Thursday, November 30, 2006
Matthew 7:13 The Two Ways.
Chuck Swindoll, in his book, Strike The Original Match, tells of a fellow who fell in love with an
opera singer. He hardly knew her, since his only view of the singer was through binoculars – from the third balcony. But he was convinced he could live 'happily ever after' married to a voice like that. He scarcely noticed she was considerably older than he. Nor did he care that she walked with a limp. Her mezzo-soprano voice would take them through whatever might come. After a whirlwind romance and a hurry-up ceremony, they were off for their honeymoon together. She began to prepare for their first night together. As he watched, his chin dropped to his chest. She plucked out her glass eye and plopped it into a container on the nightstand. She pulled off her wig, ripped off her false eyelashes, yanked out her dentures, unstrapped her artificial leg, and smiled at him as she slipped off her glasses that hid her hearing aid. Stunned and horrified, he gasped, "For goodness sake, women, sing, sing, SING!
Some choices are certainly more important than others. Some choices change your life forever. And every day in our society people make choices that not only change their earthly lives, but also change their eternal destinies.
In the classic Alice in Wonderland, Alice comes to a crossroad and asks the guide which way she should go. The guide asks her, “Where are you going?” Alice replies, “I don’t know where I am going.” The guide then responds, “Well, if you don’t know where you are going, it doesn’t matter which road you take.”
Where you wind up depends on which road you take! In other words, you cannot go south from here and expect to go to Brisbane. You can not go east from here and wind up at the Wallsend. I realize you could do this if you were to circumnavigate the globe, but using the roads which are in place now, it would be absolutely impossible for you to do that. Just as this is true in the physical realm, it is also true in the spiritual realm.
Where you wind up in eternity will be determined by the road you take here on earth. It is impossible to take the wrong road and go to Heaven, and it is impossible to take the Heavenly road and go to Hell. What you do while in this world will determine forever, where you spend your forever.
Our world is faced with the question of eternal life. If there is a Heaven and a Hell, what are we to do about it? After concluding that there is a Heaven and a Hell, the next question is - "How does one get there?" What is the road to Heaven? What is the road to Hell?
Billy Graham was interviewed once with Australian television interviewer Mike Willessee.
MW “We’re all headed to the same place, just on different roads!”
BG “ That’s not what Christ says, John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
MW “You are divisive! You divide people!”
BG “I don’t divide people. God does. Saved and unsaved!”
There are the saints and the aints.
The saints have received Jesus, the aints have not received Him.
1. You Have A Difficulty To Face
A frank statement of the hardships and difficulties involved in a course of conduct does not seem a very likely way to induce men to adopt it, but it often proves so. There is something in human nature which responds to the bracing tonic of the exhortation: ‘By doing thus you will have to face many hardships and many difficulties which you may avoid by leaving it alone; but do it, because it is best in the long run, being right from the beginning.’ So the story of the martyrs’ fires has lighted many a man to the faith for which the martyr was burned.
A. There Is A Narrow Gate Of Concentration
When you come through a turnstile, you come alone and cannot carry baggage
with you. You must strip off everything that’s surplus. Story of butterfly struggling out of cocoon.
The narrow gate is a tight squeeze.
There can only be one goal, to get right with God.
I have met a lot of people who have become “Christians” for all the wrong reasons. In the end there is only one reason to become a Christian: to get right with God.
B. There Is A Difficult Road Of Consecration
Clearly the narrow way is a different way. Its Different to that of most people in our world.
Its different in its lifestyle.
Have you been considered narrow?
Peter spelled this out succintly
! Petr 4:2 live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing the will of the pagans: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 In regard to this, they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation—and they slander you.
And they do!
Its An Individual Journey
We have to go in one by one. But we have God.
We have to go along through a difficult way, but we have a guide.
In his poem The Ways, John Oxenham, the English poet , wrote:
To every man there openeth A Way, and Ways, and a Way,
And the High Soul climbs the High Way, And the Low Soul gropes the Low,
And in between, on the misty flats, The rest drift to and fro.
But to every man there openeth A High Way and a Low,
And every man decideth The Way his soul shall go.
2. You Have A Destiny To Find
"God hath set eternity in our hearts" — that innate, instinctive consciousness that Longfellow glimpsed when he wrote, "Life is real, life is earnest And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art to dust returnest Was not spoken of the soul."
From the most primitive to the most cultured of the human race there has been felt the inherent realisation that this life is only the doorway to a larger experience. Victor Hugo eloquently and logically interpreted his own great urge towards the immortal realities in these memorable words, "I feel in myself the future life. I am rising, I know, towards the shy. The sunshine is over my head. Heaven lights me with the reflection of unknown worlds. You say the soul is nothing but the result of bodily powers; why then is my soul the more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head and eternal spring is in my heart. The nearer I approach the end, the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvellous yet simple. It is a fairy-tale and it is history. For half a century ^ have been writing my thoughts in prose, verse, history, philosophy, drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode, song—I have tried all. But I feel that I have not said a thousandth part of what is in me. When I go down to the grave I can say like so many others, "I have finished my days work"—but I cannot say, "I have finished my life." My day's work will begin the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley. It is a thoroughfare. It closes in the twilight to open in the dawn."
Hugo expresses what is in all our souls. Within the walls of our decaying physical abode there dwells an undying guest, call it the ego, the personality, the soul, or what you will. That is why Jesus said, "Pear not them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do." The undying spirit is untouched by the hurts that wound the body. God hath set eternity in our hearts. I want to suggest, then, that we live in the consciousness of the greatness of our destiny, and that we prevent it from becoming just a blind groping in the dark. How may we do this? Jesus Christ is the answer.
2 destinies destruction and life.
There Is A Place Called Hell - Jesus tells us here that the broad road leads to "destruction." When we think of something being destroyed, we usually think about something be annihilated and forever done away with. This word, however, refers to "loss". It speaks of total and absolute ruin. In all honesty, it refers to loss one suffers in the fires of Hell. My friends, the broad road ends in Hell. Every person who chooses the broad way will eventually find themselves in the fires of Hell. That, to me, is the most awful thought my mind ever tried to understand. What makes it so terrible is that some of you are headed there right now! Allow me to give you a little insight into this place where the broad way ends.
1. Unquenchable fire - Mark 9:43; Luke 16:24
2. Memory and Remorse - Luke 16:25; 27-28
3. Unsatisfied Thirst - Luke 16:24-25
4. Frustration and Anger - Luke 13:28; Matt. 24:51
5. Unspeakable Pain and Misery - Luke 16:24-26; Rev. 14:10-11
6. Eternal Separation - Rev. 21:8; 2 Thes. 1:9
7. Undiluted Wrath - Rev. 20:15 (Ill. There will be no more mercy or respite. Hell will be eternally real and eternally awful.)
Regardless of what men think, Hell is real and every second lost souls drop off into the searing heat of that horrible place. No matter how I tried, I could never adequately describe Hell, but if I were to be able to exhaust all the vocabulary of English and paint word pictures that conveyed the truth of that place the half would be told as to the horror that awaits everyone headed to the land of the damned. A place from which there will never be deliverance. A place to which you will surely go if you choose to follow the broad and easy road through life. Where will you end up?
B. There Is A Place Called Heaven - Just as the broad road has its destination, the narrow way does too. This road doesn't end in Hell, but it ends in Heaven above. Jesus promised those who would follow this way life. Not just life down here, but everlasting, glorious life in the realms of light above this wicked, perishing world. If Hell is a place of horror, pain, separation and suffering, then Heaven is a place of joy, rest, peace, unspeakable beauty and glory. Everything that Hell isn't Heaven is! Just a brief glimpse at the glories of that city tell me that that's where I want to end up. Consider these truths about that splendid place.
1. No Tears, pain, sorrow, death, etc - Rev. 21:4
2. No Sin - Rev. 21:8
3. No Night - Rev. 21:25
4. No Curse - Rev. 22:3
5. With God and Jesus - Rev. 21:3; 22-23; 22:4
6. A Glorious City - Rev. 21:11-24
7. Glories beyond description and beyond the ability of man to comprehend and understand - 1 Cor. 2:9.
William Hauptman writes: "My brother lived in Wichita Falls, and when he saw the tornado coming, he threw his family into the car and took off. This was not a good idea, but my brother was already a storm chaser, and this was the first thought that came into his head. The tornado followed him all the way across town. What he remembers most clearly are the people who were not seeking shelter. As he passed a shopping mall, he saw scores of people standing in the parking lot, watching the tornado approach. He met other cars and blinked his lights at them -they kept driving right into the funnel. He passed people mowing their lawns, painting their houses, going about their business with death right on top of them."
Prov.14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death."
C. An Individual Judgement
Sir Thomas Smith 1577 secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth 1 Dying words “it is a matter of lamentation that men know not for what end they were born into the world, until they are ready to go out of it.”
3. You Have A Decision To Face
No one enters this gate by accident. Jesus said in Luke 13:24, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able."
You Are Free To Decide “enter”
God’s invitation is open.
Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isa 55:1 Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters;and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost! 2 Why do you spend money on what is not food, and your wages on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and you will enjoy the choicest of foods.3 Pay attention and come to Me; listen, so that you will live.
Matt 11:28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Rev 22:17 Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Anyone who hears should say, “Come!” And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift.
You Are Forced To Decide
You are free to decide, but You are not free not to decide. Pilate’s indecision, washing hands and walking away, was a decision. Not to decide is to decide! There is no neutrality on this issue.
You Have Fruits From your Decision
You are free to decide, but you are not free to choose the consequences of your decision. You are free to jump out a window of a high rise building, but you are not free to choose whether you’ll get splattered on the ground or not. Once you make your decision there are consequences!
I recently had email contact from a 26 year old muslim fellow who was ready to become a Christian. An Iraqui. Said he was worried about going to church in Syria because that would mean a death sentence for him. He was worried about becoming a Christian. His choice has real consequences.
So does yours.
You are free not to choose Christ, but there are consequences to that decision. The consequences are eternal Acts 4:12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”
You have An Individual Choice
Its your decision! John 6:37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.
There Are Two Possible Directions In Life; the narrow and difficult, or broad and easy.
There Are Two Possible Destinations In Eternity : you may go to destruction or you may have life?
THERE ARE TWO POSSIBLE DECISIONS YOU CAN MAKE.
It finally is all about Jesus. What will you do with Jesus who died to be your Saviour and who has been raised to be your Lord and friend.
“There is a line by us unseen that crosses every path,
A line that marks the boundary between God’s mercy and His wrath.”
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
AMAZING GRACE 2 Samuel 9
“When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, “
I seem to see before the eyes of my heart the very dying form of One who suffered there for me.
The Prince Of Glory. Lord. Creator. Second person of the Trinity! God incarnate.
Sometimes I have wondered, “How Could God ever forgive those men that nailed His Son to the cross?”
The Lord Jesus prayed for them “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
His prayer was answered, we read in Acts 6 where many of the jewish priests became obedient to the faith Acts 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
How could God forgive those men who nailed His Son to the cross?
How could God forgive men for whose sins His Son was nailed to the cross?
See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown.
How could God forgive me?
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died,
My riches gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.
The cross speaks of God’s grace. This communion table with bread and grape juice speaks of God’s grace. Tonight, as we read a story in 2 Samuel 13, we read of Grace, and we are reminded of the cross.2 Sam. 9:11-13 So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table just like one of the king’s sons. 12 Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica. All those living in Ziba’s house were Mephibosheth’s servants. 13 However, Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem because he always ate at the king’s table. He was lame in both feet.
1. The Condition Which Grace Meets.
Mephibosheth had been an unfortunate sort of man. He had been the child of Jonathon. He wa the grand son of King Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul, who hated David. Saul, who dreaded that David would one day become King of Israel.
When Mephibosheth’s nurse learned that King saul and his son Jonathon had been killed in battle, the nurse hurried Mephibosheth away, fearful that he and she would be killed in retaliatory attacks by David’s men.
2 Samuel 4:4 And Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.
He was Away Mephibosheth’s nurse hurried him away.
The nurse and Mephibosheth Were both Afraid of David.
With long indoctrination from the nurse, Mephibosheth. Had learned that he had best keep his distance from King David. Who knew when David might remember the pain and hurt Saul had caused David? When might David take the opportunity to get even for the terrible injustices that Saul and his family had wrought against David?
And how best would it be to eradicate from the Kingdom of Israel of David, any who may be tempted to rise up in rebellion. It was best for Mephibosheth. To keep away, to stay afraid.
I guess in Mephibosheth.’s mind many strange fearful anxieties would have arisen when ever he thought of David or the Israelite army or the government. Those fears would soon breed into antagonism. How satan loves to breed antagonism in the human heart.
Antagonism and resentment can so breed in the human heart as to consume all joys and all loves.
Prince Eugene of Savoy was related to most of the royal houses in Europe. But because he was a hunchback. King Louis of France would not have him at his court. So Eugene went over to the Hapsburgs in Austria, became commander of the army, and led them in their defeat of the Turks, and later, the French!
Is this not the very condition in which God’s Amazing grace found us?
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found was blind but now I see.
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear.
It was right that we should fear God because of our sins. It was our sins that were so grievous to God.
We were away from God. We were Afraid of God. We were Antagonistic towards God!
And how the devil blinded us to the fact of God’s great love and purpose towards us in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And grace my fears relieved.. how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.”
Romans 5:8 says. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 2 Cor 4:4 says But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2. The Salvation Which Grace Ministers.
"thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. "
It was a mark of acceptance for Mephibosheth to be there,
Romans 5:9 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
It was also a mark of assurance. If anyone wanted to unseat David, the logical approach was to promote Mephibosheth as the rightful king. His grandfather was king. David did not descend from a kingly line. His father was a farmer. His grandfather was a farmer. It would be easy to argue that the grandson of Saul had a better claim to the throne than David. If ever there was opportunity to start a revolution, that opportunity lay in the living person of Mephibosheth. When David summoned him, Mephibosheth feared for his life. It was a mark of assurance that he sat every day at the king's table.
But this was all so very long ago. What does it have to do with us? Just this: we, too, sit at the King's table. He is not like David, king over some tiny vest-pocket principality in a far corner of the world. He is King over the whole earth. He is the King of Kings. He has invited us to sit at his table.
We come only by invitation: his invitation. Like Mephibosheth we find it a place of acceptance. We, too, are crippled. We are spiritually crippled. We do not walk as we were meant to walk. People may look at us and think, "You have no place at the King's table." But he has invited us all the same.
We do not come because we are pure. We come because we want to be pure. We do not come because we are innocent. We come because we want to be innocent. It is a measure of our acceptance that in spite of our spiritual awkwardness and our great limitations, he invites us still. In that acceptance, there is the blessed assurance that Jesus is ours.
There is also a sense of abasement here.
And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. 8 And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am? And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar.
The desert. Barrenness. Frustration and fear.
That other king's table was a table of abundance.
In Vienna, Austria, you can visit the royal apartments in the Hofburg Palace. Particularly interesting is the dining room. The table is set as it would be for a royal banquet. You have never seen so many knives, forks, and spoons at one table setting in your life. It would take a set of directions to know which fork to pick up first. But for some of the guests of the emperor Franz Joseph, that was not a problem. They always served the emperor first. He was a very fast eater. When he quit eating, everyone else had to quit eating. It would have been rude to have continued. Because the table was so long and because he ate so fast, there were many people who came to have dinner and never got to eat anything at all. By the time they were served, he was finished. They used to say in Vienna that if you had an invitation to dine with the king, you should eat before you go. Nothing like that happened at King David's table.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
3. The Response Which Grace Merits.
2 Sam 19:24 And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace.
2 Cor 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
2 Sam 19:28 For all of my father's house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king? 29 And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land. 30 And Mephibosheth said unto the king, Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house.
Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Were the whole realm of nature mine That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing so Divine demands my soul my life my all.
This is a table for remembering. Mephibosheth was not invited because he was the grandson of King Saul. He was invited because he was the son of Jonathan, David's friend. To David, friendship meant more than royalty. Jonathan had never worn a crown, but it was because of Jonathan that Mephibosheth was at the king's table.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The golden relationship rule Matthew 7:12
Its a simple statement,
Matt 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Many religions of the world state a version of the Golden Rule.
Brahmanism: "Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you".
Buddhism: "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful."
Hinduism: "One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself"
Here again, we find that our Lord employed a form of statement quite similar to some sayings then already in existence* Confucius said (Legge's "Chinese Classics," vol. 1), Do not unto others that which you would not they should do unto you."
Socrates said, 'What you are angry at when inflicted on you by others, this do not do to others."
A Greek biographer of Aristotle relates that, being asked how we should behave towards our friends, he answered, " As we should wish them to behave toward us."
The apocryphal book of Tobit 15 has ""What thou hatest, do to no one."
Of the great Rabbi Hillel, who was probably still living at the birth of Christ, the Talmud relates, as showing that he was kind, and not irritable and headlong like Shammai. There is a story of a certain Gentile, who came to Shammai and said, “Make a proselyte of me on this condition, that you teach me the whole law while I stand on one foot! He drove him away with a long staff which he held in his hand. The man came to Hillel, and he made a proselyte of him, saying, "What is hateful to thee, do not do to another. This is the whole law; the rest is explanation of it.' "
Seneca who died A. D. 66, says that the best way to confer a benefit is "to give as we should wish to receive." It will be observed that the sayings of Confucius, lacerates, and the three Jewish teachers are merely negative; that of Seneca is confined to giving, and that of Aristotle to the treatment of friends. Our Lord makes it a rule for positive action, and towards all men; and declares, as Hillel had done, that it is a summary of the entire Scriptures. It is a part of his wisdom that he frequently adopts modes of thought and expressions already well known among men, or which had occurred to some thoughtful mind; while in many cases, as here, he gives them a new or a wider application.
Jesus takes the positive . . . "do" It is easier to not harm someone than to take the positive and do something good toward them. Jesus in few words shows us how our lives are to patterned after God.
And its primarily about relationships. Hey, so is the whole of the sermon on the mount. The whole sermon is about your relationship with the Lord, with you, and with others.
"Cash, check or charge?" the clerk asked. As the woman fumbled for her wallet, the clerk noticed a television remote control in her purse. "Do you always carry your TV remote?" "No, my husband refused to come to the store with me, so I figured this was the most evil legal thing I could do to him." Speaking for all men everywhere, I can tell her that she's right
It's a summary statement.
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Therefore Our verse starts with the word "therefore" and when you see a "therefore" in Scripture you should ask what is it there for!
5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. It’s a summary of the law and the prophets You can take Genesis to Malachi and summarize it in one sentence. "Do unto others that which you would have them do unto you.
It’s a summary of the sermon on the mount. Jesus is summarizing His sermon.
It’s Similar to the Great Commandment
Mark 12:28-31 HCSB One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" (29) "This is the most important," Jesus answered: Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, The Lord is One. (30) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. (31) "The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater
"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Gal.5:14).
"If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well" (Jas.2:8).
"Let love be without dissimulation [hypocrisy]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good" (Ro.12:9).
"Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (Ro.13:10).
"We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification" (Ro.15:1-2).
Victor Hugo in Les Miserables, said “Life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced that we are loved!”
We want to be loved. We want to be loved. I don't know of anybody that wants to be hated. We want to be loved. We want people to love us. Now you may think you don't, and you may say you don't, but deep down inside when you get alone with nobody but yourself, I think you have to admit, "I wish people loved me." We want to be loved. Secondly, we want to be accepted. We don't want to be outcasts. We don't want to be rejects. We want people to accept us. Now the tragedy is, a lot of times people will do a lot of strange things in order to be accepted. We want to be respected. William James said, "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated."
It's a Strong Statement
Matt 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
"Do ye," is a present imperative verb. It is a continuous action and it is a command of God. Do it, He says. The first Nike commercial in the history of the world, "Just do it." Do it.
1. You Must Show Respect
When God created mankind, He established the law of "reciprocity," which gave man the ability to reap in accordance to what he would sow. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). This principle of sowing and reaping is both a natural and spiritual law. Its application is universal, whether we’re talking about agriculture, work ethics, our health, our relationship with God, our marriage, or our relationships with each other. The kind of seed sown will determine the kind of harvest yielded. In effect, man’s end-product is determined by what he chooses to sow.
When we consider relationships with people, we discover that they are especially affected by what we sow. Human beings tend to be reactionary creatures; generally we reflect the treatment we receive from others. Our behaviour toward people tends to be the catalyst -- the motivation for how they relate to us. Consequently, treating others with courtesy usually causes them to be courteous to us. Patience and kindness promotes patience and kindness, etc. Ask yourself how you wish to be treated? Would you like to be shown encouragement? Do you want your shortcomings to be treated with tolerance and forgiveness? Do you desire to be shown love and acceptance? Then treat others with the same attitude and consideration that you wish to be shown.
Sociologists say that "friendliness and confidence" are the greatest factors in initiating friendships. The Bible teaches, if you want friends, you must first sow your friendliness into others, and they will respond with friendship. "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly..." (Proverbs 18:24). Be friendly, but don’t over impose yourself upon people. Remember, what we sow is what we reap. If we sow rudeness and inconsiderate behavior, we will likewise reap the results. "Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee" (Proverbs 25:17).
2. You Must Seek To Reconcile (5:21-26)
The rabbis said, "Do not murder, for anyone who murders will be subject to judgment" (v. 21).
Jesus goes much further: "anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment" (v. 22a). "Anger" here is not thumos, the inevitable human reaction to hurt or harm. Rather, his word is orge--the deliberate choice to continue holding onto your anger, the absolute unwillingness to pardon and move on. "Raca" was an Aramaic term of contempt, a public insult.
"Fool" was the worst insult of the day, meaning a person of no value or character whatsoever.
Now, you are at the altar in the Temple, sacrifice in hand. In our context, you're just about to put money in the offering plate. In my setting, I'm walking up to the pulpit to begin the sermon. And then I remember that someone has something like this against me. Right or wrong, he thinks I have held onto anger, or insulted or harmed him. If anybody has anything against you today, you qualify.
What do we do? Seek reconciliation. Take the initiative. Do it now, before matters get to the judge and the officer and the jail. It will never be any easier than it is today. Take the high road. Take the first step. Make the phone call. Ask for lunch. Write the note. Do it now.
A wise old saint says, "I will never allow another person to ruin my life by making me hate him." With whom do you need to take the initiative this week? Where do you need to seek reconciliation?
When a person is at peace with God, his demeanor is content, joyful and peaceful, not contentious or angry. His nature lends toward peace rather than turmoil. Thus, the sower of a gentle, peaceful attitude tends to defuse hostility and anger. The Bible says, "When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Proverbs 16:7).
Words are some of the most potent seeds that we can sow. If we sow gentle, peaceful words it will tend to disarm conflict, rather than to provoke trouble. "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger" (Proverbs 15:1)
"By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone" (Proverbs 25:15). "The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself" (Ecclesiastes 10:12).
3. You Must Refuse Retribution. (5:38-42)
Jesus continues: "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth'" (v. 38). This is the oldest law in the world, known as the Lex Talionis. It appears in the Code of Hammurabi, dated to 2285 B.C. It is in the Old Testament as well: "If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe" (Exodus 21:23-25).
Before this law, if I wrecked your car you could destroy my house. If I injured your child, you could kill all my children. The original purpose of the law was thus to limit vengeance. Only the one who caused the injury could be punished, not his entire family or tribe. And only to the degree that he has injured another, protecting him from a more powerful enemy. This law did not promote retribution--it limited it.
Now Jesus takes the principle further: "Do not resist an evil person" (v. 39b). Even though you have the right, don't insist upon them. He gives us four examples of his principle at work.
Your honor: "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (v. 39c). "Strikes" in the original means to "slap." The right hand was the only one used in public. To slap your right cheek with my right hand was an insult, not a threat to life and limb. Jesus says, Don't slap back. Someone insults you--don't insult them.
Your possessions: "If someone wants to use you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well" (v. 40). Your "tunic" was your undershirt with sleeves; it could be taken in a lawsuit. Your "cloak" could not, for it protected you from the elements. But give it anyway. Don't insist on your rights.
Your time: "If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles" (v. 41). Jesus refers to the power of a Roman soldier to make a Jew carry his military pack for one mile. Carry it two miles. Sacrifice the time, though you don't have to. Do it anyway.
Your money: "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you" (v. 42). As Augustine reminds us, we are not told to give everything we are asked for, but to give to every person who asks. Even though it is your right not to.
Refuse retribution. Stop the cycle of vengeance. Don't repeat the gossip or slander. Refuse to return insult for insult, pain for pain. It has been noted that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is a rapid way to a sightless, toothless world. Two brothers were fighting; when their mother stopped them, the oldest complained, "But he hit me back!" Don't hit back. Stop the cycle of vengeance.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was martyred while practicing these words, said about them, "The Christian must treat his enemy as a brother, and requite his hostility with love. His behavior must be determined not by the way others treat him, but by the treatment he himself receives from Jesus" (The Cost of Discipleship 164).
The whole Bible is summed up in the Golden Rule. Love is the fulfillment of the Law. If you love people as you love yourself you will not murder them, or steal from them, or disrespect them, or lie about them in court or sleep with their wives or covet their goods. You do not need Ten Commandments or 613 regulations from Moses. Instead you need just one - the Golden Rule. If you believe in Jesus and live by this commandment you will be doing all that God ever wants and God will bless you and will answer your prayers.
How are you going at showing practical love to your friends and family and coworkers and church members!
John Wesley took as his motto: “do all the good you can, everyway you can, to all the people you can. Lord make me a blessing to others.
The Golden Rule asks us to be a blessing, an active practical real blessing to the people in our lives, doing to them the exact same things we would like done for ourselves. The Golden Rule invites us to become part of a community of mutual blessing where we do good to others and they in turn do good to us. God is watching us, and listening to us, and observing our attitudes and actions. When He sees us living by the Golden Rule then He blesses us, answers our prayers and opens the windows of Heaven for us. Remember God treats us the exact same way that we treat others, so if we are good to other people, then God will be good to us and - even more so because He has more power to bless than we can ever imagine!
God is preparing us to be part of an eternal community of love and blessing in Heaven. He is making us into people who can give and receive love in large quantities. Love is the true measure of the Christian. How wide and deep and high and long is your love for God and your love for people? Do you treat other people as you would like to be treated or are you impatient, judgmental and critical? The time has come to think about your Christian life and to answer one question:
Is the love of Jesus Christ evident in my lifestyle as I love my neighbor as myself and live by the Golden Rule?
The Golden Rule is not a plan of salvation. If you were to ask some folks, "Are you a Christian?" "Are you saved?" "Do you know you're going to heaven when you die?" And their response will be, "Well, you know, I try to live by the Golden Rule." First of all, they can't do it. And secondly, even if they could, that's not enough. Jesus Christ died on the cross for man's sin, and He is the only Savior of the world, and you cannot be good enough or kind enough of loving enough or accepting enough or respected enough to wash away the sin of your own life. You need Jesus as your Saviour, and then you need to live your life in relationship with other people. Life is about relationships! Its about a relationship with the Lord first, and then with others.
You need to get your relationship with the Lord right first, then you can work on your relationships with other people.
Will you do that right now?
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Prayer Is ASKing Matthew 7
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
When I was studying in theological college I had a habit that was a little unusual. Monday’s was “duties day” when all were expected to do some elements of cleaning or painting around the college. I used to work as a teacher Mondays to pay the bills, and then pick up duties Tuesday afternoons. I used to mow lawns on the ride on lawn mower, until I rolled it, twice.
Then they gave me the job of painting the carports, while the cars were in them. They should have learnt faster that I was not real good with these sort ofthings.
I returned to college one Tuesday morning and a student friend said “Steve, you should have been here yesterday.” I laughed and said “Why. What happened?” He said very sternly “No! You should have been here! Someone flew up from Canberra in a black suit and black sunglasses. A Government type. He wanted to see you! What’s it about?”
I gulped! Some one from the government wanted to see me?
Over the next two weeks each day either a lecturer or a student would ask me what it was about. Every day I grew more nervous. One day I answered the phone in the men’s block.
“Hello yes this is Steve Grose”
“I flew up from Canberra to see you. Where were you? “
“I was teaching. What did you want to see me about?”
“You received a cheque seven eyars ago that you have not yet cashed ! Do you know where it is?”
“Yes its in my wallet, but its pretty faded!”
“You must cash that cheque today!”
“But I don’t have time to cash it today!”
“Haven’t you received the letters we sent to you every three months demanding that you cash that cheque?”
“Well yes, but .. look, if you make the cheque out for more I’ll cash it today, but it will take me a half hour to walk to the bank to cash it right now, and I don’t think its worth it.”
“You must cash that cheque today!”
“Can I send you some stamps for the amount? Maybe you can take me off your mailing list”
“You have caused our accounting systems to crash every year over that unpresented cheque!”
“Really? A Cheque for seven cents can do that much damage to the Australian economy?”
I had kept a cheque for 7 cents for years because it was for such a ludicrously small amount, and I almost brought our economy to ruin! So much so that the Dept of Education in Canberra had sent a government agent to track me down and MAKE me present that cheque!”
Now isn’t that ludicrous! But hold on: you have unpresented cheques you have never cashed. And the greatest of these is the promise of answered prayer!
1. You Have A Promise to Claim
The Lord promises that if we will ask, seek, and knock, it shall be given to us. There is no substitute for prayer. You can't substitute eloquence, intellect, energy, intention or enthusiasm for prayer. Nothing can take the place of direct communication with God. Prayer is the greatest untapped resource in the universe. What fools we are to neglect it! Many Christians are powerless and in poverty because of their lack of prayer. I don't have a failure in my life but that it is a failure to pray. I don't have a sin but that prayer would have avoided it. I don't have a need that cannot be met through prayer. Christ promises power through prayer, and we ought not neglect it. Have you ever wondered why God wants us to pray?
After all He already knows our needs. Why ask God to do something He already wants to do? The reason is that prayer is an invitation. We don't inform God through our prayers, for He already knows. We don't instruct God through prayer, for He already has a will. But we invite God through our prayers, obediently surrendering ourselves to Him.
God wants us to pray because of the fellowship factor.
Janis Joplin lyrics : Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends, So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV ? Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until three, So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV ?
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town ? I’m counting on you, Lord, please don’t let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round, Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town ?
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends,
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends, So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
The name it and claim it, prosperity gospel is not in Jesus’ mind.
God doesn't want just to give us things; He wants us to have fellowship with Him. John 15:4 says that He wants us to abide in Him. Prayer is the way to abide in God and allow Him to abide in you. You can't succeed in this life without the Lord. The Lord can succeed without you, but He chooses not to because He desires your fellowship. When you pray and God answers, you become a laborer together with Him. That's the fellowship factor. He works through you to accomplish His will.
God wants us to pray because of the development factor.
Nothing will help your spiritual life grow more than praying. The reason the Lord doesn't answer your prayers immediately is that He wants you to grow some more. Imagine a dirty, unkempt man asking a refined young lady for a date. She turns him down flat, but when he comes back the next week showered and shaved, his hair combed and teeth brushed, wearing a clean suit, she accepts. Sometimes we'll make a request of the Lord, but there is something He wants to have happen in our lives first. You can ask the Lord for something, and He won't answer because there is sin in your life. Until you deal with the sin, He won't deal with your prayer. Prayer is a means of developing your spiritual walk.
God wants us to pray because of the dependency factor.
We have to learn to rely on God's power. "Without me ye can do nothing," Jesus tells us in John 15:5. If He were to answer our prayers automatically, we would experience no growth. And if we never had to pray, there would be no dependency. Prayer is God's way of bonding us to Himself. So Jesus said to ask, seek, and knock, and offered us a wonderful promise to claim.
2. You Have A Process to Follow Asking, seeking, and knocking form a process.
Each is a bit more intensive than the previous word. If you ask, you will receive. If you seek, you will find. If you knock, it shall be opened to you. That's the process Christ wants us to use. They are all present
imperatives, meaning, “Go on asking, go on seeking, go on knocking, and don’t quit.” God doesn’t answer perfunctory prayers. He’s not a perfunctory person. He will not be drawn into something so far below his glory that it simply can’t connect with why he made us and what he’s doing in the world today.
