A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – You Must Exceed Religion – Part 2

 

The Sermon on the Mount is a call by Jesus to His disciples to exceed religion and relate to God spiritually from the heart (Matthew 5:17-20). This is the center and crux of this greatest of Jesus’ teachings.   The Sermon on the Mount is introduced by the Beatitudes, which give the steps to entering into Christian discipleship (5:1-12). Jesus generally describes this discipleship as being salt (living His word) and light (sharing His word verbally) (Matthew 5:13-16). The remainder of the Sermon on the Mount (5:17 – 7:29) is a study in contrasts made by Jesus showing the differences between religious pharisaism and true discipleship. These contrasts between religious pharisaism and true discipleship are marked mostly by such phrases as,  “But I say to you,” (5:22,28,32,34,39,44), and in chapter six phrases such as, “”when you,” (6:2,3,5,6,7,16,17). In the entire Sermon on the Mount the word, “but,” which is an inductive indicator Bible study for contrasts, occurs 29 times in 26 verses. We have already seen how true disciples are more concerned with reconciliation that ritual (56:21-26); how true disciples deal drastically to eliminate sin while the religious look for loopholes to indulge sin (5:27-32); how true disciples are to speak the truth in love rather than speak in half-truths (5:33-37); and most importantly, the true disciple is to love God and all others with God’s unlimited agape love and to the extent that the disciple loves, they reveal their maturity and spiritual developmental growth (5:38-47). To be perfect as God is perfect is not to be absolutely perfect (without error or mistake) as only God can be, but it is to love all without limit as God does and this can only be done in the strength God provides by the Holy Spirit (5:48).

 

In Matthew chapter six we will continue in Jesus’ study in contrasts to show the heart of the difference between religious pharisaism and true discipleship.

 

Disciple - What Motivates You?

 

Matthew 6:1 - “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  [1]

Why do you do the things that you do? What motivates you? These are the questions Jesus is raising in this next part of the Sermon on the Mount. When we consider motivation it moves us from the outward act to the inner cause of actions. Motivation flows from the heart. Jesus wants the disciple to know that when you follow Him, your motives for doing something are just as important as what you do. The motivation behind actions is just as important as actions themselves. This is clearly seen in a portion of scripture from Paul’s inspired letter to the Corinthians where he writes:

  • 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 – “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”  [2]

These verses show us that believers are God’s building, His work, His ministry of grace. How our spiritual lives are built is very important because as Paul states, Jesus Christ is to be the foundation, the centerpiece, the motivational focus for all the disciple is and does. No other foundation or motivation is acceptable other than that of Christ. In fact, the building or way a disciple lives and grows in their faith, the things they mature in and the ministry they are involved in, will all be tested at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:20). (Believers go before the Judgment Seat of Christ for their works to be judged, not to be judged for their salvation, which has been secured in Christ.) Notice that Paul uses words similar to that of Jesus when he says, “take heed” (1 Corinthians 3:10). Disciple, “take heed” how you build. Someone has said, this one life will soon be past, only that done for Christ will last.

Paul goes on to describe two kinds of works done by disciples, that which is characterized by, “gold, silver, precious stones,” and that characterized by, “wood, hay, straw.” The first group of “gold, silver, precious stones,” are things that are beneath the surface, things that requiring going deep and digging them out of the ground, while the second group of “wood, hay, straw,” are things that lay around the surface. In other words the first group are things done that are substantial, the second group are things done that are superficial.  I would contend that that done from the heart, focused on Christ, is substantial; that done for outward show, to please and impress people, is superficial. The first type of substantial heart motivated things will stand the test of judgment; the second type of superficial people pleasing things will be burned in the fire of judgment. In this latter group, the person will be saved but all they have lived for will be burned up and at the Judgment Seat of Christ they will stand before the risen Lord a smoldering, naked, empty-handed person with nothing to show for a life bought with the precious blood of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but when I come before the Lord Jesus Christ, I want to have precious efforts of value to offer my Lord in love.

The religious Pharisees were caught up in this superficial kind of show work. The religious Pharisees were motivated by how they looked to others on the outside; they were out to impress people, please people, gain the accolades and applause of people. This was a wrong and impure motivation and revealed the dark heart condition of this group. True disciples on the other hand focus on God and pleasing Him. Disciples do what they do because they are motivated by a heartfelt love for God. The only desire of the disciple is to please and bless God with their life.

Many things motivate people:

·         Some people are motivated by fear, like the chronically late patient who scheduled a dental appointment at a busy dental office. To cure the patient’s tardiness when the patient called to confirm an appointment and said, "I'll be about 15 minutes late. That won't be a problem, will it?" "No," the dentist told him. "We just won't have time to give you an anesthetic." The patient arrived early.[3]

·         Some people are motivated by shame and a desire to keep the status quo. Like Andy “Smelly” Smulian who may dress like a skid-row bum and smell like a dead rat, but is a hit among London businessmen plagued by those who won't pay their bills. Employed by the London-Manhattan Debt Collection Agency, the 20-year-old will stumble into a deadbeat's office for $65 and raise a stink until the freeloader pays up. "The receptionists do most of my work for me," says smelly Smulian. "I hear them tell their bosses, 'If you're not going to write a check, you'd better find yourself another secretary.'"

·         Even animals are motivated and fear is often used to get them moving in the right direction. There was once a jockey who had an unbelievable winning record. Just before the end of any race, the jockey would lean way over and seemingly speak to the horse. A reporter asked the jockey what he did that made such a difference in the horse's speed. He replied: "I simply quote a little verse in his ear: 'Roses are red, violets are blue; Horses that lose are made into glue!"

·         Bob Kuechenberg, the former Miami Dolphins great, once explained what motivated him to go to college. My father and uncle were human cannonballs in carnivals. My father told me, "go to college or be a cannonball." Then one day my uncle came out of the cannon, missed the net and hit the Ferris wheel, I decided to go to college. 

Now these motivations may sound a bit humorous to you, but motivation often makes the difference between a good and evil impact in a person’s life. Like what happened in the village church in Kalonovka, Russia:

At the village church in Kalonovka, Russia, attendance and scripture memorization at Sunday school picked up after the priest started handing out candy to the peasant children. One of the most faithful was a pug-nosed, pugnacious lad who recited his Scriptures with proper piety, pocketed his reward, then fled into the fields to munch on it. The priest took a liking to the boy, persuaded him to attend church school. This was preferable to doing household chores from which his devout parents excused him. By offering other inducements, the priest managed to teach the boy the four Gospels. In fact, he won a special prize for learning all four by heart and reciting them nonstop in church. But years later, he still liked to recite Scriptures, but in a context that would have horrified the old priest. For the prize pupil, who memorized so much of the Bible, was Nikita Khrushchev, the former Communist czar. The same Nikita Khrushchev who nimbly mouthed God's Word when a child, later declared God to be nonexistent -- because his cosmonauts had not seen Him. Khrushchev memorized the Scriptures for the candy, the rewards, the bribes, rather than for the meaning it had for his life. Artificial motivation will produce artificial results. [4]

Motivation and why a person does something is just as important as whether or not they do something as the story of Nikita Khrushchev demonstrates. Disciple, what motivates you?

The Vanity and Faithlessness of People Pleasers

In Jesus’ introductory Beatitudes Jesus stated, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Jesus now elaborates on the meaning of purity of heart.  A pure heart has pure motives. Pure motives aim to please God not people. To this extent, because the “pure in heart . . . see God,” they are seen by God. When you do what you do in the sight of God and concern yourself only with rewards from Him you protect yourself from the inevitable letdown and vain emptiness that comes from trying to please people, not to mention that you benefit from experiencing the greatest joy of pleasing God.

“Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  Religious acts done “before men” and for a reward from men, mean nothing to God. Just as we saw earlier in Paul’s passage from 1 Corinthians 3: 9-15, that done superficially, to please people, will be burned up.  When a person acts religiously to impress or gain recognition from people rather than to please God, such wrongly motivated actions are spiritually short-circuited and have no value and will gain no reward from God. God turns His back on such behavior. You may get credit for people-pleasing efforts on earth, but they will never even be noted in heaven.

This verse really strikes to the heart of the difference between religious pharisaism and true discipleship. The person who acts religiously to please people is really overlooking and even denying the existence of God, because God is not real enough to matter to them more than people. Read what the inspired writer of Hebrews states:

  • Hebrews 11:1,6 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. . . . 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  [5]

The person who acts religiously to please people is demonstrating a lack of faith in the unseen God and without faith it is impossible to please God. People pleasers are focused on what is seen, people, and turning away from the unseen God. By focusing on pleasing people a person is showing they do not believe God will reward them enough so they seek the immediate reward of accolades or attention from other people. This is totally unacceptable to God.

What Is The Right Motivation For a Disciple?

What is the right motivation of a disciple? The apostle was inspired to write in a number of his epistles that love of God and a desire to please Him were to be the sole motivations for the disciple. Paul was inspired to write:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  [6]
  • Colossians 3:17,23-24 – “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. . . . 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”  [7] (See also 1 Corinthians 10:31).

Through Paul the Lord is calling believers to serve Him from our heart out of loving appreciation for all that He has done for us. That is the true and only right and pure motivation of a disciple. Paul also states that we serve, “as to the Lord and not to men.” That is our focus. We serve motivated by love and focus our service on serving the Lord.

This frees us up from envy, jealousy, dissatisfaction and a host of other ill feelings that arise in not only ministry but in any work we do whether it be spiritual or secular. If we work for the Lord, out of love, then we don’t have to feel cheated by our employer or employee; we don’t have to be frustrated when we don’t get the promotion or accolades we think are due us, we serve the Lord not men! When you serve the Lord it frees you up to serve and do your best for the Lord so that whether or not you receive recognition or payment for your effort from men is not the most important thing, you can rest secure and be satisfied that you are investing in heavenly eternal rewards in whatever you are doing for the Lord. In this regard Paul is inspired to write:

  • Romans 14:4,7-13 – “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. . . .  For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.11 For it is written: 1 “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.”12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”  [8]

Disciple, whether we live or die we do so to the Lord, we work for the Lord and on judgment day we will see the rewards for our service of love. Let God judge people’s motives and work. Don’t get entangled with trying to be God’s foreman or even God Himself by your judging of others motives. Just serve the Lord in love and trust Him to recompense you appropriately.

Once Jesus has stated this warning to have a pure motive he continues on in Matthew 6 to give examples of pure and impure motives in life. Let’s see what He says.

 Disciples Are Sincerely Discreet  Servants - Religious Pharisees Are Hypocrites Who Dramatically Draw Attention to Themselves In What They Do

Matthew 6:2-4 - “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.3 “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,4 “that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”  [9]

Notice here first that Jesus assumes that disciples will indeed do charitable deeds. He says, “When you do a charitable deed.”  The thing in questions here is not whether or not a disciple should do charitable deeds, but how a disciple does those deeds.

