Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 10 38-42 – At the Lord’s Feet – The Most Important Thing In Life

Grace For The Journey

As a reminder, Dr. Luke, the physician, is the writer of the portion of Scripture that is our current focus, the Gospel of Luke.  He is recounting for us an incident from the year 29 AD.  Jesus and His disciples are on their way to Jerusalem, and they stop for a visit in the suburban town of Bethany, just 2 miles southeast of Jerusalem.

Animal trainers carry a stool when they go into a cage of lions.  The traditional lion tamer has a whip and a pistol holstered at his side, but he also carries a stool when entering the lion cage and that stool is the most important to the lion tamer.  He holds the stool near the seat and thrusts the legs toward the face of the lion.  What happens is that the lion tries to focus on all four legs at once.  In the attempt to focus on all four legs, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the lion, and the lion becomes weak and disabled because its attention is divided and fragmented.

There’s a real sense in which that happens to many people today.  There are so many things thrust at us.  Each day you face a number of choices, options, problems, and challenges.  We have places to go and people to see, especially in our western world where we have all the modern conveniences of speed and technology to hurry us on from one appointment to the other.  Our time is divided between these appointments.   We rush from here to there, rushing off to work, rushing off to play, rushing kids and grandkids from one thing to another, rushing to the grocery store, rushing to the post office, rushing to church, the list gets exhausting!  We may feel, at times, a bit like a lion staring at a four-legged stool that is thrust in front of our faces, trying to focus in on one thing at a time, but being overwhelmed by what seems to be a thousand things vying for our attention.

This morning’s passage is a call to stop the madness and consider what is the most important thing to our existence.  Because Luke, the physician, is our writer this morning, we will study this passage as a prescription from Dr. Luke whereby we may be saved from our unhealthy malady.  Dr. Luke will help us administer something of a “self-examination” today morning.  I want to walk back through this small paragraph and encourage you to take this self-examination with me. 

First . . .

1) Examine Your Desire For Jesus – Verses 38-39.

We read here about two sisters, Mary and Martha.  Scripture tells us they lived together in Bethany along with their brother, Lazarus.  You will remember Lazarus as the one Jesus Christ raised from the dead.  Jesus went to the tomb where Lazarus had been dead for four days and cried out, “Lazarus, come forth!” and Lazarus did come forth, miraculously raised from the dead.

Martha appears to be the older sister.  Her name in Aramaic means “mistress” and so she is likely the mistress in charge of the house.  She does most of the housework.   She is always busy, always working.  Mary, on the other hand, seems to be the quieter, introspective, and contemplative type.  Usually when we read this passage, we tend to compare and contrast the two sisters, casting Mary in the better light.  We tend to look up to Mary and look down upon Martha.  But before we come down too hardly upon Martha, I want you to notice something wonderful about her.

We see it back in the latter part of verse 38?  What does the Bible say that Martha did?  The Bible says that Martha, “welcomed (or, received) Him into her house.” Martha had a desire to be with Jesus.  Martha welcomed Him into her house.  This is a time long before cell phones, emails, and text messages.  Jesus did not pull out His iPhone and text, “omw; on-my-way.”  He just dropped in unexpectedly, just stopped by while He was in town.  No time to clean house.  Jesus is here.

I wonder whether Jesus would be welcome in your house this morning?  What if Jesus stopped by this afternoon?  What “cleaning up” would you wish you had done before He came?  What things in your home would you wish you had cleared away?  What things in your life would you wish you had cleaned up?  Is He welcome in your house today?

Martha had a desire for Jesus.  But so did Mary.  Look where she is found in verse 39, “And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.”  Mary is found at the Master’s feet.  This is the position of a student before the teacher.  It was virtually unheard of for a woman to sit at the feet of a rabbi, but Mary knows that this particular Jewish rabbi is more than a Jewish rabbi.

Incidentally, it is a remarkable thing that, every time we read about Mary in the Bible, she seems to be found at the Master’s feet.  There is this passage here, where she sits at His feet listening to Him.  In John 11:32, before Lazarus is raised, she is found at His feet crying and calling out to Him.  Then in John 12:3 she is found again at the feet of Jesus, anointing Him and preparing Him for burial.  Every time we read of Mary, we find her at the Lord’s feet.  She had a desire to be with Jesus, a desire be at His feet where she “heard His word.”

That word there at the end of verse 39, “Heard,” is in the imperfect tense which means it is an action that is incomplete.  The action never ends.  It is continuous action.  This phrase conveys the idea of continual listening.  A better translation here would be, “Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and continually listened to Jesus; she hung on His every word.”

Context helps us understand the depth of her desire for Jesus Christ.  Remember the context?  Back in verse 25 an expert in the law tested Jesus by asking, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus helps the young man consider the great commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”  The man wanted to justify himself so he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” and you will remember that the Lord responds by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.  If the Good Samaritan is an example of loving one’s neighbor as oneself, then Mary is an example of loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  She had a desire for Jesus.

Do you have a desire to be with Jesus?  Do you regard Jesus as your most important need?  He is not something to be “added” to our already packed schedule.  It is not that we “work Him in” to our routine, carefully scheduling time with Jesus around our already scheduled lives. 

He IS our life.

It is not, “Well, I have got this going on this week, I have got to rush the kids here and there, or we have got this social engagement and that business deal, I believe I can work in Jesus right around here.” 

Work Him in?

If you are a part of a local church family, you sit at the Lord’s feet every time you gather together.  We come together in big group (corporate worship) and small group (Bible Study) every week because we have a desire to be with Jesus.  We sit at His feet publicly, gathering together in corporate worship, hearing the Word of God preached.  Every Christian who has a desire to be with Jesus desires to be in a big group and a small group where he or she can study, share, and learn among a group of friends who have a like faith.

If worship and small group Bible Study

Reflect our sitting at the Lord’s feet publicly,

Then our personal daily devotion reflects

Our sitting at the Lord’s feet privately.

We must take time privately to get alone somewhere and read God’s Word every day.   We must be with Jesus as Mary was with Jesus, listening as she listened, and hanging on His every Word.  Read the Bible every day.

Why?  What is the motivation for our being with Jesus?  Why does a true Christian have a real desire to be with Jesus?  Why does the true Christian worship every Sunday?  Why does the true Christian not fill his schedule with umpteen activities that crowd out his life and keep him and his family from weekly worship and Bible Study?  Why does the true Christian open the Bible and read a chapter or more a day every day?  Why?  Out of legalistic compulsion, a sense of slavish duty, driven by guilt?   No. Because the pastor said we’re to do this?  No.  Why? 

The true Christian looks to the cross for his motivation.  He never forgets what happened there at Calvary’s cross.  We must humble ourselves and remember that none of us gets into heaven by our deeds of kindness or by giving our money to the poor.  We are all sinners.  The Bible tells us that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and by the deeds of the law shall no one be justified (Romans 3:20).  God says that all of our good deeds are to Him like filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6).  We humble ourselves, remembering that God came to us in the Person of Jesus Christ that we could be saved.  He came as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  God came to us, we who were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) to save us from the penalty of our sin.  Through the power of the Gospel God opens up our blind eyes so that we may believe in Christ and be saved.  We did nothing to deserve it and still do nothing to deserve it.  If we are saved, we are saved by grace, through faith, in Christ alone.  God delivers us from hell.  God grants us eternal life in heaven.  It does not come automatically.  It comes only when we repent from our sin and believe in Christ Jesus alone as Savior.  When we believe in Christ, God makes Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

This is our motivation

For sitting at Jesus’

Feet every week.

The reason some of us are not motivated to sit at Jesus’ feet weekly through public worship and daily through private worship is, quite frankly, because we believe we had something to do with our salvation . . . We think somehow that we were worthy of it . . . We earned it . . . God needed us. 

  • Only when we realize our goodness is tainted with sin.
  • Only when we believe the Bible’s teaching that none of us is worthy, none of us can please Him.
  • Only when we believe that God opened-up our blind eyes will we ever be motivated rightly to sit at the Lord’s feet publically every week and privately every day.

Examine your desire for Jesus.  Are you truly saved?  Are you, in the words of Jesus in John 3, “born again?”  If so, you will have a desire to sit at the Lord’s feet, loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  You will sit at the Lord’s feet at every opportunity, hanging on His every Word.  Examine your desire for Jesus.  Secondly:

2) Examine Your Distraction From Jesus – Verses 40-41.

