January 8th 2023: John Funnell

To watch the morning service, please click on the link to our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/QcBDGAezUBE

Text reading: Psalm 51

Text focus: Matthew 6:12: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

            The topic for today’s messages is “forgiveness.” This morning we shall look at the first part of Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts …” and this afternoon the second part, “… as we forgive our debtors”.

“And forgive us our debts …”

            The context of this statement is the model prayer the Lord gave to His disciples. In many ways this verse is the fulcrum or pivot of the whole. The root of all of humanity’s problems and difficulties is the need for forgiveness. But forgiveness from what? The Greek word translated as “debts” is a legal term meaning “to what is justly owed.” In Luke 11:4 where the model prayer is given again the word used there is “sins” (“and forgive us our sins”). This word is rightly translated in Luke as “sins” as it means “departing from doing what is right.”

            Now we have in the model prayer a daily request for forgiveness. Why? Why request this daily? Why is sin seen as a debt to the Creator of all things?

            The answer to these questions is that it is God the Creator who gave us life. Here are just a selection of Scriptures which affirm God’s right to ownership of our lives:

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4).

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.  (Psalm 139:13).

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10).

God gave us our life. So, every breath we take, every step we make, is all because of God who made us. We owe Him everything. Without Him we have no life.

            Pause a moment. Take a deep breath in and then out. God gave that breath to you – all our breaths are God-given.

            Now God gave us life so that we might delight in Him and glorify Him. But instead, we waste life doing what we want rather than what God (who is utterly good) desires. This departure from what God desires from us is called “sin” and this sin creates a debt. We use our breaths (given of God) for self to do as we please, whereas God actually gave us these breaths to glorify Him.

            I wonder if you have ever borrowed money or maybe you have lent money to someone? What happens if the debt owed cannot be paid? If such occurs, then various things result. There is estrangement. The debtor avoids the lender because they cannot pay. When the lender comes around for the money to be repaid the debtor hides or doesn’t answer the door. There is also the terrible feeling of guilt. The debtor is always in debt to the one who lent the money, and this imbalance doesn’t go away. The debtor feels guilt at not being able to repay the debt owed. Debt also causes shame. A person in debt is considered to be of lower value generally in society. The wealthy are situated in the top ranks whilst those in debt are considered of lower value. Finally, debt causes anxiety. It is something that always hangs over the person. They are never free from the problem, and it leads to worry about how they can continue on and get clear of the debt. Estrangement, guilt, shame, and anxiety are some of the fruits of being in debt when you cannot repay what is owed. Debt is a terrible thing for relationships. If you owe a friend money you cannot repay you will likely feel these effects in your relationship to that friend. Debt causes fear, loneliness, separation, guilt, shame and so on.

            But the same is true with regard to God. However, in the case of God, the problems and breakdown is that much greater, for God is prefect and true. We are not in debt to God concerning money or Mammon, but in respect to life. The life we have is given of God for a purpose – a good purpose. We have taken that life and squandered it on baseless, worthless things. As we do so we run up more and more debts in connection with the Lord.

 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23).

Breaking terms with God is breaking terms with the life-giver. This leads to death and ultimately to eternal damnation. God is a God of order and justice, and this problem of our debt is a legal one. We are legally bound and are now owing God what is justly owed. All who sin are breaking the law and become lawless (1 John 3:4). All sin is lawlessness. The use of legal language in the model prayer is given because sin is utterly serious. It is not a matter which can easily be discarded. When we break the law, just reparation and repayment must be made.        

            Sin, our ongoing sin, is the cause of our debt, our increasing debt, to God the life-giver. We cannot give back the life He has given because we do not have the ability to create life. Life can only come from God, the source of life. When He gives life it is a very precious thing and to waste it in sin and all that opposes God is a serious matter. What will happen now? We have squandered life given of God and we cannot ever repay this debt incurred because we do not have the ability to create the life we have wasted. Sin creates: loneliness, guilt, shame, estrangement.

