The Mountain: One Rule, One Path

Jesus began to summarize God’s message, emphasizing that God requires us to make a choice, God requires our response (72):

Do for other people what you would like them to do for you.  (Think about it.  Perhaps God can use our selfishness for His glory!)

golden rule

This is the central meaning of the law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets.

Heaven can only be entered by this narrow gate.

thenarrowpath

The gate to hell is wide open, and the path to hell is easy, and many people take that path.

But the gate to heaven is narrow, and the path to heaven is hard, and very few people take that path.

Do for other people what you would like them to do for you.

God, please help me to love living on this narrow path with Jesus.

(72) Matthew 7:12-14

The Mountain: Gifts From God

Next Jesus emphasized the importance of being willing to receive gifts from God, in every situation (71):

Ask, and God will make sure you receive what you need.

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Seek, and God will make sure you find what you need.

Knock, and God will make sure the door is opened to what you need.

Everyone who asks will receive, everyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to everyone who knocks.

seeking god

Would any of you fathers give your son a stone, when he asks for bread? Or would you give him a snake, when he asks for a fish?

As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children.

father children

So, since God is perfectly good, surely we can trust him to give us good things whenever we ask.

God, please help me to love receiving every gift You give.

(71) Matthew 7:7-11

The Mountain: Judgment & Discernment

Jesus distinguished judgment from discernment (70): Don’t judge other people. God will judge you the same way you judge other people.

So don’t criticize a splinter in your friend’s eye, when you’ve got a log in your own eye! That’s hypocritical (meaning two-faced, or using a double standard).

Judge 1

Instead, take the log out of your eye (ie, judge yourself according to God’s standards). Then you’ll be able to help your friend deal with the splinter in his eye (ie, show your love for God by loving your friend).

Judge 2

Then Jesus changed the focus: Discernment is different than judgment.  Don’t give God’s holiness to dogs; they will only turn and attack you. Don’t throw God’s pearls in front of pigs; they will only trample them underfoot.

pigs-and-pearls

Learn to discern the enemies of God.

Holy Spirit, please help me to love trusting You for judgment & discernment.

(70) Matthew 7:1-6

The Mountain: Focus

Jesus continued talking about how God provides, even as he guides (69):

Don’t worry about the food & drink you need in order to stay alive, or about the clothes you need for your body. You were given life for more than eating food, and you were given a body for more than wearing clothes.

Birds are a great illustration of how God provides for our needs. Birds don’t plant seeds, and they don’t gather a harvest & put it in barns.

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But God takes care of the birds, and you are more important to God than birds. You are important to God!  Besides, you can’t add anything to your life by worrying.

Wild flowers are another great illustration of how God provides for our needs. Wild flowers just grow; that’s all they do. Wild flowers don’t work or make clothes for themselves. But even the great King Solomon, with all his wealth, was not clothed as beautifully as these flowers.

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God clothes these wild flowers with beauty, even though they are here today and gone tomorrow.  And you are more important to God than any wild flowers.  You are important to God!

Have more faith in God! Don’t worry about your food & drink & clothes, like the pagans do. God knows you need all these things.

Just focus on serving God as your king & doing what he requires of you.

micah

God will provide you with all the things you truly need.

Don’t worry about tomorrow, either.  Try to stay focused on today.

God, please help me to love just serving You.

(69) Matthew 6:25-34

The Mountain: Wealth

Then Jesus said a few things about wealth (68):

Don’t focus on building up your worldly wealth, because it won’t last.

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Instead, focus on building up your heavenly wealth, because it will last forever.

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Wherever you’re storing up wealth is where your heart will stay focused.

And whatever you see with the eyes of your heart is ultimately what you’ll be.

eyes-on-god

If you keep your eyes on God, you’ll be filled with his light and you’ll become more godly. But if you don’t keep your eyes on God, you’ll be in the dark, no matter how much money you have.

Don’t try to serve God & money at the same time; it cannot be done.

God, please help me to love looking up from my darkness to Your light.

(68) Matthew 6:19-24

The Mountain: Good Fasting

Finally, Jesus warned against fasting with strings attached — in contrast to good fasting (66):

And when you fast, don’t make a big show of that, either.  Because hypocrites want people to praise them when they fast, that’s all the praise they’ll get, and that praise won’t last long.

fake fast

Instead, when you fast (67), don’t let other people know it.

Fasting

And God, who sees what you do privately, will both praise & reward you, and that praise will last forever.

Righteous God, please help me to love being rewarded by You alone.

(66) Matthew 6:16-18

(67) In the days of Jesus’ life & ministry upon the earth, fasting seems to have been more common than in our day. In depriving themselves of things like food & drink for a time, and devoting themselves to the service of others, people found it much easier to focus on God.  Fasting still works this way today.  But fasting is rarely practiced in modern cultures — even though there is so much more of which we might deprive ourselves for a time, and so many more human needs we might serve.

The Mountain: Good Praying

Jesus next warned against praying with strings attached — in contrast to good praying (65):

When you pray, don’t make a big show of that, either. Because hypocrites want people to praise them when they pray, that’s all the praise they’ll get, and that praise won’t last long.

Instead, when you pray, you should normally do it privately.  And God, who sees what you do privately, will both praise & reward you, and that praise will last forever.

Private Prayer

When you do pray with other believers, don’t use a lot of meaningless words.  That’s what pagans do; they think that their fake gods will hear them because their prayers are so long!

But God already knows what you need before you ask him.  So try keeping it simple & praying together like this:

Praying Together

God, our father in heaven, we want to honor your holy name with our lives; we want you to be our king; we want your will to be done in our lives!

Please, give us today whatever we truly need for today.

Please, help us forgive the wrong things that other people have done to us. Please, forgive the wrong things that we have done to you.

Please, don’t put our faith to the test. Please, keep us safe from your enemies.

Jesus concluded by emphasizing that we must forgive to be forgiven:

If you forgive other people the wrong things they have done to you, God will also forgive you.

forgive

But, if you don’t forgive other people, then God won’t forgive you.

Forgiving God, please help me to love forgiving others as You have forgiven me.

(65) Matthew 6:5-15