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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
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    Thu, Jul 31st - 6:58AM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "And when they all this, they all murmured, saying, That He has gone to be guest with a man who is a sinner.  And Zacchaeus stood, and said to the Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my possessions I give to the poor, and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore to him fourfold.  And Jesus said to him, This day salvation is come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (19:7-10)."

      This conversion experience also involves receiving the invitation of Jesus.  We clearly see Zacchaeus desiring to see Jesus, but we also clearly see that Jesus stopped walking through Jericho and looked up into that sycamore tree directly at the wee little man.  I get the impression that Jesus had an appointment with Zacchaeus, that this day, this hour, this very minute, was the appointed time for this man's personal encounter with God.  Jesus showed up exactly on time.  Jesus did not stop and look around or ask where Zacchaeus was hiding.  He stopped and then looked directly up at where the little man was sitting up in that tree.See, God always knows exactly where we are, even if we have absolutely no idea where God may be.  God will come to us when we zealously seek to to know Him.  

       Zacchaeus is the example given to us to teach about God's love for the sinner.  This man was desperate to see Jesus and struggled against the odds and found a place where he could see Jesus.  Yes, he was forced to humble and even humiliate himself in order to do so.  He was willing to suffer whatever it took to get a look at the Savior.  Because of this diligence and perseverence, Jesus saw him in return.  We also see that Jesus knew him by name.  A tax collector!  God knew his name!  Whenever a total stranger stops, looks at us, and calls us by our name we are startled and impressed.  God desires to call each person by name but it requires that we hear His call and move ourselves to the place and vantage point where we can "see" Jesus Christ.  

       Christ then made a request of Zacchaeus:  Receive Me into your house , so come on down, and let's go!  Yes, Jesus wished to stay in this man's home that day but He also was keeping in mind that He had a very important appointment awaiting Him in Jerusalem.  Zacchaeus must act now, he could not procrastinate about having Jesus come to his home to visit.  We too are requested to choose to obey, for today is the day of our salvation.  Jesus did not remain visiting this little man for very long since He had to continue walking on towards Jerusalem.  But what a powerful visit it was!  The opportunity of a lifetime was before Zacchaeus and it was up to him to take it.  So it is with each person today, the choice is ours to make or reject.  The consequences then fall upon us as well.

       The final part of conversion is repentance, that is, changing one's whole way of life.  Zacchaeus was a sinner, the murmuring crowd did get that part correct.  They simply were blind to the fact that all of them were sinners as well.  Everyone present knew that Zacchaeus was a betrayer of his country, serving the alien power of Rome.  He himself was painfully aware that he was a sinner, both a betrayer and a thief, having stolen much from many.  He readily confessed his sins before Jesus.  The crowd demonstrated self-righteousness for they did not like Jesus eating and associating with a known sinner.  Their sins mirrored those of the Jewish people as they wandered in the wilderness for those forty years.  Complaining, grumbling, murmuring against God.  But despite all of this, Zacchaeus repented and changed his life; he completely turned around from his sinful life to God and His way of righteousness.

       He chose to give half of all that he owned to the poor.  He did exactly what Jesus had said time after time, and he did exactly what the rich young ruler had refused to do back in chapter eighteen of Luke.  He gave back to those whom he had cheated; he gave back four times what he had taken.  Restitution became the thrust of his life in response to Jesus' call.  He had not become rich because of what the Romans paid him for being their tax collector.  He had become rich through charging more that what the Romans required of the people.  He also had accepted bribes, perhaps even extortion.  He now was going to track down each person he had cheated and pay back four times the amount he had cheated them out of.  This all indicates that Zacchaeus had truly repented and was serious about following Christ and living righteously.

      Finally, conversion is all about looking to Christ as the Savior.  Christ is the One who proclaims salvation, not us.  Christ, in our text, proclaimed two things: That repentance saved Zacchaeus, and that he would bring the message of salvation to his whole household; that Zacchaeus was now a true son of Abraham, a spiritual son through his faith in Christ.  We also are informed that Christ is the One who seeks and saves the "lost."  Those who do not know Christ are lost in the sense that they are not to be found within the family of God and are perishing, being destroyed physically, losing eternal life, and being cut off from God.  Christ came for the express purpose of seeking out and saving that which was lost from the family of God in heaven:  sinners.  Scripture informs us elsewhere that the wages of sin is death, but that eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ.  

    Zacchaeus received Christ and became saved.  How about you?

