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Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Horror of Self-Deception (Matt. 7:21-23)

Outline: Matthew 7:21-23
  1. The reality of self-deception
  2. The nature of self-deception
  3. The horror of self-deception 
  4. The remedy to self-deception
Summary: A pilgrim must not only beware of being deceived by others (Matt. 7:15-20), but must also beware of deceiving himself (vv.21-23).  Jesus tells us plainly that on judgment day many, many people will face the sad reality that they have deceived themselves into thinking that they had a relationship with Jesus when in fact no such relationship ever existed.  Many actively disobey God's will yet still expect to receive His mercy while others boast in their own works only to hear the words "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."  

Main Point: On judgment day, many who claim to know Jesus will be justly cast into hell by Jesus.

Discussion Questions:
  • What is one assuming by addressing Jesus with the words “Lord, Lord”?
  • What clues from the text tell us how widespread self-deception will be on judgment day? 
  • Paraphrase Jesus' words: "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."
  • Why do you think Jesus wants us to know the reality, nature, and horror of self-deception? 
  • Why would Jesus refer to people who do "good" things (v.2) as "workers of lawlessness"?
  • What is the remedy to self-deception?
Application Questions:
  • How sure am I that I'm not self-deceived?  What is my confidence based on? 
  • Are their people in my life that may be self-deceived?  How might God be calling me to reach out to them?
  • Am I truly doing the will of the Father? Explain.
  • What will my claim be before Jesus "on that day"? 
Prayer Points:
  • Confess any presumption or pride or lack of concern for the eternal well being of others
  • Thank Jesus for this sober, yet loving and caring warning 
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to to help you focus on doing God's will in God's power

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The "Fruit Test"

The “Fruit Test”

1. The health of their doctrine:
  • Does the teaching sound strange? 
  • Does the teaching focus primarily on Jesus, who he is and what he’s done?
  • Does the teaching neglect the need for repentance?
  • Do they tell others that the gate to heaven is wider than Jesus and the apostles do?
  • Do they tell others that the road to heaven is easer than Jesus and the apostles do?
  • Do their teachings contradict clear teachings of the Bible?
  • Do their teachings cloud clear teachings of the Bible?
  • Do they treat anything as more authoritative than the Bible itself? Or, what kind of foundation are they building on (tradition, themselves, etc.)
  • How do they think about, talk about, and use the Bible?  How central is it to their teaching?
  • Do they teach the “whole counsel of God” or are they extremely selective and imbalanced in their presentation of truth?
  • Does the teaching use big themes to override specific verses?
  • What or whom are they urging people to put their trust in?

2. The holiness of their life:
  • Do they take sin seriously? 
  • Are they open to correction? How to they respond to correction?
  • Do they discipline themselves and make sacrifices for others?
  • Are the fruits of the Spirit evident in their lives?
  • What seems to be driving them? 
  • What is their relationship to money and how does it show up into their speech?
  • Do you see more and more inconsistencies and compromises over time?

3. Their influence on others:
  • What effect is their teaching having on others?
  • What effect is their life having on others?
  • Has the spiritual climate of those around them changed?
  • What effect is their influence having on those around them?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

FBC Pierz New Worship Song Playlist

This awesome idea comes to us from our missionary Mark Huffman - thanks!

This YouTube Playlist features new worship songs that we will do corporately at FBC or that we would love for you to use for your private worship.

Click on the three lines in the upper left corner to select songs individually!

We'll be adding more songs to this playlist as we find new songs that are gospel-centered, Christ-exalting, and musically beautiful, so save this Playlist to your YouTube Account or save this page to come back and listen more!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Recognizing False Prophets (Matt. 7:15-20)

Outline: Matthew 7:15-20
  1. What are false prophets like? (v.15)
  2. How do we recognize false prophets? (v.16-18, 20)
  3. Where are false prophets going? (v.19)
Summary: When we connect Jesus' call to enter by the narrow gate and travel the hard road (7:12-14) with the command to beware of false prophets (7:15-20), we realize that Jesus is telling us that there are people who will point us to a wider gate and tempt us with promises of an easier road. These false prophets are like wolves dressed like sheep, seeking to deceive and destroy (v.15).  Jesus will eventually destroy such people (v.20), but, in the meantime, Jesus protects His sheep by telling them how to see through such deception by recognizing their bad fruit (vv.16-18, 20).

