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SOTM 24—THE Prayer

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For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.

"Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven,   hallowed be your name.Your kingdom comes, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:9-13).


 Introductory thoughts

  • The Lord’s Prayer may be understood as a summary of the gospel itself.
  • Notice, there is no mention of doctrine or specific commandments.
  • The faith has been distilled to its essence: the relationship of child to father.
  •  This prayer is the opposite of repetitious babbling.
  • It is not wrong to pray the prayer verbatim—Jesus seems to be encouraging us to do so. Didache: “Do not pray as the hypocrites. Rather, as the Lord commanded in His gospel… Pray in this manner three times daily during the day.” Didache 1.379


  • “Father”—we approach God as our Father, through the work of the Son, by the power of the Spirit. When this is our understanding, then we are praying “in Jesus’ name.” (Note: The original Christians did not “sign off” their prayers with the formula “in Jesus name,” since they understood that their prayer was intrinsically in Jesus’ name.
  • “Our” Father—Christianity was not intended to be individualistic.
  • “Hallowed be your name”: To hallow means to make holy, or to sanctify. Cyprian: “It is not that we wish for God to be hallowed by our prayers. Rather we beseech of Him that His name may be hallowed in us. For by whom could God be sanctified, since He Himself sanctifies? It is He who says, ‘Be holy, even as I am holy’ [1 Pet. 1:15]. So we ask and entreat that we who were sanctified in baptism may continue in that state in which we have begun. And we pray daily for this because we need sanctification on a daily basis.” On the Lord’s Prayer 12 (ANF 5.450)
  • God does not have a name in the sense that created beings do. He simply is. (Exod 3:14; 34:5-7). The early church agreed: Aristides (ANF 10.264); Justin Martyr (ANF 1.165); Irenaeus (ANF 1.412-413; Clement of Alexandria (ANF 2.464); Mark Minucius Felix (ANF 4.183); Novatian (ANF 5.615); and Cyprian (ANF 5.467). Justin Martyr: “To the Father of all, who is unbegotten, there is no name given. ...These words—Father, God, Creator, Lord, and Master—are not names. Rather, they are descriptions derived from His good deeds and functions.” ANF 1.190
  • “Your kingdom come”: the kingdom continues to “come”—not a one-time event at Pentecost, as some of us may have been taught. Christ is already on the throne. Of course, his realm is one thing, but his rule (reign) in the hearts of willing subjects is another. 
  • Further, we pray for his will to be done in our lives. “Your will be done” is directly parallel to “Your kingdom come.”
  • God’s will is obeyed in heaven (angels and spiritual beings), as well as on earth among those who honor him as king.
  • “Daily bread”—not just physical nourishment, but spiritual food (John 6:35).
  • “Forgive us our debts”—in the shorter prayer of Luke 11, the word is “sins” (trespasses). The two are closely related.
  • “Lead us not into temptation”—This was understood by the ancient Christians as meaning “do not allow us to be led into temptation,” since James 1:13 states that God tempts no one.
  • “But deliver us from evil”—or from the evil one. The Greek can be translated either way.
  • “Thine is the kingdom…”—the extra line is found in some ancient sources (e.g. Didache 8, Tatian’s Diatessaron, Sec.9, and in Chrysostom), but not in others (e.g. the oldest Greek manuscripts, quotations by Latin church fathers, Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian).

Yet even if we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we will not be pleasing to God if our disposition towards our fellow man is wrong. That is the topic of our next devotional.

