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Bless Your Heart

Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12
Date: 07/12/2003 
This sermon is on the Beatitudes given by Jesus in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5. Blessings do not always come in the way we expect them.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Thank you, Timothy. Thank you, John; that was beautiful. It’s good to have John and Angie with us. Good friends. I wish they weren’t so far away. Now I see them on TV all the time. I don’t turn on the volume, but I do watch them. If you’re singing I turn it on. Good friends. It was nice to have them at the house last night and wonderful to have them here today.

This morning I am going to do my best—you pray for me—to take something that is really a cornerstone of Christianity… Often ministers reserve this subject for a series of sermons. But sometimes there is an advantage of getting a panorama, sort of a sweeping look, at some principles and teachings. We’re talking about the beatitudes. Sermon title is Bless Your Heart. Because that’s what the Lord wants to do, the Lord wants to bless you.

You know, there was a famous minister—Chapman. And a friend came to him one morning and he said, “How are you doing today, sir?” And he said, “I am burdened this morning.” But he said it while he was smiling. And he said, “It’s a wonderful burden. It’s an overabundance of blessings for which I cannot find enough time or words to express my gratitude.” Chapman added with a smile, I am referring to Psalm 68:19 that says, “He daily loads us with benefits.” Are you burdened with blessings? God wants to bless you. And I don’t know if there are very many truths in the Bible that illustrate this more than the introductory remarks of Jesus when He began His sermon on the mount it was with blessing. Let me read them to you. If you have your Bibles, turn please to Matthew 5.

We’re going to be all over the place in the Word of God this morning, but this will be out foundation. Matthew 5, and we’ll be looking at verses 1 through 12 to start with. I’ve got a little assignment for the young people here. I need some help. This is going to be a Bible sermon today. If you can keep track of how many references Pastor Doug uses. How many Scriptures I quote. You don’t need to write them out, just make a little mark for every separate Scripture that I quote today. I’m curious. I really don’t know. I’d like to know that after the sermon. You give that to me and Pastor John has a gift for you. You can see him…

Alright Matthew 5:1, “And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain. And when He was seated, His disciples came to Him.” And obviously the multitudes were there around the disciples. “And He opened His mouth and taught them saying…” I love the fact that the first word out of Jesus’ mouth was “Blessed.” That’s why the angel said, “Peace and goodwill.” The Gospel is Good News. Jesus came to bless us. He wants to bless your heart. “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 obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets before you.”

Now, there is so much here that I could talk about. For one thing, this covers the sequence of salvation, these blessings. We’re not sure how many there are. Every Bible scholar sort of numbers them differently. Some say that there are 8. Some say there are 9, because they divide the ones on persecution into two. You can actually find 10 blessings in here, because the last one is, “Rejoice and be exceeding glad.” That in itself is a blessing. And so numerically sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how to divide them. But I want to go through them with you and talk about these great blessings. And I’m hoping that as a result, the Lord will bless your heart.

Somebody once said it would be difficult in history to find so few words spoken with so much meaning. Such teaching was contrary to all they had ever heard from the priests or rabbis. They see in it nothing to flatter their pride or to feed their ambitious hopes. The blessings of God do not come wrapped the way we might expect them. Any of you save wrapping paper? Any of you that would admit that you save wrapping paper? Our drawers up in Covelo are still, to this day, lined with the wrapping paper from our wedding. It always looks peculiar to me, but I don’t dare take it out. Because there’s some beautiful wrapping paper, but you don’t usually find it under the toothbrush. We save, of course, when there’s a birthday, or a wedding, or an anniversary, graduation; you go buy some wrapping paper. Sometimes I will get a gift for someone for a birthday, or for Christmas, or for some event, and on rare occasions I will wrap things myself. More than once I’ve had Karen say, “What is this gift for?” And I’ll say, “Well, that’s for so-and-so’s birthday.” “Well, Doug, that’s Christmas wrapping paper.” So I figured, you know, what difference does it make? “There’s little balloons on it. What’s that for? That’s for their anniversary?” “That’s birthday wrapping paper.” “Well they’ll be surprised, won’t they?” Sometimes gifts you can’t always tell from the wrapping.

The blessings that Jesus offered, it shocks people. Because the last thing in the world the people wanted to hear the Messiah say was, “Blessed are the poor.” “Huh?” And, you know, that’s still true today. The church has trouble swallowing a blessing that begins with ‘poverty.’ That’s why preachers are saying God wants you to be rich. And yet, Jesus said how hard it is for the rich to get into the kingdom of Heaven. He begins by saying, “Blessed are the poor.” It seems like a series of contradictions. Blessed are those who mourn? Blessed are the meek? You know, I mean, the Jews said, “Blessed are the strong. Blessed are the proud. Blessed are the rich.” And everything He said seemed to be a contradiction, a series of contrasts. It was all a paradox.

