Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount: Lesson 1- Introduction

Welcome to our new study, The Sermon on the Mount!

What does God’s Word teach us about thinking biblically and developing Christian character? Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew starts off with a list of character traits God blesses (the Beatitudes), then fleshes out how to submit to Scripture in real life scenarios in order for the Holy Spirit to grow us in those godly character traits. For the next several weeks, we’ll be working our way through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.

Our lovely title pic for the study was designed by Tammy Athey. The photo is her own, captured in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Many thanks to all of those who worked so hard on your entries for our title pic contest. You ladies were very creative and did some outstanding work! 

There were too many entries to share all of them with you, but here are a few “honorable mentions”:

If you’re new to using my Bible studies, just a few housekeeping items and helpful hints:

The studies I’ve written (you can find all of them at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) are like “training wheels”. They’re designed to teach you how to study the Bible for yourself and what kinds of questions to ask of the text so that, when you get the hang of it, you won’t have to depend on other people’s books and materials – even mine – any more. To that end, I do not provide answers for the study questions in the studies I’ve written.

My studies are meant to be extremely flexible and self-paced so that you can use them in the way that works best for you. You can do an entire lesson in one day or work on the questions over the course of the week (or longer). You do not need to feel obligated to answer all (or any) of the questions. If the Holy Spirit parks you on one question for several days, enjoy digging deep into that one aspect of the lesson. If He shows you something I haven’t written a question about that captures your attention, dive in and study it! Those are ways the Holy Spirit speaks to us through His Word. This is your time to commune with the Lord, not a school assignment or work project you are beholden to complete in a certain way by a certain deadline.

I will post a new lesson on the blog every Wednesday, so there is nothing to sign up for or commit to. Simply stop by the blog each week, or subscribe to the blog via e-mail to have the lessons delivered to your inbox.

I use hyperlinks liberallyThe Scriptures for each lesson will be linked at the beginning of the lesson and in the lesson questions. As you’re reading the lesson, whenever you see a word in a different color text, click on it, and it will take you to a Scripture, article, or other resource that will help as you study.

All of the studies I’ve written are suitable for groups or individuals. You are welcome to use them as a Sunday school or Bible study class curriculum (for free) with proper attribution.

You are also welcome to print out any of my Bible studies (or any article I’ve written) for free and make as many copies as you’d like, again, with proper attribution. I’ve explained more about that in this article (3rd section).


Introduction to The Sermon on the Mount

Before we begin studying a book of the Bible, it’s very important that we understand some things about that book. But even though we’re not going to be studying the whole book this time, we still need to know…

Who the author was and anything we might be able to find out about him or his background.

Who the audience of the book is: Jews or Gentiles? Old Testament Israelites or New Testament Christians? This will help us understand the author’s purpose and approach to what he’s writing.

What kind of biblical literature we’re looking at. We approach books of history differently than books of wisdom, books of wisdom differently than books of prophecy, etc.

What the purpose of the book is. Was it written to encourage? Rebuke? Warn?

What the historical backdrop is for the book. Is Israel at war? At peace? In exile? Under a bad king? Good king? Understanding the historical events surrounding a piece of writing help us understand what was written and why it was written.

When the book was written. Where does the book fall on the timeline of biblical history? This is especially important for Old Testament books which are not always arranged in chronological order.

So this week, before we start studying the actual text of the Sermon on the Mount, we need to lay the foundation to understanding the book by finding the answers to these questions.

Read the following overviews of the book of Matthew, taking notes on anything that might aid your understanding of the book, and, particularly the Sermon on the Mount and answer the questions below:

Bible Introductions: Matthew at Grace to You

Overview of the Book of Matthew at Reformed Answers

Summary of the Gospel of Matthew at Got Questions

1. Who wrote the book of Matthew? How do we know this?

2. Approximately when was Matthew written? What is the geographical setting of the book of Matthew? Here are some maps (scroll down to “Matthew”) that may be helpful as you study through the book of Matthew.

3. Who is the original, intended audience of the book of Matthew? Describe the historical setting (historic events, politics, sociology of the time, etc.) of Matthew.

4. Which genre of biblical literature is the book of Matthew: law, history, wisdom, poetry, narrative, epistles, or prophecy/apocalyptic? What does this tell us about the approach we should take when studying this book versus our approach to books of other genres?

