Friday, February 29, 2008

And the prize goes to...


I think she just finished reading through most all of my posts in one sitting!!!!!!! And commented on many of them. Sorry to hear she is not feeling well today (I hope it was an illness "prior" to reading my blog!!) Wait, that doesn't sound right, let me try it this way...

I hope my blog did not cause her illness!

Get well soon Jessie

God bless

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What is that smell?

When I first got into the ministry, I served a two-point charge. One church was in a town of 250 people and the other church was out in the country surrounded by farmland. The country church was built back in the late 1800's. It was a beautiful old white building with its own cemetery in the back yard. On the inside, it was all wooden floors and of course wooden pews. The acoustics were perfect as you did not even need a microphone to be heard. They had one of those real large Bible's dated from the late 1880's and when the church closed down, they gave it to me to keep! It was an older congregation with an average age of about 75 years. It only had a handful of people attending there since all of the farms were owned by one family.

Anyway, right across the road from the church was a mega-hog farm. I believe they had over 6000 hogs there. The man who put it in was a member of this church. His name was John. I decided one day to go visit him.

As I cut across the field, I noticed one of the pigs had a wooden leg. He looked friendly enough, but I had to wonder about that wooden leg.
I met John up at his front porch and said,
"Hey John, what's the deal with the pig with the wooden leg?"
"Oh, that's a very special pig, let me tell you about him."
"A couple of weeks ago, I was out plowing my field and my tractor over turned on top of me. I was pinned underneath and couldn't get out. I screamed and hollered and no one heard me. Except for that there pig. He came up to me and saw I was in trouble and ran back to the house a squealing as loud as he could till my wife looked out the door and saw me in trouble. That there pig saved my life!"
"Wow, John, that is truly amazing! Did the pig hurt himself running back to the house? Is that how he got that wooden leg?"
"oh no, that's not it. It was just a week later, I was down by the pond doing some fishing and I fell in. I can't swim a lick. I was flapping my arms and yelling and screaming and no one heard me. Except for that there pig. He came a running up to the pond and did a swan dive, actually it was a piggy dive, and he paddled and paddled until he got to me. He used his teeth to grab by collar and he pulled me safely to the edge of the land. He saved my life!"
"Wow, John, that pig is awesome! So did he hurt his leg diving into the pond? Is that how he got the wooden leg?"
"oh no, that's not it. Just two days ago, my wife and I were asleep upstairs when all of a sudden without warning, that pig comes a running up the steps. He breaks our door down and grabs me by my pant leg. He wanted me to follow him. I did. I looked out the door to see that our barn was on fire. So me and the pig ran out to the barn to save the animals out there. I chased the chickens out and the pig jumped up onto the horse and rode him out. We were able to save every animal in there. That pig saved their life and possibly our lives as well."
"I am flabbergasted John. I don't know what to say. Did the pig hurt himself jumping down from the horse. Is that how he got the wooden leg?"
oh no, that's not it."
"well John, how did the pig get the wooden leg?
"Oh a pig like that you don't want to eat all at once!"

There you have it. That was the type of joke I would start off every sermon with. I always either had people laughing through most of the sermon or just sighing because the joke was like this one! I had to make them smile. I wanted them to feel good when they came to church and I wanted them to want to come back next week! My sermons had no substance whatsoever! People could remember my jokes but could never remember my sermons and never remember what Scripture was read out of the Bible.

Now, there actually was a mega-hog farm right across the street from the church. And when the south winds would blow, the aroma was not too pleasant! In fact, it downright stunk! You literally had to hold your breath because it smelled so bad. If you have ever driven through farm land in the Midwest of the United States, you know what I am talking about, only magnify it by about 100!

One thing for sure, when I was preaching the feel good messages, and the "God loves you" messages, no one hated me. But now that I preach God's Law and the need to repent of sins along with the wonderful grace and mercy of God, I have been called a Pharisee, a non-Christian filled with hate. I have been called judgmental, I have been called many things. Have you ever noticed how Satan gets mad at those who follow Christ? But here is something I do know...

2 Corinthians 2:16-17
"To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? You see, we are not like those hucksters -- and there are many of them -- who preach just to make money."

The Law of God is a killer in the sense that it brings knowledge of sin. It acts as a ministry of death because no one can satisfy the demands of the law on his own and is therefore condemned.

You see, the gospel message brings eternal life and ultimate glorification to some, and to others, it is a stumbling stone of offense that brings eternal death!

v.15 says, For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

So, I preach God's Word. Regardless of what I am called, I will faithfully share the whole gospel message. Yes, Jesus died for our sins. But in the grand scheme of things, what does that mean to an unbeliever?

Why did he have to do it? It is nice to say "God loves you." But it is so powerful when you can give an illustration of the kind of love that was needed to be displayed for all humanity.

Because of our wretchedness, we are deserving of hell. Because even the slightest sin, is punishable by death and judgment. God does not want any of His to perish, so He had to provide a way for us to go to heaven and still dish out His Holy Justice on humanity. It was through His Son that the fine was paid.

Jesus was 100% God and also 100% man! He was spit on, laughed at and mocked. He was abused and tortured and finally crucified. His death was bloody and lonely as the world did not receive Him. Every time I lie, I can see myself being responsible for another hit from the hammer onto the nail. Every time I look with lust, I can hear the sound of the hammer hitting the nail. It is more than I can bear. I repent of my sins, because my Jesus died for me and I know that without repentance, I will perish. I have put my trust and faith completely in Him. I acknowledge that I am a sinner in need of His forgiveness and I know I will not receive it unless I repent. So, I spend my days telling people to repent of their sins.

I know it will cause others to hate me. I count the cost every day!
I know it will cause others to mock me. I count it as joy to be persecuted for Christ's sake!
I know it will cause others to gossip about me. I do not care.

My only goal is to spread the Good News to the lost world. When I see someone living a lifestyle inconsistent with being a Christian, I will tell that person about the need to repent. Giving up our old way of living is hard to do. But we have to realize, we are either going to serve God with ALL of our heart, mind, soul and strength -- or not serve Him at all! You cannot serve two masters!

If someone has pointed out your sins and you still reject the idea of repenting of your sins, then I am sure the aroma you smell is one of stench as it is leading to death.
But, if you have been told about the Law of God and now realize the need to repent, you have just smelled the aroma of a new life in Christ and it leads to eternal life. And the smell of life is a sweet aroma!

Yes, God loves you. He proved it on the cross 2000 years ago! When will "YOU" die to self and start living for Him? Until you are obedient to God, don't bother saying you love Him.
John 14:15 says,
If ye love me, keep my commandments.

When you love God, you are obedient to His Word.
And what do we know about the Word?
In the beginning was the Word and the word was with God and the Word was God...and the Word became flesh!

A BBQ sure does smell nice.
A mega-hog farm does not!

Which do you choose.
2 Corinthians 2:14
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us manifests the fragrance of His knowledge in every place!

You can hate me and say I stink!
God's Word will cause an aroma to you...
will it be a life-giving aroma, or a death and doom aroma?
Will you repent of your sins?

When you've been hurt by the church! repost from Dec 4, 2007

When you've been hurt by the church!

