In the Same Way…
† In Jesus’ Name †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ cause you to be incredibly happy—no matter what you are enduring for His sake.
The Pursuit of Happiness!
How many of you like or liked surprise tests in school?
I guess I should have asked how many of you remember school before I asked that!
Well you have a pop quiz this morning.
You need to tell me which of the documents the quote that follows comes from.
- The Constitution of the United States
- The Bill of Rights
- The Magna Carta
So here is the quote:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
So which is it?
What—weren’t all your pop quizzes filled with trick questions? 😊
So do you agree with the Declaration of Independence? Do you think that we have the right to pursue happiness?
Be careful—this might be a trick question as well!
So if you want to be happy, scripture this morning had a surefire way to be happy.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
There you go, to be happy just follow Jesus! Then people will persecute you and say all sorts of evil things about you!
But you will be happy!
- The Standard
SO the next question—what does it look like to follow Jesus in such a way that people will persecute us and say nasty things about us?
Seriously, most of us know how to get persecuted. There is always that one person who we can irritate, even without planning it. We might even enjoy it! But then they try to get us back!
But to get persecuted for Jesus, because we are like Him, is a different story.
The Beatitudes show how Jesus lived, how we can live, when we are focused on Him. It all starts with our need for God! It all starts there, when we realize that we are poor in spirit. You usually don’t think of Jesus as poor in spirit, but hear how Paul describes Jesus.
7 But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being ( Philippians 2:7 (NJB)
That emptiness is what being poor in spirit is about. Whether we are wounded by someone else’s sin, or broken by our own, or simply choose to live humbly, dependent on God the Father for everything.
That is what makes believers different, what has made those people we look up to spiritually, so amazing. They could depend on God during challenges, during good times, too. We have seen that in so many of those who have gone before us here. They knew God was with them. Whether it was Pastor and Mrs. Meier, or Clyde or Armando, or Barbara, Tony and Wanda or Bonnie, or this year Kurt, Joan, Ben, Valter, Diana and Chuck over the last year.
The rest of the Beatitudes make sense after you realize you are completely reliant on God.
Because you realize your need for God, if you are mourning, He comforts you.
Because you realize your need for God, if you are humble (and rely on Him), then He gives you everything.
Because you realize your need for God, if you want real justice, God provides that on judgement day.
Because you realize your need for God, you see the mercy that you wanted others to know, shown to you.
Because you realize your need for God, the Holy Spirit changes your heart of stone for a heart of flesh.
Because you realize your need for God, because you are His children you work for peace, where peace seems impossible,
Because you realize your need for God, you do what is just and righteous in God’s eyes, even if there is a cost to you. And there are times where the cost will be high, because others don’t like being just, when you decide to help others rather them. Or when you show mercy to those who don’t deserve it.
(of course—why would you need to show mercy to someone who doesn’t need it.)
Because you realize your need for God, and He meets that need, you realize you found happiness!
When peace, justice and mercy are seen as a major thing in your life, no matter the cost, you are showing the work of the Holy Spirit as He guides you into becoming more and more visibly like Jesus.
But that will irritate people who don’t understand God.
That is where the persecution comes from!
Not from being considered holier than thou, or from being judgmental. When we deal with people in bondage to sin, our demeanor should be like Jesus’ demeanor
That is why all these characteristics show God has blessed us, that He is with us, that the Holy Spirit is active in our lives. It shows us we aren’t alone.
God is with us.
As He has been with His people since Adam and Even and Cain sinned.
Because God is with us, in the same way, He was with the prophets and martyrs and all our examples who have depended on God.
This is where happiness comes from, God who loves us, who has promised us a great reward in heaven, who walks with us know, blessing us in our need. AMEN!
Faith in Action….is Blessed!
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ open your mind to see how God has, and is, and will bless you! AMEN!
The Shopping List
If you were going to start a new project, part of the process is making sure you have the material you need to complete the project.
Whether it is making a fancy dinner, or building a shed, or, in our case, building the church.
You need to make sure you have everything you need because once you are started, stopping to go get a missing peace slows down the process, and could even require you to start all over.
The reading from the gospel of Matthew this morning provides such a shopping list.
Matthew lays out the kind of people we need to build the Church.
Not just the service in Mandarin, or the service in English, and not even Concordia.
But the Church throughout the world.
These blessed people are the components to the Church, and a church that contains such people very simply grows.
Are we so described?
So if we are going to look at Concordia, as a part of the church, let’s see how we do.
In the English translation we use, the first item is, “those who are poor and realize their need for God.” Do we have such people?
Do we have people that continually see their need for God, and desire to dwell in His presence?
What about people who mourn and grieve.
Not just because we have lost someone, but also because of the brokenness in the world, and in our lives?
Are we all humble? Are we all meek and willing to deal with people in a caring manner, not being competitive or angry?
Do we all hunger and thirst for justice? Real justice, not just justice that favors us?
Do we all show mercy?
And how many of us can say our hearts are pure, that we never ever sin, or even think sinful thoughts? Or who work for peace in every situation?
We could go on and talked about the rest of the checklist, but it looks like we are already falling short of who we need to see the God designed built.
There might be a few people here who meet one of the checkboxes, but none of us meet all of them.
I also am pretty sure that there are some boxes, especially the mercy and pure in heart that has no boxes checked,
We are blessed!
But what if we are looking at the wrong thing to check off? What if, instead of what we are described as, we find the box to check off is the “being blessed”?
As an example, we can find people who are blessed because God has shown them comfort.
We can find people who are blessed because they have been shown mercy,
We can find people who have become pure, because their blessing is having seen, having encountered God.
Now the passage takes on a whole different perspective.
It focuses on the work of God.
It focuses on the blessing.
As we and every person in the church should focus upon.
God’s work, God’s blessing, poured out on us!
Those who are poor and need His presence (all of us!) are blessed
Those who grieve and mourn… are blessed
Those who have nothing, but will inherit everything… are blessed
Those who need and desire justice… are blessed
Those who need mercy… are blessed
We are blessed by God, we know His presence, His comfort, his justice.
The Greatest blessing
You see, that is what makes the Church grow,
It is what will make Concordia, both the multi-cultural ministry in English, the ministry in Mandarin thrive and the Tagalog ministry grow.
It isn’t because of how intelligent, charismatic and good-looking your ministers are.
(And that’s probably a good thing! )
The reason a church grows, or the Church grows, is when it realizes how God has blessed every single one of us.
When we realize we have received mercy, and we are satisfied by God’s justice.
When we realize we will inherit the whole earth, and the Kingdom of God. When we realize we have been comforted, when we realize we shall see God,
These are the blessings poured out on us, even as Jesus was loving us and dying for us on the cross.
Even as our sins were paid for, and cleansed from our souls.
Even as we are given the Holy Spirit and the promise of eternal life in the glory of God.
this is who we are, those who depend on God, and trust in Him, for we know..
We are blessed!