Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Beatitude Series #14: Woe! Woe! Woe!

I've got plans for my life. Leave me alone, God!

We've looked at the blessed life of the Christian as Jesus described it in His Beatitudes in Matthew 5-7 and again in Luke 6. The warnings of Jesus in Luke 6:24-26 are addressed to those who are not serious about living the Christian life. The only concern of many Christians is that they have trusted Christ and now have assurance of Heaven when they die. That's all they want from God. As far as learning how to live the Christian life and please God, they have no interest or concern, nor do they care about God's blessings. They've got plans for their lives and they want to be left alone to pursue their goals and dreams. They have no time for God or the Bible. "Perhaps when I am older," they think, "I will get serious about God and try to please Him before I die."

To such a person I would cry, "WHOA, WHOA, WHOA!!!"

As one riding a horse and trying to stop it, I would cry to you who are running from God as fast as you can, "Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!!! Before you start down the road of rebellion and independence from God, I want to warn you of what lies ahead. Life is filled with the devil's landmines. Unless you are walking in fellowship with God, seeking to obey His Word; you could be maimed for life or be blown up and destroyed by Satan. Everyone who continues down the road of rebellion and independence from God can expect a life of misery, grief, sorrow and a broken heart. Read Proverbs 1-2 and take very seriously the warnings in those chapters. Before you start down the road of sexual promiscuity, read and heed the warnings of Proverbs 5-7. Hebrews 13:4 teaches, "Marriage is honorable in every respect, and the bed is undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers, God will judge." Proverbs 13:4 warns "The way of the transgressor is HARD!"

If you reject the Lordship of Christ, you will never know true freedom.

If you are not a bond slave of Jesus Christ, you are a slave of the devil. You may think you are free and run your own life, but soon you will discover you are bound by Satan. You will find that though the pleasures of sin seem sweet, at the end you will find there's a terrible after-taste. If you want to play dangerously, play with the high tension wires or play Russian roulette. You just might get away without getting hurt, but don't play with sin. There is no way you can escape tragedy! You can't play the game of sin and win. You'll lose every time.

Note some of the things of which Jesus warns and pronounces woes in Luke 6:24-26

RICHES Jesus is not against a person working hard and investing wisely and accumulating wealth. In fact, Deuteronomy 8:18 reminds us that it is God who give us the ability to gain wealth. What Jesus is warning of in this passage is the arrogant attitude of many rich who believe they are "self-made" men or women. People who trust their riches and have no room for God in their lives are facing God's judgment. Psalm 10 describes these people. In Luke 12:15-21 and again in Luke 16:19-31 you have the stories of two wealthy men who suddenly faced God's judgment. James 5 warns the rich who made their money by taking advantage of their employees or slaves. Read the sober warnings in these passages of Scripture.

FULLNESS Jesus continues His warning in Luke 6:25 to those who are full. Again, Jesus is not preaching against eating a good dinner and going away from the table full and satisfied. Although the Bible warns about the sin of gluttony, it is not sinful to eat a good meal and feel satisfied. What He is warning about here is the sin of being full of ourselves, living self-satisfied lives with no sense of our need for God. He is warning that those who live with no sense of mourning over sin, but who just laugh off God's warnings, will one day weep and mourn, but then it will be too late for salvation. Read what lies ahead in Rev. 6:12-17.

PRIDE In contrast to God's blessing on the meek, God's Word warns of woes on the proud. Pride is one of the worst of sins. It led to Lucifer's fall in Heaven. God calls it an abomination in Proverbs 6:16-19 where He warns about a proud look. Psalm 138:6 "Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly: but the proud He knoweth afar off." I Timothy 6:3-5 tells us that pride is a mark of false teachers. Pride is a growing sin of the last days. II Timothy 3:1-7.

Seeking the favor of man rather than the favor of God.

In Luke 6:26 Jesus warns "Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you for so did their fathers to the false prophets."In other words, woe on those who seek the favor of man rather than the favor of God; whereas those who are persecuted for righteousness sake are blessed. Preacher, take comfort if you find yourself in a battle. Not one because of your own foolishness, but because you faithfully preach God's Word. It's not a pleasant feeling to be hated and opposed by people, but Jesus' words have always been a comfort to me.

