Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014 Matthew 7:28-29

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law. (Matthew 7:28, 29 NLT)

How sweet would it be to have had the privilege of being one of those gathered there that day on the mountain? Sitting at the feet of our Lord, the warm Mediterranean sunshine on my back as I heard the very voice of God spoken by the One who was with him from before time. Perhaps His gaze would have caught my own eye, or His hand glanced lovingly along my arm as He passed. To His listeners at that time His teaching would have been revolutionary. The truth of His words and the authority behind them would have overwhelmed, especially compared to the nit picking,hair splitting teaching they had been receiving from the pharisees. I don't expect an experience like that this side of heaven. BUT by the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, dwelling in the mortal bodies of all true believers, we can experience His presence here and now and be led and instructed in all truth as we study His word, lovingly recorded for us in the Bible. Furthermore, as we gather with others in His name, He has promised to be right there with us wherever we may be. We know All God's promises are true.So as He laid down His life for us on that Good Friday so long ago, let us die to the ways of our time and offer ourselves afresh to Him each day as we worship Him, study His word, and serve His children here on earth. HALLELUJAH! Let's go serve Him.NOW!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thursday April 17, Matthew 7:24-27

”Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had it’s foundation on the rock.
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

Trust the Lord more, worry less and get more accomplished.

It seems that many people, myself included, live by the rule “God helps those who help themselves.” 
We feel we need to work long hours, in stressful jobs, to make enough income to support a lifestyle that we feel our family deserves – a beautiful, comfortable home, with all the modern conveniences, in a pretty neighborhood.  Activities, sports, hobbies, etc.
Or, maybe there is a situation that we can’t help meddling in – our grown children need our support and guidance so they don’t makes mistakes or get hurt and become discouraged.
If our outlook on life is based upon the solid rock of God’s love and protection, maybe we can afford to downsize instead of continually upgrading to something that appears to be bigger and better.
If we trust that God already has a plan for things to work out for the good, then we may prayerfully consider the situation before trying to take charge and force things to go the way we feel is best.

TRUST by Susan L. Lenzkes
Stoop shouldered, foot dragging, sighing resignation is not trust.
Real trust bounces on eager toes of anticipation – laughs with pure delight of knowing in whom it believes –
Rests easy knowing on whom it waits.
Lord, so wrap me in the knowledge of You, that my trust is no longer in You, but is You.

Terry Ryan

Wednesday April 16, 2014 Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  Matthew 7:21-23

When is the last time you changed your mind politically in response to someone giving you an alternative viewpoint?   That’s not a frequent occurrence for most of us and it becomes much less likely the nearer and dearer the issue is to our hearts.  We are people vested in thinking our understanding is correct.  We get it.   Understanding makes us feel safer and more comfortable.  For some of us, it makes us feel superior to those who “don’t get it”.
 Few issues are as near and dear to our hearts as faith.  Most of us desperately want to “get it”.  Problem is, like politics, once we “get it”, we tend to rest in our “secure” knowledge and perhaps even get hardened in our own understanding or way of doing things.  Jesus fully understood this human characteristic and that’s why he speaks so boldly to believers in Matthew 7.  He intends to get our attention by challenging the very things we tend not to challenge in ourselves.
Even in these postmodern times, Jesus has more fans than every sports team in America.  But Jesus doesn’t need or want fans.  He wants followers.  It’s possible to have a great moral performance, attend weekly Bible Study, sing praise songs on Sunday with your hands raised high,  listen to Christian radio, go on mission trips, and do everything imaginable in the parallel Christian sub-culture and still miss Jesus as Savior and Lord.  How can that be?  It goes to our underlying motivations.  Are we following Jesus for our own sake--what’s in it for us?  That’s what fans do--they consume experiences.  Or are we following Jesus for His sake-- doing things his way; serving for his glory because we’ve been changed on the inside; loving those he loves;  obeying because we stand in awe of what He did for us on the cross; repenting of sin and self-righteousness? That’s what followers do--they build His Kingdom.
“I never knew you.”  What’s your relationship with Jesus like? Do you know him through his word?  Do you allow him to know you because you’ve given him your heart, time, talents, and resources for his purposes and glory?  It’s impossible to know someone whose motivation is “what’s in it for me?”.  In Jesus’ case, “getting it” is best explained in Matthew 16:24-26a:  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? --Linda Wajda

“Day by day, dear Lord, of thee three things I pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.”   Richard, Bishop of Chichester, 1253

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday April 15, 2014 Matthew 7:15-20

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-20

This has always been a difficult passage for me.  The story is pretty straightforward, but my experiences get in the way.  I grew up on a farm.  My undergraduate degree is in horticulture: growing plants for food and beauty, as well as many other uses.  My major professor in graduate school was an internationally acclaimed plant breeder.  For thousands of years, people have been intentionally developing new varieties of plants through rather simple plant breeding methods, well before the last few decades of genetic engineering.

Truth be known, most of the products of plant breeding that come out of the initial cross breeding methods will produce many fold more unimproved or even inferior fruits.  Plant breeders employ many hours of selection at each generation, until they are satisfied with the variety.  

Looking at a fruit, it is not always evident whether it is going to be good or not for a particular usage.  It is hard to recognize a True improvement in a plant.

False prophets can be just as difficult to recognize.  People can be tricky!

During the Great Depression, a man named Al ran a soup kitchen in Chicago.  Many people were without jobs, and his soup kitchen provided a lot of meals.  Al did not even take any donations or money from the government.  That was really a great thing to do, right?  Literally, a point of light in the darkness.

You may not know about Al.  Al made a lot of money during the depression.  He worked hard to become one of the most violent mob bosses in the country, responsible for ordering scores of his perceived enemies killed.  Al Capone really bore bad fruit.

In the case of human prophets, you need to be sure to get a full assessment of what they are telling you.  If they quote Scripture, you need to investigate.  You need the council of others.

Work with a friend to evaluate your findings using the Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.   Use all of these tools to be better able to live a holy life.

Lord, keep me open to your love.  Keep me open to opportunities to follow you.  Lord, keep me open to question what I am told, so that I may walk closer to your steps.  Lord, keep me humble, keep me always learning, keep me always praying, until we are together in heaven.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday April 14, 2014 Matthew 7:13-14

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. Matthew 7:13-14(NLT)

This passage tells us that the road to heaven is very narrow and that few ever find it, and therefore few get to heaven.  This may surprise some Christians, and should be received as a word of caution. It also says the road to heaven is difficult.  It is speaking of how difficult it is to consistently follow God’s commands in everyday life.
The bible teaches that those that believe in Jesus will get to heaven. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, John 11:25  Some hold onto this promise and believe all they need to do is profess their faith in Jesus and they are home free.  This is a huge misconception because salvation is not that simple.  The Bible also teaches that we must GIVE our lives to Jesus and obey God’s commandments to get to heaven.   And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17
Another translation of Matthew 7:13-14 goes like this: “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. (The Message)  It cautions us that the road to life requires our total attention and is NOT easy.  
Consider Ephesians 2:8-9; For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Our salvation is a gift from God made possible by Jesus’ atonement for our sins, and not of any works of our own.  However, in order to truly accept Jesus as our Savior we must fully give our lives to His purpose, and follow His ways.  For more teachings on this see Luke 8:21, John 15:13-14, John 14:15-17a, Romans 8:1-39
If we profess our belief in Jesus but fail to live our lives the way He taught us to, we will not receive entry into heaven. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Hanging around with other Christians and going through the motions does NOT make you a true Jesus follower.  He knows your heart and how much you love Him.  Our intentions should be for His purposes.  Only those who truly follow Jesus will gain entry to heaven.
Luckily, there is hope for all.  Eternal life is free and available to everyone who turns from sin, accepts Jesus as savior, and follows His commands.  All can be washed clean and receive eternal life in heaven!
In closing, I would like to think that, upon dying, ALL people are given the chance to accept Jesus and gain entry to heaven.  The fact is, such details as these are not for us to know.  We can only base our knowledge on what God tells us in the bible.  Based on His word, the road to heaven is difficult and narrow, and few will ever find it. However, if you give your life to Jesus and live for His will, you should be among the few who do!
--Kelly Supek
Other scripture verses that teach of receiving eternal life are: Luke 6:46-49, Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 19:23-24, Matthew 10:17-22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Matthew 5:20

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday April 11, 2014 Matthew 7:7-12

Ask, Seek, Knock

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
How encouraging!  I know I have felt many times that my prayer requests might be too trivial, or not worth asking the Lord for.  I am sure many of us have prayed for healing, answers, resolutions, etc., that we feel may have never been granted.  This passage is very encouraging, though, because it points to the AUTHORITY we have in Jesus Christ.  Authority that we can claim His power as we pray because "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." (1 John 5:14). 
Of course, the answer to our prayers might not always come in the way and manner we may want, but we are encouraged by this passage to be persistent in asking!  The New Living Translation says, "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."  Keep persisting in your prayers! 
And as a fallen, imperfect parent myself, how comforting and humbling it is to be compared to the perfect Father, our Lord.  For if I, in my brokenness, frustration, emptiness, and exhaustion can continue to feed my own children with "bread" and "fish", how amazing to think that our Father would so graciously want to continue to feed ME and pour out His "good gifts" on ME when I ask.  As we continue to Ask, Seek, and Knock, let us pray that God would reveal His will for each of our heart's desires, as we seek to mold our hearts after His and to stand in the authority we have been given in Christ Jesus!  "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" ((Jeremiah 29:13).
Jennifer Mosier

Thursday April 10, 2014 Matthew 7:1-6

1“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 6“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Matthew 7:1-6 NKJV)l

What makes this passage tricky is the fact that the word judgement has two main meanings. One is to discern, or seek the truth of something while the other is to  pass sentence on or condemn. The Greek word used here also has the double meaning of discernment and condemnation. This passage is often tossed out to imply that it is wrong to judge anyone's actions. I don't believe that was the intention at all. While it would be easy to take this passage to mean simply that we are never to judge anyone but ourselves, the seeming odd admonition of verse 6 lets us know that while we are not to cast judgement, we are indeed called to use judgement and encourage each other in our journey toward spiritual maturity.

I believe that what Jesus is addressing here is the fact that in our natural human state, it is far easier to see another person's sin, or weakness, however small (a mere speck) than our own. Why? Well, perhaps the main wage of sin is that by it's very nature it separates us from God and thus from righteousness. If we are not striving to remove sin from our own life (a plank) we cannot expect to hear clearly from God. Thus we cannot expect to execute  good judgement (see clearly) in matters pertaining to others. Verse 5 tells us to FIRST remove the plank from our own eye,THEN, seeing clearly, to remove the speck from our brother's eye. In both cases the sin is to be removed, not left to fester and grow causing further separation from God. The goal for both self and brother is healing and restoration, not staying in the same place of sin and separation. Clearly though, before dealing with others we are to deal with ourselves. Jesus never wants to lose anyone in a place of sin, indeed he died to prevent that. I am reminded of the story of the adulterous woman in John 8 where Jesus tells the crowd "Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone." After the accusers are gone, however, and assuring the woman that he also does not condemn her, he admonishes her to "go and sin no more". He does not excuse her behavior nor leave her in a place of sin. Rather,he asks her to repent of it so she can move forward. He speaks the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and we are called to do the same, but not before examining ourselves, repenting of our own sin,  and using righteous judgement. Verse2 tells us that the judgement we use will be used on us, and in the same measure, so it behooves us to be sure we are judging rightly, or not at all as verse 1 suggests.

Finally, we come to verse 6 which at first glance might seem not to be part of this  section. Dogs and pigs, in the culture of the time were both considered unclean, and thus unholy creatures. So to give what is holy to an unholy creature like a dog would make no more sense than to put pearls on a pig. Indeed given the nature of both creatures, one could expect to be trampled or torn to pieces for dealing with them. I believe Jesus is telling us here that we are to also use good judgement to discern where our efforts should be applied, in order not to waste precious resources.
--Tracy Moore

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday April 9, 2014 Matthew 6:25-34

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34 NKJV)
Jesus is telling us that too often, we get caught up in the cares of this world and allow ourselves to forget that God not only is going to provide for our needs, but He wants us to open our hearts to be receptive to the Blessings He wants us to have- We often look at difficult situations, and feel there is no solution, and expect the worst- When we put those concerns into His Hands, we may not get the results we're looking for at that time, but God knows that what He is providing us is what is best for what we need- It is a matter of building our Trust in His Promises, and to know that what we're actually doing is building a greater reliance on Him- That will bring us through every situation we face on this Earth, maybe not what we want, but what coincides w/ His Will- And when that Trust is built, and our Faith increases, down the road, we have Blessings awaiting us that we can't begin to imagine- Jesus is saying that God provides a way for even the birds of the air to have the provisions they need, and they don't have a way to honor Him- But, as His Children, we have every opportunity to bring him Honor and Glory- The birds of the air get His Blessings, why shouldn't those who have the chance to Honor Him every day of their lives ??--John Cochran

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday April 8, 2014 Matthew 6:24

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24

The King James translation of this verse uses the word “mammon”, more recent translations use “money” or “wealth”.  Mammon isn’t capitalized, but may have been the actual name of a god of riches. In any case, Jesus’ hearers would have associated the word with riches.

Even though we often hear 1 Timothy 6:10, quoted as “money is the root of all evil”, it really says “the love of money is the root of all evil.”   There’s nothing inherently wrong with wealth. Even John Wesley said “Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can”. There is something wrong about making it your goal. John Wesley also said that if he died worth more than ten pounds, people could rightfully call him a thief and a robber.

I don’t know if Jesus is speaking specifically about money, or of whatever might be separating us from the one true God, any of the “shiny gods” like those we discussed this past fall in the stewardship campaign. But he is sending a clear message: choose your priority, make up your mind, follow the true path. This goes beyond putting God first. It’s putting God “only”. Because the danger is not just wrong priorities. The danger is that if we choose the wrong “master” we aren’t putting God in second place, but in last place.   --Marilyn McCarter

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday April 7, 2014 Matthew 6:22,23

Matthew 6:22, 23 NASB)
"The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!


God gave us eyes to see, to show and to reflect.
The first glance into the soul of a person is the eyes. Eyes reflect and transcend the words or lack thereof and communicate the conscious mind, the attitude or even the state of the spirit of a person. Eyes can help discern the light and darkness of the situation or a person. The Holy Spirit is able to be our eyes and it is up to us to yield our eyes to Him for His purpose and will. 
The more I yield to the Light and die to myself, brighter the Light shines through my eyes. The sooner I confess my sin, my weakness to desire earthly wealth, my failures, my troubles, my concerns in this world, the sooner my eye sight (of my spirit) is restored and healed. His Word enables my eyes to see from His perspective. 

There is abundance in Jesus. God is rich, and when God gives, He gives plentifully just as there were twelve baskets left over. But it started with a simple obedience to yielding and giving all the disciples found in His followers. As soon as Jesus lifted the basket and gave thanks, it kept coming! I may have little to offer as far as wealth compared to those who are wealthy here on earth, but whatever I give whole-heartedly with thanksgiving, He honors and He multiplies. Sarah was barren, so was Hannah, but as they believed in God's promise, they received the ability to conceive. Simon was tired and exhausted from trying to catch fish, but when Jesus spoke to him and led him out to the place where Jesus said to go, Simon caught fish in the presence of Jesus in the boat more than he can handle to the point the net would tear!  He witnessed the power of the Word of Jesus in abundance. Then he followed Jesus to catch men (Luke 5:4-10).

I must turn my eyes to see Jesus, and wherever He chooses, to be His instrument and reflection of the Light and show that He is alive! He supplies us with everything we need, and He is able to do immeasurably more than we can imagine or ask for according to His riches of Glory. He rewards those who believe and seek Him.

