Share In His Sufferings

Share In His Sufferings

Matthew 20:22 “But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.”

 The Greek word for baptize is “baptizo.” This word was used by Plato (fourth century B.C.) to describe a man being “overwhelmed” by philosophical arguments; or it means sponges being “dipped” in fluid; and by Strabo (first century B.C.) to describe people who could not swim as being “submerged” under water. Josephus in the first century A.D. used the word to describe the city of Jerusalem as being “overwhelmed” or “plunged” into destruction by the Romans; and Plutarch (also first century A.D.) used this word to refer to a person being “immersed” in the sea. In the Septuagint (the Greek version of the O.T.), “baptizo” is used to describe Naaman dipping himself in the Jordan River… 2 Kings 5:14. From classical Greek right down to New Testament Greek, the same basic meaning has been retained: “To immerse, submerge, dip or plunge.” Jesus is stating that the disciples will indeed be plunged into the same sufferings that He will experience.

There are many forms of persecution. Having your life threatened because of your faith in Jesus is one way you can be persecuted. History shows that the church has always flourished under persecution with increased numbers and zeal. During intense, life-threatening persecution, people’s priorities get straightened out and the Lord assumes His rightful place. This always works for our good, regardless of what our outward circumstances might be. It helps to recognize that it is not you that they are persecuting, but rather Christ in you. You are actually partaking in His sufferings and will share in His rewards. With this in mind, we can actually shout and leap for joy in times of persecution.

It’s Not What You Do

It’s Not What You Do

 Matthew 20:8 “So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.”

This parable begins with Jesus’ statement that the kingdom of heaven is likened to a man who is a householder (owner of an estate). He went out early in the morning to hire workers to work in his vineyard for the day. An agreed upon price was set at a penny, the normal wage paid daily for a laborer. Later, around 9 a.m., the landowner encouraged others, standing idle in the marketplace, to work in the vineyard, not for a set wage but for “whatsoever is right.” The landowner employed more laborers at noon, at 3 p.m. and even some at 5 p.m. when there was only one hour left to work.

According to Jewish law, wages must be paid each evening before the sun sets. When it came time for the steward to pay the laborers, he began with those working the shortest amount of time and paid each man a penny (a full day’s wage). Those working the entire day murmured, for they supposed they would have received more. They agreed, however, to work for a penny, the stipulated wage agreed upon.

The context of this parable supports the teaching that it is impossible to earn the generosity of the Master. This is a lesson on grace. Regardless of whether or not our performance is better than someone else’s, we all need God’s grace because we have all come short of God’s standard. The landowner gave freely, making all equal. Jesus is saying that the benefits of the kingdom are the same for all who have become subject to its King, regardless of what they have done. Therefore, those who are last (or least) in the sense that they have not served the Lord as long or as well as others, will truly become “first” when they share equally of the Lord’s goodness with those who “have borne the burden and heat of the day”… Matthew 20:12.

Trust In Jesus As Your Savior

Trust In Jesus As Your Savior

 Matthew 19:16 “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”

On the surface, it appears that this rich young ruler was “right on” in the way he approached Jesus and sought salvation. He ran, kneeled down to Jesus, and openly professed Him as a Good Master. What could be wrong with that?

First, he acknowledged Jesus as good but not as God. This is a pivotal point.

Every major religion of the world acknowledges that Jesus lived and will even admit that He definitely was a good man, but they won’t recognize Him as God. If Jesus was only a good man, He couldn’t save anybody. Jesus didn’t just come to show us the way to God. He was the way, the only way unto the Father.

No man could come unto the Father, but by Him… John 14:6. Jesus had made this point publicly many times before. This is the reason that Jesus responded to this young man’s question the way He did. Jesus was saying, “God is the only one who is good. You must accept me as God or not at all.” Jesus was either who He claimed to be or He was the biggest fraud that ever lived. He has to be one or the other. He cannot be both.

Second, he asked what he could do to produce salvation. He trusted in himself and believed he could accomplish whatever good work Jesus might request. This is completely opposed to the plan of salvation that Jesus came to bring.

Jesus obtained salvation for us through His substitution and He offers it to us as a free gift. All we must do is believe and receive. This rich young ruler wasn’t looking for a Savior. He was trying to be his own savior. This is the reason Jesus referred him back to the commandments. He either needed to keep all of the law perfectly or he needed a Savior. Jesus desired to turn this man from trusting in himself by showing him God’s perfect standard, which no one could keep, so that then he would trust in a Savior.

