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Concerning the fine art of pettiness and nitpicking

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 in Book of Luke | Comments Off on Concerning the fine art of pettiness and nitpicking

I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:28

After documenting how Jesus honored John the Baptist while also commending those who hungrily sought after the kingdom of God, Luke penned an observation about the religious ruling class:

the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves…Luke 7:30a

Quite honestly, that’s a frightening statement. They had rejected God’s purpose for themselves. In their ambition for religious superiority and precision, they had discarded the very reason for religious pursuits—embracing God and His purposes for their own personal lives.

Please don’t think that since you’re not a Pharisee from back in the day that you, yourself, are immune to drifting into complacency or indifference toward God, and as a result (and even far worse), rejection of God and His purpose for you.

The writer of Hebrews warned about that: “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it(Hebrews 2:1). Drifting away can snowball into “I don’t care” which can, in turn, roll right down the hill into utter rejection of God’s purpose for you. Every one of us must guard ourselves vigilantly against this drifting, snowball effect.

To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like?  Luke 7:31

I can picture Jesus, the foremost People Watcher of all time, observing these self-proclaimed holy ones with near amusement.

“Let’s take a look at these people…what do they remind you of?” I can just hear Him saying this with a smile tugging at the corner of His mouth. He’s about to give some telltale signs of drifting, apathy, and God-rejection in otherwise religious souls.

Telltale Sign #1 of drifting, apathy, and heading down the road toward God-rejection:

Publicly calling others out for not marching to your personal drumbeat.

They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.” Luke 7:32

Notice, the complaint here had nothing to do with the love walk, ethics, morality, or Scriptural deviation of those in question. The public complaint was petty and nitpicking: “You’re not playing the way we play. You’re not conforming to the way we like do things.”

The areas of pettiness that people can embrace are unending: How others dress, wear their hair, eat or don’t eat, exercise or don’t exercise, talk, spend money or don’t spend money, music choices, differing personal interests—these are just the tip of the iceberg as to the things we believers can end up judging others about.

The message here is clear. Once you start majoring on the minors, you are drifting from God. If you catch yourself doing this, turn around; run, don’t walk, back to the Lord. Sure, you have your own interests and style (or lack thereof!). But are you really commissioned by God to call others out for being different than you?

Telltale sign #2 of drifting, apathy, and heading down the road toward God-rejection:

Negatively labeling others who follow a more stringent spirituality than you do.

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a demon!” Luke 7:33

Maybe you like your cheeseburgers and beer…but the guy (or gal) who abstains from meat or alcohol due to conscience really irks you. Instead of letting them pursue God in their own way, you find yourself wanting to label their abstinence as some kind of spiritual weirdness to justify yourself and make you feel like you’re the normal one.

Newsflash: You’re the petty one. “…To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4b). If you catch yourself feeling the need to mock or label someone else’s stricter walk, you are majoring on the minors and are drifting off course. Again, turn around! Run, don’t walk, back to your Father and ask Him to forgive and cleanse your critical heart.

Telltale sign #3 of drifting, apathy, and heading down the road toward God-rejection:

Negatively labeling others who are less strict in their personal habits than you.

The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Luke 7:34

Jesus enjoyed eating. He drank wine. He reached out to the “untouchables” of religious society. And yet, as Scripture says, He was without sin (see Hebrews 4:15). Nonetheless, there were those who abhorred His freedom and sought to diminish His impact by labeling Him a glutton and a drunkard. Never mind that He was not addicted to either food or alcohol; the truth didn’t matter. If they could create a perception, they were hopeful that the gullible would buy it…and they could regain their control over the “little people”.

You may have it all together. You may walk a straight line without deviating from your P’s and Q’s. But when you bump into another believer who seems a bit loose—they seem to romp through life with an abandon that offends your carefully disciplined routine—you are convinced that they’re “off”.  And you find yourself labeling them “glutton”; “drunkard”; “shallow”; “loose”; “undisciplined”; or any other number of labels.

Yes, you, too, have become a nitpicker. You have judged your brother on his outward appearance, and as a result, you’ve set yourself up as superior and as Judge—a job-title belonging to God alone.