Next Up: Forgive

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    SOTM 36-Narrow


    For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).ResistanceThere's considerable resistance to this teaching:Because it’s difficult (today’s devotional)Because there are many who will try to talk us out of it (tomorrow’s offering)Because there’s no third option—just two waysJesus' words are challengingThere are only two options.The truth is easy to understand, but not necessarily easy to follow.(Many stripes and flavors of quasi-Christian faith are actually clever ways to get around the holy demands of Jesus.)_The majority of humans prefer the broad road.This isn’t a teaching only for non-Christians. It’s for you and me—for all of us who have set out on the way.The two roads may be discerned in virtually every book of the Bible. Two choices in the Garden. Two ways in the Psalms (Psalm 1:1-6). Two ways in the Prophets—follow the Torah, or ignore its demands. (Follow Yahweh, or spurn him.) Two ways theme—every book of Bible.The early churchFor the first few centuries, most Christians accepted the truth of the two roads. Although they were totally outnumbered, there were many individuals and groups in the following centuries willing to sacrifice to walk the narrow road, even willing to die if their lives were demanded when the world—or worldly Christianity—pushed back.Didache: “There are two ways: one of life and one of death. But there is a great difference between the two ways. The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love God, who made you. Second, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Didache1.1-5Epistle of Barnabas: “There are two ways of teaching and authority, the one of light and the other of darkness. But there is a great difference between these two ways. …The way of light is as follows: If anyone desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The knowledge given to us for the purpose of walking in this way is the following: You shall love Him who created you. You shall glorify Him who redeemed you from death. You shall be pure in heart and rich in spirit. You shall not join yourself to those who walk in the way of death… You shall be meek and peaceable. You shall tremble at the words which you hear.” Epistle of Barnabas 18Origen: “This way is narrow because the majority cannot bear to walk in it, for they are lovers of their flesh… The ones who believe in Him are those who walk in the straight and narrow way that leads to life. This way is found by few.” Commentary on the Gospel of John, 6, 10.28Lactantius: “This road… is steep because that goodness which is very high and lofty cannot be reached without the greatest difficulty and labor.” The Divine Institutes7Luke 13In Luke 13 is a parallel passage. Somebody asks him if only a few are going to be saved. The Lord replies with an imperative: “Strive to enter through the narrow door” (Luke 13:24).This isn’t only a passage about becoming Jesus’s disciple; it’s also for those who are followers.Conclusion:This teaching is difficult before we’re followers, when we’re trying to come to terms with the teaching.It’s difficult also for those who have been born again.It may feel even more challenging for those who are drifting, or those who have left the narrow road and are toying with the idea of coming back.While many will object that such thinking is simplistic, I say it is just simple. They say they’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. Some may have tried it, but very few have experienced authentic Christianity. For those near to Christ, who have tasted that the Lord is good, know that his teachings work.Those who will try to talk you out of the truth may be wonderful people in various respects—but Jesus calls them false prophets.Next: Prophets?
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    SOTM 35-Gold


