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Posted By Nan

Matthew 6:5-15 part 4
This last section reminds us of the importance of forgiving those who have wronged us to that God can forgive us. It involves forgiving others their reckless and wilful sins and leaving them, letting go of them and giving up resentment so that God can forgive us. There are four verses that this section is linked with:
Matthew 18:21-35 which is an illustration Jesus gave of the importance of forgiving those who wrong us. He did this through the story of the servant with the large debt to his master that is forgiven. He then finds a fellow servant who owes him a small debt and punishes him. When the master finds out, he punishes the servant.
In this reading, Jesus reminded His disciples of how much we are forgiven by God and how little right we have to hold on to the sins against us.
Mark 11:25-26 is about coming to prayer when we have something against another person. Jesus tells us to forgive the person and let it go (drop it) so that God may also forgive us our own failings and shortcomings and let them drop.
Ephesians 4:32 (read 17-32). In it Paul admonishes the Ephesians to stop living as the Gentiles do. They have futile thinking with a darkened understanding and are separated from the life of God through ignorance which has hardened their hearts. They are no longer sensitive and live lives that serve sensuality and indulge voraciously in all impurity. When the Ephesians came to know Jesus they put off their old, corrupt selves and were made new in attitude and to fulfil their creation to be like God, righteous and holy. This involves speaking the truth and controlling behaviour so that feelings do not lead to sin. Paul specified the need to deal with conflict, the source of anger, before going to bed so that the devil could not gain a foothold. The longer we hold on to anger and hurt, the harder it is to let go of it. Paul also told people not use unwholesome language but to speak only what would build others up. People were to be rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and malice so as not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Instead people were to be kind and compassionate with one another, forgiving each other, as Jesus forgave us.
Forgiving others is part of our life in God. It is our new way of thinking, an attitude of humility and forgiveness, the recognition that God has forgiven more of our sins that we will ever be sinned against. It is about getting rid of the sinfulness of anger, the bitterness, rage, brawling, slander and malice because those behaviours grieve the Holy Spirit. Instead we are to be compassionate. This means we forgive others as Jesus forgave us.
Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.“ This continues to verse 17 which I strongly recommend you read. This talks about allowing the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts because we are members of one body, Jesus, and were called to peace. We are to be thankful and let the word of Jesus dwell in us as we teach each other and as we worship God with Gratitude. Above all we are to do this in the name of Jesus and give thanks to God through Him.
Forgiving others is part of our walk as disciples. It is woven into the way we are in Jesus. If we can’t forgive, we can’t walk as disciples. Jesus understands how hard it is to forgive. He had to forgive people as he hung on the cross, but His attitude was such that He could. So often all we can do is give Jesus the willingness to forgive and the desire to do it and to trust Jesus that the feeling will come. So don’t beat yourself up if you feel hurt and angry at another person’s behaviour towards you. Hand it to Jesus and seek to let go of it. Express that willingness and Jesus will look after the rest.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 6:5-15 part 3
Today I am concentrating on verses 9 to 12. This is what is commonly known as “the Lord’s Prayer”. This prayer is often considered a child’s prayer or a family prayer but its context tells us otherwise.
It is always important when reading the Bible to look at the context of the verses. This protects us from taking the verses out of context and from the temptation to find the meaning we want from those verses instead of God’s meaning. This passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount, which is a sermon for Jesus’ disciples. In Luke 11 Jesus teaches His disciples this prayer in response to a request from one of them to teach them how to pray. From the context of these verses it is important to see this prayer as one that only a disciple can pray.
But who is a disciple? A disciple is one who is committed to Jesus. This prayer is for the individual who is committed to Jesus. Only when committed to Jesus is it possible to pray this prayer with any meaning.
In Barclay’s Daily Study Bible on Matthew, he makes the following observations about these passages.
Verses 9 to 10 contain three petitions that are concerned with God and His glory.
The next three are about what the person praying wants and needs (11-13). Note Jesus is not saying it is wrong to ask God for things. He is however showing us that we first should put God in His rightful place. There are some Christians that believe it is wrong to ask God for anything. They believe we should only offer worship and sit before God waiting for Him. I have encountered Christians like this that block prayers for those in need because of this faulty belief. In doing this they are denying a person in need the relief of prayer and the comfort and support that God wants to give them. Here in these verses, Jesus is telling us that God expects us to pray to Him, after we have recognised His place in our lives.
So therefore, the first part of this prayer is about giving God His rightful place. It is also about not attempting to tell God what to do and use our will to bend God’s will. We must submit our will to God and His will. That is true discipleship.
The three petitions that follow are about asking God for what we need to maintain life, which is our present. Then it asks for forgiveness for what we have done, this is our past. Then it asks for help to avoid temptation, this is our future. Jesus is teaching us to place our past, present and future before the cross and submit them to God.
Barclay suggests these three requests also represent the Trinity. We ask God for what we need to sustain our life. We ask Jesus for the forgiveness that He won for us on the cross and we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and keep us from temptation. He sees this as bringing the whole of our lives to the whole of God and allowing the whole of God to be the whole of our lives.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 6:5-15 part 2
In verse 6 Jesus tells His listeners that they must pray in secret to their Father, who is unseen. This does not mean that you should never pray with others if that is necessary, it means that your main prayer time should be just between you and God. Remember, Jesus went to quiet places to pray to His Father and He is telling us that His Father is also our Father. God rewards our willingness to spend time with Him in prayer by developing a relationship with us. It is in prayer that we learn more about our Heavenly Father and about Jesus. It is here that we progress on that path that leads to a deeper knowledge of Jesus and to God.

