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Advancing the Conversation of Jesus

Get your Daily Encouragement with the 180

by Tim and Diana Timmons

INTRODUCTION

PERSONAL TESTIMONY…The Jesus Journey

Nearly five years ago, after holding the position of Founding and Senior Pastor of a mega-church, publishing fourteen books and finally achieving the privilege of speaking on the largest corporate platforms in America, Jesus apprehended my life.  This experience quickly spread to my wife, Diana, and is now moving through our children and grandchildren.  The journey is like riding a roller-coaster—always being in the front seat.  The adventure is the most authentic, transformational and fulfilling we’ve ever known.  Everything else pales in comparison.

There’s a catch to all of this.  While our learning curve is nearly perpendicular, we have come to realize that much of what we have learned must be unlearned.  We’ve been educated beyond our intelligence to the point that we’ve spent most of our lives DOING THINGS OUR WAY FOR JESUS.  This time around we are stubbornly focused on three habits:

  1. Walking with Jesus.
  2. Walking with others.
  3. Waiting on Jesus to lead out with orders and opportunities.

When asked, “What’s happening?” or “What are you up to these days?”, we have learned to respond, “I’m doing the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  I’m attempting to follow the teachings and principles of Jesus.”  These are not empty words or clichés.  What we are learning as we gather together around Jesus is to interpret the popular WWJD? personally and as a group.  WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?  To ask the question is to discover the answer.  But there’s more to WWJD? than originally thought.  It’s WDJD?...WHAT DID JESUS DO?  We’re learning more and more that the most important thing of all is to do what Jesus did in every way possible.

A major theme for our spiritual journey has become JESUS PLUS NOTHING.  Our tendency is to complicate Jesus and our relationship with Him.  And, that tendency leads to smothering the dynamic of following Jesus with a multitude of ADD-ONS.  These add-ons may be good, but they are not the best and become insidious distractions away from the simplicity of devotion to Jesus.

Since Jesus apprehended our lives in the past few years, we and a few of our friends are stubbornly devoted to:

  • Embrace the teachings and principles of Jesus as a lifestyle.
  • Mentor others to do the same.
  • Believe God for raising up leaders for the harvest.
  • Empower the youth of the world.
  • Restore the broken, abused, addicted and poor.
  • Serve everyone Jesus brings to me.

 

PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION…Why this study?

The purpose of this study is all about Jesus transforming your life.  Enter into this study with an open heart and a prayer for the Lord to change you inside out.  Make it your goal to stubbornly follow Jesus.  So, first begin with YOU—take the time to study and embrace it for yourself.  Make it your passion to be a follower of Jesus.

Consider sharing this study with a few.  We’re convinced that where two or three are gathered together Jesus will show up—meaningfully and powerfully.  So, if you knew that Jesus was going to show up some place, wouldn’t you do whatever you had to do to be there.  Study this with a few.  Encourage each person to do his/her personal study and then come together to share all that was received in the process.  You will be amazed at the dynamic of Jesus showing up in your midst.

 

THE REVOLUTION IS STILL ON

THE IRRESISTIBLE PERSON—THE IRREVERSIBLE KINGDOM

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve enjoyed the presence of God.  They were all set—good jobs, lush place to live, great retirement benefits and a personal relationship with God.  They were to fulfill three purposes:

  • REFLECT the image of the Creator-God…man and woman were the image of God!
  • REPRODUCE godly children and fill up the earth with them!
  • REIGN together against evil…to cultivate and guard the garden...co-rulers with the Creator!

Well, without laying more blame on the woman or the man, it’s sufficient to note that they blew it—each in his/her own way.  You see, they had only one prohibition that was set up by God.  However you want to characterize that prohibition and the subsequent encounter with the serpent who lured them into breaking that universal law set up by their Creator, THEY BLEW IT.  They blew it by not trusting their Creator-God and disobeying what He said.

What’s interesting is that by breaking the law of God (disobeying Him) they not only broke the law, but the law broke them.  They were kicked out of the Garden.  There were three definitive consequences:

  1. They lost the Kingdom where they were co-rulers with their Creator.
  2. They lost the personal relationship with the Creator-God.
  3. They lost the abiding presence of God’s Spirit within them.

And ever since that great loss mankind has been desperately trying to recover.  It seems that the hole in the soul of every man and woman can be attributed to those three losses—the Kingdom of God, the personal relationship with God and God’s abiding presence through His Spirit.  NOTE they didn’t lose heaven, but gave up the Kingdom, personal relationship and abiding presence on earth.

Since that epic rebellion against the Creator-God, men and women have become enslaved by the very things they were supposed to rule.

  • PLANTS have been used to produce a variety of drugs and alcohol to be abused with the end result of being addicted and controlled by them.
  • PASSIONS in mankind have easily become out of control to the point of wallowing in them and to the point of living life lustily rather than living life passionately.
  • POSSESSIONS have easily taken a prominent place in our lives and we live under the deception that people, places and things can make us happy.

All of these promise so much more than they can deliver!

Every religion, philosophy and politic is a noble attempt to fill up that hole in the soul...

  • To seek the Kingdom.
  • To seek to re-establish a personal relationship with the Creator.
  • To seek the abiding presence of God.

NOTE that most every religion is setting up a system and many times an obstacle course to make your way through in order to get out of here—to heaven, nirvana, eden, shangri-la, paradise or the promised land.  I see every religious system as well-meaning attempt with its desires and standards.  Christians are trying to be the best Christians, Buddhists the best Buddhists, as are Hindus, Moslems, Jews, and Animists.  Since God created all peoples and is holding them together, eternity has been placed in everyone’s heart to grope for God.  At the core of this groping is this deep ache from the hole in the soul.  They are seeking the Kingdom, seeking that personal relationship with the Creator-God and seeking an abiding presence with God as in the beginning in the Garden of Eden.

But setting up ways to get out of here doesn’t seem to be the way of God; it’s the way of man.  Nor is it God’s way to set up a system of do’s and don’ts to avoid going to hell.  It’s interesting to note that there was no system set up there and no worship, but a relationship with the Creator-God, walking together in the Garden.  This is why, after establishing a massive system of sacrifices and feasts, the Lord says through the prophets, “I want compassion rather than your sacrifices.”  God wants a relationship.  I like the distinction made between religion and relationship.  Religion is man’s best attempt to avoid going to hell.  Relationship says, “I’ve already been to hell and don’t want to go back!”  Religion is man’s idea.  A relationship is God’s idea.

God has not given us a way to get out of here.  That’s not the direction!  He’s doing all that He can to get down here—to dwell among us.  So, this is what God has been up to ever since man lost the Kingdom, the personal relationship and abiding presence of God.  Through the priests, the judges, the kings, and the prophets God wanted to dwell among those who would trust Him and those people would be a blessing to all the nations of the world.  During that time the presence of God through His Spirit came upon individuals to empower them for a temporary task and then would depart.

After the prophets, there was a period of 400 silent years.  It was at this point that Jesus was sent to earth.  His mission was to reveal the GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM and by doing this to restore what mankind had lost—the Kingdom, the personal relationship and the abiding presence of God. So, Jesus announced the Kingdom, established the personal relationship and introduced the abiding presence of God for all to experience. He brought the Kingdom of God to earth, because He is the King.  Wherever the King is, there is the Kingdom.  He was the dwelling place of God on earth, fully indwelt with the Spirit of God.  God had finally come down here to dwell among those who would trust Him.

Jesus did one more amazing thing.  He re-introduced the Spirit of God as the abiding presence of God—to permanently indwell people again as in the Garden.  And, with this introduction it is again possible to enjoy a personal relationship with the Creator-God once again—to walk with Him in the Garden.  So, the Kingdom, the abiding presence and the personal relationship with God are no longer longings and things hoped for, but they have become a reality in Jesus.

He came to turn the religious stress into REST.  Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  You can have all that was ever lost in the Garden.  Jesus can fill up the hole in your soul.

In this study you will discover for yourself what it means to know the irresistible Jesus and the irreversible Kingdom of God.  Jesus came as a revolutionary.  The revolution is all about restoration and transformation.  And, you will come to understand that the revolution is still on today!

MODULE 1

3 REASONS TO BE A FOLLOWER OF JESUS

We live in the age of the hungry spirit.  We may not be a human being having a spiritual experience, but a spiritual being having a human experience.  People are searching for the Way.  Jesus is the Way.

Churches are looking more like warehouses—houses looking more like churches.  Houses—one big “great room” with cathedral ceilings and a stained-glass window…gothic furniture—kneeling benches, podiums, pews.

Traditional Church functions within propositions and a set of beliefs.  The Emerging Church is still functioning within those propositions.  Following Jesus is not a belief system; it’s all about a Person and how to follow Him.  What is needed is a spiritual revolution—a revolution that gets us back to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus.  Let’s examine 3 reasons to be a follower of Jesus:

 

  1. Jesus stands out by embodying his teachings.

Truth is not a principle or proposition or set of beliefs…but a

person who calls us into a relationship:

  • Aristotle—Follow my teachings
  • Plato—Follow my teachings
  • Socrates—Follow my teachings
  • Mohammed—Follow my teachings

Jesus didn't just teach the truth, He is the truth (John 14:6) and He doesn't call us to simply know things, but to know Him.  He teaches us to be with Him, not just know what He taught.  These are the two most revolutionary words in all of history!

SO, Jesus, the I AM, the Person, the God-Man is Who we follow.  We must be careful not to follow a system of beliefs.  Jesus unites—all else divides.

  1. Jesus is the entrance into the Kingdom of God.

 

  1. Demons are believers! James 2:18-20—But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds.  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.  You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
  2. False teachers and prophets are believers! Matthew 7:21-27—“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Jesus goes on to explain what doing the will of my Father means: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

  • We are believers! SO, what makes the difference? “Only those who do the will of my Father will enter”—those who “follow Me”.  Matt 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; 10:38; 19:21

 

  1. The Kingdom of God is within you…not speaking of a future location, but a present reality! The best translation seems to be “the kingdom of God is among” ya’ll.  We’ll see in a later study that when Jesus said this, He was speaking to a group of Pharisees.

 

It’s important to view entering into the Kingdom as a present reality.  Jesus is not speaking of “going to heaven”, but entering the Kingdom right now.  When you submit to Jesus as your King and obey Him, you are acting in and acting out the Kingdom right now.  However, if you resist Him as your King, then you are living outside the Kingdom power and blessing.

 

SO, it’s not enough to be a “believer”, since many are believers.  The key is whether or not we are doing the will of the Father—hearing and practicing what Jesus says.  THEN the Kingdom is ours right now.

 

  • Jesus created and holds everything together.

John 1:1-14In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with

God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made

that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all

people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not

overcome it.

 

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the

world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but

his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those

who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of

God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a

husband's will, but born of God.

 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have

seen his glory, the glory of the one and only [Son], who came from

the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

Colossians 1:15-20The Son is the image of the invisible God, the

firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in

heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers

or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and

for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and

the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might

have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell

in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether

things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his

blood, shed on the cross.

 

What do these passages say about Jesus’ role in this world?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the theme of Jesus’ preaching in the Gospels?

  • Church—Jesus mentions the church 2 times (1 local—1 universal).
  • Kingdom—Jesus mentions the Kingdom 127 times.

What is the two-dimensional message Jesus, Phillip and Paul emphasize?

  • Acts 1—Jesus?
  • Acts 8—Phillip?
  • Acts 28—Paul?

So, what does this say to you about the message we proclaim today?

 

What is the Kingdom?

  • Your kingdom is all you have say over.
  • The Kingdom of God is all God has say over.
  • WHO RULES? You sign off your kingdom to Jesus’ kingdom.

WE ARE LIVING BETWEEN TWO KINGDOMS….

  1. KINGDOM OF GOD & KINGDOM OF MAN

Kingdom of the World           Kingdom of God           Reference

Seeing is believing                        Believing is seeing              John 20:29

Save your life                                Lose your life                        Matt 16:25

Try to be first                                 First will be last                  Mk 9:34-35

Try to be great                              Try to be servant               Mk 10:44

Divided over religion                     United in Jesus                   James 1:27

Defeated by suffering                   Grow by suffering              James 1:2

More is better                                Jesus is enough                  John 15:5

Seek to exalt yourself                    Seek—humble yourself        Luke 14:11

Recognition is important                Anonymity is valued            Matt 6:1-4

Depend on yourself                        Depend on God                  Prov 3:5-6

Want to receive much                   Try to give much                Acts 20:35

Love money                                   Love God                          Matt 6:24

You use people                             You serve people                Matt 23:11

Many things impossible                 All is possible                     Mk 9:23

Hate your enemies                         Love your enemies             Matt 5:4

 

  1. KINGDOM OF GOD & THE CHURCH

 

The Church                                        Kingdom of God      

Local                                          Universal

Limited                                       Unlimited

Earthly                                        Heaven-to-earth connection

No gospel of the church             Gospel of the kingdom

Jesus didn’t proclaim it               Jesus proclaimed it

Visible                                         Invisible

You go to church                         Kingdom goes with you

Tends to be an organization        Tends to be a movement

Gathers and scatters                    Is always present within you

Enter church by attendance          Enter kingdom by following Jesus

You don’t seek the church            You are to seek first the kingdom

Church may or may not grow        Kingdom is continually growing

Churches are shut down                Kingdom cannot be shut down

Church may have God present      Kingdom is God’s presence in us

 

Why do we preach the “church”, when Jesus didn’t?

