No Longer in the Starring Role
June 11, 2019, 3:05 pm
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“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)
If I have a group of noisy students, I might say, “Be quiet,” indicating that I want them to stop talking or doing what makes noise. Because of that, I tend to interpret the first two words, “be still” in the same way. I need to stop making noise. So how does that work in my life? How do I stop making noise? So I did a little research and found that the Hebrew word actually means “to be weak, to let go, or to release.” I found out that there are two “imperatives” or verb moods, and in the Hebrew language, the emphasis is on the second imperative. In this case, that is “know.” So I am still so that I can know. So now the question is know what? That God is “God” (Elohim). Eve ate of the fruit so she could be as gods and from that moment, we each want control of our lives. We want to determine what is right and wrong for us, what careers to pursue, what schools to attend, who to date and then marry, and how to handle our problems. But here, God tells us to give up struggling to take care of every area of our lives and give control totally over to God. If today, you would give up trying to be in control of every part of our lives, would you have more time to focus on knowing God in a real way in your life? The idea is that if we live only to glorify God, those needing to know God will and He will be the one in the spotlight. Give up “starring” in your life’s story and let Him be the STAR!


Our Problem, God’s Solution, Your Choice, Now!
April 13, 2019, 6:37 pm
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“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:23-24)
Our problem- we all are rebels, want to do our own things in spite of God’s standards, and we all have missed living up to the glory of God. We are all a mess!
God’s solution- we are declared right with God FREELY by His GRACE through being bought by the act of purchasing us which is totally in Christ Jesus.
Our actions separate us from God and destroy our standing with God. Jesus’ actions bring us into the right standing with God. We get without cost because He gives it. Can you trust Him? Have you trusted Him? Will you trust Him?

What Do You See? A Lesson in Focus
March 20, 2019, 3:17 am
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What Do You See?

John 4

Are there certain things that you have heard over and over until you think that there is nothing more you can learn about it?  When my kids were growing up, we would go on trips and they would want to stop along the way.  So, we would go into a store, pick up some snacks and drinks, and they would always see one of those machines that you put a nickel, dime, quarter in and get a little ball.  You know the ones, they are little bouncing rubber balls.  In the back of a vehicle, those things are lethal.  Sometime into the drive, the ball would end up bouncing off my head and I would ask the ridiculous question that all dads ask, “do you want me to come back there?”  But I wanted to be a good dad and use this as a teachable moment.  One day, I went into the store and I bought the little bouncy rubber ball and went to the car.  As we got on the main road and speeded up, I ask, “do you think I can catch this ball if I throw it in front of the car?”  The kids shouted no, then I threw and caught it, showing it to them!  They were amazed and wanted me to do it again.  I did a couple of more times and then told them I was going to really throw it a long way in front and try it one more time.  This time I threw it in front toward the middle of the car and it bounced on the hood and over the front of the car, uncatchable.  So instead of buying the ball to throw and torment each other, they would get a ball for me to try again.  As the kids grew, they questioned my ability to do this a little more and began to carefully watch when I would throw.  They learned that I only threw the ball once, the last time,  and just faked throwing the other times, holding the ball in my hand.  In this case, repetition was a good thing and eventually, they saw something that they had missed before. 

Reading the Bible and examining passages that we have heard before is like that.  We make observations early in our Christian life that may be true but as we observe a passage over and over, we see other things.  So, today, let’s look at a story from John 4, that you have heard many times, seeking to see something that we missed before.  When you get there, raise your hand if you want to summarize what is happening!  Today, in this passage, I want you to focus on the disciples.  I am convinced that Jesus was teaching the disciples a lesson that each of us needs to learn.   I think I can explain why they missed the lesson and why we miss what Jesus is trying to teach us with three points. 

First, as we go to John 4, we see that Jesus was going home to Galilee from Judea.  The quickest route would take Him through Samaria.  The problem was Jewish people hated the Samaritans and would avoid them, even if it meant taking a longer way home.  But Jesus wanted to teach the disciples an important lesson that we need to know.  We need to know how to share Jesus with others.  The first step to sharing Jesus is to focus on others more than ourselves.  If you look at verse 7, Jesus begins a conversation with a Samaritan woman who needed Him.  What did Jesus see that let Him know the woman needed help?  Notice the words, “and it was about the sixth hour.  There cometh a woman of Samaria”.  Those details reveal two important things.  First, she was coming at a time that was unusual.  In most situations, the women would come within the first hour, near 6 a.m.  For this woman to come near noon, the hottest part of the day, suggested that she was an outcast to her people.  The Samaritan women saw her as so sinful, a waste of a life, that they wouldn’t associate with her.  She was an outcast, with no hope, and certainly not a woman that other Samaritans would talk to, much less a Jewish man.  Imagine her shock when this Jewish man named Jesus began a conversation.  Jesus invests time to talk with her.  When she speaks, He listens to her.  He hears her and cares enough to exposes her attempts at self-righteousness.  He hears her claims to love God and to worship Him.  Look at the next thing she does, she tries to start a theological argument with JESUS!  But Jesus looks at the evidence of her life which shows that she needs a REAL relationship with the true God.  Jesus shows her what she needs and what she has been looking for in Him.  It is at this point in her conversation concerning her salvation, that the disciples return.  Why have they missed this amazing event?  It is because they went to town to buy food for themselves.  See the difference, they focused on their need while Jesus, who most likely was also hungry, after all, they traveled together and He did ask for water, focused on someone other than Himself.  Jesus focused on what the woman needed but the disciples don’t give her a thought.  They’re hungry! They are all about their needs, so they miss what others need.   

How many times do I miss the needs of others because all I am concerned with is me?  How about you?  The church is faced with a big problem of de-churched young people.  Depending on the survey, 50 to almost 90% of young people reared in a Christian home and in church, leave the church when they turn 18.  I think a part of the problem is how we define Christianity.  When we say that Christianity is the story of how Jesus came to earth to save us from Hell, we are not telling the whole story.  He did come to show He was the One and Only Lord God Almighty, the Supreme Being above all.  But in our narrative, we have changed His plan to one in which He is here to make sure we are successful, happy, and free from problems.  If Jesus doesn’t, we get mad at Him and turn away from Him.  The problem is that we forget that Jesus didn’t want people who only followed Him for what He can do for us.  A real relationship involves getting to know each other and learning that we must be more about the other person than we are about ourselves.  We need to get something straight right now.  We aren’t the object in the spotlight, Jesus is.  Everything is about Him, not me.  To be honest with you, if Jesus never did another thing for everyone in this room, if he never answered another prayer, healed another person, if He never provided for another person, we really couldn’t complain.  He died for us. He became the propitiation for our sins which means He satisfied God’s wrath with His beating and death on the cross.  He rose to prove that God accepted Him as a suitable sacrifice, once and for all, for sin.  He conquered sin, broke the chains of sin in our life, paid off our wages of sin by His death and resurrection.  Why did He do it?  To magnify Himself.  To show that He is the Ultimate.  He has no rival.  There is none like Him.  So, what role do we play?  We are his followers who become His slaves and take up our cross, ready to die for Him.  Right now, in chapel, is that how you see yourself?  I have been praying that the Holy Spirit will speak to you today.  Let’s take a moment, right now, for all of us to bow our heads and pray.  Who is willing to confess that you have been only concerned with your needs so that Jesus makes your life fun and free from problems?  Who is willing to say, Jesus, I realize that life is not about me, but about You?  I want to follow you, to live for you, to give my life away for you?  Jesus, I want your purpose to be my purpose.  I want to share you, whatever the cost.  In Jesus’ name,  Amen!

Okay, let’s return to the story.  Remember the first point is to focus on others more than ourselves.  Because Jesus focused on her, He got her to focus on the Truth that transforms.  After a long discussion with the woman, Jesus finally heard her say, “I know that Messiah’s coming.  When He comes, he will tell us all things!”  Can’t you see the smile on Jesus’ face when He told her, “the One you’re looking for I AM?  I am the Messiah!” 

Now time out.  Remember the disciples, who focused on their needs.  They returned from Mickey D’s and notice Jesus is talking to the woman.  They just heard Jesus admit to this woman that He is the Messiah, He is God.  How do the disciples react to this truth?  If you think they were excited and thrill that Jesus had shared the Truth, you need to keep reading.  The disciples are more concerned with why Jesus should NOT be talking to the woman instead of rejoicing about her salvation.  That brings us to the second point.  “we must focus on reasons why we should share Jesus more than on reasons why we don’t”.  Jesus took the time to notice this woman’s unique behavior.  He noticed things that show she needed to hear about Him?  What did He notice?  Remember, He noticed the time she came to the well.  He noticed her defensiveness.  He noticed her attempts to be self-righteous.  He noticed when she tried to change the subject.  He noticed her need of love and acceptance.  What do you notice about other people?  Okay, time for a quiz?  Don’t answer if it is you are the answer.  

Who is one of the first people in the cafeteria at lunch? 

Name one person who uses the microwave almost every day. 

Who sits at the first table when you come into the cafeteria? 

Name one student who speaks to me in the cafeteria?

Now I am going to ask some questions that I don’t want you to answer out loud.  So, don’t call out a name. 

What did you do when you saw someone who seemed to be sad about something?

Which girl who gave her testimony in chapel before Homecoming went to every other girl and hugged her while waiting for people to vote?

Who was the last person you saw talk in chapel instead of listening?

Have you ever considered that God may have you here to talk to someone about Him?  The disciples didn’t.  When they returned to Jesus, they were surprised that He was talking to a Samaritan woman.  According to the Bible, they wondered what Jesus was doing and they wondered why He talked to a disgusting Samaritan woman.  If they had been in Jesus’ place, they wouldn’t talk with her.  Their reasons for not talking were self-centered ones.  Jews weren’t supposed to talk with Samaritans.  Jews hated Samaritans because of past events.  That’s what made the story of the Good Samaritan so powerful.  But, stop a minute to answer a simple question- why did the disciples miss being with Jesus sharing the truth with this woman?  That’s right, they were buying food.  Who sold them the food?  Samaritans.  You know there was a conversation about food, right?  So, why was it wrong for Jesus to talk to the woman, but not wrong for them to talk to the food suppliers?  A selfish reason, right?  Take the time to admit that the reason you don’t talk to your friends about Jesus is a selfish reason.  We are at a Christian school.  You have the freedom to talk about Jesus.  Take advantage of every opportunity.  You are the best witnesses for each other. 

Jesus is trying to teach the disciples to see other’s needs.  They didn’t so their heads are down like we sometimes do in chapel when we get under conviction.  But Jesus isn’t having anything to do with that.  He is trying to teach them about important things.  I really love the next point Jesus shared.  Before I get to it let me tell you about my son.  My son was a great basketball player in high school, but he had a habit he had to overcome.   Like me, he was his own worst critic.  If he hit his shots, got his rebounds, he was fine.  But if he missed a couple of shots, had a turnover or two, picked up a foul, he started to hang his head.  His performance suffered, and his focus was downward.  His coaches yelled at him to get his head up.  I yelled at him to get his head up and back into the game.  After a few minutes, he would re-focus.  But by the time he was a sophomore, he began to outgrow this habit.  He still might miss shots or make mistakes, but he kept his head in the game. You can’t do what God has called you to do when you are focused on past failure instead of future possibilities.  Jesus was trying to help the disciples with the same problem which brings us to the THIRD step:  we need to focus on the potential possibilities of sharing Christ.  Imagine the disciples as they tried to think through this.  They couldn’t understand it.  With puzzled looks on their faces, they heard Jesus say, “the food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started.  As you look around right now, wouldn’t you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest?  Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you.”  As their eyes looked in the direction that Jesus pointed, they saw fields white with harvest.  But the harvest wasn’t a grain crop.  It was the Samaritans, dressed in white clothing, making their way to the Living Water, the Messiah, Jesus, God in the flesh.  In the very city where they went to get food while ignoring those in spiritual need, this woman returned to enthusiastically share the Truth, Jesus was the Messiah.  Her witness aroused the Samaritans who were coming to see the Jew who talked to the Samaritan outcast and changed her life forever.  It was so important that she shared Jesus to those who regarded her as an unworthy outcast that she left her water pot.  The very reason for coming to the well in the middle of the hot day was no longer the most important thing in her life.  Sharing Jesus was.  The disciples may not have known it at the time, but soon they would be sharing the message and reaping the harvest of souls.  Their self-centeredness was gone as they carried out Jesus’ purpose for them.  They were willing to die to accomplish God’s mission.  All but two of His disciples died while sharing the Good News about Jesus.  One killed himself after betraying Jesus, and one lived to be an old man, even though there was a failed attempt to kill him.  As an old man, he had joy because he was doing the will of God by sharing the Gospel to as many as he could.  He longed to see Jesus again but until then, he did God’s will.  This message is a reminder to you to share Jesus.  To recap, the FIRST point is, “to share Jesus we must focus on others  instead of ourselves”,  the SECOND point,  “we must focus on reasons why we should share Jesus more than on reasons why we don’t”, and the THIRD step, “ we need to focus on the possibilities that occur when we share Christ”.

So how do we end this today?  We don’t.  You have a choice.  Are you going to keep focused on yourself, like most people do and miss the opportunity to share Jesus or are you going to focus on doing what God called you to do?   I have asked my friends to pray for this moment.  Will you focus on those who God has brought into your life and look for the opportunities to share Jesus?  Your choice will be made based on who you love the most. 

You Have Heard-The Anger Issue
March 7, 2019, 3:36 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: ,

21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

Interpretation- What Does this mean?

Jesus is telling the Jews how to have a personal relationship with God.  That was His purpose in coming to earth and placing Himself in a body of a baby, who has now grown to be a man.  He realizes that what they do is based more on a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation than on a significant difference that it makes in their lives.  Their relationship with God was lifeless therefore they were living the life described by Solomon in Ecclesiastes, a life characterized by an empty and hopeless existence.  They were far from living a dynamic life intended by God.  He starts by challenging their traditional beliefs.  Notice that he goes beyond the surface outward things they do deep into the heart.  The first rule or commandment he addresses is “thou shalt not kill”.  A careful examination of the word for “kill” reveals that the law refers to the intentional and premeditated act of murder.  Having been created in the image of God, man was to hold high regard for the sanctity of life.  Each individual has a “god-ness” about them and each person reflects God in his ability to think, to love, to make choices, and to express himself in both words and emotions. 

It is at this point that Jesus goes deeper into the heart of man.  Outward observance of a moral code of conduct isn’t enough to be right in God’s sight.  Jesus wanted to expose the brokenness of man and his complete lack of any spiritual worth.  Remember the beatitude “blessed is the poor in spirit”?  In order to have a man live by the kingdom standards, man first had to be exposed as a fraud, pretending to be a follower of God on the outside but polluted within, with a heart that could be full of hatred, anger, arrogance, and vicious actions and words.  Notice that two words are used.  The first, raca, means “empty headed idiot”.  It is used in this context as an insult given by an angry person who expresses a contempt for another human being that de-humanizes him or her.  In cases like this, a judicial hearing before the Sanhedrin could result in a guilty plea and a fine or imprisonment. But the second term “fool” is much worse because not only does it express contempt of the person’s intelligence but also calls into question their relationship with God.  The “fool” has said in his heart, there is no God.  A person who attacks another person, hurling out insults of intelligence while expressing a disgust for this worthless person who is so beneath them, is showing his own lack of a relationship with God.  To a God who declares the second commandment is summed up by “love others as you love yourself”, the lack of concern over the words you use to ridicule and destroy others shows a lack a love for Him.  So, Jesus warns those listening, resolve conflicts and disagreements under the shadow of love for each other.  Jesus even suggest that we go to whatever lengths necessary to bring peace between us and the one who is acting as our adversary that we extend mercy to them.  Failing to lovingly work things out, with have severe and unwanted consequence that are beyond our control. 

