Jesus Wants to Give Us Heavenly Happiness (Part 3)
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - March 6, 2013
*Tonight we will take another look at the happiness the Lord wants all of us to have, remembering that the word "blessed" here in the Sermon on the Mount means "happy." God wants us to be happy. But He wants to give us true happiness, His heavenly happiness.
*We're not talking about the kind of happiness that evaporates as soon as someone cuts us off in traffic. It's not the kind of happiness that disappears when you stub your toe.
*God wants to give us the kind of happiness that can well up inside of us on the worst day of our lives. God wants to give us true happiness! And Jesus teaches us how to have it.
1. First tonight, the Lord teaches us that true happiness comes from having a pure heart.
*As Jesus said in vs. 8, "Blessed (or happy) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." But what does it mean to have a pure heart?
*Alan Balatbat tells us that in Scripture our heart refers to our mind, will and emotions. Our heart determines our behavior, so Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to: "Keep (or guard) your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life."
*We need a pure heart, and Alan pointed out that "the Greek word translated 'pure' is 'katharos.' If that sounds like the word 'catharsis,' it should, because that's where we get our word 'catharsis.' It simply means 'to make pure by cleansing.' And it is used in counseling to refer to a cleansing of the mind or emotions." So a pure heart is a heart that has been cleansed. (1)
*But a "pure" heart also means an undivided heart. William Barclay explained that the word "'pure' was often used for the corn which had been sifted and cleansed of all chaff." When Jesus spoke about "the pure in heart," He was talking about a clean heart with undivided devotion to Him. (2)
*How are we going to get a heart like that? -- We will never get it on our own. Only Jesus Christ can give us a heart like that. So Church, in Revelation 1:5, Jesus Christ is "the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth" who "loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood."
*Jesus Christ died on the cross to take all of the punishment for all of our sins. And when we trust in Him, we are forgiven, pardoned, cleansed and made new. As the Apostle John said in 1 John 1:7, "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."
*Jesus gives us a brand-new, pure heart when we receive Him as Lord and Savior, and wonderful things begin to happen. We start out as little baby Christians, so there is a lot of growing-up to do. But Jesus says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Alan Balatbat points out that: "The purer our hearts become, the more we will see of God in this life." (1)
*Can you see Jesus? -- I'm not talking about seeing with your physical eyes, but with the spiritual eyes of faith. Hebrews 2:9 says this to believers: "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone."
*Can you see Jesus? During the Christmas season of 1879, a newspaper reporter in Boston saw three little girls standing in front of a store-window full of toys. One of the girls was blind. Coming closer, reporter heard the other girls trying to describe the toys to their blind friend. He had never thought about how hard it would be to explain what something looks like to someone who has never been able to see, so he wrote a story about it for the local paper.
*Two weeks later this same reporter went to a service led by the great preacher, D.L. Moody. The reporter went hoping to hear something wrong in the sermon, so he could report it in the newspaper. But he was shocked to hear Mr. Moody use his own story of the three girls to illustrate a spiritual truth.
*Moody said: "Just as the blind girl could not visualize the toys, so an unsaved person cannot see Christ in all His Glory. But God opens the eyes of anyone who acknowledges his sin and accepts the Savior in humble faith." (3)
*God used Moody's words to touch that reporter's heart, and he joyfully turned his life over to Jesus. Then he could really see. And I love that story, because we can clearly see the Hand of God at work there.
*The Hand of the Lord put the reporter in front of the store at just the right time to see the girls. The Hand of God allowed him to write the story, led the editor to put it in the paper, and made sure that Mr. Moody read it. The Hand of the Lord let that skeptical reporter hear Moody's sermon on the very night the preacher had been inspired to use the story as an illustration. In these ways and countless more, we can see the Hand of God at work in our world, if we have the eyes of faith.
*Jesus said, "Blessed (or happy) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." He teaches us that true happiness comes from having a pure heart.
2. But true happiness also comes from being a peacemaker for the Lord.
*As Jesus said in vs. 9: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
*Please know that this verse is not a condemnation of armies or war. There are evil, corrupt governments all over the world, but God established government to protect the innocent. The Apostle Paul explained this truth to us in Romans 13:1-4. There Paul said:
1. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
2. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
3. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
4. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
*God surely does not condemn being a law enforcement officer or a soldier. In fact, several times the Bible asks Christians to be good soldiers for the Lord. For example, in 2 Timothy 2:3, Paul said: "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." And in Revelation 19:14, we see "the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean," following Jesus Christ into battle "on white horses."
*Jesus is not preaching against armies in Matthew 5. So what does the Lord mean when He says: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."? What kind of people are these peacemakers? Three key words help us understand: abundance, appeasement and action.
 First abundance: Peacemakers are people who bring an abundance of good into our world.
*William Barclay helped us understand this truth when he explained that the Hebrew idea of peace never meant "only the absence of trouble. In Hebrew peace always means everything that makes for a man's highest good. In the Bible, "peace" not only means freedom from all trouble; it means the enjoyment of all good." And peacemakers are the people who help bring this abundance of good. (4)
 The next key word is appeasement. But we must understand that the Lord's peacemakers are not appeasers.
*Barclay said: "The peace which the Bible calls 'blessed' does not come from the evasion of issues. It comes from facing them, dealing with them, and conquering them. What this beatitude demands is not passively accepting things because we are afraid to do anything about them. No, -- peacemaking here calls for actively facing things, and making peace, even when the way to peace is through struggle." (4)
*God's peacemakers are not into appeasement.
 That's why the third key word for peacemakers is action.
