Tag Archives: pharisees

Clean Hands and a Pure Heart

Psalms 24 – I don’t normally post twice in one week, but Psalm 24’s message of clean hands & a pure heart compel me to do so. The author asks us some questions – Who may ascend to the hill of the LORD – in other words who can come to the LORD’s Temple – thinking of Jerusalem and Temple Mount. The Jews had a very rigid practice of ceremonially “washing” in large vats to cleanse themselves before worship. Coming to the Temple – more importantly before the LORD’s sanctuary, people did not nonchalantly rush into the presence of the LORD. “Who may stand in His holy place?” The second question makes us evaluate if we are worthy to stand in his presence. Thinking of God on His throne; who is worthy & righteous, holy or without guile to stand before the Holiness of God Almighty [El Shaddai]? Of course the rhetorical questions have the same answer 0 no one. I believe that we have made worship all about us, rather than about God and His majestic power and love. I hear too much about people wanting to “feel” the Spirit. If a person knows the Lord Jesus Christ – they should already KNOW the Spirit and not need to “feel” the Spirit.  Feelings lie all the time to us; they cannot be trusted to verify a godly experience. If we are to “approach the House of the LORD; if we are to come into His presence,” we must be cleansed and pure.

I am not sure how many believers think about what they are doing when the “go to church.” Usually there has been a lot of activity and emotions in trying to get the family ready on time. We come sliding into the pew and are no more ready to worship than the man on the moon – then the music guy is trying to “pump us up to sing louder” – truthfully I’m not ready to sing many times until after the song service is over. As a pastor I love hearing the wonderful worship songs and the genuine praise of people toward God – I’m just not sure it is accomplished by strobe lights and fog machines!

We must have clean hands – I never was allowed to c

“come to the dinner table” with dirty hands. I hand to “get ready to eat.” Washing my face and hands was my responsibility – of course I got inspected and if I was not clean I had to do it over. The Holy Spirit is our guide to us, letting us know whether we are really cleansed for worship [dining with the Father]. I have noticed that my hand naturally get dirty when I walk around in this world. I don’t have to handle dirty or mud to get dirty. When I do have “dirt” [sin] that i must deal with, well it takes more than running water over my hands!

The second requirement to WORSHIP the LORD is to have a “pure heart.” I take this to mean that I am right with God and mankind. Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. God knows our motives and attitude – If I regard iniquity in my HEART, He [God] will not hear me. Verse 4 gets more specific – one who has not lifted his soul to falsehood – in other words not a hypocrite, not a liar! I have witnessed people who intentionally lied about who they are, pretending to be something they are not.  We can be liars by the way we behave, our actions will tell whether we are pure or not. There is work to be done before coming before the Holy God of our salvation. If we do the work of “getting ready” the dinner/presence of the LORD will be most enjoyable!

If we are honest with ourselves, and come clean with the Lord our God, there is great mercy and forgiveness in His love. The Pharisees made Temple worship about them; pretending to be religious and holy – Jesus knew better. His response was  Woes pronounced on them, and a warning to us not to be taken in by their hypocrisy.  Let’s get ready for TRUE WORSHIP of the KING OF KINGS!

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Parousia, Parables and Prayer

I actually will start with parables. Jesus brings many parables in His style of teaching. before discussing any parables in our Luke 14-18 chapters; we need to clarify that Parables have one central message or point. To try to make some significance to all the details of a parable takes away from the desired intent of the writer.

In Luke there is several parables of interest, especially in Luke 15, where we find a number of “Lost Parables.” I have preached on these a number of times, and each time I find something new. The context of Luke 15 is the tax collectors and sinners coming to Jesus. The Pharisees protest [grumble] that He should allow such. Jesus then enters into His three parables about lostness. The reader must be reminded that Jesus came to the sick, not the healthy. The point of lostness goes from 100-1, 10-1 and 2-1 odds. The point Jesus is trying to make is that in each case the return of the Lost was met with celebration and joy. The Pharisees, are appalled that sinners are allowed to come to Jesus. The Pharisees represent the “older brother ” of the Lost Son. While the Father [God] is rejoicing over the return of the son, the Pharisees are put off because they haven’t had a blow out celebration – and they have been there all the time [not really, just self-interest]. Jesus is interested in those that are the outcasts, the undesirables and the broken of life. Churches often take the attitude of the older brother, detesting any kind of celebration over a broken sinner – dirty as they are to be counted as part of the Family of God.

The Parables earlier in Luke 14, have to do with pride and people who think they are above the rest. The glaring and embarrassing wedding where a person was asked to step down from a prestigious place to give to another, reflects that we ought to be humble, not arrogant and thinking that because we are Believers – that we are all that and a bag of chips better than everyone else.  Jesus continues to bring parable after parable about life situations – only problem is that the Apostles/disciples understand what Jesus is saying. There is an underlying theme within these chapters – the broken, blind, lame, diseased and crippled are the ones Jesus came to heal. The arrogance of the religious leaders is very prominent in these parables. Twice [Luke 14:11 & 81:14] Luke tells us that exalted will be humble and the humbled will be exalted.

In chapter 17, most of the time the Parousia is looked at, while the fact Jesus is coming back is real, it seems that in three cases life was normal. Instead of looking and preparing for the Return; life went on as usual. I find it interesting that so many are trying to declare that the conditions in America and the American churches are proof that we are on the imminent threshold of Jesus’ return, yet few are doing anything about it – so I doubt if they really care about the Lost that will be going to Hell. It’s almost like a “I got my ticket, forget everyone else.”

