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The Sermon on the Mount - Special lessons by Andrew Roberts

 

This week we are highlighting the fourth lesson of this series - "What a Disciple's Life Really Looks LIke" - taken from Matthew 7:1-27. We encourage you to go to the link described below and listen to this lesson.

This week we are highlighting the fourth lesson of this series - "What a Rich Life Really Looks LIke" - taken from Matthew 6:1-18. We encourage you to go to the link described below and listen to this lesson.

This week we are highlighting the third lesson of this series - "What a Faithful Life Really Looks LIke" - taken from Matthew 6:1-18. We encourage you to go to the link described below and listen to this lesson.

 

This week we are highlighting the second lesson of this series - "What a Righteous Life Really Looks Like" - taken from Matthew 5:13-48. We encourage you to go to the link described below and listen to this lesson.

We just completed a series of lessons on the Sermon on the Mount. Andrew Roberts presented powerful and practical lessons on the teaching of Jesus. If you were unable to attend, you can listen to the audio recordings of these lessons. The first lesson is entitled "What a Blessed Life iReally Looks Like" (select "special series') and focuses on the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12. You will benefit in listening to it.

Why Did Jesus’ Teaching Impress People?

Jesus is often called the “master teacher” – with good reason. We could just as easily describe Him as the Master Teacher. He was the Master – although a compassionate and loving one – and He was the consummate Teacher. He asked questions in order to get His hearers to think carefully about their beliefs and their actions. He used illustrations that all could understand and identify with.

 

Above all, He taught differently. Whereas the Jewish scribes and rabbis would quote the Law and refer to it as the authority, Jesus quoted the Law and bowed to its authority, but when He spoke, He spoke as one who possessed authority Himself. Consider His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. After telling His hearers that their righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees (Matthew 5:17-20), He proceeded to cite different occasions where the Jews had decided to follow the law, but the manner in which they did it actually violated the purpose of the law. Several different times in the rest of the chapter (Matthew 5:21-48), He compares the law with His own teaching. He starts with “You have heard that it was said” and then counters with “But I say to you …”.  He was not offering His opinion about the law – He was teaching as if He Himself had authority to explain what it meant.

 

And He did possess that authority. His miracles demonstrated that He did possess supernatural power. They underlined His claim to be God’s Son, thus, one from whom this law had originally been delivered. He had helped give the law with authority and respected that authority.

 

The result is noted at the end of chapter seven. When Jesus finished, it records that the “crowds were astonished at his teaching.” Why? Because He spoke as one who had authority, not as one of the scribes (Matthew 7:28,29). Study the Sermon on the Mount and you will be astonished at the authority Jesus possesses.

 

We have a special set of lessons planned on this great sermon. Andrew Roberts of Tampa, FL will be with us on August 6-8 to explain this sermon and help us see how it applies to us. We invite you to attend any of those services.  

What was Jesus’ Purpose?

 

When a new political party is elected and put in power, it is almost expected that they will enact legislation designed to change the policies of a previous administration from the former party. That is what they campaign on. That is what people expect that vote for them. Ancient kings used to do the same thing. A new king, sometimes a descendant from the very same family, would overturn the policies of the previous ruler.

 

It is no surprise, then, that when Jesus appeared on the scene and began teaching principles that were different from the leading religious party known as the Pharisees that many wondered if He was trying to abolish the law to which the Jewish people had adhered for centuries. Yet, Jesus made it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that His purpose was not to destroy but fulfill. He states in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not to come to abolish but to fulfill them.”

 

Some think of the Old Testament as an archaic law of antiquated principles that were put in place but really had no lasting purpose beyond the coming of Christ. Jesus’ statement makes it clear that He kept every part of the law (one of the reasons He could serve as a perfect sacrifice for sin) and that the law had a goal. It was realized in the coming of a Messiah – Jesus – who satisfied all its demands and by His sacrifice provided the blood of a perfect sacrifice that could atone for man’s sin. God always intended for His law to be meaningful and obeyed. When Jesus came, He made a covenant by which our sins could be forgiven when we failed.

 

There are great principles in the Sermon on the Mount. We have a special set of lessons planned on this great sermon. Andrew Roberts of Tampa, FL will be with us on August 6-8 to explain this sermon and help us see how it applies to us. We invite you to attend any of those services.  

What is the Sermon on the Mount?

