Matthew R. Perry

Archive for April, 2008|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on April 30, 2008 at 9:40 pm

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Happy Are The Persecuted, For a Kingdom Awaits

In Church Life, Sermons on April 30, 2008 at 9:13 pm

Matthew 5:10-12 says:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus now shows what will happen to the “peacemakers” who try to bring others to Christ: persecution. And notice that Jesus doesn’t spend just one verse on this topic, but three. Why? Because of what Paul says in 2 Tim. 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” If you live for Jesus, opposition will come.

Some feel they are being persecuted at work, at home, etc. But there is a difference between getting persecuted and being persecuted for righteousness sake or, as it says in Matthew 5:11, on his account. He is speaking of persecution as a result of radically living for Christ. The world may persecute, but the church may as well because many may feel threatened and guilty seeing you live a life of mercy and purity and sharing your faith. Some just can’t handle it, so they try to drag that person down to their level rather than imploring God help them rise up to a level of sacrificial obedience.

Jesus is saying there are many ways to be persecuted. Some said it was just torture, but even spoken words of evil, insults, ridicule, mockery and shameful behavior may come our way as well. Jesus was not just persecuted by those who jammed the crown of thorns on his head or drove the nails in his hands. He was persecuted by Peter who denied him and Judas who betrayed him and by his disciples who abandoned him.

The truth is, we as Christians do our best to avoid persecution. We cannot stand having anyone say anything against us for any reason. My question to you is this: are you being persecuted and ridiculed and mocked and insulted for your faith? If you are, Jesus says, rejoice and be glad. See how contrary the Kingdom of God is to the kingdom of this world? Why rejoice? Because the reward you have in heaven is great! You are identifying with the prophets.

You see, being merciful, being pure and holy, being a peacemaker has a price. And however much you are willing to sacrifice in your life in Christ will be in direct proportion to how much you treasure Jesus Christ. So we must examine ourselves and test ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) and ask, Is the life I’m living so given over to Christ that the world takes umbrage? Do we give people a reason to persecute us for the sake of Christ?

May God shine the white hot light of His Spirit on us to see if we are living as a child of the King!

Happy Are The Peacemakers, For Sonship Awaits

In Sermons on April 29, 2008 at 4:28 pm

(This is a portion of a sermon preached on Sunday, April 27, 2008. To listen to the sermon in its entirety, click here. For other audio sermons, click here.)

At a time when we have just acknowledged the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq where approximately 140,000 of our troops are fighting and where another 31,000 troops are deployed to Afghanistan in a war that began six years ago, we think of peace as a significant goal to attain. Is this the type of peacemaker we should be?

At a time when divorces are so rampant and homes are broken, a peaceful home almost seems too good to be true. Does God want us to be peacemakers in our home?

We live in a small community filled with churches that have arisen from church splits, and sadly church splits and religious divisiveness are par for the course nowadays. Is Jesus telling us to lower our doctrinal and denominational convictions so unity and peace may prevail?

You can see just from these three issues how people can read these verses in many different ways. For some, it means turning into a wishy-washy Charlie Brown type. But the Scriptures tell us that there are times when we need to contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” In other words, anyone who denies himself and follows Jesus by faith will have opposition in the world.

So what type of peace is Jesus bringing? The Apostle Paul helps us in 2 Cor. 5:16-21:

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. [17] Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. [18] All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. [20] Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. [21] For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The key is in verse 18, “The ministry of reconciliation.” This is the type of peacemaking Jesus is talking about and that Paul echoes, “Be reconciled to God.” True peacemakers are not just ones who try to reconcile nations or families or even churches, but it’s deeper — it’s reconciling a sinful man to a holy God. These are ones who are the “sons of God.” Meaning, as a son you bear the character of your Father who moved heaven and earth to reconcile you to Himself.

