Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Guided by the Beatitudes‘
© June 22, 2014 by Steve Mickelson
Originally Published October 18, 2009
Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #664 (About Spiritual Gifts – 1 Corinthians 12); Prayer
Hymn #22: Hymn 204: There’s A Quiet Understanding; Choruses
Tithing & Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Today’s Scriptures: Exodus 20:1-17, Galatians 5:22-23,and Matthew 5:3-11
Exodus 20:1-17 (ESV) The Ten Commandments
20 And God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.[c]
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Matthew 5:1-11 (ESV) The Sermon on the Mount
5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
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[a] 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.
Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:9 Greek huioi; see Preface
Let us pray…
In spite of our sinful nature, that began in the Garden of Eden, the Bible records that God has faithfully provided mechanisms for guiding believers along the “Paths of Righteousness”.
Before the advent of Jesus, whose sacrifice on the cross, subsequent resurrection, and ascension allowed those who believe in him to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, God gave the People of Israel the Ten Commandments, which we find in Exodus 20:1-17. These laws gave a nation of former slaves’ rules to guide the people along God’s path.
Over time, the Commandments were been expanded into what is commonly called the Laws of Moses or Mosaic Laws, comprising three Codes. The first Code is composed of the 10 Commandments. The second Code consists of the Ordinances, a set of Spiritual specifications which include: description of the Tabernacle, Holy Days, acceptable offerings and activities or responsibilities of the priesthood. The third Code may described as a set of Social rules governing such things as diet, sanitation, quarantine, soil conservation, taxation, marriage, slavery, etc. Many consider these comprehensive Mosaic Laws as the foundation or template of our modern legal system.
While the first code was given by God to Moses by God, the second and third were a human attempts to expand or embellish the original ten by covering every possible facet of society. Most importantly, as the manmade Laws grow in number and complexity, in an attempt to address each new situation, there comes a tendency to forget the importance of the original 10 Commandments and Who authored them among the books of minor laws, rules and guidelines.
Jesus came to do away with the Laws of Moses, as we read in Mathew 5:17, Jesus said that not that he came to destroy the law, or the prophets: but he came to fulfill them, and by his death and resurrection bring the Holy Spirit to those who believe. All of humanity is guilty of breaking one law or another, which brings a judgment of death. Jesus came and took upon himself that judgment to all who believe in the Lord. The influence of Holy Spirit is the key to God’s plan for providing guidance to Christian believers to keep following along His path.
What is the Holy Spirit? Let us go to wikipedia.org for our Wiki bits answer.
What is the Holy Spirit?
Within mainstream Christianity the Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the Trinity. As such he is personal and also fully God, co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and God the Son. He is different from the Father and the Son in that he proceeds from the Father (or from the Father and the Son) as described in the Nicene Creed. His sacredness is reflected in the New Testament gospels (e.g., Mark 3:28-30, Matthew 12:30-32, and Luke 12:8-10), which proclaim blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as unforgivable.
The Holy Spirit is believed to perform specific divine functions in the life of the Christian or the church. These include:
- Conviction of sin. The Holy Spirit acts to convince the unredeemed person both of the sinfulness of their actions, and of their moral standing as sinners before God.
- Bringing to conversion. The action of the Holy Spirit is seen as an essential part of the bringing of the person to the Christian faith. The new believer is “born again of the Spirit”.
- Enabling the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is believed to dwell in the individual believers and enable them to live a righteous and faithful life. The word Paraclete is specifically applied to the Holy Spirit in this regard. A paraclete is one who intercedes on our behalf, a comforter or an advocate.
- Inspiration and interpretation of scripture. The Holy Spirit both inspires the writing of the scriptures and interprets them to the Christian and/or church.
The Holy Spirit is also believed to be active especially in the life of Jesus Christ, enabling him to fulfil his work on earth. Particular actions of the Holy Spirit include:
- Cause of his birth. According to the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, the “beginning of His incarnate existence”, was due to the Holy Spirit.
- Anointing him at his baptism.
- Empowerment of his ministry. The ministry of Jesus following his baptism (in which the Holy Spirit is described in the gospels as “descending on Him like a dove”) is conducted in the power and at the direction of the Holy Spirit.
And most importantly the Holy Spirit is God’s way of pouring his love into our hearts Romans 5:5(NIV): And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
As a Christian, I believe that the Holy Spirit enables direct communication with God giving discernment of God’s will. The Holy Spirit guides and empowers. But what can a believer do to draw closer to our Lord and to facilitate or augment the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our lives?
First, as believers, God, through the Holy Spirit makes available to us what is described as fruit of the Spirit. The fruit is described by the apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23:
“The fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
Evangelist Rick Warren believes that fruit of the Spirit becomes evident as a sign of Christian Maturity:
What causes relational conflict? Immaturity. It’s easy to measure financial and evangelical growth…but how do you measure spiritual growth?
Marriage counseling can be summed up in two words–GROW UP!
The proof in spiritual maturity is love! I Corinthians 13:11
Most churches are full of people who talk and relate to others in childish ways.
Maturity is relational–not intellectual. Jesus said love God and love others are the two MOST IMPORTANT commands.
A person can attend church all of their life and never mature…they are cranky, rude, irritable…how can some people attend all of their life and not love people?
The church should focus on two main aspects of meeting together–large group and small group.
Sometimes you have to kill something in order to start something new.
Rick said at one time his prayer was not, “Oh God, build a great church,” but, “Oh God, get me through Sunday!”
