Beautiful Choices (Sermon 8)
Matthew 5:3-10 NLT
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. 6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. 7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. 9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. 10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
1. It’s been a great series. We’ll follow it up in late April with a series on The Fruit of the Spirit.
2. Today we look at the last Beatitude.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of heaven is theirs.”
3. Jesus says for doing what is right will result in persecution for some.
- In verse 11, He elaborates. Now this is the only Beatitude that He provides commentary for. He felt the need to explain.
- Maybe because He uses the Greek word “dioko” here for “persecution.”
- When we think of persecution, we generally think of a campaign to exterminate – to treat oppressively.
- And surely we are aware that God’s people throughout the world are facing persecution.
- Franklin Graham recently said, quoting a recent survey, that more than 7,100 believers were killed in 2016 for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. To quote him, “In many countries, Christians are systematically tortured and slaughtered by Islamic radicals hell-bent on eradicating any vestige of Christianity. Churches are burned, looted, and bulldozed. Pastors are frequently targeted and martyred.”
- In many other countries, Christians are oppressed by governments, denied jobs, and education.
- And now we see it intensifying in America. Many Christ-followers have been the target of a culture that has turned its back on the Lord. And this agenda of persecution is being driven especially by progressives, LGBT activists, and the anti-God forces of secularism.
- Make no mistake about it. Persecution happens, is happening, and shall continue to happen. Thus the timeless words of our Master: “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
4. So, maybe you haven’t been locked up or beaten because you believe in Jesus. Maybe, you like myself, aren’t really afraid of being dragged out of our homes or churches because we are following Jesus.
And that being so, we tend to think this Beatitude just might be for people of a different time and a different place.
And that attitude of ours just might be why Jesus elaborated on this Beatitude. He wants us to understand that persecution “dioko” goes further than being beaten up or killed. Listen to what He said in verse 11 (NLT):
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.”
- Jesus lumps being mocked or made fun of, being lied about or bad things said about you, and persecuted – driven away - all because, and simply because, you follow Jesus – all of that is included in His explanation.
- It is the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump, being made fun of because she read The Lord’s Prayer at an event in Florida in February. She was mocked because she read it, because of her accent, called a whore for doing so. What a sick world we live in.
5. I could go on and talk about persecution and cite examples of here and abroad, but let me deal with our response to what I think will be inevitable.
- When those around us make fun of us because of some of the stances we take, and laugh at us because of some of the choices we make or don’t make, because of our values we are guided by, and the Bible we so passionately believe in, how shall we respond?
1. Do we arm ourselves and fill our basements with ammo and water and beanie wienies?
Do we huddle together – circle our wagons and get ready to surrender?
2. No. Oh no! A thousand times no!
Jesus says, “When they come against you, I bless you.”
- “When they come for you, I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.”
- “When they make fun of you, they’re not denouncing you, they are denouncing Me in you.”
- “When you are put down and beat down and kept down, remember I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
3. How should we respond?
A. Be happy about it! Be very glad!
- Now that kind of sounds strange. Happy and glad someone is making fun of my faith or treating me badly because I love Jesus?
- Listen to me, Jesus is an expert with this. He had it all thrown at Him.
- Laughed at. Called the devil incarnate. Life threatened over and over again. Run out of town. Eventually lied on and murdered and martyred; He knows of which He speaks.
- And He says to you and me such things as:
- Matthew 5:38-48 (MSG)
“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. 43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. 48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
B. Be happy – count yourselves blessed every time someone puts you down or discredits you because of the Jesus in you.
- Here’s why. All this means is the truth is making them uncomfortable.
- Your life of poor in spirit, grieving over your sin, controlling your strength, showing mercy and forgiveness, having a heart for God and making peace happen – that’s the life everyone wants.
- That’s the life everyone desires.
- That’s the life God created us to have. And your light is expelling darkness, and your fulfillment and contentment in Jesus is the opposite of the life of sin.
- The KJV says, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.”
- Listen, we have no reason to live our lives grumbling and complaining.
- Compared to the rest of the world, even our worst days are far better than their every day.
- Jesus gave this Beatitude because He didn’t want His children running around poor-mouthing Him or His Kingdom.
- He never intended us to retreat and hide behind the steeples of our churches.
- He isn’t into cowardice and fickle faith.
- It is time the Church stands up! It is time we pull ourselves up by the boot straps and say, “Take your best shot, devil, but know this: when the scuffle is over, I’ll still be standing!”
- I hear the words of Jesus in perverted Ceasarea Phillipi: “Upon this Rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” He took this message right to the most perverted place in the world.
- God has a people. God has a people He is calling out of a broken world and in these last days, He is pouring out His spirit on them!
- I want to be one of those! I want you to be one of those! I want all of us to be one of those!
When persecution comes, be happy. And here’s why: “For a great reward awaits you in heaven.”
- Can you imagine? It isn’t enough that heaven is prepared for us and that there’s no sickness there. No pain there. No death or dying there. No evil or violence there. No abandonment and abuse there. No molestation or assault there. Our family and friends who followed Jesus there ahead of us waiting for us.
- And you’d think that would be enough – actually more than enough. Oh no! Jesus said, “And because you hung in there in the tough times, I’ve got a large – and I’ve got many – and I’ve got a great reward – I’ve got a big payback coming for you.”
Only King Forever
- Mack Brock, Chris Brown, Steven Furtick, and Wade Joye
Our God and firm foundation
Our Rock the only solid ground
The nations rise and fall
Kingdoms once strong now shaken
We trust forever in Your name
The name of Jesus
We trust in the name of Jesus
You are the only King forever
Almighty God we lift You higher
You are the only King forever
Forevermore You are victorious
Unmatched in all Your wisdom
In love and justice You will reign
And ev'ry knee will bow
We bring our expectations
Our hope is anchored in Your name
The name of Jesus
Oh we trust the name of Jesus
Misc 1 (Bridge)
We lift our banner high
We lift the name of Jesus
From age to age You reign
Your kingdom has no end
I Won't Go Back
- William McDowell
I've been changed
Healed free delivered
I've found joy peace grace and favor
Misc 1 (Pre-Chorus)
Right now is the moment
Today is the day
I've been changed
I've been changed
I have waited for this moment to come
And I won't let it pass me by
I won't go back
I can't go back to the way it used to be
Before Your presence came and changed me
All my shame guilt sins forgiven
No more chains fear (My) past is over
10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)
- Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman
Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name
The sun comes up it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
You're rich in love and You're slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
Misc 1 (Ending)
Worship Your holy name
Lord I'll worship Your holy name
Posted on Sun, March 26, 2017
by Derek Boyce