Tag Archives: Pharisees

Hypocrite! Hypocrite!

Jeremiah 40 to 43  In the NT, Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites meaning one who has the form of godliness without the power. But these religious leaders were not the first; Jeremiah meets them in our reading today. They came to Jeremiah feigning piety seeking God’s counsel about the next step.

Standing before him, they said: please pray to the Lord “your” God that He will tell us where we should go. We promise that whatever he says we will do. Ten days later Jeremiah emerges from his prayer closet with God’s counsel and it is resoundingly rejected. Those who were so pious showed their true heart when they said the Lord “our” God did not send you to tell us to stay here. How quickly they changed from ‘your’ God to ‘our’ God.

Setting piety aside they said, we are going to Egypt and guess what, you are going with us. How often are we like these people? We ask others to pray but when the answer comes we say no way did God say that. That is the height of hypocrisy!Jeremiah 40 43 hypocrisy2

God demands that we listen and obey. Proverbs 3 says ‘trust in the Lord’ with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. We say the first phrase but omit the second. God is not pleased.

 

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The Empty Manger

empty-manger2aRevelation 3&8 Part 6: “The Empty Manger”

The Alpha and Omega’s solemn pronouncement to the Church in Sardis. I hold the seven spirits of God and the seven stars and thus can see your vulnerability. Your walls appear strong and impenetrable but the enemy without sees with his binoculars that your watchman failed to stay alert. While retrieving his dropped helmet, he revealed your secret entrance and now the enemy has infiltrated your midst. Take a lesson from Habakkuk who stood at his watch without wavering.

To the outside world, your church appears alive but inside, I who searches the mind and heart see that you are like whitewashed tombs with dead men’s bones. Like the Pharisees of old, you are a hypocrite because you do not hunger and thirst for righteousness. Instead, you have a high opinion of yourself and are relying upon your works to earn your salvation.  In addition, I see your Christmas traditions with the nativity replica but the manger is empty. Where am I? Will you invite me to your Christmas celebration?

Oh Father, forgive us for relying on traditions, lights, and gifts which are temporal rather than on the Eternal Wonder of Your coming to earth as Emmanuel. Forgive us for being satisfied with the victories of the past and failing to see the fields are truly white for harvest. Come and fill our manger hearts with your presence.

Photo Credit: Udra11 http://tinyurl.com/z8l8jl8

Is Jesus Your Messiah?

john 9 once blind now see2John 9 is the greatest story ever told about what occurs when both physical and spiritual illumination happens in a person’s life.  The LIGHT came as a witness and a sign to the unbelieving; yet some continued, as they do today, to read the False Book of Assumptions; refusing to believe the evidence and thus stand before God condemned.  The glaring evidence of both physical and spiritual blindness is revealed that we might consider the words of Jesus to the Pharisees “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin, but now because you claim that you can see, your guilt remains.”

How do we react when God provides concrete evidence of a changed life and they stand “in our face?”  Do we honor God or are we like the three groups who witnessed the “miracle man” yet refused steadfastly to believe? All of the neighbors, the parents, and the religious leaders were witness to not just a physical change but a spiritual change as well–yet they refused to accept it from God. The neighbors scoffed and the parents were ensnared by fear. The religious leaders claimed to follow Moses but what about following God?  These are now without excuse because they wanted signs to authenticate Jesus. The “miracle man” stood as a work of God as prophesied in Ex 4:11 and Psalm 146:8. They stand guilty of unbelief.

How about you when you are confronted with the evidence? Can you say: “I once was blind but now I see?” This is God’s grace.

Storms as Life Lessons

psalm 37 self or god2Yesterday as we were helping a young couple pack and move, their 10 mth old was wrestling with himself on the floor. He wanted to sit up but no one was helping him. He just kept persevering and before he knew it there he was in a sitting position. It was a vivid illustration of how we often strive to achieve something and we seem to be alone in our struggle. God lets us struggle and when we find victory we are filed with joy just as this little was beaming from ear to ear. It is then that God reaches down with his still small voice and says “well done thou good and faithful servant.”

