Wrong Ideas

bright-idea

A story of Jesus which shows a dark part of what is in our human nature, and His response to it.

spiritual-warfare
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” When Jesus’ enemies had nothing to use against Him they turned to slander. They couldn’t deny the power He had, so they simply tried to cast doubts on the source of His power and His purpose for using that power.
How often do we see this showing up in our lives today?? We constantly see people resort to slander when honest opposition is helpless. For that matter, today it seems like we will skip the honest opposition and go straight to the slander – even when honest opposition would or could be just as effective. Slander is just easier.

slander-and-gossip
Slander is also cruel. It very often sticks because our human minds tend to think the worst, and we seem to prefer to hear the negative and derogatory rather than the positive or complimentary. “If it bleeds it leads.”
Look at this election cycle. Think about this – those candidates are the best we’ve got. We have the process we have, these mudslinging campaigns simply designed with one thing in mind – to tear down the opposition, because that’s a reflection of what we the people want from our leaders. We want to hear the dirt and get the gossip. We want to hear and know the worst about people. We want to have those conversations in the office and around the water cooler.

kingdom-divided
Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? No kingdom in a civil war can survive. If Satan is giving his power to Jesus to cast out his own demons, then he is finished.
And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. This is a big blow in answer to the slander against Him. There were many exorcists in Palestine during Jesus’ time. Josephus, the great Hebrew historian during the first century, traces this all the way back to Solomon. Part of Solomon’s wisdom was was that he was good with herbs and had invented incantations which drove out demons so they never came back. In his Antiquities of the Jews Josephus states that he had seen Solomon’s methods used successfully in his own day. So, Jesus is striking a dagger in pointing that if He is casting out demons by the power of the devil, then where do their own people who do the same thing get their power from? In condemning Jesus, they condemned themselves.
But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.  Jesus tells them that no, I am not from the devil!! The only way for a strong man to be defeated is for a stronger man to master him. So, if Jesus is casting out demons, instead of proving that he is working with the Prince of demons it shows the Devils stronghold is breached, and his kingdom is coming down. The kingdom of God is here!!
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. There is no neutrality with Jesus. If you stand aside from the right cause you are automatically helping the wrong. You are either on the way, or you are in the way.

blasphemy-against-the-spirit
Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Jesus speaking of the unforgivable sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Every sin and blasphemy against the Spirit can be forgiven, except this one. Why??
Look at this story. The men here are looking at the very face, the very grace, and the very power of God, yet they call it the work of the devil. The Jews (and that was His audience in telling this story) understood God’s Spirit two different ways. It was through His spirit that God showed truth to men, and it was by the action of that spirit in a man’s heart and mind that a man can then recognize and understand that truth.
If we don’t use the gifts we have, they atrophy and eventually we lose them. Just think of the math you learned in high school, or the tip-top physical shape you once might have been in. But it’s use it or lose it, though I once could do calculus now I struggle helping my son with seventh grade math homework.
It’s the same way with the ability to see and recognize God. If we constantly refuse His word, if we always do things our way and shut Him out, we can get to a point where we don’t know Him when we see Him. We can get to the point when we believe evil is good, and good becomes evil. (Sound familiar?). This is what happened to the scribes and Pharisees during Jesus’ time. They had become so blinded doing things their own way, following their own rules and regulations, that they didn’t know God when He was right in front of them. Really, what they were blinded by were their own wrong ideas about God. Their ideas about God were so wrong, that when God Himself stood right in front of them, they called Him the devil!!

washedbythewater_24x48_web
This is the unforgivable sin because once a man reaches this point, repentance is impossible. If he doesn’t even recognize he is sinning, how can he turn away from his sin and back to God? God has not shut him out, his own repeated refusals have shut him out. One thing about this – if you are worried that you’re at this point it means that you are absolutely not at this point, because once a man has committed this sin he is aware of no sin at all.

“Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:22-32‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.12.22-32.esv

John Lewis

The Feast Must Go On!!

feast

“On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” John‬ ‭2:1-11‬ ‭ESV.‬‬

water-into-wine
The first miracle of Jesus as recorded by John. It is very significant that Jesus’ first public appearance, and His first miracle, occurred at a wedding. That should be a ringing endorsement of the importance of that God-given institution in our lives.
Notice that Jesus does not take credit here for the miracle. Apparently the servants knew, but no one else did. It was important not to dishonor the families involved in the wedding, or the guests. Jesus also was able to honor his mothers request and at the same time avoid performing miracles publicly showing His power before His time had come. And Jesus said to her,Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

wedding-feast
He makes this wedding better than before. “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” These feasts would go on for a week, very often the hosts would water down the wine as the week went on to make it last. As the week went on, the guests are less in tune to the decreasing quality of the wine flowing.
Much more than just filling a need, Jesus turned an embarrassment into a blessing. The groom, instead of having to endure a public shaming for running out of wine, is instead publicly honored for his over the top hospitality.
But more than anything else, this is really a miracle-as-parable. The feast must go on. If the wine is gone, the party is over at this wedding. But Jesus keeps the party going, because the celebration must not end. So many people think we must withdraw from the world and abstain from all worldly pleasures in order to be “spiritual”, or in touch with God. But Jesus ministers around the table, turns water into wine, gives us the Lord’s supper and says “….”This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”” ‭Luke‬ ‭22:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

break-bread
He gives us the church as a table, not the church as a temple. He’s inclusive, not exclusive. All are invited to his never ending feast. Sometimes we feel like we are too late, we feel like we’ve missed the party, but the feast goes on and there is always room for more at the table of the Lord.

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If you feel like you’re late to the party, just know that we are ALL late to the the party. It’s been going on for 2000 years now, there’s just nothing we can do about it, this is when we were born. Come to the table, bring your stale, brackish, dirty water. Because Jesus is waiting to turn even your murky water into the sweetest wine.
The feast must go on.

John Lewis

The Battle is Not Yours


Got a little ambitious today. Hopefully it’s worth it.

“And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.” King David leads a storied life in scripture. He is absolutely one of the central characters of the Old Testament. We know the story of David being anointed King by the prophet Samuel. Samuel got word from the Lord – “The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”” ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭16:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬. So Samuel goes to the house of Jesse, and checks over all the impressive, strapping sons Jesse brings before him, seven of his eight sons, one after another. After the first, Eliab, Samuel thinks “That’s the one! “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”” 1 Samuel‬ ‭16:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬. God keeps saying “Nope, nope, not this one, nope..” “Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.”” 1 Samuel‬ ‭16:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Yeah, Jesse’s got one more. But he’s out there tending the sheep, he CAN’T be the one.
“And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.” ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭16:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬. So David was anointed King of Israel. Problem is, Israel already had a King, King Saul. Truth be told, Israel was never supposed to have a King. God was supposed to be their King. But the people of Israel looked with envy in the nations around them, and wanted to be like all the cool kids. They grew tired of serving a King they could not see and had to trust on faith. All the other nations had a King to rule over them, they wanted a mighty King of their own.
So, despite Samuels heated warnings of all the misery a King would bring, the people still demand a King. So God gave them what they wanted, and Saul was anointed King over Israel.
But Saul was corrupt, and ultimately rejected by God as King over his people. And now we get to the anointing of David. The thing is, David gets anointed and nothing happens. He’s still the baby of his family, the runt of the litter. He is simply sent back out to the pastures to tend his sheep.
But a few months later, Israel and the Philistines are back at it. Some of David’s brothers are called to fight, David’s father sends him to take supplies to his brothers. That’s when he sees Goliath, stalking the battle lines, challenging anyone from Israel to fight him man to man. Of course, Goliath is reportedly a giant (9ft 9in tall, but some texts have hi at 6ft 9in, so who really knows??). Nobody takes his challenge.
Of all the stories about David in the bible, this is the one everybody knows. David is shocked no one takes the challenge, and basically says “I’ll do it!” Actually it want more like – “And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”” ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭17:32-36‬ ‭ESV‬‬. David says I’ve killed a lion and a bear, I can take this Philistine!!
So David takes on Goliath. “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” ‭1 Samuel‬ ‭17:45‬ ‭ESV‬‬. He takes on the giant not in his own name, but in the name of the Lord. That’s one thing King David always got right – he always gave all glory to Yahweh.


