The Certains: a Lawyer, a Man, a Priest, a Samaritan, and a Savior

January 11, 2019 at 11:08 am | Posted in Luke, parables | Leave a comment
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And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Luke 10:25

The “lawyer” in this verse is not the same type of lawyer that we think of when we talk about lawyers today, but, even back then, they had a tendency to try to trip people up with tricky questions.

He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

Luke 10:26-27

The lawyer’s answer to Jesus was both correct and incorrect. It was correct in the sense that this was what the Law required: moral perfection from the moment of birth to the moment of death, and complete devotion to God. But it was incorrect in the sense that it failed to acknowledge that nobody can accomplish this feat, or even come close.

And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

Luke 10:28-29

The statement that the lawyer was “willing to justify himself” is a figure of speech, but it is important to remember that in reality such as thing as a person objectively making himself “just” is not possible. He tried the old “define your terms” tactic on Jesus.

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Luke 10:30

The phrase “a certain man” may indicate that Jesus was starting a parable, but we can not be certain. It is possible that this was something that had actually happened. The locations were real, and the behaviors described are certainly within the realm of known human experience.

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

Luke 10:31-33

Luke, writing with a gentile audience foremost in mind, highlights the significance of Jesus’s identification of the compassionate man as a Samaritan, rather than a Jewish man.

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Luke 10:34-37

Jesus corrected the lawyer’s question, which should not have been, “Who is my neighbor?” but rather, “To whom can I be a neighbor?” This man had fallen among thieves. We have “fallen” in sin. He was left “half dead,” and we come into this world alive physically, but dead spiritually. The identification of one of the callous passersby as a “priest” may have been intended to highlight the inadequacy of the Old Testament sacrificial system, and the statement that the other was a Levite may have been a way of addressing the lack of saving power in the Old Testament Law. These systems could only pass judgment, not save. If this is accurate, then the Samaritan would be an allegorical representation of Jesus. He pours in oil and wine, symbols of the Holy Spirit, and brings the rescued man to an “inn,” representing a local church, which was the agency whereby the injured man received care (one of the responsibilities of the local church). This man’s physical salvation was free to him, but paid for by another, just as our spiritual salvation is free to us, but paid for by Christ. Part of our mission as believers today is to care for others – to be good neighbors and “good Samaritans.”

The Joy of Service, Salvation, and Sovereignty

December 19, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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Christians are ambassadors for Christ. We represent Him. This is a great privilege, but it also is a dangerous calling.

Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

Luke 10:3

Some of the reasons for going forth with a partner, or as part of a team, as ambassadors for Christ are accountability, encouragement, guarding reputation, practicality, the possibility of meeting someone with a special ministry need, and safety or protection. That last one applies not just to physical danger, but to spiritual danger as well. We are lambs among wolves. Wolves do not charge into the middle of the flock and try to take down the ram right next to the Shepherd. They are looking for lone lambs out on the fringe, people out of church, out of Christian fellowship, maybe only tangentially related to the Body of Christ anymore.

One form of ambassadorship in the local churches of which I’ve been a part is called “visitation.” “Visitation” is not really about “just visiting.” We have a mission to accomplish and a message to deliver. We are laborers , not spectators. We are not like the internet-surfers, TV-watchers, or window-shoppers – activities which primarily involve “just looking.”

When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.

Deuteronomy 20:10-14

As ambassadors we declare “peace,” but if peace is rejected we announce judgment. Now, this sounds like heavy lifting, and being an ambassador is hard work. Does it sound like drudgery? Well, it’s not. It’s joyous work.

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

Luke 10:17

1. There is joy in service.

Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Luke 10:20

2. There is joy in salvation.

Every time I tell someone else how they can go to Heaven I am reminded that I am going there myself. Every time I talk to someone about Jesus I am reminded how marvelous He is. Jesus is not our “product;” He is the Rescuer of our souls and the Changer of our lives. Most people speak with respect about their company or their product or their boss, but they speak with JOY about their loved ones. How much more do we express joy over the One Who loved us enough to save us!

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Luke 10:21-24

3. There is joy in the sovereignty of God.

The idea that God is in charge of salvation – of revealing Truth and of Holy Spirit-conviction – is ENcouraging rather than DIScouraging.

The But Chapter: Immaturity and Independence

November 9, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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In the last lesson we looked at Luke Chapter 9 and considered the “buts” of incomprehension, indecision, and ignorance. Now we will see:

4. The But of Immaturity

But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying. Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.

