Monday, January 28, 2019

Project for the week of 1/29/2019

Hey guys,
For this week, read Mat 6: 16-34.   


Matthew 6:16 "And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward."NRSV Jesus here addresses the third "act of piety"—fasting. People fast (go without food) so that they can spend more time in prayer. This act is both noble and difficult. Fasting was mandatory for the Jewish people once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:32); however, people could fast individually or in groups while praying for certain requests (see, for example, Esther 4:16). The purpose of fasting is to provide time for prayer, to teach self-discipline, to remind God's people that they can live with a lot less, and to help them appreciate what God has given. In Jesus' day, the Pharisees fasted twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays (Luke 18:12). Fasting could have great spiritual value, but some people, such as the Pharisees, had turned it into a way to gain public approval. During a fast, they would look dismal and disfigure their faces so that people would know they were fasting and be impressed by their "holiness." Jesus was condemning hypocrisy, not fasting. The Pharisees may have felt truly contrite; but were they spending time with God in prayer during their fast? They negated the purpose by making sure others knew when they were fasting. Public recognition would be their only reward.

Most people who practice fasting would say that the word "slow" presents a clearer picture of this discipline than "fast." Time slows down during a fast as energy levels decline with the absence of food.
Fasting presents a physical example of the painstaking aspects of spiritual growth. Jesus expected his disciples to fast, but he forbade self-centered and attention-seeking exercises. This kind of discipline may, in fact, be a key to the renewal of the church today. Are you willing to give up a mealtime or set aside other major activities to devote to prayer? What sacrifice would you be willing to make to spend even one day alone with the Lord?
Matthew 6:17-18 "But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."NRSV Jesus did not condemn this third act of piety any more than he did the first two. As he assumed that his followers would give (Matthew 6:2) and pray Matthew 6:5), so he assumed that they would fast. When you fast, Jesus was saying, go about your normal daily routine; don't make a show of it. Putting olive oil on one's head was like putting on lotion; it was a common part of daily hygiene like washing one's face. No one but God would know they were fasting. Jesus commended acts of self-sacrifice done quietly and sincerely. He wanted people to adopt spiritual disciplines for the right reasons, not from a selfish desire for praise. As with the other disciplines, the reward would come from God, not from people.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline, like prayer and giving. All three remind us of a primary relationship—God and us. All three require that we give up something to gain something better.
The first time you voluntarily give up the pleasure of food, it may hurt. Start with just a one-meal fast, advises author Richard Foster. Treat fasting like an athletic exercise. If you're a novice, don't try to swim the English Channel.
During your fast, pray often. Be sure not to make a big public event of it, telling friends or moaning to your family about hunger pangs. Just pray. Open yourself to God. Tell him how much you want his love and guidance. Read some psalms, refreshing your heart with food from God's Word. Let your fast bring you joy before you turn again to the food that you need to run the next mile.
JESUS TEACHES ABOUT MONEY / Matthew 6:19-24 61
Jesus had been teaching about how his followers should live quite differently from those in the current religious establishment. The remainder of this chapter presents Jesus' description of the attitudes of his followers that would set them apart from the world. The section about money focuses on true discipleship and how wealth is often the most common distraction from such discipleship. Jesus demands undivided commitment—no divided loyalties, no part-time disciples. Our attitude toward money is often the pulse of the heart of our discipleship.

While we cover the balance of the chapter 6, we’ll focus on verses 19-24, “Do not store up treasures on earth..”  
What “treasures on earth” is Jesus talking about?  

He goes on to say “But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven”  What are these treasures?

