The Resistance Christian Leadership Book by Joshua Staton. Now available on Amazon.
The Resistance: Becoming a Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book by Joshua Staton. Now available on Amazon.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10

“The Resistance” Christian Leadership Book Lesson 8: Prepare for Conflict

As we conclude our look at the Beatitudes, I hope you have experienced progress in your defined objective.  In case you haven’t realized it, part of the purpose of this series is learning how to set goals and prioritize efforts to achieve those goals, but we have to be aware of our shortcomings and measure ourselves the way God measures, by the heart.

Granted, there are going to be times you are going to make a boneheaded mistake.  You will usually have the opportunity to work through them provided you are humble and take responsibility.  But here, we are talking about something more serious.  To be persecuted is not being done wrong and retaliating.  It is not about being punished or corrected for sin.  It is about being treated unfairly, being oppressed, abused, harassed, hunted or killed based on your faith in Jesus. 

Persecution in this sense is an inner resolve to stand firm and accept persecution for the right thing.  It is the highest level of self-denial and if you don’t believe in it, you will not choose to suffer for it.  You have to be willing to lose popularity points because you fear God more than you fear people.  Reference 1 Samuel 15:24 for more information on someone who didn’t fear God more.

As leaders, our every move and decision will constantly be under the magnifying glass.  Being a leader means you will have to make tough decisions and it is of paramount importance to take time and examine our actions before we make them and be aware that doing the right thing does not always produce allies and cooperation.  It is much better to be hated and persecuted for taking the correct course of action than to answer for moments of weakness and selfish motivation.

Application

Regarding your objective, what is the difference between suffering for doing right and suffering for doing wrong?  How do you reconcile and find solace in your decision?  This answer defines your victory or subsequent failure in your objective. 

A way we can understand and apply this verse of scripture is to remember Luke 9:23… and accept that if we are to truly follow Jesus there will be times in our lives that we have to:

Deny ourselves & take up our cross

While this may not mean the physical death it has meant for others, it is a call for the daily death:  giving up our wants and opinions, doing without, willing to be mocked or treated differently for doing what is right…

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Matthew 7:14

Character in Action (Christian Leadership Book Homework)

Read Acts 7 and answer the following question.

  • How can you resolve to do the right thing even when it will bring discomfort, alienation or even worse?

Prayer

Dear Father in heaven, You are the creator and sustainer of our lives.  You breathed Your spirit into us, that we would bring You glory.  This life and the battles we go through are tiring at times and I ask that You forgive us for growing weary in the trenches and questioning Your plan for our lives.  Thank You, dear Father for being our comfort in times of need and please help us adhere to the promise that there is something after this earthly life, a life with You in Your majesty.  In Your Son’s holy name, we pray all of this that we would bring Your name glory and be called a “faithful steward” when that day comes.  Amen.

Reflection

I hope that as you have worked through the Beatitudes, you have seen them as somewhat of a couple of puzzle pieces that fit together in a logical order, to create a whole, better understanding of our character.  Whether we know it or not, or even acknowledge it, so many things influence our character and most of the time, those things go unnoticed.  These things come in the forms of people around us, characters we see on movies and television, things we read on the internet, etc.

So many times we get distracted by other things and lose our identity trying to be something else.  But there is always that call…  the call of the Holy Spirit for us to come back into a right relationship with Him.

Regardless of where we are, who we are and what we struggle with, we are loved and we have a mission within the roles we have defined throughout this process.  I leave you with one final piece of scripture and encouragement: 

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

While in the midst of these roles, we must also be aware that we are a Christ follower and are called to not only be a disciple, but a maker of disciples.  This is our highest calling regardless of the role.  But we can take heart that He will be with us… always.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit:

The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book

If you are in the Hendersonville, NC area, join us for an addiction recovery class. Click for more information on attending a First Contact Ministries support group for individuals or families struggling with addiction issues.

Did you miss the other lessons? Click see the entire The Resistance: Becoming a Servant Leader through the Beatitudes Biblical Leadership Series.

