6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: This message continues our series on The Sermon on the Mount by taking an overall look at the Beatitudes, and their impact on the life of a Christ follower. Extensive inspiration for this series derived from D. Martin Lloyd-Jones "Studies on the Sermon o

(Read Matthew 5:1-10)

We are on week three of our study of the Sermon on the Mount. So far, we have just been establishing some groundwork. Looking at why we would dedicate such energy to this study, and what the overall structure of the sermon is. I hope you are getting engaged at a personal level in preparing for the coming week’s study, and exploring at a deeper level what we have looked at together during our time here on Sundays.

Let’s see how well we already know the Sermon on the Mount. Sermon on the Mount Trivia – Part 2. Let’s get the blood flowing a little this time. Everybody stand up. This side of the room is true. This side of the room is false. Ready? (Give Trivia Quiz)

Okay, you can return to your seats, but one more trivia question. Last week we broke down the sermon into three major parts that matched up with the chapters. Chapter five was primarily concerned with the what of God (Law)? Chapter six guides us through living where (in the presence of God)? And chapter seven provides a forecast of the coming what of God (judgment)?

In case you have not taken the time to explore some of the resources that will go along with our study, or in particular, if you have not had a chance to look at John Wesley’s opening sermon on the Sermon on the Mount, I want to read you just a few thoughts from him on the importance of this sermon. (Read highlight #1 from Wesley’s introductory message on the Sermon on the Mount)

As we go through this study, never lose sight of that. These are the very words of Jesus. Not some mere mortal, prophet or teacher. The very Son of God, who is within the Trinity fully God. This is God speaking directly to us. That’s a powerful thought, and should strike you as such. Three chapters of God speaking to you.

And then catch this (read highlight #2). Wesley is saying, the Sermon on the Mount is unlike any other place in the Bible, or history for that matter, because it is the only place where in one single setting Jesus set out to give us a picture of the whole of Christianity. The entire thing at once. How we are to live. Who we are to live before. And the reality that we will be judged on those two items.

We often tell new Christians to begin reading their Bibles in John. I have never understood that. I get 15 verses into John, and I’m already confused. However, I think the Sermon on the Mount is a great starting place. Because in three chapters, Christ lays out for us the whole of what it means and looks like to follow Him. Powerful thoughts from the namesake of our denomination.

So today we find ourselves diving into this sermon, beginning at the beginning with a passage commonly known as the Beatitudes.

If you were to ask me the most important part of any sermon, I would tell you it is the beginning. (example of mentored ministry sermon processing)

But even beyond presentation, it is the content that sets the stage for the remainder of the message. Often, it is what people remember most. Maybe all they remember. If they remember anything at all!

So it is with great interest that we should approach and examine, how did Jesus start this sermon? And the answer is, with the Beatitudes. With this general description of what the essential characteristics and features are of the Christian life.

And I want to highlight two important things that I feel towards a study of the Beatitudes. First, as with any Bible study, we should almost always, almost by rule of thumb, begin by looking at the whole before we start picking apart the parts. So we need to take at least some time to look at this group of verses, this introduction to the message, as a whole. The Beatitudes as a whole.

Secondly, often in a sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount, the entire look at the Beatitudes might consume one message. One out of 10 or 12 messages. Handled in a block like passages on the law, passages on the spiritual disciplines, or the like.

In fact, people like us pastors to quickly move to the thrilling and exciting. “Okay, blessed, blessed, blessed. Great. Now, what does it say about how much money I have to give? What does it say about if my husband is looking at women at the pool? What does it say about whether I really have to do this crazy thing called fasting?” That’s what people want to know.

But those are conduct issues. And I don’t think it does any good to address conduct issues without first addressing character issues. You can keep suspending the high school kid who is constantly caught smoking in the boy’s room. But until you address his character of honesty and integrity and respect, it’s not going to make any difference.

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