Sat, Jul 27th - 12:50PM
STUDY IN LUKE
I will continue with verse 41 of Luke 9. Faithless is the term thrown into the faces of the crowd, and His disciples. Jesus identifies them as being apistos, faithless, disbelieving; being without faith; being out of faith; not keeping faith, unbelieving. We can find this term used in Titus 1:15 as well. Not only does Jesus identify them as being without faith, He describes them further as diastrepho, perverse; to distort, to twist, to turn aside or away, to be torn in two, to be corrupted. It had to have been an incredibly difficult thing to hear from out of the mouth of their Messiah. Jesus was not pleased with their perceptions and unbelief in Him. Perhaps Jesus was bothered by the fact that they continued to fall far short of the mark that He had set for them to achieve. "That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philemon 2:15)." "Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw disciples away after them (Acts 20:30)." "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness, of itself, is a breach in the spirit (Proverbs 15:4)."
In this passage we then come to the healing of the child. A second rebuke of the disciples comes here in the form of of Christ's own act of healing in the face of their failure to heal the boy. Their demonstrated lack of God's power is a teaching point for us today. Is God's power sufficient to heal anyone, anywhere, anytime, of anything? Jesus healed this boy while the evil spirit was actually attacking the boy, while he was at his worst. God's power was clearly demonstrated here. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, broke the devil's power by His Word. Satan could not stand against God's Word. We are to recall that Jesus purposed to spoil principalities and powers during His manifestation within human flesh. However, Jesus did show tenderness for people by delivering the boy back into his father's care. That this event was completely out of the ordinary is demonstrated by the reactions of all of the people witnessing it happen before their very eyes. Exeplessonto depantes, meaning that they were all amazed, marvelling and astonished at the mighty power of God. The Greek word used here is megaleioteti, meaning majesty. The people marvelled at the majesty of God being demonstrated in their presence. Jesus brought honor to God the Father, not to Himself. This brings us to consider the disciples' demonstrated powerlessness in the face of this demon possession. Powerlessness is inexcusable because Christ Jesus has revealed how the believer can possess the power and strength of God. "And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief: for truly I say to you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove now to that place over there; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you. However, this kind does not go out but by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:20-21)." "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given to him from heaven (John 3:27)." "I am the vine, you are the branches: He that remains in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5)."
Finally, I see Christ's third rebuke being for a slowness to understand the Messiah's death. Clearly the disciples began to think about the earthly reign of Jesus. The power displayed showed Jesus had the ability to conquer the earth and subject all people to Himself. Their carnal hopes were stirred up within them. So Christ rebuked their thoughts of a physical and material Messiah and showed them again that God's Messiah must die in order to save the entire world.
Jesus exhorted them by telling them to let these sayings sink down into their ears. The Greek is "Put these sayings into your ears." They were to give special attention to His words. In speaking about the Son of man having to be "delivered" into the hands of men the Greek word paradidosthai meaning to be ordained, predetermined in the counsel and plan of God was used. Acts 2:23 further informs us that Christ was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God into the hands of wicked people. There was no mistake, no error, no lapse of memory on the part of Christ or of God the Father. And so we get to witness the failure of the disciples to comprehend the Messiah's death on the cross. They just did not get it, it was beyond their normal mode of thinking. Rulers simply did not give themselves over to being slaughtered on the behalf of their subjects. Understanding of this concept was hid from their minds. Why? Not because of God. The reason had to do with their unbelief and perverseness. They were blind to it. They were spiritually dull, lacking sensitivity to spiritual truths. "Then He said to them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken (Luke 24:25)." "Why do you not understand My speech? even because you can't hear My word (John 8:43)." "But the natural person does not receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him/her: neither can they know them, because they are spiritually discerned (I Corinthians 2:14)."
It is clearly seen in the final verse of this passage that the disciples knew that they were missing a vital point, but simply couldn't figure it out on their own. So they refused to ask out of fear. Is the spirit of fear a Godly thing? No, it is of Satan. God dispels feelings of being afraid, of anxiety, of panic, and replaces them with knowledge, and calm, and peace, and confidence. It is the age-old problem seen in school rooms everywhere: Refusal to ask for help in understanding something because it will show others your ignorance. People might laugh at me. People might ridicule my ignorance and/or lack of understanding. It will result in my feeling ashamed. Perhaps these disciples were feeling this way too. Not wanting to open themselves up to ridicule and shame in admitting their lack of spiritual understanding. I hope and pray that I never reach such a time in my life. God help me to avoid this.
That is all for today, beloved. May God's grace and peace be with you and keep you. May Christ guide your footsteps and His Word be a light to your path.