A major emphasis of the teaching of Jesus is that disciples are to be servant hearted. This is something that is taught by Jesus throughout His ministry. Later in the Gospel of Matthew James and John will be brought before Jesus by their mother and Jesus will be asked to reserve a place for them in His kingdom. Read the response of Jesus and how He emphasizes the servant nature of discipleship:

  • Matthew 20:20-28 – “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.”23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers.25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.26 “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.27 “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—28 “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  [10]

Disciples are to have servant’s hearts like Jesus. Servants do not draw attention to themselves but serve their master and draw attention to Him.

The Pharisees had an entirely different motivation. In the courtyard of the Temple was an area referred to as the Chamber of the Secret. It was here where people would come and put gifts (designated to help the poor in the community) in a large chest called the “Trumpet.” The poor would come to this area and be given gifts to help them out of this Trumpet chest. At first this was done very discreetly in all humility and honesty. But later on Pharisees began to feel it wasn’t practical to travel all the way to the Temple and Chamber of the Temple to give gifts for the poor. They devised an alternative way to supply the needy. They tied a small silver or brass trumpet to their garments and whenever they wanted to give to the poor they would go to a street corner and blow the trumpet so the poor could come and receive gifts from them. This of course drew attention poor and humiliated them, but it also drew attention to the Pharisees. The Pharisees would blow their trumpet and the poor would surround them and the Pharisee would distribute gifts to the poor. And everyone who looked on would say or think, “Oh! How generous and giving Pharisee so-and-so is!”  The Pharisees paraded and flaunted their deeds in this way and did it to receive glory from the onlookers. They blew their trumpet and became the center of attention. It was clear that the Pharisees weren’t giving with a genuine concern for the poor, but, “that they may have glory from men.” Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”  [11]

People are not always what they appear to be, in fact, people can be totally different from what they appear to be as the following illustration shows:

He made free use of Christian vocabulary. He talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions which would become the pillars of the new government. He assumed the earnestness of a man weighed down by historic responsibility. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to the church papers. He showed his tattered Bible and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it as scores of pious people welcomed him as a man sent from God. Indeed, Adolf Hitler was a master of outward religiosity--with no inward reality! [12]

Hypocrisy

In Matthew 6:2 Jesus uses the term “Hypocrites,” for the first time in this gospel to describe and contrast the religious Pharisees. Jesus uses the word “hypocrite” 15 times in this gospel (Matthew 6:2,5,16; 7:5; 15:7; 16:3; 22:18; 23:13,14,15,23,25,27, 29,51). The word “hypocrite” is translated from the Greek term HUPOKRITES (Strong’s #5273) and refers to a “mask-wearer; a stage-actor.” [13] Greek and Roman stage actors used large masks to show various expressions to the audience. The masks also had devices that augmented their voice and amplified it.

When Pharisees or people use their religion to impress people they are simply play-acting and putting on a show, they are showing their lack of sincere motives and dishonesty. Hypocrisy can have tremendously negative effects on those around you.

“In the late 1800s, a young boy was growing up in a very strict Jewish home where the Shabbat, the Sabbath, was honored and where all of the rituals of Judaism were followed.

One day, his family moved to a town in which there was no synagogue. In fact, there were hardly any Jewish people at all, which prompted his father to say, ‘From now on, we are Lutherans. We will go to the Lutheran church and participate in Lutheran services. This teen-age boy said, ‘But Dad, we’re Jews.’ His dad answered, ‘Son, it’s time you learn that to get by in business, you have to make some compromises.’

This young man, grew up embittered towards his father for turning his back on Judaism and playing a game fro business, would later leave Germany for London, where he would study prolifically and where he would write the words: ‘Religion is the opiate of the masses.’ His name, of course, was Karl Marx.”

What might have happened if the parents of Karl Marx had been sincere in their faith? What might have happened if Marx had not been exposed to such hypocrisy? Certainly Marx might have turned out differently. Instead he turned out to be the epitome of an enemy to God and the godly.

Disciples Pray Personally to Their Heavenly Father – Religious Pharisees Play-Pray to People

Matthew 6:5-6 - “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.6 “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  [14]

Jesus assumes that the disciple will be a person of prayer. What is in question is not whether or not to pray, but how the disciple should pray. Is the only time you pray is when you are in church or when another person is around to here you? If you don’t have a life of private prayer with God you are closer to a Pharisee than you are a disciple. What’s worse is that prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God. When you pray, you are saying, “Lord help me.” When we only pray for the sake of people, to be seen and heard by them, then not only do such people-prayers fall like lead balloons, but also it shows the person praying such prayers is depending more on people and themselves than they are on God.

Jesus is not saying that public prayer is forbidden, only the misuse and abuse of it. Pharisees loved to pray in public. Their prayers were play-prayers in that when they prayed, they were putting on a play, a drama, for the sake of being seen by people and receiving people’s accolades. But the public prayers of the Pharisees were a kind of play-praying, it wasn’t really sincere or from their heart, they had ulterior motives for praying. The Pharisees would pray on the street and in the public services at the synagogues in a way that presented them as great spiritual people of prayer. On their way to pray at the Temple, which they did three times a day, (9 a.m., 12 noon, and 3 p.m. our time), but what they would do is on the way to the Temple they would stop on the street and pray loud verbose prayers so much as to say, “Look at me, I am such a person of prayer that I can’t even wait to get to the Temple to pray, I have to stop on every corner to pray on the way.” They pompously presented themselves as great religious giants of prayer and by doing so sought the approval and applause of the people.  Public prayer becomes pharisaical when it is aimed at people rather than God.  Ever heard someone talk to you in prayer or talk to another person in a group prayer meeting? You know, a prayer that goes something like this,” Oh Heavenly most gracious loving Father in heaven, omnipotent One and Creator of the Universe, the One who had done so much for us, please move your people to give to you as they should. I know you have blessed them, but the offering the last two weeks has been so low Lord, you touch their hearts Lord; You make them give what they ought to give, I can’t do it Lord, You have to do it. You know they just got their check from the State and Federal Tax returns and you know they ought to tithe that check, and  . . .” Ever been talked to like that? Or maybe someone has spoken on a personal matter to you in prayer. Not only are such practices dishonest, they aren’t even prayers! Which leads us to our next question, what is prayer?

What is Prayer?

 

Jesus was a man of prayer and even spent entire nights in prayer (Matthew 19:13; 26:36-44; Mark 6:46; 9:29; Luke 6:12; 22:45).  Jesus set aside time to pray during critical times in His life and ministry (Luke 3:21; 6:12; 9:18; 22:44; 23:46). When we look at the early church we see that the ministry of the apostles was bathed in prayer (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; 12:5). Paul exhorts believers to pray for everyone, especially those in positions of authority (1 Timothy 2:1). Paul himself was continually in prayer (1 Timothy 5:5). Jesus taught that prayer and faith linked believers to the resources of God (Mark 11:24). Prayer is important. But just what is prayer?

Jesus said,And when you pray” (6:5). This implies that disciples need to pray. What is prayer? What does it mean to pray? The word “pray” is translated from the Greek term PROSEUCHE (“Prayer” - Noun – Strong’s #4335) PROSEUCHOMAI (“Pray” - Verb - Strong’s #4336). This word consists of the preposition PROS (Strong’s #4314), which is used to connote direction, “forward to; toward; by the side of; near to.” The root of the word is EUCHOMAI (Strong’s #2172) which means “to pray (to God); will; wish.” [15] EUCHOMAI was used in Classical Greek to refer to a “offer prayer; pray that; vow.”  This word also has the implied meaning of “desire.” [16] Therefore, prayer is turning toward the Lord and coming to His side with a desire. That “desire” doesn’t need to be self-centered or request oriented, it can be simply a desire to know the Lord, to speak with the Lord.

Prayer Is A Personal Meeting With God

Jesus said, ““But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (6:6) This instruction of Jesus to the disciples implies a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. You can’t pray one on one with God if you don’t have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus tells the disciples that their prayers must be personal, between them and God. Prayer is pouring out your heart before God and listening (through His word) for God’s direction and response. Prayer is reverent, intimate, loving, dialogue with God.

 

Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following comments on this verse:

      “Somehow this whole idea has crept into our thinking process [that] the longest prayers are the most effective prayers, and it’s the length of the prayer that creates the effectiveness rather than the earnestness of the prayer or the faith by which we pray.

We need to realize that prayer is talking to the Father. It’s laying out our heart before Him. It’s baring my soul unto God. And thus, our prayers ought to be thought out and articulated well. If someone would come up to me and talk to me like they talk to God, using vain repetitions, I would think, What’s wrong with them? And we can use vain repetitions in just “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, oh praise God, hallelujah, praise God, bless God”; that can be a vain repetition, . . . just words, not necessarily coming from your heart. I can’t help but think that the “Hail Mary’s” and the “Our Father’s” are vain repetitions, thinking that we’ll be heard for our much speaking.”[17]

 

E.M. Bounds lived in the 1800s and was a man known for his devotion to God in prayer. He wrote a number of insightful and challenging books on prayer on of which is entitled, The Possibilities of Prayer.  In this book Bounds in defining prayer, also communicates the possibilities open to the disciple who prays. Below are excerpts from this book that the disciple would do well to note:

 

“If we believe God’s word, we are bound to believe that prayer affects God, and affects Him mightily; that prayer avails, and that prayer avails mightily. There are wonders in prayer because there are wonders in God. Prayer has no talismanic influence. It is no mere fetish. It has no so-called powers of magic. It is simply making known our requests to God for things agreeable to His will in the name of Christ. It is just yielding our requests to a Father, who knows all things, who has control of all things, and who is able to do all things. Prayer is infinite ignorance trusting to the wisdom of God. Prayer is helplessness reposing with childlike confidence on the word of its Father in heaven. Prayer is but the verbal expression of the heart of perfect confidence in the infinite wisdom, the power and the riches of Almighty God, who has placed at our command in prayer everything we need.” [18]

 

A disciple prays to the Father personally and has conversation with God. True prayer is a heartfelt conversation with our heavenly Father.  Prayer is not empty words recited from memory without the mind or heart engaged or included in the process. That is what the religious Pharisees were guilty of doing according to Jesus. Because of this Jesus said the religious Pharisees were no better than the “heathen” or unbelievers.

