UPSIDE DOWN & LOVING LARGE (Part 1) Defining Happiness Matthew 5: 1-12 Pastor Carey April 23, 2017

A devout Christian was asked how he was feeling. “I’m burdened this morning!” was his reply. But his happy countenance contradicted his words. So the questioner exclaimed in surprise, “Are you really burdened?” “Yes, but it’s a wonderful burden–it’s an overabundance of blessings for which I cannot find enough time or words to express my gratitude!” Seeing the puzzled look on the face of his friend, he added with a smile, “I am referring to Psalm 68:19, which fully describes my condition. In that verse the Father in heaven reminds us that He ‘daily bears our burdens!'”  Have you ever considered that Jesus Christ, bears our burdens every day?  Regardless of what we are facing, Jesus will bear the weight…but do we still carry them too?

One morning a farmer was driving to town in his truck.  He passes a man walking who was carrying a great load of straw on his back.  The farmer pulled up alongside the traveler and discovered that he too was going to town.  So the farmer invited the man to climb into the back of his truck and ride.  After about a mile, the farmer looked in his rear view mirror and saw the man in the back of the truck, still carrying his load of straw on his back! How hard it is at times for us to truly allow ourselves to be blessed.  Not to mention how we define what a blessing is.  How do you define a blessing in your life?  Good things that happen, bad things that don’t happen, gifts, spouse, family, relationships, etc.  How do you define blessing in your life?

Matthew 5 contains the first major teaching of Jesus that is known as The Sermon on the Mount.  It begins with a series of 8 one-liners that describe the life of a disciple in his kingdom.  We refer to those passages as the Beatitudes.  Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus confronts his listeners and challenges them then – and us today, to live, to act and to think differently than the world.  The Beatitudes are 8 illustrations of blessed living in God’s kingdom. These 8 blessings address our attitudes and relationships about our self, others and God.

1) Blessed are the poor in spirit:  This describes an attitude about self: we are blessed when we are NOT ego driven and when we want to empty ourselves of anything that keeps us from being totally filled by the indwelling of God. What keeps you from emptying yourself from the things that stand between you and God?

2) Blessed are those who mourn: This describes an attitude about others: we are blessed when we open ourselves to the pain and suffering in the world.  These are ones who recognize and mourn the sins of the world, the sins of individuals and their own sinfulness. What breaks your heart because you know it breaks God’s heart?

3) Blessed are the meek: This describes an attitude about God: We are blessed when we allow ourselves to be God-molded not self-molded.  It is not about weakness but rather it is about strength under control – God’s control.  When we totally surrender to God – we become what Jesus describes as meek, what others would describe as real – no false face any more!  What keeps you from becoming totally molded by God?

4) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: This is the second description of our attitude about self: The first beatitude calls for us to empty our self.  This one calls us blessed when we develop an intense desire for the Godly things that fill our souls.  We are blessed when we are so full of God that it affects our hands and our feet to the world.  How hungry and thirsty are you for the things – the kingdom – of God?

5) Blessed are the merciful: This is the second description of our attitude about others:  The second beatitude called us blessed when we recognize the pain in the world.  We are blessed when being merciful means we enter into someone else’s life – their skin, their circumstances in order to give them what they need, not what we think they deserve! How willing are you to enter into the life of another?

6) Blessed are the pure in heart: This is the second description regarding our attitude about God: The third beatitude tells us we are blessed when the only thing in our heart – our motives is seeking God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness.  Here we discover that we are blessed when there is purity IN our hearts and motives and everything that comes FROM our hearts and motives every day.  This is where what we say we believe is shown by what we do because we believe: our creed=our deed. How well does your creed = your deeds?

7) Blessed are peacemakers: This is the third description of our attitude about ourselves.  We are blessed when we are empty of ourselves and we are blessed when we are totally filled by God.  This beatitude calls us blessed when we are peacemakers – not peacekeepers.  This calls us out of our comfort zone and into our community to help work for the highest good.  We are called to get our hands dirty in bringing the peace of God in every situation and circumstance.  When was the last time you got your hands dirty for Jesus?

8) Blessed are those persecuted for their faithfulness: This is the third description about our attitude of others:  We are blessed when we recognize the pain and suffering in the world. We are blessed when we enter into another’s pain and suffering and bring them what they need and not what they deserve.  We are also blessed when our faithful involvement brings us persecution.  We will be persecuted, we will suffer and we will face resistance and defensiveness when we represent Jesus in a hurting world.  When this happens we join along side of many others who have experienced the same persecution throughout the years.  But even more, our suffering connects us closer to the suffering of Jesus, who always promises to be with us!  Persecution and suffering sharpens our faith, and blesses our life in Christ!  Have you experienced the persecution that serving Jesus brings?

Once again I ask, how do you define blessing in your life?  Does you definition align with Jesus’ definition?  Why or why not?

 

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