Beyond the Manger: December 3, 2015

Matthew 5:21-26 (NRSV)

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister,[a] you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult[b] a brother or sister,[c] you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell[d] of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister[e] has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister,[f] and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court[g] with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Matthew 5:21-26 (The Voice)

21 As you know, long ago God instructed Moses to tell His people, “Do not murder;[a] those who murder will be judged and punished.” 22 But here is the even harder truth: anyone who is angry with his brother will be judged for his anger. Anyone who taunts his friend, speaks contemptuously toward him, or calls him “Loser” or “Fool” or “Scum,” will have to answer to the high court. And anyone who calls his brother a fool may find himself in the fires of hell.23 Therefore, if you are bringing an offering to God and you remember that your brother is angry at you or holds a grudge against you, 24 then leave your gift before the altar, go to your brother, repent and forgive one another, be reconciled, and then return to the altar to offer your gift to God. 25 If someone sues you, settle things with him quickly. Talk to him as you are walking to court; otherwise, he may turn matters over to the judge, and the judge may turn you over to an officer, and you may land in jail. 26 I tell you this: you will not emerge from prison until you have paid your last penny.

ADVENT STUDY GATHERING #1: Unity of believers with the Spirit

Note: Today is our first gathering time when we can come together to study the life of Jesus.  We will be looking at some of the key teachings of the Lord.  Today our focus will be on what it means to live with a spirit of unity.  The gatherings will take place in a one hour session at the church.  The groups will be at 1:00 with the same conversation being repeated at 6:00.

Devotional Content

The Sermon on the Mount is filled with difficult teachings.  Today we are experiencing some of the challenging messages that laid the foundation for the life and teachings of Jesus.  Anger and insults result in an unreconciled heart.  It is a way of describing a part to the human condition.  Regardless of our stage or station in life, we can find ourselves somewhere in this passage.  As a result, the unspoken call is a plea for holiness of heart.

The youngest member of our family just had her first birthday last month.  She is fast on her feet and filled with smiles.  Her heart is pure and her future is bright.  At this point in life, she has no need to consider judging someone else, no desire to condemn another person, or to talk bad about anyone.  It helps that she is not really talking yet!  But the point is this, I believe the Christ child was born with the ability to discern the human heart.  And as a result, we know that the Son of God came to seek and to find those who were lost in their own darkness.

That process of seeking and finding results is a great celebration on God’s part (Luke 15).  Then, when we realize that God is celebrating over our life, we discover the reality of new life.  Some speak about it as being born again.  Jesus said, “Anyone who does not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:17)

The invitation is to allow your heart to return to the posture of a child. Not condemning, judging, or unreconciled just like the heart of the Christ Child…just like the heart of the Lord today.  How’s your heart?

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