The only thing Jesus calls the gospel is the Kingdom—the gospel of the Kingdom.

Why do you think we emphasize the church & minimize the Kingdom?

 

SO WHAT?

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:25-34

 

What does Jesus’ teaching here mean to you today?

What do you intend to do about it?

MODULE 2

The book of Matthew lays out the ministry of Jesus in a logical manner.   Jesus shows up offering the gospel (good news) of the Kingdom.  After His baptism and temptation, Jesus makes a presentation to those who would listen, answering the question: “Jesus, how do your teachings differ from what we’ve been taught?”  This presentation is recorded in three chapters in Matthew 5, 6 and 7.

 

The Jesus movement of the 1st century was moving along quite well.  The theme of Jesus’ message was the good news of the Kingdom.

 

According to the following passages what does Jesus say about the Kingdom?

 

Matthew 3:2...

 

 

Matthew 4:17...

 

 

Matthew 10:7...

 

 

Jesus carried this same theme of the Kingdom beyond His disciples.  According to Luke 17:20-21, who was Jesus addressing in addition to His disciples?

 

 

What did He say about the Kingdom that was different than what He said prior to this?

 

 

 

After setting the record straight on how His teachings compare, Jesus launches into a tour of many villages and cities where He performs some astounding miracles.  This is recorded in Matthew 8-12.  There were three miracles that the Jewish people believed only the Messiah can do and would do when He comes. They were (1) healing a man born blind, (2) cleansing a leper and (3) casting demons out of a person who could neither speak nor hear.  When the miracle section opens up, Jesus is seen cleansing a leper.  Then at the close of this series of miracles in Matthew in chapter 12 Jesus heals a man who was demonized in such a way that the man could not hear nor speak.

 

When Jesus performed this incredible miracle, the Pharisees and the leadership attributed this work to the devil—Beelzebub.  The disciples were riding high following and promoting their “candidate” for the new leader of the Jews who would surely put an end to the Roman domination.  His popularity was zooming.  But with this widespread rejection of Jesus, they had to be very discouraged and their hopes pretty much dashed.

 

With this in mind the question in the mind of the disciples (the many followers of Jesus, not just the twelve) must have been: “What’s the kingdom going to look like now?”  Here in Matthew 13 Jesus takes the time to carefully articulate the answer to this desperate question.

 

 

When you have read or heard the term “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of heaven”, what comes to mind?

 

 

 

The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven are used interchangeably.  Even though Jesus teaches so little on the church (mentions it twice), He spends lots of time teaching about the Kingdom.  Today the Kingdom concept has escaped our notice, even though Jesus places so much emphasis on it.

 

It’s not that the Kingdom has been rejected, but reduced.  There are, at least, 5 ways that we tend to reduce the Kingdom.  FIRST—It is MYSTICAL.  If it’s mystical, then it is very difficult to explain and understand definitively.  It’s sort of other-worldly.  SECOND—It’s HEAVENLY.  This is a lot like the first.  If the Kingdom is heavenly, then it has little, if any, application on earth.  THIRD—It’s APOCALYPTIC.  This means it isn’t for today, but is relegated to a time in the future when Jesus will set up His Kingdom on earth.  FOURTH—It’s EQUATED TO THE CHURCH.  Many see the Kingdom as the local church and therefore it’s limited to whether it’s a good and healthy church or not.  FIFTH—It’s a SOCIAL CONCERN.  To many feeding the poor and doing charitable deeds among the needy of our world is where the Kingdom is.

 

There is a little bit of each of these dimensions that is true, but the Kingdom cannot be defined by any one of them alone.  The way Jesus teaches it, the Kingdom is greater than anything that has ever existed on earth.  Jesus makes it clear that the Kingdom is near, here and among us right now, yet there seems to be a time in the future when the Kingdom will be fully experienced on earth.

 

Since the Kingdom is Jesus’ major theme throughout His ministry, we will not be leaving the subject as we move through our studies together.  And, since we want to walk, think, love and talk like Jesus, then our theme will be JESUS and the KINGDOM throughout.  In fact, the Kingdom is the only thing Jesus calls the gospel—the gospel (good news) of the Kingdom.  When you are more conversant with the Kingdom, you will come to know that this is not only the good news; it is the BEST NEWS ever!

 

So, let’s make our way through 8 parables found in Matthew 13 where Jesus is answering, “What’s going to happen to the Kingdom now?”

 

1—PARABLE OF THE SOWERListen then to what the parable of the sower means: When people hear the message about the kingdom and do not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their hearts. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to people who hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to people who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to people who hear the word and understand it. They produce a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

 

What does Jesus want us to know about the Kingdom in this parable?

 

 

 

There is so much in this parable.  One of the great insights is to be found in the variety of the soils.  The responsiveness of each of the four soils is encouraging on one hand and maybe a little discouraging on the other.  The encouragement comes to you when you think in terms of how many people actually respond and become fruitful as you touch the lives of people.  The discouragement may be to realize that you can be any one of the four soils at any given time.

 

Although there is much to be mined in the principle of the soils, we think there is a primary truth about the Kingdom that Jesus is teaching.  The parable of the sower is saying that the Kingdom will consist of one major activity throughout—the sowing of the seed.

 

What is the seed that is sown?

 

 

 

 

Sowing seed during that time was not like taking a package of seed and carefully putting them in the ground.  It was a scattering method, usually throwing it out by hand.  Therefore the sowing was indiscriminate and the seed was in essentially planted everywhere.

 

 

2—PARABLE OF THE WEEDSThe kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied. The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'

 

Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field. He answered, The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil.

 

What does Jesus want us to know about the Kingdom here?

 

 

 

 

Again, in this parable there is a lot going on.  It seems that the primary teaching here is the Kingdom consists of the weeds (the bad seed) growing alongside the genuine wheat (the good seed).

 

 

 

What is the warning given to the servants who wanted to sort out the wheat from the weeds?

 

 

 

The Kingdom will include both the good and the bad in it.  Don’t spend your time trying to discern the wheat from the weeds.  They will all be sorted out at the end.

 

 

3—PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEEDThe kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.

 

What does Jesus want us to know about the Kingdom here?

 

 

 

 

The mustard seed is the smallest of the seeds and has the ability to grow into a tree that is large enough for birds to perch.  We think the teaching here is the Kingdom will experience incredible growth.  It may seem very small and insignificant at the beginning, yet will most surely grow immensely.  You can count on that and be encouraged by that.

 

4—PARABLE OF THE LEAVENThe kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.

 

What does Jesus want us to know about the Kingdom here?

 

 

 

Once the leaven or yeast is introduced into the dough, it spreads everywhere throughout the whole lump.  What’s interesting is that you cannot stop it.  You cannot remove it, once it is introduced.  So, the teaching here is the Kingdom growth will be irreversible, once introduced into a person, a community, a society and a nation.  Nothing will be able to stop it.

 

 

READ THE NEXT TWO TOGETHER…

 

5—PARABLE OF THE HIDDEN TREASUREThe kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

 

6—PARABLE OF THE PEARLAgain, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

 

What does Jesus want us to know about the Kingdom here?

 

 

These two parables are quite similar, but how do they differ?

 

 

 

 

When a person hears the message of the Kingdom and receives it, he becomes convinced that the Kingdom is the most valuable thing he’s ever heard before.  Therefore he is willing to sell everything to embrace it for himself.

 

The difference between the two seems to be this:

  • The man who finds the hidden treasure in the field, hides it again and sells all he has to buy that field is a person who comes into the Kingdom BY SURPRISE.  He is so filled with joy, because he wasn’t even looking for it.
  • The man who is the merchant looking for fine pearls, finds the best one ever and sells everything he has to buy that pearl is the person who comes into the Kingdom BY SEARCHING.

 

So, people will come into the Kingdom in all sorts of ways—specifically by surprise and by searching.

 

7—PARABLE OF THE NETOnce again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.  This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

What does Jesus want us to know about the Kingdom here?

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever else the net means it seems that again Jesus wants to make certain that we understand that there will be a sorting and He will be in charge of that procedure.  We don’t have to do any sorting whatsoever.  In fact, we believe it’s clear that you and we cannot do anything with respect to the ultimate results of who are the wicked and who are the righteous.

 

NOTE the term “wicked” that Jesus seems to use frequently.  He isn’t speaking of a vile, despicable person, but it seems that “wicked” is used of those who do not hear or welcome the words of Jesus and do not practice them.

 

The primary issue here for me is that the parable of the net teaches us that there will be an accounting at the end.  Also, NOTE that everyone will be caught in the net for the final accounting.

 

NOW, we come to a parable that is easily overlooked….

8—THEREFORE, PARABLE OF SCRIBETherefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.

What do you make of this? 

 

NOTE Jesus is referring to a person who is a teacher of the law—one who knows the law well.  Then, this one who is conversant with the law is taught the message of the Kingdom of heaven.  A person in this position is like the owner of a house who is able to share with his guests new things (things of the Kingdom) as well as the old things (the Law).  In fact, what we’re discovering is that walking with Jesus in the Kingdom lifestyle brings something new and fresh every day.  Personally, my learning curve isn’t a curve anymore; it’s perpendicular!  It’s the most thrilling adventure ever!

 

 

 

How have you reduced the Kingdom into being more convenient for you?

  • MYSTICAL
  • HEAVENLY
  • APOCALYPTIC
  • EQUATED TO THE CHURCH
  • SOCIAL CONCERN.

 

 

 

How do you see the Kingdom now?

 

 

 

 

 

There seem to be four main things that block or hinder a life constantly interactive with God, and a healthy growth in the Kingdom:

 

  1. The desire to have the approval of others.
  2. The desire to secure ourselves by means of material wealth.
  3. The smothering of ourselves in stuff and unimportant things.
  4. The devil ready to pounce and steal your seed.

 

What is it that hinders you most?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, why do you think there is such a strong tendency to make our focus and emphasis upon the church and not the Kingdom?

MODULE 3

HOW JESUS AND HIS KINGDOM ARE SPREAD

 

THE KINGDOM AND THE CHURCH OF JESUS...

 

The Kingdom is the rule of God on planet earth both personally and in community.  The church is a simple gathering together.  The term “church” is not a special or holy word as many believe and teach.  It literally means “called out ones” and was used to describe city council meetings or any kind of assembly.  It simply is a gathering of followers of Jesus.

 

What are the 4 elements involved in such a gathering according to Acts 2:42?

 

  1.  

 

  1.  

 

  1.  

 

  1.  

 

 

 

And what are the results of gathering in this way according to Acts 2:43-47? 

 

 

 

 

 

Which of these results is most striking to you?

 

 

 

 

The simple gathering of followers of Jesus on any day and at any location is a church.  These gatherings revolve around four ingredients—fellowship, food, prayer and the apostles’ teachings.  The only one of these ingredients that might throw you a bit might be the apostles’ teachings.  We see this as what had been passed on through the early disciples about Jesus and the Kingdom.

 

So, since the kingdom is the rule and presence of God on planet earth, you could also think of it as wherever the King is, there is the Kingdom.  The King and the Kingdom are inseparable.  Therefore a good way to view the Kingdom is Christ-likeness universalized.

 

The Kingdom is universal and everywhere.  The church is a local gathering of followers of Jesus who are seeking, sharing in and spreading the gospel of Jesus and the Kingdom.  The church is not everywhere, but localized and limited to those who choose to gather together.  The Kingdom is everywhere and unlimited in its impact on society.  The Kingdom is not waiting for a local gathering to be established in order to have its effect.  The Kingdom is already there in every country and in every culture.

 

Many have believed that the Christian Church ought to have a major impact on society.  Unfortunately, the primary approach employed has been one of the following:

  1. To build a Christian, political power-block that will have great influence on the culture.  This basically stirs up an antagonism against Christianity, battle lines are drawn and political battles are fought while sadly the war is being lost.  Even if the Christian power-block succeeded in building its numbers to a majority, the legislation of morality by a majority will not transform lives. Culture is not penetrated through this approach.
  2. To pontificate from the podium or platform.  This is limited to whoever happens to be present.  And, since church attendance is not as massive as we might want to believe, those who are pontificating are basically talking to themselves.  Culture is not penetrated through this approach.
  3. To position Christians into powerful positions.  Although this sounds really good, it has proven to be ineffective over the years.  Most of the men who have served as President of the United States have professed to be Christians.  They are in the most powerful position in the world, yet the culture is not being penetrated.

