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Can a Christian experience TRUE happiness? Or is the Christian to be consigned to a life of vacillation, meandering in the depths of guilt and frustration, occasionally rising to highs of joy and sporadic satisfaction? Does God consign us to a life of misery and boredom, or does He know the perfect path to true happiness, contentment and satisfaction?

Is it possible for the Christian to experience daily satisfaction, contentment, security and guilt-free living; in a word, “happiness”? Our Lord says…… yes. Not only can a Christian experience it, ONLY a Christian can experience it.

Blessed are….

  • Happy, blissful, fulfilled.
  • Greek: Makarios – to be fully satisfied; indicates the state of the believer in Christ; He is indwelt by God because of Christ and as a result is fully satisfied
    • More than just happy because happiness speaks of good fortune and circumstances
    • In the world, yet independent of it when it comes to fulfillment
    • Satisfaction from God, not circumstances
    • The joy that comes from knowing you are saved
    • Blessedness is not static or instant, but progressive, dependent on the implementation of the Beatitudes
  • Other NT uses (emphasis mine):
    • Acts 20:35 ….‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
    • Romans 4:7-8Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.
    • Romans 14:22 22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
    • James 1:12,25 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
    • 1 Pet 3.14 – But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.
    • 1 Peter 4:14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you
    • Revelation 22:7,14 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

Jesus came to earth to save mankind and bring happiness, joy and peace that only He can give. While He instituted a higher standard [1] of attitudes and motivations, He was not ignoring external behavior. To the contrary, an “inside” that is right, will produce a right “outside”, but not the reverse.

Why study the Beatitudes?

  1. It shows the importance and necessity of being regenerated
    1. The standards can never be met in our flesh. But spiritually, with God’s empowerment, you can continually grow closer to these truths. The emphasis is switched from external behavior to internal attitudes.
  2. We have Jesus own words on how to live and what He was like
    1. Want to know what Jesus was like? Listen to His own words which He would have lived perfectly.
  3. It is the only real “recipe” for happiness
    1. God’s own steps and advice for achieving happiness. The only “infomercial” worth listening to!
  4. Living the Beatitudes is perfect evangelism
    1. Imagine the impact if everyone lived the Beatitudes as Christ taught them
  5. Obedience
    1. Obedience is listed over and over in the Bible as one of the greatest fruits and evidences of real Christianity

Application of the Beatitudes will produce a truly “set apart” Christian. Modern Christian lifestyle and standards can scarcely be differentiated from the world despite our clear instructions to be “called out”, “set apart”, “peculiar, special” and striving for holiness (emphasis mine):

· Eph 4:20-24 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

· 1 Pet 2.9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

· Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

The Beatitudes are sacred paradoxes running counter to everything the world and our American society say is important. What the world calls a message of “kill joy misery” the Lord says is perfect advice for consistent happiness. Blessed are:

  • Jesus: the poor in spirit (humility)
  • World: the confident, the “self-esteemed”, the proud
  • Jesus: the meek (recognizing his sin and mourning it)
  • World: those who do things “their way”, answering to no one but themselves
  • Jesus: those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
  • World: those who seek fame, power, wealth and glory
  • Jesus: the merciful
  • World: the ruthless, the relentless, the “hard core”
  • Jesus: the pure in heart
  • World: the people who let no pleasure be called improper as long as it “doesn’t hurt anyone else”
  • Jesus: the peacemakers
  • World: those who pursue their “rights” no matter what
  • Jesus: the persecuted
  • World: those who live the “good life”

Happiness is NOT found in any worldly pursuit. The Book of Ecclesiastes is about a man (Solomon) who attained everything the world could offer: fame, power, wisdom, wealth, accomplishment and pleasure. When it was all done, he proclaimed it all “vanity”.

The Lord graciously removed our ability to say “if only” we could have or do this or that by allowing a man to have and do everything the world can give. Do you think to yourself: “I would be truly happy if only”:

  • I could make more money
  • I could get my bills paid off
  • I could be married to the right person
  • I could have some “fun”
  • I could get the recognition I deserve
  • I could have the right house and cars
  • I could what this other person has
  • I would have been born in different circumstances
  • I wouldn’t have been “unlucky” in life
  • I had better physical health
  • I was as smart or Godly as so and so
  • I could get a break in life
  • This other person wasn’t making me unhappy

We will never find happiness in circumstances. Only the truly saved will be happy because only true happiness can be manifested through the confidence and assurance of our eternal destination.

