405 - Come and Die

June 2, 2017

In his classic book, the Costs of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer sums up the teaching of Jesus in this one phrase:  "When Christ calls a man, he calls him to come and die."  That's die to self.  Die to our dreams.  Die to our reputation.  Die to our wants and rights.  Die to our families, friends, and future.  And die to our very lives.

We see Jesus continually calling men "to forsake all and follow Him" (Luke 5:11)  Consider the following.

Matthew 16:24-26 - Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him (1) deny himself, and (2) take up his cross, and (3) follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Note the order.  First, there is the desire to "come after" Jesus.  This is followed by the list of conditions to "deny" yourself and then visibly and publicly show others your self denial by taking up your cross.  And finally, after the conditions are met, the desire is fulfilled.  Only then does Jesus say, "follow Me."

Which raises a few questions.  Do you follow Jesus?  Have you died to yourself?  If so, in what way?  Can others tell?  Are there areas in your life you have refused to die to?  And if so, what are you prepared to do about it?

Do you want to know more about what it means to follow Jesus?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 21:19-25.

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402 - Are You a Murderer? Probably So

May 21, 2017

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus equates anger with murder (Matt. 5:21-22), in much the same way He equates lust with adultery (Matt. 5:27-28).  Later, John adds the following:

1 John 3:11-15 - For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love (agapaō) one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother.  And why did he murder him?  Because his (Cain) works were evil and his brother’s (Able) righteous.  Do not marvel (wonder, be surprised, astonished), my brethren (fellow believers), if the world (kósmos) hates (to detest, an active ill will in words and conduct, a persecution spirit) you. We know (eidō) that we have passed from death to life, (how) because we love (agapaō) the brethren.  He who does not love (agapaō) his (personal) brother (fellow believers) abides (rest, make their home) in death.  Whoever hates (to detest, an active ill will in words and conduct, a persecution spirit) his (personal) brother (fellow believer) is a murderer, and you know (eidō) that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

John also equates anger and hatred with murder.  And he states that "no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."  This is a profoundly important point.  Which raises a couple of questions:

Have you been angry with a fellow Christian?
What was the cause of your anger?  Was it the holiness of God?  Or some personal preference about which you felt slighted?
Are you still angry with that person?  And if so, why?
Did you know that, according to the Scriptures, you are guilty of murder?  Why?  Because the one you hate and murmur about was created in the image of God.  And to hate someone created by God, who is also made in the image of your God, is to hate God.  You cannot love the Creator and hate His creation.

The Scriptures call this murder.  Are you confused?  Do you think hatred and murder are two different things with two different penalties?  Do you want to know what the Scriptures say about anger and murder?  Then keep listening.

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388 - The True Intent of the Law

February 26, 2017

In the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus reveals to us what life is like in His Kingdom, He contrasts the Old Testament Law with its true intent.  And it does this by saying, "You have heard that it was said to those of old... but I say unto you."   Or, to put it another way, "You have an understanding about the Law and what it governs, but I want to show you the true intent of the Law and what it really means."

The Law governed external actions.  Or so it seemed to them and to us.  But in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus shows us the true intent of the Law by contrasting it to the human understanding of it.  In other words, only actions matter in the mind of men.  But with God, everything comes from the heart.

"For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Do you want to know more about having a heart that is pleasing to the Lord?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:21.

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370 - When Our Saved Life Looks Like Our Lost Life

October 31, 2016
When we look at the chilling words of Jesus that tell us "unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20) we are perplexed.  And rightly so.  When we then see the requirement of becoming a "new creation" in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) in order to possess the "righteousness that exceeds that of the scribe and Pharisees," we are faced with even more than questions.

Are you a new creation in Christ?
Has God changed you from the inside out?
Do you possess a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees?
If so, how do you know?
Can your friends and family tell?

And then one more:

Does this describe you?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law - Galatians 5:22-23

Have you ever asked yourself these questions?  How did you answer?  What does it mean if your answer to these questions are, no?  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:20.

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368 - You Will By No Means Enter the Kingdom of Heaven

October 19, 2016
Some of the most chilling words of Jesus begin with a condition that seems impossible to meet.  He begins this by saying:

“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20).

But what does this mean?  Who were the scribes and Pharisees and what was the characteristic of their righteousness?  What is the nature of the righteousness that must exceed their righteousness and how is that righteousness obtained?  And once it is obtained, how do we know?  How can we be sure?  In what way does our righteousness have to exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees?  And finally, what does Jesus mean when He says, "You will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven"?

These are tough questions.  Important questions.  Eternal questions.  

Do you want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:20.

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367 - The Difference Between Receiving and Entering the Kingdom

October 11, 2016
Jesus spent much of His Sermon on the Mount preaching about the Kingdom.  What's the Kingdom like?  What are the unique realities that belong only to those in the Kingdom?  Are there promises to those who live in the Kingdom?  And, if so, what are they?  How does one receive the Kingdom and, more importantly, how does one enter into the Kingdom?

The key is found in Mark 10:15:  “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

Did you catch that?  Receiving must precede entering when it comes to the Kingdom.  Do you want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:19.

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362 - Forever vs Flash and Fade

September 16, 2016
Often we find ourselves focusing on the temporal things in life and not on the eternal.  We seem to devote most of our time and energy on the things that pass, things that fade away, things that are transitory at best and have an expiration date, and not on what truly matters and what lasts.  Why is that?

Jesus said:

Matthew 5:18 - "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled."

Jesus said the law, the Word of God, is something that will outlast even heaven and earth.  Then, according to Psalm 138:2, God said He honors His Word above His name.  So what does all of this mean?  And what are the implications for each of us?  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:18.

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361 - What is Truth?

September 1, 2016
Great question: "What is truth?"  It's the question Pilate asked Jesus and the same question our culture asks of the church today.  But there's more to that question than is readily apparent.  For example:

Is there such a thing as absolute truth?
And if so, what is that truth?
How do we know that absolute truth is absolute?
What about the changing times in which we live?
Does truth change to meet the culture?
Is truth living and active?  Does it evolve?
Why is truth for yesterday truth for today?
Doesn’t each generation need their own truth?

Jesus addressed these questions in His first sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7.  Let's take a look at His answer together, shall we?

This is a study on Matthew 5:17.

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360 - Everyone Has a Story to Tell

August 22, 2016
Everyone has a story.  Everyone's life has a tale to tell.  Will it be a story of redemption, faith, grace, mercy and love found only in Christ, or a story of failure, rejections, sin, guilt and judgment found in a life separated from Him?
Yes, everyone has a story to tell.  And that story is often portrayed as the light of our life.

Consider the words of Jesus:

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" - Matthew 5:14-16.

So what's your story about?  What light of His are you shining?  And do those who don't know Christ glorify Him because of your light and good deeds?  Something to think about, isn't it?

The following is a study on Matthew 5:14-16.

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359 - The “You Are” Versus “You Do” Passages

August 7, 2016
Many Scriptures speak of things we must "do" as followers of Christ.  Some of them are:

You are to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).
You are to "walk according to the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16).
You must "present your bodies as a living sacrifice" (Rom. 12:1).

But when we find some passages that speak about who we are (in contrast to what we do), they should stop us cold in our tracks.  These are Scriptures that define and describe us from the Lord's perspective.

In Matthew 5 we find two of these:  "You are the salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:11), and "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:12-14).  And the implications of these are profound.  Want to discover more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:11.

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