The Word became flesh and dwelt among us….


September 2014

How Not To Worry – Matthew 6:25-34

You arrive at work early in the morning. You are worried about the man that followed you and whether he will ask you for money or stab and kill you then make you open the safe. During the day you realize your wife hasn’t sent you a message like she usually would, so you worry that she may have slept through her alarm, or crashed on her way to work and forgot to call. You get through your work day and worry that you will make it to the appointment you have to get to on time, and that they will charge you a cancellation fee.You get home and greet your wife with tales of your woeful day. You sit down to eat and worry that your wife may not have made dessert tonight. You watch the evening news and you worry.You go to bed and worry about whether or not you have forgotten to do anything. You check that your alarm is set at least four times, and put your back up alarm on, just in case. You keep yourself awake worrying that tomorrow might be exactly the same.
If what you daydream about reveals what your heart worships, then what you worry about may reveal what you trust in to get by in day to day life.
We have ‘little faith’ in God when it comes to little things it seems. We trust Him for big things like upholding the universe and our salvation….but everything else is up to us. That might not be what we believe, but it’s certainly not how we act.
‘ No Grand Inquisitor has in readiness such terrible tortures as anxiety’ – Kierkegaard
1. Don’t Worry…
“Therefore…” ( v.25, 31,34)
It seems straight forward in it’s context. You can’t serve God and money, if you can’t make your stuff into an idol and keep your eye on heavenly things at the same time, if you do, you will spend your life debilitated by worry about EVERYTHING….
why we should not worry:
– life is more than food and the body more than clothing
We so often claim to have nothing to eat, or nothing to wear…where what we really mean is we have nothing we want to eat or nothing with the right brand name to wear.

Our appetites control our behavior, so who do people know you as when you are hungry? Are you irritable? Angry? Sad?
Why does your happiness depend on your satisfaction?!
In our society, we can hardly claim to be starving. Skipping meals usually points to busyness rather than necessity.
What about our clothing? We seem more worried about whether people think we are fashionable that we don’t even care about what is functional. We want brand names, certain items, and a certain look. We worry that we may not fit in, or we worry that we will. We are overly concerned with how other people will see us.
– you are more valuable than the birds
The first thing in nature we are told to consider are the birds. They always seem busy, but they never seem worried. They are always working, but never anxious about their long term prospects. They aren’t watching the worm- exchange or the seed fund. They don’t hoard, and they don’t worry about what other birds are eating and whether their diet makes them look fat in their plume and feathers.
The lesson is clear – if God cares for the birds in nature in such ways, then why would He not care for us in the same things? We are of so much more value that any creature, we are the only creatures made in God’s image, this makes us incredibly blessed…we have a Heavenly Father!
We should never believe the lie that God doesn’t care for nature, but we should also never place nature above Him, or even above His care for us. We are His children.
– God is Sovereign over your life
The next law of nature is law of life and death. No one can add height to their
stature, and no one can add a year to their lives.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat healthy and exercise, but on the contrary, we steward we have been given, don’t take anything for granted, and we certainly don’t try to manipulate nature in order so we can have more glory in life, whether by social status or physical achievement. You are who God has made you to be, and all you are called to do is walk in His Will.
- God will clothe us
The last example of nature is the flowers.
Unless you have hayfever, flowers are wonderful and beautiful things.
When we worry about what we are going to wear, we should think of how the lilies don’t fuss about how they look, never worry about whether their petals will keep them from looking weird, or if their pollen is faulty.They don’t stress about how they will make themselves. They are flowers. They are created in such a way that they have a glory that can only belong to them. All the riches in the world can’t buy the beauty that a simple lilly possesses ( which not a valid excuse for a man not to buy his wife flowers btw!) But even though they have such great exquisite beauty, they rarely last long, and if a flower can be beautiful one day and dead the next, for no other purpose than to simply be beautiful, why would even bother about whether or not we will be clothed? If these things of such beauty are created by the God Who also made us eternal souls with bodies, why would we worry about whether we will have clothes to wear, let alone how we look in them?
2. Worry = Unbelief
What does it look like when we do worry? When we are obsessed with what we are going to eat, drink or wear?
Jesus says that it is these things that the unbelieving pagan Gentiles worry about.That hurts! But how else could we possibly say it? Worrying, at it’s root, is a lack of faith, and when we worry about whether we will have anything to eat, drink or wear we have forgotten we have a Heavenly Father who knows what we need and longs for us to ask Him for our daily bread.
Pagans treat God like a genie ( v 7-8), and they also worry constantly about their material needs, and even more, their material wants. We are called to much more than that. We are called to be distinctive in how we live in this world, and what better distinctive quality would there be on a day to day level that living lives of trust and not getting attached to ‘stuff’ in this world?
We have little faith, small faith. Although that sounds like another rebuke, it can also be a source of challenge – faith can grow. Jesus is asking His followers to let their ‘little faith’ grow up into a deeper dependence.

3. Seek First The Kingdom & His Righteousness
When we see the context of this message on worry is related to danger of loving our stuff too much, and the bigger picture the danger of self- righteousness, we can put worry in both categories.
Worry is obsessing over what you have and don’t have.
Worry is also an act of self-righteousness, in saying you think you can do a better job than God. ( which you are under-qualified for…!)
Worry is not believing God will get it right, and bitterness is believing God got it wrong – Keller
How do we get rid of this?
The answer that Jesus gives us is Himself. To seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, not our own.
Just as earthly possessions can become an idol which deposes God by becoming disproportionately important, so also can earthly needs become a source of worry which deposes God by fostering distrust..our physical needs, however legitimate they may be, must never supplant our prior commitment to the kingdom of God and His righteousness – Carson
There is nothing better than that, and because there is nothing better than having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, when we have that as our sole source of fulfillment in life, we soon realize, everything else has been included in the deal. ( v 33b).
We have our daily bread, drink and clothing because we are children of a Father Who loves us, and is pleased to give us good things.
We don’t seek God’s Kingdom and righteousness to get the things, we seek Him and get everything else along with it.
“If you read history you will find that Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought the most of the next… It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become ineffective in this. Aim at heaven, and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth, you will get neither” – CS Lewis

When we focus too much on the here and now, we soon lose sight of eternal things. We worry about today, and tomorrow, because we want control or we want comfort, and we want desire these more than we desire the will of the Sovereign Father Who knows what we need.
What do you turn to for comfort? ( what makes you happy…..?)Maybe some of the things you turn to are distracting you from the Comforter?Maybe you are too comfortable?
What about trying to control your worries? How’s that working out for you?
Thinking you can control you worries or your comforts is not only delusional, but also becomes much more selfish, as you not only try to control your own situation, but you try to control your environment as well, and you started judging others on whether or not they are contributing to your quality of life.
What today might be an irritation at what someone else has done to disrupt your own private world, tomorrow becomes warfare as you seek vindication for perceived injustice, and we point out specks of shortcomings while having a beams of disbelief in our own eye.
Anxiety = doubt / cynicism ” has God said?” Anxiety = rebellious independence
Anxiety = relativism, it’s true but is it true for me?
We over-analyse what we don’t & can’t know, instead of meditating on what we can & should know…
-Turn your worries into prayers.
Cast you cares upon Him, because He cares for you. ( 1 Peter 5:7). Prayer at it’s heart is God-focussed and self-forgetful. Be humble, you are needy, ask for what you need.
– Become like a child.
You have a Heavenly Father – ask Him for what you need. Adults try to figure out the cause and logic of things, children just ask. Ask with simple faith, even if it’s “HELP!”.
– focus on today, that’ll give you enough to ask for… – Look to Christ.

worried about food? He’s the Bread of Life. drink? He’s the Living Water
clothing? He’s clothed you in His righteousness life? He’s given His so you could new life

We might look at the Cross and rightly call it the greatest injustice of all time, and we would be right. We may well say that if a perfect man is dead, then our worries about this life would be left for us to worry about…But the Cross doesn’t end in defeat. The only defeat of the Cross is the defeat of sin, and even better is that it doesn’t end in death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us hope of life – that this life with all it’s worries and trials is borne by Christ’s sinless death in our place, and that His rising again justifies us before God, and assures of eternal life. If Christ remained dead, then we should be miserable and worried about our worries. If He is risen, and He is, then what does that do for our worries? Not only do we not have to worry about today to tomorrow, we can look to eternity and see we have a sure and certain hope.


Young. Deformed & Restless: Letters from a church misfit. Chapter 1 – “Tagless”

I am weary.

It’s not age, I’ve only just turned 30.

It’s not just that I long for another world that’s free of sin and suffering. My hope of what to come is certain, and the blessings of God that I have now are far beyond what I deserve.

I love my life. I love my wife. I love my family and friends.I love my ministry to others in the church, and where I can, though I don’t often enough, to those outside the family of faith also.

I am blessed,and I am grateful for all that God, in His great grace, has granted to me.

But I am weary all the same.

The main reason I’m weary is that it seems we are fighting battles that are simply not meant to be fought as believers.

The battles about distinctive issues, standards, doctrines and definitives of certain denominational expressions are struggles that divide and are a cause of obsession in most churches.

I’m young, but I already feel too old to waste my time on another discussion about which translation we should read, whether Calvinism or Arminianism is ultimately, absolutely correct, about end times prophecies, about what we should sing in church, and what instruments to use when we do so, and on and on…

Some of these things are great things to talk about, and I’m not in anyway advocating a free-for-all on anything. But there should come a time when we move on from the temporary, elemental things. It’s exhausting and all consuming otherwise.

Purity in our expression of faith is vital. But that pure and undefiled religion will not come unless we put others before ourselves. ( James 1:27).

If I am to be exhausted, I’d want it to be for the right reasons, and when most your time in speaking of spiritual things is taken up in vain conversations about misplaced agendas, misinformed preconceptions, and quarrels about words (1 Timothy 6:4), you soon realize how the devil must be incredibly pleased with himself about how he has managed to make differences with other believers the sole focus of so many professing Christians. Someone told me some time ago, and it has stuck in my mind since, “We too often forget that it is the devil’s job to be the accuser of the brethren”.

