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Happiness: What it Is & How to Have It | Who Are the Blessed?

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
November 17, 2022 3:00 am

Happiness: What it Is & How to Have It | Who Are the Blessed?

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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November 17, 2022 3:00 am

Think persecution doesn’t happen today? More than a dozen Christians die for their faith each day around the world. But even when the persecution isn’t that severe, many of us still face opposition for what we believe. We may not lose our lives, but we may lose our job, a promotion, or a friend. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie brings us a new perspective on persecution, and on several other facets mentioned in the Beatitudes—from the Sermon on the Mount.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.

Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. When you've been living your life as you ought to and you start getting pushed back and you catch flack, it's a confirmation you're a child of God. You think persecution doesn't happen today? More than a dozen Christians die for their faith each day around the world. But even when the persecution isn't that severe, many of us still face opposition for what we believe.

We may not lose our lives, but we may lose our job or a promotion or a friend. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie brings us a new perspective on persecution and on several other facets mentioned in the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. Okay, let's start with a question. How many of you would like to be a happy person? Raise your hand.

Okay, good. How many of you are a happy person? Raise your hand. How many of you would like to be a happier person? Raise your hand. How many of you would like to be a miserable person? Raise your hand.

There are actually people like that. But I hope you're not one of them. Let's pray together. Father, we thank you that you're here in this room with us.

You've told us that when two or more are gathered together in your name, you're there in the midst. So, Lord, as we open your Word, we ask you to speak to us now. We want to know what happiness is.

We want to experience the happiness you desire to give to us. So help us see what that is as we look at these very words of Jesus given in what we call the Sermon on the Mount. We ask this in Jesus' name.

Amen. Matthew 5 starting in verse 3. Blessed or happy 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 filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain 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 they revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely.

You might underline that phrase falsely. We will come back to it. Falsely, for my sake, rejoice and be exceedingly glad. For great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted are the prophets that were before you.

So let's review what we looked at last time in the initial Beatitudes we took a look at. Number one, if you are taking notes, happy are the nobodies. Happy are the nobodies. Now, when he says poor in spirit, that has nothing to do with how much money you have in your bank account. This is about your attitude toward God. It is poor in spirit. So another way to translate this is happy or blessed is the person who sees the real spiritual condition. And what is your real spiritual condition? You are spiritually destitute. You are spiritually impoverished.

You are desperately in need of God. So if you want to be a happy person, you have got to know that about yourself. Number two, unhappy people are happy people.

Well, how does that work? Well, blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. The idea of mourning here is being sorry. Being sorry for my sin. So I mourn over my sin. So I see my condition before God as a sinner, but it is not a hopeless situation because there stands a savior who died on the cross for me and shed his blood for every sin I have ever committed who is ready to pardon and forgive.

But I say, Lord, I am a sinner and I am sorry for my sin. So blessed are those that see themselves as they are. Blessed are those that mourn over that condition. Step number three, happy are the humble. Happy are the humble or blessed are the meek. Seeing myself as I really am produces a vital spiritual quality meekness. I am humbled by the fact that God has forgiven me of my sin.

So happy are the humble. Number four, happy are the spiritually hungry. Happy are the spiritually hungry. Verse six, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

God wants to fill you to overflowing. Number five, happy people are merciful people. Verse seven, blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. In Matthew 6-3, the word for mercy is used concerning almsgiving. Almsgiving. It means to help a person in need and rescue the miserable.

Let me say that again. Mercy means to help a person in need. Mercy is a sense of pity plus a desire to relieve the suffering. See, mercy doesn't just say, oh, look at that poor person. Mercy says, I'm going to do something for that poor person. Oh, look at that hungry person. Mercy says, I'm going to feed that hungry person.

Oh, look at that lonely person. Mercy says, I'm going to be a friend to that lonely person. Mercy is basically pity plus action. Sometimes we'll have pity, oh, I pity that person. Yeah, but mercy is different than pity. Mercy is saying, I'm going to do something to alleviate their suffering. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Listen to this. The more righteous a person is, the more merciful they will be. The more sinful a person is, the more harsh and critical they will be.

