Luke 10; Don’t Dance Before You Get to The End Zone

This is me about ten years ago at a Dallas Cowboys game when I lived in Fort Worth. This is at the game against the Eagles which was the hottest game in NFL history, 108 degrees, hence why I am not wearing both shirts.

Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 

 10:18    And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 

 10:19    Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 

 10:20    Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. 

For years I read this passage, and only saw Jesus talking about how Satan was a defeated foe and we all have power over him through Jesus. Recently though, I have begun to realize that Jesus was gently chastising the disciples for their pride. Always arguing who was the greatest, they were tempted to let pride take over instead of giving God the glory. I mean really, they were arguing all the time about who was the greatest in the kingdom of God when it was really rather obvious that God was the greatest in the kingdom of God and not any of them. With that kind of pride it was easy for them to start thinking that they were “all that” after God had worked some miracles in their behalf. Jesus is warning them against “dancing in the end zone” before they even scored yet. We all remember watching Leon Lett returning a fumble for the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl 27. Before he makes it to the end zone he starts celebrating, and Don Beebe of the Buffalo Bills, knocks the ball out of his hands before he crosses the goal line. He started celebrating too soon and lost the touchdown. I think Jesus is telling His disciples, don’t start celebrating too soon. You are not all that. Make sure your names are in the book of life and celebrate when you get to heaven. Until then, we always have a self to conquer.

Remember, in Matthew 7:21-23 many will come to Jesus who have worked miracles, but are not saved. They are still living in sin and serving self. We know we are right with God, not because we do great things, but because our life is in harmony with His. Let Jesus’ rebuke to His disciples be a warning to us as well that we are not “all that” just because He does something great through us. Jesus is the Greatest!

Luke 9; Take up Your Cross Daily

Merry Christmas from beautiful Tampa Bay!

Luke 9:23 And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 

While reading this text this morning, I realize that when Jesus said. “take up your cross,” He was not merely talking about bearing a burden or a trial or temptation as is so often the reference today. In Roman times a man took up a cross for one reason only and that was to go die. That is what happens on crosses, death, not burdens, trials or temptations but death.

So as I read this morning, Jesus is telling me to take my cross and go die to self. I notice in this verse he includes the word “daily”. I remember a friend telling me about his flight back to Tampa from Chicago. He had been in Chicago all week on business. It was Friday afternoon and he was ready for a relaxing and quiet flight back home. It never happened. A group of women got on the flight apparently having some celebration and they partied all the way to Tampa on that plane. My friend told me, he just smiled and thought to himself, “Today is just not about me.” That was several years ago, and the other day when I mentioned that story to my friend, he said he had forgotten all about it, but that phrase has always stuck in my head. When I am tempted to be selfish, or think of myself above others, I just pick up my cross, put a smile on my face and think to myself, “Today is just not about me.”

Luke 8; Asking With Faith

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 8:22 Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. 

 8:23       But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled [with water], and were in jeopardy. 

 8:24       And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. 

 8:25       And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him. 

First of all I notice in this story that Jesus rebukes them while they came and ask him to do something about the storm. What more could they do? How was that a lack of faith? Aren’t we to come to Jesus with our problems? Is that not a sign of faith? Yes, the Bible says we are to come to Jesus with our problems, but it also tells us how, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” James 1:6 Funny James even references waves tossed with the winds. Maybe the disciples should have said, “Lord help us overcome this storm” instead of implying that they were going to perish. We must have faith and remember too, in times of storms, that sometimes Jesus calms the storm, and sometimes He calms His child, and lets the storm rage on. Peace does not mean there is no storm. Peace just means you are with Jesus in the storm.

Of course when Jesus calmed the storm, it did not just settle down for the little boat the disciples were on. The waters were calmed for everyone on the waters, believer and unbeliever alike. This is how it is, the blessings we ask and receive from God are to flow over and bless the rest of the world. We should ask nothing for ourselves, but for the whole world. Jesus never prayed “Give me my daily bread”, but rather, “Give us our daily bread.” In Daniel 2, Daniel asks God to tell him what the king dreamed so that he and the other non-believing wise men would be saved. As soon as God revealed the dream to Daniel, the first thing Daniel says to the King’s men was “Destroy not the wise men of Babylon.” So by Daniel’s prayer being answered the wise men of Babylon were saved as well. The world will never know or appreciate how many of its blessings it owes to the prayers of the believer.

Luke 7; A Sinful Woman Represents The Remnant Church

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 7:36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. 

 7:37       And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that [Jesus] sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 

 7:38       And stood at his feet behind [him] weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe [them] with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed [them] with the ointment. 

This woman represents the church of Laodicia after it repents. She is the same woman who they wanted to stone for adultery in John 8. Jesus saved her life, but she still realized that the law said that one who commits adultery should be stoned. This woman realized that Jesus was going to die her death. In true repentance for what her sinned has caused the Son of God she comes to anoint him in pouring out the alabaster box of ointment, she is pouring out all she had and is for Jesus, because on the cross, Jesus was going to be pouring all of himself out for her. She has headed the call to be zealous and to repent. Sure she has many sins, but she has turned from them all because she does not want to hurt the God who loves her anymore. In Genesis we read the story of the sons of Israel who represented the remnant church of their time. They had sold  their brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt. Long story short, he becomes ruler in Egypt when his brothers come looking for food. Joseph tests them to see if they are really repentant by attempting to detain the youngest, Benjiman in prison. Reuben, one of the older brothers, tells Joseph not let Benjiman free and he will go to prison instead. He said that their father had already lost one son, and that ifBenjiman does not return, then their father will go to the grave in sorrow. Reuben has shown his repentance, in saying, we have broken our father’s heart before and we are not going to break it again. This is what true repentance is, and this woman’s heart has been broken open because she has broken the heart of God.  

 7:39       Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw [it], he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman [this is] that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 

This Pharisee, names Simon, represents Laodicia before it repents. Notice his arrogance in expecting God to see that the woman is a sinner, but does not expect God to also notice, he too is a sinner, a big sinner!

 7:40       And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 

 7:41       There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 

 7:42       And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 

 7:43       Simon answered and said, I suppose that [he], to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 

I wonder if Simon really got it? Did he see himself as the one who owed only the fifty? If so then he was still in a Laodicia state of mind. Fact is, according to the Desire of Ages, he was the reason this woman had become a prostitute! He is the one who owed five hundred and Mary only owed fifty! Simon is showing how rich he thinks he is in spiritual things, not knowing he is poor, miserable, blind and naked! His sin and hypocrisy lies naked and open before God and man, because he has not repented and asked God to cover his nakedness. He does not realize his true spiritual state, just like unrepentant Laodicia.

 7:44       And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped [them] with the hairs of her head. 

 7:45       Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 

 7:46       My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 

 7:47       Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, [the same] loveth little. 

Jesus does not call her a tramp, whore or slut. He calls her a woman, a sign of great respect in the Orient. This is the same way he addressed His mother. He points out to Simon that she has great appreciation for her Savior while Simon is showing no appreciation at all. He does not see himself as a sinner therefore he has no need to appreciate a Savior. Laodicia must realize its true condition before it can repent. Yet it will repent! Joseph’s brothers repented and this woman repented, and Laodicia repents too, because there is no 8th church in Revelation. Laodica will repent once it realizes it’s true condition and need of a Savior. It will trade its self-righteousness for Jesus’ real righteousness.

This woman also represents all those who will repent and be saved. This ointment and perfume was powerful stuff! The aroma was made to last for days, as they did not take regular baths in those days. The fact that the whole box was poured out on Jesus tells me it was very potent and lasted for many days. Just a week later Jesus is on the cross. Most everyone is taunting Him and making fun of him. He is tempted to believe that His sacrifice will be futile. However, when he pushes his feet against the cruel spikes, and lifts up his body to gasp for air, he breathed in the aroma from the perfume that was poured out on him just a few days before, and is thus reminded that His sacrifice will not be futile. This woman represents a repentant church that appreciates its Savior!

 7:48       And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 

 7:49       And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 

 7:50       And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. 

