Friday, April 29, 2005

Matthew 5:17

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
(NIV)


The fulfillment of the Law. The fulfillment of the prophecies. The fulfillment.

Recently I have run across a few blogs and other websites that have questioned the need for Christ. That maybe people could get to God without him. I have even heard alot of talk about interfaith relationships, especially with the new pope.

But Jesus isn't just some good teacher. And he isn't just another option on the list of pathways and journeys to God. He is THE Way. There are no other ways.

Jesus came to this earth to fulfill. Don't forget that today. We serve a powerful effective God who fulfills what He promises.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world.

A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.

Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

(NIV)

Notice that it says, "You are..." It does not say that this is what we should be. We are lights. We shine in a dark world. Consider the words of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

John 1:1-9 (NIV)

So Jesus, who came into the world as a light, tells us that when we are his, we will shine that light. This is a light that cannot be hidden. And it would be ridiculous to even think that. "A city set on a hill cannot be hidden!" Cannot!

Also, the person who lights the light would not hide the light. And neither would Christ, who is the lighter of all lights, hide the lights he has set out in this world. He has put us here so that people may see our good works and glorify God!

Consider also these later words of John:

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

I John 1:5-7 (NIV)

Claiming to be a light is not enough. People can say anything. They can even say with their mouths that they are in the light. But if their lifestyle is in the darkness, then are they truly in the light? No.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Matthew 5:13

You are the salt of the earth.

But if the salt loses its saltiness,
how can it be made salty again?

It is no longer good for anything,
except to be thrown out and trampled by men.


(NIV)


The Salt of the Earth.

What a concept. Just think of all of the things that would have come to the listeners minds. Salt is a huge necessity during those times: it was valuable, it was a preservative, it was a cleanser, and my favorite, it was a flavor enhancer. As long as it was good.

Here Jesus tells these people how they should be in this world. Oswald Chambers says,

"Some modern teachers seem to think our Lord said, You are the sugar of the earth, meaning that gentleness and winsomeness without curativeness is the ideal of a Christian."



We are to be effective in this world. We are to be effective in our work, in our families, and with our friends. And the effectiveness should look like the first few verses of this chapter. If you fulfill those things, then you will be the salt of the earth.

But if you lose that saltiness, then you will be uneffective, useless, and cast out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Matthew 5:11-12

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

(NIV)


The key phrase in this passage is, "...because of me."

Christ is the key. He is the motive and the means and the end. As you read back through the beatitudes, you will see that they are all about our Lord Jesus Christ. If it is not about Him, then it is for nothing.

"Herein lies the disproportion between Jesus Christ's principles and all other moral teaching: Jesus bases everything on God-realization, while other teachers base everything on self-realization."

"There is a difference between devotion to principles and devotion to a person. Jesus Christ never proclaimed a cause; He proclaimed a devotion to Himself - 'for My sake.' Discipleship is based not on devotion to abstract ideals, but on devotion to a person, the Lord Jesus Christ; consequently the whole of the Christian life is stamped by originality."

--Oswald Chambers, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Question your motives today. Be devoted to Him.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Matthew 5:10

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

(NIV)



There are many different levels of persecution. Some are more effective than others.

I have heard that the Chinese water torture was to strap a person down, and let a bucket of water drip onto the forehead. A drip of water is nothing compared to other tortures, but that slow continual dripping begins to work in the mind. And as it would go on and on, eventually that drip wouldn't seem like a drip anymore. It would seem like a hammer smashing down on the forehead.

The same thing is true with Americans, and many others of the "modern" world. We may not be persecuted outright, but we are persecuted for our righteousness. We are ridiculed as teenagers. We are mocked as adults. Those around us consider us stupid or backward, simply because we actually believe the Bible. And that slow continual dripping begins to wear. And so many of us cave in.

If you are persecuted today, remember, that you are part of a new kingdom. We are just passing through here.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Matthew 5:9

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

(NIV)


As a child, I heard this passage more than any other in the Bible. My mother would quote the first part of this verse every time there was the smallest hint of a fight between me and my sister, or even between me and my friends.

"Blessed are the peacemakers..." she would say, and each of us would be forced, in our own minds, to reevaluate our actions toward each other. Were we actually making peace, or were we expecting peace to come to us? And so growing up I learned that one of the major goals, not just of sibling relationships, but of all relationships, is to be a maker of peace.

