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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Education / Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20 Welcome Guest
    Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20
          Have you always had questions about different passages and books of the bible? Me too. Let's explore everything together and find out what God's Word actually says. Are you ready for a life-changing experience? Are you? Then come on!
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    Sun, Apr 28th - 9:29PM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "And one of the Pharisees desired that He would eat with him.  And He went into the Pharisee's home, and sat down to meat.  And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's home, brought an alabaster box of ointment.  And stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hair of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment.  Now when the Pharisee which had asked Him saw it, he spoke within himself, This man,  if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that touches him: for she is a sinner.  And Jesus answering said to him, Simon, I have something to say to you.  And he said, Master, speak on.  There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave then both.  Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him most?  Simon replied, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.  And He said to him, You have rightly judged.  And He turned to the woman, and said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I entered into your home, you gave Me no water for My feet: but she has washed My feet with tears, and wiped them with her own hair.  You gave Me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in has not ceased to kiss My feet.  My head with oil you did not anoint: but this woman has anointed My feet with ointment.  So I say to you, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.  And He said to her, Your sins are forgiven.  And they that sat at the meal with Him began to say to themselves, Who is this that forgives sins also?  And He said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace (7:36-50)."

       Not very many times in Scripture are we given the name of any Pharisee, but here we learn that the man's name was Simon.  Obviously this Pharisee was curious to learn more about Jesus and thus invited Him to come and have a meal in his home nearby.  As curious as Simon may have been, he failed to extend any of the common courtesies to Jesus upon entering into his home.  No water was offered with which to wash the dust and dirt from off of His feet.  In essence Simon was being quite rude for that society.  We learn from reading this passage that Simon did not really believe Jesus to even be a prophet, let alone the Messiah.  So why invite Jesus to come home with him?  Nothing concrete is supplied to us here.  Perhaps Simon enjoyed the company of "celebrities" in his day.  Perhaps he simply wanted to meet and talk with Jesus on an informal and "friendly" basis, away from the prying eyes and ears of the common people out in the streets.  Or, perhaps he wished to engage in combative dialogue in private, continuing the general Pharisaic battle plan.  We simply do not know for sure what Simon's reasons were.

       This passage reinforces the point made throughout the New Testament of Jesus willingly going and eating meals with both sinners and religionists.  No one was excluded from His attention or love; even if they lacked the common everyday courtesies and respect shown to visitors in any home.  It was not due to a lack of available water that Simon did not provide water for Jesus feet to be washed.  His home was a home of the wealthy.  These homes always had a courtyard, usually in the center of the house.  It was known that some would allow the public to enter the courtyard to listen to any discussions taking place, especially if a rabbi was the chief guest.  

       We find here, in this passage, a contrast of attitudes put on display for the reader.  There is the attitude of the repentant sinner: a woman prostitute.  This woman was a sinner, a prostitute.  Her actions depict what a sinner must do in coming to Jesus.  She sensed a desperate need.  Either she was convicted of her sin while hearing the words of Jesus or else she had heard Him before and came under heavy conviction.  She heard that Jesus had entered Simon's home to eat a meal, and she acted immediately.  Christ had plead for people to repent and prepare for the kingdom of God and her heart had become pierced.  She understood that she was a sinful woman: unclean, lost, condemned.  Her guilt and weight of her sin had become unbearable.  She ached for forgiveness and cleansing, for freedom and liberty.  Are we any different today?

       She then approached Christ despite all of this.  So-called decent folk wanted nothing to do with her.  What would Jesus do?  She risked physical violence against her person if she was recognized entering into a Pharisee's home, yet here she did come.  It is clear that Simon did know her from what he said to himself in verse 39.  Still, this woman risked much to come to the Lord for forgiveness.  She must have known that Christ had extended an invitation for all who labor and are heavily loaded down to come to Him for rest.  She thus acted upon her belief in Jesus, and came to Him.  If Christ has offered for people to come, then He must also receive those who do come.  Logic is relentless here.  So, before anyone could notice and prevent her, she rushed inside to where Jesus reclined and stood behind Him at His feet.  Remember that people back then did not sit upright at tables to eat their meals.  They reclined upon the floor, resting upon their left arm facing each other around the table with their body and feet extending away from the table.  This woman then surrendered herself completely to Christ in complete humility.  Her conviction overcame her and she fell at His feet weeping.  Question:  Was her emotional weeping simply because of her recognized sin?  Could it have been that she had clearly "seen" the coming crucifixion of Christ and that also led to her profuse weeping and anointing of His feet?  Something to ponder.  We can know that she was so broken in spirit that the tears freely flowed down her cheeks upon the feet of Christ.  She washed His feet with her own shed tears and then proceeded to wipe them dry with her hair.  The level of her love and devotion to her Savior was demonstrated in this feet washing and anointment with ointment along with her kissing of them.  

       What could make a prostitute enter a Pharisee's home?  Desperation.  She had felt so lost, so alone, so helpless, that a sense of urgency overpowered her and moved her to action.  Women were forbidden to unloose their hair in public back in those times.  She was oblivious to any onlookers.  Whatever the consequences might have been for her breaking the rules of her society, she plainly valued the surrendering of her heart and life to Christ as much higher.  She did not even speak this entire time, simply weeped in silence.  But Christ Jesus knew her heart and thus words were unnecessary.  

       What do we bring to Christ today?  This woman brought her most valuable possession, her most precious thing.  Perfume was highly valued by women of those times.  Obviously since Luke describes the perfume in this fashion he is stressing the expense of it and therefore the great sacrifice.  This woman therefore loved Christ much.  She gave it all to Christ, kept none of it back for herself.  But it is necessary to notice that she did not simply offer it to Christ.  She anointed His feet with it in an exceptional act of humility and love and surrender.  And so I can see that when I come to Christ I must come with a broken and contrite heart.  I must clearly see myself as a sinner, unclean in the eyes of God Almighty.  I must also see that I need Christ in order to gain my freedom from the power of sin in my life.  "Come to Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28)."  "For we do not have a high priest which can't be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16)."  "The LORD is near to them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18)." 

       Let us consider the attitude of the self-righteous.  The Pharisee was a considerate man, but self-righteous.  He thought all of these things, he would not say them publicly otherwise he might embarrass his guests.  He considered himself better.  Obviously he was better than this prostitute, so he would never, ever, allow her to even touch him.  He would keep his distance, ignore, and have absolutely nothing to do with her.  But he went even further.  He believed his judgment, knowledge, opinions, and behavior to be better than most others.  He fully expected others to judge and act just he did.  Simon obviously thought that if Jesus knew who this woman was, and what it was she did, that He would have nothing to do with her at all.  

       Many people today do live self-righteously.  They feel that they live and act better than most other people.  They feel superior because they have a better house, a better profession/job, a better education, a better religion, a better child, a better marriage, a better heritage, a better income, better discipline, a better skill set, more ability, more success, more fame, a better life.  Just like Simon the Pharisee.  He sensed no need for forgiveness and repentance.  Quite obviously he felt "good enough" in religion and in behavior.  Religion-wise he was a Pharisee, given his life to practice religion full-time.  He was well behaved, decent, moral, just, equitable, respected and highly esteemed within his community and nation.  He was not immoral; he would not have anything to do with immorality.  He had not and would not commit a sin that would be publicly condemned.  So he felt as though he had done nothing for which he needed forgiveness.  "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness (Proverbs 30:12)."  "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate (Titus 1:16)."  "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (II Corinthians 10:12)."  How about today?  Anybody you know guilty of doing this?

       Jesus then proceeded to tell a parable about two debtors.  Undivided attention was being called for.  Something important was about to be revealed.  The self-righteous man needed to pay close attention.  Christ was a prophet and the Messiah, thus He understood exactly what each and every person gathered at this meal was thinking and feeling.  He knew their every thought, even before they thought it.  From verse 41 on, Christ speaks to the thoughts of Simon.  Simon had not spoken out loud, only thought silently to himself.  Being the Son of the Living God, Christ knows what each person thinks.  What I may think shrinks in significance when facing the One who knows all things from before the foundation of Creation.  Jesus Christ knows our hidden thoughts and feelings, the secret things that we have done when no one else was around.  He therefore knows the person who has genuinely repented of sin and the person who is remaining to be self-righteous.  This parable's meaning is quite clear.  The grace of God forgives the debt we owe God.  Both debts were forgiven.  One's forgiveness was greater than the other though.  The woman prostitute loved Christ much greater than Simon could, her level of forgiveness therefore was much greater while Simon remained on the outside looking in, confused.  

      Now, we come to the shown lack of respect given to God.  The repentant prostitute really saw Jesus for who He is.  Simon could not see Christ for who He is.  It is why Christ pointedly asked Simon if he saw the woman, "Do you see this woman?"  Jesus deserved more than common respect; He deserved a worshipful respect.  Being the only One who could meet the needs of the human heart, He deserved to be worshiped.  Common courtesies demanded the host to provide water for guests to wash their dusty feet.  The kiss was the accepted greeting among friends, and oil was usually given for honored guests to refresh themselves.  Jesus expected a common greeting even though He deserved a humble and brokenhearted greeting.  The repentant woman saw the worthiness of Jesus and something of His awesome Person as part of the Godhead.  Jesus also deserved more than a common gift.  He deserved a sacrificial gift for He was seen as the hope and salvation of one's life.  So this woman gave Jesus everything that she had.  Jesus is the only One with the power to forgive sins.  This woman's sins were many.  Jesus didn't overlook this fact, or the seriousness of them remaining in her life.  But He forgave her sins despite their awfulness, despite the fact that they were partly the cause for Him leaving heaven and come to earth to die as payment for them.  We see that the self-righteous sensed the need for little forgiveness; therefore, they loved little.  The self-righteous only had a formal, distant relationship with God.  It was cold.  There was no sense of sin and of a need for forgiveness.  It seemed to be enough that Jesus was present at the table.  The self-righteous approach to God apparently has only a little idea of sin and only a passing thought about forgiveness.  It is blind to the fact of man's state of sin, to man's true being, to man's falling far short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  It has little to no sense of the need for special mercy and grace, is blind to God's Sovereign Majesty and Person.  It gives little to no honor to God, makes little sacrifice for God.  Finally, we see that Jesus forgives sin.  He has the power to forgive the sins of this repentant woman, as He does your and my sins today.  This frequently overlooked fact about forgiveness, that millions of people have been forgiven of their sin, and their lives have dramatically changed, is proof that Christ is the Son of God, the One to whom people are to go for forgiveness.