As I have been teaching each Saturday night I noted that the stories that have been chosen for me are all about wind, waves and storms. So as we compared Jonah, the disciples in Matt 8 and Matt 14 we noted how in each case the wind and waves sought to overturn the boats. Jonah’s storm was a storm of correction and his pride led him to this disastrous storm. But, even in we saw the truth that God will take what is bad and use it to accomplish His will and His purpose for good. One of the boys asked why the sailors believed Jonah’s God was the true God and the answer is that it was only when they saw the wind and waves cease that they knew and worshiped the God of Jonah.  How often are we like this. We say we have to see much like the Pharisees wanted a sign from heaven. The same thing happened with the disciples.  God sent them into a storm so that they might know and worship His Son. But, since they did not learn the lesson, Jesus sent them into a second pre-arranged perfect storm. It was only then that they fell upon their faces and worshiped.

Why is that we have to weather storms and sometimes even repeat them? The baby’s striving and Jonah’s struggle  is an illustration of how hard we try to do things on our own. Sometimes God lets us struggle in the storm and sometimes he comes to rescue us. It all depends on where we are in our faith walk. The disciples show us how dull we are to learn the lesson God wants us to learn and so he sends us through another perfect storm.

Oh that we might learn from our struggles and hear the words of praise from our Lord. Oh that we might learn the lesson in the first storm and fall upon our faces and worship him. Where are we? Are we in the perfect storm struggling like the disciples against the wind? Are we like the sailors who struggled so as to not dump Jonah overboard?

“From Slough of Despond to Walking with Jesus!”

ephesians 2 dead 2 lifeAUntil we come to grips who we were before we were touched by the Bread of Life through His pouring out of the Living Water upon our dead souls, we are incapable of understanding the power of the rejuvenating work of the Holy Spirit. The testimony of the blind man reveals the wonder given to a man born in blindness which is how we were. “I do know one thing – that although I was blind, now I can see.”[Jn 9] In addition we were a slave to our master the Devil, and as a lover of darkness we did his bidding. Jesus told the Pharisees; you do what your father desires, murdering and plotting murder. We were in this “slough of despond”[1] of the very things God hates! (see Prov 6:16-19)

It was into this Jesus came to rescue us pouring out upon us His unblemished blood to wash our scarlet sins to become white like wool that God Himself may get the praise and glory. Thus we who were dead in our sins and trespasses have been “saved through faith—not of works for they are as filthy rags in His sight. [Is 64] But, rather God lavished his gift upon us awakening us from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. And now as alive we are to perform what He predestined us to do: good works as a testimony to His work in us.

[1] Quote from Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan’

“The Worst of Men and the Best of God—”

ImageThe psalmist, (Ps 36)  after pondering and meditating upon what he saw and experienced, came to the conclusion that men truly are totally depraved and God is their only hope. As we read Mark 11 we see that truth in living color as Jesus enters Jerusalem and leaves in tears. What did he see and experience that would bring about his broken heart?

As Jesus walked about the temple courts he was joined by those to whom God had given the privileges of teaching his people the very sacred word of God. They were correct to question Jesus’ authority for to them it had been given the right to distinguish between false and true teachers and prophets. However, as Jesus said on more than one occasion: Joh 14:11 if you do not believe me, believe because of the miraculous deeds themselves, these are the proof of who I am. They had seen the mighty miracle of the blind man made whole and they scoffed, they had seen the paralytic pick up his bed and walk and were amazed yet over and over their hearts little by little hardened beyond repair. They understood his parable of the vineyard that spoke of their sin. Yet their unwillingness to accept him as the True Messiah prophesied in the very sacred writings they studied so eagerly pointed to their true heart. And so when they came and questioned they answered Jesus’ question with “We don’t know” about John’s baptism– for they feared the crowd more than God.

