Jul 142016
 

tshirt_design_our_fatherIntroducing The Lord’s Prayer

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”

I have just embarked on a project to write a short devotional book on Christian prayer, with an emphasis on the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray – known commonly as The Lord’s Prayer. As this project will preoccupy most of my free time over the coming months, I intend, with Michael’s continued blessing, to preview material for the book here for your edification and to elicit your feedback.

“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1 ESV)

As I was writing this preface, I surveyed “bestselling” books at a popular online Christian bookstore with an expectation that there is no shortage of books on prayer. In fact there is an almost overwhelming selection of popular books on Christian prayer to choose from, many of which are written by well-known authors. Perhaps on account of the popularity of this topic, it is not uncommon today to hear of (or from) Christians referred to as “prayer warriors.” There was even a faith-based movie released in 2015, War Room, which featured prayer warriors as the leading characters. It appears there are a lot of Christians, at least in America, who have the same desire as the disciples in Luke’s Gospel: “teach us to pray.” Did Jesus hold back and leave His disciples’ request unfulfilled? Or have many Christians simply ignored Him?

Over the years, I, personally, have read many books and articles on prayer, but most of them did not move the needle on my prayer life. Some of them, instead of helping me improve my prayer life, actually had the opposite effect, setting me up for failure, leaving me with a sense of inadequacy at prayer and, as a result, feeling guilty that I was not functioning as a faithful Christian when it came to prayer.

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matt 6:6)

There is no question that Jesus commands us to pray, and that He attaches many great promises to prayer. However, prayer does not come naturally or easily to many of us. And the obstacles to a healthy prayer life are exacerbated by the way in which prayer is sometimes portrayed and taught in popular circles within American Christianity and Christian literature.

There were many reasons and excuses for my failure to regularly pray: procrastination; impatience; busyness; inability to organize my thoughts (especially around traumatic events); inability to discern the appropriate petition; weariness; or sometimes a resentful or guilty conscience. Most of the popular books on prayer, which attempt to address these problems, recommend certain disciplines and forming good habits, such as scheduling personal prayer time in the morning or evening. I tried a number of habit-forming prayer disciplines over the years, but none of them stuck with me over the long term. Often the more I tried to discipline myself to pray, the less I actually enjoyed praying. I have read and talked to enough people over the years to realize that I was not alone in my desire for a healthy private prayer life or in my personal experience of frustration over my failure to actually attain one.

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matt 17:5)

I learned The Lord’s Prayer when I was very young, and I’ve attended a number of different churches over the years, some of which prayed The Lord’s Prayer weekly in worship and others which never did. But somehow it wasn’t until I began reading the writings of Martin Luther and the early Church fathers that I realized that I had never moved beyond the most superficial understanding of The Lord’s Prayer. More importantly, I began to realize that Jesus already answered the important question which, beginning with His disciples and on into our time, many of us had or still have: “Lord, teach us to pray.

As I rediscovered, studied and began praying The Lord’s Prayer in private prayer, I learned that The Lord’s Prayer serves wonderfully as the foundation for a healthy prayer life. I also noticed that I looked forward to praying; I was praying more often and often spontaneously; my thoughts and prayers were more organized; I was experiencing more contentment as a Christian; and I felt more confident that my prayers were aligned with God’s will and pleasing to Him. Jesus undoubtedly knows our weaknesses when it comes to prayer, which is why both Matthew and Luke include His teachings on prayer. What He invites us to do is “listen to him” as he teaches us to pray.

The purpose of this book is to expose the richness of The Lord’s Prayer to a generation of Christians who have not grown up with it, in a daily devotional format, to demonstrate its practicality for almost all occasions and to encourage its use in regular prayer. In the pages that follow, we will look at the Lord’s Prayer from two perspectives: (1) as a pattern for prayer – “Pray then like this:” (Matt 6:9); and as the words for prayer – “When you pray, say:” (Luke 11:2). However, this book is not intended to be an exhaustive exposition of The Lord’s Prayer; consider it an introduction with encouragement to venture further into the wisdom of this excellent prayer. I will consider this book wildly successful if readers, who are not accustomed to regularly praying The Lord’s Prayer, catch a glimpse of its beauty and practicality and begin using it in their private prayer lives.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) Amen.

