Monday, September 24, 2012

Is My Sin Better Than Your Sin?

Luke 7:36-48 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. (37) And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, (38) And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (39) Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. (40) And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. (41) There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. (42) And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? (43) Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. (44) And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. (45) Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. (46) My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. (47) Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. (48) And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 

We will break this lengthy reading into two separate RTS’s so that I do not write too lengthy of a post today.  Today, I want to focus on verses 36 through 39.

To set the stage, a Pharisee, (typically an enemy of Jesus, for they were continually trying to catch him in error), invited Jesus over for dinner.  We do not know Simon’s motives for we are not told.  My impressions are that he was at least somewhat open minded to learning more about Jesus.  I conclude that because the Pharisees typically wanted to publicly ridicule Jesus and Simon’s invitation indicates that he wanted to talk and discuss privately.  

While they were dining, a woman from town, who had heard that Jesus was there, came to wash his feet and and head with oil and her own tears.  The important thing about this passage is that the Bible clearly identifies her as a SINNER!.  I think we are suppose to read between the lines here to understand that this woman was a woman of “reputation”.  She was known in that area for her widely public and notorious sins; probably for both the quantity and the shameful nature of them.

Even though she may be entrapped in these sins, we must not conclude that all people that are clearly living in sin are there because they want to be.  Yes, sin is ALWAYS a choice, but life’s circumstances can wrongly lead folks to believe that sin is the only solution.  Satan is a master at that!

2 Corinthians 11:13-14 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 

The text clearly indicates that this “woman of sin” was not happy about her circumstances because she washed Jesus feet with her mourning tears.  She came to Jesus because she did not like the predicament that she was in and most likely thought that Jesus was here ultimate solution.  That brings us to the point of this lesson...Verse 39.

Luke 7:39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

Simon the Pharisee is clearly put off, by both this woman’s behavior and Jesus’ reaction to it, or more specifically his lack of a “proper” condemning reaction.  He was offended that Jesus would allow such a woman to interact with a man proclaiming to be a prophet, teacher and more specifically the Son of God.

We must be very careful that we do not have the attitude of Simon.  Somehow, we can tend to think that OUR sin is not so bad, but other’s are inexcusable, shameful, disgusting.  Before we get on our high horse, we need to remember a few priceless principles.

1.  All Have Sinned!

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 

No one is perfect, save Jesus.  Therefore, we must not act as if we are “better” than others.

2.  ALL Sin Separates from God!

Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: (2) But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 

There is no such thing as “good” sin and “bad” sin.  No “white” and “black” sin.  Just sin and every sin has the potential of separating us from God.

3.  Because of one’s own individual sin, All need to their sin Washed Away!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

4.  Since Sin takes us to the same place of Despair, We, the forgiven, need to have compassion, and Love for those still Entrapped in Sin!

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 

Let us all have the same attitude as Jesus about those that are trapped in sin.  Sin should NEVER be condoned, however, Jesus was always willing to help those that wanted out, to get out of sin.  We must love as Jesus loved.  A condemning attitude towards “sinners” will never endear them towards christianity.  However, a loving, forgiving, helping and understanding attitude may actually give them an understanding about the forgiving nature of our Loving God.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why Did Jesus Do Miracles?

Luke 7:19-22 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? (20) When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? (21) And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. (22) Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 

Yesterday,  I talked quite a bit about Jesus’ power to perform miracles and especially his power over death.  In doing so, I made a distinct contrast between what Jesus did and his REAL power over illness, nature and death versus the claims that so-called “faith healers” make today.  Apparently part of the problem with this issue is the misunderstanding of why Jesus did these miracles.

Did Jesus heal the crippled of his day to rid our society of crippling disease?  Surely not because either it would be wiped out, or Jesus failed because we still have it rampant in our world.  Did Jesus still storms to put an end to natural calamities?  He must not have, because we still have them.

Jesus demonstrated the deistic power to prove that he is IN CONTROL and to cause the people of his time and all people of the future, to believe in HIM!  (John 20:29-31)  That is proved out by our text today.

I once met a preacher that claimed that he had all of the power that Jesus did.  I was amazed to say the least.  I frankly, but politely told him that I did not believe that he did.  So I asked him to prove it.  I suggested that we go to the nearest cemetery and that he raise someone from the dead.  He refused my challenge because there was no point in that because I didn’t believe.  I assured him that if he truly caused a dead man to live again I WOULD be a believer.  He still refused.  This man and all others like him has not read what Jesus says about why he did these things.

In our text today, John the Baptist sends two of John’s disciples to find out if Jesus is THE Messiah of which they were looking.  What was Jesus’ response?  He let his actions do his talking.

