Friday, December 30, 2011

Don't Worry, Be Happy.

Sermon on the Mount Cont...

After talking about not loving money Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you not to worry about your life, whether you have enough food, drink or clothing. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant, harvest or store food in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you far more valuable to him then they are?"

"Can all your worries add a single hour to your life?"

"And why worry about clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing. Yet not even Solomon, in all his glory, was dressed as beautifully. If that is how God clothes the grass, which is here one day and gone another, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?"
Matthew 6:25-30

I used to worry about everything. I have slowly learned from God not to worry about anything. I am still learning. When a worry comes into my head, I remember these verses and stop worrying. This has made my life much more peaceful and happy. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two Masters.

Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." Matthew 6:24

The word used for money was 'mammon' which is a Syrian word for an idol who was worshiped as the god of riches.  The word for 'hate' in this scripture and many others means, 'to love less'.

The master of our heart should be love, and God is love. If our hearts are set on riches and possessions then our time and thoughts will be about that. If our hearts are set on God and love, we will give our time to helping others with our money.

The Bible says, "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, craving for money have wandered from the faith..."

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Light of God.

"Your eye is a lamp that gives light to your body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If the light in you is darkness; how great is that darkness!"

As we walk we follow where our eyes lead us. Our eyes should be on Jesus. Many times he said, "Follow me." If we put our eyes on Jesus each day by prayer and Bible study then his light becomes ours.

When in darkness we stumble around and become lost. We cannot see the way to go. Jesus says this darkness is great - it is huge and swallows up our life. This is a sad picture of life without God.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." Ephesians 5:8

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." John 3:19

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Have a Treasure in Heaven.

Jesus said, "Don't save up treasures here on earth, where moths and rust can destroy it and where thieves can break in and steal. But save up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy and where thieves cannot break in and steal.  For where your treasures are, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:19-21

Beautiful clothing was considered a treasure in ancient times. There are stories in the Bible of Achan, Joseph and the servant of Elijah of the esteem in which clothing was held. But time and moths eventually destroy clothing. Gold and silver were also treasures. Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He also used to steal from the money bag he carried for the poor.

Jesus is warning us not to love things like money and possessions. We should love God's kingdom and put our treasures there.

I read a story once of a wealthy Indian woman who went to Mother Theresa. She was converted and knew she spent too much on beautiful sari dresses. She asked Mother Theresa what to do. She told her to buy dresses that were less expensive and every time she bought herself one she should buy one for a poor woman. The wealthy lady did this and more. She gave hundreds of dresses away.

If we ask him, God will put in our hearts what we should do with our money and possessions.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Forgiveness Repeated.

Jesus said, "If you forgive others their offenses against you, your father in heaven will forgive your offenses. But if you won't forgive people, God will not be able to forgive you."

"When you fast in prayer don't disfigure yourself and let everyone see you are fasting. Hypocrites do this so people will admire them.  I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever receive. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face so only God will know. And God, who sees in secret, will reward you."
Matthew :14-18

Jesus stressed again in the Sermon on the Mount the importance of forgiveness. Earlier he spoke of loving our enemies, which would entail forgiveness. He spoke of how we should not call people names and also make things right with others before we come to worship him.

Now he talks of forgiveness in sterner terms. He says God cannot forgive you if you will not forgive. Hatred, spite and unforgiveness cannot live in our hearts along with God. These things hurt his heart of love. It may take time for God to melt our heart to forgive. He knows we are weak. But if we talk with him about any unforgiveness we have in our hearts he will change it into love.

Jesus also repeats a warning on doing religious acts in front of people in order to be admired. If we feel we should fast for a time, we shouldn't let others know in order for them to think we are holy. Our motive should be to have a clear mind to pray.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Lord's Prayer

Jesus said, Pray like this, "Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy."

 "Let thy name be celebrated, venerated, and esteemed as holy everywhere, and receive from all people proper honor." It is thus the expression of a wish or desire, on the part of the worshiper, that the name of God, or that God himself, should be held everywhere in proper veneration.Barnes' Notes on the Bible

"Let your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."