You go to church thinking all is well. You picked this particular church because either you knew someone who attended there, it was close to where you live, it was the denomination you grew up in, or you have heard great things about the pastor and the youth program. You are excited to be a part of such a loving family of believers. You eat up everything they offer to you. You go to all of the sunday school classes, you volunteer your time with the youth, you go to every Bible study they have and you sit in church drinking your coffee while the pastor gives his sermon and you feel as though you are on top of the world. You feel good when you leave church. Everyone tells you to have a nice day and they will see you next week.

That was me! And it quite possibly is you too. Sounds good, doesn't it? The only problem is, you have this inner sense of not being fulfilled. Something is missing. You don't feel any different than you did before you came to church. You hear Scripture being read. You hear great stories that "really relate" to your life. You hear the story of the "pig with the wooden leg" and you know that it just has to go with the Scripture that is being read. And you are right. The sermon title is: "Are you walking around with a "wooden leg?"

You go home that day from church and you can completely remember the joke about the pig with the wooden leg. But what was the sermon about? What was that Scripture that was read this morning? It had something to do with being persecuted as a Christian. From all of the people I have talked to in my church (pastor included), none of them had ever really been persecuted as a Christian. Is that just because we live in America (the land of the free?). I would rather think it has more to do with the fact that we as Christians are not doing anything that bothers Satan. We have become so comfortable in church. Let's take our lawn chairs, some pepsi and potato chips and let's listen to what the pastor has to say today. When the sermon is over, let's pack everything up and go home and watch tv. See you next week Pastor!

How long have you gone to church like this? I went for years. Hey, I ever was a pastor and held services like this for 5 years! You know, it has to do with entertaining the people, (just like I learned from watching Willow Creek Church services!), it had to do with telling stories so that people would see they needed to have a purpose in their life (just like Saddleback Church). I wanted to have a church service like everyone else was having. After all, that is what the people wanted at this particular church. As far as the last church I attended, that is what they want there too.

But something happens. You come across something that totally changes your life. For me, it was coming across Way of the Master. It changed my life. No longer do I just "go" to church, but I truly want to hear God's Word being taught "word by word." I want to not only say WWJD? But rather, I want to know what "did" Jesus do?! The first one wwjd, has to do with trying to interpret what you think Jesus would do in a given situation. The second one, wdjd, is something you can validate by reading God's Word. You can open the bible up and see exactly what Jesus did do! That is a much better way of doing things, it takes all error out of the equation. Anyway, as a newly saved person, I flooded myself with God's Word. The difference this time is this ---


I had never been taught that I had to be obedient to God's Word. I heard a lot of feel good stories, I heard a lot of jokes (I can still remember many many of them!!) but I never was told that I had to repent of my lustful thoughts, of my lying, thieving ways. I always just figured all I had to do was just say, "sorry God, please forgive me." And I would go on my merry way. Off to commit the very same sins day in and day out!

You will be amazed by this but when a Christian decides to become obedient to God's Word, you can bet that he or she will finally see persecution. Unfortunately it will come from the least likely source. Many times it comes straight from your church family. They start to look down at you like, "who do you think you are to become so self-righteous?" I myself, had not become self-righteous, I became humbled by my total depravity. I finally "got it!" Jesus died on the cross for me. Not just because I was a "sinner," but because I was a totally depraved man so deep into sin, a breaker of all of God's Commands, and definitely not worthy to enter into heaven based on anything that I could do myself.


See, when you become obedient to God's Word, you realize that you need to truly repent of your sins. You can't just go through the motions of being a Christian. You have to actually die to self and pick up your cross and follow Jesus. Where will He lead you (many people will say we don't know but we will follow anyway). I tell you I know where He will lead you -- STRAIGHT TO HEAVEN! He will guide you along that narrow road that few will find.


So what do you do when the church brands you as "one of those 'super' Christians?" Someone who feels they have attained such a high level of godliness that no one can relate to them. Here is your answer...

You do what God's Word tells you to do. Be loving, display the fruits of the Spirit, thanksgiving, repentance, love, long-suffering, patiences, etc. You do what the Word tells you to do...

You get out and reach the lost for Christ. You evangelize to people. 150,000 people are dying each and every day, the time is now! Get out of your chair. How many of you reading this right now, spend more than an hour at the computer and don't spend a single minute out trying to reach the lost the way Jesus did? How many of you spend hours watching TV, but don't spend a second, being a Good Samaritan to someone by pointing them to the cross? I have personally witnessed to over 300 people this year and that just seems like such a small number to me. And that was after going YEARS without witnessing to a single person! I am not talking about inviting people to church, no, it is presenting God's Law to them then following it up with the wonderful grace of God! Just one person per day (not one person per month as some pastors goals would indicate!), and it is not enough. I do not want anyone, regardless of who they are to go to hell.

So, what do you do when the church has hurt you? Do what Jesus did...

Honor thy Father in heaven! Go into all the world preaching the gospel to every creature. Can you do just one person per day? Try it! Once you get in the habit of doing it daily, you will want to increase the number. Will evangelizing the lost get you saved? No! Will it make God smile?

Yes! Give Him the glory in everything you do. Praise His wonderful name. We are here to glorify Him and for His good pleasure. Let's bring people to Christ, regardless of what members of your own church are saying about you. Be faithful and don't give up! And if you want to hear the pig joke, just send me an email!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Come out from among them and be ye separate!

When I first got out of mormonism back in 1990, I knew I had to get into a real church. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I was reading my Bible each and every day faithfully! I took it to work with me and would read it during my breaks. I had a radio in my jeep (I worked for the Post Office in South Phoenix) and I would listen to a Christian radio station during my route. I soaked in the teachings of Chuck Colson, Charles Stanley, and others.

I surrounded myself with Christian friends and I was striving to learn as much as I possibly could. I would ask people questions and was learning from everyone. If they had something different to say, I soaked it in and made it a part of my belief system. The things I was believing in was in a constant state of change. What I believed on Monday would change by Wednesday depending on who I was speaking with. I would listen intently to the pastor of the church I started attending. I respected him. I thought, this man went to seminary so he must know what he is talking about...

who am I to question him or have doubts about what he is saying. So, anytime I spoke with a pastor or someone who had attended seminary, I automatically respected them. Their words were like gold to me! I wanted to be a Christian and it was now a part of my life.

The Love Years

I call these the love years because it was in my early years out of mormonism that all I heard from anyone was...
"God loves you!"
"Do you want to say the sinner's prayer with me?"
"would you like to help out with our youth program?"

So for the next five years, I was active in the church. I helped out with the youth, I went to the college classes and sat in with them, I went to Bible studies each week. God loved me and I wanted to show Him how much I loved Him back! I worked very hard for him. I was a good person and I was sure people could see Christ living within me. I would tell people that I had to be good because I might be the only Bible they see. If I was good enough, I knew they would ask me what was different about me and then I would tell them that it was Jesus. He saved me from death! He loved me a sinner and He loves them too.

It was during the latter part of the Love Years that I felt God calling me into the ministry. Mind you, as a child, I would sit in church and say I would never want to be a preacher. I didn't want people falling asleep while I was talking.
I told my pastor that I felt led to get into the ministry and he set out a course of action for me. My son and I ended up moving back to Illinois to my home town and I connected with the District Office of the church and was accepted to start out as a student pastor. I would work for two churches, while going to college full time to get my degree (Bachelors) all the while, raising my son by myself (he was 12 yrs old at this time).

