Matthew 6:9-15 Therefore, Pray

A little girl was walking through the grocery store after school one evening with her mother. As they approached the bakery section, the mother decided to quiz her daughter about prayer. She knew that the Sunday school teacher at church had taught the class about praying each day and asking God for the things they needed. The mom said, “Elaine, can you tell me why we should pray for our daily bread?” The little girl paused for a moment, put her hand to her chin, turned her head slightly, and responded, “If we don’t keep getting new bread, then it will get stale.” Kids say some great things, don’t they? Yet, in all seriousness, we may ask ourselves about the staleness in our own lives. Is it because we have not asked our Father in prayer for the things we need?
Today’s Scripture text is about prayer. Last week we saw how the hypocrites and heathen pray. We also saw a glimpse of how the holy pray. This week we will fill in our understanding a little more as we study the famous text of what is called the Lord’s Prayer. It is not literally a prayer of the Lord, but a teaching moment for the disciples. The Lord Jesus wanted to teach His followers about prayer, so He gave them a model to go by. We can learn a lot from this passage if we open the eyes and ears of our spirits this day.
I invite you to read with me from Matthew 6:9-15. This is the Word of God (READ Scripture).

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.

We are a body of believers, and no one is on their own. Even when we pray individually and privately, we still pray in conjunction with the church. He is "our" Father. He is not just my God and not just your God, but He is "our" Father. Fathers will answer questions and petitions from their children that they would not accept from anyone else in the world. God is our Father. We have a nearness with Him, but that closeness is balanced with His place. He is in heaven. It is important to know where God is when we pray. If He were anywhere else, there would be no use in praying to Him, but He is high and lifted up. He is omniscient, omnipotent, all-resourceful in His heavenly dwelling. He is sovereignly ruling all things. His name was revealed as Yahweh and then completed in the revelation of Jesus, "Yahweh saves." We want His name to be famous, so we pray to that end.

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Notice that adoration and submission come prior to confession and supplication. We want God's will to be done as it is in heaven. And how is it done in heaven? It is done perfectly. How radical of a change would it be if God's will was completely and thoroughly done in all the world? One day that will come to pass. The kingdom originates in heaven, but is coming down among us.

Give us this day our daily bread

Notice the corporate nature of this line as well. Bread refers here to anything that we may need. Any notion that Christians are promised riches and treasures in this life is done away with in this phrase. Christians are those who must call out to God each day for help. "Give me what I need today, Father." In that ancient society, men were paid daily for their work. They would then go and by bread for that day. For the average person there was no storing up of either money or food. If one did not work, one did not eat. So you can see why one would pray for bread on a daily basis.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Let me first say that this does not mean that we can earn our forgiveness by forgiving others as if we can box God into a corner and force Him to do anything. What it does reveal is that God will only forgive the sorrowful. True penitence is a forgiving spirit. I think that our society proves that forgiveness is an uncharacteristic human act. It is not normal for people to forgive one another. Even Christians are guilty on this subject. We are good about praying for forgiveness privately for ourselves, but when it comes to forgiving someone else or asking for forgiveness for something we have done we have a very tough time. Yet, this is what we are called to do. We are to be ministers of reconciliation, even in our prayer lives.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Temptation = Trial = Corrective Discipline

This could mean generically that we are asking God to not abandon us during temptation so that it would overwhelm us or it could mean deliver us from the sin of not forgiving. It is obvious to me that verses twelve through fifteen all concern forgiveness. You see, the Lord wants forgiveness to be at the core of what we do and who we are as Christians.

Matthew 6:5-8 When You Pray

Matthew 6:5-8            When You Pray                                              WC McCarter


The Introduction

This week is an important week for us. Over 80 years ago people starting meeting together to worship God. Many of them were your families, your parents. Some of you were even there. My sermon today is about prayer. As many of you know, the Fort Trial Christian Church actually began as a prayer meeting in 1928 that grew into a church who built the old sanctuary. People like you and I, the Fort Trial people from the beginning, and all Christians are people of prayer. It is not “if” you pray, but “when” you pray.


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How the Hypocrites Pray (5)

For public recognition. The Lord is not against public prayer. He is against holier-than-thou language and preaching to others in prayer. Hypocrites were Greek actors who wore masks. Their reward is to be seen by men, and that is all they will receive.


How the Holy Pray (6)

Privately and purely. The Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. He is seeking those who call out to Him authentically and purely. He wants you to simply talk to Him, lean on the everlasting arms.