Applications- I suppose the applications are many from this passage but here are four.  First, make the decision to be careful with the words you use as well as the tone with which you deliver them.  Wrongly using words can damage another individual, who God loves. 

Second, guard your anger.  Often anger produces undesired conflict with others and unwanted consequences.  Learn to control your anger as you learn to accept that others are life you, broken. Determine not to break them more. 

Third, realize that your conduct to others reflects your love of God.  Imagine each person with whom you come into contact as God.  He tells us that what we do to the least of these, we do unto Him.  Your comments in anger toward another person are reflective of your attitude toward God. 

Finally, the fourth application is this- find the root cause of your anger and turn that over to God.  An angry person is angry because of some reason which can be real or imagined.  I remember a man who got angry with his pastor over a small issue and as a result stopped going to church.   Any time the pastor was mentioned, the angry man took the opportunity speak insults and criticisms.  Imagine my surprise when the pastor asked me about, the man, and said he knew he had stopped coming to church because of physical illness.  Lovingly the pastor inquired about his health and spoke of his great admiration for the man, who had wasted a friendship because of anger.  In a world that needs to see the effectiveness of the Gospel, don’t let angry ruin your walk with others and your walk with God.   

Waiting for the Baby, Romans 8:18-30
February 17, 2019, 4:46 am
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Waiting for the Baby
How many of you are sitting here with something on your heart? It is possible that you are here, turning your heart and focus on the Lord God because He is worthy of praise, but you walked into this room with a burden. It may be that you or someone you know are dealing with a physical problem, or maybe more than one. Perhaps you are worried about your finances and your bills. Maybe you have a loved one who is heavy on your heart right now. You might be struggling with sin or dealing with depression. Your marriage may be a warzone and you may be having battles in your family. You might be overwhelmed with a multitude of problems, and you are thinking, I’m struggling with many of these. Maybe you’re thinking, “you have no idea what I am dealing with right now!”
So when we read “for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” in Romans 8, verse 18 seems like Paul is giving us a verse that tells us something that disconnects with what is real in our lives. What would Paul know about problems?
Let’s ask Paul; “What do you know about difficult times?” Here is Paul’s answer. “Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (2 Corinthians 11:24–28)
The first thing that Paul reveals to us in this passage is that GOD PROMISES A GLORY TO BE REVEALED IN US THAT MAKES ALL THE SUFFERINGS OF LIFE WORTH IT.
Have you ever had something in life that is so great that all the difficulties, physically suffering, and problems that we might experience don’t compare to the joy that followed? One of the most exciting times in a dad’s life is the birth of his children. The same is true of grandfathers, or in my case “Poppy”. I do understand that it is also an exciting time in the life of a mom and granny, but I can’t speak from their perspective! In Romans 8:18-30, Paul talks about a glorious coming, which he compares to a birth. Thinking back to those days as a dad waiting for his children and reflecting on that now as a Poppy waiting for the birth of twin granddaughters, I can understand God’s use of something that is so familiar to us to show us what is ahead for us. Let’s take a look.
In verse 18, we read- “for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Here God is reminding us, through the writings of Paul, that what will one day be comparable to the birth of a child, make everything we go through worth it. So what is the “birth” to which He refers? Look at two verses, verse 23 and verse 30. In verse 23, Paul mentions the “redemption of our body”. By using this term, Paul directs us the time, still future, when our salvation is finished. What do I mean by that? When you and I got saved, we became new creatures and sin’s influence over us was changed. Before I was saved, sin was my master. I was a slave to my sin nature. But God broke the power of sin in my life as he paid the penalty of sin. But I still experience the presence of sin. But the presence of sin also affects all of creation. One of the failures of a worldview that excludes God is that it fails to admit the inability, or futility, of man to solve his many problems, including problems with our environment. When Adam and Eve committed mankind’s first sin, not only were humans corrupted but all of creation was cursed by the fall. That is why we read “the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing (birth) of the sons of God. So in verse 23, the redemption of the body is this unveiling of the sons of God in their totally glorified bodies. Later in verse 30, Paul describes man’s glorification. I love that God had Paul use the past tense “glorified” for a future event to stress the certainty of our future glorification.
We know that the “birth” of our future glorification is a day which not only we eagerly anticipate but all creation does as well. Consider this, in verse 23, Paul tells us that we have the first fruits or the first crops which confirm the future harvest of our salvation. The firstfruits is the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence. God in us the hope of glory is but the first evidence that something glorious would come for those who would suffer for a while. In verse 23 to 25, we see that all creation is waiting for the time that we have our full sonship in God.
In the Roman culture of the New Testament, adoption was extremely important. During the time of the New Testament, a natural born child could be disowned but an adopted child could not be. It is remarkable that the adopted son should have a stronger position than the son by birth, yet it was so. Also in the Roman system of adoption, an adopted son or daughter went through a change of family, of name, of home, and of responsibilities. According to this passage in Romans 8, all of creation is waiting patiently for something we don’t have yet but are waiting for it.
This passage encourages us that God will help us with the struggles of our lives. Here is how He will help you today. First, when we are overwhelmed with our problems, we may not know the words to pray. The Spirit comes to our assistance, speaking to God the Father for us with deep feelings that are too deep for words. As the Spirit searches us, He intercedes in harmony with God the Father.
Second, God takes everything, the good, the bad, the ugly and works it together for the good of those who love Him. Don’t misunderstand the word “good”. You and I may not get everything we want the way we want it. Which is good because what we sometimes think are good things, would destroy us. God knows exactly what we need and He is determined to transform us from the inside out to be Christ-like. God wants Jesus to be the firstborn or the preeminent One with many Christ-like ones to follow.
Third, God has declared those following Christ and being transformed to Christ-likeness are justified and will be glorified. Justification means to be declared right with God. Think of this: not only did Jesus satisfy the wrath of God toward our sin by the death of Jesus, but He imputes to us the righteous acts of Jesus while on the earth to us. I get credit for acting like Jesus did when He was on the earth. So to God, my heavenly Father, I am right in His sight. But now for the birth of the baby: I am glorified as a full-fledged son of the Living God. Glorification is the future and final work of God upon Christians where He transforms our mortal physical bodies to the eternal physical bodies in which we will dwell forever.
Now that we have worked our way through this passage, we need to time how we can apply this. Take the sufferings, the things that you walked in here with, and make a choice that based on the authority of the Word of God, they aren’t worth being compared to what we will be when we are glorified. So take these burdens and cast them upon the Lord. Wrap them up, and present them to God. He wants to take our problems and use them to make us Christ-like. If we hold on to them, trying to solve them ourselves, we hinder Him from using them to transform us. Let me put it this way. The downside of pregnancy is all forgotten when you hold that baby for the first time. Just think how sweet it will be when we are glorified. Let God work!