Moses is an example of one who chose God's favor over man's favor. When he was old enough to make his own decision, he chose to identify himself with God's people, Israel. In making that decision he gave up the glories of being a son of Pharaoh, choosing rather to suffer with God's people. Read of his choice in Hebrews 11:24-27

 

The Apostle Paul was one who experienced the hatred of men wherever He went. In the closing hours of his life he wrote poignant words to Timothy, his son in the faith from a cold, lonely, damp Roman prison cell as he awaited the day of his execution. I encourage you to read those words in II Timothy 4. I can seldom read them without tears.

 

Look at the life of Jesus. When you read the four Gospels, you can't miss the fact that everywhere Jesus went He had enemies, as well as a little circle of friends who loved Him. God's faithful servants can expect no better treatment.

On which road are you traveling? If you choose to walk with God, you can count on the disfavor of Satan and his world system; but you can also count on God's blessing on your life. If you choose the favor and popularity of the world system, you are walking the road that leads to woe. This is not my opinion. This is the message of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount.

March 1, 2006 Posted by | Beatitudes Series | Comments Off on Beatitude Series #14: Woe! Woe! Woe!

Puritan Prayer

"Thou bottomless fountain of all good,
I give myself to Thee out of love,
for all I have or own is Thine,
my goods, family, church, self,
to do with as Thou wilt,
to honour Thyself by me, and by all mine.

If it be consistent with Thy eternal counsels,
the purpose of Thy grace,
and the great ends of Thy glory;
then bestow upon me the blessings of Thy comforts;
If not, let me resign myself to Thy wiser determinations."

This is just a portion of one of the prayers prayed by the Puritans who laid the spiritual foundations of our Republic. These prayers are challenging my own prayer life. I recently bought my own leather-bound copy of about 300 prayers from http://www.banneroftruth.org .

March 1, 2006 Posted by | Prayer Series | Comments Off on Puritan Prayer

When our World Collapses

Christians are not exempt from trouble. 

We live in a sin-cursed world filled with misery, sadness, disappointments, relationships gone sour, unhappy marriages, broken homes, wayward children, broken lives, shattered dreams, war, crime, sickness, pain, grief, financial reverses and circumstances beyond our control.  For many, their world is collapsing around them. God’s people are not immune or exempt from these trials and feelings of sorrow and sometimes hopelessness.  Sometimes we don’t even feel the presence of God. 

The Psalmist sometimes felt that way. Listen to him in Psalm 42  “As the deer pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after Thee, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before Thee?  My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, ‘Where is thy God?’   The Psalmist continues his complaint, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Why art thou disquieted within me?  Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” 

Job, engulfed in personal tragedy and hopelessness, speaks in Job 23 of his inability to sense God’s presence.  All of us have had times in our lives when we felt all alone and could not even sense the presence of God. Job says in verses 8-10  “Behold, I go forward , but He is not there.  I look backward, but I cannot perceive Him.  I look on the left hand where He works, but I cannot behold Him. He hides Himself on the right hand so that I cannot see Him.   But in spite of my lack of ability to feel His presence, He knows the way that I take. When He has tried and tested me, I shall come forth as pure gold.” 

Christ’s resurrection makes all the difference.

Without the assurance of Christ’s resurrection, we Christians would be a hopeless, pathetic lot.  But thank God that we have something more solid and substantial than our weak, changeable feelings.   In spite of Job’s negative feelings, Job knew facts concerning the prophesied truths of His Redeemer’s resurrection. He could rest on those facts and rejoice.  Listen to the amazing facts in Job 19:23-27 that Job had been given by inspiration of God.  “Oh that my words were now written!  Oh, that they were printed in a book, that they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever!  (Job’s desire was fulfilled. These words are written by divine inspiration and are found in God’s infallible, indestructible Word, the Bible, forever!) He continues to speak in Job 19:25, ” For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and that though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet IN MY FLESH SHALL I SEE GOD: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my internal organs be consumed within me.”    Wow!  What light we have here on our bodily resurrection!   As Jesus arose from the dead and was seen in His recognizable glorified body,  so one day we will be raised in our glorified, recognizable bodies.  We will not have nor need our internal organs nor blood, for presently the life of the flesh is in the blood; but in our resurrection bodies, that won’t be necessary.  

