The Kingdom of Heaven: One Master

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

(Matt. 6:24, NKJV)

When I was still in college, I learned about different management principles and structures. The two main structures are the “hierarchical structure” and the “flat structure.”

In a hierarchical structure, the varying levels of authority in an organization are clear-cut; each employee reports to a single supervisor.

On the other hand, in a flat structure, the hierarchy of authority is not as clearly defined, and an employee can have multiple “bosses”. While it seems that modern companies are trying to move more and more toward a flatter structure, the danger is an increased propensity for conflict. As one author put it, Continue reading

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The Kingdom of Heaven: Having a Good Eye

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

(Matthew 6:22-23, NKJV)

I never really gave this passage much thought until I was preparing to write this post. And then I found that it stumped me a little.

Matthew seems to randomly sandwich these two verses right in between two sections talking about riches. How does having a good or bad eye fit into the flow of the chapter? Does it fit at all? And what does the eye symbolize, if anything?

In times past, I had usually read it as a sort of “Oh be careful, little eye, what you see” passage and assumed it was a warning to not do things like watch immoral movies or look at pornography, because you will be negatively affected by doing so. And I would move on to the next part of the chapter without giving it much more thought than that.

But while that would certainly be a true warning, I don’t think that’s what these verses are about. Continue reading

The Kingdom of Heaven: Eternal Treasure

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

(Matt. 6:19-21)

Three verses.

Three gold nuggets of wisdom.

Let’s dig a little deeper. Continue reading

The Kingdom of Heaven: Not Bread Alone

16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

(Matt. 6:14-18, NKJV)

Matthew 6 has so far focused very much on humility. Do good deeds out of humility only. Pray out of humility only. And now Jesus commands us to fast out of humility only.

Since we’ve already talked about so much about humility, it would seem repetitive to dive further into that now. So instead, I’m going to take a slightly different bent and focus on fasting itself.

Most of us probably do good deeds. . . tithe a percentage of our income, do some volunteer work, and overall just try to be nice to people. Maybe we don’t do as much as we should, but at least we do something.

And most of us probably pray. . . at mealtimes, at church, or in privacy. Again, maybe we don’t pray as often as we should – but at least we do it sometimes.

But how many of us have fasted? Even once? Continue reading

The Kingdom of Heaven: Humble Prayer

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
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 forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Matthew 6:5-14, NKJV

Have you ever heard someone lead prayer at your church and you found yourself wondering, “Did they plan this whole prayer out ahead-of-time?” The perfectly-worded sentences, the expert weaving in of Scripture, the lack of pauses, and maybe the addition of a “speech-giving voice” combine to make it all seem very scripted.

And then there’s the ones who are truly genuine – but again, their prayers seem so perfect that it can be intimidating to the simpler folk among us who haven’t quite attended that level of “prayer quality.” Continue reading