Matt Hagee - Let's All Go Back To School
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If you brought your Bibles, I'd like for you to turn them, for just a moment, to Matthew 5:1 and 2, as I take on the title this evening "We all need to go back to school". It obviously fits in the theme of the year. As we see parents smile from ear to ear, as tonight they put pencils in pouches, and prepare backpacks by the door, and get ready to wave good-bye. Some parents are not so excited. Some are wondering how their children are going to cope with the separation anxiety. I promise you they'll do better than you will. Whenever I went off to my first day of kindergarten, there was no cry room for parents. There was no principal to pat dad on the back. Dad took out a 3x5 index card, and he had a letter sitting on the dining room table that was given to him in the mail by the school district. It said, "Your son, Matthew, is going to be at this school at this time on this day, and he'll report to room 8".
Now the thing that's a challenge is when you're in kindergarten, what's an 8? So dad took out a 3x5 index card, and he said, "Son". And he drew two circles, one on top of the other. He said, "This is an eight". He said, "Tomorrow a yellow bus will pick you up in front of the house. Get on that bus and go to that classroom. And when you see the number above the door that matches this one, walk in there and introduce yourself to that teacher". That was my first day of school. Tomorrow there will be tissue boxes, and donuts, and coffee, and prayer, and hugs. And that's just for parents. School has changed a lot over the years. The applications of it have included more technology and faster paces of learning. But the principles are always the same. And it's something that we should always consider as something important in our life, the need for continuing education.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we should never stop desiring to learn more from God's word and be willing to grow in the things of the faith. One of the greatest examples that I have of this in my life is my father, 77 years young. You get to that age: you get to go back into being young. And every day he's in his study opening books, and learning, and reading, and discovering new truths that he has yet to see from God's word. Almost 60 years in ministry and he still hasn't checked out of school. I remember when I started school: I thought it would take forever for me to graduate high school. And then I went off to college, and there were semesters that I thought that I'd rather serve a jail sentence than go back to that class. But then upon graduation, I recognized that I had entered the real school that I was never going to get out of. And there are days and times in our lives when we think we're done learning.
And those are dangerous days, because each and every one of us, as long as we're breathing, we need to be moving forward. And the only way that we can move forward is if we're willing to learn. Therefore, I think it's time that we all considered what we can go back and revisit from God's principles and truths that needs to be applied in our life that can make a difference in the day and the age in which we live. We see a world that is losing its mind, because it has forgotten the lessons that it has learned. We see a world that's being torn apart. And some people want to politicize it. And other people want to use it for their advantage. But the reality of it is they have lost the idea and the concept that they're not the only person on the face of the earth.
We share this world with other people: therefore, do what the word says, "Do unto others as you would have them to do to you". Treat other people as though you wish to be treated. "Love one another," that's what Jesus said. "This is my commandment that you love one another". How many of you see a lot of that going on in the world around us? We've forgotten what the master teacher said. And it's time that we went back and revisited those truths and asked ourselves: if I re-enroll today, would I pass or fail on my grades? Read with me Matthew 5:1 and 2 together. If you're there, say, amen. "And seeing the multitude, he went up on a mountain. And when he was seated, his disciples came to him. And then he opened his mouth and he taught them".
Heavenly Father, let your written word speak to our hearts tonight: that as we read them, it would teach us how we should conduct our lives: that we may indeed be the salt of the earth and the light of the world in this generation. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.
When it comes to enrolling in the school of faith, you do that when you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. There are a lot of people who claim that they learn something from Jesus Christ. But until you receive him, you haven't learned a thing. There are some people who admire the life of Jesus Christ. But until he becomes your Savior, you're not qualified to sit in his classroom. Now I know that might not be popular in the world that we live in. But according to the Word of God, which is more powerful than the world we live in, Jesus said, "I am the door, and no man comes unto the Father but by me". He told those who were listening to him in John 10 that the reason that they did not believe in him is because they were not his sheep. And so in order for us to attend the classroom of the master teacher and understand how we should conduct our lives, the first thing that we must do is receive him as our Savior.
Now you do that according to the Word of God, because it is the free gift that you receive in faith. But once you receive him as Savior, you have to go to school in order to learn how to make him Lord. How many of you know people, maybe you didn't act this way. But you know people who did act this way. They received Jesus Christ as Savior, but it took them a little while before he became their Lord. They knew that they needed to be forgiven of sin, and they gladly received what the blood of Jesus Christ could do. But it just took them a little bit of time before they could get all of the old out and on with the new. Now I know that some people have this doctrine that says, "Well you know old things pass away, and behold, all things are now in Christ Jesus".
That's in the Bible. I believe it. And I have received it. But I promise you: you take some of those old heAthens and you go smash their thumb with a Hammer, and you're going to find out just how much more Jesus they need. It doesn't mean that you haven't received this free gift of salvation. We've often convinced ourselves that that's the problem. Well, it really didn't take. No, it took. But you've got a Savior that you have not yet made your Lord. And in order for Jesus to become Lord, you've got to go to school. And when you go to school, I recommend that you open up the book of Matthew and you begin to study what those who have studied doctrine call "The beatitudes". But Jesus gave them as blessings. This is the curriculum of those who want to be his disciples.
And the thing that I see about these beatitudes is that you can't skip a grade. You can't pick and choose which courses you want to take and which ones you want to ignore. You can't decide that you want to hunger and thirst after righteousness, but you don't want to be meek. You can't decide that you don't want to be poor in spirit, which means to be humble, but that you want to be a peacemaker. You see the way that the Word of God structured these blessings is that they build one upon the other. And until you master one, you cannot receive another. How can you be a peacemaker if you're full of pride? How can you be merciful if you're not meek? It's not possible. And often times, we attempt to do things that we're not quite prepared for. We receive this free gift of salvation.
And rather than go to school and learn what it means to live a life of humility and to live a life that the Word of God describes for us to live, we immediately receive this free gift of salvation and we want to go out and conquer the world. You have received one, who has conquered the world. But it's only his power in you that gives you the strength to do it. I recommend that you learn a little bit more about him before you go picking fights with every demon you find in every corner you find them. Not only do these beatitudes, like a curriculum, build one upon the other, but these beatitudes are for a multitude of people. For the verse we read said, "And Jesus seeing the multitude", say that with me, "And Jesus seeing the multitude".
I find those words very comforting. Because on the day that he gave this sermon on the mount, on the day that he listed the syllabus for those who wanted to go to school with him, there was a multitude of people listening. In that multitude were various ages and stages and phases of life. In that multitude were various levels of economic ability. In that multitude were people who had a myriad of needs. And the Bible says simply this, Jesus saw them all. As the sovereign, he knew every need that was represented on that hillside that day. As God in the flesh, he knew those who needed healing. He knew those who needed mercy. He knew those who needed a special touch. He knew those who needed a miracle from the hand of God. And just as he saw the multitude that was listening to him that day, he sees the multitude that's sitting here in this sanctuary tonight.
You may feel all alone in a crowd full of people. But I want you to know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, sees you right where you are. And he knows exactly what you need. And he has the power to provide it through his grace, through his majesty, and through his mercy. This is why he said, "Come unto me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". If you're weak, he'll provide strength. If you're filled with sorrow, he'll give you joy. If you're hopeless, he'll be the God of all hope. If you're in need, he is a provider, who can fill your life to the point that everything you have overflows with his goodness, his loving kindness, and his mercy. There is not one thing you face tonight that Jesus Christ, El Shaddai, cannot be the all-sufficient King of kings and Lord of lords in your life!
