Richvale Church
Sunday, October 17 2021
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        Prayer for the Persecuted Christians

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  • Good Morning, we are in our sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount, entitled the upside Down Kingdom.
    When I first started out in ministry we had a simple sound system, a small amplifier and one microphone.
    Over years sound systems have become more and more elaborate..
    Today mixing boards have the complexity of a flight deck of a Boeing 747.
    Mixing sound is both a science and an art... It is about getting the volumes and levels in a sweet spot for the audience.. .
    Sound Engineering is all about getting the right Mix and levels and this done by adjusting the channels and remixing (shaping) “highs”, “mids”, “lows” frequencies. Then you can add things like reverb to match the dynamics of the building to create a harmonic sound that warms the space. The basic principle is that there are inputs and outputs -- and when sound comes into the soundboard it is balanced (remixed/shaped) and then amplified into the room.
    In the sermon on the Mount Jesus deals with inputs and outputs. The inputs are are the attributes or characteristics of the Kingdom of God… and the Outputs are the outworking of His grace in out lives... This is the remixed/ or the shaping that is then amplified into the world.
    The sermon on the Mount is considered the greatest sermon ever preached and every part of the sermon is connected...
    Jesus starts with the 8 beatitudes and taught and it is about having the right attitude towards God and others... Then he talks about being Salt and light in the world...
    Jesus says emphatically, "You are salt of the earth and your light of the world"… You are a City on a Hill that cannot be hidden..
    Next, Jesus deals with our obedience in relationship to the law...Jesus says that he didn't come to abolish the law -- but to fulfill it… The Kingdom is a kingdom of Righteousness.. right standing… right relationships..
    Jesus said ---that when it come to to righteousness... Our righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees..
    There was temptation in Jesus day to follow the examples of the Pharisees who obeyed the letter of the Law to a fault and not one inch more...
    Jesus deals with the interpretation of the law by contrasting or (remixing) the legalism of the law verses the intention of the law..
    Jesus gives several examples… and one them is found..
    Matthew 5:43–44 ESV
    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
    Jesus says., “You have heard it said”.... “but I say to you that”… that phrase comes up nine times… and it is a correction of interpretation.
    The law command us to love you neighbor and hate our enemies..
    Jesus remixes the interpretation and say...
    What is intended by the law is that we are not only to love our neighbors but also our enemies … and go a step further and pray for those who persecute you...
    Ultimately the intention of the Law is godliness or Christlikeness.
    This what Jesus talking about in Matt 5:48 when he talks about perfection...
    Matthew 5:48 ESV
    48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    When read this verse it easy to get stuck… on… be perfect as God is perfect! What we need to ask is what is Jesus intention?
    The well known violinist. Benno Rubinoff was once asked how long he spent practicing..
    He said that he often rehearsed between concerts… but normally.. practiced about eight hours a day… He was then asked why he practiced so much... He responded with..
    “Well, I strive for perfection. I doubt if my audience would know the difference if I lightened up on rehearsals, but I would. Music is my life. Music is in my heart. I must always give my best.”
    In our text..
    Jesus is not condoning Christian perfectionism… He is not saying that being a Christian means that your have your stuff together…
    THE TRUTH IS THAT THIS SIDE OF heaven we will never reach perfection...
    Paul tells us in Romans that there.. is...
    Romans 3:10–11 (ESV
    10 .....“None is righteous, no, not one;
    11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
    Romans 3:23 (ESV)
    23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    What Jesus is saying is that we are to practice or to strive towards Christlikeness.
    The word practice implies that we are going to mess up along the way.... We have to give ourselves margin of error…
    What we need to know is this Greek word for perfect.. is the word teleios -- it speaks of an end goal or an end purpose… It is the final condition of something.. It is what
    Paul said…Philippians 3:13 that he had not attained… but one thing he does is He forgets what is behind and presses forward to what is ahead..Towards the goal.... Which is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
    Perfection speaks of the process of Being perfected… it is a gospel of perseverance… meaning we are to aways be moving closer to the goal..… The closer we are to Christ the more we will reflect the love of God to others..
    t/s Jesus in the sermon on the Mount... is helping us get the mix right... so that our lives will amplify his glory and love in the world.. There are three specific areas that need to be mixed.. He shows us first..

