter his gates today with thanksgiving in our hearts, and enter his courts with praise. This is the day that the Lord has made, and I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!


NOTHING IS TOO DIFFICULT
Ah Lord God, thou hast made the heavens
     and the earth by thy great power
Ah Lord God, thou hast made the heavens
     and the earth by thine outstretched hand

Nothing is too difficult for thee
     Nothing is too difficult for thee
O Great and Mighty God
     Great in counsel and mighty in deed
Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing,
     Nothing is too difficult for thee

No matter what you're going through today, just remember that God is bigger than anything we may be facing. No matter how big the giant may appear, God is bigger. He created the universe and all it contains by the Word of his mouth, and nothing is too difficult for him!


BLESS THE LORD O MY SOUL
Bless the Lord, O my soul
     and all that is within me, bless his holy name
Bless the Lord, O my soul
     and all that is within me, bless his holy name

For he has done great things, he has done great things,
     he has done great things, he's so good to me

I love him so, I love him so, I love him so,
     he's so good to me


O LORD YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL
O Lord, you're beautiful
     Your face is all I seek
And when your eyes are on this child
     Your grace abounds to me

I want to take your Word and shine it all around
     but first, help me to just live it, Lord
And when I'm doing well, help me to never seek a crown
     for my reward is giving glory to you

O Lord, please light the fire
     that once burned bright and clear
Replace the lamp of my first love
     that burns with holy fear


Lord, you are worthy to receive all glory and honor and power. For you have created all things, and all things that are good come from you. You give us life, you give us breath, you give us food to eat, friends to enjoy, and family to share our lives with. Our family is here today, Lord, the family of God, to feast at your table, to gather around your throne, to enjoy your presence, and to bring you pleasure by gladly putting our hearts and minds on you.

You may be seated, as we stay in the presence of the Lord and go to his Word.

Last week we read from Matthew chapter seven where Jesus says, "Those who hear these words of mine and put them into practice are like a wise person who builds their house on the rock. The rains fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it stood because it was founded upon the rock.

"Those who hear these words of mine and do not put them into practice are like a foolish person who builds their house on the sand. The rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was its fall."

We talked about the fact that unless our lives are founded on the solid foundation of Jesus and his Word, and unless the things we build are things that God has instructed us to build, everything we've worked a lifetime for will be washed away.

But those things that we build on the solid rock of Jesus and his Word, and which are built according to God's perfect plan for our lives, those things will stand the test of time, will stand through the storms of life, and will last for all eternity.

We also noted that this passage was Jesus' conclusion to a long message, and that he was saying specifically that if we build our lives on the words he had just spoken, we would be able to stand through anything that comes our way, because our lives will be founded on a solid rock.

So we're going to spend today and the next few weeks reading and talking about the REST of his message, and seeing how we can apply his words to our lives, and how we, too, can have a firm foundation and a life built on that foundation that cannot be shaken.

Let's read from Matthew chapter five, beginning with verse one:

"Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
      for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
      for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
      for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
      for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Many messages could be preached about this passage, taking weeks to preach without stopping, but today I'm going to preach only a few hours' worth...

No teleporting away, I was kidding! Today we're going to look at the big picture of this passage, and save the details for another time.

Jesus continues to say, "Blessed are these people, and blessed are those people... You're blessed when you are like this, and you're blessed when you do that..."

Jesus says these people are blessed:

The poor in spirit.
Those who mourn.
The meek.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
The merciful.
The pure in heart.
The peacemakers.
Those who are persecuted because of righteousness.

Let's start with the first one: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

The word "poor" can be translated "lowly and afflicted, without position and honor". We are all instructed to seek the kingdom of heaven above all else, even if we do have position and honor. Regardless of our financial status, we can have the kingdom of heaven. Regardless of our social status, we can have the kingdom of heaven.

To be lowly and afflicted, to have no position and no honor of men, is a place of humility.

I realize that no matter what material posessions I may have, no matter how much someone else may esteem me, no matter what position I may achieve in life, I am weak, fallen, mortal flesh, and without Jesus I have no hope.

When we realize that all we have is nothing, and that without him we are hopeless, lost, twisted in our minds and hearts, and utterly naked, blind, and desperately poor, then we will begin to see clearly the incredible riches, the unmeasurable wealth he has given us -- namely his kingdom, his authority, his power, his honor, his glory, his majesty, his redemption, his friendship, and his very blood flowing through our spiritual veins, making us sons and daughters of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord.

To raise one's self to greatness is to become low; but to humble one's self before God is to find true and eternal greatness.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Next Jesus tells us, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

We read in Psalm 126:5 that "those who sow in tears will reap in joy." We tend to avoid sadness for the most part, seeking desperately for anything that will bring us or add to our happiness.

And God is the giver of happiness. Those who love God and seek his face are undeniably the happiest people on earth.

But those who follow after Jesus also follow him into times of weeping and mourning. Scripture tells us that Jesus was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."

When he saw unbelief, he wept. When he saw the people of God missing their time of salvation, he wept. We don't know exactly what his daily, early-morning times of prayer were like, but I believe he not only delighted in rapturous, intimate fellowship with his Father God, but also shed many tears, crying out in pain for those who were in darkness, interceeding for their deliverance from their chains of sin, crying out for the broken in body and the broken in heart and mind, and praying, as the Scripture says, "with groanings that cannot be spoken."

And as he went through his days doing the Father's will, he saw the fruit of his weeping, as he reaped the healing and deliverance of the sick and bound, and he reaped these rewards in comfort and joy.

Perhaps you're going through a different kind of mourning, perhaps from the death of someone dear to your heart, or the sickness of a loved one, or perhaps for a reason that is hidden even to you. But Jesus promises to pour out his healing oil upon you as you call on his name. He said, "The one who comes to me, I will certainly not send away." He's waiting today, right now, to take you in his arms and wipe away your tears. Run into the arms of the Master today, and receive his comfort and healing for your soul.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Next we read, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."

The dictionary paints a meek person as someone who is humble in spirit, who is completely obedient and submissive, who is patient and gentle. They claim no rights of their own. They are selfless and look out only for others.

Scripture tells us Jesus was meek, and we see this by his humility, even saying that of his own human self, he can do nothing. He was completely obedient and submissive to the will of God, even to the point of dying a cruel and horrible death on the cross, and bearing the full shame of every wicked and unspeakable sin you, I, and every other human being has ever committed. He was endlessly patient, and powerfully gentle.

We think of dominating, forceful people as the ones who take over lands and kingdoms and peoples. But Jesus tells us that it is the meek who will inherit the earth.

In Psalm 50 verse 10, God says, "Every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills." In Psalm 24 verse 1 we read, "The earth is the Lord, and all it contans; the world, and those who live therein."

When we exchange our interests, our will, and our rights for God's, we exchange all we own for all he owns. And as we walk in humble obedience to him, we can know that as royalty, as long as we follow his leading and obey his voice, we are the richest, most powerful people alive, for our Father owns the world, all that is in it, and even the people who think they own themselves.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Next we read, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

Are you hungry and thirsty today for the things of God? Do you long for his righteousness in your life? Do you want to be holy and acceptable in his sight?

If not, just ask him, and he will create that desire in you. And as you hunger and thirst, desperately seeking for his righteousness, which brings peace and joy into your life, you will find it, and your life and the lives of those around you will never be the same again.

In Romans chapter 14 verse 17 we read, "The kingdom of God is not food or drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

Remember Jesus' first point, that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are poor in spirit? Remember we saw how the kingdom of heaven is unspeakable and breathtaking, dazzling riches of all kinds? Now we read that the kingdom of God isn't food or drink, things that pass away, but it is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

And as we hunger and thirst after the things of God, and after his Holy Spirit, and after his righteousness to be established in our lives and in everything we think, say, and do, we will begin to see the peace and joy of his kingdom as it is established firmly in our lives. And we will have this fullness of the joy of God's kingdom not only to an extent; rather, we will be absolutely filled to overflowing.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Next Jesus says, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."

