FROM GOSPEL MISSION TO GLORIOUS VISION

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Revelation 7:9-17

9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,

“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”

 

 

Last week was a great reminder of the power God has.  God can use the foolish things of this world.  God can use the weak things of this world.  God can use the lowly things of this world.  He can use humans to accomplish the most death-defying feat.   What I mean by that is God can use the mouths and the works of sinful humans beings to get the gospel message out into the world to save people from death and hell.

Remember how he did that with a simple German theology professor?  That kind of person should not be such a big deal, and yet some authors and historians rank Martin Luther in the top 10 (some as high as 3) of the most influential people in the entire world.  But it’s not like there was something so special about a law student turned monk.  There was nothing that significant about his upbringing or devotion to religion that would make the rest of the world take note.  There was nothing amazing about how he became a professor of little Wittenberg University and then a Doctor of Theology.  There have been tons of professors and doctorates through the centuries that have had very little impact on the world.  There wasn’t much about this man, Martin Luther, that made him special.

The single thing that made Martin Luther so influential in world history is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  See the gospel made him ask questions of the deceptive church leaders, write little pamphlets and papers about the problems he noticed, stand up to the authorities, live as an outlaw, translate the Bible into German, use the new technology of the printing press, advocate for the peasants and children, write hymns and catechisms, and leave a legacy that the world simply cannot ignore. The gospel did it all.  The gospel has that kind of power.

Do you know why the gospel can have such an impact?  Do you know why the gospel can turn lowly good-for-nothings, fishermen, tax collectors, farmers, monks, professors into names that are known throughout the world?  It’s because the gospel saves people.

That’s not a cheap advertisement.  Without the gospel the only reality in the world is death and hell.  Without the gospel every single person is doomed to be destroyed by the devil and his evil for eternity.  Without the gospel the only thing you would know is sin.  Without the gospel everyone is dark, lost, and alone forever.  Without the gospel this world is all you have – this world with its polarizing politics, its destruction and devastation, its rape and murder, its greed and lust, its selfishness and pride, its racism and hatred, the list goes on.  That’s all you have.  Sure, there are some sunny days and happy times, but it would all be for nothing.  You live.  You die.  It means nothing.  Your existence really has no value to anyone.  You are pointless.  That’s life without the gospel.  There is no reason for anything and there is no love for anything, except yourself.

Think of it.  You might say, “I could still have my spouse, my kids, my parents, my friends.”  Without the gospel those relationships would only mean something because of what they do for you.  You would enjoy having parents who didn’t leave you at the hospital.  That’s nice for you.  You would enjoy having siblings because then you’re not bored at home with mom and dad, then you can have someone to play pranks on and blame when stuff gets broken, you would have people who could help you as a kid.  It’s good for you.  You would have friends who can do things for you like help on homework, be the other kids on your team, all that kind of stuff.  And that is nice for you to have.  You would maybe have your own spouse of maybe just a live in, because who wants that kind of commitment anymore.  You could have a person satisfy your desires and appetite for a while hopefully.  They could help you with a lot of things around the house and for life.  They could even help you with kids.  And you would want kids to increase your happiness and give you someone to have control over and mold.  Oh!  It’s so sad to look at life without the gospel of Jesus.  So often that is exactly what we are guilty of because we are only looking at ourselves.  Our vision is so narrow and it’s so utterly pointless.

But in the gospel, you have life.  You have meaning.  You have a purpose.  You have a family.  You have a home.  You have it forever.  Because in the gospel you have a God who is not an overlord who rules you like measly subjects or a company owner who wants you to work for him. The second reading says you have a God who wants to love you like children.  He wants to be your Father.

God did everything to make that real for you.  The gospel says that he planned a way to make sinners into his children.  Jesus came to take your sins from you.  You didn’t give them up, he took them from you and removed them from your life when he died in your place. Jesus exchanged his perfection for our sinfulness, his righteousness for our guilt.  He took the punishment that we deserve and gives us a life that is worth more than anything this world could give.  He came back from the dead so that this life you have as a child of God would not just be for years on earth, but for eons upon eons for eternity in heaven.  That is how much God loves you.  That is how much the gospel accomplishes for you.

