Week 1- What does God really want from me?
Where I see sacrifice God sees opportunity for relationship!
What does Beyond really look like in the life of a Christian? We all know what ordinary looks like but what makes the difference to go from ordinary to Beyond? Most Christians once that “sinner’s prayer” has been said settle into a life of trying to be better than what they were before Jesus. They try to read their bibles. They commit to being generous some. They may even begin to attend church regularly and even begin to volunteer and help others. But, are we really going Beyond?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (Romans 12:1, Matthew 13:44-46)
1. Do you like going to garage sales? If not, does anyone in your family? Why?
2. What’s the most interesting thing you or someone you know has found at something like a garage sale or a flea market?
3. What’s the appeal of going to places like these?
Whether baseball cards in the attic, old coins in the basement, or works of art at the bottom of the box, everyone has thought about how great it would be to stumble across some kind of treasure, overlooked by all but you. It’s the dream of finding that object of great value hidden among the common stuff. In Matthew 13, Jesus gave us two parables that both deal with the true value of the kingdom of God. Though the true value of the kingdom might be hidden to the world, it’s worthy of any sacrifice to the disciple.
4. Reading Matthew 13:44-46, What are some of the attributes of the kingdom of God Jesus described using these stories?
5. Was the man in the first parable out looking for buried treasure? Why is that a significant detail to notice?
Read Romans 12:1
6. What did Paul plead for with his fellow believers? What is the basis of his plea?
7. What did Paul say to give up? What were they to give their bodies up for? How is this worship?
How can you hold the kingdom in its rightful place of value in your family? In your social circle?
What does it look like practically to offer yourselves as a living sacrifice each day?
This couplet of short parables is, in some ways, parallel to 13:31-33, but the message of these parables has to do with the surprising value of the kingdom of heaven. These parables answer two closely related questions from the surrounding context. First, why should we give our lives for a kingdom we cannot see? Second, can the kingdom truly be the answer to our search for ultimate fulfillment?Even at this early point in Jesus’ ministry, he was demanding much of his followers. They had already given up the security of a quiet life at home (8:19-20), abandoning family priorities (8:21-22), risking the threat of imprisonment and torture (10:17-19; 11:2), and enduring the critical questioning of the powerful religious leadership (9:11,14; 12:2). In Matthew 10, Jesus projected even farther into the future, predicting even worse happenings for those who stayed by him. These timid souls needed assurance that the price they were paying was worth the kingdom they would receive. Believers today need exactly the same reassurance. The rewards are worth the price!13:44. As with the yeast (13:33), here also the kingdom is portrayed as being hidden from view. It was a kingdom of the spirit realm and human souls, which cannot be seen with physical eyes. This parable makes four points: (1) there is an “accidental” aspect to our discovery of the kingdom’s value, because each of us is so absorbed in going his own way that God must take the initiative to show us the kingdom (cf. Isa. 53:6; Matt. 18:12-14; Rom. 5:6-8; 1 John 4:10,19); (2) when we do realize the value of the invisible kingdom, its value is cause for great joy; (3) the kingdom is worth everything we have and are; (4) to own the kingdom, we must accept all that comes with it. The field in the parable that cost everything the man owned represents the losses, hardships, and persecution a follower of Jesus is called on to endure for him.Even though Jesus said that the joyful person hid the treasure again, he did not mean to say that believers should hide and hoard the kingdom. He included this detail to make the parable realistic. If the man had made known to others what was hidden in the field, someone else might have made a higher bid to the landowner, and the original finder would have lost the field and the treasure. The comparison between the treasure and the kingdom breaks down at this point, because there is only one field with the treasure. But the kingdom is available to any who will come. The point is the incredible value of the kingdom.13:45-46. While the man who found the “treasure” discovered the kingdom’s worth by accident, the pearl merchant was searching for something of value. We need not take this as a contradiction of the “accidental” element of our discovery of the kingdom. Even though we are going our own way, oblivious to the kingdom apart from God’s revelation, every human being is on a quest. Every choice a person makes is somehow guided by his or her search for ultimate fulfillment. Before God breaks in, we simply do not know what we are searching for. Most people search in the wrong places, seeking fulfillment through deceitful, worldly means (wealth, pleasure, power, fame), yet never finding it in those places. When, by God’s gracious guidance, we find the kingdom, we realize that it is what we have been searching for all along.The pearl merchant recognized instantly the value of the one pearl, because he had measured the value of many lesser pearls throughout his life. He, like the treasure finder, went and sold everything he owned in order to possess the pearl.
Paul urged all believers to present themselves as a living sacrifice. Such language must have clashed immediately in the minds of many. The common understanding was that only the first and best animals were fit to be offered as sacrifices. The sacrifice Paul had in mind was radically different. Jesus had given Himself as the once-and-for-all Sacrifice for sin on the cross. Believers thus were to live in light of Jesus’ all-sufficient sacrifice, bringing glory to God. The idea of Christians’ presenting their bodies as a living sacrifice harked back to the discussion of the body being dead to sin because of the life-giving presence of the Spirit (see 8:10). To live by the Spirit is to offer oneself completely and daily as a holy and pleasing sacrifice.Paul further explained that living as a holy, pleasing sacrifice was a believer’s spiritual worship. The word rendered spiritual also can be understood as meaning logical or reasonable. The Greek word translated worship often was used to refer to carrying out religious duties or services. Thus Paul taught that in light of God’s gracious redemption (by the mercies of God), living as a sacrifice was the logical and pleasing way for Christians to serve God.