A Christianity That Works Part III

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 06, February 17, 2008

"How To Make Up Your Mind"
How do you make decisions?

Do you struggle making choices?

Life is basically a series of choices. Everyday we contemplate, evaluate, perhaps even hesitate and then we draw conclusions. However, we don’t always know how to do that.

It has been said, “We make our decisions and then our decisions make us.”

Q. What is the secret of business success?
Wise decisions.
Q. How can I learn to make wise decisions?
Q. How do you get experience?
Dumb decisions!

Read James 1:5-11

Verse 8 “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Double-mindedness is translated ‘confused”. James says if you can't make up your mind it produces instability. He says in fact, all your ways will become unstable. Constant turmoil.

Three ways indecision makes you unstable:
Unstable emotions
You worry and fret wondering if you made the right move, made the right decision or choice. Second guessing. You can't sleep or eat.

You go to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist asks, “Are you indecisive?”" You say, “I used to be, but now I'm not sure.”

Unstable relationships
When parents say one thing, then say another thing it causes instability with the children. Never being certain about decisions being made, “Are we going or not going?” Will you or won’t you?” Hard to live like that.

Some people use up more energy deciding what to do than it would take to just do it.

Unstable spiritual life
Verse 7 “That man should not think that he'll receive anything from the Lord.”

Indecision keeps God from giving and you from receiving. Some folks wonder why God doesn’t answer their prayers. Perhaps they are not specific enough. Perhaps they’ve never really decided what it is they want. No clear-cut goal.

Pilgrim's Progress talks about a man, Mr. Facing-Both-Ways. He wanted to do his will and God's will at the same time.

THE SOLUTION: “Get wisdom”. James says, "If any of you lack wisdom, ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him."

Then he gives three practical steps.
You Admit, You Ask, You Anticipate.

Admit your need.
verse 5 “If you lack wisdom”.

Wisdom is different from knowledge in that wisdom is knowledge put into practice.
Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes then comes disgrace. But with humility comes wisdom.”

Pride blocks wisdom
Hard to learn anything if you think you know it all. The key to wisdom is to admit that you need wisdom.

Ask for wisdom
“If any man lack wisdom he should ask God.”

Proverbs 2:6 “It is the Lord who gives wisdom, from Him comes knowledge and understanding.” Wisdom comes from God.

James 4:2 “You have not because you ask not.” Could it be that simple? The reason we don’t have wisdom is we didn’t ask.

Twenty times in the New Testament it says, “Ask and it shall be given”. This phrase literally says, “keep on asking, be persistent”.

As your pastor, I wouldn't dare to lead our church without continually asking God for wisdom. I pray this prayer every day and sometimes 100 times a day.

In our new work especially, my spiritual responsibility as the Shepherd is to discover what God wants to do in this His body.

Anticipate it
Expect an answer in faith when you pray. “If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask of God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him. But when he asks he must believe and not doubt.” Circle ‘not doubt’.

If you want wisdom…..
First you must ask the right person.
Then you must ask the right way (in faith, believing, not doubting)

Perhaps we are looking at the problem rather than at the Lord, the solution.

“He who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

Sadly, many of God’s children are victims of their circumstances. If you want any help from God you've got to believe in advance you're going to get it. That's faith!

Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God. Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

“If any man lacks wisdom he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

God wants to give you wisdom. Just like it pleased God when Solomon asked for wisdom, it pleases God when we come to Him and say, “I haven't got a clue as to what I'm supposed to do.”

It is God's nature to give. Look how James says God will give wisdom:
Continually….“Ask God who gives”
Literally keeps on giving in a continuous tense.

Generously…..His resources are unlimited. He has enough resources for everybody.

Without finding fault…..God gives cheerfully. God doesn’t resent you asking for wisdom, it actually pleases Him.

Have you ever received a gift from someone who gave it to you begrudgingly? Kind of takes the joy out of it, doesn’t it?

God does not want to nor will He make the decision for you. He wants you to make the decision, based on His wisdom.

Perhaps we need to confess that we are poor decision-makers. Admitting that we don't know which way to turn, opens the door to God’s intervention.

God's wisdom is found in His Word.

Psalm 119:105 “God's word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Don’t leave it up to chance - choose to trust God. That may be the deeper issue here, an inability to trust God.

The most important decision you can ever make is to build a relationship with Jesus Christ.

As your relationship with Him grows, it will produce incredible stability and as you lean on Him moment by moment you'll find guidance in every other area of your life.

