More To Know

May. 2, 2021

The Lord’s way of doing things and humanity’s way of doing things are vastly different. Without illumination from the Lord or without His perspective, we cannot see correctly or gain understanding.

Mark 8:31 – 33

Without a transformed mind and a changed heart, the God way of doing things makes no sense to us. We need clarity from the Holy Spirit. It is impossible for humans to grasp the concept of the God way of doing things without the help of the Holy Spirit.

We will look at one biblical example of the differences between how humanity tries to accomplish something and how the Lord does it. The two methods and outcomes are very different.

Luke 22:47-51 relates Peter’s attempt to interrupt an unjust situation. 

While John 19:31-37 is the narrative of part of what Jesus endured on the cross. These passages reveal that Peter resisted the will of God even though he didn’t know it. But Jesus fully submitted to God’s will.

Here are 12 observations about the differences between Peter’s approach and Jesus’ investment concerning a very intense circle of invents.

  1. Peter drew blood. Jesus gave His blood.
  2. By cutting off the ear of the servant of the High Priest, Peter caused pain and anguish. Jesus restored the man’s ear. Jesus provided restoration and healing.
  3. Peter created chaos. Jesus brought peace.
  4. Peter used carnal or fleshly means in an attempt to accomplish desired goals. Jesus followed the divine plan of God without deviating from His Father’s perfect will.
  5. Peter’s actions were rash, impulsive and explosive. Jesus’ actions were methodical, measured, controlled, purposeful and obedient.
  6. Peter was operating according to his own power and impulses. Jesus was only moved and influenced by the Spirit and will of His Heavenly Father.
  7. Peter’s way of addressing what was happening didn’t accomplish anything helpful. Jesus’ submission was the greater part of a divine plan that affected the whole world.
  8. What Peter did had a temporary effect. What Jesus did produced eternal results.
  9. Peter’s attempt at justice was reversed: the man’s ear was restored. The redemption Jesus made possible can never be reversed or negated.
  10. Peter’s interference didn’t cost him anything. Jesus’ commitment was an extreme sacrifice and cost Him greatly.
  11. Peter was moved by feelings and emotions. Jesus was guided by determined and intentional assurance and peace.
  12. Peter was disturbed and upset. He did not understand why these things were taking place. Jesus had perfect understanding. He was not surprised or unprepared for anything that occurred.

There is a natural or carnal blood and there is divine blood. The shedding of natural blood can lead to death but the shed blood of Jesus brought and bought life. Peter’s way of dealing with matters impaired life. What Peter did would have diminished the quality of life for Malchus, since he would have been missing one ear. In contrast, Jesus’ way enhanced the lives of all who would and will embrace Him and what he did.

Peter’s rash actions may have possibly negatively affected one or two generations of Malchus’ family. However, what Jesus did positively affected all generations (past, present and future) of every human family. Peter’s decision took away, diminished and degraded. Jesus’ decisions enhanced, added and were beneficial.

Of which blood are we? Peter reacted according to what his carnal nature told him was the most effective way to deal with the situation. But the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but they are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Peter was of the opinion that he ought to fight fire with fire. The men who came to arrest Jesus had clubs and swords. Peter adopted their combative approach while Jesus stayed calm and controlled. (Mark 14:46-49)

Jesus knew the power of spiritual weapons. They are so much more potent than natural weapons. That is why Jesus kept urging the disciples to pray in the garden before all the mayhem started. He knew they needed to arm themselves spiritually, through prayer. But they did not understand.

Recognizing and appropriately responding in a spiritual arena involves at least three areas of awareness.

  1. There must be a gaining of spiritual understanding. Everything that happens is not always as it initially appears to be. Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned. The carnal mind cannot understand the things of the spirit.
  2. Recognize the time. In an Old Testament setting, the prophet Elisha asked his servant Gehazi, “Is this the time for gathering money and new clothes?” Elisha was saying that there is a time when this activity is permitted, even necessary. There is a time for gathering material goods. But this is not that time. The error wasn’t in the ‘things’. The error was not discerning the time. Gehazi’s lack of spiritual sharpness misdirected his vision, blurred his focus and muddled his thoughts. His heart was infected and that malignancy  magnified his desire for material goods. It caused him to go where he shouldn’t have gone, to pursue what he wasn’t due, to hide his ill-gotten gain and to lie to Naaman and to Elisha.

Gehazi would never have been at liberty to wear the clothes or to trade with the silver. The prophet was supplying his wages and so would have known that these items were out of place. This is a mistake that many embezzlers make. Their toys, possessions and lavish lifestyles surpass their annual salary several times over. The numbers don’t jive. That’s how they get caught.

