Helpless and Hopeless No More

October 9, 2017 at 10:55 am | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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Jesus came to save the helpless. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. Luke Chapter 2 is where we find what is known as the “Annunciation” The Annunciation is the announcement of Christ’s Incarnation. In the Incarnation God became flesh. God the Son became man while remaining God.

Why did He become a man?
1. To represent us before God
2. To identify with us in our nature
3. To fully keep God’s Law, thus becoming the perfect sacrifice for people who had broken God’s law.

As humans, left to our own strength, our own wisdom, our own merit, we are completely helpless. Jesus came as a newborn baby, and babies are helpless. They can’t eat, they can’t talk, they can’t walk, they do not even know what to think. Spiritually, we are that helpless without God.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

Luke 2:1

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Luke 2:4

God providentially involved others in helping Jesus, including His earthly parents, and angels.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:13-14

He even used shepherds.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:20

Maybe you know someone who is poor and helpless (like Joseph and Mary). Maybe you know someone who is on the “outside” of society (like the shepherds). Maybe you fit into these categories yourself. Maybe you even feel shut out of Christianity because of your sin. If so, there is Good News: Jesus wants you to come to Him – to look on Him in faith. He became helpless Himself in order to be the Great Helper to the helpless. He gave hope to the hopeless.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

Luke 2:22

The law of Moses pointed toward the Hope, but it did not give hope itself. You can not live a “good” enough life. You can not do enough “good” things. You can not bring anything to God in order to gain entrance into Heaven. Those attempts are hopeless attempts.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Luke 2:25-26

You may know someone who has given up, but the hope of Christ is always available in this lifetime.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

Luke 2:36-37

You may feel hopeless because no one cares about you, but Jesus cares about you. God cares about you so much that He sent His Son to give you hope, and not to be a messenger only, but to BE your Hope Himself!

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Luke’s Gospel

September 19, 2017 at 11:56 am | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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The Book of Luke is one of the four “Gospels.” The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are accounts of Jesus’s earthly ministry, and, to some extent, of His earthly life. The term “Gospel,” of course, also refers to the Good News of Jesus’s incarnation, sinless life, sacrificial death, victorious Resurrection, and saving power, although, in common vernacular, “gospel” has come to mean “anything that’s true.”

The word “Gospel” is from the old English word for “good news.” In ancient Greek it would be called the Evangelion, combining eu (with the “v” now replaced by “u”) meaning “good,” as in “euphemism” (a “good” way to say a “bad” thing) or eulogy (a “good word” about a deceased person), with the word angel, meaning “message” (easy to remember because the “angels” are God’s messengers).

The Holy Spirit authored the Gospel of Luke through (obviously) a man named Luke, whose primary occupation had been as a physician. The Holy Spirit appears to have used Luke’s medical training and experience in order to cause Luke’s account of Jesus’s life and ministry to have an orderly composition, often with an emphasis on “medical” events, such as illnesses and healings, and to stress Jesus’s compassion on those who were hurting. It is not known if Luke had the typical doctor’s bad handwriting, but we can be sure that what he recorded was the accurate and infallible Word of God.

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

Luke 1:1

At the time that Luke wrote down his Gospel, there were other scrolls circulating about, purporting to be accounts of the life of Jesus. The things most surely believed among “us” likely means that Luke knew he was recording true Christian doctrine and the real facts about Jesus, and that what he was reporting was for public dissemination, but mainly with fellow Christians in mind as his primary audience.

Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

Luke 1:2

Luke was part of Paul’s missionary team, and his personal physician, but he had not walked with Jesus personally while Jesus was on earth as a man.

It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

Luke 1:3-4

Luke’s statement about “having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first” also seems to indicate that he was aware of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. Theophilus was probably a gentile who had been saved and converted to Christianity (known in Bible times as a “lover of God” or a “friend of God”). It is also likely that he held some official public position because of the formal nature of Luke’s address to him. Once again, Luke referred to “the certainty” of what he was writing, giving even more credence to the idea that he was aware of the Holy inspiration under which he was operating.

