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A GREAT AWAKENING PRIMER: STRONG INDIVIDUALS CREATE STRONG CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES

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      The individual is the deciding difference. Strong, independent, spiritually mature Christians dedicated to the Lord are the building blocks of churches made in their image.

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          I have an old history book. It is old in the sense that it was originally written in 1930 but has been updated several times. The book itself is in great shape. I found it several years ago in a vast library book sale in Plano, Texas. My copy has a 1969 copyright. It is an excellent book. Entitled The Growth of the American Republic, Volume II, it covers the century from just after the Civil War to the late 1960s.

       Chapter IV is called Labor and it deals with the initial sorting out process of labor relations with reference to the post war economy, increasing industrialization, and the rise of impersonal corporatism. This chapter covers the story in our country’s history from after the Civil War until the dawning of the 20th century, a roughly forty year period of vast transformation regarding the conditions and opportunities of working men and women and how labor was forced to make immense adjustments.

         The Civil War itself was great change. It never should have happened. When one studies the real causes of the war behind the overt and official though false narrative, one sees the shrouded figures of economic henchmen intent on taking a spoil. The name Civil War is obviously part of that false narrative. Southerners prefer the term The War of Northern Aggression because that’s exactly what it was. It was a power play to gain the vast reaches of the South and Texas by the northern industrialists and the money powers. By fighting the war, the South, which had the Constitution wholly on its side, was merely protecting itself and attempted to win against all odds as did the original thirteen colonies against the Brits in the American Revolution. The odds were greatly against victory then as well.

         Updated figures show that upwards of 750,000 Americans were killed in the Civil War. There was a forced unconstitutional draft on both sides. Factories were turning out war materiel on a mass scale. Soldiers fought according to an old outdated method that left them wholly vulnerable to modern armaments. Thousands died in single battles. Arms and legs were shot off (or sawed off later). The lives of young Americans had suddenly become very cheap. Approximately one third of Southern men in the prime of life met their doom. The South never recovered. These were the great men, on both sides, of strong character and vitality, American men shortly descended from the greats who won the Revolution. But they were being butchered. It was a terroristic war, one whose excesses and brutality could never possibly be forgotten. In that short four year period from 1861-1865, American men, especially in the South, were transformed from free, independent, and liberty-loving to mere chattel used, abused, and forsaken. It was a betrayal of the highest order.

         After the war, labor suffered. The identity of the American working man was forced to undergo great change in order to fit into the new reality. Workers were cheap. The great money powers gained such control that labor was whatever they said it was. One was forced to play by their rules. If not, a man lost his job and was quickly replaced by another. Millions of new immigrants entered the country to add to the cheap labor pool. It was during those last decades of the 1800s that a completely new form of movement began in this country in the attempt to right these wrongs. It was the beginning of Labor Unions.

        The following passage from the book gives an excellent indication of the thinking process of American workers as they were confronted with the new economic reality and what they attempted to do to save themselves by fighting back. It was in reading these words that I saw yet another direct indication of what happened to American Christianity, which also suffered great change for the worse at the same time:

         In the years after the Civil War two rival approaches—reform unionism and trade unionism—vied for the allegiance of the American workingman. The reform unionists rejected the factory system, with its division of labor and its sharp differentiation of interests of employer and employee, and sought to restore a society which valued the independent artisan. Determined not to become machine tenders assigned to a small part of the process of production, they strove to preserve their status as craftsmen. To safeguard equality of opportunity, they fought those forces of monopoly, especially in finance, which they believed aimed to shackle the worker. They viewed themselves as members of a ‘producer class’ which embraced master as well as journeyman, farmer as well as artisan. [1]

         Thomas Jefferson had a dream of America becoming a vast agrarian society composed of individual Americans working the land. Constitutional principles and directives that every man must be free did not last so long, however. Jefferson’s dream died less than a century later at the hands of dominant money-first power barons who merely wanted to use labor for their own empire-building purposes as if flesh and blood humans with hopes and dreams were not attached to said labor. One can see by the preceding quote from the book that working men saw themselves as much more than mere workers used as machine parts. They were skilled artisans. They were masters at their trades.