I sometimes think that denominations ( demon-nations) were his invention to begin with. ….But that isn’t really true, and I must confess that have my fair share of pointless points about earthly opinions. I have also argued for my own glory rather than God’s, and that has been, and will be wrong of me, when I’m sure I will do it the future.

Arguing about church history and doctrines that we can trace back to certain men might be a valuable exercise when we are establishing the roots of our traditions, and whether they are founded on eternal biblical truths or men’s opinions. We need valid biblical points of reference. But there comes a time when we simply must focus on what is in front of us.

We could spend the rest of our lives discussing the same things, arguing the same points, debating the same topics of differences, and why we are not like the other churches.

We could exhaust ourselves with conversations about things that seem important to us, but meanwhile, life goes on. The world keeps spinning, and all we may have done is score some points, and distracted ourselves from what we really should be studying out and carrying out.

Church history is fascinating, but it is history for a reason. It has happened. Some of what happened affects greatly what happens today, but while we reason about what has happened and why we adhere to what we do, in our various denominations, we have missed the fact that we are losing our chance to have an impact in our piece of history.

Too often I have been left wondering where exactly my generation will end up. What will our mark in church history be?

Is there room for discussion about what sort of shape we will leave the church in that we have been left by our parents and grandparents?

Will there be a local church in my community that the next generation will be attending?

What will it look like?

Will the churches that I know of now, and serve in now, still be here?

I don’t rightly know any answer to that. I do know that the church of Christ will endure and the gates of hell won’t prevail against it. What I am certain of is that all our energy seems to be spent on issues that will have absolutely no meaning at all in eternity.

There is a story told of a believer who died and went to heaven. He arrived at the pearly gates, and Peter took him on a tour. Being a baptist, he was thrilled to see his ‘clan’ so close to the throne of God.

Looking chuffed with himself, he said to Peter, “Who is that group beyond the baptists there?”

Peter responded, “ Oh, thats the Methodists.”

The baptist raised his eyebrows, then said, “ And the ones beyond them?”

“That’d be the Pentecostals”

The baptist laughed out loud. “What about those ones far far out there, just on the horizon?”

Peter smiled knowingly, “That’s the Presbyterians and similar minded.”

The baptists slapped his knee gleefully, “Guess they just snuck in then, hey?”

“ No. They were just the only ones God could trust to let out of His sight.”

I’m not a Presbyterian, but you could interchange any of those accordingly, as I have when I have told that joke in various denominations.

My father has never been a fan of tags.
I heard him often say, “Not much point in having a tag. If you’re going up, it’ll fall off. If you’re going down it’ll burn off.”

Tags are a cause of weariness for me also.

We seem to be living in a time where we are being handed many traditions, standards, principles and doctrines, some of which we can see are helpful, but not all of which seem wise, timeless or relevant to us here and now, let alone from an eternal or biblical perspective. It has created a culture where preferences become convictions.

I am not just thinking here of conservative church circles or influences either.

Traditionalism extends beyond the ‘boundaries’ of the independent fundamentalist churches.

There are these same issues in many ‘mainstream’ denominations also.

I’m something of a church ‘misfit’.

I grew up non-denominational, as you could probably tell from the above quote.

I am blessed to have had such a strong Christian heritage, it’s something I’m extremely grateful for.

My dad’s family were Methodists, Mum’s were Church of Christ.

The church I grew up in was independent, non-denominational, and fundamentally conservative in it’s ministry expression.

As I got older, and gained personal independence and identity as I made my faith in Christ a personal one, I did some study, made friends through various connections, and it soon became apparent that people outside my church life experience were very concerned with alignments, associations, affiliations, denominations.

I studied through an evangelical Anglican college, under a Presbyterian minister.

This lead to me getting some connections within the Presbyterian church within my local city, and I started several years of filling pulpits for various ministers when they were on leave, or doing pulpit supply in churches without a minister.

While doing this, I stayed as a member, then Secretary/Treasurer of the non-denominational church I grew up in, and I also took chapel services in Church of Christ nursing homes, helping the head chaplain ( who was a Baptist Union minister). I also spoke at bible studies with a group in the city that ran a rehab center, and they were Charismatically inclined.

I started working for a Christian business, and made friends and connections again with many various believers from many different denominations.

I then married my wife, and moved to the suburbs, and started attending the church she had been attending, which was an Independent Baptist church, which is where will still are and I am now happily fellowshipping in and serving in.

Maybe that history of my church affiliations is a little confusing, or maybe you think that my whole point here is that all churches are the same and I’m calling for more ecumenicalism. That’s definitely not my point.

What I’m trying to get to is the identity that we are assumed to take on whenever we enter ANY denomination, and how I was naive to the importance of this identity to each individual church group coming out of my ‘tagless’ past.

