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!

The Bottom Line

SEPTEMBER 21

MATTHEW 7:5_Thou hypocrite…

Jesus knew two things in the incident of the woman taken in adultery. He knew the condition of her heart now, and in her past. He knew the circumstances which led to this incident at this time. We can’t expect our earthly authorities to know all of this, but the Holy Spirit can reveal truth. Besides the fact that He knew her heart, Jesus had the ability to read her heart in her facial expressions and body language. 

There was something else Jesus knew – the hearts of the Scribes and Pharisees who brought her before Him. He knew more about them than they knew about each other, or even about themselves. Remember John 8:5-6 (KJV), “ ‘Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such [adulterers] should be stoned: but what sayest thou?’ This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him …”

Jesus understood the real purpose for the Scribes and Pharisees bringing the woman. It had nothing to do with justice of the Law. It had nothing to do with adultery.  The bottom line was to bring Jesus down. At the time this occurred, Jesus was in the temple teaching. The Pharisees’ goal was to cause Jesus to look ignorant before the multitude of followers who sat at His feet.

If Jesus were a true God-fearing Jew, He would uphold the Law. If He didn’t enforce the Law, then everyone in the temple that day would know Jesus was a heretic.

We’re not finished with this subject yet!

PRAYER

Father God, Help me become discerning of the hearts of others. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                                                                              

 Christ knows true hearts from false—He helps 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 Point Is …

SEPTEMBER 17

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

Let’s begin to dig to the core of this whole judgment thing.

In the apostle Paul’s view, he was doing God’s work when he persecuted and condemned Christians. He considered Jesus and His teachings to be far too radical for the Jewish religion. After all, they had the laws God gave Moses. To turn some of the laws upside down as Jesus did had to be from the devil.

Jesus proclaiming He and the Father as one was blasphemy – to Paul. Merriam-Webster defines blasphemy as, the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God. Paul, a Pharisee, believed Jesus-followers should be annihilated.

The point is – Paul, especially as a Pharisee, should have recognized who Jesus was. It is understandable that Paul could have seen Jesus’ radical teachings as destructive to the Law – thus the mote. But it was Paul’s own beam which blinded him to belief in the physical presence of the Messiah. 

Paul was a fixer. Taking out Jesus-followers was his way to fix. Paul was also a disciplinarian, and his form of discipline on Jesus-followers was both brutal and deadly.

But God saw something in Paul which people did not see …    

PRAYER

Messiah, Please don’t let my beams blind me to truth. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.   

Christ wants me to have 20/20 vision—In the truth!