 

Jesus and the Kingdom offer the only possible solution to transforming the culture.  There are three things about Jesus that are most attractive and most effective in change any society:

 

FIRST—CHARACTER.  There is no one who ever lived who has ever surpassed the character standard that Jesus set.  He set the bar so high that He is revered in every culture of the world.  It was said of Gandhi, “He was the most Christlike who ever lived.”  Think of that.  Gandhi, Hindu leader, had great character and was recognized by the Hindu people that his character was so outstanding that it was to be compared with Jesus.  Jesus raises the highest bar ever on the planet with respect to character.  No one surpasses Him!

SECOND—FULFILLMENT AND MEANING.  If you follow the teachings and principles of Jesus, you will know fulfillment and meaning in your life.  Who isn’t able to gain something positive out of the principle of forgiveness or loving your enemies or giving rather than receiving?  Religious and cultural leaders from all over the world continually use the principles of Jesus to write their books and teach their seminars.  There is nothing that surpasses them!

 

THIRD—GOD.  If God were to take on human flesh and live among us on this earth, He would most certainly say the things that Jesus said and do the things that Jesus did.  If you follow the teachings and principles of Jesus, along the way you will find the God of the universe.

 

NOW, take these same three characteristics of Jesus and apply them to the Kingdom—where the King is.

 

FIRST—CHARACTER.  The Kingdom is the only moral authority with any kind of power to change society.  The Church is not capable of it.  The Church changes from time to time.  Sometimes it is effective and sometimes it’s not.  Leaders are morally good and leaders become morally flawed.  So, at any given time, the Church will not be able to deliver a moral authority to the community.  The Kingdom is constant.  It’s power and effectiveness depend upon its leader—Jesus.  Therefore living in the Kingdom and inviting others to share in it is the only solution to transforming a broken culture.

 

SECOND—FULFILLMENT AND MEANING.  Jesus is the ultimate standard and the Kingdom is the lifestyle of living this out in society.  The lifestyle of Kingdom living is where ultimate fulfillment and meaning reside.  They are the laws of the universe.  You cannot break the laws of the Kingdom, but they can break you.  For instance, one of the laws of the Kingdom is to forgive those who have hurt you.  If you refuse to live out this Kingdom principle, you will pay dearly for it.  You will be bound by your lack of forgiveness.  You will be eaten up with this unforgiving heart.  By breaking the principle, you are broken.  When living within the Kingdom, you are safe and free and most fulfilled.

 

THIRD—GOD.  Where better to discover a personal relationship with the God of gods than where He lives in His Kingdom.

 

 

FOLLOW THE KING AND YOU’LL DISCOVER THE KINGDOM; EMBRACE THE KINGDOM LIFESTYLE AND YOU’LL DISCOVER THE KING.

 

 

According to Genesis 1:26-31, why did God create human beings?  List them out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the very heart of creation there is a missional purpose.  Creation is missional.  When the Scriptures say, “created in the image of God”, we believe it is better translated, “created AS the image of God.  As the image of God we represent and reveal God to the world.  We are the image of God.  Our mission “as the image of God” is to reflect God to our world by our choices and lifestyles.

 

This same missional spirit is found in Jesus’ teaching about what the Kingdom will look like.  After Jesus’ leadership as Messiah was rejected by the Jewish leadership, He described His Kingdom now in parabolic form.  He speaks to the incredible and irreversible growth of the Kingdom now, but only presents one primary activity in the Kingdom today—sowing seed.  In fact, the seed that is being sown is the “message of the Kingdom”—the word.

 

When you think about it, right from the very start the Jesus movement was like a wildfire that spread throughout the world into every culture.  The way it was spread was through one person after another sharing his or her experience with Jesus and the Kingdom.  There were always other people who could be introduced to this unchanging Person and the unshakable Kingdom.  THEN, when Constantine declared the Roman Empire to be Christian, there was no one else to share with.  Everyone was a “Christian”; so all had to settle with talking among themselves.  This led to the elevation of those who knew most about the spiritual teachings—the priests.  So the priests were held up as the ones who were the keepers of the knowledge of God.  Then, priests were elevated over other priests and a hierarchy developed.  There was no reason to share about Jesus and the Kingdom.  The major discussion was all about a system of beliefs—a theology—a right way to believe and a wrong way to believe.  The sowing of seed came to a halt and the life and power of Jesus and the Kingdom were muffled, at best.

 

According to Matthew 28:18-20, what was it that Jesus commanded us to do after He left?

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the gospels and at the beginning of Acts Jesus made it clear that our primary task was now to MAKE DISCIPLES.  We are to make disciples:

  • By going...advancing the conversation about Jesus and the Kingdom.
  • By baptizing...identifying others with Jesus and the Kingdom.
  • By teaching...instructing those in the Kingdom lifestyle.

 

Here’s the problem.  Many have approached this in reverse for years.  Instead of going, baptizing and teaching with the good news of Jesus and the Kingdom, we have spent our time teaching, baptizing and then going.  By teaching the belief systems that define our stance and then baptizing people into these systems and this theology we are going the wrong direction.  After getting people taught and baptized in the flavor of our Church or denomination, we then send people out for mission trips.  But the mission is no longer Jesus and the Kingdom; it’s whatever theological position that we embrace about Christianity.

 

Jesus’ approach is the only way for His organic movement to stay alive and vibrant.  Otherwise, we are left with building organizations and structures that have a distorted message of Jesus and the Kingdom.  This may be what Paul was referring to when he spoke of another Jesus, a different gospel and a different spirit.

 

What seems to be the theme that is most important in the following passages?

 

  • Acts 1:3—according to Jesus…

 

 

  • Acts 8:12—according to Philip...

 

 

  • Acts 28:30-31—according to Paul…

 

 

 

The simple and profound theme of Jesus, Philip and Paul in the book of Acts in highly instructive to me.  In fact, it’s mind-boggling.  Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples, proving to them that He really died and was resurrected just by being with them that long.  It wasn’t a dream or an illusion.  And while Jesus was with them He taught them only one thing—the Kingdom.  Then Philip’s message to the Samaritans was simply Jesus and the Kingdom.  Finally, at the end of Acts Paul is living in rented quarters in Rome (I like to think a beach house.)  People visited him from all over.  His message to them was simply and profoundly JESUS AND THE KINGDOM.  If you have some time with people who are eager to learn more spiritually, what is your message?

 

According to Acts 1:8, what is the purpose of the power that the Spirit will be giving the disciples?

 

 

 

 

Jesus says that when the Spirit comes, you will receive power to be witnesses of Me.  This is not to be witnesses of Christianity or of a set of beliefs or theological system, but a Person—Jesus.  Literally Jesus is saying that His disciples are to be witnesses of the person of Jesus.

 

NOW, with this in mind, that we are to be on a mission, check out the 5 primary things that “ya’ll” can do to spread the gospel of Jesus and the Kingdom:

 

1—SHINE AS LIGHTS"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:13-16

 

èWhat will be attractive to the world here?

 

This is all about your lifestyle.  When people see your good works, they will be drawn to God.  Good works include how you handle your life, how you treat people around you and how your attitude reflects God’s goodness.

 

2—SEE JESUS IN HUMAN NEED—For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'  Matthew 25:35-40

 

èWhat will be attractive to the world here? 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus is saying something very profound that we have missed over years of study.  He is saying that when you give to the needy—food, drink shelter, hospitality, clothing, care for the sick and for the prisoners, you are in reality giving to Jesus, Himself.  Think of it this way:  Jesus is in the human need—in that person.  He’s in the person who is suffering.  So, when you minister to the needs of the person, you are directly ministering to Jesus.

 

3—PRACTICE LOVING ONE ANOTHER"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:38-39

 

èWhat will be attractive to the world here? 

 

 

 

 

 

Whenever genuine, loving relationships are seen, this is not a fact to be observed, but something powerful to be experienced.  This loving dynamic is so attractive and will draw people to see Jesus.

 

4—BE A BLESSING WHEN INSULTEDFinally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing….  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  I Peter 3:8-12, 15-16

 

èWhat will be attractive to the world here? 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of the most radical of all of the five dimensions.  When you are insulted, return a blessing instead of another insult.  Jesus is the example here.  He was willing to hurt in order to heal those around Him.  By handling these negative insults against you by giving a blessing will confound all those who observe it.  This is why they will approach you and ask for the reason for the hope that is in you.

 

5—SHARE YOUR STORYHow, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"  Romans 10:14-15

 

èWhat will the world see? 

 

 

 

 

 

We finally come to the use of words.  The first four dimensions of spreading the message of Jesus and the Kingdom do not require words.  How easy it is to feel guilty about not being able to say the right thing at the right moment, when the occasion arises.  The message of the good news is most effective when you share your personal experience—your story.  You see, YOUR STORY is really HIS STORY through you.

 

Which of these 5 dimensions of spreading the message of Jesus and the Kingdom have you found to be most attractive to you?

 

 

Which ones of the 5 dimensions do you find easiest to do?  Which are most difficult for you?

 

 

 

NOTE what is not effective or even practiced among Jesus and His disciples.  There are no evangelism classes, no door-to-door encounters, no street-corner presentations, no seminars.  Almost every time the message of Jesus and the Kingdom was publicly proclaimed, those who spoke were invited guests at the synagogue.  There are several other speaking events that occurred when one of the followers of Jesus was brought before authorities to present a defense.  Most all of the other encounters came about in the context of life-on-life experiences.  Many of those life-on-life experiences were produced through a healing or doing good for someone in need.  Then the conversation was advanced from there.  You see, the message of Jesus and the Kingdom are spread best by word of mouth in life-on-life experiences.

 

Jesus is the most irresistible of all.  Introduce a person to Jesus and He will lead you into the Kingdom lifestyle.  Follow your attraction to the Kingdom lifestyle and you will find yourself face to face with Jesus.  The gospel message revolves around the person of Jesus.  The following is a good way to say it.

 

 

JESUS IS GOD HERE...

   ...GOD IS JESUS EVERYWHERE.

MODULE 4

THE POWER OF THE FEW

THE POWER OF PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION

 

 

Following Jesus and His Kingdom is all about mission.  It was missional from the outset!  The good news message was spreading so rapidly, primarily by word of mouth, and its life and vitality was fueled by the spreading wildfire.  Following Jesus and His Kingdom is inherently a movement.  Since Jesus’ unveiling of the good news of the Kingdom, this invisible movement has been growing within every nation and culture of the world and cannot be stopped.

With this in mind you must reckon with the fact that you will not be able to launch any Jesus movement; you can only join the movement in process.

 

It’s important to note as we discussed earlier, the viral spread of the good news of Jesus and His Kingdom was alive and thriving, UNTIL Constantine declared his empire to be Christian.  You see, once everyone was a “Christian”, then there was no more mission.  The only mission at that time was the choice each person was given: Believe or die!  The good news of Jesus and the Kingdom was no longer the discussion in the gates or at the well.  So, those who knew most about Christianity, the priests, were lifted up to a new position.  In fact, in this atmosphere one priest was listed up to be the head priest of all the priests.  The only thing left in the empire for its citizens was to talk among themselves.  And, Christians have been talking to themselves ever since using a certain Christianese that is only known or understood by the “members.”  All kinds of “non-biblical” speech is bantered about as if this is the holy speech of God, yet Jesus never used this language at all—e.g. “amen, praise the Lord, hallelujah, born agains, spirit-filled, Christian or Christianity”, just to name a few.

 

Instead of walking, thinking, loving and talking like Jesus, people began to walk, think, love and talk like their particular doctrinal persuasion.  The most exciting news of Jesus and the Kingdom was replaced with litanies, doctrines and theologies.  Sharing the creative work of Jesus and His Spirit in daily life was replaced with discussions and debate over the differing belief systems.  The unity of the fellowship was replaced with the divisive nature of denominationalism.  Instead of simply following Jesus, most have become committed and devoted to a set of beliefs.  Therefore, the vibrant, authentic organism became a verbose, sometimes disingenuous, organization.  You can’t escape the reality that JESUS UNITES—all else divides.

 

It’s so easy to become wearied and burdened down with all forms of religiosity rather than embrace and enjoy the relationship that Jesus offers.  We love the following paraphrase of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:

 

"The Lord says, 'this is a special invitation to all of you who don't have

all the answers. Who struggle with life. Who are tired. Who are burned

out. Who are bruised. Who struggle with grief. Come to me I will teach

you how to trust. I will teach you how to learn. Walk with me, work

with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I

won't lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with

me and you'll learn how to trust and live with joy and freedom.'"

 

What has been most disconcerting or discouraging about your experience with religiosity?

 

  1. POWER OF THE FEW

 

There is a radical principle taught and practiced by Jesus and a universal principle of life.  The principle is the power of the few.  When Jesus launched the movement, He invited 3 to come and be with Him—just to be with Him.

 

 

What do the following passages have to say about this principle?

 

  • Ecclesiastes 4:11-13

 

 

  • Matthew 18:19-21

 

 

  • Matthew 10; Luke 10:1-3

 

 

  • Acts 2:42-47

 

 

If you were asked who wrote the book of I Thessalonians, what would you say?  The most common answer is Paul.  This is because the margins of most translations and paraphrases identify Paul as the author.  The fact is that Paul didn’t write this letter alone; he had help from two co-authors.  So, you will find in the first verse of the book that Paul, Silas and Timothy authored I Thessalonians.

 

In this study session we will examine what happened when these three men entered the city of Thessalonica and shared the good news of Jesus and the Kingdom with these people.  The history of their work among the Thessalonians is recorded in Acts 17:1-9.

 

NOTE how long they spent in Thessalonica….

NOTE the responses to their message?

 

 

 

Knowing this history, would you expect anything significant to come out of this encounter?

 

 

 

These three men in fellowship with one another, walking with Jesus and with one another, were putting into practice the promise Jesus had given them: “Where two or three are gathered together, there I will be in their midst.”

When these three men walked together in Jesus, Jesus showed up powerfully.  Let’s walk through the first chapter of this letter.

 

 

I Thessalonians 1

1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.

2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith (work of faith), your labor prompted by love (labor of love), and your endurance inspired by hope (steadfastness of hope) in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what happened when we visited you. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Would you define in your words what the following three phrases mean?

 

  1. Work of faith

 

 

  1. Labor of love

 

 

  1. Steadfastness of hope

 

How far did the message of Jesus and the Kingdom spread?

 

 

 

 

 

An explosion occurred in many in Thessalonica that was created by the personal transforming power of Jesus.  This is what is termed the “spontaneous expansion” of the church of Jesus.  And this explosion spread like wildfire.  NOTE that “spontaneous expansion” of the church of Jesus was spread by word of mouth—no TV or radio broadcasts, no podcasts, no internet, no CD’s.  By the way, this is the same today.  The best spread of the message of Jesus and the Kingdom is by word of mouth—a life on life experience.

 

What would you list as the contributing factors for this spontaneous expansion?

 

 

 

 

  1. POWER OF PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION

 

There seem to be, at least, four factors that contributed to the spontaneous explosion—the personal transformation of so many.

 

FIRSTThree men walking together in the name of Jesus.  This is where Jesus shows up.

 

SECONDBy not only words, but with power.  We believe this is the result of Jesus showing up among them.

 

THIRDBy the accompanying work of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit comes and is ever-present to do His work in the hearts of men and women.

 

FOURTHBy a deep conviction—a passion for Jesus and the Kingdom message.

 

When Paul, Silas and Timothy entered into the city of Thessalonica they met all sorts of gentiles with a variety of gods and their corresponding idols.  They stuck to their message of Jesus and the Kingdom and found an amazing response.  And that response spread throughout Asia Minor.  NOTE the emphasis in the gospels on relating the message of Jesus and the Kingdom throughout the gentile, non-Jewish world.  Also, NOTE that the same can be directly applied to our situation today.  The message of Jesus and the Kingdom are not exclusively Christian.  Christianity doesn’t own this message.  This message is universal to all cultures and religious backgrounds.  Check out the context of the following illustrations:

 

èGOSPEL IS ALL-INCLUSIVE

  • John 4:12—Woman at the well…Acts 10:28.  Who was she and what was her religious bent?
  • Mark 7:26—Syro-Phoenician woman.  Where is this?
  • Luke 9:54—Rebuke of James & John.  Why?
  • Mark 6:45-7:23—Trip to Gennesaret.  Who are these people?
  • Matthew 15:30; Mark 7:24-8:9—Trip to Tyre, Sidon and Decapolis.
  • Mark 7:31-38; Matthew 15:29-38—Feeding of the 4000.  Where did this occur?
  • Matthew 8:5—Roman Centurion.  What kind of background here?
  • Matthew 8:10-12—How far will the message reach?
  • Matthew 24:14—How far will the message reach?
  • Matthew 28:18-20—Make disciples of all nations.
  • John 10:16—“other sheep.”  Who are these other sheep?
  • Acts 17:26-27—People from all nations might seek Him.
  • I Corinthians. 9:19-22—Cultural identification.
  • Revelation 5:9—Every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

NOTE that each of the above passages has to do with the good news of Jesus and the Kingdom reaching to the ends of the world—to everyone everywhere.

JESUS AND THE KINGDOM ARE SPREAD THROUGH A FEW WHO HAVE BEEN TRANSFORMED BY THE POWER OF JESUS.

PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION is what is normally called “conversion” and because of a misunderstanding of what this is, the modern missionary movement has attempted to “convert” the natives throughout the world.  This is what we call “doing missionary work the hard way.”  No missionary, no matter how effective, has the power to produce genuine, spiritual transformation.

 

The great modern missionary, E. Stanley Jones, was confounded by this problem and was a quick study on what Jesus would do in other cultures.  He said: “In conversion you are not attached primarily to an order, nor to an institution, nor a movement, nor a set of beliefs, nor a code of action—you are attached primarily to a Person, and secondarily to these other things.

To pass from estrangement from God to be a son of God is the basic fact of conversion.  That altered relationship with God gives you an altered relationship with yourself, with your brother man, with nature, with the universe.”

Recently a blogger by the name of Bill stated this beautifully when he said, “The more we study Jesus’ message the more we’re convinced that it is non-religious.  In fact, until the modern mission movement that began in the late eighteenth century, Christianity mostly moved into culture rather than converting it.  That is, Christian missions more often converted the heart but left much of the culture intact.  For the past 200 years, we have been converting whole cultures to the Euro-American style of Christianity.  What I’m beginning to understand is that the ‘Good News’ requires little change in culture—which often includes a religion.  The gospel message is relational and spiritual, not religious.”

And that relational, spiritual transformation can only happen through the power of Jesus.

Why has the church become a distribution center for religious aspirin?  Most people only go to church at baptisms, marriages and funerals—only to be hatched, matched and dispatched.

 

Why is the church viewed as irrelevant and out of step with the culture?  Why is the church so impotent and dying out in the USA at the rate of 70+ churches per week?  Why is the church not expanding in our country?

 

The building and expansion of little local kingdoms called churches has replaced genuine transformation through the good news of Jesus and the Kingdom.  Jesus mentioned the “church” only twice and spent His entire ministry teaching the principles of the Kingdom.  For the most part, Christianity, though well intentioned, has placed the emphasis in the wrong place and is missing the power of personal transformation.  The emphasis must be upon Jesus and the Kingdom and churches gather in the name of Jesus to teach and practice the Kingdom lifestyle.

MODULE 5

THE POWER OF PERSUASION & THE 21ST CENTURY JESUS MOVEMENT

 

 

In chapter 1 we see the blueprint for spiritual revolution—worldwide.  We learned four factors that were inherent in their approach:

  1. A few men in the name of Jesus
  2. This brought the power of Jesus—“not in words only, but in power.”
  3. The Holy Spirit showed up to empower them and do His work in the lives of those who were listening.
  4. They had a deep conviction—a passion for their message.

 

Now, in chapter 2 we are given some insight into the inner-workings of how they communicated this message of Jesus and the Kingdom.  We would do well to use the same approach today.

 

There are two primary approaches to communication of any kind—persuasion and propaganda.  Persuasion is moving people to action with proper reflection, so that the audience embraces it personally.  Propaganda is moving people to action without proper reflection, just to get people think, do and say whatever the propaganda calls for.

 

Propaganda is the basis for much of the political communication in our world today.  Facts and fairness of information are not part of the process.  Propaganda tweaks the facts to fit the premise being pushed.  Propaganda speaks deductively, telling people what they want them to know.  Thinking is not promoted within the propaganda process.

 

Persuasion is inductive and people-oriented.  Persuasion grapples with the needs of the audience and walks them through a process of thinking the options through to find solutions.  The lists below show the comparison:

 

PROPAGANDA IS DEDUCTIVE   PERSUASION IS INDUCTIVE:

DEDUCTIVE:                                     INDUCTIVE:

-Content-centered                             -People-centered

-Explaining                                        -Experiencing

-Talks down to                                   -Talks with

-Dumps the truth                               -Develops the truth

-Squelches                                         -Stimulates

-Embalming                                       -Engaging

-Discourages                                      -Encourages

-Promotes apathy                               -Promotes application

-Discounts                                         -Affirms

-Prevents thought                              -Promotes thought

-Promotes                                          -Attracts

-Disempowering                                 -Empowering

-Reacts                                              -Embraces

 

 

PERSUASION ANSWERS 4 UNIVERSAL QUESTIONS...These 4 universal questions guide every human interaction.  Nothing is exempt from them.  So, they govern sales, management, marital, parenting, friendship, counseling, speaking, teaching, etc.  These questions are not just good guidelines for your personal interaction with others; they are also guidelines for your life.

 

  1. Can I trust you? This question is most central to all of the others. This has to do with your character.  Are you trustworthy?  The Greek term for this character quality is ETHOS.  ETHOS is your ethical appeal to another.  ETHOS knows the power of individuality.

 

  1. Do you care for me? This question has to do with your community—your relationships. Do you really care for the person or do you care that you look good as you relate to him/her? The Greek term for this relational quality is PATHOS.  PATHOS is your emotional appeal to another.  PATHOS knows the importance of the power of interdependence.

 

  1. Do you know what you’re talking about? This question relates more with your calling. Do you know personally and are you confident about what you’re saying and doing?  The Greek term for this quality is LOGOS.  LOGOS is your logical appeal to another.  LOGOS appreciates and delights in the power of impact—making a difference.

 

  1. Can you help me out with the mess I’m in right now? This question is a personal sensor of what’s really going on with whom you are communicating. The Greek term here is SOPHOS.  SOPHOS understands how important the power of improvement really is.

 

NOTE: When you are able to answer these 4 questions within your relational dealings, then persuasion is inevitable.  Paul, Silas and Timothy incorporated these ingredients as they approached the people who lived in Thessalonica.  Then, the response was phenomenal!

Before we jump into the first letter to the Thessalonians, look up the historical setting in Acts 17:1-9.  How long did they stay there?

 

 

 

 

 

What were the positive results?

 

 

 

 

What were the negative results?

 

 

I Thessalonians 2:1-13...

ETHOS1 You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from any human being, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our prerogatives. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you.

What were the elements of ETHOS (their ethical appeal) in these verses?  List them out...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PATHOSJust as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.  10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

 

What were the elements of PATHOS (their emotional appeal) in these verses?  List them...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOGOS13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.

 

What were the elements of LOGOS (their logical appeal) in these verses? 

 

 

 

 

When they heard the word of God (LOGOS), what was the result?

 

 

 

 

And, why was the result so positive and powerful?

 

 

 

 

When they received the word of God, they accepted it not as a human word (just another religious experience or teaching), but as it actually is—THE WORD OF GOD—which is at work in you who believe.  Because Paul, Silas and Timothy incorporated ETHOS and PATHOS, those who heard from them fully accepted and welcomed the word of God as the real, authentic, and active word of God.  Now, that’s pure persuasion!

 

There are two more verses here at the end of this chapter that are worthy of your attention.  Check it out:

 

19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

 

What are they talking about here?

 

 

 

 

 

This is a powerful and challenging concept.  You see, those in whom you have invested your life—from a little bit to a lot—are your hope, joy and crown.  In some translations it says “crown of rejoicing.”  In other words, you receive the greatest joy out of seeing someone you’ve nudged along continue to grow up spiritually.  They seem to be saying this joy will be complete, when Jesus returns.  And, it seems that Jesus will bring the crown.

 

 

Can you list those God has brought into your life for you to nudge along?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the first two chapters of I Thessalonians we have the blueprint for worldwide revolution:

 

  1. The Power of the Few—Where 2 or 3 are gathered together, Jesus will show up in a powerful and meaningful way.

 

  1. The Power of Personal Transformation—Only Jesus can transform a person’s heart...this is true conversion.

 

  1. The Power of Persuasion—When you approach others with ethical, emotional and logical appeals, people actually embrace the word of God for themselves. The power of persuasion resonates and restores the soul.

 

 

All three of these progress together, when you are committed to advancing the conversation about Jesus and the Kingdom.  Check out this blueprint and evaluate how you are advancing the revolution of Jesus and the Kingdom.

 

What are the ways that you can advance the conversation of Jesus and the Kingdom?

 

MODULE 6

THE FINISHED WORK OF JESUS

 

READ John 17 in one sitting.

 

What have you been taught is the finished work of Christ

 

 

The usual teaching about the finished work of Christ is related to His death on the cross, when He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).  It is true that when Jesus said these words, it marked the finished work of Christ on the cross.  He had finished the sacrifice that was required for the redemption of the world.  However, a few days before Jesus died on the cross, He revealed what His finished work actually was—the reason why He was sent to earth.

