We often carry around measuring sticks on our Christian journey. How good is good enough? What is the minimum amount we can give or do in order to be pleasing to God? Many of us subconsciously try to find the minimum acceptable standard in areas of our Christian life. Perhaps it's prayer. Or time in scripture. Or maybe it's how often we go to church or give financially. The truth is, many of us measure our Christian life and believe that if we’re “good enough” (whatever that is), then all is fine. The Sermon on the Mount puts any type of measurement standard to rest. Jesus points out that any attempt at measurement is completely missing the point. It's all about your heart and your heart stance. What is in the deepest recesses of your heart? Are you willing to give Jesus access?
Jesus teaches his most famous sermon to a hodge-podge group of people in the book of Matthew. Some were believers and followers, many weren’t. He makes it clear that following God is more than a “do” and “don’t do” list. In fact, his teaching probably made people think He was suggesting they live upside down and backward. Perhaps that’s where the terminology “the upside-down kingdom” comes from? The Christian journey, because it is so counter-intuitive and counter-cultural, is often referred to as the upside down kingdom. Are you serious enough about following Christ to feel the uncomfortableness of living upside down and backwards? Can you trust your life and relationships to God’s way and teaching, or do you still buy into what the culture believes and teaches because it “feels” better? Join in this week as we continue with our study of Jesus’ most famous sermon known as The Sermon on the Mount.
INVITATION: This week might be challenging because Jesus calls us to standards that are NOT the world’s standards. They weren’t the standards of the crowds in the Sermon on the mount. Oh….and another thing: these standards apply to our treatment of our enemies and people who persecute us as well. It's not just for our friends and family. You might feel like you're living upside down and backwards, but you might even begin to feel like you’re trying to breathe under water. Are you willing to seek what Jesus has for you this week? Even though it's hard and might not feel natural? According to the Sermon on the Mount, there will be blessing for you in it. Do you believe that?
MONDAY: Matthew 5:13-16: We are to live lives that glorify God. We are to let our light shine. How often do you consider what might - or might not - bring God the most glory as you live and make decisions in your life? Chances are most of us might list all kinds of considerations as we make a decision, and never think about what might glorify God the most. How can you make this a spiritual consideration and practice in your life and in your decisions? Is there a way you might try this today?
TUESDAY: Matthew 5:17-18: Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He came in order for us to realize we can’t and will never be “good enough.” Have you accepted Jesus’ blood on the cross on your behalf? Because of what He did on the cross, there is no condemnation. Are you ready to quit trying to be “good enough” and accept the free gift of Jesus? He is our only “measuring stick.”
WEDNESDAY: Matthew 5:38-39: Jesus is challenging self righteousness in these verses. Are you willing to spend some time and prayer about what is in the deepest parts of your heart? Could there be revenge? Retribution? Anger? Our natural flesh tendency is to want retaliation. How might you focus on being on the OFFENSE instead of playing on DEFENSE this week? Pray! You are not alone and don’t have to do it alone.
THURSDAY: Matthew 5:40-47: It's one thing not to retaliate. It's an entirely different thing to actually be kind and go the extra mile for those who have wronged us. Our current culture considers it a “right” to be offended. It has almost become trendy. However, Jesus calls us to lay down our rights. As you look back on life, how often has “standing on your rights” been helpful for you? God has another calling. It is the same calling that was on His life and it is a higher calling. He promises to be with us on the journey. Is there something you can let go of this week in terms of your “right"? One of the 12 step slogans is “let go and let God.” Perhaps that might become a prayer as you seek to put into practice the Sermon on the Mount teaching this week?
FRIDAY: Matthew 5:48: One thing that set Jesus’ teaching so radically apart from that of the religious leaders is that the religious leaders emphasized what people should NOT do while Jesus stressed the positive nature of our calling. What we SHOULD do. It’s not enough to refrain from killing our enemies; we are called to love them and pray for them. Think about your own shortcomings and how you might counteract each with with a positive virtue. For example, instead of being critical, learn to encourage; instead of hoarding wealth, learn to be generous, and so on. You are invited to ask God to help you go beyond merely desiring change and to be transformed into his likeness. Perhaps you can even pray for Him to bring a situation to you this week?
SATURDAY: Pastor Adam quoted Roger Staubach in keeping with our “Game Plan” theme: “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.” How can you go the extra mile this week? How can you look for ways to respond and react for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ?