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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Those questions..

Luke 20 19-47

How crafty were the Pharisees? As we saw earlier, they lay in wait like spies. They wanted Jesus to trip up and say something that they could arrest him for. Surely he would say something wrong.
Now matter how they tempted him, Jesus would not be fooled. He recognized their attempt to soothingly put him at ease. As soon as he messed up and said something wrong, they would pounce on him and drag him to court. Jesus wouldn’t mess up. He still had work to do. Though his time was drawing near, he had a few more things to accomplish. More tools to leave his disciples and followers.
Their first temptation was to get Jesus to speak out against the government. Is it lawful to give money to Caesar? Being Jews, they were subject to the occupying army. If Jesus was God’s son, he would release them of the burden wouldn’t he? Obviously paying taxes to an occupying force is wrong. They had hoped that Jesus would start ranting about the inequality of taxation without representation.
Nope. He said, give unto Caesar what is his. No argument.
Then they tried to trick Jesus with a question of the resurrection. Maybe this time they can trip him up and they can bring him to court on some trumped up religious charges. They brought up the issue of who’s married to whom in heaven. They hoped that Jesus would go into some deep religious discussion far away from his message and purpose.
Nope. He stayed on track. Jesus simply replied that in heaven, those who are saved have a new life. They don’t wed and they don’t die.
Perhaps in your desire to lead others to Christ, you have found yourself in similar situations. You know the questions:
Where did Cain and Able find their wives?
Were there dinosaurs?
Do I have to give money when I go to church?
What about gay people?
How old is the earth?
And on and on and on. People ask these questions to trip you up. When you present or attempt to present the gospel, it brings people to a point of making a decision. They become uncomfortable and instead of making a decision, they want to make an escape. How else better than to ask an irrelevant question. It’s up to us to remain focused on pointing people to Christ and not the political flavor of this age.
Take an example from Jesus. He answered the questions and returned people to the topic.
Should I pay taxes as a Christian? Give to Caesar what is Caesar. Give to God what is Gods. There, back to the topic of God.
Who will I be married to in the resurrection? In heaven, we are like the angels. Those who are saved don’t marry and they don’t die. There, back to God.
Stay focused and keep pointing people to God.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Cornerstone

Luke 20: 1-18
Jesus entered Jerusalem with much fanfare from his followers and under the watchful eyes of the treacherous Pharisees. Those who followed him took audience in the temples as Jesus told of his father, forgiveness and righteousness. His words dripped with truth, hope, and redemption and Jesus' numbers grew. The investment he made to humanity returned thousands of times over as people flocked to hear him and believe. He spoke of prophesy, his impending death and God’s love. More and more people came to God through Jesus ministry.
The Pharisees did not believe that Jesus was God in human form. They could not listen to the words of blasphemy from a nomad’s mouth and could not understand this man’s grip on the populations. They questioned him, but were shamed speechless lest their words would condemn them.
Jesus continued to preach and teach, knowing full well he would suffer the wrath of the scorned religious leaders. He knew what was coming, but he was urgent to get the truth out. The Pharisees questioned Jesus authority for running out the money changers and his message of hope for the masses. What could Jesus do but speak God’s plan, not to put the leaders in their places, but to make sure they had a chance to connect with God. He also could not stand by and let the leaders persuade the crowds otherwise.
The parable of the vineyard was a tale the must have cut the leaders deep. How God’s prophets had been killed by the very people he had loved. For their sakes, we can only hope that the religious men’s eyes were opened to the truth as a result of Jesus’ reasoning and chastisement. Terribly, some did not listen, but chose to continue looking for a way to destroy Jesus. Those are the ones that will spend eternity in horrible regret. However, some were saved and will continue to be saved because Jesus thought the event important to tell.
Have you ever experienced opposition while sharing the Gospel?
How did you respond?
Was it out of love for the lost and with a sense of urgency for the very people who made fun of or questioned you?
Was it out of spite and malice for the hurt you felt?

Remember, everything Jesus did was for us. Everything Jesus suffered was because of us. He is our example demonstrating that the salvation of the world comes before our feelings. The bigger picture is more critical than our points of view.

