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Within the gospel of Matthew lies a jewel. In chapters 5, 6, and 7 there is condensation of all of Jesus' teaching packed in a very small space. Most scholars believe that Jesus probably never gave this sermon verbatim on a hilllside, but most likely that the writer of Matthew compiled it from various sources and presented it very carefully in precise, thematic order. Whichever is true, the Sermon on the Mount is a masterpiece of Jesus' view of life in Kingdom. For two thousand years it has confounded the church with its seemingly impossible standards and injunctions. But viewed through first century Jewish perspective and language, the impossible becomes not only possible, but very clear and beautifully livable.

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the beatitudes
[09.02.07 - 09.23.07]
This series covers Matthew 5:1-12, and the first message, Poor in Spirit, also contains an introduction and overview to the Sermon on the Mount

salt of the earth
dave brisbin | [09.30.07]
Looks at exactly what Jesus was aiming at in using salt as a metaphor for the nature and effect of Kingdom people (those who live in the awareness of God's presence). It's a strange term to our ears today, but layers of deep meaning fill the ancient context of Jesus' first hearers. [Mt 5:13]
audio [mp3] | duration: 40:01, size: 7 mb

light of the world
dave brisbin | [10.07.07]
Another living metaphor as Jesus completes his picture of the nature of those living in Kingdom. [Mt 5:14-16]
audio [mp3] | duration: 40:53, size: 7.2 mb

law in our own hands
dave brisbin | [10.21.07]
Jesus introducing his mission in relation to the law leading up to his amazing statement at 5:20 that unless we exceed the righteousness of the scribe and pharisess, we won't enter Kingdom. [Mt 5:17-20]
audio [mp3] | duration: 49:18, size: 8.7 mb

jesus and the law
dave brisbin | [11.04.07]
Jesus' redefinition of the Law, brings some startling, even revolutionary ways of looking at the text of the New Testament. [Mt 5:21-26]
audio [mp3] | duration: 38:37, size: 6.8 mb

jesus, divorce, and remarriage
dave brisbin | [11.11.07]
While looking at Jesus' view of marriage, divorce, and remarriage from a first century, Hebrew point of view, the real crux of this study is making sure that we always have a clear and consistent view of God's nature and God's perfect love--which really are the same thing. You may be shocked how far off the church's traditional view of divorce and remarriage really is once Jesus' words are put back in historical context--and hopefully you'll be relieved at the common sense of the New Testament back on display. [Mt 5:27-32]
audio [mp3] | duration: 34:56, size: 6.2 mb

hell in the light of love
dave brisbin | [11.18.07]
We have a very specific definition of hell. But that word doesn't even appear in the Bible. What words did Jesus use that have been translated as "hell," what did Jesus mean by those words, and what can we learn about God's nature when we look at hell in the light of love? [Mt 5:29-30]
audio [mp3] | duration: 35:49, size: 6.3 mb

understanding the misunderstanding
dave brisbin | [12.02.07]
With Jesus' teaching on the swearing of oaths in the background, we look at the massive worldview shifts that are necessary for us to move into the mindset of the concepts Jesus is trying to convey. [Mt 5:33-37]
audio [mp3] | duration: 42:20, size: 7.5 mb

turning the other cheek
dave brisbin | [12.09.07]
There's great misconception, which creates great difficulty in navigating between the micro and macro through the lens of Jesus' admonition to turn the other cheek when struck. Is this a call to absolute pacifism or something much deeper, though more nuanced? [Mt 5:38-42]
audio [mp3] | duration: 37:08, size: 6.5 mb

love like rain
dave brisbin | [01.06.08]
In the last few verses of Matthew 5, what does Jesus mean when he tells us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect? Far from being an impossible ideal, this is Jesus' way of showing us how God loves like rain--indiscriminantly and absolutely--and how we can do the same. [Mt 5:43-48]
audio [mp3] | duration: 37:03, size: 6.5 mb