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Jean Dragon – All rights reserved.

Jul 132016
 

quote-where-god-guides-god-provides-chuck-smith-144-74-62-2It’s one of the most cherished of Calvary Chapel canards…where God guides, God provides.

It is not unique to them…it’s a part of American evangelicalism.

Thus, if you’re “successful” in your ministry, that is the proof that what you’re doing is God’s will.

Big churches obviously have the attention and blessing of the Lord…the struggling brothers, not so much.

Conversely, if you strike out and are not successful…if you’re barely paying the bills and few are responding to your ministry…then obviously God’s not in it.

Paul would never have received an invitation to speak at a conference…

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.”

(Philippians 4:10–14 ESV)

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”

(2 Corinthians 6:2–10 ESV)

Let me tell you what God provides.

He provides you with the faith to remain faithful where He guides you…whether it looks successful to the world or not.

Faithfulness is usually rewarded on the other side, not here.

Here, you may be broke and broken, despised and discarded by most.

You also may be doing something only you have been called to do for the kingdom.

Be faithful…

Jul 132016
 

competitors_getI am not an alarmist by any means. 

I am one who most times maintains an even keel and likes to think that I usually maintain a relatively healthy balance when thinking through issues.  I’m probably not as successful at it as I sometimes like to think I am, but in general I think I can characterize myself as such. 

My aim for balance has probably come through here in my writings, coinciding with the conundrum of sometimes getting “stuck in the middle”.

With that said, one issue I have referenced in some of my previous writings is concerning me all the more.  We have seen it raise its ugly head again just in these past couple weeks.  

That is the growing polarization and animosity and division in our culture and country, even sometimes within the church.

Bringing up this matter is obviously not novel as it has been a big topic of discussion for the past week or so, including a bit here at this blog.  Some of the discussion which has helped to develop my thoughts.  I am sure there are others who have and will speak and write on this issue with much greater command, form, and effectiveness.  Nevertheless, here is my go at it.

I do not think we are at the edge of civil war in our country or culture.  I do not think that America is on the verge of collapse.  I’m not trying to place all these recent happenings and issues on my prophecy chart to figure out how they are signs of the end.

However, I am concerned that if our country and culture continues on with these current trends, we could eventually get to the point where war and destruction and collapse aren’t far-fetched ideas.  Since I have no prophecy chart to detail, I am not going to place a timeline on such things and I’m not going to define “eventually”, because I don’t exactly know myself what I mean by it.  But let’s say that it is a serious concern and I’m not just theorizing, “Well, anything could happen hundreds of years from now because we never know what the future holds.”

I know there is still much good in our country and culture.  I am not doomsaying.  We could very well pull back from these current trends and never come close to dismantling our country and culture.  But what if we don’t pull back and things only continue to grow worse?  What could happen then?

It seems so much nowadays that everyone is expected to choose a side.  Are you for Black Live Matters or are you for the police?  Are you pro or con LGBT?  Are you a political conservative or a political progressive?  Mac or PC?  LeBron James or Steph Curry?  I digress, but you get the point.

Once we pick a side, we are expected to ardently defend it from the evil other side.  And many times that “defending” takes the form of continuously attacking the other side and pointing out how bad they are.  There are people I know from personal conversation or Facebook postings that I know I’m going to get a regular streaming of information of everything that is wrong with the other side.  But you will rarely, if ever, hear a peep of any concern regarding their own side… unless it concerns suspected disloyalty.  They are seemingly deluded to the point where they think everything is just about perfect with their own side or else they are using a battle tactic wherein they can never admit to or show any weakness.  Unfortunately, at least in my perception, this type of behavior is only becoming greater and louder throughout the population.  I believe social media, the 24 hour news cycle, and having the world at the point of our mouse or the tap of our finger has a lot to do with this.

