Original Intent

Have you considered how Jesus helped others to properly understand and apply the Law by looking at the original intent of the Law? Many times He was correcting how the Jewish leadership were applying laws on the Sabbath, marriage and staying away from unclean things.

Let’s look at a few examples today:

When the Jewish leadership was upset and disgusted that Jesus would eat with tax collectors and sinners, it seems they were looking at laws about staying away from unclean things. But Jesus corrected their application of those laws by looking at God’s original intent.

Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)

As the Pharisees were harshly judging Jesus and His disciples for plucking heads of grain on the Sabbath, Jesus pointed them to original intent. God did not design the Sabbath as a merciless way to punish men. He never intended to make hungry people starve and suffering people to keep suffering on the Sabbath. That was not the original intent. God did not make the Sabbath Law first and then make man, it was the other way around, Jesus pointed out.

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)

The Pharisees once again came to Jesus to challenge Him on marriage. They had many competing views on marriage, especially on what Moses said in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 about marriage and divorce. Jesus took them once again to the concept of original intent. What did God design for marriage from the very beginning? That should guide any understanding and application of any law on marriage, Jesus said.

“Have you not read? …but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:8)

As we study, understand and apply the Word of God, we need to look at the “whole counsel of God.” We can run off and apply a passage incorrectly if we don’t consider everything God has to say on the matter. That’s why Jesus often in these discussions asked the simple question, “Have you not read?” (Matthew 9:13; 12:3,5,7; 19:4; 22:31-32). It’s up to us to keep reading, studying, searching and praying for God to help us see His heart so that we can properly understand and apply His word.

God Rolled Away the Stone, Not the Scars

Matthew 28:2 – And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.”

I came across a powerful podcast today that really helped me. The title of the Podcast series is “The Bible Never Said That” by Clara Donahue. The episode I listened to was “God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle.”

Among the many profound points she made was one about how Jesus was raised from the dead and given life, but He still had the wounds and scars.

Please think about that, and meditate on it. Why did God raise Jesus from the dead, give him new blood and water, allow all His organs and internal functions to work, but still leave the wounds? The wounds were a testimony to the power of God. Jesus could say to His disciples, “Place your hands in the wounds and believe.” The wounds were a witness to what God did through Jesus.

Here is a quote from Clara Donahue in the podcast, “I feel some of my own scars pulling tight on the tender healing of my soul, and I wish they would just disappear.” Amen. But those scars, she explained, are used by God to show His power, grace and love to others.

Your wounds are not a badge to claim victim-hood through life. Those wounds are a witness to the power of God and His grace. What has God done through you? Look at the scars. Consider how God has led you through your own valleys of the shadow of death and brought you out on the other side.

John 20:20 – When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

John 20:27-28 – Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

The Well From Which You Drink

In John 4, Jesus met with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. I’d encourage you to read through John 4 and meditate upon it. Jesus has a great discussion with her about living water. It started with a discussion about physical water, but led to living water. The woman begged for this living water! And then for some reason, Jesus brings up her marital situation.

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
(John 4:10-19)

From what well had the Samaritan woman been drinking? I’m not talking about Jacob’s well. I’m talking about the relationship well. She had drawn from that well over and over (maybe for no fault of her own), but it had left her dehydrated. Those relationships hadn’t quenched any thirst at all, they had only left her empty and begging to be filled.

We drink things today that make us dehydrated. Pop. Coffee. Alcohol. Our well here at our house is really salty, we can’t drink from it; we had to buy a reverse osmosis system to deal with it. I’m sure you understand that you can drink things that leave you worse than before. Nothing really replaces good water, and nothing really replaces the living water Jesus offers.

Are you thirsty? Dehydrated? Have you become empty because you are drinking from the wrong well? Then Jesus is offering you living water!

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
(Isaiah 55:1-2)

7 Sayings of Jesus on the Cross

Yesterday, the brother who led our Lord’s Supper talked about the 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross. He referenced a short outline and I’m not sure of the source or author, but there are some great thoughts here.

  1. A prayer for His executioners“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
  2. A word of comfort for a fellow sufferer“Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
  3. A word of tender care – “Woman, behold thy son…behold thy mother” (John 19:26-27).
  4. A word of loneliness – “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).
  5. A word of need – “I thirst” (John 19:28).
  6. A word of triumph – “It is finished” (John 19:30).
  7. A prayer of resignation – “Father, into thy hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Look at our Lord in His darkest hour. Can you see His heart? Do you see His character and spirit shine through? Just an awesome thought for us today to think of what Jesus was like in the worst possible situation imaginable.

What is Jealousy?

What is jealousy anyway?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines jealous as “Hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.” It also adds that jealousy is “intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness,” and “disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness.”

There are a couple of things to note from that definition: Hostile toward a rival and hostile toward one believed to enjoy an advantage. How do you handle a rival? What if someone comes along and threatens your authority? How do you respond when others around you just seem way more talented, positive and popular? When others have things (not just possessions) that you do not have, how does that make you feel? Does it affect how you view others, how you treat them and how you talk about them?

Yesterday we looked at the fact that jealousy is behind a lot of strife in all kinds of relationships. How was jealousy part of the equation?

  • What did Paul and his companions have that the Jews in Galatia / Thessalonica didn’t? The people, both Jews and Gentiles, were flocking to hear Paul preach the gospel. Many were hanging on every word and begging to hear those same words again the next week (Acts 13,17).
  • What did Jesus have that the Jewish leaders didn’t? Again, it was that the people (from nobility to the harlots) ran to Jesus en masse to hear His teachings, be healed by Him, and to find forgiveness and grace. The Jewish leaders just couldn’t stand it that Jesus had that much popularity (Luke 15:1-2).
  • What did Abel have that Cain didn’t? Abel’s works were righteous, Cain’s works were evil. Cain saw Abel as a rival and a threat, not as a brother and an inspiration to draw closer to God (1 John 3:12).
  • What did Joseph have that his brothers did not have? Joseph was the favorite of their father, Jacob. He enjoyed advantages and privileges that the others did not (Genesis 37).

We’ll develop this more tomorrow, Lord willing, but for now think about this. If jealousy is at the root of a lot of relationship problems, shouldn’t you and I be open to the possibility that we might be jealous of others? We might not want to think of ourselves as jealous people, but God is saying that we are and it is the building block for fights. Let’s get at the root of this problem.

It was because of envy

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?(Proverbs 27:4)

Who can stand before jealousy? Great question. Here are several examples of great strife and pain caused by jealousy and envy.

  • The Roman governor Pilate knew that the Jewish leaders were envious of Jesus and that is why they delivered Jesus up (Matthew 27:18).
  • Joseph’s brothers were jealous of Joseph and sold him into slavery (Acts 7:9).
  • It was because of jealousy that the Jews in Galatia opposed and contradicted everything Paul and Barnabas tried to preach (Acts 13:45).
  • Jealousy led the Jews in Thessalonica to take wicked men and stir up the crowd against Paul and his companions (Acts 17:5).

James wrote in his letter that if we see disorder and every vile practice, we will find jealousy behind it.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
(James 3:14-16)

Family problems? Jealousy is somewhere close. Church problems? Look for jealousy. Problems at work. Envy is at work.

What is jealousy anyway? What is envy? Let’s look that tomorrow. If jealousy is such a source of strife, we ought to find out what it is, and how we can replace it in our hearts with godly qualities.

3 Crosses

I saw a thought this weekend about the three crosses when Jesus was crucified. The Bible tells us that when Jesus was crucified, He was placed in between two criminals. All three were being executed. All three were dying. During that horrible afternoon, both of those criminals mocked Jesus. Somewhere near the end of their lives, one of those criminals repented and begged in faith for Jesus’ mercy. One of those criminals never repented (as far as we know).

Matthew 27:38,44 – Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left…And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Luke 23:39-43 – One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

So what do you have? You have one man, Jesus, who was dying on behalf of sin, the sins of the world. Another man, the unrepentant criminal, was dying in his sin. The other thief who repented was dying to his sin.

What about you and me? We can’t die for sin like Jesus did. Only Jesus could die for the sins of the world. But I have two choices: am I going to die in my sins, or am I going to die to my sins?

1 Peter 2:24-25 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Are You Mephibosheth or Absalom?

Two men sat at David’s table. One was a son of David, and his name was Absalom. The other was a crippled son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth, who was brought there  because of grace and the covenant David had with Jonathan (see 1 Samuel 20:12-17; 2 Samuel 9). Usually when kings took the throne and started a new dynasty, they killed all the previous king’s family. But Mephibosheth was spared and given a place at the king’s table where he would continually be there as one of the king’s own sons.

You can see the difference in mentality between Absalom and Mephibosheth.

Absalom:

  • No blemishes, good-looking (2 Sam. 14:25,26).
  • Natural born son of the King (2 Sam. 3:3).
  • No appreciation (2 Sam. 16:21,22; 17:1-4).
  • Arrogant, spoiled (brat), who charmed or manipulated his way through life (2 Sam. 13:22-29; 14:29,30; 15:3-6).
  • Tried to steal the throne (15:10-15).
  • The thing in which Absalom gloried eventually became his downfall.

Mephibosheth:

  • Lame in both feet (2 Sam. 9:13).
  • Outsider, grandson of Saul; deserved to die (2 Sam. 19:28).
  • Very appreciative (2 Sam. 9:8).
  • Humble, servant to David (2 Sam. 9:6).
  • Honored the throne of King David (2 Sam. 19:24).

This attitude of Absalom is seen everywhere in life. In sports, politics, in business, in the home, and in the church. We don’t want to be Absalom’s, walking through life entitled and spoiled, do we? We want to live out our lives like Mephibosheth, where we have overwhelming gratitude for the blessings given to us that we did not deserve. And out of that gratitude, we humbly serve God and others. Like Mephibosheth was to David, we should be loyal to God’s throne because of the fact that God even allows us to sit at his table as one of His sons!

What Jesus Got Angry About

Today is a continuation of our study from last Thursday and Friday on anger.

Let’s think about this question: When do you see Jesus angry or indignant in the 4 gospel accounts? What we find is a consistent pattern – Jesus was angry when others were being hurt. This is not to say that Jesus never got angry about anything else, but the consistent message from the 4 gospels is Jesus really got upset when others were being oppressed. As Adrian Rogers put it something like this, Jesus was angry when he saw “hard hearts in the face of human hurts.”

God is the defender and father of the helpless and oppressed.

Psalms 68:5-6  Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

Jesus was angry and sad at their hard hearts in the face of human hurts.

Mark 3:1-6  Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand.  And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.  And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

Jesus was “greatly displeased” when His disciples tried to run off the little children.

Mark 10:13-16  Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.

Jesus was angry at those who “devoured widows’ houses” for their own financial gain.

Mark 12:40  who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Jesus was angry when the religious leaders became thieves by turning God’s house of worship into a place to take advantage of the poor.

Matthew 21:12-13  And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

Jesus was angry when those religious leaders were hypocrites and laid heavy burdens on people, but wouldn’t lift a finger to move those burdens themselves.

Matthew 23:4  They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

Let’s meditate on this for today and consider a couple of follow up questions:

Am I angry about the things God is angry about? Or am I angry about personal infractions towards me?

If I am angry about the same things God is angry about, am I dealing with my anger in a way that pleases my God?

Living on Purpose–Glorify God

I would like to share some scriptures with you in thinking about our purpose as Christians for living in this world and the results we should see as we abide in Christ Jesus.  These verses go to who we are, what we should be doing and the result we (and more specifically God) are looking for.

 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints  (1 Corinthians 1:2; NKJV)

 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.  To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (Revelation 1:5-6; NKJV)

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; NKJV)

 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  (Ephesians 2:19-22; NKJV)

9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

As Christians, we are chosen and we are God’s special people.  If we reflect on who God is and the fact we are His special people, it should generate a response that we can’t help but share with others…to proclaim Him and praise Him.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21; NKJV)

If we live for God in accordance to His purpose and our deliberate determination…He will be glorified and others will see and inquire.  Seeds of truth of the Gospel will be planted and watered and God will be at work for the increase.  Take time today and see who you are in Christ Jesus, thank God for this tremendous blessing and ask for His continued strength and guidance in sharing this awesome blessing with others in how we think, speak and act.  Glorify Him today with a thankful heart that you are His child.