Community Group Questions for 9/8/13

WooHoo!!! Community Groups are back in action!!! Consider it open season on recruiting people to your Community Group. Give them a call, invite them to come, and make sure you follow up with people who don't show up. But now, what you have all been waiting the entire summer for: The blog post....

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*Please let your Community Group know about the announcements that matter to them.

Announcements:

Next Class

  • If you have recently started a relationship with Jesus, or just want to know how to read the Bible or Pray, or what it’s all about,  I’d like to invite you to the Next Class, starting Next Week, Sept 15th.

  • It starts at 11:15 and will run during the 2nd Service for 3 weeks.

  • For more information, or to say you’d like to join us, email Pastor Dan at dangossett@westpines.org.

Sermon Title: On The Mount

Main Text: Matthew 5:1-2, 7:28-29, 5:17-20

REMINDER: The following Topics are for your preparation purposes only and should not be shared with the group as a refresher.

  • The first thorough teaching of Jesus recorded in the book of Matthew is historically known as The Sermon on the Mount.  This sermon alone has literally impacted the world. It has some of the most memorable teaching of Jesus such as: The Beatitudes, The Golden Rule, The Lord’s Prayer. It has some of the most quoted phrases such as:

    • “You are the salt of the earth… the light of the world.”

    • “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

    • “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”

    • “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

  • It has been called:

    • “The greatest sermon ever preached,”

    • “The Bible epitomized”

    • “The most profound section of the entire New Testament”

    • “The nearest thing to a manifesto that Jesus ever uttered”

  • All great sermons have a unified thought. And this seems confusing at first because Jesus hits on so many different topics. But when you look closely there is a single unifying thought.

  • To understand the profound truth of this sermon it is important to notice the location at which he taught. Obviously… He was on a mountain.  Isn’t it strange that for all the famous sound bites from this sermon, it is called “The Sermon on the Mount.” Why not “The Golden Rule Sermon,” or “The Sermon on Prayer,” or “The Beatitudes Sermon.”  It is known for where it is taught - on a mountain.  Maybe that is because throughout history that detail is a dominating and revealing part of the whole sermon.  Matthew didn’t have to supply that detail. Most of the time when Jesus teaches, the location isn’t as relevant. But Matthew 5:1 says, “he went up on a mountain…” What’s the big deal about that?

  • To understand the significance of this, listen to what Jesus says towards the beginning of the sermon, “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them…”  On Jesus’ mind is the entire law. He is planning to reinforce the law, and more than that to fulfill them.

  • Think about it. Where did Israel receive the law?  Moses got it on top of Mt. Sinai. Moses went on top of a mountain and received the law.  Now Jesus comes, intentionally walks upon a mountain and says, “I’m here to fulfill the law.”  What does that mean? How does He fulfill the law? How is He reinforcing the law? Let’s continue to look at the sermon.

  • After He makes that statement of fulfilling the law, he proceeds to teach the heart of the law. Look at some of these sound bites:

    • “everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…”

    • “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery…”

    • “if someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…”

    • “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect…”

    • “if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses…”

    • “You cannot serve God and money...”

    • “Judge not, that you be not judged…”

    • “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few…”

    • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven...”

    • “everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”

  • The ethics described in these passages are profound. Adultery is not just a physical act it infects the heart. Murder is not just taking a life it includes anger, gossip, and slander. If we don’t forgive how can we expect God to forgive us? These morals are incredibly insightful, but also impossibly severe.

  • Everyone who hears this teaching of Jesus has to agree with him, “the way to heaven is narrow.” How is it possible to “be perfect like God?”  How is it possible for our “righteousness to exceed that of the pharisees?”

  • We hear Jesus’ authoritative teachings and like the crowds we are astonished.  We have to admit one thing… we fall short.  At the end of Jesus teachings he said, those who do what He says have built their house on a solid rock, and those who did not have built their house on sand that will get washed away.  We all read this and must admit, we are on shaky ground. We are not perfect, so our righteousness is not enough to be considered a solid rock.

