Monthly Archives: December 2015

Our Father Hears Our Cries

Romans 10:13 ” For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”.

Many say ” I love the Lord He heard my cry”, and the truth is He did hear the cry of mankind. Genesis 4:26 says “then man begin to call upon the name of the Lord”, and God heard the cry of man. God loves us and a contrite heart He cannot refuse, we just need to call on Him.

The word of God says whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, will you call upon Him. He can save you from any and all situations. He has not turned away from the cries of His people and all souls belong to Him. His mercy endures forever, and He is an ever present help in your time of trouble. Sometimes I think we (man), just don’t realize how important we are to God, but remember while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He died that we might live and not just live, but have an abundant life.

Will you call on the name of the Lord? He stands at the door of your heart knocking, will you let Him in. Today is the acceptable day of salvation harden not your hearts. Jesus died on a cross, rose the third day morning that your sin and mine be forgiven, call on the name of the Lord and be saved

A Generous Gift

  Sunday School Lesson

 

 

Introduction

 

Today’s texts from Matthew and Mark follow a series of exchanges between Jesus and His opponents during His final public ministry in Jerusalem. These opponents included scribes and Pharisees. Scribes served the vital role of copying Scripture by hand in an era that did not have copy machines, electronic texts, etc. A scribe was therefore recognized as an expert in the Scriptures. Scribes were held in high esteem. Pharisees, for their part, were advocates of a particular way of interpreting Scripture (compare Acts 23:8). This group believed that God would restore or maintain His favor on the Jewish people only if they kept His law faithfully. To ensure that they did so, the Pharisees “built a fence” around the law by developing oral traditions as legal commentary regarding how to apply God’s written ordinances. Pharisees thought that people wouldn’t even come close to violating God’s written law if they adhered to these oral traditions. Most Pharisees probably did not believe that God was overly concerned with the minor details of their oral tradition. But they did believe that devout Jews honored God by not violating the law as they followed detailed traditions. Pharisees were held in high esteem by most Jews, even if they did not strictly follow the Pharisees’ traditions. In contrast to these is the widow who appears in the second of our two texts for today. Widows were especially vulnerable in biblical times. Those who lacked sons or other male relatives were essentially left without means of support. They might earn some coins selling handwork, but few could make a living by doing that. As a result, many widows depended on the generosity of the community to survive. God’s law required such generosity (Deuteronomy 24:19-21; compare Acts 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:3), but those needs were easy to overlook. A widow without family or community support was in a desperate situation. She had nowhere to turn but to God (Deuteronomy 10:18; 1 Timothy 5:5).

 

Hypocrisy Exposed

Matthew23:2-7KJV

 

2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

 

3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

 

4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

 

5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

 

6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,

 

7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

 

Mark 12:38-40KJV

 

38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,

 

39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:

 

40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

 

41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

 

42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

 

Speaking “to the multitude, and to his disciples” (Matthew 23:1), Jesus affirms the importance of the position of the scribes and the Pharisees. The expression Moses’ seat does not refer to a literal place to sit. Rather, it speaks to the position of those who guide Israel in understanding God’s law. Jesus is affirming what the audience believes: these teachers are in a vital position. Those of us who are familiar with the story line of the Gospels may tend to think of scribes and Pharisees as obviously wicked. But for Jesus’ audience, they are the most highly respected people. We can better hear the significance of Jesus’ harsh words (below) against that background. Here Jesus highlights that problem. The scribes and Pharisees have become prominent because of their expertise in the law. But from positions of prominence they use that expertise to manipulate people and take advantage of them. This is not consistent with the ideal of sitting in Moses’ seat: interpreting rightly the law of the God who liberates His lowly people from oppression. To say, and do not fits a description that Jesus applies elsewhere: hypocrite (Matthew 23:13-29; etc.). Hypocrite is the Greek word for “actor,” and hypocrites are those who appear to be something they are not. This description refers to the religious leaders’ claims to honor God when their actions show that they use their teaching to disobey Him (example: Mark 7:9-13). The ultimate expression of their hypocrisy is their claim of allegiance to God while rejecting God’s very Son, who stands in their midst. Jesus has already affirmed that the true subjects of God’s kingdom do their righteous deeds where only God can see (Matthew 6:1-18) so that God is glorified (5:16). This is the righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees (5:20). But the hypocritical religious leaders are focused not on serving God but on receiving honor and prestige from other people. Jesus drives His point home by citing prominent parts of the Pharisees’ appearance. Phylacteries are small leather boxes containing pieces of parchment on which are inscribed Scripture passages. This custom probably began with a literal application of the instruction to bind the law on one’s hand or forehead (Deuteronomy 6:8; 11:18; compare Exodus 13:9, 16). The borders of their garments are fringes attached to the edges of the shawl worn by devout Jewish men. The strings of the fringe serve as a memory device (Numbers 15:37-40). Jesus’ critique is not of the phylacteries and fringes themselves. (Some think that Jesus himself may have worn the prayer shawl; see Matthew 9:20, 21.) Rather, He is critiquing the pursuit of prominence reflected in ostentatious display. Those who seek the approval of people already have their reward (6:1, 2, 5, 16). They have no standing with God, whom they effectively ignore.

