We started off today's workout by reciting our memory verses. Instead of just reciting vv7-15, to help us keep the previous verses fresh in our minds, we recited from verse 1 (Matthew 6:1-15).
Some notes on v.7-15:
- Regarding verse 7, there is nothing wrong with repetition (some of the Psalms repeat the same words) but the key here is avoiding meaningless repetition.
- When Pastor Dan was on a missionary trip in the Far East, he met a person with the erroneous belief that God will do miracles if he said the Lord's Prayer 1,000 times.
- God is not going to answer someone just because he says the Lord's Prayer 1,000 times!
- When we pray to God, we should pray with great mindfulness, consciousness, fully aware that God hears us, with His perfect mind, intelligent mind.
- We ought to be conscious of what we say, and mean what we say.
- Even children can tell whether what you are saying is rote or if you really mean it.
- However, what God wants is meaning, not non-repetition.
- Part of prayer is knowing God, knowing the fullness of Him
- Think about the study on Psalm 19 we just went through, "the heavens are telling of the glory of God…"
- In Luke 11, Jesus instructs his disciples to pray in a specific way, but Matthew 6 is different; in this passage, Jesus makes a contrast to how the Gentiles pray (note verse 1).
Give us this day our daily bread
- God is teaching us to be humble, and dependent for daily sustenance
- Here, the Bible is talking about physical daily sustenance (vs. general needs), like the manna that the Israelites ate when they were in the desert.
- When was the last time you were not sure if you were going to have food when it came time to eat your next meal?
- We can go to God with great calmness, knowing that He takes care of us, and we can focus on worshipping Him.
Forgive us our debts
- The word for "debt" in v.12 is different from the word used in Luke.
- The word for debt here (opheileta in Greek) is the same word as Romans 1:14 (obligation).
- In Matthew 18, the slave owed something like $6 billion today. It would take something like 200,000 years to pay that off, assuming that you're paying back 100% of your earnings with zero interest!
Lead us not into temptation
- In v.13, the word temptation (peirasmos in Greek) can be translated as "temptation" on one hand, and as "trial" or "test" on the other. While it is translated as "temptation" here (and has been traditionally translated as such), based on the context that we are delivered from them, it should be translated as "trials". This is because temptations come from us, not God (James 1:13-15).
- Examples of deliverance from trials:
- In Proverbs, Agur asks of God to spare him from trials (Proverbs 30:8-9).
- Jesus exemplifies this in the garden of Gethsemane, when He asked God if it was possible to remove the cup (Matthew 26:39).
- We ought to pray to God acknowledging that He knows our weaknesses, our frailty, and in humility ask that He would deliver us.
Forgive us … as we forgive …
- God expects His people to be forgiving, and there is no way to trick God. There is no way to harbor sin or have an unforgiving heart while asking God to forgive us our sins.
- Regarding debts (v.12), you could make someone pay for their sin every time and be exacting, pointing out what they say, how they look at you, and require an apology for every wrong thing. However, we ought not to do that, but to have a forgiving heart towards others.
- When we go to God, we must continually have a heart and attitude of forgiveness.
- This is a prayer that believers pray to maintain fellowship with God.
After going through Matthew 6:7-15, we looked over the passage that we were to memorize this upcoming week, Matthew 6:16-21.
- Looking at v.19-21, it is opposite logic compared to what our society wants to tell us – you should only give when your heart is "in it.” However, Jesus tells us here that our hearts will follow where our assets go; there's a real truth to that.
- As you generously give, your heart comes with the doing. There is no limit to our generosity.
- Your heart and your treasures will always go hand in hand. For example, if you put a lot of your money into investment accounts, you will find your heart going there.
- It is a great practice to commit ourselves long-term to giving and being generous. We will find that as we do this, our hearts will continually go towards things of heaven, the things of God's work.
- Is v.21 cause and effect or correlation? The emphasis here is cause and effect.
- Why store up your treasures in heaven? Because where your treasure goes, there your heart will. It is NOT "follow your heart." The heart is wicked above all things (Jeremiah 17:9), so don't follow your heart.
Building on Matthew 6:16-21, we all turned to 1 Timothy 6:17-19 to continue the discussion.
