Three Options – II

March 28, 2018

Image result for photo a cold Christian

Revelation 3:15-17

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Revelation 3:15 through 17 is our featured Scripture in which Jesus gave the Laodician Christians Three Optionscold, hot or lukewarm!

      I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you
      were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold
      nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.  Because you say, “I am rich,
      have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” — and do not know
      that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked….

We looked in the last blog at being hot first.  Before we move on to cold, I want to give another observation about being hot :

We are in an ongoing war against Muslim extremists!  These are people who take their religion of Islam very seriously.  For the Koran (also spelled Qur’an) – their sacred text accepted as the foundation of Islamic law, religion, culture, and politics – spells out what Muslims are to do with non-Muslims:

      Let them be converted to Islam!  Qur’an 8:38-39 – “Say to those who have disbelieved, if they cease (from disbelief) their past will be forgiven….And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism:  i.e. worshiping others besides Allah) and the religion will all be for Allah Alone.  But if they cease (worshiping others besides Allah), then certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what they do.

      Subjugate and tax them!  Qur’an 9:29 – “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Jizra is a yearly tax levied upon non-Muslim ‘people of the book ’ (especially Christians and Jews with some exemptions).  Paying Jizra allowed them to continue living in Muslim lands with certain protections.

      Kill them!

       ★      Qur’an 5:33 – “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and his messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land.  That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the hereafter is a great punishment.

       ★      Qur’an 8:12 – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve.  Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

       ★      Qur’an 9:5 – “When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them.  Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them.

Why do I bring this up – at the risk of being labeled an Islam-aphobe?  It is because if one takes what is said so often in Koran seriously, he or she will be labeled a Muslim fanatic in other cultures!

If one is going to follow Jesus Christ seriously – that is, to “…love [to obey – see John 14:15] the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength…”(Mark 12:30) – then that one will be labeled a Christian fanatic!  Such afanatic’ is one whom Jesus would term as being hot in Revelation 3:15 and 16.

Let’s move on to what Jesus said in Revelation 3:15:  “I could wish you were cold or hot.

      A person who is cold is one who is not a Christian, but is concerned only with his or her own agenda and might even fight against God!  There are several examples of being cold toward the things of God in the New Testament.  For the sake of space, here are three:

       ✞      Mark 14:61 through 64 – As Jesus stood before the Sanhedrin, “…the high priest asked Him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ ”  When the Lord answered in the strong affirmative, “…the high priest tore his clothes and said… ‘You have heard the blasphemy!  What do you think?’  And they all condemned Him to be worthy of death.

       ✞      Luke 12:16 through 18 – “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.  And he thought within himself…‘I have no room to store my crops…I will pull down my barns and build greater, and…store my goods.  And I will say, “Soul [self] you have many good laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’

       ✞      Matthew 10:4 – Judas Iscariot was selected to be one of the twelve disciples. But…

               ▸      John 12:6 – He is called a thief !

               ▸      Luke 22:48 – He betrayed the Son of Man with a kiss!

               ▸      John 17:12 – He is also called the son of perdition!

Obviously, the Lord Jesus would have us be hot for Him!  But if not hot, His second choice is cold !  Why would this be the second choice of the Savior?  You can know at least where a cold person stands – solidly against God and His Christ!  However, do not stay cold !  The consequences are horrible!

•      Psalm 1:6 – “…the way of the ungodly shall perish.”  The way of the ungodly is the life they choose to live!  It is that on which they focus all their time, talent, energy, and resources!  What will happen to their way?  It will be just dust and ashes in the end!

       Revelation 21:8 – “But the cowardly, unbelievers, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake of fire which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second [eternal] death.

Please do not be found cold in the eyes of the Lord!

Three Options – I

March 26, 2018

Image result for photo dedicated ChristianRevelation 3:15-17

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus dictates to the Apostle John seven letters “…to the seven churches which are in Asia [Minor]…” (Revelation 1:11). These churches, though all existing at the end of the first century, represent the span the Church Agefrom Pentecost to the Rapture. They also show forth every kind of church that can exist through the ages – from a vibrant spiritually alive congregation to one barely showing any life at all! I am going to concentrate on the seventh letter, “…to the church of the Laodiceans…” (Revelation 3:14). Here is what Jesus says about this church in Revelation 3:15 through 17:

      I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you
      were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold
      nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich,
      have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” — and do not know
      that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked….

