Sunday, July 7, 2013

Some Things Are Best Done In Secret

I made a commitment to read through the Sermon on the Mount with others and the last few weeks have dealt with doing things publicly verses privately.  Here is the beginning of Matthew 6 (minus the Lord's prayer in verses 7-15)

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward."
"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
Our giving, praying, and fasting should not be motivated by wanting to receive the praise of men.  It seems that God is more pleased if we do these things privately.  In the example of the giving to the needy it seems like God thinks we should even keep these acts secret from ourselves. 

As I pondered these passages, a verse from I Samuel 16 came to mind:
"For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Because we know this to be true, that men do look on the outward appearance, maybe that is way these example and their outcomes are repeated in three different ways.  Be careful to do your good deeds in private if your motivation is for the glory of God.  If you do, God will reward you.  If you do good for the praise of men, you will have the praise of men.  This praise will be your total reward.

That thought led me to recall these verses in the next chapter of Matthew:
"Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
I wonder if we couldn't even say something like, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not give to the poor, pray and fast in your name.  And I will profess to them, yes, and you had the praise of men. Depart from me I never knew you."
The people in Matthew 7 were actually doing things in the name of Jesus. 

Sobering, isn't it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Continuing Revelation (This post was written in 2010-don't know why I never posted and I don't know where the pics went, if indeed there ever were any!)

I do not believe in "sola scriptura". The reason I say this is because it has become more and more obvious to me that that is not how I live my life. It might sound good on paper and even be the right thing to say, but in reality it is scripture plus any number of other things.

I do believe in the Bible as final authority. Yet there are other tests or measures by which I conduct my life.

Visualize a sieve. This sieve is the Bible. All things that make it through the seive are "good", things that don't make it through or contradict the Bible are rejected.

I am continuously bombarded with choices as I live life. Some choices are immediately blocked by Biblical edicts. I don't have to pray or look for a sign to know that lying about how old my kids are in order to get into a movie cheaper. It is wrong and I don't need to look for some sign from God that it is ok.

What about those other kinds of choices? Who shall I marry? Should I try to get that job? How would I make that choice? There are alot of ways that might fit through the sieve of scripture. I might do research, I might consult friends and family, I would pray. All of this new information would point me toward a decision. If the information was conflicting I would wait.

As I'm living my life with this unanswered question or choice I try to keep my eyes and ears open for God. My heart resonantes with Oswald Chambers

The destiny of my spiritual life is such identification with Jesus Christ that I always hear God, and I know that God always hears me (John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God, by the devotion of hearing all the time. A lily, or a tree, or a servant of God, may convey God's message to me. What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes but I do not hear Him.

How can I know if what I hear is from God? Does it fit through the sieve of God's word? If it does and I want to do it, I do it. If it doesn't I don't.

Today I was tickled to read in Matt. 2:10 "When they saw the star they rejoiced exceedingly." Earlier in the chapter the magi had seen the star and had begun to follow it. I'm guessing they either lost it and went to Jerusalem to get more information about the details of the new Kings birth or they were passing through and wanted some collaborating evidence that they were on to something. After speaking with Herod they resumed their journey and saw that the same star was going before them and that made them rejoice exceedingly. That star was confirmation. That star was guidance. That star was guiding them to a place and a person prophesized many years before.

Was God leading them by that star? Is God leading me by the counsel of a wise friend? Does finding out that piece of information on the internet the last piece of the puzzle to make a good decision about having a surgery? What about that song with lyrics so convicting I decide not to divorce my mate? Could all these things be God's guiding hand? I must believe that because that is how I order my life. Sola scriptora or God uses many means to speak if we are listening?