For the Leader



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For the Leader

I have struggled for years to find good materials to use for campaigners Bible studies. Even kids raised in the church are increasingly Biblically illiterate. Most leaders are interested in spiritual concepts and books that are way beyond the average 16 year old. Because we work with so many disinterested kids we need to be simple but not simplistic, these lessons are my attempt to help leaders expose kids to some basic biblical concepts while spending time learning from the greatest teacher ever to walk the earth, who gave the greatest sermon – The Sermon on the Mount.
A good campaigner leader must digest these teachings, live with the concepts and make the teaching her own. A good campaigner leader shares more questions than answers. A good campaigner leader helps discussions take on a life of their own.
We will discuss and understand how our story fits into a single, enormous, story that encompasses all of history, where God is the central character. We want to ask questions about what God is up to and how faith is experienced. We are not looking for “right answers”. We are looking for honest discussions.
We want to create a community among our small group where we can safely reveal ourselves to each other; our questions, our fears, our dreams, our mistakes.
Because groups are made up of a variety of people from disinterested and uncommitted to those with a faith background, we want to begin at a very basic level as we look at the Bible. Together, we will help each other gain a basic understanding of the Bible and how it instructs us about our story.
We all have a story that we want people to know and we are in the process of figuring out. We want to explore our stories but also understand that our stories are a part of this huge story of history where God is the central figure of the story.

God’s nature is to reveal (himself) everywhere and all the time. God does not hide from us where we need special knowledge or need to solve some mystery of how to find God.

Go make this your own! Jay Lindell


Where it all begins

Many other people, communities of people, institutions, and historical events have impacted us; parents, grandparents, marriages, farms, jobs, health, sickness, wars, businesses, popular culture, and schools. Events and people from centuries ago had an impact on how you ended up here with your unique personality and gifts. Events from hundreds of years, even thousands of years ago, have an impact on you today.


Welcome to Campaigners
1. We will create a community among our small groups where we can safely reveal ourselves to each other; our questions, our fears, our dreams, our mistakes.
2. We will welcome all questions and even encourage you to learn to ask questions about what God is up to and how faith is experienced. We are not looking for “right answers”, we are looking for honest discussions.
3. Together, we will help each other gain a basic understanding of the Bible and how it instructs us about our story.
4. It’s our nature to want others to know us and for us to know others. We will come to understand how our story fits into a single, enormous, story (meta-narrative) that encompasses all of history, where God is the central character.

Week 1 God’s Story & Our Story

  1. Draw a picture of your family & tell the group about your picture.




  • Can you think of one way your story was impacted by something that happened even before you were born? (Something in your parent’s or even grandparents story that impacts who you are today, what you like to do, what you don’t like, even how you got to this town.)

  • Now, Can you think of some other way your story was impacted even farther back in history?

2. Read Genesis 12: 1-9

This story from thousands of years ago impacts us today.

Do you ever think that if you are a good person good things will happen to you?

If something really bad happens, is it your fault?

"Blessed to be a blessing" is huge! It is God's nature to bless us.

He can't help himself! Do you know how God blessed the world through

Abram?


Week 2 Theme: “Blessed to be a Blessing”

Basic information for the leader.

God Promises Abraham that he will be the father of a great nation- hundreds of thousands of people. This nation will have a special relationship with God. God will take care of them, protect them, and provide for them. But this special relationship is for a greater purpose. Eventually every nation on earth will be blessed by God because this nation will show the world how things can be different with the one true God as their leader.
The concept is that people are blessed, not because they deserve it more than others, but because God’s method is that people of faith are allowed to participate in passing along the blessing to others. This is radical! This challenges the belief that events happen by chance or, you bring experiences upon yourself – Karma.
Abraham & Sarah have a son, Isaac.

Isaac has a son, Jacob (Jacob’s name is changed to Israel – one who wrestles with God)

Jacob has 12 sons which become the 12 tribes of Israel.

The first 3/4ths of the Bible is called the Old Testament or Old Covenant, which is about the relationship God has made with the people of Israel.


The Old Testament is made up of 39 books which make up the following categories.

History

God’s Law

Instructions on how this nation will be organized and live in obedience to God.



Songs of Praise to God (Psalms)

Prophets

These are people who critique how the King is doing. The King was not only the political leader but the spiritual leader as well. Prophets commented on the King’s obedience to the Lord.



Wisdom writings (Proverbs)

Pick & Choose questions for leaders

A) How have these people had an impact on your life?

George Washington Abraham Lincoln

Susan B. Anthony Thomas Edison

Henry Ford Winston Churchill

Martin Luther King jr. Bill Gates

Point: Our lives are impacted by people who went before us.

B) If you were the person in charge of starting a new country how would you organize

it? What laws would you make? What kinds of people would you appoint to be

leaders? Describe what this country would look like, feel like? How are you going

to lead?
Between the Exodus from Egypt and entering into the “promised land” Moses gives instructions to the people of Israel about how to live in the “promised land”. This is where Moses shares the 10 commandments he received from God in Deuteronomy chapter 5.
C) What would you new country look like if people followed these commandments?
Check out Deuteronomy 6 - The Shema. Shema means “Hear”


Week 3 God’s Design: Shalom

Last week we talked about how the nation of Israel was formed. The 12 sons of Jacob (remember, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel - “One who wrestles with God”) and all their families and servants ended up in Egypt. They were enslaved and oppressed in Egypt. But after 400 years in a nation with a good food supply and relatively good health, their numbers grew to the point they were a genuine nation.


After 400 years the time has come and Moses becomes God’s appointed leader to lead these Israelite people out of Egypt to the land God had promised Abraham – The Promised Land. They need to organize and structure their nation. Through Moses, God gives the people of Israel the 10 commandments. In addition to these he also lays out 613 laws in unbelievable detail! Why do they need all these laws anyway?

To understand this we need to go back to the Huge Story about God and all of history.

We need to go back to the first chapter of this story; Genesis chapter 1.

Are you familiar with the word SHALOM?

Shalom are both a greeting and a way to say goodbye. It’s used like Aloha in Hawaii.

But Shalom is a Hebrew word which also means peace. It’s spoken like a blessing.
But it means much more: wholeness, complete, perfect, health, prosperity, harmony, and justice. It means things are in order, the way God designed the world to be.
Look at the first four chapters of the Bible.
Genesis 1 Creation poem

Genesis 2 Creation narrative

Genesis 3 Human rebellion disrupts SHALOM

Chapter 4 Cain kills Able


Humankind rebels from God, interrupting SHALOM, the way things are supposed to be.
Sin affects our relationship with God. Sin also affects our relationship with others – Cain kills his brother. What are the other ripples of relationships that sin effects? Can your group come up with answers?

Relationships with;

Groups Nations Ethnicity Economics

Self Creation Environment

Disease War Greed
Why do you think we need laws?
Next week: God begins the process of restoring SHALOM.

Matthew 5:17-26 Murder

Jesus is teaching his followers. He is not teaching something entirely new. He is

Teaching about how the law, which they have had and are quite familiar with, is to

be fulfilled. Jesus then makes this incredibly difficult statement, “unless your

righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the

kingdom of Heaven.” This is almost impossible! The scribes and Pharisees spent their lives studying God’s law and trying to live obediently.

Jesus then goes on and uses teachings his followers would be very familiar with and adds to them. He makes it even more difficult to follow the law! He moves from an external measurement of keeping the law to an “Ultra-sound” examination of the human heart. Again and again, the master teacher says, “You have heard it said….but I say to you…”
Vs. 21-26

We all know murder is wrong. But Jesus equates calling someone a fool with murder. This challenges believers to not just think about our actions but to examine our hearts, the source of all our actions.


Of course, what Jesus is teaching is impossible… but so is being raised from the dead! Apart from the power of the resurrection, we are unable to live a life of obedience to God’s law. By the power of Jesus’ resurrection, with the help of the Holy Spirit, our hearts will be changed.

Read Matthew 5:17-26

Romans 8: 26-30

How do you feel when you read Matthew 5:20?

