A,B, C’S

April 18, 2018

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6).

Grace + Law = Death. Grace – Law = Life!

“Covenant theology, which has molded the major theological conceptions for many generations, recognizes no distinctions as to ages, therefore can allow for no distinctions between law and grace. This dominating attitude of Covenantism must account for the utter neglect of life truth (growth) in all their works of theology.

No more representative theological dictum from the Covenant viewpoint has been formed than the Westminster Confession of Faith, which valuable and important document recognizes life truth only to the point of imposing the Ten Commandments on Christians as their sole obligation, and in spite of the teachings of the New Testament which asserts that the Law was never given to Gentile or Christian.

While freeing believers from the bondage of Rome, the Protestant Reformation brought them back, in large measure, under the bondage of Sinai. The Reformation took away one set of bindings, but bound the believers with another—and this has atrophied the spiritual life of multitudes.

Not a single cluster of living fruit ever was, or ever will be, culled from the tree of legality. Law can only produce ‘dead works,’ from which we need to have conscience purged just as much as from ‘wicked works.

So where are you, you ask? Simple. Does your church preach about the growth of a Christian, does it talk about maturity, or being in the spirit. Is there love abounding, abiding, ascending? How forgiving is your church? Do people talk about the church being their life line after a royal screw up and how the church stuck by them?

“Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free” (Gal. 5:1).

Grace, Growth, Life, Liberty. Jesus as Savior, the imminent return of Christ. A real heaven to gain and a hell to spurn. If any of this is missing from your church, you are in the wrong church.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Bob P, getting a little burned out from travel and some disappointing partners.

Pray for Clint, probably lives one of the healthiest lifestyles around and now is body is letting him down. Lot’s of anger issues.

Pray for Tim M. new job, new roles, pray for encouragement.

WHAT TIME IS IT?

April 16, 2018

  “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).

  Grace forsaken is freedom forfeited.

  In considering the whole testimony of the Bible, it is almost as important for the believer who would do the will of God to recognize that which does not concern him as it is for him to recognize that which does concern him.

You may have to read that sentence a couple of times for it to make sense, I rewrote it ten times and that’s the best, clearest way I could write it. (and I know Ms Kate, that’s not good grammar).

 

Apart from the knowledge of dispensational truth, the believer will not be intelligently adjusted to the present purpose and will of God in the world. Such knowledge alone will save him from assuming the hopeless legality of the dispensation that is past or from undertaking the impossible world transforming program belonging to the dispensation which is to come.

We are not living in the kingdom world yet, that dispensation has not occurred yet.

The Law of Moses is interrelated and wholly dependent on the sacrifices and ritual provided for Israel in the land. The laws of the kingdom (Sermon on the Mount) are only related to the future kingdom conditions which shall be in the earth under the power and presence of the King when Satan is bound, creation delivered, and all shall know the Lord from the least unto the greatest.

 All harmony of truth is shattered when there is the slightest commingling of the principles of law and grace. Grace alone now reigns through Christ to the glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  “By the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace, which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

WHO KNOWS?

April 14, 2018

Who deserves it, or does it even matter

I was talking to a seminary professor the other day and he told me that over Spring break he had taken a walking tour of Scotland to enjoy hiking and especially to visit some very old churches that have stood for hundreds of years.

At one of these churches it was Sunday and it was the last Sunday for this pastor who was retiring at 94 years of age and had spent 50 years as the pastor of this tiny church, hidden in rugged terrain that most people walked to.

He said the pastor’s sermon was a homiletic master piece, it was deep, moving and a gem. He wondered how the Lord could keep such a master of preaching hidden like a rare gem from the world and how blessed this congregation was to have been guided by such a great shepherd.

He said that as he flew back to America a question began to form in his mind over who would be the most blessed, the pastor of a small struggling flock, that rarely had money, never knew fame, no books, no tv shows, but a faithful pastor; or the mega pastor that touched millions and was there a difference in the eyes of God. Would the reward be different?

I asked him if had reached a conclusion and he said he had (with the foreknowledge that he was not God and this was just his humble opinion). He said that had; he believed that the faithful pastor to a small flock, faithful to the word and the work would receive a larger, better reward, because of the struggle and fight just to keep the doors open and no open earthly reward now.

Ok, it’s just one man’s opinion but I agree with him.

And the reason I’m bringing it up is I have a very good friend who after 32 years at the same church, highly educated, gifted as a speaker, and faithful to the word and the craft of preaching good honest sermons with no baloney or filler at all.

And this month he will receive no salary because the church can’t afford to pay him for an entire month. He doesn’t know that I know this and what I want from all of you is to pray for him, and that this Sunday a visitor will come to church and place more money in the offering plate than ever before, that someone takes him out to lunch and blesses him.

So please keep this servant of God in prayer that like the children of God in the wilderness that he and his family will be divinely kept, that rust, and moth and corruption will not find root in any part of his life, that the car won’t break down, and no one will get sick and things will just work out; and if just one new face could show up on Sunday.

Because he has been faithful to God, and to the word.

This ain’t a chain letter so if you don’t pray nothing bad will happen to you (ha)

God bless and peace out.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

DEAD MAN WALKING

April 11, 2018

  “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin” (Rom. 6:11a).

  All of the cults, from TM to ST to SDA, to Joel Osteen, to hypnosis, are simply self-improvement aberrations. The Cross alone provides death to self and life in the Lord Jesus Christ. “God forbid that I should glory, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

 What becomes us now is to have the Lord Jesus before us, and not the correction of the old man. The snare of trying to improve oneself is very common, and it is important to see, that however well-meaning it may be, it is really a denial that our old man has been crucified, and a revival of that which has been judged in the death of the Cross.

 It is plain that if you are clear of the domination of the old man you can have no man before you but the Lord Jesus, and the more sensible you are of how ready the flesh is to intrude.

  God never means me to be able, with the Pharisee, to thank Him for the goodness that I find in myself. If I will be at it, He leaves me to find in this irreparable flesh, which cannot be mended, what I may break my heart over, but never alter.

 It is a quicksand which spoils all my building—a morass impracticable to cultivation; and God uses this, in His sovereignty over evil, to wean me from self-confidence and self-complacency, and self-improvement and to cast me upon Himself.

  “Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be. . . alive unto God through Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Rom. 6:11b).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Lauren, so far her commitment to celibacy has been strong and much has improved in her life.

Pray for students on college campuses that are being expelled, harassed and silenced, to their commitment to Christ and a conservative agenda.

Pray for sanity for our Country, that the insanity of diversity and inclusiveness is outed for the lie it represents.

Pray for Courtney, married, 2 kids, late 30’s, she has been walking on the edge of her marriage vows, a flirt, a tease, up to now she’s never crossed the line. But last night only a chanced friend (the Lord) crossed her path and in embarrassment, she bailed on stepping out.

 

Our last post of the Jesus Narrative Series, God Bless for being so patient with this long, very long series, individually and collectively.

Everyone wants our money. Letters come from every charity, political and religious organization, pleading for our money to continue their work. We give to some, we feel guilty about not giving to others, and some letters we just throw away without a second thought. Our motives for giving are mixed. We think about whether or not we can take a tax deduction. We respond to emotional appeals that are prepared by professional fund raisers and often ignore the smaller, more effective works that do not make such a big splash but really need us more. Extracting our money from us is a big time business.

So it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back when you come to church and the sermon or the lesson is about giving. Should not the church be more spiritual than to ask us to give money?

Interestingly, the Bible has a great deal to say about money. For instance, one verse out of seven in the book of Luke is about money. Money is God’s greatest rival for our worship. That is why Jesus said, Luke 16:13. “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Paul gave a serious warning when he wrote to Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:6-10

We all know people who have wandered from the faith and brought upon themselves many sorrows because acquisition of money became their god. Maybe it is something you are struggling with even now. The first impressive church discipline recorded in Acts 5 involved money. Ananias and Sapphira both died because they pretended to give more than they did. Since money represents so much danger to our lives the Scripture also tells us how to be free from bondage to it.

The solution: Honor God with your money and trust Him to meet your needs.

