There are some characteristics which heap upon the man or woman possessing them, all the scorn and derision of a society which maintains that weakness is a thing most to be pitied! Yet our Lord dared to run counter to it all when He declared a blessing upon the head of the one who would pursue the way of meekness!! Perhaps in no other area is the demonstration of the power of Christianity tried and tested before men so as to prove the genuineness of its profession than in the area of meekness. Win the battleground here and we’re on our way to securing victory!!
No-one ever set forth in more splendorous array, this glorious virtue than the man Christ Jesus!! In this sermon we move from the gates of Jerusalem to the garden; then to the house of Caiaphas before moving to the courts of Pilate. Our final destination…Calvary!! At every step our Lord evidenced meekness in the face of His accusers and having led the way now commands us to walk in the same! In this life it has been given us to tread the pathway of meekness, but in the age to come, we shall rule and reign with Christ if we faint not. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”.
When one thinks of the Seven Churches of Revelation, the Church perhaps that comes more readily to mind than any other is the Church in Laodicea. History records that where Laodicea was situated geographically, it lay along a great river and in the centre of where three great roads converged. This commercial advantage made Laodicea a city of tremendous wealth and prosperity, so much so that in the early 1st century AD when a devastating earthquake hit, when offer was made by the Roman Emperor to help build back the wasted city, the Laodiceans refused, saying that they preferred to rebuild their ruined city by their own means. It was the affluent condition of the Church in that locale which proved to be its great downfall, as it measured its spiritual prosperity by its physical prosperity. Thinking themselves, rich, increased with goods and need of nothing; our Lord said on the contrary, they were poor, wretched, blind and miserable!
This letter is a warning to us all, not least those of us who live in the West. Moderate, indifferent, lukewarm Christianity will never do! God is calling His people back to Himself, to a fervent, all-out, fanatical, single-minded and single-hearted walk. May God grant us grace to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church!
Perhaps of all of the beatitudes, this second one, is at first glance, one that fallen man could perhaps go along with; that is until he understands the reason for the mourning! “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted”. Who doesn’t like to be comforted when heavy–laden and grieved of heart? When some great ill afflicts the human soul? The loss of a precious family member, news of some terrible illness; a miscarriage of justice, betrayal by one you thought was a friend? It is on account of these things and others besides, that a man will mourn and will find to himself relief from the comfort of a friend. I dare say, that some would even seek for relief in God. However, it is my firm conviction that the mourning to which Jesus has so clearly in mind, is that mourning on account of sin!
Men will mourn for many things, but one thing they seldom will ever mourn is their sins!! O glad day, when upon learning the condition of our blackened hearts by the tender working of the Holy Spirit, we began to mourn our sins!! However, it is not only upon becoming a believer that we mourn our sins; as we journey through this life ever sensing our pilgrim status in this world, is it not the case that we continue to mourn our sinful flesh, looking for that final day in which we shall be forever comforted by our Lord? Do not lose heart in the battle Saints against sin; we shall reap soon if we faint not.
This sermon is the first in a series of eight sermons preaching through the beatitudes. You will notice that the word ‘beatitude’ has a single ‘t’ rather than a double as in ‘beattitude’. This is because, in Latin, ‘beatitudo’ means “a state of blessedness”. In fact, the word beatitude means “supreme blessedness” which is why each of the eight beatitudes begins with the word ‘Blessed’. Here before us then, stand a number of statements spoken by our Lord, that offer to men supreme happiness, well-being, and prosperity if they are found in such condition!
In the first of this eight-part series, we will examine the nature of what it means to be poor in spirit and the great blessings that attend the soul that truly senses moment by moment, their absolute need for the Saviour! “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
I find it no coincidence that the only two Churches of which our Lord had nothing indicting to say, both found themselves in the midst of the purging fires of persecution! Twenty-eight miles south-east of Sardis lay the city of Philadelphia. Its natural geography served well to illustrate the robustness of the Church residing in this city as one of bearing up under trial. Philadelphia lay on the edge of a great plain which was nick-named the “Burnt Land” on account of the frequent volcanic activity in the area. Yet, what one would deem to be a curse, another would deem a blessing, since because of this activity, Philadelphia was one of the most fertile areas in the world bringing to it great prosperity, not least through its world-famous wines, produced from the grapes which grew on this plain. Again, this serves as an analogy to illustrate the irony of persecution, that what one would deem surely to result in the obliteration of Christianity via the volcanic fires of persecution, proves only to be conducive to the fertile ground upon which the Church flourishes, exporting its fruits the world over!!!
In this teaching, we explore the goodness and sovereignty of God, in light of persecution. Here was a Church in Philadelphia having little strength, who had kept Jesus’ word and had not denied His name!! Our Lord’s exhortation to this faithful Church was to hold fast what they had until His coming.
1 Samuel 25:1-35
There are many things in this life which seem to come easier to us than others. Eating (for example) comes more readily to heart than cooking; spending than saving; resting than working. I well could add to this list another entry; obstinacy comes more readily to heart and easier to our sinful flesh that apologising to a Brother or Sister that we have wronged through our bad attitude! How naturally does it come to first justify ourselves along the lines of, “they deserved it!!”; how much the more enticing is it to allow offense and so-called “justified” anger to pump through our veins than we bow our stubborn hearts and turn to our Brother and say, “I’m sorry...I was wrong!”
As we enter a new year; this sermon is an exhortation for us where possible, to make things right with our fellow brother or sister. May we be the first to the mark to say; I’m sorry…I was wrong!