Part 7: Blessed are the pure in heart

Part 7: Blessed are the pure in heart

It is embarrassing when paying for an item to be told the money you have just given is either fake or not legal tender. The pound coin is a current example with machines able to quickly sort the pretend from the real. Perhaps more sobering is the fall from grace of politicians, clergy and celebrities who have been previously trusted only to be revealed as hypocrites and pretenders.

In this sixth beatitude Jesus brings his disciples up with the examination of the inner life above outward appearances. God is looking at the heart, emotions and the real us. Our hearts can be either hard or soft, impure or pure. The apprentice of Christ is called to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Matt 5:48. We are to have integrity to live out an outer life, springing from an inner love and devotion and happy to be the person God has uniquely made us to be. The promise of purity and integrity is that we see God.

Questions:

1: What are we to understand by the word “heart” in this beatitude? Have you ever felt the need to fit in and pretend in areas of spirituality and if so in what areas?

2: Do you believe lasting change is possible in impure areas of your life? Do you understand that only God can take away our hearts of stone and bring those changes? 1 Cor 3:6-9 “only God can make it grow”.

4: Are there areas of impurity in your life, be that in the way you think, talk, view or pretend? Talk about these areas and seek to address them through repentance, belief, prayer and ongoing accountability. What do you think Jesus means by they will see God?

5: What hinders you from being open and transparent with your challenges and inner battles? What are your biggest fears? What things do you need to know from God’s word in order to make these changes and live with greater integrity?

Part 8: Blessed are the peacemakers

Part 8: Blessed are the peacemakers

I am always moved by the awards ceremony to unsung men women and children who have rescued or saved a persons’ life. A lifeguard diving into a stormy sea, an old man grabbing a robbers’ gun, a child calling 911 as their mum lies beaten and unconscious. People who are willing to risk failure or harm in standing up for those in need.

As we look at the eighth beatitude we are reminded that the disciple is a person who gets involved in the muck and mire of this world’s brokenness. We are not called to simply observe or try to maintain the status quo. We are called to bring about peace, harmony, reconciliation even if this brings us into conflict and misunderstanding.

Questions

1: What is the difference between a peace keeper and peace maker? Which are you? Are there current battles you are engaging with internally that you feel ground is either being lost or gained? Do you agree that the biggest battle you must win is with your mind?

2: Where in your world is there a conflict and injustices? What do you think can be done to bring about a change for good and the rule and reign of Jesus?

3: In developing a prayer life with Jesus is there a place regularly to pray for the world in conflict and particularly for the persecuted church? Share examples and resources available to help you be at war with the enemy of our souls.

 

 

Questions

1: What is the difference between a peace keeper and peace maker? Which are you? Are there current battles you are engaging with internally that you feel ground is either being lost or gained? Do you agree that the biggest battle you must win is with your mind?

2: Where in your world is there a conflict and injustices? What do you think can be done to bring about a change for good and the rule and reign of Jesus?

3: In developing a prayer life with Jesus is there a place regularly to pray for the world in conflict and particularly for the persecuted church? Share examples and resources available to help you be at war with the enemy of our souls.

 

 

Part 9: Blessed are those who are persecuted

Part 9: Blessed are those who are persecuted

When I first became a follower of Jesus my own family did not understand it and were pretty against my getting baptised. My friends at school made fun of me and called me a bible basher. It was my introduction to this beatitude.

One of the stories that helped shape my early years as a Christian was the story in the book, ”Through gates of splendour” the true story of five American missionaries trying to take the gospel to a tribe of Ecuador Indians and each team member being murdered. One of those missionaries was Jim Elliot who wrote before he left “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. Their story inspired many more to volunteer for the mission field including the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador where a church was planted.

Jesus’ kingdom advances throughout the pages of scripture and history with persecution, prison and martyrdom. When it comes to our lives we must be convinced of two truths. That the gospel is the hope for the world and that we are called to take it to many who will reject us and our message beginning with our own families. Despite fierce opposition and persecution the gospel is flourishing all around the world particularly in places like China and North Africa.

Questions

1: What is your biggest fear when sharing your faith with those in your family or place of work? Talk through the challenges you are facing in sharing your faith and the fears you may feel if people in your school or work know you are a Christian?

2: Are you facing opposition or difficulties because of your faith or because of your personality? Talk about ways that we can mistakenly face accusations for reasons other than our faith?

3: Are you aware of Commission working in areas of growing persecution? Talk through where you are aware believers are currently facing trouble and spend some time praying for them.

Part 10: Blessed are you when you are falsely accused

Part 10: Blessed are you when you are falsely accused

We are living in an increasingly politically correct world where we refuse to spend time understanding one another but rather want to label and categorise each person. Comedians in the UK agree that it is increasingly difficult to laugh at national or persona peculiarities without causing someone great offence. Our choice in music, football team, political party and dress often results in people pigeonholing us and even distancing themselves for no apparent reason.

The church needs to understand the world and culture around it and so avoid using words that mean one thing to us and another to the people we are speaking to. Words like Christian, radical, evangelical, faith, or even church can be words that cause accusation and misunderstandings and maybe limitations in our progress in sharing our life and faith. Yet even with the greatest care we will face false accusation and we need to be open and transparent in how we deal with these as well have good processes in place to ensure we take every accusation seriously.

Questions:

1: How do introduce your faith when talking to your friends, neighbours and work colleagues? What words have you found helpful or unhelpful?  Any words that have proved antagonistic or situations you have felt excluded from?

2: Why is it so important to include others when we face accusation? How does Jesus direct us when it comes to settle matters with another Christian? (Mat 5:23 and 24)?

3: In what ways can we rejoice and be glad when this happens to us? How do we do this practically?