       Jesus was the One who did, in fact, save this repentant woman.  She believed Christ to be the Messiah, the One who could forgive her sins.  Therefore He forgave her.  The very fact that Jesus claimed the right and power to forgive sins should cause every single person to sit up, take notice and ask, "Who is this Jesus?"  How about you?  Have you asked that question yet?  If so, have you obtained an answer yet?  "Be it known to you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins (Acts 13:38)."  "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).'  "I, even I, am he that blots out your transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:25).'  "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous person their thoughts: and let them return to the LORD, and He will have mercy upon them; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:7)."  

    Here is my final offering for this night:  "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief (I Timothy 1:15)."  Mercy and peace be with you all.  Grace and love adorn your thoughts, your words, and your actions.  

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Apr 26th - 11:14PM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "And all the people that heard Him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.  But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.  And the Lord said, To what therefore shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?  They are like children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have played for you, and you have not danced; we have mourned to you, and you have not wept.  For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and you say, He has a devil.  The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and you say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a wine imbiber, a friend of publicans and sinners!  But wisdom is justified of all her children (7:29-35)."  

       In reading what Jesus Christ's verdict was of that particular generation's conduct we discover what God's verdict upon every generation of people will be.  We are able to witness the people's reaction to John the Baptist.  The common people and tax collectors accepted John and his ministry, but the religious legalists rejected him.  The tax collectors were already set apart from the rest of the people because of being so despised and ostracized for working with the Romans.  They were perceived as "betrayers of the Nation."  The tax collectors in turn felt the sting of rejection and hate radiating from their fellow Jews as well as the ill-will of the Romans.  The tax collector usually ended up being a wealthy man, but he lived in no-man's land, belonging nowhere, accepted nowhere.  

       So it was these tax collectors, having been marginalized by their choice to work for the Romans, and the common people in the streets, who heard John preach the kingdom and then repented of their sins.  The common people sensed their need for repentance, for forgiveness of sin, and believed John's message that the Messiah indeed was coming very soon.  Those people who did repent were the ones who "justified" God.  Through their faith and consequent actions they vindicated John's ministry.  They proclaimed that God is just and righteous.  They accepted God, repented, and changed their lives forever.  

       However, the religionists (Pharisees) rejected both God and John the Baptist.  They rejected the counsel of God.  How can I know this?  They failed to repent and be baptized by John.  Being the religious leaders of the people they should have been the very first ones to respond, but they did not.  Not surprising considering that these Pharisees had become a sect of men who had given their entire lives to live out the law, to the most minute detail.  The lawyers were those men who had given their lives to study and learn the law to the fullest extent possible.  But both groups of men had lost the vision to live out the "heart" of God's statutes.  They had become consumed in doing rather than worshiping and loving God.  Jesus Christ's warning to this ancient generation of "vipers" is directly pertinent to everyone alive today, and in every generation.  Today's generation should know and be prepared for the prophet of God and his/her message.  They have God's Word yet ignore it.  They have the ordinances of God and God's worship, yet they neglect using them.  They have had God's prophet sent to them, yet they reject Him.  God's own Son has already been sent to them, yet they continue to reject Him.  They remain smug in their own adequacy and sufficiency.  This message pointedly is for the believers who attend church.  Have you pushed God right out of your church worship experience?  Have you become completely reliant upon your own skills and abilities?  Have you given up on praying for leadership, guidance, strength, peace, vision, abling, and power from God?  Do you now have lists of Do's and Don'ts?  You have begun walking the path of the Pharisee.  

       God considers those who refuse to consider repentance from their behavior and thinking to be "childish."  Christ asked out loud what He could possibly compare that generation to.  He settled upon children in the marketplace talking to one another.  Childishness.  They were a perverse generation of people, turning away from that which was right and good to that which was corruptible; they acted contrary to the evidence; they were obstinate in their opposition to the truth.  In reality they were mindless and contrary, not wanting the truth, so they made up excuses for not receiving the truth from Christ.  The picture painted for us is of two groups of kids in the marketplace.  One group plays music fitting for being danced to but the other group refuses to dance.  The first group then plays music fit for a funeral and weeping/wailing, but the second group refuses to do that either.  

       Each and every generation is the same in that it has its specific privileges.  These are used by some and ignored and/or abused by others.  Since the coming of Christ the greatest privilege in all of the world has been that of knowing Him personally and of being brought into a right relationship with God.  Some people have come to know Him personally, but the vast majority have ignored and/or abused Him.  "For My people is foolish, they have not known Me; they are sottish children, and they have no understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge (Jeremiah 4:22)."  "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed all about, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of people, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Ephesians 4:14)."  "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became man, I put away childish things (I Corinthians 13:11)."

       Too many people today are always seeking for an excuse to escape personal responsibility.  "It isn't my fault, you made me do this!"  "No one got hurt, so why blame me?"  This ancient generation of "vipers" was contrary, mindless, playful; they were fault-finders who could not be pleased.  They complained because one man did not drink wine and eat meat while another did not abstain from eating these things.  Today people find fault with a "separatist" approach to the gospel, and also find fault with a sociable approach to the gospel.  They simply can't be pleased, at all.  

       We find that the Pharisees thought that John the Baptist was too conservative and too self-denying.  He lived an austere, strict, highly disciplined life.  He did not "fit in."  He did not hob-nob with the makers and shakers of his day.  He did not shake hands with the crowds of people or create a "posse" of panderers that would follow him around.  He simply isolated himself out in the desert, withdrew from society, to seek and commune with his God.  His message was a gospel of repentance and of separation from the things of this world.  Thus he was accused of having a devil, of being insane for choosing to live the way he did.

       We find that the Pharisees thought Jesus guilty of license, of being too loose.  Jesus was, in many ways, the opposite of John the Baptist.  He lived and preached a gospel of liberty, eating and drinking with all sorts of people.  He moved among all kinds of people, mixing and being accessible to all.  No matter how marginalized they might be, He went to where they were and made Himself available to hear their requests and their needs.  What I am forced to admit is that God used both approaches to righteousness.  Neither approach is ever condemned by God and John never condemned Christ's approach.  I am forced to realize that the majority of people even today still desire to have their own way, rejecting any attempt to restrict their "freedom."  People continue to seek pleasure, intellectual pursuit, secular interests, and religious commitments.  Some are willing to go so far as to minimally restrict their own desires, wills, and ways.  Fewer still are willing to deny self completely.  "But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they do not understand; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time.  They are spots and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that can't cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: a heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: which have forsaken the right way (II Peter 2:12-15)."

       Finally, I reach the final verse of this passage and find my reward for being faithful to God's Word.  Wisdom is justified by her children.  Wise children will justify what is wise and right.  The wise person will therefore declare that both John and Jesus were right.  The way they chose to live and preach, the ascetic versus the social, are both right.  Both originate from God.  In this case, one the forerunner and the other the Messiah.  Wise children are the non-critical saved people who understand that God sent both John and Jesus.  The wise understand that there is no contrariness in this passage, nor in any part of the Bible.  The wise people accept the ministry of John the Baptist and of Jesus  the Christ.  

    That is all for today, beloved.  Next time we shall review verses 36-50 and find out what the contrasts between the repentant and the self-righteous are.  Grace and peace be with you today, and throughout the coming weekend!

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Apr 20th - 12:21AM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "And in that same hour He cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and to many that were blind He gave sight.  Then Jesus said to them, Go your way, and tell John what things you have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.  And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.  And when the messengers of John were gone, He began to speak to the people concerning John, What did you go out into the wilderness to see?  A reed shaken with the wind?  But what did you go out to see?  A man clothed in soft garments?  Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in king's courts.  But what did you go out to see?  A prophet?  Yes, I say to you, and much more than a prophet.  This is He, of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, which shall prepare Your way before You.  For I say to you, among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he (7:21-28)."

