Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blessed Are You

After a very special time of worship Brian Muecke, executive director of Covenant Park Bible Camp, shared with us about the good things that God has done at the camp these past years. “Faith in Action” is the theme for 2008 at Covenant Park, based on verses from James 2:14-17.

Cheryl Borndal led several youth in an entertaining skit on why kids go to camp. Eric Borndal stated it was his desire and goal to see 50 young people from our church participate in camp this summer. For a relatively small church, we sent an impressive 38 kids to camp last summer.

Scripture readings were from Psalm 121 and John 3:1-17

Pastor Brad Shannon delivered a message on The Beatitudes this morning beginning with a story about an incident which he witnessed in a restaurant on a Sunday afternoon while he was in college. A waitress had the misfortune of accidentally spilling a gallon of thousand island dressing onto the head, face and chest of a man in a suit. Being dressed up on a Sunday, one could infer that this man and his family had just come from church, but his behavior resonated anything but Christian character. His rage included cutting and belittling insults, and the demand that the restaurant purchase him a new $350 suit.

Pastor Brad underscored that we, as Christians, are supposed to be different.

In Matthew 5:1-10 Jesus begins his first recorded sermon with the qualities that distinguish a follower of God.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of God.” Happy are you when you discover you are spiritually bankrupt. This is the starting point. As Isaiah declared upon seeing the Almighty God in Isaiah 6, “Woe to me! I am undone.” When pride has been stripped away, we can only then begin to recognize our need of God.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” This is the second internal reality. When our hearts are broken, we can begin to be instructed of God. As David wrote in Psalm 51, God cherishes “a broken and contrite heart.”

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Meekness is not passive, is not weakness, Brad said. He compared the meek to bridled horses. It is an attitude of heart that is fostered in a manner very different from self-help books. It involves absolute surrender to God.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.” This is also an inward matter. Sooner or later we must all learn that the things of this earth cannot satisfy this deep hunger. We are to hunger for the things of God. Only when we have this hunger will our lives truly begin to make a difference.

Christianity is not behavior modification, it begins with internal renovation.

The first behavior change that others see is revealed in this fifth beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

This is followed by “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Purity of heart means “what you see is what you get.” Again citing David, “What God desires is truth in the inmost parts.”

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” There is a difference between thermometers and thermostats. Thermometers adjust to the room. Thermostats, on the other hand, change the temperature of the room. They adjust the room. As Christians, we are not called to be like the world, reflecting the world. Our presence here is intended to change the world.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”

We have been blessed. And it is our privilege as God’s people to be part of the fellowship of the unashamed.

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