The Best Sinner
Matthew 5:20 “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
What did Jesus mean? Since the Pharisees fasted twice each week, does this mean we have to fast three times each week? Since they paid tithes on everything including spices, does this mean that anyone who fails to tithe is doomed to hell?
No! Definitely not. The Pharisees’ righteousness was based on their actions. Jesus is advocating a righteousness that is based on faith in what He did for us.
Trusting in our own actions will never grant us access to God. We may be better than others, but who wants to be the best sinner that ever went to hell? We have all sinned and come short of perfection which is what God requires, Romans 3:23.
The only one who was ever good enough to earn right standing with God is Jesus. And His righteousness is offered as a gift to anyone who will put their faith in Him as their Savior.
Jesus offers us a righteousness by faith that is so far superior to the self righteousness that the Pharisees had that there is no comparison. This is the righteousness that we need and which is available to us only through faith in Christ.
Mark 1:31 “And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.”
How did Peter’s mother-in-law minister unto Jesus and His disciples? Did she sit them down and preach to them? Certainly not. Yet sometimes people think the only way we can minister to another is to admonish them with the scriptures.
Peter’s mother-in-law apparently ministered to them by serving them. The word translated “minister” is the same word that was translated “deacon” twice in the New Testament, and “serve, served or serveth” eight times.
We can minister for the Lord by doing some of the menial tasks that many consider to be unimportant. Jesus said that even a cup of cold water given in His name would not go unrewarded, Matthew 10:42.
Many people are waiting for the important jobs to come along where they can make a big impact or receive a lot of recognition, while they pass by many lesser opportunities every day. But in the kingdom of God, we won’t be given any great opportunities until we are proven faithful in the small things, Luke 16:10.
Today, ask the Lord to show you ways you can minister to others by serving them.
Demons In The Church
Mark 1:23, “And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out;”
Many people don’t associate demon possessed people with places of worship. Yet most of the demons that Jesus cast out were encountered in the church. Why would demon possessed people be in church?
In some cases, the people were there because they were seeking help. The church, like a hospital, offers people the cure and therefore, attracts those who are sick.
In other cases, the devil sows these types of people in the church to spread spiritual disease. A church that is teaching the true Word of God should either try to evangelize these individuals or make them so convicted that they move on. Sad to say, demon possessed people can thrive in most religious settings today.
We always need to show love for the sinner as Jesus did, but we should cut the devil no slack. If a person wants to keep an evil spirit on the inside of them, they should not feel at home in church.
Let the Spirit of God live through you as He did through Jesus and you will either make people mad or glad, but there will not be indifference.
Mark 1:16 “Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.”
Jesus never chose an apostle from among the religious system. Every one of his twelve disciples were men that He chose from the secular world. It wasn’t because God didn’t have faith in those who were religious. It’s just that most of those who were part of the religious system didn’t have any faith in God.
One of the most common mistakes religious people make is to put faith in themselves. They think God will use them because of their great holiness or special abilities.
Paul said, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:”, 1 Corinthians 1:27-28.
People who recognize their own inabilities are of necessity more dependent on God. That is the way God wants it. The Lord is constantly searching for someone who recognizes they are nothing so He can do something through them, 2 Chronicles 16:9.
Instead of thinking of your responsibilities, just respond to His ability.
John 4:50 “Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.”
Jesus didn’t have to touch the child. He didn’t have to send anything home with the father to affect the cure. All He did was speak and the son was instantly healed (v. 53).
This man had traveled over fifteen miles from Capernaum to Cana to find Jesus. Therefore, the son was not within ‘earshot” so that Jesus’ words sparked some cord of hope in his heart, thereby releasing God’s power. No, Jesus’ spoken word had so much power that no barriers (such as time or space) had any affect on it whatsoever.
This is hard for us to comprehend. We spend an entire lifetime learning physical limitations and adapting to them. But there are no limits to the power of God’s word. Jesus created everything in this physical universe by His words, and that creation will respond to anything He says.
The Lord gave His Word to the Jews but they didn’t believe it. Hebrews 4:2 says, “…the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” We have been given God’s words too, in the Bible. If we will speak God’s Word in faith, we will get the same results that Jesus did here.
John 4:32 “But he saith unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.”
Food is essential for life. Without it we couldn’t grow. We get strength and vitality from food. Yet food can kill us. Improper diets kill more people than any disease.