    May God's grace and all-pervading peace flood your life this day, beloved!  You are beloved if you have heard and received the call of Christ Jesus.  You are adopted sons and daughters of God, His royal priests and ambassadors to a destitute and desperate world.  Be strong and brave!  If God is for us, who can stand against us?  Live Christ-like lives, for you may be the only "Christ" that many people will ever get to meet.

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Jul 30th - 6:52AM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "Man is born with his back toward God.  When he truly repents, he turns right around and faces God.  Repentance is a change of mind.  Repentance is the tear in the eye of faith."
     ~D. L. Moody

    "True repentance has a double aspect:  it looks upon things past with a weeping eye, and upon the future with a watchful eye."      
     ~Robert Smith

    "And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.  And this man sought to see Jesus for who He was; and could not due to the crowd, since he was short in stature.  And he ran before them, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus: for He was to pass that way.  And when Jesus came to that place, He looked up, and saw him, and said to him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must stay at your house.  And Zacchaeus made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully (19:1-6)."

       I will write as much as time allows me this morning.  There are many things to be learned of in this passage of Scripture.  One of them is the meaning of conversion.  That we will discover in the next posting following this one.  For today we need to see the fact  that any person can be converted should stir hope within each and every heart that genuinely senses need and wants to meet God as though face to face.

       Zacchaeus was a tax collector, a publican.  He was not only a tax collector, he was the chief among them.  It had made him  a very rich man as well.  He most likely was the head of the local taxation office for the Romans and thus responsible to the Roman government for the employment and management of the local tax collectors and their monies.  Being so rich allowed Zacchaeus to have all the pleasures and comforts of life which money can buy.  He was also a man who would find it very difficult to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  His money was a serious threat to his salvation, as it is with all rich people.  It would be difficult to give up all he had to follow Christ Jesus.  People have the tendency to love their money and possessions, the things that their money does for them.

       But this man was seeking to find Jesus, to discover who Jesus truly was.  Conversion is being desperate to see Christ, just who He is.  Three facts must be pointed out here:  
     1)  Zacchaeus showed desperation in trying to see Jesus.
     2)  Zacchaeus persevered in his attempt to see Jesus, and had to humble himself in order to do it.
     3)  Zacchaeus most likely experienced the beginning of faith when he heard reports about Jesus being the Messiah and of the miracles that He was performing everywhere.

    Despite all of his wealth, he apparently remained empty and lonely within his heart and soul.  Why?  Tax collectors were bitterly hated by their own Jewish people for working with the Roman occupiers of their homeland.  This man was also quite short which probably made him self-conscious and felt inferior and had a low self- image.  From what we read in the above text he was denied passage through the crowd, most likely being shoved back and abused verbally.  So we get to see his desperate determination and persistence become evident.  Here is a man of position and wealth, climbing a tree just to see an important person pass by.  Wanting to see Jesus  so badly he forgot everyone around and humbled himself and climbed up a tree.  Are we this determined in our hearts to see Jesus?  What are we willing to do in order to see the Lord?  What are we allowing to stop us from seeing Him?  Those are important questions for all of us today to answer.  Zacchaeus most likely had already heard about Jesus calling out Matthew and saving him, someone who also had been a tax collector like himself.  He had obviously begun to believe the reports that reached him about what Christ was doing.  What he heard about Jesus gave him hope that his current reality, of being hated and despised by his own people and ridiculed by the Romans, could be transformed into something entirely different.  His efforts to see Jesus reveal what was stirring within his soul.  The same can be said about each person today.  What drives each person to do what they are doing today?  Seeking God, or seeking more wealth and status and power?  Seeking retribution and revenge?  Seeking justice and judgment?  Or seeking forgiveness and reconciliation?

    That is all I have time for this morning beloved.  Tomorrow I will write more about this conversion thing for it is more than simply seeking to see Christ personally.  Until then, grace and peace of Christ truly be yours!