            Now notice also that this is very personal. It is “our” sin. It is “my” sin. It is not just sin in general, but the wasted life moments I have squandered. Now God is just and wholly so. The debt we have built up creates a terrifying situation for us. The Lord God who gave us life holds us totally accountable for this debt that we have incurred personally. All of us are in this predicament. Each of us has wasted the life-breaths we have been given for folly and rebellion, and now the Lord looks on and asks: what have you done with the life and the life-breaths I gave you? Now many will reply at this point: is not the Lord gracious and merciful? Will He not simply let these things go and make no mention of it all? Well, we must understand that God is just and holy. The reason He takes our sin so seriously is because He takes us (His created image-bearers) seriously. Dr. Paul Blackham put it like this:

“He does not hold us to account because He is a tyrant. He holds us to account because He loves us.”

Here is the good news. God values us so highly. He values us so much that He is jealous when we turn from Him and commit sin. Imagine a good father with his children. When they disobey and cause mayhem the father does not stop loving them but disciplines them and brings them to see the error of their ruinous ways. God values us so highly and He will not let us go. He is so serious about us and about our debt that we have incurred that He will do anything necessary to redeem us. He is so serious about dealing with our debt and our due, and so serious about getting us back on track, that He gave us His only begotten Son.

            If you doubt that God is serious about you and your debts He replies: “I am Jesus-serious!” He says unequivocally: “I sent My Son, My Precious Only-Begotten Son for you!” He came into that which He had made (in the incarnation). He became history to pay off all the debt you owed. Your sin was so expensive – seriously, astronomically expensive – that it cost the Son of God His life. Christ fulfilled our potential for He was perfect and sinless. And on the cross He died the just death that we deserved. On Calvary all sin was paid in full.

            If we now have faith in Him and trust Him truly then we are moved from the red to the black! He has done everything legally required to clear all of the debts. There is no limit to what God will do to free you from guilt, isolation, anxiety, fear and estrangement that such debts caused. God the Father loves you, but He hates the sin. He loved you so much that He sent His Only Son to pay the debt you owed by dying in your place, and He lived a perfect life which you ought to have given in return for the life-breath He gave you.

            Why did He do this? It is so you no longer have to hide from God and you don’t have to avoid Him anymore. You do not need to worry about how to make amends. You do not need to be ashamed, nor to feel guilty at all anymore. All that the Saviour did in His life and in His death met the requirements each of us should have given to God our Creator. If you truly trust in Him, you have been washed clean, and the slate of debts has been scrubbed and wiped clean. There is no need to be anxious, nor fearful anymore, for all sins have been dealt with in Christ. And so, we can readily come to Christ for all has been forgiven. Not simply swept away under a carpet, but dealt with fully and legally. There is now no debt left for it has all been paid in full.

            The word “forgive” in Matthew 6:12 is from a Greek word which can also mean “to let go,” “to be released,” or “to be sent away.” It has the idea of freedom and it can also mean “to cover.”

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36).

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1).

And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. (1John 3:5).

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1Peter 4:8).

having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14).

The Lord has covered, He has washed, He has sent away our sin and released us from it so we can live in free fellowship with Him. Christ paid for it all!

            The Lord wants you to believe the truth that all sin has been wiped out, annulled, dealt with, paid for, and removed, and He wants you to trust this daily. Remember that He asks us to pray this prayer daily. Not simply because we sin every day, but He asks us to pray this daily so that we do not forget that our sins are utterly forgiven. We can thence rest in blessed, loving, full, communion with Him who has freely forgiven us all our sins.

            We can only pray this prayer because of what Christ has done in His life and on Calvary in His death. As a result of Christ’s work we have full and free forgiveness. Now forgiveness comes to us only by us truly knowing Christ. Do we know Him? It is not enough to just believe intellectually – the devil does that, but it does him no good. Do you know Him? Are you in right relationship with Him so that you know that your sins are all dealt with completely?

“… as we forgive our debtors.”

