"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Sunday, December 28, 2014


~ by James Fire

Note: This teaching at The HOUSE of TRUTH fellowship is now posted on youtube.com (1/5/15) and may be viewed on video here.

This teaching was more recently presented at ETERNAL LIVING WORD church - West Side (8/11/19), and it may be viewed on video here.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

The awesome power of creation, solely the purview of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is something we can witness, at least in part, on our planet, our solar system, and from images taken by far-reaching satellites and radio telescopes sights and macro-cosmic wonders of galaxies beyond our imagining. We also observe the creation of God with microscopes, electron microscopes and other instrumentation whereby we can perceive the microcosmic universe. Whether in the vastness of the heavens, or the intricacies of the infinitesimal, God's handiwork is an incredible work to behold! 
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Monday, December 1, 2014




Theme: The Day of the LORD (This phrase is also seen in JOEL 1:15; 2 PET 3:10 and REV 19:19 and elsewhere). This phrase refers to that period of time when God actively and openly begins to deal with the people of the Earth in judgment, beginning with the Jew and then the Gentile as portrayed in REVELATION 6–19.

It begins with (1) the translation of the church or rapture (“bride of Christ”) from Earth to Heaven and culminates at (2) the Great White Throne Judgment with the 70th week of Daniel (“time of Jacob's trouble” JER 30:7) in which the world will see the 7 year reign of anti-Christ or “the man of sin” (2 THESS 2:3) occurring between those two points.

The saints at Thessalonica were anxious because they thought that the Day of the LORD was upon them, but Paul corrects this misunderstanding in explaining that two crucial events must first happen before this occurs; we will see what those things are in 2 THESSALONIANS 2.

Outline: Intro: 1:1-4;

SECTION I – Comfort in persecution: 1:5-12
SECTION II – The Day of the LORD vs. the man of sin: 2:1-12
SECTION III – Exhortations and instructions: 2:13-3:15; Conclusion: 3:16-18.


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Thursday, November 13, 2014


 By James Fire

Note to TTUF readers: The conclusion of this chapter is rather brief, but I didn't want to include the content of this latter half with the former as that would have made the length of the overall teaching rather formidable. 

MATTHEW 10:24-31
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

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Friday, November 7, 2014


By James Fire

Previously in our study of Matthew, in Chapter 9 we saw how the LORD Jesus Christ was busy about His Father's business, bringing healing and wholeness to so very many hurting and wounded souls. Yet He did far more than merely this, though His miracles were indeed astounding and signs that authenticated His office as the Messiah of Israel; He brought the everlasting Gospel to the people of Israel, that which extends far beyond the healing of the body, but brings eternal life and the washing away of sins to immortal souls who will express faith in Jesus Christ and His work at the Cross of Calvary:

MATTHEW 9:35-38
35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 
38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

This very same compassion as expressed by the Christ is further demonstrated by His admonition to His disciples: to pray that the LORD of the harvest would send forth laborers (and proclaim the Gospel which is able to save the souls of the lost). Note that He calls Him “the LORD of the harvest” and that the directive to pray to Him, that He would send laborers into HIS harvest. 
The LORD Jesus is emphasizing that this is HIS harvest and HIS ministry that we simply enter into by our labors. At no such time should we ever consider the preaching of the Gospel or the teaching of the Word as 'my ministry' because in actuality, if we can rightfully claim any ministry as our own, it will be fruitless; or worse – it will bear bad fruit!
No, we saints are empowered by the grace of God to do the work of God and enter into His ministry, being effective only as the Spirit of God is yielded to by such as we: empty and clean vessels, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb and ready for the Master's use (2 TIM 2:20-22). So let us continue on into Chapter 10 then!
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Friday, October 31, 2014


By James Fire

Death: it is the thing that we mortals seem to fear the most; Hamlet pondered it, and thought about whether “to be or not to be, that is the question” - a Shakespearean query about suicide, yet was also apprehensive of what he would find in that “undiscovered country”.
We grieve and rage against the pain and seemingly unfair death of our loved ones. How many of us had wished we could have had one last moment of time with them to say goodbye (especially if our last words with them were less than kind!).

