“Do not give that which is holy (the sacred thing) to the dogs, and do not throw your pearls before hogs, lest they trample upon them with their feet and turn and tear you in pieces.” Matthew 7:6 ->me: This verse is nestled in between the passage from yesterday on judgement and next verses on praying. I have spent my entire QT looking up references and other teaching on this verse and the closest I have found is 1 John 5:16 “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.”. So, what do I take away from my QTVOTD? I think Jesus is talking about teaching -> there are some people whose hearts have become so hardened that they are no longer open and willing to hear the Truths of the Gospel or biblical instruction. The danger here is that I too quickly label someone ‘one of these hardened hearts’. This is where ‘The Helper’, the Holy Spirit becomes so important and that my spiritual life is in a place where His voice is loud and clear. Simply, my focus should be investing in people whether that is in admonishment, prayer, service, or teaching…I will trust that the Holy Spirit will let me know when I have reached the end of my ability to be used in a given person’s life because of the choices they have made. Until then, I will see every relationship I have as a divine appointment and opportunity for God to use me to speak into their lives. The stakes are too high for me to depend on my frail and earthly logic to make the decision on my own.
“Why do you stare from without at the very small particle that is in your brother’s eye but do not become aware of and consider the beam of timber that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first get the beam of timber out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the tiny particle out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3&5 ->me: I think I would consider myself a very ‘Black and White’ person when it comes to evaluating the actions and behavior of others (my wife is laughing right now in agreement as she reads this). God’s teaching for me today is not only compassion for others as we are all in the same spiritual condition before the Lord, but to hold my inner judgements and categorizing of people based on what I see in their choices and walk. Jesus is saying here that I need to get my own house in order before making comments on the cleanliness of someone else’s. What I know to be true is that when I pull that proverbial log out of my own eye, by coming before the Lord on my knees in confession, is that I also gain a more Christlike compassion for those who struggle…my focus on them no longer becomes to point out their faults, but to come alongside and be available to bring them closer to the Lord where He can be the one to reveal their sin. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn, but to bring sinners to repentance (John 12:47).
“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:33-34 ->me: I started in verse 24 today. The verses following this and up to my Quiet Time verses above are all about 2 primary things: 1) Do not serve the things of the this world; neither the things you have or the things you don’t. 2) Do not worry about the provisions of life (food, shelter, or clothing). BUT! First seek God’s Kingdom and Righteousness…THEN, all of these things will be given to you. What impressed me most this morning (even though I have read this passage many times) is that He needs to be my sole desire and that I need to be learning and applying His way of doing things and living His truth. Only when I do this will He take care of all of my NEEDS (not wants). Additionally, God’s provision for my needs does not guarantee a life without problems. However, I should not multiply my trouble ahead by worrying about it. God knows about these things ahead and I can trust Him to both deal with them and give me comfort and peace and through them when the time comes. Notice how today’s points build on yesterday’s teaching? Yep, this is how God continues to work in my life.
No verse today but some revelations and new purpose. Today I was urged by the Holy Spirit to attend the Men’s Breakfast at church and I am so glad I obeyed: 1) I got precious time with my cousin. 2) I heard a word from Pastor Koby that was very convicting (1 Corinthians 16:13 – “Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith (your conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it). Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength!”). As a man of God I must be watchful, I must be firm in my faith, and I must be a strong and courageous man of my home and sphere of influence. Watchful means that I am going guard myself against my own sinful tendencies (covetousness, viewing habits, witness at work, more time in the prayer closet). I will stand firm in my faith….well I can’t do this unless I have a rock solid understanding of God’s word (today I started the ~1290 page book on Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem). I must decrease so that God’s strength can increase. It is only when I have let go of myself, let go of my own knee-jerk responses to my kids, let go of my pride in my marriage, and let go of my ego at work that I will create a bucket of weakness that God can replace with His strength. I am so thankful for His consistent chastening of my sanctification—I have so far to go…
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light, but if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness!” Matthew 6:20-23 ->me: I have been chewing on these verses for 3 days now and here is the short version of what the Lord has revealed to me. The translation of the Greek word used for ‘sound’ (Haplous) actually more closely translates to ‘Single’. There is another variant of the that Greek word (Haplotes) that can also mean generosity. This whole passage on the eye being the lamp of the body is about the undivided loyalty to God alone. There seems to be a deliberate double-entendre here, with haplous taking up not only the theme of undivided loyalty (single focused) but also that of detachment from material concern, hence of generosity. Now you pair this with verse 20 on ‘where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ really drives home that my purpose must be to center my navigation reticle on Jesus, and through generosity of spirit be willing to let go of those things I call ‘my possessions’ and give them to the Lord’s work. In doing this, my investments are being made in eternity; not in anything here on earth which will fade away.
