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Sermon 7
Matthew 5:1-12

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Sermon 7: Matthew 5:1-12
The Sermon on the Mount: Jesus Delivers the Beatitudes
December 10, 2023


Hi, my name is Philip, a servant of God from Beggars Breaking Bread, and I will be reading, teaching and preaching from Matthew 5:1-12.


Scripture (Matthew 5:1-12, CSB)
When he saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to teach them, saying:


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 
Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.


You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me.
 

Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


This is the word of the Lord.

Can I ask you a question?


When you were growing up, what was your all-time favorite place to go after school?


If I were to poll the audience, I believe that some people would say they loved going to the ice cream shop. Some would say they loved going to the arcade to play video games. Some would say they loved going to the mall, which was known back when I was growing up, as the focal point of the community, especially on the weekends.


As for me…my favorite place was…the bookstore.
 

Now, for those listeners who ask what is a bookstore, especially if you were born after the year 2000…a bookstore is a place where you would go inside an actual building in-person to buy books. This was before Amazon.com started its quest for global e-commerce domination, at the expense of smaller, more quaint, community-oriented bookstores as well as your bookstore chains across the nation at the time.
 

In Memphis, you could find me in bookstores like Bookstar, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Davis-Kidd Booksellers.
 

Within the bookstore, my favorite section was not the comics, not the magazine rack, not the sports biographies.
 

Oddly enough, it was the Self-Help section.
 

My mother could leave me in the bookstore for hours, and I would enjoy sitting on the floor leaning up against the wall looking through a number of self-help books. This was before I really dug deep into the Bible, which would become my ultimate source of help and guidance.
 

But why the self-help section at the time?
 

The Self-Help section was a place where I felt like I could receive guidance from others on how to live my best life. To learn from others more experienced, much older (and wiser), who can impart their sage advice to a thirteen-year-old on how to be successful beyond just finances and a fulfilling career.
 

Oddly enough, there are many people – both young and old – who commonly still frequent the Self-Help sections, either in the remaining bookstores in-person or online on Amazon, who are seeking direction and guidance on how to best live their lives. There are, in fact, millions of people at least worldwide hungry for answers to life’s biggest questions and often come to this section, searching for the way to success, fulfillment, and happiness.
 

This is similar to the crowds of people that gathered around Jesus when He delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Along with His disciples, the people were curious on what a young, thirty-something-year-old man named Jesus from Nazareth would have to say as He started His public ministry.


When He opened his mouth, He shared not the advice of a self-help author who is only human. No, Jesus shared how to live a life faithful to God as the Son of God in what we would call the Beatitudes. Eight verses that share how one can be blessed by God.

As opposed to learning the eight ways to live your best life, Jesus shared with the people back then, and also for us now, how to live your BLESSED life according to the God that created us and loved us first.
 

The main takeaway from today’s sermon is pretty straightforward: if you truly want to be #blessed, you have to live your life God’s way.
 

If you truly want to be #blessed, you have to live your life God’s way.
 

How can we live our life God’s way, according to Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount?
 

Jesus shares the roadmap to us living a blessed life by God’s standards by sharing:
1.    The Blessing of Humility (Matthew 5:3-5)
2.    The Blessing of Righteousness, Mercy, Purity and Peacemaking (Matthew 5:6-9)
3.    The Blessing of Perseverance (Matthew 5:10-12) 

Let us start by digging deeper into the Blessing of Humility with verses 3-5: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth.

 

Now, upon first impression, these verses don’t sound “happy” as many associate with the word “blessed”. In actuality, when we look at the Greek, which was the original language that the New Testament (Gospel of Matthew included) was written in back then, we get the word “blessed” from the Greek word makarios


And what does makarios mean?
 

Not happy.


It actually speaks of something being made “lengthy” or “large”.
 

As Jesus shares the numerous traits of people who have makarios in their lives, we can look at the word in its original intent to share how exuding these traits “lengthens” the fellowship, connection, closeness, and relationship with God.

 

And by “lengthening” such a connection with God, by making such a connection both large, enduring, and significant, at a time where the Jewish people were living apart from God due to their sinful rebellion throughout the Old Testament, this was truly Good News that consequently made them “happy”.


So, back to what I was saying before, when we hear “poor in spirit”, “those who mourn”, and “the humble”, upon first impression, we might not associate this with someone being happy or #blessed.
 

However, Jesus revolves these three verses around the value of humility. By being poor in spirit does not mean poor financially. But it means that you are conscious of your continual dependence on God.

 

You are not rich in spirit, looking only to yourself for salvation and as the hero of your life; hence the irony of “self-help” when compared to what Jesus is teaching us here. We are blessed when we recognize that we are inadequate and insufficient without God in our lives.
 

