Matthew 6:1–4 (ESV)
1 “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. 2 “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. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Pastor Chris acknowledged that we can struggle with following the disciplines of the Lord because we develop a closed heart. It’s natural for us to make fasting, or tithing, or prayer simply an obligation – this is legalism and it comes from an unopened heart – like a flower bud not yet in bloom. Jesus taught us how to live meaningful, thriving lives, open hearted, when he gave the Sermon on the Mount and shared the Beatitudes.
Beatitudes are the expectations of life. Jesus shows us how to live our faith in an open, generous way. As you read, not the word “when” appears before each action. “When” is the expected behavior. Graciously, God has built in a reward for each activity we are expected to do. These treasures are the way we account for, and add incentive to, our daily living. Follow these keys to an open heart and your life with flourish while the treasure you seek is promised from God:
Four Keys of an Open Heart
- Generously Give – it is impossible to out-give God, try it
- Shut-the-door Prayer Life – God built you for one-on-one relationship with Him, make the space
- Fast – fasting unlocks your heart to the deeper things of God
Our prayers together, as a church body, for this Awaken Fast are:
- Personal renewal and sensitivity on our hearts to receive more of God
- Revival in the Church of America
- Renewed heart to reach the 253 with the love and truth of Jesus
- Salvation for our family, friends, co-workers, and community to have saving relationship with Jesus
- Invest – store up treasures for eternity
Illustration of the dot and the line. Our life represents a dot, eternity represents an unending line – live on the line, not just the dot. Treasures that we store (invest) now in eternity are the rewards of an open heart and generous hand.
Having an open heart demonstrates that we want to make our life count. Like the Beatitudes, God expects us to spend the time and money He gives us in the ways He shows us. Here are some keys to living life His way:
The 6 Treasure Principle keys:
1. God owns everything; I’m His money manager.
2. My heart always goes where I put God’s money.
3. Heaven–the New Earth, not the present one–is my home.
4. I should live today not for the dot, but for the line.
5. Giving is the only antidote to Materialism.
6. God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
(The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn)
- How do you see other Christians living life with expectation? What are some ways that they show their focus on God’s priorities?
- What do you think is the best way to live with eternity in mind? How does this living change how you might use your time and money?
- How is fasting going? What have you changed in your lifestyle to meet the meal and prayer expectations of the Awaken Fast? What are some sudden realizations you’ve had?
- Is God first in my life?
- Do I love what God loves?
- How will I live this week with an open heart?