Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Jesus requires far more than the law of Moses required. Under Moses you only had to love your neighbor. Under Jesus you have to love your enemy as well. He gives an explanation of the love that he requires by saying, Do good to them that hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that which despitefully use you and persecute you. The love that Jesus describes is always an action. Just as faith is an act, so love is an act as well. Modern Christians mostly say that love is an emotion, a feeling. And to do the acts that Jesus describes is just good works. Many speak despairingly of these good works because they believe in faith without works, and in love without works. In other words they believe in dead faith and in dead love.
James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”.
Look at what Jesus and John said about love and thus defining what it is.
John 14:21-24 “He that has my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas said unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loves me not keeps not my sayings: and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me”.
1 John 5:2-3 “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous”.
Both Jesus and John describe love as being an act. To love God and to love the children of God is to obey God’s commandments. Jesus said the result of loving your enemies is that, “So you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for he makes his sun to rise on the just and the unjust”. Only those who love through obedience to God’s commandments are the children of God. Jesus taught salvation through a living love and a living faith that reveals itself through obedience to God’s commandments. The love that the Pharisee Paul described is a false human love. It is neither God’s love nor is it the word of God. God shows his love and his goodness to all people, to the just and to the unjust. So we are to do the same if we have God’s love in us.
Matthew 5:46-47 “For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? Do not even the publicans so?”
It takes no great ability to love those who love you and to greet those who greet you. Even the worst sinners do that. There is no reward for doing this. Jesus promises eternal rewards in heaven for loving those who hate you and who treat you shamefully. There is no reward for greeting those who greet you, but for greeting those who ignore you and who hate you. God’s love requires actions that are not possible in mere human strength or ability. We seek God’s love in prayer and meditation. We get a blueprint clearly on the inside of us from the example of Jesus and others in the Bible, and then we act it out to the best of our ability trusting in the Lord all the while. This is the type of love that Jesus will both accept and reward us for having.
Matthew 5:48 “Be therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”.
The goal that we have set before us by Jesus is perfection. No one ever reaches it in this lifetime, but it is the goal set before us. We will attain to much more by attempting to be perfect than if we try only to better ourselves somewhat. The higher the goal the higher the attainment level will be. As I attempt to reach perfection I see only how imperfect and flawed that I am. When I look at the perfection of my Heavenly Father and of Jesus Christ, I am ashamed at how inferior I am.
This is why the law of the old testament is necessary to show people their sins and defects. The law is perfect and we are far from perfect. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus presents perfection, and when we attempt to obey this sermon, we see how imperfect that we really are. Our cry will be, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” We will cry to God, “Lord have mercy on me a sinner!”
This modern era is marked by pride and self- satisfaction. The people believe themselves righteous without true repentance and holy without obeying the commandments of God. Many will call what I teach here as being condemnation. They believe themselves born again children of God without ever being truly converted. The reason being that we have rejected the law of the old testament and the law taught by Jesus Christ.
Matthew 6:1-4 “Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when you do your alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when you do alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does: that your alms may be in secret: and your Father which sees in secret himself shall reward you openly”.
Here Jesus is speaking against hypocrites who give to the poor with the motivation of being seen by men. These people will receive no reward for their giving. The only motive that pleases God is the desire to please the Lord and no one else. So when you give to the poor do not do it to be seen by other people, but by God. Then you will be rewarded openly when the time for that comes.
Two People can do the very same act at the very same time, and one is doing a righteous deed and the other is doing an evil deed. What makes a deed evil or good is the motive of the heart. What is the heart motive with which something is done? One man can give $5 to a needy person and he does it out of compassion and love for Jesus. He will be rewarded for his deed. Another man can give $100 to the very same needy person, but his motive was so that others would know about it and think well of him. He will not be rewarded, and the outwardly good deed is in fact an evil deed because his motive was selfish.
We need to take the utmost care to purify our motives. This takes time and effort. Someone who desires to practise true religion has got to spend a lot of time in prayer and meditation. These things don’t just happen in an instant. We are very complex in our makeup. It takes conscious effort and persistence to change. It takes time. These are safety mechanisms that God created within us. We are meant to operate on habit. And to change these habits requires much time and conscious effort on our part. It can be done but not easily and not quickly. It is an act of our wills.