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Jul 21st - 11:50AM



    "Inspiration without perspiration leads to frustration and stagnation."
     ~Bill Bright

    "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more comon than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
     ~Calvin Coolidge

    "And it came to pass, that as He came near to Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:  And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what was happening.  And they told him, Jesus of Nazareth passes by.  And he cried out, Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on me!  And they which went before Jesus rebuked him, that he should be quiet: but he cried even more loudly, You Son of David, have mercy on me!  And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought to Him: and when he was come near, He asked him, What do you want Me to do to you?  And he said, Lord, that may receive my sight.  And Jesus said to him, Receive your sight: your faith has saved you.  And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God: and all of the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God (18:35-43)"

       This blind man's name is given to us in Mark's gospel account, Bartimaeus.  Jesus was near Jericho and about to enter it.  Jericho was only about 17 miles from Jerusalem, the cross on Calvary ever so near, looming ahead for Jesus.  You and I may begin thinking that there must be some contradiction here, for we do remember that Joshua experienced the great event of the walls around Jericho falling down, and that took place back in the Old Testament.  Another apparent error, Luke says that this event took place as Jesus came near to the city while Matthew and Mark say it happened as He departed from Jericho.  So what is going on??  Stop to think about how old cities and newer ones become attached to one another.  The simplest explanation is that one gospel account covers the perspective of Jesus approaching the newer section of Jericho while the other account covers the perspective of Jesus leaving the older section of Jericho.  How often do we hear people refer to only the older section of a city as being that city?  The newer section/s frequently are considered "add-ons"  and not really the "city."  I think that that is what happened here. We also have the case of the number of blind men involved.  Matthew said that there were two; Mark and Luke both said only one, and Mark gave his name.  It would seem that, as in the case of when an ordinary conversation takes place over an event being explained: the spokesperson or prominent person is the only one mentioned.  In this case, Bartimaeus was the prominent person and therefore the only one mentioned by name in Mark and Luke's accounts.

       It is clearly illustrated that this man was needy.  He had been blind for years, perhaps even for life, with no hope of ever seeing the world around him.  He was limited to what he could hear, taste, smell, and feel.  His imagination was forced to fill in all of the visual details that his mind sorely missed.  He could only go to those places that people were willing to lead him or else were safe enough for him to slowly feel his way along.  He was doomed to live his entire life in physical darkness.  He knew that he was doomed to live in a world of pitch blackness.  He knew that he could not work, could not support himself nor could he afford his own dwelling place in which to sleep.  So he was poor and had to beg to survive, suffering humiliation on a daily basis.  There was no one to care for him or about him---no family, no friends, no social group.  

       So here is a man living in a world of perpetual darkness, destitute, friendless, and fully aware of his situation.  One day, as he sits by the roadside near Jericho he hears an approaching commotion on the road.  Upon being told that it is Jesus of Nazareth he realizes that here is his golden opportunity to have his life transformed!  He had obviously already heard about the miracles of healing that Jesus had been doing throughout the entire region, for he paid attention to what others talked about as they ignored him.  At this time of year this particular road was full of traffic, for people were on pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover.  This blind Bartimaeus would have been used to the level of noise, but could detect a distinct change as Jesus walked along the road towards him.  So he shouts loudly to Jesus, attempting to attract His attention.  Disciples walking along, and ahead of Jesus, tell him to shut up and mind his own business.  After all, Jesus is on His way to important things!  Should he shut up, remain silent?  If so, he will remain locked away in his world of permanent darkness, never able to work, earn an honest wage, and support himself.  Thus, the blind man persists and shouts even louder so that Jesus will clearly hear him.  Did this blind man already believe the report that the Messiah had come?  It would appear that to some extent that he did believe.  I am reminded of the words of II Corinthians 6:2, "For He says, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."  And also Isaiah 53:1 "Who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?"

       Bartimaeus acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah.  "You Son of David!" is found from the beginning predictions of the Messiah.  Bartimaeus approached Jesus with what knowledge he had of Him, with what understanding he held of the Messiah.  Today, all a person needs to do is use the knowledge they have and call out to God.  God will help the person to grow in knowledge and understanding as the person continues to faithfully seek God's help.  Here are some passages to peruse: Acts 17:27; Psalm 105:4; Zephaniah 2:3; and Isaiah 55:6.

       Bartimaeus cried out for mercy!  He did not cry out for food, money, or shelter.  He was not concerned about the necessities of daily life, no, just about gaining the mercy of God.  This ought to take us immediately back to the publican standing in the Temple beating his chest and saying, "O God, be merciful to me, the sinner that I am!"  Who was he crying out to for mercy?  The Son of David.  This was the common title and popular concept of the Messiah.  Generations of Jewish people had longed and looked for the promised Deliverer of israel.  The people expected Him to be a great General who would conquer their enemies, restore their nation to its former greatness, liberate them from captivity.  They expected Him to make their nation the center of universal rule.  He would center the glory and majesty of God Himself in Jerusalem.  From the throne of David He would execute the Messianic fire of judgment upon the Gentile nations and peoples of the entire world.  

