Matthew Five – 2010

Chapter 55:3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
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Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
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Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
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Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
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Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
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Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
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Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you
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Father,

Diminish my pride, that I might live in the truth that I am poor in spirit. That my only hope is in you because – of myself, I have nothing to give! Oh Jesus, by your worth and your worth alone do I hope to see the Kingdom of Heaven.

Oh Lord, let me mourn and heave with anguish over my sin. Let each lash of the whip, each cut of the thorn and each nail that pierced your sons hand be more real to me than the food I eat and the clothes I wear. Let me hate sin for the disgusting thing it is as it denies your glory, so that I am compelled to throw myself at the feet of your throne weeping over the sickness of this world and being comforted only by your mercy.

Forgive me Lord, I have not been meek, but prideful. Give me a spirit of meekness please God. You are my light, you are my hope, you are my strength, you are everything – and I am just dust and ashes and I have deserved your wrath but you have loved me as a son. Let me proclaim your mercy and glory with humility please Father.  Give me a spirit of meekness that I might share your love to the smallest creature.  That I might never consider myself above anyone, but always consider others with higher regard than myself. I want to be like Jesus Christ, the true son of God.

O Lord, how I wish I could get rid of my stomach and replace it with a hunger for you.  Forgive me please because I have made food a higher priority in my life than your word.  I want to change.  I want to desire you more than anything else.  Make me like that please!  I want to have an appetite for you that is so relentless that I can not sleep or eat or be happy until I have embraced you and proclaimed your glory in my life and devoted my time to your word and prayer.

Father when I think of this verse I shake. To think of my lack of mercy over other makes me very afraid to consider the judgment that might fall on me. Please forgive me for all the times I have judged unjustly and God please give me the eyes and heart of Jesus Christ your son who is perfect.  Make me like him so that I might not cast blame but instead offer mercy for all and any who trespass against me, or even do something that I don’t like much.  As written in your word God; Mercy triumphs over judgement- I know you are a merciful Dad and that I am forgiven, please make me a merciful son that I might be about your work glorifying your name!

My heart is so far from pure… Oh Lord it is a dark and evil place at times. Purify me oh God please. You are God and you alone can wash the scarlet cloth white. Please make me pure – my trust is in you Jesus Christ.

Let me be a peace maker please Dad. You are the giver of every gift, and I am a child desperate for your providence praying for your favour, seeking the greatest gifts from you.

Oh God, you know that I am so easily discouraged.  Father give me the strength and the courage and the heart that is in Jesus Christ that I might glorify his name.  All I can do is ask my God, you will do what you know is right. I want to stand in strength against the persecutors speaking truth and telling of your glory, but I weird out even when sharing with an accepting person.  Oh God, destroy the timidness in me and fill me with a Godly boldness that is founded in you.  Jesus you have said, (John 15:20) ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.‘ In my heart and in my head I am willing to do anything for you Christ, please make it so in my body.

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. This is a warning to lukewarm believers! If salt loses it’s saltiness it is cast out. Likewise if a Christian cease to communicate saving power to the world he too will be cast out (see Rev 3:16).  Scary really.  A good verse to keep us in check!

5:14You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither 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. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. This is a simple concept and is appropriate for even teaching very young kids. When you have something good, something you can share and not run out of, something everyone wants and needs – you give it away as fast as you can to as many people as you can! This verse is saying I’ve given you a good thing to share, so share it!
✪ On a day to day basis I come into contact with many, maybe even around a hundred people.  Some, and most of those people don’t know the gospel and are going to hell. The only way they are going to escape hell is through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).  Am I going to tell them about Him? I now have a responsibility and people around me may have a fate much worse than death if I do not fulfill my responsibility.  But how am I to minister to all these people? How will my life continue if I plan to stop and have a 20 minute conversation with every hell bound person I make eye contact with.  In this verse, Jesus gives the answer: let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Paraphrase; Whatever you do, do it in a way that make people say, “Wow, God is good”, “What is it about that person that makes them shine?”, “God has done a work in that person, I am impressed with God, and I want him to do the same thing in my life.”

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. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes 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 does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus does not relax the law.  I’m actually struggling with this verse, because I’ve just been listening to Leviticus and there are a lot of laws, some of which I break weekly without any conviction. Example Leviticus 19:26“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. 27You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. 28You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord. By Jesus saying that he has not come to relax the law does that mean that I shouldn’t eat meat with blood in it, that I shouldn’t shave off my sideburns, and that I should not have gotten a tattoo? These three things I have done thinking that I was set free from the law (Romans 6:15, Galatians 5:1, Romans 8:2). And particularly this verse Acts 21:25But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled,c and from sexual immorality.”, seems to say that Gentiles, myself included, don’t need to worry about the surface related factors of the old law but rather the heart related factors of the law of the Spirit or the law of Christ (1 Cor 9:21). I would love some Godly council on this topic!

5:20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. I find this one a little easier and it relaxes my concern above. The fact is that none of us can exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees therefore none of us will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Only through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ can we meet this standard. Of course this is easy to understand in light of the cross, however I can’t imagine what the people hearing it at the time would have thought.  It must have been a major downer for them.