giving like love
dave brisbin | [01.13.08]
We look at giving, not as a duty or a rule, but a simple extension of who we become when we begin to learn to love like the Father--to "love like rain." [Mt 6:1-4]
audio [mp3] | duration: 33:15, size: 5.8 mb

on prayer
dave brisbin | [01.27.08]
Moving beyond the inherent conflict of interest involved in public or corporate prayer, the "why are we doing this" question of motive--to be seen by others as pious or to communicate with God, we look at the very nature of prayer itself. What is prayer really? Does it "work?" That is, does it really change our physical circumstances? And what should be our primary view and reasons for prayer? [Mt 6:5-8]
audio [mp3] | duration: 39:12, size: 6.9 mb

the integrated life
dave brisbin | 02.03.08]
The Lord's Prayer seen from a different point of view--not as a spoken prayer, but a way of life. An integrated life is one that is unified and whole--all the various parts connect and makes sense and move in the same direction. People can look at an integrated life, one lived with integrity, and know what the person is about, can know what to expect, and learn to trust him or her. Jesus, as the ultimate integrated life, is teaching us the Way to integration through his model prayer. In the five lines of the Lord's Prayer--five steps along this Way--he lays out the path to an integrated life of Kingdom. [Mt 6:9-13]
audio [mp3] | duration: 42:46, size: 7.5 mb

neither right nor wrong
dave brisbin | 02.10.08]
Jumping off from Jesus' teaching on forgiveness and fasting, we look at the motivation that moves us in religious directions, as opposed to the desire to know God that moves us in spiritual directions. With the season of lent as symbol and example, we examine our personal driving force, because when we view any religious practice merely from a legal point of view, we're always looking for loopholes, but if we start looking it from a relational point of view, life happens. [Mt 6:14-18]
audio [mp3] | duration: 32:56, size: 5.8 mb

inertia of the heart
dave brisbin | 07.06.08]
Why is it so hard for us to change our hearts? Even when we are suffering, we are inclined to continue to suffer rather than take the difficult path to restoration and healing. Overcoming this inertia of the heart is what Jesus is talking about when he tells us to store up our treasures in heaven. When our treasure is based in heaven, are hearts are much easier to move. [Mt 6:19-21]
audio [mp3] | duration: 32:59, size: 5.8 mb

seeing with our good eye
dave brisbin | 07.13.08]
Jesus' saying about the good eye and the bad eye and darkness and light can be taken at more or less face value in English with a nominal understanding of what Jesus may have meant. But realizing that "good eye" and "bad eye" were Aramaic idioms for generosity and greed and that darkness and light don't necessarily have anything to do with luminosity, but with chaos and harmony, the saying moves us right into every moment and corner of our daily lives. As we struggle, often paralyzed in chaotic, unmanageable situations, once again, Jesus is right at our sides with a Way through, if only we take the time to understand. [Mt 6:22-23]
audio [mp3] | duration: 40:00, size: 7 mb

living the way
dave brisbin | 07.20.08]
Putting the rest of Matthew 6 into the context of Jesus' message in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is driving us toward the main point that we can and should avoid worry and anxiety by always seeking first the Kingdom. Along the way, he gives us four main principles to live by in order to turn each moment, no matter how difficult, into a Kingdom moment. To keep perspective, to stay in the moment, to accept dependence, and to recognize truth are the principles that will guide us toward living the Way of Jesus. [Mt 6:24-34]
audio [mp3] | duration: 40:22, size: 7.1 mb

judging reality
dave brisbin | 08.03.08]
The three basic concepts embodied in Greek philosophy and Roman law (the twin pillars of Western civilization) change everything about the way we understand life, God, spirituality, and Scripture. With those basic differences in hand, we continue our walk through the Sermon on the Mount at Matthew 7:1 and take a look at what Jesus really had to say about judging and how the way we judge will determine how we ourselves are judged. When we typically think Jesus is telling us that God will do to us what we do to others, by looking through a Hebrew lens, we find Jesus is telling us something completely different--and much more profound. [Mt 7:1-2]
audio [mp3] | duration: 32:27, size: 5.7 mb