3. Be led of the Holy Spirit. He gives us instruction, warnings, correction and information. We have been given the power to become the sons of God. (John 1:12-13)

Of which blood are we? Of the blood of the flesh that is guided by emotion, fear, irrationality and self-serving motives? Or of the cleansing blood of Christ? Are we of the blood that stains? Or the one that cleanses? The one that indicates pain? Or the one that brought peace? The blood that is tainted with sin? Or the blood that is perfect and sinless?

We were bought with a price. (1 Corinthians 6:20) Jesus purchased us with His own blood. His precious blood. We are the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Everyone of our decisions and actions should reflect and be in harmony with that fact.

Are our daily movements, thoughts and decisions of the Jesus Christ kind of blood that make whole and give people hope and peace? We are to copy Jesus’ example.

If shed blood is present, something serious has taken place. People can and do choose to draw the Peter kind of blood through rash behavior and hurtful words. But we can be the vessels the Lord uses to share the power of His Word and the power of His blood. We can let people know what that blood has done for them. Those who rely on him are entitled to salvation, physical healing, a transformed mind, a cleansed heart, a new way of living and eternal life! If you haven’t already done so, choose to apply the blood of Jesus Christ to your life and live your life under its redeeming power.

Apr. 4, 2021

In Luke 7:11-17 we can read about Jesus raising the widow of Nain’s son. The first part of this 7th chapter lets us know that Jesus was in Capernaum. He left Capernaum and went to a town called Nain. In modern times these cities still exist. If they are in the same location as in biblical times, the two towns are about 32.6 miles apart. Possibly taking about 16 hours to walk from the one city to the other. 

Luke 7:11 AMP

11 Soon afterward Jesus went to a city called Nain [near Nazareth], and His disciples and a large crowd accompanied Him. 

Just think about how these people valued spending time with Jesus, listening to His teachings and gaining insight, clarity and peace from His wisdom. This was a sacrifice for many of them to leave whatever was going on in their homes and families to follow the Master. This wasn’t just around the corner. For many of them it was a long, costly trip. In comparison, think about some people you may know who won’t travel across town in a comfortable, nicely equipped vehicle to gather for worship services. The people following Jesus put their lives and vocations and daily activities on hold to be in His presence. If these locations and calculations are correct, this distance would be like walking from here (Springfield) to Xenia and back. That’s just to get to Nain from Capernaum. This large crowd that followed Him considered what they received from Jesus to be a far greater blessing and experience than what they would have gotten by staying home and tending to their normal activities.

 

Their dedication and sacrifices were supremely rewarded. Let’s read on to see what happened.

Luke 7:12 AMP

12 Now as He approached the city gate, a dead man was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her [in the funeral procession]. 

So, there are two large groups of people coming from opposite directions. Jesus and those following Him are on their way to entering the city. The people with the funeral procession are on their way out of the city, heading toward the burial site.

Luke 7:13 AMP

13 When the Lord saw her, He felt [great] compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” 

Jesus was moved with compassion, not for the dead man, but for his mother. There is no indication that Jesus had any acquaintance with the woman or her son prior to this encounter. It wasn’t like He was friends with them like He was with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. His heart and His Spirit told Him how horrific a tragedy this young man’s passing was for his mother. Jesus didn’t poll the crowd, conduct a survey or ask the woman’s neighbors about her station in life. His heart and His spirit told Him that this young man’s death meant a drastic, unpleasant, maybe even unbearable change in circumstances for this dear woman.

Luke 7:14 AMP

14 And He came up and touched the bier [on which the body rested], and the pallbearers stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise [from death]!” 

Jesus didn’t make a big show about it because He was not trying to draw attention to Himself. He also was not about prolonging the agony of the woman. He was about reviving, restoring her life and heart and spirit as quickly and as effortlessly as possible.

This should be the desire and goal of every ministry. Some public figures cannot resist the excitement of a large audience. They move from whatever capacity they should be operating in (ministering, serving, working, helping, etc.) into ‘performance’ mode. Jesus stayed focused on what is important and didn’t deviate from the main objective: make someone’s life better, lighter, freer, richer. And He did just that.

Luke 7:15 AMP

15 The man who was dead sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. 

I wonder what the young man was saying when he was brought back to life! Did he know immediately what had happened? Had he been sick before he died? Or had he suffered a terrible accident and suffered excruciating pain before he died? Had he been delirious with a fever or semi-conscious unaware of his surroundings before he died?

