Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:27-28

The people kept trying to put Jesus’ family in the spotlight but Jesus always brought the conversation back to the important part of His ministry, bringing everyone back to a relationship with God. We want to elevate people and Jesus wants us to put God front and center. Whether we are praying to saints, elevating Mary to a godlike stature or putting our pastors and ministers on pedestals none of this is what God tells us to do in His Word.

No, what Jesus tells us in today’s verses is “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” The blessing that Jesus has for everyone who chooses it is found in the Word of God and it is the salvation and right relationship each can have if we follow God’s Word and accept the free gift of salvation offered to each who chooses to accept it.

Whether it is Mary the mother of Jesus, any of Jesus’ disciples or any person down through the ages each and every one has the opportunity to be blessed by God. All we need do is accept what has been freely given.

Have a blessed day,

David

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The last state of that person is worse than the first

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26

Today’s verses made me stop and think if I even wanted to address them. When I first read them I was in a quandary as to what Jesus meant. It seems on the face to be saying that by removing the original demon the person who had the demon would eventually be worse off than before as he now had seven addition and worse demons than before. Maybe I thought I could just skip the three verses and go on. After all I have missed verses in the past, although I always found my error and went back to them.

As they say in the NFL (National Football League, American football for those not in the USA) after further review I think I now see what God wants me to say about today’s verses. What I believe God is telling us is not that we should not help people but that when we help we need to finish the job. What I mean by that is that when we lead someone to Christ we need to make sure they move forward in the walk.

Too many people remain baby Christians because they were not encouraged to delve into God’s Word and get involved in a church that preaches the Word of God every week. One of my pet peeves is the people who swoop into an area ready to spread the Word only to leave after a weekend or two happy with the numbers they have “converted” but unwilling to make sure those numbers actually knew what they said. Just mouthing the words is not what Jesus wants from us. He wants our commitment to Him to come from the heart not the emotions at the time or to fit in or make a friend or parent happy.

There are no magic words to salvation only a committed heart. A heart committed to learning and following Jesus no matter how hard the road. But even when one’s heart is in the commitment to Jesus they still need to grow. A baby Christian is easily distracted from the work Jesus wants each of us to do. And a distracted Christian is the next best thing Satan can hope for one he has lost the person to God.

A baby Christian can easily fall back into old habits. That is why they need the guidance provided by a church home and Christian friends and mentors. People who are committed to leading the new Christian along to road God wants them to travel. Numbers are great and new commitments are fantastic but mature Christians should be all of our goals.

Have a blessed day,

David

Just wanted to let my readers know, my computer crashed and I am in the process of getting a new on. I am using my small laptop to post so if I am slow to respond to comments please excuse my tardiness. Hopefully by next weekend I will be back up and running.

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On this rock I will build my church

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20 ESV)

I am going to take a little detour today. In yesterday’s essay I used Matthew 16:18 and wanted to take a look at that verse again and the surrounding verses as they are some verses that divide us Christians. Was Peter the rock upon which Jesus would build His church or was Jesus referring to something else? If we just take verse 18 then a case could be made for the argument that Peter was the rock. However as we have seen before in order to correctly interpret a verse we need to take it in the context of the surrounding verses and what Jesus was teaching at the time.

This exchange between Jesus and His disciples with Peter proclaiming Jesus as the Christ is found in all three synoptic gospels, Luke 9:18-20, Mark 8:27-30 and in today’s verses from Matthew. Only Matthew recorded what Jesus said about the church. So what was Jesus referring to when He said “on this rock I will build my church.” There are two schools of thought on this. One is that Jesus was referring to Peter at the rock of the church and the other that Jesus was referring to what Peter had just exclaimed that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

I personally believe that Jesus is the only rock of the church and the faith. Peter was a great disciple and spread the Gospel not only in Jerusalem but in Rome. Still Peter was just a man and a fallible one just like we are. Jesus used fallible people to build an unfailing church one that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” However, what I believe about this one particular verse is unimportant in God’s plan. What is important is spreading the Gospel. Something Peter did and we can and should do as well.

You see whether you believe Peter is the rock of the church or not has nothing to do with your salvation. What does is that you like Peter proclaim to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That proclamation has eternal value. The rock that is Jesus will never fail you. He is always there for you.

Have a blessed day,

 

David

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A divided household falls

Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Luke 11:14-23

In today’s verses we find Jesus expelling a mute demon from a man. Some in the crowd accuse Jesus of casting out the demon with the help of Beelzebul , the price of the demons. We have Jesus doing a good thing and some want to put an evil cast on His actions. Then Jesus does something we should try to emulate. Jesus shows them that what they are saying does not make sense. Why would Satan cast out Satan? Why would Satan work against himself?

Sometimes we in the church seem to be against each other and many times we are. We take little things and make mountains out of them. We take a verse out of the Bible and the lack of a verse and make doctrines that separate us from each other. These are what I like to call “the what color is the carpet” issues. Those are doctrines that have nothing to do with salvation. Churches split over minor points with sadly frequent regularity.

One issue I saw firsthand and how it ruined a church was spiritual gifts and if they are still in force today. I have great Christian friends who come down on both sided of this issue. Some say they have ceased today while others say they are still in force. Yet, whether we are speaking about tongues, prophesy or healing they do not have one iota salvation effect. Those who practice these gifts are not any more saved than those that do not. Yet a church my family attend split of this very issue and it became so bad most found new church homes. We argue about when or if there will be a rapture. Will Jesus come back before the tribulation or if the tribulation will even happen or that it already has happened. No matter what side of any of these issues you believe they will not save you.