Main Point: Beware of false prophets.

Discussion Questions:
  • What is the relationship between 7:13-14 and 7:15-20? 
  • According to v.15, what are false prophets like?
  • What does the fact that Jesus gave this warning say about the type of Shepherd He is?
  • According to vv.16-18 & 20, how do we recognize false prophets?
  • What types of bad fruit might help us discern the true identity of false prophets?
  • Reflect on this statement: "Sheep, not just shepherds, must beware of false prophets."
  • Where are false prophets going in the end (v.19)? Why?
Application Questions:
  • How discerning am I when it comes to knowing false prophets by their fruit?  
  • Are there any teachings that I'm listening to or people I'm influenced by that may fail the fruit test?  
  • Am I acting more like a wolf than a sheep? In other words, is my influence (my actions and attitudes) having positive effects or negative effects on people around me?
  • What kind of fruit am I bearing? What parts of my life need pruning in order to bear more and better fruit (cf. Jn. 15:1-8)?
Prayer Points:
  • Confess ways you are acting more wolf-like than sheep-like in your attitudes and actions.
  • Thank Jesus, the Good Shepherd, for standing between you and ravenous wolves, for laying His life down that you might be spared.  
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to increase your powers of discernment, to help you train yourself to distinguish good from evil.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Golden Rule: How Jesus Takes Your Selfishness and Turns It Into Love

Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets - Jesus (Matt. 7:12)

The Golden Rule is effective because we are already excellent at half of it.

The first half. Not the second.

Since the day we were born we have been meditating on “whatever you wish that others would do to you.” It starts as a natural, God-given ability to take care of ourselves (cf. Eph. 5:28-29), and then, because sin corrupts the core of every part of us, it grows into selfishness. We become obsessed with loving ourselves and knowing all our favorite this-and-that's. Our heart’s motto becomes “Treat Yourself How You Want to Be Treated.” (Burger King’s “Have It Your Way” is so unoriginal).

So we are good at the first half of the Golden Rule. And oblivious to the second.

Then Jesus comes.

He sees this not-so-hidden talent in us, this power within us to love ourselves, and he turns it into love with the wisdom of the Golden Rule, by the power of the His Holy Spirit, made possible by His death and resurrection. He now teaches us to put ourselves in another person’s shoes and take out our excellent self-loving skills, and to consider how they would want to be treated. Then Jesus calls us to love them in that way, to take action and care for them with as great a care and consideration as we would for ourselves. Jesus changes our heart’s motto into “Treat Others How You Want To Be Treated!”

So the Golden Rule is actually a rebuke that we are very good at being selfish and a call to freedom through repentance and love.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Golden Rule and the Narrow Gate (Matt. 7:12-14)

Outline: Matthew 7:12-14
  1. The Principle: The Golden Rule (v.12)
  2. The Picture: The narrow gate (vv.13-14)
Summary: With the word "so" in Matt. 7:12,  Jesus signals that He is drawing His sermon to conclusion as well as summarizing what He as been preaching up to this point.  He summarizes the Sermon in a principle known as the Golden Rule (GR), which He also says is a faithful, boiled-down summary of all that is written in the Law and the Prophets.  So Jesus commands His followers to live out the GR (just as He did; cf. 5:17). This principle, though simple, is deep, profound and demanding.  The rigor called for in living out the GR is pictured in Jesus' parallel command to "Enter by the narrow gate." To follow Jesus example of living out the GR, one must be a pilgrim who is willing to enter by the narrow gate and travel the hard road accompanied by few people.  But while the demands are great, so is the payoff when the Lord's pilgrims reach the end of their road and enter into eternal life, a place where every heart is golden, a place where living out the GR comes easy.

Main Point: Treat others they way you would want to be treated. Living out this principle, though certainly demanding, is the path that leads to eternal life.