 

Disciples Pray Meaningfully – Pharisees Pray Mindlessly

Matthew 6:7-8 - “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” [19]

Repetition in prayer is not wrong. Jesus prayed three times in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). What is wrong and improper is the use of “vain repetitions.” The words “vain repetitions” are translated from the Greek term BATTOLOGEO (Strong’s #945) which is only used here in the New Testament and means, “to repeat idly.” The Pharisees, who had no personal relationship with God and as such, didn’t really have much to say to God. When they prayed it was like they were addressing a stranger. Therefore, not knowing what to say to God, they simply relied on a set of prayers to recite from memory. These memorized prayers were so ingrained in them that they could recite them without considering the content of what they were praying.  Jesus said such praying was no better than the praying of unbelievers who prayed to gods they didn’t know personally. If when you met your spouse the first words out of your mouth were, “Wow! What a great person you are and hansom (or beautiful) too!” I imagine the person to whom you directed such words would be pretty flattered and positively affected by such words. Based on those words you might hit it off pretty good and start a relationship. You might think this is it, the one you’ve been looking for! Every time you meet, the words that attracted you to each other are repeated, “Wow! What a great person you are and hansom (or beautiful) too!” When you end your date again this special person ends your meeting with, “Wow! What a great person you are and hansom (or beautiful) too!” In fact, wherever you go and whatever you do together, it seems this person is always reminding you, “Wow! What a great person you are and hansom (or beautiful) too!” As you continue interacting with this person you notice something strange and peculiar, THE ONLY THING THEY EVER SAY TO YOU ARE THOSE SAME WORDS! You stub your toe, “Wow! What a great person you are and hansom (or beautiful) too!” You get angry with them over the idle empty repetitious words and say so, but what do they say, “Wow! What a great person you are and hansom (or beautiful) too!” It’s almost as though they aren’t human, but robotic. Think about that, if a person only said the same words over and over, they would almost cease to be human. It would be impossible to have any meaningful relationship with such an idly repetitious person. Now if that is true with us humans, what makes you think God feels any different. He probably looks down and thinks, “Oh boy, here we go again, Our Father . . . . Hail Mary . . . .” You see prayer is so much more than idle empty repeated words. There is an additional problem that Jesus is pointing out here, and that is the mindset that if we pray long enough and over and over enough, we’ll be able to twist God’s arm so to speak so that He sees things our way and gives us what we want in prayer. This is improper because it first assumes that the person praying knows what is best in a given situation and secondly it puts that person in control usurping God from His rightful place and throne.

What did Jesus mean when He connected “vain repetition” with “the heathen”? Pagan religion incorporated prayer in their system, but such prayer was characterized by repeated words and the power of the prayer was in the types, sequence and longevity of the words. Jon Courson comments in this regard when he notes that prayer is practiced amongst Buddhists who write their prayer on a piece of paper and place it on pinwheel. When the wind blows they believe their prayers are carried to heaven. He goes on to say, “In the Middle Ages, some Buddhist monks came into contact with some Spanish priests, who in turn adapted the prayer wheel into something we recognize today as the rosary.” [20] For prayer to be effective, a person has to cease approaching God as though He were an ATM machine, where if you just put your card or the right code of words in, that you can draw on your account. God is not a machine that will respond to a set code. God is a Person who desires to have you enter into a personal loving and honest dialogue with Him. So, just how should we pray then?

 

How Should We Pray?

 

Jesus, by warning against the “vain repetition” type of prayer is implying that prayer doesn’t need to be long, but rather can be concise and precise. Prayers can be long, Jesus prayed through the night on occasion. But prayers can be short and to the point too. Augustine said the following about prayer:

“It was your Lord who put an end to longwindedness, so that you would not pray as if you wanted to teach God by your many words. Piety, not verbosity, is in order when you pray, since He knows your needs. . . . Since He knows, let Him give what He deems necessary for us.' Even so, He wants you to pray so that He may confer His gifts on one who really desires them and will not regard them lightly.”  [21]

Prayers don’t have to be long to be effective. Read the prayer of Jabez that was answered by God:

 

  • 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 – “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.”  [22]

The Bible tells us Jabez was “honorable” than his brothers. The word “honorable” is translated from the Hebrew term KABOD (Strong’s #3513) meaning, “to be heavy; weighty; honorable.” The implication form this word is that Jabez was a man of spiritual substance, he went deep with the Lord. The depth of Jabez is not measured by the length of his prayer, but by the brevity of it. This is exactly the opposite of what we are so often inclined to think and are so often told.  Here is a prayer that is one sentence long and from the heart of Jabez and God received it and answered it!

 

Jesus wants disciple to pray in faith, trusting God, “who knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” In other words, disciple, you don’t have to go to God with a laundry list of requests, God already knows what you need. What Jesus implies in this statement is that God not only knows what you need before you ask Him, but will also provide what you need when you need it. When a disciple goes to God in prayer he or she doesn’t have to fill God in on what they need, God already knows, therefore, the disciple who goes to God in prayer should be interested in entering into communication with the Lord, a give and take conversation. A time of prayer can be long, but the length of the prayer should be conversational and interactive, not just a repetition of mindless words. Go ahead and have a lengthy conversation with God, just don’t forget that He might want to give you some counsel too.

 

But if God knows what we need before we ask Him, and can be trusted to provide what is needed when it is needed, then why should we pray?

 

Why Pray?

 

If God is all-knowing (omniscient) then why pray? Didn’t Jesus say God knows what I need before I pray it and therefore, doesn’t He know what I’m going to pray before I pray it? What’s the point?

 

First, we pray because God is looking for us to pray. Read what the Bible says about prayer:

 

  • Psalm 53:2 – “God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.”  [23]

God has a deep desire to commune with us in prayer. He wants us to get to know Him. He wants to speak with us and reveal Himself to us in prayer. He wants His children to lean on Him in prayer. He wants the disciple to come to know His love in prayer.

Second, God saves the one who calls on Him for salvation.

  • Psalm 55:16 – “As for me, I will call upon God, And the Lord shall save me.”  [24]
  • 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [25]

Prayer is the line by which the sinner requests forgiveness for their sin and therefore, we should pray regularly so that no outstanding sin would hinder our walk with the Lord (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:1-2). 

Third, God directs disciples to pray to Him in times of need.

  • Psalm 109:4 – “In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer.”  [26]
  • Romans 12:12 – “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;”  [27]

God is a refuge and strength to those who call upon Him in times of need (Psalm 46). Therefore, when we come into contact with the inevitable hardships that are in this life, we should pray to God for help.

Fourth, the Bible, God’s word from His heart, exhorts disciples to pray continuously.

  • Ephesians 6:18 – “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—“  [28]
  • Colossians 4:2-4 – “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.”  [29]
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “pray without ceasing,”  [30]

The inspired word of God comes straight form the heart of God and if His word speaks of praying all the time, then disciples should follow and heed that call to prayer.

Fifth, prayer is a means to thank God for all He does for us.

  • 1 Thessalonians 3:9-11 – “For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God,10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith? 11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.”  [31]
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  [32]

All that we are and all that we will ever be and become is due to the working of God in and through us. All that we have, every perfect and good gift, is from the Lord (James 1:17). All eternity would not be long enough for us to adequately thank the Lord for all He has done by His grace. It’s time we thank the Lord and the way to do that is in prayer.

These are only a sampling of verses exhorting us to pray. Prayer is essential for the disciple. John Calvin, one of the primary leaders in the Protestant Reformation, gave the following answer to the question of why a person should pray:

But some one will say, Does He not know without a monitor both what our difficulties are, and what is meet for our interest, so that it seems in some measure superfluous to solicit Him by our prayers, as if He were winking, or even sleeping, until aroused by the sound of our voice? Those who argue thus attend not to the end for which the Lord taught us to pray. It is not so much for His sake as for ours. He wills indeed, as is just, that due honor be paid Him by acknowledging that all which men desire or feel to be useful, and pray to obtain, is derived from Him. But even the benefit of the homage which we thus pay Him rebounds to ourselves. [33]

We should pray to honor Him, though in most of our prayers it would appear we pray to get things from God. Prayer is also necessary to keep us in the will of God and in touch personally with our Father  in heaven.

 

Prayer is Important, It Is Essential

 

Jesus spends a great deal of time in personal prayer Himself and in teaching he disciples the importance of prayer. The apostle Paul instructed disciples to, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Throughout history the people God uses are shown to be people of prayer.

 

The first century church prayed and as a result of such dependence upon God in prayer, the ministry of that church had a powerful impact in the world. Read some of the references to prayer in that early church and while you do:

 

  • Acts 1:14 – “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”  [34]
  • Acts 2:42,47 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . . 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”  [35]
  • Acts 3:1 – “Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.”  [36]
  • Acts 4:23-31 – “And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,25 “who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: 1 ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things?26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together28 “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.29 “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,30 “by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”  [37]
  • Acts 6:3-4 - “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;4 “but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  [38]
  • Acts 12:5 – “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.”  [39] (See also Acts 16:13-24)

Now ask yourself, “am I praying like that? Is my church praying like that? Am I, are we, relying on God in prayer like that?” Perhaps the lack of prayer is the cause of the anemic state of disciples and the church today.

 

If the church and disciples of today does not come to pray, they will be weak and spiritual beggars in the world. E.M. Bounds echoed these words regarding the importance of prayer in the church:

 

“Prayer affects men by affecting God. Prayer moves men because it moves God to move men. Prayer influences men by influencing God to influence them. Prayer moves the hand that moves the world . . . . When God’s promise and man’s praying are united by faith, then ‘nothing shall be impossible.’. . . The possibility of prayer is the measure of God’s ability to do . . . . [But] Defeat awaits a non-praying church. Success is sure to follow a church given to much prayer. The supernatural element in the church, without which it must fail, come only through praying . . . . As often as God manifested His power in Scriptural times in working wonders through prayer, He has not left Himself without witness in modern times. Prayer brings the Holy Spirit upon men today in answer to importunate, continued prayer just as it did before Pentecost. The wonders of prayer have not ceased.” [40]

 

God has worked through people of prayer throughout history. All those who God uses, without exception, have a high regard and use of prayer. Martin Luther was a man of God used in a great way in history. Of prayer Martin Luther said:

“Pray as if everything depends on God, then work as if everything depends on you.” . . . “If I should neglect prayer but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith.”[41]

Hudson Taylor, the first missionary to inland China prepared for ministry by learning to pray. He used to say:

            “How important it is to learn to move men through God through prayer alone.”

Hudson Taylor knew that in the missions field he would be alone with God and so to prepare himself for the missions field he practiced moving men through God by prayer alone. He didn’t use subtle innuendoes or indirect manipulative machinations, he prayed for God to move people and God did so. To pray effectively you have to have a personal relationship with God and a personal prayer life with God.

John Bunyan was a missionary to the American Indian and poured his heart and life out for God on behalf of these souls. It was said of Bunyan that on one occasion he prayed in the deep snow of a dense forest and so fervent was his heartfelt prayer for the Indians that when he finished his prayer that the snow had melted around him. Of prayer John Bunyan said:

“When thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words than thy words without heart.” . . “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” . . . “Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer." [42]

The following story instructs us not only in the meaning of prayer but the importance of it:

The prayer of Jabez [1 Chronicles 4:9-10] moved the heart of missionary John Hyde to pray with great faith, expecting answers to his prayers. As a result, he became known as Praying Hyde and the world still feels the impact of his powerful life.

Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman once wrote to a friend, telling of Praying Hyde's influence on him. He had been holding meetings in England, but the attendance had been disappointingly small. Then he received word that Praying Hyde was going to pray down God's blessing upon him and his work. As a result of Hyde's powerful praying, the tide soon turned and the meeting hall became packed with people. At Chapman's first public invitation, fifty men received Christ as their Savior.

Relating the story, Chapman said: As we were leaving I said, "Mr. Hyde, I want you to pray for me." He came to my room, turned the key in the door, and dropped to his knees, and waited five minutes without a single syllable coming from him lips. I could hear my own heart thumping, and his beating. I felt hot tears running down my face. I knew I was with God. Then with upturned face, down which the tears were streaming, he said, "O God." Then for five minutes at least he was still again; and then, when he knew that he was talking with God, there came from the depths of his heart such petitions for me as I had never heard before. I rose from my knees to know what real prayer was." [43]

Disciple, how is your prayer life? Let’s pray that God would enable us to become people of prayer who depend on Him continuously in prayer. May His will be done.

The Disciple’s Prayer

Matthew 6:9-15 - “In this manner, therefore, pray: 1 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 this day our daily bread.12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  [44]

Some refer to this prayer as “The Lord’s Prayer,” but it is really the model or outline prayer for disciples given by Jesus. This prayer is only 65 words long; therefore Jesus is probably teaching that our prayers should be concise for the most part. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon makes the following comment about the words we use when we come into the presence of God:

  • Ecclesiastes 5:2 – “Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.”  [45]

It is true, Jesus did spend prolonged periods of time in prayer (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 5:16; 6:12), but it is also true that the length of a prayer is not the measure of its effectiveness with God (see comments on 6:7-8 above). Rather, our prayers should be thoughtful as well as heart-full in their content.

The Lord’s Prayer is an outline more than it is a prayer to be recited by disciples.  Jesus, if you recall, has just spoken out against “vain repetitions,” in prayer (Matthew 6:7). It is unfortunate that many have taken this prayer and reduced it to words that miss the substance of what Jesus’ intended. The disciple needs to take this prayer and meditate on what Jesus has said about what a prayer to the Father should consist of. There are six parts of this prayer and we should note briefly each one.

First, Pray To God as A Personal Father

Jesus instructed the disciples to begin, “Our Father”  (6:9a). Prayer is directed to God as a Person, as our “Father.” The word translated “Father,” here is from the Greek PATER (Strong’s #3962) and is a title that refers to one who is a, “a nourisher, protector, upholder.” [46] God is our “Father.” As our Father we should approach Him in a personal way and loving way. God our Father has demonstrated to us that He is loving and will withhold nothing good from us. God our Father went so far as to love us when we were unlovable, sinful, despicably sinful (Romans 5:8). The word of God tells us that if God the Father went so far as to not withhold His only begotten Son, He won’t withhold anything good from us. The apostle Paul is inspired to express this when he says:

  • Romans 8:31-32 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”  [47]

We need to refocus and relearn from a Biblical perspective, the true and right nature of our Father in heaven and then approach Him in a personable way.

Jesus continues, “in heaven,” (6:9b). Our Father is “in heaven” in the highest position. We should guard against projecting onto God our Father, our scarred images of what a father is from what we have experienced from our earthly fathers. If anything, we should gauge all other fathers by the Father in heaven. Earthly fathers are all imperfect and flawed; our heavenly Father is perfect in every way

Then Jesus says, “Hallowed be Your name.”  (6:9c). Our heavenly Father is “hallowed,” and therefore to be respected and revered. We should never think or deduce that to approach God in a personable way means that we approach God irreverently. We should never approach God as our “buddy-boy pal,” but always approach Him in awe and respect.  “Hallowed,” is translated from the Greek HAGIADZO (Strong’s #37) and means, “separate; set apart; distinct; unique.” God is the highest Father; there is no Father like our heavenly Father. No earthly Father will nourish, protect and uphold us like our heavenly Father will. That is the One to whom you pray. That is the Father it is worth getting to know. No one will ever be able to say to you, “my dad can beat up your Dad.” Our Father is always there for us and He wants us to communicate with Him.

Second, Pray to Know God’s Purpose

There are two aspects of God’s purpose expressed here by Jesus. First, Jesus says, “Your kingdom come.” (6:10a). The Kingdom of God has both a present and future realization. The future fulfillment of God’s Kingdom will occur in the millennial reign of Christ on earth after the seven-year Tribulation (Revelation 20). The disciple should pray for the hastening of this great reign of Christ on earth. But there is a present aspect of God’s Kingdom that the disciple needs to pray for as well.

Jesus makes the following response to an inquiry of the Pharisees about the kingdom of God:

  • Luke 17:20-21 – “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;21 “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”   [48]

Based on this response of Jesus we see that there is a present aspect of the Kingdom of God that occurs “within” a person. The English word “within” is translated from the Greek adverb ENTOS (Strong’s #1787) which means, “within; among; inside.” This word is used when Jesus tells the Pharisees that they need to clean their insides, their hearts, rather than merely practice outward religion:

  • Matthew 23:25-26 - “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.26 “Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.”  [49]

The sense of what Jesus is saying here is that the Kingdom of God begins in the heart of a person and wherever God is ruling in the heart of a person, His Kingdom has come to that person. The apostle Paul was inspired to elaborate on this aspect of the Kingdom of God when He wrote:

  • Romans 14:17 – “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  [50]

“Righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” are all things that occur in the heart of a believer. Peter also connected with this aspect of the Kingdom when he was inspired to write:

  • 1 Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”  [51]

The NIV translation of this verse states, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. “ [52] Peter is literally saying that we should set apart or put in place God as Lord in our hearts; in other words, give God the rightful position as Lord in your hearts. Therefore, when we pray, we should pray for God’s Kingdom reign within us, we should surrender to Jesus as our Lord.

We should note that Jesus is not saying that a person has to look inside of themselves to find God’s Kingdom. There is nothing inside anyone that could be correlated with God’s Kingdom other than the presence of Christ reigning and ruling on the throne of one’s heart. Some in the New Age movement have taken Luke 17:21 and misused the words of Jesus to support the inward journey of self-realization and there is just no basis for such an application. This is in fact a total contradiction of what Jesus is saying for Jesus is directing people to step down from the throne of their hearts and invite Him to be seated as King of their heart.

Jesus continues, “Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.” (6:10b). There are only two kinds of people on this planet, those who submit to God and say, “Your kingdom come,” and those who rebel against God and say, “My will be done.” The purpose of prayer is not to get my will done, but to get God’s will done. Prayer is aimed at bringing the person praying into the will of God, not bringing God to bow before the whims of the one praying. The heart of the disciple’s prayer is, “Your will be done.” Some people are so pharisaical that they view such a phrase as a cop out in prayer; they think they know God’s will and that by praying for God’s will to be done they are showing a lack of faith. To pray, “Your will be done,” is to show the utmost humble surrender to God. It is also following in the prayer footsteps of Jesus who the night before He was to go to the cross prayed, “not as I will, but as You will” and He did so three times! (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44).  Disciple always include the expressed desire in your prayer for God’s will to be done, not your own will to be done.

E. Stanley Jones once described the will of God in prayer by saying:

Prayer is surrender--surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God. [53]

At a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bobby Richardson, former New York Yankee second baseman, offered a prayer that is a classic in brevity and poignancy: "Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen." [54] Prayer is seeking to get God’s will done on earth.

 Third, Pray for God’s Provision

Jesus continues, “Give us this day our daily bread” (6:11). Jesus does not instruct the disciple to pray for a weeks worth of bread, or a months worth of bread or a years worth of bread, but our “daily bread.” Jesus is showing us that prayer and reliance upon God’s provision is to be daily.  The disciple is to pray each and every day for God’s provision.

We also see here that praying for God’s provision is only third in sequence, not first as we are so often inclined to make it. We are inclined to go to God with our laundry list of things to provide for us. It is inappropriate for us to seek things from God before we come to Him personally as our heavenly Holy Father and pray for His will to be done over and above our own. Then and only then should we present our petitions before Him.

George Muller (1805-1898) built many orphanages at Ashley Down, England. Without a personal salary, he relied only on God to supply the money and food needed to support the hundreds of homeless children he befriended in the name of Christ. A man of radiant faith, he kept a motto on his desk for many years that brought comfort, strength, and uplifting confidence to his heart. It read, "It matters to Him about you." Muller believed that those words captured the meaning of 1 Peter 5:7, [“Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you”] and he rested his claim for divine help on that truth. He testified at the end of his life that the Lord had never failed to supply all his needs. [55]

What testimony from a disciple on prayer! Audrey Mieir wrote the following poem that expresses well the essence of this aspect of prayer:

Be not troubled with thoughts of the morrow,
Of duties you surely must do.
On the Lord cast your burden of sorrow;
It matters to Him about you!

Be not weary when trials are given,
But trust Him to carry you through.
He will make all a pathway to heaven;
It matters to Him about you!

Then be patient until His appearing,
'Tis dawn almost now on your view;
For the mists of this dark age are clearing.
In love He is planning for you![56]

Fourth, Pray for God’s Pardon

The fullest provision of God concerning our daily bread is not in the bread made with wheat or flour; it is at the Communion Table where the disciple remembers the pardoning provisions of Jesus Christ. Jesus continues then by saying, “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” (6:12). You can’t pray this prayer truthfully and have bitterness and resentment, unforgiveness in your heart. I do not believe that Jesus is tying our salvation to the condition of forgiving others for this would seem to contradict the gracious aspect of salvation. If we can only be forgiven by God when we forgive others, then we have something to do before we can be saved and that is a work that contradicts God’s gracious gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Rather I believe that Jesus is pointing to the fact that when we seek to come into God’s presence, if we have bitterness and resentment toward another person, if we have refused to forgive another person, it will hinder our attempt to come into God’s presence. Prayer is a matter of the heart and if we truly desire to come into the presence of God we first need to clear our heart before Him of any and all resentments or grudges or ill-feelings toward other people. Truly it is only when we learn to forgive others that we show signs of understanding God’s forgiveness of us.

Fifth, Pray for God’s Protection

Jesus wants the disciple to be aware of the dangers to the spiritual life. Those dangers are pointed out in His words, “And do not lead us into temptation,”(6:13a). The word “temptation” is translated form the Greek term PEIRASMOS  (Strong’s #3986) and can be translated either “temptation,” or “trials.” God tempts no person, but we are tempted when we are carried away by the lusts of our own sinful nature (James 1:13-16). God does permit trials and temptations to occur. Therefore, if we pray for God to protect us from such trials or temptations, and we then find ourselves in the midst of them, we can be sure that God has allowed such things into our lives for a good purpose. God allows trials and temptations into the life of the believer in order to build their faith (Psalm 119:71; James 1:2-5; 1 Peter 1:6-7). He also allows trials and temptations to come into the life of the believer to bring glory to Him as the believer passes through them by God’s grace (Psalm 34:19-20; 2 Corinthians 4:8-11). By praying and asking God to not lead us into temptation we can be assured that if He does allow temptation to come into our lives, He will be faithful to get us through it. As we have learned earlier, God is faithful to get us through testing and temptations:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  [57]

God will not allow us to be tempted or tested beyond anything that we can bear by relying upon Him. God has a plan for you and He will lead you in it through prayer.

