Sunday – October 27, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 23:40 to 24:35 “Dealing with the Death of Jesus”

Sunday – October 27, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 27, 2019

Luke 23:50-52
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.”

We should be very interested in the story of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who buried Jesus. No one knows where Arimathea was located, but the designation helps distinguish him from other Josephs. He was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the body of 70 men who governed the religious and many of the civic matters in Israel. It was the Sanhedrin that had condemned Jesus to death, although Joseph had not consented to their plan. Probably he had not spoken out as vigorously as he should have. John 19:38 tells us that he was a secret disciple of Jesus, for fear of the Jews. His fear had caused Joseph not to take a bold stand for Christ, even though in his heart he knew that he should have done so.

But now, after Jesus was dead, when His followers had gone into hiding, Joseph gathered up his courage (Mark 15:43), went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus so that he could give Him a proper burial. If he had not done so, Jesus’ body probably would have been thrown on a garbage heap and burned, robbing us of some of the major proofs of the resurrection, as we’ll see. We can thank Joseph for honoring Jesus with a proper burial and for giving us many evidences for our faith.

I believe Luke is commending the faith of Joseph and the women, seen by their concern for Jesus body and burial, at a time when this was a most unpopular, and even dangerous, thing to do. Faith in Christ requires an identification with Christ, which includes an identification with Him in His death. In their actions, they stood with Jesus, and apart from the Jewish religious leaders. Saving faith requires those saved from their sins stand apart from a world that has rejected Jesus, and stand with Him who was rejected and put to death. Joseph, Nicodemus, and the women are a picture of what faith requires by those who would be saved. Faith is expressed by an identification with the Jesus who died on the cross of Calvary. No wonder there is no focus on the eleven at this point, whose faith may not have failed, but whose faith surely is not praiseworthy at this point in time.

It does remind us that even when those who are chosen to lead fail to do so, God always has someone in the wings. Joseph was a man whom the disciples would never have considered a prospect for discipleship. He was a prominent member of the Council which, as a group, rejected Jesus. He was a man of influence and apparent wealth. And yet he was the one whom God had prepared so that the body of Jesus would be honored in death. God always has a person in place, but this is often not the person we would have expected to be God’s choice.

Sunday – August 11, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 21:1-4 “Mite or Mite Not”

Sunday – August 11, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 11, 2019

Luke 21:1-3
And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them

The cults are growing rapidly, not because the unchurched are convinced of the correctness of their doctrinal positions, but because they are drawn by the fact that the needs they feel most strongly are being met outside of orthodoxy. Have you met anyone who has converted to Mormonism because they were so impressed by the life and ministry of Joseph Smith? Evangelicalism has committed several errors in its practices, and most of them relate to the use of money. In the past, major denominations took the social and physical needs of their fellow man seriously. They rightly grasped the obligation of the church to respond to those needs. But as these denominations became theologically more and more liberal, the emphasis fell almost totally on needs other than spiritual.

Rightly, evangelicals retreated from what have been called “social gospel” organizations. But we have wrongly retreated from the work of ministering to the material needs of people in our efforts to disassociate from those who preach a false gospel. The poor and the oppressed have come to view evangelical Christians as uncaring. Have we become so spiritually minded; we are of no earthly good? The cults and social gospelers have gained followers due to the disinterest of Christians in meeting material needs.

All of this demands that in a study of the work of the ministry, we must rethink the area of material ministry. We must seriously consider what the Word of God has to say about the ministry of money. There is a major misconception held by most Christians about money, which is at the root of our material malpractice. The evil of materialism can easily be confused with ministry that money can perform. We are sensitive about the subject of the use of money because many of us are not very skillful here, often linking faith with financial irresponsibility. We purchase items on the basis that God will provide the money to pay for it. Financially, we have jumped from the pinnacle of the temple, putting God to the test.

Confusion about the importance of money is also a byproduct of disproportionate emphasis on the part of those who proclaim the Scriptures. Some preachers never get off the subject of money. All of us have been turned off by this kind of pulpit pleading for funds. But some of us who preach the Scriptures are in error for not mentioning money at all. Usually this is because we don’t want to be associated with those who are perpetual solicitors of contributions. Also, we hesitate to mention money because to teach the whole counsel of God on this subject is to point out the obligation of Christians to bountifully provide for those who preach the Word (1 Corinthians 9:1–14). Because of this “conflict of interest” we avoid thorough teaching on biblical giving.

