The Servant King and Servant Judge

July 27, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Mark, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Jesus Christ was the greatest servant of all time, but He is also the greatest King. A worldly king receives honor by making his people suffer, but the Servant King suffers FOR His own people. Jesus allowed a public demonstration in His honor knowing it would bring about His suffering and death.

And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.

Mark 11:1-6

At first glance, this looks like a God-condoned car-jacking! Can you imagine just walking up to a stranger’s car (or this case, his donkey), and driving it (leading it) away – and when the owner says, “Hey, what are you doing?” you tell him, “Jesus told me to do it!” Actually, this wasn’t a theft because the owners actually gave their consent based on the Disciples’ explanation.

And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed [them] in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:

Mark 11:7-9

“Hosanna” meant “save now.” The crowd meant it politically and militarily, but Jesus was fulfilling it prophetically and soteriologically. The culmination of His eternal plan of redemption was going into action NOW.

Jesus was also a Judge, and now He acted as the Servant Judge.

And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;

Mark 11:15

He cleansed the Temple, which had become a den of thieves and a place for the religious leaders to hide and conceal what they were really doing. Jesus served in judgment by cleansing the place where “undesirable” people were supposed to worship – poor people and Gentiles – because these people were being exploited and kept from drawing nearer to God by the religious leaders. Is the local church that you belong to in line for this sort of judgment? Is it a house of merchandise or a house of prayer? Has it become a place to exploit people, or is it a place for people to meet and worship God?

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Don’t Teach Finesse

May 1, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Previously I discussed the dangers of teaching the Bible to children the way we would teach fables, and of the danger of teaching them that the Bible is merely a sounding board for our feelings. Now we will see that we must also beware of the temptation to teach obedience to God as though it was part of a reward system, or a quid pro quo bargaining chip.

This is an especially dangerous teaching method because of the way even adults, through the so-called “health and wealth gospel” or the “Word of Faith” movement, have been seduced into this way of thinking: “I’ll obey You, God, but I need You to give me something in return” (good health and money being the two favorites). We see this train of thought subtly insinuated in promises to get blessings for giving, for ministry, even for faithfulness.

The problem is not really in teaching that God blesses, and even honors, faithfulness. The problem is in slapping our definition of “blessing” onto God’s greater and higher definition of blessing. Children who are taught that God is just aching to give them what their flesh craves are susceptible to developing a mentality of “gaming the system” – of trying to bribe or outsmart God.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

I Timothy 6:6-10

A love of money or any material thing (which amounts to the sin of greed) will bring sorrow instead of joy into the hearts of your children. Let’s teach our children that knowing and serving God is a blessing unto itself, and that even poverty and suffering may be counted as true blessings under His promises.

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.

Luke 6:20-21

The Problem with Pecuniary Parenting

September 29, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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In a previous lesson I critiqued the style of parenting in which parents make decisions concerning their children based on the popularity of the decisions. Getting input from our children, and listening closely to what they have to say, is certainly wise, but we recognize that our authority as parents comes from an authority higher than our children, and even higher than us.

Another parenting category may be called “monetary parents.” These parents tend to try to buy their children’s obedience, respect, or even love. The common parlance for this method is called “spoiling” your children. This is sometimes triggered by feelings left over from our own childhood that perhaps our parents were not as generous with us as we would have liked them to be. It helps to remember, as a counter to this temptation, that materialism breeds its own set of problems. Remember, your children are not an outlet for any lingering childhood resentments of your own, and you are not commanded in the Word of God (although you might be by society or pop culture) to give your children “all the things you never had.” Using bribery as a replacement for training, nurture, discipleship, and discipline is a recipe for rearing greedy, covetous kids.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:25-33

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

I Timothy 6:10

It is not wrong to give treats to our kids, and special presents from time to time, but it is wrong to rob them of the spiritual and practical disciplines of self-control and wise stewardship. Some of the poorest families I know are really the richest.

Next time, we will take a look at a third parenting category.

Beware the Fattening Fantasy

June 1, 2015 at 12:07 pm | Posted in The Fives | Leave a comment
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Some people call it the “American Dream.” It’s the idea that you and/or your family will become successful according to worldly standards. You will have a good job and a lucrative career. You will own a nice home with modern amenities. Perhaps you will eventually acquire a luxury car, or a boat, or a summer home. Your kids will have the latest gadgets, technology, and toys. You will put away funds with a view toward retiring at a fairly early age.

You might give regularly to charity as your budget allows, but, for the most part, your life plan will be mainly focused on you and yours. You will apply the moniker “Christian” to yourself, and you might even officially join a church, but, to the extent you concern yourself with spiritual things, your worship of the Lord of all the Earth, and your service in the name of Christ, will be, at most, in the nature of a figurative accoutrement to an already-full, self-sufficient, and subjectively satisfying life.