Fri, Jul 26th - 6:49AM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met Him. And behold, a man of the company cried out, Master, I beseech You, look upon my son: for he is my only child. And a spirit took him, and he suddenly cried out; and it tore him so that he foamed again, and bruising him hardly departed from him. And I begged Your disciples to cast him out; and they could not. And Jesus said in response, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring your son here. And as he was yet coming, the devil threw him down, and tore him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father. And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered at all of things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, Let these sayings sink down into your comprehension: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they did not understand this statement, and it was hid from them, that they didn't perceive it: and they feared to ask Him of that saying (9:37-45)."
This healing took place the day after the transfiguration upon the mount, probably in the morning. Jesus and the three disciples had come down from the mount and were met by a large crowd of people, including the other disciples who had not been invited up the mount the day before. Out of this mass of humanity comes a man, calling out for Jesus Christ. He is desperate. This is known from the use of "cried" and "begged." This man was shouting and begging for Jesus to help his afflicted son. This man begs Jesus to "look upon" his son. Epiblepsai is a medical term meaning to carefully examine the patient, to look upon with pity. This man was seeking someone who could search out and find exactly what was wrong with his son. The disciples were powerless in ridding the boy of the unclean spirit that was afflicting him. This is revealed to be the result of the power of God having left them. They had just demonstrated the power to cast out demons on their recent preaching tour of the country, but now they had no power to cast out this demon. Why? There was something wrong in their lives, some sin, some lack which was blocking the power of God to flow through them. Later (Matthew 17:21) Jesus revealed to the disciples they had not been praying and fasting as they should have. We must be praying and fasting today in order to have the power of God flowing through us.
The son's illness was both physical and spiritual. The description found in Mark points toward what is known today as epilepsy and demon-possessed. The demon-possession seems to have heightened and aggravated the condition, perhaps causing some suicidal tendencies. Throughout the Gospels this appears to be one of the major works of evil spirits: to heighten and aggravate existing physical and mental conditions.
Christ's first rebuke in this passage was for a lack of faith and a wayward heart. Jesus spoke to His entire generation. His comments extended beyond His disciples. They had no power; neither did anyone else in Israel or elsewhere. Their sins were the sins of all, the sins of being faithless and perverse. Jesus actually said that His presence would not always be available; He would not be patient with peoples' unbelief forever. We must not forget that there is a point of coming judgment contained within this statement of His. Jesus was perceived as only a great prophet and minister/teacher. He was not considered as the very presence of God in their midst, as the true Messiah before whom a person must repent, as the Christ to whom a person owed their life and service. This is why that generation of people were walking around faithless and perverse before God and it is why so many people today walk around in the exact same condition. "And He said to them, Why are you so fearful? how is it that you have no faith (Mark 4:40)?" "Are You the Christ? tell us. And He said to them, If I tell you, you will not believe (Luke 22:67)." "But even though He had done so many miracles in front of them, yet they did not believe in Him (John 12:37)."
That is all for today, beloved. I pray that you will stop and consider the level of your faith in Christ. Have you turned your back upon acting perverse before God? Have you engaged in praying on a daily basis, with fasting included from time to time? This is a self-check list that I must apply to myself, to see if I am truly separating myself from everyone else around me and following hard after Christ Jesus. God does call out to me just once in my lifetime, it is done repeatedly. Will I hear Him? Will I respond to His spoken "Come!"? Or, will I just keep on walking through life seeking out pleasure and possessions? Will I surrender myself to sensual experiences, or will I yield to having an intimate relationship with God? Big questions, big impacts on my perception of life and this world.
Mon, Jul 22nd - 9:46PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And it came to pass about eight days after these sayings, He took Peter, John, and James up into a mountain to pray. And as He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His clothing was white and glistering. And behold, there talked with Him two men, who were Moses and Elijah: who appeared in glory, and spoke of His death which He should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw His glory, and the two men that stood with Him. And it came to pass, as they departed from Him, Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah: but Peter did not know what he was saying. While he was speaking these things, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son: hear Him. And when the voice was gone, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no person in those days about any of those things which they had seen (9:28-36)."
Here we have an account about Jesus' transfiguration upon a mountain. The three closest disciples to Him were invited to go with Him to pray there. It would be rather easy to conclude that the reason the transfiguration took place was in order to impress the disciples with God's glory. But it would seem that there are at least seven reasons for the transfiguration. Jesus needed a very special strength to face the pressure, the stress, of the cross. We can see in the transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane that God is strengthening His Son in a supernatural way. Jesus was being enabled to become the sin-bearer for the entire world (II Corinthians 5:21). Secondly, the disciples needed their faith increased to face what lay ahead. So God gave them a glimpse of the glory of Jesus Christ, that He is "the brightness of His glory, the express image of His Person (Hebrews 1:3)." Thirdly, the disciples needed the quickening power and insight of God's Spirit for Jesus was to be killed. After the resurrection their memory would need to be quickened in order to understand the spiritual significance of the cross. In this way they would become dynamic witnesses for Him. Fourthly, they needed to know that Jesus was more than just some great lawgiver and a great prophet. He was the very Son of God who fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets. He was the One who would usher in the New Covenant between God and mankind. Fifthly, the disciples needed to see into the glory of the spiritual world and into the reality of life after death. They had to understand God's purpose in Christ: to save mankind eternally and to make it possible for people to be transferred from this world into the next upon their death. The Messiah of the cross was God's Way, not a messiah of power and dominion, which is man's way. Sixth, the disciples needed to reminded of the glory of Christ in the future, for the cross was an ugly, revolting sight due to the blood and suffering and sin and death. But it was also a glorious event planned by God, through which He revealed His infinite love and grace and through which He saves the world. Finally, the disciples needed some glimpse into the glory that will be experienced when all believers are raised and transformed into the Lord's image. By seeing Moses and Elijah they saw two Old Testament believers who were still living, and they were living in a glorious state. They also knew that Christ had power over life and death. He could raise whom He wished from the dead to be in glory with Him. They just did not comprehend that this power extended to raising Himself from the dead as well.
