THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”, Part 39

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 39

“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice”

 “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. ’For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” – The Words of Jesus, Matthew 9:12-13

Next to the Great Commission, issued by Jesus before His ascension, (Matthew 28:18-20), this is Jesus’ greatest call and model for witnessing and evangelism.

Jesus is clearly saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.(Jesus is the great Physician).

 (“Sick” from the Greek, kakos, means to be amiss, badly, grievously; bad or evil, in the widest sense. “Inner malice”; inwardly foul, rotten (poisoned); inner malice flowing out of a morally-rotten character, (the “rot is already in the wood”), meaning, “wickedness, inner evil.”

 Many illnesses and diseases can be traced to their origins of “kakos”. This sickness can and does manifest as physical and mental illnesses if left spiritually untreated.

However, the postmodern church has increasingly turned inward, ministering almost exclusively to those claiming to already be righteous, rather than ‘going out and making disciples.”

JESUS GOES TO THOSE WHO WERE ‘SICK’

Jesus went about all the towns, cities and countryside preaching and teaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. His fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. (See Matthew 4:23-25)

JESUS SENDS HIS DISCIPLES TO THOSE WHO WERE ‘SICK’

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;  Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

In the middle of His instructions, Jesus says, Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’

In these few words, Jesus condemns the religious humanism and false ritual piety being practiced in so many churches and synagogues.

Hosea 6:6 reads, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, knowing God rather than burnt offerings.”  Why does God desire love and knowledge of Him instead of burnt offerings? The key to answering this question is found in the words of the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD, is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Love for God was the number-one priority for the people of Israel. The whole Law, including the offerings and sacrifices, was to serve as an expression of this love for the Lord.

However, over time, the Israelites began to worship other gods while continuing the ritual of the sacrifices. They “obeyed the Law,” yet they did not display love toward God, and they did not truly know Him. Hosea’s message was a response to Israel’s hypocrisy. God desired their love over external practices of piety. He longed for His people to long for Him rather than simply continue a religious tradition.

Scripture often notes that sacrifices to God are incomplete and even offensive without a changed heart that loves and knows the Lord. First Samuel 15:22 says, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (See also Isaiah 1:11-17; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8 and Matthew 7:21-23.) The same is said of other religious rituals, such as circumcision (Romans 2:28-29).

Jesus would later use Hosea’s teaching against the hypocritical Pharisees, saying, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13; cf. 12:7). Without a loving relationship with God, all the rituals in the world couldn’t help the Pharisees. (GotQuestions.Org)

JOB’S RELIGIOUS PIETY

Like in the case of Job, who was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil, and was the greatest of all the people of the east,” Job’s practice of religious piety did not save him.

His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus, Job did continually.”

Then one day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (See Job chapter 1).

WHERE ARE YOU?

Many religious people participate in Christian rituals, yet their hearts do not love God and seek to know Him. Those who practice empty rituals should heed Hosea’s words. God cares more about our heart’s love for Him than the things that we do in His name. We must not substitute religious traditions for a relationship with God. Let’s pray that we may never be like those whom Jesus described: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mark 7:6). (GotQuestions.Org)

JESUS IS CALLING YOU

Finally, Jesus says, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  This is your calling also.

  1. There are some things Jesus told us to BE.
  2. There are some things He told us to HAVE.
  3. Then, there are the things He told us to DO. Please don’t be confused, they are not the same thing.

What we are told to BE and what we are told to HAVE should lead us to DO the things He told us to DO.

Example:

YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY. (The indwelling Christ makes us holy. It is not something we can DO on our own.)

You shall BE My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”  (The indwelling Holy Spirit makes us witnesses. It is not something we can DO on our own.)

HAVE faith and Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. (When Jesus is the object of our faith, it is Jesus who does these works through us. It is not something we can DO on our own.)

FOLLOW ME and I will make you fishers of men. (Now, this is something we DO when we are drawn to the living God. This is something we can and must DO.)

If you DO these things, you shall never fall; give diligence to make your calling and election sure:  (This is something we DO when we are drawn to the living God. This is something we must DO.)

Jesus is asking, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not DO what I tell you?

I talk with so many Christians who resist witnessing Jesus to others. They have their excuses, and they say they have ‘alternate ways’ of witnessing, but they are not doing what Jesus has told them to do!

Here is what Jesus said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you”.

 Again, Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses (martus = martyr), both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”

We call on the name of the Lord in prayer, making many requests which have little to do with what He requires of His disciples. Yet, He is faithful.

You ask God for something and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives or out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda, so that when you get what you want you may spend it on your selfish desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

He has told us He will provide all we need as we first seek Him and His Kingdom. He has told us we have overcome this world. Yet, we desire, even crave the things of this world, so we straddle the fences of earthly desires and the Kingdom of Heaven.

Many make excuses, but few have reasons. One day all of us will be called to explain why we called Him “Lord, Lord, but did not do what He has told us”.

Dear Loved Ones, listen to me.  Those who are well have no need of a physician. Bring Me those who are sick.

Now, go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. ’For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

My enduring love to you. –  Jesus.

 

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

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THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, “Your sins are forgiven”, Part 38

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 38

“Your sins are forgiven”

 “And getting into a boat, he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,

“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

“And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said,

“Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic —“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”

And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” – The Words of Jesus, Matthew 9:1-7.

The paralytic in this account is a real man, lying on a real bed. He is representative of “every man” and “every woman”, for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Ours beds are the beds of sickness, disease, infirmity, lack, want and death that come from our sin.

Jesus is speaking words of healing, health and life to you, this very moment. It does not matter how simple or how dreadful your condition. No matter the desperation of your situation, no matter how far you may have fallen, how remote your rescue and restoration may seem or how impossible your circumstances appear, your salvation is now at hand.

If you are willing, you will be made well, made whole, made safe and made healthy. It begins, as the Bible says, ‘in a twinkling of an eye’ and you will continue to improve over your lifetime. You will be saved.

You will become well, whole, safe and healthy in your relationships.

You will become well, whole, safe and healthy in your family, with your spouse and your children.

You will become well, whole, safe and healthy in your career, with your employment and co-workers.