Verse 40 tells us, But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’”  Do you see what happened to Martha?  She had a desire to be with Jesus, but she soon became “dragged about” with much serving.  While she had a desire for Jesus, she had now become distracted from Jesus.

We can see her working there in the kitchen, Mary probably helping her at first.  Martha throws the roast in the oven and sends Mary out to set the table.  But Mary does not make it back in.  Martha glances out into the living room and sees Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus.  She goes back to her work.  She is working hard, scurrying about, wiping her hands on her apron, sweat on her brow, her hair beginning to frizz.  The microwave is beeping, the tea pot is whistling, the oven timer is buzzing.  All she can think about is her sister Mary in the other room, no longer helping, but just sitting there with Jesus.

Martha soon begins acting the way spouses act when they argue.  She begins to place things down on the kitchen counter with a little more force now, placing things down so they make a noise that can be heard in the other room.  She shuts the cabinets now with a little more force.  You couples know how this is.  Were someone to ask, “Is anything wrong?”  And you answer, “NO!”  How many of you know “No” doesn’t mean “No?!”

Finally, Martha can take it no longer.  She bursts out into the living room and cries out, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Tell here to help me!”  Ever feel that way?  You try to do all you can.  You work as hard as you can.  You live as best you can.  You do, do, do, do, and it just seems like life meanly trudges on. Finally, you cry out like Martha, “Lord, don’t You care?!” 

Look at Jesus’ reply in verse 41, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.”  Hear the tender compassion in His voice: “Martha, Martha.”  He cares for her.  But there is also a mild rebuke there: “you are worried and troubled about many things.”  The Greek word for “worried” there conveys the idea of being divided.  It is the same word found in Matthew 6 where Jesus says to not worry about your food, clothing, your life.  That is, do not allow yourself to “be divided” by all those concerns.  Rather, seek first the kingdom of God.  Seek just one thing, and all these others will be added unto you.  Know your greatest need.  Sit at the feet of Jesus.  Do not be distracted.

I want you to examine your distraction from Jesus this morning.  What distracts you from the Lord?  Good things can distract us from Jesus, things that in and of themselves are not bad.  Martha illustrates the danger of living a performance-driven life.  Martha illustrates the danger of seeking approval and acceptance before God based on our works. 

We will never be more acceptable

To God than we are in Christ Jesus.

We do not earn God’s approval and acceptance by our works before becoming a Christian . . . and . . . we do not earn God’s approval and acceptance by our works after becoming a Christian. 

We are accepted by God

Not on the basis of

Our personal performance,

But on the basis of

The infinitely perfect


Of Jesus Christ.

Beware of living a performance-driven life. 

The Christian life is not

So much about

Achievement for Christ,

But surrender and

Yielding to Christ.

Examine your desire for Jesus.  Examine your distraction from Jesus.  Finally, the Bible says . . .

3) Examine Your Devotion To Jesus: Verse 42.

Hear the words of Jesus as He mildly rebukes those of us who are the “Marthas” of today, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”  Jesus says, “One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part.”

The picture I have in my mind is this:  Martha is preparing a meal.  There will be all sorts of dishes; all different types and portions of wonderful things from which to choose.  Jesus says Mary has chosen the best “plate” there is.  There are many things she could have chosen, but she chose the best thing there in that dining room.  She chose to sit at the feet of Jesus.  The things that seemed so important to Martha will one day be gone.  Those things that clamored for her attention, all those things will one day expire.

But the choice Mary made – and everything bound up with that choice – Jesus says, will not be taken away from her.  She made the right choice.  She is devoted to Jesus.

Examine your devotion to Jesus.  Are you truly devoted to Him?  Is that reflected in the way you live your life?  If you’re really devoted to someone, you find a way to be with him.

Alvin Straight was 73-year-old man who lived in Laurens, Iowa.  He had an older brother, Henry, who was 80-years-old and lived to the east, 240 miles east in Blue River, Wisconsin.  Alvin’s brother suffered a stroke one summer and Alvin desperately wanted to go see him, but he had a transportation problem.  He did not have a driver’s license because his eyesight was poor and he apparently had an aversion to taking a plane, train, or bus.  But Alvin did not let that stop him.  He loved his brother, was devoted to his brother, and was determined to be with his brother.

Alvin Straight did something so unusual that they made a movie about him, a movie called “The Straight Story.”  Alvin Straight went down to the local hardware store and picked up a few items for his six-week journey and then went back to his house and put his items into a trailer and then slowly boarded his 1966 John Deere riding lawn mower and, at a top speed of 5 miles per hour, drove 240 miles from Laurens, Iowa to Blue River, Wisconsin.

When you’re devoted to someone, you find a way to be with him.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

*** With Christmas Eve on Friday and taking some time off the following week … My blog will resume on January 5, 2022.  I am prayer that you all have a Christ-filled Christ and a Christ honoring New Year!

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 10:25-27 – When Compassion is Optional

Grace For The Journey

When we were last in Luke’s Gospel, we heard Jesus say back in verse 21, “You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.”  We talked about how it is that some “see” and understand spiritual truth and some do not see.  It is hidden from them, and the irony is that very frequently those who do not “see” are the very ones you would expect to see.  They are the so-called “wise and prudent.”  They have everything in place, but they are blind.If we needed a real-life example of a man who was spiritually blind, a man who had “everything in place,” but still could not see, then we have such a man in the passage before us this morning.  He approaches Jesus to ask Him a very important question.  I want to walk with you through these verses and the more familiar passage that follows, the parable of the Good Samaritan, and let’s learn from this dialogue between this “wise man” and Jesus. 

First . . .

1. Consider the Question of Eternity.

Verse 25 tells us that a certain lawyer stood up and tested Jesus, asking, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  It is a question of eternity.  What must I do to enter to the kingdom of God?  Again, context is helpful here.  In the previous verse Jesus had just told his disciples that many prophets and kings had desired to see what they had seen, but did not see it.  Here is a man who joins the many prophets and kings in the quest for spiritual truth.

It is a good question.  Maybe some of you find yourselves standing next to this man and, with him, looking to Jesus awaiting His response.  It is a good question.  A problem, however, is that this man is asking it, verse 25 says, in order to “test Him.”  It is the same word used earlier by Luke where Jesus says one should never “put the Lord your God to the test” (Luke 4:12).  This word suggests the man does not have the purest of motives.  He is testing Jesus.  Will Jesus pass the test?

This “certain lawyer” is literally translated as “an expert of the Jewish Law.”  He is the sort of man who made a life of studying the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.  He would have had memorized large portions of Genesis through Deuteronomy.  He knew the finest details of Jewish law and could quote passages at will.  He is the kind of man who would have been something of “a bore at parties,” because often when one specializes in a particular field of study, he cannot help but share the great depth of his knowledge with all who come within a few steps of him.

He asks Jesus the question and Jesus responds as He often does with sneaky people like this; He answers the question with a question of His own.  Verse 26 says, “He said to him, ‘What is written in the law?  What is your reading of it?’”  He may as well have said, “You’re the expert, aren’t you?  Tell Me!”

By the way, it is worth noting that Jesus answers this important life question with an answer that points His questioner to the Scriptures: “What is written in the law?”  What does the Bible say?  This prompts one commentator, JC Ryle to remind us, “It matters nothing who says a thing in religion, whether an ancient father, or a modern Bishop, or a learned (preacher). 

Is it in the Bible? 

Can it be proved

By the Bible? 

If not, it is

Not to be believed. 

It matters nothing how beautiful and clear sermons or religious books may appear.  Are they in the smallest degree contrary to Scripture?  If they are, they are rubbish and poison, and guides of no value.”

Listen how the man answers.  The expert in the law replies to Jesus in verse 27, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”  His reply should sound relatively familiar to a number of us as we studied time the very passage from which the man quotes in part, Deuteronomy 6:4, the passage recited twice a day by the faithful Jew in his morning and evening prayers.

The man says, “I enter into heaven by loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving my neighbor as myself.”  That is his answer.  Now maybe some of us are not prepared for Jesus’ answer.  Maybe some of us who were trained to share the Gospel using a particular outline or method are surprised by what Jesus says next.  After all, we believe this man just gave something of a “works” answer.  So, we are prepared to hear Jesus say, “No.  Wrong answer.  You cannot be saved by what you do.”  But what do we read?  Jesus says in verse 28, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”  And Jesus is right on, as He always is.  I mean it is true, isn’t it?  Is not the way to eternal life attained by loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength mind; and out of that relationship it leads us to loving our neighbor as ourselves?  Is not the very essence of faith bound up in a whole-hearted loving trust in God as King of our lives?  This is what faith is.  It is an expression of trust in the One who is the love of our lives.

