Blessed are the pure in heart
An overview of Matthew 5
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10
In the "Beatitudes" (Matthew 5:1-12), Jesus presents the normal lifestyle of the Christian. Our Lord, who has Himself shown us what it means to be perfect and holy, now calls all His people to a life of perfect holiness. Yet, all through this message He reminds us that its impossible for us to reach this perfection on our own. What, then, can we do?
The secret to triumphant life in Christ is not trying to do my best; itís trusting my all-sufficient Shepherd. It's not seeking to empower myself, but recognizing that on my own I am inadequate. Its not building self-esteem, but "looking unto Jesus" - my Savior and my Friend.
To the extent that I accept the truth about my own neediness and Godís greatness, Jesus Christ can freely live His life of perfect love in and through me. "For with God nothing shall be impossible." (Luke 1:1) Therefore "my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19)
Read, ponder and meditate on His wonderful Word and promises. They hold the key to abundant, victorious life with Him forever.
Precious Lord, open my heart and mind to understand the secrets of the abundant life. I want your way, not mine -- your perfect holy life, not my finite, failing life. Apart from You I would fail, but by Your Spirit, I can share in Your triumph. Therefore, I yield myself to you so that you might accomplish your purpose in and through me.
FIRST DAY: Read Matthew 5:1-8. Note: This foundational part of Jesus' sermon speaks of the condition of the believer's heart. It could be called "Capacity to Receive." Our hearts are like the soil in the parable about the sower (Luke 8). The seed, Gods Word, remains constant, but the soil changes. Only good soil a ready heart can receive and nurture the seed, then produce fruitful new life. The Beatitudes show us how to prepare our hearts to receive His Word.
1. What common elements do you see in these promises?
2. (Personal) Someone has wisely said, "Gods way up is down." Consider what these verses tell you about Gods loving purpose in your difficult circumstances. Might He be enlarging the capacity of your heart to receive more of the riches He longs to give you? Will you let Him prepare you to receive His greater blessings? Please tell Him your answer.
SECOND DAY: Read Matthew 5: 10-16. This section concerns the Christian's relationship with the world.
1. Before his death, Jesus prayed to His Father about us, saying, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:14-16) Why then might this next section of the sermon be called, "In, but not of, the world"?
2. In vs. 9, 13-16, what is God asking you to be for Him as you live in the world? (A deep awareness of your identity in Him prepares you to live that wonderful reality.)
3. What is God's message to you in vs. 10-12? Were you encouraged by these promises? Why, or why not? (Optional: For deeper insights see Romans 8:17-18 and Phil. 3: 7-10)
Note: Matthew 5:1-6 might be considered a general introduction and an outline of the rest of this sermon. Now we will look at some specifics.
THIRD DAY: Read Matthew 5:17-48. The remainder of chapter 5 might be called "The Believer's Righteousness" or "Right Standing Before God."
1. In light of this passage, why might v. 20 be considered the key verse?
2. How does this verse emphasize the difference between human goodness (and good intentions) and the "righteousness" believers have through Christ and the cross?
3. Why, then, was God's "righteousness" so precious to Paul? (See Philippians 3: 7-10)
FOURTH DAY: The Old Testament shows us various responses to God's call and guidelines. Some lead to failure, others to victory, When Moses told the people God's instructions for possessing the promised land, they presumptuously answered, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do!" (Ex. 19: 8) Why might such a statement actually lead to failure?
When Jehoshaphat faced a difficult battle, he prayed, "we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee," (II Chronicles 20:12) Why would this statement lead to victory?
5. (Personal) How do you pray when facing a difficult battle? Consider what your words reveal about your attitude toward God end toward yourself?
FIFTH DAY: To prepare your heart to receive all that God wants to give you, ponder (and, if you are willing, memorize) the words of Psalm 25:1-2, 4-5. From the content of this prayer, what seems to be the condition of Davids heart?
Are you ready and willing to receive and believe that the God who calls you to live with Him in His kingdom is also able to accomplish it in you? How does 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 encourage you?
All the way my Savior leads me
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.
For the melody to this hymn by the wonderful blind hynmwriter, Fanny Crosby, click on http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/l/altheway.htm
The Secret of Abundant Life: Lesson 2
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