This was an incredible event! They were up on a mountain. Jesus' countenance and clothing were changed, He appeared glowing and dressed in glittering clothes. Two men appeared with Him, deeply in conversation with Him. Three mortal men witnessed this. A cloud came and engulfed them and the mountain top. A voice spoke from within the cloud. Stunned silence ensued, they said nothing to anyone about what had happened there.
We know from reading Mark 9:2 that these three disciples composed an "inner circle" with Jesus. They were being given an opportunity to comprehend the extent of the Messiah's power, to understand that life does not end with their physical body's death. Jesus was depicting for us the need for supportive companionship and prayer by leaders when faced with severe pressures and stress in ministry. Jesus showed that there is a need to guard what is happening from spreading out into the public before it should. Jesus wished to help prepare these three people for what was coming very soon, but knew that the vast majority of people could not possibly understand until after the cross and the resurrection. By doing this, Jesus prevented the need for any "damage control" being employed to correct false versions of what actually took place up on that mountain.
We must not overlook the fact that Jesus went up this mountain to be away from the crowds of people in order that He could pray alone. I believe that prayer was the express purpose for going up the mountain. Why go up this mountain to pray at this time? The cross loomed before Him. The weight and heavy load of bearing the sin of the entire world was closing in on Him, and the stress was becoming almost unbearable. We find that Moses and Elijah came to discuss with Jesus His coming death, that this was to be an "accomplishment" and not just some event happening by accident. Then there was to be the excruciating stress of Gethsemane; and the terrifying isolation, pain, and suffering upon the cross itself. Another reason to go and pray was that the disciples had so much yet to learn, and so little time in which to do it. The grains of sand in the hourglass were steadily trickling down, unstoppable. Jesus needed to make them understand that God's Way was not the way of earthly power and might, but the way of spiritual and eternal salvation. Christ therefore had no choice, He sought God and trusted God to meet His need, and God did meet His need in a remarkable and encouraging way. God met Christ's need and also the needs of the three disciples who were there. Of a truth, God always meets the needs of the person whoprays and seeks His help early and often.
If the first part of the event was Jesus praying, then the second part was the transformation of Jesus' countenance and clothing. His face was altered and became different. Imagine how His face must have appeared, as Matthew 17:2 recorded it, "His face did shine as the sun." It is very difficult to look directly into the sun, even at such a great distance as it is from our planet. Imagine how it must have been for those three men to have been standing next to Him. Christ's clothing was transformed, becoming a dazzling white. "Glistering" comes from the Greek exastrapton, meaning to flash like lightening, to gleam, brighten, be radiant. Jesus was praying when these things happened to Him. Concentrating completely and intensely upon praying to His Father in heaven, God chose to transform Him and allow His Godly nature to shine right through His fleshly body. We also learn here that just as Christ's need was great and God met His need in a special way, so too, when our need becomes great God will also meet it in a special way. Just as long as we remember to take our great need to God in earnest prayer. We must remain aware of the fact that when a genuine believer prays with intensity and heavy concentration, his/her visage is sometimes changed. He/she experiences a precious glow, a brightness, a light about his/her entire countenance. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (II Corinthians 3:18)." "Who is as the wise man? and who knows the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom makes his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed (Ecclesiastes 8:1)."
The third part of this event was the appearance of the two men who were conversing with Christ. Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Christ about His coming death in Jerusalem. We know from Scripture that Moses was the great lawgiver and Elijah was the greatest of the prophets. Does their appearance here teach us that we are to pray and talk to dead saints? Does this passage instruct us to invite the prayers of dead saints on our behalf? No, it does not do either of these things. This passage does teach us that there is life after death. This passage does teach us that there is not simply a "nothingness" into which our consciousness falls into upon death. What this passage also teaches us is that all of the Law and the words of the prophets found their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Christ was the One of whom the Law and the prophets spoke; He was the One to whom they pointed.
