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Thread: Why The Sermon on the Mount?

  1. #41
    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Let's start talking about prayer.

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    How are we going to look at prayer? Letís plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Weíre moving on to chapter six of the Sermon on the Mount and weíre going to focus on prayer. I wanted to give a little preliminary on that one. The old saying is those who canít do, teach, and those who canít teach, teach gym.

    I do not consider myself a great authority on prayer. I find it difficult and I wonder if this could be an Aspie thing and if anyone has done research on that, I would be greatly interested. For me, talking to ordinary people can be difficult enough. Talking to God is even more difficult.

    Also, I think as a Christian, there is a lot of baggage that we have brought into the idea of prayer. Prayer is often presented to us as a dialogue when really, it is not presented that way in Scripture. Really also, if God starts speaking back to you, the best thing to do would be to shut up and listen.

    I donít care much for what he says, but I agree with John MacArthur on something. He spoke once about a guy who said that God spoke to him every morning while he was shaving and how he asked the guy, ďDo you still keep shaving?Ē This is treating God as way too casual and flippant.

    On the other hand, I am not one of those prayer warriors types who can easily spend an hour in prayer like that. My main focus is often an attitude of prayer and many times, minute prayers. These can even include prayers while Iím driving such as when I see a first responder vehicle go by with the siren running. I always say a prayer (Not closing my eyes of course) for those involved that all will work out to the glory of God.

    So if I donít know the most on it, why write on it? Because itís part of the Sermon on the Mount and because we can learn together that way. Also, if you consider yourself not an expert on prayer, you have on reason to be intimidated by anything that I share.

    So letís go ahead on this conversation when we return to the Sermon. We will be studying prayer and how King Jesus wants it to be done. Hopefully, whether youíre a prayer warrior or not, youíll walk away better at prayer.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  2. #42
    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Don't be a show-off.

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    How do we do good deeds? Letís plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    A month or so ago I remember making a post on Facebook about how I can see advertisements sometimes where companies talk about how they give to charity. It can also include incentives like ďIf you buy such and such from us, we will give XYZ to charity.Ē Generally, when I hear that kind of thing, itís really a reason for me to not want to support. After all, youíre wanting to make a profit, which is fine, and your selling point is that you will give to charity? I should also buy your product or service because you are such a great company that gives to charity?

    It reminds me of the verse Iím looking at today in Matthew 6.

    Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

    A year or so ago it was a December and Allie was in a hospital and so it was just me. I went to the church I go to and everyone could tell I was bummed out in Sunday School. After the class, the pastor asked me to stay behind and he wanted to share something with me. He told me that a donation had been made to Allie and I for our usage. I thought that this was nice and wondered how much it could be. $50? $100?

    Nope. $5,000.

    To this day, we donít know for sure who gave it. We have ideas, but whoever it is wanted it to be a secret donation. They didnít give so we could go and praise them. They gave because they wanted to support us and that gift was extremely helpful to us.

    This is not to say you can never let your generosity be known, but you have to ask why you are letting it be known. What is the end goal in all of it? Do you want people to know that youíre just so awesome? Perhaps you share who you are just because you want the other person to know and to know that they have a friend in you.

    At the same time, Jesus doesnít condemn doing good deeds because it will give you something good in the end as well. After all, He says do these things so you will be seen by your Father in Heaven. If you donít do them that way, you will get no reward. This means that if you do do them the right way, you will get a reward.

    Itís really interesting that Jesus still appeals to our self-interest. What He is wanting us to seek is the honor of God. Thereís something someone once told me that has stuck with me. Jesus talks about going to a banquet and taking the lowest seat so you will be invited to a better one and says if you humble yourself you will be exalted and vice-versa. Notice this though. Everyone is humbled and everyone is exalted. We just choose what order they come in.

    We are to do good deeds, of course, but if we really do them just so other people will think highly of us, that negates the reward we can get for them. The other person can still benefit, but itís not the same. I encourage you that insofar as itís possible, try to do your good deeds secretly so other people donít know.

