A Blind Beggar and a Short Order Crook

March 19, 2020 at 11:02 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Luke | Leave a comment
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The Bible tells of two men who at first could not see Jesus – for different reasons. Was there a time when you wanted to see Jesus but could not? Do you remember what your reaction was the first time you did see Him?

And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:

Luke 18:35

Jericho was on the way to Jerusalem, which is where Jesus and His followers were going for Passover. This blind beggar had probably strategically placed himself in the path of religious people.

And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Luke 18:36-38

He used the Messianic title, pleading for mercy. He understood what the Disciples did not: that the One Who can “save” (sozo) – who could fulfill all the prophecies of the Messiah and truly deliver and heal blind people and cast out demons and make the lame to walk – was here, fulfilling the Scriptures. What an advertising campaign! Is this how you would choose to market your new business? Get some homeless blind guy to shout it out on the side of the highway? Or cause a disturbance somewhere, and when everybody gets mad at you, tell them all about it?

And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.

Luke 18:39-42

The man got his sight because of his faith. Faith comes by hearing, not by seeing. We walk by faith and not by sight, although a desire to see is a very good thing.

And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

Luke 19:1-2

Zacchaeus was not only a crook, but a chief crook and a rich crook. We might also call him a “short” order crook.

And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

Luke 19:3-4

Climbing up in a tree was not very dignified behavior for a rich publican.

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

Luke 19:5

How would you feel about Jesus inviting Himself to your house?

And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

Luke 19:6

When you see Jesus, follow Him, talk about Him, and praise Him with others.

And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

Luke 19:7

These people were talking about Zacchaeus, referring to Him as a sinner. Nobody ever really accused Jesus of being a sinner; they accused Him of being the friend of sinners.

And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

Luke 19:8

Zacchaeus’s reaction was the opposite of the rich young ruler’s reaction.

And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

Luke 19:9

The true sons of Abraham are those who are truly saved.

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:10

Even the Rich Need to be Saved

February 26, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Luke 18:18

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that this ruler was also young and rich. Jesus is more than just a “good teacher.” In fact, a “good teacher” who claimed to be God, if He really wasn’t, couldn’t honestly be called a good teacher.

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

Luke 18:19

Jesus was not denying His own Deity, but was establishing that this man had a low view of “good.”

Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

Luke 18:20

Jesus listed Commandments 5 – 9 in the Decalogue, ommitting Number 10, against coveting, which turned out to be the real deal-breaker for the rich young man.

And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

Luke 18:21-27

camel and needle

The answer to the question, “Who can be saved?” is really, “No one can be saved – unless God does a miracle.” Why were the Disciples so surprised that it would be difficult for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God? It was not because they themselves were rich. The word for “saved” in Verse 26 is the Greek word sozo, and it describes more than being rescued; it describes being made whole, “healed” or “delivered” in the fullest medical, spiritual, military, Messianic sense.

Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.

Luke 18:28-30

Persistent Pleas, Powerful Prayers, a Proud Pharisee, and a Penitent Publican

February 10, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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Luke Chapter 18 starts of with the parable that is sometimes called the parable of the unjust judge or the parable of the persistent widow. The primary lesson of this parable is: keep praying; don’t quit.

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Luke 18:1-8

There are four characters in the story: the judge, God, the widow, and her adversary. Obviously setting aside any comparisons between ourselves and God, with which of the remaining three characters do you identify? The judge did not fear God, which is a huge problem for any human being. Fear of God is the solution to overcoming fear of man. The fear of man is a snare, but the fear of God is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom. This was a judge who forgot that he himself would be judged AND he didn’t care about helping others. Don’t care about people so much that you disregard God, but don’t think that God wants you to disregard people.

Widows were particularly vulnerable in the culture where the parable is set. Both because of their gender and the lack of a male protector, they were often the victims of injustice. Somebody had done her an injustice and she had no recourse, except for one thing: persistence. She would not leave the judge alone. Do you identify with the widow? Do you feel powerless because of a lack of money and influence? If so, remember that you can still be pesistent. This lady was waiting for the judge every time he showed his face, and she would plead her case continaully.

Perhaps you are like the adversary in the parable. Have you taken advantage of someone who was easy to take advantage of? I hope not, but, if so, remember that God often takes up the cause of those who seem helpless, and often punishes those who mistreat the poor.

If even an unjust judge will be moved by continual petitions, how MUCH MORE will our loving Heavenly Father be moved by our persistence in prayer?

The second parable in Luke 18 deals with the prayers of two distinct types of people.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

Luke 18:9

The parable of the praying Pharisee and the praying publican is intended to show the danger of self-righteousness.

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

Luke 18:10

One man appeard outwardly religious and one man was openly sinful, and, while we know something of Jesus’s teachings and ministry and can guess who is going to be commended by Jesus and who is going to be condemned, the lesson would have been very controversial and surprising to Jesus’s audience when He orginally taught it.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

Luke 18:11

The Pharisee stood to pray, and there is nothing inherently wrong with standing while we pray if we are standing for the right reasons. Posture is not as important as piety when it comes to prayer. The verse says that he “prayed thus with himself,” and this is perhaps intentionally worded to make it seem like he’s somewhat unconsciously praying TO himself and addressing himself as God. The Pharisee’s prayer amounted to arrogance and contempt disguised as gratitude. He even workded in an insult to the person praying next to him.

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

Luke 18:12

The Pharisee clearly considered himself even more religious than he was requrired to be, and was very impressed with himself.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Luke 18:13

Both the Pharisee and the publican were in the vicinity of the Temple, but one of them strode arrogantly right up, and one meekly stood far off.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 18:14

Self-righteousness is just as much a sin as the sins of which the Pharisee accused others. Furthermore, it is an even greater bar to justification. God gives grace to, and justifies, the humble. He resists the proud and self-righteous. If we persist in trying to justify ourselves, then God will not justify us.

Our Own Worst Enemy

March 21, 2014 at 9:47 am | Posted in Micah, parables | 4 Comments
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Micah Chapters 1 and 2 contain warnings. Chapters 3 and 5 contain promises. Chapter 6 is a challenge. Micah sums up the attitude of the people when faced with the idea that God is displeased with their worship.

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Micah 6:6-7

You can’t build up a credit of good works with God while planning to sin. You can’t bargain with God: “If I do A, B, and C right, will You let me get away with X, Y, and Z?” The Lord is truly righteous. In Him is no sin at all.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 18:9-14

No man will make God his debtor. The stealing of land or property by the rich and powerful from the poor and weak is a sin which seems to trigger God’s judgment.

Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins. Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword.

Micah 6:13-14

God’s judgment sometimes begins slow like a train, but it always comes into the station right on time.

For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

Micah 6:16 (emphasis added)

The sins of the “common” people are just as offensive to God as the sins of the leaders.

For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.

Micah 7:6

Micah 7:6 is quoted in Matthew 10:36: “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Why would Jesus say this? There will be some families where some family members are saved and some are not. Those closest to you can be some of the worst stumbling blocks, and thereby your worst enemies. As Christians, we don’t hate our enemies – we love them – but there are times when our devotion to Christ calls us to separate from even parents or children.

According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things.

Micah 7:15

When every enemy is united against God’s people – when we don’t have anyone else to trust – that’s when the Lord does great miracles of deliverance.

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:18-19 (emphasis added)

The greatest victory God will ever win in your life will be the victory over you.

Thought about Ought

April 18, 2011 at 9:53 am | Posted in Luke, Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Luke 18:1

Could such a short, simple Verse really teach us much about the great Biblical principle of prayer? You might be surprised. In fact, let’s focus in for a moment on just one word in that Verse: “ought.”

The word “ought,” like so many Bible words, goes deeper than we can ever fathom. For example, there is the “ought” that tells us something is a good idea. “I ought to take my umbrella today. It might rain.”

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/httpitimeincnettimepotw20080829potw_05jpg-umbrella-woman-rain-art-25d025b425d025be25d025b625d025b425d1258c-25d025b725d025be25d025bd25d12582-girl-night-regen-gens_large.jpg?w=300

The concept that men should pray is one of the best ideas that God has given us. If you received some gadget, and weren’t sure exactly how it worked or what to do with it, the one person who would be most helpful to you is the person who invented, designed, and built the gadget. God is the Creator, Designer, and Builder, not only of you and me, but of everything that exists. And prayer is the way we talk to Him.