If this sounds appealing, or actually describes you, beware of seeing such “success” and “prosperity” as a sign of God’s blessing.

Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

James 5:5

The glory that the Lord God will get from your life may come from the sacrificial, Christ-exalting things you are allowed to voluntarily do now, or it may come at some point in the not-too-distant, or perhaps eternal, future when He glorifies Himself by involuntarily stripping you of the things you loved more than Him.

Like an animal wearing a prize-winning ribbon at a county fair, you do not want to find out one day that you’ve been fattening yourself up merely for a slaughter.

Beware the Fearful Force

June 12, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
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There was a time when God’s people enjoyed blessings and favor in the land which God promised them. They had plenty to eat and plenty to drink. They worked hard, but they enjoyed periods of leisure as well. This all came to an end, though, when they forgot the God Who loved them. They rebelled against His Word and His laws. They threw in their lot with pagan nations, and they committed abomination with false idols. The result was plague, famine, captivity, deprivation, hardship, thirst, and work with no rest.

Our necks are under persecution: we labour, and have no rest.

Lamentations 5:5

God does not enjoy seeing His people in bondage. He does not take pleasure in seeing the wicked with their “foot on the neck” of His beloved children. Nor does He want them to work like slaves for their idols.

This is a sobering reminder for Christians today. How many hours per week do you work? And for what are you working? Toys? Luxuries? Prominence among your neighbors? Let us be careful not to enslave ourselves to this world’s system. We all feel a certain amount of pressure to “keep us with the Joneses” and to make sure our children have all the fancy things their friends have, but worshiping mammon in place of God only leads to forced labor and persecution.

The Ministry of Micah

April 14, 2014 at 11:13 am | Posted in Micah | Leave a comment
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Idolatry and greed are two sins that often go hand in hand. Human beings are prone to find their security in things that we can see and handle. The first two of the 10 Commandments were very strong prohibitions against worshiping, fashioning, or ascribing “need-meeting” power to anything other than the One True God. In the prophet Micah’s day these commandments were violated with reckless abandon as the Northern Kingdom fell under the curse that befalls all who forsake the real God for little man-made substitutes. It is a curse that entails oppression of the poor, the forsaking of mercy, and debased unrighteousness. Micah warned the people that God would not let such things go unnoticed nor unpunished.

Below is a list of links to lessons on the Book of Micah:

1. When God Makes Fun of Your Name
2. The Raptor and the Captor
3. False Prophecy and Disappointment
4. Condemning the Princes, Prophets, and Priests
5. That Man Was Certifiable! *
6. One Sin Lighter
7. Cut-Outs, Cut-Ups, or Cut-Offs
8. Our Own Worst Enemy
9. What Does God Want from Me?
10. Opportunities / Obstacles
11. The Breathtaking Wonder of God

* most-viewed post in category

Are You a “Stuff”y Christian?

November 14, 2011 at 11:13 am | Posted in Ezekiel | 2 Comments
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After delivering a series of wordless “action sermons” the prophet Ezekiel begins to speak again in Chapter 7. God has him tell the people not only that the “end is coming,” but that it’s coming soon.

Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations.

Ezekiel 7:8 (emphasis added)

In Chapter 8, 14 months after his first vision, Ezekiel gets his second vision. This is not a “fresh” vision, though; it is a new insight into the original vision. The idolatry of the leaders is exposed.

And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.

Ezekiel 8:16-17

In Chapter 9 the people are slain.

Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.

Ezekiel 9:6

In Chapter 10 the glory of the Lord departs from the Temple.

Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.

Ezekiel 10:18

It is a shame when people are deceived by their own leaders.

Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD’S house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people. Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city: Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh. Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man. And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.

Ezekiel 11:1-5

Thing have not changed much since Ezekiel’s day. Even today in America we have political leaders who get people on their side by espousing their religious beliefs, only to line their own pockets. If the economists tell these greedy politicians that we as Americans are not being optimistic and enthusiastic consumers, then we are deemed “unpatriotic.” God’s judgment is righteous against those who would use His name as a pretense to stimulate the economy.

This city shall not be your caldron, neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel:

Ezekiel 11:11

All throughout history God has maintained a faithful remnant of true believers.

Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.

Ezekiel 11:17

Ezekiel also prophesied about the coming Messiah, the Kingdom of Jesus, and the end times.

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 11:19-21

We know these prophecies have a reach beyond Ezekiel’s day because the Books of Haggai and Malachi show that the returning remnant didn’t have the kind of spiritual renewal described in Ezekiel 11.

Ezekiel once again is told by God to act out a sermon and he begins doing some very strange things.

Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house. Then shalt thou bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing: and thou shalt go forth at even in their sight, as they that go forth into captivity.

