The Blessed Life: The Secret of Happiness #2
Before we go verse by verse through the Sermon on the Mount, let me give you a little bit of background to this message Jesus preached.
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him–from Galilee, and from Decapolis,Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond theJordan.” (Matthew 4:23-25).
Before Jesus sat down on the mountain to deliver this message, we see Jesus the Messiah, arriving on the scene: healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils, and transforming lives. Because He went about doing good and healing all those who were oppressed of the devil and changing lives, crowds followed Him. There was something about Jesus that attracted people to Him. If we are called to follow the example of Jesus, shouldn’t we be attracting people as well? It’s because we haven’t allowed the light of Jesus that’s in us to shine forth that we haven’t seen more people come to Jesus.
Jesus came to reveal the goodness of God to people. He revealed the love of God the Father, telling people the Good News that God loves you, and God is love. In James 1:17, the Bible says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.” If you have one good thing in your life, it is a gift from your Heavenly Father. We have the wrong concept of God if we think He’s just all about the rules. Christianity is about a loving relationship with God as a Father in Heaven who longs to give you good gifts. Jesus said, “If you then (as human parents), being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11).
As a father I love to bless my children. I love to take them out for ice cream. I love to bless them with lots of presents at Christmas time. I’m not spoiling my kids rotten – I’m teaching them something about the generous Father heart of God. Bless your children! We’re created in the image of God, and one of the reasons why parents love to bless their children is because God the Father wants to bless His children. If you were to ask any human parent what they want for their children, you might hear different dreams: “I want them to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a teacher!” We all have different dreams for our children, but I guarantee you that every parent has one universal dream for their children: that they would be happy. Why would we not attribute that same character quality to God, our perfect and loving Heavenly Father? He wants His children to be happy as well. The foundation of our belief in a blessed life is a belief in the goodness of God.
When God created Adam and Eve, the first two human beings, He put them in the Garden of Eden.Edenis a word that means paradise or delights. That’s the nature of God. Heaven is calledParadise– a place of everlasting joy. If you don’t like joy, and you don’t like the idea of happiness and the blessed life, don’t go to Heaven. Heaven is called “The Joy of the Lord” (see Matthew 25:21). God is into joy and happiness, and we need to believe that about His nature.
Do you remember the story of the prodigal son? I prefer to call it the story of the prodigal Father. “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’ It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any. That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father. When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:11-20, msg).
The very next thing the Father did was to call for a party. He said, “Bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry!” (Luke 15:23-24). The sad part of this story is that the older brother got angry at the Father’s prodigal nature so he wouldn’t even go into the party. (Prodigal is defined as: wastefully or recklessly extravagant; lavishly abundant. Really, it’s the story of the prodigal Father, not the prodigal son). “Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.” (v. 28-30).
The older brother was focused on serving: “These many years I have been serving you.” He said, “I was being faithful, working and obeying your commands the way I was supposed to, but you never killed a calf for me!” The Father responded so tenderly to this son. He said, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.” There are two important truths here that he hadn’t realized. One was his inheritance. The Father said, “All that I have is yours!” Surely this was one of those jaw-dropping, eye-popping moments for this son. He could have had a fatted calf anytime he wanted to! Then the Father said, “I am with you always.” This spoke of the blessing of the Father’s abiding presence. The son was so focused on serving, with his “work, work, work” mentality, “I’m just serving Jesus, but I’m not having any fun.” He missed the joy of the presence of the Father, and he didn’t know the wonderful inheritance that he had. That’s sad. I hope that you aren’t bound by a servant mentality. Yes it’s true that we are called to serve in the church: to be great in theKingdomofGodmeans that we serve others through love. We don’t do this because we have to, rather because we know our Father loves us, and we want to serve Him – in response to His love.
“When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, “Blessed…” (Matthew 5:1-2).
Jesus is about to give His disciples the keys to the blessed life here. He’s about to describe the qualities of the people who will be blessed. The word blessed means happy, supremely blessed; to be envied, and spiritually prosperous – with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favour and salvation. Does that sound good to you? I would love to be blessed, and God wants me to be blessed.
“3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This is the first key to living the blessed life. To be poor in spirit means we recognize our spiritual poverty. We need to recognize that we don’t have it all together, and humble ourselves and admit our need for God. This is the attitude that says, “I’m not good enough on my own, I need you Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.” What is the reward of the blessed life? It is not money, power, fame, or worldly success – it is theKingdomofGod!
“4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” What does it mean to mourn? He’s talking about mourning over sin. We need to recognize that God is holy and repent of our sins, and pray, “Father, forgive me, for I have sinned.” What does it mean that we shall be comforted? There is a peace that comes into your heart when you confess and forsake your sins. Nothing compares to the joy of knowing that your sins are forgiven by God. When we confess our sins to God, He has promised to forgive our sins, and to wash us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
“5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” To be meek speaks of gentleness of spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. This comes from spending time with Jesus. The more time we spend with Jesus in prayer, the more we become like Him.
“6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” We need to stir up our hunger and thirst for more of God in our lives. One of the reasons we don’t experience the blessed life is because we are so full of worldly things that we don’t hunger after God’s kingdom. We’ve stuffed ourselves so full of the things of the world that there’s no room for a hunger for God. This is one of the reasons why it’s helpful for Christians to fast, to stir up our hunger and passion for more of the Lord.
“7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” This is the principle of theKingdomofGodthat says, “You will receive what you give.” If we give mercy, we’ll receive mercy. If we give forgiveness, we’ll receive forgiveness. This is the principle of reaping and sowing – we will receive what we give.
“8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” To be pure in heart doesn’t mean we don’t ever sin, but when we do sin, we are quick to repent and receive God’s forgiveness.
“9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” The peacemakers called the children of God because Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and our Heavenly Father is the God of Peace. Peacemakers are called God’s children because they are acting like their Father. The Bible says that we are called to pursue peace with all men. Unforgiveness hinders us from receiving the blessings of God.
“10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When we choose to live right, we will experience persecution. I’m not saying that once we start living our lives according to the Bible that nothing bad will ever happen to us. But no matter what storms or troubles may come in our lives, there will be that inner joy – the joy of the Lord that is our strength.
THE ROAD TO THE BLESSED LIFE:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:1-3).
God has placed before us the road to the blessed life. You need to choose whether or not you are going to walk on that road. Jesus said that there are two roads before us: “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14, nlt). The secret to happiness lies in being on the road to the blessed life. What road are you on?
Robert Frost wrote in his poem The Road Not Taken:
- I shall be telling this with a sigh,
- somewhere ages and ages hence:
- Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
- I took the one less traveled by,
- And that has made all the difference.
You’ve got two choices – two roads that are set before you. The world’s road offers money, fame, power, popularity, illicit sex, drugs and alcohol – as the road to happiness, but the end of that road is destruction. The road less traveled is the narrow road that leads to life… to the blessed life.
The Lord says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
When we choose to obey God and His Word, we are choosing to live the blessed life. God has given us so many rich promises in His Word. My prayer for you is that the Lord would help you to experience everything in the abundant, blessed life that He has made available for you. Live the blessed life!
Pastor Chris Jordan
This is a sample chapter from The Beausejour Pulpit.
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