In The New Open Bible, the Study Aid concerning “The City of Laodicia” tells us:

      In New Testament times, Laodicia was the most important city in the Roman
      province of Phrygia in central Asia Minor [where]…it served as an important
      commercial center at a major crossroads in this part of the Roman Empire.

      This city was known…for its beautiful black wool, which was woven into fine,
      expensive garments. It was populated by a number of wealthy and socially
      prominent citizens, many of whom earned their livelihood by raising the sheep
      which produced the wool.

Yes, Laodicea was a prosperous city! And, as so often happens when people live in a prosperous society, many Laodicians focused upon their prosperity and wealth as the main thing in life! This attitude was prominent among the members of the Laodician church: “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing…! And it gave rise to Three Options for the Laodicians laid out by the Lord in verse 16 of our featured Scripture (we will take the middle option first):

      “I…wish you were…hot….Hot is being sold out for the Savior! Let’s look at some of the characteristics of being hot for Jesus:

       ✞      First we will go to the Great Commandment in Mark 12:30. I chose Mark’s version (see also Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27) because of the three it includes all four parts of our being by which we are to love God. Also Mark’s version is from the lips of the Lord, whereas Luke’s version originates from a Jewish lawyer’s mouth. Here is Mark 12:30: “…you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength….” In John 14:15 Jesus tells us, “If you love Me, keep My commandments [obey Me!].” So the Great Commandment could logically read, “…you shall obey the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength….” – obedience to God’s leading from our total being, in everything, all the time!

       ✞      Deuteronomy 11:18 and 19 – “…you shall lay up these words of Mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

               ▸      Orthodox and Conservative Jews take verse 18 literally, binding small leather boxes on the left arm or forehead containing parchment inscribed with verses from Exodus 13:1 through 16, Deuteronomy 6:4 through 9, and Deuteronomy 11:13 through 21. But is this literal interpretation what God wants? I believe this Scripture means, whatever you think and say (between your eyes – representing the head, the brain, the mind), and whatever you do (on your hand) should be according to God’s leading!

               ▸     …teach…these words of Mine…to your children….The family is the first institution for the proper training of future generations – not society, and not even the church or a Christian school! But you don’t have to teach them to your children all the timeonly when you are in your house or out of it; only when you lie down or when you are not lying down! I am speaking very facetiously! Obviously, it is all the time, by word and deed, that we should be instructing our family in godliness!

               ▸      I believe the New Testament version of this Deuteronomy passage is succinctly stated by Paul in Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 6:4: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…[and] bring…your children…up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

       ✞      Ephesians 6:18 – “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” Does always mean spending 24/7 in prayer? I (and many others) believe it means that your life is to be so in tune with the Lord that prayer just flows in natural conversation at any time! Also, Paul reminds us that as Christians we should be lifting up one another to God much more than we normally do!

       ✞      Hebrews 10:24 and 25 – “…let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together….Getting together as Christians for worship and fellowship is important! Don’t neglect this! And its purpose is to lovingly look upon each other’s lives and encourage one another in the faith!

       ✞      The Macedonian Christians were held up as an example of faithful stewardship. Paul tells us in II Corinthians 8:2 through 5 that “…they were freely willing…[and] first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us…beyond their ability…[because of] great trial of affliction…and their deep poverty….Do we give a tithe and more to the One who owns everything (see Psalm 50:10-12) including us!

       ✞      Acts 1:8 – “…you shall be witness to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (See also Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; I Peter 3:15). Others need to hear the gospel and be saved! (See Romans 10:13-15). Are you obeying the Great Commission?

These five things will mark one who is hot for Jesus Christ: the Word, Prayer, regularly congregating, giving, and witnessing! And the mark (above) identifying a hot Christian preceding these five applies to them all – obedience!

Jesus Got The Flu!

March 23, 2018

Image result for photo Jesus crucifiedMatthew 8:16, 17

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

It has been a rough winter for me!  In December, before Christmas, I came down with a winter cold.  Then, two days before the New Year I again contracted what I thought was a cold.  But it was more severe and, after a trip to the doctor and some testing, it was determined that I had the flu – Influenza A (H3)!  It took me three weeks to begin to get over it!  After I began to feel better and get my energy level more back to normal, another winter cold hit!  And it hit me harder than usual because my defenses were low due to having had the flu!  By the end of January I began to recover. But it seemed like I lost a whole month and more! I am glad I keep well ahead in writing my Gems For Living Bible studies because for about two weeks I only completed one study!

