Sunday, October 20, 2019

Repentance A Time For Turning

Audio of the sermon delivered at Christ Church, Los Angeles, CA 10-20-1029, Repentance, A Time For Turning", the ninth sermon in the Doctrines of Our Faith series. No doctrine in the Bible is more important than the doctrine of repentance. Before people can be reconciled to God, justified, acquitted, through his Son, Jesus Christ, they must experience repentance. Acts 3:19 CEV So turn to God! Give up your sins, and you will be forgiven.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sermon On The Mount - Session 3 - Persecution And Influence

The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is conducting an exhaustive study of Jesus Sermon on the Mount, Matthew Chapters 5, 6, and 7.  These are the Leader's notes to the study.  The notes include the full text of the important scriptures of the study.  Join us here  and study along with us. The Sermon on the Mount is the Manifesto of the Kingdom of Heaven.   In Session 3 Jesus tells the multitude, and Christians that they will be persecuted because of their relationship with Him and their righteousness.  Those with a relationship with Christ have influence and because of it they must be like salt and light.

Persecution For Righteousness Sake

Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The Lord is upfront in telling us that we will suffer and that the world will not react in love and kindness towards us
Matthew 10:16-26 (NKJV)16  "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.17  But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.18  You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.19  But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;20  for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.21  Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.22  And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.23  When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.24  A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.25  It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!26  Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.
To be righteous is to be Christlike. We'll be blessed for being persecuted because we're righteous, not because we're fanatical or stupid
Luke 6:26 (NKJV)26  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets. 
2 Timothy 4:3-5 (NKJV) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
The doctrine stating that Christians only go through suffering and afflictions if they don't have enough faith is inconsistent with Scripture..
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV) And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The religious people were the ones who persecuted Jesus, because they were challenged by Him. Sometimes persecution comes from religious circles.
As Christians we should face persecution:
(1) by not retaliating against our persecutors
Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)44  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
Luke 23:34 (NKJV)34  Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots.
Acts 7:54-60 (NKJV)54  When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.55  But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,56  and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"57  Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;58  and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.59  And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."60  Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
(2) by not holding resentment against them;
(3) by rejoicing in the fact that this proves that we are God's children and have a great reward in heaven
Acts 5:40-41 (NKJV)40  And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.41  So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
Because we're His children, our position in His kingdom is secure. We need to remember that we're His ambassadors on earth, and we represent Christ. We need to remember where we're going
2 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV) Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
The prophets were persecuted
Acts 7:52 (NKJV)52  Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers,
All of the apostles were persecuted for Jesus' sake. They persecuted Jesus Christ. Persecution has strengthened the Church
Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV) And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Do we celebrate every situation as victor? When pressed with trials, do our thoughts and emotions honor Christ? Are we passionate enough about reconciling ourselves and others with God to joyfully pay the price?

How do we feel deep inside when hurt by those we have helped? Are we truly able to “let go and let God”? Can we rejoice and keep on rejoicing in every situation? If not that is a goal we can strive for.

Salt and Light

Christ asserts that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As salt we preserve and flavor a rotting and insipid world. As light we are to lift the brightness of Christ up with confidence and allow him to shine through us to reveal the darkness of our world. Jesus reveals to us that the ultimate purpose of our influence is to be distinct to the people around us so that they would encounter the love of Christ and give glory to God.

Now that we are what we are, we should be these things.
● Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. To do this Jesus the King must first be salt and light in our lives. How do you see Jesus preserving and flavoring your life? How do you see Jesus shining into your life exposing darkness and revealing sin, hurts and hang ups that prevent you from fully following Him?
● Read Matthew 5:13
Matthew 5:13 CEV You are the salt for everyone on earth. But if salt no longer tastes like salt, how can it make food salty? All it is good for is to be thrown out and walked on.
 Salt has several capacities.
(1) At the time of Christ, salt was used as a preservative to kill bacteria and retard spoilage. The Christian should have a preserving type of influence.
(2) Salt is used to add flavor. Christians are to add life and flavor to people's lives. We're to make every experience "taste" better because of our presence.
(3) Salt creates thirst. Christians should create a thirst within others to know Jesus Christ.
(4) Salt prevents infections from setting in. Christians are to have an antiseptic effect on the open sores of the world.
If we're not having a savory effect on this earth, we're good for nothing.
Salt that is cast on the ground destroys vegetation. Jesus here is giving the ultimatum. Be either a purifying influence or you'll find yourself under the weight of a fallen society
1 Timothy 4:16 CEV Be careful about the way you live and about what you teach. Keep on doing this, and you will save not only yourself, but the people who hear you.
We discussed two functions of salt in the ancient world. Salt was first a preservative intended to stop the decaying process and then as flavor agent further enhancing the good that is already present. Where do you see the need for preservation and flavoring in your families, neighborhoods, workplace, and community? How do you feel Jesus is calling you to engage and influence these areas for His glory?
● Read Matthew 5:14-15
Matthew 5:14-15 CEV You are the light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one lights a lamp and puts it under a clay pot. Instead, it is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house.
The "you" is emphatic in the Greek text, so that we might translate it "You, and you alone are the light of the world.".
"The light of Jesus Christ is to be reflected in our lives
John 8:12 CEV Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said, “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won't be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.”