A Christianity That Works Part II

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 05, February 10, 2008

"Profiting From Your Problems" It is good to have you with us again. In today’s session we are going to discover the secret to enable us to profit from our problems. For our Information source we will look again to the book of James. This has got to be the most practical book in the New Testament.

When you write a letter you normally figure that the guy is going to warm up and ease into his subject. But, James drops a bomb in verse 2. He announces who he is and then he says, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds

How would you like to get a letter like that? "This is a letter from me... You got problems? Be happy!"

How? There's no way I could be happy. You don't know my situation. The key is the phrase "because you know". "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

Your attitude is determined by your understanding.
Rejoicing is not just positive thinking - it is based on some facts of life.

1. Problems are inevitable Scripture doesn't say, "If you encounter problems" it says whenever -- in other words - count on it, you are going to have problems.

If you don't have problems, check your pulse. It is a fact of life. Jesus said "In the world you will have tribulation." Peter said, "Don't be surprised when you have problems." Count on it. Problems are not an elective in life. They are a required course.

2. Problems are unpredictable. He says, "...whenever you face problems ..." The word "face" in the Greek it literally means "to fall into unexpectedly".

Problems are unplanned and unpredictable. We don't plan to get sick or have a flat. That's what makes a problem a problem.

3. Problems of many kinds They come in all shapes and sizes.

"Many kinds" literally means "multi colored". They vary in intensity and in duration. Some are minor inconveniences. Some are major crises.
Problems definitely come in more than 31 flavors.

4. Problems are purposeful

Problems purify my faith. He uses the word "testing", as in testing gold and silver. You would heat them up very hot until the impurities -- the dross -- was burned off.

Job said "He has tested me through the refining fire and I have come out as pure gold." The first things trials do is test our faith. Christians are a lot like tea bags. You don't know what's inside of them until you drop them in hot water.
Then you know.

Your faith develops when things don't go as planned.

Your faith develops when you don't feel like doing what's right. It purifies your faith.

Christians are like steel; when they're tested they come out stronger.

We've been in a test for over a year.

We've been in a course on character development. God is much more interested in building disciples than He is in building buildings.

Problems purify our faith.

Problems fortify our patience. ...the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

James is talking about staying power, not a passive patience, but staying power, endurance. The ability to keep on keeping on, hanging in there.

The Greek here is literally "the ability to stay under pressure."

People don't like pressure and they do everything they can to avoid it. They run from it, take drugs, drink alcohol, go to Disneyland, anything to get away from pressure.
But God uses problems in our lives to teach us how to handle pressure, how to never give up.

There was a time in my life I prayed for patience, and the problems got worse. Finally, after a while, I realized I was a lot more patient than when I first started out.

How does God teach you patience?

By everything going your way? No. God teaches you patience in traffic jams, grocery lines, the waiting periods of life.

Problems sanctify my character.
They make me like Jesus.
They help me mature.
They help me to grow.

"The testing of your faith produces perseverance that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

That's God's long range goal. His ultimate purpose is maturity. In the Christian life, character is the bottom line.

So many Christians have absolutely no idea of God's agenda in their life. They don't know what's happening and as a result they are overwhelmed by their problems.

God's number one purpose in my life and in your life is to make you and I like Jesus Christ.

God is much more interested in building my character than in making me comfortable.

If God is going to make me like Jesus, He's going to take me through the things Jesus went through. There were times when Jesus was lonely, tempted to be depressed and discouraged.

So many Christians say, "Everything was going great when I first became a believer. Then all of these problems came. Maybe God doesn't love me. Maybe I'm not a Christian.
You are exactly where God wants you. You're in a character course. He's making you like Jesus.

Romans 8:28 "We know that all things work together for good" [not all things are good but they work together for good] if we love God and are called according to His purpose."

The secret of Romans 8:28 is 8:29 "For whom he did foreknow He did predestine to become conformed to the image of the Son of God."

Q. Why do all things work together for good?
A. In order to make me like Christ.

How does God teach us the fruit of the spirit? By putting us in the exact opposite situation.

If God wants to teach you love, He puts you around unlovely people. If He wants to teach you peace, God puts you around chaos.


(The 3 Rs) Rejoice Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials... He's not saying, Fake it.

God never asks you to deny reality. He's also not talking about masochism. "Good! I get to suffer! I just love to suffer! I feel so spiritual when I feel bad!"

