(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: Matthew Ch. 5 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv. 1-12) This passage contains many catchy words that are often used to describe typical characters of God’s people. Let us contemplate this passage thorough pairs of contrasting words:
- “poor in spirit” vs. feeling good about yourself;
- “mourn” vs. insensitive to sins;
- “meek” vs. easily angered and grudging at the little things;
- “hunger and thirst for righteousness” vs. self-righteous in spiritual matters;
- “merciful” vs. indifferent to the suffering of others;
- “pure in heart” vs. impure thoughts;
- “peacemakers” vs. spreading disputes and disrupting order;
- “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” vs. to be friends with the world and compromise with the world.
As you reflect upon these pairs of contracting words, can you relate to any of these words that might happen to be one of your shortcoming areas? If so, which one area would you want to improve upon?
(vv. 13-20) It is God’s good will to bless and keep those who are obedient to God’s Law. Jesus said that he came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill them. And Jesus instructed his disciples to have their righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. It is more important for each of them to live a truly transformed life from the inside out, beyond their outward behaviors of meeting traditions, rules and laws. Do you sometimes feel like a hypocrite, who is busy in pretending himself/herself to be a good Christian? How close is your heart to the Lord? Ask the Lord to help you examine which part(s) of your life is constantly faking and help you change your heart to be more like Christ!
(vv. 21-26) If you are a person who becomes resentful easily, try to imagine this: There is a book written for you and this book has recorded the account of your every grumbling word and every evil thought toward others. Now you will need to come to man and come to God to clear up your account. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”
(vv. 27-32) If you wish to have a happy marriage, go read the Bible to know God’s purpose for marriage and the relationship between man and woman. Marriage is meant to be holy and the most intimate relationship should only exist between a husband and a wife. Nowadays, the relationships between sexes have completely drifted away from God’s teaching. Premarital sex, cohabitation, affairs, and even personality differences can be an excuse for divorce. How many children have been suffering from broken families? Can you not go against God’s will in your relationship between men and women? Will you educate your children to be vigilant in this regard?!
(vv. 33-37) Jesus said: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Many times, we are used to making excuses, finding reasons, or using words like “if”, “only if”, or “but” to defend or deceive ourselves. We should really know that false or untrue words are not pleasing to God.
(vv. 38-48) We have been told by this world that “tooth-for-tooth is just right and that “returning good to evil” is silly. However, Jesus has exemplified in his person on how we should treat those who are bad and hostile to us and how we, the people of the heavenly kingdom, can be highly different from this world. Yet, can we fulfill God’s commands? Let’s reflect upon the salvation of Jesus. For whom did Jesus give his life? For whom did Jesus shed the bloods?
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro 5:8).
We were all sinners against God before. If God’s love can touch us and the Holy Spirit can move us, will God also intervene with the life of our enemy? Will our enemy have a chance to turn to Christ if they see the improvement of our attitudes or behaviors toward them?
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)