Not only did he see the multitude, but he knew exactly what they needed. He didn't give them what they wanted: he knew what they needed. How many of you are thankful that God always knows what we need, but doesn't give us what we want? The people that he was speaking to this afternoon, they had heard about his power. They had heard about his ministry. And they wanted to know if he could possibly be the one who had come to deliver them. They wanted to know was he the one who was going to overthrow their enemies and establish a millennial reign. They wanted to know is this the guy we've been waiting for. That's what they wanted. But what they needed was an understanding of how they should conduct their lives: that they could make a difference in the world they were living in.
What this world needs now more than ever is Christians lives so that we can make a difference in the world that we're living in. We're great at identifying the problem. We are excellent at treating the symptoms. But we do very little when it comes to taking action about doing something to solve the problem. We are God's salt and light on the earth. We are his hands, his feet, his voice. We are the instruments that he uses to establish his kingdom. And until we take action to do so, we have not accomplished our mission. But we cannot take action unless we apply the attitudes that we read in the book of Matthew, the 5 chapter. Another thing that I notice when I read these beatitudes is that the Bible goes into great detail to let us know that Jesus Christ was seated. He was seated. It says, "And seeing the multitude, he went up on the mountain. And when he was seated".
Now we understand from the conversation that Paul had with Timothy that all scripture is written and given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. There's not one word in this book that's not there for a reason. So when you see a word like this, you ask yourself, why does it matter? I mean why does it matter? Why tell us that he's seated? Why? Why? He's standing on one foot. He's jumping up and down. He's going back and forth between other feet. I had professors in seminary tell me, "It said he was seated that we might have an example to follow. There's no need to get that excited when you're in the pulpit". I said, "Well, if you want to have nap time, go ahead, but", the reason that it says he was seated, I believe, is because in a time when kings ruled, if the monarch were to walk into the throne room, all of those who were standing in the room would stand at attention and watch until the king got to the throne.
And then when he was seated on the throne, they would listen to every command that he gave. If you want a modern illustration of it, consider what happens when a judge walks into his courtroom. The judge is the supreme authority in the courtroom. And when he enters, the bailiff commands that everyone sitting all rise. And they watch with great attention as the judge walks to his bench, and then takes a seat, and takes the gavel, and lets everyone know that he was in authority. Whenever the gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus Christ was seated, what we are seeing is the very word that created heaven and earth that has been made flesh and dwelling among us, walking onto an amphitheater and the platform that he built in the Genesis of time so that he could sit down in authority and declare the truth of his word.
These are not simple statements that are made by a good and common man. These are words that came from the King of kings and the Lord of lords. And when you read them, you should treat them as such! I think too often we take for granted what we have when we hold God's word in our hands. If we believe that this is the divinely-inspired, Holy Spirit-breathed Word of God, then it would be the same as watching the king sit on his throne and speak directly to us. It's not a matter of choice: it's simply a matter of willingness to obey. The gospel of Matthew establishes that this is our king, and that he has commanded us that we should conduct ourselves in a certain way. And he begins with this, "Blessed are the poor in spirit".
Say that with me, "Blessed are the poor in spirit". And for the next several verses, he continues, "Blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed", why begin with that word every time? Is it because he wished to be poetic? No. We've absolutely annihilated the word "Blessed" in our English language. We use it for everything. You sneeze: bless you. You're kind: bless you. You've got an ugly grand kid: bless you. Oh, don't act like I'm the only one that uses it as a cover all. Somebody does something silly: bless you. But when Jesus said the word "Blessed," he wasn't using it as just some common blanket statement that sounded good in front of statements that we don't want to stand behind.
When he said, "Blessed," what he was saying is literally translated, to be envied, set apart, called out for a purpose. "To be envied, set apart, called out for a purpose" are those who do not think more of themselves than they should. "Set apart, called out for a purpose" are those who are mournful over the sins that they have committed. "Set apart, called out" are those who are willing to live a life of self-control. Jesus was simply making the point that anyone who was willing to master these behaviors was going to live a life that others would look at and say, "That man is blessed. He is to be envied. He has been set apart. He has been called out. He is being used of God for a purpose".
