Always a Snare

MAY 11

MATTHEW 6:2_Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

A synagogue is a gathering or assembling of people for Jewish religious practices. This particular verse refers to the building where the crowd gathers. 

Jesus says hypocrites make certain they sound their trumpets in the synagogues. If they give the largest financial contribution, they want it known! In some synagogues, the best seat in the house was reserved for the largest giver. It was known to the entire gathering why that particular person sat in that particular seat.

Jesus said synagogues weren’t enough for the  hypocrites – they also sound their trumpets in the streets. Streets are public places where anyone is allowed. Streets are not exclusive to Jews or Gentiles (although some may be preferences of a certain group). Streets are a much larger and broader way to be sure your charitable deeds are known.

Charitable deeds and contributions are good things. Whenever you can – be generous in deeds and money. 

Be careful of self-glory. It is always a snare.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, Please give me a generous heart and show me how to use it. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ is generous and kind—He will teach me to be!

A Heap of Trouble!

MARCH 14

MATTHEW 5:21_Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time…

Jesus begins a series of principles to shed understanding on His fulfillment of the Law. He shares something which up until this sermon only Jesus could do – balance judgment and mercy. Now it is time to teach His salty-lit-up disciples how it’s done!

What was said by them of old time was the Law. The Old Testament covenant God made with Abraham and the laws he gave to Moses (the Ten Commandments, etc.). This was the standard the Hebrews lived by – their rules and regulations. This is how they worshiped, how they gave themselves to being Jews – God’s chosen people.

We Gentiles had no chance for the kingdom life because we were not chosen. Neither did we have the laws to teach us how to worship, serve, and know God. What was said by them of old time was for the Jews alone.

If that was enough, there was no need for a New Testament covenant and Gentiles would be in a heap of trouble! Jesus now becomes salt and light for the Old Testament. 

If the Scribes and Pharisees have had trouble relating to Jesus before – watch out. They are about to throw a fit!

PRAYER

Father of All, Thank You for teaching me an understanding of balance. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                   

Christ teaches balance—He helps me understand!

We All Have Baggage

OCTOBER 29

MATTHEW 7:14_strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life…

If we had to be baggage-free to enter the strait gate, there would be no need to enter. After all, we’re already living free so what’s there to gain?

We all have baggage. Bags filled with broken pieces of our hearts, hopes, and dreams. Some baggage we choose of our own free will. Other baggage was inflicted upon us by the circumstances of life. They came with the life package—a life we live in a dark and sinful world every moment of every day.   

The difference in the sizes of our baggage depends upon how we deal with them. The wide gate allows for a lot of baggage. That is why it is wide. The path is broad so we don’t have to drop off any bags. It is the designed path for those who have been subdued by the world—to accept its darkness as if there were no other choice. It is for those who don’t want to check their bags at the gate because the bags contain their pain relievers. Some may be for physical pain, but the majority are for pains of the soul. The spirits of darkness work to keep us depressed and discouraged. Life doesn’t have to be that way—there is hope!  

Colossians 1:27 (KJV), “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

PRAYER

Lord Who Reigns, Only You can truly relieve the pains of my life. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ is the pain reliever—I will make Him mine!

A Big Stick

SEPTEMBER 18

MATTHEW 7:4_and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

According to Zechariah 2:8 (KJV), God considers Israel as the apple of His eye, “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me [an angel] unto the nations which spoiled you [Israel]: for he that toucheth you [Israel] toucheth the apple of his [God’s] eye.”

Paul saw Israel and the Jews as the apple of God’s eye. He saw Christians as a blot in God’s eye. He could not see the true blot – his own sect, the Pharisees.

God saw the fervor with which Paul attacked Christians. And because God sees the heart, it was clear Paul’s fervor came from love and devotion to God. It was that love and devotion which caused God to choose Paul (not the other way around) to become a two-fold fixer for His beloved Israel.

God used Paul’s great zeal to publically proclaim Jesus as the Messiah. This cleared away the beam from the eyes of any Pharisees with a true heart for God. God also used Paul’s zeal to bring salvation to the Gentiles – the Messiah died for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.

Because Paul was so far off the path, God used a big stick (discipline) to straighten him out.

Then God used Paul in an amazing way.    

PRAYER

Holy God, Please use my zeal to share Your truth. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.   

Christ chooses to use me in the world—I will let Him!

The Believer Has the Bread of Life

AUGUST 22

MATTHEW 6:32_For after all these things do the Gentiles seek…

It is easy to say don’t worry, but it is not easy to do. Jesus leads to a place where it becomes easier, according to His design. Faith and trust. Faith and trust come from being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit teaches truth. Truth leads to freedom! Even freedom from worry.  John 8:32 (KJV) is worth repeating several times, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free .” 

Remember, Gentiles are considered non-believers. Ones who do not put faith and trust in the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Without faith and trust, opportunities for truth and freedom are reduced. John 8:36 (KJV), “If the son [Jesus] therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  

Worry fits into the design of a non-believer. When unbelievers fall upon hard times, they are without a source of overcoming power. Suppose a financial depression hits the country. Any money that may have gone toward comforts is now applied to the essential of food. It is a difficult time for believers as well as non-believers. The believer hurts during this time just as the non-believer.

But, the believer has the Bread of Life – in which to find hope.

PRAYER

Living God, Help me find hope by trusting in You. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ wants to give me hope—I will accept it!