“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
We begin with the idea, with the reality, that we have a big God. God is not a philosophy or a ‘good feeling’, but a person who is The King and has a kingdom. Just as we walk under the sky, we walk under the majesty of The Big God.
The Old Testament has a number of names for God that mean particular things about God, like God Almighty or Yahweh, which means ‘The Lord’. God is big, great, powerful, loving, merciful, all-wise, righteous, and true. God is big, yet we have the gift in Christ, of knowing God as father.
The big God is my father and he cares for and takes care of his children. Big God also means that I do not have to save myself, support myself, or be self-sufficient. God is my source.
This is not like welfare, social security, or unemployment insurance. It is like having a father with infinite resources, who does not pay us not to work, but gives us meaningful work to do, in his kingdom. It is like having a father that mentors or trains you to live out a productive life.
The big God, our father, wants to touch every aspect of our lives. The walk of life is to walk with God and then enter into each of our relationships, having been transformed by God. I walk with God, and then I walk with the other or others, while continuing to walk with God.
If the other or others are also children of God, then we all do this, together, in synergy.
When I live in the reality of the big God, who is my father, I can say things like:
- “I have no idea”
- “I do not know”
- “That is not my problem”
I can say these, because I have a measure of humility and I know the big God, my father, who I believe does have an idea or solution, or wisdom on a topic. When I walk with and intentionally lean on and into my relationship with Father, I share His heart of compassion and mercy, but can honestly say, “that is not my problem”.
The trap or pit-fall for the one who receives God’s heart or insight about a person’s problem or a problem that a group of people have, is bitterness or anger from impatience, that the person or people are not doing the right thing. We must resist judgement, bitterness, and anger; leaning back into God’s heart, to receive his forbearance and love that suffers long.
The Jesus way of walking in this life, with other people, is to meet them where they are at. He, and I in him, listen to people, before we talk to them, unless we are doing a pre-arranged teaching session or are spontaneously preaching. We, in him, come along side, being with people.
When we meet with another person, we share life with them. We interface with them, in the space between the two of us, or the three of us, if it is a trio. This is the beginning or building block of community.
Many of us, in Christ, want to be ministers. We want to minister to people. Ministry usually means, help, heal, or fix.
Everyone has problems. But not everyone is ready to have their problem solved or fixed. God actually is slower to fix people than we are, sometimes, believe it or not.
For example, when Jesus met Peter or Judas, he did not “fix” them, but walked with both of them, taught both of them, and mentored both of them; or at least offered it. Peter went through a specific time of brokenness and failure that Jesus saw and interceded for him in it and Peter got through it and grew from it.
What if the main thing of ministry, Jesus style, is to be present with people and offer loving support? Whatever your spiritual gifts are, in Jesus, you ‘stand by’, before speaking or moving with that gift. You wait for the ‘move of God’, from the Spirit, and you first move with your spirit, before you move with your body.
When you come to or meet with others, you come from somewhere. If you come from meeting with your self, you bring your self (selfishness) when you go to meet with others. If you have been meeting with God, you bring God into your meetings with others.
Meeting with God, each day, as much as possible; then bringing our ‘having met with God’ persons into every other meeting, is our New Covenant inheritance and the Jesus life-style that we are all called to. When we live each day, not this way, we are living below our inheritance and birthright.
When I live with and under, who I am referring to as, The Big God, I know He cares and He watches over me. This is good news. And we begin to know that our Father knows what we need, even before we ask him.
That is the verse I am highlighting today. But the other 17 verses give the context of the Christian’s life-style. Each of these verses could be a message in and of itself.
We have Jesus teaching his disciples about their relationship with the Father. We all have prayer requests. But when we live in the reality of the Father, like a child, we say, “papa”. Every need is mediated by “papa”.
When you begin to live, knowing the Father and being known; your prayer life is like that of a child of a good father, who inherently trusts the goodness of dad. A child of a good dad does not worry or fret too much, and they are well cared for, because their papa is on the job, making sure they get what they need.
And that child’s relationship is not need centered, but love centered.
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