It was the middle of the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, just before Passover. He had entered Jerusalem on the back of a colt the previous Sunday to the tumultuous welcome of the common people. He went to the temple daily to teach and had engaged almost immediately in constant confrontations from all the different factions who hated and feared HimCthe Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, priests and teachers of the law. They tried again and again to trap Him into taking positions which would either alienate Him from the people or get Him in trouble with the Romans. Each time He skillfully evaded their traps and revealed their ignorance of God’s Word and God’s ways.

After one such exchange He warned the people:

Mark 12:38-40

These teachers and preachers loved the honor and privileges they received because of their position. They did not get paid a regular salary for their work, but were supposed to be supported by tithes and offerings brought to the temple. Jesus accused them of exploiting widows, pressuring the very people they should have protected, women with the most limited means, to give them their property. He accused them of just making a show of spirituality by long prayers, but they were really con men. They loved money and were unscrupulous in getting it. These religious leaders today who preach a prosperity theology which they prove by living in multi-million dollar houses are not just at 21th century phenomena. Notice also that He said they would be severely punished.

When He finished speaking He sat down on a bench opposite the temple treasury. In the women’s court of the temple enclosure, the only place where women could come, there were 13 trumpet shaped receptacles for people to drop their offerings.

Mark 12:41

Picture the scene. The city was crowded for the Passover celebration. People came from all over to give their tithes and offerings to the Lord. Many rich people threw in large amounts. Can you not hear the sound of their coins clanging against the receptacles? Not only that but Matt 6:2 tells us that some wealthy people even had a trumpet fanfare announce their offering. Unnoticed among these proud and prominent men was a little widow.

Mark 12:42

She quietly slipped in and put her two tiny coins in the treasury. They hardly made a sound. They were only worth 1/3 of a cent, 1/64th of a day’s wage. This humble widow, poorly dressed, sorry that she could give no more, gave her tiny gift and slipped away hoping that she had not been noticed. But she was!

Mark 12:43-44

Jesus saw her and was so impressed by her offering that he called his disciples to him to use her as an object lesson for the kind of giving that pleases God. He said, “She gave more than all the others.”

God has an altogether different way of judging the value of our gifts. We look at the actual amount and are impressed or not impressed by it.

GOD MEASURES OUR GIFT BY WHAT WE HAVE LEFT FOR OURSELVES.

It is not a sacrifice to give 1 million dollars when you have 100 million left. It is not a sacrifice to give $1000 when you are earning $100,000 a year. But it is a total sacrifice to empty your purse into the collection plate when there is nothing in the bank. That is what this widow did. Was not it a little unrealistic for her to do that? After all, does not God expect us to use our common sense?

What was she really saying when she gave all she had to live on? She was demonstrating her faith in God to supply her needs. She loved the Lord and was grateful to Him. She was not embittered by self-pity, she was not expecting any handouts. She was simply entrusting herself to God. He was her Husband, her Provider, her Security. (Is. 54:5.)

She was a living example of Matt. 6:31-34

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father KNOWS THAT YOU NEED THEM. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

By her giving she acknowledged God as the Source of all she needed, that He knew her needs and she was willing to trust Him to provide one day at a time. That is really great faith.

No wonder Jesus commended her. Talk is cheap. Actions are costly. God did not need her money, but she needed to give. Do you honestly think that God was going to let her down after such an expression of faith? I am sure there was bread on her table that day.

1000 years earlier King David had the same perspective about wealth. He gave his personal fortune to buy the materials for Solomon to build a temple for the Lord that David would never see. His example stimulated the generosity of this people and they had a great day of dedication of the gifts for the temple.

1 Chronicles 29:10-16

God is the One who gives us what we have in the first place. It all belongs to Him. When we give to Him we honor Him by acknowledging that He is the Source of all our blessings.

GOD DOES NOT NEED OUR MONEY. WE NEED TO GIVE AS PART OF WORSHIP.

While the whole Bible has much to say about money and giving there are 2 chapters that especially concentrate on the subject and give us some important principles to govern our attitude about money.

The Corinthian Christians had a lot of problems. Some of them were that they were impulsive, changeable and fickle. The previous year they had committed themselves to giving to support the ministry of the Gospel and sharing with the needy and they had started with enthusiasm. But they had not continued and Paul speaks very frankly to them.

He used 3 examples of sacrificial giving to admonish and encourage the Corinthians.

Three examples of sacrificial giving

1.THE MACEDONIAN CHRISTIANS

2 CORINTHIANS 8:1-3

If any people had excuses not to give, they did. They were suffering many hardships. Some had lost their means of earning a living because they were Christians. Some had been rejected by their families. They were in extreme poverty. But they were so joyful in their faith that they gave more than they were able to give. In fact they pleaded to give. No one had to urge them to sign pledges or faith/promise card.

Why were they so generous? They had first given themselves to the Lord. When we give ourselves, it includes our pocketbooks. Paul then says, “Follow their example, finish what you started.” Giving is a grace. God will enable you to give.

  1. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

2 CORINTHIANS 8:9

What a paradox. Jesus left the riches of heaven to become a human being. To live on earth in a humble carpenter’s home. To earn His living with His own hands. He was a poor man. He never owned any property. Then He suffered the humiliation of a criminal’s death for us. But he rose victoriously from the dead. When we put our faith in Him we become heirs of God, all the riches of heaven is promised us in the future and the rich blessings of a right relationship with God is ours now. Jesus gave Himself for us so that we, who were poor, might be rich.

2 CORINTHIANS 8:11-12

Notice how God evaluates our gifts. By our eager willingness and according to our means. Our giving must be voluntary. Notice that God never asks us to give what we do not have, but from what we do have. That is why it is so good to have a percentage as a guide. When you have a little, you give accordingly, when you have a lot, you give accordingly. The O.T. had the tithe, 10% as a guide. But there were 3 tithes taken. (2 yearly and 1 every 3rd year)

Dr. Charles Ryrie estimates that the tithes actually came to about 22%. And beyond that they gave freewill offerings. Whatever amount you decide on, giving a percentage of your income is a good start. Then as you get used to the blessings that come from giving you can increase your percentage. You see giving is not a one-way street. You do all the giving and someone else gets all the benefits. Giving blesses the giver. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Giving is a good measure of your spiritual maturity. Giving is not an option; it is a command. Your love for the Lord is measured by obedience. Generous giving pays wonderful returns.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:6

Action Steps: First, the law of sowing and reaping applies to your giving. If you plant a just a few seeds you get a little crop. If you plant a lot of seed you get a large crop. If you invest generously in God’s program, the returns will be far beyond your imagination. People will be saved in countries you will never go to because you supported a missionary, a radio program, a literature campaign. These people will meet you in heaven and thank you for helping to make it possible for them to be there, too. That is what Jesus meant when He said,

Luke 16:9 (NIV) I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:7

Attitude: The decision about how much to give is yours to make. Just be sure that you are not giving because someone is pressuring you, but because you are willing. God loves a cheerful giver, a hilarious giver. And God knows exactly the attitudes and motives for our giving.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:8-11

Ability: Do you see what this is saying? God will continue to supply all that you need personally, so that you can continue to give generously on every occasion. He is really saying,

“Put my interests first and I will take care of yours. Trust me with your material needs. I will give you the ability to give abundantly.” Two ways to meet our needs: get more money or spend less.

Accomplishments: What does this kind of giving accomplish here and now?

2 CORINTHIANS 9:12-15

Your giving is a ministry, a service to God. (Priestly service, diakonia, liturgeia) Credited to you. Your giving will supply the needs of God’s people. They will praise and thank God for your ministry.

Your giving is proof of your obedience and a good testimony to others.

People will pray for you and care for you because you have cared for them in your giving.

  1. GOD THE FATHER

2 CORINTHIANS 9:15

He gave His Son for us. Anything we give is in gratitude for this gift which is beyond description.

That leads to the question, where should we give?

How should we distribute the Lord’s money?

Your local church should have priority in your giving. The salaries, building maintenance, and materials all cost money and you are the beneficiaries. The folks at the Christian Science Church are not going to give to this church.

Family members in need.

Give to those in need in your own family, e.g. aged parents.

Ministries that personally bless you.

Missions.

Diversify: foreign, home, children, education, evangelism, church planting, etc.

The poor.

First in God’s family, Gal. 6:10. Then to others. We are responsible to care for needy believers. Samaritan’s Purse, Voices of the Martyrs, etc.

Charities

Those who are fighting battles for morality in the public square.

Give purposefully, intelligently and obediently as God lays it on your heart to give. But give.

2 Cor. 9:11 says that God will supply abundantly so that we can be generous on every occasion.

If you are having financial problems, the solution may not be to get more, but to give more.

Giving to the Lord from what He has given you will break the stranglehold that money and things have on our lives. It is a great step of faith, but God can handle it. He has not broken a promise yet. Are you willing to be obedient to Him in this important area? I am sure Jim Elliot’s famous statement included our money as well as our lives.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jesus used this poor widow’s act of devotion and faith to teach us many things about our money and our God.

What does Jesus reveal about God, our heavenly Father?

Our Father is the Source of all we have. It belongs to Him.

Our Father does not measure the worth of our gifts by their size, but by what we have left.

Our Father looks at the heart, our motive for giving. He does not reward ostentatious generosity for purpose of impressing people.

Our Father does not expect us to give what we do not have. We are to give from what we have and everyone has something. No gift is too small.

Our Father will not compel us to give, just as He will not compel us to love Him. Giving is a personal matter.

Our Father wants us to give voluntarily and generously with faith that God will supply our needs and enable us to keep on giving. Not acceptable if reluctant.

Our Father will give generously to us so we can continue to give generously.

Our Father gives eternal returns on our investments. We will leave all our bank accounts, investments and real estate here when we die. But we will be welcomed in heaven by those we have reached through our giving. These are eternal returns.

Our Father uses our giving as a testimony to cause others to thank and praise God, and to pray for us.

Our Father Himself is the most generous Giver.

If giving to the Lord has been a problem for you, confess it as selfishness, unbelief, or greed. Then tell the Lord you want to believe Him for this area which has such a stranglehold on our affections. You want to be free from bondage to money. Then decide what percentage you will faithfully give. Do it and see how God will bless you.

When we started this series I said we would emphasize what the Lord Jesus would reveal about our invisible Father in heaven. We have seen Him to be our omniscient, omnipotent Creator, a Father who is compassionate, loving, strong, generous, welcoming, interested in every detail of our lives. He initiates a relationship with sinners and makes them His children by faith. He delivers us from sin. He is patient with ignorance and hates arrogance and hypocrisy. He gives us forgiveness, peace, and joy. He sent Jesus so we could be with Him forever in heaven. Let me remind you of what J.I. Packer said.

“You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of the New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. Father’ is the Christian name for God.”

God bless, as this concludes the series we’ve called the Jesus Narrative.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

To all the patient readers, doing this short series on “The Jesus Narrative” has been a personal blessing and for those that have ‘waded’ through, thank you, Sunday will be the last part of the narrative and we will return to a shorter format. In this hurry up world it has been hard to find the time to post these and for those that have kept steady I hope this has been a light for you on the precious Son of God.

The Bible has hundreds of references to light and darkness. God’s first recorded words were Let there be light. God is Light. Satan is the prince of darkness. Sin is hidden by darkness and exposed by light. We were born in darkness and born again into light. The contrasts are sharp, unmixed, with no shadows. Light is good, darkness is evil. We must have light to live. Today’s lesson is about two kinds of darkness—physical and spiritual. Of the two the worst is spiritual darkness.

Jesus and His disciples had just celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles which celebrated their years in the wilderness. One of the features of this celebration was the lighting of giant lamps in the women’s court of the temple enclosure. The people sang and danced before the Lord as they remembered that He was their Light in the pillar of cloud and fire all through their wilderness wanderings. During this celebration Jesus had declared the second of His great “I AM” statements.

John 8:12 (NIV) I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

There can be no physical life without the light of the sun, and no spiritual life without JESUS.

This was a claim to be both God and Messiah. The O.T. called both God and Messiah Light. He promised light for all of life to those who believed in Him. But instead of seriously considering Jesus’ claim, the Pharisees challenged and argued with Him for the rest of the Chapter. They were determined to not believe regardless of the evidence.

Their discussion ended with an attempt to stone Him. But Jesus slipped away from them and as He and His disciples went along they saw a blind man sitting there by the side of the road. Blindness is one of the most dreaded afflictions that can happen to a person. And this man had been born blind. He had never seen his parent’s faces, never seen a flower or tree, a river or mountain. Never seen any colors at all. He lived in constant unrelieved darkness. The only thing he could do was beg for a living.

Notice the difference in the way Jesus and His disciples viewed this man.

John 9:2

To the disciples this man was just the trigger for a theological discussion. There was no compassion, no expectation or even a request that Jesus heal him. Jesus had healed blind people before. One of the signs of the Messiah was that He would make the blind see. (Is. 35:5, 42:7) but all they could think of was a question with just two alternatives!

“Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (NIV)

There was a popular assumption that some sin before birth was responsible for congenital blindness. This idea came from pagan sources which believed in reincarnation. This man had sinned in another life. Their other suggestion was that this man had reaped the consequences of his parents’ sins. This of course is possible. (Venereal disease, drugs)

We can see from this that the idea that all sickness or affliction is the result of personal sin is not a new idea. We often believe or hear the same thing today. Jesus gave them an answer that can help us today in trying to sort out the reasons for the trials we may be going through.

John 9:3

Jesus did not mean that this man and his parents were sinless, but that the blindness was not a direct consequence of their personal sin. Really said, “This man is blind so that I might come and cure him and God might receive the glory.”

That is pretty heavy stuff. Think of all the years he had suffered in the darkness. For this moment!

Time does not mean to God what it does to us. If you and I could look at the suffering we are going through and say, ALord, you know all about this. You can change this situation immediately if you want to. But if not, all I ask is that my response and the outcome will bring glory to you. Let other people know that it is only Jesus who enables me to endure this day by day. What a difference that would make.

John 9:4-5

Day meant the time He had left on earth to finish the work God sent Him to do. Night was coming. His death and the time He would no longer be in the world. Now was the time for Him to do the miracles that proved He was the Messiah. He had said He was the Light of the world and now He would prove it.

John 9:6-7

Imagine the blind man. He did not know who Jesus was, had never seen him or heard his voice before. Suddenly he felt some wet heavy clay being placed over his eyes. And an authoritative but kind voice said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”

The pool was a good distance away. Jesus did not even tell him why He was sending him there, gave no promise of healing. Would he do it? The man got up and groped his way there with his eyes covered with mud. When he reached the pool he bent down and splashed water on his face. When he opened his eyes he could see for the first time in his lifeClight, color, beauty and human faces. Can you not see him running home, shouting for joy! But notice the reaction of his neighbors.

John 9:8-12

First they questioned his identity and he had to insist that he really was the blind beggar. Then they were just interested in the mechanics of his healing. There was no sharing his joy in being healed, just one question after another. But all he knew was that a man called Jesus had given him his sight. So they brought him to the Pharisees for further questioning.

John 9:14-16

Talk about missing the point! The only thing some of these Pharisees focused on was that Jesus had violated their Sabbath rules. They had added hundreds of restrictions defining work on the Sabbath. Making clay was forbidden. And healing someone was also forbidden unless their condition was life threatening. But they argued among themselves because some of the others had sense enough to reason that miracles like this could only be from God.

John 9:17

Even though this man was illiterate, he knew something about the Scriptures and he could think for himself. The Old Testament prophets performed miracles, so this man must be a prophet. This made sense to him. Notice the fact that he had not even seen Jesus yet, but his perception of him was gradually increasing. But the Pharisees were relentless in pursuing their investigation.

“Maybe we are dealing with a fraudulent healing here. Let us find out from the man’s parents if this really is their blind son, and no one else has been substituted for him.”

John 9:18-23

Notice the parent’s cautious answer. They knew only three things. Their son had been born blind, he now could see, and he was of age to speak for himself. They really did not know how he had been healed and they did not want to be excommunicated from the synagogue. They knew that was the predetermined penalty for believing that Jesus was the Messiah. This was a kangaroo court. Who would have ever thought that being healed from congenital blindness could cause so much trouble?

John 9:24-25

Put him under oath to tell the truth. “We know this man is a sinner.” (NIV)

But he was not going to be drawn into their argument. He knew one thing, “I was blind, but now I see.” He stuck to his guns. No one could obliterate the evidence or nullify his experience. All the theological discussions in the world could not erase the reality of what had happened to him. There is no argument that can win against a personal experience. That is why we must always share what Jesus Christ has done for us personally with others–not just give cold facts.

John 9:26-27

Now they provoked him to the point that he lost his fear of them and became sarcastic. This illiterate beggar had the nerve to challenge them, the strict keepers of the law, and actually imply that they would want to be Jesus’ disciples!

John 9:28-33

They were the authorities, unused to having their word questioned and here this ignorant nobody dared to stand up against their decision. But the former blind man’s logic was wonderful.

  1. Even they knew that God did not listen to sinners but to the godly.

  1. But no one had ever given sight to a man born blind.

No record in Old Testament of miracle like this.

  1. Therefore this man must be from God.

And you smart people cannot figure that out!

Nobody was going to tell him that this miracle was not from God. He did not care what these influential men with all of their degrees had decided. He was the one who had been blind and now he could see.

Sometimes we have to stand alone against rigid positions people take because of the way they interpret the Bible. We must stand firmly that the only way to God is through faith in Jesus Christ.

I remember when I was about 12 and my mother, sister and I moved to a new apartment. We had a landlady who believed you must worship on Saturday. One day after her efforts to convince us seemed to be getting nowhere, she told me, “You will never go to heaven unless you worship on Saturday.” But I knew she was not right. My mother had shown my sister and me the truth from the Bible and I was able to stand in the truth without doubting.

We must not believe that because something is legal that it is moral (abortion).

We have to help our children in school to realize that they do not have to believe in evolution, just because some scientists with a lot of degrees say that it is the way life came into being. The Bible says God created the world and everything in it.

The Bible says sex before or outside of marriage is wrong even if everyone else says it is OK. Teach them to stand for truth while young.

The Pharisees’ dishonesty, pride and hostility to Jesus were revealed by their response.

John 9:34

How could a person be “steeped in sin” at birth? These experts were sure that his blindness was for personal sin even before he was born. How dare he lecture the righteous! So they excommunicated him. He was cut off from fellowship with the community of his people. This was really serious!

Can you not see him as he started back home. He was mystified, angry and probably a little glum. The day had started with him in his usual place, blind and begging. Now he was penalized because he could see. He was alone. Even his parents had been wishy-washy instead of sharing his joy. Just did not make sense.

This should not surprise us. When we take a firm stand for Jesus Christ the results are not always trouble-free for us. You may not be given a promotion at work. You may be rejected by members of your family. You may lose some old friends. Your children may not be invited to some parties. You may have your good name slandered. Jesus warned that these things would happen.

Matthew 5:11-12

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (NIV)

This man had received his physical sight instantly, and his spiritual sight was increasing gradually. He first called Jesus, “a man they call Jesus,A prophet, then a man from God, but He still did not know Him.

Now Jesus took the initiative again to bring him full spiritual sight. For the first time He actually saw Jesus.

John 9:35-38

Son of Man was a title for Messiah to the Jews. Daniel the prophet saw all men and nations worship Him. (Dan. 7:13-14) Jesus asked this man, “Do you personally believe in the Son of Man?”

His response was so open. “Tell me who He is so that I may believe.”

Jesus completely revealed His identity. “You have now seen Him; in fact, He is the one speaking with you.”

“Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him.

He now had both physical and spiritual sight. He had responded to light and was given more light until he could fully see. Rejected by religious leaders. Welcomed by Jesus.

John 9:39-41

This confrontation is explained by

John 3:16-21

What a great illustration this incident was. The blind man received his physical sight through the touch of Jesus. When he received further light he believed on the Lord Jesus as his Messiah and his spiritual eyes were also opened.

The Pharisees, on the other hand, claimed to have spiritual sight, but they rejected Jesus, the Light of the world, as their Messiah, so they were spiritually blind. They condemned themselves and remained in darkness.

God is very patient with ignorance. He gives further light. But He will not tolerate arrogance. They remained guilty before God because they claimed to have light while still in darkness. They claimed to be righteous when they were sinners. They rejected the true Light of the world.

Have you ever noticed how many false religions and self-development courses claim to have light? Light from the eastern religions, light from the mystics, light from within, light from the energy of the universe and on and on. This is because “Satan masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Cor. 11:14)

How many followers would he get at the start if he really exposed himself as the prince of darkness? Do not fall for any of these seductive appeals. Light from any source other than Jesus Christ is darkness. He is the True Light that gives light to every man 1:9.

John 9:5

But He is not physically in the world now. Who is the light of the world now?

Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Do you see the responsibility that the Lord has placed on you and me? In our daily lives, at home, at work, at leisure, at hobbies, at church, whatever we do—we are to be light bearers. Christ’s light should shine through our words, attitudes, and actions. There is a distinguishable difference between light and darkness. Have you ever noticed how a very small light can overcome a very great darkness? You do not have to be a famous person reaching thousands to be light to the world. You have an area of influence, a place where others are in darkness, where you can shine as light. That is why we must have this as our goal.

John tells us something more in his first epistle.

1 John 1:5-7

In the days when light was given by oil lamps, the wicks had to be trimmed and the glass kept clean for the light to shine clearly. The same is true of us. What part of your life, your thought, attitudes, actions are in darkness? In God there is no darkness at all. When we hang on to favorite sins, we do not have fellowship with God or with other believers. We may say we do, but we are lying. Our light is not shining brightly. Our Father wants us to be in warm, close fellowship and He has provided for our cleansing from these sins that hurt us. The blood of Jesus Christ keeps on cleansing us from all sin. The Pharisees remained in darkness because they would not confess their blindness, their sin. Let us not let that happen to us.

Is there a particular sin that God has convicted you about? Will you confess and let Him cleanse you? Then as you carefully follow the Lord, you will see the impact you can have on others as His light shines through you to overcome the darkness of the world around you.

What does Jesus reveal about our heavenly Father in this story?

Our Father is omnipotent.

Our Father notices and cares for each individual.

Our Father has a purpose for our lives, even through suffering, that will bring Him glory.

Our Father takes the initiative to give us both physical and spiritual light.

Our Father can act in our behalf without a requestCthat He knows our needs.

Our Father is not limited by wrong human perceptions or bound by man-made rules about what He can or cannot do.

Our Father is patient with ignorance and intolerant of arrogance.

Jesus revealed that those who do not respond to His light condemn themselves to greater darkness.

Have you responded in faith to the Son of God as the only one who can guide you into the light you need for time and eternity?

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Workers United

April 6, 2018

I’ve lost count how many times this has been my sermon text, I know at least over 100 times in 45 years of preaching.

So, 101 here we go.

  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:10).

  The Holy Spirit creates within us a hatred for the old nature, and a hunger for the new nature. Without a rejection of the old, there cannot be a projection of the new.

  “I want a testimony that delivers me from the things I am occupied about in myself when I am suffering from them. I get it from God’s gift that is perfect. I am ‘accepted in the Beloved’ (Eph. 1:6). You say, There is something about myself I cannot get over. Remember, the testimony of the Spirit in us is the contrary of the testimony of the Spirit to us. In me, He takes notice of every fault that is not righteousness; but the testimony to us is, ‘Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more’ (Heb. 8:12).”

  “If we make morality our standard, we will be sure to fall below what we purpose. Whatever we put before us as our criterion, there will be always a falling short. If we have the Lord Jesus Christ risen and in heaven as our Object, we shall prove the power of His resurrection, not only in lifting us up when we are conscious of our exceeding short-comings, but in strengthening us to ‘press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 3:14).”

  “The Word of God teaches me union, but the Person of Christ brings out all that I derive from union with Him. The Word is always my authority for my position, but acquaintance with the Person confirms and manifests my position.”

  “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord” (Eph 6:10)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Hank, a 6 year German Shepherd, who’s been abandoned and needs a good farm home.