This is a very important distinction. Because sometimes people in the guise of spirituality be very condemning and very angry with non-believers or with anyone that does anything that disappoints them and they say that's spiritual. That's not spiritual. Godly people are merciful people. And if you're not a merciful person, you don't understand what it means to be a godly person who is a greater example of mercy than Jesus. Extending mercy to the woman caught in the actual act of adultery.

Extending mercy to the woman at the well married and divorced five times and living with the man at present. Extending mercy to the tax collector Zacchaeus who took advantage of people. Extending mercy to the thief on the cross next to him who was probably guilty of murder.

Mercy, mercy, mercy everywhere he went. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Number six, a happy person will be a holy person. Blessed are these people who are pure in heart. To be pure in heart can also be translated to be single in heart. So what it means is they have a single focus in life. You're a focused person focused on your relationship with God.

Number seven, a happy person will be a peacemaker. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. So what does it mean when Jesus says blessed are the peacemakers? What it means primarily in context is blessed is the man or woman who has seen themself as they really are a sinner without a savior. A person who has become humble and meek. A person who hungers and thirsts after righteousness. A person who has a single focus on God.

And a person who wants others to come into the same relationship with God. Because we're bringing the message of the Prince of Peace. Blessed are the peacemakers.

That's what it really means. You're spreading the gospel of peace. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We're so moved to hear from listeners who join us from every background, every profession, and from all around the world. Hey all, Pastor Greg's life and ministry have been such a big part of my life here in New Zealand since I first saw a crusade movie of his back when I was 16.

I'm 46 now. Not sure I'd still be a Christian if it wasn't for some of Greg's messages that came along right at the time I needed them. Thanks. What a great encouragement to know that these daily studies in God's word make an impact halfway across the world. If you'd like to contact Pastor Greg and tell him your story, email him, Greg at Harvest.org.

Again, that's Greg at Harvest.org. Well, we're digging deep into the Lord's Sermon on the Mount today from Matthew 5. Pastor Greg continues his message called Happiness, What It Is and How to Have It, Part 2. And now, one last beatitude, and I don't think you're going to love this one.

But it's here, and we can't miss it. In fact, Jesus elaborates on this one. Verse 10, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted the prophets that were before you.

Listen to this. This is one promise very few Christians claim. We'll claim a promise of provision. Now, Lord, You've promised to supply all of my needs according to Your riches and glory in Jesus Christ.

We'll claim promises of protection. Lord, You've promised to put Your angels around me. When's the last time You claimed a promise of persecution? Now, Lord, You promised I'd be persecuted. So bring it on, Lord.

No, we wouldn't pray that. Who wants to be persecuted? But here's what the Bible says. All that live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Let me flip that around. If you're not suffering persecution, are you living godly in Christ Jesus? Now, persecution can show itself in many ways.

It can be obviously physical. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world today live at risk the moment they declare their faith in Jesus Christ. In some countries they'll be tortured and put to death.

In other cultures they'll be ostracized from their family and be declared dead. It can be a very dangerous thing to be a Christian in today's world. I read an article called The War on Christians. It said, from Africa to Asia to the Middle East, Christianity and Christians are the world's most persecuted group. No one is more persecuted than Christians today.

So it can be physical. Now, here in America generally that's not the case. But there is persecution in the United States of America against followers of Jesus Christ. And it seems to be growing, where you're ridiculed, you're marginalized, you're mocked, you're threatened, you lose friends, you lose jobs.

You lose a lot of things if you decide to be a Christian. So how should we react to all of these things? Jesus says, blessed are you when these things happen to you. And actually in verse 12 he says, rejoice and be glad, which means jump and skip with happy excitement. No, thank you.

No, yes. Here's why you should rejoice. Because it's a confirmation you're a child of God. See, if no one will ever take the time to persecute you or harass you or mock you or challenge you, maybe you're not living as a child of God. But when you've been living your life as you ought to and you start getting pushed back and you catch flack, that's a confirmation you're a child of God. Someone says, yeah, you Jesus freaks me. I go, hallelujah.

