Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Serve God Secretly
Pastor Steve Schell
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus illustrates how born-again people will live. Those who enter the Kingdom of God through repentance and faith in Him will be transformed by a new power. They will be able to truly fulfill the commands of God’s law and do so for the right reasons. In other words, their hearts will be changed until they love God and people the way Jesus does. Their righteousness will surpass that of even the scribes and pharisees (Mt 5:20) who were the most zealous religious people of that day. He said born-again people will handle anger differently (vs 21-26), respond to sexual temptation differently (vs 27-32), keep promises differently (vs 33-37), respond to religious persecution differently (vs 38-48), and in the passage we’re studying today, He said, they’ll fulfill spiritual disciplines such as giving, prayer and fasting differently as well. The underlying point He makes over and over again is that God wants us to obey Him because our hearts have been changed. Those who try without this inner miracle only end up in religious hypocrisy.

A. What three “righteous practices” (spiritual disciples) does Jesus use to illustrate this principle? (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18)
- Giving
- Praying
- Fasting
This is not an exhaustive list. They are examples used for illustration.

B. What does Jesus say about our spiritual disciplines?
(v 1) God knows why we do what we do. Religious activities not done with the right motive receive no reward from Him.
(v 2) If our real motive is to gain human approval, there is no approval from God.
(v 3) Those with the right heart will avoid drawing human attention to their acts of service.
(v 4) Serving God with the right motive always brings a reward.

C. What are the motivations God wants to see in our heart?
1. Fear of God
- Pr 1:7 “…the beginning of wisdom”
- Enough faith to be afraid to disobey God (believe God exists and sees)
- Reward: Avoid bringing trouble upon yourself
2. Faith in God
- Hebrews 11:6 “…He is a rewarder… “
- Enough faith to expect God to bless me for my obedience
- Reward: Blessings from God
3. Love for God
- Jn 14:23 “… if anyone loves Me, he will keep My word …”
- Enough faith to draw us into a friendship with God. We see Him for who He is and:
1) want to be like Him; 2) want others to know Him; 3) want to bless His heart
- Reward: More of Him (It isn’t about material blessing — although they come with remarkable ease and frequency. He is my reward.)
- Where is my treasure? Mt 6:19

D. Does serving God secretly replace public ministry?
Jesus is not saying that serving God in secret replaces public ministry. The secret place prepares us for public ministry. In the secret place we are:
1. Tested: Those who are faithful when only God watches are trusted with more.
2. Taught: It’s what we hear in the darkness that we speak in the light (Mt 10:27). What we “see” in the darkness that we do in the light.
3. Transformed: We are changed into His image as we behold Him (2Co 3:18).
What we do in public should only be the “tip of the iceberg.” If so, there is an evident “anointing.”

E. What does Jesus mean by the “secret place”? The tabernacle in the wilderness illustrates three different levels at which we approach God:
1. The Outer Court (Ex 27:9-19)
- Emphasis: forgiveness - Activity: confession of sin
- N.T. promise: 1Jn 1:8
2. The Holy Place (Ex 25:23-40; 30:1-10)
- Emphasis: Supplication
- Activity: Ask God for bread and light
- N.T. promise: Php 4:6
3. The Holy of holies (Ex 25:10-22; 26:31-33)
- Emphasis: Fellowship
- Activity: Beholding God’s personal presence (Ex 25:22; 40:34, 35)
- N.T. promise: Jn 14:16, 17; Ac 2:3

F. Where is that “secret place” today?
- Unvoiced communication in the heart.
- Daily quiet time.
- Activities done in private (prayer, worship, dance, prophecy, speaking in tongues, raising hands, kneeling, fasting)

Discussion Questions
1) Where and when do you make time to be with the Lord?
2) When you were born-again how did your attitude change about giving, prayer or fasting? Describe yourself before and after.


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