Interestingly their conversation concerned the death of Jesus. Death to Christ meant a whole lot more than death means to me. When I die, I die for myself and all of my sins are accounted to me, and to me alone. But, when Christ died He died for everybody who had lived, was living, and will ever live in the future. Christ was going to separate Himself from God for the very first time in eternity. The consequences of all of humanity's sins would be borne by Christ, the suffering and pain and anguish would be unimaginable. In Gethsemane He would ask that the cup be taken from before Him, the cup representing God's wrath poured out upon sin. Here are two Old Testament believers come to discuss with Christ the coming events leading to His death upon the cross of Calvary. These two men had lived in the faith and expectation of His coming to save them from their sins. They probably encouraged Him to stay the course, to finish the Father's business, finish the race in order to receive the reward. To remind Him that it was His love that had driven Him to come in human flesh to redeem His creation. In our opening text today the word that I have used is "death." It comes from the word exodos. It means exodus, decease, deliverance. As Moses had experienced how God had miraculously delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, now he spoke of how it had simply been a picture of the incredible deliverance God was to now accomplish for the entire world. Jesus Christ was about to accomplish a new exodus, a new saving deliverance. Elijah's point would have been about the many prophecies concerning the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should then follow. We must not rush past the word "accomplish." It comes from the term pleroo. "Then He took to Him the twelve, and said to them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the son of man shall be accomplished (Luke 18:31)." "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 (I Peter 1:10-11)."
We must take away from this the fact that our faith and hope are realized and fulfilled in Christ Jesus. He is our Deliverer or Exodus out of the grip of sin and death, the devil and hell. Freedom only comes in Christ, freedom to live abundantly and eternally. If we are genuine believers in Christ Jesus, a discussion about death ought not cause us to be afraid. Sharing with one another will only encourage us in our faith and hope.
The fourth part of this event was the presence of the three disciples to witness all that transpired. It would appear safe to assume that it was night. All three had fallen asleep for a time. For whatever reason, most likely the brilliance of the Shekinah glory of God, they all awoke. They were in the close presence of God's glory, the Second Person of the Godhead in His power and divinity. They were receiving a foretaste of what it would be like in New Jerusalem, in the Millennium, in the Kingdom of God upon the earth. Here was how Christ would manifest Himself upon His second Advent to earth. Wow! Of course, we must take note of Peter's actions. He offered to erect three tabernacles (skenas) for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. It was an attempt at extending the experience, of keeping the heavenly guests there longer, as well as an act of honor. To Peter's credit, he did say "If You will." We must always remain aware of the pull to live in the glory and forget the human need, to experience the high and neglect the low. We must remember that it is the discipline of serving where there is need and ministering to the low that results in glory and the experiences of the highs.
The fifth part of this event was the cloud that enveloped them upon the mountain top. From out of this cloud that most certainly looked and felt different from ordinary clouds in the sky came the voice of God. It terrified them and caused them to become silent. Perhaps they even began to prostrate themselves on the ground. It is to be noted that the cloud was "bright." Within the cloud was the Shekinah glory of Jehovah, the cloud that throughout the Old Testament symbolized God's presence with Israel. It was this cloud that guided Israel out of Egypt and that rested upon the tabernacle and above the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place (Exodus 40:34-38). God dwells in unapproachable light upon which no person can look. Peter later on called it "the excellent glory (II Peter 1:17)." The bright cloud overshadowing Christ was a sharp contrast to the dark and threatening cloud that overshadowed the giving of the old covenant to Moses (Exodus 19:18, 20:21). The point being made is that the old covenant was dark and threatening while the new covenant is bright: it is given to save and bless, not to threaten and condemn (Hebrews 12:18-24).
The sixth part of this event was the voice that spoke from out of the cloud. The voice which spoke said that Jesus was "My Son, the Beloved One." Christ is God's Son, the Beloved One. He is the only begotten Son who was to be given for the world's redemption from sin. God was both telling and warning the disciples to listen to Christ. All that Christ spoke was truth, even when He predicted His own death and resurrection. By natural extension, God warns every living person to listen closely to Christ for the same two reasons.
The seventh part of this event was the silence. Jesus was standing all alone. The two old covenant believers were gone. No one spoke a word, not even Christ Jesus. Did this silence continue throughout the remainder of the night? The disciples had much to think about and digest. The conclusion that the three disciples reached was to say nothing about what had happened, who would believe them?
