Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Personal Encounter With Jesus Vs. Religion Without Him

This was the sermon from today.  I'm going to quickly go through what my Pastor said, but I also saw a lot of different connections that he didn't have time to make or take a look at.

The text comes from Luke 13:10-17: 10 Now vhe was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had hadwa disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he xlaid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she yglorified God. 14 But zthe ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus ahad healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, b“There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! cDoes not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, da daughter of Abraham whom eSatan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, fall his adversaries were put to shame, and gall the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

Basically, I'm going to quickly go through the points, and then go through them again with the connections that I saw.

I.  Crippled By Satan

Found in verses 10-11.  Re-read those.  You'll notice how the woman's faith may be indicated by her presence there.  She was 'crippled' for 18 years.  She probably went to the synagogue regularly, despite the fact that people probably were horrified by her.  She wanted to be straight again, so she never missed the opportunity to be healed.  It just so happens that Jesus was there, so He did it for her.  You'll also notice that Jesus knows that there was a disabling spirit tormenting her and keeping her body from being straightened.

II.  The Compassion of Jesus

Found in verse 12, you'll see that Jesus was full of compassion.  He was always full of compassion for those who were hurt.  If you feel hurt, He has compassion for you.  And nothing will beat His compassion for you.  Nothing.

For another point, if we really become and grow to be more like our Savior, we will see people through His eyes of compassion.

III.  Criticism by Leaders.

In verse 14, we see a shocking contrast between Jesus and this ruler of the synagogue.  Where Jesus was filled with compassion, the leader of the synagogue was attached to his rules.  Thus, he valued rules and really didn't care about relationships.  Religion without Jesus is always more concerned with rules than with people.  And we see that again and again, Jesus put His adversaries to shame for the Glory of God.

Now I'll work back through the text again, this time really with what I see.

In my Pastor's sermon, I found the first point to really stand out.  The point, but actually the name of the point, because it got me going on a slightly different track.  This whole situation that Jesus deals with shows all sorts of things.  It even pictures what Jesus was going to do.

This girl of 18 years has certainly been through a lot.  She was despised by a lot of people for coming to the synagogues the way she was.  I really feel like Jesus is saying something more through this instance.  I see the fact that she's full of faith.  However, she's still human.  She's bound to Satan's power.  Although she desires to be straight and perfect by Jesus' side, she can't be.  Jesus calls out to her, and grabs her.  When He died on the cross, He reached out to our position and unbound the chains that the devil had so neatly wrapped around us.  It was too complicated for us to get through, but Jesus could see clearly and unwound it with His blood.

Then as my pastor moved on to the second point, I was reminded...of my past.  Of who I was.  Of how insane I was.  But Jesus was compassionate, picked me up and told me, "My child, release your hold of judgment on yourself...I have already paid the full price.  Learn by my example, and I will help you with all of my ways.".  Jesus is really compassionate.  Every other religion without's just a bunch of rules that leave you feeling hopeless, because you can't really 'attain' the high levels of what you should do and be.  Because of the rescue from my insanity, Jesus has lead me to feel that I can be of help to those people who have been in my same circumstance.  So this is how I know that I am becoming more like my Savior:  I can feel His compassion for people.  Granted, I show compassion only for the group that I feel compassionate about, but that's because I really want to love them the way that Jesus did for me.  I feel compassionate.  Not perfectly compassionate as my Savior was, but compassionate nevertheless.

The reaction of the leader was interesting.  Read again what he said.  Then, read Jesus' response.  Oh, how I wish I had Jesus' way with words!  He was really making SEVERAL different comparisons when he spoke of the donkey.

The first was that the leaders treated their animals better then human beings.  My pastor did make that connection.  I'm sure he knew this, but he didn't communicate the other things that I saw.  There was real importance in what Jesus was saying.  Think of it this way:  They untied the donkeys and led them to water so that they could drink.  My friends, if the donkeys were not untied to be able to get water, wouldn't they die?  Now you understand Jesus' reasoning and outcry in his reaction.  It wasn't literally this way, but you could say that the girl was the donkey in need of water...and she had to be moved in order to receive it.

It was that important.  The girl needed to be rescued, and she was.  She was healed.  In the same way, we may be bound in to something by Satan's doings.  We're bound in human flesh.  Jesus removed our chains by taking the wrath that was deserved for us.  We are crippled by the Devil's acts.  The Devil takes great pride in keeping us bound, by confusing us with lies.  Despite Satan's thinking of his chains, Jesus is stronger.  He's great enough to remove the chains.  And He humiliates the Devil by doing so.

When He beckoned the girl to come to Him, He beckons US.  He cries out to us, "Come to me!  I'll be glad to remove your chains!  I love you more then your sinful ways, so I'll change them."  And He does.  He gives us His word, He gives us His Holy Spirit to help guide us in the right place.  Everything He throws at us, there is a reason for.  God will use it down the road for His Glory.  I can tell you that right now through personal experience.

I love how Luke keeps building this up.  The leader of the synagogue...He was absolutely ridiculous.  His thoughts were wrong by God's Word, and illogical in every right.  Man's Pride in his rules and 'ability to abide by them' really makes him lose sight of the picture.  He seems not to care that this girl is hurting!  She's bent and tired of the years spent that way.  He doesn't even think, "Hey, that's cool for that girl to be...suddenly straight".  When we get truly involved with rules that make us lose compassion for people, we are HORRIDLY in the wrong.

The crowd was rejoicing, however.  They got it.  A girl was just healed from a serious problem.  The leaders didn't.  Jesus humiliated them.  He continues to humiliate His adversaries today through helping His church reach out and help the broken-hearted.  It happens the same way:  Every time a lost person is found and saved, rejoicing echoes around the Heavenly Host.  Sure, it ticks off the Devil to the point that he does everything damaging as possible, but it doesn't matter.  Our Savior is victorious, and will always be.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter, peoples!  He has risen!

Anyway, I just got back from the church picnic by a lake.  Fun with slip'n'slides, a sailboat, and fellowship with friends (and acquaintances.  Possibly enemies.  But it's all for the joy of the day :)).  Anyway, we were there from like 12 to 6.  I also didn't touch a slip'n'slide or the lake.  Until about 5:00.  A friend and I went to other friends who were in the lake...but we decided to get right out afterward because...well, I'm not even sure.  Anyway, it's a good thing that I did, because I ended up breaking a 'fight' between my sister and another guy.  I got in between them to actually receive most of my sister's fist.  Didn't hurt though, but she wasn't applying too much force to it.  Most of the afternoon comprised of throwing around two different frisbees with a good amount of people.  We were going to play Ultimate Frisbee, but...that didn't really work out.  Either way, I had a few 'catches' that made myself and those standing around me going, ""  (Mostly myself).

Anyhowseth, I want to post a little bit about the sermon from this morning.  It came from Acts 17:30-34.

3 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

I agree with my pastor on the fact that I love Paul's flow of logic here.  The sermon could be described by one concept:  If the resurrection is true, (which we know to be true) then judgment is a certainty; if judgment is a certainty, then repentance is a necessity.

I.  If the Resurrection is true, then Judgment is certain.

Of course, I had already stated that.  We do know the Resurrection to be true by several things:

1.  The empty tomb.  (It was recorded to be empty, and still is empty.  Why?  Because Jesus is in heaven right now as I type this.)

2.  The testimonies of several hundred people that saw Him with their own eyes.

Bridging off of number two, these people that saw Him really turned.  The Disciples, and other true Believers became very bold in their preaching and witnessing even to the point of public beating and humiliation.  You don't simply go that far in holding up a lie.  People came up with the idea that they 'stole' Jesus' body to cause even greater trouble for the Jews and the Romans.  That is simply not the case.

Another thing is that about the people who 'repented' and did not 'repent'.  For the most part, the main issue in unbelief is never intellectual, but always moral.

Paul really builds a strong, flawless logic approach to talking to these fellas.  If you stop and think about it, what Paul's saying here makes real sense.  The only logical response would be to turn and repent, because you can't argue with him on it.  You can see that it's true.  And if that is true, have to repent, or suffer later.  So the issue is more of a moral thing.  People tend to agree with the train of thought.  The problem is actually changing their morals and living more for God that's the problem.  Sin and lustful cravings of the world seems far more easy and care-free then following God.  And that's right...but the problem is that it is care free.  When you reject God, you're really making a sad choice.

Three more things about the Judgment being a certainty:

1.  A Certain Day.

Verse 31:  "He has fixed a day".

Fixed implies certainty.  And since God is the one fixing it, well, you know it's gonna happen. The issue is when that day actually is.  But we don't even need to know.  Paul is trying to imply that although Jesus will be merciful in His timing (Discussed in the last post) He won't delay forever.  He will delay...but none of us know how long that is.  So we need to get everything together with help from Him.

2.  A Certain Standard.

Verse 31:  "he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed".

