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The Sermon on the Mount

When you read the red letters, Matthew 5,6, and 7 is one of the longest running narratives youíll find.  Itís full of wonderful promises and practical wisdom. Jesus sums up the message of His sermon with this last illustration found in Matthew 7:24-27.  This is a paraphrase of these verses.

"Now, everything Iíve told you today is very important.  And if youíre wise, youíll build your lives on it.  The wisdom of God is the firm foundation everyone needs.  There are all sorts of unexpected situations and difficult circumstances in this life that can cause you trouble.  But if youíve built your life on the things Iíve told you, youíll be able to stand against anything.  Just be sure you donít make this mistake.  Many will listen to what Iíve said, but they wonít take it seriously.  Theyíll follow the worldís so-called experts, instead. These guys are always changing their minds about something, because most everything they do turns out wrong.  Theyíre always coming up with something new to cover their mistakes. When you follow the wisdom of the world, your life will be full of insecurity and confusion. And when problems come, your life will crumble, and you wonít be able to fix it.

Whatís He saying?  Build your life on what Iíve said and youíll do O.K.  Disregard what Iíve said and youíre headed for trouble, big-time.  Itís that simple.  Most people never stop to think of the implications of what Jesus is saying here.  He tells us to build our lives on what He says in the Sermon on the Mount.  This is a complete message.  All we need to know.  We can build our lives on it.

Should we pay particular attention to the red letters?  Iím more convinced of that than ever.  As a matter of fact, I discovered several years ago that as I read the red letters, the wrong doctrines of the traditional church were destroyed.  I also discovered that the traditional church doesnít usually quote the red letters to establish their doctrine.  They use isolated verses and parts of verses from Paulís epistles.  Whatís my point?  If you study the red letters and know what Jesus said, then youíll have the proper context for Paulís epistles and will not be easily led into deception.  Know what Jesus said.  Let the red letters be the foundation for everything you believe.

Here is a paraphrase of the entire Sermon on the Mount.

Chapter 5

  1. And when He saw the crowd that was gathering, He went up the side of the mountain to find a place where He could address the people, and His disciples came to join Him.

  2. Then He began to teach them all, saying:

  3. Those who truly understand what it is to be completely dependent on God and desperate for Him (the poor in spirit) are fortunate, because they will enjoy the Kingdom of Heaven in its fullness.

  4. And those who grieve over the destructive consequences of their own sin (those who mourn) are fortunate, because they will escape its destruction.

  5. Those who have the determination to pursue the will of God, regardless of the circumstances, (the meek) are fortunate, because they soon learn that together with God they can overcome anything the world might throw at them.

  6. And those that believe the righteousness of God is something they canít live without (those who hunger and thirst for righteousness) are happy, because the spiritual blessing and joy of knowing God will always sustain them.

  7. Those who are willing to give away what God has given them (the merciful) are happy, because they have Godís promise that He will always give them what they need.

  8. And those who are open to God and donít try to hide anything from Him (the pure in heart) will experience Godís favor, because He will reveal Himself to them.

  9. Those who are willing to take the peace of God to those in turmoil (the peacemakers) are happy, because they have taken on the true nature of their Father in Heaven.

  10. And those who are punished because they have chosen to rise above the worldís false standards (those who are persecuted for righteousnessí sake) are happy, because the Kingdom of Heaven is their rightful inheritance.

  11. Be happy when others attack you and lie about you because of Me,

  12. Thatís good!  Your reward will be waiting for you in heaven.  Just remember. They treated the prophets before you the very same way.

  13. You are the ones who must influence the world, to bring out the best in it Ė like salt brings out the best taste in food.  But if you donít do it, then who will?  The world will look to you for answers.  So donít disappoint them.

  14. You are the ones who must show them the way.  Itís so obvious.  You stand head and shoulders above the crowd.

  15. So donít hesitate to tell others what you know.  Donít try to hide the fact that you really know God.  Stand up!  Speak up!  Let yourself be noticed.

  16. Let your life shine like a bright light.  Give yourself unselfishly to others.  Let them see in you the love of the Father, so He can draw them to Himself.

  17. Donít think for even a second that Iíve come to change what God has already spoken through the prophets.  Iím not here to change anything.  In fact, Iím going to make sure everything happens just the way itís been promised.

  18. And you can be sure of this one thing, the earth and all the stars you can see in the sky at night are fragile and insignificant when compared to even the smallest detail of Godís promises.  And His Word will accomplish its intended purpose, which is, to make the Kingdom of God a reality.

  19. It is important that you understand this.  There are many that teach what the rules are, you see them everywhere; but those who live by the principles of Godís Word and encourage others to do the same are rare, and they are the ones who will be honored in the Kingdom of Heaven.