David takes on the giant – “So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.” ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭17:50-51‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Pretty gory stuff. David killed that giant not once but twice!! Cut off the guys head with his own sword.
“And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.” Okay, it’s been a long time getting here, but here’s a question for you – why did David take that head to Jerusalem? We know Jerusalem as the great city of Israel, but at this time Jerusalem was a Jebusite city. It did not belong to Israel. King Saul’s kingdom was centered at Hebron.
So why would he go out of his way to take that head all the way to Jerusalem? Was he staking his claim? Was that his own personal declaration that, HEY!, I’m being called to this place. I’ve got business to do there. Something big is going to happen here, and I’m going to be a part of it!!??
It wasn’t until 15 years later that David was anointed again, and at the age of 30 he was made King of Judah. Finally, at 37 David became king of all Israel, anointed by God for the third time. And just what is the first thing David does upon becoming king of Israel?
“And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, that is, Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. The inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You will not come in here.” Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. David said, “Whoever strikes the Jebusites first shall be chief and commander.” And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, so he became chief. And David lived in the stronghold; therefore it was called the city of David. And he built the city all around from the Millo in complete circuit, and Joab repaired the rest of the city. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord of hosts was with him.” ‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭11:4-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Finally, David has Jerusalem. After staking his claim with the head of Goliath 20+ years earlier, the Lord was with him and he took the great city. God was with David from that point on, staying faithful even during times when David strayed and sinned. And just as he made a covenant with Abraham, God made his covenant with David.


“Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.'” In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.” ‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭7:8-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬. So the covenant was made with David that his house would be established forever.
David had it set in his mind to build a temple. But God, just like he never wanted Israel to have a King, was never interested in having a temple built. Just before he anoints David He says – “But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”‘” ‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭7:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬. God never asked for a temple to be built. In fact, in His covenant with David, He says that a son of David will be the one to build His temple. This was because of the blood and sin that David had on his hands.
So David had a son, Solomon (which means “peaceable”). Solomon was the wisest man on earth, praised by God for praying for wisdom above all else. And Solomon famously built a temple for the Lord, fulfilling this promise to David, right? On face value, sure. It’s plain, right there in the scriptures, Solomon the peaceful son of David the warrior King, fulfilling that promise to build the temple which would last forever.
Except the temple did not last forever. It fell about 600 BC, was rebuilt on a smaller scale about a century later, then rebuilt in much greater glory than ever by one of the later kings, only to be finally destroyed (as Jesus predicted) around AD 70.


Not only did the temple not last forever, but Solomon had his own faults. He appeared to fulfill the promise to his father, but in so many ways he failed his charge. First of all – he built the temple with slave labor, eventually even using Hebrew slaves in building God’s temple. He also built his own palace, much larger than the temple he built God. He built a standing army, something specifically prohibited for Israel in the Torah. He built a harem. He built temples to foreign gods to satisfy his 700 wives!!
Really, what Solomon built was Egypt. God had led His people through the exodus, through the centuries, trying to form them into His people. And they simply devolved into the very people he led them to freedom from.
So, how does the New Testament begin? “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David. So here is the point – Jesus is the TRUE son of David, the stump of Jesse, of whom all those promises were made.
David wanted to build a temple, God said NO, you have blood on your hands, a son of yours will build my temple. Everybody thought Solomon was that son, but NO, Solomon got off track, built the temple to Yahweh AND all those other Gods, got blood on his own hands, and the temple built by Solomon DID NOT last forever. But Jesus is the true son of God building the temple (Hid church) that will last forever.


