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Let Your Yes Be Yes

LET YOUR “YES” BE “YES” AND YOUR “NO” BE “NO”

Matthew 5: 33-37

A month or so ago in the news a senator from Chicago was facing corruption charges and he  spent the weekend huddling with his lawyers preparing for his grand jury testimony. As I saw that I thought it was a little odd. If your goal in going before the grand jury is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, why does it take hours and hours to prepare for that?

Now it would be foolish to think that lawyers and politicians are the only people who like to play games with the truth.

What about us? As God’s people do we have a problem just being honest?

Let’s look at this passage that was read because Jesus is going to deal with this very thing.

“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (most Americans…Lawyers and Politicians), you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. 

Well, Jesus gives us 7 examples to help us understand what we need to do to exceed the scribes and Pharisees in righteousness…

Now, we have already covered the first three examples or situations…

The Pharisees then would say, “We haven’t committed adultery…we have kept the letter of the law…but Jesus would say, “Keep the spirit of the law…Don’t even lust after a woman that way!”

And the Pharisees would say, “I gave my wife a certificate of divorce…we have kept the letter of the law….and Jesus says, “Stop making your marriage so cheap! Concentrate on making your marriages work instead of justifying reasons to dissolve them! Keep the spirit of the law.

Now we come to the 4th example…look again at verse 33:

“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’

Now, when you look at this it is not hard to see what the scribes and Pharisees were doing.

“You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.”

Here is another passage that shows you what they were doing. This is Matthew 23: 16-18. Jesus says:

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ 17 “You fools and blind men; which is more important, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18 “And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering upon it, he is obligated.’

 Now, go back to Matthew 5. Look at what Jesus says in vs. 34:  “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.

Here is what Jesus is saying to them?

Look again at Matthew 23:19: “You blind men, which is more important, the offering or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20 “Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 21 “And he who swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 22 “And he who swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

But Jesus goes farther than that. In fact, He is going to get to the literal “heart of the matter”. Look back in Matthew 5 at the beginning of verse 34, where Jesus says, “…make no oath at all.”

In fact, look at verse 37:

37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; and anything beyond these is of evil.

For example, let me show you some things we do to get out of keeping our promises:

“Anita, I am going to take you Houston as soon as school is out.”

Or I tell Anita that I am going to take her to Houston…but I have justification for not doing what I said I would because I have my fingers crossed.

And let me tell you another popular excuse that is used for not keeping our word today.

Jesus says, “Don’t play word games…don’t use technicalities to void or affirm your promises.

Let me mention one more…this is one I ran across just last week. I was talking with a funeral director and I asked him, “What do you do when people won’t pay? After all, you can’t repossess the casket?

Some of you have had this done to you…and it may be that some here this morning have done this to others.

Look at verse 37 again and notice specifically the last part of the verse. Jesus says, “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; and anything beyond these is of evil.

The reason He says this is because the need to swear by something…or to make an oath…comes from our untruthfulness…our dishonesty.

Jesus is saying here that we are to “Let our statement be “yes, yes” or “No, no”…and be so trustworthy that we don’t need to swear on anything.

A bunch of politicians were traveling down the road in an old bus…when they ran off the road and crashed into a tree. Well, an old farmer that was working in his field ran over to see what happened…and after he checked on the politicians he got his shovel and buried them. A few days later the sheriff came out and the farmer told him what had happened. The Sheriff asked him, “Did the coroner come out? Are you sure they were all dead?” The old farmer said, “Well, some of them said they were still alive but you know how them politicians lie!”

Sadly, some people have a reputation for not being honest…for not meaning what they say…but it must not be that way for us as a child of God because Jesus says, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes, and the Pharisees…you shall not enter the kingdom of God.

If you need to repent…you can’t change the past…but you can start today.

Some may have done this…not only do you need to repent….but you also need Christ because in Him and through Him you can be forgiven.

Certificate of Divorce

CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE

Matthew 5:31-32

The passage that was read is one of the most difficult and most controversial passages in all of scripture…and the subject matter elicits some extremely strong emotions in people because of the way that the have been affected by it.

Back in vs. 20 Jesus tells us that “unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisee, we will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

And because He wants us to go to heaven…to help us understand what it means for our righteousness to exceed the scribes and Pharisees…He gives us 7 examples of what the scribes and Pharisees were doing.

So Jesus begins in verse 21 and He says, “You have heard that he ancients were told, “You shall not commit murder…

 …but I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court.”

 Then Jesus meddles a little more…He gets a little more personal.

“You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery…”

 “…but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

 Do you see the pattern?

Do you see how the scribes and Pharisees played with the Law?

Jesus is saying, “I have a higher righteousness for you. I don’t even want you to think about it.”

Now, what do you think Jesus is going to mention next? He has just spoken of adultery…what almost always follows problems with adultery? Divorce!

And it was said, “Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce…”

 But now, look at the spirit of the Law: But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

 Let’s look at the passage in Deuteronomy 24 where this law or this command is stated:  “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, 2 and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.

But the scribes and Pharisees weren’t focusing in so much on the cause of the divorce…they were focusing more on her “not finding favor”…no being pleasing anymore and  just making sure they kept the letter of the law….”Give her a certificate of divorce.”

“Mr. Pharisee, I heard you divorced your wife?’

But Jesus calls us to a higher righteousness: Vs. 32  …but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

What Jesus is saying here is “Stop playing games with marriage!” “Stop making your marriage so cheap!”

This teaching is about protecting women from men who would cheapen them and their covenant, not only with their mate but with God…men who would toss their marriage aside in order to satisfy their selfish desires…and feel justified in doing so all because they obeyed the letter of the Law and gave her a certificate of divorce.

Look at what Jesus says again: …but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

I have about 7 or 8 books in my office that I have read on this…and it seems that everyone has their own idea about what Jesus is saying here…and those who wrote those books are more studied on this topic than I am…and if they can’t figure it out…it is for sure that I can’t either.

So, Jesus, can I murder? No.

Adultery

ADULTERY

Matthew 5:27-30

Look at verse 27 again.

Psychologist say that to be victimized by this sin is worse than losing your mate to death.

And for those who commit adultery…it causes unbelievable guilt…shame…and distrust.

Adultery is a horrible thing.

So look if you would at verse 27 again.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’;

 But look at what Jesus says in verse 28: …but…”but” says that something is wrong with their thinking!

Jesus says, “Everyone who LOOKS on a woman to LUST for her has already committed adultery.”

 This isn’t talking about simply looking…Jesus isn’t saying that we can’t look at a woman…if that is the case we would all have to wear blinders.

 This is what David did…look at this in 2 Samuel 11:2:  Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.

 Look at Genesis 39: 7;   And it came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”

“Looking with desire”…looking to lust is where adultery begins.

Well, how do you do that? Look at verses 29-30:

“And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 “And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.

Well, that is part of Jesus’ point!

Jesus is saying in terms that we might consider bazaar…don’t dilly dally around with this!

And why is Jesus so adamant about this? Look at the end of verse 29 and the end of verse 30.

You know, we often laugh and joke about hell…but as bad as plucking your eye out might be…as bad as cutting off your hand might be…as bad as being blind and crippled might be…as painful and miserable as this might be…hell is infinitely worse.

Look at verse 29 again. Jesus says: “And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you;

So Christ’s real emphasis is cutting off…removing anything that will cause your destruction.

If some of the literature, the books, the magazines that you are reading are part of the problem…cut them off!

In Eph. 4:27 the apostle Paul says, “Do not give the devil opportunity…”

That is what you must do to keep from committing adultery…we must be dead to it and all of its desires.

Adultery is such a horrible thing…it does so much harm…it ruins so many…it can cause those who commit it to be cast into hell.

It is the worst thing you can do.

Now, what if someone has committed adultery…is there any hope for them? Let me show you two passages:

John 8:3-11 And the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  8 And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And when they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst. 10 And straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”  11 And she said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more.”]

1 Cor 6:9-11  Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

Now, look at one more passage:

1 Cor 7:3-6  Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

And one last thing…and this doesn’t just apply to young people…middle aged and older adults get married…you be careful about who you marry!

Adultery, both physical and emotional are devastating…and the consequences on everyone involved are life long…perhaps even eternal.

Now, there is an adultery that is possibly more common than the one we have talked about this morning…and that is adultery against God.

Jesus On Anger

JESUS ON ANGER

Matthew 5:21-26

After spending 3 ½ hours enduring the long lines, surly clerks, and insane regulations at the Department of Motor Vehicles, a man stopped at a sporting goods store to pick up a gift for his son. The man decided on a baseball bat and he went up to the front to check out. The clerk asked him, “Cash or Charge?” Well, the man kind of snapped at the clerk, “Cash!” Then he realized how rude that was and so he apologized to the clerk and he explained, “I have just spent the whole afternoon at the Motor Vehicle Dept.” And the clerk responded, “Shall I gift wrap the bat…or are you going back there?”

