This is a very good article which outlines some important points about the sacrificial system in the Old Testament and its importance.
Genesis 4:7 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Read John 8:1-11 The story of the sinful woman.
John 8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Read John 5:1-15
The Healing at the Pool
5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. * 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
*verse 4 is in some versions that an angel of the Lord went down occasionally and stirred the waters.
If you look at these two stories in the Bible they both have something in common. Jesus did not condemn the person, but the sin instead. He showed love and understanding to the person, even while telling them the truth about their sin. In both cases these people are apparently in a state of sin. The woman is an adulterer, and we are not told what the man’s sin is, but it is apparent that he is in a state of sin from Jesus telling him to leave his life of sin before something worse happens to him.
In both cases, these people are in a very lonely state. We know this because, other than Jesus, there is no one to stand up for the woman who is about to be stoned…she has no friends. In the case of the man who was paralyzed we know he also has no one who cares about him, as he tells Jesus that there is no one to help him into the pool to get healed. In both of these cases, not only did their sin separate them from God, but also separated them from their fellow humans.
So we can see that both in our heavenly relationship and our earthly relationships sin plays a big part. That is why God laid out some rules for living in community with each other in the Old Testament. Now, just because God laid out a rule addressing a situation doesn’t mean he is approving of the situation…sometimes the rules that God has laid down on a subject are there because he knows the situation is going to exist as long as mankind is separated from God. Thus, God laid out rules about things like slavery, and divorce. Even though, Jesus clearly tells us that divorce is not something that God wants to happen…God recognizes that such things will happen so he lays out a rule about it.
The same thing goes for slavery…God gave rules to govern it because at the time of Moses it existed every where! God did not approve of slavery…he just knew that it existed and so he laid out rules on the treatment of slaves. Slaves had no rights at all prior to these rules….they had no hope for redemption…God’s rules were laid down to show that he recognized that the slaves were human beings who were his creations and they were to be treated a certain way with some dignity..and given hope for freedom from slavery. God did not want or approve of bondage of any kind, just as he did not approve of divorce, theft, murder, sexual promiscuity, lying, or any of the other sins listed in the old testament. It would probably be more accurate to say that God was resigned to the fact that mankind, in general, is selfish and self centered and immature and without rules will govern things according to what most benefits himself…even if it is at the expense of others. As long as man is separated from God, man needs rules to govern his relationship with others. These rules are a gift and should not be thought of as a punishment or a burden.
So, now, let us go back to how Jesus treated the people in the above two situations…the first thing to take note of again is that Jesus did not beat either one of these people over the head with their sins! He didn’t ignore the sin either…after all Jesus said that he did not come to condemn the world, but to save it! Beating someone who is in a state of sin over the head with their sin does not save them! Jesus knew this very well…he helped them each in the way that they needed help, and then he said, “Go and sin no more!”
The implication of this statement from Jesus is that we humans are capable of setting aside our sins…we are capable of self control…that God expects us to use self control in dealing with our sins! God does not accept the excuse that “the devil made me do it!”
Now, this may be an idea that is hard to swallow, but Jesus is not a liar…so we have to accept that we are capable of living lives that are not full of daily continual sin.
Does this mean that we will never sin? No, it means that once we know that something we are doing is a sin, then we have a responsibility before God to not continue to do that sin. We all have sin in our lives that we are not even aware of…God is good to reveal our sins little by little as we go through life so that we are not overwhelmed by them all at once. They are also revealed to us in such a manner and time that we are able to understand how that sin is hurting us, or hurting others around us.
Frequently, our sin is revealed to us by our gaining more knowledge of the nature of God, and maturing more and more in our relationship with God by following Jesus.
For example: A person who look at their horoscope in the paper each day, thinks to themselves that it doesn’t hurt anything to look at it and see how the “stars” say their day is going to go. However, when that person starts getting to know God, they realize that God is clear about this kind of thing in the Bible: Leviticus 19:31 31 “ ‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.
The person starts to understand from reading up on the subject in the Word that God does not want anyone or anything to stand in between them and Him. So oops! Suddenly, the person realizes that by looking to see how the “stars” say their day is going, they have fallen into a state of looking to an idol, looking toward someone or something that is not God.
Think about it, if the person finds that the horoscope is right, and on occasion it will be by the law of averages, and that they are actually written so vaguely that they can be interpreted to be able to impact anyone….suddenly, that person is not making a move without consulting their daily horoscope, or palm reader, or something like that! That is a form of worship…God says not to worship anyone, but Him. (Commandment #1)
So here is this person who has been living in ignorance of their sin, thinking that it is harmless…who suddenly realizes as they seek after God, that this really is a sin, and it is a serious sin at that! (Not that all sin is not serious…in God’s eyes sin is sin.)
Now, they have the option to continue in that sin with their new knowledge, or to do as Jesus tells the man and the woman in the stories above…”Go and Sin no more!” Or another way to say it is, “now that you know what you have been doing wrong, stop doing that!”
Another two points to be made here: 1.) Temptation is not sin! (Jesus was tempted, yet he did not sin!), 2.) We are not born already filled with sin because our parents were sinful-that idea of “original sin” was not introduced into the church until Augustine introduced it which was well after the time of Jesus and his Disciples! Jesus and his Disciples believed in the idea of an “age of accountability” (Isaiah 7:14-16 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.15“He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16 “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.”)