You will become well, whole, safe and healthy in your finances and all your wealth.

You will become well, whole, safe and healthy in your mind, will, emotions, body and spirit.

Take in these Words of Jesus and of the Bible and make them your own. They are the flesh and blood of Christ. ‘Eat them’ by taking them into your heart, your soul and your mind, ‘chew on them’, meditate on them, absorb them into your spirit, and become whole!

First, please don’t overlook the significance of these few words: “When Jesus saw their faith”.  Jesus was moved and spoke Creative words, Causative words, Prophetic words and Instructional words when He saw their faith.

Let me say it again: faith moves God to speak. Jesus was moved by their faith, and He spoke prophetic, creative, causative and instructional words into the life of this paralytic, Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus will be moved by your faith.

Secondly, it is important to understand the true meaning and definition of ‘sin’.  From the Greek word, ‘hamartía’, meaning ‘not taking a part in or a share of’ creating a loss or a forfeiture because of not hitting the target; missing the mark. This comes from self-willed behavior.

Interestingly, in old England, during archery competition, when an archer would miss the target completely, the judge would shout, “SIN”, because the archer missed the target. Likewise, when we miss the target of God’s Righteousness and of God’s standards, we sin, and we miss out, we suffer loss of God’s presence and provision by forfeiture.

In the foregoing illustration, the archer has no recourse except to ‘suffer the loss’, sharpen his or her aim and try again.

In our case, however, as Christians, we have recourse. We can call on our advocate, Jesus Christ, by confessing our ‘sins’ and by pleading our case to Him, our loss is reversed. Jesus suffers our loss as His own, and we are given a renewed life. We are restored and ‘shoot our arrows again toward the heart of the target’.

Hebrew 11:1-3, correctly instructs us that the “Faith that (restores us) is the assurance, the absolute certainty, the title deed, a rock-solid confirmation of things hoped for, of things anticipated and expected by divine guarantee; this faith is proof-positive evidence of things not yet seen and the conviction of their reality; the comprehension as fact of  what cannot be first experienced by the physical senses. For by this kind of faith the men of old gained divine approval.

“It is by the faith that comes from an inherent trust, an enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God, that we understand that the worlds, the universe, the cosmos of all the  ages were framed, formed, created put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose by the word of God, so that what is now visible was not made out of things which are visible.”

This is the faith has no conclusion and no end. It is building and growing and enduring through all the ages until the end of time.

Thirdly, the outcome of this kind of faith is visible. It brings both amazement and fear to the hearts and minds of men and women, and it brings glory to God. “When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”

“Do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary.” (Isaiah 8:12-13)

Finally, it is by this kind of faith that God grants authority to men and women; not to do works by and of themselves, but as living sacrifices, living instruments through which and by which God does His Works.

This faith is the reason God is saying to you, this day, “Take heart, my son (or daughter); your sins are forgiven.”

And behold, even in our day and time, some of our ‘scribes’, men and women, say “this man (Jesus) is blaspheming by the way they stand in judgment on His Works and His Words”.  

They call themselves interpreters, theologians, and teachers, educated in religious laws and doctrines, and in the sacred writings of the Bible, posturing with their lineage, educational degrees given by men.

Just like the Scribes of Jesus’ day, these modern day ‘Scribes’ say they examine the more difficult and subtle questions of the law; but they add to the law opinions of various kinds thought to elucidate its meaning and scope, to the detriment of The Gospel.

But Jesus, knows their thoughts, and He said then, and He continues to say today,

“Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”.

Jesus is saying to you, this day and at this moment: “Take heart, my son       (your name here)      or my daughter   (your name here)    ; your sins are forgiven.”  Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”

Let’s humbly submit to God and live!

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

PREVIOUS:   THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? , Oh, you of little faith…” Part 37.

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THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, “Foxes have holes”, Part 36

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 35

“Foxes have holes”

“And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  “Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

The Words of Jesus, Matthew 8:20-22.

This is one of the more misunderstood and mysterious of Jesus’ instructions. It seems out of place and a bit callous at first glance, and unless you gain its wisdom, you might well be left behind.

In its fuller context, begin reading in verse eighteen,

“Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea. Then a scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”

That is an odd thing to say to someone who wants to follow you, isn’t it?  What does Jesus mean?

A scribe in the Bible, was a man learned in the Mosaic law and in the sacred writings, an interpreter, teacher. Scribes examined the more difficult and subtle questions of the law; added to the Mosaic law decisions of various kinds thought to elucidate its meaning and scope, and did this to the detriment of religion.

 Scribes were trained and enrolled in the Sanhedrin political and judicial council headed by the high priest (in his role as civil ruler); in the Talmud it is described as primarily a religious legislative body headed by sages, though with certain political and judicial functions. (notes from the Online Bible edition)

So, Jesus tells this Scribe, this judge and sage, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Foxes retreat to the safety of their lair.  They live and remain in their holes, venturing out only to gather food and water, then they scurry back to the safety of the hole.  Their focus is on their hole in the ground.

Same for the birds.  They have the nest they build to lay eggs and raise their young.  A safe place.  They, too, venture out for food, but their focus is on the safety of a nest.

BUILDING HIS CHURCH

Jesus, however, is on mission.  He knows that He is the permanent sacrifice for the reconciliation of all people to God.  He is doing the work of His Father.  Time is short.

He is telling this scribe and His disciples that He has neither the time nor the intention of settling into a “hole in the ground” or building “a nest” into which they can settle down and feel safe.

He has no time for building programs, no time for social programs, no time for endless debate over the ‘cummin and dill’ of the Torah or the endless list of man’s constructs designed to explain and contain the Holy Scriptures.  No time for holes in the ground or nests.

Jesus is saying that He is the foundation of His Church, and He is on the move, building His Church.   He is the foundation for Temple of the Holy Spirit in the hearts, minds and souls of people.

His Church is Spiritually alive, organic and naturally fluid and on the move; It cannot be contained by a program or an institution. It is powerful, transformative, life changing, world altering and cannot be taught in a school on religion.

If you come to know Jesus, you will know His Church, and it is not to be found in a building, a hole in the ground or a nest.