Give Thanks Daily

Give Thanks Daily

 Luke 17:18 “There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”

Relatively few people who receive the goodness of the Lord return to give Him thanks for what He has done. That does not keep the Lord from doing what is right for us. He healed all ten of these lepers according to their request – not just the one who was thankful. However, there was only one out of the ten that was made “whole.”

The Lord desires that we prosper in spirit, soul, and body. He wants us to be whole – not just healed. Part of the reason God meets our physical needs is to prove to us His willingness and ability to meet our emotional and spiritual needs. The Lord is concerned about our temporal needs (Mt. 6:30), but He is even more concerned about our eternal needs. All of these lepers needed physical healing and the Lord was moved with compassion and met their need.

He was also desiring to meet their spiritual needs, but only one out of the ten came back for that.

Being unthankful is always a sign that self is exalting itself above God. A selfless person can be content with very little. A self-centered person cannot be satisfied. Thankfulness is a sign of humility and cultivating a life of thankfulness will help keep “self” in its proper place.

Thankfulness to the Lord for what He is and what He has done is a very important part of the Christian life. One of the many benefits of thanksgiving and praise is that they keep us from being “self” oriented.

Giving thanks is a totally unselfish action and is a key to relationship with the Father that makes us “whole” and not just “healed.”

Minister God’s Love

Minister God’s Love

 Luke 19:8 “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”

Zacchaeus was rich but Jesus made no demands for him to give away all his goods to the poor as He did with the rich young ruler. Zacchaeus had already repented and money was no longer his god, as was revealed by his actions. It seems that Zacchaeus was going above and beyond the requirement of restitution as stated in Mosaic law by offering to give half of his goods to the poor and to repay fourfold for his theft.

Publicans were hated by their fellow Jews. They were especially despised by the religious Jews as the epitome of sinners and Jewish religious laws prevented devout Jews from keeping company with any publican. To eat with a publican was unthinkable as the Jews considered this actually partaking of the publican’s sins. This is why the people reacted so adversely to Jesus eating with Zacchaeus.

Jesus did not eat at Zacchaeus’ house to participate in his sin but to extend mercy and forgiveness to him. This is always the criterion whereby we can judge whether or not we should be involved in a certain situation. We must not participate in other men’s sins, but the Lord doesn’t want us to retreat to monasteries either. We are the salt of the earth… Matthew 5:13, and to do any good, we have to get out of the “salt shaker.” If we can be in control and minister the love of God, then we are right to associate with sinners. But when we are being controlled by the ungodliness of sinners, we need to take control or withdraw.

Please God Not People

Please God Not People

 Mark 10:48 “And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.”

The devil will always have someone available to tell us why we shouldn’t expect to get results when petitioning God. Most people would rather stay with the crowd and not do anything to draw attention to themselves even if that means not getting their needs met. They will try to make you conform as well. If this man would have listened to the crowd, he would not have received his healing. “…ye have not, because ye ask not”… James 4:2.

This blind man is a good example of an active kind of faith. He was not passive in his approach toward healing. He boldly cried out to Jesus for mercy. When the crowd ridiculed him and told him to be quiet, he cried out even louder for mercy.

Many people believe that God can perform the miracle they need but relatively few are willing to actively pursue it until they get results. They are afraid of what others will think of them. This man had his attention focused only on Jesus. Nothing else mattered and that is why he got healed.

An integral part of faith is seeking God only with your whole heart. If we are concerned about what people think so that we can gain their approval, we will never take a stand in faith for anything that we might be criticized for. This one thing has probably stopped as many people from receiving from God as anything else. You cannot be a “man-pleaser” and please God at the same time. Satan uses persecutions to steal away God’s Word and thereby stop our faith. To see faith work, we must say with Paul, “…let God be true, but every man a liar…”… Romans 3:4.

The Cost Of Discipleship

The Cost Of Discipleship

Luke 14:28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?”

The parable of the man building a tower is a continuation of the teaching regarding what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus. This parable stresses commitment. “Jailhouse religion,” where a person is only sorry he got caught and is trying to get out of a bad situation, will not produce true discipleship. It takes a forsaking of all to be Jesus’ disciple. Jesus is simply saying, “count the cost.”

