Posts Tagged ‘Sermon on the Mount’

How to keep on living the good and beautiful lifeBy Jim Somerville.

During the Season of Lent, the members and friends of Richmond’s First Baptist Church studied a book called The Good and Beautiful Life, by James Bryan Smith. Some of them met in homes, some in Sunday school classes, some came to the Journey to the Cross services, and some did all of the above.  It was a powerful community-building exercise, and I think we all learned a great deal.

So, now what?

The original plan was this: that we would spend the Season of Lent learning about the Good and Beautiful Life, that we would spend the Season of Easter living the Good and Beautiful Life, and then spend the Season of Pentecost sharing the Good and Beautiful Life.

Learning, living, sharing.  Got it?

According to that plan we are now in the Great Fifty Days of the Easter season (April 5 through May 23), the season of living the life.  But how do we do that?  Or, rather, how do we keep on doing it?

Here’s one suggestion:

The Good and Beautiful Life is essentially a study of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.  James Bryan Smith’s premise is that in these chapters Jesus explains what life in God’s kingdom looks like and what it would take to live it.  The life of the kingdom is the good and beautiful life, Smith argues, and if we could learn to do what Jesus says we would know that.

So, try this.

In the remainder of this season, all the way up to May 24, the Day of Pentecost, try reading the Sermon on the Mount as a kind of daily devotion.  If you’re reading this on your computer, you can simply click HERE and go to a page that has the whole sermon waiting for you in the New Revised Standard Version.  Click that same link tomorrow and try reading it in a different version, the Message, or the NIV.  Maybe you could read a different version every day, just to keep it fresh.

My hope is this: that if you saturate yourself in that sermon, if you sink down into its message day after day, you will begin to live the life it describes.  You will trust God more.  You will hate others less.  You will pluck up the seed of sin before it can take root.  You will know that you are blessed.  You will be like the one who built his house on a rock.

Try it!  Live it!  And then get ready to share it.

A life like this will be too good and beautiful to keep to yourself.

 This post originally appeared in JimsBlog, the Pastor’s blog, on April 13, 2015.

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By Steve Martin.

(This is a transcription of the testimony and scripture reading shared by First Baptist Church member Steve Martin during the worship services February 27, 2011.)

Today’s New Testament lesson is very special to me. I’m sure almost everyone here is familiar with it. It’s the one about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and how they, like we, are God’s creation. So we shouldn’t spend our time worrying because worrying can’t add a day or an hour to our lives.

Many of you know that my brother and I founded The Martin Agency and that it is a very successful advertising agency. It has the Wal-Mart account. It’s responsible for those ubiquitous GEICO commercials your see every time you turn on the television. So I suspect that most of you believe that I couldn’t possibly have any money worries. Well, Dr. Somerville knows otherwise. He asked me to say a few words this morning before reading that scripture about what it means to me personally.

Your first question probably is, “Why would Steve Martin have anything to worry about?”

Well it’s true, I co-founded The Martin Agency. It’s true that I received a lot of money when I sold my stock. In fact, I thought I was set for life, but I was wrong.

When I decided to sell, I had already published some books. I love books. I love to edit books. I love to read books. I love everything about books. So I decided to start a book publishing business. I sank most of my money into it and we were fairly successful. We had 44 titles in print… and then the recession hit. My most profitable books were business books and businesses stopped buying anything that they didn’t absolutely need and that, among other things meant training for their people and the books that go along with that training. So it wasn’t long before my business was in a nose dive, and the money I had invested was gone.

All the while this was happening, I did my best to follow the advice in today’s scripture. And it was a comfort to me, but let me tell you that things got so bad that at one point I thought we were going to lose our house.
Did I worry? You bet I worried. Did God provide? You bet God provided. Just when it looked like we were going to have to pack up and move in with relatives, God’s grace kicked in. I’m not going to say specifically what happened, but let me assure you that the mathematical probability was about the same as winning the lottery – and I’m not exaggerating.
Before I read today’s scripture just let me say that the Martin family is not totally out of the woods, but I have found work ghost-writing a book for a management consultant firm, and I’ve recently started a new advertising and marketing agency called Martin Works.

I’m optimistic about the future and I learned something very important along the way. I learned that you cannot put your trust in previous success. You cannot put your trust in your knowledge of business, no matter how extensive it may be. You can’t put your trust in a big pile of money. Those things will let you down. But you can put your trust in God. Just ask the birds of the air or the lilies of the field, or sometime, if you get a chance, ask me.

Now I’m going to read Matthew 6:24-34.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

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