God of Miracles – Week 3 (Leader’s Guide)
Positioning ourselves for a Miracle
VIDEO: Show tonight’s video here: God of Miracles – Week 3
ICEBREAKER: Have you ever read the Sermon on the Mount? If so, what is most memorable to you? What teaching do you struggle with the most?
[Q] Briefly discuss the message from Sunday.
[Q] Name one thing that stood out to you from Sunday’s message.
[Q] Is there one question from Sunday’s message that you would like to ask or discuss?
[Q] What did you sense the Holy Spirit saying to you during the message?
[Q] Pastor Nithin discussed how confrontation is not the same as retaliation. What does it look like to confront rather than retaliate?
[Q] Pastor Nithin asked if there was someone you need to go the extra mile for? Who came to mind?
[Q] How have the Beatitudes come to life for you in a new way?
APPLY THE BIBLE:
During the three years between His baptism and His death and resurrection, Jesus traveled throughout Israel ministering to the people. There were two main aspects to the public ministry of Jesus. One aspect, which we have been studying, are the miracles He performed. But before we go further, we want to look at the other aspect of Jesus’ ministry, which is His teaching.
As a reminder, we read in the introduction to this series, that Kerry Shook tells us in his book, Find Your Miracle, that God’s miracles always lead us to what we really need most – a deeper relationship with God. Shook says only God can provide a miracle, but we have to put ourselves in a position to receive them. So, how can we practically posture ourselves to be in a place of surrender so that we are open to all God wants to do in our lives? As we embark on this Pilgrimage of the Heart together, we can take comfort in the fact that God never leaves us to figure life out on our own – He is with us every step of the way! This week, we will look at Jesus’ extraordinary teachings on the Sermon on the Mount and learn how to surrender our hearts so we can grow in a posture of humility, faith and expectation!
The Sermon on the Mount in Chapters 5-7 in Matthew’s Gospel contain some of the most important teachings of Jesus. Pastor Tim Keller called these teachings of Jesus the “Upside-Down Kingdom! ” It is upside down to the way the world expects us to live – Jesus says “You have heard that it was said,” many times throughout this teaching, in an attempt to help those in attendance, and us, what those Mosaic Laws really meant. He begins with the Beatitudes, and their call to humility, peacemaking, purity, and righteousness, and continues on to sharp condemnations of anger, lust, revenge, and hypocrisy, and then to the beautiful example of the Lord’s Prayer. This is followed by strong admonitions against materialism, worry, and judging others. These teachings end with Jesus’ encouragement for His followers to pray frequently and fervently, to live by the Golden Rule, to bear good fruit, and to build their lives on His Solid Rock.
Here is one great quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer on these teachings: “Humanly speaking, we could understand and interpret the Sermon on the Mount in a thousand different ways. Jesus knows only one possibility: simple surrender and obedience, not interpreting it or applying it, but doing and obeying it.”
Have several people read Matthew Chapter 5
[Q] What parts of this Scripture stand out to you?
[Q] Verse 17 is a summary statement by Jesus regarding His entire ministry. What do you think it means?
[Q] In verses 21-48, Jesus starts each statement with, “You have heard that it was said,” and then changes directions by saying “But I tell you!” Why does Jesus use this method to teach his lessons here?
[Q] What effect does this teaching have on your heart?
Have several people read Matthew Chapter 6
[Q] Which sections/verses of Chapter 6 stand out to you?
[Q] Jesus introduces a new theme in Matthew 6: 1-18. He tells us that we should beware of practicing our righteousness before others, or we will have no reward from our Father in Heaven. However, in Matthew 5:16 he says, “ let your light so shine before men.” Is Jesus contradicting himself? What do you think he means?
[Q] What are the three spiritual disciplines Jesus discusses in Chapter 6? Why do you think he emphasizes these? Are these part of your regular spiritual disciplines? How can we encourage one another to grow in these disciplines?
[Q] Jesus begins Matthew 6:25-34, with the word THEREFORE. How should we read this section? How can this help us not to be Anxious?