    1. How to Balance the levels of Works of Righteousness

    Many colleges and universities offer their alumni the opportunity to audit classes..
    Auditing a class means that they can sit in and listen to lectures and benefit from courses without paying full or any tuition. The catch that there is no credits or grades given for completing the course work.
    If you want get bet credit for courses you must be enrolled as a student and pay tuition... Most of us do prefer to work for credit....
    We operate in a world of works and rewards… Jesus points out the problem with always wanting credit.
    Matthew 6:1 ESV
    “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.
    First thing to observe here… Is that doing good works is implicit it’s implied… Practicing good deeds is part of the expectation of being a disciple of Jesus… and it is Kingdom value..
    What Jesus is dealing with is the mix...… How Good works are to be practiced...
    Jesus starts with a negative imperative..
    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them”
    Jesus warns us of practicing our righteousness for the wrong motives..
    The word “righteousness” - means good works.. These are acts of mercy.. which include.. things like...
    Giving money to the less fortunate,
    volunteering our time
    serving in a ministry..
    Using our spiritual gifts
    Giving offerings..
    Jesus is not knocking good works… When you think about those in his audience — they were used to doing works out of legalism… one of the basic requirements was to take care of the poor...
    Jesus dealing with the problem of the mix…that distorts the message....and that is when we do good works with the wrong motive...
    Jesus warns us to be careful of doing works of righteousness … wrong reason and that is to be seen by others....
    The message bible says "don't make a performance out of it" The picture is that of the theater with Actors on a stage with Scripts, with props and backdrops…He is saying don’t make it a production out of your good works..
    Now.. It seems as though Jesus is contradicting what he said in Chapter 5..
    When he said you are the of the earth and the light of the world..
    We are like a city on a hill that can’t be hidden… In chapter 5 he tells us to not hide our lights under a basket … put rather put our light on a lamp stand to light up the whole house…
    What’s going on??
    Jesus deals with the imbalances of good works... He remixing and reshaping..
    We should be involved in good works.. Paul tells us in..
    Galatians 6:9 ESV
    And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
    The issue is not the good works… but our motives and where we are looking for approval..
    If we are looking for approval from others.. we will always be disappointed..
    Jesus taught us to do our works for an audience of One… Jesus says a number times that it the father in heaven who will reward us..
    Jarad Wilson author and professor of theology said that...
    “The approval of God in Christ is worth more than a trillion pats on the back and worth all the stabs in it too.” Jared C. Wilson
    The point is that..
    .. God's evaluation should be more important than what others might think...
    The purpose of Good Works is that we reflect God… and when People see our good works they will glorify our father who is in heaven...
    Jesus warns us that we do good works for the accolades of the crowd we already have our reward.... and we will forfeit any heavenly rewards..
    t/s Jesus in the sermon on the Mount... is helping us get the mix right... so that our lives will amplify his glory and love in the world.. . He shows us first.
    1. How to Balance the levels Works of Righteousness?

