Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Matthew 6:7-8

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
(NIV)


God does not need you to ask. He is not up on some cloud oblivious to your needs, thinking, "I wonder what that child of mine wants..."

God wants you to ask, so that He can fulfill. He want you to grow in faith. The asking is really a part of obedience to Him. He desires us to grow more and more like Christ, and Christ brought everything to the Father.

Seek to become more like Christ today, and bring your requests to Him.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Matthew 6:6

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
(NIV)


I can remember this one particular guy in my church as I grew up, and his prayers were always so eloquent. Now, I am in no way saying that this particular guy had any wrong motives in his praying, but I will say that it affected me. I always felt inadequate to pray, after I had listened to this guy.

But prayer is not for other people. It was wrong for me to be intimidated, simply because this guy used a lot of big, theological sounding words when he prayed. Our prayers are a conversation between God and Man. And if there was a quota of intelligence required to pray, then none of us would qualify.

Also, to any pastor that might read this, don't let your prayers at the end of a sermon be an additional sermonette. I know that it can be easy to use prayer to try to "be" the Holy Spirit at the end of a sermon. I would like to caution you to avoid that.

When you pray, pray to God.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Matthew 6:5

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."
(NIV)


Another example from the beginning of Matthew 6.

The word hypocrite, in the greek, literally means, an actor. There are those who put on their outward show of spirituality, and that is all that it is - a show. The whole thing is an act, but like some actors do, there are many who get so involved with this character that they are portraying, that eventually they begin to believe the act. They begin to believe that these outward shows are truly spiritual.

Ask yourself today what you do as a show? and what is real?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Matthew 6:2-4

"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.

I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your fiving may be in secret.

Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."


(NIV)


In verse one, Jesus tells us not to do our good deeds for people. Now he gives an example, giving to the needy. Giving to the needy shouldn't be for praise, and this may sound weird, but it also isn't for the needy. The motivation is God Himself.

This is a fairly recent truth for me. There was a time that I would have said that we need to be doing things for others simply because they need it. But as I have been reading through the Bible, I am seeing more and more, that the needy don't need us. And God doesn't need us to meet the needs of these poor people. Our service should be motivated simply for Him!

Don't do the things you do for other people, do it for the God of heaven and earth.

Here is an example from school. There are plenty of students that do really well in school, but I have to ask, "What is your motivation? Is it because of parents? Is it to get the good grades so that people will know how smart you are?" Doing well in school should be because God has commanded us in His word to do all things as if for Him. So the Geometry and the History and the English and whatever else, should be done for the Glor of God!

Question your motives today.

Also, read the last part of this section again. It is filled with great encouragement.

Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Matthew 6:1

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
(NIV)


Jesus cuts to the heart again, and asks, "What is your motivation?"

Ask yourself that question. Why do you do what you do? What is the internal motivation? I have heard it said, "You do what you do, because you want what you want." And I would agree, but then you have to ask, "What did I want when I did that?!?"

I would like to encourage you today, to ask yourself these hard questions.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Matthew 5:48

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(NIV)


The bar is raised. The standard is set. We are to be perfect. "How perfect?" you might ask. As perfect as God himself. We, like all sons, are to be like our heavenly Father. We are to be as perfect as He is.

What do you do with a verse like this? You can't get rid of it. You can't throw it out. There is no ignoring it. You can try, but that won't work.

In the context, it is a summary. All of the things that Jesus has been saying so far, are summarized with this.

I am sure that there is someone out there that is already saying, "but we can never reach that goal!" And I would like to thank that person for reminding us all of that. Our inability to be perfect has brought about the need for a savior. But the savior has not nullified the goal. Just because he has come to pay the penalty, does not mean that we are to stop striving. In fact, the savior has made the goal possible!

In the book of Romans, we are told that whoever is justified will be sanctified, and the person who is sanctified, will eventually be glorified! We will one day attain the perfection thanks to the savior who was our perfection, when we didn't deserve it!

I would like to encourage you today to continue in Christ. He is our perfection.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Matthew 5:46-47

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
And if you greet only your brothers,
what are you doing more than others?
Do not even pagans do that?

(NIV)


It is so easy to be doing the right stuff, for all of the wrong reasons. If we are loving our neighbors that we like, or are being kind because of the benefit, then we are no different than those who are not part of God's kingdom.

The citizens of the kingdom show the love of Christ to all, especially to those who do not "deserve" it.

Ask yourself today, "who do you show love to?"

Friday, May 20, 2005

Matthew 5:45b

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
(NIV)


Our example of across the board kindness and love is God himself. He brings sunshine and rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. He doesn't reserve that for those who love Him.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Matthew 5:45a

"...that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."
(NIV)


When my sons do things like me, people always say, "...well, he is definitely his father's son." The same thing is true of the children of God. When we act like Him, people will know whose children we are.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Matthew 5:43-44

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, "
(NIV)

Jesus pretty much flips the tables on everything. There are so many things that I could point out here, but if you would allow me, I would like to focus in on the word Love.

This teaching is a key in understanding what love is all about. Consider the idea of loving your enemies. With the way that we think about the word love, is that even possible? In America, we so much think about love in terms of feelings. We have even lowered the word enough to describe how we feel about a Big Mac. But love, in this case isn't a feeling for the enemy, Jesus isn't asking us to get all warm and fuzzy when we think about those people that would fall into that category.

Love is action. Love is putting another before yourself. To love your enemy requires you to do something to or for your enemy that is love! We all have those people in our lives that we just don't like all that well. Those are our enemies (in a sense). Choose today to follow that command and Love them.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Matthew 5:40-42

And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
(NIV)


This life should not be about self-preservation. I know that we talk about how there are those people out there that would say things like, "I am looking out for number 1!" We envision this almost like it is some kind of after-school special. We think of these verses as if they would apply when this exact thing happens. But I don't even wear a cloak (I am not for sure I know what a tunic is...). But try to apply them to your life today.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Matthew 5:38-39

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."
(NIV)


Have you ever wanted to "put someone in their place?" Maybe they have been a little pious or had a smug, self-righteous attitude, and then you just want to put them right where they belong. Possibly there has been someone who has been taking advantage of others for a long time, and then you get your chance. You know that you can "rightly" take advantage of them.

But citizens of the Kingdom are different. They trust their King. They know that vengence belongs to Him, and He will repay. They can sit back and relax, knowing that whatever comes their way is from the king, and He wants to use if for good in their lives. The citizens of the Kingdom can repeat after Joseph, who, when he had been sold into slavery by his brothers, told them later in life, "What you meant for evil, God meant for good."

Friday, May 13, 2005

Matthew 5:33-37

Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
(NIV)


I believe that this passage is less about oaths and swearing, and more about your words. As citizens of the Kingdom of God, every word we speak should be an oath. We should be the speakers of truth. And our words should be so true that there will be no need to swear. You could rephrase the last part as, say what you mean and mean what you say.

This is a difficult thing in a world filled with triviality, excuses, and sarcasm. Our words should be well placed words.

As you go through your day today, ask yourself if your yes means yes and your no means no.

Also note how powerful and cutting Jesus' words are. (Remember that his yes means yes and his no means no...) At the end of the verse he says, "anything beyond this comes from the evil one. If I went around saying this, I would be called harsh, critical, and judgemental. How dare I say that anyone's actions come from the evil one?!?

But Jesus speaks it and He means it.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Matthew 5:31-32

"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
(NIV)

Wow. I really have myself in a bind with this one. But here are these verses. What can we learn from this?

Consider this, even if not about this particular issue, are you willing to believe the word of God, even when it is difficult, or when it doesn't quite make sense?

There are many out there that would claim to be believers in the Bible, but when it comes to something that they do not agree with, they chuck it! In the end, it is their opinion that has motivated the life.

This passage is difficult, and it steps on toes, regardless of how you interpret it. But are you willing to believe it, even if it is unpopular.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Matthew 5:29-30

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
(NIV)


Drastic measures are needed.

Just consider the numbers upon numbers of people that are struggling with different sins, that are unwilling to gouge and cut and throw away. We are more concerned with having something that is "ours" than we are concerned with the God who created us.

Consider today what needs to be gone from your life. Is it the internet? Oh, but we can't live without that! Is it the television? No way, what would we do?!? A friendship, a place, what is it?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Matthew 5:27-28

You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
(NIV)

Have you ever really thought about what these verses are saying?

Jesus says that if you look at a woman lustfully, you have committed adultery with her in your heart. Think about that. He doesn't say that if you look at a woman lustfully you have sinned, though you have. He says that you have committed the act, in your heart!

They say that a habit can be formed in approximately 2 to 4 weeks. If you do something often enough it will develop into a habit. Something that you don't even have to consciously persuade yourself to do. That is what a habit is really all about. Habitual behavior can be to your good, like reading your Bible everyday, or praying when a trial comes. If you continue to do the same thing, the habit develops.

If a person commits adultery in their heart on a daily basis, they will very easily commit adultery in the real world. It is their habit. They will hardly even have to think about it.

But even if the opportunity never arises, you are still an adulterer, even if it is only in the heart.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Matthew 5:25-26

"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."
(NIV)


Hmm... This verse almost seems like it could be found in with the Proverbs. Maybe you could say it this way, "Don't fight those courtroom battles. You might lose! Just settle the matter before it gets that bad." Also, "If you are wrong, just admit it!"

