Monday, January 30, 2017

Study in Matthew 5:14-16

For the next few months (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 

Group/private Study

Study

QUESTION: Why do you turn on a light?

Though an incandescent light can give off heat, you probably answered that the reason to turn on a light is so that you can have light. The same was true during the time of Jesus. A person light an oil lamp to create light.

READ Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Jesus says those who are part of his kingdom are lights. They cannot be hid. Jesus’ true followers will be seen. Followers of Jesus in countries past and present have refrained from proclaim openly that they follow Jesus, but it is only a matter of time that something different is seen in them. Just their lives proclaim that they Jesus’ followers.

QUESTION: What in this scripture causes people to see the light?

Good deeds are part of the life of the follower of Jesus. In another place, Jesus says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples"(John 13:35).

Yes, followers of Jesus do share the kingdom message by word but Jesus makes it clear it is the life and actions of his follower which cause people to glorify God. The question you must ask yourself, Is my life shining forth Jesus?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Group or personal study: Matthew 5:13 Being Salty

For the next few months (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 

Group/private Study

Study

QUESTION: What historical purpose is salt used for?

There might be many answers even that salt was used as a means of currency, but the three main uses for salt in the historical world that Jesus lived were for healing, preserving (keeping foods from spoiling) and adding flavor. The Scripture we are looking at today specifically mentions salt so we need to understand how the people of Jesus day would have used it.

READ: Matthew 5:13 You are the salt if the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and tramples underfoot as worthless.

QUESTION: In what way, might disciples of Jesus bring flavor, preservation, and healing?

No matter how many ways you talk about it, disciples of Jesus are supposed to bring flavor, preservation, and healing.

Though in modern time, we understand that salt never becomes unsalty. It can become impure to the point that is isn’t usable. In historical times when salt became impure and unusable, they would say it was no longer salty. This type of salt was not useful for its original purpose and would be thrown on the ground and walked on.

This is a warning to disciples. Ignoring the personal spiritual aspects, Jesus is making it clear a disciple can become worthless to the purpose God has called them.

QUESTION: Please refrain from naming names but, do you think the reason some people discount Christianity is because people who have called themselves Christians haven’t been “the salt of the earth?”

You have a choice either be the disciple Jesus wants you to be or be worthless. Let us renew our commitment to follow Jesus.      


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Group or personal study: Matthew 5:10-12

For the next few months (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 

Group/private Study

Study

QUESTION: Can you name a historical person who tried to do good and was mistreated for it?

Last week you were told people do not always like people who are doing good. This week Jesus talks about it.

Matthew 5:10-12
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way

QUESTION: Jesus talked about facing persecution (being mistreated/falsely accused) for being His follower, but how did he tell us to react?

QUESTION: Why does Jesus say we can be happy?

QUESTION: Can you finish this old statement: “Don’t get made, get _________.” (answer “even”)

Getting even is what most people want to do. However, as we can see that is not Jesus’ way. He asks us to be happy about it and to remember God is going to reward us when we are persecuted.

No this is not easy and without Jesus in our lives, it will probably be impossible, but it is how we are supposed to live. It is not right that people treat good people badly, but it is real. Jesus never told anyone following him would be easy. Jesus actually warned people following him would be hard, but it would be worth it.

Let’s end by looking at what Jesus said in John 16:1-4a
“I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. This is because they have never known the Father or me. Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning.

Other Scriptures for study: 2 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 24:9

Monday, January 23, 2017

Group or personal study: Matthew 5:9

For the next few months (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 

Group/private Study

QUESTION: What are you working for?

Matthew 5:9
“God blesses those who work
for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”

Now that a person has made the decision to follow Christ and accept his salvation, they then begin working for God. This scripture proclaims a blessing on those who are workers for peace. Most people think of someone who is an aid worker, a diplomat, or an anti-war protester as someone working for peace. God’s idea of a peace makes is bigger. “Peace, in the scriptural sense, implies all blessings temporal and eternal.” (John Wesley, Notes on the New Testament)

Considering Wesley definition, a peacemaker(person working for peace) is a person who seeks to do all possible good to all men.

The Disciple of Jesus doesn’t live just unto himself, but also for the greater good of those around them.
Sometimes the best “good” for someone might not be what they like but something they need. I don’t know about you but I never liked getting a shot, but were those vaccines good for me? Yes, they were, but I did not think they were growing up.

Not everyone is going to like what is good but it is our job to
help people get the best possible good in their life.

