Monday, February 27, 2017

Person or small group Study Matthew 5:38-48 Our attitude toward others



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

Study

QUESTION: Can you be perfect?

This is a trick question because how do you define perfect. A perfect apple tree is an apple tree that produces good apples. It is perfect because it is doing what God created it to do. Jesus wants us to be like God not in his eternal aspects but in how we live our lives. Today we are going to look at how God treats people and how we need to.

READ: Matthew 38-48
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

There is a lot in these scriptures however the point we are going to look at is why does Jesus ask us to live this way.

QUESTION: Why should we not demand justice, why give the soldier more than the law demanded, why give to someone who might not pay us back, and more than that, why be kind and love someone who hates you?

Two answers we want to highlight as for why God wants us to live this way is:
1. Jesus wants to change our enemies into our family.  If you are trying to make someone part of your team you treat them nice but God wants to do more. Do you think you could win someone over if you said, “I hate you, would you like to be part of my family?” No you win them with love.
2. Jesus wants us to become like him and he loves those that do not love him.  Paul said it this way in Romans 5:8 “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” and we need to do the same.

Most Biblical teachers do not believe Jesus calls you to give your enemy the power to destroy you, but all agree Jesus is calling his followers to a way of living that looks at others as he does potential family members.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A thought on the (dis)unity of the church.

What is unity? For the Christian, the example Paul gives us is probably one of the best; a body. However, what we see too often it dis-unity. I want to suggest, maybe we are not a disunited as we think.

1 Corinthians 12:12-30 is the Scripture pastors have used for years to describe how the body works together. We understand but I do not think we miss two other parts. First, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 where it reminds us that there are different gifts, service, and workings. The other is 1 Corinthians 13 which speaks of love. Without a deep understanding these two pieces we want to make the body more like an ameba or we want to tear pieces out.

What does love have to do with unity? It seems obvious if we are united then we will all love each other. The problem is that God isn’t saying we should love if we are in unity, but we should love if we don’t appear like we are. This means loving even those we strongly disagree with: our enemies. I assume I don’t have to quote the Sermon on the Mount here. The problem isn’t many times the enemies out there (outside the church) but the enemies who seem to be inside.

The issue I want to really look at is the different gifts, service, and works. I told someone not long ago that we judge the passion for evangelism by the model of the extrovert and the discipleship by the model of the introvert. I want to make it clear, I think these models are wrong. An extreme extrovert will not be able to sit for hours studying the Bible and meditating in private. One the other hand, an extreme introvert will shut down if put in front of a bunch of people. Are either bad people? No. they are different. They have different gifts, services, and works. Now different churches, organizations, and groups also have different, gifts, services, and works. 

Let’s look at a different way.

Do you think to save space in a school the library ought to be in the football stadium? Or the shop class meet in the swimming pool (yes! electricity and water sounds smart to me, NOT), Or the mix drama class and math (though I am sure some math teacher have seen a lot of drama, “But I can’t (sob) get it”). We know they can’t they are in different parts of the school and honestly have little to do with one another. 
By the way, you think church politics is bad consider college/educational politics. However, we, on the outside, understand each of these loosely connected parts is important for a school, though they don’t seem to connect. On the inside, the librarian cries over funding going to stupid jocks, the math teacher decries the waste of intellect on the high budget, low talent drama, the shop teacher whines over the lack of upkeep on his equipment when the pool maintenance never seems to lack its funding (though to be honest a green pool stands out more than a little rust on a tool). I have known some school administrators it is many times a thankless job with everyone wanting to give advice and criticism. A lot more criticism than good advice is what most administrators get.

If you are in this school what do you think you can do to help begin unity? Smack some sense into the shop teacher(tempting but no)? Or force all the jocks to spend as much time in the library eating, I mean, reading the books as they do in practice? Hand out pamphlets to try and explain how we should all get along (now you have upset the janitor who says they will add to the trash problem). Can I suggest something else? Don’t add to the problem. Don’t yell at the other teachers for not getting along. Don’t offer advice to the administration. Do your job to the best of your ability do not try to be God, I mean, the administrator. Do the hardest thing there is to do: work on yourself and do the work you have been hired to do.

