Saturday, April 30, 2022

Take Away - SOM Part 24

 SOM Part 24 can be found here.

Jesus has just finished saying that not everyone who says calls Him Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, (Matthew 7:21) He is now going to illustrate this with His conclusion. He talks about 2 houses, It would seem that to look at the houses, there would be little difference. The difference is in what is not readily seen from the outside, that being the foundation. What are the houses dependent upon. 

The house on the sand appears to be dependent solely on its outward appearance. Perhaps much like the people who call Jesus Lord, but are not known by Him. They think what saves them is their action, but that seems not to be enough. The second house is anchored to the rock. It has the appearance of the first house in many ways, but beyond appearance it also has the rock, Jesus, as its foundation. So you can say all the right things, do the right things, but without the anchor of complete dependence on Jesus for salvation, it is not enough. 

Take Away: My righteousness comes from Christ, not anything I do. I can look good on the outside, but that is not the point. I go back to the very first words Jesus said in this sermon, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." My paraphrase would be, Satisfied are those who are gasping for breath, for them the kingdom has been prepared. Why? Because before we can understand our relationship to the kingdom and its ruler, we must see our brokenness, our need for a Savior. We must understand that what saves us is not our effort or obedience, but the blood f Christ, and that because of what Christ has done, this is what now drives our behavior. It is a subtle but critical difference. The life without a foundation is driven by a desire to be saved, and seeks to achieve that salvation by putting God in their debt, im a place where He is basically forced to grant them eternal life, the firm foundation recognizes that he is a sinner, and that there is nothing that he can do to obtain God's favor, in fact, he understands that even an attempt to do so is an insult to God. The firm foundation understands that salvation is a result of grace, and now lives a life that is a response to that understanding. Ephesians 2:8-10 states, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Do I see what is going on here? That it is not my works that save me, it is grace. Yet for those who are saved by grace, there are works that are prepared for us to do. Not as an obligation, but as a response to grace. I still have a challenge in completely living in this manner, but it something that I strive for.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Take Away - SOM Part 23

 SOM Part 23 can be found here.

This one is tough and scary. Imagine going through life thinking you had it right, only to be told that you were wrong. The arguing starts, "But didn't I do this for you, and that for you, and these things in your name?" Then to be told to leave, that Jesus did not even know you. 

To understand these verses, I believe we need to go back to the context again, looking at who Jesus was speaking to and why. He is speaking to the Jewish people, and among the audience are the leaders and the common people. I believe that He is speaking to both sub groups here, as this is both a condemnation and a warning. The condemnation is to those who would use religion for personal advantage. Not just those who peddle the gospel for profit, but also toward those who would use religion as a means of trying to hold God accountable to man. Almost as if through some type of behavior we could put God in a position where He was obligated to save us. The answer is unexpected. Not only are they cast from the presence of God, Jesus says that He does not even know them!

Take Away: Doing what I believe is right is not what the Gospel is about, nor will it bring about salvation. Had they known this, the would not have pleaded with the Lord based on their own actions. It is not about obligation, it is about appreciation. Psalm 34:1 says, "I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth." The word bless conveys the idea of adoration. I will adore (love) the Lord, and the result is not works, but praise (some of which will be in the form of works!). I cannot put God is a position where He owes me anything, because no matter what I do, I could not do it without Him, therefore I still am in His debt. Perhaps this is why instead of Jesus saying that we don't know Him, He says that He does not know us, because the only way I can be found righteous is to be known by Him, to have Him stand up for me and say, "This one is Mine, He is washed clean by my blood."

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Take Away - SOM Part 22

 SOM Part 22 found here.

I am going to be honest and say that this will be a post that I will struggle with immensely. I think about the ideas of truth and absolute truth, and do I really know the truth? There are so many different takes on what is truth and which truth is really the truth. I want to believe that I have a good grasp on the truth, but I know that so many others do as well. I want to take these words to heart, to beware of the wolves in sheep's clothing, but I also do not want to make a mistake when it comes to who I find to be a wolf and who is really a wolf.

Jesus does give some help here. He says that we will be able to recognize them by their fruits. So it is not necessarily their words, or just their words that will reveal them as wolves, but it is also their actions. I look at speakers like Mr. Joel Osteen. To me, he is an easy one to pick out as a wolf, although again, I know that there are many who would disagree. But I look at both his words and his fruits. His words are slick. He does not want to commit to words that would alienate some of his flock. He is accepting of things that I believe Jesus would challenge head on. His actions are not much better. He does not live the lifestyle of a disciple in my opinion. His handling of money, of people, of Scripture, etc. are scary at times. (But then, so are mine! Which makes this type of judgment so challenging.) Sometimes his words are awesome. I have seen some great quotes from him posted by folk on Facebook. But words alone are not the sole piece of evidence that must be taken into account. Yet I also know that no one is perfect other than Jesus. So where does someone like Joel, or his disciples fall when it comes to being sheep or wolves? I stand by my choice that he and so many others like him are wolves, but each one must choose for themselves.

The Bible says that there are those who are false apostles. Those who disguise themselves as ministers of Christ. And why wouldn't they, since even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light? (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) So I know that I need to be on guard. I cannot turn a blind eye to someone who would deceive me and say it is their fault. I have been warned. I look at the audience of Jesus. Surely as He scans the crowd, He sees sheep and wolves. Sheep, those who are lost and vulnerable. The masses, who are searching for truth, for salvation, for a Messiah. And wolves, those who would prey upon the sheep for their own gain. Perhaps many of them among the Jewish leaders, who were so enamored with themselves that they could not even see themselves as wolves. But their fruit would reveal them, as they would seek to trap Jesus in His words, and ultimately would consent to His crucifixion.

Take Away: There are those who would deceive me. Who would use Jesus and whatever else they can for their own gain and at the cost of my soul. They will be held accountable. But so will I. I have been warned, and if the wolf comes in and kills the sheep, the sheep is still dead. The instruction calls for the sheep to beware of the wolves. Be aware, perhaps. Know that not everyone has your best interests at heart. So I just pray for awareness. And perhaps a bit of fortitude should there need to be a confrontation with a wolf. Or just pray that my shepherd will protect me when the time comes.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Take Away - SOM Part 21

SOM Part 21 can be found here.

Two important thoughts. The first one, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." That is tough. I would rather do unto others as I perceive they have done to me, or as I have experienced what they have previously done to me. It is tough to treat them as I want to be treated. It requires a lot of honesty. I have to be honest about how I would want to be treated, and I have to be honest about how I am treating others

I want to be treated fairly. Okay, maybe not. I want fairness at a minimum. I prefer to be treated beyond fair. If I am owed $5, I prefer to get $10, or at least the 5 with interest. I want the benefit of the doubt. 

Why am I treating others in this manner? Why go the extra mile? Why give away my coat when they only asked for a hat or scarf? Is it because I want to be perceived as generous? Not likely, since good deed are to be done in secret. Is it to gain favor with God? I don't think so, since I owe Him so much more. Then why? I tend to believe that it is because I have a new life, a life where the possessions I have are viewed as being on loan from God, and are ultimately mine to glorify Him. I want others to know that I care about their needs, even those who I might at times view as adversaries. I want God to see me as faithful. 

Take Away: So where do I draw the line? I suppose if I wanted to, I could liquidate my possessions in a short matter of time. I am not sure that such behavior is what God wants. But I also need to be aware of justifying my behavior in keeping what I have as well. I suppose I just need to be honest. Honest with myself, and honest with God. I need to not let my selfishness control my actions. That's gonna take some work.