Talking with Presbyterian ( or Calvinist) believers, I was naive. When they asked me if I was “reformed”. I would furrow my brow and just assume that they were asking if I was protestant and agreed with Luther’s reformational statement of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, and I’d say yes, knowing I am certainly not a Catholic. Little did I know!

Speaking with dear old saints in the Church of Christ nursing home, some would refer to me as “Father”, thinking I was a priest. Others would pull me aside after a service, and ask which church I was in, and if I said I attended a baptist church, they’d then say, “ Yes, you don’t sound very Church of Christ” . What that meant, I still have no idea.

I have been in trouble on all sides of the fence, while being accused of sitting on it.

If I’m speaking in a ‘non-calvinist’ church, I am told I am Calvinist because of my high view of God’s Sovereignty, but this comes from more of a culture that has created such an air of finality about some things that assumptions are based on the loosest of affiliations, with many and various ‘slippery slope’ arguments, but I am not a Calvinist.

If I’m speaking in a ‘calvinist’ church, I am told I must be an Arminian because I don’t have a high enough view of God’s Sovereignty. I certainly haven’t picked any tulips recently, but I’m not an Arminian.

If I am engaging in discussion with a Pentecostal, they say I’m too much of a fundamentalist.

If it’s a conservatively expressive believer, they say I am far too liberal.

It can leave one very confused.

Where do I fit in? Do I have to fit in order to serve God and others? Why are we so obsessed with aligning ourselves with dead men who would roll in their graves in they knew how much we esteem or defame their names?

This world is no place for the weary kind when there is so many things that drain us to despair like these arguments can.

I’m ready to leave vain conversations about foolish controversies that cause quarrels. ( 2 Timothy 2:22-26).

The time for talking out things may never be past in some contexts, but for now, in my generation of thirty and twenty somethings, it is time to settle our minds, stop thinking about what we can think about and think about doing something.

We can study forever and never come to an understanding of the truth if we are only ever studying for our own benefit and glory.

It’s time to rest in our identity in Christ and leave the cerebral battles of defining doctrines of men behind for the cause and glory of the Gospel of Christ and worship of the One True God. Mainly so we can train the next generation coming up after us not to make the same mistakes we have.

If we stay disillusioned with what the church has offered, or where we should fit in, we will end up not just dissatisfied with in our fellowship with other believers, but with the Gospel and God.

There are many young people leaving the church, but I’m not convinced the true church is really to blame. The body of Christ will never die based on the whims and fancies of disillusioned generation. The faith of may will grow cold, but only because we gave place in hearts to something other than Christ to begin with.

The current generation of non-church attending Christians may be a statement against some practices of the church that are unhelpful, evil even. But what are we offering in response, if we are truly that offended for the cause of Christ? Or we just offended for offense’s sake?

What legacy we will leave is a pertinent question, since we seem to struggle so much with the legacy we have been left.

If we have ended up disillusioned, dispassionate, and restless about it all, what next?

Where will the next generation go if we have lead them nowhere?

I believe, if we are truly disappointed with the direction of the church, then the fact we may well leave those who come after us completely directionless is much worse endictment on us than on any perceived or real offenses we have about previous generation’s influence on us.

We can content ourselves with bemoaning the errors our various churches have made, and we should keep ourselves informed of errors, but we may be reaching a stage where criticism has become less about moving forward, and all about dragging up the past, while being stagnant in the present. The church only needs so many critics. We need to move on to a more noble challenge of trying to leave a legacy of learning and study of Scripture that shows people how to think, not what to think.

Scripture will not change, it will be with us forever. We need to get back to looking at correctly, and living in it, instead of searching it for arguments we can use against fellow believers.

This battle of disillusionment and exclusivity should stop with us, here, in this generation. Every generation has it’s own struggles, why would we pass on our’s to the next?

No more blaming previous generations for distracting us, we’ve driven ourselves to distraction by doing so.

No more blaming churches for our identity confusion. We’ve argued ourselves into confusion.

We don’t need anymore apologists for traditionalism any more than we need any more apologists for doctrinal differences. If we haven’t figured out where we all stand by now, either we are blissfully blessed by not ever letting it get into our minds at all, or we never will figure it out, and we’d much rather argue our way into heaven, while the world goes to hell.

We need apologists for the reasonable and shameless hope that lies within us. We need apologists for Christ, not for denominations.

The church only needs so many full time theologians. We need practical application of the Gospel in our everyday lives so we can be disciples who are making disciples.

It’s time to get rid of obsession with ‘getting to the bottom’ of our restlessness.

Restlessness is supposed to stop when are at rest in God.

The young, reformed, and restless movement has done great things. It has inspired many to deeper faith and thinking, and some great practical applications too in missions and church growth.

But they there is danger in being obsessed with being reformed, being consumed by being so restless, as you’ll soon get weary of being young.

We can, absolutely, be restless as we seek to the Will of God here on earth.

While we are young, we should strive to be obedient in the practice of faith we have been called to.

But I’m not so convinced we all need to be reformed to do so.

Neither am I convinced that we have to not be reformed.

I am convinced though that there is a need for action, and the greatest act for our generation would be for us to entrust ourselves to God, our Faithful Creator, and do good.

Faith in Christ, repentance towards God, and to be in His Word, lead by His Spirit.

We need more movements like the young, restless, and reformed. But we must move our ‘movements’ past the intellectual and the exclusive.

If I am not alone in my thinking, maybe there are many, many others out there who are in this generation and are tired of being ‘pigeon holed’, labelled, and ‘denominationalized’, or ‘demonized’ for not fitting in.

I’m aware of the argument that being non-denominational can become denominational in itself. That’s fine. Have a label for everyone if you must. But I’m not sure I’d like anything else but the name of Christ.

Would you die for the name of Calvin? King James? Ariminus? Wesley? Spurgeon? Tozer? Murray? Sproul?MacArthur? Olsen? McKnight? Wright? Johnson?Keller? Piper? Paul? Peter? Apollos? Barnabas? ( 1 Corinthians 1:10-17).

I’d die for Jesus, those guys will have seek their martyrs elsewhere.

Call me a “Christ-one”, but please don’t make me kneel at the altar of a doctrine of man and tell me it’s a commandment of God and that I will find my identity there. To do so would be to empty the power of the Cross ( 1 Corinthians 1:17).

There are enough creeds, confessions, statements of faith.

There are enough denominations.

There is not enough churches.

There is not enough followers of Jesus, otherwise we would not be called to make more.

Maybe all this talk of getting rid of tags is too strong, that’s fine if you think so, you are free to. The great part about unity in Christ is the diversity that naturally comes when so many bodies make up THE body of Christ.

I am all for diversity of ministry expressions and we need different denominations.

What we don’t need is to fight about unprofitable and worthless things ( Titus 3:9).

Tag me if you must. If it helps you sleep at night, but let me have a say in what tag that would be at least.

Maybe I’d like to pick a new tag if “tagless”, or “non-denominational” are too generic or out of date. If “synergism” or “monergism” are too abstract and contradictory. But I’m not sure there is a specific corner that can be, or even should be marked denominationally for me. Someone who believes in God Sovereignty and men’s free will at the same time. A non-confromist fundamentalist. A pre-millienial, post-tribber. Someone who accepts the Word of God as the Word of God, no matter what translation may be in use ( though I have my preferences). A not entirely cecessationlist ( however that is spelt), creationist.

Even all these, however, die the death of a thousand qualifications before we even get around to speaking of what is we’re talking about…

There seems to be this ironical thing we have with calling something ‘old’ ‘new’ through history.Old things are always new in some ways. There is nothing new under the sun.But it seems adding ‘new’ to something makes us feel more comfortable.

New Calvinists. New Atheists. There is a New Conservative movement within politics, so that one’s taken.

Maybe we could go with the “New Fundamentalists”.
I can see the tagline ( pun intended) now, “ The New Fundamentalists: putting the ‘fun’ back into fun-da-mental” !

I have nothing against the term ‘fundamentalist’. We just need to lose the obsession with secondary things that cause division, and actually get back to the real fundamentals of the Gospel of Christ.

Maybe we should go with the New Methodists, but we border on exclusivity again there.

Maybe there are others like me. Somewhat young, somewhat restless and weary, and not really reformed, or not quite.

The young, restless, deformed.

Who is with me?

All foolish talk aside, we must stop making much of men.

We must make much of Christ. To live and speak in such a way that those who hear and see will know nothing but Christ, and Him crucified.

“Treasures of The Heart / When We Love ‘our’ Stuff too much” – Matthew 6:19-24

Is there a specific place that you like to go to window shop?
A dress shop? Shoe shop? A car yard? A book shop?
You know all too well about that fantasy piece of clothing, car, or book set that you would buy if you just had that spare few hundred ( or thousand!). The property you would like to have…or that relationship.
We all have our own idea of treasure. We all have different treasures in mind, but even though the objects of our affections may be different, we are all doing the same thing when we dream about or work towards our treasures, we are all being short-sighted and materialistic.
Jesus had a lot to say about everyday living, things like sex and money were clearly big issues back in His day just as much as they are today.
Our short-sightedness on these issues needs challenging, because we so easily fall into the temptations and traps of both.
There are three ways Jesus points out that materialism affects us, if we pursue it.
I. It corrupts our heart. v19-21
Paul Tripp:
1. Everybody pursues treasure.
2. The thing that you treasure will control your heart.
3. What controls your heart will control, rule, and shape your behavior.
Jesus doesn’t assume that there are any of His followers who are not treasure or reward orientated.
He assumes that every person who has ever lived is value orientated, and serves some form of treasure.
In this section, He was in NO way speaking against having possessions, but He was speaking against a preoccupation with them that would end up destroying us.
He wanted His followers to be good stewards with what He has entrusted them with, but He didn’t want them to love things, He wanted them to love God and pursue His glory.

