With fall and football season right around the corner, our “Game Plan” series will focus on Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount as set forth in the Gospel of Matthew. In the game of football, teams often have to make changes, time outs need to be taken, and the playbook needs to be studied and implemented. There are many analogies and comparisons one can make between the game of football and the Christian life and to life within a faith community. Could there be an invitation from God in your life to “get in the game” and "get out of the stands” regarding your faith? Jesus’ message in the Sermon on the Mount does not necessarily line up with the typical “American dream” we often keep in the forefront of our heart and minds. Are you ready to hear and put into practice the “game plan” Jesus has for you? If so, join us this week and weeks following for “Game Plan.”
As you go through this series, consider what our culture typically puts into hashtags for when we are blessed. #blessed often refers to a new house, or kids getting in a certain school, or other material and external things. These things certainly are gifts and blessings from God, but contrast our culture’s definition of what #blessed is with the things Jesus teaches and “coaches” in his Sermon on the Mount. This week we start with #blessedarethepoorinspirit. With such a hashtag, are you willing to “get in the game” with Jesus?
INVITATION: The Christian life is often called the “upside down kingdom.” The Sermon on the Mount is certainly a good example of why that is. As you begin this series, are you willing to pray for God to open your heart, soul and mind to considering a new or different “playbook” for your life?” Could you need to take a “time out” and, with God’s help, reassess your life and its distractions, priorities, and direction?
MONDAY: Matthew 5:-1-2: The Greek word for “poor” carries some of the following implications: lacking, helpless, no power, in need of life. These are all things we typically want to NOT be identified with or experience in our lives. We don’t typically think of them as being #blessed or advantageous. Yet Jesus begins his sermon with this and says such things are blessings. Are you honest about when you are poor in spirit or do you deny it? Are you willing to be honest and vulnerable with others - perhaps within your faith community - when you are poor in spirit? How can you invite God into the areas of your life where you are “poor in spirit?”
Pastor Adam suggested a prayer rhythm for what becoming poor in spirit might look like. It is: 1) I can’t do it; 2) God, you can do it; 3) God, please help me. The remainder of this week’s Bible study will focus on these prayer steps. Are you willing to become “poor in spirit” and honest with God this week?
I CAN’T DO IT:
TUESDAY: Psalm 127:1: Vanity is an old fashioned word, but full of meaning. It can refer to “egotism” and “self absorbed” but it can also mean “futility” and “hollowness.” In vain we do things on our own and for our own benefit - we build our “houses” without the Lord. Our culture values independence and self-sufficiency, but the spiritual life calls us to nourish ourselves by putting down deeper roots that rely on Jesus. Daily immersion in Scripture, prayer and a faith community helps us check our tendency toward vanity. In what areas of your life might you need to adjust your “play book?” Where are you trying to do things under your own steam and without a “coach?” Where is God inviting you to let go of control and learn humility?
WEDNESDAY: Exodus 14:14 and Isaiah 30:15-16: How might you lay down your independence and ask Jesus to “fight” for you today and this week? What might it look like to “rest” in Jesus and HIS strength?
GOD, YOU CAN:
THURSDAY: Phil. 1:6 & Phil. 2:12-13: Oswald Chambers writes: “You have to work out with concentration and care what God works in; not work your own salvation, but work it out, while you base resolutely in unshaken faith on the complete and perfect redemption of the Lord….GOD is the source of your will, therefore you are able to work out [God’s] will.” Pastor Adam also quoted A.W.Tozer: “A low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils. A high view of God is the solution to ten thousand temporal problems.” Could your view of God be too small? Which of these quotes resonates in your life right now and challenges you in your faith?
GOD, PLEASE HELP ME:
FRIDAY: Psalm 18:6: What is going on in your life right now where you can 1) admit you cannot do it, 2) acknowledge that God CAN do it, and 3) ask for God’s help in your distress and confusion (as this Psalm models).