Please turn in your Bible to John chapter 20 and discover some wonderful truths concerning the resurrection as we find the disciples huddled together in fear and despondency  that first Sunday evening;  possibly in the same upper room where they had met with Jesus just before He went to Calvary‘s cross to die for our sins. Mary Magdalene had met Jesus earlier that day and she had told the disciples about her meeting. Surely, if they gathered together, perhaps they would also soon see Him, for He had said earlier in His ministry,  “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in their midst.”  The disciples were about to experience the fulfillment of this promise physically.  We today experience the spiritual presence of Christ whenever we gather in His name.  That spiritual presence is just as real to us as the physical presence of Christ was real to the disciples. 

God’s Word makes us glad

What happened that night in Jerusalem 2000 years ago?  There in that room with the doors being shut and perhaps locked,  Jesus appeared physically to them as He passed right through the walls and stood in their presence.  He showed them the nail holes in his hands and the spear wound in His side.  The disciples were glad.  I think they were ecstatic when they saw Him and heard Him speak. So today when we gather in His name,  His Word makes us glad. 

Even the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, who was saddened over the plight of Judah in Babylonian captivity, was made glad by the Word of God. Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 15:16, “The Words were found and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart, for I am called by Thy Name, O Lord God of Hosts.” 

Not only were the disciples made glad, but they heard Jesus speak peace to their troubled hearts.  When you trust Christ as your Saviour, you will know peace with God. Read Ephesians 2:14.  Not only will you have peace with God, but your heart will be filled with the very peace of God. Read Philippians 4:6-7 

Report for Duty!

Furthermore, the disciples were commissioned for service. They heard Jesus say, “As the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you!”  We don’t normally hear that call unless we turn aside from the things of this world to listen to Him.  Exodus 3:1-4 tells of how Moses turned aside when he saw the burning bush that would not be consumed. As he observed this supernatural phenomenon, God spoke to him from the bush and called him to lead Israel out from the slavery of Egypt. 

The prophet Isaiah also heard that call when he focused on the holiness and glory of God. You can read of his commission for service in Isaiah 6. With the commission for service, the disciples were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit.  I believe they were given the Holy Spirit that moment.  Later at Pentecost the Spirit of God would come down in great  power on the early church as they were baptized and  united by the Spirit into one Body, Christ’s Church, and empowered to be witnesses. 

Now consider Thomas.  Where was he?  Out in the cold, dark night of loneliness and despondency.  Note what he missed.  He missed Jesus’ presence.  He missed the gladness.  He missed the message of peace. He missed the commission for service and the divine power.  What kind of person was Thomas?  Probably a pessimist. You see that in John 11:5-16.

I would not waste my time living for Christ  IF 

He was possibly argumentative. He certainly had honest questions.  There’s nothing wrong in honest questions, as long as you are willing to accept God’s answers from His Word.  He was somewhat skeptical and negative.  When the disciples came to him and raved about  their meeting with Jesus, Thomas insisted that he would not believe Jesus was risen from the dead until He could see with his own eyes the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side.  That attitude was not all bad.  Thomas was really saying, “I refuse to become a follower of Jesus, unless I am convinced that He rose from the dead.” I feel the same way.  I would not waste my time and effort worshipping and serving a Saviour who I was not convinced  had risen from the dead.  

 

The following week the disciples met once again in that room where they had seen Jesus the week before.  This time they had convinced Thomas to join them.  They were not disappointed.  Again Jesus met and showed Himself to them.  In fact, He invited Thomas to stick his finger in the nail prints in His hands and thrust his fist into the wound in His side.  Thomas didn’t have to do that.  He took one look and fell on his face before Christ, crying out,  “MY LORD AND MY GOD!”  Thomas was a changed man and joined the rest of the Apostles proclaiming Christ to the world. God pronounced a blessing on the Apostles who saw, but He pronounces an even greater blessing on us, who have never yet seen Jesus in person.  

 Have you received the crucified and risen Christ as your Saviour and Lord?  If so, you’ve already discovered the gladness and the peace of His presence. If you’re listening, you have already heard His call to serve Him and you’ve been given the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill His calling. “Blessed are you who have not yet seen Him, yet have believed!”

March 1, 2006 Posted by | Resurrection | Comments Off on When our World Collapses