Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014 Matthew 7:28-29

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law. (Matthew 7:28, 29 NLT)

How sweet would it be to have had the privilege of being one of those gathered there that day on the mountain? Sitting at the feet of our Lord, the warm Mediterranean sunshine on my back as I heard the very voice of God spoken by the One who was with him from before time. Perhaps His gaze would have caught my own eye, or His hand glanced lovingly along my arm as He passed. To His listeners at that time His teaching would have been revolutionary. The truth of His words and the authority behind them would have overwhelmed, especially compared to the nit picking,hair splitting teaching they had been receiving from the pharisees. I don't expect an experience like that this side of heaven. BUT by the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, dwelling in the mortal bodies of all true believers, we can experience His presence here and now and be led and instructed in all truth as we study His word, lovingly recorded for us in the Bible. Furthermore, as we gather with others in His name, He has promised to be right there with us wherever we may be. We know All God's promises are true.So as He laid down His life for us on that Good Friday so long ago, let us die to the ways of our time and offer ourselves afresh to Him each day as we worship Him, study His word, and serve His children here on earth. HALLELUJAH! Let's go serve Him.NOW!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thursday April 17, Matthew 7:24-27

”Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had it’s foundation on the rock.
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

Trust the Lord more, worry less and get more accomplished.

It seems that many people, myself included, live by the rule “God helps those who help themselves.” 
We feel we need to work long hours, in stressful jobs, to make enough income to support a lifestyle that we feel our family deserves – a beautiful, comfortable home, with all the modern conveniences, in a pretty neighborhood.  Activities, sports, hobbies, etc.
Or, maybe there is a situation that we can’t help meddling in – our grown children need our support and guidance so they don’t makes mistakes or get hurt and become discouraged.
If our outlook on life is based upon the solid rock of God’s love and protection, maybe we can afford to downsize instead of continually upgrading to something that appears to be bigger and better.
If we trust that God already has a plan for things to work out for the good, then we may prayerfully consider the situation before trying to take charge and force things to go the way we feel is best.

TRUST by Susan L. Lenzkes
Stoop shouldered, foot dragging, sighing resignation is not trust.
Real trust bounces on eager toes of anticipation – laughs with pure delight of knowing in whom it believes –
Rests easy knowing on whom it waits.
Lord, so wrap me in the knowledge of You, that my trust is no longer in You, but is You.

Terry Ryan

Wednesday April 16, 2014 Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  Matthew 7:21-23

When is the last time you changed your mind politically in response to someone giving you an alternative viewpoint?   That’s not a frequent occurrence for most of us and it becomes much less likely the nearer and dearer the issue is to our hearts.  We are people vested in thinking our understanding is correct.  We get it.   Understanding makes us feel safer and more comfortable.  For some of us, it makes us feel superior to those who “don’t get it”.
 Few issues are as near and dear to our hearts as faith.  Most of us desperately want to “get it”.  Problem is, like politics, once we “get it”, we tend to rest in our “secure” knowledge and perhaps even get hardened in our own understanding or way of doing things.  Jesus fully understood this human characteristic and that’s why he speaks so boldly to believers in Matthew 7.  He intends to get our attention by challenging the very things we tend not to challenge in ourselves.
Even in these postmodern times, Jesus has more fans than every sports team in America.  But Jesus doesn’t need or want fans.  He wants followers.  It’s possible to have a great moral performance, attend weekly Bible Study, sing praise songs on Sunday with your hands raised high,  listen to Christian radio, go on mission trips, and do everything imaginable in the parallel Christian sub-culture and still miss Jesus as Savior and Lord.  How can that be?  It goes to our underlying motivations.  Are we following Jesus for our own sake--what’s in it for us?  That’s what fans do--they consume experiences.  Or are we following Jesus for His sake-- doing things his way; serving for his glory because we’ve been changed on the inside; loving those he loves;  obeying because we stand in awe of what He did for us on the cross; repenting of sin and self-righteousness? That’s what followers do--they build His Kingdom.
“I never knew you.”  What’s your relationship with Jesus like? Do you know him through his word?  Do you allow him to know you because you’ve given him your heart, time, talents, and resources for his purposes and glory?  It’s impossible to know someone whose motivation is “what’s in it for me?”.  In Jesus’ case, “getting it” is best explained in Matthew 16:24-26a:  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? --Linda Wajda