What I didn't know is the response to being a peacemaker. Those who see your peacemaking actions will recognize you as your Father's son. And they will say that they have seen a son of God.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Matthew 5:8

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

(NIV)


pure - [Katharos] - clean, blameless, innocent; unstained with the guilt of anything; sincere genuine

heart - [Kardia] - of the middle or central or inmost part of anything; thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours, sensibilities, affections, emotions, desires, appetites, passions, will, intelligence and character

see - [Horao] - to see with the eyes; to see with the mind, to perceive, know; to see, i.e. become acquainted with by experience, to experience


If you want to know and experience God. If you want to become acquainted with your creator. Then what needs to change is you. Right in the middle of you, of who you really are, it needs to change. It needs to become clean and pure. All guilt needs to be cleased out.

Sound impossible? It is.

That is why Christ came to this earth. To pay the penalty for the sin. To eliminate the guilt of that sin, that we might have pure hearts, therefore allowing us to "get to" God.

But this is not some distant work that will be done. It begins now. Philippians 1:6 says, "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry in on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (NIV)

The work has begun, cleansing us, and sanctifying us, and one day it will be completed, and we will see God!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Matthew 5:7

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

(NIV)


We have all been in need of mercy. We are all still in need of mercy. There is just no getting around that fact. All of us are sinners. I know that there are some who might deny this outwardly, but in the depths of their hearts, they know they have done the wrong thing.

But don't forget who we need the mercy from. Consider the words of David, after he had committed adultery and murder:

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

Psalm 51:1-4 (NIV) [read the whole chapter]

We need mercy! And we need to obtain it from the mercy giver!

But we can also be the bestowers of mercy. We can partake in the mercies of God by bestowing mercy on others. And if we do this, and become merciful people, then we will be happy (blessed) and the God of Heaven will show us mercy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
(NIV)


If you have lost this hunger, or you have never had it, then pray today that God would restore that in you. That you might be able to echo the words of King David, when he said, "As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Matthew 5:5

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

(NIV)


According to Studylight.org, the word meek means, "mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit." It goes on to say, "Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting." (To see the entire definition, click here.)

Therefore, meekness is not being a rug or welcome mat for people to wipe their feet on. I would define meekness as the lack of self-promotion, as a willingness to be that rug, if it for the sake of doing what is right.

I know that when you choose to live your life for others and for Christ, there are times when people take advantage of that. And I am in no way promoting intentional martyrdom... But I am asking the question, "...who are you living for?"

Monday, April 18, 2005

Sermon on the Mount Thoughts

"Beware of placing our Lord as teacher first instead of Savior. That tendency is prevalent today, and it s a dangerous tendency. We must know Him first as Savior before His teaching can have any meaning for us or before it can have any meaning other than that of an ideal that leads to despair.

Fancy coming to men and women with defective lives and defiled hearts and wrong mainsprings, and telling them to be pure in heart!

What is the use of giving us an ideal we cannot possibly attain? We are happier without it. If Jesus is a teacher only, then all He can do is to tantalize us by erecting a standard we cannot come anywhere near.

But if by being born again from above we know Him first as Savior, we know that He did not come to teach us only: He came to make us what He teaches we should be. The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His way with us."

Oswald Chambers, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 1960.

Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

(NIV)


I know that this verse is a great comfort to many people. This world is full of heartache, pain, and sorrow, so when we see a verse that tells us that our mourning will be comforted, it is a great promise to cling on to.

But the real question to ask is, "what are you mourning for?"

There are many people who are mourning about the wrong things. They are weeping and wailing because they can't get what they want.

This is a lesson that I am always trying to teach my boys. When things don't go their way, they will start to cry about it. I immediately say, "is this something to cry about?" If they aren't for sure how to answer the question, I will begin giving them some examples of things that are worthy of tears.

What are you mourning for?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Matthew 5:3

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(NIV)


Have you ever heard a passage so many times that you stop hearing what it says?

Have you ever analyzed the greek syntax of a particular original text so in depth that the words end up losing all of their meaning?

Instead of reading this passage in fifty different translations, take a moment to ponder what it is saying to you. The poor in spirit are blessed, they are happy and fulfilled. The kingdom of heaven is their kingdom, and God is their king.

Seek today to be poor in spirit.

(If you are still unsure what that means, break out your Bible dictionaries and greek lexicons. I am sure you will figure it out.)

Friday, April 15, 2005

Psalm 1 Overview

vs 1
vs 2
vs 3
vs 4
vs 5
vs 6

Go back and review these verses.