"The Resistance" Biblical Leadership Book - Lesson 7 by Author Joshua Staton.
"The Resistance"  Biblical Leadership Book - Lesson 7 by Author Joshua Staton.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9

“The Resistance” Biblical Leadership Book Lesson 7: Seek to Reconcile

To be a peacemaker is to not encourage conflict, to seek peace instead of hostility, to spur reconciliation instead of estrangement.  We grow spiritually by baby steps through mere obedience by resisting knee jerk reactions when provoked.  However, as we mature, we begin to understand and see with clearer eyes how to disarm potentially volatile situations and subdue enmity.  Anywhere humans are present, disagreements will follow.  How those disagreements are addressed is what we must concern ourselves with this week.

To fully understand this Beatitude we have to grasp the second half:  being called sons of God.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God
Romans 8:14

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
Galatians 3:26

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
John 1:12

In life it seems that it is becoming harder and harder to find peace, which is why it is all the more important to exert effort to become a peacemaker.  Everywhere you turn, homes, churches and communities are affected negatively because of disagreements and opinions.  All of the verses above point to one answer:  the work and urgings of the Holy Spirit.  We must seek to be led by the Spirit in all instances and especially in caustic situations.

Application

Looking throughout Jesus’ ministry, He was met with immense opposition, yet he never once got into an argument or a shouting match to prove Himself.  He exhibited a quiet and strong confidence in every instance of attack.  He is the Spirit that is to lead us.  Primarily, a Godly leader must first be led by the example set forth by the Spirit before we can effectively lead others through these heightened times of struggle and engagement.  As Proverbs 12:20 says, we should plan peace.

As leaders, we will be under constant attack; some clearly defined and others more subtle.  Contention and strife are like an eroding cliff with a house sitting on top of it.  In life, opposition will always be lurking, trying to halt progress and distract.  As we learn from the Spirit how to lead, it will urge us toward more strategic decisions, in the sense of not keeping enemies as enemies, but rather transforming them to allies.  This is what God did for us through His son, Jesus.

A final note regarding reconciling and repairing relationships, there will be instances that reconciliation is just not available at that time.  Our responsibility is to do what God lays on our heart.  We are incapable of changing the mind or behaviors of others, but we must be obedient to do our part.

Character in Action (Biblical Leadership Book Homework)

Read Romans 8 and examine your objective over the past weeks.

  • Have you met opposition that eroded any of the progress you have made?
  • Were there any situations that needed to be diffused?  How did you handle them?

Take time and assess your progress, next week we begin addressing how to maintain momentum when life hits you full force.

Prayer

Our Heavenly Father, only You are good and perfect and steadfast.  We confess that we have not been peacemakers with You throughout our lives.  We thank You that we are able to be reconciled to you through Your Son Jesus.  Please draw near to us, that we are able to draw near to You and learn how to handle opposition in a way pleasing to You.  In Your great name, amen.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance: , please visit:

The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Book

If you are in the Hendersonville, NC area, join us for an addiction recovery class. Click for more information on attending a First Contact Ministries support group for individuals or families struggling with addiction issues.

Did you miss the other lessons? Click see the entire “Resistance”: Becoming a Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Biblical Leadership Book

"The Resistance" Sermon on the Mount Study Guide by author Joshua Staton. First Contact Addiction Ministries, Henderson County, NC
"The Resistance: Becoming a Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes" Lesson 6.  A sermon on the Mount Bible Study by Joshua Staton.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Matthew 5:8

“The Resistance” Sermon on the Mount Study Guide Lesson 6: Exhibit Integrity

The phrase pure in heart is not just a measure of our actions, but more about what lies within us and our inner thought life.  Explicitly, it is our integrity when in roles of influence.  Biblically, the way we become pure is through a process called purification which can best be described as being cleansed; having failed and having been corrected.  As Christ followers we are to seek a continual state of purification, much like the process of rendering silver or gold.  Our sanctification.  In their natural state, these precious metals have impurities which are purged through fire to produce a purer metal.  As heat is applied, these impurities rise to the surface and are skimmed away.

For all intents and purposes, this is what integrity is to us as leaders:  a continual process of melting impurities away.  You see, we may look like one thing on the outside, but something completely different on the inside.  When things are going well it is easy to keep up appearances, but as soon as difficulties arise, that which is on the inside will eventually come out.

Integrity goes a step further than mere obedience.  It is achieved through a series of choices to not only do the right thing, but to accept the right thoughts.  Building integrity does not occur over night and does not become refined when everything is going well.  Our impurities are purged through trials and tribulations. Once things start to get difficult, what old habits do we revert to?  What is the perfect storm, what would it take for failure to occur?