We can turn to the bible to help…..see the following verses…
Matthew 6:19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal."NKJV Jesus' followers do not concern themselves with amassing possessions and wealth; they refuse to lay up . . . treasures on earth. Those treasures by their very nature cannot be secure, and death would cause a person to lose them. Such treasures can be eaten away by moths or rust (the Greek word brosis can refer to anything that "eats away"), and they can be stolen by thieves.
Jesus did not condemn saving money for the future or having certain "treasures" in your home that you value. But he condemned the attitude toward money and possessions that makes these things more important than eternal values.
Matthew 6:20-21 "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."NKJV How does a person lay up . . . treasures in heaven? Laying or storing up treasures in heaven includes, but is not limited to, tithing our money. It is also accomplished through bringing others to Christ and all acts of obedience to God. That "treasure" is the eternal value of whatever we accomplish on earth. Acts of obedience to God, laid up in heaven, are not susceptible to decay, destruction, or theft. Nothing can affect or change them; they are eternal.
The final sentence points out the significance of Jesus' words. Wherever our focus lies, whatever occupies our thoughts and our time—that is our "treasure." Jesus warned that people's hearts tend to be wrapped around their treasures, and few treasure God as they ought. In this startling challenge we again face the tension between actions and words in following Christ. Words become cheap when we tell ourselves we can act one way and believe another. Jesus exposed those who claim to value eternity while living as if there were nothing beyond this world.
Our heart will be with our treasure. The "heart" refers to the mind, emotions, and will. What we treasure most controls us, whether we admit it or not. (This is not limited to financial treasure. Some people treasure their house, car, or children almost to the point of idolatry.) For example, if we lay up treasures on earth in the form of money, our "heart" will be with our money. If our focus is our money, then we will do all we can to make more and more, and we will never have enough. We feel great when our stocks are up; we might feel despair if the stock market declines. We may become stingy, unwilling to give a cent of our amassed fortune, for then we would have one cent less. In short, we forget whose money it really is, the good purposes for which he gave it to us, and the fact that it will not last.
Jesus contrasted heavenly values with earthly values when he explained that our first loyalty should be to those things that do not fade, cannot be stolen or used up, and never wear out. We should not be fascinated with our possessions, lest they possess us. This means that we may have to cut back if our possessions become too important to us. Jesus calls for a decision that allows us to live contentedly with whatever we have because we have chosen what is eternal and lasting.

Do you have a will? a living trust? a diversified portfolio? a broker you can call?
Christians might ask, "Why all the fuss over financial security, given Jesus' warning here?" But Jesus was not teaching people to be sloppy and careless about money. We need solid financial plans to be good stewards of the earthly resources that God has entrusted to us.
Jesus was also saying that money is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Money ought never to be any Christian's goal. Financial plans should not drive our lives. Believers should focus on God's purposes, God's goals, and God's plan.
Everyone needs money. Every Christian ought to share money. Financial planning is a sign of careful management. But hopes and dreams that rise to heaven are the only ones worth living for.

Matthew 6:22-23 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"NIV Jesus described the "spiritual vision" his disciples should have. Proper spiritual vision requires us to see clearly what God wants us to do and to see the world from his point of view. "The eye is the lamp of the body" means that through the eyes the body receives light, allowing it to move. In the Old Testament, the "eye" denoted the direction of a person's life. "Good" eyes focus on God. They are generous to others and convey the single focus of a true disciple. They receive and fill the body with God's light so that it can serve him wholeheartedly. "Bad" eyes represent materialism, greed, and covetousness. Those with "bad" eyes may see the light, but they have allowed self-serving desires, interests, and goals to block their vision. Those with "bad eyes" think they have light; in reality, they are in spiritual darkness. This could mean a sort of "double vision"—trying to focus on God and earthly possessions. It will lead to gloom in life and darkness in eternity. How great is that darkness for those who see the light but are not focused on God. Materialism destroys the whole self. In these words, Jesus was calling his followers to undivided loyalty—eyes fixed and focused on him.
Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."NRSV Continuing the theme of his disciples having undivided loyalty, Jesus explained that no one can serve (that is, be a slave of, belong to) two masters. A slave could belong to two partners but not to two separate individuals because his or her loyalty would be divided. While slaves have their earthly master chosen for them, from a spiritual standpoint all people must choose whom they will serve. They can choose to serve themselves—to pursue wealth and selfish pleasures—or they can choose to serve God. The word translated "wealth" is also translated "mammon," referring to possessions as well. Either we store our treasures with God (Matthew 6:20-21), we focus our "eyes" on him (Matthew 6:22-23), and we serve him alone—or else we do not serve him at all. There can be no part-time loyalty. Jesus wants total devotion.

