Thursday, March 30, 2017

Personal or Small Group Study of Matthew 6:14-15 (forgiveness isn't fair?)

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

Study

QUESTION: Have you ever said or heard someone else say; “That’s not fair.”

QUESTION: Can you agree with the statement that “something may not be feel right or fair but it is right?”

You may or may not agree with the statement but there are times when something doesn’t feel right or fair but it is right. It isn’t fair that a child has to take chemotherapy or radiation treatments but if they have cancer it may be the right thing to do. Today’s teaching from Jesus for most feels like it may be right but it doesn’t feel right.

READ: Matthew 6:14-15 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
First, you need to know you need forgiveness. The Bible teaches that no one outside Jesus is perfect, we all need forgiveness. (Romans 3:23+)

To understand this verse we need to understand what forgiveness is and what it isn’t:

Forgiveness (in a Christian context) is:
1. Letting go of the need for vengeance
2. Letting go of the anger/bitterness connected with the offense
3. About you and no one else
4. A way to find peace in life

What forgiveness is NOT:
1. Allowing bad/illegal behavior to continue
2. Trusting someone (Forgiveness is given, trust is earned)
3. Refusing to testify about a crime
4. Pretending nothing ever happened
5. About the other person
6. Quick and painless (at least not usually)

Before we go any further it should be stated: God doesn’t ask you to do something he doesn’t give you the strength to do. You may think this is impossible but with God everything is possible.

QUESTION: Do you know someone who has forgiven someone for something horrible?

Here are some examples
Eva Mozes Kor -survivor of the Holocaust, she and her twin sister Miriam were subjected to human experimentation under Josef Mengele at Auschwitz
CS Areson- Grandmother murdered by serial killer & father betrayed family in an unmentionable way.
Jesus - Crucified on a cross but prayed “Father for give them…”

If the disciple of Jesus wants peace with God, they have to be willing to forgive other. It may not be easy, and you may need help, but it is the medicine you need, even if it doesn’t seem fair.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Personal or Small Group Study of Matthew 6:9-13 The Lord's Prayer


For the next few weeks (Monday and Thursday), I am going to present a small class Bible study looking over Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. 
This study was originally designed for High Schooler it will show up in this study. 

Lord’s Prayer in unison (hand out a copy of the prayer)

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

Study

Jesus said pray like this. In Matthew 6:9-13 

QUESTION: What part of this prayer did you like?

Let’s look at the different parts of this prayer

“Our Father  in heaven”— God is “our” father indicating a family (we have brothers and sisters). In Jesus time a father was the responsible provider and the person who loved his family. It is sad some parents don’t look anything like God who love, cares, and wants to provide for us.

“May your name be kept holy” — QUESTION: How do you judge your friend’s parent? 
Often we judge our friend’s parents by the way the friends talk about them and the way the friends act. It’s the same with God. This reminds us we have a responsibility to keep God’s reputation good by our words and deeds.


“May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.“— This involves surrender of the world to God and giving God the only area of the world we control: ourselves. 

“Give us today the food we need” — Trust and contentment. Jesus will talk about this again in the sermon. Remember last week: God knows what we need.

“And forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us” — Yes, you have done wrong and need to ask for forgiveness, but you also have to forgive others. This is hard but required. (realize forgiving someone does not mean you trust someone) We will talk about this next week. 

“And don’t let us yield to temptation” — We need God’s help to keep us from doing wrong.

“But rescue us from the evil one” — God not only wants us to pray that we are protected from ourselves but also from the forces of evil in this world. 
   

Prayer can be more than these words but these words cover the basic content in the prayers of Jesus’ disciple.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Personal of Small Group Study of Matthew 6:5-8 Why do you pray?


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

Study

QUESTION: Why do you pray?

Do you think there is a wrong way to pray? Don’t answer that question. 

READ Matthew 6:5-8
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 

QUESTION: What are the two ways Jesus said not to pray?

