Sunday, April 29, 2007

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON 21 February 25, 2007

Jesus Prepares Us to Take on His Attitudes
Theme: Good News to Share
Theme Verse: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10b NIV
Readings: Matthew 4:23-5:16
Memory Verse: "In the same way let you light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

      Read the Memory Verse again. Word received: I want your works to draw people to My Father. I want people to see My Father's love in what you do.

      "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people." (Matthew 4:23) Word received: That is exactly what I want you to do too. I AM a model for you. I have given you the Spirit. I want you to listen and follow His direction to increase My Kingdom and bring glory to My Name.

       PRAYER: Jesus, please come into our church and by your Holy Spirit preach the gospel of the kingdom, heal our sickness and every cause of dis-ease and un-ease. Read verse 24. Word received: I want news about Me to spread (now) too. Are you willing to share?

      Jesus helped people who needed him the most, those with physical needs and those with spiritual needs. The Beatitudes are really, really comforting to those who are humble, hurting and those who do the right thing (have mercy, make peace) and those who are persecuted. Share examples. PRAYER: Thank you Lord, for comforting us now with the strong and sure hope of what is ours and what will be ours forever. Help me to keep your promise in mind when we go through tough times.

      Then Jesus goes aside for a time of teaching his disciples. (Rabbis usually sat down to teach.) Jesus is giving us an "attitude" teaching about a way of living. These are statements of "how things are." They are not multiple choice. (Matthew has arranged the teachings differently than Luke. Some teachings may come from other occasions. Matthew has arranged them in five blocks, a parallel to the five books of Moses.) Jesus was an itinerate teacher (no radio/internet) so he would have said many of these things over and over, probably in slightly different ways to meet the needs in each situation.

      "Blessed" is understood to be a God's blessing of goodwill or grace in response to a way of living. Recall Aaron's blessing in Numbers 6:22-27. Blessing is associated with God's face (presence) and Name.

      "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:3) A word received: Seek after treasure that lasts to eternal life. Isaiah 66:2,5 helps illuminate this choice. "But this is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My word. (vs.2) "Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word." (vs.5) This is not being full of ourselves but knowing our need of God. It is laying up treasure in heaven. It is being humble and repentant before God. It is when we know our own poverty of spirit and need of repentance and take them to Jesus that we receive his bounty.

      "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4) A word received: When you grieve for your sins and turn to me, I will comfort you. Comfort would include both forgiveness and strengthening. They have been covered by his blood shed on the cross. Then there are those who mourn for the sins of God's people and the consequences, like Jeremiah and Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Isaiah 53:3 calls Jesus a "man of sorrows".

      "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."(Matthew 5:5) Meek means strength under control, in this case, under the control of God. (Psalm 51:7) The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit, (not shattered but broken as a horse is broken). a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Isaiah says in 57:13, "He who takes refuge in me shall inherit the land." A word received: I want to bless you with what you do not have. Yield your strength to me so that I may perfect my strength in your weakness.

      Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6) A word received: Open your mouth and your soul so that I may fill them. Come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (From Isaiah 55:1) We have to take a step forward, to open our mouths to drink, to receive what God wants to give us. Those who hunger for God make it their highest priority.

      At its core, righteousness is doing the will of God, as when Jesus said to John the Baptist, "It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." It is hungering for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38) were longing to see God's will and promises fulfilled on earth and God blessed them with a glimpse of his Messiah. Those who hunger to have more of God and His will, will be given more. "To him who has shall be given, pressed down, running over". (This does not exclude social justice. God cares about the poor and the "widow and orphan".)

       Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7) A word received: Hunger and pray for mercy in my church. Mercy is a quality of God himself (Psalm 86:15). Jesus said elsewhere, Be merciful even as your Father in heaven is merciful. (Luke 6:36), and two verses later, "For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

      "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8) A word received: Pray for clarity of sight, pray for repentant and purified hearts so that you may see me. The Greek word for pure here is "katharoi" which is exactly the same word used in John 15 for "pruned" "cleaned". God wants to prune, cleanse our hearts so we can live in him and he in us and bear fruit . It also has to do with the absence of double mindedness or a divided heart (no mixed motives). Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters"(Matthew 6:2) "The eye is the lamp of the body, so if your eye is single/sound, your whole body will be full of light. (Matthew 6:22). A famous Christian said "Purity of heart is to will one thing."

      Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9) Jesus called those who do the will of God his family, his brothers, sisters and mother. A word received: Bless me for my peace -- it passes all (underline) understanding. Unless we have God's peace within us we can't very well help others to find that peace. Peacemaking is not a passive thing. Paul was a peacemaker as he proclaimed what God had done so that not only were Jews and Gentiles finding peace with God (see Romans 5:1) but in Christ, that dividing wall of hostility between them was broken down so they might be One Body and members of God's family together. (Ephesians 2:14-19) Paul also tells us how to keep peace in the Body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:1-3) Paul was proclaiming the only one who could bring true peace. Word received: Our generation talks about peace without talking about the only one who can give it. Without Jesus no lives are changed. Today people want the peace of God without the cross and we can't get peace that way. He wants us to turn to him for His peace and bless Him for it.

      "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10) A word received: Pray for my people who are being persecuted -- that they may receive every blessing I intend for them. Remember that the prophets were persecuted for calling God's people back to him, to re-establish a right relationship. It is going on today. If people's hearts are hard, they want to silence criticism. The message we hear over and over from those who are being persecuted is "Don't forget us." "Pray for us."

      Another way of expressing what Jesus was talking about is what Paul called, "the mind of Christ" (Philippians 2:5). As we have the mind of Christ, we can be salt and light and fulfill God's purposes on earth. Part of Jesus' mind was his utter dependence on his Father and absolute commitment to do the Father's will. Jesus himself lived out the Beatitudes.

      It is an incredible responsibility to be salt and light in a world often in darkness and "gone bad" like spoiled food. (Salt was very important as a preservative.) People are looking at us, what we say, what we do when they know we are followers of Christ. PRAYER: May my words and actions reflect your light and your glory so that people will praise our Father in heaven (not us). This is part of the purpose of sharing thanksgivings on Sun. morning.

      Once again look at the choice to be light and salt. (vs.13-16) You have a choice about living as salt and light and not hiding it. Do we hide when we have a hostile environment? The point of light on a hill or a lamp on a stand is to make sure that there is no obstacle between the light and the world around it. It is to be "in the world but not of it". If we are hiding, no one can see the light and glorify God and turn to him.

       Word received: I want you to read my WORD and DO what it says. Just follow Me. As we do these things, live these Beatitudes, we become more like Jesus. We become salt to the earth (taste and preservative) and light to the world around us. God does NOT want us to hide.


Teaching Ideas for Lesson 21
Please read the Study Guide first. Go over Memory Verse to make sure the children understand it and then if they have memorized it.

      Remind them their parents need to sign a report slip monthly if they have read the lessons, so they will get credit at the end of the year.

      Make sure they know what happened in the story. Get them to tell you.

Basic points of the lesson for little ones:
p      1.Jesus wants us to become like him in our attitudes and in what we do. Jesus wants people to see God's love in what we do.

p      2. Jesus wants us to share the good news about him.

p      3.Jesus will comfort (forgive & strengthen) us when we confess our sins to him.

p      4. Jesus is the one who can give us God's peace and peace with one another.

p      5. Jesus wants us to READ his Word ( the Bible) and DO what it says, and Follow Jesus.

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