The Sermon that Challenged the World, part 1
February 10, 2019, 3:58 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

A Teacher’s Desire
In addition to all that the Lord Jesus the Christ is, He was the ultimate teacher. As was common for His times, teachers were usually about thirty years of age and had a group of from ten to twelve teenage young men who were his disciples or followers. These men had already learned the value of hard work but what Jesus called them to do would need extraordinary strength and endurance. To provide this, Jesus promised to give the Comforter, or Holy Spirit, who would constantly live within, transforming these common, ordinary men into life-changers.
Like Jesus, I pray for my students to be life-changers. Unable to duplicate His amazing gifts to His students, I turn to praying for their relationship with Jesus and proceed to give them what I can, insight into turning the Bible from a book we occasionally read into the source of the core beliefs that shape our values of life. We start the class year by looking into a special textbook called Living by the Book by Dr. Howard Hendricks and William Hendricks. This father and son team combined to share a simple three-stage process to not only read the Bible but live the Bible. Their process is to observe, interpret, and apply the Bible. By the start of our second semester, we have covered the details, but learning occurs when the students put into practice the information with which they have received instruction. As Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This book with be a journal in which the students put into practice what they have been told and taught. We will be able to observe their learning process as we move through the book. So, hold on! It may start out rocky, but through hard work, many prayers, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will attempt to share what we learn from this endeavor.
This Is Where We Begin
What really is “the Sermon on the Mount?” The question struck my mind as my Bible teacher began to talk about this important sermon. The religious and government background and the Pharisees teaching vs. Jesus’ teaching is what I am going to cover to truly answer my question “What is the Sermon on the Mount?”
First, religious background, the setting takes place when Jesus is speaking to the multitudes that He cared for very much. He wanted to get them to see their sin. By telling them of the standards, He was showing them how far they are from God’s standards. They had fallen into the cycle of sin and salvation and the Judges. Now that they have returned to the land, they have different groups trying to keep the law in their own way. The importance of the standards is that are set are way too high for any human to meet. This part of the scripture clearly shows man’s situation without God. God is showing in this sermon how we can find happiness and true success.
Second, government background, they were under Rome now, before they had split into Israel and Judah under Solomon. The Jews wanted a Messiah that was a political leader or a military one. That would save them from Rome and create a Jewish Kingdom. John 18:36 Jesus says to them that His kingdom is not earthly and to this world. Israel was taken over by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and each kingdom was captured.
Finally, the Pharisees teaching vs. Jesus’ teaching; the Pharisees say things that the people want to hear. Their teaching is based behind deceit. It lacks faith and it focuses on the physical rather than the spiritual. They taught a form of godliness but discarded the Power of God. They were more focused on what they could do instead what’s on the inside. They were very far from God and made up their own strict laws. It was a very extreme version of the Old Testament. Now Jesus taught with faith and compassion for those He was talking to. He was interested in both their spiritual and physical well being. His teaching was about the internal side, and how the right heart will lead to right actions.
In conclusion, the Sermon on the Mount has 3 important statements, 1 the standards are way too high for any human being to meet. 2 driving the listeners to Jesus Christ is their only way of meeting God’s standards. 3 there is a pattern that God gives in the sermon the will lead to having happiness and a true success. After reading this can, you answer the question “what is the Sermon on the Mount?” Emre B.