5. What is the theme or purpose of the book of Matthew?

6. What are some of the major topics of instruction in the book of Matthew? How do these topics relate to the theme of Matthew?

7. What are some ways Matthew points to and connects to Jesus?

8. What else did you learn about Matthew or the setting of this book that might help you understand the Sermon on the Mount better?

Take some time in prayer this week to begin preparing your heart for this study. Ask God to grow you in holiness and in following the exhortations of Christ as we study together The Sermon on the Mount.

Bible Study, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Sentence diagram Bible study, Evangelism, Making teens attend church, Female pro-life speaker…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


So it is by way of this email that I ask you to pray about my request to disciple me as a young woman in accordance to Titus 2.

You are so dear, and your e-mail was so sweet. I would love to say yes, but sadly, I cannot. Please see #10 in my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs.


I would love your thoughts on the study of Scripture using the sentence diagram method. I have never tried it but it does look interesting. However I do not want to get into a mess of confusion.

If reading the phrase “the sentence diagram method” just gave you a fond or traumatic flashback to 7th grade English class, then you pretty much already know what it is. It’s taking a Bible verse and diagramming it – either grammatically (with all the little lines for adverbs and adjectives and conjunctions and whatnot), or conceptually (blocking it out according to concept and how those concepts connect.

If you’d like to see an example, click here. (FYI- This link does not mean I’m recommending this site. She endorses and/or has connections to several false teachers.)

If you’re a grammar nerd or language aficionado like I am, this is method is probably right up your alley, and if you need to employ it from time to time to better understand one of Paul’s numerous lengthy run-on sentences, then go for it!

My only counsel would be, don’t make this your only method of Bible study. For the most part, you need to be reading and studying the overall meaning, concepts, and application of larger passages of Scripture, not focusing on dissecting one verse every day. It’s kind of like cooking supper. You need to focus on fixing the whole meal every night rather than pouring all your focus into mincing that clove of garlic into perfectly symmetrical cubes.


I am convicted because I have not been faithful to be a witness for the Gospel. I get tongue tied even with family! I just want to be faithful like the Apostle Paul. My problem is getting started……I know the Good News and want to share. Can you help guide me? I was invited to church and heard the Word preached and the Holy Spirit convicted me of my guilt as a sinner. Can I just invite someone to church?

What a wonderful encouragement it is to encounter a sister with a zeal for sharing the gospel! If it makes you feel any better, a lot of us have the same experience when it comes to sharing the gospel. Let me see if I can offer a little help:

  • While we are all commanded to share the gospel with the lost, there are some people who are just really gifted at it. It comes as naturally to them as breathing, they never get flustered, and they make it look easy. I’m not one of those people, but I can point you to a couple of brothers who are: Ray Comfort and Todd Friel. Head on over to the Living Waters YouTube channel and watch a few thousand videos of Ray walking up to strangers and sharing the gospel. Subscribe to Wretched on your favorite podcast platform, and listen in to the “Witness Wednesday” episodes with Todd. These are the kinds of guys you should look to and be learning from when it comes to “cold call” evangelism.
  • Remember that walking up to a stranger and verbally sharing the gospel is not the only way you can evangelize:
    1. If you have unsaved children at home, they are your primary mission field. They’re just as lost and dead in their sins as any stranger on the street.
    2. Ditto for teaching children at your church. Pour the gospel into those kiddos every week.
    3. Tracts. Get a bunch and carry them around in your purse. Leave them behind at the store, the doctor’s office, the gym, wherever you go. Hand them to people personally when the opportunity arises. I highly recommend the Bezeugen Tract Club and tracts from Living Waters.
    4. If you’re on social media, share the gospel on your timeline. Write it out in your own words, share Scripture, or share links to gospel presentations. Here’s our gospel page at A Word Fitly Spoken. It has a text presentation of the gospel and a couple of videos if you’d like to share them.
    5. It is absolutely fine to invite someone to church (assuming you go to a doctrinally sound church) or any other Christian event where the gospel will be clearly and biblically presented. I would only quibble with people who call inviting someone to church “evangelism”. That’s not evangelism. Evangelism is when you actually share the gospel with someone (which every Christian should do when the opportunity presents itself). Inviting someone to church is inviting her to a place where she’ll be evangelized.
    6. Get creative! Give my articles 10 Ways to Share the Gospel During the Holidays and 10 Fun, Practically Effortless, and Free Ways to Do Missions and Evangelism a read and see if they give you any ideas.