God has given us good things, but when those good things become ultimate things, we have made idols of Gods blessings in this life.
A desire for God is the only appetite that won’t destroy you when you pursue it with your whole heart. It will complete you.
By telling us to avoid treasure that is bound to this earth, He’s not saying that nothing here is valuable, He made this world, and us, and there is beauty to be found here in what He has provided. There is joy. There can be blessing and feelings of fulfillment in what we see and experience as beings made in His image. But if we want above EVERYTHING else to HAVE that car, that house, that job, that holiday, that relationship, and in having THAT we think we will be satisfied, we will not only be disappointed, we will be devastated.
All those things are good things in themselves, but they have only the value we assign to them. Any of them can actually become evil to us, corrupted, if we assign them a greater value than God.
If we want that car, and in order to get it we re-mortgage the house, that’s a foolish thing, and that car as our treasure has corrupted us.
If we want that relationship, and we would seek to have at the expense of sound, Godly counsel, or at the expense of other relationships against God’s design, that too is short-sighted.
Whatever your treasure might be, Jesus is saying, “ Unless it’s founded in Heaven, it won’t last!”.
Unless you surrender your earthly treasure, it will control and corrupt your heart. It will rule you, and shape you.
What we value tugs at our minds and emotions; it consumes our time with planning, day-dreaming and effort to achieve…we think about about our treasures, we are drawn to them, we fret about them, we measure other things and people by our treasures – Carson
You may even find yourself changing in order to achieve your desired treasure, because what controls your heart will control your behavior.
Christ only gave us two categories of treasures – earthly, or heavenly.

Corruptible, steal-able, or permanent and securely incorruptible.
No moth balls needed for Heavenly treasure!
(Your heart needs protection from the temptation of storing up earthly treasure. Part of that protection is looking forward, knowing what awaits is far better than what we have here, but also that true blessing in this life comes when we assign value to what God values. This means putting Him first, and loving others more than ourselves.)
II.It darkens our mind. v22-23
The heart is not the only thing at risk when we place our affections on earthly things.Our mind can also be blinded,enslaved.
The fact that our hearts is quickly captured by what we inwardly desire is easily traced. But our heart and emotions all too quickly pull along our mind for the ride, and soon we rationalize and justify our actions and thoughts towards certain things, because our intellect has been blindsided by short- sightedness.
We tend to move towards the object we fix our eye on.
That’s why we hit that car or tree we are trying so desperately to miss. Or hit a catch straight to the only fielder we knew was there.
Our eyes are drawn, for good or bad, towards what our heart most desires, and that’s why Jesus moves from the analogy about our heart to looking at the eye, which is entrance to the soul, but to the mind also.
‘The eye is the lamp to the body…’ What do our eyes see and take in?
This life’s dim windows of the soul, distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and we are led to believe a lie, when we see with and not through the eye – William Blake
We now learn to listen with our eyes and think with our feelings…we are meant to see THROUGH the eye, with the conscience; when we start

seeing WITH the eye devoid of the conscience, all kinds of belief can invade your imagination. – Ravi
The more we feed ourselves on dark and temporal things, or things that bring us temporary pleasure, tickle our fancy, distract us from bigger issues, the more we will grow comfortable with it – how great is the darkness! To be full of darkness, is to be without revelation, and without purity. To be debased, depraved, deprived, desentized to Gods grace.
This is a warning from Christ – Who is The Light – don’t feed your body on darkness, it will lead to corruption , and self-destruction, just like laying up earthly treasure for eternal enjoyment – it’s pointless.
The other option then is to have a healthy eye. To have a good or ‘single’ eye. To be single in purpose, undivided loyal, or the opposite of selfishness – in which case a healthy eye is an eye that focusses again on what God desires, and on love and service to others – generosity with what we have, rather than selfish striving for more, at the expense of conscience.
(The good eye is the one fixed on God, unwavering in it’s gaze, constant in its fixation. – Carson)
III.It enslaves our will. v24
It we let the darkness in, if we let our selfish hearts have the say it won’t just be our hearts and minds that are enslaved, but our will becomes enslaved also.
You cannot have it both ways.
You got to serve somebody! ( Romans 6:15-23).
Jesus saying you can’t have two masters makes sense to us.
We wouldn’t want two bosses – sometimes one is more than enough!
When He says, you will hate one and love the other, He saying that one of the two will have your full attention, full allegiance and loyalty, and the other will always play second fiddle.

God isn’t there to play favorites with. He isn’t interested in being something you just add to your collection of possible sources of fulfillment.
Is there nothing else can bring you joy? There are a lot of ‘happy pagans’ going around that seem completely satisfied doing whatever they want!
But what of lasting joy? Moses is commended in the hall of faith as choosing to suffer rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
People pursue meaning in life, and pleasure seems to be the most likely fit.
Whatever you heart desires, that’s what you go after.
The problem with that is that our hearts are deceitful, our eyes have been blinded by the darkness we have entertained our minds on, and when we only live for pleasure, our wills are in bondage to whatever our fantasy is, and it’s a never ending cycle.
Why does it hurt to talk about what we treasure? Why is it so confronting?
Because we don’t like our idols being torn down. It hurts to be transformed. We get offended. We get put off when we’re told to put off…

But the other option is to be consumed by whatever we have set our hearts & minds on…
The pleasure that lies before, that seems within our grasp, is a lot easier to say yes to than self-denial & sacrifice.

