unchristian: reframing our faith through meekness

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Jesus continued to shock His audience as He shared the third Beatitude – “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” As the nation of Israel anticipated the coming Messiah, they did NOT anticipate Him to come with humility and meekness. They had been waiting for their savior to come and overthrow the bonds of the Roman Empire, setting up the Kingdom promised by the prophets. Into this setting Jesus arrives, stating that “the Kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15). But it is so different from what they expected. What does it mean to be meek, and why is this trait so highly valued by God?

SCRIPTURE

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

GROUP QUESTIONS

If someone were to describe you as “meek”, how would that make you feel?

Webster’s Dictionary has three definitions for “meek”: 1) enduring injury with patience and without resentment; 2) deficient in spirit and courage; and 3) not violent or strong. Read Matthew 5:5. Do you think that any of Webster’s definitions fit what Jesus is saying?

Read Psalm 37:7-11. List five traits of a meek person found in this passage:

  • ________________________________
  • ________________________________
  • ________________________________
  • ________________________________
  • ________________________________

1 Peter 2:21-24 gives us Christ’s beautiful model of meekness. How does your view of meekness change in light of Christ’s example?

Read Galatians 5:22-23. Is “meekness” (translated here as “gentleness”) something that you can muster on your own?

In your opinion, what does it mean that those who are meek “will inherit the earth”?

APPLICATION

Take some time this week to go through the following questions. If you answer yes to any or all of these questions, ask the Spirit to cultivate meekness in your life.

  • Am I harsh in my treatment of others?
  • Do I make sure I get mine first?
  • Am I known as someone who should never be crossed?
  • Am I willing to do menial tasks?
  • Do I make people pay for their mistakes, sins, or failures?
  • Does rage fill my soul such that life is a series of explosions?
  • Am I unwilling to sacrifice (or put myself in second place) for others?
  • Do people tip-toe around me because of my mood swings?
  • Do I always have to be right?

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read the following verses. How is meekness exemplified in these passages?

  • Genesis 13:7-12
  • Numbers 12:1-14
  • 2 Samuel 16:5-13
  • Romans 9:1-3

Can you be meek and angry at the same time (see James 1:19-21)? Can you be meek and have strong convictions (Galatians 2:11-14)?

In James 1:21, how does meekness (translated “humbly” here) transform the way we hear and receive Scripture?

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unchristian: reframing our faith through mourning

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

According to Alexander Maclaren (an English minister in the 1800’s), the Beatitudes are not “simply a collection of unrelated sayings….There is a vital connection and progress in them.” Each statement Jesus makes builds upon the next. His first statement, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, extols spiritual bankruptcy, the idea that you can bring absolutely nothing to God (Isaiah 64:6). “Poor in spirit” acts as a foundation for the rest of the Beatitudes. So what does “mourning” have to do with being “poor in spirit”?

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is one thing that brings you happiness?

Read Matthew 5:4. Why would those who are “poor in spirit” feel the need to “mourn”?

Discuss the meaning of the word “mourn”. Read the following verses. Do they add to your understanding of “mourning”?

  • Joel 2:12-13
  • 2 Corinthians 7:9-11
  • James 4:7-10

According to 2 Corinthians 7:9-11, how does true mourning differ from the feeling of sadness?

In Romans 7, Paul wrestles with his own sinfulness. What does he conclude is the only solution to his self-declared wretchedness (Romans 7:24-25)?

APPLICATION

On a scale of 1-10, how conscious are you of your sin? How intensely do you mourn when you break relationship with God?

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

Ask the Spirit to show you areas in your life where you have ignored or downplayed sin. Ask Him to give you a biblical view of sin, and ask for His forgiveness.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

How can you balance mourning over sin versus being overburdened by the guilt of sin?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” What is the comfort that comes after mourning? (See Isaiah 25:8, Romans 8:1-2, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 1 John 1:9.)

When do you think this comfort comes – right after the mourning (Luke 15:17-24), or sometime in the future (Revelation 21:1-5)?

How have you been comforted by God when you have mourned over your sin?

2 Samuel 11 tells the story of David, the King of Israel, and Bathsheba. David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and she became pregnant. He tried to cover up his sin by bringing Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, home from war. However, Uriah was so loyal that he would not visit his wife, but stayed near the palace. David then had Uriah return to the battle, and instructed Joab to put Uriah on the frontline, where he was killed. In 2 Samuel 12, Nathan the prophet confronts David about his sin and David repents. Psalm 51 is David’s earnest plea to God for forgiveness. Read through this passage slowly, listening for God’s “still, small voice”. Reflect on the passage as it applies to your life – are there areas of sin in your life that you have ignored? Downplayed? Been completely blind to? Open your heart to God, confess any sin, and ask for His forgiveness.

SCRIPTURE

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

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unchristian: reframing our faith through spiritual bankruptcy

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Jesus’ first sentence of His first sermon in the first book of the New Testament is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The idea of poverty in spirit is counter-intuitive, especially in today’s culture. Why is this character quality so important to God that Jesus would talk about it first?

GROUP QUESTIONS

What does it takes for people to walk away from a sermon saying, “That was a great sermon.”? Has one particular sermon touched your life in a dramatic way?

Read Matthew 5:3. What does it mean to be “poor in spirit” (see Luke 18:9-14)?

Is there someone who comes to mind when you think of “poor in spirit” (a person you know personally, a Bible character, or someone in history/current culture)?

William Barclay notes in his daily study Bible that someone who is poor in spirit will 1) “become completely detached from things”; and 2) “become completed attached to God”. How would you rate yourself on these two criteria?

The opposite of being “poor in spirit” is being spiritually arrogant. What can you do to mitigate self-righteousness in your life?

Matthew uses the word “kingdom” 50+ times in his Gospel. What is the kingdom? Why would the “poor in spirit” inherit the kingdom?

APPLICATION

Brainstorm ideas with your group on how to cultivate a “poor in spirit” type of heart and life. Work on incorporating those into your daily life this week.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Jesus started each of the Beatitudes with the word “blessed”. What does that word mean to you?

The Greek word for blessed is makários, which Biblehub.com says “describes a believer in enviable (‘fortunate’) position from receiving God’s provisions (favor) – which (literally) extend (‘make long, large’) His grace (benefits).” There is no verb in the Beatitudes – they actually read more like, “O the blessedness of the poor in spirit.” The expression is common in the Old Testament, particularly in the Psalms. Read the following passages and write the action or character trait that is considered blessed:

  • Job 5:17
  • Psalm 1:1-2
  • Psalm 32:1-2
  • Psalm 40:4
  • Psalm 41:1
  • Psalm 89:15
  • Psalm 106:3
  • Psalm 119:2
  • Proverbs 3:13-14
  • Proverbs 14:21
  • Proverbs 28:14
  • Isaiah 30:18

Matthew states that Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit” but Luke records it as “Blessed are the poor” (Luke 6:20). Is there a difference between these two statements?

Does someone become poor in spirit and then never have to think about it again? Or does being poor in spirit require a conscious effort on a daily basis?

SCRIPTURE

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3

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unchristian: reframing our faith

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most well-known passages of the Bible. The content of the sermon is amazingly practical, and yet, as General Omar Bradley stated, “We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.” Does Jesus really expect us to live out the Sermon on the Mount? If we do not do so, are we unchristian?

GROUP QUESTIONS

What comes to mind when the Sermon on the Mount is mentioned?

Read Matthew 4:23-5:2. What three things was Jesus doing? What is the difference between teaching and preaching?

During this time, Jesus was obtaining a large following…and no wonder! He was “healing every disease and sickness among the people”. In his commentary on Matthew, Thomas Constable writes, “Matthew was hyperbolizing when he wrote that Jesus healed ‘all who were ill’. He could not have healed every single individual, though His healing ministry was extensive.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

Who do you think was the audience for the message – the disciples, the crowd, both (see Matthew 5:2; who does “them” refer to?)? Do you think the intended audience affects how we view the Sermon?

APPLICATION

In Jewish tradition, when someone read Scripture, they stood. When they taught, they sat down. This was a signal to those listening to prepare to hear a message. As we begin this new series on the Sermon on the Mount, is your heart prepared to hear what Jesus is saying? Pray that you would have an open heart to listen and respond to the Spirit’s prodding.

Read through the Beatitudes every day this week (Matthew 5:3-12).

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Matthew notes that Jesus began His ministry in Galilee (see also Mark 1:14). This location is important in Jesus’ life. Read the following verses and note what you learn about Galilee:

  • 2 Kings 15:29
  • Isaiah 9:1
  • Luke 2:39
  • Mark 6:21
  • John 7:41, 52
  • Matthew 21:10-11
  • Matthew 28:7
  • Mark 15:41
  • Acts 1:11

Jesus grew up in Galilee. His disciples and a number of his followers, including Mary Magdalene, were from Galilee. He did some of his most noted miracles in Galilee and much of his ministry takes place there. God, in human form, chose to be associated with Galilee, with people who were not highly regarded in society. Why do you think He chose this route to reveal Himself, rather than coming with power, might, political clout, etc.?

Read through the entire Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). What do you believe is the main emphasis of the Sermon?

SCRIPTURE

23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24News about Him spread all over Syria, and people brought to Him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and He healed them. 25Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed Him. 1Now when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2and He began to teach them. Matthew 4:23-5:2

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