Don't Worry...Be Fruitful | Matthew 6:25-34

Passage: Matthew 6:25-34 (NKJV)

Mat 6:25  "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?
Mat 6:26  Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to Him than they are?
Mat 6:27  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Mat 6:28  "And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing,
Mat 6:29  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.
Mat 6:30  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
Mat 6:31  "So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?'
Mat 6:32  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
Mat 6:33  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.
Mat 6:34  "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today. [NLT]
Thoughts:
This teaching definitely did not fall on deaf ears in Jesus time. They were an agricultural society, wholly dependent on crops and livestock  survival for the sustaining of their own lives. Most people were very concerned with their day-to-day survival. Jesus is clarifying a debated truth here. Many Rabbi's were teaching that God cared only for man and not so much for nature. Jesus is saying that God takes care of nature, how much more will he care for man.
Some ancient philosophers taught about or drew morals from nature as well as from philosophy. Many Jewish teachers said that God’s concern in the laws of the Bible was only for humans (although it was clear that God watched over all creation; cf. Psa_104:27). But Jesus’ argument was a standard Jewish “how much more” (qal vahomer) argument: If God cares for the birds (and *rabbis agreed that he sustained all creation), how much more does he care for humans? IVP Bible Background Commentary
I think that where this teaching may have been taken to a new level is in verse 33. Here He introduces the pursuit of the Kingdom of God and the aspect of faith in God and His willingness to provide for our needs. Here is our part. Here is our test of faith.
Do you trust, believe in and have faith strong enough to stop controlling every situation for yourself? Can you let go of control of your life and trust God with it? In my opinion these are the deeper questions being asked and answered by Jesus in this passage.
When I ask myself these questions I more often than not fail this simple test. On a daily basis I spend more time worrying about my income, my bills, my possessions than I do my relationship with Jesus. Maybe calling it a test is even the wrong way to put it...it is more a directive for a worry free life. It is a directive for peace.
This is also a directive for faith.
Last night I spent a wonderful evening with my family. We had great conversation and spent time roasting hot-dogs over a campfire. The subject of helping someone in need came up. We discussed how hard it can be to step out of your comfort zone and approach someone in need. There is the matter of all the things that go through our mind...you might call them self-defensive- thoughts. Thoughts like...
That guys a drunk. There's no help for him; I would just be wasting my time.
He could be mentally unstable, who knows what he might do to me.
If he really cared about himself he would go out and get a job.
They want to be homeless, it is a lifestyle choice. They won't really want my help.
If I give them money they are just going to go and waste it on drugs.

Now, the reason I called these "self-defensive-thoughts" is because they involve handling the situation in such a way that you are taking care of "self". These thoughts do not display a trust in Jesus to provide direction for you in this situation. You are attempting to control the outcome. You are worrying about your self. Jesus is telling us in this passage that we don't have to worry about ourselves (sustaining of our lives) if we have faith in God to provide for us.

Don't get me wrong. This is not a call to "test the Lord" by jumping into clearly dangerous situations and presuming He will protect/provide for you. No! That too is wrong. Look at verse 33 in the passage. Jesus is saying "seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness" ....this is Him saying to us...Don't go running willy-nilly in to do the work of the Lord with YOUR WILL being the driving force. Seek God's will. Seek His directive in the situation, and then act upon His will. This takes time and work. We must learn, through the study of His Word and through quiet prayer time, to recognize the Father's voice. Then we can go out with confidence; with boldness; with peace (no worries); and be fruitful, helping those in need.

Prayer:

Lord, help me to hear your voice. Help me to stop trusting in myself so much and to trust in You more. You have promised to take care of us and, like Abraham who believed your promise so You counted it to him as righteousness, I want to fully believe in You and let it change my life.

Thank You for all that you supply in my life. I thank You for my daily sustenance and for the roof over my head. I thank You for my family and friends and for the freedom to worship You on Your Sabbath day.

Lord, please give me boldness of heart when I need it so that I can be about Your business. I love you Lord. Amen.

Practice makes perfect | Matthew 6:24

Passage: Matthew 6:24 [NKJV] Thoughts:

Mat 6:24  "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Also as a reference let's look at this bit of background from the IVP Bible Background Commentary.

Two masters rarely shared slaves, but when they did it always led to divided interests. “Mammon” is an *Aramaic word for possessions or money, and Jesus seems to be personifying it as an idol, using another ancient figure of speech (personification).

To me this is a pretty basic teaching, yet it carries so much weight, power, and significance in my life. If I were to interpret into my own words what Jesus is saying to me, He would be saying, "You must stop serving the world through your partaking in the things of this world; leisure, selfish pursuits, covetousness, and self pride. Instead, choose to serve Me and I can then change you into my image."

We become what we give our lives to. This is not a demand from Christ to "pick me or die"...it is a teaching of a basic simple truth. What you spend your time doing you become. Here is a little experiment to prove the point.