There is a time for silence, for being quiet and still, meditating upon the Word of the Lord. A time for really coming to understand God's will in matters. In this world of ours where everyone is seemingly in a huge rush to get somewhere, to get something, to go to someone, we need to remember that it is vitally important to quiet ourselves in order to ponder what God has said to us in His Word. If we fail to stop what we are doing, then how will we ever be able to hear God speaking to us? How will we ever be able to witness the beauty and magnificence of this universe, if we do not choose to slow down, stop, and "smell the roses?" Worry less about the threatening nature of thunderheads on the horizon, spend more time studying and appreciating the power and grandeur of towering cumulonimbus clouds. Become less fearful of lightning and become grateful that it is relieving the the imbalances being created in our atmosphere. Observe a spider as she spins her web anew at the beginning of the day, or even at the beginning of the night. Watch how ants carefully construct their anthills, one grain of sand/dirt at a time from deep underground. Watch tree swallows as they gracefully swoop through the air, catching insects midair without missing one beat of their wings. Or stop and listen to the mournful song of morning doves sitting on the telephone wires in the evening. Or whip-o-wills at night. Sit and watch hummingbirds as they sip sugar water from a feeder. It is endless. The wonders of the natural world that God as created all around us. It all fits rightly together, working hand in hand, no parts out of place.
That is all for tonight beloved. I hope and pray that you will be blessed by reading this posting and that God speaks to you through it. For it is not I, but Christ who speaks to you.
Mon, Jul 15th - 9:32PM
STUDY IN LUKE
The warning against falling into slavery of materialism continues today. I pointed out that this warning found in verse 24 is two-fold. The second point is that i ought to spend my life for Christ. Losing my life for anyone's sake other than Christ's is to foolishly throw it away. When I work to please Christ on this earth (lose my life), I shall end up saving my life eternally. God has given each person life in order to know God and fellowship with God. A person has life to know other people and fellowship with them. A person also has life to help save a world lost in its sin and shame and suffering. "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves (Romans 15:1)." "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42)."
In verse 25 the materialist gets questioned. The person who seeks personal achievement and prosperity, who seeks to please themselves, is challenged to think honestly about their point of view on life. "What advantage will you gain if by obtaining the entire world you end up losing yourself?" Christ said that if one were able to obtain ALL of the world's wealth, property, honor, pleasure, and fame but ended up losing that which makes them unique; what advantage would that be? You would be alone, unloved, suspicious of everyone, protective of all of your possessions. Stress would become unbearable since you would be unable to trust anyone around you. Yet many a person continually seeks to gain as much of the world's money, power, and status as they possibly can. And the vast majority of them become corrupted by it because they end up loving those things more than they do God or people. The picture painted for us is of one losing self, of being cast away. Christ made this a stated fact, an inevitable and sure end result. The person who works to please self is doomed to becoming "lost" and to be cast away. People say that they are simply trying to find themselves, but they never do. They lose the greatest things in all of the world: certainty, assurance, confidence, and satisfaction of knowing that they are eternally secure and destined to live and serve God forever. "But I keep control of my body, and bring it into subjection: otherwise by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (I Corinthians 9:27)."
Zemiotheis is the Greek word meaning to suffer the loss of, to forfeit, to lose what is of greatest value, to be punished by forfeiting and losing. That is what it means to be a castaway. The judgment of the materialist is rather tragic. This person did not have to suffer the judgment of God, but they chose the world and its things and pleasures over Christ Jesus. But why are they going to be judged?
1. For basically being ashamed of Jesus and His words. They are embarrassed and ashamed by such things as:
* being known as a true believer.
* following and obeying Christ completely.
* witnessing and standing up for Christ and morality.
* living less extravagantly than others.
* having less because of giving so much.
* associating wit the needy to help them.
* driving a cheaper car.
* living in a less expensive home.
* not socializing with the worldly.
* not compromising and going along with everyone else.
* not having all of the things others have.
* not joining in off-colored comments and jokes.
Quite simply put, this sort of person loves the acceptance and recognition of society, the comfort and pleasures of this world too much, and is unable to give it up in order to follow Christ Jesus and serve Him only. This sort of person misjudges the real value of the few years of plenty experienced upon this earth, counting it as being better than the unending years of the new earth and heavens. God's judgment is tragic in that the materialist is counted unsuitable for glory, unworthy to enter into heaven. God is coming. It is stated without any equivocation, without any doubt. It is definite, fixed. Jesus said that He shall come again to take His saints home to be with Him forever. Christ is coming in glory, a threefold glory. There is His own glory, exalted as the Messiah, the Christ of God (Philippians 2:9-11). There is the glory of God in all the brilliance and splendor of His Person (I Timothy 6:16; I John 1:5; Revelation 22:15). And there is the glory of the angels in their magnificence of being and brightness. They shall accompany Jesus when He returns to judge this earth.
The bottom line is clear: when Christ Jesus returns in His glory, the materialist will not be joining Him. He will not be welcomed into the glory of the Lord. Christ will be ashamed of that person, embarrassed to even acknowledge that He knows that person. The materialist is not "dressed" with the righteousness of God, is not doing the things of God, is immoral and self righteous, poor in spirit, unrepentant, unjust, too obstinate in belief, too unlike the true children of God, too uneducated in the things of God. "And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you who work iniquity (Matthew 7:23)." "But He shall say, I tell you, I do not know from where you are; depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity ((Luke 13:27)."