Ezekiel 12:3-4 (emphasis added)

This removal of “stuff” illustrated the consequences of the “rebellious house” which the land of Israel had become. What attitude do we find today among people who are rebellious toward God when it comes to their “stuff?” Beware of the love of material possessions.

Character and Integrity Part 6

October 13, 2009 at 10:49 am | Posted in character and integrity, Luke | 9 Comments
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Our three main enemies are the devil, the world, and our flesh. The devil wants to lie to us and deceive us. Our flesh wants us to please ourselves, and not God. The world wants us to be fake – something we’re not – in order to get money.

We must not fool ourselves into thinking we can control your own bodies. We must not let people tell us that we have a built-in excuse: our nature. God has the power to control everything. He controls the wind, waves, earthquakes, and atoms. We should not be the one thing that God created that rebels against Him.

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

God can control our bodies – the desires of our flesh – if we surrender to Him. But we have to surrender every day. Our minds are not going to be blank. We have to replace bad thoughts with good thoughts.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

In this ongoing series of lessons, I have made comparisons between the character and integrity of material objects and the character and integrity of Christians. Continuing in this vein, I submit that a straight wall has better character and integrity than a crooked wall.

Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:

Amos 7:7-8

For a wall to stand, it must be in balance. Jesus Christ was the most balanced Person of all time.

And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

Luke 2:48

When the Lord Jesus, as a boy, went to the temple without checking in with his earthly parents, they probably thought He had lost His mind. He had not, but here in the story of the Prodigal Son, we see someone who had lost his mind, evidenced by the expression, “he came to himself.”

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Luke 15:17

Paul was accused of being “beside himself,” another term for having lost his mind.

And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

Acts 26:24

There was a belief in Bible times that the mind could be separated from the body. The symptoms were that the person’s body was doing something that was out of balance with what the mind would have dictated.

The Lord Jesus, even at age 12, was completely in balance, despite some of the so-called disadvantages which we use as excuses for being out of balance today.

Jesus’s earthly family was not wealthy.

And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

Luke 2:24

His brothers did not believe in Him.

For neither did his brethren believe in him.

John 7:5

His mother did not always understand Him.

There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

Mark 3:31-33

Joseph, his earthly foster father, did not always understand Him.

And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

Luke 2:50

Whenever you feel frustrated because you think nobody understands you, remember that Jesus was misunderstood His whole earthly life!

And yet, look at the balance in His life.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

The Lord Jesus spent His teenage years preparing for His ministry mentally. When Jewish boys turn 13 they celebrate a “Bar Mitzvah,” which means “son of the law.”

Each of us has different degrees of intellectual ability, but no matter how smart we are, it is important to do our best. If we do well in every part of our lives except our intellectual studies, we are going to be out of balance.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

“Stature” can refer to size and age. This verse leads us to believe that Jesus was healthy, but He did not give unbalanced attention to His outward physical appearance. He was probably ordinary-looking.

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Isaiah 53:2

We need to eat right, get enough sleep, exercise.

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:27

Our outward appearance is not as important as the spiritual condition of our heart, but it is important. We need to be guided by the example of Jesus. He stood out because of His Words, manner, and actions, not because of His physical appearance. As Christians, we should sometimes stand out, but we should not stand out for the wrong reasons: tattoos, body piercings, facial piercings, ridiculously long hair on boys and men. Remember, Jesus was a Nazarene, not a Nazarite. There is no warrant in Scripture for portraying Him with the long girlish hair seen in most artwork. A common objection to the admonition not to have an attention-seeking physical appearance is, “I’m just expressing myself.” But the truth is, God doesn’t want us expressing ourselves – He want us to express Him!

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Romans 15:1

A good question to ask about my physical appearance is whether I am exalting God, or exalting me? If my “stature,” my body, is not surrendered to God, then I am out of balance.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

If anybody had the right to really think He was Somebody special, it was Jesus. But even though He was the “Lord,” He didn’t “lord” it over everyone.

But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.

Luke 2:44

Notice that Jesus’s earthly family could go a day without worrying about how people treated Him. They knew that people like someone who is a servant, and who is obedient and respectful. As a man, the Lord Jesus was invited to weddings and parties. If you’re not socially acceptable, or if you’re acceptable only around people who love sin, you are out of balance.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and Man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

Jesus was and is God, but in Jesus’s humanity it is also true that God “was with” Jesus. Jesus had favor with God.

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

Luke 2:46

When Jesus went to the temple, He did not slump down in the back row. He did not pass notes. None of the teachers got frustrated because He wasn’t paying attention. Jesus was not only asking questions, but He was “hearing them.”

Jesus prayed often. He even taught lessons on how to pray. He quoted Scripture when He was tempted by Satan and challenged by the Pharisees. He always knew the right Verse for the occasion. If you are not right spiritually, you are out of balance.

Jesus was perfect mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually, and He is our model.


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