Sometimes we do some pretty crazy things when we allow anger to control us.

Look at verse 20 here in chapter 5.  Jesus says that “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In vs. 21 Jesus refers to the 6th commandment that is found in Exodus 20:13 and He says, “You have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.”

Jesus says,  “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

Well, Jesus sets things straight…and He tells them that it is about what is in your heart… that if you harbor all these hard feelings toward a brother you are just as guilty before the court as you would be if you had murdered him.

Now, look at verse 22 again…there seems to be a progression of anger here. Jesus says, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother…

 But notice again what Jesus says, “…everyone who is angry with his brother.”

Now, look what Jesus says again, “…everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court…or subject to the judgment.”

Now, notice what seems to be the progression of anger here.

 …and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court;

Some scholars think that this word originated from the sound of a person who is clearing their throat…”Raaaacah!”….that is what I think of you.

So you start out with this silent anger…silent malice…and now it manifests itself in this contemptible and hateful speech…and Jesus says, “When you get to this point…you are guilty before the “supreme court.”

And now, look at the end of verse 22: …and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

 So, as you can see…anger is a dangerous thing.

Now, look at verses 23-26. Jesus gives us a practical application of the principles He has taught us.

Now, notice as we read this that the first illustration concerns a “brother” and the second concerns an “opponent or enemy.”

If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar (in the context of today we might say, “If  you are in church, in the middle of a service of worship”), and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar (Leave church immediately), and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

 Jesus’ instructions are to go and do all that is within your ability to be reconciled to your brother…you do all you can to erase the animosity…the hurt feelings…

Worship becomes a sham if we have behaved so poorly prior to our coming to worship that we have knowingly hurt someone.

Now, vs. 25-26: “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 “Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cent.

Jesus tells us that our righteousness is to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if we are going to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Let me close with two passages of scripture: 1 John 4:20-21

 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Heb 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exceeding the Pharisees

EXCEEDING THE PHARISEES

Matthew 5:17-20

When I read through the Bible any time I see a verse or a passage that speaks of entering into heaven…or not entering into heaven…that verse or passage really catches my eye because I want to go to heaven…the other option is worse than we can ever imagine…so I really pay attention to verses that speak of going to heaven.

“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Now, I am pretty confident that we don’t fully comprehend the impact that what Jesus says here had on the people that He was talking to.

But now, Jesus comes along and says, “If you want to enter the kingdom of heaven your righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees.”

What is Jesus talking about here when He says “your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees and scribes?” This is something I want to know!

In vs. 17 Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”

Jesus says, “I didn’t come to do away with any part of the Law or Prophets…instead He came to fulfill them.”

And look at verses 18-19…three things that Jesus says about God’s law: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. 19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

There are three things that Jesus says here about God’s law:

  1. He says that it is permanent; “I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.”
  2. He says it is unchangeable: Jesus says that not even the least stroke of a pen will be changed.
  3. And then He says that God’s rules are relevant: They should be kept and taught.

Each commandment, even the least, is a commandment from God Himself…and that makes it important.

And that is why Jesus says what He does in vs. 20. Look at it again: Jesus says, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees…

And to help us better understand…to help us learn Jesus gives us some examples of what the scribes and Pharisees were doing.

21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ (But now the contrast).  22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry (this is an unrighteous anger, it is hatred, malice, revenge) with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca (this was a very offensive term in their culture, it was apparently a very degrading term),’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool (empty headed, blockhead, stupid),’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

Look at verse 27. Jesus says,

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; (Now the contrast) 28 but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Look at verse 31. Jesus says, “And it was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; (Now comes the contrast)  32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

And look at verse 33. They knew about making vows or promises…and they knew that they were supposed to keep those promises…they knew it was wrong to lie….but they found a way around that…a way to justify their lying by making it all dependent on how you made the vow and what you sealed the promised by.

And then there is verse 38. These Pharisees and scribes would never pay back evil done to them with a greater evil…but they would be more than happy to find a way to exactly get even.

These Pharisees and scribes studied the law…and they knew what the law said…and they prided themselves in keeping the law…as far as the letter of the law…they went out to their way to obey it.

When it comes to the word of God…when it comes to the Law and the Prophets…we can’t change it to fit what we want…we can’t ignore parts of it…deny pieces of it…or choose what we like or don’t like and disregard the rest of it.

