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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Matthew 6

Verses 1-4

  1. Intro: Games Christians Play (read vs.1-4) [Adora]
    1. Slide7 In chapter 5 Jesus gave the moral basis for life in His kingdom.
      Now in chapters 6,7 Jesus described the lifestyle of those who live in His kingdom.
      1. A kingdom is a realm in which the will and power of a king are expressed.
      2. We live in the kingdom Jesus rules when we do His will. Then He will act in our lives and circumstances.
    2. The major emphases in these chapters indicate that the person who lives, in any age, as a citizen of heaven’s kingdom will…
      1. Seek to please God, who sees in secret, rather than men who judge by what is on public view.
      2. Trust God completely to meet material needs, and so concentrate on God’s kingdom and righteousness.
      3. Express trust in God in prayer, and by looking to Him to meet every need.
      4. Act on and obey the words of Jesus, which are the only sure foundation for the kingdom lifestyle.
        1. Christians who develop the lifestyle Jesus explains in these 2 exciting NT chapters...will experience the presence and the power of our God.
    3. Part of the reason why we tend to look at the kingdom as future only is that we’ve missed the kingdom when we’ve looked back into history. (The Teacher’s Commentary)
      1. Our view of history is distorted. It goes something like this, “Everything was great as long as the apostles lived. Then it got bad, with the church hardening into a dead and restricting institution paganized by Rome. Then Luther and Calvin brought the Protestant Reformation, and it was alive again for a while. But soon that drifted into deadness as well. Today we’re just holding on (sometimes with a feeble grip), waiting till Jesus comes.”
      2. This portrait of church history is faulty. Historians often focus on the institutions, the popes, the cathedrals, and the books written by establishment Slide9 men to sum up the wisdom of their age. But neither Thomas Aquinas’ Summa nor John Calvin’s Institutes expresses the kingdom.
    4. The kingdom is expressed in the living witness to Jesus which the Holy Spirit has burned into the lives of those whose hearts turn to the Lord.
    5. For instance, in the 12th century, the Waldensians, appeared.
      1. They gave the Bible to the people in the common language, stressed repentance and conversion, and also emphasized living a Christian life guided by all Scripture - and especially by the Sermon on the Mount.
    6. Long before Luther, John Huss led a great revival in Prague; a revival later forced underground by the persecution which led to Huss’ death.
    7. For 300 years an underground church existed in Bohemia, with the Gospel passed quietly from father to son, from grandparent to grandchild. Finally these people found refuge in Slide10c Germany on the estate of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf. Now called Slide10d Moravians, this group provided the driving force for a great missionary movement leading to revivals in Germany, Holland, the Scandinavian countries, France, Switzerland, & America, as well as England. It was Moravian missionaries who met Slide10e John Wesley while on a ship going to America & introduced him to a personal faith in Jesus Christ.
      1. So, many years before Luther, small prayer and Bible-study groups dotted Germany; when God called Luther to the Reformation leadership, followers had already been prepared.
    8. Today the United States sends out thousands of missionaries across the world. But as late as 1800, there was no missionary movement to reach abroad. Then in 1806, students at Williams College in Massachusetts began to discuss their part in sharing the Gospel with the non-Christian world. A sudden rainstorm sent them dashing into a haystack. Praying there together, God called the 1st American missionaries.

      Adoniram Judson, Luther Rice, and Samuel Mills were to lead a host of young men and women, who crossed the oceans to take the Gospel to the world.
      1. A movement of God began in a quiet, hidden way. The haystack, not the cathedral, is most likely to be characteristic of the kingdom.
  2. FLAUNTING YOUR CHARITY (1) Give Sincerely
    1. Having focused on relationships between neighbors (ch.5) - Jesus begins addressing a relationship with God the Father. [key to chapter]
      1. The 3 examples in v.2-18(giving, praying, fasting) relate to His opening command in v. 1 and pertain to personal piety.
      2. Slide13,14 *Members of the kingdom of God should practice the disciplines Jesus describes so that the Father can witness them, not others.
      3. Jesus reverses the formula in v.18 so that your fasting may be seen…by your Father.
    2. Reward - this word frequently occurs in Matthew (13x’s). The term refers not to an immediate payoff but to future blessedness.
    3. Charitable deeds - to practice piety. It’s the general title for acts of devotion and religious duty which conform to the will of God. lkgnt
      1. Nothing is more marked in rabbinic ethics than the stress laid upon charity in every sense of the word. lkgnt
    4. The ESV & NIV have practicing your righteousness instead of charitable deeds - meaning all righteous deeds, not only giving.
      1. Jesus wants His disciples to be sincere before their heavenly Father, not ostentatious before people.
    5. Slide15 To be seen by them - Motives is the issue.
    6. We should examine the motives behind all our generosity: [4 ways to give]
      1. A man may give from a sense of duty.
      2. A man may give purely from motives of self-interest.
      3. A man may give in order to feel superior.
      4. A man may give because he cannot help it.
        1. God gave because He so loved the world - and so must we.
    7. Slide16 Charity can be given publicly, but not for the sake of publicity. Our charity should be a holy duty, carefully performed, not for our own honor, but for God’s pleasure.
  3. PRIVATE PIETY (2,3) Give Secretly
    1. ​​​​​​​Jesus criticizes the hypocrites for intentionally drawing attention to their giving.
    2. Have their reward - they’ve received their reward in the form of praise from others, so they’ll only receive condemnation from God.
    3. Sound the trumpet - Literally? Some think so, but probably hyperbole. (i.e. toot own horn)
      1. Maybe a play on words? (charity boxes were shaped like trumpets, made of brass)
    4. (3) Do not let your left hand know - a symbolic saying that captures the extreme measures that should be taken to avoid public praise for your generosity.
      1. Slide19 Charles Spurgeon and his wife Susannah, according to a story in the Chaplain magazine, would sell, but refused to give away, the eggs their chickens laid. Even close relatives were told, “You may have them if you pay for them.” As a result some people labeled the Spurgeon’s greedy. They accepted the criticisms without defending themselves, and only after Mrs. Spurgeon died was the full story revealed. All the profits from the sale of eggs went to support 2 elderly widows. Because the Spurgeon’s where unwilling to let their left hand know what the right hand was doing, they endured the attacks in silence.
    5. Should Giving Always Be Kept Secret? by Randy Alcorn
    6. Jesus deals here w/motives. He starts with the broad category of acts of righteousness/ charitable deeds then moves to 3 such acts: giving, prayer, fasting
      1. ​​​​​​​Jesus did not intend this as an exhaustive list as rabbis often spoke in groups of 3’s when teaching.
      2. He could have added Bible reading, feeding the poor, or raising children. Or going on mission trips or attending a particular college or church.
      3. Jesus is not saying that others shouldn’t be aware of our good deeds. Rather, He’s commanding that we not do these things in order to receive people’s recognition.
        1. In getting what we seek, we will lose what we should have sought: God’s approval.
      4. Christ commands us to do our giving quietly and unobtrusively. Don’t cough loudly just as you’re giving. Don’t slam-dunk your offering into the plate. Give humbly. Don’t make a big production out of it, either in view of others or in the privacy of your own heart.
    7. Did public recognition tempt others to give for the wrong motives? Absolutely, as we see in the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Acts 5
      1. But the possible abuse of giving doesn’t nullify its legitimacy. Both the body of Christ & the world can benefit from seeing the attractive witness of generous giving.
    8. Earlier he said, Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matt 5:16. Here we are commanded to let people see our good deeds, which means we should not hide them.
      1. This passage and Mat.6 balance each other. There’s a time for giving to be seen - when it’s done at the right time and for the right reasons.
      2. What was the name of the Good Samaritan? Oh that’s right Jesus didn’t give it.
      3. What is the best way to advertise your giving? to fulfill Mt.5:16
    9. If Christ established a principle in Matt 6:2-4 that other people should never know what someone gives, then…
      1. The early church violated it in Acts 4:36,37.
      2. Numb.7 lists the names of donors to the tabernacle.
      3. 1st Chron.29 tells exactly how much Israel’s leaders gave to build the temple, then it says, The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. 1 Chr 29:9
      4. Philemon 7 refers to Philemon’s generous giving
      5. 2 Cor 8:2–3 refers to the Macedonians’ generous giving.
      6. When the poor widow gave, she gave publicly Jesus could actually see the 2 coins. Her motives were right. That she gave visibly did nothing to nullify her good heart.
    10. The body of Christ needs models of every spiritual discipline.
      1. We shouldn’t brag about our Bible study, evangelism, parenting, or giving, but Slide21 neither should we cover it up. It’s easier for people to follow footprints (what we do) than commands (what we say).
      2. Hebrews 10:24 tells us to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. It’s difficult to be spurred on by what we cannot see and do not know.
  4. FATHER FOCUS (4) Reward Openly
    1. ​​​​​​​I noticed that secret was used 6x’s in this ch. Then that reward was used 7x’s. Then I noticed that Father was used 12x’s. What a reminder to us to have a Father Focus.
      1. Not others, not even ourselves...but Him. The in-secret God. (4,4,6,18)
      2. We should give only to please our Father. We should pray only to please our Father. We should fast only to please our Father.
      3. We should give up the immediate reward for the eternal one. As we can’t get rewarded twice. We must choose which one we want.
    2. (end) While touring Italy, a man visited a cathedral that had been completed on the outside only. Once inside, the traveler found an artist kneeling before an enormous wall upon which he had just begun to create a mosaic. On some tables nearby were thousands of pieces of colored ceramic. Curious, the visitor asked the artist how he would ever finish such a large project. The artist answered that he knew how much he could accomplish in one day. Each morning, he marked off an area to be completed that day and didn’t worry about what remained outside that space.
      1. What’s in your space today?
      2. God has made in this beautiful world of His...a giant mosaic. He has given each of us His children multiple pieces of colored ceramic aka charitable deeds. Have you placed yours? Will you?

Verses 5-15

  1. Intro: Secret Place
    1. I was able to take a Sabbatical rest this week up in Pismo Beach. I could stare for hours at the ocean & its vastness. On 1 of my hikes I was on a hill over looking multi-million dollar homes on cliffs over looking Shell Beach. I wondered if they still appreciated the view? Did they still see the ebb & flow of the swells? Sea birds diving for their prey? Mother Sea Otters grooming their young? Sunlight shimmering/dancing/ twinkling on top of the water?
    2. This morning we have before us the greatest prayer of the church in last 2000 yrs
      1. 1000’s of sermons been preached on it, yet its depth will never be exhausted.
      2. 6 petitions are absolutely perfect for every man & woman who have ever lived
      3. The initial focus is upward, 3 requests having to do with God’s glory. And the 3 remaining, for our well being.
        1. God 1st, man 2nd...the ideal in prayer. His glory before our wants.
        2. Parallel to the 10 commandments (4+6).
        3. Bonhoeffer, “it’s not only the pattern for prayer, it’s the way Christians must pray.”
      4. So when we approach the Our Father...do we still see it? Or have we stared at it too long? said it too many times by rote?
    3. As a giving heart was expected, when you do a charitable deed (2), so is Praying, when you pray (5), and fasting, when you fast (16).
    4. Jesus gives us 4 instructions to guide us in our Prayers: Pray in Private b4 praying in Public; Pray Sincerely; Pray in God’s Will; Pray w/a Forgiving Spirit.