The will of God is infinitely good, wise, and holy; to have it fulfilled in and among men, is to have infinite goodness, wisdom, and holiness diffused throughout the universe; and earth made the counterpart of heaven. Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Give us today our daily bread.

This petition implies our dependence on God for the supply of our wants. As we are dependent on him one day as much as another, Barnes' Notes on the Bible

"And forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us."

 God sees His own image reflected in His forgiving children; but to ask God for what we ourselves refuse to men, is to insult Him. So much stress does our Lord put upon this, that immediately after the close of this prayer, it is the one point in it which He comes back upon (Mt 6:14, 15), for the purpose of solemnly assuring us that the divine procedure in this matter of forgiveness will be exactly what our own is. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

"And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

And lead us not into temptation- A petition similar to this is offered by David, Psalm 141:4; "Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with the workers of iniquity." God tempts no man. See James 1:13. This phrase, then, must be used in the sense of "permitting." Do not "suffer" us, or "permit" us, to be tempted to sin. In this it is implied that God has such control over the tempter as to save us from his power if we call upon him. The word "temptation," however (see the note at Matthew 4:1), means sometimes "trial, affliction," anything that "tests" our virtue. If this be the meaning here, as it may be, then the import of the prayer is, "Do not afflict or try us." It is not wrong to pray that we may be saved from suffering if it be the will of God. See Luke 22:42.

Deliver us from evil - The original in this place has the article - deliver us from the evil - that is, as has been supposed, the Evil One, or Satan. He is elsewhere called, by way of eminence, the "Evil One," Matthew 13:191 John 2:13-141 John 3:12. The meaning here is, "deliver us from his power, his snares, his arts, his temptations." He is supposed to be the great parent of evil, and to be delivered from him is to be safe. Or it may mean, "deliver us from the various evils and trials which beset us, the heavy and oppressive calamities into which we are continually liable to fall."

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Sermon on the Mount Cont... Jesus said, "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites. They like to stand in churches and street corners and pray so that everyone can see them. I tell you the truth. That will be their only reward. "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Our motive for praying is important to God. Some people pray to look religious and righteous. This is the wrong motive. We should never pray with pride in our hearts.

"When you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the heathen do. They think they will be heard if they talk a lot.  Don't be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."

Instead of motive, Jesus is now talking about our manner of praying. We do not need to repeat our prayers over and over as they do in some religions. God knows what we need. 

ill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions,.... Saying the same things over and over again,
as the Heathens do, as the worshippers of Baal, from morning till noon, 1 Kings 18:26. This our Lord observes, to dissuade from such practices, because the Gentiles, who were odious to the Jews, used them, and the Jews were guilty of the same; had they not, there would not have been any need of such advice:
for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking; as did the Jews, who, under pretence of "long prayers", devoured widows' houses; and with whom it is an axiom, that "everyone , that multiplies prayer is heard" (h); and whoever prolongs his prayer, his prayer does not return empty; and he that is long in prayer, his days are prolonged (i): and, according to their canons, every day a man ought to pray eighteen prayers. Moreover, their prayer books abound in tautologies, and in expressing the same things in different words, and by a multiplicity of them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gays & Churches.

I'm taking a break today on the Sermon on the Mount to write about something that is important to me. I have given my opinion on this subject in comments on other blogs so I feel I should post about it myself.

My sister is gay. She doesn't have a partner and hasn't for many years. Once when she lived in Florida, she told me she would like to go to church. I asked her why she didn't and she said, "I can't go. They hate people like me."

Is this the message we want to give to gay people? Personally, when I see Christians protesting against gays it makes my blood boil. There are thousands of sins much worse than having inappropriate sex. Why do they choose to make such a big deal out of this one? I think it is because they aren't tempted by it. Personally, I believe it is okay for gays to get married as long as they stay faithful to each other. No adultery. That sin is in the Ten Commandments.

God allowed godly men like Abraham, David, Solomon and Jacob to have multiple wives. We think that is a sin and it was. The kings of Israel were told not to have many wives, yet this was ignored. David was only punished by God when he committed adultery and murder.

