God Recognizes Our Sacrifices

bible11

God Recognizes Our Sacrifices

Mark 12:41-42 “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.”

The treasury that is spoken of here is a place located in the Women’s Court that was in the temple complex but was not part of the temple itself. Women were not allowed in the temple, so the fact that this widow was casting her offering into the treasury verifies the location of the treasury.

Jesus used this instance to teach His disciples a very important lesson. He did not say these things to this widow personally. God’s promises concerning giving give us an assurance that this offering was blessed back to this woman in this life, but the widow did not hear His commendation. There is no indication that this poor widow ever knew that anyone recognized the extent of her sacrifice.

Likewise, there are times when we may feel that no one knows or appreciates our sacrifices. However, just as surely as Jesus saw this woman’s giving and knew of the sacrifice involved, God takes note of our smallest deeds and one day, will reward us openly.

The Lord does not judge the size of our gifts by how much we give, but rather by how much we have left over after we give. Men tend to compare themselves with each other but the Lord doesn’t judge our giving by what others give. He judges our gifts by what we have to give. The Lord looks at the heart of the giver more than at the gift. The Lord weighs the giver more than the gift.

When we stand before the Lord, all of our works, not only our giving, will be tried to determine what sort – not what size they are.

God’s Mercy Is A Gift

bible11

God’s Mercy Is A Gift

Matthew 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

One of the ways that God’s goodness is revealed is by His mercy. We may describe mercy as the readiness of God to relieve the misery of fallen creatures. Many times, mercy is called compassion or loving kindness. It is expressed toward the sinner because of the misery that sin has brought upon him.

God’s mercy to the believer is revealed by God taking away the misery of sin’s consequences through the New Covenant of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Mercy is not something merited or earned, but a gift, as the apostle Paul states, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to HIS MERCY He saved us,…”, Titus 3:5.

Paul speaks of the heavenly Father as “The Father of mercies.” The word father is used many times in scripture as an originator or as a source of something. For example, the devil is called the father of lies, John 8:44, i.e. he is the author and originator of lying. Likewise, our heavenly Father is the author, originator, and source of all mercy. Each time that mankind cried out in faith, God’s mercy reached out and met their need.

God is said to be rich in mercy because of His great love wherewith he loved us, Ephesians 2:4, and to have a throne called grace whereby we may come and obtain mercy. God wasn’t motivated to save us through pity or a sense of obligation as our Creator. He was motivated solely by love. God loves us.

Give Cheerfully, Not Out Of Fear

bible11

Give Cheerfully, Not Out Of Fear

Matthew 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

 

Some have taught that Jesus did away with the tithe since it is not a specific part of the New Testament teaching. But in this instance, Jesus made reference to the scribes and Pharisees tithing and implied that they were right in doing so. The New Covenant did not do away with the tithe but it clarified what the motives for tithing should be.

Abram tithed over 430 years before the law was given. Jacob also tithed approximately 300 years before the time of the law. Therefore, tithing was a Biblical principle that didn’t begin or end with the law of Moses. However, the law of Moses did include tithing as part of its commandments and attached were stiff penalties for those who failed to comply. It was concerning these punishments for not tithing, that the New Testament differed from the Old Testament. Malachi 3:8-9 says that if a man doesn’t tithe, he has robbed God and is cursed with a curse. Therefore, people gave out of the motivation of debt and obligation. Jesus redeemed us from this and all the other curses of the law, so that God will not curse us for not tithing.

The apostle Paul also made it very clear that any type of giving motivated by anything less than God’s kind of love is useless. He went on to explain in 2 Corinthians 9:7, that God wants us to give, “not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” The type of giving that God loves is cheerful, freewill giving. This does not mean that tithing is contrary to the New Testament. It is the “fear of punishment” motive, that the Old Testament law attached to tithing, that has been done away with. Giving and tithing are still very much a part of the New Testament doctrine, and if done with the New Testament attitude, are still acceptable to God. Be a giver.

 

Give Agape Love

bible11

Give Agape Love

Matthew 23:12 “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

In Romans 12:10 we are admonished to desire the welfare of others more than our own; to like others better than ourselves. That is an awesome command that is only obtainable through God’s supernatural love. If this very simple, yet very profound truth could be understood and applied, then strife would cease, Proverbs 13:10. The world would see Christianity as never before, and we would discover the true joy that comes from serving someone besides ourselves.