  2. PRAY IN PRIVATE BEFORE PRAYING IN PUBLIC (5,6)
    1. The Pharisees faithfully gathered at 9am, Noon, & 3pm, to pray in the synagogues or at the Temple.
      1. Is there anything wrong w/seeking God 3 times a day? (No, Daniel did)
      2. But the Pharisees were not doing it to seek the Lord but to be seen by man.
        1. On the street corner - “Oh, I can’t wait to get to the synagogue. Oh Lord you are truly a Magnificent God.”
    2. Do you have a secret Place? Your Father does & He awaits your presence.
      1. Ps.91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
        1. A shadow isn’t normally good protection…unless your talking about being behind your big brother as he protects you. Or better yet in this case when God’s wings are hovering inches above you in protection mode, like a protective mother Eagle.
        2. Run to your secret place, as a wild animal does to his hole or den for relief, when the hunter has him in chase, & the dogs are near.
      2. When you go into an airplane’s bathroom you latch the door, & when you do, the light comes on brighter. Maybe it’s the same when we enter our secret place, it’s there that He gives brighter illumination.
  3. PRAY SINCERELY (7,8)
    1. ​​​​​​​Repeating a prayer is not necessarily a vain repetition.
      1. Both Jesus & Paul repeated petitions [Jesus in/Garden. Paul w/his thorn in flesh]
    2. All of us have one routine prayer in our system: Once we get rid of it, then we can really start to pray.
    3. He’s saying, don’t pray w/your mind on hold & your mouth on automatic.
      1. Make sure your mind is engaged & your heart sensitized.
    4. Isn’t it interesting Jesus places this here, right before the very prayer that is oft repeated.
    5. Many words - Some peoples prayers need to be cut short on both sides & set on fire in the middle.
    6. Praying isn’t for God’s information. How often people start explaining to God all the details, as if He didn’t know. [or is it for the group? Always ask, who are you talking to?]
  4. PRAY IN GOD’S WILL (9-13)
    1. ​​​​​​​I think we’ve all heard the Hawaiian word for mainlanders, haoli/haole.
      1. Alice Kaholuoluna gives us the origin of the term: Before the missionaries came, my people used to sit outside their temples for along time meditating and preparing themselves before entering. Then they would virtually creep to the altar to offer their petition and afterwards would again sit along time outside, this time to breathe life into their prayers. The Christians, when they came, just got up, uttered a few sentences, said Amen and were done.

        For that reason my people call them haolis, “without breath,” or those who fail to breathe life into their prayers. (Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, Pg.161. From Nels Ferre, Strengthening the Spiritual Life, pg.1.)
        1. ​​​​​​​Not to be mindlessly repeated, but genuinely prayed. Or it’s say vs. pray (He made thisabundantly clear in his intro)
    2. We don’t hear the Disciples asking the Lord to Teach them to: Preach, prophesy, cast out demons, worship, witness, find their ministry or gifts, start up home fellowships, grow a church, how to be a relevant church, but teach us to pray. Lk.11:1 (when they saw Him praying)
      1. Why? They must have noted He did this often. And that this was His key for strength, wisdom, leading, instruction, communion, & fellowship.
    3. ​​​​​​​This prayer is only 65 words long. And it takes about 20 seconds to pray. [3 to God +3 for us]
      1. God’s name be honored and respected. God’s kingdom be completed. God’s will be implemented.
      2. For our physical needs, daily bread. For our social needs, forgiving & being forgiven. For our spiritual needs, temptation and deliverance.
    4. Lets look at 6 elements of this prayer: God’s Person, Purpose, Provision, Pardon, Protection, & Pre-eminence.
      1. ​​​​​​​GOD’S PERSON (9)
        1. Our Father - not Omniscient one (thou He is), not Elohim (strong one), not the mighty one, nor the I am...but Father. God is as accessible as the most loving human parent. [Father only 14x’s in whole OT. 17 in this sermon. 70x’s in gospels]
        2. Did God change? No, but we did.
          1. Jn.1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
        3. There are only 2 people on this planet that can call me father (Zach & Mical) C&T father-n-law
          1. To everyone else I’m Brian, Pastor Brian, Mr. Bell, or something else :)
          2. But, If I opened up the opportunity to whomever would like to be adopted, then there would be others who could call me father. But In this I wouldn’t change, they would.
          3. So God didn’t change...we did, we became His sons/daughters. [or maybe you haven’t yet?]
        4. In Heaven - Don’t forget that. In heaven is the balance of intimacy (Father) w/an affirmation of God’s sovereignty & majesty (being in heaven)
          1. Eccl.5:2 God is in heaven, you are on earth, let your words be few.
        5. Hallowed - Holy is your name (hallowed ground)
          1. Glory in His Holy Name (1Chrn.16:10).
            Give thanks
            to His Holy Name(1 Chrn.16:35)
            Praise His Holy Name (Ps.30:4)
      2. GOD’S PURPOSE (10)
        1. Your either saying: Your will be done, or My will be done.
        2. You can either: be still & know that He is God or tell God to be still & know that you are you.
        3. You want your will to be done? He’ll allow it. You want to reject God? He’ll help the situation by rejecting you. If you want your way? He’ll let you go your way.
        4. Robert Law said, Prayer is a mighty instrument, not for getting man’s will done in heaven, but for getting God’s will done on earth.
        5. We have no right to ask God for anything that will: dishonor His name, delay His Kingdom, or disturb His will on earth.
      3. GOD’S PROVISIONS (11)
        1. Give us - Not give me. No singular pronouns in the Lord’s prayer.
        2. This day - Did He insert this so we’d pray at least daily?
        3. Daily Bread - Why daily? Does He have need of us? No! We have need of Him. He is our bread.
          1. Pray daily for the coming day’s provision of life’s essentials.
            1. Recognize that all sustenance for life comes from God.
          2. Be content w/your daily bread & quit looking at your neighbors slice.
          3. Life does not come to us all at once. Tomorrow is not ours; but when it does come, God will supply both daily bread and daily strength.
        4. Our Prayer: Lord give us both the bread of Heaven & of earth, that which feeds my soul & sustains my body.
      4. GOD’S PARDON (12)
        1. No prayer of mortal man could be complete w/o confession of sin.
        2. We should always have debts to own & therefore always have need to cry, Forgive!
        3. Could it ever read? Lord, Forgive me my debts, even if I won’t forgive any debtors. Or, Forgive me my debts, but don’t you dare think I’m forgiving my debtors.