Two verses that are very interesting are verse 9 and 16. In verse 9 we find that there should not be expected praise for that which was normal obedience. Example – I never got praised for doing the assigned chores around the house, why should I be praised for doing what is expected – no glory seekers in Heaven allowed. Second is verse 16, the Ten Lepers healing, as we know only one returned; the identification of the one being a Samaritan – obviously the others were Jews, but only the outcast Samaritan returned. The Jews probably felt they deserved to be healed, whereas the Samaritan was overjoyed to be included in the healing.

The last part of this blog looks at the Prayer of the Pharisee and the Publican. Again we have the contrast between the two attitudes. The Pharisee actually gloated over his “self-righteousness” and expected God to be pleased with his performance. But the Publican [tax collector] couldn’t lift his head, for he knew what manner of man he was, and had no place to boast. I find the pharisee prayers in the church all the time, we pray, not out of need but as to tell God how good church members we are. One who is fully aware of their sin, will not approach Church or the presence of God is a flippant manner.

Statement for the week: The World is obviously broke; but that is nothing new. The Church is also broke, for it has forgotten its place and ministry; the problem isn’t the World – for it is acting out only what it is; but the Church has no excuse for acting the way it is with it often pompous arrogance. The Church is broke – but it needs to be Broken! Broken over self-righteousness and the lost dying and going into eternity without Christ.

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The Jesus Ministry

The chapters of Luke 9-13 are filled with so many kinds of topics, it is difficult to settle on one theme. Our reading begins with the “Call, power and sending out ” of the disciples. They after having watched Jesus for approximately 18 months now get to engage in the work He was doing. The work of the disciples becomes so known, that even Herod that “old Fox” feels conviction, fearing that John the Baptist has been reincarnated. Yes Jews believed in reincarnation to some degree [see Luke 9:18-19]. When the disciples return they explain the results to Jesus. He takes them away, but the crowds follow. In these high popularity years Jesus does a lot of healing, and crowd gathering. His message shifts to the Kingdom of God and the task that is before Him. Remember the Jews are looking for a Messiah, albeit a faulty expectation from the real Messiah that Jesus would be at that time.

Jesus begins to tell the disciples how he will go to the cross, He shows them His glory on the mount of Transfiguration; and all they do is asked for “priority seating” in the Kingdom of God [Luke 9:46-48]. The disciples were very sympathetic or discerning of what Jesus was really all about. Before we chastise them, we aren’t much better today. Before Jesus goes to Jerusalem there is one last major evangelistic thrust, and open revelation of who He is; He sends out 70 ahead, to prepare the people by way of announcement.

The are times when I hear that sometimes my preaching is a bit too harsh or in your face. Yet when I look at the preaching of Jesus and the Apostles, I find not a wimpy preaching approach, but one that is bold and truthful about the judgment and the condemnation on the unrepentant cities and communities. Even the cities of Bethsaida and Capernaum are chastised for their unbelief.

It always follows that when God has done a great work [the return of the 70’s report] that evil wants to discount and destroy the testimony of the work. In chapter 10, the lawyer bent on discrediting Jesus puts Him to the test with a question that the lawyer already knows the answer to. Such as it is, Jesus does His best teaching through great illustrations ans stories – in this case the Good Samaritan story. In the end, the lawyer is corrected in his thinking about neighbors, but unmoved in his prejudice against Samaritans, all he could reply to Jesus was “the one who showed mercy.” [Luke 10:37]

I have studied Luke 11:1-13 extensively, it is a very good passage about prayer. I pondered why the Disciples would ask Jesus to teach them to pray, when every good Jew prayed 3 times a day. The secret is they were missing the “power” behind the prayers. When Jesus prayed, things happened! This is not the case for many believers; we know we should pray, want our prayers heard, but find great difficulty in maintaining a prayer life.  The secret is not “saying prayers” but communicating with the person to whom we are praying too. We forget that prayer in its simplest form is just dialog with Jesus.  Prayer is not so much about asking for things as it is about know Jesus.

As with ministry today, there are varied reactions to the Gospel. Jesus is considered to be Beelzebub or Satan doing the works that He does. The Jews really don’t appear to be too smart at times – as Jesus dismisses the remark by “house divided against itself” giving truth that if Jesus was Satan, He is destroying Satan’s own work. Jesus will continue to have opposition from here on to the Cross. One of the thought we must come to understand; as we profess and live out the believer’s life, there will be times of great opposition. We are no better than out Master!

A funny passage is Luke 10:37-53; I title it “What a Lunch!” Jesus was asked to lunch by a Pharisee, from there things went downhill fast. Jesus pronounces Woes on the Pharisees and condemns the religious rulers for their part in killing the prophets and apostles. Needless, after the lunch, they are ready to kill him; and will from now on seek to do just that.

Jesus preaching has become more intense; no longer is He trying to present evidence that He is the Messiah, but is bringing the message of how people will be judged at the End of the Age. Warnings are given to those who have ears to hear.  Please note that the Gospel is Offensive! Chapter 12:49-53 explains how that families will be divided over who Jesus and the Gospel. I have seen this happen in families and it is so sad.  The Cross looms in front of Christ; He is resolved to embrace His “baptism” of agony and trial, for this is His reason for coming – to seek and to save that which is lost, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

Through all the teaching, miracles and healing, Jesus focus has always been “get to the Cross.” He did not come for popularity, self glory or create a following. He came to be the Savior of the world; delivering us from sin and wrath.

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