What comes to your mind when you read the section on anger? How are you doing?

Do you wonder, “why even try?”


We need a change of heart. Our hearts determine our behaviors. We need help from beyond ourselves if we are to succeed.

Romans 8 talks about the Holy Spirit helping us, molding our hearts to be like Jesus.

How do we put ourselves in a position to have God mold our hearts?

What gets in the way of God molding our hearts?

Can you think of someone who has a heart like Jesus?


Matthew 5 Adultery
What is the purpose of relationships?

Why did God create us as relational beings?

What is God’s idea of how we are to relate to others?

How has sin and brokenness changed relationships?

We are supposed to use things and love people but we often get it backward; we love things and we use people. Do you view relationships with others simply a means to an end? Which is to say, I am in relationships with people because these relationships benefit me in some way? If the potential benefit is gone, the relationship no longer has value for me. “I want to sell insurance but you don’t need any, so there is no reason for me to be friends with you.”

List ways we might see relationships as transactions?

______________________ _____________________

______________________ _____________________

Relationship without conditions is complicated enough before we add sexuality into the equation. Because of the brokenness of this world, it becomes very easy to relate to another person as an object, something to be used. In our culture it becomes very easy to view others as simply an object to be used for our needs, our wants, our pleasure. Our behavior always follows our minds. This brings us to Jesus teaching on Adultery.


Read Matthew 5:27-30

Once again Jesus takes a commandment and goes beyond the actual physical behavior to the heart.


Read Romans 12: 1-2

Community

Accountability

Holy Spirit to influence our thoughts and actions




Matthew 5:31-32 Divorce
This week’s teaching from the Sermon on the Mount is about divorce; Matthew 5:31-32. There are two parallel texts from the gospels of Mark (10: 2-12) and Luke (16:18). Each of these three has slight differences and the teaching in Mark’s gospel gives much more information. These are difficult teachings. When faced with teachings like this, it is important to take a look at the cultural context they were taught in and the larger discussion around adultery – such as God’s intent for human relationships.
This may sound like a broken record but think about divorce in terms of Shalom, Sin, and Reconciliation (Shalom restored).

In most all cultures over the history of civilization, women have been seen as the property of men. Even today in western/ modern, cultures you can see the remnants of this; “Who gives this woman to married to this man?” In the world Jesus walked, women were unequal partners in a marriage. A man could divorce his wife simply by giving her a certificate of divorce. When this happened she did not simply keep on teaching third grade at the local elementary school and set up a different household. She was literally out on the street. She had only a few options, return to her family disgraced, find another man to take her, or make a living somehow.

Jesus said that Moses allowed a man to divorce his wife because of your “hardness of heart”. Divorce is not what God intends. The same Covenant Relationship that God has made with Israel is the model for the covenant relationship God wants in marriage. In all three passages Jesus gives one reason divorce could be acceptable, adultery. In our culture we might add abuse as a good reason to walk away from a marriage.
What are some of the consequences of divorce?

What does God want the marriage relationship to be?

Describe your picture of an ideal marriage relationship.

Friends can have covenant relationships. How are your friendships?



Matthew 5: 33-37 Oaths
Words are a gift from God. Think about that – The capacity to communicate, to speak words and hear words is an amazing gift God has given to human beings. It is actually part of being created in God’s image. If language is a gift from God, then it makes sense that how we use words is very important.
Have you ever experienced someone verbally hurting a person and then respond with something like, “I was just kidding” or “I didn’t mean anything by it.” The childhood rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is FALSE! Words can hurt us. Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword.” Other ways Words can hurt is when someone doesn’t keep their Word or they say empty words.

How we use words is a window into our hearts!


Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat it’s fruit.

Here in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus knowing the power Words, gives us clear instructions. Just be honest. Just tell the truth. You don’t need to swear on your grandmother’s grave. Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.

Language most shows a (man); speak that I may see thee. – Ben Johnson
Have you ever been wounded by words? What was the circumstance?

What is the most wonderful thing someone has ever said to you?

Do you ever struggle with your use of words?

How so? Gossip, attacking people, negativity, misleading words.