 

Chances are you have heard of the Sermon on the Mount. This title refers to a sermon that Jesus preached in Galilee on a mountain. It is found in the Gospel of Matthew and covers three chapters (5-7). This sermon provides as complete a picture of what He came to accomplish as any section of Scripture in the gospel accounts.

 

Its teaching was revolutionary in its day, because it provided a different perspective on what it meant to keep God’s law. The religious scribes and the Pharisees had made a science of understanding the Old Testament, but in the process they had removed the heart of its message. Jesus’ teaching provided the true mission of what God’s law was all about. In addition, He revealed that He was the fulfillment – the goal - of its teaching.

 

There are parts of this sermon that will be familiar to almost any person – religious or not. “Turn the other cheek” or “do unto others as you want them to do unto you” or “judge not that you be not judged.” Each of those can be explained or applied, but they make even more sense in the context of the original sermon – stretching across all three chapters.

 

We have a special set of lessons planned on this great sermon. Andrew Roberts of Tampa, FL will be with us on August 6-8 to explain this sermon and help us see how it applies to us. We invite you to attend any of those services.  

Why Should We Delight in God's Law? Psalm 1:2

 

The first psalm sets the tone for all the psalms that follow. It pronounces a man to be “blessed” if he avoids the counsel of those opposed to God. Our world is filled with those who believe they know better. Their starting point is human wisdom. Man (alone) is the source of knowledge. Our observations, our research, our experiences form the basis of knowledge and wisdom. The psalmist provides a contrast. The blessed man begins with God and His knowledge. His delight is in God’s word. The parallel thought is he meditates on it day and night.

 

Many think that meditation is freeing our minds of all thoughts. The writer here points to a mind that focuses on what God has revealed – His law, His ways and His purposes. Knowing what He wants from me is the basis for how I live my life. I fill my mind with His will and it guides me in my thoughts, the way I live and the way I interact with others. Two different ways of living life – one is blessed, the other is not.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. We are studying the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

 

 

How can a man be blessed? Psalm 1:1

 

The first psalm begins “Blessed is the man …”. This is at the beginning of a “book” that has 150 psalms, or songs of praise. So it’s worth asking what does it mean to be “blessed”? In addition, how can I be “blessed?”

 

This psalm was possibly put at the very beginning of the psalms to serve as an introduction to all of them. Many of the psalms are attributed to David, who was first a shepherd in his family and then chosen by God to be the King of Israel. They seem to describe periods in his life where he praised God or asked for help and deliverance when being pursued as a fugitive by Saul. Other psalms were written by Moses, Solomon and individuals who might have conducted worship and praise in the temple. Together they express great praise and admiration for Jehovah God. In addition, there are lamentations about the evil in the world and cries for help from God for deliverance.

 

So this first psalm recognizes from the very beginning that a man can be blessed. The idea is more than being “happy”, though that might rightly describe the outward feeling of a blessed man. It describes the inward condition of one in terms of well-being and rightness. It is possible to be at peace with oneself as well as with the God of the universe.

This psalm describes two “ways” to approach life. The first is to listen to men. This is described as the “counsel of the wicked,” the “way of sinners” and the “seat of scoffers.” In other words, those who disobey God and His counsel are more than ready to offer their advice and ridicule what God and His word stand for. The psalmist declares that a man is “blessed” if he refuses to (figuratively) walk, stand or sit with those who approach life this way.

Whose counsel do we listen to? The psalms urge us to focus on God.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. We are studying the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

 

 

Where did Scripture come from? (from June 23)

 

Peter wrote of seeing Christ transfigured and hearing God’s voice proclaim Him as the Son in whom God was pleased. That was the eyewitness testimony provided by one of Jesus’ own apostles. Peter proceeds to state that this testimony agreed with the prophetic writing of Old Testament Scripture. God had given His people a divinely written record of His actions and promises.

 

What was the origin of this Scripture? It did not originate in the mind of men. Peter proclaims that it was not from someone’s own interpretation. Then he declares the true origin of Scripture. It was not produced by the will of man. Man did not invent it or devise it. Instead (vs.21) men spoke from God as they were carried along (or borne along) by the Holy Spirit. The word came from God, who revealed it to men by His Holy Spirit. When these men spoke and prophesied, they did so as God enabled them. Their message was from God, not man.

 

The gospel narrative meshed perfectly with the testimony from Old Testament Scripture in order to provide solid evidence concerning Jesus. He lived upon the earth. He gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sin. He invites us to hear His voice and follow. Will we?

