Did you know that in our being blessed by God we are also being tested? When the Lord blesses our lives, we have a decision to make on whether we are going to keep all of the Lord’s blessing or be more open handed with the flow of God through our lives. Blessing’s Test  is found in Matthew 6:1-4, and when we are blessed by God, we experience something that cannot be found from any other source. The Bread of Life says in Matthew 6:1~Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (ESV) 

Back to Mamaw’s clothesline where the streamy heat of summer has hardened the usual suspects, those closet faves we all go to have become stiff as boards. Sharing how the rabbis were teaching what they considered to be most important: almsgiving (giving to the needy), praying and fasting. These three were commissioned as the most important religious acts of Jewish believers. However, when done just to be seen by others, Jesus shares that our likes are our reward or the blessing is complete in the approval of others. Perhaps we could learn something from this in our #selfie craze of why we are placed in a position of more important than Jesus Christ. 

Hear me clearly, God doesn’t reward good deeds done for aggrandizement or self-recognition. Rather, Jesus says in, Matthew 6:2~Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites (ὑποκριτής hypokritēs) do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (ESV) If our goal is likes, then share or post, but if our goal is God’s blessing, keep it to yourself. We must comprehend and apply the practice of helping the poor, for it is required by God. Listen to Ole Mo preach to the body in Deuteronomy 15:11~There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. (NIV) 

Pastor, why are you coming at me with Old Testament Law? Because God does not change! (Micah 3:6) Thus, Jesus says in Matthew 26:11 ~The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. (NIV) The command was to be openhanded towards others. We will never eradicate hunger, but we can work more diligently towards feeding those in need, by sharing what God has blessed us with. If you were wondering how you could get involved, we have tubs that collect food each week for the Food Pantry. Next week, we will serve hungry families a hot meal at Plentiful Harvest Kitchen. You are able to buy an extra box cereal or a few canned goods to bring with you to community to feed our community, meeting others needs. We can be better givers.

Jesus demands His followers to do likewise. However, what we are not to do is act like a hypocrite. (ὑποκριτής hypokritēs) is the Greek word for a stage actor, one who pretends to be something he or she is not. Perhaps one of Satan’s most powerful tools for undermining a church, hypocrisy. Some have asked Pastor why do we serve and give, because it keeps us honest in our faith. Remember what God did to Ananias and his wife Sapphira—the first two hypocrites of the early church? For the praise of people, they sell a property and pretend to give God all the proceeds. When Ananias lies to Peter about giving the whole amount, Peter tells Ananias he is lying not only to men but also to God (Acts 5:1-4). Acts 5:5~When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. (NIV) I don’t share this for you to be fearful, rather my desire is for you to give cheerfully, with joy and to watch how God blesses you accordingly.

How many dead people would there be in churches today, if God did the same thing to all of the hypocrites? Hypocrisy is a very frightfully serious sin since it does enormous damage to the church Jesus died to redeem. Listen to Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:3~But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (ESV) Instead, He says our giving should be in secret. This doesn’t mean churches should not keep records of giving, but Christ Jesus does forbid giving to impress others. When giving is done in secret, Jesus says in Matthew 6:4~…And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (ESV) This is Blessing’s Test are we about the Father and His business, or are we about ourselves. Our task is to build His kingdom and not our following. 

Today, as part of an Authentic Life, why not help, pray, encourage, someone around you that just needs a little fruit from your fruit stand of life. You can begin by asking the Lord who needs His touch. Then watch as His joy fills and empowers you to minister.

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