Matthew 6:5-6 “And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly”.
In a religious society like the Jews had, I can picture in my mind people who would actually stand on a street corner and pray, to be seen of men. The temptation would be there so that people would think that you are holy or someone special. People do the very same thing today in church services and on television and radio. There was a time in my life when I went to prayer services and I was good at praying. The temptation was there to appear holy or special. I keep away from praying in public now days because of what Jesus taught here.
Again it comes down to the heart motive of why we pray in public. Is it to be seen of men? or is our motive pure and holy before the Lord? Jesus tells us to pray in secret so that only the Father knows. Yet today we hear stories and testimonies where people tell others how many hours that they pray, and the experiences that they have had. Much of this is a desire to let other people know what we have done in secret, and by doing this we lose our reward.
By having the wrong motives in prayer we lose our reward. This is another reason why our prayers are not answered. Jesus said if we pray only to the Father in secret, that our Father in secret would reward us openly. Part of the open reward is the answer to our prayers. Why do we need to let other people know what we do in private? And if we do it then we need to be certain that our heart motive is to teach others to pray and not to be seen of men. Only when the desire to be recognized and to be seen of men is destroyed are we ready to speak about these things in public. For then the motives of the heart will be correct.
Matthew 6:7-8 “But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not like unto them: for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask him”.
Many people use vain repetitions. The Roman Catholics pray hail Marys and the rosary. These are vain repetitions. Many protestants have written prayers, prayer lists, and prayer books. These also become vain repetitions. What Jesus is after is the heart motive and condition. Vain repetitions come from the head. There is little or no feeling in it.
When a person truly prays from the heart they are speaking what they feel deep inside. That is why a simple prayer from the heart can be so effective like, “Lord have mercy upon me a sinner!” God is not interested in your much speaking or the beauty of the words of your prayer. God only wants to hear what you truly feel and think deep inside of your heart. These are the prayers that God will cherish and answer. This is perhaps why people are drawn so much to the Book of Psalms. It is full of prayers from the heart of people going through difficult life experiences. These are the very best of prayers.
Prayers don’t need to be lengthy or poetic to be heard. They just need to be spoken in complete honesty and frankness. The more direct the prayer and the more feeling woven into it, the better the prayer. If we truly desire to get our prayers heard and answered then we need to learn to pray from deep within the heart.
James 5:16-18 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth for the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit”.
Elijah wasn’t some super saint so special that we can’t do as he did. He was of like passions just as we are. Yet he was able to pray the heavens closed for three and a half years and then to pray them open again. Be careful to remember that Elijah did not do this of his own accord but upon instructions from God. So many today are praying for things that God never instructed them personally to pray for. This is another reason why prayers are not answered.
Elijah prayed fervently from the heart and his prayers were heard. A prayer must be both effectual and fervent in order to be heard and to be answered. Until we meet these qualifications our prayers shall remain unanswered.
Matthew 6:9-13 “After this manner therefore pray: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen”.
This is the manner in which we are to pray. We are not to pray this as a vain repetition. Rather this is a blueprint for how our prayers are to be modeled. Many churches have the entire congregation repeat this prayer in unison. They think that they honor and obey Jesus by doing so. They do not, they have only turned his prayer blueprint into a vain repetition.
Prayer is not to be addressed to Jesus. It is to be addressed to Our Father which art in heaven. It is very important to understand who your prayer is addressed to. If you are uncertain who your prayer is addressed to or have addressed it to the wrong person, then your prayer will not be heard. So be clear as to who Jesus said to pray to. When you send an e-mail you must be certain that the e-mail address is correct, or your e-mail will not get through.
Hallowed be thy name. Prayer should begin with praise and worship to the name of our Father which is in heaven. Jesus prayed to his Father and he called him Father too. So we are to do the very same thing. We are to praise and worship the name of our Heavenly Father. Spend some time just speaking and singing praises unto the name of your Heavenly Father. Worship his name. Jesus did not instruct us to pray to him nor to praise and to worship his name. We are to do this to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus. It is important that we follow the instructions that Jesus gave in order to enjoy the results of having our prayers answered.
