A woman came to the house where Jesus was. She was weeping and her tears wet Jesus’ feet. She dried the Lord’s feet with her hair and then poured perfume from an alabaster jar over his feet. The Pharisee, whose house it was, was shocked … “Does He not know what kind of woman this is?”
She was a prostitute. The jar of perfume was the telltale sign. Of course Jesus knew that – he did not object to her tears or the caresses of her hair. It seems that He loved the fact that she poured out her perfume on His feet, certainly He appreciated it. And He heard the disgusted whisper of Simon …
Jesus speaks, “Simon, I have something to tell you … two people owed money to the same person. One owed two years salary, the other only two months salary. Neither of them could repay their debt, so the money lender forgave them both. Which one appreciated it more?”
“No doubt, Lord, the one who owed more.”
“Simon, this woman has lost everything … she has turned to prostitution so that she could live. She could never hope to buy her freedom, but she has given everything she has left to Me. You have much but you gave Me nothing. So while both of you are forgiven, she has appreciated it more.”
And Jesus says to you and I … “I have something to tell you … I love you with an everlasting love, I have bought your freedom with my love; I hope that you value it.”
Do you have something to tell Jesus?
October 6, 2014
Luke 6 is Luke’s Sermon on the Plain which is a parallel of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus gives some basic but exceptionally radical instructions to His disciples – Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you, turn the other cheek, give your tunic to the one who takes your cloak, lend without expecting repayment, be merciful, do not judge, do not condemn. This is so different to the world’s way that it is not surprising that very little has really come of it. And yet, it is the way of victory through non-retaliatory action. You stop your enemy in his tracks when you don’t fight back. Love and Mercy win every time. It is the way of the Cross. And like the Cross, you have to follow through right to the end to see the ultimate victory. That’s the hard part. Most of us give up loving our enemies, or showing mercy, before the victory is won. We simply revert to our old ways and lose everything we might have won, perhaps more.
Jesus goes to to speak of the student needing to be like his teacher. He was presenting Himself as the model – the teacher. Don’t look to others i.e. don’t bother about the sawdust in your brother’s eye. Look to Jesus – He is the Tree who bears good fruit. He sets us the example for us. The Way of Jesus is not easy … its about taking up your cross, its about dying to your own selfish desires and ambition. That’s tough. How many of us want to “do it my way”?
Our Lord then presents the well known parable about the two men who each build a house. One builds on the rock and the other on the sand. The one on the rock stays steady when the flood comes. The one on the sand is completely destroyed by the torrent. You might have heard this parable several times in your life – even now the Sunday School song rings in my head; but the question is this .. Is Jesus really your model, your teacher? Are you radical enough to be a follower of Christ?
I look to myself and see a man who fails often – most of the time, in fact. In my heart, I want Jesus to be the foundation, the Rock of my life. But I wage this constant war in myself … I am selfish, I do get angry when things don’t go my way, I judge people all the time. Mercy is not my default.
But Jesus IS my Rock! And I will persevere because He is my Teacher, and in time I will be fully trained. I will call Him Lord and I will constantly seek to do what He says.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
The Exodus passage for today (Exodus 13:17-14:4) is so filled with God’s intervention that I dare not comment on it. But perhaps we need also to reflect on the lord’s continuous intervention in our lives. Before you read on, stop a moment and think: “where have you seen God acting in your journey to direct, or redirect your path?”
Now lets go on … The text tells us that ‘When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.‘ Sounds pretty much like the Lord, doesn’t it? He takes then the long way round so that they can avoid any adversaries. Otherwise they might just decide to go backwards instead of forward. Has that happened to you? Perhaps you never even noticed … God took you on a journey and you never even saw the problems because He never wanted you to see them.
The next verse is interesting. God didn’t want them to face war (adversaries) despite the fact that were were ready for it (armed for battle) ‘The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”’ So perhaps their readiness for battle had to do with something else – perhaps it was Joseph’s bones, perhaps it was some comfort to hold on to the prophecy of hope. Joseph had ended up in Egypt because of conflict with his brothers – but even that was part of God’s plan. Famine was coming, God was making plans to save His people. But it took 400 years for the aid which Joseph had prophesied to eventuate. Enslavement, bondage, oppression were to come first. But Joseph had been part of God’s plan of salvation from famine and he had spoken of yet another salvation (God will surely come to your aid) and they were to carry his bones to freedom. They were armed for battle – no-one was going to stop this liberation march.