There are so many details not shared with this story. There is a lot about the circumstances that we don’t know. But what we do know is that there are some acute differences between this miracle and the one where Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead.

  1. Jairus’ daughter – Jesus didn’t allow the crowd to go in to the family with Him. With the widow’s son there were two large groups on onlookers. But Jesus didn’t disperse them or send them away or take the mother and her son aside, away from the crowd.
  2. Jairus’ daughter – Jesus put all the mourners out because they expressed unbelief. Unbelief throws cold water on a hot flame. Maybe that is why Jesus never said what He was going to do with the widow’s son before He did it. If He had announced that the young man was merely sleeping, no doubt, many in the crowd would have disputed Jesus’ claim. From this narrative we see that it is sometimes best not to share with others what you are doing or what you intend to do. If they don’t have the vision or the faith they may throw cold water on your enthusiasm, your dream, your faith.
  3. Jairus approached Jesus and asked for Him to come and heal his daughter. Mark 5: 21-23 AMP 21 When Jesus had again crossed over in the boat to the other side [of the sea], a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. 22 One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up; and seeing Him, fell at His feet 23 and begged anxiously with Him, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; [please] come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will be healed and live.”

Evidently Jairus had been looking for Jesus. Jairus was seeking Jesus and asked for His help. There is no indication that the widow of Nain knew who He was. Whether she did or not, she never asked for His help. Jesus was aware of the condition and took it upon Himself to restore.

4. In both instances Jesus spoke comfort to the parent. To the woman He said, “Do not weep” because He was going to cure the cause of her distress. To Jairus He said, “Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing.” This is the point where some people who are in line for a miracle miss it. They put more confidence in the circumstances than in the Lord. At this point both children were dead. But Jesus charges them, through His words, to expect and keep believing for something different than what the circumstances are saying. Whose voice will we believe? We will believe the voice and the report and the Word of the Lord!

5. Mark 5:41 Jesus took the little 12-year old girl firmly by the hand. In the case of the widow’s son< Jesus touched the bier on which He was laying but didn’t touch the man.

6. Jesus spoke to both of the dead ones and told them to get up!

7. Jesus addressed both of the dead ones but not by name because He didn’t know them. To the girl, He said, Little girl” and to the man He said, “Young man.” When we speak to dead things in our lives that we want to see revived and brought back to life, we need to be specific. Call it by name. Jesus was specific. There was no doubt as to who He was speaking to. When He raised Lazarus from the dead, He called him by name. Otherwise all the dead within a certain distance would have heard Him and would have gotten up.

8. Both of the dead ones were physically healed. In neither case are we told the reason for the sickness or illness or accident that caused the death. But we do know that whatever it was, Jesus healed them and they were fully restored to health and wholeness.

9. Both of those who had died responded physically. The girl got up and walked. The man sat up and talked. That sounds like the beginnings of a good Holy Ghost, praising kind of song!!

10. Jesus gave instructions that the girl needed to be given something to eat right away. But He gave no instructions concerning the young man. Jesus simply returned him to His mother. Jesus may have been operating in a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge, probably knowing that the little girl’s body was depleted of energy and nutrients that needed immediate replacement. Perhaps her family was so happy that they would have been hugging her and taking her around to family and friends so all could rejoice with them. They may not have thought about her body needing fuel. The man who was brought back to life was older and he probably would have said on his own, “Mom, I’m hungry!” Or maybe food was already prepared at the home in anticipation of the crowd returning from the burial site. Whatever the situation, Jesus knows and He has everything under His care.

Earlier it was mentioned some about the costs and benefits of following Jesus. Those who follow music groups and rock bands are called “roadies”. Jesus had some. He had some roadies. They followed Him many places, sometimes for long, difficult distances. But when He went to the cross even His closest converts fell away. John was the only one who stayed during the entire ordeal. Peter emphatically professed that even if all these others leave You, Jesus, I never will. But when things got tight, when they got serious Peter was so fearful, angry and frustrated he declared with cussing that he never knew Jesus.

What about us? In our world, in our culture there is more and more opportunity to deny the One who saved us. We are generally bombarded daily with movies, sitcoms, commercials and advertisements, conversations and opinions that reject the Word, the will and the way of the Lord. How closely are we willing to follow Him? And for how long? Until it gets uncomfortable? Until we are shunned by friends and family? Until our sources of income are cut off? Until our privacy is invaded? Until our lives or loved ones are threatened with death and/or dismemberment? How far are we willing to go? What cost are we willing to pay? Those who stayed close to Him were ultimately never disappointed. They may not have understood or appreciated what was happening at the time it was occurring. But in the end they were glad they stayed.

