The Persecuted

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when people insult youpersecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Verse 11-12 in the Contemporary English Version

11 God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. 12 Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. People did these same things to the prophets who lived long ago.

Introduction–Three in One

I guess you could say there are three forms of persecution here:

[1] Being Insulted— defamed, railed at, chided, taunted, reviled. Being scorned, mocked are made fun of is very close. It is the exact kind of treatment the Roman soldiers gave Jesus when they dressed Him as a king and bowed before Him. They were mocking Him.

[2] Being Mistreated–the word translated persecute means to be hunted, to be pursued; to drive away or put one to flight.

[3] Being spoken evil of–Being slandered, falsely accused, lied about

Transition

Since we are finishing up with the Eight Beatitudes, let’s do a brief review before we unpack number Eight: Remember [1] These are not pious platitudes [2] These are not random statements. Jesus has them in a sequential order…

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, the humble. Humility is first base in God’s kingdom. It is the most important virtue. We can’t do anything effectively in the kingdom without humility.
  • Blessed are those who mourn over their sin and the sins of society. Humility first, repentance second. These two are the pillars that all the others stand on
  • Blessed are the meek–strength under control. We are to be teachable and ready to follow.
  • Blessed are those who have a spiritual appetite–Hungry for more Jesus.
  • Blessed are those who show mercy
  • Blessed are the pure in heart…no chance of seeing God until we become single minded…focused on Jesus
  • Blessed are the peace makers…our calling and most difficult task, the ministry of reconciliation [2 Corinthians 5]

Jesus knew that once we reached this plateau, [humble, repentant, meek, hungry for Jesus, merciful to others, focused on Jesus, and involved in reconciling men to God]we would be persecuted. Thus the final beatitude…Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Three Things To Notice

1. This Beatitude has a qualifier…persecuted for righteousness sake.

V. 10…Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.

We have to be persecuted, insulted, slandered for righteousness sake or Jesus sake. If we are being persecuted for doing something stupid, that does not qualify. I get insulted a lot. I was trying to be nice to someone the other night at a ball game and they insulted me right there in front of everyone. I am not easily embarrassed but it was a stinging comment and it almost hurt my feelings. To be honest with you: I am not sure that qualifies for what Jesus is speaking of here. He is not talking about being persecuted because we are opinionated or have a big mouth or because we are obnoxious. To qualify, it must be for a righteous cause or Jesus sake.

2. This Beatitude has a promise…Great reward in heaven

v.11…Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…v.12…Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…

There is a passage in Hebrews 11 that I want us to look at…

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak,Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e]they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

3. This Beatitude has a challenge…Rejoice and be glad!

V. 12…Rejoice and be glad…v.12…Rejoice and be glad…

I have prayed about this challenge all week as I prepared for this sermon. I have been put to the test more than once and each time I have failed miserably. I know I have told the story about the abortion clinic but I’m going to tell it again. A man stopped his car, rolled down his window and said to rather vulgar and profane things to the women who were praying on the sidewalk. So I started toward his car. When he saw me coming, he hit the accelerator and was off but like a fool, I chased him on foot and almost caught him at the next red light. I’m not a violent man and he was never in danger but he didn’t that to be the case. I walked back to the clinic feeling like a hero but when I got there, those little catholic ladies gave me a chewing. They quoted word for word–Matthew 5:12. They were rejoicing and I was angry. I had failed yet again.

I have seen this principle at work: one night on church visitation, a young woman named Nancy was up to share the gospel. Her team leader got her in the home and she was sharing with a man who they thought was alone. Right in the middle of her gospel presentation, an angry beast came out of the bedroom, the man’s wife, and she was shouting for them to get out and of course they got out.

When she shared this experience in report time, I thought {O my goodness, she will never go out again} but toward the end of her report, she began to laugh, to rejoice that she had been counted worthy to suffer reproach for His sake. It turned into a celebration right there in front of my eyes.

4. This Beatitude has an encouragement…You are being treated like the prophets.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

None of the O.T. Prophets were treated well; basically all of them were persecuted. Jeremiah is the prime example. He spent more time in jail than he did out. I would say his home but he never had one, nor a wife or children. Isaiah gave his life to his country and countrymen and his reward was wicked Manasseh putting him in a hollow log and sawing him into with a cross cut saw.

Story of Charles Stanley being elected at SBC president…

The Song Of The Slandered Saint

Psalm 7[a

shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite.