Which sounds like the exact opposite of what our worldly culture preaches to us each day.
 

To those who mourn is not only referring to mourning in sadness maybe due to the loss of a loved one, but more so, mourning in response to those things that make God mourn. To be sad from things that make God sad. To be angry with what makes God angry.

 

We are identifying closely to our Father, the one and true Holy God, in opposition to what He cannot be in the same room with: sin.
 

Jesus, as the Son of God, one of the three persons of the one true God, wants us to share in what makes God happy as well as disdain what offends God and makes Him sad. It is that connection to our father that lengthens our relationship with Him now and into eternity.
 

For as we humble ourselves before Him, as His children, dependent on Him, our Heavenly Father will not only comfort us but He will share with us our inheritance and promise to live with Him in His holy presence on earth and in Heaven.
 

Such humility opens the door to the kingdom, acknowledging our spiritual poverty before God and positioning ourselves to receive the immeasurable wealth of His grace.
 

Picture, if you will, a mighty oak tree standing tall in a field. Admirable in its grandeur, this majestic oak began as a small acorn, buried in the soil. Likewise, the path to the kingdom begins with humility—the recognition that, on our own, we are but small acorns, in need of the life-giving soil of God's grace.
 

How can we be more humble in our lives?

 

Embracing humility calls us to confess our need for God's guidance, to seek His wisdom in prayer, and to walk in dependence on His strength. As we embrace this posture of humility, let us position ourselves to receive the fullness of God's kingdom, trusting that, in our weakness, His strength is made perfect.
 

Moving forward, we hear from Jesus the Blessing of Righteousness, Mercy, Purity and Peacemaking in verses 6-9: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
 

We live in a world today that obsesses over the concept of justice.
 

Social justice. Justice for those who have been afflicted or offended. If there is no justice, there will be no peace.
 

However, God does not rule on justice alone.

 

And at the same time, if we were dealt with real biblical justice according to God, none of us, due to our many sins against God, would be innocent and without severe punishment in the name of justice.
 

For God rules with justice AND righteousness, and as mentioned in verse 6, He longs to be with His people who hunger and thirst after righteousness, which is essentially longing to apply the right standard of God in their lives. To be holy like their holy God. To reflect God’s image, goodness and love in how we treat God and one another as God’s creation.
 

As children of God, we need to be hungry not for worldly riches, success, and celebrity fame, but to know and do what pleases God in every situation of our lives, for we will be filled by Him, in alignment with His heart, and satisfied with godliness and divine contentment.
 

Picture in your mind a traveler wandering through a scorching desert, parched and desperate for a sip of water. This vivid image illustrates the hunger and thirst for righteousness that Jesus desires in us. It's not a casual desire; it's a desperate, soul-deep craving, akin to the traveler's desperate need for water in the desert heat.
 

The Beatitudes teach us that our hunger and thirst for righteousness should mirror this desperate desire. In a world marred by sin and brokenness, we are called to be seekers of God's righteousness above all else. When we prioritize righteousness, we align our hearts with the very heartbeat of God.
 

When Jesus speaks that “blessed are the merciful”, He calls on us to be merciful and compassionate with others who may not deserve it, for there has, is, and will be days that we will ask for mercy ourselves from others we have wronged, as well as God Himself. 
 

In contrast to the world we live in that easily worships “cancel culture” that quickly finds any reason to disqualify, shun, embarrass or destroy anyone who has a different opinion, belief or worldview from the progressive – or as some would say “transgressive” – culture, imagine a world where mercy is extended freely, like a refreshing stream flowing through dry, dusty lands. 
 

When we extend mercy to others, we position ourselves to receive the abundant mercy of our Heavenly Father.  As we cultivate compassion and mercy, we reflect the very character of God. In doing so, we become vessels through which God's righteousness flows into a broken, sinful and dark world.
 

Next, Jesus shares that “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Where our culture calls us to be our real and authentic selves, God had already asked us to do so before and acknowledge the sin in our hearts. Only then can we ask God to create in us clean hearts and renew within us a steadfast spirit as in Psalm 51:10 and to purify us to be more like God. 
 

This purity isn't an external facade that others can see on the outside or cover up with Instagram filters or expensive makeup, but a condition of the heart.

 

Imagine a crystal-clear stream, untouched by pollution. A pure heart allows us to see God, to experience His presence in our lives. It is a heart free from the contaminants of sin and selfishness, a heart that reflects the very nature of God.


In the next verse, verse 9, Jesus calls us to be peacemakers, for then we will be called sons of God. To quote Dr. Tony Evans, “to be a peacemaker is to be a mediator and resolve conflicts between estranged parties. You make peace by identifying the truth, addressing the sin, and constructing a bridge between those who are at odds with one another.” 
 