Let me ask you: are you a peacemaker? I’m not speaking of trying to reconcile sinner to sinner, but spending time working to reconcile sinners to a holy God? You say, “Well, that’s not my gift.” Nowhere in the Scriptures does it say that evangelism is a spiritual gift, but is part and parcel of being a Kingdom child!

What can we do?

  1. Take time to look through the Two Ways To Live plan to get a good framework of what God has accomplished through Christ.
  2. Ask God to remind you of where you were before Christ.
  3. Ask God to show you the condition of those who are without the peace of Christ.
  4. Ask for a new love for Christ so you will rely more on your love for Christ rather than your fear before man!
  5. Realize that success is in obedience, not their response (HT: William Fay, Share Jesus Without Fear).

Now, let’s go!

Happy Are The Holy, For God Is In Sight

In Sermons on April 28, 2008 at 8:19 pm

Jesus urges us not to look to external piety and good works or even to our intellect, but toward the purity of heart he requires if we desire to fellowship with him. Psalm 24:3-4 says, “Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully” (Psalm 24:3-4, ESV).

If you desire to fellowship with God, then you must desire holiness before God. Christ here is calling us to unadulterated, unblemished purity. We all must be careful in allowing anything in our hearts, souls, and minds that distorts or takes away from the holiness of God. Carson again asks, “What do you think about when your mind slips into neutral?” Purity should not be present only in certain situations, but privately and publicly.

Staying pure is not easy at first. Since we are products of the Fall and are tinged by sin. I will say this: oftentimes, those who have not surrendered to Christ understand Christ’s desire for holiness better than some Christians. They understand it’s a total surrender. For many Christians, it’s just about getting to heaven. All too few concern themselves about growing in the faith. But Hebrews 5:14 says, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 12:14 says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

J. Vernon McGee told one time while at a chapel service in Dallas that a beautiful song was sung, “Take Time To Be Holy” which starts off, “Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord.” Yet, Lewis Sperry Chafer who preached at that service requested that one word be changed. He said, “Let’s sing, ‘Take time to behold him, speak oft with thy Lord.” The connection is clear: If we wish to behold him, we must strive to be holy. And if we strive to live holy lives because we love him and wish to behold him as he is.

Do you long for purity in your heart? Do you find yourself allowing unholy things into your mind?

Switching Usernames For This Blog — Please Note and Change Your Bookmarks

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Dear friends:

Due to some rather unseemly sites inexplicably linking to my site and to the inordinate amount of spam over the past two weeks, I am changing my site from to The same content will be on this site. But this unseemly site linked to a particular post, and in order for me to delete the post, I would have to go on that site to find the actual link so I could delete the page. It wasn’t worth it, believe me.

So if you enjoy this blog, please change your bookmarks and your RSS feeds. The other blog will be gone within the next week.


Matthew Perry

Podcast #11: “A Life of Christ Demands Holiness” by Bo McMillan

In Podcast on April 27, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Podcast #11: Welcome to the Treasure The Word Podcast. In this podcast, Bo McMillan challenges us to live a life of holiness in Christ. He preaches from 1 Peter 1:13-21. Bo is a student at Eastern Kentucky University.

To listen to Bo and other podcasts, click here. Or you can go to the iTunes Store, type in “Treasure The Word, then subscribe.

Podcast #11: “A Life of Christ Demands Holiness” by Bo McMillan

In Podcast on April 27, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Podcast #11: Welcome to the Treasure The Word Podcast. In this podcast, Bo McMillan challenges us to live a life of holiness in Christ. He preaches from 1 Peter 1:13-21. Bo is a student at Eastern Kentucky University.

To listen to Bo and other podcasts, click here. Or you can go to the iTunes Store, type in “Treasure The Word, then subscribe.

Happy Are The Merciful, for Mercy Awaits

In Church Life, Devotional, Sermons on April 27, 2008 at 5:07 pm

(This is a portion of a sermon preached on Sunday, April 27, 2008. To listen to the sermon in its entirety, click here. For other audio sermons, click here.)