Now, the word blessing—I was wishing Pastor Kontes were here today to help me—comes from a Greek word marcaeros. And it doesn’t just mean blessed or happy. It means supremely blessed. It’s the strongest word that they had in Greek. And the English equivalent would be b-l-e-s-s-e-d. That’s different that blessed, right? There was an intensity to it. Greatly, supremely, blessed. So whenever you hear me say the word blessed in the beatitudes, I want you to say in your mind b-l-e-s-s-e-d. It’s much more than the way we would use the word. To be fortunate, to be well off, to be happy. These are some of the definitions for that word blessed in the original language.

Now, it’s a deep teaching, and you’ll understand more as we go on. There’s some heavy things here. Because the blessings of God do not come wrapped the way we expect them. Sometimes… Have you ever opened a gift and you look at it, and you want to look—especially if the giver’s nearby—you want to look pleased, but within yourself you’re thinking, “Orange placemats? Thank you so much.” Or whatever it might be. Karen and I still have some wedding gifts we haven’t made up our mind who to give them to. Cheridah, there’s a wedding tomorrow isn’t there? We’ve got some orange placemats for you. Sometimes people get gifts and they’re thinking, “What am I going to do with this?” And that’s I think how people choked on the beatitudes that Jesus gave. But as you really understand where He’s coming from, you begin to value how rich the blessings really were. And some of it is even written in code, and we’re going to see if we can unscramble some of that for you today.

Malcom Mugeridge said, “The beatitudes put the yeast of love in the fat, flat dough of human greed, spite, and willfulness, so it can rise.” It introduces something in our natures to help us rise.

Let’s begin going one by one through the various beatitudes. Have you ever tried to memorize them? You know, when I went to Catholic school, the only Biblical instruction that I remember was the beatitudes. We did have a Bible class and they talked about the beatitudes. And I remember hearing a story—and I hope I don’t mess this up—that’s designed to help you memorize the beatitudes. Now picture, if you will, a hobo. We all remember the days of the hobos and the trains. He’s going down the tracks, he’s hungry. He comes to a hobo camp off by the tracks in the woods. You’ve got to stay with the story and it will help you memorize the beatitudes. And on the fire they have a big pot and they’re cooking parsnips and peas. And he sees that and he stumbles and he says, “I’m starved. Can you give me some?” And they pour him a dish. And he eats the first one and he’s still hungry. And so he responds and this is what he says, something to the effect of… Oh wait. I’ve got to turn to Matthew 5 to say this in order. “Pour more.” He’s had some. “Pour more. Me hungry.” He’s not a very articulate hobo. “Pour more. Me hungry. Mercy sakes. Pure. Peas and parsnips.” “Pour more. Me hungry. Mercy sakes. Pure. Peas and parsnips.” Now, you can unscramble that and you realize what you get there. For instance, let me say… If I say, “Pure.” Someone say the whole beatitude that goes with pure. “Blessed are the… for they shall…” See, once you know the order you know what the rest of it is typically, right? It’s getting the order of the different blessings. And so, that story helps you remember them. You’ll ask me about that later. Anyway…

Let’s go through them one by one. “Blessed are…” Let’s say them together. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” You’re sure thankful for the book of Matthew. Because Luke says, “Blessed are the poor.” Period. And not too many of us wanted to leave it there. Now, it is true that there is a blessing in being poor. You ever thought about that? What does Jesus say about the rich? Is it easy to be saved for the rich? Is it because money is evil? Or is it a misdirection of the love of money? So in one respect there is a blessing connected with poor. You know, the poor people trust God more than the rich people. People who are rich trust their riches.

Somebody did a survey, some newspaper and I honestly forget. But the percentage of North Americans earning less than $30,000 a year that believe that the meek will inherit the earth was 68%. The percentage of Americans earning $60,000 or more a year that believe the meek will inherit the earth was only 31%. And I wonder if that percentage goes down the more they earn. There’s a faith connected with it. You know, one of the dangers of being rich is it’s misguided trust. So when He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” it tells us that it’s not that there’s virtue in poverty. There really is no virtue in poverty. The virtue is in being poor in spirit. Now, why is that? Matthew 12, Jesus said, “I tell you this poor widow has cast in more than all those,” this is verse 43, “who have cast into the treasury. For they have their abundance, gave a little bit. But she, out of her poverty, gave everything she had.” Are poor people more willing to give everything? How many of you expect Bill Gates or Ted Turner to give everything they own? No. They say, “I’ve worked too hard to get it.” But when you don’t have much, is it easier to give everything? When you’re poor in spirit, it’s easier to make a total sacrifice. How much does Jesus want? The man who finds the treasure in the field, or the merchant who finds the pearl of great price, he goes and he sells everything. It’s easier to sell everything when you don’t have much, isn’t it? And so, being poor in spirit is a recognition that we are spiritually destitute and bankrupt. They’re humble and they’re lowly in their own eyes.

