Tied Up in Cords

MAY 3

MATTHEW 5:47_And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?

What is your first instinct when someone offends you? The silent treatment, right? “I won’t say anything mean – I just won’t say anything at all. As a matter of fact, I’ll never speak to them again!” Do you know there are actually people who live years without speaking to one another? Sadly, there are even those who go to their graves holding a grudge they never made an effort to resolve.

Matthew 18:18 (KJV), “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

I’m not taking any chances! I don’t want anyone going to heaven tied up in cords I placed on them because I was offended in some way. I want to loose grudge-holding cords in this life. I want to send the people in my life to heaven free from my grudges!  

If I don’t loose any and all cords of bitterness, Jesus says I’m not doing anything radical. No more than a non-Christian. Not setting an example. Not being salt and light. Nothing about me attracts the lost and the searchers.

Stay with me and see how Christ completes this part of His power-packed sermon!

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, Please don’t let me bind anyone, but free all who hurt me. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                                                                                                   

Christ does not bind anyone—I must not either!                                                                                        

The Last Loophole

APRIL 13

MATTHEW 5:36_Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

If Jesus wanted to give a title to this teaching, I think The Loophole Diaries would fit well. He is about to plug the last hole.

When nothing else has worked, you may think a way out would be to swear by your own name (or head). Remember, you are looking for some way to make a promise without mentioning God’s name. This is in hopes you can weasel out of your promise if it becomes too difficult to keep. 

You are a creation of God. There just isn’t any way out of that fact. Everything that lives and breathes belongs to God. If you swear by heaven, earth, Jerusalem, or yourself, you’re still swearing by the One who made each.   

In case you believe you are a power-house on your own, Jesus brings up another point. You may be able to change your hair color, but you can’t change how you were created – underneath is the color God gave you. It doesn’t go away because you cover it.

This is not a lesson on hair coloring – it’s a lesson on how God owns every part of you.

You had no choice in the circumstances of your birth, your physical features, or your family.

You belong to your Creator.

To swear by yourself is to swear by the Creator. 

PRAYER

Holy Creator, Thank You that everything about me belongs to You. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                                                                             

Christ knows my promises—He wants me to keep them!

Two More Loopholes

APRIL 12

MATTHEW 5:35_Nor by the earth; for it is His footstool; neither by Jerusalem for it is the city of the great King.

Jesus is very thorough. If He has a point to prove, He does it all the way. For instance, if heaven is God’s throne, then earth is His footstool. 

The Hebrews knew God was the creator of all of heaven and earth. If they thought swearing by earth didn’t involve God – they just weren’t thinking it through. Jesus helps them think better. 

If you swear by the product, you swear by the one who made it.

Jerusalem is a hot spot today. Everybody wants a piece of it. The Bible makes it very clear that Jerusalem belongs to Israel. Regardless of your political persuasions, the Bible has already stated the fact. Psalm 87 is all about God’s love for Zion (Jerusalem). It says God loves Jerusalem above any other city on earth. Verse 3 (KJV) says, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.”

Our man after God’s own heart, King David, reigned in Jerusalem. The connection between God, Jerusalem, and King David cannot be broken by anyone. The Hebrews knew that too, but they didn’t put together the connection with swearing to an oath.

Jesus just plugged two more loopholes.

PRAYER

One True God, I know I can’t separate You from creation. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                                                                             

Christ belongs to creation—Creation belongs to Christ!

Plug the Loopholes

APRIL 11

MATTHEW 5:34_But I say unto you swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne.

Psalm 15 lists several creation principles everyone should live by – especially salty-lit-up disciples. The last part of verse 4 (KJV) says, “He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” If you make a promise and in the long run it turns out to be something bigger than you thought, or cost more money that you expected – keep your promise. Psalm 15 says even if it hurts, keep your word.

In His New Covenant teaching Jesus transforms the old law about swearing – don’t swear at all! A practice in the Hebrew culture in that day was to swear by something. The more important the something was, the more emphasis on the oath. Jesus targets that system.

Perhaps the thought was you could get by without keeping your word if you didn’t swear by God’s name. If you swore by God you had to keep your word. As usual, Jesus looks beyond man’s plans on how to get by without keeping His creation principles. Jesus sees a loophole. He plans to plug it!

If you made a promise by heaven but did not mention God’s name Jesus says, heaven is God’s throne. The two are inseparable.

This sounds a lot like the murder and the anger, and the looking and the lust. 

PRAYER

True God, I don’t want to look for loopholes in Your teachings. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                                                                             

Christ plugs loopholes—I need Him to plug mine!

From the Letter to the Spirit

FEBRUARY 26

MATTHEW 5:18_pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Here is the point of Jesus’ principle, till all be fulfilled. Notice how Jesus took specific steps to emphasize His point. 

First, He began with the verily: [I solemnly declare, sacred, seriously and thoughtfully, emphatically, affirm]. He’s grabbing our attention right from the get-go.

Second, Jesus makes clear the time frame He is addressing, till heaven and earth pass away, as long as the world we live in lasts. 

Third, Jesus shows the inclusiveness of every part of the Law, jots and tittles [tiniest of strokes]. Even these will stand, last, and endure.

Had Jesus stopped with these three points we would all be living under the Law. The fulfillment takes us from the letter of the Law to the spirit of the Law. The Law, and the strictest keeping of it, can never equal the sacrifice Christ made on the cross. His death gave us new life. Jesus’ resurrection opened the door for eternity. 

If you are confused about fulfillment, and the judgment and mercy balance – stay tuned. In just a few more verses Jesus will take more specific steps to explain.

PRAYER

Saving Jesus, Please guide me with Your truth, step by step. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen. 

Christ is the spirit of the Law—I should be too!