Next came the account of the announcement and birth of John the Baptist. He was the last Old Testament prophet, even though he’s found in the New Testament.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Malachi 4:5-6

The Holy Ghost closed the Old Testament with a reference to Elijah and the pronouncement of a CURSE, after which there was about 400 years of prophetic silence, during which God gave no (that we know of) verbal or written revelation, until John the Baptist came on the scene. He was the prophet who fulfilled – in a sense – the prophecy of Malachi 4:5. He was the prophet who himself fulfilled a prophecy.

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Luke 1:5-6

Zacharias and Elizabeth were considered righteous and blameless, although they were not sinless.

And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

Luke 1:7-10

This burning of incense was a major event in the life of the religious Jewish people each year.

And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

Luke 1:11-13

One can only imagine the fear that overcame Zacharias! Elisabeth would be related to Jesus through Mary. The couple’s first-born son would be named John, not Zacharias Jr.

And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

Luke 1:14-15

John would be under a Nazarite vow, as an angel had also informed Samson’s father Manoah, and his wife, and like Elkanah’s and Hannah’s son, Samuel. Elijah was yet another Old Testament example of someone under a life-long Nazarite vow – meaning he was not to touch grapes or dead things, and not to cut his hair. Another similarity between John the Baptist and Elijah is that much of their lives would be spent as outcasts from society, living in the wilderness. John the Baptist had the amazing distinction of being filled by the Holy Spirit while he was still in his mother’s womb.

And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Luke 1:16-17

John would be instrumental in turning the hearts of children back to their fathers – and to their HEAVENLY FATHER. He would have a spirit like Elijah’s and be endued with the power of Elijah, but he would not be Elijah reincarnated. This announcement was so astonishing to Zacharias that he disbelieved the Word of God, and thereby lost his voice until it was time for Elisabeth to have the baby.

Wary Watching

February 16, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Luke, parables, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Usually when we see the word “watching” in the Bible it refers to something more than just idly looking at something. It typically has the connotation that we think of in connection with a night “watchman,” someone who is actively trying to stay alert, awake, and on guard, keeping a lookout for some sign that could mean either trouble or glad tidings.

Because the Bible sometimes uses the metaphor of farming in connection with Biblical evangelism, we have already noted that good farmers are concerned with planting, watering, and weeding. It would be nearly unthinkable to imagine a farmer, whose livelihood depended on a successful harvest, planting with care, watering diligently, pulling up weeds with zealous regularity, but failing to keep an eye on his crop, being oblivious to harmful insects, marauders, bad weather on the horizon, or sundry other forms of trouble that might befall his fields of produce. Therefore, we might apply the same principle to evangelism.

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Luke 12:35-40 (emphasis added)

No one likes to get caught loafing. Because the Lord has given us a serious responsibility, and because we know the time to accomplish it is limited, and because we know that the day of accounting could come unexpectedly, we need to be serving Him faithfully, diligently, actively, obediently, and warily.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Ephesians 6:18 (emphasis added)

We do well to pray, but our custom of praying with our eyes closed must not be a hindrance to our engagement in the reality of spiritual warfare.

praying-with-eyes-closed

Faithful farmers hope that God sends rain, protection, and favorable conditions, but they also know that He expects them to be on guard, prepared to spring into action at the first signs of infestation, unexpected trouble, or the ripeness that means it’s time to harvest.

Where Is Jesus in the Bible? (lesson 1)

June 20, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Luke | 6 Comments
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If I were to ask you to tell me a good place in the Bible to find out about Jesus, what would you say? The first four books of the New Testament are probably what come to mind. “The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John” would probably be a common answer. But let’s see what Jesus Himself had to say:

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

Luke 24:13-15

This happened right after Jesus’s Resurrection.

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:27

One of the first things Jesus wanted to do after His Resurrection was have a Bible study. He showed these two disciples on the road to Emmaus all the places in the Bible where He could be found, going all the way from Genesis through the end of the Old Testament.

