Jesus Wants to Give Us Heavenly Happiness (Part 2)
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 27, 2013
*A lot of people are watching "Duck Dynasty" these days. It was on the front page of the paper today. And it's my brother's favorite show, even though he lives halfway across the country! "Duck Dynasty" is a funny show, and one of the little things I like is the way daddy Phil Robertson describes happy people being happy. Phil says they're "happy, happy, happy."
*Church: God wants us to be "happy, happy, happy." He wants our lives to overflow with His heavenly happiness. And Jesus shows us how to get it in the opening verses of the Sermon on the Mount. This truth is easy for us to miss, because most of our English Bibles use the word "blessed" instead of "happy." But the original word simply means "happy."
*There is another word in the New Testament translated as "bless" or "blessed." It's a totally different word that is found 44 times in the New Testament. That other word "blessed" means to "speak well about" or "praise" someone. It's where we get our word "eulogy." And this is the word we are relating to when we "say the blessing."
*A good example of that other word "blessed" is in Matthew 21:9. There Jesus was riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and "the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: 'Hosanna to the Son of David! "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" Hosanna in the highest!'"
*Here in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus was talking about happiness, and He emphasized this heavenly happiness nine times in Matthew 5. Altogether, this Greek word is found 50 times in the New Testament. And it is translated as "blessed" 44 of those 50 times. But the other times it is translated as "happy" or "happier."
*For example, in John 13:16&17, Jesus told His disciples:
16. "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
17. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them."
*That "happy" is the same original word as "blessed" here in Matthew 5.
*Another example is in Acts 26:2, where Paul had been falsely imprisoned for two years, and now was on trial before King Agrippa. Paul opened his testimony by saying, "I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews."
*Again, it's the same original word as "blessed" here in Matthew 5.
*One more example is 1 Timothy 1:11, where Paul mentioned "the glorious gospel of the blessed God." That word "blessed" means "happy" too. It reminds us that although God's wrath is real, we have a happy God! And He wants His people to be happy too.
1. Jesus shows us where to find heavenly happiness. First, we find it through a meek heart.
*This the Lord's message to us in vs. 5, where Jesus said: "Blessed (or happy) are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
*Now, We must understand that this "meek" doesn't mean "weak." Melvin Newland explained that "most people seem to think that meek means weak, a spineless person without any backbone at all. But in the original language, 'meek' was used in taming a wild animal." (1)
*David Parks said that "meekness" was also used for "a powerful horse under the control of its master." (2)
*So the word "meek" is a picture of power under control. Our pride often gets in the way of Biblical meekness. That's why meekness tends to be rare and unpopular. But meekness toward other people is the ability to stay calm and unruffled in the face of being provoked.
*William Barclay explained it this way: "Meekness is the quality of the man whose anger is so controlled that he is always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time. It describes the man who is never angry at any personal wrong he may receive. But who is capable of righteous anger when he sees others wronged." (3)
*Meekness is not weakness. It is our emotion under God's control. David Parks gave this good comparison between weakness and meekness:
-"Weakness turns its back on sinners.
-Meekness restores them.
-Weakness brings disunity.
-Meekness brings unity.
-Weakness returns the abuse.
-Meekness takes the abuse.
-"Meekness is the strength to back down from a fight you know you could win." (2)
*Doesn't that all sound like Jesus? Christians: Our meekness is always a reflection of His meekness. So meekness isn't just about our relationships with other people. Mostly it's about our relationship with God. And Biblical meekness is evidence that we have a relationship with God. Being meek means being humble toward God and having a teachable spirit, willing to be led by God.
*Matthew Henry wrote that: "The meek are those who quietly submit themselves to God, to His Word and to His rod, who follow His directions, and comply with His designs. . . (4)
*Melvin Newland adds: "When we talk about a meek person, we're talking about one whose life has been brought under the influence of the Holy Spirit. God is in control of their life. But most of us want to be in the driver's seat. What this Beatitude tells me is that I am to scoot over to the passenger side and say, 'Jesus, you drive. You take hold of the steering wheel of my life. I turn it over to you.'" (1)
*Jesus, take the wheel. Try that and we will find the blessed life, the happiness of a meek heart led by the Holy Spirit.
*Catholic priest Mychal Judge had this kind of meekness. He was the NYC Fire Chaplain who became the first official fatality at the World Trade Center on 911. Mychal had been a firehouse chaplain for ten years and lived across the street from Ladder 24. On the morning of 911, he threw on his fireproof uniform and raced to the burning towers.
*There Mychal was killed by falling debris, and on his body they found this prayer that Mychal had written years before: "Lord, take me where You want me to go; Let me meet who You want me to meet; Tell me what You want me to say, And keep me out of Your way." (5)
*That was a meek spirit. And Jesus said: "Blessed (or happy) are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." This is the sure hope for everyone who has the meekness to learn:
-That we cannot save ourselves...
-That Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us...
-And that He will save everyone who receives Him as Lord and Savior.
*Jesus shows us where to find heavenly happiness. -- We find it through a meek heart.
2. And we find it through a hungry heart.
*This is the Lord's message to us in vs. 6, where Jesus said: "Blessed (or happy) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."