“Day by day, dear Lord, of thee three things I pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.”   Richard, Bishop of Chichester, 1253

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday April 15, 2014 Matthew 7:15-20

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-20

This has always been a difficult passage for me.  The story is pretty straightforward, but my experiences get in the way.  I grew up on a farm.  My undergraduate degree is in horticulture: growing plants for food and beauty, as well as many other uses.  My major professor in graduate school was an internationally acclaimed plant breeder.  For thousands of years, people have been intentionally developing new varieties of plants through rather simple plant breeding methods, well before the last few decades of genetic engineering.

Truth be known, most of the products of plant breeding that come out of the initial cross breeding methods will produce many fold more unimproved or even inferior fruits.  Plant breeders employ many hours of selection at each generation, until they are satisfied with the variety.  

Looking at a fruit, it is not always evident whether it is going to be good or not for a particular usage.  It is hard to recognize a True improvement in a plant.

False prophets can be just as difficult to recognize.  People can be tricky!

During the Great Depression, a man named Al ran a soup kitchen in Chicago.  Many people were without jobs, and his soup kitchen provided a lot of meals.  Al did not even take any donations or money from the government.  That was really a great thing to do, right?  Literally, a point of light in the darkness.

You may not know about Al.  Al made a lot of money during the depression.  He worked hard to become one of the most violent mob bosses in the country, responsible for ordering scores of his perceived enemies killed.  Al Capone really bore bad fruit.

In the case of human prophets, you need to be sure to get a full assessment of what they are telling you.  If they quote Scripture, you need to investigate.  You need the council of others.

Work with a friend to evaluate your findings using the Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.   Use all of these tools to be better able to live a holy life.

Lord, keep me open to your love.  Keep me open to opportunities to follow you.  Lord, keep me open to question what I am told, so that I may walk closer to your steps.  Lord, keep me humble, keep me always learning, keep me always praying, until we are together in heaven.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday April 14, 2014 Matthew 7:13-14

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. Matthew 7:13-14(NLT)

This passage tells us that the road to heaven is very narrow and that few ever find it, and therefore few get to heaven.  This may surprise some Christians, and should be received as a word of caution. It also says the road to heaven is difficult.  It is speaking of how difficult it is to consistently follow God’s commands in everyday life.
The bible teaches that those that believe in Jesus will get to heaven. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, John 11:25  Some hold onto this promise and believe all they need to do is profess their faith in Jesus and they are home free.  This is a huge misconception because salvation is not that simple.  The Bible also teaches that we must GIVE our lives to Jesus and obey God’s commandments to get to heaven.   And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17
Another translation of Matthew 7:13-14 goes like this: “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. (The Message)  It cautions us that the road to life requires our total attention and is NOT easy.  
Consider Ephesians 2:8-9; For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Our salvation is a gift from God made possible by Jesus’ atonement for our sins, and not of any works of our own.  However, in order to truly accept Jesus as our Savior we must fully give our lives to His purpose, and follow His ways.  For more teachings on this see Luke 8:21, John 15:13-14, John 14:15-17a, Romans 8:1-39
If we profess our belief in Jesus but fail to live our lives the way He taught us to, we will not receive entry into heaven. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Hanging around with other Christians and going through the motions does NOT make you a true Jesus follower.  He knows your heart and how much you love Him.  Our intentions should be for His purposes.  Only those who truly follow Jesus will gain entry to heaven.
Luckily, there is hope for all.  Eternal life is free and available to everyone who turns from sin, accepts Jesus as savior, and follows His commands.  All can be washed clean and receive eternal life in heaven!
In closing, I would like to think that, upon dying, ALL people are given the chance to accept Jesus and gain entry to heaven.  The fact is, such details as these are not for us to know.  We can only base our knowledge on what God tells us in the bible.  Based on His word, the road to heaven is difficult and narrow, and few will ever find it. However, if you give your life to Jesus and live for His will, you should be among the few who do!
--Kelly Supek
Other scripture verses that teach of receiving eternal life are: Luke 6:46-49, Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 19:23-24, Matthew 10:17-22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Matthew 5:20