specks and beams
dave brisbin | 08.10.08]
Jesus' saying about taking the log out of our own eye before trying to take the speck out of our brother's eye illustrates one of the most frustrating and heartbreaking experiences in life--not being able to alter a loved one's self-destructive behavior or patterns. As hard as we try, as much as we pray, the only person for whom we can make any choice is ourselves. If all we can really give each other is information, then it's up to the receiver of that information to choose what to do with it. In this humorous saying, Jesus presents us with three levels of understanding the human condition: about our natural unawareness of our own shortcomings; our arrogance in trying to fix another's faults when we can't even fix our own; and the realization of our own identity that precedes the beginning of transformation. [Mt 7:3-5]
audio [mp3] | duration: 34:34, size: 6 mb

point of need
dave brisbin | 08.17.08]
When Jesus gives us the colorful admonition not to give what is holy to dogs or pearls to swine, in contrast to the harsh imagery this creates in our modern minds--of excluding or even denigrating those who do not measure up to our standards or our faith--we find a very different message in the ancient understanding. The immediate context of judging in which this passage lies and the overall model of Jesus' life and relationships reveals that this passage is really a call to love. It is a call to meet people at the point of their need and not at the point of what we wish to give them. It's a call to take the time to build relationships with others first, to really see them and their needs, and then give them what is appropriate and necessary. It's a call to love by identifying with each other rather than a call to hold everyone to legal standard we have ourselves adopted. [Mt 7:6]
audio [mp3] | duration: 40:36, size: 7.1 mb

answered prayer
dave brisbin | 08.31.08]
What is answered prayer? Is it a verbal prayer in which a specific question is answered in exactly the way it was phrased? Or a request that is fulfilled in exactly the terms requested? Is prayer primarily a tool for shaping and changing the circumstances in our lives that create pain and anxiety? Is prayer even primarily talking at all? Or is it listening? Or maybe silence or simply Being? In reality, prayer is all of these in balance, but what is the primary way in which we should understand prayer and our relationship with God? Here, we look at what Jesus has to say about prayer--the qualifications he puts in place as prerequisites for answered prayer. Understanding what Jesus means by praying "in his name," "abiding in him," "according to God's will," and other such phrases gives us a clearer understanding of what Jesus meant by answered prayer. [Mt 7:7-8]
audio [mp3] | duration: 32.51, size: 5.8 mb

beyond the pale
dave brisbin | 09.28.08]
To go beyond the pale means to go beyond the safety of the borders of our group. Like pushing the envelope, it means to go beyond what is safe to find what is possible. For all of us, there is one last thing we are clinging to that is holding us back from the full experience of what God has to offer right herenow. How do we know if there is anything we're still clinging to? How do we know whether the things we cling to are holding us back or not? In a beautiful image of how much we are loved by God, Jesus tells us that as much as we love our own children and desire to give good things to them, how much more does our Father in heaven love and desire for us? In these verses, we are faced with the images of stones and loaves, fish and snakes, eggs and scorpions--as Jesus is showing us the necessity of discernment--the ability to see whether the things to which we cling bring life and preserve it or actually take it away. [Mt 7:9-11]
audio [mp3] | duration: 36:43, size: 6.5 mb

salmon and anchovies
dave brisbin | 10.05.08]
The first half of Matthew chapter 12 is driving us toward we have come to know as the Golden Rule. But this Rule is not about rules at all, but about a way of looking at and living life that always takes us against the currents around us. If we can remain true to the principles that animate us at the beginnings of things, we can always find the meaning and purpose that we crave at any point along the way. Like salmon, it is a matter swimming against the current of our society and our own natures to become someone who stands for something strongly enough to display clear choices in life, like the strong, disctinctive taste of anchovies--on which everyone has an opinion. [Mt 7:12]
audio [mp3] | duration: 33:59, size: 6 mb

