Summary: This sermon deals with the beattitudes blessed are the poor in spirit and blessed are they that mourn.

How To Face Life’s Challenges Part I

NLF 3/4/2001 Psalm 102:1-17 Philippians 2:1-11 Matthew 5:1-10

Imagine being on a football team, and at the end of the first quarter your team is behind 21 to nothing. At half-time you are down 28 to 7. Now you know that whoever is ahead at the end of the game is going to win. What keeps you from quitting the game, and simply going home at the end of the first half. After all, you’re losing pretty badly and it’s going to be a hard challenge.

Most good athletes do not go in with the attitude, this game is over. We’re going to get killed. No, your best athletes go into the locker room expecting the coach to say, "here are the adjustments we need to make in order to overcome what they are doing." Many a team that went into the locker room behind at half time, marched off victoriously at the end of the game. Their confidence in their coach and their willingness to execute their plays led to victory

Life is always going to present us with situations which will put us behind in our plans for the present and the future. There will be many times when things will not go our way. What do we then? It’s in these moments that we find out who we truly are on the inside. Have you ever been surprised by something you did or said, that you thought you would never have done or said? When we face life’s challenges, there are always ultimately only two ways to handle them. We will either handle them the way we want to handle them, or the way God wants us to handle them.

God is like the coach who takes the team in at half-time and says look, I know you’re behind, but here are some adjustments you can make to begin to turn this thing around. What would happen if during the coach’s talk, the wide receiver said, "the real problem is the quarterback is not throwing the ball to me enough." And the fullback, said, "no what he needs is to give me the ball more often." Now you know that team is in for some serious problems come the second half of the game. Far to often that’s how we choose to face challenges in life. Have you ever said, "Well God I know you said, or the bible says, but….

Jesus loves us all so much. The good dreams we have for our familes, our marriages, our jobs, our education, and our roles in life, Jesus shares with us. Jesus is wants us to all be successful in facing the challenges of life. He therefore provides us with the direction and the rules we are going to need to make it happen. Now when some of us here the word rules or commandments, we immediately think, uh-oh here’s something to keep me from having fun.

Think for a moment if a group of people got together for a game but each one was playing by his or her own rules. You’d get something like this. The batter hit the ball and headed toward first base, as the shortstop went to catch the ball, a linebacker talked him from behind causing him to fumble the ball. Another player picked up the ball and ran toward the goal line, but he stopped and passed the ball forward to the player under the basket who went up to dunk the ball, but the goalie blocked the shot and kicked the ball back out to the center field where it was caught and that ended the first inning of the game. Nobody would know what was going on, and nobody would be happy with the results.

One day Jesus looked at a group of people following him who simply wanted to be happy and somewhat successful in life. Just like us they had heard, the key to being successful in life is to look out for number one and let everybody know you’re you in charge. We all look forward on some level to being "da man" or "da woman". We glamorize the super stars and like to look at the programs featuring the rich and famous. After all there is where true happiness seems to be found.

Is it really. Those of you who have been married for five years or more, you have done something that many with millions of dollars have been unable to do. Those of you who have kids and you still speak to each other with love and kindness each day, you’ve done something that many of the rich and famous have been unable to do. Those of you who have consistently said no to drugs and sexual immorality, you’ve done something that many of the rich, the famous, and the powerful have been unable to do. Finding joy in life that counts is not based on how rich, famous, or powerful you are.

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