Change of Direction

Matthew 5:17. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

I learned to type on an old-fashioned manual typewriter.  You had to return the carriage at the end of each line. There was a lever on the right side of the carriage to facilitate that move.  If I had one of those machines, I’d be tempted to return the carriage before going on to this verse.  Time for a new thought, a new paragraph.  Indent!  (Only the aged will remember all that).

This verse could be considered the beginning of Part Two.  Jesus now speaks as the One Who is greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:12). He speaks with greater authority than Moses or any other prophet, simply because He has greater authority. He is  The Authority! We need to listen when He speaks. 

It was His finger that engraved the stone tablets with the Old Testament law. It was He Who revealed the visions to the prophets. We need to understand exactly Who He is, and with what authority He speaks.

After hearing the description Jesus had just given concerning the heirs of the kingdom, the disciples probably wondered, then, if He were setting aside the whole Old Testament law.  Jesus clarifies in this verse that He is not there to set aside the law, but to fulfill it. 

What an absolutely wonderful thing for us to ponder on this day before Resurrection Sunday!  His death, His blood shed to atone for the sin of all mankind, was the beginning of the fulfillment of the law.  His resurrection completes the  atonement and guarantees eternal life with Him for those who accept this amazing gift of God. 

I could say a lot more about this, and maybe I will next week. Today, I’m busy getting ready for tomorrow when we will celebrate the triumphant resurrection of the Lord Who made the heavens and the earth; His ultimate victory over sin and death; and His great, wondrous, amazing love for us. 

Christmas is wonderful, and I love it. But to celebrate the completion of His work on earth is the most joyous holy day we can enjoy. 

Mustard Seed Budget

DownloadedFileThe same multitude that hailed King Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem — in a matter of days, shouted “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” And that scares me. I see myself in that crowd.

You see, it’s not all their fault. They were let down. They were disappointed. Here they went through all this effort, waving palm branches, throwing their garments on the ground, shouting “Hail the king!” — and that was dangerous! (Because it made them known enemies to the Roman authorities.)

60456_10151492002954939_384388666_nThey fully expected Jesus to throw off the hated gentile empire and inaugurate a new age of David’s throne. No doubt hundreds of people were waiting His bidding. So what did Jesus do?

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. — Mark 11:11 NIV.

Are you…

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Childhood Sexual Abuse: What to Look For

If you suspect that someone has been or is molesting your child, you need to pay attention to your gut. Here are some signs you may notice:

1. A mild or very strong personality change in the child.  He becomes withdrawn, quiet and secretive.  He cries much more easily than is normal for him.

2. You discover your child masturbating. This happens with both boys and girls.  It DOES NOT always mean there has been abuse; however, especially for a very young girl, it is cause for some pointed conversation.

3.  The child seems fearful of someone she used to love.

4.  The child is playing with dolls, action figures, stuffed toys, in ways that are overtly sexual.

5.  The child seems far more interested in his own sexual parts than he used to be.

6.  If the child has spent a great deal of time alone with someone (male or female) and then begins to object to being left with that person, you need to investigate.

7. Your child begins to do what, in my work, we call “acting out.”  I remember a set of foster parents telling me that their four-year-old long-term foster daughter came home from a weekend with her father and behaved in a very sexual manner toward her foster father, walking suggestively, pulling down her pants in front of him, etc.  All things she had never done before.

8. Your child tells you someone has  touched, hurt, threatened, or even just watched her in a way that scares her.  Always, without fail, follow up on these types of statements.  Children rarely lie about this issue.  If she is old enough to bathe herself, and her father, uncle, cousin, brother, or friend want to “help” her take a bath, pay attention.

9.  Older kids are better at hiding abuse, and are often threatened that the molester will hurt someone else that the child loves; or that no one will believe her; or that he LOVES her, and this is how you show love.  Molesters are extremely good at intimidating a child and/or convincing the child that he “wants it,” that it is the child’s fault.

The bottom line here is to pay attention.  Most molesters of little children are people they know and that they or the family trusts.  Sadly, this particular crime tends to stay undetected because the child is afraid to tell, or when he does, he is not believed.  It comes down to the molester’s word against the child’s word.  Guess who usually wins.

I feel as if I’ve left out something important here.  Hang on a minute.

Yes.  I did.  Three other things:

10. The child has frequent urinary tract infections

11.  The child seems to be in pain, may try to avoid bowel movements

12.  The child does not want anyone to see him undress or to see him naked.

Awful, isn’t it?  Even worse is that adults in the child’s life may see the symptoms and go into complete denial.  When that happens, the cycle of abuse and cover-up can continue indefinitely.

Shine Your Light

Matthew 5:16. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

We have learned that we are to be lights in the world. We are to reflect the incredible glory of the  Light of the World so that all will be drawn to Him, and to bring glory to His Name. 

This verse tells us that, just as you do not hide a candle under a bushel, but put it up on a candlestick to give light to many, so are we to allow our lights to shine so that others may see. . . .

Our good works. The Weymouth New Testament says this: Just so let your light shine before all men, in order that they may see your holy lives and may give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.

We are not drawing attention to ourselves by being lights in the world. Rather, by our holiness  of living in Christ, we are to draw attention to Him. Goodness of character is notable.  It always has been.  Those whom God favors because of their purity  and holiness  just seem to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes they are mocked and ridiculed for being so straight (and I use that word the way it was used when I was a teen, not in the sense of sexual orientation.) A little earlier generation than mine may have said, “Square, dude.”