THE CHURCH WAS, AND IS, A MOVEMENT

In A.D. 1, The Church of Jesus Christ, The Body of Christ, had no buildings, little money and no wealth. The Church was a Movement.

Jesus said to make disciples; collect no money except to make your journey.

Although the penalty for becoming a Christian was often death, the early Church grew exponentially.

Then, men became disobedient and proudly began to ‘cast their own vision’ for Jesus’ Church and

THE CHURCH BECAME A PHILOSOPHY

Then, by A.D. 49, The Church expanded into Greece. The Church became a philosophy to many. The Church grew and size and influence, and

THE CHURCH BECAME AN INSTITUTION

By A.D. 313, the Church expanded into Rome and it gained recognition. It grew in power and popularity. It obtained wealth, buildings, property and influence. It became an institution and

THE CHURCH BECAME A CULTURE

In A,D, 380, the Church expanded into Europe. It was becoming a worldwide phenomenon. It grew in wealth, stature, power and influence. It had become a culture, and

THE CHURCH BECAME A BUSINESS

A.D. 1607, the Church reaches America, and

By A.D. 1681, the Church became corporate. It had become a business and incorporated. It became regulated by the government.

The Corporate Church grew. It needed money to support growth and expansion, which meant the Corporate Church needed more people.

By A.D. 1777, with the best of intentions, the state of Virginia granted tax exemption to houses of worship, thereby slipping a governmental tax-noose around the neck of the church.

Then, by A.D. 1894, the corporate church was granted tax exemptions by the Federal Government and by

A.D. 1954, the Federal Government regulated what a church could and could not say in order to retain tax-exempt status.

The church worked to grow numerically, and in order to attract more people, the Corporate Church lowered its membership and doctrinal standards. More people became ‘members’ and gave more money to support more growth.

“The Church Incorporated” was complete with leaders, boards and membership and a business model.

Local churches began to compete against one another for members (customers). The church is selling itself in “three-line slogans”.

The Church members now have choices and have become religious consumers. Church people can shop around for the religious brand and standards that best suits them. (see 2 Timothy 3).

The Leadership (pastors and preachers) have become CEOs, disciples have become church leaders, growing their 501(c)(3) business models. The great apostasy is under way.

Church scandals fill media headlines. Record numbers of pastors quitting because of stress, burnout or are being fired by their congregations for misdeeds moral failures or low achievement. (some stats say 1500 – 1700 leave “the ministry” each month).

Church debt in America soars; church foreclosures soar.

A.D. 1968, The church ordains homosexuals as clergy.

A.D. 1972, The United church of Christ ordains homosexual clergy

A.D. 2010, The Lutheran church ordains homosexual clergy

A.D. 2012, The Presbyterian church ordains homosexual clergy

The Episcopal Church in the United States and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have also allowed ordination of openly gay and lesbian candidates for ministry for some years.

Internationally, churches that have ordained openly lesbian or gay clergy include the Church of Scotland, the Church of England, the Church in Wales, the Church of Sweden, the Church of Norway, the Church of Denmark, the Church of Iceland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the Evangelical Church in Germany, the Methodist Church in Britain, the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, the United Protestant Church in Belgium, the Swiss Reformed Church, the United Protestant Church of France, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Anglican Church in Canada, the Old Catholic Church, the Czechoslovak Hussite Church and the United Church of Christ in Japan.

AD 2020 The church is losing and has lost influence. The church in 2020 is losing members.

AD 2020 The church is teaching and living a different Gospel than that of the Apostles.

THE AGE OF APOSTASY IS WELL UNDER WAY

We, The Remnant Church, The Body of Christ, You and I, must return to Jesus. The time of His return is very near. We must found be doing what He has said, doing the Works of Jesus.

Your Brother and Co-Laborer,

Mike Young

The False Church Emerges

NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, “Oh, you of little faith”, Part 37

PREVIOUS:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, “I will come and heal him”, Part 35

THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, “I will come and heal him”, Part 35

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 35

“I will come and heal him”

“When He had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, Do this,’ and he does it.”

“Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.”

The Words of Jesus, Matthew 8:5-13.

Just for the interest of it, the name “Capernaum” comes from two Hebrew words, ‘kaphar’, meaning city and ‘Nachuwm‘ meaning an Israelite prophet. This word is creative, causative, prophetic and instructional. It would serve us all well to read, hear, understand and to do it.

Jesus, the supreme prophet of Israel, entered the city, and a centurion, ‘a captain of one hundred men’, a man of authority, came forward to Jesus and appealed, saying only, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” This is what we know from what scriptures say. The centurion asking for help and healing is implied, but not stated.

Jesus’ next words were not prompted by the centurion’s formality or accuracy of his request. Jesus knows, and He says, “I will come and heal him”.

There is no evidence that this centurion is a disciple of Jesus, and in fact all the information we have says he is not. But this man, a man of authority, comes to Jesus and submits himself in humility, and with his mouth confess that Jesus is “Lord”. He then confesses in faith the assurance, the title deed confirmation of the thing he hopes for, which is divinely guaranteed, knowing that faith is the evidence of things not yet seen, and is the conviction of their reality. This centurion’s faith comprehended as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses. ( see Hebrews 11:1-3)

He did not utter ‘that small little prayer’ we hear about at the end of so many church services, and then go on about his life. This man confessed with his mouth what he believed in his heart and was saved at that moment in that day. (see Roman 10:8-13)

Have you ever considered that God would be amazed at anything? Or perhaps ‘amazed’ is the wrong word here. Jesus says, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.”  This is a statement of monumental significance.

Carefully consider the next words of Jesus, ” I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

NOTE Romans 11:20-21: “They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.”

And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.”

This centurion did not have faith in the authority of Jesus. His faith was not in healing. Although, he believed these things were possible, his faith was rooted, grounded and built up in Jesus and in Him alone!

Dear brothers and sisters, let’s keep our perspectives and priorities right: Jesus, first, last and always, then these other things are added!

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, “Foxes have holes…”.

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PS: I remember, as a young boy, watching the older kids do acrobatic dives off a high-diving board. It looked thrilling and I wanted to try.