We don't rejoice for the problem, we rejoice in the problem. We don't thank God for the situation we thank God in the situation. I Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you in Christ Jesus. It does not say, "For everything give thanks." It says "In everything give thanks." Why?

It means we can thank God because we know that He can even take the bad in our lives and turn it around and bring good out of it. The source of your problems doesn’t really matter.

God can use them for your growth and His glory.

What makes a difference?
Your attitude. It says, Consider it pure joy...

Consideration is a choice.
Although I cannot control the circumstances, I can control how I respond to them.

Psalm 34:1 I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

You'll either be bitter or better. The difference between bitter and better is the letter "i".
I make the difference -- my attitude.

Request Pray. v. 5 If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him.

You ought to pray for wisdom so you won't waste the opportunity to grow. If you don't learn it this time there’ll be one more lap around the mountain! O’ God make me a quick learner!

Wisdom is seeing life from God's point of view. Pray for wisdom to understand the problem.

Relax Trust God to know what's best for your life. Co-operate with His purpose, don't short circuit the process. Relax, let God work. (that’s faith)

God sees everything you're going through. He's got your number! The very hairs of your head are numbered. God has the power to do something about your problem. He could change it in a snap. He's a miracle working God. So why doesn't He? Because there's a greater purpose. The greater purpose is what He wants to do in you.

God is more interested in building your character than in making life comfortable.

There is a fantastic promise in v. 12 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial. When he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." God says there will be a reward.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we know You care about us and are allowing these situations in our lives, not to break us but to make us. Not to destroy us, but to develop us. Lord, help us to be triumphant under trials. Help us to learn how to profit from our problems.

Work in our lives for our growth and Your glory. Thank You for Your Word. Thank You that it is clear. It is relevant. It applies to our lives. It helps us. Lord, encourage us this week as we meditate on this message in Jesus' name. Amen

A Christianity That Works Part I

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 04, February 3, 2008

"The Marks Of Maturity"
This will be a 15 part mini series out of the Book of James. Judi and I are convinced that this wonderful book is a “must” study for all believers. It is our prayer that this series of messages will bring about a Christianity that works in the real world.

Perhaps the number one cause of problems in the world is immaturity. We get ourselves into all kinds of problems by saying immature things, making immature decisions, acting in immature ways. We just need to grow up.

In Hebrews 6:1 it says, “Let us go on to maturity”. God says grow up! That's why one of the purposes of our fellowship is to help everybody grow spiritually, emotionally, mentally, in every way and have balanced Christian living.

What is maturity?

WHAT MATURITY IS NOT: It has nothing to do with how long you've lived or how long you've been a Christian. You can be a Christian for fifty years and not be mature.

Maturity is not appearance. Some people just look mature, or more spiritual than the rest of us. Looks can be deceiving.

Maturity has nothing to do with what you accomplish. You can accomplish a lot and still be very immature. You don't have to be mature to make millions.

Maturity has nothing to do with how many degrees or how much education you have. You can have so many degrees they call you Dr. Fahrenheit, but that doesn’t make you mature.

God says maturity is all about attitude.

God wants you to grow up and have Christlike attitudes. Do not compare yourself to other people, rather compare yourself to God’s Word.

The book of James (a manual on maturity) gives 5 marks of maturity.


James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.”

How do you handle trials?
The first test of maturity is how you react to problems. Do they blow you away? Do you get uptight or negative? Do you grumble and gripe?

Christianity is a life, not a religion. IT’S A LIFE! Jesus said, “I've come that you might have life”. Life means problems and part of life means solving problems and facing them with the right attitude.

Q. What is your natural attitude?
A. Your natural or normal reaction when things go wrong and you're irritated.

Are you negative or are you positive? Are you basically a supportive person or are you a skeptical person? Is your life filled with gratitude or gripping? Are you affirmative or angry most of the time?

James says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”

You can be great in the knowledge of the Bible and be cantankerous as all get out!


“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, `Love your neighbor as yourself' you are doing right.” James 2:8
A mature person is sensitive to people. He doesn't just see his own needs, he sees other people's needs. He understands their hurts. He's not just interested in himself.

Children, when they're immature, only see themselves. “I want this or that! I don't care about anybody else.” God says that being interested in others, is a mark of maturity.

How you treat others is a test of maturity.

Matthew 25 shows the one thing we will be judged for, and that is how we treated others.


James 3:2 “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”

The first thing a doctor will say when you go for a check up is “Stick out your tongue”. He uses your tongue to check your health. God does that spiritually, too.