We also need to be aware that we are in a spiritual war. Jesus tells us to pray, “But deliver us from the evil one.” (6:13b) As we have already seen earlier in Matthew, the devil tempts or tests us as well (Matthew 4:1-11). The apostle Paul tells us this as well when he writes:

  • Ephesians 6:11-12 – “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  [58]
  • 1 Timothy 4:1-2 – “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,”  [59]

Satan incites the believer to sin by throwing fuel on the smoldering ashes of the sinful nature. Therefore, our flesh needs to be continuously brought to the cross of Christ (Galatians 2:20). But we can’t fight this war with worldly weapons. The Bible tells us that we must use spiritual weapons:

  • 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 – “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,”  [60]

In the small letter of Jude we are exhorted to contend earnestly for the faith and to keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 3,21). How can we do this? One of the most powerful and indispensable weapons God has given us to fight in this spiritual war is, prayer. Jude writes:

  • Jude 20 – “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,”  [61]

What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? To pray in the Spirit means first and foremost to be led by the Spirit in our prayers. It means coming to God in prayer not seeking to have our agenda covered and addressed, but coming with an open heart before the Lord in the Spirit and seeking what god has on His agenda for us. Secondly, to pray in the Spirit may mean to allow the Spirit to communicate to God that which we are too weak to speak about, that which we just can’t find the words for. Paul is inspired to write in the book of Romans:

  • Romans 8:26-27 – “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”  [62]

There are times when the trials and conflicts in our lives are so overwhelming and the attack of the enemy so fierce that we can’t put into words what is on our hearts. It is then that we simply come before the Lord in the Spirit with “groanings” trusting the Spirit to translate what we are feeling to the Lord. And thirdly, to pray in the Spirit may mean to utilize the spiritual gift of tongues in our prayers. The apostle Paul explains in great detail this spiritual gift and its use in 1 Corinthians 14. There have been many abuses of this spiritual gift. Without going into great detail we will simply say that the spiritual gift of tongues is a great gift to have (as are all the spiritual gifts). Tongues is a provision by God to speak to Him; tongues is not a means used by God to speak to His people (1 Corinthians 14:2). It is a gift to be desired (14:5). Praying in tongues bypasses our understanding (14:14). Used in a congregational or group setting there are guidelines to be followed. In a group the manifestation of tongues is limited to two or three expressions (14:27). In a group tongues must be accompanied by and interpretation so others can understand what is being said (14:27-28). Tongues are to be manifested under the control of the Spirit, no one can calim, “I just couldn’t help myself” (14:32-33). The use of tongues in a group setting is not to create chaos or disorder (14:33,40).

Sixth, Praise God’s Pre-Eminence

No prayer would be complete without lifting up praise in worship to our heavenly Father. God is pre-eminent and therefore to be praised. Therefore, Jesus says, “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (6:13b) How many times have we gone to God in prayer and laid out a laundry list a mile long filled with petitions for His provision, and then just gotten up and walked away without a moment taken to praise Him? That should never happen, we should always praise the Lord. We should always enter into prayer with a heart of worship and praise to God. What is worship? Read this quote from A. W. Tozer:

“What is worship? Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven.”[63] 

One of the best places to go in the word of God to find our about the heart of worship is in the Psalms. The Psalms is the worship book of Israel. Read psalms such as Psalm 92, 95, 96, 99, 111, 150 and many others. A favorite of the author is Psalm 100, which states:

Psalm 100:1-5

 

 

 

  • Psalm 100 – “Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”  [64]

 

Whenever we go to prayer, we ought to end in a time of praise and thanksgiving. Now you might not be into such things, but if you’re a believer I would suggest you begin to practice since we will be spending the better part of eternity worshipping the Lord.

Lastly, A Prayer That Brings People Together

Our relationships with others affect our relationship with God. G. Campbell Morgan once stated:

God seeks and values the gifts we bring Him--gifts of praise, thanksgiving, service, and material offerings. In all such giving at the altar we enter into the highest experiences of fellowship. But the gift is acceptable to God in the measure to which the one who offers it is in fellowship with Him in character and conduct; and the test of this is in our relationships with our fellow men. We are thus charged to postpone giving to God until right relationships are established with others. Could the neglect of this be the explanation of the barrenness of our worship? (Matt 5:24) 

Have you noticed that in Jesus outline prayer for the disciples that there are no singular pronouns, there are only plural pronouns like “our,”and, “us” (6:9,11,12,13). This prayer is meant to bring us not only close to God the Father but reconcile us to people as well. You cannot have the former without the later. Outstanding resentments or unforgiveness in one’s heart when they come to God is like a cancer that eats away at the heart. That is why Jesus goes on to say, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  (6:14-15). Prayer serves as an incentive to be reconciled with people before God. Get rid of resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness. The disciple should be open to reconciliation with others and seeing the truth in love established. 

Corrie ten Boom, a World War II concentration camp survivor, told of not being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn't sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest. "His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor," Corrie wrote, "to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks." "Up in the church tower," he said, nodding out the window, "is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there's a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we've been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn't be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They're just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down." "And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force -- which was my willingness in the matter -- had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts." [65]

God Always Answers Our Prayers

 

There is one last thing we need to note about prayer. God always answers our prayers. God answers prayer in one of three ways, either, “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait.” I have never regretted a “no” answer from the Lord once I had all the facts and once I had time to see how things pan out. The mature disciple will agree with this. Think of all the foolish things you have prayed for and what might have happened if God just gave into your whims and fancy. God loves us too much to just give into our requests. God answers our prayers in a way that is best for us and that will keep us in the center of His will and way.

Sometimes God says, “wait,” He tells us to wait on Him until He gets all the circumstances networked in place the way they need to be to accomplish His will in and through us. To wait on God is not to kick back and relax until He comes through, it is to serve Him until He answers. Like a waiter or waitress in a restaurant, we serve until we get further directions.

Then there are times when God says, “yes,” or “go for it!” When God gives the go ahead, we need to press on through the door He opens. Sometimes we pray and then when the answer comes, we’re not prepared, it’s almost as though we prayed and didn’t really think God would deliver (see Acts 12:5-19). When we pray we should expect an answer. It is more common that when God closes a door we act like Drug Enforcement Agents and batter down doors God has closed before us. We need to pray personally to our heavenly Father, not in empty vain repetitions that are simply words recited hoping for a magical response.

 

Disciples Fast Unto God – Religious Pharisees Fast To Their Flesh

Matthew 6:16-18 - “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.17 “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,18 “so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”  [66]

It is important once again to note that Jesus does not denounce fasting, but only the misuse of it. Indeed, Jesus says, “when you fast,” and so assumes the disciples will participate in fasting. Fasting is a means to deny your flesh control of your body. Human beings were created with natural appetites, desires to eat, to procreate, to worship, to serve a purpose. The sinful nature takes natural appetites or desires and perverts them by getting them out of balance. Therefore where we have a desire to eat, our flesh moves us to indulge in gluttony; where we have a desire to procreate and have a meaningful relationship with someone of the opposite sex, our sinful nature pushes us into lust, adultery, fornication, uncleanness and lewdness; where we desire to worship, the flesh moves us to idolatry, and sorcery; where we desire to do our best, our flesh moves us to hatred, and selfish ambition; where we desire to be useful, our flesh moves us to contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath; and where we desire to know truth, our flesh moves us into dissensions and heresies;  and so on (Galatians 5:19-21). Fasting is an act by which we seek to get priorities straight and get back into balance with our desires by saying no to our flesh and yes to God’s will. The disciple does this in the power of the Spirit. As the apostle Paul wrote:

  • Galatians 5:16,22-26 – “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”  [67]

Jesus is saying that when a disciple fasts they should do so in a way that the fast is between them and God, it should be a spiritual endeavor, not a show for others to see. If you deprive yourself or show off your spiritual prowess so to speak, it defeats the purpose of the fast. To put on a show is the height of fleshly indulgence. The Pharisees would allow themselves to look all haggard and drawn in the face so that people knew, “Oh boy, look at that Pharisee, I don’t know how they do it, sacrificing so much, not eating so they can get closer to God; they are just so holy.”  Again Jesus is speaking out against making a show or dramatic scene to gain the approval of people rather than to please the Lord. The KJV Bible Commentary notes the following on these verses:

The Pharisees regarded the practice of fasting as meritorious (cf. Taanith, 8:3) and appeared in the synagogues negligently attired. Their sad disfigurement of face and the wearing of mourning garb gave them an opportunity to exhibit their superior ascetic sanctity before the people. The phrase disfigure their faces (Gr aphanizoµ) literally denotes covering their faces and is a figurative expression for mournful gestures and neglected appearance of those wanting to call attention to the fact they are enduring. This was often done with dust and ashes (cf. Isaiah 61:3) and is similar to the modern Roman Catholic concept of Ash Wednesday. In the original, there is a play upon two cognate words meaning, “they make their faces unappearable,” that they may “appear unto men.”[68]

Fasting is good, if done unto God, but even it can be taken to an extreme and defeat the original intended purpose for which it was entered into.

Disciples Calmly Trust God To Provide – Religious Pharisees Covet and Claw For Things

Jesus has demonstrated the contrast between true disciples and religious Pharisees in the areas of doing charitable deeds (6:2-4); praying (6:5-15); and fasting (6:16-18). The final area of contrast is how these two groups view the world.  True disciples calmly trust in God to provide for their worldly needs, religious Pharisees covet and claw for the things of the world. This final area of contrast is a very clear and true indicator of which group a person belongs to. 

Where is Your Heart?

Matthew 6:19-21 - “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  [69]

Jesus begins this final section of chapter six with a warning. The warning has to do with investments. Jesus instructs the disciples to not “lay up treasures on earth,” because earthly treasures are perishable. What are earthly treasures? An earthly treasure is anything you can’t take with you when you die. This would include anything that is burnable, degradable, breakable, stealable, or losable. Things like houses, cars, careers, degrees, leases, diplomas, titles, deeds, etc. Not only material things, but immaterial things too, like some relationships. There are no marriages in heaven. There are no families other than the one eternal family of God. There are no denominations or teams in heaven. All this stuff is of the earth and you can’t take it with you.

Rather, disciples should, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” where they are safe and imperishable. What is a heavenly treasure? A heavenly treasure is anything you can send ahead or take with you to heaven when you die. This would include things done for the salvation and edification of souls, anything ministry oriented. The relationships you have with other believers and disciples are eternal; you will know those brothers and sisters for all eternity as you worship and life eternally with Christ.