The Beatitudes also show the steps of our salvation and destination:

  • Poor in spirit: acknowledge your spiritual bankruptcy
  • Mourn: grieve over your sin and your “lostness”
  • Hunger and thirst for righteousness: seek after God and His ways
  • Merciful: God changes our behavior and we become different people
  • Pure in heart: this is sanctification, becoming holy
  • Peacemakers: bring peace to those around us both literally in circumstances, and through sharing the Gospel
  • Persecuted: we endure for God’s glory and finally receive the “kingdom of heaven”

Today’s modern Christian package of “easy believism” allows converts to enjoy a short intense time of happiness but does not translate into life long peace and joy. The typical Christian experiences not a sustained comfort and presence of God, but a roller coaster spiritual life with great highs and lows with very little long term consistency.

When God calls He commands “FOLLOW ME”. And from that day forward every time I choose to follow myself instead of Him, I will experience a lack of fellowship and victory in my life. “Follow Me” leaves no option for following anyone or anything but the Lord. An understanding of the Beatitudes and the sincere application of them will allow us to live in a long lasting pattern of obedience, fellowship and consistency…. the very thing we all long for, but few attain.

There is nothing “easy” about the Beatitudes, or about being a true Christian, so let’s not pretend there is. However, let’s not confuse that to mean there is no joy, peace or comfort in living God’s way. To the contrary, you can ONLY experience true contentment and satisfaction by living as the Lord commands.

This is one of the great paradox’s of Christianity. God’s way is always contrary to man’s:

  • Give up your life, to gain the greatest life
    • John 12:25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
  • Humble yourself and be exalted by God
    • 1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time
  • Treat others as more deserving than yourself, and God will give to you
    • Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
  • Serve others and gain reward
    • Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
  • Seek God first, and everything other need will be supplied
    • Luke 12:31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
  • Give up and give away and sacrifice everything, and you will receive the greatest blessings imaginable

He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep,

to gain that which he cannot lose. (Elliot)

Jesus created a completely new standard with the Beatitudes. Gone was any type of “checklist” obedience. His teaching went straight to the heart. External rules were not needed because if the heart is right, your actions will be right.

The Lord summed up this standard for us:

  • Matt 12.29-31 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

The Beatitudes contain more specific ways for us to accomplish this command. Our lives must demonstrate our profession of Christ. The Scripture has many warnings for those who claim Christ, but don’t live Christ (emphasis mine):

· Matt 5.15 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees [2] , you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

· Hebrews 12:14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

· 2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

· Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

· 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

If you are a professing Christian, do you strive to put away your old habits and behavior? The “blessed are” blessing only apply to Christians. How can you know for sure if you are truly a Christian? Does the Bible give us any “tests” by which we can know for sure? YES! (emphasis mine)

· Do you keep His commandments?

o 1 John 2:3-6 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

o 1 John 3:24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

· Do you love others, especially other Christians?

o 1 John 2:9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

o I John 3.16-17 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

o 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

· Do you confess Jesus Christ is the Son of God?

o 1 John 2:23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

o 1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

o 1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

· Do you love and practice righteousness?

o 1 John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

o 1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.

o 1 John 3:10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

o 1 John 3:18-19 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.

· Do you hate sin and wickedness?

o 1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

· Do you acknowledge and confess your sinfulness?

o 1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

We can KNOW if we are saved. If we are, then Jesus teaching about having true happiness can apply to us. Do you know you are truly saved and following Christ?

Lesson 1 Notes – Blessed Are… Cosmic Kill Joy or Loving Father

Can a Christian experience TRUE happiness?

Blessed are….

  • Definition: _____________, _________________ and _______________________.
    • Greek: Makarios – to be fully _______________________; indicates the state of the believer in Christ; He is indwelt by God because of Christ and as a result is fully satisfied
  • Other NT uses:

Jesus did not ignore external behavior. An _________________ that is right,

will produce an _________________ that is right.

Why study the Beatitudes?

  1. It shows the importance and necessity of being _____________________.

    The emphasis is switched from _____________ behavior to ______________ attitudes.