*Peacemakers are action-takers. Peacemakers are people who take action to follow the Lord. And they follow the Lord, because Jesus is the greatest peacemaker of all!
*We know this is true, because Jesus can give us peace with God! As Paul tells Christians in Romans 5:1: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
*Christians: Jesus can also give us peace with one another! That's why Ephesians 2:13&14 says:
13. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ.
14. For He Himself is our PEACE, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us,"
*Jesus can give us peace with God and peace with one another. On top of that, Jesus can give us peace in our own hearts. That's why Philippians 4:6&7 urges us to:
6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7. and the PEACE of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
*Jesus Christ is the greatest peacemaker of all! And the peacemakers in vs. 9 are a reflection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Franklin Graham told the story of a peacemaker like that. His name is Sami Dagher. Sami was a Maitre D' at a world famous hotel in Beirut before Lebanon's terrible civil war.
*Just before the war started, Sami left the hotel to start a small church in one of the poorest areas of the city. Sami told the hotel manager, "God has called me to preach. I'm leaving the hotel." The manager angrily replied: "Leaving? -- You're a fool! You're crazy! A man in your position making good money, and you quit?"
*"I leave for something more important than money," Sami said. "I'm going to preach the name of Jesus Christ."
*"You're going to give up this good position to preach for some god? You must be crazy. I'll tell you the right thing to do. You stay here and make money. Sami. I need you." -- "No, I can't stay any longer," Sami replied. "I've prayed and this is what I must do."
*Then the hotel manager began to shout and exclaimed: "I curse you! One day, Sami Dagher, you will come to my door, and you will beg for a crust of bread. And I won't give it to you. I will let you starve! Do you hear my words? Not a crust!"
*Later, during some of the heaviest fighting, Sami heard a knock at his door. And when he opened the door, the hotel manager stood before him. "I couldn't sleep," the man said. "I wanted to see how you are doing and talk."
*Sami made coffee and they talked about the old days. Sami sensed the man had come for another reason, but the man wouldn't say. Finally Sami said, "My friend, it is late. Why have you come to me?"
*"Oh, nothing, Sami. I just wanted to talk of old times." -- But as he was about to walk out the door, he turned to Sami and said, "I have no food. I have not eaten for two days. Do you have anything you could spare?" Sami happily helped the same man who had cursed him. And why? -- Because Sami was following the footsteps of Jesus Christ. (5)
*Jesus said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." He teaches us that true happiness comes from being a peacemaker for the Lord.
3. But true happiness can even come from being persecuted.
*As Jesus said in vs. 10-12:
10. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
*Notice that in vs. 11, Jesus did not say "IF they revile and persecute you." He said "WHEN they revile and persecute you."
*The good news is that by the grace of God, we live in the freest country in the world. Thank God for our freedom! On top of that, thank God that we live in the Bible Belt! But even here, in the Bible Belt of the USA, there will be times when we are hated and rejected for the Lord Jesus Christ.
*Bill Prater reminds us that persecution comes in many forms and can range from mild to severe. (6)
*About this time ten years ago, we were getting ready for Easter up in West Monroe, and we printed some flyers to invite people. Chris & Trish were one of the young couples in the church, and they were faithful to invite people to come.
*So one morning, Trish put our Easter flyer up where she worked. But when she came back later it was gone. Trish found that flyer in the trash, and she put it back up. (I like that spirit!)
*Well, somebody took it down again, and this time they tore it to pieces. Trish found out who it was, and when she asked him about it, he began to cuss her up one side and down the other.
*Thank the Lord, her boss came to the rescue. But even here in the "Bible Belt," we are hated and rejected for Jesus' sake. What should we do about it? In vs. 12, Jesus tells us to: "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
*That phrase "be exceedingly glad" literally means "to jump for joy." Jesus is literally telling us to rejoice and jump for joy when we are persecuted for His sake! Now that seems hard to do at first, because rejection hurts. But Jesus knows this, and He gives us two points of focus to help us jump for joy.
 First: Notice the excellent group we are in.
*Again in vs. 12, Jesus said: "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the PROPHETS who were before you." Jesus is saying here that when you suffer for Him, that puts you in the same group as the prophets: Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. -- Wow!
*When you suffer for Jesus' sake, focus on the excellent group you are in. That will help you jump for joy!
 But also focus on our eternal gain.
*The Lord said, "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven." God wants us to live with eternity on our minds. The life we live in this world is not a drop in the bucket compared to the ocean of eternity that stretches out before us! And that eternity will overflow with extra rewards for those who suffer for Jesus. So when you suffer for Jesus' sake, focus on your eternal gain. It will help you jump for joy!
*Jesus teaches us that we can have heavenly happiness.
-It comes from having a pure heart.
-It comes from being a peacemaker for the Lord.
-And it can even come from being persecuted.
*As Jesus said in the Scripture tonight:
8. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
*Let's focus on finding real happiness as we go to God in prayer. And know this: You will never find it until you trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Receiving Jesus is the most vital step to real joy.
*Think about that as we go to God in prayer.
(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Made in Our Image" by Alan Balatbat - Matthew 5:8
(2) "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 Clean Heart" - Matthew 5:8
(3) "Our Daily Bread" - "Seeing At Christmas" by Herbert Vander Lugt - Dec. 21, 2006 - odb.org20061221seeing-at-christmas/
(4) Adapted from "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 Bringing Men Together" - Matthew 5:9
(5) Source: SermonCentral sermon "Jesus the Sage" by Steven Grant - Matthew 5:1-12
(6) SermonCentral sermon "Sermon on the Mount - Lesson 9" by Bill Prater - Matthew 5:10-12