         This resonates with me, because I can identify as a master at my trade. I spent many years as a multipurpose self-employed independent carpenter and contractor from the time I was a young adult. I never cared for highly specific quantity-ordered specialty trades within the trade, though I did participate on occasion. I certainly do not fault those who prefer such, but real carpenters should be able to build a structure inside and out instead of simply focusing on one aspect of the trade for the sake of greater and faster production. We have long since gone from one end of this equation to the other. The same thing happened after the Civil War. The independent artisans and craftsmen found a harder row to hoe, less appreciation for their skills, and less demand overall. It became a production game. Wages went down. Craftsmanship suffered.

        The same thing has happened in Christianity. In the beginning the Lord had a real Community composed of various spiritual trades based on spiritual gifting and anointing. As I mentioned in a recent post, Romans Chapter Twelve lists seven motivational giftings of which every real believer has one primary. This is where he or she excels. It is a labor of love. Christians should never waste time trying to be something they are not. And churches must stop rejecting those believers who demand being what the Lord created them to be. The reason they are rejected is for the same reason the economic controllers want human machines that always do what they’re told and simply continue to drone on and on. Pews are filled with such people who rarely do anything but sit and watch and give their money to support a system that goes nowhere spiritual very fast. It’s pathetic.

         What about a church filled with mature independent spiritual artisans who are masters of their craft? THAT is the Lord’s model. Until more Christians become aware that their churches are mere authoritarian perpetual elementary schools in which next to one rises above a third grade level, nothing will change. Those who do progress discipline themselves toward much study and training on their own, which means they outgrow their pastors very early on and only attend because they believe they must or they like the social aspect.

       The good news is that things have changed. We are progressing. But just like the mainstream news media which caters only to veritable babies in high chairs due to its ridiculously dumbed-down and often phony content while gaining most of the outward attention, most churches benefit primarily those few who run them and make money off them. Everyone else is made to grab a galley oar and row, and give money, not their heart or talent. Thus, an unbelievable amount of pure Christian talent has been wasted and shunted aside for the sake of catering to the big boys—the clergyized robber barons who make everything centered around and in support of them. These authoritarian controllers who have captured the money, the power, and the limelight may appear sincere and fool people with their fake smiles and false Pharisaic attitudes, but they are not fooling the Lord.

         He wants His people to be free. And mature. He wants them to fully develop their talent and giftings. He then wants these strong and independent spiritual artisans to work together in community. This is what a real church is. It is what He created in the beginning. They proved what they were by pretty much converting the Roman Empire! Most Christians today have problems converting themselves. And what have we done here in America? Instead of converting others to the Lord Jesus, Christians have largely been converted to and taken over by the culture. It’s the main reason why America is hanging on for dear life.

         There are certainly fighters for the Republic and those trying to save the country, as well as those trying to reform American Christianity, but they graduated from Sunday School a long, long time ago. All Christians who haven’t and refuse to progress should be utterly ashamed.

           Their false tradition is a killer.

          And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” [Mark 7:6-9] [2]   

            © 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] The Growth of the American Republic, Volume II © 1930, 1937, 1942, 1950, 1962, 1969 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Sixth Edition.

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

LINK: Exactly eight years ago, in late August of 2010, the Lord spoke to me very clearly: “WE ARE IN THE EARLY STAGES OF A NATIONAL GREAT AWAKENING.”

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DEFINING NEW WINE (AND EMBRACING ADULTHOOD)

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      The Millennial generation has now overtaken the Baby Boomers. This development parallels the fading dominion of “old wine” Christianity.

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         We are on the threshold of a vast new transformation. The bulk of the coming-of-age Millennial generation, those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s to early 2000s, likely will not be engaging in anywhere close to the same degree of hands-on, practical, do-it-yourself utility and blue collar work of past generations. In general, while brilliant and exceptional in many areas of expertise, its skill set is lacking in the use of tools and, though gaining, has less aptitude for practical self-reliance.

       As a result, since Millennials number in the 80-90 million range, the home improvement industry is particularly panicked about the upcoming diminishing demand for its products. To remedy the potentially huge future problem, how-to videos and tutorials on an extremely elementary and basic level have been created, such as “How To Use A Tape Measure.”

         Sound familiar? What are the otherwise veiled common denominators of the largely unchurched Millennial generation and traditional church congregations of past and present? How are these alike? Do both share commonalities through no initial fault of their own, such as being adulthood challenged, sheltered, dependency-bred, and subjected to Groupthink? (Traditional church congregations in general are rarely taught to graduate and go on into individual ministry, for example, as commanded in the Great Commission.) These common characteristics indicate far too much “old wine” influence and a dearth of the new.

NEW WINE

        And He was also telling them a parable: “…And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’” [Luke 5:36-39]

OLD WHINE

         Christians have labored for centuries trying to figure out this passage or trying to figure out why the Lord used it in the first place, since the subject matter causes discomfort in some circles. Yet it remains a classic “eyes and ears” parable of which the true understanding is often missed. Rather than seeing the deeper meaning and making the correct application the Lord is calling for, however, the passage often evokes the prohibition response among those Christians who believe wine is not good. Instead of censoring the Lord Jesus or taking Him to task for NT wine references, of which there are many, perhaps they should try to see what He’s getting at.  

         I say this because immature and out-of-touch past generations of Christians with such an attitude have also missed the boat on other spiritual teachings. Missing the one addressed by the New Wine parable, though, is enormously problematic since it directly regards the pure practicality of reaching the lost without forcing them into largely dead impractical religion and non-spiritual constructs. For example, it didn’t help that for much of the time since it was first published in 1611, many Christians only had a King James Bible with no alternative or were not allowed one that may exist, especially, of course, in England and the English-speaking world. Because the KJV was state-sponsored, it forced millions into accepting every word and punctuation mark therein without question. Yet, on the all-important New Wine and New Wineskins passage, a deeply important parable, the KJV translators got it really wrong by referring to the wineskins as bottles.

         Right. They all had glass wine bottles in the first century. But according to some, those people apparently were not allowed to drink the wine therein anyway. What grandiose minds are these who project their convictions on all prior generations? There is a reason we have better translations today. Yet there remain millions of Christians at present who refuse to use any other Bible and even insist other versions are sinful. This is evidence of remaining endemic authoritative bias which disallows the necessary developmental steps toward gaining maturity. It creates a purposed distance from the Lord’s pure teachings by an agenda-based clergy promoting subjugation to them and their old wineskins.

         Ironically, I guess we may say, the incorrect KJV translation of the New Wine passage proves the gist of the Lord’s New Wine parable.

FERMENTATION (SPIRITUAL EYES AND EARS ALERT)

         The process of fermentation changes mere grape juice into a completely different liquid with different properties. New Wine is wine still undergoing the fermentation process.

         In Biblical times, as fermentation commenced and the juice of the grapes foamed up, somewhat dynamically, the process was allowed to take place only in open vats or containers for obvious reasons. After this initial substantial fermentation the wine was poured into small containers made of animal skins, but it was most important that the skins be new and fresh. Why? Because the wine was still undergoing fermentation and the skins must be new, strong, and flexible to allow for further expansion. It was sometimes the case that the new skins filled with New Wine appeared close to bursting.

         This is why everyone with knowledge of wine-making knew to never put New Wine into old dried-up wineskins because such containers would never be able to handle the ongoing fermentation process. If this principle was violated the old skins would crack or tear and be ruined by the New Wine, which would spill out and be lost. Incidentally, and in light of what I have been addressing in several recent posts, the fermentation process lasted about forty days. This means something. You might want to take a look at those recent posts.

PUTTING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE

         The parable of the New Wine and New Wineskins appears only in the three synoptic gospels. It is apparent that Matthew and Mark were referencing Luke. Only Luke actually refers to it as a parable. Yet in each occurrence, the parable appears somewhat out of nowhere, especially in Luke, and there is no explanation. No one asked about the spiritual or allegorical meaning when the Lord addressed it. It is just there, and then the narrative moves on. What does it mean?

         We can find a clue simply by looking at the fermentation process. In His teachings regarding new beginnings and the necessity of both a New Covenant and new approaches to spiritual life, the Lord also referred to the absolute necessity of a new birth, meaning a spiritual birth. He is referencing by these illustrations a must-metamorphosis or a transformation from one stage to another, just as we are presently on the threshold of a vast new spiritual transformation. He also claimed that such a personal change, or birth, was both dramatic and all-encompassing.

BECOMING FULLY MATURE

(1) A butterfly lays an egg on a food plant

(2) The egg becomes a larva, or caterpillar, and the caterpillar grows rapidly

(3) When fully developed, the caterpillar enters the pupa stage and surrounds itself in a chrysalis

(4) When metamorphosis is complete, the pupal skin splits and a fully developed butterfly emerges, illustrating the final stage of maturation, and it soon takes flight

         Through the Lord’s mysterious ways, a relatively non-attractive many-legged worm thoroughly grounded and munching leaves and whatnot is inexplicably transformed into a lightweight beautiful butterfly able to escape the weighty hold of gravity. Remember, this is the same creature during all four stages. It merely exists in different forms on the way toward becoming fully mature, or complete.

DEVELOPING INTO SPIRITUAL ADULTS

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48]

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” [Matthew 19:21]

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed (metamorphoo) by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12:2]

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you… [Philippians 3:14-15]

           [The Greek word translated in the preceding as “perfect” or “complete” is teleios. It is defined as “mature, full grown, adult, or completed.”]

THE PROPER FRAME OF REFERENCE 

         Mere grape juice released through a violent crushing process somehow begins to be instantly transformed into another substance with powerful properties. What does this sound like? What does the Lord mean by New Wine and New Wineskins? Correctly defining these terms means we must first determine the proper frame of reference. The answer would seem to be otherwise obvious, since we have an Old Covenant and a New Covenant. The Old made possible the New, but the New replaced the Old. The New Wine replaces the old wine. It was a fact that due to the wine-making process of those times, the fully fermented wine lasted only so long. Old wine was wine stored for about a year or more, but it sometimes only lasted for about three years before turning into vinegar, though that could happen earlier.

FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN’S CHILDREN

          It follows then, that wine-making must be ongoing. There must always be a new batch of wine on the horizon. (Think Great Awakening.) The Feast of Tabernacles, which we just completed, was an annual time of harvesting the fall grapes. It was a time of great joy. All of these facts are clues.

        The Pharisees and Sadducees represented the old wine that had degenerated into sour vinegar. Those guys could not get any more sour.

         The Lord was bringing forth the New Wine with His new kingdom. The refusing-to-be-transformed religious killjoys hated both. They rejected the new birth as do most “Christians.” Little did they know that they were actually playing right into the Lord’s hands, however, in that by crushing Him they were assisting in the process of bringing forth a brand new vintage, the best New Wine of all time!

DRUNK ON THE HOLY GHOST

          When the 120 were filled with His Spirit in the Upper Room they acted very differently. Their actions were out of the ordinary. What transpired on that morning did not look at all like the standard, dour-faced, traditional, institutional, stuck-in-the-mud, ultra-religious old wine that was “good enough.” Instead, they were all filled with incredible JOY and displayed never-before-seen bright shining faces, dazzling smiles, and much laughter. They were overcome with the Lord’s overwhelming love. Highly concentrated LOVE was all around them and spilling forth everywhere. By their love everybody appearance and manner it looked to outside observers that the Upper Roomers had been swimming around in a giant vat of New Wine:

         And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them:

         “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

         “‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT…’” [Acts 2:12-18] [1]

          We are on the threshold of a vast new transformation toward real spiritual adulthood.

          “New Wine must be put into fresh wineskins.”

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Rewards of Discipleship and Real Abundance

         When we think of rewards we usually think of prizes or gifts based on a good deed: Lost Dog—$20 Reward.

         In the Old West, bounty posters were tacked up in various places announcing rewards associated with catching bad guys. Bounty hunters made a living off such rewards.

         If you were punching cattle, though, you didn’t get a reward—you got your pay. You received wages.

         The distinction between these two—rewards and wages—was based in the former sense on the difference between being an independent contractor and being an employee. Hiring on with a ranching outfit usually meant working for an indefinite amount of time for a set wage within that time, be it a certain amount per day, per week, or per month. If a man wanted steady work it would be for comparably lower pay, and often very low pay.

         An independent contractor, on the other hand, took on the risk of solely providing for himself. The reward, if he got it, was not based on an hourly wage or weekly rate, but on whatever the contract had stipulated. An experienced man could earn more money in less time. For the most part, the reward contract was non-negotiable.

         The Lord Jesus told many stories about such non-negotiable rewards, though they are often thought of as being mere wages.

THE LABORERS IN THE VINEYARD

         The parable of The Laborers in the Vineyard comes to mind (Matthew 20:1-16). Each worker was given the same pay regardless of how much time each actually worked. It appeared to be a daily rate at first and was specifically identified as one denarius. However, it became less of a daily rate as the day went on. Also, the pay was not identified when the second and third groups were hired as the day advanced. Later, the pay could be characterized as an hourly wage, but only by the last group—those “eleventh hour” workers who toiled only during the last hour of the day.