The answer is first to be seen and the second is to think their actions are the reason they get their prayers answered. 

The first is directed to the people around them for self-glory. This is not saying praying out loud is wrong, we do it in this group, but it is saying doing it only to be heard by others (not God) is wrong.

The second looks at God as a video game, you do the right thing and you get the price you want. You could also say it makes God into a vending machine you push the right buttons and put in the right currency (certain number of prayers) and God has to give you what you want. Just like the previous verse, this does not say that repeating prayer is wrong, it is saying thinking you are going to get God to answer your prayer by using a Christian version of casting the right spell is wrong. 

Finally God is not an old man who forgets. He knows exactly what you need. Implied here is the idea you should trust him to take care of you. 

QUESTION: Did you ever think you needed something only to find out you didn’t or got something you wanted only to find out it wasn’t the right thing?


CHALLENGE: Trust God, he knows exactly what you need.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Personal or Small Group Study of Matthew 6:1-4



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

Study

QUESTION: Would you like to have your name on a building? Or be known as someone how gives away lots of money or stuff? 

READ Matthew 6:1-4 
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
QUESTION: Why do you think Jesus is saying we needed to “Watch out”?

There may be nothing wrong with people knowing that you are a giver or having your name on a building but Jesus wants us to be aware of why we are generous.

QUESTION: What does Jesus say are the benefits to keeping our giving secret?

Jesus clearly says the long-term benefits (Being rewarded by God) are better than the short term benefits (Recognized by people). Yet for many, the idea of waiting when you could have recognition and maybe fame now is hard to resist. Also, Jesus is warning against people who are giving who don’t really care about the person getting the gift 

QUESTION: Why do you think Jesus called a person a hypocrite who was giving to be seen by people?

It does seem that Jesus sees no value in giving if you are not truly concerned about the person in need but only about being seen in others. For most people, you may need the help, but being given something from someone who doesn’t care about you doesn’t mean a lot and Jesus calls it being a false person/being a hypocrite. 


CHALLENGE: Do you take up food for the poor? Why are you giving? To be seen? Or because you care for others? Determine not to judge anyone else's giving or try to impress anyone else, do it because you want to help.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Personal Blog -What were you "Squirrel"

One thing about having a blog is you can see how long you have goofed off when you sign back on.

Wow. In the last 30 days, there have been 2 blogs. I use to blog once a week so the 2 out of 4 isn't too bad. The problem is I was posting 2-3 days a week for several weeks. I had a personal goal of finishing the rough draft of a devotional and it stopped.

To my credit I did not quit writing, I was writing but I was not finishing this project. I ask myself why and I have a couple of reasons the first center around something every writer knows- fear.

Fear that if I completed it would then be judged. (What if it stank)
Fear of it being less than what I hoped.
Fear no one would want it.

The second issue surrounds the problem of distraction. I love the gag in the movie UP (Disney Pixar 2009) where the dogs get distracted by what they think are "Squirrel." Yet sometimes we/I get distracted by the routine of writing one thing when there is a shiny idea over here. Maybe, I should say I do get distracted instead of sometimes I get..."Squirrel,"

So I was writing about the sermon on the mount and then "Squirrel," Josh wonders if he should take on the task of building the Whitmore Community of Tomorrow a 5 billion dollar project that is supposed to bring hope to the world, or is it?  Yes, that was a big distraction. I like what is coming out of my story with Josh but what happened is this other project has floundered. (and not posted on the blog which was the intention).

Now I have to admit sometimes we need to chase something different, but if all we do is chase the "Squirrel."

Oh, where was I?

The danger is we don't complete anything, My advice to myself and the few of people who have stayed to read the end of this personal rant is:

Allow space for distraction and inspiration, but don't allow it to keep you from your goal.

Oh-- Next week the post for the Sermon on the Mount study will continue. I can promise because when you read this they will already be in the scheduled to go out. Promise.