Terry Baxter Devotional

The Self Righteousness Scribes and Pharisees: Matthew 5:19-20

The Self Righteousness Scribes and Pharisees: Matthew 5:19-20
“19) Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20) “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭5:19-20‬
Jesus now states that unless your righteousness is more genuine than that of the Scribes and Pharisees… your salt is tasteless and your light is dim. They were religious, but it was only skin deep. They had two primary problems.
First, they made up religious traditions that empowered them to selectively keep Gods Word. They kept some points of the Law but openly neglected others. For example, they publicly tithed to look good before others, but they neglected caring for their elderly parents or showing love and compassion toward orphans and widows. Their religion was a façade.
This led into the second problem. They looked good outwardly, but were filled with lust, greed and evil passions inwardly. They appeared righteous in public, but were wicked in private. They were filled with hypocrisy and lived double lives.
Revival is needed whenever Gods people live double lives. When righteousness is done for show but the true condition of the heart is filled with sin and corruption, you are tragically lost.
This exposes the fallacy of mere religion. Unless you have a deep personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ, you are a fake. Self made religion is void of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It leaves you legalistic but lost.
When the Spirit of God moves in revival and awakening, many religious people are exposed and genuinely converted. It is not uncommon for pastors, elders, deacons and Sunday school teachers to come under conviction from the Holy Spirit and repent of their lost and sinful ways as they humbly bow before God with deep contrition. Being born-again by the Spirit of God is radically different from being self righteousness.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Truth Encounter: Matthew 5:17-19

Truth Encounter: Matthew 5:17-19
““17) Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18) For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19) Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭5:17-19‬ ‭
If you have been following the development of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has been talking about what allows the light to shine brightly for the glory of God in the world and what causes the light to be hidden or even go out. Certainly, living out the Beatitudes turns the lights on. (See Matthew 5:3-12)
Jesus then devotes next 2 1/2 chapters to things that dampen the light among Gods people. Altogether, He identifies nearly 20 of them. Let’s take our time and stroll through these slowly and invite the Holy Spirit to speak to us.
From the above verses we discover that the light grows dim when Gods people ignore, minimize or distort the Word of God. This is a sure sign that revival is needed among God’s people. Nothing hides the light faster than when people trample God’s Word underfoot.
This is true for the individual, the church and society in general. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to inspire, instruct, guide and correct the people of God. (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
When the counsel of God is set aside, then the flesh, carnality, worldly wisdom and sin reigns without opposition. Gods way’s are lost! His character and nature are hidden. His will is obscured. When God’s Word is neglected… the fire goes out. There no longer remains a restraint against sin.
Genuine revival and awakening are always accompanied by a return to God’s Word. The Word of God is the fuel for revival and prayer is the spark that often ignites the fire. God’s Word contains the truth that exposes and pulls down sin and leads to freedom.
Prayer and the Word of God go hand in hand to fan and feed revival. Dusting off your Bible and spending time in the Word leads to a truth encounter that can radically change your life.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

A Radiant Life: Matthew 5:16

A Radiant Life: Matthew 5:16
“16) Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭5:16‬
Jesus wants to give you a radiant life. He wants to take away the darkness and replace it with light. He wants to heal the hurt, pain and emptiness. He wants you to become a trophy of grace. As you seek Him, the Holy Spirit does a transformational work from the inside. Over time, He turns a light on from within that reflects the presence of God in your life.
Notice, Jesus said, “Let your light shine.” As you turn your focus from self to others, an inner glow from God begins to get brighter and brighter. Soon others will be drawn to God through your demeanor.
Part of this glow for the believer is “God within.” The other part can be traced to transformed attitudes and actions. The Beatitudes listed in Matthew 5:3-12 shine brightly in any people environment.
But a warning, you cannot fake the fruit of the Spirit. You will quickly come to the end of yourself. Notice again, Jesus said “Let your light shine!” If you are born-again and Spirit filled, the source of light and spirit life is within you. Stop suppressing it!
This may require dealing some peck-measures or bushel baskets in your life. (See verse 15) Stop feeding your flesh. Stop feasting on bad attitudes and a critical spirit. Stop making excuses for being a grump. Deal with the things that are grieving the Holy Spirit in your life.
The Christian life is a process of putting off the old self, being renewed in your mindset and putting on the new self which is created in the likeness of Jesus Christ. (See Ephesians 4:22-24)
Be intensional about it! Constantly feed your soul “Power Foods!” Spend daily time in the Word and in prayer. Discover the value of good books. Redeem your time by listening sermons and positive inspirational audios. Memorize and meditate on portions of Scripture. Invite the Spirit of God to transform you from the inside out!
Let your light shine! If you know Jesus, the light is already there. It’s time to pull back the curtains and wash the windows of your soul. God called us to be children of light and to shine in His Kingdom. (Colossians 1:12-13, Ephesians 5:7-8) You can have a radiant life.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Blazing Lamps: Matthew 5:14-16