Additional Resource:

Rock Your Role FAQs (#11)


Should I attempt to bribe/beg/force my teenage sons to go to church? My husband is no longer attending or leading the family spiritually. My sons and I do Bible study together, but they have no other church experiences.

Wow, this is such a difficult position for you to be in. I’m so sorry. I’ve taken a moment to pray for you and your family, and I would ask everyone reading this to pause briefly and do the same.

I would strongly encourage you to set up an appointment with your pastor to discuss this. Giving wise counsel to those he pastors is part of his job. You could also more thoroughly explain your situation to him and he could give you better informed counsel than I can.

Not knowing the dynamics of your situation, the best I can tell you is that I don’t see anything in Scripture that would say it’s a sin to offer your sons something they want or to excuse them from a certain chore or something like that in exchange for them attending church.

I’m not sure “beg” and “force” are words I’m comfortable with in the parent/child relationship. You are the parent. You are the one in authority and responsible to God for your children. When you tell them to do something, they should respectfully obey you. Period. “Begging” and “forcing” shouldn’t even be part of the equation.

That being said, I think it would be good and healthy for you to sit them down and have a serious, loving talk with them, explaining that, because you love them and want what’s best for them, you want to urge them to come to church with you. You can also explain how much their attendance would mean to you (just be careful not to guilt or manipulate them). And, since you’re teaching them the Bible, you might want to spend some time on Hebrews 10:24-25. But when you’ve had this talk with them, especially if they’re older teens and not Believers, you will probably need to leave the decision up to them. This is something it would be good to get your pastor’s guidance about.

Additional Resource:

Rock Your Role FAQs (#12)


If a woman were to speak at a church on the issue of abortion, would that fall into the category of a woman exercising authority over men?

No, the issue here would be whether or not she’s preaching to men or instructing them in the Scriptures, not whether or not she’s exercising authority over them. Someone giving an informational talk on a certain topic isn’t exercising authority over anyone, regardless of the venue, the sex of the speaker or the sex of the audience.

It’s a little difficult to answer this question due to the lack of details. Is this woman simply a member of the church who wishes to address the congregation, or is she a special guest speaker from a pro-life organization? Is her talk taking the place of the Sunday morning sermon? Is she going to be going at it from a “professional” angle (ex: stats on abortion, stories about moms who chose life, pro-life legislation), or is she going to get up and preach a sermon on Psalm 139?

It would be perfectly biblical for a special guest speaker to give a professional informational talk (not preaching/teaching the Bible) in any time slot other than when the sermon usually takes place (Tuesday night, during a special Sunday luncheon, etc.). (Because a- nothing should take the place of the preaching of God’s Word, and b- you don’t want her or anyone in attendance to be confused that she’s preaching the sermon.)

It would also be fine a woman who’s a member of the church and does sidewalk counseling or volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center or even a woman who has had an abortion (and repented of it) to speak about her experiences in a “personal testimony” sort of way.

But when it’s time for biblical instruction and admonition from the Scriptures about abortion, that’s the pastor’s job.

Additional Resource:

Rock Your Role FAQs (#7,14)


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Faith

7 Ways to Endure to the End

I don’t know about you, but over the past year, I’ve experienced moments of just about every emotion imaginable as I’ve walked through the various evil events filling up our 2020 calendars. Anger. Outrage. Offense. Depression. Anxiety. Fear. Frustration. Incredulity. Grief. Maybe you’ve had those moments too.

I’d like to give all of you a hug and say “Cheer up! Everything’s going to be fine!” – temporally speaking.

And maybe it will be.

But I don’t think so.

Sure, there are going to be times of blessing and happiness in our future, just like there were last year and every year before. But as far as the general trajectory American society and government are on, things are going downhill at breakneck speed. And unless we stop and think now, get prepared now, we’re going to be caught unawares and fail at what could be a crucial moment of decision.

Trials and persecution – real persecution – are coming. And coming sooner than we think. How can we be prepared to endure whatever comes our way until Christ returns?

1.
Go to church

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25

I get it. “Go to church” isn’t as easy as it used to be. I get that some of your churches are closed. I get that there are health concerns.