Luke 9:46

Rather than marveling at the greatness of their Master’s mission, the Disciples were asking what a distressing number of us often find ourselves asking: What’s in it for me? Instead of looking back at what God has done, and looking forward to what He will do, or looking up to Him, we’re looking around – and not to find a need to serve – but to compare ourselves to those around us. “Why can’t I have what he has?” “How do I measure up to her?” “I attend Sunday School AND I have family devotions – the Lord MUST like me more than so-and-so…”

Jesus responded by calling a child into their midst.

And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,

Luke 9:47

Notice that the children were right there with the grown-ups when Jesus was teaching. He didn’t have to send someone to fetch a child from children’s church. The point of summoning this child was not to illustrate CHILDISHNESS. That was the Disciples’ problem: they wanted to follow Jesus, BUT they were exhibiting the “But of Immaturity.” “I’m greater than you.” “No, Jesus likes me more than you.” The child that Jesus took from the crowd wasn’t CHILDISH – He was CHILD-LIKE.

And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.

Luke 9:48

This child was child-like in the sense of being un-self-conscious. One of the paradoxes of the Kingdom of Christ is that child-likeness is a sign of maturity – because it seeks to please others, not self. Childishness is a sign of immaturity because it looks out for number one.

5. The But of Independence

And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

Luke 9:57

Note the play on the word “certain.” Here it means that a particular man is being referenced, but we also use the word “certain” to describe someone who is absolutely sure about something. This man was certainly gung ho about following Jesus. He didn’t just say, “I’ll go where You go.” He said “WHITHERSOEVER thou goest.” That’s the kind of followers Jesus wants, right? Hold on a second.

And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Luke 9:58

Just did not respond with, “Ha! I gotcha now – you made a commitment and that’s all we’re looking for. You’re on the right team now – just do what you can. Serve when you feel like it, and get your bucket ready. My Father’s going to pour out blessings so that you won’t be able to receive them all.” No, instead, Jesus told Him to count the cost – to make a sober assessment of his commitment to follow Christ. Following Jesus means following in discomfort as well as comfort. Jesus never preached a gimmicky gospel. He would have never raised enough funds to keep His TBN show on the air. He never promised a bed of roses as much as a crown of thorns.

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

Luke 9:59 (emphasis added)

Notice the command: “Follow Me.” This man wanted to go, but he still wanted some independence. He wanted to go in HIS time.

Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:60

Christians preach to dead people – spiritually dead, not physically dead, people.

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Ephesians 2:1-5

Christians are not “independent.” We were and are completely dependent upon God for everything good we’ve ever known.

And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

Luke 9:61 (emphasis added)

The But of Independence puts conditions on our service to Christ. We think that we will decide what’s important for ourselves, then serve within that framework, but Jesus says:

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:62

The Lord can’t use you if you’re always looking back at your “but.” Jesus sets the priorities and the agenda. We depend upon Him to let us know where to work, what to wear, what our schedule is, who our friends are. You can’t play follow the leader if you’re looking back, and you can’t keep up if your “but” is too big.

The But Chapter: Incomprehension, Indecision, and Ignorance

October 24, 2018 at 11:12 am | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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There are 16 buts in Luke 9. “But” can be a cop-out word that often simply nullifies whatever we say before it. “Honey, I think you look beautiful today, BUT…” “I promise I am going to clean up the house, BUT…” However, the “buts” in Luke 9 are very instructive.

1. The But of Incomprehension

Jesus gave the disciples their instructions, and then:

And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;

Luke 9:6-7

Herod was baffled and confused. He didn’t seem to comprehend the ministry of Jesus and His disciples. Herod had ordered the beheading of John the Baptist, and it may be that he knew it was wrong, and that his conscience was bothering him.

And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.

Luke 9:8-9 (emphasis added)

Some people were speculating that Jesus might actually be Elijah or another one of the Old Testament prophets resurrected, but Herod did not comprehend who Jesus was. Is that YOUR problem, too? You can’t really be a Christian without knowing Jesus, but a DISCIPLE needs to not only KNOW Him personally (although that is of paramount importance), but also to keep knowing more and more about Him. Disciples need to know His attributes and principles and precepts. Perhaps you aren’t following Jesus like you should, and it’s a little similar to what Herod was experiencing. Something is bothering you. You know that you need to be serving Jesus in different ways and with more passion, but have you really comprehended WHO HE IS? You are wondering: Will He leave me or forsake me? Will He forget to repay my costs and my hurts? Just how trustworthy is He? What does He think about people like me? What does He think about the people around me? Jesus does not have to be incomprehensible to us. Herod desired to SEE Him. If you desire to see Him, you can.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Hebrews 2:9 (emphasis added)

First, see Him on the Cross – a Man suffering and dying for you. You will comprehend that He loves you. Then see Him seated in glory at the Father’s right hand. You will comprehend that He is victorious.

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

Hebrews 2:10-11

This promise will demolish any “but” of incomprehension that stands in your way. Jesus has suffered what you have suffered – and MORE than you have suffered – yet He is not ashamed to call you “brother” or “sister.”

2. The But of Indecision

It doesn’t always work out this way when you compare the Gospel accounts, but you can look in Luke 9 and Mark 9 and see the same incident.

And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him. And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him. And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.

Luke 9:37-40

Here was a child possessed by a violent demonic spirit, yet Jesus’s disciples could not cast the demon out. Mark gives a parallel account of the incident:

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

Mark 9:25-29 (emphasis added)

Now you can see why the disciples could not deal with this demonic spirit. They believed they had authority, BUT they were undecided about what was wrong. They had not prepared. How in the world are we going to know what to do when we face an unexpected spiritual battle if we haven’t been preparing by prayer and intense serious devotion to God? If I don’t meditate on His Word – in prayer, too – then I’m going to wind up on my “butt” when the first tough ministry opportunity knocks me right down.

And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither. And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father. And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. BUT while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,

Luke 9:41-44

Don’t get caught “wondering” in the “but of indecision” while it’s time to act. Be prepared.

3. The But of Ignorance

Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.

Luke 9:44

Jesus’s disciples knew by this time that He was referring to Himself when He used the prophetic title “Son of Man.” They also knew that “delivered into the hands of men” meant taken captive by His enemies – most likely through betrayal – for punishment, torture, and death. Why didn’t this have a bigger impact on them?

BUT they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Luke 9:45 (emphasis added)

They were ignorant of what Jesus came to do. Is that the “but” of your problem when it’s time to serve Jesus? Are you really ignorant of exactly what Jesus came to do? Was He a good role model? Yes, but you are ignorant if you think that’s the message of Jesus’s Gospel. Was He a good example – willing to serve others even to the point of laying down His life as the ultimate example? Yes, but you are ignorant if that’s what you think His real message was and is. Was He on the right track, but He just got overcome by the evil in this world, so we honor Him for “a good try?” That’s romantic and heroic, but you are ignorant if you think that’s what the Gospel of Jesus is about.

But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Luke 9:45 (emphasis added)

We can’t be afraid of facing what Jesus really came to do. We can’t be afraid to tell people that He suffered and died, and that it was a bloody gruesome death, and that God forsook Him on the Cross and emptied the cup of wrath on His head. We’re afraid to talk about that because of its implications. Why was the death of the Son of God so awful – so horrible – so atrociously bloody? Because you and I were so wicked, so vile, so perverse, so at enmity with God, so undeserving of the love wherewith He loved us. We can’t remain ignorant of those facts, and we can’t let others “but” their way around that Truth. We needed an awesome Savior because we were awful sinners.

Next time we will look at the “buts” of immaturity and independence.

Defiled, Destitute, Discouraged, and Desperate

October 3, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

Luke 9:1-2

How much of your time each week are you spending fighting demons, ministering to hurting people, and preaching the Kingdom of God? Jesus and His Disciples were focused on helping the types of people who tend to make us uncomfortable:

1. Defiled people: people who were considered “unclean.”
2. Destitute people: people who needed money.
3. Discouraged people: people who are just plain old depressed and depressing to be around.
4. Desperate people: the crazy ones.

Let’s get our hands dirty. We can’t fix everyone’s problems, but we can sure get involved in their problems and try to get them to the One Who can fix them.

And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people.

Luke 9:12-13

Jesus was not the type of Person Who could just turn away hungry people. He had the ability to feed the hungry and He DID feed the hungry. When I am ministering to people with problems in their marriages, sometimes they say, “That’s not helpful coming from you. You’ve got a good marriage. You’re like the man finding a homeless person rifling through a garbage bin and telling him to trust God and glorify Him even when he’s hungry. He’s probably wondering why, if you’re worried about him being hungry, and you’ve got ten bucks in your pocket, don’t you just buy him something to eat.” The idea is that a person with a wonderful marriage is no help to the person with a terrible marriage, because he doesn’t know what it’s like. That’s a reasonable assertion, but it’s not really true, because, when I deal with folks who are having a rough time in marriage, I’m not saying that they need to trust God because trusting God works for me. I’m saying they need to trust God because the Bible says they need to trust God. Until someone in your same shoes comes along and starts telling you what the Bible says, those of us who are admittedly not in your same shoes still have the duty to do it. Perhaps it would mean more coming from somebody “who’s been there,” and, if you think so, be sure that, when God helps you, you find someone else going through it and speak to that person from your position of experience on top of telling him what the Bible says. God doesn’t give us victories or let us suffer just because He likes to be entertained. He’s pouring resources into your life – especially in your trials and struggles – that you can use to help others.