But instead of despising the treasures that can steal our souls if we let them, we instead despise the cross of sacrifice, the garden of submission, and embrace what will give us pleasure for a season..

Thankfully, Christ set aside glory for the Cross, otherwise we would be doomed in our passions.
Christ’s passion shows us that our passions can be redeemed.

What are some of the ways we serve money?
Do we spend a little too easily?
Do we hoard our money, are we stingy with it?
Do we get envious of people who have more than us?
If you’re never able to live for anything bigger than your pocketbook, your stomach, and your career, then you’ll never be able to bless those around you, or truly be blessed yourself. – Keller
All these things are easy traps to fall into, but if we instead fix our heart on Jesus, turn our eyes to Him, and surrender our will to Him we will find that we might actually want to budget and steward what He has granted, that we would be generous with our stuff, and that we stop caring so much about what the Jones’ have, and focus on what is ours in Christ.

Also, very importantly, we must see all we have as being granted to us by God – it is His, not ours!
Do you own your possessions, or do they own you? What is there that you couldn’t possibly give up? Maybe thats the exact thing you need to surrender. Fast!
When your possessions own you, you have made this world, and the temporary things in it more important than the One who actually made the whole world. You’re esteeming creation over the Creator, and placing your wants over His design.
Is there anything you feel like you are missing out on in the life, do you think God is holding out on you? Do you worry about food, housing, clothing?
There should be nothing in this world we crave to complete us – 2 Peter 1:3,4. Christ is all we need, and grants us far more than we could ever imagine.
This life can sometimes seem like it isn’t much of a great gig – the work is menial, and the renumeration leaves a bit to be desired, but as believers we need to remember that the superannunation plan is to die for!

We need to avoid eternity amnesia! – Tripp

What’s That Funny Look On Your Faith? / Fast Like this….Matthew 6:16-18

How much do we desire after God?

In the Sermon on the Mount, we have seen how important the issue of the heart is, that our hearts would be transformed, our desires would be for God, and His name. But how often do we truly stop to consider Him, His ways, and His Will for us?

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk
or a snooze in the sunshine.
I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man
or pick beets with a migrant.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth.
I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

— Wilbur Rees

Giving to the needy is a thing we feel compelled to do. Praying is something that seems in our nature. Fasting, well, fasting seems irrelevant. When we hear “fast from food”, we automatically leave out the ‘from’….

Studying it out though soon leads to challenges in our lives, especially in the area of distractions, but also in regards to exposing where our hearts really are. How little of God we settle for at times, and how little we expect of either Himself, or even ourselves!

Fasting stops the coasting Christian, and gives direction to the confused, because it makes us focus on Him.

What is fasting?

Fasting is a deepening of our connection to God. Connection without distraction leads to a certainty of God’s intention or direction, despite our uncertainty of the means God may use to get us where He would have us be to see His purposes fulfilled and His name glorified.

“Abstaining from food for measured periods of time in order to heighten my hunger for the things of God” – James MacDonald

“The first end of fasting is to chastise the flesh that it might be tamed and bought into submission to the Spirit.” – puritan preacher

In Jewish culture, there were fasts in which everybody took part, national ones, usually in connection with important feasts in the calendar. The Day of Atonement was such a one, where the nation together looked to God, a longed to be reconciled to Him fully and have their sins forgiven.

Other occasions in the OT are numerous where Israel as a whole were called to a fast, and it was usually in relation to a time of mourning, repentance from terrible national sins, attacks of evil,death of royalty, or surrender to God. ( Joel 2:12; Jonah 3:5; Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 31:13; 7:6; Esther 4:16)

Individuals would also fast for various reasons, but it was always a moral and spiritual ritual and process of self-discipline as a sign of deep repentance and need of God’s forgiveness, an awareness of His will in a matter or over a request.

In the NT, we see fasting also, but from many different perspectives. The disciples were criticized for not fasting when others were, but Christ’s response was that they didn’t need to fast while He was with them, implying that we do need to when He’s not here. ( Matthew 9:14-17)

There is fasting also in Acts ( ch9,10,13) and Paul listed hunger and fasting as part of his commendation of his ministry to the church at Corinth ( 2 Cor 6:3-10).

What had begun as noble thing was turned into another opportunity to display self-righteousness, and Jesus confronts it here.

He assumes his followers will fast, and He gives them a DO NOT and a DO, both with consequences.

When you fast – DON’T:

If you think following Jesus requires you to look like you’re pulling a face…you’re doing it wrong.

The hypocrites were great actors, method actors. Whatever the role was, they adapted to it.If it was giving, they organize a trumpeter. If praying, got out a megaphone and a theological dictionary. If it was fasting, they got out the best sour grapes they could and sucked lemons, just so people knew they were miserable while they were being so ‘spiritual’.

Too often the church can look more like a stable full of long faces rather than an athletics track full of eager runners.