We have so many different denominations in Christianity. Why? Because we can't agree on what the Bible teaches. Well, I know one thing. Jesus never turned away anyone who came to him. If he wants someone to give up a gay partner and be celibate then the Holy Spirit will convict that person. If God doesn't care about it then he won't convict that person. Why should we care what they and God decide? But then, that is why I no longer go to church because I was sick of all the condemning of others that was going on.

In my old church there were so many conditions to becoming a member it was amazing anyone was ever accepted. They wouldn't accept me right now because I am smoking and have the occasional drink.

I don't mind if you disagree with me. I don't mind at all. In fact, I know most Christians will. But I hope we could all agree to disagree and be loving to each other no matter what our beliefs. I think when Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven being like a seed of grain that became, "first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head," it means the slow growth we take becoming more and more like God. Why can't we just accept people exactly as they are and let God worry about the growth, whatever that growth may entail.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Giving Privately.

"Be careful not to give to charity in public in order to attract attention. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you. So when you give to the poor, don't announce it with trumpets. This is what people do in order to be praised by men. Truly, that will be their only reward."

" But when you give to the needy, don't let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. Give your money privately. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4

Jesus is speaking of our motives for giving in this passage. Do we give so people will praise us and think we are wonderful people? Or do we give because our hearts are filled with compassion?

I remember once being in church and a lady who was in charge of money given to missions wanted people to stand up and tell everyone what they gave. No one did, because I think they felt it might be wrong to tell people. Not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing means to give the money and then forget about it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Love Your Enemies.

The Sermon on the Mount cont... Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you show that you are the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes the sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust."

"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Even tax collectors do that! If you greet only your friends, what more do you do than others? Even pagans do that! You however are to be complete in goodness, as your Father in heaven is complete."
Matthew 5:43-48

To love those who hate us and treat us badly is surely one of the hardest things to do in the Christian life. But we are to look at God and see how he treats all people. Jesus forgave his enemies as they were nailing him to a cross. He forgives all who ask him for forgiveness. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

I remember reading of an African-American man who got a phone call from a Klu Klux Klan member. The man swore at him and said terrible things. The African-American would tell him he loved him. After a few calls the man who called started to share about his lonely life and eventually they met and became friends. The KKK man gave his life to God joined his former enemy's church. Love can melt a heart that is full of hate.

I love what this commentary said about loving our enemies:

Love your enemies - There are two kinds of love, involving the same general feeling, or springing from the same fountain of good-will to all mankind, but differing so far as to admit of separation in idea. The one is that feeling by which we approve of the conduct of another, commonly called the love of complacency; the other, that by which we wish well to the person of another, though we cannot approve his conduct. This is the love of benevolence, and this love we are to bear toward our enemies. It is impossible to love the conduct of a person who curses and reviles us, who injures our person or property, or who violates all the laws of God; but, though we may hate his conduct, and suffer keenly when we are affected by it, yet we may still wish well to the person; we may pity his madness and folly; we may speak kindly of him and to him; we may return good for evil; we may aid him in the time of trial; we may seek to do him good here and to promote his eternal welfare hereafter, Romans 12:17-20. This seems to be what is meant by loving our enemies; and this is a special law of Christianity, and the highest possible test of piety, and probably the most difficult of all duties to be performed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Giving and Lending.

Jesus said, "Give to  him who asks you for something. Don't turn away anyone who wants to borrow something from you." Matthew 5:42

When I lived in Vancouver, BC, there were many homeless and young people who asked for money. My mom and I always gave them at least a dollar. But the city asked people not to give because there was free food and lodging all over town and they wanted the begging to stop. So we began to say no. It never felt right - in fact, it felt awful. We both decided to go back to the way we did things before.

If someone is homeless, it usually means they have a mental condition, a drug or drink habit, abuse by parents etc. There is always a reason behind everyone's lives. No one wants to be homeless and poor. I think it is better to err on the side of love, even if we end up giving money to those who don't deserve it. This is what one of the commentaries says:

larke's Commentary on the Bible
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow - To give and lend freely to all who are in need, is a general precept from which we are only excused by our inability to perform it. Men are more or less obliged to it as they are more or less able, as the want is more or less pressing, as they are more or less burthened with common poor, or with necessitous relatives. In all these matters, both prudence and charity must be consulted. That God, who makes use of the beggar's hand to ask our charity, is the same from whom we ourselves beg our daily bread: and dare we refuse Him! Let us show at least mildness and compassion, when we can do no more; and if we cannot or will not relieve a poor man, let us never give him an ill word nor an ill look. If we do not relieve him, we have no right to insult him.
To give and to lend, are two duties of charity which Christ joins together, and which he sets on equal footing. A rich man is one of God's stewards: God has given him money for the poor, and he cannot deny it without an act of injustice. But no man, from what is called a principle of charity or generosity, should give that in alms which belongs to his creditors. Generosity is godlike; but justice has ever, both in law and Gospel, the first claim.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Going the Extra Mile.

"If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two." Matthew 5:41

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

"And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain-an allusion, probably, to the practice of the Romans and some Eastern nations, who, when government despatches had to be forwarded, obliged the people not only to furnish horses and carriages, but to give personal attendance, often at great inconvenience, when required. But the thing here demanded is a readiness to submit to unreasonable demands of whatever kind, rather than raise quarrels, with all the evils resulting from them. What follows is a beautiful extension of this precept."

I went to bed after posting this, opened the Bible, and the first verse I read was this:

"A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull) ...They crucified him."

This is an example of how the Roman soldiers could force people to do work for them. They themselves would never have stooped to carry a cross, but they could make someone else do it. Simon's sons were probably the two men spoken of by Paul and Luke. They were believers in Jesus. Their father was compelled to carry Jesus' cross that day. He must have stayed to see Jesus crucified and hear his words. The unfair force by the Romans turned out to be, I am sure, a great blessing for Simon. I am sure he never forgot that day and was glad God chose him to carry His son's cross to Golgotha.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

If Someone Sues You...

"Whoever wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat as well." Matthew 5:40

It is amazing the degree to which we are to go to avoid conflict and bitterness. If someone sues us, we are to forgive them and give them what they want. I can surely imagine Jesus doing this. He cared nothing for money or possessions. He is our example in this as in all things. I also believe he would help us if we lost things we need. He would supply all our needs.

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
And if any man will sue thee at the law - Every where our blessed Lord shows the utmost disapprobation of such litigations as tended to destroy brotherly kindness and charity. It is evident he would have his followers to suffer rather the loss of all their property than to have recourse to such modes of redress, at so great a risk. Having the mind averse from contentions, and preferring peace and concord to temporal advantages, is most solemnly recommended to all Christians. We are great gainers when we lose only our money, or other property, and risk not the loss of our souls, by losing the love of God and man.

Coat, cloak
The former, the shirt-like under-garment or tunic; the latter, the mantle, or ampler over-garment, which served as a covering for the night, and therefore was forbidden by the Levitical law to be retained in pledge overnight (Exodus 22:26Exodus 22:27). To yield up this without resistance therefore implies a higher degree of concession.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Do Not Resist an Evil Person.

"You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,' but I say do not resist an evil person but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also."  Matthew 5:39

The commentaries I read said this meant to not seek personal revenge. That we should remember how Jesus acted when he was slapped on the night of his trial. He did not lose his temper. He did ask, "If I have said anything wrong, tell me what it was. But if I have told the truth, why do you hit me?" John 18:23

In the Old Testament, in the civil laws God gave the Jewish nation, God sometimes said that whatever a man did to you, then the same could be done to him. This was a law of "like for like" that later on the Greeks and Romans adopted. This was never to be done personally but by the magistrate. Personal retribution was banned.

Jesus is showing us a better way. Forgiveness of wrongs done to us may melt the heart of the person who hurt us. It may lead to his repentance and conversion. God allowed many things in the old days, but civilization had progressed and was ready for a higher standard. In old England punishment for stealing was too strict, in the old West they used to hang men for horse stealing or cattle rustling. Laws change as society changes, and usually for the better.

Like Rhonda said, God allowed certain things like divorce because of the "hardness of your heart." That time was over with the coming of Christ. He came to live a perfect life and set a perfect example so we would have no excuse to act with hatred and revenge.