youve heard it said

Some of what God said in the Old Testament he further established in the New Testament, but it was only to increase our blessing. In the NT God uses the power of the former to establish the blessing of the latter. There was a time in history when the Old Testament was not the “Old” Testament. It wasn’t until the “New” Testament came along that the other one became “Old.”

The OT is God’s established covenant for a relationship with his people. Anyone who lived during that time knew all the blessings and requirements of the covenant. Then comes Jesus. He takes everything to a new level, but it’s only because God was thinking about what’s best for us.

The most common phrase in Mathew 5 is “You have heard it said, but now I say…” Jesus fulfills every jot and tittle of the Old Covenant. He completes it and then reveals a new way of understanding it. Of course the main difference is that the Old Covenant was for people who had God coming “upon” them and the New is for people who have God living “within” them. Therefore, all the ideas of the Old have to be expanded upon in the New.

The OT now becomes a covenant of “types” and “symbols” that reveals the scope of the New Covenant. The New is built off the Old, except it reveals God in a more profound way. Now everything coming out of the Old Covenant has to actually pass through the teachings of the New Covenant in order to us to find application in an era of grace.

Things that don’t make it into the NT are curses and penalties. Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’” Thank God no one gets rocks thrown at them behind the church for stealing. In the OT God said things like, “If you disobey cursed will be you, cursed will be the ground, and so on…” In the NT there are no curses for God’s people because Jesus became the curse for everyone. He paid the penalty for sin’s curse to be broken.

There is no judgment upon us because Jesus took away our judgment, but there are consequences for our actions. Curses and consequences, two very different things. Remember, you reap what you sow. The law of reaping and sowing makes it into the New Testament without any alterations. There is no judgment upon us, but you will reap what you sow. Example: If you say something unkind to someone, as sure as you are reading this someone is going to say something unkind to you. If you take something from someone that isn’t yours, you can count on someone taking something from you.

The idea of treating others as you would like to be treated teaches us to be sensible in our human interactions (a message many evangelicals need to consider). You want to make sure that the things you say and do come back to you in a good way. With this mindset we need to consider when someone is treating us poorly that it may be a consequence of something we’ve said or done. That’s not always the case, but it helps us examine ourselves nonetheless. Examination is beneficial, don’t run from it, embrace it. Remove consequences. Say something kind to someone today.

(Sources: Brennan Manning; Graham Cooke)

Whenever God says something for the first time he sets a precedent. By God’s precedent you know him forever. God doesn’t change toward us because his love is eternal. What can separate us from the love of God? Nothing. His love for us remains whether we choose to love him back or not. However, God does change the way he relates to us depending on where we are in our relationship with him, but he never changes his heart toward us. The heart of God is love.

I often explain this by using the relationship with my son as an example. I have a love for Jake that is ongoing. My love for him never changes. However, the way I relate to him does change. I don’t talk to him the same way today as I did when he was five years old. Our relationship has grown and now we understand each other on a different level.

The decisions I made concerning Jake when he was five was to benefit our relationship as he got older. I ordered my thinking so that my relationship with him would get better with time. God is ordered in his thinking. He is always considering what is best for his family.

As appropriate for a Creator, God thinks sequentially. Scripture is the perfect example of his thinking out from himself. In other words, God is very deliberate and extremely intentional. He is continually thinking about what is best for us now and in the future. This means there is significance in everything he does. This is how “all things work together for good…” God designs his relationship with us that way.

So again, any time God says something for the first time, he sets a precedent. By that standard you know him forever. As God reveals himself in scripture, he’s saying, “This is who I am for you, forever.” His love toward us never changes. What can separate us from the love of God?

As God speaks into your life through the Holy Spirit you can rest in what he is saying and doing. He is establishing himself in your life forever, and you can trust what he says and does. In Christ God displays his eternal love for creation, of which we are all a part. He reveals himself by becoming one of us… there is no greater love.

Accept who you are in Christ. Don’t run away from the story that is your life. Trust what God has done. Believe there is significance in everything. Look for God in the subtle things. God relates to you in all of life’s situations because he loves you deeply. And when he shows you the way, it’s always through a precedent of love.