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday April 11, 2014 Matthew 7:7-12

Ask, Seek, Knock

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
How encouraging!  I know I have felt many times that my prayer requests might be too trivial, or not worth asking the Lord for.  I am sure many of us have prayed for healing, answers, resolutions, etc., that we feel may have never been granted.  This passage is very encouraging, though, because it points to the AUTHORITY we have in Jesus Christ.  Authority that we can claim His power as we pray because "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." (1 John 5:14). 
Of course, the answer to our prayers might not always come in the way and manner we may want, but we are encouraged by this passage to be persistent in asking!  The New Living Translation says, "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."  Keep persisting in your prayers! 
And as a fallen, imperfect parent myself, how comforting and humbling it is to be compared to the perfect Father, our Lord.  For if I, in my brokenness, frustration, emptiness, and exhaustion can continue to feed my own children with "bread" and "fish", how amazing to think that our Father would so graciously want to continue to feed ME and pour out His "good gifts" on ME when I ask.  As we continue to Ask, Seek, and Knock, let us pray that God would reveal His will for each of our heart's desires, as we seek to mold our hearts after His and to stand in the authority we have been given in Christ Jesus!  "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" ((Jeremiah 29:13).
Jennifer Mosier

Thursday April 10, 2014 Matthew 7:1-6

1“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 6“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Matthew 7:1-6 NKJV)l

What makes this passage tricky is the fact that the word judgement has two main meanings. One is to discern, or seek the truth of something while the other is to  pass sentence on or condemn. The Greek word used here also has the double meaning of discernment and condemnation. This passage is often tossed out to imply that it is wrong to judge anyone's actions. I don't believe that was the intention at all. While it would be easy to take this passage to mean simply that we are never to judge anyone but ourselves, the seeming odd admonition of verse 6 lets us know that while we are not to cast judgement, we are indeed called to use judgement and encourage each other in our journey toward spiritual maturity.

I believe that what Jesus is addressing here is the fact that in our natural human state, it is far easier to see another person's sin, or weakness, however small (a mere speck) than our own. Why? Well, perhaps the main wage of sin is that by it's very nature it separates us from God and thus from righteousness. If we are not striving to remove sin from our own life (a plank) we cannot expect to hear clearly from God. Thus we cannot expect to execute  good judgement (see clearly) in matters pertaining to others. Verse 5 tells us to FIRST remove the plank from our own eye,THEN, seeing clearly, to remove the speck from our brother's eye. In both cases the sin is to be removed, not left to fester and grow causing further separation from God. The goal for both self and brother is healing and restoration, not staying in the same place of sin and separation. Clearly though, before dealing with others we are to deal with ourselves. Jesus never wants to lose anyone in a place of sin, indeed he died to prevent that. I am reminded of the story of the adulterous woman in John 8 where Jesus tells the crowd "Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone." After the accusers are gone, however, and assuring the woman that he also does not condemn her, he admonishes her to "go and sin no more". He does not excuse her behavior nor leave her in a place of sin. Rather,he asks her to repent of it so she can move forward. He speaks the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and we are called to do the same, but not before examining ourselves, repenting of our own sin,  and using righteous judgement. Verse2 tells us that the judgement we use will be used on us, and in the same measure, so it behooves us to be sure we are judging rightly, or not at all as verse 1 suggests.

Finally, we come to verse 6 which at first glance might seem not to be part of this  section. Dogs and pigs, in the culture of the time were both considered unclean, and thus unholy creatures. So to give what is holy to an unholy creature like a dog would make no more sense than to put pearls on a pig. Indeed given the nature of both creatures, one could expect to be trampled or torn to pieces for dealing with them. I believe Jesus is telling us here that we are to also use good judgement to discern where our efforts should be applied, in order not to waste precious resources.
--Tracy Moore

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday April 9, 2014 Matthew 6:25-34

