red letter city series

#18 Two Trees

series: Red Letter City

title: Two Trees

date: August 14, 2016

teacher: Jacob Bender

scriptures: Matthew 7:15-23, Jeremiah 17:5-8, Jeremiah 22:16, Matthew 23:13, Joh 14:6

#16 Ask, Seek, Knock

series: Red Letter City

title: Ask, Seek, Knock

date: July 31, 2016

teacher: Jacob Bender

scriptures: Matthew 7:7-12, James 3:9-12, James 4:11, 1 John 4:20-21, Matthew 25, Proverbs 8:17, Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 4:15-16. 

#15 Judging

series: Red Letter City

title: Judging

date: July 24, 2016

teacher: Jacob Bender

scriptures: Matthew 7:1-6, Acts 5, 1 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:11, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Samuel 24:5, Numbers 15:37-41, Matthew 9, Luke 8, Matthew 13:45-46, 1 John 4:16-17

#14 Anxiety

series: Red Letter City

title: Anxiety

teacher: Jacob Bender

date: July 17, 2016

scriptures: Matthew 6:25-34, Romans 8:28, Matthew 11:28, Matthew 8:26, 1 Peter 5:7, 

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#13 Treasures

series: Red Letter City

title: Treasures

date: July 10, 2016

teacher: Jacob Bender

scriptures: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Acts 20:24, Matthew 6:19-24 (main passage), 1 Timothy 6:18-19, Malachi 3:16, Genesis 11, Revelation 18, Matthew 23:23, Malachi 3:10, Revelation 18, Revelation 13:17, Luke 16:11, 2 Corinthians 6:10, Proverbs 27:20

#12 Fasting

series: Red Letter City

title: Fasting

teacher: Jacob Bender

date: July 3, 2016

scriptures: Matthew 6:16-18, Hebrew 10:16, Proverbs 20:6, Matthew 9:14, Matthew 9:15, Matthew 3:17, Genesis 3, John 8:44


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#11 Praying


series: Red Letter City

title: Praying

teacher: Jacob Bender

date: June 26, 2016

scriptures: Luke 11:1, Matthew 6:5-15 (main passage), Matthew 18:20, Acts 3:16, Hebrews 4:16, Leviticus 16

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#10 Giving

series: Red Letter City

title: Giving

teacher: Jacob Bender

date: June 19, 2016

scriptures: Matthew 6:1-4, John 5:44, Matthew 23, Romans 2:16, 1 Samuel 16:7, Isaiah 57:15, Jeremiah 22:16, Philippians 3:10, 1 John 4:6-7, 

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#9 Love Your Enemies

series: Red Letter City

title: Love Your Enemies

date: June 12, 2016

teacher: Jacob Bender

scriptures: Matthew 5:43-48, Matthew 16, Matthew 18, Leviticus 19:18, Proverbs 24:17, Romans 12:21, Luke 22:36, Matthew 26:52-53, Luke 23:34, Luke 6:46, Matthew 22:34-40, Matthew 10:34-36, Revelation 19:15, Isaiah 49:2, Isaiah 11:4, Ephesians 6:17 (rhema), John 1:14, Hebrews 4:12 (logos), Romans 12, Psalm 23, Psalm 23:5

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#8 Retaliation

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series: Red Letter City

titles: Retaliation

teacher: Jacob Bender

date: June 5, 2016

scriptures: Matthew 5:38-42, Matthew 7:11, Exodus 21:23-25, Galatian 2:9, Matthew 7:12, Joshua


On Friday Dawn and I drove down to Ann Arbor to visit Matt and Chavonne in the hospital... Their daughter, baby Charlotte was born, and she is just the sweetest thing. She was born, I think a whole two months early, so she is just absolutely tiny and so so precious. And I just need to say this about Matt and Chavonne. I have never in my life seen two believe glow the way that they were glowing that day. The peace. The excitement, and the love in their eyes toward this absolutely precious child was just amazing. 

And I can’t explain it. I know that, their pregnancy was very difficult. They went through some really hard circumstances, things that I could not even begin to imagine… and I know that the whole pregnancy was to a degree plagued with some fear and so to at the end of it all be holding this amazing child obviously was such a sign of the grace of God and an amazing hope for the future. 

Jesus says something a little later in the sermon on the mount, and we will get to it in a couple of months, but he says this:

“if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.”

and I thought about that when I saw the way that Matt held his daughter. and the look on his face, and the way everything toward Charlie was unconditional love… and as strange as this sounds…  it made me realize something about violence. and the way that we treat each other. The same way that Matt looks at his daughter, God looks at all of his children. and I think that for most of us, we want to always know that we can come to God knowing that no matter what we have done, he still looks at us with that same twinkle in his eye. That same unconditional love. 

and not only that… but there are millions of other Matt’s in the world. People who think the world of their children. Who would do anything for them. And in every situation that you find yourself in, in which you are paired AGAINST another person… that person is someone’s child. That person has a world of people that he has touched merely by being born…. 

and that person is a child of the living God. 

and if we approach every situation and every confrontation that we are faced with from that perspective, perhaps it would be easier than you think to do what Jesus asks of us here in this revolutionary sermon.



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#7 Oaths

series: Red Letter City

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title: Oaths

date: May 29, 2016

teacher: Jacob Bender

scriptures: Matthew 5:33-37, Numbers 30, Ecclesiastes 5:2, Luke 8:17, Matthew 12:36, Matthew 16:16-19, Matthew 18, James 4:7, Ephesians 6, Ephesians 4:27, 1 Peter 5:8, Luke 13:15


I don’t know Rick Warren. 

But I have met him. 

somewhere out there, there is a picture of me that I have, of Dawn and I with Rick Warren, but I couldn't find it this week. I only have a picture because when I met him, he said “lets take a picture for facebook!” and so we took one… but I guess I never posted it to facebook. and I now I can’t find it. But it exists somewhere. But I don’t know Rick Warren. I had emailed him a couple of times about our bands music because we wrote one particular song that I thought he would really like, and he was very encouraging and said that he did. 

The last time that I put out an album with my band was in 2011, and on release day, because of our previous conversations, Pastor Warren very graciously sent out one tweet on twitter encouraging people to go and check out our record. 

One tweet, and suddenly thousands and thousands of people were going and checking out our songs. For a few hours our page had more visits than it had had the whole month. Until he sent out another tweet, and the one about us got lost. 

His name brought me a temporary sense of popularity. 

Because he said it was good, people wanted to hear for themselves.

and I could scream from the rooftops how great I thought my own music was, but when someone who had already done something significant… 

like written the best selling book of all time other than the bible… when he puts his name on it, people listen. 

It is very easy to use other people’s names to elevate our purposes. 

There are certain name drops that become trump cards in conversations. and in Jesus’ time and in the generations leading up to Jesus it was no different. People made promises all of the time, it was not really a big deal. But if a person were to make a “vow” or an oath, it would almost automatically be believed… and that is what Jesus was addressing here. The concept of oaths. Of promising something with someone else’s name attached to it. 

But do you even know the one whose name you have attached to your purposes? 


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#6 Divorce

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series: Red Letter City

title: Divorce

date: May 22, 2016

teacher: Jacob Bender

scriptures: 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, Matthew 5:27-32, Matthew 19:1-9, Genesis 2:24, Genesis 2:18, Genesis 1:31, Isaiah 1:8, 1 Corinthians 7, Malachi, Jeremiah 3:8, Hebrew 4:15, Isaiah 61, Leviticus 16


In that day, there were two schools of thought that dominated their culture… Two Rabbi’s who lived just before Jesus’ ministry, and they each had two very different yokes. Two very different interpretations of the scriptures, and a lot of the debates in that day, which Jesus was essentially throwing himself into the middle of, in the sermon on the mount… basically were asking this question…

which yoke is it?

Is it Hillel?

Or is it Shammai?

Hillel was always the more liberal one… the burden was extremely light, his yoke was incredibly easy, and normally erred on the side of peoples welfare. He was immensely popular, and was at one point the president of the Sanhedrin (which was like the Jewish Supreme Court). 

The other well known Rabbi was Shammai, who tended to be much more conservative… more strict in his interpretation.

So the people would read this verse in Deuteronomy… and they would consider the Ketubahs that they signed their name on…

And what people wanted to know is: what gets me out? Because only a rabbi had the authority to get you out of your marriage, so the question is, “on what grounds will you give me a certificate of divorce?”

And Hillel’s yoke essentially said: indecency is indecency. If she spoils a dish that she is preparing, you can leave. If she burns your toast, and you want out, I will sign your certificate of divorce. Basically his interpretation says, “if you want out, just get out. I will give you a certificate of divorce.” 

it was very lax.

But Shammai held a much more strict interpretation. He said, essentially, “no, we can’t do that to women, you can’t throw them out because of burnt toast or because of a bad day… you can only divorce your wife if there is marital unfaithfulness.” 

So the people in that day knew what these two rabbi’s thought, and they wanted to know, what does Jesus say?