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Matthew 6

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, APRIL 3

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

Matthew 4

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, MARCH 30

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 4

When we finished chapter 3 yesterday, things were on a spiritual high.  Jesus had just been baptized to “fulfill all righteousness”.  The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus and God the Father spoke.  Then we get to chapter 4.

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  Then, it seems, everything goes south in a hurry.  There is so much in this chapter that we should talk about.  There is so much in this chapter that I want to talk about.  But I only have one page to write on and that means I have to be very selective.

I’ve decided to just focus on the temptation that happens at the beginning of the chapter.  The Bible says after Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights, he was hungry.  (I want to say, “Ya think?” I have trouble going four hours without food. Sometimes 40 minutes is a stretch.) It was then the devil showed up to do his dirtiest work.

You probably noticed Satan tempted Jesus three times.  This is significant because it may very well be every temptation fits into one of three categories.  The Bible says, “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16)  

So think about this.  Satan’s first temptation had to do with Jesus’ physical hunger (desire of the flesh).  The second one had to do with proving He was God’s Son (the pride of life).  The third one had to do with seeing “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory (the desire of the eyes).  

Oddly enough the first temptation recorded in the Bible (Genesis 3) fits this same pattern.  It may be that Satan actually is limited in what he can do.  But he is just really good at doing it.  And, too often, we are easy marks.

Another interesting thing about this temptation in the wilderness is that the first two times Satan attacked Jesus it was about Jesus’ identity: “If you are the Son of God”.  This attack was at the very heart of who Jesus is which may be the deepest attack against any of us.  When we struggle with our identity or feel compelled to prove who we are, this attack may be in play.

 

Here’s something else to think about.  In the first temptation, Satan addressed Jesus as “The Son of God”.  But the Scripture Jesus answered with begins with “Man”.  In other words, Jesus is not facing these attacks from His divinity.  He is facing these attacks in His humanity.  This should give us so much hope.  Jesus defeated these temptations as a man, albeit the perfect man.  But, if we learn from this, we too, should be able to experience more victory over our temptations.  

That brings up the question of how was Jesus able to be victorious.  I am quite convinced His victory is based on two things: one, the presence of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16); two, the power of God’s Word.  That, by the way, is the only basis that any of us have for victory: allow the Spirit to fill you (Ephesians 5:18) and stay in the Word of God.

Speaking of God’s Word, it is also important that we see that Satan knows and used God’s Word in his temptation of Jesus.  That’s kind of scary.  But again if we go back to the first temptation in the Garden of Eden, Satan said to Eve, “Has not God said…”  Now more often than not when Satan uses God’s Word, he omits parts of it which means he misuses God’s Word.  But that reinforces the fact that we desperately need to know what God’s Word actually says so we will be better prepared to recognize the truth from error, however slight.

Welp, my space is gone.  And I was just getting started on this amazing chapter. 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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