Matthew 5:23-26

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Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.- Matthew 5:23-26

Dear Jesus,

I live among a people that are addicted to litigation. Every car wreck and every mishap in the hospital is punctuated by law suits. It bleeds down to our personal relationships where we seem to be more interested in getting even or ahead than reconciled. Our marriages are ravaged, our friendships shattered and neighbors live in cool tension with one another. Give me the spirit of your word here, that leads me to resolve conflict with forgiveness, compromise and peace loving friendship. Help me see the value in winning them over rather than winning over my enemies.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Conflict is an opportunity to unleash the gospel at street level. Don't mess it up by trying to win.

Matthew 5:21-22

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. - Matthew 5:21-22

Dear Jesus,

When I read the commandment not to murder, I feel righteous. I have never murdered anyone. But when you teach the deeper meaning, I am condemned and so is everyone else. I have called people names for making mental errors. I have judged them in my heart for their mistakes and I have defamed other drivers on the road around me. O Jesus, I have murdered people's reputations with my words. It's so easy for us sinners to measure sins by degrees. But you won't allow that. If we put someone down, it's the same as murder to you and our heavenly Father. Forgive me for murdering people before you. Thank you for letting yourself be murdered in every way for me. If it were not for your substitution I would be lost forever. In love, I will work very hard to preserve the lives and reputations of everyone around me.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God never flies off the handle at anyone you despise. He loves them too much.

Matthew 5:17-20

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Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:17-20

Dear Jesus,

Ever since the fall of humanity my species trades on grey. We act as if there is grey area in every matter. But from heaven you have sent a perfect word, the perfect law, and here you declare that it would never disappear until everything is accomplished. It reminds me that I must let your law do it's invasive work. It must show me my sin and humble my reckless heart. It must bring me in line and make me bow in repentance before your throne. It must speak the painful truth to me, so I can be driven back to you. There I see you in all your holiness. You kept the law perfectly for me. You are my Savior. In you, my righteousness surpasses that of earthly Pharisees. In you I receive righteousness as a gift that mocks the righteousness of "do gooders" and moralistic teachers. In you there is no condemnation but also a renewed desire to walk in your Father's way. I want to do good because you have made me good. Oh Jesus, help this lost world to find you and your grace!

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

The law and morality are perfect but they are still the little brother to Jesus.

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You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:14-16

Dear Jesus,

It happened to me again yesterday. I was waltzing along minding my own business and you placed in front of me an individual for me to witness to, to love, to gently confront with your gospel, to encourage - and - I just wanted to move along and not make waves. I could tell you were taking the bowl off my lamp. I felt the urge to drag it back over. I felt your nudge and you led me to speak. Thanks for being there for both of us. You have made me your child and enlightened me with redeeming and forgiving love. Give me a generous heart that's willing to be uncomfortable in order to shine on others too. Help me be intrusive with your word and grace so others have that heavenly something to think about after I pass through their world. Shine through me, Jesus. I get it that you do not want your light hidden in me.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Truth in Christ is like light, the smallest flicker can fill any dark room with it's glow.

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You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. - Matthew 5:13

Dear Jesus,

You have made me salt by redeeming me and teaching me your ways. It makes me different than the world. I have love for people, love for the truth and love for purity. Being different can be abrasive, even painful. But I know it enables me to make a difference in people's lives. I am your preservative. Don't allow me to hide or lose my saltiness. Instead, give me boldness to speak your truths into the lives of others. Once I have touched them with truth, they cannot erase it from their minds. It's there to do it's work all on it's own. Give me faith and love that make me season the world of people around me.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

We were created in Christ to make an eternal difference in others. Don't rob them of the effect.

Matthew 5: 1-12

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Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad,because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. - Matthew 5: 1-12

Dear Jesus,

What you taught on that mountain is counter intuitive to how we are hard wired. In our fallen state we are hardwired to believe a "A match don't burn twice." and "Look out for number one." and "If it feels good do it." and "You gotta believe in yourself." But you say, "be humble. poor in spirit, a peacemaker, merciful, pure in heart, hungry for righteousness, happy to be persecuted for doing the right thing." That's not my default document. That's supernatural spiritual truth meant to raise me up into the man you always wanted me to be. I can't do it without your help. So, I'm begging you now, please fill me with your Holy Spirit and bring to mind your empowering words so I live the blessed life that you and all of heaven know is right. Make these beatitudes my attitude and give me the ability to swim upstream past the petty spiritual perjuries of my times.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Christ's love compels to us to bring him with us to help us die for our generation like he did for his.

Psalm 31:15-16

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My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love. - Psalm 31:15-16

Dear Heavenly Father,

It's good for a weak and weary soul like mine to be reminded that my times are in your hands and nobody else's. I can spend way too much time worrying about how my life will go. Your unfailing love covers me. You bought me because you wanted me. You own my life. You have a plan on how you want it to go. You fit me into your masterpiece. I am content to be your child and servant. Help me let go of fear, worry and doubt and to enjoy the moments you have granted me. Give me a good word to share with others today that will make their burden a little lighter.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God has an exclusive one on one grip on each of us.

Jeremiah 32:17

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Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. - Jeremiah 32:17

Dear Heavenly Father,

When I look at the beautiful clouds of many fantastic shapes and sizes, when I hear the thunder and feel the smack of lightening, when I get caught in a wind storm or watch a placid lake rise up in a tumult, - I think, "God you are awesome and powerful, more mighty than anything I have ever imagined." I love how Jeremiah, 1000's of years ago, allowed his observation of your power in creation to give him the confidence that nothing was too hard for you. If you can make and govern all of creation, what are our problems to you. You can handle all our needs and take care of all our sorrows. So, Oh God of nature, I give to you all my concerns. Watch over them and work them out just like you watch over this planet you have invented.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God made everything, why would he not also carry everything for us when we need him to.

Colossians 4:7-9

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Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here. - Colossians 4:7-9

Dear Jesus,

I love hearing Paul talk about his friends and fellow workers in your vineyard. I have friends who go the extra mile with me for you. I trust them and their love for you and your mission. I trust they care about your people as much or more than I do. I trust they are consistently working for unity and avoid whispering behind my back and yours. I trust them to think more about the good than the bad, about grace more than judgement, about love more than hate, about peace more than strife. You know who they are, Lord. Today give them a special blessing from your grace. Strengthen their hands and knees to be bold in kindness toward others and swift to advance your word to dark places.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

A fellow believer, who loves Christ's word and his flock, is a good friend to have.

Colossians 4:2-3

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Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message. - Colossians 4:2-3

Dear Jesus,

You call me to be devoted to prayer with watchfulness and thankfulness. I confess that I am not as devoted to prayer as you want. But I'm talking to you now. I want to be watchful in prayer. I think you mean that you want me to bathe all my moments with prayer asking for your help, direction, rescue and love. That sounds a lot better than mindless listening to the radio or mulling over my life with worry and stress. I like just praying it through. I think to be thankful in prayer means you want me to come to you not with a scolding overtone because I am annoyed about something. Instead, you want me to be thankful that you mercifully listen to each of my requests with a father's love. I'm thankful that you have opened the door for prayer to me. I can ask anything and you will do it if it's best for others and me. If not, you will lead me to where you want me to be. Now Jesus, spread your good news everywhere so more people learn they can pray to you and really be heard.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Thankful prayer flows from a trusting heart.

Psalm 18:30

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As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. - Psalm 18:30

Dear Heavenly Father,

It's so easy to make my prayer an arm twisting routine. I twist your arm to get you to run my life the way I think it should go. The psalmist puts me in the right frame of mind. Your way is perfect. Your word is flawless and you just want me to take refuge in you without thinking I have to tell you what you are missing down here. Oh, Lord you have worked out so many problems in my life and made them turn out for my good. You have blessed me on top of blessings. I will take refuge in you and look for the ways you will bless me through anything coming my way whether it looks bad or good at the beginning. Give me the optimism that faith brings. Hold me behind your shield and take care of all people.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God did make our hearts big enough to handle the burden of worry. But they are big enough to handle the burden of faith.

Proverbs 14:34

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Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people. - Proverbs 14:34

Dear Heavenly Father,

I believe you are the God of all nations and like a father with several children you love each and every nation you have created. That's why you discipline whole nations and bless every one of them with their own strengths, weaknesses and prosperity. I know you see the sins in our land and grieve over them. You have blessed our U.S.A. with unbroken prosperity and have endured our failings through good times and bad. You have made us a leader in the world for freedom, fairness and justice. You have used our nation to catapult your gospel into all the world by sending missionaries from our affluent land to impoverished nations to give them your grace and mercy through your son. You have used our country to protect lives and topple tyrants through our military strength. On this great day of remembering our origins, we rise up to thank you for giving special blessings to and through our country. Thank you for the brave who gave their lives so we could be the free. It's a privilege to pray to you as our one nation under God!

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Thank God for your country because he chose your country for you from eternity.

1 Peter 3:8-9

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9

Dear Jesus,

Sad to say, my first instinct when someone insults me is to return the favor. Having grown up in a large family smack dab in the middle of a verbally active society, I have even refined the craft of verbal retaliation. I can easily the see the logic of being sympathetic and compassionate to people who avoid hurting me. But to be sympathetic and compassionate to someone who just jabbed me? That's very difficult. There's no question in my mind that it's what you want. Lord, put a bridle on my tongue and make me think long and hard before I respond to insults. Give me the supernatural love I need to speak blessing to an insulting family member or neighbor. When I dare to respond so well, enable them to be changed by the amazing grace they just received from you through me.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Unconditional love makes one love others without discriminating against bad behavior.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

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The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve." - Jeremiah 17:9-10