The word “ought” can also carry the connotation of a warning. “You ought not to mess with that dog,” said the owner of the snarling Rottweiler to the little boy.

https://i1.wp.com/i1.irishmirror.ie/incoming/article4973157.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/Rottweiler.jpg

For people to go through their day, arrogantly thinking they have the knowledge to make it through life’s trials, temptations, and testing, without consistently looking upward in prayer, is extremely dangerous. Whether you know it or not, you need the wisdom of God to keep from making a train wreck of your life. Prayer is how we ask God for wisdom.

There is also the “ought” of command. An employer might tell his custodial staff, “You ought to keep this area clean every day.”

http://dc380.4shared.com/img/6_NerrWn/s3/12c8abf1f50/keep-area-clean-notice-sign-s-

The Bible says to pray without ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17) This is a command from God. It does not mean that Christians should wander around in an oblivious state of hazy mumbling.

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSghY9WaYtYdeoaaKE7PM4S-2L1R8Zmroa8_pveyzT0OR2dhwJn0w

But it does mean that Christians should always be in an attitude of prayer, ready to call upon the Lord and seek His will, or to confess sin at the drop of a hat. We should also make sure that we have a serious “quiet time” of conversational communion with God on a consistent and frequent basis.

Christ said that the opposite of “always praying” is “fainting:” getting weary and giving up. As men and women of God, if we fail to “come apart” (get alone with God in prayer), we will surely “come apart” (fall to pieces).

Turning Up the Heat – Part 3

March 30, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 5 Comments
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Previously we examined:

1. The position of the Refiner
2. The purpose of the refining.

Now, let’s look at:

3. The product of the refining

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3, emphasis added

The end result of the refining of silver should be what? Refined silver. Pure silver. And not just so the refiner can say, “Okay, it’s pure!” No, refined silver is ready to be used for something – to be offered up. The Master Refiner – the Lord Jesus – wants the purified silver to be an offering in righteousness, but not an offering of something just to be put up on a shelf and admired. A righteous offering is something that can be used for the Glory of God.

Now, let’s be clear, the Refiner doesn’t take a lost person, somebody who’s never been born again, and put him in the Silversmith’s cauldron, and turn up the heat and keep it up until he does enough good works to earn his way to heaven. No, we are not saved by works.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

The Bible is very clear on that. But, as believers, sometimes we start to abuse the idea of grace. We read Ephesians 2:8-9 and we say, “Oh yeah, uh-huh, I’m a child of grace – grace has set me free… Now don’t talk to me about works! I’m all about grace, and I don’t want to hear anything about works!” And we fail to read what comes next:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

The Bible says we are created unto good works. You can not work for your salvation. But you should certainly be motivated to work because of it. God ordained some works for you to do – some good works – before you were ever created.

The purpose of the refining is to make us fit – suitable – to accomplish good works for the Refiner. Are you being refined today? Is the Refiner turning up the heat because you are holding on to those last few impurities?

The first time I taught this lesson, someone asked me, “How long will the refining last?” The refining will last until we are purified. But if you are asking me what can we do to shorten the refining process, my answer would be to let go of sin we are stubbornly holding onto. Now, that answer may feel like me stepping on your toes. And what’s even worse is that I highly recommend Bible study, prayer, church attendance, and Sunday School to help in your refining. If you don’t like those recommendations, your issue is not really with me. Your issue is with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God. If a person is stepping on your toes, it’s easy enough to get some protective foot-wear. But if the Holy Ghost is stepping on your toes, the best way I can think of to stop getting your toes stepped on is to move your feet – move them right in line with the Word of God. That’s the path – the only safe path – for your feet to go.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

II Timothy 2:15

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Luke 18:1

And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

Acts 5:32

Let us thank God that our refining is not for vanity. You want to know how long a refiner refines and purifies silver and gold? The answer is, as long as it takes. I doubt the truthfulness of this illustration, since I suspect that looking into a pot of molten silver over extreme heat could cause blindness, but it makes a good point: A silversmith determines that the silver he is refining is pure when he can look down and see his own reflection in it. In the same way, the Lord Jesus is refining us until He looks down and sees an image of Himself looking back.

1. The position of the Refiner: sitting
2. The purpose of the refining: purified faith and obedience
3. The product of the refining: believers conformed to the image of Christ.