  Ephesians 1:18 NASB
 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope       of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
 Ephesians 3:16 NASB
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.
Colossians 1:27 NASB
to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Kathy Carpentier

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday April 4, 2014 Matthew 6:19-21

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

This passage immediately brought me back to a truth that the Lord showed me several years ago.  We are part of a royal priesthood, and priests of the Lord.  One of the responsibilities priests had in the old testament was to place a value on what was brought to the temple, in offering.  As priests in God’s kingdom today, and His channel of love and truth to the world, each of us has the ability - and responsibility - to assign value to things.  We have responsibility to place high value on eternal things (mercy, justice, forgiveness, surrender, love, compassion) – and low value on worldly things (accumulating wealth, material possessions, status, title, reputation).  When we as priests assign high value to worldly things, we abdicate this very important role of reminding our own hearts of what matters to God. When we have things in their proper place – i.e. how God values them – we are a witness to our own family and our communities.  We are also then at peace in our own heart and soul– how many of us have experienced anxiety or lack of hope, only to realize that we have been caught up in the values of the world, instead of focusing on spiritual living.  In this passage, Matthew encourages us to gather, heap and store up – living from day to day in ways that increase our ability to focus on Kingdom principles and values.  Interestingly, the “thieves” in these verses are translated from the Greek to mean “embezzler, or pilferer”, and it was a name used for false teachers.  God is admonishing us to be aware of how easily our minds can be “instructed” by worldly influences – and before you know it, these “false teachers” have stolen the nourishment and refreshing of our souls.  Laying up – valuing – what God says is of eternal value is firstly an act of the mind.  In obedience, often in the face of opposition of what the world says is the right way, we choose to value things like the beatitudes – poverty of spirit, purity of heart, meekness, and the others – even when this goes contrary to our emotions, or what we would like to do. It is first an act of the mind, but God promises us that as we lay up this treasures in heaven, our hearts will follow.  The heart is defined in this passage as the centre of all physical and spiritual life; the understanding, will and character, and the inmost part of everything. That is very good news.  Dear fellow priest, what will we place value on today?
--Angie Kays-Burden

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday April 3,2014 Matthew 6:16-18

Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, who go about with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:16-18 )

Once again, Jesus reminds us that everything we do to impress other people or gain their favor amounts to nothing more than that fleeting reward...the favor of people. We all know how quickly such favor can disappear. I have been reading a book titled "When People are Big and God is Small" . It deals with just this topic: focusing on pleasing people at the expense of pleasing God. So these verses tell me if my motivation is to please or impress people rather than to love them or to please God because I love GOD, my reward amounts to nothing. Do the circumstances of our lives ever lead us to wonder if our sacrifices for The Lord are even noticed? Does God see us? Well if we truly are doing it for God and God alone the answer clearly given here is YES! Not only does He see but He will reward us openly. But our motivation is key. For The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but The Lord looks at the heart. -- 1 Samuel 16:7. Our sacrifices must be made for our LOVE of God, not for expectation of reward from either heaven or earth. Ironically, when our motivation is pure, out of love rather than expectation, THEN, we will receive our reward from God  which will far exceed any we might have expected. --Tracy Moore.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wednesday April 2, 2014 Matthew 6:9-15

This then is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:9-15)

FORGIVE! The Lord could not be much clearer on what is expected of us. For me personally, Matthew 6:14-15 are some of the most convicting and downright scary verses in the whole Bible. WOW...if I don't forgive others God will not forgive me? If you believe in the truth of the Bible as God's word, and I do, there is no getting around this mandate. FORGIVE! I confess before you all: I have issues with forgiveness. It takes a lot to get me to that place of needing to forgive (thank goodness!) but once I do it does not come easy for me. In fact, of my own power I would say impossible. Then I think on these verses and know what is necessary and fully understand that for me, it is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit in me. But even then it is a long hard work. I do know though, that if I do the work God is faithful and will lead me (perhaps kicking and screaming) where I need to go. In fact it happened just this morning for me once again when the Lord led me to these verses during my study time: And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony stubborn heart and give you a tender responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Thank You Jesus for Your amazing example of forgiveness! Help me when I stubbornly refuse to forgive such smaller things, to remember Your way and the mandate of these verses. AMEN!

Friends I have a challenge for everyone today. Let's take these beloved words of the Lord's prayer and put them in our own words and post them in the comments. I did that exercise once in a workshop and it was so meaningful to stop and actually think about the words we say so often they can become rote and mindless. It breathed new life into them for me.--Tracy Moore

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tuesday April 1, 2014 Matthew 6:5-8

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners [a]so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.   Matthew 6:5-8  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Monday March 31, 2014 Matthew 6:1-4

Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."--Matthew 6:1-4.  

Keep it real.  Here, Jesus tells his audience to act from a place of authentic faith.  It is convicting.  It makes me evaluate my supposedly pious motivations and actions.  When I say the Lord's Prayer at service on Sunday, do I really mean what I am saying?  Do I really want God's Kingdom to come on earth, or am I happy with the undisturbed status quo?  When I volunteer at the soup kitchen, am I doing it in a spirit called for by Jesus?  Do I have authentic love for the smelly homeless guy I interact with there, or am I just making a good show of it, because other people are watching me?  Do I really love God with all my heart, and my neighbor as myself?  Jesus challenges us to keep it real. 

-- Nikki Edelman

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday March 28, 2014 Matthew 5:43-48

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 NLT)
So, as Christians we care called  to strive to  be more like Christ in our daily lives (hence where we are called to be "perfect" in verse 48, being "perfect" means to me to aspire to be as Christlike as possible while we are here on earth.  To be "perfect" is achieved through our spiritual growth and maturity, and "perfect" in love, seeking to love others as completely as God loves us.) - we are called to rise above the status quo and live out our days as living and breathing examples of Christ, in all areas of our lives & with all people that we encounter. Part of our growing spiritual maturity and spiritual growth  is to give up our natural selfishness (our ego's) and commit our thinking and actions to that of a Christ like spirit. This is clearly asked of us all here in verse 44 where Jesus states for us to "Love your enemies & pray for those who persecute you." Is this an easy task? Absolutely not, but through prayer and trust in our Lord, we can know that even though we may not feel love for that person we can show love to them through the working of the Holy Spirit through us.
 --Kristine Melius

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thursday March 26, 2014 Matthew 5:38-42

“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 anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42 NIV)

We live in a culture that values self-preservation over self-sacrifice.  After all, what could we gain by giving our body, mind or heart for others?  When faced with going the extra mile for someone else, my deepest fear is what if my legs break down?  Wouldn't that be a burden on myself and on my walking companion?

