Summary: This is the 5th sermon in the "Discipleship" series. This sermon ask the question, "What kind of influence are we for Christ?"
Sunday Evening October 14, 2001 Bel Aire Baptist Church (Preached at Pleasant Green Baptist Church)
Series: Discipleship #5
PERCEPTION IS REALITY
Matthew 5:13-16; 6:1-18
1. I have heard many times that, “Perception is reality.” I have always wondered if that is accurate, but the older I get, the more I believe this statement.
I have met many couples that looked like the happiest couple on the face of the earth, but behind closed doors they were punching one another and cursing one another. Now what do you think people say when they notice in the newspaper that this couple is getting a divorce? They say, “I thought they had one of the strongest marriages in town. They looked so in love”.
2. In most situations, the way people perceive us is what they believe us to be. This is the reason that we as Christians must be so careful about how we live our lives.
We have all heard about, and probably know, some people that do not go to church because of the way we behave as Christians. When they went to church, all those people did was fight or acted like they were better than everyone else. Their “lost” friends acted better than those Christians and when something tragic happened in their life, which was there for them? Their lost friends not those Christians. We wonder why we as Christians can’t seem to change anything. Why we as Christians don’t seem to grow. Why our churches never grow? It’s because people want to see Christians that act the same way in public as they do at church. They want someone to actually be as concerned for them as the Jesus that they hear us preach about.
3. Christians, people are tired of playing games. If they wanted to “play” church, they would be doing it. The bottom line is this: It is time for us to start being the influence that God has told us to be.
4. As we look at two passages tonight, we must notice that these religious games have been going on for a long time and Jesus has much to say about what we should be doing and why.
I. Being Religious
A. Ministering (Matthew 6:1-2)
1. What is your motive for helping those in need?
2. Do you need someone to know about it and to “pat” you on the back?
B. Prayer (Matthew 6:5, 7)
1. What is your motive for praying?
2. Do you have a private prayer life, or do you only pray at church? Do you try to make sure when you pray aloud that everyone knows what a great prayer you are? You know, use all of the right words, those big words.
C. Fasting (Matthew 6:16)
1. What is your motive for fasting? (I know you are saying, “Hey, I’m Baptist, we don’t do that.” I can tell.)
2. If you fast, do you make sure that everyone can tell?
II. Being Right
Raise your hand if you like to be right. We all like to be right don’t we? Jesus is telling us how to be right in our ministering, prayer, and fasting.
A. Ministering (Matthew 6:3-4)
1. We are to help others in secret.
2. Our motive for giving should be to show them love of Jesus Christ. Don’t worry; you will still get credit for your ministry. The credit will come from God and Jesus says that God will reward you for it.
B. Prayer (Matthew 6:6, 8)
1. We are to pray in secret. Now there is nothing wrong with group prayer. That is not what this is saying.
2. Jesus is telling us that our prayer is to God and no one else. After all, God is the One that will answer those prayers.
C. Fasting (Matthew 6:17-18)
1. When we fast, no one should even be able to tell.
2. The motive of fasting is to draw closer to God’s will in your life. Each time you get hungry, instead of eating, you spend that time in prayer.
I have counseled a woman several times that will fast for several days until she is almost dead. She does this because she says if she does not that God will kill her and send her to hell. Although this is extreme, there are many people who fast out of self-punishment. If you are fasting to punish yourself, you are missing the whole point.
III. Being Real
Jesus realized the importance of His disciples being able to walk the talk.
A. Salt (Matthew 5:13)
1. Salt has two main functions that we are to take on as Christians.
a) Salt is a preservative.
b) Salt gives flavor.
2. We are to make a difference in the world around us.