…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

In the Lord’s secret service – worship from the heart, change from the inside out

Honestly, Jesus teaching is simple and direct,
the challenge is living out His Word in our daily lives.
as we yield to His Word and the Holy Spirit.

In this post, we’ll explore,

Devout, religious, pious …
how’s it different from
worship that Jesus teaches, .. that pleases God?
worship from the heart

Devout, religious, pious …
how’s it different from
following Jesus?

In Jesus’ sermon on the mount, there’s a section where He teaches on prayer, giving, fasting, .. expressions of worship.
In this section, Jesus uses contrasting opposites and recurring phrases to bring out His points.
… see if you can spot them

Matthew 6:1-8, 16-21 (HCSB)
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.

(Matthew 6:9-15, Jesus teaches the Lord’s prayer)

16 “Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractive so their fasting is obvious to people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head, and wash your face, 18 so that you don’t show your fasting to people but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

19 “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.

20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

In this passage, Jesus teaches us not to be  like the hypocrites,
and not do as the hypocrites do,
in the synagogues and on the streets,
highlighting the futility of their efforts, i.e.

give to the poor,  sounding a trumpet, to be applauded by people
I assure you: They’ve got their reward!

pray  to be seen by people
I assure you: They’ve got their reward!

their fasting is obvious to people
I assure you: They’ve got their reward!

They’ve got their reward!
applauded by people
People saw it, .. heard it, … (or on camera, or streaming video)
when the applause ends, … so does the glow of the earthly reward.

No response from our heavenly Father,


11 The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this:
‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people
—greedy, unrighteous,adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

12 I fast twice a week;
I give a tenth
of everything I get.’
Luke 18:11 (HCSB)

45 While all the people were listening, He said to His disciples,
46 “Beware of the scribes, who want to go around in long robes
and who love greetings in the marketplaces,
the front seats in the synagogues,
and the places of honor at banquets.
47 They devour widows’ houses
and say long prayers just for show.
These will receive greater punishment.”
Luke 20:45-47 (HCSB)

Back to the passage in Matthew 6 on fasting, praying and giving,
3 times Jesus used the word 
What did Jesus mean?

Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said:

These people honor Me with their lips,
but their heart is far from Me.

They worship Me in vain,
teaching as doctrines
the commands of men.

Matthew 15:7-9 (HCSB)

Physically present, … right words, right actions,
heart and thoughts … a million miles away, ….

heart far from the Lord
Words & deeds,   not truly from the heart.
Lip service, … insincere.

Therefore, the Lord’s response
 They worship Me in vain,
Their worship of me is worthless (NCV), pointless (GW)

These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn’t in it.

They act like they’re worshiping me,
but they don’t mean it.

They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy.”
Matthew 15:8,9 (MSG)

a big show,
saying the right thing
appears correct, genuine, 

act like
they’re worshiping me
not sincere, .. not from the heart

a cover to establish their own teachings, commands,  religious practices, rituals,

teaching whatever suits their fancy
teaching as doctrines the commands of men
… rather than teaching truth in the Word of God

Hypocrite in the original Greek is  ὑποκριτής hypokritḗs,
—  an actor under an assumed character (stage-player) [Strong]

Thus, the Lord asks,
… was it actually for Me that you fasted?
… did you really do it for me?

Zech 7:5 (NASB, CEV)

our Father is pleased whenever we

give to the poor, … your giving may be in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret
will reward you.

pray to your Father who is in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret
will reward you.

fasting ..  to your Father who is in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret
will reward you.

Worship (giving, prayer, fast) in humble submission to the Lord,
pleases the Lord,
your Father who sees in secret will reward you
our heavenly Father responds to such prayers and fasts,

your Father — interestingly, Jesus uses the endearing name of God, Father

some examples in the Gospels:

“But the corrupt tax collector stood at a distance
and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed,
but beat upon his chest in sorrow, exclaiming,
‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’

14 I tell you, this sinner,
not the Pharisee, returned home forgiven!
For the proud shall be humbled,
but the humble shall be honored.”

Luke 18:13 (TLB)

He ( Jesus) looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury.
He also saw
a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins.

“I tell you the truth,” He said.
“This poor widow has put in more than all of them.
For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus,
but she out of her poverty
has put in all she had to live on.”
Luke 21:1-4, (HCSB)

Human rewards, honor and applause from others in public,
or honor from God in secret ?

 the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)

our heart, … that’s  what our Father sees
in secret

This difference is succinctly summarised by Jesus:

For they loved praise from men more than
praise from God.