    2. How to Balance the levels of Giving and Generosity?

    Hospitality and generosity were hallmarks of early Christianity, and sharing was an important way by which Christians identified themselves…
    The Commentator James Boice makes the observation... that Before time of Christ .. there were no hospitals and no orphanages.... The world was full hardship and poverty.
    bug.. After Christ there we find the practice of sacrificial love of the believers for each other... Boice says this was the beginnings of taking care for the poor, beginning of hospitals, reform laws for the status of woman…..
    Jesus often dealt with what was already present in the Law…
    Generosity was part of Judaism …In fact..the giving of money to the poor was considered a sacred duty .....The ancient Rabbi Tobit said that
    “It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold. For alms giving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin” Tobit
    The problem with giving of money and generosity within Judaism was that it was largely external..
    Again… Jesus deals with intent of God’s laws…
    Jesus didn’t do away with giving to the poor or generosity… He remixes it and then amplifies it into the world..... He tells us what generosity should look like..
    Jesus says..
    Matthew 6:2 ESV
    “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.
    The first thing we notice that giving to the Poor is assumed… It both an OT and NT value..
    …Giving alms to the poor was one of three pillars and practices within Judaism.
    Jesus is talking about his Kingdom… and there is another remix…Jesus says and when you give--. don't make it a huge production out of it.... Don't make it a parade and have the trumpets go out before you… don’t draw attention to your gift..
    Jesus says..
    Don't be like the hypocrites in the synagogue... who go in the streets so that they can be seen by others!
    Apparently there well lots of pretenders in Judaism..
    One second-century rabbi declared that nine-tenths of all the hypocrisy in the world was to be found in Jerusalem.
    Jesus said that Those who give to be seen and admired have already received their reward in full....
    There are different motives for giving…
    People will give out of a sense of duty… and some will give because they believe there is a reward..
    The well known commentator Schweizer points out that there was this hope in Judaism of receiving honor rewards when you gave… Many believed that when you gave to the poor "the capital remained invested in heaven while the interest was enjoyed on earth."
    There are churches that teach that giving to God is good business plan... and when we give God is going to give us capital with massive interest..
    Jesus does teaches that giving is about about the glory to God… there is humility in giving… there is sacrifice… and there dependency on God… when bring in tithes and offerings..
    Jesus warned that if we take the credit for our giving and accolades from others we already have our reward.
    The Greek _apechō_ was a technical commercial term that was often used in the sense of payment in full, complete with a receipt.
    The issue that Jesus is dealing with is giving with the right motive.... Law was all about duty… and Grace is all about the heart...
    Matthew 6:3–4 ESV
    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.
    Jesus says when you give - don't let your left hand know what right hand is doing…This is not saying you have no idea of the amount…you don’t scribble a number on check and look away..... but He is saying give in such a way that you not making it a production..
    Why because ..
    This is important point "and your Father who sees in secret will reward you"
    If you are wondering what rewards Jesus is talking about read on..
    Matthew 6:19–20 ESV
    19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
    When we give in secret God will rewards us with heavenly rewards..
    t/s Jesus in the sermon on the Mount... is helping us get the mix right... so that our lives will amplify his glory and love in the world.. First He showed us..
    1. How to Balance the levels Works of Righteousness?
    2. How to Balance the levels of Giving and Generosity?

    3. How to Balance the levels of Prayer and fasting

    How many of you are able to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water every day… Well its a stuggle for me...
    I recently set up this Habit app on my phone it has been sending me a notification to hydrate several times a day.. I discovering that I am not always around water when I get the notification… there is more planning needed..
    Prayer in Judaism was a Habit…
    Every morning before 9 am and evening before 9 pm devout Jews would recite the Shema… The Shema was a Prayer… that reinforced their faith.. The word Shema means to Hear…
    … It declares that the Lord is one God…it is a reminder that they were love Lord their God... with all their heart mind and soul .. That the word of was to take center stage of their daily lives.. They were to teach the word to their children…in the mornings, when sat down to a meal or as they walked and in the evening....The word of God was to be bound on the foreheads and hands.. and they were to write God’s words on the doorposts of their houses.. ..
    On top of this there was a second set of 18 prayers that were also repeated three times a day… in the morning, afternoon and evening...
    During the day… they had all these notifications that would come on and the would have to stop and pray..It didn’t matter where at that time of day—at home, on the street, at work. You stopped and said your prayers..
    Jesus brings balance to prayers and fasting..
    Matthew 6:5 ESV
    “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.
    The problem was not praying… they had the habit of prayer down.. the issue was that the model they followed was that of Pharisees… who loved to be seen praying… They prayed not only publically in the synagogues but also on the street corners ...
    The Hebrew word for seen is phaino.. means to shine...to cause .... to be fully known or revealed....
    Jesus was not forbidding public prayers, but He warning of the dangers of praying in public to be seen and heard by others...
    When I was in India a number of years ago - I remember waking up in the morning to different call of worship from 3 different Religions... the Muslims had their Mosques had the microphone was blaring,...the Buddhists temples calling their people for prayer.. and the Christians rang their chapel bell...
    The problem is that we can make prayer about us...
    When it came to prayer the Jews believed that the longer and more elaborate the prayer, the more likely it was to be heard by God...they were also notorious for repeating phrases and of adding adjectives to the name of God, thinking they would be heard by Him...
    The problem when we direct our prayer to our hearers.. ..our prayers can sound like informercials rather than heart felt petitions…
    During America’s Civil War, the United States Senate chaplain irritated many senators by his habit of advising them on the conduct of the war. His prayers turned into sermons. In disgust, Senator Saulsbury of Delaware moved this resolution (which was not passed):
    Resolved: That the Chaplain of the Senate be respectfully requested hereafter to pray to and supplicate God in our behalf, and not to lecture Him, inform Him what to do, or state to Him, under pretense of prayer, his (the said Chaplain’s) opinion in reference to His duty as the Almighty; and that the said Chaplain be further requested, as aforesaid, not, under the form of prayer, to lecture the Senate in relation to questions before the body.
    Jesus warned us not to we pray like the Hypocrites…the actors... who heap empty words upon empty phrases...
    ..… Jesus saw prayer as a place where we can simply be who we are— be authentic and to talk to God as we would talk to someone we love.
    Charles Spurgeon once said that..
    “.. prayers are measured by weight, and not by length. Many of the most prevailing prayers have been as short as they were strong.” (Spurgeon)
    How do we approach prayer?
    Matthew 6:6 ESV
    But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    Prayer should be private first and then public...
    But when you pray...enter into your inner chamber -- a private room.. This was literally a room in the house without windows opening to the outside...
    Jesus says go into the storeroom and shut the door! And what do you find on the other side of that door? The specific ancient Greek word “**room**” was used for a storeroom where treasures were kept.
    Go into that room and then shut the door.and you will find God…
    Deuteronomy 4:29 (ESV)
    29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
    You will not just an abstract God, but your heavenly Father. He was already waiting for you.
    Jesus is doing the Remix that..
    Prayer is about a man entering into the presence of God to have communion with God and not about praying before others...

