What God is Saying

Sing to the LORD; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. — Psalm 96:2-3

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Sermon on the Mount

Seeing the crowds He went up on the mountain, and when He sat down His disciples came to Him. And He opened His mouth and taught them saying: 
Matthew 5:1-2

  The Bible, God's Word to us His followers, has 2,035 pages (depending on your translation). That's a lot to read, study and put into practice. It's especially overwhelming when you think about teaching it to your children.
     While EVERY word of the Bible was written because God thought it was important, there are three chapters that stand out. If each disciple of Christ were to learn these three chapters, even commit them to memory, we would know how to live. If we were to put these three chapters into practice in our daily lives the world would be turned upside down!
     It has been said if you took all the good advice for how to live ever uttered by any philosopher or psychiatrist or counselor, took out the foolishness and boiled it all down to the real essentials, you would be left with a poor imitation of this great message by Jesus.
     This message is found in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 and also in Luke 6:17-49. It's popularly called the Sermon on the Mount.
     Jesus had just chosen His disciples (Matt. 4:8-22 & Luke 6:12-16). He is surrounded by crowds of people all desiring to be near Him in the hope that He will heal them. Now, He goes up on a mountainside, sits down, calls His disciples to Him and begins to teach them what it looks like to live out the Kingdom of God on earth.
     His teaching was hard, it's nothing like what the people expected. When they began to look to Jesus as the Messiah, they were expecting to hear about the political or material blessings He planned to bring them, to hear about how He would overthrow Rome and re-establish the kingdom of Israel on earth. But they didn't expect to hear that you are blessed when you are poor, mourning, meek, hungry, thirsty, merciful, pure, peacemakers and persecuted. They didn't expect to hear about being salt and light, the dangers of anger, worry and judging others, loving your enemies, prayer, fasting, living for Heaven and seeking God.
     His teaching is still hard today. But it is the heart of what it means to be His disciple, His follower. And since it is His heart, it should be our heart as well. One way to do that is to commit it to memory. Three chapters may seem like a lot to memorize but what about three verses, once a week, for a whole year? That's what Ann Voskamp encourages her readers to do and she has made it easy with a printable list of the scripture verses, three for every week. You can find a link to this at Memorize the Mount
     My children and I have begun this challenge. We are on week three. As we began to memorize the Sermon on the Mount, I realized that I also needed to teach them its significance. That's where this blog comes in.
     My prayer is that for the next year I will be able to share with you the insight the Lord, and other writers, have given me on each portion of the Sermon on the Mount, in a weekly blog entry. I encourage you to Memorize the Mount, ponder its message, commit to obey what it teaches and marvel at God's promise that He will help us obey it as we place our trust in Him.

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