I was to begin in the ministry on July 1, 1996. Just before Memorial Day a little over a month before I started as a pastor, my dad unexpectedly died. The very first funeral I ever did was my own dad. It was hard but it was so special because of the love I had for him, it was such an honor to send him off to God!

The Ministry Years

The next five years were the ministry years for me. I had just lost my dad, my mentor, my leader, my best friend and I was off to begin a ministry of serving God. It was a challenge. The school I attended was about 45 miles from home and the church, my son went to school about 5 miles outside of town. I adopted my son the previous year (he is Hispanic) and we lived in a small rural community in central Illinois, a very white culture. My son took it hard as others would pick on him for not being white. Kids can be so cruel. But he kept his head up, he got involved in sports and was the best player on his teams. He was always a whole head taller than his friends (he is now 6' 3 1/2") I was working about 50 hours per week for the churches and with school, I was putting in another 25 hours per week, then with trying to spend time with my son, I was getting burned out and fast! I had never lived in a small community before (250 people) and it was hard.

I kept up a good front though. I would give sermons that were very uplifting. When people left my church service, they knew that God loved them. I would tell everyone that Jesus loved them this much (and of course, I had the canned response of spreading my arms like He did on the cross!). I would start off each sermon with a joke and a story. I would then read Scripture and give my sermon on it (it was actually more of a story than an actual sermon). The people loved it. They would tell me after the service that it was one of the best services they had ever heard. (you see, I had a lot of compassion. I was sincere in my message and I did truly love people and God, and it showed) I was the type of pastor who would not stand behind a pulpit and read 10 pages of notes. I was able to just stand in front of the people and give God's message to them. I would talk to them like a friend would talk to another friend. I cared about them. I would finish with a couple more jokes and the day was done.

This was my life for the next five years! It was hard, it was satisfying, it was depressing, it was an honor, it was a farce and a joke!

I wasn't helping anybody. What really ticked me off was before the one service started a woman in church asked me not to talk about homosexuality because her son is gay and he was going to be in church that day. I told her not to worry, I was talking about something else. I never saw that young man again! It haunts me night and day and I just pray that someone has given him the Truth of God's Word before it is too late.

I was a stand-up comedian behind the pulpit (clean jokes) and I was a Christian (in name only!) At home, I was guilty of adultery, of lying, of viewing pornography. Whenever I was supposed to preach on one of these sins, I would always change it to something else. I couldn't look at the written Word on those sins. My conscience was bearing witness to me that I was still dirty. Something was wrong.

The Growth Years

It was during the next five years that I finally started to grow. I left the ministry to get some more training. I have always had a dream of opening a camp for abused and disadvantaged children to introduce Christ to them. So, my son and I moved back to Arizona and we both got a job with Alpha Omega Publications. I learned how to begin Christian Schools and actually help people start several across the world. After I got the training, I was going to serve a church in Iowa. Before moving there, we came back home to visit my mom. Her house was a mess, the car was not running and the yard had not been mowed for about 7 weeks. So I called the church and told them that I was going to stay and take care of my mom. She was all alone and needed someone to take care of some of the household chores. So, I had to find a job in the secular world again. I was hired by a food store just 2 blocks from my mom's house. My first day of work was 9/11/01. Talk about a day that you will always remember! That first day, I talked to all of my new coworkers and we talked about God and how much He loves us.

Something still didn't seem right. I kept remembering that young gay man sitting in my church and me not telling him about the consequences of sin. Of course, I was not facing my own consequences of my own sins. I always believed that there was a heaven and a hell. But I also knew that if you didn't talk about hell, you would be able to reassure yourself that you were going to heaven. I would take my mom to church and her pastor asked me if I would preach one Sunday while he was gone. I did, and really enjoyed it again. It felt good to be up there again. Start it off with a good joke and get people happy. You always want them to have a smile on their face when they leave church. Why not? God loves them! Of course, I was still a liar, an adulterer and still involved in pornography, but I loved God with all my heart!!!! (at least I thought I did!)

The Day that Changed My Life!

I happened to see an advertisement for Way of the Master. I typed it in and heard "Hells Best Kept Secret." and "True and False Converts"

I literally cried! I spent so many years not only fooling myself and my congregations. I was fooling my own family. I was fooling my neighbors, I was fooling my coworkers. And I was fooling my friends
But I was not fooling God!

The Apostle Paul said he had not known sin but by the Law. It was the Law of God that exposed my sins to me. I knew I was sinning but when I realized that "living" in my sins, was a sign of not being saved, I realized that had I died, I would have gone to hell. All those years of listening to people tell me that God loved me, even though I was hiding my sins, I was fooled into thinking I was secure. God's Word says that unless you repent, you WILL perish! I think of that gay boy and realize I blew it! I think of my friends and realize that I never told them what they needed to hear. I think about my own lifestyle and I realize that I could have died and gone to hell. That scares me! I look back and realize that going 6 weeks with a heart beat of 26 beats per minute constantly, I thought I was going to die. I took my son to the Grand Canyon once when we lived out there. I jumped from one rock to another rock (of course I jumped over an open area with no fence, I would have dropped about 1000 feet!!), I was driving home in a heavy fog one night with several kids in my car and you could not see anything. We were driving on the Interstate and were scared to stop because we could have been hit from behind. As soon as we got into town I made a right turn and my front right tire completely fell off the car! My son this past week was at work and a fire broke out (he works in a paint factory) and it could have all blown up with him in there! He was in a car accident once where the car rolled over off the road. He lived in a house that had drive-by shootings constantly. He had a nine year old friend who carried a gun to his house!

How many chances is God going to give us before our luck runs out? I am so thankful that He saved us both so many times. I was driving on the interstate once and was almost crushed between two semi-trucks. Death is just around the corner for any of us.

Are you still living in your sins?

I listened to people all the time telling me what they "thought" the Bible said. They all, each and every one of them, told me the same thing. God loves you!

yes, I know He loves me, but His wrath will also come upon those who do not repent of their sins. Had death come to me before I had repented, I would have ended up in hell for all eternity.

Do I still sin. Yes! The difference between now and then is this...
then, I would sin and try to hide it and just ignore it ever happened.
Now, I recoginize the sin and repent of it immediately. I hate that which I do. Much like Paul when he says he does the things he knows he should not do and he does not do the things he knows he should do. It is an attitude adjustment that I needed.

I will no longer listen to other false teachings. There are a lot of well meaning people out there who want to share their feelings and thoughts about Scripture. I have been there, done that. Now, that Scripture has come alive to me, my understanding has matured. I no longer need to rely on strangers to teach me. The Bible is my sole teacher along with the Holy Spirit.

So now what I do is this...

Come out from among them and be ye separate!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Abusing the Poor by John MacArthur

Abusing the Poor

Luke 21:1-4


John MacArthur
Copyright 2007, Grace to You.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

This morning I want you to open your Bible to the twenty-first chapter of the gospel of Luke, Luke chapter 21. And I want to read this somewhat familiar portion of Scripture to you, to establish it in your mind. And then we’re going to look at it, I trust, in a beneficial way. Luke 21 and verse 1.

Speaking of Jesus, the text says, “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them, for they all out of their surplus put into the offering, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.’”

Now, if you are beginning to say to yourself, “Here goes another message on sacrificial giving,” you might be right to expect that because that is the universal application of this text. It is always used to tell us we ought to give the way this widow gave.

But let’s back up a little bit before we look at the actual interpretation and remind ourselves where we are. This is Wednesday of Passion Week. This is the final week of our Lord’s life. On Monday He entered the city. On Tuesday He cleansed the temple. All day Wednesday He has been teaching the multitudes in the temple area and has been confronted by the false religious leaders of Judaism who have endeavored to trap Him in His words so that they might have some cause to have Him executed. He has silenced them every time with His answer, thwarted them every time with His answer, so that they’re going to have to lie and fabricate a reason for the Romans to execute Him on Friday. They’re done asking questions. It’s over. At this point on this Wednesday after a long day of teaching, He no longer addresses the crowd, the fickle crowd that hailed Him as Messiah and will cry for His blood not too long after this Wednesday. He has no more to say to the crowds in general. He has no more to say to the false religious leaders. He has denounced them and given them His last invitation and given His last invitation to the crowds as well.

In fact, follow the flow here because in chapter 21, starting in verse 5, the theme is judgment. The time of invitation is over. The ministry of our Lord in these three years has come to its end. No more gospel invitations. No more clarifications to the crowds and to the leaders. He’s finished. And their final assessment is that He is not the Messiah they wanted, and they reject Him, leaders and people. And so, starting in verse 5 comes a long message on destruction, judgment...judgment that will come in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the temple and the city and the nation Israel and a judgment of God beginning in 70 A.D. that will stretch all the way until the return of Jesus Christ through all these 2,000 years and until our Lord comes. In fact, the last words of chapter 20 are clearly words of judgment, “Beware of the scribes,” warning the people about how dangerous they are. And you remember that Luke only gives us a couple of verses regarding our Lord’s warning concerning the scribes and the Pharisees. Matthew gives us the full account of His message on the danger of these false religious leaders, it’s chapter 23 verses 1 through 39. He has pronounced judgment on the leaders and therefore judgment on the nation for following those leaders, and rejecting Him.

So between the condemnation of the false leaders, and the pronunciation of judgment that will last and has lasted two thousand years until Jesus comes, is this little vignette about a widow dropping two copper pennies into an offering receptacle in the temple. The question is, what does this have to do with anything? How does this fit? Why does Jesus inject this moment of reflection on a widow giving an offering in the temple into this section between a diatribe against false leaders and all the people that follow them, and a pronunciation of judgment on the temple, on the city and on the nation and a judgment that will last until the Second Coming? Why is this here?

Universally commentators tell us that our Lord is giving us a little glimpse of true worship in the middle of the false worship that dominates the temple. They tell us that it’s a beautiful little story in the midst of ugliness. A little light in the midst of darkness, an illustration of giving till it hurts, contrasted with the selfishness of the spiritual leaders. This is the traditional, this is the universal explanation of this passage. In fact, scholars agree that this is a lesson on giving, but interestingly enough they can’t agree what the lesson is. And if you were to go through say 25 or 30 or 50 or 100 commentators on this passage, they would suggest many lessons. They don’t all agree. Here are the options, or some of it.

One, Jesus is teaching that the measure of a gift is not how much you give but how much you have after you give. But that’s the measure of the gift. The measure is not the amount of the gift, but the amount left over. And that’s the lesson the Lord is trying to teach us and many have waxed eloquent on that lesson.

Another option, a second one is that the true measure is the self-denial involved, the cost to the individual which is a just another way to say the first one. But that the percentage given is really what the issue is relative to one’s expression of self-denial in that percentage. Obviously, the woman gave the highest percentage...everything. So it’s about the percentage you give.

Third possibility also related to the other two, is that the true measure of any gift is the attitude with which you give it. Is it selfless? Humble? Surrender? Expressing love for God, devotion to God and trust in God? The widow, we are told, had the least left behind, gave the highest percentage and must have had the best attitude.

Fourthly, and this is another option that some have suggested, that the gift that truly pleases God is when you give everything and take a vow of poverty. And all of these and combinations of all of these are defended by virtually all those who write on this text. Teachers have waxed eloquent on all of them.

Now at this point I will confess to you, in spite of the popularity of these views, in spite of the universality of these views, none of these explanations makes any sense to me....none. In fact, all of those interpretations are imposed on the text and you know how I feel about imposing things on the Bible text....not good. You say, “Why do you say they’re imposed?” Because Jesus never made any of those points. Jesus never said anything about what’s left behind, what percentage, what attitude, or do the same and give everything. He didn’t. Jesus never makes any of those points. He does not say the rich gave relatively too little, they had too much left over. He doesn’t say the rich gave too low a percent. He doesn’t say the widow gave the right amount. He doesn’t say the rich had a bad attitude and the widow had a good attitude, or good spirit. He doesn’t say that. In fact, He doesn’t say anything about their giving except that she gave more than everybody. He doesn’t say why or with what attitude, or whether she should have, or shouldn’t have, or they should have, or shouldn’t have. Her outward action is all that you see. It is no more or less good, bad, indifferent, humble, proud, selfish, unselfish than anybody else’s act. There is no judgment made on her act as to its true character. There is nothing said about her attitude or her spirit. She could be acting out a devotion. She could be acting out of love. She could be acting out of guilt. She could be acting out of fear. We don’t know because Jesus doesn’t say anything. Doesn’t say anything about the rich, doesn’t say anything about the widow, doesn’t draw any conclusions, doesn’t develop any principles, doesn’t command anything, doesn’t define anything. Why? Because none of that matters.

The only thing I can conclude is if Jesus wanted to say any of that here, He could have said it. If He wanted to say, “Now you need to give like the widow, she had a good attitude and she gave a maximum percentage and what she had left behind was little. This is the kind of sacrificial giving that we’re after.” He doesn’t say that. Doesn’t say anything. The story then is not designed to teach any of those things. It’s not designed to teach us about percentages, about how much you have left over, about attitudes. It’s not designed to teach anything about giving. If there is one thing apparent here, and this is the bottom line, if there is one thing apparent, it is that she gave everything. So if there’s one lesson that would be obvious and wouldn’t need to be stated, it is that God expects you to give 100 percent of what you have.

That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous. That’s irresponsible. That’s foolish. It’s not designed to talk about the principles of giving. There’s only one comment that Jesus makes, she gave with her two copper coins relatively a great deal more than all the others because all the others gave out of their surplus, which means they had some left. She gave out of her poverty all she had to live on. That’s all there is. No comment that the Lord appreciated her. No comment that the Lord loved her, commended her. No comment that she was now in the Kingdom of God. No invitation to the disciples to reach in to their little money bags and go up there and throw in everything they had because it was good enough for the widow, it should be good enough for the disciples of Jesus. And if she was truly spiritual, they should be truly spiritual as well.

For these reasons, the traditional explanations of this text make no sense to me at all. One thing I do know is this, the Lord does not expect you to give 100 percent of what you have so that you have absolutely nothing left. But that’s the only obvious principle here if you’re going to draw a principle. Besides, why would you inject the principle in giving in a context like this? This is no place to interject, “Oh by the way, a few words on giving.” That sounds like a traditional Baptist sermon, in the middle of everything you always have a few words on giving. What in the world does that have to do with anything? The Lord makes no comment about giving except that she gave more than everybody else relative to what she had. She is not commended. They are not condemned. No one’s attitude or spirit in the giving is discussed. And no principle regarding giving is drawn by our Lord. The narrative is not intended to deal with any of those matters. The reason the Lord doesn’t say anything about it is that’s not what it’s about. And if you look at the context before and after, this is all about the condemnation of wicked spiritual leaders and a corrupt religious system that is about to be destroyed. In fact, in verse 5, the passage immediately after this, some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, and He said, “As for these things which you’re looking at, the days will come in which there will be not one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” This little vignette is in the middle of a diatribe against a false religious system and a pronouncement of judgment on that system, judgment that is still going on today.