When you ask, you simply express your desire. If there is something you want God to do, ask Him for it. I think the greatest problem in the spiritual life of most folks is not unanswered prayer, but unasked prayer. Many never get to the asking part. James tells us that we have not because we ask not. Samuel once said, "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you" (1 Samuel 12:23). Over and over the Bible invites us to pray and ask God. Jesus said that men "ought always to pray" (Luke 18:1). "Watch ye and pray," we are told in Mark 14:38, "lest ye enter into temptation." Every time you sin, it's because you fail to pray as you ought. If you are full of cares and worries right now, it's because you have not truly learned to pray. That's why in Philippians 4:6 the apostle Paul instructs us "in every thing by prayer and supplication" to ask God for the things we need. A good test for the appropriateness of something you desire is if you feel comfort- able asking God for it. We are to pray about everything. Don't divide your life into the sacred and the secular, praying about some things and neglecting the others. Jesus didn't live that way. To the Christian, all things are sacred. Every day is a holy day, every activity a sacred act. Pray about everything. Some people seem to think we should only pray about the big things, but nothing is too small to escape God's attention.
The Lord is Lord over all, both big and small. He knows your needs, whether it be a huge business deal or finding a parking space. Pray about everything. You can even pray about wrong things, since He already knows you want it. Admit to Him that you want it, and ask Him to change your desires.
John 16:24 says: Until now you have asked for nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be complete
Sometimes we seek the wrong thing. The facts may be lost or unknown to us, so we have to ask first, then seek. It is the will of God that we seek Him. James warned of asking for the wrong thing, and that happens because the individual has not sought the will of God. Sometimes we need to say, "Lord, is this Your will? I'm seeking Your will." We need to seek the presence of God when we pray. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Don't allow all of your prayers to be the little rote prayers at mealtime or bedtime. Pray with intention to know how God wants you to pray on a matter.
1 John 5:14, "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."
Now this is the confidence we have before Him: whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.
During the American Civil War, the War Between the States, confederate General Robert E. Lee went into a church and knelt to pray. When he left the church, someone asked him if he had prayed for the South to win the war. The general looked at him and said, "No, I wasn’t praying for us to win. I was praying that God’s will would be done." Now that’s the way to pray!
To knock means that we will not stop until we know that we have what we've asked of God. "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you." In Luke chapter eleven, Jesus told the story of a man who had a friend arrive in the middle of the night. Needing food, he went and knocked at the baker's door, hammering away persistently until he got the loaves he required. Now, in Bible times it was unthinkable to refuse a friend the food and lodging he needed. Hospitality is of the utmost importance in the Middle East, and if you went to someone's house in the middle of the night, you woke up the whole family. They usually slept upstairs, so they would have to wake everyone up, wander downstairs, disturb the animals who slept below, open the barriers, and throw open the door. The person who would do that is certainly persistent, and that's how we are to pray about things. Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. Don't give up; keep on praying. God wants us to persist.
Luke 11: 5He also said to them: “Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don’t have anything to offer him.’ 7 Then he will answer from inside and say, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 9 “So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
Throughout the Gospels you find Jesus teaching prayer and persistence. Paul prayed three times for the thorn in his flesh to be removed. Christ prayed several times in the Garden of Gethsemane that the bitter cup would be taken from Him. The Syro-Phonecian woman, who had a daughter that was demon possessed, came asking Jesus to help. Jesus said it was not fitting to do so, but that woman plead- ed with Him. She admitted that she came from an evil people but reminded Christ that even the mangy dogs occasionally catch a crumb from the king's plate. Jesus, admiring her faith, gave the woman what she asked. Had she not kept knocking, her daughter would not have been healed.
The prophet Elijah knew about persistence in prayer. He prayed for rain, and none came. So he prayed some more, and he kept on praying until the rain came. In faith, Elijah kept sending a servant to check on the rain clouds, though the land had not had rain in seven years. But Elijah pressed his hand against heaven, because he had learned the value of knocking.
"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).
Jesus said to ask, seek, and knock. So when do we stop asking? When do we know it is time to stop knocking? Well, of course you can stop when you get what you asked for. Sometimes God directly answers prayer requests, and we need to rejoice, thank Him, and stop asking. But other times God's answers are different from what we expect. Some answers are delayed, and some requests are denied.
There have been times I have asked God for something very clear and plain, and He has provided for me in a way that cannot be explained apart from divine intervention. He absolutely offered a miraculous answer, so I thanked Him and moved on. But sometimes I will pray and the answer God gives me is, "You already have it." He answered my prayer in another way, and I was not even aware of the answer. That's when I can stop praying. Of course, there are also times God says, "No," and I might as well thank Him and just stop asking because He's given me His answer.
3. You Have A Provision to Enjoy
In Luke 11 there is a similar passage. I think the Lord Jesus went over the really important stuff with His disciples a few times in different ways, to make the message stick. 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
“How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (verse 13). God loves it when we ask him for the Holy Spirit. It’s okay to pray for little things, like a place to park. But God has more for us than that. He gives his best gift, his very lifeblood, the Holy Spirit, to those who ask him. How dignifying. We’re no longer consumed with what we’re going to eat and drink and our bodily health and what we’re going to wear. Life is more (Matthew 6:25). God dignifies us with deeper desires. He arouses in our hearts a yearning for the Holy Spirit. The best prayer to God is a prayer for God. The Bible gets us focused on him: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land, where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25). Now there’s an agenda for prayer – the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the conquest of sin and unbelief and self-righteousness and lukewarmness, more enjoyment of the Bible, more tenderness toward God, more love for others, the cleansing of our hearts from anger and envy and payback, more gentleness, more wisdom and knowledge, more power, more clarity, more real church growth, more of God. What would be the greatest answer to prayer that you could receive? What would be the greatest blessing you could ever have? Would it not be to have the nearness of the Lord Himself in each days activities?
In Matthew chapter seven, the Lord tells us why He answers prayer. It's because He loves us. What loving father, when his hungry son comes to ask for bread, offers the boy a stone? I mean, be reasonable! Even an unsaved father won't act in an evil way toward his own son, so why would our heavenly Father do so? Your prayers will be answered because God is good. He loves you and delights in answering your prayers.
Not only is He good, but God is wise. He won't give you the wrong thing, for the Lord knows exactly what you need. He is good, He is wise, and He is able. He can do anything, and that means He has the power to answer my prayers. We are fools not to pray. The best thing we can do is take our needs and desires to the Almighty God who loves us and allow Him to deal with our requests.
“God must not be thought of as a reluctant stranger who can be cajoled or bullied into bestowing his gifts, as a malicious tyrant who takes vicious glee in the tricks he plays, or even as an indulgent grandfather who provides everything requested of him. He is the heavenly Father, the God of the kingdom, who graciously and willingly bestows the good gifts of the kingdom in answer to prayer.”
Have you ever seen where the coal that is offloaded at our harbour goes. Much of it becomes electricity.
Long trains dump carload after carload of coal at the power plant's storage area. Bulldozers pushed it into mountains, and then funnelled it onto long conveyor belts. From there stamping mills ground it as fine as flour and injected the coal dust into huge furnaces. These furnaces are loud and hot. Their intense heat drove steam through turbines which spun at 3,600 revolutions per minute. The turbines were housed in concrete-and-steel casings 100 feet long, 10 feet tall, and 10 feet across. They generated enough electricity for the whole city of 300,000. A visitor to a power plant once asked the chief engineer, "Where do you store the electricity?" "We don't store it," the engineer replied "We just make it." When a light switch is flipped on one hundred miles, it literally places a demand on the system. That small need registers at the generating plant and prompts greater output. In the same way, God's grace and power cannot be stored. Though inexhaustible, they come in the measure required, at the moment of need. But only if you're plugged into the system.
The Greatest Power In This World Is God's People On their knees!
In the Bible, we see where prayer changes the world's values. Egypt was the greatest nation on the Earth.. But they couldn't hold their slaves. Why? Because God heard the "cries of His people.." (Ex. 3:7)
Haman had power. He was the King's right hand.. He wanted to destroy Israel.. But Esther knew the power of prayer.. R.A. Torrey said, "When the Church learns the power of prayer.. They will shake the world."
R. A. Torrey once wrote ten reasons that we should pray like Paul exhorts us to pray. We should pray in this way because:
there is a devil and prayer is the God appointed means of resisting him;
prayer is God's way for us to obtain what we need from him;
the apostles considered prayer to be the priority business in their lives;
prayer occupied a prominent place and played a very important part in the earthly life of our Lord;
prayer is the present ministry of our Lord, since He is now interceding for us;
prayer is the means God has appointed for our receiving mercy from Him and help in time of need;
prayer is the means of obtaining the fullness of God's joy;
prayer with thanksgiving is the means of obtaining freedom from anxiety and peace which passes understanding;
prayer is the means by which we are to keep watchful and be alert;
prayer is used by God to promote our spiritual growth, bring power into our work, lead others to faith in Christ, and bring all other blessings to Christ's church.
After reading a list like this, the question is not, "Should we pray?" but, "How can we afford not to?"!
I wonder if Reuben Torrey was especially passionate about prayer because of his own story. He never forgot that one night as an unbelieving student at Yale, overwhelmed with grief and guilt over his sinful lifestyle, he decided to take his own life. That night, in 1875, he stumbled to the wash basin in his dormitory room, looking for his razor to cut his wrists, in such guilt over his rebellious life, having rejected the gospel of his mother and father. He could not find his razor and suddenly became overwhelmed with conviction to pray. Unknown to him, his mother, at that very hour, was inwardly compelled to get on her knees and begin praying for the salvation of her son... miles away. At the same hour, Reuben knelt by his bed and gave his life to Jesus Christ.
R. A. Torrey went on to become the president of Moody Bible Institute, and later, Dean of Biola in Los Angeles. He would remain passionate about prayer his entire life.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
“The Supremacy of Jesus” Colossians 1:15-20Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Seems to me, that everybody on this planet has either one or another problems with Jesus Christ. Some people doubt His supremacy. Others doubt His sufficiency. Those who doubt the supremacy of Christ are normally non-Christians. They may be atheistic. They may be religious. They may be members of another religion or than Christianity, but they doubt what Paul claims here about the supremacy of Christ. They may honor Christ as a great moral teacher or as a prophet, but they do not believe that He is the Lord over all as the Apostle Paul is going to argue today. Others, perhaps within the Church, within the Christian fold, may acknowledge Christ's supremacy with their tongues, they may give assent to the idea that He is supreme, but they have questions as to whether He is sufficient. They continue to try and supplement Christ in their Christian experience. They start with Christ, but they move on to other things. Sometimes they move to their own works, and they think that they can begin with Christ and yet if they are going to stay in fellowship with God, they must supplement it by meriting God's favor, by earning His favor in their obedience. Other times they think that there is some deeper spiritual principle. Sometimes they actually mix Christianity with other types of belief. They mix it with something as seemingly crazy as astrology, or something more profound like some other form of religion, whether it may be a New Age teaching or they mix Christ with some secular teaching which is on the market. But there are many Christians who doubt the sufficiency of Christ. They believe in Christ, they profess His name, and yet in their experience, and even in their belief, they think that in order to have fullness of life, they need to supplement what they have in Christ in something else. Paul is speaking precisely to those conditions today.
An army private on guard duty for the first time. He had orders not to admit anyone onto the base if they didn’t have a special windshield sticker. Around midnight an unmarked car approached the guard shack and the private stopped them. Inside was a four star general and his driver. When the sentry advised them they could not enter because they didn’t have the proper sticker, the general became angry and told the driver, “Don’t worry about it, just drive right on through.” When the private heard this he leaned through the window with his hand on his sidearm and said, “Excuse me sir, I’m new at this. Could you please tell me who I shoot first: You or the driver?” The sentry had conflicting instructions. In the same way, you have to decide which authority you’re going to listen to as you answer for yourself, “Who is Jesus Christ?” And the way you answer that question will determine the direction of your eternal destiny. “It would require much exotic calculation to deny that the single most powerful figure, not merely in these two millennia, but in all human history, has been Jesus of Nazareth. Not only is the prevalent system of denoting the years based on the date of his birth, but a serious argument can be made that no one else’s life has proved remotely as powerful and enduring as that of Jesus.” (Time Magazine, Dec. 6, 1999)
Christ is sufficient, Paul says, because He is supreme. He assumes that these Colossians, unlike the non-Christians that I spoke of a few moments ago, he assumes that these Colossians accept Christ's supremacy, that He is lord, that he knows that in their baptismal profession, they made a profession that Jesus is Lord. So he knows that they won't deny that He is Lord, but he wonders if they'll understand the implication of Christ being Lord, and Paul says the implication of Christ being Supreme, the implication of Christ being Lord, is that He Is sufficient. He's sufficient for everything that you need for salvation. You don't need to look anywhere else, because He is supreme. Notice that connection between the supremacy and the sufficiency of Christ.
Notice the connection between Christ as Creator and Christ as Redeemer. If we were to lay out this passage side by side and put verses 15, 16, and 17 in one column, and then verses 18, 19, and 20 in another column, we would see a beautiful parallel. In each of those passages, we would see Paul repeat 4 phrases. In verse 15 and in verse 18, he uses the phrase "who is" to open that section. In verses 15 and 18, he speaks of Christ as the first-born. In verse 15, he calls Christ the first-born of creation. In verse 18, he calls him the first-born of the dead. In verses 16 and 19, he speaks of the phrase "for in Him" in Christ, and in verses 16 through 20, he uses the phrase "in the heavens and on the earth." In each of those phrases, he parallels Christ's lordship in creation with Christ's lordship in redemption. And he sees those as going together, being inseparably connected. Christ's lordship in creation enables Him to be a Redeemer who can redeem us from any force, for if He created creation, and if He is the Lord Of creation, what is there in creation that He is not capable of redeeming us from, or of exercising dominion over? So Paul says Christ is both Creator and Redeemer.
1. JESUS IS THE CHURCH-OWNER
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
“When it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.” Colossians 1:18
Christ is the head of the Church, He is the authority. He is the only head. He is the only Lord of the Church. My friends, that is the charter of freedom for you as a Christian, that you know that no human being can make up for you rules or teaching in the sphere of your Christian faith which have not been ordained by your Lord. You are free to be who your Lord intends you to be, and no man, however spiritual, may add to the commands of the Lord for what you are to be. That is your charter of freedom. So many people feel like they're bound, and they're groaning under the load of having to obey the Bible. Oh, that's so untrue, my friends. The Bible frees you from the foolish and capricious commands of men, for who has the authority to tell another man's servant how to serve. Who has the authority to tell Christ's servants, yea, his brothers and sisters, how they are to live and serve? The answer is, no one. He is the Lord over the Church, and when anyone claims to be the head of the Church, other than Christ, they are committing blasphemy against Christ. Whether that person be a leader of a great church and denomination, or whether that person be a person in a local church setting who is claiming to add commandments for the behaving of the Christian life, that Christ himself has not inaugurated and initiated. We are set free from the commandments of men, because Christ is the Lord in His Church. He is also the head of His Church in the sense that he is the source of all spiritual life in the body. Paul says He is the source, He's the head, He's the fountainhead of all spiritual life in the body. If you have life today as a believer, it's because you are united to Christ by faith. If you have life today, it is evidence that the work of the head of the body of Christ is at work in you.
2. JESUS IS THE DEATH-BEATER
Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Woody Allen once quipped "Death dopesn't scare me, I just don't want to be there at the time."
Plato said "Oh that there were some sure certain word that would launch our hopes across this vast sea of death!"
There is a sure and certain word. that word is "Jesus!"
Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter, and the son of the Widow of Nain. And Lazarus was restored to life after being dead for four days. But none of those individuals were resurrected; they were simply resuscitated. They eventually died. But Jesus came forth from the grave and is alive forevermore. This world is littered with the graves of millions of people. You can travel to Medina and see the tomb of Mohammed. You can go to Sri Lanka and visit the Temple of the Tooth, where a tooth from the corpse of Buddha is enshrined. The pyramids in Egypt and the Taj Mahal in India are all just fancy tombs. I’ve stood in wonder as I gazed at the elaborate tombs of the Ming Emperors in China; each tomb taking up more than 100 acres. But when you visit a garden outside of Jerusalem–all you find is an empty tomb. Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb, because He knew He wouldn’t need it long! Years ago in Russia, when Nikita Khrushchev died, they were looking for a place to bury him. By this time he was persona non grata in Russia. Khrushchev’s family even made a request of Golda Meier, the first prime minister of Israel. Her reply was priceless, “Yes, you may bury Mr. Khrushchev in Israel, but I must warn you that Israel has the highest resurrection rate of any nation on earth!” Before His death, Jesus claimed He would be resurrected from the dead. He pointed to His body and said, “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will build it back again.” (John 2:19) WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BODY OF JESUS? Where is the corpus delecti? For those who don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead, the theories fall into two categories: (1) The stolen body theory; and (2) the swoon theory. “Our preacher said that on Easter Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think?” McGee replied, “Dear Sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for three days. Then you see what happens.”
