Blessed are the Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

INTRODUCTION

The people referred to in the Beatitudes are blessed because they belong to the kingdom and they possess the traits that identify them as belonging to the kingdom.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “PURE IN HEART”?

A) “Clean on the inside”, not like white-washed tombs which are clean only on the outside.
B) “Sincere” or unadulterated like unmixed wine.
C) “Single-minded” like a faithful husband who has eyes only for his wife.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SEE GOD?

They are blessed because they will see God. In other words, they are those who will be saved because by the purity of their hearts they prove that they really have put their faith in Christ (1 John 3:1-3). Without holiness, no one will see God. The holy God is too pure for sinful hearts to see. To the pure all things are pure; to the impure, all things are impure.

HOW CAN WE BECOME PURE?

The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). But we can become pure –

(a) By God’s grace. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10) See also Ezekiel 36:25-27.

(b) By confessing our sins: 1 John 1:9

(c) By keeping God’s Word: Psalm 119:9, 11

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The Preciousness of Christ

TEXT: Philippians 3:1-11

INTRODUCTION (verses 1 to 3)

It is a good thing (safe) to review the basics of the Christian life, especially the doctrine of salvation. And it becomes more urgent to do this in the face of false teachers who distort the Bible’s teaching on salvation by telling us that it is by means of our personal spiritual achievements (confidence in the flesh) that we can be saved. These people focus so much on external righteousness that they miss the fact that if the heart remains unchanged, their efforts amount to nothing. On the other hand, those who put their faith in Christ instead of relying on themselves can rejoice because they have received true righteousness and have experienced as well the transforming work of the Spirit in their hearts. That is why to them Christ is precious and worth every sacrifice. How can we experience Christ’s preciousness in our lives? Continue reading “The Preciousness of Christ”

Blessed are the Merciful

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MERCY AND GRACE?

The previous beatitudes have to do with our attitude or relationship towards God. The beatitudes that follow have to do with our actions towards others resulting from our right attitudes towards God.

Mercy is compassion towards others who are in a miserable state. Grace, on the other hand, is generosity to the undeserving. Grace views the unworthiness of the recipient. Mercy views the misery of the recipient. Grace has to do with cleansing the guilt of the person. Mercy has to do with alleviating the miserable condition of the person. Continue reading “Blessed are the Merciful”

Good Ministers

“But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will care truly for your state. For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a child serveth a father, so he served with me in furtherance of the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send forthwith, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me: but I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly. But I counted it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need; since he longed after you all, and was sore troubled, because ye had heard that he was sick: for indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow. I have sent him therefore the more diligently, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy; and hold such in honor: because for the work of Christ he came nigh unto death, hazarding his life to supply that which was lacking in your service toward me.”

(Philippians 2:19-30)

INTRODUCTION:

Why do we need to study about good ministers even if we are only laypersons in our church?

Because all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable (2 Tim. 3:16).

Because if it is the duty of Christian teachers to teach the whole counsel of God (Acts. 20:27), it is the corresponding duty of church members to learn the whole counsel of God.

Because we, in a sense, are all ministers; for example, like parents towards their children (Deut. 11:18-19).

Because sometimes we need to remind our ministers of their duty.

Because we need to know what we should be looking for in a minister if we are searching for one.

Because, who knows, we ourselves might be called to become ministers someday (1 Tim. 3:1).

  1. THE QUALITIES OF A GOOD MINISTER

A) He cares for people (Acts 20:28; John 21:15-17; 1 Thess. 2:7, 8).

B) He prioritizes the interests of Christ (Matt. 6:33; Matt. 6:24; 1 Tim. 2:4; Acts. 6:4).

C) He is of proven worth (1 Tim. 3:6, 10).

D) He risks his life for the work of Christ (Luke 9:23).

  1. OUR OBLIGATIONS TO GOOD MINISTERS

A) Appreciate them (Heb. 13:17).
B) Honor them (1 Tim. 5:17).

Do we appreciate our ministers? Do we honor them?

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Shining as Lights

TEXT: Philippians 2:12-18

“… that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (verse 15)

INTRODUCTION

Jesus Christ is the original light. But if his light is in us because we are saved by grace through faith in him, then that light should shine in and through us so that people may be led out of darkness and to Christ. How?

  1. WE WORK OUT (NOT FOR) OUR SALVATION (Eph. 2:10; Matt. 5:16; Jas. 2:18).
  2. WE DEPEND ON GOD (John 15:4-5).
  3. WE DON’T GRUMBLE; INSTEAD WE GIVE THANKS (Jude 1:16; 1 Thess. 5:18).
  4. WE CLING TO GOD’S WORD (Ps. 119:105).

Don’t let go of God’s Word. Let its reality be seen in your life by your obedience to it because it’s the light which drives away the world’s darkness. It’s the food that souls need. It’s the standard by which we distinguish right from wrong.

  1. WE REJOICE WITH AND IN ONE ANOTHER (1 Thess. 2:19-20).

APPLICATION:

  1. In what specific way can I let my light shine?

PRAYER

Lord, help me to shine as a light in this world. Help me to contribute my share in driving out this world’s darkness. Amen.

(Photo by Marcus Wallis on Unsplash)

Hunger and Thirst

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6)

INTRODUCTION:

Our basic desires demand satisfaction. If we hunger and thirst and do not receive satisfaction, we will die. If we don’t desire what is good for us – if we don’t eat and drink – or if we desire the wrong things – like junk food instead of real nutrition – we will still die. This applies to the spiritual realm, as well. “Man shall not live by bread alone.” (Matt. 4:4)

Continue reading “Hunger and Thirst”

Faith in Times of Pandemic

Habakkuk 3:16-19 ESV

[16] I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. [17] Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, [18] yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. [19] GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

INTRODUCTION

The theme here is: From Fear to Faith especially in times of great crisis. Habakkuk was complaining about God’s indifference to the wickedness of God’s covenant people (1:2-4) only to be shocked that God was not indifferent at all, but was in fact preparing the Chaldeans to punish his people (1:12) This led him to complain again. He questions God’s justice in using instruments of judgment more wicked than the people God intends to punish (1:13). God bluntly tells Habakkuk to trust him (2:4) and he reveals that after he has used the Chaldeans or Babylonians to punish his people, he will in turn punish them too (2:16). Although he trembles with fear over the coming judgment, Habakkuk rejoices in God, trusting that God will not only deal justly but will work out salvation in the end.

I. RECOGNIZE GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY (1:12)

God is not the author of sin (James 1:13) but he is its governor. Nothing can happen without his permission.

Isaiah 45:7 ESV

[7] I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Believe it or not, this is actually an encouraging truth and much to be preferred over the idea that calamities are random events that God neither foresees nor controls. If God is in control, even if we don’t understand why he allows such things to happen, we trust that his wisdom and love will never allow these things to happen in the first place unless some great good were to come out of all this.

Thus, even this pandemic was at least allowed by him for wise and holy reasons.

Habakkuk 3:5 ESV

[5] Before him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heels.

II. REVERE GOD’S HOLINESS

Habakkuk not only complained about what he thought was God’s indifference, he also questioned God’s justice or holiness. When bad things happen, our tendency is to ask Why, O Lord (1:3, 13)? We question God’s justice. God explained to Habakkuk the righteousness of his ways: he would punish his people, he would also punish the Babylonians. But at the outset, he simply told Habakkuk to trust him (2:4). Often the proper response to the incomprehensible tragedies of life is simply to be still and know that God is God.

Habakkuk 2:20 ESV

[20] But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

God knows what he is doing even if we don’t.

III. REJOICE IN GOD’S SALVATION

So even though Habakkuk didn’t understand how God could allow such a calamity to befall his people he simply put his trust in God. Thus, he was able to rejoice even in the midst of calamity (e.g., famine) because he knew God would produce salvation out of all this (Rom. 8:28).

Habakkuk 3:12-13 ESV

[12] You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger. [13] You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah

I believe one reason why God allowed this pandemic is so that people all over the world will remember him and find salvation.

Habakkuk 2:14 ESV

[14] For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

During this time of pandemic, so many online bible studies via Zoom have sprouted all over the world. So many prayers and Bible verses are posted on FB as never before.

CONCLUSION

It is interesting that Paul makes use of Hab. 2:4 in relation to God’s righteousness in justifying sinners. God is just in justifying sinners who have put their faith in Jesus because Jesus satisfied God’s justice when he died for their sins. The great calamity which was the death of the Savior became the cause of great joy because of the salvation which his death produced, a salvation received by faith and not by works. That is why in times of pandemic let us overcome fear with faith. God is in control, he knows what he is doing. He is sovereign and holy. And he will produce salvation in the end. In wrath, he is actually remembering mercy. Trust him and rejoice!

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Blessed are the Meek

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

INTRODUCTION.

We’re studying the characteristics of those who belong to the King and to his kingdom.

At the outset, meekness is the by-product of self-emptying (poverty of spirit) and self-humiliation (mourning or sorrow over one’s sinfulness). When you realize that you are not only nothing without God, but are also a sinner deserving of eternal punishment, the result will be a broken and contrite heart which can no longer afford to boast before God or to be arrogant towards others. You therefore don’t mind being last instead of being first; being the servant of all instead of being the ruler of all. In other words, the gospel makes you meek.

