Finding Blessings in Strange Places

The Beatitudes Highlight The Behaviors That Are Important To Jesus

Dan Franklin
Apr 16, 2023    45m
Join us as we begin exploring the Sermon on the Mount and learn how the beatitudes are the behaviors that are important to Jesus. The qualities that Jesus wants to bless us for are not the traits we would consider blessings. Video recorded at Upland, California.


Kingdom Of Heaven 

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Life Bible - Finding Blessings in Strange Places
Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Speaker2: [00:00:19] Good morning, my name is Amy Parker, I'm involved in GO teams here at LBF. And our scripture today comes from Matthew chapter 5, verses 1 through 12, "Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them. The Beatitudes He said: 3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. This is God's Word.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:24] Amen. You can grab a seat. Oh, well, congratulations. Thank you. All right, good, I wanted to see how polite you were. That's what you say when somebody says congratulations, you say thank you. Or as some of you might have been thinking, for what? Because we get congratulated because either something has happened, or we've done something. We all love, though, I thought I'd just say it to you at the beginning of the service because who doesn't like hearing the word congratulations directed towards you? We have a whole aisle in the card section that's just for congratulations because there are different occasions where we want to give that to people. You graduate, you have a kid, you get a new job, you accomplish something, and somebody says, congratulations. And here's one of the things. I don't know how much you've thought about this, but congratulations are in many ways more about the future than about the past. We say congratulations a lot of times because something did happen, you just did something. But congratulations is more about, this is the new situation that you're in. Congratulations on graduating, because now you have a whole new world opened up to you. Congratulations on the kid, because now you're not going to get any sleep, or I mean, you're going to have a great life with kids. We say congratulations and it actually has something more to do with the future and the situation that we're now in, so we all love to hear the word congratulations.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:03] And here's what I want you to think about. I want you to think about what it would be like to hear Jesus tell you, congratulations. Does anybody feel like that would be pretty good? Like, that sounds nice. Like most of us would take a congratulation from anyone, but from the Son of God, for him to say congratulations, that seems like that's where you'd want to be. We're going to experience in our past today the sorts of people that Jesus says congratulations to.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:39] And today we start through a really important section of the Bible. We're back to our series in the Gospel of Matthew, and we're starting today through what's typically called the Sermon on the Mount, which is Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7. And just to get our minds around this, we call it the Sermon on the Mount because of how it begins in Matthew chapter 5, verses 1 and 2, it says, Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them. And so the whole setting for this is a mountainside, and one of the reasons why that matters, is because Jesus is doing something that had already been done in Israel. All the way back when Israel started as a nation, their leader, Moses, went up on a mountain and came back down and told the people, these are God's instructions for you. This is God's message to you. And now Jesus is doing something similar where he's going up on a mountain and then he's going to tell people, here's what God says to you.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:42] And what he launches into in the Sermon on the Mount has been sometimes called Jesus's Kingdom manifesto. This is Jesus laying out, here's what it looks like to live life if Jesus is King. Because that's what the kingdom means, that's what the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, as we're going to hear here, which is the same idea. What it means is what life looks like when Jesus is the king, and one day he's going to return, and he will be the king in a very final way. But even now, we can live as if Jesus is king, and the Sermon on the Mount gives us a glimpse of what that looks like.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:22] And the Sermon on the Mount begins with what we typically have come to call the beatitudes. And that's what you heard Amy read, all of these different statements that have kind of the same format. They all have, starting with the word blessed, and then you’ve got a group of people like the meek. Blessed are the meek, for they will, and then you have some kind of promise or reward. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. That's the pattern for which all of this goes. And Jesus starts off the Sermon on the Mount with eight of these, and then there's a bonus one afterwards that we'll talk about, but with eight statements.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:00] And here's where I want this to come full circle, that word that each of the Beatitudes starts with, the word blessed, it's not the normal Greek word that's used for blessing in the New Testament. Translators have kind of had a little bit of a hard time trying to figure out how exactly do we capture it. And blessed, it's not a bad translation, it's a fine translation, but it doesn't really fully capture the idea that Jesus is getting at. Some of you may have even heard some people instead of translating it blessed, translate it happy, because the word literally has to do with happiness. And so it might be something more like happy are the meek, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, or because they inherit the earth.