Matthew 6:16-18

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When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. - Matthew 6:16-18

Dear Jesus,

I have fasted for you but I know very few people who have. However, your insight and encouragement still have application for our lives. You don't want me to display my spiritual devotional habits for the praise and admiration of people. You want me to be authentic in my devotion to you and to do things secretly just for you. It shows real faith to practice a devoted life and not talk about it to others. Oh Savior, extricate me from all external-ism that craves the praise of people. Look on my private devotion and reward me openly when and how you want. I believe you won't miss the slightest act of devotion. I will spend time with you and make sacrifices for you without letting others know.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God sees everything we do for him. We don't need anyone else to take notice.

Matthew 6:14-15

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For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. - Matthew 6:14-15

Dear Jesus,

You are so serious about forgiveness. Right after you gave us the Lord's Prayer you reached back to tell us that if we do not forgive, you will not forgive us. It's like the end all, be all, in our relationship with you. It's all about grace. We live by grace with you and that grace changes the way we treat everyone else. There is no room for our resentment, anger, acidic criticism and chronic complaining. You want us to forgive everyone of every sin or weakness, big or small. Oh, Jesus, see how I get what you are saying? Now practicing it is a whole different story. It's impossible for me to forgive like you without you and your Holy Spirit to help me. So, I am praying that you would give me the power to live in forgiveness toward everyone. I want to be grace filled and grace driven.

Pastor Don Patterson

Full and free forgiveness is the exclusive right and blessing of Jesus Christ. No one else creates and sustains it like he does.

Matthew 6:9-13

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“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name, 
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ - Matthew 6:9-13

Dear Jesus,

How could we ever improve on the prayer you gave us? It shows us what kind of prayer you and the Father want from us. Help me learn the meaning of every phrase and learn to pray it from my heart.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

The prayer Jesus gave us shows us how God wants us to think and talk to him.

Matthew 6:5-8

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. - Matthew 6:5-8

Dear Jesus,

I see two big points about prayer here. They both convict me since I send out my prayer to you and to thousands of others every day. You don't want us to pray for show and you don't want us to throw words up at you as if we are working our way into your favor through our prayers. You see my heart. That is a sobering realization. You know my motives in every thought whether it’s a prayer or just an idea I embrace. Oh, Lord, let your kingdom come in my prayers, in my life and in my space. You know my needs, my wants and my plans. Do what you need, want and plan. And thank you for being the author and preserver of my life.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God loves authentic believing prayer that comes from a heart that gets him.

Matthew 6:1-4

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Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. - Matthew 6:1-4

Dear Jesus,

Spare me from the strong desire to receive affirmation from people that I am doing the good things in life. Help me to be thoughtlessly thoughtful and carelessly generous. Make me forget my good deeds the moment I finish them and focus the eyes of my heart on the welfare and needs of others. Make me compassionate for them and happy for their successes. Just help me get over myself and learn to be as in love with people as you are.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Living for others is a great cure for boredom and unhappiness.

Matthew 5:43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. - Matthew 5:43-48

Dear Jesus,

You modeled love for your enemies perfectly. I'm glad you did becasue your life covers mine. It really clears the air to hear you say, "Even pagans love their own people and greet them." It's not special Christian love to love those who love me first. It's special Christian love to show love to those who hate and mistreat me. A few times in my life you have walked with me through this special kind of love. It was a moving experience for me and the people you made me love. Give me this over the top unconditional love for the sand paper people in my life. Make me mature in love like you and your father are. I cannot do this one on my own. I will need your Spirit's supernatural power.

AMEN

Pastor Don Patterson

We weren't lovable when God first loved us. So, don't expect people to earn your love before you give it. Change them into someone lovable by how you treat them.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:38-40

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You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. - ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:38-40

Dear Jesus,

Our natural inclination is to fight for our own rights and defend our freedom. But you tell us that it’s strength to wrestle our own selves to the turf and let others have their way. You call us to believe that if we react
kindly to someone being mean that our actions will work on their hearts to convert them to your love. I want to go there but I need your supernatural help to believe it’s going to work. Otherwise it seems like foolishness. Help me trust your word over my own opinions. Make me
change agent for others.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

When we love our enemies we turn them into friends.