There is much confusion today on the subject of love because we have only one English word (love) to describe a broad aspect of meanings. For example, if I said, “I love my wife, I love apple pie, and I love my dog,” obviously I am not talking about love in the same degree or definition.

God’s type of love; the highest kind of love, is AGAPE. This is when we seek the welfare or betterment of others even when we don’t feel affection. AGAPE love does not come from one’s feelings. Jesus displayed this AGAPE kind of love by going to the cross and dying for us even though He didn’t feel like dying. Jesus sought the betterment of you and me, regardless of His feelings.

We, too, can AGAPE love our enemies even though we don’t have a warm feeling of affection for them. If they are hungry we can feed them; if they are thirsty we can give them a drink. We can choose to seek the betterment and welfare of others regardless of how we feel.

If anyone becomes a servant and humbles himself with the motive of being exalted, then he is not truly fulfilling Jesus’ command. Jesus is teaching about a true, servant’s heart, that loves others more than itself and will joyfully go without so that someone else may prosper.

The Two Greatest Commands

bible1a

The Two Greatest Commands

Matthew 22:36 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”

 

Jesus revealed that all of the Old Testament laws were designed to instruct us how to love God and love others. Therefore, the two commands that dealt directly with loving God and others, Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:5, were the most important.

The religious leaders had become so obsessed with keeping every minor detail of the law that they had lost sight of its ultimate purpose. They neither loved God nor their fellow man, yet they thought they were keeping the law.

The same thing is happening today. Some of the cruelest acts of men towards their fellow men have been done in the name of the Lord by people who thought they were defending God’s holy commandments. However, if we violate one of the two greatest commandments in an effort to enforce some other commandment, then we are misapplying God’s Word just as these religious Jews did.

The Old Testament law and the New Testament concept of grace compels men to the same end, that is to love God and their fellowmen. However, the motivations to this end are different. The Old Testament law motivated men to love God and their fellowman through fear of punishment if they failed to comply. The New Testament concept of grace freely gives men a God-kind of love that is unconditional and tells them to love others as they are loved.

It is possible to display actions of holiness, but not love God. It is impossible for God’s kind of love not to produce holiness. Holiness is a fruit and not a root of loving God.

Our Righteousness Is In Christ

bible11

Our Righteousness Is In Christ

Matthew 22:11 “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:”

In this time, it was customary for the host to provide their guests with wedding garments to wear to the wedding. It was an insult of the highest degree to refuse to wear the clothing provided since the guests were brought in directly from the highways and streets. The wedding garment speaks of the righteousness of Christ that God so graciously provides for all who accept His invitation into the kingdom. It must be put on by both good and bad, Matthew 22:10.

Right standing before a holy God is not to be achieved in keeping the law but in humble trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. No one, who is trusting in his own righteousness, can have the benefit of Christ’s righteousness. The righteousness that gives men relationship with God is the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD, and it comes freely through faith in Jesus Christ.

The way we obtain this righteousness is by putting faith in what Christ has done for us. When we place our faith in Christ, then the righteousness that Jesus obtained by His faith becomes ours.

Through faith in Jesus, we can receive the very righteousness of God as a gift. God’s righteousness is infinitely more in quality and quantity than man’s puny righteousness. No one can ever be justified in the sight of God based on his own righteousness which comes through acts of holiness. One must have God’s righteousness which only comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Paul said in Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” This is “the righteousness of God.”

The Power To Live A Holy Life

bible11

The Power To Live A Holy Life

John 12:31 “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”

The only reason Satan ever had any right to become a prince or rule over us was because we yielded ourselves to him through sin, Romans 6:16. Since Jesus “bore our sins in His own body on the tree”, 1 Peter 2:24, Satan no longer has power or authority over those who accept Jesus’ gift of salvation. Satan has been “cast out” — stripped of any power he had. Now he can only deceive, and if we fall for his lies, we stop God’s blessings from flowing in our lives.

The reason why a believer must live a holy life, is to avoid Satan’s bondage. When we obey sin, we yield ourselves to Satan, the author of that sin.Yielding to sin is yielding to a person, Satan. God doesn’t impute the sin to us but the devil does. Our actions either release the power of Satan or the power of God in us.

Although God is not imputing our sins unto us, we cannot afford the luxury of sin because it allows Satan to have access to us. When a Christian does sin and gives the devil an opportunity to produce death in his life, the way to stop him is to confess the sin. God is faithful and just to take the forgiveness that is already present in our born-again spirit and release it in our flesh, thereby removing Satan and his strongholds.