I think few of us realize just how much mercy we need. Perhaps we think we've never done anything worthy of death, much less of hell. But through whose eyes are we judging ourselves?

Knowing that we are born with a fallen human nature, and we have minds that are twisted and out of line with God's mind, and that, as Scripture tells us, our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked, perhaps we don't see ourselves as we really are.

I may think that lusting after my neighbor's wife isn't such a bad thing, certainly not worthy of eternal torture and placing me in desperate need of mercy. But just maybe I can't grasp right thinking. Just maybe my thoughts aren't as high as God's thoughts. Just maybe my ways are beneath his ways.

Maybe I just can't understand what is really good and right because I am far less than perfect.

So no matter if you're a mass murderer and rapist, or if you're a filantropist who never thinks of him or herself, only of others; regardless of who you are or what you have or haven't done, you need God's mercy no less than the next person.

Jesus tells a parable about a man who owed a great lord millions of dollars. The lord called him in demanding payment. The man fell to his knees and begged him to be patient, swearing to pay every penny.

The lord felt compassion for the man and had mercy on him, and forgave his debt, totally wiping it away.

Later that same man saw someone who owed him a few dollars, and demanded he pay. The man begged him for mercy, but instead of showing mercy, he threw him into debtor's prison until he could pay every penny.

The lord found out what this man had done, and called for him. He said, "You wicked man, didn't I forgive you of your millions of dollars you owed me? Why then did you not have mercy on this man who owed you only a little?"

And with that, the lord threw the man into the dungeon, where he was doomed to stay, since he could never pay off his debt, for the rest of his life.

We think we're pretty good people, and perhaps, compared to other people, we are. But all of us, compared to God, are desperately twisted and wicked, and we owe a debt of sin so great that none of us could ever pay it off.

But God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to die a cruel death on the cross; he who never sinned became sin for us, taking the blame for everything we've ever done or will ever do that is contrary to the nature of God.

God had mercy on us, and he paid the ultimate price to pay our debt. How then can we expect to have his blessing on our life, how can we expect to have his peace, his joy, his presence, and his Holy Spirit, if we lock others up in our prisons of unforgiveness, if we are quick to judge others instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt, and if we reserve our mercy for those we think deserve it?

God requires only three things of us, which we read in Micah 6:8: "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you? but to do what's right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

Mercy is vital. We must show mercy; we must LOVE mercy rather than revenge. And as we show mercy to others, especially those we think don't deserve mercy, God will in turn make sure mercy is poured out upon us.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Third to last, Jesus says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

How can we have pure hearts? We've already read that the heart of mankind is desperately wicked. How then can a human heart be pure?

After falling into both adultery and murder, King David realizes what he has done and begs God for forgiveness, and that God not take his Holy Spirit away.

Jesus tells us that every sin comes out of the heart, so we know from David's sins that his heart was not pure.

On the other hand, we also read that King David was a man after God's own heart.

How can this be so? How can one man have an unclean heart AND be a man after God's own heart?

Let's read part of his prayer in Psalms, the 51st chapter, beginning with the first verse, and we will see how a man with wickedness in his heart can be made clean:

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

"For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

"Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

"Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

"Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

"Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

"Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."

David hungered after God, after his presence, after his righteousness. And he was filled.

When King David is mentioned throughout Scripture, he is not mentioned like we would mention a leader today who had sinned and then repented.

If today's media were to write about David, they would refer to him as "A murderer, an adulterer, misleading the people for personal gain."

But Scripture refers to him time and time again as "A man after God's own heart."

When kings who came after David either followed after God or rebelled against God, Scripture says "And so-and-so did not follow after God as did King David", or "And so-and-so followed after God as did King David".

It doesn't matter what you've done, or even what sins bind you today. You can have a pure heart. You can be a man or a woman after God's own heart.