Jesus wants us to focus on our walking companion.  In the words of the hymn, this is a real opportunity to "trust and obey."  By asking to go one mile with us, our companion offers us a golden opportunity.  Jesus lives in the sharing of a handshake, a hug, a listening ear or even eye contact.  He is the golden opportunity in our lives right now.  By being helped, we can be a help.  
--Tim Getz

Wednesday March 26, 2014. Matthew 5:33-37

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."

I take this to mean to be true to your word and steadfast in your devotion to God.

"But I tell you, do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by 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 be No; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

God already knows your true intentions; If you prayerfully consider your actions and decisions before going ahead with them, you don't always  need to go into long explanations or qualify yourself to other people.  If you are being honest, there is no need to embellish the truth. In other words, "Say what you mean and mean what you say"! 
--Terry Ryan

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday March 25, 2014 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 sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31, 32 NIV)
As I sit to write a reflection on this passage I ask myself "what was I thinking to give myself THIS  passage?" Quite honestly I was thinking I wouldn't wish it on anyone and I was accurate in my assessment. As a person who has been divorced, I have struggled with this passage long before now. The fact is, the Bible is full of teaching that our modern minds (as well as the minds of Jesus' contemporaries) wish to reject, or at least soften to make more palatable. Surely, this is one for many of us. Yet, I believe and scripture states All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NLT) . We must be careful to examine what we find realizing that God's goal for us is to teach us to do what is right in His eyes, and God's ways are perfect. Our ways? Not so much. Hence the need for instruction.

At the time Jesus was speaking, there were two main schools of thought about divorce among the Jewish people. Interpretations were based on the assumption found in Deuteronomy 24 that a man could divorce his wife if she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, The followers of Rabbi Shammai held that only if a man married a woman and discovered she was not a virgin, or if he discovered her to be unfaithful could he divorce her. Followers of Rabbi Hillel took a much broader view of indecent to mean pretty much anything from cooking a meal her husband was dissatisfied with to being less beautiful than another woman. It seems to me, the followers of Hilell,were not much different from where we stand today, where divorce is sanctioned for any reason, great or small, or indeed no reason (fault) at all. The consequences of divorce for a woman in Jesus' day were truly dire, unto life threatening. Against this backdrop, Jesus sought to teach a "more excellent way".

Jesus reminds his listeners of the purpose of marriage as instituted by God that the two shall become one flesh, therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. (Mark 10:8-9). As always, Jesus reminds his listeners of God's original, perfect intent.
“For I hate divorce!” says the lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty, ” says the lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” (Malachi 2:15, 16 NLT). Later in Matthew, Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful. ” (Matthew 19:8, 9 NLT)

Jesus' audience in His own time had wandered far from God's intent. We are no different today. In this passage, The Lord sought remind us of God's way which is perfect and unmutable; never changing, regardless of how we decide to live our lives, then as now. And yet His love for us is so great that he gave His own life in the most sacrificial way that we could be redeemed and restored to relationship with that perfect, holy God, despite ANY actions on our part, if we but believe in Jesus as our savior, and claim the promise.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday March 24, 2014 Matthew 5:27-30

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

We live in a sex-saturated culture.  Sex is everywhere.  For those drawn to it, it’s no longer necessary to go to the seedy part of town for peep shows or ask clerks for the brown paper covered magazines behind the counter.   Voyeuristic thrills can be had in the privacy of one’s own home without the risk being seen by friends, family members, or neighbors.  All of the societal barriers that may have deterred earlier generations from viewing pornography no longer exist.   The challenge is no longer how to discreetly find pornography.  It’s how to keep away from unwanted porn. The rules of the game have forever changed. Consequently, the average age of first exposure to porn is now 8—for boys and girls.
This week’s news brought us reports of Twitter feeds from Long Island teens “tweeting” naked, drunken “selfie” photos.  Sexting is common.  Friends now can be “friends with benefits”.   The web site Ashley Madison reminds those already married that “Life is short. Have an affair.”  Miley Cyrus brought “twerking” into our national conversation.   A Duke Freshman is enjoying the admiration of many for telling us how she’s funding her Duke education by making porno movies.  The freight train of human sexual expression is roaring ahead to previously unknown destinations.
The common denominator at the root of all of these behaviors is lust.   Lust is the intense, uncontrolled desire that distorts God’s beautiful design for human sexuality and corrupts sex into an idol.  No wonder Jesus uses vivid and extreme language to teach us about lust.   Jesus is teaching us that our thought life, attitudes, and motives regarding our sexuality matter a lot. Marriage isn’t just a matter of physical faithfulness alone. That’s religious legalism.  Faithfulness in marriage includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul.
Later in Matthew chapter 19, when answering the Pharisees on a question of divorce, Jesus says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”     Lust separates us not only from God and our spouse, it separate us from ourselves because it creates a double-minded person—outwardly moral or faithful and inwardly obsessed with self-gratification and using people as sexual objects; detached from the relational/sacrificial bond of intimate marriage. The Son of Man didn’t come to use people.  He came to serve them, just as we are called to serve them.  Lust makes us selfish and destroys the very shalom God intends to create-- completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.   No wonder Jesus warns us so strongly. --Linda Wajda

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday March 21, 2014 Matthew 5:21-26

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.


