Posts Tagged ‘sin’

Luke 15

Luke 15 has Jesus teaching in parables.  The Pharisees and scribes are upset because “the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him”.  They didn’t think Jesus should hang out with that kind of crowd.  So Jesus tells them a parable about the man with a hundred sheep, and the woman who lost one coin.  The lesson from both was that God rejoices over each one.  In the parable of the sheep, He says “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”.  God is in the business of saving us.

Jesus goes on to tell one of the most famous parables in all of scripture – the story of the Prodigal Son.  A young son comes to his father and asks for his share of the inheritance.  “Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me”.  Legacy is about far more than what we do with our stuff, but in this story, the young man is focused on getting what he believes belongs to him.  In those days a father could either grant the inheritance before or after his death, but it was usually done after he passed away. But in this case, the younger son asked for a special exception, motivated by foolishness and greed.  He wants to take what is his and live wildly so “he squandered his property in reckless living”.

His father knew that this was going to happen.  This son wanted his independence, but he wasn’t ready to be alone and on his own.  Yet the father allowed it to happen.  Sometimes it is only through experiencing the school of hard knocks that we learn things.  After a fairly short time, the money was gone and this kid was feeding pigs.  “When he  came to himself, he said….my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger”.  It’s not going well for him. This isn’t the dream life that he had in mind.

So he decides to go back home and tell his father “I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants”.  He knew that being with his father would be better than anyplace he could be on his own.  His father had never given up hope that he would come to his senses.  He was always watching and “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him”.  He didn’t wait for him to arrive – he ran to greet him.  He didn’t scold him for his foolishness – the father welcomed him with open arms.

It becomes a major celebration as “the father said to his servants, Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate….my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found”.  God rejoices when we come back to Him from our life of sin.  He is waiting and watching, not only ready to welcome us back, but ready to throw a party about our return.  God is in the restoration business – He wants to restore us into relationship with Him.  We leave through our sin.  We return through our repentance.  He is there ready to welcome us home!

Luke 7

Luke 7 begins with the story of the centurion who had a valued servant that was near death.  He heard about Jesus and sent a few of his men to seek Jesus’ time to come to his house and heal his servant.  As Jesus walked toward the house, the centurion sent others who brought this message: “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed”.  The centurion understood the power of God through Christ.  He didn’t feel worthy to have Jesus in his presence, so he sends messengers to let Jesus know there was  no need to come physically as he knew Jesus could heal from where He was.

That really says a lot about the centurion and his faith.  Jesus power wasn’t based on where He was, but rather who He was.  The centurion demonstrates the kind of faith we need to have to truly experience Christ’s power in our life as a Christ Follower.  The messengers return back to the centurions house and “when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well”.  The centurion had been right.  It wasn’t where Jesus was that mattered.  It was faith in the power Jesus possessed that set that power free.

A couple of John the Baptist’s disciples were sent by John to check out Jesus and see if He was indeed the Messiah.  They find Him doing miracles among the people and just ask if He is the Christ.  Jesus tells them “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them”.  Basically Jesus sends them off saying ‘the proof is in the pudding’.  See what I’ve done and tell John that indeed he has found the Savior of the world.  They return with that message and John’s ministry takes a new direction.

The chapter ends with Jesus going to a Pharisees house to eat.  While He is at the table, a woman of ill repute comes and cleans His feet with her tears and anoints his feet with precious ointment.  The host wants to be sure Jesus knows ‘who is touching Him’.  “He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment”.  This woman has not ceased to serve Jesus since she arrived and found Him.

Of course, it is outside the acceptable for the religious leaders.  But Jesus goes further than to just graciously receive the woman’s love and affection.  He says “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little”.  Jesus sees the heart.  He responded to her humility and inner desire to be set free, and Jesus grants her forgiveness.  She didn’t come asking for any more than to be set free from the burden of sin.  That’s what Jesus can do for you and me, if we’ll only confess and repent and seek God’s grace through Him.

Luke 1

Luke 1 has the writer telling us why he is putting pen to paper.  It was to “to write an orderly account for you….that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught”.  Luke was the detailed writer of the four gospel writers – with a lot of attention to order and detail.  He begins the story he will tell with Zechariah and Elizabeth.  They were “both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord”.  A priest and his barren wife, both old in age, but committed to walking with God and obeying His commandments.

Zechariah is in the temple leading some prayer and worship when the angel Gabriel comes to him. He is told that his wife will bear a son and “he will be  great before the Lord….he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb….to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared”.  This child will become a messenger for the coming Messiah.  Zechariah has a bit of a problem believing what he has just heard, so the angel says “you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words”.  Faith requires that we believe what we can’t see.  Zechariah struggles and is mute until John is born.

