August 9, 2009
INTRODUCTION – Wrap up/Review of Lord’s Prayer
The Lord Jesus Christ started a revolution in three and a half years through a life of prayer and dependence upon the Father and the Holy Spirit that is continuing on today in most of the world’s cultures and peoples. And He has invited us to join Him as we learn to pray like He prayed. He has invited us to bar His instruments to bring heaven’s life and glory down to this sin wracked earth.
But lest we think that now because we understand better what the Lord’s prayer or model prayer means – – that we will automatically begin to pray that way – – Jesus gives us some added tips or warnings ore reality checks to help us develop the kind of lifestyle that must be in place for this kind of prayer to kick in.
Please know that we cannot separate our prayer life from the rest of our life. They feed off each other.
I want to talk to you this morning about the relationship effective prayer has with food, treasures, eyes and idols. Turn with me to Matthew 6:16-24
Here’s the first lifestyle principle of an effective prayer life – – food!
I. Effective prayer requires a lifestyle of fasting vs. 16-18 “whenever”
A. How not to fast = for other’s notice and approval/reward
B. How to fast = solely for God’s notice and approval and rewards!
C. Two kinds of fasting in Jesus’s earthly life and ministry: 1. set part times to seek God alone such as the 40 days in the Wilderness – Matt. 4:1f. 2. Times where Jesus decided that His ministry should not be interrupted to eat. Whether that was just for one meal or perhaps two or three meals is hard to tell. John 4:31-34 (before and after context)
So there should be occasional set apart times and regular shorter times (e.g. a meal or two) of fasting.
Those of you who pray for this church to rise up to its calling and destiny in Christ – – please pray that we will learn to fast as our Master did.
II. Effective prayer requires the right kind of investments – vs. 19-21
A. What not to do and why – vs. 19
B. What to do and why – vs. 20
C. Is saving $$ wrong? No. Prov. 6:6-11 – example of ant. Prov. 13:22 “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Tis hard to do without saving and investing, unless you solely leave them land. But you have to have money stored somewhere to purchase land.
D. The key word here is “treasure” or “treasures”. It’s ok to put a little money aside each month for a rainy day or perhaps for retirement years; but there needs to be minimal heart ties to this money. If you investment company folds or your investor takes your money and flies to some far off exotic island never to return, oh well! Jesus told us this can happen. If you are the primary bread winner and you can afford some reasonable life insurance for your family, that’s ok. But it should be reasonable; and you shouldn’t be attached to it or put hope in it. A treasure is something in our life that grabs our attention; that holds our affections; that determines our pursuits and priorities.
E. Probably the clearest negative image of the wrong kind of treasure is the slimy skinny being in “the Lord of the Rings” who desperately wanted that ring.
F. There is a myth out there in the Christian world that you can have a heart for Jesus; and yet spend most of your money on yourself and your family; and just kind of give Jesus the left overs here and there. That friends according to this verse and this principle is nothing but a myth. Your heart will always follow your treasure.
If you find yourself continually evaluating your lifestyle so you can sow more and more of your finances into the kingdom – – and every year the percentage you give increases a little more – – the majority of which I believe should go to your local church – – then your heart will truly be for Jesus. There will be no disconnect in the songs you sing on Sunday morning and the check your write or the credit charges you make on Monday.
Effective praying follows heavenly investing. If your financial lifestyle is centered around the kingdom of God, you will not find it hard to pray. If you sing to Jesus on Sundays, but live like the Joneses on Monday through Saturdays, then prayer will be merely a religious concept or ritual to you.
So if I’m right, then one of the best ways to stir up your passion and mine for Jesus and increase our heart for Him is by investing and sowing into His kingdom purposes on the earth more consistently and more sacrificially, for truly where our treasure is – certainly there will our hearts be also. AS Jim Eliot – the missionary martyr to the Auca Indians said, “He is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”
Food, treasure, …”eyes”
III. Effective Prayer Requires Disciplined Seeing – vs. 22,23
A. What you see is what you get! What you see or better what you see and then choose to dwell on or respond to determines the spiritual status, fruitfulness and usefulness of your whole body.