  2. We have Jesus own words on how to ____________ and what ___________________

  3. It is the only real ___________________ for ___________________

  4. Living the Beatitudes is the perfect ___________________

  5. ___________________ to God

Sacred paradoxes: (the world vs. God)

What are some “if only’s” that supposedly bring happiness:

The Lord summed up God’s standard and commands in two parts:

  • Love the _______________________ your _______________________ with all your

    _______________________, with all your _______________________, with all your

    _______________________, and with all your _______________________. This is the

    _______________ commandment.

  • The __________________ commandment is this: Love your ____________________

    as _______________________.

  • There is _________ other commandment _______________________ than these.

Evidences of true salvation:

· Do you keep His _______________________?

· Do you love _______________________, especially other _____________________?

· Do you confess _______________________ is the _______________________?

· Do you love and practice _______________________?

· Do you hate _______________________?

· Do you acknowledge and confess your _______________________?

Lesson 1 – Group Discussion, Private Contemplation & Application

Group Discussion:

1. What does our society promote as “happiness”? What are the real results?

2. In the past, what are some things (besides God) you have sought that you thought would bring happiness?

3. What temporary happiness occurred?

4. In the long run, did it bring sustained happiness? What results did you hope for that ended up being missing?

5. What are some “if only’s” that you think would bring happiness?

Private Contemplation:

1. Are you sure of your salvation?

2. Do you exhibit evidences in your life that you are truly saved? (confession of Christ, obedience of God’s commands, loving your fellow man, becoming more holy and less worldly, living in expectation of eternity with God, etc.)

a. If yes, thank God and ask him to help you move into an even deeper walk with him.

b. If no, examine your life carefully. Ask for help, prayer, counsel and guidance from a Godly friend or one of the group (Brent – 902-8252; Lynn – 519-9040)

c. BE SURE of your salvation. Insecurity about your relationship with God will hinder you immeasurably. Being sure of your standing with God will allow you to grow and enjoy your Christian life.

3. What have you spent your life pursuing thinking it would bring happiness?

4. What misery and disappointment has been your reward by seeking happiness outside of Christ?

5. Deep down, do you believe that living a Christian life (humility, service, sacrifice, holiness) is a “drag” and is going to result in a boring, “no fun” life?

6. Deep down, do you crave the happiness the world offers with its short term pleasure and long term guilt? Why do you think you would crave this?

7. Truth be known, are you scared to try happiness “Gods’ way”? Do you trust God? Do you believe He wants what is best for you, or only wants to ruin your plans? What reasons, known only in your own private thoughts, do you have for not trusting that God’s way is the perfect way?

8. Being totally honest with God, what are your private “if only’s” that you think would bring you happiness?

Life Application Suggestions:

1. If you do not have a time of regular prayer, commit to spending the first ten minutes of each day this week asking God to instill in you the desire to seek happiness His way.

2. Besides your spouse, choose one other person in this group and pray each day that God will make these truths REAL in that persons life.

3. Read Matthew 5:1-12 one time each day this week and spend 5 minutes contemplating and meditating on the words. Ask God to reveal the truth of the words to your heart and mind.

4. Ask God to show the folly of your “if only’s” and instill in you’re the wisdom of true happiness.

[1] Some say the Beatitudes apply to the Millennial time because the standards are impossibly high. This cannot be for several reasons: He wasn’t preaching to Millennial people, he was preaching to people sitting in front of him; Believers won’t be persecuted in the Millennium so Matt 5.10 won’t apply; Matt 5.44 would be meaningless… “Love your enemies…”

[2] Remember, this was very scandalous and difficult for both the common people and the Pharisees. The Pharisees had set up an impossibly complex system of laws and rituals, but not so complex that they couldn’t give the appearance of keeping it themselves. So in the eyes of the people (and their own!) the Pharisees were the most righteous on earth. And yet the Lord was saying that you had to be more righteous (in truth they were not righteous at all) than them if you wanted eternal life.

[3] Luke 18:9-14 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

[4] Matthew 12:31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.

[5] 1 Thessalonians 2:12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

[6] Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

[7] 1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

[8] Luke 6:20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. This verse is part of Jesus overall teaching and should be interpreted in light of Jesus commandments. No where in Scripture does it specifically state that wealth in and of itself is sinful, nor is poverty somehow innately righteous. It is always a matter of the heart.

[9] Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

[10] Psalm 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.

[11] 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

[12] Psalm 50:10 For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills.

[13] Romans 8:28-30 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

[14] 2Samuel 13

[15] Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?