Journal & Bible Reflection

Expressing Faith

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. [8] For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV) As I have been reflecting and meditating this morning, I am reminded of how I generally focus on the latter parts of these promises. By this, I mean that I focus mainly on the outcome, the faithfulness of God to give, open, and reveal. This is truly important and should always be at the…

Inward & Outward

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5 (ESV) Jesus has taught that the whole of the law can be summed up in the phrase, “Love God and Love People”. This truth is continually found in the teaching of Jesus throughout the gospels and this verse is another representation of that teaching. How do we go about loving others well? We must first love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Loving God means that we are seeking…

Make No Provision

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14 (ESV) This week I have been meditating and focusing my thoughts on this verse from Romans where Paul sums up his teaching on how love is the fulfillment of the law. I was leading a small group through the larger passage of verses 8-14 and we spent a good amount of time discussing what this verse looks like in our lives as we seek to not only put on Jesus but to make no provision to gratify our fleshly desires.…

Specks and Logs

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  Matthew 7:3-4 (ESV) Continuing in his teaching on our interactions and relationships with others, Jesus further explains the role of judging in the lives of believers. As with all of Jesus’ teachings, the premise is wrapped around the basic theme of love. The first step in our relationships and dealing with other people is to always come from a heart of humility with an intention to love. This is the central and key point of…

Judging Not

“Judge not, that you be not judged. [2] For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2 ESV Patience, kindness, mercy, and grace are the characteristics and heart attitudes that should mark my interactions with others. Pronouncing eternal judgment on others should not be part of my thoughts and actions toward others. Oftentimes I want to make character decisions and judgments about others and pronounce a decree of God against a person. I want to not only evaluate and discern a person’s heart attitude and…

Love for Today

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34 ESV Jesus now brings this section on anxiety and worry to a close by reminding us of the freedom we have in Christ through all the many promises that he has presented beforehand. I have heard this singular verse spoken to me and others as if it is a cure-all for every person who is struggling with anxiousness. We want to take this ending point of the previous paragraph’s teaching and make it a commandment to…

First Priority

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 ESV All these things… the things that the Gentiles seek after and prioritize over and above God. The things that we see as daily necessities like food and clothing are often elevated to higher levels of importance in our hearts and minds than they should. All these things will be added when we are setting our hearts on the proper priority of seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. In the day-to-day movement and flow of life…

Seeking Contentment

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ [32] For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Matthew 6:31-32 ESV Jesus summarizes his teaching on anxiety in this verse with a reminder to not be anxious about our food, drink, or clothing. The anxiousness that Jesus is talking about is further clarified in the next sentence by stating that the Gentiles seek after these things. It is the fixation of our hearts and minds on material objects over…

Rich Inspiration

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:30 ESV Look around and see the breadth of God’s love and beauty in the world. The creation is God’s canvas to illustrate his tender care and compassion for all things. The beauty of nature is a living reminder of our loving God and his daily provision. Jesus continues to point us back to reality by opening our eyes to truly seeing the world, God’s creation,…

Lilly Lessons

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, [29] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matthew 6:28-29 ESV Once again, Jesus is continuing his discourse on anxiety and worry. He started this section by confirming that life is of more importance than what we are going to eat and what we are going to wear, yet these two things still pick and pull at all of us. We become anxious about clothing and possessions to such…

Pride Prolonged

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:27 ESV A life filled with anxiousness is a life spent denying the sovereign control of God over the workings of the universe and the affairs of humanity. It may be that I give ascent to the sovereign control and right that God has in being our Creator and Lord, but my everyday thoughts and words reveal the true character and nature of my heart. It is commendary to repeat the great verses of Scripture where we recite and honor the Kingship…

Bird Watching

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26 ESV There are a multitude of reasons for my tendency to be anxious and worried. I can come up with a thousand different reasons for letting my fear overwhelm me and lead me into a state of anxiety. Yet, I think this verse hits the mark for me on a deep heart level. At the heart of my struggle with worry and anxiety is an underlying doubt…

Countering Anxiety

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?   Matthew 6:25 ESV At this point in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has finished his teaching treasure in heaven and has led us to understand and apply the important mindset of serving God alone without any duplicity and with complete devotion. Having taken this principle into our hearts, we are to apply this in such a manner…

Single Serving

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24 ESV Jesus concludes this section of the sermon by giving us a summary and personal application to his command that we lay up treasures in heaven. One of the most important factors in following Jesus with humble obedience is our complete dedication and devotion to God. We are a doubleminded people who continually see our desires and affections being tempted and drawn away…

Good Eye

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, [23] but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:22-23 ESV The eye is the lamp of the body. This is a phrase that can speak to several different areas of our life. There is the thought that the eye works as a lamp to reveal the condition and state of our inner life. A healthy eye denotes…

Heart Location

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 (ESV) “Where is your treasure being stored?” This is the key question that Jesus is asking in this passage as he encourages us to examine our hearts and understand the true state of our desires and affections. The gauge of our heart is a matter of evaluating the location of our treasure. Is our treasure located here on the earth or are we storing up for ourselves a treasure in heaven where Jesus is located? The answer to this question answers the bigger question of the status…

Two Treasures

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, [20] but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:19-20 ESV The focus of the last three passages has been on engaging our hearts in giving, praying, and fasting. Jesus now sums up these three points by connecting the three spiritual disciplines with the idea of spiritual treasure. A treasure that is being stored up for us in heaven as we put them…

Secret Fasting

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, [18] that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:17-18 ESV Following up on the previous verse where Jesus pointed out the fault of the hypocrites in fasting, he now moves into a prescriptive remedy for proper fasting. This prescription is rather simple and points us to one key factor: our heart motivation. There are many different ways we can fast and humble ourselves before the Lord, but the…

Joyful Fasting

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. Matthew 6:16 ESV As with the other parts of the sermon, Jesus begins his instruction on fasting with a warning not to imitate the hypocrites who, well-meaning as they may be, corrupt their spiritual obedience by pursuing worldly praise. In this passage, Jesus points out their corruptness by emphasizing the hypocrite’s intentional disfiguring of their faces and he leaves no doubt as to their secondary or…

Relationship Maintenance

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (ESV) Matthew 6:14-15 Having reached the conclusion of this portion focused on prayer, Jesus reemphasizes the need for us to prioritize forgiveness in our life. It is quite normal to read this and think that Jesus is here telling us that our salvation needs to be secured every day, but this is not the case. As his death and resurrection have already secured our eternal salvation once and for…

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