  Light has several functions.
(1) Light dispels darkness. Our lives should have such an influence that wherever we are, we dispel darkness.
Matthew 4:12-16 CEV When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he went to Galilee. But instead of staying in Nazareth, Jesus moved to Capernaum. This town was beside Lake Galilee in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.  So God's promise came true, just as the prophet Isaiah had said,   “Listen, lands of Zebulun and Naphtali, lands along the road to the sea and across the Jordan. Listen Galilee, land of the Gentiles!  Although your people live in darkness, they will see a bright light. Although they live in the shadow of death, a light will shine on them.”

(2) Light reveals. The light of Jesus Christ reveals the darkness that is in others.
John 3:17-18 CEV God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! No one who has faith in God's Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn't have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God's only Son.

(3) Light shows the way out of darkness. We should be leading men out of darkness through that work of God's love and Spirit in our lives.
1 John 1:6-7 CEV If we say we share in life with God and keep on living in the dark, we are lying and are not living by the truth. But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away.

People are going to notice if we are children of God.
We should not try to hide our relationship with God.
Here we see our influence described as light. Light reveals and exposes darkness most effectively if it is elevated and put on display were people are able to see it. How do you elevate the light of Christ shining in and through you in your life? What are the things that might act as baskets that cover or obscure the light, inhibiting Jesus from shining through you?
● Read Matthew 5:16
Matthew 5:16 CEV Make your light shine, so others will see the good you do and will praise your Father in heaven.

These good works should draw attention to Christ.
Jesus teaches that the purpose of our influence is to expose others to the love of Jesus so that they would give glory to God. How do you see Jesus using you to show God to the people in your life? What areas of your life are distinct and different from the world around you? Where in your life is it challenging to be distinct and different?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Sermon On The Mount - Session 2 - The Beatitudes

The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is conducting an exhaustive study of Jesus Sermon on the Mount, Matthew Chapters 5, 6, and 7.  These are the Leader's notes to the study.  The notes include the full text of the important scriptures of the study.  Join us here  and study along with us. The Sermon on the Mount is the Manifesto of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Session 2 we discuss what is known as The Beatitudes, or supreme blessings for the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.  

The Beatitudes place the emphasis on what we are as opposed to what we do.
The Sermon on the Mount needs to be taken in context The first section contains the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:3-16 The Beatitudes place the emphasis on what we are as opposed to what we do.
Beatitude - supreme blessedness.
Blessedness should not be seen as a reward for religious accomplishments, but as an act of God's grace in believers' lives. Rather than congratulating them on spiritual or moral achievements, the beatitude underscores the fact that sinners stand within a forgiving relationship made possible by Christ's atonement.
The beatitudes are descriptive of all Christians and do not single out separate groups as distinct from each other. Thus the blessings are applicable to all. The "poor in spirit" are also "those who mourn" ( Matt 5:4 ) or "hunger and thirst for righteousness" ( 5:6 ). Each beatitude looks at the Christian life from a different perspective.
Matthew 5:3-12 CEV God blesses those people who depend only on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven!   God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort!   God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them!   God blesses those people who want to obey him more than to eat or drink. They will be given what they want!  God blesses those people who are merciful. They will be treated with mercy!   God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him!  God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children!   God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right. They belong to the kingdom of heaven.   God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. People did these same things to the prophets who lived long ago.