Do I need to now explain how this works in the church? Jesus is our administrator (and a whole lot more). He is what joins us together though, to be honest sometimes I have a hard time seeing how. There are many great schools which from the outside look good but they aren’t there is in-fighting, backstabbing, and what looks like complete disunity yet somehow, they get their job done. Could they do it better if they quit what we would call being petty, sure, but they are human. So are the people in the church, the church has the best and the worst of humanity it’s going to have issues, but that doesn’t mean it can and won’t get anything done it will. We have the best administrator.

Finally, to understand everyone is the school of God. All of Creation the scripture says is trying to teach man about God. Just as the teachers and sometimes the students see dis-unity while they are in the walls, once outside perhaps we will see it differently. Outside the school, we will be amazed how our administrator worked to keep this school doing its job.

I want to note one thing here. If you have been recently hurt by the bad actions of a fellow teacher/student, this illustration will not remove the pain. You don’t need answers now, you need healing and thankfully the great administrator, Jesus is also the great physician. Call out to him not for answers but for healing. If you have a bullet inside you, you don’t need a lecture on how bullets can hurt people, you need a doctor to remove it.



Friday, February 10, 2017

Jesus' view on making Vows and Promise

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


Study

QUESTION: How do you know someone is telling the truth?
QUESTION: How do businesses make sure that people follow through on their commitments?

If you said, make contracts you are right. In ancient days (and in some places today) people make vows (promises made on a higher power or sacred place) to guarantee they will do something.

QUESTION: What are some silly vows (promises) you may have heard?

Jesus had something to say about people keeping their commitments also.
READ Matthew 5: 33-37 “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the LORD.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

Jesus says to those who want to live according to His kingdom principles that they should always answer truthfully, “Yes” or “No.” The idea is that disciples should be people of their word that they do not need a vow or a contract to keep their commitments.
QUESTION: Why would not giving a straight answer lead to doing wrong?

CHALLENGE: From this day forward do what you say you will and if you do not plan on doing something be honest about it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Porn an Old Issue Study in Matthew 5:27-32

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

Study

Today’s study can make some people uncomfortable so look at it and answer the questions with respect. Remember these are Jesus’ principle for those who choose to follow in his kingdom, they are for self-examination not for judging other people (Jesus will talk about that later).

QUESTION: Do you think God cares about how and why you look at someone?

QUESTION: Is pornography only a modern problem?

Yes, the Internet has made porn more accessible but looking at people with lust has been around since the fall of man. In the Old Testament, God gave strict guidelines for sex, but Jesus takes those ideas and goes to the root of the problem not just the actions but the thoughts.

READ: Matthew 5: 27-30
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So, if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.

Note: Though Jesus is speaking to men what he is saying is true for men and women. We need to look at another person as a person, not something to satisfy our own desires.

QUESTION: Jesus’ used hyperbole (exaggerated statements not meant to be taken literally.) what was it? And why do you think he used it?

In Jesus day, men could divorce their wives for any reason. Considering what Jesus just said about looking at someone to satisfy yourself, what do you think Jesus thinks about getting a new wife/husband just to satisfy your own desires?

ACTION: Jesus made it clear we need to avoid things that cause us to sin. Is there anything in your life you need to get read of (movies, the Internet, binoculars)?  Only you personally can answer this question.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Group or Personal Study Matthew 5:23-26