But I also get that when the Holy Spirit inspired the author of Hebrews to pen these words, He knew full well, and, in His sovereignty had pre-ordained, all the details surrounding Covid and the restrictions and hassles that go along with it. And still He said that as the day of Christ’s return gets closer, we need to meet together (face to face, in person) more, not less.

Do we believe Him? Do we trust Him? Will we obey Him?

I don’t know you. I don’t know your situation. So, I can’t tell you what to do. All I’m saying is that as Covid restrictions drag on and on and on, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your church attendance in light of this command from Scripture:

  • If the primary reason you’re not attending church now is that your own church is closed, consider a friendly, loving chat with your pastor about his thoughts on the possibility of opening back up in some way, even if only partially. You can also check around and see if any other doctrinally sound local churches are meeting. If you find one, hang out with them until yours opens back up. Family is family, and you need the fellowship, teaching, and encouragement. Get to know the “cousins” down the street.
  • Are all the doctrinally sound churches in your area shut down due to government regulations and that’s the main reason you’re not going? Find another way to meet together with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Get on the phone with the members of your Sunday School class or a few others you know from church and plan to meet together for worship, prayer, and Bible study at your house, the park, wherever you can gather. I realize your local government may frown upon that. Governments all over the world have been prohibiting Christians from meeting together for 2000 years, and they meet anyway, underground. Looks like it might be our turn. Prayerfully consider whether it might be time to start walking out “we must obey God rather than men” in your context.
  • Perhaps it’s legitimate health concerns for yourself or your family that is keeping you away from the Lord’s house. Listen, I’m not a doctor, so I’m not qualified to dispense medical advice. All I can say is, check back in with your doctor (not the internet – your personal doctor) and ask if there are any new or different precautions you could take that would make going to church or gathering with a few others possible. Prayerfully and wisely weigh the potential health risks against the very real spiritual damage that occurs when you don’t gather with the Body.
  • Finally, take some time alone in prayer with the Lord and carefully and honestly examine your heart and your motives. Is the real reason you’re staying away from church laziness or an ungodly fear that stems from refusing to trust God? Only you can answer that. If you find that those are the actual reasons you haven’t been going to church, repent, and get your posterior back in the pew this Sunday.

God gave the command for the Body to gather knowing it would cost many Christians their lives and their freedom down through the years. But He gave that command anyway. That should tell us how utterly crucial it is for us not to neglect meeting together – out of obedience to Him, and for our own good.

2.
Realize that the rules have changed

There used to be a general sense of consistency, fair play, and “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” logic in America.

That’s gone, and we need to get used to it.

As I write this, I could throw a rock out the window and hit a dozen tweets, articles, and podcasts decrying the hypocrisy and inconsistency of liberals. I’ve remarked on it myself. How there is one set of rules for them, but another set of rules for others, whether we’re talking about governors having Thanksgiving dinner with their extended families after telling you not to, or liberal evangelicals supporting BLM riots while decrying peaceful conservative protests and church gatherings. And they have absolutely no shame about their double standards.

Don’t expect that to change. Stand for what’s right, keep pointing out hypocrisy, but don’t expect people who support torturing babies in the womb to death and sexually abusing children via genital mutilation surgery to suddenly have an attack of conscience about holding themselves to one (or no) standard, and holding everybody else to another. They don’t care one whit about being fair and consistent – especially toward Christians. And if we keep expecting them to, it’s going to drive us mad.

These people are depraved, and this is spiritual warfare. Believers are unwelcome trespassers on the Devil’s playground, and he doesn’t play fair.

3.
Expect betrayal

Give the gospels a good study again, keeping a special eye on Jesus’ enemies. Who were they? What positions did they hold? What tactics did they use? What was the real reason they wanted to destroy Him? When you have the answers to those questions, you’ll better understand who your real enemies are, and why they’ll turn on you when you least expect it.

Who was it who wanted to destroy – kill – Jesus for speaking the truth? Not the Roman government. It was the powerful and influential “church leaders” of Jesus’ day, the scribes and Pharisees. It was they who pursued Jesus, made false allegations against Him, and cajoled the government into executing Him because they wanted to preserve the position, power, and wealth they maintained by sleeping with, and fearing, the Roman enemy

If we let [Jesus] go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”

John 11:48-50

And who was it who betrayed Jesus into the hands of those bent on His destruction? His closest of friends and protégés – Judas. Judas, who, for the price of his greed, would give Jesus the kiss of a brother while thrusting a traitor’s knife into His back.

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Matthew 26:14-16

A servant is no greater than his master. If this is how “God’s people” treated Jesus, we can expect no less. Expect to be betrayed by those closest to you- a brother, a friend, a cherished member of your church family. Expect false teachers and influential evangelical leaders to cozy up to governmental leaders so they can hang on to their multi-million dollar “ministries,” minions, and mansions. Expect them to make sacrificial lambs of true sheep and shepherds. After all, better that one, or a hundred, or thousands of genuine Believers should die than that their nation or way of life should perish.

Those we hold dear will turn on us. Those we thought we could trust with our lives will deliver us up.

4.
Count the cost

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 10: 37-39

Count the cost, Jesus said. When He spoke these words, Jesus meant them – and His audience understood them – literally, not metaphorically. A cross wasn’t bearing up under insults on social media. It was a cross. Rough-hewn wood that real human beings were nailed to (after a thorough flogging, of course) to hang on for hours or days until they succumbed to one of the most agonizing deaths imaginable. “That’s your future if you follow Me,” He said to them – and to us.

Is staying true to Jesus worth losing your job…your closest loved ones…your freedom…your health…your dignity…your home and possessions…even your life? When you sing “I Surrender All” do you actually mean it? All? Do you love Jesus more? If you’ve never taken the time to sit down and seriously think about whether or not you’d follow Jesus all the way to a cross, do it now.

Count the cost, because the cost is a cross.

5.
Embrace suffering

If you believe in your heart that robustly and unashamedly following Jesus is worth any cost, be prepared to suffer for it. Yet know that what man means for hurt and humiliation, Christ means for honor and high regard.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:10-12

and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 

Acts 5:40-41

Suffering for the name and sake of Christ is an honor.

6.
Know your Bible

When oppressors want to stamp out an ideology – like Christianity – that threatens their agenda, the first thing they do is quash speech about that ideology. And then they come for the books.

Over the last few years, how many times have you heard of Christians getting in some sort of trouble for sharing the gospel? For refusing to call a “he” a “she” or a “she” a “he”? For saying homosexuality is a sin? For declining to “repent” of racism they haven’t committed?

We’re already seeing the suppression of speech. The written word is next on the chopping block. Bibles will be confiscated and disposed of. Publishing houses that produce Bibles and other Christian materials will be shut down. Big tech will de-platform Bible apps, Christian podcasts, Christian bloggers, and all other forms of doctrinally sound Christian media.

And we’ll probably even see something worse: the powers that be changing the written word of God to fit their own agenda. How easy would it be for someone in power to stroll through the back door of your Bible app and begin changing, adding, or deleting whole verses and passages until the “Bible” says what they want it to say? Think that kind of thing could never happen here? It’s already happening in China.

Make sure you have a good, reliable, hard copy (the kind with paper pages) translation of the Bible on hand. (You might even want to start stockpiling them to quietly give away when owning God’s Word becomes illegal.) Study it forward, backward, and inside out until you know what it says so well you could spot a modification a mile away. Memorize it. Because they can take away the copies in our hands, but they can’t touch the Word hidden in our hearts.

7.
Believe God

Pressing on in the face of all these daunting circumstances would be impossible if God were not who He is. But because of all that He is, we can hope in Him and endure anything that comes our way.

When you don’t know what to do, He says: Trust Me. I’ll give you wisdom and guide you.

When you have to do hard things, He says: I’ll strengthen you and help you.

When you’re weary from fighting the good fight, He says: I’ll give you rest.

When you’re afraid, He says: Fear not. I am with you.

With our pampered lifestyle of freedom and ease, many of us have never experienced a moment in which our only option – for provision, for protection, for help – was to cry out to God and trust Him to take care of us. I daresay, in the days ahead, those moments will come with increasing frequency. And that’s not a bad thing.

Because God loves you. He cares for you. He can be trusted. You can depend on Him.

What’s coming our way next? It’s hard to know exactly, but we can see the handwriting of persecution and trials on the wall. So gather with the Body and encourage each other. Be wise to the ways of the enemy. Ready yourself for betrayal and suffering. Know God’s Word. Trust God to carry you through.

Because Christ’s return is drawing near. It’ll be here before we know it. And we can endure ’til then.

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

New Bible Study Kickoff and Title Pic Contest

Happy Wednesday, Ladies!

Thank you so much for all of your helpful input regarding which Bible study you’d like to do next. We will be doing Forgiven to Forgive1 at a later date, but today, we’re kicking off our next study…

…..with a fun title pic contest!

What does God’s Word teach us about thinking biblically and developing Christian character? Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew starts off with a list of character traits God blesses (the Beatitudes), then fleshes out how to submit to Scripture in real life scenarios in order for the Holy Spirit to grow us in those godly character traits.

The Sermon on the Mount will be an “expositorially topical” (an expository deep dive into a short segment of Scripture) study of Matthew 5-7, similar in format to The Ten. We will examine the character traits God blesses in Christians and how God develops those traits in us as we walk with Him through the practical circumstances of life and as we develop a biblical worldview.

But before we get started studying, how about a little fun?

You’ve probably noticed that I design a title picture for each Bible study I write. Here are a few past title pics:

You can see the rest of them at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, if you like, to get a feel for my style and the general appearance I like my title pics to portray.

Y’all have sent in some beautiful and creative entries in our past title pic contests – indeed, the title pics for The Women of Genesis, Living Stones, and Imperishable Beauty were all designed by readers – so, once again, I wanted to get some of you involved in the design process for our new study.

Do you enjoy and have a knack for photo editing? Know someone who does? If so, I’m accepting submissions for title pictures for The Sermon on the Mount study. If your submission is chosen it will be used each week of the study, and you’ll be credited (name or website) by watermark. I’d love to be able to offer a huge cash prize, but, hey, we’re small potatoes here. This is just for fun and maybe a little publicity for your site, if you have one.

Contest Guidelines

 You must use images that don’t require attribution. Pictures you’ve taken yourself are fine, as are images from sources such as Pixabay, Pexels, Freely, Unsplash, StockSnap, or other free stock photo web sites. Please include the image source web sites you use along with your submission. (You cannot just grab and use any old picture off the internet. Photographers own their images and usually require permission, attribution, and often a fee, for their use.)

Title pics should be landscape (a horizontal rectangle) with a width of 1000-2000 pixels and proportionate height. I prefer JPG images, but PNG is fine, too, if necessary.

 Your title pic must contain the full title of the study: The Sermon on the Mount. (Be sure to double check your spelling). 

 If your submission is selected, I’ll be glad to watermark it with your website address (please submit your picture without any watermarks) if you have one, as long as your web site doesn’t conflict with my statement of faith or my beliefs outlined in the Welcome tab.

 Deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. Monday, January 18, 2021

E-mail your title pic submission along with your full name, web site address (if any), and the source(s) you used for your image(s) to MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com. You are welcome to submit as many images as you like.

 Please don’t be offended if your submission isn’t selected. If I peruse all the submissions and I’m just not “feeling it,” I may still elect to design one of my own.

Feel free to share this around with friends who have an interest in photo editing. If you want to take a whack at it for fun but don’t know where to start, play around with Be Funky, PicMonkey, or Canva and see which one works best for you.

Think about – maybe even read – the Sermon on the Mount and try to capture in your image the theme of what Jesus was teaching or what it might have looked or felt like to be in the audience Jesus preached it to.

Happy designing!


1For those who were hoping for the study on forgiveness, you’ll notice that the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 does touch on that topic, so we will cover it, albeit briefly, as part of this study.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

Have I told you lately that I love you? (Some of us are old enough to remember that song! :0) I really do love all of you readers and followers. It is an honor and a joy to serve you in Christ.

Sometimes in an article I’ll say something like, “If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you probably know that…yada, yada, yada.” Well, some of y’all haven’t been around the blog for a while, and to that, I say welcome! It’s always great to have more of the fam gathered ’round.

But because some of y’all are new, you aren’t yet aware of all of the resources here to help you. Let’s remedy that!

First, if you’re new (or if you’ve never read it), check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends. It’s like a Cliffs Notes intro to the blog.

Second, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the page. That’s where I keep the info I’m most frequently asked about.

Third, there’s a search bar at the bottom of every page (and one in the blue menu bar at the top of every page) which might help you find what you need.

And finally, let me get you newbies some answers to the questions several of you have asked recently. Some of you long time friends may have missed these along the way, so I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too!

Are there any sound Christian musicians anymore?

Yes, they’re just few and far between, and not as well known as the unsound ones. Check out this article which contains both artists to avoid and doctrinally sound artists, plus other helpful resources:

The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music


My sister just got ordained by her church as a minister, also she is involved in deliverance ministries. She believes that God speaks outside of Scripture and promotes many false teachers. I’ve been praying for wisdom and compassion and the right opportunity to share. Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.

It is heartbreaking when a loved one forsakes sound doctrine and does a swan dive into the cesspool of rebellion and false teaching. If you need to approach a loved one in a situation like this, here’s some help:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing? (While this article is about approaching church leaders about false teachers, the same basic principles apply when approaching a loved one.)

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher 

Discernment: A Spiritual Battle, Not a Logical One 

Discernment: What’s Love Got to Do with It? 

Words with Friends: How to contend with loved ones at A Word Fitly Spoken


Which translation of the Bible do you recommend?

I think the two best English translations out there right now are the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New American Standard (NASB). I also highly recommend the MacArthur Study Bible. Check out more info on Bible translations, some to avoid, and more great resources here:

The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?


Are you on any other social media that is in favor of free speech? I have deleted Twitter and am attempting to get off Facebook but I would still like to follow you.

This is an important one with all the censorship that’s taking place on the major platforms right now. I am currently on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, MeWe, Parler, and Gab. (I also have a YouTube channel, but I’m not really using it at the moment.) My plan is to remain on Facebook and Twitter (and probably Instagram since it’s owned by Facebook) until I’m banned, then utilize my remaining platforms. You can always find the direct links to all of my social media accounts in the Contact and Social Media tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.


I have tried without success to find the answer to: As a woman is it violating 1 Timothy 2:11-12 for me to present the gospel to a man?

There’s a lot of confusion about what it means to “present the gospel” or “share the gospel” or “evangelize”. Some people use those as catchall terms for everything from a woman pastoring a church, to a mom reading a Bible story to her 2 year old, to posting a Bible verse on Facebook. If what you mean is a one on one conversation with a man in which you explain to him that he is a sinner, and how he can be saved (which is the actual defintion of the aforementioned terms), then the answer to your question is no. It is not a violation of Scripture for a woman to do that. See #11 here.

Got questions about the role of women in the church? Check out these resources:

Rock Your Role: A series of articles examining the Scriptures which pertain to the role of women in the church

Rock Your Role FAQs: Frequently asked questions about real life roles and activities in the church and whether or not women may biblically participate in them


Is X teacher, pastor, or author doctrinally sound?

Check the Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. These are the teachers I’ve actually written articles on.

If you don’t find the person you’re looking for there, find the search bar and type in the person’s name. (Make sure you spell it exactly right.) I may have mentioned the person you’re looking for in an article about someone or something else.

If you do both of these and you don’t get any hits, you can be confident that I haven’t written anything on the person you’re looking for. You’re welcome to email me asking about that teacher, but as you know (having read the “Blog Orientation” article linked above) I most likely won’t be able to answer. That brings us to our final resource here at the blog for researching and vetting teachers:

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own


Who are some pastors, teachers, and authors you recommend?

You’ll find a list of several dozen at the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.


I live in X area. Can you help me find a doctrinally sound church?

The Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page has multiple church search engines, churches recommended by my readers, information on church planting, what to look for in a doctrinally sound church, and how to biblically leave your current church. Just click and start searching!

Just a couple of notes:

  • You’ll have to do the legwork of searching and vetting the churches for yourself. I can’t do that for you.
  • If you’ve thoroughly searched every single search engine and can’t find an established church within achievable driving distance of your home, you may need to check around with local friends or denominational agencies, move, or start utilizing the church planting resources. You can email me, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to help. As I once joked with a friend, “I’m not Walmart. I don’t have any churches in the back stock room. Everything I have is out on the shelves.” :0)

Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?

Yes, mine. You can find all of them – all free and all suitable for individual or group study, along with my philosophy of Bible study – at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

No, I mean, can you recommend a pre-packaged book, DVD, etc., study by a well known Christian author?

No, because I recommend that women study straight from the text of Scripture itself (which is what my studies are designed to teach women how to do).

The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.