Luke 7:21-22 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. (22) Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

Jesus did not tell these people they would never believe it even if they saw it.  He performed MANY miracles, of all varieties, for the purpose of proving to these two men that he had the power! Now lets look at the last seven words of our passage today.  This again is a real distinction between how and why Jesus performed miracles verses the pretenders of today.

Luke 7:22 the poor the gospel is preached.

All of the benevolent works that Jesus did was for this purpose:  To PREACH the gospel.  Everything that he did was for the purpose of capturing attention of the followers so that they would listen to him about the will of God.  Every so-called faith healer I have ever seen or heard up until now, the “healing” was their message!  That is all they talk about.  It is the focus and center of their religion.

Again, Jesus did NOT COME TO heal.  He healed so that he could preach and lead lost souls to a knowledge of the truth that would save their eternal lives.  

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. 

Let us all have the same motives and focus that Jesus had!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Power over Death!

Luke 7:11-17 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. (12) Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. (13) And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. (14) And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. (15) And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. (16) And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. (17) And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about. 

Along with the daily instruction from Jesus,  those that followed him also got to witness the power of God through his many miracles.  It continues to amaze me how that, in modern day religion, those that claim that they are able to perform miracles, continue to attempt to duplicate Jesus.  However, have you noticed these pretender’s limited repertoire?  If you watch one of these performances on TV, you will find person after person coming on stage in a wheel chair, with unproven illnesses and then they walk off seemingly ok.  

Once, I saw a “preacher” who brought a deaf/mute man out on stage and the preacher claimed that he had already healed him back stage.  He only wanted to demonstrate the “power of God” so he asked the man to say “baby”.  After lots of prodding, three times the man was only able to get out the sound “bah”.  When the preacher saw that it wasn’t going to happen, he defended the difficulty by saying that the man could hear, he would now just need to learn how to talk.  REALLY?  Carefully notice a similar experience that Jesus had.

Mark 7:32-35 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. (33) And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; (34) And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. (35) And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake PLAIN. 

When TRUE miracles were performed by Jesus they were instantaneous and COMPLETE.  No need for the deaf to learn to hear.  No need for the mute to learn to speak.  No need for the lame to learn to walk.  No need for the crippled to learn to do.  No need for time for the storm to move out.  No need for the dead to learn to live.

If these so-called “miracle workers” wanted to truly prove they could do what Jesus did, they need to follow Jesus’ lead from our passage today.  Go to a funeral home or go to a cemetery and prove they have the power over Death!  Jesus not only healed all manner of illness, he also stilled storms and raised several people from the dead including the man in our text and his friend Lazarus.

John 11:23-27 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. (24) Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. (25) Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (26) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (27) She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 

In the case of Lazarus, Jesus used his raising to relate it to the Great resurrection.  If we are followers of Jesus, we can beat the final death, in the same manner that Jesus was rasied from the dead.   In that final resurrection, we too can be victorious over death.

1 Corinthians 15:52-57 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (55) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (56) The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Is Jesus Lord in Words or Action?

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 

In our text today, Jesus asks a very poignant question.  I believe it to be largely rhetorical.  A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked in order to make a point and without the expectation of a reply.  In other words the answer is assumed.

Jesus is asking how or why would you call him Lord if you are not interested in doing what he says.  To better understand this further, we need to better understand the word “Lord”.    So often the word “Lord”, is used is a religious setting that it loses its true meaning.  According to the dictionary I referenced the word Lord means:  “A person who has authority, control, or power over others;  a master, chief or ruler”.  

The really important piece of information here is that this setting, in this ONLY our Lord from a VOLUNTARY basis!  Many times in history, Lords were made through conquest!  A war lord would conqueror a land and enslave the people.  The people did not want that new ruler, but through threat, force and the possibility of losing one’s life they would at least go through the pretense of calling that conqueror “Lord”.

However, To call Jesus “Lord” is purely voluntary!  If you do not want him to have authority, control or power over your life, you can simply choose to reject him.  But if you do choose to make him the MASTER of your life, then by definition, you are CHOOSING to relinquish the control of your life, and replace it with Jesus as your ruler.

That brings us back to the initial question that Jesus asks.  WHY, why, why would anyone call Jesus Lord, Master, Ruler, Controller of my life and not be willing to do what he says?  Everyone needs to search their own hearts on this question.  If you want to call Jesus “Lord” because of the blessings that he offers in that role, we must truly search the scriptures to think how he tells us to think, to live like he tells us to live, to behave like he tells us to behave and to worship as he instructs us to worship.

If you are not willing to live by the teachings of Jesus, that is certainly a choice that he allows us to make.  But by all means, do not fool yourself into thinking that he is still the Lord of your life and through it you will still be receiving the blessings that he offers.

