Fulfillment Embodied

Journal Entry // March 25, 2023

“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. (ESV)

Matthew 5:17

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Whenever we wonder why the Old Testament is important, Jesus fulfilled it. Whenever we question the importance of the Law in our everyday life, Jesus fulfilled it. Whenever we suggest that we simply follow Jesus by walking in love, then we must remember that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. If we are to take up our cross and follow Christ, then we must always remember that Jesus came not to abolish the Old Testament, but to fulfill it. Jesus moves into this next section of his sermon to begin unwrapping what he means in this statement. He will bring clarity and understanding into this phrase over the next thirty-one verses. Helping us to see and understand that the Law is for our health and fellowship with God. The demands of the Law have been fulfilled in Jesus and the ethics are now better understood in light of this fulfillment.

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Conduit of Praise

Journal Entry // March 22, 2023

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (ESV)

Matthew 5:16

Jesus has now reached the conclusion of his salt and light analogy and brings us to the point and purpose of living life in God’s design. We are to live life in such a way that we are active and engaging the people in the community around us. Shining our light by living a life of humble dependence upon Jesus. This humble dependent life will then be the display upon which people see the good works of God being demonstrated and performed. This in turn will stir their hearts to bring glory to the Father in heaven. I am to be like a rock of Ebenezer (1 Samuel 7:12). A memorial stone set up to remind the people of all the good and loving ways the Lord has provided for us. I am to be a stone pointing people back to the High King of Heaven. I demonstrate God’s love and mercy and goodness every day through my humble obedience and believing faith. Making much of Jesus and giving glory to my Father.

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Hiding Light

Journal Entry // March 21, 2023

Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. (ESV)

Matthew 5:15

We are the light of the world. We are the lamp that has been lit for a purpose. That purpose is the same as that of any lamp. We are designed specifically to bring the light of the gospel of Jesus to a lost and broken dark world. We are to highlight and shine forth the wonderful good news of salvation and freedom found only in the work of Christ upon the cross. We put this on a stand so that this glorious truth may give its light to everyone around us. This light of the gospel will illuminate the hearts and minds of people. It will change and transform as only the power of Christ can. This light of the gospel is the work of Christ and we are the lamps of Christ, lit to display the light and take it to the farthest corner of every house in this world.

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Light in the Darkness

Journal Entry // March 12, 2023

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (ESV)

Matthew 5:14

Just like the previous statement where Jesus declared his followers were salt, here too he makes a definitive declaration that those who have a renewed heart filled with faith and righteousness are the light of the world. It’s not that his followers can be a light or should be a light or even ought to be a light. No, Jesus is telling us that his disciples are lights. More than that, he is declaring that his people are THE light of the world. Without this light, the world would be in darkness. Just as Jesus declared that he was the light of the world, so too are his disciples as they are filled with the Holy Spirit and the righteousness of Christ.

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Salty Salt

Journal Entry // March 8, 2023

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. (ESV)

Matthew 5:13

As we live out these opening verses of the Sermon, Jesus tells us that we are now the salt of the earth. There is a lot of deep meaning packed into this small comparison. Salt was an essential preservative and seasoning among other things. In our modern times, we have lost some of the meaning of this statement and the impact that salt had on the world at the time. Regardless, the focus for me this morning as I read through this section is the idea that salt can lose its saltiness. This statement of Jesus is of major importance in my life. If salt can lose its saltiness, what does that mean for me? At a minimum, I think it means that my gospel witness will be ineffective and my spiritual impact on this world will be severely negated. In essence, if I forego the saltiness of an intimate relationship with Jesus and the life-changing union and communion with Christ, then what I am good for at this point?

