Wow! I am super stoked about this new teaching series!! BE- the Kingdom Here and Now based on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and specifically what is called “the Beatitudes!” Jesus makes these incredible statements about being blessed. “Blessed are” and then he mentions the kind of people that are blessed. How many of you want to be blessed? Here’s an even more important question: How many of you want TO BE A BLESSING?
As a matter of fact, we have actually put together a website called blessinginit.org that shows you just how simple and practical it is to be blessed and to be a blessing, so check it out by clicking on the link above.
Let’s look at Matt. 5:1-12. This will be our foundational Scripture for this series.
One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them. 3 “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. 11 “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. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”
This passage is considered Jesus’ first and probably, most powerful sermon. It is so powerful and so important that it is the longest recorded sermon he spoke in the Bible.
And I want you to get this: No sermon ever delivered throughout the history of the world has so captured the attention and imagination of its audience. Not only did it powerfully affect the original audience in a great way, it continues to have, and should have, a very similar effect on those reading its message today.
In my opinion, it is a must read and re-read for the Church today so we can BE everything we’re supposed to BE when it comes to God’s kingdom and following Christ; specifically to BE A BLESSING in our world and communities!
It is a call to a Christian Counter-culture, describing the distinct life of those who are true kingdom of God people!
Think about it… The Lord’s Prayer, The Golden Rule, Being Salt and Light, Don’t Judge, Ask-Seek-Knock, and at the end of the sermon, The Wise and Foolish Builders are all included in Jesus’ teaching- some of the most powerful principles of the kingdom of God in one sermon!! So, yes, we need to give it the attention it deserves!
Because here is the real point that Jesus makes and wants us to take away from his sermon: THIS IS THE MORAL AND ETHICAL STANDARD BY WHICH CHRIST EXPECTS US ALL TO LIVE BY- AND HOW WE ARE BLESSED AND CAN BE A BLESSING!
I like to say that the Sermon on the Mount tells us how we can achieve the highest standard or what it is to represent the very best of humanity! It reveals what human life and human community can and should look like when we come under the gracious dominion of God!
And again, Jesus starts his teaching with the section we know as the Beatitudes, which are basically the characteristics he was looking for in his followers. In these first 12 verses he tells us how we should direct our lives and what the “reward” is for living that type of kingdom life. He then takes the remainder of the passage to illustrate how these beatitudes are applied in righteous living.
Jesus uses a unique phrase to describe each requirement or characteristic of the kingdom person. The word Beatitude comes from the Latin word Beatus and is translated blessed. Jesus states, “Blessed are” the people who embody each of these different elements and nine times he uses this phrase.
But sadly, in our culture, and even more so in the church, we seem to have lost the real meaning of the word blessed as used by Jesus in the Beatitudes. And it’s primarily why we don’t and others we encounter, don’t experience the Kingdom of God here and now. We don’t know how to BE… blessed, or to BE… a blessing!
Culturally and in the church we have mistakenly used the word to mean to bring pleasure or leisure. “We have a blessed life!” Or we use it as the word bless-ED in the sense of being honored in worship or to have attained some form or level of holiness or righteousness. Neither of these is inherently wrong as the English language defines the word but they do not convey the meaning of the word from the original language. This is not to say that there is not application to either of those but it is much larger.
The Greek word we translate as “Blessed” is the word “makarios” which is translated “exceedingly happy.”
- But it is more than just being happy in an emotional context which is based on outward circumstances
- The word makarios refers to the ultimate wellbeing and distinctive spiritual joy of those who share in the salvation of the Kingdom of God.
KEY: In other words it indicates not only the characteristics of those who are truly blessed, but the nature of that which is of the highest good and what it truly means to be a blessing in this present life (seeing the Kingdom in the here and now). So, let’s examine what Jesus means by being blessed and being a blessing! Over the next 8 weeks we’ll look at each “Beatitude” for an even greater appreciation!
TO BE BLESSED AND TO BE A BLESSING IS TO BE JOY-FUL!
Remember, the Sermon on the Mount is all about how we can live and represent the best of humanity. In a culture where the bar gets lowered all the time, Jesus sets the bar high and shows how, in him, we can not only live “the blessed” life, but by doing so, also “be a blessing!”