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” John the Baptist declares these words as he proclaims the advent of our Savior. He was announcing the coming of a new way of understanding life in relation to God. It wasn’t that God’s kingdom was coming in the future; it had arrived in the person of Jesus Christ. John announced the inauguration of a kingdom and if the kingdom has already come then that makes us subjects of the King.

This way of thinking disorients many evangelicals. They like to think of God’s kingdom only in physical terms. In this they often neglect the spiritual development of a present experience with God. Many become so consumed with future apocalyptic doom of the world that they are no earthly good. They swallow the pill of Left Behind theology and subscribe to the late night televangelists who make a living pedaling fear. It’s not to say that the full realization of God’s physical presence will not be established in the future, but only to say that we need to be celebrating the kingdom as a present reality.

Christ has come. He is incarnate. God dwells among us. The Spirit never forsakes us. God is making all things new and making all wrongs right. It’s called redemption. Valleys will be full, and are currently being filled. Mountains will be made low, and are currently being flattened. Rough ways will be smooth, and are currently being made level. What does this mean? Drastic changes in the way we think… old ways shattered and new ways recognized.

The key to understanding the kingdom of God is revealed in what you allow yourself to think. What you hear the most is what you think about most. You are what you think. If you listen to doom and gloom often, you will think about doom and gloom more than anything else. What you think affects how you act. What you think is what you become. As a person thinks in their heart so is that person (Proverbs 23:7). This means that if you want to change, you must start by changing your mind.

Jesus started his ministry with one message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mathew 4:17). Repentance means, changing your mind. It means altering the way you think. It means living in a new reality as a citizen of a Kingdom. Bottom-line: to enter the kingdom of God, one must learn to think properly about God.

Repent. Stop of thinking about the kingdom as if it is not yet. The kingdom has come and is coming. It has come in the person and work of Jesus Christ and is continually coming though they indwelling of the Holy Spirit.. The kingdom of God is a central message in the teachings of our Lord. The theme of the “kingdom” is the essence of God’s message to the world.

What did Jesus want us to understand through this message? To live inverted. To live counter to the spirit of the present age. To live in such a way that our presence in the world flips the world’s economy on its head. It is opposite of everything prevailing culture and society wants us to believe. It’s an upside-down way of life that challenges the prevailing paradigms of popular religious culture and societal norms. You are what you think… so what are you?

(Sources: Shane Claiborne; Donald Kraybill; Brian Zahnd)


Solitude is a discipline. In solitude we make sense of life’s happenings. Solitude helps us find rest and escape the busyness of life. When we remove ourselves from the hustle of daily activity we are able to process the meaning of life’s occurrences in deeper ways. Interestingly, the very first thing God did with the first person he created was rested. God knew something that most of us still haven’t realized: rest is good for us.

When we get alone with ourselves, we realize that we’re not really alone at all. God is with us. Solitude helps us to hear him. God never moves from a place of anxiety and hurriedness. He doesn’t have to, he’s too vigorous and confident. I’m convinced that only in silence and solitude are we able to reconnect to our inner person: the person we are created to be.

A strong spirit always sustains a weak body and drained mind, but a weak body and fatigued mind sustains us not at all. All the words we process on a daily basis are hollow until we are able to get alone with God and allow him to pour life into them. Finding a quiet place helps develop ears to hear the small still voice of the Holy Spirit.

Relationship is what we are created for. Solitude not only helps us make sense of life’s happenings and hear God more clearly, it also helps us make sense of our relationships. Life’s distractions undermine the quality of meaningful relationships. Many people are only concerned with their own needs, but when we practice solitude we learn how to be honest in our interactions with one another.

Religious structures create an atmosphere of judgment, but in my alone time with God I’ve learned that he is not mad at anyone. God wants us to process life well, he wants us to have new thoughts about him and learn to interact with Jesus on deeper levels. Solitude helps us create an inner atmosphere of celebration and sacredness. If you want authentic relationships with others, get alone with God on a regular basis. God will bless your rest and help you process the significant investments he makes in your life on a daily basis.

We keep the words of St. Augustine in mind: “If you love the world it will absorb you; for the world knows not how to support, but only how to devour its admirers.” For this reason each of us must find our own mountain or desert where we can withdraw into the peace that’s only discovered by practicing the discipline of solitude. Christ himself told his followers to pray in the solitude of their room and to “come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

(Sources: Richard Foster; Dallas Willard; Brian Zahnd; Graham Cooke)