Matthew 5:33-37

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Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. - Matthew 5:33-37

Dear Jesus,

How hard it must be for you to watch us puny little humans make promises and ask others to trust our ability to make things happen for them, when you know all along that your heavenly father holds our every breath in the palm of his hand. Your father has complete control of my life. I just want to be faithful to my word and let him take care of everything else. Help my generation to quit flippantly saying, "I swear to God." as if your name is free for our slang. Make us reverent and dependent on your father just as you were perfectly during your entire life. Our lives are in his hands. It gives us peace but it also makes us careful not to boast about ourselves and our ability to accomplish anything without him.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

Matthew 5:31-32

It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. - Matthew 5:31-32

Dear Jesus,

Teach us to love marriage the way you do. Every generation including my own has found a way to spurn the beautiful institution you have invented. Help me hold my own marriage sacred as well as the partner you have chosen for me. Thank you for the many ways she has blessed our children and me. Help me see her needs and find creative ways to meet them. And protect our marriage from outside forces that would cheapen or destroy what you have given us. Most of all, help us model in our marriage the wonderful relationship you have with your church. Finally, help single Christians do what they can to honor the marriages all around the by the way they encourage their married friends to be the best friend of their mate.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Marriage is God's thing. He is absolutely in love with the concept.

Matthew 5:27-30

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You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. - Matthew 5:27-30

Dear Jesus,

In this uncommitted culture, I easily remove myself from the law about marriage. I have never committed adultery so I feel smugly righteous. But then, you drive a spear in my heart. You tell me I have committed adultery in my heart more times than I could count. Help me take my thoughts as seriously as you do. Help me fight for a pure heart that refuses to objectify people. Give me the discipline and love to focus on helping and encouraging others instead of exploiting them in my heart. Make me a grace driven, truth sharing, love showing, saint. I want to help others see your intentions for marriage by the way I hold all marriages sacred, starting with my own.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Marriage is one of God's most cherished possessions. Don't do anything to mess it up.

Matthew 5:23-26

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Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.- Matthew 5:23-26

Dear Jesus,

I live among a people that are addicted to litigation. Every car wreck and every mishap in the hospital is punctuated by law suits. It bleeds down to our personal relationships where we seem to be more interested in getting even or ahead than reconciled. Our marriages are ravaged, our friendships shattered and neighbors live in cool tension with one another. Give me the spirit of your word here, that leads me to resolve conflict with forgiveness, compromise and peace loving friendship. Help me see the value in winning them over rather than winning over my enemies.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Conflict is an opportunity to unleash the gospel at street level. Don't mess it up by trying to win.

Matthew 5:21-22

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. - Matthew 5:21-22

Dear Jesus,

When I read the commandment not to murder, I feel righteous. I have never murdered anyone. But when you teach the deeper meaning, I am condemned and so is everyone else. I have called people names for making mental errors. I have judged them in my heart for their mistakes and I have defamed other drivers on the road around me. O Jesus, I have murdered people's reputations with my words. It's so easy for us sinners to measure sins by degrees. But you won't allow that. If we put someone down, it's the same as murder to you and our heavenly Father. Forgive me for murdering people before you. Thank you for letting yourself be murdered in every way for me. If it were not for your substitution I would be lost forever. In love, I will work very hard to preserve the lives and reputations of everyone around me.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God never flies off the handle at anyone you despise. He loves them too much.

Matthew 5:17-20

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Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:17-20

Dear Jesus,

Ever since the fall of humanity my species trades on grey. We act as if there is grey area in every matter. But from heaven you have sent a perfect word, the perfect law, and here you declare that it would never disappear until everything is accomplished. It reminds me that I must let your law do it's invasive work. It must show me my sin and humble my reckless heart. It must bring me in line and make me bow in repentance before your throne. It must speak the painful truth to me, so I can be driven back to you. There I see you in all your holiness. You kept the law perfectly for me. You are my Savior. In you, my righteousness surpasses that of earthly Pharisees. In you I receive righteousness as a gift that mocks the righteousness of "do gooders" and moralistic teachers. In you there is no condemnation but also a renewed desire to walk in your Father's way. I want to do good because you have made me good. Oh Jesus, help this lost world to find you and your grace!

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

The law and morality are perfect but they are still the little brother to Jesus.

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You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:14-16

Dear Jesus,

It happened to me again yesterday. I was waltzing along minding my own business and you placed in front of me an individual for me to witness to, to love, to gently confront with your gospel, to encourage - and - I just wanted to move along and not make waves. I could tell you were taking the bowl off my lamp. I felt the urge to drag it back over. I felt your nudge and you led me to speak. Thanks for being there for both of us. You have made me your child and enlightened me with redeeming and forgiving love. Give me a generous heart that's willing to be uncomfortable in order to shine on others too. Help me be intrusive with your word and grace so others have that heavenly something to think about after I pass through their world. Shine through me, Jesus. I get it that you do not want your light hidden in me.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Truth in Christ is like light, the smallest flicker can fill any dark room with it's glow.

