MATTHEW 7:8_and he that seeketh, findeth…
Proverbs 20:27 says my spirit is God’s candle. We’ve talked a lot about candles in these devotionals. We’ve talked about the purpose of light—to dispel and overcome darkness. We’ve talked about candles set on candlesticks. We’ve talked about replacing the smaller candle and candlestick with larger ones as life moves on, and more light is needed. In this verse, a candle is used to in a different way – to gain insight into who I really am.
Now, the candle (my spirit) is used by God not to share light with others but—to search inside of me. God uses my spirit to shed light into my heart, and all that I am. He uses it to see what my heart seeks. Does it seek to know Him and make Him known, or does it seek to make me known?
Jesus told me to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Is that where He finds my spirit shedding light—on God’s righteousness? If God finds me seeking how to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, give to those who ask, and do good to those who hurt and use me, then He’s found me in the right place.
According to Jesus, if I’m seeking to live that kind of life—I’ll find it.
Almighty Father, I’m seeking the truth of Your kingdom. I’m seeking Your righteousness – to dwell in me. Thank You that I’ll find it. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ knows if I seek righteousness—If so, I’ll find it!
MATTHEW 5:46_For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?
We like rewards, especially when we have worked hard to receive them. We like to see an accomplishment receive its due credit.
In the kingdom of heaven, we don’t necessarily work to be rewarded – but God does use that system. Our work for God is to love His people by being salt and light in a dark and thirsting world. The fact that God rewards us for that is a blessing.
Just because we love those who love us does not win a blue ribbon. Jesus said even tax collectors (publicans) can do that. Let’s take a moment and clarify tax collectors. In case either or both of your parents work for the IRS, don’t think they are the chief of sinners. During Jesus’ earth time, Israel was occupied by the Romans. The Romans demanded taxes from the Israelites. Tax collectors were considered enemies. Hebrews who worked for the Roman government to collect taxes from their fellow neighbors were considered traitors. Therefore, if Jesus wanted to leave a graphic image of the worst of sinners, tax collectors were a good choice. Jesus says even bad or weak people can love those who love them.
Returning good for evil leaves a salty residue.
God of Love, Please don’t let my love be weak, let it be powerful. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ loves those who don’t love Him—He helps me to!
MATTHEW 5:23_Therefore, if thy bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberst that thy brother has ought against thee;
Don’t be confused about altars. When you come to Jesus’ salvation altar, come with your broken, bleeding, messed up life. This is the time to ask Jesus into your life. He accepts you just as you are. It’s Jesus’ job to clean you up. His full forgiveness is immediate. Then He begins the process to repair the breaks, bind the wounds, and sweep up the mess you call your life. This doesn’t happen overnight – but it does happen.
Jesus cleanses like Dove™ – He is not a soap, He is a beauty bar!
The altar in this verse comes after your salvation experience. You are ready and eager to serve Jesus. You come because you want to be a part of the earthly kingdom of heaven. Now Jesus hands the broom to you.
If there are people in your past with wounds you’ve inflicted, Jesus wants you to repair the wounds as much as is possible on your part.
Possibly the Scribes and Pharisees didn’t like this teaching. They believed the Law had to do with loving God, not people. Jesus says the two go together. This is why the Scribes and Pharisees did not know the Messiah when they saw His miracles, or heard Him teach unconditional love. Neither did they know Him when they slapped Him in the face, spat upon Him, or saw Him die in their place – and asked God to forgive them.
Forgiving God, Praise You that You take me just as I am. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ accepts me—He makes the necessary changes!
MATTHEW 5:20_you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
If the kingdom of heaven is within you, it is in your heart. What is in your heart calls you to discipleship. You become disciples to whomever or whatever reigns on the heart’s throne. If Christ does not reign on the throne, you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, and this time that works whether the kingdom is part of this earthly life, or it is eternal life.
The hearts of the Scribes and Pharisees were full of religion. They would have had to make room for Jesus to reign there. If Jesus reigned in their hearts, they would have known who He was.
The Scribes and Pharisees’ righteousness was self-righteousness, thriving on self-glory and power. The righteousness in the kingdom of heaven thrives on doing good by serving others, which glorifies God. The heart, being the center of your thoughts, makes the decision as to who you want your life to glorify – self or God.
You have only one chance to live this life. If your goal is to use your life to make a difference in the world for good – then you’ve got Jesus’ righteousness.
The world will recognize Jesus when it sees your righteousness.
Heavenly Father, Thank You that You can be seen in me. Thank You that through Your power I can do Your works. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ reigns in hearts—I want Him in mine!
MATTHEW 5:19_the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Can you think of a more beautiful reward than to be called great in the kingdom of heaven? It surpasses any honor the world can offer.
To receive this reward means you believe in and teach (by word or influence) Biblical commands. If this were impossible Jesus never would have taught the principle. The road to the reward begins with some understanding of the life of Jesus. The understanding can’t be gained without Bible reading and meditating (dwelling on until you have it in your heart) on what you read. Bible study needs to be filled with prayer. This is what is known as a daily quiet time.
Dedication to a quiet time leads you to become a salty-lit-up disciple. You won’t have one without the other. The Bible, prayer, discipleship, salt, and light are BFFs.
Jesus clears up some of His teachings in the rest of this chapter. His balance of judgment and mercy equaling the fulfillment of the Law gives some understanding.
Learning to distinguish the spirit of the Law from the letter of the Law brings everything together.
Savior of the World, I want to be great in the kingdom of heaven. I want to believe that if You said it then it is possible. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ is the Spirit of the Law—He wants to teach me!