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. We are studying the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

What did Jesus’ eyewitnesses see? (from June 16)

 

There are those who imagine Jesus to be the figment of someone’s imagination. Or at best, He was a well-intending man who was deluded into thinking He was someone special – but He wasn’t.

 

Peter disavows us of such thinking. He claims that Christ has authority that is founded in historical reality. He wrote that the apostles were not following “cleverly devised myths” when they spoke of the coming of the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 1:16). This coming seems to refer to Christ’s return, when all men will be judged.

 

Peter cited the transfiguration as evidence of Christ’s reality. Peter, James and John had gone with Jesus up a high mountain. There Jesus shone like the sun. Moses and Elijah appeared with Him and God’s voice declared “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” They saw Jesus changed. They heard God’s voice. They witnessed with their own eyes the heavenly glory that Jesus possessed.

 

This is the kind of eyewitness evidence that the gospel accounts and Peter’s written testimony provide. It is the certainty of credible men who declared wondrous actions concerning someone who claimed to be God in the flesh. God does not force us to believe. Instead, He offers us evidence to consider. He wants to persuade us to trust in Christ as the Divine Being who gave Himself for us so we can be saved.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. We are studying the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

Why did Peter give us reminders? (from June 9)

 

All of us need reminders. We put reminders on our cell phones. We remind each other of important events. Sometimes we need reminders to remember our reminders. Why? Because we forget. We get busy and distracted and some appointment we make a month away is easily forgotten when the date approaches – if we don’t remind ourselves.

 

When Peter wrote his second letter to Christians in the first century, he knew that he wasn’t going to be around much longer. He wrote them that the Lord had made it clear that his death would be soon (2 Peter 1:14). As a result, he wanted to remind brethren of things they needed to know. They would need to know them after his “departure” (vs.15). He wanted them not to forget the qualities that he had just urged them to add to their lives that would strengthen and encourage them. Through God’s wisdom, these reminders were written down and preserved, not only for those first century Christians, but for us.

 

Why? Because we forget. We need to be reminded. Those qualities are still important today. We still need to guard against being idle and unfruitful. We can still grow in the grace and knowledge of God if we remember what is important. If we give diligence to do these things. God provides us with reminders.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. We are studying the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

What does diligence produce?

 

Diligence is important in anything we do. Whether or not we accomplish a goal depends on the energy, enthusiasm and effort that we make. It can be the difference between success and failure. Talent and skill play a part, but it is often the person who keeps going and refuses to quit that succeeds. That’s true in academics, art or athletics.

 

But it also applies in our spiritual relationship with God. When Peter wrote to Christians in the first century, he urged them add different qualities to their faith. Virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. But what determines if these qualities are ingrained in our character? Is it just a matter of luck? Is it because some people have “it” and others don’t? Has God already determined whether or not we can succeed?

 

Notice Peter’s exhortation in verse 10. He writes “therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fail.” According to Peter, our eagerness and zeal will determine if we accomplish what God chose us to do. Our spiritual development is directly tied to the effort we make. That is not to suggest that we earn or deserve the rich blessings God has in store for us, but Peter promises that we won’t fail if we exercise diligence. How diligent are we in the efforts we make?  

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. Next Sunday we begin a study in the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

Is Your Spiritual Vision 20/20?

 

Have you ever had your eyes checked? We probably all have. Reading the eye charts and having our eyes dilated isn’t necessarily a fun thing to do, but it is critical in order to find out if we need help with our vision. My experience has been that vision gets worse (starts to blur) as I get older – and keep staring at computer monitors. Sight is essential to almost everything we do. Without it, we are impaired. It affects our ability to drive, to see what is in front of us and to read. As a result, we take care of our eyes.

 

Peter uses a similar analogy when he describes spiritual sight. In 2 Peter 1:9, he writes and tells Christians that if they lack the qualities they are to add to their faith, they are so nearsighted that they are “blind.” In this case being nearsighted means looking only at the here and now. Ignoring an eternal existence that awaits us after death. He warns that they have forgotten that they were cleansed from their former sins.

 

It is a glorious blessing to receive the forgiveness of sins when we are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3-4). That action is the beginning of a journey, not the end of our destination. A cleansed life enables us to grow and progress in Christ, developing the character He displayed when He lived upon the earth. Peter urges all of us to look closely at ourselves and add the qualities we need in order to develop and mature spiritually. It will dramatically improve our spiritual vision!

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. Next Sunday we begin a study in the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

What Do These Virtues Prevent? 

 

Peter lists seven different qualities or “graces” we are to “add” to our faith.  They are virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. Why are these important to make a fixture in what we do? He continues in verse 8 “for if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, faith is not like the gas can we fill up then store in the corner of the garage until we need some for our lawnmower. It is more like the battery in our cell phone that gets low and needs to be recharged.

 

Our confidence in Christ can increase or decrease. It is challenged each day. By adding these qualities to our faith, it is strengthened. It makes us effective and fruitful. We are productive. We accomplish good things in our lives. We grow closer to the Christ that we serve because those are qualities He exhibited on the earth. We are more like Him. We exhibit a spirit that influences those around us. That is why we exist – to please Him.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. Next Sunday we begin a study in the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

Why is Love the Crowning Virtue?

 

The last of the virtues Peter tells us to add to our lives is “love” (2 Peter 1:7). Why is love so important? Why is it most important?

 

Love is the cornerstone of what we are because it is part of God’s nature. God is just and He is righteous, but He is also a God of love. This love seeks our best interests. He loves us even though we are alienated from Him. It would be like a soldier on the battlefield showing good will to his enemy who shoots at him and tries to destroy him. If we are of God and God demonstrates this love, we must do the same.

 

Brotherly affection is an interest we have in others because they have an interest in us. But love rises beyond even this. It is a quality we possess even when someone else does not do good to us. Jesus evidenced this attitude on the cross. There were those who opposed Him during His entire ministry, resulting in His death. Yet He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). To possess and demonstrate love toward others involves action – benevolence – toward others, even our foes. When we love, we are like God. Easy? No. Important? Yes.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. Next Sunday we begin a study in the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

Why is Brotherly Affection Important? 

 

When Peter nears then end of his list of virtues that we are to add to our life, he includes brotherly affection. The word “brotherly affection” is translated from the Greek word from which we get our word Philadelphia (the city of “brotherly love”).

 

Why is this virtue important? You might just think of the impression that we get from Philadelphia sports fans when we watch their fans at a game. They are notorious for being short-tempered and apparently have no hesitation in booing their own players if they don’t perform well. Of course, they love a winner (who doesn’t?), but the fuse seems short if a player or team does not perform well.

 

That might help us understand Peter’s teaching. He has written these Christians and told them they need to build on their faith. They are to strive for moral excellence, become more knowledgeable, exercise discipline in their personal life, be patient and devoted. It would be easy with such a list of qualities to focus on attention on self rather than others. It could also be a temptation to admire personal efforts but discount those of others. Peter teaches us to develop an affection for our brethren. That tie that binds us together is important. When there are difficulties, others can provide encouragement and help. It is mutual – we can support others that face hardships. Instead of criticizing and tearing down, Christians with brotherly affection develop a sincere desire to help each other and become more like Christ himself. It is a wonderful virtue to work on.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. Next Sunday we begin a study in the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

Why Is Steadfastness Necessary?

 

Sometimes when we have a “project” to complete, everything falls right into place. Maybe we fix a leak in the kitchen sink or paint the spare bedroom. More often, something “simple” is more complicated than we thought, takes longer, requires two or three extra trips to Home Depot and leaves us frustrated. Patience is required.

 

If we need patience when we fix a leak, we certainly need patience to live this life the way God intended. We live in a broken world – sin has seen to that. People don’t always do what they should. Unexpected situations arise. Sometimes we disappoint ourselves. What we need is steadfastness.

 

Peter wrote first century Christians and told them to add steadfastness to self-control (2 Peter 1:7). Its importance is evident when you look at the list of virtues thus far. There is virtue – trying to be the best based on God’s standard of right or wrong. Knowledge is essential. Self-control means that we discipline ourselves to pursue God’s way of living. But disappointments will arise. There will be shortcomings, in ourselves and in others. It is essential that we don’t give up. We stay with it. We don’t get discouraged when something doesn’t turn out just like we expected. That is steadfastness. It’s required in most efforts we make, and it is required in living the life of a Christian. It is something we can add to our character when we recognize that God is patient with us and cares about us. It is a quality that will benefit us over and over.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. Next Sunday we begin a study in the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

Do I Need Self-Control?

