That Changes Everything

MAY 21

MATTHEW 6:5_Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward.

Jesus says if you live life the world’s way, you will have the world’s rewards.

The prayers of the hypocrites do not go unrewarded. Perhaps they get the best seats in the synagogues. Perhaps they receive high positions of administration. Whatever their rewards, a very sad fact remains – the prayers of a self-glorifying hypocrite can never help the seeker find the Savior. 

The hypocrite loses God’s reward. Nothing in life is worth that—no praise—no financial gain—no high position—no fame. The praise, money, position, fame, could be a way God chooses to reward you openly. They also could be how the world rewards you.

Jesus makes clear what the problem is with the hypocrites’ public prayers – to be seen of men. That changes everything. These are not prayers of communication between the potter and the clay. These are prayers of self-glory. They communicate, “What a good and pious person I am, everyone should be like me.”

Read this one more time – the world rewards with bondage, God rewards with freedom.   

PRAYER

Holy Jesus, Teach me how to pray in private and in public. Teach me to know the difference. Place in my heart the desire to receive Your rewards, not the world’s. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen. 

Christ’s rewards give freedom—I want that!

Prayer Encourages Seekers

MAY 20

MATTHEW 6:5_thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are for they love to pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men…

Oh my goodness! Here we go with the hypocrites again! And, they are back in the synagogues and the streets! Jesus doesn’t want the praying there any more than He wanted the alms giving there.

Don’t get confused about this – the devil would love to deceive you into believing that you should not pray out loud. If you are a part of a youth group that prays together – stay with it and pray together.. 

Praying out loud is a part of the salt and light process. Prayer encourages seekers who may be a part of your group. Helping the seekers find their way is what salt and light are meant to do.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead He prayed out loud. John 11:41-42 (KJV), “And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”

There was a large crowd gathered to comfort the sisters of Lazarus. Jesus purposely prayed out loud. Any unbelievers in the group would know first, that Jesus was sent by God, and second, that God always hears prayer.

The result was the greatest miracle Jesus performed in His earthly life!

PRAYER

God of Heaven, Please let my prayers give attention to You, not me! In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen. 

Christ’s prayers were salt and light—mine should be too!

It Is They

MAY 10

MATTHEW 6:2_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.

Hypocrites. If anyone makes the Bible and the Christian faith look bad, it is they. If anyone can make a good act look bad, it is they. If anyone can make what should be an act of love turn into ego, it is they. If anyone can tip the scales so judgment outweighs mercy, it is they. If anyone can take a lie and cleverly disguise it as the truth, it is they. 

Is it any wonder Jesus accepted the thieves, murderers, and morally impure over the religious hypocrites?

The former came to Jesus broken, bleeding captives seeking forgiveness and love. They came with a repentant heart. Covered His feet with their tears.

The latter came self-assured and confident of their lack of need for help. They came with an arrogant heart – saw themselves good.

Hypocrites love to sound the trumpet before their good deeds. They desire to bring glory to themselves.

They make sure they receive praise.

And the whole world needs to know!

PRAYER

Dear Jesus, Only You are worthy to receive glory, and honor, and blessing, forever and ever. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ alone is worthy of the world’s glory—I praise Him!  

Something to Seek

MAY 8

MATTHEW 6:1_otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Back to rewards again. Jesus speaks a lot about rewards. He speaks of them as something to be desired, something to be honored, something to seek.

I have never found in the key to the treasure chest a time when Jesus speaks of rewards in a casual take-it-or-leave-it way

Whether we know what the Father’s rewards are or not, we know Jesus places great value on them. Which sets an example for us.      

When we study the Bible diligently with a seeking heart, we learn Jesus teaches specifically what causes not to receive the Father’s rewards. He does not speak favorably of any of these things.

Because Jesus loves us, and wants us to receive these rewards whether in this life or the next, Jesus warns. The rebellion in us does not respond well to warnings – someone telling us what to do.

When our hearts are transformed we realize there is love behind the warnings.

Just as specifically, Jesus teaches what causes us to receive the rewards.

PRAYER

Father God,  Please change my rebellious heart to accept Your warnings. Teach me to see Your great love for me in each warning. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                         

Christ wants me to receive rewards—I want to!

Strong Meat

APRIL 4

MATTHEW 5:32_But I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife…

A hundred years ago it was more difficult to get a divorce than it is today. Today, the painful experiences in the court room are more about custody, and the dividing of properties (which are very painful experiences) – the divorce isn’t really contested. The judge used to require more cause before a marriage was ended. I believe that is what Jesus pursues in this teaching.

“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,” is hard teaching. It is about seeking truth, for those who want the very best for their family. There is no room for quick and easy here. Jesus says marriage is something God brings together – He credits people if the marriage falls apart. 

God doesn’t want anything to break (unless it is the ties that hold you in bondage). He is the God of wholeness. God wants wholeness for His children, because that is how He created life in the beginning. This is strong meat which must be chewed and digested. It is not swallowing milk – even a baby can do that.

There is nothing easy about this teaching, but there is nothing easy about earthly life.. Don’t be offended. Trust everything Jesus teaches comes from His heart of love. Trust He knows the pains of earthly life – been there, done that. Trust He knows the weaknesses of the flesh.

But trust also, He knows the power of the spirit. Let Him teach you.

Stay with me! There’s much more!

PRAYER

Dear Jesus, I don’t want to live my life like a baby. I want to digest Your strong meat teachings. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.  

Christ does not want love to break—He can make it strong!