That in itself was a miracle, but it was only the precursor of what God was going to do. An angel comes to Mary saying “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be”.  A little more struggling with faith.  The angel continues and says “you have found favor with God”.  That had to be quite overwhelming.  But the angel goes on.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called  holy— the Son of God”.  Wow – what a message.  She questions a bit but is told this reality: “nothing will be impossible with God”.  And after that, Mary believes it and changes her attitude saying “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word”.  All in, ready to do God’s plan.

It was like she flipped a switch. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant”.  She knows she isn’t worthy, but she is willing and God uses those who are willing to do His will.  John is born to Elizabeth and Zechariah and his tongue is loosed and his speech restored.  We learn that John would “go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God”.  God truly loves us all, and had a plan to provide a way for us to be set free from the penalty of our sin.  John is the messenger to prepare the way for the Lord.  “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel”.

Mark 16

Mark 16 picks up with Jesus in the tomb, or is He?  “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him”.  Some of the women who had followed Him to the Cross and watched Him die, come early the day after Sabbath Day to put spices around the body.  They did recognize a potential problem – the big rock Joseph had put in front of the tomb.  “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb”?  They knew it was much bigger than they could move on their own.

They arrive and find that the stone had been rolled back so they enter the tomb and “they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed”. Talk about a shock.  You just don’t expect someone to be sitting there in a dead man’s tomb.  But this isn’t just any dead person.  This was Jesus.  The stranger told them to “See the place where they laid him”.  He obviously was gone, but they needed to see it for themselves.  And then they were sent to “go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee”.  It’s exactly what Jesus had told the disciples himself, but now that He was alive it was time to tell them again.

So “they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”.  They didn’t do a great job telling the disciples, but Mary Magdalene did tell a couple of them.  Jesus begins to show Himself to the twelve, but they couldn’t believe their eyes or ears.  So “he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen”.  Faith isn’t about what makes sense or seems reasonable.  Faith if believing things unseen.  It’s the foundation of Christianity.

Jesus commissions them to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”.  That’s what each of us as Christ Followers are to do.  The message is powerful and needed.  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.  We have the cure to the biggest problem the world has ever seen – sin.  That cure is God’s grace provided through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross.  And He Himself commanded us to go and tell the world – all the world – of that free gift of grace. It’s why He came to this earth.  And once He had commissioned the disciples, He was ready to return to the Father.  “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them,  was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God”.

Thoughts From Others – My Sermon Notes from Sunday – Church on Fire – Acts 20:17-38

Mark 2

Mark 2 has Jesus in a packed house preaching and teaching.  It was jam packed and so full no one else could enter.  Four guys had carried their paralyzed friend to the house hoping to get Jesus to heal him, but they couldn’t even get close.  “And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd”.  We’re talking epic failure here.  They carry their friend to Jesus only to find out they can’t get near Him because of the crowds.  It had to be a huge letdown.

But they don’t give up.  They are determined to find a way and “they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay”.  That’s determination.  They were not going to be stopped from getting their friend to Jesus.  Can you imagine the impact we could have on the world if we were as determined as they in getting those we know to Jesus.  Remember, He is busily preaching and teaching to a standing room only house full of people.  So what does Jesus do?  “Ad when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Son,  your sins are forgiven”.  He heals him.  Just like that he changes his life forever.  “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home”.  The persistence of his caring friends sets him free from his paralysis.

Jesus was later walking down the road “And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, Follow me”.  Remember that Jesus had already gathered four fishermen as disciples – Peter, Andrew, James and John.  And now the invites this tax collector to join them.  Matthew does exactly that, which certainly adds some diversity to the group.  He invites Jesus to come to his house for a meal and the scribes of the Pharisees, “when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners”?

They were beside themselves seeing Jesus mingle with people they felt were unworthy.  They complain that He’s keeping poor company and hanging with people unworthy of His time and attention.  But Jesus makes it clear why He came to earth.  “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”.  Jesus didn’t come to earth to spend His time with the religious and righteous.  He came to set sinners free and to have a relationship with them that would lead to salvation.  That’s what Jesus is all about.  He came to save the lost, and that means you and me!

Matthew 21

Matthew 21 has preparation going on for Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  His disciples are in the dark, but Jesus tells them to go secure a donkey He can ride.  “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, The Lord needs them, and he will send them at once”. Seems like a crazy plan, but they follow His direction and things go exactly as Jesus said.  The owners asked, they told them why they were taking their donkey, and off they go.  God at work to prepare the way.

