Top of the Totem Pole

JULY 4

MATTHEW 6:16_Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

Hypocrisy develops in stages. The more you succumb to it, the firmer its stronghold. Hypocrisy strongholds are motivated by life is more about my looking good than God receiving glory. Truth destroys strongholds – any stronghold. When truth fills your heart— there is no room for deception.

The disfigured face of the fasting hypocrite is designed to draw personal attention. As in a theatrical production, make-up and costumes are an essential part. The more authentic the make-up the more believable the character. If the character wants to evoke compassion for great self-sacrifice, the make-up and costume are as important as acting ability. Jesus’ disfigured face descript is about understanding this is not a time for drawing attention. 

More than for strengthening the spirit, fasting to the hypocrite is a time for moving up the spiritual ladder – to the top of the totem pole. Any time God is not at the top of your totem pole – “something is rotten in the state of Denmark!” (check your Shakespeare—Hamlet).

When being the head of your Christian group is more important to you than serving God in the lives of His people, be careful – you already have your reward.

PRAYER

Magnificent God, I don’t want my life to be about me, I want it to be about You. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ should be the head—He is head of my life!

A Constant Guest in the Box

JUNE 30

MATTHEW 6:15_Neither will your Father forgive your trespasses…

The unforgiveness box holds a variety of trespasses. The largest of the litter, betrayal, is an emotional trespass – a constant guest in the box. Emotional betrayal clings. It is very   difficult to shake off. Emotional trespass resists submission to peace. It does not want to forgive.

Emotions can be tender and gentle or wild and violent. Like a horse, they need a bit and bridle. James 3:3 (KJV), “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.” The more out of control our emotions, the harder they are to manage. 

The central point of control and power is the heart. Rehearsing a trespass over and again in the heart makes a strong hold on emotions. The heart is bound by the trespass and cannot forgive.

On the other hand, a heart fed with the truths of Scripture is freed.

Psalm 32:8-9 (KJV),“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.’“.

PRAYER

God of Power, Please keep my heart under the control of Bible truths. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                           

Christ can control emotions—I want Him to control mine!

A Fly in the Ointment

  JUNE 15

MATTHEW 6:12_as we forgive our debtors.

When God pays your sin debt, the kicks you used to experience in sin begin to disappear. If they don’t, then in the words of the great Miss Clavel, “Something is not right!” (Madeline – Ludwig Bemelmans). You sin because it supplies some kind of satisfaction. It may be physical, emotional, or financial. When it no longer produces satisfaction (which is the nature of sin), you sink deeper and deeper into sin. The deeper, the harder to come out.  

When redeemed by the Savior, sin begins to lose its hold. There is no joy in sin for the saved. Just when things look good for the debtor, Jesus adds another piece to the pattern.

He lets a fly in the ointment!

Jesus’ prayer causes vertical forgiveness (from God to you) to be based on horizontal forgiveness (from you to your offenders). That means to ask God to forgive you in the way you forgive those who wrong you.

I declare! Jesus just won’t let you get by with anything. It takes a lot of love to hold people you love to accountability.

If you confess, repent, and ask God’s forgiveness, why should that have anything to do with those who wronged you? They need to do their own confessing.

This is more of those natural instincts of your hard heart.

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is your offenders and their confession is between them and God. You forgiving them is between you and God.

A clear sign you have been redeemed is you want to forgive. Old sins lose their grip and hard hearts soften!       

PRAYER

Great Redeemer, Thank You for not only saving me, but changing me. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                               

Christ redeems me—He changes me!

No Wonder It Will Be Perfect!

JUNE 6

MATTHEW 6:10_Thy kingdom come…

We have already discussed the Apostle John’s vision. Revelation 21:1 (KJV), “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” John sees something new. The former things are no more. He sees a brand new heaven and a brand new earth

Let’s gain a little more insight and read verse 4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

This new world sounds very good. Perhaps more like the Garden of Eden before the only two people on the planet decided there was a better plan.

I like no more tears. I like no more death. I like no more sorrow. I like no more crying. I like no more pain.

Now check out verse 5, “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”

I like all things made new.

Jesus includes that we pray for this new kingdom to come. Thy kingdom come – this is God’s kingdom.

No wonder it will be perfect!

PRAYER

God Who Makes New, Praise Your great power. You will bring a new kingdom. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ knows there will be a new kingdom—He has told me!

A Form of Worship

JUNE 1

MATTHEW 6:8_for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of…

God knows our needs. That is not a reason to bail out on prayer. We decided prayer was primarily about building relationships. Getting to know each other.

If we’ve learned anything the past 150 plus days it’s Jesus’ teachings are right, holy, and true. Jesus’ teachings lead us to be salt and light.

We can learn a lot about prayer from the prophet Nehemiah. He prayed well and often. Nehemiah 1:11 (KJV), “O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him [Nehemiah] mercy in the sight of this man [King Artaxerxes].”

Nehemiah had a large request to ask King Artaxerxes. He wanted some time off. Not just a few days – years! Nehemiah wanted to leave Persia, return to his home town, Jerusalem, build a wall, and renew Israel’s faith in the LORD. He prayed before he asked the king. Nehemiah just prayed a lot. Notice he asked God to be attentive to the prayer of His servant (King Solomon also prayed that). I learned from them. I ask God to let His ears be attentive to the prayers of His servant (me).

Prayer is not about coming to God because you feel obligated. Neither is it only about asking God to do something for you, or give something to you.

Prayer is a form of worship.

PRAYER

Jesus Friend, Thank You that I am Your friend. I want to be a loving friend who enjoys communicating with You. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ is my friend—I am His friend!