Preserve the Faith, Illuminate the Gospel and Be Blessed

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

 ‘Preserve the Faith, Illuminate the Gospel and Be Blessed’

© June 9, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin: June 9, 2013 

Let us pray…

Today’s lesson begins with the Scripture Matthew 5, verses 1 to 12 where we have Christ’s ‘Sermon on the Mount’  and Jesus shares a list of blessings commonly referred to as ‘The Beatitudes’.  And in Matthew 5, verses 13 to 16, Jesus uses ‘salt’ and ‘light’ as metaphors for the expectations of those who receive the Lord’s blessings.

Jesus' Sermon on the Mount

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

According to Jewish tradition, the Mount of Olives, also called Olivet, Mount Olivet, or Har HaZeitim, was prophesized as is to be the place where the Messiah will appear, to resurrect the dead, which is why it is the location of one of holiest cemeteries is found on the mount. Among the thousands buried on the mountain, we find the tombs of the Prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

The Triumphal Entry of Jesus, which we observe on Palm Sunday, took place over and down this mountain.  And the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of Olivet, was the place where Jesus prayed, wept and was later arrested. Scripture holds that on the mount Jesus charged his disciples with The Great Commission and then ascended into heaven.

Olivet, where Jesus gave his longest, and perhaps most profound teaching, is a plateau-like ridge some 3½ kilometers long and it rises upwards some 60 meters upwards, between Jerusalem to West and the Kindron Valley on the east. It a flattened ridge which acts as a natural amphitheater, making a good venue to minister to a large gathering of people.

Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount while still early in his ministry, not long after being baptized by the Spirit and just after he completed a ministry in and around Galilee. Word of Jesus’ miracles and teachings had spread and a large crowd had gathered on Olivet to hear him speak, Matthew 5:1-16 (ESV)  The Sermon on the Mount (see in the middle of today’s bulletin):

5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.                

                                             

    The Beatitudes                                                                                                                                                                                                           2 And he opened his mouth and taught 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 meek, for they shall inherit the earth.                                                                                       

       6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.    

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.     

  8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.    

  9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.       

  10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.         

  11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.                                                                      

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

Our English Standard translation defines the Greek Makarios as an adjective meaning ‘blessing’. Hence, we have Blessed are at the beginning of verses 3 through 11. An alternative translation for Makarios is ‘happy’. Using this substitution in verses 3 to 11, the translation reads as follows:

3 “Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.    

4 “Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.     

 5 “Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.       

 6 “Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.    

  7 “Happy are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  

  8 “Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.                                                                                                  

  9 “Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.         

 10 “Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  

 11 “Happy are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

With the substitution of Happy for Blessed, verse 12 seems to follow naturally when it states:

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

What concerned many of the Pharisees and scribes was not the compassion and love inherent in Jesus’ Beatitudes message, but that many of those beautified included the poor, the meek and the persecuted. A group normally shunned or avoided by the mainstream Jew, as their circumstance thought to be God’s punishment for a sin or transgression.

And such was the reaction, when Jesus spoke at the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth, Luke 4:14-20 (ESV), where Jesus Begins His Ministry  (also in the middle of today’s bulletin):

14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

  16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.

Jesus In The Temple

Jesus In The Temple

If you continue reading Luke 4, you will see that Jesus words were not warmly received. Instead Luke 4:28 indicates that those in the synagogue were angry at his words, Luke 4:28-30(ESV):

28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

In the temple at Nazareth and at Olivet, Jesus when he delivered sermon, he sought to teach Divine truth; not seeking to give his audience a warm and fuzzy feeling about their faith walk.

We see in the Beatitudes or blessings part of today’s Scriptures, the results of Christian love and compassion. But how does the Christian know whether what they are doing  is what God expects and done in a manner that is pleasing to the Spirit?

The answer comes from verses 13 to 16 of Matthew 5: ‘Salt and Light’

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. 

light_salt                                            

Using salt and light as metaphors for the characteristics of a blessed follower is quite interesting. One is a mineral, with physical characteristics, while light is a more ethereal or heavenly aspect of the believer.

Our words and actions act as a living testimony to our faith, but the light that is revealed by such actions is from the Spirit within each believer. What we do in the name of the Lord, acts like salt, it enhances and even preserves. Salt should not be wasted or applied casually.

In the same manner, the Lord has given us the gifts of the Holy Spirit; they are not intended to be hidden or wasted. Like light, our gifts of the Spirit have a purpose: to overcome darkness and to glorify God.

We can determine whether what we do is worthy of the Lord’s Blessing and is acceptable to Him, when we ask is whether or not what we do is wasteful and glorifies our Heavenly Father.

We have now discussed Jesus’ expectations of His disciples and how he was anointed was anointed by the Spirit to bring this Gospel or good news to the poor. And to tie the two together, you will find on the back of today’s bulletin,  Psalm 103 (ESV) , Bless the Lord, O My Soul, Of David:

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,                                                                                                            3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,                                                                                                        4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,                                                                                                                                 5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;                                                                                                                                                                                                                     12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,                                                                                                                                                     18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion.                                                                                                   Bless the Lord, O my soul!

be-salt-and-light

Like our Lord, we must show compassion and love both to others and to Him. Does this sound familiar? Remember the Royal Law we discussed a few Sundays ago? That is how we keep the flavour of our salt and project the light of Lord to others, to His glory so that we may be blessed, be happy in the Lord!

Let us pray…

Hymn #81: All Praise to Him Who Reigns Above

Benediction (Numbers 6:24-26): The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

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