This film plays on the angst and sorrowful frustration of these teenagers who were stunned and mystified by the apparent suicide of their dear friend, Debbie; particularly her best friend, Laine who desired just such an encounter with their dearly departed.
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Saturday, August 16, 2014


STUDY #1 –


INTRODUCTION: This epistle might be referred to as 3rd Thessalonians, but not really. There may have been a forgery supposedly from Paul but actually from an imposter, and that might have been why the Thessalonian church was confused on certain matters. This was alluded to in 2 THESSALONIANS 2:2 (“not by letter as by us”).

This letter was written by Paul shortly after the first letter to the Thessalonian saints; both around A.D. 51.
Theme: The Day of the LORD (This phrase is also seen in JOEL 1:15; 2 PETER 3:10 and REV 19:19 and elsewhere). This phrase refers to that period of time when God actively and openly begins to deal with the people of the Earth in judgment, beginning with the Jew and then the Gentile as portrayed in REVELATION Chapters 6–19.

It begins with (1) the translation of the church or rapture (“bride of Christ”) from Earth to Heaven and culminates at (2) the Great White Throne Judgment with the 70th week of Daniel (“time of Jacob's trouble” JER 30:7) in which the world will see the 7 year reign of anti-Christ or “the man of sin” (2 THESS 2:3) occurring between those two points.
The saints at Thessalonica were anxious because they thought that the Day of the LORD was upon them, but Paul corrects this misunderstanding in explaining that two crucial events must first happen before this occurs; we will see what those things are in 2 THESSALONIANS 2.

Introduction: 1:1-4
SECTION I – Comfort in persecution: 1:5-12
SECTION II – The Day of the LORD vs. the man of sin: 2:1-12
SECTION III – Exhortations and instructions: 2:13-3:15

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Evangelical Divide

by Anne Kisly

Rick Warren is the founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, an evangelical megachurch located in Lake Forest, California, currently the eighth-largest church in the United States. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, spawned a series of conferences on Christian ministry and evangelism. He is perhaps best known for the subsequent devotional, The Purpose Driven Life, which has sold over 30 million copies.

The following article is from late 2010, but is still a good resource for Christians who want the landscape of the Evangelical Divide happening in our churches. There are also some great links you can follow for background. (via Milwaukee evangelical | Examiner.com:)
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Saturday, August 9, 2014

PART 2 - A Review of Understanding Christian Zionism – Israel's Place in the Purposes of God

Written by Paul R. Wilkerson

Commentary provided by James Fire

We now will continue in our review of UNDERSTANDING CHRISTIAN ZIONISM!
Something that must be understood is that Christian Zionism does not stand upon the sentiment and affinities of Christians towards the Jewish people and the land of Israel; rather it stands upon the extraordinarily clear teaching and prophecies of Scripture (and Scripture alone!).
There are many that accuse 'Christian Zionists' – I prefer the term 'Bible-believing Christians' myself – of endorsing and promoting war (against Muslims, etc.) by Israel and a hatred towards those who hate Israel. Speaking for myself, and those that share my views, we hate no one (with the exception of Satan and his kingdom of darkness), but we do hate the deeds, practices and religion of Muslim people insomuch as these are the means by which an unjustified hatred and persecution of Israel persists.

I have never once observed Israel's actions to “drive the Muslims into the sea” or declare: “No negotiations with Muslims, no peace with Muslims, no Muslims!” whereas I have seen both of these things being repeatedly and feverishly declared without apology by Muslims who feign some misbegotten 'right' to the land that had always belonged to Israel since long before the time of the Anitquities.

I think its rather obvious to any one who thinks this through, that its most difficult for one to establish peace with any people who have sworn the annihilation of that one, regardless of any well intentioned overtures and extensions of harmonious peace. We who understand God's Word and plan for Israel, stand with the Jewish nation because of God's love for them, His faithful promises made to them, and His valiant protection and blessing upon them.