    For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). CommentThis sentence sums up much of what Jesus has been teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, i.e. the ethical parts of Matt 5-6.God is good to us, a loving Father. We too should reflect his divine love.This verse is called the Golden Rule. Whereas the Golden rule says Do unto others…, the Silver rule only says Don't do unto others…Early Christians frequently paraphrase the Golden Rule both in the positive form and the negative form (e.g. Romans 13:10; Didache 1.2; Origen, Commentary on Romans 2.9.1.)While the Golden Rule implies the Silver Rule, the Silver Rule does not imply the Golden Rule.The Golden Rule embraces all of Jesus’ teachings about loving our neighbor, and Jesus gave both positive commands and negative commands. For example, we are not to be angry or to insult others. We are not to lust or desire someone else’s spouse. Nobody likes being physically, emotionally or verbally abused. No one wants to be slandered, cheated, assaulted, or robbed.To hurt others is hardly praiseworthy—it’s the minimum standard of human decency!The Silver Rule is much easier to follow than the Golden Rule.The Silver Rule is already written in the hearts of all humans (Rom 2:15).Chrysostom: “Jesus signifies that morality is concise, easy, and readily known to all men.” Homilies on Matthew 23.6.Examples of the Silver & Golden Rules in the world’s philosophies and religionsExamples of the Silver & Golden Rules in the world’s philosophies and religions:Jainism: “A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.” — Sutrakritanga, 1.11.33 [Golden Rule]Seneca the Younger: "Treat your inferior as you would wish your superior to treat you.” [form of the Golden Rule]Islam: “A bedouin came to the prophet, grabbed the stirrup of his camel and said: O the messenger of God! Teach me something to go to heaven with it. The Prophet said: ‘As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don't do to them. Now let the stirrup go!’" — Kitab al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 146. [Golden Rule and Silver Rules]. Although such sayings may be genuine, these hadith are not found in the Qur’an, which does not feature the Golden Rule.Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”— Udanavarga 5:18 [Silver Rule]Confucius: “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” — Analects XV.24 [Silver Rule]Zoroastrianism: “Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.” — Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29 [Silver Rule]Old Testament Apocrypha: “Do to no one what you yourself dislike.” — Tobit 4:15 [Silver Rule]Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn it.” — Shabbat 31a (Babylonian Talmud) [Silver Rule]Sextus: "What you do not want to happen to you, do not do it yourself either. " — Sextus the Pythagorean. [Weak form of the Silver Rule]Mahabharata: One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires. — Mahābhārata, Shānti-Parva 167:9 [Silver Rule]The medical principle: “Do no harm.” [Silver Rule]Christianity: So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12).A Proactive Rule:“Jesus’ Golden Rule is unique in that it requires positive action. The Golden Rule not only requires us to refrain from doing to others what we would not have done to us, but also to proactively do to others what we would want done to us. It is not enough that we do not harm others. We also must actively be doing good things to our neighbor. Jesus not only calls on us to turn the other cheek, but also to be peacemakers and to love our enemies. We must pray for those who persecute us, give to the poor, and forgive others. All of these are the outworking of love.”—David BercotAs one commentator has pointed out, "The Golden Rule [is] just eleven words; by contrast, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the U.S. government's attempt to oblige ethical character into the financial statements of American corporations, has eleven titles (major sections). It is one of the most complicated pieces of legislation in the history of the American republic and, in the economies of scale, places a disproportionate burden on small companies which were not the cause of the adoption." (Richard David Ramsey, "Business Ethics in the Sermon on the Mount," Leaven: A Journal of Christian Ministry (Pepperdine University), vol.16, no.4, Fourth Quarter 2009. How convoluted are human attempts to exact honesty and fairness! How simple is the command Jesus gave us!In short, the Golden Rule is more easily repeated than followed.Next: Narrow 
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    SOTM 34-Ask


    For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:7-11)Three verbsAsk—suggests prayer—the most intimate verb of the three.Seek—entails focus and purpose, in the spirit of Matt 6:33.Knock—suggests observation and persistence—especially when it seems the Lord is on the other side of the door.Persistence?This doesn't seem to be the point of this passage, though it may be implied (“knocking”).Consider the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8).Also take into account Paul’s prayer (2 Cor 12:9); was it "persistent"?How God answers prayerWith an audible voice? Probably not. Such is extremely rare in biblical history.Rather, he interacts with us in these three ways:He gives to us.He helps us to find.He opens doors.An interesting patristic interpretationEven when we're sincere and persistent in prayer, we may not receive—because we're asking for the wrong things.Chrysostom: “Jesus asks, ‘For which of you who is a father, of whom if his son shall ask bread, will he give him a stone?’ Accordingly, if you do not receive, the reason is that you have asked for a stone. For though you are a son, this does not suffice for your receiving. Instead, this very thing hinders your receiving. For being a son, you ask for what is not profitable. Therefore, do not ask for anything worldly, but for things that are spiritual, and you will surely receive.” Homilies on Matthew 23.5.Clement: “If it is beneficial, he will receive it at once. If it is injurious, he will never ask for it.” ANF 2.544Chrysostom: “Now you see that two things are needed for effective prayer: asking earnestly and asking for what we should. Jesus says in effect, ‘Although you are fathers, you wait for your sons to ask. And if they should ask of you anything unprofitable, you refuse the gifts. Likewise, if it is profitable, you consent and bestow it.’” Homilies on Matthew 23.5.(While I am not personally convinced by this take on Matt 7:7-11, it is interesting, and worth considering.)“Though you are evil” Jesus notes that we fallen humans are evil (7:11).Of course, we don’t want evil people giving gifts to our children. But then Jesus is referring to something else.Our holiness falls far, far short of divine perfection—and yet we give our children gifts.Knowing our heavenly Father’s character, we should rest assured in his goodness.Next: Gold
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    SOTM 33—Swine