The values of the Kingdom are the opposite of the world’s. The world says, “Be aggressive, fulfill yourself, look out for number one, and you will be successful.” Christ says, “Be meek, deny yourself, be the servant of all, and you will inherit the earth. The last shall be the first.

1. WHAT MEEKNESS ISN’T

(A) It isn’t weakness. It doesn’t mean you’ll simply be a doormat to be trampled upon by others. Jesus Christ was meek and lowly in heart, but he drove the moneychangers out of his Father’s house.

(B) It isn’t softness. It doesn’t mean you’ll just keep quiet and won’t stand up to wrongdoers. Jesus was meek but he wasn’t spineless. He had the moral backbone to stand up for truth and rebuke wrongdoers.

2. WHAT MEEKNESS IS.

(A) It is strength under control.

The Greek word for meek is used for animals that have been domesticated, e.g., a horse that has been broken (Prov. 16:32; Prov. 19:11; Prov. 16:32). So a meek person is strong but he knows how to submit to God’s control.

(B) It is submission to God’s will (James 1:19-21).

“The meek are those who humble themselves before God, because they acknowledge their utter dependence upon Him. In consequence, they are gentle in their dealings with others.” (R.V.G. Tasker)

(C) It is gentleness to others (Prov. 15:1; Gal. 6:1-2).

(D) Meekness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23)

3. EXAMPLES OF MEEKNESS

(A) Moses (Numbers 12:3). When Aaron and Miriam confronted him, instead of being angry he allowed the Lord to vindicate him.

(B) Jesus (Matt. 11:29; 1 Peter 2:23; Luke 22:42).

4. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO INHERIT THE EARTH.

(A) It means satisfaction and contentment with what we have at present (Ps. 37:11) (Ps. 22:26 KJV). You only truly possess what you are satisfied with. Because their spirits are subdued before God, they are contented with what they have (Heb. 13:5). They know that God will provide for all their needs (Phil. 4:19). And because they belong to God who owns everything, everything belongs to them. Therefore, they trust him to give them their portion in due time (Ps. 145:15, 16; 1 Cor 3:21-22; 2 Cor. 6:10).

(B) It means reigning in the world to come (Rev. 22:3-5; Matt. 19:28)

PRAYER

Lord, instead of always asserting myself, help me to be meek and lowly and self-denying like you because only then will I possess the things that truly matter: love, joy, peace, contentment in you! Amen.

Blessed are those who mourn (2)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

Who else are those who mourn?

Those who suffer for Jesus’ sake (John 16:20, 22, 33). For now we weep because in this world we will have tribulation (Rom. 8:36; 1 Pet. 4:12)

And what is their comfort?

The promises of Christ (John 16:20, 22, 33; Heb. 13:5, 6).

The presence of the peace-giving Spirit (John 14:26, 27).

The participation of the brethren (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

The parousia (Second Coming) of Christ (Rev. 21:4).

Let us not be overwhelmed by sorrow because we not only have spiritual comforts now, we have eternal comfort ahead of us.

(1 Thess. 4:13-18)

Audio Link: https://youtu.be/n4yRjYMw7Uo

Blessed are those who mourn (part 1)

“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

INTRODUCTION

We continue to study the characteristics of those people who belong to the kingdom, one of which is their spiritual mourning, because they are a people whose hearts have been broken by a recognition of their sinfulness before God and have therefore become contrite (humble, repentant). It is comforting to know that God takes account of our tears (Psalm 56:8).

  1. WHO ARE THESE WHO MOURN?

They are those who sorrow over their sins and who suffer for Jesus’ sake. For now, we take up only the first one.

A) They realize how much they’ve grieved God by their sins (Psalm 51:4).

B) They feel the pain they’ve inflicted upon themselves (and others) as a result of their sins (Psalm 32:3-4; Jeremiah 2:19).

C) They also weep tears of conviction because of God’s love for them in Christ in spite of their sins. It was my sins that nailed Christ to the cross and I grieve at the sight of him on the cross, but at the same time I rejoice that he loves me so much so as to die for the forgiveness of my sins (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 5:8).

  1. HOW ARE THEY COMFORTED?

They are comforted by a sense of God’s grace and forgiveness (Psalm 30:5, 11; Psalm 32:1, 5; Luke 15:7, 10).

PRAYER: Lord, we are sorry for our many sins. Thank you for your forgiveness which you’ve given us in Christ Jesus. In him we have the comfort of complete pardon and eternal life. Amen.