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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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Blessedness Is the By-Product of Character (part 1) 3/20/11
Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:1-12

Matthew 5:1-12 (NASB)
1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
2 He opened His mouth and began to teach 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 gentle / meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive 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 have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
12 "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Intro
“For God’s sake would you please behave?  I can’t take you _______any where! ” screamed the mother (I believe it was her mother) in Wal-Mart.  I cleaned up what she actually said.  I wondered how well she behaved in front of this child. 
How are we supposed to behave?   Where do we find a moral code to live by?  We certainly don’t have a moral code to go by.  What is right and what is wrong?  As a believer where do we find the moral and ethical compass so that we might live a holy life in an unholy world?  I trust in the Scriptures to provide me with the moral and ethical compass that I need to live in this world. 

  1. The Christian and Ethical Conduct – The Sermon on the Mount may be the best presentation ever on living a morally / ethical Christian life.  Gandhi often quoted Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount.  This sermon expresses moral, ethical and social principles that society needs to live by.  Jesus is speaking His own mind.   
  1. These principles are tremendously relevant to Christians – to the members of the family of God.  Here is the thing we need to hear loud and clear Jesus was addressing His disciples not the general populace.
  1. We think this applies to the whole world and we try to impose this on the whole world.   That would be great if the whole world would follow these principles but the first thing is that we Christians need to follow these principle. 
  2.  If we could get the Christians to act like Christians then we could impact the world.  But we got to first behave like Christ calls us to.

 

  1. “Addressing a national seminar of Southern Baptist leaders, George Gallup said, "We find there is very little difference in ethical behavior between churchgoers and those who are not active religiously...The levels of lying, cheating, and stealing are remarkable similar in both groups. He discovered and other researchers have discovered that so called Christians didn’t have a handle on basic biblical teaching:
    1. Only about half of Christians polled could identify the person who gave the Sermon on the Mount
    2. Fewer than 50 % could recall five of the Ten Commandments.
    3. Only two in ten said they would be willing to suffer for their faith.”
  1. If we would like to see a moral and behavioral change in America it has to begin with us.  We who call ourselves Christians need to adhere to the social, moral, and ethical standards that are set forth in the Sermon on the Mount. 
  1. God speaking to Israel told them that it was up to the faithful to turn their world around.  2 Chronicles 7:14 (NASB) … My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
  1. My people who are called by My name = Christians
  2. We are called to humble ourselves, pray and turn from our wicked/immoral ways.  The best way to turn from your wicked ways is to do the do’s and then you won’t have time to do the don’ts.  So let us find out what the Lord wants us to do.  It is clear what He wants from us in the Sermon on the Mount.
  1. The Beatitudes tell us that happiness is the by-product of our character.  For instance the first 3 beatitudes certainly are not what we teach our kids.  We want our kids to be tough and ready to take on the world.  “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 gentle or meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  The Beatitudes are a paradox to modern thinking. 
      1. The character Jesus is talking about is not what we espouse in this culture:
        1. Poor in spirit – we want it all

-     Mourning over sin – everybody does it why worry
-     Gentle/Meek – man up / woman up – be tough
 

  1. Let us take a closer look at the first 4 Beatitudes – which could be categorized as preparation to having a relationship with God.  The second 4 would deal with our relationship with others. 
  2. blessed are the poor in spirit not poor in the pocket book.  This refers to being poor in our spiritual lives. When we don’t have a relationship with God we are spiritually impoverished.  In other words without Christ we have spiritual bankruptcy.
  1. There is spiritual poverty because:
    1. There are folks who don’t want to have a relationship with God and don’t believe that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
    2. Others think that all the good they do makes them okay with God – but they are still spiritually poor
    3. And then there are those that think “I can do this on my own” and nothing can be farther than the truth. 
  1. Without Christ as Lord there is spiritual poverty.  What Jesus was saying is that we become blessed when realize that without Him we are in spiritual poverty. It is when we recognize that we are poor in spirit that we inherit the kingdom.
  1.  It is pride that hinders us from recognizing our spiritual poverty.  But when we realize and admit our spiritual poverty God can then turn over our inheritance and we receive our blessing of His kingdom

 

  1. Have you ever thought about your heavenly reward?  We are co-heirs with Christ – ponder that for a moment.  Nothing can beat that.
  1. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. This is not talking about someone who cries out or mourns from the loss of a loved one.  Jesus is referring here to someone that is broken-hearted because of the sin in their life. 
  2. Paul writes in Ephesians about staying out sinful behavior and then He writes that we are not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30).  The sin of having a broken relationship with God and sinful behaviors disturb the Lord – it brings Him to a point of grieving.  
  1. When we realize that it should bring us to mourning.  As a son I knew when I disappointed my parents.  As I matured that disappointment began to affect me.  I realized that the disappointment hurt them – do we realize how our sins hurt God?  We need to mourn and change the action.
  1. Blessed are the gentle or meek, for they shall inherit the earthSomeone that is gentle or meek are never weak. 
  2. The Greek word for "meek" means to be gentle; to be strong, very strong, yet be humble and tender. It is a man with all the emotions and ability to take and conquer, but he is able control himself in all ways. It is a state of being disciplined -- a man who is disciplined because he is God-controlled.  
  1. True meekness is a submissive and trusting attitude toward God. It is an attitude which considers all things that come your way as being for God's good purpose in your life. Meekness looks beyond circumstances, no matter how upsetting and hurtful, and humbly bows the knee to the Sovereign God.
  1. Jesus is the perfect picture of someone who was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4: 1) and lived a life of true meekness. He had all the power needed to prevent His arrest and crucifixion, yet He surrendered to God's will. (Matthew 26: 53 - 45) He fully understood the sovereignty of God and the results of the free will of man. Jesus said to Pilate, "You would have no authority over Me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." (John 19: 11) Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot would betray Him. God used it to accomplish His plan of redemption, and yet Judas was and will be fully accountable before God. (Acts 1: 15 -19)
  1. When I was little I had an accident where I got a mitten stuck in a wound on my hand.  The mitten was actually in the wound.  My mother tried to get the cloth out of the wound and she was making it worse as she dug at it.  My dad came home from work and gently but firmly took care of the problem.  His steady hand and quiet voice calmed me.  We need to have that steady, gentle, calming action as we turn our lives over to God.
  1. Matthew 5:6 (NASB) 6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.   I’m not sure we really understand hungering and thirsting.  For most of in here we have not really experience hunger or thirst.  We may have gone sometime without food or drink but not to the point of really being hungry or thirsty.  What I believe that Jesus meant was that we need to desire more than anything else God’s righteousness.   
  1. It is a craving – a longing for – a passion to be righteous.  It is the strong desire that grips our soul to do it the right way.
  1. After the Ash Wednesday service; I was talking with one of our youth (Ruby) who asked me to explain the word righteousness.  I said that righteousness is doing things in the right way in the sight of God. 
    1. Righteousness is always behaving according to a God’s moral code
    2. It is acting in an upright and moral / ethical way;
  1. Hungering and thirsting after righteousness simply means that we desire more than anything else to live like Christ.  If we desire that the Lord will fill us with the energy to live like Him.

Conclusion
Commentator William Barclay writes: “When a man leaves this world, be he righteous or unrighteous, he leaves something in the world. He may leave something that will grow and spread like a cancer or a poison, or he may leave something like the fragrance of perfume or a blossom of beauty that permeates the atmosphere with blessing.”  It is our choice what we leave in this world.

Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.