Seek after God with a broken, humble, and contrite spirit. Take to heart your utter dependence upon him and his mercy and forgiveness. Seek his Holy Spirit, his righteousness, his presence in your life, more than you seek anything else on earth.

And God will do a work of purification in you as only he can do. Then you, too, will have a pure heart, and be a man or woman after the very heart of God.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Next Jesus tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."

It's too easy to stir up strife. It's too easy to talk badly about others. It's too easy to speak evil of our leaders, and of those in authority. It's too easy to gossip, to spread hatred, to spread discord and division.

But we will not be blessed if we do not spread peace.

Spreading peace does not necessarily mean never standing up for what's right, or even never using force. Sometimes force is absolutely vital to making peace.

This world is full of wicked men and women whose driving force and passion is to dominate others and remove freedom and peace. Scripture is clear when it tells us in Romans 13:

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

"Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

"For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

"For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."


These verses come immediately after the verse which says, "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay". And he does so through those who are called of God and put in power by God to use physical force to bring both vengeance and peace.

When we start really paying attention, I believe we will all be surprised at how many opportunities we have to be peacemakers.

We can start by examining our own hearts, and surrendering any unforgiveness, bitterness, and hatred to Jesus, and asking him to change our hearts.

Do we gossip? Stop it!
Do we speak evil of those in authority? Stop it!
Do we spread evil reports about others? Stop it!
Do we argue about differences of opinion instead of being humble and seeking to disagree peaceably? Stop it!

Scripture tells us to "seek peace and pursue it."

We must stop letting our differences divide us, and start living in peace one with another.

We must stop fighting amongst ourselves and instead build one another up in the Faith.

We must stop thinking and speaking badly of others, and instead speak only those things that edify and build up the Body of Christ.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.

And finally, Jesus tells us, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

If we're not being persecuted by anyone, we're probably hiding our light just a little too much. If no one is ever offended by any loving truth we speak, we're probably not very salty, and we won't see God do the mighty things we wants to do through us.

I'd like to point out here that Jesus isn't saying we'll be blessed just because we're persecuted, or because we're spoken badly of because we're acting unChristlike, or because we speak the truth, but not in love; rather, we'll be blessed if we are persecuted for righteousness, and because we follow after Jesus.

As the end draws closer, the hatred toward Jesus and those who truly follow after him will continue to grow. As society becomes more convinced that truth is all relative, and that truth is decided by what each person chooses to believe, the more we who hold to the solid, firm, unshakable and unchanging truth of God's Word will be laughed at, ridiculed, abused, or at best dismissed.

Scripture tells us that the Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, but life to those who believe. The mind bent on pleasing itself cannot accept the truth, but as we stand strong in the face of persecution, as we refuse to weaken even in the face of torture and death, the light of God that radiates from within us will draw those whose hearts are open to the foot of the cross.

Lives will be changed. Bodies will be healed. Marriages will be restored. And great things will happen.

And it all starts with taking this passage to heart, and surrendering full control of all these areas of our hearts to the Holy Spirit of God, engraving these words of Jesus upon our hearts and minds:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
      for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
      for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
      for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
      for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The ministry team can come stand accross the front as we pray.

Father God, thank you for your Word. Thank you for speaking to us today.

We ask that you breath on us, that you stir up our hearts, that you turn up the heat so you can skim off more impurities.

Today can be a brand new day, a day to dedicate ourselves fresh and new to Jesus. Today we can latch on to God like never before, setting our faces like flint and going after God with every fiber of our beings.

If you want someone to join in prayer with you, instant message one of the ministry team standing at the front now.

This altar is open. Come and pray. Come and seek the face of God. Come and make a fresh commitment to Jesus.

If you are not yet born again, if you have not yet made Jesus the Lord of your life, come speak with one of us, and we will help you take that first step toward becoming a brand new creation, where your slate is wiped clean and you have a brand new start.

The rest of you can go next door to the fellowship room, where we'll all meet up after ministry. Or, you can stay here and be in prayer.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen.