Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

The Great Seeker

In Luke 19:10 Luke declares that “The Son of Man (Jesus) came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost.”   Then in verse 1-9  Luke tells the story of Zacchaeus’ meeting with Jesus and his conversion,  a wonderful illustration of Jesus’ mission statement.

 

This event takes place about a week before Jesus was crucified. As Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem for that fateful event with destiny, He traveled through Jericho, a city about 25 miles northwest of Jerusalem.  It would be the last time He would pass through that city.  The crowds were building as Jesus’ popularity grew with the common people.

 

In that city was Zacchaeus, a publican.  He was a Jewish tax collector for the Roman Empire, and as such, he was known as a publican and a sinner.  He not only collected the required taxes, but collected as much as he could beyond the taxes to line his pockets.  As such, he was hated and despised by the Jews.

 

Zacchaeus had heard that Jesus was passing through. It was the big story of the day and everyone knew it.  By some powerful compulsion, Zacchaeus desperately wanted to see this righteous Man.  The problem was that he was short of stature and it was impossible to see Jesus because of the crowded streets.  So he got an idea.  He ran down the street ahead of the procession and found a sycamore tree hanging over the street.  Climbing up into the tree he found a branch where he could perch and get a good view of Jesus as He passed by.  Now he waited with growing anticipation to meet this great Man.

 

Most sinners run and hide from Jesus.  Zacchaeus, was different.  He made every effort to see Jesus.

 

As Jesus passed by, He stopped and looked up into the tree, gazing right into Zacchaeus’ eyes.  Then Zacchaeus was stunned when Jesus spoke his name and made a shocking announcement.   “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down: for today I must abide at thy house.”  

 

Zacchaeus must have almost fallen out of the tree with shock. He thought to himself, “Why would such a righteous man want to come and spend the evening with me?”  But he gladly and excitedly came down and assured Jesus he was welcome to come to his home.

 

The crowds were disgusted and shocked with Jesus.  “Jesus, don’t you realize that man is a sinner?  Why on earth are you choosing to spend an evening with Him, of all people?”

 

They could not fathom that Jesus loved sinners. He came into the world to save sinners. In a week He would be hanging on a cross to shed His blood and die that sinners could be saved from their sins and be given a new life.

 

That evening, perhaps at the supper table, Jesus saved that hungry-hearted sinner. We don’t know what was said.  All we know is that Zacchaeus was saved and became a changed man from that hour.

 

Who was Seeking Who?

 

What caused Zacchaeus to seek after Jesus?  Was it mere curiosity?  It may have been that, but it was something far deeper than curiosity.  Zacchaeus was hungering to know God and be a righteous man.  He somehow knew that this was his last chance to see Jesus. Though he probably was not aware of Isaiah’s call to sinners in Isaiah 55:6-7, he was seeking God, though he knew not why. 

 

Isaiah warns in that passage,  “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord and He will have mercy upon Him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” 

 

Jesus had earlier preached in His Sermon on the Mountain, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (the necessary material things of life) will be added unto you.”

 

Why did Zacchaeus seek after Jesus?  Because God had taken the initiative and was seeking after Zacchaeus.  That’s the way it always is with sinners.  Sinners don’t take the initiative to seek after God.  God takes the initiative to seek after sinners.  If that were not the case, no man would ever seek after God. 

 

Paul write in Romans 3:11 “There is none that understandeth,  there is none that seeketh after God.”   You remember in the Garden of Eden after Adam sinned that he and his wife Eve tried to hide themselves from God.  They did not seek God.  He sought after them and found them and confronted them with their sins.  

 

He provided salvation for them through killing the first animal and shedding its blood for their sins.  That sacrifice of an animal began a long series of animal sacrifices throughout the Old Testament, all a picture of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who would one day be sacrificed once and for all for our sins.

 

A Changed Man

 

So there in his home that night,  his Guest, Jesus, led Him to salvation.  How do we know he was saved?   His life was radically changed.  He was no longer a thief. He stood and announced that night or the next morning, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”

 

There’s no question about it.  Zacchaeus was a changed man.  Jesus announced to him, “This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”

 

Jesus explained that Zacchaeus was saved; not by his own righteousness, not because he wanted to make restitution  for his sins; but he was saved just as Abraham was saved, by faith and not by his works.  Read the story of Abraham’s faith in God in Genesis 12 and 17.  Then read the explanation of the story in Romans 4:1-13  and Galatians 3,  If you wish to go into this in more depth, go to my series of messages on the book of Galatians which you will find under the category FREEDOM. In that series I cover Abraham’s faith and show you that you and I are saved exactly as Abraham was saved by faith in God alone, apart from our works.

 

No, Zacchaeus was not saved by his works; nor are we saved by our works.   Rather His faith in Christ resulted in his salvation which was evidenced by his changed life.  II Corinthians 5:17 makes it clear that any genuine conversion is evidenced by a changed life.  One who claims to be a Christian, but continues in his old life of sin with no desire to be clean, evidences that he was never saved in the first place.   That’s why in II Corinthians 13:5 we are admonished to “Examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. We must prove the genuiness of our faith.  If Christ is not living within us by His Spirit and if our lives do not demonstrate the change, then we are deceiving ourselves.  We have never been saved.

 

If God is speaking to your through His Word and calling you to trust Christ for your salvation, do it now.  Don’t put it off.  Jesus is passing by this moment.  He wants to come and spend some time with you right now.  Will you invite Him in or will you reject Him.  Your decision today could be final for you.  If He is knocking on the door of your heart,  invite Him in and He will spread a feast of salvation for you and change your life so that you might glorify Him with whatever days you have left on this earth.  Read Revelation 3:20 and open the door to His knock right now.

September 25, 2008 Posted by | Salvation | Comments Off on The Great Seeker

R.S.V.P. Today!

You are invited.

 

In Luke 14:16-24 Jesus tells a story of a The Great Supper illustrating salvation to which sinners have been invited.  We, His servants, are to take His invitation to the world.  Just before Jesus returned to Heaven after His crucifixion and resurrection,  He gave His Great Commission to His disciples to take the Gospel to the whole world.  Every Christian has the responsibility, regardless of his secular vocation, to obey that Commission.

 

 

The Great Supper is also mentioned in Song of Solomon 2:4 and Mathew 22:2-14  This is the banquet of salvation that is offered freely by God’s grace to sinners. It will culminate with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, mentioned in Revelation 19:7-9. Though it is freely offered to us by the grace of God,  it cost Jesus everything. The only reason anyone misses out on this banquet is that they, in pride and unbelief, reject Christ’s invitation to come to Him and be saved.