When you see people who seem like they've got everything going their way, don't think that they were just born on a lucky day. They have done something that has brought God's hand of blessing on their life, and has called them out, and is using them for a purpose. Don't look at it and say, "Well, he must like them and not really care for me". Consider what they're doing diligently with obedience and discipline in their life that gives them the opportunity to enjoy the goodness of God in the land of the living. Here's some encouragement for you. If you can do what Jesus said in his word, then you're going to be blessed. If you read Deuteronomy 28, it says, "You'll be blessed in the city, and blessed in the field, blessed in your basket, blessed in your bowl, blessed in your going out, and blessed in your coming in".
In all things that you put your hands to will you be blessed. You may go through some hard times. But even in hard times, you're still blessed. You may go through some needs. But even when you've got a need, you're still blessed. You may be surrounded by people who accuse you falsely. But even under false accusation, you're still blessed. Why? Because God is on your side! And if God is for you, who can be against you? So we begin, lesson one, "Blessed are the poor in spirit". Simply translated, blessed are the humble, those who don't think more of themselves than they should. We live in a world that suffers from a great lack humility. We live in a world that misappropriates God's blessings for personal talent.
Do you know where athletes got the ability to be athletes? God. Do you know where singers got the ability to be singers? God. Do you know where genius came from? God. Whenever you see an athlete run into the in zone and he goes, he's pounding on a chest that has a heart beating on loan from God. Whenever a hundred thousand people cheer because a guy at a baseball plate just put one out of the park, they're cheering for a ball that was hit by power, donated by God. We live in a world that suffers from such a lack of humility: that when we have an athlete kneel and pray, we tell him to stop it. And when we have one sit for "The star spangled banner," we applaud him. You want to know if we're headed the wrong direction? That right there says it all! Being poor in spirit simply means that you know who you are, and you are willing to allow God to use you for whatever reason he wants.
You're like Isaiah that says, "Here am i: send me". I'll go and I'll do as you have asked me to. Being poor in spirit means that you have a proper perspective of self, and you know what it means to be the sheep and not the shepherd. When you understand what it means to be called "The sheep," a lot of people take great comfort in that. But the truth is that sheep are fundamentally stupid. You say, "We'll, I don't appreciate that". Well, go out there and watch them in the pasture. They'll have a perfectly good gate to walk through and step through wire. They'll run around in the field and butt each other in the head. That doesn't seem real smart.
Some people say, "Well, I've never seen humans do that". I have. You ought to see them get out of church. When you compare yourself to God, you're like a silly sheep standing out in the pasture. I don't care how smart you are: you don't compare to him. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. Voice. Word. truth. The book of Ecclesiastes is written by Solomon, the wisest man in all of the world. And he begins with chapter 1 that it's the vanity of all vanities. And what is he calling a vanity? That a man would try to think that he could figure out what God is like. We're just privileged to live in his world. And we should consider it a great honor to do such. Humility is the number one step to learning anything. If you're going to go back to school and learn what God's word has for you, if you're going to learn anything in this natural life, the first thing you've got to do is humble yourself to believe that you don't know everything.
How many of you have ever tried to teach something to somebody, and they said, "I know, I know, I know, I know, I know"? Sound like a broken record. I think if they're between the ages of 13 and 18, they've got "I know" itis. But before you can learn, you have to be willing to say, "I don't know: will you teach me"? In order for that to happen, you have to understand that it's not about you. Say that with me, it's not about you. Now I would invite you to say that to somebody to your right or left. But for fear of harm to your physical well being, I'll just personalize it. Say, "It's not about me". When you're willing to accept that truth, you have greatly taken strides towards humility. It's not always about you. Stop acting like it is. "They didn't say, 'hI' to me". It's not about you. "They didn't like my picture on Instagram". It's not about you. "They didn't call me back". It's not about you. "Well I feel offended". It's not about you.