    For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Jesus speaks of pigs and dogs in Matt 7:6. So shall we, in this podcast (11 minutes).“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you” (Matthew 7:6). This text connects with the previous section (7:1-5), although to obey it requires us to engage in one of the acceptable forms of judging allowed by the Bible.Hypocritical judging is forbidden.We must truly care for the other person, and we should not criticize them when our own sins are identical or worse.There are many varieties of judging. See the study of 13 varieties of judging in the Bible It is called Judge Not! (Stockholm, 1990).Matt 7:6 has application in three areas: (1) evangelism and (2) communion, and (3) baptism.EvangelismThe gospel of the kingdom is a precious pearl. We want to share the gospel with all who will hear it. And we certainly do not want to be hasty in determining that we are wasting our time in speaking to someone—even if they give the appearance of being unworthy. See Matt 10:11-15.Jesus illustrated this principle when He spoke to the crowds in parables. When His disciples asked Him why He spoke to the crowds in parables, Jesus replied, “Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have an abundance. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. For this reason I speak to them in parables. For seeing, they do not see; and hearing, they do not hear; neither do they understand” (Matt 13:11-13).Cyprian: “Solomon says, in the Proverbs, ‘Do not say anything in the ears of a foolish man; lest, when he hears it, he may mock at your wise words’ [Prov. 23:9 LXX]. Also in the Gospel according to Matthew: ‘Do not give that which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine.’” To Quirinius 3.50 (ANF 5.546)Cyprian: “‘Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also become like him’ [Prov. 26:4]. Moreover, we are commanded to keep what is holy within our own knowledge, and not expose it to be trodden down by swine and dogs.” To Demetrianus 1 (ANF 5.458)Clement of Alexandria: “Even now I fear, as it is said, ‘to cast pearls before swine, lest they tread them under foot, and turn and rip us apart.’ For it is difficult to exhibit the really pure and transparent words respecting the true light to swinish and untrained hearers.” Stromata (ANF 2.312-313).Moreover, evangelism can even cause harm, bringing unnecessary resentment or opposition on Christ's disciples. We must be wise!CommunionThe Didache: “Let no one eat or drink of your eucharist except those who have been baptized in the name of the Lord. For concerning this the Lord has said, ‘Do not give that which is holy to the dogs.’” Didache 9Chrysostom: “Give heed, those of you who would partake of the mysteries [i.e., communion] unworthily. Give heed, those of you who would approach the communion table unworthily. For He says, ‘Do not give that which is holy to the dogs.’” Homilies on Hebrews 20.3.While I personally lean towards “closed communion,” I believe good arguments can be made on either side of the argument.BaptismTertullian: “Those whose office it is, know that baptism is not to be administered rashly. … ‘Do not give holy things to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine.’” On Baptism (ANF 3.677).ConclusionIt is not ungracious to think analytically about people’s receptiveness to the gospel. Jesus himself modeled this. It is both strategic and, ultimately, loving.7:6 is not at all a contradiction of 7:1-5!We must keep holiness in view in regard to both communion and baptism.Next: Ask
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    SOTM 32—Judge


    For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.Introductory commentsWe are called to a high standard of holiness (chapter 5), to be lived out not to impress others, nor as a program to enrich ourselves materially (chapter 6). Next the Lord warns us, urges us, and instructs us about many pitfalls that can wreck our faith, like judgmentalism, the broad road, false prophecy, and failure to build on his Word.Matt 7:1 is the most quoted verse today, eclipsing even John 3:16. Yet Jesus did not intend it to be used as it often is—defensively. Jesus does not forbid judging others' salvation (though ultimately the Lord is their judge), or correcting false doctrine, or addressing serious sin (as in Matt 18).Those who adhere to high standards can easily lapse into judgmentalism. "It is a mark of fallen human nature to notice the faults in others and be blind to our own."We are encouraged to help our brothers and sisters, but only sincerely.Jesus words connect to the Lord’s Prayer. The context is forgiving others, as the NT and the early Christian writers make clear. “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Do not judge, and you shall not be judged. Do not condemn, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:36-37).Cyprian: “We should ask that our debts be forgiven us in such a manner as we ourselves forgive our debtors. For the forgiveness we seek for our sins cannot be obtained unless we ourselves have acted in a merciful way in respect to our debtors. Therefore, Jesus also says in another place, ‘With what measure you measure out, it will be measured back to you again.’ And the servant who, after having had all his debt forgiven him by his master, would not forgive his fellow-servant, was cast back into prison.” …There remains no ground of excuse in the Day of Judgment, when you will be judged according to your own sentence. And whatever you have done, that you also will suffer.” On the Lord’s Prayer 23John Chrysostom: “You ask, ‘If someone commits fornication, may I not say that fornication is a bad thing? Can I not correct someone who is behaving wantonly?’ Of course! Correct him, but not as an enemy. Do not do it as though you were exacting a penalty from an adversary. Rather, correct him as a physician providing medicine. For Christ did not say, ‘Do not correct him who is sinning,’ but ‘Do not judge.’ That is, do not be bitter in pronouncing correction.” Homilies on Matthew 23.2.Matthew 18 doesn't nullify Matthew 7? Imperfections and minor sins we should overlook in love. Matthew 18 concerns sins so serious that failure to repent ca lead to a disfellowship. In such cases, we must talk to our brother about these kinds of sin, for his eternal life is at stakeTertullian: “Remove the speck, or rather the beam, out of your own eye, so that you may be able to extract the speck from the eyes of others. Amend your own lives first.” To the Nations 1.20Chrysostom: “Do you wish to judge? Judge your own sins. No one will accuse you if you condemn yourself.” Homilies on Hebrews 21.8.It is not hypocritical to care about others and desire to help them to mature spiritually. It is hypocritical, however, to pretend to care, while actually taking pleasure in tearing others down to boost one's own ego.Chrysostom: “Here He says, ‘You hypocrite.’ Why? Because your judging does not come from protective care for others. Rather, it comes from ill will to another man. While the one who judges puts on a mask of benevolence, he is doing a work of the utmost wickedness. … On account of this Jesus called him ‘hypocrite.’ When it comes to other men’s actions, you are so critical that you see even the little things. So how is it you are so remiss in your own? How is it that even the major things in your own life are passed over by you?” Homilies on Matthew 23.2.Jesus' teaching was perfectly understood by the apostle Paul (Rom 2:1-22, 17-22, 28-29).Next: Swine
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    SOTM 31—Kingdom


