Sermon on the Mount – Devo #17 “YES/NO”

Focus verse: Matt. 5:34, 37 “… do not swear at all … let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’.”

Does placing a hand on the Bible and swearing “to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” prevent dishonesty or make what we say more true?  How ironic that our judicial system has people swear by the very book that says not to swear.  Truth doesn’t need any help and a lie cannot stand regardless how hard one tries to prop it up.  Jesus said not to swear at all.

Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’.  After we speak, our integrity is put to the test.  People will figure out if you are just talking the talk and not walking the walk.  On our wedding day, my wife and I said a “yes” that carries a lifetime responsibility.  Our actions will reveal if we are reliable.

Here’s a story that Jesus told in Matthew 21:28-31: “But what do you think?  A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’  He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went.  Then he came to the second and said likewise.  And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go.  Which of the two did the will of his father?”  This story exposes the hypocrisy of saying the right things but not doing them.

We should be slow to speak.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37: “… for every idle word that men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.”

In stark contrast to the rashness of Israel’s first king Saul, Samuel, the last judge of Israel, was a good example of someone who didn’t waste words.  1 Samuel 3:19 says: Samuel … let none of his words fall to the ground.”  No word he spoke went unfulfilled.  Could that be said of us?

Discussion question:

  • If we asked your children or peers if you mean what you say, how would they answer?   Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:38-42

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #14 “Change My Heart God”

Focus verse: Matt. 5:21-22a “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”

 

In these verses Jesus is alluding to the sixth commandment God handed down to Moses for the Israelites.  The commandment “thou shall not murder” (Ex.20:13) did, indeed, provide a hedge of protection for the people.  But contrary to the Pharisees’ interpretation, God intended this law to apply also to the sinful intent of the heart.  “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt.12:34).  In correcting the Pharisees’ misunderstanding, Jesus refers to anger toward a brother which is rash, quick, and without cause. The word for ‘brother’ in the passage pertains to any fellow man or child.

As Christians, many of us have encountered a boss or co-worker who flies off the handle over unintended mistakes made at work.  Often times, people begin to dread the wrath of such an individual who succumbs to anger with no just cause.  Everybody knows somebody like this.  But, do we ourselves act in the same manner?  Perhaps the children are playing too loud or have left their toys out.  Suddenly, out of character and angry, we fly off the handle.  Or perhaps our anger flares when our wife or husband has had to stay late at work.  Just kids being kids or the circumstances of life can bring on the rash anger in us that Jesus says is without cause.  Jesus is infinitely concerned with the purity of His people.  He wants their hearts to be full of love and His Spirit, so that their first reaction in every situation is one that reflects His character.  If you are in the practice of letting all the little things give rise to your anger, then let Jesus have His reign.  Do not be that person that people, your children or your wife dread in fear of your anger.  Because just as murder has consequences that harm, so does anger that is unjust and without cause; and for Christ there is no difference.

Discussion question:

  • Have you been guilty of succumbing to rash anger? How? Is it habitual?

Next Week’s Scripture:  Matthew 5:27-30

Putting Feet to the Faith

Missionaries in Ensenada, Mexico

Missionaries in Ensenada, Mexico

The other day I was watching one of the ladies bible studies online from MSC (which by the way is a huge blessing to be able to do that), and something was said that really jumped out at me.

  “Our mission field is wherever Christ sends us; it is whoever God puts in front of you.”

I thought about how that applies to me since I actually have the job description as a missionary.  The first place I went to, actually, was the past, when we still lived in Bonners Ferry.  I thought about the missed opportunities to be salt and light where I was.  Continue reading

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #13 “The Source of True Righteousness”

Focus verse: Matt. 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

How many times in our lives have we encountered a situation that demands the utmost attention, focus and energy; for example, when we lose our car keys or when the cell phone we just had in our hand goes missing.  We search for those items with extreme due diligence and continue until the item has been discovered.  No stone is left unturned.  All steps are retraced and we use one cell phone to locate another.  Such is the process we use to complete the task at hand.

When we are reviewing a legal document we assure that every small detail is satisfied; that every “i” is doted and every “t” is crossed so that the document can be completed.  We use a Notary to verify that the person signing the document is who they say they are.  The Notary’s stamped seal deems the binding signature on the document to be authentic and true.

So too, in our passage Jesus declares that He came to fulfill the moral Law, completely satisfying its every detail.  Additionally, His coming fulfilled the testimony of the Prophets, verifying that it was of Him who they prophesied.  Jesus fulfilled both the Law and the Prophets by His life, death, burial and resurrection.  Therefore, His testimony about Himself is deemed authentic and true.  His reference to ‘jot’ and ‘tittle’ reminds us that every bit of God’s word is absolutely true and absolutely trustworthy.

Only Jesus could ultimately fulfill Scripture, for He was fully God and fully man.  He was sinless perfection and pure in righteousness, without spot or blame.  The Pharisees, who Jesus referred to in Matt. 5:20, exhibited a form of righteousness that was works based and therefore inadequate for salvation.  To be saved, our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees.  That can only happen when we believe in the One who fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, Jesus Christ.  It is then that His pure righteousness is placed on our account (Rom. 3:21-22; 2 Cor. 5:21).

Discussion question:

  • Whose righteousness do you walk in? Are you walking by faith in the righteousness of Christ or by sight in your own understanding and power.
  • (Prov. 3:5-6)Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:21-26

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #12 “Let Your Light Shine”

Focus verses: Matt. 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Have you ever been in total darkness?  So dark that you cannot see any light or even a reflection of light?  Where you can’t see what is ahead or what is behind you?  Now imagine that you turn on a light.  What happens?  The area around you lights up and everything is made known.  In like manner, Jesus states in our text that His disciples are the light of the world, lighting up an otherwise dark world.

When Joseph and Mary brought the infant Jesus, their firstborn, to the temple to be presented to God, Simeon declared Jesus to be the promised Messiah; “a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:32).  We were all once unbelievers, following the ways of the world.  But once we saw the light of Jesus and accepted Him into our hearts and were saved, God manifested His light in and through us that we may be a light to those around us.

We are to faithfully let Christ’s light shine into the dark world; that others would see our good works and thus see and accept Jesus as well.  Just as one doesn’t thank a painting for what it is, but the painter for what he has done, we too must thank God for what He has done in and for us (Matthew 5:16b) and give all glory to Him, the everlasting God.  We are God’s painting and He is always working on us, making us into the person, the masterpiece that He wants us to be. We cannot take credit for what He is doing in us. We must give Him the glory for any light that comes from us. Are you letting your light shine?

Discussion question:

  • Am I living a life to let my own light shine, or am I living a life to let God’s light shine in and through me?
  • Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:17-20

Finding Community

One of the songs on the current playlist that we’ve introduced once so far, and will be doing more in the coming New Year is called, “God You Are My God.”

I wanted to share this video testimony about the impact that this song has had on a worship band called Desperation Band. The video is also a testimony of the importance of finding community in the body of Christ and spurring one another along to steward our gifts and talents for the glory of God. We are to stir one another up to love and good works as the writer of Hebrews tells us (Hebrews 10:24).

We are singing one of the Desperation Bands original songs called, “My God,” as a part of the current playlist.

In case you missed it, here is a link back to the original post on the current playlist of songs we are doing for the Astonished sermon series.

God You Are My God

By Jason Ingram | Paul Mabury | Rory Noland

Verse 1

No praise can define You

No thought can contain You God

No other one is holy

No other one is robed in righteousness

 

Chorus 1

God You are my God

Glorious glorious

 

Verse 2

No light can outshine You

No power can defeat You God

No other one is holy

No other one is high and lifted up

 

Chorus 2

God You are my God

Glorious glorious

God You are my God

Victorious victorious

 

Bridge

From the dawn of time You reign

To the end of days

You’re the God who saves (sing)

All the earth will shout Your praise

You will never change

You’re the God who saves (sing)

Here is the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS1u2MO8xz4

Jeremy Ellis

Worship Director, Mountain Springs Church

 

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #11 – Cleaning the Wound

Focus verse: Matt. 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

Salt is an interesting mineral.  Not only does it season our food, but it preserves it as well.  However, possibly the most interesting aspect and use of salt is its ability to clean and disinfect.  During wars throughout history, doctors and medics would utilize salt to disinfect and clean wounds that had been inflicted, thus preventing infection and disease from spreading and killing the injured soldier.  There are many minerals in the world; however, if you were to rub dirt or rocks in a wound it would not cleanse but rather expedite the infection process leading to eventual death.  Jesus is not in the business of death, but life; not infection, but disinfection.

We are all part of His business plan, as witnesses of the grace bestowed upon us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We are commanded to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).  In other words, we are to go disinfect the world, preserve and flavor it and teach others to do likewise.

In this verse Jesus drives home for us the plan and purpose He has for our lives.  We are either fulfilling His plan or we are not.  There is no middle ground in this ultimatum.  You don’t cover a lamp; a city on a hill cannot be hidden.  If we are to make a difference for the kingdom of God in this world and do not, then what good are we?  We are “good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men”.

Jesus wants to use us.  We can help disinfect this world by telling lost souls about the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We can help preserve the spirit, body and soul of other believers by coming along side of them in their time of need.  Be what you were created to be.  Clean the wound, cleanse the world, flavor and preserve; be the salt of the earth!

Justin Gibbons

Discussion question:

  • How are you being salt in this world and teaching others to do likewise?
  • Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:14-16

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #10 “From My Sake To His Sake”

Focus verses: Matt. 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven…”

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “blessed” as “enjoying spiritual happiness and the favor of God”; “divine joy and perfect happiness.” More than an emotion based on outward circumstances, “blessed” is the condition of those who fear the Lord and seek to do His will in their lives.  Only God can put a person in such a place, despite any adversity they are facing.

Early in my career, a few guys labeled me as a “climber.” I was the subject of locker room derision by a few more seasoned veterans. I walked into a room one day as my actions were being recounted (with little resemblance to the truth) and I expressed my displeasure in a less than Christ-like manner to the tale-bearers.

Words like “blessed,” “spiritual happiness,” and “favor of God” do not describe my feelings at the time, but then I wasn’t being reviled for His sake but because of my own actions.

Fast forward several years; now an outspoken follower of Jesus Christ, I was faced with much different reviling from coworkers. Now the comments were the result of the radical transformation taking place in my life.  This time my reactions were not anger, bitterness, retaliation, or hatred.  Instead, I was acutely aware that this lightweight “persecution” I experienced was for His sake and I found joy in that.

Jesus said; “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”  John 15:18-20 

Scott Thompson

Discussion question:

  • When you’re feeling persecuted or misunderstood, is it for His sake or because you’re inviting it by your own actions? If it’s for His sake, rest in the knowledge that you’re walking in His footsteps!

Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:13

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #9 “Bring It On”

Focus verse: Matt. 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

On the surface, our passage seems contrary to logic and hard to understand. We are blessed when we are persecuted for our faith?  But understanding is important, because persecution of Christians is on the rise in the U.S.  Persecution involves opposition, trials and hatred.  It can be manifested verbally, physically, culturally and spiritually!  But when we are persecuted, we can be encouraged by Jesus’ words in John 15:20; “…. ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you”.  The prophets of old, the 12 disciples and the early church were all persecuted…even to the death!

So, how can we possibly be blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness sake … for doing good? The answer to that question comes when we remember that the journey of discipleship is about developing the character of Christ!  It’s about being transformed into the image of Jesus and about the inward man/woman being renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16-18).  When we are in the thick of persecution, we have the opportunity to draw closer to Jesus!  In these times, as we allow God’s Spirit to have His way with us, we experience a closer relationship with Jesus than before!   We are truly comforted by the Spirit of God (2 Cor 1:3-7).

Persecution serves to make our faith deeper, more sincere and genuine (1 Pet 1:6-9).  Imagine if you were told that you could no longer publicly profess your faith in Jesus Christ, nor assemble together with other Christians.  This could happen to us, as it has to many others in the world.  How God would work in you to focus and sharpen your faith!  How suddenly you would become more kingdom focused and less earthly focused!

The nature and severity of the believer’s persecution in this life can be very great. But current sufferings “are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom 8:18).  An eternity in heaven with Jesus awaits us. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:12).

Ricky Cruz

Discussion question:

  • Have you ever experienced persecution as a Christian? How did you react?

Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:11-12

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #8 “Peacemakers”

Focus verse: Matt. 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word Peacemaker?

The first thing that comes to my mind is a Colt .45. Throughout history the Colt .45 has been referred to as a “Peacemaker”.  Some historical trivia:

  • General Patton carried an ivory handled Colt peacemaker which he used in the Mexican Punitive Expedition of 1916 as well as carrying one during the Second World War.
  • Famed British adventurer and soldier T.E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”) had a special fondness for this weapon, because it saved his life during one of his pre-World War I trips to Mesopotamia He was jumped by an Arab bandit who stole the gun and tried to kill Lawrence, but Lawrence’s assailant couldn’t because he did not understand the revolver mechanism. Lawrence thereafter always carried one of these weapons for good luck.

It seems odd that a tool designed to kill would be an instrument of peace. The Colt .45 was called a peacemaker because it was the weapon of choice for early lawmen who used it to enforce the law and thereby keep the peace.  Sometimes death is required for peacekeeping.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is our peace offering. He fulfilled the Law, bringing peace between Jew and Gentile and between us and God, through the New Covenant in His Blood;

Ephesians 2:15-16 “having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances …. thus making peace …. that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross …”

We are called to be peacemakers and living sacrifices. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Romans 12:1)

In Matthew 5:44-45 Jesus commands us to love our enemies. One of the most effective ways to be a peacemaker is to love our enemies by sharing the Gospel of Christ with them.  Since we were once enemies of God, prior to being reconciled to Him by Jesus Christ, we can identify with those who are still separated from God by sin.  We have been given the calling and privilege of helping them become reconciled to God by bringing the Gospel to them.

Don Kramer

Discussion question:

  • What are you doing to be equipped to reconcile others to God?Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:10