 

 

Some might argue, “But what about the people who have never heard of God or the Bible?  Abraham answered that question in Genesis 18:22-25. In summary he is declaring that God, the Judge of the earth will always do right.  Actually, everyone who is seeking for God’s truth will find God as he considers the glory of God’s creation. Read  Psalm 19:1-4.  Furthermore,  Romans 1:18-23 argues the same truth.

 

All things are ready

 

The banquet is ready now, Luke 15:17 declares.  God is always ready.  He is never  behind time.  God did not create Adam until there was a garden prepared for his home.  God did not make his wife, Eve, until Adam was emotionally ready for her.  God did not invite us, His Church, to salvation until the preparation was completed through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus spoke from the cross,  “IT IS FINISHED!”   Paul reminds us in II Corinthians 6:2  the “Now is the time. Now is the day of salvation!”

 

 

Mothers are rightfully upset when dinner is ready and the family is called to come and some straggle in five minutes later.    So the Lord of this feast, recorded in Luke 14, is angry when the invited guests begin to make excuses for not coming to the dinner.

 

Excuses  Excuses!!!

 

Note that these are excuses; not reasons or flat refusals.  It’s one thing to refuse to come, but it is even more offensive to make silly excuses.  Back of the excuses is a lack of desire to come. 

 

 

Why do the guests make excuses and refuse to come to the dinner?  It’s not that they were invited to a prison to live in solitary confinement for the rest of their lives, or to the hospital for surgery.  They were invited to a banquet, a royal feast!  How foolish to refuse the invitation!

 

 

 

Listen to their silly excuses.  These men were either liars or fools!

 

 

1. “I have bought some ground and must go out and see it.”  Does a normal person buy property and then go out and check it out, or does he check it out before he buys it?  Does he check it out at supper time when it is getting dark?  This is a foolish excuse, but basically many are allowing property and material possessions to keep them from trusting Christ for salvation.

 

 

2. A second excuse, even sillier, was that a man had bought some oxen and now at supper time had to yoke them and go plough some ground and see if he got a good deal.  Would you agree that it wiser to check out the animals before you buy them rather than after you buy them?  This is a sample of those who are hindered from accepting Christ’s invitation to salvation for business excuses, even though this one was not a very good excuse.

 

 

 

Married and won’t take your wife out for dinner?

 

 

3. The third excuse was given by a man who had just been married and for that reason could not accept the dinner invitation.  Really?  What wife would not like to go out to a nice banquet?  This man represents the excuses people make for rejecting Christ because of family concerns. These are the people who say,  “Sunday is my only day with my family.  I cannot come to church.”

 

 

My answer to such a person is, “What better way could you spend Sunday with your family than by going to church with them and sitting with them  and then going home and discussing the sermon with them in the light of the Bible?

 

 

The Matthew 22 account augments the Luke 14 story.  There we learn that some made light of the invitation and went their own ways just as the prophet Isaiah had prophesied in Isaiah 53:6  “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to His own way.”

 

 

Some of the invited turned on the servants who invited them and murdered them.  The persecution of God’s servants  is going on in many parts of the world even today.  Sinners despise the Good News of salvation. They  despise Christ and Christ’s servants who come to them with the Good News. Provoked by their father, the devil,  they hate Christ’s servants almost as much as they hate Christ Himself.  That truth is seen throughout the Bible. Read John 15:18-23.  If you are a Christian, this explains the source of the hatred you experience from some unbelievers.

 

 

Will you be speechless when you stand before Christ?

 

Some attempted to come to the Wedding Feast without a wedding garment.  Read Matthew 22:11-12  When confronted with the fact that they were not wearing the wedding garment it says they were speechless.   Why is that?  The King provided the spotless wedding garments.  These spotless garments speak of God’s righteousness imputed to those who trust Christ.   Everyone who goes to Heaven will have that spotless garment of Christ’s righteousness.  If you dare to stand before God in your own self-righteousness,  you will be speechless when you face His wrath.  Paul mentions that again in Romans 1:20 and 3:19.

 

 

You may make excuses today for rejecting Christ, but when you stand before Him at the judgment, you will be speechless and silent before Almighty God.

 

 

As those men in Bible times made excuses for rejecting the dinner invitation,  so people today make their excuses for rejecting Christ.  I’ve heard lots of them.  Let me list a few. Perhaps one of them is your excuse if you are not a Christian.

 

 

1. “Later, perhaps, when it is more convenient for me.”  Are you taking that gamble? It has to be the gamble of eternity.  It has to be more dangerous than Russian roulette.

 

 

Felix after hearing Paul preach, trembled and said, “Go thy way for this time. When I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”   Acts 24:25

 

 

King Agrippa in Acts 26:28 said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”  There is nothing in Scripture to assure us that these men ever had another chance to get right with God.  The facts are that as an unbeliever grows older,  his heart grows harder in sin and rejection of the Saviour. That’s why Paul urges, “Now is the accepted time.  Now is the day of salvation.”  II Corinthians 6:2

 

 

2. “I’m not good enough.” My first impression is that there is something insincere about that excuse.  You know that salvation is all of God’s grace;  and yet in pride and self-righteousness, you reject God’s grace.  On the other hand, if you really feel unworthy, you are half way home. The Gospel is ONLY for those who sense their unworthiness before God and put their trust in Christ alone.

 

 

3. “I can’t live the Christian life!”  Of course, you can’t. Neither can I.  No one can. Christ lives His life through us when we as Christians are controlled by His Holy Spirit.  Galatians 2:20

 

 

4. I’m too busy with my life and work to think about my condition before God.  You are too busy playing marbles, as far as the importance of what you are doing in contrast with what you ought to be concerning yourself.

 

 

5. There are too many hypocrites in the church. I’ll agree with you that Christendom is filled with hypocrites.  In churches where the Gospel is preached, there are certainly weak Christians, including pastors themselves.  A weak Christian is one who is trusting Christ for his salvation, but is struggling with Christ’s lordship in his life and is failing as a good testimony for Christ.  Don’t contrast yourself with weak Christians or with hypocrites.  Contrast your life with the pure, holy life of Christ alone.  He is our  ultimate standard; not some weak  Christian struggling and failing to walk with God.

 

 

Those who refuse to come to Christ are failing to face the truth that it’s a matter of their own will.  They refuse to come to Christ.  John 5:40 

 

 

Quit the excuses.  Just be honest with God and with yourself.  Tell God you are not interested in His salvation, that you want Him to leave you alone in your sins and let you go to hell.   The real reason you don’t come to Christ is found in  John 3:19-20.

 

 

If you choose to reject Christ’s invitation to be saved and to live forever with Him in Heaven,  He will turn from you and turn to others needing a Saviour. Luke 14:21-24   He will reject you,  If you reject His invitation, it may well be the last invitation you will ever hear or read.   Rejecters face His wrath.  John 3:36  Ps. 2:12  “Kiss the Son lest He be angry and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.”

 

 

RSVP Him today!

 

Come now; poor, maimed, halt and blind sinner.  RSVP Christ today and reserve your place in Heaven at that great wedding Feast of the Lamb.

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Salvation | Comments Off on R.S.V.P. Today!

Now or Never!

Jesus, accompanied by His Disciples,  was on His final journey south to Jerusalem where death awaited Him on a cross.  Luke 18:35 through 19:10 describes His one night  stop-over in Jericho where He healed and saved some blind beggars and transformed the life of a hated Publican tax collector, Zacchaeus.

 

The Jericho of Joshua’s day is a pile of dirt and stones today.  You may remember that city that stood in the way of Israel‘s conquest of the Promised Land.  God destroyed it as Israel marched around it.  Later on a new city of Jericho was rebuilt close by the old ruins.  That city still stands as one of the oldest cities in the world.

 

While in Jericho overnight, He had the opportunity to heal and save perhaps five people: four blind beggars  and one hated Publican, Zacchaeus,  a Jewish tax-collector for the Roman government.

 

The four blind beggars include Bartimaeus, whose story is found in Mark 10:46-52.  The story of the blind beggar they confronted as they approached Jericho is found in Luke 18:35-43.  It is his story we will consider in this article.   Two more blind beggars were healed as Jesus departed from Jericho.  That story is told in Matthew 20:29-34.

 

These are the final healing miracles of Jesus, except for the restoration and healing of Malchus’ right ear which Peter cut off with his sword in his efforts to defend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  But apart from these, Jesus healing ministry, before Calvary,  was complete.    This was the last chance for these blind beggars.  It was now or never for them.

 

These were also the final conversions to Christ  before Calvary. No one else would be saved from their sins except for the repentant thief on the cross and the Roman Centurion who was saved as he watched Jesus die.  Matthew 27:54 and Mark 15:29 inform us that he and some who stood with him were convinced Jesus was the Son of God.  Yes, I believe that we will see that Roman Centurion and perhaps some of the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus in Heaven.

 

Let’s learn now how the condition of this blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43 describes all of us as sinners.

 

 

THE CONDITION OF SINNERS

 

 

II Corinthians 4:3-4  and Ephesians 4:17-18 describe the spiritual blindness of the natural man and woman; that is, one who has never been born again. We Christians are warned to let our light  shine in this dark world.  When we hide the light of Christ, we are hiding Him from a sin-blinded world that so desperately needs him.

 

Not only are we spiritually blind as sinners,  but we are beggars. We come to God bankrupt of any righteousness. Not only are we bankrupt of righteousness; but as the result of Bible-denying Liberalism in America,  we have become a nation of citizens with a victim mentality who depend on our Federal Government to take care of us from the cradle to the grave.

 

Christians never need to beg.  We know Christ; not only as our Saviour, but as our Good Shepherd, who provides for all our needs.   It is a shame and disgrace for Christians to beg.  In so doing, we reflect on our Shepherd as one who cannot be trusted to provide for us. In Psalm 37:25  the Psalmist thinks back over his life and says, “I have been young and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.”

 

We Christians live in a world of spiritually blind beggars.  The best way we can help them is to introduce them to Jesus who will save them and provide for all their needs.  If we get people to Jesus, He will meet all their physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs.

 

 

THE CONVERSION OF SINNERS

 

 

People told this blind beggar of Luke 18:35-43 that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Somehow, this man who lacked physical eyesight had spiritual eyesight.  He recognized in his heart who Jesus was.  He was more than simply Jesus of Nazareth.  He was Jesus, the promised Son of David.  He was Jesus the Messiah.  He was Jesus the Saviour of the world.  He was the Jesus the Virgin Mary knew  in Luke 1:30-33.  He was Jesus whom Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, knew in Luke 1:69-73.

 

As Jesus approached him,  he cried out to Him, “Have mercy on me!”  That’s the cry of a penitent sinner.  Often the Psalmist, realizing how sinful he was, cried out to God for mercy.  Perhaps the best example of this is Psalm 51, the prayer of David begging God for mercy after he had sinned with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, Uriah.

 

In Isaiah 55:6-7 we are urged as sinners to seek the Lord and call upon Him for mercy  while He is near.  His promise is that He will show mercy to us and abundantly pardon us.   Ephesians 2:4-9 describes the abundant mercy freely available to every repentant sinner.

 

As Jesus passed by and the beggar cried for mercy, the crowds tried to silence  him, but he would not be silenced.  He cried out all the louder,  “Jesus, Son of David,  have mercy on me!”

 

Jesus heard him and stood still. He made the beggar confess his need.  He cried to be able to see.  Jesus healed him, but He did far more than that.  He saved his soul.  The Greek word there is “Sozo”.  It always means to save.  He not only healed him of his blindness, but He saved his soul.

 

 

THE CONSEQUENCE OF THEIR CONVERSION

 

The inspired record tells us that this man, now saved and able to see, began to follow Jesus.  That’s the real evidence of a saved person.  He immediately begins to follow Christ.  How can any Christian do less than turn over his life to Christ?   Romans 12:1-2  tells us that it is our reasonable service.  It’s the least we can do for Christ.  It’s also the most we can do for Christ.  If Christ has saved us from an eternity in hell, how can we offer Him less than our best.

 

 

Hebrews 12:12-15 also challenges us to follow Him in His unpopularity outside the camp;  that is, outside the circle of popularity.  Any Christian, no matter how nice and how loving he is in his dealings with others, will experience the rejection of the world as soon as he evidences his love for Christ.

 

I challenge you this moment, as you have been confronted with Christ, to trust Him right now.  He’s passing your way.  He may never pass your way again.  Call out to Him,  ”Jesus,  Son of David, Messiah,  Son of God,  thank you for dying on the cross for me and rising again the third day.  Thank you that you have proven to me that You are the Son of God.  I trust you this moment.  Have mercy on me and save me.” 

 

Read the promise again in Isaiah 55:6-7. Receive Him as your Saviour right now.  Then take the next step and start following Jesus today.  A good place to start is to get into this web site with your Bible and get to know Him.  Then find a church that is true to the Bible and get involved in reaching others with the Gospel.

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Salvation | Comments Off on Now or Never!

Liberty means Responsibility

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” – George Bernard Shaw

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Gems | Comments Off on Liberty means Responsibility

America’s Founders

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded; not by religionists, but by Christians: not on religions; but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship.”

– Patrick Henry

September 15, 2008 Posted by | Gems | Comments Off on America’s Founders

Oysters and Pearls

“I wish, brothers and sisters, that we could all imitate the pearl oyster.

