1) Listen to Podcast here
Seeking First: Improbable Attitudes Matthew 5:1-12
1. Close Reading: After praying for God to enlighten your mind, read through Matthew 5:1-12 a couple times, slowly. Look for these three things: LIGHTBULB – something that shines from the passage, draws your attention; QUESTION MARK – something difficult to understand; ARROW – a personal application. Share the results of your study with your group.
2. Surprising Sermon Introduction: The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 is Jesus’ first and largest public address to Israel. Their King has arrived! The kingdom is at the doorstep! But instead of triumph, Jesus preaches tears. Why would Jesus use negative words – like poverty (3), mourning (4), hunger/thirst (6), and persecution (10)- and words typically associated with weakness – like meekness (5), mercifulness (7), and peacemaking (9) – to describe his kingdom blessings? What is Jesus teaching his disciples they can expect in this world, and what is expected of them (5:39)?
3. I know the plans I have for you: Are the kingdom blessings, attached to the kingdom norms, in present tense (is) or future tense (will be)? Should we expect the full fulfillment of these blessings in this life, or the life to come (Matt. 5:12)? What is it like to be a people characterized by waiting (Isa. 40:27-31; Rom. 8:22-25; Heb. 11:13-16)? Describe both the frustration and the hope. What is one source of pain in your life which you think only eternity will heal?
4. My Beatitude: Prayerfully read through the Beatitudes one more time. Try replacing “Blessed are…” with “I am…” Does this help to identify one attitude which the Lord might wish to transform further in your life? Paul taught that we are to ‘renew our minds’ (Rom. 12:2). What pattern of thought might you seek to correct this week, through the power of the Spirit, in order to better conform to this beatitude?