Sunday – July 28, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 20:27-40 “Seven Brothers for One Bride”

Sunday – July 28, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 28, 2019

Luke 20:37-39
“But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB.  38 “Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.”

Our knowledge of the Sadducees is a bit scanty and uncertain. We don’t know for sure the origin of the group or its name. They were mostly upper class, educated, rationalistic, religious conservatives who held to the supreme authority of the Torah (the first five books of Moses). They rejected the oral traditions of the Jewish rabbis. The high priest and many of his associates were Sadducees (Acts 5:17). In their denial of the resurrection and the existence of angels and spirits, they disagreed sharply with the Pharisees (Acts 23:6-9).

Consequently, they took little interest in religious matters and in many respects clashed with the Pharisees, especially as regards the Pharisees’ attachment to the ‘traditions of the elders’ which made Jewish religious life so intricate. Everything which, according to their views, was not taught by ‘the law of Moses’ (the first five books of the Old Testament) was rejected by the Sadducees as forbidden innovations. The letter of the Law in the first five books of the Torah was enough.

In the past, I would have called the Pharisees the “conservatives” and the Sadducees the “liberals,” which is somewhat true. But in terms of insisting that doctrine be grounded in biblical revelation, the Sadducees wanted “chapter and verse,” while the Pharisees were content to cite their traditions. If the Pharisees were the moving force behind the opposition to Jesus before His crucifixion, death, and resurrection, it is the Sadducees who take up this role afterwards, for now the issue of resurrection has become a crucial part of the gospel message. The main thing which Luke wants us to be aware of is that the Sadducees, who are pressing Jesus for an answer concerning the resurrection do not really believe in it themselves.

It is quite easy to look at the Sadducees with a very critical eye. How foolish, we might think, for them to reject the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, when it is so clearly taught in the Scriptures. But let me ask you, as I ask myself, how much do we believe in the resurrection of the dead? How does the certainty of our resurrection, and of the kingdom of God to come, impact our present lives? I still have many earthly desires for the future, and I do not yearn for heaven as I should. My lifestyle and my values betray my lack of faith in this area. Are we, like the Sadducees, so “blessed in this life” that we would set aside thoughts of the next?

Sunday – July 21, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 20:19-26 “God and Government”

Sunday – July 21, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 21, 2019

Luke 20:23-26

But He detected their trickery and said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

With taxes and elections being a yearly occurrence, it is appropriate to talk about guile, government, and God. There is nothing like taxes to tempt us to fudge the truth! When you throw in religion on top of taxes and government, you’ve got a built-in formula for hypocrisy. Those three elements—taxes, government, and religion—all play a part in this exchange between the Jewish religious authorities and Jesus over the subject of paying taxes to Caesar. Sometimes a common enemy will bring together strange bedfellows. (FYI: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” East Indian proverb) Although Luke does not mention it, both Matthew and Mark report that the Herodians and the Pharisees joined forces in this attempt to bring Jesus down. But in order to get rid of Jesus, they teamed up to trap Jesus with a question designed to impale Him on the horns of a dilemma.

After some flattery, they asked Jesus, “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” If Jesus answered, “Yes,” the Pharisees would accuse Him of being soft towards Rome and certainly not being the Messiah who could deliver the nation from Rome’s hated sovereignty. If He answered, “No,” the Herodians would report Him to Pilate as being opposed to Caesar’s rule, thus guilty of sedition. They thought that they had Him this time.

But Jesus’ answer stunned them. In one succinct sentence, He showed that God and Caesar each have legitimate realms of authority with corresponding responsibilities. But if there is a conflict between realms, God is supreme over Caesar. By asking His critics to produce the Roman coin, Jesus underscored the fact that they were enjoying the benefits of Caesar’s government: they used his coinage; they enjoyed many civil improvements and benefits that he provided. And so, they were obligated to give Caesar his due.

There are two extremes to be avoided in our outlook on government. The first is to see government as the enemy of God, and to be always opposing ourselves to it. The other extreme is to view government too highly, as man’s salvation and security. It is all too easy to look to government for those things which only God can give. It is all too easy to turn from God to government. Some Christians oppose government unnecessarily and unbiblically, using God as their pretext for rebellion and disobedience. Others seem to view government as the solution to all our earthly (and spiritual) problems. Some think that we can establish a righteous government on the earth and so clean it up that Messiah will come. I believe that only Messiah can clean up this mess, and that only after He comes will a righteous government exist. Let us keep government in perspective. It is not the enemy of God, but it is God’s agent. Let us obey government as to the Lord, in every way possible.

Sunday – June 16, 2019 – Father’s Day – Reconciling Families

Sunday – June 16, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 16, 2019

Malachi 4:4-6
Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.

It is not news that American families are fracturing at an alarming rate. Only 34 percent of all children born in America will live with both biological parents through age eighteen. Seventy percent of African-American babies and 19 percent of white babies in the United States are born out of wedlock. Most will never know their fathers, let alone experience their love. Sadly, evangelical Christians don’t fare much better than the world when it comes to fractured families. That’s tragic, in light of the fact that the second great commandment is to love one another! What good is our faith if it doesn’t result in daily loving relationships in our families?

Sin always results in alienation, both toward God and toward one another. When Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God and they suffered distance in their own relationship. Adam began to blame Eve (and God) for his problems (Gen. 3:12). Sin leads to guilt; guilt not properly dealt with leads to blame; blame leads to anger and alienation. Pride causes us to justify ourselves and to attack the other person. This is a basic pattern that applies to all relationships.

What is the solution? God says (4:4), “Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statues and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.” God didn’t give Moses some helpful hints for happy living. He commanded Moses statutes and ordinances for all Israel. God’s moral and relational commandments are not just for the Old Testament era. Living under grace does not mean living without commandments. Believers under grace are given all sorts of commandments, including the oft-repeated command to love one another. If you are not acting in love toward your family members, including your church family, you are sinning! Obedience to God’s commands should stem from the heart because of His grace and love toward us. But the point is, loving one another is not just a nice thing to do when you feel like doing it. It is God’s commandment.

When you begin to obey God by judging your anger, by demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit towards your family, and by setting an example of walking with God, He will bring healing into your home. It won’t happen all at once, but it will begin. If you have been sinning against your wife and children by not loving them, first ask God’s forgiveness. Then ask your family’s forgiveness, and begin to obey God by walking in love, just as Christ loved you and gave Himself up on the cross.

Sunday – May 26, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 18: 31 to 19: 10 “Jesus Treed a Tax Collector”

Sunday – May 26, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 26, 2019

Luke 18:18-20
A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good — except God alone.

If Jesus had taken an evangelism training course, He would have dealt differently with the rich young ruler. From an evangelist’s point of view, this guy was a piece of cake. His eagerness is evident from the fact that (Mark 10:17 reports) he ran, not walked, up to Jesus. He even knelt down before Jesus, right in front of others, and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus didn’t even have to figure out how to turn the conversation to spiritual things! What an opportunity! Shouldn’t be too hard to get a decision!

And the man was a choice prospect. Matthew tells us that he was young. He still had most of his adult life ahead of him. He was in a place of influence in spite of his youthfulness. He didn’t have any serious problems to overcome—no drugs or alcohol, no history of trouble with the law. From his youth, he had tried to keep the Ten Commandments, and he had done a pretty good job of it. He was a fine young man, the kind that any church would lift up as an example. And, he was extremely rich, with just a tithe, he could have bankrolled Jesus’ mission for years to come. What a key person! But Jesus let him walk away.

There’s another possibility, of course. If it seems to us that Jesus blew a choice opportunity and that He did not share the gospel clearly with this eager young man (if it had been anyone other than Jesus who had taken this approach, we all would say that he blew it), then perhaps Jesus has something to teach us about the gospel message and how to share it. In particular, He teaches us how to share the gospel with good people—those who believe in God and have lived decent lives.

