The Way of Righteousness

Today, we return to Jesus sitting and teaching hillside, His question still hanging mid-air, are you righteous or just religious? Like anyone who’s looked through binoculars or a scope, Jesus sets about focusing our understanding. Opening with 8 steps to living a blessed life. (Matthew 5:3-12~“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 satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive 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 others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (ESV)) 

Jesus says to be the people who enhance life’s flavor in Jesus because you’re going to meet people on the hunt for a savory life (Matthew 5:13~You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. (ESV)) and share how He, the Great I Am, is the only answer. (Matthew 5:14-16~You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (ESV)) So Jesus commands us to be a light to those you meet, who are surrounded by darkness. Now with the copious skill of an Ophthalmologist, Christ Jesus asks A—or—B, as He speaks of the piety and religiosity of present-day scribes and Pharisees. They went to the synagogue every Sabbath, tithed on all they earned (even the herbs of their gardens), they were, by all accounts, very respectable. (Luke 11:42~Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. (ESV))

Even though they have done all of this to get to heaven, Jesus reminds us that our works will not get us into heaven. So I ask you, are you righteous or just religious? Philippians 3:9~and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. (NIV) If we can learn to master following Jesus Christ by living in faith, we’ll accomplish the heart of what Christ Jesus is sharing here hillside as He shares 7 components of The Way of Righteousness. Join us this week as we tackle: Fulfill, Anger, and Lust.



Salt & Light

Today we consider what it means to live as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). Jesus says His followers are the salt of the earth. For thousands of years, salt has remained the primary way to enhance food flavor. Moreover, salt is a preservative. Papaw Wright used salt in his smokehouse to preserve meat. Notice, Jesus doesn’t call us to be sugar (sticky and sweet); He calls us to be salt. Salt can be irritating. I used to keep course salt for my wrestlers who had cuts and abrasions from their braces after properly administer cross-faces.

Christ Jesus says in Matthew 5:13~You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It’s no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. (ESV) In ancient times, contaminated salt was scattered on the soil of flat roofs to form a crust. Remember Casablanca and the rooftop cool evening. This salt systematically strewn across flat soil covered rooftops prevented leaks. Offering a great place to enjoy a cool evening breeze on an oppressively muggy night. These are not three dog nights my friend, NO, You sit over there and as old Bogey would say, “here’s looking at you kid.”

Yeah, if we become contaminated by deviating from biblical teachings about morality, we will make no positive difference in our world. We are called by God, to live uncontaminated lives that offered the flavor of Jesus Christ, and we do this, by living a pure and undefiled life before God as James 1:27~ Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (NIV) So, if that task is not tall enough Christ Jesus says be useful salt and then layers on the light. Matthew 5:14~You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (ESV) If you have ever struggled to see where you are in life or in faith, then you are in good company on Mt. Beatitudes. These people were sitting on a hill and yet, they like us, were struggling to understand in a physical sense, how transformative light truly is. As the light of the world spoke, He enabled us to see form take shape, to witness the vibrancy of color come to life in Jesus. Light allows us to see things as they really are. In the spiritual sense, light enables us to see spiritual truths as they are illuminated by the Holy Spirit. We are not to shine our own lights, in an attempt to reveal our religiosity like a Pharisee. Instead, we are to let the light of Jesus shine through us. Ephesians 5:8~For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (NIV) 

Light is so very conspicuous in darkness. That is why Jesus says: A city set on a hill cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). Church, it is time for us to stop hiding in plain sight. Sitting here hillside with our Lord, we have more ability than we could ever imagine. Light glistens against the velvety blue hew of night, as it beckoning to all, come near. The darker your school, place of employment, or even your neighborhood, the more the light of Jesus Christ will be visible. It is time the church stopped throwing shade and allowed Jesus Christ to shine in our dark world. That we take off the confines and limits to the Lord that we have for so long allowed to hide the light of Jesus Christ. 

Continuing His discourse, Jesus says in Matthew 5:15~Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. (ESV) It would be foolish to light a candle and cover it, just as it is foolish to hide the light of Christ because He is the only true Source of light in our dark world. Matthew 5:16~In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (ESV) The way we let our light shine is through good works. Sometimes, as we emphasize salvation by grace alone, and it is, but not to the neglect or minimization of good works. Ephesians 2:8-9~For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works so that no one can boast. (NIV) So we take the whole of scripture as our reference and guide for living, we add in James 1:22~Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (NIV) We realize it is not an either-or, but rather a both-and. Grace is what propels us to do good works as we bear fruit born of the Holy Spirit and share it with others. 

So, who here has ever seen an apple tree in an apple? Likewise, we bear fruit for the consumption of others. Having a fruit stand full of diverse fruit places us in a unique position to meet the needs of those the Lord places on our path as we journey through life and faith. As important as it is to listen to the Word of God, you cannot stop there. Doing the Word must be the response. Doing the Word requires good works. To be a hearer only is just self-deception. 

Our Takeaway for the week is: Step into the light and shine for Jesus Christ. To get right and stay right with God will cause us to live a blessed life and live as salt and light. Today, you heard our Living Lord Jesus preach a sermon from Mt Beatitudes, now, it’s time to go and do, making disciples.



Next Steps

Standing hillside our Lord and Savior shared the spiritual steps we need to take to live the blessed life God has for us. He begins by saying that all humanity is spiritually poor and bound in sin. Then how we need to allow God to be Lord over all of our life, that He will lead us and feed us, quenching our thirsty souls, as He hops us to embody His purity of heart. Then Jesus shares the next Step #7: Saying become a peacemaker. Matthew 5:9~Blessed (μακάριος makarios) are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons (daughters) of God. (ESV) When we are right with God, the purity of the Lord will permeate our who lives and we will want all of our relationships to be right, as well. Jesus is the reconciler of things, whether we take our text from 2 Corinthians 5:18–20; Ephesians 2:16; or Colossians 1:20–21. Jesus Christ came to reconcile all things. Thus, being a peacemaker is about our work as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ. To perform this task, we must obey the command of Romans 12:18~If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV) There is a lot we can do to keep the peace.

Step #8: Get Ready: Persecution. Matthew 5:10~Blessed (μακάριος makarios) are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (ESV) The key here is found in the word righteousness. This is not people talking about you because you’re a Christian Hump. No, I didn’t say good-looking. This is not a rump movement led by the east end of a westbound mule, that is the wrong Heel. What Christ Jesus said was if we live by the previous 7 requirements, and are blessed by God, there will be a natural result of persecution. If we are committed to purity and righteousness, we will be persecuted. Jesus explains people will revile us (criticize and castigate), they will persecute (tyrannize and torment) us, and say all kinds of evil (dishonorable, depraved and villainous) just because we profess and live like Jesus Christ, who said get ready and be blessed! Matthew 5:12~Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (ESV) Any persecution we endure in this life will be soon forgotten when we receive our great reward in heaven.

I hope and pray that today you will spend some time praising the Lord and thanking Him for all that He has done in your life and family. God is so very good to us and He alone is worthy of our praise.