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What's your Treasure Pt. 1 Matt. 6:14-24

December 7, 2014 Speaker: Jim Galli Series: The Gospel of Matthew

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 6:14–6:24

What's Your Treasure?

12‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

14“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

16“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. 17“But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18so 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.

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

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

24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Q. What is man's greatest need?
A. Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the gateway to LIFE. Spiritual life. A friendship and sonship with the God of creation.

Everyone has their favorite verses that to them, seem the most crystal clear on things foundational to life.

One of mine is in Isaiah. I think this defines our problem, at least, perfectly.

Isa. 59:1 - 2 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. 2But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Sin seperates us from God. We are, in a sense, stillborn in this world. Born dead. Born in sin, and it is a foul stench to God who is holy. That's our situation. That's why forgiveness is the baseline where everything begins.

And we are helpless to do anything about it. Dead people don't engage in self improvement. They're dead. People on a slab in a morgue aren't laying there thinking, "I know this is bad, but if I can just reach my bootstraps, I can pick myself up."

Paul, to the Colossians. He not only re-defines the problem, he gives the solution.

Col. 2:13 - 14 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.…

You were dead. Dead people don't initiate anything. They're dead.

Look at the order of events as Paul describes them in that verse. Christians have been fussing over this for 20 century's. I think John Calvin got it just about right. You were dead. He made you alive.

One of the most famous stories in all the bible approaches man's problem and God's solution. Turn for a minute to John 3 and see if these things don't ring true.

Jn. 3:1 - 3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nic wants to beat around the bush about why Jesus can do what He does, but Jesus knows what he really wants to know is, Where does life on this plane that you live on come from? and How can I get it?

Jesus gets right to the issue. You're dead Nicodemus. You're seperated from the kingdom of God, the authority to reign of God. Dead people live in this world that's seperated from God. This world that's ruled by Satan. You've got to be born again. You've got to be quickened from the dead Nicodemus. Made alive together with Jesus.

Nicodemus is trying to fathom how to do that in vss. 4 - 6.

4Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

How do I do that. How do I accomplish that? Then, in vs. 7 Jesus says something stunning. Maybe you've never seen this quite this way before.

Jesus says, You don't. It's not up to you Nicodemus. The sovereignty in these next 2 verses just takes my breath away.

Jn. 3:7 - 8 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Dead people have as much control over their own salvation as Nicodemus has over the wind. The wind blows where it wishes. The spirit quickens who He wishes. Does that shock you?

Man needs forgiveness. Man is dead in sin. Born dead. God quickens who He wills, from the dead, and breathes life into His own. Forgiveness of sin is ground zero for spiritual life.

12‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

14“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Beyond the forgiveness that ushers us out of Satan's kingdom and into God's kingdom, we will need forgiveness daily as we walk though this world.

Peter and Jesus have a discourse the night of His betrayal that paints this picture beautifully for us. It's in John 13, immediately following the Lord's supper. Follow along as I read it;

John 13:3 - 10 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”

Peter's just being Peter. He had lots of issues to work through. It gives the rest of us in the hard and thick head club hope.

I am forgiven, once for all when I was born again. But as I walk through this life, my feet get dirty . . daily. Hourly for some of us hard heads. We need forgiveness, daily. Clean, positionally. Sin gets in, practically.

We confess our sin and ask for cleansing . . daily? Hourly? It's part of another commandment. Pray without ceasing. Forgiveness is once for all, and it's also, ongoing, as long as I'm in this broken body living in this broken place.

Jesus addresses that in the Lord's prayer, in our verses this morning, and there's a caveat included.

12‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

14“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

This is a conditional statement. If you forgive others, God will forgive you. If you fail to forgive others, God will NOT forgive you. Ouch!

That sounds like it's important. It is. Here's why.

Here we go with Peter again. Soveriegn God chose Peter because half the intructional stories in the gospel wouldn't be there if there was no Peter. So I want to look at Matthew 18 for a minute to bolster what Jesus says here about forgiveness.

