Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11

In today’s verses Jesus tells those gathered at the table of one of the leaders of the Pharisees a story. Noticing how they chooses seats in order to bring honor on their selves he had a warning for them. During Jesus ministry the Pharisees were all about heaping honor on their selves. Today’s verses are not the first time Jesus warned them about seeking earthly glory.

In Jewish society of the first century the closer to the host you sat the more honored you were. In the Pharisee mind they were already top of society and deserved to be seated at the seat of honor. Just imaging a room full of Pharisees each scrambling to take the best seat at table. I imagine Jesus saw this mad dash and probable felt amused and a bit sad. Here were the leaders of God’s people and all they cared about was earthly glory.

So Jesus warned them that when you take the seat of honor you may well find that someone more worthy will show up and the host will ask you to move. By this time the only seat would be at the foot of the table, the least favorable seat. But, Jesus says if instead you choose the lowest seat then the host will come to you and move you to a more favorable seat.

These Jews being God’s people felt they deserved the most favorable place in God’s table. However once they missed seeing Jesus as the Messiah they risked losing their favored position to someone else. Jesus asked them to be humble. It is in this humility that one will be exalted. Once we humble ourselves to God and admit that we are not capable of coming into His presence on our own and accept Jesus then we will be exalted and be called sons and daughters of God.

Have a blessed day,

David

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They were watching him carefully

One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things. Luke 14 1:6

In today’s verses we see that Jesus was invited to the house of a prominent Pharisee to dine on the Sabbath. Now one of the people three just happened to be ill with dropsy. It is doubtful the ill man was there for any other reason than to be used to accuse Jesus of working on the Sabbath.

Dropsy is an old term and rarely used today. It was a catchall term for when the body retained excess fluids. The definition of dropsy from Medicinenet.com is “Dropsy: An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water. In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.” Dropsy could also be caused by cancer or possibly liver or kidney problems. Whatever the cause this man was ill and suffering.

Jesus knowing what was in the hearts of the Pharisees asked them a question, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” A simple question. One that could be answered with one word, yes or no. When we are talking with unbelievers we need to learn from how Jesus approached them. Not in a confrontational manner but by asking questions. Many times we can get the other person to see the error of their ways when they answer. Or we can find out that like the Pharisees the person we are with just cannot bring themselves to answer our question.

After the Pharisees refused to answer Jesus healed the man and sent him away. But Jesus was not done. He spoke to the Pharisees and asked them another question, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” Both Jesus and the Pharisees knew that people did things on the Sabbath that might be considered work but they did these things out of necessity or the help someone. Yet when it came to Jesus the Pharisees were willing to forget or ignore the things they did in order to trap Jesus.

People tend to do the same things today. We live in a world that worships at the altar of relativity. Even many Christians feel that some truths are relative, that is true for you but not true for me. But the truth about truth is that all truths are absolutely true. The Pharisees wanted some truths such as helping on the Sabbath to be true for them but not for Jesus.

This can be shown when people say that moral truths are relative and not based on some moral authority. This works up to the point that someone else’s view of morality conflicts with their own view. For example, if someone breaks into their home and takes their possessions their first thought is not, “well that person who took my possessions must believe taking someone else’s property is okay. No, what they think is I have been robbed and that person needs to be punished to the full extent of the law.”

A question can be a powerful thing. It can start a conversation. It can cause a person to rethink their own position or it can show you that the person really is not open to a conversation and only wants an argument.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Your house is forsaken

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” Luke 13:31-35

Jesus had some harsh words for the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders of the day. But I do not know if any were harsher than what Jesus told the Pharisees in today’s verses. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to die but the Pharisees trying to get Jesus not to go the Jerusalem told Jesus that Herod wanted to kill Jesus. Jesus seeing through them gave them a message to give Herod.

He reminded them that it was in Jerusalem that the prophets of old had been killed. Killed not by foreigners but by the Jews. Then Jesus tells those listening of the many times God had tried to bring the Jews back to Him but each time they turned away from God. Now here was their long promised Messiah teaching, healing and performing miracles in their mists and once again they rejected God. Jesus tells them that their house is forsaken and the only way they will see God is if they accept Jesus as the Messiah and turn to Him that came in the name of the Lord.

Nothing has changed since then. The only way to see God, the only way to salvation is to come to Jesus. Each person needs to accept Jesus as God’s chose one the Messiah, then Christ, God’s anointed. Only then can we be saved. Only then can out sins be forgiven. I have written of how hard some of God’s Word is to understand. Some things such as how can God have total sovereignty yet we humans retain our free will are extremely difficult for our finite minds to reconcile yet the way for each of us to be reconciled with God is clear and simple.

So simple that there is no room for discussion. All any of us need do is accept Jesus as Lord, confess our sins and turn our lives over to Him. Then we are saved. Nothing else needs to be done. And the good news is that once we are saved it is an eternal salvation. We cannot lose it and no one can take it from us. Once His always His. Such good news.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Enter through the narrow door

He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:22-30

A few years ago I was standing in the back yard of my brother Mike’s house. We four brothers conversation had taken a turn from the usual brotherly conversations concerning the fate of the Astros, Rockets of Texans to salvation. I forget how we came to this discussion. Perhaps younger brother Rob or next younger brother John had said something that caused us to discuss if Jesus is the only way to heave, Now Mike has a good friend who is Jewish and he could not bring himself the believe that such a good man would not get into heaven because rather than follow Jesus he chose to remain a Jew.