It turns you from sinners into saints.  Yes, that is what you are.  Like I said at the introduction to this festival day, a saint is not someone who lived a special life or made a specific sacrifice or something that we should remember.  A saint is not someone who went to heaven with the job that they would someone stand in for God every once in a while.   Why would you want a dead person to help you, when you can have the Lord of heaven, the Creator of all things, the Rock of our salvation, the Spirit who set you apart and called you by name help you and care for you?  Can a dead person even do anything after they are dead?  No, not at all.  But God lives.  Jesus lives.  And because he does when God looks at his children he does not see the sin.  He sees the holiness of his Son.  He sees his perfect, pure child.  He sees a saint.

When he looks at all of us together he sees the communion of saints.  Yeah, when we say those words in the creeds we aren’t just talking about believers who have died already.  We’re proclaiming that we believe God can turn us sinners into his holy people through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and faith in him alone.

That is the gospel.  And we want the gospel to do that for more people.  We want more and more people to know that life is not what I make of it.  Life is what Jesus has made it for me.  That gospel mission is what changed the world after Jesus ascended into heaven.  Christianity spread all over the world.  That gospel mission is what changed the world again when the pure light of the gospel was hidden by an oppressive church.  The voice of the midair angel has never stopped, and it won’t now.  That’s God’s promise.

And you would think that life for people with this gospel mission, for people who believe in Jesus, for the saints of God, you would think that life would be easier for us.  That’s just not a promise God has ever made, that your life on earth is going to be the best.  The Gospel reading is where Jesus says the opposite.  Your life on earth won’t be the best, but it will be blessed when you are poor in spirit, when you mourn, when you are meek, when you are merciful, when you are pure, and when you are persecuted for your faith in him.  All of those things are a part of life now, to point the saints of God to the home that really matters.

To so many this doesn’t seem worth it.  To so many fixing the brokenness of this life and trying to get my life on earth better is all that matters.  Is that you?  Do you yearn for better days on earth?  Then your vision is too narrow.  The devil is setting you up for failure, for eternal failure.  See, in the gospel, God promises something much better than earthly fixes and pleasures.  The gospel mission gives a vision like the one John sees.

READ v9-17

To people who have been changed by the gospel, to saints who are looking for something better than this world, God gives us a glorious vision of what victory really looks like.  There is a time and a place God has set for all his saints to enjoy this glory, peace, joy, and victory.  We don’t know when our names are going to be called, but when they are we will be taken out of this world.

I just love hearing the verse where God says the ones in white, his saints, are all those who have come out of the great tribulation.  That’s as good as this world gets for believers.  It’s a tribulation.  It’s a place where too often we complain about our homes or hungers, about the weather, about work, about failed relationships.  It’s a place where we cry and weep.  It’s a place that is broken and dark with sin.

But we have the gospel of Jesus.  We have the blood of the Lamb who makes us clean in God’s eyes.  We have the new eyes of saints who look at this world, not as home but as the journey there.  And along the way, God gives us the good news of Jesus so that can help others from every nation, tribe, people and language with their broken lives as well.

And here’s his promise for you: the gospel that we have as his saints now on earth will always lead to this glorious vision of heaven and saints who are with the Lord forever.  Amen.

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BRACE YOURSELF

6.24.18 Pentecost 5B

Pentecost B

JOB 38:1-11

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels j shouted for joy?

8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?

 

 

“There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  Who said it?  And about whom was it said?   This was God speaking about Job.  Now, there is only way it is possible for God to speak this way about a human being, and he tells us what it is.

“…everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)

“And without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6)

Job was a man who trusted God.  The faith that was planted in him continued to guide and direct his life.  He believed God’s Word and that God would provide the promised Savior from sin.  That’s what faith does to a person.