And so, without further ado, let us continue . . .
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Sunday, July 20, 2014


We will now conclude Ch. 9 of this study, picking up in vs. 18; the Messiah is continuing in His ministry of healing when He comes across yet another person in need. This time it turns out to be one of the religious authorities, the ones that opposed Him nearly at every turn. Yet, our LORD, humble and meek will go and serve this man's dire need, and heal his daughter of the illness that threatens her life...
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Sunday, July 6, 2014


By James Fire

Scripture speaks abundantly of the Divinely empowered healing abilities of the Messiah of Israel. Such passages from Isaiah and elsewhere (as we have seen in Ch. 8 in our study) reveal that the Messiah would make the lame man leap for joy, the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak (ISAIAH 35:5-6). These miraculous signs would be evidence to prove who the Messiah-King would be. As mentioned before, it's very much like the story of The LORD of the RINGS where Aragorn the lowly Ranger from the North was identified as the King of Gondor because he was able to heal, which would be an attribute of a true King of that realm: 

Aragorn's humility and self-sacrifice gained him the hearts of the inhabitants of Gondor's capital city. His healing abilities were noted also by the people of Gondor; as Ioreth said, 'The hands of the King are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful king be known'. The people hailed Aragorn as King that same evening.” (Taken from wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aragorn).  
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

PART 1 - A Review of Understanding Christian Zionism – Israel's Place in the Purposes of God

This series is based on the book written by Paul R. Wilkerson UNDERSTANDING CHRISTIAN ZIONISM

Commentary provided by James Fire

What is Zionism? It is a term that is often used disparagingly by some who think either that the people in that land have no rights or claim to it, that they are not 'real Jews' or that the Zionist agenda is at best a work of the flesh or at worst satanic and not at all of God.

Others who adhere to amillennial eschatology or its subsequent variations believe that the church is 'the new Israel' since the nation of the Jews have rejected their Messiah.

TTUF adheres to a pre-millennial eschatology, fully recognizes Israel, not necessarily for her own claims, but because of the promises of God which He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the twelve tribes of Israel as recorded in sacred Scripture.
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Update: Rick Warren's Purpose Driven False Gospel
by Anne Kisly

This morning I read Roger Oakland's latest commentary titled, Rick Warren and the Chaplet of Divine MercyThe article discuss Warren's recent interview on the Roman Catholic channel, EWTN and the controversial statements made by a this very popular modern day preacher, a.k.a, "America's Pastor."  For me, that title alone should be cause for concern.  Though claiming not to compromise biblical truth, Warren's own words condemns him of deception.  

In a recent interview, Saddleback’s Rick Warren went on the Catholic Wordlwide EWTN channelA.  This interview is a clear picture that Warren preaches his Purpose Driven ideology, and not the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Vatican recently sent a delegation, about 30 bishops, from Rome to Saddleback, to talk about the "new evangelization", which Rick Warren claims he fully supports. 

Warren’s pastor-training programs welcome Catholics in a USA article posted on Warrens website:

“…Warren's pastor-training programs welcome Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jews and ordained women. “we have Catholic ‘purpose-driven’ churches … “I'm not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials. I won't try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?” (This evangelist has a ‘Purpose’” by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY, July 21, 2003)

In 2005, Warren’s Southeast Asia Purpose Driven node reported on the roll out of PD to Roman Catholic churches in the Philippines… Also in 2005, Catholic Online.com featured this press release:
 Purpose Driven Church “Goes Catholic”

The Purpose Driven Church will—for the first time ever—be bringing their evangelical message of living out God’s five purposes to a Catholic Church: Holy Family Parish in Inverness, Illinois. …Each day’s session begins at 9 a.m., and will be delivered by Pastor Bret Schrock of the Purpose Driven Ministries. http://www.catholic.org/prwire/headline.php?ID=1306

"There are Purpose Driven congregations in more than 200 different denominations and associations. Our desire is to work with denominations to strengthen their churches. Each church can maintain its own heritage and doctrinal convictions while cooperating with others on accomplishing the five purposes" (http://rickwarren.typepad.com/rick_warren/2007/05/seven_myths_abo.html )

“And, you know, growing up as a Protestant boy, I knew nothing about Catholics, but I started watching ETWN, the Catholic channel, and I said, ‘Well, I’m not as far apart from these guys as I thought I was, you know?” (Rick Warren, May 23, 2005, the Pew Forum’s biannual Faith Angle conference on religion, politics and public life, Event Transcript) (Emphasis added)

By the way, Rick Warren does not look at Roman Catholicism as a false religion, but a true religion. Then again, Warren believes that there is truth in all religions.

I should probably state that I am not against catholic people who sincerely believe that Roman Catholicism is the one true faith. I don't hate Catholics. I desire that they come to BIBLICAL SALVATION and the TRUE CHRIST of the Bible.

What is the "New Evangelization" by the Catholic Church?  The New Evangelization targets Christians, to "come home" to the "true" church.
It is a program designed to win the world to the Eucharistic Christ. 

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Thursday, May 22, 2014


by A.M. Kisly
Are you feeling battle weary? I have been. Have you ever experienced times in your life when there seems to be a battle on every side?   We sometimes experience great conflict in our lives.    Those conflicts can come from anywhere; in the home, in the workplace, with friends and neighbors…even within the body of Christ. 

As believers, the most difficult battles we face are spiritual. The Bible teaches there is a conflict between God and Satan for the souls of men and believers are in the middle of that conflict.

Spiritual strength and courage are needed for our spiritual warfare and suffering. We are to be strong "in the Lord and in the power of His might."  We are to, “Put on the whole armour of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”  Ephesians 6:11

Looking back on history we know that as Hitler’s appetite for power and territory grew, his army began to march across Europe. In some cases, the fight could hardly be called a battle. The German army advanced, with its tanks and with technologically advanced weapons. In some of the underdeveloped nations, their armies made a futile effort to resist Hitler’s aggression, fighting back with spears and even rocks. It was no contest at all, because these nations were not equipped for the battle.

The same could be said of Satan, and those whom he opposes. Many of his victims do not even know there is a war going on. They make easy prey. Christians should know that we are in the midst of a great spiritual struggle, although many seem not to believe it. And even more distressing is the fact that many who consider themselves “in the war” do not understand the nature of Satan’s schemes, of the weapons which he employs, or of the weapons which God has provided for our defense.

Ephesians 6:10-20 is perhaps the clearest definition of the spiritual war which we find from the pen of the Apostle Paul. It not only assures us that there is a spiritual war, but it warns us that apart from utilizing the weapons which God has provided for us, we are hopelessly underpowered. This passage informs us as to what our divinely weapons are. Beyond this, these weapons imply the nature of the struggle which we are in. The weapons which God has provided for us are those weapons which best repel the attacks of Satan, and thus we can learn a great deal about the nature of Satan’s opposition from simply considering each of the weapons at our disposal.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014


By James Fire

The LORD Jesus Christ began His teaching ministry in the Gospel of Matthew in Chapter Five by going up into a mountain (MATT. 5:1) and sitting down; His disciples all gathered around to listen, as did the people who were hungry for a word from the LORD. Up until the time of John the Baptist and the LORD Jesus, there had not been a prophet in Israel for about four hundred years!

I find it interesting that the Holy Spirit found it necessary for Matthew to make note of this, that He went up into a mountain; one might wonder, 'Why was it important for us to know that Jesus went up to a mountain to preach? Why is it significant that He did this as opposed to going to a hill or a river or a lake?'

In Scripture, mountains are sometimes symbolic of kingdoms as we see here in the book of Daniel:

Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014


By James Fire

We have been taught that when examining Scripture, in order to seek out its truth and correct interpretation, we must always look at any given verse in the context of the passage. Sometime later we learned that not only is the context of the passage important, but the entire chapter, and not just the chapter, but the book. And of course, we must interpret any verse not merely in the context of the book in which it appears, but in the entirety of God’s counsel as recorded for us in the Holy Bible.

In other words, a balanced and proper view of any verse of Scripture is ultimately provided when one examines it in the light of all the other Scriptures. When we do this, apparent contradictions disappear; verses that we thought were contrary suddenly align themselves in harmony; Scripture that would have baffled us, informs us instead when we heed the entirety of God’s Word. It should be noted that wrong interpretations, false teachings, heresies and cults are established when there is overemphasis on certain verses, to the exclusion of others.

This is why as Disciples of Christ, our reading of Scripture should never be sporadic, but systematic; that is, reading through the Word, from Genesis to Revelation, and once done, start over. This same practice is recommended for the study of Scripture; one of the important hallmarks of a healthy church fellowship is one that is committed to expositional studies.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014


By James Fire

We now conclude chapter 6 of the Gospel of Matthew, picking up where we left off previously in vs. 13. The LORD Jesus just finished laying out the model prayer for the disciples to pattern their own personal prayer after, incorporating worship of the Father, petitioning for His kingdom’s arrival, for our personal needs, forgiveness of sins, protection from evil, and a worshipful declaration of the glory of God as elements of prayer.