We are not told what this exact age is, and from study, I have concluded that it is different for each person, it is dependent on the moment when a person realizes what is right from wrong…or what is good and what is evil…what is sin and what is not. We all know that this is not an age set in concrete…even our court systems recognize this…that is why sometimes there are people who commit crimes, yet are found to not be responsible for their actions…we recognize that everyone is not the same in maturity…some folks may have mental disabilities that mean they can never be held responsible for what they do because they cannot understand right from wrong.
We can know that the idea of “original sin” is not a credible idea because if we were all born sinful because our parents were sinful, then Jesus would have been automatically been born filled with sin and he would not have been a good example to us, nor an acceptable sacrifice for us..simply because he was born of a human woman. We know that Jesus was not guilty of any sin, therefore we have to reject the idea of original sin…we have to reject the idea of being helpless to stop sinning! That idea comes from the evil one’s desire to keep us in bondage to sin…after all if we cannot help our sin then we can simply claim we have no responsibility for ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that any person can get salvation for themselves without Jesus Christ…that is not the case…Salvation from sin comes through Jesus Christ and Christ alone…that is the forgiveness for sins…I am talking about the thought that we are helpless to keep from sinning on and on when we know something is a sin. Jesus clearly tells us that we can stop sinning!
2Corinthians 5:21 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
I will leave you with this thought: God loves you…you are his precious child. In response to the love God has for you…turn away from sin….go and sin no more…take salvation seriously…glorify God with the way you live your life. When you become aware of a sin…repent promptly…asking his forgiveness in the name of Christ…and return to your task of living a life which glorifies God. Don’t let the evil one bind you with a lie about who you are based on what you have done.
Read Genesis Chapter 3
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
16 To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Looking at the Garden of Eden God mankind gained the knowledge of Good and Evil from eating the forbidden fruit….but does this mean that they while knowing that there is Good and there is Evil (which destroyed their innocence) that they understood what is good and what is evil? No, it doesn’t seem so. For instance, it obviously was not a sin in the Garden of Eden to be in a state of nakedness…if it was then God would have clothed man right off the bat, wouldn’t he? Yet, their response to this new “knowledge of good and evil” was to notice that they were naked and go and hide from God…in fear.
I kind of picture this as the same reaction as a deer when the headlights of an oncoming car get into its face….it knows that something is outside of the norm and knows that this is scary, but doesn’t know exactly why or what to do about it.
Another way to examine this issue is to think what it is like whenever we have to go to a place where we don’t know anyone. Most of us feel quite a bit of concern and stress, anxiety and fear even about these kind of new situations. I ran into a person at my church this past weekend….she came into the door, and told us that she had passed by many times, but was really afraid to come in.
To hear this, you would think that we were not a nice place, or had a bad reputation, but that is not the case at all. The lady was simply verbalizing the common fear almost all of us have of new groups and situations.
The question is why do we have this fear? If we really analyze it the answer is clear….anytime we enter a new group of any kind and especially when we don’t know anyone there…we have a very tough situation…a tough question must be answered…we ask ourselves: “What if I don’t fit in? What are the rules of this group?…how do I learn them?…What if I make a mistake because I don’t know the rules?!! How uncomfortable will I become? How embarrassed will I become?”
So now, let us revisit the Garden of Eden situation here…doesn’t it seem like that even though they were suddenly aware that Good and Evil existed that they did not really understand what Good and what Evil were?
When God deals with them there are certainly consequences to their disobedience…they obviously knew that they had disobeyed, but the mindset they had was not one of sorrow and repentance…it was the mindset of “who can I blame that will let me off the hook?” (Doesn’t seem like much has changed for mankind in all these centuries since Adam and Eve’s time, does it?!)
The thing is that God sent them out of the Garden and their act of disobedience definitely had consequences…hard labor both for Adam and for Eve….the earth itself was put under a curse. The peculiar thing is that it seems that God is saying that the curse was because of Adam and Eve and the serpent….it doesn’t say that God was “kicking them out of the garden because he was mad at them”. It does tell us that God was sending them out of the garden to keep them from eating from the tree of life.
Now I have heard the idea that this was a protection for them, so that their state of sin would not be permanent. Mankind and the earth would not be permanently cursed. I think we have all seen movies and read stories about immortals who are self-centered and destructive…after all what have they got to lose…they are not able to be killed so they can do anything they want. That is the problem with someone who lives forever, but has no moral compass, no compassion, no love for others.
One of the things not mentioned in Genesis 3 is anything about love. Desire is mentioned…desire for the apple, desire for the husband…all of these are fleshly desires, but no mention is made of tender love and concern for one another. There is no evidence of it at all…just desire, and blame.
John 15:1-25 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prune so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
The World Hates the Disciples
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
The thing is we are all born as selfish and self centered human beings…we have to be taught how to love and care for others and put their needs above our own. By setting Adam and Eve outside the garden in a situation where they had to struggle in their everyday life God put them into a situation where they would learn to rely on one another and need each other…where they would have to learn to care about the other person for their own survival. Now, some of you may think this is just plain mean…but to be truthful…it is tough parenting…God style. They could have obeyed and remained in the Garden, yet they chose not to do so. God was not surprised by this choice!
So, now we have people struggling day after day to figure out what is good and what is evil. Another way of saying it is…”What are the rules? So that I don’t get into trouble?”
2 Cor 10: 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
In a parenting magazine when my first child was born I read what turned out to be very sound advice: “Kids like to know that you are in charge…because if you are not in charge, then they are in charge, and being in charge is scary…therefore, kids like routine because it is comforting and shows that you have things under control and that you are in charge.” Or “kids like rules and boundaries.”
