Minister God’s Love

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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.

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Please God Not People

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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.

 

It’s Not What You Do

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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

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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.

God Answers Prayer

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God Answers Prayer

Luke 18:7 “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night untohim, though he bear long with them?”

This is not an exact comparison of God to this unjust judge, teaching us that we should badger God until we weary Him and He grants us our request.

Rather, Jesus is contrasting His willingness to answer our prayers with this unjust judge’s unwillingness. The parable is a contrast, not a representation.

Not only do we have God who is a just judge who will avenge His elect speedily, but we also have Jesus as our advocate or attorney who is always making intercession for us. However, we have an adversary (the devil) who is constantly accusing us and misrepresenting God (the judge). This causes men to give up (faint) and not even plead their case with God because they doubt that He will answer them anyway.

Jesus is saying that our Father is not an unjust judge that we have to pressure into doing what is right. Many times we put more faith in people and their willingness to do what is right than we do in God. Satan has deceived us about the willingness of God to answer our prayers and Jesus is countering that deception with this parable. Jesus is encouraging us to pray (petition God) and not doubt His willingness to grant our requests. To teach that we must pester God until He gives in to our pressure is not good theology.

This widow’s actions were commendable. She knew what was rightfully hers and she refused to take “no” for an answer. If we can be that confident and determined when dealing with unjust men, how much more should we persist, despite the devil’s delays, when dealing with our faithful Father. You can trust Him to always come through for you.

 

Give Thanks Daily

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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, Matthew 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.”

Our Resurrected Bodies

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Our Resurrected Bodies

John 11:13 “Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.”

There are many scriptures where death is spoken of as sleep, however, the disciples thought Jesus was speaking of Lazarus simply resting. Jesus eventually clarifies their misunderstanding by using the word “death,” but that was not His first choice. This is because God’s perspective is different than ours. Death is final to natural man but not to God. There will be a resurrection.

In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul uses natural illustrations to explain the resurrection. He speaks of seeds that are buried in the ground and “die.” Then they are resurrected as a plant. The plant and the seed bear no resemblance but they are actually the same. The plant is just in a resurrected state. Likewise, our physical bodies will die but they will be resurrected just as surely as seeds produce plants.

In the same way that a seed is different than the plant that it produces, likewise our resurrected bodies will be different. Our glorified bodies will be very similar to our physical bodies in appearance. This can be said because of what the scriptures reveal about Jesus’ glorified body. He still looked human, He ate food, had the print of the nails in His hands and feet, and He said He had flesh and bones. Yet he could appear and disappear. Our resurrected bodies will be immortal (i.e. not subject to death). Our resurrected bodies will be like Jesus’ resurrected body.

In the same way that our present physical bodies are a miraculous creation, so our glorified resurrected bodies will have their own glory. We can rest assured that God never serves dessert first. If this physical body is wonderful, our resurrected body will be even better.

Walk In The Light

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Walk In The Light

John 11:9 “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.”

Jesus compares His decision to return to Judaea to a man traveling during the day. Daytime travel doesn’t guarantee a hazard-free trip but the light does allow us to see the hazards. At nighttime, it’s inevitable that we will stumble. Likewise, walking in the light of God’s direction doesn’t mean that there won’t be problems, but the alternative of “doing our own thing” (that is walking in darkness) is guaranteed to get us into trouble.

Jesus was obeying the leading of His Father to return to Judaea. He could see exactly what was going to take place and He was going to walk in the light that His Father had given Him. Our decisions should not be based on whether or not we will be hurt in some way as a result of our actions, but we must discern God’s will and do it regardless of the cost.

The misconception that, “if God is in it, there will be no problems” is not only wrong, but is dangerous. This kind of thinking has caused many people to “back off” from what God has told them to do when things don’t go the way they expected. Our problems do not come from God, therefore, we should not pray for problems and not embrace them as being “a blessing from God in disguise.” Furthermore, when trials come, we should not be shocked,1 Peter 4:12, and not let problems or the lack thereof confirm or deny God’s will for us.

Jesus died for each one of us. Each one of us ought to live for Him. Offering ourselves to God is not just a one-time deal. We have to die daily to our own desires. This has to be a living, ongoing commitment to the Lord.