Saturday, January 23, 2010

Motivation: Matthew 6:1-8

Motive and intent are crazy and sometimes a fine line. When we consider the reason that we do what we do or why we do what we do, motive and intent are of paramount importance. Pride is a slippery slope and motive can be the banana peel.... but it doesn't have to be. So, when it comes down to your fast, is it for notoriety or for a sincere desire to pursue the face of God? Think about prayer whether in public or private, who is the audience? Who is rewarding your verbiage? Consider the simple things such as service/giving for those in need. Who do you think is waiting in the wings with the trophy for your obedience? When Jesus says don't be like the hypocrites, He is referring to actors. In essence, saying don't be like the actors who only act to be seen and entertain but have no desire for God's glory. So it comes down to motive and intent. Why and for who? Pride and for you or God's glory and for Him?

Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Grace Living: Matthew 5:38-48

The law gave room for (eye for eye) personal retribution equal to the offense but Jesus raises the standard. If someone slaps you on the right cheek give them the other. This was a back handed slap which was considered a deep insult. Which for us would be insults of various kinds and He encourages us to take it and not respond. If someone sues you for your tunic (shirt) give them your cloak (coat) as well, simply being a peacemaker. The Roman law required a Jew that if requested by a Roman soldier, that they had to carry his pack for a mile. Jesus challenges them to go an extra mile displaying a disciple of Christ. So what does that look like?

Loving your enemy, which is a pretty tall order. Let's continue with that for a moment.

Just imagine how your relationship with your enemies would be if you loved them, if you blessed them, if you did good for them, and if you prayed for them. That would be one unique relationship. The funny thing is, your heart would begin to turn toward them. This is a behavior of a citizen of the Kingdom of God.

A lofty expectation at first glance, but consider that Christ first loved us who were his enemies and realize that it is His Spirit that enables you to do as He did.

Truth: Matthew 5:33-37

Live a life that does not leave room for doubt. Let your actions be your defense. Live the testimony of your faith always being humbled by where God has brought you from with an expectation of where He is taking you. God's expectation of truth and integrity can be met by following His example. So follow the leader.

Covenant: Matthew 5:31-32

In Jesus time there were two schools of thought on a law that Moses gave back in Deuteronomy 24. One school of thought was the Shammai took the "some indecency" as a reference to a sexual misconduct with witnesses. The other was the Hillel took "some indecency" as any offense such as burnt toast. Well Jesus comes in takes it and says it means sexual immorality.

God has a different standard because He weighs a covenant differently than we do. He values it! So when we consider the covenant He made with the blood of His Son so that we could be His bride we need to grateful that His value system is different. We need to understand that the covenant of marriage is not just a covenant between the two getting married but also between them and God. So may we value the covenant that we have made with spouses. However, if we haven't then we should cling to covenant that was through the blood of Christ as we always should. Though we should never abuse that covenant.

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heart of the matter: Matthew 5:29-30

Can you imagine wedding vows that included:

  • I vow to be faithful to you as long as you let me see other women.

  • I vow to take care of you as long as you don't question my spending.

  • I vow to love you until something better comes along.

That probably would not work. Then why do we think that we can have a relationship with God that looks that way?

  • I surrender all as long as you don't ask anything of me that will cost me.

  • I will be obedient as long as you don't lead me to share my faith.

  • I will sacrifice all I have for you as long as you don't ask me to quit my addictions.

I know it sounds silly right. Is it really? We do something like this often and think that it is ok. Jesus asks us to sever ourselves from the very thing that causes us to sin. If you look throughout the context we see that the root of our actions of sin are planted not by our body parts but by our heart. Not the physical heart, but the heart of who we are. We naturally desire sin, so it is not our body parts fault, but our worldly desires. Centered at our hearts. So we need spiritual heart transplants. Check this out in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Our heart of stone repels anything that God leads us to. The heart of flesh is the softened heart that is open to the call of God.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Seeds: Matthew 5:21-28

In this section of scripture, Jesus takes the things that are commanded in the Law and goes a step further. He doesn't merely focus the sin which can be outwardly known, but He addresses the seed which leads to those actions. Anger and hatred can lead you to murder as lusting can lead you to adultery. In most cases we would be caught with the outward sin in our life by someone, so we spend a lot of energy in masking those transgressions. However, we feel safe with seeds of those sins that we have buried in our hearts. There are two problems with those seeds:

  1. God knows our every thought

  2. Seeds when planted.... grow, so others will eventually know

James 1:14 -15 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

So what can we do about those seeds? Confess and repent.
  • Confess those things before God

  • Repent, turn your mind from the thoughts that led those things (environment and habits)

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Galatians 6:7-10 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

So be careful what you plant!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Transitions: Matthew 5:17-20

  1. God creates > which points to Jesus

  2. Man fails - sins > we need righteousness - which point to Jesus

  3. God gives the Law, which exposes how we've failed and need Him > we need righteousness -which point to Jesus

  4. Israel rides the roller coaster of obedience to God's Law, inability to be faithful > we need righteousness - which points to Jesus

  5. Prophets tell of one who would bridge the gap between Law and God > we need righteousness - which points to Jesus

  6. Jesus comes and teaches on how to live as a citizen of this Kingdom with lots of expectations > we need righteousness - which points to Jesus

  7. Jesus suffers and dies and rises from the dead, the Law is fulfilled in Him > righteousness given - which points to Jesus

  8. The church age comes and we realize that Law was God's grace exposing our need of Him, Christ came and met that need showing God's grace

  9. Eternity awaits for the righteous not by works but for the righteous through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ

The law sends us to Jesus to be justified, because it shows us our inability to please God in ourselves. But after we come to Jesus, He sends us back to the law to learn the heart of God's desire for our conduct and sanctification. After we are sanctified we are sent to be glorified because of His righteousness.