*The hunger and thirst here are hard for us to understand. William Barclay explained: "The fact is that very few of us in modern conditions of life know what it is to be really hungry or really thirsty. In the ancient world it was very different. A working man in Jesus' day ate meat only once a week. And they were never far from the border-line of real hunger and actual starvation. It was still more so in the case of thirst. It was not possible for the vast majority of people to turn a on a tap and get clear water pouring into their house.
So, then, the hunger here is not light hunger which could be satisfied with a mid-morning snack. The thirst here is not thirst which could be satisfied with a cup of coffee or iced tea. It is the hunger and thirst of someone who will die unless they eat and drink. (6)
*That's the way we should hunger and thirst for God's righteousness. And when we do, Jesus promises we "shall be filled."
*But what are we hungering and thirsting for in life? What really matters to us? What do we care about? Do the things that matter the most matter to me?
*Honestly, most of us have mixed emotions when it comes to pursuing the righteousness of God. But it helps to remember that we need His righteousness more that the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. It also helps to remember that we can never have real happiness unless we do hunger and thirst for God's righteousness. And it helps to remember that we have no righteousness at all apart from Jesus Christ.
*Here is part of Paul's explanation from Romans 3:
10. As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;
11. there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.
12. They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.''
19. Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22. even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;
23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24. being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
*What are we hungering and thirsting for in life? Jesus said: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." Jesus shows us where to find heavenly happiness. We find it through a heart that craves His righteousness.
3. And we find it through a merciful heart.
*As Jesus said in vs. 7: "Blessed (or happy) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
*Bill Bouknight tells us that in the original language which Jesus spoke, the word "merciful" means literally "to get under someone's skin." It means to see life from their perspective, to stand in their shoes. It means active, merciful understanding. (7)
*Jesus calls us to this kind of mercy over and over in the Sermon on the Mount. For example, here in Matthew 5:
-Verse 39, "Turn the other cheek."
-Verse 44, "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."
*In Matthew 6:12, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Then in verses 14&15:
14. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
*And in Matthew 7:1, "Judge not, that you be not judged."
*Jesus wants us to have heavenly happiness, and He shows us where to find it.
-Through a meek heart.
-Through a hungry heart that craves God's righteousness.
-And through a merciful heart.
*But the more we look into the Sermon on the Mount, the more we see a bar raised so high that we could never reach it (on our own that is). That's because all of these things God is looking for in us are the things He sees in Himself: Meekness, righteousness and mercy.
*In 2 Corinthians 10:1, Paul mentioned "the meekness and gentleness of Christ."
-Psalm 11:7 tells us that "the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness. . ."
-And Psalm 100:5 says: "The Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations."
*We can never reach these standards of perfection in our own strength.
*Jerry Shirley explained the way it has to work with the story of a little girl who was going home from church one Sunday. She was thinking hard as they drove, and finally she said: "Mommy, there's something about the preacher's message this morning that I don't understand."
*Mom asked: "Oh? What is it?" -- Her little girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. He said God is so big that He could hold the world in His hand. Is that true?"
*Mom answered: "Yes, that's true, honey." -- "But Mommy, he also said that God comes to live inside of us when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Is that true, too?"
*Again, Mom assured her little girl that what the pastor had said was true. Then with a puzzled look on her face her little girl then asked, "If God is bigger than us, and He lives in us, wouldn't He show through?"
*That's the key. And Jerry Shirley said: "That is what these Scriptures are about: God showing through. It has always been God's purpose that when He entered our lives, He would be allowed to so fill and control them that He would 'show through'. It has always been God's purpose that He would be visible in our attitudes and actions."
*These "blessed" or "happy" verses "are like a light bulb that only shines when plugged into God's power. Nobody can be like Jesus like Jesus can. And by the Holy Spirit, He has come to live IN us that so He might live THROUGH us." And when we yield our lives to Him, others can see Jesus shining through you and me.
*Jerry Shirley then asked some challenging questions: "How would life be different if Jesus came to take your place? What if He took your place in the home? What if He performed your work on the job? That is exactly what Jesus wants to do. And when He does, the end result will be overflowing joy in our lives. (8)
*Let's talk to Him about it as we go to God in prayer.
(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Steps to Joy" by Melvin Newland - Matthew 5:1-10
(2) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Christ-like: Meekness" by David Parks - 1 Peter 2:21
(3) "Barclay's Daily Bible Study Series (NT)" by William Barclay, Revised Edition - Copyright 1975 - First published by the Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - "The Letters to the Corinthians" - "Paul Begins to Answer His Critics" - 2 Corinthians10:1-6
(4) Matthew Henry's Commentary - Matthew 5:3-12
(5) "America Out of the Ashes," Honor Books, 2001, p. 43; One Nation, Little, Brown and Company, 2001, p. 70; Parade, 162, p.2 - From: "In Other Words" - September 11, 2006 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - 6130 Barrington - Beaumont, Texas 77706 - www.iows.net
(6) "Barclay's Daily Bible Study Series (NT)" by William Barclay, Revised Edition - Copyright 1975 - First published by the Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - "The Bliss of the Starving Spirit" - Matthew 5:6
(7) Sermons.com sermon "Getting Under Your Neighbor's Skin" by Dr. Bill Bouknight - Matthew 5:1-12
(8) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "The Gospel of Jesus -- When God Shows Through" by Jerry Shirley - Matthew 5:1-5