It is very sad to me that often, when a person  is walking close to God, the ridicule comes from other believers. Their godliness is an offence to us. Why is that, do you think?  Is it because their holiness works conviction in our hearts? Are we just doing a shift of blame, so we feel better about our own sin? 

Our good works will reflect on and glorify the Father.  It is not I, but Christ.  

One of the highest compliments a person may receive is that he is known to stand for righteousness.  May it be so for us, and may we not be guilty of accusing a righteous man of being self-righteous  because he makes us squirm with shame over our own sin. 

The whole point is to bring people to Christ. 


Hide it Under a Bushel? No!

Matthew 5:15. “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick: and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”

It makes no sense to light a candle and then block off most of the light by hiding it under a bushel basket, does it?  What good is the light if it is hidden? 

It is our responsibility, as heirs of the kingdom, to let our light shine before men in order to bring glory to God, and to bring others to Him.  II Corinthians 4:6 says, “For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

That’s our job. 

Are we doing it? 


Matthew 5:14. “Ye (heirs of the kingdom)  are  the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” (parentheses mine)

This picture reminds me of the song little children used to sing; maybe they still do. “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine all the time. Let it shine ’til Jesus comes . .”

We Christians, heirs to the kingdom, are to be lights in this world. When the early settlers came to America, they claimed this verse.  They wanted to be that city set upon a hill; to found a new world built on the principles of God’s Word. 

We are not light in and of ourselves. The light we are responsible to shine is that which is reflected from Him, Who is the Light.  The light is not that of our good works, our obedience to all the rules, our own righteousness.  It is the Light of Jesus Christ, not to glorify ourselves but to glorify Him. 

I have a friend who is a gifted musician.  Any time she receives a compliment for her piano playing or her singing, her response is, “To God be the glory.” 

That’s what I’m talking about. 

Salt of the Earth

Matthew 5:13. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

The heirs of the kingdom of heaven are the salt of the earth.  What does salt have to do with anything?  Isn’t it just something we over-use on our pork chops?  Well, no, not really. Most of us are aware that salt had, and still has, several uses other than flavoring food. 

Salt is a preservative.  It has been used for a very long time to preserve meat, for instance.  Salt pork was a staple for years on long sea voyages.  The meat would be salted down and sealed in barrels, and used over time.  But eventually the salt would lose its strength, and the meat would begin to grow wormy. Salt can lose its effectiveness. 

Salt was used to cleanse a wound. Again, it had a preservative effect.  From what I understand, it stung like fire when poured or rubbed into a wound, but it did have a cleansing effect. 

I remember my dad pouring salt on the huge, ugly slugs in Oregon that destroyed my mom’s flowers.  It dried them up and killed them.  Salt absorbs harmful liquid, in some cases, and again acts as a preservative. 

A quick scan of Google results for “uses for salt”  gave me 103,000,000 hits and over 14000 uses for salt.  Amazing, isn’t it?  I remember seeing the Great Salt Lake in Utah when I was a kid, feeling the buoyancy  when lying in the water.  Of course, we all know about the Dead Sea in Israel.  I remember learning in science class somewhere that when there is an inlet to a lake or pond, but no outlet, eventually the body of water will die. I’m not sure that’s what has happened in the Dead Sea, but I know it’s really salty down there. 

When Jesus told His disciples that they were the salt of the earth, I believe He was talking about the influence of believers to help curb corruption in the earth. Any society, culture, community, or nation is influenced for godliness when godly people live out what they believe. 

What happens when believers lose their strength?  When they succumb to the ways and practices of the ungodly?  When they no longer see sin as sin, but only as “mistakes”? The salt loses its savor, and becomes useless.  When salt is no longer salty, it is thrown out on the street and walked on by whoever passes by. 

Another use for salt, back in Bible times, was to keep anything from growing in a conquered land. Soil with too much salinity will not grow good crops. I’ve actually heard some people say that there can be “too much salt, too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.” And my response to that is simple: There can never be too much Jesus.

Our problem in this world is not, and never has been, too much of God.  

Blessed are Ye. . .

Matthew 5:11-12. “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be  exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Jesus changes direction with this verse.  In the previous blessings, He has said, “Blessed are they.” Now, He is directing His comments specifically to His disciples: “Blessed are ye.”

These two verses describe the heirs of the kingdom as sufferers, and persecuted in the earth.  We who believe are the children of God.  The world did not know or accept Him, and it will not know or accept us. We shouldn’t be surprised to be hated for our stand or our standards; we are supposed to be different, after all.  It is my experience that what we do not understand, we mock and hate, and hold up for ridicule.  The world does not understand biblical purity; it does not understand conformity to God’s Word. 

What is so sad to me is that so many who claim to be believers have accepted  the world’s preferences for the way we ought to live our lives, believing that as long as no one is hurt, anything is acceptable. 

We forget that what may be acceptable to us is NOT acceptable to a holy, pure, sinless God. 

During the Tribulation, the time of “Jacob’s trouble,” there will be suffering for righteousness’ sake as never before. Many faithful Jewish witnesses will be killed for His sake. They will receive great reward (Revelation 20:4).

The first seven blessings refer to the earthly glory of the coming kingdom; the last two verses speak of their reward in heaven. He comforts them by reminding them that the prophets who came before them were persecuted, mistreated, even killed for their faith and for their warnings to the people. 

In the next three verses, we will learn what the heirs of the kingdom are in the earth.