Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Form of Godliness

 14Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
 15And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. 
(Matthew 9:14-15, King James Version)

Form of Godliness

Matthew 9 continues with an interesting discussion between Jesus and His disciples. The Pharisees, ever the adversaries of Christ, came with new accusations. "Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?"

In other words, they were saying, "Look how Godly we are--we spend great amounts of time in prayer and fasting. Why do your disciples not fast?" Paul, in his second letter to Timothy wrote,
 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5, King James Version)

Such is an apt description of the Pharisees. They certainly had the appearance of godliness, and were the first to tell everyone, but in their heart of hearts, they were far from the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, they had a form of godliness, but they denied the power of Christ. The admonition from Paul is that we turn away from such arguments, for there are always those enemies of Christ who love nothing better than contention.

In spite of the nature of their reproofs, Jesus responded in defense of His disciples by asking the question, "Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them?" In other words, fasting is reserved for the grievous times of life when in great agony of spirit we pour out our concerns to God. Yet, this was not such a time! The Lord Jesus, their Bridegroom, was still with them. Rather than a time of grief, it was a time of great joy.

Things, of course, would change. That time of great grief would come when the Lord would pour out His very life for His people. The disciples, after Christ returned to heaven, spent many hours in prayer and fasting--seeking the wisdom and guidance of God. With great difficulty, they took up the banner of Christ, as the early church struggled for its very survival.

Yet God, was faithful to them, as we see from the results today. By the grace of God, He has kept a faithful remnant even into our 21st century.

What is the great lesson to be learned from this passage? As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must be careful that we do not let the criticism of the world--and even the criticism of fellow believers--keep us from faithfully trusting and serving God. By His grace, let us take up the mantle of service He has bestowed upon us, and faithfully spend our lives for His honor and glory.

We are, in many ways, a sorry lot. Consumed with our own struggles with sin, it is easy to give in to the temptation to put forth a showy, glitzy appearance before the world. However, it is not our great showy declarations that will bring glory to God, but rather those times when, in our own secret prayer closets, we pour out our confessions of sin and prayer for God's help. As we bare our hearts before God, seeking His help, we will bring the most glory to His name.

It is not the face of the world that we must please, but the face of God! May it not be said of us that we have a form of godliness, but deny the very power of God. Our power does not rest in us, or in the actions we perform, but rather, our power rests in Christ alone! He is our King, He is our Savior, He is our strength and our guide, and by His grace and glory we will bring honor and glory to God!

God Bless You,

Monday, August 26, 2013

Whole or Sick?

 10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
 11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
 12But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 
(Matthew 9:10-12, King James Version)

Whole or Sick

As Jesus sat at the table to eat at the house of Matthew, the tax collector, with many of Matthew's friends (also tax collectors), the Pharisees were horrified. They asked Jesus' disciples, "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?"

Hearing them, Jesus replied, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." Has anything changed? Here we are in the 21st century and we find that, still, our world is filled with the whole and the sick. The question we must ask is, "Which am I? Am I whole or sick?"

What did Jesus mean by this saying? During Jesus time, the Jewish religious leaders were, by and large, indignant toward Jesus. They, who viewed themselves as whole had no need of a Savior. They were already quite righteous enough--or at least that is the manner in which they viewed themselves. The list of righteous deeds they performed was seemingly endless.

What of the world in which we live? Do people today need a Savior--do they view themselves as sinners? Sadly, in this, the 21st century, the rush is to redefine sin--or to get rid of it completely. After all, we live in the "I'm OK, you're OK" world. What may be wrong for you, may actually be right for me, for everything is relative. When viewing ourselves, we actually like what we see, so where is the need for being saved. Saved from what? How different is that from the attitude of the Pharisees? It is no different at all.

But, what of the publicans and sinners of Jesus' day? These people had no trouble seeing themselves as sinners. Knowing that they fell far short of the perfection of God, Jesus' words were a balm to their soul. Yes, they knew that they were sick, and in need of saving.

So, here we are in the 21st century, still looking for those who understand that they are sick. Truthfully, every man, woman, and child is sick and in need of saving. The words of Christ are just as relevant to us today. As we see our hopeless condition before a holy and righteous God, we see our need of a Savior.

Jesus, the Son of God, was born of a virgin, suffered, died, was buried, and resurrected. Why? So that He might save a people for Himself! The good news today is that all those who are sick, and understand that before God they are actually dead, can go to Christ, for He has paid the debt of their sin. He came to this earth to save a people for Himself. Until the Lord Jesus Christ returns again, that door of salvation is still open, but it will not remain so forever.

So, the real question each of us needs to ask ourselves is this: are we whole or sick?

Come to Christ today, while His arms are open to His children!

God Bless You,

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lesson Failed?

 1And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.
 2And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
 3And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
 4And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
 5For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
 6But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
 7And he arose, and departed to his house.
 8But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men. 
(Matthew 9:1-8, King James Version)

Lesson Failed?

As we continue with Matthew 9 in our, "Words of Christ" series, Jesus gives us some interesting insight into the purpose of the healing of a man who was sick of the palsy. Was it a lesson failed by those who were present, or did they pass the lesson Jesus was trying to teach to them?

