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Seeking Your Father’s Approval

(Matt. 6:1-18)

Motive matters

We should practice acts of faith and righteousness to honor God, not ourselves, to
seek His approval, not man’s.

Committed Christians are people who are motivated by love, joy and grace. They
care little about appearances. They are service/faithfulness oriented. They seek to
be used by God.

Hypocrite = acting, playing a part to be seen and approved of by others, implies


insincere motives

Giving to the poor

Commanded in Scripture (Lev. 25:35-37; Deut. 15:7-8)

It is intended to be a blessing to giver and receiver, and to honor God.

Much of today’s giving is “trumpeted”.

Discreet giving is an expression of faith (How so?)

Prayer

Private (always?)

No special words, repetition or incantations

The power is not in the words but in the hearer!

Our Father already knows are needs before we ask

Lord’s Prayer

“Our Father” reflects a personal and intimate relationship

“Hallowed be thy name” acknowledges that God is worthy of honor and


respect.

We should pray for God’s holiness to be recognized by all (Luke


11:2; Ps. 72:19; Rev. 15:4)
“Your kingdom come” acknowledges God’s sovereignty and power and
the benefits of His kingdom.

We should pray for God’s Kingdom to reign in the hearts of men


(Luke 11.2)

“Your will be done on earth” expresses submission to His will

“Give us this day our daily bread” acknowledges God’s genuine concern
and provision for us, and accepts the day by day nature of the Christian
experience.

“Forgive our debts as we forgive our detours” acknowledges a lifestyle


based on both receiving and demonstrating grace.

God alone has authority to forgive sins (Isa. 43:25, 44:22, Dan.
9:9, Mark 2:6)

Because all sin is ultimately against Him (Ps. 51:4)

Jesus manifest this authority (Mark 2:10)

To receive forgiveness requires faith (Mark 2:5)

To receive forgiveness requires admission of sin and repentance (1


John 1:9)

Pride stands in the way of this

“Led us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” asks that God not
abandon us to the influence of evil.

Where does saving strength come from?

God (Ex. 13:3; 14:13; Josh. 5:13–6:2; 1 Sam. 17:47; 2


Sam. 22:33; Isa. 40:31; Ps. 18:2; 20:6, 27:1, 28:7, 118:14,
140:7; Eph. 6:10)

Who is our struggle against? (Eph. 6:11-12)

The Devil/Satan (1 Chron. 21:1; Job 1:6-7; Zech. 3:1-4;


Ezek. 28: 11-17; Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 22:31; John 8:44;
13:27; Acts 5:3; 13:10; 2 Cor. 2:10-11; 11:13-15; 2 Thes.
2:9; 1 Tim. 3:6; 5:14-15; James 4:7; 1 John 3:8; 1 Pe. 5:8;
Rev. 2:9; 13:24; 3:9; 20:10)
Rulers (John 12:31: 14:30; 16:11: 2 Cor. 4:4: Eph. 2:1-2: 1
John 5:19)

Authorities (Col. 2:15: 1 Pe. 3:22, conquered by Christ and


made subject to Him)

Powers of this dark world (Acts 26:16-18: Matt. 24:29: 2


Cor. 4:3-4: 1 Pe. 2:9)

Spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms (Dan. 10:12-


13: 20-21: Isaiah 14:12-15: 1 Pe. 2:4: Rev. 12:7-9) Demons
(Matt. 12:22-28: 17:14-18: Mark 5:6-10: Luke 11:14-22: 1
Tim. 4:1) (Contrast: 2 Kings 6:15-19, the Heavenly Army
of God)

The Prayer God Hears (1 Kings 8 & 9)

The prayer of a humble/repentant heart (2 Chron. 7:13-14)

Prayer that falls in line with God’s own direction/intentions (Jer. 29:11-12,
Matt. 6:10 & Luke 11:2, 1 John 5:14-15)

David prays for his house in accord with God’s promise to him (2
Sam. 7:27)

Earnest/Persistent Prayer (Zech. 8:20-21, Ps. 55:16-17, Luke 11:9-13,


Luke 18:1-7, 1 Thes. 5:17) (Earnest means zealously and with serious
intent and determination)

Earnest means zealously and with serious intent and determination

Persistent: To stay the course despite adversity or opposition

The 4 Gospels show that Jesus had a persistent prayer life (Luke
22:44)

“Soaking Prayers”: continual, particular, earnest, guided by faith

Persistence demonstrates true, abiding faith

Faithful Prayer (Mark 11:24, James 5:15)

The prayer of one acting in a righteous manner (2 Kings 20:1-6, Ps. 34:15,
Prov. 15:8, James 5:16-18, 1 Pe. 3:12)

God searches are hearts (Matt. 6:7-8, Rom. 8:26-27)


Prayer God doesn’t hear

Prayer of those acting in a manner that offends God (Jer. 7:16-18, see also
Ps. 66:18)

Fasting

Is an act of self-deprivation (very counter to today’s culture of self-indulgence)

Fasting is a “sacrifice of the personal will” and a time to “humble your


soul.”

Congress proclaimed three national fasts. Abraham Lincoln called for a


national fast on three different occasions.

Designed to help us to focus on, and demonstrate earnestness in, repentance and
prayer.

The story goes that there was a worldwide convention where Satan and his
demons schemed of how to effectively tempt the followers of Christ. In
the devil’s opening address to his followers, he said, “We can’t keep
Christians from going to church but we can steal their time. Let’s keep
them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to
occupy their minds… keep them busy, busy, busy! And when they meet
for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they
leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions. Let’s crowd their
lives with so many good things that they have no time to seek the best
things.”

Most examples of fasting found in the Scriptures relate to food, and on occasion,
water. Moses and Jesus are but two examples (See Deut. 9:9; Matt. 4:2). There are
at least two others, however. (1) The Jews fasted not only from food but also from
work on the Day of Atonement. They did this to symbolize that it was God’s work
and not their own that would atone for their sins (See Lev. 23:26-28). (2)
Likewise, the Apostle Paul addresses the topic of fasting in 1 Cor. 7:4-5. There he
provides some guidelines for married couples who have elected to fast from their
sexual relationship with each other for a time of prayer.

Fasting has often been used by God’s people when there is a special urgency
about the concerns they lift to the Father. This was Ezra’s motivation as he was
about to lead a group of exiles back to Jerusalem (See Ezra 8:21-23).