Discussion Questions:
  • Meditate on the following equation: The Law and Prophets (shorthand for the OT) = Love God and People (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-31) = the GR (Matt. 7:12).
  • How does the fact that Jesus Christ came, lived, died, rose, and gave the Holy Spirit shape the way we think about living out the GR?
  • How much of a priority should the GR have in the life of a Christ-follower? 
  •  What is so golden about the GR? What makes it so universally effective in relationships?  
  • How does treating others the way we would like to be treated help bring much-needed moral clarity and focus in our relationships with others? (cf. Eph. 5:28-29).
  • Practice applying the GR to some scenarios that you would like to think through:
    • How would I want to be treated if I was  _____? 
    • Would I like it if someone ______ ? 
  • Compare the two gates/ways described in vv.13-14.
    • Option #1: "though the gate be conveniently wide and the journey 
      easy and the travel companions comfortingly many, their end will be eternally destructive."
    • Option #2: The rugged Man who traveled a rugged road who hung on a rugged cross tells dear His pilgrims to enter the narrow gate, travel the hard road, accompanied by few people who who are headed for eternal life. Think through the key words: narrow, hard, few, life and explain why what is to come is worth all the present struggle.    
Application Questions:
  • How often do I actually apply the GR by "putting myself in other people's shoes"?  What is Jesus teaching me about the priority the GR should have in my life? 
  • Are the choices that I make on my earthly pilgrimage based mainly on what is convenient, easy, and what others think of me or on a living faith in Jesus, a determination to do what pleases Him no matter how hard life gets, and a commitment to travel this journey with a band of fellow pilgrims who have the same commitment? Explain.   
Prayer Points:
  • Confess ways you've been failing to live out the GR and for ways you have slipped off the narrow path in favor of what is convenient, easy, and accepted by the majority 
  • Wash in that "river" of gospel grace which mirrors at every point the rugged road of obedience
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to treat others they way you would like to be treated
  • Ask for greater sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's promptings, the inner whispers that remind us to "follow the harder road instead."

Monday, May 9, 2016

Pray Expectantly (Matt. 7:7-11)

Outline: Matthew 7:7-11
  1. The call to prayer (v.7)
  2. Two reasons or motivations to pray confidently (vv.8-11)
    • God answers our prayers (v.8)
    • God loves to answer our prayers (vv.9-11)
Summary: In Matt. 7:7-11 Jesus sounds a call to prayer (v.7) followed by two motivations (vv.8-11) for heeding such a call.  Out of everything that the Scriptures teach about prayer, no truth is more  foundational to prayer than the inspiring fact that our Father in heaven loves to give good gifts to His children (vv.9-11).  If we really grasp this truth both in our heads and in our hearts, then we will be confident that God will answer our prayers (v.8).  And if we are confident that God will answer our prayers, then we will have all the motivation we need to heed this call to prayer (v.7).

Discussion Questions:
  • What implied answer does Jesus expect when asking His rhetorical questions in vv.9-10?
  • Compare Jesus' "lesser to greater" argument in v.11 with similar arguments made in 6:26 & 20.  Then try to explain His reasoning in your own words. 
  • What effect should the fact that God loves to give good things to His children have on our relationship with God? On our prayer lives? On our doubts? 
  • Does God give His children anything they ask for without exception? Explain.
  • What are some biblical reasons we experience so-called "unanswered prayer"(cf. Matt. 21:22; Mark 11:24; John 14:13; 15:7,16; 16:23,24; 1 John 3:22; 5:14-15)?
  • In Jesus's call to prayer (v.7), how do the commands "ask," "seek," and "knock" relate to one another? What can this teach us about the nature of prayer?
Application Questions:
  • At what level has the truth that God loves to give good gifts to me become real to my heart?
  • How has this teaching helped me to think about so-called "unanswered prayer"?
  • What "good things" is my Father calling me to ask for and seek after?

Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for His fatherly affection toward you and His intense inclination to do good to you
  • Confess to God any unbelief or doubt you have in your heart, especially concerning prayer  
  • Ask God to help you feel His fatherly affection and to motivate you to ask, seek, and knock