What is Paul referring to when he says "in righteousness"?  The Law.  Yeah, that's right...The Ten Commandments.  The man appointed was Jesus.  Why?  Because He is righteous.  He kept all the commandments.  He was righteous.  So how can we be righteous? Do I mean keeping the law perfectly?  You could try, but it ain't gonna work.  From the first moment you appear on the earth, you're a sinner.  I believe that in saying that, he's getting at the fact that believing in the righteous one and trusting in Him, since He is righteous, we become righteous.  Now don't misunderstand me:  WE won't be righteous.  But we're COUNTED as righteous.  Not by OUR works, but by his.  He died on the cross in our place, making the perfect sacrifice.  Unfortunately I think I just ran into the third number, but whatever.  And in Jesus raising from the dead, our direction from Hell was turned.  Because of His perfection, he transfers that 'code' over to us, giving us our undeserved salvation.

But what does that get us to?

II.  If Judgment is Certain, then repentance is a NECESSITY.

I can't really make it any clearer.  Scroll back up and reread verse 30.  The command isn't just a helpful hint, "Hey, you should probably repent soon." it is a word of Authority.  And NOW.  The logic and doctrine is very sound here.

Paul saw three different responses:

1.  The sneerers who started mocking his preaching.

2.  The procrastinators.  (And guys, Paul never, ever mentions going back to them, or telling us if they repented or got a second chance to.  So you can procrastinate, but it may not be smart.  I understand if it's just a timing thing...but if it's actually putting it off deliberately, there's something wrong with that.  God does give second chances and is merciful, but time is of the essence.)

3.  And finally, some did repent and fully believed, and some even came with and followed Paul on his journeys.

Here's the question, my friends:  Which group do you find yourselves in?  Which one do you want to be in???

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Upon Seeing The Empty 'Fruit' Tree...

I might end up posting on the few sermons in between this post and the last one...but that'll be after THIS one.  Why?  Well, this one is pretty 'sharp' and you'll see why.  Of course, the last few sermons have been building up to this, but oh well.

This sermon is taken from Luke 13:  6-9.  You can pull out your Bibles, but since it's short, I'm just going to write it here:

6And He told this parable:  "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.  7And he said to the vinedresser, 'Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none.  Cut it down.  Why should it use up the ground?'  8And he answered him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.  9Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down'."

Are you as shaken as I am about the parable Jesus is teaching?  Well, if not, I will surely have you shaking with the 'interpretation' of this parable.  That brings us to our first point.

I.  Suspended Judgment

You know, I was just looking at this point before I read it.  At first, it doesn't seem to make much sense.  Sure, the fruit tree isn't cut down when the 'owner' wants to.  But then a few things clicked.  To start, this parable is about God being ready to bring Judgment on Israel (Us) because she had not brought forth spiritual fruit.

But I actually see several other things.  God is the owner.  That makes sense, right?  I mean...He does own us in every right.  We are then symbolized by the fruit trees...that aren't bearing fruit.  Right now, I see the vinedresser as Jesus.  And that makes sense as well.  After all, it's by His work that we get salvation.  However, if He's been doing His work in us, we will start bearing fruit.  And now I'm jumping ahead of myself.  Anyway, we see that Jesus tells God, "Leave it alone this year as well, until my work starts to bring forth fruit".  So it's almost mercy being given.  However, there's still a promise of destruction if we don't produce anything.

The other thing is the kind of fruit that's being produced.  None is.  But no matter what in our lives, there is fruit being produced.  Always.  Say whaa???  Okay, okay, hold on.  Think about that again.  I know I need to.  Okay, when we usually think of fruit, we think of ripe apples, berries, or whatever fruit you like to dream of when your stomach is growling for food.  But rotten, sickly, fruit...that doesn't really come to your mind when you're hungry.  It's fruit that you can't eat, but fruit nonetheless.  So we're always producing fruit.  So the question for us is not, 'Are we producing fruit?', it's:  "What kind of fruit are we producing?"

II.  The Message.

This is a serious picture that brings a serious question to the table for every Christian on this planet in existence.  Did you notice that the parable had an open ending?  Are you wondering what happened to the fruit tree that Jesus was speaking of?  Well, we know one tree that never really repented...and got thrown into the fire as a result.  The reason why Jesus left the parable open was because it's an open issue right now.  YOU must decide the outcome.

But I don't feel like I'm producing any fruit!

I hear ya.  Neither do I.  The thing to remember is that you have time.  Remember also that Jesus is going to work on the fruit tree.  Christian, if He really is working in you, you'll know it.  Do you have the desire to produce fruit?  That, as spoken of last night, is a fruit all in itself.  We won't produce anything by ourselves.  Can a plant grow without water and Sun?  Without water and sunlight, can it stand?  Christian, Jesus is your water and sunlight.  The plant catches the sunlight and the same way, all you must do is catch Jesus' teachings and grow.