Even if you don’t pick a side, people will try to throw you on one side or the other:

“Oh, you expressed concern about these incidents where cops have killed black people?  How can you be against the police and just always assume they are at fault?  Don’t you know that these are all just fraudulent hypings in the media?  Don’t you know all the things wrong about Black Lives Matter?  I can’t believe you’re on their side.”

“Oh, you think homosexuality is wrong?  How can you be so close minded and bigoted and hate all these people?  How can you be against people having any rights?  You might as well go join the Westboro Baptists.”

So what do we do about all of this?  As Christians, we should be concerned with truth and righteousness and justice and also healing and reconciliation.  But how do we reconcile and promote healing with those on the “other side”?

Maybe we’d be better off if we weren’t so quick and adamant to choose sides in many circumstances.  If we weren’t so prone to defend our position and to attack the other side.  To exclaim the righteousness of our case and the follies of the other.  Yes, some may always try to pigeonhole us onto a side no matter what we say.  We can’t control what they do, but we can control what we do ourselves.

What if we sometimes laid down our battle and took the time to try to genuinely understand and empathize with the feelings and thoughts and desires of the other side?  To not always try to show them “love” by speaking the “truth”, but sometimes show love through compassion and consideration and forbearance. 

Rather than emphasizing our righteousness and superiority and their evil and incompetence, what if we spoke of our own shortcomings and the good things about the others?

Maybe if we did these things more often we wouldn’t be nearly as concerned with “sides”.  Maybe the division wouldn’t feel nearly as sharp and impassable.  Maybe the animosity would considerably lessen.  Actually, I think the chances are much greater than “maybe” that these things would happen.

Now, I am not saying we abandon what we believe to be true and right and never speak to it.  That we never point out what is wrong with what others are saying or doing.  But we need to find a balance.  Our default position can’t always be to defend our side and to attack the other.  I believe our country and culture have trended much too strongly to this default position over the last so many years.  If we continue to do so, I believe the consequences will become increasingly more dire.

You know what else about when it comes to our desires to speaking and standing for what we believe to be right and true?  We’re fallible beings.  We don’t always get it right 100% of the time.  Maybe if we took the time to reach out to and listen to the other, our collective percentages of getting things right just might go up a tick or two. 

It can’t hurt to try.       

Jul 122016
 

Today is Prime Day on Amazon with many of Amazon’s best deals of the year. Last year, Amazon sold more on Prime Day than they did on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

If you plan to buy anything on Amazon, Prime Day or otherwise, using our link helps keep us going.

If you’re not a Prime member, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime and qualify for all the Prime Day deals, regardless of whether you become a permanent member of Prime or not.

You can also access Amazon from the ad on the left hand side.

Thank you for your support!

Jul 122016
 

timthumb.phpWhen Facebook functions as a cemetery…

Am I more than my genes?

The dangers of pursuing your passion…

Evangelicals and the great Trump hope…

Perry Noble fired…

Excellent article about Perry Noble and alcoholism…

When prayer is not enough…

David Barton is an idiot…

Earning our right to be heard…

The ark is open for business…

Thoughts about Buechner on his 90th birthday…

Black and blue complementarianism…

The mega problem behind the fall of mega church pastors…

Only sinners welcome…

How nostalgia fractured the republic…

Why some Christian churches forgo federal funding…

Can we be both patriots and Christians?

The state of the American church…Part 2, Part 3

Organize your life for evangelism…

Extraordinary means of grace…

What does your tipping say about your faith?

Remembering who endorsed “Real Marriage”…

Whose blog posts are you really sharing?

Songs for a hard road…the Psalms.

There’s no such thing as free will…

10 things you should know about the love of God…

The secret things and the revealed things of God…

China’s Christian future…

Thanks to EricL for the link help…support him at top right.