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

Study READ: “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18) QUESTION: Are there people you could do more to get along with? Most of the time the answer to that question is, Yes. But it’s not always easy to get along with people and let’s be honest there are times you do not want to try and get along with them. I am not talking about people that are trying to actually hurt you, but people you may not like or maybe they don’t like you. Paul says that we need to do what we can to get along with EVERYONE (yes sometimes, there isn’t anything you can do (abusive/dangerous situations) if you are having trouble with this seek help from someone in authority). Normally we are to get along and with this in mind let’s look at the next section in the sermon on the mount. READ Matthew 5:23-26“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny. QUESTION What two kind of people do you see which Jesus says you need to try and make things right with? If you said some who has something against you and someone you owe, then you got it. There could be more but these are the two main types Jesus is looking at. The first is someone that has something against you. Jesus does not say you did anything wrong he is saying someone else has the problem, yet you are to try and make it right. This is hard. It might be easy to say, “It’s their problem, they can get over it!” However, Jesus doesn’t give you that option. In fact, Jesus said leave your sacrifice at the altar and try and fix it first. Remember, for the people of Jesus day offering sacrifice to God was the most important thing to do. A devout Jew would not let anything stop him from giving his sacrifice to God. Jesus is beginning to lay the groundwork for a kingdom principle, you cannot be right with God and wrong with people. The second is easy to understand, you owe someone and you need to make it right without dragging it out. This one may be easier, you’re at fault. However, there are times we do not want to admit we did anything wrong, isn’t that, right? Jesus doesn’t give any slack, admit it and make it right before being forced too. QUESTION Do you like admitting you're wrong or trying to make things right with someone who is maybe being unreasonable? How would Jesus want you to handle it?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Group or Personal Study of Matthew 5:21-22

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

QUESTION: Have you ever heard someone tell someone to, “Go to Hell!” or were so angry you wished someone was dead

Sometimes, the person doesn’t mean what they say. However, the desire to see someone cursed, to see someone die or to go to hell (eternal separation from God and all that is good) as the result of anger and hate is more common than we may realize.

Question: If you are not actually trying to cast a curse or kill someone have you done anything wrong?

READ Matthew 5:21-22
You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell

In the Old Testament, God condemned people for actions and the courts of Jesus’ day would hand out justice based on the actions of people. However, Jesus is making it clear in his Kingdom the standards are higher. You are not even supposed to wish evil on someone.

QUESTION How does this standard make following Jesus more difficult?

What Jesus is calling us to is far more difficult, (just wait until we get to verse 44) but remember those in Jesus Kingdom are not alone. They have the Holy Spirit (Jesus presence) inside them to help them. Yes, the call to discipleship is harder but it is also made easier because we have help. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate (helper), who will never leave you.” (John 14:15).

ACTION: If you get angry remember to let God have it, as a follower of Jesus you can’t hold on to it. Let It Go.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Brief Study of Matthew 5:17-20

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

Study

QUESTION: Do rules matter and what would life be like without them?

The Old Testament gave the Jewish people a whole list of rules. Some may have hoped that Jesus was going to throw out all the rules but Jesus said his coming wasn’t designed to throw out the rules but to do something far different.

READ Matthew 5:17-20

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So, if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
“But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

Though there has been much argument over what Jesus fulfillment of the law means as far as keeping the Ole Testament commandments, what cannot be argued is that Jesus was by his own admission come to fulfill the law.

Some want to believe this means that Christians have the right to live however they want but Jesus did not leave us with that option he calls us to something deeper. Jesus wants us to live a life more perfect than the religious leaders (Pharisees) of his day. Jesus doesn’t just say that we need to have a “better righteousness” than those people but without it then we are not a part of his kingdom.

QUESTION: The Pharisees of Jesus day were self-righteous, what does it mean or what does self-righteousness look like?

If you said that being self-righteous mean you are trying to save yourself, you are correct. We have already discussed that Jesus made it clear we can’t save ourselves or make ourselves pure. Jesus wants to give us his righteousness (salvation) Part of having Jesus’ righteousness is we have been what the Apostle Paul “made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:21) which was given to us on accepting Jesus as Lord of our life, but it doesn’t end there. Christ’s new life in us begins to change us not just on the outside but on the inside. Jesus later in the Sermon on the Mount will talk about the real sin starts on the inside, but we will get to that later.

There is more in this scripture but today’s study is coming to an end. The question you must ask yourself is; are you trying to be “Self-righteous” or are you trying to live in “Christ’s righteousness?”