Once He finishes this lay out, He returns to a crucial point about forgiveness:

MATTHEW 6:14-15
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Why would the LORD reiterate this point? Perhaps because He knew that we would have difficulties in forgiving each other?
To forgive in this context is to allow dismissal, to forego any offense afflicted; when one wrongs another, they are indebted to them for the wrong-doing, and the offended party holds them until rectification is accomplished, but there are times when no apology is forthcoming and so rather than ‘holding a grudge’, we release them for their wrong against us personally.
What is significant is that when we harbor unforgiveness, it is we ourselves that are bound up by it, and not the one who committed the offense. This is spiritually dangerous for many reasons – for one, such unforgiveness can deepen into bitterness (Heb. 12:14-15), resentment and cynicism in general. Another even greater reason is explained in our text above: “…neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Does this mean that if we don’t forgive others, we lose our salvation? That isn’t what the text indicates, because while the trespasses of one who harbors unforgiveness is themselves not forgiven, the LORD states that God is still their Father. Obviously we don’t maintain fellowship with one that we hold unforgiveness towards, and the Father responds in kind. As long as we have unforgiveness towards others, our Father distances Himself from us in fellowship.

We experience fellowship with our Father in worship, and previously the LORD gave us instruction in regards to unforgiveness:

MATTHEW 5:23-24
23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift

Certainly this places the responsibility on the one who caused the offense, but the principle applies both ways – we cannot expect to worship the LORD and carry on in fellowship if there is unforgiveness or ill will among the brethren. There is specific instruction for church government regarding the continued unrepentant attitude for trespasses committed against another saint (Matt. 18:15-20).

In the next passage in Matthew 18 Peter asks the LORD how often he should forgive others (The religious leadership determined through Talmudic exposition that three times is sufficient); he offered seven times as a number (more than twice the estimation by the establishment), but the LORD went far above and beyond:

MATTHEW 18:20-21
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven

An interesting number, seventy times seven, which of course is 490 times; we know this specific number in a different context, that is the 70 weeks of Daniel which translates to 490 years, at the conclusion of which, our LORD Jesus Christ shall arrive on planet Earth during His Second Advent. What I derive from the LORD’s admonition to Peter is that we keep forgiving others until the Judge of the whole Earth arrives and let Him officiate over any and all offenses committed against us, His saints. He then illustrates the vital importance of forgiveness we must exercise towards one another as forgiven sinners, now saints in the last passage of Matthew 18:23-35 in the parable of the King and his servant who owed him a debt beyond what he could pay back.

A pastor I knew was fond of saying that he lived his life in a state of ‘forgive-readiness’, that is, before any offense occurs from anyone, he arose in the morning prepared – for the sake of Christ Who has forgiven him all his trespasses – to forgive others as he himself has been forgiven; very wise words to live by!

Our Father has forgiven us all trespasses and sins through the LORD Jesus Christ; how then can we withhold forgiveness from others when we ourselves are forgiven so VERY MUCH?

See Mark 11:25; Luke 17:4; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13; also 2 Sam. 12:13; Psalm 78:38; 85:2; Mark 2:5; and Col. 2:13.

MATTHEW 6:16-18

16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly

The same conduct is to be employed as we serve the LORD in fasting as with alms (Matt. 6:1-4) and in our prayers (Matt. 6:5-6). We are not to allow our service to the LORD to be seen in such a way as to draw attention to ourselves or with improper motivation (to receive praise from others, to be esteemed more highly than we ought to be).
Its by keeping such alms, prayers, and fasting intimate and concealed from eyes that would render us praise rather than our Father, we are promised to be openly rewarded by Him, rather than mere human beings – vastly greater rewards and weightier and blessed!

Fasting is often coupled together with prayer and is readily demonstrated in the New Testament. This should silence those who would protest such exercise, assuming that such things were Old Testament, and no longer practiced (Acts 13:2-3; 14:23; 1 Cor. 7:5; 2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27).

PSALM 35:13-14

13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother

PSALM 69:10-11

10 When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.
11 I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them

ISAIAH 58:6-7

6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

(Also 2 Chron. 20:3; Ezra 8:21; Jonah 3:5)
Fasting is a service towards God, coupled with prayer (Lk. 2:35-36).