Don’t get me wrong: There is nothing wrong with personal discipline. “It is for discipline that you endure” (Hebrews 12:7a, NASB). But when you start to feel superior to others because of your disciplined ways, this is a telltale sign that you have started drifting away from the One who enabled you to be disciplined in the first place!

And—you guessed it—you are now majoring on the minors and have veered off course. Once again, turn around! Run, don’t walk, back to the Lord who pulled you out of the pit where He once found you, and ask Him to forgive you of your condescending attitude.

 Wisdom is vindicated by all her children. Luke 7:35

When you keep the main thing the main thing—justice and mercy and faithfulness (see Matthew 23:23), and cast the care of all those different than you on the Lord—you’ll find a greater peace and wellspring of joy rising up within you. It’s good not to be God! God is God—and He’s a lot better at it than you could ever be!

Those who don’t dance to your music; those who stay home when you party; those who feast when you fast—let them be. It could very well be that they have been following God with a full heart all along…and He will vindicate them in the end. Even if they are “off”, God will reveal that to them and deal with them as His children (see Philippians 3:15 and Hebrews 12:7).

And His wisdom in them will become visible to you one day when you observe all the good fruit pouring out of their lives.

In the meantime, be the person God created you to be, and live for His glory.

Dorothy

The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Romans 14:3

Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:4

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ…Philippians 1:9-10

 

© 2017, Dorothy Frick

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Typical week in the life of Jesus: Observing the effects of prayer

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Book of Luke | Comments Off on Typical week in the life of Jesus: Observing the effects of prayer

Have you ever taken a walk on a hot summer’s day only to find that you’ve become a gnat (fly, horsefly, mosquito, etc.) magnet? I have…but my bugs were nothing like the “gnats” that always seemed to swarm around Jesus throughout His three-year ministry.

Now it happened…on a Sabbath [that] His disciples were picking…and eating the grain. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” (Luke 6:1-2.)

They couldn’t help themselves. They were irked that He wouldn’t submit Himself to them; how could this crude Man and His disciples develop such a following? These enlightened leaders just had to point out their concerns to Him…

On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him (Luke 6:6-7).

The gnats were gathered, prepared to ambush. Would their Target have the audacity to heal on the Sabbath? Buzzzzzz….You could hear these gnats holding their breath, ready, set…positioned to swarm…

But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And he got up and came forward (Luke 6:8).

Jesus knew what they were thinking…but He proceeded to step into their trap, anyway. Jesus! Be careful! Don’t You know who You’re dealing with????

And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?” (Luke 6:9.)

Incoming: Holy Ghost wisdom. Yup—He’s been praying!

After looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” And he did so; and his hand was restored (Luke 6:10).

It never failed: God always showed up when Jesus was surrounded and ambush was imminent. He had prayed beforehand; God downloaded wisdom; and Jesus chose His Father’s direction rather than saving His own skin by taking the easier, more politically-correct path. As a result, miracles followed. In this case, a man’s withered hand was completely restored before their very eyes! How could anyone get mad about that??

Wait for it…

But they themselves [you know who!] were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus (Luke 6:11).

Outrage filled these “enlightened” ones. How dare He heal a man’s hand on the Sabbath! Yes, they certainly had their priorities…

But so did Jesus:

It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God (Luke 6:12).

The Son of Man set the standard for all who would follow Him: Pray. Pray before, during, and after. Pray first of all; pray last of all.

Do you desire wisdom from Heaven and miracles from God? Fortify your desires, hopes, and dreams: PRAY. And don’t stop praying.

Dorothy

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2, ESV

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit…Ephesians 6:18a

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

© 2017, Dorothy Frick

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Concerning five effects of prayer (The good, the bad, and the glorious)

Posted by on Jul 21, 2017 in Book of Luke | Comments Off on Concerning five effects of prayer (The good, the bad, and the glorious)

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16

Jesus had just healed a leper, and large crowds gathered wherever He went to hear His preaching and to be healed of their infirmities. Signs and wonders abounded.

But the Scripture doesn’t mention any celebratory high-fiving on Jesus’ part; right after such successful campaigns, Jesus would often slip away to isolated places and pray.

Effect #1 of prayer: Bolstering groundedness and stability in the praying person.

