jan 29 sermon, "Life is Good", based on Matthew 5 (The Sermon on the Mount)

 
The other morning, I saw a jeep driving along and they have the spare tire on the back.
The cover for that spare tire had written on it….. ‘Life is Good’.
And I thought to myself,….aren’t they lucky; I hope that is true for them.

Isn’t it nice when everything is going swell and you can’t help but feel good?
When we got enough loot in our pockets to not worry about bills and such.
When we’re good physically and everyone around us is in good health.
When we’re feeling smart and confident and our spirits are up and positive?
When nobody can say or do anything to make us feel foolish or bring us down?

When all those stars align, seems like we’ve got pretty much everything we could want.
Pretty much everything except for one thing that’s often missing……..  -  God.
That’s because when life is good, more often than not we give scant attention to God.
We might say “Oh, yeah,…thanks God for this, or that,… I feel so blessed by you”.
But that’s generally about all we take time for with Him when things are going swell.

We give God less time when ‘life is good’ is because we don’t need Him so much.
I don’t want to say we take God for granted,…but maybe there’s some truth there. 
We’re just kind of grateful that He’s doing a good job taking care of our lives.
But generally, when things are good we can often equate that with… ‘No God’.

Of course, this is not what God wants in a relationship with us.
How would your relationship be with someone if you gave them limited attention?
Even if you thanked them for something now and then, they’d still feel left out.
Fortunately, God doesn’t just ignore us in return so as to to get even.

Let me ask a question - How often in life have those things we listed been not so good?
When there seems to be not enough money and that becomes a big concern?
When you, or your kids, parents, and others that you love have not so good health?
Times when have you felt less than smart and not so confident about things?
Or maybe when others made you feel foolish and brought you down?

Nobody, I would guess, has all the good things, at least not all the time.
The reality of life is that we live in a broken, sinful world and life ain’t always so good.

The world around us sings us songs, like “Don’t worry, be happy”.
Songs that encourage us to be cheery; “Cause I’m happy,…like a room without a roof”.
And “If your happy and you know it clap your hands” (stamp your feet) etc., etc. 
If things in life could just always be good, we’d always be happy and, so then, God ought to be too.

So why do the words of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (The Beatitudes) seem odd?
The word ‘Blessed’ is really properly translated to also mean ‘happy’.
Jesus says ‘Blessed (happy) are the poor…(happy) are those who mourn…(happy are the meek”…(happy) are those who thirst for righteousness”.
And then “(Happy are those who are persecuted…..when people revile you and utter all kinds of evil against your falsely”.

I’d guess that when we say ‘Life is Good’ those things aren’t part of our assessment.
So what in the heck is Jesus talking about there?

Well,…the answer is in the second part of each statement.
For “the poor in spirit”…he says “theirs is the kingdom of heaven
For “those who mourn”…he says “they will be comforted”.
For “those who hunger for righteousness”… he says “they will be filled”.
For “those who are persecuted”… he says “your reward is great in heaven”.

Each of those positive outcomes are things that are provided by God through Christ.
Each of what might seem to be causes for unhappiness,…are turned on their heads.
Things we’d say make ‘life not so good’,…end up with God ushering in something good.
That’s because God wants us to be happy, despite the messed up world we live in.

So as opposed to when things are good and our lives equal = ‘No God’,… 
when things are bad and we’re unhappy is exactly when we most fully need to ‘Know God’.
It’s then that we turn to God in faith and hope to look forward to signs of His love.

A good life, according to Jesus,…is not when things go perfectly.
Perfection is not just when everything is hunky dory and we’re happy, happy, happy.
Jesus says that we’re good when we’re in perfect harmony with God.
When we do more than give a now and then ‘thanks’ and realize that we need his help.
When we realize that in our woes and sorrows and even our death He will be there.
When in those bad times God can help us through the problem and make things good.

And not only Jesus reminds of this, but the whole of the bible tells us that too.
In the reading today from Micah, we hear one of the most famous verses in scripture.
What does God ask of us” it says?
To do justice,….to love mercy/kindness,…and to walk humbly with our God”.

That last part is key, because it urges two things - being humble and being with God.
To be “humble” is to acknowledge our flaws and problems and look for God’s help.
So to walk humbly with God is to be close with God, know God, and seek his help.
Ironically,….its when life is not so good that we walk closest and most humbly with God.

While God wants us all to be happy and for life to be good,…even more so, God wants us to look to Him…turn to Him,…and trust in Him.
So that when things are not so good,…His love can provide us with what we need.
God’s help is what we need today,….and its what we’ll need on our last day.
Life is good and we are most blessed and happy when we walk humbly with God.

Amen