The apostle John tells us “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Jesus came not to DO the works of the devil as Solomon did, but DESTROY the works of the devil!! But He would not be beheading anyone. Jesus had the same temptation as David, the same temptation as Solomon. The devil took him out there in the wilderness and offered Him His Kingdom right then and there, through the same forces of might and power – “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'”” Matthew‬ ‭4:8-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬. He was tempted again on Mt. Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion, “And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”” Luke‬ ‭22:41-46‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Jesus resisted the temptation to force and power, to blame and accusation. He could have given in, could have simply killed Pontius Pilate and avoided the cross. That was the temptation as He was sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus could have become just another host for the Satanic virus of sin and death, blame and violence, but Jesus would not do it. He came to destroy the works of the devil, not do the works of the devil. So He instead went to the cross, bearing upon himself our sins of blame and violence. He conquered the Goliath of sin and death, shame and violence. He carried them into hell, shook them off, and came back on the third day not seeking revenge but opening the doors to the New Jerusalem to lead us in.


Everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. If you are fighting a battle with Goliath, something so big you can not conquer, know that the battle is not yours, but the Lords.
Jesus once had this conversation with his opponents – “Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”‘? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭22:41-46‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Understand that Jesus was pointing out that David called his son “Lord” because his son who would come after him would be much greater than he.
Jesus is that son. You don’t have to be David. You don’t have to get your stones and slingshot. Jesus is the son of David who is greater than David. He is the one fighting our battles. When you’re fighting a Goliath that you’re afraid of, the battle is not yours, but the Lords. David was drawn to Jerusalem, the city of God. He carried Goliaths head up there 20 years before it was even an Israelite city. We have Jesus to fight Goliath for us, and He leads us into His New Jerusalem, His city of peace.
The Battle is not yours. All you have to do is trust. You’re not Jesus. You’re not the savior, but you have a savior.

John Lewis

At the Table

feast

It has been said that twenty five percent of everything that happens in the Gospels of Jesus Christ happens around a table. I’ve also heard it said that for Christians church is like a banquet around a table. We might look at our church as a temple, but that would be wrong. At least I hope it’s wrong. The temple was exclusive. It had many different layers.
First of all, everyone who entered had to be ceremonially “clean.” So no leper, no one who had touched a dead body, no woman who was on her fun time was allowed in. Then there was a first layer inside the temple, where Gentiles might be allowed in. But past that first layer, no more Gentiles. Maybe a little farther, no ore slaves. Then go a little farther in, women are not allowed. Women are not as holy as men. A little farther in, only certain priests are not allowed. Finally, all the way in, you would get to the holy-of-holies, and only one high priest each year would be allowed in to commune with God, once a year.
There were lots of rules, lots of systems that were used to keep people out. As a matter of fact, what made the temple “holy” were all the things which were not allowed. Exclusive, not inclusive. If you weren’t the right ethnicity, the right tribe, the right sex, the right family line, you were only going to be allowed so far in.

day-of-the-lord
The prophet Isaiah saw that this would not stand forever. He saw a time coming when all would be welcome at the table of the Lord. On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. On this mountain (Mt Zion, Jerusalem), the Lord will prepare a feast for ALL people. It will be inclusive, not exclusive. Isaiah is not beholden to ethnicity, to social class, to status. And did you miss this – On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Wow. Seven hundred years before Christ Isaiah is telling us that the burial shroud will be removed and death will be defeated, all in the shadow of Mt Zion, accompanied by the feast for ALL peoples. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his peopleʼs disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” That’s some good stuff right there!! So on the mountain, at the table prepared by the Lord almighty, the shroud is coming off, death will be defeated, all the tears will be wiped away, and we will rejoice in the Lord and be glad in His salvation.
So, seven hundred years later, at the end of a longer question about how many will be saved (aren’t we still trying to answer that one?), Jesus tells us this – “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” People will come. They will come from the north, south, east and west. So many will come y’all will be trying to keep ’em out! People will come, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.