Finally, we are able to see that the reward of those who do not choose to be materialists can be the kingdom of God. The believer enters the Kingdom of God immediately upon believing Christ (Matthew 19:23-24). Some of those present in the crowd standing before Jesus were to be eye-witnesses of the death and resurrection of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit. They were to taste and experience the Kingdom of God. Each of us today who choose to believe in Christ are saved and see the Kingdom of God before we physically die. But we do not get to experience it the same way that those disciples did up on the Mount of Transfiguration. We shall study this passage next time.
Grace and peace be yours.
Wed, Jul 10th - 8:23PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And He said to them all, If any person will come after Me, let them deny them-self, and take up their cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save their life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose their life for My sake, the same person shall save their life. For what is a person advantaged, if they gain the entire world, and lose them self, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of them shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels. But I tell you a truth, there are some standing here, which shall not taste of death until they see the kingdom of God (9:23-27)."
Here Christ again lays out the terms of discipleship. One must deny oneself. One must take up their cross daily. One must willingly follow Jesus Christ. Man's tendency is to indulge himself and do exactly what he desires when he desires to do it. The believer in Christ is not to indulge himself, his comfort and ease, appetites and urges, thoughts and feelings, deceptions and enticements, plots and intrigues, pride and boastings, reactions and disturbances. The believer is to deny himself by discipline and control and by loving and caring, sacrificing and giving, helping and ministering, all empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit within him. I do not presume to believe that the pronoun "him" only specifies the male gender but that it encompasses all of humanity. The believer must carry their particular cross each and every day. It is a matter of action, of actively obeying God. Another action taken by the believer is to follow Jesus Christ. This is difficult since man's inclination is to follow someone else and to give one's first allegiance to something else. Here are a few of the things within our world available to serve and to put first: service organizations, your profession, social acceptance, humanitarian needs, houses, pleasure, institutional religion, business, health, family, clubs, appearance, recreation, self, sports, hobbies, comfort, carnal stimulation, education, and clothing.
Today we have trouble comprehending the concept of "take up your cross." People in Jesus' day knew what it meant only too well. They daily witnessed scores of "criminals" being nailed to crosses to be executed outside the city's walls. Crucifixion was only too common, sometimes crosses lined the streets leading into and out of the city of Jerusalem. But the cross does not mean simply bearing one's particular hardship in life, such as poor health, abuse, unemployment, invalid parents, an unsaved spouse, or a wayward child. The cross is always an instrument of death, not just an object to carry or bear. The true Christian is to die mentally and actively. They are to deny them self daily. They are to let the mind of Christ, the mind of humbling them self to the point of death, be in them and to fill their thoughts every day. They are to put their will, desires, wants, and ambitions to death. In their place is to be the following of Jesus and to do His will all of the time. This is to be an active, positive behavior. A person has to act, work, get to it, be diligent, consistent, and enduring in order to die to self. How can a person accomplish this feat?
1. I can reckon or count myself crucified with Christ. "Likewise reckon yourself also to be dead indeed to sin (Romans 6:11)." "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from here on out we should not serve sin (Romans 6:6)." "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20)." "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24)."
2. I reckon or count myself dead to sin, but alive to God. "That he shall no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God (I Peter 4:2)."
3. I do not let my sin reign in my body. "Do not let sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts caused by it (Romans 6:12)." "Therefore mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which idolatry (Colossians 3:5)."
4. I do not yield my bodily members as instruments of sin. "Neither yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin (Romans 6:13)." "For if you live after the carnal flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live (Romans 8:13)."
5. I yield myself to God as much as those who are alive from the dead are yielded to God. "Yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead (Romans 6:13)." "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not make provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts of it (Romans 13:14)."
6. I yield my bodily members as instruments of righteousness. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16)."
One's hardship or burden can bring you to the place where the Lord can deal with you. It is then that the hardship becomes the cross and denial of self that Jesus is talking about. With an act of self denial, the Christian can then consider himself alive to God (Romans 6:13). Now he/she can follow Christ. It is an act that must be repeated each and every day. It is seen in verse twenty-four the warning issued to the materialist. The word "life" (psuche) means in this context the natural, animal life; the earthly life that quickly passes away; the fading, aging, decaying, corruptible life of the flesh. The warning given by Christ appears to be two-fold. Do not save your life for yourself. If you merely work to please yourself you will lose your life eternally. Your life is not for indulging yourself and getting all that you can of the comforts, interests, and pleasures of this world. Your life is not to hoard life by keeping all the good things of life and seldom becoming involved in giving and sacrificing to help those who do not have.
So, my body parts are not to be used as agents of sin in my daily living. This is why Jesus said that it would be far better to pluck out my eye if it continually seeks to gaze sinfully upon others. If my hand continually seeks to lead me into theft, then it would better to have it cut off at the wrist. Self sacrifice is what is being illustrated with these pictures, not masochistic tendencies or even sadistic tendencies. I must gain full control over what my body is doing and not allow it to lead me into sinful behavior. I am not an animal, driven by my instinctual desires and mating pheromones. I am a man created spiritually in the image of God, my personality and soul bound within a body of mortal flesh. It is up to me to choose to govern my body rather than become a slave to it.
