Lucia's Blog: December 2018
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, December 29, 2018

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION: A LIFE WORTHY OF GOD

“Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  
Colossians 1:10


The phrase "Happy New Year" has the sound of hope and second chances. We feel that no matter how badly we may have failed this year, we still have a second chance to do things better in the new year. The reality of walking with Jesus is that when our Lord pardons our faults, He gives us the hope that tomorrow will be better and more fruitful.  And yet, maybe we don't aim high enough to soar to the heights of God.

Sadly our New Year’s resolutions are often shallow and quickly broken after a few days or weeks, for we don’t stick to them perhaps for lack of commitment.  Perhaps, we need to be motivated to not give up too quickly.  The apostle Paul resolved to obey Christ despite the obstacles and stumbling blocks he found in his way, for he was determined to do God’s will all the way to the end.  He did it once and stuck to it!  Without a doubt, Paul’s powerful resolution carried him throughout his life, motivating him to sacrifice all until the very end of his life to glorify our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who gave everything up for us that we might have the hope of eternal life (Philippians 3:7-11).  What a wonderful way to start the New Year!  Paul’s resolution was to know Christ more and better, for he yearned to finish well the work that the Lord had entrusted him.  He held fast to the Gospel until the end!  My greatest desire for the New Year and of course for the rest of my life is to know Him better and to walk in a manner worthy of Him who called me out of darkness into His marvelous kingdom of Light and righteousness.  I want to walk in a manner worthy of Him that others may see the Light shining brightly and give Him the glory!  I want to walk in a worthy manner of Him and His Gospel, bearing much fruit for His glory:  walking worthily in the home, in a worthy manner of the Gospel, of God, and the calling to which we have been called with all humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, and love.

As I look back, I am reminded that another year has passed and I that I am drawing closer to the day of reckoning, whether it be the day of death or the day that our Lord returns, that day when we all shall stand before the Judge of all and give account for all our deeds here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:10).  That day when He will either say, "Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."  (Matthew 25:34).  Or sadly He will say, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels."  (Matthew 25:41).  Thus, let us reflect on how we have used the past year. May I suggest some resolutions that we may discuss for this new year?  My challenge is to make better and wiser use of the time the Lord has granted us.  Let us use this New Year to dress for spiritual success (putting on the whole armor of God) and walking in a manner worthy of the Lord so that our souls might prosper in all Truth and love.  Indeed, there is only one resolution that all Christians need to hold fast, and that is to walk worthy of our calling and of the Lord, that is, walking in righteousness and obeying the Gospel of Christ faithfully (1 Cor. 15:1-2).


I.   WALKING IN A WORTHY MANNER IN THE HOME:

  • Wives Walking In A Worthy Manner:  (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 3:1-7)
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands."  (Ephesians 5:22-24).

The Gospel teaches us how we must walk worthily of our calling in Christ.  God is very concerned about life in the home.  All Christians are commanded to submit to Christ and His rule and to one another as husbands, wives, and children.  Christ has modeled for us the beauty of submission when He sacrificed for us, doing His Father’s will (John 12:12-26).  The only way we can be pleasing to God as children and as parents is by walking in a manner worthy of God, for the home will be affected when we refuse to obey that command.   We must not exclude Christ and His principles of righteousness from our homes!  In Ephesians 5:22-23, the apostle Paul is urging wives to "submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior."  The wife walks in a manner worthy of her calling in marriage by voluntarily submitting to her husband.  In our twisted society, the word "submission" has become an unpleasant and ugly word.  It presents a picture of being dominated and oppressed.  They have completely corrupted the meaning of the word and the concept of what the Bible teaches.  Jesus has never asked us to do anything that He did not do Himself!  Jesus submitted to the will of His Father and yielded to His Father's interests.  He wants wives to voluntarily submit to the leadership of their husbands.  Husbands, remember that the Lord does not want you to abuse your leadership by forcing her to submit, using punishments or other consequences.  If the wives refuse to yield, I believe there is nothing that you can do but be accountable to God and expect Him to judge the wives if they refuse to repent.  She must voluntarily submit to the husband's leadership without the husband forcing her to do it.  Wives who fear the Lord will submit to the headship of their husbands without force.  Their primary desire will be that of submitting to God's will and that of their husbands.

Ladies, if you do not desire to submit and follow a man's leadership, then you must not marry, but you cannot escape your obligation to submit to male authority even by remaining single.  To please God, you still must learn to submit your will to the divine will. Period!  Remember, submission does not mean you are inferior.  Do you suppose Christ was inferior when He submitted to the will of His Father?  I don't think so!!  Why?  Because submission or yielding shows strength and godly meekness. Wives, when you submit to your husband, you are showing reverence and service to the Lord.  That is, you are serving Christ by yielding (submitting) to your husband's will and not your own.  For the husband is the head of the wife.  There is only one head in the marital relationship.  God created both, husband and wife, as one flesh to function together under one head.  They are not to be autonomous but live together.  God has made the marriage relationship to be as beautiful as Christ is to the church.  Wives, submission is not doing what you always want to do. Submission will not allow you to get your own way.  Submission is choosing to submit or yield your will and desires to the will of your husband.  This is walking in a manner worthy of God and of course in godliness and love.  It is devotion to the Lord!  Submission honors and affirms the husband's leadership and encourages him to carry it forward.  Submission is not begrudging and does not undermine the leadership of the husband (1 Peter 3:1-2).  Wives, you are obeying Christ and submitting to His will when you submit to your husband's leadership or headship.  Remember, you will be rewarded for your yielding and loving service to your husband and the Lord.
  • Husbands Walking In A Worthy Manner:  (Ephesians 5:25-31).
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'"

Husbands, to walk in a manner worthy of your calling means to love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.  Loving your wives means giving up your interests and desires for those of your wife.  To love your wives is to do everything for the benefit of your wives.  This is the love of Christ for His church!  He did not do what He thought was best for Him but for us.  Husbands, you must love your wives in all circumstances and not just when it is convenient for you.  You are to love your wife as your own body.  The husband is commanded to take the headship of his household.  He is accountable to God for the welfare of his family in all aspects, but especially spiritual matters.  When husbands love and submit to the headship of Christ and His rule, then they will lead their family properly (in a godly manner worthy of God).  It is vital that we stress the importance of leading them with love in a godly way.  Paul stresses the kind of love husbands are to have toward their wives in Ephesians 5:28-29. They must love and cherish them, for she is his body and the two are one flesh.  Thus, if he indeed fears the LORD, he will not lead her in a nasty, spiteful and bitter way.  Instead, he will cherish her since they are one.  Therefore, the husband must see his marriage relationship in a godly way, a godly manner worthy of God, treating his wife with care and love.  There is no other way to be pleasing to God!

In 1 Peter 3:7, husbands are to treat their wives with understanding in a considerate way, showing honor to her as the weaker vessel.  That is, to treat her with respect for she is not inferior and because she is a partner of the Grace of life with him.  It means that he must treat her as equal since she is an heir with him and not a slave under him.  Husbands, when you mistreat your wife and fail to show honor, you are not showing understanding and compassion, for you are not walking in a manner worthy of God.  Thus, you're running the risk of hindering your prayers.  God will not listen to you, and you will not have a relationship with Him.  This is extremely serious!  You cannot treat your wife as a slave, mistreating her, and still expect to commune with God.  When you behave in such an ungodly and unworthy manner of God, you are separated from God, for you are in sin.  Therefore, it is vital that you show her honor and kindness to walk in a manner worthy of God.  Show respect, understanding, and compassion in your actions and words toward her!  Treat her as an equal heir in your walk with Christ so that your prayers are not blocked or hindered.
  • Children Walking In A Worthy Manner:  (Ephesians 6:1-4).
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 'Honor your father and mother' (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 'that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.' 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.'"

One of God’s most critical commandments addresses the relationship between the child and the parent.  "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12).  Who doesn’t know this commandment? Many of us have heard it countless times from our parents. But really, what does it mean to honor your father and your mother?  God has commanded children to listen to their parents and obey them in everything, for this is the will of God.  Honoring our parents is showing respect toward them.  In Leviticus 19:1-3, God commanded Moses saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.”  Honoring our father and mother is obeying them and doing what they tell us to do.  Notice what God commands children to do in Ephesians 6:1-3“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 'that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.'"  Again, we find a similar command given to children in Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”  These commands are not just about obeying our parents, for there is more to this command.  Although we are commanded by God to honor our parents through obedience, we also recognize that obedience can be shown without honor. Why do I say that?  Because we must show reverence and respect to our parents because they are the parents whom God has given to us.  To dishonor our parents is a reproach on us and brings the wrath of God upon us.  "For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him." (Leviticus 20:9).

Unfortunately, we live in a lawless culture where parents are dishonored, disrespected and ignored.  Our people praise children when they disobey and dishonor their parents.  They forget that God has commanded children to honor their parents till deathIsn’t it something that most children, when they turn 18 or 21, act as if this command no longer applies to them?  But guess what?  God did not give an age limitation for honoring our parents.  It is a lifelong command for God’s people!  It is disturbing to see our youth today having contempt for authority, showing no respect for the elderly, having terrible manners and talking nonsense.  Our young people do not stand up any longer when adults enter a room.  They dishonor and contradict their parents without a second thought, talk too much in company, gobble their food, guzzle their drink, lay their legs on the table, and tyrannize their elders.  We have our hands full!  Sadly, parents have failed in the rearing of their children, for they have taught them to be self-centered, allowing them to get their way.  The desires of the flesh rule the family, so they fail to put order. The Lord counsels us to use the “rod,” but we “spare the rod,” and raise spoiled childrenSo what are the consequences of parents failing in our God-given role?  Children who defy all authority and are content with dishonoring their parents.   Parents, have you forgotten that God commands you to raise your children to honor, respect and obey you Deuteronomy 21:18-21?   Children, don’t you know that when you disobey and dishonor your parents, you are committing a crime?   Children, are you aware that a life of sin stems from disobeying and disrespecting your parents?  Children, how can you learn obedience and reverence to God without first obeying and respecting your parents? Do you not know that your parents are the first and foremost representatives of the authority structures of life given by God?   How can you honor and obey the law of the land if you fail to respect and honor your parents?  If our children do not respect and honor their parents, walking in a manner worthy of God with fear, how on earth are they going to honor and respect those who are in authority in their life?  Will they obey God and be faithful to Him?  Children, you must be aware that disrespectful and dishonoring children are an abomination to the Lord, deserving of death by God’s command, for you are not walking in a manner worthy of Him.

Do not mistreat your parents, for that brings reproach to God (Proverbs 28:24; 19:26)!  Be considerate to your parents, for they are providing food, clothing, shelter, and many other luxuries that you don’t deserve!  Remember that the least you can do to honor your parents is to not be lazy while enjoying the privileges of being a child.  Thus, do not wait for your parents to ask you to do something. Don’t make them tell you over and over to do your chores, for you must know what to do when things need to be done.  Pull your own weight!  Watch your friends, for you honor your parents by making the right decisions about choosing your friends (Prov. 28:7).  Bad friends can ruin your good morals and righteousness.  Honor your parents and choose good and godly friends in a manner worthy of God!

Children, especially teenagers, you are walking in a manner worthy of God when you obey your parents showing honor and respect toward them.  Obedience to your parents is your way of service, submission to His will, and worship of Christ, for when you are doing this you are waking in a worthy manner of God.  You must obey your parents in the Lord, for in doing this, you are serving the Lord through your obedience.  It is pleasing to the Lord!  When you rebel against your parents, you are rebelling against your God.  You are commanded to honor your father and mother until death (Ephesians 6:2-3).  When you honor your parents, you are reflecting your relationship with God.  And whether you like it or not, your parents are probably wiser than you are.  Your life will be better when you follow their counsel and instructions.  Remember, they're giving you rules and instructions that are for your own good. Such instructions will keep you from many headaches in life that might destroy your soul.  In Matthew 15:1-6, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for breaking the commandment to honor their parents.  They failed to take care of their parents financially, saying that their money was given to God.  They failed to show respect and honor for a lifetime, forgetting that it never ends.  And though your parents might not be worthy of honor, because they have behaved dishonorably toward you, you are still commanded by God to show respect and honor toward them.  It is God's will that we honor, care for and respect them! God wants to keep us from behaving sinfully toward them.  God will judge us in the end.  Take heed!

So children (grown and adult children as well), if you feel the need to apologize and repent to your parents for not honoring them and for not walking in a manner worthy of God, the way God has commanded you to do so, now is the time to do it. Now is the time to start showing appreciation, honor, and respect to them, for God will judge you!  You must repent if you want God’s approval!  God has commanded you to honor and obey your parents, and not to mistreat them or speak against them.  Remember that your parents give you rules because they seek your best interests. Obedience to your parents pleases God.  Remember, you are not in charge in your father’s house during those years when you are still living with your parents. Your parents are in charge!  You are not the head of the house. Your parents are.  So start walking in a worthy manner of God!


II.   WALKING IN  A WORTHY MANNER OF OUR CALLING:  (Ephesians 4:1-3)
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

We Christians have been called to live in a manner that is godly and holy, for our purpose on this earth is to show God’s glory and wisdom.  Why?  Because we have been chosen, redeemed, predestined, adopted, and we are heirs, saved and reconciled to God to show His wisdom and glory.  God is glorified through us, the church, and through Jesus throughout all generations.  Paul urges Christians to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called (Eph. 4:1).  We choose to walk worthy because of all that God has done for us. He has redeemed us.  We must refuse to walk as we please, for we have been bought for a very high price, the blood of our Lord and Savior.  So we must walk in a manner worthy of Christ, reflecting our new identity!  We are not walking in a worthy manner of our calling when we walk the world’s unrighteous path, the way of Satan, the desires of our flesh, body, and mind.  We must not continue walking in our former way of life, the old man full of corruption!  We must choose to walk the path of righteousness. That is to say, we must choose to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called.  But walking in a manner worthy is costly, for the world will reject us!  Walking in a manner worthy of our calling is counter-cultural! 

God has commanded us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling (Eph. 4:2-3).  To be able to do that we must have the right attitude of heart that will maintain Christian unity.  Some believe that we can have unity on doctrine alone.  That as long as we agree that there is one Lord, one baptism, one body, one Spirit, one hope and one God and Father of all, it does not matter how ugly and rude we treat each other, devour and attack one another.  Indeed, these are deplorable attitudes of heart!  Can God be glorified this way?  What good is it to defend the Gospel and the Truth and still show the works of the flesh, the old man (anger, slander, malice, deception, angry words that provoke one another, pride and many sins such as these that bring shame to Christ and bring His wrath)?  Many seem to forget what the Lord urges us to do for Christian unity.  “With all humility and gentleness with patience, bearing one another in love.”  (Eph. 4:2).  There can be no unity without this attitude of heart!  It doesn’t matter how much doctrine one might think he knows, because if he lacks humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, and love, he is missing the power of the Gospel altogether!  When Jesus came to earth and lived among sinful men, He defended the Truth and the power of God without being ugly and hateful, for He was meek and lowly in heart.  Thus we must walk in Christ’s footsteps of humility, gentleness, patience, and love!  We must bear with and endure one another patiently and without bitterness and anger because we love each other. We must love each other’s souls!  So we must first think before we speak to one another. We must behave kindly toward one another especially when we disagree (Eph. 4:3).  We must be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  We must keep the unity of our calling, for we have been joined together in Christ.  Our unity is shown in our behavior, in our marriage, in Christ, and in the church.  Peace is the bond that will hold us in that unity we must strive to maintain.  There can be no unity without effort, participation, and involvement.  The more we feed our souls with the Word of God and prayer, the easier it will be to exhibit humility, gentleness, patience, love and come to unity.  We are to dig into the Scriptures and discuss them together without getting upset when there is disagreement!  Yes, we can disagree without being hostile to one another, keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.   Wouldn’t it be wonderful!  We must not despise it!  We must grow up to the stature of Christ with all gentleness, humility, patience, bearing with one another in love!  Walking in a manner worthy of this glorious calling demands effort and eagerness to maintain the unity.  Unity is not accidental, for it demands that we merge ourselves in prayer and in the Word of God always.


III.   WALKING IN A MANNER WORTHY OF GOD:  (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
"For you yourselves know, brothers,that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.  9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

Paul’s central message in the book of Thessalonians is how to live godly and holy in view of eternity.  The Thessalonian brethren had an amazing faith despite their great affliction and hardshipThey had an amazing faith, labor of love and steadfastness of hope, for they placed their eyes on eternity, waiting for Christ to return (1 Thess. 1:3, 10).  You see when we fix our eyes on Christ and His kingdom of heaven, our lives change and are transformed into the likeness of our Lord.  It gives us hope, courage, and strength to face whatever difficulties we may have because we love our Lord and His kingdom.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:12, Paul is urging us to walk in a manner worthy of God who called us into His kingdom and glory, for this must be our purpose in life.  We must embrace this newness of life!  So what does it mean to walk in a manner worthy of God?  We have the answers in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12To walk in a manner worthy of God, one must have boldness (2:1-2).  In Acts 16:19, 23 the crowd seized and dragged Paul and Silas before the rulers, attacked them and beat them with rods, throwing them in prison.  And though they had been severely and shamefully treated, they still had the boldness to declare the Gospel in the midst of so much turmoil.  It got so bad that the Jews attacked Jason’s house since they wanted Paul and Silas.  You see walking in a manner worthy of God is to have boldness in the face of much opposition, affliction and difficulties as did these Thessalonian brethren.  We have been warned by God that we will experience persecution and difficulties because of our faith (1 Peter 4:12-14).  We Christians must not be surprised when facing trials and afflictions that test our faith when we suffer because of Jesus.  Instead, we must rejoice that we were counted worthy to partake in Jesus’ sufferings.  Our eternal view helps us to rejoice in our sufferings and various trials.  But we must remain bold to continue proclaiming God’s Word, the Gospel even in the face of opposition and persecution (2 Tim. 2:12; Matt. 10:33; Lk. 12:9).  Isn’t it true that we are most likely to be tempted to deny Jesus when facing opposition and resistance?  Jesus commands us to remain bold and steadfast in God!

To walk in a manner worthy of God, one must be pure as he presents the Gospel (1 Thess. 2:3-6).  God stresses the concept of purity a lot throughout the Scriptures.  Walking in a manner worthy of God demands pure hearts and pure motives.  And this is precisely what Paul demonstrated to the Thessalonians as he walked with God proclaiming the Gospel.  Paul exhibited purity in his walk with the Lord, and we see this in chapter 4Paul and Silas walked in a manner worthy of God because they had pure hearts and pure motives.  They spoke boldly to please God rather than men, for God tests our heartsThose who walk in purity of heart do not please men, for they’re concerned with pleasing God.  God will know when we are trying to please Him rather than other people, for He knows our hearts!  We are meant to live a life that pleases God, a life that is worthy of Him.  By doing this, we can rest assured that our motives will be pure, knowing that our God tests our hearts.  Moreover, we walk in a manner worthy of God when we love others.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul speaks of his love for these brethren as a nursing mother taking care of her own children.  Indeed, this is true gentleness and compassionWalking in a manner worthy of God is caring genuinely for one another, for God cares a lot about our relationship with one another. (1 Thess. 2:8).

Not only did Paul share the Gospel with them but was willing to love them with all of his heart!  He gave himself entirely to his brethren.  Do you suppose that when we choose to be aloof from one another, refuse to open up to one another, set walls up, refusing to let anyone in, it is walking in a manner worthy of God?  Were Paul and Silas afraid to open up to the Thessalonians after what they had experienced in Philippi?  It is amazing to me to see Paul’s love and care for these brethren to the point of sharing the Gospel and his life with them like a nursing mother would care for her own children after being only there for three weeks, not months or years!  Paul’s motives were pure, holy, righteous and blameless, for he was not there for their money, or to take advantage of them, or to be a burden to them (2:10).  Paul taught them as a father would teach his children: without hostility or intimidation, but rather with gentleness and love.  And though teaching must be firm, it must be done with love and gentleness.

Paul lived his life with boldness as he proclaimed God’s Message.  He likewise showed a life of purity as he sought God’s approval.  He showed his love to the brethren as he shared his life with them.  Thus we must live our lives in a manner worthy of our calling, God’s kingdom and glory (Romans 5:1-2; 8:18).  Our hope in God’s kingdom and glory is what must motivate us to live in purity, love one another and be bold in persecution and suffering.


IV.   WALKING IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL:  (Philippians 1:27-2:2).
 "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ."  (Phil. 1:27

Paul’s joy in suffering came from knowing that the Gospel was advancing and that his faith was strengthened to reach his goal, to serve Christ and be with Him in eternity.  He knew very well what it means to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ as a citizen in God’s kingdom of righteousness.  Paul stresses the need of living in a manner worthy of the Gospel in Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12The Gospel teaches us a way of living that is worthy of God.  We must live in such a godly and holy way so that others may know what it is like to live for Christ and the Gospel!  Walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel is to stand firm in one Spirit, striving for the faith of the Gospel, that is, unity.  This is parallel with Ephesians 4 where the Lord demands that we walk in a manner worthy of the calling to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Hence, to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel is to stand firm side by side together with the same mind, for we are under Satan’s attack and under attack from the world, not from each other.  We are not walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel when we fight and devour one another.  We must learn to fight together for Christ, for the faith and His kingdom of righteousness!  We must be united in our thinking, perspective, goals, and hearts! 

Our lives must be centered on the Gospel of our Lord and Savior and the furthering of His Gospel.  But we must work together in harmony and fellowship for the faith of the Gospel.  A divided church stops focusing on the Gospel and our participation in it.  When we are working side by side for the faith of the Gospel in harmony, we’re willing to overlook our differences and personal conflicts.  We are eager to work together to share the Gospel within our community, build up one another in the faith and strengthen each other during difficult times.  There is no room to focus on ourselves and our problems!  Why not use them for the furthering of the Gospel?  We must refuse to be self-centered, wasting our time away from the fight that is set before us!  We must stand firm together side by side with eyes fixed on Jesus and His Gospel!  We must not be frightened or intimidated by our opponents (1:28).  There is no room for quitting!  We must continue holding on to Christ with a fearless faith.  We must suffer for Christ (1:29-30)!  God is granting us a gift in suffering when we live in a manner worthy of the Gospel.  There is no better honor than to suffer for Christ and for the sake of the Gospel!  It is a sign of salvation!  God, in the end, will decree salvation to those who live in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.  So we must be united, of the same mind, of the same love, and walking in full accord (Philippians 2:1-2).   The same purpose, goal, love, and agreement toward one another.  We walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel when we stand together in the Spirit of Christ, making the Gospel glorious!


CONCLUSION:

Living in a world that is not accustomed to teaching and practicing a lifestyle worthy of what Christ expects of them, Christians look like aliens and strangers (1 Peter 2:11).  Someone might say, "Of course, I'm a Christian; I read my Bible; I go to church on Sundays... " Of course, but let me tell you, that those who profess our Lord Jesus and have put Him on, walk in a manner worthy of Christ. Being a Christian is much more than calling yourself a Christian, assembling, and reading the Bible whenever you think it is convenient in your life. Being a Christian is a matter of the heart, the mind, and the soul. To measure up to the stature of Christ is to show it in our faith, convictions, and beliefs. We must set aside everything else until we cannot help but to base everything that we do and say on the will of God!  First, we must start examining our way of living, our decisions and our way of thinking. We have Christ as our example who by the sword of the Spirit breaks down all the walls of our thoughts piercing our soul and spirit and discerning the intentions of our hearts. He builds new thoughts for us. He pours out light where there is darkness by showing us through His Word how to make those changes that are vital, that we may be transformed into His image. God wants us to shine His light in all areas of our lives: our homes, our work, our school, our minds, our hobbies, etc. They must be in harmony with our faith.  But sadly, our faith is often separated from all these things!

Let's never forget that our Lord is life.  So why do we want to separate Him from every area of our lives? So often, God is allowed into only certain parts of our lives. We allow Him only a little bit into our churches, into our hearts, into our everyday walk. We barely allow Him into our decisions, our beliefs, our speech, our homes, the why of our daily activities, goals, and everything that we engage in. As Christians who desire to live "godly," and in a manner worthy of God,  we must start examining our minds, our hearts, and our souls. We must start spending more time in prayer asking our LORD to help us do His will in every area of our lives, and that includes our homes and families. We need to learn that He is not a cookie cutter God but holy! We must allow God to shine His beauty in every compartment of our lives. His Grace and Light must be seen in every area of our lives. Our lives will look very different if we only allow Him, through faith, to make us live our lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Everyone will see God in us, and they will see the Light shining in a world full of darkness; a light that is so much different from the world's darkness.

So let us be wise and not put Him to shame because He will be ashamed of us on that final day if we don't let Him live through us, walking in a manner worthy of God. Those who want to live godly lives must strive to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Remember that our LORD is HOLY! So let us start behaving in a way that glorifies our Lord, living lives that are unblemished and are living sacrifices, well pleasing to Him. And let us be renewed in our spirits and minds by putting on God in righteousness and in the holiness of the Truth. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2).

Let us use our time well and not allow anything or anyone to distract us from serving our Lord, walking in a manner worthy in our homes, our calling, of God and the Gospel. God demands that we put Him first and put self to death, take up our cross and follow Him and His example.  We must strive to live for Christ and not self!  (Gal. 2:20).

The truth is that this will be the last year for many!  Will you be one of those who will stand before God this year, or will you live to see many more years?  Only God knows!  Therefore, let us walk in a manner worthy of God, the Gospel, our calling and our way of living, loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength as if each day were our last.

May we as Christians live in a manner worthy of God, God’s kingdom of righteousness and the Gospel.  May we examine our hearts so that we may bring honor to our Lord and glorify Him.  May we work diligently and in a manner worthy of God to further the Gospel and our service in God’s kingdom not only this year but each day of our walk with Him here on earth.  May we reflect upon all that we have done this past year as we begin a new year aiming to achieve an A+ in all that we do for our Lord and the furthering of His Gospel.  May our Lord help us to walk and live in a manner worthy of Him and His Gospel, walking in righteousness and living our lives as a sacrifice well pleasing to Him.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called… ”  (Ephesians 4:1-3).
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”  (Col. 3:23).

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY BRETHREN AND FRIENDS!

"The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace." 
Numbers 6:24-26

Luci

Thursday, December 13, 2018

THE GREAT PHYSICIAN


“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him.  10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? 12 But when he heard it, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”’ 
Matthew 9:9-13


We marvel at the single-minded way that Jesus worked at bringing the hope of a new life to people who were hopeless cases, mired in long habits of sin and corruption. He has shown us the way. Now it is our turn to carry His message to those marred by sin, redeemed sinners rescuing others still lost and dying in a twisted world of darkness and despair.

Our Lord Jesus associated with tax collectors who had a reputation for evil among the Jews.  He healed and taught those whom the Jews often avoided.  Jesus touched the lepers, healed a Gentile’s servant and spoke to and showed concern for a Samaritan woman.  Jesus reached out to those who were nothing like Him.  He set a different standard to follow.  Jesus did not hesitate to surround Himself with sinners, for He had compassion and concern for their souls.  Jesus is the Great Physician for sinners and their Master Teacher.  He approached those whom we often want to avoid, the lawless among us.  Isn’t it easier to surround ourselves with those who are morally righteous?  Our goal must be to have the mind of Christ and seek the same people He sought, to teach them the Good News.  In Matthew 9:9-13, Matthew a tax collector tells us the story of Jesus' call to follow Him, not yet as an apostle but as a follower.  Tax collectors had the bad reputation of being traitors, greedy and dishonest.  The Jews hated them because they worked for the hated Roman Empire, for they collected taxes for a tyrannical Caesar.  But Jesus called one of them!  Our Lord Jesus along with His disciples “reclined at table” with a whole group of sinners and tax collectors.  “Reclining at table” was a common posture for special occasions in those days.  Imagine the Son of God eating, talking, laughing and keeping company with such sinners!  And though neither Jesus nor His disciples are uncomfortable under this circumstance, the Pharisees are.  Notice what they said,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  
It was hard for the Pharisees to understand because to them it was disgraceful that Jesus and His disciples would be eating with such scoundrels and lawless people. It meant that they accepted them and identified themselves with such sinners.  Wouldn't you be upset if Jesus were to come to earth and associate with such lawless sinners instead of us, the righteous?  Yet, our Lord Jesus did that in the first century when He came to earth!  

Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth was to be the Gospel, for He is the good news of God’s saving Grace.  Thus preaching and teaching is essential.  It was the only way of evangelism in the first century as it must be today.  One of the keys to trigger an explosion of evangelism today is to strive to understand how our Lord Jesus treated the lost and how He acted around them.  We must be willing to do likewise in evangelism.

  1. How did our Lord Jesus treat the lost?  
  2. How did He deal with those who were sinners? 
  3. Why on earth would Jesus the Son of God spend time with those who were filthy, dirty and stained with sin?  
The Lord Jesus gives us the answer in Matthew 9:12-13,
“He said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”’  

Oh, I love this Scripture!  It is simple and yet powerful!  Jesus has taught us a method of teaching sinners, for He came to this world to call and save sinners who are very sick because of sin and need a Great Physician to heal them.  This must be our motivator as well.  Jesus wants to heal those who are spiritually ill and weak.  It is marvelous how God can heal the sin-sick soul where there seems to be no hope for healing! So why must we seek to spend time only with the healthy and reject the sick among us?  Do we not care at all about sharing the Gospel, the Good News, with sinners, the lawless and immoral among us?  Do we look at the lost with compassion as Christ did?  Christ did not look at them with disgust, for they were like sheep without a shepherd, scattered, confused, hungry. They were vulnerable and in desperate need of a Shepherd, a Physician to guide and heal them.  Christians, how do you feel when you look at the world around you?  Are you motivated to show compassion by spreading the Gospel to them?  Do you feel only disgust for sinners?  Do you not care that they are going to die without Christ and thus be lost eternally?  Do you feel superior to them?  Are you too proud to associate with them and teach them the Gospel that can save them?  Do you prefer to associate only with those who are good, moral and perhaps religious people?  These people need to be taught the Gospel! They need to be introduced to Christ’s love and ways!  Are you forgetting that Jesus came to save sinners, which you and I once were?  Jesus befriended sinners so that they might know Him better because He loved their souls.  Jesus did not come to save the righteous but sinners!  Don’t ignore the power that there is in the Gospel to change the hearts of men into what Jesus wants them to be.  Let us not be like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time who were very unhappy with Jesus for spending time with sinners, because Pharisees didn’t befriend sinners.  Christian, remember who you were and how far you have come since you obeyed the Gospel!  God has been very patient with us since we first came to Him.  I know He has been very patient with me and for that my heart is grateful!  Don’t forget that sanctification takes time and that sinners need our love and patience.  God wants us to be merciful to sinners, the lawless.  Don’t be self-righteous by looking down at them!  Remember, Jesus reclined at the table with these lawless people to heal and help them have an entrance into His everlasting Kingdom one day.  Do your eyes see sinners the way our Lord Jesus did?  Let compassion motivate you!!  This is the heart of the Gospel! 


I.    JESUS TREATED THE LOST AS FRIENDS AND NOT AS ENEMIES:

In Luke 7:34 we have a great example of how Jesus treated the lost.
“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”  

Jesus answers one of the charges made against Him by the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Jesus was neither a gluttonous man nor a drunkard.  The Pharisees and Sadducees made these charges against Jesus because He associated with those who were not in close fellowship with the Jews.  People who were well known as “sinners.”  Of course, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23).  But the Jews like many today look upon some sinners as worse than others.  In Luke 7:36, Jesus was invited to the house of Simon the Pharisee, a religious leader who was among those in the “approved group” of the Jews.  Simon’s hospitality is limited since he did not want to compromise himself before his friends.  Maybe he invited Jesus to confirm that Jesus was a prophet gifted with power by God.  To better understand what happened at Simon’s house, it will be helpful to have a little background.  In the Old Testament, Moses gave the ten commandments along with 600 other laws.  The scribes added another 1500 laws more to the other laws, building a fence of tradition around the Law.  The Jewish leaders claimed they were following the Law and God’s will, but they were not!  They deceived themselves thinking they were righteous when in fact they did not even keep the Law that they thought they were honoring.  In Matthew 23 Jesus rebuked them sharply because they were disregarding the weightier matters of the Law (justice, mercy, and faithfulness).   In Acts 15:10, the apostle Peter stated that the Jews were binding the Old Covenant which was a yoke that neither they nor their fathers could bear because salvation is only found in Christ Jesus.

Back to Luke 7, Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus for dinner but did not treat Him courteously.  It was common to kiss the guest’s cheek, provide anointing oil for his head and wash his feet with water.  But Simon the Pharisee did not treat Jesus with these social courtesies.  He purposefully snubbed Jesus.  The Pharisees did not approve of how Jesus treated the lost.  The religious elite looked down upon Jesus because of how He treated sinners.  In this story, there was a woman in the city know as a “sinner” who came to Simon’s house.  We are not told why she came to Simon’ house.  But there is one thing we know for sure, and that is she loved the Lord and washed His feet with her tears.  She dried His feet with her hair and anointed His feet with an expensive perfumed ointment.  When Simon saw this, he assumed Jesus could not be a prophet, for if He were, He would have known that she was a “sinner,” and would have stopped her.  Simon did not want to deal with her because she was a “sinner” and not like him at all.  In Luke 7:40, Jesus taught him a parable.  This Pharisee thought he was better than the sinful woman.  I am certain that Simon could not have loved Jesus that much if Jesus had forgiven him!  In fact, Simon might have been offended if Jesus had forgiven him his sins.  He might have said, “Are you implying that I have sins?”  But Jesus turned to the woman and said, “Your sins are forgiven.”  (Luke 7:48).  She wept with great remorse because her sins which were many, weighed heavily on her and reached out to Jesus for mercy. She loved Jesus strongly, for she knew she couldn’t be saved without the Grace of God.  The Pharisees had not learned that lesson yet!  The focal point in Luke 7 is how Jesus treated the lost.  He treated this woman like a person made in God’s image and whose sins could be forgiven.  He treated her with respect and compassion, for He was a friend to sinners!  He did not participate in their wicked deeds or have fellowship with the sins they committed, even though He was a friend to sinners.  He was kind and friendly to them, for He knew they needed a Savior to save them.

Another example of how Jesus treated the lost is found in Luke 19.  Jesus treated sinners as friends and not enemies.  And though He became a friend to the lost, He did not endorse their wickedness or sinfulness.  Luke 19 talks about a tax collector whose name was Zacchaeus.  Without a doubt, the Jews thought he was a traitor who sold out to the Roman Empire and an oppressor of the people of God.  You see, tax collectors were fiercely hated, but this man wanted to see Jesus (Luke 19:1ff).  He was so determined to see Jesus that he climbed up a tree to wait for Him just to catch a glimpse of Him as He came along the path He was traveling.  We can just imagine that some thought to themselves, “There is that rich crook.  This is our opportunity to tell him he is going to burn in hell!”  Maybe I am exaggerating a little bit here.  But really, do you suppose Jesus would have handled it this way?  That is not how Jesus handled it!  When Jesus saw Zacchaeus up in the tree, He said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”   (Luke 19:5).  Jesus treated the lost as friends so that He could reach out to them to influence them and save them from their sins.  But is that how we treat the lost?  Jesus’ approach to evangelism worked better than a sermon about crooked tax collectors.  The beauty of all this is that Zacchaeus turned from his sinfulness, promising to do better.  Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.”  (Luke 19:9).  Indeed, Jesus treated him as a friend and not as someone He had to condemn.


II.   WHEN JESUS DEALT WITH SINNERS, HE DID NOT TELL THEM 
                                            HOW BAD THEY WERE:

Jesus told sinners what they could become rather than humiliating them.  That does not mean that He overlooked the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 23).  The Pharisees were self-righteous.  They often kept their people from having a proper relationship with God.  There is a big difference between these self-righteous Pharisees and those sinners who were broken because of sin and who acknowledged that they needed to repent and do better.  Jesus did not spend His time here on earth telling sinners how terrible and awful they were but instead gave them the remedy to heal the sin-sick heart and become what He wanted them to be.  In Matthew 4, Jesus addressed the men who would become His apostles.  Don’t you think these men had lived pretty rough lives?  I suspect they did, for they were fishermen who were not thought of as being very religious people and spiritual leaders in that day.  But Jesus chose these men who were not among the rabbis and the scribes.  Jesus never humiliated them by telling them how bad they were.  He simply told them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Matthew 4:19).  You see, we demand that all men be sinless before we have taught them the Gospel, and we are impatient even after they begin their new life. But if we expect so little because they don't meet our demands, we are telling them that they are hopeless.  So if we believe that sinners can never change and be transformed, what we are communicating to them (whether we acknowledge or not) is that they have no potential for the Lord.  And chances are they will never change or be transformed for the Lord!  Jesus never spoke this way to the fishermen who would soon become His apostles. He never told them how bad they were.  On the contrary, He expressed high expectations for them, and thus He equipped them to achieve those goals and purposes.  My brethren, that is what we must be doing today!  We must consider how Jesus treated the lost and try to follow His approach in our lives.  Jesus treated the lost as friends, not enemies and He dealt with them with kindness and mercy.


III.   JESUS SAW THE GOOD IN THE LOST, SINNERS:

Jesus saw the good in all men.  In Luke 10:27, an expert of the Law put Jesus to the test and asked Him,
"Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? How do you read it?' 27 And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.  28 And he said to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.'  29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?'"

Then Jesus responded by dropping a verbal bomb, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”  (Luke 10:29).  Jesus’ response must have shocked the audience, for Jesus implied that the lawyer did not love the Lord with all his being and his neighbor as himself.  The question that this lawyer asked Jesus is one of the most critical questions any man can ever ask.  It is similar to the question that the Jews asked on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem in Acts 2:37; by Saul of Tarsus on his road to Damascus (Acts 9:6); by the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30.  Any wise man will seek out the answer to this critical question:  “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  There is no more important question to ask by anyone in this world that this one!  It is a question that men must ask to be saved and receive the promise of eternal life.  But such a promise is conditional, for one must do something to obtain eternal life.  The lawyer in context came to Jesus with this question, for Jesus had the words of eternal life.  Isn’t it amazing how Jesus turned the question back to this lawyer!  Jesus simply addressed this lawyer with another question, for this man was a lawyer trained and educated in the Law of Moses and was responsible for answering such a difficult question as this.  Jesus asked, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?"  Like Jesus, we must go to God’s Word to find the answer to any question, doctrine or issue.  God’s Word is sufficient and able to answer any question on any matter.  We must not rely on personal feelings. We must depend on God’s inspired Word which is able to make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15-17).  Although this lawyer understood the Law, but understanding the Law was not enough because it was essential that he obey the Law.  To obtain eternal life, one must obey God’s divine Law (Matt. 7:21-22)!  The truth is the lawyer wanted to justify himself by asking, “And who is my neighbor?”  The lawyer answered correctly, for he understood the teaching of the Law, but he stumbled over the application of the Law in his personal life. His question was designed to justify himself. Sadly, this man failed the test because he did not see the importance of loving his neighbor!

Jesus then proceeded by telling him the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.”  
Even though we are not told the identity of this man whether he was a Jew or a Gentile, we are told that his journey was from Jerusalem to Jericho.  The nature of his travel is not given, and it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that this man had been beaten, wounded, stripped, robbed and left to die.  Jesus said this man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.  Notice that Jerusalem was at least 2300 feet above sea level.  Jericho was about 17 miles away from Jerusalem and 1100 feet below sea level.  This road was known as the “Bloody Pass.”  Jesus and many others had traveled this path.  As this man made his journey, he fell among robbers.  We are not told how many or about their race, but we know that they were mean, brutal and selfish, for they stripped their victim of his clothes and left him half dead by the road.  As Jesus proceeded, He brought three men into the scene.

  1. The first was a priest who passed by on the other side even though he was traveling in the same direction as this poor man who had been beaten and robbed.  The surprising thing is that this priest was a servant of the Law!  He certainly knew better, for he knew the teaching of the Law!  The Law demanded that they show mercy even to a farm animal (Exodus 23:4-5).  God had rebuked the Jews through Hosea the prophet demanding that they have mercy and not sacrifice (Hos. 6:6).  Yet, this lawyer had failed to grasp the meaning of what God wanted!  This priest, like the Pharisees, failed and had omitted the weightier matters of the Law when he refused to stop and aid this wounded, dying traveler.  
  2. Our second traveler is a Levite who also refused to stop and help the injured man, for he passed by on the other side.  And though he was not a priest, he was of the priestly tribe, who were teachers of the Law and singers in the Temple of God. Yet, he didn’t bother to stop and check on the nature of this man’s injuries.  He was not even moved by compassion to offer assistance to this unfortunate man.  Both the priest and the Levite were indifferent to the needs of a wounded brother.  Rather than help, they passed by on the other side, leaving the wounded man bleeding, naked, hopeless and helpless.  Amazing!!
  3. Our third traveler came along who happened to be a Samaritan. When he saw the helpless and wounded man, he had compassion on him and stopped to assist him.  He bound up his wounds, poured oil and wine on them, put him of his animal, and brought him to an inn leaving instructions and money for his care.  This Samaritan man was the only one who stopped and had mercy on the wounded traveler!  It is important that I stress, that the Samaritans (the tribes that were separated from Judah in the rebellion of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12) were the northern kingdom who rebelled against God’s authority.  God in His wrath raised up the Assyrians to judge the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 17).  Samaria was overcome by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.  The people of Samaria were removed from Samaria and were taken to others parts of the Assyrian empire where they settled for several generations.  People from other nations were placed in Samaria (2 Kings 17:24).  The people from Samaria practiced idolatry, for they made others gods and served them while trying to serve Jehovah (2 Kings 17:28-33).  To make things even worse, some of the Jews intermarried with the Gentiles, when they were returned to Samaria.  They formed a mixed race that became known as the Samaritans (2 Kings 17:34, 41).  The Jews despised the Samaritans because of their mixed ancestry.  There was an intense feeling of hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans in Jesus day.  The Jews despised the Samaritans and refused to have any dealings with them (John 4:9).  Yet, the amazing thing in this narrative is that the only person who showed mercy to this wounded traveler was a Samaritan, for he was moved by compassion and sympathized with this beaten man!!  You see his compassion led to action, for he inconvenienced himself to aid this poor man.  He provided this injured man with immediate assistance.  He was a generous man who was willing to sacrifice himself to take care of a wounded manWhat a powerful story for us to learn!  It is vital that we show compassion to help those who are lost and dying because of sin!  To have eternal life, we must learn the will of God and put it into practice in our lives.  We must be doers and not just hearers (Jas. 1:22).  Jesus, our Lord, is the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9).  

So what lesson can we learn from this narrative?  That Jesus saw the good in people, even a despised class in His culture.  Are we able to do the same?  Can we see good in homosexuals, alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes and many more like these people?  We must if we want to save their souls!  Jesus certainly was not prejudiced, for He rejected stereotypes (John 3:39-42).  What about you and I?  Do we at least try to see the good in these lost and hopeless souls or do we choose to despise them, looking down at them?  Why not see the good in them even if small and try to reach out to them so that they can be rescued from the kingdom of darkness and have the hope of salvation?  It will be good to remind ourselves of our own shortcomings to make it easier to see the good in othersLet these words sink deeply into your hearts!  So as genuine disciples of Christ, we must follow Jesus’ example of how He treated the lost and strive to imitate His approach.  Jesus treated the lost as friends, not enemies.  He didn’t always tell them how bad they were.  He saw the potential of the harvest, and saw the good in the lost, for He saw the lost as scattered and hopeless sheep in desperate need of a Shepherd and Physician to heal their sin-sick soul.


IV.   JESUS TREATED THE LOST WITH COMPASSION LIKE THE 
                                     HEAVENLY FATHER WOULD:

This is clearly seen in Luke 15 which records three well-known parables:  the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.  All three have a common theme of care, compassion, and concern.  Jesus told the narrative of these parables (the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son) because the Pharisees and scribes had insinuated sin in Jesus’ relations with the sinners, for they said, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  (Luke 15:2).  Our God is caring, concerned and compassionate.  He yearns to save all men and not condemn them to destruction (2 Peter 3:9).  In Luke 15:1 we are told that the tax collectors and sinners came to listen to Jesus teach.  How wonderful it is that sinners and scoundrels want to hear Jesus’ teachings!  However, the Pharisees and scribes were not too happy about that, for they were complaining.  They said, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  This supposed Teacher sent from God was welcoming sinners!  Now go back to Luke 14 where God wanted a full house for His banquet.  The Master commanded the servant to go into the streets and hedges, compelling them to come to the feast (Luke 14:23).  Our Father in heaven loves sinners and wants them to return to Him.  Both Father and Son wait patiently for as long as they need to, for they don’t want people to be lost.  They are longsuffering allowing men the opportunity to return and be reconciled to God (2 Peter 3:9).  We can see the responsibility we must have toward the lost.  God does not want anyone to be lost.  Sadly those who refuse to come to the feast won’t be able to enjoy the privilege of God’s kingdom.  God is making the offer to all men to enter His kingdom and have a relationship with Him, the Father.

After they had accused Jesus of being friends with sinners, He startles them saying, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”  (Luke 15:7).  The Jewish leaders must have ground their teeth when they heard that!  They couldn't fathom how God might be more interested in one filthy, lawless sinner who came crawling back in repentance than He was over 99 righteous and just Pharisees.  Surely they were indignant to hear such a statement.  Jesus declared that there is joy in heaven when even one single sinner repents, for there is infinite value in even one single soul!  So often we minimize the value of one soul compared to many souls, forgetting that one single soul has great value in the eyes of a loving and compassionate God (Matt. 16:26)Yes, we must make it personal even though Christ came to die for the whole world Christ came to die for your soul and mine!!  Once the sheep was found, there was rejoicing rather than the beating or belittling of the sheep that had strayed.  We Christians must have that same attitude of heart with sinners and those who have wandered away from the fold.  Our goal must be to try to win them back to the Lord.  Whether they have never obeyed the Gospel to be saved from sin (1 Peter 3:21; Col. 1:13) or they are Christians who need to be restored because they have left the Lord and His kingdom of righteousness! (2 Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:7-8, 15Let us never forget that we are like sheep that had gone astray (Isaiah 53:6) but who now have repented and turned back to our LordSo we must rejoice when sinners, the lost sheep, are found, just like the angels in heaven do!

Wait! Jesus didn’t stop with the parable of the lost sheep, for He presented the parable of the lost coin afterward (Luke 15:8-10). Both the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin show God’s care and concern for the lost, whether or not they were lost accidentally.  In this parable, Jesus spoke of a woman who had lost a valuable coin.  She had ten coins but one day discovered that one was missing.  She did not make excuses but rather took responsibility for the lost coin.  She did not rationalize the loss, but got busy sweeping the house and seeking it diligently until she found it.  She even lit a candle to look for it in the dark to help her find it.  Once she found the coin, she gathered all her friends to celebrate that she had found what was lost.  Jesus declared once more how much joy there is in heaven when one sinner repents.  We must learn from this woman of the parable!  She took responsibility for the loss.  Like this woman, we have the responsibility to teach others who are lost because of sin and bring them to Christ (2 Tim. 2:2).  We must look for opportunities and open doors to be an Andrew (John 1:40-42), a Philip (John 1:45) and a Cornelius (Acts 10:24).  Since Christ is not here on earth physically, we must teach others the Gospel and make an effort to save their souls from eternal death.  Jesus has already left us His Word to help us make it to heaven.  To our Lord, one soul is of great value!  He was eager to teach sinners and publicans so they would repent.  He would have gladly taught the Pharisees and scribes in like manner, had they listened to Him.  We must make sure not to sin like the Pharisees, thinking that we are better than others and refuse to teach them the Truth because we think they’re not worthy of our time and effort.

Finally, Jesus went on to tell His disciples the parable of the lost son which shows the lure, progress, and end of sin.  It gives us a concrete glimpse of God’s mercy and goodnessIt dissects the Gospel Message to show us salvation connecting the Father’s Grace and the active response of the sinner.  This parable demonstrates God’s willingness to accept the lowly and the lawless.  God’s love is expressed so vividly to the one who has intentionally become lost.  In this parable, the father had two sons.  The younger is immature, impatient and wasteful.  He asked his father to give him his inheritance, which was at least one-third of his father’s estate since according to the Law,  the older brother got a double portion (Deut. 21:17).  To claim his inheritance was like telling his father he wished he was dead.  It implies that he no longer wanted a relationship with his father, for he wanted to receive his inheritance and leave.  The boy took his portion of the father’s estate and went to a far country of sin, wasting his money in sinful living (15:11-13).  He let the desires of the flesh run wild and behaved like a fool, wasting the inheritance that his father had given him.  He is called the “prodigal” son because he wasted his inheritance.  He lived a wild life without self-control (15:13).  This has been the story of all of us in one way or another, for we have rebelled against God.  Any kind of living apart from a relationship with the Father is reckless living.  When we do this, we are throwing away God’s blessings.  In verse 17, we move on to the scene of the story which is repentance.  When his money was gone, and a famine came (15:13-14), he came to his senses. Deep degradation is obvious in his new job, feeding pigs (unclean animals, Lev. 11:7).  He was as low as he could get!  To make it worse, it looks like he wasn’t eating well, for the pigs were eating better than he and he longed to eat the pig food.  When he came to his senses, he acknowledged that in his father’s house there was plenty of bread to eat and to spare, even for the servants.  So there was no more reason for him to continue starving, for he said, “How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father.”  (15:17-18).  He finally realized what he had said to his father and what he had done.  His words in verse 18 are beautiful!  There is humility in his repentance, for he said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”  Repentance is recognizing our wicked ways and turning back to the Father with complete humility.  And this is exactly what this son does.  So what is the reaction of the father when the son comes back?  When the father sees his son returning to him, while he was still a long way off, he felt compassion, and he ran, embraced and kissed him.  He called for the best robe, a ring for his son’s hand, shoes for his feet. He requested that they bring the fatted calf, to kill it and dress it for a feast.  The father said, “Let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”  (15:25-32).

In verses 31-32 when the older son heard the news that his brother had come back, he was angry and refused to go in.  The father came out and urged him to come to celebrateSo why is the older brother so upset?  Because he felt it was unfair for his younger brother to be treated with so much honor.  He had faithfully worked in his father’s fields and had not rejected his father’s leadership and instruction.  But he was envious, for his father had never celebrated his faithfulness with such a feast like this one (15:29-30).  He thought it was unfair to celebrate with so much gladness, so he refused to recognize the returning of the prodigal brother.  Since he despised his sinful brother, he tried to change his father’s kindness and compassion (15:30).  Thus he tried to make his father look reckless, unwise and sinful for receiving the prodigal son.  And though the oldest son did not show kindness to the returning brother, his father did show gentleness to him.  Instead of sharp and accusatory words, he pleaded with his older son to help him see and understand things as he did with joy, for he found his lost son (15:32).  The prodigal’s return took nothing away from the older son either, for he had his inheritance without being lost (15:31).  The oldest son’s behavior was unjust like that of the scribes and Pharisees of whom Jesus spoke.  Notice the beautiful words the father said to his oldest son, “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”  This is beautiful beyond words!  So what is the application for us today?  That we must avoid saying harsh things to hurt those who have gone astray.  That we must act like the father in this parable, always having an open heart of compassion and kindness when a sinner returns.  Our Father in heaven welcomes sinners.  But do we welcome them?  Do we look at them with disdain like the Pharisees did?  Do we even try to seek the lost and return them to the Father?  God makes a great effort to seek the lost and so must we!  He sent His Son to die for sins.  He spared the world of judgment because He wants the lost to return to Him.  He wants the dead to come back to life.  So we must rejoice when a sinner comes back from death to life.  The prodigal son might never have returned had it not been for his father’s compassion and lovingkindness.  Remember that the father in this parable is God and this is how Jesus treats the lost, with compassion toward the penitent.  Our loving and merciful God runs toward the penitent one with open arms and so must we do the same!  Jesus treated the lost as the heavenly Father does, with compassionLet this sink deeply into your hearts!


V.    JESUS WANTS EVERYONE TO HEAR THE GOSPEL TO BE SAVED:

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He left His disciples with instructions about going into the world to preach the Gospel.  They were supposed to preach the Gospel to every creature, to every human being whether king or beggar in the street.  They were to preach the good news to everyone, all the lost.  So what is the good news?  It is the death, the burial and the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4).  Jesus came to bring Grace and Truth to this world of darkness (John 1:17), bringing salvation, but we must have the faith to obey God’s terms of salvation.  We are commanded to strive to live by the perfect Law of liberty, and that includes evangelism.  We are to repent and seek God’s forgiveness and keep being faithful to Him until the end (1 John 1:7-9; Phil. 3:12-14).  Those who have not yet obeyed the Gospel must obey the Gospel to become God’s children.  That is, they must bury the old man of sin and wash their sins away in the waters of baptism, for one must die to rise into newness of life (Romans 6).  After we obey the Gospel, we must share and teach it to the lost, for it is God’s command!  He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not obey will be condemned (Mark 16:15-16).  This boils down to how we treat the lost in this world.  Are we treating them as Jesus did?  Are we treating the lost like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day did?  Why not stop and think about it, for you will be judged?  Are we more like Simon the Pharisee or God the Father?  Do you suppose the Pharisee of Luke 15 would have welcomed or received the prodigal son as his father did?  What would have happened had you and I been on the front porch to receive this prodigal son?  Would we show compassion toward the one who has repented or show indignation?  Why is it that unbelievers treat others better than we who are Christians?  There must be something wrong!  We must imitate Christ and treat the lost like friends and not enemies like our heavenly Father would do.  We must make sacrifices to give the lost a chance to hear the good news, the Gospel of our Lord and Savior!

The Gospel is the power of God to save men that they may turn away from their evil ways to God for direction and guidance.  God saves men by the preaching of the Gospel of salvation.  It is the only WAY that Jesus is going to heal the sin-sick soul that is dying.  The Gospel is the power of God to change the hearts of men so that they can return to Him. The Gospel is given into our hands to teach it to all men that they might be saved from their sins.  Every day people are dying unprepared for eternity!  It is by the preaching of the Gospel that we are going to prepare these people and win souls for God.  God has already provided all the means and the Message to save the souls of men, and we must bring the two together (John 3:16; Romans 1:16).  Can we expect to find favor before God with the blood of the lost on our hands (Acts 20:26-27)?  Is there any other way of hope for a dying world?  What is the condition of the lost without Christ?  Is there any other place where the lost can turn to?  For that reason, we must carry God’s precious Message and guide the erring back to Him.  There are so many lost souls in this world in need of the Gospel to save them.  Look up and see how the fields are already white for harvest!  (John 4:35).  We must lift up our eyes and notice them and approach them the way Jesus wants us to.  The opportunities to teach the lost the Gospel are abundant!  So let us not slip back into our comfort zones, but let us move forward with purpose to seek and find these lost souls.  So we must pray to God to lead us to a lost soul in need of the Gospel!  Let us fill this world with His Gospel!  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!

The Grace of God and the Gospel go hand in hand.  Grace give us the revelation, the Message of God, the Gospel that was preached by the apostles and that was passed on to us.  God's Grace is revealed through the Word which serves as a channel for God's Grace, "11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age."  (Titus 2:11-12).  Thus, the Grace of God that brings salvation is that which teaches us to deny ungodliness so that we may live righteously.  It is the Message of God where Grace is found.  In 2 Timothy 1:8-10, God saved and called us according to His purpose and Grace which is revealed in Christ who brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.  So God's Grace works or functions according to His purpose.  In Acts 11:14 Peter spoke to the Gentiles words by which they were saved (cf. 10:33-48).   In Acts 20:24, 32 we read that the Grace of God is manifested to all men through the instruction or teaching made  possible only through the "Gospel."  Paul's ministry was to testify about the Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24, 32).  The apostles ordained by God carried out this commission that began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) where 3,000 souls obeyed the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 2:37-41).  The apostles preached the Gospel not only in Jerusalem but all Judea, Samaria and to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).  All the cases of conversion in the book of Acts show the efficacy of the Gospel.  Today as well, we are saved by the Grace of God when we obey the Gospel.  It is only by the Gospel that we learn how to please God.  Obeying the Gospel of the Grace of God demands that we fulfill the terms of salvation found in the Gospel.

To be saved by faith is to attain the mercy of God by obedience to the Gospel of Grace. All this has been possible through the blood and cruel death of Christ. “We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor. 5:20-21).

Salvation by faith in Jesus is founded on the Word of God (Romans 10:17) that leads the sinner to obey the Gospel of Christ (2 Thess. 1:8). There is no justification without obedience to Christ, which is obedience to His Gospel.
  1. The sinner needs to hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to have faith (Acts 8:35).
  2. The sinner needs to believe in Christ (Acts 16:31-34).
  3. The sinner needs to repent of his sins since Jesus will judge him one day (Acts 17:30-31).
  4. The sinner needs to confess his faith in Jesus (Jesus as Lord), (Acts 8:37; Matt. 10:32).
  5. The sinner needs to obey the Gospel of our Lord and Savior and be baptized for the forgiveness of his sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37-38).
  6. The sinner must persevere in the doctrine of Christ, to live a pure, godly life and have an abundant life of good works (Col. 3:16; Eph. 2:10, 4:20-21).

It is through the preaching or teaching of the Gospel that God saves men.  Therefore, we must share the Gospel with the lost. God has commanded us to do so (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; 2 Tim. 4:1-2; 1 Peter 3:15).  We must share the Gospel with the lost, for it is the power of God to salvation (Rom. 1:16).  We must share the Gospel with the lost, for by doing this we show the lost that we love their souls and don’t want them to be separated from God eternally (Col. 1:28).  We must share the Gospel with the lost because we have compassion for them and don’t want them to perish.  When the Gospel is taught and is believed and obeyed, it is God’s power to save and transform men.  Men like Saul of Tarsus, the worst sinner of our day, and even people like you and me!


CONCLUSION:

We must pray fervently to God that He might send us to those who are diligently seeking Him and want to turn away from the wicked way.  I was one of those souls who was found when I was diligently seeking after God!  I was taught the Gospel by someone who reached out to me.  We must pray for God’s help that we may find these precious souls, for they are desperately waiting for us to teach them the good news!  We must pray to God to use us in whatever way He can to lead us to a lost soul that he might be saved through the Gospel of Christ.  Paul instructed Timothy saying, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”  (2 Tim. 2:2).  That harmonizes with the Great Commission as recorded by Matthew  28:19-20Jesus wants Christians to teach people everywhere about their need to obey the Gospel to become children of God and be saved.  But to teach others the Gospel, we must personally study the Scriptures so that we may teach others (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:15-17).  It is the responsibility of every member of the Lord’s church, for God will judge us on the final day!  The Great Commission begins with the Word, the Gospel.  God never said to wait for the lost to come to you, for He has commanded us to go to them.  There is no need for fear or intimidation, for God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).  When Jesus sent the apostles, He assured them saying, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matt. 28:20).

There is a beloved hymn that’s called, “You Never Mentioned Him to Me,” which is a song that stresses the consequences of not speaking to warn the wicked.  The song should move us to teach the lost!  The words stress our need to get busy in the Lord’s work of sharing the Gospel with the lost, for there is a coming day of judgment when before the bar we will stand.  "The bar" is often-used poetically to refer to judgment, that we must all face (Rom. 14:10).  Of course, this will include God’s people, for we will also be judged for any unforgiven sin we have not repented of.  Our souls will be deeply grieved, for judgment must begin at the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17-18).  And though we know that many will be lost, we still have an obligation to teach the Gospel so that no one on that day will be able to say to us, “You never mentioned Him to me,” and then go into the everlasting fire (Matt. 25:41).  We must spread the Gospel, the teachings of Christ, where it may be heard. We must follow the example of the early disciples (Acts 8:4), helping groping souls, the light of the Gospel to see (2 Cor. 4:3-4), that yonder none may say, "You showed me not the way, You never mentioned Him to me."  Therefore, we must help others prepare for judgment so that they will not hear those words, "Depart from me.”  (Matt. 7:21-23).  The Gospel can guide the lost to Christ (Acts 11:14).  The Gospel can turn sad eyes on Calvary where Christ was crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).  In view of the resurrection and final judgment, we must be compelled to abound in the Lord’s work to bring souls to Him (1 Cor. 15:50-58).  Hence, each Christian must mention Christ and what He did to redeem us.  We must labor in sharing the Gospel so that none may say on that final day of judgment, "You Never Mentioned Him to Me."  What will we do, how will we feel, if at the day of judgment some lost soul should cry in deep despair, “You never mentioned Him to me?!”  If on judgment day, we find ourselves having not obeyed the Great Commission, having not tried to teach lost souls the Gospel of salvation, what do you suppose our Lord will say to us?  If you know the lost need to hear and be taught the Gospel, have you mentioned Him to them?

Our Lord Jesus loves all souls, and wants us to share the Gospel with the lost.  He is interested in our souls and the souls of our families as well.  So we must open our eyes and see the harvest! The harvest is plenty, and there is much labor to do!  We must pray to find opportunities to teach the Gospel in a manner that is worthy of Jesus, for we must teach the Truth properly, for that is the only way it can save (John 8:32).  We must realize the importance of soul-winning, the harvesting of souls (John 4:35).  Evangelism must be as much a part of our lives as breathing air!  We must follow the example of our Lord in evangelism, for He understood the concept of soul winning.  How often do we get discouraged about soul winning because we are unable to see the immediate fruits of our labor?  Just because we don’t see immediate success, does not mean that we have been unsuccessful in preparing the soil for someone else to reap the harvest.  To follow the example of Jesus in evangelism is to rejoice when others build on the work we have done by teaching the Gospel of salvation.  Thus we must learn to be longsuffering where we’re not able to see immediate results or harvest.  Likewise, we must crucify self and be selfless, investing the best of our time in the Lord’s work and rejoice when others reap the harvest.  Our work in the Lord is never in vain!  (1 Cor. 15:58).  Therefore, let us apply Jesus’ wonderful principles of evangelism and learn from His example and the example of the greatest soul winners that we might be more successful in our endeavors!

“You Never Mentioned Him to Me”

When in the better land before the bar we stand,
How deeply grieved our souls may (will) be,
If any lost one there should cry in deep despair,
"You never mentioned Him to me."

O let us spread the word where’er it may be heard,
Help groping souls the light to see,
That yonder none may say, ‘You showed me not the way,
"You never mentioned Him to me."

A few sweet words may guide a lost one to His side,
Or turn sad eyes on Calvary;
So work as days go by, that yonder none may cry,
"You never mentioned Him to me."

 The chorus,
"You never mentioned Him to me; You helped me not the light to see."
"You met me day by day and knew I was astray, Yet never mentioned Him to me."


May we understand that the Great Physician is here among us, to heal those who are woefully ill, that our great Shepherd seeks those who are lost and gently restores them to the flock.  And so we should approach those He brings into our path in the same graceful manner as He did with gentleness, humility and a servant's heart.

Luci