       Christ Jesus provided four assurances to John, and more importantly to his followers.  1)  He demonstrated the power and works of the Messiah.  When these messengers arrived and told Jesus what John had sent them to find out, did Jesus immediately tell them what to go and tell John?  No, He turned and began healing people right before their very eyes.  The messengers could give John and the other followers of John a very detailed description of exactly what Jesus Christ had done for the people.  These messengers had heard about Christ's ministry, but now they got to witness it first hand.  John, hearing these things being accomplished would know exactly who Jesus was.  John would know beyond any doubt that it was the Lamb of God who was come to take away the sins of the world.  Jesus did not simply talk the talk, He walked the walk.  He demonstrated that God truly exists and that He is sovereign.  He is above and and beyond the natural world in which we exist, and yet He has the power to override the laws of nature by His very Word and touch.  He demonstrated that God loves and cares for people and has planned a way for people to be saved and delivered forever from the bondage of sin.  2)  Christ fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah.  Jesus then told the crowd of people after the two messengers had left that as it had been written previously in the Scriptures, this was He whom John was the forerunner of.  John had been sent by God to prepare the Messiah's Way, to get the people stirred up spiritually, to get them ready for a revival!  I still do not believe that John had doubts about the Messiah being his cousin Jesus.  If anyone knew what God was about to do, it would have been this servant of God.  He came declaring the kingdom of heaven, the forgiveness of sins, the repentance of sins, and did not preach overthrowing the Roman yoke.  Jesus said that His power and concern were the power and concern predicted for the Messiah, and both were unlimited.  3)  Christ preached the gospel of the Messiah.  The "poor" represented all people who are "poor in spirit."  These are the people who have need and acknowledge their need.  God's heart and compassion reach out to any who come and bring their need to Him.  I am changing tenses here, not to confuse but to drive home the point that this remains true in every age of human history.  Jesus still preaches good news to those who are poor in a spiritual sense.  4)  Christ promised both the blessing and judgment of the Messiah.  From Matthew 11:4-6 we can also see that Christ referred to the blessing of the Spirit, of salvation, of God's care and love for people.  However, Jesus also predicted that the Messiah is to fulfill the judgment of God when He returns: fire, wrath, condemnation for those who do not believe (review Matthew 1:18; 3:11; 11:1-6; 12:16; 22:42).

       Christ in verse 22 told them that His actions were prophesied by the prophets (Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1-2; Psalm 72:2; 146:8; Zechariah 11:11).  But we must see clearly here that Jesus stressed the personal ministry and not a political ministry.  He omitted Isaiah 61:1 so that they would not jump to the conclusion that He was there to become a political leader of a cause.  Christ worked to focus attention away from the wrong concepts of what the Messiah was going to do.  The Messiah had come in the power of God, reaching out to individuals, saving and restoring them, not reaching out to mobilize people into an army that would drive out the Roman occupiers and enslavers.  

       We see Christ turning back to the multitude to ensure that they did not misunderstand all that had been spoken between Himself and the messengers from John the Baptist.  If the crowd questioned whether John was the prophet to pave the way for the Messiah then they would begin to also question whether Jesus was the true Messiah.  This sort of questioning would not simply run its course among those in the crowd, but it would begin to spread among those who had previously believed.  How fickle are people?  How easily do people forget all of the awesome things done and only focus upon the weak moment?    In essence Jesus reprimanded the crowd.  He validated John and his mission.  He pointed out to them the scriptures that both John and He had already fulfilled before their eyes, validating their claims to be the Forerunner and the Messiah.  What are the things which we have seen of John?  
     
                                   * That John was a man of conviction and staunchness, he was a reed not shaken by the wind.
                                   * That John's conviction of him being the forerunner proves Jesus is the Messiah.
                                   * That John's conviction of the Messiah coming proves Jesus is the Messiah.
                                   * That John's conviction that Jesus was the Lamb of God proves Jesus is the Messiah.
                                   * That John's staunchness in standing up to the religionists proves that Jesus is the Messiah.
                                   * That John's staunchness in standing up to Herod proves Jesus is the Messiah

       We continue to see that John was a man of self-denial and sacrifice.  He was not someone clothed in expensive, fancy, soft, and fashionable clothing.  He denied himself and sacrificed the things of this world in order to carry out the work of God assigned to him, to accomplish it as best he could.  John was a prophet, sent on a specific mission by God.  He proclaimed the Word of God clearly and boldly, his proclamation could not be denied.  Yet he was more than simply a prophet.  He was the subject of prophecy as well as the messenger of it.  He was the herald who brought the message to the world that the Lord had come.  By doing this John excelled over all of the previous prophets sent by God.  These earlier prophets had only foreseen the Messiah's coming, John had seen the Messiah come.  John was the true forerunner, proclaiming that Jesus was coming after him.  I may have already given these passages, but here they are again: The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3)."  "Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, he shall come, says the LORD of hosts (Malachi 3:1)."  "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  For this is He that was spoken of by the prophet Esias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make His paths straight (Matthew 3:1-3)."  "And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17)."   

       Finally, we see that the invasion of Jesus Christ into human history divided time and the ages.  The period of history before Jesus came is known as the age of promise.  But since Jesus' coming, men are now living in the time and age of God's kingdom.  John the Baptist lived in the age of promise.  The disciples of Jesus live in the age of God's kingdom.  Therefore it can be said that the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than the greatest of the prophets who lived during the age of promise.  The reason?  Jesus Christ.  Knowing Jesus personally makes all the difference in the privileges of a person.  The citizen of God's Kingdom knows the presence of Christ within his/her body in the Person of the Holy Spirit, and he/she knows the active rule and reign of God in life (I Corinthians 6:19-20, John 14:16-18, 20, 23).  Those who lived in the age of promise only had the hope of the promise given.  "Whom [the prophets] having not seen, you love; in Whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.  Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come to you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.  To them it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to us they did minister the things, which are now reported to you by them that have preached the gospel to you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into (I Peter 1:8-12)."

       So you can see how we today benefit from the prophecies handed down to us from ancient times in Judaism.  The prophets could not discern the length of time in Christ's ministry.  The gap of time that must pass between His sacrifice on the cross and His return as the King who rules forever and ever was undetectable to them.  This gap only was revealed by Christ at an appropriate time when people would be able to understand what was happening, and what was still to happen.  Even the angels did not know how God was exactly going to reconcile His creation with Himself.  They simply knew that He was going to do this.  When they were informed at the appointed time, elation filled heaven and all of its host.  The waiting was finally over, redemption would come to humanity and the entire created universe.  Exciting times!  Exhilarating times!  

    That is all for today, beloved.  Next time I will look at the next passage in which Jesus reveals God's verdict upon "this generation and age."  Grace and peace be with you all.  My prayers go out to all people living in the Boston metropolitan area.  Stay safe, remain unafraid, remain steadfast in your faith in Christ, allow the police to do their jobs.   I have walked Harvard Square, Porter Square, the Back Bay, Boston Common, driven Mass Ave, and it was troubling to see how empty those areas were today.  Troubling times seem to be upon us all.  But still God remains in control and is always with those who believe in Christ Jesus.  

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Apr 17th - 10:34PM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    Continuing with Luke 7:13...

       The Greek word for "compassion" is esplagchnisthe, meaning to be moved inwardly, to yearn with tender mercy, affection, pity, empathy, compassion.  It is the center of a person's affections.  It is the deepest movement of emotions possible.  This movement inwardly within Christ Jesus then led Him to utilize His great power.  Three surprising things can be seen here.  1)  The power of Jesus Christ to by-pass traditional beliefs.  In that day people believed that a person become polluted simply by touching a corpse.  That person became ceremonially unclean, unacceptable to God.  By touching the bier and the body Jesus demonstrated that He possessed the right and the power to override religious laws and beliefs.  He was the Sovereign Power over even religious beliefs and over death and life.  2)  The power of Jesus Christ to stop the death processional.  Did you notice that the pallbearers stopped; they stood still.  They obeyed His touch, could not move any further.  Perhaps one reason they halted was out of respect for one who approached to see who had died.  Yet, it also shows the willingness and obedience on their part, something which was essential for Jesus to then raise the dead son.  We, too, must be willing and obedient if we wish to be raised from the "dead."  At some point each of us must stop moving around and quiet ourselves, remove life's distractions far, far, away.  Then we will be able to seek out God and hear Him when He answers our questions.  3)  The power of Jesus Christ to raise the dead.  All it took was the command, the simple, powerful Word of Christ that raised that dead son of a widow.  "Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears My Word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life.  Truly, truly, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is come, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.  For as the Father has life in Himself; so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.  Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation (John 5:24-29)."  

       Finally, in verses 16-17 we discover the response of the people to this magnificent display of God's resurrecting power.  The fear of God is instilled in all of them.  The Greek word phobos means a fear of reverence and of awe.  Upon witnessing the dead man sit up and speak the "fear" of God was struck into the peoples' hearts.  They glorified God, or more properly put, they began to glorify God and then continued to glorify God.  The people believed Jesus to be the great prophet.  They acknowledged that God was dealing with them.  A wide spread revival was going on throughout all of Israel.  The message of John the Baptist had previously been heard by untold multitudes pouring out of the cities to hear him.  Now Jesus was affecting the lives of thousands upon thousands of people in all parts of the nation.  Many people felt that God was now visiting and dealing with Israel once more.  These people then went and bore witness everywhere.  It was a time of excitement, of renewed possibilities.

    "And the disciples of John shared these things with John.  And John calling two of his disciples to him sent them to Jesus, to ask, Are You He that should come?  or do we look for another?  When the men were come to Him, they said, John the Baptist has sent us to You, asking, Are You He that should come? or do we look for another (7:18-20)?"  

       There are always people who question the Messiahship of Christ Jesus.  It may be out of rebellion or in moments of weakness and despair, but the questions do come up.  Some believe that even John the Baptist had doubts, that he too was expecting the Messiah to come and execute divine judgment upon the Romans and the Herodians.  But how could that be concluded from a careful consideration of John's basic message about the Lamb of God?  John preached about repentance from sin, make straight the ways of the Lord, Salvation draws near.  John did not preach rebellion, violence, or retribution.  John preached the coming kingdom of heaven.  He exhorted people to prepare their hearts to receive their coming King, to cleanse themselves from their sins.  