Lord my God, I take refuge in you;
    save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
or they will tear me apart like a lion
    and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

Lord my God, if I have done this
    and there is guilt on my hands—
if I have repaid my ally with evil
    or without cause have robbed my foe—
then let my enemy pursue and overtake me;
    let him trample my life to the ground
    and make me sleep in the dust.
[c]

6 Arise, Lord, in your anger;
    rise up against the rage of my enemies.
    Awake, my God; decree justice.
Let the assembled peoples gather around you,
    while you sit enthroned over them on high.
    Let the Lord judge the peoples.
Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness,
    according to my integrity, O Most High.
Bring to an end the violence of the wicked
    and make the righteous secure—
you, the righteous God
    who probes minds and hearts.

10 My shield is God Most High,
    who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
    a God who displays his wrath every day.
12 If he does not relent,
    he
[e]will sharpen his sword;
    he will bend and string his bow.
13 He has prepared his deadly weapons;
    he makes ready his flaming arrows.

14 Whoever is pregnant with evil
    conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.
15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out
    falls into the pit they have made.
16 The trouble they cause recoils on them;
    their violence comes down on their own heads.

17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
    I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.

INTRODUCTION

This is a Psalm/Song of David written in response to a vicious slander campaign orchestrated by Cush the Benjamite. The bible doesn’t tell us anything about Cush the Benjamite. We know that Saul was a Benjamite so they may very well have been related. The name Cush means “Black,” but there is no reason to assume this man was black. Black is more likely a reference to the color of his heart, not his skin. Jesus said in Matthew 15:19...For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. The very meaning of the word ‘devil’ is
prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely. The devil slandered Job in the very presence of God. The devil is a slanderer. Jesus said to the Church at Symrna, “I know your affliction and poverty, but you are rich. I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” We are never more like the devil than when we slander.

Transition

As followers of Christ, you and I must expect the same treatment that He received. Jesus was slandered. They accused Him of being a trouble maker and of sedition against Rome. Every accusation that made against Him was false yet these vicious lies got Him crucified. What are you going to do when you become the victim of slander? We would all do well to follow the ample of David. Let’s look at what he did.

1. David went straight to God–“Save me.”

Lord my God, I take refuge in you;
    save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
or they will tear me apart like a lion
    and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

Note the nature of Slander: it is VICIOUS, like a lion ripping his prey into pieces. People who resort to slander are vicious and mean spirited people. Judge Moore and his family will never recover from the vicious smear campaign orchestrated by the democratic party. They knew he was not guilty but they also new, due to his volatile nature that it was a believable lie. No one wanted Roy Moore in Washington D.C., not one other than tax payers like me.

I have been slandered but not to this degree. Most of the lies circulated about me were trivial in nature. I didn’t like them and they hurt but I have always understood, “IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE.” It is only by the grace of God, that I have been saved from the fatal effects of slander.

When it happens to me, I run straight to Jesus. I am comforted in knowing that HE KNOWS THE TRUTH. I was once accused of tampering with election ballots [church officer election]. Normally, I took the ballots to my office and locked them up but for a strange unknown reason, the chairman of the counting committee took them home with her and I never saw them or even touched them. When the lie circulated that I had tampered with the ballots: the committee chairman knew it was slander and so she called the powers at be and they set things straight. That could have cost me my job but David’s slander is much worse–His very life is at stake. When slandered, we run to Jesus.

2. David gave consideration to the Accusations. “Search me.”

Lord my God, if I have done this
    and there is guilt on my hands
if I have repaid my ally with evil
    or without cause have robbed my foe—
then let my enemy pursue and overtake me;
    let him trample my life to the groun
d
    and make me sleep in the dust.[c]

I was born with an accusing conscience so it is natural for me to react like David. I run to Jesus first but then I begin searching my heart. “Is this true of me? Am I actually guilty?” Of course I am always guilty in one sense but is what they are saying true or false.

In verse 8 David is not claiming perfection. He is not totally innocent just innocent of what they are charging him with. This has always fascinated me. I am always guilty, just not guilty of what they are accusing me of doing. Somehow the LORD has protected me by His amazing grace.

3. David did not retaliate, turned it over to the LORD. “Shield me.”

10 My shield is God Most High,
    who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
    a God who displays his wrath every day.
12 If he does not relent,
    he will sharpen his sword;
    he will bend and string his bow.
13 He has prepared his deadly weapons;
    he makes ready his flaming arrows.

