Summary: A sermon on the importance of practicing the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and service in a manner that does not draw attention to you but to God.
If you have your Bibles with you today and you want to follow along, we are going to be looking at the sixth chapter of the book of Matthew starting at verse 1 and going down to verse 18. Matthew 6:1-18. While you are looking for that, I just have a question. I am sure I have asked you before and you have answered in many different ways. My question is how many of you are actively involved in a Facebook account? How many of you want nothing to do with Facebook? A little bit more about the nothing to do with Facebook. I am one of these people who go back and forth. Sometimes I think it is a total waste of time but other times I think it has some value. Especially when I find out some information about a member or a former member that is really cool. I was recently on Facebook and was on the Facebook page of a young man who used to attend here. A man by the name of Jeff Manuel. Also Jeff Nolan he goes by. I was on his Facebook page and found out that Jeff received a Medal of Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy. I wouldn’t have known that had I not been on Facebook. In case some of you want to see a picture of that, I took the picture off of Facebook and there is Jeff receiving the letter of Commendation. He received it because of his response to an incident that occurred in 2013 at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. There was a shooting. A former Navy reservist went crazy and ended up killing 12 people. Basically caused the whole capital to be partially shut down. Jeff was one of the medics who responded to this crisis even while the shooter was still at large. Because of that bravery, he received a Medal of Commendation along with the letter that I would like to read.
It says “This is to certify that the Secretary of the Navy has awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation to Hospital Corpsman, third class, Fleet Marine Force, Jeffrey H. Manuel, United States Navy, for meritorious achievement while serving with Washington Navy Yard Branch Health Clinic on 16th of September 2013. When alerted to an active shooter incident in progress at the Naval System Command Headquarters Building, Petty Officer Manuel volunteered to join the medical response team that was moving to the site to treat victims. He carried emergency supplies to the casualty collection point across the street from the shooting scene and began rendering first aid to victims that had escaped the building. As the danger persisted for hours, he calmly continued to aid and comfort the evacuees and help move them to safer areas of the base. Petty Officer Manuel’s professionalism, initiative, and dedication to duty reflected credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest tradition of the United States Naval Service, given this 23rd day of June 2014. Signed the Secretary of the Navy.”
Some of you know that Jeff is not here today, but obviously members of his family are, so just give a little round of applause to show your appreciation for that. I think it is okay to show recognition like that. I think it is okay to show that recognition because unlike the people in the story today in Matthew 6, Jeff was not out to seek recognition. He was not out there seeking the applause. He was just responding to something that was natural in him. His character along with the training that he received from the Navy. As we continue with the series The Story, we are going to see that really that is what Jesus is trying to teach us to do. We are in a series called The Story: God’s story as told through the people, places, and events of the Bible. We are going through the New Testament story of the Bible. We are looking at the ministry and miracles of Jesus. As I said last week, when Jesus wasn’t doing ministry when he wasn’t doing miracles, when he wasn’t hanging around with people, what he was doing was teaching. He was teaching others. We find the bulk of his teaching in a long discourse called the Sermon of the Mount. In that Sermon on the Mount, he taught a lot of things. So much so that the Sermon on the Mount could be considered a manual for discipleship. A manual that would teach his disciples and his followers what it is to live in this new reality that he would call the Kingdom of God. Last week, we talked about some of the things that Jesus tried to teach that were really way out there like how you are supposed to turn your other cheek when somebody insults you. How you are supposed to respond in love to your enemies and even pray for them. I imagine some of you had that opportunity this last week. I don’t know how you did. Those are things that we were supposed to work on. This week, he is teaching us a new discipline. I would call it the discipline of secrecy. What I am talking about here is learning to do your religious activities in secret. In this particular story, Jesus points out three particular religious acts; the act of giving to the needy, the act of prayer, and the act of fasting. I am going to read from Matthew 6:1 all the way down to 6:18. (Scripture read here.)