Then Jesus says the critical words, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In other words, Jesus is saying that your heart is where your life’s investments are. Now let’s get very practical here; where are your investments? Where have you invested the money God has blessed you with? Where do you invest most of your time? What occupies most of your time and thoughts? What relationships are you investing in? Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Later in the gospel of Matthew Jesus will give a very poignant response to his disciples about a right perspective on eternal versus temporal things. Jesus said:

  • Matthew 19:23-30 – “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.24 “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.30 “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”  [70]

Now there is an aspect of these words which refer particularly to the apostles, (we will cover this in our studies of Matthew 19), but there is a truth that applies to all disciples and that is that it is well worth forsaking the things of this world to invest in things of eternity. Jesus relates the great promise in this regard.

The apostle Paul also taught about the disciple’s perspective on worldly accumulation of wealth. Read what the apostle Paul was inspired to write in this regard:

  • 1 Timothy 6:6-12,17-19 – “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. . . . 11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”  [71]

David Livingston was a missionary doctor to Africa and he invested his life in the people of that land. When he died “the body of David Livingston was buried in England where he was born, but his heart was buried in the Africa he loved. At the foot of a tall tree in a small African village the natives dug a hole and placed in it the heart of this man who they loved and respected. If your heart were to be buried in the place you loved most during life, where would it be?” [72]  Livingston’s heart may have been buried in Africa, but truly it belongs to God in heaven with Him. Where is your heart in this disciple? Where have you invested and stored your treasure? In heaven? Or on earth? Jesus speaks of two spiritually cancerous diseases, coveting and compromise.

The Cancer of Coveting

Matthew 6:22-23 - “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”  [73]

Coveting is wanting more of what you already have enough of. Coveting is something done with the eye. A person sees something, something they might already have plenty of or no need of at all, but they see a “need” for it based on the fact that it isn’t theirs. Coveting is simply wanting something, not out of need or necessity, but out of pure indulgence or jealousy, envy. Jesus is saying that if your eye is covetous or focused on the things of this world, you are in for a world of hurt spiritually. How you view the world determines the direction in which you go. If you master in the Spirit the attitude of godly contentment (1 Timothy 6:6), then you will be healthy spiritually. But if your eye strays and focuses predominantly on the accumulation of things in this world, it will lead you down a dark and dismal road.

How dismal and dark a road is that of the covetous? Read some of the following verses from the Bible about this area:

  • Proverbs 23:5 – “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”  [74]
  • Proverbs 28:22 – “A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, And does not consider that poverty will come upon him.”  [75]
  • Matthew 13:7,22 - “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. . . . 22 “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”  [76]
  • Matthew 16:26 - “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  [77]

These proverbs tell us that it is actually “evil” to make worldly riches the focus of one’s life. “Poverty” is what awaits such a person, maybe not material poverty, but certainly spiritual poverty. Covetousness is a cancer that eats away at spiritual life.

The Cancer of Compromise

Matthew 6:24 - “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  [78]

Disciple, no one can serve two masters. You cannot compromise with the world and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. A decision needs to be made between living for Jesus or living for the world. You can’t have it both ways. If you try to serve Jesus and the world you will have just enough of both to make you miserable altogether. When you pursue the world you’ll have the thought of compromising your walk with Jesus hounding you. When you try to follow Jesus you will have resentment over what you are leaving behind.  This is the consequence of compromise.

“Ýou cannot serve God and mammon.”

What is “mammon”? The word “mammon” (which occurs only four times in the New Testament Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:9,11,13) is translated from the Greek term MAMONAS (Strong’s # 3126) which is a translation of the Aramaic word for, “riches; treasure; wealth.” [79] This would generally also refer to property and material goods. Jesus is not being dualistic (i.e. a belief that all that is material is bad and only that which is spiritual is good; this was a Gnostic belief). Jesus is simply saying that material things cannot be allowed to gain such a foothold in the believer’s life that concern for material things challenges one’s commitment to Christ. Things are to be used for God’s glory, not to be accumulated and hoarded as the sole aim and purpose of life.

 

In Matthew 6:24 we see that “mammon” is personified as though it takes on a life of it’s own. Jon Courson makes the following comment concerning mammon:

 

“Mammon is more than just nickels and dimes and dollar bills. Jesus identifies mammon as a master. I believe mammon is a god, a demonic force who wants you to get focused on him, in bondage to him, and all wrapped up in him.” [80]

 

Whether or not there is a demonic being who goes by the name “mammon” is subject to conjecture, but what is sure and certain is that at the very least, wealth, treasure, riches, and mammon, are all used to entice and distract disciples from a full commitment to Jesus.  When the disciple compromises with the mammon of this world, it serves as a spiritual infectious cancer that eats away at the usefulness of the disciple and can consequently derail the disciple from God’s plan and purpose. Why is compromise with the world unacceptable to Jesus? Let’s look at the effects and consequences of compromise more closely.

 

Why No Compromise?

Compromise is a cancer that will ultimately eat away and destroy spiritual health. There can be no compromise with the world for the disciple. Jesus spoke a great deal about the cancerous effect compromise would have on people. Why is compromise unacceptable to Jesus?

First, compromise with the world leads to excuses to disregard Jesus’ invitation and not to follow Jesus.  Jesus said:

  • Luke 14:16-33 – “Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,17 “and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’18 “But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’19 “And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’20 “Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’21 “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’22 “And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’23 “Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.24 ‘For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ” 25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.27 “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it29 “lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,30 “saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’31 “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?32 “Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.33 “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”  [81] (See also Matthew 22:1-14)

This teaching of Jesus shows us that if you want to be a disciple of his, you can’t compromise with the things of this world such as: care for property, (Luke 14:18); care of vehicles (Luke 14:19); or even human relationships (Luke 14:20). In regard to relationships Jesus says that the one who would follow Him must “hate” his parents, wife and children (Luke 14:26). Jesus of course is not teaching the potential disciple to hate anyone, but merely that the love for Jesus must be preeminent and unchallenged. In other words your love for Jesus in comparison to your love for any other must be as far in priority as love is from hate. Jesus is teaching that the love of the disciple for Jesus cannot be challenged by love for anyone else, you must put your love of Jesus first and love for any other person must seem as hate in comparison to the love you have for Jesus. Nothing less than this is acceptable for the disciple.  This parable of Jesus shows that when you compromise with the world, you find it easy to come up with excuses to not follow Jesus. Compromise is a cancer in the bones of the disciple’s commitment to Christ. 

Second, compromise with the world hinders the disciple’s battle readiness. The apostle Paul instructed his beloved son in the faith Timothy about not getting entangled with the things of this world. Paul was inspired to write to Timothy:

 

  • 2 Timothy 2:4 – “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”  [82]

British pilots engaged in the Battle of Britain were greatly outnumbered by the German forces. They fought heroically and courageously with reckless abandon at times. The only way they could win against the great odds against them was if they were totally committed against their foe and willing to sacrifice their lives in the cause if need be. They had to be totally focused on the task at hand. Therefore, those who were fighter pilots purposefully did not enter into relationships that would distract them form their task. They knew, as did the ladies in the Royal Air Force, that if the pilots had romance on their minds during the Battle of Britain taking place in the skies, that they might be distracted for a split second that would lead to a weakness their enemy would exploit. Their life depended on total commitment and total concentration. They sacrificed for the greater cause of their country. Disciples should beware similarly compromises that would create a weakness a devilish enemy could exploit.

 

Third, compromise with the world is traitorous to Christ. We live in a state of spiritual war and the disciple is a particularly important enlistee in this war. To compromise with the world is to compromise with the enemy and prove traitorous to the One who calls you to be His disciple. Read what the apostle John was inspired to write in this regard:

  • 1 John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  [83]

No thing in this world should challenge the disciple’s love for God, do allow a competitor to challenge one’s love for God is traitorous and adulterous toward God.

Fourth, compromise distracts the disciple from being ready for the Lord’s return. Jesus said:

  • Luke 21:34-36 - “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.35 “For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.36 “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  [84]

Luke 21 contains Jesus' Olivet discourse about the End Times and particularly what Israel will experience during the Tribulation (see also Matthew 24; Mark 13; and Revelation 6-19). At the end of Jesus discourse in Luke 21 He gives a warning for future disciples. Since Jesus could return to rapture the church at any time, He warns disciples to not be “weighed down,” or slowed down and distracted by the things of this world. Jesus says,  “But take heed to yourselves”! Don’t compromise with the world because it could result in being surprised and embarrassed when Jesus comes back for you. Disciple, don’t compromise with the world! 

The Consequence of Compromise - Examples

The Bible is filled with examples of tragedy and hardship in those who compromised their faith and got entangled in the things of this world. Lot compromised with the prestige and wealth associated with the world and he found himself in the armpit of one of the most notorious cities in human history and just barely escaped being judged with the sinful inhabitants of Sodom by way of the help of God (Genesis 13:12,13; 19:1-21). Samson compromised with the world and gave into his lusts, he was spiritually proud, one of the first Pharisees and it cost him his sight and ruined his life (Judges 16; compare 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, compromised by accumulating the wealth of this world as well as a harem of women and it led to his heart being cancerously infected and numbed to God’s will in his life (1 Kings 11:1-14). Asa put his faith in worldly resources after God had clearly demonstrated that He would provide for him, the result was a bitter end to his life (1 Chronicles 14-16). And there are others in Scripture who compromised their faith only to wind up in dismal despair. Disciple don’t do it! Don’t compromise the gospel (Galatians 1:6-8). Don’t compromise with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Don’t compromise with false teachers (2 John 7-11). Don’t compromise with darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Don’t compromise in any way with the world, it just isn’t worth it.

 

Decide, Don’t Compromise

Jesus is calling the one who would be His disciple to count the cost, make a clean break, to make a decision. Discipleship requires decision.  As Joshua said to the Israelites before he died:

  • Joshua 24:14-15 - “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  [85]

Those who compromise and try to have it both ways find themselves dissatisfied altogether.  Disciple, count the cost and follow Jesus. Don’t be deluded and distracted by the god of Mammon or the compromise of your faith.

But we need to address another question, what is the root cause of covetousness and compromise? We know it is sin, but can we narrow down and target the nature of this sin even more? As we look at the last part of Matthew 6, Jesus points out the sinful root cause that leads not only to covetousness and compromise, but that threatens to hinder the disciple in their walk. What might that root cause of covetousness and compromise be? It’s “worry”! The disciple must recognize worry in its many forms and learn to deal with it if he or she is to flourish as a disciple. Jesus tells us how to deal with worry. Let’s examine what He says.