What is the reward?
You will be recognized as a child of God

Friday, January 20, 2017

Group or personal study: Are you perfect? Matthew 5:8

For the next few months (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 

Group/private Study

QUESTION: Are you perfect?

READ/Quote Matthew 5:8
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

Jesus words seem to line up with the writer of Psalms 24

Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. (Psalms 24:3-4)

Being made pure in heart is the place God wants to bring everyone. It can only happen if a person has followed the path of the previous five verses. However, once a person has realized they can’t save themselves, mourn over their condition, are hungry enough and humble enough to ask for God’s mercy, then they can be made pure in heart.

Scripture and Biblical scholars describe this “being made pure” in many ways; becoming a child of God, sanctification, washed the blood of Jesus, justification, being saved, and Jesus coming into your heart, just to name a few.

However, it is this action done by God in response to your faith (Ephesians 2:8-10) which gives the disciple the promise that they will see God, not is a judge but as a good and pure heavenly father.

This is not the end of Jesus work. This is just the beginning. This is the place that you become a follower of Jesus and the starting place in becoming a true disciple. It is not always easy, Jesus will make this clear in a few verses but it will be worth it.

Want more proof it will be worth it, look it up:
Proverbs 11:21; Romans 8:37, Luke 9:24, Hebrew 11:24-27.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Group or personal study: Matthew 5:5-6

For the next few months (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 

Group/private Study

SCRIPTURE Matthew 5:6-7

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

QUESTION: What are you hungry for in life?

Jesus teaches that we need to be hungry and thirsty for Justice (right living/righteousness). The idea is that we don’t have this in ourselves we need it from God and we want it like a starving person wants food or a thirsty person wants water. This is not a desire for everyone else to be right or just but a desire for us personally to live right.

Perhaps the Apostle Paul was thinking of this verse when he wrote; “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”(Romans 14:17).

The question this verse maybe asking is: “How badly do you want your life to be right with God and others?”

The danger with someone who begins to think they are “Righteous” or “Right” is they may look down on others. The next verse deals with this and keeps a balance.

Along with wanting to live a just life, Jesus teaches us to show mercy and we will receive mercy.

QUESTION: What is mercy?

Mercy is defined as “having compassion and patient restraint.”

Jesus here as later in the Sermon on the Mount (specifically in what has been called the “Lord’s Prayer”), makes it clear only those willing to give mercy will get it.

To say it another way, if you want God to have mercy on you, you need to have mercy on others. Since none of us are perfect, we all need mercy, so we all must be willing to show it.

Other Scriptures (for personal study)
Matthew 18:21-35 (parable of the unmerciful servant)
Matthew 6:12, Luke 11:4 (Pray Jesus taught the disciples)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Group or personal study: Matthew 5:4-5

For the next few months (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 

Group/private Study

QUESTION: Are you sorry you did wrong or that you got caught?

For many people the truth they are sorry for both. Today’s scripture deals with our attitude toward our misdeeds, the things we have done wrong or as the Bible calls it sin. 

READ: Matthew 5:4-5
God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth

The mourning (extreme sadness), Jesus is talking about here is the sadness over our sins. This ties into the last verse where our realization of our state spiritually (before God) is hopeless and we feel honestly bad about what we have done enough to ask God to remove it from our lives. 

The Bible teaches though we may think some people are better than others, no one is right before God.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”(Romans 3:23) & 
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) 

The promise here is that if we mourn (you may have heard the word repent in church) then God will comfort us.

How does God comfort us? He sets his spirit inside us and changes us.

In verse five, Jesus speaks of the humble.

Humility is not weakness. Someone who is weak isn’t humble, they are weak.

A person who is humble in this scripture is the person who sets aside their self-importance and strength and admits they need God’s help. 

For this scripture, it is the image of someone who knows they are unworthy and are willing to admit they need help. 

QUESTION: What happens to the drowning person who refuses help? 

If you said they probably die you would correct. It is the same for those who are refuse to humble themselves before God and feel bad about what they have done.  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Matthew 5:1-3

For the next few months (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 

Group/private Study

Read Matthew 5:1-3
 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.
 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, 
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has been called the greatest sermon ever preached. It has also been recognized as Jesus’ principles for the kingdom he was establishing. Its messages are both simple and impossible (without God’s help).

