Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 12:45 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 12:1-12 (ESV). Beware Hypocrisy (vv. 1-3) In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” Jesus had just finished chiding the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. He told them that they worked hard at appearing clean on the outside, but inside they were full of greed and wickedness. They were good at following a set of rules and human traditions, but they neglected justice and the love of God. They loved being important and they sought after the praise of men. He charged them with consenting to the deeds of their fathers who killed the prophets, so they, too, were charged with the blood of the prophets. As well, they robbed the people of the knowledge of the kingdom, and they did not enter themselves. This sounds a whole lot like many of our church leaders today, and I am not speaking merely of those in what we would consider fundamental evangelical and legalistic congregations, either. In fact, most of them are in the more modern church fellowships of today. They focus much on appearance, on the big show, and on attracting the world to their meetings. They want the church to appear to the world as a place that is fun, entertaining, connected with the world, culturally relevant, non-judgmental, and accepting and tolerant of all people, no matter their walks of life. They want their customer base to feel at home, comfortable, and not threatened in any way by what is being taught, too. So, they look good to the world, but inside they are full of wickedness, for sin abounds and goes unchecked, is placated, and is smoothed over so people don’t feel bad about sinning. They dilute the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it more palatable and acceptable to the world, and thus they are robbing people of the kingdom of heaven, and they themselves do not enter because they say “Lord, Lord,” but they do not do what he says. They are followers of humans in place of being followers of God, for their goal is to please man, not God. If they were trying to please God, they would do things God’s way, and they would preach the whole counsel of God instead of just the parts that sound good to them. Then many people would be saved from slavery to sin and have eternal life with God. These modern church leaders, in order to make the world feel at home in the church, have pushed out the Holy Spirit and are being taught to discard those who still hold to the tenets of the faith, and who preach the whole counsel of God. They are being warned against those with strong convictions, and are being instructed in how to filter out those that “don’t fit” with their (human) goals and objectives in how to build their earthly kingdoms. As well, they have partnered with an evil government which they worship via the pledge (vow) of allegiance (fidelity) to the flag (government), and via the singing of patriotic songs, and via their support for the troops, whom they hail as our heroes who are protecting our freedoms. They do this, as well, by giving their faith and support to what our government is doing in other nations throughout the world, blindly believing what they tell us and what the news media tells us, not knowing or caring what we are really doing in these other countries. Thus, the church is party to the persecution and killing of Christians worldwide. Jesus said to beware the leaven (yeast) of these Pharisees. What does that mean? When we make bread, we insert yeast into the flour mixture. It works its way through the dough and causes the dough to expand and to increase in size. Unchecked sin within the church works the same way. It works its way through the body of Christ and expands and grows and soon the whole congregation is affected by the sin in one way or another, but in particular in their witness for Christ. If the sin goes unchecked, which I believe it does in most congregations today, it gives off the impression to the rest of the body that we don’t have to take sin all that seriously or that God’s grace covers it all, so it doesn’t really matter. But, it does matter to God. Big Time! So, we need to beware the teaching of these modern-day Pharisees so that we don’t end up following them and adopting their ways instead of God’s ways. We need to test whatever we hear or read against the Word of God to make sure it is consistent with the teachings in God’s word, so we are not caught up in deception. Fear the Lord! (vv. 4-7) “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The fear of the Lord has nearly disappeared from the church here in America. So much of the church is more concerned with pleasing humans, than with pleasing God. They are more anxious over gaining the acceptance and approval of humans, than they are bothered with whether or not God approves of their lives. To teach the fear of the Lord in today’s congregations would mean to teach holiness, righteous and godly living, and repentance and obedience to Christ and to his Word, but that would offend the people the church is trying to reach. It would make them feel uncomfortable to be told they are sinners who need to turn from their sin and to turn to follow Christ in obedience. That would be unpopular in today’s culture to confront people with sin, to warn of judgment and to call them to repentance and obedient faith in Jesus Christ, their Lord (master/owner). So, they end up fearing humans and their opinion more than walking in the fear (submission to; and honor and respect) of the Lord. Yet, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. To fear the Lord is not to be afraid of him, but to give him the honor due him, yet it is to have a healthy fear of divine judgment, realizing that those who do not turn from their sin, and who continue to walk in darkness will not