I have fared better than quite a few others who were infected by the flu bug. The New York Times on January 18, 2018 that 6.6% of all Americans seeking medical care show flu symptoms!  Since I am writing this blog on January 31st, it is still early in the flu season to know the full affects of this year’s serious illness.  But The Times reports that in a severe flu season, up to 56,000 people die from this disease!  Especially hard hit are children and the elderly!

But back to the purpose of this study:  I think the title, Jesus Got The Flu! catches our attention!  But consider what it says in Matthew 8:16 and 17.  The Lord had just healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (see Matthew 8:14 and 15).  Doctor Luke tells us it was “…a high fever…” (Luke 4:38).  Apparently the word of the healing was quickly spread around the town of Capernaum because the next two verses record what happened:

      When evening had come, they brought to [Jesus]…many who were demon
      possessed.  And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who
      were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the pro-
      phet, saying, “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”

Matthew, writing to the Jewish audience, often adds a note telling his readers that such and such an action by the Lord was in fulfillment of a prophecy of the Old Testament.  This is the case in verse 17 of our featured Scripture.  Here, Matthew points back to Isaiah 53:4:  “Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”  The word in the Hebrew for griefs is חֳלִי (pronounced khol-lee’ ).  According to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary it means, “…malady, anxiety, calamity…,”  and is translated in the King James Version as disease (six times), grief (three times), and sick or sickness (thirteen times).  So Matthew is not out of line when he translates Isaiah 53:4 this way: He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.

If that is so, then Jesus experienced my sicknesses, including the flu!

      How could He have experienced the flu?  Did He contract this virus when He was a child?  Or as an adult?  Was He in bed with a fever, muscle aches, headache, and congestion as a lot of flu victims are?  I don’t believe so!

       ✞      But consider the horrible suffering Christ experienced at the end of His mortal life:

               ▸      He was beaten and bruised by the Sanhedrin and the Roman soldiers! (See Matthew 26:67; Luke 23:11; John 18:22; 19:3).

               ▸      He was was forced to wear…a crown of thorns…” (John 19:2) and…a gorgeous robe…” (Luke 23:11).

               ▸      He was scourged by a Roman soldier.  This was such a brutal lashing that men had died because of it! (see Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1).

               ▸      Beaten so severely, Jesus didn’t even look like a human being anymore! (See Isaiah 52:14).

               ▸      After the whipping, He was again arrayed with…a purple robe…” (John 19:2, 5), covering the raw wounds, the blood of which had begun to congeal, sticking to the cloth of the robe.  But before He was led out to be crucified, Mark 15:20 tells us, “And when they mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him, and put His own clothes on Him.”  This would have ripped open the scourging wounds once more – fresh bleeding and pain!

       ✞     …and they led Him out to crucify Him.” (Mark 15:20).  The effects of crucifixion were horrible – including nails driving through wrists and feet, infection, nerve pain, fever, thirst, great difficulty breathing, bones pulled out of joint – extreme dis-ease, pain, and suffering – which, in some cases, could last for days! (See Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 which prophesy in detail the experience of the cross).  Jesus endured only six horrible hours on the cross! (See Mark 15:25; Luke 23:44).

       ✞      He experienced death – although the mistreatment and crucifixion did not kill Him!  For He Himself said in John 10:17 and 18:  “…I lay down My life….No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself….”  Jesus voluntarily died for you and me – for our sins! (See II Corinthians 5:21).

      So yes, the Lord Jesus Christ…Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” (Matthew 8:17).  But what does this mean for us?

       ✞      Many Christians believe this entitles us to God’s healing of all our infirmities!  I believe in divine healing, and have seen – even participated in – healing miracles.  But this is a controversial issue, and I will not take the time now to discuss all the pros and cons of such belief.

       ✞      I will direct our attention to Hebrews 4:15:  “…we do not have a High Priest [referring to Jesus] who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  Tempted in the Greek is πειράζω (pronounced pi-rad’-zoStrong’s Greek Dictionary) can also mean tried or tested.  In other words, Jesus went through all the experiences (hard trial and testings) in one way or another that could ever touch our lives!  This is why He invites us to…come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16).  It is like He is saying to us, “I know what you mean.  I have been there and done that!  I not only understand what you are going through but, being Almighty God, I will give you help in time of need!

