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The Huddle

I have always tried to keep an open heart approach to reading the Bible. There are things in the Bible that are complex. It’s hard to read about when those great leaders like David have a moral failure, or when Moses lost his temper and robs God of a miracle. It’s hard to see God’s people walk away from the God who loves them and saved them over and over again.

In Deeper, one of our four pillars is “The Bible Is Our Source” and it might be our most important pillar if I’m being honest. Without the Bible, we’re nothing but a social club, it’s the Bible that differentiates us. Making the Bible our source is not an easy task. It’s a life-long journey for any Christian. The Bible should mold and shape you into the person that God has created you to be.

It’s the Bible that teaches us that Every Student is important to God and we should show His love to all people! It’s the Bible that teaches us that we should Build Strong Families by honoring our parents, and it’s the Bible that teaches us that Teamwork Makes The Dream Work by showing us that while we are all members of one body. We all have different gifts and talents, and my worship might look different from your worship, and that is okay!

It should come as no surprise The Bible Is Our Source is our deepest pillar. It’s what we dedicate the majority of our weekly services to, the teaching of God’s word. In Deeper it’s our goal to build a culture around the Bible, and not one of cultural Christianity.

Fight against Cultural Christianity

Cultural Christianity is being part of a society that is influenced by Christianity. Cultural Christianity is our biggest challenge as American Christians. As a student ministry, our goal is to lead students to a lifelong relationship with Jesus, not a religious tag that we can add to our online profiles.

It presents itself in songs that celebrate ungodly things, but then have a verse that references going to church on Sunday morning. It nods respect to Jesus but then talks about smacking someone in the mouth. It glorifies sinful things, but there is nothing in the Bible that glorifies sin. It’s because of sin that Jesus went to the cross. So sin isn’t something that should be glorified or tolerated at all among Christians.

A relationship with The Lord should challenge you, convict you and shape you. If it’s not doing that, then God is not your source. Think about the relationship between a good coach and a player. A good coach can take you from one level and push you to the next. They’re not going to shame you for being where you are, but they’re also not going to leave you there. A good coach wants to promote you, develop you, and sharpen your skills. This is exactly what God is doing with us. He is working in us, building us, and it is a life-long process that we need to check in to and not avoid. Even the best coach cannot help a player that is not invested in the process. So as Christ-followers, we need to get invested in the process. For an athlete to be great they need to show up to the gym, be physically in shape, they need to cut out things that slow them down like junk food, They need to engage during practices, watch game film to get better, shield out distractions and focus on their goal. If we can do that for something like a football or basketball game, then we should make it our number one priority to do this for our spiritual life, which has eternal consequences.

If you’ve ever been to a high school football game, you’ve probably noticed the post-game huddle. All the players on a team will come together and hear from their head coach. In those post-game meetings, a coach will take that opportunity to share their perspective on how the game went. If things went well, they might highlight the hard work of individual players, celebrate the successes. Then sometimes a coach might challenge a team to be better in certain areas.

Coach Christ

There’s a point in the Bible where Jesus does this with his disciples, you might have heard about the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7. Over the next several weeks we are going to take a closer look at Jesus’ message to his disciples but tonight I want us to focus on the first part of Matthew 5,

One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them.

We must focus on the details of what Jesus did here. He saw the crowds gathering, then went up on the mountainside. Here in East Tennessee, we are blessed with some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. You know that it’s no simple thing to climb into a mountain. You’ve got to work to climb a mountain. It makes sense here that Jesus wanted those in the crowd to move in towards His teaching. In fact, at the end of this verse, it says that it was his disciples or students (not necessarily the 12 disciples) that approached him. My guess is that not everybody in the crowd followed Jesus up that mountain. Some probably found an excuse not to go up the mountain that day, but it was those that followed Jesus up the mountain, who were hungry for His teaching.

We need to follow Jesus to hear His teachings.

I love the fact that we are pursued by God. It’s such a beautiful thing, the love that Jesus has for us. The sad thing is that too many times that pursuit is one-sided. The best kinds of relationships are the ones that both people pursue one another. In fact, it is a dysfunctional relationship when one person isn’t pursuing the other. Jesus is teaching us here that we need to climb the mountain so to speak, we need to pursue a relationship with God. It’s not that He’s running from us, it’s that He wants you to pursue Him above all other things in this life and it’s at that point that he poured into those who followed Him up the mountain by saying bless you!

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,

for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

4 God blesses those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5 God blesses those who are humble,

for they will inherit the whole earth.

6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,

for they will be satisfied.

7 God blesses those who are merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,

for they will see God.

9 God blesses those who work for peace,

for they will be called the children of God.

10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,

for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

I bet it felt so good to be on the mountain that day, watching Jesus stop and take a seat, then sitting down to listen to what Jesus, the greatest teacher in the world had to say and he starts by saying to his followers, “bless you”. Maybe his words challenged the audience to be more compassionate, or maybe his words were like a soothing medicine on those who were trying to serve God, who did realize they were poor and in need of God. Who had been mocked and persecuted because they were followers of Jesus.

Salt & Light

Jesus went on to say in his opening lines, 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Jesus is encouraging his students to remember that they are the hope for the earth. That we can carry the light of His love to those who are lost. We just have to remain committed followers of Jesus for our entire lives!

This is just the first message and the introduction to this series, over the next few weeks we’re going to look at some different things Jesus taught his followers on the mountain that day, and we're going to see how those things apply to our lives today! Jesus taught his followers how to deal with religious issues, anger, relationships, finances, and prayer. All issues that we still face and have questions about today. So now that you’re here, on the mountain so to speak, let’s sit and listen to our teacher, Jesus.

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