Jesus says we can have only one master. We live in a materialistic society where many people serve money. They spend all their lives collecting and storing it, only to die and leave it behind. Their desire for money and what it can buy far outweighs their commitment to God and spiritual matters. Even Christians spend a great deal of time trying to create heaven on earth. Whatever you store up, you will spend much of your time and energy thinking about. Don't fall into the materialistic trap, because "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10). Does Christ or money occupy more of your thoughts, time, and efforts? Ask yourself, "Have I taken Christ or financial security as my master?"
JESUS TEACHES ABOUT WORRY / Matthew 6:25-34 / 62
Matthew 6:25 "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?"NIV The command "do not worry" does not imply complete lack of concern, nor does it call people to be unwilling to work and supply their own needs. Instead, Jesus was continuing to highlight kingdom priorities—the attitude toward life that his disciples should exemplify. They need not be overly concerned about food or clothing because they know that God will care for them. Worrying about food and clothing should never take priority over serving God. Food and clothes are less important than the life and body that they supply. Because God sustains our lives and gives us our bodies, we can trust him to provide the food and clothing he knows we need.
When we worry over lack of food or inadequate clothing, we immobilize ourselves and focus on the worry. We refuse to trust that God can supply these most basic needs. Worry immobilizes us, but trust in God moves us to action. We work for our money to supply food and clothing, but we must always remember that these ultimately come from God's hands. When the need arises, we need not worry, for we know that our God will supply.

Worry presents us with the dual temptation to distrust God and to substitute fear for practical action. Worry means paying attention to what we cannot change instead of putting our energies to work in effective ways. Jesus made it clear that worry takes away from life rather than adding anything to it. We can counteract worry by doing what we can and trusting where we can't. When we work for God and wait on his timing, we won't have time to worry. When we seek first to honor God as king and conform our lives to his righteousness, worry will always finds us otherwise occupied.

Matthew 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"NKJV Perhaps as he spoke these words, Jesus gestured to several birds passing overhead. The birds need food, and the heavenly Father knows it. The birds are dependent upon God's daily provision because they cannot grow, prepare, or store their food. They work—they hunt for it and then bring it back to their families—but they don't worry. If God cares for the birds, making sure that the natural order of his creation supplies food for them, how much more will he care for a hungry human being? Jesus was teaching total dependence upon God as opposed to humanity's self-sufficiency. How much more should his followers, who know him personally, trust that he will provide their needs? Jesus was not prohibiting his followers from sowing, reaping, and gathering food (that is, working for it); but he was prohibiting worry about having enough food. All that we have ultimately comes from God's hand. Whether we have much or little, we must remember that God provides for our needs.

What about starving families in African refugee camps? If God supplies food for birds, why not food for street kids in Rio?
l Jesus is not teaching that every case of hunger will be satisfied with food. Not every hungry person in his own day was fed, and surely in the course of human history many people would go hungry. Unfortunately, some would die for lack of food.
l Jesus is teaching us to focus our minds, channeling our efforts and directing our energies not to mere bodily maintenance but to God's eternal purposes.
Ask yourself: How can I spend less time worrying about my bank account and more time serving the church? less time worrying about mortgages and more time visiting the sick? less time worrying about kids' college tuition payments and more time learning the Bible?
Now you're thinking!

Matthew 6:27 "And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?"NRSV Many of us would do well to ask ourselves this question every morning. Daily we face new challenges, concerns, problems, and choices. Will we worry, or will we pray? Will worrying be of any help whatsoever? Because of the ill effects of worry, Jesus tells us not to worry about those needs that God promises to supply. Worry may damage our health, cause the object of our worry to consume our thoughts, disrupt our productivity, negatively affect the way we treat others, and reduce our ability to trust in God. Worry may, in reality, take time away from our span of life rather than adding to it. It accomplishes nothing.
Matthew 6:28-30 "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"NKJV Sitting on the grassy hillside, Jesus may have gestured to the lilies of the field, probably referring generally to the bountiful flowers in Israel. As in Matthew 6:26, Jesus was not condoning laziness while waiting for God to supply. Instead, he wanted his disciples to place their lives and needs in God's hands, refusing to worry over basic needs. To worry about clothing is to show little faith in God's ability to supply. If his creation feeds the birds (Matthew 6:26) and clothes the earth with beauty and color so rich that even King Solomon's glorious garments could not match it, will He not much more clothe you? God "clothes" the flowers and grass of the field, neither of which endures for long (today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven).
The phrase "thrown into the oven" could refer to the hot wind (called the sirocco) that came off the desert southeast of Israel that would wilt flowers. Also, dry and dead grass was cut and used for fuel in the ovens when baking.
Matthew 6:31-32 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things."NKJV Therefore, Jesus said, because God provides food and clothing not only for birds and flowers but even more for his precious human creation, do not worry. Do not spend energy fretting over what you will eat, drink, or wear. Worry has no place in the lives of Jesus' disciples; it is the Gentiles (unbelievers) who seek after, fret over, and worry about such things. They have no sense of God's care for them, no reason to focus their energies elsewhere. Jesus' followers, however, have kingdom priorities, a favored relationship with the king, and a promise that their heavenly Father knows that they need all these things.
Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."NKJV Jesus' followers must settle the question of priorities. They must be different from unbelievers whose priorities are comfort, security, money, fashion, etc. Jesus' followers seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The word "seek" is a present imperative, a command to fulfill a continuing obligation. To "seek the kingdom" means both to submit to God's sovereignty here and now and to work for the future coming of his kingdom. To "seek His righteousness" means to seek to live as God requires, to truly seek these "first" calls for total loyalty and commitment. It means to turn to God first for help, to fill our thoughts with his desires, to take his character for our pattern, and to serve and obey him in everything.
What is most important to you; what do you "seek first"? People, objects, goals, money, pleasure, and other desires all compete for priority. Any of these can quickly bump God out of first place if we don't actively choose to give him first place in every area of life. Strangely enough, when we get our priorities right, Jesus promised that all these things shall be added to you. When Jesus' followers seek his kingdom first, God takes care of their needs.
But how can we truly be undistracted by materialistic pursuits? We all have to work, dress, drive, pay taxes—these responsibilities take up most of our days. We may not be materialistic; we just have to live. Should we leave it all and become monks? If there is no middle road, how do we do both—seek the kingdom and provide for our needs? Disciples of Jesus must understand the action (seek, strive), the priority (first), and the objectives (the kingdom of God and his righteousness). Priorities and sequence, however, are quite different matters. We determine sequences of work, rest, prayer, and worship according to time available, the cooperation of others, and many variables. But there can be only one central priority, which by its nature affects all others. The central priority determines the ways we pursue all our priorities.

Good grades are important, and physical fitness is better than frailty, but neither are top-of-the-list priorities. A loving marriage makes life happy, and workplace promotions affirm our skills, but neither constitutes the last word.
Jesus put all the good we seek to do in divine perspective here: Seek God's kingdom! Here are some ways to do that:
l Realize that your church, for all its faults, is your extended Christian family. Serve it well. Give it your energy and time.
l Eagerly tell people how much Jesus means to you personally.
l Direct your work to projects and purposes that God would approve.
l Keep promises made to family and friends.
l Show a lot of love to the people God puts in your life.
l Get with a group of Christian friends and add three specific items to this list that you will work on during the next month. These friends can hold you accountable.
When we attempt to assign the appropriate amount of time to the kingdom of God and his righteousness so that we can figure out how much time we have left to do other activities, we reduce Jesus' words to a lesson in sequence and planning rather than a command about the whole of life. But if we think of "seek first" as "consistently look for, honor throughout, represent constantly, and remember always," then the ways we deal with family, friends, work, leisure, etc., will all be transformed. The rule of God and God's rules will determine and direct our efforts in every area of life. If this is not the case, we are not seeking first God's kingdom or righteousness.
Matthew 6:34 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."NIV Because God cares for his people's needs, do not worry about tomorrow. In an appeal to common sense, Jesus explained that what we worry about happening tomorrow may not happen, so we will have wasted time and energy worrying. We need to reserve that energy for today because each day has enough trouble. We only add to today's burdens when we worry about the future. All the anxieties about tomorrow will not change the outcome, and it will have enough anxieties of its own. The burdens of today are enough, so let God take care of them. God's certain promises of care for our needs do not mean that life will be without trouble. Trouble comes, so we must trust that God will provide through his grace. We must trust him for today without worrying about tomorrow.
Planning for tomorrow is time well spent; worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference. Careful planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps, and schedules and trusting in God's guidance. When done well, planning can help alleviate worry. Worriers, by contrast, are consumed by fear and make it difficult to trust God. They let their plans interfere with their relationship with God. Don't let worries about tomorrow affect your relationship with God today.