- Wealth makes some people think that they are more valuable.
- Do not find security in riches, because riches are uncertain. Rather, fix your hope on God, and be rich in good works.
- For example, in the movie “Schindler's List,” Schindler regrets not liquidating his ring so that he could have saved one more Jew. While in the world's eyes he did great in saving Jews, he regrets that he wasn't more generous
- Paul is talking about looking to the life we have ahead of us, so as a result we ought to look at our lives on earth with that perspective.
- The "life" is not retiring at 40 and just playing golf for the rest of your life.
- The "life" is finding joy in people coming to know God, using your resources to bring about that kind of fruit.
- How can we be generous?
- Sometimes it's taboo to talk about our needs (e.g., “I need money”).
- In 2017 in America, it can be hard to tell if someone is truly in need. Some people have a lot of money but are miserly, while others are living on credit card debt.
- The key is to get to know people.
- People's needs may not be monetary, but our attention and courage to bring things up in their life (sin, areas of sanctification) where we can help them.
- Keeping a list of people who are under a poverty line and need help is unbiblical and un-dignifying.
- As we give, we should not expect anything in return.
- We may give and people may not show gratitude, but when you're giving to them, you're doing it to serve them, not to earn their thanks.
- Give in wisdom and discernment (don't want to butt in).
- How else can we store up treasures in heaven?
- Pray for others - that takes time!
- We should be open to making sacrifices, and forego maximizing our incomes, finances.
- The church is made up of volunteers; people's time and energy is not free. They are sacrificing - either their current finances or future finances (raise, promotions, bonuses, etc.) - and that’s honoring to the Lord.
Pastor Dan led us in a devotion.
- We sang Hymn #176, "Be Thou My Vision.”
- After we sang the hymn, we read 2 Timothy 2 together.
- Proposition: God's useful servants are holy and prepared
- Note that “prepared” is a more appropriate word here than “trained.”
- God's servants are prepared to hand out the truth that has been passed on to them (v.2, v.15).
- v.20-21 talks about how we can use our lives for honor or dishonor.
- v.22 mentions fleeing from youthful lusts.
Discussing further in depth, some men brought out some observations:
- God's workers know God's word so they can accurately and precisely use it.
- We're not just talking about apostles, but any Christian who is willing and committed.
- Entrusting things to faithful men, who find their strength in Jesus (rather than in themselves)
- The words are taken from Ephesians, but is applicable here, "we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works"
- God's servants suffer for the Word of God, but not in a masochistic way.
- So many died for the word of God
- We ought not to "wrangle about" by getting involved in worldly, empty chatter (v.14).
- In v.18, Paul mentions two specific men as examples of men who have gone away from the truth.
- There is perseverance needed in long term ministry. Making disciples is an ongoing work.
- Obtaining salvation goes beyond just hearing the truth and believing, but involves coming alongside believers, teaching them to observe all that the Lord has commanded them.
- When thinking about the strengthening gospel vs. saving gospel, it's not so clear cut - it's fluid. A biblical basis for this is found in the account of Philip and his sharing with the Ethiopian eunuch - he shared the gospel, but not the whole counsel of God.
- There isn’t a clear distinction between evangelism mode and follow up discipleship mode - it's one fluid process.
- Even among us today, we strive to help each other to endure day-by-day, and we ought to be doing more of that.
- Looking at v.25, how do we approach people who have differing views?
- One example: we don't want to support people going to Catholic church.
- It's wrong, and some Catholics don't even really know what they believe, but we don't want that to be the first thing we tell a person.
- You don't have to talk too much about Catholicism, but can simply talk about what the truth is.
- While we must be kind, we also must not compromise the truth. This may lead to persecution.
- Pray for those who persecute you (Luke 6).
- As Christians, we ought to be kind to all, patient when wronged; instead of hurting people with your words or attitude, find ways to show kindness.
- One example: we don't want to support people going to Catholic church.
- How do we deal with someone who disagrees with us when we share the truth?
- Our objective should not be to convince them on the spot with eloquence or rhetoric, but to plant the seed. We're not going to change anybody, but if we plant the seed, God's word will change them.
- Getting people to face the wrath of God may not be in your place; we can press an issue with someone out of love, but we shouldn't badger them.