Definition of gossip: hearing something you like about somebody you don't.

James 3 gives several illustrations. He says a little bit in a horse's mouth allows us to control the direction of the horse. A little rudder on a boat can control the direction of the boat.

Your tongue, which, by size is very insignificant, controls your life. What you say directs your life. What you say brings life or death. It can encourage or discourage.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I just say what's on my mind”?
That may not always be acceptable. Maybe what's on their mind shouldn't be said out loud.

Frankness may simply be immaturity. We could do with a bit more tactfulness.

Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any negative talk come out of your mouth but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs.” Circle the word “any”.

When you talk, say things to build other people up. If it doesn't build somebody else up, don't say it, even if it's the truth. That's a mark of maturity.

A mature person manages his mouth. No matter how long you've been a Christian, if you can't master your mouth, you've missed the point. James 1:26 “If anyone considers himself religious, yet doesn’t keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself, his religion is worthless.”


James 4:1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?”

He's talking about conflict here. He says there are inner quarrels and fights and they come from our inner desires. You want something and you don't get it. You kill and covet but you can’t have what you want.

Are you a peacemaker or a troublemaker?
Do you like to argue?
Do you get defensive easily?
Do I hurt other people's feelings?

Paul told the Corinthian church, “You guys are a bunch of babies”. They argued about everything. They argued about the Lord's Supper, gifts, leadership, everything. That's a mark of immaturity.

Why is there so much conflict in the world?
Why is there conflict between former friends?
Why is there conflict between Christians?
Why is there conflict between me and God?
Why is there conflict?

James says, the first cause of conflict is selfishness. 4:11-12 “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. There is only one lawgiver and judge, one who is able to save and destroy. But, who are you to judge your neighbor?”

Proverbs 13:10 “Only by pride comes contention.” Pride guarantees conflict at work, church, home, wherever.

Another source of conflict is judging others.

God says, “Don't judge people”. If you do this you're asking for a fight. You're always finding fault, always stirring up strife, always spreading rumors. Don't judge!

When you judge somebody it's playing God. Only God has all the facts, you don't and neither do I.

When I judge someone, I don't have all the facts. I don't know the motives, and you don't either. You can't tell what's in somebody's heart. Only God does.


James 5:7,11 “Be patient then, brothers, until the Lord's coming.” Many times God will say to you, “Not yet”. He doesn't mean “no”, He just saying, “You've got to wait, I want you to develop, to grow”.
So here are the tests:

1. How do you handle problems? Are you positive under pressure?

2. Are you sensitive to other people? Do you pray for others?

3. Can you manage your mouth? Do you only say things that build up others?

4. Are you a troublemaker or a peacemaker? Do you stir things up?

5. How long can you wait for an answer to prayer without giving up?

"Go For The Gold"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 03, January 27, 2008

Jerusalem was attacked by Shishak, king of Egypt, leaving Judah ransacked and barren. I Kings 14:25-26 “Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: And took the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house; he took everything he even took the shields of gold which Solomon had made.” I Kings 10:16

These shields weighed 3 lbs each, worth about 6.3 million dollars. They hung in the king’s palace. II Chronicles 9:16 “And they were taken down by the king’s guard when he went to the Temple to worship.” The guards would line the avenue leading up to the Temple; 150 guards per side, each holding a solid gold shield, as Solomon and Rehoboam made their way into the Temple to worship. Can you picture it?

Pretty bad to lose these sheilds but a worse thing was done afterwards. I Kings 14:27-28 “And king Rehoboam made in their place brass shields.”

When the shields are stolen, Rehoboam orders the metal workers to make 300 new shields of brass. When polished, the brass shields would gleam like gold, but when the king passed between the rows of these shields, he knew and the guards knew that they were nothing but a poor substitute for the missing shields of gold.

Instead of facing the people of Israel and telling them that the golden shields were gone, King Rehoboam tried to deceive them by making an inferior substitute.

Instead of gathering his army to go and recover what the enemy had taken, he chose to compromise. He did this to save face .

The shields were for more than decoration, they represented PURITY, INTEGRITY, and EXCELLENCE.

Rehoboam, rather than risk all to gain back the golden shields, made the decision to replace them with “brass” shields.

When polished they looked like gold, but they weren’t! They were a good substitute, but substitutes like brass begin to tarnish.

Today many people use substitutes. “You can imagine the hyena's surprise when he caught the tofu wildebeest.”

Constantine embraced Christianity and the church joined hands with the world!