Utilized in the performance of exorcisms (Mt. 17:16-21).

Conducted with sober-mindedness when seeking God’s will (Acts 13:2-3).

Also used as a means to mortify the flesh and bring it under subjection (self control; 1 Cor. 7:5).

When one foregoes meals, what with the time commitments to buying, preparing, cooking, eating and cleaning up afterwards, that time may be employed in seeking God and in a very real sense, is “seek[ing] first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (with the blessed promise that all the things that we have need of, including food and clothing (1 Tim. 6:8) will be added to us!).

ONE WORD OF CAUTION IS ADVISED: If one proposes to go on an extended fast, there are certain precautions you must take:

First of all before you begin a fast, it is advisable to consult your primary caregiver; then you must prayerfully determine what sort of fast to take: there are essentially two kinds:

~ An Absolute fast which means no food or liquids (other than water to remain hydrated; the body cannot survive lack of water much longer than three days without suffering damage, sometimes permanently).

~ A Simple foods fast: typically the bread and water type of fast; this requires minimum preparation and consumption time, so that one is not distracted by more delectable foods (which requires more time in preparing, cooking and eating).

~ Either of these can be a fast to exclude food consumption for a single meal, a single day, or a typical three day fast or even the long term 40 day fast.

For a three day or 40 day Absolute fast it’s best to reduce food intake by eating smaller meals for about a week prior. This will give your body time to condition itself to the fast once begun.

Once the Absolute fast has started, avoid excessive physical exertion, extended times in sunlight when the temperatures are warm enough that you perspire, do not consume beverages like coffee or other caffeinated drinks, energy drinks, or beverages containing greater quantities of sugar, including fruit juices. Unsweetened fruit juices and water (mixed with Powerade or Gatorade but at a 80% dilution rate than what’s called for in the directions; better yet, purchase some concentrated Aloe Vera juice and mix this in with chilled water) are best.
Do NOT take vitamins for any fast lasting 3 to 40 days because your system has shut down and will not be able to process any such supplements.

Once the Absolute fast is completed, especially for extended fasts lasting from a few days to 40, DO NOT go back to your regular diet because your system has shut down and cannot process the digestion of food. Eating solid foods after an extended fast could actually kill you, and so you must start out with some broth for the first day, and afterwards add some crackers and other easily digested carbohydrates. By day three you should be able to consume vegetables and fruits, and within another day or two a normal diet, albeit with much smaller portions can be consumed. By the end of a week, you should be able to proceed with your regular diet and normal portions.

As with any kind of fasting it’s essential to consult your Medical Health Practitioner for advice and supervision, especially if it’s your first fast. You do not want to go on a fast if you have a medical condition or health issues, serious or superficial.

For more on fasting see the following: What Does The Bible Say About Fasting?

Also refer to these medical precautions before engaging in a fast

MATTHEW 6:19-21
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also

The world is consumed with amassing treasures or possessions by the acquisition of wealth, if not in the pursuit to be wealthy, then at least to be very well off and enjoy perhaps an early retirement. These are the things that the Gentiles seek after, that is, the people of this world (vs. 31-32), but for the church of Jesus Christ, we are encouraged to seek after the LORD of Heaven Himself – the genuine Treasure of treasures!

Consider the parable of the rich man whose barns were full of the fruit of his labors:

LUKE 12:15-21
15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Scripture states that from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Mt. 12:34), and so if one wants to know what’s in a person’s heart, listen to what they love to talk about the most; this may be a strong indication of what motivates their life, what sort of objectives and goals they hope to obtain

Since the chiefest joy and treasure for us saints is the LORD Himself, Jesus should figure prominently in our conversation as children of God.
Then what sorts of treasures are spoken of here in this passage, which our Chief Treasure addresses?

I believe they are those works that have been ordained of the LORD which we are commissioned to fulfill in His Name, by His Spirit. Those works, if done ‘Jesus-style’ will be rewarded and those works which are done contrary to the ‘Jesus-style’ will lack any reward. And what is this ‘Jesus-style’? This is answered by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, and that is the agapeo of God Himself as the sole motivator and actuator of those works ordained by God (See Eph. 2:10; 1 Cor. 3:9-15).