So if I get up in the morning and first thing go get the newspaper; come back in and sit down with my coffee, Bible and newspaper; and intend to read my Bible, but notice the headline that says the company I have bought stock in, or perhaps the company I work for has gone under – – then I have the thought that I should get on the internet and find out more details…The next thing you know I have blown 30 precious minutes and now it is time to jump in the shower, and run off to work. So my body now has not been refreshed and cleansed by the word of God; instead it is wracked with fear and anxiety; and to make matters worse, instead of worshipping on the way to work with a worship cd, or praying, or listening to K-life, I search for news channels that will tell me more about this situation, and by the time I get to work, I’m a stress cadet, and really not much different than anyone else there who doesn’t know the Lord at all and lives in fear and anxiety about the economy, and their little place in it.
The writer of the Proverbs put it this way in ch. 4 vs. 25-27, “Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.” Illustration of chocolate cake on the counter and time to pray.
Food, treasure, eyes, “idols”
IV. Effective Prayer requires total submission to the right master – vs. 24 (and a healthy fear or dread of the wrong one).
A. General Principle: No one, no matter how hard they may try, and no matter how sincere they may appear to be, can serve two masters. God wired us to worship one – Himself. Not only can we not pull this off; but we will actually end up hating or despising the one that we give the short end of the stick to.
B. This is especially true with trying to serve or worship God and at the same time serve or worship the Master of wealth or riches or mammon – depending on the translation you use. The “cannot” here does not mean you shall not or you are prohibited to. It means it is impossible to.
C. What is “Mammon”? K.J. = “mammon”; NIV = “Money”; RSV = “Mammon”; NASV = “Mammon”; Nasv updated = “wealth”; the Message = “money”
1. Aramaic = mammon, i.e. wealth, etc., personified as an object of worship (NASV updated in margin);
2. The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible and Vine’s also speak to the personification of wealth or riches in this passage.
3. One choir noted that the word behind the NIV translation “money” is the Aramaic and Hebrew root that indicates “that in which one has confidence. Here, money is personified as a slave owner.”
4. Barclay identifies mammon as a god
5. C.Peter Wagner goes further and says it is a demonic being.
6. Craig Hill and Earl Pitts in their book, “Wealth, Riches and Money – God’s Biblical Principles of Finance” says of mammon, p. 13-15
7. Milton in Paradise lost says of Mammon, “Mammon led them on, Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell From Heaven: for even in Heaven his looks and thoughts Were always downward bent, admiring more The riches of heaven’s pavement, trodden gold, Than aught divine or holy else enjoyed In vision beatific.”
Will Rogers said of money, “Money and women are the most sought after and the least known about of any two things we have.”
8. The Bible never says Mammon is a demon. It does say it is a force that is anti-God; and that will most certainly keep us from fulfilling the greatest commandment unless we learn to despise and forsake it.
D. Prayer is almost a waste of time if this isn’t in order
E. Effective prayer will only be found in the life of the person who loves God and hates Mammon or the idolatrous practice of wrapping your life around money and things.
F. I’ve been spending a lot of time meditating in James of late. Every week I meet individually with Maynard and with Rob and we have been reading a chapter and meditating on it and responding back to the Lord from it. If you want to learn to hate Mammon – this force that causes people to wrap their lives around the pursuit of money and things and in the process – losing everything that really matters – read James.
G. Frederick Saunders says that “Mammon is the largest slave-holder in the world.” Ambrose Bierce, an American writer, journalist and editor at the turn of the 20th century gave a definition of Mammon, “The god of the world’s leading religion. The chief temple is in the city of New York.”
Personally I do not believe Mammon is a demon. Rather I believe it is a system of thought that is propagated and controlled and inspired by demons. It may even be what is referred to as Babylon in the book of Revelation. And it has been for all of history one of the primary and successful tools of the evil one to derail men and women and young people whom God chose to join His revolution, but instead wasted their lives pursuing an empty dream and a false security.
CONCLUSION – GOD IS CALLING YOU AND I THIS MORNING TO A GREATER LIFE OF FRUIFULNESS. HE IS CALLING US TO JOIN HIS REVOLUTION – RESCUING PEOPLE OUT OF THE TREACHEROUS RULE OF THE GOD OF THIS WORLD. This revolution expands and succeeds primarily on the prayers of its revolutionaries. Prayer that are possible and effective because the revolutionaries learned somewhere along the way how to make fasting a part of their lifestyle; where to amor in their investments; how to train their eyes to stay focused on the things of the kingdom; and finally how to steer clear of the power of mammon.