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? 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? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 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? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34 NKJV)
Jesus is telling us that too often, we get caught up in the cares of this world and allow ourselves to forget that God not only is going to provide for our needs, but He wants us to open our hearts to be receptive to the Blessings He wants us to have- We often look at difficult situations, and feel there is no solution, and expect the worst- When we put those concerns into His Hands, we may not get the results we're looking for at that time, but God knows that what He is providing us is what is best for what we need- It is a matter of building our Trust in His Promises, and to know that what we're actually doing is building a greater reliance on Him- That will bring us through every situation we face on this Earth, maybe not what we want, but what coincides w/ His Will- And when that Trust is built, and our Faith increases, down the road, we have Blessings awaiting us that we can't begin to imagine- Jesus is saying that God provides a way for even the birds of the air to have the provisions they need, and they don't have a way to honor Him- But, as His Children, we have every opportunity to bring him Honor and Glory- The birds of the air get His Blessings, why shouldn't those who have the chance to Honor Him every day of their lives ??--John Cochran

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday April 8, 2014 Matthew 6:24

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24

The King James translation of this verse uses the word “mammon”, more recent translations use “money” or “wealth”.  Mammon isn’t capitalized, but may have been the actual name of a god of riches. In any case, Jesus’ hearers would have associated the word with riches.

Even though we often hear 1 Timothy 6:10, quoted as “money is the root of all evil”, it really says “the love of money is the root of all evil.”   There’s nothing inherently wrong with wealth. Even John Wesley said “Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can”. There is something wrong about making it your goal. John Wesley also said that if he died worth more than ten pounds, people could rightfully call him a thief and a robber.

I don’t know if Jesus is speaking specifically about money, or of whatever might be separating us from the one true God, any of the “shiny gods” like those we discussed this past fall in the stewardship campaign. But he is sending a clear message: choose your priority, make up your mind, follow the true path. This goes beyond putting God first. It’s putting God “only”. Because the danger is not just wrong priorities. The danger is that if we choose the wrong “master” we aren’t putting God in second place, but in last place.   --Marilyn McCarter

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday April 7, 2014 Matthew 6:22,23

Matthew 6:22, 23 NASB)
"The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!


God gave us eyes to see, to show and to reflect.
The first glance into the soul of a person is the eyes. Eyes reflect and transcend the words or lack thereof and communicate the conscious mind, the attitude or even the state of the spirit of a person. Eyes can help discern the light and darkness of the situation or a person. The Holy Spirit is able to be our eyes and it is up to us to yield our eyes to Him for His purpose and will. 
The more I yield to the Light and die to myself, brighter the Light shines through my eyes. The sooner I confess my sin, my weakness to desire earthly wealth, my failures, my troubles, my concerns in this world, the sooner my eye sight (of my spirit) is restored and healed. His Word enables my eyes to see from His perspective. 

There is abundance in Jesus. God is rich, and when God gives, He gives plentifully just as there were twelve baskets left over. But it started with a simple obedience to yielding and giving all the disciples found in His followers. As soon as Jesus lifted the basket and gave thanks, it kept coming! I may have little to offer as far as wealth compared to those who are wealthy here on earth, but whatever I give whole-heartedly with thanksgiving, He honors and He multiplies. Sarah was barren, so was Hannah, but as they believed in God's promise, they received the ability to conceive. Simon was tired and exhausted from trying to catch fish, but when Jesus spoke to him and led him out to the place where Jesus said to go, Simon caught fish in the presence of Jesus in the boat more than he can handle to the point the net would tear!  He witnessed the power of the Word of Jesus in abundance. Then he followed Jesus to catch men (Luke 5:4-10).

I must turn my eyes to see Jesus, and wherever He chooses, to be His instrument and reflection of the Light and show that He is alive! He supplies us with everything we need, and He is able to do immeasurably more than we can imagine or ask for according to His riches of Glory. He rewards those who believe and seek Him.