  • One day when we are judged, it doesn’t matter if we say, “Lord, Lord!” When we stand before Him at the end of our lives, what we deserve is for Him to say, “depart from me…”

  • What do we do? We are desperate!  But there is more...

  • Jesus starts out His sermon with a curious list. Eight things that He says if we have them we will be blessed. The first of these eight “Beatitudes” opens his entire sermon. He says, “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”  In other words blessed are those who realize spiritually bankrupt.  Blessed are those who are spiritual beggars.

  • Jesus starts His sermon by telling us that we are desperate, and then proceeds to demonstrate that to us.  This is the point of His entire message. This is the point of His entire ministry. This is the point of the Gospel. This is the message from God to all of humanity:

    • You NEED a Savior.

  • The sermon is designed to remind us how God intended for humanity to live, and show us how far we have fallen from it. Jesus is more than a new Moses. He does more than go up on the mountain and reinforce the law. He goes up on the mountain to declare that He will fulfill it through His life and death on our behalf! He is the Messiah, the One we are desperate for.

  • This sermon exposes a danger for two different groups of people:

    • Those who are living their lives their own way and don’t think they need God.

    • Those who are living their lives God’s way and think their lives are acceptable to God.

  • The first danger is rampant in an affluent, individualistic, self-made culture. We tend to believe that we don’t need God. We only address God only when we are in a situation of need that is beyond our control. We pray to Him when we are finally in a place of desperation. Then if He doesn’t act exactly how we want in the exact timing we want, we are furious. We treat God like a “Divine Assistant.” If his performance isn’t to our liking we will fire Him from our lives.  But Jesus reminds us our desperate, pitiful position before God.  And the hope that we have.

  • That reminder is something that we must continually revisit. Even those of us who have put our faith in Christ. As we journey with Him, we see the progress we make. We handle our anger better than we once did. We don’t lust as much as we used to. We are more loving. And sometimes as we see that progress we unwittingly stand on our own righteousness. We don’t realize it but we subtly begin to think things like:

    • I am close to God because I have been consistently reading my Bible, or going to church.

    • I have a long way to go to get my life back to where it was because I have sinned a lot lately.

    • Why would God let this happen? Doesn’t He see that I so regularly do… that I consistently…

    • I’m a mature Christian because I...

    • I deserve to be in leadership or helping others because I…

  • This passage reminds us that we are not even close. We are still in just as much need of a Savior now as ever.

  • The next several months that we will be studying the Sermon on the Mount. As we make this journey we will learn the heart of God as to the design for how humanity was designed to live. We will be inspired and challenged. But all the while we will be reminded how much we are spiritually bankrupt and MUST build our lives on the life and death of Jesus, the rock. We cannot build our lives on our own righteousness because that is just sand.

Key Questions:

  • What was the high of your week? What was the low of your week?
  • What stuck out to you on Sunday?
  • Since this week we gave an overview of the Sermon on the Mount. Read through the following portions of the sermon and discuss:
  • Read Matthew 5:17-20, 48. According to Jesus how good do you have to be to get into heaven?

    • follow the law flawlessly

    • better than the Pharisees

    • perfect

  • Read Matthew 5:21-22. According to Jesus what does it look like to obey the law regarding anger?

  • What are common ways we break that law?

  • Read Matthew 5:43-47. According to Jesus what does it look like to obey the law regarding love?

  • What are common ways we fail to love according to Jesus’ standard?

  • How would you define the term: self-righteousness?

  • How does self-righteousness affect our relationships with other people?

  • How does self-righteousness affect our relationship with God?

  • How does Jesus’ sermon address self-righteousness?

  • How would you describe the unifying theme of Jesus’ sermon?

  • After getting an overview of Jesus’ sermon, if you were to stand before God and He asked you, “why should I let you into heaven?” what would you say?

    • [Not by my works! I’m not even close to good enough. I need a savior, and my Savior is Jesus.]

Don't forget to post your attendance after group.