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Summary: God wants us to practice our righteousness. Note Jesus’ words, “practicing” righteousness – the first time you try it, you’re not so good at it, but you can get better

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THE THREE DISCIPLINES OF PRACTICING RIGHTEOUSNESS

Part two in our series on the Sermon on the Mount…

OPENING TEXT:

“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).

What do we learn from this text?

1. God wants us to practice our righteousness. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

2. Note Jesus’ words, “practicing” righteousness – the first time you try it, you’re not so good at it, but you can get better…

3. Righteousness = purity of life; right thinking, acting or feeling.

4. God is concerned about our heart attitudes in what we do for Him.

ILLUSTRATION: I read about a person who went to a concert at a beautiful old theatre. At the end of the concert, this person noticed two ushers standing near his seat who were applauding harder than anybody else in the whole place. The man said that he was thrilled with this concert because of the talent of the musicians. It thrilled him even more to see these two ushers standing there applauding so vigorously. His experience was diminished when he heard one usher say to the other, “Keep clapping. If we can get them to do another encore, we get overtime!”

5. We all like to be approved and noticed for what we do. Illustration: In Bible College, after hearing teaching on this Scripture, whenever one of our classmates would praise himself for something he did, we would say, “Poof!” They lost their heavenly reward.

6. God will reward us when we do our acts of righteousness in secret. Although this should not be our motivation, there is still a blessing in being obedient!

I. THE DISCIPLINE OF GIVING:

“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).

1. The declaration that all Christians will give, pray and fast: “When…” (not if).

2. What is giving? Two different kinds: (1) giving to the poor & (2) giving tithes

(a) Giving to the poor: “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed” (Proverbs 19:17). (Discuss importance of ministries that give to the poor).

(b) Giving to the Lord in tithes and offerings: “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ’How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation {of you!} Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Malachi 3:8-10). (1/10)

3. In both kinds of giving, we see that God promises a blessing for obedience.

4. “Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.” This does not mean you don’t put your name on a tithing envelope, or you close your eyes, reach into your wallet. It means you don’t boast about your giving!

II. THE DISCIPLINE OF PRAYING:

“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).

1. See again the declaration that all Christians will pray.

2. What is prayer? Developing a personal relationship with Jesus.

3. There’s something inside of us like a magnet that draws us to prayer.

4. Shut the door to distractions, and open the door to Jesus (Rev. 3:20).

5. There’s a reward for prayer! Prayer is the detonator to God’s dynamite.

III. THE DISCIPLINE OF FASTING:

“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).

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