       Now, God respects honest questions that are put before Him.  It is rebellion of the heart which He judges.  John, being locked up in prison can't see who this Jesus is that everyone is so excited about, so he sends two of his disciples out to verify this man's identity.  John wished to verify if this was the One to whom he was the Forerunner, if this was his own cousin, Jesus Christ.  John's followers obviously kept bringing him news about what Jesus was doing and saying.  Not surprisingly, John was anxious to learn about the progress of Jesus and the Messianic movement.  I believe that John wasn't puzzled, perplexed, or disillusioned by what he heard Jesus was saying and doing.  Being stuck in jail forced John to send people to verify that Jesus was indeed the One promised to come and save people from their sins.  Several individuals had already claimed to have been the Messiah, misled many people, and caused plenty of misery so John was needing to properly identify Jesus.  John was no longer mystified, puzzled, or questioning what Jesus claimed when his messengers returned to him with Jesus' words.  Today's scholars and theologians may be puzzled, mystified, and confused by Jesus' actions and words, but John the Baptist was not.  Notice that the messengers did not say, "Are You He that should come: or do I look for another?"  The pronoun used was "we."  John was asking on behalf of his followers who were still questioning the legitimacy of Jesus' claims.  God expects each of us to ask that very same honest question of Him today.  Is Jesus the One promised to come and set us free from sin?  Or do I continue to seek after another?  You need seek no farther than Jesus Christ for truth, life, and the Way.  Jesus is the source of forgiveness for sin, for eternal life, for healing, for freedom from bondage to sin.  

    That is all for today, beloved.  I pray for all those who were killed or injured in the bombings up in Boston, Massachusetts.  May God reveal His love and compassion to the families and friends of those who have been forced to suffer pain and loss through this tragedy.  May God begin to heal those who are suffering now, and reassure those who love Him that He is always there with them.  Grace and peace be with you, wherever on this planet you may happen to be at this time!  

    ~Eric


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    Tue, Apr 16th - 7:01AM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "And it came to pass the next day, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and many people.  Now when He came close to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and many people of the city was with her.  And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said to her, Do not weep.  And He came and touched the bier: and they that carried him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say to you, Arise.  And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak.  And He delivered him to his mother.  And there came a fear on all present: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God has visited His people.  And this rumor of Him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about the city (7:11-17)."

       The most phenomenal event in all of human history is the resurrection of the dead.  It might be the fact of Jesus Christ Himself being raised from the dead, or the promise of believers one day being raised, or of Jesus raising the dead, but some people have great difficulty accepting such claims.  Luke knew this, so he helps unbelieving people.  He shares an episode that happened in the city of Nain, where a large number of people witnessed the resurrection of this widow's son.  Here is where we are shown the great compassion and power of Jesus.  

       Jesus walked to Nain, followed by a large crowd of believers and others who were curious.  Nain was supposedly around six miles from Nazareth and a day's journey from Capernaum.  Interestingly it is the same area where Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman (II Kings 4:18-37).  It was an area that had previously been exposed to the great compassion and power of God being manifested in ancient times.  There were many following Jesus who were disciples of His, as well as a huge crowd of curiosity seekers that was tagging along wherever He went.  The disciples followed Him to learn more, the unbelievers followed Him because of: curiosity, admiration, desire for something to do, impressed with His teaching, thinking He was a great prophet, a need for help, a belief in His ethics, or due to neighborly fellowship.  

       What all of them got to witness was God's immense compassion for a widow who had lost her only son.  We are shown that Jesus was touched deeply by death.  The sight of death always seemed to touch Christ's heart.  The very fact that people physically die is what brought Him from heaven to earth.  Perhaps each and every time He was confronted with death the entire scene of sin and death flashed across His mind.  Perhaps He saw man's sin and death as well as His own death upon the cross in bearing the sins and death of the entire world.  "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living (Romans 14:9)."  Jesus was also touched by a broken heart, the grieving heart of a mother.  She was a widow, which in those days meant she was not a young woman.  She had an only child, a grown son.  He had recently died, and now she was left all alone in the world, a world which was harsh and unfriendly on women.  It was a world that offered women little chance for earning a living and little help on a permanent basis.  From here on out this woman would be without any permanent companion, provider, or protector; and there was no one to carry on the family line.  Perhaps her family name would vanish with her own death.  So she was broken-hearted, full of hurt and pain, suffering anguish, without any understanding and hope.  Jesus saw all of this and was touched deeply and moved with compassion for her.  This woman was not an outcast of the city, many people came out with her in this funeral procession.  It indicates that she was a loving and caring person who had impacted many lives within the city.  So others loved and cared about her enough to come out and help her in this hour of need.  I notice in this instance that no one came and begged Jesus for any sort of help.  Jesus initiated the help Himself, acting purely out of His own love and compassion.  Why does He not act this way all of the time?  It would seem to that the woman is the difference.  Her life was apparently full of helping others and now she was to be left without any future upon the death of her only son.

       Jesus saw this in the woman and acted to remove the woman's anguish.  It was "the Lord" who saw her.  This is the first time that Luke uses the title "the Lord."  Luke identifies that it was the Sovereign Power of the universe who saw this woman's broken heart.  Jesus is the Sovereign Power of the universe, He is Jehovah.  The Lord had compassion upon this woman, which is shocking.  The One who holds sovereign power over the entire universe actually sees us and has compassion for us!  God is not far off in some distant part of the universe busy doing stuff, unattached and disinterested in what is happening upon earth and its people.  No, He is vitally interested, interested enough to be looking and seeing; and He in this case was concerned about what He saw happening.  So it was the Lord who approached the woman and spoke, giving her assurance.  This was an ordinary woman, who happened to be a widow whose son had just died.  Nothing outwardly special about her, nothing to separate her from the rest of the crowd of people coming out of Nain.  Yet God approached her and spoke to her, just as He is willing to approach us and speak to us in our hour of need as well.  Shocking!  Unnerving!  God's Word gives great assurance!  We need to not forget this fact: God is vitally interested in the affairs of people, even the troubles of simple people.  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword (Romans 8:35)?"  "For we do not have a high priest which can't be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15)."  

       That is all for today, beloved!  This day I must remember that Jesus Christ sees my affairs, that He is vitally interested in what happens to me.  I must understand that He could very well decide to approach me and give me a word of assurance at a critical moment in order to sustain me.  Those people who today are seeking God need to understand that He is not far, far, away in some distant galaxy creating more life, or solving some problem there, and thus is not aware of them looking for Him.  He knows.  He sees. He hears.  He understands.  He will approach at the proper time.  People need to prepare themselves for the moment when He chooses to enter their lives and reveal Himself to them.  God says we are to seek Him early while He can still be found.  Once we die it becomes too late to seek Him out.  Find him now.

    ~Eric


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    Sun, Apr 14th - 1:47PM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    Continuing studying Luke 7:1-10...

       It is clearly seen in this passage that the centurion was a man who had heard about Jesus Christ and what he had heard made him feel unworthy to physically approach Him.  Luke says the centurion sent some religious leaders to approach Christ, while Matthew says that the centurion approached Christ.  What we must remain aware of is that in a dictatorial society, whatever a leader commands others to do is counted as his act, as he himself actually doing it.  Thus, the leaders are representatives for the centurion, they act in his place, and the centurion considers it his action.  
     
       We find that this centurion is in a place where he could hear about Christ.  He could hear the message of hope, and when the news came, he did not close his mind or ignore it.  He responded.   So why did the centurion feel unworthy to approach Christ directly?  He was a soldier, trained to take life and probably he was guilty of having taken multiple lives.  He had heard the message that Christ was love and brotherhood.  This centurion was a sinner, a terrible sinner, a Roman heathen, totally unworthy and rejected in the eyes of most people.  He obviously felt that Christ would reject him out of hand as well.  In light of these feelings, the centurion turned to request help from others within his sphere of influence.  He asked them to help him save his servant's life.  We see that this centurion was not too proud to seek help from others, nor did he allow his feelings of unworthiness defeat him.  What we come away from this with is that a person must expose oneself to the gospel, must be where the gospel is preached, and must humble oneself before the Lord if one wishes the blessings of God.  "But He gives more grace.  Because of this He says, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6)."  "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up (James 4:10)."  "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8)."  "For thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones (Isaiah 57:15)."  I see, therefore, that God is willing to revive my heart and spirit as long as I am humble and contrite.  Contrite is not a commonly used word in American society anymore.  It means "feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming; repentant."  Probably because it involves the sense of sin having been committed this term has fallen upon hard times in modern society.  But contriteness is something that courtroom judges look for in defendants, evidence that they are remorseful for what they have done.  To be genuinely remorseful causes the judge to consider reducing the length of imprisonment, or perhaps to even throw prison time out and only institute probation.

       It is also seen in the passage that this centurion was a man who sought God through great faith.  The centurion was not some superficial religionist, seeking personal gain.  No, he had heard about the God of Israel and quite obviously had accepted Him and rejected the gods of Rome.  He was so drawn to God that he evidently was going to let nothing stop him from discovering the truth, not even the hostility and rejection of the Jews.  So what?  Here was a Roman soldier despised by the Jews who still went and built them a synagogue as a sign of his love for their God.  The religious leaders had obviously grudgingly come to respect him.  The centurion's faith and love had to be genuine, he risked all that he was making this request.  Antisemitism was the norm, Jew and Gentile had no dealings with one another (Matthew 15:26-27; Mark 7:25, 7:27).  This centurion went so far in his worship of God that he loved those who had formerly despised and rejected him, and he did what he could to promote and elevate the worship of God's people by building  a synagogue for them.  His love and faith were so strong and publicly demonstrated that those who had despised him now felt close to him, close enough to be willing to intercede on his behalf.  "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6)."  