Jesus and Jesus alone saves us. It is that acceptance of Him and the works He did that save us. So instead of spending our time fighting among ourselves maybe we should turn that energy to proclaiming to Gospel to those who have yet to believe. Jesus tells us Satan is smart enough not to fight against himself. We need to wise up and do the same. And it is not that the church will fall, Jesus tells us “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock1 I will build my church, and the gates of hell2 shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 ESV) our infighting will not derail God’s plan but it makes Satan happy as we are expending energy that would be better spent doing Kingdom work.

Have a blessed day,

David

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How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:5-13

Jesus is not giving us and open account to ask for anything our heart desire. Many people take verses such as today’s to mean all we need do is ask and God will provide. Riches, health children or a spouse all one need do is ask and God will give it to us. But a careful reading of today’s verses show that Jesus is not talking about earthly things but heavenly things.

I think the key sentence is the last one, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Jesus is not talking about what God can give us to make life more comfortable or easier. Jesus is talking about God sending the Holy Sprite to start the process of changing us from worldly to godly. In the first part of today’s verses Jesus is not talking about luxuries but a necessity, bread. The when He changes to a son and father Jesus is still taking about food. Just as bread was considered a necessity in the Jewish culture during Jesus’ ministry so too is the Holy Spirit a necessity to our salvation.

Jesus also tells us something else in today’s verses, the son asks for the fish and the egg. So to must we ask God to send the Holy Spirit to us. God our father in heaven will give us what we ask for but what we ask for needs to be in accordance with God’s will and plan. He may give us riches and more than we need but what He wants us to ask for is a relationship with Him. That relationship is worth more than all the bread, fish and eggs in the world.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Forgive us our sins

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” Luke 11:1-4

Prayer is one of the most important aspects of the Christian life. And the Lord’s Prayer is one of the most used in Christianity. Oh we may add some words and maybe change them a bit but it is instantly recognizable. We are told to be in constant prayer. When we pray we are not telling God anything new or something He is unaware of but we are having a conversation with God. This is something that pleases God. As Jesus pointed out in today’s verses we need to always ask God to forgive our sins.

It would be wonderful if once we accepted Jesus as Lord that we would stop sinning. Unfortunately that is not the case. We are still in our sinful bodies and as long as we are we will continue to sin. Now as God works on us through the Holt Sprit we should see that we are sinning less and less but the only way we will be sin free is when we are in our resurrected bodies. Also, remember that the Holy Spirit works on us only as long as we allow Him to work. God will never force us. He wants willing followers not robots.

Something else I see in today’s verses is when Jesus tells us to ask God to forgive our sins just as we forgive those who have wronged us. When we sin it is not against someone else even if they may be hurt by our sins. No, when we sin it is against God. We are asking God to forgive our affront to Him. Then Jesus gives us another of His hard sayings. We are to forgive those who have wronged us just as God forgives us. That is tough. Forgiveness is often hard to achieve. We dwell on the wrong done to us and think the other person should pay for their actions. Good thing God doesn’t treat us the way we often treat each other.

God chose not to make us pay for our wrongs. He provided a way and another to pay the price of our sins. Jesus’ sacrifice was so great that He paid for all the sins we have committed, all the sins we are committing and all the sins we ever will commit. We will commit more sins. None of us are sin free. Even though some think they are.

This past weekend my wife and I visited our son for homecoming weekend at East Texas Baptist University. He related a story his pastor had told him about a woman who came to the pastor with an issue she wanted resolved and resolved in her way. The reason she told the pastor he should do what she wanted was because she had not sinned in thirty years. To which the pastor replied that she had just ended her sinless streak. I am not sure that was the best way to respond to the woman but it was true. The problem is there are too many Christians like this woman who truly believe they no longer sin and that all the sinning in the world is done by others. As for me, I hope I can get dressed in the morning without sinning. I am pretty positive that not a day goes by that I do not commit one sin or another and most likely multiple sins. Although some may be duplicates. So I for one need to ask God to forgive my sins and thank God that even though I am a sinner He loved me so much that He provided a way back to Him. That way is Jesus and He is waiting for each of us to accept the free gift of salvation.

Have a blessed day,

David

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One thing is necessary

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

At women’s retreats the women are often asked if they are a Mary or a Martha. But this distinction does not only apply to women. Men too can act as a Mary or a Martha. In the Jewish culture at the time the woman’s job was to keep the house and serve the guests. Martha was being a good Jewish woman by serving Jesus and His disciples. Mary however was sitting at Jesus feet listening to what Jesus was teaching. This made Martha mad. So mad that she confronted Jesus and asked Him “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Martha was so busy doing things that she was missing the message Jesus was relating. Sometimes we can get so busy doing things in and around the church that we miss the message. We get so busy we do not have time for God. I have been a Martha myself. Something needed to get done at church and I was asked so I volunteered. They needed more men in the choir so I joined. They needed adult Sunday school teachers so I volunteered. They need someone to lead a group of ushers and I was there. Then they needed someone to run the games for our AWANAs program and I said yes.

I found myself running from one place to another trying to be on time for everything. Worrying about ending the lesson on time and who could I get to fill in as an usher at the last minute. Making sure everyone was seated on my Sunday and then rushing to take my place in the choir. I was busy and these things needed to be done but I was also so wrapped up in making sure my tasks were done that I missed what was going on. Then someone told me that BUSY was just an acronym for being under Satan’s yoke. That can be so true. We are so busy doing that we do not take time out to check with God to see if that is what He wants us to be doing.

Jesus rightly told Martha that Mary had chosen the “good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Martha was busy doing the things she was supposed to do but Mary was doing the thing that God wanted her to do. Martha was doing things that could have waited or been done before hand. She was being busy and in being busy she was missing Jesus teaching. Martha or Mary, which one are you?

Have a blessed day,

David

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