  1. Take out a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.
  2. Write the numbers 1-20 in a line down the left side of the paper.
  3. Now put the pen or pencil in your opposite hand and write 1-20 next to the previous list.
  4. Make a mental note of which looks better.

Now, if you did the exercise you will have most likely noted that the list of numbers written with your dominant hand looks much neater than the list of numbers written by your least dominant hand. Consider this. What do you think would happen if every day you spent 30 minutes writing that list of numbers with your least dominant hand? Do you think that you would get better at it? Do you think that you would become proficient, over time, with using that hand to write that list of numbers clearly?

What about a professional skateboarder. Do you think they just woke up one morning and said, "I am now really good at skateboarding"? No, of course not. They spent hours and hours practicing to become good at skating. They became a "slave" to that task, and in the end it paid off.

The same is true when it comes to having a relationship with Jesus. We cannot serve two masters...because by trying to we will never become good at either one.

This literally works for the worldly person too. If you spend time in the world, but as a "nominal" Christian the world will notice it and will have disdain for you. They (the world) can sense a Christian who is being a hypocrite...in fact I'd say they are hyper sensitive to it. I've seen blogs written by overtly Atheist writers that challenge Christians on their beliefs by using the Bible to prove they (the Christian) are wrong...and the Atheist was right.

Jesus wants us to be slaves to Him completely. It is only through this type of commitment that He can start to work the changes in us that will help us. It is not a matter of salvation, the thief on the cross is proof enough of that, but it is a matter of building a relationship with and growing in Christ. Give your heart to Him completely...hold back nothing and see what amazing things He can do with your life.

Prayer:

Dear Lord,

It is difficult and a struggle to give myself over to you daily. Sometimes the "old man" fights so hard ...sometime he even wins. But today, right here and now, I give you my whole heart. I want You to use me today to glorify You. Help my words, thoughts and actions to do that very thing. Help me to grow in You, and with You leading me. I want to practice daily my relationship with you so that I can become more like you...please change my heart in that direction.

Thank You for all that You supply in my life. Thank You for my family, friends, and church. Thank You for Your sacrifice for me and for Your forgiveness. Help me to forgive others.

Please be with the prayer requests on the prayer list. May Your will be done in all things. Amen.

Intentions of the heart | Matthew 6:22-23

Passage: Matthew 6:22-23 [NKJV] Thoughts:

Mat 6:22  "Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.
Mat 6:23  But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

The eye seems to represent the intention of the heart. Jesus is asking us here to have a single minded (compare versions on this one) approach to do good. If your intention is singly to do good then your whole body will follow. On the opposite side of the coin, if your eye (intention) is bad or evil, then your whole body is filled with evil or darkness. He also takes it to the next level when He says that if you think you have light when you really have darkness, the darkness is even deeper.

There seem to be a few warnings in here for us. Again, Jesus is asking us to check the state of our heart, specifically what is the intention of the heart or what direction is it going in?.

What are you striving for?

What is your goal?

If you are striving for the things of this world; wealth, power, influence, possessions; then your eye is taking in (intent upon) evil things and therefore you are in darkness. If you are intent upon the things of God; salvation of souls, truth, selflessness, love; then your heart is taking in (intent upon) good things that will affect the whole body.

The deeper warning against thinking that you have light (good intentions) but actually having darkness, (therefore having a deeper darkness), points to the concept of seeking the things of darkness while portraying yourself as seeking the things of light. A prime example would be massive stadium churches and their pastors...they really are seeking to have power, influence, and wealth but are using the things of God to gain it. They do not have the truth, but they claim to. They don't really pursue the things of God and therefore don't really see their need of salvation. They have stunted the process by stopping the sanctification process. You also have evangelicals, who think that wielding political power is the way to win the world to God. This is such a massive misunderstanding of Gods way, yet they think it is God's will. God would never seek to force the conscience of another man through the force of law, but gives us choice and free will to choose Him. The law (ten commandments) is given to show us our need for Him, not to force us to follow Him. The penalty (death) was not exacted or created by God, but is the natural result of living outside the law. Selfishness ultimately results in death...look around you...watch the tv news for 5 minutes...how can you not see the penalty of breaking God's law? God did NOT create death, it is the natural result of selfishness which is the result of living without the law of God in our hearts.

Please reader, turn to God, choose His way. It is the way of light. It is the good choice. God does not condemn you...He wants so much to forgive you and give you a new intention of the heart.

Prayer:

Dear Lord in Heaven,

Please help me to always have my eye on You Lord. Help me to see the truth in everything around me. Put Your law of unselfishness in my heart.

Forgive me today of my sin and selfishness. Help me to be a light to others that leads them to You. Please be with all of the prayer requests on the prayer list. Thank you for giving us a choice through Your sacrifice. Amen.

