About Joseph Smith

Sermon on the Mount: Jesus Is Greater – Devotional Guide

Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5 – 7

A Devotional Guide

by Rev. Joseph Smith, Lead Pastor

 

Day 1

Blessing and The Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew 5:1-12 (ESV)

 

(1) “Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

(2) “And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

(3) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(4) “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

(5) “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

(6) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

(7) “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

(8) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

(9) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

(10) “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(11) “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

(12) “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

A Little Deeper:

At this point in Matthew’s narrative Jesus has just begun his public ministry and he is experiencing some gaining popularity.  It is important to note that just a few verses earlier in chapter 4 we are told the specific message Jesus was preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (17).  Chapter 5 begins with Jesus seeing the crowds and heading up on the mountain with his disciples.  It makes sense that the first twelve verses of his teaching to his disciples would center on the “kingdom of heaven.”

 

In these twelve verses Jesus identifies a list of people who will experience the benefits of the kingdom.  Those who are in need will have their needs met (3-6), those who live authentic lives for God will be rewarded with unfathomable rewards (7-9), and those who suffer for him will find joy in their reward, which has been promised (10-12).  When the kingdom of heaven arrives, it will make right all that has been wrong.

 A Parent’s Take:

Every parent at some point in their process has fallen into each of these categories.  Parents mourn, are merciful (to a point), pure in heart (unless it is the middle of the night), and for those with more than one child, peacemakers!  Jesus must have been specifically thinking of parents when he was teaching this list!  Well, sort of, maybe not the way you and I are thinking about them.

When the Jews heard Jesus teaching these things they would have been reminded of the teaching that God gave Israel through Moses before they entered the land (Duet. 28).  God gave a list of blessing that would come to those who inherited the land and honored him, as well as a list of consequences of disobedience.  In the end we know that over many generations, Israel ultimately chose disobedience.  This disobedience would result in the exile both from the land and from the presence of the Lord.  Israel slowly stopped teaching their children the ways of the Lord and how to be obedient to him.

When I was young, there was a boy who lived down the street with whom I often played.  When boys get together they tend to try and toe the line but can often end up in trouble.  Each time we came close to crossing the line this boy would stop us and say, “we can’t do this, it’s just not right.”  I thought he was just scared until I spent the night at his house one night.  Before we went to bed his dad called us into the family room and sat us down to discuss with us a story from scripture.  He asked us if we understood the story and if there were any specific ways we thought we could apply the truths to our lives.  I was in awe of the honest discussion his family had about what was right and wrong with different situations the kids experienced at school and elsewhere.  I found myself spending the night regularly at his house throughout my middle school years.

As parents we are responsible for the growth and training of the children that God has placed in our care.  Our goal is not to raise our kids with the right attitude and personality to survive in our culture, but to raise them with the right attitude and heart described by Jesus of those who are children of the kingdom of heaven.  Our culture cannot promise any of the things that Jesus does in this passage.  Even to the point of persecution may our children hold on to the promises and lay claim to the rewards stored up for them in heaven.

Key Verses: “(11) Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (12) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

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Eternal Hope

Eternal Hope

I can remember my first time as a pastor trying to counsel a couple through some marriage difficulties. I was ill equipped, yet I charged in with great intentions. We spent hours, weeks, and even months trying to work through the details and possible reasons for the deterioration of their relationship. We made some discoveries about why things were the way that they were. We talked a lot about communication and intent. These things are very important in a marriage by the way. It was a challenge and took a lot of work and time. About a year into the process, this young couple decided to call it quits on their marriage. I remember the look that both of them had on their face. They had simply lost all hope that they could make it through their struggles. In my desire to have it all figured out, I missed the fact that the one thing they needed was hope. No matter what the struggle is, everyone is looking for hope to make it through. Hope is the only thing that can help us through the things we are dealing with in our lives right now. The question is, what is our hope? Some might argue that their hope is something different in each situation to provide the motivation to make it through that specific scenario. I would argue that our hope is fixed and is the same no matter what the specific scenario.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8–9)

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Letter to a Chosen Sojourner

A Devotional Study  & Sermon Series
By Pastor Joseph Smith

1 Peter:

We often ponder the transformation power of the Gospel. It is truly amazing to experience the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. We are able to live our lives free from the bondage of sin and destined toward an eternity with God. We praise God daily for the right to be called “children of God” (John 1:12). But what does it mean right now? Why is all of this important when we have more life to live in a broken sinful world?
The text of 1 Peter is a charge to the believer to live a life consistent with the assurance of our salvation, not inconsistently fluctuating with the fickle circumstances of this world. Each year, each hour, every minute, and second, we have an unchanging promise of being the chosen children of God for all eternity, through faith. This gives us the unprecedented ability to accomplish His glorious work here on earth.

Series Challenge: We would like to challenge you to follow along with us through this entire series of 1 Peter (7 weeks). If you miss a week, it’s alright; we upload the video to the website each week right after the service.

Just go to www.switzerlandcc.org and click on the “sermons” tab. If you are married, we encourage you and your spouse to take the challenge to read and discuss throughout the week. If you have a family, we are providing verses and questions for you to lead your family in discussion each day of the week in order to deepen your understanding of the text and to ultimately draw you closer to Christ. We are praying that you are not only encouraged each week that you come to church, but you are also challenged as you read the text of Scripture throughout this series.

Resources: We are providing three unique ways for you to take this study as deep as you would like over the next 7 weeks.
– First, we have added the daily devotions, as I have already mentioned. These are designed to take you deeper into Scripture by using other verses to help you understand some of the major themes discussed.
– Second, we will engage in our “Talk Back” study on Wednesday nights following the Sunday sermon. This time is designed to go deeper in discussion, and is centered on your questions in relation to the text.
– Third, we are posting “Deep Dive” videos on the website. These are short supplemental videos that will show the text and creatively work through some of the deeper connections stemming from translation and basic discourse analysis.

Pastor Joseph Smith

joseph@switzerlandcc.org

2018: United in Christ

2018:  United in Christ

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that
belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

Ephesians 4:4–7

When I think back on 2017, I am overwhelmed with a variety of emotions. I guess this is fairly normal for a pastor. I am humbled to see how God has used the ministry of this church to impact the lives of so many. In many ways, 2017 was not an easy year. We experienced both celebrations through baptisms as well as the struggle of loss. Through all of these situations we have experienced the consistency and comfort of our Father in heaven. Let’s take a few moments to look back over this last year and celebrate some of what the Lord has done. Continue reading

Beyond Our Walls

Project Pluma

Just a few weeks ago I stood in an open-air church that represents the light of the Gospel in a small town called Pachutla in Oaxaca Mexico. I watched as approximately 20 church leaders gathered to learn and fall deeper in love with the Word of God. I was immediately struck with the thought that we are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, our local church, even our country. We are a part of the Global Church that God is using to reveal His Glory. I only went to Oaxaca Mexico. How can I say that this is a part of the Global work of God? Because no matter where we have gone, whether it be Oaxaca Mexico, the Black Earth Region of Russia, India, or Thailand, we are seeing the same explosion of pastors and leaders being equipped by the Word of God. I want to take a few minutes of your time in this newsletter article to report the blessings we experienced through our time in Pluma / Pachutla.

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Renewed Focus

Renewed Focus

This month marks the beginning of the end of 2017. That sounds very morbid, but you know what I mean. We are entering the final quarter of this year. The end of 2017 brings with it excitement and a renewed focus on Jesus’ work in the church. We can all look back on this year and see how the Lord has developed us as a body. In the spring of this year, we entered a Sunday series through the book of Ephesians. We were challenged with the call to unity and growth as a body. After that series, we entered a short five-week series on the reformation. We focused our attention on the five “Solas” of the reformation. We were challenged to understand the theological propositions within their 16th century context and apply the conviction to our lives as protestants. Then, we entered the Summer with the crazy idea of working through three of the major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) in ten short weeks. We focused our attention on the “call” of each prophet, the major “issue” presented, and finally the “hope” presented in each one for God’s people. The last and final week of that series we focused on the messianic hope presented in each prophet and how it was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Summer Prophets

Summer Prophets

The summer of 2017 has proven to be a short summer indeed.  I took the last few weeks of July for vacation and my son and I went to the Florida Keys.  When my son realized how close we are to the start date of school he began his prominent ten-year-old lament.  This primed my thoughts toward the accomplishments over this summer, as well as what is in store for the fall.  If you have been at Switzerland Community Church for any length of time, you know that our continued prayer is that the Word of God becomes an unquenchable thirst in the lives of every member.  I am continually overwhelmed by the power and beauty within the pages of Scripture.  May the passion and excitement of His Word take each of our lives by storm. Continue reading

Get Connected

Over the past several months you have heard us push Connect Groups.  Pastor Jake even wrote an article in the March newsletter.  Honestly, this idea is not a new one here at our church.  On one level, Connect Groups are sort of a re-branding of what we have been doing with Bible studies and Sunday Schools, and on another, it is a new way to think about how to do those things.  We are strategically placing Connect Groups at the center of our identity as a church.  I thought it might be a good idea to explain why and how we view these groups as such a big piece of who we are. Continue reading

Humbled Hearts

Humbled Hearts

 

The theme in our children’s ministry for the month of April is “humility”.  One evening this past week, my family and I sat around the table talking about humility.  We discussed one of the main points on the God-time card, that humility is not natural.  This point seemed to draw out the most conversation with the kids as we talked about how we naturally respond to situations.  Most of the time, we enter a situation with “our” needs at the front of our minds.  It is actually difficult to place the needs of others above our own.  It is simply not natural (according to the perversion of sin).

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

(Philippians 2:2–8)

 

We read this passage together and I was immediately struck by the significance within.  You see, when we think about Easter and all that Christ has done for us, we immediately go to Christ’s obedience to die on the cross.  We are overwhelmed by the passion week, beginning with Christ washing the feet of his disciples and ending with him dying for us all.  We are rightfully overwhelmed as we realize the completeness of the way he loves us.  From the least act, as a servant, to the great act of laying down his life.  There is nothing that can stop him from loving us.  All of this is biblically accurate.  But make no mistake, in the passage above, Paul ventures into describing the heart of Christ as he chose to take on the form of man in order to save.  God’s sacrifice of His Son on the cross is combined with Jesus’ humility to place our need for a savior over His rightful place in heaven.  Christ’s heart of humility preceded his world-shattering act of obedience.  This is the heart of the Gospel, and it has practical implications for all of us.

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