 

SO, WHAT DID JESUS SAY WAS THE WORK HE CAME TO COMPLETE?

Jesus is always the best source for us to check things out.  When Jesus prayed to the Father, He prayed for Himself, for His disciples and for us today.  This is really the Lord’s Prayer.  The “Our Father Who art in heaven” prayer is better viewed as the disciples’ prayer, when He was teaching the disciples to pray.

 

 

 

IN JOHN 17:1-5

1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

 

WHO IS JESUS PRAYING FOR?

 

 

Jesus prays for Himself and the mission He was sent to do.  In this part of the prayer He says He has finished the work the Father sent Him to do.  If we knew what the Father sent Jesus to do, then we will know what He wants us to do with our lives in order to walk, think, love and talk like Jesus.  He lets us in on what He was told by the Father throughout this prayer.

 

 

What do you think it means to glorify?

 

 

If you used terms like magnify, reflect, radiate or reveal, then you were right on target.  Here Jesus prays that the Father might glorify Him, the Son, and that He, the Son, may glorify the Father. Jesus was sent by the Father to reflect and reveal who the Father is and now Jesus prays that the Father might make this reflection and revelation even more clear through Him.

 

Who was going to be the giver of eternal life?

 

 

According to Jesus, what IS eternal life?

 

 

Jesus is the giver of eternal life.  But notice He is the giver of eternal life to those the Father has given Him.

 

 

Now, from these first five verses what do you surmise is the “finished work” of Christ?  He says, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”  How would you describe His finished work?

 

 

 

The finished work of Christ has something to do with how Jesus reflected and revealed the Father and eternal life to a few disciples.  The next segment of the Lord’s Prayer gives us more insight into what this finished work was.

 

IN JOHN 17:6-19

6 "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

 

WHO IS JESUS PRAYING FOR?

 

 

 

In this segment of the prayer Jesus prays for His disciples.

 

Who were these disciples?  How were they chosen?

 

 

NOTE the disciples were actually “given” to Jesus by the Father.  What does this mean to you?

 

Who owns those given to Jesus?

 

 

It is very interesting to note that God, the Father, brought all of the disciples to Jesus for Him to invest Himself in them.  And, these disciples belonged to the Father.  This gives us more clarity on what the finished work of Christ was.  It was investing Himself in 11 men to reflect and reveal to them God, the Father.  This is why He is praying for them and is concerned for their welfare.  He says, “I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.”

 

Make a list of what Jesus prayed for these disciples?

 

 

 

 

 

One of the things Jesus prays for is protection of His disciples.  What was the key to the power to protect them and keep them safe?

 

 

 

More than anything the power of Jesus resides in His NAME.  The name of God throughout the Scriptures is most significant and Jesus brings it up in His prayer.

 

In John 1:1-5, 14 we find a most interesting connection that is made by John about Jesus and God, the Father:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was

made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was

the light of all people….  The Word became flesh and made his

dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the

one and only.

 

When Moses was being sent by God to the Pharaoh of Egypt to demand release of the children of Israel, Moses was concerned about his credibility with the Pharaoh.  Check out the exchange:

Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say

to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and

they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to

say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

Exodus 3:13-14

 

Moses needed to know the name of God and God answers with I AM WHO I AM or as it is transliterated from the Hebrew, YHWH (Yahweh).  It means I always have existed and always will.  The Jewish people revere this name so highly that they will not write this holy name, Yahweh.  Even in English today many Jews will spell God like this—G-d.  The rabbis pronounced it with two breaths—Yah and Weh.  They taught that it was like taking a breath, so when you say the name of G-d, it’s as if you’re breathing.  In other words, every time you breathe you are saying the name of God.  I especially like this!

 

Then when Jesus showed up, His name was a very big thing.

 

According to Matthew 1:21, 25, what was this promised Messiah’s name to be?

 

 

 

The name of JESUS was given as a descriptor of His mission.  He will save His people from their sins.  The name Jesus is actually YAHWEH SAVES or YA-SHUA—Jesus.

 

When Jesus disclosed who He was, He often used the Yahweh inference when He said, “I AM.”  NOTE in John 14:5-6 that this I AM is most personally and specifically speaking of Jesus:

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you

are going, so how can we know the way?"  Jesus answered,

"I AM the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to

the Father except through me."

 

 

I AM THE WAY—Without Jesus there is no going.

I AM THE TRUTH—Without Jesus there is no knowing.

I AM THE LIFE—Without Jesus there is no living.

According to Acts 3:6 and 3:16, what was the power of the name of Jesus?

 

 

 

According to Acts 4:12, how unique is the name of Jesus?

 

According to Acts 9:15, what was the mission God told Ananias He had for Paul to do?  How important was the name of Jesus in this mission?

 

 

 

 

What were the three audiences Paul was to speak to?

 

 

 

 

 

IN JOHN 17:20-26

20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

 

WHO IS JESUS PRAYING FOR?

 

NOW, how do you describe the finished work of Christ?

 

 

SO WHAT?

 

  1. How do we follow Jesus’ example of His finished work?

 

 

 

  1. Who has God brought you?
MODULE 7

THE PHOTOGRAPH OF KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

Jesus has come on the scene at a very dark time in history.  The people of God had only one hope and that was the Messiah.  Their hope was not only their soul’s salvation, but political salvation from the Roman domination.

 

So, when Jesus appeared, teaching the Kingdom of heaven has come near, this was a real light in the midst of the darkness.  When Jesus begins He has one primary theme and that is the good news of the Kingdom.

 

Trace this message of the Kingdom in the first seven chapters of Matthew.  NOTE what is being said about the Kingdom in each incident:

 

Matthew 3:2...

 

Matthew 4:17...

 

Matthew 4:23...

 

Matthew 5:3...

 

Matthew 5:10...

 

Matthew 5:19...

 

Matthew 5:20

 

Matthew 6:10...

 

Matthew 6:33...

 

Matthew 7:21...

 

Jesus and His teaching of the Kingdom are on the move and the stir is so dramatic that people are coming from all around to check this new rabbi out.  The question that is in the minds of everyone is:

 

Jesus, how do your teachings differ from what we’ve been taught?

 

This is the question that Jesus answers in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount.  It’s found in Matthew 5-7 and makes it very clear that His teachings are revolutionary.  He begins this manifesto of the Kingdom with a photograph of what KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS looks like.

  1. PHOTOGRAPH OF KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS...

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

Let’s take each of these descriptors of what Kingdom righteousness looks like and attempt to define each one.  There are 8 qualities that are commonly called the Beatitudes.  Each one begins with “Blessed” or to be congratulated or happy is the one who.  The first 4 basically describe your relationship with God.  Your relationship with God is all about BEING—the INTERNAL side of your nature.

 

The first is Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What does “poor in spirit” mean to you?

 

 

“Poor in spirit” is the deepest kind of poverty.  It’s so poor that you have to beg in order to eat.  So in this case poor in spirit is having a right evaluation of yourself before God—your spiritual poverty.  It’s the realization of how needy you really are before God, yet it’s also an understanding that you are not as bad as you could be.  So, being in the flow of Kingdom righteousness means that you will know your need for God and admit it.  Poor in spirit is the opposite of pride.

 

NOTE that those who know their need for God, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

 

 

The second is Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

What does “mourn” mean to you?

 

 

 

 

Blessed are those who “Mourn”?  Are you serious?  Here’s the way I see it.  Once you have come to a right evaluation of yourself before God—knowing how needy you are for Him, then how do you continue this attitude of feeling that neediness?  Well, you need to mourn over whatever it is that keeps you from God.  Identify those things in your life that tend to distract you away from dependence and trust in your relationship with God.  Once identified, entering into an attitude of mourning.  When you mourn, you grieve.  There is no wiggle room for rationalizing these obstacles or allurements that keep you from walking with God.  There is no discounting the seriousness of these things that draw you away from God.  The results are more than you want to pay, so you mourn.

The third is Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

What does “meek” mean to you?

 

 

 

 

 

There is a natural tendency to think of meekness as a form of weakness.  You know, “meek and mild”?  This is an unfortunate understanding of the term.  Meekness is not weakness.  Meekness is a quiet, controlled strength, because of your relationship with God.  It’s an inner strength that doesn’t require boasting or external demonstrations being the strong one.

 

 

 

 

The fourth is Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

What do you think this means?

 

 

 

 

 

Think about this now.  This is a progression of four steps to enhance your personal relationship with God—on the inside.  First acknowledge your need for God, then mourn over that which keeps you from God and then you can settle into a quiet, controlled confidence in your relationship with Him.  These first three are all reflecting upon where you lack.  NOW, the fourth one picks us back up with “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”  Everything that you lack can be filled back up as you hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Jesus is not saying to want righteousness a lot or to make it your highest priority, but to hunger and thirst for it.  It’s wanting it so badly that you have to have it to live!  Wait a minute!  That brings us right back to “poor in spirit”, where you know your need for God.  Now, He is saying here’s what you do about that need.  HUNGER AND THIRST for righteousness (RT), for then and only then will you be filled up or satisfied.

 

But what is this righteousness that demands our hungering and thirsting?  Righteousness is doing the right thing—walking consistently with God’s standard.  Now Jesus is the Righteous One—the one who walked most consistently with God’s standard.  So, essentially hungering and thirsting for righteousness is hungering and thirsting to be more like Jesus.

 

So, the Kingdom man or woman is characterized by…

  • Poor in spirit
  • Mourning
  • Meekness
  • Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness (RT)

 

That’s the internal dimension of Kingdom Righteousness.  Those who will live in the Kingdom of God will be like this.

 

 

NOW, we come to the second 4 beatitudes.  These have more to do with your relationship with others before God—the doing or external dimension of Kingdom Righteousness.  And, each one of these is dependent upon the internal to give meaning to the external expression of Kingdom Righteousness.

 

The fifth is Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

What do you think is meant by merciful?

 

 

 

 

In this first characteristic of Kingdom Righteousness that is primarily toward others, we come to one that you might think would be early on the list—merciful.  Showing mercy toward another means to have a spirit or attitude of forgiveness and compassion—giving attention to the well being of others.  In a world filled with self-centeredness, being merciful will clearly stand out.

 

What keeps you from showing mercy toward another?  Most of the time it is your own pride.  If you are filled with pride, then it’s very difficult to show compassion for another who may be your chief competition.  NOTE that poor in spirit is necessary for you to be merciful.  Whenever you are sensing a problem in being merciful, check out the “poor in spirit” factor in your life.

 

  • Poor in spirit                    èMerciful
  • Mourning
  • Meekness
  • Hungering/Thirsting for RT

 

The sixth is Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

What do you think it means to be pure in heart?

 

 

 

 

 

“Pure in heart” appears to be primarily an internal characteristic.  However, when you trace down how this term is used you will soon discover differently.  In Proverbs 22:11 it says, “The king’s friend is pure in heart.”  In other words, pure in heart is loyal, honest, and trustworthy.  It is an internal quality and is expressed outwardly.

NOTE that in order to be pure in heart you must know how to mourn.  When you are able to mourn over that which keeps you from God, you are then freed and empowered to have a pure heart—pure in heart.

 

  • Poor in spirit                              èMerciful
  • Mourning                                  èPure in heart
  • Meekness
  • Hungering/Thirsting for RT

 

The seventh is Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

How would you describe a peacemaker in our society?

 

 

 

In a world full of stress that is stirred up continually by fears, anger, guilt and shame we are in need of people who will bring peace into our world.  A peacemaker makes peace where there is no peace.  A peacemaker is proactive in making peace.

 

NOTE that in order to be a peacemaker you desperately need an inner strength.  This strength comes from meekness—a quiet, controlled strength that has no need to react, but can be proactive in making peace.

 

  • Poor in spirit                             èMerciful
  • Mourning                                  èPure in heart
  • Meekness                                 èPeacemaker
  • Hungering/Thirsting for RT

 

The eighth is Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

What’s the reason for being persecuted here?

 

 

 

What is the nature of the persecution here?

 

 

 

What is the Kingdom response to be?

 

 

It’s natural to think that persecution is physical torture of some kind.  However, here the persecution described is all verbal—insults, and falsely saying things against you.  The stated reason for this persecution is righteousness.  In other words, they are being verbally abused for walking consistently with God’s standard—for being more like Jesus.  This is why the response is to be to rejoice and be glad.  Literally this means rejoice and celebrate—throw a party, because people are noticing that you are becoming like Jesus.

 

NOTE this is a result of hungering and thirsting for being more Christ-like.  It’s paying off.  The message of Jesus is coming through—through you!  Yet, remember it says that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied.

  • Poor in spirit                             èMerciful
  • Mourning                                  èPure in heart
  • Meekness                                 èPeacemaker
  • Hungering/Thirsting for RT       èRejoice in persecution for RT

 

NOTE one more thing.  Which two of the 8 Beatitudes claim that the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them?