Jul 112016
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aThis is Part 1 of a multi part series that will explore the situation around Saeed Abedini, his imprisonment, and his actions before and after his captivity.

When Saeed Abedini was imprisoned in Iran in the summer of 2012, the church here and abroad set about to free him with one of the biggest campaigns in recent memory.

Abedini was presented to us as an innocent missionary, a man of God imprisoned for his faith in Jesus Christ.

He was held in horrible conditions we were told, tortured and beaten, often at the edge of death.

The church mobilized as rarely before as organizations like the American Center For Law and Justice, men like Franklin Graham, and hundreds of churches and individuals took up the cause.

Millions of dollars were raised, millions of words written and messages sent to free Abedini before it was too late.

The more we learn, the more we call into question the truth of the narrative we were fed.

According to an Iranian publication these pictures were taken in the prison Abedini was in from November 2013 on.

saeed in prison 1

 

 

 

 

 

saeed in prison 3

 

 

 

 

 

saeed in prison 4

 

 

 

 

 

When I asked Abedini about these photos, he declined to comment.

Others were told that it was a trick perpetrated by the Iranian government to make it appear that he was fine.

When I personally asked him during a phone interview whether he was beaten and tortured as we were told, he continually reiterated that it had been for the first six months.

That brings into question what was going on in the two years after that.

Many of us were astonished by the fact that Saeed Abedini looked rather fit when he arrived back in the U.S.

We were further astonished to hear that Abedini had a cell phone and was able to not only communicate with his family, but to watch movies and surf the net.

These pictures may explain how that was the case….

These same pictures appeared on Naghmeh Abedini’s wall and then disappeared.

Sources tell us that she was allegedly ordered to do so by the ACLJ.

The question before the house is this…

Were Franklin Graham, the ACLJ, and Naghmeh Abedini aware of and exaggerating the truth of Abedini’s captivity?

Two years ago, the ACLJ published this;

“Pastor Saeed is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison.  There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives.  Pastor Saeed’s “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, allowing dangerous prisoners – murderers and rapists – unfettered access to him 24 hours a day.

He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene.

As a result of the robberies, the utterly deplorable conditions of the prison, and the lack of doctor-prescribed medication which is being withheld by prison authorities, Pastor Saeed’s health has quickly deteriorated.

The pain in his stomach has returned and he is now experiencing increased pain in what he described to his family as his kidneys.  As a result of repeated beatings in Evin prison, Pastor Saeed suffered from internal bleeding.  After months of being refused medical care, Pastor Saeed was allowed to see a doctor and was prescribed medication earlier this year.  As a result of that medication, his physical condition had improved and his pain had subsided.  However, since being moved from Evin to Rajai Shahr last month, Iranian officials have refused to allow him this critical medication and his condition is worsening.

He is being refused medication, prescribed by Iranian doctors, for injuries he sustained from prison beatings.  This is one of the most deplorable human rights violations imaginable.

To make matters worse, the prison conditions and lack of basic hygiene have led to his body being covered head to toe in lice.  Because of the lice and increased pain, Pastor Saeed has been having trouble sleeping.  He is also experiencing symptoms of recurring urinary tract infections.  There is no medication to stop the infections.  He is now also experiencing significant joint pain.

His family reports that Pastor Saeed has also noticeably lost weight in the new prison from lack of proper nutrition.

The conditions he faces are unfathomable.  He faces direct threats to his life on an almost daily basis.

…The time is now to pressure Iran for his release.  Each day could be his last.”

Were the conditions of his captivity continually exaggerated to keep attention on his plight?

Some sources say yes… and that Naghmeh Abedini was allegedly instructed by others to lie about them when she had questions herself..

We received this statement from Mrs Abedini’s representative;

“During her husband’s imprisonment, Mrs. Abedini’s driving concern was always the safety of her husband and she followed the advice of the counsellors that were helping her achieve that end. Her information regarding Saeed’s prison experience came directly from him and those who visited him, and when they were able to be in contact, he actively directed her in what he expected her to do.

