Dear San Lo Community, an update for the week of July 22, 2012…
Thank you to Pastor Brian Tekawa for the message from Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18, “Audience of One.” Continuing this series from Matthew, chapters 5 to 7, called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is teaching His disciples from a hillside about how to live as citizens of His kingdom. For the follower of Christ, those who believe in and receive Jesus as their Savior, the saddest and most tragic circumstance is to think that many people will not be in heaven. Jesus towards the end of this sermon says in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” How can this be? Isn’t every person who calls Jesus, “Lord” allowed into the kingdom of heaven? Apparently not. Jesus teaches His followers about RELIGION and REWARDS to avoid this unhappy ending. As a Christian, you are a follower of Christ, a citizen of His kingdom and it is God’s desire for you to live a full, purposeful, and meaningful life. By doing the right things for the right reasons you will experience God’s desire for you as His child. There are three points to remember in answering this question, “What is the right thing to do?”
1) Don’t be RELIGIOUS. (v.1) “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” Do the right things for the right reason. Jesus recognized that the RELIGIOUS leaders of His time performed their duties with an impure motive in mind. They rightly performed their duties, but…They were doing the right things for the wrong reasons. Jesus warned His followers about the motivations of their RELIGIOUS leaders. Jesus observed that these leaders were practicing their righteousness before men. God does not need us to do things for Him but desires us to be with Him. As followers of Christ, it is not about doing things for Him, but about God being with you in all you do. Jesus desires His followers to be in a RELATIONSHIP with Him not to do RELIGIOUS activities for Him. The duties which the leaders carried out were not wrong but the reasons they did it were. These customs of giving to the poor, praying, and fasting are found in verses 2, 5, and 16. Notice Jesus says “when” not “if” in His instructions. It was not a matter of “if” His follower would do these things or not, but “when.” Jesus desires His followers to help the poor, pray, and fast but with the right motivation. If we are not careful, our relationship with Jesus can easily turn into doing “RELIGIOUS” things FOR Him instead of building a RELATIONSHIP WITH Him.
2) Don’t seek the REWARDS of this world. (vv. 2, 5, 16) “Truly I say to you, they have their REWARD in full” The religious leaders were doing the right things but sought the wrong reward. They desired recognition from their audience and enjoyed the praise, status, and power they received from them and forgot that their real audience, the “Audience of One,” God. The REWARDS of this world are difficult to resist for all of us. Who wouldn’t want praise, higher status, wealth, or power? Do you sometimes find yourself caught in the same trap of seeking the REWARDS of this world like money, prestige, or influence? Isn’t it easy at times to do the right things for the wrong reasons? It is easy to forget we are serving an “Audience of One”. Jesus said the leaders would be rewarded for good deeds but the REWARD they received from this world would be all they got and nothing more. It is easy to get caught up into thinking that we are serving God because we feed the hungry, donate money to the church, go on mission’s trips, attend or lead Bible studies, because of the REWARDS of being recognized by other people for our acts of service and it feels good.
3) Do seek the REWARDS of God. (vv. 4, 6, 18) “Your Father who sees in secret will REWARD you.” What is a reward from God? When you realize how much God loves you it is a natural response to want to love Him in return. Your joy in life comes from fulfilling His desires rather than your own. You find it REWARDING to know you have made a difference in someone’s life.
If you have witnessed a life changed by God you know how moving that REWARD is. Beware of living RELIGIOUSLY, don’t live for the REWARDS of this world but live for the REWARDS of God.
Thank you to Gloria Kama for heading up another Vacation Bible School this past week. Thank you to Nadine Yamamoto for sharing what was taught in the VBS program called, Sky: Everything is possible with God. Mark 10:27, so No matter… (Mon) who you are… (Tue) how you feel… (Wed) what people do… (Thu) what happens… (Fri) where you are…trust God! Because everything is possible with God! These Bible points were made through Bible verses: 1 Samuel 16:7, John 14:1, Isaiah 40:31, Romans 8:38, and Joshua 1:9.
Have a blessed week in relationship with an audience of one, God.
Stan, for SLZJCC