 

Peter urges his readers in his second epistle to add self-control to their knowledge and virtue. It’s not difficult to see why self-control is necessary. What good would it do to determine to be the very best that we can according to God’s standard (moral excellence/virtue) and to act on the basis of what God has revealed (knowledge) if we can’t control our actions? Self-control is a must – in any realm.

 

Our culture is swift to cite excuses for why someone acts in an irresponsible way. It is easy to blame our actions on our upbringing, on our environment and on others. There is no doubt that these things can affect us. But at the end of the day we are responsible for our actions. Our actions flow from our thoughts, our attitudes, our habits and our speech.

 

That is why it is so important to exercise self-control. Athletes understand this when they train for a competition. They watch their diet, get plenty of rest, and train according to a strict routine. They know that self-control can make or break their success. It is the same spiritually. Paul understood his need for self-control, despite all the successes he enjoyed in teaching others the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 he wrote “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” When we exercise self-control, we are under God’s control.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. Next Sunday we begin a study in the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

Why is knowledge important? 2 Peter 1:5  

 

Christ wants me to be a virtuous person. He wants me to strive for excellence and be the very best that I can. That excellence is based on the standards that He taught. His teaching was centered in the moral teaching of the Old Testament that His Father revealed.

 

Virtue requires other qualities, like knowledge. Peter, an apostle of Jesus, urged us to add knowledge to our virtue (1 Peter 1:5). If there is no standard for morality or excellence, how could we establish either one? For example, suppose a world class sprinter wanted to establish himself as the very best in the world. That would require a standard of time and measuring that time by which we can determine that they are faster than anyone else. The only way we know who is the fastest is to keep track of their time – an objective standard by which we can compare one to the other.

 

It is the same with virtue. When I decide to live a life of moral excellence, there must be a standard – and that standard is Jesus Himself. He came and lived in human flesh to show us what it means to be virtuous. He understood and applied His Father’s teaching and demonstrated how we should live. He revealed an even greater covenant by which we can know right and wrong, founded upon the standard that His Father revealed in the Old Testament. When we learn and apply that teaching, the Lord enables us to become the disciples He wants us to be.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. This quarter we are studying Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. On Wednesday evenings at 7:00 P.M. we are studying “The Body of Christ” – of the figures used in Scripture to describe the church. If we are in Christ, then we are members of His body. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

 

 

What is virtue? 2 Peter 1:5 

 

Peter urged his readers to “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue.” What is virtue? The Greek word is arete. This quality is defined as “moral excellence” or “outstanding goodness.” There are two ideas involved. The first is excellence, which means that we do the very best that we can do. It also includes the idea of excel, a term of comparison which means that one thing is better than others. In our personal lives, God wants us to do the very best that we can.

 

That would be true of everything we do, but it starts in our relationship with God. We are trying to rise to the top. But the top is not a comparison with others, meaning we are better than they are. It is a comparison with ourselves – we excel in our efforts. We don’t offer second best or become complacent. We do our very best.

 

The other part of this word concerns the standard of that excellence. It is not merely that we do our best in academics or finances or physical fitness. God’s standard is moral. It involves right and wrong. It focuses on our character and the only one we should compare ourselves to is Christ. We may be imperfect when compared to His perfection, but our goal is to be more like Him in our thoughts, attitudes and actions. We exhibit virtue when we solve a dispute or try to break an addictive habit. It shows in the kind word that we speak to a stranger or the prayer in which we ask God for forgiveness.

 

Jesus was virtuous and He wants us to grow in virtue. We do it one thought at a time, one action at a time, one word at a time. We grow over time.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. This quarter we are studying Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. On Wednesday evenings at 7:00 P.M. we are studying “The Body of Christ” – of the figures used in Scripture to describe the church. If we are in Christ, then we are members of His body. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

Why is faith the starting point? 2 Peter 1:5

 

When Peter lists the virtues we are to add to our life, he begins with faith. He writes “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue” (2 Peter 1:5). Why is faith first?

 

Faith is essential. Everything else flows from it. There must first be a conviction that Jesus is who He claimed to be – the Son of God. That confidence enables us to consider His life and example. The gospel accounts are filled with His actions, words and claims. They provide a picture of how Jesus lived and demonstrated the very qualities that He wants us to possess.

