The Lord’s Prayer

Read Matthew 6:5-15

When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
 Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
 On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them one thing. It wasn’t “Jesus teach us how to cast out demons, teach us how to multiply bread, teach us how to raise dead people to life!” it was “Lord, teach us how to pray.”

It was said that there was a Rabbi who would pray from corner to corner, daily, reciting the same prayer in one spot, moving over another step, reciting the same prayer again, moving over another step, reciting the prayer, etc. He would do this over and over, from corner to corner, until he arrived back where he started.

That is the kind of prayer Jesus is referring to here, the kind of prayer that is more worried about the meticulous place or the exact words, the kind that is more like superstition and OCD than it is like a relationship.

Prayer is hard. It is a spiritual discipline. It is learned, practiced, and relational. We have turned prayer into a mockery. We have turned prayer into useless repetition, superstitious phrases, and mindless/heartless chatter. Really no different than what Jesus is talking about here.

Over the next week, we’ll look at each of Jesus instructions on prayer, and ask the LORD just as His disciples did “LORD, teach us to pray.”

  1. According to this passage, what is Jesus’ warning to us regarding prayer?
  1. Write down or circle any repeating words or phrases from yesterday’s passage with giving.
  1. What obstacles keep you from praying? How can you pray less like what’s mentioned in verses 5-8 and more like Jesus?

Beware of Practicing Your Righteousness

Read Matthew 6:1-4

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

“Hypocrites originally referred to Greek actors who wore different masks to play various roles. Jesus criticizes the religious leaders, most notably the Pharisees, for a particular form of hypocrisy: doing the right things for the wrong reasons. To give to the needy was one of the pillars of piety, but the religious leaders gave to the needy in order to be praised by others.” (ESV Study Bible)

We can do good things with bad motives. We can do wrong even as we’re doing right. In other words, we can be doing good things, religious things to be noticed by our friends, neighbors, even pastors and not for an audience of One. In our giving and our living if we are more concerned with how we appear to others, than we are concerned with obedience and delight unto the LORD, we may be doing the very thing Jesus warns us about in this passage.

We may be practicing our righteousness to be seen. Jesus again is warning us that our heart motives matter more than the action of our hands. If we are trying to earn God’s favor, or approval of others, by what we do, than we’re missing the entire point of the Gospel. We work with our hands because God has done a work in our hearts.

If we only read our bibles to post a picture of it on Instagram, we may be missing it.
If we serve the poor to get a pat on the back, we may be missing it.
If our service to the church is so our pastor will thank us, we may be missing it.

We live for an audience of One. We serve and give out of an overflow of God’s grace His given to us. We don’t work for earthly reward, we work for heavenly reward. If we are still trying to impress others and receive their approval, we need to sink deeply into our identity in Christ and remember we are already approved because of His work on the Cross.

We give because He gave first. We do for others, because Jesus has done for us.

We live for an audience of One.

1.  List some of the ways Jesus tells us to give and serve according to this passage.

2.  What are some ways you may seek approval from others or give in order to be seen others?

3.  Jesus is not saying we are never to give, but to pay attention to the motive of our hearts.  What are some ways you can give to others with right motives?  Take some time to pray about how God might have you give your time, talent, and treasure to those around you this week.

Love Your Enemies

Read Matthew 5:43-48


It is easy to love those just like us. I get along with people who look like me, think like me, have the same interests and beliefs as me. It’s easy to love people who love me back. I can help a friend up because I know when I fall, she’ll do the same. It’s easy to sit with a friend during her pain and suffering, because I know she’d do the same for me.

You know when it’s hard to love?
When people don’t love you back.
Or even worse, when people reject your love and push you away.
When people hate you or aren’t like you, and take from you, and oppose you.

The hardest place to love is on enemy territory.

Remember just a few verses before in the Sermon on the Mount, we’re getting slapped in the face and our coats stolen, and Jesus tells us turn the other cheek and give up your stuff willingly?  Now he’s telling us not only to walk the extra mile, but also to do it in love.

Lean into that for moment.

You’ve been slapped in the face, robbed, and forced to walk a mile with that person. Jesus doesn’t say at the end of this, good you’ve done the right thing you can now return. He takes it to the next level and says: “Now, love them.”

There was a season of such difficulty in one of my relationships; I just didn’t know what to do anymore. I felt so broken, and at times so hardened, over how to make it right and had no answers. I sought the LORD, and His response was simple: “Love her”. I thought, “I do! I am loving her!” Again, He whispers to my heart “Love her”.