Thy kingdom come. We are to daily pray that God’s kingdom come. The plan and the purpose of God is for his kingdom to be established in the hearts of men and women, and upon the earth as well. It is not God’s will for this world to remain in it’s fallen state. It is God’s will for his kingdom to come and to be established upon this earth. In this day and age where the entire world almost, has rejected the Lordship of Jesus Christ, it seems apparent that his kingdom will be established on earth during the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ, and in the new heavens and the new earth. To bring this about there will come a seven year period of great tribulation that will come upon the earth. This will judge and cleanse the earth of wickedness.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In heaven Father reigns supreme. His will is done and there is no one to oppose his will. The laws that govern the kingdom of heaven are the same words that proceeded from the mouth of Jesus Christ. The laws that Jesus spoke and commanded to his disciples is the very same law that governs heaven. So we are to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
People pray for the people of this earth, for politicians and leaders, for Christians, and for the heathen. But I have noticed a great wrong being committed. They pray and ask God to do things that are their own will and not the will of God. During the American Civil War both the Northerners and the Southerners prayed to the same God, asking him to destroy their enemies and to protect themselves. They were praying for God to destroy their enemies who for the most part were professing Christians just as themselves. And those enemies were praying to the same God beseeching him to destroy them as well. How could these prayers be the will of God?
Christian people pray for things thinking that they know what God’s will is. They do not, at least not when it is divorced from the written word of God. Right now there is an election going on in the USA for president of the United States. Many Christians pray for Donald Trump to win and many pray for Hillary Clinton to win. None of these prayers are God’s will. He never told us to determine what his will is. Jesus told us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. The correct way to pray is, “Father concerning the election let your will be done. If you desire Hillary Clinton to win then let it be so. And if you want Donald Trump to win let it be so. Father let your will be established in the USA just as it is in heaven”.
It is not for us to decide who will be a better president. Right now the USA happens to be under judgement for turning it’s back on God. Even the church has done this. They do their own will and not the will of Jesus Christ, even in the way that they pray. When God judges a nation he gives them wicked rulers who will make decisions that will bring punishment upon that nation. So whoever you think is the worst choice for president may be the person that God has chosen, for the very reason that they will be used as his instruments to bring judgement upon this nation.
All around us we hear people praying for God to bless the United States of America. That is definitely not the will of God. The USA has abandoned God and it is God’s will to bring judgement and destruction upon this nation. If God did not judge and punish this nation then he would owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. If God did not judge and punish this nation then Tyre and Sidon and Capernaum would all have righteous accusations to bring before the Lord on judgement day. So the only correct way to pray is for Father’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
So the very best way to pray is to pray the words that Jesus Christ spoke. Pray that his every word and command be established on earth as it is in heaven. Open your Bible to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Revelation and pray the words that Jesus spoke. Pray for them to be accomplished in the lives of people and in the events of this world. Do not be proud and vain to think that you know what God’s will is. Don’t think that God is your personal servant to do your bidding. He is not. You are only licensed to pray as Jesus commanded to pray, no more and no less.
To pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven is to trust him completely. It is to relinquish our own desire to control things and to allow God to be God. People always seem to think that they know God’s will concerning world events. We do not and cannot know until he reveals it to us. Just let go and let God be in control. Be willing to accept whatever he wills to do and to accomplish in this world.
Give us this day our daily bread. Jesus lived day to day by faith, and he taught his disciples to also live day to day by faith. This is exactly what professing Christians are careful NOT to do today. Professing Christians live just as the worldly people live. Instead of a day to day faith, they live week to week, month to month, and year to year. Instead of giving everything away to the poor, they gather homes, properties, bank accounts, investments, gold and silver, and all other types of material things. They receive paychecks that they trust in instead of the Lord.