       This passage in Luke 18 is an example of the type of persistence that gets help from God.  Despite having people with Jesus rebuke him and try to silence him, the blind man persisted in his efforts to gain the attention of the Messiah.  Bartimaeus had every reason to be discouraged.  He could have given up and quit at this point.  But he did not quit.  Neither can any person who honestly seeks the mercy of God today.  Jesus is the only hope of people who seek the mercy of God.  No other person could have mercy upon him to the point of giving him back his sight.  His faith in Jesus was strong enough to drive his persistence in calling out to the Lord.  When people try to stop us from reaching out to God, when they tell us to be quiet and not be bothersome, that is when we must persevere and continue on our path, refusing to give in or surrender to our current plight.  We must remain bold in asking great things of God.  It is what Bartimaeus did with Jesus.  His persistence and boldness got Jesus to stop and to stand still on the road.  Can you imagine that scene?  A great crowd of people surrounding Jesus and His disciples while they are attempting to walk along the road to Jericho.  Jesus couldn't even see to the side of the road, couldn't see Bartimaeus sitting there begging.  Then Jesus just stops walking, looks to the side of the road where this blind man sits crying out to Him.  Would anyone in that crowd have continued talking at that point?  I don't think so, I think a profound hush fell over all of them.  There is great need for quietness and silence in our hearts and minds when we ask something of God.  Times come when the noise of the crowd must be silenced, put aside, in order that we may hear when God answers our cries for mercy and help.  God can hear our cries no matter where we are, but it is best to petition God while in a quiet place where we can order our thoughts and remain focused upon our dire need/s.

       As we know, Bartimaeus asked for a very great thing to be done.  He asked for a humanly impossible thing: restore my eyesight.  Even science today can't always "fix" blindness.  The Messiah can always fix blindness, no exceptions.  What is the greatest need in my life?  In your life?  It takes courage to to ask great things of God.  God will answer those who make great requests.  And guess what?  Jesus answered Bartimaeus.  He gave him his sight and saved him.  What was the process Bartimaeus followed, that would benefit each of us today?  He had believed the reports that Jesus was the promised Messiah.  He had cried out for mercy.  He had persevered and persisted and refused to give up despite all kinds of odds.  

      What sort of response did Bartimaeus have at receiving his sight?  He glorified God and followed Christ.  Those actions spurred the entire crowd to give praise to God!  Today we may not see physical healing of sight, but we do witness the restoration of spiritual sight in individuals and their salvation from personal sin.  These events spur others to praise God and to trust more in Christ.  I hope that today's posting increases your persistence in asking Christ to meet your needs each and every day!

    Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be yours this summer's day!

    ~Eric


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    Tue, Jul 15th - 10:10PM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "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.  For He shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted upon:  And they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.  And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither did they know the things which were spoken (18:31-34)."  

       What was Jesus' purpose?  To fulfill the Scriptures.  Not just some of the things written about the Son of man would be accomplished, all of them would be accomplished.  

       Jesus pulled the twelve disciples closest to Him off to the side for further in-depth instruction.  He chose to drill into them the fact of His impending death and resurrection.  These were the two events by which He would save the world.  All twelve of them remained confused by what he said about His death and resurrection.  His disciples were confused by His insistence upon traveling towards Jerusalem, a place where the Sanhedrin and Pharisees dominated and were seeking to kill Jesus.  They remained ignorant about the basic fact that Christ came to suffer for the salvation of people.  

       It can be seen that Jesus claimed to be the "Son of man."  He was the One sent by God to fulfill God's purposes here on earth.  Jesus also said that His sufferings were the prophetic fulfillment of Scripture.  It works this way: The Scriptures have to be fulfilled, and they have to be fulfilled in Christ, in the Messiah.  No single point can fail.  Jesus specifically mentioned the Gentiles.  The Jews weren't the ones who would kill Him, it would be the Gentiles to whom the religious rulers of the Jews turned Jesus over to.  The Jews rejected their own Messiah and then handed Him over to the unbelieving Gentiles (Romans) for execution.  None of them could accept His message of total self-denial and salvation from sin.  Three specific prophecies were to be fulfilled in particular.  1.   Jesus was to be tortured and disgraced, injured and insulted.  This was to be accomplished through mockery, scorn, humiliation, ridicule, jeering.  The Greek word hubristhsetai means to reproach, to treat with insolence and contempt, to be outraged and to treat shamefully and despitefully.  It was also accomplished by spitting upon Him, a gross insult in that day.  Scourging involved beating with a rod or a whip weighted with either jagged metal or bone chips.  Thirty-nine or forty lashes were inflicted.  The whole point was to inflict severe pain short of death.  Jesus was to be put to death and was predicting His own death.  He was to bear the sins of people, suffering the ultimate degree of pain.  Jesus suffered mental pain while being tortured.  He suffered spiritually for His heart was being broken.  Those creatures whom He loved so much were committing yet another sin, one so horrendous it defied description.  They were rebelling against God so much that they were killing God in the form of the man Jesus the Christ.  God the Father would end up turning His back upon Him.  Because of the assumed sin of all mankind upon Jesus, God the Father was forced to separate Himself from the Son.  Physically Jesus experienced the pain of crucifixion which was more severe because of the mental and spiritual pressure He was having to bear ("Take this cup from Me").  

       Another prophecy was that Jesus would rise from the dead.  He was to be raised from the dead after being crucified.  By covering His resurrection in the same discussion with His death drove the point of the resurrection into the minds of the disciples listening.  They must forever remember the resurrection, the death of Jesus was not the end.  This also foreshadowed the power of God.  After His resurrection the disciples would remember, and the glorious truth of God's mighty power would be reinforced in their minds and hearts forever.  Jesus was telling them that the power of God was victorious, over men, over suffering, over pain, over nature, and over death itself.  It also was to inform the disciples that God's power was going to work in their lives.  They would experience the power to encourage and motivate others, to assure and build confidence, to give courage and boldness.  

       And the disciple's reaction?  Confusion.  They could not accept nor understand the death of Christ literally.  They did not take His words at face value.  To them what He said was a puzzle, a mystery, a riddle.  The meaning was hidden from them in that they could not literally accept His words.  They could not perceive the truth of His words.  In their minds they could not see anything that could be accomplished by the disgrace of death.  The same fate awaits any of us today if we do not take the Scriptures at face value---the result will always be not understanding those things, having them "hid" from us, and not knowing the things which are spoken to us.  We will end up deceiving ourselves with "interpretations" of the Scriptures rather than edifying ourselves with them.

    That is all for today beloved!  Next time I will write about the healing of blind Bartimaeus and what it means for us today.  Grace and peace be the fillers of your heart and mind.  

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Jul 9th - 9:02PM

    STUDY IN LUKE



    "And they brought to Him infants, that He would touch them: but when His disciples saw it, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called them to Him, and said, Suffer little children to come to Me, and do not forbid them: for of such is the kingdom of God.  Verily I say to you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no way enter into it (18:15-17)."  

       The very basics of this passage are that we are taught how people must think and behave in order to enter into the kingdom of God.  But we must not overlook the very obvious by focusing solely upon this basic teaching.  Obviously parents were bringing their children into the presence of Jesus.  They had heard Him teach and they desired their children to be exposed to such teaching as well as to be touched physically by Jesus and be healed and forgiven of their sins.  

       This teaches us today that we must not prevent our children from coming into the presence of Christ and have the opportunity to be touched by Jesus.  Jesus corrected His disciples actions.  They rebuked the people who were bringing children to Christ.  Why are children so important to Jesus?  The kingdom of God is composed of people who are like children in their acceptance of Christ Jesus.  God looks after little children, they are in His loving hands.  Little children possess traits that exist in heaven.  They are trusting and dependent.  They can do little to take care of themselves in this world.  The child is full of innocence, has not learned to suspect adults and the world at large.  Children are usually responsive and submissive, obedient and learning.  Children are usually humble and forgiving.  Children are not interested in fame, power, wealth, or status.  

       What we learn elsewhere in Scripture is that everyone who enters into heaven does so as a "child of God."  This begins the spiritual growth cycle of child-youth-adolescent-adult.  We start out being immature believers and during our lifetimes progress to maturity.  

    "And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good?  none is good, save one, and that is God.  You know the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother.  And the ruler said, All of these I have kept from my youth until today.  Now when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, Yet you lack one thing: sell all that you have, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me.  And when the ruler heard this, he was very sad: for he was very rich.  And when Jesus saw that he was very sad, He said, How hard will it be for those that are wealthy to enter into the kingdom of God!  And they that heard this said, Who then can be saved?  And Jesus said, The things which are impossible with people are possible with God.  Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all behind, and followed You.  And He said to them, Verily I say to you, There is no person that has left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come eternal life (18:18-30)."

       The prevalent attitude, or belief, in this world is that eternal life is free for the taking, that it does not cost anything.  Eternal life does come with a price.  It costs a person all that they are and what they have.  Three examples are provided for our edification.  The first example is that of the rich young ruler.  This comes to us through comparison of the other gospel accounts of this event.  It matters not whether a person is rich or poor, a ruler or a slave.  Eternal life costs the exact same amount for every person.  The person who seeks eternal life must acknowledge that Jesus is God.  Calling Jesus "Good Master" ascribed an attribute that was only given to Jehovah at that time.  This ruler saw something in Jesus like God.  Jesus did not say that He was not God, merely that as a man He was not good.  Commandments must be kept.  This ruler felt that he must "do" something on his own to merit heaven.  He did, he must trust, obey, and love God above all else.  

       The problem here was that this man could not see that he did not deal sincerely with all people.  He was not doing anything to help out the poor and unfortunate in his community.  We know this for he failed to list it as something that he had been doing.  Thus Jesus pointed out that in order to enter into heaven he must sell all that he had, give it all to the poor, and then follow Jesus.  This radical action saddened the young ruler.  He simply could not reconcile to himself that this was what must be done to gain heaven.  Was this an unreasonable request made by Christ?  Would God suggest such a radical thing of Jews? of any person?  Why wouldn't God demand this?  Our world is chock full of people who need help, who need food, who need medical care.  Those who have accumulated great wealth are to help others.  God requires the giving of all after a person has taken care of his/her own necessities.  Jesus targeted the very nerve of the ruler's problem: lust, coveting after money, possessions, material goods, and status.  

       The ruler asked how to inherit eternal life and he got his answer:  Give all that you are and have.  We then get to see the ruler's rejection of Jesus' response.  Jesus simply asked too much of him.  The ruler did not wish to surrender all to Jesus, to freely give all to Him.  He must hang onto control over part of his life.  Wealthy people have a most difficult time to surrender to Christ and be able to enter into heaven.  It is not impossible for them, just very, very, difficult.  Some lessen the cost of the Lord's call to follow Him.  They will say that one must simply be willing to give one's wealth but not actually give it.  Really?  Willingness to give of what you have must at some point turn into action, for God will call upon you to give of what you have.  Willingness is empty without action at some point to back it up.  It then is quite obvious that we will miss heaven or cause someone else to miss heaven by trying to lessen the demand of Christ.  

       It is time, therefore, for us to be honest and let the Savior of the world speak with the force which He spoke.  This is a desperate world.  War, famine, poverty, disease, drought, death.  All of these can be addressed if only we are willing to give of our abundance.  There is a misconception about wealth.  Christ's disciples were shocked, dismayed.  He was saying something diametrically opposed to what they and everyone else had always thought and believed.  They had always been taught: that prosperity is God's blessing, that a person receives because God is blessing him, that prosperity is the reward of righteousness and obedience, and that God blesses a person with the things of this earth if they are righteous and obedient.

       But Jesus said the direct opposite.  A prosperous person will most likely never enter heaven; that prosperity poses such a dangerous threat to a person that eternal doom is almost assured.  The disciples were utterly shocked.  Who then can be saved?  They were dooming themselves by becoming wealthy.  Since prosperity is not the reward (sign) for righteousness and the rich are barred fromn heaven, that means the poor also are barred; for they spend most of their time dreaming about and seeking prosperity.  Once more, people must come to God for mercy.  They must come to God for forgiveness of their sin.  No one is capable of saving themselves from the wages of sin: death.  

       The last example given is that of the disciples.  They were the living, breathing, examples of what Jesus was teaching here.  They had given up everything and followed after Jesus.  They were to be richly rewarded for their faithfulness to Christ.  But it was not to be prosperity such as material gain.  That is the only concept of prosperity that this world can understand and accept.  No true follower of Christ is ever left alone and destitute.  Christ does not forsake His children nor does He prevent them from having fellowship with Him and with their brethren.  God always meets the physical needs of His children.  Fear and insecurity cause us to crave and be greedy for more, and these two things are most unhealthy and destabilizing within families.  Depending upon Christ means to never have to worry or be anxious ever again.  Keeping our eyes upon what is to come in the future allows us to see the reward of life everlasting that awaits us at the finish line of life.

    That is all for today, beloved.  Grace and peace be yours this day!

    ~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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