And God was with them … ‘After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.’ A pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night – this was no sneaking out of Egypt! All the glory of God with with them – not only could they see God guiding them, but so could everyone else!!! Even Pharoah.
And God wanted the oppressor to see them! He even took them backwards so that Pharoah would have no doubt about where they were – in the day he could look out across the desert and he would see the cloud. And even in the dark, God brightened up the landscape so that Pharoah could see exactly where they were. ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.”’ God was proving a point in this story – He was showing both Pharoah and the Israelites who was really in charge of this mission. It might seem like confusion but this was for the glory of God and no-one else. We can take heart from this. Whenever we have set ourselves under the guidance of God, we can trust His direction. It might not always be as we expected but it will always be right – the journey might be longer than we would have preferred and even more public than we would have liked, but when God’s hand is in it, it is good!
So the Israelites did this. Will you also trust the Lord like this?
I’ve been on holiday and getting ready for the year – sorry about lack of updates.
My thoughts over the past several weeks have dwelt on life, its purpose, God and His intentions. Sometimes we get it just so wrong. Our focus is on the moment, on personal satisfaction and everyone else’s stupidity.
Travelling through the wonder of Western Australia’s South we marvelled at stunning beaches, amazing forests (God plants forests, men plant plantations), ancient rock formations and deep underground caves. We walked the treetops, climbed giant trees and stood dumbfounded at lighthouses which guarded against the danger of the seas. We met new people, ate new food and slept in beds freshly made up by unseen strangers. It was good because it made me think about God.
This afternoon, my daily lectionary readings arrived on my computer – I still don’t really understand how this all happens but perhaps sometimes its just good to let God do His thing through unsuspecting people. His fingerprint is everywhere. My text today was the delightful words from John 6 … here let me give them to you:
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ So they said to him, ‘What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” ’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which* comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’
Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’
This morning I was reading an admonition from Eugene Peterson – He said, “The Word didn’t become a good idea; He became flesh!” Yes, yes, yes. He is the bread of life. Do not work for food that perishes, but for that which comes from the Son of Man. Whoever comes to Him will not hunger, whoever believes in Him will not thirst. We sustain our lives, give our life meaning and purpose, not by eating and drinking, but by coming to and believing in Jesus.
Let me explain, I was with an elderly lady this morning who has been told that she has less than a month to live. She told me that she believed in God but not in the church – fair comment, I guess, but she has missed so much, and I think she realises it now. We spoke about her death and about the funeral (the reason for requesting my visit) but I also spoke about Jesus and the life that He intended. When I prayed she wept, first tears of regret, then tears of joy. Regret that she had waited so long to stop and think about God – she hadn’t prayed in over 60 years; and joy, as the Father restored all those years back to her and readied her for her homecoming. She came to Jesus, she believed in Him and she will never be hungry or thirsty ever again. Of course it may happen physically, as the cancer and the treatment kicks in, but her life now has purpose, meaning and potential – even if it lasts only one more month. In that way, she has been more than satisfied by Jesus.
Evening Devotion December 9th Psalm 32:1-7
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Confession has become a forgotten word, a forgotten work. But there is power in confessing our sins and failures. Naming them helps us to conquer them. Like the Alcoholics Anonymous confession, “Hi, my name is …. I am an alcoholic”.
When I speak to people about confessing their sins, nearly everyone professes it as part of their life – but I wonder. I know a man who does confess his sins every day, each morning and each evening. He names them before God, he weeps at his failures and he cries out for strength to overcome. And this is the most Godly man that I know – and the strongest. Twice he has asked me to be his Confessor – I have never been more embarrassed, more broken and more uplifted than those two times. To hear a really strong, confident man speak of his failure is quite a thing. But, it makes him strong, because he finds his strength in the Lord, not in his own quasi-perfection. He may well be an exception but I don’t see that kind of regularly renewed strength in others who profess to confess.