Murder is the most violent crime against a person.  How can you be reconciled before you can go to God with your offering?Matthew 5 is some very tough teaching!  Throughout the Bible it is clear that there is only one penalty for murder: death!

Deuteronomy 5:17 “You shall not murder.”

Exodus 21:12 “Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death.”

Romans 13:9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

But society today is not as draconian as most of the Bible instructs.  Society is actually moving a little bit closer to the beatitudes!

How many murderers do you know?  I know dozens of murderers!Obviously, they were not put to death!  Sometimes, in New York State, murderers are even released from prison.  Why some, and not others?  Believe it or not, it frequently has to do with a matter of luck.  Some District Attorneys are vengeful.  They do all in their power to see that a killer is never released from prison, no matter how many times the prisoner comes before the parole board. Sometimes the DA is encouraged to “lock them up and throw away the key,” because the victim’s family is still vengeful. Some other inmates can find forgiveness from the parole board.  There is no easy rhyme or reason that can predict the outcome. In my four years that I taught college-level courses at Mid-Orange Correctional Facility, in Warwick, I met some men who managed to work the system to their benefit, getting released when many of the other inmates felt that they were at a high risk of repeating.  They “Conned” the board, and were released.  Lest violent murderers felt betrayed by the system that awarded showmanship. Even in the time of Matthew, justice was not necessarily meted out fairly and honestly.

No matter what your crime, you need to try to settle matters with your adversary taking you to court.  Is it possible to forgive murder? It sounds impossible, but the school massacre of four children (before committing suicide) in an Amish school in Pennsylvania in 2006 resulted in healing with the attacker, rather than vengeance.  This is exactly the performance called for in Matthew. First, we need to be reconciled. This is a hard teaching.  It goes against our human instincts of vengeance! But I do think it is what following Christ means.  Settle things.  The Amish met with the attacker’s family, brought food, and prayed with them.  Some Amish even attended the attacker’s funeral!  What a testimony to Christ’s hard teaching for us.

I pray that we will find ways to reconcile when we have been harmed, even to the point of murder.   It goes against much of our teaching.  But Christ is truly radical!  He not only calls us to reconciliation, but he will help us to achieve it.  The only way we could ever approach that ideal is to call on Christ. We cannot do it alone!
--Henry McCarter

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursday March 20, 2014 Matthew 5:17-20

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. 18 For truly I tell you, 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. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly 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. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. NIV Matthew 5:17-20
Jesus did not come to challenge God’s laws, but to fulfill them.   He took numerous opportunities to explain this during His time on earth, and sums it up in Luke,  Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:25-27

God’s core message for his people has always been consistent. Jesus describes it this way; “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself0 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40.  Jesus’ life perfectly embodied this.  Because of our own sinful nature we, God’s people, continue to struggle with this.  Jesus’ life was an example for us to follow.  How closely we abide by God’s law during our lifetime will determine how great our reward is in heaven.  The amount of effort we put forth here on earth will determine our roll in eternity.  How wonderful and amazing for us that just a short lifetime of faith, obedience and submission will lead us to an ETERNITY of joy!
The Pharisees were known to practice hypocritical legalism. They interpreted and altered God’s laws for their own benefit, claiming to follow the laws externally to gain favor with God, while breaking them inwardly with selfish intent. Jesus cautioned against this.  One must be righteous, as well as believe that Jesus is the son of God, to get into heaven.  Righteousness is not earned by works, but comes about by following Jesus with pure intent and a good heart.  We must be very careful not to alter and interpret God’s laws for our own benefit.  EVERYTHING we do should  be for the glory of God!  --Kelly Supek

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wednesday March 19, 2014 Matthew 5:13-16

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 underfoot.  14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. --
Matthew 5:13-16  (NIV)

What does it mean for us to be the salt and light of the world?  Since this passage immediately follows the beatitudes, it seems clear that we are salt and light in our blessedness. That is, we are salt and light when we are poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering after righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peace-making, and being persecuted for Jesus' sake. When we live in our poverty of spirit, we point to the truth that we were created to find our real comfort and peace in God.  I think it is also important to note that this Scripture passage is telling us what we ARE.  It does not tell us what we should do or strive to be.  It says, as followers of Christ, that we already are the salt and light.  God has chosen us, and we can find strength and comfort in this statement of identity.

What does it mean, then, to be "salt"?  There were a number of Old Testament uses for salt.  It was used for seasoning, preservation, and purifying.  It was also used to ratify covenants and in liturgical functions.  To eat salt with someone signified a bond of friendship and loyalty.  I believe that Jesus is telling us that in following the beatitudes, we can help be a purifying agent in the world around us.  Through our friendships and bonds, God wants to use us to transform others' hearts and lives.  But to the glory and honor of God!  Salt shouldn't call attention to itself in a well-seasoned dish, it should merely enhance the flavors and make the overall dish so much more delicious.  And if the salt loses its flavor, it must be discarded, so that it may begin again as a new life in Christ.

To be "light", I believe, is to participate in the true identity and essence of who Christ is. "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12).  Jesus is calling us to shine His light into the darkness of this world, to be a ray of hope and peace amidst darkness and destruction.  He is calling us to live a life before men that bears witness to our blessedness in Christ and that, ultimately, glorifies our Father in heaven.

We were made to be salt and light for the glory of God.  We were given the beatitudes for the glory of God. When we live in obedience to what God has commanded us, the world sees our good works and gives glory to God.  This is the ultimate purpose for which He created each and every one of us, let us rejoice and be glad!   

--Jennifer Mosier

Tues March 18, 2014 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. (Matthew 5:11, 12 )

Matthew 5:11-12 is in direct correlation w/ Matthew 10:32-33..." Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in Heaven- But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in Heaven".