They loved human approval rather than
the approval of God

They were more concerned about what people thought of them
than about what God thought of them.
John 12:43  (HCSB, GNT,  NOG)

The poor widow’s two tiny coins offering
received praise from Jesus.

The contrite tax collector’s simple, heartfelt prayer of just 7 words,
calling upon God’s mercy and grace,
touched the heart of God.

Thus, a sincere, humble heart of worship, following God’s Word;
… sincere, genuine, honest, wholehearted, heartfelt …

The amount, or quantity
isn’t the focus,
the artistry, the exuberance, or eloquence, or excellence,
isn’t the focus.

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth
that He may strongly support those
whose heart is completely His.
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NASB)

encourage those who are devoted to him wholeheartedly (NABRE)
he gives strength to those who faithfully obey him (CEV)

God is actively seeking for people with such hearts towards Him,
and He desires to strongly support, encourage, give strength to them.

Therefore, Jesus opening statement in this section of the sermon on the Mount was:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness
in front of people,
to be seen by them.
Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Matthew 6:1 (HCSB)

Other translations:
Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others (NLT)
don’t try to show off (CEV)
Be careful not to do/parade your righteous deeds in front of people to be ·seen [noticed] by them (EXB)
Be careful not to do your good works in public in order to attract attention (GW)

bringing attention, focus on oneself,
focus on God

In testimonies, sharing, worship, prayer, ministry etc,
are we drawing attention to   ourselves,
.. our devoutness, our spirituality, our prayers/fasts, our sacrifices, our recipe/formula, etc,
our fans, likes, etc ?

leading others to focus on our Father?
His power, His provision, His grace, His mercy, His love, His greatness, etc ….

And,   in so doing,
others also join in
to praise, applaud, and thank the Lord.

27 John responded,    (John the baptist)
“No one can receive a single thing unless
it’s given to him from heaven.

 30 He (Jesus) must increase,
but I must decrease.”
John 3:27, 30 (HCSB)

The Message (MSG) translation of Matthew 6:1:
“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that
you don’t make a performance out of it.

It might be good theater,
but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

a performance?
an actor under an assumed character?

God is not looking for more stars;
He’s looking for more servants.”
– Howard G. Hendricks

Thus, Jesus zeros in on our motivation for our acts of devotion,
our sincerity, … our honesty, … our authenticity.

… what do we really treasure and love,

the thoughts and intentions of our heart    (Hebrews 4:12)
the ‘why?’ and ‘to who?’

than the ‘what? and ‘how to?’   of worship – giving, praying, fasting

Performance, theatre for others,
… to be admired, .. to attract attention to oneself,
for others to see ?

Or, truly
in devotion, love to our Father who loves us?

an audience of many, many,
an audience of just One,
our Father, … in secret?

impressing others,
… or impressing our Father?

If our heart is not in the right place,
… whatever else that follows is simply not worth the effort.

Thus, its a question of our own heart, … our priorities,

Matthew 6:20 treasures on earth? …. temporal
treasures in heaven?
…. eternal

6:21For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
— Eleanor Hull

In situations where there’s persecution of believers,
or there’s a real cost to honor God & His ways,
… when worshiping the Lord is costly, … will we faithfully follow the examples of Daniel and Moses?

Daniel 6:8-10 (NASB)
The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Hebrews 11:24-27 (NIV)
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

For where our treasure is,
there our heart will be also  Matthew 6:21.

Moses & Daniel persevered because they saw him who is invisible,
who sees all, who support, encourage and strengthen us all,

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth
that He may strongly support those
whose heart is completely His.
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NASB)

The Lord is in the midst of such challenges.

Also, … in the sermon of the mount,
Jesus highlights one important step,
before offering our worship,

23 So if you are offering your gift on the altar,
and there you remember that
your brother has something against you,

24 leave your gift there in front of the altar.

First go and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5:23,24 (HCSB)

forgive others in the Father’s love,
.. before giving to the Lord

We love each other
because he loved us first.

1 John 4:19 (NLT)

Forgiving others, loving others,
is also part of prayer and worship.

12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing,
your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.

Matthew 6:14 (HCSB)

if we don’t love people
we can see,
how can we love God,
whom we cannot see?
1 John 4:20 (NLT)

Also, … in Jesus sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7),
there is one expression of worship
which Jesus encourages us to publicly do, for others to see,

In the same way,
let your light shine before others,

that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your Father in heaven.

 so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Matthew 5:17 (NIV, NLT)

What does Jesus mean good deeds?

