pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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May Love Guide

Reading: Matthew 5: 17-20

Verse 17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets… but to fulfill them”.

What does Jesus mean by “to fulfill them”? The Law and the Prophets all had the same basic function: to teach us how to live in right relationship with God and with one another. Beginning with the first laws, for example, this has always been the case. The first part of the Ten Commandments deal with our relationship with God and the rest deals with our relationship with each other. In choosing the word “fulfill” though, Jesus is not implying simply following the letter of the Law, but is hinting at how we also fully live out the intent of the Laws.

As the rest of the Sermon on the Mount unfolds, this is just what Jesus does. He begins with “Do not murder” in the next section. Jesus explains that there is so much more to this law than just not killing someone. Jesus, in essence, begins long before this step and tells us that being angry with another or speaking words of contempt put us in danger of “the fire of hell”. When we allow these evils in our heart, Jesus says we are already on the road to murder. It may not end in physical death but maybe it does end in emotional or relational death. All of this violates the rule of love that is supposed to be how one is identified as a disciple of Jesus Christ and as a child of God.

In the rest of the Sermon, Jesus unpacks laws relating to adultery, divorce, honesty, revenge, loving our enemies, giving, prayer, fasting… Each and every one has the same focus. God’s intent is not just the words on the paper but it is more. The Law and the Prophets should lead us into deeper relationship with God and one another. To get to this place, one must allow the words we find in the Bible to become the way we love, see, interact, and treat God and each other at the heart level. Please take some time today to read through to the end of Matthew 7, understanding how Jesus unpacks many more laws.

We fulfill God’s plan by loving unconditionally, by loving just as Jesus first loved us. As we read and seek to understand our Bibles, seeking to discern how to model our lives after our Savior, may love be our guide.

Prayer: God of love, I’ve heard it said that if I do not have love, I am just a clanging cymbal. I’ve heard it said that love can conquer a multitude of sins. I’ve heard it said that if I am your disciple others will know me by my love. May it be so. Amen.


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Means to Draw Near

Israel continues to celebrate the Passover with the same elements and practices of the first Passover.  The food is the same, the gathering together of family units is the same, the worship – all serve to reconnect to God and the experience of the exodus from bondage.

We too do the same.  At Easter we commonly give something up (or add in a new spiritual discipline).  When we do these things we come to points where we are physically reminded of and spiritually connected to Jesus.  When we ‘miss’ that things we gave up, we are denying ourselves as a means to remind us of the sacrifice and suffering Jesus endured for us.  When we spend extra time in study or prayer, we learn new things about Jesus or our relationship with Him.

At Christmas we exchange a gift with a loved ones.  This symbolizes and reminds us of the gift that the baby Jesus was to us all.  Almost all churches and some families light the wreath to remind them of what Jesus is to them – peace, hope, love, and joy.  Some use a holiday calendar to remember the story.

On a simpler level we sometimes fast.  By practicing the discipline of fasting, we are practicing a habit of Jesus.  When we fast we are reminded of Him every time we feel the hunger in our stomachs.  This prompts us to pray and reminds us of our need for Him.  The hunger can also be channeled into a spiritual hunger.  Our physical cravings can become a spiritual craving.  That time spent over food can become time spent in the Word and in prayer.

Like Israel and the many festivals they celebrate, we too have many means to draw near to grace.  Small or large, we have many ways to connect to God and Jesus!

Scripture reference: Exodus 12: 11-14