Matthew – God’s Purposes
I developed the “cheesy smile” a long time ago as I worked for a non-profit that was always taking pictures to advertise all the good we were doing. There is nothing more uncomfortable for this slightly introverted person. So the cheesy smile was developed. It pleased the company but it was not my natural smile.
AND it goes deeper than that. I loved working for this company because of the opportunity to relate to kids, teaching them the joy of learning, challenging then with tasks most grownups would think impossible to learn while learning and growing myself. But those photo ops took away from the pleasure of seeing the look on a student’s face when they succeeded at a task or when they talked to their parents about what they learned. I realize the need for promotion in order to raise funds so we can keep doing good but it is also VERY important to keep our hearts pure in the process.
I know you all love the photos I’m sending back of our work here in Santa Cruz, which is only a small slice of life that is happening here, so I will keep doing that when I can, but know that our hearts are after pleasing God’s heart and purpose in all we think, do or say.
Jesus tells us exactly what we are talking about in the next few lessons. He clearly spells out what pleases God. He shows us God’s purposes and actions as we strive walk in God’s Kingdom living way. What good is it? It depends on our hearts.
Matthew 6, NKJV
Do Good to Please God
6 “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. 2 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.
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT: What is our heart’s motivation? Is it to please ourselves, to feel good about ourselves, or is all done with a heart’s desire to please God? What pleases God is doing a deed without thinking about what you will receive in return. What pleases God is to mature in our walk to the point of doing good naturally without thinking about it at all! That’s where I want to be.
The Model Prayer
5 “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. 7 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. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us 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.
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT: Are my prayers sermons to be preached to those listening? That is just as hypocritical, as Jesus relates. Hypocrisy is “play acting”. Who are we trying to impress with our prayers? Do we realize Who we are talking to or are we talking to the air without a care to listen for God’s answers? Do we believe in the One we are praying to? Do we believe He will hear and answer with His best for us? Is all forgiven? Am I holding a grudge that keeps me less than forgiven by my Father in Heaven?
Fasting to Be Seen Only by God
16 “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.
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT: WHY do I fast? To lose weight or to keep myself hungry for more of God? Do I tell everyone about my “fasting” of a certain item by saying, “No I can’t have that, I’m fasting” so that we look more noble to others? Christians have a way of being very “holier than thou” at times, especially during “Lent”. We must be careful to keep fasting a secret. The time to fast doesn’t come from us, it must come as a directive from God. HE uses fasting as a way to get our attention. Food and other pleasures of life is not necessarily what He will use. It might be a “time out” from regular routines so that you and God can talk deeply and discover what is next for your journey.
Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
19 “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.
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT: Am I a loser? Am I willing to give up (lose, let go of) all things of earth for God’s best for me? Where is my heart? What condition is it in? Do I need a check up, spiritually? What am I building up that will be useful in heaven? WHO is my treasure?
This sums up all that Jesus is trying to explain about how to fulfill the Law of God in our hearts. Kingdom living that pleases God begins in our hearts.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Cleanse me. You know my every thought before it on my mind. You know my heart. You see behind the cheesy smile that reveals my true self. Show my the right way to go, the right words to say at the right time with a pure loving heart. I want what you want, dear Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen