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Beatitudes

Beatitudes

The Sermon on the Mount in Mt. 5-7 follows 4:25 with “great crowds.”

Matthew 5:1-2 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them…

Jesus separated His disciples for a conference on why folks are blessed or not.  Halfway through Chapter 7, the masses return and Jesus goes back to teaching salvation.

Chapters 5 -7 are progressive: 5 – recognizing and isolating sin; 6 – doing good things with wrong motives; 7 – pride and judging others.

The progression is: Hearing the Word (intake) = knowledge but doing the Word (output) = wisdom

The beatitudes are also progressive, from taking in to doing outwardly:

Matthew 5:3-12 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

These are paradoxical statements on how the Kingdom of Heaven invades to turn the world upside down to make it right side up.


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Becoming A Reproductive Believer

Becoming A Christ-Centered, Reproductive Believer

A disciple is an obedient follower of Jesus Christ who is actively engaged in reproducing disciples by teaching obedience to everything Jesus commanded.  A disciple operates in self, family, congregation, neighborhood and every other sphere of influence given by God.

God gives each and every believer tools to make disciples. Here are ten for you to work on your sphere of influence in self, family, congregation, neighborhood, and beyond:

  1. Love.  It should be clear to every believer that love reigns supreme as a disciple-making tool. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” 
  2. Prayer. We faithfully pray for the work of teaching obedience to our self, our family, our congregation, and our neighbor.  “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray.” 
  3. Truth.  We share biblical truth with our self, our family, our congregation, and our neighbor.  Jesus explained, “If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed, and you will know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
  4. Righteousness.  We identify the blatant and subtle sins in our lives and know that, while God loves us, He hates the sin barrier that blocks true communion between us. However, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Righteousness through confession and repentance increases our disciple-making effectiveness.  
  5. Faith.   “According to your faith it will be done,” Jesus promised.  Faith in the truth always calls for the work of putting its principles into practice.  
  6. Obedience.  “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.'”  To disciple our nation, we begin with teaching obedience in myself, my family, my congregation, and my neighborhood.  
  7. Wisdom.  The biblical definition of wisdom is knowing and doing what is right.  Knowledge by itself is a dusty, lifeless book on a mindless shelf.  Doing by itself is unfocused energy expended without direction or effective result.  The active expression of wisdom is knowing and doing what is right in the sight of God.  
  8. Work.  In prayer Jesus said to his heavenly Father.  “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4). The work Jesus had just completed was that of making 12 disciples.  Lovingly and patiently He had invested three years in the task of teaching His disciples to obey all His commandments.     
  9. Commitment.  I am only one, but I am one – I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  What I can do, I ought to do.  What I ought to do by the grace of God – I shall do!  
  10. Accountability.  “By their fruit you shall know them.”  (Mt. 7:20)  Our Heavenly Father is holding each believer accountable for making disciples of himself, family, congregation and neighborhood.  A disciple is an obedient follower of Jesus Christ who is actively engaged in making disciples by teaching obedience to everything Jesus commanded in self, family, congregation, neighborhood and beyond.

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Parables an Overview pt.2 of 3

Parables – An Overview (Part 2 of 3)

We saw in Part 1 that the definition of parable is “to place beside; to cast alongside”. Vine’s: “signifies a placing of one thing beside another with a view to comparison”. It’s an earthly story with a heavenly meaning, a picture of life set in the mind for instant playback. The heavenly is revealed in the earthly, Divinity in humanity, the invisible in the visible, and the unknown in the known. 

And the purpose of the parables was: 1) to conceal from the hard of heart; 2) to reveal to disciples “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven”.  God will only reveal the secrets of His kingdom to humble and trusting persons who acknowledges the need for God and for his truth.

The parables will only enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, allowing them to challenge us. If we approach them with the conviction that we already know the answers, we, too, may look but not see, listen but not hear or understand. If we listen with faith and humility then each of us will understand what the Lord wants to speak to our hearts.

Jerome, an early church father and biblical scholar remarked: “The marrow of a parable is different from the promise of its surface, and like as gold is sought for in the earth, the kernel in a nut and the hidden fruit in the prickly covering of chestnuts, so in parables we must search more deeply after the divine meaning.”


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Parables Overview 1 of 3

Parables – An Overview (Part 1 of 3)

As Jesus went about preaching and teaching, He frequently used parables. More than 1/3 of His recorded teaching is found in them as are His most often remembered sayings.

Definition of Parable – a transliteration of the Greek “parabole” (para-bow-LAY) meaning “to place beside; to cast alongside”.  Vine’s: “signifies a placing of one thing beside another with a view to comparison”, thus, a yardstick, a story placing one thing beside another for the purpose of teaching. 

A parable is usually a story or narrative drawn from nature or human circumstances from which spiritual lessons can be found. It’s is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.  It is a picture of life, used by Jesus as a way of recording on the mind for instant playback. The heavenly is revealed in the earthly, Divinity in humanity, the invisible in the visible, and the unknown in the known.  Christ as Creator made the things in His parables and defines their truest meaning. When He says, “Consider the lilies”, He then shows the thought of God. 

The purpose of the parables was to reveal to the truth-seeker but to conceal from the hard of heart.


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Servanthood Volunteering Apart From Ego

Servanthood – Volunteering Apart From Ego

Jesus gave the supreme example of servanthood when He washed His disciples’ feet, showing an act of serving someone else in something dirty and devoid of honor. Then He said:

“I have given you an example that you may do as I have done to you.”

We do not serve only because there is much work to do, but because servanthood is being conformed to the image of Jesus and His godly character. This is a goal of discipleship, willingness to serve in the dirty details. We can’t be like Him without it.