Blazing Lamps: Matthew 5:14-16
““14) You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15) nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16) Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬
Jesus said His people are the light of the world in the same way that He was the light of the world. (See John 9:5) He intends for us to take His place and walk as children of light in an otherwise dark world. (See Ephesians 5:7-8) To the extent we allow the Holy Spirit to change our inner character to line up with the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12, we shine in the world.
To the extent we allow our sinful flesh to reign on the inner throne of our life, we hide the light. It is like an oil lamp placed under a bushel basket that obscures its light. What an insane waste of oil.
Very possibly He used the oil lamp as a picture of the Spirit Filled life which was about to be introduced after His resurrection. Oil is often a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Bible.
Oil lamps were placed in a central location to give light to all in the house. I remember days from my childhood before some homes had electricity, they were dependent on the oil lamp to luminate the living area.
Large public buildings actually had oil lines supplying oil to numerous lamps. It created a very real fire danger because the glow of the oil lamp comes from an actual small fire in the wick.
Jesus returned to this illustration in Matthew 25:1-13 when He used the ten virgins as an example of the end times. Five were foolish and took no oil for their lamps. Their fire went out! Make sure the fire in your spirit is blazing brighter and brighter as dark times approach.
He then painted a graphic picture of the Body of Christ. Our collective lamps should become like a city on a mountain side that cannot be hidden. The Greek word is actually mountain and not hill.
I confess, I like flying at night and looking down at the landscape. Every town and city can be clearly seen by the combined lights marking each home, buisness or street. The sight can be so inspiring that I often break into praise, prayer and intercession for a corresponding revival and awakening in the spiritual realm.
When pastoring a church, I would frequently schedule a night flight over my town and region just to burn the picture of my mission field into my mind. This helped me wrap my mind and spirit around my God given charge.
As God began enlarging my boarders, I started making bigger flights to add urgency to my prayers and unction to my spirit. I can now identify many of the key cities and towns in my state, the Midwest and beyond from the night sky.
I very literally now spend time praying over my region and much of the world from 5,000 to 40,000 ft above sea level. Those silver tubes with wings are amazing prayer closets and places for divine encounters both with people and with God.
From His heavenly vantage point, I can only imagine the heavenly scene of the spiritual realm Jesus constantly monitors on planet earth. I wonder if the children of light are shining brighter or dimmer in these times? I have ample evidence to argue both sides of the question, but the essential question comes down to your lamp and your walk with God. Is your personal lamp blazing for the glory of God?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The Salt of the Earth: Matthew 5:13

The Salt of the Earth: Matthew 5:13
““13) You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” Matthew‬ ‭5:13‬
Good salt was highly valued in the ancient world. It was used in the cooking industry as both seasoning and as a preservative. It was also essential in the tanning industry for making leather products. It furthermore was recognized for its medicinal value to fight infections way before the science of germs and bacteria were discovered.
In some cases salt was used as money and traded for goods and services. Hence we have the old adage of “not being worth your weight in salt.” If your weight in salt had more value than your labor, you were viewed as unemployable.
But salt has an inherent problem, it can go bad and become tasteless. It is water soluble and can be degraded by excess moisture. Bad salt was viewed as worthless. It had only one use, it was carefully thrown into pathways to retard the growth of grass and weeds. That’s right, it was used as a herbicide to prevent plant growth. Discarding bad salt was actually problematic because it could spoil otherwise fertile ground. Invading armies sometimes salted fertile ground to leave it barren.
This analogy that Jesus used now takes on specially meaning. As long as His people displayed godly character as expressed in the Beatitudes, they are like highly valued salt in society. They made everything look better, smell better and taste better. They were highly valued.
But when God’s people are filled with sin, hypocrisy and bad attitudes, they are like bad salt that is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. There is sometimes a reason why they world seems to be “stepping on Christians.” Some are not worth their weight in salt! They have become tasteless and odious.
Unfortunately because of my itinerant ministry, I have met more than my share of them. Sadly, some leave such a foul taste in my mouth, I go out of my way to avoid them. I cannot afford the negative drag they cause to my spirit and soul. It is nearly impossible to persuade them that they are not suffering for righteousness sake, they are suffering because they have terrible attitudes, worthless people skills and leave a distorted Christian persona.
Unfortunately, they are often the ones that shape and define Christianity for the world. If you are one of them, repent! You are damaging the cause of Christ!
But godly, virtuous and mature Christians are invaluable for society. They are the salt of the earth. I recently read one agnostic sociologist acknowledge this crucial point. He argued that true Christianity fills an indispensable role in the world to hold evil in check. He than added that if they all suddenly vanished, society would need to reinvent them or face inevitable doom.
What kind of salt are you?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The Flood Gates of Regeneration: Matthew 5:12-13