 

A hurtful particle intrudes itself into its shell, and this vexes and grieves it. It cannot reject the evil, but what does it do but “cover” it with a precious substance extracted out of its own life, by which it turns the intruder into a pearl!

 

Oh, that we could do so with the provocations we receive from our fellow Christians, so that pearls of patience, gentleness, and forgiveness might be bred within us by that which otherwise would have harmed us.”

Charles Spurgeon

September 13, 2008 Posted by | Gems | Comments Off on Oysters and Pearls

They didn’t get it!

In this article I want to show you how the disciples were so spiritually dense that in spite of all the teaching Jesus gave them concerning his death and resurrection;  they still didn’t grasp it, even a week before His crucifixion.   Luke 18:31-34 is our text, so it may be helpful for you to read that passage of Scripture before you continue with this study.

 

Jesus’ earthly ministry was about over.  He was about to go up to Jerusalem where the greatest event of time and eternity would take place when He was crucified and raised from the dead three days later. 

 

The beginning of that final trip from Galilee to Jerusalem is recorded in Luke 9:51.  From that point on, every day brought Jesus closer to Jerusalem and his destiny with the cross and the tomb.  Luke 13:22 and 19:1 point as sign posts along the way in His journey to Jerusalem. 

 

In Luke 19:11 we learn that even as Jesus was nearing Jerusalem, His disciples were still unaware of what was going on.  Their minds were intent on Christ’s Kingdom and their role in it. The last thing on their mind was Jesus dying.

 

In Luke 19:28  Jesus and His band of disciples ascended the hill to Jerusalem. In verses 41-44 of that chapter, Jerusalem was in sight and He wept for the city which would soon fall to the Romans under the judgment of God.   In verse 45-46  Jesus cleansed the Temple for the second and final time.  The first time was at the beginning of His ministry as recorded in John 2:13-17.

 

In these, as well as all the events of Jesus’ life on earth, we see His concern to do His Father’s will, His concern for the fulfillment of His Word and His concern for His disciples.

 

First, His concern for His Father’s will.

 

His desire to do His Father’s will existed from before the foundation of the world. This is expressed in I Peter 1:18-20,  Revelation 13:8  and  Ephesians 1:4.

 

He showed that concern throughout His ministry, as we see in Luke 2:49 and  8:51.

 

His death on the cross was planned from before the foundation of the world.  It was purposeful and planned.  It was not a sad miscalculation on His part or a horrible mistake.  His death on Calvary was the primary purpose for coming into this world as a human being so He could bear our sins and pay the penalty of death in our place.  He purposely walked right into the jaws of death.

 

Secondly, His concern for the fulfillment of His Word.

 

Jesus knew the Old Testament Scriptures from childhood.  After all, He was the Divine Author of both the Old and New Testament, inspired by His Holy Spirit. He was fully aware of the Old Testament Scripture that described in detail His birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection and it was fulfilled to the minutest detail. Read  Psalm 22, 69:20-21,  Isaiah 53 and  Zechariah 12:10, just a few of the Scriptures that were fulfilled to the letter at Calvary.

 

Thirdly, His concern for His Disciples

 

Jesus did not have to take His Disciples to His crucifixion.  He could have gone alone; however, His Disciples would have missed the entire purpose of His life on this earth. It was essential that they be eyewitnesses of His death and resurrection so they could declare it with conviction and power to the early church.

 

Through the years of Christ’s ministry with them, whenever Jesus brought up the subject of His coming crucifixion, the disciples failed to grasp it.   Mark 9:30-34 states that they feared thinking about it.

 

Not only did they fear thinking about it, but Mark 9:35-41 tells us that they had other things on their mind, thoughts of their grandeur and prominence  in Christ’s Kingdom. Self-centered people seldom receive anything from the preaching of God’s Word.  They are too full of themselves to grasp the things of God. That was the condition of the disciples at this time.

 

It was not until after Christ’s Resurrection and after Pentecost when the Spirit of God filled the Apostles, that they began to understand the truths of the crucifixion and the resurrection. of Christ.  It was then that Peter could preach with power and explain the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection as He did in Acts 2:22-24.  I encourage you to read these verses.

 

Here Peter explains that the Jewish Council delivered Jesus into the hands of Pilate, the Roman Procurator who ordered His crucifixion.   But Peter explained that Jesus was not just put to death by the Jews or the Romans;  He was also crucified according to the foreknowledge of God. Our sins required the crucifixion of Christ.  The whole world is guilty of Christ’s death.  God gave His Son to be the perfect and final sacrifice for sin forever.  Those who receive the gift of Christ as Saviour from sin, are given the gift of eternal  life.  Those who reject Christ, continue on a course to eternal damnation.

 

Do you get it?

 

The disciples didn’t get it when Jesus explained His crucifixion.  Do you get it? Do you see that He died in your place?  Do you understand that your sins were placed on Jesus and He died and paid the full penalty for you?  Do you understand that the righteousness of Jesus has been put to your account and you can be in Heaven throughout eternity because you are going there clothed in Jesus righteousness and not in your own stinking self-righteousness?  Read Isaiah 64:6 and see what God thinks of your righteousness.  Read Titus 3:5-6 and learn that our righteous efforts will never take us to Heaven.  We must see ourselves as God sees us:  as sinners worthy only of hell.  We must come to the end of ourselves and place all our trust and confidence in the gift of His Son Jesus who died in our place on Calvary‘s cross.  Trust Him now and discover peace with God.

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Kingdom | Comments Off on They didn’t get it!

Gracious Hospitality

As we are studying Luke 14, we are observing and listening to Jesus who was invited to dinner by a Pharisee whose sole purpose was to trap Jesus in something that He did or said.

 

At the same time, Jesus the guest is observing those around Him and taking opportunities to teach needed lessons of the heart.  As they and we listen to Him, we have to agree with those who said, “No man ever spoke like this man.” John 7:46.  Those of us who have received Him as God and Saviour reverently and gratefully respond to His stated purpose in coming to this earth. “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I came into the world to bear witness of the Truth.  Everyone who is of The Truth hears my voice.”  John 18:37

 

Do you hear and respond to Christ?

 

Those who heard Him then and those who hear Him now are divided in our response. We either receive Him or reject Him.  In John 10:4 Jesus stated, ” My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me.”

 

To those who do not have eyes to hear or ears to hear Him, Jesus says in John 8:43,47 “Why do ye not understand My speech? Even because  ye cannot hear My Word. He who is of God hears God’s Words: ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God.”

 

I pray that it may be said of us what Jesus prayed to The Father in John 17:8 “For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me, and they have received them and have known surely that I came out from Thee.” As you read the brief story in Luke 14:12-14, may God help you to hear His voice and respond in obedience.