 

Jesus’s Power Over Circumstances

September 17, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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After demonstrating His power over the weather and over demons, Jesus demonstrated His power over disease.

And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:

Luke 8:41

Jairus was wealthy, powerful, and influential, yet he had no power in or of himself to save his beloved daughter.

For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him. Luk 8:43 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,

Luke 8:42-43

Jairus’s daughter was 12 years old, and this lady had been sick for 12 years. Unlike Jairus, the lady was neither powerful nor wealthy – in fact, just the opposite.

Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. But when Jesus heard it , he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.

Luke 8:44-55

Jesus’s Disciples thought He had arrived too late to save Jairus’s daughter, but they failed to fully grasp that Jesus has power not only over the weather, demons, and disease, but also the minutest circumstances. No one is too wealthy to need Jesus and no one is too far gone to be helped by Jesus. That’s the most important thing you can do for anyone with any kind of a problem: get them to Jesus.

The Nude Dude in a Rude Mood

September 4, 2018 at 11:34 am | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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In Luke 8:22-25 Jesus demonstrated His power over the weather by calming a storm with a simple command as He and the Disciples were sailing across the Sea of Galilee.

He went on to demonstrate His power over demons.

And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.

Luke 8:26-27 (emphasis added)

This crazy man living in the graveyard, naked, is often referred to as the “Gadarene Demoniac.”

When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)

Luke 8:28-29 (emphasis added)

And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought 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 fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city 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.

Luke 8:30-35 (emphasis added)

Being properly dressed is a sign of sanity. Clothes were invented by God as a reminder that we are not what we once were, but that our sins can be covered by the righteousness of Christ. Saved people have entered back into a right relationship with God, but not (with the exception of Christian marriage) into the “naked and unashamed” condition that Adam and Eve enjoyed before the Fall. One reason why immodest dress is unbiblical is that clothes should not draw attention to what they are meant to cover up.

What Kind of Dirt Are You?

August 14, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Luke, parables | Leave a comment
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Luke 8 contains what is usually called the Parable of the Sower or sometimes the Parable of the Soils, because Jesus described four different kinds of dirt.

A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

Luke 8:5

A farmer went out to plant his crop. As he was dropping his seeds to the ground, some of the seeds fell upon the place between the rows of the garden, or perhaps between distinct fields. These seeds did not fall on the soft, tilled part of the earth where they were intended to land, so they attracted birds that like to eat seeds.

And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

Luke 8:6

It’s doubtful that a farmer would intentionally drop seeds on rocks, but it would not have been uncommon for a farmer’s field in the ancient Near East to be located partially on a limestone substratum covered by a thin layer of soil. These seeds would sprout “plants-to-be” that couldn’t get their roots down to where the moisture was.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

Luke 8:7

Other seeds fell in places where, before their roots could get down, neighboring weeds robbed their sunlight or water, and they, too, never really became plants.

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Luke 8:8

A novice Bible-reader, upon reading the Gospels for the first time, might wonder why there were so many people in the days of Jesus’s earthly ministry without ears. Obviously, we know it’s a figure of speech, but it does let us know that not everyone who heard Jesus’s parables were going to understand them. The parables had the power to hide truth and reveal truth at the same time, depending on the spiritual condition of the listener. Even beyond the principle of spiritual tone-deafness, though, you can test this out in a meeting of diverse individuals today. If you hold up a photograph and say, “Here’s a picture of Jason Witten stiff-arming a defensive back,” some people are going to perk up.

If you say, “Here’s a picture of a puppy dog sharing an ice cream cone with a little girl,” other people are going to perk up.

puppy sharing ice cream

They proabaly won’t all be the same people. Not everybody has “ears to hear” every kind of subject.

And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto 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.

Luke 8:9-10

The parable of the dirt is not terribly difficult for modern readers to understand because the disciples were very helpful. They basically asked Jesus, “Okay, what are you trying to say?” This is what He meant by “those who have ears to hear.” It had been prophesied in the Old Testament that some people – primarily the hypocritical religious leaders – wouldn’t want to hear the truth, anyway, so God was going to increase their condemnation by teaching lessons that they wouldn’t comprehend unless they really wanted to know God.

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

Luke 8:11

This was a very straightforward way of announcing that this parable would be clearly explained to the disciples.

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

Luke 8:12

Jesus explained why He told them about some of the seeds falling by the wayside, but He also let them know explicitly that, in this parable, the “dirt” is the human heart. That’s important to remember: As human beings we bear the image of God. However, in our humanity, we are “but dust” (Genesis 18:27; Psalm 103:14). We are framed from earth – we’re animated dirt! We are not anything special apart from God’s work and God’s image stamped upon us. Additionally, some people are so worldly and their hearts have been so trampled into hardness by the ways of the world, that the Word of God doesn’t penetrate. When someone tries to give it to them the devil (the birds of the parable) comes and snatches it away, and they have a double condemnation: they were too proud to care, and too hard to receive.

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.

Luke 8:13

The “light” here is exceptional in that it represents, in this instance, persecution instead of truth. Persecution, like intense sunlight, shrivels plants with no roots. This describes people who briefly appear to be converted to true saving faith, but then somebody makes fun of them for being a Christian or suggests that they might not grow in spiritual maturity like they should unless they come to Sunday School instead of sleeping in on Sunday mornings. They find things are getting too “hot” and they reveal that their hearts were just dirt-dusted rocks that only appeared to be real dirt.

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Luke 8:14

This third type of “dirt” can’t bring forth fruit because the thorns of worldly cares are choking out the place where the roots would go. These are people who love something in this world, and though they may think that they would like to add Jesus to it, they do not really believe that He is anything more than a life-improvement accoutrement.

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.

Luke 8:15

Hopefully, Verse 15 is you. You’re just “dirt,” but at least you are real dirt – soft dirt – formerly hard ground that has been “broken” and has received the seed of the Word of God, so that you are not just “conformed” or “reformed” but “TRANSFORMED.” Has the seed in your heart come to fruition and actually changed your heart itself?

Glad Tidings

July 23, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,

Luke 8:1

The word translated as “shewing the glad tidings” is euaggelizo, the same word that can be translated as “preach the Gospel.” Jesus and His Disciples were not preaching about how to get nicer material possessions, or how to have a happier marriage, or how to be a better parent, or how to be healed from physical illness, or how to have “your best life now,” or how to “make every day a Friday.” No, they were preaching the Gospel!

Was this an isolated occurrence of evangelism for Jesus during His earthly ministry? Of course not.

And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

Luke 1:19

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Luke 2:10

The birth of Jesus was not separate from the Gospel. It was PART of the Gospel. The “peace on earth” that Jesus came to bring was not the kind of peace where people start being more polite to their neighbors. No, it was peace between God and man: God and SINNERS reconciled. Reconciliation is not made between friends or people who are already on the same team. Reconciliation is made between enemies. I’m sorry that your favorite department store or retailer suddenly wants to take “Christ” out of “Christmas,” but I’m a lot more concerned that some churches wants to take the GOSPEL out of Christmas!

The angels preached the Gospel, and John the Baptist preached it:

And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.

Luke 3:18

Jesus preached it:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

Luke 4:18

And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.

Luke 4:43

Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

Luke 7:22

In the books of the Bible which the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write (Luke and Acts), he makes a point of highlighting the ministry of women, and here we learn that the Gospel ministry had been supported by financial giving from the beginning.

And certain women, 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 unto him of their substance.

Luke 8:2-3

The Greatest Miracle

July 9, 2018 at 11:45 am | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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John the Baptist received from his disciples some news about Jesus’s ministry.

And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things.

Luke 7:18

John’s disciples considered themselves REformers (as opposed to the Pharisees who thought of themselves as CONformers, and Jesus’s disciples who were TRANSformers). John was doubting Jesus because he wasn’t seeing any reformation.

And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

Luke 7:19

Doubting can be a sign of unbelief, but not always. You can still have faith in God but be perplexed over what He is doing. As Oswald Chambers once said, “Doubting is not always a sign of unbelief; sometimes it’s a sign that a man is thinking.”

Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

Luke 7:22-23

The Greek word translated as “offended” in Luke 7:23 is skandalizo, from which we get the English word “scandalized.” It was originally the word for the bait in a trap – the enticement to fall into peril. The Person and ministry of Jesus should cause us to stop and think – but not to stumble and turn away. Jesus stressed the miracles He was doing so that John’s disciples could see the “transformation” which happens to individuals rather than the “reformation” which happens to governments.

I think sometimes we do a disservice in making converts believe that they are joining a club rather than entering into a personal relationship with the Savior. Healing the centurion’s servant was a great miracle. Raising the widow’s son from the dead was a great miracle. But Jesus was about to do an even greater miracle. He was about to save a sinner. That’s the greatest miracle because it meets the greatest need: forgiveness. It accomplishes the greatest result: eternal life. It cost the greatest price: the sacrificial death of Christ on the Cross.

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