Have you ever spoken about another person behind their back?

Is this a regular way of communicating for you?


How is SHALOM connected to our use of words?

Matthew 5:38-42 An Eye for an Eye

See also (Luke 6:29-36)


Think about this in terms of SHALOM, SHALOM BROKEN, SHALOM RESTORED, The Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
The teaching of the Old Testament Law was that if someone knocks out your tooth, you may knock out their tooth. If someone damages your eye, you may damage their eye. If someone punches you, you may punch them back.
This seems barbaric but it actually served a purpose; it is not acceptable to exceed the violence done to you. If a person knocks out your tooth, you may not cause them brain damage, or kill them. Remember when Jesus told the Pharisees, “Because of your hard hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wife”? The same principle is at work here. If you are unable to choose the best way – at least limit the damage.
The ideal is to resist the desire to retaliate, but if you do retaliate – you may not escalate the violence. You just need to watch the news or read the newspaper to see that violence always escalates; Israel & Palestine, Civil wars in Africa, Turks & Kurds, and the Taliban.

Now Jesus teaches the best way; don’t retaliate. He even gets radical and suggests if someone sues you, give him more than he asked for. He uses an example that each of his listeners would be familiar with - an example that would make their blood boil.

Israel was an “occupied territory”. The Roman government had taken over this part of the world. According to Roman law, a Roman soldier could approach any person and require them to carry their pack for one mile, but only one mile. If the soldier demanded more, he could get into trouble. But every person knew what it was like to have a Roman soldier interrupt your plans for the day. What would it be like to have a second, or even a third soldier demand this from you in the same day? I’d come home complaining, maybe worse.
Can you think of an experience you have seen where violence/ hurt escalate?
Besides having a tooth knocked out, what are ways people might be hurt by others?

At School - At Home - Sports - at work


How do you usually respond to this?
Have you ever seen violence/ hurt “deescalate” or lose power? How did this happen?
What role does forgiveness play in this? Have you ever had someone ask for your forgiveness? Have you ever asked someone for forgiveness?
How skilled is your family at reconciliation? Hint: How do your parents talk about your relatives and people they work with?
Matthew 5: 43-48 Love for Enemies
What is distinctive about a person who follows Jesus? How can you tell someone is a Christian? Is it that they go to church on Sundays? Do they act more religious than others? Do they use religious language? Do they have a higher morality? Do they vote a certain way? Is it the music they listen to?
On many occasions the people who had the hardest time with Jesus’ teachings were the people who were the most religious. He tended to call people out, commenting on their actions. This leads us into what Jesus would hold up as the absolute proof of a person’s faith – How they loved people.

If SHALOM is “the interconnected web of God, humans, and creation”, then loving others, not just our friends, is the key to SHALOM restored.

Romans 2:1

“Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you the judge, are doing the very same things.”


Matthew 22: 36-40

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? …. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”


Luke 6:41

“Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own

eye?”
Discussion

Who is a difficult person for you to love?


Some therapists/ counselors suggest that the people who bother us the most are those very much like us. Is this ever true for you?
Have you ever asked God to help you love someone who is difficult to love? What was the outcome?
How is SHALOM doing in your heart?

Matthew 6: 1-4 Giving
SHALOM is not a static state of being, the way the world once was. SHALOM is alive, moving forward, interactive. This week’s lesson is about giving. It is God’s nature to give sacrificially. We are created in the image of God, created to also give sacrificially. Giving is connected to SHALOM, it’s like breathing. God abundantly provides for us, we respond in faith by giving a portion (10% or more) back to God’s reconciling work. In doing this we demonstrate our belief that all we need truly comes from the hand of God and God will keep providing into the future. The discipline of giving keeps our hearts connected to God. It reminds us that God is the one who provides for us. Some churches sing the DOXOLOGY after the offering has been taken, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow..”

Genesis 28: 18-22

Fund the Temple

Provide for the community to praise God in festivals

Feed the hungry

Deuteronomy chapter 26

Leviticus 27: 30-34

Malachi 3: 8-12

These verses are all about how giving is part of living a life of faith.