I realized God’s definition of love, and my definition of love was different.

Love is patient
Love is kind
And is not jealous;
Love does not brag
And is not arrogant,
Does not act unbecomingly;
It does not seek its own,
Is not provoked,
Does not take into account a wrong suffered,
Does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
But rejoices with the truth;
Bears all things,
Believes all things,
Hopes all things,
Endures all things.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7

My definition of love is conditional. God’s definition of love is unconditional.

Love is long suffering, and it doesn’t just “love” those that love you back. It loves those that have slapped you in the face and stolen from you. It loves those that have hurt you, gossiped about you, utter false things about you, broken trust, even declared you an enemy.  Love, even looks it’s betrayer in the eyes, bends down, and washes his feet.

I don’t love like that.  Apart from Christ and His kind of love, I will never love my enemies.  At best, I barely love the lovable.  It is only through the perfect love of God, that I can attempt to love my enemies.  That is an other worldly kind of love.

  1. How does God’s definition of love in Matthew 5:43-48 compare to your definition of love?
  1. List some of the ways God defines love according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
  1. Who in your life is not easy to love? In what ways this week can you grow in your love for them?





Revenge and Retaliation

Read Matthew 5:38-42

“Don’t get mad . . . get even.”

We’ve all heard this saying, perhaps even said to someone or used it ourselves in a given situation.

Someone cuts you off; you speed up and cut them off. Someone makes a rude comment to you at work, so you make a rude comment back. Someone hurts you; you want to hurt them back. Someone’s taken something from you, you want to take it right back. It is only natural that when you’ve been wronged, you want to wrong that person back.

In the end, when we take revenge or try and retaliate, there is no winner. Both sides end up hurt. Or as my mother would say, “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

When we live according to our flesh and our human understanding, of course it’s only natural to retaliate. But living Christ-like is supernatural. Living according to Christ’s standards goes beyond “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”; it’s willingly giving up what is yours, even if it’s wrongfully taken.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in his book “The Cost of Discipleship”, “By willing endurance we cause suffering to pass. Evil becomes a spent force when we put up no resistance. By refusing to pay back the enemy in his own coin, and by preferring to suffer without resistance, the Christian exhibits the sinfulness of contumely and insult. Violence stands condemned by its failure to evoke counter-violence. When a man unjustly demands that I should give him my coat, I offer him my cloak also, and so counter his demand; when he requires me to go the other mile, I go willingly, and show up his exploitation of my service for what it is. To leave everything behind at the call of Christ is to be content with him alone, and to follow only him.”

In other words, as Christ followers we don’t need to need take matters into our own hands. We don’t worry about being wronged and trying to make it right. Revenge is not ours; retaliation has no place in the life of a believer. We leave that to God.

If we have truly been forgiven of all of our wrongdoing, if our Creator God is not demanding that we repay all that we’ve done wrong against Him, than we are to reflect that toward others. How can we willingly embrace God wiping our slate clean, and then turn around to our brother and retaliate?

Our posture as Christians is not “eye for an eye”, it’s denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Him.

  1. Read Romans 12:19-21. What are Paul’s instructions for us regarding revenge?
  1. How do you respond when someone has wronged you? What are some ways you can grow to respond more like Jesus?
  1. Write about a situation you need to surrender to the LORD and trust Him to make right.

Keeping Your Word

Read Matthew 5:33-37


Keep your word.
Don’t swear.
Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

Remember when you were little, and your friends from the neighborhood would tell you an outlandish story and you wouldn’t believe them until they “swore to God” that it happened? Or you’d promise to do something for your friend if they’d give you their last Oreo cookie and they’d make you “swear to God” that you’d really do it? I can remember being little and hearing “Swear to God?” or even worse “Swear on your mom?” (How awful!) so often it didn’t even faze me.

It was our way in the neighborhood of making sure they weren’t just making things up; they couldn’t just give their word, they had to swear or promise on top of that.

In other words, we assumed everything was a lie until you “swore to God.”

That’s kind of what Jesus is saying here. If you keep your word, why would there need to be an additional promise or oath given?

Your yes should be enough.
Your no should be enough.

Your word should be taken seriously at face value because you live with integrity. Anything less would be dishonest.

There should be no reason to have to take an additional oath; your word should be an oath. If you commit to something, show up. If you say one thing to a person’s face, make sure it’s the same thing you’d say behind their back. Keep your word.

