How to Walk Circumspectly

Today we are looking at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, “How to Walk Circumspectly” from Matthew 7:13–27. That is not a word we often use but it does describe very well the topic for today. Circumspectly is defined this way: 1. watchful and discreet; cautious; prudent: circumspect behavior; 2. well-considered: circumspect ambition. Here are the commands that we find in the gospels: Matthew 4:17 – repent, Matthew 7:13 – enter, Matthew 7:15 – beware, Matthew 11:28 – come, Mark 1:15 – repent, believe, John 6:27 – do not work, John 12:35 – walk, John 12:36 – believe. It is also illustrated in the book of acts: Acts 9:2, 16:17, John 14:6, Acts 19:9, 23, 22:4, 24:14, 22. It is also amplified in … Continue reading

How to Avoid Being Judgmental

Human nature encourages us to pay far more attention to the shortcomings of others than to our own faults. We tend to evaluate others on the basis of a lofty standard of righteousness that somehow is not applicable to our own performance. The disciples of Jesus had been highly influenced by the leadership style of the Pharisees, who didn’t bring the best out in people. They were critical, picky, and thought the worst concerning people. Their ministry didn’t offer hope, but condemnation. Their criticism was spawned out of self-righteous pride. They were condescending and didn’t believe in what God could do or was doing in the lives of people. The larger context of this passage is about proper relationships. The unChristian study revealed a lot … Continue reading

How to Set Priorities

Our passage for today is Matthew 6:25-34 – the commands are DO NOT BE ANXIOUS (Matthew 6:25, Luke 12:22), LOOK (Matthew 6:26), OBSERVE (Matthew 6:28), SEEK (Matthew 6:33, Luke 12:31), CONSIDER (Luke 12:27, 29), DO NOT SEEK, DO NOT KEEP WORRYING (Luke 12:29), DO NOT BE AFRAID (Luke 12:32). Worry distracts from the Word (Matthew 13:22, Mark 4:19, Luke 8:14, 10:41). See also Philippians 4:6, 2:20, 1 Peter 5:7, 1 Corinthians 7:32, 33, 34, 12:25, 2 Corinthians 11:28). Group Questions: 1. What would you do with the money if you won $1 million in a lump sum, or $50,000 per year for 20 years? 2. What does your answer reveal about your priorities? (Matthew 6:21) 3. Do you think that long-term savings, retirement plans, insurance … Continue reading

How to Test Your Motives

This lesson is all about our motivation in ministry. Why do we do the things we do for God? Do we serve him because of what we get out of it? Or because he deserves it and it is the right thing to do? How to Test your Ministry Motives: (Matthew 6:1-18) What is a Motive? According to Webster, it is something that prompts a person to act in a certain way or that demonstrates volition; the goal or the object of one’s action; inner hunger that promotes a person to action. As you read the Bible you notice that God is always concerns about our motives. (Proverbs 16:2, 20:27, 1 Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 26:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 1 Corinthians 15:32, Philippians 1:15-18). The Competition … Continue reading

The Law of Non-Retaliation

How to respond to those who hate you (Matthew 5:38-48) One of the oldest laws in the world was based on the principle of equal retaliation. It was called lex talionis and dates back as far as Hammurabi (eighteenth-century B.C.). It is found three times in the Old Testament (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21). The original intention was to restrict unlimited revenge. It was understood as (only) an eye for eye and (only) a tooth for a tooth. Further, it was never intended as an excuse for individual retaliation; it belonged in the law court and was allowed by a judge. Jesus now changes limited retaliation to non-retaliation. Members of Christ’s kingdom do not resist an evil person (someone who may wrong them). Like … Continue reading

Making Realistic Commitments

The Key Passage (Matthew 5:33-37) – You shall not make false vows, but fulfill your vows to the Lord. LET YOUR STATEMENT BE (present imperative) yes or no, anything beyond that is evil. Jesus Condemns Oaths (Matthew 5:33–37) Some have understood Jesus’ prohibition of oaths to be universal, but Jesus Himself submitted to oath (Matthew 26:63), and Paul invoked God as his witness in Romans 1:9. God Himself takes an oath so that we might be encouraged (Hebrews 6:17). Jesus is addressing a narrow and misleading legalism that required a specific oath to make spoken words binding. The implication of such an approach to honesty is that we do not need to be truthful except under oath. Jesus demands an integrity of speech as though everything … Continue reading

How to Maintain Sexual Purity

We have now come to the fourth command in this Adult Stage or Equip Level of disciplemaking, on how to avoid sexual indiscretion and maintain sexual purity. Our passage comes from Matthew 5:27-32. We will find these commands: TEAR it out, THROW it (Matthew 5:29), CUT it off, THROW it (Matthew 5:30), CUT it off, THROW it (Matthew 18:8), PLUCK it out, THROW it (Matthew 18:9), CUT it off (Mark 9:43, 45), CAST it out (Mark 9:47). It is illustrated in the book of Acts (Acts 15:20, 29, 21:25) and amplified in the epistles (LUST = Romans 1:24, 6:12, 7:7-8, 13:14, Galatians 4:16, 24, Ephesians 2:3, 4:22, Colossians 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:5, 2 Timothy 2:22). Group Questions: 1. Have you ever struggled with impure thoughts? … Continue reading

Supernatural Church

Here are my notes for the final session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my small group, quotes from the book, and other observations. Remember these are notes, and not a complete article on the topic. Please purchase the book to support the author. One of the most striking similarities that most churchgoers share with the non-Christian world is their ability to complain about the way the church operates. 1. If you could create the perfect church, what would it look like? Could that perfect church be accomplished through human talent and strength? Or would it require the power of the Holy Spirit? We could duplicate most of our successful churches by assembling the right group of talented, winsome people. … Continue reading