May we take great comfort in the fact that Jesus Got The Flu!  He experienced everything that we could ever face, and He has all authority and power to see us through! (See Matthew 28:18; Colossians 1:16, 17).

Eyes – VI

March 21, 2018

Image result for photo jesus' eyes

Philippians 2:5-8 (American Standard Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Once more, here is our featured Scripture from Philippians 2:5 through 8 (American Standard Version):

      Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  who, existing in
      the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing
      to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being
      made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He
      humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of
      the cross.

Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus….”  If His mind is in us, through us, and guiding our every action, then we will see things as He did and respond accordingly!  I have chosen seven Scriptural incidences that show how the disciples viewed things as opposed to how Jesus saw things!  In the first six that we have examined, there is a big difference between the two viewpoints!  Let’s go on to the last one of the seven…

      John 9:1 through 3 – “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  And His disciples asked… ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’  Jesus answered, ‘Neither…but that the works of God should be revealed in him.’

       ✞      The disciples interpreted the man’s blindness to sin, either this man having sinned or his parents!  That type of thinking was common among the Jews, and the Scriptures seemed to back it up!  Here is just a brief sampling of the Old Testament Scriptures with which the disciples would be familiar:

               ▸      Psalm 34:15 and 16 – “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.  The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

               ▸      Psalm 37:17 – “…the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.

               ▸      Proverbs 11:31 – “If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner.

               ▸      Proverbs 13:21 and 22 – “Evil pursues sinners, but to the righteous, good shall be repaid.  A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

So in the disciples’ Eyes, someone’s sins had caused this man to be born blind !  If you read through the book of Job, you will find the same kind of thinking in the threefriendswho came to comfort Job!  Since Job was going through such awful trials, those three knew that he must be a terrible sinner! (See for instance Job 22:4-11).

       ✞     But Jesus saw it differently!  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.

               ▸      This gives us pause!  In verse20 and 21 of the chapter, the man’s parents told the Pharisees,We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees…or who opened his eyes, we do not know.  He is of age; ask him.”  Adam Clarke, in his Commentary on the Bible, writes this:  “He is of age…literally, he has stature, i.e. he is a full-grown man….Mature age was fixed among the Jews at thirty years.”  You mean that this man had to suffer blindness for at least thirty years so the works of God should be revealed in him?!!  Is that fair?

               ▸      But we are told in Isaiah 55:8 and 9, “‘…My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD.  ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ ”  And Paul wrote in Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches of both the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

               ▸      Think of it: what works of God were revealed in the healing of the blind man?

                        ➨      God’s miraculous power was revealed !  In verses 8 through 12 of John 9:  “…the neighbors and those who previously had seen he was blind…were amazed and realized something great had been done!  The man who was healed told the Pharisees in John 9:32, “Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.”  Although this was a powerful testimony the Pharisees refused to believe!  Some of the others might have come to faith in Christ because of this miracle!

                        ➨      If no one else came to faith in the Savior, the once-blind man did! (See John 9:35-38).  Is thirty years of being blind worth salvation and forever being reconciled to God – even for one person?

                        ➨      This was one more proof that Jesus was indeed the Christ – all that He claimed to be!  What He told His disciples in John 14:11 applies to all who are exposed to the powerful Son of God:  “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the [miraculous] works themselves.

So when you or I might be going through hard trials, perhaps with no end in sight, remember, the works of God might very well be revealed in us because of those trials! (See Paul’s testimony in II Corinthians 12:7-10 and Philippians 3:7-14).

See all things with God’s Eyes!  Let your life be guided with…the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:16).

Eyes – V

March 19, 2018

Image result for Photo Jesus' eyes

Philippians 2:5-8 (American Standard Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Let’s continue in our series on Eyes from Philippians 2:5 through 8:

      Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in
      the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing
      to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being
      made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He
      humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of
      the cross.

We are challenged to have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.  Paul, in Colossians 1:18, tells us that Christ…is the head of the body, the church….”  According to I Corinthians 12:27, we…are the body of Christ, and members individually.”  We are the body, He is the head !  It is the head that leads the body, by the mind (the brain) housed in the headThe body is not to have its own mind – its own leading!  We are to closely follow the directions of our Lord!

So We are looking at seven Scriptural incidences, and comparing how Jesus saw things with His Eyes, with how the disciples saw the situation with their Eyes!  Because when we see with our Eyes, we run into trouble, acting on how we perceive things!  Jesus wants us to live differently!  We have covered four of the seven incidences.  Here are two more:

      Mark 9:34 with Matthew 18:2 through 4 – “[The disciples]…disputed among themselves who would be the greatest…in the kingdom of heaven….And Jesus called a little child to…the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’ ”  As in the last example in Eyes – IV, the incident involves a little child.  But here the subject is who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

       ✞      The disciples saw things the way James and John did, as recorded in Mark 10:37:  “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”  They were all vying to be exalted to the places of highest honor! (See Luke 9:46-48).

               ▸      This is the attitude of Satan! (See Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-17; II Thessalonians 2:4).

               ▸      And this is the attitude of mankind under the devil’s control! (See Proverbs 30:11-14; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 1:21-32: I John 2:16).

       ✞      Through the Eyes of Christ, the greatest is plainly described in Luke 14:11 (International Standard Version):  “…everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the person who humbles himself will be exalted.

               ▸      humble like the Master:  “…Jesus…rose from [the last] supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet….” (John 13:3 through 5).  This was the job of a lowly house servant!  But the Lord then said to His disciples, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am….I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:13 and 15).

               ▸      The fruit of the Spirit is listed in Galatians 5:22 and 23 (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible):  “…love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.”  Meekness is the opposite of being prideful and exalted !

               ▸      In I Peter 5:6 and 7, we are challenged to “…humble…ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

If we allow the mind of Jesus Christ to direct our Christian life, we will manifest a humble spirit – not a prideful and boasting one!

      Luke 9:51 through 56 – “…as they went…to Jerusalem…they entered a village of the Samaritans….But they did not receive Him….and when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’  But He…rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.’ ”  This involves how we see (and so how we treat) others!

       ✞      Lord Acton, the nineteenth century historian and moralist, famously wrote in a letter to a friend that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

               ▸      The disciples were greatly empowered by the Lord, according to…

                         ➨      …Matthew 10:1 – “…He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and…disease.” (See also Luke 10:17).

                         ➨      …Luke 10:19 – “…I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

                         ➨      …John 14:12 – “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do because I go to my Father.

               ▸      Did all this power go to the disciples’ heads, including James and John?

       ✞      The two brothers – the Lord called them “…Boanerges, that is, ‘Sons of Thunder’…” (Mark 3:17) – suggested using their God-given power to toast the unwelcoming Samaritans!  After all, Elijah had done it! (See II Kings 1:9-12).

•      But Jesus was seeing the situation through the Eyes of God!  “…He turned and rebuked them…‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (Luke 9:55 and 56).

Will we see people as worth saving and helping them to grow up in the Lord?  Or will we let them live destructive lives and be eternally destroyed in hell?

Eyes – IV

March 16, 2018

Image result for Photo Jesus' eyes

Philippians 2:5-8 (American Standard Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

We are still on our featured Scripture of Philippians 2:5 through 8:

      Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  who, existing in
      the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing
      to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being
      made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He
      humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of
      the cross.

Paul admonishes us to “…have the mind of Christ…” (I Corinthians 2:16) – His mind controlling our thoughts, words, and deeds!  We, being…the body of Christ…” (I Corinthians 12:27) are to simply take the leading of His mind for the living out of our Christian lives!

We looked in our last study at two of seven Scriptural incidences where the Eyes of Jesus saw things very differently than that of the Eyes of the disciples!  Let’s continue to examine more of the seven:

•      Mark 6:32 through 37 – Jesus and His disciples “…departed to a deserted place….But the multitudes…arrived….So he began to teach them….His disciples came to Him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late.  Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.’  But He answered…‘You give them something to eat.’

       ✞      The disciples saw a large crowd of 5,000 men plus women and children (see Matthew 14:21) gathered on a mountain in a wilderness area near the town of Bethsaida situated on the northern end of the Sea of Galilee (see Luke 9:10; John 6:3).  It says in John 6:2 that “…a great multitude followed [Jesus]…because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.”