In the New Testament the purpose of giving is to fund the mission of the church and care for the needy.
Fast Facts

Americans gave $307 Billion dollars to charity in 2008


Poor people give a greater percentage of their income away (4.3%) than rich people (2.2%). McClatchy analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Worldwide, 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation, and more than 1 billion people lack a clean and safe water supply. (chaitynavigator.org)
Questions

In what ways has God provided for your needs abundantly?

Have you ever experienced joy because you gave something away?

If you were given $5 million dollars, how much would you give away?

Reality check; If God provided you with $5 million dollars over a span of 40 years how much would you give away?


Matthew 6: 5-15 Prayer
The word “hypocrite” actually comes from a Greek work meaning actor. An actor is someone who pretends to be someone they are not. We all know people who act religious but don’t really live it out. In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus tells people not to put on an act when it comes to something as significant as prayer.

Think about it, when we pray we are in communication with the Creator of the universe! Do we need to heap up lots of empty words to be heard? Of course not! Do we pray so other people will think we are spiritual giants? Who cares what others think. It won’t make a lasting difference.

How do I communicate with the creator of the universe? Jesus teaches his followers how to pray in Matthew 6: 9-13. “Give us this day our daily bread” refers to God providing manna (daily bread) when the Israelites were in the wilderness. Do you hear the echo of SHALOM in this prayer? Remember SHALOM means; peace, justice, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, harmony.
What does it mean to declare to God that God is Holy?

What might God’s will being done on earth look like?

Have you ever experienced God’s will being done on earth?

It can be difficult to depend upon another. Daily bread suggests receiving not an abundance but “just enough”. In the wilderness, if the Israelites tried to collect more than a day’s worth of manna and quail, the food would rot.

Is there anything God is providing just enough of something to build your faith in him?

Matthew 6:19-21 Treasures
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and

where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where

neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where

your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Money is a neutral resource that is used for a purpose beyond the money itself. For instance, money can be exchanged for basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter. Most people receive money in exchange for work they do. You shovel your neighbor’s driveway and she pays you $15. The time and work it took you to shovel you neighbor’s driveway will get you 3 lunches, or perhaps an afternoon of snowboarding.

Different people have different skills with different values to the world. For instance, a teacher makes far more money than a person who works at McDonalds, and a surgeon makes far more money than a teacher. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus said, “to those who have been given much, much will be required.”

In the world that is both physical and spiritual, money and possessions make a promise of offering more than they can deliver. Would any of you turn down two million dollars if someone offered it to you? Yet, it has been proven over and over that winning the lottery is a death sentence to your health, your relationships, and then most people go bankrupt within five years. Really!
Jesus knew that humans have a tendency to want to accumulate money and possessions. Deep within we feel like more treasures will bring more to our lives. He also knew that we don’t find abundant life through our things. We find abundant life in Christ. So how do we experience this in a way that we can keep our possessions in the right perspective?

Questions

When you think about the future, aside from money and possessions, what are your dreams?


Describe what abundant life looks like for you outside of possessions.
Have you ever given something of value away and found that it felt good? What was it? What were the circumstances?
Honesty check.

Choose between; A) You are worth $10 million but divorced and alienated from your children or; B) Happily married, happy family and just enough to live on.

Matthew 6:22-23 The Eye

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Matthew 6: 22-23

Since the earliest days of computer programming there has been a phrase called “Garbage in, Garbage out”, meaning what comes out of a computer program is only as good as the information that goes in. Garbage in, Garbage out is true with people as well; If you study incorrect information, you will not do well on a test. With nutrition, we become what we eat, a diet filled with fat effects our bodies. Whether it’s French, English, Spanish, or swearing,the language we take in becomes the language we speak.

With relationships, what we take in effects who we become. If you hang out with people who treat you with respect, you generally treat others with respect. If you hang with people who treat you poorly, you in turn, will probably treat others poorly. Think reality TV - Garbage in, Garbage out.
The teaching of Matthew 6:22 is sandwiched in between teaching on treasures and on masters. The eyes give direction to the entire body. Mouth & stomach, hands & feet are all given direction by the eyes. The language and connection of eye to body is the same as speaking of a person’s heart and the connection to the soul. The “whole body full of light” suggests a person is “enlightened”. Dark suggests being led into numerous mistakes by confused movement.
The King James version uses the work SINGLE instead of Healthy. The word single would refer to clear vision, not clouded or double vision.
Q. Can you think of any Garbage in, Garbage out examples in your life?

What are some things that can cause “double vision” in our lives?

Is there a way you have been “enlightened” by having single (or healthy) vision?

Matthew 6: 25-34 Do Not Worry
Have you ever felt like things are going alright for now, but big problems are waiting just around the corner? Things are OK but they could fall apart in a moment? Do you ever feel anxious at school or home? School work/ tests, social/ friends, sports, family.
Do you ever feel anxious in other ways? If so, you are not alone. According the National Institute of Mental Health, over 18% of the adult population in the United States, have anxiety disorder in any given year. Lots of people are anxious.

Here in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus recognizes that people tend to worry and become distracted by their worries from the really important things in life.

Q. On a scale of 1 – 10, how much do you worry?

When worry enters your mind, what gets pushed out?

If you could have one wish granted what would you wish for?


Colossians 1: 15-17

“He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.


Q. What does it mean that Jesus holds all things together?
Fun Quotes

“Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things (food, drink, clothing, and shelter). But strive first for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” - Matthew


If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.  ~Don Herold
Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Keep in the sunlight.  ~Benjamin Franklin
Q. Have you ever anticipated trouble that never happened?
Matthew 7 Judging Others
Matthew 7: 1-5

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “let me take the speck out of your eye,” while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

Do you know people who always see the best in others? Do you know people who never speak poorly of others? What do people like this have in common? They have lots of friends! People just want to be around positive, gracious people. They build you up. On the other end, do you know groups of friends that resemble a reality television show? Do you know people who tear others down? Do you tear others down?

Back to the beginning: Shalom means peace, harmony, justice, wholeness. The result of sin is the breaking of Shalom which results in distorted relationships. In this passage, Jesus is giving us a picture of SHALOM. Don’t focus on what is wrong with _________, instead look at yourself. Often, it is the people who are most like us that bother us the most!
There is a huge cost to tearing other people down, both now and in the future, because you will be judged by how you treat others. There is a “here and now” reality to this truth as well as an eternal reality. You will be judged depending on how you judge others. God interjects himself into the equation. Check out these words from Jesus and the Apostle Paul.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Matthew 6:12


Therefore, you have no excuse whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things… Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Romans 2: 1-3
When you observe others, who well do you do in holding back judgment?

What do you see in others that bothers you the most?

Do you think judging others (complaining about others) is a learned behavior?

How might the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) fit into this?


Matthew 7: 7-12 Ask, Seek, Knock
1If you had three requests of God that would be given to you, but it needed to genuinely be for the good of the world - what would you ask for?

In a serious way, describe the “perfect” high school. Or, describe the way your home town should be.

Is there someone you know who is generous in spirit to you? What does that look like?

When you think of God, do you think of God as a God of abundance and generosity?

Why or Why not?


Matthew 7: 13-14 The Narrow Gate
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Jesus is using a metaphor to speak about life. A metaphor is a figure of speech in which an expression, like a road or a gate, is used to refer to something, like abundant life, that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s the interstate highway system was created all over the United States. Up until that time, people traveled two lane roads, passing through towns and cities. Where we now take a 3 hour trip to Chicago, years ago would have taken 6 or more hours. An 18 hour trip to Florida today could have taken 3-4 days before 1965.
When Jesus spoke these words from Matthew 7, he may have been standing on a super highway! Really. The Roman government was the most powerful, dominant government in the history of the world. One of the great achievements of the Romans was building a system of roads across the Mediterranean world. The Romans created thousands of miles of wide roadways. This made it easy for their army to move to distant provinces and to move commerce easily. Another thing Rome could move quickly and easily was their culture. The Roman culture was much more individualistic/ self centered culture than the Jewish culture of Jesus.
What is easy about the entering through the wide gate, or the road that leads to destruction?