How the Heathen Pray (7)

With vain repetitions. The Lord is not against persistent prayer. He is against repeating prayers or phrases with no thought to what you are saying. Some use vain repetitions thinking that they can manipulate God, maybe get the right formula, or show stamina (see Ecc 5:2).


The Conclusion

God knows what we need even before we ask Him. There is nothing wrong with public prayer, but when it is done just as a show then the only reward that will be bestowed will be the praise of others. There is nothing wrong with frequent prayers or saying some of the same things time and again, but if it done aimlessly then the prayer will not be heard. We must not be like the hypocrites or the heathen. We are holy.


We must trust our Father in heaven who is all-knowing and all-resourceful. James teaches that some Christians do not have simply because they do not ask. We must be those who ask. We need to be those who stand in the gap for our families, for our church, and for others.

Matthew 6:1-4 When You Do a Charitable Deed

Matthew 6:1-4            When You Do a Charitable Deed                 WC McCarter 

The Introduction

There is a story about a man who had some land, but he did not keep it to himself so that he may gain interest. He did not draw plans to build on it or to sale it for a personal profit. What in the world would someone with land do with it if they did not do these things? Well, I can tell you that his friends had already given him a new name. They called him “Son of Encouragement.” Now that is a name to be given. This “Son of Encouragement” decided to sell his land and he brought the money to the church leaders so that they could help those who lacking. You may know him as Barnabas.

Yet, Barnabas was not the only one who did this in the early church. Several people who owned land and houses were selling their properties and giving it to the church so that the poor may be helped. The Christians shared in all that they had with one another.  

Another couple also came to the Apostles with an offering from selling a personal possession. Everyone must have thought that this man and woman were wonderful for helping those in need. Yet, the Apostles realize that the couple had lied. Apparently the couple had promised to give all of the money, but didn’t yet pretended that they did. You know this couple as Ananias and Sapphira and there sin was that of hypocrisy. They wanted to gain the notoriety of someone like Barnabas, but they did not want to go as far in the charitable giving as he had. The Apostle Peter does not focus on their dishonesty as much as he does their hypocrisy. Both the man and woman die. 

Today’s sermon concerns the subject of charitable giving and working with the warning to check our motives. It is not “if” you do a charitable deed, but “when” you do. Thus, a passage like this concerns us all. This first phrase that we will read begins with, “Take heed. . .” which can also be said as, “Be careful. . . .” We will be careful in our understanding of this passage, and we must be careful in our application of the text.

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Do not sound a trumpet

There were no government programs to assist those in need in first century Judaism. Therefore the people who could give would help the poor and needy in their communities. This was a major part of their societal system. Yet, much like many aspects of religion today, that system had become corrupt. People gave not because of the goodness of their heart, but because of their appetite for praise from others. Sounding your trumpet could be taken two ways. It could be taken figuratively as making yourself sound good (tooting your own horn). It could be taken literally in that when someone threw their money in the offering boxes the clanging could be heard by all those around.

The word hypocrite comes from the word for Greek actors who wore various masks on stage to play various characters. The Pharisees/scribes were masking themselves with external works of righteousness. They were even masking their true motivations from themselves. You may expect a hypocrite at a theater, but not in church!

They have their reward

Rewards are affirmative recognitions and recompense for praiseworthy moral conduct. Webster’s says that reward is something given or done in return to acknowledge merit. Pharisees were constantly seeking/expecting a reward. This is the sin of the pride of life. Where are you seeking your reward? You will find it, but it may not be as lasting as you first thought. You can seek reward from your Father in heaven or the people around you. You get to make the choice. For those who do things just to be seen by others Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” They have the reward of short-lived praise from others and nothing more. But those who are charitable because of their concern for others and the things of God will be rewarded by God. These rewards may not only be in the future. God may reward you with blessings now. You may receive a clear conscience, answered prayer, satisfaction from helping others, overcoming temptation, etc.

Do not let your left know

It is one thing to keep up with charitable giving for budgeting and accountability reasons. It is another thing to put up wall plaques that list the biggest contributors. Of course no one can hide from their left hand what their right is doing. This is a saying that forces one to think about what is being done. For the most part we should be doing things privately with no big parade. Others will surely know that we have done things, we do not have to keep it a secret from everyone like we are playing a game, but we should be quiet about our charitable giving. Let me also say, there is nothing worse than someone who makes a big deal about keeping the secret or those who quietly do something good, but later bring up what all they have done. Do what you do for the approval of God, not praise of men.

The Conclusion

What is Jesus teaching? He assumes (and in His assumption, commands) that we will do charitable deeds. When we do, we are to check our motives. He has already taught us to be salt in a decaying and corrupted earth. He has told us to let our light shine into the desperate darkness of the world. He said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” That sounds very public while our passage today sounds very private. Jesus is teaching from two different angles. If you find it more tempting to be “hush-hush” about your faith, Jesus says to be firm in your commitment to the things of God. If you find it tempting to be boisterous and self-glorifying, Jesus says that you better check your motives.
Once again, the Sermon on the Mount is teaching us to be different. The Lord was primarily teaching the crowds to be different than the Pharisees, but also to not be like to pagans around them. We, too, must steer clear of the pharisaical attitude. Jesus says, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven,” and He says, “Do not be like them.”

Matthew 5:38-42 Beyond the Limits

Matthew 5:38-42             Beyond the Limits                                                                                           WC McCarter



It is never easy to say, "It is well with my soul." You have had difficult times in your life when you struggled to say that: struggles in your marriage or your finances, a death in the family, and many other things. The Lord Jesus acknowledges that life is not easy and teaches that life as a Christian will be that much more difficult. In today's text, the Lord teaches how to deal with those high-pressure situations caused by others in the world around us. Maybe a hard-nosed police officer goes beyond his call to single you out, or the woman at the register in the grocery store is harsh in her words toward you, or your employer is causing your work life to be miserable. What are you to do?

This passage helps us to learn how to make it through difficult circumstances. Specifically, Jesus wants to teach us how to manage those times when others are misusing us. You may be in a situation just like this at the moment or it may come your way in the near future.


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You have heard

“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is surprisingly a well-known verse in America. It is odd that such a verse is so often quoted. This command is given in Exodus in reference to harm that is done to a pregnant woman and her child; the context of the command in Leviticus is of a man who injures his neighbor; and in Deuteronomy false witnesses are to bear the penalty they tried to bring on the innocent. It appears that these laws were given to restrain the retaliation of a victim’s family and probably the courts as well. If everyone was allowed to take the law into their own hands we would live in chaos. Therefore, the Lord placed retribution in the hands of the courts, but with limitations.


Remember that what Jesus is about to teach is not opposed to the Old Testament teaching. The “eye for an eye” passages in the Mosaic Law were to be sentences passed by the judges of Israel. The people were not to take revenge for themselves. This is what I have determined: Jesus says in essence, You have heard the laws concerning how the courts should rule, now let me tell you what you are to do. Thus, we will have to learn not only how to deal with high-pressure situations, but we will also learn lessons in godly patience and humility.


But I tell you

Let us first say that Jesus is not giving directives concerning the courts, the Mosaic Law we just cited did that, and His commands are not in reference to war or self-defense. This teaching is targeted for individuals. Jesus teaches that His followers are not to resist evil people. Christians are not to retaliate according to what they think is right. The Apostles also picked up this lesson and taught it to the churches. In Romans 12 Paul says, “Repay no one evil for evil,” and again in 1 Thessalonians 5 he says, “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” Peter teaches in 1 Peter 3, “. . . not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling. . . .”


Jesus ends this section of His teaching with four illustrations of how we are to respond to persecution, harassment, and pressure. In each of these four examples of real life situations we will both learn a lesson and receive an actual application to our own lives.


#1 Whoever slaps you

In a society that was all about honor and shame, it was a great humiliation to be slapped. If a man was slapped, he would return the same in a tit-for-tat fashion that would typically turn into a full fight.


#2 If anyone wants to sue you

The Old Testament Law did not allow for someone to sue for another’s outer garment (or cloak). It was used as a blanket at night. So, the inner garment (or tunic) could be taken away.


#3 Whoever compels you to go one mile

Where do you think that little phrase, “Going the extra mile” came from? Here it is. A Roman soldier had the right to demand private citizens/subordinates to carry their military supplies and often did in a cruel manner.


#4 Give to him who asks you

What does this fourth illustration have to do with non-retaliation? Consider those times that you asked to borrow something and were told “no” and you told that same person “no” the next time they asked to borrow from you. That is retaliation, which Jesus is teaching against. We are to give to those who genuinely have need. Often times we have a hard time deciding if someone truly has a need. It would be better to be duped than to neglect a true need. Give what you can and not expect anything back.



Jesus has taught that those who follow Him, those who are called by His name, are those who do not seek retaliation. We are not those who pursue revenge for ourselves. Though I have not always obeyed it perfectly, a passage that has really spoken to me through the years is from 1 Corinthians 6. I think the directness of this passage may add another illustration to what Jesus taught and may help us to better understand. In the context of the Apostle’s scolding the Corinthians for using and abusing one another by taking one another to court Paul says, “Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!” We are left with that simple, straightforward question, why not let yourselves be cheated rather than seek retaliation?


Yet, Jesus takes us much farther than that. As a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is not enough to simply not retaliate. We are to go beyond the limits to selfless sacrifice. For example, when a first century Jewish Christian was approached by a Roman soldier and forced to carry his bags for a mile, it is not enough to obey the soldier and not retaliate. The Christian was commanded to go beyond the limits. He was to go two miles with the soldier’s belongings.

Do not seek the easiest or fastest way out, or search for the least amount to do to obey Christ. Go beyond the limits. Do not repay evil for evil, but repay evil with selfless sacrifice.

Matthew 5:21-26 Be Reconciled

Matthew 5:21-26       Be Reconciled                                                            WC McCarter

Like many of you, I was raised in church. I cannot really remember a time that I was not attending church. Not only did I attend church, but I enjoyed attending. I wanted to be there when the doors were open and I wanted to participate. I soaked-up as much biblical knowledge as I could as a child; I began contributing to the Lord’s Supper by offering meditations before we began and by serving at age twelve; I did a lot of visiting with the minister and with my dad as a teenager; and I started preaching/teaching.

Like many of you who have been Christians for several years, it was easy to fall into a holier than thou type of attitude like the Pharisees. I could have been, and maybe was at times, a real-life little Pharisee. I knew the Bible well and its requirements. I had never sinned in any of the most blatant and vulgar ways. I still haven’t to this day, and most of you have not. Yet, is that all of the righteousness that God requires? We know that it is not. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Today we will talk about our relationships with others. We have no need to talk about murder because most of us do not struggle with that issue, but what about something on the inside? What about something like anger toward others? Do you struggle with it? Christians are to be different than those of the world. We are to ministers of reconciliation.

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You have heard (21)

The sixth commandment of the ten given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai was, “Thou shalt not murder.” The Hebrew word for “murder” (or “kill”) does not include killing for self-defense, capital punishment, or war. It means that you are not to take the life of someone without just reason. Of course, I would say that most of the Pharisees would not even have to worry about that legal jargon because most of them had never killed anyone for any reason.

Yet, Jesus is not focused on what the word means in various situations. He makes the commandment much more difficult to obey. You see, the scribes and Pharisees had become people who wanted to do the bear minimum. They would do the bear minimum of the Law and think that they had fulfilled it. If you kept the bear minimum, external requirement, then you were good to go and could do whatever else you pleased. As long as you had not literally murdered anyone, you were safe from judgment. You could ridicule, persecute, and hate others without any consequence. Jesus is about to give them, and maybe even us, a rude awakening.

But I say to you (22)

Anger can bring judgment. Anger means unrighteous indignation; when you are easily irritated by others leaving you with negative thoughts and bad feelings toward someone else. We think that only murder brings on judgment, but Jesus says that anger toward others does as well.

Jesus teaches that calling your brother/sister “raca” can bring on the council and calling him “fool” can bring on hell fire. There is no progression here as if fool is more depraved than raca. This is mere Hebrew parallelism. “Raca” is from a Hebrew word meaning “empty-headed” and “fool” comes from the Greek language. These words are not always inappropriate, but they are when they are fueled by hate.

Be reconciled to your brother (23-24)

Relationships are more important than ritual. Worship is vital to the Christian life. We assemble together every week to sing praises to and of our God, to pray, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and we are attentive to the Word of God. These things mean the world. There are no more special times than these, but God is not seeking us to worship Him with a heart filled with indignation. Even in the Old Testament, God said, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Jesus quoted that passage several times during His ministry. As one man observed, “. . . our relationship with God is better gauged by our human relationships than by religious ritual” (Moore).

Yes, it is appropriate to prioritize reconciliation with others over attending worship. Of course, Jesus is not teaching that we ought to take a month away from worship to attend to a relationship. He is teaching that when we realize that someone has something against us, we are to immediately try to make it right.