Matthew 5:3-12 NKJV “Blessed  are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 "Blessed" in the Greek means "Oh, how happy!" True happiness is a byproduct of a right relationship with God and cannot be discovered by direct pursuit.

According to Matthew, these beatitudes are nine in number and seven in character, for the last two, which concern persecution, do not relate to traits of character, but to certain beatitudes not recorded in Matthew. Most of the beatitudes are paradoxical, being the very reverse of the world's view, but Christians who have put them to the test have learned to realize their unquestionable truth.

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

Matthew 5:3 NKJV “Blessed  are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

One of the most misinterpreted terms in the bible is the term “poor”, or Ptōchos in Greek. This implies “the destitute”, “like beggar”, “dependent on a provider”. It does not imply material poverty or a poor-spirited attitude being willing to acknowledge needs and receive help. It Implies our realization of spiritual destitution without God and constant dependence on God in all walks of life.

The poor in spirit are those who feel a deep sense of spiritual destitution and comprehend their nothingness before God.

"Poor in spirit" indicates a willingness to surrender to the authority and control of God, so that He might govern our lives. We will not be making demands, because we're unworthy and undeserving
Genesis 32:10 (BBE)10  I am less than nothing in comparison with all your mercies and your faith to me your servant; for with only my stick in my hand I went across Jordan, and now I have become two armies.
Poverty of spirit is a consciousness of our own sinfulness and spiritual poverty
Isaiah 6:5 (BBE)5  Then I said, The curse is on me, and my fate is destruction; for I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of armies.
Psalm 8:3-4 (BBE)3  When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have put in their places;4  What is man, that you keep him in mind? the son of man, that you take him into account?
The kingdom of heaven is theirs, because they seek it, and therefore find and abide in it.  

The “poor in spirit” are totally surrendered to God and have dedicated their lives (through profession or ministry) to the extension of His kingdom. They not only are respected citizens of the Kingdom of God but possess it. It is already theirs.

In the New Testament the "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven" are used interchangeably. The "kingdom of God" refers to God's sovereign rule over the whole universe. of which the "kingdom of heaven" is a part. There are two aspects to the kingdom of heaven.
(1) Present-The kingdom of heaven has come to those who have submitted themselves to Jesus to be governed by Him
(2) Future-The King will come to reign over the earth; the Kingdom of heaven will then be on earth
Matthew 6:10 (BBE)10  Let your kingdom come. Let your pleasure be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
Revelation 11:15 (BBE)15  And at the sounding of the seventh angel there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he will have rule for ever and ever.
Is our passion and pursuit after enriching God’s Kingdom? Can we truly empty ourselves, surrender in God’s hands our joys, desires, and invest into enjoying a life full of God’s presence and spirit? Do we enjoy deep soul happiness?

Blessed Are Those That Mourn

Matthew 5:4 NKJV Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

Sorrow and tears are everyone’s companion at some time or the other. The spiritual term for mourn,  Pantheō, meaning “to lament”, does not imply material loss, rejection or loss of a dear one. It implies lament over one’s own sinfulness. It is that “godly sorrow” which “produces repentance leading to salvation”

The blessing is not upon all that mourn but upon those who mourn in reference to sin.

II Corinthians 7:10 NKJV For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Comfort and strength in sorrow brings repentance to resist sin, and stand against sin. Salvation from the penalty of sin is a one time event, but we are constantly striving for salvation from the presence of sin.

They shall be comforted by the discovery of God's pardon. So in the sense of this beatitude  the blessing covers all those who understand and mourn the  effects and consequences of sin and seek the deliverance which is in Christ.  Joy springs from such sorrow so naturally that it is likened to harvest gathered from the seed.  But sorrows, even apart from a sense of sin, often prove blessings to us by drawing us near unto God.]

Psalms 126:6 NKJV He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with  him.

The benefits of “mourning” are many. The obvious one already stated is repentance and a sincere battle against repetition of grievous sins over which we mourn. The side benefits of that is that we view others more empathetically, judge less and love more. The personal benefit is that other sorrows do not grip us or devastate us but go into the back burner. As a result we do not get prone to depression or deep grief as the main point of grief, our own sin is not only dealt with but bathed in heavenly comfort.

