Wednesday 6 August

Malcolm_Wed

Malcolm Duncan returned to New Horizon as the speaker for the Evening Celebrations where he spoke on the Sermon on the Mount.  Here’s a taste of Wednesday evening’s message:

I once heard someone say, “I’m trusting God, touch wood, cross my fingers, praise the Lord…” Somehow, he had missed the point.

  • Matthew 5 teaches a change in our hearts and our attitudes through God’s grace.
  • Matthew 6 teaches about trust in our inner and outer devotion to God.

It is a very easy thing to talk about trust until it confronts you. Pastors and preachers can talk about trust. Yet in reality, trust can be difficult.

Exploring Matthew 6

Verses 1 – 18 talks about the three key elements of spiritual life: giving, prayer and fasting. Jesus is saying, you should be doing these things for God and God alone. Don’t do them so other people can see you. Do them so that your Father in Heaven can see you. This is all about a relationship with the Father – the inner devotional life.

Verses 19 to the end talk more about the outer life. Trust in God shapes our spirituality and our spiritual disciples. But trusting also evidences itself in the way we handle money, the words we use and what we do about our future.

The key verse in chapter 6 is, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and everything else will be given to you as well.”

Jesus – our hero

Jesus i wants his disciples to understand that when they have a relationship with the Father, then they cannot stand in the centre of their lives. They must exit the centre and allow God to take that place.

There is only ever one hero in the Christian story. And His name is Jesus. So often when we teach the Old Testament to children, so we call them to be “heroes” like David, Daniel and Moses. We should not teach our people that to be like David. Every story in the Old Testament ultimately points to Jesus. He is the hero!

In chapter six the inner transformation and the outer transformation fit together along the bookshelf of trust.

Devoted to Jesus

Too often we see prayer, giving and fasting as optional extras. We have change the words… “When you give….” Becomes “If you give..”

How is your prayer life? How are you and Jesus getting on? Do you have in your heart an utter devotion to Him? Has he won your heart?

A German theologian wrote, “If the Holy Spirit exited our churches 95% of our programmes would go on as if nothing had happened.”

The devotion that Jesus is talking about is not something that can be taught, it grows in our lives. It is a desire to have Him at the centre of our lives. Does Christ still have the centre of your heart? Does He still take your breath away?

Generosity

If you want to get your finances sorted out, get your heart sorted out.   What we do with our money is directly connected to our hearts.

In the Jewish tradition, having a good eye means being generous. Having a bad eye, means being stingy. It is not just talking about money, it is about generosity of spirit.

We can have a tight fistedness in our attitudes, a narrow minded, squinty-eyed meanness. What would happen if we compared our worst with other people’s best? What would happen if we were generous towards others in believing the best and speaking the best about them?

Do not worry

Jesus never gives us a command that is impossible to follow. He commands us, “Do not worry.” He tells His disciples, “Here’s why you shouldn’t worry because you have a Father who looks after you.”

God understands your worries and your anxieties. He cares about what we are going through. Again and again in this passage, Jesus uses the word Father. Sometimes we can lose our sense of God as our Father – He seems like a tyrant to us.

Jesus wants us to know that we can trust our Father in heaven. We find it hard because humanly our trust has been broken. God your Father knows your needs. He is interested in you. Everyday I have to choose to remember that there is no condemnation, God has welcomed me with open arms. It is out of that place of trust that you can face every day.

Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness is an invitation to intimacy and trust. All of us struggle with trusting God. Ask Him to make you “open eyed” again. Allow Him to take your breath away.