Pray for Sarah S. second year of marriage, they’re both having employment problems in the Christian market (ministry) turns out it’s harder than they thought.

Pray for Jennifer, needs strengthening of body and soul and spirit.

Pray for Ronnie, 66 years old and is a day laborer, plumber and A/c and he’s still doing the grunt work.

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The Jesus Narrative (part four)

Ok, I know these are long, but if I did them it parts it loses some rhythm and style. Just bear with me this week.

How do you classify people? Do you think of some people as more “worthy” of hearing the Gospel? Are there some people you think are such terrible sinners that they are sort of hopeless cases? Sometimes, when you read the paper about a person that has committed a terrible crime, do you almost hope that he never has a chance to be forgiven, because he really deserves to suffer eternal punishment? We human beings have such a different way of looking at each other than God does. I think that there is a little of the attitude the Pharisee in our story displayed in all of us, if we are honest.

Jesus was becoming very popular. And why not? When had there ever been anyone like Him? He healed every kind of disease, He cast out demons, he made the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear and the dead live again. But as His popularity increased, so did the opposition against Him. The Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes or Teachers of the Law had for many years been in the driver’s seat. They were the arbiters of what was right and wrong. They considered the common people ignorant rabble. They were very particular about whom they associated with and judged others the same way.

The Pharisees were a strict religious sect that was based on separation. In fact, that is the meaning of their name, to separate. There were about 6000 of them spread throughout the country. They were teachers in the synagogues and appointed themselves guardians of the proper observance of the law. They added hundreds of rules to interpret the Mosaic Law in order to attain a legal righteousness. They had great influence and even the Roman rulers did not want to antagonize them. The major distinction of the Pharisees was that they gave equal authority to the oral lawCall the additions to the Mosaic LawCas they gave to the Scriptures. They considered their tradition as binding as God’s Word, and many times it directly contradicted God’s Word. We have similar things today. We must always make a distinction between what God’s Word says and the way it is interpreted and applied by men. That is why it is so important to check what anyone tells you with the Scripture.

For instance, the Pharisees despised sinners. And they felt that they reflected accurately God’s attitude towards sinners. By “sinners”, of course, they meant tax collectors, prostitutes, thieves and murderers. They considered themselves righteous because they obeyed the hundreds of rules they had made. They actually taught that there is joy before God “when those who provoke him perish from the world.” In their thinking, God hated sinners and withdrew Himself from the. Since Christ welcomed sinners and even ate with them the Pharisees generally concluded He could not be from God.

Luke 5:29-32

This is just one place where we hear their complaint. Of course, Jesus did not mean that there was anyone so righteous that they did not need His salvation. But only a person who admits that he is a sinner is open to the Gospel. The last thing a Pharisee thought himself to be was a sinner.

Luke 7:29-30

They had not repented when John the Baptist preached and consequently rejected God’s purpose for themselves. Jesus exposed their closed minds and contradictory standards by His comments in

Luke 7:33-34

Purpose: Not Faith, But Judgment

Keep this in mind as we read about their invitation to dinner from a Pharisee named Simon.

Luke 7:36

Why did Simon invite Him? Was it because he believed in him? Was it because he sincerely wanted to observe Him and check Him out? Or was it because he had already made up his mind and wanted to get more evidence to support his presupposition?

In those days, people did not sit around the table in chairs as we do. They reclined on couches with their heads near the table and their fee extending away from it. It was permissible in that day for uninvited guests to come and listen when an important person was a guest in someone’s home. The needy could also come to receive some of the leftovers. In that town was a woman, a sinful woman, most likely a prostitute. She must have heard Jesus speak on previous occasions. Maybe she even witnessed some of His miracles. In any event, she had believed in Him. When she heard that He was right there in town at Simon’s house, she wanted to show her love and gratitude and did the only thing she knew how to do.

Luke 7:37-38

Can you not imagine the scene? Jesus is eating and conversing at the table. Suddenly he feels something on His feet. There is a woman, weeping. Her tears are falling on his feet. She came to anoint Him with an expensive perfume, but before she could even open the jar, she is overwhelmed with emotion. These are tears that expressed repentance and gratitude. Then she stoops and in an act of deepest intimacy and humility, she kneels, takes her unbound hair and wipes his fee. Then she kisses His feet over and over and pours perfume on them. Jesus, who knew her heart and her motives, calmly stays as he is and lets her express in her own way her love for Him. He is not embarrassed nor uncomfortable. He is not annoyed by a crying woman. He accepts us as we are. He knows our motives. He accepts our worship. He knows just what each of us is offering in sacrifice to Him. This woman came with an expensive perfume and poured it all out on Him. The fragrance of her devotion filled the room. No one could miss what was happening.

Can you not see Simon, the host? He is observing the scene wit icy disapproval. What is this notorious woman doing in HIS house? And why has Jesus let her do this to Him? Does not he know what kind of woman she is?

(You’ll have to google this, there is a woman who wrote a book called; “The Bad Girls of the Bible.” You can get the book or the DVD. I recommend the DVD. When you hear this story told it will make you weep, if you don’t you need a spiritual heart check up).

Back to our narrative.

Luke 7:39

You see, this just gave him the evidence he needed to support his foregone conclusion. His reasoning was that if Jesus were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman was anointing His feet. If He knew what she was He would not let her do it. Since He did let her do it He was no true prophet. This of course was based on his presupposition that God HATES sinners and will not accept them. He did not have to say anything. Jesus knew what he was thinking and spoke to him.

Luke 7:40-43

Such a simple story. Two debtors. One owed about $50,000 and one owed $5000 by today’s standards. But neither could pay their debt. Instead of throwing them into prison, or making them work as slaves to pay it off, the creditor just canceled the debts. Both of the debtors were now free of obligation and could go on with their lives. But Jesus’ question was not dealing with the law, but with the heart. Who would love the most? Simon reluctantly gave the obvious answer. Now Jesus makes a very relevant application.

Luke 7:44-47

Simon’s polite reception of Jesus into his home had had no warmth of real welcome. His deficiencies as a host showed what he really though of Jesus. Simon did not consider himself a sinner, therefore he had no need of forgiveness and consequently felt no love for Jesus. But what sins does he display in jus this episode?

Pride, hypocrisy, harsh, judgmental attitude, self-righteousness, coldness, lack of generosity as a host, lack of compassion and unbelief in Jesus Christ. These are just the sins we see demonstrated HERE! Jesus in no way implied that Simon’s sins were little, but that Simon did not consider himself in need of forgiveness because he did not believe he was a sinner.

Simon did what you and I usually do. We compare ourselves with other people whose sins are blatant and offensive: the prostitute, the homosexual, the thief, the rapist, the murderer, the pornographer, the drug dealer and of course we come out looking very good. But that is because we are comparing on a horizontal basis.

If we are walking down Main Street, we would see people who are shorter or taller, thinner or heavier, younger or older than we are. But if we went to the top of one of those new buildings and looked down, everyone would look like bugs about the same size.

When God looks down from heaven, he knows that we are ALL sinners. That is why He says:

Romans 3:10-12, 22b-23

There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no on who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one… There is no difference, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (NIV)

We are sinners by nature. The ways we choose to express that nature differ. But that gives us no reason to assume that we have a better chance with God because we are not as bad as other people. In fact, it is often harder for the moral unbeliever to admit that he is a sinner and must come to God the same way as the worst sinner in the world.

Jesus freely acknowledged that her sins were many. And they were ALL forgiven. Why were the forgiven? Because she loved Jesus? No, her love was the RESULT of being forgiven, not the BASIS for forgiveness.

Luke 7:48-50

Then Jesus said to her, Your sins are forgiven. (NIV)

Your immorality, your greed, your impurity, your infidelity, your breaking of all the laws of God are ALL forgiven. Can you not see the other guest turning to each other and saying, “Who is this that even forgives sins?” They knew that God alone could forgive sins. Luke 5:21. But they refused to acknowledge that Jesus was God in spite of all the miraculous evidence they had seen.

Why was this woman forgiven?

Your faith has saved you. Go in peace. (NIV)

It is faith alone that saves. Faith in who Jesus Christ is God. And faith in what He has done died in our place on the cross and rose again.

She believed in the Lord Jesus and she was forgiven and saved from a sordid life which had no escape hatch. He could say, “Go in peace,” because He not only forgave her many sins, but gave her a clear conscience as well.

Hebrews 9:14

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished dot God cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (NIV)

I think many of us carry the guilt of past sins which God has forgiven because of our faith in Jesus Christ. This guilt eats away at our sense of worth and keeps us from serving God freely. Let us see what God does when we put our faith in Christ, our Substitute, the Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY the sin of the world.

OUT OF SIGHT, Is. 38:17.

OUT OF MIND, Jer. 31:34, Heb. 8:12

OUT OF REACH, Mic. 7:19; Ps. 103:12

OUT OF EXISTENCE, Ps. 51:1, 2; Is. 43:25; 44:22

This is what happens to your past sins when you trust Christ. If you have never done this, I invite you to trust Him as your Savior today. He is God’s gift. The only way o get a gift is to reach out and take it. That is FAITH.

But how about the sins we BELIEVERS commit each day? Impatience, bad temper, selfishness, self-pity, disobedience, bitterness, malice, criticism, promotion disunity, gossip, greed, materialism, bad use of money, impurity or immorality in thought or deed. How about the person you just cannot forgive? Do you think that a true Christian does not commit sins like these?

1 John 1:7-10

God has provided a way for us to continue to have close fellowship with Him. Our relationship is not broken when we sin; we still are His children. But we do not feel close. We do not feel like reading our Bible or praying. Even coming to church gets to be a drag. God wants fellowship with Him restored because he loves us.

“Confess” means to agree with God that what you have done is sin. As long as we keep calling “sins” mistakes and sicknesses; as long as we keep blaming everything on our background, on what someone else has done to us, we will never take responsibility for our own action s and responses. That is why God requires that we agree with Him that our PROBLEM is sin.

You see, He can forgive sin because the penalty is paid. That is why He is JUST. And He WILL forgive because He has promised to. That is why He is faithful.

But even when we confess, we often do not FEEL forgiven, do we? That is why I believe we ought to always tell the Lord.

“With an act of my will I accept your forgiveness. Now you have to handle my emotions.”

Do you have something you cannot seem to forgive yourself for? Does a little voice inside say to you, “If people ever knew what I did!” Or “How could I ever have done that?”

Satan is called the “accuser of believers.” He is the one who wants you to be crippled by guilt, not Jesus. Jesus shed His blood to give you a clear conscience so that you may “go in peace,” just as He told this woman to. Tell the Lord you accept His forgiveness and you will never bring that past sin up to Him again because, He has blotted it out from your record!

What Did Jesus Reveal To Us About God In This Incident?

That God wants to reach the moral, upright sinner as well as the flagrantly immoral sinner. He associated with both. He ate with tax collectors and Pharisees.

That there are no hopeless cases with God. He extends His grace to everyone!

That God loves and forgives women equally with men.

There are no second class members of His family.

That God knows our hearts and motives even when we do not say anything.

That God will never stay in the box we put Him in.

That God hates hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

That God fully forgives ALL our sins and gives us peace.

That God accepts us individually.

He accepts our love and worship and the manner in which we express it.

This woman showed her love for the Lord by her weeping, her kissing His feet, and her anointing them with a precious perfume. She loved much because she had been forgiven much.

Do We Really Love The Lord Jesus Christ?

How do we show our love? Or do we show it at all? We have all been forgiven much. The Lord gave His life for us. All he wants from us is that we live for Him day by day.

The Jesus Narrative (part three)

Jesus was now very active in His public ministry. He was traveling through the villages and towns proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand and His ministry was authenticated by the many miracles He performed. He had chosen His 12 disciples and they traveled with Him. They were back in Galilee and crowds were increasingly following him from all over Israel and neighboring countries

Luke 6:17-19

No one had ever seen a man do the miracles He did or heard the words He spoke. Yet busy as He was He always had time to stop and care for that one person with a special need. The crowd was not just a faceless mob to Him. They were individuals in whom He had a personal interest. They were like sheep without a shepherd and He had come to be their Shepherd.

Luke 7:11

Jesus left Capernaum where He had healed a centurion’s servant from a distance, without even seeing him. Now He and his disciples traveled on down to Nain, a town about 25 miles southwest of Capernaum.

Luke 7:12

Try to imagine the scene. Jesus and His disciples were approaching the town gate, followed by a large, excited crowd. Suddenly a hush fell on the crowd. There was a funeral procession coming out of the town. A litter with a dead body on it was being carried out to the cemetery. A weeping mother, dressed in widow’s clothes followed. She was accompanied by a large crowd of friends mourning with her. This was a noisy crowd in a different way. They were wailing, weeping and some had torn their clothes to indicate their grief.

The dead man was the only son of his mother and she was a widow. (NIV)

This poignant sentence tells a sad story. This woman had lost her husband, now her son was gone. In that day, parents depended upon their children to care for them in their old age. The death of her only son meant that she would not only be lonely but possibly destitute. Now the Mosaic Law provided for widows, orphans and the poor. They could glean in the fields after the reapers and gather their grain and fruit. There was also a special tithe taken every third year to be distributed to the poor. God warned his people that they were never to oppress or exploit the poor or the widows and orphans.

Ex. 22:22-23 (NIV) Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.

Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV) He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow.

It was the responsibility of the community to care for the poor in that day. Jewish people today still care for their own to a greater extent than other ethnic groups usually do.

Now Jesus knew all this. He could have just passed by and assumed that this town would rally around the widow and see that she at least had food and clothes.

Luke 7:13

When the Lord saw her, His heart went out to her and He said, “Do not cry.” (NIV)

Cannot you picture Him? He leaves His followers, walks up to her and with tenderness and compassion says just two words. They would have been unrealistic and unkind coming from anyone else. She had plenty to cry about. To me there is something very comforting in knowing that when I am in pain, God’s heart goes out to me. He is the One who really feels my pain, He cares for me and wants to comfort me. He is not a cold, distant, helpless deity. He is a loving, compassionate Father.

Psalm 103:13

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. (NIV)

In 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 He is called the “Father of mercies” and the “God of all comfort.”

But that is not all Jesus said and did. Now He walked over to the litter and touched it. The pallbearers stopped. Imagine what they must have thought. Touching the dead made a person ceremonially unclean. Here was a rabbi, a teacher, doing it. But that still was not all. Jesus then spoke directly to the dead man.

“Young man, I say to you, get up” (NIV)

Jesus stood and faced our worst enemy, Death. And with the ring of divine authority He exercised His power over it. This is the first time He raised a person from the dead. In each of the three recorded cases, He spoke to the corpse. And the dead heard His voice and obeyed. John 5:28.

Luke 7:15

The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. (NIV)

Cannot you sense the gentleness, the understanding, the personal interest in her that these words reveal? Can you imagine the joy Jesus felt being able to do this for her. I wonder if we realize what it meant to Him to reverse in a tangible way, the curse which is the result of human sin. I think He smiled as He saw her tears turn to unbelievable joy. Her son was alive. She would not be left alone. She would see her grandchildren, her future was secure.

What impact did this miracle have on the crowd?

Luke 7:16-17

They were filled with awe, reverence, fear of God. They praised God. (NIV)

Surely they were reminded of the dead child that Elisha raised from the dead over 800 years before in the town of Shunem which was just on the other side of the hill from Nain. But did they actually realize that God really had come and was living among them? They may have remembered the Scripture:

Isaiah 35:4-6 (NIV) Be strong, do not fear; your God will come…He will come to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.

This was what the Messiah would do when He came. And that was exactly what Jesus was doing! This miracle also illustrated some important truths. We have seen that God is deeply concerned with our grief and pain. Jesus actively did what He had the power to do to alleviate this woman’s suffering. In this he modeled for us what we are supposed to do to relieve human suffering today.

All around us are people who are hurting, without the essentials to sustain life, lonely, or disabled. Some have suffered broken marriages, or estranged children. Some are homeless, jobless, hopeless, and lost. There is something each of us can do. It may be very small in comparison to their degree of need, but that is not the issue. We can bring a meal, make a visit, bring clothes, blankets, listen to their troubles, pray with them and for them. We can counsel and support women in crisis pregnancies. We can give money so that ministries like Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, the largest men’s shelter in the world or The Mission Shelter program or Veterans Cause who minister to the down and out so they can continue their work. We can share the Gospel. Remember we are Christ’s Body on earth. He works through us to show God’s love and concern.

