Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount

Episode 5

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6

   For most of us if it doesn’t seem to affect me than it simply does not matter.  I like to think that if I had been living in Nazi Germany that I would be among those who spoke up to try to save the Jews.  At the very least I would among those heroes who hid them in the walls of their homes.  But I fear that I would be among those that would keep silent. 

I look at my own character and know that I would never be those that would be throwing rocks and being a party to killing the Jews.  Or is even that just wishful thinking? 

Injustice makes me angry.  But then I wonder who I am angry with?  Experts tell me that anger is a secondary emotion so what is really going on here?  I hate to admit it but as I examine my heart it is fear that currently is the most likely culprit. 

When I watch any of the videos of African Americans being oppressed in small ways or more lethal ways my heart breaks.  Yes, it breaks for the victims.  But it also breaks and makes me wonder if I was there what would I do?  Would I jump in to protect?  Would I raise my voice?  Again I like to think so but I fear that really I a coward.

African Americans are not the only ones facing discrimination in small and large ways across our country.  Consider the assorted American tribes or the Japanese during World War II or even the Chinese during the bubonic plague of 1900.  What am to do?

Would I be like those Germans who looked the other way and determined that they were good because they were not personally committing the atrocities?  I have never seen a study that would prove this but I would hazard a guess that there were more of those not oppressing the Jews than were directly responsible for the holocaust.  They are the powerful and silent majority.  I would also lay out there that there are more white middle age men like me that would never tell a race related joke nor determine that every person from a different race is dangerous.  Yet what are we doing?  What can we do?

What does courage look like? 

  1. If I hunger and thirst for righteousness than when I see things happening that are unrighteous, and I am in a position to do something I must take action.  Talk is cheap.
  2. If I hunger and thirst for righteousness than I must personally live by the Golden Rule

Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.  Matthew 7:12

  • If I am a leader and I hunger and thirst for righteousness I must use whatever influence I have to bring healing and restoration to those who are oppressed.
  • If I hunger and thirst for righteousness, I must be willing to sacrifice, humble myself and do whatever it takes to see that those who have been oppressed get back what was stolen from them with interest.

There is likely more that can and should be said but this is where we can start.  Let us respect others even beyond race, those that we disagree with.

  • Those that wear masks and those that don’t.
  • Those that will be vaccinated from Covid-19 and those that won’t.
  • Those that will vote for President Trump and those that will vote for Joe Biden.
  • Those that look and act different than me.
  • Those that sin different than me.
  • Those that live by a different world view than me.
  • Those that marry different than me.

I see no reason why I must agree with everyone (That would be impossible anyway.) But I also don’t see any reason why I can’t at least respect others and treat them the way that I would like to be treated.

Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount


Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.

-Matthew 5:5

  WHAT?  In this world we all know that it is the tough who survive and thrive.  Certainly, it is the strongest who conquer and take over the earth.  Yet, here is Jesus with a different idea. 

As a young man I had a terrible temper.  That anger would be used to be loud, to challenge physically in some cases or in most cases to quietly work to control a situation through manipulation.  I always thought that my way was the only way and the only way to make it happen was through strength. 

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

 -Proverbs 16:32

In our nation we tend to connect meekness with weakness.  While the two words rhyme and seem to have similar meanings it is important to understand the difference.  The weak person really can do nothing to control the situation.  They have given up power or they never had the power to help themselves in the first place.  However, the meek person they have the power and the strength.  They can take out their enemies.  This could be by exposing the truth about their enemies’ intentions.  This could be by brutal force.  But the meek person, holds back that power.  They show restraint.  In the meek person, the flesh does not rule.  They trust in God to give them vengeance or to make things right. 

I have enemies.  It is strange to me.  Some do not like that I believe that the men and women that are trapped in poverty, addiction and sin have greatness within them.  They would see these men and women as helpless and needing of a parenting figure.  They feel the hurting are entitled to handouts and that the church must care for them.  I see the greatness and while helping them out of the river where they nearly drowned.  I also see that if I can teach them to swim that they can help other people.  When they help other people, I can be free to travel upriver to fix the bridge that is allowing these men and women to fall into the river in the first place.  I love them and believe in these people so much that I don’t let them make excuses.  But to my enemies that is not seen as love.

To fight them and the false teachers as well as a society that lives in fear would wear me out and while I might experience occasional victories I will ultimately lose.  If I don’t lose my cool.  If I stay focused on the next right thing.  If I can have a controlled response to the evils of this world than I can start to take down the forces of evil.  It is when I try to force my way in that I lose.  It is when I take it on myself and do not allow the Holy Spirit to guide my steps that I become a weak man and cease to be a meek man. 

It is the meek person that inherits the earth.  The one that is in control of his/her emotions and puts their trust in God who begins to shape the future of our nation, our communities and our world.  That meekness can only rise to the surface when we really trust in God.