 

We may not understand everything about His unique nature as both God and man, but clearly He exercised faith in His Father while He lived on the earth. For instance, He is referred to as our “faithful” High Priest in Hebrews 2:17-18. He was tempted, yet refused to give in to His own desires. That kind of faith enables us to faithful in the difficult circumstances we face or to add qualities to our life that will transform us spiritually. Faith in God is the foundation to build our lives on.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. This quarter we are studying Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. On Wednesday evenings at 7:00 P.M. we are studying “The Body of Christ” – of the figures used in Scripture to describe the church. If we are in Christ, then we are members of His body. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

How do I partake of the divine nature? 2 Peter 1:4  

 

Peter wrote to Christians in the first century and told them that they could become partakers of the divine nature. How is such a thing possible? If God is divine and dwells in heaven, how could we possibly share in His nature while we are here on earth in our fleshly bodies?

 

It doesn’t occur by some miraculous change in the state of our existence. The Christians Peter addressed possessed the same nature we do. They were human beings just like us. They had sinned, like we do. Their sins had been forgiven by obedience to the gospel.

 

The key lies in verse 3. Peter wrote that we have been granted all things that pertain to life and godliness “through the knowledge of him” who called us. In other words, as we grow in our knowledge of Jesus and understand the qualities of His life and adapt them to our own situations, we share in the great blessings of His nature. The gospel accounts are filled with accounts of Jesus’ teaching and His example. The qualities or virtues that Peter describes in the verses that follow were manifested by Jesus Himself while he lived upon the earth. He lived by faith in His Father’s will and lived a life of virtue. He understood the teaching of Scripture, gaining knowledge. He exercised self-control when tempted by Satan and demonstrated patience with others and the circumstances He faced. He was devoted to His mission, showed kindness toward others and manifested love toward God and His fellow-man. In other words, Jesus was the perfect example of the qualities that Peter describes.

 

When we look at Jesus’ example and follow His teaching, we become more like Him. We evidence the divine nature that transforms us and moves us closer in our relationship with God. It starts with the willingness to see ourselves as we are and to realize what we can become.

 

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. This quarter we are studying Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. On Wednesday evenings at 7:00 P.M. we are studying “The Body of Christ” – of the figures used in Scripture to describe the church. If we are in Christ, then we are members of His body. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

What is the divine nature? 2 Peter 1:4 

 

When the apostle Peter his second epistle to Christians in the first century, he promised them that they could be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). What did he mean?

 

The rest of the verse affords us a clue. He wrote that they had “escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (vs.4). The Bible plainly teaches that God created the world good and that man was a part of that creation. But sin entered into the world. And with that sin is the corruption and destruction that it brings. Our world today is imperfect and at risk, but not because of environmental changes. When men disobey God, our culture spirals deeper and deeper into a disregard for God and His moral law and all the chaos it brings (see Romans 1:24-32).

 

How do we escape? The solution does not lie within us – we are powerless to change things on our own. God is the only one who can “fix” things and He offers us redemption from our sin through the sacrifice of His Son – Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the penalty for sin and God offers us forgiveness from our sins when we obey Him (Hebrews 5:8-9). When we are baptized into Christ our sins are washed away (Romans 6:3-4). But that is the start – not the end. Our new relationship in Christ provides us with an opportunity to transform our lives. We can share in the divine nature – the qualities and characteristics that Jesus demonstrated while living in the flesh. We can become more and more like Him in our thoughts, actions and attitudes. We can be raised to a higher sphere, above the sin and corruption that permeates those who seek only their own best interests.

 

Peter provides instruction and motivation in this passage concerning that divine nature. It  comes from a knowledge of Jesus (verse 2) and a willingness to add those qualities to our life. We will trace those qualities in the coming weeks.

We invite you to come and study God’s word with us. This quarter we are studying Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians on Sunday mornings at 9:00 A.M. On Wednesday evenings at 7:00 P.M. we are studying “The Body of Christ” – of the figures used in Scripture to describe the church. If we are in Christ, then we are members of His body. Come and explore the Scriptures with us.

Few Are Chosen, Matthew 22:14

 

Not every choice that is made concerning me is mine. God’s choices determine what happens to me, whether it suits me or not. I can comply with them or refuse.

 

Jesus told a parable in Matthew 22:1-13 about a king who invited guests to his son’s wedding. They made light of it and worse than that, some killed the servants who offered the invitation. The king was angry and destroyed those who had acted so spitefully. Then he invited all the wayfaring strangers they met on the highways. When the guests showed up at the wedding, a man found without a wedding garment was cast out. Jesus concluded by telling his hearers that many are called but few are chosen.