Have several people read Chapter 7.
[Q] Which sections/verses of Chapter 7 stand out to you?
[Q] Even for those who know very little of the Bible, Matthew 7:1-5 are verses that seems to be quoted often. Yet most the people who quote this verse don’t really understand what Jesus said or the context in which he said it. How would you explain this verse in the context of the Sermon on the Mount which Jesus is teaching?
[Q] Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 7:7-11 should be an encouragement to us as we are praying for miracles throughout this series. Is this a guarantee that God will give us anything and everything in prayer? How do we understand this teaching, especially in light of Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6:9? How will it affect your prayers for a miracle?
[Q] Jesus concludes this teaching with a parable about a wise and foolish man and the way they built their homes. Charles Spurgeon, famous preacher of the 19th C said, “The wise and the foolish man were both engaged in precisely the same avocations, and to a considerable extent achieved the same design; both of them undertook to build houses, both of them persevered in building, both of them finished their houses. The likeness between them is very considerable.” While we have only hit the highlights of this important teaching, when you reflect on your life, where may God be calling you to firm up the foundation? Which teaching in this message has impacted you?
Remember, the Sermon on the Mount isn’t all that we need to know or all that is true of the gospel. The end-game of the gospel story is the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. Through his faithfulness he brings about a new covenant between God and humanity. On this basis alone, empowered by the Spirit, we’re made alive. All of this is by grace, God’s grace.
Kerry Shook reminds us that when we read Jesus’ teachings, we may feel discouraged that we have not lived up to this standard. That is never Jesus’ intent! Read what Zechariah the prophet’s son, Jahaziel speaks to King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:17:
You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’
Tonight, as you pray for one another, remind one another that we don’t have to be afraid. We can position ourselves to receive God’s blessings and miracles when we humble our hearts before the Lord; give God the Glory He deserves, thank Jesus for all He has done on our behalf, and allow our faith to grow as we lean and trust our Good Father in greater measure.
CHANCE TO SERVE
We hope your Group has been able to serve together or has made plans to serve actively outside of the Group. The Relief Bus usually has a wait, so if you sign up now, could serve in the next couple of months. Or Liquid’s Parents Night Out is held monthly. It would be great if you could coordinate your calendars to find a way to serve! There are always opportunities for you to sign up to serve on our Web Site.
This lesson is a rather long one, but if you have Group members who may have already studied through some of the main concepts discussed above over the course of their lives, you may want to key in on some of the more difficult passages in Chapters 5-7.
Read Matthew 5:43-48
[Q] What does Jesus mean when He says that God causes the sun rise on both evil and the good and the rain on the just and the unjust? Also, we talk a lot about not having to be perfect, but v. 48 says, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect!” What does that mean?
Read Matthew 6:22-23
[Q] How can our eyes guide us to darkness?
Read Matthew 7: 21-23
[Q] Jesus says something that can be disturbing to us as His followers: “I will declare I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Who is Jesus speaking to?
[Q] Any other comment or question you may have?
No wonder Matthew follows up the Sermon on the Mount with a comment that the people were amazed at Jesus’ teaching: he wasn’t like their scribes, always quibbling and quoting; “he was teaching them as one who had authority” (Matt 7:29). Jesus is implicitly claiming to be the New Authority on the scene.
We are hoping that this time in the Sermon on the Mount reminds us of the glorious Kingdom Life Jesus invites us into! This wisdom from God, invites us through faith, to re-orient our values, vision, and habits from the ways of external righteousness to whole-heartedness toward God. This isn’t “law” but “gospel.” Jesus is inviting us into life in God’s kingdom both now and in the future age. This is grace. No one can perfectly perform the vision of the sermon (except Jesus), but this doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant to our lives. By faith and through grace Jesus is inviting us into a practical life of discipleship. We participate in and (imperfectly) imitate his Father-trusting, kingdom-awaiting way of being in the world. We are hoping that this rightly ‘positions’ us as we continue to look for miracles, to trust more deeply our beautiful Savior and Friend, Jesus and His perfect wisdom and will for our lives!