Matthew 5:39-42, 44-46 (NASB)
39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 

42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?

In the section Matthew 5:38-48, of the sermon on the mount ,
Jesus stretches our faith in doing good —
to include  going the extra mile, turning the other cheek,
… blessing both the deserving, and the undeserving,
blessing those similar to us, and others different from us … even our enemies,
… forgiving and giving to others.

In the parable of the sheep & goats,
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him,
‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 
38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’

40 “And the King will answer them,
‘I assure you:
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine,
you did for Me.’

Mattew 25:44, 45 (NASB)

Similarly, the good Samaritan who compassionately ministered to the injured man on the road,
while the 2 religious leaders walked on,

you did for Me …. worship from the heart

Through blessing, helping others in a practical way as unto Jesus,
even to the very least,
the truth of God’s light is shone,
and others see God’s light visibly,
and  they’ll glorify and praise our heavenly Father.

(rather than going to us).

Not to us, O Lord,
not to us,
to your name
goes all the glory

for your unfailing love and faithfulness.
Psalm 115:1 (NLT)

God seeks true worshipers, devoted to him wholeheartedly 
who give, pray, fast
in Spirit and in truth
unto Him.

23 … the true worshipers
will worship the Father
in the Spirit and in truth,
for they are the kind of worshipers
the Father seeks.

24 God is spirit,
and his worshipers must worship
in the Spirit and in truth.”

John 4:23, 24 (NASB)

Paul summarises the essential:

Now the goal of our instruction is

that comes from a pure heart,
a good conscience,

and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:5 (HCSB)

And I cry holy, holy, holy God …
And I am changed in the presence of a holy God
— Mark Altrogge

And rising very early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
Jesus departed
and went out
to a desolate place,

and there he prayed.
Mark 1:35 (ESV)

(moving, .. cinematic)

Following in the footsteps of Jesus,
Matthew 6:6 when you pray,
go into your private room,
shut your door,
and pray to your Father who is in secret.

God invites us to meet Him in His secret place, our hiding place,

He who dwells in the secret (סֵתֶר çêther) place
of the Most High

Shall abide under the shadow
of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1 (NKJV)

You are my hiding place (סֵתֶר çêther) ;
You preserve me from trouble;

You surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7 (NKJV)

pray to your Father who is in secret (κρυπτός kryptós).
And your Father who sees in secret
will reward you.

And in our secret place with the Lord,
He works upon the secrets our hearts,
transforming us from the inside out;

so that we are prepared,
on the day when, according to my gospel,
God will judge the secrets
(κρυπτός kryptós) of men
through Christ Jesus.

Romans 2:18 (NASB)

Secret — the Greek word, κρυπτός kryptós,  appears 19 times in 16 verses in the New Testament, there’s one interesting passage where it is used,

But he is a Jew who is one
inwardly (κρυπτός kryptós);
circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit,
not by the letter;

his praise is not from men,
but from God.
Romans 2:29 (NASB)

inwardly (κρυπτός kryptós) —  on the inside—in secret places no one but God can see
(from the Voice translation of Romans 2:29)

heart surgery,
circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit
— on the inside,
in secret places no one but .. God can see
that results in
praise from God,
not man

And your Father who sees in secret
will reward you.     

Deuteronomy 30:6 (NIV)
The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts
and the hearts of your descendants,

so that
you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

Change of heart by the Holy Spirit,   through loving Jesus,
and yielding and obeying God’s Word,

Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword,

and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit,
of both joints and marrow,
and able to judge the thoughts and intentions
of the heart

However, if we reject God’s wisdom, God’s Word,

28 Then they will call me,
but I won’t answer;

they will search for me,
but won’t find me.

29 Because
they hated knowledge,

didn’t choose to fear the Lord,
30 were not interested in my counsel,
and rejected all my correction,

31 they will eat the fruit of their way
and be glutted with their own schemes. 
Proverbs 1:28-31 (HCSB)

Back to  Romans 2:29, what are some examples of the letter of the law that the religious leaders practised during Jesus time?

But some of the Pharisees said,
“Why are you doing what is not lawful
on the Sabbath?”

Then Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem to Jesus and asked,
“Why do Your disciples break
the tradition of the elders?
For they don’t wash their hands when they eat!”

Luke 6:2,  Matthew 15:1,2  (HCSB)

Instead, God looks beyond the externals,
God looks at our heart, … what’s in our heart,

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height,
for I have rejected him.

