Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Paradox of Persecution

Text: Matthew 5:10-12

Thesis: those who's life is an example of Christian character will receive true happiness despite having to deal with satanic suffering

I. The Reason For Persecution

-verse 10...blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
-this verse clearly states that not everybody who is persecuted can be considered blessed...only those who are persecuted for righteousness sake will be blessed
-this verse suggests that we will be persecuted for being just like Jesus

1. persecuted for being united with Christ - suggests the closer we get to Jesus, the more we will be persecuted
2. persecuted because the Holy Spirit is at work in us - ever since we got saved, the Holy Spirit has been working in us to transform us into looking less like the world and more like Jesus

II. The Requirements For Persecution

-verse 11...blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account
-we are persecuted not only because of righteousness but also because of Jesus himself
-not only because of our desire to be like him, but also our desire to submit to him

how do we know we are being persecuted for our faithfulness to Jesus

1. mocked because of Christ...says blessed are you when others revile you

-this word revile means to throw something in one's face...they mocked and ridiculed Jesus and if we are faithful to Him they will mock and ridicule us

2. marked because of Christ...when others revile you and persecute you

-this assures us that we will be persecuted...they will come after us for being faithful...because we follow Jesus we will have a bulls eye on our backs

3. maligned because of Christ...when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account

-because we are faithful to Jesus, there will be people who will flat out lie on us...and just make up all types of stuff against us
-but there is a blessing for those who can endure the lies of this world

III. The Reward For Persecution

-verse 12...rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you
-the good news about persecution of the saints is that all of this struggle is not for nothing...there will be a reward for those who suffer for Christ
-how we respond to our persecution will determine if we receive this reward

1. cheerful attitude...rejoice...word means to express joy as a direct result of the grace of God
-in other words, when we think about the fact that we are going through this period of persecution only because of the grace of God it should give us joy

2. celebratory approach...rejoice and be glad...means to show joy by leaping and skipping or to have ecstatic joy
-making through our suffering should do more than cause us to smile but it should make us want to jump for joy

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Peace in the Midst of Conflict

I failed to post my outline from two weeks ago, so I am posting it now!

Text: Matthew 5:9

Thesis: God blesses those who expresses a desire to calm the troubled waters with a lofted position in the His family of the faithful

I. Peacemakers Embrace the Cross

-peacemakers are those who have accepted the absolute necessity of the cross into their lives
-peacemakers know in their hearts that Jesus' cross was really their cross...and because of their sins against God, it should have been them hanging between two thieves and not Jesus
-this mindset enables children of God to live a life that will not look to retaliate when attacked

II. Peacemakers Encourage Communication

-peacemakers are willing to build bridges and break down barriers when burned by conflict
-peacemakers are never passive about reaching out to those they are in conflict with seeking a resolution to every problem
-peacemakers take the initiative to restore broken relationships

III. Peacemakers Extend the Hand of Cooperation

-peacemakers are willing to promote unity and talk not in divisive terms of US and THEM, but rather of WE
-peacemakers look past silly differences to make us all united in Jesus Christ

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Stuff

These Sundays right before holidays are always tough here in Jersey. I have been blessed to be able to preach in many cities around this country, and one thing I have noticed is that people tend to go to church more consistently in other parts of the country than they do in the northeast.

Our here it seems that God has a whole lot of competition to deal with on Sunday mornings. There is NY Giants football in the winter, pop warner football in the fall, and don't even mention the Jersey Shore in the summer. When it comes to holidays like Memorial Day, you can be assured that people in the northeast have to begin preparing on Sunday for their cookouts on Monday, so they stay home from church.

I try not to let that bother me, but I know that God is everything to me, and I can give Him a couple of hours on Sunday to worship His name, and then go and do the other things that I want to do to get ready for Monday. So as you can expect, I was not pleased when our attendance was way down today, but I told the members who were there that the Lord was pleased with their faithfulness in their worship. I told them that God never lets our faithfulness go unrewarded.

Jamal really ministered to us today during our worship period by bringing back an old hymn of the church, One More Time, One More Time, I'm glad to be in the service, One More Time. It got so good that I had to get a little piece of it myself. I am extremely happy with my music ministry, they are outstanding young men who really love Jesus and love what they do for Him. God Be Praised!