Application

Integrity directly relates to us in the sense that if our mind and heart are divided, we become distracted by contrary thoughts and pre-occupations which results in a loss of focus, confused purpose and poor vision for making judgments.  Scripturally we become a double-minded man that is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8) So much of our communication is not just our words or body movements, but the actions we take.  Do we continually keep our word or find ourselves making excuse after excuse while justifying our words and actions?

If you do find yourself having to continually make excuses, please take some time and evaluate if the objective area is indeed a priority.  If you are just stretched too thin, examine what needs to be given up so you can focus better.  If you are like me, you have the uncanny habit of over-commitment.  If this is the tone of your life, you may have to consider why you are allowing yourself to get over-committed.  The answer may be much deeper than you know…  It was for me.  And it revolved around the need to be accepted and acknowledge by other people for my efforts.

Character in Action (Sermon on the Mount Bible Study Homework)

Read Psalm 32 and 51.  Identify inner obstacles that may be holding up progress, then answer the questions below as thoroughly as possible.

  • Do your thoughts and actions always line up in your objective area?
  • Do you have a divided heart or an exhausted spirit towards your area of focus?
  • What would the person closest to you say about your level of integrity in all areas of life?  Are there discrepancies?

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, You know us better than we do.  Please forgive us for accepting a divided heart.  This isn’t our intention, but we do nothing to stop it.  Thank You for continuing in your steadfast love towards us.  Please give us Your discernment to be active in making sure our words and actions align for Your glory.  In Your Son’s holy name, amen.

For more information or to purchase The Resistance, please visit:

The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Book

If you are in the Hendersonville, NC area, join us for an addiction recovery class. Click for more information on attending a First Contact Ministries support group for individuals or families struggling with addiction issues.

Did you miss the other lessons? Click see the entire “Resistance”: Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

"The Resistance" Beatitudes Study Guide by Joshua Staton
"The Resistance" Beatitudes Study Guide by Joshua Staton

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Matthew 5:7

“The Resistance” Beatitudes Study Guide Lesson 5: Compassion for Those We Lead

To be merciful is to show forgiveness and restraint even when it is within your power to punish.  A Godly leader expresses forgiveness with the intention of building up and restoring those who have failed, based on the grace God first showed us.  Our demonstrations in this area will determine how others view us as leaders and set the tone (good or bad) for all future interactions.

Below are two leadership styles which produce equally horrible results:

  1. Compliance (All law) focuses solely on punishment and does not promote growth.  A leader that operates in this fashion will only achieve resentful results, as well as having to uncover landmines from mistakes that were hidden due to unrealistic expectations and fear.  Leaders who exhibit a lack of forgiveness towards those in their stewardship will never experience true loyalty.
  • Complacency (All grace) does not produce responsibility or accountability, nor does it encourage effort or growth.  The danger here is backsliding when you are viewed as a buddy.  Leaders who choose to dwell here are not able to produce positive results which means fewer victories.

Trying to marry these two qualities seems almost like a magic trick, a delicate balance that only a few have managed to achieve and even fewer have maintained.  We are not expected to perform this miracle alone and within our own power.  The best we could hope to achieve would be a couple of hours or even minutes under ideal conditions and everyone was having a great day.  Just imagine how difficult it would be when everything is falling apart…

Application

We have to understand that those we lead are humans and are going to fall short of expectations at times.  We have to take responsibility when those we lead fall and teach them how to stand back up and learn from their mistakes and recover.  We have to learn how to exhibit law and grace at the same time.

The way we do this is to be reminded of just how much God has forgiven us.  And if you do not feel you have had to be forgiven much along your journey, I ask that you re-examine the validity of your perception of yourself…

Our proclivity as sinners is to develop memory loss after we have sinned and asked forgiveness.  We wipe our own slate clean and seem to forget that Christ had to die to pay our debt.  That same payment was not only made on your behalf, one time in middle school when you cheated on a test.  To exhibit mercy truly, we must be aware of our own deficiencies.  This allows us to show that same grace to others.

Character in Action (Beatitudes Study Guide Homework)

Read Luke 6:37-38 and discuss the following questions.