Job was not just a man of great faith but also a man of great wealth and earthly blessings. He had 10 children, 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 donkeys, and many servants.  In other words, he was the richest of the rich for that time. There are plenty of “Christian” preachers that will use this type of Scripture to say that if you are faithful you will be blessed and prosperous.  If you have great faith in God, then you will have great blessings from him.  If you are God’s child, then you should get everything that makes you happy. However, that just doesn’t seem to fit with the main purpose for God’s Word.  God’s wants people to be saved.  On every page of his Word the point is to point people to Christ, the forgiveness of sins, the victory over the devil that he accomplished for us, and the home we have in heaven.

That’s probably why God allowed all this stuff to happen to Job.  In one day all of the earthly blessings were gone, poof! If you would lose everything, what would your reaction be?  Anger? Misery? Bitterness? Shock? Depression? Do you remember what Job said?  He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

The next day it was his health.  Boils festered on his skin to the point where he sought relief by scraping himself with broken potsherds.  You would expect most people to become more than a little upset in these circumstances.  It might not even surprise you if some would curse God, but Job said, “shall we accept good from God, but not trouble?”

This is when three of Job’s friends come into the picture. They didn’t exactly help the situation.  In times of terrible grief, you might want friends to grieve with you and comfort you.  You might need them to point you again and again to Jesus and his promise of salvation and peace and hope.  Nevertheless, when you read through chapters 3-37, you will find that Job’s friends weren’t the positive people that Job needed in his time of trial.  Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar did not point him to peace and hope through God’s promises of salvation.  They tried to give him reasons for his devastating loses.  Their idea was to say that Job was a good man who didn’t deserve such disaster.  He must have done something wrong to upset God.  In order for Job to fix his problems, they encouraged him to ask God for answers.

Job’s friends were useless. With no help from them, Job began to question God.  He didn’t lose faith or curse God, but he did get a little bit of that childish “why me” attitude.  He thought that somehow, he deserved answers to all his questions.  When Christians get that kind of attitude, it’s not going to help you.

What if God’s gives the honest answers?   What if the Creator of heaven and earth speaks to the sinful created ones?  What if the Lord of lords and King of kings comes to the lowly servants with his almighty, booming voice?  What if the one who fills all things decides to zero in on one puny, tiny little man who happens to think he has a bone to pick?  What happens then?  Well, then it’s time to brace yourself!!

In chapter 38 the Lord actually did this to Job.   He didn’t use a church or a cathedral for his message. No Old Testament prophet or priest was needed.  No, the Lord’s pulpit was a raging storm.  Ask the disciples in that boat during that torrential turbulence on the Sea of Galilee what it’s like.  Fear might be an understatement!

It is not just the storm from which God speaks that causes uncomfortable feelings, but it is the questions God asks: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?” Show of hands: who wants to answer the question that God just asked?  No one!  Really!  Job didn’t answer, and neither would I.  That’s because you and I know the answer to that question. “I am.  I am the one who brings darkness to your light, Lord.  I don’t possess all knowledge like you.  I don’t know the perfect game plan for my life like you do.  It’s my fault when I don’t trust your power and plans.  I’m the one who is too often filled with fear and not faith in all your promises.”

The questions didn’t stop there. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?

With each question, Job and all of us, get smaller as God gets bigger.  Do you want to know about this world and how it’s made?  The Lord describes all the details of creation as the expert builder.  He marked off the dimensions of the globe and the universe.  It was his work, not Job’s, not ours.

Next, our God is the only one who knows at exactly what time the angels were made.  At some point during creation, God made his messengers and heralds and they were singing his praise and shouting for joy all the way.

Then, the topic changes to water.  You know, we can’t do much to contain bodies of water.  We put up the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.  We dug a few canals.  We try to hold flooded rivers under control.  We try, but there isn’t much we can do with water.  God talks about water like it’s a little baby.

God describing his power should not make us afraid, but these verses paralyze Job and us because that’s what sin does.  It makes the perfect, holy, all-powerful God terrifying.  It is sin that makes God’s control unsettling.  It is sin that makes faith so hard and fear so easy.

Job was blameless and upright.  He shunned evil.  But he still had sin, and you can see what sin does.  Sin fights with faith.  Sin wants me to be the master.  Sin wants me to have control.  Sin wants me to have all the answers so that I won’t need that faith nonsense.  Sin makes me tell God what I want and what I don’t want.  Sin leads me down the road of fear to utter destruction.

I hope you notice that the problem is not the Lord, the problem is you and me.  When Job was demanding answers, God says, “brace yourself like a man.”  God turns it around the way it should be and tells Job, “I will question you, and you shall answer me.”

 In all the verses from the first lesson, did you hear one peep from Job?  Nope.  The Lord asks Job two full chapters of questions and in chapter 40:4 Job finally says something,   “I am unworthy – how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.”  That was a smart thing to say.  Job didn’t have an answer, and neither do you.  Sinners can only brace themselves when God asks questions.

Thankfully and only by God’s grace, we aren’t left in our uncomfortable quandary.  God does not want us to be filled with fear but faith.  So, are you ready for this?  Brace yourself!

God did not just ask the questions. Instead God does something that no one can even understand.  He came up with something to Job, to you, to me, and to the whole world lost in fear.  God says in his Word, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

God is done asking questions. He knows no matter who it is, Job or present-day people like you and me, we can’t give an answer.  So God prepared an answer for us.  The one who can answer all the questions that God gave to Job and that God gives to us is… Jesus Christ, the Savior.  The Bible says,  “If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

You can’t answer God, but God answers for you anyways.  Jesus stands up on our side.  He says, “I was there when the foundations of the world were laid.” Jesus tells his Father for us, “I was holding the measuring line when you stretched it out.  I was there when the footings were set.  I was there when the seas burst forth.  I was there, Father.  And if that’s not enough, I was there when the soldiers carried out Pilates orders.  I was there when the nails were pounded into the cross. I was the one who said ‘It is finished.’  I am the one who conquered sin.  I was there when this world began and I was the one who saved this world from certain destruction.  I am He.” Because of Jesus, you have the answers you need.  Don’t be afraid any longer.  Find the strength and relief that God has given you through Jesus.

God takes care of everything else.  Faith in him will always be better than fear. Job experienced that. God had allowed it all to be taken away.  Job wanted answers, but God gave him the only answer he needed.  God gave Job a living Redeemer.  He is the answer to all of God’s questions.  And above all that, in the last chapter of Job, God doubles everything – the camels, the donkeys, the servants – all of it.  Job deserved none of the blessings, but God is rich in grace and rich in love.  He did not provide those things to show us that faith equals an earthly return.  He is a kind and gracious God who will provide all your needs.  Simply trust his power and promises to do that.

The same answers that God gave Job are for you.  God gives you the inconceivable.  He gives you his Son as your Lord and Savior.  He gives you his showers of grace while you live here.  And he gives you an eternal home.  So, brace yourself, because in Jesus, God gives you more than you can ask for.  Amen.

THE #BLESSED LIFE

blessed

5:1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

Today, we’re talking about the #blessed life.  So, I did what any 32-year-old pastor would do.  I did little research on Twitter to find out what people are saying.  I searched the hashtag #blessed, and here are some of the examples.

“I bought my first car today… Hard work pays off, no handouts. #blessed”

“got my dream job today!! #blessed”

“Just wrote out a whole tweet about Monday…then realized it was Tuesday. #blessed”

“I want to thank not only God, but also Jesus for letting me not go for cafeteria duty. #blessed”

Linebacker for the Patriots, Dont’a Hightower tweeted this, “No better felling than waking up and knowing you’re headed to Houston #blessed”

“the diner just gave me two extra pieces of bacon for free #blessed”

“Ash and I still look good while drinking beer. #blessed”

“I’m thankful for wine.  You’ve always been there for me… Thank you for never giving up on me.  I love you, wine. #blessed”

Now, hopefully some people are being sarcastic.  But what if some aren’t?  What if people think “blessed” only refers to earthly items and situations that make you happy? What happens if being blessed is only about the physical and material?  Well, then are you blessed or not?