    If you canít avoid that, itís understandable, but still, check your motives. Seek the purest of motives. If wrong motives are in you and you still know the right thing to do, do it anyway and ask God to purify your motives.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  3. #43
    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    How should you give?

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    How should we give? Letís plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    In Jesusís day, people wanted to get honor. To some extent, we all want this today, but honor is not the driving force that it used to be. In some ways, I think it is, but we donít recognize it. If youíre on social media, you want your posts to have likes and shares. You want to have followers on Twitter. You want subscribers and views on YouTube. High school can often just be a big popularity contest and truly, high school never ends.

    Jesus talks about the proper method of giving though.

    2 ďSo when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    Something that can irk me is when a company makes an advertisement and in the advertisement, they talk about how much they are giving to help something, which has been something common during this pandemic. Even more bothersome to me is when the giving is used to encourage people to get the product. ďIf you give to us, we will donate so much to charity.Ē

    Itís worth pointing out though that Jesus doesnít condemn giving for the sake of honor. However, He points us to the true honor. It is the honor of the Father that we are seeking. God sees what we do in secret and He will reward us for what we do. We often think that seeking something for yourself is bad. Itís not. Itís how and why. Jesus tells us to seek the honor that comes from God.

    This isnít to say that your giving can never be shown publicly. It can be. Sometimes itís unavoidable. However, the goal of our giving should not be so people will just think how awesome we are. It should be for the kingdom of God and the good of the other person.

    In Jesusís day, the Pharisees would publicly proclaim when they were given. They did get their reward in full right there. They got the praise of people around them. Jesus wants us to seek the higher praise. This is the praise of God. The praise of people is temporary and will fade. The praise of God lasts forever.

    And really, thatís something we need to keep in mind. We focus so much on temporary things and lose sight of eternal things. We will be around God forever and forever experience how we dealt with Him. If we lived our lives in love of Him, we will live our eternity that way. If we lived lives of hating Him, we will live forever that way too. Each of us is building an eternal dwelling in some sense and when we get to eternity, we will have the dwelling we built.

    Build well.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  4. #44
    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    What do you not do in prayer?

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    What are some things to avoid in prayer? Letís plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Sometimes, I hate public prayer at a church service. I say this as someone who has to do it as well. You never really feel genuine doing it. You know people are watching you to see what you have to say. Itís awkard.

    Then there are the people who do these public prayers and they go on and on and on. You can say theyíre real men of Jesus, but most of us just find them annoying. I find it interesting that the Lordís prayer can really be said in under a minute. When the closing prayer starts to go longer than the sermon itself, we have a problem.

    Jesus had a few statements about things like this. He never said to not pray in public as He sometimes did this as well, but He did say to watch your motives again. Some people do make a show of public prayers. They pray showing off their eloquence and their devotion to God, which if that is what youíre doing, we can call your devotion into question. Letís look at verses 5-8 of Matthew 6.

    5 ďAnd when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

    One of the rules for giving a sermon is to KISS. It has two meanings. ďKeep it simple, stupidĒ and ďKeep it short, stupid.Ē Prayer is done to talk to God. Itís not done to show others how awesome you are.

    This is why also your devotion is not meant to be measured necessarily by how long you pray. I know some people who are true prayer warriors and they can pray for a long time. Iím not one of them. I know I need to work on that. Those like me need to start simple as well. Donít say youíre going to build up prayer and then say youíre going to start with an hour a day. Youíll burn out and give up. If anything, start small. Maybe 3-5 minutes even.

    Jesus also tells us our Father knows what we need before we ask. If so, why do we ask? We ask not to make something known, but to show that we are realizing our trust and dependence.

    One of the problems I have with many prayer studies is they treat prayer as if the only goal is to get something. It also treats God as if He is obligated to answer a prayer. Many of us were devoutly praying for the healing of Nabeel Qureshi. It never came. Does that prove God doesnít exist or that God doesnít or didnít love Nabeel? Not at all. It just shows for whatever reason we donít understand, God chose not to heal.