Peace and sin cannot coexist together, just like holiness and sin cannot be in the same room.

 

Sin is the enemy of our peace and causes conflict between us and one another, as well as between us and God. 


In a world marred by discord and strife due to sin, being a peacemaker is not passive but a deliberate choice to pursue reconciliation and harmony. It is an active engagement with the brokenness around us, seeking to mend relationships and to promote peace within our communities. 
 

By becoming peacemakers, we align ourselves with the heart of God, who is the ultimate source of peace. In addition, we become like Jesus, the son of God, who ultimately served as the mediator between a holy God and His sinful people, reconciling them back together through repentance of sin and belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
 

Finally, Jesus shares through verses 10-12 the Blessing of Perseverance: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Jesus is honest with us: as believers, we will be persecuted for our belief in Jesus Christ as our Messiah, Lord and Savior. By pursuing His mission in pursuit of both righteousness and justice on Earth, we will encounter both earthly and spiritual opposition. 
 

However, Jesus is encouraging us to persevere when this occurs, for the prophets of the Old Testament endured persecution before Jesus came into the world. And if they persecuted Jesus Christ unto death on an old, rugged cross, what makes you think that we won’t also be persecuted by family members, our friends, our employers, our culture, or even our government. 
 

In spite of this, God wants us to rejoice and be glad in the midst of such persecution, for He promises a great reward in Heaven as we persevere.
 

Imagine a fragile flower, its delicate petals pushing through a crack in solid concrete. Against all odds, it persists, breaking through the hardness that seeks to suppress its beauty. In the same way, when we face persecution for the sake of righteousness, our perseverance testifies to the reality of God's kingdom.
 

How does our perseverance in the face of inevitable persecution reflect the reality of God's kingdom?

 

It shows the world that our faith is not built on shifting sands but on the solid rock of Christ. Our endurance becomes a testament to the hope that transcends the trials of this life. 
 

As we press on in faith, let us be like the resilient flower, breaking through the hard, unforgiving concrete of adversity, hostility, and oppression, declaring that our reward is ultimately not in this world but in the kingdom of heaven.
 

This is Good News my friend that Jesus preached to us here.

 

We should be happy to see our connection with Him “lengthened” as we pursue the Blessings of Humility, Righteousness, Mercy, Purity, Peacemaking, and Perseverance in our daily lives as we look up to Jesus Christ for our help, not in ourselves or in the Self-Help section of our local bookstore, TV shows or podcasts. 
 

In the midst of life's challenges, may we be like the humble acorn, surrendering to the soil of God's grace, growing into mighty oaks. May our hunger for righteousness be as desperate as a traveler's thirst in the desert, and may our perseverance in the face of persecution declare the reality of the kingdom of heaven.

 

As we do this faithfully, let the world witness the beauty of a life lived in accordance with the teachings of our Lord. By His way – not by our own way.

When we take a look at these Beatitudes, let’s take inventory of such Blessings and be honest with ourselves.

 

As I have seen often when I used to regularly read self-help books, the author would start the book with a self-diagnostic test to see where the reader measures up and to establish a baseline with where the reader is, before reading and engaging with the new material. He or she would ask questions to help the reader think through his or her responses.
 

Let’s do the same here.
 

The Blessing of Humility: Are you dependent on God to provide for you or are you relying only on yourself or in someone else, other than God?


The Blessing of Righteousness: Are you pursuing what is right by God’s standards to please Him or are you compromising your integrity by what the culture tells you is important, even if it is sinful and against God’s way?


The Blessing of Mercy: Are you regularly forgiving others who wrong you and treating them with compassion though they don’t deserve it, or are you quick to call them a name outside of their own name and unlovingly dismiss – or even cancel – them from any association with you or your community?


The Blessing of Purity: Are you daily asking God into your heart to clean up the sinful ways of your heart to make more pure like Jesus with a steadfast spirit or are you taking on a “do you / don’t judge me” mentality and take on the philosophy of doing what you think is wise in your own eyes, but not God’s?


The Blessing of Peacemaking: Are you seeking to bridge differences among people, especially among believers, to promote unity, harmony and reconciliation similar to what Jesus did for us in relationship to God, or are you keeping your distance from getting involved in other people’s business even though God has equipped you with the commandment to love one another as yourself, which includes healing the hurt and bringing people closer together than apart?


The Blessing of Perseverance: Do the people around you know that you are a follower of Jesus Christ by the words you speak and the actions you take, or do you hide yourself in a witness protection program disguised as an undercover Christian, in fear of what others would say about you and your faith, where people are even surprised that you know Jesus – let alone follow Him?