What is difficult or narrow about the road that leads to life?

Can you think of a time you followed the crowd, and it was not a good choice?

Can you think of a time you made a difficult choice and later could see it was a good, healthy decision?

What do you think speed and patience have to do with abundant life?


Matthew 7: 15-20 A Tree and its Fruit
Perhaps the most important question in the world; “who will you choose to follow?”
We all have intuition. It’s difficult to define but almost all of us have an ability to determine whether we can trust another person. You may feel, “I like this person but there’s something about him I that just doesn’t seem right”. There are other people you just know you can trust or that they will always lead you in the right direction. You don’t know how you know it, you just know it.
This is also true about people who teach others about God and lead others. As a matter of fact, Jesus uses the image of a shepherd tending sheep in verse 15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves”. Shepherds literally were dressed in sheep’s clothing, a sheep skin, to keep warm at night and have the aroma of a sheep. Not all religious leaders speak truth!
In these verses, Jesus teaches us how to discern between people we can trust (and should surround ourselves with) and people we cannot trust (people we should not be around), “You will know them by their fruits”.
Example; You get along well with a friend, but over time you realize he/she is always criticizing others behind backs. That is the bulk of your conversations – what is wrong with others. You should;



  1. Think everyone your friend talks about is messed up and deserves to be criticized.

  2. Be glad your friend doesn’t treat you that way.

  3. Wonder what your friend says about you when the two of you are not together.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he defines the Fruit of God’s Spirit as; Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

How do you know who to trust? Take a step back and look at their life. What do you see? Do you see fruit? Do you see bitterness or joy? Do you see anxiety or peace? Do they use harsh words or gentle words? Is there something boiling over inside or are they patient?
Questions

What are some warning signs of false prophets?

Much of how we see people and relate to people comes from our family. Has your family mostly produced good fruit or bad fruit in relating to others?

When you hear Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness…. Is there a person you think of?


What are some things you can do to move toward becoming a person who bears good fruit?

Matthew 7: 24-28 Hear & Do
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell- and great was the fall!

Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”



Interestingly, both houses, regardless of the foundation, will experience rain, food, and wind. Jesus’ words suggest that every person will experience difficult circumstances in life such as injury, sickness, rejection, and injustice. Jesus never said, “if you follow me your life will be easy or great.” He actually said, if you follow him your life will be difficult. But he also said he came so that we may have abundant life.

The big question is; have you built your house on a solid foundation or a weak foundation? A solid foundation means putting into practice the lessons Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. A poor foundation means putting your trust in things that can not deliver.

Do you trust in your athletic abilities to get you far in life? How many professional athletes have come out of your high school in the last 10 years? Do you look to a girl friend/ boy friend to give your life meaning? Do you hope for Money? Fame?

Questions

How is an abundant life different from a life where everything seems to go your way?
Look back at all the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Is there anything you’d like to spend more time thinking about or working on?
Is there something beside Jesus and his teachings that you are building your life on? What might it be?
What does SHALOM look like in your life? How can you help create SHALOM in your family, circle of friends, work place?

Questions

How is an abundant life different from a life where everything seems to go your way?
Look back at all the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Is there anything you’d like to spend more time thinking about or working on?
Is there something beside Jesus and his teachings that you are building your life on? What might it be?
What does SHALOM look like in your life? How can you help create SHALOM in your family, circle of friends, work place?

Questions

How is an abundant life different from a life where everything seems to go your way?
Look back at all the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Is there anything you’d like to spend more time thinking about or working on?
Is there something beside Jesus and his teachings that you are building your life on? What might it be?
What does SHALOM look like in your life? How can you help create SHALOM in your family, circle of friends, work place?

Questions

How is an abundant life different from a life where everything seems to go your way?
Look back at all the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Is there anything you’d like to spend more time thinking about or working on?
Is there something beside Jesus and his teachings that you are building your life on? What might it be?
What does SHALOM look like in your life? How can you help create SHALOM in your family, circle of friends, work place?


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