Rewards: Temporal or Everlasting?

Good morning!

This morning’s text is Jesus teaching on the spiritual nature of man, and how we can be in the true spirit of worship without being caught in hypocritical, religious worship.  He gives us examples to follow in giving, praying, fasting, and serving that will bring glory to God and everlasting rewards for us.

Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.  What does it mean to “do your alms”? Alms is a portion of ones own goods set apart for the relief of the poor.  It is not specifically money, but could also be part of the yearly harvest of a farmer, or clothing; basically any gift of charity is considered to be alms.  Jesus warns us not to “sound a trumpet” by letting everyone know what we are doing when we give a charitable gift.  He says not to let “thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth” or in other words don’t keep track of the things we give in charity.  Is it right to claim these things on our taxes?  If we do are we not getting our reward now?  How can it “be in secret” if we tell the federal government about it?  The media likes to talk about the celebrities that give hundreds of thousands of dollars to charity every year.  And that is great, but what spirit is it given in?  These same celebrities get huge tax breaks for doing so.  I am sure that there are some who do good with their wealth, but I am also sure that we will never hear about it either when it is done in the true spirit of giving.  If we seek to receive an earthly reward of men’s praise for what we do, we can forget about a reward in heaven. 

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.  Praying like giving is to be done in secret.  Does this mean we are not supposed to pray aloud at church? No, but anyone who has been called on during the service to pray knows how aware they are of the words they say.  We want our prayer to sound good to the ears of those around us.  Jesus was not condemning all public prayer.  There are many instances of the apostles praying out loud in front of the congregation.  There is true power in the prayer lifted up to God when many of His children stand in agreement.  Jesus is speaking of the abuse of this privilege.  It is the rehearsed prayer that is solely meant to impress those around us in focus here.  Jesus is calling for us to be in an intimate relationship with the Father; one where we seek His face and not just what He has in His hand for us.  Here is the best part!  “your Father knoweth” before we even ask what we need; but He wants us to ask Him.  He wants to talk to us personally, as a child would speak to their dad.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Jesus now gives us a model prayer but some have turned this into vain repetition too.  This was given to us as an example; not something to be mindlessly repeated over and over again.  I must confess that when I was a new Christian that is exactly what I would do.  Every night I would repeat this prayer as my only prayer until one day it occurred to me that I did not even know the real meaning of the word “Hallowed”!  How could I talk with the Father and not even know the meaning of the words I was saying to Him? 

The first part of the prayer involves our relationship to God, (verses 9-11) and the second part( verses 12 and 13); our relationship to our fellow man.

Our Father which art in heaven, This prayer is opened like none other before it.  Notice that Jesus says “Our Father”.  Jesus is our constant Intercessor.  When we pray He is right there with us!  Once we are born again we become the children of God and the brother or sister of the Lord Jesus.  God is now “Our Father” as well.  Jesus is with us as the indwelling Holy Ghost as we pray to the Father “which art in heaven”.  Hallowed be thy name. “Hallowed” means sacred, or associated with deity.  What is His name?  The only name He gave to Moses was I AM.  That is a name to be held in reverence for He is EVERYTHING!  I AM _______.  Just fill in the blank to what you need Him to be to you; whether it be Savior, healer, financial advisor, or provider of all your needs.  He is EVERYTHING that we will ever need.

10 Thy kingdom comeAs a regenerated Christian we are to pray for the arrival of the “kingdom” here on earth.  Once we become aware of the sinful nature of not only ourselves but this world, we should have a longing to see the kingdom of God fully instituted.   Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Prayer is not to be seen as a means to change the will of God, but rather to change our will to fit that of God’s perfect will.  Prayer is to bring us into conformity with God’s plan for us.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.  The word “bread” may be applied to the provision of daily food, or the Bread of Life that is the Word of God.  We “daily” need the Word dwelling in our hearts and minds to keep us in communion with God.  When the Israelites wandered through the wilderness for 40 years God provided His manna from Heaven to sustain them.  Why would He not much more give us the Bread of Life, the Lord Jesus, to sustain us as we wander in this strange land?