               ▸      It was supposed to beJesus-and-His-disciples’ time!  For He told them in Mark 6:31, “‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’  For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.”  But their private time with the Lord was invaded by up to ten thousand people!  This may have angered the disciples!Send them away…” they said.  “Get rid of them, Jesus!  It is supposed to be our time with You! ”  At least they added a reason to their demand:  “This is a deserted place…the hour is late.  Send them away that they may go into the surrounding country and villages to buy themselves bread….” (Mark 6:35 and 36).  It would have been an impossible task for that many people to find food to purchase in such a rural area!

               ▸      It can be a pain to be called to minister to needy people!  It very often takes our time, our energy, and our resources to help others.  And sometimes no matter what we do for them, it does not seem to do much good in the long run! (See John 6:24-26; 6:60-66).  So we too often shoo them away who come to us with needs.

       ✞      How did Jesus see this situation?  Mark 6:34 tells us, “…Jesus…saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.  So He began to teach them many things.”  Luke adds in Luke 9:11, “…He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.

               ▸      CompassionWebster’s New World Dictionary defines it as, “…sorrow for the suffering or troubles of another, with the urge to help; pity; deep sympathy.”  Jesus certainly had sorrow, pity, and sympathy!  And He not only had the urge to help, He had all the power to do so!  He stepped up to the situation and taught, healed, and fed the multitude!

               ▸      The Lord saw the multitudes as an opportunity to minister the truth and power of God to them!  He wants us to see things the same way!  If we allow Him to give us sight through His Eyes, we also will see opportunities to minister, and not as a intrusion into our precious agendas!

      Mark 10:13 and 14 – “Then they brought young children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.  But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.’

       ✞      In the mindset of Jesus’ day, children were of less importance than adults, especially men.  So when they brought young children to Him (Matthew 19:13 says that the purpose of bringing them was for Jesus to “…put His hands on them and pray…”), the disciples perceived it as another inconvenient invasion into the busy life of their Lord – also their own busily important lives!  And it says in Mark 10:13, “…He was greatly displeased….

       ✞      Jesus saw it differently!  He rebuked the disciples by telling them in Mark 10:14 and 15:

      Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the
      kingdom of God.  Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the king-
      dom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.

He further taught His followers in Matthew 18:2 through 6:

      …the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who…is greatest in the kingdom
      of heaven?”  And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst
      of them, and said, “Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted
      and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom
      of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the
      greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one little child
      like this in My name receives Me.  But whoever causes one of these little
      ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone
      were hung about his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

If we see through the Eyes of Jesus, if we comprehend through His mind, the little annoying intrusions into our lives can become big opportunities for ministry!

We will go on to the last three incidences in the next blog.

Eyes – III

March 14, 2018

Image result for Photo Jesus' eyes

Philippians 2:5-8 (American Standard Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The featured Scripture for our third study of Eyes says nothing about Eyes! …at least not directly.  Here is Philippians 2:5 through 8:

      Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  who, existing in
      the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing
      to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being
      made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He
      humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of
      the cross.

I chose the American Standard Version because it makes a little clearer the idea that the Apostle Paul is trying to convey.  For instance, seven of the fifteen versions I have on my computer Bible application follow the idea contained in Philippians 2:5 of the International Standard Version:  “Have the same attitude among yourselves that was also in the Messiah Jesus….”  The ASV (above) conveys the proper wording:  “Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…

      Having the same attitude that was also in Jesus implies something that we are to do – conform our thinking to the way Jesus thought!  A pretty good idea.

      Having the mind that was also in Jesus is different.  And I explain it more fully in a blog from July 12, 2013 – The Body Of Christ – I.  Briefly, it involves the facts that…

       ✞       …we…are the body of Christ…” (I Corinthians 12:27 – see verses 12-27).  The members of the body do not have minds of their own!  They are controlled by signals sent from the brain, which is housed in the head!

       ✞       …Jesus …is the head of the body, the church…” (Colossians 1:18).  We are not to think with our own minds!  By the Holy Spirit, we are to let the very mind of Jesus Christ control our every action!

If we do not allow Him complete control over our lives (Compare Mark 12:30 with John 14:15), chaos can result!  He might be sending a signal to the right hand to reach out and bless someone.  But the left foot, with a mind of its own, decides instead to give a swift kick to the one God wants to bless!  Here is the best way to give over proper control to the Lord:  Continually pray what Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42:  “…nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”  If we do this, we will then be controlled by His mind, not ours!