Discipleship is about turning the audience into an army!
“We practice church discipline in this church. we’ve disciplined people for not paying their bills. We’ve disciplined people for borrowing money from other church members and not paying them back!”
If maturity was perfection then none of us would be mature.
One day pastors will stand before God and be held accountable for their spiritual maturity! (DANG)
However, Fruit of the Spirit given through salvation, which the gift of the Holy Spirit is free, not of works, lest anyone should boast. To grow the fruit of the Spirit does require conscious effort on our part as believers. For any of you who have grown fruit in the garden, must realize that it takes time, you may not get fruit in the first season. You must plant, water, prune, fertilize, spray, and protect a tree. You must provide the right soil and climate to allow the fruit to grow and prosper. And you must be persistent and patient to see fruit grow and mature.
But you may ask what are some concrete examples or evidence of these spiritual fruit? Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount with eight statements known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11).
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the
Kingdom of heaven.
9. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
10. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Some Biblical scholars consider the 9th Beatitude as part of the 8th one. One is Ronald G. Falconberry, writing in Moral Ethics and the Beatitudes: Righteous Code of Conduct is Revealed in the Sermon on the Mount helps us understand the meaning of this scripture:
Each beatitude reveals a moral philosophy or code of ethics which God desires in everyone. Those who embrace those moral values will receive God’s blessings.
While the Law of Moses judged men by their actions without looking at their motives, the Beatitudes reveal that God looks at each person’s heart because whatever is in the heart is what leads one to actions:
Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount with eight statements known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10). Each beatitude reveals a moral philosophy or code of ethics which God desires in everyone. Those who embrace those moral values will receive God’s blessings.
While the Law of Moses judged men by their actions without looking at their motives, the Beatitudes reveal that God looks at each person’s heart because whatever is in the heart is what leads one to actions.
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit for Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
The “poor in spirit” in the first beatitude are those who are not self-centered. According to Proverbs, “The Lord detests all the proud of heart” (16:5) but God will bless those who acknowledge their need for God’s grace and humble themselves.
As James writes, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
Blessed are Those Who Mourn for They Will be Comforted
The second beatitude refers to a spiritual mourning. Those who recognize that they are lost in sin can, in their sorrow, accept the gift of salvation from God and be comforted to know they have the promise of eternal life in heaven.
As it is written in Revelation 7:17, “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.“
Blessed are The Meek for They Will Inherit the Earth
The word meek in the third beatitude does not refer to a weak or spineless person but to a strong person who submits to God’s control. Although Jesus was meek, he overturned tables in the temple and drove the money changers out on two separate occasions (John 2:2-25; Matthew 21:12-17) and publicly denounced the Jewish leaders’ corruption of the Law (Matthew 23).
The meek are those who submit to God’s will but are willing to stand up and confront evil and injustice. As Jesus stated in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Blessed are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
The fourth beatitude alludes to those who desire to live moral and virtuous lives. Those who accept Jesus as their savior and attempt to live Christ-centered lives will receive righteousness. Paul writes, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22).
Blessed are the Merciful for They will be Shown Mercy
In the fifth beatitude, the merciful are those who reach out to help those in need or forgive those who wrong them. God will remember their love as James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, “because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:13)
Blessed are the Pure in Heart for They will See God
The pure in heart work to keep themselves unpolluted by the spiritual filth of the world. The sixth beatitude promises that God will bless those who try to keep themselves morally clean. In Ezekiel 36:26, the prophet writes, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” and, as Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Blessed are the Peacemakers for They will be Called Sons of God
The seventh beatitude refers to those who love peace and work to prevent or resolve conflicts or disagreements. This does not mean simply appeasing people or watching quietly while contentious activities occur; instead, peacemakers attempt to establish a healthy relationship based on truth and righteousness.
Romans 14:19 says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
Blessed are Those Who are Persecuted Because of Righteousness for Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
Paul writes that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Even Jesus died for his righteousness; however, the eighth beatitude promises the ultimate blessing.
As Paul later wrote, “Now, there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)
Beatitudes Help Develop Quality of Character
People work their entire lives to accumulate or achieve wealth, fame and power, which bring material rewards. Christians believe, however, that those who live by the code of conduct outlined in the Beatitudes and pursue righteous lives, will develop the quality of character God wants his followers to have and will ultimately be blessed with an eternity in Heaven.
I was fortunate to attend a high school in Richmond Hill which had no bells between classes. If you were absent you wrote your own notes to sign yourself in or out. The expectation was if a student were given responsibility, he or she would grow and mature if the rules of conduct were minimized. The slogan of Langstaff Secondary was and is “Maturity through Responsibility”.“ As believers in Christ, God has removed the old rules or laws and provided, through the Holy Spirit, provided a beautiful and simple way for us to grow and mature, by accepting the responsibility of our spiritual maturity. He has given us his Beatitudes by which each of us may use to measure our spiritual growth on a personal level.
Through the gifts from God’s Holy Spirit, believers are expected to apply Spirit-given gifts in a manner described by the Lord’s Beatitudes in order to grow in the Spirit and bear fruit of the Spirit. And when we bear fruit of the Spirit, we draw closer to His presence with the help of the Holy Spirit. While each of us may have been given different gifts from the Spirit, we only are blessed by our gifts when we use those gifts in a manner, as for the common good described in the Lord’s Beatitudes, which the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (ESV)
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #451: I Have Decided To Follow Jesus
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.