Jairus stuck with Jesus and kept the faith. Because of that he got to have his daughter back. The crowd that walked with Jesus over 32 miles from Capernaum to Nain got to see and experience something they probably had never seen and would never see again: a young man on the way to be buried given his life back. I don’t recall any other time that the Bible records that Jesus went to Nain. Jesus is willing to go the distance just for you and just for me. He did it. He went to the cross to save us from the power and penalty of sin. He did for us what no other person would do or could do.

Even the disciples were richly rewarded later, although most of them took a pause in their time of distress and confusion. Jesus fixed them a good, hot breakfast on the shore to show that there were no hard feelings. He talked with them and assured them that their less-than-courageous actions did not disqualify them from His Love or His Care.

Go the distance with the Lord. Steel yourself, fortify yourself against giving up when things get tuff. Prepare for trouble because, without a doubt, trouble is coming. Fuel your spirit now. Ingest the Word of God now. Spend time with Him in prayer, meditation, in song, in fellowship, in praise and in worship. Talk with Him and listen to Him. Build your spiritual arsenal now. It is late to start gathering ammunition when the enemy is already shooting at you.

Keep walking with the Lord. The rewards are far greater than anything we may sacrifice in this life. What we see now and what we know now is not all there is.  There is so much more to come! Anticipate with Joy and Gladness whatever is next! Go the Distance. The one who endures to the end shall be saved. Not the one who makes a good start or gets halfway to the goal. 

This is the Apostle Paul's testimony. Let every believer endeavor to have this same declaration.

 2 Timothy 4:7-8 KJV

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Feb. 20, 2021

Genesis 1 records that when God created man on the sixth day, everything else was formed and in place. God had already prepared the environment for humanity. God made a world for man that was suitable. It was pleasant, fragrant, visually appealing and comfortable...not too hot, not too cold...just right. Genesis 2 shares more detail about the environment.

Genesis 2:4-6 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

4) Here is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created. On the day when Adonai, God, made earth and heaven, 5) there was as yet no wild bush on the earth, and no wild plant had as yet sprung up; for Adonai, God, had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no one to cultivate the ground. 6) Rather, a mist went up from the earth which watered the entire surface of the ground.

These verses tell us that only what God formed and what He wanted was there. That is not what we deal with today. If a garden is planted today, all kinds of strange vegetation appears that wasn’t planted. Instead of water coming down to water the earth, in Eden a mist went up from the earth. There was nothing in the ground that God didn’t want there so there was no contamination. There wasn’t anything foreign in the ground that would sprout up, run wild, to overgrow what God had planted and take over.

Genesis 2:7-9 (CJB)

7) Then Adonai, God, formed a person [from the dust of the ground  and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living being. 8) Adonai, God, planted a garden toward the east, in ‘Eden, and there he put the person whom he had formed. 9) Out of the ground Adonai, God, caused to grow every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

When God placed Adam in the garden, everything was in order. No weeds. No wild or contrary vines wrapping themselves around good plants and choking the life out of them. We know, that for some reason, if left unchecked, the weeds will always take over the area. It never happens the other way where the productive, orderly plants outgrow and out produce the weeds and choke them out. It just doesn’t happen.

The text seems to suggest that when the earth began to be watered with rain coming down instead of mist going up, some type of contamination occurred. This could be because satan, the fallen angel, is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). It could be that the rain was tainted or contaminated as it passed through the air. As the prince of the power of the air, the enemy had influence in that realm. This is a possible explanation. Another thought is that perhaps it didn’t begin to rain until after Adam and Eve sinned. The ground being cursed was part of the consequence of disobedience or sin. This is recorded in Genesis 3: 17-19.

17) To Adam he said, “Because you listened to what your wife said and ate from the tree about which I gave you the order, ‘You are not to eat from it,’ the ground is cursed on your account; you will work hard to eat from it as long as you live. 18) It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat field plants. 19) You will eat bread by the sweat of your forehead till you return to the ground — for you were taken out of it: you are dust, and you will return to dust.”

 

But going back to chapter 2, before the fall, the point I want to make is that everything was in order.

The only missing element for Adam was a companion. And for Eve nothing was missing. Everything was there. Everything was in place. Everything was functioning as intended.

Genesis 2:18, 21-22

18) Adonai, God, said, “It isn’t good that the person should be alone. I will make for him a companion suitable for helping him.”

21) Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the person; and while he was sleeping, he took one of his ribs and closed up the place from which he took it with flesh. 22) The rib which Adonai, God, had taken from the person, he made a woman-person; and he brought her to the man-person.

God set them in a situation where there was no waiting. Our topic today is “The Purpose of Process” or “The Worth of Waiting”. Adam and Eve didn’t have to wait. Everything was instant and mature. It was immediately ready for use and enjoyment. God told Adam the trees in the garden were good for food and pleasant to the sight (Genesis 2:9). God didn’t tell them, “Now this isn’t the season for squash or cucumbers.” He didn’t tell them they would have to wait six months for oranges. The trees and fruit bearing plants were already mature. Adam and Eve didn’t have a two-year engagement before they could be together. They were husband and wife right away.

Because of this, I believe that ‘Right Now’ beginning formed an expectation in them that has been passed to all of their descendants. This is why it is uncomfortable for us to wait. I don’t want to go through the stages of the process. I would prefer for whatever I am expecting from God, for it to manifest on the spot, right now, no delay. The manner of living that we experience now was not the original plan. Everything was there. Everything was ready. Everything was already in its useful state. They didn’t have to wait for the flower to bloom, the tree to blossom or the fruit to mature. There weren’t any seasons of waiting in order to enjoy what God had provided.

When we reign with the Lord in eternity, that manner of living will be reinstated. What was lost through Adam and Eve’s disobedience will be restored. We will be comfortable again. We won’t be plagued with what is really foreign to who God created us to be. He did not create us to be sick or infirm or distressed or have mood swings or be in pain or suffer discomfort or be mistreated. All of that is foreign to who God made us to be.

But while we are here, we are subject to process and waiting. God doesn’t do anything without purpose. Even though it is generally not what we want to happen, the process has purpose and the wait has worth. They are helpful and valuable to us in this earthly realm.

In studying this topic, eight or nine benefits of waiting seemed to emerge. To help me remember them I am using this acronym: T-UPLOADS.

T is for Time. Time helps us develop Trust. Our hope and confidence in the Lord develop over time. It doesn’t happen all at once. We have to walk with Him awhile. Time offers opportunity for our Faith to grow and mature.

Psalm 27:14 NIV Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

U is for Understanding. Process encourages understanding. We generally have a much better grasp about a thing at the end of it than we did at the beginning. Life, marriage and parenthood are excellent examples.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.

Pride says, “Why should I have to wait?!?” Which leads to the next benefit of the process which is

P for Patience. Impatience is related to pride. Patience or longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit. We see that in Galatians 5:22.

L is for Learning. The Lord wants us to know things. None of us did the best job the first time we did something that required skill and knowledge. Through process, we repeat. Do it again and again. We should get better at it each time. This isn’t only for our own well-being. One reason we learn is so we can help and correctly instruct others.

O is for Obedience. If something is uncomfortable, we are less likely to want to do it. As we obey, it often becomes easier. There are blessings attached to obedience.

Isaiah 1:19 NIV If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;

O can also be for Observation. Some things we learn by watching. It isn’t necessary or advisable to experience everything firsthand. Paying attention to the process can be very helpful: watch what happens, how it happens, what affect is produced or observe the outcome.

Proverbs 12:23 NIV The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.

A is for Appreciation. If something is given to a person too quickly, too easily and too soon, there is little or no appreciation. Kids who get whatever they want, whenever they want, grow up to be unthankful brats. And it isn’t the child’s fault. It is the error of whoever is raising them. Wise parents know that a healthy balance needs to be achieved. God is a wise parent. Our Heavenly Father always does what is best for us.

Proverbs 20:21 An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.

D is for Discipline. Waiting helps develop discipline. It is a sign of maturity. I may want a new household appliance. But rather than taking out a loan or putting the purchase on a credit card so I can have the item right now, it is better to save the money and pay cash for it later. If I can discipline myself to wait, I will have saved so much in interest fees and the item is truly mine. I don’t owe anyone for it.

Proverbs 22:6 NIV Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 12:1 NIV Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.

It is very difficult for a person who has lived life without boundaries to all of a sudden start reigning in their appetites. There will be an internal rebellion and an intense struggle.

