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


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…


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.


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 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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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….


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.


Footnotes: Story of the woman who’s daughter got pregnant out of wedlock
  • 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.


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.

Blessed Are They Who Hunger

Scripture: Matthew 5:3-6

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.


Again, Jesus speaks in a radically shocking tone: who would ever think that it could be a BLESSING to be hungry or thirsty. But I remind you: THE TRUTHS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH ARE OFTEN STATED IN A PARADOX. [A paradox is a statement that seems to be contradictory but is actually true]

  • We live by dying
  • We get by giving
  • We win by losing [Save your life, you lose it]
  • We are strong when we are weak
  • We rejoice in trials
  • We have nothing yet we have all things

So there seems to be nothing blessed about hunger and thirst…

We need to keep in mind that Jesus was speaking to a middle Eastern crowd. We here in the West, know very little about hunger and thirst. It is radically different on the other side of the world. In America, there is a huge problem with obesity but that is not a problem in Africa, India or most Eastern counties.

Jesus is not talking about physical hunger!

Jesus is saying: You will be blessed if you have an appetite for RIGHTEOUSNESS.

So this HUNGER and THIRST that Jesus refers to could be speaking of at least three things, two other than Jesus. I’m going to save Jesus for last, amen!


We live in a fallen world and that is a fact: there are many societal ills. I would venture to say, America is a great place to live but we are far from perfect. New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a bill that allows lethal injections to be given to babies right up to the time of birth. In New York, it is illegal to executed a murder. Ironically, their law allows an innocent unborn baby to be executed by lethal injection but they protect criminals who have taken innocent lives. WHERE IS THE JUSTICE?

I was listening to Rich and Bubba one morning this week and the left was all up in arms about a photo on a magazine cover of a white man standing in a cotton field with his shot gun. They are screaming “racism.” Are you kidding me, the elites are murdering black babies by the thousands and they are up in arms about a white man standing in a cotton field. The biggest racist in this country are those screaming “racism.” They need to take a trip to Israel if they want to see racism.

Racism is not our major threat: killing babies and condoning sexual perversion will be our undoing. Do you HUNGER AND THIRST FOR SOMEONE TO SET THINGS RIGHT? Do you hunger and thirst for divine justice?


I do worry at times about the EVIL OUT THERE [world] but I worry more about the EVIL in here [my heart]. It is true, I long for Jesus to fix our broken world but I also long for HIM to fix me. Frank Staggs calls this eschatological righteousness. You see, someday, I am going to be righteous and I long for that day.

Jesus is sanctifying me, He is in the process of making me like HIM. When I say like HIM, I mean holy and free of sin. Do you ever get sick and tired of being a ‘fowl up’. Do you get sick of failure, of weakness, insecurity, anxiety, and sin? I do. Folks, I doubt if a days goes by that I don’t think about my sanctification. I know that Jesus is at work in me but how I long to be set free of this body of sin and death.


One of the wonderful things about this beatitude is the promise. If we hunger and thirst for Jesus, we will be filled. The NASB translates verse 5 like this…
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” The Greek word comes from the root which means “to fodder” which would be feeding livestock. The word fill is not a bad translation because that is literally what the word means but what happens when we get full? We are satisfied!

Now, when it comes to eating, we are satisfied for awhile and then we get hungry again but Jesus is not talking about food, physical food any way. He is talking about HIMSELF.

If you hunger and thirst for more Jesus, you will be satisfied, yet hungry for more. This is what He is talking about, A BLESSED STATE OF HUNGER. You are hungry all the time, you are full all the time, you are blessed all the time because your hunger is for Jesus himself. Steven Arterburn wrote a book, “MORE JESUS, Less Religion.” I love it and that is what we need, more Jesus.

I am not a Greek scholar nor the son of a Greek scholar but William Barclay points out something very interesting about this beatitude. The verb used is in the accusative case rather than the genitive. This means nothing to me and probably nothing to you but Barclay says the case of this verb means Jesus is talking about HUNGERING FOR THE WHOLE THING, not a piece of bread but the whole loaf.

Do you want more Jesus? Do you hunger for all of Jesus?


Hunger and thirst are strong drives. When we get hungry, food is all we think of and when we get really thirsty, water or drink is what we think of. A hungry man will take a cracker over a hundred dollar bill. Esau was so hungry, he traded his birthright for a bowl of soup. Hunger and thirst, from the physical perspective means two things:

Hunger means two things…

It means you are alive. A little baby comes into this world hungry. If you have no appetite, you may be dead and not alive. If you have no spiritual appetite, you are dead.

It means that you are healthy. Often times, sick people, especially those who suffer with cancer, lose their appetite.

Blessed Are The Meek

Scripture: Matthew 5

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.


Today we deal with the third beatitude: Blessed are the MEEK but before I address “Meekness,” I want to remind you of a couple of things:

[1] The Beatitudes are sequential not random. There is a progression. We begin with humility [the poor in spirit], then we mourn because of our sin and the sin around us. These are the pillars of our faith–humility and repentance. Then and only then can we become meek. Pride and meekness do not go together; arrogant people are never meek. Those who do not recognize their sin and weakness, cannot be meek.

[2] Jesus said in His conclusion of this sermon, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  The scripture records in verse 7:28,  “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching.” So, it is not enough to be impressed or amazed at what Jesus is saying: He wants us to put this into practice.

Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and we comply without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength. Gentleness or meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from our trust in God’s goodness and that He is in control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will (Gal 5:23).

Understand this: MEEKNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS. The meek are gentle and they don’t fight over the right of way. They are the folks who move off to the side of the sidewalk so you can pass. At first glance, they seem passive but their are not. They have anger but it is under control. Meek people don’t blow their top, come unglued, go berserk, etc. But this does not mean that they are WEAK. Moses was meek but you would never call him or view him as weak. Jesus was perfectly meek but He was not weak other than when He made Himself weak for oursakes.

The problem in our understanding is not the translation. The AV translated the Greek word prä-ü’s as meek and that is a good translation. The NASB translates it “Gentle” and that is also good. The problem is there no English word that is compatible with the Greek word. T. J. Hunt points out a fascinating truth. While living among the Japanese, he learned their language and he discovered that you can “think” things in Japanese that you cannot think in English. The words “Gentle” and “Meek” are very close but not a perfect match. The word prä-ü’s means strength under control. It is a picture of a domesticated animal under the control of a trainer or master. I always used the draft horse as an example: The draft horse is strong but it is under control. It responds to the rein and to the yea and haw.

What good is a wild horse? Other than to entertain you with their running, bucking, frolicking, what good are they. They have boundless energy but what purpose does it serve. How many of you want to buy a wild horse? They will not come near you or allow you to come near them. They are like some people we know, will not come near a church, don’t want to hear the gospel.

A gentle horse is one you can lay hands on; one you can lead, one you can hook to a plow. This horse makes no decision other than to allow you to lay hands on him. He plows what ever field you choose. He works from sun up to sun down and never complains, kicks or bucks. He is not a fire burst or a flash in the pan but a steady and reliable worker.

I’ve been pastoring churches for 50 years and there are some members you will never get a bridle on. They fear commitment. When they see you coming with a bridle, they breakout. They are not going to allow you to lay hands on them, they are not going to commit. Some of them have boundless energy and amazing gifts but what good do they do?


I want to say four things about the MEEK:


Aristotle had a fixed method to define virtue: he always found it in the middle of the two extremes. Let me give you an example of his method. When it comes to anger, you have two extremes. On the one extreme, you have the hot head who flies off the handle with the drop of a hat and on the extreme, you have the extremely passive. They are spineless. They never get angry about anything. The virtue is in the middle. We don’t need to get angry about everything but we do need to get angry at times. The bible never teaches us not to be angry: it says, “Be angry and sin not.” So we are commanded to be angry, just not to allow it to become something sinful. Jesus got angry, more than once but he never sinned. I can think of three occasions right off hand:

  • When he healed the man with the deformed hand. He was angry with the Pharisees and Scribes because they were heartless and cruel: they had no compassion.
  • He got angry at the tomb of Lazarus: we don’t know for sure why–I think He was angry at the Jews for their unbelief but he may have been angry with death itself.
  • Then He was angry with He cleansed the Temple.


Blessed is the man or woman who’s every instinct, passion and impulse is under the control of Christ.

If you are to give up self-control and surrender to Christ control: you have to banish pride. A proud heart will not submit to the harness, bridle or the plow.

In Matthew 11:28 and following, Jesus says,

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Footnotes: [1] the meek are gentle and humble [2] they take the yoke willingly [3] they want to learn.

The meek are not only your most faithful workers, they are your most dedicated learners.

Blessed is the man who admits his ignorance and applies himself to learning.


In the kingdom of Christ, no man can lead until he has learned to follow: no man can serve others until he has subjected himself. No one can possible arrive at MEEKNESS until he or she has humbled themselves.


I am not a meek man but I want to be. But I do have a friend who has gone on to be with the LORD who was very meek. Matter of fact, he was the most meek of anyone I’ve ever known. Most people thought he was weak but he had the courage of a lion. When I was about to be fired or intimidated to the point of throwing in the towel, this man stepped up. I will not lie, I was a bit shocked myself. I saw this man in action: when push came to shove he stood firm. He never lost his temper but he did and said what was necessary and he did not care who liked it or didn’t. He was fully committed to do what was right and he had no intentions of backing down. When I thanked for saving my bacon, he said, “I didn’t do it for you; I did it because it was the right thing to do.” Needless to say, I was no less thankful. This man became one of the best friends I’ve ever had and I always defended his honor and integrity. When I heard folks belittle him for his quiet and unassuming manner, I would correct them. I would say, “You don’t know the real man. He has more courage than all of us put together.” Seriously, this man was not even afraid of death.

Blessed Are They Who Mourn

Text: Matthew 5:4

v.3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

v.4  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. NIV


Today we are looking at the second beatitude. There are a few things I want you to remember. [1] The Beatitudes are not pious platitudes to muse over and then brush aside. I had a preacher tell me this week: I don’t preach the sermon on the mount because no one can live up to it. We have this idea that the law is a bad thing but the law is a good thing: it is our standard for living. The closer you and I come to this ethic, the better our lives will be. Jesus came to help us, not hurt us. He expected us to obey His teachings.

Fast forward to Matthew 7:24…

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Jesus is not talking about building houses, He is talking about building a life and we build our lives on His word, instructions and teaching.

[2] Each Beatitude comes with a promise.

[3] They are sequential: not random.

[4] They are oxymoron’s: Blessed are the poor–doesn’t make sense to us. Blessed are they who mourn–are you kidding me. This what we call a divine paradox: it seems to be contradictory but in fact it teaches a life principle that we need to know.


Jesus is talking about life within His Kingdom and this life begins with “Repentance.” Like the Law, Repentance is a good thing, we all need to repent. Jesus is both the Door and the King of the Kingdom, we cannot enter without repenting of our sins.

  • John’s first sermon– Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 3:2]
  • Jesus first sermon– From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 4:17
  • Repentance not an option– “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:5]

What did Jesus mean when He said, “Blessed are they who mourn?”

I. Quit Literally, it means that God can reverse our sorrow…use it for good.

The word ‘mourn’ here is the strongest word in the Greek language for sorrow, grief and mourning. It is the same word used to describe Jacob’s grief when he believed that Joseph was dead. It is a grief so deep that it cannot be hidden. There is no doubt that God uses this kind of grief to:

  • Whet our appetite for heaven
  • Hone and refine us
  • Show us the value of friends
  • Acquaint us with Himself, the God of all comfort

II. Most certainly it means, mourning is essential to our salvation

Blessed are those who have genuine sorrow for their sins and sinful condition. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 7:10… For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

  • Most of us can see the sins of others: we are quit good at spotting other folks sin but do you see our sin? Does your sin bring you grief?
  • Life with Christ begins when we recognize our sin and the sin of the world. Isaiah, “Woe is me!”
  • If you are having a hard time locating sin: LOOK AT THE CROSS.
  • If you think sin is a joke, a trivial matter: LOOK AT THE CROSS.
  • If you have no grief, no sorrow for your sins and the sins of our nation: you’ve probably not been born again.

III. There is a third meaning: Where there is no grief, there is no love.

  • If you have no Godly Sorrow about the cross and what sin did to Jesus: it is PROOF that you don’t love HIM.
  • If you are not grieving over social injustice {Abortion for instance and Alcohol which claims 5% of the world’s deaths} then you don’t love people. If you don’t hate the drug industry, you don’t love people. To love Jesus and people is to hate sin.
  • I have actually conducted funerals were their were no tears.


You know why we don’t have REVIVAL…sin doesn’t bother us. We don’t grieve over it, we don’t confess it and we don’t repent of it.

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

When he saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to teach them, saying:Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”


Today we begin a new series: we going to preach through Jesus sermon on the Mount. It is fitting that Jesus delivered this life changing message from the mountain top. God gave Moses the law on Mount Sinai and here Jesus gives us a fuller revelation of that same law. In verse 17, Jesus said…
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or theProphets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” It is a sermon that you could read in less than an hour. I have no idea how many minutes it took Jesus to deliver this message. What I do know is that it will take us months to scratch the surface. I am excited about this series.


Today we are going to look at the first Beatitude…Blessed are the poor in Spirit. Actually, we are going to be on the first beatitude for two weeks.

This will not be a homileticical masterpiece I can assure you but there are some things that it is vital for you to understand.


When Jesus used the term “Blessed,” it doesn’t mean what you think it means. A lot of folks interpret it “Happy,” and that is not totally wrong but it does do the word justice. This blessedness that Jesus speaks of is a state of being not a set of circumstances. It has more to do with our position in Christ than our performance for Christ. The Israelites were “Blessed” because God redeemed them from the cruel bondage of Pharaoh. This blessing was conferred upon them by GRACE. They did nothing to enter this state of blessedness. If you have repented of your part in Christ death and turned from yourself and sin to Christ–You are Blessed; you are one of the ones that Jesus is referring to. If you are not in Christ, you are not blessed. It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are: George Soros and Michael Bloomberg are billionaires but they are not blessed.

“If you are in Christ, you are blessed: if you are not in Christ, you are cursed.”


The second thing I want to do is tell you what this beatitude does not mean. Jesus is not saying, “Blessed are they who are down on themselves… Blessed are those who think little of self [low self-esteem]. REMEMBER, Pride is like a two headed coin. The top side of pride is arrogance and conceit but the underbelly of pride is self-pity.

I love C.S. Lewis novel the GREAT DIVORCE. In this novel, there is a character known as the Dwarf. He is the master of manipulation. Unhappy people can use pity to control others and they do. They do not want others to be happy because they are not happy. They are so invested in self-pity that they chose to be unhappy, sad and offended even though such behavior shrinks the soul. You see, every time the Dwarf felt sorry for himself, he became smaller.

Jesus is not pronouncing a blessing on those who pity themselves and there is certainly no blessing for the arrogant. I know preachers who are arrogant but they are not blessed.

The POOR IN SPIRIT are those who understand their moral depravity. They understand the depth of their sin and that spiritually, they are bankrupt. The Greek word translated poor means– Destitute of wealth, influence, position and honor. It means lowly, afflicted, destitute of the Christian virtues and helpless or powerless to do anything about it. It is to understand that you are lacking and needy…at the mercy of God. It is the exact opposite of pride.

Third and Finally

There are eight beatitudes and today we begin with number one but I want you to understand that number one is number one for a reason. Jesus was a master teacher and these are not random thoughts; they are sequential. They form and follow a logical order or sequence. I call this beatitude the FIRST BASE of Kingdom Life.

In Baseball, you have four bases in the shape of a diamond. When you put the ball in play, you run to first base. To score you have to go around the bases until you get to home plate. YOU CANNOT SCORE IF YOU MISS FIRST BASE. You cannot hit the ball and run to second base.

The reason Jesus begins with THE POOR IN SPIRIT is that humility is fundamental to everything that a Christian does. Humility is a very illusive virtue but we must see it as a goal. I am not humble but I want to be humble. Humility is my goal. What can you do effectively in the Kingdom of God without humility.

  • You cannot touch the hurting: Proud people make horrible ministers
  • You cannot reach the lost: lost people can pick up on a condescending attitude
  • You cannot pray: God’s hates pride
  • You can’t understand the scripture
  • You can give preference to others
  • You can’t wash feet

You can’t score in God’s Kingdom unless you touch first base. The good thing about baseball is…if you do strike out, you will get another at bat. Get it right today.