            Sin causes damage to relationships, but God has forgiven us freely. In Matthew 18:21-35 we read the parable of the unforgiving servant. Peter asks the Lord: how often should we forgive someone a debt? Up to seven times? The Lord replies by increasing what Peter thought was a perfect number (7) and multiplies it to 70 x 7, which effectively indicates an infinite number – the complete (7) completion (7) multiplied by all-encompassing (10). Now if we truly recognised the scale of forgiveness by God for our own sins, we must conclude that we have no right to bear a grudge against others. If God has forgiven me all of this, how can I not forgive others when they sleight me or sin against me? In the parable, the amount of debts for each one are meant to show us the incredibly large debt owed to God, compared to the much smaller debts we incur one to another. We might say that the unforgiving servant was forgiven a debt of £1000,000, whilst the debt he was owed was just £10. How we need to recognise the incredible and awesome release of debts we have been given of God! And how insignificant are the debts we are owed one to another. One person likened the difference between the debt we owed God and the debts we owed one another to the height of the cathedral roof in comparison to the minor undulations of the floor surface. The vast distance between the ground and the roof in a cathedral speaks of the immense debt we owe to God, whilst the little bumps and indentations in the floor are the depth or height of the debts we owe one to another.

            Now it is essential we recognise our complete forgiveness in Christ for all sin we have committed, past, present and future. We are now utterly secure with God. We have peace with Him. And so, because God has forgiven us so much, we ought also to forgive one another. If we cannot forgive others, then it is doubtful that we appreciate that we have been forgiven by the Lord. Now in Matthew 6:14 we learn that the forgiven one is a forgiving person. The same is true with regard to mercy. The one who has received mercy is himself merciful. The model prayer of Matthew 6 is a beautifully crafted prayer, but there is a significant amount of space given in this to the topic of forgiveness.

            Stephen, the first martyr, prayed for his murderers as they stoned him, asking for their forgiveness. Now forgiveness is not something we understand as something we earn. Because we are forgiven, we can therefore freely forgive others. If we do not freely forgive others, then there is an issue concerning our salvation. Psalm 137:9 might be considered a very unusual text to turn to. It does not appear to be a very Christian sentiment. However, it is important to note that the Psalmist is not taking such an action himself and he is not telling anyone else to do it either. What he is doing is speaking honestly. He knows that the Lord will bring about justice, and when justice is done it will be good. We have clear commands in the New Testament about forgiving one another.

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  (Colossians 3:12,13).

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32).

Let us bask in the forgiveness of God in Christ and let us freely forgive one another!

November 6th 2022: Rhodri Brady

Matthew 6:11

            The focus for our thoughts today are those words we find in Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We shall have occasion to look at other parts of Matthew 6, but we shall ask ourselves the question: are we praying for this on a daily basis?

            In Mark Twain’s novel about an adventurer called ‘Huckleberry Finn’ he warns the reader not to see any moral tales or deeper meaning in his work for it is all just an adventure. In other works, (e.g. C. S. Lewis’ Narnia tales), the authors would be rather upset if we did not see the deeper significance of the story that unfolds. Aslan was not just a lion but representative of the Saviour, for example. The Bible must also be understood at different levels. The writer of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, expects us to look deeper into the text to see more than the straight forward words. The words of Matthew 6:11 may seem straight forward enough, a prayer that we may have sufficient food. But what do they really convey? Is the Lord simply expecting us to ask Him for our daily food or is there something deeper?

[1] Is the prayer only about ‘baked dough?

            We are dependent creatures. We rely on physical nourishment amongst other things (air, warmth, water, shelter). When the Son of God came to earth as a man, He took upon Himself full human flesh and dwelt as a true human man. He was tired and weary on occasion, and He needed food and water just as any other man.

            Before He commenced His ministry, the Lord was taken into the desert by the Holy Spirit and was there for forty days without food. We might ask ourselves the question: why did He not eat? Why did He go without food for those forty days? One immediate answer is that there is much more to life than food. After the forty days the Lord was understandably hungry, and the Devil tempted Jesus to make bread out of stones (Matthew 4:3). Now if bread was the most important thing, He would have sought food, but instead the Lord responded to Satan with the words of Scripture as found in Deuteronomy 8:3:

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” (Matthew 4:4).

The word of God is far more important than physical food. But what is meant by the phrase: “Every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”? Well, of course, this signifies all the words that God has spoken, and which are written down inspired of the Holy Spirit in our Bible. But then also we learn from John 1:1f that the Lord Jesus is the “Word of God” who has come from eternity and who has made known the Father (John 1:1,14,18). Later in John 6 our Lord taught the disciples that He was “the bread of life” of which all must partake for eternal life (John 6:33,35,48,51). At that time, He pointed out that the manna given in the desert pointed to Him. He is our daily bread!

            We are not, therefore, to think merely of ‘baked dough’ when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” but we are to think of our greater need of the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Bread of Life.

            In some old ‘arcade games’ many of the characters employed could not continue in their quest within the game unless they had food. Some games displayed messages like: ‘wizard needs food,’ and when things were dire, the message would be ‘wizard needs food badly!’ But do we see such a message or hear such a warning concerning our need for spiritual food i.e., Christ Himself? We do not live by physical food alone, for the very words of God are necessary and essential.

            It is difficult to live in this way – to make our spiritual food the priority. We are all used to having physical food and we naturally defer to this as our most important need, but really our greater need is the spiritual food that Christ supplies. We do need physical food for our bodies but do we need as much as we consume? How does our consumption of the spiritual food compare to our physical intake? The other extreme is to neglect food altogether and this is unwise. But we need to have the attitude displayed in Matthew 6:33:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33).

We ought to be like Job who said:

I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food. (Job 23:12).

            The Lord Jesus enjoyed food. We see this in His interaction with many peoples as He dined with them. He was once termed a “glutton” (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34), although such an accusation was all wrong because Christ was sinless. He never did anything wrong. But such an accusation surely shows that He was one who enjoyed the hospitality of those around Him. And yet physical food was by no means His greatest love! After His meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, whilst the disciples went off to get provisions, we find that when the disciples returned, they urged Him to eat something. However, the Lord replied by saying that He had food about which they were ignorant (John 4:32). When they heard this, the disciples then spoke among themselves asking whether someone else had brought some food to Him (John 4:33). To this the Lord Jesus replied:

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34).

If our Saviour lived off spiritual food can we do any less? Or do we say, ‘Well He was the Son of God so it was alright for Him to have such a priority’? But remember that Christ was fully man. And when He says that we need to live by the words that proceed out of the mouth of God who are we to say otherwise?

            So, the prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” is not just talking about ‘baked dough.’ It does include this, of course, but the more important food of the Spirit is the essential need of the heart. John 3:16 sums up our need. We need Christ whom the Father sent. We need to believe in Him if we are to have eternal life.

[2] The prayer is for “daily” bread.

            When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, the Lord provided them with manna which they were to collect. But they were only to collect a day’s supply. They could not gather in more than what was required for a day, for if they did, that which was left for the next day went rotten breeding worms (Exodus 16:16,20). In the same way we need to rest and rely wholly on Jesus every day.

            We should remember that when God created all things, He made us dwell in the time of days (Genesis 1 & 2). We are designed to live day-by-day. At the end of Matthew 6 the Lord tells us not to worry about tomorrow,

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34).

We find this a hard thing to do – to live day-by-day. But we were created for such daily living. We automatically consider the future and how things will work out for us. However, despite our many plans and aspirations, we cannot do anything at all about tomorrow! Of course we need to make plans, but our heart should be one of dependence upon the Lord. James had something to say about our planning for the future,

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16).

