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Commands of Christ-19b

Commands of Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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February 23, 2022 WED The Commands of Christ-19 | A Christian's Religion
In the text which we will read in a few minutes we hear Jesus command us to have a “religion” that looks different from other religions because it IS different from other religions.
Our religion is more about relationship with God than performing certain rituals of religion.
And yet, it seems the rituals are so much easier because we TEND towards rituals that focus on externals rather than relationship.
Why is that?
Purpose: To consider proper and improper motives for our religious conduct.
Read: Matthew 6:1-6
Jesus talks about giving to the poor in a way that is different from other religions.
Why is giving to the poor an important part of relationship with Jesus?
How important is it?
And then, Jesus moves from giving to the poor to prayer.
In verse 4, Jesus says that the Father who sees what is done in secret will reward.
Otherwise as verse 4 AND verse 5 tells us, if we do it to be seen by others that is ALL we will receive.
Question 2. Matthew 6:7-15 will be covered in the next study.
8. Why and how is our praying to be different (Matthew 6:6)?
So verse 4 (giving) and verse 6 (prayer) both tell us reward comes from the secret acts.
Relationship with God flows out of private AND public prayer times — but private needs to come first and most often.
9. How do you think the reward the Father will give us (Matthew 6:6) differs from the reward we receive from others (Matthew 6:5)?
Question 9. R. V. G. Tasker points out that the Greek word for the "room" into which we are to withdraw to pray (tameion) "was used for the storeroom where treasures might be kept." The implication may be, then, that "there are treasures already awaiting" us when we pray (Matthew, p. 73).
Certainly the hidden rewards of prayer are too many to enumerate.
In words of the apostle Paul, when we cry, "Abba, Father," the Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are indeed God's children, and we are granted a strong assurance of his fatherhood and love (Romans 5:5; Romans 8:16).
We know we are no longer orphans, for the Father has adopted us; no longer prodigals, for we have been forgiven; no longer alienated, for we have come home.
He lifts the light of his face upon us and gives us his peace (Numbers 6:26).
He refreshes our soul, satisfies our hunger, quenches our thirst.
Read: Matthew 6:16-18.
10. In Matthew 6:16 Jesus assumes Christians will fast (although few of us do). Why and how should we fast (Matthew 6:16-18)?
Question 10. Strictly speaking, fasting is a total abstention from food.
It can be legitimately extended, however, to mean going without food partially or totally, for shorter or longer periods.
There can be no doubt that in Scripture fasting has to do in various ways with self-denial and self-discipline.
And yet:
Isaiah 58:1–12 (NASB95) “Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, And declare to My people their transgression And to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 “Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God. 3 ‘Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’ Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, And drive hard all your workers. 4 “Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high. 5 “Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD? 6 “Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? 7 “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 “Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, 10 And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. 11 “And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. 12 “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.
Fasting goes hand in hand with doing the right thing in relationship with others.
If we are keeping Isaiah 58 in mind, what are reasons we would fast?
First and foremost, to "fast" and to "humble ourselves before God" are virtually equivalent terms (Psalm 35:13; Isaiah 58:3, 5).
Psalm 35:13 (NASB95) But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.
Some times this was an expression of penitence for past sins. When people were deeply distressed over their sin and guilt, they would both weep and fast (Neh. 9:1-2; Jonah 3:5; Daniel 9:2-19; Daniel 10:2-3; Acts 9:9).
Nehemiah 9:1–2 (NASB95) Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. 2 The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.
Jonah 3:5–10 (NASB95) Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. 6 When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. 7 He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. 8 “But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. 9 “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.” 10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
We are not to humble ourselves before God only in penitence for past sin, however, but also in dependence on him for future mercy. For if penitence and fasting go together in Scripture, "prayer and fasting" are even more often coupled (Exodus 24:18; 2 Chron. 20:1-4; Esther 4:16; Ezra 8:21-23; Matthew 4:1-2; Acts 13:1-3; Acts 14:23).
2 Chronicles 20:1–4 (NASB95) Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat. 2 Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi).” 3 Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to seek help from the LORD; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the LORD.
Ezra 8:21–23 (NASB95) Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions. 22 For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.” 23 So we fasted and sought our God concerning this matter, and He listened to our entreaty.
Our fasting can also be a means of self-discipline. A voluntary abstinence from food is one way of increasing our self-control (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
Likewise, fasting can be a deliberate doing without in order to share what we might have eaten (or its cost) with the undernourished (Isaiah 58:1-7).
We have seen OT examples of fasting, but is fasting a NT concept?
First, there is our text: :When (not if) you fast ...
Matthew 9:14–15 (NASB95) Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
11. In what other areas are we tempted to seek the approval of people rather than of God?
12. How can this passage help to purify our motives?
Psalm 26:2 NASB95
2 Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.
Psalm 139:23–24 NASB95
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
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