06.5 BSF Matthew Week 6, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

I don’t think Christians are called to be ignorant pansies that are constantly taken advantage of, bullied and abused.  We are not called to be a doormat for others to simply wipe their feet on.

We are called to follow our mission.  If we are following it fully, if we are truly committed to that mission then it and it alone is critical in everything we do and every decision we make.  When you are a soldier in battle you don’t decide to ignore the mission because you don’t want to get your uniform dirty.  When you are a surgeon with a patient on the table you don’t decide to operate of some other part because it is easier and quicker.  You stick with the mission – it is what it is all about.

Our mission is simple.  We heard it last week.  Be salt and light to the world.  Take the strength and word and light of God and use it to witness, heal, baptize and save.  Period.  That is the mission.

If walking a mile accomplishes that – walk the mile.  If giving up a shirt accomplishes that, give up the shirt.  But, in all of it, stay true to the mission.  If giving someone your shirt does not bring them closer to God, then the mission is not to give shirts – it is to figure out what brings them closer to God.

One of my friends talked about an interaction with a homeless person this week at a coffee shop.  The man asked my friend, “can you help me?” and he gave him a few dollars.  But that weighed heavy on his heart.  There is nothing wrong with giving the money, and God can use that, but what if he had, instead, invited the man to sit down with him and bought him food that they shared together.  How much more could the investment of 10 minutes meant in the mission my brother carried?

I can get so focused on “what is rightfully mine” that I fall back into the trap of justice = revenge or getting even.  But this is based on a mindset of finite resources.  For me to get even I have to take it back from the person who wronged me.  But I am the child of an infinite God and creator.  There is so much more.  God honors that which honors Him!

My Answers:

If your yes is yes and your no is no, then there is no “qualification” to speaking the truth, you just always do.  There is no provision for falsehood

“To be honest with you…”  These words imply that at other times you are not honest or don’t mean it.  Hard to tell when is when and what is what

Know the truth and stick to it.  No “white lies”.

Fear and Concern over being a doormat keeps me out of ministry opportunities and witnessing to others.  I need to keep in mind what is truly important (bringing others to Christ).  If being slapped or giving a shirt or walking a mile helps with that, then, by all means, that is what I should be doing

God will honor that which honors Him.

Gal: walk with the spirt not gratify the desires of the fleshEph: Put off old self and deceitful desires, new in attitude, righteousness and holiness like God
Phil: Obey, work out with God and allow Him to act in my to fulfill His good purpose
Phil: think about: true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy


06.4 BSF Matthew Week 6, Day 4

Today’s Scripture

My Daily Journal:

When we were new parents, my wife and I learned quickly that it was not enough to tell our children what not to do, we needed to teach them what to do instead.  In addition to saying, don’t touch that or you will get cut/burned, we would instruct them where to put their hands and how to hold the item correctly.  In addition to saying pick up the floor in your room, we remind them of the rule of thumb that only things that have legs belong on the floor.

Throughout scriptures, but in particular in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is speaking as the voice of the Father in this same way.  He started it with the 8 characteristics we are to do and keep.  “Whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great”.  “First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”  “Settle matters quickly”.  Over and over again, it isn’t just “don’t do that”, but it is teaching on what to do instead.

That is why I really liked the question about practical steps.  Battling temptation isn’t just a “don’t do that” – it is a do this instead.  For example, taking just a moment to pause and try to see others around us (either in real life or in pictures or movies) through the eyes of their mother and father and grandmother and grandfather quickly and amazing changes temptation and better embodies the eyes of God.  If I am feeling angry or jealous and picture a mirror of how those emotions reflect not only on me but on my father (both earthly and heavenly), my perspective and emotions quickly change.

Satan has no new tricks.  There are no temptations that I will face that people have faced throughout the ages.  There is no temptation that the power of God has not already helped someone else defeat.

My Answers:

“Think about instead…”  If covet, think about how God is providing all my needs and joy.  If lustful eyes, envision their mother and father and grandparents and see them through those eyes.  If angry, think about my wrongs and the wrath I deserve.  Fill days with prayer and study of word.  Play christian music.

1 Cor 10:13 – there are no new temptations, same old same old – God is in control
Psalm 18:2,3  The Lord is my Rock… I called upon the Lord… and have been saved from my enemies
also: 1 Peter 5:8-9, James 1:2-3, Phil 4:8; Heb 4:15 (included in the Today’s Scripture link above)

Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.
Matt 19:8, Mark 10:5

Only in the case of infidelity

06.3 BSF Matthew, Week 6, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

1. I didn’t know for sure what the word meant so I looked it up: Raca: vain, empty, worthless, only found in Matt. 5:22. The Jews used it as a word of contempt. It is derived from a root meaning “to spit.”