Peter thinks he's really starting to catch on. He's beginning to "get it". And a little background, the Jews taught that you forgive someone 3 times, and then, go ahead and crush them.

So in this story, Peter raises the bar! All the way to seven! And he thinks he's a pretty good candidate for 4rth person in the trinity with that kind of spirituality.

Mt. 18:21 - 35 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

You can just see the halo floating above Peter's head here if you look close. Seven times?? Whoa! Double the jews plus 1. Good form Peter!

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

You know, Pam, has to live with me. And she could get to this number if she started keeping track. I bought her an I-pad. She could start a log and get there. 490 sins mister. Wham!

But that misses the point doesn't it. Nobody, without an I-pad, could get to that number. Jesus is saying, you have to forgive your brother an infinite number of times, not seven times, or 3 times.

And then he tells a story that illustrates perfectly for us the weight (here we go with weight again) of our sin against God compared to any of our brethrens sins against us.

23“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24“When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25“But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26“So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27“And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28“But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29“So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30“But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31“So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32“Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34“And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

10,000 was simply the highest number that the world knew in Roman times. It was like us when we were kids throwing the word google around. 1 with 100 zero's. Then some other kid would throw out infinity and say his number was even bigger.

If you do the math at the current rate of gold, 10,000 talents is like 25 billion dollars. And you're a guy making wages. You can't get there from here. It's 10,000 times an impossible number.

So the king says, I'm going to get what what I can. Sell him, his wife, his kids, and everything he owns, and bring at least whatever that comes out to be, to me. Whatever this guys net worth is, get it, and bring it to me.

That's our situation before a Holy God. The debt is un-payable. We're dead in our sins. So even what we could do, has the stench of death all over it.

There is only one thing left to do. Beg for mercy. And that's what the man does. And the Master is full of compassion and grace and he forgives the debt. Gone. Wiped clean.

And then you go find a guy that owes you 100 days wages. That's a sizable debt. That's a used pickup truck. But your debt was a small nation. The Hawaiian Islands. I'm trying to put this in some kind of vernacular to make the ratio of the different weights of the debts sort of real.

You're making wages but your debt would buy the island of Oahu. You're forgiven. Then a fellow slave owes you a used pickup truck. He borrowed yours and totaled it. He can't pay either. So you choke him out and throw him in prison.

You're Bernie Madoff and bilked people for billions of dollars, and you're choking out a guy who owes you $300 bucks.

Are you starting to see the picture?

Years ago, when our oldest daughter was 10 she was riding her bike on dynamite road up by the corner, before the stop signs were there, and a local guy was coming the other direction and didn't see her and just about killed her. It's horrific for me to even think about.

God was gracious and we didn't lose a beloved daughter. She got mostly well. But the lawyer was a bit befuddled by our reaction. This guy didn't really have anything to take, but the lawyer kept saying don't you want to press charges?

Me and Pam never had to even think about it. No. He was just a guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I've driven too fast on that same road too many times. We forgave him. God forgives us. The reason neither of us had to think twice about it was this passage right here. We were friendly with him until the day he died.

Are you struggling with this. We do. There are people who are just mean. People who hurt our kids. People who make us struggle with this truth.

Another kid story. Our girls were all pretty athletic. They weren't uncoordinated like their dad. They were good at sports. The kind of kids you would want on your team.

Even so, we went through a period where the coach was a Mormon and our kids were Baptists, and he just simply didn't like them. He was sort of mean to them. He didn't make them welcome on the team and he didn't let them participate. That's really frustrating for moms and dads. Your kid is solid and they're not getting a fair shake because of religious stuff.

Those are wimpy examples. Let's face it, in our situation in America we aren't too hard pressed. We have good laws in place and perhaps the best system to obtain justice or protect yourself from injustice the world has ever known.

We understand these verses but honestly, it's not that big of a deal.

What if it becomes a big deal? Are you ready to take forgiveness to another level, if it pleases God to allow that to happen here.

I hope that never happens, but I just want you to think about it ahead of time, in case it does. Give yourself a bit of mental exercise now, in case it happens later.

What if our religion becomes a target and the government starts taking your stuff away? Does that change anything about what Jesus said here? Are you ready to forgive, really bad people, who cause really unthinkably bad things to happen to you? Because you're a christian and you make a choice for what this book says?

As I looked at this particular passage in total, the common denominator that ties all of the things in the next few paragraphs together is the idea of treasure. Ultimate treasure. Otherworldly treasure. A treasure that this world neither sees or comprehends.

The treasure is Jesus and His kingdom.

In vss. 14, 15, forgiveness is the threshold that we cross over to have the treasure. Forgiveness is how we enter into His kingdom. We leave Satan's kingdom behind. We see the treasure of knowing God, through Christ. He forgives us our debt, and we forgive everyone else, everything. Totally.

Then in vss. 16 - 18 we have fasting. What goodies from the old world would you give up to have more of the treasure. It's all about rewards. Treasure. Your heavenly father who sees in secret will reward you. More of the treasure. More of Jesus.

In vss. 19 - 21 it talks about the trade off of treasure on earth vss. treasure in heaven. Treasure that doesn't last compared to treasure that is forever. And it also talks about your heart connection to . . . whatever treasure you choose to work for.

In vss. 22 and 23 it talks about being able to see the treasure. Spiritual vision.

Then finally in vs. 24 he pulls the whole idea of treasure together in a servant master relationship. This world is your master. Or treasure in heaven is your master. What's it going to be.

We'll take a look at these and I think, we'll finish this portion up next week. But this week, since I have a bit of time left, look with me at the part about fasting. Something you can look at me and tell real quick, I suck at it.

Maybe before my life is finished I'll learn some deeper truths about fasting.

16“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. 17“But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18so 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.

The first thing to notice is, there's no discussion about whether you will or will not fast. It's assumed that you will. It's just given as an obvious with no other explanation or requirement. Sooner or later, you will fast.

MacArthur teaches that most real fasting is caused by heart stress. You lose a loved one or some other similar stress enters your life, and you just go through a natural period where eating is the last thing on your mind.

Been there? If you haven't, chances are, you will. It's sort of built into the human experience.

Your wife or husband or mother or father, or your kids are hanging in the balance, dangling between life and death. Let's see, do you go get a cheeseburger, or do you get on your knees. There are times of fasting caused by deep need. Food is forgotten. Prayer is what you're about.

That's part of it. On the other hand, Paul seems to say that he beats his body into submission. I think perhaps that's a very real possibility. Disciplining your body to do without what it wants for a set amount of time. Training yourself to be master over your appetites.

I'm hiding behind this pulpit. I'm good at some things . . not so good at others. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is ready for a bacon cheeseburger.

What we have here though is not whether you're going to fast. Like I said, it's assumed you are. The point here is; when you do, don't be a phony about it.

The Pharisees and hypocrites would fast and they would mope around and make sure everyone knew they were neck deep in this fast and might even die from it.

Once again Jesus says, they're paid in full. The attention they were after, trying to make everyone else see how fabulously spiritual they are . . Paid in Full.

If you are a pharisee, there is no further treasure to get. This world is all they've got. So what can they get, here and now, from this world as payment for fasting. Accolades. Everyone impressed with your spirituality. Suffering for God. It's all about now. It's all about what you can get from this world.

But, if you put on a cheerful winsome countenance and you're fasting for the sake of prayer or even just discipline, and no one else knows that you're doing it, then there is treasure. More of Jesus. More of His spiritual power. Answered prayer. A closer walk with God. More of the real treasure.

We all make choices every day that swing one way or another. More of this world and it's goodies. Or more treasure in heaven. More of Jesus.