The Heart of the Matter – 1-7-22

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. Matthew 5:17 NKJV

Pull out your red letter editions my friends! These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. And even those who agree Jesus said this, can be heard saying that they are not under law, but under grace.  As if grace and law are opposites distorting and confusing the heart of the gospel. We live in a time where Jesus fulfilled atonement law (which was grace!) and should not behave as if Christ’s sacrifice was worthless! That is what Paul meant when he told the new followers not to go back under the law. 
I mean when you look at things – it seems to be nothing but grace that God would make a way through atonement law.  But as humans failed at even that He poured out mercy on us and sacrificed His son. So if anything, we are not under mercy and should not take it for granted.

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Matthew chapter 5 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).

The Beatitudes

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the [a]earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Believers Are Salt and Light

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.

Christ Fulfills the Law

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 [b]jot or one [c]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.

Murder Begins in the Heart

21 “You have heard that it was said to those [d]of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother [e]without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’[f] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, [g]‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of [h]hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

Adultery in the Heart

27 “You have heard that it was said [i]to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to [j]sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to [k]sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Marriage Is Sacred and Binding

31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except [l]sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

Jesus Forbids Oaths

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of [m]old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let [n]your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Go the Second Mile

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 [o]But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father 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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your [p]brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the [q]tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Footnotes

a.Matthew 5:5 Or land

b.Matthew 5:18 Gr. iota, Heb. yod, the smallest letter

c.Matthew 5:18 The smallest stroke in a Heb. letter

d.Matthew 5:21 in ancient times

e.Matthew 5:22 NU omits without a cause

f.Matthew 5:22 Lit., in Aram., Empty head

g.Matthew 5:22 Gr. More

h.Matthew 5:22 Gr. Gehenna

i.Matthew 5:27 NU, M omit to those of old

j.Matthew 5:29 Lit. stumble or offend

k.Matthew 5:30 Lit. stumble or offend

l.Matthew 5:32 Or fornication

m.Matthew 5:33 ancient times

n.Matthew 5:37 Lit. your word be yes yes

o.Matthew 5:44 NU But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

p.Matthew 5:47 M friends

q.Matthew 5:47 NU Gentiles

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Numbers 23:19– “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL

We have LOTS of footnotes today and an almost unending list of cross references – because Jesus spoke the word! We could stay here all week! But, instead I have searched every verse for a common theme so we can get to the heart of it.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV

Let me propose that Jesus’s ministry, His being, and most specifically, this Sermon on the Mount, are the fulfillment of this verse from Ezekiel.  Why do I say this? Because the heart of each section of the sermon is to create a new heart – to fix your heart – to set your heart right.
(Side note – when we read Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah and Daniel, I said how these things were playing out as we were reading them… they are still rolling out and I strongly encourage extra reading in those books.)

The Beatitudes – Sunday school teaches the children that these are the attitudes to be – aka The Be Attitudes.  How does one be these things? Only by God changing our hearts!
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12 NKJV

Lord, help change our hearts. As we read through this chapter help preserve the softness of the areas that are soft and soften the areas that are not soft. In the name of Jesus we ask that you change us today! ~amen

And let us not forget there is a blessing (or 9 or more) in all of this as well!! And this year has been declared the year of the double blessing as well (multiple preachers are saying they heard this from God – so either they all are getting the same download or all listening to each other). But God does like to play with letters and numbers and 2022 seems like a double if you ask me!!! So get your heart right and BE the right ATTITUDE, and go ahead and accept the blessing and accept it twice if you’d like. At worse you won’t get double – but at least you’ll get the original blessing!

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the [a]earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matt. 5:3-12

So how else do we need to get our hearts right? Believers are Salt (fresh and in season preserving the soft heart) and believers are Light (be on fire. On fire for Christ is having the passion of your first love, when you first fell in love with Him! See? Love aka a heart issue!)

In verses 17 through 20 the passage discusses that Christ fulfills the law. And less than 10 years, and repeatedly telling this sermon to each other, they (the early church) still hardened their hearts and turned back to go under the law… so Paul, and other apostles wrote letter after letter telling people this just to have them corrupt that so now a days they justify sin by the sacrifice, by His death. Woe. How can my savior’s death justify your sin – shine light on that in this dark world!

Next the passage gives two physical examples of a hardened heart causing sin – Murder Begins in the Heart and Adultery is in the Heart! All sin begins there in your heart.  Let’s explain this concept in a New Year’s Resolution terms, for fun! So let us say you started a diet on the 1st day of January (and for ease of the example let us say you live alone). The diet says you must not have any simple sugars (aka cookies). So, many people will say having cookies in your cupboards isn’t breaking the diet. But Jesus is saying, it is! Ya see, Jesus knows us better than we know us. He knows you will get into those cookies at some point or another and no one will see, you’ve kept them in secret and then you eventual act on it. AND even if you were somehow strong enough NOT to get into them… you still have not changed your mindset if you are keeping them and not tossing them – No mindset change means the diet will not be sustained.  God isn’t about works – He is about heart. Yes, in revelations He judges your works… the works you were compelled to do as you heart softened and became in line with His heart.

So from the adultery example – he had to speak to the sacredness of marriage. As the Jews were being colonized by Rome and influence by the rise of humanism, it was the beginning of the end of holding marriage as sacred. Today you are the odd ball if you do not believe in divorce, but what about taking it a step further… what about it being sacred. Do our modern minds even grasp what this word meant to people back when Jesus said this?
I know a man who’s wife left him and divorced him many years ago. As we all age and he is alone, handsome and established many women have tried to catch his eye. And when asked why he doesn’t date or remarry and when offered lectures on grace – his response always blows me away.  He says we are looking at the superficial.  Marriage is sacred and God likens us to the bride and Jesus is the groom.  Would we want our groom to divorce us? Put us away for someone else? He made a vow to God not to his ex-wife that he would hold up the sanctity of marriage. – He understands the deep things.  He is also open to God’s will and timing, if God willed he remarry – it won’t be to one of these women throwing themselves at him! But he put it out of his mind and focuses on God.

Continuing on the deep things of the heart – why does Jesus forbid oaths? Because in verse 33-37 it opens the door, or gives a foothold, to lies – and who is the father of lies?! So even with pure intentions, outside forces can act upon you giving your word, and ruin your “word” – your testimony is also your word and we recently read in Revelations that we overcome by a few things including the “Word of Our Testimony”! If our heart has an opening for a lie what else might come from it?

It is with a deeper love, like Jesus loves that should compel us to Go the Second Mile, but if we are not yet compelled – Jesus flat out tells us to. We can do it out of obedience… but I think that would be missing the point, which is that our hearts should become so soft and Christ-like, we do it naturally right along with loving our enemies.

The whole sermon is about removing the heart of stone and giving us a new heart – His heart! Press into your relationship with Him and spend so much time with Him you begin to act like Him naturally!

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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