 

Are you really hospitable?

 

I think you will agree that Jesus is not teaching us that we are never to invite our relatives or friends for dinner or to share in other social occasions.  Hospitality is always appropriate.  All Christians can be friendly and hospitable, though some Christians seem to be gifted by the Spirit of God in this area.  Gracious hospitality is simply  the ability to make people feel comfortable and at ease.

 

Regardless of whether you are gifted or not in this area, I think you will agree that the major blessing we receive when we show hospitality to our friends and relatives is an immediate enjoyment and pleasure.  We are also rewarded when they reciprocate and invite us to their homes.  Jesus is not trying to stifle that kind of hospitality.

 

But the fact is that all of us have a strong tendency and desire to limit our hospitality to those with whom we are compatible and comfortable.  In fact, there is a natural tendency in all of us to invest our time and energy in that which has the greatest earthly gratification or pay-off.   We tend to socialize with those with whom we are comfortable or with those who  enhance us socially or financially.

 

It was these wrong motives with which Jesus confronted His host at this dinner party; as well as us today.   What is Jesus teaching us in this conversation with the Pharisee?

 

If we invite those who cannot return the favor, God will multiply our blessings; not only now, but also at the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ. Learn more about this Bema Judgment in my series on Prophecy.

 

Jesus is teaching here that when extending a welcome to strangers in our churches as well as in our communities, we must be socially as well as  racially color blind.  This includes our young people.  All of us have an obligation and responsibility to  be a welcoming committee to strangers, regardless of their  class, race or appearance.  All visitors should sense a warm,  genuine welcome.  That welcome could start with a warm, genuine smile and hand shake or hug.

 

Do you really want to be blessed? 

 

Concentrate your attention on certain types of people.  Show warmth and love to everyone, but especially to those who are obviously poor, handicapped, lame and blind.  Let’s focus on those four categories of visitors.

 

The Poor

 

If yours is a warm, friendly church, you are going to attract the poor.  What are you going to do with them when they come to you and ask for financial help?  What are you going to do as they stand out in the parking lot before or after a service, hitting up people for a hand-out?  Deal with that immediately.  Psalm 41:1 tells us to “consider the poor”.  Spend some time with them and get to know them.  Make them feel welcome but warn them gently but sternly that begging is not tolerated.  Show them from Psalm 37:25  that God’s people do not beg.

 

Though it is the responsibility of deacons, any concerned Christian can go to their home and spend time with them, learning of their real needs. Of course, the primary need of anyone is to come to Christ and be saved from their sins. Deal with that issue first. If they have no interest in spiritual things, they will dismiss you and you will probably never see them again. If they trust Christ and are converted, they will want to learn to do right.  In many cases their first desire will  be to get a job. Many able-bodied people have been programmed by our socialistic government programs to depend on government for all their needs.

 

Their first need is to  know Christ as Saviour and Lord, and learn to know Him as their Good Shepherd who cares for all their needs.  If a person has no interest in having that relationship with God, then there isn’t really anything we can do to help them.  No matter how many handouts you give them, it will never be enough.  They choose to be perpetual beggars.  I do not encourage such people with financial aid.

 

To consider a poor person involves visiting them in their home and learning more about their situation.  Find out if they really are destitute and if they really do need your help.  If they have some income, find out how much they have coming in and where it is going. Help them identify the things upon which they are wasting their money, such as tobacco, alcoholic beverages,  soda pop, lottery tickets and other wasteful spending that is doing them no good.  

 

If you are dealing with an able bodied person who is not working, explain to him what the Bible teaches about the need to work. Show him II Thessalonians 3:10-12. From that passage you can teach him that if a person wants to eat, then he needs to work. If a person is not willing to work at even a minimum wage job, then we under no obligation to help him financially in his laziness.  If he is willing to work, perhaps you will have to spend some time and energy helping him learn how to clean up, dress correctly and apply for a job.   God may lead you to give him a little money to meet some immediate needs to prepare him to go job hunting. Don’t hesitate to give money to someone who is willing to take steps to help himself. Think of the money you give as a loan to God. Proverbs 19:17 says, “He that hath pity upon the poor lends to the Lord, and that which he has given will He (God) pay him again.”  Folks, that is not a bad investment. I can personally testify that when you make such a loan to God,  He repays with generous interest.

 

Do you see that helping a poor person involves more than a hand shake and a “God bless you?”  It involves spending time and energy sitting with him in a sometimes dirty, smelly house and patiently teaching him spiritual and practical truths about life. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent in stinking, dirty houses, my lungs burning with the reeking stench of cigarette smoke. I remember one house where I could not find a chair that was not messed up with sticky food and grime. Over the years I have seen some  lives changed as they came to Christ and got jobs and started working.

 

Going back to our story in Luke 14:12-14 we learn that not only should we show gracious, loving hospitality to the poor, but also to the maimed, the lame and the blind. Basically, these people are not looking for pity; they are looking for those who genuinely love them and will befriend them.  Help them spiritually by leading them to Jesus. Then go the next step and teach them how to live by God’s Word.  Take the first step by helping one person.  If your really want to serve the Lord, He will lead needy people into your life and give you the grace to  pour out your life to them in gracious hospitality.  Not only will you be blessed, but also your whole family will share in the blessing and learn valuable lessons about serving God.

 

Is it worth the time, energy, disappointments and tears?   Believe me!   It is!  God has blessed my wife and me far beyond our dreams.  In Mark 8:36 Jesus promises you that if you will lose your life in love to others for Jesus’ sake, He will repay you.

 

In Luke 6:35 Jesus encourages us to love our enemies and do good to them, loaning to them if they need it, HOPING FOR NOTHING, and our reward will be great!   Why are we hoping for nothing?  We hope for nothing because we are not considering our own interests.  Our concern is for others. We are not self-centered, but other-centered. We help others with no thought about ourselves.   To such people,  God will pour out His blessings, in this life and certainly in eternity.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Hospitality | Comments Off on Gracious Hospitality

Sabbath

When God created the world, He rested on the seventh day and blessed it, setting it apart from all the other days of the week.  Genesis 2:2-3   It was not because God was tired; but He rested and hallowed the seventh day for the good of mankind.  Everyone, needs to rest from work one day a week for his own health and well being. 