        4. What is found in Christianity which is not found any other religion? That was the question asked at a seminar featuring several prominent Christian theologians. C.S.Lewis, the brilliant thinker & gifted author was caught in traffic while the rest of the panel puzzled over this question. After about an hour, Louis arrived and the question was posed to him, to which he replied, That’s simple. The forgiveness of sin.
          1. ​​​​​​​This is the magnetic draw to Christianity. I think this is why we are all here. We were & are in need of forgiveness of sin. And only Christianity provides that in the blood of Jesus Christ.
      5. GOD’S PROTECTION (13)
        1. As the last petition asked forgiveness for sins that we’ve committed, this petition asks for strength not to commit future sins.
        2. Lead us not into temptation - Testings (But I thought testing’s were good for us? Yes)
          1. But let us not say, Lord test me! I’m ready!
        3. This is a pray of humility. If you think you stand take heed lest you fall.
          1. ​​​​​​​Its asking, do not allow us to come under the sway of temptation that will overpower us & cause us to sin.
        4. But deliver us from the Evil One (Satan) - Satan is a powerful being...yet, he trembles when the weakest saint is upon his knees.
      6. GOD’S PRE-EMINENCE (13B)
        1. This short Prayer ends in an explosion of Praise...For yours is the kingdom & the power & the glory forever. Amen.
          1. All rule, might & honor, belong to You God & let them forever be ascribed.
    5. When praying: remember the Person of God, He’s my Father. Then remember the Purpose of God, His Will not mine. Then remember the Provision of God, our daily bread. Then remember the Pardon of God, I’m forgiven so then I can forgive. Then remember the Protection of God, from testing & from the Evil one. Then, I’ll always end by Praising Him, for Yours is the kingdom…
  5. PRAY WITH A FORGIVING SPIRIT (14,15)
    1. ​​​​​​​In this appendix to his prayer...he now expands vs.12b.
    2. He’s not teaching that believers earned God’s forgiveness by forgiving others; for this would be contrary to God’s free grace & mercy.
      1. However, If we truly experienced God’s forgiveness, then we will have a readiness to forgive others.
        1. Eph.4:32 forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
        2. Col.3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
    3. True Praying is a Family Affair (Our Father)
      1. If the members of the family aren’t getting along, how can they claim to have a right relationship w/the Father?
    4. When people fail, don’t rub it in...rub it out (Forgive them) Courson
    5. It may be a blessing to be wronged, since it affords us an opportunity of judging whether we are indeed the recipients of the pardon which comes from the throne of God. Spurgeon
    6. How very sweet it is to pass by other men’s offenses against ourselves, for in this we learn how sweet it is to the Lord, to pardon us.

Verses 16-18

  1. Intro: Soul-Fattening Fasting [the Puritans name for fasting]
    1. Now our 3rd area of worship that Jesus mentions... fasting. (giving, prayer)
      1. Fasting, like praying and giving, is a legitimate spiritual discipline to be practiced in private between a Christian & the Lord.
      2. How often we practice it is not prescribed, because that too is between the believer & Christ.
        1. When we desire to seek God’s face more than we want dinner, that will be the proper time to fast.
    2. The bible describes 3 main forms of fasting:
      1. The Normal fast, abstinence from food.
      2. The Absolute fast, abstinence from both food and water.
      3. The Partial fast, a restriction of diet rather than complete abstinence.
  2. FASTING (6:16-18)
    1. Fasting = νηστεύω/nesteuo To abstain from eating.
      1. A voluntary abstinence from food as a religious exercise.
    2. You may fast & be discovered doing it; but let it not be the intent of your heart that you appear to men to be fasting.
      1. So when you fast, fast from vainglory, ambition, pride, & self-glorification.
    3. There is only 1 commanded in Scripture to Fast...on the Day of Atonement.
      1. Slide14a Lev. 23:27 you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. [Afflict your souls is equivalent to fasting in the Pentateuch]
      2. By the NT time the Jews had turned this into twice a week (tax collector & the Pharisee)
      3. Muslims do for a whole month, Ramadan, sun up to sundown (this year in June)
    4. Since the Day of Atonement has been fulfilled in Jesus...should we still fast? Yes
      1. ​​​​​​​Lk.5:33-35 One day some people said to Jesus, John the Baptist’s disciples fast and pray regularly, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why are your disciples always eating and drinking? 34 Jesus responded, Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. 35 But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
        1. Is Jesus taken away? yes. Should we fast? yes. In heaven do we fast? Nope, Feast! :)
    5. Some of the reasons for fasting:
      1. War, or threat of it - Philistine war at Mizpah. 1 Sam.7
      2. Sickness - David’s son.
      3. Mourning - Men of Jabesh-Gilead for 7 days over Saul’s death.
      4. Safety in Travel - Ezra 8:21-23, when Israel was out of captivity. Fasted for themselves, their lil ones, & their possessions.
      5. Repentance - Ezra & the people from the captivity. Neh.9:1-3
      6. Impending danger - Esther & Mordecai before she went to the king.
      7. Calamities - Burning of the Temple, Jer.52:12,13
    6. Disciplining our flesh
      1. Bonhoeffer, Fasting helps to discipline the self-indulgent & slothful will which is so reluctant to serve the Lord, & it helps to humiliate & chasten the flesh.
      2. There is a need for daily Self-Discipline.
        1. Remember it’ll always be true (while in the flesh) The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
      3. Any objection that fasting isn’t necessary & all that we need is faith has missed the point...it’s not talking about salvation but sanctification.
      4. It shows...we depend on God alone. It shows...we have self-control.
        It shows...we draw all our strength & resources on God.
        It shows...we are totally focused on Him, when seeking guidance or help.