By and large, they all failed! First of all, Jesus began this "healing" by saying to the sick man, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee." Does this mean that the man was sick because he had sinned? No! Later, in verse 6, Jesus explained, "But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins." In other words, Jesus used this occasion of the healing of the man sick with palsy to demonstrate to those present that He was not just a man, like them, but He was the God Man who, indeed, had the power to forgive sins! In other words, Jesus was not just healing the physical infirmities of this man, but, rather, He was also healing the far greater spiritual infirmities of this man as well!

Did the scribes who witnessed this event understand what Jesus was saying? Yes! Did it change their attitudes toward Him? No! How do we know this? In verse 4, Jesus said, "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?" Jesus was demonstrating His power, as the Son of God, to understand their thoughts. Though they said nothing, he knew the evil that existed in their hearts.

Did the multitudes understand what Jesus was saying and doing? No! Verse 8 says, "But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men." What is wrong with that statement? They were amazed that God had given such power to a mere man, but Jesus was not just a mere man. Many of these hopefully came to a greater understanding of Jesus later, realizing that He was not just a man, but was their true Messiah, the Son of God.

What of us today in this the 21st century? As we read verses such as these from the book of Matthew, how do we respond? Who is this Christ to us? Do we view Him as a great prophet who did great things and then died as do all men, or do we view Him as Jesus, the Son of God, and the Son of Man who died, was buried, and later resurrected, and now sits at the right hand of God, interceding for His children? Do we understand that the Bible has recorded these events so that we, too, might come to know Jesus as our own personal Lord and Savior?

Do we also catch the nuances from this passage and understand that, even today, Jesus, the Son of God sees and knows us: our thoughts, our words, and our deeds? Just as He knew the thoughts of the scribes, so He knows what is in our heart of hearts. As professing Christians, Jesus knows us as no mere man can!

May we seek to live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God, and pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ. It matters little what others think of us, but what God thinks of us is critical! He makes no mistakes, for He knows our hearts even better than we ourselves do! We can even convince ourselves that we are a good and just person, but God sees the bare truth!

What are we to do? Salvation is through none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Knowing our own inability to save ourselves, or to live a life truly pleasing to God, we must cast ourselves upon the Lord Jesus. He, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will not only lift us up, and save us, but He will give us the ability to live a life that is pleasing to Him. It is good if we understand that, like this man who was sick with palsy, we cannot heal ourselves. But, also, like this man who was sick, Jesus can forgive our sins, so that we can come before God through the righteous blood of Christ.

So, my question today is this: how do we stand before the Lord in this passage from Matthew 9? Is it a lesson failed, or is it a lesson passed--passed through faith in Christ.

Go to Christ today. Seek His power and grace to give you the strength to live this day in a manner which is pleasing to Him!

God Bless You,

Friday, August 16, 2013

Be Clean!

 1When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
 2And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
 3And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
 4And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 
(Matthew 8:1-4, King James Version)

Be Clean!

Our Bible passage today from Matthew 8 is a sterling example of the power manifested in the words of Christ. As Jesus was coming down from the mountain, a leper came to Him saying, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." How did Jesus respond?
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean.
We are told that immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Because we are so ingrained in our surroundings, it is hard for us to fathom what actually happened. We tend to focus on what we can see around us, and what we can scientifically understand. We simply do not have the ability to understand the great power in Jesus words: "Be clean." He spoke and the leper was totally cleansed.

We should not really be surprised. After all, this is Jesus, our Creator God. From Genesis 1, we learn that He spoke: "Let there be light," and there was light. Just His simple words made the dry land appear, the plants spring forth, the sun appear in the sky, the birds and fish appear on the land and sea, and the animals appear in all their diversity. How can that be? This is the God we serve, and this is the same God who came as the God Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, to save a people for Himself.

It is true that we are dull of mind, and slow to understand the great truths of God's Word. We live as children of God with weak faith and poor sight that often does not envision the great things God can and will do on our behalf. We live as though what we see before us is all that exists.

Yet, in our heart of hearts, we know that this is not true. There is more than what our eyes can see or than what our ears can hear. We know that there is a heavenly host surrounding us, working on our behalf. We also know that Satan and his minions are also there, circumventing our every move. Yet this Jesus, who said, "Be clean!" is our Savior, our protector, our helper, and our advocate. Though all of the forces of evil may seem to oppose us, we are never removed from our precious Lord and Savior.

Let us, then, take up the mantle that God has given to us, and go forth boldly, for He that is on our side is more powerful than all of the forces of evil. Let us live this day for the honor and glory of God, proclaiming His grace and mercy, not only by our words, but through our actions as well.

Let us remember that nothing we face, whether great blessings or great tragedies have come to us apart from the will of God. Though He does not always prevent evil from falling upon us, He never leaves us to fend for ourselves. Satan may throw his fiery darts upon us, but through Christ, our shield of faith will deflect those arrows. Let us not grieve when the days are difficult, but, rather, let us lift up our eyes to heaven and rejoice that God is showing us His power manifested through the very trials we face.

As we are reminded by the words of Paul,
 9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, King James Version)
Go, today, and may the power of Christ rest upon you!

God Bless You,