Family Bible Study Lesson for September 14: "Kingdom Attitudes"
August 22 2003 by Mary Fillinger , Matthew 6:1-8, 12, 14-18

Family Bible Study Lesson for September 14: "Kingdom Attitudes" | Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Family Bible Study Lesson for September 14: "Kingdom Attitudes"

By Mary Fillinger Matthew 6:1-8, 12, 14-18

Jesus' teachings in the "Sermon on the Mount" begin with Matthew 5, the subject of last week's lesson. The teachings continue in chapter 6.

Public and Private Works (Matthew 6:1-4) Works cannot reconcile us with God or obtain grace for us, for this happens only through faith, believing that our sins are forgiven because of what Jesus did on the cross. He alone is the mediator who reconciles the Father. Whoever imagines that he can accomplish this by his works, or that he can merit grace, despises Jesus and seeks his own way to God, contrary to the gospel. As Paul says in Rom. 5:1, "Since we are justified by faith we have peace with God."

Even pious works have no spiritual benefit in themselves, and practicing them in public adds nothing to their efficacy.

Prayer and Fasting (Matthew 6:5-13, 16-18) In Matthew 6, Jesus focuses attention on proper attitudes for prayer. Jesus contrasts proper prayer with hypocrisy.

The very things that we do to worship God - giving, prayer, fasting - can turn out to be nothing but hypocrisy if our attitude is not right. If it is not done for God's glory alone, it is not worship - it is hypocrisy.

Notice that Jesus says, "when" you pray, not "if" you pray. Prayer is expected of every believer. Prayer can be offered with a pure motive, or with mixed motives. The Lord teaches us the true spirit of prayer by giving us two opposites, contrasting the spirit of hypocrisy and the spirit of humility.

It is not wrong to pray in public. It is not wrong to pray on the street corner; it is not wrong to pray in a public meeting. But it is wrong to pray anywhere if the goal is to be seen by men to impress them.

Prayer is a declaration of our dependence upon God. Every time I pray, I am saying, "God I need you!" We ask God's forgiveness because we know we are dependent upon Him to forgive. We thank Him in prayer because we know that whatever we are or have has come from Him. We petition Him because only He can give us what we need. We know that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, and prayer is humility in action. It is saying, "God, I can't do this, so I come to you acknowledging my need."

Does your prayer life declare that you are dependent upon God for everything?

Jesus modeled an appropriate manner or prayer in verses 9-13, the familiar passage we call "the Lord's prayer."

In verses 16-18, Jesus speaks of fasting. In scripture, "fasting" is described as the abstaining of food for spiritual purposes. Fasting, as discussed in Scripture, has nothing to do with going on a diet, but is a spiritual matter.

Fasting is that discipline which tries to recapture our hunger for God. Fasting expresses that passion to know Him more. Fasting and prayer are almost always linked together in the Bible, usually as "prayer and fasting," (Matt. 17:21; Acts 13:3 and 14:23). This indicates that the latter (fasting) is designed as an aid to the former (prayer).

Why fast? It is a means of humbling ourselves before God. It helps us to focus our prayers. It is a way of saying that having more of the giver surpasses having the gifts. It helps restore our focus from ourselves to the good things God places in our lives. This kind of God-centered fasting tenderizes our hearts, helping us to find our contentment in Him.

Forgiveness - and being forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15) Although our sins are forgiven, we don't stop sinning. When we sin and do not repent of that sin, it affects our relationship with God. We don't stop being His child, but we lose an intimacy, our communion is broken. The gospel brings judicial forgiveness. And obedience, along with confession of sin, will bring the joy that comes from relational forgiveness.

In verses 12, 14-15, Jesus taught the importance of forgiving as well as being forgiven. We can't have one without the other.

Here is forgiveness: when you think that you or someone you care about has been wronged, forgiveness means resisting revenge, not returning evil for evil, wishing them well, grieving at their calamities, praying for their welfare, seeking reconciliation so far as it depends on you, and coming to their aid in distress.

All believers stand daily in need of forgiveness. A literal meaning of this is: "Forgive us our sins in proportion as we forgive those who have sinned against us." If we pray this petition with unforgiveness toward some, we are asking God not to forgive us. Think about that.

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8/22/2003 12:00:00 AM by Mary Fillinger , Matthew 6:1-8, 12, 14-18 | with 0 comments
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