You say, "Well, I don't like this teaching". Well, this is lesson one. There's seven more. I'm thankful that I don't have to stand here as your example. But I can point you to the one who is your example. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, and they crucified him. Why? Because he was humble. He was willing to accept the responsibility of the souls of all mankind to the point that he did not think himself God, man that he might humble himself even unto death. That's what the Bible says. Now the good news about being humble, according to the Word of God, is that when you are humble, the kingdom of heaven is yours. Jesus Christ, in the book of Philippians, it says that he humbled himself unto death. And God, seeing his humility, has exalted him and seated him at the right hand of the Father. The name that is above every name: name of Jesus, every knee should bow. Name of Jesus, every tongue should confess.
I know that it is not fun for you to decide that this life and all that is in it is not about you. But I promise you: if you will humble yourself, God, in due season, will exalt you. And when he does, he'll take you places you never thought or dreamed you could go, because he is a God who can make a way and will do exceedingly, and abundantly, above all that you could ever ask, think or imagine. I promise you God will make a way! You say, "I don't like the way it's going at the office". It's not about you. Humble yourself and let God deal with it. "I don't like what I see happening". Humble yourself and let God deal with it. We read in the Bible, "The battle belongs to" who? "The Lord". The battle belongs to the Lord. Get out of his way. Let him take the stone that he's given you to throw and slay the giant in front of you. Because when you humble yourself, he will exalt you in due season.
We read on, "Blessed are the poor in spirit". This says those who are willing to be remorseful for their sin. We live in a world that celebrates sin. Recognize that sin separates you from God. And the Bible says, "In his presence is the fullness of joy". Then it says, "Blessed are those who are meek". Meekness is not weakness. Say that with me, meekness is not weakness. Meekness is power under control. You cannot live a life of self-control if you're full of self and if you are not remorseful of sin. But when you have these two ingredients, then you can start to take God's strength to control yourself. How many of you know that it takes God's strength to control yourself? All right. I got five hands. How many of you think you have great self-control? If you think you've got great self-control, then I would like to put in front of you hot tortilla chips, guacamole and hot sauce.
And then let's just see who's got self-control. Because I promise you: I could get nuclear codes from people with the right tortilla and guacamole combination. Meekness is God's strength in your life to control yourself. Meekness is hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit say, "Don't do that," and you obey. People confuse meekness with weakness. They say, "Oh, he's just too meek and mild". Meekness and mild have nothing to do with each other. Jesus Christ was meek, but he was not weak. Great men in the Bible were meek but they were not weak. Moses was described as the meekest of all. Why? Because when God told him to do it, he did it. He didn't do what he wanted: he did what God asked. I'll close with this lesson. There's more teaching than we can cover in ten sessions, so for sake of time, we'll end here.
Verse 6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled". "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled". And thirsting, they're not just simple appetite. When you break them down in their original language, what Jesus was saying is blessed are those for more of a relationship with God, who are willing to do whatever it takes to get closer to him. We live in a world that is suffering for a famine of God's word. And it's not because we don't have access to it. In the United States, we have no excuse. There are nations in this world where brothers and sisters in Christ are paying with for their faith. We are not being asked to die for Christ in the United States. We're simply being asked to live for him.
But because we don't hunger and thirst after righteousness, because we have no passion to see his power in our life, because we do not want to have a daily communal relationship with him, we are not being filled. When you're starving for food, passion. When you're already relatively satisfied, you eat with manners. "Oh, this is lovely, um, so moist". If you hadn't eaten in 40 days, and I brought out the chips and the guacamole, and I said, "I want you to come down here and eat until you're satisfied," would you come down and dip and, "Thank you Jesus, Jesus"? Or would you get so involved with what you were doing that you wouldn't care that there were thousands of eyeballs watching you lick the bowl of guacamole, as you got all the way to the bottom? Cameras capturing it the for television audiences watching all over the world, wondering, what's wrong with that guy?