Thing is, there is nothing spiritual about putting on a show. If you are acting like something you’re not, your actually not just showing how bad your acting skills are, but your exposing how fake your heart is also.

“If we have to look miserable to be considered spiritual, then there is something wrong with our view of spirituality.” – Wiersbe

What turns us from people who honestly desire to please God and follow His commands, into people who put on a show?

What makes people ask that question of us – “What’s that funny look on your faith?”.

It’s pride that would make us disfigure ourselves to be noticed. It’s pride that would make us make ourselves unrecognizable in order to be recognized.

When we get to the stage of changing our physical appearance in order to get praise from men, we have placed our reputations far above the glory of God. We’ve sacrificed a relationship with God on the altar of our ego, instead of putting our ego on the altar so we can be servants of God’s glory. Is it time to ‘altar’ your ego?

“When reputation becomes more important than character, we have become hypocrites.” – Wiersbe

There are things we should be known for. We should be distinctive. We should stand out, but we should stand out for the RIGHT reasons, not self-righteous reasons.

Scripture tells us that men will know we are disciples of Christ when we love one another. Too often we far too busy loving ourselves and loving how we look and we have forgotten that our self-righteousness is repugnant to God, and certainly keeps the world we are trying to reach away as well.

Let God’s Word be our standard, not our own outward actions or appearance.

The reward for the hypocrite is again that they will get what they want, and that can last only for as long you can fake your way through faith.You may be able to fake your way through life, but you won’t be able to fake your way through eternity. Heaven will be very unappealing to those whose constant aim is to draw attention to themselves.

Hell is the place for the self-glorifying.

When you fast – DO:

If fasting the wrong way makes you like gloomy and miserable, then fasting the right way would make you look, well, normal.

Jesus says when you fast, act normally. There is no need to draw attention. No need for the sackcloth and ashes, in this context anyway. Wash you face, look presentable, use deodorant, anoint yourself with oil, do what you would usually do – the only difference being that you’re not eating.

People aren’t supposed to know when are doing a fast for your own personal, individual reasons.

Don’t act. Just be yourself, just more focussed, more fully dedicated, less distracted, looking to God for a change in your heart, for peace in your heart.

Men can’t see your heart, and as frustrating as that can be when there you are misinterpreted or misrepresented, it doesn’t matter. God knows the motive of your heart, and knows what you are truly desiring and who you are truly serving.

Why fast?

“ The only kind of fasting that is of any value is that which involves repentance of sin resulting in a transformed and charitable life.” – Boice

Fasting is not done on it’s own. Without pray, it’s only diet for physical benefit. Fasting and prayer go together.

We fast so we can pray more, and with more clarity.

How does God intend that we fast?

Isaiah 58: 6-9a points out what God would require in the fasting of His people, and it outlines all levels of our relationships:

to loose the bonds of wickedness in our lives
to share with others in their need
to bring enlightenment
to bring healing
to reveal God’s glory in our good works of righteousness
to call upon The Lord
to have your prayers answered with His presence

We have little hunger for God. We rarely hunger a thirst after Him ( Matthew 5:6). Instead, we indulge in whatever takes our fancy, whatever satisfies.

How do we break our enslavement to this self-satisfaction? By looking only to Jesus to fulfill all our needs. To look to the Father Who knows what we need before we ask, and asking Him for new desires. New appetites.

What should we fast from? What do we need to give up?

Well, what good thing do you have an appetite for that keeps you from honoring God with your life?

We don’t fast from sinful behaviors. We are to cut those off. Fasting is about going without something, mainly food, sometimes other items or comforts, so that we can focus on what we truly need.

Good things can distract us from God. We can become obsessed with comfortable things, and the thought of giving up anything makes us defensive, but when you have something in your life that needs addressing, and you need to focus intently on what God would have you do in that or with that, are you enslaved to your appetites or are you a child of God?

‘Don’t tell me to give up…………….that has nothing to do with my relationship with God! Don’t tell me what I can and can’t desire! Those things don’t have a hold on me anyway!’

If those desires that you are so defensive about have no power over you, why are do argue about whether you should give them up or not? Is your belly your god? ( Philippians 3:19) Don’t have your mind set on earthly things.

Do your desires, your appetites, control you, or do you, through the power of the Spirit, control them?

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have a little of God. Either you are willing to sacrifice some comfort to focus on Him, or you are too comfortable.

Ask God for food that no one else knows about. ( John 4:31-34).Be satisfied to do the Father’s Will…which Jesus certainly never did part way. He didn’t give 10 %. He gave His all for us, was obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

Seek His face. The reward is that you get the Rewarder, and when you have Him, you don’t just have your daily bread, you have the Bread of Life. You have eternal life.

What is better? One day in His courts, in His presence, or a thousand elsewhere, doing your own thing? ( Psalm 84:10)

Let the gnawing in your stomach be only a desire for more of God.

A desire for God is the only appetite that won’t destroy you when you pursue it with your whole heart. It will complete you. Let Him be the treasure of your heart.

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