Perhaps you are a good person today. You’ve assumed that your good deeds will get you into heaven. But you must see that your own goodness can never save you. You must see the awful sins of your heart as God sees them. Perhaps there is one sin that you refuse to let go. The Lord is saying, “Let it go! Sell all that you possess, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Turn from your sin and trust in Christ alone who can save. Even though this rich young ruler went away sorrowful and unsaved, Jesus knew what He was doing as an evangelist. I pray your response will not be like that of this young man.

Sunday – May 19, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 18:1-14 “The Won’t Stop Widow”

Sunday – May 19, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 19, 2019

Luke 18:1
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart…”

One of the most difficult aspects of prayer is persevering when it seems that God is not answering. Jesus instructed us to pray that the Father’s kingdom would come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And yet here we are, almost 2,000 years later, and that prayer, prayed millions of times by millions of Christians down through the centuries, is still not answered. On a personal level, all of us have requests that we have brought before God for years—requests that would be to His glory to answer—and yet it seems like God isn’t answering His phone! In light of these problems, it is easy to lose hope and even to give up praying.

The Lord Jesus knew the weakness of our flesh and that we all are prone to lose heart. In light of that, He graciously gave His disciples and us this parable “to show that at all times they [and we] ought to pray and not lose heart.” This instruction fits in with the preceding context where the Lord told the disciples that the days would come when they would long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but they would not see it (17:22).

There are two very fundamental elements which need to be found in our prayers. The first is persistence based upon the character of God. The second is penitence based upon the lack of our character. The two passages on prayer must go together because there must be a balance in the way we approach God. On the one hand, we can pray with persistence for the coming kingdom of God and for the establishment of justice on the earth, knowing that the character of God assures us that He will come, that He does hear and answer our prayers, and that He will quickly bring about justice.

On the other hand, we must not lose sight of the fact that when we come to God in prayer we must also come with an awareness of our own fallen character. While we pray for justice, we also pray for mercy, for we are totally unworthy of anything but divine wrath. I suspect that a self-righteous Pharisee could have said “Amen” with their persistent prayers for the coming of the kingdom. But the kingdom they sought was a totally different kind of kingdom, which in their minds, they deserved. It was a kingdom which God brought to the earth as an obligation based on their full obedience to the law. May God give us the humility, the penitence, the prayer life, and the grace that He gave this tax-collector. And may God deliver us from the pride and self-righteousness of the Pharisee and may God bring about justice and mercy, for His sake.

Sunday – May 5, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 17:20-37 “Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs”

Sunday – May 5, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 5, 2019

Luke 17:22
And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.”

One thing that Jesus has pointed out about the Pharisees is that they tended to appraise things by appearances. The Sermon on the Mount makes much of this. The Lord Jesus told men that sins were not merely external (murder, adultery, etc.), but internal (anger, lust, greed). So, too, righteousness was not so much the doing of external acts (fasting, tithes and offerings, long prayers), but in the attitudes of the heart. In chapter 16, Jesus accused the Pharisees of being far too external in their orientation: “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:14-15).

Is it not easy to understand that when it came to the coming of the promised kingdom of God, men would expect its arrival to be signaled by various external “signs and wonders”? And who but the Pharisees would expect to observe them and recognize the kingdom first. In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, we are told it was the Pharisees who persistently challenged Jesus to prove Himself by performing signs (Matthew 12:38; 16:1; Mark 8:11).

There are three errors described in our text, all of which have to do with the second coming. The first is the error of the Pharisees (verses 20-21). The second error is that of the disciples (verses 22-25). The last error is that of the people as a whole (verses 26-32). From a study of the gospels as a whole, we can see that no one fully understood the prophecies of the Old Testament and how they would be fulfilled in Christ. At best, some had bits and pieces of the story, but no one could put them all together. If this is true, we should be instructed that none of us in the 21st century have a complete understanding of Bible prophecy. We may, like some in Jesus’ day, feel that we are experts in the area of the coming of the kingdom, but we, like they, are not. We have many misconceptions concerning the return of our Lord and the establishment of His kingdom on the earth. We need these words from the lips of our Lord as much as the people of His day needed them.

If you have not yet trusted in Christ as your Savior, you should do so today. Jesus tells us you will not have any warning signs of the coming day of judgment, any more than the preaching of the gospel. There will be no time to repent when that day comes. If you would believe and obey, if you would acknowledge your sin and trust in the work of Christ in your place, for the day of judgment does draw near. Let neither you nor I be unaware or apathetic about its coming. Let us find in Christ that our judgment has already been meted out, and that all that we await is our salvation.