  Ephesians 1:18 NASB
 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope       of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
 Ephesians 3:16 NASB
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.
Colossians 1:27 NASB
to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Kathy Carpentier

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday April 4, 2014 Matthew 6:19-21

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

This passage immediately brought me back to a truth that the Lord showed me several years ago.  We are part of a royal priesthood, and priests of the Lord.  One of the responsibilities priests had in the old testament was to place a value on what was brought to the temple, in offering.  As priests in God’s kingdom today, and His channel of love and truth to the world, each of us has the ability - and responsibility - to assign value to things.  We have responsibility to place high value on eternal things (mercy, justice, forgiveness, surrender, love, compassion) – and low value on worldly things (accumulating wealth, material possessions, status, title, reputation).  When we as priests assign high value to worldly things, we abdicate this very important role of reminding our own hearts of what matters to God. When we have things in their proper place – i.e. how God values them – we are a witness to our own family and our communities.  We are also then at peace in our own heart and soul– how many of us have experienced anxiety or lack of hope, only to realize that we have been caught up in the values of the world, instead of focusing on spiritual living.  In this passage, Matthew encourages us to gather, heap and store up – living from day to day in ways that increase our ability to focus on Kingdom principles and values.  Interestingly, the “thieves” in these verses are translated from the Greek to mean “embezzler, or pilferer”, and it was a name used for false teachers.  God is admonishing us to be aware of how easily our minds can be “instructed” by worldly influences – and before you know it, these “false teachers” have stolen the nourishment and refreshing of our souls.  Laying up – valuing – what God says is of eternal value is firstly an act of the mind.  In obedience, often in the face of opposition of what the world says is the right way, we choose to value things like the beatitudes – poverty of spirit, purity of heart, meekness, and the others – even when this goes contrary to our emotions, or what we would like to do. It is first an act of the mind, but God promises us that as we lay up this treasures in heaven, our hearts will follow.  The heart is defined in this passage as the centre of all physical and spiritual life; the understanding, will and character, and the inmost part of everything. That is very good news.  Dear fellow priest, what will we place value on today?
--Angie Kays-Burden

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday April 3,2014 Matthew 6:16-18

Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, who go about with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:16-18 )

Once again, Jesus reminds us that everything we do to impress other people or gain their favor amounts to nothing more than that fleeting reward...the favor of people. We all know how quickly such favor can disappear. I have been reading a book titled "When People are Big and God is Small" . It deals with just this topic: focusing on pleasing people at the expense of pleasing God. So these verses tell me if my motivation is to please or impress people rather than to love them or to please God because I love GOD, my reward amounts to nothing. Do the circumstances of our lives ever lead us to wonder if our sacrifices for The Lord are even noticed? Does God see us? Well if we truly are doing it for God and God alone the answer clearly given here is YES! Not only does He see but He will reward us openly. But our motivation is key. For The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but The Lord looks at the heart. -- 1 Samuel 16:7. Our sacrifices must be made for our LOVE of God, not for expectation of reward from either heaven or earth. Ironically, when our motivation is pure, out of love rather than expectation, THEN, we will receive our reward from God  which will far exceed any we might have expected. --Tracy Moore.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wednesday April 2, 2014 Matthew 6:9-15

This then is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. 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. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:9-15)

FORGIVE! The Lord could not be much clearer on what is expected of us. For me personally, Matthew 6:14-15 are some of the most convicting and downright scary verses in the whole Bible. WOW...if I don't forgive others God will not forgive me? If you believe in the truth of the Bible as God's word, and I do, there is no getting around this mandate. FORGIVE! I confess before you all: I have issues with forgiveness. It takes a lot to get me to that place of needing to forgive (thank goodness!) but once I do it does not come easy for me. In fact, of my own power I would say impossible. Then I think on these verses and know what is necessary and fully understand that for me, it is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit in me. But even then it is a long hard work. I do know though, that if I do the work God is faithful and will lead me (perhaps kicking and screaming) where I need to go. In fact it happened just this morning for me once again when the Lord led me to these verses during my study time: And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony stubborn heart and give you a tender responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Thank You Jesus for Your amazing example of forgiveness! Help me when I stubbornly refuse to forgive such smaller things, to remember Your way and the mandate of these verses. AMEN!

Friends I have a challenge for everyone today. Let's take these beloved words of the Lord's prayer and put them in our own words and post them in the comments. I did that exercise once in a workshop and it was so meaningful to stop and actually think about the words we say so often they can become rote and mindless. It breathed new life into them for me.--Tracy Moore

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tuesday April 1, 2014 Matthew 6:5-8

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners [a]so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.   Matthew 6:5-8  New American Standard Bible (NASB)