Friday, July 29, 2016

Self-Righteous

                         Self-Righteous
                                           
                                          Luke 18:9-14
"And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. . ."

Pharisees were one of the most respected people in society. Everyone thought the Pharisees were very righteous men. They were typically self-righteous and legalistic, flaunting their own "good works" before others to make themselves appear superior. Jesus referred to them many times as hypocrites.

In Luke 18:9-14, the Pharisee made the wrong conclusion in his comparison between himself and the tax collector. The Pharisee was unaware of his own sins, but very aware of others’ sins. This is very characteristic of a self-righteous person. The Pharisee was depending on his works and feeling that they gained him favor with God. He made himself righteous in the sight of men, but God knew his heart.
   
Righteousness is not the result of self-righteous activities one might perform or the result of the things you don’t do. If you have that attitude it is legalism. The publican was probably the least respected member of society. He was a Jew who worked for Rome collecting taxes. He was viewed as a traitor. This man was afraid to approach God, standing at a distance, knowing that he was unworthy to come before God. He was unwilling to lift his eyes which showed his humility while beating his breast–––the outward sign of an inward pain in ones’ soul.

The parable concludes with these final words: “for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” We cannot fail to learn from the publican’s confession and personal sense of sin. Here is a sinner’s cry for mercy and His great mercy is shown–––for only Jesus can save sinners.  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us . . .” (Titus 3:5).

Lord, thank You for Your immense mercy upon a sinner like me.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Gift of Memory

                   The Gift of Memory

                                  Lamentations 3:21
              This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

Our memory can sometimes be servants to hopelessness and despair. When we are faced with circumstances beyond our control, our mind can think up dark and despairing predicaments from   past situations. It can be like a dark cloud hanging over us raining down unwanted thoughts. When this happens we are at times unable to, “cast down imaginations...bringing every thought into captivity” ( 2 Corinthians 10:5) KJV.

The same memory that brought Jeremiah to despair brought him life and comfort again when he, remembered where he found true hope. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; for they are new every day. There is no need for one to live in a state of despair, for truth can transform bad memories into His divine comfort. The memory that may have brought so many dismal and gloomy things into a believer’s life can be trained to carry a wealth of hopeful thoughts and replace them with joy and peace.

Consider where we would be without Christ and how dreary our lives would be without His mercies that fail not. Jeremiah reminds us that there are mercies that continue, “they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23), to delight the soul day after day. When our mind is fixed on the gospel of Christ and not on the memories stained with sin, we can with great assurance stand before Him with no condemnation, having absolute peace with God.

The gift of memory can keep our hearts from complaining when the circumstances of life are not at all comfortable. When we’ve lost much but we haven’t lost our God, remember, that is when He becomes our all in all. Our sufficiency is from God in knowing He is enough and His gift of memory gives hope to sustain us through every remembrance good or bad.

Lord, may I remember that You are my hope, my expectation in troublesome times, as well as in the best of times.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Our Highest Focus

                 Our Highest Focus

                                 Ecclesiastes 12:13
 ". . . Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. "

Is there true satisfaction in the things of this world? Are some of man’s greatest and most notable achievements only efforts ending in emptiness and pride? It has been incredible what man has accomplished, yet God is rarely given the acknowledgment due His name. The theme and purpose of the book of Ecclesiastes is revealed through the reflections and experiences of just one man, King Solomon. He was the wisest man that ever lived and declared he had seen everything “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).  In his conclusion to the whole matter, Solomon, determined that man’s existence was filled with futility and hopelessness. All that he had sought after in his pursuit of the real meaning of human life was meaningless.

The apostle Paul wrote about all he had accomplished religiously before he was confronted by Christ on the road to Damascus (Philippians 3:4-6). His conclusion, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Paul’s greatest desire was to: “...know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to His death;” (Philippians 3:10). 

Our purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy fellowship with Him. Because of man's fall into sin, fellowship with God has been broken and man struggles to find peace and joy. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can purpose in life be discovered. To exalt God is to fear and obey Him, while keeping our hearts fixed on our future home, heaven. His purpose for our lives enables us to experience true and lasting joy–––the abundant life He desires for every believer. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Lord, may my greatest achievement  in life be to trust You and love You with all my heart.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Seeking Sinners

                      Seeking Sinners

                                         Luke 15:1-7
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners, and eats with them." And he spake this parable unto them, saying, . . .

Tax collectors of Jesus day were hated and despised by the Jews, mainly because they were usually fellow Jews working for Rome. Jesus was seen eating with “publicans,” another name for tax collectors or tax gatherers which the Pharisees and scribes complained about. Tax collectors were always under the suspicion of being extortioners (the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats) and they probably were guilty in most instances.

When Jesus was seen having dinner at a tax collector’s house named Matthew, along with other sinners, the Pharisees questioned Jesus’ choice of companions. Jesus’ response: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. . . . I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13). Jesus did not come to save the “good,” self-righteous people, but  He came to those who knew they were not good and who freely admitted they needed salvation. Matthew was one of those whom Jesus saved. When the Lord called Him, he left his tax collecting position and followed Christ immediately (Matthew 9:9).

Because the Pharisees were grumbling against Him, Jesus told them a parable about a lost sheep which illustrated the joy God has in one repentant sinner. He began the parable with a loving shepherd seeking out one lost sheep. It was the shepherd’s job to care for the sheep and make sure that none were lost, hurt, or killed. Jesus said, “there would be more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Though there was murmuring on earth over Jesus spending time with “sinners,” in heaven, there was great jubilation among the angels and pleasure with God over one sinner that repents.

Lord, thank You for seeking out sinners and saving me.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Without Complainng

                Without Complaining

                                Philippians 2:14-16
           Do all things without murmuring or disputing, . . .

To do all things without grumbling or arguing is a command given by God, but rarely obeyed by most Christians. How often have you found yourself complaining against His gracious provisions? The word murmuring used in the King James Version of the Bible is an expression of thanklessness and disobedience to God. It is that low muffled tone of voice directed towards God or others in a negative light. Usually this is because something has happened that is irritating or disagreeable and we are not pleased by this disruption in our lives.

Paul is not all together talking about the Philippians’ murmuring against God Himself, but quarreling with one another within the church. When quarreling begins in the church, the world’s view of the church and of Christ begins to wane. Christians are to bring the light of the Gospel to those who are lost and in bondage to sin, not their complaints.

We live in a society that is unhappy and loves to whine about what they don’t have when they have so much. We are breeding a generation that is discontented because the more they have the more they want. People who criticize continually have a devastating effect on the church and their grumbling is contagious bringing anxiety and disapproval with it. Be careful about complaining, for as Christians, we are to live consistently with who we are. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1) free from complaining to be all that God wants us to be.  As God does His work in us, our part is not to murmur, complain or grumble against His working. God wants us to shine as a lamp in the night (Luke 8:16) so that we may have an extraordinary effect on the lost. The strength of the Christian life is in the truth of the Gospel on which we stand, our faith, from which we share our personal testimony of the salvation of Christ.

Lord, may I obey Your command and not complain.