To God we are all children, and God is a wonderful parent. So he lovingly gave us a set of rules to live by…the rules were not given to us so that we can feel condemned or hemmed in, or constrained. Though many times that is the attitude we hear from people about God’s rules. People many times have been given the impression that God is mad, and mean, and just gave us a bunch of dos and don’ts so that we can be kept under control and have no fun at all in life! Nothing could be further from the truth!
God gave us his laws so that we would not be like the deer standing in the head lights…scared and confused and unsure of what to do…or how to please God. God gave us his laws because he loves us and wants to clear up the issue of exactly what is Good and what is Evil? How can we tell one thing from the other. He sent his son to further clarify what is Good and what is Evil by living out for us in a normal day to day life how to abide by God’s law. While we were in a state of sin, outside the Garden of Eden, God loved us so much that he gave us both his laws, and his son. His laws so that we can live together in peace and harmony in a Godly way, and his son so that we can understand how to draw close to God and what God considers important in our daily walk with him.
I am a parent, both my children are adults, and I can tell you that no matter how many of the rules my children broke or what they do in their lives I will always, always love them. Yes, sometimes, I have been mad at them and disappointed in them..as I am sure my parents were at times mad at me and disappointed in me…but there has never been a moment that I have not loved my children. There never will be a moment when I won’t love them.
That is how God, the Father, feels about me and about you…sometimes we don’t follow his law…we miss the mark (sin) or even, willfully, disobey a command, but when we turn back to God, the Father, with a heart of sorrow and apologize…God forgives…just like we earthly parents forgive our children.
There are penalties to sin that cannot be avoided on this earth…if you steal you can be put in jail, if you kill you can be put in jail, or killed yourself, if you lie, then you lose the trust of those you have lied to…etc. There are some penalties or responsibilities that have to be taken for doing the wrong things, but God is gracious to forgive and restore your place in relationship with him regardless of the penalties you have to face. God says, I will be with you always to the ends of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
God’s law is a law of love..he gave us those laws because he loves us…unendingly…eternally…God loves us! Each and every one of us!
John 3:16-21 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
Proverbs 6: 16-19 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
Read: Genesis Chapter 39 This is the story of Potiphar’s wicked wife who pretty much did all of these things which God detests. Although she did not shed Joseph’s blood she did cause him to go to prison, which could have resulted in the shedding of his blood for sure…yet, he was innocent of all the things she had charged him with. She is not a person of good character. Despite her actions, and the harm 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Joseph being imprisoned…Joseph did not sin. He did not say, “Well, whatever, everyone in the world is against me, so I might as well be the person that they have decided that I am!” He did not engage in a self-pity party. He decided to stick with God and just make the best of his circumstances. In the end, his attitude of doing his best despite his circumstances turned out very well for him. God blessed him for his determination to follow the Lord’s will with his character.
Now, although this is not a popular view in the eyes of the world…let’s consider Potiphar’s wife for a moment…she did all of these bad things. The Bible clearly tells us that God hates these things….so can it be inferred that God hated Potiphar’s wife? Absolutely not, God has a hatred of the things that she did, but not of the person of Potiphar’s wife. She was still a person who was a well loved creation of God.
Most of us, as we go through life, meet at least one or two people who have done the things that God hates. It may even be ourselves at one time or another who have done these things…though we like to think not.
Yet look at these things one by one:
1.) Haughty eyes….this is someone who thinks too much of themselves, they think they are above others, and that the same tules don’t apply to them as to the “other folk”…that is the sin of PRIDE! I believe that it can be said that we all at some point in our lives suffer from this sin. If you have ever judged another person in a condemning way, then you have been prideful. That may seem harsh, but think about it…God did not make you the judge…Jesus Christ is the judge….
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 The people of every nation will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left.
34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, my Father has blessed you! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me into your home. 36 I needed clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then the people who have God’s approval will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and take you into our homes or see you in need of clothes and give you something to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.’
41 “Then the king will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me! God has cursed you! Go into everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn’t give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t take care of me.’
44 “They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn’t help you?’
45 “He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.’
46 “These people will go away into eternal punishment, but those with God’s approval will go into eternal life.”
To see how God promises to care for you when you have a right attitude, an attitude and behavior that glorifies him….read Matthew 5:1-16
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Now, if we are to be the light of the world, then we cannot do things that are done in darkness….otherwise, the light goes out! All these things that God hates…they are things of darkness that are not done on the up and up with a good attitude…they are all done with the attitude of pride and hatred…not with humbleness and love of our fellow man. Yet at any one time, we have all been guilty of at least some of these actions…haven’t we?!! God still loves us, even then. Just as he loved Potiphar’s wife, yet hated her actions. So what can we do when we are guilty of these things?
Well, the answer is listed for us in the Bible, over and over…”repent and turn back toward God.”
Acts 3:19 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
Hebrews 5:1-2 Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.
Read: 1 Samuel 14:1- 46 This is the story of Jonathon breaking a law in innocence, he didn’t know that there was a law, and God protected him from injustice.
1Samuel 14: 1 One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.
2 Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six hundred men, 3 among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left.
4 On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. 5 One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba.
6 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”
7 “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
8 Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our signthat the Lord has given them into our hands.”
11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” 12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.”
So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”
13 Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him.14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.
Israel Routs the Philistines
15 Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.[a]
16 Saul’s lookouts at Gibeah in Benjamin saw the army melting away in all directions.17 Then Saul said to the men who were with him, “Muster the forces and see who has left us.” When they did, it was Jonathan and his armor-bearer who were not there.
18 Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.)[b]19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”
20 Then Saul and all his men assembled and went to the battle. They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords. 21 Those Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines and had gone up with them to their camp went over to the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 When all the Israelites who had hiddenin the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit. 23 So on that day the Lord saved Israel, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.
Jonathan Eats Honey
24 Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food.
25 The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. 26 When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out; yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.[c]28 Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food today!’ That is why the men are faint.”
29 Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”
31 That day, after the Israelites had struck down the Philistines from Mikmash to Aijalon,they were exhausted. 32 They pounced on the plunder and, taking sheep, cattle and calves, they butchered them on the ground and ate them, together with the blood. 33 Then someone said to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against the Lord by eating meat that has blood in it.”
“You have broken faith,” he said. “Roll a large stone over here at once.” 34 Then he said, “Go out among the men and tell them, ‘Each of you bring me your cattle and sheep, and slaughter them here and eat them. Do not sin against the Lord by eating meat with blood still in it.’”
So everyone brought his ox that night and slaughtered it there. 35 Then Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first time he had done this.
36 Saul said, “Let us go down and pursue the Philistines by night and plunder them till dawn, and let us not leave one of them alive.”
“Do whatever seems best to you,” they replied.
But the priest said, “Let us inquire of God here.”
37 So Saul asked God, “Shall I go down and pursue the Philistines? Will you give them into Israel’s hand?” But God did not answer him that day.
38 Saul therefore said, “Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today. 39 As surely as the Lord who rescues Israel lives, even if the guilt lies with my son Jonathan, he must die.” But not one of them said a word.
40 Saul then said to all the Israelites, “You stand over there; I and Jonathan my son will stand over here.”
“Do what seems best to you,” they replied.
41 Then Saul prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel, “Why have you not answered your servant today? If the fault is in me or my son Jonathan, respond with Urim, but if the men of Israel are at fault,[d] respond with Thummim.” Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot, and the men were cleared. 42 Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son.” And Jonathan was taken.
43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.”
So Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the end of my staff. And now I must die!”
44 Saul said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan.”
45 But the men said to Saul, “Should Jonathan die—he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the Lord lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help.” So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.
46 Then Saul stopped pursuing the Philistines, and they withdrew to their own land.
Something to think about: Are there times when you have done the wrong thing for what you think are the right reasons, but then you find out that you cannot justify doing the wrong thing for any reason?
Is there a time when you have unknowingly done the wrong thing? For instance, you try to patch up some friends who are disagreeing and they get mad at you because of your methods. Perhaps you tricked them into being in the same place at the same time, or you lied to them to get them to make up. What happened when the lie came out?
Perhaps you ate a piece of cake not knowing that the cake was supposed to go to a bake sale, and not be eaten at home. You didn’t intentionally do the wrong thing, but it turned out that you had done the wrong thing.
God sees these kinds of things and realizes what we are doing…even if we think that no one sees us…God knows what is going on all of the time. God sees things through the eyes of love!
Luke 1:69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.
Read 2 Samuel Ch. 7 This is God’s promise to David to make his kingdom and his house last forever.
Read Matthew 1:1-17 This is the genealogy of Jesus Christ from Abraham onward. So you can see that God kept his promise to Abraham to make his children as numberless as the stars, and to David to make his kingdom and house be eternal, through Jesus.
Read Luke 1:26-33 This is when the Angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells Mary that her son will be called the Son of the Most High, and he will rule on the throne of his father David and over the house of Jacob forever.
Note: Jesus’s title of the Son of David is a racial title which reminds us that Jesus was a descendant of the Jewish King David who was a descendant of Abraham. In short, it reminds us that Jesus is Jewish.
Genealogy is very important throughout the bible. It demonstrates continuity of life. It also gives us a glance at what a forgiving God we have. Looking at the people listed in Jesus’ ancestry we see all kinds of sinners. Yet, those people were so forgiven by God due to their faith that he put them in Jesus’ ancestry to show us how total and completely God forgives you.
We know that God keeps his promises, no matter how long it seems to take him to fulfill a promise…when God makes a promise…he keeps it…you can count on it!
Look at the number of generations from Abraham to Jesus…Abraham did not live to see the promise kept, but God kept it anyway!
The same with David, King David did not live to see Jesus, hundreds of years later, still representing his throne, his authority, and kingship…yet, Jesus is an eternal King, to a Kingdom without any ending! How is that for promise keeping?!! Yes, there were times when the King was not actually sitting on the throne in Israel. Just because a king is not actively sitting on the throne doesn’t mean there is no king.
Jesus told us that we are to preach the Kingdom come…because the Kingdom is here! We refer to this as the gospel. The word gospel means the good news! The good news is that God loves us and sent his son so that those who believe in his son, Jesus the Christ, and ask for God’s forgiveness of their sins, can receive that forgiveness and begin a new life living for God with the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. This is a promise that God made to us! We can count on God to keep his promise! That is one of the things that knowing Jesus as the “Son of David” means to us!
Luke 9:1-2 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Psalm 103:10-12 New International Version (NIV)
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Bible Verses listed in lesson from biblegateway.com
2 Samuel 7 New International Version (NIV)
God’s Promise to David
7 After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
3 Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”
4 But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:
5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. 7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’
8 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders[a] over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me[b]; your thronewill be established forever.’”
17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.
18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:
“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human![c]
20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.
22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt?[d] 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.
25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.
27 “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you.28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”
- 2 Samuel 7:11 Traditionally judges
- 2 Samuel 7:16 Some Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint; most Hebrew manuscripts you
- 2 Samuel 7:19 Or for the human race
- 2 Samuel 7:23 See Septuagint and 1 Chron. 17:21; Hebrew wonders for your land and before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt, from the nations and their gods.
Matthew 1:1-17 New International Version (NIV)
The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah[c] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.
Luke 1:26-33 New International Version (NIV)
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Mark 11:17 And as he taught them he said, Is it not written, my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers.
This statement about God’s house being a house of prayer for all nations first appeared in Isaiah 56:7. This angered the chief priests and scribes so they wanted to destroy Jesus because he threatened their way of life. The main idea is that everyone no matter what nation or race can talk to God through prayer, that He is the God of everyone, not just the God of the Jews. God also accepts anyone who repents and turns to him.
I learned the extent of God’s forgiveness myself in a rather shocking way. I was sitting in a church once and a guy shouted out to the pastor that he was sure that God would never forgive him because he was a mercenary and killed people for a living. Now I was pretty young in my knowledge of God, and really still thinking that this was probably true…after all, why would God forgive someone who hurt people for money?!! So I was pretty shocked to hear the minister tell him that yes, God would forgive him, if he asked for forgiveness sincerely! Then, an interesting thing happened to me, the idea was so shocking, that it got me thinking…really thinking…is this the truth…and you know what…I had been limiting God’s forgiveness…many times we go along and we limit God’s forgiveness based on what we think is bad or worse, or not so bad. The fact is that we are saved by the grace of God, and God doesn’t limit that…as Peter saw in his vision! What God makes clean is clean indeed….therefore…who are we to hold a person’s past over them?!! We are not to do that…if a person is steadfast and fruitful in their faith, as Cornelius the Centurion was, then we are to treat that person as a brother or sister in Christ with us….an equal to us…equally loved by God. God equally listens to their prayers…the Bible is full of sinners who have done terrible things, and some in our human judgement who have done some not so bad things, but God forgives and he forgives absolutely! We would do well to remember that and not fall into the trap of thinking like the world view that some people are too bad to be forgiven..after all…the Bible tells us that God would have no one be lost!
2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Read Acts chapter 10. This is the story of Cornelius the Centurion whom God used to pour the Holy Spirit out onto the Gentiles also.
Acts Chapter 10 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. 8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Corneliusfound out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three[a] men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”
22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.
The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointedJesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues[b] and praising God.
Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water.They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
Proverbs 28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
Read Jeremiah 7, and Jeremiah 11 These chapters illustrate how God feels about people who turn away from Him, then God doesn’t like that person’s prayers. However, God still loves us, even when we are in sin…He will love us straight to the gates of Hell and if you go through those gates, then God will still love you; but the separation is eternal. I think that permanent separation from God is what hell is actually all about. (That’s just my personal opinion to be sure.)
Just as a parent will allow their adult children to do the wrong things, and not approve, and also won’t stop them but still will love them. Even as you read these two chapters everything in them seems very harsh, doesn’t it? This tells us how much God wants us to show our love to him through obedience to his word. How much God hates the actions of those who say that they are his people, yet, don’t follow what he says to do.
Now, this is not about being legalistic in how you view God. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to gain God’s approval besides accepting his son. However, to accept his son, you also have to accept his son’s “yoke” or his son’s teachings. (Matthew 11:28-30) You cannot accept the blood sacrifice of Jesus and then go on about your merry way as you always have. If a person has really and truly accepted Jesus as their savior then there will be changes in them. Now, that does not mean that they are suddenly going to spring forth into perfection…no, but it does mean that they have a change of heart where they realize that they have been doing things that are (as my Pastor is fond of saying) “off the mark” of where they should be. Another way of saying that they are not on target for what God wishes in their lives. God is the one who changes the person by the Holy Spirit’s presence within them.
So, how does a person know what God wants of them? Well, Jesus stated it clearly: (Matthew 22:36-40)
1.) Love God with all your heart, mind and soul.
2.) Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
If you follow those two commandments, then you don’t have to worry about all of the rest of God’s law because you cannot follow those two commandments and still break any of God’s law at all. That is what Jesus’ taught.
Why is that? Well, because if you love God, then you won’t disrespect him or any of his creation in any way. That includes yourself and others.
If you love yourself (most people love themselves the most if they are honest…we see it all of the time…), then you want the best for yourself.
The best marriage, best home, best children, best friends, best of everything, right?!!
So it follows that if you love your neighbor as you love yourself, then you will want the best for them also: The best marriage, the best home, best children, best friends, best of everything, right?!!!
Now, in loving that person you also want them to have the most important thing…the best relationship with God that they could possibly have. You wouldn’t want that person to have anything bad in their lives, right?!!
This means that in loving them you celebrate with them, and mourn with them as they go through life, and you help them whenever they need it to the best of your ability.
It also means that you recognize that your neighbor may have different needs than you do when it comes to home and family life. After all, we are not clones of each other. We have individual desires in many respects, but there is one thing we all have in common on this earth. It is the desire to have the love and companionship of family and friends. We all want to be loved, and to be able to tell that we are loved.
Sometimes when we are “loving” others in the Christian way, we end up not so much loving them as “judging” them. We end up telling them what they should and should not do. Most people have enough people telling them how to live their lives…that is not what they need. People need the chance to make their own decisions and to realize that they will still be loved. That is the example that God gives us of loving.
God did not put us in charge of making the rest of the world behave. He told us to follow him…follow his example of loving others. God wants us to love people beyond their faults. Jesus shows us that example time and time again. He shows people that he recognizes that they have faults, but that he loves them anyway and that he cares about their needs. God is the one who will work on that person’s faults and bad decisions with them. We can help them with this, but we cannot condemn them..that is not our job or our responsibility. We have different responsibilities when dealing with another Christian who we see going astray as we are to correct each other..but for those who do not know Christ we are responsible to simply show them the love of Christ by our love for them and how we live that love out in our lives. (Matthew 18:15-17)
There is one time that we see Jesus demonstrating some anger to us…the context of that anger is simple…there are people in God’s very house, his temple, who are taking advantage of other people who are coming to worship God. They are giving them unfair exchanges for their money when they are coming from out of town, and they are charging them unreasonably high prices for the animals that they are buying for sacrifice in the temple. Jesus actually quotes Jeremiah 7:11 while he is overturning the money changers tables. Jesus is referring to the time when God proclaimed that empty worship is worthless worship, and telling those who are taking unfair advantage of others that God is watching them and sees what they do. The people whom Jesus was talking to most likely fully understood the reference…it probably scared them spitless! They knew that they were guilty in the eyes of God! (Matthew 21:12-13) (Now John 2 calls it a market place and focuses on the disrespect shown to God’s house by buying and selling in it.)
To put this in more blunt and modern terms…if you are just going to church and warming a pew so that you can tell the world how great you are that you go to church…that is worthless in God’s eyes. If you do not include God in your every day life then your actions of worship are worthless. God wants relationship with you, that is the way in which God will bless your life the most. Relationship with God on a day to day basis can get you through anything that happens in your life. It gives you an inexpressible strength.
Jeremiah Chapter 7 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and there proclaim this message:
“‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. 3 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
9 “‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury,[a] burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.
12 “‘Go now to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for my Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of my people Israel. 13 While you were doing all these things, declares the Lord, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer. 14 Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your ancestors. 15 I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your fellow Israelites, the people of Ephraim.’
16 “So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. 17 Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger. 19 But am I the one they are provoking?declares the Lord. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?
20 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place—on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the crops of your land—and it will burn and not be quenched.
21 “‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! 22 For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’
27 “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.
29 “‘Cut off your hair and throw it away; take up a lament on the barren heights, for the Lordhas rejected and abandoned this generation that is under his wrath.
The Valley of Slaughter
30 “‘The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the Lord. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it. 31 They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. 32 So beware, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when people will no longer call it Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room. 33 Then the carcasses of this people will become food for the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away. 34 I will bring an end to the soundsof joy and gladness and to the voices of bride and bridegroom in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, for the land will become desolate.
- Jeremiah 7:9 Or and swear by false gods
The Covenant Is Broken
Jeremiah chapter 11 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Listen to the terms of this covenant and tell them to the people of Judah and to those who live in Jerusalem. 3 Tell them that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Cursed is the one who does not obey the terms of this covenant— 4 the terms I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.’ I said, ‘Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. 5 Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey’—the land you possess today.”
I answered, “Amen, Lord.”
6 The Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. 7 From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey me.” 8 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’”
9 Then the Lord said to me, “There is a conspiracy among the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them. Both Israel and Judah have broken the covenant I made with their ancestors. 11 Therefore this is what the Lordsays: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. 12 The towns of Judah and the people of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they burn incense, but they will not help them at all when disaster strikes.13 You, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns; and the altars you have set up to burn incense to that shameful god Baal are as many as the streets of Jerusalem.’
14 “Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress.
15 “What is my beloved doing in my temple
as she, with many others, works out her evil schemes?
Can consecrated meat avert your punishment?
When you engage in your wickedness,
then you rejoice.[a]”
16 The Lord called you a thriving olive tree
with fruit beautiful in form.
But with the roar of a mighty storm
he will set it on fire,
and its branches will be broken.
17 The Lord Almighty, who planted you, has decreed disaster for you, because the people of both Israel and Judah have done evil and aroused my anger by burning incense to Baal.
Plot Against Jeremiah
18 Because the Lord revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. 19 I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree and its fruit;
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
that his name be remembered no more.”
20 But you, Lord Almighty, who judge righteously
and test the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for to you I have committed my cause.
21 Therefore this is what the Lord says about the people of Anathoth who are threatening to kill you, saying, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands”—22 therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, their sons and daughters by famine. 23 Not even a remnant will be left to them, because I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.” (NIV via Bible gateway.com)
- Jeremiah 11:15 Or Could consecrated meat avert your punishment? / Then you would rejoice
Psalm 37:5-7 Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, and He will do this, He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn.
Read 1Samuel 23:1-14 David asked the Lord if he was to go to Keilah and stand against the Philistines, God told him to go and that he would deliver the Philistines into his hands. David did so, and God did as he said he would. God protected David and used him (even though Saul was trying to take his life) to save the people of Keilah.
Read Psalm 37:5-7 Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, and He will do this, He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn. The justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him, do not fret, when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
This is an excellent verse to take to heart when you are praying for something, you must trust in God for the answer, even if you don’t see immediate results, be committed to knowing that God is committed to you and that He hears your prayers, and will take action on your behalf.
God’s justice is always much more accurate and precise than anything that you and I can come up with. Sometimes the person whom we want justice from has suffered an even greater injustice than we have, but we don’t know it. That doesn’t excuse the injustice we suffered by them, but it may help us to understand where they were coming from and find a way to love that person despite what they have done.
David, makes it clear through out his relationship with King Saul that he does not despise Saul and has no wish to take his throne from him before the appointed time that God will give it to him. David continues to attempt to serve Saul to the best of his ability despite Saul’s hatred of him, and his constant attempts to take David’s life.