Every once in a while I hear something that helps me so much in understanding my Christian walk, it gives me one of those “Ah-ha!” moments. I was listening to a sermon by Tim Keller out of New York. One day, his wife insightfully told him how the Christian life for so many was like putting quarters in a Coke machine. The object is to put the quarters in, then out comes the beverage. But on occasion, you put the quarters in and they don’t drop. So what do you do? You shake it and bump it until you hear the quarters drop.

For all too many Christians, the quarters have been deposited in our minds. We know the facts of the Gospel in how God made us, how we have sinned, and how we need to be saved by Christ through his death and resurrection. Many of us have made that decision. The problem though is that those quarters haven’t dropped and we’re waiting in that frustrating in-between stage where we know salvation in Christ, but we just fail to live it out in Christ.

Last week, I preached on the first four beatitudes. Those are the quarters in the machine. These last four Beatitudes are what should come out when the quarters drop. Being a Kingdom child is not just about Kingdom thinking, but Kingdom living. And the only way this can happen is not just from living out Kingdom principles, but when the King of Kings lives in us — Jesus Christ. My prayer this morning is that the Spirit will shake us until the quarters drop.

1. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy (Matthew 5:7).

Mercy. One of the words that we find used in a number of different places, but do we really understand what this word means? We tend to use the word ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’ in much the same way. Think of it this way: grace is receiving something you do not deserve, and mercy is not receiving something you do deserve. D.A. Carson says that, “Grace answers to the undeserving; mercy answers to the miserable.”

So, when we read this passage of Scripture, we tend to take it like this, “If we are merciful, we shall receive mercy.” If you do this, then this will come back to you. This sounds right on the surface. But how does one become merciful? In reality, one who is merciful is one who has received mercy himself — he is one who understands his need for mercy and have received it abundantly. He understands, going back to the first beatitude, that he is in poverty in spirit due to his sin. As a result, he prays like David did, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquities, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-3).

I came across this recently, “It is sometimes said that an alcoholic who won’t admit he’s an alcoholic hates all other alcoholics.” Here’s a question for you: are you more offended at someone else’s sin moreso than your own? How can you tell? Well, have you shown mercy because you realize that great mercy God showed you? Do you find yourself feeling unworthy of it? Do you find yourself even resenting God’s mercy?

Consider Jonah. Jonah was a Bible-believing prophet commissioned by God. Yet God sends Jonah to a place and a people that to whom he feels far superior. He believes in the Bible, yet displays no compassion, no love, no mercy toward them. Why? Some would say, “Well, he’s prejudice.” That’s true, but why? “Well, he’s a sinner, like all of us.” That’s true, but where’s the rub for him? The problem was that he believed in something greater than the Gospel, something other than God to sustain him. And if you are having trouble being merciful to others, have you truly received and understood the mercy of God?

Do You Have a Kingdom Longing?

In Church Life, Culture, Evangelism, Missions, Preaching, Sermons on April 16, 2008 at 9:39 pm

(If you want to listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. This sermon was preaching on Sunday, April 13, 2008, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. Click here for the archive.)

The introduction continues: “He went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him” (Matthew 5:1b). Jesus didn’t just see the crowds and then give a simple gesture or a nod. He went up to a place where he could be seen, sat down as if he planned on staying a while a communing with them, and the people came to him.

Do we have this Kingdom longing? John Piper in his book The Supremacy of God in Preaching wrote:

“People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more prescriptions on the market, but the benefit is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul which cries, ‘Show me thy glory!’

Jesus understands this longing — and Jesus is the only one who can satisfy that longing. Over and over, they were stunned by an authority coupled with compassion. The Pharisees wouldn’t give those the time of day! They were more interested in their traditions than in God’s creation!