Jesus is telling His Disciples that following Him is going to lead to criticism, injustice, and possibly even attack by the world- He is saying that following Him is going to cause some to ridicule the believer, and as a result, many may fall away from his Faith- But, those that endure and rely on Jesus to bring them through the periods in which they face scrutiny will be rewarded, because they were willing to stand strong in the Faith w/o wavering from it- This epitomizes what true Faith should be structured on- Verse 12 says that enduring these times of persecution and ridicule will provide the Ultimate Reward....Praise from the Father Himself, Praise from the Son, and the accumulation of Rewards and Crowns that will be returned at the Feet of God's Throne in Eternal Praise- Enduring short lived ridicule on earth leads to Eternal Praise and Glory in Heaven.  --John Cochran

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Monday March 17, 2014 Matthew 5:10

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -- Matthew 5:10

Like Kim said earlier in these reflections, I picture Jesus sitting, with his followers gathered around him, as he shares this wisdom. I try to discover what the words meant to the original listener, and what they mean today.  Jesus is talking to people who know what it means to be persecuted. They are living in tough times, maybe in fear of their very lives, when they follow this man Jesus, and are thirsting for hope, reassurance and comfort. A few decades later, at the time the gospels were written down and Jesus’ words recorded, these verses might have been even more meaningful to those who heard them.
Which makes me search for the relevance to my life today:  hungering and thirsting for God paints a clear picture; to be “meek”, humble and patient, striving to show mercy – to have empathy and compassion – are concrete goals; would it be we all have a pure heart.
But I am not persecuted. I live in a free society. I don’t have to have to worry about losing my job, or my home, or my freedom, or my life. I worship where and whom I please. What does persecution have to do with me? Well, perhaps “persecution” lurks out there even in my safe environment, in the dreaded “what will others say?”
Being part of the kingdom of heaven depends on never measuring actions by society’s values, never hesitating to do the right thing because it might be awkward, or open you to embarrassment or ridicule. It depends on putting God first, not thinking of the consequences or what other people might think.  --Marilyn McCarter

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday March 14, 2014 Matthew 5:9

 Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God --Matthew 5:9

When I think of peacemakers, I think of reconciliation and unity. Oneness.
Some bible versions say peace-loving. We are called to be peace-loving, peacemakers. This is a difficult task for anyone of us at one point or another. In a world that is hard to love the unloveable, there is not very much peace-loving going around in this world. And we cannot do it on our own in ways that bring glory to God.

We first have to receive the Prince of Peace that God, the father, has sent us. Through Jesus Christ, we receive the Peace in our spirit by the redeeming blood which reconciled us to God and made us His own. Then we have the Peacemaker in us that enables and gives us the power and authority to forgive in Jesus. When it is difficult to "make" peace with men who persecute us and even hate us, we can mourn for the state which we were doomed and for the lost and be comforted by Him, remain gentle, meek, seek His righteousness and forgive. Only the reconciled sons (children) of God by the Blood of Jesus search and know the heart of God and seek to be used as His peacemakers of God, with God. We are His heirs. We have the privilege to be peacemakers through the Holy Spirit to men/our neighbors, one soul at a time. It takes two to make peace. So we are called the peacemakers bringing the good news to the souls that are lost and being reconciled to God by living out the Christ in us- that they, too, may become fellow heirs and as we are one with Christ as He is one with the Father, God.
Lord, Jesus, make me an instrument of forgiveness for you are the source of ultimate, Agape love. Use me to share the good news and make reconciliation You have made through your blood with men (people). May your Kingdom come. Help me and my fellow members of Christ seek to be peacemakers with you for your glory. Amen.

Kathy Carpentier

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thursday March 13, 2014 Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8
When Moses asked to see God, he was hid in the cleft of a rock so that he could see the shadow of the Lord pass by.  That was in itself so very awesome – can you imagine?  And we have this promise from Jesus that we will see God. After Jeremiah17:19 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things, how beautiful that God cleanses our heart with Christ’s blood… redeeming us and our hearts.   And then we can see Him.  As I surrendered my heart afresh to God yesterday, I saw Him at work in my life – providing for our family through the job He gave me.  I saw His kindness in the friend who picked up groceries for me when I had no time.  I saw Him – and His majesty - in the beauty of the warm sun peeking out from the cold clouds, and late in the evening in the gift of quiet after everyone had gone to sleep. Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  We are blessed, as our hearts are surrendered, pure, and ready to see Him.  I wonder how it will be that we will see Him today.   --Angie Kays-Burden

Wednesday March 12, 2014 Matthew 5:7

Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.  --Matthew 5:7

 I found this excerpt from a Sermon by Brian Bill.  He concentrates on two words in this beatitude: blessed and mercy. 
As you contemplate this passage of the Sermon on the Mount, seek to understand what blessed would mean for you and in what ways you can be merciful throughout your day.  Live each day in Christ, with Christ and for Christ.
-Dan Davis
The word “blessed” as used in the Messiah’s message means much more than “happy.” It has the idea of being “congratulated” or “completed” or “fulfilled.” If we listen carefully, we can hear the applause of heaven when we put into practice these eight character qualities, or “be-attitudes.” As we look at what it means to be merciful, we come to a transition from the first four, which focus on our need – we are bankrupt in spirit, and broken with grief, which leads to meekness and an insatiable hunger for righteousness. We now move from our need, to what we need to do; from belief to behavior; from our situation to our responsibility.

