Friday, July 22, 2011

Matter of the Heart

I hope you're enjoying the Sermon on the Mount series as much as I am, I'm learning new things all the time. 
Last week's message was from Matthew 5:17 - 26
Matthew 5:17-18(NIV) 
17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  
18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 
He reminded the people that He didn't  come to lower the standard of the of the Law and the Prophets  (Old Testament)  He actually  raised it where it belonged.
He redefined and reemphasized the divine standard given in the law of God. Which is that   what you are on the inside is what God is concerned with. Jesus emphasized here in the Sermon on the Mount and throughout His whole ministry, that: external ceremonies, external religious rites, and certain works are not the whole issue He  is concerned with the heart.  The scribes and the Pharisees had a righteousness that was external. God is concerned about what you really are not what you appear to be. It is the internal that is infinitely more important than the external.That is essentially what verse 20 means. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. 
 God  responds to men not on the basis of outward deeds but on the basis of the heart which God alone knows.
The key, I believe is the phrase you have heard it said.”  In virtually every other place where Jesus refers to the Law (or Old Testament), He uses the phrase, “It is written” (e.g., Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; 21:13, 26:31).  Here He uses the phrase “You have heard.” This is a contrast between  what the he scribes and Pharisees taught  and the true letter and true spirit of the Law.

Hatred & Murder
  21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder,£ and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother£ will be subject to judgment.
 Jesus' teaching here about murder that's literally shocking, it is devastating to the audience, because he makes it a heart issue. If you hate someone that is just like murder and deserves the same punishment. 
Are you guilty of murder? Well Jesus said if you hate someone you are a murderer.

  John warns us that  "Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer."   We must guard our hearts because hatred is murder.

He makes another shocking statement that bothers me.
23“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 
24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift

 If someone has something against me I need to go to them and be reconciled before I worship. I think I have some praying to  do, people to see

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sermon on the Mount Intro

Last week we started a series in the Sermon on the Mount. It is the greatest sermon ever preached. It is the best know of Jesus teachings, but also the most misunderstood and interpreted. The following is a brief overview of the first message in the series.
Interpretations of the SOM

Ways the Sermon on the Mount has been interpreted over the years

Social gospel.
• Protestant liberals have used the ethics of the sermon as a mandate for the church to usher in the kingdom of God by means of reforming society.

• Leaders of the Social Gospel Movement believed that the kingdom could be attained by understanding and applying the principles of this Sermon to our culture.

 Carry over from OT
• Some believe it is merely a better interpretation of the Law and has nothing to do with the Age of Grace,

Standards are to high
• Some say that the "demands" of the Sermon on the Mount are beyond human capabilities  therefore, cannot be expected to be literally fulfilled. Thus, the Sermon serves to make man aware of his sin and to bring him to repentance.

Kingdom age.
• Dispensationalism teaches that these laws are for the kingdom age (Millennium) and are only an example for us and our day.

The Sermon on the Mount is a description of what the citizens of the kingdom are to be and do. “It describes what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of God.” (John Stott).

Why study the Sermon on the Mount

1.  The Sermon on the Mount will show you the absolute necessity of the new birth.
2.  it clearly points to Jesus Christ.
3.  it's the only way to happiness for Christians.
4.  it's the best means I know of evangelism.

The layout of Sermon on the Mount

I. Our character Matthew 5:3-12

• is to be completely distinct from the character which the world admires (through the qualities in the beatitudes)

II. Our influence Matthew 5:13-16
• is like light to darkness and salt to moral decay

III. Our righteousness Matthew 5:17-6:18-

 • Our righteousness must exceed the superficial righteousness of the established religious community:

• The Sermon on the Mount impacts the way we live our lives in the following areas:

   a. In Ethics 5:17-4 
       Murder/anger: 21-26
       Adultery/lust: 27-30
       Divorce: 31-32
       Oaths/honesty: 33-37
       Retaliation/non-retaliation: 38-42
       Hatred/Love for  enemy: 43-48

  b. In devotion 6:1-18

     Giving: 1-4
     Praying: 5-15
     Fasting 16-18

  c. In ambition

Our ambitions are to be different. Though the world around us is preoccupied with material necessities, the followers of Christ must seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness.

IV. Our relationships Matthew 7:1-20

Relationships must be transformed and different from those around us
With our spiritual family 7:1-6
With our heavenly father 7:7-12
With our spiritual opponents 7:13-23

Matthew 7:24-25(NIV)

24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 4

Experiencing Purpose

"Speak Lord your servant is listening" 1 Sam.3:10

Most people think that God has no word, no calling, no vision fro them. Truth is every Christian has a calling. In fact every Christian has several callings as well as God given gifts, abilities, and blessings to respond to those callings.