Spiritual mourning, therefore actually alleviates earthly sorrows and ushers in God’s comfort. It strengthens a spirit of humility as we acknowledge our strong in capabilities and dependence on the Heavenly Father. It ensures a strong sense of empathy and identity with fellow humans as we partner with God to fulfil our mission, in spite of our weaknesses. Spiritual mourning, paves way for a joy that is higher and fuller and for a radiance that shines brighter. Dr. Henry Brandt has said “Other people don’t create your spirit, they only reveal it”. Nothing can touch our soul unless we allow it. It is divinely protected.

What disturbs us the most? Our temporary circumstances or the things that grieve God. Have we tasted the deep joy that results from “mourning”?

Blessed Are The Meek

Matthew 5:5 NKJV Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

Is meekness weakness? On the contrary it demonstrates supreme strength. The Greek word for meekness, Praeis, does not imply weakness, compromise, or even practiced self-control. It implies strength under control with higher objectives.

It is a quality that God highly values and that can only be acquired by one who has a strong relationship with Him.

The best example, obviously is “Christ Jesus, who being in the very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped” (Phil.2:5,6).

 He knew that the father had put all things under His power

Hebrews 2:8 NKJV You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that  is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.

Yet he washed His disciples’ feet and told them to do the same thing.

John 13:12-17 NKJV So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?  You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Moses, who wielded great power complemented it with such humility and was known as most humble in the world

Numbers 12:1-3 NKJV Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord  heard it.  (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)

When every iota of pride has been surrendered in God’s hands, and we humbly set out to accomplish what He has for us in an attitude of total surrender, that is meekness. It takes years of walking with God to achieve true meekness. It means acknowledging our weaknesses and replacing them with His strength.

The acid test of meekness is demonstrated under duress.  When they hurled their insults at Jesus, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.

I Peter 2:22-24 NKJV “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed.

A meek person has low ego and high trust and those who trust will be trusted in turn to “inherit the earth”

Psalms 37:9-11 NKJV For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord , They shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall  be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall  be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Do we know God deep enough to demonstrate meekness? Are we peaceful in every situation and humble amidst all people? Is our greatest strength radiating from Christ within and the faith that our souls are secured and always moving from strength to strength?

 [His hearers were full of hopes that, as Messiah, he would glut their martial spirit, and lead them to world-wide conquest. But the earth was not to be subjugated to him by force. Those who were meek and forbearing should receive what the arrogant and selfish grasp after and can not get. "Man the animal has hitherto possessed the globe. Man the struggle is going on. But in every cycle more and more does the world feel the superior authority of truth, purity, justice, kindness, love, and faith. They shall yet possess the earth" (Beecher). The meek shall inherit it in two ways: 1. They shall enjoy it more fully while in it. 2. They shall finally, as part of the triumphant church, possess and enjoy it. Doubtless there is also here a reference to complete possession to be fulfilled in the new earth-- Daniel 7:27 ; Revelation 3:21 ; 5:10 .]

To Hunger And Thirst After Righteousness

Matthew 5:6 NKJV Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

The first three Beatitudes were the emptying process. Now we come to seek for an answer to our helplessness. In the Greek this verse denotes one of desiring, not just a portion but all of the righteousness of God. Righteousness cannot be achieved in our own strength; it is a standing before God. God has imputed to us righteousness because we believe in Jesus Christ There are two types of righteousness
(1) Of the law, which at its best leads to self-righteousness which results in judging others.
(2) Righteousness given by God through believing in Jesus Christ This is the righteousness of Christ.
We cannot improve upon this righteousness, and it leads to gratefulness Righteousness is being right with God and our fellow man We're not to hunger and thirst after happiness, but after righteousness Blessed is the man, not who is righteous, but who hungers and thirsts after righteousness.  That person will be filled with the righteousness.

As hunger and thirst are the keenest of our appetites, this refer to "those whose deepest cravings are after spiritual blessings."

Just as physical craving is urgent, pressing and calls to be instantly gratified, there is a spiritual craving equally, if not more intense.

In ancient Judaism, righteousness meant “to acquit, vindicate, restore to a right relationship.” It does not refer to the external piety as Jews demonstrated but the sanctifying righteousness that comes from Christ alone through faith.

Jesus here declares that those who feel a most intense desire for righteousness shall obtain it.