Men who fear men more than God fall into the trap that Solomon noted: “The fearof peoplebecomes a snare, but whoever trustsin the Lordwill be set on high.”[Prov 29] As Jesus noted their lack of reverence for truth his heart was broken and this is why our “Messiah would be firm and resolute amidst all contempt and scorn which he would meet; that he had made up his mind to endure it, and would not shrink from any kind or degree of suffering which would be necessary to accomplish the great work in which he was engaged.” [Easton]

Where are you today? Revering the Savior that died in your place for your sin Or are you trapped by your legalistic self-righteousness like the Pharisees? Remember this verse: “if we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” [1Jo 1:8] But on the flip side is this marvelous promise that awaits those who come to him in reverence and humility: He is able to keep you from falling, and to cause you to stand, rejoicing, without blemish before his glorious presence, [Jude]

 

“The Worst of Men and the Best of God—”

ImageThe psalmist, (Ps 36)  after pondering and meditating upon what he saw and experienced, came to the conclusion that men truly are totally depraved and God is their only hope. As we read Mark 11 we see that truth in living color as Jesus enters Jerusalem and leaves in tears. What did he see and experience that would bring about his broken heart?

As Jesus walked about the temple courts he was joined by those to whom God had given the privileges of teaching his people the very sacred word of God. They were correct to question Jesus’ authority for to them it had been given the right to distinguish between false and true teachers and prophets. However, as Jesus said on more than one occasion: Joh 14:11 if you do not believe me, believe because of the miraculous deeds themselves, these are the proof of who I am. They had seen the mighty miracle of the blind man made whole and they scoffed, they had seen the paralytic pick up his bed and walk and were amazed yet over and over their hearts little by little hardened beyond repair. They understood his parable of the vineyard that spoke of their sin. Yet their unwillingness to accept him as the True Messiah prophesied in the very sacred writings they studied so eagerly pointed to their true heart. And so when they came and questioned they answered Jesus’ question with “We don’t know” about John’s baptism– for they feared the crowd more than God.

Men who fear men more than God fall into the trap that Solomon noted: “The fearof peoplebecomes a snare, but whoever trustsin the Lordwill be set on high.”[Prov 29] As Jesus noted their lack of reverence for truth his heart was broken and this is why our “Messiah would be firm and resolute amidst all contempt and scorn which he would meet; that he had made up his mind to endure it, and would not shrink from any kind or degree of suffering which would be necessary to accomplish the great work in which he was engaged.” [Easton]

Where are you today? Revering the Savior that died in your place for your sin Or are you trapped by your legalistic self-righteousness like the Pharisees? Remember this verse: “if we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” [1Jo 1:8] But on the flip side is this marvelous promise that awaits those who come to him in reverence and humility: He is able to keep you from falling, and to cause you to stand, rejoicing, without blemish before his glorious presence, [Jude]

 

“What Are You Looking For?”

ImageJesus no sooner finished his miraculous feeding of the 4000 when appeared on the scene the Pharisees seeking a sign. Where had they been when this was all taking place? Surely had they been there that would have been sign enough or so we would think. However, since early times they and the Jews have been looking for signs and no matter how many God has given, they always seem to need just one more. This reminds us of John D. Rockefeller when at the height of his incredible wealth was asked how much money is enough and responded “one more dollar.” So when the Pharisees asked Jesus for yet another sign he asked: “Why does this generation look for a sign?” 1Co 1:22 For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom. Would they have believed him then as THE Messiah? Probably not and that is the way it is today with many who refuse to see and believe the evidence before them because: what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them in creation and still they refuse. Their spiritual insight is as the blind man we see next.

Someone brought Jesus a blind man for healing. Now this man had not seen THE Messiah nor had he seen the miracles that he had performed. He did not come to seek a sign nor did he come on his own seeking healing. Imagine being blind and then being restored to sight and seeing THE Messiah as your first image. How would you have responded? Would you want to see “more?” What more could there be than the very image of God Himself in living flesh? His physical sight and his spiritual sight were both restored to wholeness.