14 Whoever is pregnant with evil
    conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.
15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out
    falls into the pit they have made.
16 The trouble they cause recoils on them;
    their violence comes down on their own heads.

Five Judgments

  • The Court of Public Opinion–What others think…how they evaluate the situation.
  • The Judgment of our Enemies–Usually cruel and vicious. Malicious and vindictive.
  • Our self-evaluation–How we judge ourselves
  • Judgment within sin–Sin carries its own penalty. It is a poison apple. Saul hated David passionately but whose sword killed Saul? His own. Saul committed suicide. He feel into the pit he dug for David. I see people digging away and I have a patented response, “What are you doing?” They are digging a pit for the person they want judged for the injustice committed.
  • God’s Judgment–the only one that counts.

Conclusion

Jesus is our Sovereign King: we all answer to HIM. Jesus has a gold scepter in one hand and an iron rod in the other. Those who refuse to bow to the scepter will be broken by the rod.

No one gets by with anything. Fredrick von Logau said, “Though the mills of God’s judgment grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly fine.” Nothing slips by; no one escapes unscathed.

Blessed Are The Peace Makers

The Beatitudes

He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
   
 for they will be called children of God.

Introduction

The commentaries are not a lot of help on this one. I was shocked that they had so little to say on the subject but I have a few things I want to share.

I. Peacemaking Is Not Peace Loving.

He said blessed are the peacemakers…not peace lovers. I love peace and the older I get the more I love it but that is not what Jesus said. Sometimes we love peace so much that we compromise our faith. We refuse to confront and rebuke sin. We don’t want to ruffle any feathers. Not many of you remember the days of Jimmy Carter and the Iran-hostage crisis but I remember vividly. Carter was weak and vacillating. He couldn’t make a decision and tried to negotiate with terrorist. His anemia and weakness had the entire country living under a cloud of doubt. Carter wanted peace at any price. He was willing to compromise the very principles that made this country great and he was awarded the NOBEL PEACE prize. Jimmy Carter was not a peacemaker, he was peace lover. There is a difference.

II. Peacemaking is A By-product of Peace

We cannot give what we do not have. If you don’t have peace, you can’t give peace. If we are conflicted and disturbed, we will not emanate or disseminate peace. Peace is an inside job. To share peace, we must possess peace.

III. Peacemaking is the Opposite of Trouble making

Solomon said: There are six things the Lord hates,  seven that are detestable to Him:
17         haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Proverbs 18:8–A gossip’s [talebearer] words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being.

Never listen to a person who is telling you what someone else said about you. Those who lack the courage to confront are bad about giving others credit for their own quotes.


IV. Peacemaking Involves Intercession

Peacemakers are willing to intervene, to get in between the warring factions. Let a policeman tell you what it’s like to get a call on domestic violence. I even got a call on domestic violence several years ago and I thought I was going to have to call the police. The wife had opened her husbands mail: it was a summons for child support. He had gotten a girl pregnant and the DNA was his and she was suing for child support. The wife knew nothing about the affair until she opened the letter. When he came home, she was in the attack mode. I had to literally get in between them.

If you think peacemaking is easy and cost free, think about Jesus and the price He paid so that we could have peace with God.

The Church At Ephesus

The Letter to Ephesus {CSB}

2:1 “Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus: Thus says the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. I know that you have persevered and endured hardships for the sake of my name, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first.Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet you do have this: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Introduction

The church of Ephesus would be your typical of some churches today. Matter of fact, I think this church is Ephesus but before you stone me, let me confess: I believe that DBC is also an Ephesus.

Listen to what Jesus says about this church…

  • This Church was active... It is a vibrant church. “I know everything you are doing and have done.” {CEV} There parking lot was full, their calendar was full, activities never ceased, they were hard workers and busy as beavers. This is not a bad thing: I know churches that don’t have any activity rather than a meeting on Sunday morning but we need to hear Jesus out of this one.
  • This Church is Orthodox…they do not tolerate heresy. The Nicolaitans mentioned in verse 6 were heretics and Ephesus gave them the boot so they moved on to Pergamum and Thyatira.
  • This Church is Steadfast…It is a strong church. They have endured many difficult circumstances and have emerged stronger than ever.
  • This is a Relentless Church…They don’t quit, they don’t give up or in [v.3]

Transition…the infamous BUT

Jesus said, BUT I have something against you. What on earth could it be?