Christianity has since become a lifestyle (form of godliness) rather than a life of faith (power)!

Upon seeing the splender of the Vatican’s treasures, the pope remarked to a visitor, “You will observe that the church no longer has to say, silver and gold have I none.” The visitor answered, “Neither can she now say, “Rise and walk!”

My dear friends, never was there a time when the church had more members than today; at no time has she had more money than today, or more preachers and teachers, or more oppurtunities than today, but there was a time that she had more power than she has today!

At least the young prophet of Elisha’s day upon losing the head of his axe was smart enough to stop swinging and look for the lost axe head!

You may think a brass shield is better than no shield at all, but why accept anything less than gold, when gold has been provided?

Especially when that gold represents Integrity, Purity and Excellence.

Brass reminds me of those commercials that promise freedom from social disorders by taking this pill 12 times a day. However, the possible side effects may include: Bleeding gums, partial paralysis, numbness or blurred vision, loss of hearing, gas with oily discharge, increased bowel movements and an inability to control your kidneys, insomnia, liver or heart failure, sweating, dry mouth, sleepiness, tremors, yawning, sexual side effects in men and women, decreased appetites, muscle aches, nausea, heart disease, watery eyes and post nasal drip.

Much church activity today is simply brass, trying to shine as gold!

I fear that if we continue on in this course the next generation may know nothing of what it means to experience the presence of God.

But before we come down too hard on old Rehoboam and the church, perhaps we need to examine our own hearts?

Are we not often guilty of giving God brass instead of gold?

When we do less than our best for God, compromising His standards of excellence, are we not giving Him brass for gold?

When we know we are not where the Lord wants us to be with Him; and we pretend all is well, are we not falling short in the integrity department, thereby guilty of giving Him brass for gold?

When we tolerate sin in our life, are we not compromising God’s call to holiness, and in fact, giving Him brass for gold?

Romans 8:5-11 (The Message Bible) “Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life.
Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them - living and breathing God!
Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.
Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what He is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored.
But if God Himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of Him.

Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about.
But for you who welcome Him, in whom He dwells - even though you still experience all the limitations of sin - you yourself experience life on God's terms. It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He'll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself?
When God lives and breathes in you (and He does, as surely as He did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With His Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!
Go for the GOLD!

"Jesus Style"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 02, January 20, 2008

I love the practicality and simplicity of Jesus’ teaching. It was clear, relevant and applicable. He aimed for application because His goal was to transform people, not merely inform them. Consider the greatest sermon ever preached: The Sermon on the Mount: Jesus began by sharing eight secrets of genuine happiness. Then He talked about living an exemplary lifestyle, controlling anger, restoring relationships, and the issues of adultery and divorce.

Next He spoke of keeping promises and returning good for evil. Then Jesus moved on to other practical life issues like how to give with the right attitude, how to pray, how to store up treasure in heaven and how to overcome worry. He wraps up His message by telling us to not judge others, encouraging persistence when asking God to meet our needs and warning us about false teachers. And finally, He concludes with a simple story that emphasizes the importance of acting on what He taught or putting into practice what you’ve just learned!

This is the kind of preaching that we need in churches today.

It changes lives! It’s not enough to simply proclaim, Christ is the Answer. We must show the unchurched how Christ is the Answer.

Sermons that exhort people to change without sharing the practical steps of how to change, only produce more guilt and frustration. The deepest kind of teaching is that which makes a difference in peoples day-to-day lives.

D.L. Moody once said, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives. The goal is Christ-like character.”

Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life”. He didn’t say, “I’ve come that you might have religion”. Christianity is a life, not a religion, and Jesus was a life-application preacher.
When He finished His teaching to the crowd, He always wanted them to go and do likewise.
Christ-like preaching explains life to people. It produces a changed lifestyle.

Life-related preaching doesn’t just inform, it transforms. It changes people because the Word is applied to where people actually live. Sermons that teach people how to live will never lack an audience.

Let’s look at The Sermon on the Mount... The Beatitudes

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying
Blessed 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 gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive 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 have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Same portion of scripture but from The Message Bible.
When Jesus saw His ministry drawing huge crowds, He climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to Him, the committed, climbed with Him. Arriving at a quiet place, He sat down and taught His climbing companions. This is what He said:
You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.
You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full’, you find yourselves cared for.
You're blessed when you get your inside world - your mind and heart - put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.
Not only that - count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens - give a cheer, even! For though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Salt and Light
Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand - shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.