Saturday, April 14, 2007

THE JESUS FACTOR-Study Notes #10

MATTHEW 6:19-33

I. The Photograph of Kingdom Righteousness (5:1-16)
a. 8 qualities that move to a different beat altogether
b. 2 roles—salt (being) and light (doing)

II. The Precepts of Kingdom Righteousness (5:17-48)
a. KR requires that your righteousness surpasses all
b. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fill it full

III. The Practices of Kingdom Righteousness

After an understanding that Kingdom Righteousness includes the principle of private focus—some things are only to the Lord alone, we now come to what Jesus says is the priority of Kingdom Righteousness—your stuff and how you handle it.

There are many nerves in the human body, but none so sensitive as the nerve that goes from the brain to the checkbook. We go to school to learn about how to make money and build up our treasures. We spend 40-60 hours per week earning it. Countless thoughts are spent on planning how to handle it best. We spend hours in shopping malls and online in order to spend it. We dream and scheme to find ways to acquire more of it. We argue over it. Despair over losing it has led to suicide and an array of self-destructive actions. Greed continues to be a leading factor in crime. And, the absence of money leads to despair and depression.

This is why money and wealth occupy most of Jesus’ teachings—2 out of 3 parables—and over 2000 verses in the Bible make reference to it. It’s on our minds more than most anything else.

There are also lots of wealthy characters in the Scriptures—Abraham, Isaac, Solomon, Sheba and Job. The women of who were followers of Jesus did much of the underwriting of Jesus’ ministry. Women like Phoebe served in leadership within local assemblies. And, one of the most celebrated of Jesus’ parables—the parable of the talents—demonstrates that the Lord loves the practice of investment what you have.

What is Jesus saying about money and wealth in Luke 16?
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Luke 16:10-13

I see Jesus making a strong statement regarding a spiritual connection between how you handle your money and how you handle your spiritual wealth. If you are trustworthy in handling worldly wealth—money, then you prove yourself trustworthy enough to be entrusted with God’s true riches—spiritual riches. Given this as a spiritual truth, then the discussion of money and wealth is most important.

There is a challenging statement that I have enjoyed over the years: An unexamined life is not worth living. Without personal examination it’s too easy to be overcome by one of the following:

1. Insecurity—too many followers of Jesus talk about standing on the rock of ages, but their actions speak about clinging to a piece of driftwood.

2. Inaction—too many followers of Jesus are into hot-tub mentality rather
than a weight room for action.

3. Incomplete—too many followers of Jesus make Jesus Lord in general while they are lord of the specifics.

4. Ineffective—followers of Jesus are everywhere, but are not what they should be where they are.

Which of these has been your greatest struggle?

IV. The Priority of Kingdom Righteousness

Jesus first contrasts two treasures and two masters:

19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
How would you define and/or describe the two treasures? And, how does each treasure translate into your personal life?

1. Treasures on earth…


2. Treasures in heaven…


Jesus continues...

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What you treasure leads the way to your heart. Your treasure is what you value most. And, what you value most becomes your passion. Eventually, this treasure becomes your god.

Then Jesus presents an interesting visual...

22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

What does Jesus mean here about the eye?

It seems to me that the eye is illustrating your life’s focus. It’s the lamp of the body. When it is focused on the right thing—Kingdom Righteousness, you are considered healthy. This healthy focus produces inner health to the body as well. When you are properly focused, you experience a physical and psychological fullness throughout your entire being. This special focus on Kingdom Righteousness is all about heavenly treasures.

On the contrary, when your eye is focused on earthly treasures away from Kingdom Righteousness, your entire physical and psychological being is filled with darkness.

24 "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Jesus continues His contrast between earthly and heavenly treasures. As He continues, Jesus makes it even more serious than the focus of your eye. Focusing on earthly treasures (away from Kingdom Righteousness) is actually becoming a servant of money and wealth as your god. Focusing on heavenly treasures (everything to do with Kingdom Righteousness) is actually becoming a servant of God.

What do you think Jesus means when He says, “You cannot serve both God and Money?”

This statement takes us back to the Ten Commandments where God says: “You shall not have other gods before Me.” There are three possible meanings to the phrase “before Me”:

1. INSTEAD OF ME—This is making anything a substitute for God. It’s like taking on a counterfeit.
2. IN ADDITION TO ME—This a smothering of God with all of your others gods. It’s a practice of convenience.
3. IN FRONT OF ME—This is more of a snubbing of God—right in His face. It’s like taking a 2nd wife while still married to the 1st—a covenant breaker.

Which of these is the greatest personal struggle for you?

You see, God wants to be your God...
1. ENTIRELY—No substitute allowed.
2. EXPLICITLY—No snubbing allowed.
3. EXCLUSIVELY—No smothering of Him with other gods.

Anything less, you not only risk something, you risk everything!

NEXT, Jesus gives some practical application of His teachings about two treasures and two masters. This is why He says THEREFORE...

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

What is your relationship with worry?

Jesus gives some great logic about the futility of worrying. NOTE how He outlines worry into two areas...

1. Don’t worry about your LIFE (Eating & Drinking)
a. Look at the birds...
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
b. Worry is useless...(going in circles—preoccupation)
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

2. Don’t worry about your BODY (clothing)
a. Observe the lilies...
28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
b. Worry is faithless…(thoughts controlled by something else)
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Since you can’t handle your life better than God can, then why not let Him. Replace your wasted effort of worrying earthly treasures with seeking His Kingdom Righteousness of heavenly treasures.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

In light of what Jesus is teaching what does this mean to you today?

The principle of primary focus means a single-mindedness
toward God which requires that you
stop your worry
& seek
His Kingdom Righteousness...
and, He’ll give you His full, undivided attention.

3 PRACTICAL STEPS for your consideration:
#1—Release your earthly treasures.

#2—Refocus on your heavenly treasures.
Only one life, twill soon be past;
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

What are you doing that will count forever?

#3— in God’s hands.
I hold on to these three truths in order to relax:
God is interested.

God is interested in me and mine.

God is more interested in me and mine than I am.