The Right Focus for Approaching God
“… but lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:20-21, NKJV; also see, Mt. 6:1-21).
Our text is a part of Jesus Christ’s “Sermon On The Mount.” In his sermon, Jesus taught the disciples and the crowd what it truly meant “to live in relationship” with God the Father, and about how God wanted true believers to live in this world—with both other believers and those who “stood outside of the faith.” In his sermon, Jesus gave clarity to the word of God as He confronted the “customs and practices” of the various religious orders that misrepresented “the true word of God”.
In our scriptural text, Mt. 6:1-21, Jesus highlights for his disciples four areas of their spiritual life development that He expected them to grow into: (1) Charitable Deeds, (2) A Fervent Prayer Life, (3) Periods of Fasting Before God, and (4) Living With Their Heart Fixed On the Things Of God. In His teaching of his disciples, Jesus repeatedly uses the word “when” to denote that He expects them to master or to grow up in these areas of their lives as they follow Him. As the Master Teacher addresses these four areas in which He expects His disciples to grow, He looks at each in the light of “earthly and religious practices” and how His disciples should live to experience God’s power and presence in their lives as they follow Him. Let’s take a closer look at Jesus’s teaching in these four areas.
How to Experience God's Power:
1.) Doing Charitable Deeds (Mt. 6:1-4): Jesus reminds his disciples that as they follow Him, charitable deeds will be common place in their lives and mission. As such they are not to bring attention to themselves, as other pretentious believers do. Instead, their focus should be on glorifying God. (Lord help us to remember the same as we seek to bring glory to Your name. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.)
2.) Approaching God’s Presence In Prayer (Mt. 6:5-14): Regarding the matter of prayer, Jesus reminds His disciples that prayer will be an integral part of their lives as they continuously seek to walk in the ways of the Lord. They will continuously need to find that “sacred place and space” for communion with God. Their time of prayer is for “seeking God’s face” for their needs, not to get applause from on-lookers. (Almighty God, help us to remember the same as we seek Your face in prayer. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.)
3.) “Moreover When You Fast” (Mt. 6:16-18): Jesus tells His disciples that when you fast, remember that your fasting is a “sacred relationship” between you and God the Father. It is not an outward display to bring attention to yourself. Jesus teaches His disciples that when their fast is “God-focused,” God the Father will honor their fast and bless their lives. (Father, may Your Spirit lead us into that sacred place and space when we fast that we may experience Your power and presence in our lives. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.)
4.) “For Where Your Treasure Is, There Your Heart Will Be Also” (Mt. 6:19-21): As Jesus continues to teach his disciples about the life to which He is calling them, He brings them to the place where they must be fully committed to experience God’s power and presence in their lives. Jesus tells his disciples that, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Jesus reminds his disciples that if they desire to continuously experience God’s power and presence in their lives they must learn to trust God completely with their lives as they follow Him. (Father God, continue to strengthen us each day that You grant us grace, that we may walk in the ways of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with fully surrendered hearts, that we might continually experience Your power and presence in our lives. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.)
Prayer: Father God, help us to walk as You would appoint us to do so, in order that we might experience Your continual power and presence in our lives. In Jesus name we pray and ask it all. Amen.
Rev. Larron D. Jackson, DMin.
Ministry & Missions Coach