       Great faith is centered upon Christ Jesus.  This centurion illustrated perfectly what faith is.  It is believing that "Christ is", that He is sovereign Lord, and that all power is subject to Him.  It is believing that "Christ is," a rewarder of those that diligently seek after Him and that He will use His power on behalf of those who do seek Him with all of their heart.  This centurion diligently sought out Christ, believing that He could meet his need.  Many diligently seek God, but the centurion's faith was so much greater than most.  He believed that the Word of Christ was all that was needed.  Jesus did not have to be present for the need to be met.  As a centurion, this man had authority over other men.  All he had to do was issue an order and it was carried out, whether he was present or not.  As much as he was a sovereign commander, he clearly understood that Christ was much more the sovereign commander of all men, and need only say the word and his need would be met.  That is faith in action!  That is acknowledgment of the power and capability of Christ to do what He claims He can do.  "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18)."  "Commit your way to the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass (Psalms 37:5)."    

       Great faith stirs the great power of Christ!  Jesus openly marveled at this centurion's great faith.  Only two times do we find where Jesus is said to have marveled at people: at this centurion and at the people in Nazareth because of their unbelief.  Jesus embraced and commended the centurion.  Embraced him for his faith, not for who he was or for what he had done in the past as a soldier of Rome.  True faith is a rare thing.  Not many truly believe, even today, but belief in Christ is one of the greatest qualities of human life.  It is ignored, neglected, and even denied in today's world.  Christ commended him before other people.  There are times when recognition and commendation are to be given, but again, we must all note for what.  It is for spiritual graces, for spiritual strength.  Caution must always be exercised otherwise the temptation of pride and self-importance will begin to set in.  What was the end result for this centurion's faith?  Jesus healed his servant, and His power to meet the centurion's request proved His Messiahship, that He was truly the Son of God.  So, I have learned Jesus Christ has the power to meet my needs; however, there is one pre-requisite: faith.  I must believe that Jesus Christ can meet my needs.  There can be no room for doubt in my mind.  If that centurion could have such great faith in another people's God to heal his servant, then I most certainly can have such great faith in that same God as well!  

       That is all for this study today, beloved!  Brothers and sisters, next time I shall look at a passage that reveals to us God's power to resurrect our very lives.  Not just physically, but spiritually as well.  May God's grace and love fill you to overflowing this day!  May you feel His embrace and His touch.  

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Apr 13th - 3:43PM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "He that hears and does not do it." 

       The false disciple hears Christ Jesus but does not do what Christ says.  This person ignores what Christ says.  This person is too busy.  This person applies him/herself elsewhere.  This person does not think about consequences of his/her actions.  The false disciple is compared, as well, to a builder.  He does build a house, but builds it according to his understanding and not according to the instructions given to him by Christ.  He has been told how to build, where to build, upon what to build, and thus is expected to build according to the instructions handed out.  It is shocking to discover that he has not built a solid house.  It can be noted that this false builder chooses to not dig at all.  He chooses to erect his house upon the surface of the ground, assuming that it will never move nor be covered by water.  This illustrates both the depth of his foolishness and the shallowness of his belief in God.  Why not dig?  Less work, less time consuming, less effort required, and can finish the house quicker.  This builder fails to look ahead, to consider what the future might possibly contain.  He lays no foundation, no footing.  He had been told what to do, but he chose to ignore the Master Builder's instructions and instead rely upon his own understanding and wants.  The false disciple heard what the prophets and righteous men of old desired to hear (Matthew 13:17).  He chose to throw his privilege away, to abuse it.  The builder chose to ignore the instruction of God and to build the house his way.  We then are able to see what the results of these choices become.  The false disciple falls.  His life (house) he built collapses against the storms of life and eternity.  Floods of truth do come in our lives.  We can't stop them; if our foundation is poorly established then we will not be able to withstand them at all, we shall be swept away.  Every person's work will be made manifest.  Our work is to be tested in this life through many trials and tribulations while Christ will test it in the next life.  Great will be our fall if our life is built upon something other than Christ.  As we are informed in I Corinthians 3:13, the person who builds his/her life upon sand has to face Christ Jesus when He returns.  

       We see through several different scriptures that the person who builds upon shifting sand holds to a false trust.  That person's faith and trust are placed in the wrong thing.  "He that trusts in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch (Proverbs 11:28)."  "He that trusts in his own heart is a fool: but who ever walks wisely, he shall be delivered (Proverbs 28:26)."  "For you have trusted in your wickedness: you have said, None see me.  Your wisdom and your knowledge, it has perverted you; and you have said in your heart, I am, and none else beside me (Isaiah 47:10)."  "And they come to you as the people come, and they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness (Ezekiel 33:31)."  Finally, we see that the person who builds upon the sands of this world of sin will fall. It is inevitable, it is unavoidable.  "The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness (Proverbs 11:5)."  "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work remain which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire (I Corinthians 3:13-15)."  "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard Him (Hebrews 2:3)?"

    "Now when He had ended all His sayings in the audience of the people, He entered Capernaum.  And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear to him, was sick, and ready to die.  And when he heard of Jesus, he sent to Him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant.  And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him instantly, saying, that he was worthy for whom He should do this:  For he loves our nation, and he has built us a synagogue.  Then Jesus went with them.  And when He was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, Lord, do not trouble Yourself: for I am not worthy that You should enter into my home:  For this reason I did not think myself worthy to come to You: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.  For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it.  When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned Himself, and said to the people that followed Him, I say to you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.  And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick (Luke 7:1-10)."  

       Jesus finds great faith in a Roman centurion, a soldier.  Jesus was returning to Capernaum, His "headquarters."  This passage demonstrates clearly that Christ meets the needs of everyone---Jew, Gentile, man, woman, child, servant, slave, sick or healthy.  You can be a leader or a follower, ruler or subject.  Christ bridges the gaps, prejudices, and divisions among people.  The only essential to obtaining His help:  faith in Him.  A person must have faith in Christ and His power.  This is clearly shown in what happened between this centurion and Jesus.  

       We see that great faith cares deeply for people.  This centurion was a man who cared deeply for people.  His concern wasn't simply about some servant of his, it was a "dear" servant.  This term meant one who was esteemed, honored, precious, prized.  Back in that society a slave was nothing, only a tool or a thing to be used as the owner wished.  The slave had no rights, not even the right to remain alive.  In that day, an owner could mistreat and/or kill a slave without having to give any sort of account.  But this particular centurion loved his slave, had deep concern and care for the slave.  Less bother would have been to simply allow the slave to die and dispose of him afterwards.  But this centurion cared, enough to personally look after him in his own home and to send friends to beg Christ to come and heal his dear servant.  Here was a call to Christ that resonated with His Spirit.  This was an encounter that had been on God's calendar for quite some time, and the appointed time had finally come.  Each of us must remain aware of the fact that key moments in our lives are appointed by God.  That moment when we first give our hearts to Christ, that moment when we surrender to His call into ministry, that moment when He calls us out into the mission field.  Each of these moments are "crossroads" at which we are asked to make a choice.  Follow the call of Christ or else follow the call of someone or something else.

       That is all for today my friends.  I find that I must carefully consider the great faith of this centurion,  a soldier who was used to giving commands and having them instantly obeyed.  This sort of man had found faith in Jesus Christ and understood how unworthy he was to be in the actual presence of Christ.  What about me?  Do I always clearly comprehend how unworthy I am to stand in the presence of God?  Sadly, no.  Or do I lose sight of this essential point?  Do I become so bold as to think that, aside from having Christ dwell in me, I have suddenly become perfect, holy, and acceptable in the eyes of God?  Do I allow myself to fall victim to pride?  Do I become swayed by public opinion of my Christian work?  I hope not.  Grace and peace be with you this day!

    !Eric


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    Fri, Apr 12th - 6:59AM

    STUDY IN LUKE



       As I study this passage in Luke chapter six, I find that the builder chose the rock for his/her foundation.  The builder didn't just accidentally strike it while digging for the footing; the builder knew the rock was there and chose it as the right foundation for his/her house.  The builder deliberately chose the most secure and sure foundation available.  The builder dug deep to reach this rock, taking no chances.  The builder wanted to be absolutely sure and secure, as sure and secure as possible; thus he/she dug as deep as possible.  The builder was willing to put both the time and effort and cost into digging for rock.  It was difficult, it was time consuming, it was exhausting, and it was expensive.  Yet the builder did it.  Why?  Because it was his/her house and he/she wanted to be absolutely sure and secure.  This builder then lays the foundation upon the rock.  Christ Jesus is the only foundation upon which we can build and structure our personal lives.  "Other foundations no person can lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20; I Peter 2:4-5)."

       The Lord Jesus Christ is not a lifeless rock, but a "living stone" (I Peter 2:4).  When I come to Him "as a living stone," I am "built up a spiritual house (I Peter 2:5)."  "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow by it: if so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.  To whom you come, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, you also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:2-5)."

     In real life, the true disciple stands.  His/her life that has been built stands against the storms of life and eternity.  But notice that I am not exempt from "the storms of life."  Just because I chose to build my life upon the Rock does not mean that troubles will not come.  In fact, it is because storms will come that I must choose to lay my foundation upon the Rock.  I know that it rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).  All sorts of "storms" will come, storms of sickness, sin, temptation, tension, disappointment, suffering, death, complaints, accidents, mistreatment, abuse, hospitalization, cancer, catastrophes, wars, job loss, loss of loved ones, and persecution.  I must build my life upon Jesus Christ.  No other foundation in life can withstand the ferocity of the coming storms of trouble, afflictions, evil, and death.  "Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes (Matthew 21:42)?"  "Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are His.  And, Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity (II Timothy 2:19)."  