break-bread

“Recline at table” – this is how they ate. We eat sitting upright in a chair, during Jesus time you reclined at the table, propped up in your left elbow, eating with your right hand. People will come from all around to recline at the table, to join the feast, in the Kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last. And guess what? The question asked was ….“Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”…‭‭Luke‬ ‭13:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬. Jesus, quite plainly, answers by saying “Boy, are you going to be surprised. A lot of those you thought weren’t coming…are. And many you thought were coming…aren’t.” We think we know who’s being invited to the feast, but we don’t. But, we do know that there is a feast.

bloof-shed-for-you
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Stop. Read that again. Jesus desired to eat this Passover meal with His disciples before He suffered. But He will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God. Jesus at the last supper, instituting for us the Lords supper. Starting the feast which we are still enjoying and eating from today. And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” The breaking of the bread, the shedding of the blood. The table around which our Christian lives are, or at least should be, centered. The feast which never ends. And where is this happening? In Jerusalem, on Mt Zion. Just as Isaiah told us seven hundred years prior. But – Jesus said I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. So, does that mean He’s been on a two thousand year fast?

kingdom-of-heaven
Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.” No, He has not been on a two thousand year fast. He was on a three day fast. Just as Isaiah predicted, the shroud is lifted, death has been defeated, and a feast had been prepared for ALL people by the Lord almighty.  The Day of the Lord is here, the Kingdom of God is announced.   He saved us, He is our God, we trust in Him. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation. Who is welcome at His table? Everyone!! And who are we eating with when we come to the feast He began two thousand years ago. We are eating with God Himself. And you just can’t get any more holy than that.
Let us come to His table and break bread.

“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his peopleʼs disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.””

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭25:6-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/isa.25.6-9.niv

“And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭13:29-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/luk.13.29-30.esv
“And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:14-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/luk.22.14-20.esv

“Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.”

‭‭John‬ ‭21:1-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/jhn.21.1-14.nlt
John Lewis

A Hard Heart

dark-heart

A very short parable from Jesus about being in the light, and more to the point, about being the light of the world. Pay attention, you’ve probably read this before but missed what I think is the point.
No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Yes, we are to be a light to the world. After meeting Christ, we are to share the Good News we’ve discovered, share the change in our life and heart, both by speaking about it and through our way of living, being a light for all to see. If you’ve met the savior of the world and have asked Him into your heart, His love should be flowing out of you. You now know the truth of the love of Jesus Christ and God the Father, part of loving people in the Great Commandment must be sharing that truth with others.

lamp-of-the-body
Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Now this is setting up the real point of what Jesus is telling us. I could talk about the health benefits for your soul of what your eye is looking at, how if you are choosing to look at the wrong things with your eye, it brings darkness into your soul. That might be part of the point here as well, but really I think Jesus is just using the health of the eye for a bigger point he’s about to bring.

inner-light
Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light. The light of the body depends on the eye. If the eye is healthy, we get all the light we need. But if the eye is diseased, we can wind up blind and living in darkness. But here’s the point – The light of your life depends on your heart. If your heart is right, your whole life will shine with light. If your heart is wrong, your whole life is darkened. Jesus here is urging us to keep our hearts right, to keep our inner lamps burning and useful for putting on a stand and shining for the world.
Our hearts, our inner light, can be darkened many ways. One way is to harden your heart. Think about your hands. If you work in an office all time, never getting your hands dirty, then decide to take on a major mechanical project, there’s a good chance we might irritate our hands and develop painful blisters. But if you keep doing that kind of work, we develop callouses, our skin is hardened, and it doesn’t bother us to do that any more.