I mean, Saul throws spears at David while David is entertaining Saul with his music. Saul chases him down and tries to kill him. When you look at some of the Psalms that David wrote, the headings on some of them tell us that they were written in caves while he was hiding for fear of his life. That fear is because King Saul is after him.
King Saul actually admired David and promoted him to the position he was in, but after God turned from Saul and David was anointed by Samuel as the next King of Israel (the United Kingdom of Israel) Saul then started to fear David when he saw how mighty he was. After Saul heard chanting in the street that “Saul had slain his thousands and David his ten thousands…” (1Samuel 18:6-8) then King Saul could see that David could take his throne as he was held in higher esteem by the people of Israel than was King Saul.
As far as I can find in the Bible there isn’t any direct statement to Saul that David is the one anointed to take his place. King Saul is just told that another will take his place as King. King Saul went off of the deep end without a life jacket once he figured out that David was considered “mightier than he!”
However, David despite being given an opportunity of temptation to kill King Saul as he was urinating in a cave where David and his men were hiding….refuses to succumb to the temptation to go ahead and get his kingdom through assassination! Even with his men egging him on!
1Samuel 24:1-22 After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” 2 So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, “This is the day theLord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed,or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.8
Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.9 He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.
14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”
16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lorddelivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”
22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. (NIV via Biblegateway.com)
This kind of thinking and acting is why the Lord stated that David was a man after his own heart. David loved Saul and loved Saul’s son, Jonathon who was his best friend, like a brother. I am sure that it pained David to know that he was going to be taking the throne which would have gone to Jonathon, if Saul had remained King. Yet, it doesn’t seem to have affected the close bond between the two men. They looked out for each other. Jonathon tried his best to protect David from his father, King Saul.
If we try to understand King Saul’s actions they were largely out of fear…he drove himself crazy from his fear of losing his kingdom. This tells us how deep Saul’s belief in the words of Samuel the prophet…even though he continually acted against what Samuel had told him to do. Saul feared people more than he feared the Lord, and fear was his chief motivator. So in essence, Saul was a person who looked good on the surface, but his actions did not bear scrutiny once you got to know him. He wasn’t a bad person, but he was a leader and he was in charge of leading his people in the way that the Lord wished them to go. He was catastrophically unable to do this because of his fears. He was not a Psalm 37:5-7 king. (Though that Psalm written by David when he was King was written well after Saul’s demise…perhaps David may have thought of and remembered Saul when he wrote it.)
David suffered a lot of injustice at the hands of Saul, we are never told why Saul acted with so much fear. Hazarding a guess and going into Saul’s background he was simply not built for the demands of Kingship…it was a great big stress to him, but once he was there, he wanted to keep the job. He didn’t want to be a failure. However, he was a failure. He was self centered instead of God centered.
Simply put, Saul failed to follow God, so God replaced him. David, despite his faults, never forgot or let his own thoughts replace his love and respect for God.
If you are a leader that God has put in place, you are held very responsible by God for how you lead…more so than the average person who has no one they are leading. Be a good leader if you are called to lead, pray and follow God’s leading…Wait upon the Lord in all circumstances. Prayer is the way to “wait upon the Lord.” If you don’t talk to him, then you won’t know what God wants from you.
Note: As an exercise I find it helpful to look up the different places spoken about in the Bible and see where they are on a map. It kind of gives me a scope of how far things are from each other, and what the terrain is like. Keilah is 8.5 miles NW of Hebron, the Desert of Ziph is 4 miles SE of Hebron. Keilah is now satisfactorily by archaeologists as identified with Khirbet Kila.
Matthew Chapter 11 (NIV)
After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.
16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
Woe on Unrepentant Towns
20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.[e] For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
The Father Revealed in the Son
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)
Deuteronomy 18:15-22 (NIV)
15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”
17 The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods,is to be put to death.”
21 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.
When I was in church this morning Matthew 11 was the text and what caught my attention at the time was verse 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.
There are many ways to look at this verse, but another translation of it is to say, “the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully moving forward”. It is rather hard to wrap my mind around the Kingdom of heaven being “subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it” after all, the Kingdom of heaven is in heaven, right?!!
However, if you look at it from the standpoint of it “forcefully moving forward” that gives a different idea, at least in the mind of the Pastor who was preaching this morning’s message, and also I can see and understand that what he is saying may be a way to look at it. It gives the idea of God’s will be done by passionately intense people who have subjected themselves to God and the spreading of his word. The following of his plan. The Pastor this morning spoke about the idea that God does not want people to stand still in their faith. He wants people to passionately reach out to others in love and compassion to show them the character of God.
What happens if all you need to do is accept Jesus and be baptized? Then why bother with going to church, or praying or anything else? After all, “you” have been saved, so why bother with anything else? You are not going to be any “more” saved by going to church are you? You are not going to be any “more” saved by doing good works! Jesus did it all and all you have to do is accept it and do nothing the rest of your life, right?!!
While it is true you are “saved” simply by accepting Jesus, you cannot just accept part of Jesus and be saved. Jesus was/is looking for people who accept all of Him, and all of what he says. People who are willing to give “all” of themselves to God’s service.
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
People who give all of themselves to God are people who are also concerned for obeying God here on earth while they are living, not just concerned for their afterlife. They are also not just concerned for their own salvation, but are concerned for the salvation of others.
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…
This doesn’t mean that God is asking everyone to become ministers or pastors or give up their families and communities and run off across the world to be a missionary! There are some people whom he asks that of, but for most people your missionary field is in your own backyard, neighborhood, place of work, people you meet!
