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Monday, November 30, 2015

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness' Sake (Matt. 5:10-12)

Outline: Matthew 5:10-12
  1. What is the meaning of persecution?
  2. What is the cause of persecution?
  3. What is the proper response to persecution?
  4. Application
Summary: Persecution is last on the list of Beatitudes not because it is least important but because it is the culmination of Christian character.  When Christian's embody the Beatitudes, they become more like Christ and Christ-like character makes one a prime candidate for persecution.  The more we become like Jesus in our character, the more we get treated like Jesus by those around us.  How then should one respond when persecution does come?  Jesus' answer is jarring: "Rejoice and be glad!" Joy is the proper response to persecution.

Discussion Questions:
  • In what sense is this beatitude the culmination of the all the previous beatitudes?
  • What is the meaning of persecution? What examples come to mind?
  • What is the cause of persecution? 
  • What is the proper response to persecution? What reasons does Jesus give for such a response?
  • Why is one blessed for being persecuted?
  • When discipling someone, what would be important to teach them about persecution?
Application Questions:
  • Reflect: What is the most severe persecution you've experienced?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (one being no persecution, 10 being extreme persecution), what level of persecution are you currently experiencing? 
  • READ 2 Tim. 3:12.  By implication, what might the absence of persecution in your life say about your character?
  • How should we process our character failures in light of the gospel?  How does the gospel motivate us to live more fully for Christ?
Prayer Points:
  • Confess to God any deficiencies in your character and any avoidance of persecution.
  • Praise Jesus for His perfect character and His willingness to die for imperfect people like us
  • Ask God to help you grow in the character qualities commended in the Beatitudes. 
  • Ask God for boldness and strength to not avoid persecution and to live more fully for Christ.
  • Ask God to help you respond with joy to the persecution in your life. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Blessed Are The Peacemakers (Matt. 5:9)

                                                                                              Visit to listen to this sermon. 
Outline: Matthew 5:9
  1. Heart of a Peacemaker
  2. Life of a Peacemaker
  3. Blessing of the Peacemaker
Summary: The very essence of peace is defined in the relationship between the persons of the Godhead.  We examined the heart and the life of a peacemaker. To have the heart of a peacemaker is to be at peace with God by being found in the True Peacemaker, Jesus Christ. When our heart is at peace with God, we will inevitably be at war with sin. By battling the sin in our hearts, we will experience more of the peace of God.  Next, we observed the life of a peacemaker. We meditated on how we are to handle conflict biblically within the church (Matt. 5:21-26; 7:1-6; 18:15-20). Our ultimate goal in pursuing peacemaking among unbelievers is to point them to the true Peacemaker, Jesus Christ. Finally, the blessing for a peacemaker is inclusion into the family of God. As adopted sons and daughters, we now are given the Spirit of the Peacemaker and transformed more into the likeness of our elder Brother and Father.

Discussion Questions
  •     Describe the theme of peace throughout the Bible (Genesis through Revelation)?
  •     Meditate on the “Divine Conflict.” How does one gain peace with God?
  •      When we are at peace with God, how does our attitude toward sin change? How does this attitude towards sin impact our experience of God’s peace? (cf. Phil 4:6-9)
  •      Why is Jesus passionate about the peace and unity among believers? (cf. John 17:20-21)
  •       How does we know whether we should overlook an offense or address it?
  •      Step-by-step, walk through Matthew 18:15-20? (Bonus: include context passages)
  •     What is the primary purpose in pursuing peace among unbelievers?
  •       Meditate on Adoption. Contrast the life of an orphan before and after adoption. Relate that picture to how God has folded us into His family.

Application Questions
  •      Do you have peace with God? If not, what needs to be done in order to restore peace with your Maker?
  •      How are you experiencing the peace of God in your life? In what ways are you currently battling against the sin in your heart?
  •      Think of a current relationship in your life that you could apply a biblical peacemaking strategy to?

Prayer Points
  •      Praise Jesus, the True Peacemaker, who has come down and has made peace between God and man.
  •      Confess any sin in your heart that is hindering you from experiencing the peace of God.
  •    Confess any ways in your life that you have not intentionally pursued peace with those around you.
  •      Ask God to fill you with the Spirit of the Peacemaker so that you may live a life of peacemaking.
  •     Praise God for the blessing of adoption and for the gift of the Spirit that transforms us more and more into the image of the True Peacemaker Jesus Christ.
Written by Caleb Janson

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart (Matt. 5:8)

Outline: Matthew 5:8
  1. The Pure in Heart
  2. The Promise of Seeing God
Summary: Jesus guides us on the narrow and hard path of righteousness that leads right into the Father's heart.  When the children of God embody the character qualities commended in the Beatitudes, they experience showers of blessing along the way and oceans of blessing when they reach their destination.  From the beatitude currently under study, we learn that such blessing comes to the pure in heart, those who have been washed clean through faith in Christ and now work hard in Christ's strength to stay clean.   

