Summary: This sermon is about four steps to build endurance: 1. Recognize the SOURCE. 2. Refuse to RETALIATE. 3. Respond POSITIVELY. 4. Rest in Gods PROTECTION.
Endurance - The Eighth Step To Happiness
We have been making our way through a section of scripture know as the beatitudes. The beatitudes are found in Matthew chapter five. Each of the beatitudes begins with the word Blessed. The word blessed in this section of scripture could also be translated - happy - so as we have been making our way down through the beatitudes – we are finding steps to happiness. Follow along with me as I read from Gods word:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:3-12 (NKJV)
What we find in the beatitudes are nine attitudes that faithful followers need to display. Today we are focusing in on verse ten:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10 (NKJV)
What this verse tells me is:
We need an attitude of ENDURANCE.
Folks I have lived long enough in this world to know that whatever you do - you will be criticized. Even if you do nothing – you will be criticized. I don’t know about you – but I would rather be criticized for doing the right thing than for doing the wrong thing. I would rather be persecuted for doing the right thing than doing the wrong thing. I would rather be called a fool for following God – then to be called a wise man for following the devil.
Franklin Graham tells the following story:
Sámi Dagher had been a maitre’d at the world famous Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut before Lebanon’s terrible civil war. Just before the war broke out he left the hotel to plant a small church in one of the poorest areas of the city. When he approached the hotel manager to inform him that he was resigning, the following dialog occurred:
"God has called me to preach," Sámi told the manager. "I’m leaving the hotel."
"Leaving? You’re a fool! You’re crazy! A man in your position making good money, and you quit?"
"I leave for something more important than money. I’m going to preach the name of Jesus Christ."
"You’re going to give up this good position to preach for some god? You must be crazy. No! I’ll tell you the right thing to do. You stay here and make money, Sámi. I need you."
"No, I can’t stay any longer. I’ve prayed and this is what I must do."
Then the hotel manager grew angry and shouted, "I curse you! One day, Sámi Dagher, you will come to the threshold of my door, and you will beg for a crust of bread, and I won’t give it to you. I will let you starve! Do you hear my words? Not a crust!"
Quite sometime later, during some of the heaviest fighting, Sámi heard a knock at his door. It was late at night, so Sámi told his wife and children to stay in bed. He answered the door himself. When he opened the door, the hotel manager stood before him.
"I couldn’t sleep," the man said. "I wanted to see how you are doing and talk."
Sámi made coffee and they discussed the old days they enjoyed at the Phoenicia. Sámi sensed the man had come for another reason, but the man wouldn’t say. Finally Sámi said, "My friend, it is late. Why have you come to me?"
"Oh, nothing, Sámi. I just wanted to talk of old times."
The man walked to the door and opened it. As he stood in the doorway with his head hung low, he turned to Sámi and said, "I have no food. I have not eaten for two days. Do you have anything you could spare?" Sami of course gave him something to eat.
He is no fool who follows God – even if he is criticized.
In this beatitude – verse ten – Jesus is telling us that persecution will come. Therefore, we MUST have an attitude of endurance. The King James Bible would call it longsuffering. Some other translations speak of this quality as patience. Paul lists this attitude among the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians chapter five: