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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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Blessedness Is a By-Product of Character (part 3)
Matthew 5:10-12
April 3, 2011

Intro
This is one of those beatitudes we hope never applies to us! When was the last time you said, “Lord, please send someone to persecute me? Or do we tell the Lord, “Please, raise up somebody at work or school who can torment me on account of my faith. I need for this to happen so that I can be a stronger Christian! Thank you, Jesus! Amen!!!”

I’m not praying that prayer - no one in their right mind prays like that! We want people to like us! We want people to be inspired by our faith, not turned off by our faith.

But Jesus is very realistic about what can happen to a righteous person in an unrighteous world. He’s saying that “if you live out the character qualities mentioned in the first seven beatitudes, you’re going to take some heat! You’re going to be rejected by people who are hostile toward God. If you mourn over the sin in the world and if you are a meek and merciful peacemaker in the eyes of God, you’re not going to fit in.  Jesus let’s us know what the consequences are:  
Matthew 5:10-12 (NIV)
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Across our country today and indeed around the world, there is a battle being waged by those who hate Christ and the truth contained in the Bible (Mat. 24:9).

 

Matthew 24:4-13 (NIV)
4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

One of the great saints of the faith was a man named Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna. He was dragged before the Roman authorities and given a choice – make a sacrifice to Caesar or be burned at the stake. The soldiers pleaded with him: Polycarp, be reasonable! Make the sacrifice. It’s no big deal.”

But Polycarp said, "For eighty six years I have served Christ, and He has done me no wrong. How can turn my back on Him now? How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?" They brought Polycarp to the stake and he prayed his last prayer; "Oh, Lord God Almighty, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of thee. . . I thank thee that thou hast graciously thought me worthy of this day and of this hour." And he died for his faith with a hymn of praise on his lips. The ones who experience persecution for the sake of the kingdom will receive a heavenly reward.

“God, give us the courage to stay faithful to You even when people try to get us to compromise. Give us the courage to be the best Christian we can be. We don’t want to fall away from You. We don’t want to be remembered in eternity as a spiritual wimp who caves in at the first sign of difficulty. We want to stand with the saints of God! We want the heavenly blessing of Jesus Christ to be on our lives.”

Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.