 

 

 

 

The first one—poor in spirit—and the last—persecution for righteousness are the ones Jesus identifies specifically with the Kingdom.  Interesting….

What does this say to you?

 

 

NEXT JESUS DECLARES US SALT AND LIGHT

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

List out the characteristics of salt that you think are in Jesus’ meaning?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

List out the characteristics of light that you think are in Jesus’ meaning?

 

 

 

 

SALT seems to represent the BEING or INNER dimension.

LIGHT seems to represent the DOING or OUTER dimension.

 

SALT was used primarily as a preservative to counteract the decay in meat.  You are to be a preservative to counteract the decay in the world around you.  Salt is quiet and when applied, it is invisible.  LIGHT is obviously by its very nature visible and is used to counteract the darkness.  So, you as the light of the world are to be that counteracting force in a world of darkness.

 

SALT is all about your personal relationship with God—loving God with all your heart.  LIGHT is all about your personal relationship with others—loving your neighbor as yourself.

 

In order to be powerfully effective, SALT must be sensed and LIGHT must be seen!

 

Jesus doesn’t say, “I want you to try to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”  He said, “YOU ARE SALT…YOU ARE LIGHT.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


CHECK OUT HOW SALT & LIGHT WORK WITH THE BEATITUDES:

 

SALTèBeing  (Inner)                     LIGHTèDoing  (Outer)

POOR IN SPIRIT<------------------------->MERCIFUL

* Right evaluation of yourself before            * Showing compassion to

God—WICKEDNESS & WONDER.  Must                  all, but especially to those in

beg in order to eat--desperate!                    need.

 

MOURN<----------------------------------->PURE IN HEART

* Lamenting over all that keeps you             * This is to be a trustworthy,

from God—your WICKEDNESS.                    loyal, friend.

         

MEEK<------------------------------------->PEACEMAKER

* A quiet, controlled, confidence in              * Making peace where there

WONDER of God's creation in your life.                  is no peace.  No need to be a

reactionary, but pro-active.

 

HUNGER/THIRST for RT.<--------------->REJOICE IN PERSECUTION for RT          

* Those who hunger & thirst for                   * When you become more &

righteousness (RT.) will be satisfied.            more righteous (consistent

  1. is walking consistently with God's with God's standard), you'll

Standard—JESUS.                                        be persecuted.  REJOICE!

In ancient literature there is a thought process that underlies and pervades the writing.  I call it the ziggurat method of thinking and writing.  Let’s say you have a listing of 8 Beatitudes—4 and 4.  As you list them out, each one builds on the other.  Yet in a ziggurat there are also equal steps coming back.  So, you progressively go up 4 steps and then back down 4 steps—like a pyramid.  At each step level there is equal value and thinking.  For instance, in a listing of 8, step 1 is equal to step 8, step 2 goes along with step 7, step 3 goes with step 6 and step 4 is connected to step 5.

 

What’s most interesting is that the top level is the most important level of the entire list.  This is the same as an ancient house.  The highest level would serve as the altar.  The top level is often the primary emphasis of the writer.  Check out the 8 Beatitudes in the ziggurat way of thinking...

 

ZIGGURAT...

H—ThàRT Merciful

 

 

                   Meek                              Pure in heart

 

 

Mourn                                               Peacemakers

 

 

Poor in spirit                                                       Persecuted for RT

 

NOTE the similarities at each level:

 

  • 1ST STEP LEVEL—Poor in spirit and persecuted for righteousness—for both it is said that the Kingdom of heaven is theirs.

 

  • 2ND STEP LEVEL—Mourn and peacemakers

What connection do you see between these two?

 

 

  • 3RD STEP LEVEL—Meek and pure in heart

What connection do you see between these two?

 

 

 

Now, the last two are at the highest level and are the most important of all.

  • 4th STEP LEVEL—Hunger and Thirst for righteousness and merciful.

What connection do you see between these two?

 

 

 

 

The most important level has to do with the grand purpose of life—to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.  To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to love God with all your heart.  To be merciful is to love your neighbor as yourself.   This is the peak of it all—the reason for laying it out this way!

 

What are some thoughts that come to mind as you reflect upon the photograph of Kingdom Righteousness?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are some applications or takeaways that you must embrace and incorporate into your own lifestyle?

 

MODULE 8

THE PHOTOGRAPH OF KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

Jesus has come on the scene at a very dark time in history.  The people of God had only one hope and that was the Messiah.  Their hope was not only their soul’s salvation, but political salvation from the Roman domination.

 

So, when Jesus appeared, teaching the Kingdom of heaven has come near, this was a real light in the midst of the darkness.  When Jesus begins He has one primary theme and that is the good news of the Kingdom.

 

Trace this message of the Kingdom in the first seven chapters of Matthew.  NOTE what is being said about the Kingdom in each incident:

 

Matthew 3:2...

 

Matthew 4:17...

 

Matthew 4:23...

 

Matthew 5:3...

 

Matthew 5:10...

 

Matthew 5:19...

 

Matthew 5:20

 

Matthew 6:10...

 

Matthew 6:33...

 

Matthew 7:21...

 

Jesus and His teaching of the Kingdom are on the move and the stir is so dramatic that people are coming from all around to check this new rabbi out.  The question that is in the minds of everyone is:

 

Jesus, how do your teachings differ from what we’ve been taught?

 

This is the question that Jesus answers in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount.  It’s found in Matthew 5-7 and makes it very clear that His teachings are revolutionary.  He begins this manifesto of the Kingdom with a photograph of what KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS looks like.

  1. PHOTOGRAPH OF KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS...

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

Let’s take each of these descriptors of what Kingdom righteousness looks like and attempt to define each one.  There are 8 qualities that are commonly called the Beatitudes.  Each one begins with “Blessed” or to be congratulated or happy is the one who.  The first 4 basically describe your relationship with God.  Your relationship with God is all about BEING—the INTERNAL side of your nature.

 

The first is Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What does “poor in spirit” mean to you?

 

 

“Poor in spirit” is the deepest kind of poverty.  It’s so poor that you have to beg in order to eat.  So in this case poor in spirit is having a right evaluation of yourself before God—your spiritual poverty.  It’s the realization of how needy you really are before God, yet it’s also an understanding that you are not as bad as you could be.  So, being in the flow of Kingdom righteousness means that you will know your need for God and admit it.  Poor in spirit is the opposite of pride.

 

NOTE that those who know their need for God, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

 

 

The second is Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

What does “mourn” mean to you?

 

 

 

 

Blessed are those who “Mourn”?  Are you serious?  Here’s the way I see it.  Once you have come to a right evaluation of yourself before God—knowing how needy you are for Him, then how do you continue this attitude of feeling that neediness?  Well, you need to mourn over whatever it is that keeps you from God.  Identify those things in your life that tend to distract you away from dependence and trust in your relationship with God.  Once identified, entering into an attitude of mourning.  When you mourn, you grieve.  There is no wiggle room for rationalizing these obstacles or allurements that keep you from walking with God.  There is no discounting the seriousness of these things that draw you away from God.  The results are more than you want to pay, so you mourn.

The third is Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

What does “meek” mean to you?

 

 

 

 

 

There is a natural tendency to think of meekness as a form of weakness.  You know, “meek and mild”?  This is an unfortunate understanding of the term.  Meekness is not weakness.  Meekness is a quiet, controlled strength, because of your relationship with God.  It’s an inner strength that doesn’t require boasting or external demonstrations being the strong one.

 

 

 

 

The fourth is Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

What do you think this means?

 

 

 

 

 

Think about this now.  This is a progression of four steps to enhance your personal relationship with God—on the inside.  First acknowledge your need for God, then mourn over that which keeps you from God and then you can settle into a quiet, controlled confidence in your relationship with Him.  These first three are all reflecting upon where you lack.  NOW, the fourth one picks us back up with “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”  Everything that you lack can be filled back up as you hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Jesus is not saying to want righteousness a lot or to make it your highest priority, but to hunger and thirst for it.  It’s wanting it so badly that you have to have it to live!  Wait a minute!  That brings us right back to “poor in spirit”, where you know your need for God.  Now, He is saying here’s what you do about that need.  HUNGER AND THIRST for righteousness (RT), for then and only then will you be filled up or satisfied.

 

But what is this righteousness that demands our hungering and thirsting?  Righteousness is doing the right thing—walking consistently with God’s standard.  Now Jesus is the Righteous One—the one who walked most consistently with God’s standard.  So, essentially hungering and thirsting for righteousness is hungering and thirsting to be more like Jesus.

 

So, the Kingdom man or woman is characterized by…

  • Poor in spirit
  • Mourning
  • Meekness
  • Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness (RT)

 

That’s the internal dimension of Kingdom Righteousness.  Those who will live in the Kingdom of God will be like this.

 

 

NOW, we come to the second 4 beatitudes.  These have more to do with your relationship with others before God—the doing or external dimension of Kingdom Righteousness.  And, each one of these is dependent upon the internal to give meaning to the external expression of Kingdom Righteousness.

 

The fifth is Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

What do you think is meant by merciful?

 

 

 

 

In this first characteristic of Kingdom Righteousness that is primarily toward others, we come to one that you might think would be early on the list—merciful.  Showing mercy toward another means to have a spirit or attitude of forgiveness and compassion—giving attention to the well being of others.  In a world filled with self-centeredness, being merciful will clearly stand out.

 

What keeps you from showing mercy toward another?  Most of the time it is your own pride.  If you are filled with pride, then it’s very difficult to show compassion for another who may be your chief competition.  NOTE that poor in spirit is necessary for you to be merciful.  Whenever you are sensing a problem in being merciful, check out the “poor in spirit” factor in your life.

 

  • Poor in spirit                    èMerciful
  • Mourning
  • Meekness
  • Hungering/Thirsting for RT

 

The sixth is Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

What do you think it means to be pure in heart?

 

 

 

 

 

“Pure in heart” appears to be primarily an internal characteristic.  However, when you trace down how this term is used you will soon discover differently.  In Proverbs 22:11 it says, “The king’s friend is pure in heart.”  In other words, pure in heart is loyal, honest, and trustworthy.  It is an internal quality and is expressed outwardly.

NOTE that in order to be pure in heart you must know how to mourn.  When you are able to mourn over that which keeps you from God, you are then freed and empowered to have a pure heart—pure in heart.

 

  • Poor in spirit                              èMerciful
  • Mourning                                  èPure in heart
  • Meekness
  • Hungering/Thirsting for RT

 

The seventh is Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

How would you describe a peacemaker in our society?

 

 

 

In a world full of stress that is stirred up continually by fears, anger, guilt and shame we are in need of people who will bring peace into our world.  A peacemaker makes peace where there is no peace.  A peacemaker is proactive in making peace.

 

NOTE that in order to be a peacemaker you desperately need an inner strength.  This strength comes from meekness—a quiet, controlled strength that has no need to react, but can be proactive in making peace.

 

  • Poor in spirit                             èMerciful
  • Mourning                                  èPure in heart
  • Meekness                                 èPeacemaker
  • Hungering/Thirsting for RT

 

The eighth is Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

What’s the reason for being persecuted here?

 

 

 

What is the nature of the persecution here?

 

 

 

What is the Kingdom response to be?

 

 

It’s natural to think that persecution is physical torture of some kind.  However, here the persecution described is all verbal—insults, and falsely saying things against you.  The stated reason for this persecution is righteousness.  In other words, they are being verbally abused for walking consistently with God’s standard—for being more like Jesus.  This is why the response is to be to rejoice and be glad.  Literally this means rejoice and celebrate—throw a party, because people are noticing that you are becoming like Jesus.

 

NOTE this is a result of hungering and thirsting for being more Christ-like.  It’s paying off.  The message of Jesus is coming through—through you!  Yet, remember it says that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied.

  • Poor in spirit                             èMerciful
  • Mourning                                  èPure in heart
  • Meekness                                 èPeacemaker
  • Hungering/Thirsting for RT       èRejoice in persecution for RT

 

NOTE one more thing.  Which two of the 8 Beatitudes claim that the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them?

 

 

 

 

The first one—poor in spirit—and the last—persecution for righteousness are the ones Jesus identifies specifically with the Kingdom.  Interesting….

What does this say to you?

 

 

NEXT JESUS DECLARES US SALT AND LIGHT

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

List out the characteristics of salt that you think are in Jesus’ meaning?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

List out the characteristics of light that you think are in Jesus’ meaning?

 

 

 

 

SALT seems to represent the BEING or INNER dimension.

LIGHT seems to represent the DOING or OUTER dimension.

 

SALT was used primarily as a preservative to counteract the decay in meat.  You are to be a preservative to counteract the decay in the world around you.  Salt is quiet and when applied, it is invisible.  LIGHT is obviously by its very nature visible and is used to counteract the darkness.  So, you as the light of the world are to be that counteracting force in a world of darkness.