       When the storms of life come, I will not fall if I have built my life upon Christ Jesus.  Why is this?  God accepts us in Christ; He adopts us as a child of His.  "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father (Galatians 4:4-6)!"  God promises to provide us with the necessities of life.  "But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33; Matthew 6:25-34)."  God promises to work all things out for good to those who build wisely upon Christ.  "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)."  God blesses those who hear the Word of God and keep it (Luke 11:28)."  And Christ promises joy to those who hear and receive the things He said.  "These things have I spoken to you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (John 15:11; John 13:17)."  Joy would appear to not be a passing feeling but something that remains within a person at all times.  I may not always be happy, but I can always be filled with joy from Christ Jesus.  Was Jesus always happy at the behavior of those all around Him?  I think not.  He loved all of them, but their conduct left Him less than overjoyed.  The same happens with each of us in our lives.  But we can be filled with the joy of Jesus Christ through all of the storms that enter, and pass through, our lives.  

       That is all the time I have this morning, beloved.  Lots to ponder concerning what we base our life upon, how we construct our life, and do we think that "storms" will never enter our life once we accept Jesus Christ.  Next time I will write about the false disciple of Christ and the consequences of building upon no foundation.  Grace and peace be with you today!

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Apr 11th - 7:01AM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "And why call Me, Lord, Lord, and don't do the things which I say?  Whosoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings, and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man which built a house, and dug deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood came, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.  But he that hears and does not do, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the ground; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately the house fell; and the ruin of that house was great (6:46-49)." 

       We read in this passage of two different approaches to constructing lives being illustrated by the physical construction of a home.  How stable and resilient a life will be is determined by what sort of foundation is initially laid down.  What type of life we will live is determined by the type of spiritual foundation we have chosen to base our life upon.

       Jesus Christ was a carpenter by trade and profession.  He knew about building houses.  He therefore knew quite well some important matters about erecting a house.  One was in hearing instructions.  One must hear and follow (obey) the instructions given.  One must hear and build upon what he hears for future building.  Builders must always be "laying up on store for themsevles a good foundation agaist the time to come...(I Timothy 6:19)."  It is critical to take care in selecting the foundation.  Selecting the location and material determine the future of the house.  To stand against the storm one must build the house upon a solid foundation.  There is only one foundation upon which to build: the rock (I Corinthians 3:11).  One must make his call and choice to build sure (II Peter 1:10).  One must know that building upon rock takes time and skill.  When endeavoring to build one must count the cost.  It is critical to know before beginning a project whether or not one will be able to complete it.  To begin a work and not be able to finish it brings mockery and ridicule (Luke 14:28-30). 

       Jesus is teaching that everyone has a house, a life to build.  How he/she builds that life determines his/her destiny, not just for this life, but for all of eternity.  Why?  Because how they build their life makes all the difference between success and failure, life and death, reward and loss, acceptance and rejection, standing and falling.  We are taught that there is only One foundation for every life: Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 3:11).  He is the Rock upon which both individuals and congregations are to build (Matthew 16:18).  Everyone either builds upon this world's beliefs or upon Christ Jesus, heaven itself.  Jesus teaches that there are two kinds of builders.  The wise builder who hears and obeys versus the foolish builder who hears but does not obey.  But what does this have to do with my life as a Christian?

       Verse 46 teaches us that the foundation of discipleship is obedience.  The true disciple of God lays down a solid foundation while the false disciple lays down no foundation at all.   The simple fact is that if a person wishes to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, that person has to do what Jesus  says to do.  There is no picking and choosing.  We see that both builders in the above passage call Jesus "Lord."  Both acknowledge Him as Lord, both pray and call Him "Lord, Lord."  Both witness before others that He is Lord.  Both are known as followers of Jesus.  However, Jesus questions disobedience and disloyalty.  He rebukes and warns anyone who calls Him Lord and does not do what He says.  As Lord He is due allegiance and expects loyalty from all, especially those who call Him Lord.  Profession of words obviously is not enough.  Repetition of one's profession is insufficient.  A person can cry in front of the entire world and still be questioned and warned by Christ: "Why don't you do the things which I have said?"  A person is cheating him/herself to profess and not obey.  Profession without obedience gives a false security; it makes one feel like he/she is acceptable to God when he/she is not.  Christ states that he/she is not, for the only foundation to discipleship, the only acceptable way to approach God, is to do the things which Christ says. 

       So what?  A true disciple of Christ chooses to lay a foundation, and to do so upon the Rock.  The true disciple comes to Christ, hears Christ and does what Christ says.  All three of these steps are critically important and can't be skipped.  Each disciple is like a builder.  The disciple builds a "house."  This house is the disciple's life which is to be built.  Once we go out into the world we can't escape this fact.  We all must build our lives, and how we go about building our lives determines our eternal destination.  God instructs a person how to build a life.  The person hears and follows the instructions or hears and rejects the instructions and builds his/her own way.  The instructions, the words of Christ, are the materials which determine the structure and fate of a person's life. How a person responds to the sayings of Christ determines a person's final destination: heaven or eternal separation from God.  The true disciple digs deep in order to lay the foundation for their life.  A proper foundation is not the ground.  The most costly thing to a building constructer is striking rock for it is difficult to remove.

    That is all for right now, beloved.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Apr 9th - 9:36PM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    Continuing Luke 6:39-45...

       Jesus warned against being "blind."  Blindness leads to two tragic ends.  1)  Both people walk in darkness, leader and follower.  Being a leader does not guarantee that that he/she walks in the Light.  Any leader can be blind, and if the leader is blind, then the follower will remain blind as well.  For the follower to ever see, the leader must see and have his/her spiritual sight.  2)  Both people stumble and fall "into the ditch."  Being a leader is not a guarantee that one will not fall.  The spiritually blind person will stumble and fall no matter who he/she is, leader or follower.  Leaders will especially stumble and fall if they are on strange or unfamiliar terrain.  The Truth of Christ is totally unknown terrain to the "blind" teacher, irregardless of his/her profession.  "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say to you, That except your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19-20)."  "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn their ears away from the Truth, and shall be turned to fables (II Timothy 4:3-4)."  "And the light shone in darkness; and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:5)."  "But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness.  If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness (Matthew 6:23)."  "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you from now on do not walk as other Gentiles walk, in vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart (Ephesians 4:17-18)."

       A second rule is to watch the life of the Master, of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  "Perfect" (katertismenos) means to complete, render fit, mend.  It is a common word often used for mending, repairing, or restoring broken things such as nets (Matthew 4:21) or men (Galatians 6:1).  This point about being perfect and becoming as the master, the disciple not being above the master, can be seen as well in Matthew 10:24-25.  This is not a matter of the disciple's life being all roses and sunshine all of the time that they follow their Master, Jesus Christ.  No, there is no escaping the fact that there will be persecution.  The disciple is not above persecution.  The Lord suffered persecution, so will His disciples.  The disciple must therefore expect, anticipate, persecution for he/she shall be persecuted even as his/her Lord was persecuted.  If we belong to Christ, if we are His ambassadors to a darkened world, then all that He is and all that He stands for is what we are and what we stand for.  Therefore, whatever caused men to persecute Him, the same is in each of us.  They will persecute us for the very same thing and for the very same reason they persecuted Jesus Christ.  

       We are called by God's very own Son, the Master and Lord of the universe!  It is our privilege to have Him as our Lord and Savior.  The believer shares in the sufferings of Christ.  Matthew says that "it is enough" in 10:25.  God has done enough for the believer.  He has called the believer to an unbelievable height.  The believer is now just like his Master and his Lord.  God has accepted the believer as an equal to His own dear Son (Romans 8:16-17; Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 1:5-6).  So what?  This means that persecution is a privilege.  When we are persecuted we are walking in the highest and most noble company possible---God's own dear Son.  Christ calls us to live righteously in a world that does not want righteousness.  The very fact that the world reacts against us does not do away with our high calling.  It only enhances our call, magnifies our call, and sets it even higher.  The evil behavior of the world shows just how precious and how greatly to be desired our high calling is.  "For to you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29)."  To live righteously in a world that does not want righteousness assures persecution.  We believers are of His household.  If the Master and Lord was abused, His disciples and servants will likewise be abused.  If the world dragged the Master out to kill Him, then they will drag the servant out to be killed.  Keep ever in mind the terrible wickedness of some people: to be so immersed in wickedness that they curse the Son of God.  Keep in mind the unbelievable patience and forbearance of Christ: that He would allow Himself to be cursed and abused for our sake.  The strong lesson in this for us: no matter how severe the persecution, Christ has gone before us.  He is our forerunner; He has already suffered the depth of indignity and ridicule.  The believer can study out the remainder of this passage in Matthew to discover the encouragement contained within it.  