And the first thing he wants us to understand is that the “blessed life” is to be people full of and flowing with JOY! Remember what Jesus said in John 7:38, “out of your inner most being will flow rivers of living water.”
Basically Jesus is saying that if you are full of Christ, his Spirit, you will be full of Joy and that joy will overflow to those around you! Why is that so important? Because then people get to experience the reality of the kingdom of God! That the kingdom of God and people of the kingdom of God are full of joy and overflowing with joy!
To be a blessing is to overflow with joy! And this joy is not about walking around with a goofy grin on your face or laughing all the time no matter the situation or circumstances. As a matter of fact, as we’ll see when we look at the Beatitudes, we are going to mourn and experience some persecution- not laughing matters!
There’s a huge difference between having joy and just being happy. As I said earlier happiness is most often a result of an outside stimulus and is an external reaction to that circumstance. But joyfulness is an inward attitude that is a result of the hope and understanding of our relationship with God.
- Joyfulness born out of an expectation. (Anticipation and excitement). “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” -Philippians 4:4
- Joyfulness born out of an assurance. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.” -James 1:2-4
Joy is the anticipation and assurance of all God has promised! Enduring this trial, my giving to others, trusting God, living by faith; all such things will be rewarded God promises. And Jesus calls us to the blessed life and to be a blessing in this life by being full of and overflowing with joy! The joy that comes from knowing God comes through!
TO BE BLESSED AND TO BE A BLESSING IS TO BE CONTENT
Let’s be brutally honest it is very hard to be content in a culture where the new IPhone 5 just came out and you have the obviously now outdated IPhone 4S, let alone an old IPhone 4! Geez!! Or more seriously, to have contentment, especially when it means, happiness with one’s life situation, when there’s all kinds of issues going on in your life, as well as the lives of those around you- a lost job, the passing of a loved one, a difficult medical diagnosis, a wayward child, a demotion, less money… the list goes on!
But Jesus says that kingdom people are contented people and people who facilitate contentment to those around them. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy or don’t aspire to greater things- that’s not even remotely what Jesus is talking about.
It’s an attitude, a mindset of finding satisfaction even in the most challenging circumstances. It has a lot to do with being thankful and fostering thankfulness among others! It’s saying, “Yes, this job may not be the best job but it enables me to meet my needs” or “it has put in a place where I’m learning some great things; developing my character” or “I know I’m having a positive influence on the people that work here!”
When you learn that kind of contentment that only comes from knowing that God always has your best interest at heart and that he promises to make a way for you, you bring that “spirit” into every environment you encounter; and the kingdom is here and now in all those settings! That’s when you know you’re blessed and that you’re being a blessing!
If you’ve given your life to Christ then Contentment is knowing that God is in control!
Paul writes, 7 “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” -Phil. 3:7-9
- Contentment is based on who we are in Christ! You are made righteous through Christ, you have relationship because of Christ, and you have rulership with Christ!
- Contentment is based on the hope we have in Christ! The hope of his purpose at work in your life, the hope of his power and provision for that purpose!
You couldn’t have listened to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and specifically the Beatitudes, or read them today, and not come away with this truth: that despite my life situation, there is blessing to be realized and opportunity to bless as I give myself completely to the control of Christ because then he’s in control and I can find profound contentment in that…. and so can others!
LET’S BE A BLESSING!
There’s this very important connection that we need to make, and that is this- if I’ve been blessed then I need to be a blessing!
As we’ll discover in the weekend teachings ahead, these 8 things, beatitudes that Jesus gives us are all about how to achieve the highest level of what it means to be human with access to the kingdom of God here and now; and with the hope of eternal life in the kingdom to come!
Yes, it requires us to stop looking at the Christian life, my church life, for what we can get out of it; but for what we can put into it every day and the true richness of reward that this reciprocates back into our life!
Ultimately I would submit to you that the most “blessed” people, the people that find true reward in life and certainly the one to come, that experience the “blessings” of God, are those who have learned and live to be a blessing!
Next week: “Blessed are the Poor…”