Having an eternal perspective on life, knowing that our time on this Earth is so very finite and that we shall inherit the kingdom of God and worship God for all eternity, will shape our conduct and devalue the riches of this world, and keep our focus on those riches which are eternal (Lk. 16:10-12; Mt. 25:14-30) toiling joyfully for the LORD Who purchased us with His own blood!

MATTHEW 6: 22-23
22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

We are aware of this physical world with our physical senses; the one sense that we seem to acquire most of our information with, is our eye sight (secondly would be our hearing). Our brain analyzes all of our sensory input and interprets it into intelligible information that we then examine with our minds (the mind itself being distinct from our brains as the former is non-corporeal while the latter is; just as a driver is the operator of a car – the former being organic and thinking, the latter functionally mechanical and non-thinking).

That which we perceive and take into our minds will affect our thinking to one degree or another. A sinful mind will be sensitive to perceive methods and means of obtaining desires that will sate their sinful nature; likewise those with a sanctified mind be sensitive to perceive methods and means of obtaining desires that will sate our godly nature.

The idea of “light” and “darkness” being far more than the amount of photonic energy that inhabits a quantifiable space, also represents the idea of that which is good and according to God’s order and its opposite: that which is evil and contrary to God’s order, that is, “unlawful” or that which is considered “iniquity” and its kindred condition of “darkness” (2 Thess. 2:3-10; Rom. 6:18-20; John 1:5; 3:19; 8:12; 12:35; Acts 26:18 and other verses).

Thus this admonition from the LORD is not only about what we look at, but what we allow into our thought life, into our minds. An article FROM the MIND of FIRE is appropriate at this juncture (as previously shared in another chapter in Matthew) is The Six Lethal Levels of Sin.

I believe it was Martin Luther who said, regarding fiery darts of temptation: “You can’t keep a bird from flying over head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” We all have those random thoughts that are inappropriate for the godly saint, but they are like birds in flight that flit in and out again. What’s dangerous is if we latch onto that thought – or that sight that we ought not to be gazing at (As did King David regarding Bathsheba).
It has also been said, “It’s not the first glance that ‘gets you’; it’s the second!”

What captures our interest and our passions indicates where our heart is at; a dog would perk his ears up if you wagged a juicy piece of red meat in front of him, but it would have no attraction at all to a cow, right?
Who we have pledged our hearts in service to will, generally, direct our interests, and drives and passions, which is why the LORD told us that we really can’t have two masters in life:

Either we will be servants of the KING of Kings, the LORD Jesus Christ, or we will be servants of ourselves, that is, servants to our sinful nature – and by proxy, servants of Satan who would counsel us “to do your own thing!” independent of the LORD’s will for our lives.

MATTHEW 6:24-25
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Obviously having food, clothing, houses, furniture, cars, etc. is not a problem for the Christian, nor is a sizeable bank account or niceties that are extraneous to our necessities. The problem is when they begin to usurp an unlawful place in our lives by demanding our servitude to them: when they begin to take a dominant place in our lives and we become consumed with using them, caring for them, bettering them, or getting other items superior to them – all to the exclusion of the LORD Himself, Who should be the Supreme object of our affection, loyalty and obedience.
This is probably why the LORD doesn’t allow me to play LOTTO! If I won, and gained all of that money in an instant, all of that buying power would likely destroy me and my relationship with the LORD.

Yet we need not be wealthy for such materialism to destroy our witness and our walk with the LORD:

1 TIM. 6:9-10
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows

Of course it’s not the money itself that is evil, but the love of money – because such a love adores possessing power. The same heart could very well be drawn into the occult, which likewise promises power for the user.
Lust for money or occult knowledge will lead to the same end result: “…many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”

Rather than such pursuits, Paul tells young Timothy what we should be content with just prior to the above passage:

1 TIM. 6:6-8
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content

Getting back to the sermon given by the LORD in Matthew’s Gospel . . .
He then goes on to illustrate how unnecessary it is for us saints to fret and worry about our sources for food and clothing (because as our LORD, He is in charge of supplying such needs).

MATTHEW 6:26-31
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

“Take thought” and “taking thought” is mentioned here; so is “take no thought” – and the idea here is to fret, worry, having anxious thoughts, troubled with cares” or even to “seeking to promote one’s interests”.