If you don’t have the job that you went to school for and the one you have been waiting patiently for, then you can’t tweet #blessed.  If you don’t have the car you really want in your garage, the clothes that friends have, the tech toys that you see on TV, the happy feelings that others seem to relish, or the meaningful relationship you have been praying for, then is it true that you aren’t living the blessed life?  If you can’t handle some of the situations you’re dealing with right now, does that mean God is not blessing you the way he promises he will?  That seems to be the way America is talking.  Whether it’s people at the office or the ones poking at screens all day, being blessed means that you are happy because of what you have or because your current circumstances are enjoyable.

So, what about you?  How would you define the blessed life? Is it having a lot of earthly blessings that makes you blessed?  Does being blessed mean you are soaking up a bunch of joyful moments lately? Is blessed all about your satisfaction with life?  Or maybe…does #blessed simply mean you are regularly thanking God for everything you have?  Does blessed mean you are happy just because you woke up and God gave you another day on this earth?

If that’s the case, then listening to Jesus start off his Sermon on the Mount might have you scratching your head a little bit.  Because what Jesus says about the blessed life doesn’t necessarily fit in with what Twitter says, and it might not jive with what your own heart is telling you.  Recorded for us in Matthew 5, there are nine different descriptions that really don’t seem to fit current trends about the blessed life.  These might not even be what you would expect Jesus to say. Let’s quickly go over them.

Poor in spirit seems like the opposite of success and happiness.  Someone who is poor in spirit isn’t talking themselves up or referencing a long list of their achievements.  Someone who is poor in spirit isn’t proud of all that they have done this past week.

Those who mourn are dealing with sad news.  They are in the throes of grief.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense to say that someone who is morning is enjoying a happy blessed life, does it?  I didn’t see any tweets where people were posting sad news with the hashtag #blessed.

The next person that Jesus calls blessed is the meek.  That’s humble, gentle, considerate, selfless people. Do we really say that people who don’t focus on themselves are blessed?  The meek don’t jostle for the first spot in line.  The meek might miss out on Black Friday deals.  The meek want others to be joyful and successful. But if you are the meek one, how does that help you?  Would Americans in 2017 call that the blessed life?

Jesus then brings up those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  These folks aren’t filling their bellies or their lives with whatever they want whenever they want it.  They are seeking only what the Lord calls good.  They find their happiness in worship, Bible study, devotions, prayer, and serving others.  That means they aren’t putting tons of time and effort into their own personal enjoyment.  Does that have anything to do with earthly blessings and success?

The merciful are compassionate and loving, the way Jesus is.  The merciful don’t neglect what Jesus says, but the cling to his words and follow his example.  The merciful wouldn’t gossip or grumble about bullies, protests, and politicians.  Instead, they would stand on the foundation of God’s Word and show God’s kind of sacrificial love to everyone.

Pure in heart doesn’t even seem possible.  You and I all know what was going on in our heart this week, whether planned or just popping in, and pure is not the word we can use for that.  Who is here among us who can say they have felt no guilt, that their life is free some sin?  That would be zero.

Peacemakers normally have to put up with a lot of stress.  They have to go back and forth in a process of restoring relationships that have been torn apart.  It’s hard work.  It’s true that peacemakers are certainly causing joy when their work pays off.  But I don’t know if it always feels happy and joyous to go through the ugly side of the peacemaking process.

Jesus finishes his list with those who are persecuted in one way or another for their faith.  I don’t know how many would say “Amen” to that.  Along with the mourners, this seems like the people who would in no way have the blessed life.  It’s hard to envision any scenario where persecuted people would be happy, joyful, and successful.