The problem is, of course, that none of us actually loves the Lord perfectly.  The grammar here, present tense, imperative mood, suggests a translation like, “Keep doing this forever and you shall live.”  The opposite is: “Don’t keep doing this and you shall die.”  Galatians 3:10 says, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”  Is there a person reading this blog who has the audacity to say he or she always, consistently, and perfectly loves the Lord with every fiber of his or her being, totally devoted at every moment to the One True God?  The expert in the law, however, is blind to this. 

He is blind to it

Because He did not

Come to Jesus trusting

Him, but testing Him.

In fact, he apparently assumes he is doing just fine in these two matters, loving the Lord –  vertical relationship – and loving his neighbor as himself – horizontal relationships – but he wants to be sure, especially on this matter of loving his neighbor.  He might have thought, “Every Jew knows who the One True God is, but not everyone may know who their neighbor is,” and so, verse 29 says, “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”

The very question illustrates that the man is clearly missing something here.  His question implies that, to him, some people qualified as neighbors, and some did not.  The prevailing opinion among the scribes and Pharisees was that there were certain ones to whom they were expected to show mercy and others to whom they were not expected to show mercy.  Compassion was required in some cases and optional in other cases.  It is as if the expert in the law asked Jesus, “Look, Jesus, I do not want to be wasting my time showing compassion to people who are not my neighbor.  Clearly compassion is optional in some cases, so what are – or who are – those cases?  Who is my neighbor?”

Remember . . .

The man did not

Come trusting Jesus,

But testing Jesus. 

Therefore the man

Does not require

Instruction as much

As he requires humility.

The same may be said for many of us.  It is not that we need more information to trust God.  We need to humble ourselves with the information we already possess.  As the hymn-writer puts it, “What more can He say than to you He hath said?”  We do not need instruction as much as we need humility.  We must see ourselves in our sin and bow before the One true holy, and infinitely wise God.  But the man wants to justify himself and so he asks, “And who is my neighbor?”  Jesus answers in verse 30 and following.  He answers by painting a picture of what compassion and mercy looks like.  He illustrates what it looks like to love one’s neighbor as oneself. 

Having considered the question of eternity we now consider the illustration of mercy.

2. Consider the Illustration of Mercy (30-37)

Verse 30 says, “Then Jesus answered and said: ‘A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.’”  I am sure the man perks up at this point just as some of you do when a preacher begins to tell a story.  The preacher may be quoting from this Scripture and that Scripture and bringing a solid exposition of a text, but heads soon begin to fill with doctrine, become heavy and begin to nod . . . but just wait till the preacher says, “A guy is walking down the street,” and the room comes alive!  Everyone rises and wakes the person next to him and says, “Cheer up, he’s going to tell a story now!”

The road to Jericho is still visible today.  It is an 18 mile stretch downhill some 3,000 feet from Jericho to Jerusalem.  The terrain is rocky and in Jesus’ day thieves were notorious for hiding along the Jericho road, known then as the “red and bloody way,” as these thieves frequently burglarized unsuspecting travelers.  This man walks along the Jericho road, and thieves jump him.  They strip him of his clothing, they beat him, and they leave him half dead. 

Jesus says in verses 31 to 32, “Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise, a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.”  These two, the priest and the Levite, pass by the man without stopping to help him.  Maybe because they were involved in spiritual duties in the Jewish synagogue, they feared becoming spiritually and ceremonially unclean.  We do not know.  The point is that they did not stop to show mercy and compassion.  We would have expected such mercy to come from these two, they are after all the “spiritual people,” not unlike the expert in the law who was asking Jesus about eternity, but they both pass by. 

Where does the man’s help come from?  Verse 33 tells us, “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.”  Maybe there was a gasp in the crowd at this point in Jesus’ story.  A Samaritan!  Who would have expected help to come from a Samaritan?  Some of you will remember John’s editorial comment in His Gospel, John 4:9, where he writes, “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”  Most Jews considered the Samaritans as “half-breeds,” and unworthy of any attention at all.  In John 8:48 some Jews use the term contemptuously in expression their hatred of Jesus.  They say, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?!”  Who would have expected this man to be helped by a Samaritan?

Verses 34 and 35 further tell us, “So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’”  The Samaritan, the “Kind Samaritan,” rubs soothing oil upon the man’s beaten body and pours wine as an antiseptic into the man’s wounds and he cares for him.  He interrupts his own schedule and takes the beaten man to a nearby inn where he cares for him through the evening, perhaps making sure he lives through the night.  The next day the Good Samaritan takes two denarii – the equivalent of two days wages – and gives the money to the innkeeper in case the man has any other needs.  And if this money is not enough the Good Samaritan will repay all at a future date.

Now Jesus takes the position of the questioner.  He asks the expert in the law in verses 36 and 37, “’So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?’  And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’  Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”  Strictly speaking, Jesus never answers the man’s question.   Have you ever noticed that?  The lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” 

Jesus does not answer that question. 

He answers a different question. 

He answers the question,

“How can I be a loving neighbor?”

In essence Jesus says, “You did not ask me this, but you should have.  You really should have asked, ‘How can I be a neighbor?’”  That is the kind of question My true followers ask Me.” 

The man wanted to know

When compassion is optional

And Jesus, in essence, says “Never.”

Remember . . .

That Jesus is not teaching

A sort of salvation by works:

Do your best to love God

And love your neighbor

And you will get into heaven. 

None of can love God

And neighbor perfectly.

Remember . . .

That this man needed

To be humbled. 

He came not to

Jesus trusting Him,

But testing Him.

He didn’t need instruction, he needed humility.

The moral demands of the Old Testament are not set aside by the New Testament.  The moral demands of the Old Testament are fulfilled perfectly in Jesus Christ who said, “I have not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it” (Matthew 5:17).  As our substitute, Christ fulfills the law perfectly for us.  He takes our sin upon Himself so that our sin is paid for; and He fulfills the righteous demands of the law for us so that we may receive His righteousness.  Then, we who are Christians are saved from the penalty of sin will then live new lives in Christ, new lives that endeavor to live out the moral commands of the law – not because the law saves us, but because the law is good for us. 

We live it out

As an evidence

That we are

Truly born again.

So . . .

Acts of kindness flow from the Gospel,

But . . .

Acts of kindness are not themselves the Gospel. 

Acts of kindness are not the way to life

But . . .

For the Christian, they are the way of life.

Put another way . . .

Showing mercy to one’s neighbor is

Evidence of having received mercy.

With that in mind, let me share with you about five ways we can show mercy this week . . .

1) Allowing For Divine Interruptions.

This Samaritan no doubt had his own schedule as he was making his way down the Jericho Road.  If he were us today, he would have carried a day-timer, or a smart phone with his calendar in it and he periodically pulled it out of his pocket the way so many of us do, checking to see whether we have received another email, or text, or tweet.  But he was open to interruptions.  We need to allow for Divine interruptions.  Allow God to change your schedule one day this week and marvel at how God brings people into your lives that you may bless them.

The priest and the Levite missed their opportunity.  Whereas the priest and the Levite passed by the wounded man, verse 33 says that this certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, “came where he was.”  The problem with many of us is that “we are not where the man is.”   We are not where the man is because we are caught up in our own little worlds, and our own “Christian causes,” complete with petitions we pass out and signs we stick in our yards and stickers we put on our cars, but “we are not where the man is.”  We do not open our eyes to the needs all around us.

2) Taking Time To Really Listen To Others.

Husbands listening to wives, children listening to parents, supervisors listening to workers, co-workers listening to one another – really listening.  Listen like Jesus.  Take time to do that this week.  Really listen to others.

3) Meeting Needs Of Others (Physical, Economic, Social).

Does someone need money or help?  Are we too quick to explain away our need to give to that person or is our first inclination to go and help?  Do we really love all persons regardless of race, color, culture, social status, and education?

4) Sharing The Gospel. 

What greater way to show compassion and mercy than by caring for the soul of a person?  Some of you are fearful of knowing what to say.  Share your own story, or a tract with them, or read the Gospel verses to them.  The Holy Spirit use these to let them know what Jesus has done and what He can do in their lives as they receive Him as Savior and Lord. 