Proper Treasure Storage Procedure | Matthew 6:19-21

Passage: Matthew 6:19-21 [NKJV]

Mat 6:19  "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.
Mat 6:20  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
Mat 6:21  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. [NLT]

Thoughts:

I certainly can't put this any better than Jesus did. He first describes to us the process of storing treasure. He mentions many of the common problems of the day for storing money or treasure. People during that time really only had a few options for storing treasure. They could store it in their home, where thieves could easily break in through the dirt walls and steal it. They could store it in caves where moths or rust could get to it, or, they could bury it in the ground to be destroyed by rust. Wealthy people would invest their money with the moneychangers or deposit it with the temple for safekeeping. In describing all of the common problems with storing treasure on earth He points out that it is ultimately a futile process; nothing lasts here on earth. It is ALL subject to destruction. In verse 20 we are given the better alternative to storing treasure here on earth. We are told that we can store our treasure in heaven where it will be subject to none of the problems and none of the destruction or theft that it is subject here on earth. A wise man would of course choose to store in the better place...

Now in verse 21 we are given the reason for this explanation of proper treasure storage procedure. It is once again a matter of the heart. The treasure is the key. What do you value most? Do you value something that is in heaven, where it will last? Or, do you value the things of this earth that are subject to rust, moths, and thieves? We are being given a warning to check the state of the heart...what do you treasure? Do you want the things of heaven (peace, love, selflessness, relationship with Jesus) or do you want the things of earth? (Wealth, leisure, power, control, pleasure)...What does your heart desire...because "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Prayer:

Dear Lord,

Thank You for all the earthly treasures that you have supplied in my life. Help me to always recognize You as the source and to always remember that they will someday rust...and they only have value as they help me to be closer to you. Give me the trust in you that will allow me to have no need of these things. Thank you for the most valuable gift of all, Your Life given so that I can have a choice. Help me to always choose You first.

Please be with my family this week. Keep them all safe and protect them from the evil one. I love you Lord and I want you to be the only treasure in my life that matters. Amen.

Why do you do good? | Matthew 6:16-18

Passage: Matthew 6:16-18 [Link-NKJV]

Mat 6:16  "And when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.
Mat 6:17  But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.
Mat 6:18  Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. [NLT]
Thoughts:
Are you concerned with your outward appearance? Asking myself this question I have to say that I am concerned with it too much. I spend a lot of my day worrying about what other people think of me and not nearly enough time worrying about what God thinks of me. Often it is easy to just say "Jesus loves me" and forget that he also wants me to be more like him, and to trust Him more.
In this passage He is not showing a concern with the doing of a good work (fasting in this case) but He is showing concern for the state of heart or the reason that the good work is being done. All outward show, all pomp and circumstance, all ritual and worldly favor mean nothing in the sight of God. God is concerned only with the state of the heart. Jesus was dealing with a problem that we face today in our churches. We do so much in order to please men...build bigger fancier churches, offer more personal services, brag about the size of our church, make beautiful music to be enjoyed and purchased by men, dress to impress at church, amaze our friends with our deep understanding of the bible, say flowery prayers with all the right words, kneel during prayer physically while the heart never even gets close to the ground, get upset when things aren't just the way we want them at church, or even brag of our good deeds to others by putting our name out there for all to see when we should be praising the only source of anything good or righteous. God sees the heart and that is what He is wanting from us, our heart...
Any of the things listed above can be done for the right reasons too.  They will be manifested in a totally different way if they are done with Jesus (in the heart) as the source. They will produce more good fruit. For instance, if God has given you the gift of music and you go out and make a recording. You then sell it and make a lot of money...do you increase your own worldly standing (fancier cars, bigger homes, etc) or do you give God the credit and also the reward?
Recently I had a spam email come to my attention. It was singing the praises of the gentleman, Rick Warren, who had written the very popular book "A Purpose Driven Church". Now, I don't know this mans heart, only God does, so I am using this as an example...not a judgement. In this email Rick was explaining how God had done wonderful things in his life. How he had blessed him with riches and given him a deeper understanding of what was really important. It all sounded very "good" and very "righteous"...but...the point of the email was for us to see the humbleness of Rick Warren and to see that he was not going to blow all the money but give it back to God. The email wanted us to see that Rick was a true man of God who would surely not personally benefit from his new found wealth. Again I say that I don't know this man's heart so I am using this as an example. It just seemed to me that the real point of the email was to ensure the reader that Rick Warren was a really great guy...not that God was a great God. It intended for us to see or notice the good deeds of Rick, and not God.

Do all that you do for Christ...let every action be for Him and Him alone. NOT as a way to gain salvation but because you have given Him your heart and now it can do nothing less than what He wants it to do.

Prayer:

Dear Father in Heaven,

Even this silly little blog of mine can seem to be a selfish indulgence sometimes. Lord, I pray earnestly that you will always use anything that I do to your glory. I don't want to spend my days caring only for myself. Please Lord, fill me with YOU so that there is no room for me. This is the deep desire of my heart...please take that desire out of the depths and make it fill all of my heart. I don't want to be two faced anymore...I want to be all for You. I ask this in the name of Jesus, who died so that I could have the right to ask it. Amen.