    For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34).Seek—not Mammon, nor even life’s necessities—since we will be given these as we seek him.Kingdom Recommended: Jones and Brown’s 2010 volume The Kingdom of God. The kingdom is (1) a reign that is now and not yet; (2) an invasion that comes in waves; (3) a gift to be received; (4) a realm to be entered; (5) a kingdom totally unlike the kingdoms of this world; (6) a kingdom bonded to the church, but not the same as the church; (7) a life to be lived.—Tom A. Jones and Steve D. Brown, The Kingdom of God, Volume One: The Future Breaks InThe kingdom isn't the church. Going to church is only one small part of seeking the kingdom.It entails trusting Jesus as our Lord.The kingdom coming is God's will being done (6:10).Kingdom is realm (which in Jesus' case means the entire universe) and rule (even though there are many disobedient, unwilling subjects of the kingdom).Righteousness             This isn't so much about justification through the blood of Christ.Rather, it means desiring justice—including justice for others.We are to love and uphold and model God’s holy standard.Basics vs. luxuries"All these things" refers not to everything on my want-list, but rather items on my need-list.And even then, Jesus is speaking generally. Some disciples of Christ, like the very poor, the persecuted, and the imprisoned, may even struggle to make it day to day, lacking these necessities.Clement of Alexandria: “He says very eloquently, ‘And all these things the Gentiles seek after.’ The Gentiles are the self-indulgent and the foolish. And what are the things which He specifies? Luxury, indulgence, expensive cooking, dainty foods, and gluttony. These are the ‘things the Gentiles seek.’ However, when it comes to plain, necessary food—both dry and liquid—He says, ‘Your Father knows you need these.’” Pedagogue (ANF 2.264).John Chrysostom of Constantinople: “When God sees that we are not riveted to the things of this life, then He gives these needs to us. When He sees that we set a higher value on spiritual things, then He also bestows on us material things. But He does not provide the material things first, lest we break away from spiritual things.” Homilies on Hebrews, 20.9.There is no promise of luxuries. The "abundant life" (John 10:10) is not a middle-class lifestyle—let alone a life of riches, falsely promised by the prosperity preachers."Tomorrow" Jesus isn’t telling us we cannot plan (e.g. for a sermon, harvest, or credential). There is a big difference between the wisdom of anticipation, forethought, and wise planning and the foolishness of fretting about things that we cannot change or may not happen anyway.Rather, this is about faith.Next: Judge
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    SOTM 30—Anxious


    For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matthew 6:25-32).Comment“Therefore” (v.25) connects this passage to what Jesus had just said. He understands our need for reassurance that God will take care of us when we refuse to worship Mammon.Notice that food, drink, and clothing are all necessities—a point that will prove important as we explore tomorrow’s passage (6:33-34).Jesus utilizes three examples to get his point across about not worrying: birds, lifespan, and flowers.Note: anxiety isn’t a sin—it’s more of a symptom of failure to trust the Lord. Anxiety indicates a lack of faith (v.30).We are not to worry as the pagans do:Complaining about expenses—often while living beyond their means!Arguing about money—a major area of discussion in marriage, and a principal issue when couples divorce.Stinginess—giving less to the needy. Studies have shown that religious persons tend to be more generous.Taking one another to court for financial reasons—demanding their rights.Pagans not only worry about food, drink, and clothing—necessities. They also fret about luxury items and impressing others (see Ecc 4:4).Jesus calls us to be different! Do we trust him? Do we trust our heavenly father?Next: Kingdom
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    SOTM 29—Mammon


    For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.Love of money, wealth, and possessions—the sin of greed (covetousness)—can take over our lives if we aren't careful. The god of wealth is Mammon (an Aramaic word), and he has many followers. This is the topic of today's talk (8 mins).“No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other. Or else he will hold fast to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon” (Matthew 6:24).CommentMammon is the Aramaic term for riches.Love/hate in Matt 6:24 and Luke 16:13 sheds light on how to interpret love/hate in Luke 14:25.Mammon is not just a master; it is a god. “For you know this that no fornicator … nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph 5:5). A covetous man is an idolater, and he serves another god.It isn’t surprising that Jesus speaks of Mammon or wealth as though it were a god. Roman satirist Juvenal says sarcastically, “No deity is held in such reverence among us as Wealth.” Satire I.This verse is Jesus’ third angle of approach to the important topic of wealth (Matt 6:19-34).Conclusion: An extended quotation from Donald Hagner, Word Biblical Commentary 33A: Matthew 1-13 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993), 160.Next: Anxious
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    SOTM 28—Darkness