Psalm 109:22, King David said... Now was King David poor? Financially? But listen to what he says, “I am poor and needy.” Was he needing material things, or what was the need David’s talking about? “I am spiritually poor. My heart is wounded within me. I am poor and needy. My heart is wounded.” It was a poverty of heart that he recognized. This is what it means to be poor of spirit. Who did Jesus come to preach to? Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He’s anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor.” Does that mean that Jesus was being exclusive? Was He segregating off the rich and saying, “I’m not going to preach to you because you’re rich. I’m just going to preach to the poor.” Is it a sin to have resources? Is that what He was saying? If that’s true then that would exclude, Jesus would not have preached to, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or Job. Or David or Solomon. So, obviously, when it says, “He sent me to preach the Gospel to the poor,” it means the poor in spirit. Amen? Are you with me still?

Revelation 3:17. How many of you know this one by heart? What does it say? What is the final condemnation on the Laodicean church? “Because you think, you say, ‘I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing.’ But you don’t know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.” What poverty is Jesus talking about? Is it materialism? Or is it a generation of religious people who do not recognize that they are spiritually bankrupt? Now, I’ve told you that the beatitudes have a sequence of salvation. Step 1 in salvation is repentance. Poor in spirit is when you recognize how weak you are. You recognize that without God’s help, you are helpless. Those people will be blessed. They will be the ones that will comprise the kingdom of Heaven. They have taken that first step of realizing that in their own they can do nothing. The poor in spirit are those who claim no personal merit. They do not boast of any virtue they have within themselves. They realize their utter helplessness and they are deeply convicted of sin and they cast themselves on Jesus, who is all righteous and is all compassionate. This is what it means to be poor in spirit. If you recognize your spiritual poverty, that’s a blessing. That is a real blessing. Because it opens the way for you to receive every other blessing. If you don’t have that first blessing of realizing that our hearts are desperately wicked, that without God we are nothing, you cannot receive any other blessing from God. It’s the first step.

Next one. Next beatitude. Matthew 5:4, say it with me, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Now, who would like to market Christianity by saying, “Come, follow Me and mourn?” Is that a good strategy for getting converts? “Let’s all get together and mourn.” Well, this isn’t very far removed from that first blessing. Let me see if I can illustrate. James 4:8. What is the mourning? Is it the kind of mourning where you stay down? Or is it the kind of mourning where you recognize your weakness, you repent of it… Does mourning often articulate itself? Keep in mind, when someone died in Judaism, they would actually hire mourners. What did they do? Frown or wail? They would actually wail. They’d play instruments. It was something that was expressed. Those who mourn are expressing to God, in confession, their sorrow for sin.

Let me illustrate this. James, I told you, James 4:8-10, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” That’s the first one. “Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn…” It’s not over someone who’s died. It’s over the death we have inside. “Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom…” I’m sure glad it doesn’t stop there. You can take everything the Bible says in this theme, you can put all those Scriptures together, and you could really make Christianity sound depressing. Go to the book of Joel. Go to the book of Lamentations. There’s a whole book in the Bible about mourning. You know what they were mourning? Their captivity. In Lamentations they’re mourning their captivity. Have any of us been taken captive by the enemy? Have you ever felt like you were chained, holden with the cords of your sin? I’m glad it doesn’t stop there in James. He says, “Let your laughter be turned to mourning, your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of God. He will lift you up.”

That’s the blessing. Before He can bless you and lift you up, you must humble yourself. Before He can make you rejoice and have peace and joy—Biblical joy, real, pure joy—you must humble yourself. I want you to say that with me. Because I’m afraid you’re going to miss that part. “And He will lift you up.” Say that with me. “And He will lift you up.” The Bible says He will cause you to ride upon the high places of the earth. The Lord wants you to have joy, but it’s not the joy of the world. It’s not the frivolous, giddy, giggling, that you would find that is unclean. This is what Luke is talking about. Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke 6:25, “Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.” Is it a sin to laugh? Or is He talking about the laughter of the world? You know, the whole Bible, the teaching of Jesus, was really a teaching on order, sequence. Lose your life now, keep it later. If you try to save your life now, you lose it later. Mourn now, laugh later. Humble yourself now, high places of the earth. Mourn now, rejoice later. See what I’m saying? Poor now, rich later. If you want the sinful pleasures of the world first, you won’t have it second. But the first ones don’t last. So we need to get the sequence right.

Something else about this mourning. Who is it that receives the seal of God in Ezekiel 9? “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem. Put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over the abominations that are done within it.” Sighing and crying. Would you call that mourning? Why are they mourning? Now, we’ve talked about mourning for our sin. But it’s also mourning for sin among God’s people. Is that to be the attitude of the redeemed? It tells us here in 2 Peter 2:8, a righteous man, Lot, dwelling in Sodom and Gomorrah, “He tormented his righteous soul day and night, seeing and hearing their lawless deeds.” You know, if you get to the place where you are exposed to sin in your life or around you and it doesn’t bother you, you’re not blessed anymore. If you are hurt by sin, then you are blessed. That’s a blessing. It means that you still have that sensitivity of the Holy Spirit working in your. When you get to the place where you’re not grieved by sin, you may have grieved away the Holy Spirit. And that’s very dangerous. Blessed are those who mourn. What’s the promise? They’ll be comforted.