 

Jesus directed this parable primarily at His own people, the Jews, who had refused Him – particularly the rulers. Jesus came first to His own people, but by and large, they did not receive Him. Jesus makes it clear that others – later it is clear He has in mind the Gentiles – will be invited to enjoy the blessings of salvation He offered. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. largely because God’s people had rejected Him.

 

But there is an application for us. If we spurn God’s invitation today, He will not keep issuing an invitation to us forever. Sooner or later our time will run out and then God will not choose us despite having called us.

 

The Christians at Citrus Park believe that God’s invitation is worthwhile. Why not come visit with us and study the Bible? Learn about the wonderful invitation God offers us.

Choosing Our Friends, Proverbs 12:26

 

One of the most important choices we make is the friends that we have. Proverbs 12:26 cautions “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Our friends exert an influence on us. Their attitude and actions affect the way we think and act. They can lift us up or bring us down.

 

The Bible has numerous examples, but two from the life of David will suffice to illustrate both the positive and negative. When David found himself the object of King Saul’s envy, despite having no designs whatsoever on the throne of Israel, Jonathan, Saul’s son, befriended David and provided refuge and help for him on numerous occasions (1 Samuel 18-20). Friends that are loyal and set on doing what is right are a great source of strength, especially when the going gets tough.

 

On the other hand, when Amnon, one of David’s sons, desired his half-sister Tamar, he was encouraged by Jonadab to indulge his selfish interests (2 Samuel 13). Jonadab was described as both a friend and very crafty – not a good combination. His influence led Amnon to ruin.

 

It is helpful to have friends, but they need to be the right kind. Choosing good friends can encourage us to do right while choosing friends set on doing evil can only bring peril.

 

The Christians at Citrus Park invite you to worship and study the Bible with us. There are numerous opportunities to make friends with people who are set on doing what God wants. We welcome you to our services.

Choosing the Way of Truth, Psalm 119:30

 

The psalmist writes, “I have chosen the way of truth” (Psalm 119:30). Is it really possible to choose the true way? When Jesus spoke to Pilate of bearing witness to the truth, he replied “What is truth?” It is easy to respond in the same skeptical, doubting manner today. After all, does anyone really possess the true answer to reality?

 

Jesus certainly made that claim for Himself. He said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Let’s be clear – Jesus said that God exists and the only way to a relationship with Him is through Jesus. That means the way of truth is an exclusive way. Any other way is false. While the psalmist could only speak of the truth God had revealed in the Old Testament, Jesus claimed that He not only fulfilled that truth, but that He was the Truth – it was embodied in Him.

 

That leaves us with a choice. Do we accept Jesus as the way of truth and become His disciples or not? Jesus made another claim. He said if we abide in His word (follow His teaching), then we are His disciples. He promised as such that we would know the truth and the truth would make us free (John 8:31,32). If we follow Jesus as the Way and Truth provides us with freedom from our sins.

 

The Christians at Citrus Park invite you to worship and study the Bible with us. We believe that is how we can know the will of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. We hope you can take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the way of truth.

Choose Whom You Will Serve, Joshua 24:15

 

God promised the Israelites that He would give them a land in which to live. When Moses led them out of Egyptian bondage, they were homeless. But they made a journey to the promised land of Canaan, even though there was a detour of 40 years of wandering in the wilderness due to disobedience. Finally, Joshua replaced Moses as their leader and they were able to conquer the people in the land who God cast out because of their wickedness.

 

You can imagine, then, how Joshua must have felt when he confronted this victorious people with a challenge before he died and passed from the scene. In Joshua 24:14-16, he encouraged them to serve Jehovah in sincerity and faithfulness and told them to put away the idols of the nations around them. In other words, God wanted their whole-hearted devotion.

 

Joshua’s challenge is just as applicable for our culture today, thousands of years later. There are “gods” that people worship in our time  - pleasure, wealth, power, influence – the list goes on and on. There are so many things that divert our attention from doing what is most important in this life – the will of God. It is always worthwhile, especially at the start of a new year, to refocus.

 

The Christians at Citrus Park invite you to worship and study the Bible with us. We believe that is how we can know the will of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. We hope you can take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the way of truth.

© 2020 by Citrus Park church of Christ

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