Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Yes Yes

People often use an explicative to punctuate the sincerity of what they are propounding. Christians avoid using such language but are not above saying, “I swear thus and so is true,” or “To be honest…” or “I promise you what I am telling you is the truth.” Why do we feel it is necessary to emphasize the truth of what we are saying? Do we not always tell the truth?

When we add to our speech things to impress others with the truthfulness of what we are telling them, we are guilty of manipulation. Why not allow the person to come to his or her own conclusion about the truthfulness of what we are telling them? Does she not have the ability to understand the evidence or to reason out the truthfulness of our statement on her own? Is he not capable of weighing what we have to say and coming to a reasonable conclusion?

Jesus said if we attempt to persuade by adding swearing or promises we are headed for trouble. He advised us to stick with the simple rule, “let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.” In other words, “I say what I mean and I mean what I say.” Anything more comes from Satan (Mathew 5:33-37).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Jesus’ words in Mathew 5:31-32 have been hotly debated for centuries. “Furthermore it has been said, whoever divorces his wife let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”

There three distinct ways of interpreting the exception rule in this passage. 1) The exception rule refers to a woman who has already committed adultery; therefore the husband who divorces her does not force to to commit adultery because she is already an adulterer. 2) The sentence “Whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” makes it clear that the exception only applies to divorce and does not permit remarriage. 3) The exception rule applies to both the divorce and remarriage so that a person who is divorced because his or her spouse has been sexually unfaithful has the right to marry again.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians sheds additional light on the Mathew passage. “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned” (1 Corinthians 7:27-28).

I believe “to be loosed from a wife” means divorced for two reasons. First he says if you are bound to a wife do not seek to be loosed. If it does not mean divorce the only other interpretation would be death. It seems clear to me that Paul would not be saying, “If you are bound to a wife don’t seek to murder her.” That would be a given. It makes more sense that he would say, “If you are bound to a wife don’t seek to divorce her.”

Secondly Paul states “if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.” Since this is a second statement (indicated by the conjunction “and”) the first must refer to someone who is not a virgin, someone who has been married previously. So when he states “but even if you do marry, you have not sinned” he is speaking to those who are divorce.

Each reader must come to his or her own conclusion based on scripture.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Jesus at times used shock therapy to bring people to attention. A passage in Mathew five is an excellent example when he says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you: for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Mathew 5:29-30).

Jesus is not advocating bodily dismemberment any more than he was advocating cannibalism in John six. His words make it clear that separating ourselves from temptation can be painful. He had just told his listeners “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his hears.” Immediately following his comments on adultery of the heart he addresses divorce and remarriage. The body dismemberment passage is sandwiched between these two warnings. Therefore I believe they are one and the same point.

Jesus’ words acknowledge that we may have become extremely attached to a temptation, in this case a person who is not our spouse. No matter how difficult it is the relationship between us and the other person must be cut off. It may feel like our arm is severed or our eye plucked out, but it is worth our eternal salvation to cut out of our lives that which has the ability to dam us to hell.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Greater Control

Jesus told us that he did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. Not only did he not come to destroy the law, but his teachings are stricter than the Law. In the Law given to Moses, if a man committed adultery he and the woman were killed (Deuteronomy 20:10). However, Jesus said “Whoever, looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mathew 5:27).

The Grace God extends to us through his son does not come with a license to sin. It comes to free us from the bondage of sin. We are granted, not only the power to resist sin, but also the strength to control our thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Thursday, March 25, 2010


We are never more frustrated with other people than when we are frustrated with ourselves. We think, “Even I know not to do thus and so.” We see our own faults and lament over them, so that when someone else does something we are convinced we would never do, we are disgusted with the other person and judge them harshly. That is when we are most likely to refer to them as fools.

Jesus made it clear that we have no right to place that kind of judgment on anyone (Mathew 5:21-22). He says our hearts have become murderous toward others when we display such animosity. We have set ourselves up as judge and jury and in that attitude bring our gifts to God at his altar. But God rejects such gifts, telling us, “if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has ought against you, leave your gift before the alter and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift.” (Mathew 5:23-24).

Admitting our faults and weaknesses is not the problem. The problem is in our disgust toward ourselves instead of repentance toward God. Gratefully accepting God’s grace and mercy will result in my extending grace and mercy to others. But bearing my own sin will always result in my condemning others.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Verbal Attacks

When someone verbally attacks us, our tendency is to lash back. If we do we have just escalated the situation. The attacker has now got to push harder to win the argument and will most likely increase the attack. We have just initiated a cycle of attack and counter attack.

Jesus taught this lesson in Mathew 5:25-26. “Agree with you adversary quickly while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly I say to you, you will by no means get out of there until you have paid the last penny.”

However,keeping our voice calm can help deescalate a situation. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Getting It Backwards

Jesus tells the crowd of people that surrounded him, “I came not to destroy the law but to fulfill the law.” He then admonishes them, “I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot of one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called last in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:17-19).