The Beatitudes make up a very well-known passage of the Bible in about the first dozen verses of Matthew 5. These verses are also a part of a much bigger part of Scripture coming from the mouth of Jesus himself, the Sermon on the Mount. Before we get into this, however, we must investigate the past. The background of Israel is important to understand the customs and philosophies behind Jesus’ teaching.
The religious background of Israel though it started out good, later fell into chaos. They had a history of turning to other gods. In Judges we see their cycle of sin, capture, repentance, obedience, and back into sin. Later after so many sinful kings, God punished them with captivity again. When they could return to their country, after the rebuilding of the city, there’s a gap of 400 years. When the Bible picks back up, there are several different religious groups, who have formed, each trying to keep the law in their own way.
Israel’s religious background caused a very interesting government background as well. Saul was their first leader, then, due to his son choosing to follow God’s wishes over his own, David became king. Though his line continued in his son, Solomon, God had warned that though the Savior would be born in his line, immorality could cause the throne to be taken from him. When Solomon sinned, Israel split into two nations, Israel and Judah. Then their sin caused them to be captured, Israel by Assyrians in 722 BC and Judah by Babylon in 568 BC. Then in 538 BC and the years after, Jews began to return to Israel and rebuild the city. They were then captured by Rome in 63 BC and were still under their rule during the Sermon on the Mount.
The most vocal and present religious group in the Bible, who could always be seen opposing Jesus’ ministry and that of his followers after his ascension, were the Pharisees, a group with teachings much different to Jesus. The Pharisees were a separatist group obsessed with the old laws. They made many new laws defining what counted as breaking the Old Testament laws. If you carried so much as a rock in your shoe on the Sabbath, you could be punished for working. They focused on actions to be righteous. Jesus taught that righteousness is based off an internal attitude and believing on him would save you. It was internal, not external. Pharisees said your actions define your character. Jesus said the right character produces the right actions. Your actions only show your character, but they don’t define it.
To understand why what Jesus taught is significant, we must understand what normal was in that day. By knowing the background of a situation, it helps us know the best way to approach and handle a situation or a passage of Scripture. You can’t make a statement without knowing all the conditions surrounding the subject. It’s why we still teach history…because the past is the key to present success. Hannah G.

This chapter of our book is on the background of the Sermon on the Mount. And we will talk about Jesus’s teachings and how they are different from the Pharisees’ teachings. We will also look at the government background and the religious views at the current time. And I’ll show an interesting fact that happened just before the Sermon on the Mount.
The background of the religion before the Sermon on the Mount is easy to understand. There are two main ones that I will show you. The first one is the early Christianity which the Pharisees believed in, but we will that discuss later. The now let’s focus on the two Roman religion, which are Christianity or the Roman gods. The Roman gods were just slightly different from the Greeks a bit more was like so to say. The other is just Romans who converted to the Pharisees’ form of Christianity.
The government background is Romanian. Which means there were very strict rules and they punish you according to what the law says. And they often go a bit more than they need to. And they also misinterpret what they hear and still punish them. It is like you get beat down in front of the police station and then the police come out and then they beat you.
The final piece of information I need to give you is the difference between Jesus’ teachings compared to the Pharisees’ teachings. The Pharisees’ teaching is salvation. Like whenever you sin you are to confess it to whoever is listening behind the wall (so yeah you would not what to sin much because then there is something called blackmail). And the Pharisees might have not even been saved themselves. But they did everything outwardly to make it look like they were saved. But that is where Jesus’ teaching was different. See, Jesus’ is different because of his focus on the inward self. Like the b attitudes. Because he focuses on salvation through faith.
And this is where my part of this chapter ends. And I hope you have some more insight into the background. And I hope you will see the importance of salvation through faith instead of works. And the government back then was a bit one-sided, so I hope you see what Jesus had to put up with. And here is the interesting fact, it is that Jesus chose his twelve apostles just before the sermon on the mount. Jonathon S.

This paper will be talking about the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is an important part of the Bible. The sermon consists of the Beatitudes and some important things we need to know to have a godlier life.
The Sermon on the Mount is a big part of the Bible. The big part about it is the Beatitudes with are confused with sometimes the Ten Commandments. The Beatitudes is a blessing list from Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ longest sermon in the New Testament. The Sermon on the Mount was taken place in the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus spoke to tons of people on the mountain.
The Pharisees were always trying to find somehow to make people seem that Jesus isn’t perfect. There were several occasions that made the Pharisees question Jesus. An example is when Jesus would heal people on the Sabbath. On the Sabbath, you are not allowed to do any work so the Pharisees would say that healing people would be called work. Another example is when they didn’t wash their hands before eating which is talked about in Mark 7:6-7.
In conclusion with everything, the Sermon on the Mount is a very good message. I think we should have more people to read it so we can have a little better of a world. Kelli B.

The book of Matthew chapters five through seven talks about the Beatitudes and teachings on different rights and wrongs. This section is called the Sermon on the Mount.
The message Jesus was trying to tell the people He was preaching to was that they were far from meeting God’s standards. In fact, no one could live up to God’s standards. He said this not to discourage them but because He cared for them. Jesus was trying to get them to see their sin and see the need for salvation.
The government at this time was divided into four different groups. Each group had its own different way of what was considered righteous. These four groups consisted of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Zealots. The principal kinds of religious parties are represented here even though these groups were established hundreds of years ago.
Although there were multiple groups the Pharisees probably stand out most. The Pharisees believed that being clean on the outside was more important than being clean on the inside. Jesus, however, taught the opposite of this. Jesus taught that if you are pure and clean on the inside then your action will portray that. Also, righteousness, on the inside is far more important than righteousness on the outside. In addition to teaching on righteousness, Jesus taught that in order to have true success you must have true joy and happiness which contradict what the Pharisees say. Their doctrines concentrate on the physical and not the spiritual.
In conclusion, we should train our thoughts on the inside of ourselves instead of outside appearances. -Malia B
The Sermon on the Mount is the most famous sermon ever preached. In the sermon, Jesus gives the beatitudes and tells how to have a happy life. This most famous message covers many things like becoming a Christian, how to live life and how to handle all people and most importantly God.
There were four types of religious groups that were all different. The Pharisees followed the old laws, worried about internal and not external. The Sadducees followed the modern law of God’s way, not man’s way. The Essenes believed in separation. The Zealots fought against Rome.
The government was under Roman rule. At this time, they were in Rome but before that, they split between Israel and Judah.
Jesus was teaching about how they needed internal change to have joy and success. Jesus taught if you are correct on the inside then your actions will show it on the outside. The Pharisees taught that keeping the old law made you worthy. They added to the law and made it extremely specific and difficult. They focused on what people saw in their life.
In conclusion, Jesus clearly taught with the sermon on the mount that you are to put God’s way before man’s way. Jesus taught that internal change would lead to joy and success and that your actions would show to everyone. Even though many were looking for a savior to be a warrior, Jesus was successful in everything he ever did. -Reagan B
The Sermon on the Mount was in Jerusalem 31 BC halfway through Jesus’s three-and-a-half-year ministry. It took place in the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, Mount of Beatitudes. It just happened after Jesus chose his twelve apostles and his teaching at the synagogue. There were crowds from Galilee, Judea, Jordan and many more from other places. People came to be healed from their sickness and their uncleanliness.
There were the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and the Zealots. The Sadducees focus on the present and they were religious liberals who counted things as supernatural. They changed the scripture to meet their religious beliefs. The Essenes were ascetics and believed that the right religion meant separation from society. They led austere lives in the northwest side of the Dead Sea. The Essenes were nationalist and thought the right religion was political activism. They also looked down on other Jews for not taking up arms against Rome.
The Roman’s establish a republican government where citizens elected representatives to rule. But every citizen had to have an active role in the government. The highest position in the government was two counselor leaders and they ruled the Roman Republic.
The Pharisees believed that religion consisted of laws and tradition and they believed that Christianity is found through works. Jesus said true spirituality is internal, not external. Ture religion in God’s kingdom is not a question of ritual but of the right attitude toward God and others.
The main message of the Sermon on the Mount is that you must not find comfort in the right theology but being contemporary in the right way, separating ourselves from world guidelines and taking a stand for moral problems. This was about some of the background information parts of the Sermon on the Mount. -Job C

Having read the works of my young authors, you may be interested in what the assignment was. Here it is: you are to write five paragraphs of at least five sentences on the following topics. First, write an introductory paragraph in which you give a thesis statement, giving your reason for this writing. Second, explore the religious background at the time of the Sermon on the Mount. The third paragraph was on the government of the Jews at the time of Jesus’ life. For the fourth paragraph, I wanted the students to examine the difference between the most influential religious group in Israel, the Pharisees who also were the most outspoken opponents of Jesus and the God-man, Jesus. Finally, the last paragraph was their conclusion statement.
How could you do with this assignment? Start by reading through the Sermon on the Mount. Become familiar with the passage in Matthew 5 to 7. Make a list of terms you would like to understand better, passages that you need clarity on, and anything else that interest you. Ask God to help you notice what He wants you to notice. Next move on to the five paragraphs mentioned above. Using at least five sentences, put together your thoughts and research into clear thoughts. Consider the importance of Jesus coming before the people and speaking words that are radical and that challenges the status quo of the day. Put your thoughts into the time period by exploring how his proclamations would be taken by government officials, religious leaders, common people, and those who were social outcasts. End with your conclusion, making a powerful statement about the importance and significance of the Sermon on the Mount.