Praise, honor, and glory be given to Christ Jesus this day! Grace and peace be yours through your faith in Christ. Allow your light to shine out into the spiritually dark world that exists all around you. Never forget that Christ is present in our midst whenever we gather together to worship Him, to fellowship with one another, and in serving others.
Tue, Jul 9th - 8:16PM
STUDY IN LUKE
Continuing in this study of Luke, there are three important lessons on prayer to be taken from Luke 9:18-20. Taking our cue from Christ Jesus, we must pray before momentous events. We must pray for others, that they might have special insight and the inspiring/equipping power of the Spirit upon their lives. And we must pray for strength to withstand severe trials, that we might be enabled to bear whatever cross lies ahead of us. "Watch and pray, that you do not enter into temptation: the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41)." "Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we do not know what we ought to pray for: but the Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which can't be uttered (Romans 8:26)." "He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him (Psalm 91:15)."
We can also see in this part of the passage the peoples' belief was that Jesus was only a great man. Jesus was off to the side, away from the disciples and all alone. He was seeking the face of God and was agonizing in prayer. All of a sudden He quits praying, stands up, and walks over to the disciples. Jesus immediately poses a question to them all, "Who do the people say that I am?" The disciples' concept of the Messiah needed to be corrected. They thought that Messiah was to be the greatest of men. But they desperately needed to grasp and understand fully who Jesus really was. The destiny of the entire world rested in their hands. People were doomed and lost forever unless the disciples fully understood. And so Jesus examined them and made sure they were thinking for themselves and rejecting the false concepts of Messiahship held by the crowds. Popular opinion about the Messiah was woefully wrong. Most people honored Jesus highly, very highly. To them He was a great man; in fact, they saw Him as one of the greatest of men. Christ needed to make sure that the peoples' idea did not influence and corrupt the thinking of His disciples. Some people thought Jesus was John the Baptist, the Forerunner of the Messiah. Yes, both of them did a unique and great work serving God's will. Both were divinely chosen and gifted by God, and both proclaimed the kingdom of God and prepared men for receiving it. There was confusion in the minds of the people. Some thought Jesus was Elijah. They felt that Jesus was the greatest of all prophets and the greatest teacher of all time. Elijah was considered to be so, and he also had been predicted to be the Forerunner of the Messiah. Elijah had also been used by God to miraculously feed a widow woman and her son (I Kings 17:14). The miracle of feeding the crowds and that widow and her son became connected in their minds. Finally, some thought Jesus was one of the old prophets, like Jeremiah, Daniel, or even Ezekiel.
We must stop and consider that these same false confessions about Christ Jesus exist to this very day, plaguing each generation anew. 1) He was only a great teacher and prophet. 2) He was only a great man of righteousness, martyred for His faith. He leaves us a great example of how to live and stand up for what we believe in. 3) He was a great man who revealed some very important things to us about God and religion. 4) He was a great prophet sent to the Jews of His day; however, we can learn a great deal that will be helpful to us by studying His life. 5) He was a man who came to teach us all about the true nature of love, that we are to simply love one another.
"And He strictly charged them, and commanded them to not tell any person that thing; saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day (9:21-22)."
The disciples' conviction was that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus sat and listened intently to what the disciples had to say about the peoples' ideas regarding the Messiah. He bluntly put the question to them: Who do you say that I am? Here is the question that forever requires an answer that will determine a person's eternal salvation, or damnation. This is the single most significant question ever asked. I will put this question to you, dear reader. Who do you say that Jesus Christ is? The "you" is emphatic in our text. The importance is stressed, a personal response is required. Peter was the spokesmen for all present, and he emphatically declared Jesus to be the Christ of God. It was a profound answer for it declared that Jesus was the Anointed One of God meaning Jesus was sent on a deliberate mission, a mission of saving people (Luke 19:10). Jesus was sent and qualified by God to carry out that mission. Jesus was the fulfillment of all of the prophecies which promised the coming of the Messiah for humanity. This question was also very personal. It had the ability to offend some. But Jesus meant the question to be just that: personal. It had to be personal, for a person's eternal destiny and fate is determined by their answer. Our life, death, and eternal destiny hinge upon how we see and confess Christ Jesus.