The Lord Jesus Christ IS risen from the dead! Becasue He is risen, He gives you and I the prmosie of resurrection. He is our hope as we cross this vast sea of death!
He guarantees our resurrection! If you know this, then nothing can scare you in life, or in death!
3. JESUS IS THE FULNESS OF GOD
Colossians 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
He knows that these Colossians believe in the supremacy of Christ, at least in theory, but they haven't understood its implications, and he turns to the implications of it in verses 19 and 20. So what, Christ is Lord? So what? Here's Paul's answer to that question: verse 19, for “it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him. It was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him.” Paul is arguing that because Christ is supreme, in creation and in redemption, therefore, He is sufficient, His person is sufficient. The person of Christ is sufficient for our redemption, and he uses this glorious, this mysterious phrase, "it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him." Now, how do we interpret that? That's a hard passage to interpret. First of all, "the fullness" is a word that the false teachers in Colossae liked to use. They liked to talk about this fullness that believers could attain if they would go through the mystic rituals. Isn't it interesting that the Apostle Paul fires back by saying, ‘no, Christ is the fullness. You don't look somewhere else other than Christ for the fullness. You look in Christ for the fullness.’
Col2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
There, the word "fullness" is stressing that in Christ is a fullness of divinity. He is fully divine. Now that may well be what Paul is driving at here in verse 19, but let me suggest something slightly different. Because in verse 19 it says, "it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in him," and because it says it was the Father's good pleasure, or the Father's will for this fullness to dwell in Him, I'm not sure that Paul is talking about the deity of Christ. Paul's already asserted that. There's no question that Paul is teaching the deity of Christ here, but Christ is divine not because the Father wills it, but because in His essence He is divine. The Father doesn't will the Son to be divine. The Son is divine. So what is it that the Father is willing, what is His good pleasure? What kind of fullness is this that it's the Father's will for Christ to have?
Paul is talking about the honor and the glory and the reward which is due to Christ alone because He has fulfilled all the responsibilities of His office as our Savior, as our Mediator, the Mediator of the Covenant of Grace. Paul is speaking of that fullness which God has been pleased to give to His Son, because He is pleased beyond measure with the perfection of our Saviour's obedience and sacrifice. That fullness is all found in Him. That fullness belongs to Him alone. In the words of Philippians 2, He is given "that name which is above every name” because He humbled Himself and because He took on the form of a servant, and because He died the death on the cross. And because He was raised again, He was exalted to that name above every name.
He has fulfilled everything He told the Father He would do on our behalf.
We are told that in Him we are more than conquerors. We are hyper-conquerors. And the Apostle Paul is saying, ‘You want the fullness?’ You've got the fullness in Christ. Don't look somewhere else. If you are in Christ, you will reign with Him in glory.
A chorus says it all,
He's all I need , He's all I need, Jesus is all I need.
If He is all youy need the the next kine fi that chorus should be your prayer:
I take Him Now I take Him Now I take Him for all that I need.
C.S. Lewis, summarized the issue in this way: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Mere Christianity, p. 30)
4. JESUS IS THE LIFE-FIXER
Colossians 1: 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Several years ago Woody Allen was interviewed by a French television station. In the hour-long interview, one of the reporters asked him a most unusual question, “Do you believe in God?” Allen responded, “No, I am an atheist” (one who does not believe in God). But, Allen went on to say, “In my better moments I am an agnostic” (one who admits there may be a God but if there is he does not know him). Then the reporter asked him an even more unusual question, “If there were a God and he could say one thing to you, what would you like to hear him say?” And Woody Allen responded, “You are forgiven.” Only God knows how many people there are in the world today who would love to hear those words, “You are forgiven.” They have sinned, they have done wrong, they have made mistakes, they have regrets, they wish they could change the past. If they could only hear the words, “You are forgiven,” life could be vastly different for them. If you are one of those people, I have good news for you. Christ can and will forgive your sins if you come to him. Once while dining at the home of a Pharisee named
Simon, Jesus was approached by a woman of the street, a prostitute, a hooker who fell at his feet in humility and tears.
Jesus’ host was incensed. If Jesus were really the Messiah, he would know this woman was a sinner and would have rebuked her. While Simon sat in judgment, condemning her for her past and unwilling to forgive her for what she had done, Jesus said, “... I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven” (Luke 7:47). Note Jesus’ two statements about this woman’s sins sit side by side: “are many, are forgiven.” And that’s what he will say to you if you will call on him. The difference among men is not that some are sinners and others are not. The difference is in where they take their sins. Peter and Judas both failed the Lord miserably. Judas betrayed him and Peter denied him. They both were filled with guilt and remorse over what they had done. But Judas took his guilt to people who knew nothing of God’s grace: the scribes and Pharisees. They said, “You made your choice — live with it.” He couldn’t, and took his own life.
Peter took his sins and failures to Jesus. And Jesus did not throw them back on him. Jesus forgave him and restored him. And Peter went on to become one of the great pillars of the church.
His promise to us is, “... Him that cometh to me I will in no wise [i.e., under no circumstance] cast out” (John 6:37). You can come to him with every assurance of acceptance. He invites you to come just as you are. The scriptures say, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). “... And, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). We sometimes sing,
What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus. O, precious is the flow, That makes me white as snow.
No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Some skeptic may ask, “How can blood wash away sin?” And I answer, “I don’t know.” But I ask you, “How can water quench our thirst?” “I don not know that either. But I know that it does.” And I’m not going to die of thirst trying to figure it out. I’m going to drink and live. Just so, I don’t know how the blood of Jesus cleanses sin, but I know that it does. And I’m going to trust it and be cleansed. In him there is forgiveness and cleansing. That’s the power of the gospel.
Christ is the Reconciler, the only Reconciler. Not only does he stress the supremacy of Christ in creation, not only does he stress the supremacy in the Church, not only does he stress the sufficiency of Christ's person, he stresses the sufficiency of Christ's work. He is the Reconciler. We can never leave out the Cross, because the cross tells us that we were already at enmity with God, and the cross tells us that God provided a way back into fellowship with Him, and there is no way back into fellowship with God apart from that cross.
Last week, we saw the cross at the centre of the universe in Creation. Tonight, you need to realise that the cross is at the centre of your universe personally in redemption. If you are going to experience forgiveness of sins, you must come to Him!
You see, that's what this church is about! Jesus is the head of the church. If you come to Him He will be the death beater for you! You must face death one day!
If you come to Him He will be the fullness of God that you need.
Why don't you come to Him tonight?
Its the sanest, most helpful thing you can do for yourself. Let Him be your Saviour tonight!
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Killing termites that steal our Victory Matthew 7:1-6
“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 6 Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.
The Sermon on the Mount is the greatest sermon ever preached by the greatest preacher that ever lived. Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount is preaching about how His believers, how those that belong to Him, can live in victory.
There are two kinds of Christians. There are those who live and move and walk in victory, and there are those who do not. Partial victory is total defeat. It is the will of God for His children to live in victory. We're not to live under the circumstances. We're to live above them. We're not to live in spite of things. We're to live and move victoriously in Christ Jesus. God wants us to have victory. When you look back over your life this past week, has your life been a testimony of victory in Jesus, or has your life been a testimony of defeat? God wants us to be victorious. There are several termites that would rob us of our victory. We saw one of them last week, and that is worry. You cannot be victorious in Christ if you are a worrier, if you're always upset and worried and troubled, you cannot have victory in Christ because worry is a termite that eats away at victory. And this morning Jesus talks about another of those termites that eats away at our victory, and it is a critical, judgmental spirit. I want to tell you this morning that if you are a critical, judgmental person, I can tell you two things without question. Number one - if you are a critical, judgmental person, you will not walk in victory with Christ. And number two - you will not have very many friends. Jesus said, "Judge not." "Judge not." That's a verb. Judging is something you do or it's something you don't do. This verb is in the imperative mood. Now let me tell you what that means. It means it is an absolute command of our Lord. It is not a request. It is not even a personal request of someone who has rank. It is a direct order of our Commander in Chief. Jesus commands us, "Judge not." It is not only in the imperative mood, it is in the present tense. In the Greek New Testament present tense means continual action. Jesus knew that this matter of having a critical and judgmental spirit was something that we would have to deal with our entire lives.
