The Kingdom of Heaven: Not Bread Alone

16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

(Matt. 6:14-8, NKJV)

Matthew 6 has so far focused very much on humility. Do good deeds out of humility only. Pray out of humility only. And now Jesus commands us to fast out of humility only.

Since we’ve already talked about so much about humility, it would seem repetitive to dive further into that now. So instead, I’m going to take a slightly different bent and focus on fasting itself.

Most of us probably do good deeds. . . tithe a percentage of our income, do some volunteer work, and overall just try to be nice to people. Maybe we don’t do as much as we should, but at least we do something.

And most of us probably pray. . . at mealtimes, at church, or in privacy. Again, maybe we don’t pray as often as we should – but at least we do it sometimes.

But how many of us have fasted? Even once? Continue reading

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Who Is Jesus?

I was reading through my last journal and found an entry from February 2017 dedicated to this question of “Who Is Jesus?” Someone had asked it of me, as a sort of “homework assignment,” and I had written my thoughts down at the time. Now I’d like to share them with you:

Who is Jesus?

How would I answer this to someone who doesn’t have a clear understanding of who Jesus is? Continue reading

The Kingdom of Heaven: Perfect Love

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

(Matt. 5:43-48, NKJV)

Jesus has just told the crowds to turn the other cheek, to show kindness even when it’s not natural to do so. But just in case you didn’t quite get it the first time, He expounds on this tough idea.

The common saying of the day was to love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But only half of that was actually based in Scripture: Continue reading

The Kingdom of Heaven: Mercy Triumphs over Judgment

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Matt. 5:38-42, NKJV

Human nature cries out for justice from even the earliest age. One child slaps another, and receives a slap in return. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a strike for a strike. If you don’t do this for me, then I won’t do it for you.

But our sinful human nature often isn’t content with justice. The child doesn’t return an equal slap; he tries to one-up it and strike harder. It becomes eyes for an eye, teeth for a tooth, blows for a slap. And true justice doesn’t end up happening. Continue reading