Saturday, February 27, 2021

Sermon On The Mount - Part 6: "Judging & Discerning"

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount continues; today is Part 6, The Mount of Beatitudes in Israel is located on the Korazim Plateau, overlooking the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Today, there is a church-shrine atop the hillside, because it is believed to be the place where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. It’s a bit north of Capernaum, Jesus’ home base during His ministry, and north of the village of Migdal, the home of Mary Magdalene. From the hilltop, weather permitting, one can see “The Arbel” to the southwest, a mountain that was split by a valley through which prevailing winds from the Mediterranean blow in from the west, often causing storms on the Sea. And also weather permitting, the City of Tiberius at the southern end of the Sea can be seen from the top of the Mount.

Jerusalem lays almost 75 miles to the south, a city bustling with commerce, high density housing, and the Nation’s Seat of Government. It’s no wonder that Jesus chose the Galilee as His base of operation for His ministry to the masses. The pace of life was slower, and the atmosphere of the region would naturally be more relaxed. The soil was fertile, as opposed to the rocky dry ground of the Judean Hills.

The Sermon on the Mount brings a more relaxed, and person-to-person message first to the Apostles, and later to the masses gathered around them, as we see at the end of chapter 7.

Following Jesus takes folks away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, and away from the responsibilities of home and work, at least temporarily. He literally ministers to us away from the burdens and distractions of daily living.

His words go right to the heart and bring healing.

Oh! If we could just stay in that place! While we are even yet in the world, He calls us to not be part of it.

How do we respond when we hear Him tugging at our hearts, and beckoning us to His feet? There at His feet we find peace in His presence. Lazarus’ sister Martha had a heart to serve others. But Jesus declared that Mary, her sister, had chosen the good part, at His feet, listening to her Lord.

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, 
which shall not be taken away from her."  - Luke 10:42

Today's Audio MessageMatthew 7:1-14

The Sermon On The Mount - Part 6:  "Judging & Discerning"

As Jesus continues teaching the disciples in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount, He is still dealing with the heart and attitude of a believer.  If our righteousness is to exceed that of the Scribes and the Pharisees, we must stop acting like them.  A prideful heart, with an outward appearance of righteousness, yet living by a double standard is the exact definition of being a hypocrite.  As a disciple of Christ we are to examine our own hearts, yield ourselves to His will, remain in the careful reading and study of His word, seek Him through prayer - as we correct our behaviors, and change our  attitudes.   

In chapter seven the Lord continues this theme.  Jesus is reproving impetuous and reckless judgment of others.  God has created us each with a godly trait, that is to know the difference between good and evil.  While we are not to run around judging others like the Pharisees, we are to apply discernment in what is right and wrong, good or evil.  He is not forbidding our “forming an opinion” of the conduct of others, it is impossible not to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. What He is referring to is a the practice of forming judgment hastily, harshly, unnecessarily and wrongly.  

It is also important to remember that our Lord is teaching His disciples.  These teachings do not apply to the unbeliever.  We don’t offer godly precepts and doctrines to those who spurn, oppose, and abuse those doctrines, nor do we offer that which is precious to those who are corrupt, profane, obscene, or sensual - they do not value the gospel and will tread it down under foot. Spiritual disciplines are for those who are in Christ - those who are unbelievers need to hear the Gospel of salvation.

Jesus continues to exhort them in prayer.  Pray; pray often, be serious and sincere. Ask, seek, knock and you will find that your Father in heaven knows our needs and will provide what is good and fit for us.

Lastly, there are but two ways right and wrong, good and evil; the way to heaven and the way to hell. The way of sin and sinners is the wide gate.  It’s easy to pass through.  There are no check points, you can carry with you all of your lusts and carnal appetites.  The path is broad - everything and anything goes, but it is not the way to heaven, it is the way to destruction.  The way to eternal life is narrow. It’s a strait gate.  You cannot carry with you your baggage of sin, lusts, and carnal appetites, you must leave them behind.  The road ahead is difficult, temptations must be resisted, and we must walk with great care.  We will face much tribulation along the way - but there is great reward at the end. This is the way that leads to life, and few will find it.  

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