Where does it come from?

Depending on who we believe is responsible for the good and perfect things around us, we will either be grateful and appreciative when good things come to us — or we will be demanding that they must come to us.

If we believe that we are the source of “good and perfect” work, we will expect and demand “good and perfect” work from others — and gratitude or appreciation might be absent or extremely infrequent.

If our praise is only ever given to ourselves in this way, and if we stroke our own ego and allow others to do the same (or even demand and expect it) — we will create (inside ourselves) a stagnant pool of dead water where nothing good can live.

If we find that with our family, friends, spouse, coworkers, vendors, customers, or with our circumstances that we are much more often demanding or grumbling rather than appreciative — we probably have an imbalance in our flow that needs correction. But just like water will eventually find its way through a mountain or man made dam that stands in its way, taking intentional steps to “Say thank you more often” or setting ourselves reminders to “be nice” isn’t changing the flow of our stream, it’s just putting things in the way that builds up pressure over time.

If we are not grateful and appreciative towards others, it usually runs in parallel that we are not truly grateful or appreciative for the gifts, talents, health, security, and blessings that we have. Me might have an expectation that we “deserve” them or that we have “earned” them. And while it is very good and healthy to work hard and provide for ourselves and our families — it is detrimental to live in an attitude of demand and expectation, instead of gratitude and appreciation.

But the only victory to be won over this disease of the heart and mind, over this “powerful demon of the spirit realm” comes through surrender. You cannot strive harder to be grateful and somehow “win for yourself” the ability to actually be grateful. Sure, you can get more consistent or frequent in your mimicry of gratitude and appreciation — but that just fosters a greater inner resentment over time towards those our mind tells us “don’t deserve the appreciation we are showing them”, not any real improvement.

Isn’t it clear that we aren’t the source of the air that entered our lungs with each breath even as we slept through the night?

Isn’t it clear that the sun rising this morning consistently to usher in another day this morning did not happen at our beckon call?

Isn’t it clear that the plants and animals that have their lives in order to nourish us today were not architected and manufactured by our own hands weaving their atoms and molecules together in patterns that bring them to life in order that they grow and that even in their deaths, they sustain our lives?

Isn’t it clear that our having traits, abilities and talents in order to provide for ourselves and our families was not something that we ourselves wrote into our own genetic code and fostered and mentored to bring us to our current state in life?

When our eyes are opened to see that there are blessings flowing to us that are not our own doing — it will either offend our ego and we will dismiss this “other source” as foolishness — or we might let it pierce through our heart of stone so that our ego is defeated and that a new wind guides the sails of our vessel.

So I’m not going to give you practical advice of go out today and act grateful and appreciative — because that law might make us even more resentful and bitter and unspecified than we were before.

No, open your eyes and see that God is merciful and that every God and perfect gift comes from Him — and let it change you from the inside out. Amen.

Thank you My Friend

This morning’s verse is:

Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.

Luke 6:28 NLT

As I read it and considered how I might share this in common (non-religious) wording, I started looking for synonyms of the words like “bless”, “curse” and “pray” since those have clearly religious connotations within normal, everyday conversation.

But it dawned on me that the best way to teach is not to just say something, but it is to demonstrate it. Just like yesterday’s verse taught us that our behavior demonstrates what we truly believe, I realized that to share today’s precept, I simply needed to demonstrate obedience myself.

Thank you to everyone who has opposed me, talked about me behind my back, made fun of me, put obstacles in my way, treated me unfairly, hurt me, or abused me in my life.
You have made me stronger. You have helped me learn and practice patience, forgiveness, kindness, gratitude, love, hope, faith and self- control.
These gifts are some of the most precious and valuable, because they fill my life with joy even when my circumstances don’t look happy.
Thank you. I hope that God blesses you and rewards you — whether you thought it was for my gain or for my loss.

Harold “Hop” Ballinger

Are we willing to obey this precept, not just in a single social media post in order to signal our virtue — but in our walk today when we encounter opposition?

Lord, open our eyes to see how your victory is revealed. Help us to usher your Kingdom into the world one surrender at a time. Thank you for the beautiful way that your light overcomes darkness every time. Amen.

We Behave However We Truly Believe

Behavior reveals what we truly believe and what we truly love.

Harold “Hop” Ballinger

We know that we lie. Sometimes we even lie to ourselves.

A man can say that he believes X is the right thing to do, but if he always chooses to do Y, then isn’t it obvious that he actually believes that Y is the right thing for him to do?

People will conflate this with self- justifying concepts of “choosing to be bad” or “choosing to be naughty”. But what is truly good and right isn’t just some rulebook to follow in order to please or displease someone else. What is good and right is what is best for us, and anything else is choosing less for ourselves. And our own lives have told us time and time again that we do not always know our believe what is truly best, good and right for us.