 

 

Humility Exhorted

Matthew 23:8-12KJV

 

8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

 

9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

 

10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

 

11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

 

12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

 

Now Jesus explains the heart of the religious leaders’ error: their desire for prominence among people is effectively an act of rebellion against divine authority. Since all people bear God’s image, then all ye are brethren—equal to one another. We ultimately live under the authority not of greater, more powerful humans but under the authority of God Almighty. Being a teacher of God’s Word is indeed honorable, as Jesus says (vv. 2, 3, above). But to seek prominence and power through that role means pursuing a position that can belong only to God. Like the title Rabbi, the word father can be used to refer to teachers of the law, though it is likely reserved for great figures of the past (Acts 3:13; etc.). Because Israelites refer to God as Father, and Jesus himself does so quite often, this term especially highlights the way that those seeking prominence end up trying to usurp God’s authority. The one enthroned in heaven has authority greater than any upon the earth. The word masters refers to respected, authoritative teachers. Again, seeking the prominence implied by such an honorific amounts to displacing divine authority. There is but one ultimate Master, and He is Christ. This word means “anointed one,” referring to the great king promised by God. With this turn of phrase, Jesus brings into focus the essence of the issue. Seeking power over others means usurping God’s power, but the power of Christ is not the kind that seeks prominence and status. Jesus exercises God’s power in a way very unlike that of the prideful religious leaders. This helps us understand that Jesus is speaking of much more than which terms are appropriate as titles for leaders. It is not a question of what terms we use but what we mean by them. That in turn is a question of how we understand ourselves and how we understand God.

 

Humility Expressed

Mark 12:41-44KJV

 

41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

 

42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

 

43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

 

44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

 

As Jesus concludes His condemnation of the religious leaders, He takes a seat near the place where offerings for the temple are received (compare 2 Kings 12:9). Historical sources tell us that 13 trumpet-shaped receptacles for this purpose stand in the temple’s Court of Israel, where only Jewish men and women are allowed. Mark notes that those who are rich place large offerings in the receptacles. Since all money at the time is minted from metal, a large offering is very obvious because numerous coins clang as they are tossed in. By contrast, the offering of a certain poor widow is tiny, only two mites. A mite is a small Roman coin, the name of which literally means “thin.” We estimate its value at 1/128 of a day’s wage. Two such coins would seem to be an insignificant gift. Now we understand why the widow’s offering is greater than that of the rich people. For those with an abundance, a large offering requires minimal trust in God. Those with great resources can still expect to have plenty to meet their needs and even their wants. The widow, however, is destitute. What she has is too little to live on. She has nowhere to turn but to God. Her offering expresses utter trust in and dependence on Him.

Down at The Cross

Galatians 6:14″But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world”.

It is a subject of rejoicing and glorying that we have such a Savior. The world looked upon Him with contempt, and the cross was a stumbling-block to the Jew and folly to the Greek. But to the Christian, that cross is the subject of glorying. The place where I first saw the light. It is so because; of the love of Him who suffered there; of the purity and holiness of his character, for the innocent died there for the guilty; of the honor there put on the law of God by his dying; of the reconciliation there made for sin; of the pardon there procured for the guilty; of the fact that through it we become dead to the world and are made alive unto God; of the fact that it purchased us admission into Heaven, a title to the world of glory.
 All is glory around the cross. It was a glorious Savior who died; it was glorious love that led him to die; it was a glorious object to redeem a world; and it is unspeakable glory to which he will raise lost and ruined sinners to have life by his death. Who would not glory in such a Savior. If you have not yet found out that Christ crucified is the foundation of the whole volume, you haven’t been studying God’s word. Your religion is a one without a foundation of truth, like a lamp without light, you will be left in darkness, and your religion will not deliver your soul from Hell. Don’t get hung up on the traditions of man and his religious ritual, and miss the glory on the cross. The glory of the cross is that it was not only to Jesus the path to life, but that each moment it can become to us the power that destroys sin and death, and keep us in the power of the eternal life. Faith in the power of Jesus dying on the cross and His victory over sin and death, will daily kill off the deeds of the body, and the lust of the flesh.
Look at the glory on the cross; Christ crucified, as he accepted for us the wage paid by sin. The world was crucified, as he took on the sins of the world, like a felon executed upon the cross, its character condemned, its judgments condemed, its teachings despised, its treasures, pleasures, joys and toys all rejected by the Savior as is the glory of the cross. The believer crucified, as we by faith accept the death of the Savior and walk in a newness of life.” Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin”. (Rom.6:6) Let us glory in the light seen at the cross.

A Real Love

1John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love

The standard of love goes beyond what we might feel we should do, it is what Jesus teaches us to do. The prime example of giving and forgiving is seen in our heavenly Father, who showed kindness to all the world as he gave his only begotten son to die for the sin of man. This is the love we must show to others that they might see the glory of the Lord.

Jesus said if you love me keep my commandments. Now even though we profess to be able to do all things through Christ who strengthens us, when it comes to keeping Jesus commandments we often fall  short. But He is a forgiving and a giving God. His purpose for our life has become our main focus. He told us to take His yoke, for it is easy, and his burdens are light. His commandments are to Love God and to love each other. He is so giving that He gives us the strength to do what it is He commands . We must be careful not to put more love, care and preparation in our stuff than we do our savior. He has not only forgiven our sin, but he has also given us the strength to obey His  commandments.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is the way of love, the truth of what love is, and the life of love we are to live. Let us walk and communicate that love to a lost and dying world, that they may come to know the person and way of love