Monday, August 31, 2009

How Do You Feel About Gossip

     Gossip is often thought of as an innocent pastime...but is it? Satan has painted tale bearing as innocuous, but if we peel away the deception, we see the ugly truth. The bible lists gossip among the most depraved sins, according to Romans 1:28-31;

  • ...since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.They have become filled with every kind of evil, wickedness,greed and depravity. Thry sre full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful.They invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents, they are senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless.

     Nothing about gossip is harmless. No matter if the intention is not to hurt, or be cruel, the target of the comments can be embarrassed or hurt. If you were to ask a few people to define gossip most will mention something about spreading rumors. That's the truth, but not the whole truth...Gossip includes any idle or malicious talk that harms someone else. Damaging speech is a universal sin and we've all been there, guilty as charged! Example, have you ever commented on how another person was dressed? Suggested to a friend someone you both know should consider changing their hair style or the way they about telling an  acquaintance about another's personal life? Another question...did you feel a check in your spirit while you were speaking? Gossip...words that do harm despite seeming innocent. Some people gossip by jesting, some by sarcasm, using personal details as examples and worst of a prayer request! We definitely need to know and understand the difference between worthless chatter and wise speech. When the heart's intention is to mar a reputation or create a sense of camaraderie, lips move loosely. But a desire to make God happy by speaking only what builds up others can change that right away.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Our Reasonable Service

  • Romans 12:1-2..."I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God...this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is...His good, pleasing and perfect will."

.....Have you ever wondered about God's will for you? Most of us have from time to time, especially if you are dedicated to knowing the Lord and loving Him with "your whole heart, soul, mind and strength." Mark 12:30. But the question always comes down to this: what does that mean, exactly. This is what I have found to be true in my 35 years of walking with the Lord. A Sovereign God provided the way for man to return to a relationship with his Heavenly Father, after Adam and Eve broke the relationship in the Garden of Eden. How did they do this? By willful disobedience...thinking they knew better than God and we do the very same thing! We do our own thing, independent of what God would desire for us, usually not even consulting Him (prayer). We follow the ways of the world, conforming to the way "everyone else does it." God expects us to "serve." What does that mean?? It means to live for Him, what Jesus called"abiding" in Him, and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us the Word, it's our spiritual act of worship. Reading John 13-17 is a really good exercise in renewing the mind, and understanding what it is to abide in Christ and not conform to the world around us. Right now, in 2009 that is critical because our world and country are changing and we need to be in tune with what God wants of us and what He is doing. Here  are a few additional things to contemplate:

  • In light of all the spiritual benefits we enjoy solely as the fruit of God’s mercy, it logically follows that we owe God our highest form of service. Understood here is the idea of priestly, spiritual service such as was an integral part of Old Testament worship.
  • Conformed...refers to assuming an outward expression that does not reflect what is inside, a kind of masquerade or act. (Here Paul is telling this group to stop what they have already begun.)
  • This World = age, system of beliefs, values the spirit of the age. This sum of contemporary thinking and values forms the moral atmosphere of our world and is always dominated by Satan.
  • Transformed = metamorphosis, a change in outward appearances that reflects our inner, redeemed natures daily. Like the Transfiguration.
  • Renewing the Mind = that kind of transformation only happens as the Holy Spirit changes our thinking-being saturated and controlled by the Holy Spirit/Word of God-study and meditation of Scripture.
  • Exhortation = the gift which enables a believer to effectively call others to obey and follow God’s truth.
  • Negatively: Admonish and Correct
  • Positively: Encourage, comfort and strengthen

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mary's Lavish Love, part 2

  • John 12:1-8, "Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived in Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served , while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him, objected, "why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. "Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you , but you will not always have Me."

John tells us she anointed His feet, and dried them with her hair. This was a very intimate thing she did...Jewish women NEVER took down their hair until bedtime, and only in front of their husbands!!!!

  • Again, Jesus words of love toward her were these: “let her alone; she has kept this for the day of my burial.”

An interesting sidelight to this is John 11:49-53,

  • "then one of them named Caiphas, who was High Priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." He did not say this on his own, but as High Priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life." .

..Caiphas, the current High Priest used unwittingly, sacrificial, substitutionary language and prophesied Christ’s death for sinners...he actually spoke blasphemy against Christ, for which he would be responsible. But God made his statement truth. God actually used Caiphas here as a prophet, a role the High Priest frequently fulfilled to reveal the will of God...see 2 Sam 15:27.


All three accounts record Judas outrage that Jesus allowed this luxury when the dollars could have been used to help the poor. What a hypocrite! Jesus statement is a reminder to us as well as a word to Judas…”the poor you have with you always”...and we do and we CAN be there to assist them in whatever way we are able. But Jesus, and our worship and time with Him MUST be our priority, and then and only then can we be fit to serve. Service comes from a full heart, a clean and pure heart, one that sees/anticipates needs, and does all in ones power to meet that need. We need Martha’s...but Jesus gave the commendation to Mary...not because she was lax and allowed Martha to do all the work, but because she did what was required of her and THEN she went to sit at the Master’s feet and listen, rather than fuss about unnecessary details. God grant us the wisdom to emulate our sister Mary, and arrange or rearrange our priorities to make that time to “sit at the Master’s feet”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mary's Lavish Love

6While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, 7a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

8When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. 9"This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."

10Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

     John tells us the woman here is Mary of Bethany...the same Mary that sat at Jesus feet in Luke 10:38-40, read…distracted: dragging all around...implies Martha was in a tumult, “with much serving”...Martha was evidently fussing with details that were unnecessarily elaborate. Would the Lord have commended Mary as He did if she had done nothing, leaving all the preparations for at least 13 dinner guests to Martha? I hardly think so. What was this “one good thing” Jesus spoke of in Luke, pertaining to Mary? It was the priority Mary had made, of spending time with Him whenever possible. She came to Him with an attitude of worship and meditation, “listening” to Him with an open heart and mind...hanging on every word, if you will.

     It would appear Simon (referred to as “the leper)...was part of the Bethany group...perhaps Mary and Martha were “doing the dinner” for Simon...there is no mention of a Mrs Simon...The perfume spoken of was expensive, it was imported from India, the only place it was found, and in an equally expensive alabaster container. It may have been part of Mary’s dowry! What she did to Jesus, she did as an act of worship...she gave Him her most prized possession, pouring it on His head, lavishly! John tells us it was worth 12 months wages, or 300 denari, (contrast, 8 months wages would have fed the 5,000). Mark 14:3-9:

3While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

4Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? 5It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly.

6"Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

     Mark adds a few more details, he is the one that tells us that the perfume was imported from India, and refers to it as “pure nard”...not watered down or cut with anything else. Verse 8 gives us three words from Jesus about Mary that are precious…

  1. “she has done what she could”...what a commendation!!!
  2. “she has come beforehand to anoint my body for burial”...did she know what she was doing? Probably not, but her love and adoration for her Master and her knowledge of His words gave her boldness to do what she did.

    Will continue tomorrow...