The Flood Gates of Regeneration: Matthew 5:12-13
““12) You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “13) You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;”. Matthew‬ ‭5:13-14‬ ‭
I believe Jesus was making an application from the beatitudes listed in verses three through twelve. He was saying; “As long as my people consistently live out these qualities, they become the salt of the earth and the light of the world!”
The problem is that fallen human nature is contrary to each of these qualities. God’s people as a whole have fallen short of these qualities through the ages. Religion alone is a poor vehicle to change the human heart. If it had been effective, Judaism and the Law should have produced good salt and shining lights.
Jesus came to a thriving religious system, but the salt was tasteless and the light was hidden and dim. In the balance of the Sermon on the Mount in Mathew 5-7, Jesus exposes how broken the system had become.
So how do God’s people consistently put on these qualities expressed in the Beatitudes? I believe Matthew 3:11 gives us a preview; “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” The whole Sermon on the Mount was exposing a thirst and hunger for the deep inner ministry of the Holy Spirit.
This is “the Promise” Jesus talked about in Acts 1:4-5. This is the inner well He promised to the Samaritan woman in John 4:13-14; 22-24. These are the rivers of living water Jesus spoke about in John 7:37-39 that would flow from the innermost being on those filled with the Holy Spirit.
I certainly believe people should consciously plant and cultivate the Beatitudes into their lives. Character development takes time and effort. But I also know that the filling of the Holy Spirit can open the flood gates of regeneration.
Take some time and compare the Beatitudes with the Fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-24. The secret to becoming the salt of the earth and the light of the World will become obvious.
The past decade has launched me into a deep quest for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life. It had been a hunger and thirst for a long time, but my formal theological training inhibited me. My journey to faith, freedom and fulness has taken longer than some, but God has been so good in helping me lay a deep biblical foundation for the liberating and powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit.
I see in these verse in Matthew 5:13-14 the hope of revival and awakening within the Body of Christ today. God is at work healing the breach between the evangelical/Spirit-filled camps.
I see this crucial, deep and biblical work as the primary restraint against the rising tide of sin, compromise and false teaching coming in like a tide in the apostate church. I pray for and welcome genuine biblical revival and awakening… but I wholeheartedly reject the woke church movement!
If it is not Holy, it is not from the Holy Spirit! If it does not line up with Matthew 5:3-16 and Galatians 5:22-24, it is tasteless salt and fake light! If it is not biblical, it is tyrannical! If it does not bow to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, it’s origin is not in His Kingdom of light! (See Colossians 1:13-14)
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Willing to Be Ridiculed: Matthew 5:11-12

Willing to Be Ridiculed: Matthew 5:11-12
““11) Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew‬ ‭5:11-12‬
Over the years, I have conducted numerous evangelism training workshops. The reason most Christians give for not sharing their faith is fear of rejection. Second is fear of ridicule. Notice, they both start with the word “fear.”
Yet Jesus said it is a blessing to have people cast insults at you for the sake of the gospel. Why? False accusations and persecution help focus attention on the message.
Paul discovered in Acts 21-22 that bystanders become an audience in the face of persecution. It opened to door for him to preach the gospel time and again.
Acts chapter 4 makes the case that earnest prayer, boldness and anointing grow out of persecution. The prayer meeting that spontaneously developed after the release of Peter and John was visited with a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The ground was shaken, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (See Acts 4:29-31)
There are many fillings of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.” Those who endure ridicule, name calling, public scorn or persecution for the sake of the gospel are often given special unction before the throne of grace.
Look at the prophets. They endured rejection from men, but they had VIP favor with God. Many of them had “God encounters” that were beyond description. If you doubt me, read again Ezekiel 1-3 or Daniel 9-12.
If you aspire to be a soldier in the Army of God, you better die to any fear of ridicule or name calling. Ephesians 6:10-20 is not for sissies!
Paul nailed it in witting to Timothy. Listen to his admonition; “3) Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4) No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy‬ ‭2:3-4‬) If you want to live in your comfort zone don’t expect to experience the glories of the “God Zone.”
Verse twelve concludes by saying there is a great reward waiting for those willing to endure hardship for the sake of the gospel. Being despised by the world for the sake of godliness translates to honorable stature before God.
I confess, I enjoy award ceremonies at the end of grueling events in the Olympics. It takes years of training, discipline and dedication to get on the podium. The personal interest stories are often inspiring. Can you imagine the award ceremony when we all get to heaven?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The Persecuted Church: Matthew 5:10