One of the best ways to avoid dealing with today's challenges and difficulties is to get wrapped up in tomorrow's. It seems easier to worry about what might not happen in the future than to deal with what is happening in the present! Tomorrow may require plans and forethought, but not worry. Today requires work and trust. Worry immobilizes us today and reveals a lack of trust in God's ability to hold tomorrow and preserve us. Jesus left no doubt that troubles of one kind or another will be part of the daily routine. But he also described those troubles as "enough" for each day. Can we not also trust God to provide whatever we need for the day? When we worry about tomorrow, we misuse the strength God has provided for today. We need to take "one day at a time" in our relationship with God.

See Also
Chart: Seven Reasons Not to Worry--Bruce B. Barton [1]

Verse 16. Moreover when ye fast, etc. The word fast literally signifies to abstain from food and drink, whether from necessity or as a religious observance. It is, however, commonly applied in the Bible to the latter. It is, then, an expression of grief or sorrow. Such is the constitution of the body, that in a time of grief or sorrow we are not disposed to eat; or, we have no appetite. The grief of the soul is so absorbing as to destroy the natural appetites of the body. Men in deep affliction eat little, and often pine away and fall into sickness, because the body refuses, on account of the deep sorrow of the mind, to discharge the functions of health. Fasting, then, is the natural expression of grief. It is not arbitrary; it is what every person in sorrow naturally does. This is the foundation of its being applied to religion as a sacred rite. It is because the soul, when oppressed and burdened by a sense of sin, is so filled with grief, that the body refuses food. It is, therefore, appropriated always to scenes of penitence, of godly sorrow, of suffering, and to those facts connected with religion that are fitted to produce grief, as the prevalence of iniquity or some dark impending calamity, or storm, or tempest, pestilence, plague, or famine. It is also used to humble us, to bring us to reflection, to direct the thoughts away from the comforts of this world to the bliss of a better. It is not acceptable except it be the real expression of sorrow, the natural effect of feeling that we are burdened with crime.

The Jews fasted often. They had four annual fasts, in commemoration of the capture of Jerusalem, (Jeremiah 52:7) of the burning of the temple, (Zech 7:3) in memory of the death of Gedaliah, (Jeremiah 41:4,) and in memory of the commencement of the attack on Jerusalem, Zech 8:19. In addition to these, they had a multitude of occasional fasts. It was customary, also, for the Pharisees to fast twice a week, Luke 17:12.

Of a sad countenance. That is, sour, morose, assumed expressions of unfelt sorrow.

They disfigure their faces. That is, they do not anoint and wash themselves as usual; they are uncombed, filthy, squalid, and haggard. It is said that they were often in the habit of throwing ashes on their heads and faces; and this mixing with their tears, seemed still farther to disfigure their faces. So much pains will men take, and so much suffering will they undergo, and so much that is ridiculous will they assume, to impose on God and men. But they deceive neither. God sees through the flimsy veil. Human eyes can pierce a disguise so thin. Hypocrites overact their part. Not having the genuine principles of piety at heart, they know not its proper expression, and hence appear supremely contemptible and abominable. Never should men exhibit outwardly more than they feel; and never should they attempt to exhibit anything for the mere sake of ostentation.

(*) "appear unto men to fast" Isaiah 57:3,5

Verse 17. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint, etc. That is, appear as you do daily. Do not assume any new appearance, or change your visage or dress. The Jews and all neighbouring nations were much in the habit of washing and anointing their bodies. This washing was performed at every meal; and where it could be effected, the head, or other parts of the body, was daily anointed with sweet or olive oil. In a warm climate, exposed to the great heat of the sun, this practice conduced much to health, preserved the skin smooth and tender, and afforded a most grateful sensation and odour. See Mark 7:2,3, James 5:14 Mark 6:13, John 12:3. The meaning of this whole commandment is, when you regard it to be your duty to fast, do it as a thing expressing deep feeling, or sorrow for sin; not by assuming unfelt gravity and moroseness, but in your ordinary dress and appearance; not to attract attention, but as an expression of feeling towards God, and he will approve and reward it.

Verse 19. Lay not up for yourselves treasures, etc. Treasures, or wealth, among the ancients, consisted in clothes, or changes of raiment, as well as in gold, silver, gems, wine, lands, and oil. It meant an abundance of anything that was held to be conducive to the ornament or comfort of life. As the Orientalists delighted much in display, in splendid equipage, and costly garments, their treasures, in fact, consisted much in beautiful and richly ornamented articles of apparel. See Genesis 45:22, where Joseph gave to his brethren changes of raiment; Joshua 7:21, where Achan coveted and secreted a goodly Babylonish garment. See also Judges 14:12. This fact will account for the use of the word moth. When we speak of wealth, we think at once of gold, and diver, and lands, and houses. When a Hebrew or an Orientalist spoke of wealth, he thought first of what would make display; and included, as an essential part; splendid articles of dress. The moth is a small insect that finds its way to clothes and garments, and destroys them. The moth would destroy their apparel, the rust their silver and gold; thus all their treasure would waste away.