Even worse than just telling a fib or being flaky, is saying things like “The LORD told me to _________”.

In fact, when you see “You shall not take the LORD’s name in vain” as one of the 10 commandments, that’s what this is referring to. This is saying God is leading you to do something or promising in His name, but in reality, God has nothing to do with it.

The Lord told me to quit my job.
The LORD said I need to break up with you.
I feel like the LORD is calling me to move to Hawaii.

Maybe the LORD is leading you to do those things, but if He’s not, and you’re over spiritualizing life decisions, you may be taking the LORD’s name in vain.

Taking the LORD’s name in vain is making an oath in the name of God that God never intended for you. Letting your yes be yes, and your no be no is living with integrity and cultivating trust in your relationships. Living in such a way helps you grow in your trust and obedience to the LORD as well.

Let’s live with integrity in all we say and do.


  1. Read James 5:12. What happens when we don’t keep our word?
  1. Are you known for keeping word? Why or why not?
  1. What are some ways you can you grow in integrity by letting your “yes be yes” and your “no be no”?




Wedged in between Jesus’ teaching on adultery/lust and oaths, are 2 verses on divorce.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’  But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32)

Remember who was present during Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount? The disciples and the crowds, and part of the crowds were the religious elite, the Pharisees. According to one of my commentaries, at this point in Jesus ministry John had been put in prison and killed, at least in part for his public opinions on marriage and divorce, so the Pharisees had hoped to trap Jesus, too. They were trying to trick Jesus by having him choose sides in a theological issue.

In a time when women had little to no rights, men were divorcing their wives for just about any reason. And the Pharisees were no different. If the law was giving an inch, they were taking a mile. In Moses’ day and Jesus’ day, marriage was falling short of what God intended.

One man, one woman, in covenant together, for life.

While there was grace even within the law of divorce, it was being abused. There were times divorce was permissible, but much like in our current society, marriage was being entered into without a reverence for God’s design. Men in biblical times were breaking marriage vows with ease, rather than upholding their covenant with their wives.

And this not only belittled God’s design for marriage, it belittled God’s design for how women were to be treated.

Jesus was doing two things here:

  1. Protecting the marriage covenant.
  2. Protecting the wives who had little to no say in their own marriage.

Jesus was standing up for God’s original design, and he was standing up for women who would be tossed aside like someone’s property when divorced.

These 2 short verses on divorce are a rebuke to the men of that day who were flippant with God’s laws and marriage vows.

Divorce is devastating. For women in biblical times, and for some even today, the way society would’ve treated a divorced woman would have been worse than the way they treated a widow, for they would’ve been vulnerable and possibly shamed. Jesus was defending the outcast by proclaiming God’s word.

Marriage is complicated, divorce is messy, and I love the way Jesus, in just 2 short verses, can speak to the heart of the issue and come in defense of the weak.

  1. Read Matthew 19:1-9. List some of the things Jesus says about divorce.
  1. Read Deuteronomy 24:1-4. How do these verses relate to Jesus teaching on divorce?
  1. Have you personally, or do you know someone who’s been affected by divorce? If so, stop and pray for them now.


For more on marriage, divorce, and remarriage, visit The Well’s position paper on these issues.

Fighting Lust

Read Matthew 5:27-30


I’m not sure how many women’s bible studies are talking about this topic, but we’re going there.


Lust: an intense desire or need, a sexual urge

This is more than a glance or being attracted to someone, this is letting your mind wander into fantasy, craving a sexual encounter. In this context, lust is referring sexual temptation, a strong desire to be sexually intimate with someone who is not your spouse.

Our generation is over sexualized. It’s no secret. Commercials, songs, music videos, store ads, TV shows, even sitcoms are sexualized. I can’t turn on the TV without something sexual popping up in my face. We’ve tried watching so many shows that people rave about, only to get a few episodes, or minutes into the series, and there’s a graphic sexual scene.  In fact, just the other night I was scrolling through Facebook and child, who is in Jr.High, posted and up-close picture of a man’s well, you know what. I can’t even go on Facebook now without my eyes being scorned.

