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Matthew 7




SCRIPTURE: Matthew 7

Today we have the third and final chapter that makes up The Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus has had much to say to us about a lot of different things in the three chapters that make up this famous sermon.  But if you look over the entire sermon one more time, you might discover that Jesus really had just one topic throughout the entire message.  I am quite convinced this entire sermon is about how we are to live life in a righteous or right way.

This chapter is no exception.  It begins with a section about judging others and being judged.  We are reminded how easy it is for us to see the smallest flaws in others while we ignore the most grievous flaws in ourselves.  So, you have to be careful about trying to remove a speck from someone else’s eye if you have a two by four sticking out of yours.  You could actually poke someone’s eye out just trying to remove one, tiny, little speck.

From there Jesus talks again about prayer.  We should talk about this for a second.  I think a lot of folks have the notion that God is just a big candy machine producing whatever it is you think you want at the moment you want it.  Then if we don’t get it, we slump away convincing ourselves that God is either unloving or uncaring or incapable of doing what we asked. Yet, in verse 11 we read where God gives good things to those who ask Him.

But did you notice that in this section on prayer, Jesus talked about how a parent might respond to the request of a child?  We should slow down here just a bit and wrestle around with this.  For example, if you had a four year old child asking you for a real gun, I doubt seriously any of you would give that child a gun.  If you had a teenager asking you for methamphetamine, I know none of you would give that teenager that drug.  Here’s my point.  A gun is not necessarily bad but the best thing would be not to give one to a child.  Methamphetamine is always bad and no one should ever give any of that to anyone.

When it comes to prayer and our asking God for stuff, we really need to learn to trust the wisdom and goodness of God.  We may have asked for something it would just be better us not to have at the moment (like a kid wanting a gun).  If God knows that and gives it to us anyway, He is not a good God.  We may have asked for something that it would be better if we never had (like methamphetamine).  If God knows that and gives it to us anyway, He is not a good God.

So, when we are praying and telling God all of the things that we want and think we need, we need to trust the goodness of God.  If we get those things, then Woo Hoo!  If we don’t get those things, then it still should be Woo Hoo because we serve a God who loves us enough to do what is always best for us.

The chapter ends with a story that Jesus tells about two houses: one built on the sand; the other built on the rock.  By the way, these houses aren’t really houses.  They represent lives, yours and mine.

Jesus described exactly identical storms hitting those two houses.  The one built on the sand collapsed.  The one built on the rock withstood the onslaught.  

Since none of us are exempt from the certain storms of life, we really need to think about how we could survive.  In verse 24, Jesus said the way we do that is we listen to and do what He said.  It is not enough just to hear the Word of God.  Doing what God says is most important.  That doesn’t storm proof our lives.  But it does make surviving the storms a real possibility.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 6




SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6

Today we are in the second of three chapters that make up this sermon we call The Sermon on the Mount.  Interestingly, the topic of righteousness Jesus brought up in chapter 5 is still a prominent theme in chapter 6.  

He begins in verse 1 by telling us that all kinds of righteousness will always be rewarded.  He said if we practice our “righteousness” for the purpose of others seeing just how “righteous” we are, the compliments, pats on the back, and high fives are the reward.  On the other hand, when we practice our “righteousness” for the purpose of helping others in such a way that glorifies God, He will reward us.

That doesn’t mean we have to do everything in the dark of night or in stealth mode or while wearing a ski mask.  It means that when we step out to do something “righteous”, our motivation is the key.  Are we doing it so others will see and congratulate us? Or are we doing it so that God will see and reward us even if others might inadvertently know what we are doing?  The issue isn’t really if someone else sees us or not.  Our actions can be good examples to others.  The real issue is why we did it in the first place: for others to see and be impressed or for God to see and be glorified.

Because Jesus is such an amazing teacher, He knew we would probably need some examples to support this incredible teaching.  So, in the next several verses, Jesus offers us at least three examples, all three beginning with “When you…”  You can find these in verses 2, 5, and 16.  The three examples He gives are about giving to the needy, praying, and fasting.

It is very interesting that Jesus chose the words, “When you…”  He didn’t say, “If you…” but “When you…”  In other words, Jesus is fully expecting us to engage in these three things.  For Jesus it is not a matter of if we do these things.  It is a matter of when we do these things.  And since motivation is important, when we do these things, we need to do them with the right intention.

The only way we should give and pray and fast is so that God is our only audience.  Again, that doesn’t mean others won’t see.  They may very well see regardless of how secretive we are.  It just means our intent was for God to be our only audience.  

Jesus said in all three instances (giving, praying, fasting), if God was our intended audience, then God will be our rewarder.  Of course the question is what is the reward.  I don’t have a clue.  But whatever God gives to me as a reward has to be something that is valuable otherwise it wouldn’t be a reward.  It has to be something that is desirable otherwise I wouldn’t want it.  It has to be something personal because in all three cases the Scripture says “will reward you”.  This reward is something that God has just for you just for this occasion.

So, we are to live our lives to please an audience of One believing that the One who is the giver of all good gifts has something particularly good just for us.


Posted by Joe Ligon with