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!

A Jesus Relationship

MARCH 18

MATTHEW 5:22 _But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…

Needless to say, there are a lot of tragedies in the world. High on the list is when anger destroys a church congregation. If we all held ourselves liable for our thoughts, words, and actions, we’d be more careful how we speak. Remember, we’re called to be salt to preserve and flavor, not destroy. 

We are all sinners. We all fail from time to time. Hopefully, the more time we spend in a Jesus relationship, the fewer our failures. This includes curbing anger.   

Galatians 6:1, 10 says “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Verse 10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

The scales are balanced when the murderer is held accountable for his actions according to the law of the land (judgment), and when the Christian holds himself accountable according to the law of Jesus (mercy).

PRAYER

Kind God, Help me be merciful to my fellow Christians. Help me know I am no better than the one who falls to temptation. When I am victorious over sin it is because of Your power in me. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ is merciful—He wants me to be!

Ever Felt That Pain?

 MARCH 17

MATTHEW 5:22 _But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…

Jesus’ explanation of His transformation of the Law begins with but I say unto you. The word but implies a change. The scales have balanced as far as killing and punishment, but if there is more to life than the physical, then there is another way in which to kill someone – anger. Ever felt that pain?

When Jesus refers to your brother, it is not biological, but a fellow human being. Perhaps it particularly means a Christian brother. Anger shown between Christians must be very painful to Jesus. After all, these are the people who claim to be His disciples. The people who are supposed to be salt. The people who are supposed to be light. Even if what they say is right, when it is said in hot tempered anger, it destroys any good which may be done. 

Anger wounds the spirit and is very destructive to the soul of the one it has inflicted. Anger is also destructive to the soul of the one doing the inflicting. This is not just losing your temper. This is malicious, mean anger. To destroy fellow humans with mean-tempered, explosive, anger, is in the category of those who kill.

Once again, life is serious business.

PRAYER

Merciful God, Help me not to be an angry person. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ makes us brothers—He wants me to be patient!

If They Only Knew

MARCH 15

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

I don’t believe there is happenstance in anything Jesus says including the order in which He teaches. Let’s take a look at Jesus’ style of order.

The sermon began with the attitudes and life styles that cause you to be blessed. It transferred to the purpose of the blessed – to be salt and light in the world. Next, Jesus made clear He was not about the destruction of the Law, but its fulfillment.

Some in the multitude listening to this sermon were only there to make Jesus out to be a heretic. Those particular ones may not have liked Jesus teaching He was not there to destroy the Law. Being for the Law might make it appear Jesus was on their side. They did not want that!

Jesus proceeded on in His sermon and discredited the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. Oh, my! To be sure some fits were thrown! They aren’t about to stand for that!

The Scribes and Pharisees begin to become a bit antsy. They have no way to know what Jesus will teach. To be in control of religious teaching was everything to the Scribes and Pharisees. And Jesus was not in their clique.

If they only knew. Jesus is about to transform the Law!

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, Help me listen to Your teachings with my heart. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                             

  Christ’s teachings are perfect—I need to learn them!

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!