Posted on 10/14/2012 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***
I WILL ENTER YOUR GATES
I will enter your gates
with thanksgiving in my heart
I will enter your courts
I will say this is the day
that the Lord has made
I will rejoice for
you have made me glad!
You have made me glad,
you have made me glad
I will rejoice for
you have made me glad
NOBODY LIKE YOU
(There's) Nobody like you Lord
Nobody like you
Nobody like you Lord
You are worthy
You alone are King of Kings
You alone are Lord of Lords
You alone are worthy there is
No one else like you
Every knee on earth will bow
Every tongue confess that you are
Lord above the heavens,
There is no one else like you!
THERE IS NONE LIKE YOU
There is none like you
No one else can touch my heart like you do
I could search for all eternity long and find
There is none like you
Your mercy flows like a river wide
and healing comes from your hands
Suffering children are safe in your arms
There is none like you
*** listen to the audio for the introduction ***
Are you blessed today? Better yet, do you KNOW you're blessed today? And do you want have a special blessing that is a direct response to favor with God?
Well, I'll let you in on a little secret.
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 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 your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.
Seek first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Let's read today from Matthew chapter five, beginning with verse one:
Matthew 5:1-12 (NKJV)
1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.
2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Now, we've talked about this passage twice already, but I'd like for us to take another look, because this passage is meant for every single one of us, and Jesus intends for us to live by it.
And the title of today's message is, "Being Blessed."
Many messages have been preached about this passage, and we could talk about this for weeks without stopping. But today I'm going to preach only a few hours' worth.
Seriously though, today we're going to look at the big picture of this passage.
Jesus says, "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..."
And these are the people Jesus says are blessed:
The poor in spirit.
Those who mourn.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
The pure in heart.
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, and instead we seek desperately for anything that will bring us happiness or add to the level of happiness we already have.
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, as He cried out in pain for those who were in darkness; as He interceeded for their deliverance from their chains of sin; and as He cried out for the broken in body and the broken in heart and mind, praying, as the Scripture says, "with groanings that cannot be uttered."
And as He went through His days doing the Father's will, He saw the fruit of His weeping; 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 you don't even understand. But Jesus promises to pour out His healing oil on 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 His 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 describes a meek person as someone who is humble in spirit, someone who is completely obedient and submissive, someone who is patient and gentle. They don't demand their own rights. They are selfless and look out only for others.
Scripture tells us that Jesus was meek, and we see this by His humility. Even He said that of his own human self, He could 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 beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills." In Psalm 24 verse 1 we read, "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contans; the world, and those who live therein."
When we exchange our interests, our will, and our rights for God's interests and His will, 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; He even owns 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 to make you hungry, and He will create that desire in you. And as you hunger and thirst, desperately seeking for His righteousness, that righteousness which brings peace and joy into your life, then 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 as we hunger and thirst after His Holy Spirit, and as we seek for His righteousness to be established in our lives and in everything we think, say, and do, then we will begin to see the peace and joy of His kingdom as it is established firmly in our lives. And we will have the 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?
I think all of us here today know that we were born with a fallen human nature, and that 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. So perhaps we don't see ourselves as we really are.
You might think that lusting after your neighbor's wife isn't such a bad thing, certainly not worthy of eternal torture, and certainly not placing you in desperate need of mercy. But just maybe you can't grasp right thinking. Just maybe your thoughts aren't as high as God's thoughts. Just maybe your ways are beneath his ways.
Maybe we just can't understand what is really good and right because we are 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 yourself; 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 He listed 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 made pure?
After falling into both adultery and murder, King David realized what he had done and begged God for forgiveness, and that God would not take His Holy Spirit away from him.
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?
Well, let's read part of King David's prayer in Psalm chapter 51, beginning with the first verse, and we will see how a man with wickedness in his heart can be made clean:
Psalm 51:1-12 (NKJV)
1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,[a]
And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
David hungered after God, after His presence, and 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, who misleads 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 you will be a man or a 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 sometimes way too easy to stir up strife. To talk badly about others. 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 truly blessed if we do not spread peace.
And it's important for us to realize that 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.
I mean, let's face it: this world is full of wicked men and women whose driving force and passion in life is to dominate others and to steal their freedom and peace. Scripture is clear when it tells us in Romans 13:
Romans 13:1-4 (NKJV)
1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
4 For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
These verses come immediately after the verse which says, "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay". And how does God repay? He repays through those who are called of God and put in power by God to use physical force to bring both vengeance and peace.
But your first choice for bringing peace should be peaceful, and it should always be within the law of God and the law of the land.
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 through us He wants to do.
I'd like to point out here that Jesus is not 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, and as we refuse to weaken even in the face of torture and death, then 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.
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.
This altar is open, and you're all invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front, and let's just spend a few minutes seeking after God.
If you want someone to talk or pray with you, feel free to instant message Mariposa or me.
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.
In a few minutes, we're going to meet in the room to your left for a bit of fellowship, so when you're done at the altar, you're invited to make your way over there.
Come, and let's bless God, as we meditate upon the true meaning of Being Blessed.