Ed Alexander - Matthew 5 - Mudgee, Australia - 2016

Matthew, 5:1-12, it was a long time after I started in the Work that I used these verses. In the States, forty years ago, people started to say, “Have a good day.” It meant nothing, it was just like a parrot. I wondered if Jesus explained what He meant in that same sermon on the mount. So I began to look at it with that same thought in mind. These qualities Jesus talked about that make us happy. “Blessed” is more than a momentary happiness. It is a deep feeling of contentment, a deep feeling of blessedness.



When I was praying, I got to thinking about my parents. I often feel that words cannot express the gratitude I feel for godly parents. In a lot of ways, my parents are as alive to me today as they were when they were alive. There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t remember what they said and taught us. Nehemiah was a man willing to draw a clear line. It was where very clear lines were drawn. My parents were not afraid to make us unhappy. They were not afraid to make us understand that we children were not as important as what was right and wrong.



At fourteen years, I was very rebellious. My parents called me into the living room. Not once did Dad threaten any of the five of us. Whatever Dad said, he would do, he did it. Dad told me calmly, “You are fourteen years old, old enough to make your way in life. If you want to stay home, you can stay home, but you will fit into the rules of the house. If you don’t want to do that, you are free to get established and we will help you get established." That was not a threat, it was just the way it was. I am so grateful for the blessing of having parents willing to say what they meant and mean what they say.



Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Jesus was talking about poverty of spirit, not natural poverty. Natural poverty does not necessarily bring spiritual blessing. I have worked in Third World countries, and saw poverty is not a blessing unless it moves people to seek something greater. Spiritual poverty is always a blessing. What did Jesus say about being poor?



Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Matthew 7:11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” The spirit of poverty is just understanding, "I don’t have what I need and I cannot get it in my own strength or with my own labour. I am not worthy." "Okay, Ed, you are unworthy. Now forget it and get on with doing what needs to be done." The devil wants us to take that feeling of unworthiness to use as an excuse not to do God’s will. It doesn’t matter what our past has been, whether victorious or not, we can never repay that. We must accept, “I am unworthy, but I can be willing.” That is the spirit of poverty.  


 

We read about prayer in Luke 11, the man that had visitors come to his house late at night and he had nothing to give them. The stores were closed and he went to his neighbour. He must have had a lot of confidence in him. At midnight he pounded on his door. “I am in bed, my family is asleep.” “But I have visitors.” The neighbour gave to him, not because he was his friend, but because of his insistence. He wouldn’t give way. He wasn’t getting any sleep so he got up to give him what he needed. That is the spirit we want to go into prayer with. We are not worthy, but we are needy. We come before God in our weakness, but we are needy and God respects that. He that asks, knocks and seeks. You don’t ask if you already know. Men don’t like to ask directions, but asking makes it clear. You don’t know. He that asketh, receiveth.



You only knock if you don’t have right to enter. When you get home from school, do you knock? We didn’t, we just walked in. The neighbour kids did knock, because we had a right and they didn’t. We knock because we understand we need what God has and we are at His mercy to receive what He has. You seek because you can’t find it.  That is the spirit of being honest enough to accept that we need help and then be willing to ask for it and seek it.



Verse 4 speaks of mourning. These verses are all with the thought of preparing us for Heaven. I was going to see how many times the word “Heaven” is mentioned in these three chapters. These things are heavenly things. That was because the Jews were expecting to see the Messiah, a natural king, but Jesus said, “I am not a natural king.”  What makes you mourn? Spiritually, sin is what makes us mourn. When we do something we know we should not have done, when we are honest enough with ourselves to realize, “I should not have done that,” then we see the effect it has had on someone else, we mourn. That is the mourning Jesus was talking about and the comfort that there is in forgiveness and there is cleansing.



The consequences of sin cannot be taken away. I have got numerous scars on my arm but there is only one scar I can tell you about. When I was five years old, I took most of the skin off my knuckle. The scars are there, but I don’t remember why. When God forgives us, the consequences of our sin remain and we can go on and have peace in our heart and over the years we will forget what caused the scar.