5) Being Missional (Pray/Give/Go To The 4Cs)

Every Christian is a missionary.  We show mercy by being missional, taking the Gospel to the 4Cs of our Community, the Commonwealth, the Country, and the Continents.  Every one of us is called by Jesus to pray, give, or go.

God, help us beware of thinking we can love You whom we have not seen when we do not love our brother whom we see at every opportunity.  Thank you, God, for showing the greatest mercy and compassion one could show by coming to us in the Person of Jesus Christ, coming to us “where we were,” like a beaten man on the side of the road, naked, wretched and poor.  Thank you for coming to us as the compassionate Good Shepherd who took care of us and paid the debt we owed, dying for our sins upon the cross that we might be healed, saved, and forgiven.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 10:21-24 – Blessed To See And Hear

Grace For The Journey

This morning we pick up where we left off in Luke’s Gospel, which is about midway through chapter 10.  We last studied verses 17 to 20 so we pick up at verse 21 and we will read through verse 24.  In these verses, Jesus says, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see.”  He is talking about what can happen to us spiritually.  We can have everything “in place” but still not see as God wants us to see. 

If we see at all,

If we understand

The things of God.

It will be because

God has graciously

Opened our eyes.

Through the power of the Gospel, He has revealed to us that the “old way” of seeing and understanding has replaced it with a “new way” of seeing and understanding.  This is a blessing to receive.  Not everyone has received this grace of spiritual sight.  Not everyone who sees really sees.  Let’s use our eyes and take a closer look at this passage and see what it teaches us this morning.

Verse 21 says, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.  Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.’”  It is impossible for us to rightly understand what Jesus is talking about here without backing up and reading what Jesus said immediately preceding.  Jesus had sent out 70 disciples to go and proclaim that the Kingdom has come.  It is a new day.  Christ Jesus is here to save the lost and to bring sight to the blind, more than just physical sight, but spiritual sight, too.

The disciples had gone out and shared that message, and when they came back to Jesus, they were all fired up about the fact that even the demons were subject to them.  Jesus makes this statement in verse 18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”  Every time a disciple casted out a demon, it evidenced the defeat of Satan that was occurring as quickly and as suddenly as lightning flashes.  The statement is a summary statement of the comprehensive, all-inclusive, wide-ranging defeat of the evil one.

This battle goes back as far as Genesis 3:15, where we read what is often called, “The First Gospel.”  After Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, God says to serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed (or, her offspring); He shall bruise your head (Eve’s offspring shall bruise your head) and you (serpent) shall bruise His heel.”  From that point in Genesis 3:15 forward we read in the Bible of this ongoing warfare between man and Satan.  As Satan is bruising the heel of the seed of the woman, God is crushing his head.  This warfare culminates on the cross.  Satan strikes the heel of the ultimate offspring of the woman, Jesus Christ.  Jesus dies on the cross.  But when He rises on the third day, He crushes the head of the serpent.  God defeats Satan yet again.

When Jesus says in verse 21, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent,” the “these things” He is talking about is this sweeping nature of the comprehensive defeat of the Evil One that happens through the power of the Gospel, namely the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Verse 21 says this causes Jesus to “rejoice in the Spirit.”  Interestingly, it is the only statement on record we have of Jesus rejoicing.  Surely He rejoiced at other times, but this is the only time it is recorded.  We read of Jesus weeping three times, but rejoicing only once.

You also have the Trinity in verse 21.  You will never find a place in the Bible where it says, “And here is the doctrine of the Trinity,” but you see the Trinity at several points as you read through the Bible.  In verse 21, Jesus is talking.  Jesus is, of course, the Son of God.  The Son rejoiced “in the Spirit,” so you have God the Spirit.  And the Son is talking to the Father.  You have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit; one God in three Persons.

Jesus says in verse 21, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things (namely the presence of God’s Kingdom and Satan’s fall) from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.”  God hides and God reveals.  Who can understand why God reveals spiritual truth to some and hides it from others?  Jesus acknowledges in the last part of verse 21, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.”  Whatever reason God has for revealing spiritual truth to some and hiding it from others, He has good reason.

Yet, what God does is always consistent with man’s freedom and responsibility.  What Jesus says in verse 21 is a statement of fact.  The contrast between the “wise” and the “babes” is not a contrast between educated and uneducated.  It is a contrast between those who live for this world and those who live for God.  The “wisdom of this world” often makes men proud, doesn’t it?  Becoming proud and boastful, these men become resistant to spiritual truth.  Ben Stein’s interview of renowned atheist Richard Dawkins illustrates how the wisdom of this world can harden the heart of an otherwise gifted scientist.  It was striking to hear Richard Dawkins admit that it was possible some kind of intelligent being created the universe, but he would not allow for the possibility that this intelligent being was the God of the Bible.  This truth is hidden from him.  God reveals truth to “babes,” those whose hearts are humbled and softened to receive the truth of the Gospel.

In verse 22 Jesus says, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”   Verse 22 shows the unique relationship between the Father and the Son.  If all things have been given to the Son, then clearly the Son is on equal terms with the Father.  The authority of the Father is given to the Son because the Son is as much God as the Father is God.  So we see here the deity of Christ.  And then Jesus says, “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”  If anything, this verse teaches that the only way to know God is through the Son.  No one can know God apart from the Son.  When someone says, “I know God” but then does not live for Christ, we have to help them understand that no, in fact, they do not know God.  No one can know God apart from the Son.  This is why the Father says at the transfiguration of Jesus, “This is My beloved Son.  Hear Him” (Luke 9:35)!

This was the essence of Peter’s statement in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no other name, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” but the name of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Himself says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to Father except through the Son.”  The only way we can be know God and be saved from sin and have God’s forgiveness is through the Gospel, through Jesus Christ.  Only Christ has this unique relationship with the Father.

Verses 23 and 24 tell us, “Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see;’ for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.”  What a blessing it is to see!  What a blessing to have spiritual sight and spiritual hearing!  Jesus says, “Many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it,” but you have.  Jesus may have asked, “Do you realize how privileged you are?!”

The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:10, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you.”  Do you realize how blessed you are to see and hear?  Do you realize how blessed you are to share in God’s kingdom?  Not everyone sees.  Many walk around as though they had two pair of contacts in their eyes, neither pair helping them to see.  If we see at all it is only because God has opened our eyes.  If we hear at all it is only because God has opened our ears.  We have spiritual knowledge and understanding not because we are good or because we are educated or because we are church members.  If we see, we see because God has opened our eyes. 

I believe we can draw three truths regarding what we see and  hear when God opens our eyes and ears from these verses . . . 

1) God Reveals To Us His Triumph Over Evil.

Not everyone understands that God has already conquered evil.  This is the truth that caused Jesus to rejoice back in verse 21.  Satan was continually falling as quickly as sudden flashes of lighting.  In Christ Jesus is the comprehensive defeat and triumph over the Evil one.  Every time Satan bruises the heel of the seed of the woman, God crushes his head.  Satan is a defeated foe.  God triumphs over evil.  This is a spiritual truth that not everyone sees.

We pick up the newspaper and we read that over 80 have died now in the horrible twisters that swept through Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas recently and we wonder where is the triumph of evil in that?  It would seem that Satan is doing a pretty good job of striking the heel of the seed of the woman.  And surely, none of us can know fully the mind of our perfect God and His sovereign ways.  Tornadoes, disasters, and tragedies are reminders of just how small we are in this world, and just how absolutely dependent we are upon the One True God for everything we have.  God has made a way for us to be saved, eternally saved, even from the ravages of storms and utter destruction.  Jesus says in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”  While Satan is striking the heel of the seed of the woman, God is crushing his head.

God reveals to us His triumph over evil and this truth causes us to live in joy.  We know that God is there and He always does what is right.  Whether we are suffering in what seems to be a dead-end job, or a seemingly hopeless medical challenge, or a strained marriage – God is there, crushing the head of the Evil One.

David Wilkerson certainly understood this truth.  He had eyes to see and ears to hear. Some of you will have known David Wilkerson, who was pastor of the 5,000 member Time Square Church in one of New York City’s red-light districts and author of the famous book, The Cross and the Switchblade.  Wilkerson died tragically when his automobile struck a semi-truck.  In his last blog post earlier Wednesday morning, he wrote these words, “To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: weeping will last through some dark, awful nights and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, ‘I am with you.  I cannot tell you why right now, but one day it will all make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan.  It was no accident.’”