This whole list flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but maybe that tells you something.  Jesus wants us to get a different definition for “blessed.” We don’t need to search it on social media or listen to the news.  We don’t need to look at our contacts, calendars, or careers, not in our homes or at our hobbies.  To find what the blessed life is the hashtags are always going to miss one vitally important concept, eternity.

Jesus starts his Sermon on the Mount with this “blessed” list because he wants your face off the phone and not staring at yourself so much.  Instead, Jesus gets us looking at him for happiness and joyful contentment, no matter what your earthly circumstances might be right now.  That’s what needs to happen for a blessed life.  Look and listen to Jesus.  And what do you think he wants you to have? A nice car? A great career? A big house? Fun friends? A particular set of skills?

Sure.  Jesus wants you to enjoy the life that he has given you here on earth.  BUT! But, don’t you think he cares a little bit more about your eternity?  Don’t you think he wants the source of your happiness to be your Savior and not your stuff or yourself?

Friends, that is the reason why Jesus came to give the blessed life a new meaning for you and me.  Just think, he was living the most glorious life of all as the ruler of heaven and earth.  He needed nothing.  He had perfect glory and perfect control.  And he gave it up to live in human form, which meant he put himself under the laws of the land and under the care of parents. During his life he was poor in spirit. He felt sadness and pain. He was gentle, humble, and meek.  He was not filled with all sorts of good things but was filled with righteousness, even when people hated him for it.  He was patient and compassionate to a degree that no one can compare.  He was pure in thought, word, and deed every second of his life.  He was patient and kind, never giving in to gossip, grudges or grumblings.  He was persecuted, insulted, betrayed, falsely accused, beaten and killed.

His life means you and I have the blessed life, because only Jesus’ life gives us what we need forever.  Look again at that list, paying specific attention to the second half of each verse.  Only Jesus’ life produces a place in the kingdom of heaven.  Only Jesus’ life comforts those who mourn.  Only Jesus’ life gives humble, gentle people power in our world.  Only Jesus’ life fills us up with righteousness.  Only Jesus’ life gives us forgiveness for every one of your sins and the compassion to show that kind of love to others.  Only Jesus’ life gets rid of the guilt, replacing it with pure heart that will see God in heaven. Only Jesus’ life gives us a new title of God’s child.  Only Jesus’ life gives joy to the persecuted.  Only Jesus’ life takes away the sting of death.  Only Jesus’ life gives us the eternal blessed life.

Talk about the blessed life!  If I told you I can promise you a life where there is no trouble or toil, no bullies or Band-Aids, no stress or sadness, no heartaches or headaches, no lusting or lies, no anger or anxiety, wouldn’t you say, “Sounds great! Sign me up! That’s the blessed life for sure!”  That’s what Jesus has accomplished for us.

For people who believe in Jesus there is an eternity of blessings in heaven waiting for you.  It won’t be because of what you will have but who you are with, Jesus.  By faith, we are also with Jesus now.  So that means we can live the blessed life now, as well.  And what does that look like? Twitter doesn’t have the answer.  Actually, Jesus has a pretty good glimpse for us right here.  You are living the blessed life when you are poor in spirit, trusting Jesus’ sacrifice and not your own. You are living the blessed life even in sadness because your comfort is rock solid in God’s Word and not the things of this world.  You are living the blessed life when you are humble and gentle, not getting dragged into useless arguments or getting caught in political rants.  You are living the blessed life when you are filled regularly by God’s Word and sacrament.  You are living the blessed life when you are compassionate and forgiving just like Christ, looking for ways to love and not hate.  You are living the blessed life when you are the pure, who live a life of faith in Jesus, fleeing from temptation and selfishness.  You are living the blessed life when you’re the peaceful and helpful.  You are living the blessed life when you wear your faith on your sleeve and take whatever happens because you know you have a Savior watching over you.  You are living the blessed life every day with Jesus.

And he says you can rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. No one can dampen that eternal joy. Nothing can take that away. What can I say; it’s the blessed life.

Amen.