Now, is that also true… I’ve got somebody… I went to visit a father this week who lost his son, as we lost a son. And I commiserated with him a little bit. And I said, “You know, I’ve been finding some comfort. How about you? It’s been over a year. How are you doing?” He said, “It isn’t any better.” And the only thing I can conclude was I have the Lord, I’m a believer, and he does not profess to know the Lord. The Lord does comfort us in our mourning physically, too, doesn’t He? And so, these things on a tangible basis… Does God bless the poor? Does He provide for their needs? Did Jesus bless that widow that gave her last two cents? Did He bless the widow that Elijah stayed with? I mean, does God care for the poor? Sure. But it’s so much more than that. Does He comfort those that mourn? Yes He does.

What is verse 3… Or beatitude number 3. Matthew 5:5, say it with me. Ready? “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” I remember one preacher saying at one time there probably were dinosaurs that were thundering around on the planet. But they’re extinct. And the place and the meadows where the dinosaurs once roamed—though I don’t believe it was millions of years ago. I do believe that there were these giant reptiles—now the sheep are grazing. It’s kind of funny when you think that the dinosaurs are gone, thunder lizards, and little sheep are grazing there. Blessed are the meek. They will inherit the earth.

You know, you would not think that it would be the meek that would be the winners. Because we often equate meekness with what? Weakness. And that’s not accurate. To be truly meek is to be very strong. To be meek is to turn the other cheek when you have the power to deck the other guy. That’s meekness. Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” Was Jesus weak? What does meekness mean? It means lowly in heart. It means a humility. He was humbled in heart. “And you will find rest unto your souls.” Is there a blessing in meekness?

You know, the opposite of meekness is pride. Meekness is a serenity with your station where God has placed you. It’s not clamoring and striving for higher and higher ground. Those who are serene and humble have a peace. Those who are proud, are they at peace? They’re not blessed. They’re always restless. People who do not think they’re getting enough recognition are never satisfied, are they? They’re always wanting more. And so, blessed are the meek, they will inherit the earth. Matthew 5:39, “I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on the right cheek turn to him the other.”

Peter Marshall said, “Lord, when we’re wrong make us willing to change. And when we’re right make us easy to live with.” That’s meekness. W. Tozer said, “The meek man knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him, and he’s stopped caring.” Meekness means you don’t care what the world thinks of you near as much as you care about what God thinks of you. That’s meekness. John Calvin, the great reformer, when he was nearing death, he instructed his friends to place him in a common, unmarked grave with the poor. He said he did not want his followers making a shrine of his tomb. To this day, we don’t know where they buried Calvin. Now that’s meekness, isn’t it? He had that spirit.

The next beatitude, Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those…” Now this is the hungry one, okay? “Blessed are those who hunger…” You’re not saying them with me, come on. This isn’t that hard. Say them with me. It’s good for you. It helps you remember. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Now if Jesus had just stopped at, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst…” Any of you ever tried to find a blessing by starving yourself? No. But you know, there is. This week I was visiting with a friend who’s having a challenge with a son. He said, “Doug, what can I do?” I said, “You pray for him and fast, that the Lord will bring him to these meetings.” Karen and I got an email last night and he said, “Doug, I did what you said. I prayed and I fasted for my boy and he showed up at the meetings last night.” Blessed are those who hunger and thirst. Maybe there is something there.

Sometimes it pays to learn how to control ourselves. But it’s much deeper than that. I think it’s really appealing to the spiritual hunger and thirst. He explains it. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Now, was Jesus inventing this concept or is He actually quoting the Bible? Psalm 42:1-2, King David said, “As the deer pants for the water brook, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Now, thirst is even better than hunger as an illustration of yearning for God. You know why? You can live 50, 60, days with out food. The longest hunger strike I remember was someone from the IRA that went on a hunger strike. He made it 80 days before he died. He finally died. They let him starve to death.

How long are you going to last without water? Typically 3, 4, days you’ll die. Depends on the temperature. In an earthquake in Mexico, a man was trapped but it was a humid, moist building where he was trapped. He lived 9 days without water. And that’s the record as far as I know. So when it says, “…thirsting after God,” it really feels a little more acute. Have you ever felt the satisfaction of liquid when you’re all dried out? It can come so fast. Especially when you’ve just eaten something that’s real dry and sticky.

On my way to church this morning… Karen got these really good bars. She got them at campmeeting. You know Dr. Neil Nedley endorsed these brain food bars. It’s like a granola bar, it’s supposed to help your brain. So I’ve been eating a lot of them. I ate one this morning on my way, but they’ve got peanut butter in them. And after I got one down, I’m ready to gag. And I was praising the Lord I had a little bottle of water stuck under my armrest there. Boy I wouldn’t have made it to church. I would have had to pull over. When you’re really thirsty, you don’t last very long. Blessed are those who thirst for righteousness. You’ve got to do something about it when you’re thirsty.