Never apologize for standing on the word of God.

Salt and Light

SALT AND LIGHT

Matthew 5:13-16

Most of you have probably seen this and know what this is….this is a 5 Hour Energy Drink.

I think at times we all feel the need to be energized…we get tired…a little run down…not very motivated…and we need something to “pick us up”…to get us going again…

Let’s look again at the passage that was read…but before we do let me remind you of the background once again.

Let me ask you this…as a congregation of God’s people what are we here for…what is our mission? Why do we exist?

And what about individually? As a disciple of Christ are you doing what your are supposed to be doing? Have you grown tired spiritually?

Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

You don’t have to read very far in commentaries or even on the internet to learn how important and vital salt was to these people.

For these people salt was currency…it was used to barter…it was used for wages.

Salt was used in all different kinds of ways.

Salt was vital for life…in fact in the desert about the longest you could go without salt was 30 days.

It was used spiritually in the temple…most of the sacrifices were sprinkled with salt.

It was used to seal a covenant between God and man…or between two men.

Salt was a part of every facet of these people’s lives and when Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth” is He saying, “You are the people I am entrusting to influence every part of the world…in daily life…in spiritual matters…in health…in nutrition…in everything that matters.”

You know, salt could be used to keep weeds from growing.

And if you look at this verse Jesus says, “I don’t want you to lose your saltiness.”

Jesus says, “I don’t want you to lose your saltiness because if you lose that you have lost your influence.”

In fact, look at this passage found in Luke 14: 34-35. Jesus says,

34 “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 “It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 

One of the applications of salt was that salt, especially for the Bedouin tribes that live in the Judean desert…there wasn’t any fire wood for fires or for cook stoves.

If we lose our power, we lose our influence, we lose our fire…if we become polluted and corrupted and diluted…then we are good for nothing but to be thrown out.

Look at what else He says about us in vs. 14:  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 “Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

There are several places in the scriptures where you see the word “tel” in front of a city or name.

Jesus says here, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

You see, that is what Jesus has called us to be…He has called you and He has called me, and He has called us to be the “salt of the earth”…a constant influence in the lives of others…

And Jesus says, “Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Jesus says here that “I am a light of the world”…as a Christian…as an example of the Christian faith…the world needs to see me…it needs to see my example…my influence.

Let me illustrate it this way: (Light on, others off…gives light to the whole house…slowly dim until out…whose light do you see now? See the flashlight.)

Now look at verse 16:  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

We all need energized both physically and spiritually.

Spiritually, God doesn’t want us to be full of sugar…He wants us to be salt…something people value…a good influence…a preservative…pure…something that keeps the bad stuff out…a representative of God…

 

Don’t Get Stuck in the Muck

DON’T GET STUCK IN THE MUCK

Matthew 5: 11-12

It is hard to believe but camp begins in less than 3 ½ months. The first session for the younger kids begins on June 9…I hope you will keep that in mind as you plan your summer.

In the passage that was read Jesus is going to talk to us about not getting “stuck in the muck.”

11 “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.

Jesus says, “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you.”

Look at the second: They will “persecute you.”

They will insult you and pursue you with the goal of making your life more painful.

Look at the third wrong: “…and they say all kinds of evil against you falsely.”

Now, how do you respond to these kinds of things?

One typical response is to get ANGRY.

Do you know what those who insulted you did?

Look at this verse: James 1:20 …for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 4:26-27   Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.

When Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad” one of the things that He is telling us is, “Don’t let them pull you into the muck!”

Well, maybe anger isn’t your thing. Maybe you are more of a “get even kind of person.”

When you do something like that in response to what they did to you what have you let them do?

Look at these verses: 1 Thessalonians 5:15   See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.

Ephesians 4:32   And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

So when we do what is right in the eyes of God and someone insults us, and persecutes us, and lies about us…the typical human response is to get ANGRY, TO GET EVEN, and then to GET SASSY!.

Look at these verses: Ephesians 4:29  Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.

 James 3:8-9   But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;

 What is Paul and James saying: “Don’t let their lies…their slander…their gossip…their insults…their persecution pull you down into the muck where they are.”

Now, back in Matthew look at what Jesus says again in vs. 12. He says: “Rejoice, and be glad,”

Look what He says: “For your reward in heaven is great.”

And it is not easy to swallow your anger…and it not easy to not be sassy…and it is not easy to not get even…

And then the second reason for avoiding getting down in the muck is “prophetic identity.” Look at the end of vs. 12:

12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

What reward do you think these prophets received from God?

Just like the prophets were persecuted for their faith in God…you will be too.

I think about Jesus and how He handled it when they badmouthed Him?

1 Peter 2:21-24

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;

We, as the body of Christ are called to a higher standard…a high place.

The Better Deal

THE BETTER DEAL

Matthew 5: 7-10

Recently Hillary Clinton resigned as the Secretary of State…and you may have seen that she is taking on a career that is more lucrative.

Now, I don’t know what Bill Clinton says when He speaks…I suspect what he says has a lot to do with politics, social conditions, foreign policy…and I may have it wrong but I would think that a $290,000 speech would be pretty powerful…pretty dynamic…and it would be a life changing experience!

But the truth is what Bill Clinton says or has said…will some day be forgotten…it will not endure.

Last week we looked at the first 4 beatitudes…this morning we are going to cover the next 4. Let me quickly give you the background:

The people were in need of a message of “Hope and Change”…some “good news”…and Jesus brought it.

And here in chapter 5 He begins with what we call “The Beatitudes.”

And now, we come to the 5th beatitude or vs. 7. Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

And that is something that these people needed…

And they could have it…if they themselves were merciful to others…

23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 “And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 “The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.’ 27 “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 “So his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 “He was unwilling however, but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. 33’Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?’ 34 “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” 

And it didn’t matter what hardships or disasters had befallen someone else…

Look at verse 8 and beatitude 6: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

The most popular interpretation is “pure in heart” refers to the inward purity…those whose hearts are morally clean.

Look at Psalms 24:3-4

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully.

 Psalms 51:10  Create in me a clean heart, O God,

There are several passages in the scriptures that indicate that to be “pure in heart” is talking about having an inward purity…a morality of the heart…and that is for sure part of what Jesus has in mind here.

However, in the context of the other beatitudes “pure in heart” seems to be speaking of sincerity…being authentic.

Psalms 24:3-5  Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?  4 He who has clean hands “and a pure heart,” Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

These people that Jesus is speaking too had seen those who looked so good on the outside…in fact, Jesus refers to them in Matthew 23 as “beautiful, whitewashed tombs.”

It is not the person who puts on a “good show”…it’s not the person who simply sounds religious…it’s not the person who wears all the crosses, or beads, or robes and collars…or who puts the religious stickers on the back window of their car.

Vs. 9 and beatitude 7: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Just recently I was visiting with a young man…and as I watched things he did…the things he said…his mannerisms…I thought to myself…”Wow, he is just like his dad…you can tell that he is Jerry’s son.”

Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers…”

Look what the apostle Paul says in Colossians 1:20: For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him…

Now vs.10  or Beatitude 8: “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

For those who are “persecuted for righteousness sake…for those who endure…theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Bill Clinton may get $290,000 dollars when he speaks…and he may give some insights on foreign policy, national politics, social issues, and the economy.

But Jesus gives you more than just some insights…He gives you hope…hope of receiving mercy; hope of seeing God; hope of being called sons of God; hope of obtaining the kingdom of heaven and all that comes with it.

 

Good News Beatitudes

GOOD NEWS BEATITUDES

Matthew 5:1-6

This past Tuesday night President Obama gave the State of the Union address and I haven’t seen the statistics but I suspect that millions of Americans watched it.

Through out history there have been some great speeches…great sermons…given by men…for us the “Gettysburg Address” is probably the most well known.

Now Jesus begins His sermon with what we call “The Beatitudes”…the term “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin word “Beatus” which means “happy, fortunate, or blissful”…a term assigned to this section of Jesus’ sermon because each statement begins with “Blessed.”

Let me give you the background to the giving of this sermon.

So Jesus is going all through Galilee teaching and proclaiming the “good news of the kingdom” and He was “healing every kind of disease and sickness.”

And the news about Him went out into all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. 25 And great multitudes followed Him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.

1And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying, 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Now if you will look at the end of each beatitude you will see the blessing!

That is something that these people would want…because as far as they were concerned those things were out of their reach!

So, how do you obtain it…what does it take for it become yours? What did it take for these poor, separated, outcasts to obtain it?

In the O.T. to be “poor” meant to be in literal, material need…to be poverty stricken.

For example: Psalms 34:6 This poor man cried and the LORD heard him,  And saved him out of all his troubles.

 Isaiah 41:17 “The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.

In Isaiah 57:15 the “poor” are described as people with a “contrite, penitent, repentant, and humble spirit.”

