Monthly Archives: February 2011

Being A Missional Church

Being a Church on Mission

How Are You Seasoning Those Around You?

Matthew 5:13-16 – “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

To be the salt of earth and the light of the world we must develop an understanding of what does it mean to be a Church on Mission – Being a church on mission means that we are intentional and deliberate about reaching others for Christ. It means we are missionaries without ever leaving our zip code. It means we do missions right where God has planted us—in our community, on the job, with family, at school or wherever you find people who are not churched or may be unsaved and have a need for a personal encounter with Christ.

 Notice two words in our definition:

  1. We are intentional – We purpose in our heart to reach our community for Christ. This does not happen by accident, it must be a lifestyle that establishes in each of us a desire to those around us to come into a personal encounter with a living God.
  2. We are deliberate – We watch for opportunities to share our faith with others. We watch for opportunities to be Christ to another. We might be Christ incarnate to others. Someone has said that we should preach all of the time and some times we use words.
  3. We do so without ever leaving our zip code. This does not mean that we do not go on foreign mission trips; it simply means that we recognize our mission field is where we have a sphere of influence.

 Notice that word program is not used. This is not about establishing another program in the church but rather it is about a lifestyle of passionately displaying the life of Christ so that others can experience His love and touch of grace.

The core values of being on mission:

Every believer is a missionary and every believer is a minister.  In the NT we do not see a biblical distinction between evangelism and missions. In fact the word mission or missions is never used in the NT. We are called to share the message of hope to all we encounter that are open to hear the message.

2 Timothy 4: 5 –As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

 Acts 10:42 – And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.

Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Matthew 28:18-20 – And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Mark 16:15 – And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

We need to build relationships because in building relationships with others they will be more open to hear the message of Christ’s love.  Spend time getting to know others so that trust will grow. Think about how you came to know Christ. Was it not from a personal encounter with someone who loved you enough to share Christ?

We need to love exceptionally because in evangelism our actions speak as loud as our words. Maybe you have become aware of some hardship or a project your neighbor or co-worker is facing. Is there some way that you and your family may help in these things? Jesus knew how our actions speak as loud as our message, so he teaches us to “let our light shine before other men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

We need to proclaim courageously as this kind of evangelism is different than proclamation evangelism, so you may not share the gospel the first time you meet. But, be sensitive to the Spirit’s work and if he opens the door, don’t wait too long before you lead the conversation to spiritual things and to the good news about Jesus Christ.

We must talk their language by speaking in their vernacular.

  • The missional church avoids ‘tribal’ language, stylized prayer language, unnecessary evangelical pious ‘jargon’, and archaic language that seeks to set a ‘spritual tone.’
  •  The missional church avoids ‘we-them’ language, disdainful jokes that mock people of different politics and beliefs, and dismissive, disrespectful comments about those who differ with us.
  •  The missional church avoids ever talking as if non-believing people are not present. If you speak and discourse as if your whole neighborhood is present (not just scattered Christians), eventually more and more of your neighborhood will find their way in or be invited. Unless all of the above is the outflow of a truly humble-bold gospel-changed heart, it is all just ‘marketing’ and ‘spin.’

 We must practice Christian unity as much as possible on the local level. Today it is much more illuminating and helpful for a church to define itself over against the world’s values and the non-Christian culture rather than against other believers. It is very important that we not spend our time bashing and criticizing other kinds of churches. While we must align ourselves to denominations that share our distinctives, at the local level we must cooperate and reach out to and support other congregations and churches in our local area.

Characteristics of missional churches – Minfred Minatrea studied a number of missional churches. He defined missional churches as “Reproducing communities of authentic disciples, being equipped as missionaries sent by God, to live and proclaim his kingdom in their world.” He noted nine practices that they have in common (with my explanatory phrases in parentheses):

  1. Having a high threshold for membership (high expectations for believers).
  2. Being real, not real religious (being transparent, authentic, with one foot in “the world.”).
  3. Teaching to obey rather than to know (a practical faith).
  4.  Rewriting worship every week (Creative, participatory Sunday morning services).
  5. Living apostolically (each believer as a missionary).
  6. Expecting to change the world (aggressively engaged in transforming communities).
  7. Ordering actions according to purpose. (Ruthless aligning of resources with mission) .
  8. Measuring growth by capacity to release rather than retain. (Not megachurches but multiplying churches).
  9. Placing kingdom concerns first (in contrast to denomination first. Thus, cooperation with other churches).

CONFRONTATIONAL vs. PRAYER EVANGELISM

Confrontational Evangelism has followed this sequence:

  1. First knock on a door to meet a stranger.
  2. You have no credibility because you look just like other religious groups who use this approach.
  3. You intentionally patronize with a spiritual “one-upmanship,” i.e. “I have something you need,” or “your life is not right,” etc.

As you can imagine, the confrontational approach is threatening to the average believer, let alone the average resident who has faced too many of these situations before. As a result, only a small number of believers participate in evangelistic ministry, a ministry that is meant for all.
Prayer Evangelism follows the pattern of Luke 10:5-9:

  1. Speak peace – give blessing.
  2. Remain in the house – establish a relationship.
  3. Heal the sick – discover felt needs and pray for them.
  4. Proclaim the Kingdom of God is near – invite them to receive Christ.

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How’s Your Righteousness?

Sermon on The Mount

How is Your Righteousness?

Throughout Jesus’ ministry here on earth He dealt with those who were religious but failed to have a personal relationship with Him. Our study today is one of those cases.

 Matthew 5:17-20 – “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. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The first thing we see in this passage is that Jesus did not come to abolish the law. In verse 17 Jesus says “Do not think that I have come to abolish or destroy the law or the prophets” To understand this passage we must understand the meaning of “abolish.The word “abolish or destroy” means to deny their authority or to set people free from the obligation to obey them.

Instead of abolishing the law He came to fulfill the law – This means he came to complete the design of the law; to fulfill what was predicted; to accomplish what was intended in them. Additionally, the word “fulfill” can mean “to teach.” The law of Moses contained many sacrifices and rites which were designed to shadow forth the Messiah. These were fulfilled when he came and offered himself a sacrifice to God. Romans 3:31 states “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

A review of the Old Testament reveals that there were two sets of law:

  1. The moral law was that law established in the Ten Commandments and other vital laws that taught believers how they should act and honor God in their lives. In essence, Jesus did not destroy the moral law but He came to fulfill this law as He, through His death gave the power to overcome the very reason the law had been established and that was to overcome sin. He came to fulfill the moral law which means to establish, illustrate, and explain its highest meaning, both by my life and doctrine.
  2. The second set of laws established in the Old Testament was the ceremonial law. The ceremonial law looked to the day of the coming Messiah. The ceremonial law set forth a series of acts that the Jew was to participate in to have their sins forgiven. But in the New Testament Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross took the place of the ceremonial so that we no longer have to bring bulls, goals or birds into church to be offered as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sin. In Eph. 2:14-16 Paul defines this when he said For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

 The problem with the ceremonial law was that it powerless to do anything about the sin in our life. That is why the veil between the Holy Place and the Holies of Holies was torn into two pieces because upon His death there was no need for the sacrifices of the Old Testament.

 The Jews believed that the words of Jesus were contrary to the religion and faith of his followers, who assert, that the Law of Moses was being abolished. The rule which Christ came to establish exactly agreed with the scriptures of the Old Testament, here called the law and the prophets. The prophets were commentators upon the law, and both together made up that rule of faith and practice which Christ found upon the throne in the Jewish church, and here he keeps it on the throne.

Our Righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. The Pharisees of the day believed that they had a corner on the law and that they had some unique ability to establish the law but they themselves could not keep the very law they instituted.

All of the law will be fulfilled.

The righteousness of the Pharisees exposed – Jesus in this passage points out that the righteousness of the believer must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisses. To understand the issues the Pharisees had one must turn to Matthew 23. It is here that Jesus exposes who the Pharisee really was.

  1. The Pharisees did not practice what he preached. They expected everyone else to obey the law but they themselves were filled with excuses. (Matt. 23:2-3). Once again this speaks to the idea of being authentic and real. In other words we will not ask anyone to do anything that we ourselves are not willing to do. The Pharisees were critical and judgmental but they refuse to obey their own preaching.
  2. The Pharisees burdened the people with rules and regulations that they themselves could keep. (Matt. 23:4). Rather than preaching liberty and life they actually add chains and bonds to their converts. In other words, they are always adding to what it takes to be a believer thereby complicating the process and making conversion works based rather than grace based. (Matt. 23:13-15) The Pharisees were critical and judgmental of others who attempted to keep the law according to God’s purposes and His plans. You could never be good enough. It was easier to set a law than to deal with the issues of the heart.
  3. The Pharisees were more concerned about their outward appearance but inwardly they were cold and dead. All of their deeds were to be done to be seen by others. They make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love they place of honor at the feasts and the best seats in the synagogues. They love being greeted in the marketplace and they love the idea that they are known as a rabbi. They kept the outside clean but inwardly they were filled with dead men’s bones and all sorts of evil. (Matt. 23:5-7 & Matt 23:25- 28). They would dress the part and act the part but they were not close to God at all. It was an act. They were hypocrites. Hypocrites were those who were play actors. They wore masks to hide their true character and true intent.
  4. The Pharisees aimed to gain the praise of men rather than the applause of God. They tithed regularly but they neglected justice, mercy and faithfulness. (Matt. 23:23-24). The Pharisees priorities were out of order. They worshipped the temple more than the God of the Temple. When you accomplish things for God do you do gain a reaction from people or do you do them for God. There is a difference.

What about you today? Are you exhibiting Pharisaical attitudes? If so ask for God’s forgiveness and He will restore you to right thinking.

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Overlooking an Offense

When Should I Overlook an Offense?

Please note that these are a summary of Ken Sande’s words found in the Peacemaking Church.

Because we are family, the Bible teaches us that we should see conflict neither as an inconvenience nor as an occasion to force our will on others, but rather as an opportunity to demonstrate the love and power of God in our lives. This is confirmed by 1 Cor. 10:31 – “do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble…” Thus conflict resolution done right is an opportunity to glorify God, serve others and to grow to be like Christ.

God has called us to be peacemakers as he has called us to be ambassadors. God delights to breathe his grace through peacemakers and to use people to dissipate anger, improve understanding, promote justice and encourage repentance and reconciliation.

When we are dealing with issues in our lives and facing conflict we must have an understanding of when to overlook an offense. The reason for this is that it would be impossible for us to deal with every known offense.

Know when to overlook an offense.

To live life in community and to glorify God, serve others and grow to be like Christ sometimes we need to overlook and offense. When seeking forgiveness we need to understand that forgiveness requires more than just judging one’s sin as there are times that an offense must be overlooked.

  1.  
    1. Proverbs 19:11 – Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
    2. Proverbs 12:16 – The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.

God exercises kindness, long-suffering and patience toward us and therefore we should exercise kindness, long-suffering and patience toward others.

Romans 2:4 – Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 

Two diagnostic questions that can help us determine if we should overlook an offense.

  • Is the offense a persistent sin, a habitual sin, or the result of bondage to a particular sin? While God encourages us to be long-suffering he never calls us to overlook habitual, hurtful sin that causes damage to ones self or to others.
  • Is the offense hindering my relationship? If there has been a change in the way you view the other person or feel about the other person has changed then the offense should not be overlooked.

 Use the two day test:

  • If I find myself frequently reflecting upon my brother’s or sister’s sin for more than two days.
  • If it is there when I rise and when I go to sleep
  • If I think about it while I am showering and when I am driving
  • If I am reticent to greet this fellow believer at church.

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How Salty Are YOU?

Sermon on the Mount

How salty are you?

Matthew 5:13-16

As believers in Christ we have been created to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.”

Matthew 5:13-16 – You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

As we look at this passage this morning the first thing we must consider is that the Beatitudes which we have been discussing for the last several weeks give us direction on how we are to live as passionate followers of Christ. The Beatitudes give us an overview of the Christian life but this week we begin to look at some specifics of what it means to live as a Passionate Follower of Christ.

What did Jesus mean by these verses? In this passage Jesus uses the symbolism of salt and light to describe the life of a Christian.

Salt speaks of inward character that influences others.  Character is that inward quality that no one else knows about but you and God who sees the heart. Just like salt when it is applied to our food, it is invisible but we know it is there. So it is with our character it is invisible but we know it is there and we know when it is not there.

Salt has many uses:

  • As a preservative – Before refrigeration salt was used to keep food fresh. Even today some foods are cured in salt. While living in Virginia we were given some fresh pork. In the packages of pork was some fresh ham. The first time we cooked the ham it was horrible because we forgot to clean off the excess salt which had been used to cure it or preserve it.
  • As a cleanser – Salt has also been used as a cleanser. In the case of medical treatment it is used to clean out a wound and promotes the healing process.
  • To seasoning food – The interesting thing is we know when food has been seasoned and when know when it has not been seasoned.

Light speaks of the outward testimony of that point to God’s glory. This testimony is best seen through the good works that one does, not to be seen of men but to bring glory to God. The light is able to penetrate the darkness and give direction and hope. It does not matter how big the light. It is interesting to note that it only takes a small amount of light to dispel the darkness.

It should be noted that we don’t become salt and light “we are the salt of the earth and that we are the light of the world.” In other words as a believer one of the innate qualities of the redeemed life is that we have been created to be salt and light in this world. The key to Jesus’ words is that he tells us that we ARE salt and we ARE light. Salt and light are not some statuses to be attained. They do not take hard work to achieve. They are not the keys to our salvation. Salt and light are simply what we are as passionate followers of Christ.

Because we are salt and light:

  • God gives us identity – The identity we have is that we have been called to make a difference in the world we have been called.
  • God gives us a sphere of influence – Because we are salt and light we are to influence our environment – Jesus was implying that by living a Christian that we influence the environment in which we live. Both salt and light are forces that change an alien environment permanently.
  • God’s requires us to make an impact on the world around us. What changes when you walk into a room? How do you impact those around us?

Please note that we must give out the right amount of salt. If we do not use enough salt food is bland and tasteless. The same is true with our lives. Too often we make the Christian walk one that is bland, boring and without excitement. But this walk of faith for me is no boring. I enjoy the fact that as a believer I can have fun and I can enjoy life. However, too much salt causes one to be rejected. Have you ever tasted something that was too salty. My initial reaction is to spit that food out of my mouth if it is too salty. In our witness for Christ there are some who come across so strong in their message that they turn people off rather than turn them to Jesus.

The fact is every situation in our live will be different. In some cases we will need just a little salt and in others we will have to use a bit more salt. As believers the Holy Spirit will give us discernment on how salty we need to be.

The primary message here is that salt and light speaks of authenticity and being real. It means that we do not try to hide who we are or pretend that we do not have a relationship with Christ. The greatest need in our society is authenticity and realness. When we are salt we must hear the voice of God and be obedient to what He calls us to do.

If salt loses its ability to do these things then it worthless and was only to be used to pave the road ways to prevent grass from growing or to melt the ice and snow. God has called us as salt to have an impact on the world in which we live. The fact is we will have an impact whether we recognize it or not. Our task is to keep our lives pure that we might “salt” this earth and hold back corruption so that the Gospel can get out. Our good works must accompany our dedicated lives as we let our lights shine.

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Pastor’s Discovery Class Notes for February 13, 2011

Peninsula Community Church

Pastor’s Discovery Class

Seven A’s of Confession

February 13, 2011

Matthew 7:3-5 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? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Matthew 18:15-17 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Please note that the Seven A’s contained in this study are taken from the work of Ken Sande in The Peacemaking Church

The Seven A’s of confession

To live life in community and to glorify God, serve others and grow to be like Christ we must learn to be people who know the steps to confessing our sin and offenses to God and to one another.

1.      Address everyone involved and only those involved. Was this a heart sin or a social sin? A heart sin takes place in the thoughts and does not directly affect others. Therefore, it only needs to be confessed to God. But it does need to be confessed to others!

A social sin is one that involves words or actions that affect other people. When confessing these sins and offenses the confession should be directly to the person(s) who has been offended.

The guide in this, who did the sin committed affect. If the sin or offense affected only one person then go that person. If the offense affected the whole congregation then it must go to the whole congregation.

The caution here is that the circle of confidentially must be kept to a minimum and the circle should only be expanded when needed. Too often it is at this stage that we tend to talk to everyone but the person we have an offense with.

2.      Avoid if, but and maybe. To avoid ruining the confession one must not use words that shift the blame to others or that appear to minimize or excuse the guilt. The word ‘if’ implies that you do not know whether or not you did wrong. The conversation may be something like this:

Obviously you are upset about something. I don’t know that I have done anything wrong, but just to get you off my back I’ll give you a token apology. By the way, since I don’t know whether I have done anything wrong, I certainly don’t know what I should do differently in the future. Therefore, don’t expect me to change. It’s only a matter of time before I will do the same thing again.

It is not surprising that little forgiveness occurs when this type of confession is made. Listen to these phrases:

            “Perhaps, I was wrong.”

            “Maybe I could have tried harder.”

            “Possibly I should have waited to hear your side of the story.”

            “I guess I was wrong when I said these critical things about you.”

            “I shouldn’t have lost my temper, but I was tired.”

Dr. Tony Evans says that “if it contains an excuse, it isn’t a confession.”

3.      Admit specifically – I know I must have done something so whatever it is forgive me. It is easy to hide behind vague generalities but don’t do it, Identity your sinful attitudes (pride, selfishness, envy, greed, bitterness, ingratitude, stubbornness, etc,) and sinful actions. Remember conflict is an opportunity for God to expose who we are and to bring change into our lives. If you don’t know what is driving the offense pray and God will show you what it is.

4.      Acknowledge the hurt – we must acknowledge the ways we have hurt or wounded the other person. This must be done even if we have offended or wounded someone unintentionally. Where there has been pain we must acknowledge the pain that we have caused others.

5.      Accept the consequences – This is a concept that is lost. Too often we ask for forgiveness to avoid the results of our sin but when we have offended another or we have committed a sin that impacts others we must accept the consequences of those actions. That is why even though a criminal may have asked forgiveness for the crime they have committed they will have to serve the time.

How can we handle this? Here are some things that could be said:

“You have every right to fire me because of what I have done, and I wouldn’t blame you if you did.”

“It will take me some time to earn the extra money, but I will see that your property is repaired or replaced as quickly as possible.”

“Beginning this evening, I will call every person I talked to and admit that my statements were not true.”

6.      Altar your behavior – To be sincere in one’s confession there must be a change of behavior. Without a change of behavior there will be a question of whether or not one has truly confessed.  If we continue to do the same thing over and over again and continue to ask forgiveness the power of our request for forgiveness will be nullified.

7.      Ask for forgiveness but allow time. While one may ask forgiveness we must understand that the other person may not be ready to forgive so we must give them time to process their emotions and their willingness to forgive in return. There is a major difference between forgiveness and reconciliation.

In the end all of theses steps are meant to help us glorify God, to serve others and to grow to be like Christ.

The question that we must answer is there an issue that we must deal with or is there a person that we have an offense with that has not been addressed. I am not suggesting that you need to do anything now as I do not want this to be an emotional decision as I do not want this to be a false confession or a forced confession that does not come from the heart.

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Blessed are the Persecuted

Sermon on the Mount: Part 5 – Persecution for Righteousness Sake – February 13, 2011

Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12 in the Contemporary English Version says – God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right. They belong to the kingdom of heaven. God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. People did these same things to the prophets who lived long ago. 

 To fully understand this passage we need to define the words used by Jesus:

Persecute – διώκω means to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away by way of harassment, trouble or molestation. It also means to be mistreated or to suffer persecution on account of something. The idea proposed by this definition is that one individual or a group of people attempt to force another to flee. In our society we have seen a persecution arise against the Christian Church by trying remove Christianity from the public square and the public voice.

Revileνειδίζω – to reproach, upbraid, revile – It can mean both deserved and undeserved reproach. In this case they are taking this action in a face-to-face means as opposed behind one’s back. The meaning here is to voice a complaint against. In other words the persecutor complains and makes up false accusations against the one being persecuted.

Utter all kinds of evil – evils here is πονηρός which means full of labors, annoyances, hardships e.g. pressed and harassed by labors. The word relates to a full time of peril to the Christian faith and steadfastness. In a physical sense this word relates to blindness but in an ethical sense it means evil, wicked or bad. The root word here means to have great trouble or intense desire.  The word can mean human cruelty or that which causes trouble and brings sorrow. It is speech that brings disaster.

“Because of righteous sake… “It is absolutely necessary that we see that this is persecution, reviling and evil that come from righteousness. There are those in the world who have been persecuted beyond measure for their faith in Christ.

All around the world Christians are being persecuted for no other reason than their faith in Christ.

  • Pastor AK Paul – Beaten almost to death and left for dead but God spared his life. He converted from Hinduism and was attacked by the village leaders for doing so. He was disowned by his family and was banned from their village.
  • Pastor Francisco in Guatemala had acid poured into his eye so that he would remember where he came from. This was because he had converted to Christianity and left the drug cartel that he had been with. It was a miracle because the intent was to kill him by a slow death.
  • Iran – More than 70 Christians have been arrested
  • Afghanistan – Man to be sentenced to 20 years in prison if he does not denounce Christ
  • Somalia – 17 year old girl who converted to Christianity from Islam was shot to death in
  • Laos – Pastor Wanna and 10 other Christians were arrested for meeting in his home for worship

Watch this video with me: http://video.christianpost.com/20091024/international-day-of-prayer-for-the-persecuted-church-video/  Follow this link to watch the video.

Would you take a moment and pray for those who are being persecuted around the world.

While there is a real persecution that is taking place around the world I must make a statement that is critical to understanding God’s purpose in this passage. Notice that blessing does not come from being foolish, careless, or sinful. He said blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. God’s blessing comes from doing the right thing and still being persecuted. This principle is addressed by Peter when he stated

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 1 Peter 4:12-16

The fact is there will be times where we are persecuted for doing the right thing and at times for nothing more than taking a stand for christ. So, when we are persecuted for righteousness sake we must:

             Pray for those that despitefully use you

Luke 6:28 Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

             Show God’s love regardless of what happens

             Trust God in everything

             Remember that our goal is heaven and not earth

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Study Guide for Pastor’s Discovery Class for 2/6/11

Sermon on the Mount

Mercy and Purity of Heart

Matthew 5:7-8

Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

1. How do we define the term “Mercy?”

 Mercy–not getting what you do deserve / withheld punishment

Grace–getting what you don’t deserve / unmerited favor

2. Give an example of how we can show mercy to others?

3. Why is it important to walk in another’s shoes before we judge them? How does walking in another’s shoes effect the way we treat others?

4. How has God shown us mercy? How do the verses below show us the mercy of God?

1 Peter 2:24 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Ephesians 2:4-7 – But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

5. What does James tell us about mercy triumphing over judgment? What does this means for us? James 2:13 – For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

6. Is there ever a time that mercy should not be shown? What are some of these circumstances?

 Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

 7. How does one’s motivation for serving God speak of their purity of heart? How does one apply Matthew 15:18 in this case?

 

Matthew 15:18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

8. Why is character important? How would you define character? How is one’s true character exhibited?

Mother Theresa said that each one of us should keep a pure heart for that is the only way to see God in others. What causes one not to see people as God sees them?  

9. If we obeyed Philippians 4:8 on a regular basis how would the way we deal with people change?  

 

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 

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