James 1:21-25 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (23) For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: (24) For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (25) But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Who Are You Really?

Luke 6:43-45 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. (44) For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. (45) A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. 

Have you ever heard a person make a justification for an action of theirs say something to the effect:  “That really wasn’t me”.  While I understand that sentiment, and may have used it in the past myself due to unusual and overwhelming circumstances, our passage today, spoken by Jesus himself, declares that is an exception and not the rule.  As a RULE, we act, react and behave because that is precisely WHO we are.

To make this point, Jesus asks several thought provoking examples:
1.  A Good Tree CANNOT produce Bad fruit.
2.  A Bad Tree CANNOT produce Good fruit.

The point is that we determine whether a tree is good or bad based upon the fruit that they would produce.  We do not draw those conclusions independent from the fruit.

In verse 45 Jesus makes the application.  A good man does good things because it comes from his heart.  An evil man does evil things because those evil actions are a natural reaction to who he really is.

Who really are you?  Not how you think of yourself.  Not who you claim to be.  Not who you want to be.  But who are you based upon Jesus’ standard?  Who are you based upon your actions, reactions and behaviors?  You cannot “be” one thing and do another!  If your actions are ungodly,,,simply NOT God-like, then you are ungodly.  If your actions are rebellious against God YOU ARE in rebellion.

The good news about the gospel is that it is never too late to change.  If you do not like who you are you can do something about it.  To do that you must change your heart and mind.  That requires changing what influences it.  If you surround yourself with negative influences, you will be a reflection of that.  

To be the kind of person that is pleasing to God, you need to be influenced by him.  We do that by studying and following his word and surrounding ourselves with like-minded folks.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Love Your Enemies?

Luke 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 

Nobody said that Christianity would be easy.  Nobody said that Christianity would be fun....and our passage today is proof positive of those sentiments.

Some may have an impression of Christians that we are different in the way that we think and react to common human stimuli. Christians have the same kind of human reactions as anyone else.  We feel pain, we tend to shy away from conflict, and enemies are a source of great discomfort and discouragement.  Does anyone really enjoy their enemies?  I think not.

The real difference with Christians than from most other people is our response to these kinds of stimuli.  While others may want to and try to hide from enemy confrontation, and others may even try to retaliate, Christians are instructed to respond much differently...LOVE!

Remember now that Love, in a spiritual sense, is quite a bit different than the way that the world thinks about it.  Love in the Bible, is less about warm and fuzzy emotions and more about intellect and action.  Notice these two verses.

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

There are thought processes, choices, behaviors and lifestyles that we can choose as humans that can cause us to be enemies with God.  But even with that being true, he gave his only son as a sacrifice for all in the world to have the opportunity to be saved.  Why did he do that?  Because of his LOVE for us.  

Do we really think that God has a positively warm and fuzzy emotional feeling toward every human on earth regardless how defiled and degenerate that they are?  Certainly NOT!  However he still loves all of us.  In fact, he loves us so much that he made the ultimate sacrifice.

That is the pattern for us loving our enemies as well.  We are not instructed to have a positively warm and fuzzy emotional feeling towards our enemies.  But we are to love them.  That means instead of retaliating against them, we should seek to do good for them.  Unfortunately, we should not even shy away from them, but engage them in a positive and beneficial manner.

It won’t be easy.  It won’t be fun.  But it is behaving in a godly manner.  May we all strive to love our enemies as God loved us when we were enemies with him!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jesus...Hated for Good!

Luke 6:6-11 And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. (7) And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. (8) But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. (9) Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? (10) And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. (11) And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. 

As I continue to read the New Testament...specifically the Gospels, I am regularly bewildered by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.  They are almost always mentioned as being present where Jesus is teaching and such and yet, they are not only NOT impressed but ANGERED.  They quite literally hate Jesus and every time he does something beneficial for others, they despise him all the more.

In our text today, Jesus is healing yet another of the countless people that happens upon him.  This particular person crossed paths with Jesus at an unfortunate time, on a Sabbath day.  And that is what the religious leaders decide to make the issue on this given day.  Jesus knowing their thoughts asked if the Sabath was for doing good or doing evil.  Because they did  ot have an answer, Jesus went forth and restored the man’s crippled hand.

These religious leaders remind me of modern day politicians.  They can overlooked good because it does not benefit THEM.  Jesus’ notoriety and fame served them in no way and for that reason, they had to bring him down.  Whether we like it or not, people do not always want what is best for others.  Sometimes they only care what is best for them.  We may have expereinced similar kinds of people.  We have to have the mind of Jesus and just keep pushing on.  Jesus ran into this on a daily basis...even to the point of this death, but he kept on keeping on...and so must we!

Mark 13:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.