So, to be “poor in spirit” is to acknowledge your spiritual poverty…a spiritual bankruptcy before God.

Rock of Ages: 454

“Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to thee for dress; Helpless, look to thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.

These words express very well what it means to be “poor in spirit.”

What would be the opposite?

You see, when Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”…the individual that realizes that His salvation is totally dependent on God… to that person “the kingdom of heaven”; the “rule of God that brings salvation, and hope, and peace, and joy” is given.

Back up in chapter 4:23 it says that Jesus was “proclaiming the gospel…the good news.”

Look at the second beatitude; vs. 4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

So what does Jesus mean when He says, “Blessed are those who mourn?”

9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Those mourners, who grieve their own sinfulness, who are saddened by the sins of others…those who do not delight in sin at all…they will be comforted by the only comfort which can relieve their distress, namely the free forgiveness of God.

Now the third beatitude, vs. 5: “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Do you see the word “earth?” That is the Greek word “ge” (ghay) and that word can be translated “land”…and that meant something to these people.

Psalms 37:9  For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.

 Psalms 37:11 But the humble will inherit the land,

 Psalms 37:22 For those blessed by Him will inherit the land; But those cursed by Him will be cut off.

 Psalms 37:34 Wait for the LORD, and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

 Isaiah 57:13 But he who takes refuge in Me shall inherit the land, And shall possess My holy mountain.”

Isaiah 60:21 “Then all your people will be righteous; They will possess the land forever,”

The “gentle.”

Look now a the 4th beatitude, Matthew 4:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

When Jesus speaks of those who “hunger and thirst” He isn’t talking about those who are simply “hungry and thirsty.”

And as far as “righteousness” is concerned there are three aspects of “righteousness” found in the Bible…

This beatitude refutes the idea that you can crawl into a corner and hide.

Four beatitudes taught by Jesus…all were “good news” to those He was talking to: They could obtain the kingdom of heaven; they could find comfort for sin; they could obtain a “glorious inheritance”; and they could be “righteous” in the eyes of God.

But on the other hand: they could reject the kingdom of heaven; they could find no comfort when it came to their sin; they could be judgmental and mean spirited and be cut off from the land; and they could be “unrighteous” in the eyes of God.

 

 

 

 

He Brought Hope and Change

HE BROUGHT HOPE AND CHANGE

Matthew 4:12-25

About 5 years ago a young senator came on the scene and began his campaign to become president of the United States…and his message was “Hope and Change.”

A little over 2000 years ago Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah came on the scene and He didn’t just preach a message of “Hope and Change”…but He also brought “Hope and Change”…hope and change that was very much needed…and is still needed today.

We have read the passage but I want you to look once again at verses 12-16 because these verses give us some insight on the way things were when Jesus began His ministry.

In verse 12 He hears that John the Baptist has been taken into custody and really this is no surprise.

But there is something more about this verse…the fact that John had been taken into custody gives us in sight about the way things were at the time.

So when Jesus hears of John’s arrest He withdrew into Galilee probably to prevent a pre-mature incident as a result of His increasing popularity.

14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying,  15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles– 16 “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, And to those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death,  Upon them a light dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 

If these people wanted to get out of the “darkness”…if they wanted to get out of the “shadow of death”…it they wanted to get out from under the physical and spiritual oppression…if they wanted to the decadence and moral corruption…they were going to have to “Repent!”

If your society…if your culture…if your nation…if your home…if your own life is sitting in darkness…if you want change…if you want to get out of the shadow of death…it starts with the people…it starts with self…making the change.

And people often say, “It is too hard!”

Jesus’ message though was uncompromising…the need to change was a certainty…as painful as it is if you want to get out of the “shadow of death” you must change.

And to get His message of “Change and Hope” out…Jesus calls some men to help…vs. 18:

And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  20 And they immediately left the nets, and followed Him. 21 And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 And they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

And to show the people that He had the power to bring them out of darkness…and out of the shadow of death…look at what Jesus does starting in verse 23:

And Jesus was going about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel (good news) of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. 24 And the news about Him went out into all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. 25 And great multitudes followed Him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.

And now look at chapter 5:1-12. Speaking to the same crowds mentioned in the previous verses the passage says:

5:1 And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 And opening His mouth He 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, 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 men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

When Jesus came and began His ministry it was not a time of happiness.

And in that setting Jesus’ message was that blessings and happiness were not far from reach.

The message is no different today!