The first time, it was difficult to even climb the 10-foot ladder to the diving board. I had no confidence. I had to start the climb and come back down the ladder several times. I was getting discouraged, wondering if I could ever make it to the top and stand at that dizzying height.

It took the encouragement and chiding of my friends to simply climb the ladder.  Those same friends helped me muster the courage to finally jump off the end of the board. I was secretly praying that I didn’t die when I hit the water. But what a thrill!

Time after time I would climb the board and jump. The height was less intimidating each time, but the thrill was diminished over time. The time had come to dive in head first from 10 feet in the air! With that, the thrill returned.

After weeks of climbing and diving, my confidence and my courage grew. The time for acrobatics had arrived. First, a ‘jack-knife’ dive. Then, a single flip, followed later by a ‘one and a half’ dive and eventually a full array of flips and dives. The thrill and the challenge was back. I began to wonder if any and all dives were possible for me?

This may be a weak illustration of faith, but in some ways reminds me of the path to practicing and building our faith in Jesus. It is then that ‘all things are possible in God. (see Matthew 19:26)

THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, “I will; be clean”, Part 34

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 34

“I will; be clean.”

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean. And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” – The Words of Jesus, Matthew 8:1-4.

Imagine this scene with me, if you will: When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of people? Such an audience, full of questions, anticipation and perhaps, excitement.

And a leper came up to Him in this throng of perhaps thousands of people,  and bowed down before Him. Most likely, no one noticed at first. No one except Jesus. And, if anyone had noticed, they would have been, no doubt, terrified and repelled by this man’s disease.

The leper spoke, “Lord, if You are willing, You are able to make me clean (well).” Again, how could he have been heard above the crowd noise? Nonetheless, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him. He touched him despite the disease, despite the potential reaction from the crowd, and said, “I am willing; be cleansed.”

Immediately, his leprosy was cleansed.

There are many more millions who claim to be Christ followers, Christians, and deny that these things happen any longer. I have personally heard those who attend church regularly and open declare they are Christians, say these miracles have ceased, “ with no Biblical justification. They say that Jesus did these things to draw crowds, and since He has been crucified and His Church established, these things (miracles) are no longer necessary”, or so they say. And, by the words of their mouth, it has come to pass – at least in their presence.

Jesus said the reason miracles had ceased or slowed, or that even He could do few things in some places, was because of their “unbelief’ (see Matthew 17:20 and Mark 6:1-6 ).

Imagine, at any time, anyone standing in judgement on Jesus’ ability or standing in judgement on the veracity of the Holy Scriptures. A terrifying thought.

Nonetheless, Jesus said to the now-cleansed-leper,See that you tell no one [about this]; but go, show yourself to the priest [for inspection] and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony (evidence) to them [of your healing].”

This man is restored physically, undoubtedly renewed spiritually and ready to be reintegrated into society. Made whole, made safe, healed; the very definition of ‘to be saved’ (sozo).

Finally, what about the crowd? Where have they gone? They aren’t mentioned again. They must still have been there, watching. Our attention is drawn away from the crowed and what they think. It doesn’t matter. The business at hand is Jesus healing a person in need. That is what matters. That is all that has ever mattered. You and Jesus, renewing your spirit, saving your soul, healing your mind, body and spirit.

If He calls you, come to Him. If you come to Him, ignore the crowds – they are just a curious distraction. Follow Jesus, only.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

NEXT: THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, “I will come and heal him…”

PREVIOUS: NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, “Build your house on the Rock…”

A seminary professor recently remarked that in his 40-something years in ministry as a pastor, teacher and professor, training young men and women for ministry, he has never seen such a dearth of young men desiring to become pastors. He attributes this decline to the complexities of requirements, the mounting pressures of becoming more than a pastor to be a pastor and fear; the fear of having to say things that society is becoming increasingly hostile toward. The fear of speaking Biblical truth that results in rejection, animosity and isolation from society at large and even in the church, in part.

TO ASPIRING PASTORS:  Don’t come if you are not called. If you are fearful of what you will have to say, don’t come.

If you do come, fear not! And, don’t let the crowds rule you – they are just a curious distraction. Follow Jesus, alone.

THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? “I Never Knew You”, Part 32

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 32

“I Never Knew You”

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’The Words of Jesus, Matthew 7:21-23

This is a continuation of the thoughts and teaching of the preceding verses, which warn against false prophets. Jesus now expands His warning to include “everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, but do does not do the will of My Father who is in heaven.”

Consider the gravity of what Jesus is saying. On the one hand, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). Now, He says, “depart from me, you workers of lawlessness”?

This ‘lawlessness’ is disobedience to the Word of God which God considers a gross injustice, immorality, corruption and sin.

(The old question then arises, ‘was that person ever really saved’ or did they ‘lose their salvation’? Let me say this clearly: It does not matter what came before. It only matters that they are being cast out.)

Secondly, take careful notice that, ”On that day many will say to me…” To use a colloquial expression, ‘there will be a shockwave of surprise and disbelief’ when we get to heaven to see how many did not make it! Just make sure you are among the many who are not there.

The final exclamatory point is that ‘your works will not earn you a place in heaven’. No amount of good deeds, prophecy or casting out of demons will get you (or keep you?) saved.

Let’s all, please consider these things:

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, [k]sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (See Galatians 5:16-21.)

KEY POINTS:

  • These things keep you from doing the things you want to do.
  • Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous–being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED [in his expectations]. (See Romans 8:10-11)

KEY POINTS:

  • Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
  • Believe in your heart that God raised Him from the Dead.

“Then, Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. (See Matthew 16:24)

KEY POINTS:

  • Deny yourself and take up His cross.

“But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.

If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage–our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another”. (See Galatians 5:22-26)

KEY POINTS:

  • We must walk by the Holy Spirit.

Let’s pray for and encourage one another to follow and obey Jesus.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

PREVIOUS:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? “Beware of False Prophets”, Part 31

NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, Build Your House on the Rock”, Part 33

THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? “Beware of False Prophets”, Part 31

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 31

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, you will recognize them by their fruits.” – The Words of Jesus, Matthew 7:15-20.

Pseudoprophḗtēs – False Prophets. Someone pretending to speak the word of the Lord (prophesy) but in fact is a phony, an imposter, acting as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, specializing in “the art of misimpression,” like about how they were “commissioned” by the Lord to touch the world with their message. But when in fact, they operate by self and for self, so they must be exposed for what they are – and are not! (Strong’s Concordance).

 Another example of warnings against false prophets, found in Matthew 24:4-5, is when His disciples asked Him about the end of the age and the sign of His coming. Interestingly, before He answered their questions, Jesus issues this warning: Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” Matthew 24:4-5.

So, what’s the big deal? Why is this so important? After all, “once saved, always saved”, right?

This is a warning against ‘roaming from safety, truth, or virtue; against being led astray, being seduced to wander’. This comes from the Greek word “deceive” or “deceived”.

First, Jesus is specifically instructing and warning His disciples.  Jesus is telling them (and us), in Matthew 7:15-20, that false prophets will appear among up in disguise, as ‘in sheep’s clothing’, a reference perhaps to appearing gentle and more likely appearing to be one of you – Jesus’ disciples. But inwardly, they are ravenous wolves.

A ravenous wolf is an angry predator, hungry to devour its prey. His or her nourishment is your destruction and the subjugation of the Gospel. Beware.

Jesus then instructs that You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”

This is simple to read and easy to understand. The problem comes once you are ‘under the spell’ of a false prophet. It is hard to break away. It is hard to leave the ‘other sheep’ or friends you have made in that fellowship. But all are in danger, and you must listen to these words of Jesus and follow them.

I cannot recount all the times I have experienced or seen, what appeared to be a good man, a pastor, after years of ministry, finally reveal that he was inwardly a ravenous wolf. He had been stalking, planning, and preparing his prey for years, and now he strikes, leaving broken lives, broken souls scattered around ‘his church’.

More grievously, I have witnessed hundreds and hundreds of faithful Christians’ lives and souls devastated as they fell prey to these men and women who are inwardly wild, dog-like, spiritual carnivores. I heard one woman in such a situation say that their family could not leave this man (the preacher) and that church because they had been there so long. “I cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater”, she cried. Others just ‘go along to get along’ and pay the awful price required, becoming more like the wolf than they realize, day-by-day “becoming a diseased tree, bearing bad fruit.” (The Apostle Paul also warned, “Do not be misled; bad company corrupts good character. Come back to your senses as you should, and stop sinning. 1 Corinthians 15:33-34)

What Jesus says next has been grappled with by theologians since it was spoken, Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Beware, indeed!

What follows is Jesus’ gravest of warning to those who believe they are His followers and disciples:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Then, Jesus’ final words on this matter will be to “Build your house on the Rock”, which we will visit in the next few episodes.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

PREVIOUS:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 30, “Enter by the Narrow Gate…”

NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 32, “I never knew you…”

But understand this, that in these last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,  while evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3)

THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? “The Narrow Gate”, Part 30

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 30

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide, and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow, and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

The Words of Jesus, Matthew 7:13-14

Anyone and everyone, who wishes, can read these Words of Jesus. But it is a mistake to think everyone can hear them or do them. “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’” (Mark 4:11-12)

It is of utmost importance that as you read the foregoing verses, you realize they are written specifically to Jesus’ disciples, and if you count yourself among those who are following Jesus, He has said these Words to you.

Remember, His Words are creative, causative, prophetic and instructional. You cannot escape them. You must embrace them.

Everything Jesus says and teaches is built on what He said previously. He is building His Church – you and me – upon a strong foundation so you and I can withstand the storms, the winds and floods and accomplish His Mission. Each and every layer of this foundation is exact, leading to His perfecting of the saints.

What Jesus is saying now seems to depart from what He has been teaching, but have taught the basics, He is now going deeper, directing our steps, warning us of the deceptions we may face.

It would seem that having come this far and having become His disciple, that the rest would be smooth sailing. But dangers lurk at every turn. Jesus warns, we are to ‘enter by the narrow gate’; this is the ‘strait gate’ which is not only pent-up, restrictive and requires singleness of purpose, it is hard to find, and few will find it.

This narrow gate is like the ‘eye of the needle’: Jesus has said to his disciples, Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24)

Please listen carefully. If you are going through life, seeking the easy way to follow Jesus, you may be at the wrong gate.

If you go to church and never come away without a sense of brokenness and a sorrow for your sins, you may be at the wrong gate.

If you are always demanding from God and are rarely giving to God the sacrifice of obedience, then you may be at the wrong gate.

If your life habits and practices mirror the world around you, then you are definitely at the wrong gate. You are at the wide gate, where the way is easy, but it leads to destruction, and you are among the many who are entering by the wrong gate!

It is important to remember that we are living in the Last Days, as described by:

The Apostle Paul warned that God would send a strong delusion, so that those outside the Kingdom may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned because they did not believe the truth, and they had their pleasure in unrighteousness. (2nd Thessalonians 2:11-12).

You know the way. It is the gate is narrow, and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

PS: I remember running track in high school. I wanted to just show up and prance around the track, win a race, get a ribbon and take a bow. But that is not how it works. Winning is hard. It takes hard work, sacrifice, patience, endurance and at times it is painful. But you have to decide for yourself if it is worth it. I know it’s worth it. You just have to do it.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

PREVIOUS:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 29, “Do unto others…”

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THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 27

THE WORDS OF JESUS

 

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 27

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, because they will trample them underfoot and turn to attack you and tear you to pieces.”The Words of Jesus, Matthew 7:6

Holy refers to that which is sacred, physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially, consecrated – most holy one or thing; A follower of Christ, The Word or deeds of God.

The “pearl” as mentioned here, comes from a proverb, meaning to thrust the most sacred and precious teachings of the gospel upon the most wicked and abandoned men, incompetent as they are, through their hostility to the gospel, to receive them, and thus to profane them.

A dog, universally despised in the East, comes from the Greek word ‘kyon‘ literally, a scavenging canine; figuratively, a spiritual predator who feeds off others.  A loose dog was disdained in ancient times – viewed as a “mooch pooch” that ran about as a scavenger.

The swine was forbidden as food by the Levitical law, ( Leviticus 11:7 ; 14:8 ) the abhorrence which the Jews as a nation had of it may be inferred from (Isaiah 65:4 ). Swine were considered ceremonially unclean and naturally filthy animals.

They were also associated with demons (Mark 5:11-13), and another time swine and dogs are mentioned together (2 Pet. 2:22), they are associated with “false prophets”, who, like Balaam, knew the way of God but had “forsaken the right way”, men who had “known the way of righteousness”, but chose to “turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them”, showing they were Hebrews who were never saved (1 John 2:19).

This might raise questions. Why would Jesus, on the one hand, tell His disciples to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you” and, on the other hand, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs”?

Is this a contradiction or a controversy, or is there a distinction?  The answer to these questions must be found by considering ‘the dogs’ and ‘the swine’ as representing, not men and women as such, but the passions of this kind or that which make them brutish. So long as they identify themselves with those passions, we must deal cautiously and wisely with them, as one would with an aggressive dog or a swine.

The dogs and swine of these verses represent those people who are hardened and altogether incapable of receiving evangelic truth, and to whom that which is holy is utterly foreign and distasteful. The capacity to discern, distinguish, or to discriminate the source of a spiritual manifestation — whether it emanates from a good or evil spirit (i.e., a ‘dog’ or a ‘swine’), is the gift and ability of discerning of spirits which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit to Christian believer.

One certain way to discern a spirit is that “Anyone who confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God”. (1 John 4:15). Conversely, they do not know Him and are not from Him.

EXAMPLE: While members of a Nazarene church, we had a youth pastor whose attitudes, speech and behavior were not lining up with the Biblical qualifications to serve as a pastor.

Since he was teaching our sons, I asked him what he thought it took to be saved. His answer was ‘believe in God’. I pressed him further, asking if he had ever ‘confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in his heart that God raised him from the dead’?

He asked, “where did you get that idea?”

I told him it comes from the Apostle Paul, Romans chapter 10.

His answer was, ‘That was just something Paul said. After all, Helen Keller was a mute, so she could never say that, but she was a Christian”.

I continued, “So, you are saying you have never confessed your sins to God, asked forgiveness, confessed Jesus as Lord, and submitted yourself to Him?”

He repeated that these things were not necessary as long as he believed in God, his way. After our encounter, he began to gossip about our talk.

Our senior pastor did not see any failings, contradictions or conflicts of interest, so, I had little choice but to remove my sons from this influence.

I resigned my position within that church, and we left that denomination. (The senior pastor followed up by retaliating against me, as well as preaching against me from his pulpit.)

EXAMPLE #2:  I once counseled a man who claimed to be a Christian, who had been charged with acts of sexual deviancy. At one point in our discussions, he told me that God understood his weakness toward sexual matters, had forgiven him, and that he could now continue to behave in that manner with impunity from God.

I felt a degree of compassion toward this man, knowing that this behavior would make his life a living hell and would destroy his chances in life. So, told this man that his attitude and behavior demonstrated a complete lack of understand of salvation and a severe addiction that required extensive therapy, and that he most likely was not a Christian and was in rebellion toward God and His Word.

He became defiant and angry and hostile.

I ended our sessions. Both these rather obvious examples led me to ‘discern’ that I was right to “not give dogs what is holy, and not to throw pearls before swine, because they will trample them underfoot and turn to attack me and tear me to pieces.

Tragic? Yes. Difficult Yes. Necessary? Also, yes. The takeaway?

I am leaving this to you. Please let me and others know what you see as the takeaways.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

PREVIOUS: THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 26, Judge not that you be not judged…”

NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 28, “Ask, seek and knock…”

THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 25

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 25

“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”The Words of Jesus, Matthew 6:25-34.

I began this series on “The Words of Jesus” asking, ‘what if The Word of God is true?’ I mean, what if His Words are literally true in ways we fail to recognize? People who personally encountered Jesus testified and reported on the Works He did, and this caused throngs to follow Him, stirred great controversies, created deadly conflicts and gave untold millions a greater hope for a new, vibrant, changed life, full of promise now and eternal hope of a home in heaven with God.

The Words Jesus spoke, and the Works Jesus did, changed the world.

I ask again, ‘what if we have been reading and misunderstanding what Jesus meant by His Words and the intentions of His Words? What if we have been misapplying what He taught? (Jesus was always concerned about His disciple’s lack of understanding and ‘lack of faith’.)

What if Jesus has been telling us how to actively engage His Word, so we could actually ‘live life more abundantly’ AND ‘do His Works, and even greater works?

I realize I am wading into a potentially controversial area, but I am not referring to some kind of religious mysticism or extra-Biblical teaching, heresy or religious nonsense. (I believe, practice and teach a reformed view of the Bible.) But I do believe a great majority of the church, the teaching and practices of the church and the results produced by the early church have waned if not disappeared completely.

So, I ask one last time: What if the Word of God is

  • Somehow, literally Alive, and
  • Somehow, literally Active, and
  • Producing the effect of being Sharper than any two-edged sword,
  • Capable of literally Penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit,
  • Dividing both joints and marrow, and

Somehow, literally able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart?

I would like to say that the verses we are looking at today are the cure for anxiety and worry, but like a coat on a cold day, it does you no good unless and until you put it on and wear it for a while. In other words, you have to do it and practice these words and let Jesus do His Work in you.

A better translation would say, ‘take no thought for your life’, that is to employ your ‘psuche’, or your soul, your psyche, which is the seat of your feelings, desires, affections and aversions. Another way of saying this in a colloquial way might be, ‘don’t waste your time and energy thinking about and worrying over ’what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on’.

Jesus then turns our attention to the root of the problem and to the remedy, saying, “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness”.  Once again, Jesus is teaching about the focus of our heart, soul and spirit. We are to stop focusing on the temporal, such as what you shall eat, drink or wear, after all, this is what the gentiles, the pagans and non-believers focus on. You are to set your mind, first, on the kingdom of God and His Righteousness!

Are we getting the message, here? Jesus has been teaching about clearing your mind of the clutter of life through fasting, so you can focus; then focusing your heart, your mind and your eyes on Him and His Kingdom. You and I are to be single-minded in that pursuit.

The question and the rebuke are, “will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

The human soul, regarded as a moral being, is designed for eternal life, and it differs from the body in that it is not dissolved by death. If you believe your destiny is heaven, which you cannot see, believe also that God has provided, is providing and will continue to provide all the things you can see. He provides all your needs in and through Christ Jesus!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 

Philippians 4:6

Pray on this.   Think on this.   Meditate on this.   Practice this.   Live this.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

PREVIOUS:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 24, “No one can serve two masters…”

NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 26, “Judge not…”

THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 24

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 24

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. – The Words of Jesus, Matthew 6 :24.

Beginning in Matthew 6:19, Jesus is teaching how we must begin to clear all the ‘interference’, that is, the sin, from our spirit, our soul and our body. He is starting with the basics of becoming ‘perfected’, teaching us to have a clear mental slate, so He can write His words upon our hearts and minds. This must happen before we can expect to receive from Him and to begin the transformation from the rebellious child to the mature disciple of Christ.

We are told to lay up treasures in heaven, for where our treasure is, there our heart will be also, and it is from the heart that spring the issues of life. In other words, change our focus and our mindset from earthly and temporal to those things above, to the Kingdom of Heaven and of eternal things.

Next, Jesus has told us to guard what we set our sights on and to guard what comes into the focus of our eyes, as they are the ‘lamp to our bodies’.

Now, Jesus is teaching about being single-minded. He is saying to clear away the clutter of double-mindedness. The Apostle James warns that the double minded person is unstable in all his or her ways and should not expect they will receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:5-8)

This is the most difficult of teachings, but it is representative of what is required to be a disciple of Jesus. Listen carefully friend, Jesus is clearly teaching that if you want to be saved that you must,

“Sell all that you have, distribute it to the poor, then you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37-38)

The focus of your heart, of your eyes of your mind, emotions and your will must be solely on Jesus as your Lord and Master.

Money is the only other thing in life we pursue our entire lives for our support and our livelihood. Jesus is saying, in no uncertain terms, that not you, not the preacher, not the church, no not anyone, can depend on God and on money. It has to be one or the other. You cannot serve God and money, for they will bring your mind, soul and spirit into an unresolvable conflict, and you will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. This is both a spiritual truth and a spiritual law.

If you try to make both God and Money your ‘master’, you will have rendered yourself to become like the the salt that has lost his saltiness, which cannot be restored. It is therefore worthless, good for nothing except to be cast out, and trodden under the foot of men.’ (Matthew 5:13)

This teaching, to our great harm, is the one most often compromised, twisted to fit our own thinking or completely disregarded, by both the individual calling themselves, ‘Christian’ and by the Church.

So, where does this leave you? Do you now take a vow of poverty? Please, don’t be silly. The Apostle Paul helps us understand when he says, And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) We all need some amount of money to live in this world. Some can handle small amounts, others can safely and effectively deal with great wealth. Either way, you must depend completely on God to supply your needs, then do what He has directed. Do not lose the focus of your calling to the mission and to Christ as your Lord and Master, and never compromise.

God (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) and the teaching of scriptures always take priority. There are no ‘2nd choices’ or ‘2nd place’. 

Sola Christo. Sola Scriptura.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

FOR YOUR EDIFICATION:  The word for “serve” in these verses is the Greek word, ‘douleuó’, which means to serve as a slave, having all personal ownership-rights assigned to the owner; to willingly give over the prerogative to be self-governing. The pursuit or love of money will enslave you.

This word also describes someone who belongs to another; a bond-slave, without any ownership rights of their own. Ironically, this is used with the highest dignity in the New Testament – namely, of believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers.

This is why you must choose. Don’t be deceived. It cannot be both.

PREVIOUS:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 23, “The Eye is the Lamp of the body…”

NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, Part 25, “Do not be anxious…”

THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 23

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 23

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”The Words of Jesus, Matthew 6:22-23

The previous verses instruct us in the focus of our heart. Now, Jesus progresses with the focus of our eyes. Both reach past our bodies and souls into the deepest part of our spirit or, as the Bible calls it, our heart. All things originate in our ‘heart’ or our spirit, which forms and holds our core beliefs, which then well up into our mind, our will, our emotions. They form our thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. “For out of the heart, flow the issues of life”. (Proverbs 4:23)

Your attitudes, emotions behaviors and beliefs are greatly affected by what you take into your eyes. The things you see and watch, the things you dwell upon and think upon seep down into your spirit and determine not only how and what you believe and how you live your life – for good or for evil, but also determine your eternal destiny.

If in your life, you seem to repeatedly encounter the same or similar problems, trials and tribulations, don’t count it to ‘bad luck’. You may even be inclined to blame other people, and you may have been tragically influenced by parents, friends and circumstances, but you have the ability to rid yourself of these ‘demons’ of thought, attitude and behavior. God has given you the power of choice. It will not be easy, but it can and must be done.

You can change your life now, today. First, call upon the Name and Person of Jesus. He will direct you. Your path will be difficult, but the outcome is the prosperity of your soul! Your life’s trajectory will take a decidedly and dramatic upward turn. Do this, and one day you will wonder whose body you once inhabited, because you will be made new!

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). God created this sacred place in each of us. It is indeed the temple of the Holy Spirit within us. You must guard it at all costs, beginning with the focus of your heart and guarding what you allow into it.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

Blessed is the one
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on His law they meditate day and night.

They are like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

PREVIOUS:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 22, “Do not lay up treasures on earth…”

NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them?, Part 24, “No one can serve two masters…”

THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 22

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 22

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The Words of Jesus, Matthew 6:19-21

Jesus is speaking from a spiritual perspective. He is comparing the value of earthly treasures such as money, property and such worldly wealth, to the greater spiritual wealth from which all other things flow.

From a practical standpoint, Jesus seems to be giving good advice about living your life for things that matter, things of eternal significance. Temporal things such as physical possessions, money, properties, titles, ego and pride, fade after death and are forgotten.