The same is true with regard to sin. We ought not to worry about tomorrow’s struggles. Concentrate on what the Lord brings for us day-by-day. Are you convicted of a particular sin today? Well deal with it today. Seek the Lord’s forgiveness and repentance. Come to Him and receive from Him. Let tomorrow’s issues wait! We are to live our lives daily. In the midst of terrible troubles Jeremiah was inspired to write these words,

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:23,24).

How is your morning routine? What do you do first thing when you wake up? Is life so fast that before you exit the bed you are thinking about the day’s activities and plans? Does your routine vary according to how you feel? What we ought to do is to wake up and seek the Lord as a matter of priority. We should wake up every day with the same intent to meet with the Lord. Is the Lord Jesus our first port of call day-by-day? Is the Lord Jesus the one we call upon in each and every trial and situation we face?

[3] How does your soul fare?

            Thinking about this prayer for daily sustenance of the Lord, how do we measure up? Remember that the Lord came from heaven to save souls and He has provided Himself for us that we might live. We need to think through our lives, our pattern of life, to see where our priorities lay.  If we find that we have not prayed this prayer for spiritual food on a daily basis, then we need to change our pattern.

            Adam was given a single command not to eat of one specific tree (Genesis 2:17). This was later expanded to ten specific commands for the nation Israel. Later the Lord Jesus explained that these ten commandments went far deeper than had been realised (Matthew 5-7). Adam failed, Israel failed, and we as sons of Adam fail too. We ought to have loved the Lord wholeheartedly and thence to love all others as ourselves (the great dual summary statement of the law). But the great story of the Bible is that the Lord has come to rescue fallen, needy sinners. He has come to save and to restore us. If we break the Lord’s commandments we will surely die.

After the fall in Genesis 3, the serpent was given no mercy but was simply cursed. Although Adam and Eve suffered curses too, they were also given a promise (Genesis 3:15). Immediately after this, the Lord made tunics out of animal skins for Adam and Eve. To do this He had to sacrifice an animal whose blood was spilled. In this we see the need for sacrifice on account of their sin and rebellion, and a covering for their nakedness. The promise of Genesis 3:15 and the action of the Lord in making clothes for Adam and Eve point directly to the cross, where our Saviour became our sacrifice. Even though our sin leads to death, what Christ has done has brought us life (Romans 6:23)!

            The Lord Jesus Christ sought His Father first, always. Even on the cross He called out to the Father (Luke 23:34,46). But then He also called out “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Despite the fact that He was forsaken of the Father, the Lord still called upon God! How we need to rely fully, and wholeheartedly on the Lord. We need to trust Him, and we need to keep on trusting Him, and then we need to seek His promises. Such promises as:

Lamentations 3:23,24 – the great mercy and faithfulness of God which is new every morning.

Matthew 11:28-30 – the promise of rest for all who come to Christ.

John 3:16 – the promise of eternal life for all who truly believe.

There are many others!

We need to pray daily for the living bread of Christ! After the celebration of the Passover, before the Lord was crucified, He took bread and then broke it before His disciples, saying that they were to take and eat of it, for this was His body broken for them. Whenever we eat anything, we break the food up into pieces. In the same way we must take of Christ who broke Himself up for us. He has made Himself available that we might daily feed on Him. Let us taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)!

September 12th 2021: Pete Hilder

Matthew 6:19-24

Everyone has opinions, whether it’s morals, politics, films, tv or books. We look for reviews, for holidays, purchases online. As Christians we are to review things, for example, at the end of the day in prayer, at the end of the year. Covid pauses us to review and reconsider our time and money, our commitment. There are all sorts of things we review and assess. Maybe we go to church and review the service over lunch or review the minister! But God has a different plan when we come to worship Him. He wants to review us, to assess us, to look at us and tell us about what He thinks. Maybe you’ve come this morning to have a look and see what you think. God has come and He is going to have a look at you and tell you what He thinks.

In this passage of scripture there are three pictures, three reviews or assessments, which God brings before you and which Jesus brought to the hearers of this sermon on the very first occasion, and He desires to do so again this morning.