Birds are migratory (either locally or regionally) and never in any one place for long (except of course when there are young to care for), but without ‘farmland’ to grow crops or ‘livestock’ (for birds of prey) the LORD feeds them.
Lilies are among the most exquisite flowers of beauty; even our LORD, the Creator of them, told us that Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these! Without royal tailors, God Himself furnished such clothing for grass.
He then admonishes us with a question: Are you not “much better than they?” Some of the more radical environmentalists today would say, “No!” but I would rather heed the words of our heavenly Father, given to us by His Son!

The LORD stated in John Ch. 4 when He addressed the Samaritan woman:

JOHN 4:13-14
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life

And so it is with all the physical, material things of this world. They may bring satisfaction and pleasure for a while, but who ever partakes of them, whatever they may be, will thirst again. There is nothing of this world that can bring everlasting contentment and even more significantly, peace of mind and fulfillment.

Even spiritual enterprises will never satisfy; in fact, these will prove far more dangerous than many things from the material world because there are only two sources of spiritual reality: God and Satan (with no third or neutral source) and what ever is not of God spiritually speaking, is by default, of Satan.

We were created by God and for God, but since the human race fell into sin, we’ve been separated from God and so the only way we can know fulfillment is by following God’s will -

1 TIM. 2:3-5
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

Once saved, we are able to partake of communion with God, having the sin issue dealt with and no longer in rebellion against the will of God, but repentant and surrendered to the LORD Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior; that communion and its subsequent fellowship with our Creator is what He wanted in the first place in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve! This is a well of everlasting life that provides rivers of living water, well able to quench the thirsting soul in its desperate search for meaning, purpose and fulfillment in this weary world (John 4:14; 7:37-39)!

Again, FROM the MIND of FIRE, another suitable exhortation.

MATT. 6:32-34
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

Gentiles here might become a synonym for ‘secularist’ in this case, one who is a materialist, only interested in the acquisition of those things that make one’s earthly life better, or even superior to others.
Where these sorts may pursue the ‘best of everything’ we saints need to find that which is adequate to our needs, functionally efficient for the sustaining of our lives.
Whereas the Gentiles may be passionate about building their own kingdoms of affluence and prosperity, we saints are passionate about the kingdom of God, seeking its best interests – not our own – by serving the King of this domain, the LORD Jesus Christ: with our hearts, our minds, our souls and our strength, loving Him as our chiefest joy and object of adoration.

Note that the LORD doesn’t say that we shouldn’t seek those things that the Gentiles seek; only that we are to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness FIRST. Once done, in seeking for these other far less important things, they shall be added to us at the generous hand of our Abba Father, who is certainly not opposed to being generous with His children!

It is a terrible misfortune and a deplorable blight on the church that we should equate such gain and materialism with “the blessings of God” as has too many in the leadership of the Word of Faith movement who themselves declare that “gain [indeed] is godliness” and who “will be rich [monetarily]” (as quoted above in 1 Timothy).

A three part series on this aberration of Christian beliefs known as the Word of Faith Movement was written by Anne Kisly for TTUF. You can read the first part here.

LUKE 16:10-12
10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

And what are “the true riches”?

COL. 1:27
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory

HEB. 11:26
Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward

As Christ is by far the greatest treasure, incorruptible and reserved in heaven for us to enjoy and cherish for all eternity, why not indulge in His grace and Spirit now, rather than being distracted by such earthly and material blessings which at best can become a distraction or at worst, bring hurt and sorrow into our lives?

As Paul said with fervent devotion and passion:

PHIL. 3:9-11
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead

If our focus is on Christ, then whether blessing or burden, triumph or trial comes our way, we walk with the LORD daily and “take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil (trouble, trial, hardship, turmoil, etc.) thereof.” ~ Matt. 6:34

We are now finished in our examination of Ch. 6 and will embark on Ch. 7 in the next study! At the conclusion of this next chapter, there is an issue of ‘foundations’ that will be addressed. I am prayerfully considering sharing some insights on foundations from notes I took down during a personal retreat last year when I and my room mate visited Sedona, AZ in an article FROM the MIND of FIRE.

Until then, may the LORD keep us in His grace and peace – the truly blessed treasure and inheritance of the saints of God! Maranatha! Even so, Come quickly LORD Jesus!
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