Sunday Sermon: Paving the Way

Jesus is called "the way" in John 14.6. This 'way' is seen when we take the life we have been given and we travel along it as God intended. ??Jesus lays out 'how' we are to accomplish this way through his teaching here in Matthew 5. ??This portion of scripture is the beginning of what it means to live as Christ lived. ??Jesus has 'paved the way' for us in his life and his example. ??And we are invited now, to come and to live this way as we hear it here in our text. ??Listen closely as we examine this life in each of its blessings…

v.3 ??? To be poor in spirit is to understand that what you have belongs to God. ??When we can abandon our ownership, our will to control and to have, is when we can say 'yes' to God first, and then allow all others things to be under His authority. ??We must be careful how we approach our life, whether it be material things or even the gifts and talents we possess. ??Whether it is a car or a relationship, we must recognize God's authority first and foremost.

v.4 ??? To mourn in the spiritual sense, is to understand that we are to be truly sorry for our sins. ??If we attempt to continue throughout our life without ever truly grieving our sinfulness, we will never be thankful for the good gift of life that comes through Christ Jesus. ??We have been given the Spirit of God, to live and work and move in us. ??Living successfully with the Holy Spirit means to live with the understanding that we are indeed poor in spirit. ??Therefore, mourn and grieve when it is appropriate over your sinfulness, and let the Holy Spirit be indeed the One who comforts you, for he is 'the Comforter'.

v.5 ??? To be meek means nothing less than to understand what it means to submit. ??If we can submit to God's will before our own, we can then be led by the Spirit into God's holy way of life, the life of Jesus. ??Take time to examine what it means to truly put others needs and desires before your own. ??If we can do that, then we can be led by Christ, the Good Shepherd.

v.6 ??? To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to seek the face of God and to find Him in all His glory. ??Holiness is living out the way of Jesus. ??Jeremiah 29.12 and following says that we will find God if we seek Him with our whole heart. ??If our thirst and diet is for God's way, then we shall truly be filled, as it says for they will be filled. ??God is looking for people who will abandon dead-end lifestyles and turn back to His perfect way. ??2 Chronicles 7.14 reminds us, saying??

…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ??

Seek God and be filled???seek God and be healed.??

v.7 ??? To be merciful is to be full of compassion. ??If we are indeed God's people, then we are a people of great mercy. ??When we have been wronged, we forgive. ??Vengeance, should it be taken, is God's, not ours. ??We are a people who have been forgiven time and time again, therefore it should be a part of our character, our nature, our being to be a people who have mercy. ??This comes, though, only when we are relying on the Spirit of God. ??Know this today, people: that God desires to do GREAT things in you. ??But you must be on the road, traveling along the way of Jesus, growing into His powerful representatives in the world.??

v.8 ??? To be pure in heart means to have one focus; for you to have one direction, one love, and to not be distracted from that all-important goal. ??The pure of heart see God because they are the ones who look neither to the right nor the left, but stare straight on into that one glorious hope that is Christ Jesus and His love for us. St. Theodoros said??

It is clear therefore that he who loves God also desires always to be with him and to converse with him.??

God as our one focus in all things means we are pure in our commitment. ??

v.9 ??? To be a peacemaker is to bring a reconciling love to the world that it neither has seen or has known. ??God has reconciled a sinful world back to Himself through the power of Jesus' gift on the cross. ??God's children are asked to testify to that reconciliation, not just by telling other people about Christ's gift but also by our actions and our reconciling example in the world, too. ??We are the recipients of peace, therefore we are to spread peace in our life with others.

v.10???12 ??? And lastly, to be persecuted for righteousness sake, for being called by the name 'Christian', means to suffer for being aligned with God in His mission to love and save the world. ??Only God is righteous, therefore when we are persecuted for having spread that righteousness and for being called by His name, we become heirs to God's kingdom, inheritors of His glory. ??Suffering for God is a tough but rewarding privilege. ??Be aligned with God, stand for His purposes, and be blessed by the pursuit of God's mission to heal the world.

This way-of-living that we have just examined is crucial to YOU being a true Christian. ??In each of these blessings from God is a new way to live. ??God does not abandon you in your time of need, but rather seeks a way to bless you in the midst of your need. ??Living God's way means that you have all you need in the midst of your loss, your pain, your suffering, your doubt. ??The Christian message isn't so much about living a life of 'less' as much as it is about putting things into perspective. ??Does God care about what we have OR about who we are? Once we know who are, we are free to exercise our role, the role of a child of God.

Living a Matthew-5-life means going back to these things, daily, and pursuing them WITH the understanding that God will help you live them out rightly if you will be in prayer, be in communion with Him, with His people, in service to those around you and ultimately to the world. ??This is not an impossible life, but like anything else we must work at it through the power and grace that comes only from God. ??I was told in seminary, "God does not call the equipped???He equips those He calls.

But do not forget, that we also have a great cloud of witnesses, as Hebrews 12 tells us, to comfort us along our journey towards a Godly life. ??Many of us have people that we have looked to for guidance, direction, and inspiration. ??They have gone before us, paving the way for a Christ-like life. ??They are saints, people who are regarded with special memories, that have pointed us toward God.

Saints reveal to us the possibility of living as Christ truly teaches. The sermon on the mount, especially this famous section, is no easy task. But merging a perfect kingdom WITH a fallen world is NOT going to come easy or without growing pains. Taking off the old and putting on the new means that we are letting go of things that have become a part of us. If we are to live as Jesus teaches here, we must follow the example he has laid out and follow the footsteps of saints that have pointed the way to the kingdom.??

And so as we look at this Matthew 5 lifestyle, we can see that other people have been these things for us, and so we can now understand that we can be these things for other people. ??Because one day, you will be one to whom others look to. ??The question from me to you today is "Will you live a life that paves the way to the kingdom for others?" ??May God grant each of us the joy of giving thanks for their lives and a commitment to following after their example.

Rev. Whit R. Martin??
Pastor, New Liberty United Methodist Church

Devotional Blog – http://devoblog.posterous.com

Sent from Whit's iPhone

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