the narrow way
dave brisbin | 10.12.08]
Jesus gives us the image of the narrow gate and narrow way that lead to life, which conjures up centuries of images in the church of the vast multitude of people traveling to eternal damnation. Is this really the message Jesus is communicating? That God creates the majority of people as fodder for hell? As with anything in life, context is everything. The context of all of Jesus' teaching is the Kingdom of God. What does that mean? If it means the heaven of the afterlife, then our traditional understanding of this teaching is accurate. But the truth is that Jesus' Kingdom has nothing to do with the afterlife and everything to do with this moment right herenow. And that changes everything... [Mt 7:13-14]
audio [mp3] | duration: 35:26, size: 6.2 mb

the gate and the way
dave brisbin | 10.19.08]
Following on from the previous discussion about the Narrow Way as not being the way to heaven of the afterlife, but to abundant living in Kingdom right herenow, the next logical question is, how do you do it? How do we negotiate the gate and the way Jesus is saying so few people do herenow? What Jesus is talking about is how extremely difficult it is for people to change their entire worldviews--the way they understand and perceive reality itself. But nothing less than that is required if we are to begin to see our lives and the world through our Father's eyes. Desire is the key: when our desire overcomes our fears, then anything and everything is possible. Jesus lays out this principle and gives us the roadmap for negotiating gate and way in three simple steps--to ask, seek, and knock. But what those terms mean in his native language holds the deeper meaning that brings them to life for us. [Mt 7:13-14]
audio [mp3] | duration: 35:04, size: 6.2 mb

a gift we couldn't give ourselves
dave brisbin | 11.30.08]
As part of the Thanksgiving weekend, we took some time to consider the nature of gratitude. When Jesus speaks to us of knowing prophets by their fruit, we immediately think of Old Testament prophets foretelling the future--and the magnitude of their accomplishments as their fruit. But taken in context and considering the bulk of Jesus' teaching, a very different picture emerges. Anyone who allows God to speak through him or her is a prophet, which really has nothing to do with foretelling the future. And the fruit Jesus of which is speaking has nothing to do with accomplishments, but is rather the state of a person's basic attitude toward life and quality of the relationships that form from there. Jesus called that basic attitude Kingdom, and he characterized it as "talya," Aramaic for both child and servant. And when the characteristics of a child and a servant are combined, we would call that gratitude. [Mt 7:15-20]
audio [mp3] | duration: 42:44, size: 7.5 mb

do you know me?
dave brisbin | 12.14.08]

Religion isn't working, is it? The question is always asked when someone sees the gap between what we say we believe and the way we live and the choices we make. The tragedy of religion is that it often works to force conformance on the outside without effecting transformance on the inside. To the ancient Hebrews, there was a continuity between our inner and outer lives--each one reflected the other. When Jesus speaks of Kingdom, he's speaking of a state in a person's life when the inner and outer lives are in complete unity. The book of James calls this faith being justified by works--Jesus calls it "knowing God." When we know God in the Hebrew sense, we have experienced him intimately, and that experience never leaves us unchanged--not merely conformed, but transformed. [Mt 7:21-23]
audio [mp3] | duration: 34:28, size: 6 mb

cat's in the cradle
dave brisbin | 12.28.08]
From a chance hearing of Harry Chapin's song Cat's in the Cradle on the radio came an understanding that each of life's moments is an opportunity to know God and each other in the true sense of that word. Not an intellectual knowing, but an experiential knowing that can only come from intimate familiarity. Cat's in the Cradle is about missed opportunities between a father and son, about the non-knowing that resulted from a life of missed chances. What are the priorities in life that lead us to know God and each other in such a way that our goals and accomplishments will never yield? How can we learn from our own children the art of living in this moment, this opportunity to know what is really worth knowing. [Mt 7:24-29]
audio [mp3] | duration: 38:15, size: 6.7 mb

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