Our soul needs nourishment too. The things we think on and the desires that we have are food to our souls. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”, Matthew 4:4.
Jesus valued spiritual nourishment more than He valued physical nourishment. He was thrilled to see this woman and the people of this town respond to His gift of salvation. Likewise, we should set our desires on the things of God so that spiritual matters are more important to us than our physical food.
The wrong diet for our souls is the leading cause of failure and depression in Christians. Being spiritually minded produces life and peace. Being carnally minded produces death, Romans 8:6.
In our health conscious society, many of us wouldn’t dream of abusing our bodies with bad diets. Yet in our soulish area, we are killing ourselves by feeding on the wrong things. Treat yourself to a healthy spiritual meal today.
John 4:14 “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Jesus painted a beautiful picture of salvation in this passage. The salvation Jesus brings is like an artesian spring which doesn’t have to be pumped. It bubbles up constantly.
Unfortunately, not every Christian’s experience matches Jesus’ description. Many people relate more to an old pump which has to be pumped and pumped. Just as a trickle of water comes, they have to rest. They lose their prime. The water stops. Then they have to start all over again.
Yet, Jesus said we would never thirst again. This doesn’t mean that one drink satisfies us forever. But, as we continue to avail ourselves of this water of life daily, we will be constantly refreshed. The well of His life is there, but we must partake.
The dryness in a Christian’s life comes when we substitute other things for the living water that only Jesus can give. Anytime a Christian begins to thirst again, it is not a reflection on the living water that Jesus gives, but rather an indication that we have been drinking from some other source.
“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation”, Isaiah 12:3.
God Is The Greatest Giver
John 4:10 “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.”
Jesus asked this woman for a drink of water, but it wasn’t water He was interested in. He wanted to give this woman eternal life.
God is the greatest giver there ever was. He lives to give. When He asks something of us we can be assured that it is only so He can multiply it and give it back to us.
God is not interested in the water we can give Him. We don’t have anything to offer God that He doesn’t already have. God wants us. And by asking us to give of our time and money or desires, He is really asking us to give ourselves.
Many a person has walked away from God sad, like the rich young ruler because all they could think about was what they would have to give up, Mark 10:22. All of our achievements and possessions are nothing compared to what God offers us in exchange.
Just as Jesus turned this woman’s attention toward what He had to offer her, we need to focus our attention on what the Lord has given us in Christ. He is no fool who gives up what he can not keep to receive what he cannot lose.
Eternal Life – A Quality Of Life
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Most people focus on the part of this verse that promises us we won’t perish. Although it’s certainly a wonderful promise, it is not the focus of this verse. The primary purpose of Jesus’ coming to this earth was not forgiveness of sins, but to give us eternal life.
Sin separated us from God so Jesus dealt with sin. However, His payment for sin was just a step toward His ultiimate purpose of reconciling man to God. If someone believes that Jesus died for their sins but doesn’t go on to enter into the close fellowship with God that Jesus made available, then they are missing eternal life.
Eternal life is not a length of life, but rather a quality of life. Eternal life is intimacy with the Father and Jesus, John 17:3. Many people have been done a disservice in being told that Jesus came to forgive us of our sins “period’. If it had been all that He did, it would have been wonderful–and much more than we deserved–but much less than what He actually accomplished.
Today, take full advantage of your salvation and go beyond the basic forgiveness of your sins into intimacy with Almighty God.
He Uses The Useable
John 2:24, “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men.”
This was the first time Jesus had ministered in Jerusalem. Multitudes believed on Him when they saw the miracles He performed, verse 23. This looked like a perfect opportunity for Jesus to take these people and use them to spread the news far and wide that He was the Christ. Instead Jesus did just the opposite. He didn’t want people proclaiming His gospel in their own ability.
This reveals an attitude of Jesus which is lacking among many Christians today. Jesus is more concerned with the quality of ministry than the quantity of ministry. In contrast, today’s Christians often feel that “the end justifies the means.”
We take new converts and place them in leadership–which is directly opposed to the Bible’s instructions, 1 Timothy 3:6. Many times movie stars or other famous people who have come to the Lord are made spokesmen for the Christian faith. This works to the harm of these people and the Body of Christ as a whole.
Some of you can’t understand why the Lord hasn’t used you, but rest assured the Lord is using everyone who is usable. Instead of looking at the need and begging God to use you, take a hard look at yourself and ask the Lord to make you usable.