So what...just exactly is this about? Now one more comment or two before we look at it, it’s not obscured. Anybody can read it and read exactly what it says. It’s not profound. It’s not got some deep hidden secret meaning. This is not one of the great spiritual insights in the Bible. This is not one of the great revelations of Scripture. This isn’t one of the great brilliant things that Jesus said that has all kinds of deep meaning. It’s simple, clear. He saw a widow give more than everybody else. In other words, her involvement in religion cost her more than it cost anybody else because it cost her everything. That’s all, just an observation. And the disciples weren’t confused about it. They didn’t ask questions about it. It was patently obvious.

Another thing to think about. The assumption in interpreting this as a model for Christian giving is that Jesus was pleased with what she did. It doesn’t say that. Absolutely doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say that Jesus was pleased her gift. It doesn’t say Jesus was pleased with her attitude. It doesn’t say anything about His attitude. In fact, what I think what she did displeased Him immensely. I think it was more than displeasing. I think it angered Him. I think what she did angered Jesus.

Let me put it this way. How would you feel, you’re a person who loves the Lord, you’re a person that loves your brother and cares about people and cares about their would you feel if you saw a destitute widow who only had two coins left to buy her food for her next meal give those two coins to a religious system, how would you feel? You would say, “Something is wrong with that system when that system takes the last two coins out of a widow’s hand.” That’s what you would say and you would be right to say that. Giving your last two coins to a false religious system, how would you feel if you saw a destitute, impoverished person give to her religion her last hope for life to go home perhaps and die? You’d be sick. You’d feel terrible. You would be repulsed. Any religion that is built on the back of the poor is a false religion. What a sad, misguided, woeful, poor victimized lady. It’s tragic, painful. And I think that’s exactly how Jesus saw it...exactly.

He saw that corrupt system taking the last two pennies out of a widow’s pocket. In desperation, hoping that maybe in that legalistic system her two coins would buy some blessing, trying to be dutiful, the rabbis had said with alms you purchase your salvation, trying to buy your way into heaven, trying to buy relief from your desperation, your destitution, contemporary quote/unquote evangelists call this seed faith. “Give me your money and God will multiply it back to you.” God doesn’t want a widow to give up her last two cents, you couldn’t find that in the Bible any place. That’s the last thing God would want a widow to do.

Look at Matthew 15 for a moment and I’ll show you this. Matthew 15, and here the Pharisees and scribes are again confronting Jesus and they’re upset because the disciples don’t go through certain ceremonial washings of the hands which they have invented. And so they say, “Why do Your disciples...verse 2...transgress the tradition of the elders for they don’t wash their hands when they eat bread?” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your traditions?” See, what they had done is create a false religious system in the name of God, a false religious system that transgressed the commandment of God. And here’s a perfect illustration of how they did it. This is so interesting. “For God said,” back in Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, “For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother and he who speaks evil of a father or mother, let him be put to death.” Wow. “But you say, follow this, ‘Whoever shall say to his father or mother, Anything of mine you might have been helped by has been given to God.’” That’s what they were saying. They were supposed to support their mother and father. Honor their father and mother boils down to making sure their needs are met. And in order to get around that and to parade their righteousness and to buy salvation, instead of giving to their mother or father, they would say, “Oh, we’re giving to God,” and leave their mother and father destitute. And so by the tradition of giving money to God that belonged to the needy, they violated the Law of God.

In verse 6 He says, “You invalidate the Word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites.” Verse 9 He says, “You worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the traditions of men.”

The point that I want you to understand is this, God is concerned that people have their needs met. It is the responsibility in the Ten Commandments of children to provide for their parents when their parents need care and provision. To say we can’t do that because we’ve given it to God, is to violate the Law of God with your tradition. If you’ll notice in Mark chapter 7, Mark’s account of this same conversation, it adds something familiar to us. Verse 8, Mark 7 verse 8, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” You’ve invented a kind of religion that has nothing to do with the commandment of God. Verse 9, “You’ve nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition, for Moses said, ‘Honor your father, your mother. He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death. But you say if a man says to his father or his mother anything of mine you ought to be helped by is korban,’” that means they had a word for it, Oh it’s korban, it’s korban. That means devoted to God, you no longer do anything for your mother or father, thus invalidating the Word of God by your tradition.

The system that had developed in Judaism abused poor people. And it abused it on...abused them on a spiritual level. Anyone who withholds money from needy parents in order to give it to God is in direct disobedience to God and is dishonoring God’s Word and substituting a man-made tradition for God’s Word. Basic human needs come first with God before religious offerings. Listen, God’s Law was never given to impoverish people, but to help them. Man was not made for the Law but the Law was made for man. We would conclude that this woman was part of a system that took the last two cents out of her hand on the pretense that this was necessary to please God, to purchase her salvation and to bring her blessing. She was manipulated by a religious system that was corrupt. This is not an illustration of heartfelt, sacrificial giving that pleases the Lord, this is not a model for all of us to follow. Jesus never expects that, in fact He told a servant who had very little, “You should have put your money in the bank and earned interest because you need that to meet your own physical needs.”

Something very different is going on here. This is not about Jesus honoring giving, this is about a victim of a corrupt system who is literally made absolutely destitute trying to live up to that system and earn heaven. Let’s go back to the account now in Luke 21. You’ll see how this unfolds.

Verse 1, “And He looked up,” now stop there. That assumes that He was...what?...looking down. Good! That’s lesson one in exegesis. If you looked up, you had to have been looking down. That’s really important...really, really important. Mark in a parallel passage, Mark 12:41 to 46 or so, says He was sitting down. And you need to understand what’s gone on here. In verses 46 and 47, at the end of the chapter, you have that brief, brief statement about His beware-of- the-scribes speech, but the full speech is in Matthew 23, okay, the full speech is in Matthew 23. He had just completed that speech.

At the end of a whole day of talking, teaching, confronting, interacting, conflict, an exhausting day, a whole day, in the midst of massive crowds jostling, listening, interacting, that in itself, the sheer physical effort in itself would leave Him exhausted. But then in addition to the physical exhaustion, He is given this...this denunciation, this damnation speech that is recorded in Matthew chapter 23, you need to look at it for a moment. It’s’s the low moment in His life. After all the years of incarnation, all the years of ministry, all the sermons preached, all the questions answered, all the miracles done, it all comes down to the leadership rejecting Him and the nation following the leadership and also rejecting Him. And so He gives this diatribe, this blistering malediction against the false religious leaders. And He uses the word “woe” repeatedly which means curse, damn, consigned to judgment. Matthew 23, it appears in verse 13, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” Verse 14, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” Fifteen, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” Sixteen, “Woe to you, blind guides.” Verse 17, “Fools and blind men.” Verse 23, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” Twenty-four, “Blind guides.” Twenty-five, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” “Blind Pharisees.” Verse 17, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” Twenty-nine, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.”

