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“Judging Others” – Matthew 7:1-6

Judge-mean-old-man

What drives more people from church than anything else?  Well, my own experience tells me it’s judgmentalism.  I’m sad to say, I’ve seen quite a few people leave the church because they were criticized by others or feared being criticized after something happened for which they felt they would be judged.  I’m not picking on any one particular church.  And, really, I’m not picking on just the church.  Humanity, in its brokenness, seems to beset with a critical spirit.

Often, it is our way of feeling better about ourselves.  John Stott said, “We have a fatal tendency to exaggerate the faults of others and minimize the gravity of our own.  We have a rosy view of ourselves and a jaundiced view of others.”  Isn’t it true that we are quick to find fault in everyone else except ourselves?  None of this is what Jesus wants from His disciples.  Christians need a discerning, not a critical spirit.  A discerning, not critical, spirit is what will preserve unity within the body of Christ, without sacrificing the integrity of the Christian faith.  This week, as we continue our journey through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us three instructions for cultivating a healthy spirit within the church.  They’re sure to fuel church growth, if not in numbers, certainly in depth.

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Hark the Herald Angels NEVER Sang at Christmas

shepherds and angels

“ And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:10–14)

Who doesn’t love the great Christmas carol, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing?”  There’s only one slight problem.  The angels never did sing!  The Bible never says the angels sang when Jesus came.  The angels came to the shepherds and spoke, but never sang.  It’s not that angels can’t sing.  They just didn’t.  The Bible tells us of angels singing only two times, and one of them wasn’t at Christ’s coming.

So when did angels sing?  Job 38:7 tells us that the angels first sang at God’s great and glorious act of creation.  The angels all “sang together” as “God laid the foundations of the earth.”  God created everything, including man and woman, and it was all just as God intended them.  God created them to glorify Himself and the angels sang at the sight of it all.  Everything was perfect.

But then, the man and woman deliberately turned away from God, and He responded by cursing the entire creation, including the human race.  The world, those in it, and their fellowship with God were broken.  There was nothing to sing about.  Mankind could not save the earth, their own brokenness or their relationship with God.  God’s perfect creation was now under His curse.

Revelation 5:8-10 is the second mention of angels singing.  Four angels and twenty-four elders fall before Jesus and sing, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.”  The angels are again singing!  They are singing because Jesus has removed the curse, and a new heaven and new earth are about to come down and God will once again dwell with His people.  The effects of sin: the brokenness of the world, of mankind and his relationship with God, and even sin itself, are all in the past.  God’s great and glorious creation is once again as He intended it.  God is glorified in it all and once again the angels can sing.

While the angels wait for Christ’s return to once again sing, you and I can’t help but sing.  Jesus has made a way, for all who believe, to attend that final concert of the angels.  Jesus was born to die and was raised to offer you a seat at God’s great and glorious recreation of heaven and earth.  By faith in Jesus, you are now a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), being made ready for that day of rejoicing.  Joy to the World, and to you and to me, the Lord is come!

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as, the curse is found.

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“Treasure Trove” – Matthew 6:19-24

treasure heart in heaven

 

How big a reserve fund does out church need?  How much do you need to have socked away for education, the unexpected or retirement?  These are not easy questions but how you answer may reveal a lot about your investment philosophy.

Jesus has an investment strategy for His disciples and we’re going to hear about it this Sunday.  I know you hear this all the time, but He has an investment strategy that’s unflappable.  It’s recession proof, inflation proof and secure.  It provides the greatest return and does it with zero risk.  Are you curious?  It’s a strategy, once you’re in, that Jesus says you will love and be devoted to.  Find out the details this Sunday at 10:30,as we journey through the The Sermon on the Mount and worship our Lord together in the body of Christ.

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“What are you Thinking?” – Matthew 5:17-20

thinking mind

So, what’s on your mind?  What’s going on in there?  Do you have an active imagination?  Jesus wants to talk to you about all that on Sunday, as we continue to travel through His Sermon on the Mount.

Last week we learned that your words are an indicator of your spiritual condition.  But this week, Jesus teaches that even your thought life is an indication of your spriritual condition.  It’s more than a little scary to know that God holds you accountable for your thought life and your imagination.  But there’s hope in Jesus Himself.  He can deliever you and fill your thoughts with a love that exceeds whatever else you are lusting for.  The whole Sermon on the Mount points you back to Him.

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“What Are You Saying?” – Matthew 5:21-26

Reconciled

Jesus told us, last week, that our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if we’re to enter the kingdom of heaven.  What Jesus is referring to is not a super-righteousness of our own, but a heart-born, Spirit empowered righteousness that grows in us once we’re united with Him by faith.

This week, Jesus beings to show us, very practically, what that righteousness looks like with six interpretations of Old Testament commandments.  Jesus is not changing the commandments, merely demonstrating their intent.  He begins with the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder,” and explains that murder is far more comprehensive than physically killing another.  The words you use can kill with great precision.  In fact, your words are an indicator of your spiritual condition, which is one of the points Jesus is making this week.  He illustrates that with the sin of anger.  Oh yes, anger is a sin.  And Jesus reveals the character of your anger and your words gone amok and then proposes a cure and hope for progress.

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“Salt and Light” – Matthew 5:13-16

salt and light

We continue our second week in a new series on the greatest sermon ever, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Last week, in the Beatitudes, we discovered that those who are already following Jesus will demonstrate the character of Christ.  The Beatitides are the heart-attitude of those belonging to the kingdom of heaven.

This week, Jesus begins to reveal the outworking of that heart-attitude in the everyday life of the Christian.  He makes one of the most encouraging statements of the entire sermon in this Sunday’s passage.  As with the Beatitudes, it is a statement of who God has made His people to be and describes how He will use them in the world in which they now live.  Through them, God’s glory will be made known to the world.  The Christian’s confidence rests not in him or herself, but in their Father in heaven.  That is a great encouragement as we wade deeper into the ethics of this great sermon of Jesus.

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“Best Sermon Ever” – Matthew 5:1-12

beatitudes

This Sunday, we begin a new series through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, beginning with what’s known as the Beatitudes.  The Beatitudes are not a list of requirements for entering the kingdom of heaven, rather they represent the heart-attitude of those belonging to it.  Christ’s followers will exhibit some measure of all eight qualities listed in these Beatitudes.  How do you react to these eight heart-attitudes listed in Matthew 5:1-12?  Do you look at them and say, “Impossible; I can never be like this,” or do you look at them and say, “I long to be like this!”  How you respond will reveal what you know about Christ.  Come and see how it is that your heart can be melted and transformed to be like these Beatitudes.

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