A person who abandons himself to sin is actually becoming a slave to the devil while a person who obeys righteousness is yielding himself to the Lord. This is why a Christian should live a holy life.

 

Jesus Paid Our Debt

bible11

Jesus Paid Our Debt

John 12:31 “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”

There is still a future judgment of the world coming, where the wicked will be separated from the righteous and cast into the lake of fire. This verse refers to the sins of the world that were about to be placed on Jesus and that He would suffer our punishment.

Jesus suffered the punishment for our sins, so there is no reason why we should suffer for them too. The price for sin has already been paid by the only one who could fully pay it and that is Jesus. All Jesus asks of us to make His redemption ours, is faith in Him as our Lord.

Sin has a wage it must pay and no one can avoid payday without faith in Jesus. Anyone who does not receive the new birth will be held liable for all the wrong they committed as a result of their sinful nature. However, those who receive the new birth through faith in Jesus, don’t have a sin nature and therefore, will not receive the payment of death.

Physical death as well as every result of the sin nature (i.e. sickness, depression, fear, etc.) is only a by-product of the spiritual death that was already inside of us. The Lord told Adam that in the day he ate of the forbidden tree, he would surely die, Genesis 2:17. Adam didn’t die physically that day but he did die spiritually. Physical death came 930 years later for Adam, Genesis 5:5, as a by-product of his spiritual death.

Eternal life is a gift. The dictionary defines a gift as “something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation; a present.” We have nothing to do with earning this gift. All you have to do is receive it by faith.

God’s Voice

bible11

God’s Voice

John 12:28 “Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

This is the third time recorded in the gospels that the Father spoke in an audible voice to or about Jesus (First, at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River and second, at the transfiguration of Jesus).

This verse makes it clear that it was a voice that the Father spoke in; however, there were different reports of the same event. Some people heard a voice and thought it was an angel who spoke. Others thought it was thunder.

This illustrates “…the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”, 1 Corinthians 2:14. A carnal man with a hardened heart will always find some natural explanation for the supernatural even if he heard an audible voice from God.

A hard heart keeps us from perceiving spiritual truths and stops us from understanding. When a person doesn’t understand God’s Word, Satan finds no resistance when he comes to steal it away. A hard heart keeps us from remembering. This isn’t to say that facts or scriptures can’t be recalled, it’s the spiritual lessons learned that have been forgotten. Likewise, some people can quote scripture or remember what the sermon was about, but they can’t perceive the spiritual life in it or retain what they did perceive, because of a hardened heart.

Jesus didn’t need to hear this audible voice of God because he had a more sure word of prophecy than the audible voice of God from heaven, 2 Peter 1:18-20. Jesus knew the “voice” of the Old Testament scriptures that spoke of the Christ being glorified and He could also hear the Father’s voice in His heart as He had on so many other occasions. This audible voice didn’t come to reassure Jesus, but it came to those who had ears to hear, so that they might believe.

 

Worship From Your Heart

bible11

Worship From Your Heart

Mark 14:3 “And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.”

The spikenard was a fragrant plant, and its roots were used in Jesus’ day to make an aromatic, costly perfume and ointment. The plant, itself, grows in the Himalaya mountains at an elevation of 11,000 to 17,000 feet. For centuries, it was used by Hindus as a medicine and perfume and was an actively traded commodity. Its great cost stemmed from that it had to be transported over 6,000 miles to reach Palestine, and depending on quality, it sold for as much as 400 denarii per pound (or $750 an ounce, is the modern purchasing equivalent). That made it more valuable than gold. This ointment was worth at least two and one-half times more than the thirty pieces of silver that Judas received for betraying the Lord, which is why Judas was so upset. This perfume was worth two and one-half times what Judas thought Jesus was worth.

Judas didn’t care about the poor. He wanted to have the money that the perfume could have been sold for in his bag (he was the treasurer for Jesus) so he could steal it. This is a very serious crime that Jesus no doubt knew about, but scripture never mentions Him confronting Judas.

Judas’ reaction to this act of pure worship is typical of the reaction toward worship of many people today. Judas and some of the other disciples, thought this was a waste. That was only because they didn’t value Jesus as highly as Mary did. Mary had seen Jesus raise her brother from the dead and her heart was overflowing with love and worship. The disciples were looking on the outward things while Jesus was looking at Mary’s heart, 1 Samuel 16:7. Those who cannot see beyond the physical realm will be offended at others’ displays of worship. True worship comes from the heart.