        It shows...we are ernest in our request. from J.I.Packer quote
      5. ​​​​​​​Maybe it’s high time again for us to launch a full scale assault upon our flesh, & prepare for better service by fasting & prayer.
        1. Anna did Lk.2:36,37 There was also a prophetess, Anna...she never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying.
        2. Jesus did Mt.4 After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
        3. Married Couples can fast from sexual intimacy, yet only for a short time, & is to be accompanied w/prayer & fasting. 1Cor.7:5
        4. Spiritual Attacks Mrk.9:29 This kind can come out by nothing but prayer & fasting
      6. Saying No to our physical appetites helps us to say No to other temptations which hassle us.
        1. Control your Flesh and yield to the Spirit.
        2. Self-Discipline is when your conscience tells you something & you don’t talk back.
  3. ISAIAH HOLDS THE SECRETS (Isaiah 58)
    1. ​​​​​​​THE CAMOUFLAGE CHRISTIAN (1-5)
    2. They were doing their daily devotions(2a); they delighted in knowing Gods ways(2b); they asked God for just decisions(2c); they delighted in approaching God(drawing near) (2d); they even fasted & afflicted themselves(3-5).
      1. How does this happen? It happens when we stop coming to truly worship God, but come to enjoy the atmosphere created by worship.
        1. Thus we open ourselves to hypocrisy. But don’t worry you still look great on the outside :)
    3. (3b-5) If your fasting leaves you: self-indulgent in other areas (3b); harsh toward your employees (3c); it causes you to quarrel or even get angry enough to hit somebody (4a)… then you can be sure, your fasting is not acceptable to the God.
      1. ​​​​​​​How you treat people at work or home on Monday, is the supreme test of acceptable worship from Sunday.
      2. If you’re going to attack someone attack your own sin. [Fasting is to starve sin, not us]
    4. THE 7-POINT FAST (6-10a)
      1. To loose the bonds of wickedness/injustice, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? (6)
        1. We need to live to free people, not to burden them.
        2. Acts 15:10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
      2. To share your bread with the hungry (7a)
        1. This means, take away food from your own mouth & put it in the mouth of the poor
        2. Fasting is meant to awaken us to the hunger of the world, not just our own hunger.
      3. To bring to your house the poor (7b)
        1. Don’t hold to the mindset doesn’t government has programs for this sort of thing.
        2. The good Samaritan didn’t say, one interrupted day will make very little difference in the problem of chronic violence in this region. He saw this one need & did something.
        3. Bring to your house – That doesn’t mean that any care short of that is hypocritical. But often, all-or-nothing paralyzes us.
      4. To clothe the naked (7c)
      5. To not hide yourself from your own flesh (7d)
        1. This means be sympathetic, feel what others feel because we have the same flesh they do. Heb.13:3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them - those who are mistreated - since you yourselves are in the body also.
        2. I remember a trip to Mumbai (largest city in India 18.5 mill) that’ll do more to change your values & priorities than many statistics.
      6. To not point the finger or speak wickedness (9b)
        1. Put away gestures & words that show raw contempt for other people. Piper
        2. Literally the sending/or letting loose of the finger…maybe closer to our crude gesture of the middle finger, than merely pointing at them. [yep, Gk’s & Romans used]
      7. To extend our soul/ourselves to the hungry (10)
        1. Not just give food, but give ourselves…our souls. Not just satisfy the stomach of the afflicted, but the soul of the afflicted. It’s not just giving things, but giving self.It’s not just relief, but relationship.
    5. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​THE 7-POINT PROMISE (10b-14)
    6. There are rewards for fasting. Mt.6:18 your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly
      1. Yet, don’t dishonor God by turning His free grace into a business transaction.
    7. God is committed to rewarding these acts of the human heart that signify human helplessness & hope in God.
    8. What will happen in our lives, & in our churches, & in our community if we prescribe this 7-point fast?
      1. Your light shall break forth (8a) also (10b) your light shall dawn in the darkness
        1. We’ll have light instead of darkness.
      2. Your healing shall spring forth (8b) also (11) strength to your bones.
        1. We have healing instead of disease.
        2. So this is not a job description but a doctor’s prescription.
      3. The glory of the Lord will be our rear guard (8c) also (9) He will be there when we call. [i.e. It will be glory instead of disgrace]
      4. The Lord will guide you continually (11a)
        1. Don’t miss the word continually – He is our perpetual guide [r u looking for guidance? Fast!]
      5. The Lord will satisfy you (11b)
      6. The Lord will make you like a watered garden (11c)
        1. Life becomes a watered garden instead of a dismal swamp.
      7. The Lord will restore ruins (12)
        1. How many ruined things/lives/relationships/years may be repaired by the fasting of God’s people?
        2. Look at the miseries, dysfunctions, violations, afflictions, oppressions that could be healed & restored by the beautiful fasting given to us here, by our friend Isaiah.
    9. There’s nothing magical about fasting. It’s just one way of telling God that your priority at that moment is to be alone with Him, sorting out whatever is necessary, and you have canceled the meal, party, concert, or whatever else you had planned to do in order to fulfill that priority. When friends need to be together, they will cancel all other activities in order to make that possible.
    10. Prayer: Lord, help us not to have a religion of habit but a religion of the heart. Lord, turn some of our religious fasts into righteous feasts.
    11. For three days Jonathan Edwards had not eaten a mouthful of food: for three nights he had not closed his eyes in sleep. Over and over again, he had been saying to God, “Give me New England! Give me New England!” and when he arose from his knees, and made his way into the pulpit they say that he looked as if he had been gazing straight into the face of God. They say that before he opened his lips to speak, conviction fell upon his audience.
    12. “It is sobering to realize that the very first statement Jesus made about fasting dealt with the question of motive. To use good things to our own ends is always the sign of false religion...Fasting must forever center on God. It must be God-initiated and God-ordained...Fasting reminds us that we are sustained by ‘every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matt. 4:4)...Therefore, in experiences of fasting we are not so much abstaining from food as we are feasting on the word of God. Fasting is feasting!” Richard Foster

Verses 19-34

  1. Intro:
    1. Title: Where do you keep your Valuables?
      1. Do you trust those hotel safes? Sometimes you can...but often they have a default code like 00000 that the hotel uses in case you forget your code you entered. Be careful.