Then Jesus went to show His closest disciples that He had come back from the grave.

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

Luke 24:44-45

This is very important because the Bible is very important. As a Christian you are responsible for not just reading the Bible, but for understanding the Bible.

The Pharisees were the religious leaders of Jesus’s day, and they did not like Jesus – in part because He told the truth, and the Truth was that He was the Son of God, and that, because He was the Son of God, they would have to submit to Him. So they were always trying to get Him to do something to prove He really was from God, thinking that, when He failed, they could disprove Him. Here’s what Jesus said to them:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

John 5:39

It was as if He said to them, “You are supposed to be the Bible teachers! And you don’t even know what (Who) the Bible is about?!”

I said earlier that you are responsible for understanding the Bible, and that should concern you, because it’s not always easy to understand. In some places it’s almost like a code. Here’s a simple code to illustrate the point:

I w2nt 2ll the 2l2rms in 2tl2nt2.

You can probably figure it out, but if you were stumped, you would need the “key” to understand the code, so I would give you the key: 2=A. And that makes it simple!

So where is Jesus in the Bible? Remember, at the time that Jesus said these things that we have read in Luke and John, there was no Luke and John, or anything else in the Bible after Malachi. But to the question, “Where is Jesus in the Bible?” the answer is, “Everywhere!”

We will look at some specific examples in lesson 2.

The S.H.A.R.K. Priniciple (lesson 1)

March 31, 2014 at 10:18 am | Posted in Luke, The S.H.A.R.K. Principle | 3 Comments
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One of my greatest joys competes with one of my greatest fears. I am fascinated by, and terrified of, sharks (especially the great whites that breach up through the surface), but I love swimming in the ocean. I know it is not very likely that I will be devoured by a 2000-pound predator fifty yards from the shore, but I am still haunted by the knowledge that, while swimming, I am technically sharing the same space (the sea) where these creatures live, and there is the nagging sense of danger that comes from not being aware of what might be coming to get me.

In our spiritual lives, thankfully, we do not have to be unaware. Satan would like to destroy us, but we do not have to be ignorant of who he is or how he operates.

S.atan
H.
A.
R.
K.

Satan is a real “person” – a real being. You may have heard the theological statement that the devil is a “personal” devil. He’s not “personal” like a secret that is only between friends. He’s personal because he has a personality. He thinks thoughts. He has plans. He has feelings. He was made by God to be a creature with a will and a spirit. He’s not a fairy tale or a boogie monster, and he’s not just a symbol for evil. How do we know? Because Jesus said so.

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

Luke 10:17

Jesus had sent out 70 disciples, and they were excited because they had seen Jesus proven right. While they were witnessing for Him, God gave them power to subdue demons.

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Luke 10:18

Satan was originally an angel named Lucifer, but he rebelled against God, so God threw him and one-third of the angels (the ones who had taken Lucifer’s side in the rebellion) out of Heaven. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, was there to see it happen.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Luke 10:19-20

In these lessons I will say some things about Satan that may sound complimentary, but we must be careful never to give him any praise or adoration. Nor do I advocate making jokes about “beating him up” (a staple of the “Word of Faith” televangelists) or telling him to “go sit on a tack,” as I’ve heard in some children’s songs and lessons. We praise God for His victory over Satan. Only because of Him are true Christians on the winning side.

The S in S.H.A.R.K. is for Satan, and you stand as much of a chance against him as you would against a great white shark in the middle of the ocean – on your own. Thankfully, if you have trusted Christ, you are not on your own.

S.atan
H.ates

A.
R.
K.

I said before that Satan has a personality, which includes the idea that he has feelings. One of his most prominent feelings is hatred. His most prominent is pride (which tends toward hatred of others). One of the reasons why he is so often portrayed as this red-bodied, cartoonish figure with a pointy tail and a pitchfork is because at one time people thought the best way to combat him was to injure his pride. Therefore, they tried to make him look silly. Ironically, this is the way most people (inaccurately) think of him today.

God is a loving Being. Satan is not loving. But hatred is not the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. Neither God nor Satan are indifferent. Satan’s hatred is focused on robbing God of glory and destroying the creatures God loves.

He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

John 15:23

Jesus was speaking about the Jewish leaders who rejected Him.

If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

John 15:24

Those that hate and reject Jesus hate God also. We know that Satan hates Jesus because Jesus came to save those whom God loves, and to bring God the glory that Satan would like to steal by accusing God of unjustly forgiving sinners. God was both just and loving in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is why Satan tried so hard to stop Jesus from going to the Cross.

But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

John 15:25

Jesus didn’t give anyone a valid reason to hate Him or to crucify Him. It was done because we are fallen sinful creatures, and we loved sin more than we loved God. In the same way, God justifies those who trust in Christ “without a cause” – in other words, without finding anything in us worthy of justification.

Sharks don’t hate people until they have some motivation – hunger, territoriality, self-defense, mistaken identity. Satan doesn’t have much reason to hate you unless you love God. If you start glorifying God, you become his target. Of course, if you are not right with God, you have a bigger problem than Satan. You are in trouble with God and need the Savior.

Next time, we will look at the A. in S.H.A.R.K.

The Manager Who Thought He Was an Owner

November 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Posted in Exodus, Luke, parables | 10 Comments
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In the Book of Exodus there are many ways to view the role of Pharaoh, but it seems that the Holy Spirit intends for the reader to see him as a vassal or a husbandmen given stewardship over a “vineyard” known as Egypt. Jesus taught a parable about how the Jewish religious leaders had rebelled against God and His messengers, and it is interesting to note some of the parallels to the Exodus account.

Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.

Luke 20:9

God had placed the Jewish people in Egypt to survive a famine. They prospered there at first, but eventually were placed into bondage and servitude by the Egyptians.

And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.

Luke 20:10

This reminds us of God’s servants, Moses and Aaron, going to Pharaoh with God’s demand to let the people go, then being sent away “empty” again and again.

And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.

Luke 20:11-16

Egypt belonged to the one true God, but Pharaoh neither acknowledged that fact, nor did a good job managing God’s property. It was time for him to give an account, and to learn a lesson about making God’s people serve a man who saw himself as a god.

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Exodus 7:5

Beware the Fatigue of Failure

June 28, 2013 at 10:24 am | Posted in Luke, The Fives | 5 Comments
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And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

Luke 5:5

Simon Peter had a fishing boat. Jesus was speaking to a large crowd which was pressing in upon Him as He preached on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, so He climbed into Peter’s boat, finished His sermon, and commanded Peter to launch out into the deep. Once this was done, Jesus further instructed Peter and his fellow fishermen to let their net down and catch some fish.

Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? But Peter had an objection. He had been using this method of fishing all night long, and hadn’t caught a thing. It is not possible for us to know Peter’s exact tone of voice when he said, “We have toiled all night.” Maybe it was just an explanation of what happened. Maybe it was said with a touch of humor at being told to do again what he had just finished doing repeatedly with no success. I suspect, though, that there was at least a touch of exasperation in Peter’s voice. I would imagine that when he followed up with, “nevertheless…” he did so with a sigh of resignation, not really believing that the exercise would be anything other than pointless.

There was a time (albeit a very brief time) in human history when manual physical labor was neither exhausting nor frustrating. When Adam was given a garden to tend and keep in Eden, sin had not yet entered into the world. It was only after Adam disobeyed God that God placed a curse upon the world and mankind, so that now our labor has become “toil:” something unpleasant, difficult, and often unproductive.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Genesis 3:17-19

Working hard in a fallen world can still be rewarding, in a sense. Even the fatigue brought on by long tough physical labor carries with it a certain peace, and sometimes a feeling of accomplishment. But, if you’ve ever worked really hard at something, only to experience failure over and over again, you know that your mental state can really play havoc with your physical state. How is it that, when I was younger, I could play baseball in the middle of July from sun-up to sundown and still be full enough of energy to fight off bed time until the wee hours? But the following week, a mere four hours of painting the eaves of the house left me spent, drained, and irritable for the rest of the day? Physical activity is tiring, but somehow successful or fun activity seems way less tiring than physical activity ending in failure.

I suspect that this is what Peter was expressing in Luke 5:5. If he had spent all night catching fishing instead of fruitlessly lowering and raising empty nets, he would have been a little more eager to do as Jesus asked. However, the “nevertheless” which Peter speaks forth without any further urging is a good reminder to us to heed the words of Christ even when they may not be to our liking at the moment. “Toil” is not our preferred word for describing the work of our Lord, but neither is it an excuse for goldbricking. The Christian life ought to be a life of service, and service can make us weary, but, thankfully, we serve a kind and loving Master, and our spiritual labors, unlike our physical labors, will never be in vain.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Galatians 6:9

But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:57-58

The Stones of Confirmation

February 1, 2013 at 11:01 am | Posted in Luke, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 1 Comment
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It was the first day of the week, and a group of Jesus’s followers came to the tomb where He had been buried. Before Jesus’s death, He had predicted His own resurrection, but these followers weren’t going to see if Jesus had been resurrected.

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

Luke 24:1

Who were these visitors to the tomb of Jesus?

It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

Luke 24:10

They were all women, and it is almost as if this has turned out to be a prophecy of the modern church. Caring for Jesus’s body would have been a labor of love, but a very sad labor. There would be no steak dinner, no football game on a big-screen television, no exciting rock-concert-style music, no fiery emotional preaching, no motorcycle rally, no “boys’ night out” with a bunch of macho symbolism in the church fellowship hall. In other words, none of the things that are supposed to manipulate men into showing up for some of the mundane ministry tasks in the church, which usually wind up being done by women today. These women were going to be caring for the body of Christ and grieving – no fanfare, no accolades, no recognition. If you are reading this, and you are a man who belongs to a local church, are you guilty of being of being “all show and no substance?” Are you there for the “big men’s events” but not at the smaller Bible studies, the visitation times, the prayer meetings, the cleaning days? You might fool the congregation by showing up at the more “visible” events, but you are not fooling the Lord.

The women who undertook the task of visiting Jesus’s tomb to care for His body were rewarded when their grieving was turned to joy.

And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

Luke 24:2

An earthquake and the power of God had rolled the stone away, but the stone itself did not cry out. It was God’s plan that people would deliver the good news about the risen Christ.

And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

Luke 24:9

The stone that rolled away from the entrance to the tomb – although silent – still spoke very loudly. It was a stone that confirmed the truth of the Resurrection. It had been sealed at the entrance, so that only Roman soldiers could have broken the seal – and they never would have done so. The rolled-away stone is still silent today. It’s up to us to cry out the Good News.

The Stones of Covetousness

December 31, 2012 at 10:20 am | Posted in Habakkuk, Luke, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 5 Comments
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The Lord Jesus was moving toward Jerusalem. Those who had plotted to tempt Him, to cause Him to fall into sin, to argue against Him and to try to prove Him a to be a blasphemer, and those who had tried to kill Him, had all failed – because His time had not yet come.

The Lord Jesus, Who had never allowed His followers to engage in a public demonstration for Him, allowed it this one time, and they treated Him like a triumphant King. Garments were laid on the animals and on the road. Palm tree branches were waved and spread before Him (John 12:13). He rode a “colt” (a young donkey) which had not been broken or trained by men, but which submitted to Jesus because He, as the “second Adam” and as God incarnate, had dominion over all creation.

And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.

Luke 19:35-36

The crowd was excited. Many of them had seen this Man – Jesus of Nazareth – perform miracles, heal the blind, even raise a man from the dead. Possibly others – even some of the Disciples – believed Jesus was entering Jerusalem to overthrow the Roman government there. This is indicated by their use of the messianic Psalm 118 (118:26).

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

Luke 19:37-38

But there were also Pharisees in the crowd, and they were upset.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

Luke 19:39

In the Lord’s response to them, you might recognize a very common modern church expression:

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Luke 19:40 (emphasis added)

This expression is used to encourage and exhort people to “liven up” – to get excited in worship – to “get free” – to “loosen up” – to sing louder and with greater emotional enthusiasm. This will be the plea of song leaders and worship ministers all across America this Sunday morning: “We don’t want the rocks to put us to shame – come on, please – if we don’t praise Him, the rocks will! You don’t want us to be outdone by a rock, do you?”

One of the things that happened often in Christ’s ministry on earth is that He would speak a great truth and people would put their own stamp of perception on it. Instead of hearing what He actually said, they heard what they wanted Him to say. When He said that the temple would be torn down, and in three days He would raise it again, they thought He meant the temple building. When He said that in order to see the Kingdom of God you must be born again, they asked Him how someone could get back into his mother’s womb. When He told people that those who eat of His flesh and drink of His blood would have eternal life they were offended at the thought of eating literal flesh. I wonder if Jesus’s followers knew the deeper spiritual meaning when He said, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out?”

I don’t know for sure, but I believe the Pharisees must have known. They were students of the Word. They knew the writings of the prophets. Surely they would have recognized the quote from Habakkuk:

Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

Habakkuk 2:9-11

See, the followers of Christ wanted Psalm 118 – “Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord!” – but Christ’s point was, “What about Habakkuk 2:11? Thou hast brought shame to thy house! The very stones of the houses cry out!”

Is your house just a pile of stones (or bricks or wood or aluminum siding)? What is it about your house that cries out about the glory of God? About the salvation of Christ? I’m not talking about the materials out of which your home is made. I’m talking about what takes place in your home. If the praises of the Lord are not heard in our homes, we won’t have to worry about the paneling and the bricks crying out in praise. Oh, they’ll be crying out alright – but they’ll be crying, “Covetous! Covetous! I am a house full of furniture! Full of television sets! Full of computers! I am a house full of possessions – of material treasures – I am a monument to covetousness!”

Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Habakkuk 2:19-20

Let’s make sure our homes are places where the Word of God is taught. Where the fear of God is evident. Where the love of God is shown. Let’s make sure our possessions “keep silence” before Him. The “stones of covetousness” which make up our homes don’t have to cry out, but if they are crying out already, how will we respond?

Next time, we will take a look another of The Stones that Don’t Cry Outthe Stones of Condemnation.

Reconciled

December 21, 2012 at 11:55 am | Posted in Luke, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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It’s taken from Luke 2:14, and it’s my favorite lyric in any Christmas song:

Peace on Earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” by Charles Wesley (later amended by others)

The idea of “peace on earth” is pretty wonderful to think about, but it’s something that we’ve never truly experienced in our lifetimes. From family squabbles, to school yard fist fights, to problems on the job, to different political, cultural, and societal groups at each other’s throats, to war in the Middle East, we sometimes just wish the fighting would stop and we could all get along.

But the “peace on earth” that the angel proclaimed to the shepherds a little over 2000 years ago was not really that kind of “peace.” In fact, some of the people to whom God was sending peace to the Earth in the Person of His Messiah were some of the same people who would be screaming: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” a short 33 years later.

Christmas is about something greater than God coming into this world to reconcile sinners to each other. It is about God coming into this world to reconcile sinners to Himself! A great price was paid so that God could bring us into mediated fellowship with Himself. We come into this world with two great needs: forgiveness and purity. We need forgiveness because we are at enmity with God from the get-go. And we need purity so that we can survive in the presence of a holy God.

The Baby born in Bethlehem on that famous night brought both of those things to us. Because He paid the price for your sins, God can and will forgive you if you trust in Jesus. Because Jesus lived every moment of every day of His earthly life in perfect peace, harmony, and obedience with God, He achieved the purity which He can impart to us.

That’s the real message and meaning of the celebration of the Incarnation, which our culture calls “Christmas.”

And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

Colossians 1:20 (emphasis added)

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