When God opens our eyes to see, we understand that He has triumphed over all evil. 

Secondly, when God opens our eyes to see and our ears to hear, we understand that . . .

2) God Draws Us To Himself Through Christ.

Jesus says in verse 22, “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal.”  We cannot know God until Jesus Christ reveals God to us.  Did you catch the glimpse of Good News at the end of this verse?  The Son “wills to reveal” this saving knowledge of God to certain ones.  Who can understand this fully?  It is only by God’s grace that Jesus Christ reveals saving knowledge of the Father to us.

Verse 22 is similar to John 6:44. where Jesus says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”  The Father draws souls to Himself through Christ, who chooses to reveal the Father to certain ones.  God draws us to Himself through Christ.

If anything, these verses remind us that no man just “decides” to become a Christian as though he made that decision on the basis of having weighed the evidence or thinking that becoming a Christian would be good for his reputation or for his family’s sake.  Many church members are lost because they believe they themselves have done the work of salvation.  This helps us understand the problem of why some professing Christians act like Christians and some do not.  Some are saved and some are not.  No one comes to Christ unless the Father draws him or her to Christ.  We must ask ourselves whether we are truly saved.

  • Joining a church saves no one. 
  • Being baptized saves no one. 
  • Living the 10 commandments saves no one.  Being good saves no one. 

We are saved only when

God draws us to Himself

By way of the Holy Spirit

Through the Lord Jesus Christ

In the power of the Gospel.

Has there been a point in your life where you can trace the Hand of God working in such a way as to convict you overwhelmingly of your sin, humbling you to the dust, and you cried out in repentance, “God be merciful to me, a sinner?”  If not, you are lost and on the road to hell.  You need to be saved.  If there has been such a time, then you have, the basis of your joy.  Jesus says in verse 20, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”  There is no greater gift than the certainty that when we die we will spend eternity in heaven because God has drawn us to Himself through Christ and our names are written down in heaven.  They are written there not because we were church members, deacons, pastors, and Sunday school teachers.  There are many lost church members, deacons, pastors, and Sunday school teachers.  Our names are written down only when we have humbly come to Christ, our hearts having been softened, His truth having been revealed to us and we receive that truth as a babe with child-like trust.

When God opens our eyes and ears, we understand that God triumphs over evil and He draws us to Himself through Christ. 

Thirdly, when God opens our spiritual eyes and ears, we understand that . . .

3) God Uses Us To Declare His Greatness.

Remember that the context of this paragraph is couched in the mission of the 70 disciples.  They were going around declaring the truth that God’s kingdom had come in Christ.  This is the truth that the disciples had seen and heard, and Jesus had said to them, “He who hears you hears Me” (Luke 10:16).  God uses us to declare His greatness and those who hear us, hear Him.

  • God uses us to declare His greatness through worship, through singing the wonderful truths of God. 
  • God uses us to declare His greatness through witness at home among our family and at work among our co-workers. 
  • God uses us to declare His greatness through sharing Jesus Christ to a neighbor, to a fellow student at school, through missional work from our neighborhood to the nations. 
  • God uses us to declare His greatness through our giving, our tithing, and our serving.

What is the motivation for our declaring His greatness through all of these means?  The motivation is joy.  Jesus told the disciples to “rejoice” that their names are written in heaven, the disciples’ joy.  We share in the joy of our Lord Jesus Christ who “rejoiced in the Spirit.”

When we come to terms with what it means to see and what it means to hear, we live every day in joy.  We live joyfully because we understand that there is meaning behind everything that happens, that God is in control, and He always does what is right.  We rejoice that our eyes and ears have been opened to see and hear this truth.  Thank God that thought, “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see!”

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 10:17-20 – The Source of True Joy

Grace For The Journey

Jesus had sent out 70 people to go out on a mission.  They were to go out into the surrounding towns and proclaim the kingdom of God.  They were to tell people that the time had come when God would rule and reign and right all wrongs.  The 70 go out and proclaimed this message of the kingdom.  Now they return and we read how their mission journey went.

Some of you have seen the movie that was out a couple of years ago called, “Amazing Grace.”  It is based on the true story of William Wilberforce, the 18th century young man who changed Great Britain by arguing in Parliament against the slave trade.  The movie tells about his life, including his meetings with John Newton, author of the great hymn, Amazing Grace.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie occurs sometime after Wilberforce’s conversion to Christ, when he gets saved.   There is this scene where Wilberforce is out by himself in the back yard of his house, lying upon the grass, just laughing and talking to God.  His house butler comes out for something and finds Wilberforce in this state of joy.  At first Wilberforce is a little embarrassed, but then shares with his butler about his enjoying the presence of God.

Some of us can share a similar testimony.  We came to know God in a personal way and nothing else in all the world mattered to us.  We have been saved and we will trade our salvation for nothing.  Oh, the joy of knowing God!  Yet, today when one looks at the typical professing Christian in the typical American community he sees anything but joy.  There go the Christians, off they go to their churches on Sunday, drudgery to many of them, bickering to one another, and yelling at their kids.  During the week, they look very much like the people who are not Christians.  They seem to have the same interests and aspirations as lost people.  They seem – in the main – a very joyless group of people.

There may be a number of reasons for these things, but in today’s study I would like to suggest that where true conversion has taken place, that is, in the cases of those who are truly saved, these Christians who seem to have lost their joy have done so because they have located the source of their joy in the wrong places.  Does this describe any of you?  When you think of God and your salvation in Him through Christ does your heart flutter?  Do you frequently smile through the day when you pause to think of your salvation?  Or do you think at all about it?  Have you lost the joy of God’s salvation?  As we look at these verses more closely we will discover the source of true joy.

When the 70 return from their mission trip they are excited.  In verse 17 they say, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”  As the 70 had gone out into the various towns on the way to Jerusalem they find great success in their mission.  They even succeeded in casting out demons in the name of Jesus Christ and they are pretty fired up about that.  I suppose I would be, too, wouldn’t you?  I mean that is something, isn’t it?  And Jesus shares in their joy.  He makes this statement in verse 18, that is a bit puzzling at first, “And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”  Every time the disciples succeeded in casting a demon out of someone, it was evidence of the defeat of Satan, a defeat occurring as swiftly and suddenly as a lightning flash.  Whatever else this phrase means, it is, at its core, a summary statement of the comprehensive defeat of Satan.  The kingdom of God has come and the kingdom of Satan is being defeated.  Jesus says later in chapter 11, verse 20, “Bit if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

This phrase in verse 18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven,” is a summary statement of the comprehensive defeat of Satan.  It is very important that we understand this because it goes all the way back to Genesis 3.  Genesis 3:15 is sometimes called the “first Gospel,” proto-euengelion. In the Greek.  It just means “first Gospel.”  The context is Adam & Eve’s sin shortly after creation, their giving in to the temptation of Satan who speaks to them through the serpent in the Garden of Eden.  After they sin, God speaks a word of judgment to the serpent.  He says, “I will but enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  Here is a battle where the serpent will bruise the heel of the woman’s offspring (the entire human race) and the Seed of the woman (singular here, the one Seed), will Himself crush the head of the serpent.

This is why Sinclair Ferguson has rightly said that, “everything in the Bible is a footnote to Genesis 3:15.”  Everything we read in the Bible is somehow rooted in this ongoing battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.  We read time and again of Satan’s bruising the seed of the woman and God’s crushing the head of the serpent, whether it is the story of Cain and Abel or the Israelites and the Babylonians or Daniel and the lion’s den, or the Christians and the non-Christians.  The antagonism between good and evil is ongoing.

We must not think of this as dualism . . .

The philosophy that says good and evil

Are equal and they battle it out every day

And sometimes good wins and sometimes evil wins. 

Satan is a defeated foe.

This is why in the Book of Job we read that Satan must come and ask permission to tempt Job.  Why?  Because God is greater.  As Satan is bruising the heel of the seed of the woman, God is crushing Satan’s head. 

Nowhere is this truth evidenced

More profoundly than upon the cross.

It would appear that Satan has won.  He has struck a fatal blow against the heel of the seed of the woman.  Jesus Christ is dead, but on the third day, the Bible tells us in Colossians 2:15, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  God Himself crushes the head of the serpent.  God will always win.  God is greater.  In verse 18 of our text we must understand it as a summary statement of the comprehensive, all-inclusive, wide-ranging defeat of the evil one.