 

Worry, The Cause Of Covetousness and Compromise

Matthew 6:25- “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”  [86]

In verses 19-24 of Matthew 6 Jesus has just been speaking about the disciple’s attitude toward worldly things. He then connects the rest of chapter six with the word, “therefore.”  In Bible study when you see the word “therefore,” the student of the word should immediately ask, “What is ‘therefore,’ there for?” In this case Jesus has told us that our hearts will be where our treasure is (6:21) and that a person cannot serve both God and the things of this world (6:24), therefore to continue on the right road of discipleship, the disciple should first recognize the root cause of covetousness and compromise and how the disciple is to deal with this tempting problem. Why do people covet things, want more of what they already have enough of? Is it not because they fear or worry about not having enough and running out of it? Why do people compromise what they believe? Is it not because the fear or worry about not being accepted, or that they will cause conflict and uncomfortable situations in their lives? Worry is at the root of covetousness and compromise. Three times Jesus exhorts and commands the disciple specifically to “not worry.” (6:25,31,34).

What is “worry” and why is it so important to not get entangled in it?

Worry, Foe of Faith

The term “worry” occurs six times in Matthew and all six occurrences occur in chapter six (6:25,27,28,31,34). The word “worry” here is translated from the Greek term MERIMNAO (Strong’s #3309 - verb) and means, “to be anxious, careful,”[87], “care for, be concerned about.” The noun of “worry” is MERIMNA (Strong’s #3308 noun) and means, “to draw in different directions, distract.” [88]  In the most important Parable of the Sower, Jesus explains the nature and danger of worry in regard to its strangling effects on faith and the effect of God’s word when He says:

  • Matthew 13:3,7,22 – “Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. . . 7 “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. . . . 22 “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares [Greek MERIMNA] of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”  [89]

In light of this portion of scripture worry chokes off the effect of God’s word in a person’s life thereby curtailing one’s faith and spiritual growth.  If a disciple or any believer allows himself or herself to be caught up in worry, it will greatly hinder their walk with the Lord and spiritual growth. In the unsaved person, worry can choke off the saving message of God’s word.

Someone has written:

“Worry is faith in the negative; trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster and belief in defeat...worry is wasting today's time to clutter up tomorrow's opportunities with yesterday's troubles. A dense fog that covers a seven-city-block area one hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water divided into sixty thousand million drops. Not much is there but it can cripple an entire city.  When I don't have anything to worry about, I begin to worry about that.’  [90]

If worry is at the root of covetousness and compromise and Jesus exhorts the disciple to “not worry,” how can the disciple resist worrying, what does Jesus and His word tell us about curing and cutting off worry from choking us? There are a number of very practical things a disciple can do to be cured of worry. What might these things be? Let’s see what Jesus and the word says.

First, Know The Purpose of Life

Matthew 6:25b – “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”  [91]

Worry is rooted in a wrong life perspective. The first thing Jesus teaches us about worry is that it is rooted in a wrong perspective, an incorrect evaluation of what is important. Jesus tells us that if we are going to be cured of worry, we need to prioritize our life in terms of what is important to God. This rhetorical question by Jesus implies that the purpose of life is not to acquire food and clothing or material things in this life, but it is something of far greater importance. Life really is more than dealing in the things of this world. What is the purpose of life as far as God is concerned?

First, the prime purpose of life is to glorify God. Now some of you who read this may react by thinking, “Why does God want to be glorified? Is He proud? Does He deserve to be glorified?” the truth of the matter is that God deserves to be glorified because He created us and we owe our very existence to Him. God also deserves to be glorified because He lovingly gave His one and only son Jesus to save and purchase lost sinners who were hopelessly doomed by sin to an eternal state of darkness and suffering. This is expressed in the following verses:

  • Revelation 4:11 - “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”   [92]
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  [93]

Second, the prime means of achieving the prime purpose of bringing glory to God is making God known through the Gospel and being conformed to the likeness of Jesus. The salvation, sanctification, and discipleship of the lost brings glory to God and is a primary purpose of God for all people. We see this in the following verses:

  • Romans 8:28-29 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  [94]
  • Ephesians 3:8-12 – “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.”  [95]
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 – “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.”  [96]
  • 2 Timothy 1:8-9 – “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,”  [97]

If we do not have this primary purpose of life nailed down and become distracted from it by worrying over the things of this world, our life will be filled with headaches and hardships and ultimately hollowness, we will miss out on the reason we were created.

Second, Know God is In Control of Life and He Cares For You

Matthew 6:26-29 - Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;29 “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  [98]

The word “Look” is translated from the Greek term EMBLEPO (Strong’s #1689) and literally means, “to look on, to observe fixedly, or (absolutely) to discern clearly. . . behold, gaze up, look upon . . . see.”  [99] The idea here is to investigate, or look beneath the surface. Jesus is exhorting us to investigate our surroundings from a spiritual perspective and understand the spiritual application and significance of God’s work around us.  Jesus is saying, “Look into and investigate what is going on around you every day in nature and understand that there is a deeper truth to be grasped there.”  He uses an even stronger word, “consider” in verse 28, which is translated from the Greek term KATAMANTHANO (Strong’s # 2648) which means, “to learn thoroughly, . . . to note carefully:— consider.” [100] What is it that we can observe in nature that can help us with worrying? It is simply this, that just as God oversees and cares for animals (6:26a) and plants (6:28-29) in His creation, He will certainly also care for human beings that are the crown jewel of His creation, “Are you not of more value than they?” (6:26b).

God is in control and He cares for you. The Bible is filled with encouragement for those who worry. The Lord calls people to put their faith in Him and trust Him in all situations. Read what just a small sampling of such verses say:

  • Psalm 23:1 – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  [101]
  • Psalm 37:5-11 – “Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.9 For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth.10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more.11 But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”  [102]
  • Isaiah 41:10,13-14 – “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ . . . 13 For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’14 “Fear not, you worm Jacob, You men of Israel! I will help you,” says the Lord And your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”  [103]
  • John 14:1-3 - “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.2 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”  [104]
  • 1 Peter 5:6-7 – “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”  [105]

Once we know the purpose of life, we must know that God is in control of our lives and will provide for our needs, He cares for us. 

Third, Fight Fear With Faith in God

Matthew 6:30-32 - “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  [106]

Worry and fear are the foe of faith. Jesus points out the primary problem hear concerning worry, worry is the result of a lack of faith (6:30). The phrase “of little faith” here is translated from the Greek term OLIGOPISTIA (Strong’s #3640) which is a compound term made up of the OLIGO (Strong’s #3641) which means “little, small, puny,” and PISTIA (Strong’s #4102) which means, “persuasion, conviction, reliance, . . .assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.” [107] Jesus is correcting the worrier by calling them to a stronger faith, trust, and reliance upon Him. In other words, we need to fight fear with faith.

This would not be the last time Jesus referred to His disciples as having “little faith.” In fact on two subsequent occasions Jesus corrected the disciples about their lack of faith. Read what Jesus said:

  • Matthew 8:23-27 – “Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”26 But He said to them, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.27 So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”  [108]
  • Matthew 14:22-33 – “Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”  [109]

These two incidents give us great instruction on how to fight fear with faith in Jesus. In the both incidents the disciples get into trouble with fear and worry when they focus on their surroundings rather than trust in Jesus. Peter is fine when he looks away from the stormy sea and fixes his attention on Jesus, he even steps out onto the water and walks on it, an incredible feat of faith, but as soon as he lowers his gaze to the water beneath him, he falters and falls short. When Jesus says,  “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” it causes one to wonder what Peter might have been able to do if he just kept his eyes on Jesus. That is the key, fix your eyes on Jesus, trust in Him and your faith in Jesus will beat back the fear that grips you.

The writer of Hebrews expresses this well when he is inspired to write exhorting the reader to look to Jesus and trust His presence. It states;

  • Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  [110]
  • Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  [111]

Jesus says, “For after all these things the Gentiles seek.” (6:32a). Fear is not only the foe of faith; it is the sing of a lack of faith. The “gentiles” or unbelievers are characterized by fear because they are focused on the things of this world and trusting in themselves to get by. The disciple of God who lives in fear is acting more like an unbeliever than they are a follower of Jesus. This is all the more reason to put a halt to fear and worry.

Dr. E. Stanley Jones, a missionary to India wrote of the diametrical opposition of worry and faith and said:

I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath--these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely--these are my native air. A John Hopkins University doctor says, "We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non- worriers, but that is a fact." But I, who am simple of mind, think I know; we are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality.  [112]

God has constructed human beings to be creatures of faith. The opposite of faith is fear and if we allow fear to dwell in us, it will quench the fires of faith. This is something the disciple must take to heart.

Jesus then says, “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things”  (6:32b). The disciple must draw upon that personal relationship referred to in the Lord’s Prayer earlier in the chapter. It is difficult if not impossible to trust someone you do not know. Fear therefore, is an indication that a person needs to get to know the Lord on a more personal level. Fear is evidence that a person is far from God. Alternately, to dispel fear, we need to draw closer to God and avail ourselves of His personal presence in our lives. God knows what we need and He cares for us; God will take care of us, we need only trust in Him.

The apostle Paul exhorted young pastor Timothy by saying:

  • 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  [113]

The Lord does not intend for us to be fearful, but rather to trust in Him, to know Him personally and grow in our love for Him. As we grow in our relationship with Him we receive soundness of mind and heart, which leads to a stable and strong powerful resource to encounter the world around us. That I believe is what Paul was conveying to young timid Timothy.

Hudson Taylor who spearheaded missions to inland China said the following:

"Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into [God's] hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about." [114]

Trust God, give Him everything that might cause you to worry, and let His will be done.

Fourth, Seek FIRST God’s Kingdom and Righteousness

Matthew 6:33 -  “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  [115]

How do we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”? There are a few things we can do to seek God and His will that will serve to dispel our worries.

First, Pray. The very first thing to do in times of temptation to worry is to pray to God. It is in God that we will find relief from worries. We need to declare our dependence upon God and trust Him to take over our situations. Look at a few Biblical portions that teach us this:

  • Psalm 50:15 – “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”[116]
  • Psalm 86:1-7 – “Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me; For I am poor and needy.2 Preserve my life, for I am holy; You are my God; Save Your servant who trusts in You!3 Be merciful to me, O Lord, For I cry to You all day long.4 Rejoice the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; And attend to the voice of my supplications.7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me.”  [117]
  • Psalm 116:1-7 – “I love the Lord, because He has heard 1 My voice and my supplications.2 Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.3 The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow.4 Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful.6 The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.7 Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”  [118]
  • Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  [119]

Worried about something or someone? First pray, and then obey God’s word.

Second, Obey God’s Word. One of the greatest causes of worry is the ignorance of God’s promises found in His word. The second greatest cause of worry is not obeying what God’s word tells us. This was the problem and cause of worry amongst the children of Israel. God told them through Moses that if they did not obey His word, they would be overcome with worry. Read what God says in His word:

  • Deuteronomy 28:58-68 - “If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD,59 “then the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues—great and prolonged plagues—and serious and prolonged sicknesses.60 “Moreover He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you.61 “Also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in this Book of the Law, will the Lord bring upon you until you are destroyed.62 “You shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven in multitude, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.63 “And it shall be, that just as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess. 64 “Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known—wood and stone.65 “And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul.66 “Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life.67 “In the morning you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were morning!’ because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see.68 “And the Lord will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said to you, ‘You shall never see it again.’ And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.”  [120]

It is not only important to know, memorize and study God’s word, but His word needs to be obeyed! God’s word is a tremendous help to dispel fear, if by faith in Him we obey it. When Joshua was about to take over leadership of Israel from Moses, he must have feared because God kept telling him not to fear. What was God’s cure for Joshua’s concern and fear? It was His word. Read what God told Joshua:

  • Joshua 1:1-9 – “After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying:2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.3 “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.4 “From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.5 “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.6 “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.7 “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”   [121]

Are you worried about something or someone? First pray, and then obey God’s word.

