Treasure in heaven


Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be. No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the  other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.   Matt.6:19-24   

No one can serve two masters;this is the main point of this section of scripture. And how relevant it is today. In 1979, Bob Dylan won his first Grammy award with a song titled “You gotta serve somebody” and he was correct! We certainly do! Without quoting the whole song he says,”You gotta serve somebody. It may be the Devil or it may be the Lord, but your gonna have to serve somebody.”

Who is your master? Let’s look within ourselves, deep within ourselves. Do I invest in things that will not last? Do I realize the things I do the most, or spend the most time doing, are the things I value the most?

Jesus commands us not to invest in what will not last, but to invest in heavenly treasures. And whichever we decide, reveals our heart. Jesus is so good about bringing it back to our hearts. Examining our motivations. Making us see where our own loyalities lie.

The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be. Jesus uses this parable here to point out the need for us disciples to take seriously his teaching on the brevity of earthly treasures. Love of God and love of neighbor show themselves to be eternal treasure. The love of mammon doesn’t.

So, who are you gonna serve?

Fasting


When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.  Matt. 6:16-18

Fasting. Done any lately? Contrary to what a pastors wife once told my oldest daughter, there are many varieties of fasts, not just food and drink.

First, let’s note that Jesus says “when” you fast not “if” you fast. Fasting is a great way to develop spiritual discipline. The idea in fasting, whether food or television, is in what you give up, use that time to draw closer to God.

Give up T.V. for a night a week, and spend it in prayer or bible study. Give up golf one Saturday a month and serve in the soup kitchen. Leave work at work on Sundays and worship God with your family. God gives us so many opportunities and we squander enough.

Remember, it is not an advertisement of your righteousness. This is between you and your Father.

And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.

Amen.

The Lords prayer


This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions. Matt. 6:9-15   

There are many ways to apply this prayer to our lives, I'll do the simplest one.

1) Our Father in heaven: "our" signifies the believers relationship with one another, and " Father" signifies the relationship of the believer with God. Praying to " Our Father" is His family, working together with Him to accomplish His will for our family.

2) hallowed be your name: most holy is "our Father," again remember the first beatitude,"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

3) your kingdom come: the first petition of the prayer asks for God's actions to supersede our own.

4) your will be done, on earth as in heaven: a petition that God's purpose to establish the kingdom, a purpose present now in heaven, be executed on earth.

5) Give us today our daily bread: also translated, bread for the coming day or needful bread. This is a petition for physical bread as well as spiritual bread. God provides food for our bodies to be nourished, and the Eucharistic bread for the nourishment of our souls.

6) and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors: this petition asks our Father to forgive our sins as (or just like) we forgive those who sin against us.(See verses 14 & 15.)

7) do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one: Jewish apocalyptic writings speak of a period of severe trial before the end of the age, sometimes called the "Messianic woes." This petition asks that we be spared that final test and God deliver His children from the influence and deceit of Satan.

8) If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.  This ties us back to verse 12. This is a challenge we must accept. A commandment we must obey.

Also notice, Jesus said," This is how you are to pray," this is our model and should be the foundation of all our personal prayers.

Amen.

It all comes back to discipleship


When I was a boy growing up, my parents told me about this man. He dressed up in a red and white suit, drove a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer. Every Christmas Eve, if I was a good boy all year, he would leave me presents and usually the ones I had asked for. As I grew up, I stopped believing it was true and my parents confirmed it. But as a child, I really believed in Santa Claus, because that is what I was told.

I’ve been in a discussion about moral relativism, legalism and the standard debate turns to the subject of alcohol. How can one christian be convicted not to drink and one think it’s O.K.?

As you study the bible, you see, drinking is never called a sin. Getting drunk always is. Eating is never called a sin. Gluttony always is. Then it dawned on me, ” it all comes back to discipleship”.

If I’m taught that the bible teaches drinking is a sin, I’ll believe it. Until that day comes, like with Santa Claus, I’m old enough to study the scriptures myself and realize drunkenness is the sin.

You can have a drink without being a drunk, just like you can eat a hamburger without being a glutton. And had I grown up hearing the “gluttony” sermons, I’d have a much different view of “super size.”

Someone said it’s a cultural thing. Maybe I’d be better suited to be in Germany for their fine brewed beer, or France or Italy for their wines. As part of their culture, for the most part, drinking is a non-issue amongst christians. Because they learn otherwise.

Someone said it’s perception. And if someone sees me staggering out of Joe’s nightclub, that’s one thing, but if I bring home a bottle of White Zinfandel to go with the grilled swordfish for dinner,that’s another thing.

Someone asked “Is it holy?” I guess a glass of wine brings me as close to God as a grilled swordfish dinner.

Someone said it may cost someone their salvation, and that could be true. For if someone who drinks moderately thinks they’ll be judged by those christians, who think drinking is a sin, decide not to go to church and never hear the gospel, yes that cost them their salvation.

Temperance is not preached much (if any) from the pulpit and I really don’t know why. If we choose to drink a glass of wine or beer isn’t the issue. It’s where does your belief system stem from. Don’t say the bible says drinking is a sin, when it doesn’t say that ( no-one did by the way). We need to teach the truth, that moderate drinking is O.K., it’s biblical. The hypocrisy comes from the mis-teaching of the bible.

So the issue isn’t moral relativism, legalism, culture, perception or even holiness.  

It all comes back to discipleship. Teaching the truth.

Prayer


When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Matt.  6:5-8 

Who better to teach about prayer than Jesus? The Eternal God himself. Who better would know how to effectively pray to God? And the disciples, and the rest of the crowd may think it strange not to pray like the "righteous" Pharisees. Didn't they have their act together? Isn't God in their back pocket?

Instead, Jesus tells his disciples to go to their inner room, close the door and pray in secret. Why? Jesus is stressing intimacy with the Father. If our relationship with God is only in the public arena (church,sunday school,bible study) then it is only superficial. Jesus is telling us here that God is interested in every aspect of our lives. And not only wants us to know him but trust him and to live for him with purpose and direction.

Let us not crave the attention others may give us. Let's crave God's attention. Don't babble on and on like the pagans, simply ask.

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.    

Almsgiving


But take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.  

Jesus again challenges our motivation. He does not condem the righteous deeds, only the self-serving reason the deeds are done. If you give to the needy and they are helped, that is their blessing. If you give to be recognized by others, then that's your reward. You will have no reward from your heavenly Father.

Notice another thing. Jesus didn't say "if" you give alms, he said "when" you give alms. He expects us to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

Two things to remember when giving; give in silence and give in secret.

Whatever is done in secret is only known to God. This is not a faith matter, this is a fruits matter. If our faith is a living faith, the fruits produced will be evident to those around us. If our faith is a dead faith, that will be evident as well. We can fool others, even fool ourselves but we can't fool God. He knows our motivations, our sincerity and He will repay us accordingly.

May we all cheerfully give of our time, talent and treasure.

Somebody please tell me what this means


I read a newspaper article the other day about a pastor, who shared his 10 tips for an evangelistic invitation. It was an interesting read, but I had a problem understanding point #7. Here it is:

"Be straightforward with passionate, unapologetic truth that is authoritative but not authoritarian."   

Any ideas?