The Lord doesn’t see things
the way you see them.

People judge by outward appearance,
the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)

Following Jesus is a change of heart,
circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit
from the inside out.

Change begins, … when we begin to yield our heart to our Father.

O my son,
give me your heart.

May your eyes
take delight in following my ways.

Proverbs 23:26 (NLT)

what one treasures, … becomes one’s treasure,
from the inside out, … comes forth, the good fruit

The good person
out of the good treasure of his heart

produces good,

the evil person
out of his evil treasure

produces evil,

for out of the abundance of the heart
his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45 (ESV)

and this good treasure stored in one’s heart
ministers to others by the Holy Spirit,
& produces tangible lasting fruit in the lives of others.

As Paul shares about the result of their ministry:

Clearly, you are a letter from Christ
showing the result of our ministry among you.

This “letter” is written not with pen and ink,
with the Spirit of the living God.

It is carved not on tablets of stone,
but on human hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:3 (NLT)

We now have this light shining in our hearts,
but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars
containing this great treasure.

This makes it clear that our great power is from God,
not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

A.W. Tozer:

To begin on the outside
and then work into the center
is unknown to the New Testament.

This was the difference between Lord Jesus Christ and the Pharisees.
The Pharisees were concerned about the exterior,
while Jesus majored on the internal.
The Pharisees thought that by practicing external things they could change their internal.
Jesus knew better and challenged this position throughout His ministry.
He taught that it was the heart that mattered.

The internal matters,
and when the internal is right,
the outside will fall into line perfectly.

... I conclude from my study of the Bible that the faith of Christ begins in the center,
the heart and mind,
and works out to the external conduct.

I am safe in concluding that if the heart has not been reached,
all religious profession is completely in vain.

If the heart has been reached,
religious profession then takes on meaning.

.. you can join all the churches in the city and be baptized by every mode known
and celebrate every holy day in the Christian calendar
and still be lost
if you are not changed on the inside.”

— A W Tozer, Living as a Christian, Teachings from First Peter, Regal, 2009, pg 60,61

Thus, beyond giving, praying and fasting,
worship begins with:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God,
to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God,
which is your spiritual service of worship.

And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may prove what the will of God is,
that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1,2 (NASB)

and results in a transformation, .. a change,
walking in the purposes of God.

It begins with God’s Word working in our hearts,
bearing fruit in our lives from the inside out,
shining the truth of His light through our daily lives.

Interestingly, the word ‘repent‘ in the original Greek is  μετανοέω, metanoeō,   which means:
to change one’s mind    of (on account of) something,   
to change one’s mind    for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins  (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
… in agreement with Romans 12:2, transformed by the renewing of your mind

The goal is not to make you a smarter sinner 
but to make you like the Savior.”
— Howard Hendricks

In conclusion, what Jesus said about fasting, praying giving and good deeds in the sermon on the mount, is echoed by the prophets Amos & Micah in the Old Testament,
where they highlight the difference between being religious,
from following the Lord in truth,
… as the Lord reminds us of His priorities for all generations

For the Lord says to the house of Israel:
Seek Me and live!

14 Seek good and not evil
so that you may live,

and the Lord, the God of Hosts,
will be with you,
as you have claimed.

15 Hate evil and love good;
establish justice in the gate….

21 I hate, I despise your feasts!
I can’t stand the stench
of your solemn assemblies.
22 Even if you offer Me
your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
I will have no regard
for your fellowship offerings of fattened cattle.

23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.

24 But let justice
flow like water,

like an unfailing stream.
Amos 5: 4, 14, 15, 21-24 (HCSB)

The Lord has told you, human,
what is good;

he has told you
what he wants from you:

to do what is right to other people,
love being kind to others,
and live humbly, obeying your God.
Micah 6:8 (NCV)

Francis Chan:
I remember, years ago, sitting at a conference and being amazed and a bit jealous as speakers impressed me with their knowledge and charisma.  Then Pastor Cymbala stepped on stage.
He was every bit as captivating as the others,
but he spoke in such a way that I forgot 
all about him.
He made me focus on Jesus. 
At the end of the sermon, I was in awe of God.
I was focused on His word, not his.

Ministry Worship/Praise

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
January 30, 2017

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2017 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License



This entry was posted on January 30, 2017 by in Daily Rice, Ministering Spirit & Truth, Ministry, Serving Quietly, Stepping Stones, Worship/Praise and tagged , .

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