Discussion Questions:
  • In what ways do you feel the God-ordained tension of living in the already and not yet?
  • What is the heart and how does it relate to behavior (cf. Mark 7:21-23; Lk. 6:45; Prov. 4:23)?
  • According to a Christ-centered reading of Psalm 24, how do we get pure hearts? 
  • Ponder this: There is a river of gospel grace that mirrors the narrow path at every turn.
  • How should Christians seek to maintain their purity (1 Jn. 1:9; 2 Tim. 2:20-22)?  
  • Exercise: Apply these principles of purification to heart issues such as gossip, lust, greed, etc.  
  • What is the relationship between pursuing purity of heart and seeing God (1 Jn. 3:2-3)?
Application Questions:
  • What areas of impurity do you see in your life?
  • Take time to deal with these impurities by...
    • Understanding what impure thoughts, emotions, and desires they come out of and what wholesome thoughts, emotions, and desires should replace them.
    • Confessing and washing them in the river of gospel grace (1 Jn. 1:9; 2 Tim. 2:20-21)
    • Making a plan as to how you can flee from them in the future (2 Tim. 2:22)
    • Making a plan as to how you can pursue purity of heart (2 Tim. 2:22)
Prayer Points:
  • Confess to God any impurity you see in your life.
  • Thank God for sending His Son to shed His blood so that those impurities can be washed away.
  • Praise Jesus, the Pure One who has made it possible to see God by washing us by His blood and by leading us in triumphant procession into the presence of His Father.
  • Ask God to help you work hard at fleeing impurity and pursuing purity of heart.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Blessed Are the Merciful (Matt. 5:7)

Outline: Matthew 5:7
  1. The Merciful Person
  2. The Promise of Mercy
Summary: Jesus again invites us to experience deep joy in the Father.  He does this by telling us about another character quality that attracts the Father's blessing and favor: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." Mercy is one of the most foundational acts of righteousness that the Father expects His Children to hunger and thirst after (5:6).  God's mercy toward us is meant to shape and energize our mercy toward others.  God is pleased when His children feel genuine concern and sympathy for others who are in need and find compassionate ways to help them.  And when God's children sow seeds of mercy in this life, their Father will make sure they reap a harvest of mercy in the life to come.  

Discussion Questions:
  • Why do merciful people attract the blessing and favor of God? (cf. Luke 6:35-36)
  • Does being a merciful person get you to heaven? Explain your answer  (cf. John 1:11-14).
  • Gospel: Think about the greatness of our need and the bigness of God's heart.  How has God shown His mercy to us as sinners? How should one respond to such mercy (cf. Matt. 18:9-14)?
  • Exercise: Pick a need of someone you know (physical, emotional, or spiritual).  Ask the old question: "what would Jesus do to meet that need?"
  • How will we be shown mercy in heaven? [Hint: Jesus, our High Priest, and His vial of blood].
Application Questions:
  • Exercise: take time to consider what physical, emotional, and spiritual needs two people in your life have.  Make a list of those needs.  Pray about how to show mercy.  Then act.
  • What physical, emotional, and spiritual needs to you currently have?  How might you share these burdens with others so that they can be channels of God's mercy to you?  
Prayer Points:
  • Confess to God your lack of mercy towards others.
  • Thank God for sending Jesus to incarnate His mercy in order to save you.
  • Praise God that His heart is so big with mercy and so willing to care for you and that your every need (physical, emotional, spiritual) will be met, either now or later.   
  • Pray that God would grant you the eyes and heart of Christ to see and meet the needs of others.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness (Matt. 5:6)

                                                                Visit to listen to this sermon.
Outline: Matthew 5:6
  1. The meaning of hungering and thirsting for righteousness
  2. The promise of being satisfied 
Summary: Jesus again invites us to experience deep joy in the Father by telling us about another character quality that attracts the Father's blessing and favor: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." Jesus draws our attention to the common experience of physical hunger and thirst in order to point us to the less common experience of spiritual hunger and thirst.  Spiritual hunger cannot be appeased by food nor can spiritual thirst be quenched by drink.  Rather, Jesus speaks of experiencing intense longings, strong spiritual cravings for righteousness, that is, for God's will to be obeyed and honored.  The blessed person is one who deeply desires the King's way to hold sway in their lives and in the lives of others.  Jesus promises that such a King-sized appetite will be eternally satisfied.  

Discussion Questions:
  • Review: Define "blessed." Beatitudes are invitations, invitations to what? 
  • What is implied in this beatitude that can be a source of freedom for the child of God?
  • What does Jesus mean by hunger and thirst?
    • What can we learn about spiritual hunger and thirst from our experience of physical hunger and thirst? Reflect on a time you've been exceptionally hungry or thirsty.
    • How strong are these cravings of spiritual hunger and thirst that Jesus is speaking of?
    • What does Jesus mean by "righteousness" (cf. 5:10, 20; 6:1; 6:33)?
    • How do acts of righteousness and imputed righteousness relate to one another?
  • What does it mean to be satisfied?
    • What is the relationship between desiring the King's righteousness and being satisfied?
    • What hinders us from being satisfied in Christ? [Hint: fruit snack analogy]
Application Questions:
  • On a scale of 1-10 (1 being never 10 being always) how often to you have these holy cravings?
    • What might this say about your current spiritual state?
    • In what ways do you tend to spoil your appetite for spiritual things?
  • What changes need to be made in your life in order to 1) help you avoid spoiling your appetite for spiritual things and 2) help you increase your desire for the things of God?

Prayer Points:
  • Confess to God ways you have filled yourself with worldly things, thus spoiling your appetite for spiritual things.
  • Thank God for sending us Jesus, Heavenly Bread and Living Water that can truly and eternally satisfy us.
  • Praise God for the promise of full and complete satisfaction that awaits us.
  • Pray that God would help you to avoid things that will spoil your appetite.
  • Pray that God would help you pursue things that will increase your appetite for righteousness.