Third, Praise. We need to serve the Lord with gladness no matter the circumstance (Psalm 100). Paul wrote to the Philippians that they ought to always praise the Lord, no matter what, and he spoke form experience because he wrote that letter to them from a dark dungeon of a prison cell (Philippians 4:4). If we are tempted to worry we need to lift our voices in praise and worship to God. It’s amazing what worship can do in the heart of the worrier. Read what the psalmist is inspired to write:

  • Psalm 13:1-6 – “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;4 Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.6 I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.”  [122]
  • Psalm 42:1-11 – “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?3 My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, “Where is your God?”4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar.7 Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.8 The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me—A prayer to the God of my life.9 I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”10 As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”11 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”  [123]
  • Psalm 57:1-11 – “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me.3 He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.4 My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire, Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword.5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.6 They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.8 Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn.9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations.10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds.11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.”  [124]

Worried about something or someone? First pray, then obey, then praise, then find fellowship.

Fourth, Find Fellowship. God did not make people so that they were solitary in nature, but humans need the support of others. This is especially true in times of worry. In Proverbs it says:

  • Proverbs 12:25 – “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.”  [125]

It is true that God’s word helps in times of worry, but sometimes we need a “good word” from another brother or sister in Christ. This in fact is the fulfillment of the Law of Christ as Paul writes:

  • Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  [126]

In times of worry the Lord often uses a brother or sister in Christ to bring an encouraging word that will either bring the situation into proper perspective, point one in the right direction, or simply reveal something that will help dispel the darkness of doubt. God created and authored the church so that believers could be discipled, encouraged, and helped in their walk with Him. In times where we are tempted to worry, the fellowship of the saints is vitally important.

Now notice that this fellowship is not only for us to get soothing and comfort from our fears and worries, but also to give words that sooth and comfort others in their fears and worries. This is what the writer of Hebrews states when he is inspired to write:

  • Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”  [127]

Therefore, we should not neglect the fellowship because we are used by God to profit others as well as receive support ourselves.

Worried? What should we do? We should first pray, then obey God’s word, praise Him, and find fellowship. If we do those things God will reign in our hearts and minds and we will be on the fast track to the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Fifth, Follow Through On TODAY

Matthew 6:34 - “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  [128]

Jesus says follow through today and let tomorrow alone. There are enough concerns each day to take care of, it is foolish to try and take care of things today that will only be able to be addressed tomorrow. You cannot take care of troubles that will happen tomorrow; you may plan and take precautions, but you do not know what lies in the future. A lot can change between now and tomorrow. The only issues and troubles you can address are the ones facing you at present. IN all these things we need to trust God. We need to trust God with our tomorrows.

We might also add that we should leave yesterdays alone as well. Read what Isaiah was inspired to write in the Old Testament:

  • Isaiah 43:18-19 - “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old.19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.”  [129]

God has a whole new thing He wants to do in your life. He doesn’t want you to dwell on the past and worry about your past, Give you past to Jesus, He went to the cross to secure a remedy for your past sins, that remedy is God’s forgiveness. God takes confessed sin and not only forgives it, but throws it into a sea of forgetfulness, He casts it behind Him, He will remember it no more. Read what God says in His word about your past sins that you confess to Him:

  • Isaiah 43:25 - “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.”  [130]
  • Jeremiah 31:34b – “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”  [131]
  • Micah 7:18-19 – “Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy.19 He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.”  [132]

Consider also what the apostle Paul is inspired to write to his Philippian readers:

  • Philippians 3:13 – “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,”  [133]

This verses fly in the face of modern day psychology which seeks freedom from present fears by searching in the past. The past cannot be changed, it can only be forgiven. God is willing to forgive and forget, why drudge up the past, why not burry it in the soil of Calvary? Once we have brought our past sins to God and by faith received His gift of forgiveness, we need to leave the past alone and walk by faith day by day.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once illustrated the importance of taking one days’ worth of concerns at a time by saying:

In 480 B.C. the outmanned army of Sparta's King Leonidas held off the Persian troops of Xerxes by fighting them one at a time as they came through a narrow mountain pass. "Suppose Leonidas and his handful of men had gone out into the wide-open plain and attacked the Persians--why, they would have died at once, even though they might have fought like lions." Spurgeon continued by saying that Christians stand in the narrow pass of today. If they choose to battle every difficulty at once, they're sure to suffer defeat. But if they trust God and take their troubles one by one, they will find that their strength is sufficient. [134]

Two Who Wrestled Worry and Won

There are numerous accounts of people in the Bible who wrestled with fear and worry and won. There are also numerous accounts of those who wrestled with fear and worry and were overcome. In the Old Testament one of the fathers of the faith was Abraham. He was called by God to leave his country and family and did so even though God didn’t give him a map or tell him exactly what His plans for him were (Genesis 12:1-3). God later promised to bless the world through Abraham by giving him an heir (Genesis 15:1-6).  By faith Abraham clung to the promise of God even though he and his wife Sarah aged out of the normal childbearing years for human beings. Imagine walking down Abraham’s neighborhood one day and coming across this jovial old patriarch. You are struck by the contentment and joy of this elderly man and stop to ask the reason for his good humor. He smiles and says in a joyful way, “God has promised me a son!” You rejoice with the old man and ask, “So, is God helping you to adopt a son?” Oh no, he’s going to give me a son born of my wife and myself.” You look at Abraham and accept that sometimes elderly gentlemen father children with wives much younger than themselves. So you prod a bit more saying, “So Abraham, how old are you?” He responds jovially, “About a hundred!” Ah yes, you think, he is quite fortunate and blessed to have a young wife at such a ripe old age. You can’t help yourself so you ask him, “So Abraham, how old is your wife?” He just half laughs some more and says, “She’s about a hundred too!” When you pick your lower jaw up off the floor, you just smile and humor the old man, but you have to bring him to reality, you feel it’s your duty, so you ask him, “So Abraham, when is your wife due?” He smiles contentedly and says, “Oh she’s not pregnant yet, but I know she will be!” That’s about it for you, you shake your head and move on leaving the old man in his happy state of what you believe is probably the tip of Alzheimer’s or some such condition of old age. But we know that Abraham was a man of faith and in fact the apostle Paul used him as the primary example of faith. Of Abraham Paul was inspired to write:

  • Romans 4:18-22 – “ who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”  [135]

Abraham didn’t waver or worry because of his physical worldly condition, he simply trusted in God and hoped in Him and God delivered in more ways than one.

One other example of being victorious over a potentially worrisome situation is found in the early ministry of Jesus when He attended a wedding feast. We read:

  • John 2:1-5 – “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”   [136]

You would be hard-pressed to find a bride or the family of a bride who at some point didn’t worry about the provisions or setup of the wedding or reception. Here we have a wedding and of all things to happen, they run out of wine! Do you think this might have caused a bit of a temptation to worry? Would it have caused you to worry? What did the mother of Jesus do in this situation? She did the best thing that she could have done; she went to Jesus and directed the servants to do whatever He told them to do. That’s a good formula to overcome worry, bring your worrisome problem immediately and directly to Jesus and do whatever He tells you to do. If you find yourself tempted to worry because of an unforeseen problem, just do that, and in the power of the Spirit, your faith will fight victoriously against the fear to worry.

Conclusion

There is a vast contrasting difference between a true disciple and a religious pharisaical type in the way such people do good, pray, fast, and live in the world. Why do you do the things that you do? What is your motivation? Why do you pray? Why do you fast? Where is your treasure? Are you a worry wart or willing to trust the Father in heaven to provide for you? Disciple, you must exceed religion. Where is your heart in all of this?

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3] Terri Spaccarotelli, Reader's Digest, June, 1992, p. 145.

 

[4] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/m/motivation.htm

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary – Matthew Vol. One Ch. 1-13 (Jacksonville, OR: Tree of Life Pub.) 1993. p. 114.

[12] Today in the Word, June 3, 1989. http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/h/hypocrisy.htm

 

[13]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[16] Thoralf Gilbrant, International Ed., The Complete Biblical Library – The New Testament Greek-English Dictionary – Delta to Epsilon (Springfield, MI: The Complete Biblical Library) 1990. p. 660.

[17] Chuck Smith, Word For Today audiotape #8005 (P.O. box 8000 Costa Mesa, CA 92628)

[18] E.M. Bounds, The Possibilities of Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) Reprinted 1979. p. 129

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary – Matthew Vol. One 1-13 (Jacksonville, OR: Tree of Life Pub.) 1993. p. 118

[21] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/p/prayer.htm

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/p/prayer.htm

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40] E.M Bounds, the Possibilities of Prayer, (Grand Rapids. MI: Baker Book House) Reprinted 1979. pgs. 41,44,63,136-138.

[41]http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/p/prayer.htm

[42] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/p/prayer.htm

[43] Roger F. Campbell, You Can Win!, SP Publications, 1985, pp. 17-18.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

[53] E. Stanley Jones, Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome, K Hughes, Tyndale, 1988, p. 73.

 

[54] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/g/god_will_of.htm

[55] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/g/god_care_of.htm

[56] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/g/god_care_of.htm

[57]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[58]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[59]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[60]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[61]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63] A.W. Tozer, quoted in D.J. Fant, A.W. Tozer, Christian Publications, 1964, p. 90.

 

[64]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[65] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/f/forgiveness.htm

[66]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[67]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[68]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[69]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[70]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[71]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[72] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/t/treasure.htm

[73]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[74]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[75]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[76]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[77]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[78]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[79]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[80] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary – Matthew Vol. One Chapters 1-13 (Jacksonville, OR: Tree of Life Pub) 1993. p. 141

[81]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[82]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[83]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[84]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[85]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[86]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[87]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[88]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[89]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[91]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[92]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[93]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[94]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[95]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[96]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[97]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[98]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[99]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[100]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[101]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[102]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[103]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[104]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[105]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[106]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[107]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[108]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[109]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[110]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[111]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[112] Dr. E. Stanley Jones, Transformed by Thorns, p. 95. http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/w/worry.htm

 

[113]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[114]http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/w/worry.htm

[115]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[116]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[117]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[118]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[119]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[120]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[121]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[122]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[123]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[124]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[125]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[126]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[127]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[128]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[129]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[130]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[131]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[132]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[133]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[134] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/w/worry.htm

[135]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[136]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.