SABBATH FOR ISRAEL

In Exodus 16 God introduced His Sabbath to His people, Israel.  The Sabbath, Saturday, the seventh day of the week is observed by all devout Jews.  In Exodus 20:8-11 the Sabbath observance is listed as the fourth of the ten commandments.  It was just as important and just as binding as the other nine. How seriously does God look at Sabbath  breaking?  Read the account of a Sabbath breaker whom God commanded to be stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath Day.  Numbers 15:32-36

PHARISEES MAKE IT BURDENSOME

During the period of time between Ezra and the coming of Christ, the scribes invented scores of detailed regulations concerning the Sabbath that made life almost intolerable for the Jews.  When Jesus began His ministry, He clashed with the scribes and Pharisees over the heavy burdens they had laid upon the people.  In Mark 2:27-28 Jesus confronted the Pharisees when they charged His disciples for breaking the Sabbath laws by picking some grain to eat while traveling through a field.  Jesus announced to them, “The Sabbath was made for man; and not man for the Sabbath.”   He also announced to them that He was ” the Lord of the Sabbath.”

CHRISTIANS OBSERVE THE LORD’S DAY, NOT THE SABBATH

When Jesus was crucified and risen from the dead on Sunday, the first day of the week;  the early Christians began meeting on that day to worship the risen Christ. Acts 20:7   I Corinthians 16:1  Most Christians today continue to observe Sunday as the Lord’s Day.  Some groups still hold fast to their observance of the Sabbath.  In Colossians 2:8-23  Paul warns Christians to not allow themselves to be put into bondage concerning the observance of ceremonial laws of the Old Testament.  In verse 16 and 17 of that chapter  Paul specifically warns Christians to not allow anyone to put them into bondage by requiring them to observe Sabbath days nor any other holy days.  In that  passage he explains to them that the Sabbath, as well as other ceremonial laws, were all just shadows of one to come and that one was Christ.   Christ is our Sabbath just as He is our Passover.  I Corinthians 5:7  In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus invites us to come to Him for rest.  The writer of Hebrews in chapter 4 speaks further of the rest we can have in Christ as we trust Him.

APPLICATIONS FOR CHRISTIANS

There are two applications for those of us who are trusting Christ for our salvation.  First, we are no longer under the Sabbath  and other ceremonial laws of the Old Testament.  We rejoice in the freedom we have in Christ.  Secondly, since God  from the creation of the world has seen fit to teach us to rest one day out of seven and since Christians now observe the first day of the week as The Lord’s Day;  it seems right that we Christians should take more seriously our privilege and responsibility of observing the Lord’s Day as a day of rest and worship.

Although I would not for one minute seek to put any Christian under bondage,  I believe we are missing blessings  God has for us when we fail to observe the Lord’s Day as a hallowed day devoted to  worship. Many of us are too busy and too tired to be faithful in our church attendance.  Perhaps we need to simplify our schedules and rearrange our priorities.

If your work requires you to work on Sunday,  God has a solution for you concerning this.  Ask Him to show you what He would have you do.  Remember what Jesus said,

“The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.”

Christ wants to bless you; not add burdens to your life.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Sabbath | Comments Off on Sabbath

Supper’s Ready! Come!!!

As Jesus continued his conversation with the guests who had been invited to the Pharisee’s dinner with Him, He challenged  them to get their eyes off themselves and on the needs of others,  Luke 14:15 tells us of one who missed the whole point by focusing on his own blessing at the Heavenly Banquet.  Focused only on himself he remarked, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God.”

 

With that Jesus gently refocuses his attention and our attention on our responsibility as Christians to reach out to the lost with the Gospel invitation by telling another story in verse 16-24. Let’s look at that story.

 

The Great Supper Jesus refers to is a picture of the supper of salvation to which many are invited according to verse 16.  Actually, everyone is invited.  Listen to just three of the many  invitations in the Bible to be saved. 

 

“Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1

Continue reading the rest of the invitation in verses 2 and 3.  This Gospel invitation is for anyone who hungers and thirsts after righteousness to come to Christ and receive His free and gracious gift of salvation by faith alone.  This is right in line with what Jesus said in His Beatitudes in Matthew 5:6. For more on this, see our series on the Beatitudes on this web site.

 

The next invitation you probably know by heart.  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.”

 

The final invitation of the Bible in Revelation 22:17 pleads one more time with sinners, “And the Spirit (God’s Holy Spirit) and the Bride (the believer) say come.  And let him that heareth say come.  And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

 

Will you come right now and confess to God that you are a sinner?  Ask Him to save and cleanse you from your sins. Trust Jesus, God’s Son in human flesh who came down to this earth to shed His blood and die as the final and complete sacrifice for our sins.   He rose again the third day, proving He was God.   The price of our salvation has been paid in full by Christ.  Will you receive Him by faith this moment?  He will give you assurance of your salvation and you can continue reading with joy, knowing you are a child of God.  You can find much more on this all important topic of SALVATION on this web site.

 

Returning to Jesus’ story in Luke 14:16, note that a certain man planned a great feast and invited many.  When the supper was fully prepared he sent his servants to let the invited guests know is was now time to come. They made excuses and refused to come.  We will deal with those excuses in the next article.

 

Right now, let’s focus on the responsibility of the servants to go and invite the guests. When the guests made their excuses for not coming, the master became angry and said to His servants,  GO out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in the poor, and the maimed and the halt and the blind.

 

Many came, but there was still room for more;  so the Master continued challenging His servants to go out into the highways and hedges and compel the people to come in that the house may be filled.

 

If all of us obeyed our Master, I expect our half empty churches would be filled to overflowing and we would have to plant sister churches to help reach our towns and cities and rural areas with the Gospel.   Such evangelism is going on all over the world. What’s happened to us in America?  Is it possible that America, who was once the primary nation for sending missionaries around the world, is now in our selfishness and self-indulgence  going to become the mission field?

 

The most difficult thing for a Christian to do is to GO!  Once we are talking with others,  it’s not nearly so difficult!  The difficult thing is GOING!  That’s why The Bible emphasizes a Christian’s feet.  “How beautiful are the FEET of them that preach the Gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things.”  Rom. 10:15

 

Speaking of our armour in Ephesians 6, Paul emphasizes that our FEET need to be shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.”  Vs 15

 

The invitation we bring is simple.  “Come, for all things are now ready.”  Luke 14:17  Christ died for our sins.  All we need to do is receive His gift of salvation by faith.  There is not another thing we can do to add to the completed work of Christ.   Just receive Him as a beggar would receive a hand out.  God will save you freely by His grace.  Salvation costs you nothing but humbling yourself before Him and receiving His gracious Gift.

 

Once you are a Christian, you will be so overwhelmed with His love and grace to you, that you will gladly present your body as a living sacrifice to Him.  Living the Christian life and serving our Saviour costs us everything.  But that is another topic we will cover later when we come to  verses 23-35 of Luke 14.

 

Our biggest fear of approaching people with the Gospel is the fear of rejection. Jesus was rejected of men.  Is it any big thing that we should also be rejected of men because of our identification with Jesus?   Understand that lost people are blinded by Satan, as we read in II Corinthians 4:4.  Nevertheless, we have the obligation to warn them.  What they do with the warning is up to them; but we have delivered our souls. Ezekiel 3:17-19

 

Don’t be too quick to write off an atheist or anyone who is violently opposed to the Gospel.  Who ever would have believed that Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of Christians  would become Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles?  Sometimes, those most antagonistic to the Gospel turn out to be greatly used Christians.  Don’t be discouraged.  God can make you a bold witness for Him.

 

Luke 14:23 challenges us to “compel them to come”.  How do we compel them? 

 

Not with prizes and gimmicks.

 

Not by changing the message to make it less offensive to a rebellious sinner.

 

Rather, we compel them to come to Christ as they see the genuine love and concern we have for them.  Be honest with them by showing them we  are all sinners. Show them the evidence of the power of God by living a consistent godly life and showing them your genuine love and concern for them.  Finally, present the Gospel to them as found in I Cor. 15:3-11  Remember that according to Romans 1:16,  it is the Gospel that has the power to save sinners.  Share it with others and watch IT work.

September 5, 2008 Posted by | Evangelism | Comments Off on Supper’s Ready! Come!!!

I Dare You!

Atheists,  I dare you to dare God (whom you believe does not exists) to take away your wealth and your health.

I challenge you to go to 

http://raycomfortfood.blogspot.com/2008/12/i-was-wrong.html

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Atheism | Comments Off on I Dare You!

Why is it difficult for rich people to be saved?

This message is a follow up to my previous message from Luke 18:18-24 concerning a rich young ruler who rejected Christ because of covetousness.  You will find that message under the SALVATION link.  When this young man walked away,  Jesus took the opportunity to warn His disciples concerning the sin of covetousness. Let me expand on that topic with you as we continue in Luke 18:24-30.

 

WEALTH IS NOT SINFUL

 

According to Deuteronomy 8:2-18 we learn that it is God who enables anyone to acquire wealth.  Be warned, you who are rich.  The God who enabled you to become wealthy can strip you of your wealth overnight.  Whether you are a Christian or an atheist, just understand this one thing.  You are wealthy only because God has enabled you to acquire it.  Atheist,  I dare you to dare God (whom you believe does not exist) to take away your wealth and your health!

 

King Solomon, a billionaire by our standards today, became wealthy only by God’s grace. When this young son of King David inherited the throne of Israel, he cried to God for wisdom and God answered his prayer, making him the wisest man of his times.  Not only did God give him wisdom, but He also enabled him to become wealthy.

 

It’s too bad the story doesn’t stop there.  Solomon blew his opportunities to be a blessing to Israel and to the world.  He ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines “who turned away his heart after other gods”.   From being the wisest man who ever lived, he became one of the greatest fools who ever lived.

 

No, wealth is not sinful.  According to I Timothy 6:17 “God gives us richly all thing to enjoy.”   Wealth is not sinful.  It is covetousness that is sinful. In fact, the last of the Ten Commandments warns us of the sin of covetousness.  This sin is not limited only to the rich.  The poor are every bit as covetous as the wealthy.

 

You remember, the rich young ruler, when faced with a choice between following Christ and continuing to covet wealth,  chose his wealth and walked away from Jesus.

 

As a result of his decision,  Jesus speaks to His disciples about covetousness. You’ll find that conversation in Matthew 19:23-30,  Mark 10:23-31 and Luke 18:24-30.

 

COVETOUSNESS CAN KEEP US FROM SALVATION

 

In these passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke,  Jesus is not teaching us that we must be sinless before we can come to Him for salvation.  That would be an impossible qualification, for all of us are sinners.  Rather, He is teaching us we must hate our sin enough to turn away from it and trust Him.   Repentance is not being sorry about our sins because we got caught.  It is hating our sins which are so vile in the sight of God that He sent His Son, Jesus into the world to die and pay the death penalty for them. Repentance is being so sorry about our sins that we turn from them  to Christ to save us.

 

IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE FOR RICH PEOPLE TO BE SAVED

 

Abraham and Job are two examples of rich men who trusted in God’s provision for salvation.  In fact,  salvation is promised to Abraham through his Seed,  His progeny, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The major passages that explain this are Romans 4  and Galatians 3.   For a study on this, go to my series in Galatians  under the link, FREEDOM.    Abraham, Job and other wealthy Bible characters, though not perfect, lived righteous lives as they trusted in God to save them.

 

Though it is not impossible for rich people to be saved,  it is difficult for them.  In fact, Jesus said in Luke 18:25  “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”  What on earth was Jesus talking about?  Certainly not the eye of a literal needle that we use to sew material. Rather, He was referring to the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem, a small gate also known as the Needle’s Eye, through which a camel could not enter without being unloaded and going through on his knees.

 

WHY IS IT DIFFICULT FOR RICH PEOPLE TO BE SAVED?

 

The wealthy tend to trust their riches, rather than Christ as their chief purpose and joy in life.  The sorrow of the rich young ruler was not over his sins; rather, his sorrow and  sadness came by rejecting Christ.  I can’t imagine the sadness and sorrow that follows those through life who  knowing Christ and the Gospel, turn their backs on Him and walk away.  That sorrow follows them and haunts them all the way to their death bed.

 

Oh, they may attempt to drown out their sorrows by attempting to live a carefree life of sin,  but nothing satisfies a Christ-rejecter.

 

One day, they will face death and hell,  as did the rich farmer of Luke 12:16-21   and as did the rich man who story is found in Luke 16:19-26.

 

THE DANGERS OF RICHES

 

Though wealth in the right hands can be used to bless others;  in the hands of the covetous, they are dangerous.

 

1. The deceitfulness of riches can choke out the Word of God so that one does not even have a desire to listen to the preaching of God’s Word.  Matthew 13:22

 

2. The rich Christ-rejecters grow more wicked.  Psalm 52:7

 

3. The rich walk in slippery places headed for destruction.  Psalm 73  In this Psalm David begins to understand the foolishness of envying the rich.

 

4. Riches cannot save us. You can’t bribe God with money.  Salvation comes only through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. I Peter 1:18-19

 

CHRISTIAN, DON’T ALLOW RICHES TO KEEP YOU FROM SERVING GOD.

 

In Luke 18:28-30 and Mark 10:28-30  Peter asks Jesus if it pays to serve Him.  Jesus answers that it pays not only in this life,  but it pays in eternity a hundred fold!