Romans 3:21-26 NKJV But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 8:3-4 NKJV For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

II Corinthians 5:20-21 NKJV Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to  be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Blessed Are The Merciful

Matthew 5:7 NKJV Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

Meekness is rather a passive virtue, mercy is an active one.

This beatitude has primary reference to the forgiveness of offensives.

Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

The Greek Eleos and Hebrew Hesed translates the word simply as love. A love the is steadfast, that keeps a relationship alive forever, no matter what happens.

The English definition invariably refers to physical acts of kindness. For example, treating the poor and miserable with affection and generosity. But there is another dimension to mercy which is the essence of blessedness. That is mercy to the soul. It extends love and warmth to those deprived of a connection to God. It is sensitive to souls that are bleeding and dying and longs to bring the healing that Christ bought on the cross for them through His own blood and death. To souls that are weak and growing, it reaches out to strengthen and equip them through the word of God and prayer. It touches lives via counsel, reproof, prayer, forgiveness, comfort, etc. offering God’s mercy through Christ – free , sovereign, abundant and eternal. This mercy can only come from those lives in whom Christ lives and reigns, those hearts led by the Spirit. Only those who have soul vision that looks beyond the externals are capable of this mercy.

The second part of the statement “for they shall obtain mercy” is a solemn reminder that we are all in need of mercy from God; that we are merely transmitters of God’s mercy and not givers of mercy. The more we transmit, the more we receive.  Mercy is not something we can keep for ourselves it has to be shared and then we can “then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”. Heb 4:16.

Do we have the deep spiritual perception that can see souls in need? Are we prepared to go the extra mile to reach out and meet these needs? Are we faithful enough to persevere in the honorable role of being agents of mercy on behalf of Christ?

Blessed Are The Pure In Heart

Matthew 5:8 NKJV Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

The pure in heart are those who are free from evil desires and purposes.

Purity of heart or soul in Greek is Katharos, meaning, clean, blameless and unstained from guilt. We are declared pure, because of the work of JESUS to sanctify us through His blood, when we give our hearts to Jesus. We remain pure, subsequently, by an ongoing commitment and lifestyle.

The minute we “accept Christ”, we acknowledge our hopelessly sinful nature and surrender to His cleansing action.

The cleansing is possible by His blood which makes us spotless, with a clean sheet to start with.

I John 1:5-7 NKJV This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

The tough part is to put forward all efforts to keep this sheet clean.

We see God by faith now

Ephesians 1:15-21 NKJV Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,  far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

We get a sneak peak into a new and wonderful world led by our Saviour, beyond our wildest imagination.

Colossians 1:15-18 NKJV He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

That world is here today and growing into a full fledged Kingdom of God of the future when we can see God face to face.  And eventually face to fac

I John 3:1-3 NKJV Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Do we dare choose purity? Are we beginning to see God?

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

Matthew 5:9 NKJV Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

The term includes all who make peace between men, whether as individuals or as communities. It includes even those who worthily endeavor to make peace, though they fail of success. They shall be called God's children, because he is the God of peace.

Isaiah 9:6 NKJV For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Here again Jesus varies from human ideas. In worldly kingdoms the makers of war stand highest, but in his kingdom peacemakers outrank them, for the King himself is a great Peacemaker

Colossians 1:19-20 NKJV For it pleased the  Father  that  in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

Ephesians 2:14-18 NKJV For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that  is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Peace is NOT absence of emotional or physical turmoil. First it's a harmonious and loving relations between us and God. The deepest secret of Christ’s peace was His unbroken communion with the Father, in which His will was completely surrendered and his whole being hung in total dependence upon God. He shared His secret with the disciples encouraging them not to fear those who kill the body but those who kill the soul. Peace in distress comes with knowing our soul is strengthened through our physical, mental and emotional troubles. It comes with “soul vision”- seeing situations through the lens of the soul.
Next week we will finish The Beatitudes with Persecution For Righteousness Sake and then we will  be looking at Jesus’ teaching on what having true influence as a follower of the King looks like. Christ asserts that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As salt we preserve and flavor a rotting and insipid world. As light we are to lift the brightness of Christ up with confidence and allow him to shine through us to reveal the darkness of our world. Jesus reveals to us that the ultimate purpose of our influence is to be distinct to the people around us so that they would encounter the love of Christ and give glory to God.   We’ll talk about the relationship of Jesus to the Law
Matthew 5:13-48