Quarterback Commandment No. 2

March 19, 2009 at 11:37 am | Posted in Quarterback Commandments | 17 Comments
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This is the second in a series of 11 “Quarterback Commandments” which Bill Parcells gave to Tony Romo, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. The connection between the Quarterback Commandments and this series of Bible lessons can be found in the preface to Quarterback Commandment No. 1.

Quarterback Commandment No. 2: Clowns can’t run a huddle. Don’t forget to have fun, but don’t be the class clown. Clowns and leaders don’t mix. Clowns can’t run a huddle.

Spiritual Application: Christians are supposed to be Christ-like. We are supposed to act the way Jesus acted. There is no evidence in Scripture to indicate that Jesus was generally morose, pedantic, boring, overly austere, or just plain old “no fun to be around.” I know many preachers and teachers like to claim that some of the church fathers, reformers, and Puritans gave Jesus a bad image by portraying Him as somber, serious, and grumpy. Modern evangelicals love to point out that Jesus was not a “cosmic killjoy.”

Let’s be analytical for a second. We know Jesus had a sense of humor. Matthew 7:4 and a few other verses show that He could turn a phrase to humorous effect, and even be a little sardonic at times (Matthew 23:24). After all, He was the Book of Proverbs personified, so He must have been witty, as well as wise. We also know that He went to a wedding (John 2:2), He enjoyed good food (John 21:13), and little children liked to be around Him (Matthew 18:2, Luke 18:16).

However, the instances of Jesus joking around are extremely rare in the Gospel record. We see Him angry (Matthew 21:12). We see Him grieved (Luke 13:34). We see Him challenging the status quo (Matthew 23:33). We see Him teaching the greatest and most valuable truths ever taught. We even see Him crying (John 11:35).

So was Jesus Christ a bitter, discontented grouch? Definitely not! Was He a clown? Definitely not! In Christ Jesus, the supreme example for every Christian, we observe the perfect balance. He could weep with those who wept. He laughed with those whose laughter was not sinful. He sternly admonished those who needed correction. He showed compassion and real solutions to those who were truly hurting. And He never, ever ONCE brought shame or disgrace to His Holy Name, to His character, or to His testimony. He never once stepped even a millimeter outside the will of His Father.

As Christian “quarterbacks,” it is possible to have fun in Christian leadership. But, for a quarterback, there must be a difference between having fun and being a clown. The Gospel is a not a “business,” but we might say that we should consider our duty to preserve, protect, and promote the Gospel message to be “serious business.”

Lester Roloff, before he would begin a sermon, would sometimes sing along with some of the young ladies whom God had used him to rescue from lives of addiction and immorality. In one song, he liked to remind people of the seriousness of our spiritual warfare.

“It’s a battlefield, brother, not a recreation room,” he would sing.
“It’s a fight and not a game.
“When I fall down I’m gonna get right up,
“‘Cause I didn’t start out to play
“Run if you want to, run if you will,
“But I came here to stay.”

Consider what the Bible has to say about the demeanor of Christian leaders:

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

Titus 2:2

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

Titus 2:6-7

Whether we are running a prayer huddle, a Sunday School class huddle, a family worship huddle, or a Biblical counseling huddle, let us remember that “Clowns for Christ” is an oxymoronic idea.

The Breaststroke

January 14, 2009 at 10:01 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Isaiah | 6 Comments
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USA Swimming defines the “breaststroke” as “the oldest stroke, dating back hundreds of years.” It is a type of swimming in which the swimmer uses “simultaneous movements of the arms on the same horizontal plane. The hands are pressed out from in front of the breast in a heart-shaped pattern.” It is often said to be a type of swimming which requires great endurance because the swimmer is constantly exerting effort.

This type of swimming stroke exemplifies one of the images the Bible gives of God moving on behalf of His people, as He saves them from the midst of their enemies.

And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.

Isaiah 25:11

As God spreads forth His hands among the enemies of His people, we get a mental picture of His hands making the shape of a heart, representing His love for His children. The enemies are then pressed away and aside, along with their pride and their ill-gotten gains. God’s endurance, unlike that of a human swimmer, knows no limits, as He is all-powerful. If you feel you are drowning in a sea of suffering, misery, or even apathy, admit your sin, smite your heart of pride, and call upon the Lord for mercy (Luke 18:13). He will rescue you, and pull you close to His heart, so that you may fellowship with Him and share His secrets (John 13:25).


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