BLESSED is the one who is forgiven – He who keeps silent wastes away. BLESSED is the one who acknowledges his sin – He will be kept safe from trouble and will be surrounded by songs of deliverance.
Take a moment now to bow your head before the Lord. Open your heart, your deepest place – acknowledge where you have failed, ask for forgiveness and seek God’s strength to be stong.
Morning Devotion November 25, 2009 Obadiah
Obadiah was a prophet in Israel around the time of Jeremiah and the Babylonian Captivity. His message is against Edom – a long time enemy of Israel from the time when they refused to allow Israel passage through their territory on the way to the Promised Land during the Exodus (see Number 20). This denial and the ongoing hostility against Israel was made even more reprehensible by the fact that the people of Edom (descendants of Esau) and the people of Israel (Jacob) were related.
This morning I want to focus on just one small part of this very short book – verses 15-17.
“The day of the Lord is near
for all nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you;
your deeds will return upon your own head.
16 Just as you drank on my holy hill,
so all the nations will drink continually;
they will drink and drink
and be as if they had never been.
17 But on Mount Zion will be deliverance;
it will be holy,
and the house of Jacob
will possess its inheritance.”
Just as this prophecy was directed at Edom, so it is directed at us also. In our own relationships with each other we are often hostile and uncaring. We delight at a rival’s failure. We forget that Jesus said not only “Love your neighbour”, He also said, “Love your enemy.” As Christ Followers we need to remember that we too are sinners (once fallen, now forgiven) and that our followership in Christ expects us to walk in His steps. He loved the sinners but hated the self-righteous (we often do it the other way round!)
The day of the Lord is near for ALL nations, and as you have done, so will it be done to you. We are being called to a new life (call it revival, if you like) where the deliverance on Mount Zion (see it as the Cross at Calvary) calls us to holiness and to take hold of our inheritance. We need to drink and drink the life giving water on God’s holy hill and be as if we had never been – made new, restored, forgiven and given a whole new life.
Morning Devotions November 24, 2009 1 Peter 1:13-25
“Therefore” the text begins … a preacher once said that whenever you see the word “therefore” you should ask what it is “there” “for”.
Peter calls us to prepare our minds for action (minds? For action?), to be self-controlled and to set our hope fully on the grace to be given when Jesus is revealed. Wow, that’s a mouthful. Let’s dissect it …
First, what is it “there” “for”. Going back in the chapter we see references to new birth, living hope, an inheritance which can never perish, spoil or fade. We are also warned about trials which will come to temper our faith, and we are told about the prophets who spoke of the grace that was to come who, even though they did not actually see it, were able to rejoice that it was to come anyway.
Because of all that … therefore … we must prepare our minds for action. We must get our minds right and our thinking on track. We are not dealing with passing things nor forlorn hopes. This is Real! Get your thinking right and plan what you are going to do about your new birth, the living hope, the eternal inheritance. Be ready to face trials and psych yourself up to endure through them by faith. Hold fast to that which you do not see because it is real.
And then … be self-controlled. Control your selfish desires and the things that drive you in every direction but to the life of faith and hope. In Galatians, Paul writes about the Fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience etc … the last of these is self-control. A friend once said to me that all of these other things are the fruit but it is the self-control which is the root which allows it all to grow. Unless you have “self” under control you will not bear the fruit. Oh yes, you can stick plastic apples and peaches on the tree but they are not real. Real fruit only grows on the Tree of the Spirit when the root of self is under control.
And finally, set your hope fully on the grace to be given when Jesus comes. Does this refer to the Second Advent, or the First (which we are now celebrating? Why not both? God is outside of time, He is not limited by time. The Kingdom has already come but it is not yet in its fullness. The grace is revealed in Incarnation and at the Cross and it will be fully revealed at the Parousia. Set you hope on what you have now and look forward to even more.
There is so much more in this reading but I will leave you now to ponder the rest of Peter’s words on your own. Dwell on them and see what he is saying to YOU!