This Devotional series which is part of the Clayton Church Value-Based Discipleship series, which was launched on Sunday 23 July 2017.
Passage: Matthew 6:1-18
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 in heaven.
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 by your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we also forgive those that trespass us. 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. Bur 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.
The following phrase(s) or verses stand out to me in terms of the theme of disciple-marking:
- The Lord’s Prayer
- Verse 14 – talking about the need to forgive others in order to receive God’s forgiveness
- The general principle of doing things not for show, like the hypocrites, but in secret
- “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”
Retelling the story for someone else (you – my audience):
Jesus again teaches about the importance of having the right attitude. What counts is the heart and mindset, from which our actions of prayer and giving are simply outward expressions. When we give, give with a cheerful heart, and without selfish ambition where others see your exhibition. Instead, giving and prayer should be done with the right attitude at heart – selfless and focused wholly on God’s glory. Then God the Father, who sees through any charade and outward falsehood, will reward us with His grace and blessing.
The following is the continuous flow of what I wrote separately here:
To the Most Holy One, Lord of all Creation. I believe You are a triune God revealed to us in 3 persons: Father, Son & Holy Spirit. You are Lord of Lords and Your presence dwells in heaven.
Help us Lord to proclaim daily the Kingdom of God here on earth. Living and following You, filled with Your Spirit in loving one another. Help us to keep our eyes on You, having the eternal written on our hearts.
Thank You Father for being our Provider, Jehovah Jireh. For providing us with homes, food and the means to live in this world.
You teach us of the power and importance of forgiveness, since it is a core matter of the heart. Help us to forgive each other so that our hearts remain open to receiving Your heavenly forgiveness. Help us write more in the sand so that it can be washed away unlike those things written in stone.
Just as Jesus faced temptation, help us face it with Your Word and conviction. Help us to resist the devil so that he may flee at the sound of Your Name. Help us grow close to You, recognize Your voice, Will and purpose for our lives.
The importance of forgiveness is reiterated because it is a clear heart condition which, if not addressed properly, will block God’s blessings and God’s ability to forgive.
The same principles for prayer and giving also apply to fasting, where we are to do so discreetly.
What I Discovered
The following revelations are discerned from the passage:
- An theme theme carries across all three days of devotion thus far, where Jesus’ focus and teaching is about our hearts.
- Prayer, fasting, giving – all three expressions of worship are to be carried out and approached from a contrite heart, where God is the focus, not anything or anyone else.
- God knows all, especially our hearts’ desires and deepest thoughts – our motivation when we worship God has to be kept sacred and sanctified.
Obedience Step “I Will”
My response to this passage takes the form of the following “I will” statements.
- I will be mindful of my thoughts and heart condition – this is a repetition of the Day #2 I Will statement
- I will ensure that times of worship (prayer, giving and fasting) are uninterrupted periods of time during the day.
Today’s devotion is summarised in the featured graphic, which has also been added to my Threadless Artist Shop under the collection Discipleship Devotionals. This is an exciting development whereby the graphics generated to summarise my daily devotions has both a textual and graphical output, and is part of my latest campaign to help develop my XBOP brand and online presence.