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There is a popular mindset prevalent in today’s thinking that promotes the position where you should not care what others think. This attitude or way of thinking is even found within the religious community. It is an attitude of self-gratification. I propose to you that this way of thinking is against the teachings of the Holy Bible.
When Jesus was asked what was or is the greatest commandment he replied with the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mate. The second greatest commandment is to love others.
“And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.””
Matthew 22:37-40 NASB1995
As a Christian community we are told to let our light shine so that others can see our good works and glorify God in heaven. Living to please ourselves is to go against the basic premise of the teachings of the Holy Bible.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16 NASB1995
Doesn’t the Bible say to do unto others as you would have them to do onto you. It would seem that a casual and open reading of the scriptures would reveal that you are to think of others before you think of yourself. It is not taught in the Bible to live for yourself and for your own happiness. It is however taught that we are to live for God.
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”
Luke 6:31 NASB1995
Your own happiness is important to God. However it is not found in seeking to please yourself but to please him. It is the desire of God for others to know him and his love for them which is more important to him than our selfish pursuit of personal happiness.
It matters what others think of us because as a Christian we want others to see Jesus in us. That view is dimmed when we seek to make ourselves happy at the expense of being a good witness for Jesus Christ.
Doing what we want to do without a care for what others think is to minimize the value God places on others and his desire to see them embrace Jesus as Savior and Lord.
For Jesus to be the Lord of your life would require you to think of others above yourself. I submit you that true happiness is found in being obedient to the word of God and that means to think of others above yourself.
The attitude “bump what the world thinks of me, I’m gonna do what makes me happy” is not supported in the Scriptures.
It does matter what others think of me because of being a witness for God. I’m not seeking the approval of others but the approval of God and Jesus my Lord. Therefore I care what others think of me not for my own happiness but for theirs. The motive is the difference. Living for God is to care for others and their relationship with Jesus.
A lot more could be said but I’ll leave with this: Self-gratification is sinful. Pleasing ourselves should never be the driving force of our lives. We were created to please God, not ourselves (1 Corinthians 10:31). Ultimate pleasure comes as a result of crucifying our flesh and abandoning ourselves to the higher purposes of God (Luke 9:23). Living in step with God’s Spirit makes us quicker to recognize when our desire for self-gratification comes into conflict with what the Lord desires (Galatians 5:16–25). Followers of Jesus have already made the decision about whose desires should reign (Ephesians 5:10–11). When we bow at the cross and surrender our lives to Jesus’ lordship, we lay down our rights to please ourselves. We choose instead to entrust our needs and desires to the One who loves us most (Philippians 4:19).
Until next time,
The impetus for this post stems from my quiet time studies and currently going through the New Testament book of Hebrews. This post is a Bible study/Bible message. Of necessity I must give background (Bible study) in order to share Gods message.
The New Testament book of Revelation is commonly regarded as a mysterious book. The odd thing is it is a book that reveals; hence the name of the book. There is much debate about the meanings behind its revelations.
There is a second New Testament book with its own mysteries. The book of Hebrews contains a reference to a character named Melchizedek. He is mentioned in chapter seven. His inference comes from the Old Testament. Genesis fourteen is the account where he is briefly mentioned. Called a priest of the Most High God, he blessed the patriarch Abraham.
Abraham and his trained army of men helped defeat an attach upon the region. Abraham’s involvement stems primarily from his brother, Lot and family, being taken into captivity. Abraham gives Melchizedek a tenth portion of the best spoils from the war.
What we know of Melchizedek from the account found in Hebrews seven.
- He is King of Salem. Commonly regarded as a reference to Jerusalem.
- Salem means peace.
- He is King of righteousness. Referred because his name means righteousness.
- He is a Priest of the Most High God. This is significant because he has a dual role. King and Priest.
- His priesthood is not after the order of the Levitical priest. He is not of the tribe of Levi. He is not a descendant of Aaron from whom the Levitical Priesthood was started. Aaron, Moses’ brother, was of the tribe of Levi.
- It is said Melchizedek had no mother, no father, no birth and no death. (Verse 3) This is one of the reasons some Christians want to think Melchizedek was an Old Testament appearance of Christ, called a Christophany. The reason is not because of being an appearance of Christ but simply because there is no genealogy given regarding Melchizedek in the Bible. He had a father, mother, birth and death. We are not told about them. A careful reading of Hebrews seven will bear this out. Melchizedek was not an Old Testament appearance of Christ. Not a Christophany.
- Melchizedek, as a Priest of the Most High God transitions a physical priesthood (priests from the tribe of Levi) into a coming of a better covenant/Priesthood.
- The better priesthood is that of Jesus Christ. The better hope (v. 19) is Jesus Christ.
Now you have the background, although not exhaustive but enough to get the message. My focus when doing my quiet time in Hebrews seven fell to verses 17-25. Particularly verse 19.
“For it is attested of Him, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “The Lord has sworn And will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever’ ”); so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
Hebrews 7:17-25 NASB1995
The phrase “a better hope” stirred my heart. I’ve read this passage many times. However this time was different. The Holy Spirit kept this before my minds eye. I reflected on it for days. I came away with several thoughts.
- Adam and Eve looked for a better hope in a tree. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was the wrong tree! It’s the tree of Calvary they should look forward in time to view and embrace!
- People of Israel looked for a better hope in a king. They wanted to be like the nations around them and they had kings. God answered their request. They got King Saul. Wrong king! It’s the King of Glory we need. No matter to me who is the president or king or queen of any nation. It’s the King of Glory who is the better hope.
- The people of Israel looked for a better hope in a tabernacle, temple, Holy of Holies. Wrong tabernacle! Jesus dwelt (tabernacled) among us! See John 1:14 Do you not realize when you enter into the presence of God that you have entered into the Holy Of holies?
- Have you observed people going into worship looking no different than if they were going to a concert or sporting event? Do you wonder if as much effort is put into attending worship as other events? The printed copy of the Holy Bible is replaced with Starbucks coffee cups or some name brand thermos! Oh the convenience of having a copy of God’s Word on an electronic device. It’s easier for me to mark my Bible. Quicker too.
- Oh the churches today look for a better hope in their traditions. Wrong! It’s in a better Testament/Covenant. It’s not the church, it’s the Christ!!!
- People in the church look for denomination as a better hope. Some denominations even think if you are not of their denomination you will not get into heaven. What a shock it will be for them to get to heaven and find Baptist’s, Pentecostals, Catholics, Methodists and more all standing together worshipping! Wrong Denomination. It’s Deity! The better hope is found in the Deity of Christ.
The better hope. I’m not looking for the better hope. I’ve found the Better Hope!
Jesus Christ is the permanent priest. His life has no end therefore no end to His priesthood. He stands forever to make intercession for me. Jesus pleads my case before the Father because I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and to save me. He did! Jesus Christ is my Savior and my Lord.
Is he yours? Have you surrendered to the better hope?
Until next time
This is a story of a true experience from my short employment as an Insurance Collector. It was my task to drive a “debit route” to collect monthly insurance premiums from policy holders.
This particular day was my first solo route without the district manager. I remembered this client well. They had a sign in their yard warning everyone about their dog.
The dog could be seen as you drove to the front of their house. There he was with a cable attached to his collar on one end and to another cable stretched from post to post. This allowed him more running room. One look at him and I knew I wanted nothing to do with him.
While keeping a watchful eye on the beast I approached the home and transacted our business in the usual way. A small yellow envelop would be attached to the screen door. I would retrieve the cash, mark a payment in the clients book and my debit book containing all my clients and ease my way back to the car while still keeping a watchful eye on the harnessed beast. I was constantly aware the muscular animal could slip his collar at any given moment.
I had made my way back to my car and just opened the door when here it came. A large cat came running right at me out of nowhere , jumped on my pants leg clawing as he climbed. I fed him my debit book! I mean I let him read the pages!
The book was a very heavy black book. It was a good ten inches thick. It had a handle. I swung that book at that cats head as I got in my car thinking where’s the sign? BEWARE OF THE CAT.
Scripture tells us to be aware of the devil who like a roaring lion goes around seeking whom he may devour. My experience with an attack cat was not with a lion but was very much how the devil works. He comes out of nowhere and attacks. Keep a watchful eye.