According to Covenant Eyes, 1 in 5 mobile searches are for pornography. Global pornography revenue is in the billions, with lots of it coming from the US. In fact here’s an info graphic I found worth sharing:


In other words, lust isn’t going away, in fact it’s only getting stronger. Lust doesn’t always give way to affairs or viewing pornography, but it can still be destructive.  Lust is letting your mind wander into a place it shouldn’t.  Jesus tells us in this passage that long before the act of adultery is committed, lust in the heart is found.  This is where true adultery begins.  So what do we do? Here are 3 tips for fighting lust:

1. Guard Your Heart (and Mind)
Jesus whole teaching on sin is that it always starts in the heart. Lust is conceived in the heart and born in the mind. We have to be able to fight sin as drastically as Jesus told us to. That starts with guarding your heart and your mind. Lust maybe purely physical, but I’m not sure that’s always the case. At times sexual immorality is born out of loneliness, seeking comfort in the wrong things. Run to God with these desires, nip them in the bud before they begin to grow, and ask God to change you from the inside out.  Temptation always starts with one little bite, so search your heart for those little places you’re allowing sin to grow.

2. Walk in the Light
Nothing is more difficult than to fight sin in the dark. Trying to do this on your own, in your own strength is a death sentence. Find others you can be honest with. Remember Jesus’ advice for fighting sin isn’t “try harder” or “be better”, it’s “tear your eye out”. Do what you have to do fight sin and bring this into the light. Take drastic measures. Sin must be dealt with drastically because it’s deadly; it kills both physically and spiritually. The best way to fight lust in the heart is in community and authenticity.

3. Preach the Gospel to Yourself
I mean it. Preach the Gospel to yourself. You made by our Creator God and redeemed by Jesus our Savior.  The same power that raised  Christ from the dead now lives in you. Repentance is the road to freedom. Remembering whose you are and who you are in Christ, regularly coming back to that, will help you breakdown strongholds. While putting up moral fences may work for a time, the only true long-lasting road to freedom is Calvary.

Fight. Guard your heart. Renew your mind. Live in community. Find accountability. Preach the Gospel to yourself.

  1. What are there circumstances in your life that cause you to lust?
  1. Why would Jesus say, “tear your eye out” and “cut off your hand” in regards to fighting lust?
  1. If lust is something you struggle with, write out some action steps for how you’ll fight it.

Dealing with Anger

Read Matthew 5:21-26

We’ve all done this. Heading to a party, or a family gathering, or a dinner out with friends and then it happens.

You get in a fight in the car on your way there. Over who knows what, but you’re arguing and you realize in just 3 minutes you’re going to have to walk inside to the party or whatever and pretend like you’re not angry with your spouse, or your significant other, or your sister, or whoever you were just yelling at.

You try to engage and act normal at the party but there’s unresolved conflict and it’s seeping out into how you act toward others. It’s so hard to even be present and enjoy yourself because there’s unresolved conflict in your heart.

You can’t just leave the anger and unresolved conflict in the car. It follows you into the party and keeps you from truly enjoying your time with others.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t even sleep well when there’s unresolved conflict in my life. I wish I never had to engage in conflict with loved ones, but we know it’s only a matter of time before most relationships face them.

Jesus starts his upside down teaching in these verses by telling us over and over in this chapter “you have heard it said . . . but I tell you . . .” and he starts with anger and unresolved conflict. He shows us again that sin is more deeply rooted than we realize by focusing not on the action with our hands, but the action within our heart.

Anger, insulting your brother or calling him a fool, makes us liable to judgment. Anger within our hearts doesn’t just affect my horizontal relationships with others; it affects my vertical relationship with God.

So much so that Jesus says anger and unresolved conflict will distract us from true worship. God cares so much about our reconciliation with others, that He actually tells us if we aren’t reconciled one to another, we need to leave the altar and go be reconciled. Anger in our hearts leads to death with our words and separation in our relationship, both with one another and with God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Being a peacemaker means stepping into the conflict and actively engaging reconciliation. Reconciling one to another because we have been reconciled to God.

Taking Jesus at His word, we need to seek peace and repent of anger in our hearts and If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18)


  1. What are some of the things Jesus says in Matthew 5:21-26  are a result of anger in our hearts?
  1. How do you handle conflict? What are some ways you can pursue peacemaking?
  1. Is there someone you are angry with? Do you need to reconcile? If so write out a first step in reconciling with that person.

Fulfill the Law

“I believe in Jesus, I just don’t believe in some book that was written over 2,000 years ago and is outdated.”  A comment someone said to me as a “believer” that was openly living in sin.  In other words, Jesus is great as my Savior, but all those words He spoke about how to live, those are old and don’t really matter.