    Jesus balances the the levels of Prayer and the levels fasting

    .
    On the seventh of November we are going to be having a special service…It is the Global day prayer — and it is time to prayer t for the persecute church.... It is going to be day of fasting.. Fast a meal and spend that time in prayer.... We had a day fasting for 9/11 and there are great promises with fasting..
    2 chron 7:14
    Jesus deals with fasting..
    Matthew 6:16 ESV
    16 “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.
    Notice again.. it says when you fast…Giving, Praying and Fasting were foundational to Judaism… and foundational to Christianity.. It was part of the apostle teaching.
    A Couple of weeks ago talking about apostles teaching… What came up was something called Didache.. The Didache is an ancient Christian handbook going back to Second Century…And, interestingly that in it there are instructions on fasting.. .. it says… that the hypocrites...(playactors)fasted on Mondays and Thursdays (those were Market days!) and Christians were (instructed) to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays...
    Fasting was a regular practice in the early church.. the difference is that…the Pharisees disfigured their faces to show others they were fasting... They did everything to be recognized as being spiritual.. they missed the point of the exercise..
    Jesus said when you fast.. anoint your head and your face.
    Matthew 6:17–18 ESV
    17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 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.
    Fasting is all about preparing the heart.. It means is giving up something temporal like food… or activity.. in order to gain something greater..
    .. it is preparing the heart to prayer... it is preparing the heart to hear God's word... It is preparing church for revival…
    When we give us the temporal for the eternal...Jesus tells us that there will be a reward..The reward is not to be seen by men but be seen by your heavenly father....
    Conclusion!
    Jesus is teaching us how to find the level… How to live out our faith in a practical way that brings glory to God..
    Matthew 6:33 ESV
    33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
    The word kingdom there literally means rule or reign.. A kingdom is a place where a king rules. To seek the kingdom of God is to seek the rule and the reign of God over your entire life.
    When it comes to these practices…that are mixed and amplified in the world… We just have to start putting them into practice...
    When it comes to generosity… let us continue to faithful in our giving… We don’t make a big deal about giving around here....
    Next week We will be putting up an offering box at the back the church… We haven’t been passing the offering plates since 2020 and This church has been faithful in giving…
    2. When it comes to prayer… lets perserver in prayer..
    Peter Kreeft in his book Prayer for Beginners, tells us “The single most important piece of advice about prayer is one word: Begin!” Or begin again, I would add. Begin haltingly. Begin awkwardly. Begin stumblingly. Begin with baby steps....make a decision right now to begin or to begin again.
    3. When it comes to fasting… If you have never spent time fasting… Here is an opportunity…
    Jesus tell us that is what it means to find the level… It is to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.
      • Matthew 5:43–44ESV

      • Matthew 5:48ESV

      • Matthew 6:1ESV

      • Galatians 6:9ESV

      • Matthew 6:2ESV

      • Matthew 6:3–4ESV

      • Matthew 6:19–20ESV

      • Matthew 6:5ESV

      • Matthew 6:6ESV

      • Matthew 6:17–18ESV

      • Matthew 6:33ESV

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