I think many of us have a good friend who is a good person, well respected in the community who is always doing good things. But, they have never accepted Jesus as Lord and savior. Maybe like my brother’s friend they are Jewish or maybe Mormon, Muslim or not religious at all. Still we know that they are good people. So how can our just and loving God refuse them eternity in heaven?

My answer to my brother was this. God can do anything He wants to do and if God decides to let others into heaven that is His choice. However, what God has chosen to tell us is that Jesus is the only way to God. That is why in today’ verses Jesus tells the people that the gate to salvation is narrow. He was letting the Jews of the day know that just being Jewish and calling Abraham their father was not enough. They had to follow Jesus. The Jews were first in line for salvation. They are God’s chosen people. Yet when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior we Gentiles go to the head of the line. The first become last and the last first.

Each of us when we die will need to have an answer to one question. Whose works do we stand on? If we have chosen to stand on our own works we will be found wanting and will hear “I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!” But if we answer we stand on the works of Christ then He will open the door and welcome us in.

You see we may be good when compared to man’s standard of goodness but that standard fall short. For as Paul tells us in Romans 3:22-23 “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” No, when we die we will be judged by God’s standard and that standard is perfection. Not one of us can come close to God’s standard and by all rights each of us deserves to be separated from God for all eternity. This is the justice that is part of a just God. But the love part of God, a God who loves us unconditionally provided a way past the need to be perfect. God sent Jesus to earth to live the perfect sin free life we could not live and the through Jesus’ death on a cross and resurrection He imparted Jesus’ perfection on those who chose to accept God’s grace. For the believer they no longer are judged on their own works but on the works of Christ. We are then free to enter through the narrow gate into the arms of God.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Does the Euthyphro Dilemma Disprove God? (Part 3)

dwwork:

The third part in the Euthyphro Dilemma.

Originally posted on Thomistic Bent:

This is the latest in a series of posts about a moral question called the Euthyphro Dilemma, which is sometimes given as a challenge to God. See the first two parts for an explanation of the problem and the first two responses.

Third, as Aquinas pointed out in his fourth way, we cannot discern between good and better unless we have standard that is external to the objects being measured. I can only tell if one thing is whiter than another by having a measure of ultimate white to compare them to, for I would never know if one was closer to the ultimate unless I had some standard to measure all the objects by. If all I had were beings on earth to determine goodness, I would not be able to look at all of them and find moral flaws, for I measure them with a moral standard more…

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Does the Euthyphro Dilemma Disprove God? (Part 2)

dwwork:

The second part in the Euthyphro Dilemma.

Originally posted on Thomistic Bent:

This post is part of a series dealing with a moral question called the Euthyphro Dilemma. The questions were set up in Part 1. This continues the response.

Second, the critic might say something like “Good” is a property that we can apply independently of God. If I can conceive of the property of good, and apply it to things independently of God, then God is not necessary for the concept of good, and the euthyphro dilemma stands. 

This second criticism is not valid. One key flaw is that it deals with conceiving of a property and mentally applying it. By its own admission it deals with the concept of good. It assumes that if we can conceive of a concept and predicate it mentally, existence must follow. This is a false conclusion. In reality, good has actual existence; things are good, or things are not good, in a very…

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What is the kingdom of God like?

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” Luke 13:18-21

What is Jesus telling us in today’s verses? Taken by themselves these verses seem to be just a couple of short sayings that Luke chose to insert in his Gospel. I have been pondering them for a few days when I reminded myself that when trying to understand God’s word then context can be everything. In this case Jesus had just finished pointing out the hypocrisy of the synagogue leaders. I then turned to the Bible Knowledge Commentary and found that today’s verses may be more negative than positive when it comes the kingdom of God. While the mustard seed my seem positive the use of leaven has had negative connotations in the history of God’s people.

I think Jesus is warning us that like the hypocrisy of the synagogue leaders so the church, the kingdom of God on earth, can and sometime is susceptible to things that cause us to lose touch with what God wants for us. It does not take much, just as a little amount of leaven can contaminate all the dough so wrong teaching can contaminate a church we must always be on guard to ensure that what is taught in our churches conforms to God’s Word. We must always be ready to stand up and confront those who would distort God’s Word but to do so with love.

So what about that mustard seed? Well a mustard seed can grow to a thirty foot plant in one season. Left unchecked false teachings can spread rapidly through a church. Causing that body to lose contact with what God wants for all of us. Yes, most of us want to have good health and have enough money to satisfy all out wants but Jesus never promised us those things. In fact He tells us to take up our crosses and follow Him. Taking up a cross is not a pleasant thing but the rewards for doing so are eternal.

What can we take away from today’s verses? First that we need to be always on guard for false teaching. Second that when a passage of scripture is hard to understand we need to first look at the context but also seek guidance from those more mature in the faith. In today’s essay I availed myself of the Bible Knowledge Commentary but I could have used other sources and asked my pastor for guidance.

One final thought. Our modern translations of the Bible are great and we have a number of translations to choose from. Often it is helpful to compare translations to get a fuller feel for what the writers were telling us. But we need to be aware that the chapters, verses and the helpful heading are add-ons not in the original manuscripts. I know that having chapters makes reading God’s Word easier and of course finding particular parts of scripture is made easier by headings and verse numbers. After all how hard would it be for AWANAs participants to memorize scripture without verses? But when Luke wrote his Gospel he did it as a narrative letter with no chapters and not numbered verses. We run the risk of misunderstanding God when we pluck verses out of context. For what I consider a very good look at this issue take a look at Stand to reason’s Solid Ground issues for January and March at this link. http://www.str.org/explore#&format=Publication

Have a blessed day,

David

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