I'll tell you, nothing's wrong with him. He was starving. And what he was starving for was provided to him. And because it was provided to him, he passionately went after it. The world is not interested in people who have a kind of relationship with the Lord where they sit there and go, "Thank you, Jesus: that's just so nice". There's not enough passion in that to persuade anyone. But when you're starving for him, more than you want anything else, when you're longing for his power, when you want his presence, when you're not going to be satisfied until the heavens move and you're prayer is answered, when you see his miracle-working power make a way where there seems to be no way, when you're not going to stop praying until the one who is in the far country comes back to the altar of salvation, when you're going to keep shaking heaven until the bondage of sickness is removed or the need is met, when you hunger and thirst after God like that, then all of heaven is moving on your behalf, and the promise of God's word is, "You shall be filled".
I say this in closing: blessed are those who hunger and thirst, not only with passion: but blessed are those who hunger and thirst because if you're not hungry, you're dying. You're dying. When a baby is born, the first thing that the pediatrician wants to know eating. When you pick up the phone and you call the doctor, and you say, "My child is sick," they say, "When is the last time ate"? In every situation and circumstance of physical health, the doctors always want to find out what you're doing with your diet, because if you've got an appetite, they've got life to work with. But when you stop eating, they start paying close attention, because if you're not hungry, you're dying.
And I'm concerned when I see church with more form than passion, with a process instead of a purpose. I want you, as children of God, to hunger and thirst after him so much that God's hand moves so strongly that you want to know how much longer can we stay, instead of, "Is it time to go"? Because when we gather in this place, and when we open up his word, the king is seated amongst us and his truth has the ability to set us free. How badly do you want him? With the same measure that you desire is the same measure that he'll pour back into you. It's time that we went back to school and learn what it meant to walk in paths of righteousness and serve the living God.
Can we stand in the presence of the Lord? Tonight you're in this place, and you say, pastor, I'm just amongst the multitude. I'm here with a need and I'm not sure that anybody other than the Lord knows it. But based on the promise of his word, I want to receive the blessing of being filled tonight. I am hungering and I am thirsting for God to answer my need, to move in my life. It may be a personal need, a financial need, a need for healing. Whatever it happens to be, if that's you and you feel like God can do something to change your circumstance this evening, I want you to lift your hand and hold it high right where you are. I want everyone in this room to lift both their hands and repeat this prayer with me:
Lord Jesus Christ, tonight I come to you and I humble myself: that I may learn from your word and what is required of me. Father, for any sin in my life, I confess it and I forsake it: that I might receive a blessing from your hand. Heavenly Father, tonight I am surrendering myself again to your word and your Holy Spirit: that I may leave this place filled with the meekness that only Christ can bring, because I am hungering and I am thirsting for an answer from the Lord. And Lord, the place where I need your touch...
Now I want you to tell the Lord exactly where you need it. Whatever I happens to be, I want you to take a moment of time in this service to tell God exactly what you're looking for. If you need his touch in your finances, tell the Lord exactly how you want to receive that blessing of an outpouring. If you need it in your physical body, I want you to give God the chance to hear your voice. Tell him exactly where you want healing tonight. If you need it in a relationship, I want you to mention the name of that person before the throne of God, so that God can start moving and making a way where there seems to be no way. Whatever you need, he sees the multitude in this place tonight. And he can indeed meet you right where you are. But I believe that if you ask, you'll receive. And if you seek, you will find. If you knock, the door will be opened, and God's blessing will come.
Father, I thank you that you have heard the prayers from the hearts of those who have asked of your throne tonight. And I ask that, in Jesus' name, you would guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to understand that when we learn from your word and we apply its truth, we receive your blessings. Now father, bless them, and keep them, and make your face to shine upon them. Be gracious town them and give them your peace. In Jesus' name, do we receive this blessing. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.