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.
Most of us know the warning signs for a heart attack: pressure in the center of the chest, pain in the neck, jaw and arms, shortness of breath and lightheadedness. These warning signs get your attention and, if you show up at the emergency room with any of them, you’ll be seen by a doctor immediately. I wonder, how many of us know the warning signs of self-righteousness and people pleasing?
This week, Jesus is going to warn us about the consequences of righteous deeds conducted for the sake of being noticed by others. There are eternal consequences to this kind of people pleasing, according to Jesus. The practice of righteousness and spiritual disciplines is encouraged by Jesus, provided one’s motives are right. As we’ll see Sunday, Christ-centeredness is the motivation for genuine righteousness. Anything less than that falls short of pleasing our Father in heaven.
The Sermon on the Mount is, without question, the best sermon ever. And it is, without question, the most quoted sermon ever. Everyone, from Gandhi to President Obama, has quoted the Sermon on the Mount. This week, we come to one of the most quoted sayings of Jesus about turning the other cheek. You’ve no doubt used the expression yourself, but do you really know what it means? Where does one even find the self-control to turn the other check when attacked and insulted by another? It is only out of love that we are able to do this.
Jesus calls His disciples to an outrageous standard of love, as made apparent in this week’s passage. Christians are called to “love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them.” As familiar as we are with those admonitions, I wonder how many of us are willing to respond, in such away, to those who try and take us down and those who try and bring harm to us because of our faith. That sort of response is not the way we humans are normally wired. We are wired to fight back or flee, rather than to respond with the kind of love Jesus commands. So how is it remotely possible to love like Jesus requires of His disciples? It is only because of God’s outrageous love that Christ’s disciples love others outrageously.
You’ve probably heard someone say, “If you’re looking for the perfect church, don’t join or you’ll ruin it!” That’s both funny and true. There is no such thing as the perfect church, at least not this side of glory. Yet Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, is encouraging those in the kingdom of heaven (His disciples) to strive for perfect obedience. He exhorts them, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That’s easy for Jesus to say, because He is perfect and without sin. But you and I are not.
Don’t let that discourage you. Because of their identity in Christ, His disciples are advancing in perfection in the kingdom of heaven. They are advancing in faithulness and advancing in their faith in Jesus. So, altough this week’s passage might discourage you, because of past or current sins or because of past or current hurts, please come and find hope in Jesus. Don’t move backward but move forward with hope and healing. God is greater than whatever you face.
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.
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.
Is Christianity a “religion?” How would you answer? I think most American Christians would say it is not. A popular YouTube video, with over 30 million views, is titled, “Why I hate religion but love Jesus.” That certainly fits the sentiment of most believers. As good as it may sound, is that true? Can you hate religion and still love Jesus? It seems that’s not an option, according to Jesus’ own words, as we’ll see this week in our continuing journey through His Sermon on the Mount. Christianity is an inside-out religion, founded by Jesus and followed by His disciples. Christianity is about more than religion, but certainly not less.
So join us this Sunday at 10:30 AM, as we journey through the The Sermon on the Mount and worship our Lord together in the body of Christ.