      2. Jesus encourages us here, to keep our valuables in heaven with Him, for really safe keeping.
    2. Read Summary statement first (vs.33,34).
      1. The Big Idea: Put God 1st & material things will be taken care of by God.
      2. The kingdom of God - is the primary subject of the Sermon on the Mount.
        1. That kingdom which the God of heaven is erecting in this fallen world. Where we are spiritually recovered under our Messiah Jesus, as its King.
      3. His righteousness - is the character of all such, described and illustrated in the verses prior.
      4. Seeking - making them (kingdom & character) the object of supreme choice & pursuit.
      5. First - seeking them before and above all else.
      6. All these things - goes back to the preceding verses all these things, which refers back to eat, drink, wear, which He sums up in all that He knows that we have need of...or, all that is required for the present life.
      7. Added - so kingdom & character seekers receive all of this as a gracious reward for not seeking the earthly things.
    3. We have here 3 Imperatives/commands of vital importance: They are…
      1. (20) Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven
      2. (25) Do not worry (3x’s +2)
      3. (20) Seek first the kingdom of God & His righteousness
  2. LAY UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN (19-24)
    1. ​​​​​​​How do we turn our addiction to earth-treasure to a passion for heaven-treasure?
      1. The caution...don’t put earthly gain before heavenly investments.
      2. One’s attitude toward wealth is another barometer of their righteousness.
      3. No, we can’t take it with us, but we can send it ahead.
    2. Material possessions in that day.
      1. The rich man was viewed as being close to God, while the poor man was somehow thought of as being under His judgment.
      2. Jesus put material possessions in a totally different frame of reference in this passage of the sermon.
    3. (19-21) Warning against the 3 beneficiaries of our earthly inheritance. moth/rust/thieves
    4. Ancient teachers like rabbi Hillel, generally acknowledged the corruptibility of earthly treasure. Because thieves could dig through walls and steal a strongbox in one’s home, well-to-do people usually tried one of several other methods to safeguard their wealth:
      1. Investing money with moneychangers.
      2. Depositing it in a temple for safekeeping (even most robbers balked at robbing gods).
      3. Burying it in the ground or in caves, where, however, moth (for expensive apparel) or rust (for coins) could destroy its value in time.
        1. What do you own or what owns you?
    5. He didn’t say where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.
    6. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​No, reversed.
      1. Your heart is like the feathers/fletching on an arrow, it follows precisely where the point leads it.
    7. (22,23) Think of spiritual blindness. The Pharisees had this problem because their spiritual eyes were diseased. [an eyeball in itself can’t be bad morally]
    8. The eye is the organ of perception through which our whole personality is guided.
      1. If we focus our vision on what the world calls success, our perception will be distorted and the light of God’s revelation of reality will be blocked out. Our whole personality will be darkened. What are you looking at?
        1. What are you focusing on? What do you see? Temp? or eternal?
    9. (24) 2 masters rarely shared slaves, but when they did it always led to divided interests.
      1. Remember about 1/2 the people in the Roman kingdom of Jesus’ day were slaves. And there were no part time slaves. Slide11 Thus, no part time Christians.
      2. You can’t look in 2 directions at one time. A slave can’t serve 2 masters. And you can’t live for both God and material wealth.
  3. DO NOT WORRY (25-32)
    1. ​​​​​​​How do I not worry? This is in no way to belittle your bouts with anxiety, worry, stress.
      1. Worry an old Anglo Saxon word, wrygan meaning to seize by the throat & tear.
      2. Ulcers are not only caused by what you eat, but also by what is eating you.
      3. ​​​​​​​This doesn’t say, don’t take thought of your life, or don’t plan for your life, but instead not to take anxious thought or worry over it.
        1. Answer me this...What were you worried about exactly 1 year ago today?
    2. (25) Most people in antiquity had little beyond basic necessities: food, clothing and shelter. Because their acquisition of these necessities often depended, especially in rural areas, on seasonal rains or (in Egypt) the flooding of the Nile, they had plenty of cause for stress even about food and clothing.
    3. What you will put on - maybe Jesus was thinking about us, because our our battle isn’t having something to wear, but having too much & having to decide what to put on.
      1. ​​​​​​​Our anxiety isn’t over if we’ll eat, but which place?
      2. Our anxiety isn’t over if we’ll find clean water today, but with or w/o ice, with or w/o bubbles/gas, with or w/o a straw, spring/mineral, imported/domestic, etc.
    4. Slide13 (26) Your heavenly Father - He is not the birds Father. He is the birds Creator (& Caterer). He’s the believer's Father. He’s the unbelievers Judge.
      1. ​​​​​​​Oh God, give me bird faith/bird trust!
    5. (27) Neither lengthen your stature or lengthen your days.
    6. (28-30) It’s interesting, we who care so much about how we look, have simply a bland peach, brown or black skin for our covering...while flowers, are arrayed w/so vibrant of colors. Slide14,15 Ritter Pic’s
      1. ​​​​​​​Lord, help me to be as content as a lily w/how you made me w/how you clothed me.
    7. The flowers here may be anemones. We always see red one’s in Israel each spring we go. But there are also purple one’s, the color that many ancient readers would have envisioned for Solomon’s royal robes (29).
    8. (30) To think the Lord who clothes lilies will leave his own children naked, is shameful.
      1. The perishing of grass and flowers as they dried up in each year’s summer heat was a natural image for human mortality.
    9. (31) Don’t fret over the world’s trinity of cares: eat, drink, wear?
    10. (32b) For your heavenly Father knows that you need these things - God is a know-it-all. God knows everything. His knowledge is immediate, instantaneous, comprehensive, and fully retentive. God knows what He knows without any kind of painstaking research; schooling, or use of google, or even siri.
    11. Slide16 So, How do I not worry? By finding the courage to abandon our lives to God’s care. Jesus’ illustration answers us. God feeds the birds & clothes the flowers - and you and I are of infinitely more value to our Father. His power orders every detail of the world in which we live; knowing His power and knowing His love for us, His children, we abandon ourselves to His loving care. We know that He will meet our needs.
  4. SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD & HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS (33,34)
    1. ​​​​​​​How do I make thy kingdom come a reality in my life today?
    2. You’ll worry about your life or worry about His kingdom. Jesus says, how about you worry about My kingdom, & I'll worry about yours? Deal?
    3. (33) Jesus said we are not even to be anxious about necessities!
      1. Living in the kingdom means abandoning our very lives to the Father’s care so that we can concentrate on seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness.
    4. (34) Every day brings its own cares; and to anticipate is only to double them.
    5. 7 Reasons not to be anxious: These 8 arguments are a gift from Jesus to free you from anxiety & to make you a generous giver.
      1. Life is more than Food; the body is more than Clothing (25)
        1. In other words, don’t be anxious about your soul & your body because those who might take your food and your clothing, and even cause your death, cannot take your real life or rob you of your resurrection body.
        2. In Christ you are immortal. Lk.12:4 My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
          1. There is something far worse than death, and it can never happen to you in Christ. So don’t be anxious.
      2. You are more valuable than the Birds that God Feeds (26) 2 premises…
        1. ​​​​​​​Premise 1: God is so completely in control of the natural universe. Every seed picked up or insect eaten or worm pulled up from the ground is provided by God. He does that for birds.
        2. Premise 2: You are of more value to God than they. 1 Pet.5:7, Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. So much more than for the birds whom He feeds. So don’t be anxious.
      3. Anxiety accomplishes nothing (27)
        1. Here is a simple, practical argument: anxiety does no good. It accomplishes nothing. It doesn’t help. [from WebMD.com] Chronic worrying can affect your daily life so much that it may interfere with your appetite, lifestyle habits, relationships, sleep, and job performance. Many people who worry excessively are so anxiety-ridden that they seek relief in harmful lifestyle habits such as overeating, cigarette smoking, or using alcohol and drugs.
        2. Preach this to yourself: I am accomplishing nothing helpful by this anxiety. I will listen to Jesus and say no to this useless emotion. I refuse to be mastered by a useless emotion.
        3. Control the things you can control. Give God the rest.
      4. The grass & the lilies that God clothes last for a day, but you are eternal (28-30)
        1. This is almost the same as the argument from the birds of the air. But not quite. The point there was that you are more valuable than the birds that God feeds. The point here is that you are eternal, and the grass and the lilies last for a day.
        2. Anxiety is a trust issue, for He says, O you of little faith (30). So Trust Him! Trust your Father. Come what may, he will take care of you.
      5. Anxiety is worldly (31,32a)
        1. For the Gentiles seek after all these things - if you are anxious, you are like the world. This is what people do who don’t know God. Anxiety is worldly.
        2. You might think this is a naive approach, how can this dispel this monster so easily. But I didn’t say it...Jesus did. He knows this monster of anxiety better than any of us. He knows how to fight it. It is a fight. He multiply’s weapons for us. Sometimes 1 will work, sometimes another. Paul gives another in Phil.4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Add these to your arsenal.
      6. Your Heavenly Father knows what you Need (32b)
        1. Father means he loves you & you are on his heart as a child.
        2. Heavenly means He’s sovereign over all the earth & nothing can stop him from doing good to you. He is never at a loss to know what is good for you and He has all the wisdom & resources that it takes to meet your need.
      7. God does not overload any day with trouble (34)
        1. Each day has its appointed amount. So don’t reach into tomorrow and bring its troubles into today. Lam.3:22-23 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Each day has its own appointed troubles, and there are new mercies appointed for us every day so you can bear them. Trust him they’ll be there.
    6. 3 Questions to ask ourselves:
      1. Did God govern the world OK before you entered it? yes
      2. Do you think He will do as well when you are gone from it? certainly
      3. Then, do you not think you may trust Him to govern it as long as you live? yes
    7. End: Seekers are you ready to make a kingdom shift? From yours to His?

Verse 34

  1. Intro:
    1. Ray LaMontagne sang Trouble | Oh, trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble | Feels like every time I get back on my feet | She come around and knock me down again. Worry | Oh, worry, worry, worry, worry | Sometimes I swear it feels like | This worry is my only friend
      1. Anyone feel like this might be a good theme song for their life?
  2. TODAY’S MERCIES FOR TODAY’S TROUBLES
    1. ​​​​​​​In v.34 Jesus returns full circle to the beginning of his discussion (25), encouraging daily dependence on God (11).
    2. How we ended last week... (MT.6:34)
      1. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
      2. NLT So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
      3. MSG Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
    3. God does not overload any day with trouble (34)
      1. Each day has its appointed amount. So don’t reach into tomorrow and bring its troubles into today.
      2. Slide11 Lam.3:22-23 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
      3. Each day has its own appointed troubles, and there are new mercies appointed for us every day so you can bear them. Trust Him they’ll be there.
        1. This should not to be understood as a transference of worry to another day.
        2. This passage commands that one should stop worrying and rely on God for His gracious provision. Worry is unbelief parading in disguise.
    4. Worry is not only a sin against God...it is a sin against ourselves.
      1. Worry is a slow form of suicide, for it poisons our system & shortens our lives.
    5. At 11:40 p.m. on 14 April, lookout Fredrick Fleet spotted an iceberg immediately ahead of Titanic and alerted the bridge. First Officer William Murdoch ordered the ship to be steered around the obstacle and the engines to be put in reverse, but it was too late; the starboard side of Titanic struck the iceberg, creating a series of holes below the waterline. Five of the ship's watertight compartments were breached. It soon became clear that the ship was doomed, as she could not survive more than four compartments being flooded. Titanic began sinking bow-first, with water spilling from compartment to compartment as her angle in the water became steeper.