have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven, but they will have only a fearful expectation of eternal punishment in hell. To fear God means to desire him, to want to walk in his ways, to seek purity of heart, and to want to obey him, not partially, but fully. It means we want him to point out where we are allowing the world to creep back into our lives, or where we are failing to listen to his words and to follow his teachings. We desire that he would cleanse our hearts of all that hinders our walks of faith, and we do not want to ever stray from his truth and to go our own way. We ask him to mold us, to make us, and to fill us with himself, so that his love might flow through us into the lives of others, whose lives he wishes to touch with his grace and mercy. To fear the Lord means to come to him with humble hearts, to seek his face, and to submit to his Lordship over our lives, willing to obey him in all ways which he asks of us to do. It means forsaking our former lives of living for sin and self, coming out from the world of sin and to be separate, and to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. And, it means to love God with our whole being, desirous to seek out his will for our lives, and to walk in his truth, as well as to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost world. Not Ashamed of Jesus! (vv. 8-12) “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” If we are more concerned with what humans think of us than we do take care to do what God requires of us, and to do what is pleasing to him, we may fall into a trap of being afraid to share our faith out of fear that humans might reject us or mistreat us. We might choose to be liked by humankind more than we care about whether God approves of us and of what we do. It is a modern teaching within the church to not confront people with the Holy One of Israel (of spiritual Israel). Instead, they say what itching ears want to hear. They teach their congregants to “stay in your own lane,” and to not confront anyone with sin or with the need to repent of sin and to obey Christ, because they don’t want to offend anyone. They teach that doing “good deeds” to people is all they need to do, and they convince them that that fulfills God’s requirement to share the gospel. But, even the unsaved world can do “good deeds,” but that doesn’t tell anyone about Jesus, or of what he did for us in dying for our sins, or of our need to turn from sin and to follow him in obedience, or of his great mercy in forgiving our sins, freeing us from slavery to sin, and freeing us to now walk daily in his righteousness and holiness. We can “good deed” people all the way hell, you know. So, what does it mean to deny Christ before men? Is it merely that we out loud proclaim, as Peter did, that we don’t know him? I believe there is more to it than that. I believe to deny Christ is to deny his Words, and to reject them in our lives, and to not submit to God and to his teachings, but to continue to go our own way, doing our own thing, regardless of whether or not God approves of our lifestyles. It is also to shy away from witnessing for him out of fear of rejection, or out of a desire to be liked by humans more. When his Holy Spirit prompts us to obey him in some way, we refuse, because we don’t want to do what he asks. This is also denying him. We can deny him by our very lifestyles and by continuing to direct our own paths, instead of walking in his ways. To me, to deny Christ is to reject his Lordship in our lives and to think that his grace gives us free license to continue in sin. We mock, therefore, Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, which was so that we might be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we might be free to now walk in his righteousness. We need to take seriously these words here. If we deny him, he will deny us. His grace is not cheap grace. Regarding what it means to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, many people have made assumptions, but it doesn’t really say what it means. The only sin I know of that can’t be forgiven, though, is to reject Christ. This is not to say if we reject him now we can’t accept him later, but if we should die while still living in an unregenerate state, because we rejected him, that cannot be forgiven. If we accept Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, all other sins can be forgiven us. Just know that accepting Christ as Savior and Lord is more than just words or an emotional experience. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us; that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but who walk according to the Spirit. So, if after you say you accepted Christ you continued to live a sinful lifestyle without regard for God and without concern to walk in obedience to his teachings, the Bible says you don’t really know him. So, repent today, and choose to follow him with your life from this point forward! Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012 I come before You, Lord, my Savior, With humble heart and crushed in spirit. I bow before You, I implore You, Heal my broken heart, I pray. Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master, You are the King of my heart. Lord, purify my heart within me; Sanctify me, whole within. Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit. I pray You give me grace and mercy, Strength and wisdom to obey. Father God, my heart’s desire, Won’t You set my heart on fire? Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders My walk with You, now I pray. Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy, My heart cries out for understanding. I want to follow You in all ways, Never straying from Your truth. Holy Spirit, come in power, Fill me with Your love today. Lord, mold and make me; Your hands formed me; Live Your life through me, I pray.