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  The greatest debt we owe is our sin debt that Jesus paid for us on Calvary.  Our selfless acts of alms giving should also include forgiving those who borrow from us and do not repay.  It is better to suffer the lose than to boast of the gift.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: This is not a plea made to God so that He does not “lead us” “into temptation”.  This issue is covered by the book of James.  James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.   God does not tempt us with evil, but we can be tempted to commit evil by the epitome of evil.  This is a plea for God to help us when we are tempted by Satan.  The New International Version of the Bible adds the word “one” after evil in this Scripture, and it completely leaves out these next 14 words!  And this is why I refer to the NIV as the Non-Inspired Version!  Why would this be left out?

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.   Why would we ever want to leave out this doxology of praise to God?  A very similar doxology of praise was given in 1 Chronicles 29:11 Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.  Amen!

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  How can we not forgive each other for “trespasses” or wrongs done to us when God has so completely forgive us for all of our sins and trespasses?  This carries a warning for the believer.  If we seek forgiveness, we too must be willing to give it!

Tomorrow we will finish up this chapter!  There is a lot of good stuff here to be had!

Take my word for nothing; go to the Source and read it for yourself.  And as always to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be all the Glory forever.

FAITH: Forsaking All, I Trust Him.

The Beatitudes

Good morning!

November 1st. wow! Where did the summer go?  Yesterday around these parts, it was a shock to the system.  The temperature barely got into the 50’s and the winds were terrific.  The older I get the less enthused I am about the approach of winter.

In our Scripture text this morning, we will be reading about the longest discourse the Lord gives, The Sermon on the Mount.  There had not arisen a prophet in Israel for over 400 years, but this Man was no ordinary prophet.  He was quickly gathering a large following both for the message He gave, and the miracles of healing He performed.

Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,  Many believe that the Sermon on the Mount was delivered to the “multitudes”, but is that what the Scripture says?  Jesus is recorded in Scripture to often go apart from the crowd that was so often around Him to pray and sometimes just to rest.  A careful reading of these verses reveals that He saw the multitude, but then separated Himself from them.  The message of the Sermon on the Mount was for the disciples.  He “taught them, saying”.

The Beatitudes

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The word beatitude means “a state of supreme happiness or blessedness”.  These verses are not given to tell how to be saved, but rather to tell those who are already saved how to obtain this blessed state of happiness on this side of glory.

“Blessed” or happy “are the poor in spirit”.  To be poor in spirit is to be the exact opposite of haughty or proud in spirit.  Jesus was poor in spirit, but we all know the Spirit He had!  He was humble and meek, when He could have been proud and boastful.  Those who have been humbled by the acknowledgment of their own sin, and are dependent on the grace of God constitute the poor in spirit.  Notice here that the “kingdom of heaven” by the little word “is” makes it to be ours already.  We are guaranteed a spot in heaven as soon as God touches our lives.  We do not need to wait for our death; our eternal life begins when our hearts are cleansed by the Master’s touch!

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.   What a promise this is to we who are struggling along in this life!  This sounds like a great contradiction though doesn’t it?  How can we be “blessed” or happy as we mourn?  We all have a host of things we mourn or grieve over.  The death of loved one, sickness, problems with family and children, and the list goes on.   The saved by grace know that death holds no sting for the believer.  We have the assurance of seeing the mourned loved one again, and this is a great comfort.  We mourn for our own personal sinful state, but God gives us the Comforter to let us know that everything is right between us and God.   The blood of Jesus covers and protects us from the penalty that we so richly deserve.  We are comforted in confession for our own sin, and we are comforted when we mourn for the sin of others because we know the compassion of our great God toward the sinner!