 

SALT is all about your personal relationship with God—loving God with all your heart.  LIGHT is all about your personal relationship with others—loving your neighbor as yourself.

 

In order to be powerfully effective, SALT must be sensed and LIGHT must be seen!

 

Jesus doesn’t say, “I want you to try to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”  He said, “YOU ARE SALT…YOU ARE LIGHT.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


CHECK OUT HOW SALT & LIGHT WORK WITH THE BEATITUDES:

 

SALTèBeing  (Inner)                     LIGHTèDoing  (Outer)

POOR IN SPIRIT<------------------------->MERCIFUL

* Right evaluation of yourself before            * Showing compassion to

God—WICKEDNESS & WONDER.  Must                  all, but especially to those in

beg in order to eat--desperate!                    need.

 

MOURN<----------------------------------->PURE IN HEART

* Lamenting over all that keeps you             * This is to be a trustworthy,

from God—your WICKEDNESS.                    loyal, friend.

         

MEEK<------------------------------------->PEACEMAKER

* A quiet, controlled, confidence in              * Making peace where there

WONDER of God's creation in your life.                  is no peace.  No need to be a

reactionary, but pro-active.

 

HUNGER/THIRST for RT.<--------------->REJOICE IN PERSECUTION for RT          

* Those who hunger & thirst for                   * When you become more &

righteousness (RT.) will be satisfied.            more righteous (consistent

  1. is walking consistently with God's with God's standard), you'll

Standard—JESUS.                                        be persecuted.  REJOICE!

In ancient literature there is a thought process that underlies and pervades the writing.  I call it the ziggurat method of thinking and writing.  Let’s say you have a listing of 8 Beatitudes—4 and 4.  As you list them out, each one builds on the other.  Yet in a ziggurat there are also equal steps coming back.  So, you progressively go up 4 steps and then back down 4 steps—like a pyramid.  At each step level there is equal value and thinking.  For instance, in a listing of 8, step 1 is equal to step 8, step 2 goes along with step 7, step 3 goes with step 6 and step 4 is connected to step 5.

 

What’s most interesting is that the top level is the most important level of the entire list.  This is the same as an ancient house.  The highest level would serve as the altar.  The top level is often the primary emphasis of the writer.  Check out the 8 Beatitudes in the ziggurat way of thinking...

 

ZIGGURAT...

H—ThàRT Merciful

 

 

                   Meek                              Pure in heart

 

 

Mourn                                               Peacemakers

 

 

Poor in spirit                                                       Persecuted for RT

 

NOTE the similarities at each level:

 

  • 1ST STEP LEVEL—Poor in spirit and persecuted for righteousness—for both it is said that the Kingdom of heaven is theirs.

 

  • 2ND STEP LEVEL—Mourn and peacemakers

What connection do you see between these two?

 

 

  • 3RD STEP LEVEL—Meek and pure in heart

What connection do you see between these two?

 

 

 

Now, the last two are at the highest level and are the most important of all.

  • 4th STEP LEVEL—Hunger and Thirst for righteousness and merciful.

What connection do you see between these two?

 

 

 

 

The most important level has to do with the grand purpose of life—to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.  To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to love God with all your heart.  To be merciful is to love your neighbor as yourself.   This is the peak of it all—the reason for laying it out this way!

 

What are some thoughts that come to mind as you reflect upon the photograph of Kingdom Righteousness?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are some applications or takeaways that you must embrace and incorporate into your own lifestyle?

MODULE 9

THE PRACTICES OF KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

 

Remember, Jesus is sharing how His teachings differ from what we’ve been taught and practiced.  It’s all about righteousness—Kingdom righteousness.  What does it mean to live in the Kingdom of God and live your life in such a way so that it is acceptable to the God of gods?  So far He has presented to us:

 

  1. The Photograph of Kingdom Righteousness (5:1-16)
    1. 8 qualities that move to a different beat altogether
    2. 2 roles—salt (being) and light (doing)

 

  1. The Precepts of Kingdom Righteousness (5:17-48)
    1. KR requires that your righteousness surpasses all
    2. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fill it full

 

NOW, we come to the next section of teaching.

  • The Practices of Kingdom Righteousness

 

1 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' in front of others, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

 

What does Jesus mean by “act of righteousness”?

 

How does this differ from the “good works” He mentioned earlier?

(Matthew 5:16)

 

 

 

 

Jesus offers 3 examples of what He means by acts of righteousness—giving, praying and fasting.  These are the top three religious practices of the Pharisees that were generally accepted by all of the other religious leaders of the day.  Acts of righteousness seem to be special acts that are primarily to be before God, Himself.  Whereas, “good works” that will be seen and will trigger a response of glorifying God, seem to be more acts of love and kindness primarily before others.

 

It’s interesting to note that the practice of giving is the first one mentioned by Jesus.  Jesus will continue to place heavy emphasis upon money and material wealth, knowing that this is easily the biggest issue a citizen of the kingdom will have to deal with—loving it too much, the lure of it almost to a god-status, needing it, the false security that is attached to it, etc.

 

PRACTICE OF GIVING

2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

 

3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

 

What do you think it means “announce it with trumpets”?

 

 

 

 

What is the reward you receive when announcing it with trumpets?

Who rewards you?

 

 

 

 

What is the reward you receive when giving secretly?

Who rewards you?

 

 

 

 

The term “reward” has the idea of a bill or voucher.  You can either receive a voucher from those looking on as you give to the needy in a showy way or you can receive a voucher from God for staying under the radar.

 

The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was mostly in the external mode.  They wanted to be seen by others, especially when they were doing something religious.  They felt lifted up into a higher state or position among the people and among their peers.

 

PRACTICE OF PRAYING

5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

 

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

 

Jesus gives two things not to do and one then to do.  What are they?

 

 

The Pharisees prayed standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.  Jesus is saying, “Don’t do that!”  They also used a lot of words, babbling like pagans, thinking God will hear them.  Jesus is also emphatic on this and says, “Don’t do this!”  The literal meaning of  “babbling” is “to say batta, batta, batta” or to say empty words.  Well, so much for long prayers.

 

Jesus is saying that there is no need for a myriad of words.  There seem to be two reasons for this.  First—many words are ineffective.  If you do all of the talking and asking and never do any listening, then you’ll never know the answers to your questions.  Prayer is more than asking.  Second—God already knows what you need before you ask Him.  What He wants to know is your heart of trust and dependence in Him.

 

Did you know that two-thirds of the prayers in the Bible, the person praying already knew the answer before he prayed?  You see, prayer is a way to bend your knee and bow your heart before the God of gods.  He wants to know that you trust Him with your life.

 

PRACTICE OF FASTING

16 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

 

ASIDE #1—How To Pray:

9 "This, then, is how you should pray:

"'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'

 

ASIDE #2—Forgiveness:

14 For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

The forgiveness is an aside, but a gigantic one.  Talk about motivation to be a forgiving person!

 

The foundational principle here as we examine the practices of Kingdom righteousness boils down to:

THE KINGDOM PRINCIPLE OF PRIVATE FOCUS...

 

NOTE there are, at least, 3 results in practicing Kingdom righteousness according to Jesus’ way:

          FIRST—God will personally reward you.

SECOND—Joy is the result, instead of happiness.

THIRD—God becomes your most significant and powerful team member.

 

PRACTICE THE PRINCIPLE OF PRIVATE FOCUS:

          #1—RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO GO PUBLIC

                  

          #2—REMEMBER THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE

                   [Faithfulness means Successfulness—LONG TERM]

 

          #3—RECRUIT GOD AS YOUR TEAM MEMBER

                   [We don't believe in miracles, we rely on them]

                  

          #4—RESERVE TIME ALONE—JUST YOU AND GOD!

 

 

WHEN YOU PRACTICE THE PRINCIPLE OF PRIVATE FOCUS,

YOU PRACTICE THE PRESENCE OF GOD!

 

AND WHEN YOU PRACTICE THE PRESENCE OF GOD,

YOU'LL KNOW WHERE HE IS AT ALL TIMES!

 

AND WHEN YOU KNOW WHERE GOD IS,

YOU'LL KNOW WHERE YOU STAND!

MODULE 10

THE PRIORITY OF KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

  1. The Photograph of Kingdom Righteousness (5:1-16)
    1. 8 qualities that move to a different beat altogether
    2. 2 roles—salt (being) and light (doing)

 

  1. The Precepts of Kingdom Righteousness (5:17-48)
    1. KR requires that your righteousness surpasses all
    2. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fill it full

 

  • The Practices of Kingdom Righteousness

èTHE PRINCIPLE OF PRIVATE FOCUS

 

  1. The Priority of Kingdom Righteousness

 

After an understanding that Kingdom Righteousness includes the principle of private focus—some things are only to the Lord alone, we now come to what Jesus says is the priority of Kingdom Righteousness—your stuff and how you handle it.

 

There are many nerves in the human body, but none so sensitive as the nerve that goes from the brain to the checkbook.  We go to school to learn about how to make money and build up our treasures.  We spend 40-60 hours per week earning it.  Countless thoughts are spent on planning how to handle it best.  We spend hours in shopping malls and online in order to spend it.  We dream and scheme to find ways to acquire more of it.  We argue over it.  Despair over losing it has led to suicide and an array of self-destructive actions.  Greed continues to be a leading factor in crime.  And, the absence of money leads to despair and depression.

 

This is why money and wealth occupy most of Jesus’ teachings—2 out of 3 parables—and over 2000 verses in the Bible make reference to it.  It’s on our minds more than most anything else.

 

There are also lots of wealthy characters in the Scriptures—Abraham, Isaac, Solomon, Sheba and Job.  The women of who were followers of Jesus did much of the underwriting of Jesus’ ministry.  Women like Phoebe served in leadership within local assemblies.  And, one of the most celebrated of Jesus’ parables—the parable of the talents—demonstrates that the Lord loves the practice of investment what you have.

 

What is Jesus saying about money and wealth in Luke 16?

 

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Luke 16:10-13

 

 

 

Jesus is making a strong statement regarding a spiritual connection between how you handle your money and how you handle your spiritual wealth.  If you are trustworthy in handling worldly wealth—money, then you prove yourself trustworthy enough to be entrusted with God’s true riches—spiritual riches.  Given this as a spiritual truth, then the discussion of money and wealth is most important.

 

There is a challenging statement that we have enjoyed over the years: An unexamined life is not worth living.  Without personal examination it’s too easy to be overcome by one of the following:

 

  1. Insecurity—too many followers of Jesus talk about standing on the rock of ages, but their actions speak about clinging to a piece of driftwood.

 

  1. Inaction—too many followers of Jesus are into hot-tub mentality rather

than a weight room for action.

 

  1. Incomplete—too many followers of Jesus make Jesus Lord in general while they are lord of the specifics.

 

  1. Ineffective—followers of Jesus are everywhere, but are not what they should be where they are.

 

Which of these has been your greatest struggle?

 

 

 

 

Jesus first contrasts two treasures and two masters:

 

TWO TREASURES

19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

How would you define and/or describe the two treasures?  And, how does each treasure translate into your personal life?

 

 

 

  1. Treasures on earth…

èDefinition:

 

 

 

èTranslation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Treasures in heaven…

èDefinition:

 

 

 

èTranslation:

 

 

Jesus continues...

 

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

What you treasure leads the way to your heart.  Your treasure is what you value most.  And, what you value most becomes your passion.  Eventually, this treasure becomes your god.

 

Then Jesus presents an interesting visual...

 

22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

 

What does Jesus mean here about the eye?

 

It seems to me that the eye is illustrating your life’s focus.  It’s the lamp of the body.  When it is focused on the right thing—Kingdom Righteousness, you are considered healthy.  This healthy focus produces inner health to the body as well.  When you are properly focused, you experience a physical and psychological fullness throughout your entire being.  This special focus on Kingdom Righteousness is all about heavenly treasures.

 

On the contrary, when your eye is focused on earthly treasures away from Kingdom Righteousness, your entire physical and psychological being is filled with darkness.

 

TWO MASTERS

24 "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

 

Jesus continues His contrast between earthly and heavenly treasures.  As He continues, Jesus makes it even more serious than the focus of your eye.  Focusing on earthly treasures (away from Kingdom Righteousness) is actually becoming a servant of money and wealth as your god.  Focusing on heavenly treasures (everything to do with Kingdom Righteousness) is actually becoming a servant of God.

 

What do you think Jesus means when He says, “You cannot serve both God and Money?”

 

 

 

 

 

This statement takes us back to the Ten Commandments where God says: “You shall not have other gods before Me.”  There are three possible meanings to the phrase “before Me”:

 

  1. INSTEAD OF ME—This is making anything a substitute for God.  It’s like taking on a counterfeit.
  2. IN ADDITION TO ME—This is a smothering of God with all of your others gods.  It’s a practice of convenience.
  3. IN FRONT OF ME—This is more of a snubbing of God—right in His face.  It’s like taking a 2nd wife while still married to the 1st—a covenant breaker.