    Itís also too easy for prayer to become just a wish list. Thereís not enough time spent in thanksgiving and adoration. I remember J.P. Moreland once saying he thinks in a worship service, the music should come after the sermon. Why? Because then we have heard the Scripture and the good news and we are giving thanks and celebrating about what we have heard.

    Yet keep in mind, Jesus still points us to the reward. Our true reward is from our Father in heaven. Itís not in the praise and adoration of men. Itís in the approval of our Father. That is the praise we are to have.

    Prayer is something important and we need to work on it, but one of the first things to do is to learn what not to do.

    Letís try to get it right.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  5. Amen Christianbookworm amen'd this post.
  6. #45
    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Don't give the right answer so quickly.

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    What does it mean to want the Kingdom to come? Letís plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Do we really want the Kingdom to come?

    I mean, letís think about it. If weíre Christians, we know the right answer weíre supposed to say is yes. We want God to rule this Earth. We want Him to be the one in charge. We want Jesus to be acknowledged as king. We say we want that.

    Do we really?

    To pray for His kingdom to come also means something else. Ours doesnít. Most of us struggle with an inflated view of ourselves and that can be even if weíre really negative. We are often not just moderately dumb or ugly or unlikable or anything like that. No. We are the worst of the worst. If anything goes wrong in our lives, itís our fault.

    When we pray this prayer though, we are supposed to be willing to forsake our own little kingdoms. This is Godís kingdom. We donít want to be the ones in charge of our lives anymore. We want God to be in charge.

    That also means we have to be willing to get rid of the sin in our lives. We have to drop that pornography habit. We have to stop that overeating. We have to be willing to give up gossiping about our neighbors. We canít keep on thinking about that woman who isnít our wife.

    Do we really want that?

    The truth is, our actions will answer for us. If we really want the kingdom to come, we will be willing to sacrifice those actions that we know are opposed to the kingdom. If we do not want the kingdom to come, we will keep acting like we are the ones who determine right and wrong and we are the ones who will see our own will be done.

    This also is not a Democracy or a Republic coming our way. This is a monarchy. This is not something that we will vote on or campaign for. Jesus is a king and what the king says goes. It is absolute.

    Today, our every action will show in some way what we want. Do we think our way is best or do we think the way of Christ is the best? We can say with our lips the right answer all we want, but actions do speak louder. I hope mine will show I want the Kingdom the most, but I fear too often they will show the other way. Perhaps that is where we need to encourage one another.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  7. Amen Christianbookworm amen'd this post.
  8. #46
    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    What does it mean to follow God's will?

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    What does it mean to do Godís will? Letís plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    So many Christians today want to find Godís will for their lives.

    Should I get married? Who should I marry? What job should I take? Should I go to college and if so, what should I major in? So many decisions are about finding the will of God.

    Is this what the Bible means when it speaks about the will of God?

    No. This is a highly personalized idea. Letís consider the first one about marriage. Assuming marriage is even for you, the Bible in a book like Proverbs lays out criteria. Since one should marry in the Lord, a Christian should marry a Christian. When speaking of a wife, the book mentions the kinds of qualities to look for. Donít marry a nagging wife is one example. Marry a woman who fears the Lord. (Or a man if you are a woman)

    Somehow, we got this strange idea that when we got to the New Testament, God decided to jettison wisdom and was going to tell us all what to do and we needed to find a way to get these secret messages from God. We are to look for clues, often ones that reside in our feelings and emotions, and from there try to determine what God is telling us. Scripture may be used, but apparently, itís not as reliable as those feelings and emotions.

    As you can imagine, I think this is a bunch of bunk. I see nothing in Scripture about it and it only showed up in our time of individualism. This kind of thinking really makes us very self-centered Christians.

    Not only that, if God has a specific will for our lives like that, weíve already screwed it up definitely. Also, if any one other person has screwed up their lives, theyíve ultimately done it for everyone. If you are to marry one specific person, then that means that if you marry the wrong one, both of your intended spouses have to marry the wrong one and then all their intended spouses have to marry the wrong one and on and on it goes.

    It also causes the wrong focus. What we should be looking at the most is what kind of spouse we are going to be. What kind of employee are we going to be? What kind of student are we going to be?

    ďBut how will I know what God wants for my life?Ē

    Itís very easy. I can tell you definitely what Godís will is for your life and I have no hesitation in doing so. Godís will is to conform you to the likeness of Christ. The best thing to do when examining an action and if you should do it is to ask if it will conform you to the likeness of Christ.

    When we pray for Godís will to be done, we are not praying that we will find some specific individualized will, or at least we shouldnít pray that. We are praying that God will make the universe the way He wants it to be. How He wants us to be is to be conformed to the image of Christ. He wants us to be like Jesus.

    You have plenty on that in Scripture.

    Go try following that instead.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  9. Amen Christianbookworm amen'd this post.
  10. #47
    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Do we want God's will to be done?

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    How does God rule? Letís plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    When Jesus finished the sermon, either a centurion in Israel or his servants, and I suspect the latter, came to Jesus. The centurion wanted a paralyzed servant to be healed and requested Jesus to do it. Jesus offered to see him, but if my suspicion is correct, this guy had told his servants what to say. Heís not worthy to have Jesus in his house, but he is a man of authority and understands how authority works. If he says something to a servant in his house, it gets done.

    What does this man understand? He knows what Jesusís house is. Jesusís house is all of creation. If He says something, it gets done. If He says ďBe healedĒ, Jesus doesnít have to be present. It just gets done. This is truly a very high view of Jesus and Jesus rightly says this is greater than even the people of Israel.

    Maybe the centurion heard about the Sermon on the Mount.

    Maybe the centurion heard that Jesus had said that Godís will should be done on Earth as it is Heaven. What that means is in Godís domain, what He says goes. No angel talks back to God or offers a rejoinder. ďDid you think about this part?Ē Nope. He says it. Itís done.

    When we pray for Godís will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, we are saying we want the same thing. We want it to be that if God says it, it happens on Earth as well. Now hereís the concern. When we pray this, do we really mean it?

    Letís face it. If weíre Christians, we all know the ďChristian answer.Ē We all know what weíre supposed to say, but talk is cheap. I recently saw someone on Facebook said that they are honestly scared to suffer even if it means suffering for Christ. I admired that. Itís honest. Itís easy for us to say, ďIf I had to die for my faith in Jesus, I would do it.Ē Itís easy to say that until the gun is pointed at you or youíre about to be thrown to the lions or something of that sort.

    Want an example? Consider Peter. Peter bragged that he was willing to die for Jesus. What happened a few hours later? ďNever heard of Him!Ē Peter had the talk, but he didnít have the walk and he suffered for it.

    So when we say that we want Godís will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, letís see if we really want it. Do we really want to sacrifice our sins so Godís will can be done? Do we want to be willing to give up everything for Godís will to be done? Do we want to do the work of loving our neighbor as ourselves so Godís will can be done?

    If we donít, then when we say Godís will be done, then we do not really mean it. What we might mean is we want all the goodies that come with a Christian life, but we donít want the pain and sacrifice required on our end. We donít want to have to make ourselves uncomfortable or exert ourselves where we donít have to. Please let the will of God be done, provided it doesnít interfere with my Netflix time. Okay?

    But if you want the will of God to be done, you will have to demonstrate that. That means sacrifice on your end. It means forgiving your neighbor even if they donít deserve it, and they donít. You donít either. It means loving your neighbor even if theyíre often a pain, because youíre often a pain as well to those around you. It means going through suffering regardless, because Jesus went through suffering for you and He definitely didnít deserve it. It means not thinking about what you deserve, but thinking about what is good for the kingdom first.

    If you canít say those things, and that applies to me as well as itís a struggle, then you donít want the kingdom to come on Earth as it is in Heaven. Perhaps you are still more invested in your own personal kingdom. Perhaps you want your will on Earth more than you want Godís will.

    Only you know that one.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters
    (And I affirm the virgin birth)

  11. #48
    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    I am glad that you affirm the virgin birth, which I, too, do affirm.
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

  12. #49
    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    When we pray for Godís will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, we are saying we want the same thing. We want it to be that if God says it, it happens on Earth as well. Now hereís the concern. When we pray this, do we really mean it?

    Letís face it. If weíre Christians, we all know the ďChristian answer.Ē We all know what weíre supposed to say, but talk is cheap. I recently saw someone on Facebook said that they are honestly scared to suffer even if it means suffering for Christ. I admired that. Itís honest. Itís easy for us to say, ďIf I had to die for my faith in Jesus, I would do it.Ē Itís easy to say that until the gun is pointed at you or youíre about to be thrown to the lions or something of that sort.
    This Quaker would say the following about giving up our will, and being willing to suffer:

    "Oh, my friend, there is an ingrafting into Christ, a being formed and new created in Christ, a living and abiding in Him, and a growing and bringing forth fruit through Him unto perfection. Oh, may you experience all these things; and that you may do so, wait to know life, the springings of life, the separations of life inwardly from all that evil which hangs about it, and would be springing up and mixing with it, under an appearance of good; that life may come to live fully in you, and nothing else. And so, sink very low, and become very little, and know little; yea, know no power to believe, act or suffer anything for God, but as it is given you, by the springing grace, virtue, and life of the Lord Jesus."

    "Oh! look not after great things: small breathings, small desires after the Lord, if true and pure, are sweet beginnings of life. You must become a child, you must lose your own will quite by degrees. You must wait for life to be measured out by the Father, and be content with what proportion, and at what time, He shall please to measure. Oh! be little, be little, and then you will be content with little; and if you feel now and then a check or a secret smiting, in that is the Father's love; be not over wise, nor over eager in your own willing, running, and desiring, and by degrees come to the knowledge of your Guide, who will lead you step by step in the path of life, and teach you to follow, and in His own season powerfully judge that which cannot nor will not follow. Be still, and wait for light and strength." (Isaac Penington)

    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

  13. #50
    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    What does it mean to seek our daily bread?

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    What does it mean to ask for daily bread? Letís plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    My family and I arenít rich. Growing up, we never were either. Today, I know what it definitely means to live on a balanced budget more than ever. We have money that we can store up to an extent, but itís still very rough. Any time we get a donation, I get personally very excited.

    Thatís probably nothing compared to the average person in the times of Jesus though. You were to ask for your daily bread. In that day, you didnít have plastic to wrap your bread in. The temperature in your house could not be managed by a thermostat. You didnít have any freezers to preserve food or any refrigerators.

    Want some food? Sorry. You have to work. Thereís no going down the street to the local supermarket where thereís an abundant supply of food. I grew up in a rural town, but not too far from us was the city where we could go to supermarkets. My roommate in seminary was not like that. When he first walked into a supermarket in Charlotte, he was shocked at all that he saw.

    In Jesusís day though, you had to work things off and if your neighbor gave you some food, well, you were in his debt then. You would owe him. There was no give for the sake of giving like that. If only honor was expected back, that was a big deal and the person would get honor.

    Jesus still tells us to ask for daily bread. We donít ask for weekly or monthly or yearly bread. We ask for daily bread. We trust in God to provide for us day by day.

    Does that mean we canít store up things today or have savings or manage wealth? Not at all. Yet even still, we have to realize we could lose it all at any time. The richest man in the world could possibly have all his money hacked away from him.

    Regardless of how rich or poor you are, you are still to rely on God. You are to trust Him. Jesus tells us this later in the sermon. Birds get fed and the flowers are dressed. Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and weíll get everything else.

    Daily bread reminds to rely on God daily. I may go and get bread from on top of our refrigerator today to fix a sandwich, but I should be grateful that today I donít have to go out and do all the work to make that bread. Itís a gift and I should be thankful to God who provides all the knowledge to make bread and the resources and for the people willing to do the work.

    Tomorrow will take care of itself somehow.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters
    (And I affirm the virgin birth)

  14. Amen Christianbookworm amen'd this post.

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