  20. And Iím telling you right now; youíre going to have to do a better job of following Godís Word than the religious crowd is doing.  Theyíre always careful to follow the rules theyíve made, but they ignore the important principles behind them.  You canít find the Kingdom of Heaven that way.

  21. Iíll show you what I mean.  Theyíve been saying for a long time now that you canít commit murder.  And if you do, youíll stand trial and suffer the proper punishment for your crime.

  22. What are they thinking?  Itís O.K. because theyíve never committed murder? Is it O.K. to call your brother a worthless fool?  Is it O.K. to hold on to your anger and refuse to make peace?  Murder isnít the only crime that deserves punishment.  If you hurt others with your anger, youíre going to suffer the consequences.

  23. Let me tell you how to deal with anger.  When you come into the presence of God to commune with Him, and then remember that youíve hurt someone with your anger;

  24. Stop right there!  Go to that person and ask for their forgiveness.  After all, how can you ask God to cleanse you when you know youíre holding on to your own sin by refusing to be reconciled to your brother?  God canít honor that.

  25. Humble yourself.  Apologize.  Donít let your brotherís anger towards you grow because you refuse to admit you were wrong.  You should know by now that when anger is not dealt with, it can get out of hand in a hurry and cause all kinds of problems.

  26. Iím telling you the truth.  You will suffer some very serious consequences, when you refuse to make things right.

  27. Then theyíve always said that you canít commit adultery with another manís wife.

  28. But they never talk about whether itís right or wrong to look at a woman and have lustful thoughts about her.  They want to believe that they have protected their virtue because they didnít actually commit the sinful act.  In reality, theyíre corrupted by their wrong thoughts.

  29. So, when you find yourself thinking such impure thoughts, donít avoid the personal pain involved in dealing with them in confession and repentance.

  30. Itís far better to experience the discomfort of dealing with your sin, than it is to allow that sin to corrupt your life and keep you from doing whatís right.

  31. And theyíve always said that when a man doesnít want his wife anymore, he must divorce her legally by doing the proper paperwork.  This gives her the opportunity to marry again.

  32. But, the fact of the matter is this: just because theyíve established a legal procedure for divorce doesnít mean what theyíre doing is right.  Who are they kidding?  When a man divorces his wife and she remarries, he makes her an adulteress.  And when a man marries a woman who is divorced, he becomes an adulterer.  Making something legal doesnít automatically make it right in Godís eyes.

  33. Theyíve also said you shouldnít make promises that you donít intend to keep.

  34. In an attempt to prove their sincerity, people often try to make their promises sound more believable by adding something religious to them.

  35. Things donít become true just because theyíre dressed up in religious-sounding talk.

  36. In fact, the more religious it sounds, the more reason you have to be suspicious of it.

  37. So, keep it simple.  Just say yes, when you mean yes; and no, when you mean no.  Only those who intend to deceive feel the need to make long, drawn-out, religious-sounding promises.

  38. Hereís another one.  Youíve always heard that the punishment should fit the crime.

  39. But, I propose a different way.  When someone hurts you, donít retaliate at all.  What does it accomplish?  Your retaliation only adds to the pain that already exists.  If someone hurts you, take it peacefully.  And by that, youíll prove the sincerity of your love by ending it then and there.

  40. And if anyone ever has reason to take you to court, if he wins his case, pay him even more than the judge requires.

  41. When anyone wants to take unfair advantage of you, fine.  Let him do it.

  42. If someone asks you for help, donít refuse.  Even if you think heís trying to take advantage of your generosity.  And if they ask you for a loan, give it to them.  Even if you have every reason to believe theyíll never pay it back.  I know this is confusing.  But this is what Iím trying to tell you: be willing to suffer, if you must; but always refuse to make others suffer, regardless of the circumstances.

  43. And youíve been told to love your friends, but hate your enemies.

  44. Thatís wrong!  Instead, you should love those who hate you, say only good things about those who dislike you, do good things for those who want to destroy you, and pray for those who have betrayed you.

  45. Then youíll be like your Father in Heaven.  He doesnít arbitrarily choose those He will love.  He loves everyone the same, regardless of whether theyíre good or bad.

  46. When you only love those who love you in return, do you think you deserve something special for it?  I donít see why, anyone can do that.

  47. And when you only say hello to those who greet you first, whatís so great about that?  Youíre barely doing whatís expected of everyone.

  48. But this is what Iím talking about, we have to show everyone the same God-like character.  It doesnít matter who they are or what theyíre doing.  You have to learn to treat others the way the Father treats you.

Chapter 6

  1. Be careful you donít do the good things you do just so others can see you do them.  If recognition and approval from men is all that motivates you to help others, donít expect God to reward you too.  After all, why are you really doing it?  If itís to get others to notice you, then youíre only doing it for yourself and their attention is your reward.

  2. So, when you do good things for others, donít make a big deal out of it.  Do it quietly, so the only ones who know about it are the people you help and your Father in Heaven.

  3. Always guard yourselves from wrong intentions.

  4. Do your good deeds secretly.  Then your Father in Heaven will bless you in ways everyone will notice.  You have to decide which is better, the approval of men or the approval of God.

  5. And when you pray, donít be religious about it.  Donít recite long, flowery prayers in public, where everyone can hear.  Who are you talking to?

  6. If youíre talking to God, go to a quiet, private place and just talk to Him.  Then Heíll honor your personal, heart-felt prayers by blessing you in ways that show you really do talk to Him.

  7. Just try to be yourself.  Thereís something false and impersonal about reciting the same, old, tired, worn-out formulas.  Remember this, the Father responds to sincerity, not to the length of the prayer.

  8. So donít be like those who have no relationship with a real, living God.  They repeat the same words over and over again to lifeless images that canít hear.  Your Father is much different than that.  He knows what you need, even before you ask.

  9. And this is how you should pray.  Talk to your Father in Heaven like you would talk to your earthly father, with affection and respect, only acknowledge that He deserves honor and reverence that is greater than any man.

  10. Tell Him about your desire to see His Kingdom revealed in your life.  Tell Him you only want what He wants, so that His will can be seen here on the earth, just like it is in His heavenly domain.

  11. Ask Him to give you just what you need for every day.

  12. Then ask Him to forgive your trespasses and sins.  But tell Him you understand that your forgiveness is based on your own willingness to forgive those who have trespassed against you.

  13. And finally, ask Him to protect you from yourself and from all the evil that surrounds you in the world.

  14. Then remember, if youíre willing to forgive others, then your Heavenly Father will forgive you as well.

  15. But, if youíre not willing to forgive others, the Father wonít forgive you.  When you refuse to forgive others, itís only because you want to punish them.  The Father canít bless that.

  16. And if youíre going to fast, donít go around looking like youíre about to die, hoping someone will notice and ask you whatís wrong.  If you do that, then youíve gone hungry for nothing.

  17. If youíre going to fast, just act normal.

  18. Donít let anyone know what youíre doing.  The question is the same.  Who are you doing it for?  If youíre only seeking the recognition of men, youíll probably get it.  But thatís all youíll get.

  19. And donít spend all your time trying to accumulate the material things this world has to offer.  You may think those things make your life secure, but they donít.  Theyíre easier to lose than they are to get.

  20. Instead, use your time to gather treasures in heaven.  There, theyíre protected, and youíll be able to enjoy them through all eternity.

  21. You must decide which is more important.  You canít have both.  Material things only last as long as you live on this earth.  But, spiritual treasures last forever.  And this will always be true - the thing you invest your life in is the thing you love the most.

  22. If you understand what Iím saying, youíll know what to do.  And youíll do the right thing.

  23. But, if you donít understand, youíre going to make a serious mistake.  The time will come when youíll realize youíve made the wrong decision, but it will be too late to do anything about it.  Youíll lose all your earthly treasures and have no time left to gather heavenly ones.

  24. Donít think you can do both, you canít.  Itís impossible to pursue God and the things of the world that make you feel secure.  The pursuit of one will cause you avoid or neglect the other.

  25. And, if you decide to pursue God, donít worry about what youíre going to eat or drink or whether your clothes are the latest fashion.  Because youíll soon find out there are things much more satisfying than food and more important than clothing.

  26. Look at the birds.  Theyíre not worried about all those things.  Theyíre content to just let the Father give them whatever they need.  And, since itís obvious that the Father takes care of the birds, why wonít you trust Him to take care of you?  You must know that youíre more important to Him than birds.

  27. And why should you worry about your appearance?  The latest fashions donít make you look any different.  Donít you understand you look the same to your Father, regardless of what youíre wearing?

  28. So why should you be concerned about clothing?  Look at the wildflowers in the fields.  They donít worry about such trivial things.

  29. And yet, you must agree that even Solomon, when dressed in his finest, never looked as good.

  30. Again, the Father can take care of the flowers, and He knows they live for only a short time and then theyíre gone.  Heís going to take even better care of you.  Why canít you trust Him?

  31. So you never need to wonder, What am I going to eat?  Or, What am I going to drink?  Or, What am I going to wear?

  32. Relax!  Those are the questions people ask when they donít know the real God.  But your Heavenly Father knows full well that you need all of these things.

  33. When you make the Kingdom of God the most important thing in your life, and become a living demonstration of the Fatherís way of doing things right; then He will always make sure you have everything you need.

  34. And by the way, donít worry about tomorrow.  It will come soon enough.  And when it does, it will bring new challenges and opportunities for you to learn to trust your Heavenly Father.  But for now, just concentrate on trusting Him to get you through the trouble youíre facing today.