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:44] But there's another word that I think actually more fully and more accurately represents what Jesus is saying here. Does anybody want to guess what it is? I already used it. Congratulations. All right, good. I thought that was going to be more effective than it was. You guys were like that was two whole minutes ago, we don't remember what you said. Congratulations. Scholars talk about that this is sort of the idea that Jesus is congratulating people on the situation in which they find themselves, that in essence, he's saying others should be jealous of you, that this is true of you.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:24] And here's the really strange thing that we're going to see, what we're going to see is that the things that Jesus wants to congratulate us about are not the things we would normally congratulate others about. It's strange, in fact, some people have called not only this, but the whole Sermon on the Mount Jesus' upside-down kingdom because it's so different than the values that we have, not only in modern America but just all over the world, it's so different that it's upside down. But you know what an even better title than Jesus' upside-down kingdom is, all right, somebody just said it. Jesus' right side up kingdom, we're the ones who are upside down. We're the ones who are off and we're invited to adjust to him.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:08] So it's going to be real simple what we do here, what we're going to do is we're going to walk through all eight of these beatitudes and all in your mind, what I want you to have as we go through these is, first of all, to get what Jesus is saying and secondly, to consistently just be asking yourself the question, that's a good question to ask any time we go through a passage in the Bible, which is how is God calling us to respond to this? But what we're going to see as we walk through these is we're going to see the values of Jesus and we're going to see that what Jesus treasures the world often despises.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:44] So let's jump right into it, let's start going through it. If you have a Bible, Matthew chapter 5, we already went through verses 1 and 2, we'll start in verse 3, and that's what I'll pull up here. The first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Or if we're substituting the word for blessed, we'd say...Yeah, now you got it, congratulations to the poor in spirit. And this is not a card you're going to find in the Hallmark store. This is not, we wouldn't congratulate people on being poor in anything. Like none of us wants to be poor, but even outside of just financial poverty, nobody ever is like, hey, congratulations, you had a poor performance on that test. Nobody ever got a bonus from their parents for poor grades or a bonus from their boss for a poor review, this is a word that we want to avoid. But even if you had to choose, if somebody said, all right, here's the deal, you can be poor financially, or you could be poor in spirit. You could be poor financially, but you could still have a lot of energy and passion and vitality, and spirit, or you could be poor in spirit but still have money. Many of us would say, well, I'd rather be poor financially, it's even worse to think about being poor in spirit, that that there's some kind of internal poverty going on here. This doesn't sound like something we should be congratulated on. Congratulations to those who are poor in spirit. And then he says, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And as a note, this is not only the reward he promises for the first beatitude, it's the reward he promises for the last Beatitude in verse 10, and so he sort of bookends this whole idea. There will be six other rewards in the middle of this, but the big idea here is that the people he's describing are those who are citizens of the kingdom over which Jesus is king, blessed are the poor in spirit.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:53] Let's try to figure this out. What are the poor in spirit? I think we get a clue of this through a thread in the Old Testament that really is most climaxed in something that King David wrote. King David wrote Psalm 51, it's a famous psalm after his adultery with Bathsheba, it's a psalm of repentance. And here's what he says in verse 17 of Psalm 51, he says, "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." And what David is saying here is, you know, he's the king, he's like, I got lots of bulls, I got lots of goats, I got lots of lambs, I could bring a lot of sacrifices. But, God, I know the sacrifice that you want, and the sacrifice that you want is a broken spirit. The sacrifice that God wanted was for David to be broken and in grief over his sin, and not just to try to cover it up with a good work or with a sacrifice. When Jesus says congratulations to the poor in spirit, he's speaking to those who know they are utterly lost without God intervening in some way. He's speaking to those who have abandoned all hope in their own intellect, their own morality, their own skillfulness or ingenuity or cleverness, he's speaking to those who know they are absolutely lost and broken and condemned unless God does something about the situation. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Congratulations, if you're poor in spirit. Do you know why Jesus is congratulating the poor in spirit? Because once you're poor in spirit, your heart is ready to be opened up to the salvation that God offers. No person ever experiences the grace that Jesus gives unless we're first poor in spirit. Because if we're not poor in spirit, we can handle it on our own. When we're poor in spirit, we're finally open to experience the goodness and grace that God brings through Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:16] So he starts off saying Congratulations to the poor in spirit, and it just goes downhill from there. Verse four, "Blessed are those who mourn." Congratulations to those of you who mourn, for they will be comforted. Now, quick question, this should be an easy one. Raise your hand if at some point in your life you have mourned. All right, all of us have, and a few of you don't raise your hands, and I get it. All right, fine, we'll get you someday to raise your hand. We all have mourned. You know what? I have never experienced somebody who is in mourning because a parent had died or because a friend had died or because they lost a job or something happened like that that brings us grief, I've never experienced somebody who is in mourning and who says to me, I'm going to see if I can drag this out as long as I can. When we mourn, we typically try to rush through it too quickly. We typically want to get done, this is not a fun state to be in when you're in grief, when you're mourning over something.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:23] And I wanted to say, even as we're talking about this, the last year and probably especially the last 4 to 6 months, it has just been a consistent season of grief for many of you. If you're pretty tuned in to our church family, you know, there's been a lot of memorial services here lately, there's been a lot of death and extended families and some of our church members. It has kind of been a season of it feels like outsized grief just because of how much of that is going on. So for some of you, this is very real right now. And there's a verse that I read almost every memorial service that I officiate, I read this verse from Ecclesiastes, it says, "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart." In other words, the author of Ecclesiastes says, do you want to get wiser? Go to funerals. Show up, hang around memorial services, hang around gravesides, hang around funerals, because death is the destiny of everyone and the living take it to heart. We recognize this, this is wisdom to be gained here.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:38] But in some ways, you could be like, why is he acting like this? Why is Jesus acting like this is a good thing? Like, yeah, we've all got to go through it, we've all got to mourn, why is he acting like it's a good thing? And I think the reason why he's acting like you should be congratulated if you're mourning is because that means that you are willing to be vulnerable enough to recognize that you need to be comforted. You're not stuffing it, you're not rushing through it, you're not pretending that you're okay on your own. You're saying, this is awful, I'm in grief; and Jesus says, congratulations, you will be comforted. And I just want to say, if you are if this is a season of grief for you right now, know that one of the things that Jesus is saying here is he is saying that God's heart is that he loves to comfort the brokenhearted. So if you're in grief, don't try to be tougher than your grief, don't try to just move forward. Jesus says congratulations if you're mourning, you're the kind of person that God loves to comfort.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:42] He goes on from here, verse 5, he says, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." And I got to be honest with this one, it kind of just seems like Jesus is trying to be funny. I don't know that he isn't, but this sort of seems like he's trying to be a little bit funny here in the way that he does this, because the meek not only don't inherit the Earth in our culture right now, the meek don't inherit anything in our culture right now. To be meek, the closest synonym might be humility. So to be meek is to be humble, but it's even a little bit more than that, meek people don't demand their own way.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:23] I don't know if any of you have ever been around an inheritance scuffle where somebody has died. Some of you are laughing maybe because you're just like, it's ugly when that happens, people are arguing over what they're going to get. Do you know who doesn't get their way? The meek. The meek don't get their way. Those who bulldoze others get their way. Those who bully others get their way. Those who say I'm getting what I'm owed get their way. Do you know who doesn't get their way? The meek. The meek don't even inherit what they are owed when they're on the phone with customer service. The meek certainly don't inherit, he's saying they're going to inherit the earth. Jesus is saying that one day he will return, he will be the final King, and he will in the fullest way inherit the earth. And he says, you know who's going to be ruling right alongside me? The meek, those who don't demand what they're owed, who don't demand their own way, those are the sorts of people that I want to say congratulations to. You're not getting ahead in this life, but you're getting ahead in the life to come.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:33] Then he goes on, this is one of the most intense ones to me. In verse 6 he says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness." And there's a little bit of debate amongst Bible scholars about precisely what Jesus is saying, because you could take this in two ways. You could say on the one hand, maybe what he's saying is he's speaking of those who have a deep longing to live more righteous lives. So I'm talking about personal righteousness, that we're hungering and we're thirsting and we're longing and we're craving that we would be living more righteously. And a second way to take this is that Jesus might be saying, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for the world to be a more righteous place, for there to be more justice and less injustice, less sin and more righteousness. Now, both of these are good things, and they would be accurate things for us as believers in Jesus to long for and to crave. But in Matthew's Gospel, almost certainly the first one is the one that he's talking about. That he's saying blessed, or congratulations to those who hunger and thirst to live more righteously in your life, to live more rightly before God. That's the way that Matthew uses the word righteousness throughout the Gospel of Matthew, and specifically in the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, it's going to come up again in verse 10 in the last beatitude.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:00] So he says, congratulations, if you are craving to live a more righteous life. Once again, this is not how you get ahead in the United States in 2023, that you're preoccupied, that you're dissatisfied with the gap between who you are and who God's calling you to be. Quick question, does anybody here ever get really sick of yourself? Anybody? All right, some of you are raising your hands and you're like, yeah, I get it. And I'm not saying sick of yourself where you're like, I wish my hair looked better or something like that, not the surface stuff. Sometimes we look at the gap between who we are and who we know God has called us to be, and we're just discouraged. Just like, why does this gap still exist? Some of you, maybe last week when we had our Easter service, if you were here, sometimes we have these moments where it just feels like everything becomes clear and we're honoring Jesus, we're seeing baptisms, we're remembering the victory of Jesus through the resurrection, we're all excited, we're singing, everything becomes clear. The distractions of the world become unappealing and just everything, and we're like, yes, this is real life, this is how I'm going to live in light of King Jesus and the victory of Jesus by the resurrection, and I'm going to spread the message. And then like two days later, we're like, where did that go? And once again, the distractions of the world just get in the way and take over, and sin has a stronger pull on our hearts, and we just get sick of it.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:40] But I want you to know Jesus isn't just saying blessings to those who are discouraged that the gap exists, he's saying a blessing, a congratulations, on those who see the gap and are passionately looking to close that gap, who are doing something that he's going to say later on in this same sermon on the Mount when he says if you're really looking to fight against sin in your life, cut off your hand, gouge out your eye. He is not speaking literally, but he's saying that's the kind of passion that you would remove things from your life that are getting in the way, You're hungry and you're thirsty for righteousness and you want to see the kind of life that you're living before God, where you're walking in step with him, and the hypocrisy is no longer there.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:27] And if any of you are hearing this and you're like man, I'm not going to claim that that's my whole life. But yes, right now in my heart, I'm hungering and thirsting, I want that. Look at what Jesus says, he says, you will be filled. You're not always going to be hungry; you're not always going to be thirsty, and one day you're going to be full. Because Philippians chapter 1, verse six, says, "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion." Congratulations if you're hungry and thirsty for personal righteousness because one day you'll be full.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:01] He keeps going, in verse 7 he says, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." And the merciful, in some ways this is similar to the meek, but the merciful are those who don't demand that they get everything that they are owed, whether what they're owed is an apology or money or some kind of obedience, they're people who let others off the hook in certain situations. Blessed are those who let others off the hook.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:33] I know I keep asking this, but is this the path to get ahead in the United States in 2023? This is not the path to get ahead. You've got to hold people's feet to the fire, you don't let them off the hook. Jesus says congratulations if you're somebody that, not because you just can't handle conflict, but out of your own goodness and mercy because you've been shown mercy from God, out of your own goodness and mercy, you sometimes let people off the hook. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. And even this is a hint to the fact that our mercy toward others is born out of God's mercy toward us. And I just want to ask you a quick question. Is anybody in here glad God's merciful toward you? Man, where would you be if God wasn't merciful toward you? Where would any of us be if God gave us what we deserve for everything we had ever done? Just let that sink in for a second. You would not be here. None of us would be here. Thank God for his mercy. And Jesus says congratulations to those of you who are merciful.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:44] He goes on, we're on to number 6 in verse 8, he says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." And when he talks about being pure in heart, he's talking about the idea of sort of integrity and the idea that you're unwilling to compromise, you're unwilling to sin just to get ahead. And once again, this is not a prescription for getting ahead in our world right now. The pure in heart don't necessarily advance up the corporate ladder the way that those who are willing to play the game do.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:23] I'm not going to get super political with this, but one of the things that as I get a little bit older kind of discourages me is it's become very hard for me to believe that anybody who gets themselves in the position to be elected president is somebody who is pure in heart. Because the amount of people that you need to have on your side, if you have any kind of a shot at the presidency or really in many positions of political influence, it's hard to imagine you could get there by saying, no, I'm not compromising, No, I'm sticking to my guns. No, I'm unwilling to play the game. I'm unwilling to tell them what they want to hear. I'm unwilling to do something shady. It's not typically the pure in heart that gets elected to high office, and it's not typically the pure of heart that even ascends very far in different companies because others are willing to play the game, others are willing to compromise. So Jesus says congratulations to the pure in heart. And some of you, if you're really looking to live that out right now, you're like, why are you congratulating me? This isn't going that great. I'm getting passed over for promotions. Others aren't including me and stuff because they know I'm not just going to go along with it. Why are you congratulating me? And he's saying I'm congratulating you because you will see God. They might see the promotion, they might see the White House, they might see a lot of money, do you know what you're going to see? You are going to see God because you are in tune with his kingdom. Blessed are the pure, congratulations to the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:59] Beatitude number seven in verse 9, he says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." And this is one that you might look at and you might say, well, no, this is one where Jesus and our world are in sync. We think highly of peacemakers, nobody's going to say peacemaking is a bad thing. So maybe this is something where Jesus is in tune with our culture. But once again, what we have to keep asking is, does being a peacemaker get you ahead? And I think on a large scale, it would be hard to say that it does.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:33] In fact, you know, one of the things that I'm grateful for? One of the things I'm really grateful for is that on our cable news channels, we have so many peacemakers. I thank God for the number of people on Fox News and CNN that are constantly telling us, hey, just think about it from a different perspective. Thank God we have those peacemakers to bring us together. This is not how you're successful in cable news, this is not how you're successful on YouTube, this is not how you're successful as an influencer. How you get success in those ways is by choosing a side and then roasting the other side so savagely that people keep coming back to you. You don't get ahead by being a peacemaker. In fact, some of you have even noticed in your own lives on a smaller scale, not just like if you're trying to be a YouTuber, but on a small scale, if you have two friends that are in conflict, you usually don't get ahead by being a peacemaker. It can be an unsettling position to be in when you're not just taking somebody's side.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:45] I remember, this just came into my mind this morning, this memory from years and years ago, it wasn't here, it was when we were still living in Oregon that somebody came up to me. I was one of the pastors on staff at the church, and somebody came up and sort of told me a situation that he was in where he was in conflict with somebody else. And he clearly thought that he was doing the right thing and that the other person was in the wrong. And he got to the end of explaining the situation to me, and the first thing that I said is, Yeah, I see where they're coming from. Some of you are laughing because you're like, whoa, that must not have been pleasant. And then the next thing that he asked me, first of all, he didn't say congratulations for being a peacemaker. The next thing that he asked me is he said, so do you think I was wrong? And those are the moments, you know this, where you're just like, what? And I said, maybe, yeah. That was uncomfortable, sometimes if you're a peacemaker, you're making nobody happy. Because in the situation he was describing, if I was talking to the other person, you know what I probably would have had to say to them? The same thing. I probably would have had to say, no, I get where he's coming from, he's got a point also, and you need to adjust also. When you're doing this, if you're trying to broker peace between friends, you often end up not being the most popular person in the situation. But Jesus says congratulations, congratulations, if you're willing not just to choose a side with your friends, not just to choose a side on these big issues that we talk about, and not just to villainize the other side, congratulations if you're peacemakers because peacemakers will be called children of God. And they're called Children of God because they're reflecting God's character. God is the ultimate peacemaker. Amen? And Good Friday, we were celebrating God as a peacemaker that he sent his son to die on the cross to make peace between God and man. God is a peacemaker. He says if you're a peacemaker, congratulations, because you might not be called the CEO, you might not be called everybody's favorite person, you might not be called the most popular YouTuber, but you will be called Children of God.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:06] And finally, the last Beatitude in verse 10, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness." Once again, just as he said, hunger and thirst for righteousness. Now, he says, if you're persecuted, if you experience opposition because you're looking to live a righteous life, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." It's the same thing he said back in verse 3 with those who are poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. If you are going to look to do what's right, what God has called you to do, there will be opposition. And again, we look at this, we're like, nobody should be congratulated when they're persecuted, nobody should be congratulated when others are ostracizing them. And there are some of you that you can think of very tangible ways, you can think of friends that you've lost and ways that you've been insulted because you have looked to do what's right before God. Jesus says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." And you start to feel this cumulative weight of what we've talked about here. Jesus values things, Jesus treasures things that the world despises. Jesus says congratulations to things that we would give a sympathy card to. This is all upside down, this is all reversed, Jesus wants to congratulate us, but what he's congratulating us about is not the kind of stuff that we would think we should be congratulated on.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:42] And then Jesus gives this bonus one, in verses 11 and 12, I'll put it up on the screen in a minute. Some people think that verses 11 and 12 are just expanding on verse ten and that that's all sort of the same beatitude, some people think, no, this is a ninth beatitude. Here's the thing, Jesus does something, before I put it on the screen, I want you to know Jesus does something different in verses 11 and 12 that's going to be really important for us to notice. So this is going to be participatory, actually, in a moment, I'm going to put the verses up there and I'll read them. But what I want you to look for is I want you to look for what's different about this one. That there are two really significant differences, and they're both in verse 11, I want you to look for what is different about what he does in verses 11 and 12. He says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Dan Franklin: [00:33:46] So let me just ask the question. What do you notice in verse 11, what's different than the other Beatitudes? All right, yeah, somebody said it right away. Instead of Blessed are those, it's Blessed are you. That's kind of the surface difference, there's one even more substantive difference. Did anybody notice what the difference is in this one? I'm hearing people say it, but you got to say it louder, own it. Because of me. Blessed are you, congratulations are you, when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me? That wasn't present in the other eight statements. You could have looked at the other eight statements and say they're just generic ways about how you should live and you should be meek and you should hunger and thirst for righteousness and you should be merciful. Jesus now is making this intensely personal, he's saying, if you are persecuted because of me.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:51] Quick side note. Let's say one Sunday I got up here and I said, you know, there are people who are out to get me. There are people who are opposed to me, and they're trying to take me down as a pastor, and they're trying to take down what I'm trying to do. And here's what, as a congregation, here's what I want all of you to know. What I want you to know is that your reward in heaven is all dependent on whether or not you side with me when this conflict happens. If I were to say that the elders should fire me right then. Like I'm looking at you, Stan. And Stan's, like, no problem, as if he needed an excuse. I'm just kidding, everything's good. But that would be totally inappropriate if I said that, hopefully, what you would say is, who does this guy think he is? My reward in heaven is based on what I do about him, I would never say that. Jesus says that right here, he says, blessed are you if you take all of this difficulty because of me. Who in the world does Jesus think he is? Who does he think he is? Yeah, he thinks he's the King. He's talking about the kingdom, he thinks he is the King, and he thinks he's the center of this kingdom.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:08] If we were going through the Gospel of John, do you know what we learn about who Jesus thinks he is? He thinks he is the bread of life, who's coming to bring satisfaction to our spiritual hunger and thirst. That he is the light of the world, and if we follow him, we won't walk in darkness. That he is the gate for the sheep, and that we come in only through him. That he is the good Shepherd, and he cares for the sheep that are called by his name. That he is the resurrection and the life, and nobody conquers death except through him. That he is the way and the truth and the life, and nobody comes to the Father except through him. He believes he is the true vine, and the only way we're attached to God is through him. That's who Jesus thinks he is. This is the center of everything, Jesus is going to go on in the Sermon on the Mount several times to say, hey, you've heard it, said, but here's what I say to you. And Jesus is going to end the Sermon on the Mount by saying, the test of wisdom is whether or not you put into practice my words. Who does Jesus think he is? He thinks he's the King. He thinks everything revolves around him.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:21] And here's why this is so important, I said one of the questions I want us to have in mind all throughout this, is to ask the question, how do we respond to this? Because you may have noticed it in the Beatitudes, there is not a single command at all. There's no point where Jesus says, do this. You might feel like, well, it's kind of implied, isn't he kind of saying, be meek, and hunger and thirst for righteousness, and be merciful? Sort of, but the bigger picture of what Jesus is doing is he's saying, this is what people look like when they treat me as the King. In the same way that Paul, with the Fruit of the Spirit, is saying, hey, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, this is what you look like if you walk with the Spirit. Jesus is saying these eight qualities, this is what you look like if you treat Jesus as King.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:15] So I want to protect against something right now, because the temptation, and it's not a crazy temptation that some of you are like, all right, there were eight, maybe there's one that stood out to you, maybe merciful stood out to you. And you're like, all right, I really need to work on mercy, I really need to be more merciful. If you do that, you're in danger of skipping a step. And the first thing that I want to say is don't skip to the kingdom without bowing the knee to the King. Don't skip his head and say, hey, what I really need to do is I really need to work on mercy. What I really need to do is I need to work on meekness. What I really need to do is that I need to admit my feelings more in my grief. No, if there's a gap between who you are right now and what you read in these beatitudes, the biggest thing that all of us need to do is we need to go to the King and we need to make sure he really is our King. We need to bow the knee to him and say, King Jesus, there's a gap right now between the mercy I'm giving and the mercy I've received, I don't want that. There's a gap right now, I am demanding my way and I'm not meek in the way that I really should be. King Jesus, I'm coming to you, and I'm not a peacemaker, I choose the side and I just try to please people with that, that we come to Jesus and we recognize that the point of all of this is that we're drawing near to the Ling.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:35] Do you guys know a lot of people who aren't Christians like the Sermon on the Mount? A lot of people are like, this is good, we should live this way. Do you know what they want? They want the kingdom without the King. Don't skip the King. The most important way any of us could respond to these passages is to say, I've got to go to the King, and I've got to make sure I'm treating him as the King, and I need to bow the knee and I need to repent of different things, and I need to make sure that he's the king over every area of my life. Don't skip the step of going to the King.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:10] And then once you've gone to the King, the next really good thing that you could do is simply ask the question, What is my next step of obedience? Please don't leave today saying be more merciful, be more merciful, be more merciful. Please don't do that, that is not going to be very effective. Instead, if you've gone to the King, you can ask the question, what's my next step of obedience in mercy? And if you do that, God might bring it to mind right away. Some of you are already ahead of me on this, you're like, oh, shoot, I got somebody I got to apologize to, or I've got an apology that I've got to accept. Some of you right now are like, man, I have not been a peacemaker, I have a specific situation where I was asked to be and I just chose a side to make them happy, to say it's better to have one happy with me than both unhappy with me. I need to repent, and I need to go back in and just be a peacemaker in that situation. Some of you are like, I don't really hunger and thirst for righteousness. The next step of obedience is not just to sort of wait and hope that that happens in you, but as you're repenting, as you're bringing that before King Jesus to then say, what is my next step in removing something from my life that's going to keep me from that? Maybe there's an app that you need to delete from your phone because it tempts you to lust or it tempts you to anger and you're like, time to get rid of it. And just pushing on that and waiting for the delete button to come back is going to feel like agony. And then, you know, it asks you like four different times, are you sure you want to delete this app? That's the devil right there. He's just like, no, you don't want to do it. And you're like, yes, delete. And they're like are you really sure you want to delete it? Yes, yes, I'm really sure. Do you have to delete this or is there another option? No, I want to delete it. Maybe that's just your next step of obedience. That's not going to solve everything, but that is me saying I'm willing to cut off my hand, I'm willing to gouge out my eye, I'm willing to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Don't try to skip to the end, ask the question as you're coming before King Jesus, as you're wanting to live in the joy of walking with him as your King. What is just the next step that King Jesus is calling you to do in obedience?

Dan Franklin: [00:42:27] And remember, as we look not to skip the step, remember that the center of all of this is that we're putting our lives in the hands of one that we trust. We celebrate this every Sunday, but this past weekend, in a pointed way, we celebrated that Jesus went to the cross for us, we can trust him. Jesus was raised from the dead; we can trust him. So as we keep our eyes fixed on him, what he's calling us to do seems less and less unreasonable and more and more joyful.

Dan Franklin: [00:43:00] And so here's what we're going to do next in the service. We're going to do something that allows us in a really beautiful way to fix our eyes on Jesus, we're going to take communion together. So if you're going to be helping with communion, you can head to the back as Tom and the team prepare it right now. When we take communion, it's a time of remembrance, it's a time of focusing our minds on Jesus and remembering that his body was broken for us and that's why we eat that bread, that his blood was shed for us and that's why we drink that cup. That we fix our eyes on Jesus, that we remember Him and how trustworthy he is as we look to walk forward in obedience.

Dan Franklin: [00:43:45] We're going to receive the elements as the band leads us in a song during this time, and just hold them toward the end where we'll all be able to take them together. But let's prepare our hearts and let's focus our eyes on Jesus, on the King, who's calling us to fix our eyes on him.

Dan Franklin: [00:44:01] Let me pray for us now. Father, thank you that we have Jesus. Thank you, that even when we lose out on things in this life, that ours is the kingdom of heaven. Thank you that you give us hope when we're hopeless. And thank you that you don't despise us when we're poor in spirit and when we're grieving. Thank You that You forgive us when our hunger and thirst for righteousness is weak. Thank you that you show us mercy when you call in what we owe you. Thank you for your grace to us, Father, we want more of Jesus, we want more of his leading and joy in our lives, we want to walk more closely in step with him. We want the world to see the light of Jesus through us. We pray that during this time that your heart will be honored and that you lead us to trust you more and more with however you're calling us to respond. We pray this in the name of our Lord, King Jesus. Amen.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848