Redefining Blessings: The Sermon that Changed our Church


More Like Jesus Pt 1: Redefining Blessings
May 6, 2007

2 Tim 4:1-5 - 1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Before we begin…a few thoughts from my heart:
•  This scripture is in my mind and heart.  In the interest of transparency, I want you to know "where I am" as a pastor and teacher right now.
•  Up to this point, my ministry has been focused on practical, topical teaching, ministering to the "felt needs" of those that come to CRCC.
•  However, I feel the Lord shifting us a bit…as if His desire is to move us away from searching the Word for a blessing to searching the Word for the Blessor. In other words, instead of coming to church to "fix my marriage" we should come to church to "fixate on the Master."
•  Honestly, the other method has left me (and many of you) thirsty.
•  Christ is calling us to maturity, to be fully formed, to loving Him for His sake, not ours.
•  Paul said, "I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ."  Then we went on to say, "Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind…" (Php 3:8,15)
•  I'm now convinced that in order for us to move into Harvest, each of us must deepen our relationship with Christ.  Our motives (and subsequently our motion) must become more pure.  We must resist our consumer impulses and embrace a more New Testament understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Harvest is a function of healthy seeds and soil.

Scriptures: Matthew Chapter 5:1-12
In His first extended sermon (known as the Sermon on the Mount), Jesus begins a process of developing us into being more like Him. As you will see, His emphasis is on heart transformation and holiness. You'll find that His definition of "blessings" may be different than yours as well. Blessings are not what you get but who you are. Ultimately, the greatest blessing is Him, and our learning to be like Him. We must return to the place where that is enough and is our ultimate definition of success.

1. Blessings flow your dependency upon Jesus. (v3)
•  To be "poor in spirit" is to realize that you are not self-sufficient…and never will be.
•  "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." (MSG)
•  One of the key goals of the Christian Life is to die to self. When we think of how many books, programs, and sermons are preached on how we can get this or that, or how we can find fulfillment (I've preached my share of them), we realize that we've missed a key truth. What we are looking for is not found in us. It is found in Him.

2.  Blessings flow from brokenness. (v4)
•  "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you." (MSG)
•  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart-- These, O God, You will not despise. (Ps 51:17)
•  We mourn due to loss and due to lust. When was the last time your own sin and that of our nation broke you?

3.  Blessings flow from contentment and self-control. (v5)
•  Far from weakness, meekness is "strength under control."
•  "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are--no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." (MSG)

4. Blessings flow from simple, right-living. (v6)
• "You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat. " (MSG)
•  Now be honest, do you really "hunger" to do what is right? If not, why not? What needs to change to get you to that place?

5.  Blessings flow from true, godly compassion. (v7)
•  Mercy is defined as "compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power."
•  "You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'careful,' you find yourselves cared for." (MSG)

6.  Blessings flow from a heart that loves Jesus. (v8)
•  He is the definition of purity, so biblical purity cannot exist apart from loving Christ.
•  "You're blessed when you get your inside world--your mind and heart--put right. Then you can see God in the outside world." (MSG)
•  Please get this: what you hunger for is available right now! Circumstances do not dictate success! Allow the Holy Spirit to shift your heart from consumer to Christ and everything around your will look different!

7.  Blessings flow from unity. (v9)
•  "You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family." (MSG)
•  Be a son or daughter of God! Work to bring people together under the banner of Christ!

8.  Blessings flow from how you handle hard times. (v10)
•  "You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom." (MSG)
•  I know we don't like this one, but it is still true!  Sometimes, pain is God's megaphone. God loves to turn our pain into purpose. Just as He was glorified by the death of NT saints, He is glorified by our conforming to His death each day by our stand for Truth.

The truth is our earthly blessings (stuff, good times, etc.) come and go. But biblically, our perspective should be eternal:

Matt 5:11-12 (MSG) "Not only that--count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (12) You can be glad when that happens--give a cheer, even!--for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble."

(Note: it's funny to see how much I used the Message Bible back then. Seems like ages ago! :)  This sermon took our church in the "Jesus is Enough" direction, caused an entirely different perspective to begin to grow, and cost us dearly as well.  Lost lots of people over this.  But that will be another blog post. :))