And it all comes down to verse 37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets, stones those who are sent to her, how often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate.” It’s over. Judgment. And it’s going to be that way until you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Judgment will fall and last until Christ returns. This is the sad, final message. The conclusion is devastating. Not only devastating to the leaders, devastating to the nation, but devastating to Jesus. This is where all His efforts end, long judgment until the Lord’s return on this nation. So it’s not just the physical weariness, it’s the agonizing sad reality of what our Lord says. He feels deeply the sinful rebellion and unbelief of Israel, leaders and people. He shed tears when He walked into the city, chapter 19 verse 41, and saw it, He wept. And He’s still weeping. Preaching these words would be heart wrenching. All these 33 years and this is how it ends, an exhausting emotional experience for Him. It was over. No more calls to the Kingdom, no more invitations to salvation, only a pronunciation of damnation that would last 2,000 years and send generation after generation after generation after generation of these chosen people into a godless eternity.

After those tragic words, the acknowledged end of salvation hope for the nation, He had come to His own and His own received Him not, He must have been exhausted, He must have been spent, He must have been heart-broken. And so, Mark says He was sitting and His eyes must have been looking down as He contemplates the damning religion of Judaism and the fact that the temple where He sat which He had earlier cleansed was so corrupt, its religion so ungodly that it along with the city of Jerusalem and the whole nation of Israel had to be totally destroyed and kept under judgment for millennia.

So there He sat in moments of thought before He turns to pronounce the judgment for all his disciples to hear. No wonder He was looking down. And when He looked up, Mark 12:41 says, “He saw opposite, the treasury observing how people were putting money into the treasury.” Jesus had said in Matthew 6 that you were to do your giving in secret. But the religious system had developed a very public prominent way to do it and Pharisees came along and had trumpets blown announcing their arrival to give, according to Matthew 6. So He looks up and there He sees the people coming, the treasury and He observes how people were putting money into the treasury.

What is the treasury? Well the court in which Jesus was sitting is a very, very large open court in the temple area. It was called the Court of the Women. There was an inner court where only the men could go but this is the court where everyone could go, men and women. Jesus taught here as indicated in John chapter 8, in fact, He taught on the light of the world on that occasion. And He taught in the Court of the Women, the great open court because it was where everyone could come. He calls it the treasury because there was a section of it that the leaders had designed as the place you give your money. They had set up 13 shofar-trumpet shape. You know what a shofar is, it’s a horn. They had set up 13 of those in which people dropped their money. And each of them had a sign on the bottom of it indicating exactly what that money was to be used for. Old shekel dues, new shekel dues, bird offerings, wood, incense, gold, free will, they all were labeled and people would go by and they would in very open courtyard, publicly put their giving on display. The treasury is actually the word gazophulakion from two Greek words, gaza meaning treasury, phulake meaning prison. Once you dropped them in, they were held in there. This is the real heart beat, folks, of false religion, right? This is the real center of false religion. The center of false religion is the treasury, folks. It’s all about the money. They do it, says Peter, for filthy lucre. Luke 16:14, Jesus said, “The scribes and Pharisees were lovers of money.” We know the Sadducees who ran the temple franchises were lovers of money, because Jesus said you’ve turned My Father’s house a house of prayer into a den of robbers, as they extorted money out of people for sacrifices and coin exchange. False religion is always about the money. When you get to the treasury, you get to the heart of false religion.

And so, as the wearied and spent and sad heart-broken Savior lifts up His eyes and watches, He sees the normal course of false religion, poor, deceived souls putting their coins in trying to buy blessing and salvation. And He sees, verse 1, the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. Rich is plousios in the Greek, it simply means they have a full supply. Those with enough. Not mega-rich, super-rich, very rich, super-rich, just they had enough. Those who could put some in and have some left, the non-poor, people who could make offerings and still have enough to live. In fact, Mark 12:41 says they were putting in large amounts, polu(?), much, they were putting in much. They were putting in a substantial amount and they still had plenty left over.

The religious system demanded money. It demanded money to make the guys who were in charge of it comfortable and prosperous and wealthy. And that’s what false religion always, always does. This was the pattern then. Here they were in the open court where everybody could see, coming along, dutifully following the prescriptions and the demands of their leaders in the self-righteous acts of giving to buy favor from God, literally to purchase their salvation. And for the most part, Israel was a prosperous country, people did okay. They could afford it. But in watching this, the Lord sees one widow. He saw a certain, poor widow, the word is penichron meaning poor and needy but not totally destitute. It’s way down there, but it’s not the bottom. It would mean somebody with very, very little, penichros, a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins, lepta, lepta, Jewish coins, the smallest coins they had. She puts this coin in there.

Now wait a minute. A poor widow, does that sound familiar to you? My mind immediately goes back to verse 46 of chapter 20, doesn’t it? “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes and love respectful greetings in the market places and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses...who devour widows’ houses. They build their success monetarily on the backs of widows. Wow! Our Lord indicts them for their severe abuse of widows, along with the Sadducees, the Pharisees and the scribes had a system that abused the poor and the defenseless for whom they had only disdain. They viewed any poor widow as being under the judgment of God, that’s why she was a poor widow. And they would aid God in making life tough for them to punish them for whatever sins God was punishing them for. Furthermore, widows were women and women were second-class, and Pharisees every day prayed, “Lord, make me not a Gentile or a woman.” And because they were widows, they were defenseless and easy prey.

What do you have here? You have a destitute widow them, one of them ones just discussed in verse 47. How could you not make that connection. Here is just a couple of sentences later an illustration of a poor widow who is being devoured by a religious system, her last two cents, her life she gives to this system, dutifully, along with everybody else, trying to live up to the system, trying to buy her salvation in an act of charity in a hope that it will earn her favor with God, she gives up her last two small copper coins...smallest coin, she dropped two of them in one of those 13 shofars. That was all, nothing is said about her attitude, nothing is said about her spirit, nothing said about whether she did it in desperation or devotion, whether she did it in legalism or love, it doesn’t say anything about that. The Lord doesn’t commend her, doesn’t make her an example, doesn’t validate what she did, doesn’t say it was a worthy spiritual act that greatly pleased Him. All He said was, this religious system is preying on widows, this cost her more than everyone else. She put in relatively, comparatively more than anyone. Yes, the religious leaders were devouring widows and the more desperate they became, the more they needed, they thought, to buy God’s blessing. Belittled by the establishment because they were thought to be in that state because of divine punishment, second-class women, they were defenseless, easily exploited and the system exploited them to the max. Took the last two cents of that poor woman and it was all, the end of verse 4 says, she had to live on, it was literally her life. She’ll go home and die.