This truth is further illustrated in Jesus’ giving authority to the disciples over the destructive efforts of Satan.  Jesus says in verse 19, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  It is His authority to give because He has authority over Satan and He has authority over Satan because He is God.  He Himself is crushing the head of the serpent.  Christ can give the disciples authority to trample on serpents and scorpions (symbols of evil), and over all the power of the enemy so that nothing shall by any means hurt them.

Serpents and scorpions are symbols of evil.  We are not to take this verse out of context and bring snakes to our worship services and handle them and pass them around.  Leave that to the people in West Virginia or wherever people do that.  This verse is Jesus’ way of saying He has authority over the destructive efforts of Satan and He will protect His disciples from Satan’s powers.  If, and I stress if, the disciples should find themselves in a situation where they encounter a literal snake or serpent then God will protect them just as He protected Paul when that viper came out of the fire on the island of Malta and fastened itself to his hand. Paul just shook it off into the fire.  That is the idea.  Paul did not bring the snake with him in box to be used in a worship service.  If anybody does that, all I can say is they deserve to be bit.

What is happening in these verses is a footnote to Genesis 3:15.  As Satan is bruising the heel of the seed of the woman, God is crushing his head.  Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from the sky.”  As a result of Christ’s coming, Satan is defeated.  God Himself is crushing his head.

Now that is reason to rejoice, isn’t it?  But Jesus says in verse 20, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”  However wonderful it would be to cast demons out of people, Jesus says there is something far greater.  Rejoice not that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written down in heaven.  Rejoice because you are saved.  In Philippians 4:3, Paul refers to those “whose names are in the Book of Life.”  In Revelation 3:5, Jesus speaks of those whose names “will not be blotted out of the Book of Life.”  At the Great White Throne Judgment the ones who were cast into the lake of fire were those whose names “were not written in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:15).”

When we are saved, God writes our names into a book called the Book of Life.  Our names are written in heaven.  It is a marvelous thing to think about.  When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, He writes down our names in the Book of Life in heaven.

As we return to this question, “Where do we locate our joy?”  We may locate it in a number of places.   The first response is . . .

1)      Not In Our Possessions.

Remember that these 70 disciples were sent on a journey without a lot of stuff.  They were not to carry with them extra money, extra sandals, and so forth.  They were to be content with whatever they received and wherever they stayed.  We noted how this serves to illustrate that the Christian life is not about the amassing of great fortunes and possessions.

God never intended that we should joy first in stuff . . .

  • God never intended that we should love and enjoy in our house and all the stuff inside more than we should love and enjoy Him. 
  • God never intended for us to enjoy in our automobiles, toys, and clothes more than we enjoy Him. 
  • God never intended that our hearts beat more quickly for the latest technological gadgetry or game system more than our heart beats with joy at the thought of Him and our relationship with Him. 

We are not to locate the source of our joy in our possessions. 

Number two . . .

2) Not In Our Power.

The 70 were excited that they had power over the demons.  Jesus says, “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you.”  It is not that your power over the enemy is not a big deal.  It is a big deal, but not the biggest deal.  It is not as big as your salvation.  Remember that these 70 disciples are unknown and rather unexceptional people called to a life of obscurity.   They were not to be enamored with power.  They are, as Jesus will say later, “little babes” among the “wise and prudent” (verse 21).

We are you to rejoice in your power or prestige.  We may have some degree of power or authority at work or among your peers.  We are not to rejoice in that.  We are not to let our powerful position be the driving force to motivate us.  We are not to allow our heart to be captured by desires to be powerful and influential as though nothing at all mattered.  Our work is not the most important thing in the world.

The source of our joy is not to be found in our possessions or our power. 

Thirdly . . .

3) Not In Our Performance.

I find this truth particularly interesting because these 70 disciples are doing a good thing.  They are going around and preaching the kingdom of God and healing the sick, yet Jesus does not want them to joy primarily in this mission work.  Missional work is a great joy.  Evangelism is a great joy.  Church work is a great joy.  The use of our spiritual gifts for God’s glory is a great joy.  But none of these things are to be the primary joy of our lives.

The source of our joy is not to be found in our possessions, in our power, or in our performance. 

Rather the source of our joy is to be found . . .

4) In Our Position (Our Salvation).

Jesus says in verse 20, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” 

This joy is the driving force

Behind every other joy. 

This joy is greater than the joy of

Possessions, power, and performance. 

 This joy has nothing to do with us

And everything to do with God.

What causes your heart to beat more quickly? 

  • A paycheck? 
  • A sudden rise in your investments? 
  • Winning the big game? 
  • A certain boy or girl? 
  • A job or career? 
  • Popularity? 
  • Success?

Our greatest joy should be that we rejoice because our name is written in heaven. 

There is nothing more important

Than making sure our

Names are written in heaven.

Nothing.  Your job may seem most important.  Your career, your family, your stuff.  But nothing is more important than making sure God has saved your soul from hell.

And when this has truly happened, you never tire of it.  Let me ask you a question, “When was the last time you laughed in joy at the thought of your salvation?”  I forget where I heard this but a man riding a cart to a town where he is going to receive all kinds of riches and treasure, maybe an inheritance.  He had been riding for hundreds of miles and he is just a few feet from the gate where he is going to get all this wonderful stuff and then the wheels come off the cart.  Rather than leaving the cart and sprinting joyfully the rest of the way through the city gate, he picks up the broken wheel and wanders off muttering about how his cart broke down.

This is a fitting illustration of what it is like to completely forget about the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). 

  • Because we have located the source of our joy in our possessions when we lose our stuff we lose our joy.
  • Because we have located the source of our joy in our power then, when we lose our power we lose our joy.

We are like the guy who has forgotten his inheritance, muttering about a broken wheel that came off a cart, forgetting about the surpassing riches of Jesus Christ and eternal salvation in Him.

Because we can rejoice that our names are written in heaven, we can say . . .

There’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!
And the white robed angels sing the story,
“A sinner has come home.”
For there’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!
With my sins forgiven I am bound for Heaven,
Never more to roam.

Do you know for certain that God has written down your name?  Can you say . . .

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 13:1-17 – Glorious Things Done By Jesus

Grace For The Journey

We have been talking in recent weeks about the matter of “active listening.”  We listen to the reading, preaching, and teaching of the Word intentionally, listening as though our lives depended upon it, as indeed they do.  Active listening is to be contrasted with passive listening, hearing of the Word, but not really being tuned-in to the Word.  People were certainly listening actively to Jesus.  In the passage before is today, Luke gives us Jesus’ last teaching in a synagogue.  The people are listening carefully to Jesus and verse 17, gives the response of the people to what Jesus had been saying and doing.  It says, “And when He had said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitudes rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.”  Picking up on that last phrase, I want to look in our study today on the matter of the “Glorious Things Done by Jesus.”

This passage divides evenly into two main sections.  If you like outlines, perhaps this will help you to arrange the material for your thinking. 

  • We have Jesus healing a woman inverses 10 to 13;
  • And then in verses 14 to 17 we have Jesus dealing with someone who objects to the healing, a person Jesus calls out for his hypocrisy

Let’s look a little more closely at this passage before taking away some pointed principles that surface from our study. 

First . . . 

I. Consider The Healing. 

Verses 10 and 11 tells us, “Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.  And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.”

This woman’s condition did not keep her from being active in the synagogue.  She came to learn and worship, never once complaining of her plight.  She had been bent over for years and I am sure walked very slowly.  She was bent over like that all the time.  The Bible does not tell us what kind of condition she had.  Most scholars believe had some sort of arthritic problem that prevented her from standing up straight.

Verse 11says that the woman’s condition was caused originally by “a spirit of infirmity,” or an “evil spirit.”  This is not to say that the woman was demon-possessed, but that her condition was like every person’s condition in a fallen world.  This was a common way to refer to sickness, all sickness – spiritually and physically – stands in need of Christ’s redemptive work.  This woman needed healing. 

Verse 12 and 13 tell us, “But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, ‘Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity’ (Literally, “Set free from your sickness.”) And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

Now the larger context – and we will see this more fully next time when we look at the two parables that follow; the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven – the larger context of this healing concerns Jesus and the arrival of His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

The healing of this woman is about primarily the arrival of the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God comes with Christ.  It is both “now” and “not yet.”  It is “now” for those who look to the redemptive work of Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior, those who believe Jesus to be the Son of God.  For these, the Kingdom of God has come “in part.”  When Christ returns, the Kingdom of God will come “in full.” 

