Tags: commentary on Matthew, courtesy, houseguests, Louisiana Flood of 2016, manners, Matthew 25, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, The Great Flood of 2016, the least of these
There is some debate about exactly to whom Jesus was referring when He emphasized the responsibility of His disciples to minister to “the least of these.” However, most Bible scholars agree that the list He gave was both specific and illustrative, counting as a summation of those who are the most helpless and neglected in worldly society.
As 21st Century Christians we are prone to romanticize the notion of “the least of these” and picture ourselves taking in a doe-eyed orphan with smudged but pudgy cheeks. Or perhaps we see ourselves caring for a kindly old grandfather, abandoned by His Gen-X children who are too busy with their own lives to benefit from his homespun wisdom and sage advice. Jesus did not, however, limit His description of the needy and the outcasts to those to whom we might find it easier – for sentimental reasons – to minister.
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
What our family found out during the recent flooding in our parish, which affected the rich and poor alike, is that the person who comes into your home during a catastrophe, needing food, water, clothing, and shelter, may be the “the most irritating of these.”
He might be a person who makes all his phone calls on speaker-phone, yelling at the top of his lungs and broadcasting the other person’s (who has not been told he’s on speaker) personal business to everyone within earshot.
He might be a person who comes in drenched with sweat, mold, flood water, and Chinese drywall, and, declining your desperate offer of a shower, plops himself right down on your couch pillows and puts his feet up.
He might be a person who is super touchy about everyone else’s failure to appreciate his plight, while also being hypocritically hypercritical of others who are worse off than him.
He might be the person who picks skin off his feet and flicks it on your carpet.
He might be the person who stands uncomfortably close to your wife, peering over her shoulder at the pot she is stirring on the stove while pompously offering suggestions about how to cook green beans to the best green bean cooker in the known world.
He might be the person who would rather sit up til late at night in the living room, spurning the comfortable guest bed you’ve offered him, while belching loudly 56 times in a row in front of your high school aged daughters.
He might be the person who, after four days of living with your family, has still not bothered to learn a single one of their names.
He might be all of these things and more, but, as a servant of the King, it is tough to rationalize away your duty to care for “the least of these” even when the category includes those with the least manners and common courtesy.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 6, Biblical swimming, feminism, Helen Gurley Brown, Micah 2, Psalm 36, swim quotes, swimming quotes, Tim Challies, Tim Challies quotes
… young women today are convinced that their bodies are all their own, that they can hook up with whomever they want whenever they want without emotional scars. What is tragic is that they think this is their own idea, that they are the revolutionaries. What they don’t see is that they are swimming downstream from someone else’s sewage. Like a city that pumps waste into a river and watches it disappear around the bend on its way to the next place, [Helen Gurley] Brown created moral sewage, and a whole generation — several generations — are mucking around in it, bearing all the consequences. And in some way we are all downstream from the revolutionary sinners, the ones who create new categories for sin, who create new and shocking ways to sin, and who so often eventually step back to watch us flounder in their mess.
Tim Challies, “Downstream in the Moral Sewage”
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
I Corinthians 6:19-20
Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.
The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.
Tags: 2 Timothy 3, Bible study, consistency, dietary laws, holiness, James 1, Jewish dietary laws, Leviticus 11, uncleanness
In Part One, we considered God’s dietary laws under the Old Testament and their fulfillment/abolition under the New Testament. In Part Two I tried to expound upon some of the reasons for the Old Covenant prohibition against eating unclean animals, and to apply, not the letter of the Law, but the principles, to God’s people today. God’s people were/are to be:
A. Clean Cut, meaning they were to be separate from their pagan neighbors in their devotion to the One True God, and in how they lived their daily lives, including what they ate. (Leviticus 11:44; II Corinthians 6:14-18). They were/are to be:
1. Distinct in calling and conduct (I Corinthians 10:31)
2. Distinct in conscience (Psalm 139:7-12)
3. Distinct in creeds (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
4. Distinct in communication (Colossians 3:8; Proverbs 14:9)
Now we will see that God’s people were/are to have a:
B. Clean Consistency
When it came to quadrupeds, the clean animals were animals that met two criteria:
Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
They had to have both: a cloven hoof and a multi-chambered stomach. Some animals had one or the other, and these would be unclean. For example, the camel:
Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
This is a picture of some Christians. They “chew the cud.” They enjoy chewing over the Word of God. They love to learn Scripture and Bible doctrine. But there is a problem with their “hooves” – their feet – the way they walk. It doesn’t match up to what they are learning. They are hearers but not doers.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
They are ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
II Timothy 3:4-7
For in truth doctrine is never divorced from duty. We study Scripture in order to know God, and when we meet God, He tells us to “go.”
There is an opposite example, too, though: the pig.
And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
He appears to be okay in his walk, but he’s not really clean. Some church people are like this, too. They appear to be walking with God, but they don’t want to be equipped. They don’t want to invest the time or the patience to hear what is truly pleasing to God. They think they will stay busy and please God their own way. Don’t get too busy – or think you’re too advanced – to humble yourself under the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God.
Tags: commentary on Psalms, Flood of 2016, flooding, Louisiana Flood, Pastor John Wilkerson, Psalm 32, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
I don’t know if, after a few months or a few years, the title of this post will be the official name of the flooding event that took place in South Central Louisiana on the weekend of August 13 or 14, 2016, or not. I don’t even know if it will have an official name. Many people (not including me) are already angry that the national news media – neither while it was happening, nor up til now – has given it the attention that these types of weather catastrophes usually garner (for reasons I may cover in a different post later).
Regardless, though, of whether the event ever enters or remains in the national consciousness, I doubt it will ever be forgotten by my neighbors. Apparently, the house in which the Lord allows my family to live sits on something of an imperceptibly elevated ledge, but our neighbors suffered massive flooding in their homes, and many had to be evacuated – some in boats, some in huge National Guard trucks with giant tires, and some in Blackhawk or Red Cross helicopters! The local news media is reporting that 90% of the homes in my parish (the equivalent of a “county” elsewhere) suffered flood damage. Not us, thankfully. While the water spilled across the highway in front of our house, and while it became a rapidly rising lake on the road behind us, and while it filled my next door neighbor’s home with a foot of water, my old Sunday School teacher, now a pastor, John Wilkerson, called to check on me. He lives in Indiana now, and, with AT&T cell service completely down, he somehow still had my landline number. As he prayed with me on the phone, asking the Lord to “honor His servant” (John 12:26), and to stop the encroaching waters, I became immensely humbled. I know that I belong to Christ, and that He shed His blood for me and saved me, but I also know for sure that I am not worthy of any honor! I am a faulty and neglectful servant at best, and much, if not most, of the time, the term “servant” itself could scarcely be applied to me due to my selfishness and impiety. However, after we finished the call, I walked outside to check. Thirty feet from my house the water appeared to have stopped, and maybe even receded a couple of inches. We were spared.
I want to thank and praise the Lord for protecting my wife and children, and the home that He allows me to manage. The next few weeks and months will be busy. We have already begun to tear out and clean out the damaged parts of the church building where our family meets, worships, and ministers, along with many of our church families’ and neighbors’ homes. There will be great opportunities to minister and to share the Gospel. The love of Christ, by His grace, will be made manifest, the Word will be proclaimed, and my prayer is that souls will be eternally saved.
I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.
Tags: Christ Is Risen, commentary on Matthew, Matthew 28, Resurrection, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, the empty tomb, the Resurrection of Christ, the Resurrection of Jesus, the risen Christ
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
We might ask why were only the women performing this thankless and grief-laden task of caring for the post-Crucifixion body of Jesus. Where were the men? Were they hiding and scared while the women were doing the hard work? We might also ask what these women thought they were going to do about the stone that sealed the entrance to the sepulchre (Mark 16:3). They were carrying perfume and spices to care for a body they weren’t going to be able to access. Perhaps their love and their grief overcame their common sense.
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
There is a certain humor in the thought of the angel sitting atop the very stone that had been intended to keep the followers of Jesus from getting into the tomb. However, during the night before, there had been nothing humorous to the guards about his appearance.
His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
This was a very holy and frightening angel. Roman soldiers weren’t easily frightened by mere men.
And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
“As He said” was a gentle, though perhaps chiding, rebuke, referring to one of his least palatable prophecies:
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.
And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
The testimony of Jesus Himself, the testimony of the angel, and the empty tomb all bore witness to Jesus’s Resurrection.
And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
Note how the angel used the words “from the dead,” reinforcing the truth that Jesus had actually died.
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
It is a difficult combination to explain, but it is true that fear and joy can go together. God created them both, and there is great joy in having a fear of the Lord. Some of the greatest blessings you will ever experience are when you are facing, and overcoming, a terrifying challenge. The women who saw the empty tomb and heard the words of the angel were afraid, and they ran, but it was not an occasion of “fight or flight.” It was an occasion of “fright and flight.” They ran to bring “word,” and we need to always be running to bring the Word.
And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
Whenever you are running to do something in obedience to Him, no matter how fast you run, He is already there before you. The struggle to exercise patience, and to overcome procrastination, is a battle that almost every Christian fights. Impatience is unbelief when you don’t know God’s will, but procrastination is unbelief when you DO know God’s will.
The Disciples grabbed Jesus’s feet – His physical resurrected body – demonstrating His humanity. They also worshiped Him, demonstrating His Deity.
Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
The soldiers went to the Jewish leaders first. They could have been killed by their Roman authorities for for allowing the body to be stolen. The Jewish leaders bribed them, but they also promised to protect them.
Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
Beware of Satan’s techniques. First he plays on your fears. Then he sends someone to help you make up a lie. Then he sweetens the deal with money. Then he gives you a false security and makes you think God will not mind your sin all that much.
So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
Each lie that denies the Resurrection has had its day, and come and gone: the swooning lie, the imposter on the Cross lie, the hallucination lie, the conspiracy lie. None are convincing. Only those who hate the Truth can voluntarily blind themselves to it. The Bible bears witness, 500 witnesses saw Him, the martyrdom of the Disciples bears witness, the empty tomb still bears witness, the Church meeting today still bears witness. If they could have produced a body, all of history would be different. Christianity wouldn’t exist. His Spirit bears witness with our spirits. There is more credible evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus than there is for the for the existence of Plato.
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Tags: 2 Corinthians 5, burial of Christ, esteeming Christ, Isaiah 53, Jesus Christ, satisfaction, the Gospel, the Suffering Servant, treasure
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, [how can a dead man with no children have descendants? he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
The Lord Jesus bore our sin to the Cross, but it is not the weight of that sin that crushed (“bruised”) Him; it was the weight of God’s wrath. Jesus was childless in the biological sense, and, furthermore, the prophecy describes a dead man “seeing his seed.” How could this be? It was fulfilled in Jesus’s Resurrection and the spiritual children He would regenerate and adopt.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
God the Father was not “satisfied” in the sense of taking delight in Jesus’s suffering, but His righteousness, law, holiness, and justice were satisfied by payment in full for the entire sin debt of His people.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
II Corinthians 5:17
Let us esteem Jesus Christ better today than men did when He came to die for us. Let us look at what they esteemed instead of Him, and ask ourselves if we esteem those things more than Him today. He was poor. Do we esteem wealth? He was an outcast among the religious establishment. Do we esteem popularity and acceptance? People lied about Him and said vile things. Do we fight for our good reputation with plans and schemes to get even, and with our own get-back-at-you gossip? Which do we care about more – that we look good to men, or that God looks great to men? He came to serve and to die. Do we dare to try to get ourselves in the position of being served by someone else? He suffered hardship and discomfort and a life of hard work. Will we dare to pamper ourselves?
Jesus is rejected so much today, for so many of the same reasons He was rejected back then – He represents everything that carnal men hate. He is worthy, and that’s an thing easy to sing, but do our activities and attitudes and awe prove that He’s our Treasure?
Tags: Biblical Parenting, commentary on Hosea, criminal charges, criminal law, Hosea, Hosea 4, knowing God, knowledge of God, spiritual adultery, Sunday School lessons on Hosea
The first three chapters of the Book of Hosea deal with the sins of idolatry, ingratitude, and hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is more than just saying one thing and doing another; it’s wrongfully applying the time and energy given to us by God to further the cause of something or someone else besides God. One example of this is parenting. The children that God has given me bear my last name, but they really belong to God. As an entrusted manager or steward over them, I have a responsibility to control they way they behave, so that they glorify their true Owner, God. Discipline is not easy, but if I don’t do it, I’m being a hypocrite. I’m focusing on my peace and my ideas instead of shaping what
God has given me for His purpose. In essence, I’m committing idolatry and I’m committing a form of spiritual “adultery” against God.
Hosea Chapters 4-8 deal with God’s response to His people as they are compared to adulterous spouses or disobedient children.
Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
The Lord’s “controversy” in this context is comparable to a legal claim – as if God is bringing charges or a lawsuit against the people.
The specific charges are listed in the next verse:
By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.
The Lord also presents evidence of their idolatry:
My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.
The people are given no opportunity to mount a “defense,” for this is pointless with an omniscient, omnipresent God. They didn’t even have enough knowledge to present a defense – they were forced to “plead the Fifth.”
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
They had no “knowledge” of God. They did not “know” Him. They had no intimate relationship with Him.