While I personally am at varying levels with each of these Blessings today as I continue to ask God to help me become more like Jesus Christ each day until I meet Him face-to-face, I want to highlight this last Blessing of Perseverance.
 

You may be like me.

 

I am a recovering people-pleaser.
 

I have been that way since the very beginning.
 

I don’t like or prefer to be the butt of anyone’s jokes. It doesn’t feel good to be excluded from others. And it definitely hurts to be slandered or lied about by others who are against you and what you stand for.
 

In any case, how I feel about what others may think or feel towards me as a Christian should not keep me quiet and hesitant to share the Good News with my neighbor with the mission to bring him or her closer to Jesus.
 

Jesus calls us not to be lukewarm about our faith.

 

Either we are with Him or against Him.
 

And if we are for Him, we must be for Him publicly – regardless of what opposition comes our way while doing so.
 

As Jesus says later in Matthew 10:32-33: Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.


Don’t be ashamed to be a Christian, despite the world becoming increasingly hostile not only to our Jewish brothers and sisters, of whom we share a common history and genealogy as Matthew points out in His Gospel through Jesus, but also the world is becoming increasingly hostile to us as Christians. 
 

Jesus warns us in Mark 8:38: If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.


I am unashamed to share the Good News with you and with others, because Jesus was unashamed to sacrifice His life for mine – and for you – by obediently dying on the cross via crucifixion for our many sins of the past, present, and future, so that we can be reconciled in relationship both with God, our Creator and Heavenly Father, but also with one another.
 

I am unapologetically a follower of Jesus Christ publicly because my children need to know, just like I did when I was their young age, that the worldly culture we live in is not the only way to live our lives, let alone it is not the right way compared to God’s way.
 

I share the Word of God publicly here to help my fellow brother out there who is juggling demanding work responsibilities, family obligations to provide for his wife and three kids, so that he can rely more on God’s Word rather than the words he listens to by fellow humans on scientific, self-help, and motivational podcasts.
 

I call on you publicly to follow Jesus and align with God for my fellow sister out there who is tempted to seek love and significance based on how other men look at her appearance, how she stacks up against her friends regarding her career or academic accomplishments, and whether or not she can be an independent woman, boss lady, and married mother of beautiful children by the age of 26. 
 

As you can see, we are serving a much greater mission than our own selfish desires or fears that may tempt us to keep Jesus to ourselves privately. We are called to live the blessed life by God’s standards and to share that with others who are searching for the truth but are living out a lie that the enemy planted in their minds through our culture.
 

No matter what happens to us, Jesus sees us, and God is with us (Romans 8:31).

Therefore, we can be strong and courageous about our public walk with Jesus, knowing that He is with us now and in eternity, as we help bring others back home to God.

What about you?

 

What are you feeling in your heart right now?
 

Have you been living your life by your own self-help or by the ways of the culture around you?
 

Is your heart open to living your life by God’s way through the Blessings of Humility, Righteousness, Mercy, Purity, Peacemaking and Perseverance?
 

God has a plan for your life, and He wants you to live not just your best life, but a truly blessed life, connected to Him.
 

How will you respond today?
 

Do you trust Jesus today to follow Him and His way of living?
 

Jesus loves you. 
 

If you’re not yet a believer, I believe that Jesus is calling you to Him right now. And He wants you to come as you are, flaws and all, and put your trust not in yourself but in Him. He will forgive all of your sins and help you live your life not by the ways of the world but by God’s holy and righteous way, reconciled to Him and blessed by Him now and in eternity.
 

Of all the things I have done in my life, following Him is the best decision I ever made. And I want you to make the best decision in your life too.
 

All we have to do is ask Jesus into our hearts and make Him the Lord and Savior of our lives.
 

If you’re ready to take that step, would you pray this prayer with me: Dear Jesus, I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe that you came from Heaven to Earth to live, die and rise again just for me, so that my sins may be forgiven. I trust you with my life. By faith, I make you my Lord and Savior. Thank you for your love and sacrifice. In Jesus name, Amen.
 

If you prayed that prayer, let me be the first to congratulate you on the best decision you could make in your life. Let me also welcome you to the family, as the angels in Heaven are rejoicing on you coming back home. I encourage you to find a local, Bible-based church to connect with and to join its community as you walk out the blessed life and Jesus’ ministry together with other believers.


If you already are a believer, and you want to do your part to help others live a truly blessed life for the expansion of the Kingdom of God until Christ returns, please share this message with someone who does not yet know Jesus. God has a great plan for you, and it involves bringing the spiritually lost back to God through Jesus Christ. 
 

Let us continue the good work ahead of us to globally spread the Good News about Jesus Christ and to welcome more into His family.

 

God bless you for watching, listening to or reading this sermon. Thank you and take care.

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