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. This can be tied in with the poor in spirit.  To be meek is to be not easily provoked.  Jesus was the epitome of meekness!  He took every bit of our punishment in His own body, but returned not a word to His oppressors.  At first glace we may ask ourselves; Who would want to “inherit the earth” in its fallen state?  But what the Scripture is referring to is that blessed time when the Lord rules from the New Jerusalem on the New Earth.  Sin, death, Satan, the Antichrist, and the Beast will all be cast into the Lake of Fire.  The earth will be cleansed of all unrighteousness.  It will once again be the way God first made the Garden of Eden.  So yeah!  I would like to have some real estate there!

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  This should be the plight of everyone saved by grace.  We are to “hunger and thirst” after the things that are pleasing to God.  It constitutes a repeating procedure. We will be hungry and thirsty, and be filled only to hunger and thirst again.  The phrasing here of “do hunger” implies many times we will hunger and many times we will be filled.  Paul said it best in Romans 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  It is an ongoing process; a constant seeking that which is good and pleasing to God with the assurance of being filled and transformed.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. We have already obtained “mercy” from God when we became His followers.  This is speaking to those who are merciful to those who are yet to come to the realization that they too need mercy.  The believer does not show mercy in order to obtain mercy; but rather shows mercy because they have already obtained mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.   Happy are “the pure in heart”.  There is only one way to be pure of heart, and that is to surrender the sinful heart to God.  Those whose lives have be transformed by the grace of God, and have the blood of Jesus covering the door posts and lintels of their hearts.  Only those with a heart that has been purified “shall see God”.  They are not yet sinless, but their position before God has been changed.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. In order to be a “peacemaker” one must first be at peace with God.  They have entered into the peace that is described in Philippians 4:7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  One who has experienced this great peace strives to have the same peace with others.  We are distressed when there is discord among the people around them.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  This too seems to defy logic.  How can we be “blessed” or happy when we are in the middle of being persecuted?  The key is “for righteousness’ sake” or in other words for Jesus’ names sake.  All through the New Testament is stories of those who were striving to bring the Gospel to the world being thrown in prison, beaten, and ridiculed for the sake of the Gospel itself.  We may never see these extremes, but we can probably all think of a time when we were rejected or ridiculed for our faith.  The promise here again is the “kingdom of heaven” and friend it doesn’t get any better than that!

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.  Jesus now points the finger directly at YOU.  “Ye” are blessed when this “shall” happen to you.  Not if it happens, but when it happens.  If we are true to our calling by God we will be “falsely” accused at some point or another.  We are in good company when we are shunned for the Gospel.  Greater men than we have been down the same road.  The trials of this life will pale in comparison when side by side with our “great” “reward in heaven”. 

The Salt of the Earth

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  Jesus is not saying here that we will be cast out of His love and protection if we lose our saltiness.  He is saying that we will be “trodden under foot of MEN”.  They will chew us up and spit us out if they get the chance.  A Christian in a weakened state is susceptible to the attacks of Satan.  We read yesterday about Jesus being tempted by the Devil when His human state was at its weakest.  He was able to maintain because He was well versed in how the Devil operates and the Scripture He needed to shut down the assault.  The heart and mind must be filled with the “salt” of the Word of God.  Salt adds flavor, preserves, melts the coldness, and heals wounds.  Sound familiar?  It should.  That is exactly what the Word of God does for the Christian walk!  Our “savour” is the Word of God that dwells in our heart. 

The Light of the World

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Again the finger of Jesus is directed at YOU.  “Ye are the light of the world”.  This world is a dark placed filled with the depravity of man.  No matter how much darkness there is, the tiniest light can shine forth.  Light dispels darkness, but darkness can never dispel the Light of the Gospel.  We are to shine forth from the “hill”, to stand out in this world as being different from this world.  We are to boldly display our light in all that we do and never “put it under a bushel” over cover it.  How could we be ashamed to let the Light that has done so much for us be hidden?

Tomorrow part 2 of the Sermon on the Mount.

Take my word for nothing; go to the Source and read it for yourself.  And as always to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be all the Glory forever.

FAITH: Forsaking All, I Trust Him.