Simply live your life doing the next right thing.  Listen to the Holy Spirit and if He leads you to confront evil, do so.  If He directs you to back off, do so.  Make sure that it is not your own fear that holds you back though.  When you unleash the power that is within you the enemy will fight back. 

When David killed Goliath the armies of the Philistines were ready to fight but the nation of Israel was encouraged by the boldness of David and won the victory.  What victories will you win when you focus your abilities and strength at the right time and right place?  How will our world reflect more of Jesus when you are being led by the Holy Spirit love the poor enough to believe in them.  When the Holy Spirit causes you to revolt against false teachers, against injustice and against the forces that encourage sin, what will the world look like. 

It looks like you will be inheriting the earth.

Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount

Episode 3

Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.

-Matthew 5:4 

 I don’t think that I have ever been envious of those that are mourning.  I see them and I might feel empathy.  Possibly I will feel sorry for them or concern as to what they will do next with their lives, but never envy.  I really don’t want to be them.  Yet they are blessed by Jesus. 

Our world gives us plenty to mourn over.  The plague rocking our world.  Politics out of control.  Wars and protests that never seem to end.  It can be easy to become overwhelmed with grief over the state of the world.  Some churches with good intentions and a great deal of twisted Scripture encourage people to not worry.  They say God will handle the situation.  That is true.  But in the meantime we feel pain.  They say that we are to never speak of our sorrow.  We are taught by these false teachers that if we speak it, we will experience it.

However, Jesus gives us the license to mourn.  We can cry out to the Father and let Him know that we hurt.  I have walked with Jesus for almost three decades now and to my amazement I have discovered that He is big enough to handle my anger, my sorrow and my confusion.  He does not slam me to the ground when I get frustrated or when I have doubts.  He simply tells me to mourn and that he will comfort me.

I meet many in the church, in nearly every denomination that have been corrupted by the prosperity Gospel.  They are told to declare healing, declare prosperity and it will be so.  If you admit to sickness they put you down or insult you and explain that you are calling down these situations on yourself.  The result is that many are sick and not bringing their pain to the elders to be prayed for.  Others are denying their illness or injury.  They lie and hide their pain.  A false faith arises because they are condemned for their feelings of pain and abandonment.

Yes, my friends God is capable of healing all of our diseases and He is capable of restoring what the enemy has stolen.  But each of us must start by being honest and submitting to the sovereignty of God.  Trust in Him.  Trust in Him enough to tell Him how you feel.  Share the pain, the agony.  Mourn with Him over the loss of a relationship, over the loss of a job or a home or a dream.  Walking with Him, He might explain it to you, He might not.  But walking with Him will bring you comfort and draw you closer to Jesus than ever before. 

If mourning draws us closer to Jesus.  If feeling loss means that He is putting His arm around me (Jesus does not concern Himself with social distancing.) than maybe I should be envious of those that allow themselves the freedom to tell the truth. “I am hurting.  I am wounded.  My life is not what I imagined.”  We are to openly mourn and grief and then we can get closer to Him.  How blessed are those who mourn.

Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount

Episode 2

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:3

How do I become a Spiritual pauper?  It is actually a trick question.  I already am one.  I actually just become one by admitting that I don’t really know or understand God.  This was Job’s problem.  When God responds to the accusers and to Job, God basically said, “You really don’t know me.” 

Yet He longs to be known.  The Bible is full of the cry of God for us to connect with Him.  “Please repent of your sins! Draw near to me.  Come join me on my mission.”  Many in the church today are so full of themselves because they have been coming to church for 20,30 or more years.  They have heard 1000s of sermons, maybe they read their Bibles and say their prayers.  Hopefully they are not just bench warmers and serve the church.  That is all good.  Keep doing those things.

But to live out the life of a Spiritual pauper we must recognize that our ways are not His ways.  Our God is so vast that we will never really be able to comprehend His love for us.  Often I catch a glimpse but never really grasp the wholeness of God.  Honestly, though that is the passion of the relationship with Him.

Many dating relationships never survive the point where they seem to know all there is to know about a person. (They can’t actually know everything but it can seem that way.)  Boredom sets in and the relationship dies a typically slow and painful death.

With God though it is like the honeymoon all of the time.  If you are a Spiritual pauper at least.  The more you know Him the more you want to know Him. If you acknowledge that you are a spiritual pauper you will look for him not just in church, but everywhere.

Do you realize that Jesus goes to movie theaters with you?  You might want to think about that when you choose your next flick.  My guess is that He enjoys many of them.  Others maybe He doesn’t like so much.   Next time ask Him?

What does the Gospel look like at work?  It looks like planting the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23).  It looks like living in wisdom.  Wouldn’t you like to work in wisdom? 

As a spiritual pauper I recognize that I need Him to help solve problems with my family, my other relationships and more.  He points out the hurt of others and calls me to interact.  Other times He simply protects me.

I really love it when as a spiritual pauper that Jesus shuts my mouth.  He also has the power to keep my fingers from typing mean emails and keeping me from hitting send. 

He does more but if we think we know it all and we interpret Scriptures only in ways that benefit our selves or that protect the status quo, it may be that He directs us and we don’t hear.

Being a spiritual pauper forces me to listen to the opinions of others.  I simply do not grasp the depth of who God is.  As wild as it is, it might be that we are all correct in these doctrinal disputes.  The challenge is that our “god” is not big enough to be downright contradictory sometimes.

Now don’t hear me say that doctrine does not matter.  I believe in sound doctrine.  I believe the church must call sin, sin.  I believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.  But remember in the book of Joshua when the angel is talking with Joshua about the plan for Jericho?  Joshua asks him, “Are you for us or against us.”  The angel’s answer is basically neither side.  We fight over minutia.  We divide the body of Christ to fulfill our own fleshly desires.  But what matters is that we learn to depend on God because we are Spiritual paupers. 

Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount


Matthew 5:1-2  Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,  and he began to teach them.

Too often church becomes about the show.  It is right to work to ensure that everything we do during a church service is done with excellence.  While I agree that no one should be simply winging their worship.  I am afraid that this orchestration often goes too far.  Each service has a set script.  In the high church they call this the liturgy and but the Evangelical church would be horrified to realize that they have their own liturgy.  Because I speak at a multitude of churches I see pretty much the same thing though the order typically varies slightly

Opening praise song (Usually lively) In most of the churches there is clapping.

Then announcements and greeting of each other. (I am sure the greeting will change in the light of the plague)

Then there are more praise songs and a subtle change to worship music (Lively toward more somber and focused music)

Then there is the offering

Then a sermon that must not last much longer than 20-40 minutes so everyone can get out in time to get to the restaurants before they get crowded.

As we get ready to discuss Jesus’s most powerful sermon the thing that stands out to me is that Jesus did not seem to be expecting to preach to the crowds.  He was there, they were there so He began to teach them.

Jesus is just going about His day and he decided to seize the opportunity.  He saw them.  I have no doubt that He saw their physical forms.  Man, woman, boy, girl, goat, chicken, ox or whoever or whatever was there.  But He saw them.  He saw their need. Socially, emotionally, mentally.  He saw the whole person.

Later He will give a parable that we often call the Good Samaritan.  In that story Jesus points out that the Samaritan saw the man.  He did not just notice him. He saw Him as a man of need. 

Jesus will also later tell the story that we call the Prodigal Son.  The Father there saw the boy a long way off. 

When we have the show planned seeing the people will throw off the script.  Each person coming to the church service has their own need.  Notice I said they have a need.  Too many come to church to check the box, feel good and go home unchanged.  Every single person that walks into the church service has a need to connect with their Savior.  Sometimes that connection fills us full of joy as He commends us for serving Him faithfully.  Other times though we feel the pain of correction.  He loves us enough to correct us so that we will stop hurting His children. 

Many months ago now I confronted someone who obviously misunderstood the Scriptures and attempted to delicately show him how his teaching was hurting people.  He dismissed me.  He demonstrated that he could not see the people’s need.  All this man could see is that his teaching was popular and that was how he was going to go forward.  He could not see that he was not seeing the entirety of Scripture.

But the truth is most of us can not see the fullness of God.  We must do like Jesus did if we are going to call ourselves disciples.  It must start with being teachable.  Our verse for today tells us the disciples came to Him.  They had learned from Rabbi’s and fathers before this.  But they were open to learn directly from Jesus.  Are we?

Jesus looked around the crowd and saw that these men and women had needs.  He does not start out with an entertaining video or flashy introduction.  He sits down and addresses the people out of love and compassion. 

Out of Love and compassion the body of Christ needs to learn what does the Gospel look like at work.  What does the Gospel look like when my dad is abusive?  What does the Gospel look like at home?  What does the Gospel look like at the playground when there is a bully? 

The church must start answering the question.  What does the Gospel look like at the hospital, on the highways and to the guy sleeping in the doorways of the church building?

 What would the modern church look like if we took our focus on the “Church Service” and focused on the Church being a service to our community?

What if the church saw the need beyond music, offerings and preaching?

Again there is nothing wrong with worship services.  The problem is that we don’t let the translate from the church pew (or chairs mostly now) to the living room couch.  The church must help people figure out how to become Christ followers no matter what life throws at them.

It will be another three chapters before Jesus gets to the conclusion but it all begins with his compassion for the crowd.  The conclusion that is spoken of by Jesus by His actions here is that there will be storms and only through the love of God will you survive.  We must build our lives on His love.  We can’t do that if we ignore the need.