 

In this passage Jesus challenges us to put Him before our parents, our wife and our children.  He is not teaching that we are to forsake our responsibilities to our families. Rather He is teaching that we must not excuse ourselves from serving Him because of our responsibilities to our families.   The man who puts Christ first in his life will be a better husband and father.  The obedient Christian will treat his parents more kindly and with respect, but he will not allow them to hinder him from doing what God has called him to do.

 

Parents,  don’t try to hold on to your grown son or daughter who wants to serve the Lord. Give them up to God’s will and He will bless you 100 fold.

 

IT COSTS TO SERVE JESUS

 

Paul writes about that sacrifice in II Corinthians  11:23-30  God teaches the obedient Christian how to handle sacrifice and sometimes poverty gracefully and with joy. Read how Paul rejoiced in his sacrificial service.  Philippians 4:10-19

 

If God is speaking to you about serving Him, weigh the cost of that sacrifice carefully as Moses did, as recorded in Hebrews 11:24-27.

 

THE SECRET TO VICTORY OVER COVETOUSNESS

 

Give your heart and life to Christ as the Macedonian Christians did, as recorded in II Corinthians 8:1-5  Live sacrificially and invest in the Lord’s work until it stops hurting. In II Corinthians 9:6-7 it tells us that these poor Christians gave cheerfully, better translated,  “Hilariously!”

 

 

 

 

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Covetous | Comments Off on Why is it difficult for rich people to be saved?

Pride and Humility

In Luke 14 we are privileged to observe and listen to Jesus as He deals with pertinent heart issues. Jesus, God in a human body, has the ability and the authority to  read hearts, something that we humans have no right or ability to do. Though we cannot read hearts and motives,  we have the ability to sense needs and opportunities to share the Gospel with the lost and to encourage believers along the way.

 

Jesus had been invited by a Pharisee to his home for dinner along with some other guests.  Earlier at the table, He had dealt with the issue of the Sabbath Day in the first six verses.  Now He deals with pride and humility in verses 7-11.

 

Would you note that Jesus always dealt with heart issues, rather than conduct issues?  If the heart is right, the conduct will be right.  That’s why Proverbs 6:23 warns us to guard our heart with all diligence for out of  it are the issues of life.” 

 

That’s why a godly father’s concern  is not so much simply for blind obedience from his children as it is for their heart.  In Proverbs 23:26 the godly father pleads with his son or daughter, “Give me thine heart and let thine eyes observe my ways.” 

 

We can force blind obedience from our small children by reinforcing our commands with punishment when needed.  However, our goal should be to win  the hearts of our children by the time they are teens; otherwise we may lose them to Satan and to this sinful world system.

 

So Jesus observed pride in the actions of the guests invited to the Pharisee’s dinner. The actions of the guests in seeking honored positions at the feast showed hearts lacking in humility.

 

 

The curse of pride

 

 

Pride according to Proverbs 6:16-19 is the most abominable sin in the eyes of God.  It was pride that caused Satan to fall from His glorious position in Heaven.  The story is told in Isaiah 14: and Ezekiel 28.

 

It was pride that Satan used to lure Adam and Eve into sin as recorded in Genesis 3.

 

It is pride alone that brings sinful division and destroys churches according to  Proverbs 13:10

 

God resists the proud, but gives grace, beauty and honor to the humble as is taught in I Peter 5:5-6.    

 

A meek and quiet spirit is the most beautiful trait in a woman according to I Peter 3:1-5.

 

 

Pride is so obvious.

 

 

Many sins can be hidden, but not pride.  It is obvious for all to see.

 

There is the proud look talked about in Proverbs 6:17.

 

There is the proud walk that calls attention to itself as described in Isaiah 3:16

 

There are the haughty words that dare anyone to shut them up.  “No one can tell me what I can or can’t say.” Psalm 12:1-4

 

There are the proud words that tend to stir up trouble.  Proverbs 28:25

 

There are the boasters who dare to shake their puny fists in the face of God.

Romans 1:30

 

There are the lovers of self from which all other sins proceed. II Timothy 3:1-4

 

In the story before us in Luke 14:7-11 we see  those who seek to exalt themselves  end up making fools of themselves.

 

 

Pride is most obnoxious.

 

 

Pride is the most obnoxious of sins. It keeps people from seeking after God. Psalm 10:4

God designed salvation from start to finish  to strike a deadly blow to our pride. No proud, self-righteous person will ever be in Heaven.  Only those who humble themselves before God and trust Christ who died and rose again  for our sins.

 

In Christ alone we can be proud.  In Galatians 6:14 Paul says, “But God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.”  A proud Christian is an ugly contradiction.

 

 

Pride is offensive.

 

 

Pride is offensive to God.  It attempts to steal the glory that belongs only to God Himself.

 

Pride is also offensive to people.  No one enjoys being around a proud, boastful person. It’s worse than having to sit beside someone with BO or halitosis.

 

 

The proud will fall and be humiliated.

 

 

Proverbs 16:18 warns, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

 

Miriam, Moses’ older sister dared to challenge him in his prophetic office and God touched her with leprosy until Moses graciously and humbly prayed for her healing.

 

King Nebuchadnezzar’s pride caused him to look and act like a donkey for a period of time.  Read the marvelous story of this king in Daniel 4. This proud king eventually turned in humility to God. Read his powerful testimony of God’s power.

 

King Belshazzar dared to mock God and was killed that night. Daniel 5

 

We read in Acts 12 of King Herod who accepted the worship of men and was eaten by worms.

 

 

So what did Jesus teach at the dinner table?

 

 

 

In Luke 14:12-14  Jesus taught the guests to not seek position and status and end up being embarrassed and ashamed.  

 

Don’t promote yourself, we are warned in Psalm 75:5-7 Promotion comes only from God.

 

Jesus is the perfect example of humility and Christians are to follow His example by serving others.   Read of it in Philippians 2.

 

Pride and self-love are deeply ingrained is each of us.  We are born with it.  The only way for us to rid ourselves of pride and self-love is to love the Lord Jesus with all our heart, soul and mind. It’s impossible to serve two masters.  We hate one and serve the other.  If we love Him with our whole heart, it will be impossible for us to love and promote ourselves. Matthew 6:24

 

Be prepared to be humbled under “the mighty hand of God.” That could be your spouse, your boss,  someone in your church or any associate or friend. I Peter 5:5-6

 

Jesus  taught us that it’s better for us to humble ourselves and let God exalt us than to exalt ourselves and have God humble us.  That’s the lesson of Luke 14:12-14.

 

One more thing.  Don’t be too concerned about trying to decide whether you are humble enough.  If you attempt to humble yourself, you will actually be proud about it.  The best thing to do is just love Jesus with all your heart, and there will be no room for self exaltation or pride.

September 1, 2008 Posted by | Pride and Humility | Comments Off on Pride and Humility