(*) "upon earth" Proverbs 23:4, Luke 18:24,35, Hebrews 13:5

Verse 20. Lay up heaven. That is, have provision made for your eternal felicity. Do not exhaust your strength, and spend your days, in providing for the life here, but let your chief anxiety be to be prepared for eternity. There nothing corrupts, nothing terminates, no enemies plunder or destroy. To have treasure in heaven is to possess evidence that its purity and joys will be ours. It is to be heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. The heart, or affections, will of course be fixed on the treasure. To regulate the heart, it is therefore important that the treasure, or object of attachment, should be right.

Verses 22,23. The light of the body, etc. The sentiment stated in the preceding verses-the duty of fixing the affections on heavenly things-Jesus proceeds to illustrate by a reference to the eye. When the eye is directed singly and steadily towards an object, and is in health, or is single, everything is clear and plain. If it vibrates, flies to different objects, is fixed on no one singly, or is diseased, nothing is seen clearly. Everything is dim and confused. The man, therefore, is unsteady. The eye regulates the motion of the body. To have an object distinctly in view, is necessary to correct and regulate action, Rope-dancers, in order to steady themselves, fix the eye on some object on the wall, and look steadily at that. If they should look down on the rope or the people, they would become dizzy and fall. A man crossing a stream on a log, if he will look across at some object steadily, will be in little danger. If he looks down on the dashing and rolling waters, he will become dizzy, and fall. So Jesus says, in order that the conduct may be right, it is important to fix the affections on heaven. Having the affections there-having the eye of faith single, steady, unwavering-all the conduct will be correspondent.

Single. Steady, devoted to one object. Not confused, as persons' eyes are when they see double.

Thy whole body shall be full of light. Your conduct will be regular and steady. All that is needful to direct the body is that the eye be fixed right. No other light is required. So all that is needful to direct the soul and the conduct is that the eye of faith be fixed on heaven, that the affections be there.

If therefore the light that is in thee, etc. The word light, here, signifies the mind, or principles of the soul. If this be dark, how great is that darkness! The meaning of this passage may be thus expressed: The light of the body, the guide and director, is the eye. All know how calamitous it is when that light is irregular or extinguished, as when the eye is diseased or lost. So the light that is in us is the soul. If that soul is debased by attending exclusively to earthly objects-if it is diseased, and not fixed on heaven-how much darker and more dreadful will it be than any darkness of the eye! Avarice darkens the mind, obscures the view, and brings in a dreadful and gloomy night over all the faculties.

(*) "is the eye" Luke 11:34,36

Verse 24. No man can serve two masters, etc. Christ proceeds to illustrate the necessity of laying up treasures in heaven from a well-known fact, that a servant cannot serve two masters at the same time. His affections and obedience would be divided, and he would fail altogether in his duty to one or the other. One he would love, and the other hate. To the interests of one he would adhere, the other he would neglect. This is a law of human nature. The supreme affections can be fixed on only one object. So, says Jesus, the servant of God cannot at the same time obey him and be avaricious, or seek treasures supremely on earth. One interferes with the other, and one will be, and must be surrendered.

Mammon. Mammon is a Syriac word, a name given to an idol worshipped as the god of riches. It has the same meaning as Plutus among the Greeks. It is not known that the Jews ever formally worshipped this idol, but they used the word to denote wealth. The meaning is, ye cannot serve the true God, and at the same time be supremely engaged in obtaining the riches of this world. One must interfere with the other. See Luke 16:9-11.