Dear Heavenly Father,

I hear so many voices telling me to follow my heart. To me that sounds pretty good, until I consider that my heart has often led to me to seek revenge, use sarcasm, gossip, lust and a few hundred other vices. Oh, how often I have deceived myself! You oh Lord, see every twisted thought in my heart and you understand its origin and motive. In this passage I hear your pure and frightening law. If it were not that I knew your grace also I would run from its light like a cock roach hiding from your presence. I am very thankful that you deal both honestly and graciously with me. You reserve the right to deal with me as my deeds deserve. That humbles and scares me. But you have chosen to make your law get in line behind your grace. You gave Jesus what my deeds deserved. Then you use your law to discipline and tame me. But your gospel is what enlivens and saves me. You are like my loving earthly father who always had a place for me in his heart and home but if I needed it, he would correct me, even sometimes severely. He would help me be honest with myself and everyone else. Help me see what you see about the deceit in my heart so I can be honest with myself, repent of it and live in the light of truth and grace.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

When we are honest with God and ourselves, everyone around us will be refreshed.

Exodus 14:14

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The Lord your God will fight for you. You need only to be still. - Exodus 14:14

I have found few words more comforting especially when I am facing unresolved problems and big issues in my life. You had Moses and your people backed up the Red Sea. He was standing there with 2 million people including grandparents and infants. The Egyptian army was coming to annihilate them. They had no where to go and nothing they could do. Then you stepped in with these words. "I will fight for you. Just be still." I like to remember them before surgery. I like to remember them when others criticize me. I like to remember them when I am blindsided by big problems. You have adopted me into your fold. You have put your name on my back and my name in your heart. You will fight for me. I've seen you turn things around in unbelievable ways throughout my life. Thanks for giving me a word of comfort to cling to when I am scared. It gives me peace and confidence.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

When we know God is on our side, we feel taller, stronger and more invincible.

Matthew 16:25

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For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. - Matthew 16:25

Jesus,

Never have I found a more counter-intuitive verse in the Bible. Everything i have ever thought on my own or with the help of music, movies, motivational speakers and words from friends has been that I must find my life, chase my dreams, go out meet life instead of making it come to me. Then you say I have to lose it in order to find it. What?!? But as a child of yours, who has seen your sacrifice for all of us, I understand spiritually what you mean. My life is a gift that will be spent and then finished whether I sit by in a bed of selfish roses or I use it to serve others. Either way, it still moves forward and falls off the cliff. When I realize that my best use of my temporary passing life is to serve you and others, I will find the meaning of life in a transitory world. Help me to lose my life so I find it today.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Your life on earth is not going to last, so the key is to make it plant something that springs up to live after you are gone.

Matthew 13:23

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But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who continues to hear the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. - Matthew 13:23

Dear Jesus,

I want to continue hearing your word and understanding it for myself and others. I want to be able to speak it with meaning to my spouse and children. I want my friends to learn your word from conversations with me. I want to react better to situations and let my light shine instead of spread the byproducts of my sinful nature. I want the peace, hope and love that the gospel releases to emanate from my life. Make this happen by your Holy Spirit so I produce seeds that will produce more seeds many years after I'm gone. Make my life count for you, oh Jesus.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God's word produces good things whenever it lands in a heart softened by grace and truth.

Leviticus 19:18

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Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. - Leviticus 19:18

Dear Jesus,

I am too coy to outwardly seek revenge against someone. Mine is more subversive. I can turn the cold shoulder, ignore their needs, make them suffer alone, simply because I'm put out with them. Your Spirit convicts me that this is wrong. Open my heart to love my enemies and to avoid making family and friends pay for their neglect or coarse behavior. Instead, make me honest, loving, committed to generosity and forgiving. Help me get over myself and my endless need to be coddled by sinners. Help me give them lots of room for mistakes so I show them what grace is like.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Letting go of another's fault is profoundly Christlike.

1 Corinthians 7:21-24

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Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person;similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. - 1 Corinthians 7:21-24

Dear Jesus,

What a radically different way of thinking you give! Since I have come to know you, I now live for you, with you, under you and because of you in every situation. I am no longer defined by being slave or free, rich or poor, healthy or sick. I am defined as a child of God, redeemed, heaven bound and full of love to impact the people all around me. Thank you for giving me freedom to quit trying so hard to change my situation and instead to let the changes you made in me change the atmosphere where I reside.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

The environment in our hearts is 100 times more important than the environment of our surroundings.

Romans 12:10-11

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Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. - Romans 12:10-11

Dear Lord,

It's easy to forget that you look down from heaven as our Father and see all of us Christians as siblings that you dearly want to get along, support one another and love each other deeply. We get caught up in life and forget about one another. We get "cross-ways" with each other over things and fall out of sync too. Bring to mind today those believers you want me to support and encourage. Then give me the insight I need to do it well. I know how encouraging a text or phone call can be from a Christian brother or sister. Help me to do that for others too.

AMEN

Pastor Don Patterson

We all need each other even when think we don't.