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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How difficult it is

 "How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
Luke 18:24b,25 ESV

Every time I read theses verses I am reminded of just how wealthy I really am and I ask myself is that wealth standing in the way of my work for the kingdom? Have you ever asked yourself the same question? Most of us don't think of ourselves as being all that wealthy, but in America most of us truly are, compared to the world around us. The problem is that we are still pursuing more wealth, a higher paying job, nicer home, better car and so on. On average most of us put more time into these pursuits than we do serving the Lord to our fullest.

In the verses preceding the two we are looking at, the rich ruler made a conscious decision to pursue his wealth rather than the kingdom. Jesus makes it clear that those that are wealthy have a hard time giving themselves to the kingdom work. (see verse 25) The reality is that it is impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, which is why Jesus uses this example. He wants His audience to realize that choices have to be made if one wants to enter into the kingdom, hard choices.

Today ask yourself; what is it that I am pursuing? Is it what this world has to offer, or is it what Jesus has to offer? Either is not a trivial pursuit, both have their rewards one temporal, the other eternal. Which will you choose?

© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, July 30, 2012

Like a child

 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."
Luke 18:17 ESV

I think Jesus is trying to get a very simple point across in this passage. He wants His hearers to understand that they must take the kingdom of God at face value. They must be like little children, in that they are willing to accept what the Lord is saying without question.

Jesus in all of His teachings, parables and miracles is showing those that follow Him what the kingdom is and how one can enter it. He doesn't make it difficult to understand, yet many do not hear and comprehend the simplicity of His message. They don't get it because they are over thinking the situation. Many of us today do the same thing.

Over thinking things and balking at Jesus teachings will not get anyone into the kingdom. Balking at the lord's teachings has always been a sure fire way of going astray.

Today as you read the words of Jesus in the Gospels, take them in like a little child, be obedient like a little child and enjoy the blessing that Jesus offers.

© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Yesterday's sermon

Yesterday's sermon "You can make a comeback" has been posted.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

They do not hear

 He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'"
Luke 16:31 ESV

Jesus finished His story about the rich man and Lazarus with the above statement. Of course we know that even after Jesus was resurrected from the dead there were and are still those that refuse to believe that there will be a judgement to follow this life. Before His own resurrection Jesus had raised Jairus' daughter, Lazarus and the young man in Nain. So, we know that Jesus had told this story so that they would realize that even a miracle like, returning from the dead would not convince people of who Jesus was and that He came to bring forgiveness. He knew that some would not be convinced to change their lives before it was too late.

The human mind is so finite that for a lot of folks resurrection from the dead simply cannot be possible and are not convicted by the teaching. Their hearts and minds just don't want to accept anything other than their perception of reality being; that this life is all there is and when you're dead, you're dead.
They believe there is nothing to worry about or think about other than the here and now, they have no concept of a there and then.

What Jesus is talking about simply put is, there are those that no matter how compelling the evidence is that there is an afterlife and a final judgement, they will not believe and will not change their ways. Jesus wants His listeners to understand that this life is the only opportunity anyone gets to accept God and His ways. Once this life ends we will go where we deserve to go, for what we did in this life.

We as Christians must realize that it is our Job to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified, but it is ultimately up to the individual that hears that good news to make a decision as to what they will do with it. Lets do just as Jesus did, teach and preach and leave the response up to the hearer. If the soil is good, the seed we sow will grow with God's care, he will give the increase.

Preach on!

© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Thursday, July 12, 2012

If anyone comes to me

 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:26,27 ESV

In this passage Jesus is speaking about loyalty and discipleship. This is another one of Jesus hard teachings. We have a hard time grappling with the language of this passage. Hate is such a strong word in our language. When we think of the word hate we think of absolute disdain for someone or something. When Jesus says if we don't hate our family members and our own life we cannot be one of His followers, it hits us at the core.

While this is a strong word, it is really being used as a comparative word. What Jesus is saying is that our love for Him must be stronger than our love for our family and our own life. Still this is rather a staggering thought, because we tend to think of our family and our own existence as first priority for us. Jesus wants us to get our priorities straight if we intend to be His disciples.

If we want to be His disciples, truly His disciples like the apostles were, we must be willing to follow as they did. He is looking for the same dedication one makes when they enter into marriage vows. It is the leave and cleave type of dedication that Jesus is looking for. He wants us to forsake all others for Him and Him alone. Jesus wants our relationship with Him to be exclusive.

When one enters into an exclusive relationship with Jesus it does have an effect on every other relationship in ones life. Hurt feelings and jealousy will occur, with those that are feeling left out with this new relationship growing as it should. Jesus wants His followers to know when they commit to Him their lives will change.

When Jesus speaks of bearing ones own cross, he is speaking about the necessity of going to ones death as a follower of Christ. Discipleship is not to be taken lightly, the costs are to be counted before moving forward with Christ. Following Christ comes at a price, a worthwhile cost.

© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem

 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!
Luke 13:34 ESV

Jesus laments as he travels toward Jerusalem. He is on His way to face the cross. What he talks about in this verse will certainly come true for Him, as it had for so many that God had sent as prophets and leaders. His people will reject Him too.

There is a huge difference this time though. This is the Son of God going to Jerusalem, God in the flesh and yet they still will not respect Him. In the second half of the verse we hear the voice of God; “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” He is looking back over the centuries and the many ways He had reached out to Israel and yet they continued to wander away from Him. Jesus knows this will happen again even though they have seen and heard of all the miracles. Even though all the parables and lessons have been heard, they still will not see, they still will not hear. Jesus knows the hardness of heart that His people suffer with and it breaks His heart.

When Jesus went to His people and their religious leaders, they would not listen, they would not repent. They cast him out and killed Him. They crucified the one that would save them. They denied their Messiah.