We all can and must do something. We cannot close our eyes and pretend there is no one out there that needs our help.

We find the next effect of this miracle in the following verses. John the Baptist had been in prison for quite a long while and he may have expected that Jesus coming would have different results. In his uncertainty he sent directly to Jesus.

Luke 7:18-23

The purpose of miracles in the Bible is always to accredit the messenger and the message. Jesus was saying to John:

Remember the prophecies in Is. 35 and 61, see what I am doing, and put it all together.

Thus he reassured John that He was the Messiah.

But I believe this miracle also illustrated visibly what the Lord Jesus came to accomplish by His death on the cross and His resurrection.

2 Timothy 1:9-10

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed (abolished) death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (NIV)

How did death become a part of human existence. It was not part of God’s original design. Adam and Eve were created to live forever. In that beautiful garden God gave them every provision and perfect freedom to enjoy each other, to enjoy life and to enjoy their Creator. There was one prohibition.

Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the day you eat of it you will surely die. (NIV)

We all know the story. Satan tempted them and they ate the fruit and experienced spiritual death immediately, which is separation from God. We know this because for the first time they were afraid and hid from Him when He came to walk with them in the Garden. Then their bodies began to die and death has been the expectation and experience of every human being since. The penalty for sin is death, both physical and spiritual. Since were each born with a sinful nature, we all sin and we all will die unless the Lord returns first and takes us home.

God commanded an approach to him that constantly reminded his people of that truth. Israel could never worship God without a blood sacrifice. When they sacrificed a lamb, goat or bull, they were offering a substitute to die for their sins in their place. When Jesus began His public ministry it was John who identified him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

He was the only substitute God would accept. When Jesus hung on that cross He took the full penalty for our sin in His own person. When he cried out, My God, why have you forsaken me? It meant he experienced spiritual death, which is separation from God. And of course, He died physically. But then he rose from the dead. If there was even one sin that could not be forgiven by the sacrifice of Christ, He would still be in the grave. His resurrection proved that every sin ever committed since the world began has been paid for in full.

Thank God for the Gift of His Son, our Savior and Risen Lord.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Ok this is 10 pages, I would print it out.

The Jesus Narrative part two

Just before He ascended to heaven, Jesus told his disciples, Go and make disciples of all nations. We know that this is a command for all Christians in each successive generation. Yet I think most of us feel guilty because we hardly ever tell anyone about the greatest gift in the world (salvation through Jesus Christ). But usually our problem is to know how do to do it.

One of the ways is through Friendship Evangelism. The premise is that as we try to win people to Jesus Christ, we must attempt first to become their friends, talk to them, listen to them, invite them to our homes, go places with them, show them love, help them in their need. Then when they see that we really are different, they will want what we have and we can share Christ with them.

We are learning that Jesus Christ was God living here in a human body, fully God and fully man. He revealed the invisible God, our heavenly Father to us in His words, attitudes and actions. He told his disciples He wanted them to be His friends and He showed what true friendship looked like.

Since He is now in heaven, He has given us the responsibility to reveal God, our heavenly Father, through our lives so that others may be born into His family, and He modeled for us in His many relationships how to be a true friend to others.

As we work through our lesson today we will discover principles He modeled that still work in being a true friend.

Jesus’ ministry had begun in earnest and it was attracting attention. He had gone to Jerusalem for the Passover and the religious leaders were beginning to ask questions about him. In order to avoid a direct clash with them at this time He started back to Galilee.

John 4:4-6

He did not have to go through Samaria. This was a deliberate choice other Jews never made. They hated the Samaritans, they considered them to be racial and religious half breeds. So they went around two longer routes to avoid them. But Jesus went through Samaria because there was someone He had to see there.

TO MAKE FRIENDS, GIVE PRIORITY TO PEOPLE AND BE AVAILABLE

I think we often give priority to activities, schedules and programs. But people must come first.

They arrived at the little village of Sychar about noontime. The road ran through a valley and the town was up on a hill. The well that Jacob had dug 2000 years before was still supplying water. The disciples went into the town to buy food, but Jesus sat alone by the well. He was tired, hungry, and thirsty, a clear indication of his humanity.

John 4:7-9

Imagine this woman’s surprise when a Jewish man spoke to her and asked her for a drink. Jesus did something we can learn from.

USE A COMMON POINT OF INTEREST OR CONTACT

They were both at the well needing water. She had a jar, He did not. He asked a favor of her, put himself in a position of need. This is not usually our approach, is it? What was even more unusual was that Jews would not use the same utensils as a Samaritan, because they considered them unclean, but this man wanted to use her waterpot. Not only that but a Rabbi never spoke to a woman in public, not even his own wife and he certainly never would have spoken to a Samaritan woman. But man made rules never controlled Jesus. This woman had a heart’s need and He knew he could meet it. There is a lesson for us here.

DO NOT DISCRIMINATE BECAUSE OF RACE, GENDER, RELIGION OR SOCIAL CLASS

Do we let social, racial or religious barriers keep us from befriending people who need to know the Lord Jesus and who could enrich our lives and broaden our understanding of the love of God for all people.

John 4:10

If you knew the gift of God and WHO it is… (NIV)

Now Jesus began to reveal who He was to her.

REVEAL YOURSELF GRADUALLY

We cannot make true friendships when we always wear a mask to protect ourselves and hide our real self. I know we can do this from fear of rejection. But people want to know the real you. We must be authentic and vulnerable. Sure, there is a risk involved. On the other hand, we do not want to dump the whole truck load at our first encounter. It is wise to reveal ourselves gradually depending on the person’s response, just as Jesus did.

He constantly exposed himself to rejection, but He never let rejection change His confidence or His worth.

You see, this woman had to trust Him before she could receive His gift. And people have to trust us before they will trust the Savior we say we believe in. Notice how He stimulated her curiosity. What was the gift? Who was He? What was living water?

John 4:11-14

Living water to her meant a fresh spring in contrast to a pool or cistern. Her answer shows that they were on different wave lengths. She was literal. He used terms that had deep spiritual significance. But he was not discouraged by her cluelessness. Living water was used symbolically in the O.T. to refer to God.

Jer. 2:13 (NIV) My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

Many references in the Bible to water do not mean H2O, but refer to the Word of God or salvation. Just as we cannot live physically without H2O, we cannot live spiritually without God, who is the Source of living water. Jesus wanted to satisfy the thirst of her soul. That thirst we were all born with.

GOD BUILT A THIRST WITHIN US TO DRIVE US TO HIMSELF.

But instead we spend our time and energy drinking water from the world’s broken cisterns and wonder why we are still thirsty. Wealth, beauty, art, education, power, pleasure, career, even marriage –all are finally meaningless in the effort to find the essential values of life, to find personal fulfillment, to quench our thirst. Nothing material or earthly can satisfy the thirst of our spirits. Jesus claims to give one drink that will satisfy our heart’s thirst forever. To drink is another way of saying, “to believe.”

Later on Jesus made clear how that thirst for God would be satisfied.

John 7:37-38

THE HOLY SPIRIT’S INDWELLING PRESENCE SATISFIES OUR THIRST FOR GOD

Here Jesus identifies living water with the Holy Spirit who indwells each person the moment that we put our faith in Christ. In the O.T. the Spirit came upon people to enable them to accomplish specific tasks, then He could leave. But now He lives permanently in each one of us who belong to Jesus. That is why we will not be thirsty for God again.

Many of us, even believers spend our lives expecting another human being to satisfy that thirst –a husband, either present or future, a parent, a child, a friend. No human being, no matter how wonderful can fill the place meant only for God. There are needs people can meet, and there are needs only God can meet and we should know the difference. This will save us from unrealistic expectations and constant disappointment.

John 4:15

The woman was interested. She was entirely literal. She had a wrong understanding and wrong motives. Cannot you hear her thinking: Would not it be wonderful to never have to come to the well again, never to run the risk of woman gossiping about her. What a deal. But Jesus did not lose patience with her.