  • The Church is Vibrant
  • The Church is Orthodox
  • The Church is Strong
  • The Church is Tenacious and Persevering

What more could you want?

You have abandoned the love you had at first.

What is this love: I am convinced it is LOVE FOR JESUS which embraces and loves others. What is missing is proper motivation. We do good things but we have forgotten why we do them. MOTIVE is everything in the Kingdom of God. Paul said you can speak every language, know every mystery and even give away all your belonging and even your life but if your motive is not love, there is not profit in it for you.

Jesus knows everything, He knows our heart and our motives and He desires that we be driven by a passionate love for HIM. LOVE FOR JESUS is to be our driving force.

DOES JESUS REALLY DESIRE THAT WE LOVE HIM: ISN’T OUR OBEDIENCE AND SERVICE ENOUGH?

LORD willing I will answer this question but before I do, let me ask you a personal question?

Husbands, does it matter to you if your wife loves you. Is her obedience and service enough to please you?

What about you wives: is it enough for your husband to provide for you and give you every dime he makes?

No, you want to be loved unconditionally. You want your spouse devotion and service to be driven by love.

SANCTIFICATION

When I was a child, I obeyed my parents part of the time but the only reason I obeyed them at all was because I feared the consequences. My childish love for my parents was a need-love. I needed them. I found my security in them. As I got older, I needed them less and less but my love for them increased more and more. I was in my late 20’s or early 30’s before I had a heart to heart talk with my daddy. It was not that daddy didn’t want to talk to me, I wasn’t ready, mature enough to understand what he had to say.

In the later years of their life, I loved them in a more mature way. It wasn’t a need love, it was much purer than a need-love. I wanted to honor them and make their life easier if possible. I loved them for who they were warts and all. ISN’T THAT THE WAY PARENTS WANT TO BE LOVED?

We were created in the IMAGE OF GOD and there is some likeness. Jesus wants our unconditional love. He wants us to love HIM for who He is and not just what He did for us. He wants our love to grow and to mature until nothing in our lives is greater than our love for Jesus.

PERHAPS THERE IS A DOUBTING THOMAS IN THE AUDIENCE…

Go with me to John 21…look at verse 15

15 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Did you catch that? Jesus did not ask Peter if he was willing to serve or had he been teaching the SS class. He didn’t even say, “Peter, are you tithing?” Bible Study, ministry, tithing…all these things are important but that is not the question that Jesus ask. The question is…DO YOU LOVE ME?

In John 6, Jesus feeds the multitude fish and hush puppies until their stomachs are fully satisfied. Jesus then slipped away from the crowd because they were about to try to force Him to be their king. Jesus went off to Himself, the disciples got in a boat and went to the other side of the lake. Jesus joined them in the wee hours of the night when he came across walking on the water. The next day, the multitudes kept looking for Jesus until they found Him but Jesus told them: You are looking for Me because you want to see more miracles and have some more free fish and hush puppies, not because you believe in Me.

BOTTOM LINE: These people didn’t love Jesus. They were following Him for the benefits. Just like folks who move from church to church until they get all the free benefits. Oh, they admired Jesus, they admired what He could do but they were not willing to commit their lives to HIM.

Jesus want us to LOVE HIM with all of our heart, mind, body and strength. He wants us to Love him so deeply that nothing matters more than His glory and honor.

Conclusion

Go back one chapter in John to chapter 20 and you have the story of Mary Magdalene. I love this story. Mary went to Jesus tomb expecting to find His dead lifeless body. When she got there, His body was not in the tomb. Mary was frantic. She ran back and got Peter saying…“They have taken my Lord from the tomb and I don’t know where they put HIM.” Peter and John check out the empty tomb and then return to the upper room. Not Mary, she stood outside the tomb weeping, she wasn’t going anywhere till she could see a body, a dead lifeless body. As she was weeping, she decided to take a second look, this time two angels were in the tomb. They asks Mary why she is crying and she says to them, “They have taken away my LORD’s body and I want to know where they have put Him.

Let’s stop here and consider Mary’s motives: what can a lifeless, dead Jesus do for Mary? The answer: Absolutely nothing. A dead savior could do nothing but she didn’t care, dead or alive, she loved HIM. She was going to make sure His lifeless body was properly cared for. This is the kind of devotion and love Jesus wants. Mary didn’t love Him for what He could do, she loved Him for who He was and what He had already done for her.

The good news is: Mary found the body and it was full of life.

The Pure In Heart

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see GOD.

Introduction

Today we are looking at the 6th Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  I have shared this beatitude before; twice if my memory is correct but I have seen things here in the past two weeks that I had not seen before. This is a bit disturbing to me and yet paradoxically a blessing. The depth of truth in the word of God is inexhaustible for humans. In this life, we will never get a full understanding of Jesus teachings. So today, I will share what He by grace has revealed to me recently with the understanding that I am merely scratching the surface. It is an humbling position to be in.

REMEMBER that “Blessedness” is a state of being {Grace} not a set of circumstances. If you are in Christ, YOU are blessed. If you are not in Christ, you are under a curse.

My personal goal or aim is to understand what Jesus is saying to me. He uses an interesting word. The word pure in Greek is katharos.  Why would I even mention this? Because we are familiar with this word. Our word catheter comes from this word. A catheter is used to draw toxin fluid from the kidneys. We also use this word in counseling: you have no doubt heard the word catharsis which means purification or cleansing. This happens in counseling when a person confesses the truth. There are many purifying agents like soap, water, fire and blood to mention a few. Of course you understand that you and I are cleansed by the BLOOD OF CHRIST, The LAMB without spot or blemish but when it comes to our sanctification, truth is the purifier. This is why we need to bathe daily in the word of Truth, the bible. If we are dishonest with God, there will be no inward purification.

The Apostle Paul taught us in Romans that certain things would always humble us: things such as pride, lust, greed, envy and anger. In this life we will never be free of any of these things but Jesus is not referring to perfection here, at least I don’t think He is.

William Barclay said and I concur, “This beatitude demands the most exacting self-examination.” The question is: What is our MOTIVE? This is always the question. The Pharisees did some good things: they tithed, they gave alms to the poor, they were faithful to attend synagogue but they did all these good things for the wrong reasons. Pretending to be righteous may be worse sort of unrighteous.

Barclay says, “To examine one’s own motives is a daunting and shaming thing, for there are few things in this world that even the best of us do with pure motives.” I have to agree. I have done things in the past that I thought were properly motivated at the time but later came to realize that my motives were vain. I have learned not to trust myself. Sometimes my prayer is…LORD, I am confused, I do not know what my true motive is but I am going to respond to the need and do what I believe to be right. I must leave the motives to YOU because I’m not sure what it is!

A part of the process of sanctification is a purifying of our motives. There is no question: The LORD wants us to do the right things for the right reason. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13…this is the JEV

If I could speak every human language or even speak directly to the angels, if my motive was not love, I would simply be making noise.

If I could prophesy and understand all secrets and have all knowledge?
If I had faith that moved mountains; there would be no reward for me unless my motives was love.

If I gave away all that I owned and let myself  be burned alive as a martyr? I would gain nothing, if my motive was not love.

OUR DRIVE, OUR PASSION FOR LIVING IS LOVE FOR JESUS AND OTHERS.

This beatitude comes with a promise. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have a pure motive for they shall see God.” When I read the Psalms years ago, I saw David, I saw passions like anger, envy, fear, and true principles that govern life but I did not see Jesus. Now when I read them I see Jesus everywhere. Some folks don’t see Jesus in Isaiah 53 or Psalm 22 but I see him clearly. When I look at the stars at night, I see Jesus. When I look at the mountains, I see Jesus.

In the 1950, a Chinese man took a photo of a snow covered mountain because he saw the face of Jesus.

If you have never seen this image, it may take a minute but there is the face of man who looks like Jesus to me in the melting snow on the side of this mountain. My point is this: Jesus can be seen by the pure in heart. We just have to reach a point in our sanctification where He is all we are looking for and living for. There is an old proverb: when the student is really, the teacher will appear. When the disciple is ready, Jesus will appear.

A dirty mind sees filth in everything: the pure in heart see Jesus in everything. What is your focus today? What are you seeing? Have you ever repented of your sins? Have you ever consciously committed your heart to Christ? Why not today.

From Prayer To Praise

Psalm 6

NLT

O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your rage.

2 Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak.
    Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.

I am sick at heart.
    How long, O Lord, until you restore me?

Return, O Lord, and rescue me.
    Save me because of your unfailing love.

5 For the dead do not remember you.
    Who can praise you from the grave?

I am worn out from sobbing.
    All night I flood my bed with weeping,
    drenching it with my tears.

My vision is blurred by grief;
    my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.

Go away, all you who do evil,
    for the Lord has heard my weeping.

The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord will answer my prayer.

10 May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified.
    May they suddenly turn back in shame.

Introduction

Rarely do I disagree with Warren Wiersbe or the Holman Commentary. I love both of these commentaries on Psalms. Although Psalm 6 is the first of the first of the seven penitential Psalms [6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143], I personally don’t think that David is dealing with unconfessed sin per say. I do think he feels guilt about his failures as a father and king but I don’t think this Psalm relates to a specific sin, just sin in general. I think he wrote this Psalm in connection with Absalom’s rebellion. In 2 Samuel 15, the scripture tells us that David left town barefoot, weeping and with his head covered in shame. He was chased from his home by his own flesh and blood who wanted not only his office but his life.

I think this Psalm is more about the grief of a failing parent. In connection with Absalom, David is probably doing the “What ifs.”

Transition: I think we have…

1. A GRIEF OBSERVED

O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your rage.

Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak.
    Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.

I am sick at heart.
    How long, O Lord, until you restore me?

I believe that David wrote this Psalm in connection to Absalom’s rebellion. What I see in verse 1-3 is a hurting parent. A father grieving over his son. Note David’s confessions…I am weak, my bones are in agony and my heart is sick. The NASB reads, “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away.” I use to hear this expression as a child but you don’t here it much these days. What does ‘pinning away’ mean? The word was used in reference to plants or people. It described a plant that was dropping from lack of water, care or disease. Pinning is progressive weakness. To pine away is to get weaker and weaker until you die.

So David’s confession is: I am getting weaker and weaker all the time. When the ancients spoke of agony in the bones, they were referring to deep and inward pain. Pain that cannot be observed by the eye. Of course we all know what it is like to be heart-sick. It is to be low emotionally, to be sad, heart broken or disappointed.

If you go back and read 2 Samuel 15 and David’s flight from Jerusalem…this Psalm makes perfect sense…
30 David went on up the slope of the Mount of Olives. He was barefoot and crying, and he covered his head to show his sorrow. Everyone with him was crying, and they covered their heads too.

Why is David in such grief? Is it the threat of his life or lost of his power? I don’t think so. I think the most disturbing thing to David is Absalom’s rebellion. He knew, as he wrote is Psalm 37, that a wonderful future awaits those of love the LORD but the rebellious will be destroyed. David knew as he said in Psalm 1, “The path of the wicked leads to destruction.”

I think what we have here is a GRIEF OBSERVED: A FATHER MOURNING THE FATE OF A REBELLIOUS SON.

2. A HEART FELT PRAYER

Return, O Lord, and rescue me.
    Save me because of your unfailing love.

For the dead do not remember you.
    Who can praise you from the grave?

Obviously, by the language David uses, he is in a life-threatening situation. David knew what to do in distress…You pray. You asks God for help. David prayed LORD rescue me…save me. It is a simple prayer and one that I pray often. I am always in need of being saved from something even if it my own self. I pray this prayer for the President and not in a condescending way: I simply pray for his salvation; physical and spiritual.

3. AN HONEST CONFESSION

I am worn out from sobbing.
    All night I flood my bed with weeping,
    drenching it with my tears.

My vision is blurred by grief;
    my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.

David was a passionate man and I’m sure he is making an honest confession: one that I cannot make. I can’t say that I have ever wept all night but then again, I have never been in David’s shoes. I am certainly not saying that nothing would cause me to weep all night. I have had sleepless nights, restless nights and some long nights. I do believe that grief can blur our vision. I can’t compare my sorrow to Davids not can I compare my grief to his. This man attended the funerals of three of his sons [that I know of, there may have been more]. The man was well acquainted with grief, he was a man of sorrows which makes him a type of Christ.

4. A TRIUMPHANT FAITH

Go away, all you who do evil,
    for the Lord has heard my weeping.

The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord will answer my prayer.

10 May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified.
    May they suddenly turn back in shame.

Somewhere in David’s prayer he gets a burst of confidence and his whole tone changes. He is confident that God has heard his prayer and that He will answer. I have had this happen many times; I go to the LORD with a burdened heart and arise with a happy heart. I have seen my prayers turn into praise many times.

I think, if my memory is correct and often it is not, this first happened to me when I was 19. A friend, who had a burdened heart called me and asks me if I would meet him at church which I did. This was before the days of locking churches. We meet and began praying with heavy hearts: he was a new convert and I was just beginning in the ministry. We didn’t just say a prayer, we prayed through and the prayer meeting turned into a praise meeting. I think we were both shocked.

Heart felt prayer has away of turning into glorious praise.

Blessed Are The Merciful

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.

Introduction

We come to the fifth beatitude and by the way, they don’t get easier. Each step is progressive and these precepts become more difficult but again, this is no excuse to write them off…No, these principles that Christ is teaching are LIFE CHANGING if we put them into practice.

If you are a part of Christ kingdom, you are an object of His mercy: Kingdom servants should reflect the attitude of their KING.

Transition

William Barclay believed that the key to showing mercy is the ability to show empathy and sympathy. We have to get to know the real person. The French had a proverb–“To know is to Forgive.” Empathy, the ability to feel what another person is feeling and Sympathy, the willingness to suffer along with them are necessary for showing mercy.

Transition: I think Barclay has a point

It is hard to show mercy to someone we don’t know or care to know; without empathy and sympathy, we cannot show mercy in the right way. If we do make an effort to empathize and sympathize it will….

1. HELP US SHOW MERCY IN THE RIGHT WAY.

We show mercy by ACTS Of KINDNESS. The true definition of mercy is loving kindness. The GOOD SAMARITAN is a prime example.

Has anyone ever attempted to show kindness to you and it created more tension, more problems than you had to begin with?

A good example is found in Luke’s Gospel:

At the Home of Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha had good intentions: she was not a bad person but Jesus is about to die on a cross: He is not worried about dinner. Mary empathizes and sympathizes but Martha is so determined to serve Christ her way that she becomes a distraction herself. Jesus didn’t need a family feud or banging pots and pans. He needed empathy and sympathy.

2. IT WILL HELP US SHOW MERCY WHEN WE ARE HAVING A DIFFICULT TIME FORGIVING

Footnotes: Story of the woman who’s daughter got pregnant out of wedlock
  • FORGIVING OTHERS IS NOT AN OPTION
  • Jesus teaches us to forgive in the model prayer [Matthew 6:12]
    And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
  • Just two verses down, Jesus said…[6:14-15]
    For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
  • In Matthew 18 we have the story of the unmerciful servant, who after being forgiven by his master refused to show mercy to a fellow servant. This man was thrown into prison. Jesus said… This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
  • James 2:13… Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

When we empathize, we literally attempt to get into the other persons shoes. This is exactly what Christ did in our behalf. He condescended, He stooped to our low estate, took on our flesh, got under our skin so He could feel what we feel. He felt physical pain, He felt sorrow and grief, anger, compassion and yes even guilt. He did not sin but God made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us. On the cross He not only felt the shame of our sin but He felt God-forsaken.

You may be familiar with the story of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. They were married at the age of twenty and were madly in love as their nine children testify. Albert had big plans for the family but his oldest son turned out to be a dunce and Albert died of fever at the tender age of 42. Queen Victoria, seldom left the castle. She spent the rest of her life in mourning. She did make some exceptions. She had a friend who lost her husband shortly after Albert’s untimely demise. When she entered the room of her friend, the woman tried to get up quickly and bow to the queen. Victory forbade her from doing such. “I’m not here as the queen but as a friend.” Jesus was God but He didn’t come to us as God, but as man.  He cared enough to get into our skin and take on our flesh and our problems.

3. IT WILL HELP US BECOME MORE LIKE CHRIST

We do not deserve mercy: if mercy could be earned, it would not be mercy. Mercy by nature is an undeserved GIFT. Thus MERCY must be given and MERCY must be received. As with any gift: MERCY can be refused.

Exodus 34:5, NASB
Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.

This is the verse that Jonah quotes when he is outside of Nineveh pouting… The LORD God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.

Jesus prayed for His tormentors: “Father forgive them, they do no know what they are doing.”

[1] You can’t give Mercy unless you have it

[2] Can’t have it unless you have received it

[3] You can’t receive it without asking for it…confession and repentance.