Until next time
Reading through the Old Testament reveals the presence of other gods, Therefore it should not be surprising to see so many people in our day worshipping other gods. The names of their gods are as varied as the people who worship them. While I respect each persons right to their own convictions, the common practice of referring to every god worshipped as god creates confusion.
For instance, when you are talking with someone and they reference god, are they talking about the God of Christianity or another target of worship? I was thankful on one occasion years ago to hear a celebrity I admire make a reference to God in a positive light. However, that thankfulness was short lived when he went on to reveal his god was not the God of Christianity.
So how do we distinguish which deity is being referenced? The simple answer? Christians can refer to the God of the Holy Bible by His name. YHWH (Yahweh) is His name. The English equivalent is Jehovah.
Calling God by His name will clarify who it is we are referring to. Why is this so important? While I respect the convictions of other people I must abide by Holy Scripture is acknowledging there is only One true God.
20 Then God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of [a]slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods [b]before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself [c]an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, inflicting the [d]punishment of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing [e]favor to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Should Christians consider calling God by His name? He is YHWH -Yahweh – Jehovah.
Until next time,
(Personal note: the use of a little ‘g’ when referencing gods outside of Christianity is not meant to show disrespect but to affirm my conviction of the teachings found in the Holy Bible.) There is One true God.
Competition is a viable force. It is found in every room of our life. From the small kids who compete for the possession of a toy to the grown men and women who strive for positions, property, and possessions.
There are venues where competition has its place. The first one to cross the finish line, the one who wins the election from having received the most votes electoral or popular, and the ones who reach the highest pinnacles of mountaintops.
There is a place where there should be a void of the competition that is mirrored in the rest society. The inner compulsion to achieve a set goal for personal reasons is not a welcomed attitude within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Howbeit we find competition to be evident in the mindset of the disciples of Jesus Christ. It is no wonder we see year in the contemporary church today. In the gospel according to Luke 9:46-48 we find that Jesus must address the issue of competition that arose among His close Disciples.
“An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.” John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.” When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” ] And they went on to another village.”
Luke 9:46-56 NASB
The suggestion has been made that this quarrel came just after Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John up into the mountain top where they witnessed a partial glorification of Jesus. The others were jealous. So the argument arose over who among them should be the greatest. It was a question of taking the Seat of Highest Honor.
To squelch this debate Jesus teaches where honor (greatness) is found. He uses the small children nearby. He draws them to Him and speaks of receiving the small kids and serving them; for to serve them is to serve Him.
Jesus was saying, “If you are prepared to spend your lives serving, helping, loving people who, in the eyes of the world, do not matter at all, you are serving me and serving God. If you are prepared to spend your life doing these apparently unimportant things and never trying to be what the world calls great, you will be great in the eyes of God.”
I. There is a desire for prestige. A. J. Cronin tells of a district nurse he knew when he was in practice as a doctor. For 20 years, single-handed, she had served a 10 mile district. “I marveled!” he says, “at her patience, her fortitude and her cheerfulness. She was never too tired at night to rise for an urgent call. Her salary was most inadequate, and late one night, after a particular strenuous day, I ventured to protest to her, ‘Nurse, why don’t you make them pay you more? God knows you are worth it.’ ‘If God knows I’m worth it,’ she answered, ‘that’s all that matters to me.’”
II. There is the desire for place. A task, a position or an office in the church should not be regarded by any person as a place of honor but one of responsibility. There are those who serve within the church, not thinking really of those they serve, but thinking of themselves.
III. There is the desire for prominence. Many will serve or give so long as their service and their generosity are known and they are thanked and praised. Jesus tells us to not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. If we only give to gain something out of the giving for ourselves, we have undone much of it’s good.
A example of how our world thinks, in my opinion, is clearly seen in the tragic death of Princess Diane who was reported as being an adulteress and the death of Mother Theresa who was known for the sacrificial giving of her life and resources to feed the hungry and while they both were very well known women in their day and died very closely together, there was much more to do about a woman who was regarded as an adulteress than there was a woman who gave of herself to serve others. Mother Theresa deserves the seat of highest honor.
The Seat of Highest Honor is reserved for those who understand their Position. Luke 9:46-48
- Evident by their humility.
- James 4:6; 10
- Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
The Seat of Highest Honor is reserved for those who understand the People. Luke 9:49-55
And John answered and said, Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to hinder him because he does not follow along with us. But Jesus said to him, “do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.“
Discern people to determine which side they are on. There is only One way to God. There are many ways to worship and serve and glorify God Jesus was not anti-Samaritan and he was not anti-race. God is not so much against other people and their religious leanings as much as He is pro His only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.
The Seat of Highest Honor is reserved for those who understand their Purpose. Luke 9:56
Our purpose is to glorify God. We do this as we lift him up above all others and anything else. We glorify God by leading the lost to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We show all of mankind the only way to reach heaven is through Jesus Christ. Psalm 126:6
Where do you sit?
Until next time,
Used in major sporting events or to even settle some disputes is the average coin. Who gets the ball first is left to the flip of the coin. You make the call, Heads or Tails? To choose heads is to reject tails and vice versa. Now think about that for a moment.
We make decisions all the time and it frequently means accepting one thing while rejecting another. Dad used to say you can’t have it both ways. Society balks at that notion. We want an all-inclusive society. The good, the bad and the ugly cannot co-exist in harmony. Jesus would say, you can’t have it both ways. The flip side of accepting Jesus is rejecting all other religions. Yes even Karma!
If you choose Jesus Christ then you reject the Dalai Lama, you reject Buddha and much more. To accept Jesus Christ is to embrace the Holy Bible and reject the Koran.
To embrace Christianity is to reject other worldly secular religions. Christianity is not an umbrella term for any and all religions. I went into a well known book store and they apparently doesn’t realize the truth of embracing Christianity means to exclude other religious arenas. Notice the books under their category of Christian living.
Christian living does not embrace any other religious groups.
Until next time,
Can I borrow a cup of sugar? Hey friend, can you float me a loan? My family and I were on our way to see my sick and dying mom when I ran out of gas. If you’ll give me $50 I’ll go in and buy a gas can and get gas for my car. I can send you the money back.
On and on the pleas are made. As a Christian, what are you to do? Provide the sugar? Do it again and again? Give of your hard owned money and float loans? How about going to get the gas for the man’s car so he can complete his trip to see his dying mother?
Skepticism and suspicion are often the initial responses. While at the same time remembering our opportunities to show the love of Christ and share the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. You think sometimes people “go to the well” too often. Their frequent visits lean to the need for them to make changes.
Now while we can discuss the Christian response to solicitations of various kinds especially in the cases mentioned above, I want to draw your attention to another example of what I call, “Too Many Trips to the Well.”
It happens at work. You are assigned a job. The position requires a full time set of hours to complete. Then it happens, you get assigned a “little” more work. They make a trip to the well (you). You don’t mind so much. It’s just a “little” more work. As the days go by so also do the many ‘trips to the well.’ There’s no extra compensation. No genuine sincere appreciation or gratitude discerned coming from those making the trips to the well. They just keep piling on the trips, requesting more, expecting more and act as those you owe it. Not what you signed up for. Now the job you went after and received has turned into something other than what you were promoted to. What is your Christian response when people take “Too Many Trips to the Well?”
Until next time,
It is Saturday, the day before Resurrection Sunday. The tomb is quiet. The Savior is waiting. Is He awake, patiently waiting for the dawn of the third day? Is Jesus reflecting on the last 33 years? I wonder.
I wonder because I have thought about those days before His Resurrection. Before there could be a resurrection there has to be a death and before a death there had to be life. I know this is not profound but as I said, I began to wonder.
The door into earth is called birth. Jesus entered therein as a small infant child who grew up observing the trade of His earthly father, Joseph. Do you suppose Jesus learned how to build? Wonder what would be the going price of a table or a chair made at the hands of Jesus? The value of a piece of furniture made by the hands of Jesus. Who could afford such a priceless item?
I recall a verse in the Holy Bible, Genesis chapter 1 and verse 26 that records a conversation God had with Jesus and the Holy Spirit which states, ‘let us make man in our own image.’ As I see it Jesus had a hand in your and my creation. If a table, chairs, or other such furniture is indeed priceless because they were made at the hands of Jesus, then how much greater worth are you? So much worth are you that a monetary value cannot be ascribed to you.