There are three questions for each picture. He wants to know where you are, how you are and who you are living for.

The first review: Jesus, the doctor
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 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.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus is ready and waiting for us. He is the greatest doctor who wishes to review us and our health. He has a question for us. If you went to a doctor and he asked, ‘Where is your heart?’ you’d be worried! But our heart can be in many different places. Is your heart in a good place or a bad place? You can know because your heart is where your treasure us.

What is your treasure, your most prized possession? Is it your bank balance, job, status, family? Where do we spend our time and energy? Jesus is telling us there is a danger – our heart could be in the wrong place. There is a danger to us of hell, judgement, being destroyed. Dr. Jesus is concerned for physical and spiritual health. He identifies a couple of dangers for us. Your heart could be in a place of danger and destruction if it is placed in the wrong place. The other danger is our heart could be stolen. Jesus is offering us something different – placing our treasure in heaven.

Jesus has not lost one of those who have entrusted themselves to Him. He wants us to place our hearts in a safe place, in heaven, to entrust ourselves to Him. He is already preparing our inheritance. Jesus is 100% reliable and true. His concern is full and true. His way is a way of life to the full.

The second review: Jesus, the optician

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23).

This time we have the review of the optician. The greatest one who we need to see is Jesus, who is available at all times. How healthy are your eyes? Your heart is important but so are your eyes. That first time you need glasses, you put them on and you’re amazed. Suddenly the world opens back up again. The eye is the lamp of the body. It has great purpose – to shine light. Jesus says it is possible that your lamp is a lamp of darkness. We have many different ways that things enter us. We can be very careful about what we put into our mouth to eat.

How careful are you with what you let into your eyes? Are you filling your eyes with things which are darkness? God’s Word is a testimony of Him. The light of God’s Word is granted to you. God’s concern is so many of us are filling our lives with not seeing Him. So many are in darkness, they choose the darkness. You have a choice when you see an optician – whether to listen and act on what they say or not. Jesus, the optician, is perfect. He has seen the impact of those who reject Him (Genesis 3:6). Sin came into the world through the eye. The same happened with Lot’s wife; she looked back and longed for the world. Job made a covenant with his eyes.

God wants us to have life to the full. But without receiving Jesus Christ as Lord, we face the outcome of death. Solomon wrote, “The eye is not satisfied with seeing (Ecclesiastes 1:8). But Jesus contrasts those very words saying, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6). Jesus wants us to enjoy the blessings which are there for those whose lives will be filled with light. What are you filling your life with? We should be filling our lives with Jesus. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8). Fill ourselves with these things, the gifts that are there for those who follow Him.

The third review: Visiting the Master
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24).

The thought of this puts a shudder down my spine. This is a picture of more than just your master in work. It is a 24/7 commitment. Who is your master? There are two but you can only have one – God or money and possessions. Materialism is one of the great ‘gods’ of our age. We find ourselves not living for God, the Master, but living for someone else.

A squirrel will be busy storing up treasure – nuts for what is to come. Winter. Imagine that a squirrel comes to your garden, bored with collecting nuts and instead collects pebbles to store. What happens when winter comes? He dies. He hasn’t followed his maker’s design. We have a winter – a time of judgement. Maybe the squirrel decides to collect nuts and pebbles. What happens when winter comes? He still dies! The first commandment states we are to have no other gods, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3). These are testing words. Are our hearts wholly devoted to the Lord our God or are we storing up other treasures, serving other masters, filling our lives with darkness? God is not that cruel boss who is looking to pick all your faults. His concern is to bless us, to draw us back. We thank Him that He calls us back again. Jesus promises, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7). He calls us to build our life on the rock, to have life for eternity.

It is very interesting that the rest of Matthew 6 is about anxiety and worry. So often, when we are taken up the things of this world, we become anxious and worried. God has presented to us everything, the way to live, to have peace, to store up treasure in heaven. Jesus states it very clearly at the end of this chapter, “For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:32). Amen.