Matthew 5, Verses 1-16
1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Believers Are Salt and Light, Christ Fulfills the Law
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 6, Verses 1-15
Giving to the Poor and the Lord's Prayer
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
The Beatitudes & the Lord's Prayer - I often think of the Beatitude, "bless are the meek for they shall inherit the earth," in correlation with the Lord's Prayer and God's judgement. I imagine a new earth where the Beatitudes are carried out in the flesh, as well as in the Afterlife. In the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 it says, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven." I long for the days when the earth is filled with meekness and blessedness. Man's ability and freedom to sin and do evil and mess things up will finally be resolved one day. But I must remember that God's blessings are already upon us, and that his mercy, grace and justice are active in the world today according to His will. His judgements are also upon the earth and mankind today. His spiritual kingdom reigns here and a life in Heaven is obtainable. The Beatitudes show us what God and his Son embrace, and also teach what we humans should value - "shall" is a very strong verb and each Beatitude expresses God's will. This is one of the most beautiful teachings of Jesus Christ.
Believers Are Salt and Light & Christ Fulfills the Law - Salt increases the existing taste of food. It also serves to preserve meat and poultry and keeps it from spoiling. Salt was a high commodity during the time of Jesus when he referred to it, as it was highly useful and delightful. Light provides life, warmth and sight for ourselves and the world around us. So as followers of Christ and fellow humans we must find ways to make increases towards the good, preserve morality and the Law, and shine before others to glorify God as Jesus said. In this section he also says we shall teach righteousness and not pick from the Law only what we like. When Jesus says we must surpass the righteousness of scribes and Pharisees to enter the kingdom of heaven, we might wonder how. They were higher class citizens who taught righteousness. However, they failed that task and Jesus was very upset with them in his day. We can learn from those interactions in the New Testament, and go to task with more success.
Giving to the Poor and the Lord's Prayer - Hypocrites are mentioned more than once in Matthew 6. We hear the allegations of hypocrites in unison with Christianity often. Jesus says that a hypocrite prays to be noticed, or gives to others to be noticed. Jesus mentions that giving to be noticed by others is not rewarded by God. God knows what we do in private and he knows our hearts. Oh my! Jesus provides us with His Lord's Prayer so we know how we might pray before God. This prayer brings Christians together from all denominations and faiths - it is even recited at AA meetings even though many at AA do not even profess Christianity. It is that popular, and I remember reciting it every Sunday at the church I attended as a youth. At the core of that prayer is a willingness to be forgiven by God in the same manner we forgive others. Given what Jesus did for the forgiveness of our sins, is it much to ask that we may follow suit in having a strong forgiving attitude towards others? I should be careful not to skip the core messages of the Lord's Prayer when I speak it or think it. I will review this prayer in depth and understand its meaning more. Then it is key for me to remember that when I pray my own prayers before God what core message I want going up for His ears to hear. Learn from the example of Jesus.
During the Christmas season we commemorate traditions, music, and decor from several sources and places. We adopt several traditions from Roman winter festivals, and add new traditions surrounding Santa Claus and giving This season's giving is based on what we are blessed to have ourselves, and most usually blessings abound. I love Christmas trees, hot chocolate and giving that perfect gift, but I am reminded of You in the midst of what seems an overdone holiday at times. Christ is the most important reason for the season, and today I remember his words. Some of my favorites are: "the meek will inherit the earth" and "that Your will be done on earth like it tis in Heaven" - those two statements go together. Jesus was born this time of year, and He was the light that came into the world over two thousand years ago. That is as relevant now as it was at the time of his birth. Joy to the world! Jingle bells! May your season be merry and bright! Merry Christmas! In Jesus name, the Great Redeemer, Amen.
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