         Which was it? Was the pay wages or reward? The landowner mentioned something later about being generous. The first group that worked all day got pretty ticked off since they worked all day and the others who received the exact pay did not, even though the denarius they had agreed upon that morning when hired was a daily wage at that time. Why did the landowner pay the same mount to all regardless of time worked?

THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS

         There are also rewards based on specific conditions. One may think of The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In this story, three men were entrusted with large amounts of money upfront with the provision to use it to make more. This financial arrangement was not only the promise of a reward, but the reward would be decided upon by the grantees that did the work. The contract was non-negotiable but also open-ended and conditional.

         The initial amount given to each was based on their respective ability:

         To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. [Matthew 25:15]

         Though the word used here—ability—is used by the majority of Bible translations, it is not necessarily the best translation. The Greek word is dunamis. This word is primarily translated as power, but is also translated as miracle, miracles, and miraculous powers. It is an indication of personal strength.

         Each of the men was invested with an amount of money based on their personal strength and potential. The first man was given five talents because he possessed more strength, ability, and power than the others. At first glance this may seem unfair, but the master expected more from those who had more, since such people had greater potential for greater productivity and fruitfulness:

         “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” [Luke 12:48]

         We notice in this story, however, that the two men who did a good job by doubling their money gave what they made right back to their master and received—you guessed it—even greater rewards:

(1) Since they were faithful in a few things, they would each be given charge over many things, and

(2) They were blessed with entering into the joy (delight, gladness) of their master.

         It is obvious that the money these men made was not mere wages but reward with the possibility of greater reward. They invested wisely in such a way that there were ongoing dividends, or fruit. It is also clear that wages are their own reward, and once one cashes his paycheck and spends it the transaction is complete, unless one uses some of the money as financial seed.

         But there is another very important component of this message. All three men had great respect for their master. They understood they were given a great opportunity they would likely never receive again. They took it very seriously. However, the focus of the two who were successful was not on personal gain, but on their master’s gain. The third man with the least ability who was given one talent was focused on himself, and because of that he gave in to fear and buried his talent. His talent was thus unfruitful, and though he returned the money fully intact to the master, its potential was never realized. As a result, he was fired (literally).

ATTITUDE TRUMPS ABILITY

         As the man given one talent, some people may think, to begin with, that they are not quite so blessed in this life or that they have few talents or abilities. But the parable says such is not true at all. Concerning the man who was fired and why he was not successful, it was not his abilities that were deficient but his attitude. Everyone has the required abilities to be successful, but only a few make the choice to have the right attitude.

         The correct attitude is one of respect, humility, determination, and resoluteness. The master was looking for people who would never give up, who would show courage and tenacity, who would get the job done come hell or high water, who would always overcome their fear or anything else that may hinder success, and work as hard as it took to achieve the objective.

         In short, he wanted people who would simply not be denied and who lived by great faith—he wanted winners.

         Winners are people who never give up until they win.

         They do not have to be greatly gifted. They may be marginally gifted. But they must use whatever they have no matter how small. (Think seed.) The intent is to take whatever one has been given by God and increase it, whether given a large amount equivalent to several years wages (a talent), or less.

         Remember the story of the widow’s mites (small copper coins—see Mark 12:42-44). That poor woman only had two barely valuable coins but gave both into the Lord’s treasury. It was not the monetary amount that impressed the Lord Jesus, but that she gave her all. She gave everything she had, and hence, more than any of those more successful people who only gave a token easily affordable amount from their increase.

         The Master wants people who give their entire heart.

         How many true stories have we heard of people starting out very small and making it big? We must first submit ourselves to the Master, use whatever we may have been given, use it correctly, and produce the fruit thereof. We know from the parable that the guy who did nothing received nothing. He returned nothing more to his master than what he received. He was unprofitable and thus received no pay, no wages, and no reward.

         Those who consistently give their whole heart according to the will of God in obedience to Him, however, are forever fruitful. They will bring forth abundance.

REWARDS OF DISCIPLESHIP

         “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” [Matthew 29:25]

         Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” [Matthew 5:11-12]

         “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 6:1]

         “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” [Matthew 6:2-4]

         “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” [Matthew 6:5-6]

         “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” [Matthew 6:16-18]

         “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Matthew 6:19-21]

         “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” [Matthew 10:40-42]

         “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.

         “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

         “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

         “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.

         “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” [Luke 6:31-38] [1]

         © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.