Thursday, July 02, 2020

Hold your fire

Luke 9:51-56…

How often do we presume to be standing up for the honor of God, and yet we do so in a manner not worthy of His grace? How many times have you seen someone in print, or television, on the internet, or in person blaspheme the name of the Lord, or say derogatory things about God? How many of those times have you wanted to be like the Apostle Paul in Acts 13:10-11, and say to the offender, “I blind thee, wretched scum!” Tell the truth; aren’t you just like the disciples here, presuming to defend the honor of God, all the while defending your own self-esteem?

You must realize that we are recipients of God’s mercy, and we should be merciful to others (Matthew 5:7). We should not act hastily in judgment of those who do not believe; we wouldn’t either if it were not for God’s grace. This should make us humble, not hardened. Yes we should stand for what is right, but we do not have the right to strike down those who dishonor God. Jesus will defend His own honor; in due time (2 Thessalonians 1:8 / Jude 15).

In truth, the people of the village were in the wrong; they didn’t receive Christ because He was seemingly looking past them to His destiny in Jerusalem. How like our own lives today, when Jesus is doing something for someone we know, but not for us, and so we complain about it!

This whole scenario points at us, and says, “Hold your fire; you may be aiming at yourself.” 

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Family drama

John 7:1-9…

It can be hard dealing with loved ones who won’t listen to you when you talk about Jesus. When you truly want to do His will, you may discover that some people in your own family don’t understand. They’ll talk about most anything else, but not your faith. They have no sense of God’s will or work. They may even oppose and oppress you. The knowledge that personal relationships may and will suffer is the one place where most “disciples” put down their cross and walk away from Jesus (Matthew 10:37 / Luke 14:26).

It was the same with Jesus’ own family (Psalm 69:8). They had no real sense of God’s will or timing in the work He was doing. They wanted Jesus to make a show, but it showed that they didn’t yet believe He was who He claimed to be (cf. Mark 3:21). Here we have unbelievers giving advice. Perhaps His siblings were being sarcastic. In any event, why should the spiritual take spiritual advice from the unspiritual?

Applying this to today, we are often trying to win the world using the world’s ways and wisdom. Personally, we want Jesus to make some grand entrance into the scenes of our public lives so that we may feel justified, but all it really does is make a parade of our unbelief. Let’s be like Jesus, and not take this same bad advice. 

People want God to hurry up and do something, and something big, but God knows the future and the consequences of doing things too soon and too spectacular. Jesus may be going to the place we want Him to go, and willing to do what we hope He will do, but not necessarily on our timetable or suitable to our taste for the dramatic.

Two of Jesus’ brothers, James and Jude, became biblical writers, so we shouldn’t write loved ones off. However we should be doing God’s will while we are waiting.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Straightening up

Luke 13:10-17…

Here was a woman who had a disability, she couldn’t stand up straight, but it didn’t stop her from coming to the synagogue to worship. Even after 18 years of being bound up by Satan her love for God and His Word trumped the physical and emotional pain. Yet it seems so easy for us to find one sorry excuse to stay home from church, rather than find one of the many reasons to go. This woman wouldn’t be held back, but we say we just don’t feel like it. If our prayers go unanswered for a week, we punish God by missing the next.

Jesus could have just gone home after teaching, but He calls out to her, a woman, which would be a scandal in itself. He is breaking the rules of etiquette.

After He heals her, the religious leaders were indignant. He is breaking the rules of ministry. But Jesus exposes their hypocrisy. In their supposed zeal, they show their hearts. They do what needs to be done on the Sabbath day; they are not so strict as to restrict common duties. They don’t call that sinful work. Accordingly, they should care more about a hurting person than a thirsty animal. Ironically, the whole idea of the Sabbath was rest, release, and so the Lord’s words, “Woman, you are freed from your disability” are perfectly in line with God’s will.

Also, this was not just about being hypocritical in their application of Sabbath Law; it was an indication of their disregard for women. They weren’t just rejecting Jesus and His work, they were rejecting her. But men and women are both heirs of God's promises (Galatians 3:27-29). We are to treat each other with dignity and respect, as Jesus demonstrates here.

It is the influence of Satan that tries to keep people from “straightening up”, but it is the nature of Jesus to bend our wills and break the rules when it comes to redemption over religion.