(*) "two masters" Luke 16:13
(*) "cannot serve God and mammon" Galatians 1:10, 2 Timothy 4:10, James 4:4

Verses 25-34. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought, etc. The general design of this paragraph, which closes the chapter, is to warn his disciples against avarice and anxiety about the supply of their wants. This he does by four arguments or considerations, expressing, by unequalled beauty and force, the duty of depending for the things which we need on the providence of God. The first is stated in the 25th verse: "Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" In the beginning of the verse he charged his disciples to take no thought-that is, not to be anxious-about the supply of their wants. God will take care of these. He has given life, a far greater blessing than meat; he has created the body, of far more consequence than raiment. Shall not he, who has conferred the greater blessing, be willing to confer the less? Shall not he, who has formed the body so curiously, and made such a display of power and goodness, see that it is properly protected and clothed? He who has displayed so great goodness as to form the body, and breathe into it the breath of life, will surely follow up the blessing, and confer the smaller favour of providing that that body should be clothed, and that life preserved.

No thought. The word thought, when the Bible was translated, meant anxiety, and is so used frequently in old English authors. Thus Bacon says, "Haweis died with thought and anguish before his business came to an end." As such it is here used by our translators, and it answers exactly to the meaning of the original. Like many other words, it has since somewhat changed its signification, and would convey to most readers an improper idea. The word anxiety would now exactly express the sense, and is exactly the thing against which the Saviour would guard us. See Luke 8:14, 21:34, Philippians 4:6. Thought about the future is right; anxiety, solicitude, trouble, is wrong. There is a degree of thinking and industry about the things of this life which is proper. See 1 Timothy 5:8, 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Romans 12:11. But it should not be our supreme concern; it should not lead to solicitude or anxiety; it should not take time that ought to be devoted to religion.

For your life. For what will support your life.

Meat. This word here means food in general, as it does commonly in the Bible. We confine it now to animal food, or the food of animals. When the Bible was translated, it denoted all kinds of food, and is so used in the old English writers. It is one of the words which has changed its meaning since the translation of the Bible was made.

Raiment. Clothing.

(*) "no thought for your life" 1 Corinthians 7:32, Philippians 4:6

Verse 26. Behold the fowls of the air. The second argument for confidence in the providence of God is derived from a beautiful reference to the fowls of heaven. See, said the Saviour, see the fowls of the air: they have no anxiety about the supply of their wants; they do not sow or reap; in innumerable flocks they fill the air; they fill the grove with music, and meet the coming light of the morning with their songs, and pour their notes on the zephyrs of the evening, unanxious about the supply of their wants; yet how few die with hunger! how regularly are they fed from the hand of God! how he ministers to their unnumbered wants. He sees their young "open wide their mouths, and seek their meat at his hand, and how cheerfully and regularly are their necessities supplied! You, said the Saviour to his disciples, you are of more consequence than they are; and shall God feed them in such numbers, and suffer you to want? It cannot be. Put confidence, then, in that Universal Parent that feeds all the fowls of the air, and fear not that he will also supply your wants.

Better than they. Of more consequence. Your lives are of more importance than theirs, and God will therefore provide for them.

(*) "Father feedeth" Job 38:41, Luke 12:24

Verse 27. Which of you by taking thought. The third argument is taken from their extreme weakness and helplessness. With all your care you cannot increase your stature a single cubit. God has ordered your height. Beyond his appointment your powers are of no avail, and you can do nothing. So of raiment. He, by his providence, orders and arranges the circumstances of your life. Beyond that appointment of his providence, beyond his care for you, your efforts avail nothing. Seeing, then, that he alike orders your growth, and the supply of your wants, how obvious is the duty of depending on him, and of beginning all your efforts, feeling that He only can grant you the means of preserving life!

One cubit. The cubit was originally the length from the elbow to the end of the middle finger. The cubit of the Scriptures is not far from twenty-two inches. Terms of length are often applied to life; and it is thought by many to be so here. Thus, it is said, "Thou hast made my days as a handbreadth," Psalms 39:5; "Teach me the measure of my days," Psalms 39:4. In this place it is used to denote a small length. You cannot increase your stature even a cubit, or in the smallest degree. Compare Luke 12:26.

Stature. This word means height. The original word, however,  means   oftener  ageJohn 9:21,23. In these places it is translated age. If this be its meaning here, it denotes that a man cannot increase the length of his life at all. The utmost anxiety will not prolong it one hour beyond the time appointed for death.