Her faith was her appreciation and thankfulness for His great sacrifice. Faith takes place not just in the mind but in the heart. Many will miss heaven by about 18 inches, the distance between the brain and the heart. Laodicia may “know it all” but not appreciate it all. Heaven will be filled with people with muddled minds and theology, but none with bitter hearts. It is not enough for the mind to know that Jesus died. The heart must say “Thank you!” A self righteous Laodician heart will never say “thank you” to Jesus. I pray that Jesus breaks my heart the way this woman’s heart was broken so I can appreciate the great love and sacrifice of Jesus!

Luke 6; Rock or Earth

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 
 6:47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: 
 6:48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 
 6:49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. 

 This passage reminds us that, The Bible must change how we live our lives. Too often though we let the way we live our lives change how we interpret the Bible.

 

Often on my day off I go somewhere where I can spend some time alone with God. A while back I went to Siesta Beach in Sarasota . I waded into the water and as a wave rushed to shore it moved the sand right out from under my feet. The sand quickly shifted to conform to its surroundings. I realized that was what Jesus was talking about when He said to not build your house on the sand. Our theology and Christian walk should not be like the sand that conforms to our surroundings.

 

Jesus wants us our experience to be like the rock. Instead of the rock conforming to its environment, the environment conforms to the rock. Chitons are rock-clinging marine mollusks that are found on rocky coasts all over the world. These shells cling to the rock and conform themselves to the rock. Otherwise they get washed out to sea. In order to survive we must conform to the rock which is God’s Word.  In order to survive we must let the Bible change us and not our surroundings and environment.  We must let the Bible change how we look at the world and not let the world change how we look at the Bible.

Matthew 18; When is it a Good Idea Not To Follow Bible Counsel?

I am re-sharing this post while golfing and seeing friends and family in Texas and Tennessee. I took this picture in Fort Worth on Tuesday, December 20, 2011.

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.  Matthew 18:15-17

 

This counsel rarely ever gets followed. How much better our world and church would be if people would follow this counsel from Jesus. Here is what I have seen happen too often. Someone actually tries to follow this counsel, but when they go to step 2 and get a brother to go along, the brother perceives it as gossip and does not want to meddle in the situation even though this is exactly what Jesus says to do. Or, instead of the third party being neutral, they get an ear load from one side and go into the meeting very biased. And even more sadly, I have talked with church leaders who passed judgment on another member without ever hearing their side of the story or going to them personally first, and they clearly admitted they did not follow the counsel of Matthew 18 because they already had all the evidence without needing to follow Matthew 18. What? You don’t need to follow Bible counsel because you already have the full scoop? Since when was following the Bible optional? Apparently it happens all the time. This to me is the most sad situation of the three, because the people not following Matthew 18 know they are not following it and don’t care, but still think they are fit to be church leaders while intentionally ignoring Bible counsel.

 

Before many churches can heal and move forward in proclaiming the gospel, they need to make sure they are following the gospel themselves. We need to make sure we follow Matthew 18 when a problem arises and go to our brother one on one without anyone else knowing. Most problems can be resolved at step one. If not, then step two means we should take along another party who can hear both sides of the story at the same time, and not get an ear full from one side before they even get to talk to the other side. This is stacking the deck in ones favor, very easy for humans to do, but with God’s grace we can avoid this temptation especially if we are honestly wanting truth to win. Thirdly take it to the church. At this point the church should not be afraid to handle the matter. It is not gossip at this point, it is Bible counsel. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul tells the church it will be judging angels and needs to be judging its own issues.

 

When we reject Bible counsel everyone loses. When we follow Bible counsel there is redemption for all.

Luke 5; Jesus Never Leaves The Sinner

I am writing today from the Beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 5:1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 

 5:2         And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing [their] nets. 

 5:3         And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 

 5:4         Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 

 5:5         And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 

 5:6         And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 

 5:7         And they beckoned unto [their] partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 

 5:8         When Simon Peter saw [it], he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 

I continue for find more and more places in Scripture where Jesus does not leave the sinner but where the sinner cannot stand in the presence of God. See my blog on Mark 1, about how it is not God who cannot dwell with sin, but rather it is sin that cannot dwell with God. Jesus did not tell Peter to go away because he was a sinful man, but rather Peter tells Jesus to go away because he was a sinful man. I am so glad Jesus did not leave Peter. He will not leave us either. We may choose to leave Him but He will never leave us.