Tue, May 28th - 6:57AM
STUDY IN LUKE
In continuing Luke 8:26-39, I see an inherent question arising from verse thirty-three where we see what happens to that herd of swine. There were probably a couple of thousand of the animals. Why were they killed? Christ Jesus did not kill them. He drove the demons from out of the man and into the swine, as requested by the demons. Did Christ know that the herd of swine would jump off of that cliff? Sure. It was the demons that drove that herd off of the cliff and into the sea. Why did Christ allow this to happen then? Here are some possible answers.
1) It was a visible sign that the possessed were now truly saved and freed from the unclean spirits. Only a dramatic act could give unquestionable proof to those who learned of it.
2) It was to convince those who did not believe in evil spirits that there are most definitely evil spirits who do possess bodies. The Sadducees and other liberal thinkers of that day needed to see this truth.
3) It was to teach obedience and holiness. It was against the law for a Jew to own and eat swine (Leviticus 11:7). If the owners of this herd of swine were Jews, they were sinning against the Mosaic Law. Jesus was teaching that His presence demanded holiness and obedience to the Law.
4) It was to teach the value of a human soul. The possessed were of far more value than any amount of material wealth, and even more so if the wealth was gained by breaking the Mosaic Law.
5) It was to attract the attention and open the door for the evangelization of the surrounding area. No doubt news of the Messiah's presence and power would spread and stir the people to open their hearts and receive the message of the healed demoniacs.
6) It was to drive home Jesus' holiness and to arouse the people to acknowledge it; thus the seeking and honest heart would be open for salvation.
7) It was to awaken covetous people to the fact that they were gripped by greed. They were doomed unless they forsook their material possessions and turned to the Messiah. This could have been the best way and the only chance for them to be awakened to their need and to the power of Christ to deliver them.
8) It was to show and reveal the true nature of evil spirits.
Upon learning of the fate of their herd of swine, the reaction of the people revealed the condition of their heart. They witnessed the act, of one of their own being freed from the bondage to unclean spirits, and yet they did not rejoice. Their response was one of fear, fear of Christ's power. They had known the demon-possessed man, how desperate his situation had been. Here he was, delivered and made whole! What amount of power was required for a person to accomplish this feat?
Being overwhelmed with such fear, these people rejected Christ. Probably they were consumed with a sense of judgment due to their swine having been destroyed. Were they also concerned whether the Messiah had come to also pass judgment upon all of them ahead of time? Would Christ destroy even more of their property? If they were Jews they clearly understood how they were breaking the Law by keeping swine. Because of this sin and their uncaring attitude towards the healed demonic they were bound to be fearful standing there face to face with God's Son. Obviously they had chosen to not repent of their sins and to begin living for God. They could feel nothing else other than fear.
So they requested that Jesus leave them, and He honored their request. They chose the swine of the world over the joy and salvation of Christ. As far as we can know Christ never returned to these people who coveted the things of this world more than the things of God. "Do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any person love the world, the love of the Father is not in them. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (I John 2:15-16)."
Finally, I see here the witnessing spirit of a saved man. As soon as this man delivered of the demons possessing him, he begged to be with Christ and to be able to share the good news of Christ. He was evidently on fire for the Lord, and wanted to commit himself to the ministry. But what did Christ do? He redirected the man; He commissioned the man to go to his own hometown. I learn from this that Christ often redirects my fervor and willingness into areas that He knows I can best serve Him and the cause of His kingdom. I also learn here that every person when saved ought to become a dynamic witness for the Lord and be willing to go anyplace for Him. Lastly, I must never allow a redirection or a call to go elsewhere kill my fervor for Christ. I must always be ready to do my Lord's bidding. I must be prepared to witness where God wills, to whom God wills, and for as long as God wills. I must not emulate Jonah and try to run away from God's call to witness. I must be like John the Baptist and embrace it completely. I must also share the Word of God, not the word of Eric.
Grace and peace be with all of you. Summer heat returns to the East coast of America this week so everyone there please use common sense when outdoors and working in it. Look around you! The invisible things of the Godhead can be seen, and understood, by the visible things seen in the creation! We all are without any excuse to believe that God is real, that He exists.
Sun, May 26th - 8:39AM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went out to land, there met Him a certain man from the city, which for a long time had had devils, and wore no clothing, neither lived in any house, but he lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with You, Jesus, You the Son of God most high? I beseech You, do not torment me. (For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For often it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he broke the bands, and was driven by the devil out into the wilderness) And Jesus asked him, saying, What is your name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And the devils besought Him that He would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there a herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they asked Him that He would suffer them to enter into them. And He suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that tended the swine saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the dity and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. Then the entire multitude of the country of the Gadarenes all around requested that He leave them; for they were taken with great fear: and He went up into the ship, and returned back again. Now the man out of whom the devils were departed requested Him that he might be with Him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to your own house, and show how great things God has done to you. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done to him (8:26-39)."
Obviously, I shall not cover this entire passage in this one posting. After calming the wind storm and the raging waves on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus and everyone on the ship reached the other shore in the country of the Gadarenes. Why go there? Jesus had an appointment with a demon possessed man, a life was to be forever changed. The Greek daimonia means evil spirits or demons or devils. There is only one Devil (Revelation 12:9 Diabolos) but there are many demons, or unclean spirits. Demons are spirits (Matthew 12:43-45), they are Satan's emissaries (Matthew 12:26-27), they know their fate is eternal doom (Matthew 8:29; Luke 8:31), they affect man's health (Matthew 12:22; 17:15-18; Luke 13:16), they seduce men to false religions (I Timothy 4:1-3), they seduce men to leave the faith (I Timothy 4:1), they are cast from out of people in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 16:18), and they shall participate in the apocalyptic judgment which is coming upon all of the earth (Revelation 9:1-11, 20).
These unclean spirits are enemies of both God and mankind. They oppress, possess, and obsess people. They delude the world and blind people to the Truth (Ephesians 2:2). They attack theology (I Timothy 4:1-3). They attack society (Revelation 9:3, 20-21). They attack individuals (Luke 8:29). And they influence people to commit sins of demon-worship, idolatry, sorcery, fornication, theft, murder, self-mutilation, rape, and so much more (Revelation 9:20-21). Our defense, as believers, is God. We must pray and fast and take on the armor of God in order to stand against their power and influence (Matthew 17:21; Ephesians 6:12).
This passage of Scripture not only exposes the character of unclean spirits it also reveals Christ's power to deliver people from these unclean spirits. It exposes the fact that these unclean spirits are well aware of who Jesus Christ is. It exposes the fact that the spirit of a delivered person is different after being delivered from the bondage to unclean spirits. At least ten characteristics of demons/unclean spirits are to be seen in this passage.
1) They are enemies of people, possessing a person for long periods of time. They take hold of a person, controlling his/her mind and causing that person to act abnormally, hurting both themselves and others.
2) They cause people to lose their sense of shame and conscience. This particular man was driven to run around naked and live in tombs. These demons destroy peoples' sense of modesty, privacy, intimacy, and respect. They cause people to enjoy the attention of public exposure and the embarrassment of others.
3) They cause alienation, the loss of all friends and social life. They lead a person to be cut off, ostracized from others. They often force a person to withdraw into themself and away from others, including immediate family; or they cause society to push the person away, forcing them to live alone or with others like themselves. They often destroy a person by making them live as it were among the dead, among those who have no contact with the world of the living.
4) They are enraged against God. They know exactly who Jesus Christ is and they oppose and fear Him.
5) They seize people. Their influence and unrestrained nature are not necessarily something that is to be exerted over a person 24/7.
6) They hate restraint and cause people to mistreat and oppose others. They drive people to struggle against morality and justice and against being governed, restricted, controlled, and disciplined. They drive people to live wild and loose lives, to do as they please. They cause people to become unclean, sullen, violent, and malicious.
7) They take away a person's name, their identity, and their recognition. They deprive a person of purpose, meaning, significance. They destroy a person's self-image and public image.
8) They are numerous and formidable. When asked what his name was, this man cried out that it was Legion. In the Roman military legion included over six thousand men. This particular man's circumstances were desperate to say the least.
9) They desire a body to inhabit for the purpose of working evil. They desire to be malicious, violent, and destructive. In this passage we only hear the words spoken by the demons, not by the man possessed. They indwell and hurt a person physically, mentally, and spiritually. They wished to hurt others by damaging and destroying their property. They wished to keep other people from Christ by destroying property and having them blame God for said destruction and loss.
10) They are subject to God's power and authority. Christ Jesus had the power of His Word. The devil's poer may be great, but the Word of Christ is omnipotent/all powerful, for all power belongs to Him (I John 4:4; Romans 8:31).
We also see that these unclean spirits did not desire to be sent back "into the deep." This implies a place. These demonic spirits clearly are not comfortable when not inhabiting a living organism, they did not want to be sent back to this other place. Now, this could refer to either the bottomless pit or some other place where unclean spirits are held. At any rate, we can clearly see the outcome of Jesus' Words: the man was saved; the evil spirits were cast out of him. Christ had the power to deliver and save. There was no required recovery period for the man either. He was immediately restored and restored completely.
I will stop here for today, beloved. Next time I will finish this passage by looking at the swine, the covetous people's reaction, and the witnessing of a delivered person. Until then, grace and peace be yours on this Memorial Day weekend here in America. I hope that all Americans will remember and honor the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for each person on this planet, as well as those made by military personnel in defense of America. These men and women have provided Americans with liberty and the opportunity to engage in the pursuit of happiness and freely express their religious beliefs without persecution.
Wed, May 22nd - 11:24PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"Now it came to pass on a certain day, that He went into a ship with His disciples: and He said to them, Let us go over to the other side of the lake. And they launched out from shore. But as they sailed He fell asleep: and there came down a wind storm on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then He arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And He said to them, Where is your faith? And being afraid they wondered, saying to one another, What manner of man is this? for He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him (8:22-25)."
The lake mentioned in this passage is none other than the Sea of Gallilee. That slightly confusing tidbit is easily explained. The sea was sometimes referred to as a lake, for it was an inland body of water. But the much larger point being made in this short passage has to do with the visibility of Jesus' Deity and sovereignty.
We are given two pictures of Christ's humanity in these verses. First, He needed and requested the help of the disciples. He wanted to cross the "lake." He could have walked around the lake for it was only a mile's journey, but He wanted to go by boat and get some separation from the huge crowds of people following Him everywhere. The constant pressure and physical strain upon Christ's human body needed to be released for a period of time so that He could become reinvigorated. Second, Jesus was tired and needed some sleep, obviously. He was fully God, but was also fully man, flesh and blood; thus He suffered exhaustion just as any other hard-working person does. Now we must always keep Christ accurately in focus. In studying His deity we must also keep His humanity in mind, and vice versa. In keeping Christ's humanity in perspective it heightens His deity even more. Huh? How so? In Christ having to suffer through life as a man shows us the great love of God. God identifies with man, and He identifies fully in every way ind in everything. He knows how we feel and suffer because He came and was fully human. He knows all of the trials and troubles and daily routines of life; thus He is able to save us completely. His humanity shows us the great power of God. First, His power is displayed in Him becoming a human being, to bring about the Incarnation. Appearing before us as flesh and blood, Christ is a powerful demonstration of God's immense sovereignty. He can do anything, even become a Man. Christ's humanity shows God's power to control physical events. When Christ the carpenter calms a storm on the sea and multiplies food, the power and sovereignty of God are stressed much more than when some mystical force or freak accident happens to intevene in physical events. When Christ stands and speaks, all the universe stops to listen and heed. God's power is clearly visible in this passage. It is visible and there is no question about it.
Now we also can observe that Christ had confidence in His disciples. He entrusted His life to them. The future of His heavenly work was placed directly into their hands. They sailed the ship, He went and found a place to go to sleep. Fatigue must have been rather great, He did not awaken even when the storm began to rage all around the ship. The ship was taking on water at an alarming rate and the disciples, all experienced fishermen, were getting scared. Christ obviously felt that they had sufficient skill to handle crossing the lake, besides, He was physically present with them. Yes, it was demanding work requiring all the seamen's skills they possessed, but Christ knew that they could deal with things. Christ expects the same from us today, does He not? He is spiritually present with us, has assigned tasks to us, and fully expects us to begin working upon completing these tasks using the skills that we already have. God is with us, why should we fear? Where is our faith?
So we witness the disciples coming to Christ crying out, "Master, master, we perish!" Obviously they had no problem properly identifying their need. They surely believed and were confident that He could save them from drowning in this storm. But how far did their faith actually go? Their cries of desperation and fear were what awakened Him. Christ awakened to their need and immediately the danger and fear were relieved, were calmed. Why did the calm and stillness come? Because they cried out to Him in all earnestness and honesty. Christ rebuked the wind and the raging waves of the lake by simply speaking. It was His Word that brought these natural elements back to calmness. Christ's Word brings calm both within nature and within fearful human hearts. We see that His mastery over the waters and wind were absolute, revealing that He was sovereign Lord of the universe. Additionally, His mastery over the fearfulness of the human heart clearly showed that He was the loving God so desperately needed by people everywhere.
We learn in this passage that Christ can calm the storms of suffering, bankruptcy, temptation, loss, hatred, passion, lust, trial, anger, grief, and persecution that enter a person's life. But to bring calm into the storms of life requires doing what the disciples did, coming to Christ earnestly. We must acknowledge that we are perishing, believing that Christ can save, and crying out for Christ to indeed save us. We also learn in this passage that the Word of God is the Source and Power that brings calmness to the storms of life.
Look carefully at Christ's question, "Where is your faith?" Contrasted here is His confidence with their confidence. He was trusting in God the Father; why were they not trusting God? There are three things here that we must see. 1) Jesus was stressing the absolute neccessity for His people to have faith in God. He demonstrated faith perfectly in sleeping even in the midst of the storm. His life was in the hands of God; He had willingly put it there. His destiny was under God's control and at God's disposal. 2) Jesus was rebuking the disciples, their fear and lack of faith. They should have labored on against the storm knowing that He was nearby and would never have allowed them to perish in the storm. They should have known that their lives and destiny were in His hands and under His love and care and power. The faith of each and every disciple is to be used and not be dormant, lying within their hearts doing nothing. Faith exists for the purpose of struggling against the storm. We need to remember to exercise our faith when the storm comes into our life. The very time to use our faith is when the storms come and assail us, not afterwards. We see that the disciples feared just like those who stand in the presence of God Himself. They obviously did not fully understand the Person of Christ. But obviously they stood in the presence of One who wielded immense power and authority over the natural world. We this reaction in them in that they were afraid, they wondered, and asked "Who is this?" The last question was exactly what Christ wanted them to pondering. They needed to to be thinking about who He really was.
Today we all must be thinking long and hard about who Christ Jesus really is. Are we trusting completely in Him? Where is our faith being placed? In God? In ourselves? In the government? In our church? If we say that we believe Christ Jesus is God, have we also placed our complete faith in Him? Have we wrapped our brains around the fact that God dwells within us and is everywhere we are? Do we truly understand that He sees what we see, hears what we hear, knows what we think? Do we? If we do, then our behavior will be changed and we will act like we are ambassadors of the King. Amen!
Grace and peace be with you all! Prayers need to be continuously lifted up for all of the people being affected by severe weather in America's heartland this week. Thanksgiving should be offered up for lives spared. Faith in Christ must be exercised in the midst of these storms that so completely transform lives forever.
Fri, May 17th - 10:26PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"Then came to Him His mother and His brethren, and could not come to Him because of the press of people. And it was told Him by certain people which said, Your mother and Your brethren stand outside, desiring to see You. And he answered and said to them, My mother and My brethren are these people which hear the Word of God, and do it (8:19-21)."
Can there be any doubt in your mind about what must happen after hearing the Word of God? Hear it, do it. To society today immediate family is generally considered as the closest bond to be found upon this earth. The truth? Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. It ought to always be extremely close. But it is not. Christ teaches there is a closer bond than that of the family, the bond that binds Him and His disciples together. This is the basic lesson to be taken from this passage, and it can be discovered in Matthew 12:46-50 and even Mark 3:31-35.
We see that Jesus' family seeks Him out. We can plainly see that they have not come on a family visit, or a normal social call upon a member of the family. Jesus was in the midst of preaching and teaching the gathered crowd of people. Did Jesus stop preaching because family had come to see Him? No. He continued on with His preaching, even using His family as a point in teaching a great spiritual truth. We know from other scriptural passages that His siblings did not currently believe He was the Messiah. So we know that they did not come to learn from Him or to listen to what He had to say about God and repentance. We also know that they chose to not make their way through the crowd gathered, choosing to send someone else into the house to speak to Jesus. We can understand why Jesus' mother came, but why were His siblings there to see Him?
From John 2:12, "After this He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples: and they continued there not many days." We see that He and His family and His disciples all went down to Capernaum. It appears that some of them initially supported Jesus and His disciples. Then in Luke 4:16-31 we are told that the family witnessed two incredible events at the beginning of Christ's ministry when He visited their hometown of Nazareth. They heard Jesus claim to be the Messiah, followed by their own neighbors and friends reject and violently try to kill their brother. Can you imagine the shock and the fear at such actions? How about the embarrassment in the days that followed, as they walked about on their daily business? It must have been extremely difficult to live and work and face one's neighbors after such an incident.
The family was under constant pressure from friends to bring Jesus to them, to bring Him home. These were people who felt themselves close enough to the family to advise them of what to do. First, these friends requested that the family bring home the son who claimed to be the Messiah so that they could personally meet Him. Then, once He came they violently rejected Him and His message from God, even persuading the siblings of Jesus that they were right in their beliefs. Jesus' brothers did not believe Him nor did they support Him. Their unbelief eventually turned into ridicule about six months before the crucifixion. None of them came to believe until after His resurrection. We can therefore conclude that Mary and her children had come to bring Jesus home with them. The siblings seemed to have decided that Jesus was either insane or else caught up in the frenzy and honor of the people. I like to think that Mary went along to make sure that her children did not take matters too far into their own hands.
God teaches us here that true kinship is not based upon human relationships. A true family does not exist just because some people have common blood, genes, and traits. This is clearly proven out over and over again throughout the annals of human history. Too many families are in turmoil, divided and and in the process of being torn apart. Too many families are in constant conflict ranging from verbal attacks to murderous assaults. We find parent against child, child against parent, brother against brother, sister against sister, relative against relative, and husband against wife. In so many cases none of them have any sort of clear idea as to why they are at each others' throats.
What Christ teaches here is that true kinship is based only upon the Word of God: hearing it and then doing it. The emphasis is upon doing it. The person closest to God is the one who obeys God, who takes His Word seriously. The child who obeys is the child closest to his/her parent's heart. The deepest relationships in life are not determined by blood, but by hearts and minds being molded together. The deepest relationships are founded upon common purposes and cares and conduct. Yet the Christian has something even beyond these things: he/she has the Word of God. So what happens when someone hears and then does the Word of God?
1) God takes this person's heart and life and welds it together with the hearts and lives of other like believers. These people, by hearing and doing the Word of God, are spiritually bound together
in the family of God.
A. Adoption is only by redemption through acceptance of Christ Jesus. (Galatians 4:4-6, John 1:12, Romans 8:15-17, Ephesians 2:18-19, Isaiah 43:1).
B. Adoption is only by separation from the world and turning to God. (II Corinthians 6:17-18, Hebrews 2:11, Deuteronomy 14:2).
2) Believers become a people who search God's Word out, absorb it into their lives and do it. God's Word becomes their life and behavior. Believers obey the three basic commandments:
A. The commandment of God (I John 3:23).
B. The commandment of Christ (John 5:24).
C. The greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40).
3) Believers live obediently in a very special relationship to God and Christ (John 14:21, I Peter 2:2-3, II Timothy 2:15).
4) Believers act together and live together in fellowship within the church and society. They are united together by God's Word and God's true family (Acts 2:42, Romans 12:5, I Corinthians 10:17
I Corinthians 12:12-13, I Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 4:13).
5) Believers become God's new community, new society, new race, new nation of people, new priesthood, new ambassadors. They become His Church, His new creation: spiritually and super-
naturally born again, who make up the true family of God (Ephesians 2:18-22).
Take time to read the Ephesians 2:18-22 cite. It makes it rather clear that through Jesus we become part of a new family. We might be bond-servants of Christ at the outset, yet He, through His love for us adopts us as heirs with Him of the new life found in Him. We become a peculiar people, a royal priesthood, a body of believers called to be His Church. Christ is the chief building block upon which each of us must build our life in order to become able to edify others in the family of God. Each of us are also a dwelling place for the Spirit of God, who unites all believers into one Body, one Belief, one Faith, one Church. Without the Holy Spirit within us, there can be no unity, no one faith, no one belief, no one Church, and no Body. Without the Holy Spirit there can be no fellowship and relationship with Christ and God the Father. Think upon this.
Grace and peace be to you and your loved ones this day! This Sunday is Trinity Sunday as well as Memorial Day weekend in America. Take time to remember, and honor, those who have given their lives so that all Americans may live in freedom. Take time to remember and honor Christ, who gave His life so that all people may live in liberty, free from the bondage of sin.
Fri, May 17th - 7:22AM
STUDY IN LUKE
Luke 8:18 speaks to us of taking care how we hear the Word of Truth. Truth is narrow and so we find a severe warning concerning the consequences of improper truth seeking. We find ourselves being referred back to the "seed" in the parable of the sower. Christ warns that we must hear and use what we hear if we want to be given things from God. If we choose to hear and do not use what we hear, then what we have shall be taken away. Ouch! Hear that Sons and Daughters of Christ? Hear that, all you people who only show up in church on Sunday mornings? Hear that, you unbelievers of God? I therefore see two points here. 1) I must take heed how I hear. I can hear but hear incorrectly. I can think and guess and suppose I know what I hear, but it is false and counterfeit and shall be stripped away at the last. I suppose it could be considered self-deceit. I must "take heed" and discern what I hear. I must make sure that I have the Truth, and nothing but the Truth. 2) The reason I need to watch how I hear is extremely clear: the Truth shall be rewarded, but the seemingly true shall be stripped away. If I use what I hear, I shall be given more; if I do not use what I have, even what I do have will be taken away.
A Biblical principle is that seekers and achievers do receive and get more from God. The complacent and non-dreamer receive little and get less. This is the law of nature. The early bird gets the worm; the late comer gets little and remains hungry. It is the law of man. Men reward energy and effort, production and results. They threaten and often take away from the lazy and inactive. Those who work and practice and are diligent and persistent will always see and hear and get. They are in a position to get more and more and to be given more and more. But the lazy and non-worker, the neglectful and unfaithful will always lose.
All through life I either gain or lose. I seldom, if ever, stand still. It all depends upon the dreams, the effort, and the energy I am willing to exert. This is also a law of God. "But seek you first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33)." "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: for every one that asks receves; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened (Matthew 7:7-8)." "He that is faithful in that whichis least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much (Luke 16:10)." I can, therefore, see that this verse is both a great encouragement and a realistic threat It encourages me if I am: faithful, diligent, steadfast, working, persevering, consistent, enduring, hard-working, hard-practicing, a beginner and finisher, an initiator and finalizer, and hard-studying. It is a realistic and understandable threat if i am: lazy, idle, complacent, inconsistent, close-minded, close-eyed, close-cared, self-satisfied, sluggish, slothful, shiftless, purposeless, late sleeper, late starter, time-waster, or misguided. "And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end: that you not be slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:11-12)." "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord (Romans 12:11)." "The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat (Proverbs 10:5)." "Do not love sleep, otherwise you will end up in poverty: Open your eyes, and you shall be satisfied with bread (Proverbs 20:13)." "For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags (Proverbs 23:21)."
I have learned in this passage that when ever I hear God's Truth I must do something with it. I must listen to it carefully with all of my attention. Then I must carefully consider what I have heard and put it into action within my life. If I choose to do this, then God rewards me with even more than I already have, just not necessarily with money and/or possessions. But if I choose to not listen carefully to God's Truth and do something with it, then God will take away from me all that I have, even that which I love most dearly in all of the world. So what? Well, this teaches me that Christianity is not some easy way out type of belief system for those people who do not want to be a part of the world. Christianity is a tough choice to make, one that, if not taken seriously then it will cost you everything that you have. Christianity is not something where you can simply come to church every Sunday, throw a few bucks into the offering plate as it passes by you, and then go back to behaving the same way on Monday morning as you did on Saturday evening. Christianity is all about hearing the Truth and then being transformed into something better. Faith in Christ is all about consistent change in behavior and thought. Christianity is all about loving your neighbor like you love yourself. Loving yourself arises from knowledge that God so loves you that He came down from heaven to save you from eternal death, due to your sins, by dying upon a wooden cross to pay that debt. You live because He came and died for you. You are forgiven because He was forsaken and crucified in your place. Therefore, love Christ for redeeming you from eternal death into eternal life with Him. Amen!
Grace and peace be yours this day! Walk in the Light, reflect the Light, and teach others about the Light!
Sat, May 11th - 7:05AM
STUDY IN LUKE
The first fundamental principle was that a candle's purpose was to give light. The light also has a purpose in and of itself. Christ Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world" (John 8:12, 9:5). Here in this passage of Luke He says that the disciple is to be like Himself. This requires the disciple to undergo a radical transformation, a metamorphosis. The disciple is to become like Christ more and more and to reflect the light of Christ as is stated in II Corinthians 3:18 and 4:6-7. Light is and does several things:
1) It is clear and pure. It is clean, good, right, and true (Ephesians 5:8).
2) It penetrates and cuts through darkness, eliminating the darkness.
3) It enlightens. It enlarges one's vision and knowledge of an area.
4) It reveals. It opens up the truth about an area, a whole new world, and it clears the way so that a person can see the truth and the life (John 14:6).
5) It guides (John 12:36, 46). It directs the way to go and leads along the right path.
6) It strips away (John 3:19-20). It unclothes the darkness that blackens life.
7) It routs the chaos. It brings peace to the disturbance caused by walking in complete darkness.
8) It warns. It warns of dangers that lie ahead in one's path, enabling one to avoid them.
The second fundamental principle of life is that secrecy is impossible. All things shall be found out by God. Note the three things said in verse seventeen. It said that people try to hide things, try to keep certain things secret. They may try to hide sin and shame. They sin in the dark and behind closed doors, and when away from home and friends, and by keeping secret journals or bank accounts. They strive to be deceptive, leading double lives. People also try to hide possessions in order to avoid having to give or spend more. People try to hide abilities and talents, otherwise they might have to serve and use them. They prefer the comfort of complacency and plenty instead of the rigors and sacrifice required to meet the needs of a suffering world. People try to hide the Light and the Truth they have come to know. They are lazy, complacent, embarrassed, apprehensive, fearful; or else they lack vision, willingness, commitment, initiative, and endurance to set the Light and Truth out before men. They choose to simply keep quiet within their own small section of the world, unwilling to sacrifice and deny oneself in order to go and share Jesus' light with those still out in darkness and ignorance. People think they will never be "found out." They think that their secret/s will remain hidden forever and never become known to anyone else. They believe that no one can discover what they have hidden, not mom and dad, not friends, not spouse or children, not the preacher or God, not society or church. People feel they are safe by keeping the secret. They feel bad consequences will never happen to them: suffering and punishment, bad and evil will never fall directly upon them. They may feel confident that they will be able to keep the secret hid forever and escape punishment.
But the truth of the matter is that Christ stated to us that nothing, absolutely nothing, will be hid forever. Every secret thing will be revealed and opened up for all to see. If not by people, it is seen by God. He shall reveal the secret things kept hidden by people from other people. In the Day of Judgment God shall reveal the truth, if not sooner. All of the deception, the masks, the cloaks, the disguises, the secrets, the hidden things of all people shall be stripped away and unveiled; then all shall see the truth for it shall be made manifest for all to view (Romans 2:2, 6, 11, 16). "In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel (Romans 2:16)." " For now You number my steps: do You not watch over my sin? (Job 14:16)" "For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14)." "I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every person according to that person's ways, and according to the fruit of that person's doings (Jeremiah 17:10)." "For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right (Amos 5:12)."
I therefore must always remain aware that God sees all that I do, knows all that I think, hears all that I say, whether other people witness it or not. So going to a different part of the city to "have fun" does no good in tricking God into not knowing what I am about to do. Traveling to another state or country to satisfy my lusts and then going back home to act like nothing has happened does not work with God always knowing what I am purposing in my heart. Deception is futile when it concerns God. Light drives away the darkness, reveals what once was hidden by the lack of it. It is one reason why Christ exhorted people to stop fighting against God and come to the Light and leave the Darkness behind. I must understand that while there may be a small measure of "comfort" found while living in darkness, it is very temporary and too often simply an illusion. I must realize that while living and walking in darkness I can't see the pitfalls that lie in front of my path through life. I can't see the consequences of my chosen actions for they are hidden from my sight by the darkness. So, I must choose to come out of the darkness and step into the light. Once I choose this action and accept Christ Jesus, I am to then begin actively striving to become an accurate mirror of Christ in order to reflect His Light back into the world around me. This action helps me to clearly see what is going on all around me, but also helps some other people around me to begin to see what is happening in their lives. The Light changes a person's life forever once it enters into it. It is this Light that I pray will enter both of my daughter's hearts and enable them to "see" what the darkness has kept hidden from them via mental illness. The same prayer goes for all four of my grandchildren, that they will be able to one day have God's light reveal to them the truth about their lives, and the lives of their parents and grandparents. When that day comes it will transform them forever more.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I finish up with this passage of scripture by writing about the third fundamental principle of life: Truth seeking. Grace and peace be yours this day!
Wed, May 8th - 6:43AM
STUDY IN LUKE
"No man, when he has lighted a candle, covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a candlestick, that they who enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. take heed therefore how you hear: for whosoever has, to him shall be given; and whosoever has not, from him shall be taken even that which he seems to have (8:16-18)."
We discern three priniciples of life in this short passage:
1) A candle, a life, is for the purpose of giving light. The candle is a given candle, not purchased or earned. God gives the candle to each and every person. It is a key concept. The candle is a gift from God. A person has it, but must use it in order for it to be of any benefit. Therefore, a person's life must be used in order to be of any benefit to others. Here is where much debate centers upon when a "person" becomes a person in the womb of a woman.
2) The candle is to be lit. The candle remains full of potential light while it remains unlit; it is not fulfilling its primary function of being. Its function is to give light, but it could be used for other purposes, useful purposes, such as decorations to beautify, as wax to plug holes and fill gaps, as a stick-like object to push or pull, or as an ornament to attract attention. A person's life remains full of potential while remaining unused for its primary function; it could be used for other purposes such as a life that entices others and centers upon self, or that seeks to plug and fill the "gaps" of society. In most cases the life of a person is helpful and useful, but the life has yet to fulfill its primary function. What purpose has a life been made and formed to accomplish? The life of a person has to be "lit" before it can give light. The person him/herself is the one who has to take the initiative to have his/her life "lit." A person must come to Christ, the Light of the World, and receive the quickening Spirit of His Light. A person must reach out for the Light that is Jesus Christ. Christ is the Light, but a person must put the candle of life up to the light of Christ in order to be "lit", ignited, and quickened (John 1:9, 8:12, 11:9-10, 12:36&46, Ephesians 5:8).
3) The candle is not to be hidden. Once the candle has been ignited no one covers it up with a basket or puts it under their bed. To do such would be ludicrous, foolish, unreasonable. All the energy and effort and purpose for lighting the cande is gone down toilet it it is hidden under a bed or covered over. The candle and its light become useless, of no purpose. Thus a person's life, once ignited by the love of Christ Jesus, must not be "hidden" or kept secret. It must be set up upon the candlestick and allow everyone who enters that life to be able to see that Light. I pray that I am doing so in my life. How about you?
4) The candle is to be comspicuous, placed high upon a candlestick. Every genuine believer has had their candle ignited, they have touched Christ, the Light of the World, and Christ has given them light. Therefore, the believer burns and shows forth the Light of Christ. How brightly does the believer shine then? His/her light may be bright or dim, strong or weak, flickering or soaring, blinking or flooding, smoking or clear. Christ says that it is foolish to have Light and to not turn it on so that it is conspicuously giving off light for all to see. "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified inmy body, whether it be by life, or by death (Philippians 1:20)."
5) The candle is to be seen by all who enter. This is the very purpose of a lighted candle, to provide light to see clearly. Light does numerous things.
That is all for now, beloved. I hope that you all have a blessed day, full of "light." May your "candle" shine brightly and be seen clearly by all who enter your life. May your life accurately reflect that of Christ, that Christ may be magnified by all that you do this day, and every day.
Sat, May 4th - 9:28PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And when many people were gathered together, and came to Him from out of every city, He spoke by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air consumed it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprouted up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprouted up with it, and choked it out. And other fell on good ground, and sprouted up, and bore fruit a hundredfold. And when He had said these things, He cried, He that has ears to hear, let him hear. And His disciples asked Him, saying, What might this parable mean? And He said, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then the devil comes and takes away the Word out of their hearts, otherwise they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they which, when they hear, receive the Word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go out, and are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience (8:4-15)."
The entire nation of Israel was in a state of revival tension. It had begun with John the Baptist and now continued with Christ Jesus. Jesus not only came out of Nazareth claiming to be the Messiah, He also demonstrated this with a phenomenal display of power, the power of God. Jesus knew peoples' hearts, knew that very many of them were not gathering out of sincerity of seeking the Lord. These people lacked a real spirit of repentance, a genuine faith in God, a willingness to sacrifice, an honest commitment, a consistent obedience, and a changed life. Jesus knew that many in this multitude were following Him because of family and friends, of the fellowship, of the social identification, of "good" feelings, and since some of their needs were being met.
The sheer insincerity of so many people saddened Christ Jesus. Yet, He still wanted to warn them all and to reach as many as possible. That is what this parable is all about. God needs people to understand that hearing the Word of God is not enough. In the Book of James we are exhorted to not be just hearers of the Word, but to become doers of the Word as well. To only receive the Word of God in a limited fashion dooms the hearer to failure. Satan will come and steal it away from you if you are not careful at the outset. Make the Word of God a part of you early on. Do not feed your faith by reading and studying the Word of God and there will be no "root" with which to nourish you in times of temptation and tribulation. Your faith will dry up and wither away. Do not make the Word of God the most important thing in your faith-walk and the cares, pleasures, riches, and distractions of this world will drown the call of God out and carry you away. You can't become an ambassador of Christ if you do not know Christ and do not understand what He wants you to do, and why.
See how the parable warns everyone? All who hear the Word of God, at whatever point in their lives, must be aware of the consequences. It gives great assurance to those who do hear: they shall definitely bear fruit. The seed that the preacher and teacher sow shall bear some fruit as well as fall upon the ears of those who do not completely comprehend the serious nature of the world that they live in. Some who hear the Word of God today do not believe that it is necessary to study the Bible, only to walk by faith. But when troubles enter into their life they do not have great enough faith to endure and they end up turning away from God, blaming Him for their hardships.
Why use this parable? It was a well known daily task, sowing seeds. Those who farm can clearly understand the very basic premise which remained unspoken: You must go out in order to sow seed in the field. One can't remain sitting inside watching television or reading the Bible and sow seed. One must get up, go out, and physically sow seed in order for something to then germinate, sprout, and then grow into faith in Christ. So, how many today do not go out? Of those who do, how many really sow the seed of the Word? It is so easy for the minister and believer to sit in the comfort of the home or office and rest and work instead of going out sowing seeds, to visit and care tor the flock in their needs rather than going out into the fields to sow.
Jesus said four things happened to the seed when it was sown. Some seed fell by the wayside, off to the side, out of the prepared rows and onto the walking paths. The paths, of course, were trampled down by workers and the soil hard-packed; thus the seed just lay on top and the birds could come down and eat it easily. Some seed fell upon rocks which were at or just under the surface of the soil. This seed grew quickly because of the water lying upon the rock after a rain. But soon the water evaporated and the root withered because the rock was left bare and dry. The sun then heated the rock and cooked the seed. Some seed fell among the thorns. The seed could sprout but so did the thorns which grew faster and inevitably choked the seed to death. Other seed fell on good ground, sprang up and became very fruitful. Immediately upon finishing this parable Jesus cried with a loud voice. Hear the warning! Really listen to My Words and do not scoff at them! It is life or death!
The disciples wanted to understand the parable because they could sense that something very important had been explained to all of them within earshot of Christ. First, Jesus told all of the disciples why He was speaking in parables. Up to this time Jesus had been teaching by direct statements and clear illustrations. But now His approach was to change. All of the people had been receiving the Word of God directly for some time and now Christ wished to discover the open hearts among the people. He wished to reveal the people who were really looking for God, to learn all that they could about the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Parables are anything but easy in grasping their meaning, they require much more thought. Those people who really desired to learn would think, ponder, wrestle with, and ask until he/she could discover the meaning to the parable.
What Christ said about seeking the truth is especially true about those who already know God personally. It is also true of the multitude of people, of any who are genuine in their search for God but have not yet found Him. Those people who are genuinely sincere in knowing the Truth will search it out no matter how much time or effort is required. Still, we also see that Christ did not want the Truth to be easily revealed to "closed minds." These minds are hardened and unwilling to consider the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. They sat out in the crowds around Jesus, heard His Words of Truth, understood them and the illustrations yet did not deem it important enough to discover the hidden meaning of the parable. They did not consider the time and effort worth it. Jesus and His message were interesting, however, it was not worth it to not be carnally minded. We also saw this in Matthew 13:10-17, where Jesus chose to speak in parables in order to separate the close-minded from the true seekers of God.
We are here given a clear interpretation of the parable from Jesus Himself, no searching needed. The sower is the Lord Jesus Christ or a servant of His. The servants of Christ are laborers together with God, as seen in I Corinthians 3:9. The seed is the Word of God or the Word of the kingdom. It is called the incorruptible seed (I Peter 1:23), and the gospel which brings forth fruit (Colossians 1:5-6). The ground upon which the seed is sown is the heart of the hearer. Jesus said two significant things about the ground. There are different ways to hear and receive the Word (seed). And He warns all hearers: the fate of the Word, how well it grows, depends upon the hearer. The success of the "seed" depends solely upon the condition of the "soil." If the heart(soil) is soft and rich, and cleared of all junk, weeds, and brush, plowed and cultivated, then it is ready to receive the Word and have it grow into maturity.
The seed by the way side is the person who does hear the Word of God. He/she is present, but he/she is off to the side, out of the way, not involved. He/she lets his/her mind wander and thinks little about what has been heard. This person even respects the preacher and Christ, not thinking to ever miss a service, but he/she is on the outer circle, paying little attention to the warnings and promises of the Word preached each time. So what? This person, before they can believe the Word of God is true, has it stolen away by Satan. He takes it away before they can ever begin to apply it to his/her life. Here is where Judas Iscariot sat. Here is where king Herod sat as he enjoyed listening to John the Baptist (Mark 6:20).
The seed landing on the rock is the person who hears the Word, and becomes excited over it. The person receives the Word, professes belief in Christ, and makes a profession of faith before the public. But this person fails to count the cost, to consider the commitment, the self-denial, the sacrifice, the study, the learning, the hours and effort required. This person does not apply him/herself to learn Christ; thus, this person does not become rooted and grounded in God's Word. This person remains a superficial believer in Christ.
The seed falling among the thorns is the person who receives the Word and honestly tries, professes, to live for Christ. Everything about Christ, His church, His disciples, its activities, appeal to this person. This person will even profess Christ while walking about in daily affairs. The problem is in the "thorns" or worldliness present around them. This person is unwilling to cut completely free from the world. This person refuses to believe that it is necessary to separate oneself from the ways of the world. This person will live a double life, trying to live for Christ and yet still live out in the world. This person believes that it is possible to out-grow the "thorns." It is not possible. The cares, riches, and pleasures of this world will suck a person back into the race for possessions, status, and money. An example of this is found in the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18, Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1. We need to recognize the three areas that choke life out of us: 1) The cares of life (Matthew 6:25; Matthew 6:31; Luke 12:29; I Peter 5:7; Psalm 39:6). 2) The riches of this life (Mark 4:19; I Timothy 6:9; James 5:3; Deuteronomy 8:13-14; Jeremiah 17:11; Matthew 19:23). 3) The pleasures of this life (Luke 12:19; I Timothy 5:6; II Timothy 3:1-2, 4; Titus 3:3; II Peter 2:13; James 5:5; Isaiah 47:8-9).
The seed falling on good ground are those who have an honest and good heart. When they hear the Word, they keep it. "Honest" means fair, noble, and just. It has the idea of holding fast. These people are honest and fair in listening to the Word and considering it. They honestly seek to learn and know truth, spiritual as well as the physical. Their hearts are good, meaning devopted, committed, given over to the truth. They also keep the Word and do not let Satan steal it away from them. Neither do they allow the tribulations of this world steal it away nor the cares, riches, and pleasures of this world to crowd it out of their minds. They then bear fruit with patience. They endure and study, grow, and serve more and more as time passes by. They constantly water, cultivate, pull weeds, and fertilize until the fruit is mature and plucked in harvest, going home to the Master of the house.
If I fail to "de-weed" my personal life of sins, I am going to be over whelmed by them in time. Rather than being available to go out witness for Christ, I will be forced to stay home and deal with the consequences of my failure to get rid of sin in my life earlier. If I do not feed my faith in Christ, how will it ever grow and get stronger? If I do not water my faith in Christ, how will it remain strong and vibrant? Cultivation requires me to spend time regularly working over my heart condition, seeking out any rogue sins that might be beginning to crop up. Self examination is necessary, otherwise I can easily become deceived into thinking that I am "home free."
That is all for today, beloved! Much food for thought on what you and I do each and every time that we hear the Word of God. Next time I will look at three fundamental principles of life. Grace and peace be with you all!
Wed, May 1st - 6:13PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And it came to pass afterward, that He went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with Him. And certain woemn, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils. And Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered to Him of their substance (8:1-3)."
In this passage we discover that women were not marginalized in the ministry of Christ. Women supported His ministry of preaching, discipleship, and salvation. Preaching was what Jesus did on an ongoing basis. This was one of His primary calls and missions. Looking at the term "afterward" (en toi kathexes) we learn that it means one after the other, an orderly, successive step. It gives us the impression that right after the banquet at Simon's home Jesus left and went back to preaching and proclaiming the gospel. He was not distracted by conversation, confrontation, or persecution. What we see is that these women supported a genuine, valid, preaching ministry and not a misdirected effort to simply give stuff to people. We should note a couple of things here.
1. These women supported a ministry that did outreach. Jesus went throughout every city and village. He had a compassion for all people and went to where they were. He sought out everyone within His reach at this time. Jesus did not seek out fame and fortune. Jesus came to reach people for His Father in heaven.
2. These women supported a ministry that was true to the gospel. This was a ministry that proclaimed the the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God. Christ did not preach social activism, social change, class warfare, politics, religion, ritual, ceremony or ordinance, laws and rules, works and deeds, mind and spirit, soul and body, thinking and reasoning. He most certainly touched upon all of these, but they were not His primary message. His primary message was the "good news." "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 to life (John 5:24)." "And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment (I John 3:23)."
Verse one contains the term "preaching" coming from the Greek word kerusso meaning to proclaim, to publish, to be a herald, to preach the gospel as a herald. There is also the point that Christ "showed" the glad tidings. Euaggelizomenos means to preach glad tidings, to announce glad tidings, to declare good news, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. This Greek word closely resembles the English word, evangelism. By the very nature of their work, preachers are evangelists. They are heralds coming in the name of the King, representing the King, called to be ambassadors of Christ. The preacher is to have no message of his/her own, only that of Christ Jesus.
Discipleship is also packed into this passage. Making disciples was vitally important then, and remains so even today. Those people who are chosen to go out and preach and show the glad tidings of the kingdom of God require other people to support them, to minister to their needs. These women had chosen to do this ministering full time in order that disciples could give themselves completely to serving Christ.
We can also find that these women supported Christ out of devotion. Each and every one of them had been personally reached and touched by Christ. As a result they ministered to Him of all that they owned and were. We should also note who these women were. Mary Magdalene had been delivered of seven demons and was one of Jesus' primary supporters. She was among the women who courageously stood near the cross; she was one to whom Jesus appeared after His resurrection. Joanna was married to the steward of Herod. He was the court official who looked after the king's estate and financial matters. His was a very trusted position. Susanna represents the prominent disciple who is known by everyone, but serves in a capacity that few people ever notice. She is not mentioned anywhere else, but since her name appears in this passage we can know that she was a devoted servant of Christ. "And many others." Here are the unknown and quiet but all important believers of Christ who serve Him by remaining completely in the background, never seen up front, frequently remaining totally unrecognized by the rest of the world. But we must take note that they are faithful and do serve, consistently and faithfully.
That is all for today, beloved! Grace and peace be yours!
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