All posts tagged: bible

Sermon on the Mount (cont.)

It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:30

…ouch! We all struggle with it, temptation – and we don’t spend a lot of time talking about it. We live in a very distracting culture, I can’t even believe what is on after 8:pm on the boob-tube (pun intended). We have a hard time finding things to watch as a family, right now old re-runs of “America’s Funniest Videos” with good ol’ Bob Sagget is our favorite.

One thing that has stuck with me and helped me is the idea of focus. Where is my focus? Check out this verse:

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

I find that when I am focused on Christ, when I am doing the things that he has called me to; loving him, my family, people, serving, leading, visionizing, etc. When I am focused on the things of heaven, there is less and less room for temptation.

Another thing that has stuck with me is the whole “better than blank” idea. Which is basically the idea that there is nothing better than Jesus, no temptation, no sin, no luxury, no position, no paycheck – there is nothing better than being in relationship with him and living a life that is focused on the principles of the Bible.

Of course this short essay is no cure-all for temptation, but maybe just an encouragement to re-focus and keep my life laser guided on Him…

Sermon on the Mount (cont.)

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.

Matthew 5:23,24

So I just noticed that this verse says if someone has something against you, then you go to them and make it right. I think I’ve always heard this taught that if you have something against someone else than you must go and make it right. (Here is the KJV: “and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee”…no wonder I don’t read that version!). Anyway – a very interesting spin on this teaching. It says to me that it is my responsibility to be aware of how I treat people, being careful not to leave a trail of collateral damage wherever I go. As a pastor, more specifically, a shepherd – one of my highest priorities is to love people; to do my best to let them know that they are accepted and significant. I think Christ did this with people all the time – people who wouldn’t expect him to even notice them – he made them feel significant.

What is the opposite of anger? is it love? I think it is compassion. A little compassion goes a long way. Thoughts?

The words of Christ:

 17 “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. 18 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. 19 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.

20 “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!

Some interesting quotes from Matthew Henry’s:

Those who extenuate and encourage sin, and discountenance and put contempt upon strictness in religion and serious devotion, are the dregs of the church. But, on the other hand, Those are truly honorable, and of great account in the church of Christ, who lay out themselves by their life and doctrine to promote the purity and strictness of practical religion; who both do and teach that which is good; for those who do not as they teach, pull down with one hand what they build up with the other, and give themselves the lie, and tempt men to think that all religion is a delusion; but those who speak from experience, who live up to what they preach, are truly great; they honor God, and God will honor them (1 Sam. ii. 30), and hereafter they shall shine as the stars in the kingdom of our Father.

We must do more than they, and better than they, or we shall come short of heaven. They were partial in the law, and laid most stress upon the ritual part of it; but we must be universal, and not think it enough to give the priest his tithe, but must give God our hearts. They minded only the outside, but we must make conscience of inside godliness. They aimed at the praise and applause of men, but we must aim at acceptance with God: they were proud of what they did in religion, and trusted to it as a righteousness; but we, when we have done all, must deny ourselves, and say, We are unprofitable servants, and trust only to the righteousness of Christ; and thus we may go beyond the scribes and Pharisees.

Wow – every time I read stuff like this I am reminded of how far outside of the orbit of Christ I allow my life to drift. I still orbit, meaning my life still revolves around Christ and living for me is about being a part of what God is doing – but sometimes I just orbit way to far outside of his light, his blessing, and his holiness. Lucky for me, my life is not dependent on how well I do, but how much I trust God and allow him to bring me in closer.

We are going to sing that song this week, Closer by Charlie Hall… interesting.

Sermon on the Mount (cont.)

13 “You are the salt of 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 trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

A famous part of Christ’s teaching. I have heard and given many messages on these verses. My old youth pastor used to say something like spend about 10 years teaching before you try and teach the parables of Christ – probably wise. I am not even going to get into it. What is fresh to me this time are those last few words: verse 16. It would seems that being the “salt of the earth”, and the “light of the world” is tied closely with our “good deeds”.

Now I am not talking about the faith vs. works argument, that’s so last decade. What strikes me is that quote, “people don’t care what you have to say until they know that you care” (or something like that). The point is that so many times Christians want to tell others how to better their lives, or change, or break a habit, or whatever – but they miss the crucial point of letting “your good deeds shine”. A lot of times relationship is the key to evangelism – getting to know people, showing them you care, spending time with them, allowing God’s Spirit to work in their lives (and yours as well). Then when you’ve built some level of trust, God brings opportunities for you to speak into their lives. I am not saying this is how evangelism must work, I am just saying that this is an effective way that it does work – especially in my life with my personality.

OK, so this is way late – but I was on the road with the family…

3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “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. 12 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.

The Beatitudes, the first part of the famous “Sermon on the Mount” given by Jesus Christ (thus the red lettering). You’ve heard it before probably, but “Attitude is Everything”, and Jesus chooses to share this message at the beginning of his public ministry, probably teaching and training his disciples in this very important lesson on your attitude towards ministry and life in general. As I was studying this portion of scripture here’s what really stuck out to me:

This is a code of ethics; a standard by which to live our lives. As my commentary puts it, “these are not multiple choice – they must be taken as a whole”. The questions I can ask myslef are simple – the answers profound.

  • Do I daily realize my NEED for God in my life?
  • Do I mourn? (to me this means is my heart tender towards other people – am I touched by their situations?)
  • Do I live a life of humility or has pride taken hold on my life? (probably the most important question – ask someone else to give you an honest answer to this one!)
  • Do I have a genuine concern for justice in the world? (definition of justice: the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.)
  • Do I show mercy on a continual basis in my life? (definition of mercy: ccompassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.)
  • Do I continually strive for purity of heart? (of course the Bible teaches us that the heart of man is not pure, but the Bible also says that we can receive a new heart; check out this verse:
    “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses….” Ezekiel 36:26-28
  • Do I seek peace, am I a peacemaker? (definition of peace: a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, esp. in personal relations: Try to live in peace with your neighbors. It takes a lot of humility and mercy to achieve peace – is making peace that important to me?)
  • Do I live my life without fear of being persecuted for doing what is right? (the pressure to conform to the world is ingrained so deeply within us that sometimes just doing what is right in a situation can bring persecution. Compare and contrast this with what is happening to the persecuted churches worldwide, check out this link, and it might bring clarity into our lives and challenge us to do what is right more often.)

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