The Hardest Thing
November 25, 2018, 4:44 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

When It Isn’t Easy Following God

Becoming a Christian is really a Jesus-thing because He did the hard stuff.  Peter reminds us in his first epistle of the sacrifice of Christ with these words found at the end of the second chapter from verses twenty-one to twenty-five: “for to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.  He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds, you have been healed.  For you were straying like sheep but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

While reading what Peter wrote, I was struck by what memories Peter may have experienced was he wrote.  Although thirty or so years had passed since the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus had taken place, I am sure the memory was still fresh in Peter’s mind.  But it is the last words in the passage that is most striking to me.  “For you were straying like sheep but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” most likely were written with tears in his eyes.  Peter knew about straying like sheep.  Not only had he betrayed Jesus three times, but he also left the ministry to which Jesus had called him as he returned to the safe life of fishing.  The conversation that Jesus had with Peter after a wasted night of fishing resulted in the straying fisherman returning to his Shepherd.  But not just his Shepherd but the Overseer of his soul!  So powerful was this moment in Peter’s life, he was relentless in taking the Great News about Jesus to others.  This faithful “feeding of the sheep” had taken Peter to Rome as he was imprisoned as an enemy of the Roman Empire. 

So, considering Peter’s memories and past experiences is it any wonder that God placed these words under Peter’s care to share.  Let’s review what Peter told the saints.  First, Peter reminded them that they were in the Roman Empire as well as in the world, but their citizenship was in Heaven.  That made them resident aliens living in exile.  Their battle with temptation was to live according to God’s standards instead of the passions of their old natures that declared war on their souls.  You might ask “what were these evil desires?”  While everything that we struggle with is on the table, don’t see the words “sensual lusts” and think sexual things.  Sensual desires are often our desire to be in control of our life and circumstances.  Instead of facing life from God’s perspective, we decide to live according to how we see life and the circumstances in which we live.  Notice that Peter challenges these persecuted Christians not to take the attitude that they need to fight back against those who are attacking them.  In the United States, we often fight against those who attack us or who live in opposition to the standards found in the Bible.  Imagine your church if certain “types” came in to worship.  Would we struggle to accept them, or would they be asked to leave?  One important thing to see in this passage is the command to us, the followers of Jesus, to live honorable among unbelievers so that even though they lie about us, they will see our good works and eventually glorify God.  Maybe a way to see this in our lives is for us to live in a way that when they need someone to pray for them, they come to you.  The church doesn’t need to be defined by what we are against but by what identifies us as a follower of Jesus.  As Peter shared these words, don’t you think he rejoiced in the fact that while he once fought to be the greatest among the disciples and even corrected Jesus at times, he was now encouraging struggling saints to show their love for God by acts of kindness and concern for others rather than loud boasts that often were empty words. 

The second thing that Peter told these precious suffering saints dealt with the tough issue of how to respond to the very leaders who lead the persecution against them.  Peter, the man who drew a sword to fight against the ones arresting Jesus, tells the “sheep” to be submissive to those with authority.   By this act, Peter explains that they will put to silence the lies that bring acts of violence upon them.  Remember, most likely the Roman Emperor at this time was Nero, a horrible leader who is thought to have wanted new buildings to be his monument, that he set fire to existing buildings and almost destroyed Rome by the fire.  As the resentful Romans turned against him, Nero lied and blamed the Christians of the Roman Empire as the culprits behind the destructive blaze.  As a result, Nero imprisoned and slaughtered Christians to appease the Romans.  Throughout the Empire, Christians faced persecution because of a horrible and evil leader’s lies.  In addition, many in the Roman Empire were slaves.  Often a person would become a slave to survive, placing himself under a master.  Some would serve for a limited time, and some would serve for a lifetime.  Some had kind masters, but with the persecution of Christians the “politically correct” and socially accepted conduct in the Roman Empire, the mistreatment of slaves became commonplace.  Peter called them to an extraordinary conduct when mistreated- be gracious and patiently endure that unfair and unjust mistreatment.  Just like Jesus did for you.  By doing this, God is pleased and honored.  Peter tells the saints, “this is what you were called to do!”  As Peter wrote these words, He was imprisoned and would be crucified.  He saw himself unworthy to be crucified as Jesus was, so he intentionally asked for a more painful crucifixion, one in which he was placed upside down on the cross. 

So, what do we learn?  Three things live for God; submit to all human authorities and follow Christ’s example.  How do we apply this?  Make sure that people know how much we love God by how much we demonstrate that we love them.  Teresa and I talked to our children and grandchildren about this very thing.  We are so blessed and so are our kids.  They can give their kids so many material things.  So, Teresa and I asked if we could give a gift to Samaritan Purse in their name.  We have them pick out special things to provide and we spend the money on a gift on behalf of our grandkids.  One of my grandsons, Nate, was so excited that he was going to give a family 12 chicks.  I think there is another way that involves our leaders.  I have a political viewpoint that I strongly hold.  Often this view places me in opposition with some leaders.  As an American, I can express my opposition by voting and through speech.  As a Christian, which is more important, I can express my obedience to God’s commands through Peter by praying for my leaders and by living according to laws.  There may come a time when I am persecuted for being a Christian.  I pray I follow my Savior’s example.  But for today I can follow my Savior’s example by loving other Christians, by showing respect to all, by fearing (respecting) God, and by honoring our leaders.  These are my duties and God is my strength to do them.  (Based on I Peter 2:11-25)