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Tag Archives: Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

As for Us It’s Different

One of the most famous speeches in the New Testament is known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Using this mountain as a natural pulpit, Jesus begins his message with a set of attitudes to emulate. Just before making a transition to prayer and giving, Jesus uses logic to explain why Christians are called to a higher standard. To stand out like a lighted city on a hill, you need to go above and beyond what an average citizen would do. In other words, it’s different for us.

You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; 44 But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 [aj]To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].

After playing four sports in high school, I decided to take a step back and just do intramurals in college. Little did I know that I would become the Intramural Coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. One of my responsibilities was attending weekly coaches and referee meetings. During one of our basketball games, a teammate threw a punch and was kicked out of the game. Following his ejection, I had to explain to Chris the importance of “turning the other cheek.” While this discussion took an expected turn as Chris thought Jesus would have punched this guy too, my main point to him was as for us it’s different.

For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? 47 And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that? – Matthew 5:43-47

Jesus makes this clear in the passage above. Christians aren’t called to blend into their surroundings like a chameleon, Rather, anyone who enters into a personal relationship with Jesus is expected to gradually become more like Christ. This transformation won’t happen immediately. However, as new believers begin to study the Bible and ask other Christian’s questions, change will occur. Subsequently, as maturity takes place over time, James 1:2-4, Christians will come to realize as for us it’s different.

by Jay Mankus

Readily Pardon and Forgive

Pardon is the act of forgiveness where a judge or individual decides to cancel an offense. Despite being guilty and wrong, the written record of this offense is purged and removed. Perhaps, the apostle Paul was reflecting upon part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount when writing the words below. Whatever the inspiration behind this message, Paul encouraged members of the Church at Colosse to readily pardon and forgive.

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive], Colossians 3:13.

While the apostle Paul practiced tough love when the occasion or timing was right, what makes Christian’s different from everyone else is a spirit of charity, 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. Paul shares a similar message to the Church at Ephesus, to emulate the love of Jesus, Ephesians 5:1-2. Whenever you display grace upon individuals, whether they deserve it or not, love in action makes the unspiritual hungry for what you have inside your heart.

For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses, Matthew 6:14-15.

In the passage above, Jesus introduces the conditional status of forgiveness. Similar to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, genuine love waits for and is ready when opportunities arise to console, encourage and uplift. Based upon the clause above, how you forgive others will be the basis for how God forgives you. Anyone who is willing to readily pardon and forgive others on earth will receive the same outpouring of grace by God in the afterlife.

by Jay Mankus

When I Get Around To It

Prior to the second week in March, busyness could be used as an excuse for not getting around to doing something that you deem important. Depending upon your normal work schedule, certain unexpected things can alter your list of priorities. When businesses, cities and states began to issue work at home orders if possible, priorities changed overnight. Instead of using time as a lame excuse, free time at home is what many households had until their states began to re-open.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides, Matthew 6:33.

In the middle of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes some time to focus on motives and priorities. Unfortunately, the invisible forces of worry tend to distract individuals from what’s important in life. Instead of trusting God to provide daily bread, minds and thoughts often race out of control. By the time you find yourself in bed, what you didn’t get around to do is held off until tomorrow. Thus, for people like me, another opportunity to meet with God is missed.

And in the morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there He prayed, Mark 1:35.

Tired of rarely keeping my New Year resolutions, I have taken extreme measures to avoid skipping my daily time with God. Although I am not a morning person, I do have an advantage to practicing Jesus’ morning ritual. Since I work nights, I arrive home early 4 days a week. While I haven’t carried out my plan every day this year, I usually read a section of the Bible and pray before going to sleep. Instead of waiting until I get around to it, my first few moments at home in the morning are spent with God. Don’t fall prey to the when I get around to it trap. Meet with God right now!

by Jay Mankus

The Day Christians Didn’t Want Church to End

From the age of 6 to 16, my parents started to vacation in the state of Maine.  After renting a small cottage on Thompson Lake for a few years, a retired couple invited my family to stay in their A-Frame and Lodge.  Subsequently, Maine became like a second home, spending several weeks there each August.  While my birthday parties were small, I went fishing, golfing or running every day.  Eventually, my parents found a church in Oxford, about a fifteen minute drive.  To my pleasant surprise, this church ran like a clock, ending in 39 minutes every Sunday.  As a teenager eager to fish or play golf, this priest kept my attention, always short and sweet.

When the congregation of the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and the devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, talking to them were urging them to continue in the grace of God, Acts 13:43.

During one of their missionary journeys, Paul and Barnabas experienced the exact opposite reaction.  While preaching to a crowded synagogue in the region of Antioch in Pisidia, the audience in attendance did not work this service to end.  After being dismissed, several Jews and converts to Judaism begged Paul and Barnabas to keep teaching.  These souls were spiritually hungry, eager to learn more about the grace of God.  This desire reminds me of a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus reveals two key priorities.

But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also, Matthew 6:33.

Spiritual hunger isn’t natural, but when individuals take time to pray, read the Bible or worship God, the Holy Spirit alters human priorities toward spiritual desires.  Although I can’t recall ever wanting a church service to keep going, there are other moments in time that I didn’t want to end.  Spiritual retreats, certain vacations and my Tentmaker Leadership Training were so life altering that I wanted to stay.  Anytime you have to go back to reality is hard, especially if you are not happy with where you are in life.  Nonetheless, when you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you may find yourself like the service in Acts 13:43, not wanting church to end.

by Jay Mankus

The Role of Resolve in Prayer

According to Luke, one of the sons of Zebedee becomes the first of Jesus’ disciples to die a martyr’s death.  Apparently, the spread of Christianity threatened Agrippa I, the new king of the Jews.  It’s unclear why James was targeted, but he was executed in public to send a message.  When this act received praise from Jewish leaders, Agrippa I made plans to do the same thing with Peter.  As news of Peter’s arrest and rumors of another execution reached the church, fear drew believers to fall to their knees to pray.

Now at that time Herod [Agrippa I] the king [of the Jews] arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to harm them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword; Acts 12:1-2.

Based upon the passage below, the prayers lifted up to God were fervent and persistent.  Following the Passover, Peter was scheduled to be executed in a similar manner as James.  As this day drew near, prayers of the saints intensified.  Individuals were begging and pleading with God to deal with, fix and resolve this emergency immediately.  Based upon Acts 12:8-10, the Lord sent an angel to save Peter’s life, answering their prayers instantaneously.

When he had seized Peter, he put him in prison, turning him over to four squads of soldiers of four each to guard him [in rotation throughout the night], planning after the Passover to bring him out before the people [for execution]. So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent and persistent prayer for him was being made to God by the church, Acts 12:4-5.

During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the role of resolve in prayer is mentioned, Matthew 7:7-12.  Step one is obvious, ask God for any requests on your heart or that come to mind.  Step two begins when prayers aren’t answered, seek God to find out why.  Finally, be fervent and persistent by keep knocking on God’s door.  Don’t give up on prayer; resolved to keep praying until the Lord opens a door to reveal answers for your prayers.  This is the role of resolve in prayer.  May your prayer life begin to resemble first century Christians.

by Jay Mankus

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