Chapter 7

  1. Itís not for you to decide whatís right or wrong for others.  Keep your nose out of their business, unless thatís how you want to be treated.

  2. Because if you do it to others, theyíll do it to you.  Then it becomes a vicious cycle of everyone interfering in everyone elseís life.

  3. You may think you have a real talent for spotting other peopleís problems.  But how good are you at seeing your own?  After all, theyíre the ones you need to be dealing with.

  4. You have to be your own first priority.  You canít spend all your time pretending to "help" others with their problems, while you ignore your own.

  5. That kind of super-spiritual attitude is useless!  True righteousness only comes when people face their faults and weaknesses with God in confession and repentance.  Then they can understand how to truly help others by encouraging them to do the same.

  6. And, itís not for you to decide who should or who shouldnít hear the truth of Godís word.  Donít you know the purpose of the Good News is to show how God loves everyone, regardless of how undeserving or unacceptable you might think they are?

  7. Be persistent when you need the Fatherís help.  It proves your reliance on Him.  When you ask Him for help over and over again, it proves that Heís your only source.  When you consistently pursue Him, it proves you really want to know Him.  And when you look only to Him for guidance, it proves you want to follow Him.

  8. Then, when you show the Father youíre depending on Him alone, Heíll honor your trust and reveal Himself to you.

  9. Your Heavenly Father is just like any earthly father who truly loves his children.  And He will not betray your trust or disappoint your reliance on Him.

  10. If you ask Him for something good or useful or needful, could He disregard your request and give you something evil or harmful instead?  Of course not!

  11. Even as bad as some parents are, they still take pleasure in giving good things to their children.  Your Heavenly Father, Who is perfect, takes even greater pleasure in giving good things to His children.

  12. And remember, this is the standard the Father has set; when you think about how you want others to treat you, take the initiative and treat them that exact same way.  Because when you consider everything the Father has ever revealed to man, it boils down to this one thing: always be willing to use anything the Father has given you to be a blessing to others.  This is what makes Him proud of His children!

  13. Take the difficult path on your way to life in God.  Everyone looks for the easy way, but they end up being led astray.

  14. The truth is, the path to life in God is full of suffering, obstacles and adversity.  Most people don't want to believe that, so they allow themselves to be deceived and go the wrong way.  Only a few are willing to persevere and take the difficult path.

  15. And be careful.  There are those who pretend to hear from God, but are, in reality, deceived themselves.  Theyíll tell you what you want to hear.  Itíll sound really good.  Theyíll be sincere.  But if you listen to them, youíll be sorry.  And unfortunately, for many of them, religion is just another way to take advantage of people and get ahead in the world.

  16. And sometimes these guys are hard to spot.  But this is the key: look for Godly character.  Donít be fooled by their apparent success, their good looks or their talent.

  17. Just remember.  Good people do good things.  If theyíre principled people with right spiritual values, it will not be in their nature to want to manipulate you and take advantage of you.  Theyíll only want you to know the truth.

  18. So get to know them.  Donít just listen to what they have to say.  Look closely at their lives.

  19. If it turns out theyíre not what they claim, get away from them.  The Father will deal with them when the proper time comes.

  20. And if theyíre genuine, youíll know it because theyíll continually encourage and bless you.

  21. Simply looking and acting religious will not guarantee you entrance into heaven.  Thereís a world of difference between doing your own thing and being obedient to the will of the Father.

  22. On that final day, there will be many that will want to talk about all the religious things they did that impressed so many people.

  23. Then Iíll tell them, and this will be the first time they have ever really heard My voice, You have to leave now, I donít know you.  We were never intimate. All those things you did that youíre so anxious to talk about had nothing to do with Me.  You were just using My name to make yourselves look good.

  24. Now, everything Iíve told you today is very important.  And if youíre wise, youíll build your lives on it.  The wisdom of God is the firm foundation everyone needs.

  25. There are all sorts of unexpected situations and difficult circumstances in this life that can cause you trouble.  But, if youíve built your life on the things Iíve told you, youíll be able to stand against anything.

  26. Just be sure you donít make this mistake.  Many will listen to what Iíve said, but they wonít take it seriously.  Theyíll follow the worldís so-called experts, instead.  These guys are always changing their minds about something, because most everything they do turns out wrong.  Theyíre always coming up with something new to cover their mistakes.

  27. When you follow the wisdom of the world, your life will be full of insecurity and confusion.  And when problems come, your life will crumble, and you wonít be able to fix it.

  28. Now, when Jesus was finished, the people were confused, not only because of what He said, but how He said it.

  29. They were used to listening to the public teachers.  They liked to quote religious scholars and recite their traditional teachings.  But Jesus spoke of Himself and of God as His Father.  And He had an unfamiliar boldness and confidence when He spoke.

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