4th Sunday after The Epiphany for Jan. 29, 2023

Psalm 15:1-5; Micah 6:1-8; 1st Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12

Our Psalm this morning, the psalmist asks God who may dwell as His guest, and who are invited to worship? Public worship ceremonies include prayers which help God’s people learn His expectations including prayers which help God’s people learn His expectations of His worshipers. God want His people to honor those who fear and worship Him, whereby fear is a reverential and distinct honor towards being in God’s sanctuary. Those who love and fear God are those we see treating people well and meeting their needs, they treat them with an ethically sound attitude to not rob them; rather they seek to help them in a positive manner and see to it that they are not taken advantage of by other people. The people understand that treating others as we want to be treated, is the only right way to treat anyone.

From our Old Testament lesson in Micah, we are reminded that Israel’s worship was supposed to center on confession of God’s historical acts. Too often it centered on complaint about God’s lack of action. God called Israel to remember what He had done and know He promised to continue to be their Redeemer. History justifies God. It does not condemn Him; it calls to praise and not confession not complain and self-pity. Micah raised the question of priority for all who desire God’s acceptance. He gave a clear answer. Pleasing Him requires a person to be rightly related to others. Nothing we bring to Him will be acceptable apart from a life characterized b properly motivated justice in relation to others. Our actions must result in justice for all people, not special privilege for a few. Our hearts must love mercy rather than demand justice for self and every act must come from a relationship built on love with God.

One kind of preaching, teaching, and learning emphasizes elegant language and scintillating ideas but is devoid of spiritual energy. It can be entertaining or boringly dull. In either scenario, it fails to transform lives. Authentic Christian teaching does not bypass the intellect. It is predicated upon the assumption that a rational understanding of the faith must be infused with the spiritual power that reaches to the roots of personality and causes the Word to become “flesh!” The preaching of the gospel is “foolishness” only in the sense that unredeemed people regard it so. Paul neither confessed to foolishness nor advocated it. He certainly was not arguing for an uneducated ministry. Nor was he denouncing education in general. Human knowledge is not opposed o the wisdom of God. It simply falls short of the spiritual understanding that comes through Jesus Christ.

From the Gospel of Matthew we hear of the Beatitudes. The first Gospel contains the most teachings of Jesus. Jesus describes the blessings of citizens of the kingdom of God in nine beatitudes and to be in His kingdom is to be truly happy. Humble service and devotion to God rather than human accomplishments bring happiness. The Ten Commandments were given at Sinai; these commandment give guidelines for faith, and in His Sermon on the Mount, He gave a new and extended ethic for the people of he new covenant. The Law of Moses is still intact, but the One who gave this teaching is greater than Moses. Jesus and His disciples removed themselves and He continued teaching His followers, teaching with blessings, not commands.

The heart and will of was being taught as never before. Inspired witnesses preserved for us the teachings of the Son of God and they inspired words were collected by the disciples, taught to the early church and gathered up to become an ongoing record of God’s revelation about who He is, what He commands, and what He promises. God led Matthew to preserve Christ’s Sermon on the Mount to teach is the essence of the Christian life. A mark of the Spirit within us is a hunger to live out the will of God and without it, we lose the energizing power of the message. Purity is the result of a cleansing. To sinful persons, and that is all of us, being pure at the very core of our being is an awesome task, but that is the reasoning behind our need to repent of sin and be restored or cleansed, to restore our relationship with Jesus. Happy, satisfied, fulfilled will be the one who works for and does the things that make for peace. Thus, those who live by these guidelines will be known by their words and their actions and the peace that is readily recognizable by those who live by Jesus’ guidance.

As Jesus’ sons and daughters are born anew into the new creation. As people become bound together in their faith and service, evangelization takes place, as others see these brothers and sisters coming together in praise and joy and other people have a desire to find the same thing in their lives. Jesus taught His disciples to rejoice and be glad when they were persecuted for following Him. Their reward is found in the kingdom of heaven. How about you, have you found peace and joy in your spirit, that comes from serving Jesus Christ, our Lord? I’m not talking about being rewarded for helping someone in trouble, I’m talking about living a life of servanthood and finding joy for helping people not for others to see, but to help others because it is the right thing to do! It is about living out our faith in a multitude of ways and not being concerned about who might get the credit. It is a life well worth your time, your skills, your money and it warms your heart. Amen!


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