S is for Seasons. Through process and waiting there are seasons. Every season of life has benefits although many people prefer one over the others. Concerning natural earth seasons, some people prefer the chill of winter when the earth is quiet and the air is crisp. Others like summer when there is plenty of sun, heat, picnics and warm weather celebrations and activities. Others would choose somewhere in between those extremes. But seasons are important because each one requires something different. We prepare differently. We dress differently. We eat differently. We travel differently. It is important to know how to maneuver successfully in whatever phase of life we are in. Process and waiting are unavoidable aspects of this life.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-4 NIV

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

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Jan. 26, 2021

In Luke 14 (NLT) Jesus makes Seven Significant Evaluations.

  1. In verses 2 thru 6 Jesus does a heart evaluation. Some of those present were more inclined to save an animal they owned than to see a suffering man healed of an uncomfortable and debilitating medical condition.

There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” Again they could not answer.

2. In the next set of verses, 7 thru 11, He measures humility and honor against assumption and arrogance.

When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! 10 “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. 11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

 3. Jesus advised the host about who to invite to these dinners and why in verses 12 thru 14. Jesus is prodding the man to examine his motives and his guest list.

12 Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

 4. Verses 15 thru 24 share a parable that has at least two purposes. One purpose is to illustrate to the host the points that Jesus just explained to him. The second reason for the story is that it models some excuses for refusal and the ultimate cost of rejection. Many are invited to the Lord’s supper. He has made all the necessary provisions. Invitations have been issued. The invited guests have been summoned to respond to the call that the time has come for them to partake of what the Lord has provided. The story reveals that the initial invited guests have more interest in their property, their possessions and people in their lives than they have in what the Lord God has provided and prepared for them. They have refused His grace and His benevolence. Verse 24  ends the story with a sobering, irreversible statement, “For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.” Jesus evaluated priorities with this parable and exposed self-interests.

15 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet[c] in the Kingdom of God!”

16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 

 5. The next couple of verses, 26 and 27, detail and evaluate the qualifications of discipleship. The Lord Jesus must be first in your spirit, mind and heart… period.

26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

6. Verses 28 thru 33 warn the hearers to consider what following the Lord requires and to be resolute about that decision. Don’t be naive about what the determination will require. Make a wise, informed, unrelenting choice. You must be willing to relinquish anything and everything in favor of living completely for the Lord. Those listening are urged to assess the value and costs of loyalty and commitment.

28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

31 “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? 32 And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. 33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

7. Verses 34 thru 35 discern and discuss spiritual significance.

34 “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? 35 Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

  This cannot be ‘taken away’. If a person no longer has spiritual significance, it is because they ‘let it go’. When this happens it is a very serious matter for at least four reasons.

a)   They cease to be usable in the Kingdom of God. Not being usable means the ability they had to make a difference is gone.

b)   Spiritual significance enables you to be useful in the Lord’s Kingdom. Once that influence is gone you no longer have the capacity to accomplish that for which you were created. You were designed to fulfill specific, God-ordained purposes.

c)    Letting go of your spiritual significance means you are no longer desirable. You are no longer wanted by those who need what you previously had to offer.

d)   The absence of spiritual significance means you are not necessary. With spiritual significance you are essential to the plan of God. Without it, you are in the way. Without it, there is no reason for you to be present. [Luke 13:6-7]

There is a television commercial where the person in the room isn’t noticeable because they are wearing the same pattern of clothing as the wallpaper they are standing in front of. The person appears bland, nearly undetected, camouflaged, they blend in with what is already there. Don’t blend in with the ways of the world. Identify your spiritual significance, develop and maintain it. Thank God for who He made you to be. Consider these Seven Significant Evaluations in your own life. Be wise. Be committed.

 Thank you for reading. Be Blessed!

Dec. 19, 2020

Ever since there have been people there have been varying opinions. With the increase in technology, we are, more than ever before, bombarded with people’s opinions: on social media platforms…which seem endless, on the news streams, on tv and radio talk shows, in-person conversations, magazines and newspapers. It just goes on and on. Many of those offering their view of things are doing so in an attempt to persuade others to see things the same way they do. Their objective is to sway public opinion. In this country we have recently been through this with all the political ads used to slam the reputations of the opponents. For most people, this excessive expression of opinion gets to be too much. Unless a person is prone to studying each issue for themselves, it is also confusing. We don’t know who to believe or who to trust.

We all have the opportunity every day to form opinions, to choose sides. Every day, multiple times a day, different industries are trying to get us to choose. Charmin wants to be chosen over Angel Soft. Spectrum wants to be chosen over Direct TV. T-Mobil wants to be chosen over Cricket. Birdseye wants to be chosen over Swanson, Banquet, Healthy Choice and Sara Lee.

