Finishing the Beatitudes

I am preaching through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) on Wednesday nights. Last night, I complete the introductory section – The Beatitudes of Jesus (Matt. 5:3-12).

The next section of the passage in Matthew 5:13-16, where Jesus describes the influence his disciples should have on the world for the kingdom of heaven. Using to gripping and dynamic word pictures, Jesus declares, “You are the salt of the earth” (5:13) and “You are the light of the world” (5:14-16).

Following this paragraph, I will be venturing into new ground in my exposition. Over the past two months, I have taken a fresh look at the beatitudes. But I have benefited from study notes that I already had on file. But I am now at a place in the text where I must study each text from scratch. I am looking forward to digging into portions of scripture that I have never studied or taught before. But it will require a lot more work. So please remember my study time in your prayers and my sequential exposition of Philippians on Sundays and the Sermon on the Mount on Wednesdays.

I preached last night from the final beatitude recorded in Matthew 5:10-12, in which Jesus blesses those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. I entitled the message, “In the Line of Fire.” It was very hard work. But the Lord is faithful. Here is the sermon skeleton from last night’s message:

Title: “In the Line of Fire”

Text: Matthew 5:10-12

Series: The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)

Theme: The blessing of Christian persecution

Point: The Lord blesses those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

Outline:

I. The reality of Christian persecution (5:10-11)

A. You will be reviled (v. 11)

B. You will be persecuted (v. 11)

C. You will be slandered (v. 11)

II. The reason for Christian persecution (5:10-11)

A. You will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake (v. 10)

B. You will be persecuted for Christ’s sake (v. 11)

III. The response to Christian persecution (5:12)

A. Look up and rejoice: “for your reward is great in heaven

B. Look back and rejoice: “for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you

Tonight, I began a new Wednesday night sermon series through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

I had planned on doing another series, on “Total-Life Stewardship.” It was very eager to get that study going. But I just could not get a green light to start it. I trust that the Lord will allow me to get to it at another time.

For the meantime, I will be in the Sermon on the Mount for a while. I plan to cover the entire passage. And I do not intend to rush through it. I need to spend this time studying the radical, exacting, and counter-cultural principles of the kingdom that Jesus teaches in Matthew 5-7. My congregation needs these encounter with Jesus, as well.

Please pray for us.

I began tonight with the opening section of the Sermon on the Mount, known as the “Beatitudes” (Matthew 5:3-12). God willing, I will go through each of them individually.

Here is the sermon skeleton from tonight’s message:

Title: “Good Credit for the Spiritually Bankrupt”

Text: Matthew 5:3

Sermon Series: “The Sermon on the Mount”

Theme: The blessed paradox of human depravity.

Point: God blesses the poor in spirit.

Outline:

I. What does it mean to be blessed?

A. True blessedness cannot be measured in man-centered terms.

A. It is not about emotional happiness.

B. It is not about favorable circumstances.

C. It is not about material prosperity.

B. True blessedness must be measured in God-centered terms.

II. What does it mean to be poor in spirit?

A. To be poor in spirit is to have a high view of God.

B. To be poor in spirit is to have a low view of self.

1. Spiritual poverty is necessary for salvation.

2. Spiritual poverty is necessary for spiritual growth.

III. What does it mean to have the kingdom of heaven?

A. The kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit exclusively.

B. The kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit presently.

The Heart’s Response to God’s Word

I plan to begin a new series on sermons this coming Sunday on the Parable of the Sower that I am calling: “The Heart’s Response to God’s Word.” It’s recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. But I will do my work from Matthew’s version – Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.

I find it most difficult and exhilarating to preach the parables of Jesus. They are so simple. And yet the profundity of these simple teachings is staggering. I am looking forward to the plowing through my own soul as I prepare myself to preach these messages.

Amid growing animosity and resistance to his ministry and message, Jesus tells this parable to his disciples to say to them that there is nothing wrong with the good seed of the word. It is alive, powerful, and life-changing. But the soil of the heart is not always good ground for the word to take root and grow and bear fruit.

My intention for this series are pretty similar to what I believe Jesus was up to when he told this parable. I want to encourage the church to have confidence in the power of the word. And I want them to understand that spiritual reasons behind people’s response (or lack of response) to the word of God. Ultimately, I want them to know that when the good seed falls on good ground, there is no limit to what God can do.

Here is the schedule for these upcoming message:

3/1 – The Sower, The Seed, and the Soil (Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23)

3/8 – Good Seed Along the Path (Matt. 13:4, 19)

3/15 – Good Seed on Rocky Ground (Matt. 13: 5-6, 20-21)

3/22 – Good Seed Among Thorns (Matt. 13:7, 22)

3/29 – Good Seed on Good Soil (Matt. 13:8, 23)

Please remember this series of messages in your prayers. May the Lord help me to speak his word with faithfulness and clarity. And may the hearts of those who hear these messages be good soil and fertile ground to receive the implanted word that is able to save our souls.

The Stewardship Of Your Gifts

God willing, I will continue my series on “Total-Life Stewardship” this Sunday. I am nearing the end. And it is pretty interesting how this series has been growing on me as the weeks have gone by. Sunday’s message will be the next to last in the series. I plan to speak on the stewardship of our (spiritual) gifts.

1 Peter 4:10-11 is the foundational text for this message. It says: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (ESV)

My goal is to help the congregation under what scripture teaches about spiritual gifts. Then I want to challenge the church to use their God-given gifts in service to one another. Hopefully, I will be able to challenge the church to make a new commitment to Christian service and show them some practical, next steps they can take to become a better steward of their spiritual gifts.

The Stewardship of your Speech

On last Lord’s day, I continued my series on “Total-Life Stewardship.” The message was on the stewardship of the body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). I sought to make two major points in that message: (1) We should strive to be healthy, and more importantly, (2) we should strive to be holy.

God willing, this sunday I will preach on the stewardship of our speech or our words. The Bible is clear that words matter to God. And our words matter to God. There are many reasons why what we say matters. But maybe the most important reason why we should be on guard about what comes out of our mouths is because the words we say reveal the condition of our hearts (Matthew 12:34b). Or as the old saying goes, “What’s down in the well will come up in the bucket.”

Words are powerful (Proverbs 18:21 – I hope to take a moment in the message to address what this verse does and does not mean). And we should use our words for good and not for evil (James 3:1-12).

This is a hard subject, because none of us can say that we have totally mastered our tongues – even though that would be a great thing to do (James 3:2). But the good news is that God is able to change the way you talk. If you confess your sins, the Lord will forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). And the Bible gives a lot of practical instruction for how to bridle our tongues.

May the Lord use his word to help us to become better stewards of our words.

Total Life Stewardship

This coming Sunday I will begin a new sermon series that I am calling “Total-Life Stewardship: Being Faithful with a Borrowed Life.”

The bottom-line of Christian stewardship is simply that God owns everything. We are just stewards (or managers) of the things we possess. And this stewardship involves more than just our time, talents, and treasures – even though it definitely includes these fundamental things. Christian stewardship involves every area of our lives. It is required of stewards that one be found faithful. And one day we will have to answer to the Lord for how we have lived our lives. So over the next seven weeks we will study together various aspects of Christian stewardship (or discipleship) in our Sunday morning worship services. Here is the schedule of the messages:

1/13- The Stewardship of Your Time

1/20 – The Stewardship of Your Finances

1/27 – The Stewardship of Your Relationships

2/3 – The Stewardship of Your Body

2/10 – The Stewardship of Your Speech

2/17 – The Stewardship of Your Gifts

2/24 – The Stewardship of Your Witness