This also doesn’t mean that you have to jump on everyone you meet and beat them over the head with God and God’s word as you know it! God speaks in a still small voice, so that is the example he gives us in dealing with others. Gentleness, not being wishy washy, but being non-condemning and gentile in your explanation of who God is and what he is looking to bring into their lives!
1Kings 19:11-13 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but theLord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
I remember when I was in high school and my band was doing a car wash fund raiser. There was a woman there who got right up in my little 9th grade face and said, “Have you been born again!!!” The way she said it actually made me feel like I had done something wrong..it felt threatening, especially because at that point I had never heard of the idea of being born again. I looked at her really scared like and nervous, and said that I didn’t know what she meant. She again pounced on me and said that you had to be born again to go to heaven and that if I wasn’t born again then I wasn’t going to heaven! Now, I was not a big church goer as a child because we moved a lot, and my family didn’t go to church. I usually went with one of my Great Aunts when I was around her and really loved going with her. I was especially enamored with the felt board and how those little figures would stick to it was mesmerizing! I loved Bible stories and read them a lot in the children’s Bible. I had prayed that Jesus was going to live in my heart when I was about 4 years old, and I knew who Jesus was and trusted him. However, the Jesus I knew was not a person who would yell in someone’s face that the needed to get born again to go to heaven.
The Jesus that I knew called to people out of trees and told them that he was going to have lunch with them. He called to people who were fishing and told them to come along that he would make them a different kind of fisherman. Sometimes, Jesus spoke in riddles that I didn’t understand as well as I thought I should, but he was gentle and loving with people who were trying to understand the kingdom of God, and trying to follow him.
Now Jesus was very tough on those who weren’t going to follow him, or who misused God’s word to make other people’s lives harder. He was really tough and very direct if people who were supposed to be representing God to his people were misrepresenting God to them.
I am sure that this woman, who never got around to explaining anything about being born again to me…because I saw a car that desperately needed my attention to wash right then…had the best of intentions and was very passionate about her faith, and really wanted to share it with me. The problem was that she was literally ferocious in her approach! When she was talking to me, it felt violent!
There is a fine line between being passionate and sharing what you know with all the joy in your heart, and literally pouncing on an unsuspecting person and beating them over the head with the Word of God! With most people it is much more productive to share things with a sentence here or there, in relation to a comment they have made about something than it is to just pounce out there out of the blue with the word of God.
Ex. Someone says to you something like, “hi! How have you been today?” and it happens to be Sunday, and you have gone to church. You can respond, “Oh, I am having a great day so far, I went to church this morning and we talked about… and this is how I feel about it or what I got out of it…” then wait for their response, you will either hear, “Oh, that’s nice! and they will change the subject…at which point that means that you give it up and move on to another conversation…or as Jesus tells us, “shake off your sandals and move on out of town.”
You may also hear another response, such as, “Oh, that’s interesting….I went to church also and we talked about thus and so today…” or “Oh, really, so I have been looking for a church around here, what is your church like…” or “Oh, I really don’t know much about God, but I always thought that….”
There are so many responses, or so many openings and you just have to calmly carry on a conversation with the person…get them to asking questions about God and talking about what they believe, then gently tell them what your beliefs are and why you believe what you do. Sometimes they are under the impression that “churches are filled with hypocrites” or “I am trying to fix myself up to be better before I go to church…I need to get right with God”.
The truth is that churches are filled with people who have been “saved” they have been “born again” meaning they have taken on a new life through their belief in Jesus Christ. Churches are also filled with sinners who have yet to be saved..people who are there for different reasons than to worship God. Churches are filled with all types of people, but there is one type of person who you will never find in a church….not til Jesus comes back, and then there will be no need for churches as he will be here…that person whom you will never find in a church is…wait for it…here it comes…”the perfect person!” There are no perfect people in churches anywhere…there are no perfect people out of churches either. Churches are full of all kinds of people, but there are no perfect ones…the perfect person doesn’t exist except in the body of Jesus Christ.
Face it, all of us would like to be “perfect” and if all it took to make people perfect was for them to attend church, then there would be lines of people around the block outside of churches all over the world waiting to get in so that they could be perfect too! The fact that there are not tells us that the people in the church are only different in the fact of their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their savior, right?!! So what does this mean?
Jesus tells us to be Romans 12:2 people who live in the world, but are not part of the world. This means that we should be noticeably different from the non-Christian in our character and our way of life. We cannot help but be living in the world…and God doesn’t want us to sequester ourselves away from the world. After all, how can we reach out if we don’t interact with it?
We are told that Romans 5:7-9 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
If God loved us while we were yet sinners, doesn’t that mean he loves others who are still sinners and who have not yet accepted salvation through Christ?!! Of course it does! Our participation in God’s kingdom is to passionately proclaim his word to others…being passionate does not mean yelling at people or getting in their face. What it means to be passionate is that we love God, and we love his Word, and we cannot get enough of talking about God to others and sharing our joy! If you look at Jesus’ disciples that is what we see over and over with them. They loved God and it showed in every fiber of their being…they gave all of themselves over to God to use in bringing others to know who God is and what he did for them by way of his Son, Jesus Christ!
The line in Matthew 11 that most caught my attention is this: 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” I asked myself how does one stumble on account of Jesus? The answer seems rather obvious….if you hear about him and you refuse to accept him, then you have stumbled! Or if someone misleads you about who Jesus is, then you can stumble. The nice thing about stumbling is that it isn’t a fall…that means that sometimes you can catch yourself, or someone else can catch you before you fall.
That leads to my favorite verses in Matthew 11:28-30 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)