Jesus’ teaching on discipleship emphasizes commitment. Just as a king wouldn’t engage in war without thoroughly considering all the possible outcomes, so no one should attempt to become a disciple of Jesus without counting the cost. It would be better not to start following Jesus than to start and then turn back.

When a person first comes to Jesus, it is impossible to know everything that following Jesus might entail. No one, however, should be fearful of making a total commitment because of some imagined problem that may never come to pass. There should be a willingness to forsake everything to follow Jesus.

Once we make that decision, then Christ begins to live through us… Galatians 2:20, and we find a strength that is not our own, equal to whatever test we may encounter.

R.S.V.P.

R.S.V.P.

Luke 14:16, 23 “Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: …And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”

The man who made the supper symbolizes God who has invited “whosoever will” to come to Him. The parable teaches that it is not God who fails to offer salvation to everyone, but rather it is the invited guests who reject God’s offer.

These people had feeble excuses just like the excuses of those today who don’t accept God’s offer of salvation. Therefore, the Lord’s Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be furnished with “undesirables” from the world’s point of view, not because God rejects the upper class, but because they reject Him.

Those who have an abundance of this world’s possessions don’t tend to recognize their need for God as much as those who are without.

Jesus’ parable could also be applied to the Jewish nation. God offered salvation to the Jews but they, as a whole, refused Him. Therefore, the Lord sent His servants to the Gentiles to fill His kingdom.

This very parable proves that the Lord is not advocating us using force to convert people to Christianity, because this man accepted the decision of those who rejected his invitation. Therefore, it must be understood that the Lord is admonishing us to compel them to come in by our persuasion or entreaty. The word “compel” denotes aggressiveness, even in persuading of people. The Church, as a whole, and all of us as individuals are not supposed to simply hang out our “shingle” and wait for the world to come to us. We are supposed to be aggressively going into all the world with the Good News. We have an urgent command to be a witness because the time before our Lord’s return is short.

The Goodness Of God

The Goodness Of God

 Luke 12:5 “But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” These scriptures may look like they are contradictions to Jesus’ statement here; however, they are not.

There are two kinds of fear. The American Heritage Dictionary defines fear as “a feeling of alarm or disquiet caused by the expectation of danger, pain, disaster, or the like; terror; dread; apprehension.” It also defines fear as “extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power.”

It is this reverence or awe that God’s Word teaches saints to have towards God. Hebrews 12:28 says that there is a godly fear with which we are supposed to serve God and thereby implies that there is an ungodly fear that is not acceptable in serving God.

Satan has always used this ungodly dread or terror to torment godly people. Those who have been born again should have no dread or terror of God unless they are planning to renounce their faith in Jesus as their Savior. We have a covenant that guarantees us acceptance with God… Ephesians 1:6, as long as we hold fast to our profession of faith in the atoning blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

For an unbeliever, the fear of the Lord is a great deterrent from sin. However, for those of us who have received the grace of God, it is His goodness that causes us to fear him and depart from sin. His goodness is awesome!

Hypocrisy Is

Hypocrisy Is

Luke 12:1 “In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

This is the biblical definition of a hypocrite, “someone whose words and heart (actions) don’t agree.” A hypocrite may act the part of a Christian or talk like Christ, but he or she won’t do both. Hypocrisy is defined by the dictionary as, “The feigning of beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; insincerity” (American Heritage Dictionary). In the Greek, the word is “hupokrisis” and means “the playing of a part on the stage.”

Hypocrisy is often said to be doing something even though you don’t want to or feel like doing it. It is true that God demands that our motive and reason for doing things be right, but this does not mean that we always want to, or delight in, doing something. To do what God wants you to do, or to do unto others what you would want them to do unto you, is not hypocrisy… Matthew 7:12, even if you don’t feel like doing it. It is hypocrisy only when your motive for doing it is wrong and you’re not genuinely seeking the welfare and benefit of others. Remember, Jesus didn’t feel like going to the cross, but He went anyway to seek the welfare and benefit of the world.

Agape love is described as the, “love (that) can be known only from the actions it prompts.” This is not the love of complacency or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its objects… Romans 5:8.

Christian love (agape), whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward others generally, is not an impulse from the feelings. It does not always run with the natural inclinations. It (Agape) seeks the welfare of all… Romans 15:2, and works no ill to any… Romans 13:8-10. “(Agape) seeks opportunity to do good to all men. . .” Let God’s love flow through you today.