 

Which of these is the greatest personal struggle for you?

 

 

 

You see, God wants to be your God...

  1. ENTIRELY—No substitute allowed.
  2. EXPLICITLY—No snubbing allowed.
  3. EXCLUSIVELY—No smothering of Him with other gods.

 

Anything less, you not only risk something, you risk everything!

 

 

NEXT, Jesus gives some practical application of His teachings about two treasures and two masters.  This is why He says THEREFORE...

 

FIRST—STOP WORRYING ABOUT EARTHLY TREASURES

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

 

What is your relationship with worry?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus gives some great logic about the futility of worrying.  NOTE how He outlines worry into two areas...

 

  1. Don’t worry about your LIFE (Eating & Drinking)
  2. Look at the birds...

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

  1. Worry is useless...(going in circles—preoccupation)

27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 

 

  1. Don’t worry about your BODY (clothing)
  2. Observe the lilies...

28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

  1. Worry is faithless…(thoughts controlled by something else)

30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

 

Since you can’t handle your life better than God can, then why not let Him.  Replace your wasted effort of worrying earthly treasures with seeking His Kingdom Righteousness of heavenly treasures.

 

SECOND—SEEK HIS KINGDOM OF HEAVENLY TREASURES

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

 

In light of what Jesus is teaching, what does this mean to you today?

 

 

 

The principle of primary focus means a single-mindedness

toward God which requires that you stop your worry & seek

His Kingdom Righteousness...and, He’ll give you His full, undivided attention.

3 PRACTICAL STEPS for your consideration:

#1—Release your earthly treasures.

 

#2—Refocus on your heavenly treasures.

Only one life, twill soon be past;

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

         

          What are you doing that will count forever?

 

         

#3—Relax...rest in God’s hands.

          Hold on to these three truths in order to relax:

1-God is interested.

 

                   2-God is interested in me and mine.

 

                   3-God is more interested in me and mine than I am.

MODULE 11

THE PERSPECTIVE OF KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

  1. The Photograph of Kingdom Righteousness (5:1-16)
    1. 8 qualities that move to a different beat altogether
    2. 2 roles—salt (being) and light (doing)

 

  1. The Precepts of Kingdom Righteousness (5:17-48)
    1. KR requires that your righteousness surpasses all
    2. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fill it full

 

  • The Practices of Kingdom Righteousness (6:1-18)

èTHE PRINCIPLE OF PRIVATE FOCUS

 

  1. The Priority of Kingdom Righteousness (6:19-34)

èTHE PRINCIPLE OF PRIMARY FOCUS

 

  1. The Perspective of Kingdom Righteousness (7:1-12)

The problem here is that this passage seems to say no judging at all.  At least, this is how it is most frequently interpreted.  Yet other passages throughout the Scriptures seem to imply that judging or making a “judgment call” is a necessity.

  • In Matthew 18 Jesus says where 2 or 3 agree on something, it will be established.  In other words, these 2 or 3 make some sort of judgment call on a matter, discerning whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, wise or foolish.
  • In the letters to the Thessalonians we are told that if a person doesn’t work, he is not to eat.  We are urged to “mark that man” who doesn’t work.  That requires a judgment call.

 

There seem to be two kinds of “judgments” in the Scriptures.

  1. Condemnation judgment—reserved for God only.
  2. Conclusion judgment—making a judgment call—our responsibility.

 

In the case of “discrimination”, condemnation judgment treats people differently; conclusion judgment sees a difference in people.

 

Look up I Kings 3:9.  What term is used there for a “judgment call”?

 

 

 

Discrimination has taken on a very ugly connotation in our society.  However, in the process of protecting people from discrimination we have lost a most crucial dimension of wisdom—DISCERNMENT.

 

NOTE when discernment is absent...

  1. Complacency—everywhere
  2. Commitments are shaky—over and no
  3. Confusion—right/wrong...rights
  4. Conforming—going along with the crowd...non-thinking
  5. Contempt—dysfunctional baggage...free-floating anger/frustration
  6. Corruption—lowering of the bar

NOTE when discernment is abused...

  • Condemnation-judgment is the norm.
  • All who make conclusion-judgments are made villains.
  • All who are in disagreement are blackened.
  • Anger reigns.
  • Truth suffers—If you don’t know the truth, you make up the truth!
  • Tolerance is glorified.
  • No one can be offended.
  • Propaganda is the norm; truth is very relative.

NOTE when discernment is activated...

  • Empowers everyone
  • People of commitment are people of their word
  • Clarity of what’s right or wrong, good or bad, wise or foolish.
  • Individuality that produces interdependence—lessen the herd.
  • Lessens the anger levels—appreciation of differences.
  • Raises the level of morality.

 

DISCERNMENT is more than IQ; it connotes character.  It’s more than gathering data.  And, it’s more than knowledge through experience.  Discernment has a two-fold definition:

1) To DISTINGUISH between right & wrong, good/evil, wise/foolish!

2) To DETERMINE the course of your life!

 

There is always a fork in the road and decisions must be made in order to do good, right and wise.  And there are many decisions along the way to do the will of God.

In the Sermon on the Mount message Jesus is warning us not to judge as the Pharisees do—condemning everyone who is not part of their club.  So, in the spirit of what we see in the difference between condemnation judgment and conclusion judgment, it seems Jesus is teaching us how to judge properly by the use of conclusion judgment.  In these verses Jesus presents what seems to be four practical steps in judging properly.

 

STEP #1—JUDGE WITH THE PROPER SPIRIT—(7:1)

1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 

What do you think He saying here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you make a conclusion judgment about another person, there are two realities you will face.

First—You will be judged in return.

Second—You will be judged according to the same measurement by which you judged them.

 

Can you illustrate this in your own experience?

 

STEP #2—JUDGE WITH THE PROPER STARTING POINT—(7:3-5)

3 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from the other person's eye.

 

Have you experienced this sort of thing?

 

 

 

 

The favorite indoor sport of religious institutions is to confess the sins of others.  We tend to talk to ourselves while judging the world, when we ought to be judging ourselves and talking to the world.  If you don’t start with yourself, you lack the credibility to be helpful to anyone else.  And, if you don’t start with yourself, you will find yourself ineffective to see clearly how to judge another (to take the speck out another’s eye).

 

STEP #3—JUDGE WITH THE PROPER SCREENING—(7:6)

6 "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

 

Have you experience this?

 

 

 

STEP #4—JUDGE WITH THE PROPER SOURCE—(7:7-11)

7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened. 9 "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

 

What does James 1:2-8 have to do with this step?

 

 

 

The idea here is to keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.  Then, wisdom will be given to you, you will find it and the door will be opened for you.  Then Jesus ends this section with the most quoted verse in the Bible.

 

12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

 

Why is it that this verse is so universally accepted as a standard?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does another verse come to mind that is the basis for this verse?

 

 

 

 

THE PERSPECTIVE PRINCIPLE OF KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS REQUIRES THAT YOU BE A JUDGE.

 

MODULE 12

THE PERSEVERANCE OF KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

  1. The Photograph of Kingdom Righteousness (5:1-16)
    1. 8 qualities that move to a different beat altogether
    2. 2 roles—salt (being) and light (doing)

 

  1. The Precepts of Kingdom Righteousness (5:17-48)
    1. KR requires that your righteousness surpasses all
    2. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fill it full

 

  • The Practices of Kingdom Righteousness (6:1-18)

èTHE PRINCIPLE OF PRIVATE FOCUS

 

  1. The Priority of Kingdom Righteousness (6:19-34)

èTHE PRINCIPLE OF PRIMARY FOCUS

 

  1. The Perspective of Kingdom Righteousness (7:1-12)

èTHE PERSPECTIVE PRINCIPLE REQUIRES THAT YOU BE A JUDGE

 

 

 

  1. The Perseverance of Kingdom Righteousness (7:13-29)

 

“From THE MESSAGE”

"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

 

"Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.

 

"Knowing the correct password—saying 'Master, Master,' for instance— isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'

 

"These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

 

"But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards."

 

When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.

 

TWO GATES—TWO WAYS

13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

 

GATE #1—This gate is described in the following ways:

  • SMALL GATE—NARROW WAY (ROAD)
  • FEW WILL FIND IT
  • LEADS TO LIFE

 

 

GATE #2—This gate is described in the following ways:

  • WIDE GATE—BROAD ROAD…many-laned expressway
  • MANY GOING THAT WAY
  • LEADS TO DESTRUCTION

 

What strikes you about these two gates?

 

 

 

 

 

What is taught about God’s ways and man’s ways?

 

Psalm 1…

 

 

Proverbs 14:12…

 

 

Proverbs 21:2…

 

 

Proverbs 1:20-33…

 

 

Proverbs 3:5-10…

 

 

JESUS—John 14:6...

 

 

 

 

TWO PROPHETS—TWO TREES

15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

 

21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

 

ACTS 20:29-31…Check this out.

 

II Corinthians 11:3-15…

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles." I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers and sisters who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

 

And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such persons are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

 

What do you think is meant by the following?

  • Another Jesus

 

  • Different spirit

 

  • Different gospel

 

 

 

ANOTHER JESUS speaks of the same Jesus of Nazareth, but having this Jesus do and say things He didn’t do or say.  It’s tweaking Jesus a bit.

 

DIFFERENT SPIRIT is a totally different spirit than you have already received.  What spirit have you received?  The Holy Spirit.  So, a different spirit is an unholy spirit, even demonic.

 

DIFFERENT GOSPEL is a totally different gospel than you have already accepted.  What would that look like?  Maybe it’s that the gospel you received is by grace and the different gospel is by the opposite of grace—works and performance.  We’ll deal with this more extensively in a subsequent study.

 

TWO BUILDERS—TWO FOUNDATIONS

24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

 

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

 

 

This seems to be all about being and doing—faith and works.  What does James have to say about this balance?

 

James 2:14-26…What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if people claim to have faith but have no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

 

But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. You see that people are justified by what they do and not by faith alone.

 

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

 

 

What is the common theme in the lives of the following?

 

  • Moses—Deuteronomy 30:19…

 

  • Joshua—Joshua 24:15…

 

  • Jeremiah—Jeremiah 21:8…

 

  • Elijah—I Kings 18:21…

 

 

SO WHAT IS JESUS SAYING TO YOU WITH THESE 3 IMAGES?

 

NOTE: Could it be that the 2 ways, the 2 trees and the 2 foundations are reflecting the following?

  1. I AM THE WAY—“Enter the narrow way”
  2. I AM THE TRUTH—“Watch out for the false teachers”
  3. I AM THE LIFE—“Build your house on the rock—to save your life”

SO WHAT?

 

Check out the real Lord’s prayer where Jesus is praying for His disciples and also for those who will believe in Him through His disciples.  THAT’S US!  NOTE what the theme of the prayer is.  I’m reading out of The Message in John 17:13-26…

 

13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. 20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." Did you get that?  Jesus will do anything to bring His disciples into a oneness with Him and with the Father…to give us complete and full joy…enlisting the Father’s help in protecting us…sending us out to bear witness of Jesus and the Father…praying that we might all be one heart and one mind in the same way the Father and the Son are one.  And whenever this oneness is experienced, the world has the opportunity to believe.

 

Jesus gives us the privilege of being dynamically related to Him and the Father in a most unique oneness ever imagined!  We are invited into a relationship of complete and full joy, acceptance and unconditional love—“that the Father’s love might actually be in us as Jesus is in us.”

 

So, if we benefit so much from this oneness and the world is attracted to the Lord through oneness, what is the big problem about oneness?  Why are we so separated from one another?  What makes followers of Jesus so reticent to come into a oneness with other followers of Jesus?  Why is it that this oneness theme seems to be just the opposite of the condition of believers today?  How can we all be in the Kingdom, bowing in obedience to the King and yet be operating in little kingdoms that are out of sync with one another?

 

Well, what do you think?  Who benefits most from keeping us all separated?  Some possibilities might be…

  • The Evil One stands to gain the most out of such a disunity.
  • Others who have a stake in this are those who are “in charge of” the little kingdoms and are desperately fighting for a measure of loyalty to keep meeting “their” budgets, building “their” membership, and justifying “their” existence “for the Lord.”
  • Still others are held together by the pride of membership, the comfort levels of music, style of worship and prayer, teaching styles, long-standing traditions and family history.

Here’s something to chew on…what if Jesus came here to visit us and made it perfectly clear that He wanted you to fellowship with other believers in your neighborhood, whether they are Bapterians, Presbytists, Metherans, Episcolics, Buddhists, Hindu, Jewish, Moslem, agnostics or whatever?  What if He commanded you to have fellowship with them and learn to love them and come together into a oneness around Jesus?  WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

 

Well, this is precisely what Jesus did 2000 years ago…now what are you going to do in response?  JESUS UNITES US…EVERYTHING ELSE DIVIDES US!

 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  JESUS

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