Show me the Christian who literally prays and lives by “Give us this day our daily bread”. Yet this is the way that Jesus and his disciples lived, and it is how he commands all of his disciples to live, including today. It is a wonderful thing to see the Lord provide through miraculous means on a day to day basis. I have lived this way for the past seven and a half years in a row, and many times before that as well. I have seen some of the greatest miracles of provision that I could ever desire to see. I know for certain that the Lord keeps his promises to those who trust him because I have trusted him. “Taste and see that the Lord is good and that his mercy endures forever”. I not only trust him for my day to day needs, but I feed about 40 other people as well. Only God could do that.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Jesus didn’t teach us to simply pray for our own sins to be forgiven. That is what human nature does for it is self-centered and only thinks about itself. Jesus taught that we pray for our own sins to be forgiven as we forgive others their sins against us. If we do not forgive others their sins then our own sins will not be forgiven either. And our own sins will be forgiven us AS we forgive others. Just as we treat others is how God will treat us. This is an awesome and even a terrible thing to think about. It instills fear for God and what he will do to me on the day of judgement if I don’t obey what Jesus says. The fear of God is a good thing. In Proverbs it says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and it is the way of life.
The worst type of false teacher is like Joseph Prince. He teaches that when you are born again that all of your sins past, present, and future are already forgiven you. He says that he never prays to ask for forgiveness since all of his sins are already forgiven. By doing this he calls Jesus Christ a liar. He not only denies and disregards the command of Jesus to daily pray for forgiveness, but he teaches others to do so also. He is overturning the faith of perhaps millions of people. There are many other false teachers out there also.
And lead us not into temptation. I will confess my faults. I have not daily prayed that the Lord lead me not into temptation. Remember that it was the Spirit that drove Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil forty days and forty nights. The Lord does not tempt anyone but he does lead them to be tempted of the devil. Why is the devil in this world in the first place? Why did God allow the devil into the garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve? Why did God create man on a world inhabited by the devil and his angels? It is the will of God that man be tempted by them. Only in this way can he know who truly loves him and who does not love him.
However Jesus offers a way of escape to those who pray daily to not be led into temptation, but to be delivered from evil. The modern church no longer does this earnestly from the heart. I had a Baptist pastor tell me a few years ago that his congregation was a healthy congregation, sin was rampant within his congregation, but they were a healthy congregation. What a contradiction of terms! A congregation in which sin is rampant is a sick congregation and not a healthy one. The entire modern church is full of sin and rebellious people who do not obey the teaching and commands of Jesus Christ.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and they glory forever. Amen. Prayer is to end with praise and worship as well as to begin with it. Disciples of Jesus Christ are to be full of praise and worship. The nation of Israel had the Book of Psalms that they sang in praise and worship. Nothing has changed in the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. All of God’s people praise worship and adore him. Today the problem is that the people sing praises to God but their hearts are far from him.
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.
We already have dealt with this issue. It is straight forward and to the point. If you want God to forgive you your sins against him, then you must first forgive men their sins against you. And if you refuse to forgive men their sins against you, then your Heavenly Father will not forgive your sins against him. You can claim to be born again and saved all that you want to, but if you refuse to forgive men their sins against you, then God will not forgive you your sins, and you will go to hell for all eternity.
Matthew 6:16-18 “Moreover when you fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; That you appear not unto men to fast, but unto your Father which sees in secret: and your Father , which sees in secret, shall reward you openly”.
Fasting is required of the disciples of Jesus Christ. It is to be a private thing and not an outward show to seem religious to other people. Again Jesus is dealing with the heart issue of whether you do it for God alone, or you do it to be seen and admired by men. To announce fasts and to gather groups to fast many times defeats the purpose. Jesus says that fasting is to be a private activity between you and God. If you do it before men then all the reward that you would receive from it is lost.
I’ve seen churches where the staff and the leaders went on retreats, and had to fast so many days each year to remain in leadership positions. I do not agree with this at all. They did it as it were publicly by letting everyone know about it. So it became will worship without any rewards whatsoever from the Lord. Again, Jesus told us that fasting is to be done in secret, and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly. We need to follow the guidelines set forth by Jesus Christ and stop making our own guidelines. Men always want to change what Jesus said and to create their own new way of doing things.
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