Sunday – April 28, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 17:5-17 “A Lesson in Faith”

Sunday – April 28, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 28, 2019

Luke 17:3-5
“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

How many times have you thought the reason why you could not obey a command of our Lord was you had too little faith? If our problem is one of insufficient faith, we seem to have only two options. First, if faith is only given by God, then faith is God’s problem. How can we be responsible until He provides it first? That almost seems to be the mindset of the apostles. The second possibility would be to try and conjure up the faith on our own. Nowhere does Jesus teach us how to build faith in the way we try to build our bodies. There is not a problem with the quantity of our faith, but a failure to grasp the nature of faith.

Jesus did not minimize the need for faith, but neither did He say a lack of faith was the disciple’s problem, and so granting more faith was not the solution. Jesus’ response in the parable of the slave and the one grateful Samaritan focus on obedience and gratitude. The slave of verses 7-10 is to faithfully obey his master, and not to expect him to show gratitude. The master has the right to expect obedience of a slave, but has no obligation to be thankful for it. In the same way, when the disciple is obedient to Christ, he does not see it as meriting anything from God, nor does he equate his worthiness with it. For all men, even the most obedient of them, are unworthy of divine favor.

If this is true, then what we do not need is a system of rules to keep, for in keeping them there is no reward. If we are unworthy even at our best—even when we keep all of God’s commandments—then what we need is not Law, but grace. Grace is God’s favor bestowed upon us because we are unworthy, not because we are worthy. Grace and mercy are always prompted by our unworthiness, while God’s gratitude cannot even be prompted by our best efforts.

It is the grace of God, poured out freely upon sinners, which produces gratitude. It is grace produced gratitude which serves to motivate the recipient of grace to also bestow it on others, not more faith. Just as God has forgiven us of our sins against Him, solely on the basis of our confession of sin and repentance, so we are to forgive others on the same basis. It is not a greater faith that is required for us to do this, but a better understanding of what faith is and how it works.

Sunday – April 14, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 17:1-4 “Sin Is Not a Solo Act”

Sunday – April 14, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 14, 2019

Luke 17:3-4
Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

One of the things that I only half-jokingly tell people is, “If I haven’t offended you yet, please be patient. I will!” It is impossible in this fallen world to relate closely to anyone without causing offense at some point. Often it is unintentional, but sometimes, frankly, we mean to be mean! Relational problems not only occur in the church; they also occur in the home and anywhere else that people have to work closely with one another. What went wrong?

Relationships can be the source either of our deepest joy in life or of our deepest pain, depending on whether we follow God’s directives on how to work through relational problems. We live as sinners in a sinful world, and so we are prone to sin against others and they are prone to sin against us. But just because we’re all prone to sin, it does not follow that we should just go with the flow. Rather, we should do all that we can to avoid sinning against others and leading them into sin. And, we should do all that we can to avoid taking offense when others sin against us and to avoid being led into sin by the bad example or teaching of others.

The major reason that we are so prone to sin against others and to take offense when others sin against us is that our sinfulness prompts us to justify ourselves and to blame others. As soon as Adam fell into sin, he blamed his wife for leading him into it and he even subtly blamed God for giving him his wife (Gen. 3:12)! Ever since, we all play the blame game. If you don’t think that this tendency is inherent in the human heart, you have not raised children! They do not have to be taught to pin the blame on their brother or sister. It comes naturally!

When Jesus warns, “Be on guard,” He means that each of us needs to look first and foremost to our own hearts. Take the log out of your own eye and then you may be able to help your brother with the speck in his eye, but not before then (Matt. 7:3-5). When relational conflicts erupt, the first thing you should do is to ask God to show you what part you are responsible for. If you think that, being generous, you’re responsible for ten percent of the problem, you can safely multiply that number by four or five! We all are prone to justify ourselves and blame others. But healing will not begin in damaged relationships until each person allows the Spirit of God through the Word of God to shine into his or her own heart and reveal the sin that is there. We must be on guard against relational sins because we are so prone towards them.