The beginning of the message has been called the “Beatitudes.”  They contain the attitudes everyone needs to have if they are going to be blessed (made happy/joyful) by God. The promises are both for life on earth and for the life after death/heaven. God’s blessing can be felt now for those who have the right attitude and certainly in the next life.

Jesus first beatitude is to the poor in spirit. This has nothing to do with the amount of money you have, it has everything to do with how you see yourself.
Solomon in the book of Proverbs said, “the poverty of the poor is their destruction” (Proverbs 10:15).

How can this be good? (Gather response without criticism)

Being spiritually poor is good because only those who realize they are poor, and destruction is coming will ask for help. If you think you are rich spiritually(you don’t need saving) then you won’t ask God for help.

Let’s be honest, how many times has an adult asked if you need help and you refused because you thought you could do it? (gather responses or ask for a raise of hands)

When you finally realize, you can’t do something yourself and you humble enough to admit it, then you ask for help. This is true when it comes to our spiritual life. When we realize, we are poor then we can be blessed.

The first step to living in Jesus' Kingdom is to realize you can’t do it without Jesus.

Other scriptures:
Romans 3:23; 6:23, 10:9-10
Ephesians 2:8-9

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New study starting: (First Lesson) You Are Valuable

For the next few months (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Here is the first lesson but it looks at something a little different.

QUESTION: Does anyone know what the most quoted verse in the Bible is?

If you answered John 3:16 you are correct.

Read/Quote John 3:16
"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

It says that God loved us so much that he gave his best for us.

You may wonder why we should start a study about Jesus’ kingdom principles with this verse.

You may ask, “I thought we were going to learn about the greatest message Jesus ever spoke, The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)?”

We are but there is something I want you to realize in the middle of all the stress in your life.

You are valuable to God. He gave his best, his all to try and reach you.

QUESTION: Did you realize that the Bible says as great as all of creation is mankind is just a little lower than the angels?

 When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned them with glory and honor. (Psalms 8:3-5)

QUESTION: What do you think this means to you?

And that is just one verse. There are many more which say the same thing, “You are valuable to God.”

Not just your neighbor, that great teacher, or some famous person: You are valuable to God.

QUESTION: Do you always feel valuable?

Jesus always sees you as valuable. He loves and cares for you and that is why he came to save you and to give you a better way to live.

Think about that as we begin to dive into the Sermon on the Mount next meeting.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Why does God bless a liar?

I was asked, “Why did God bless Jacob when he and his mother deceived Isaac?” (Genesis 27)

It is a fair question it doesn’t seem fair that God would bless people for doing things that he was against. I know some people would say that this was before the 10 commandments so the probation against lying was not in effect. I would disagree, they knew what they were doing was wrong but decided to do it anyway.

The problem started long before this event. 

First, it started when a parent decided to ignore God’s command. What is it?

When Jacob and Esau were still in the womb, God told their mother, Rebecca, “The younger will rule over the older…” (Genesis 25:19-24). I am certain she shared this news with Isaac but as we see Esau is being treated by Isaac as the rightful heir completely ignoring what God had said.

Why?

Was it because of tradition? Was it because of personality?   

I am not sure. The Bible does not say.

When we come into the story later Esau has the birthright and sells it for a bowl of soup. Showing more that he was more concerned with what he could get now than with the blessing that is to come.
What does it show about Jacob?

God had promised him the blessing and instead of waiting for God to give it to him he bought it rather than showing kindness.

Later, in the story of Jacob deceiving Isaac, Rebecca and Isaac once again do not wait for God to give them what they are promised again try and get it themselves. God had promised this blessing to Jacob, so I am sure they felt justified in what they were doing but they were wrong. They should have trusted God, but instead, they ran ahead of God. They tried to get the promises without waiting for the God’s solution.

What happened? Jacob had to run from his brother, leaving his family and his possessions. Rebecca probably never saw her favorite son again.  Later, Jacob feared meeting his brother. It also set a pattern of deception in Jacobs life which cost him again and again.

Yes, God blessed him as he promised, but it was not because of his actions it was in spite, of his actions.

In our lives, we can learn from this story:

1.  Don’t run ahead of God.
2. Let God supply, don’t depend on sinful actions to get what God has promised.
3. There is a cost for getting something outside of God’s way, even it is what he wants you to have.
4. The ends do not justify the means (Even, Especially, if the ends are what God wants).
5. Despite Jacob’s stupidity, God blessed him (there is hope for us).


The whole story of Jacob is found in Genesis 25-36.