In verse 7, Jesus tells His listeners that they are not to babble. As a new Christian, I always felt intimidated by the people who prayed with their fancy words, binding this, loosing that, casting down this, undergirding something else. I prayed what was in my heart and could feel their superior judgements of my “baby” prayers. It was a long time before I stopped and listened to God and His encouragement that he valued my  “baby” prayers more than the pretentious prayers of others. It was like praying in tongues. I could pray in tongues, but it did not feel appropriate all the time. Often it seemed people did it because it looked as though they were very spiritual. Many times I had words I was given to pray and could not pray them because those who prayed for effect were preventing anyone else speaking.
In 1Cor13:1 Paul says “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (NIV). Is the person who prays loudly in tongues for effect a clanging cymbal? Yes.
Many years ago I searched the Bible and prayed about speaking in tongues. This is what God revealed to me. Speaking in tongues is speaking to God. And He who speaks in tongues edifies himself. (1Cor14:2,4). The message was that I could use tongues in praying directly to God, especially in my individual prayer time in addition to my other prayers, and that people who pray loudly in tongues often seek to edify themselves. In the ensuing verses, Paul speaks of tongues being no good unless they bring a message from God because sounds that are not understood cannot teach us or bring us a message. Paul asked us to excel in gifts that edify other Christians. Paul said that when we pray in tongues, our spirits pray but our minds are unfruitful (15). He said he would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in tongues (19). Often people slip into tongues because they have nothing to say. I have done it myself. So I decided I would only pray in tongues when I had prayed everything I needed to pray and was seeking to edify God or on those rare occasions in intercession when I felt the need to pray fervently in the spirit and I would pray in a whisper.
I know that a lot of this belief in praying elaborate prayers comes from the feeling of inferiority that many of us feel. It comes from having to be heard by others and fearing their judgement that we are not spiritual enough. I have learned to ignore that and focus on God. I have learned to pray the simple prayers of a child, because He does not require anything more from me. To not care if others judge me as not being spiritual enough, because God alone knows my standing with Him and the things of earth are nothing compared to God.
In verse 8 Jesus tells us that our Father knows what we need before we ask Him. He likes us to ask, but He already knows, so he doesn’t need beautiful, elaborately worded petitions, He just needs the simple longing of our hearts. He delights in that childlike faith. Our Heavenly Father is a parent who takes great delight in being with His children and interacting with them. He wants you. Are you willing to come to Him, in secret, without fanfare, and just be in His presence?

Posted By Nan

Matthew 6:5-15 part 1
This section is really important. It speaks of our main way of being in relationship with God. It also contains a large volume of information on how that relationship works. For this reason, it is important to read this section in its entirety, and to read it several times. Only then can the individual parts of this section be explored.
The first two verses, five and six, echo the first four verses of this chapter. Those verses spoke of the need to performs acts of charity in private, where the act honoured God rather than self, and of the importance of ensuring you had the right attitude to the charitable acts you perform so that you never fall into the trap of seeking any form of glory, whether it is in playing the martyr, or gloating to yourself about how wonderful you are, or ensuring others see what you are doing and applaud you.
In the same way, Jesus speaks of the need to pray so that your prayer glorifies God. He wants your conversations with your Heavenly Father to be private and genuine. Sometimes we are called on to pray in public and on those occasions we must always guard against the temptation to think about how we sound to others. Make an effort to put those thoughts away from you. Focus on God and on the prayer you make to Him.
God wants a relationship with us through His son Jesus. In that relationship it is important to consider a quote by Joyce Meyer “Jesus in interested in marriage, not a forty-five minute date every Sunday morning.” If your aim in prayer is to let others know how great you are. If you start praying to God but find yourself performing for your audience; if you are the sort of person who prays in your house or yard and speaks in a loud voice for all the neighbours to hear how virtuous you are, then stop. Because you are the hypocrite praying in the church on the street corner to be seen by men (v5). If this is you then you are not living in relationship with God’s son Jesus. You are living in a relationship with yourself.
To finish the earlier quote by Joyce Meyer “Make Him (Jesus) first in your life”. In the next blog, I will talk about what making Jesus first in your life looks like in prayer.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 6:1-4
We come from some of the hardest verses in the Bible to some of the easiest … or are they? Jesus tells His listeners that a disciple should not seek a reward for the good deeds done to others. He was speaking against the teachers of the law who made an ostentatious show of their good works. That type of man sought the adulation and praise of others. His concern was with how others saw him. But Jesus is telling us that our concern should be with how He sees us. It is not always possible to hide our good deeds and we are not condemned if others hear about those deeds and praises us. Jesus is telling us that a good disciple should be concerned with Jesus and should be focused on Him. How many people do good deeds with an expectation that someone will say something nice about those deeds? That person may think he is doing a good dead for Jesus, but a tiny part of him is doing it for himself. We all fall into that trap. When you do something for another person, do you feel hurt when they do not acknowledge what you have done or your good deed is ignored and the actions of another person are praised? It is so hard to have that happen, especially when your motive in doing the deed contained a little bit of the “me”. Still other people do their goods deeds then sit and gloat about what virtuous people they are. Others do their good deeds then affect the martyr attitude and speak of how hard they work, “sigh, but aren’t I a good person for doing it, not that I would ever say that… .”. Those people are seeking an earthly reward for their good deeds.
Jesus knows the good things you do. He wants your desire to be to follow Him and to focus on Him. When you do something good let the motivation be to serve Jesus, not to seek glory, even a little bit. Let Jesus be what guides you. And hand those hurts at being overlooked over to Him because He has noticed what you have done and He delights in you.



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