If you were to ask me if I’m a country music fan, I would say “No,” however there are several “country boys” included in my play list. Buddy Greene is one of then. I own many CD’s of both his harmonica music and vocals. He’s a man with a sweet, sweet spirit, and I get a particular reassurance of God’s faithfulness and my mission as I listen to his version of Be Ye Glad..
I was listening to some of the messages shared by pastors during this COVID-19 crisis, and Dr. Cole Westwood from Corinth Brethren Church spoke from 2 Chronicles 20:1-28 about Jehoshaphat, King of Judah. Now Jehoshaphat hadn’t always made good choices when faced with adversity; but he had learned from his mistakes to trust in the LORD and to turn to Him for help in times of trouble. Cole’s message reminded me of a great Don Francisco song about the incident which I always love to hear – “Jehoshaphat.”
Luke 14:28-33 – “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” NIV
These two questions are related and are about counting the cost of seeing things through to the end. In the context of the conversation Jesus is talking about the cost of following Him. It is one thing to begin a project. It is another thing to stick to the project and see it through to the end. Following Jesus certainly has its rewards; but there can also be some costs involved in following Jesus. Jesus would be crucified, and His first followers Continue reading
Luke 14:1-6 – (similar to Questions #15 & #16 – See Matt:12:1-14, Mark 2:23-3:6) – One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.
5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they had nothing to say. NIV
It’s interesting that before healing this man that Jesus asked the Pharisees a question about whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. They surely had an opinion, but they had nothing to say to Jesus. Jesus proceeded to heal the man. Then Jesus asked a follow-up question about helping a son that had fallen into a well on the Sabbath…still nothing to say. From Jesus’ questions and insight into their reactions and silence, one might deduce that they disagreed with Jesus’ action of healing on the Sabbath, or perhaps they were just looking for something to hold against Jesus. Why weren’t they willing to discuss this situation with Jesus? Continue reading
Luke 13:10-16 – (similar to #16 – Matthew 12:11-12) On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” NIV
Once again Jesus is confronted with the opportunity to heal someone on the Sabbath which had been declared as “work” by those whose religion had been primarily defined by rule keeping instead of loving God and loving others as oneself. When Jesus saw her, he acted immediately by calling her forward and freeing her from her infirmity! One would think that the whole synagogue would have broken out in praise; but no! The synagogue ruler shut things down with a rebuke: “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” Continue reading
Luke 13:6-9 – Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'” NIV
This parable appears to be Jesus’ follow-up to the idea that just because things are going well in your life doesn’t mean that you are better off spiritually than someone who is experiencing difficulties or suffering in theirs. This parable brings up the idea of fruitfulness in one’s life. Is one’s spiritual life producing spiritual fruit? It, also, seems to indicate that although the Bible seems to indicate that God has great patience with His creation and His body of believers, that patience is not limitless. The property owner asked the gardener about the fig trees failure to produce fruit after three years. There is a clear expectation for growth and maturity that results in fruit production. After a reasonable time the property owner wanted to replace the fruitless tree with something that would bear fruit. His gardener pleaded for another year of quality care before they replace the tree. Continue reading
Luke 13:1-5 – Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” NIV
Jesus asked these similar questions to confront the misconception that just because something bad happens to someone they must have done something terribly wrong. The same goes with the converse idea that just because everything is going well for someone they must be in good relations with God. This is a common misconception among a lot of religious people. It was confronted by God in the Book of Job, one of the earliest Bible books written. The prologue to Job’s story begins by the writer making it very clear that Job was righteous before God and dearly loved by Him. Yet God allows Satan to cause suffering in Job’s life to display his faith. Job’s friends suffered with Him for a while, but then basically assumed that Job had sinned somehow and needed to confess and get back on the right path. It was no different in Jesus’ time, and it is largely not different today … unless I am the one who is suffering. Continue reading