MATTHEW 6:16_for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast…
Any way you look at it, fasting shows up in the Bible. It appears in the Old and New Testaments as a part of the religious routine. Fasting was a normal part of worship.
There is something else which shows up. Jesus has a way of spotlighting it – hypocrisy. Hypocrites are always around. They show up in high governmental offices, on sports teams, on the stage, and unfortunately, they show up in churches.
You’ve already learned how the hypocrites’ giving alms and praying came from a heart of pride, not worship. Well, do declare, if that isn’t the same motive for their fasting!
Jesus points out they disfigure their faces when they fast. This is not for repentance or somberness of the occasion, but for exhibition. As always when He speaks of hypocrites, Jesus says not to be like them.
Religious hypocrites are great actors, and their stage is in the midst of the Christian community. They know how to manipulate the emotions of their audience. Their disfigured faces when fasting is more than feeling weak from hunger. It is to show to their audience they are making a great sacrifice for God.
Father God, I never want to be a hypocrite. I want You to be my audience. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ looks for hearts of worship—I will worship Him!
MATTHEW 5:44_do good to them that hate you…
How can you do good to them that hate you? It may be pretty much the same way you do to those who like you. Begin with prayer. Talk with God. Ask Him to give you an opportunity to do something good to one who has shown contempt toward you.
A good place to begin is to learn their birthdate. If you have their cell number or email just text or mail a simple, “Hey, I heard today is your birthday, I hope you have a happy one.” If you don’t have this information, you may just write a note and leave it on their desk at school.
Keep things simple. Don’t get overly sentimental or mushy with your doing good. They will already feel uncomfortable with your kind response to their obvious contempt. If the devil can convince them to take your good deeds as some kind of plot against them, he will.
Let God do His work. Focus more on listening to the Holy Spirit for guidance, and looking for opportunities which may come your way.
You certainly want to do them good, but this is also going to do you good … just don’t let pride get in the way.
Mighty God, Please give me opportunities to do good to all the people I can. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ does good to all—He wants me to do that too!
MATTHEW 5:26_lest at any time thine adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
It is always a good idea to listen to wise advice – particularly if the advice is from the Bible. If you’ve wronged someone in a criminal way, not just hurt their feelings, take Jesus’ advice. This is not to minimize hurting someone’s feelings – which hurts their heart. From what Jesus has taught, hurts to the heart are as serious as killing. Do your part to repair the wrong before it goes to the judicial system.
First, nothing you offer (your future) to God pleases Him until you’ve repaired wrongs. Second, if it does involve something criminal, your adversary will take you to court. If pride gets in the way of humbling yourself before your adversary – it is minor compared to the humiliation which can be placed on you in a courtroom.
If you were in the wrong, you will lose the case. You will have to pay your court fees, your adversary’s court fees, whatever you owe the adversary, plus anything the adversary may add for whatever reason, and possibly some jail time.
Just take Jesus’ advice – He knows the truth to set you free.
Holy Jesus, Please give me the courage to obey Your principles. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ knows the truth—He can use it to set me free!
MATTHEW 5:10_Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake:
One key element of persecution is to be sure you are persecuted for righteousness sake, not your own sake. The quality of discernment will help you know. You have already learned to discern if your peacemaking succumbs to political correctness. Political correctness is to agree with the world’s ways over God’s ways because it is the popular thing. Now you discern if you have strayed from the righteous path, and are suffering for it.
Everyone thinks they are righteous. To board the Righteousness Train requires a Bible ticket. Those trusting in and building lives upon the Bible have purchased a ticket. If you become too self-assured you have a seat on the Train, you can easily fall into the Pit of Pride. Hungering and thirsting leads you to the ticket office.
Righteousness is a byproduct of loving Jesus and His words. It comes naturally when you draw into a closer relationship with Jesus. You cannot make yourself become righteous. Only God can make you righteous. Only God holds the standard to what righteousness is. No one can live up to that standard. The Holy Spirit leads you there. Actually you won’t even know you’re there unless you begin to suffer for doing what is right. That is your clue. If you become too smug in the fact you made it – you can fall back to where you were.
You can only claim it in Jesus’ name, never your own.
Dear God and Father of All, I want to be righteous in You, not in myself – lead me there. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ is righteousness—He makes me righteous!
MATTHEW 5:3_Blessed are the poor in spirit…
The poor in spirit really do have a monopoly on humility. It is impossible to be proud or arrogant and be poor in spirit. The poor in spirit measure themselves to Jesus’ standards – they find themselves lacking. They do not measure themselves to the standards of the world. Neither are they anxiously concerned if they do not measure up to what their peers consider to be cool or acceptable in order to be in the click.
The poor in spirit are grieved as they discover within themselves the truth of Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV), “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” The poor in spirit come humbly and contritely to the only One who can change them – the only One who can give them a new heart.
The poor in spirit believe there is hope for change because they believe they need change. They are not satisfied with the world’s standards – they seek Jesus’ standards.
Because they are poor in spirit they open themselves up for a metamorphosis – a complete metamorphosis from which they emerge as something beautiful.
They do not return to the cocoon.
Powerful True God, Show me my heart, change it, and make it new. Only You can make its hardness soft, and its wickedness kindness. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ can transform my heart—and make it like His!