Verses 28,29. The fourth consideration is taken from the lilies of the valley. Watch the growing of the lily. It toils not, and it spins not. Yet night and day it grows. With a beauty which the most splendid monarch of the East never knew, it expands its blossom and fills the air with fragrance. Yet this beauty is of short continuance. Soon it will fade, and the beautiful flower will be cut down and burned. God so little regards the bestowment of beauty and ornament as to give the highest adorning to this which is soon to perish. When he thus clothes a lily-a fair flower, soon to perish-will he be unmindful of his children? Shall they-dear to his heart and imbued with immortality-lack that which is proper for them, and shall they in vain trust the God that decks the lily of the valley? He will much more clothe you.

Even Solomon in all his glory, etc. The common dress of eastern kings was purple. But they sometimes wore white robes. See Esther 8:15, Daniel 7:9. It is to this that Christ refers. Solomon, says he, the richest and most magnificent king of Israel, was not clothed in a robe of so pure a white as the lilly of the valley.

Verse 30. Is cast into the oven. The Jews had different modes of baking. In early times they frequently baked in the sand, warmed with the heat of the sun. They constructed also moveable ovens, made of clay, brick, or plates of iron. But the most common kind, and the one here probably referred to; was made by excavating the earth two and a half feet in diameter, and from five to six feet deep. This kind of oven still exists in Persia. The bottom was paved with stones. It was heated by putting wood or dry grass into the oven; and when heated, the ashes were removed, and the bread was placed on the heated stones. More commonly, however, the oven was an earthen vessel, without a bottom, about three feet high, smeared outside and inside with clay, and placed upon a frame, or support. Fire was made within it, or below it. When the sides were sufficiently heated, thin patches of dough were spread on the inside, and the top was covered, without removing the fire as in the other cases; and the bread was quickly baked. The preceding representation of it is taken from Niebuhr.

Verse 31.

(*) "no thought" Psalms 37:3, 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7

Verses 32-34. For after all these things do the Gentiles seek. That is, those destitute of the true doctrines of religion, unacquainted with proper dependence on Divine Providence, make it their chief anxiety thus to seek food and raiment. But you, who have a knowledge of your Father in heaven, who know that he will provide for your wants, should not be anxious. Seek first his kingdom; seek first to be righteous, and to become interested in his favour, and all necessary things will be added to you. God has control over all things, and he can give you that which you need. He will give you that which he deems best for you,

Take therefore no thought, etc. That is, no anxiety. Commit your way to God. The evil, the trouble, the anxiety of each day as it comes is sufficient, without perplexing the mind with restless cares about another day. It is wholly uncertain whether you live to see that day. If you do, it will bring its own trouble; and it will also bring the proper supply of your wants. God will be the same Father then as to-day, and will make then, as he does now, proper provision for your wants.

The morrow shall take thought. The morrow shall have anxieties and cares of its own, but it shall also bring the proper provision for those cares. Though you shall have wants, yet God will provide for them as they occur. Do not, therefore, increase the cares of this day by borrowing trouble respecting the future. Do your duty faithfully now, and depend on the mercy of God and his Divine help for the troubles which are yet to come.

Verse 33. Matthew 6:32

(*) "seek ye first" 1 Timothy 4:8
(*) "shall be added" Leviticus 25:20,21, 1 Kings 3:13, Psalms 37:25, Mark 10:30

Verse 34. Matthew 6:32

(*) "the things of itself" Deuteronomy 23:25, Hebrews 13:5,6

---Barnes' Notes on the New Testament [2] .

Job_31:24; Psa_39:6, Psa_62:10; Pro_11:4, Pro_16:16, Pro_23:5; Ecc_2:26, Ecc_5:10-14; Zep_1:18; Luk_12:21, Luk_18:24; 1Ti_6:8-10, 1Ti_6:17; Heb_13:5; Jas_5:1-3; 1Jn_2:15-16

Mat_19:21; Isa_33:6; Luk_12:33, Luk_18:22; 1Ti_6:17; Heb_10:34, Heb_11:26; Jas_2:5; 1Pe_1:4, 1Pe_5:4; Rev_2:9

Finally, go read Gal 5:22-23 – Fruit of the Spirit!! 
Galatians 5:22-26 (NASB) 
22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
26  Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.-(NASB77) [3]

Looking forward to our discussion on Tuesday…..see you then!



Appendix  Bibliography

[1] Bruce B. Barton et al., Life Application Bible Commentary – Matthew, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1996), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 118-128.

[2] Barnes, Albert. Barnes' Notes on the New Testament. Edited by Robert Frew. WORDsearch CROSS e-book


[3] New American Standard Bible La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1977. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

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