Thank you, Lord. They noticed. Another thing that can come from persecution that's positive is it just reminds you that this world is ultimately not your home and you put your focus on heaven a little bit more. Let's just make sure we're being persecuted for the right reasons. Jesus says, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. It doesn't say blessed are those who are persecuted for being moronic or idiotic or unnecessarily offensive. And sometimes there are people that claim to be Christians that get persecuted and they say, hallelujah, I was persecuted for being righteous. No, you're persecuted because you're weird and you're abrasive and you're unkind and you're insensitive, okay? Be persecuted for being a righteous person, not for being an obnoxious person.

Look, I've just come to this conclusion. There are weird people that claim to be Christians. I don't know if they're Christians or not.

Only God knows, but they claim to be. And then there are people that I will even concede are Christians and they're still weird. Salvation doesn't mean you won't be weird anymore.

It just means, thank God, He saves weird people. Maybe they're a little less weird than they used to be, but they're still weird. And weird people don't usually know they're weird people, but we know who they are. Some of you think I'm one of them and maybe I am.

I don't think so. I think I'm very cool, actually, but you know, that's the problem. You're probably a weirdo to someone. But we understand that we want to be persecuted for the right reasons. Blessed are you when these things happen to you. Give the glory to God. Now, I know I have not painted the most appealing picture of being a Christian. If you come here to church and you're not a believer in Jesus, you're thinking, yeah, you know, I don't know that I ever really want to become a Christian.

You guys get persecuted, you get hassled, you're supposed to be humble, you're supposed to be forgiving. I don't know if I want to live that way. Okay, fine, you don't have to live this way. But if you want to be happy in the truest sense of the word, you will live this way because you will live this way because Christ has come to live inside of you. Listen, it takes courage and commitment to be a follower of Jesus.

Whims need not apply. You want to march and lockstep with culture and parrot what everyone tells you to say and think what everyone tells you to think, you go for it. Any dead fish can go downstream.

It takes a live one to go upstream, you see? So people say today, I'm a rebel. I'm a rebel.

I drink, I smoke. That's not rebellion, that's conformity. You want to be a rebel? I'm a rebel. I believe in Jesus.

I believe in the Bible. And I'll stand up for that. That's a rebel today.

It is. You want to talk about counterculture? That is counterculture today. Because the cultural norm, man, everything's upside down. The things that we used to see as virtues are now seen as vices. The things that we used to celebrate are now mocked. The things we used to say were bad are now declared good. Everything's upside down. If you're a true Christian, you're a true rebel, you're truly counterculture, and you're truly a child of God.

Listen to this. Jesus Christ is worth living for. And if necessary, He's worth dying for.

Let me say that another way. If you believe something and it's not worth dying for, is it worth really living for? See, we follow Christ. Think of people who've given their lives for all these different causes. People that have given their life for Adolf Hitler, you know?

They marched under the swastika and followed Hitler. Others that have followed other false leaders, religious gurus to their own death or have followed these crazy ideas that can destroy their lives. No, you want to be someone that really lives for Christ, that's worth dying for if you have to. I don't know if that will ever happen to any of us here, but I know this much. To live is Christ and to die is gain.

Because for a Christian, death is not the end. It's just moving from one place to another place, and in fact, it's moving to a much better place. And we have a life worth living on this earth, living life to its fullest. So it's the best of both worlds. It's the best of this world, and then it's the afterlife and the presence of God.

Here's the other side of that. When you're not a Christian, you don't live the best life you possibly can live. You live a life filled with guilt, a life filled with regret if you have a conscience, a life filled with repercussions from bad decisions you've made, a life of emptiness, and then you have a life where you fear death because you know it's coming. And then you go into the afterlife, and to be honest, you'll spend all eternity separated from God in hell. And I take no pleasure in telling you that, but that is the absolute gospel truth. And the last thing Jesus Christ wants is for any person to go to hell. That's why he went and died on the cross for your sin and took the full wrath of God in your place so you could be forgiven and not go to hell, but instead go to heaven. He wants to give mercy to you.

He wants to extend forgiveness to you. But you must say, I'm a sinner, like we talked about in the beginning. Just, hey, Lord, I'm a sinner, and I need your help.