Behavior is not about “disappointing others” or “disappointing God” or “following rules” (that we don’t truly believe). Behavior is the outwardly visible symptom of what we truly believe and value in our innermost.

So, if someone chooses to maintain a hidden relationship with another person while they are also in a committed relationship or marriage that trusts them to honor and respect their partner — it is clear that they believe that cheating is the best choice for them. People will try to play word games with this and say that they know it is “bad” as if they could just lump “good” and “bad” into a religious or moral category and divorce themselves from those things actually applying to them. But what they are actually doing is making decisions based on what is “good for me right now”. So, in fact, how we behave truly reveals what we believe.

People can participate in churches and religious practices and learn what to say to appear good — but what they truly believe always comes out in their behavior.

Hardened criminals who have chosen to behave in atrocious and vicious ways will tell you “I’m not a bad guy” and can easily explain how they justified their behavior as “good for me in that moment”.

So when we encounter something in our behavior that we can see is not healthy for us and others, if we only set up guardrails and measurements to keep our behavior in check — but we continue in our hearts to crave after and believe those things are “good for me right now” — then we are still bound in the chains of what we truly believe. We may continue to struggle and even break free from them at times, but if we continue to return to those habits and behaviors, somewhere deep inside we have decided that these behaviors are “good for me right now”.

Dead religious practice doesn’t change hearts and behaviors — it just keeps them behind closed doors. Laws and prohibition do not get rid of the dangerous behaviors — it just keeps them hidden behind closed doors and provides punishment for those who aren’t good at the game of hide and seek.

So you see, a change in heart, a new creation, a life changed to walk in The Way is not about rules and guardrails and checkbooks to live up to. It is about believing Jesus’s example — his behavior and teachings — truly are best for us to follow.

Jesus is the one figure that I can look at the example of his behavior and imagine how beautiful the world might be if everyone lived as He lived. If I look at other religious leaders, figures, and philosophers — no matter how high minded their ideas might be — if every single person in the world behaved a they behaved, it is easy to see there would be problems.

So, if behavior is the true revelation of what one believes, maybe we should spend at least as much time standing beside those who live as servants as we spend sitting around those who talk about things like holiness and law and right and wrong? Maybe our focus shouldn’t be on just trying to curb our appetite for temptation, but should be on figuring out what we actually believe in our hearts.

If we are struggling in habitual sin, we either do not have the power of the Holy Spirit in us that is able to overcome sin, or we have convinced ourselves that it is not a big deal and it’s isn’t really bad for me right now. We need to repent in our hearts and truly believe, not just “try harder” to follow rules. Our behavior will follow what we truly believe.

Authority

If authority is loud and active — used unfairly and without mercy ever chance there is for it to exert itself — it will be a horrible monster and burden to the people.

But if authority is usually quiet and patient, fair and merciful — revealing itself when truly necessary — it can be a source of peace and a comfort to the people.

No wonder we have different reactions depending on our personal experience of how those in authority have either benefited us personally or opposed us personally.

It isn’t hard to understand why people all over the world who hate another group for who they are, what they do, what they believe, or how they are different — that given the opportunity and the authority, they will likely wield authority against that group they are opposed to. When authority is wielded from places like hatred, fear and selfish motives, it causes pain and suffering for one group for the unfair benefit of another.

So it seems that wars and history have taught us that authority in the hands of men and women must be somehow kept in check, right?

But has warring nation against nation, and tribe against tribe, and man against man ever actually been the source of authority being wielded once and for all fairly, justly and mercifully?

There is a beautiful precept about Authority that I’m learning from the life and words of Jesus Christ.

He promises us a Kingdom of Heaven “on Earth as it is in heaven” (not just an evangelical hell insurance ticket to “someday get into heaven”) — and He doesn’t go to war against earthly authorities in order to take it by force the way they do. In fact, His victory came though what they would have understood as His defeat, His torturous death on a cross, His burial in a tomb.  And even if they don’t believe that he arose bodily to life (as promised and as we know to be true) — the world cannot deny that the spirit of His victory has lived way beyond the defeat of those particular authorities in His people who continue walking in The Way.

If ever there was a God, or a Man (or as we believe He was both) — wouldn’t we want the ultimate authority to be in the hands of a servant who willingly gives up his own life for all people — rather than in the hands of any man who would choose favorites and oppress some for the benefit of others?

A stupid man might say that they would rather be the chosen favorite benefiting while others suffered, but what happens if your spot as favorite is taken by another?

And an even more stupid man might say “give me the authority myself” thinking that he would use it only for his own benefit. But how many in power have destroyed themselves, and how many has fame and wealth and power led into absolute personal misery (even while they subjected others to misery as well)?