Now Scripture is full of commands and instructions for the people of God to take care of widows, is it not? I wrote down about twenty of them here which I won’t take you through, but you can check a concordance, look up widows and find them. There are warnings all throughout Scripture to care for the poor, care for the widows, and do not abuse them. The real tragedy that struck our Lord was the abuse of widows taking place in the name of God in the temple, the temple of God. They had turned it into a den of robbers and they were robbing those who had the least. It is ugly exploitation of widows in the house of God in the name of God. Verse 2 says, “A certain poor widow,” penichros, poor but not ptochos, but then Jesus says in verse 3, this poor ptochos because once she gave up the last two coins, she went from penichros to ptochos, destitute, nothing. She gave up all her life, cost her...this religious system cost that widow her life. She’s going to go home and die. Do you get the picture? Jesus isn’t commending her, she’s a victim. He’s not proud of her. He’s not making her an example of sacrificial giving. This is an absurdity. He is observing the corruption of the system that is going to be destroyed under the leadership of these corrupt condemned leaders. They’re exploiting the most defenseless, the most impoverished. Jesus certainly is not saying she gave her last cent and that’s what you should do, of course not. He doesn’t want you to give up everything you’ve got and go home and die. He’s given us richly all things to enjoy. It says nothing about percentages, nothing about proportional giving, nothing about giving with the right spirit, nothing about the measure of the gift is what you have left, nothing about giving up everything and living on faith. That’s not here. He’s observing the false religion that preys on the weak and the desperate and the defenseless and holds out hope to the hopeless if they just give their money. I think Jesus was not happy. I think Jesus was angry. And that’s why He says in verse 6, “As for the things which you’re looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” And the disciples say, “When’s it going to happen?” And He says, “It’s going to happen,” and He describes it in the remainder of the chapter.

Isn’t this obvious? If you saw a widow give her last two cents to some religious organization in the hope that she could purchase salvation or purchase blessing, or buy healing, or buy prosperity, you wouldn’t commend her, you’d want to stop her and you’d want to shut down that religious system that preys on the desperate. This act did not please our Lord. She’s simply been taught and she bought in to a system that destroyed her. No praise is given of her act or her attitude. She’s caught in the corruption of the system at the hands of those wretched leaders. She has given her last coins to a false religion. Jesus is angry. And that’s why He’ll destroy this den of robbers. Judgment came, 70 A.D., and it continues now on that temple, on that city, on that land until Jesus comes again.

You know, this continued to go on through history? For Martin Luther in the Reformation it was a Catholic Church abusing the poor that in his mind invalidated the whole system. They were building massive cathedrals. They were building St. Peter’s in Rome. They were building it from the money of the poor, destitute, impoverished people to whom they were selling indulgences to build St. Peter’s, promising the people that for money their sins would be forgiven. When it became so abusive, Luther reacted, the people reacted and you had a Protestant Reformation. I’ve been in cities around the world where I’ve talked with people in cathedrals and I’ve asked the question a number of places...Why are none of the cathedrals ever finished, why do they keep building them? And the answer is because the church can tax the people as long as construction is going on. Sometimes it goes on for a thousand years. The history of the Roman Catholic Church in the world is a history of massive unbelievable wealth at the top, out of the pockets of the destitute and the poor trying to buy their way into heaven.

In a perhaps more familiar role for some of us, the largest segment of givers to the Charismatic prosperity gospel preachers are single women, desperate for healing, desperate for money. Sometimes they’re promised money, health and the new one is a spouse...a man. That’s right, if they send in their money. So I say, woe to you who sell your miracle water and your miracle cloths that promise to heal the desperate if they send you their money. Woe to you wealthy self-indulgent preachers who become rich on the backs of the lonely poor, disillusioned diseased and desperate who are told to give you their money as an act of faith so that God is obligated to make them healthy and wealthy. Woe to you who indulge in ten thousand dollar a night hotel rooms, claim revelations from God, spend 112 thousand dollars a month on your private jet with money taken from the most desperate people. Woe to you, you will not escape judgment.

One person I read about this week worked for a five-star hotel, stole $400 thousand from the hotel. They tracked the employee down. Found him in a small dingy rented apartment in a slum with no car. When they asked where the money was, he had given it all to a prosperity preacher on the promise that it would be multiplied. This is not true religion, never has been. Listen to James 1:27, “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God to visit orphans and widows in their distress.” True religion does not abuse the poor. It ministers generously, graciously to their needs.

Isn’t it amazing? Of all the little things...of all the little things that could have been the trigger to set off the destruction of the temple, it was one illustration of an abused widow that our Lord puts on the pages of Scripture. Woe to you who abuse women, widows, the distressed, the downcast, the poor, the sick with your lying promises to get their money. That’s false and it will be destroyed.

Father, we hear this message and we know that it’s consistent with Your heart because You care for the downcast and the poor. Jesus came and He fed the crowds. Jesus came and He healed the sick. Jesus came and He poured out love and grace to all who would come to Him and said His burden is light, His yoke is easy...a contrast to the wicked false religious systems that prey on people, especially the defenseless and the destitute and the desperate and the hurting and the needy. Lord, would You bring that to an end and would You exalt Your true church and the true Christian faith. This we ask only for Your glory. Amen.

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "MacArthur's Collection" by:

Tony Capoccia
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Monday, February 25, 2008

How do you cover up your sins? UPDATE

Take and read the sign on the left, if you can not read it too well, then scroll down to the second picture!

Now, look down on the bottom of this picture. What is this guy doing?

selling his "wares!" Looks like he is trying to use his umbrella to "cover up" his sins!

hmmmm, how many of us do that?

Seriously, how many of you (me included) have

tried to cover up your sins? I know I am guilty!

Just think of all the ways we do it...

1. The Denial -- if we say we are not sinning (even though we are) we feel it makes it okay.

2. The Cover-up -- like this man trying to cover the sign, we tend to "cover up" our sins with our good works!

3. The Delete button -- we get on the computer and see things that are inappropriate and then we figure we can delete history (even though it is still in the hard drive)
4. The "my other church members do it" club -- we tend to gravitate towards those people who are also sinning, kind of like speeding on the highway with everyone else, you figure the police will only pull over the first person leading the group of cars!

Let's take a look at each one of these...

1. The Denial -- by denying what is or is not sin, we feel we can justify ourselves before God. We figure that we can continue to live in sin and when it is all said and done, all we have to do when we die is just tell God that we didn't know it was a sin. Wrong! God searches the heart and we have within us a moral code that tells us right from wrong. Your conscience bears witness to this. Where does God's Law come from? God! Matthew 10:33 says, "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven."

2. The Cover-up -- When Adam and Eve sinned they hid from God (which is impossible to do!). And yet, how many times have we tried to cover-up our sins. We can cover our tracks with one lie on top of another lie (it will eventually catch up to you!) Genesis 3:6-13 says, "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make on wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." When we try the cover up game, we end up putting blame on other people. "I didn't follow you Jesus because no one told me too!" or "I used to say I was a sinner but since Jesus died, I thought my sins were forgotten so I kept doing them and figured you would not see them!"