This is the larger context as seen when you turn in your Bibles back a few chapters to chapter 4 of Luke’s Gospel and you recall how Jesus began His earthly ministry.  He was in another synagogue there and He had stood to read from the Old Testament and reading from Isaiah in Luke 4:18, He says, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”  This is what Jesus has been doing since leaving that synagogue in chapter 4, all through chapters 5 through 13.  He has been “preaching the gospel to the poor; healing the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and setting at liberty those who are oppressed.”  These works are evidence of the fact, He says in Luke 11:20 that, “The Kingdom of God has come upon you.” 

That is the healing.  It is followed by the hypocrisy . . .

II. Consider The Hypocrisy.

Verse 14 states, “But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.’”  This Jewish synagogue ruler took care of the facilities, coordinated meetings there, and oversaw the teaching.  He was a strict observer of the Law, but blind to the point of the Law.  He did not believe Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law.  He did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God and did not want the crowd getting caught up with Him, either.  So this man – intending his words for Jesus – speaks them to the crowd!  The synagogue ruler misses the point of the Sabbath entirely.  As Jesus says elsewhere, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).”   

Verse 15 tells us, “The Lord then answered him and said, ‘Hypocrite!  Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?’”  Jewish law made allowances for acts of mercy and necessity on the Sabbath, including caring for the needs of animals.  Jesus says, “Look, if it’s permissible for you to “set free” a bound ox or a donkey in order to meet its needs, how much more should you desire to “set free” a bound woman in order to meet her needs?  Jesus continues in verse 16 by saying, “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham (a fellow Jew), whom Satan has bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”   

Jesus rightly calls the synagogue ruler out on his hypocrisy.  He was a hypocrite because he allowed his zeal for the Law to keep him from understanding the point of the Law.  His religiosity eclipsed necessary virtues like compassion, kindness, and mercy.  He cared more for animals than for humans!  If on the Sabbath “bound” animals may be given water to drink, how much more should “bound” souls be given to drink the Living Water?   Verse 17 concludes with, “And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.” 

In the time remaining, let’s consider together a few of the “Glorious things done by Jesus.”  First, this passage teaches that . . .

1) Jesus Has Power Over My Sickness.

Here is a woman who has been sick for 18 years and Jesus heals her.  The healing happens instantaneously and without any act of faith required on her part.  Verses 12 and 13 simply say that Jesus saw the woman, called her to Himself, and healed her.  That is it.  It happens quickly and instantaneously.  And her response is natural – the last part of verse 13 says she “glorified God.”  That is what we do when we are healed!

Apparently, she was used to glorifying God.  After all, she is there in the synagogue for the purpose of glorifying God through corporate worship.  It is hardly possible to preach on, or study, this text without noting that here is a woman, physically-challenged, bent over, but she has made it to “church” to worship.  I am sure he did not always “feel” like coming to worship, but she came nonetheless.  I think it is helpful for those of us who are younger to realize and appreciate the great lengths to which some people go to be in worship every Sunday, especially some of our older, faithful members.  This is one of the benefits of a healthy church family where there are people from every generation.  Some go to great lengths just to be present for worship.

This woman was sick and Jesus healed her of her sickness.  Ultimately all healing comes by way of the Good Physician, our Lord Jesus, whether healing comes by His saying the word or through a medical doctor or medicine.  Jesus has power over all sickness.

At the same time, however, we must take care to note that it is not always God’s will to heal physically every person.  Remember that this woman had been sick for 18 years.  18 years is a long time.  She was not “out of God’s will,” nor can we conclude that she did anything to deserve her sickness.  Like the man born blind in John 9, this woman was sick so that “the works (and glory) of God should be revealed” in her (John 9:3).  This truth can be safely concluded about all of God’s children who are bound in sickness.  Though we may not understand fully all of God’s ways, we can be sure that He knows what He is doing with us and that we are sick not without the notice of His tender care.  We are what we are that “the works of God should be revealed” in us – however God so chooses to “work” His works.

Jesus has power over my sickness.  Secondly . . .

2) Jesus Has Power Over My Sorrow.

This passage also serves to remind us that Jesus cares for the outcast, the downtrodden, the looked-over, the despised, the unnoticed, and the rejected.  Can you picture this bent-over woman coming to the synagogue every Sabbath?  No doubt people pointed fingers at her and whispered about her.  Imagine how she slowly struggled to make her way to the synagogue and stumbled about trying to find a place to sit down.  Charles Spurgeon suggests she may have “walked about as if she were searching for a grave.”

What a sight she must have been – and what sorrow she must have felt.  Yet while she came sorrowing, she went home singing!  The Bible says she left “glorifying God.”  This is one of the joys of meeting Jesus in public worship.  How many times have we said, “You know, I did not feel like coming today, but I sure am glad I did.”   We come sorrowing and we go home singing.

Jesus has power over your sorrows.  He knows all things.  Verse 12 says, “But when Jesus saw her.”  Jesus saw her.  He sees you, too.  He knows you.  He knows the pain you feel, the hurt you have, and the trials you face.  He loves you and is there for you.

If you can believe that and trust Him, you too may go home singing today.  Jesus has power over our sickness and power over our sorrow.  And all this because, thirdly . . .

3) Jesus Has Power Over My Sin.

Every physical healing of Jesus is an illustration of spiritual healing.  Our need for spiritual healing is far greater than our need for physical healing.  We are all in need of spiritual healing.  The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We are all sinners, “bent over,” if you like, just as this woman, bent over in sin.  We are fallen.  And there is no one who can “straighten us up” but Jesus.  I really do not want to make too much of the imagery here, but it is true, isn’t it?  We are bent over in sin and Jesus comes to straighten us up.  He comes to us.  He takes the initiative and sets us free.

There is no evidence here that this woman comes to be healed.  She is just “there,” just like many of us today would say we are just “here.”  This woman asks for nothing.  She is just there, and Jesus sees her.  He takes the initiative.  We serve an Initiative-Taking God!  He comes to us in our sinful condition.  He sees us and He comes to us and He “sets us free.”  Here again is what makes Christianity different from every other major religion.  Salvation comes not in our attempts to “get up there to God,” but salvation comes as a result of God’s coming down to us, dying on a cross for our sins, and rising for our justification, so that we by faith, receiving Him into our lives may be saved.  He knows what we are going through, He sees us, and He comes to us in power to reclaim and restore!

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 13:6-9 – What Tragedy May Teach Us – Part 2

Grace For The Journey

The date September 11th has become a date that causes most of us to pause and reflect on the unfortunate reality of national tragedy.  Our family recently watched a documentary about how persons were affected by this tragedy that occurred 20 years ago today.  Most adults can tell you exactly where they were 20 years ago when they first heard the horrific news about terrorists hijacking planes and flying them into the World Trade Center in New York City.  Nearly every American citizen can tell you something about what happened September 11th, that’s the nature of national tragedies.

Those who walked with Jesus 2,000 years ago were gripped with a similar sense of tragedy.  There were two tragedies fresh on their minds; the first related to the senseless deaths of a number of people killed by a maniacal ruler while they were worshiping.  They were “the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices,” mentioned in verse one.  Then there was another tragedy that occurred in Jerusalem, a tragedy even more similar to the tragedy of 9/11.  Verse 4 tells about a people who were killed when a tower fell; the Tower of Siloam fell resulting in the deaths of some eighteen people.

Tragedies like these – whether national or personal tragedies – cause men and women to wonder about a number of things and ask questions such as, “Why did that happen?  Could this have been prevented?  Where was God?”

On Monday we began the first part of a two-part message on “What Tragedy My Teach Us.”  And we noted that the passage – verses 1-9 – can be divide evenly into two main sections, the mystery of God and the mercy of God.  Let’s review and then we will continue our study of what tragedy may teach us. 

First . . .

I. Consider The Mystery Of God’s Ways: Verses 1-5.

Monday we looked at the fact that not all of God’s ways are easily figured out.  There is great mystery in why God allows tragedy.  God says in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.”  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  For some who walked with Jesus, however, there was no mystery at all.  They thought they had God all figured out.  They believed the reason these tragic events happened was because God was judging particularly bad sinners.  The Galileans in verse 2 were killed because they were really bad sinners and they had it coming.  The 18 who died when the Tower in Siloam fell were also killed because they were particularly bad people and they had it coming so God judged them.