Let me pose a hypothetical to the wise atheist philosopher out there or the curious non-believer that might think that I am utterly foolish in believing in a God that in their words “doesn’t exist”:

If there was no God and no Jesus, what harm would a man do in surrendering authority to something or someone that didn’t exist? Will you willingly in your heart and aloud in your words profess belief and surrender and see for yourself whether His promise is true or not?

My belief would hold out hope that your one act of genuinely seeking Him might prove to be a greater benefit than any decades of denying Him, because He has done it before in my own life.

And if there is a God and He is worthy of Authority (and He is the only one able to wield it properly) — would you rather be cooperating in handing over the authority to Him or leaving in the hands of men?

I realize that Authority is hard to willingly hand over if we have seen it misused. But as Christians, we should respect authority, even wicked men who are put into places of authority — because it is God who has put them in those positions of authority for His glory and for our good.

Even those who are in place temporarily to oppress us give us the opportunity to endure faithfully as a testimony that our faith does not trust in one man or another being in a position of authority — but that we know that God has placed that man there.

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
Romans 13:1‭-‬7 NLT

You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.
1 Peter 2:18‭-‬25 NLT

Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.
Titus 3:1‭-‬3 NLT

Remember Generosity and Sacrifice

I’ve found that if I’m not intentional and consistent about it, I can over time forget to be kind to strangers and forget about helping those in need. One set of new circumstances can throw me out of rhythm, I slip into a different pattern, and before you know it — the days of my life are singing a different song.

What practical steps do you take to encourage yourself to generous (or even sacrificial) living in ways that don’t necessarily come naturally to you?

I’m wanting to improve and grow in this area of my life. Thanks!

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
Hebrews 13:15‭-‬16 NLT

An attitude of generosity, along with a willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of others and for the glory of God — is the type of “worship in spirit and truth” that pleases our Heavenly Father.

NOTE:

I’m trying to communicate precepts clearly in 100% non- religious language that everyone can appreciate whether they are a believer or not.

Afterwards, when non-believers realize that the precept itself comes from the Word of God, they might want to understand the precepts and seek to know my living God — rather than “sign up” for so many dead, man-made churches or religions.

In a world full of religious people making demands on others based on their own personal dogma, doctrine, and theology — I’d rather share the sweet precepts of my God in something even a child can appreciate as wise and helpful. So they might choose to taste for themselves and see that He is good.

Part of being genuine is admitting our own weaknesses and our need to be reminded of these things — confessing our sins to one another so that we might be healed — and encouraging and building each other up. God bless you, friends!

Wonderful Things

Today, let’s think about wonderful things — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Let’s turn our back on things that are bad for us and that hurt others. We all know where we have made our mistakes before, but let’s look forward and commit to the wonderful things instead.

Harold “Hop” Ballinger

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:1‭-‬17 NLT

Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

Colossians 3:2 NLT

Uniquely Wonderful Gifts

You are unique and wonderfully gifted, my friend. I see you loving, encouraging and serving everyone around you.

It is beautiful to watch and even more beautiful to encounter personally.

Thank you.

Harold “Hop” Ballinger

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

1 Peter 4:10‭-‬11 NLT

There is something wonderful about seeing the wonderful things in others — and in recognizing and honoring them for the unique and wonderful gifts God has given them!

Continue to Love Deeply

Continue to show deep love for each other, because love covers and heals wrongs.

Harold “Hop” Ballinger

I love the simple motherly advice of the NLT version and the strong and specific conviction of the AMP version of this verse. There seems to be a sweet marriage between the two.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins [it overlooks unkindness and unselfishly seeks the best for others].

1 Peter 4:8 AMP

READING THE RED WORDS: Morning Prayer

When you pray, don’t be like those show-offs who love to stand up and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners. They do this just to look good. I can assure you that they already have their reward. When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private and will reward you.

When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need even before you ask. You should pray like this:

Our Father in heaven, help us to honor your name. Come and set up your kingdom, so that everyone on earth will obey you, as you are obeyed in heaven. Give us our food for today. Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others. Keep us from being tempted and protect us from evil.

If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:5‭-‬15 CEV

https://bible.com/bible/392/mat.6.5-15.CEV

READING THE RED WORDS: Matthew Chapters 3 – 7 NLT

Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
Matthew 3:13‭-‬15 NLT

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’ Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
Matthew 4:1‭-‬11 NLT

From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people! And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Matthew 4:17‭-‬20 NLT

One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. “You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery. “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one. “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:1‭-‬48 NLT

Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Matthew 6:1‭-‬34 NLT

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.
Matthew 7:1‭-‬29 NLT