“And whenever you are fasting, do not look gloomy and sour and dreary like the hypocrites, for they put on a dismal countenance, that their fasting may be apparent to and seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full already. But when you fast, perfume your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may not be noticed by men but by your Father, Who sees in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.” Matthew 6:16-18 ->me: Happy Easter!! Our family had the wonderful opportunity to witness the baptism of my uncle along with what seemed like ~25 other people in the one service we went to at Northshore Community Church. I can not think of a better way to usher in and remember the Risen Lord than to witness the burial and resurrection of so many people. Additionally to understand what this means for my uncle is so precious. This caution on fasting is the last of this section from Jesus on being careful in the state of my heart when exercising deeds through faith. The one and only recipient of the glory in everything we do must be God alone. When Jesus talks about storing up treasures in heaven (psst. this is next in my reading…) by doing His work, He is saying that no treasure is stored in heaven for effort expended here on earth when glory sought is for oneself; your treasure is already rewarded in the receipt of the glory. It brings so much meaning to the phase ‘whoever makes much of Me before men, I will make much of him before My Father’.
“For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 ->me: These 2 verses follow the Lord’s prayer and it seems that Jesus is adding more detail to this section ‘and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’. This really drives home that none of us can escape guilt. I would almost tend to read it this way ‘since your heavenly Father has so greatly forgiven you all of your sin, through the price of the shed blood of His Son on the cross, then there is no individual who does not deserve the same type of forgiveness from you’. The parable of the King forgiving the debts of the attendant in Matthew 18:23–35 gives the perfect picture of this. If you remember the story, the King forgave one of his attendants of an obscene amount of money but then that attendant refused to forgive one of his own servants for a small amount of money they owed him (had him sent to jail until payment was remitted). The king having heard what happened, in turn chastised the attendant and had him tortured and thrown into jail himself. There can be no question, of course, that my forgiving being in proportion to what I am forgiven.
“Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors. And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:9-13 ->me: Reading the Lord’s prayer today, I realized I missed some important aspects to think about from my QT yesterday. 1) When I ask for what I need, I only ask for that provision for ‘today’. 2) My debts can be translated ‘sins’, eg. ‘forgive my sins towards You God as I also for give people of their sins against me’. 3) The commentaries mostly point to the fact that the words used for ‘temptation’ in this case more closely translate to ‘testing’. This would make sense because the disciples would want to be spared from testing in their most vulnerable areas. 4) ‘Protect us from’ is not the same as ‘deliver us from’ the evil one. Jesus knew that I am in control of my own choices, so it stands to reason that I would fall into the snares of the evil one on occasion. Thus, delivery from the evil one when this happens. Finally, one additional thing that I would add to yesterday’s list of ‘When I pray’ items is ‘Thankfulness’. There are many other passages (especially Paul) that talk about thankfulness being a part of our prayer life. I believe that Jesus’ primary point is not the exact prayer He lays out but more as an example of brevity in response to verse 7.
“But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open. And when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:6-8 ->me: Prayer is: Necessary, Deliberate, Selfless in perception, Worship – For God’s glory, an avenue to make requests, our confessional, concise, and private – between me and God. When I pray -> I recognize Who God is and forget who I am. When I pray -> I open up my heart in recognition of my filthiness and accept God’s grace in the Justification I have been given at the price of the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. When I pray -> I respectfully ask for God’s hand in the affairs and circumstances I am prayerful about. I make requests based on my perceived needs but immediately reinforce that it is God’s will and purposes I desire to be completed fully. When I pray -> I ask God for the strength to endure when the will of God causes me to persevere an earthly hardship. When I pray -> I ask that the Lord would help me see His teaching in my trials; and then request the inner fortitude to adhere to what I have been taught. When I pray -> I close with the knowledge and understanding that Jesus is right there representing me the to Father…being my Intercessor knowing personally the earthly struggles I am in.
“[JESUS]TAKE CARE not to do your good deeds publicly or before men, in order to be seen by them; otherwise you will have no reward with and from your Father Who is in heaven. Thus, whenever you give to the poor, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets like to do, that they may be recognized and honored and praised by men. Truly I tell you, they have their reward in full already.” Matthew 6:1-2 ->me: Before the Lord called me into this season in my life – I was one of these people who sought recognition from giving. Whether it was including my name on giving through work avenues or charitable giving through the church. I loved ‘knowing’ that I would be seen as an upstanding person in the eyes of the receiver and processor…and that was my reward paid in full. In these last 3 years that God has really taken ahold of my life I now see the pride and self idolatry in those acts. What is interesting is that this verse, on face value, seems to conflict with Matthew 5:16 – but the focus in this passage is on what follows -> Almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. There is a world of difference between living a conspicuously good and godly life (5:13-16) and striving to gain reputation for piety. The difference is not only in the motive, but in the result; the former brings glory to God, the latter only to the performer. When I show-off I get what I have earned -> the approval of men. The quality of God’s reward in heaven is not even comparable to the earthly reward of the approval of men. When I give with a desire to be seen by men, what I am really showing is my lack of reverence, joy, and hope in an eternity with Jesus.