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Rejoice and be Glad

Journal Entry // March 3, 2023

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (ESV)

Matthew 5:11–12

As Jesus ends this section of his sermon about the beatitudes, those blessed and approved by God, he makes a transition from talking in general terms about “blessed are those” to “blessed are you”. Why does he end this section moving to the specificity of “you”? Since it is a simple matter in my heart to hear the non-specific and not actually think he is talking about me, Jesus brings this section to a close by reminding me that he is indeed talking about me. And what is it that this personal application is telling me? It is in no uncertain terms telling me that if I am following Christ and living a beatific life, then there will be suffering and persecution in my life. This adversity will not just be esoteric and visited upon others. No, Jesus is telling me that just as people reviled, persecuted, and uttered false evils against him, so too will I receive these same trials on his account. So when they come, what am I to do? I am to rejoice and be glad!

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Blessed Persecution

Journal Entry // March 1, 2023

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)

Matthew 5:10

Those that are satisfied in their hunger and thirst for righteousness will express this satisfaction through a life of mercy, purity, and peacemaking.  They will be blessed themselves as they live a life devoted to blessing others. Don’t we all want to be involved and engaged with people who are merciful, pure in heart, and makers of peace? The last beatitude can be seen as a summation of what we can expect if we are living a satisfied life in the righteousness of Christ. This beatific life, this last blessed announcement that Jesus proclaims is to set a proper expectation of what we will receive in this world as we live a satisfied life in Christ. We can expect persecution. Jesus tells us that we are blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. When others bring persecution because they see Jesus in us, we can rest in the understanding that ours is the kingdom of heaven. The assurance of salvation and our heavenly reward can be found in the trials and adversity that are brought upon us simply because we act like Jesus.

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Makers of Peace

Journal Entry // February 26, 2023

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (ESV)

Matthew 5:9

As I am satisfied in the righteousness of Christ alone, my life will be a reservoir of mercy, purity, and peace.  These three qualities will be in such abundance in my life that I will become an agent of mercy, purity, and peace as I move from someone in need of receiving to one who gives. That is the thrust of this verse I am looking at now. “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Blessed are those so full of peace, mercy, and purity that they become makers of peace in the lives of those they engage with. They are not just at peace with God and with themselves. They are not just at peace with those around them. They are not just peaceful people that others find enjoyable. No, they are peacemakers. They are actively engaged in the act of bringing the peace of Christ to any and every person in any and every situation. Their abundance of peace and mercy demonstrates and encourages peace around them. They are true makers of peace.

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A Pure Heart

Journal Entry // February 19, 2023

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (ESV)

Matthew 5:8

As Jesus continues on in the Beatitudes and the expressions that flow from a heart that is truly hungering and thirsting after the righteousness of Christ, the second expression he mentions is that of a pure heart that will see God. It is important to note that Jesus is calling us to live a life of purity not in our outward external visible conduct and actions. He doesn’t tell us that the pure in deeds or the pure in actions will see God. No, the call is to have a pure heart. Purity of heart encompasses the external actions that are seen by everyone but exposes the motives, desires, and affections that are driving those external actions. The phrase, “pure in heart” is a call to not live a double-minded life but to be in spiritual synchrony with the mind of Christ. Purity of the heart is the central theme of a life of worship where we love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. Our inner life and our outer life are of a singular purpose.

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Intentional Mercy

Journal Entry // February 15, 2023

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (ESV)

Matthew 5:7

In this review of the Beatitudes, Jesus has now come to the life expressions that flow from a heart that is truly hungering and thirsting for the righteousness that is found only in Christ.  The first expression of this satisfied heart is mercy. The blessed are those that give mercy to others. Yet, it means a bit more than the mere notion that I am only to show mercy at certain moments in life or at critical public junctions. At a minimum, it means that when the public opportunity arises for mercy to be displayed that I show mercy. It also means that in those private one-on-one moments where opportunities arise for mercy to be displayed that I show mercy. But to be merciful, true Christ-like mercy, is to have a heart full of mercy. Being merciful is not just showing mercy at random moments of injustice in life. Being merciful is living each and every moment with merciful intention. A heart beating in rhythm with my Savior is one that overflows with mercy for everyone, including myself.

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