We have many, many choices. We choose every day. Whose coffee do I want this morning? McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Tim Horton, Speedway, Keurig, Folgers, Maxwell House? The possibilities are endless. Many of the choices we make don’t have lasting consequences. But some do!

In our choosing, one choice has eternal consequences. We either choose the God Side or not. Just like our consumption choices are made multiple times not only in a day, but in a lifetime…our opportunities to choose the Lord are also made many, many times in a lifetime. We choose to please Him or not. We choose to obey Him or not. We choose to speak His heart or not. We choose to avoid ungodly environments and activities or not.

Every time we choose Him, our perspective is affected. Each time we choose to do things His way, without compromise, He reveals more of His perspective. His way of viewing things gives us a broader, deeper and wiser insight.

These are three biblical examples of the view from the God Side of a situation versus the other side.

Genesis 14:13-20 AMP

13 Then Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid! Take your stand [be firm and confident and undismayed] and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for those Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you [only need to] keep silent and remain calm.”

15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to move forward [toward the sea]. 16 As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, so that the sons of Israel may go through the middle of the sea on dry land. 17 As for Me, hear this: I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will go in [the sea] after them; and I will be glorified and honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and his war-chariots and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know [without any doubt] and acknowledge that I am the Lord, when I am glorified and honored through Pharaoh, through his war-chariots and his charioteers.”

19 The [c]angel of God, who had been going in front of the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them. The pillar of the cloud moved from in front and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. It was a cloud along with darkness [even by day to the Egyptians], but it gave light by night [to the Israelites]; so one [army] did not come near the other all night.

One observation about this event is that all the participants were in the same geographical location. They were all in the same area, the same land. One group wasn’t high up on a hill or mountain while the other was in a deep ravine or valley. The land was the same. The weather was the same. It wasn’t snowing over one group and bright sunshine with 80-degree temperatures over the other group. Same weather, same land but very different perspectives because one group was on the God Side and the other group wasn’t. The same cloud stood between the two groups. For the Hebrews that cloud was the Presence and protection of God. The cloud gave them light, help and hope. But on the other side, on the Egyptian side, that cloud was a barrier. It was a cloud of darkness to the Egyptians which prevented them from moving forward. The Egyptians couldn’t see. There weren’t any streetlights, no flashlights, no illuminations from cell phones, no cigarette lighters. They couldn’t see! Therefore, they couldn’t function. They couldn’t pursue and they couldn’t attack. All they could do was be still. The cloud prevented the Egyptians but it protected the Hebrews. Same cloud but a totally different perspective. It is always a blessing to be on the God Side.

The second biblical example is another very familiar occurrence in Jewish history.

Numbers 13: 1-2, 17-20, 23-33 This is what the unbelievers saw and said.

Joshua and Caleb believed God. This is what those who trusted God said. Numbers 14:7-9

Most of us know this story very well. All 12 scouts saw the same things. But two of them had vastly different perspectives than the 10. They all agreed that the land was luscious and bountiful and would be a wonderful place to live. But 10 of them looked at the challenges and had more confidence in the obstacles than in God, the One who sent them! But two of them, Joshua and Caleb perceived the entire scene very differently. Whose report will you believe? We will believe the report of the Lord! His report says that we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us! All 12 scouts were given the same assignment (Num. 13:17-20). All 12 traversed the same land. All 12 had the same 40 days to form an opinion. Forty in the bible is a time of testing. They all had the opportunity to exercise their faith, to build and strengthen it. They could have said, “WOW!! The Lord God has given ALL THIS to us!!!!!” But instead 10 of them said, “We are too weak to claim what God promised. It looks good over there. The land flows with milk and honey. But we are too small to possess it.”

Joshua and Caleb adopted God’s perspective. The others let the challenges influence their view even more than the produce and the fruitfulness they were holding in their hands. The evidence of God’s faithfulness was in their hands. They were holding the grapes, the figs and the pomegranates. God allowed them to actually taste the evidence of His goodness. They were eating and ingesting the good of the land the whole time they were there. They were taking in all of the abundance through all of their five senses. But 10 of them listened to fear. They believed fear. They trusted fear. They let one tactic of the enemy, fear, speak to them and crush the godly view. And because of their unbelief, they all died not receiving the promise. Only the believers, the ones who stayed on God’s Side in their thoughts, beliefs and actions experienced God’s promise.

The third biblical example is the cross of Christ. Those who observed Jesus on the cross counted it as a dismal and utter failure. But Jesus, the only One who had the Father’s perspective knew and saw the cross as the ultimate victory over sin and satan.