This was a popular view in Jesus’ day, the belief that all tragedy occurred as a result of personal sin.  Even in our day there are some who are quick to ascribe blame when national or personal tragedy occurs.  It is noteworthy here in the text that Jesus nowhere rushes to any view regarding the judgment of God.  He does not even attempt to explain why the two tragedies in these verses occurred.  Jesus does not explain why some die tragically and why others live.  Rather . . .\

He brings out one of the major lessons

We need to learn from tragedy. 

He teaches about our need to repent,

To turn from our sin and to turn to God.

Twice He asks, “Do you think those people were worse sinners than others?  I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

That is, when death comes all will perish unless we have repented.  Repentance must happen in our souls, or we will perish at the judgment.  To illustrate this matter of repentance, and to highlight God’s mercy towards an unrepentant people, Jesus tells the parable in verses 6-9.  This takes us to the second main division in the passage.

We have considered the mystery of God’s ways, secondly . . .

II. Consider The Mercy Of God’s Ways –  Verses 6-9.

Jesus says in verse 6 that “a certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.”  So the owner says to the keeper of his vineyard, the one who does the planting and tending,  “Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none.  Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?”  In other words, he is saying, “Look, this is a waste of time, waiting around for this fig tree to bear fruit; it is using up all the soil.”

I remember reading about a guy in Georgia years ago who used to refer to people he thought were lazy and unproductive, he would refer to them as, “Oxygen wasters.”  Now we may argue whether that is a nice way to talk about people, but you get his point: there were some people who were just unproductive and up to no good. This owner of the vineyard is wondering what is the point of waiting around any longer on this fig tree?  There are three years during which it should have been bearing fruit and it has not produced a single fig.  It is a soil waster, cut it down!  Not an unusual nor even unreasonable request.  But what does the gardener say?  What does the one who tends the vineyard say?  We hear it in verses 8 to 9, “But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.  And if it bears fruit, well.  But if not, after that you can cut it down.”

This parable is an illustration

Of the mercy of God towards

An unrepentant people.

Israel is like a fig tree that has been planted by God.  God looks to Israel, expecting her to bear fruit; namely to turn from her sin and turn to her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus had said back in chapter 12, verses 54 and following, that the crowds were good at discerning weather patterns, but not so good at discerning the times.  They were clueless as to who Jesus was and their need to turn to Christ before it was too late.  They should turn to Jesus before arriving at the bar of God’s judgment, like the guy who is on his way to court in Luke 12:57-59.

That theme of repentance continues into chapter 13.  The crowds of spiritual fence-straddlers are like a fig tree that does not bear fruit.  So, the owner of the fig tree which applied here is God who owns all things, the owner comes and says, “Cut it down!”   Then we have this beautiful illustration of God’s mercy: see this in verses 8 and 9, the vineyard keeper, emblematic of the Lord Jesus Christ, the keeper pleads, “No, don’t cut it down just yet!  Let me dig around it and fertilize it.  Give it a little more time, one more year.  Then, if it doesn’t bear fruit, cut it down then.”

Do you see the mercy of God in this parable?  The unrepentant crowd is like a fruitless tree.  Fig trees are supposed to bear figs.  They are supposed to bear fruit.  And while the fig tree should be cut down and the owner of the vineyard has every reason to cut it down, here comes the compassionate, merciful keeper of the vineyard who pleads: “Not just yet, a little more time, a little more mercy.”

We will flesh that out a little more fully as we move on to these six things that tragedy may teach us.  We dealt only with the first three last week and we’ll review them quickly.   

First, we noted . . .

1) Our Lives Are Uncertain.

Death is the common denominator for everyone.  It may seem like that which only happens to others, but sooner or later death will happen to us.  Our lives are uncertain.  

Secondly, we noted . . .

2) We Should Thank God For Our Preservation.

We should not take a single day of our lives for granted.  The only reason we continue to live is that God has spared us.  This is why, when speaking of the future we say, “Lord willing.” 

Thirdly, we noted the obvious implication.  Tragedy teaches us that . . .

 3) We Must Repent.

This is the application made twice by our Lord Jesus in verses 3 and 5, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”  Rather than denouncing Pilate for his horrendous actions, Jesus turns the conversation inwardly, pointing out man’s universal need for repentance.  It is as though Jesus says, “Why are you fixated on this ‘out-there’ kind of tragedy when there is a far more personal tragedy at hand: your need for personal repentance?  Unless you repent, you too will perish at the judgment to come.”

Repentance is a change of the way we think about our sin.  We hate our sin.  We turn from our sin and turn to Christ.  It is something God leads us to do.  It is not just “cleaning up our act” or “deciding to live right.”  Repentance is a gift from God that comes by His changing our hearts, giving us a supreme hatred for our sin and a love for Jesus Christ. 

We noted two aspects of repentance . . .

a) We Repent Initially As We Place Our Faith in Christ.

We believe the Gospel and we repent, turning away from sin as a dominant pattern in our life and we turn in faith to Jesus Christ. 

Secondly . . .

b) We Repent Continually As We Live Our Faith In Christ.

Repentance is something true Christians do daily, continually throughout the day, every day for the rest of our lives.  As someone said, “I hope to carry my repentance to the very gate of heaven.” 

What else may tragedy teach us?  Number four . . .

4) We Must Live A Life For God (Fruitfulness).

The fig tree illustrates the need to be fruitful, to bear fruit, and to give visible evidence that we belong to God and that we live for God.  Here was Israel, blessed to have the Old Testament Scriptures that foretold the coming of their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.  They had the benefit of worship at the temple, they had the privilege of being in the very presence of God, yet they missed the salvation that comes through personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The fig tree is not just a picture of Israel, but a picture of all who are blessed to benefit from the grace of God’s means.  We have the blessing of a Bible in nearly every home, the preaching of God’s Word, Christian radio, the freedom of worship in our country, but God may say, “Where is your fruit?  I don’t see that you are living a life for Me.”

The distinguishing feature of Christianity is fruitfulness.  Our lives must be different from the life of a non-Christian.  What does it mean to be fruitful?  What exactly is “the fruit of the Spirit?”  Think about whether you bear fruit according to Galatians 5:22-23, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  Do you bear that kind of fruit in your life?

5) We Should Thank God For His Love And Patience.

God in His great mercy has been so loving and so patient with so many of you.  God has every right to call you to His judgment bar in a moment, but He spares your life another day.  Some of you have not come to Christ, you have not been saved, and God continues to spare you another week since last Lord’s Day.  God allows you to live another day, another week, digging around you and fertilizing you with His Word, waiting to see whether you will bear fruit.  The final warning of this parable is that God’s mercy is not to be taken for granted.  God’s patience has an end. 

This leads us to the final thing tragedy may teach us . . .

6) We Must Prepare For Judgment.

The vine keeper says in verse 9, “If it bears fruit, well.  But if not, after that you can cut it down.”  Judgment will come to the fig tree if it doesn’t bear fruit.  Many commentators believe that God’s judgment came to Israel in AD 70 when Rome invaded Jerusalem and people were slaughtered and the temple destroyed.  But the danger that faced Israel was not unique to Israel.  The judgment of Israel is just a picture of the judgment that awaits all people who do not repent.

Jesus says, “Unless you repent you will all perish.”  Jesus stresses that the most important thing we can learn from a tragedy is that “Unless you repent you will all perish.”  There is nothing more important than preparing for judgment.  More important than our jobs, or our marriages, or our success, our health or our happiness is the preparing for judgment.  Jesus says, “Unless you repent you will all perish.”

John the Baptist prepared people for the coming of Jesus Christ.  Do you remember John’s words back in Luke 3?  He said to the crowds in Luke 3, verses 7 through 9, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.  And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Every one of us must prepare for judgment.  We must repent.  If we repent, then we have real hope in this world, not a false hope built on acts of human kindness or an imagined hope of world peace apart from Christ, but a real hope that comes through the power of the Gospel.  If we repent, we are blessed with hope and encouragement from the God who guides us through each day.  We are reminded every day that God is real and He is working out a perfect plan for our lives.

We have repented and so we will not perish.  We have repented and so we live in light of the hope of the Gospel, that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

There is mystery to God’s ways, but He is there and He is at work.  He is at work through your brokenness, through your pain, through your suffering.  He is at work through your mistakes, through your difficulties.  He is there.  He is the God who is “working all things together for good for those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Tragedy teaches us to look up to God and to live for God’s glory.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”