Reading between the lines in this section of Luke 5 reveals an inarguable result of prayer—fortifying single-minded devotion toward God and His purposes. No one would have begrudged Jesus a victory celebration after drawing huge crowds and healing incurable diseases. Perhaps His disciples secretly wished He would toot His own horn in the face of all the opposition coming at Him from every side.

But Jesus basked in this alone: Bringing glory to His Father, seeking His face, and doing His will. And this built depth and rootedness into His character as He lived out His life as the Son of Man.

Effect #2 of prayer: Outwardly religious people are likely to follow you around, dissecting and finding fault with you and your message.

One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem…Luke 6:17a

It seemed wherever He ministered (and even when He was at rest), certain religious folks were always showing up. However, they weren’t drawn by the power or purity of God; they were hungry for scandal, dishonor, and the destruction of Jesus’ ministry. They watched Him like hawks hoping He would mess up.

Did Jesus adjust His preaching to cater to them? Did He soften His message? Did He restrict the number of deliverances, healings, or dead-raisings? Did He seek in any way to make Himself more palatable to an easily-offended crowd?

You know the answer to that.

Instead, His response was this: He would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Thinking, analyzing, making adjustments, and walking on eggshells to appease the most offended ones in the crowd does not access the wisdom of God. Jesus knew that; He turned consistently to the One who was faithful to gird Him and guide Him and give Him the edge—despite the outrage of His detractors.

Effect #3 of prayer: You may be scorned or hatefully targeted.

On one occasion, four friends of a paralytic couldn’t reach Jesus due to the size of the crowd surrounding Him, so they dug out a hole in the roof and lowered their friend right in front of Jesus…and the Pharisees.

Seeing their faith, [Jesus] said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Luke 5:20-21

When your life is built upon the sincere, deeply personal pursuit of God, don’t be surprised if others notice it. Some will be drawn to the light and stability coming from you; but unfortunately, as in Jesus’ life, others will seek to undermine your reputation and effectiveness. It happens; don’t be alarmed, dismayed, or discouraged.

Continue doing what you’re doing—consistent, steady, humble pursuit of God and bold living for the Lord. In this way, you will let your forbearing spirit be known to all men (see Philippians 4:5). As you keep your behavior excellent among them when they slander, all anyone will see are your good deeds—and eventually, they’ll end up glorifying God (see 1 Peter 2:12).

In fact, in no way [be] alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God (Philippians 1:28).

How can you survive—and even thrive—when all the scorning and hating begins? Like Jesus, slip away often to the wilderness and pray. (Any quiet place will do!)

Effect #4 of prayer: Instantaneous, penetrating wisdom in the face of insults and attacks.

But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? Luke 5:22-23

On every hand, belittlement, dismissiveness, and insults pile up against those who seek to live godly in Christ Jesus. Trickery and deception are used to snare men and women of God into both verbal and behavioral missteps. What can you do to counter such a turbulent tide when it rises up against you?

Again, like Jesus, make it your practice to slip away often and pray! Then, also like Him, you will be primed and ready in the face of mockery, manipulation, and scorn to receive instant messages straight from the Spirit of God, bringing light and life on the scene—and silencing those who seek to silence you.

Do you remember what Jesus said to His disciples concerning times of persecution to come? Instead of encouraging them to rehearse their best defense, He told them to expect Holy Ghost messages to rise up within them at just the right time! “So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute” (Luke 21:14-15).

Are you a believer? Then expect Him to do this when you need it. It’s not by your powerful eloquence or my mighty debating skills; it is by His Spirit that we will stand triumphantly in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (see Zechariah 4:6 and Philippians 2:15).

Effect #5 of prayer: The miraculous.

“But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.” Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. Luke 5:24-25

During your times with the Lord, He quietly downloads truth, wisdom, confidence, joy—indeed, all good things—into your spirit. He forms sensitivity within you to His nudges and promptings, and you learn the sound of His voice.

As you grow day by day in these things, you develop internal spiritual “antennae”, and you start to recognize His leadings more and more—whether you’re at home or at work, driving, sleeping, shopping, eating, or just goofing off.

And as you step out in response to do, say, or pray what He shows you, your very cooperation with Heaven will pave the way for the miraculous to unfold…and God will get all the glory.

Yes, slipping away often to pray will ground you in faith and stabilize your character, but it will also provoke jealousy and opposition from those with insecurities, issues, and hidden agendas—they sense something is different about you, and it unnerves them. However, here’s good news. As they seek to destabilize, demoralize, and undermine, the Holy Spirit Himself will  not only download what you’re to say but will also confirm His Word with signs following.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16b

Dorothy

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16

And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. Isaiah 32:17, ESV 

 

© 2017, Dorothy Frick

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Concerning shortcuts

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in Book of Luke | Comments Off on Concerning shortcuts

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. Luke 4:1-2

Most of you are very familiar with the fourth chapters of both Matthew and Luke which deal with Jesus’ forty-day fast and the three infamous temptations that Satan attempted to use to lure Him off-course.

This time as I was reading Luke 4, I was struck by one glaring element underlying each temptation: The devil’s lure of shortcuts.

In other words, with each temptation, Jesus was presented with a shortcut that would enable Him to avoid any of the discomfort or suffering He’d invariably face doing things “old school”—God’s way

Shortcut # 1: Using your gifting from God to meet your own needs

And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”  Luke 4:3

God has endowed every member in the body of Christ with various gifts. These gifts are meant to be others-oriented, not self-oriented. Peter explained it this way: “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10, NLT).

When someone uses their spiritual gift to meet their own need—whether that need is material, physical, social, or promotional—they are using a shortcut. Jesus countered the devil’s enticement by insisting on doing things God’s way: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

In other words, our giftings are given as a means to meet someone else’s need; the method Jesus specified for meeting our own need is faith in God and His Word.

This shortcut is brilliantly diabolical. The believer is tempted: Instead of employing the gifts God specifically deposited in them to help others, those very gifts are now used to gain ground, goods, or glory for themselves. Rather than waiting on God to bring their desire to pass in His way and timing, they attempt to manipulate the gift of God in them for their own end. In essence, this believer has become his/her own god: My gift to benefit me—not God’s gift to help someone else. And look who ends up getting the glory. Good ol’ self.

But doesn’t the Scripture say, “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men” (Proverbs 18:16)?

Indeed it does; but as in Jesus’ case with His hunger, using a spiritual gift for the purpose of meeting your own needs or promoting yourself lands you squarely in the temptation zone. Yes, let the gift make room for you; but don’t use the gift to promote yourself. The difference may be subtle, but guarding the purity of both the process and the outcome makes avoiding this shortcut very worthwhile.

Shortcut # 2: Worshipping anyone other than God to attain your goal more quickly

And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” Luke 4:5-7

What a shortcut! Jesus knew that Adam and Eve had forfeited humanity’s authority over the earth to Satan. He knew that the kingdoms of the world were in the devil’s hands; He also knew that the devil could hand them off to the Son of God….at a horrible, wretchedly steep price.

How many have flung aside their values, their better judgment, or their conscience to embrace a shortcut they assumed would guarantee them their hearts’ desire? A little compromise here, a little cutting corners there—what does it matter if I get what I want?

Sadly, a willingness to take shortcuts to accomplish a goal doesn’t stop on the secular front. So often Christians find themselves taking unwise shortcuts to achieve a “greater” purpose. Does the end justify the means?

According to Jesus, emphatically, NO. Despite the very tempting  prospect of a cross-free (and therefore, pain-free) attainment of global Lordship by simply bowing down to Satan, Jesus declared, “NO SHORTCUTS, DEVIL. You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve (Luke 4:9, my paraphrase).

Shortcut # 3: Using your gifting to prove your power

And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.” Luke 4:9

It seems that people have always been fascinated by the miraculous power of God, and the devil was no exception. However, his motive was neither curiosity nor thrill-seeking. This temptation was meant to lure Jesus into a compromising, potentially suicidal decision by jumping into the air high above Jerusalem, and in doing so, granting Satan equal footing with the Son of God. You see, had Satan been able to goad the Lord into using His gift to prove His power, then Satan would have walked away with the upper hand.

Jesus understood the devil’s motives, however; therefore, when Satan said, “Jump,” the Lord refused to ask “How high?” On the contrary, in no uncertain terms would He stoop to submit Himself to the enemy of those He came to save in a shallow attempt to prove “two can play that game.”

No, the Lord remained Lord; He called out the devil in the most effective way possible, declaring, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Luke 4:12, NIV).

And you? Don’t allow yourself to be lured into a “prove it” showdown with the devil or with those who seek to box your faith in. Remember, the gifts and power of God operating in your life are for the purpose of helping others—not to prove how powerful you are.

And hold fast to this truth: God is quite capable of showing up supernaturally to deal with people if you will leave off with the theatrics. When God does His thing, it’s on His terms without one bit of preening or posturing needed from you. Best of all, when God comes on the scene, no doubt will remain in anyone’s mind as to Who showed up.

Most temptations for Christians involve some kind of shortcut or another to achieve a desired end. Think about this when stepping out in new directions; and then ask God to expose every snare masquerading as a shortcut that pops up across your path.

And don’t forget your best comeback: “IT IS WRITTEN.”

Dorothy

 

© 2017, Dorothy Frick

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Concerning the message of repentance

Posted by on Jul 7, 2017 in Book of Luke | Comments Off on Concerning the message of repentance

…the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins… Luke 3:2b-3

This was John’s calling, pure and simple. To preach, to baptize, and to lead people to repentance.

Hundreds of years before John was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote concerning the Baptist and outlined his very specific task:

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” Luke 3:4-6; Isaiah 40:3-5

Prepare the way of the Lord

Main thing needed to prepare the Messiah’s way? Activate hunger for repentance in the hearts of all Israel.

Make His paths straight

How would the Messiah’s path be made straight? Men and women must be primed to recognize their intense need for God; acknowledge their sinfulness; and understand that the Lord alone was God—not they themselves.

Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low

But how? Simply put, John would not recognize men or women according to their position, power, or prosperity. Each had sinned—the poorest and the wealthiest; each had gone his own way—the greatest and the lowliest; each must repent and be forgiven—the weakest and the most powerful.

The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth

Crooked and corrupt places and preferences would fall under the purifying, “straightening” correction of the Messiah. Rough, difficult ways would be smoothed out by His healing touch and watchful eye.

And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

The door would be opened through the preparing work of the Baptist and the saving ministry of the Messiah for all flesh to see and embrace the salvation of God.

So….in light of this overarching, heart-impacting calling, you might imagine the loving, welcoming nature of the message flowing from the Baptist in the wilderness. Right? Take a look at the biblical account:

So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Luke 3:7-9

Let’s face it. John would not be invited to many conferences or campmeetings if he were around today. What a buzz-kill! Let’s review some of his oratory:

  • He called them a brood of vipers
  • He asked them who warned them to flee the wrath to come
  • He told them to repent—and then prove it by their lifestyle
  • He commanded them not to rely on their pedigree or church affiliation to save them
  • He bluntly warned that the axe was poised and ready to cut the root of every tree that didn’t bear the fruit of repentance—and by “tree” he meant them!
  • Trees that didn’t produce repentance fruits would be thrown into the fire

And yet, despite the scalding nature of his presentation, this was precisely what he was called to do, say, and preach! Sugar-coating error, sin, selfishness, and self-importance would not make straight the way of the Lord. No; this fiery bluntness was exactly what God prescribed to shake men and women out of spiritual lethargy and error. The proof was in the pudding:

And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” Luke 3:10

The response to the Baptist’s brusque preaching was heightened concern. His message was hitting the bull’s eye. They recognized the gravity of their condition.

They asked, “What do we need to do in order to change?” John gave specific examples of the life-transforming power of repentance.

  • If you have two tunics, share with someone who has none.
  • Do you have extra food? Share it with someone who’s hungry.
  • To tax gatherers: Don’t cheat and swindle people out of their money.
  • To soldiers: Don’t rob people. Don’t falsely accuse anyone. Be content with your wages.

John prepared the way of the Lord by heightening the spiritual concern of the people and by revealing the lifestyle that would flow from true repentance.

the people were in a state of expectation

Instead of being turned off by the message, the people knew God was ready to do something big. They were even wondering if John was the Messiah….

The Baptist, true to the heavenly calling, did not commandeer these popular musings to elevate himself or to flaunt his great ministry. Instead, he corrected such thoughts with piercingly blunt humility:

“As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:16-17

John stayed true to the flavor and flow of the original call by refusing to be confused with the One whose way he was preparing. Likewise, he remained faithful, even in the face of deadly consequences, as the Baptist rebuked King Herod for flagrantly violating God’s law by indulging in an adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife. To John, no person or topic was off limits as he prepared the way of the Lord.

Jesus is returning again to planet Earth. And again, the world is in a place of complacency and resistance to the things of God. Like John the Baptist before us, you and I have a part to play in preparing the way of the Lord.

And a huge part of that task will involve readying the world through the message of repentance.

This is quite an hour.

Dorothy

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young [or too anything else, for that matter!].’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:7-8, NIV; brackets my own commentary

 

© 2017, Dorothy Frick

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Concerning Jesus; concerning our time

Posted by on Jun 22, 2017 in Book of Luke | Comments Off on Concerning Jesus; concerning our time

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2:25-26

Something caught my attention in Luke Chapter 2. I think you’ll understand why as you read.

The Bible, a Book from antiquity, is astonishingly current. Here we see an obscure, ancient prophet named Simeon, living his life, following his God, with a promise in his heart—he would not die before he saw the Messiah. This event, a snapshot in obscurity, would have faded forever had Luke not discovered it in his investigations and recorded it in his book about Jesus. And something Simeon prophesied that day reverberates today, shining a spotlight on the antagonistic provokers of our time.

And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God…” Luke 2:27-28

It just so happened that this godly elder, holding fast to his promise from God, wandered into the temple at the very moment Mary and Joseph brought the Baby to be circumcised.

The Holy Spirit must have whispered to that gentleman, “This is the One you’ve longed to see!” as Simeon, undoubtedly overwhelmed with emotion, took the Infant into his arms and blessed God.

Are you waiting for God’s promise to you to manifest? Then like Simeon, continue on in righteousness and devotion with an eye to God’s Word, and let the Holy Spirit move on you, through you, and for you. One of these days, you, too, will wander into the manifestation of God’s promise for you. Just keep on keeping on in humble devotion and faith.

Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32

When God brings forth His promise to you, follow Simeon’s example—thank Him. Rejoice before Him in it. Give Him the extreme praise that He so rightfully deserves.

By the Spirit of God, Simeon’s eyes were opened to the import of this long-awaited Child he held in his arms. He uttered an unthinkably amazing truth: This little Man—the Messiah—was indeed the glory of Israel, and He was also a light of revelation to the Gentiles—the very One declared way back by the prophet Isaiah. (See Isaiah 9:1-7; Isaiah 42:5-7; Isaiah 49:6-7; Isaiah 51:4; Isaiah 60:1-3.)

And Simeon…said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’” Luke 2:34-35

The beautiful scene of God fulfilling a long-awaited promise to an elderly saint also revealed the sober personal and global impact this Child would have.

To Mary, one day a sword would pierce her own soul when she would witness Him brutally crucified, taking on the sins of the world.

And as Isaiah had prophesied, “…the government will be upon His shoulder…” (see Isaiah 9:6). This One would sit as Judge over rulers and be appointed for the rise and fall of many in Israel. For that, matter, He would rule invisibly over all nations, even to the end of the world…and as a sign to be opposed.

Think about it. Has not Jesus been a sign that many seem hell-bent to oppose? Has not this Man of Peace, who laid down His life for the world, incurred the disgust, disdain, and wrath of many who have abhorred Him throughout history? Do you see any of that going on now in this hour?

Simeon foretold that all this hate was unto a specific end—to reveal the thoughts from many hearts.

This opposition is not a terrifying, out-of-control thing; no—it was predicted from the early days of Jesus’ life and has a purpose for those who seek to follow Him. Boiled down, this is what Simeon’s prophecy revealed: When opposition arises to the truth pertaining to Christ or even to simple, believing adherence to Him, use this as a sign—God has just revealed the opposer’s heart. Fear not, and proceed in faith—the Light of the world has your back.

The battle belongs to the Lord.

Dorothy

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s…’” 2 Chronicles 20:15, NIV

The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm… Exodus 14:14, NLT

 

© 2017, Dorothy Frick

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