We're gonna close in prayer now. There might be a few here that have never said that to God. You've never admitted your need for God. You've never asked Christ to come into your life, but you can do that right here, right now, and your life can change.

Your life in this earth, and of course, you'll have the hope of the afterlife and the presence of God. If you've never asked Jesus to come into your life, respond to this invitation as we close now in prayer. That's all by our heads. Father, thank you for your word to us. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for us on the cross and to rise again from the dead. Lord Jesus, I pray for any person here or anyone listening or watching, wherever they may be, if they don't know you yet, help them to come to you and believe in you and be forgiven by you. We ask this in your name. Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer. And if you'd like to make a change today in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg will help you do that in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. Well, Pastor Greg, we're excited about the new film on the life of Johnny Cash.

Tell us about this new film. You know, Dave, as we think about Johnny Cash's life, let me contrast it with Steve McQueen because I wrote a book on both of them and we did a film about McQueen's life as well. McQueen was a hedonist extraordinaire. He knew nothing of God, never went to church as a boy. One day, he saw a godly man that he spent a lot of time with and that man shared the gospel with Steve and Steve McQueen became a Christian. It was a black and white moment.

It was a dramatic conversion. The story of Johnny Cash is different. Johnny was raised in a Christian home, albeit with a cold and distant father, but he did love the Lord. In fact, he wanted to originally be a gospel recording artist, but he ended up becoming a country superstar and in many ways defined his own style of music, but Johnny struggled throughout his life. Johnny would be walking closely with the Lord, then he would have elapsed. He struggled with drugs like amphetamines and barbiturates and drinking.

He had his highs and lows and his ups and downs, but in the end, Johnny made that recommitment to the Lord. So, I bring this up because we all know folks like this. You know, some people come to Christ, their past is in their rear view mirror and it's onward and upward. Others, they have a lifelong struggle, sometimes with drugs or alcohol, sometimes with other sins, but they're always struggling and we say, how can I help a person like that? I have a suggestion. Bring them to see this brand new documentary film, Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon, because they'll see a story of a man who struggled but found his way back to the Lord and how God helped him and sustained him. A great idea. Sometimes struggling people need to see that breakthrough demonstrated. They need to see that someone else walked that pathway.

So bring that friend to see Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon. It's a Fathom event that's just days away. You can see the dates at our website, harvest.org. And tickets are going fast, so contact us today. We're making tickets available as a way to say thank you for your generous support and help us make a new beginning possible. So go online today to harvest.org or call us at 1-800-821-3300.

Call anytime, 24-7, 1-800-821-3300. Pastor Guy, just before we go, would you mind praying with that person listening who wants to make a change today in their relationship with the Lord? I'd be happy to, Dave. You know, as you've been listening to this today, maybe you've heard another voice. By that I mean, yeah, you heard me say a few things, but you heard God's voice speak to you deep in the recesses of your heart, and it suddenly dawned on you, this is what I need. Or to state it more accurately, this is who I need. I need Jesus, and I want Jesus.

But maybe you don't know how to make that connection. Let me help you. Pray this after me right now if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life. Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sin, and I need your forgiveness right now. Would you come into my heart and my life as Savior, as God, as friend?

I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for calling me and accepting me and forgiving me. In Jesus' name I pray, amen. I know that was a relatively short prayer. Maybe you felt something as you prayed it.

Maybe you felt nothing. That doesn't really matter, because God's word says these things we write to you that believe on the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. It doesn't say so you may think you have it or you may hope you have it if God's in a good mood. No, that you can know it, and I want you to know if you pray that prayer in a minute, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come into your life.

So congratulations. You're now a Christian. Now continue to follow the Lord. And to help you, we'd like to send you some resource materials we call our New Believers' Growth Packet.

It'll answer many of the questions you might have and get you started off right in your new relationship with the Lord. So get in touch and ask for it. We'll send it free of charge. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime around the clock, again at 1-800-821-3300.

Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514. Or go to harvest.org and click the words Know God. Well, Pastor Greg says temptation often comes at us like flaming arrows from the devil.

How do we resist that attack? We'll find out next time as we continue our studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. Hey, everybody. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make Him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-17 10:50:41 / 2022-11-17 11:01:10 / 10

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