Are you panting after God? Is your soul yearning for God? And hunger works too. Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts,” John 7:37, like the airplane, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” Where are we going to find that satisfaction for the thirsting in our souls? You come to Jesus, the living water. Proverbs 25:25, “As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news, the Gospel, from a far country.” Jesus brought good news from a far country when He came to earth. Amen? But it’s also the food. John 4:32. Remember the woman at the well? The disciples brought Him food. He says, “I’ve got food that you don’t know about.” What was that food? It was the food of doing the will of God. Hunger and thirsting after righteousness. You’re never going to find satisfaction in the world. If you eat physical food, you’re going to get hungry again. You drink physical water, Jesus said, “You’ll get thirsty again. You’ll have to keep coming back to the well. But the food and the water that I’m offering will give an inner supply. It will be Artesian. It will spring up and satisfy.” Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

What are the priorities with God? Seeking first His kingdom and his what? Righteousness. And that’s doing right. If you’re going to be satisfied with that hunger, we might need to come to our senses like the prodigal son who suddenly woke up and said, “My father’s hired servants have bread and leftovers and I perish with hunger. I will arise and go to my father’s house because that’s where there’s plenty of bread.” If you’re hungry for righteousness, you’ll find it in your Father’s house. Amen? I’m sure glad you came to church today. Job 23:12, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” I often like to remind people that, as important as food is, physical food, if you have to hurry off to the cares of the day and you must choose between your breakfast and your personal devotions, which one is going to prepare your soul for eternity? Your time with God. But how often will we prioritize it that way? “Well, we don’t have time for worship this morning, but let’s get some breakfast and head out the door.” “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” And, let’s admit it, food’s necessary, isn’t it? We pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” but it’s more than that. It’s the bread of God’s Word.

Alright, next beatitude. Verse 7. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.” Very important verse. Now, you can still see this sequence working here. It’s after that we have eaten and drunk from the Lord that we are capable of mercy for others. You can see how that works. Luke 18. The tax collector stood afar off and he would not so much as raise his eyes to Heaven. But he beat upon his breast and he said, “Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” Are you wanting mercy? Anyone here need mercy? I periodically hear people say, “That’s not fair. I’m not getting what I deserve.” And I remind them, “You don’t want what you deserve.” Be careful about that. What I want is mercy. The Pharisee, he acted like he had earned mercy. “I pay tithe and I give all that I have and I go to church. I fast twice a week.” He acted like, “I want what I deserve.” And Jesus said, “Be careful, you’re going to get what you deserve.” The Publican said, “Lord, have mercy on me.” Mercy is big with God. Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justly, to love mercy…” You know justly is righteousness. Same order. “…do justly, love mercy,” love mercy, “and walk humbly with your God.”

You heard me read during Sabbath School Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees. You hypocrites. You pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin and you’ve neglected the weightier matters.” What’s weighty with God? Justice, mercy, and faith. That’s righteousness. Mercy and faith. God wants us to be merciful. You remember that unmerciful debtor? The king forgives him this fabulous sum, ten thousand talents that he cannot repay. He goes and he takes a fellow servant by the throat and says, “Pay me what you owe.” He doesn’t have mercy. He throws him in jail. And the king says, “Because you would not be merciful to him, I am going to deliver you to the tormenters.” Blessed are the merciful, they will obtain mercy. Is it safe for us to say that those that are not merciful will not obtain mercy? I think so. I think that’s real simple theology that you can conclude. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You know, sometimes we’re not merciful with our conversation. Someone wrongs us and we tell everyone about it. Do you want God to advertise your wrongs? Blessed are the merciful. They will obtain mercy. People have trivial debts they can’t repay, and we turn them over to the creditors. Blessed are the merciful, they will have mercy. Do we have debts? This is a very important principle in basic Christian living.

Matthew 5:8, next beatitude. “Blessed…” Are you with me? Verse 8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” You know, I got so excited one day. I did a sermon on Zaccheus. And I always like to do word studies. What did Zaccheus want? He wanted to see Jesus. Jesus is God. He was too short, so he climbed a tree. The best way to see Jesus is to be crucified with Christ, to climb a tree. Right? But then I looked up the word Zacceus. You know what it means? Pure. You wouldn’t think of that little Publican being pure, but that’s what his name meant. Blessed are the pure, for they will see God. He wanted to see God. And Jesus made him pure because He forgave his sins.

Another example of a Publican being forgiven. John 1:47, 51. Nathanial comes to Jesus and Jesus says, “Behold an Israelite in whom is no guile.” That word guile means no deceit, no dishonesty. Nathanial, Jesus was saying, was pure of heart. You know, the Bible tells us this is one of the characteristics of the 144,000. There is no guile found in them, no deceit in their mouths. And you know what He said? Jesus said, “Hereafter you will see the Son of Man ascending and descending on that ladder.” I’m sorry, “You’ll see the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Don’t miss the point. He said, “Here is one who is pure in heart, you are going to see.”

You know, when you are pure in heart the scales fall from your eyes. It was after Saul prayed and repented and his heart was made pure by the blood of the Lamb that Ananias put his hands on his head, and he saw. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. I’d like to see Him someday, friends. I want to see Him and welcome Him. Every eye is going to see Him come. But some are going to run and call for the rocks and mountains to fall on them. The pure in heart will see God the way Moses saw Him, as a friend. The way Abraham saw Him. The way Jacob saw Him. He said, “I have seen God.” The way Manoah saw Him. Psalm 15:1, 2, this is one of the great Psalms, “Who will abide in Your tabernacle?” That’s where God lives. Who will see God? “Who may dwell in Your Holy Hill? He who walks uprightly, who works righteousness and speaks the truth in His heart.” Blessed are the pure in heart. They will see God.

Hebrews 12:14, “Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man will see the Lord.” What is it going to take to see God? Holiness. Purity of heart. Purity of mind. You might be thinking, “How can I ever make it?” The Lord can make you pure. You know, the Bible tells us how it happens. “Everyone…” 1 John 3:3, “Everyone who has this hope in him.” How many of you have the hope in you, the blessed hope? “Everyone who has this hope in him purified himself just as He is pure.” We can be purified, as He is pure, through our faith. That’s what hope means. Through our hope, through our faith, we can be purified. And we will see God.

Now, How many humans are dwelling in the presence of God now that we know of? Well, there’s Enoch. There’s Elijah. Moses. Some at the resurrection of Jesus. There’s a statement I read where it says in the book Patriarch and Prophets for 300 years Enoch had been seeking purity of heart. That’s what it means to walk with God. Isn’t that right? He sought purity of heart, and did he see God? What a privilege that we have, to have that experience. 1 Peter 1:22, “Love one another fervently, with a pure heart.” Is it possible for us who have been defiled by sin and have all these selfish, twisted, motives to be pure? The Bible says it is. God would never say, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God,” if it was not possible for us to be pure in heart. But we can’t do it to ourselves, we need Him to perform heart surgery. Amen? Ask Him to purify our hearts. How does that happen? 1 Peter 2:1, 2, “As newborn babes desire the pure milk of the Word, just as He is pure.” I’m sorry. “…the pure milk of the Word that you might grow thereby.” We become pure as we partake of the pure milk of the Word and through the hope that we have.

Alright, let’s go to the next beatitude. Verse 9. I’m on schedule here. You ready to say it with me? “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” Now, I don’t know if you’ve realized, we’ve arrived at beatitude number seven. This is the seventh beatitude. It identifies the peacemakers. It’s telling us now that they’re doing something beyond themselves. They’re not just talking about their poverty. They’re making peace. Not only are they making peace between themselves and God, but they are a special peace envoy. They are priests making atonement with others. And it’s… The Bible tells us it’s after you are pure, then you make peace.

Did you notice in the Scripture reading this morning, in James 3:17, 18? I want you to notice something. You might even turn to that real quick, if you don’t have that handy. “But the wisdom is from above is first pure, then peaceable.” First what? Before you can be a peacemaker, you need to be pure. First you need to have your heart purified by the blood of Jesus, then you can go and make peace. “Gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy.” Is that one of the beatitudes? Where’d I go here? “…full of mercy, good fruits, without partiality, without hypocrisy, and the fruit of righteousness…” Is that one of the beatitudes? “…is sown in peace of them that make peace.” There are people who are peacemakers. They are characterized as the ones who are in the ministry of reconciliation.

Turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians. I’m going to read a few verses. 2 Corinthians 5:18. I want you to understand this concept of being a peacemaker. 2 Corinthians 5:18, “Now all things are of God who has reconciled us,” you might underline that, “reconciled us to Him through Jesus Christ.” When someone, you know… I heard that… Is the Tour de France still on? The Tour de France is still on, yeah. They talked to the news about the number one contender. I don’t know what will happen. By the time this broadcasts, they’ll know. But Lance Armstrong, I guess he and his wife, the stress of going to France and uprooting the family created a little bit of a rift and for a while they were separated. But they said the good news is they’re reconciled. So reconciliation means parties that are separated being brought back together again.

We are separated from God because of our sins. Your sins, Isaiah says, have separated you from God. But we’ve been reconciled through the blood of Jesus. Amen? Now, keep with me here. And he’s given to us the ministry of reconciliation. That means that our ministry is to reconcile others with God. Verse 19, “That is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and He’s committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ.” We are a peacekeeping team. We are ambassadors for Christ. The world’s at war with Him. We’re to be peacemakers. “We are ambassadors for Christ as through God we are pleading…God is pleading through us for you on Christ’s behalf be reconciled to God.” So here we have this ministry of reconciliation. That’s what it’s talking about when it says blessed are the peacemakers. Because they are the ones who make peace with God first, and then they bring other people to God. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God.”

What’s the promise about the peacemakers? They are the children of God. They are the sons of God. James 5:20, “Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sin.” When you’re involved in the ministry of reconciliation you are turning sinners from the error of their way and covering sin. You are the children of God. You are doing the work of God.

Is everybody a child of God? You know, some people say everybody is God’s child. You know, the Bible doesn’t teach that. No it doesn’t. You’re not going to find a Scripture that says everybody, lost or saved, is a child of God. Jesus said to the religious leaders, “You’re not Abraham’s children. You’re of your father, the devil. The works of your father you’ll do.” Do children start to resemble their parents? I had some pictures yesterday… You know, every now and then, it’s been about three years… My old pictures they’re using at Amazing Facts I realized I don’t even look like that anymore. Got glasses and gray hair now. They said, “You need new pictures.” So I went to the photographer and he took several pictures. And he said, “You look like your father.” I didn’t know whether to take that as a compliment or an insult. But, I looked at the picture and I thought, “Oh man. He’s right.” You resemble your father. And not everybody is a child of God. The Bible says, “Behold what manner of love the Father’s bestowed on us that we should be called the sons of God.” Who are the sons of God? The ones who are adopted because of the ministry of reconciliation. You and I are involved as an adoption agency in helping people be adopted into the family of God by reconciling them and being peacemakers. Isn’t that good news? 2 Corinthians 5:18. Oh, I’ve read that one to you already, sorry.

Now, you know something else about the peacemakers? What’s the next beatitude? Peas and parsnips, persecution. If you are a peacemaker, you will be persecuted. Is that right? Does that still happen in the world today? You know, in some wars the enemy deliberately shot the medics. Because the ones that were trying to patch up the wounded, if they shot the medics it would demoralize the rest of the soldiers if they didn’t think they were going to get any help. And the devil wants to shoot the peacekeepers. And even the UN peace envoys have been attacked before. They were attacked in Bosnia. They’ve been attacked in Israel. Because they want to get rid of them. They don’t want peace. Some people want the terrorism and the war. That’s how the devil is. If you’re a peacekeeper, the devils’ not going to like that. And what comes after blessed are those who are the peacemakers? Persecution. Now the persecution was so revolutionary, that when Jesus said it He had to say it twice. Because many of them choked on that. Blessed are those who are persecuted. What? Persecuted? Blessed? They had a hard time with that. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.

Now there are people out there that think that there’s some virtue in being obnoxious. And they go around and try to irritate everybody so that they can feel like they’ve been persecuted and say, “I’m persecuted. It means that I’m blessed.” No, they’re not being persecuted for righteousness sake, they’re being persecuted because they’re obnoxious. They’re being persecuted because they’re bad. They’re mean. They’re crude. They’re rude. There’s no virtue in that. Notice what Jesus says where the blessing is, “If you suffer for doing right.” Now Peter says if you suffer for doing wrong you ought to be ashamed. But if you suffer for doing right, then rejoice. And He elaborates on that. “Blessed on those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

It’s so shocking he repeats it. “Blessed are you,” He clarifies it, He expands it, “Blessed are you when you are reviled and persecuted, and they say all kinds of evil against you falsely.” If people are saying bad things about you and they’re right, don’t rejoice. If they’re accurate, don’t rejoice. But if they’re falsely accusing you. Did they falsely accuse Jesus? That’s cause for rejoicing. He says, “Rejoice…” Now this is where it really gets out of hand. The Lord gets carried away. He says, “Not only do I say you are blessed if you’re persecuted for righteousness, I’m telling you to rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” It’s like rejoice and jump up and down. “For great is your reward in Heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.”

You remember when Paul and Silas were imprisoned. They’d been preaching the Gospel. They delivered a girl from being possessed by demons in Philippi. They’re falsely accused, they’re thrown in jail, only after they’re whipped and beaten. They’re put in the stocks. And so what do they do? They rejoice. They are persecuted for righteousness sake. They said, “We know what to do in a time like this.” They praised God that they are worthy to share in Christ’s sufferings. They rejoiced. Did God bless them? They rejoiced in their persecution, God caused an earthquake, and He lifted them up. Isn’t that what happens? Isn’t that what it promised? You humble yourself, He lifts you up. They rejoiced in their persecution, He lifted them up.

Now, did they feel like rejoicing you think, when they had the flied crawling in their wounds and they were in this stinking prison? Or did they do it whether they felt like it or not? They said, “Jesus has commanded us to rejoice and be exceedingly glad if we’re persecuted for righteousness sake.” They started to do it and God blessed them. The blessing came after they chose to rejoice. That’s the way it is with all the beatitudes. He’s asking us to believe these things, and then it becomes real. To act on these things, and then it becomes real. When they revile you and persecute you, and it may not be beating, and say all kinds of things about you falsely… Anyone here ever had people falsely accuse you, or say nasty things, or unkind or untrue things? Nobody, huh? Don’t want to admit it? Come on, everybody, you’ve all, we’ve all had that. And if you don’t know, they’re doing it even if you don’t know it. I don’t want to know what people are saying about me, one way or the other. Blessed are you. Acts 5:41. The disciples were persecuted for preaching about Jesus. They departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin council and they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

You know, many of the old reform churches in Europe, back in the days when they were pure, their Scripture motto was Exodus 3:2. Anyone know what that says? Exodus 3:2? “Nevertheless, it was not consumed. Nevertheless, it was not consumed. The burning bush burned, but it was not consumed.” You might be persecuted, but it was not consumed. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego went through a fiery furnace, but they were not consumed. And so, keep in mind that persecution does not consume the church. Who was it that said, I think it was maybe the Amish that said, “Prosperity has often been fatal to Christianity, but never persecution.” Prosperity could kill us, but not persecution. We might even need to pray for persecution. Amen?

Now, I want you to notice there’s a sequence in the beatitudes now that we’ve gone through them. This sequence identifies the sequence of salvation. First you repent. There’s a meekness there. And I want to get out here and bring out this final point here. Repentance is being poor in spirit. You mourn your condition. You humble yourself before God. You hunger and thirst after His Word. When you get His Word and the living water of Jesus, you then demonstrate it by being merciful to others. Pure in your life. You then work for the Lord in bringing others to Him, which no doubt brings around persecution. All that live Godly will suffer persecution. So if you’re living pure, if you’re humbling yourself, and you’re doing God’s will, and you’re feeding on His Word, you’re going to be persecuted. If we’re not being persecuted, and if all that live Godly suffer persecution, what does that mean? It means that maybe we’re not living Godly.

Final thought. I already told you that, didn’t I. I repent. But this is really it. Maybe. These beatitudes are the picture of Christ’s life and ministry. It’s an outline of Jesus. Follow me.

Blessed are the poor. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For your sakes He became poor.”

Blessed are those who mourn. Isaiah 53 said the Messiah was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He mourned sin so intently that He was sweating blood.

Blessed are the meek. The Bible tells us, Jesus said, “I am meek and lowly.” But Isaiah 53, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth. He’s led as a lamb to the slaughter. As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, He opens not His mouth.” He was meek.

Did Jesus hunger and thirst? Was He in the wilderness hungry? And He said, “Man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” He hungered for something more. And even hanging on the cross, he said, “I thirst.” But it was for more than just for water. He was thirsting after God because He’d been separated from His Father.

Merciful. Was Jesus merciful? Is He merciful? James 5:11, “The Lord is compassionate and merciful.” John 8:11, He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more,” though she was guilty.

Pure. Is Jesus pure? The Bible says, “Your Word is very pure,” Psalm 119:140. Is Jesus the Word of God? Is He pure? John 18:38, Pilate said, “I find no fault in Him.” The thief on the cross said, “This Man has done nothing wrong.” Jesus was pure.

Peacemaker. Was He a peacemaker? He’s the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6. Colossians 1:20, “And by Him He reconciles all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Jesus’ blood was what sealed the covenant of peace with us. He came as a peacemaker.

How far do I need to go in explaining the last one? Was He persecuted? His whole life they dogged Him, they said all manner of evil against Him falsely, they accused Him of being a drunkard and a wine bibber. They accused Him of being a Samaritan and demon possessed. Terrible scandalous things were said about Christ. Talked about His being illegitimate. And they physically persecuted Him.

You notice how the beatitudes end that persecution part? It starts with “Pour in spirit,” it ends with, “Great is your reward in Heaven.” Did you get that? It starts with repentance. It ends with… It starts with blessing, “Blessed.” And it ends with, “Great is your reward in Heaven.” But the first beatitude is repentance. And it ends with, “Great is your reward.” “Your eyes have not seen, your ears have not heard, your mind cannot even wrap around the things that God has prepared for those that love Him.” This is a wonderful study, isn’t it?

The beatitudes are the character of Jesus. When you read through the beatitudes, He was really saying in His introductory remarks, “This is who I am.” Then He lived it out in front of them. He demonstrated it with His life. When you read through the beatitudes, if you have any questions about how to define them look at Jesus. And as you look at Jesus, it will become real to your soul.

John is going to conclude for us with a message in this theme.

[Singing]

Thank you, John. In our message today, we were given a picture of Jesus. It’s outlined in the blessings. Blessed, blessed, blessed. The Lord wants to bless your heart. It doesn’t always come wrapped the way we expect it. But if we accept these gifts, if we follow these steps, we may begin poor in spirit, but ultimately, great is our reward in Heaven. Would you like that reward friends? Let’s bow our heads and pray.

Father in Heaven, thank you so much for these simple teachings that help us to understand not only the sequence of salvation, but the very character of Jesus. The greatest blessing of all came wrapped in the form of Christ. God so loved the world He gave His Son. Lord, I pray that we will embrace that truth, embracing the Lord, and live out these principles in our lives. Be with us as we go from this place. We ask in Christ’s name. Amen.

I’d like to invite those who were baptized, and their family, to come to the back door and we can welcome them in. Thank you.

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The Great Wedding Feast by Doug Batchelor

The Great Wedding Feast by Doug Batchelor
God's Promises




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