For those who have never believed in Jesus:
Have you heard the Gospel before and have chosen to ignore God’s gift?
Is this the first time you have had a chance to hear just how much God loved you?
If you’ve never done so, but you know that you need to accept Jesus, won’t you invite him to be your savior now? The simple plan in the margin can help.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Triumpal Entry

Luke 19: 28-32
Jesus had just finished the parable of the ten pounds when he set out for the final journey returning to Jerusalem. On his way up to the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples up to get a colt and return it to him. Jesus is just about to fulfill more prophesy and this passage is full of the promises kept.
Though Jesus faced tremendous emotional, spiritual and physical pain he focused on the outcome; his mission to bring salvation to mankind. Though if it were me, I would have focused only on the impending doom. Jesus knew that his impending death on the cross would not be the end of the story.
The disciples found everything just as Jesus had described. The colt stood ready and the owner appeared and asked the questions just as Jesus had said he would. They then returned to Jesus with the colt. They helped Jesus up and then the crowd went wild. They spread their clothing on the ground all the way up the Mt of Olives. When they reached the top, they began praising the King and making a joyful noise to God.
Enter the Pharisees, or maybe they were already there doing pharisee things like spying and taking notes. Soon, they would have their big day, but not just yet. Now, all they wanted to do was for Jesus to ask his followers to quit saying “Blessed be the King that commeth in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven and glory in the highest,” a quote directly from Psalm 118:26.
Why do you think Jesus responded as he did? Would the rocks really have cried out? Well, let’s go back to Luke 13: 34-35. Jesus was almost run out of Jerusalem as his life had been threatened. He said he would not return until... (drum roll please) “…you shall not see me until ye shall say, Blessed is he that commeth in the name of the Lord.” Another prophesy fulfilled, thank you.
Jesus was focused on his mission and taking the opportunity to show his people God’s work in their lives. He was sure to quote scripture and demonstrate how the times and events that the prophets and kings had predicted. He even showed them how his own words had come true. All this was to build their faith in him so that they would believe and be saved. Jesus then gave another prophesy that would unfortunately occur years later, but it would be indeed fulfilled. He didn’t take joy in their lack of faith and the future destruction of Jerusalem, but he reminded them to look for the signs and how God was keeping his promises. *****
The following versus demonstrate Jesus’ focus of spreading God’s word as he headed for Jerusalem. He knew his time on earth drew near, and he worked within that amount of time to reconcile us.

In Luke 9:51-54, 13:22-24;33, 17:11; 18:31, 19:11, 28 Jesus sets out for Jerusalem

We often times focus on Jesus passion, suffering that occurred on the cross. But in these passages, Jesus focused on redemption, healing, forgiveness as he made his way to Jerusalem. Jesus still had work to do on his way to reconcile man with God. Though he would suffer, his death and resurrection would allow God to overlook our sin and let us into heaven. Because of Jesus’ obedience, all believed upon him would be saved. That’s what Jesus focused on and he remained faithful to the mission all the way to the end.

Have you ever anticipated accomplishing or doing something good?

Were you aware of the challenges or tough times associated with the goal?

At the time, did you focus on the end results or the challenges, sacrifices, or tough times associated with the goal?

***** Interesting Website:
Flavius Josephus Wrote:
While the temple blazed, the victors plundered everything that fell in their way and slaughtered wholesale all who were caught. No pity was shown for age, no reverence for rank; children and greybeards, laity and priests, alike were massacred; every class was pursued and encompassed in the grasp of war, whether suppliants for mercy or offering resistance… The slain [were] more numerous than the slayers. For the ground was nowhere visible through the corpses; but the soldiers had to clamber over heaps of bodies in pursuit of the fugitives.
In addition to those who died by the sword, Romans discovered many houses that were "packed with bodies of the victims of the famine."
Not One Stone Left on Another
Titus ordered:
the whole city and the temple to be razed to the ground, leaving only the loftiest of the towers, Phasael, Hippicus, and Miramme, and the portion of the wall enclosing the city on the west…All the rest of the wall encompassing the city was so completely leveled to the ground as to leave future visitors to the spot no ground for believing that it had ever been inhabited.