Love Your Enemies

This is not so much a hard saying to understand, but it is certainly a difficult one to live out, “Love your enemies” and “Turn the other cheek” (Luke 6:27-36). Let’s get to know each other a little bit more: Who was your favorite villain on Saturday morning cartoons, or TV show? Why has Jesus made this shift in the object of love (Leviticus 19:18)? What are we to do to our enemies? Is that a noun or a verb, maybe an emotion or action? How can Luke 6:29-30 reinforce bad behavior? What is Jesus’ point (Luke 6:31, 36)? Jesus assumed that anyone who attempted to live by his values would get in trouble with the world’s crowd. To be the salt of the earth … Continue reading

Judge Not, Lest You Be Judged

This may be one of those passages that prevents us from confronting a sinning brother, so let’s seek to understand it. Here is a question to get us started: “What is Jesus calling for in this passage?” no judgment? self-judgment? fair judgment? divine judgment? The religious leaders were guilty of exercising a false judgment about themselves, other people, and even the Lord. Their false righteousness helped to encourage their false judgment. It may be why Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount with a discussion on judgment. There really are three judgments: Our judgment of ourselves (Matthew 7:1-5) Our judgment of others (Matthew 7:6-20) Our judgment by God (Matthew 7:21-29) Our passage today brings us to the first section, judgment of ourselves. This is the … Continue reading

Calling Someone a Fool

Here are a few questions to get us thinking today: How did your parents settle disputes between you and your siblings when you were a kid? What was the best advice you have been given on how to deal with anger? In this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers that when someone is angry with his brother, saying “Raca,” he is answerable to the court, and one who calls him a “fool” will be in danger of the fire of hell (Matthew 5:21-22). What legal case has especially cause your attention? How are murder and anger related? What new standard of right and wrong is Jesus creating? Does Jesus say that anger leads to murder? NO, he says anger IS … Continue reading

Jesus Cursing the Fig Tree

We don’t often find Jesus cursing anything, so this is an odd saying, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again (Mark 11:12-14, 20-26) – the cursing of the fig tree. The account of Jesus cursing the barren fig tree is found in two different gospel accounts. First, it is seen in Matthew 21:18-22, and then also in Mark 11:12-14. While there are slight differences between the two accounts, they are easily reconciled by studying the passages. Like all Scripture, the key to understanding this passage comes from understanding the context in which it happened. In order to properly understand this passage, we must first look at the chronological and geographical setting. For example, when did this occur, what was the setting, and where … Continue reading

Jesus is the Prince of War?

Jesus makes an incredible statement, “I didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword or division” (Luke 12:49-59, Matthew 10:32-39). So, is Jesus the Prince of War? Introduction and Opening Questions: What is the title for Jesus that has special meaning for you? What situation in your life highlighted that title for you? What emotions does this verse bring into your heart? How does the cost of following Jesus (Matthew 10:34-39, Luke 12:49-53) reflect what you have experienced in life? How do you reconcile the two views of Jesus (peace-giver, conflict-starter)? What has Christ cost you in terms of relationships? Including family, friends, co-workers. Conflicted Mission? (John 3:16-17) What was Jesus’ mission all about? His mission was not of condemnation but of salvation. Without salvation, … Continue reading

To Be Like Jesus

Have you ever considered what it means to be like Jesus? Is that our goal in life? Jesus’ statement in Matthew 10:25 implies that His disciples will be like Him. To His first-century followers, that included the prospect of persecution and martyrdom. But what else does it mean to “be like Jesus,” especially for Christians in today’s culture? I see eight portraits of Jesus in Matthew’s eyewitness account that give us some clues: To be like Jesus means to accept our roots (Matthew 1:1–17). To be like Jesus means to engage the world’s pain and struggle (Matthew 1:18–2:23). To be like Jesus means to commit ourselves to other believers, no matter how “weird” they appear to be (Matthew 3:1–17). To be like Jesus means to … Continue reading

You All Are Dogs

Here is another saying of Jesus that makes you do a double-take, “did he really just call her and her people dogs?” To get started, in all the talk about Christian unity, what are things that still separate us? Different beliefs or practices. Worship style (regular, charismatic, liturgy, reading, silent). Usually we are a gathering of cliques, each devoted to its own members, race, style. Remind yourself of the mission of the church. We are to continue the mission of Christ and spread his story. His last command should be our first concern (Matthew 28:19-20). He assumed his followers would be going… “as you are going,” make disciples. In the context of everyday life, how can we be involved in making disciples? Did Jesus really … Continue reading

Give Up Everything?

This study is on the hard saying of Jesus about having to give up everything (Mark 10:17-31) Mark 10:21. This is an amazing illustration of evangelism? Is this the Jesus method of evangelism? With what method are you most familiar? Which method appears to be most effective? What is the difference between sharing your story and sharing his story? Imagine this evangelism encounter as a dream come true. The man point blank asks how to be saved! Jesus does not just hand him a tract and get him to pray the sinner’s prayer. Jesus does not correct the man’s theology, good works don’t save. This man had not come to Jesus to hear him say that keeping the commandments was the way to eternal life … Continue reading

Writing Your Testimony

Command six in this WIN or Infant stage is on evangelism (click here for the overview chart). Here is a list of what we have covered up to this point… Invitation – Come and See (John 1:35-51) Salvation – Repent and Believe (Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 4:17, Luke 4:14b-15) Fear is a Barrier to Faith (Luke 12:4-12) Greed is a Barrier to Faith (Luke 12:13-21) Baptism is that First Step of Obedience (Matthew 28:19-20) Evangelism Comes from the Joy of Our New Found Faith (John 4:3-42) If you intend to be effective in evangelism, you need to be clear on your personal testimony. Your testimony is the story of how you began your spiritual journey with Jesus. This is good old fashioned way to open the … Continue reading

The Best-Laid Plans

“The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry” Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase. It speaks of how (as human beings) we make our well-intended plans, utilizing the best of our knowledge and ability, but then things don’t always turn out as we had hoped. The phrase was made most famous by John Steinbeck in his 1937 novel “Of Mice and Men,” which came from a line within the Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1785, called, “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough.” According to legend, Burns wrote the poem after finding a nest full of mice, in his field, during the winter. ” On a personal note, as a parent, how many times have … Continue reading