In America, this passage applies quite frequently. We are overrun with lawsuits and lawyers. But on a more personal note. In your everyday affairs, simply do the right thing. If you have wronged someone, make it right. Don't try to get out of it.

People who are like this, who make things right, are the citizens of the Kingdom.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Matthew 5:23-24

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
(NIV)


I can remember the first time that the teaching of the verse made sense to me. I would summarize it by saying this, "In order to be right with God, you need to be right with your neighbor."

So that I won't get too wordy on this post, allow me to refer you to this other post that deals with this verse. And then let me encourage you with this: If you know of someone that you have wronged, make it right today. Don't let another moment go by that must go by. Make things right with the people around you, so that you can be right with your creator.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Matthew 5:21-22

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell."
(NIV)


This is one of the most amazing teachings of the Bible. In just a couple of short statements we are all made guilty. No longer can the belief that outward conformity is enough, sin dwells in the heart. You can no longer say that you are good because you haven't murdered, because there is a chance that there is a murderous heart living and beating in your own chest. And the words that we flippantly say out of anger, are words that condemn our own souls.

The need for a savior increases. We are again unworthy to save ourselves.

Consider today your actions toward others. Even when you are treated wrongly. More importantly, consider your heart.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Matthew 5:20

For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
(NIV)


There it is. The essence of our need. The most righteous people, were not righteous enough. This is why we need the fulfiller of the Law to be our righteousness for us.

Consider this verse as you go through your day. Meditate on your need for THE saviour, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Matthew 5:19

Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
(NIV)


If I haven't mentioned it before, the phrase, "the kingdom of heaven," or "the kingdom of God," is referring to what it would be like to have God as king. This is the easiest way to understand this title.

So, here we have it, if you go against the commands of the king, and teach others to do the same, then you are the least citizen of the kingdom, and will be called so. A pretty serious warning. When I read this, what came to my mind are those people who feel like it is OK to do about anything. Sometimes I wonder if they have gone too far. They claim to be anti-legalistic, but what they end up doing is getting rid of every rule that has ever been imposed upon them. But in this verse, we aren't to live without commands. We, as citizens of this heavenly kingdom are to keep the commands.

And in keeping the commands of God, we are to teach others to do the same. We will be called great in the kingdom, if we are obedient to the king.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Matthew 5:18

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

(NIV)


  • The entire Bible is now translated in more than 400 languages.
  • Portions of the Bible have been translated into nearly 2,500 languages.
  • The United Bible Societies report that their network of organizations distributed 633 million portions of the Bible in 2000.
  • There are more than 5,300 ancient manuscripts of the Greek New testament, more than 10,000 Latin manuscripts, and 9,300 other early versions. (The next most commonly copied document is Homer's Iliad with 643 manuscripts... all of them partial. Yet nobody doubts the reliability of the Iliad.)
  • What about mistakes from the copying? 99.7% of the mistakes that are found are easily accounted for. Only 0.3% remain, and none of them have to do with any major doctrine of the Faith. "No fundamental doctrine of the Christian Faith rests on a disputed reading." -Sir Fredrick Kenyon (Leading authority on textual criticism.)
  • The New Testament was completed around A.D.100, and the oldest copy is dated at A.D.125. Only twenty-five years! (Compare that to the Iliad, which earliest copy is dated 500 years later than the time it was written.)
  • The Bible was written by forty different people who lived over a period of 1,500 years apart and consisted of prophets, kings, shepherds, fishermen, a physician and a tax collector... just to name a few. Yet, contrary to the minority opinion, they are all in agreement. (You might say, "what are you talking about? The bible is full of disagreements!" My response: name one. My e-mail is mattharmless@gmail.com.)
  • Every one of the 61 major prophecies concerning the messiah were fulfilled by Jesus. Even unbelieving scientists applying the measurement of statistical probability tell us that the chances of just eight of those prophecies being fulfilled is one in 1017.

I have just skimmed the surface. No other book has been as hated as the Bible. Countless numbers of people have tried to destroy it, ban it, and burn it. And all have failed.

Here is one illustration of how the Bible has been preserved under attack. You may have heard of Voltaire, the French infidel. He predicted that Christianity would be destroyed within 100 years of his lifetime ant that the only place you'd find a Bible would be in a museum. Instead, Voltaire has become history, and the circulation of the Bible continues to increase around the world.

Ironically, within fifty years of Voltaire's death in 1778, the Geneva Bible Society bought his home and used his own printing press to print Bibles.

--James MacDonald, God Wrote a Book

All facts came from James MacDonald's book, God Wrote a Book. You can read my review of this book on this post.