callosued-hands

It’s the same way with sin. The first time you do a wrong thing, the first step you take down a wrong path, you know it. Your heart is racing, you might be very nervous. You might feel guilty afterwards. But the more you keep repeating that sin, that wrong thing, it gets easier and easier. Before long, you are still doing something you know us wrong, it just doesn’t bother you anymore. That is the terrible hardening power of sin. You never take that first step without warning bells going off in your heart. But if you do it often enough, you will no longer care that you are doing wrong. That sin we were afraid to do has become a habit, and we are never the same. And once we reach this stage, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

let-your-light-shine
Maybe your heart has just become dull. Things that once bothered you, no longer bother you. Like passing the homeless in the street, driving by horrible accident scenes on the highway, or seeing a sex and violence in a movie. The first time you see something like this, it leaves a mark. But the more you see of these types of things, the less they affect your heart. It might bother us at first to see suffering and pain in the world, but the more we see it, the more we accept it and the less it bothers us.

So it is with the word of God. The first time we hear it, we may be moved by it. We might almost want to accept the free gift being offered. But maybe we don’t, we tell ourselves we will do that later. Except the next time we hear it, it just doesn’t affect us anymore. And then the more we’ve resisted, the less chance we are affected the next time we hear the Good News. Our hearts become dull to that as well.
Or maybe we just have a rebellious heart. Very often a man knows what us right and deliberately chooses wrong anyway. How many people feel God tug on their collar only to pull away? It can be with eyes wide open that we run for the hills when God is calling us home.

heart-is-the-inner-light
God save us all from our dark hearts.  Keep your heart healthy and let you light shine for the world to see.

“”No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭11:33-36‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/luk.11.33-36.esv

John Lewis

Transformation

butterfly

“I met Jesus 20 years ago and I haven’t changed a thing that I believe since then!” Do you know anyone like this?  Is this you?   Did you became a Christian, “get saved”, and no matter how long it’s been, six months, two years, five, seven, ten, twenty, thirty years, you’ve gone through life and not changed anything else about your beliefs or the way you view the world around you? Have you checked that salvation box, changed your destination to heaven from hell and just gone on about your life, calling yourself a Christian based on what you believe is your final destination?
This describes more of us than we might like to admit. Because this really is the goal of many who “come to Christ” isn’t it, to be saved? Problem is, when you come to Christ, He doesn’t want to simply change your destination.  To Him, that’s not what salvation, or “The Kingdom of God”, is all about.

heaven

That’s mostly what we’re all about, we want to come to Christ and change our final resting place, make sure we don’t wind up in that lake of fire, but we don’t want to change anything else. But when you come to Jesus, when you follow Christ, what He really wants to change is YOU. I’m going to use Peter as an example, because Peter is just out there in the New Testament, isn’t he?

making-you
“And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you…”” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The call if Jesus to His first disciples. We want to skip to the end, make sure His Fathers house has many rooms and if He wasn’t preparing a room for us he wouldn’t tell us these things, right? But the call of Jesus here is Follow me, and I will make you…He doesn’t say he’s going to take us anywhere, but that He’s going to make us into something new, something better than we are.
So, let’s look again, about three years after the call is put on Peter’s life.“Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.” Luke‬ ‭22:54‬ ‭ESV‬‬. We are always so hard on Peter here, aren’t we? After all, should he have been following closer? Shouldn’t he have been fighting for his Lord, the one he correctly identified as the Christ, the Messiah of Israel? Of course he should have. But here’s the thing about Peter – he may not have always followed perfectly, but at least he’s still following. All the rest of the disciples (except for John) had fled and scattered. They were long gone. But Peter is still following. It’s not about following perfectly, but sometimes it’s just about staying on the path when things are getting tough and everyone else is running away.

do-you-love-me-more-than-these.jpg
A few weeks later – “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”” ‭‭ John‬ ‭21:15-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬. That breakfast with Jesus after Peter had decided to go fishing (after all this whole apostle thing just wasn’t going to work out, was it? Three times denying Jesus, then He goes and gets crucified, right?). Then Jesus shows up on the shore and leads them to the fish.