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You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. - Matthew 5:13

Dear Jesus,

You have made me salt by redeeming me and teaching me your ways. It makes me different than the world. I have love for people, love for the truth and love for purity. Being different can be abrasive, even painful. But I know it enables me to make a difference in people's lives. I am your preservative. Don't allow me to hide or lose my saltiness. Instead, give me boldness to speak your truths into the lives of others. Once I have touched them with truth, they cannot erase it from their minds. It's there to do it's work all on it's own. Give me faith and love that make me season the world of people around me.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

We were created in Christ to make an eternal difference in others. Don't rob them of the effect.

Matthew 5: 1-12

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Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad,because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. - Matthew 5: 1-12

Dear Jesus,

What you taught on that mountain is counter intuitive to how we are hard wired. In our fallen state we are hardwired to believe a "A match don't burn twice." and "Look out for number one." and "If it feels good do it." and "You gotta believe in yourself." But you say, "be humble. poor in spirit, a peacemaker, merciful, pure in heart, hungry for righteousness, happy to be persecuted for doing the right thing." That's not my default document. That's supernatural spiritual truth meant to raise me up into the man you always wanted me to be. I can't do it without your help. So, I'm begging you now, please fill me with your Holy Spirit and bring to mind your empowering words so I live the blessed life that you and all of heaven know is right. Make these beatitudes my attitude and give me the ability to swim upstream past the petty spiritual perjuries of my times.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Christ's love compels to us to bring him with us to help us die for our generation like he did for his.

Psalm 31:15-16

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My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love. - Psalm 31:15-16

Dear Heavenly Father,

It's good for a weak and weary soul like mine to be reminded that my times are in your hands and nobody else's. I can spend way too much time worrying about how my life will go. Your unfailing love covers me. You bought me because you wanted me. You own my life. You have a plan on how you want it to go. You fit me into your masterpiece. I am content to be your child and servant. Help me let go of fear, worry and doubt and to enjoy the moments you have granted me. Give me a good word to share with others today that will make their burden a little lighter.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God has an exclusive one on one grip on each of us.

Jeremiah 32:17

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Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. - Jeremiah 32:17

Dear Heavenly Father,

When I look at the beautiful clouds of many fantastic shapes and sizes, when I hear the thunder and feel the smack of lightening, when I get caught in a wind storm or watch a placid lake rise up in a tumult, - I think, "God you are awesome and powerful, more mighty than anything I have ever imagined." I love how Jeremiah, 1000's of years ago, allowed his observation of your power in creation to give him the confidence that nothing was too hard for you. If you can make and govern all of creation, what are our problems to you. You can handle all our needs and take care of all our sorrows. So, Oh God of nature, I give to you all my concerns. Watch over them and work them out just like you watch over this planet you have invented.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God made everything, why would he not also carry everything for us when we need him to.

Colossians 4:7-9

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Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here. - Colossians 4:7-9

Dear Jesus,

I love hearing Paul talk about his friends and fellow workers in your vineyard. I have friends who go the extra mile with me for you. I trust them and their love for you and your mission. I trust they care about your people as much or more than I do. I trust they are consistently working for unity and avoid whispering behind my back and yours. I trust them to think more about the good than the bad, about grace more than judgement, about love more than hate, about peace more than strife. You know who they are, Lord. Today give them a special blessing from your grace. Strengthen their hands and knees to be bold in kindness toward others and swift to advance your word to dark places.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

A fellow believer, who loves Christ's word and his flock, is a good friend to have.

Colossians 4:2-3

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Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message. - Colossians 4:2-3

Dear Jesus,

You call me to be devoted to prayer with watchfulness and thankfulness. I confess that I am not as devoted to prayer as you want. But I'm talking to you now. I want to be watchful in prayer. I think you mean that you want me to bathe all my moments with prayer asking for your help, direction, rescue and love. That sounds a lot better than mindless listening to the radio or mulling over my life with worry and stress. I like just praying it through. I think to be thankful in prayer means you want me to come to you not with a scolding overtone because I am annoyed about something. Instead, you want me to be thankful that you mercifully listen to each of my requests with a father's love. I'm thankful that you have opened the door for prayer to me. I can ask anything and you will do it if it's best for others and me. If not, you will lead me to where you want me to be. Now Jesus, spread your good news everywhere so more people learn they can pray to you and really be heard.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Thankful prayer flows from a trusting heart.