The Pharisees like many want to “see more” but the blind man was content to “see” and believe that the Messiah himself was standing before him. How often are we like the Pharisees and want God to provide just one more piece of evidence that Jesus is who he said he was? Listen to what Jesus said: I tell you the truth; no sign will be given to this generation. Perhaps that is why Jesus told the disciples to beware of the yeast or leaven of the Pharisees for they would never be satisfied to have just plain sight, they needed more convincing.

Beloved, are you content for sight to see or are you looking for yet another sign? May we yearn not for signs but spiritual truth.

“Honoring God with the Heart”

ImageWhen you read the word “defilement” what images come to mind? Is it some picture of a far off land and people searching through the dump looking for food? OR Is it some picture of a church with people dressed in their finest taking communion who have yet to take this step: Psa 51:2 Wash away my wrongdoing! Cleanse me of my sin! Or this one: 1Co 11:28 A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. No matter which picture comes to mind, Jesus has a word for all of us: it is not the outward life but the inward life. If ever there were a picture of outward purity but inward defilement it is the hypocritical Pharisee…note it is not the Pharisees of the time of Jesus but it is the Pharisee within all of us. It is then that the words of Jesus should pierce our hearts and that we begin to look and see what He sees. He sees we have escalated traditions to the above inspired scripture. That was the problem of the first century Pharisees and why Jesus took such offense at them.

Wisely the Pharisees sought to protect Israel from the false prophets and teachers that they may never have to do another “lap around the wilderness” or Babylonian captivity again, but in their quest they had closed eyes to see and closed hearts to hear. Thus Jesus points them to their practices of washing and Corban (which is to set aside a gift to the temple which cannot be touched until an appointed time even if a need arises to care for one’s parents) to show them the true defilement is as Isaiah said: this people honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me. Their outward practices had become so ingrained that the washing of hands superseded the washing of the heart. Both Moses and Jeremiah pleaded with the people to do that step before they began to worship. Deu 10:16 Therefore, cleanse your heart and Jer 4:14 “Oh people of Jerusalem, purify your hearts .”

Today as we continue our journey to the cross let’s take time to do a spiritual heart check. Will you examine your hypocrisy as I also have to do? Where have I or you set aside what is good as Corban but have yet to set aside our sin?

“Honoring God with the Heart”

ImageWhen you read the word “defilement” what images come to mind? Is it some picture of a far off land and people searching through the dump looking for food? OR Is it some picture of a church with people dressed in their finest taking communion who have yet to take this step: Psa 51:2 Wash away my wrongdoing! Cleanse me of my sin! Or this one: 1Co 11:28 A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. No matter which picture comes to mind, Jesus has a word for all of us: it is not the outward life but the inward life. If ever there were a picture of outward purity but inward defilement it is the hypocritical Pharisee…note it is not the Pharisees of the time of Jesus but it is the Pharisee within all of us. It is then that the words of Jesus should pierce our hearts and that we begin to look and see what He sees. He sees we have escalated traditions to the above inspired scripture. That was the problem of the first century Pharisees and why Jesus took such offense at them.

Wisely the Pharisees sought to protect Israel from the false prophets and teachers that they may never have to do another “lap around the wilderness” or Babylonian captivity again, but in their quest they had closed eyes to see and closed hearts to hear. Thus Jesus points them to their practices of washing and Corban (which is to set aside a gift to the temple which cannot be touched until an appointed time even if a need arises to care for one’s parents) to show them the true defilement is as Isaiah said: this people honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me. Their outward practices had become so ingrained that the washing of hands superseded the washing of the heart. Both Moses and Jeremiah pleaded with the people to do that step before they began to worship. Deu 10:16 Therefore, cleanse your heart and Jer 4:14 “Oh people of Jerusalem, purify your hearts .”

Today as we continue our journey to the cross let’s take time to do a spiritual heart check. Will you examine your hypocrisy as I also have to do? Where have I or you set aside what is good as Corban but have yet to set aside our sin?