Are you taking time to listen to his voice? Are you being obedient to his voice? Responding to His calling is the greatest and most rewarding thing you can do.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 3

Experience Purpose

As we begin this journey of discerning what each of our roles should be in the building of the community center here at Fairlawn  I pulled this thought from day 3 of the 20 day devotional in the Maximum Impact Advance packet the church received.

No church builds a structure just to have a nice building. No church expands ministries just to be a bigger church. No person makes a sacrificial financial commitment just to get some kind of service or program benefit. People – and churches – do not give their lives or their resources or their selves to a building or to a program or to being bigger. What people will give their lives to is a God-given purpose, a higher calling. So the most important question to answer in any capital program is not what are you doing, but WHY are you are doing it.

Why is FMCchurch doing these things? In other words, what does God call this church to be and to do? What is the purpose God calls has called us to? And how does this capital program provide tools for Fairlawn to respond to that calling?

We have been called to go and make disciples. The building is not the vision the building is a tool we use to help us work toward the vision God has given us.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Surreal Moment

I was reminded this week how quickly life can change. Monday was a normal day of doing normal stuff. That night I went to a leadership team meeting and about 7:30 I began having some minor discomfort in my chest and by 9:30 I was on my way to the emergency room experiencing severe chest pains. After several hours of tests, doctors came and told us that they thought I might be having a heart attack and
called life flight to transport me to Akron City Hospital.

In the moments following the news that I was being life flighted I had time to reflect on my life. As the helicopter lifted off and headed toward Akron my first thought was, what if the Lord was choosing to take me from this earth at this moment ? What would my first glimpse of eternity be like? What would I experience when I passed through from this life to my eternal reward? What would it be like to see Jesus face to face? What was I about to experience? I was excited, afraid and anxious all at the same time.

My thoughts moved to Verda and the children. Had I been a godly husband? Had I been kind of husband that Verda deserved? What about my children? Did I live my life in such a way that would impact their lives in a positive way? Did I give them a good foundation for them to build their faith? How would my family remember me? Yea a truly surreal moment.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning while sitting in the CCU unit I reflected on my experience a day earlier. I found it interesting that I never thought about material things like IRA's nice cars or a bigger house. I didn't think about ballgames, vacations, or work, no only the "most" important things came to mind on Tuesday morning.

Now as I looked forward I realize there need to be some changes made.I have to spend more time focusing on the "most" important things in my everyday life? I can't get so caught up in important things that I overlook the "most" important things like my Lord, my wife, and my children.and my friends. My heart needs work in more than one way.

Don't wait for a surreal moment to remember the most important things in your life. Begin today focusing more of your time and energy on the most important people in your life.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The power of cardboard

WOW! It is amazing how a piece of cardboard with a few words on it can be so powerful. Sunday I experienced the power of cardboard. Sometimes 2 words told a powerful story. As believers in Christ we all have a story to tell. Our journey toward Christ and walk with Him is the story. We are called to tell our story because it challenges and encourages others to walk with Him. Sunday we experienced the impact our story has on people. It gave someone the little nudge they needed to go to the alter and ask Jesus Christ to become their Savior, it gave hope to a hurting marriage and a desire to rededicate a life to Christ. Yes your testimony is powerful but only if you share it.
The testimonies were powerful in part because of the the of thought that went into the 2 or 3 words scribbled on the cardboard. Thinking through your journey with Christ is something that every believer should do several times a year. Take time this week to write out your "story" it will be one of the most impactful things you will ever do.

Ephesians 5:19-20 ( TEV ) 19 Speak to one another with the words of psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing hymns and psalms to the Lord with praise in your hearts. 20In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, always give thanks for everything to God the Father.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Refreshing Still Waters

When was the last time you were completely still before the Lord? No music,TV, or cell phone. When was the last time you heard nothing but chirping birds or peaceful splashing of a flowing fountain. A place where you could hear God. The bible says Be still and know that I am God. We need a place where we can quiet our minds from the busyness of life and focus on getting to know Him. David wrote in Pslam 23 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. Just as David's soul was restored, ours can to, if we take time to lie down in green pastures and sit by the still waters. Each of us needs to find that special place to quiet our hearts and hear God.

I find that place on our deck in the back yard of our home. It is my oasis, a place with beautiful flowers, flowing fountain, chirping birds, and most of all serenity. When I take time to go there and be still, God speaks. It is there that God encourages me through His word and still small voice. That is where I go to have my soul refreshed and restored. I quiet my mind and allow Him to speak to me. It is by the refreshing quiet water that I "stand still and consider the wondrous works of God" (Job 37:14) When I do my soul is refreshed. Try it! I guarantee it will refresh your soul.