I concluded our series on the Beatitudes entitled Developing Christian Character, with an exposition on Matthew 5:10-12, which I labeled The Paradox of Persecution. Jesus closes out this section of his great Sermon on the Mount, with a warning to the church that there will be a wave of persecution on the horizon for those who consider themselves to be children of the King. He tells us that if we follow the first 7 principles of the Beatitudes, we can be assured that persecution will come to us. If we are not feeling the pressures of persecution, then it is a clear sign that we are not following at least one of the first 7 principles. But the paradox of our persecution is that God blesses those who are willing to endure suffering as a child of God. I am thankful that God will bless us for patiently enduring the persecution of this world.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Clean Heart

Text: Matthew 5:8

Thesis: Jesus pronounces his blessedness only to those who's purity is not relegated to the surface, but seek to reside at the center of our hearts

I. The Perception of Purity

-Jesus did not say blessed are the would have validated the belief system of the Pharisees who specialized in showing holiness on the outside but had dirty hearts on inside
-for purity is not found in outward expression but rather an inward commitment

a. free from corruption - pure in heart means to be without blemish which occurs at the moment of salvation and causes us to acknowledge our affliction to sin and receive the forgiveness of the Lord

b. fixed on Christ - pure in heart also means to have unmixed motives...suggests that our motives must be centered on pleasing Jesus and not ourselves

II. The Process of Purity

-being able to possess a pure heart is not easy...but it is possessed through a process that we all must go through

a. spiritual process - one of the greatest untruths is that in order for a person to change they must change their environment.
-while that is an important part of change, that alone will not suffice...for man's problems originates not from our environment, but rather from their heart
-man needs a changed heart to be truly pure

b. practical process - we need our heart cleansed daily through a closer relationship with the Lord
-James 4:7-8...submit therefore to God; resist the devil and he will flee...draw near to God and he will draw near to you; cleanse your hands you sinners; purify your hearts you double-minded

III. The Promise of Purity

-verse 8...blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God
-this verse has the same promise that each of the beatitudes possess...present and future fulfillment

a. present fulfillment - those that are pure in heart will see a vision of God physically in this world
1. see God through creation
2. see God through circumstances
3. see God through his care

b. future fulfillment - there will come a time when seeing God on earth will not be enough, but we will see God in eternity, face to face

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunday Stuff

I have been experiencing some severe writer's block for the last few weeks and that has caused me to become a little lax with my blogging. I really don't know why, other than the fact that I am so consumed with our project that I just haven't been able to shake this block. But the good news is that today, I began to feel the itch to write again, so here I am back again.

Mother's Day is a very difficult day for me as many of you know, since my Momma went home to be with the Lord in 2006, and yesterday was no different. I found myself just thinking about all of the things that she did for me. How she went without so that I could have, it made me not be tearful, but more appreciative for all that my Momma did for me. I love her and miss her greatly!

My big brother Pastor Michael Jordan (yes that's his name) and his wife continued our pre-Mother's Day tradition of going out the day before and we had an outstanding time at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. M.J. lost his mother in 2007 so it was an emotional time of sharing, but we made it through together.

Yesterday was a pretty good day in worship at First Mount Zion, but the truth is that special days are not really my favorite days to preach in because there are people who come to church just because their mother or grandmother made them come, and they do not come to worship God. That makes it a little tough to have worship like we should, but the Lord brought us through.

I continued our series on the Beatitudes entitled Developing Christian Character, with an exposition on Matthew 5:8 which says, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, which I labeled simply A Clean Heart. Jesus writes this 6th principle for living like a Christian in response to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who focused on an outward expression of obedience to the rules of religion and not an inward desire to have a closer connection with the Lord. So he writes this principle to charge the people of God to place their entire focus not on externalities but rather on an internal desire to have a heart that is pure and connected to Jesus Christ.

For too many of us have become satisfied with a head religion, which means that as long as we can remember our favorite scriptures and a few hymns, then everything is alright. Or we have become satisfied with a hand religion, which suggests that we have become more concerned with being dutiful instead of being faithful. Jesus says he desires not that we have a head religion, nor a hand religion, but he wants us to possess and exhibit a heart religion. I will post the outline tomorrow.

I want to say a word of gratitude to our blogging mother, Momma V, who has stepped into a mother-like figure for me and I want her to know that on this day, I am grateful that both you and Pops have become fixtures not just in my life, but in the lives of all of your biological and blogging sons. Thanks and we love you guys greatly.