Mark 8:27 – 33 

This exchange reveals that Peter does not have the Lord’s perspective. Peter and all the other disciples only have a partial view of the truth. These followers have some understanding. Peter just expressed that he knows who Jesus really is. He just stated in Mark 8:29, “You are the Christ!” Peter’s declaration insists that he knows for certain, without any doubt, that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus is the Anointed One that they have been expecting.

But just a few verses later it is shown that even though Peter knows who Jesus is, Peter does not know the plan of God. God’s plan to redeem humanity from the power and penalty of sin through the precious blood of Jesus is not known to Peter yet. These disciples were on the God Side as long as it looked like the God Side agreed with what they expected to happen. They expected a different kind of victory. A different kind of bloodshed. Peter whipped out his sword when the soldiers approached Jesus in the garden and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. (John 18:10) But that kind of bloodshed was not reflective of the plan of the Father.

Just as in the other examples we have discussed, all the disciples shared the same experiences with Jesus. But Judas, the betrayer had a totally different mindset than the rest of the disciples. At some point he decided not to be on the God Side. He went completely to the dark side. Peter and the others thought they were on the God Side until the cross loomed large before them. They all saw the cross as a place of despair and defeat.

 Before going to the cross Jesus shared many truths with them. He is wanting to change their perspective. He wants to help them to see as He sees but He knows they won’t really understand until they are all on the other side of the cross. They won’t perceive what it really means to be on the God Side until some time after the resurrection.

John 14:1 Jesus says to them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled…”. He has just told them some things that sound like the complete opposite of victory and they are distressed and disturbed. They may be wondering if they chose the right side.

John 14:27 Jesus said again, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled].

These are their thoughts and feelings on the ‘before’ side of the cross. Jesus knew they were confused and afraid and ready to hightail it out of there. Jesus challenges their fears and doubts and directly addresses their narrow perspective.

John 14:28-29 AMP You heard Me tell you, I am going away and I am coming [back] to you. If you [really] loved me, you would have been glad, because I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater and mightier than I am.

And now I have told you [this] before it occurs, so that when it does take place you may believe and have faith in and rely on Me.

Jesus knows exactly where they are. Similar to the Egyptians, the disciples are on the dark side of the cross. They are confused and afraid. But He, Jesus, is sharing all the information and truth of the Spirit of God to completely change their perspective. If they would and could believe all that He was saying, they would adopt His perspective, get a fuller view of what was happening and why. And they would move from fear and faithlessness to the God Side of the cross. If they could understand what was being shared with them, they would be moved from the dark side of doubt and depression to the glorious, victorious side of light and everlasting life!

Jesus keeps addressing their emotions and rattling their mindsets.

John 16: 5-7 AMP

But now I am going to Him who sent Me, yet none of you asks Me, Where are You going?

But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts [taken complete possession of them].

However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you].

Jesus knew the joy that was on the other side of the cross. Even though His disciples could not imagine how all that He was saying could bring them peace and happiness if Jesus had to die for it all to happen. How could it be?

In the previous examples when the Hebrews faced the Red Sea with the Egyptians hot behind them they could not see (s-e-e) that God rules the sea (s-e-a) and the wind and everything else in the universe! He can keep the enemy off of your heels.

In the case of Joshua and Caleb, the 10 scouts or spies could not see how God could give them the victory in the promised land. They were too focused on the challenges and obstacles instead of believing, trusting and relying on God.

What we reviewed in John, concerning the cross, shows that the disciples were too focused on what they were losing: the physical presence of Jesus. They wouldn’t or couldn’t or just didn’t absorb the fact that the next phase of their journey would be a far richer experience. The presence of God would not just be with them physically but He would dwell in them, taking up residence in them permanently!

God wants us to have, to possess His perspective. When we do, at least five things will happen. 1) Your expectations will change. You will expect more because you will see that God can and will and does do more for those who look for Him to move on their behalf. 2) Gaining the Lord’s perspective will put you at odds with others. Even other professing believers will not see the Lord and His ways the same way that you do. 3)You will remain calm in a crisis. While other people are running around shouting, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” you will not be shaken because you know that God has you and He is in total control. 4) Your faith will grow (get bigger), develop (become more defined and all encompassing) and your faith will become super strong (able to leap over large resisters in a single bound)! 5) You will be separated from others in thought, word and deed. The way you think, speak and act will change. Those changes will set you apart from other people…even believers.

Our charge is to be on the God Side and stay there. It is the absolute best place to be!