The principal Hebrew word for” mercy” speaks of an emotional response to the needs of others. It means to feel the pain of another so deeply that we’re compelled to do something about it. In fact, people in Bible times believed that the seat of emotions was found in the intestinal area. That’s why the King James Version uses the phrase, “bowels of mercy.” William Barclay defines mercy this way: “To get inside someone’s skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind, and feel things with his feelings; to move in and act on behalf of those who are hurting.” Mercy can be defined as: “good will toward the afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday March 11, 2014 Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled 

Why is hungering and thirsting such a good illustration? Because as water and food is to the body, so righteousness is to the spiritual life. We as humans hunger and thirst not only for food but for satisfaction in life. We search in all kinds of different areas to be filled, to be satisfied, but we always end up falling short. All men are hungry and thirsty; the problem is that we try to fill that emptiness, that hunger, with things other than the righteousness of God. There is an incredible message of hope for you if you are searching for the answer. We are spending our money on things that do not satisfy; we are drinking from cisterns that can hold no water. Our satisfaction is not being met in the things of this world. We try to satisfy ourselves with money and power, education, boyfriends and girlfriends, toys and earthly possessions that allow us fun and entertainment for a time, yet all these things lead to a deeper sense of need, a deeper longing for satisfaction, because they do not fill that need.  The joy that is offered to us, the peace that is offered to us, the satisfaction that is offered to us, is unbelievable if we would only grab hold of Jesus and His offer to be our satisfaction.
  --Gordon Graven

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Monday March 10, 2014 Matthew 5:5

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  --Matthew 5:5

What does it mean to be meek?  I decided to do a “Tracy”, and look it up in the dictionary.  Three definitions were provided:
1. humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.
2. overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame.
3. (Obsolete) gentle; kind.
The second definition is what I formally thought of as being “meek.”  And so I am especially struck by the first definition!  Being humbly patient or docile with anyone who is trying to provoke is quite the challenge!  In fact, I sit here, trying to think of a time when I was able to do such a thing—to sit by, and not react—when someone was purposely trying to upset or hassle me.  I can, of course, think of times when a provoker was successful, and I reacted in kind: with negative energy, aimed back at the provoker, or worse, at an innocent third party.  I can also think of times when I simply removed myself from the presence of the provoker, but I did so with a big show of annoyance.  
There are a few times when I remember responding “meekly,” but interestingly, these situations were of a different sort altogether.  In these situations, I was always in a position of less power than the person provoking me.  This effectively left me without recourse to any sort of response.  My only choice was to swallow whateverpunishment the more powerful person dished out.  To respond in any way, and especially against that person, was to risk something big.  
And this insight leads me to think that in this beatitude, Jesus is blessing folks in this type of situation.  He is blessing a person without any power against a more powerful provoker.  Perhaps this beatitude is not to be understood as something we should try to attain, but rather that we should know God to be most especially with folks who are on the losing side of a negative power dynamic.  We are not necessarily called to be more “meek”; instead, we are told that these “meek” ones are notably blessed.    

--Nikki Edleman

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday March 7, 2014 Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
We can take comfort in the fact that in our mourning, we can let go of ourselves, and the sins in our lives. Once we let go and give all that away, God will come in and take over and comfort us in ways of joy, peace and love. -Kristine Melius

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thursday March 6, 2014 Matthew 5:1-3

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain,and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. (1)Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: (2)“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(3) (Matthew 5:1-3 NKJV).

I like to read a couple different translations of the Bible because it helps me to understand better. In doing that I discovered that the word  "happy" is sometimes used for "blessed";  "happy" in the sense of joy which is independent of circumstance.  When Jesus says "poor in spirit" I believe he was talking about common people who felt they had  nothing of value spiritually. It seems a lot like when, referring to little children ,He said "to such belongs the kingdom of heaven". In contrast would be the religious leaders who considered themselves "all that" and believed they had no need of spiritual teaching.  Just as those who are materially poor must rely on others to help them, the poor in spirit must rely on God's grace through the person of Jesus to be included in the kingdom of heaven.  If we don't realize we need Jesus to get there, the kingdom is unattainable. Nothing we can do can buy heaven for us...only our faith in Jesus can do that. 

An introduction

The passage known as the Sermon on the Mount contains some of the most well known of Jesus' teachings including the beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer. WHile there is no way to prove it, some scholars believe this was Jesus' "go to" sermon, based on it's content which can be summed up as instruction for living in a way that is pleasing to God. For this Lenten study we will be dividing this beloved portion of scripture into 32 passages. Each weekday we will be taking a portion to focus on. Saturdays and Sundays we won't open anything new but rather use those as catch up days, or days for deeper reflection.  Please consider starting your study time with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to guide and instruct you and reveal a nugget of truth to you from that day's passage.  Read the scripture passage and reflection.  Some questions to think about would be: What do you observe? What spoke to you from this passage? What do you think it means for us today? How can this apply to my life? Then, if you are inclined to share (please do!) join in the conversation by leaving a comment.  This blog is "private" meaning it is only open (and visible) to those in our group. BUT all are welcome. Some of us have invited far-flung family and long-lost friends so please feel free to do the same. You just need to send their emails to so I can send an invite from the blog. 
May God bless our time "together".

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

Getting to know you...

Welcome to the Sermon on the Mount study group. Let's get started by introducing ourselves so we know who we are talking to. This is one day when EVERYONE should post a comment. Let us know who you are in addition to a lover of Jesus! I'll start the ball rolling. I'm Tracy Moore from Warwick UMC. I have dreamed about being part of group like this for some time and I'm really looking forward to studying with ALL of you. May the Lord bless our time here. Holy Spirit come and teach us what You want us to know. AMEN!