Matthew 5:13-22

Matthew 5:13-22
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Psalm 1

Psalm 1
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Matthew 5:1-12

Matthew 5:1-12
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The Successful Christian Life

As I write this, I am in pain. I’ve lived in constant pain for over twenty years. I tell you this, not to draw attention to myself, but because I want you to understand that my faith in my Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, isn’t altered by circumstances – I am no “sunshine patriot” when it comes to my God.

My circumstances are the pulpit from which I desire to proclaim His glory and grace. A successful Christian life has nothing to do with conditions, adverse or favorable. Jesus Christ will not only prove to be successful in saving humanity from sin and its consequences, but He has also proved successful in bringing joy to many hearts through great trials.

Paul is a perfect example of this. His letter to the Philippians is the “free outflow of tender love and gratitude, and full of joy and cheerfulness in the face of life and death. It is like his midnight hymn of praise in the dungeon of Philippi. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice’ (Phil. 4:4). This is the key-note of the letter. It proves that a healthy Christian faith, far from depressing and saddening the heart, makes truly happy and contented even in prison.”

This happiness isn’t found in human religion or philosophy. Men’s most significant efforts to find life and peace have left them restless and unsatisfied. “If anyone,” challenges F.W. Farrar, “compare the spirit of the best-known classic writers in their adversity with that which was habitual to the far deeper wrongs and far deadlier sufferings of Paul – if he will compare the Epistle to the Philippians with the ‘Tristia’ of Ovid, the letters of Cicero from exile, or the treatise which Seneca dedicated to Polybius from his banishment in Corsica – he may see, if he will, the difference which Christianity has made in the happiness of man.”

Do you want to live a successful Christian life? If so, it depends on you and you alone. If you choose to find your joy in God and seek Him out in His word, you will be a successful Christian. How do I know? Because God will never let anyone who seeks Him down.

How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus no longer I see!
Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flow’ rs,
Have all lost their sweetness to me.

The midsummer sun shines but dim,
The fields strive in vain to look gay;
But when I am happy in Him
December’s as pleasant as May.

Content with beholding His face,
My all to His pleasure resigned;
No changes of season or place,
Would make any change in my mind.

While blessed with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
And prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there.

While blessed with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
And prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there.

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The “Ministry”

A father has three sons, and he is proud of their prospects. He boasts to a friend,

“Johnny is going into the military, Peter is going into medicine, and Jack is going into the ministry.”

Three boys are going into three professions. Ministry became a profession after the well of pure truth became contaminated when the “church fathers” mixed the Word of God with philosophy and paganism. People began to treat the ministry, and still do, as if it were a profession you “go into.”

The ministry, however, isn’t a profession you “go into,” neither is it something from which you “retire.” Service to God in this dispensation of grace is characterized by two things:

FIRST: “If I be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy…” Philippians 2:17.

Self-sacrifice is the first characteristic. Having the willingness to be utterly spent on behalf of others, that is a ministry, and this only requires one thing – a love for people. The Greek word we translate love is “agape.” Agape is defined as a “complex emotion arousing appreciation or delight in and desire for the presence of its object, as well as to please and promote its welfare. To be distinguished from affection…which is aroused by the qualities of its object, while love may go out to the utterly unworthy…to also be distinguished from passion between the sexes” (Greek Lexicon and Concordance).

SECOND: “You heard of and knew the grace of God in truth…As you learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow-slave, who is for you a faithful dispenser of Christ…a slave of Christ…always laboring fervently for you in prayers, in order that you may stand mature and filled in all the will of God…he hath a great zeal for you…” Colossians 1:7,8; 4:12,13

Ministry is the dispensing of Christ as He is revealed in the rightly divided word. Epaphras wasn’t an Apostle, that is, one who had a commission from God with the accompanying signs; he wasn’t a “pastor” of a “church” who gave “sermons”; he wasn’t a “sweaty preacher” who marched around on a stage making emotional appeals. Epaphras wasn’t a guy trying to make a name and an image for himself in the “ministry.” He was a simple guy who passed on truth.

Paul says the Colossians LEARNED the word of the truth of the gospel from Epaphras. He sat down with people in their homes, one at a time, maybe ten at a time, and patiently and lovingly went over Scripture with them. Epaphras taught the Colossians about God, Jesus Christ, God’s plan for the future, their role in that future, and how they should live their lives in this dispensation of grace while waiting for that future Government to come. Epaphras didn’t give them religion, ceremonies, or “church” membership forms, but he gave them the Word of God rightly divided. 

SUMMING UP: Ministry in this dispensation of grace is a quiet, self-sacrificing, prayerful, patient, teaching ministry. Anyone who has a hunger for the word and a desire to pass it on can do it. You don’t need eloquence, stage presence, or a certain kind of public persona.

To conclude, the ministry for today is:

1. A pouring out of yourself – the only qualification is love.

2. A dispensing of Christ – the only requirement is knowing what you’re talking about, and this can only come through diligent study of God’s word.

You never “go into” this service and you never “retire” from it. That’s the difference between service to God and a job.

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Matthew 4:12-5:2

Matthew 4:12-5:2

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