Jesus fulfills prophecy by riding this donkey into town.  The people lined the streets and places branches on the road He was traveling.  And they cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest”!  The religious leaders were in the dark about Jesus coming to town.  But they quickly found out.  “Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons”.  Jesus stirs up the status quo.  People had sold items for sacrifice and made change for people for many years.  Corrupt and self-focused as it was, the religious leaders allowed it since it supported their traditions.  But Jesus gets to the heart of it and demonstrates God’s wrath regarding people who take advantage of others in the name of religion.

As Jesus walks with the Twelve He becomes hungry and comes upon a fig tree with no fruit.  He curses it and it immediately withers and the disciples are amazed.  Then Jesus gives (again) a truth about prayer we need to understand and cling to.  “If you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea, it will happen. And  whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith”.  Jesus gives us the secret to answered prayer – it has to be asked in faith.  Total, complete, with out doubt faith.  Prayer is limitless in its power when we ask it with faith.

The chapter ends with a showdown at the synagogue with the religious leaders.  They see Jesus infringing on their turf and undermining their power, so they want to get Him.  They attempt to trap Him with questions but He sees right through their efforts and turns the tables on them.  Then Jesus gives us the truth about God and His plan for mankind.  “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits”.  God is not impressed by title or power or status.  God will bless those who bear fruit – His fruit which is bringing people to Him and helping people grow in their walk with Him.  That’s what God wants from us – to make Him known and to walk in obedience to His Word.  Lightbulbs finally go on.  “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them”.  Now they will shift to a plot to get rid of Jesus.  Too much risk and competition to their way of life.  They have to get rid of Him.

Matthew 18

Matthew 18 is a chapter with a lot of important lessons, and promises.  Jesus begins with answering a deep question raised by His disciples. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”?  The answer they got was not what was expected.  Jesus tells them “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”.  He starts with the requirement to even enter heaven – to become like a child.  That means complete and full faith.  But Jesus adds some color to His answer:

  • humbles himself like this child is the  greatest in the kingdom of heaven
  • receives one such child in my name receives me
  • causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck
  • despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father”

Jesus is clear that it isn’t the biblical scholars who will be greatest in heaven.  It is those who truly put all their faith in Him.  Scripture points that out in Hebrews 11 with the faith hall of fame – it is those who put all their faith and trust in God that are called out as great.  But Jesus goes on to talk about the importance of a word our society doesn’t like to talk about today – sin.  “Woe to the world for temptations to sin”! Sin is a big deal in God’s eyes.  It isn’t some little mistake – sin is missing the mark – it is disobedience to a holy and righteous God.  And it comes with consequences. Jesus talks about those consequences this way:  “It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire”.

Sin matters to God. In fact, it is sin that will keep us from spending eternity with Him.  He can’t tolerate sin because of His nature of godliness, holiness and righteousness.  It will disqualify us from entering heaven.  Jesus came to this earth to address man’s greatest problem – the reality that every one of us is guilty of sin and will someday stand before a Holy and Righteous Judge who will have to deal with the sinful life we have all lived.  Standing before Him on our own, the outcome won’t go well.  We’ll be banished from heaven.  But if we’ve address the sin of our life – if we’ve received the gift of grace God provided through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross and confessed and repented as we believed and received – our sin will be covered and we’ll stand before Him as righteous and worthy.  That’s what is at stake here and what Jesus is talking about.  Sin is real – and it has eternal consequences.

Jesus addresses a key challenge we face in the church today – what do we do with sin?  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”.  Does sin matter?  Enough God tells us we have to deal with it and purge it from the church.  But the method here is critical and clear.  It doesn’t begin by telling your friends and neighbors about someone elses transgressions.  It has to begin one on one.  Then one to a couple.  And if after all those efforts, finally it comes to a broader group in the church.  Too often it gets done incorrectly and causes destruction and division.  Jesus gave us the formula to address sin.  Failing to do it this way is sin itself.

He gives us a promise about the power of prayer and His Spirit we need to claim and cling to.  “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask,  it will be done for them by my Father in heaven”.  What are the limitations to prayer?  There aren’t any.  There is power in community and the fellowship of believers.  We need to spend time together.  He goes on to say “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them”.  It doesn’t say He might show up.  God is where His people are.  We need to remember that and not only relish His presence, but act like He’s there with us!

He ends by answering a question Peter asks about forgiveness and how many times we should forgive someone.  Peter suggested maybe seven times was the limit.  But Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven”.  Forgiveness knows no limits.  That’s a good thing or we’d be in deep trouble before a Holy God.  But because of Jesus shed blood and the forgiveness of sin that He has provided, we’re forgiven as many times as it takes.  And we need to do the same to those in our patch. In fact, Jesus makes that clear. “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart”.  If we fail to forgive as God has forgiven us through Christ, we will have to answer to God for those choices.  If we know Jesus we’ve been forgiven, so we are required to do the same to those in our patch!

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