We need to look at ourselves in the light. Jesus is the light of the world.
Hesham Shehab: Rest in Jesus’ Hands, He is in Control
Sermon text preached by Rev. Hesham Shehab
Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020
Matthew 5: 1-12
The Sermon on the Mount
1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
How many of you have heard preaching on the beatitude?
The question I raise today: Are the beatitudes law or gospel. Raise your hand for law. Raise your hand for a gospel. Well, they sound like gospel, don’t They? we’re blessed or happy and rejoicing, we’re going to get rewards. All these things sound pretty good until we compare ourselves with reality.
Are you really poor in spirit?
We have many examples in the Bible about what to be poor in spirit!
Remember the pharisee and the tax-collector?
The Pharisee came to the temple thinking that he is better than everyone and said that he prays, fasts, and he is not like that tax collector. The tax-collector could not even raise his head up, and He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner. That’s was poverty in spirit.
When Peter saw Jesus fishing miracle, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
The Roman centurion when he asked Jesus to heal his servant, he said: I am not worthy of you to enter my home…Just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
The prodigal son, when he came back home after squandering his inheritance, he said to his father: I am no longer worthy to be your son. Make me your servant.
This is the attitude we need to come to God with.
We do not come to God with our demands. Oh God, you are lucky to have me…this is why you owe me this favor.
We come to God with our brokenness.
Do you count others better than yourself? Do you put others ahead of you? Are you really humble?
Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness? Are you merciful? Are you pure at heart? Have you been, or are you being persecuted for your Christian faith?
Now maybe we can say yes to one or two of these.
I have a friend, a pastor in his 80s now… Whenever we meet, he recalls a time when this country was much more spiritual and moral than it is now. And he hungers and thirsts to have those days back again. And I suppose you are with him there.
I can say myself as a political observer, the American political society, that is supposed to lead the nation, has lost decency and civility. The first presidential debate was a striking proof of that.
Nevertheless, let’s look at these beatitudes.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, blessed are you, when people insult you and persecute you falsely and say all kinds of evil against you because of Jesus.
Now this is where we either hide our Christianity or in this day and age we’re persecuted. And I don’t mean that we’ll be nailed to a cross, although this has happened sometimes. Like what happened in Syria and North Iraq, when ISIS crucified Christians… or Turks crucified young Christian women after raping them in 1915.
Today, there is a war going on between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The specter of the Genocide that took place in 1915 still haunts Armenians today, and they are fighting back by all means.
On the other hand, persecution may be subtle. They may make fun of us. They may be hostile towards us with this transgender thing and gay marriages. Politicians want us to be compromising and open to this except other points of view, other than our own right.
Non-Christians portray themselves as being inclusive, everyone, and everything ought to be accepted, except when you disagree with them after they have power.
They’re pretty much like Muslims, Muslims come to the West in small groups.
So, they say we’re just a minority. Leave us alone. They gain a little power and they say, we’d like to be accepted, they gain a little more power, they say, we need to be accepted. They take a little more power and it’s their way or the highway.
Our friend, Darrell Pack, who helps me with evangelism in this neighborhood says that at Morraine Valley Community College, Palestinians act as if they own it.
It’s very much like the Arabian parable and the camel and the sand storm. The Bedouin set up a tent. The camel asked him. Can I put my head in? OK. Then the camel asked, can I put my hump in?
… By this time, the Arab was being pushed and pushed and pushed. Finally, the camel brought his tail in and he looked at the Arabs, said, what are you doing in my tent?
This is where we find ourselves today. This country was founded primarily, mostly by Christians and based on Christian and Biblical principles. The founding fathers said, especially Jefferson, that the Bible ought to be the center of every public school. It ought to be taught and understood… the idea of separation of church and state meant that the government would form no real church of its own… like they had back in England, when the Puritans, led by Cromwell toppled the monarchy in the 17th C… and this is what they were fighting against so that there would be complete freedom of religion.
This has all been turned upside down, inside out. You. And I probably, I say for myself, I’m speaking for you where you hunger and thirst for a time that our forefathers wanted and a time when real meaning of the constitution was understood.
But when we want that, we will be persecuted.
However, before we have any tears in our eyes and have a pity party, we ought to stop and ask yourself, how did these changes take place? Did these people vote themselves in. Do you know of any president or any Congressman who has ever voted himself in office?
No. You and I, or people like us, have voted these people in a lot of times. We often say it’s the lesser of two evils, right? I do not think that many of us are hungering for righteousness when we vote in such politicians.
So… are we merciful? Are we standing up? We have the pro-life marches from time to time, but that’s about it.
Do we stand up and say: Hey, I am an American, and I believe in the constitution. This is what we need to have.
Getting back to my first question.
The beatitudes are law. They’re not gospel. What is the law? It is in three parts
Part one is the law for society…where we won’t murder. We won’t steal, we won’t commit adultery. We won’t slander. And some other things for society. The second thing is a mirror for us, Christians. We look at the law and we look at ourselves and we say, you know, I’m not perfect. I need to repent. I need to be doing better.
But you need to look into the mirror in the light. If I look at myself into the mirror in the dark, I may see that I have hair, and I am more handsome than Yul Brynner.
We need to look at ourselves in the light. Jesus is the light of the world. His perfect righteousness brings our sins into the light.
And the third part has rules to guide us and live by.
Do we do this out of compunction, out of force or out of love and gratitude. Take your pick.
Gratitude. We should do it out of gratitude, because we are Christians and gratitude because Jesus Christ paid the price for us to be Christians. And gratitude because we know God loves us, and the Father would bring us home, even if we were filthy sinners… gratitude because we know the Holy spirit comes to us and helps us and keeps us going and gratitude. We follow the example of Jesus who taught us to walk now to bless those who insult us to turn the other cheek, to those who persecute us and to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
And then to pray that God’s Kingdom come. And as Martin Luther said, the good and gracious kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer.
How does the kingdom of God come?
God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly father gives us his Holy spirit, so that by his grace, we believe his Holy word and lead godly lives here on earth and in eternity.
One last word: Whatever happens on November 3rd and after that, know that God is in control, and He is the only one who could turn evil into good.
We pray for our nation today and the leadership, and put America in Jesus’ hands.
In the name of the father, son and Holy spirit. Amen.
Read more from Hesham Shehab… https://xpian.news/?s=hesham&submit=Search…
Adjunct Faculty at College of DuPage, Formerly Adjunct Faculty at American University of Beirut and Pastor at Peace Lutheran Church Lombard, IL Name pronounciation: HI-shahm SHI-hab Hebrews 12: 4 & Philippians 1: 29