Most people think of ministry as a combination of service and ego fulfillment but ministry means “service”.  God wants to separate our service from our pride and ego.

The only way this can be done is to serve someone else’s vision. You will never know if your pride is separated from your “ministry” until you serve someone else’s. It is the necessary instrument of separation.

Luke 16:12 If you are not faithful in what belongs to someone else, who will give you what belongs to you?

Most people who come to “help” at a ministry, say, “God has given me this vision or plan. Will you bless it?” However, the language of a true servant’s heart speaks differently. It says simply, with no strings attached, “How may I help you?”

The biblical pattern for fulfilling God’s vision and calling in life is: vision – death of a vision – rebirth of a vision. Joseph spent 13 years in jail before his started to be fulfilled. Moses had a vision of saving Israel but spent 40 years in the desert before it was fulfilled! 


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Will We Have a Culture of Accountability?

WILL WE HAVE A CULTURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY?

Pastor Jim has been teaching all year on the qualities and disciplines of a growing believer.  He recently spoke on accountability and servanthood, qualities that are needed for each of us as individuals and all of us as the local Body of Christ. 

In the corporate life of the Body, you can draw a link between the results we are achieving and the level of accountability we see manifested throughout the organization. Knowing how to create and sustain a culture of accountability for most groups is a great challenge. Groups that are operating with a high level of accountability are organizations that have been able to:

  • Clearly define their results
  • Create alignment around those results
  • Instill accountability needed to deliver those results
  • Sustain change

How do successful organizations enable their people to take ownership for delivering on their intended results? Finding practical answers to how to create higher levels of ownership often drives better results and increases the value and growth of the group. To be truly effective in today’s environment, leaders must be able to help find ways to create higher levels of ownership and joint accountability for achieving key results.


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Prayer On Three Fronts

Prayer on Three Fronts

Prayer is a supernatural means of dealing with all that is non-conforming to the kingdom of God.  It is a congenial dialogue with the Lord in accord with our relationship to Him as a loving Father but it is also the enforcement of His will by war.  This spiritual warfare brings declaration of His revealed will and establishment of His divine government. 

Regarding the aspect of war, prayer is multidimensional in scope, and contends with the world, the flesh and the devil.  It isn’t only about satan and his diabolical spirits.  It is multidimensional, both personal and public (interior and exterior).  Prayer is necessary because sin is not passive.  It is an active, aggressive force that wars against us.  Therefore, we must declare war against it on three fronts, the world, the flesh and the devil. 

Prayer that is private is for sin which is in us and prayer that is public is for sin which is around us.  This is also why we need the Holy Spirit within and also upon us. 

1 John 1:8-10 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Do not think we should be occupied with sin and the devil.  Rather, we should be:

1) …preoccupied with a loving God and acknowledging His grace and His power: 

2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

2) We should be preoccupied with His eternal purpose: the growth of the Body of Christ.

3) We should be preoccupied with His eternal love for the lost and His redemption of mankind.


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Catalysts for God’s Blessing

Channels and Catalysts for God’s Blessing:
The Biblical Basis for Advocacy

By Dr. Sarah J. Melcher Department of Theology Xavier University

A compelling story about advocacy of one human being for another is the tale of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi finds herself in a precarious position after the death of her husband and her two sons. She herself expresses the hopelessness of her situation. In the days of biblical Israel, a widow without the support of a male kinsman was in a very vulnerable situation indeed. In a society in which men were the common property owners and in an economic system which depended almost exclusively on agriculture on family land, how would a widow provide for herself? Orpah and Ruth were also in a precarious situation, but they had the option of remaining in Moab, with their own blood kin, and making another marriage. Both apparently were still young enough to bear sons and provide for their future security. Clearly Naomi thought that staying in Moab was the best choice for her daughters-in-law. Ruth, however, decides to take an unexpected path. She commits herself to Naomi and throws in her lot with her mother-in-law. Though Ruth’s choice may entail a more risky situation for her, she commits herself to the relationship with Naomi.

The text is not explicit about Ruth’s motivation in returning to Judah with Naomi. The first chapter of the book of Ruth tells us only that she wept at the idea of leaving her and that unlike Orpah she clung to Naomi and refused to leave her.


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Achieving God’s Purpose and Destiny for Your LIfe

Achieving God’s Purpose and Destiny for Your Life (Vision)

Vision is revelation or mental sight of the revealed will of God for you – a clear mental image of a preferable future, imparted by God – based on accurate understanding of God, self and circumstances.  It is foresight with insight from heaven, not self-determined destiny.  It is living by design instead of default. 

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.

“…cast off restraint” is literally, “are made naked.”  That is, without Divine guidance, people “perish”. They walk contrary to the will of God and lose their covering.

Notice: Jesus saw the future, Abraham saw it, John the Revelator saw it, and you must see it (have vision).  Paul wrote Timothy: “Fulfill your ministry…I’ve fulfilled mine.”

John 8:38 I speak what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”

You do have an inner picture of the future and you do act on it!


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Developing Godly Character

Developing Godly Character

When the seed of God’s Word is implanted in the heart, faith starts to grow. This is the indis­pensable starting point of the maturation process. Then out of faith there follow seven stages of development until the Christian character of love is fully formed. Peter lists these successive stages:

2 Peter 1:5-7 But also for this very reason, giving all dili­gence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

In secular Greek, the word “virtue” was applied to excellence in any area of life. It should not be restricted solely to moral character although it certainly includes that.  A teacher who comes to Christ should become an excellent teacher. A nurse should become an excellent nurse. A Christian businessman or woman should excel in his or her field of business. There is no room for sloppiness or laziness in any area of the Christian life.


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