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.

If Thou Be the Son of God…..

Good morning!

This morning’s study takes us to the wilderness and a show down between the forces of Good and evil.  I was shocked to read that some even think the actual attack never happened between Jesus and Satan.  They say it was a hallucination of Jesus’ from being so hungry!  It never ceases to amaze me at the lengths the world will go to to discount the Word of God!  There was really never a contest, but when a mosquito bites an elephant it is still an actual attack even though the mosquito never stood a chance of bringing the elephant down!  The mosquito is just a temporary annoyance.

Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.   This immediately follows the baptism of Jesus.  The Spirit of God descended on Jesus to strengthen Him for this attack.  A normal human would have been so emaciated and weakened by a “forty day and forty night” fast we would probably have been in a coma.  But, this was no ordinary man!  Satan foolishly thought that once the human side of Jesus was weakened that He would succumb to anything he threw at them.  The first attack was leveled at Jesus’ empty stomach.  “If thou be the Son of God..” is Satan’s way of saying the old childish taunt of “Prove it!”  Jesus’ answer comes from Deuteronomy 8:3 when the children of Israel were fed in the wilderness by the manna of God.  And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.   Jesus is the Bread of Life.  The Words He spoke told us of the Father; they are the things that feed the hungry soul.

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.  Next Satan tempts Jesus with trying to make Him prove that the prophecy about Him is true.  This is a quote from Psalm 91:11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. In the “holy city” of Jerusalem, Satan takes Him to the “pinnacle” or the spire’s top of the temple.  This would be a temptation of God.  There are some folks today who take the promise of once saved always saved and distort the message.  They foolish assume that they can do anything they want to then and would not be held accountable.  Nothing is further from the truth.  Our eternal security does not give us a free pass from the punishment or judgment of sin in our lives. This is tempting God in the truest form!  But also, if we are truly saved to begin with we will not want to do the things that will bring God’s judgment upon us.  Jesus replies with a Scripture quote of His own again.  Deuteronomy 6:16 Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.   Satan saves the most preposterous temptation for last.  It may seem to us that Satan has the authority over this present world, but it was never his to give!  Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?   God is the Master of the entire universe; always has been; always will be!  Jesus fires back:  Deuteronomy 6:13 Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.  Jesus could have called an army of angels to attack Satan, but why do that when he can be effectively defeated with nothing more than the Word of God!  This is given to us for an example.  We have the exact same power that our Lord used here!  If we bind these words in our hearts and learn to quote them when the tempter comes knocking on our door, we too will be successful at resisting him!  Satan does not stand a chance against the Word of God!  There is absolutely no truth to be found in him and he cannot stand to be confronted by the truth.  So when he comes (and he will) look him square in the face and shout: Get thee “hence” or behind me Satan!

11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.  We are not told if all these temptation came in one day or were over several days during His fast, but the outcome is the same.  His physical flesh that He took on for you and me had to have been exhausted, but His sinless Spirit stood tall.  The “angels came and ministered unto him” everything that He needed to be strong again.  His work was just beginning.  He had been tried in the furnace, and now He was strong enough to complete the work God had given Him.

 Jesus Begins His Ministry

12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.   The circumstances surrounding John’s imprisonment and eventual beheading are recorded in chapter 14 of Matthew. With John now being held captive, Jesus picks up the message of repentance. John was just to pave the way for Jesus; it is the Lord who completes the work in the repentant heart. The Scripture quoted here is from Isaiah 9:1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Jesus Calls Four Fishermen

18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.  These are the first 2 disciples publicly called by Jesus.  It would be interesting to know how long these men had been groomed in some unknown way for this day!  I am sure they were called before the foundation of the world for their work for the Lord.  All the great prophets were known of God before their feet touched the planet earth.  This men had the awesome task of taking the Word of God as far and wide as they possibly could.  They “straightway” or immediately left their former life to walk the path of the Lord!  No looking back, only steadfastly forward in His work.

21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.  The brothers James and John are called next by the Lord.  They are referred to by Scripture as “the sons of thunder” in Mark chapter 3.  They must have been  loud and boisterous!  James, John and Peter make up the 3 most trusted disciples of Jesus.  They were privy to some of the most incredible miracles of Jesus’ ministry:  The raising of Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5.  The Transfiguration in Mark 9.  And they were the ones with Jesus the night before the crucifixion in the garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14.   James is the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in Scripture.  John on the other hand lived to be a ripe old age.

Jesus Ministers to a Great Multitude

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. 24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. 25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.  These closing verses sum up the Galilean ministry of Jesus.  He concentrated on “preaching the gospel of the kingdom” to the people.  He healed every sort of “diseases and torment” to befell the people of His day.  His fame for the healings He did drew a great multitude of people, but did they understand the greater healing He was preaching?

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.

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