2. I was moved by the 1 John 2:11 passage, “But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”

The thought it brought to mind was the realization that anger and hatred that I carry in my are like a dark spot in my eye.  That spot is blacked out and doesn’t absorb any light.  Clearly greed and lust are the same way.

So, I looked up how big of a dark spot would it take to affect my vision.  Literally.  Here is what I learned:  The receptors in our eyes are in an area called the macula.  At the center of the macula is the fovea centralis.  This is the “point of sharpest, most acute visual acuity.”  At the center of the fovea centralis is the foveola.  The closer ones cones are clustered  to this are, the better your vision.  A dark spot in this are, something blocking the cones, would have a significant impact on the ability to see and could cause blindness.  The foveola is about 0.35 mm.  In other words, a little less than half the size of this period.

So, how much anger and hatred can I allow to reside in my heart and in my eye?  This was a good visual for me (no pun intended).

I want to see.  I want to be able to see the world with Jesus’ eyes.

3. I had a whole part on trying to explain Matthew 5:25-26 but I moved it to Day 5

My Answers:

Deut 5:17 (Also Exodus 20:13)

They separated the hands from the heart.  Hatred and desire to murder someone was fine as long as they didn’t physically do it.  They followed the letter of the law but not the intent

Anger and hatred are in me as darkness.  It is impossible to be filled with the light if I have darkness in me.  Even a little darkness is blinding.

Pray, forgive, reconcile if possible – but regardless, take it out of my heart

What can I do to love and save my brother? vs. What can I do to get what is rightfully mine? Cain’s Protection (Gen 4:15) Lamech’s Arrogance (Gen 4:23-24) Eye for eye (Ex 21:23-25)

06.2 BSF Matthew, Week 6, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

In our discussion this week about moral law, ceremonial law and prophecies foretold I did some digging into the old testament prophecies and found these two great resources:

The first is a side by side list of over 350 old testament prophecies and the corresponding new testament references demonstrating Christ’s fulfillment: 351 Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

The second is a “school house rock” style video that demonstrates the probability of any of this just being “chance.”

In particular, today, I was struck by the question about the bible becoming living to me.  When I mechanically do my study, I get the mechanics of the scriptures.  I see the words.  I see the do’s and don’ts and the blessings and the warnings.  But that is all I see.  However, when I pray first and really put my mind and spirit in a time of openness to God’s revelation, I experience God’s word in such a deeper way. For example, in Sunday School recently we discussed Isaac and the blessings to Jacob and Esau (Genesis 26).  Through that study I was struck by the fact that Isaac didn’t just “take back” the blessing that Jacob received and it made me realize none of us can ever truly “take back” words that we speak.  They carry forward with a life of their own.  We can try to explain them, soften them, translate them, but once spoken we can’t unspeak them.  Then, tie that Old Testament lesson to the New Testament lesson this week about knowing the old testament teachings and speaking the truth always.

It brought to mind a good steak.  The old testament is the breed of the animal, the feed that went into it, the aging process, the marinade used, the perfect temperature of the flame, the hand of the experienced chef.  Sure, with out any of that, the steak (new testament) could still be nourishment and something for me to chew on.  But without the old testament I lose the flavor and the full experience that God intended.

My Answers:

Respect and honor.  He did not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  They are to be practiced and taught.

Through BSF and Sunday School teaching, my love of the old testament has grown in the past few years.  I have too often viewed it as out-dated and difficult – as a rule book that doesn’t apply now.

Begin with prayer.  Ask for Jesus’ help through the Holy Spirit to open my eyes and heart to how these ancient words point to Jesus and how they apply to my life today.

Study of Isaac’s blessing of Jacob and Esau – I am too casual with words, treating them like something I can take back or erase, but that isn’t the case.  Once words are spoken they take on a life of their own and carry weight.

Heb 9:27 die once and then face judgment.  Ephesians 2:9 Not by works, so that no one can boast.  Luke 18:18-27 “you know the commandments…” and “then come follow me.”

Heb 8:7-13 (quoting Jeremiah 31) Jesus is the new covenant, the old is obsolete.  For Christ is the end of the law, that everyone who has faith may be justified” (Rom 10:4), Mark 12: 28-34 – Love God and Neighbor more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
“Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me” (Psalm 40:7).
“The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
“…all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Jesus Christ, Luke 24:44)