Matthew 7 part 2–Doing vs Being a Christian

One of the great controversies among believers is the struggle of Doing Christianity vs. Being a Christian.  It is so much easier to do tasks and complete checklists than to surrender and simply follow the Lord.  Many faith traditions started out with the basic principles of loving God and Loving others and through time built formulas, regulations and duties to make objective that which God intended to be inherent.

God does not care as much about what we do as he cares about our willingness to surrender to his leadership.  When we get caught up in the checklist of doing Christianity, we lose the ability to enjoy the freedom of simply being God’s kid.  God wants us to act like his kid—be relaxed to simply look, identify and be like Him. In that mode, actions are still glorifying to him, but, that is not the focus.  His presence in us is what shines through.  When the opposite happens, no matter how much is done, there is no heart change and no identity with Christ.  IN THE END,  IT IS A RELATIONSHIP NOT A RELIGION—A DAILY WALK NOT A ROUTINE. Help me Lord to follow you and be content to BE NOT DO Christianity  

God Bless You

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Don’t Judge–God or Men Matthew 7 part 1

God gave us a brain…While that is an incredible gift–sometimes we make judgments we think reasonable based upon only a part of the story or perceptions we form without any facts to support them. When we do that often we hurt others or at least fail to encourage and assist them because of that judgment.  In the past we might have judged others, now we listen, pray and seek to minister.  In the same way, we used to judge God.  We decided what things were worthy of his attention and what things we needed to handle on our own. Now we know there are no things the Father lacks an interest when it relates to us, his kids.  We now seek his direction and blessing in our decisions, his gifts and his plans for us and our kids.

We need to live a life free of judgment, judgment of others, ourselves or God. That does not mean we do not respect and protect our lives or family—it simply means we do not live thinking we know it all, all people, all circumstances and all our needs.  The pattern is to seek God, ask him for provision and direction and allow him to lead guide and direct us to peace and freedom.  We do not need to judge others—God will do that too.

God Bless You

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Don’t Worry–Mattew 6 final

The essence of faith is walking and acting as if we believe God is God and we are not.  God’s plan so often seems like it won’t work. It does not make sense to give when you are poor, to praise God in the midst of tough times, to love and pray for your enemies and to wait patiently when it seems all is falling apart. That is why God calls us to simply follow him and trust him.  He sees the big picture—he knows exactly what your journey looks like.  He loves you and wants to make you free and blessed.  It is difficult to pass through trials and not fret a bit. 

Faith is the continued movement toward God and his plan when all the pressure is to withdraw and move away.  God does not expect us to be perfect.  He is not shocked when we have a bad day and seem less than at peace.  He only wants to take the burden and allow us to function with joy and sanity.  He hates to see us struggle.  He provides for flowers and birds to remind us that such attention to the insignificant is a message that he will greatly care for us his chosen.  Take heart, Don’t worry and follow God—He loves you and has you in his hands

God Bless You

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Treasure– Matt 6 continued

Where is your heart? It is an obvious question and not that difficult to determine. We can often locate our passions by simply looking at our calendar.  Where do we spend our time, where do our thoughts stray to.  How do we spend our free time?  Here is the most telling question…What one thing can you not live without.  As we search our hearts to answer these questions, do not be discouraged. We all have different things that occupy our daily thoughts—bills, kids, work, vacation and even what is for supper.  Jesus is simply reminding us that we need to evaluate our passion from an eternal perspective.  Which of my passions will leave a legacy?  Which will impact friends and family.  Which will honor God and draw me closer to him.

It is great to have interests in life.  Work, bills, kids and life are automatic passions—but then we need to prioritize our lives to use the Lord as a leader, navigator and passion source to refocus us to the eternal side of life.  It is a discipline that requires daily training and commitment. As we train, we begin to release the stuff that does not really benefit us and embrace the stuff that makes and leaves a legacy.  Help me Lord to live in the eternal and not the temporal.

Godd Bless You

 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

 

Matthew 6 part 2–Prayer

One of the amazing ironies in life is the Lord’s prayer. As Jesus talked to  the crowd, he was laying out to them what the Father was concerned about.  As he began to discuss prayer, he focused upon three things, attitude, solitude and purpose.  Jesus said prayer is not about the show—there are no prayer style points.  You will neither be judged nor rewarded because you look or sound good when you pray.  Prayer is to be personal, authentic and real.  God wants you simply to speak your heart. Next, Prayer is not to be an event—it is to be a conversation.  God loves you to be one-on-one; no distractions no fanfare.  He encourages us to get alone and get real. Finally, God wants us not to simply babble words, he wants our prayers to be thoughtful, meaningful discourse that honors and thanks him. We need to be humble, real and open as we talk to God.  He wants to know our thoughts, attitudes and fears.

That  is what is so ironic about the “Lord’s Prayer” Jesus never intended it to be a formula.  It is not a set of magic words. When we recite it, it should remind us that He wants us to be real, specific and honest. So when we pray, let’s not simply recite words—let’s share our hearts with the Father!

God Bless You

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6 part 1–Why why is Important

God is concerned most with the attitude of your heart. Throughout time men have practiced checklist religion.  They have strived to attend, sacrifice, worship and follow rules simply to check that off the list of things they need to do to get to heaven.  Like most parents, God wants us to do the things that draw us closer to him.  But, to do them out of mere obligation is not a sign of quality real relationship.  In addition, obligatory religion screams out for self promotion and the need for praise.  We want the recognition for our splendid religious behavior.

God says, he sees all our actions and our attitudes.  He wants his kids to worship because they love him—not because they feel obligated or need the praise of men. When we worship out of love, it really does not matter who sees or knows.  When we give out of love, it does not matter if we are ever repaid or rewarded. If we obey out of love, the obedience does not feel like a burden—but like a joyful act of freedom.  As we walk today, we need to look at the whys in our lives and seek to answer them with I Love You Lord.

God Bless You

6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matthew 5 Part 4–Counter Culture

Christianity is and will always be COUNTER culture.  And though we are called to be Christ’s ambassadors—that means be in the world but not like the world.  Jesus saw that to be important in how we treat others.  We are to rise above petty arguing and vengeful thought.  We are to treat with respect those our culture would not.  We are to forgive the unforgivable, love the unlovable and be light to those that exude darkness. 

The sad news is that the world will continue to hate us even though we refuse to stoop to their level. So, no matter, how we show God to the world, we cannot expect them to offer that grace back.  That is what makes us like the Lord—he loves unconditionally.  When we live as he lives we walk free of bitterness and hopelessness.  We can be ourselves and know that who we are is not effected by those who are bent on our destruction. It is hard work, but, to walk like that is an incredibly freeing experience.  Make this the week that you love those who failed to love you. That is God’s week every week.

God Bless You

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.