May 15 - Encouragement to Be With God

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
Praise God.
Praise God that his blessings to us are real every day.  Praise God that what he promises, will happen.
Acknowledge sin.
Confess the sin of not trusting what God says. Ask God to enable you to do so, that you will walk as the blessed man of Psalm 1. Jeremiah 17:7-8

Let's read Luke 6:17-23
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
This is the same day Jesus called and commissioned the Apostles. The sermon he now preaches is commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount. While Matthew gives three chapters to this sermon, chapters 5, 6 and 7, Luke is more concise, and we have his recording of it in this one chapter. Why is that the case? It is because of who they were writing to. Matthew was writing for Jews; Luke is writing for the gentile Theophilus and doesn't feel the need to include everything he sees as relating to the Jews. Does that mean that we have the full sermon in Matthew? No, we have what Matthew recorded. Does that not mean then that we are missing some precious truth? No, we have what God enabled Matthew to remember as he was carried along by the Holy Spirit when writing. We have in Matthew and Luke what God wants us to have. To get a full understanding of the sermon we would need to work through both accounts in detail. While there would be an undoubted benefit in doing that, we want to stay focused on the life and the word of the Lord, as we find it in Luke. So, I'm going to stick with what we have in this chapter, but, by all means, if you have the time, take yourself to Matthew and see what he has to say as well. An aside note – Mark doe not include any specific account of this sermon, although he does have elements of the teaching in his gospel.  
V17. The location.
Luke tells us that this happened 'on a level place'. This has led some to conclude that what we have here is not the Sermon on the Mount, but a different sermon, delivered on a separate occasion, albeit including much of the same material. We wouldn't dispute the fact that Jesus preached the same material in different places; however, this is not a different sermon from the one in Matthew. Luke is just characterizing the particular area where Jesus had come to when he began to preach. He is still on the mountainside.
The two groups of people.
Luke identifies two groups of people who are present. Who are they? We have already seen that the word 'disciple' means student or pupil. So, there is a crowd of people who have attached themselves to Jesus as his disciples, and then there is a 'multitude' of others, as Luke calls them. These are Jews and Gentiles, some of whom have travelled a long way to be there. Some have come from as far south as religious Jerusalem, and others from as far north as the godless seacoast communities of Tyre and Sidon. They had all come with the same intent, to hear this man preach and to be healed. It shows the extent to which Jesus' fame had spread. Not only among the Jewish populace of Judea, but beyond, into the heartlands of the Gentile world. In commenting on those who are healed, Luke separates the people suffering due to demon possession from those with other illnesses. He identifies them as a category on their own. This points to the spiritual war that was continuously raging wherever Jesus went. He could not escape from it. He had to confront and address it, and he did so. All who are suffering from this evil ingression on their lives are 'cured'. None are left to endure the consequences of being possessed by a demon. Jesus loves people and cares for them. 
V20. The sermon – what it is not.
Many see this sermon as an exposition of the Law. They cast it as Jesus correcting the legal interpretation of the Jewish rabbis. In doing so, they argue that Jesus is presenting a new ethical standard, one that, if adhered to, will provide the way to eternal life. It's not. Jesus is not offering an updated, new covenant, way of works-righteousness salvation. And he is not doing so for two reasons. First, there was no old covenant works-righteousness way of salvation, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Galatians 3:6. Second, Jesus came to provide that one way of salvation, and it wasn't through getting spiritually dead men to do what they could not do; it was by offering up his own life as an atonement sacrifice for sin. 
The Sermon begins.
The comment by Luke about Jesus lifting his eyes is another indication of Jesus' pastoral care for those he is speaking to. It's not about him; it is about them, and his look of love calls them to listen to what he is going to say, and to seek their hearts in response to it. 
Since I am currently preaching through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew on the Lord’s Day, I am not going to go into detail on each of the Beatitudes. Note, though, that Luke draws out just four of the eight statements which Matthew records Jesus making.
               Blessed are the poor – Jesus is speaking here of the position men and women are in when they, by God's grace, come to an understanding of who they truly are – sinners dead in their trespasses and sins. When a human being realizes the gravity of their poverty, the destitution of their soul before God, and then, by repentance and faith, receives Christ as their Saviour, then they will be recipients of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the foundation stone upon which the Christian life is established in Christ. Without this poverty of spirit, which comes solely by way of God's grace, there can be no entry into heaven.
               Blessed are those who hunger – This concerns not physical hunger but spiritual craving, an insatiable desire to own the righteousness which Christ alone can provide. This is the fruit of new life in Christ, and its presence is an indication of that new life. Without evidence of this hunger to live obediently before God, the professing Christian's testimony has to be scrutinized. 
               Blessed are you who weep now – This is weeping because of sin and weeping for forgiveness. The Christian is a person who feels the hurt of their sin. This is entirely different from feeling sorry for being caught in sin. This hurt is a feeling that comes from knowing that one has grieved God. It drives the individual to seek forgiveness for their sin out of a desire to own a daily sense of being reconciled to God. 
               Blessed are you when people hate you – The crucial part of this statement is the concluding words, “on account of the Son of Man!” Jesus isn't speaking of people's general dislike of you; it is that specific hatred because you know and love Christ, and are walking in the way he commands. The point is that hatred, those ridiculing comments, and the exclusion, will not cause us to welt and withdraw. Instead, by God's grace, we will understand just how blessed we are to have the privilege of suffering for his name's sake, and know that our reward in heaven will be great.

A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 32A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.

Memory Verse. 
'Hiding' the Word of God in your heart is a wonderful thing. It will bless you in ways you will never expect.
Psalm 121C v1-3 
1. Unto the hills I lift my longing eyes; whence comes my aid? 
The Lord's my help, the heavens and earth by him were made. 
Your foot from stumbling he will always keep; 
the One who guards your life will never sleep. 
2. He who keeps Israel slumbers not nor sleeps By night or day.
The Lord keeps you, a shade on your right hand The Lord will stay.
Throughout the day the sun will never smite,
Nor will the moon afflict you in the night
3. You will be safe, protected by the Lord, By his control.
For every evil that may come your way He'll keep your soul.
While you go daily out and, in your door,
The Lord will keep you now and evermore
Truth for the Mind and Heart
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 35 - What is sanctification?
Answer - Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace by which we are renewed throughout in the image of God and are enabled more and more to die to sin and live to righteousness.

This is taken from where you find proof texts.
Thank God.
Thank God for the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, and for the fact that we have access to it. Thank God that it makes complete sense of, and for, our lives. Ask God to help you to ponder and own it for yourself.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley