“Salt and Light” – Matthew 5:13-16

salt and light

We continue our second week in a new series on the greatest sermon ever, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Last week, in the Beatitudes, we discovered that those who are already following Jesus will demonstrate the character of Christ.  The Beatitides are the heart-attitude of those belonging to the kingdom of heaven.

This week, Jesus begins to reveal the outworking of that heart-attitude in the everyday life of the Christian.  He makes one of the most encouraging statements of the entire sermon in this Sunday’s passage.  As with the Beatitudes, it is a statement of who God has made His people to be and describes how He will use them in the world in which they now live.  Through them, God’s glory will be made known to the world.  The Christian’s confidence rests not in him or herself, but in their Father in heaven.  That is a great encouragement as we wade deeper into the ethics of this great sermon of Jesus.

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Are You Hungry and Thirsty?

heart of worship

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

The biggest problem most non-believers have with Christianity, so they say, is Christians!  They claim that Christians are “hypocrites” and “self-righteous,” so who wants to be part of that?  Could it be true and what do they mean?

In a way, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which we just began a journey through on Sundays, addresses the hypocrisy and self-righteousness issues.  The Sermon on the Mount is not a prescription for your best life now, nor is it a list of qualifications for entering the kingdom of heaven.   It is a sermon specifically for those who are already Christians, those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.  God loved and rescued us just as we were, but because He loves us so much He won’t leave us as we are.  Those belonging to the Kingdom of Heaven will have hearts melted and transformed by the Gospel of grace and they will have a new desire to follow the commands of the Sermon on the Mount.  They will serve as evidence that the kingdom of heaven is now here and, at the same time, not yet fully realized.

Christians don’t just profess faith in Jesus to acquire eternal life.  They also repent of their old rebellious ways and turn towards God’s ways for their lives.  Repentance isn’t something we do after we’ve been a Christian for a while.  We have faith and repent at the same time, and continue to strive to repent toward righteousness.   As the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts, we begin to hunger and thirst, more and more, for righteousness.  It’s something Christians increasingly desire to do upon following Christ.  As hard as the Sermon on the Mount is to obey, a heart transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t get discouraged and say, “What’s the use?!”  No, a heart transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ says, “I want to live like that!”

So while Christians may seem like hypocrites, a genuine Christian is not.  Not because she is perfect, but because she knows that she is not, as much as she hungers and thirsts to be.  We are a constant work, of the Holy Spirit, in process.  We seek to be as righteous as Christ and yet fail all the time.  And so we repent and we try again, getting a little bit closer to the standard set by the Sermon on the Mount and what we will one day be, on the day when the kingdom of heaven is fully realized.  Jesus said to His disciples, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)  My own righteousness will never, in this world, be on par with that required for entrance into the kingdom of heaven, but thanks be to God that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4).  Remember that the next time someone objects to Christianity because of Christians.

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“Best Sermon Ever” – Matthew 5:1-12

beatitudes

This Sunday, we begin a new series through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, beginning with what’s known as the Beatitudes.  The Beatitudes are not a list of requirements for entering the kingdom of heaven, rather they represent the heart-attitude of those belonging to it.  Christ’s followers will exhibit some measure of all eight qualities listed in these Beatitudes.  How do you react to these eight heart-attitudes listed in Matthew 5:1-12?  Do you look at them and say, “Impossible; I can never be like this,” or do you look at them and say, “I long to be like this!”  How you respond will reveal what you know about Christ.  Come and see how it is that your heart can be melted and transformed to be like these Beatitudes.

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“Jesus Matters” – Exodus 20:17-21

Command 10

This Sunday, our journey through the Ten Commandments comes to an end as we arrive at commandment ten.  We’ve learned, as we’ve gone through the previous nine commandments, that they are not as easy to keep as you might think.  In fact, I suspect that most everyone has broken a number of them, myself included.  But, if for some reason, you think you’re unscathed thus far, commandment ten should disabuse you of that thought.  The great reformer, Martin Luther, said the tenth commandment is for those who “wish to be commended as honest and virtuous because they have not offended against the preceding commandments.”

But let’s not forget that God gave the Ten Commandments not only to show us our inability to keep them, but to lead us to the One who kept them on our behalf.  The Ten Commandments show you why Jesus matters and how satisfaction in Him will yield contentment with life.  That’s especially important, in our day, as we consider this last command.

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“Truth Matters” – Exodus 20:16

Command 9

This Sunday, in our journey through the Ten Commandments, we’ll arrive at commandment nine, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  In a general sense, this command is a prohibition against lying, especially as it relates to your neighbor.  In fact, the word used for “false” is the same word as “liar.”

But like many of the previous commands, you will benefit a great deal more if you consider the flip side of the command.  Yes, “You shall not steal,” but how might you positively state the command in order to please God?  If the opposoite of false, or lie, is “truth,” then God is effectively saying that His people will hold fast to the truth.  In fact, Jesus and the Apostle Paul interpret the ninth command in just that way.  Ravi Zacharias said, “The most important question anyone can ask is, “What is truth?”  How you answer that question will change your life forever.  Truth matters.

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“Property Matters” – Exodus 20:15

Command 8

This Sunday, in our journey through the Ten Commandments, we’ll arrive at commandment eight, “You shall not steal.”  Most of the commandments we’ve looked at so far, have negative (“You shall not”) and positive connotations.  It’s easy to get so focused on what God does NOT want us to do, that we totally miss what it is God would like us to do.  Sure enough, God doesn’t want you to steal, but what would He prefer you do instead?  And why?

Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul had a great deal to say about the eighth commandment, and have answered those “what” and “why” questions for us.  We’ll take a look at those answers, on Sunday, and learn how it is that “You shall not steal,” can transform your view of life in this world and the next.

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“Marriage Matters” – Exodus 20:14

Command 7

This Sunday, in our journey through the Ten Commandments, we’ll arrive at commandment seven, “You shall not commit adultery.”  I just want to warn you up front, I will be dealing with more sensitve content than in a usual Sunday sermon.  I don’t intend to get overly specific or graphic, but adultery, and all it entails, will be more difficult for some than others.  So, I’d like to put you at ease right now and let you know that I understand I’ll be talking to some who are married, some who were, and some who never have been.  I know I’ll be talking to those who have commited adultery and those who have been the victims of it.  I understand that children will be present as well as non-Christians.  I know some attending on Sunday may have committed adultery in the actual act or, at the very least, in their hearts during this past week.  And since all of that includes just about everyone in the congregation (forgive me if I’ve excluded you), I’m asking God to speak to grace and truth to all our hearts as I preach on this very important seventh commandment.

The seventh commandment is important because marriage is a reflection of God’s relationship with His people.  God established the institution of marriage at creation and it serves as an illustration, for those married and those who are not, of the various aspects of a Christian’s relationship with God.  Not only is God jealous for His people, He desires their security, their intimacy and their willful submission.  If you’re concerned about being beat up by this week’s passage, then you especially need to come and hear the offsetting weight of God’s grace available through Jesus Christ.   Join us this Sunday at 9 AM!

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