All of us, dear friends, are looking for something we can count on. And the world is searching and scraping to fill a void that nothing in this world can fill. But for you who are Christians, let me ask you: do you long for God’s kingdom to be a reality within you and within this church and within this community? To put it another way, do you and do I long for God’s rule and will to be done, regardless of the pain or cost?

Art Azurdia in a sermon I heard on the radio this past week that the biggest turnaround in our churches over the past fifty years is that the average person looks at the church and asks, “How can the church serve me?” What has happened? We have fallen into the trap of our selfish flesh in that we desire to be our own kings where everyone around us caters to us.

What has happened? Does this not sound like Jesus’ words? Mark 10:42-45

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. [43] But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [44] and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. [45] For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Do you have a kingdom longing this morning? Do you long for false idols that try to capture your attention to be knocked over by the one True and Living God?

Do You Have Kingdom Lenses?

In Church Life, Evangelism, Gospel, Missions, Preaching, Sermons on April 15, 2008 at 9:38 pm

(If you want to listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here or here to read the Introduction. This sermon was preaching on Sunday, April 13, 2008, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. Click here for the archive.)

The first portion of this introduction is three simple words: “Seeing the crowds… .” There is a difference between seeing a crowd and seeing a crowd. When I first moved to Lexington, I was warned right away, “If you plan on driving on Nicholasville Road, do not drive when there’s a ball game letting out, or when it’s rush hour. Why? Because of a crowd of cars filled with a crowd of people. You can see that crowd and get annoyed.

Or you can go out to eat and find yourself avoiding certain places because of a line rolling out the door. Or you can be the head of a company or a department and see the crowd of people working under you, but you can use those people simply to advance your own agenda.

I’m glad Jesus doesn’t fit into this category. While this little portion seems to convey a simple looking at the crowds, we get a glimpse into the heart of Jesus as he looks at the crowd in Matthew 9:36, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” The key word to all of that is “compassion.” Sympathy. Having pity. He put himself in their place and began taking time to see life through their eyes.

It reminds me of a story I read about a man who put up a sign in his yard that read: “Puppies for Sale.” Among those who came to inquire was a young boy. “Please, Mister,” he said, “I’d like to buy one of your puppies if they don’t cost too much.” “Well, son, they’re $25.” The boy looked crushed. “I’ve only got two dollars and five cents. Could I see them anyway?” “Of course. Maybe we can work something out,” said the man. The lad’s eyes danced at the sight of those five little balls of fur. “I heard that one has a bad leg,” he said. “Yes, I’m afraid she’ll be crippled for life.” “Well, that’s the puppy I want. Could I pay for her a little at a time?” The man responded, “But she’ll always have a limp.” Smiling bravely, the boy pulled up one pant leg, revealing a brace. “I don’t walk good either.” Then, looking at the puppy sympathetically, he continued, “I guess she’ll need a lot of love and help. I sure did. It’s not so easy being crippled.” “Here, take her,” said the man. “I know you’ll give her a good home. And just forget the money.”

The situation for the people in Jesus’ time was one perpetual limp after another. John MacArthur noted that the religious factions of the day were leading the people astray. The Pharisees believed in keeping all the law and traditions in great detail. The Sadducees were religious liberals who rejected all things supernatural and changed the Scripture and tradition to fit their worldview. The Essenes separated themselves from everyone, like the monks. The zealots were activists who sought to overturn the political system. MacArthur wryly notes, “The Pharisees said, ‘Go back”; the Sadducees said, “Go ahead”; the Essenes said, “Go away”; and the Zealots said, “Go against.” They truly had no shepherd they could count on.

Let me ask you: when you see the people around you, what do you see? Do you see people as a way to be avoided, exploited, changed, or as many churches and cults do and aim to indoctrinate? It’s time to see people where they are. It’s time to take time to see the crowd around us. And many, whether they realize it or not have a longing for something more. No matter how hard they try, this world cannot meet their true longing for more, for better, for something to grant them purpose.