  • If the golden rule was to be enforced at this very moment, would you be worried?
  • What is the biggest sin you can think of that you are grateful that God has forgiven you for?
  • Is unforgiveness sabotaging your efforts in your selected area?  Who do you need to forgive and why?

Prayer

Holy Father in heaven, only You know the hearts of everyone, even when we do not even know the heart of ourselves.  I humbly ask that you forgive us for our unforgiveness of others even when they do not ask for it.  We thank You for paying our debt, while we were still sinners, a debt that we could not pay.  Please give us hearts to show those around us Your grace that they may draw near to You.  In Your Son’s holy name, amen.

For more information or to purchase The Resistance, please visit:

The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Book

If you are in the Hendersonville, NC area, join us for an addiction recovery class. Click for more information on attending a First Contact Ministries support group for individuals or families struggling with addiction issues.

Did you miss the other lessons? Click see the entire Resistance: Becoming a Servant Leader through the Beatitudes Study Guide.

"The Resistance" Beatitudes Bible Study by Joshua Staton
"The Resistance" Beatitudes Bible Study by Joshua Staton

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6

“The Resistance” Beatitudes Bible Study Lesson 4: Priority and Passion

We began this Beatitudes Bible study series with an acknowledgement of our weakness in a specific area.  This acknowledgement is a critical first step for growth to occur.  However, it is not enough to just be aware of weakness, we have to be willing to act.  The want must become strong enough to do something about it.  This week we address our motivation and intended outcome of our objective using an illustration of a boat. 

Hunger and thirst are to crave and seek with an eager desire.  This describes what produces our passion, it generates locomotion similar to using an oar to paddle a boat.

Righteousness is a condition acceptable to God, correctness of thinking, feeling and acting.  This gives us direction for the utilization of locomotion, in other words it is our rudder and it is how we steer.  Jesus modeled righteousness for us and how we are to seek, rightly.

Satisfied (filled) is to supply in abundance, to fulfill the desire of; the reason for the journey.  Knowing where we are going is key to making the journey and effort all the more worthwhile.  It puts current events in better perspective when we look at them regardless of the circumstances.

An easy exercise to demonstrate what may be a priority for us, is to imagine one-by-one, certain areas of your life are removed until you only have one area left for the rest of your life to focus on.  Spend some time thinking about this going into our homework for this week.

Application

As leaders, this verse addresses the oars and rudders on our boats.  It is what drives you and also gives you direction in life.  Being a human creature, we are going to hunger and thirst for something.  This passion will dictate our priorities, sacrifices and investments in life and will ultimately be what leaves us feeling empty or satisfied at the end of the day whether we have success or failure.

At times obedience is similar to the drudgery of rowing a boat, the daily grind.  The dry seasons.  The desert.  These are the very circumstances that we are to seek God during.  At some point, we have to allow God room to operate and convert our oars of mere obedience to sails of passion for God’s righteousness to lead us through these weak areas.

For us to develop a proper passion, we have to acknowledge what we are thirsting for and be willing to exchange it for seeking what God has for us.  And for that to happen, we have to ask some serious questions and identify some actions that may generate some pain and discomfort, even nausea…

Character in Action

Read and memorize Matthew 6:33 and Luke 12:34 and answer the following questions.

  • Practice the previously mentioned exercise by listing areas of your life that would be removed.  What would be the first area you would be willing to give up? (Least important)
  • What would be the last area you would be willing to lose? (Most important)
  • Does your life currently reflect these priorities?  If not, what needs to happen?

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, we know that Your ways are not our ways and that You are greater than we are.  You do not have a beginning nor an end.  Please forgive us for the amount of time and energy we dedicate to activities that do not build up Your kingdom here on earth.  We are thankful that You know all things and know what is best for us.  Please help us become more like Your Son Jesus and seek You with earnest!  In Your Son’s holy name, Amen.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Beatitudes Bible study, or curriculum for a Sunday school class, please visit:

The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Book

If you are in the Hendersonville, NC area, join us for an addiction recovery class. Click for more information on attending a First Contact Ministries support group for individuals or families struggling with addiction issues.

Did you miss the other lessons? Click see the entire Resistance: Becoming a Servant Leader through the Beatitudes Biblical Leadership Series.