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!