       So, the disciple today can't expect to have more comfort, rest, or pleasure than Jesus Christ had.  Christ suffered, humbled, and denied Himself for the sake of the world and its needs.  The disciple does the same, he/she denies him/herself in order to reach the world for his/her Lord and Savior.  "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8)."  Another rule here is to watch hypocrisy and criticism of others.  Jesus was speaking to everyone seated before Him.  No one was exempted, everyone was to watch out for hypocrisy and criticism of others.  Whatever is in a person's eye, even if it is only a speck, is serious.  Even a speck causes the eye to physically water, squint, blink, and close.  The speck reduces a person's sight (life, walk) and holds him/her back from full sight and service for God.  We must notice that both persons in the parable, the one being criticized and the criticizer, do have a definite problem.  Both have a need to clean the "dirt" out of their eyes.  Neither one appears to be free from "dirt."  No person serves in perfect obedience and ministry to the Lord.    There is at least a speck in everyone's eye.  The criticizer has the biggest problem to overcome.  Criticism of others is a "beam."  Before criticizing someone else I might only have a speck in my eye, but afterwards I have a beam in it.  That is like going from having a piece of sawdust in my eye to having an entire wood splinter stuck in it.  Not good.  The beam in my eye therefore blinds me to my need for continued confession and repentance of the sin still existing in my life.  The criticizer is a hypocrite.  He/she is chock full of faults and coming up short, yet he/she finds fault with others.  Grumbling, griping, condemning, judging, and even censoring others while being just as guilty in so many other areas of life.  I can't set myself up as the Judge, as the one who has the right to judge others perfectly.  Yeah, so what?  I must therefore examine myself first.  Judging myself first will enable me to see clearly just how to help others.  Rigid examination of self is required.  Simple honesty and thought say that a person must clean the dirt out of his/her own eye before seeing clearly enough to help others clean their eyesight.  

       Christ then announces to us that we are to watch the "fruit" that a person produces in his/her life.  Every tree is identified by its fruit, its core nature.  I know that apples are not to be found on an orange tree.  I know that strawberries will not be had from an oak tree.  Trees are used Biblically to represent people.  A good person is not juded by a bad piece of fruit here and there, but by the good fruit that he/she bears.  Every tree produces a few bad fruit, yet the tree is not thrown away.  When a tree produces more bad fruit than good fruit, then it is rejected.  When testing and examining people, we must always observe not single acts here and there; but the trend, the entire behavior of their lives.  It is also seen here that every tree reproduces after its own kind, or nature.  How can it be known if a person is false?  One revealing evidence is the fruit that he/she gathers.  A person is known by the "fruit" he/she feeds upon and then the fruit that he/she feeds to others.  If a person feeds upon something other than God's Word that is one way to tell, while if they teach others to do the same it is another way to tell.  The thorns and thistles of the parable are false food, worldliness while grapes and figs are true food, spiritual.  The one true food for the soul of man/woman is the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.  A person must feed upon the truth of Jesus Christ and His Word.  Any other spiritual food that is regularly consumed will choke the life out of the soul of those who eat it.  Finally, every person reproduces what is to be found in his/her heart.  Jesus is dealing here with a person's mouth, the words that are spoken.  A person speaks what is in his/her heart.  Those words expose his/her heart, the kind of person he/she is. 

     A person's words reveal these five things about them:
    a)  their words expose their true character: good or bad, kind or cruel.
    b)  their words expose what is deep down within their heart: motives, desires, ambitions, or the lack of initiative.
    c)  their words expose their spirit: what they believe and pursue, the legitimate or illegitimate, the intelligent or ignorant, the true or false, the beneficial or wasteful.
    d)  their words expose their true nature: what they really are like beneath the surface and the masks that they wear.
    e)  their words expose their mind, what they think: pure or impure thoughts, dirty or clean thoughts, righteous or unrighteous thoughts. 

    In summary, we are to watch for blindness in ourselves, our leaders, and in our fellow brethren.  We are to watch the Master at all times for our leadership, our example.  He is our Guide in how to deal with sin in the lives of others, as well as in ourselves.  We are to never forget that as Christ's ambassadors we represent Him each and every day, that whatever was done to Him will be done to us IF we are living as He lived.  We are also to watch out for the signs of hypocrisy in ourselves and in others.  Criticism of others must send up a red flag each time that we engage in it.

    That is all for today beloved!  I couldn't post anything else yesterday due to loss of internet access.  I am a captive of technology!  Grace and peace be with you all, the peace of Christ Jesus that surpasses all human understanding!  

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Apr 8th - 11:49AM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "And He spoke a parable to them, Can the blind lead the blind?  shall they not both fall into the ditch?  The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.  And why observe the mote that is in the eye of your brother, but do not perceive the beam that is in your own eye?  Either how can you say to your brother, Brother, let me pull the mote out of your eye, when you yourself do not notice the beam that is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first cast out the beam from your own eye, and then you shall see clearly in order to pull out the mote that is in your brother's eye.  For a good tree does not bring forth corrupt fruit; neither does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  For every tree is known by his own fruit.  For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush do they gather grapes.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (6:36-45)."

       We find in this passage the rules for discipleship.  There are four basic rules:  1)  Watch blindness in one's leaders and how one leads.  2)  Watch the Master (Christ).  3)  Watch hypocrisy and the criticism of others.  4)  Watch the fruit that a person brings forth.  In order to live life to the fullest and be assured of eternal life we must heed these four warnings/rules.

       First, we must always be watchful of spiritual blindness.  This can appear at home, at work, in the neighborhood, in church congregations, in church leadership, and in oneself.  Can the blind lead the blind?  In the various forms of government we must always be watchful of blindness at work, whether this is local, county, state, or national.  In the above passage, who are the blind?  They are the leaders: preachers, priests, teachers, high priests, parents---anyone who has influence or responsibility for anyone else.  If I am blind to the sinful behavior existing in my personal life, I can very easily lead someone else down the exact same path that I have been walking.  But we also see here that blindness can be found in those who follow: the pupil, learner, listener, seeker, child---anyone who looks up to someone else for guidance and teaching.  What are some reasons for being blind?  A few come to mind:  a person can be born blind, be handicapped, never having had the opportunity to see the truth of things, never having been exposed to the Light.  A person can blind because of some injury.  They used to be able to see and had every opportunity to see, but now they are blind because:  they injured themselves by some careless act.  Or they were blinded by someone else, either deliberately or carelessly.  Or they were blinded by nature---circumstances, heritage, location kept them from ever having the opportunity to escape from the darkness.  A person can be blind because they want and choose to be in the dark.  The dark is their choice; they find the dark is enjoyable and comfortable; therefore they refuse to come out into the Light and to see the truth of things.  Finally, a person can be blind because they close their eyes or turn their head and look away.  They just refuse to see the Light, the Truth.  

       More to come later today.


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    Thu, Apr 4th - 9:34PM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "For if you love them which love you, what thanks do you have?  for sinners also love those that love them.  And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thanks do you have?  for sinners also do even the same.  And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks have you? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much back again.  But you love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.  Be merciful therefore, as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven:  Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give to your bosom.  For with the same measure that you give out therewith it shall be measured to you in return (6:32-38)."

       We find a contrast of how the world behaves and how the believer in Christ is to behave.  The logical argument is a strong one: a believer's behavior must surpass a sinner's behavior.  Sinners love those who love them.  Sinners do good to those who do good to them.  Sinners lend to secure an interest or favor or some other type of gain.  The shocking truth revealed here is that believers who do not live as Christ says are doing nothing more than sinners.  The world sees virtue and goodness as love; they see doing good and lending as being neighborly.  Without a doubt it is good to love, to do good, and to lend to those who are in need.  But loving, doing good, and lending are simply not enough.  These acts do not get a person into heaven.  It is not what Christ Jesus came and did.  Christ denied Himself in order to win the entire world.  He loved His enemies and did good to those who hated Him.  In a very real sense, He loaned His life to the world.  "Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6)."  "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)."  "When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son (Romans 5:10)."  The believer in Christ is to do the very same as Christ: deny and sacrifice themselves to win the world and offer them the privilege of being saved to the utmost.  To become a true follower of Christ it takes the denial and sacrifice of oneself for the sake of reaching the unlovely for Jesus, those who are enemies, haters, thieves, cursers, despiteful, needful, borrowers, selfish, persecutors. 

       So what do I gain by living as Jesus said?  A reward.  The obedient follower shall receive a threefold reward.  They shall receive a great reward.  All that they suffer and lose here on earth will be restored one day.  Not only will what was lost be restored, but it will be restored well beyond what they have lost.  They will receive an enormous reward for having obeyed the Lord and for having sacrificed in order to meet the needs of a lost and dying world.  The reward will be eternal life and inheriting all that God the Father has.  "Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears My word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life (John 5:24)."  "That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7).'  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you (I Peter 1:3-4)."  They will be the child of the Highest, of God Himself.  They shall be acting as God's child.  The privilege of actually behaving as God behaves!  The privilege of demonstrating and showing mercy!  These actions will stir great assurance and confidence within the believer.

       And what of the disciple who lives as Jesus said?  They shall receive the promise of reciprocal behavior, of receivng back just what they have given.  Persoanl relationships are involved in reciprocal behavior.  The behaivors covered are that of judging, condemning, and forgiving others.  If we judge and condemn and are unforgiving of other people, then both people and God wil treat us exactly the same.  It will be a double whammy that we must experience.  If we do not judge and condemn people, but we forgive them, then God and people will not judge and condemn us, they will be forgiving.  Property is involved in reciprocal behavior as well.  The believer is to give and to possess a spirit of giving and not being selfish nor a hoarder.  If they give, they shall receive back much, much, more.  In fact, it states that their cup shall run over.  God intends to pour out the good things without restriction into the life of the believer who is forgiving of others.  The principle is clear then, and it is challenging.  A person receives what they give.  What a person puts into life is what they get out of life. 

       That is all for today, beloved!  Next time will be a time of discerning a parable about hypocrisy.  May grace and peace and love be abundant in your life this day!