Can we really love Jesus apart from His word?  Can we really know grace apart from the Law?  This is the great debate: If Christ has fulfilled the Law, does the Law have any relevance for today?

“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 say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (v.17-18)

Fulfill: to carry out, to perform or do, to obey or follow.

Jesus did something absolutely none of us could do, he lived a perfect life, fulfilling the Law.  Jesus was not coming to teach something new, He was coming to fulfill what was already being taught.  Jesus was not teaching that Law doesn’t matter or holds no relevance, He was teaching that the Law will never save you.

“Christ despised “the traditions of the elders,” the religious leaders supposed Him to be a deceiver, going about to destroy the very foundations of piety. Because He threw far more emphasis upon great moral principles than upon ceremonial institutions, many were ready to imagine that He repudiated the entire Levitical system. Because He was the Proclaimer of grace and the Dispenser of mercy, the “Friend of publicans and sinners,” the idea became current that He was opposed to the Law.” -A.W. Pink

Can you imagine that?  Jesus, being accused of being too liberal and too free with grace.  He makes sure to say while He is free with grace, He still has reverence for the Law.

“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (v.19)

Relax: to slacken, to make less strict, weaken, lessen, reduce.

Obedience flows out of belief. If we truly believe, we will obey. We will do what God asks of us and teach it to others.

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (v.20)

Exceeds: To surpass, to be superior, to go beyond.

There is a righteousness that exceeds that of “religious” people, it’s beyond external deeds . . . it’s a renewed heart, gifted through grace.

“Jesus said He would fulfill the Law by obeying it perfectly and would fulfill the prophets’ predictions of the Messiah and His kingdom. But the responsibility of the people was made clear. The righteousness they were currently seeking—that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law—was insufficient for entrance into the kingdom Jesus was offering. The righteousness He demanded was not merely external; it was a true inner righteousness based on faith in God’s Word (Rom. 3:21-22). This is clear from what follows.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Though we are living in the New Covenant where His grace abounds, His law still matters. Obedience that flows from a renewed, thankful, changed heart is beautiful, it is great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Are you trying to dismiss His law and His commands for your life?
Are you relaxing what is taught in scripture?
Are you trying to attain righteousness through external religion?

If so, stop.
Remember the Cross.
Remember who we are in Christ.
Remember Jesus fulfills the law and we are fulfilled by Him.
Obedience doesn’t earn righteousness, but is a result of righteousness.
His fulfillment of the law is our fulfillment of His grace.

1.  List some of the laws in scripture.  (See Exodus 20).

2.   What is the relationship between law and grace?  How do they relate to the gospel?

3.  At what point did you understand your need for grace?

Shine Your Light


Read Matthew 5:14-16

While working at a public school, I had started a prayer group that met before school once a week to pray for our coworkers, students, community, etc. I had asked another teacher to join because I knew he was a Christian. He responded he wasn’t sure if he would and he said “I never tell people I’m a Christian, that way, if I mess up, it doesn’t make God look bad.”

As I’ve been thinking about what it means to be salt and light, I can’t help but realize in these passages Jesus says:

You are the salt of the earth . . .
You are the light of the world . . .

As Christians, we get no choice to be salt or light, we are. The only choice we have is whether our salt will be savory or tasteless; whether we hide our lights or shine.

There’s no choice in being salt & light, there’s only duty . . . delightful duty to share who we are and whose we are.

To sprinkle and shine for Christ.

We don’t need to hide our lights from others. It is this light that illuminates and helps guide them through darkness. We do however need to make sure our light isn’t dim and doesn’t flicker.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus words here tell us to shine, to go out and tell AND to make sure our deeds reflect what we say. Our lives should shine as much light as our words.We are to preach Christ to people in word and deed.

If we mingle with darkness, walk in the ways of the world, how can we help others see their way out? Our light is no brighter than theirs!

If we hide our lights, if we’re too afraid to share, how will others ever see? Imagine being in a dark room and trying to help others find their way out, holding your flashlight and never using it! What good is that? How is keeping your light hidden helping others see Christ and His way of life . . . the path that leads to fullness of JOY? (Psalm 16:11)

Don’t you see why it’s so important to “flesh out” our message to the world? Others are walking in pain, darkness, sin, destruction, and death and we have the lamp to light the path to the Way out.

Go! Shine! Live brightly that others might see . . . see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.