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Hell fire

Matthew 5:21-48 To put it mildly, hell is a stark reality. But, considered rightly, it’s also one of the most liberating doctrines in the Bible.  To understand it can bring health to your soul.  But you might need some convincing about that… We’ve already said that modern people seem far more fearful of “fire and […]

Every jot and tittle

Galatians 3:26-4:7; Matthew 5:17-20 We might say “He dotted every i and crossed every t”.  A Hebrew speaker would say “He swished every jot and swirled every tittle.” “Jot” was the smallest Hebrew letter (the letter yod).  “Tittle” was the smallest stroke of a pen – a tiny flourish that was the only distinguishing mark between […]

Hiding your light under a bushel

Isaiah 42:1-8; Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus used comedy.  A lot.  Jewish comedy.  Naturally. The juxtaposition of contrasting images was central to Jesus’ communication.  He would often show up the absurdity of our lives by placing two incongruous states side by side.  The resulting shock is the stuff of comedy, and of good preaching! Here’s today’s comic […]

Ye are the light of the world

John 8:12; Matthew 5:14-16 How can Jesus call us the light of the world? If you ask a typical non-Christian how they think of the church, “Light of the world” is unlikely to feature in their response.  Surely Christians are inconsequential, impotent – dim.  Or perhaps they are compromised by hypocrisy – murky.  Or maybe […]

Salt of the earth

Colossians 4:2-6; Matthew 5:13 If we call someone “the salt of the earth” we usually mean they’re real, honest, straight-talking, uncomplicated and dependable.  Jesus had something else in mind.  Although figuring out what exactly is not easy. Jesus begins the sermon on the mount with the beatitudes in which He proclaims the present-tense blessedness of […]

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

1 Peter 4:12-19; Matthew 5:10-12 The beatitudes describe the life of the King and therefore the life of the kingdom.  They begin and end by speaking of those to whom the kingdom “belongs”– the poor in spirit (v3) and the persecuted (v10).  And in between there seems to be a progression.  We might imagine a […]

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God

2 Corinthians 5:11-21; Matthew 5:9 To be the child of a great ruler is an incredible privilege.  Others can grab precious minutes with your father if they are very important.  But you, without any of their qualifications, belong at the very heart of power. Others will call him King or President, you will call him Daddy. […]

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God

Psalm 24; Matthew 5:8 – I see through you. – My eyes are open. – I long to see the world. If a person has experienced their fair share of impurity we might say they’ve “seen it all.”  On the other hand, we call the naive person “blinkered”:  “Those innocents – bless ‘em – they’re blind to real […]

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy

Deuteronomy 10:14-22; Matthew 5:7 We all know the sayings: – Credit where none is due. – Don’t get mad, get reconciled. – God helps those who are helpless themselves. – Every lunch is a free lunch. – It’s a dog help dog world. – Survival of the feeblest… Alright I made those ones up. But […]

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled

Genesis 15:1-6; Matthew 5:6 From the Bible we can think of “righteousness” in these terms: – the goodness of God. – the blessed life in action. – setting the world to rights. When seen in its true light, righteousness is incredibly attractive.  And incredibly elusive. From its first mention in the Bible, “righteousness” is a […]