5:21-26 Anger! You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. Looks like God takes anger issues very seriously. So seriously that he said leave your gift and make amends before you present it.  ✪ But I’m not a very angry person in nature, so how can I apply this to my day to day life? Well, the most prominent thing is this; God is more concerned with the state of the heart, than the legalistics of the law. But, this is not in a sense that relaxes the law (starting to get more of an understanding of 5:17-19), it actually just brings the law closer to home. For example if the law states “you shall not murder” and you take that law into your heart, you will be compelled within you not to even entertain a hateful thought toward anyone lest that thought blossom into murder. An image of an adult and a toddler come to mind. A fully blossomed toddler is an adult, although the toddler is no less human than the adult. Hate in full blossom is murder, although hate is no less a sin than murder.

5:27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
✪ The same image used for anger is applied. A fully blossomed toddler is an adult, although the toddler is no less human than the adult. Lustful intent in full blossom is adultery, although lustful intent is no less a sin than adultery. What does this mean? I am guilty of committing adultery on my wife! Yes, I will say it as plainly as that, there can be no good in understating sin.  And if I have committed adultery on my wife (which I have) she is permitted by verse 32 to ask for a certificate of divorce. Jesus did not make that conclusion exclusively, but he did tell everyone that if they look at a woman with lustful intent they are adluterers, and then he told the the biblical ground for divorce is adultery.  Is Jesus making allowances for everyone to get divorced because everyone sins? EMPHATICALLY NO! Jesus is doing three things here I believe; 1)He is bringing the law/sin back to the real heart issue, wanting to break the law, is breaking the law without the strength or resources to finish the job.  2)He is re-adjusting the pride of men, who think they are not that bad.  He says to those men – actually you’re adulterers and if your wives knew what goes on in your heads, you would be divorced.  3)He emphatically stresses the absolute dire dependent need for forgiveness. At this point, every man’s heart would have sunk into their stomach as they realized they were an adulterer. They really were! Their confidence in their own righteousness has now dramatically plummeted and  cast them into despair.  They may be thinking “I hope my wife didn’t hear that, if she files for a divorce, my reputation is ruined”, but their thoughts will eventually lead to “am I really that bad?”.  Yes you are! Jesus makes it clear.  Actually you’re much worse!  Because so far we’ve only talked about murder and adultery, you’ve got 8 more commandments to go and it only gets worse! Worst of all you haven’t even for one second of your life been able to obey the first and greatest commandment “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, all your mind. Where does that leave YOU?
On your knees, weeping, begging, and hoping in Jesus – “I need forgiveness, I need the righteousness of Jesus Christ.”

5:37Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. ✪ This has always been a standout verse for me, but why? It’s not really like I am good at this – Oh I know! It’s because I like to remind people of this verse when they annoy me with their broken promises. But I myself have many broken promises. Time to start applying this in my own life.  Practically speaking, this means being more considerate of Maggie’s time and planning.  If I say I can do something she expects me to do it. I need to be considerate enough to say no when I can’t do it, and get up and do it when I say I can.

5:38You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’g 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. I have hear the is verse interpreted many ways.  Some adamantly professing that through idioms it’s actually exactly the opposite of what it says, others saying it should be taken completely at face value, and the next time someone slaps you- you indeed turn the other cheek- that they may slap you again. Of course something seems not quite right about the theology, ethic, pathos, of just letting someone hit you twice. However at the same time, it does not seem fair, or right, or safe to insist on re-interpreting scripture to make this verse easier to swallow.
Indeed, at face value, this verse seems offensive.  “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also“. Could it be that Jesus wants us to be struck twice instead of just once. Mat 5:4, 7 & 10 might allow for that conclusion – maybe Jesus is considering our blessing in heaven?  But no, I don’t think so! And admittedly because in my opinion it just doesn’t seem right. Tim Keller tries to put this in context of the time by saying the people Jesus is talking to would have greeted each other with a superficial kiss on both cheeks; therefore the point Jesus is making is illustrative. Here is the deeper meaning; if you are offering your respect and love for a person and in return they hurt you, don’t keep your love and respect back from them, but offer it again without hesitation that God’s grace may shine through you.  This interpretation is definitely the most easily acceptable for me. However, reading and interpreting the bible is not a game of deducing the most acceptable meaning, it is based on deducing the correct meaning, for the sake of obey the master. So in that case. Father, I am just a boy.  Your adopted son and I long to worship you fully in spirit and in truth.  This is a hard teaching for me, please help me understand what you meant when you said it! I would like to apply this scripture in my life and even memorize it, but at the moment I’m afraid if someone asked what it means, I might have to reply-“I really don’t know”.

It has been 48 hours since I wrote the above. My prayer was that I would receive some understanding on how to interpret the scripture “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also“.  I mentioned this message that Tim Keller brought to light “if you are offering your respect and love for a person and in return they hurt you, don’t keep your love and respect back from them, but offer it again without hesitation that God’s grace may shine through you“.  I’m not fairly confident that is the true meaning of the tough verse about scripture.  Not because of some profoud revelation from the clouds.  But because upon taking a second look at the following scriptures I can see the context.  The general message is don’t return evil for evil, but rather evil for good, as Jesus examplified when he went to the cross. And I think verses 4347, With the final point being, even the pagans can love the people that love them, but to be Christ like is to love those who hate you.

5:48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Jesus closes by asking us to do something impossible.  Be perfect.  Why does he ask that?  Maybe, it is because he knows we will never be able to fully achieve the standard of righteousness he has outlined in this sermon, therefore he eliminates any hope that we have mastered the way of Jesus, letting us know that to fully master his way, we must actually be perfect. Perfect without one flaw. Perfection is only in Jesus Christ. And through him our justification comes. Hallelujah!  Thank the Father.

Continue to Matthew 6  ➜

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