But Jesus is teaching about much more than quality of life issues. He is teaching about a hidden oracle of God. He is teaching about living and operating from within the Basileia Ouranos – The Kingdom of Heaven. The rule of Christ in believers’ hearts – which is a rule that “one day will be universal on the physical earth in the Millennium.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” is not just an axiom or an allegory, it is a deep spiritual truth that tells of your eternity. An eternity of darkness and fear, wailing and gnashing of teeth or an eternity of perfection living in the presence of God.

If your heart is fixed on earthly treasures that will deteriorate, can be destroyed or stolen, so will go your body, your soul and spirit – down to destruction.

But if your heart is fixed on storing up the ‘treasure hidden in the field’ or ‘the pearls of great value’, that which was paid by Christ for our redemption, you will have found the treasures of good character, wisdom and excellence in behavior which will successfully guide and guard you through your journey in this life to an incorruptible inheritance of the love of God through Christ; fulfilling your greatest needs, satisfying your deepest longings, making you whole and clean before God, calming and quieting your heart, and giving you assurance for the future.

These treasures are hidden, indicating that spiritual truth is missed by many and cannot be found by intelligence or power or worldly wisdom. Matthew 13:11-17 and 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, 14 make it clear that the mysteries of the kingdom are hidden from some who are unable to hear, see, and comprehend these truths. The disobedient reap the natural consequences of their unbelief—spiritual blindness. Those whose eyes are opened by the Spirit do discern spiritual truth, and they, like the men in the parable, understand its great value. (see GotQuestions.org)

You will find treasures of the greatest eternal value in the Kingdom of Heaven, where you will live and serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and you will worship him. You will see his face, and his name will be on your forehead. And night will be no more. You will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be your light, and you will reign with Him, forever and ever. (see Revelation 22:3)

This is one of the most reliable statements and one of the direst warnings. Meditate on this. Let it seep into your spirit and be transformed.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 23, “The eye is the lamp of your body…”

PREVIOUS:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 21. “And when you fast.

THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 21

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 21

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

 The Words of Jesus, Matthew 6:16-18

Here, Jesus is telling us about religion versus true worship of and prayer, to God. Fasting is a mysterious act of worship and prayer. There is no doubt that when entering into the presence of God with worship and prayer, the eternal battle between our flesh and our spirit erupts, pride being the great enemy of our soul. Scriptures tell us that God hates pride and opposes the proud, and that fasting is our remedy for taming and humbling the passions of our flesh and soul when approaching God. The Psalmist (Psalms 35) tells us he humbles his soul (nephesh), the appetites, emotions and passions of his flesh, with fasting.

The Apostle Paul also talks about this struggle between the flesh and the spirit, in Romans 7:21-24, when he says, “So, I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

Jesus instructs us that ”when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret.” I admit that I don’t fully understand why ‘praying in secret’ and ‘practicing your righteousness privately’ is necessary to obtain God’s reward, except that it is probable that our fleshly attitudes and passions have a direct effect on our spiritual life. Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life”. Another way of saying this is “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

It is as if Jesus is drawing a line for us, separating the spiritual world, where all things originate, from the natural world, where all things are made manifest, showing us where we must live and breathe and have our being. (Acts 17:28)

It is almost like the function of a boiler producing heat. If the boiler has ‘leaks’, the steam and pressure necessary to produce heat is dissipated, and the boiler is only lukewarm and good for little more than vapor. But if the steam and pressure is contained, hidden away, focused on the internal workings of the boiler, the power to produce heat for the entire house is created. The ‘leaks’ are fissures of emotions, pride and self-glorification. The containment is ‘spiritual disciplines’ focused on worshiping, praying and serving God alone. This is how spiritual power is built; this is when the reward is revealed.

Jesus is teaching us a deep and important spiritual truth. It will be found only by a few who remember that we are not of this world (John 17:16), but that we are of His Kingdom. We have been adopted as heirs of heaven by God Himself, and that is where our citizenship is (Titus 3:7). This is where our power lies. This is where our reward resides.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 22, Laying up treasures…”

PREVIOUS: THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 20, “And when you pray…”

THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 20

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Part 20

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

The Words of Jesus, Matthew 6:10-14

Herein, Jesus is handing you the Golden Spiritual Key to righteous, effective prayer that always earns God’s Reward. But you must have eyes to see and ears to hear.

There has been so much written about this model prayer that there is little I can or should add. I will say, however, this is the perfect prayer. Notice that, by repeating or using this as your model, you will make a bold and grand remark that you identify yourself as a son or daughter of God, The Father Who resides in heaven, and by this you lay claim to heaven as your home.

Meditate on these next words, ”hallowed be your name”. ‘Hallowed’ is to regard as special (sacred), i.e. holy, “set apart”, sanctified. (hagiázō, “to make holy, consecrate, sanctify; to dedicate, separate”. There is none other like Him. This is your confession. Selah.

“Your kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, is the grandest of confessions made. It is in the Greek Aorist tense, meaning that ‘Your Kingdom has come, it is now coming, and it shall continue to come’! You are recognizing and affirming that as a child of God you live as a resident and an heir of God’s Kingdom, now and forevermore.

Let’s save time and space here and say what Jesus says, that we ‘shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’.  This is divine provision; all the sustenance God supplies to yielded believers, moment-by-moment, to live in His preferred-will. “Give us this day our daily bread”, indeed!

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” can also be said with this in mind: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil is also spoken and written in the Aorist Tense which hold no regard for the past, present or the future, again asking ‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, in the past, in this current day nor at any time in the future”.

We are told to make all our requests known to God, but “when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Pray then like this:

“My Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

 

Your kingdom come, your will is being done, on earth as it is in heaven.

 

Give me this day my daily bread,

 

and forgive me my debts, as I also have forgiven my debtors.

 

And lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.

(I forgive others their trespasses, and you, my heavenly Father will also forgive me, but if I do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will my Father forgive my trespasses.)

This is the heartfelt and fervent prayer that avails much! (James 5:16)

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

NEXT:  THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 21, “And when you fast…”

PREVIOUS: THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 19, And when you pray…”