Matthew 6:5-7:6; Luke 6:37-42; Matthew 7:7-20; Luke 6:43-45; Matthew 7:21-29; Luke 6:46-49
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Matthew: Our readings in Matthew chapter 6 today seem to be focusing quite a bit on the interior motives of why we do things - and to do things sometimes in secret, where only God will know what we are doing. And by giving, praying, and fasting with pure interior motives and in secret, God will reward us! I think there is so much truth in this... I think when we give anonymously or pray for others quietly or fast privately, we are really worshipping God. We are in essence saying, "God I am doing these things because of who You are, how great You are, and to let you know how much I love You. I don't need to let anyone know about this act of worship between me and You. You knowing is more than enough." Now, I do think there are times for communal giving, praying and fasting - but I love that Jesus challenges us to make sure we find private ways to worship God and God only - and not to bring glory to ourselves by desiring public praise for our "religiosity"...
What a blessing to read the Lord's Prayer in today's readings! I have to confess, I don't say this prayer very often... and Jesus seems to indicate pretty clearly that this is a good way to pray. :) I do pray often throughout the day - but usually it's pretty immediate stuff - bless this meal, thank you for this day, bless my time at work, etc. etc. What a great thing it would be if I could remember to actually pray the Lord's Prayer a bit more... I do think it is good to pray things beyond the Lord's Prayer - in fact, just take a look at the Psalms for some ranges of prayer. You might infer from verse 7 that we should stick only to the Lord's Prayer when praying: "When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again." However - I read a commentary that this verse was admonishing against the polytheistic religions where people prayed to every single god's name they could think of, and would continue to repeat all of the gods names over and over, in hopes that this "babbling" would work to where one of the gods would respond to their pleading. So - I think God loves and enjoys hearing us pray to Him in whatever way we do so - but we should not neglect the fact that when Jesus gave us the Lord's Prayer He said (in verse 9): "Pray like this."
Verse 24 has always always been a verse that's convicted me and still does today: "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." There is so much truth here in these 3 little sentences... Who are we serving in our lives today? I once read that one good indicator is to take a look at your monthly budget. Where does the money go each month? Interesting way to look at this. Maybe another way to look at this is how you spend your time each week. How much time is spent at work, volunteering, being with God, being with family/friends, taking a Sabbath, etc. Maybe looking at how we spend our time and money is a good way to see who or what we are worshipping? Do you believe that it is true that we cannot serve two masters? Who are you serving these days?
Today in Matthew we continue the Sermon on the Mount! Chapter 6 verse 27 is solid science from Jesus: "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not." Wouldn't you agree that scientific studies show that severe worrying (anxiety) can actually decrease the longevity of your life? Jesus knew his science! :) Truly... I do think you'll continue to be amazed by the scientific validity and Truth that is exhibited in the Bible over and over and over again as we read it this year!
Chapter 6 verse 34 (in image above) has always been one of my favorites to remember: "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." Great great truth here. I'm not sure if anyone has ever read a Dale Carnegie book about worrying? It's called "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living." It's been probably 10 years ago since I read this book. But, I remember Dale writing about how he lived his life in what he called "day-tight compartments". He used a cargo ship analogy, which I won't be able to explain here well. But, basically, Dale got to the point where he mentally segmented his time off into morning prep time, time with family over breakfast, morning work time, lunch time, afternoon work time, dinner time, family time, time to read, sleeping time. And while he was in the present time of each of these "compartments" of his day he would not worry at all about the other compartments even in that very same day! It's pretty interesting to think about... when you are at work, you focus on work and you don't daydream or worry about your personal life - but, once you are off work, you then don't worry about work at all. I don't know... maybe this Dale Carnegie "day-tight compartments" is only helpful to me... I recommend you listen to Jesus' advice on worrying before you listen to Dale or mine! :) But, if you do worry a lot, this Dale Carnegie book may very helpful for you as well.
Matthew chapter 7 verses 1 through 6 are interesting. Jesus clearly says to not judge others - but then in verse 6 he says: "Don't give what is holy to unholy people." So, my thought is that we are not to "condemn" people judgmentally - but that we are to be aware of and perceptive of other people's character traits. I don't think Jesus is calling for us to walk around blissfully thinking everyone is perfect... but he is saying don't "condemn" others for their actions. God is the only true judge of anyone's actions. I think it is still okay for us to take note of how people act or behave. Remember that 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to: "Test everything." So, I do think it is okay (and even wise) to evaluate a person's character. Let me know your thoughts on this one in the Comments section below.
Today in Matthew chapter 7 we wrap up the Sermon on the Mount! Not a bad 3 chapters of teaching from Jesus, eh? :) Verse 20 was insightful for me today: "Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced." I think this verse goes back to my post yesterday about how we are still to identify or perceive the types of people we come in contact with - without judging them or condemning them. And one good to way to identify someone is by the type of fruit they produce - actions they demonstrate or lives they lead. And while it may sometimes be easier to identify other people's fruit... maybe we ought to look at our own lives too. What type of fruit is your life producing? Is it life-giving fruit for those you come in contact with? And let us not forget Jesus' warning in verse 15 today about how we are to identify false teachers. Do you believe there are false teachers in our world today? What are their fruits that you will know them by?
Verse 24 is strong: "Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock." Have you really listened to Jesus' teaching these past few days as you read through the Sermon on the Mount? And - will you now obey Jesus' teaching? Would this be wise? Would this be like building a house on solid rock? Will you stay out of the sands of sin?
Matthew 7:25 I think is an important verse for us to meditate upon in our own lives: "Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse, because it is built on rock." I never paid too much attention to this verse - I always focused on verse 24 and building a strong foundation on solid rock. But, I had lunch with a friend recently and he shared with me that this verse 25 - and verse 27 too - should be a reminder to each of us that storms will come in our lives. And I think this is so true. Sometimes we go through wonderful seasons of blessing, and we may think that storms will never come our way - but guess what, they will. If we are followers of Jesus - Jesus who endured an unimaginable storm during his passion and crucifixion - storms will come our way too. So, then, the key becomes if we know storms will come, we really should pay attention to verse 24 and build up a strong foundation of faith during the times of calm. It's kind of like the idea of saving for a rainy day - the day will come when it rains. So let us build up our faith and love in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit today! So that when the storms of life come our way, we will not collapse, but will remain faithful to the beautiful end. My friends, the storms will come. But with Jesus, we do not need to fear them or collapse under them when they come!
Bible.org's commentary on our readings in Matthew chapter 7 today titled "Mistaken Identity" is at this link.
Worship God: Today's readings in Matthew reminded me of the Delirious song "Majesty!" Here's a great live version of this song:
Do you know our Majesty? Click here for true Majesty!
Please join me in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that God would show you what the narrow gate is in your life. Pray that you would enter through the narrow gate. Pray that Jesus alone is your narrow gate.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!