With our words

Matthew 12:33-37 Jesus continues to speak to the religious leaders. They have just said that Jesus is driving demons out by the power of Beezelbub, the prince of demons. I wanted to explain that so we can understand the tone of what Jesus will say next.

“33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

By our words we will be acquitted.

In Romans 10:9-10 we read this: ” If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. “

I don’t want to oversimplify salvation. Confession and belief. It is with the words we say that we will be saved, along with belief that Jesus rose from the dead.

Entering into a relationship with Jesus is simple. Maintenance of that relationship and growth in the knowledge of Jesus and how best to live, isn’t easy.

It’s like buying a car (or a truck, shout out to my truck Rusty, winter’s over and the hiway is calling buddy).

The purchase of the car and ownership of the car are not the same. Once the car is ours it becomes our responsibility to fuel it and regularly maintain it. If we don’t, that car will cease to function. Either it will run out of fuel or it will break from lack of maintenance. Once we are in relationship with Jesus we need to maintain that relationship. We need to spend time with him in prayer and reading the Bible, spend time with other Christians, Christians with a deeper faith that we can learn from, and ones with a newer faith than ours to help them with life.

The analogy breaks down when we look at the purchase. We aren’t buying our relationship with Jesus, rather he bought us. He bought us back from slavery to sin and death. He paid with his life by dying on the cross for us. He rose again from the dead guaranteeing us eternal life.

“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

My biggest fear in writing these posts is that I will give incorrect or incomplete information about who Jesus is. I want the world to know him and believe in him. Believe today that Jesus died for our sins and 3 days later he rose from dead and is now alive forever.

It’s with our words that we will either be acquitted or condemned and today is good day to be acquitted.

Binary

In a binary numbering system there are only two numbers, 1 & 0. If a number is not 1 then it’s a..0.

Binary, on or off, yes or no.

Is Jesus my savior? 1 I mean yes.

It turns out that for the Jesus question there are only 2 answers. Our culture has told us that there are three possibilities , yes, no and ‘?’. Or a fill in the blank.

Matthew 12 has this story.

“22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

These verses have a lot in them. I have focused on one verse.

“30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. “

There will be a test in this. It is not an essay test. It is not multiple choice. It is a true or false binary 1 or 0 question.

I see it like this: i wake up dead. I am in a blue room, well it feels like a room but there are no walls, just blue. I am seated at a desk. It has a sheet of paper on it with this question.

Do I accept what Jesus did, his death, as payment for my sin? 1 = yes, 0 = no.

In front of me there is a screen with all of my sins being played out in a loop. So many. I cringe as I watch. Shame wells up, remorse, regret all wash over me.

Interspersed in the video of my sins is a video of Jesus death. I see him Being flogged, the crown of thorns, the huge heavy wooden cross that they drop on his whipped and raw shoulder. I see his trek up to the top of the hill carrying his cross, I see the nails hammered into his hands and feet, as they stand it up I see the bottom of the cross dropping into its hole, I see his body slammed against the nails. I watch him slowly die. I hear his words, “father forgive them…” then, “it is finished”. He looks at me with compassion and love and mercy.

I write a 1.

Because he died but rose again, as soon as I finish my test the blue melts away to the roar of people all around me praising God and Jesus himself welcoming me home.

1 or 0. Yes or no.

We can take the test now, today. We can fill in the answer today. I don’t know if we get the chance after we die. I made that up. I know that we can choose now. Today is the only day we can count on or do anything in. Today. 1 or 0.

Not extinguished

It could just be the daylight savings time blues. I’m feeling like a smoldering wick and a bruised reed.

Good news for me is found in Matthew 12.

“15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. 16 He warned them not to tell others about him. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19 He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
20 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
21 In his name the nations will put their hope.”[b]’

Jesus cares about the lowliest of us. He will meet us where we are. I don’t have to be a flowering vine or a mighty oak for him to care about me. Even the bruised reed gets his attention.

When God breaks the sabbath

John 7

God on trial

“Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”’

The Pharisees were angry with Jesus because he “worked” on the sabbath by healing an invalid who had been crippled for 38 years, and he told that man to break the sabbath by carrying his mat home.

How dare God break the sabbath rest rule. What was the law?

“8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Interpreting this law of God fell to the leaders of Israel.

Rest became a job for the Jewish people. I don’t have the specifics but I heard recently that stipulation was that you couldn’t wear false teeth because it constituted carrying a burden.

The people were so concerned with keeping Gods laws that they lost touch with the God who gave them the laws. The laws weren’t put in place to drive us away or to drive us crazy but to drive into the arms of God who loves us.

Jesus has come to set us free, not from the rules but from our failure to keep the rules. We can’t keep the rules. He can, he did, he died to pay for our breaking them.

Spring cleaning

What if Jesus showed up at the door to the museum of our life and asked for a tour? The museum is the store house of our memories, the place where our motives and motivation are kept, where our world view rests. Would our tour sound like this?

“Welcome Jesus to the museum of my life. You may look but do not touch. Please stay on the well marked pathway during the tour. Jesus you are welcome here but please do not alter or change anything, I like my life the way it is”.

What if at the end of the tour Jesus made some suggestions for changes to improve our life? Remove this, add that, clear out an entire area, change the focus of our world view?

Matthew 12 has another story about Jesus shaking up the religious establishments view on their rules.

“9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.”

It’s very easy to see how the religious leaders were wrong here. I keep wondering what other messages should this story be telling me?

So I imagined Jesus coming to me. My life. Bearing all of my life to him. Immediately I think of things that I don’t want him to see. Then I ask myself, why are they there? If Jesus shouldn’t see them, then why are they still in my life? Is there anger or resentment that I’ve been hiding? Why don’t I let Him wash that out of me? What about my little room of guilty pleasures? Not outright wrong, or the little closet of secret sins? Wouldn’t it be nice to do some spring cleaning and purge that all away? The weight of guilt and shame, overwhelming for me,but not for Jesus. He can cleanse those all away.

Is Jesus welcome in my life? Yes. Generally speaking. What if he asks me to change something?

Jesus is the Lord of the sabbath. He is that because he created it. He created. Everything that exists, exists because of him. He is the author and architect of life. He created me. He knows what is best for me because he knows what he created me for.

Back to the tour.

Today Jesus is at the door of the museum of my life. I am handing him the keys and saying, “Jesus, welcome to my life. It is a mess. I’m tired of the gunk and junk, please help me clean it up and clean it out”. Just over his shoulder I see a dumpster labeled Sin Disposal. That is a welcome sight. All of my sins forgiven.

Today not only will be forgiven of sins committed by me, I will also be forgiving sins against me.

Time for some spring cleaning in my museum.

The day of stop

Where was Jesus when God was giving the the 10 commandments to Moses?

We read in John 1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.”

Jesus was with God as God gave Moses the law.

Matthew 12 shows us the spiritual leaders of the day explaining the law to the author of it.

“12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”’

I have a personal law or rule that I try to follow.

Do not put your hand in a toilet bowl.

It’s a good rule. Toilet bowls are nasty. I’ve seen what I deposit in there and can only imagine what others have done.

I broke my own rule the other night. Sometimes you just have to. A family member had a toilet that was plugged and the plunger wasn’t getting it done. I used a snake. It was cold and unpleasant but I got it un-stopped.

My rule is to keep me safe from germs. I broke it for a higher reason. To help.

Jesus, the author of the rules, the Lord of the sabbath, reminds us
that the sabbath wasn’t invented so that we could have a rule to follow. It was put in the set of rules to give us a day of stop. A day of stop. Stop and rest.

I Think of my daily drive and of the one place that I have to stop that doesn’t make any sense. In the beginning there was no stop sign there. But then one day, maybe several days, two cars collided and someone was hurt. The wise leadership decided to put a stop sign there to keep people safe. Keep collisions from happening.

In my own heart I want to rebel against that stop sign but it’s intent is to keep me safe. My heart is cesspool of either rebellion or rule enforcement. I want to blow through the stop sign but pity the fool who does blow through it on my watch. I want to break the rule myself but I want it enforced on everyone else.

Sometimes we use the rules around us to control or condemn others. That’s not what they are there for. Gods rules are there to guide us, bless us and keep us safe.

Here’s a rule to follow: Jesus said
Love one another as I have loved you. How has he loved us? Sacrificially.

Are we there yet?

To sum up:

Jesus wrote the rules.

Keep our hands out of the toilet bowl unless it would help others more than it will hurt us to get our hands dirty.

Stop signs are there to bless us.

Stop days are there to bless us.

Jesus loves us. Jesus is merciful.

Be like Jesus. Learn mercy.

To whom shall we go?

John 6

The miracles aren’t the main thing

“60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)”

My pastor says this often, the problem with life is its so daily. I live my life day by day and the challenges, especially the spiritual challenges are there every day.

The next day After Jesus fed the 5000 they were all hungry again. At the wedding when the water turned into wine was gone people got thirsty again.

The miracles were not to change the world, the miracles were to point to the one who could change a heart.

The miracles that Jesus performed weren’t an end in themselves. They were to point to Jesus otherness, his holiness. Yes he did grow up down the street but his origins were from eternity, not Galilee.

Not everyone could see past the miracles to the God/man who was before all time and who could build a bridge from a sin filled existence to an eternity with God.

The disciples saw it and Peter said it. ““Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”’

To whom shall we go? Is there another offer? A better offer? An offer with a brighter future than an eternity with a holy God?

To whom shall we go?