Have you ever read this passage and wondered how Jesus' church would react to Him today if He were to come to us one more time to show us what we should be. Would we react in the same way the religious leaders of Jesus day did? Would we want to tell Him what was Holy and Right? Would we disagree with Him about what is good and true?

Today think about how Israel responded to their savior. Think about how you respond to His teachings in His word. Do you fight against what He teaches? Do you disrespect His authority as the pharisees did? Or, do you want to learn from Him, love Him, respect Him and obey Him? Every day we all stand at a cross-roads and have to make the choice as to whom we will follow. Will we follow Jesus or will we follow our own ways?

Lets not have Jesus lament us as individuals that have been shown His love and denied it. Lets accept His authority and follow Him.

© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sincere faith

 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
2 Timothy 1:5 NIV

Paul is speaking about faith being passed on from generation to generation. Paul gives a lot of the credit for Timothy's faith to his mother and grandmothers faith. We see that he is talking about a third generation faith in God and His word. Third generation, wow! How many of us can claim such a great spiritual lineage?

A lot folks are first generation Christians. So, those of us that fall in that category should look at this verse and see the importance of living out our faith for our descendants to see. Timothy's mother and grand mother had modeled their faith in God for Timothy to learn from. Because of their example Timothy had been raised in a way that helped him to be receptive to the gospel when he heard it.

Our teaching in our daily lives will have far reaching effects beyond our time. We must raise our children in the teaching of the Lord and when we have grandchildren we should teach them as well. Christianity is more than just a religion, it is a culture, a counter culture. Counter to the ways of the world and its ruler Satan.

We not only pass on our faith from generation to generation in a very physical sense, but also in a very spiritual sense as well. Every person that we share the gospel has the opportunity to become the next generation in the church.

We live in a country where people put great stock in their culture. Most people you meet are happy to share their ethnicity and culture with you on some level. We should do likewise. While most people experience other cultures through the people they meet, people that come in contact with Christians can not only experience our culture they can become a true part of it. They can become a part of it by being born into it. To be born again is to clam a new nationality, a new culture, a new identity.

Share your faith, share your culture, share Jesus.

© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, July 9, 2012

Strive to enter

"Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:24 ESV

This is one of the hard teachings of Jesus. Jesus tells His listeners that not everyone that tries to enter into God's presence will make it. We would like to think that all good people would make it. There in lies the problem. We look at it from our perspective. Our ideas of what makes a good person and what we believe is acceptable in God's sight. As hard as it may be, we cannot be the judge of who makes it to heaven and who doesn't. That is a judgement reserved for God alone. He is the only one that truly knows the heart of a person. We only see what people want us to see. We don't have the ability to look into another persons heart and see what their true person is.

Simply being a religious person is not sufficient to satisfy God's sensibilities. Jesus makes that clear in His teachings, especially when we look at His teachings concerning the Pharisees. They were highly religious people, but their hearts were far from God. Even though they understood the letter of the law they missed out on the heart of the law. Jesus pronounced seven woes on the Pharisees due to their faulty religion. Looking good on the outside, but inwardly something completely different.

So, what is the way in? As always the way into a relationship with God has always been obedience. Obedience to Him and His commands for us. So, when Jesus teaches that He is the way, the truth and the life it behooves us to listen to His teachings and be obedient to them. No can come to the Father without Jesus. So, the teachings that will lead us to be the people we need to be and make us acceptable before God are those that come from Jesus.

That being said, whether it be my opinion or anyone else's of what is acceptable in God's sight is not beneficial if it is not the teaching of Jesus Himself. In order for any of us to make it to heaven and an eternal relationship with God we must follow the teachings of Jesus. The door to enter into is narrow. When Jesus says this he is saying there is not room for multiple of ways to God, only one, Jesus.

We all need to understand that our perception of what makes a good person has nothing to do with what God finds acceptable. We all will be judged by His word. So, we must learn it, apply it and teach it.

© 2012 Leo J. Woodman

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Will be back soon

Sorry for the absence of postings. Starting Monday 7/9/12  daily posts M-F will resume.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Contend for the faith

 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Jude 1:3 NIV

Jude the brother of Jesus and James, writing in the first century urging his brethren to contend for the faith. The faith that had been entrusted “once for all” to the saints of the first century church. A faith that was already being tested and twisted very early on in the existence of the church. Is it any wonder today that we have so much confusion about the true church that Jesus died for and established in His own blood?

It would seem by Jude's statement, if anyone teaches anything contrary to what was handed down from the apostles to the saints (the church), it must be looked at very carefully. If you read the rest of Jude's short letter to the church, you see that he is writing to refute the false teaching that had begun to creep into the Lord's church. Today we too should be contending for that original faith, that was handed down from the apostles. We should be comparing all extra-biblical teachings to those of the New Testament. If they do not hold up to biblical scrutiny, they should be dismissed as false teaching.

Jesus chose His apostles to make disciples and teach them everything that Jesus had taught them. He didn't say they could make it up as they went along. He wanted His teachings to be propagated, no one else's. If we want to know what Jesus wants for and from His people we need to be studying our New Testament. That's where we will meet Jesus and His church. That is where we will learn what it means, to be His church.

Remember Jude said that the christian faith was “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints”. That means that there is no other faith, there is no new faith, there is just that once for all faith that is found in the New Testament writings that were inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself.

If you are a christian, are you feeling contentious today? We all should be feeling contentious. After reading Jude's letter we should want to contend for that original faith as well. We should want to get back to primitive christianity.

If you are not a christian and want to know how to become one and to live as one and live as a part of Jesus body, begin reading the New Testament today.

© 2012 Leo J. Woodman