Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 30 - Matthew 5

Today's reading in our daily plan is Matthew 5. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • In today’s chapter Jesus starts a teaching that goes through chapter 7. This chapter is often called the "Sermon on the Mount."
  • The Beatitudes (verses 3-12) - Jesus begins with a list of conditions and attributes that are "blessed," which basically means happy due to God's blessing.
  • Salt and Light (verses 13-16) - Jesus says that his followers are like salt and light. We are to add good flavor and brightness to our world.
  • Fulfillment of the Law (verses 17-20) - Jesus says that He came to fulfill the law of the Old Testament.  One of the things this means is that Jesus’ death satisfies the requirements of the Law on the behalf of sinful people.
  • Murder (verses 21-26) - Jesus takes the commandment “do not murder” to a deeper level. He shows us that God is concerned about our hearts and minds as well as our behavior.
  • Adultery (verses 27-30) - Jesus also takes the commandment about adultery to a deeper level, saying we shouldn't even look at people lustfully. He says to gouge out your eye if you do so. This isn't literal. The idea is that we need to eliminate the things in our lives that lead us to sin.
  • Divorce (verses 31-32) - Jesus says that anyone who divorces (except for sexual immorality) and remarries commits adultery. We’ll hear more of what Jesus says on this topic when we get to chapter 19.
  • Oaths (verses 33-37) - We should not try to manipulate people with our words and make commitments we may not or cannot keep.
  • An Eye for an Eye (verses 38-42) - Here we find the well known phrase, “turn the other cheek.” But maybe a more challenging thought for us is, “Give to the one who asks you.” Jesus teaches that his followers should be more concerned with doing good things for other people then they are about maintaining their pride or possessions.
  • Love for Enemies (verses 43-48) - The chapter finishes with Jesus telling his audience to love their enemies. This is how God treats those that are opposed to him. And since God loves His enemies, we should too.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • God loves us and offers to forgive us, but that doesn't mean we can live any way we want. There is a right way to live that honors God and is better for us. In this chapter we learn some of what that life looks like. God's life for us often looks very different from what we're used to, but we need to embrace it.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Of the various teachings in this chapter, what do you most need to immediately apply to your life? Applying which one would make the biggest difference right now? Maybe it's to cut out what leads you to sin - perhaps by getting rid of cable television, or the internet, or maybe it's to love and reconcile with an enemy. Whatever it is, pray about it, ask God to help you, and start living it today.