3. The Delete Button -- how often have you tried to delete the past, only to have it come up again later on? It can be hard to forgive people who have wronged us but we are so lucky to have a God that forgives us completely when we repent of our sins! Without repentance, your sins have not been deleted and will come up again on Judgment Day! 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
The catalog of sins, though not exhaustive, represents the major types of moral sin that characterize the unsaved.
not inherit the kingdom -- The kingdom is the spiritual sphere of salvation where God rules as king over all who belong to Him by faith. All believers are in that spiritual kingdom, yet are waiting to enter into the full inheritance of it in the age to come. People who are characterized by these iniquities are not saved (v. 10) While believers can and do commit these sins, they do not characterize them as an unbroken life pattern. Whey they do, it demonstrates that the person is not in God's kingdom. True believers who do sin, resent that sin and seek to gain the victory over it (Romans 7:14-25).
fornicators -- all who indulge in sexual immorality, but particularly unmarried persons.
idolaters -- Those who worship any false god or follow any false religious system.
Adulterers -- Married persons who indulge in sexual acts outside their marriage (including lust)
homosexuals...sodomites -- These terms refer to those who exchange and corrupt normal male-female sexual roles and relations. Transvestism, sex changes, and other gender perversions are included (Gen 1:27; Deut 22:5). Sodomites are so-called because the sin of male-male sex dominated the city of Sodom (Gen 18:20; 19:4-5). This sinful perversion is condemned always, in any form, by Scripture (Lev 18:22, 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Tim 1:10)
thieves...covetous -- Both are guilty of the same basic sin of greed. Those who are covetous desire what belongs to others, thieves actually take it.
revilers -- People who try to destroy others with words.
extortioners -- Swindlers and embezzlers who steal indirectly, taking unfair advantage of others for their own financial gain.
Some of you -- Though not all Christians have been guilty of all those particular sins, every Christian is equally an ex-sinner, since Christ came to save sinners (Matt 9:13; Romans 5:20). Some who used to have those patterns of sinful life were falling into those old sins again, and needed reminding that if they went all the way back to live as they used to, they were not going to inherit eternal salvation, because it would indicate that they never were saved (2 Cor 5:17)
washed -- refers to new life, through spiritual cleansing and regeneration (John 3:3-8; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:10; Titus 3:5).
sanctified -- This results in new behavior, which a transformed life always produces. Sin's total domination is broken and replaced by a new pattern of obedience and holiness. Though not perfection, this is a new direction (Rom 6:17, 18, 22)
justified -- this refers to a new standing before God, in which the Christian is clothed in Christ's righteousness. In His death, the believer's sins were put to His account and He suffered for them, so that His righteousness might be put to an account, so that we might be blessed for it (Rom 3:26; 4:22-25; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:8-9; 1 Pet 3:18)
by the Spirit --The Holy Spirit is the agent of salvation's transformation (John 3:3-5)

As one who is washed, sanctified, and justified eternally by God's grace, the believer is set free (Rom 8:21, 33; Gal 5:1, 13). The Corinthians had done with that freedom just what Paul had warned the Galatians not to do: "Do not use your liberty as an opportunity for the flesh" (Gal 5:13). So in verses, 6:12-20, Paul exposed the error in the Corinthian Christians' rationalization that they were free to sin, because it was covered by God's grace.

4. The "my other church members do it" club -- you figure that the person sitting next to you in church is a wretched sinner so you feel justified in continuing in your sins. The problem is you will not be judged according to how you "measure up" to the other person, but you will be judged according to God's holiness. Look at what Rev 19:2 says, "For true and righteous are His judgments..." Saints long for the day of judgment (Rev 6:10; 16:7; Isaiah 9:7; Jer 23:5). Godly people love righteousness and hate sin, for righteousness honors God and sin mocks Him. Believers long for a world of justice and it will come (Rev19:15; Rev 2:27; Rev 12:5)

So, what have you done with your sins? By Scripture, there is only ONE thing to do with them...

Some people are offended by this message of repentance. I pray that God's Truth will become evident to them and that the blindness to sin will be removed!

Wow, I did leave a big gap on here Jessie!! Glad to see you all made it down this far! Some people try to cover up there sins by the illusion that the sin is gone forever, only to see it still lingering in their minds to show up again at a later time!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New blog up and running

First off, I want to let you know the most recent Bible Study has been posted over at:

Plus, here is a new website I have added on my sidebar. Take a look at it and contribute any questions you have dealing with the Bible and Christianity! click on Christian Questions

Difference between judging and correction

The Confusion Between Judging and (Bold Rebuking, Warning or Correction.)

Some people say all judgment is wrong by singling out the verse "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1). It is true that there are certain forms of judgment that we are not meant to make. The above verse is referring to one of these forms. However, there are instances where the Bible says that we need to judge. We need to read other verses and not only the one above.

Correction is not judgment, as the Bible says that we should correct, rebuke and be bold to those who are sinning. It is to be done in an act of caring for them in the hope that they will believe. That way we could contribute to the saving of a soul. If we don't, we could be responsible for suppressing the truth which could mean eternal death instead of eternal life for that person. "James 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."

Where the Bible says do not judge, it could therefore mean judging whether someone is born again or not born again. This is because in doubtful cases only God can be the judge of this. The form of judgment that this verse says not to do could also be referring to a form of judgment that a person makes when they despise a sinner, while at the same time believing that they are worthy themselves. We should only correct in a humble way as an act of love. The Bible indicates to boldly correct people in an effort to bring them to repentance. We could say that someone may be eternally separated from God to spur them to repentance. But to say that someone is definitely saved or that they will be eternally separated from God would be wrong. For only God knows who is saved and who is not.

"Romans 10:6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7: Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)" There is no judgment yet. God performs the judgment at the end of the age.
We should not judge doubtful things or things by appearance but we are still meant to make righteous judgment on things that are clear in the Bible if we don't willfully do them. "John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Romans 14: 1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 1 Corinthians 6: 1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?"

Jesus and the Apostles were very bold and rebuked and condemned evil. They even openly rebuked people in the church for doing evil, in order to strengthen the church. There were examples when even physical force was used to correct them. In Nehemiah 13:25, Nehemiah cursed, struck and pulled out the hair of the Jews who rebelled by having pagan wives. There were other incidences where he forced people to stop lending money at interest, (Nehemiah 5:10-13) and threatened people for breaking the Sabbath (Nehemiah 13:19-21). Nehemiah forced people to do the right thing. Jesus Also overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13).

Rebuking a sinner, exposing corruption, correcting someone in love or disciplining ones children is not judging wrongfully. If so, Jesus and the Apostles who were our example to follow would have been in error. I believe that the Devil is lying to people to convince them that Biblical correction is judging. Therefore, many believe that it is fine to go on sinning and not obey God by warning others. This is the opposite of the example set by the Apostles. People are more likely to take note and remember strong stirring words. Strong words cause people to repent and not remain lukewarm. Bold ministry can turn people off but they would probably turn away anyway and be considered by God to be lukewarm. Therefore, they probably would have been rejected by God anyway. In the Bible people mostly either turned well away or became committed believers.

"1 Timothy 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
2 Timothy 4:2 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
Titus 1:13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee."

If we don't warn someone in error to turn from evil, we are partly responsible. "Ezekiel 33:8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand."

Acts 7:51 "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.; 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers;

Acts 8:20 Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money; 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness,

Luke 24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

Luke 12:20 Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee;

Mark 10:21 sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor;

Luke 3:11 He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none;

Luke 3:14 be content with your wages;

Matt 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?;

Matt 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?;

Matt 21:13 Thou hypocrite, ye have made it a den of thieves;

John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.;

Acts 4:10 Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified.

We need to be bold like the Apostles. If we are going to model Jesus Christ we must boldly take a stand. We must take a stand boldly and yet lovingly. We do it because we do not want to see anyone go to hell. You are doing no one a favor if all you do is tell people, "I am so sorry for you that someone told you that you needed to repent of your sins." We need to stop being wimpy Christians and start proclaiming the Bible with authority.

It is man's way that says no to repentance.
It is God's Way of repentance that leads to life eternal.

Instead of crying about being corrected and claiming judgment has come upon you, take a look at what the Word of God says about sin. Take a look at where sinners will go if they don't repent (Hell). IF someone cares enough about you that they do not want to see you end up there, then praise God for a loving neighbor.

It was Job's friends who kept getting in the way. Their bad advice was not at all godly.