It’s the first time Peter has seen the resurrected Christ, and it’s probably uncomfortable isn’t it? Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? Not do you love me more than you love all the rest of your friends here, but do you love me more than they do? Because that’s the claim Peter made before Jesus was arrested and crucified. “”Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:31-34‬ ‭ESV‬‬. So Jesus told Peter he would fail, and of course Peter response, “I don’t know about these jokers, but I’m with you to the end!!” And if course we know, cock a doodle do. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” Follow me. The call is given again, reconfirmed. But notice what he’s calling him to. Never forget we must take up our cross and follow Him. He tells Peter that he will die a death by crucifixion, a death so tortuous and painful they had to create a word – excruciating – just to describe it, and says “Follow me.” And here’s the thing – Peter hears this, knows exactly what he’s telling him, yet Peter follows anyway.

giordano_luca-crucifixion_of_st_peter
Ten years later – Peter is still following. “The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.” Through all of his trials and tribulations, ups and downs, one thing Peter never failed at was keeping kosher. So on this sheet Peter sees all this food that he was not allowed to eat by the Mosaic law, food Peter had never eaten. Pork, shrimp, scallops, crabs, maybe a little rabbit, BACON!! Of course, Peter says “NO WAY!! I’m not eating that stuff. I’ve kept kosher my whole life, you’re not fooling me!” To which he is told “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 

clean-food
Next there is a knock on Peter’s door. A centurion had been called by God to send for Peter, and they had come to see him. “And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.”” Acts‬ ‭10:19-22‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Quite the day Peter is having. You see, another part of staying kosher was that Peter had NEVER set foot in a gentile house.  He had never shared a meal with a non-Jew.   So now, he’s had his vision from God showing him it was ok to have a bacon shrimp barbecue crab feast, and now some Gentiles were at the door inviting him over for dinner. So what’s he going to do?
Peter went with the men, and the gospel got preached that day to the Gentiles. “So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭10:34-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Peter had to open his mind to some big changes. God had showed him it was ok to eat that gentile food, and then also to go take His Good News directly to those Gentiles.

But not everyone thought it was a good thing. Not everyone thought salvation was for all people.  “Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” But Peter began and explained it to them in order:” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭11:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬. There were some unhappy church people who had heard what Peter was up to. We know these people, don’t we? Imagine what they’re saying – “That Peter – he thinks just anybody can come into our church doesn’t he? Doesn’t even believe they should convert to Judaism before receiving Christ. EVERYBODY knows salvation is only for the Jews!! He’s compromising. What is he, some kind of liberal??!!”

holy-spirit

But Peter began and explained it to them in order: So Peter had to lay it down to these good church people – “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭11:15-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Well, would you look at that?? The Holy Spirit came on those Gentiles just like it came onto the disciples and all the converts they had won over before. And just who was Peter to stand in the way? Or the rest of these good church members? If God is going to move in that way, who are they to stand in the way?  Who are we??
So Peter stayed on the journey. He continued to follow Jesus, even when he was being led places he NEVER thought he’d go. He came to accept what he was shown by God. He accepted the Gentiles as Gentiles into the church, because that is what Jesus, his Lord, led him to do.
We want salvation to be yes or no, in or out. All we really care about is the destination. But salvation is much more than saying a prayer and checking a box. The apostle Paul tells us to “….work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Your salvation is a process, a journey. We want it to just be about the destination, but if we are following Jesus then it’s much more than a destination. If you are following Jesus then what is being saved is YOU.
Following Jesus is much less about your final destination and much more about who it is that you are walking with. Would it have been better for Peter to have said “I’ve been following Jesus for thirteen years and haven’t changed a thing since”? Of course not. Good thing for all of us, Peter followed Jesus and carried his word to those Gentiles. Because we’re all Gentiles.

no-colored-allowed-black-americana-cast-iron-sign-10x4_220665307171
We have our own groups that we don’t like. For our grandparents, maybe it was the Japs, the Germans, the Jews. Or maybe they didn’t like blacks.