      1. Ocean liners & large ships are built in such a fashion that the captain, by pressing a button, can lower steel doors in the hold of the ship to divide it into watertight compartments. Then, if the hull is pierced in a disaster, only a small portion of the boat can be flooded. In this way the ship can be kept afloat even though it has a gaping hole in its side.
        1. ​​​​​​​Ship Floodability - is the susceptibility of a ship’s construction to flooding.
        2. Persons who are in the Navy’s & Coast Guard’s maintenance & emergency repair specialists are called Damage Controlman (DC).
    6. With this in mind...In our Voyage of life we need to learn how to operate the watertight doors God has provided us.
      1. We need to shut out Yesterdays - w/all their errors & failures. Mistakes & regrets. Delusions & defeats.
      2. We need to shut out Unborn Tomorrows - and live for this day alone.
      3. We need to step into the next bulkhead - closing all doors, thus shutting out the past & the future. It’s learning how to live in the present. It’s being present
        1. ​​​​​​​It’s learning the specialty of Damage Controlman.
        2. It’s remembering, worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, but it does rob today of its strength.
    7. Today's Mercies Are For Today's Burdens (Note: Title of message & some parts used from John Piper’s message with the same title.)
    8. Every day God appoints a measure of pleasure and pain for that day - like an old Swedish hymn says: He(God) whose heart is kind beyond all measure, Gives unto each day what He deems best -Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure, Mingling toil with peace and rest.
      1. Kind beyond all measure, the Lord gives pain and pleasure to each day as He deems best.
        1. We don't always agree enthusiastically w/what God deems best for us.
      2. It’s hard for us to feel that He is kind beyond all measure when he gives us pain
        1. ​​​​​​​Causing pain is not generally equated with showing kindness. Especially if God's measure for one day is a lot more than another day.
        2. But it's true...God gives each day His wise & loving measure of pain & pleasure.
    9. There is fresh mercy from God for each day's appointed pain.
      1. Today's mercies are not designed to carry tomorrow's burdens. There will be mercies tomorrow for that. Today's mercies are for today's burdens.
    10. Worrying about tomorrow does not help either tomorrow or today. (www)
      1. If anything, it robs us of our effectiveness today - which means we will be even less effective tomorrow.
      2. Someone has said that the average person is crucifying himself between 2 thieves: the regrets of yesterday and the worries about tomorrow.
      3. It is right to plan for the future and even to save for the future. But it is a sin to worry about the future and permit tomorrow to rob today of its blessings.
    11. 3 words in this section point the way to victory over worry:
      1. Faith (30) trusting God to meet our needs.
      2. Father (32) knowing He cares for His children.
      3. First (33) putting God’s will first in our lives so that He might be glorified.
        1. Slide16b If we have faith in our Father and put Him first, He will meet our needs.
    12. For tomorrow will worry about its own things means there will be enough things to worry about tomorrow or tomorrow you should worry about those things.
    13. M.We are rarely anxious for today; it is the future that bothers us. If we restrict our concern to today, we defeat anxiety.
    14. A shallow thinker might gather from the previous words (6:25-33) about trust that the believer will have a smooth path through life. That is not what Jesus is saying. All people have trouble, believers among them. But he is making it clear that there is all the difference in the world between facing the problems we will certainly meet with firm faith in our heavenly Father and facing them with anxiety.
  3. TOMORROW’S MERCIES FOR TOMORROW’S TROUBLES
    1. ​​​​​​​But Tomorrow? What About Tomorrow?
      1. A.T.Robertson - The ghost of tomorrow stalks out with all its hobgoblins of doubt and distrust.
      2. What will become of our children? Will they believe? Or will they turn away from the faith? What will become of our health? Will we lose our memory before we go? Who will take care of us? Will we spend the last 10 years of our lives out-living all our friends and family, abandoned, slumped over in a wheelchair at a rural nursing home?
      3. What will become of our marriages? Will we ever trust again? Will we laugh and play and pray? Will we be there for the children? Will we be there for each other? Will it be sad and strained and dissatisfying for 30 or 40 more years? What will it be like tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow?
      4. What will become of our church? What will tomorrow bring? Will we be together? Will we be winning the lost, and standing for righteousness, and delivering the oppressed? Will we be sending more and more missionaries to the unreached peoples? Will we be worshiping with zeal for the glory and grace of our great God?
      5. What about tomorrow? Will we have the strength to live for tomorrow when tomorrow comes? And to live it well and wisely and even joyfully, no matter what God's measure of pain and pleasure?
    2. New Mercies for Tomorrow Given Tomorrow
      1. Slide19 Lam.3:22-23 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
      2. The strength to live tomorrow, will be given tomorrow, not today.
      3. And it will be given. Our task today is not to have the strength needed for tomorrow's burdens. Our task today is to live by the mercies given for today, and to believe that there will be new mercies for tomorrow.
      4. Today's mercies do not include strength for tomorrow; they include faith that tomorrow's unseen mercies will be sufficient for tomorrow.
      5. This is so important for the living of the Christian life - for children, for teens, for college students, young adults. For middle-aged people facing major life changes, for older people with tremendous uncertainties before them. For single people and married people.
        1. It's important because of how natural and strong the impulse in our hearts to want to feel sufficient today for tomorrow's challenges.
        2. We don't like it when the gauge reads "empty" at the end of the day, and we have to go to sleep - if we can - not feeling the power for tomorrow's troubles.
    3. Why are they new every morning? Why does God do it that way? It's not because yesterday's mercies were bad or weak. It's because they were yesterday's. Yesterday's mercies were for yesterday's burdens. Today's mercies are for today's burdens. They are new every morning. They are like the manna in the wilderness: you can't keep it overnight. Enough comes for each day. You live on God day by day, or you don't live on God.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Matthew 6". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/matthew-6.html. 2017.