Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Expecting God to Deliver

Jesus’ Life

Mark 1:21-28

Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him."
No one had spoken with such authority before. He didn’t ask God to help, he didn’t plead with the evil spirit to leave.  He didn’t pray for hours.  He just commanded the spirit to go, and the spirit did.  He set the situation up that his reputation was on the line.  Either God was going to listen to him, or he wasn’t.  If God wanted him to be supported, the spirit would go.  But if not, then the evil spirit would stay.  But Jesus set the situation up so that God could give his approval to his teaching immediately.  Jesus had no doubt.  And he gave no opportunity for compromise.

Mark 8:22-25

Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?"  And he looked up and said, "I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around."  Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.

At this point, Jesus wanted the blind man to be well, according to God’s promise.  But even after Jesus prayed, the man wasn’t totally well.  He still couldn’t see clearly.  So Jesus prayed again.  He wasn’t worried, he didn’t think that maybe God had forsaken him.  Rather, he was faithful and stuck with it, even though it wasn’t according to plan.  Jesus knew that the man would be delivered, and he would keep praying until it happened.

Mark 8:31

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 
Jesus knew what was going to happen in his life.  He knew about his beatings and the rejection and the shame.  But he also knew that God would deliver him—in three days, no less.  Jesus never doubted this—he repeated it many times.  He may have wanted to know if there was a different way to deliver people than through his death, but he never doubted God’s deliverance.

Matthew 26:26-29

This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
Jesus knew that his death would bring deliverance to many.  He didn’t want to die, but he knew that God would cause the deliverance to happen if he did die.  Jesus was committed to the plan, because he knew his Father so well.  Well enough that he was willing to lay down his life in trust of Him.

Our Lives
Matthew 17:19-20

 The disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

The disciples couldn’t cast out the spirit because they didn’t expect God to work through them.  They didn’t think God would really do it.  But Jesus had already given them authority (Matthew 10), so they had everything they needed.  Expect the faith that it would really happen.  We need to have confidence in God and to not give up so that God will accomplish what he promised.

Acts 3:1-13

"Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him."

Peter and John were simple people, not having much education.  But they knew the lesson that Jesus had taught them about faith.  So they believed that under the authority of Jesus, the man would be delivered, according to the promise of God.  And so it happened—because they had faith and the power of the

George Muller believed that God would do exactly as he said.  God said that those who sought God’s kingdom first and only would gain provision for themselves, so George Muller rejected the salary that was usually given to pastors.  Since that worked so well for him, he also took in orphans so he could care for them.  By the end of his life, he had given away more than a million dollars that he had never asked for, but just waited on God for. 

Living It Out
·         Expect that God will deliver you, according to his promise

·         Don’t give up, even if it takes a long time

·         Keep praying, even if you pray for years.

·         Don’t expect that God will help if he has not promised

·         Expect that God will deliver others

·         Encourage people to have faith in God

Take chances!  Don't test the Lord by putting Him in a situation that forces Him to act, but give God space to work.  God is much more powerful than we ever give Him credit for, and He will act more than we think to ask Him to.  Often He won't act unless we ask, so ask!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Good Muslim (Luke 10)

A Bible professor approached Jesus, wishing to test his teaching.  He asked, “Teacher, what should I do to obtain God’s life that never ends?”  Jesus said, “What does it say in the Bible?  How do you understand it?”  The professor answered, “You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind.  And you will love your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus, impressed, replied, “This is correct.  Live this out, and eternal life is yours.” 

 But knowing he had not lived this out—and had no intention to—but wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “But, really, who is my neighbor?”  

Jesus sighed and responded, “There was a man traveling from Washington D.C. to New York and some terrorists kidnapped him, stripped his clothes off and beat him half to death, leaving by the side of the road, helpless.  Now it so happened that a Mennonite pastor passed by, and he saw him.  But, thinking he was a homeless bum, he ignored him and went on his way.  Then a Baptist worship leader drove by the same spot, but since he was in a hurry to make it on time to his worship service, he also ignored him and made it to the service on time.  Then a Muslim drove by and saw the man laying on the side of the road.  Compassion welled up in his heart and he stopped, got out his first aid kit, covered his wounds, put him in his car (getting blood all over the new seats) and drove him to the hospital.  There he told the doctor, “If he doesn’t have any insurance, here’s my credit card number—just take it from my account.’ 

"Now,” Jesus concluded, “Which of these was the neighbor to man attacked by terrorists?”  The professor said, “The M- the one who had compassion on him.”  Jesus smiled and looked him in the eye, “Now you do the same.”  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Warning Against False Teaching

Jesus’ Life

Mark 13:21-23

False Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray.
Jesus wanted to make sure that his disciples knew that false prophets would come.  The disciples must be careful because the false prophets would sound convincing. They would say that the king of God is here or there, and that the end would be this way or that.  But he wanted to make sure that his disciples knew that only those who agreed with Jesus’ teaching and prophecy would be correct.  If anyone said anything else, then they were false teachers and they should not be listened to. 

Matthew 23:2-12

They tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments. And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.

Jesus warned his disciples against the teaching of the Pharisees.  On the surface, they look like people completely devoted to God and to his ways, but they do not teach the command of God, but their own ideals and standards.  They look like they are willing to do great things for God, but they are only interested in exalting themselves.  Jesus also warns his disciples not to be like these false teachers, but to be like Jesus.

Luke 6:39-45

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit; nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Jesus said that the way we can tell the difference between true and false teachers isn’t always by what they teach, but the attitude they teach in.  If the teachers are interested in condemning or finding what is wrong with everyone, then they are not true teachers.  But if they teach God’s truth with the idea in mind that they are looking for people who can receive God’s mercy, then they are true teachers like Jesus.

Our Lives

I Timothy 6:3-5

If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

Paul warned Timothy to look against false teachers.  He said that they would not reflect the teaching of Jesus, but they would be interested in seeking their own personal gain. 

II Peter 2:1-3

And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Peter wrote his letter to warn the churches about false teachers.  These false teachers are those who deny Jesus or his lordship over people’s lives.  They will be interested in following their desires and want to gain things from their teaching.

Jude 1:4-19

Certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jude also wrote to the churches to warn against false teachers.  Jude claims that these teachers are demonic and will be punished by the Lord in the final day.  Therefore we are not to associate with them.

Antony of Egypt lived in a time of a corrupt church, marked by greed and compromise with the world.  He spoke out against it, but when no one listened, he determined to live in a graveyard rather than in the corruption of the city.  Later, he moved to the desert and founded the first monastic community, the Desert Fathers.

Living It Out
Know the teaching of Jesus so well that you recognize false prophets.
While it might be good to understand the teaching of false teachers and cults, it is far better to know what the teaching of Jesus is and to recognize false prophets by those who teach differently than Jesus.  Know Jesus and his word best and you will recognize false teaching every time by how they deny Jesus.

Know the difference between a false teacher and a person who has a different interpretation
A false teacher is one who both teaches and lives in opposition to Jesus' life and teaching.  However, there are some who are sincerely following Jesus but just have a different interpretation than you.  The teaching of Jesus can have different interpretations and applications.  Only if someone denies Jesus' teaching and life are they false.

Know the signs of false prophets:
            Teaching something other than the teaching of Jesus
A false prophet is one who teaches something opposed to the teaching of Jesus.  A true teacher is concerned with keeping his teaching in accord with Jesus.
            Looking for personal gain.
A false prophet is one who teaches only for their salary or financial gain.  A true teacher gives his teaching freely, accepting only what others offer him freely. (Matthew 10:8-13)
            Seeks fleshly desires.
A false prophet pursues the best salary, the best benefits package, the best meals, the biggest gain for themselves or their family.  A true teacher is content to give the word, no matter what they receive, no matter what the cost to themselves.
            Sees that salvation is found in denial of pleasure.
A false prophet tells everyone to fast all things, to deny themselves every pleasure, even though Jesus taught no such practice (Colossians 2:20-23).  A true teacher encourages people to fast in accord with the Spirit, but makes no commandment beyond what Jesus said.
Distinguish between false prophets and those who are misled by them.
Just because someone expresses a false teaching, that does not mean that they are a false teacher.  If they express their wrong opinion privately, they are just misled.  If they change their mind when corrected, they were just misled.  (Acts 18:24-28) A false prophet is one who publicly teaches something opposed to Jesus’ teaching and then refuses correction.  There are many who are involved in groups that have false teaching, but they are themselves simply misled and are open to be corrected by God’s word.

Check with teachers of Jesus’ word whether a teacher is false or not.
Don’t make a guess about whether a teacher is false or not.  Listen to others who know the teaching of Jesus and have them help you make a determination.

Have nothing to do with the teaching of false prophets.
Once you determine that someone is a false prophet or teacher, do not support them, do not heed them, do not follow their practices.  Go to Jesus, and listen to his words.

Warn others against them.
Once it is determined that someone is a false teacher, then if you see others following their teaching, who might be sincere believers, then gently warn them against the teaching, using the word of God as support. (II Timothy 3:16)