When Jesus put this verb in the present tense, He did it because He knew that this was something that is so subtle that it can slip up at any time. And so Jesus wants us to be on our guard. He says constantly look out and beware and do not become a critical, judgmental person. Always be on guard.
1. Apply Discerning Criticism
The Lord Jesus immediately followed this verse by saying look out for logs, hogs and dogs. He said we are to be discerning about logs and motes, we are to not give sacred things to dogs and we are to not throw our pearls before swine. If you can discern between issues of logs, hogs and dogs, the lord Jesus is not saying to adopt the complete absolute tolerance that some in our society say we must adopt. We’re not to be saying all religions get to heaven someway or other.
Let me tell you what "judge not" does not mean. First of all, it does not mean that we are to condone or overlook open, obvious sin. When Jesus said, "Judge not," He did not mean that we are to overlook or condone open, obvious sin. What is the responsibility of a church with its members? It is the responsibility of a church to hold standards high for its members, and when those standards are openly and obviously not adhered to, then it is the responsibility of a church to exercise the pattern of church discipline as outlined in the New Testament. You are to go to an individual as an individual, and then you're to go with a small committee; and if that fails, then you bring the person before the congregation.
1 Corinthians 5:1 It is widely reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and the kind of sexual immorality that is not even condoned among the Gentiles—a man is living with his father’s wife. 2 And you are inflated with pride, instead of filled with grief so that he who has committed this act might be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body but present in spirit, I have already decided about him who has done this thing as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, along with my spirit and with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 turn that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.
"I have heard even where I am about something that you are tolerating in your church." He said, "It is reported commonly," everybody is talking about it. Everywhere I go I hear about it. "And you," the church, "are puffed up...." What does that mean? It means they were walking around saying, "You know, we're so broad minded here at Corinth and we certainly don't want to be legalistic, and we don't want to go around condemning people because of their sin. We don't want to judge people, and so our attitude is just to live and let live. If this boy in our church, why, if he wants to sleep with his mother or his stepmother or his mother-in-law, if he wants to do that, then who are we to judge him? Who are we to say that's wrong? Who are we to condemn him? Who are we to bring accusation against him? After all, we're Christians here. We're broad minded and we're certainly not legalistic." It is the responsibility of a New Testament church to hold its members to a principle of accountability, and those who break the laws of God openly and obviously and bring shame upon their family and shame upon the name of Jesus and shame upon the church of God, Paul says the church ought to "mourn." It ought not be puffed up. It ought not be proud of its tolerance.
Secondly, when Jesus said, "Judge not," He did not mean that we should tolerate false doctrine. Go back to Matthew, Chapter 7, again. We'll look at this in a few weeks, but look down in verse 15. Matthew 7, verse 15, Jesus says, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits."
Now I can hear someone saying to the Lord “now Jesus you shouldn’t be so hard on them, we can’t all anyone a false prophet now can we?” But the Lord knew there would be times when we have to make evaluations.
2. Avoid Devastating Criticism
A mother spoke to daughter-in law about dusting furniture, “But there’s no dust on the furniture, the dust is on your glasses!”
What does "judge not" mean? It means we're not to be in the business of finding fault. It means that we don't constantly go around with a microscope in our hand. We're not to walk around with one of those things constantly looking for the faults of people. We're not to be constant criticizers. I know some folks that are critical about everything. They are critical about the way the wife cooks the breakfast. They're critical about the way the secretary types the forms. They're critical about this. They're critical about that. Hyper-critical personalities.
When Jesus says, "Judge not," He said, "Don't constantly be looking to find fault. Don't be a nosey busybody. If something is open and obvious, then deal with it, but don't be a spiritual Sherlock Holmes, always trying to find dirt on somebody. And He says, "Don't always be trying to examine people's motives."
When Jesus said, "Judge not," He said, "Don't always be trying to find something beneath the surface." Beloved, you and I are not nearly as deep as we think we are. Most of us are just pretty shallow superficial surface people, and I accept that.
a. We Criticise Because Of Our Own Iniquity.
This may be a cover up for our own sins by criticising others so as to deflect attention. I knew someone committing adultery who made life hell for others around them by her critical tongue so that no one would bring her to accountability for her adultery!
b. We Criticise Because Of Our Own Insecurity.
Procrestis’ iron bed. He captured people and put them on his iron bed. If they were too short, he stretched them. If they were too tall , he cut their legs off to make them shorter.
Many people cut the legs off others to make them shorter. The reason is, if they can find fault in someone else, then they feel a lot better about their own short comings.
c. We Criticise Because Of Our Own Ignorance.
A lecturer at theological college. And in his class there was a student that kept falling asleep. And the lecturer thought, "Well, I'm gonna....that guy is just lazy. I'm gonna flunk him." But before he did it, he thought, "Well, I'm gonna at least go to the guy's house and talk to him." And he went to the guy's house, the student's house. He knocked on the door. Little wife came and had on her bathrobe and her house slippers. She was just terribly, terribly sick. He said, "Where is so and so?" She said, "Oh, he's doing the laundry." And he went in and there was the student with the washing machine going, the dryer going, and him sitting there with a baby in his arms; and the seminary student was sound asleep. And the lecturer went back up and said, "What's going on?" And she said, "Well, I've been very, very sick, and my husband has been trying to keep up his studies and work an eight hour shift to put food on our table, and while I'm sick he's having to clean the house and do the laundry and take care of the baby." And the lecturer knew that was why he had fallen asleep in class. You see beloved, we don't always see. We have a limited vision. We don't always see well enough to judge somebody else. We don't know what they've been through. We don't know the background from which they come, and we ought not to judge.
d. We Criticise Because Of Our Own Insensitivity.
Being "Jack Blunt" may be helpful sometimes, but it usually hurts other people's feelings. Its Insensitive!
3. Acknowledge Divine Criticism
I am not to judge others because God has reserved the seat of Judgement to Jesus.
"For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." John 5:26
We ought not to do it because that is a responsibility that has been given to Jesus Christ alone. The only person on the face of the earth that God has given the responsibility of judging is Jesus Christ. God didn't give it to me. I don't have a right to judge your motives or question your inner attitude. That's none of my business. Only Jesus Christ has the responsibility to judging others.
I am not to judge others because God will use the same judgment on me that I use on other people.
Now some say, "Well, I don't believe that's what it says." Well if Jesus didn't mean what He said, He ought to have said what He meant. I believe He meant what He said. Look at Matthew 7, verse 2. Jesus said, "For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged." That means God will deal with me just like I deal with others.
Consider Haman and Mordechai.
Consider the king who had toes and thumbs cut off, because that’s what he did to 70 kings before him.
We ought not to judge because we really don't see well enough to judge other people.
"Those of you that have got a telephone pole in your own eye, you ought not be trying to find toothpicks in other people's eyes." That's a joke. They all laughed. But they knew what He meant. What's the most obvious thing if you have a telephone pole in your eye? The most obvious thing is you can't see very well. Try it. Run into one on the way home. If you've got a telephone pole in your eye, you don't see very well. Jesus said, "Listen, we don't see well enough to judge other people."
We ought not judge because judging others is usually an act of hypocrisy. Look what Jesus said in Matthew 7, verse 5. "Thou hypocrite..” a mote and a beam. Same stuff! Wood! Jesus is letting us know most of the time when we criticize others, when we judge others, we're most prone to judge them for things that are problems in our own lives.
Do you remember when Jim Bakker fell from the good graces of his followers? Do you know who the sharpest critic of Jim Bakker was? It wasn't Jerry Falwell. Do you know who went on television and said that "God should put him out of business for running a Christian Disney land over there in Heritage USA?" Do you know who was the sharpest, most penetrating, pierce tongued critic when Jim Bakker fell? It was Jimmy Swaggart. And Jimmy Swaggart was already involved with prostitutes at the time he was being critical of Jim Bakker. Judge not that ye be not judged, because the same judgment you use on others, God will use on you. Swaggart was critical of Bakker because that problem was in his own life.
Folks I want to tell you, life is too short, life is too short to walk around griping and backbiting and criticizing. Life is too short for that, and if you live like that, your life's going to be shorter. You're going to die. Jesus wants us to be victorious. Accept at face value the things people say and do. Don't always be examining motives. Don't judge.