Jesus grew from a child observing the carpentry skills of His earthly father to growing into a young man going about doing His Heavenly Father’s work. His life focused on healing the sick, teaching the people, performing miracles but mostly the missionary work of Jesus was to show others the way of salvation. When the people saw Jesus, they saw the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is none other name under heaven whereby anyone can be saved from their sins.
With the birth and the life, there must come death. For Jesus it was a voluntary death on the cross. It was a humiliating, painful, horrific experience. It is here that I want to make two points. First, you get an answer to your worth. How much value does Jesus place on you. It is the value of His life. He spilt His blood for you.
There is a second reflection I want to call your attention to. Please don’t miss this. Jesus was dying on the cross and He came to the place where He had completed all that His Heavenly Father asked of Him up to this point. There was more to do, however it would take place three days later. Completing the work on the cross, Jesus bowed His head and gave up His spirit.[John 19:30]
Indulge me for just a moment and do this simple request. Bow your head as though to pray. Please do this. Thank You. Here’s my question, did you notice you were in full control? You didn’t drop your head. You placed it in a submissive, humbling position. You were in complete control. SO WAS JESUS!
Jesus ‘GAVE’ up His spirit. Jesus was in full control. Jesus acted on His complete, unfailing faith in His Heavenly Father. He lived that way. He died in the same way.
From death to the tomb. It is quiet. Tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday. The Savior is waiting. Was He awake, patiently waiting for the dawn of the third day? Was Jesus reflecting on the last 33 years? I wonder.
Until Next Time
I noticed a book the other day titled, The Prick of the Thorns. It’s the title and not the book that ignited my thoughts. Fueled by the statement, my mind went directly to the abuse Jesus Christ endured leading up to His crucifixion. Prior to having the burden of wooden beams formed into a cross and lain across His back, was the placement of long stemmed thorns shaped as though they were a crown upon the head of Jesus Christ.
No doubt the pricks from this make-shift crown punctured deep into the forehead penetrating the flesh and lacerating blood vessels so that the life blood of the Son of God would flow as sweat streaming along the contours of His face. An experience I can not begin to comprehend. The pain of the lacerations and aroma of blood dripping off His cheeks onto his shoulder. Blood dripping to the ground as to mark the path leading to a hillside to be crucified is to endure unimaginable suffering.
While the prick of thorns were only a part of the anguish Jesus endured for you, they were nonetheless painful and long-lasting. Jesus did not enjoy the experience. I know it goes without saying but I am wanting to make a point about the pricks we receive. Therefore, I focus on this one particular agony Jesus suffered.
Any person trying to live the Christian life is obligated to read the Holy Scriptures, God’s Holy Word. It is within this living book where you will be pricked! You will come across clear teachings from God that will challenge you on what you believe. Maybe you were taught wrong. Maybe you just don’t want to accept what is written. It goes against what you believe or how you live. The challenge becomes clear to you. Do I accept what God is clearly teaching in His Word or try to explain it away?
My friend you are being pricked by a living Word. It hurts. You like how things are in your life. You try to reason with God. Times have changed. It wasn’t okay then but surely it’s okay now. However the penetration of God’s Word runs deep into your flesh. You embrace the pleasant teachings of God’s Word as the sweetness of honey dripping off a hot homemade biscuit. Then the less than pleasant commands, principles, precepts and warnings of judgment are received as bitterness to you. It is like biting into an orange peel. The hope is the pricking will finally reach your heart. While the orange citrus fruit is flavorful, biting the peeling to get to it can be bitter.
Instead of rejecting the prick of God’s Word as you seek to live like He wants to, accept His guidance for in doing do you accept Him.
Jesus endured the prick of thorns placed upon His head. It was to humiliate Him. He rose above it not by being lifted upon the earth on a wooden cross but by being lifted up from the dead, a victorious Redeemer.
Surely we can rise above our self serving righteousness, endure the prick of God’s Word and be lifted up by the power of Christ to live in His glorious righteousness.
Until next time,