Why then don’t we make animal sacrifices and teach everyone else to do the same? We don’t because Jesus was the final and perfect sacrifice. The animal sacrifice never could take away sin. They were only meant as a picture of the coming sacrifice, the Lamb of God (Hebrews 10:1-4).

The scribes and Pharisees crossed every “T” and dotted every eye of the law. Why then did Jesus say to the crowds “For unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven”? Didn’t he just say people should keep the commandment? Wasn’t that what made the Scribes and Pharisees righteous?

Yes, and that is the point. They were counting on their own righteous acts to save them and it is impossible to be saved by righteous acts. Good works never produces righteousness. Salvation comes first, God making us righteous and in turn produces good works.

The law was never meant to produce righteousness. Our righteousness is in Christ alone (Romans 1:17, 4:3; 1 Cor 1:30-31, Gal 2:21, Heb 11:7).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Abolishing the Law

Many of the religious leaders often accused Jesus of breaking the law, but he made it clear that he did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. How did Jesus fulfill the law?

Some might say he fulfilled it because he continually worshiped in the synagogues (Mt 12:9, 13:5; Mk 1:21, 6:2; Jn 6:59). Or they may point to his celebration of the religious festivals (Lk 2:41, 22:1; Jn 2:23). Though these things are true, he was not referring to these actions. He was referring to the fact that he embodied the fulfillment of the law. He was the lamb that would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Two Lights

There are basically two kinds of messengers of the gospel, those who are very visible and those who are not. The visible messengers include evangelists, preachers, teachers and street witnesses. Those who are not so visible include faithful workers, family members and friendly individuals. Jesus calls the first group lights set on a hill. He calls the second group lights in the home.

Both are given the instruction to carry the Lord's message verbally and with good works. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mathew 5:14-16). Good works is not enough. People from all religions or who are not religious at all do good works. It is the marriage of good works and the message of salvation that points to Christ. One without the other is fruitless.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rock Salt

There are at least three main reasons for salt. The main purpose for salt is the preservation of life. Every living animal needs salt, including humans. The second is to flavor food and third is to preserve food. Jesus refers to the second function in his sermon on the mountain. “If the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it e seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Mathew 5:13).

He said that we are the salt of the earth. The message God has given us brings life to those who receive him. We have been granted the privilege of carrying that salt message to the world. If we compromise the truth, our salt has lost its flavor. It is made as nothing and might as well be thrown out and used as gravel.

Without abiding in Christ that is exactly what we will become, gravel, for the mere fact that we no longer carry his salt. We are made of dirt and anything that is based on ourselves is dispensable. That is why we are under pressure to agree with the world. If we agree with them, they won’t have to pay attention to what we say. Our words would be empty pieces of gravel for which to line their driveways.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Barbed Words

“"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 (Mathew 5:11-12).

If we have never suffered this kind of harassment, we may skim over the words rushing on to some other truth that applies to us. But if a family member ridicules our belief in Christ the words suddenly come alive. Every sharp word is like a barb in our emotions. We want to be accepted, love and respected by those we have shared life with, and when they demean our thinking processes it cuts deeply into our relationship.

Jesus warned us that his coming would divide families (Luke 12:51-53). It is easy to read those words but far more difficult to live through them.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dishonest Questions

Have you ever had someone ask you a question that you instinctively knew was meant to entrap you? The religious leaders of Jesus' time continualy asked him questions to trap him (Mathew 22:15). Jesus always saw through their disquise of innocents and answered in like fashion.

But to those who honeslty sought him, he gave distinctive clear answers (Mathew 13:34-37). He told the people listening to his sermon on the mountian, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God" (Mathew 5:8).

God always responds to a honest seeking heart because he created that desire in the person. We would not want to know the answer unless God placed that desire in us. Therefore we can be assured he will answer us and we will see God.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Throwing Stones

Absalom attempted to have his father killed and to take over his kingdom. His father, King David, had to flee the city and hide out in caves like he did when the previous King, Saul, sought to murder him. But this time it was his son who wanted him dead.

A man named Shimei, from David’s tribe, came out and threw rocks at David, cursing and spiting at him. The men with the king wanted to kill the man on the spot. But David was not sure that God might actually be giving the kingdom over to Absalom. So David responded, “"Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, "Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day." So David and his men went on the way; and Shimei went along on the hillside parallel with him and as he went he cursed, and cast stones and threw dust at him. 14 And the king and all the people who were with him arrived weary…” (2 Samuel 16:11-14).

David could have hand him killed but he showed mercy. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Mathew 5:7). We receive mercy when God does not punish us as we deserve to be punished. Should not we also show mercy to those who do not deserve it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Are You Hungry Yet?

One of the great promises in the Bible is found in the forth principle of the Beatitudes. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Mathew 5:6). It tells us that God will meet with us and fill our lives. How wonderful to know we can call on God at any moment, in every circumstance, and he will be there to direct our choices, to comfort us, and to rescue us.

Who is completely righteous? God himself.

Therefore to hunger for righteousness is to hunger for God. To be filled with righteousness is to be filled with God. Indeed, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

There will be no new postings until March 9th

I must go to a training conference for my work so will not be posting until March 9th