When David sinned he lost his son. That son died, an immediate consequence of his sin, but the long-term consequence was, maybe, greater.  “The sword will never depart from your house.” You go down the years and see the tragic consequences of one major mistake. His sons: Amnon, Adonijah, Absalom, all of them died unnecessary, violent deaths. It is a very normal thing, that his sons lost respect. That was the consequence of David’s sin. All sorts of unrighteous things developed. God forgave him and we have those wonderful Psalms, but God didn’t take away the consequences. He mourned, but God comforted him.  



Jesus talked about cutting off your hand and plucking out your eyes. I have a very good friend who lost his hand in an accident. There are some things he used to do that he cannot do now. He does what he can. When we are willing to take steps to deny ourselves, there will be things we feel the loss of all the days of our life. But Jesus said, and this is our comfort, “It is profitable for thee that one of thy members perish and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” We have been hearing a lot about self-denial. There are things in relationships we have to say, “No,” to, but God is faithful and God will comfort and God will bless us.



Verse 5, “Blessed are the meek.” The world thinks of meekness as like a man that is afraid of his own shadow. That is not meekness at all. That wasn’t Moses. He was the meekest man then. That wasn’t Jesus. He was the meekest. Meekness is the quality of not defending ourselves, being willing to take wrong and not defend ourselves.


 

I Peter 2:21-23, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps, Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” When people spoke very unkindly to Jesus, He didn’t respond, and when He suffered, when the mistreatment went beyond words, He didn’t threaten. Jesus could have said, “You just wait until the judgment day."  What He said was, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That is meekness. If a man hits you on the right cheek, give him your left. The beauty about that is the fight stops there.



Mexicans are pretty laid back until you get them mad. There are a lot of people in the graveyard that would be still walking around if they had been a little bit meeker. When you are meek, there is no fight and more than that, Jesus did it because He loved us. If we have the love of God in us, we will take suffering and reproach in the hope that someday things will be different.


 

Verse 6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Verse 20, “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter the kingdom of heaven.”  What it was, was an outward conforming to what is right and wrong. Unless our righteousness is more than that, we don’t have a place in Heaven. He is talking about our heart. The righteousness of the Pharisees never got beyond the surface, “whited sepulchres, full of dead men’s bones.” Hungering and thirsting after righteousness isn’t hungering for the day when everything would be right in the world.



Hebrews 1:9, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Righteousness is that which is right with God. Iniquity is anything that does not conform to the righteousness Jesus lived.



21-24, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, 'Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment,' But I say unto you, 'That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment and whosoever shall say to his brother, "Raca," shall be in danger of the council but whosoever shall say, "Thou fool," shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.'”   



Righteousness: one of the many facets of being right means being right with our Brother. We cannot be right with God unless we are right with one another. If you come to the altar and remember you are not right with your Brother, don’t take your sacrifice off the altar, leave your gift there at the altar and go and make things right and then come back to your gift. I don’t know anything that is sweeter than true reconciliation. I really don’t know anything else that is sweeter and more enriching than when things have been wrong and are then made right. That comes when we love righteousness, when we are willing to pay the price to be right.



Verse 8, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” I John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” If we are not honest with ourselves and honest with God, we cannot even see God.



We don’t even understand why God asks what He does or what He is trying to accomplish in His work. “The pure in heart shall see God.”  That is not any quality in my heart, nothing about me is pure. It is a constant struggle to keep our heart right. There are two ways that we cleanse ourselves from our sin: the cleansing from our past sin and the future that keeps us clean.  



I John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” There is no cleansing and no fellowship without walking in the light and that speaks of honesty. Being willing for the light, the blood of Christ cleanses us from our sin. Fellowship is a fellowship of forgiven sinners that are willing to walk in the light. As soon as dishonesty enters the picture, fellowship ceases.



The other provision for sin is Psalm 119:9, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word.” That is cleansing for the future. If your little boy is ready for meeting and goes out and plays in the mud puddle, all the yelling in the world won’t cleanse him, there has to be cleansing. The deed is done, recrimination has no effect on the mud. You have to take him back and wash him again. That is cleansing for the future, what we get from the Word of God.



“Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  That will keep our steps clean. We have wonderful opportunity of being pure in heart, “that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I can hardly comprehend that God’s purpose is to present us blameless on that day.