The Persecuted Church: Matthew 5:10
““10) Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭5:10‬
This verse is talking about proven character that is solid and stable no matter what is thrown against it. Are your convictions real or merely convenient? Do you love those who love you and line up with your theology, or do you genuinely love all people, even those who differ from you?
Persecution is the perfect test of character because it usually comes with a “get out of jail free card!” If you bend the rules, look the other way or concede, your ordeal will usually come to a quick halt.
Hebrews 12:4 says; “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;”. If you are not real, the sight of your own blood being shed or the pain of being beaten will most likely modify your stance very quickly. For most, it only takes open ridicule and they quickly abandon their faith. The flesh is a coward.
If you are merely legalistic as a show of religion, you are vulnerable to be pulled into all kinds of secret sins such as bitterness, pornography, fantasy romance novels even substance abuse. Many Christian leaders have walked away from marriage and family for a more pleasurable lifestyle on the side of morality. This is simply another form of testing your true character.
True righteousness is a condition of the heart that defines you. It is tied to holiness and godliness. It deepens, grows and matures over time. It is both deepened through trials and hardship and validated through the same. When you squeeze true righteousness, holiness oozes out to the dismay and shame of the persecutors.
That’s what happened to Jesus as the crucifixion progressed. The hate and venom that nailed Him to the cross became hushed admiration through the process. The confession of the centurion and the guards by the end of the crucifixion is recorded in Matthew 27:54; “… Truly this was the Son of God.”
Many stories of martyred Christians through the centuries had the same impact on the mobs. They were deeply influenced for Jesus by the demeanor of the persecuted. The same happens today. Many come to Jesus through the silent voice of the Martyrs.
Acts 1:8 directly ties this to the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to His followers. The root Greek word for “witnesses” in this verse is the same root Greek word for “martyrs”. The Holy Spirit supernaturally empowers believers to shine and witness for Jesus in the face of persecution.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who have suffered for Jesus. They live and walk in the reality and power of the Holy Spirit in ways the Western Church cannot comprehend.
The Western Church specializes in theology. The persecuted church walks in supernatural kingdom reality reminiscent of the Christians in the book of Acts. The more time I spend with pastors and Christians leaders in 3rd world countries and with the persecuted church, the more shallow, exposed and pretentious I feel. I yearn for the kingdom unction that defines them.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Peacemakers: Mathew 5:9

Peacemakers: Mathew 5:9
““9) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew‬ ‭5:9‬ ‭
This beatitude is nearly self validating. Jesus as our Master and Lord is “The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) He came to make peace between God and man, and redeemed people with one another and the world around them.
It is an utter contradiction for anyone to be the source conflict, discord, tension, outbursts of anger, and strife… and still claim Jesus as Savior and Lord. These come from the flesh and not the Spirit. Something is tragically wrong! (Study Galatians 5:18-21) Look carefully, the third fruit of the Spirit is “peace.”
The contrast between the thief and Jesus in John 10:10 drives this point home. The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Jesus came to build up and not tear down. He came to heal and not wound. He came to make people whole.
Those who become whole become peacemakers. Blessings begin to pursue the peacemakers. Their inward makeup is transformed and their outward relationships begin to change. God surrounds them with favor.
My life is a testimony of this transformation. Before becoming a Christian, my life was driven by tension, inner torment and anger. I was abusive to people closest to me. When I invited Jesus into my heart, He immediately began a very deep work within me that He has been maturing over the years. I now live on the peacemaker end of the spectrum. My inner war is long over. For the most part, peace now reigns in me!
But let me make a final clarification. Peace itself is not the end game. For example, we do not sacrifice truth on the altar of peace. A right relationship with God is the goal of our ministry of reconciliation. A person can only have the peace of God if they have peace with God.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: cofounder of GoServ Global

The Power of Mercy: Matthew 5:7

The Power of Mercy: Matthew 5:7
““7) Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭
We are now introduced to the word “mercy.” This stands in contrast to the word “grace”, which means giving someone something haven’t earned and do not deserve. Salvation is a gift of grace. Mercy by contrast is not giving someone the judgement or condemnation they do deserve.
Another rule in Matthew 7:1-2 says; ““Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”
This mercy beatitude is also closely related to golden rule as recorded in Matthew 7:12; ““In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Notice that these are all found in the sermon on the Mount. God cares about the way we relate and interact with people. The theater of interpersonal relationships is boot camp for Christian growth and virtue.
Mercy has the power to build deep relationships. It is an expression of unconditional love.
Do you want mercy? Learn to show mercy. Do you want others to treat you with favor and grace? Do the same! Do you want others to cut you some slack? Don’t be so judgmental yourself.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global