Agree with your adversary (25-26)

Verses 23-24 discuss our reconciliation efforts with a friend, and verses 25-26 discuss our efforts with an adversary. Can I say this simply? It is never good to make enemies. For example, if you find yourself in a court situation, it would be better to settle outside of the courtroom than to take it before the judge. Everyone knows that it is much easier and much less stressful to do so that way. If you go before the judge, you do not know what he may do. You may be thrown in jail and stay there until you pay the last penny. Therefore, agree with your adversary quickly.


First, completing the bear minimum requirements of the Law is not enough. You cannot boil the Law of God down to simple, external rules to keep. You must seek to do what is right, not merely what is easiest. Keep in step with the Spirit. He will empower you to obey the Law of Christ.

Second, sins of the mind and heart are just as sinful as those of the hands. The New Testament teaches that if you break one law, then you are a law breaker. Those who have hate in their hearts are in the same category as murderers. They are both sinners, guilty before a holy God. Of course, murder is a greater sin than hate, but both are of the same ilk. Both are sin.

Third, God requires mercy and not sacrifice. Notice the order of priorities in verse twenty-four. We are told to first be reconciled with our brother/sister and then worship. Do not think that you can approach God with no thought of your relationship with others.

Fourth, remember that you may not have something against someone, but if someone has something against you, then you must do something about it. As much as it depends of you, seek reconciliation with others.

Matthew 5:17-20 Your Righteousness


If you were given a pen and paper and told to write a definition of “righteousness,” what would you say? What kind of righteousness does God require of you? In today’s sermon, we can consider this subject and even come to an answer of what God desires.

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“Do not think” = Many believed that the Messiah would commence his own law, and put the Mosaic law to the side. As we will see, “. . . Jesus is taking pains to relate his teaching and place in the history of redemption to the OT Scriptures” (Carson). He wants the people to make no mistake that He is not doing away with the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament.

“To destroy” = The word here literally means tear down in the sense of abolish or annul. Jesus does not contradict the Law in any of His teachings. He did not want to destroy devotion to the OT, but to enhance it.

“Law or the Prophets” = This phrase means the entire Old Testament. The Jews often referred to all of their Scriptures as either the Law and the Prophets or simply the Law. Remember the OT was the only written Scripture at that time. We cannot fully understand the NT without the OT, and the OT can’t be properly interpreted and applied without the NT. The OT idea brackets the body of the Sermon on the Mount, 5:17 and 7:12.

Connective: Jesus is making sure that His hearers know that His ministry and teaching is based on the OT and we better honor the Hebrew Scriptures.

“To fulfill” = Many people think that Jesus is here referring to one of two things. First, it is often said that Jesus fulfilled the Law in that He taught it as it was intended. Second, Many people say that Jesus fulfilled the Law in the sense that He perfectly modeled it. Jesus, in some sense, did both of these things. Yet, in the context of this comment, we must say that Jesus fulfilled the Law in the sense that He was the One to whom the entire OT pointed. He brought the Law to its intended goal, its fruition in the sense that He was the goal and the fruit. It is not so important that He modeled that perfect righteousness the OT called for, but that He was that righteousness. Do you see? He is the Messiah of God. See Lk 24:27, 44; Jn 5:39

“One jot or one tittle” = Hebrew yod, Greek iota Smallest stroke of the pen, smallest tails of letters. I don’t give one iota means smallest care. The dot of an i or the cross of a t. All of the Scriptures will last for all of time “till all is finished,” that is, accomplished. Even the OT saints knew this, Ps 102:25-26.

“These commandments” = I think Jesus now turns to what He is about to teach. He first made sure that His hearers realized that what He was about to teach did not contradict the OT, but enhanced it.

“Least in the kingdom” = Notice that those who fail in the teachings are not cast out of the kingdom. Yet, they are demoted in rank.

“Unless your righteousness” = We have now come to the key to the Sermon on the Mount. Scribes and Pharisees were the guardians of the Law. They studied it, taught it, and applied it. The people were submissive to them because of the position that the Pharisees held. They were the authoritative figures for the first century Jews. They could not be disputed or questioned. In most people’s estimation, no one was more righteous than the Pharisees and scribes! How in the world would anyone enter the kingdom of heaven if they couldn’t? How could the common folk enter in if their teachers couldn’t?


What kind of righteousness is Jesus calling for? I think we should take the answer to this question to its logical conclusion. Our righteousness is never enough, even if it is better than the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. We need an alien righteousness, something from outside ourselves. The Gospel proclaims and the New Testament teaches that when we put our faith in Christ, His righteousness is given to us.