Verses 21-22 bring the full meaning of conviction. The full meaning of the Messiah was not yet fully grasped by the disciples. They were yet to experience the death, burial, and resurrection of their Lord and Master. The disciples only focused upon those prophecies that emphasized His exaltation, sovereignty, power, and glory. They saw Him as ruling and reigning from David's throne in Jerusalem and subjecting all peoples to God by force. They had an earthly concept of a ruler, one limited within the bounds of the physical and material world around them. They, like us, had little experience with the spiritual world and thus were not prepared to share the truth of the Messiah. At this point in time they would be sharing an incomplete message, a false message; so Jesus charged them to tell no one. Christ here emphasized the importance of grasping the full meaning of the Messiah. He revealed to the disciples that the Messiah had to be both a suffering and a conquering Savior. Not one or the other, but both. Why couldn't the disciples grasp and accept the idea of a suffering Messiah? Because it radically differed from their own cultural idea of what the Messiah must be. Also because the revelation had been hidden in pictures and symbols up to this time. Destroy this temple and I shall raise it back up in three days, I am the Bread of life which has come down from heaven and My flesh is in fact this Bread.
The difference now was that Jesus no longer spoke in pictures and/or symbols. He told them in simple and direct words (Matthew 20:18-20; Luke 18:31-33). A new phase in the revelation of God's plan for the entire world was now taking place: God's only begotten Son was to suffer and die and be raised again for the sins of the entire world. First, a suffering Messiah was required to save a materialistic world. Jesus' death was to usher in the Kingdom of God and make it possible followers to live eternally in the very presence of God Himself. "Must" is a strong word, it means a constraint, an imperative, a necessity was laid upon Him. There was no choice. This had been planned since before the foundations of the world were ever made. The will of God the Father must be fulfilled, Christ's death had been ordained. It is to be noted here the three groups identified as opposing Him. The elders, the chief priests, and the Scribes. These were the older, respected men of a community. The elders were judges of the civil courts, of temporal affairs (Exodus 3:29; 12:21; 24:9; Numbers 11:25; I Samuel 16:4; Ezra 10:14; Matthew 27:12). The chief priests were primarily leaders from among the Sadducees who held most of the high offices of Jewish government under Roman rule, they were judges of religious affairs. The Scribes were Pharisees who held the teaching positions of the nation.
We must remain alert to those today who continue the work of these three groups of people. We are not to become all caught up in the temporal affairs of this world in which we live. I am to be in the world, but not of it. I am to test the sayings of all people, whether they are within the bounds of the faith or remain standing outside the family of believers in Christ Jesus. I am to love all people but not necessarily any of their behavior. I can disagree with someone without having to hate them or become angry with them, or at them. I do not need to seek revenge for offenses, both real and imagined. I am to answer the question put to me by Christ Jesus. That is what is important and what will determine how I perceive the world all around me. That question reverberates throughout all of humanity each and every day: Who do you say that I am?
Grace and peace be with you. May those who suffer today feel the living presence of Christ. May they experience relief from pain, aching, agony, and abuse. May their burdens be lifted from off of their shoulders, and carried by Jesus. May they experience a metamorphosis upon receiving the touch of God in their lives. If five days after the American Independence Day you still do not feel "free," perhaps you need to come to Christ and test drive His formula vehicle for gaining freedom to live an abundant life. Perhaps...
Mon, Jul 1st - 4:53PM
Study in Luke
"And it came to pass, as He was alone praying, His disciples were with Him: and He asked them, Whom do the people say that I am? They said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. (9:18-19)"
Who is Jesus? Here is the single most important question that a person must answer. Jesus was praying alone. The disciples were with Him, but obviously set a little apart. Since Christ was setting His face towards Jerusalem He felt the human need for strength. Jerusalem meant going toward the cross. The coming days contained excruciating suffering for Him.
The disciples had to face the cross too. They needed a very special quickening from God. The Messiah had to die for the sins of the world. This was not the popular concept of what the Messiah was supposed to do. The people thought that He came as the King, the One who would free them from their enemies and set up the Kingdom of God.
The disciples needed a very special revelation into God's Person. They needed to grasp and confess that He was the Messiah. Jesus was ready to examine their hearts and convictions about Him.
Are we ready for Christ to examine our heart and conviction today? May God's grace be all sufficient for you this day!
Mon, Jul 1st - 6:51AM
Study in Luke
". The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to Him the more intensely missionary we must become."
In Luke 9:14-15 Jesus approaches needs in an orderly fashion. Over five thousand men alone were in need of food, thus some sort of orderly approach was necessary. Jesus met this challenge by having the disciples set the crowd up in smaller groups. Fifty persons composed each group. And so we today are taught to break down large problems into smaller pieces in order to solve them.
We are to seek solutions just as Jesus did. He looked to heaven giving thanks to God for what He did have. Jesus broke and gave what He had. Jesus was physically doing what He could: looking up to God, giving thanks and then giving what He had. Once He physically did what He could God multiplied the resources. We must do the same. There will always be enough to feed everyone---if we will only confess our lack of ability, give thanks for what we do have, and then give what we do have. Seek first the the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all of these things will be added to us.
I pray that each delegate at Annual Conference for Church of the Brethren is doing this this day. Grace and peace be with you all.
Back to Blog Main Page