    For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.In today's talk (13 mins) we continue to make our way through Jesus' teachings about wealth. It is closely connected with tomorrow's lesson on Mammon.The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is single, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great that darkness is! (Matthew 6:22-23) Comment:Mixed metaphors can be difficult; work at it.Jesus is trying to get the point across clearly, using three illustrations for one point:Treasure in heaven, or treasure one earthDarkness, or light (focus)God or Mammon (two masters)In effect, the SOM contains extended teaching against materialism.People who look at life through a defective spiritual eye assign an imaginary, high value to possessions.Anxiety over moneyJohn Chrysostom: “Among other things, the wealthy tremble at the thought of poverty. In fact, they fear not only poverty itself—but even a trifling loss of their possessions. Those who lack necessary food do not grieve as much and bewail themselves as much as rich people do when they lose some small possession. In fact, many of the rich have even hanged themselves when they lost their possessions, not willing to bear such an ill turn of events.” Homilies on Matthew 20.4.When some people would rather die than to live without wealth, the eye of their soul is dark indeed! As Jesus said, they are full of darkness.Do we obsess over money? Are we conflicted in our soul between serving the Lord and striving for wealth and comfort (or maintaining it)?Conclusion“Wealth, it happens, is only the most conspicuous example of that which can distract from true discipleship. Only the rarest of individuals can possess much of the world’s wealth without becoming enslaved to it and without letting it cut the nerve of true discipleship.”—Donald Hagner, in the Word Biblical Commentary 33A: Matthew 1-13 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993), 160.Let's focus on what is truly important.Next: Mammon
  • Douglas Jacoby Podcast podcast

    SOTM 27—Treasure


    For additional notes and resources check out Douglas’ website.This talk (13 mins) challenges us to store up treasure in heaven, not on earth. Although it can be challenging to discern exactly how much wealth we should hold on to, and how much should be given away, we are not excused from the responsibility to prayerfully and honestly wrestle with the Lord's words in Matthew 6:19-20!Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-20). ObservationsTreasures in two locationsWealth is never really safe. Moths eat away at fine garments, rust corrodes metal and coins, thieves break (dig) in and try to find where our treasure has been hidden (e.e. under the floor.)Are we to make as much money as possible? Are we "maxed out" in the pursuit of wealth?I do read this not as as forbidding riches—however they are defined—but warning us of the dangers of wealth and encouraging us to be emotionally invested in the right place.Sell our possessions?“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:32-34).Jesus lived simply; the apostles lived simply; the early Christians lived simply.Two martyrsCyprian and Lawrence were both martyred in the Valerian Persecution in 258 AD:Cyprian: “The fool who was to die that very night was rejoicing in his stored goods [referring to Luke 12:20]. He to whom life was already failing was thinking of the abundance of his food. In contrast, the Lord tells us that a man becomes perfect and complete by selling all his goods and distributing them for the use of the poor. He thereby lays up for himself a storehouse in heaven.” On the Lord’s Prayer 20 (ANF 5.453). Cyprian was not speaking hypothetically. He had been wealthy before becoming a Christian. But on his conversion, he sold much of his estate and used the proceeds to help the poor. Pontius the Deacon, The Life and Martyrdom of Cyprian 2 (ANF 5.268). He also notes, “Neither does the state take away the property entrusted to God, nor does the tax collector intrude on it. Likewise, no criminal plots cart it away. That inheritance is placed in a vault that is kept under guard by God Himself.” On Works and Alms 19Lawrence: Roman officials were seizing whatever property the churches owned. In Rome, the authorities confronted Lawrence, a deacon in the church, and demanded that he surrender all the valuables the church in Rome owned. He told them he'd collect the church’s wealth and hand it over the next day. The next morning Lawrence had assembled a large group of the poor who were supported by the church [1500-2000 persons?]. When the officials arrived and demanded for the loot, Lawrence pointed to the poor and needy. “This is the wealth of the church,” he exclaimed. The disappointed and irate officials then put him to death. Ambrose, Duties of the Clergy 2.28.140.The lesson for usInvest in people.My suggestion: Liquidate unnecessary assets. Retain what is necessary to continue to be able to provide hospitality, help fellow Christians, give alms, and not be a burden to others.We probably need less than we think. Let's live modesty!A word to Americans and citizens of other rich nations: As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life (1 Tim 6:17-19).Next: Darkness

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