When I read them together, I see instructions and an outcome. What do you see?


Well, I have finished my first passage of scripture for this blog. I can tell already that this is going to be an awesome journey for me, even if nobody else ever reads it. I have found so many applications for Psalm 1 this last week, it is truly amazing!

I hope that you have enjoyed it as well.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Psalm 1:6

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
(NIV)


Keep in mind as you read this, that when a psalmist says, "the way" he is referring to a manner of life. I know that it doesn't seem like this all of the time, but God's ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

When Joseph was thrown into slavery, rejected by his brothers.... When he was accused of wrong doing by his boss... When he ended up on death row in Egypt... I am sure that things might have seemed bleak. But later in his life, he was able to look to his brothers and say, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accompolish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:20)

Following God's way does not mean a road without trial. But it is a road that is worth traveling. It is full of meaning and promise.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Psalm 1:5

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

(NIV)

There will be no back-talking, arguing, or excuse-making going on at the judgement seat. Time will be at an end. All opportunities will have been spent. And those people, who have so pridefully and defiantly stood their ground against God, will bow down to their creator and their tongue will be silent.

C.S. Lewis once said, "There will be two kinds of people in the end: Those that will say to God 'Thy will be done' and those to whom God will say 'Thy will be done.'"

If you are interested, read some thoughts on will.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Psalm 1:4

Not so the wicked!
They are like the chaff
that the wind blows away.

(NIV)



Here we can see the flip side of the coin.

On one side there is this strong firm tree, planted by a river, bringing forth fruit. It is beautiful, it is beneficial. On the other extreme there is chaff, blowing away in the wind. Chaff is good for nothing. It is purposefully beaten out so that it will blow away.

Once, in the New Testament, Jesus gave a similar illustration of a house built on a firm rock and of a house built on the sand.

Interesting point to ponder: Notice that when Jesus was talking about the wise and the foolish man, he said that the wise man was the one who would "... hear these words of mine and put them into practice."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Psalm 1:3

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
(NIV)
What is the result of avoiding ungodly counsel, not aligning yourself with sinners or their ways, and delighting and meditating on God's word? A prosperous life.

This is not talking about getting rich. Though there are some who would preach a health and wealth gospel, the Bible does not teach that. This is talking about a spiritually prosperous life. A life that can withstand all of the trials and tribulations this world sends. This idea of a tree by a river paints a picture of a person who is rooted, and rooted in the best of places.

This world is a hard place to live in. Difficult times are ahead of you or are already on top of you, trying to bring you down. But if you are firmly grounded in the Christ, drinking daily from the river of His truth, then you will be like this tree. You will bring forth your fruit in your season, your leaf will not wither, and whatever you undertake to do, it will be prosperous.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Psalm 1:2

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on His law he meditates day and night.
(NIV)

In verse one, we can see where the happy man is not. Now we can see where the happy man is.

God's word is the answer. It is the key, not only to godly living, but to happy living. And that makes total sense. Wouldn't the Creator of all humanity know how a human can be happy, better than anyone else?

Where does the happy man dwell? He dwells in the law of the Lord. He is there day and night. It directs his steps, guides his thoughts.

Where do you dwell? What is filling your mind on a daily basis? What is your meditation?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Psalm 1:1

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
(NIV)


When you see the word Blessed in the book of Psalms, it could easily be translated Happy.

"Happy is the man..."

And then we see these three things:

1) Don't walk in the counsel of the wicked.
Don't listen to what they have to say. Don't go along with their advice. Don't saturate yourself with their teachings. Be aware of those teachings that are buried in television and music.

2) Don't stand in the way of sinners.
Don't align yourself with their manner of life. Don't position yourself in that thinking or lifestyle.

3) Don't sit in the seat of mockers.
Don't settle yourself in their mocking of God and his way. Don't allow yourself to be counted amoungst those who would consider the ways of God to be old or arcane.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Psalm 119:10

With my whole heart I have searched for You;
Let me not wander from Your commandments.

-Psalm 119:10
(Translation by Jay E. Adams, in his book Counsel from Psalm 119)

Can you say with this psalmist, that you have searched for God with your whole heart? Is your prayer, the prayer that he prayed? "O Lord, don't let me wander from Your Word!"

In this blog, I hope to post daily (or nearly daily) posting from scripture. I don't plan on adding much of my own commentary, maybe just a statement or two; sometimes more, sometimes less. But if you would like to add some commentary of your own, or if you would like to share what a passage has meant to you, please feel free.