Now that Saeed has been released, she is praying for the restoration of her family”

Let me be clear…any imprisonment is painful and difficult.

However, the public would have interceded without any embellishment of the facts.

It is purported that Abedini’s situation was a cash cow for both Graham and the ACLJ, as well as a political tool for those hoping to stop the Iranian nuclear deal proposed by President Obama.

Framing his captivity in the direst possible way would have enabled the donations to keep flowing and kept the story on the front burner of American media.

Thus, the public in general (and the church in particular) were possibly subject to, if not outright fraud, gross misinformation.

Today, Saeed Abedini will speak at your gathering…for a reported 7500.00…using the old narrative.

If this narrative is a mixture of fact and fiction, it was mainly propagated by Naghmeh Abedini who tirelessly traveled the world to advocate for her husbands release.

While I believe she is complicit in whatever untruths were spread, I also believe that she was quite possibly a victim of powerful men, especially her husband.

It was that abuse that she said caused her to cease her advocacy and that we will examine more closely in the second part of this series.

phoenixpreacher@gmail.com

Jul 092016
 

thumbnail.aspxWe would as soon you were stable and reliable.

We would as soon you were predictable

and always the same toward us.

We would like to take the hammer of doctrine

and take the nails of piety

and nail your feet to the floor

and have you stay in one place.

And then we find you moving,

always surprising us,

always coming at us from new directions.

Always planting us

and uprooting us

and tearing all things down

and making all things new.

You are not the God we would have chosen

had we done the choosing,

but we are your people

and you have chosen us in freedom.

We pray for the great gift of freedom

that we may be free toward you

as you are in your world. Amen

From the book, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers by Walter Brueggemann

Jul 092016
 

bible-word-of-god_thumbMatthew 5:33-48

Oaths

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’

 

Wow, you would think that taking an oath and standing by the oath would be a good thing.

34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,

  • But Jesus said; do not take an oath in the first place.
  • Heaven or earth or Jerusalem is all the same as invoking God’s name.
  • This is not to a specific commandment, but could be tied to the 2nd “not taking the Lord’s name in vain.”
  • The understanding here is that in this culture, there had developed a grand system of elaborate ranking of oaths by their Validity and Binding.
  • What was the highest you swore on as a kid?

35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.

  • All of these include “I swear on my grandmother’s grave.”
  • What are you going to swear by that matters or that you have control of?

36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.

  • You can’t even swear by yourself as you have no control over yourself.

37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

  • Have the reputation where your YES or NO are believed.
  • As disciples of Jesus, we are not to use words lightly.

** Jesus continues his authoritative exposition of the divine intent of the Torah ***

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’

  • This is not punitive, but is the proper limitation of punishment.
  • If you do something the proper action should be equal – not “you poked out an eye, I am going to cut your head off.”
  • It was meant to be the Biblical admonition = just penalties and recompense.
  • What was happening was everything was turning into keeping score – tit for tat – Do unto others before they can do it to you
  • LXX Exodus 21:24 = eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
  • Lev 24:20 = “bruise for bruise, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as any one may inflict a blemish on a man, so shall it be rendered to him.
  • Deut 19:21 = “And the rest shall hear and fear, and do no more according to this evil thing in the midst of you. Thine eye shall not spare him: thou shalt exact life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”
  •  Retaliation = Revenge

39 But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

  • This is personal to the person and not in the civil realm.
  • Societies & Governments need to live by the law or they invite chaos.
  • This goes to the doctrine of the 2 kingdoms.