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Apr 2nd - 10:43PM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "But I say to you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.  And to him that strikes you on one cheek also offer the other; and him that takes away your cloak do not forbid him to take your coat as well.  Give to every man that asks of you; and of him that takes away your goods do not ask for them back.  And as you would that men should do to you, do you to them likewise (6:27-31)."

       These verses begin a greater passage in which Jesus teaches about the new principles of life.  These new principles are shocking, they go against every fiber of our society and every fiber of a person's being.  People rebel by their very nature against what Jesus Christ is teaching; but the new principles must be heeded for they are the salvation of society, of nations, of the entire world, and the only hope of man for life.

       Who was Christ speaking these words to?  His disciples.  Yes, other people gathered all around them could also hear what He was saying to the disciples, but His words were directed towards His chosen.  Why do I say this?  Because back in verse 20 we were told that Jesus turned His eyes upon His disciples and began to speak.  This is a continuation of that moment in time.  He knew that some would not hear what He was saying.  Even if they were disciples, some just closed their ears if they did not like what they were hearing.  What Jesus was beginning to preach was a complete change from the way people and society lived.  People were about to hear about things they had never ever heard about before.  For some, it would be too much to bear and they would not continue to listen.  

       What were these new principles?  Christ touched upon five specific behaviors.  "Love your enemies."  Believers are to love all people, even enemies.  They are to respect and honor all people (I Peter 2:17).  Every human being has something that is commendable, even if it is nothing but the fact that they are a fellow human being with a soul to be reached for God.  Loving your enemies goes against human nature.  We are a people of reaction: to hate, strike back, and wish hurt/harm to those who hurt us.  At best human nature treats enemies with coldness and distance.  The root of our reaction against enemies is self and bitterness.  I must point out here that love is not complacent acceptance of wickedness and license.

       One thing that believers can have for enemies is mercy and compassion.  Our enemies may choose to remain antagonistic, but we can still forgive in mercy and compassion for they know not what they are doing.  If we do not have compassion for those who hate us, we have gained nothing of the Spirit of Christ.  Without forgiving our enemies we shall not be forgiven by God for our sins.  We can't overlook that salient fact.  

       Believers are to do good to them which hate them.  Can you imagine the impact these words had upon the world of Christ's day?  They were an enslaved people to the Roman Empire, enslaved for centuries by the various kingdoms that existed after Alexander's demise.  Love my enemies?  No way!  The Romans hated the Israelites and despised them.  Yet Jesus said to love them all.  He said to do good to them.  Now, doing good goes way beyond merely saying the words; it actually does things for the person who hates you.  It means reaching out to your enemy through their family and friends, employment and business.  It means searching out ways to do good to them for you realize that they need to be reached for God.  The Christian continues to bless their enemy, always waiting for the day when the hater will be confronted by the crises that enter every person's life.  Then the Christian goes and does good, ministering as Christ Jesus ministered (Romans 12:20; I Thessalonians 5:15; Exodus 23:5; Proverbs 25:21).  

       Believers are to bless them that curse you.  What is to be my immediate reaction to people who curse me out?  Am I to respond in kind, thinking that I am justified in doing so?  No, I am to bless the one who curses me out and do so softly, using kind and reconciling words (Romans 12:14; I Peter 3:9; Proverbs 15:1).  

       Believers are to pray for others who use them despitefully.  This involves speaking to us despitefully as well as using us despitefully.  We must realize that it is an attempt to shame and hurt both our name and body.  People will try to shame, dishonor, disgrace and reproach us.  They will go even further, misusing, mistreating, abusing, attacking, and persecuting us.  So what?  Christ tells us that we pray for them.  We are to ask God to forgive them and to request that peace would exist between us and our persecutor.  We are to also ask God to lead them into salvation and correction of their behavior (Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60).  Doing this will help us to not become bitter, hostile, and reactionary.  Not doing this will inevitably lead to us becoming revengeful and trying to get even.

       "To him that strikes you on one cheek, offer them the other as well."  The word for cheek here really translates as jaw or jawbone.  It is no sissy slap on the face.  It is a strong blow, a punch and not a slap of contempt.  There is contempt and bitterness involved in the motivation of the striker, but there is also physical injury.  Christ teaches that we are not to strike back, there is to be no retaliation against bitter insults or contempt directed at us or against bodily threats or injury.  When we suffer for the gospel's sake, for our personal testimony for Christ, we are to respond to physical and verbal abuse just as our Lord did.  We are to demonstrate moral strength through a quiet and meek spirit.  We are to trust God to touch the heart of our persecutors (Matthew 27:30; John 18:22; Galatians 5:22-23; II Timothy 2:25; Proverbs 20:22; Zephaniah 2:3).

       Jesus touched upon two behaviors governing property.  Do not seek to deprive.  The Jews wore both an inner and an outer garment.  If a man took the outer garment, the believer was to offer his inner garment as well.  Why?  Jewish law allowed the inner garment to be taken as a debt or pledge, but never the outer garment.  A man might have several inner garments, but only one outer garment.  To give one's cloak is difficult.  It meant the believer did not defend, stand up, or dispute the taking of his property.  He was to forgive, and he was to give more to the person who takes.  Does this sound like what our society teaches today?   The believer was to give his coat as well if necessary.  A believer does not allow himself to get all tied up, entangled, with his rights and privileges in or out of court.  He has time only to go about his duty.  The believer is to be tied up and consumed wit living to the fullest for Christ and reaching out to a world lost and consumed with disputes and needing the peace which only God can bring.  This is a difficult teaching to embrace and enact in our lives, is it not?  But we must.

       "Give to every person that asks of you."  Oh boy.  I am going to be penniless in no time with this one!  I am to help those who have need, and I am to readily help.  Has Christ allowed us any excuses here?  No.  I am to give and not turn the person away when they ask for help.  The Bible does not instruct me to give without discretion.  "A good man shows favor, and lends: he will guide his affairs wit discretion (Psalms 112:5)."  What attitudes are to govern my giving?

    1)   I am to live in readiness to give and to lend (II Corinthians 8:11-15).  I do not live for this earth and world.  I live for God and for heaven.  My citizenship is in heaven, from where I look for the Savior.  My attachment for earthly things is only for meeting the necessities of life and for helping others.  I exist to help and to give.

    2)   I am to work to meet my own necessities and to have enough to help those who are in need.  

       "Of him that takes away your goods do not ask for them back."  Very frequently people fail to pay back what they have borrowed.  They take and keep what was borrowed, whether it be tools, clothing, food, or money.  The believer is not to demand they be returned, not if the person needs them and is going to be deprived and hurt if they are taken back.  The believer has to consider two facts: the person's need and if the person has no need, the sin of allowing license and irresponsibility versus alienating and turning the person away from one's testimony of Christ.  Christians must be very careful to not lose their chance of leading the person to Christ Jesus.  No item, no amount of money is worth another person's soul becoming forever lost.

       Then we find in verse 31 the principle that governs all behavior, the Golden Rule.  This "golden rule" is probably the most well known saying of Christ Jesus.  It is the utmost high point of ethics, behavior, righteousness, and godliness.  It is the practical statement of God's love; God has already done to us just as He wants us to do to Him.  This golden rule reveals the heart of God.  It shows us exactly how much God's heart longs for us to live and act.  In one simple sentence it reveals what love really is and what life in heaven is to be like.  It tells believers we are to live as the golden rule dictates while still living here on this earth.

       There are to be found four significant facts that set this apart from other teaching:

    a)  The golden rule is a simple statement that embraces all human behavior. All law and all love have been stated in one sentence (Matthew 7:12).

    b)  The golden rule demands true law and justice.  It is not negative and passive but still tells us how not to behave.  It restrains humanity.  It teaches people not to lie, steal, cheat, or injure.

    c)  The golden rule concerns itself with true love, with positive, active behavior.  It is more than not doing wrong, more than just doing good, for it is looking, searching, seeking for ways to do the good that you want others to do to you; and then doing that good to others.

    d)  The golden rule teaches the whole law (Matthew 22:39-40).  Each of us would enjoy having everyone else treat us perfectly; to love and care for us to the ultimate degree and to express that love and care.  The believer is to love in this way while still here on earth.  They are to give earth a taste of heaven before all things end.  People being treated in this manner and getting a taste of heaven just might then turn to God.

       Some hard teachings in these verses today!  Turn the other cheek, don't demand loaned things to be returned, give when asked, pray for those who hate me, do good to those who hate me, and love everyone!  Even love my enemies!  Can you see why it is a life-long journey?  Can you also see why many people have several stumbling blocks that they need to remove from their lives?  I know that I can see them in my own life.  This passage alone forces me to reconsider my motivations in what I do with my paycheck, what I do with my tax refund.  Am I simply collecting "toys?"  Or am I honestly on a path to being able to give to others who are in need?  My vegetable garden provides what?  My chickens are there for what?  My riding lawnmower can do what?  My trailer could do what?  My skills could provide what?  My home could be what?  

    May God give you grace and peace this day!  May He direct your steps as you walk the path He has laid out before you.  May you clearly hear His call for you to follow Him!  He desires to make a fisher of men out of you!

    ~Eric


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    About Me

    Name: Eric Rajaniemi
    ChristiansUnite ID: ejroyal
    Member Since: 2007-09-08
    Location: Bedford, Virginia, United States
    Denomination: Born-again, Church of the Brethren
    About Me: I refrain from any denomination as much as possible since my faith has to do with Jesus Christ and not denominations. My wife and I are charter members of Lake Side Church of the Brethren for they desire to follow the New Testament precepts. We hav... more

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