ACCEPT PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE. DO NOT JUDGE BY EXTERNALS

We must show that we are interested in them, accepting them without demanding that they change first. This is hard to do, but if we are going to tell them that God loves them, it might be a good idea to let God demonstrate that love through us from the start.

Now Jesus abruptly seemed to change the subject.

John 4:16-18

Jesus knew all about her before he met her. (Omniscience) He accepted her just as she was. This does not mean he approved of her life style. She was either widowed or divorced 5 times. Only men could initiate divorce. Can you imagine what her self image was. The only man that would stay with her was one who would not marry her. Jesus just stated the facts, but He teaches us something important here.

DO NOT ASK SOMEONE TO TRUST CHRIST UNLESS THEY KNOW THAT THEY ARE A SINNER.

The first step towards recognition of a need for salvation is for a person to acknowledge that she is a sinner. Each of us was born a sinner. That is why we sin.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Ps. 51:5, NIV)

The sins we commit are just the evidence that we have a sinful nature. We all need forgiveness and Jesus is the only One who can give it. Many times human pride will keep us from admitting our sin. That is why this is important.

John 4:19-20

Now she sidetracked him into a religious discussion. This will often happen when we try to share our faith.

E.g. If Jesus is the only way, what about the heathen who never heard? Why would a good God let such evil happen?

We can try to answer those questions if they are answerable, but do not let them get us off point.

John 4:21-24

DO NOT COMPROMISE THE TRUTH TO WIN FAVOR.

Jesus was very honest with her. Notice how He used her detour to enlighten her further. He revealed something about God that is nowhere else stated so clearly in the NT.

A time is coming and now has come… (NIV)

His own death and resurrection would bring in a new access to God.

  1. The worship of God would no longer be located in a certain place, like the temple in Jerusalem.

  1. Samaritans worshiped ignorantly. They had a corrupt mixture of Jewish and pagan religions. He did not use soft soap to win her favor.

  1. Salvation is from the Jews. All the O.T. promises about a Savior coming from the Jewish people were true. Jesus in His humanity was descended from Abraham, the father of the Jews.

  1. God is Spirit and seeks people who worship Him in spirit and in truth. Worship would not be in man made temples or churches, but in the inner sanctuaries of people’s hearts. God would not be the exclusive property of one race or one denomination. He fills the universe and is everywhere present. But He is also our heavenly Father.

In this exchange Jesus introduces a dimension to friendship we cannot ignore.

TRUE FRIENDSHIP NURTURES THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

All friendships for believers must have a spiritual aspect, either for evangelism or for encouraging and building others up. Friendships will not be deep and intimate that do not nurture the spirit as well.

John 4:25

Well, she did not know a lot, but this was one thing she did know. Samaritans expected a Prophet like Moses to come. Since they did not accept anything but the first 5 books of the O.T. as their scriptures, they did not know the other prophecies about Messiah. They just looked for this Messiah to be a teacher who would explain everything.

John 4:26

This is total self revelation. This the only time before His trial that Jesus stated this so clearly. He revealed His identity to this immoral Samaritan woman, not to the religious leaders or even to His own disciples. This was remarkable in a day when the rabbis taught that to teach a woman spiritual truth was like teaching a dog; that it was better to burn the Scriptures than to teach a woman. But He also models something very important.

BE WILLING TO RISK REJECTION

He had offered Himself to her as the One who could satisfy her soul’s thirst, the Messiah. What would her response be?

She had two choices: faith or rejection. Those are really the only two options anyone has and as we befriend people and witness for Christ, we must make this clear. There is no safe fence to sit on.

But do you realize that we who have trusted Him already must make the same choice daily?

Do we believe or reject Him when He promises to guide us concerning our future?

Do we believe or reject him when He says that suffering is a major instrument used by God to build into us the character of Jesus Christ?

Do we believe or reject him when He says He unconditionally loves us and will meet our every need?

Do we believe or reject Him when He warns us that the love of money is the root of every kind of evil?

Do we believe or reject Him when He tells us that knowing, memorizing and obeying his word will keep us from sin?

Do we believe or reject Him when He says that no one comes to the Father except through him?

What would this woman’s response be: Faith or rejection?

John 4:27-30

The disciples attitude towards women reflected that of the culture, but Jesus never obeyed the traditions of men that violated God’s value system and they did not dare to question him.

The woman was so excited about her encounter with him that she just left her waterpot and hurried back into the town. Notice what was most impressive to her about their conversation.

“He told me everything I ever did.”

TELL YOUR FRIEND WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR YOU

All any of us have to really share is what Jesus Christ has done for us personally. That is why it is so essential to keep growing in our experience with him and in our knowledge of His Word so that we have something fresh to share with others. We cannot give others water from a dry well.

This could not be the Messiah, could it?

It is interesting to see how her perception of Jesus had progressed as He gradually revealed himself. He went from being a man by the well to a Jew to a prophet to the Messiah.

CULTIVATE THE RELATIONSHIP BY INCREASING SELF-REVELATION

Friendships and love grow as we reveal ourselves, accept and trust each other and challenge each other. Friendships are pretty sterile if all you do is talk about surface stuff. We all need friends who know who we really are and love us anyway.

John 4:39-41

Look at the impact this immoral woman had on her community. The disciples had gone into the town and only brought back bread. She went in and brought back the town. She was someone none of us would want to represent us. But Jesus was not ashamed to be identified with her.

Jesus stayed with these Samaritans for 2 more days at their request. What did he teach them in those 2 days? Their conclusion is revealing.

John 4:42

This man really is the Savior of the world. (NIV)

Jesus had given them a world view. Not just the provincial idea that the Jews had that the Messiah would deliver Israel from Roman rule. The world needs a greater deliverance than that from political or economic oppression. The world needs deliverance from sin. Maybe Jesus even told them He would die for the sins of the world and rise again from the dead and they believed in Him. But how did it all start?

It started with Jesus truly reaching out in friendship to this outcast woman. He initiated the contact. He revealed himself to her because she needed what He had to offer, and He accepted her as she was. He did not compromise the truth to win her favor. She believed him and he quenched her thirst for a secure relationship with a Person, a heavenly Father who would love her unconditionally forever. And her witness to her townspeople resulted in their conversion as well.

Now I would like to go back to the conversation Jesus had with His disciples while she was telling the good news back in town.

John 4:31-34

The disciples were as literal in their understanding as the woman was. Jesus spoke of the complete satisfaction that comes from doing what God wants us to do. Many of you know the unparalleled joy it is to see a person trust the Savior because of your efforts.

Now as they were gathered by the well, Jesus turned their attention to the town on the hill. A stream of people was already coming down. This was the harvest ready to be gathered in.

TRUE FRIENDS SHARE JESUS CHRIST WITH OTHERS

He tells us here, as he told them, that we all are to be working at gathering in a crop for eternal life. That means we are to be involved in evangelism. One will sow the seed, another water it, another cultivate it and another reap it. But we will all rejoice together. All around us are fields of people ripe for harvest. But we must gather them in. We must learn how to make friends, and be a true friend to them just as Jesus was. Remember, He was called the Friend of sinners.

What does Jesus reveal to us about God, our heavenly Father?

Our heavenly Father is a seeking God. He initiates relationships

He knew all about her life. He is omniscient

Our heavenly Father is Spirit, He fills the universe (omnipresent),

He values women as much as He does men. He cares for us individually

He is patient with our ignorance and blindness.

He leads us gently into light.

He makes us confront our sins not to condemn but to deliver us.

Our Father loves us and proved it by sending his Son to be the Savior of the world

Our heavenly Father wants our worship to be in spirit and truth.

He wants to use us to bring others into his family.

He wants to be our Friend as well as our Father.

Jesus said,

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13, NIV)

That is exactly what he did when He died on the cross and rose from the dead.

He also said,

You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:14, NIV)

If sharing your faith is difficult for you, tell your heavenly Father that you want to be obedient, but you need His help. He will show you how to approach a person and what to say.

Let us be true friends to others and introduce them to the greatest Friend of all, our Lord Jesus Christ.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com