40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

  • These 23 verses contain one thought.
  • Instead of a spirit of grudging recompense and quick revenge – Jesus calls us to lives of reckless generosity and naiveté.
  • If we are to err, it should be on the side of not retaliating, But yielding – of giving or being taken advantage of.
  • But Luther also warned – “Christ is not telling me to give what I have to any scoundrel that comes along and to deprive my family of its or others who may need it and whom I am obliged to help, and then to suffer want myself and become a burden to others.”
  • He is not saying that we should give and lend to everyone, but “to him who begs from us.”, that is the one who really needs it.”

What about your attitude towards your Enemies?

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

  • So why be good? It looks like God hands out his goodies to all equally.
  • Now understand that my objection comes as a true baby boomer, who expects things to be fair.

46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

  • A great statement of the law – left by itself.
  • How does it sound if I send you out of here with just that message?
  • But in reality, this is gospel in that the only way we can get this perfection, is that Jesus gives us His perfection in the Great Exchange.

 

 

 

Jul 092016
 

bible-word-of-god_thumbMatthew 5:17-32

Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

  • Matthew has spent great time to show Jesus as the fulfillment.
  • What is the difference between abolishing the Law vs Fulfillment?
  • The contract is kept.
  • Jesus could have declared bankruptcy for all of us or he could work off our debt.
  • Same with Prophets and Prophecies – Jesus is the fulfillment
  • Jesus IS the New Temple – Jesus IS the Promised Land – Jesus IS all the Ark of the Covenant.

18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

  • Nothing just goes away – Jesus makes it go away
  • Accomplished – When? How? – By Whom?
  • How about this – At the Crucifixion and Resurrection
  • At THIS time Heaven & Earth passed away and God began the New Creation.
  • Tricky verse because it could mean the Law is still upon us.
  • We should be observing “No cooking a goat in its mother’s milk.
  • Modern day version – no cheese burgers!
  • What is he saying about the law?
  • God’s eternal will or the written law = Torah?

19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

  • Are there different levels of heaven?
  • Are there different levels of Christians in heaven?
  • A heavenly cast system?

20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

  • If you are going to do it by your “own righteousness” – then you had better be darn good at it.
  • Those of us “in Christ” have gained Christ’s righteousness – therefore we have exceeded the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees

Anger – In this section it is like Jesus is saying “you think you have kept the commandments? Not even close.

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’

  • When Jesus says “You have heard that it was said to those of old” – who said that? Where would they have heard that?
  • Is that just a general how the law was read?
  • Today we would quote chapter and verse – “in Exodus 1:1 it says…”
  • 2nd part of verse – this is just “do the crime you must do the time.”

22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

  • YIKES!!!
  • People – Individuals – You & Me – we read the Law in a way that excuses ourselves – in a way that allows us to squirm out.
  • Jesus closes the loopholes.
  • It’s not just taking life- destroying life, but the command is to preserve life in the way it was originally meant to be.
  • Don’t make your brother’s life miserable.

23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

  • Reconciliation vs Problem Solving
  • We all understand problem solving = I just won’t deal with that person again!! Problem solved.
  • What does Jesus require?

25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.

26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

  • Settle up – make amends. Make peace quickly with all.

Lust

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’

  • Does this show the oral tradition of scripture knowledge – that very few people actually read the Bible?

28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

  • What is the real nature of our sin?
  • Guys might say “well, if she did not dress that way, I wouldn’t look.”
  • But this is not so – we could put our women in Burkas and we men would be trying to figure out / imagine what was under the Burka.
  • That is the way we are wired

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

  • There you go – a solution to avoid sin.
  • Is Jesus playing with words or is he serious?
  • If you want to get to heaven on your own you had better start getting rid of body parts
  • Origen

30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

  • Again, this may be hyperbole; Jesus may be trying to show how pervasive sin is in our lives and how helpless we are to correct it…
  • Or, maybe not.

Divorce – we will see divorce in more detail in ch 19

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’

32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

  • What is the “But I say…” Can Jesus override or add to the Law?
  • This is so important because of the destructive nature of divorce on the family – that there is a double whammy.
  • What was the status of divorced women – shame, no work, dependence on society?
  • But there is forgiveness.

 

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