October 4th, 2004

Church Update

10/3/04-Church was better this week. The worship went a little better. The preaching was the same, I think. The message was from the Beatitudes and was titled:

"THE SEVEN MARKS OF A CHRISTIAN"

I only covered three this week and they are as follows:

1.) "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven". The first mark of the Christian is that they KNOW their need of Jesus. They own their sin and acknowledge that they are downcast, bruised, broken and utterly rejected by this world. They have arrived at the blessed knowledge that they do not fit in here and never will, and all of their hope is in Jesus. "Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" should be rendered "Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven", meaning that these outcasts like David attracted in I Samuel 22:2("...everyone that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented...") are the kind of people populating the Kingdom of Heaven. Rich Mullins called it "A kingdom of paupers/simpletons and rogues/the whores all seem to love him/and the drunks propose a toast/and they say surely God is with us/surely God is with us/surely God is with us today...".

2.) "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted". The second mark of the Christian is that they don't just know their need they FEEL it. This mourning spoken of is not a mourning over the loss of a loved one, or a bad day, but the mourning of a man over his sinful condition. Luke 18:9-14 tells us the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Pharisee "...prays thus with himself; God I thank thee that I am not like other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulturers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." The publican it says "...standing afar off, would not so much as lift his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast saying, God be merciful to me a sinner". The Christian has no room for religious pride because they live in a state of repentance. And they are, and always will be, comforted by the Holy Spirit.

3.) "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth". Meekness is not valued in our society or in this world. Jesus said "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart...". Jesus was the perfect example of meekness. Riding on a donkey when they expected a deliverer on a war horse. Allowing himself to be beaten and mocked, ridiculed for our sakes. Lactantius, one of the early church fathers said "...the defense of (our) religion is not in killing, but in dieing...". This third mark of the Christian is that he has put away his sword. He takes the slap on the cheek and turns to offer the other. He allows himself to bear the cross the way that Jesus did. He does not threaten, he does not attack. He allows God to be his judge and his defender. Why? Do you think that Jesus died in vain? His humble obedience to death, the death on the Cross, is what won the world. A person gives up the right to defend themselves when they take the name Christian. "They'll know you are my disciples by your love...". The phrase "inherit the earth" should be rendered "inherit the land". The verse is right from the Psalms and "the land" was of course the promised land, and in the wider rendering means that these, the meek, are the ones that inherit God's promises.