“Advancing Perfection” – Matthew 5:31-37

Perfection Sign

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sermon on the Mount Series

“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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“Fulfilled” – Matthew 5:17-20

cross of reconciliation

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sermon on the Mount Series

“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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Are You Hungry and Thirsty?

heart of worship

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

The biggest problem most non-believers have with Christianity, so they say, is Christians!  They claim that Christians are “hypocrites” and “self-righteous,” so who wants to be part of that?  Could it be true and what do they mean?

In a way, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which we just began a journey through on Sundays, addresses the hypocrisy and self-righteousness issues.  The Sermon on the Mount is not a prescription for your best life now, nor is it a list of qualifications for entering the kingdom of heaven.   It is a sermon specifically for those who are already Christians, those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.  God loved and rescued us just as we were, but because He loves us so much He won’t leave us as we are.  Those belonging to the Kingdom of Heaven will have hearts melted and transformed by the Gospel of grace and they will have a new desire to follow the commands of the Sermon on the Mount.  They will serve as evidence that the kingdom of heaven is now here and, at the same time, not yet fully realized.

Christians don’t just profess faith in Jesus to acquire eternal life.  They also repent of their old rebellious ways and turn towards God’s ways for their lives.  Repentance isn’t something we do after we’ve been a Christian for a while.  We have faith and repent at the same time, and continue to strive to repent toward righteousness.   As the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts, we begin to hunger and thirst, more and more, for righteousness.  It’s something Christians increasingly desire to do upon following Christ.  As hard as the Sermon on the Mount is to obey, a heart transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t get discouraged and say, “What’s the use?!”  No, a heart transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ says, “I want to live like that!”

So while Christians may seem like hypocrites, a genuine Christian is not.  Not because she is perfect, but because she knows that she is not, as much as she hungers and thirsts to be.  We are a constant work, of the Holy Spirit, in process.  We seek to be as righteous as Christ and yet fail all the time.  And so we repent and we try again, getting a little bit closer to the standard set by the Sermon on the Mount and what we will one day be, on the day when the kingdom of heaven is fully realized.  Jesus said to His disciples, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)  My own righteousness will never, in this world, be on par with that required for entrance into the kingdom of heaven, but thanks be to God that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4).  Remember that the next time someone objects to Christianity because of Christians.

Leave a comment

Filed under Passages

“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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“Jesus Matters” – Exodus 20:17-21

Command 10

This Sunday, our journey through the Ten Commandments comes to an end as we arrive at commandment ten.  We’ve learned, as we’ve gone through the previous nine commandments, that they are not as easy to keep as you might think.  In fact, I suspect that most everyone has broken a number of them, myself included.  But, if for some reason, you think you’re unscathed thus far, commandment ten should disabuse you of that thought.  The great reformer, Martin Luther, said the tenth commandment is for those who “wish to be commended as honest and virtuous because they have not offended against the preceding commandments.”

But let’s not forget that God gave the Ten Commandments not only to show us our inability to keep them, but to lead us to the One who kept them on our behalf.  The Ten Commandments show you why Jesus matters and how satisfaction in Him will yield contentment with life.  That’s especially important, in our day, as we consider this last command.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“Truth Matters” – Exodus 20:16

Command 9

This Sunday, in our journey through the Ten Commandments, we’ll arrive at commandment nine, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  In a general sense, this command is a prohibition against lying, especially as it relates to your neighbor.  In fact, the word used for “false” is the same word as “liar.”

But like many of the previous commands, you will benefit a great deal more if you consider the flip side of the command.  Yes, “You shall not steal,” but how might you positively state the command in order to please God?  If the opposoite of false, or lie, is “truth,” then God is effectively saying that His people will hold fast to the truth.  In fact, Jesus and the Apostle Paul interpret the ninth command in just that way.  Ravi Zacharias said, “The most important question anyone can ask is, “What is truth?”  How you answer that question will change your life forever.  Truth matters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ten Commandments

“Property Matters” – Exodus 20:15

Command 8

This Sunday, in our journey through the Ten Commandments, we’ll arrive at commandment eight, “You shall not steal.”  Most of the commandments we’ve looked at so far, have negative (“You shall not”) and positive connotations.  It’s easy to get so focused on what God does NOT want us to do, that we totally miss what it is God would like us to do.  Sure enough, God doesn’t want you to steal, but what would He prefer you do instead?  And why?

Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul had a great deal to say about the eighth commandment, and have answered those “what” and “why” questions for us.  We’ll take a look at those answers, on Sunday, and learn how it is that “You shall not steal,” can transform your view of life in this world and the next.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ten Commandments