muslim

For us, maybe we don’t like Muslims. Or gays. Or whatever group it is we’ve grown up thinking of as “those people”.
As Christians, the only thing that is un-changeable is our faith in Jesus. But – “Faith in Jesus makes everything else changeable” – Pastor Brian Zahnd.

gay-pride-flag-facebook
We need to be willing to change as we follow Christ. Lucky for us, Peter did. What beliefs and feelings have changed in you since you met Christ?  In what ways are you different because of your walk with Jesus?
Maybe you haven’t changed a thing.  Maybe you met Jesus, got saved, and now you don’t have to change anything else.  Maybe you’re just “good with God!”

But really, if you’ve been following Christ and nothing else has changed in your life and heart, are you sure it’s Christ you’ve been following?

‭‭

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mrk.1.17.esv
“Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:54‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/luk.22.54.esv
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.””

‭‭John‬ ‭21:15-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/jhn.21.15-19.esv
“The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭10:9-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/act.10.9-16.esv
“So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭10:34-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/act.10.34-35.esv
“Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” But Peter began and explained it to them in order:”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭11:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/act.11.1-4.esv
“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.””

‭‭Acts‬ ‭11:15-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/act.11.15-18.esv

John Lewis

A Man and his Demon

evil-spirits

Looking at a short parable of Jesus with big implications for all of us. The story of a man and his demon…

drug-addiction
When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. This man had a demon, some kind of a hurt, habit, or hang up which he has kicked out of his life and claimed personal victory over. The thing about our demons is that they never rest, they are always ready to creep back in if we open the door a crack, if we have that moment of weakness, when we fall to the lie that this time I can handle it. I can take that drink. I can take that pill – after all, my back hurts. I’ll have that cigarette – it’s just one! What’s it going to hurt to sit at that poker table?

gambling-addiction-treatment
Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. Here is a basic truth of life – a man can not leave his soul empty. You can not just give up old “bad” habits, give up your evil thoughts and old ways of living, and just leave your soul and your mind empty. An empty soul is always in danger. You’ve got to fill a man with something, but as Paul tells us – “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬. It’s not enough to drive out evil – good must come in.

do-not
Another basic truth – Christianity can not be just a religion of negatives. So many churches spend so much time focusing on all the things they believe we can not do. A newcomer trying to find a better way of living might very fairly ask “Well, just what can I do?” And unless we tell him, unless we give him something to do, then we are condemning him to idleness, and Satan is very good at giving idle hands something to do. And the man will be worse off than before.

being-filled-with-the-holy-spirit
The best way to avoid evil is to do good. If you have a flower garden, it’s not enough just to pull up the weeds. You have sow and plant more flowers to fill up the space, or the weeds will keep coming back worse than before. So it is with our minds. It is never enough to tell ourselves “I will not think about that anymore. I won’t drink anymore. I won’t look at that website, I won’t drive past my dealers house anymore.” When we do this, we just think more and more about what we are trying to avoid. We’ve kicked out our demon, but our soul is just empty. We have to fill our life with something else. Fill our minds with God’s word, fill our time with service. We never become good, righteous, by not doing things, but only by filling our souls, minds and time with good.
So also will it be with this evil generation. This might be the simplest, yet most profound part of this short story. Many of those hearing Jesus speak had rejected His bringing of the Kingdom of God. Rejecting His offer of grace leaves an empty space in our souls that demons will quickly fill.
So many today are seeking God. They are looking for anything “spiritual” to fill the empty void they just feel and know is there. Yet they continue to reject the claims of Christianity. Aldous Huxley once said – “I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.” We are searching, but we want to be able to do it our way. But when we reject the spirit of Christ in our souls, we leave all that space for the demons to come. It seems as though Jesus is saying that if we hear His word and reject it – we are worse off than before we heard it. Those demons are waiting.

“”When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:43-45‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.12.43-45.esv

John Lewis