Back to Eyes and how to apply this idea to our featured Scripture:  If…we have the mind of Christ…” (I Corinthians 2:16) in and through us, we will see things the way the Lord Jesus saw them!  Here are the first two of seven Scriptural examples:

      Matthew 8:23 through 26 – “[Jesus] got into a boat, [and] His disciples followed Him.  And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea [of Galilee], so that the boat was covered with the waves.  But He was asleep.  Then His disciples…awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us!  We are perishing!’  But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’  Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea.  And there was a great calm.

       ✞      How did the disciples see this incident?  Remember, four of the disciples – Peter, Andrew, James, and John were professional fishermen on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus called them (see Matthew 4:18-21).  They knew this dangerous body of water…dangerous because a storm could whip the waves into a frenzy on short notice!  So it must have been a severe storm for these disciples – seasoned career fishermen among them – to believe their lives were threatened!

       ✞      Jesus perceived the situation differently! He knew that all creation was under His command!  In Genesis 1 we read…God said…eight times! (See verses 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 25).  And in John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 it is written, “All things were made through [Jesus]…and without Him nothing was made that was made….For by Him all things were created…through Him and for Him.”  As the psalmist wrote in Psalm 33:9 (Good News Bible):  “When He spoke, the world was created; at His command everything appeared.”  His word is that powerful!  So in the dangerous situation on the Sea of Galilee, it is simply recorded in Mark 4:39, “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’  And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

       ✞      How should the disciples have viewed the situation?  They should have called to mind what they had been taught in the Hebrew Scriptures:

               ▸      Psalm 89:9 – “You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, You still them.

               ▸      Psalm 93:3 and 4 – “The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves.  The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea.

By trusting in God’s Word, they would have known they were safe – even in a dangerous situation!  Do you so know the Scriptures?  Do you so trust?

      Matthew 16:21through 23 – “…Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem…suffer…be killed, and raised again the third day.  Then Peter…rebuked Him, saying, ‘…Lord; this shall not happen to You!’  But He…said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! …you are not mindful of the things of God, but…of men.

       ✞      Since the beginning of eternity, the express purpose of Jesus’ coming was to suffer and die as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind!  The Lord said as much in Mark 10:45:  “…the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (See also Luke 19:10; John 12:27; I Timothy 1:15; Hebrews 9:26).

       ✞      Peter – as he was so often a spokesman for all the disciples – in his love and concern for his Lord, did not want Jesus to suffer and be killed !  But he was looking at Christ’s statement not just from his own human point of view, but also through Satan’s Eyes!  Obviously, the devil did not want salvation to come into the world!  This would destroy his goal of taking God’s place! (See Isaiah 14:12-14; II Thessalonians 2:4).

We will examine the last five examples of looking through the Eyes of the Lord in the next blog.

Eyes – II

March 12, 2018

Image result for photo the eye of God

                              The Helix Nebula, called ‘The Eye of God’, as
                              photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope.                        

II Chronicles 16:9

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

In the last blog we talked about the Eyes of the wicked, which see things as if God will not know what they do – as if He didn’t exist! (See Psalm 14:1).  Foolishness!  For it says in Psalm 94:9, “He who planted the ear, shall He not hear?  He who formed the eye, shall He not see?  ” Let’s continue exploring Eyes by looking at the Eyes of God from II Chronicles 16:9:  “…the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.

This Scripture is in the context of Asa, king of Judah.  Some years before, an Ethiopian army a million strong invaded Judah!  Asa had an army of 300,000 (see II Chronicles 14:8, 9) – outnumbered by over three to one!  But the king relied on God!  He plead in II Chronicles 14:11:

      LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those
      who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and
      in Your name we go against this multitude.  O LORD, You are our God;
      do not let man prevail against You.

God answered the king’s petition!  In the next two verses it is recorded, “So the LORD struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled….And they carried away much spoil.

Move ahead some years later to the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s 41 year reign (see II Chronicles 16:1, 13).  It was then that “…Baasha king of Israel came up against Ramah, that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.” (II Chronicles 16:1).  What did King Asa do?

      Then Asa brought silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of
      the LORD and of the king’s house, and sent them to Ben-Hadad king
      of Syria…saying, “Let there be a treaty between you and me….break
      your treaty with Baasha king of Israel, so that he will withdraw from
      me.” (II Chronicles 16:2 and 3).

That’s what Ben-Hadad did.  The Syrians invaded Israel and Baasha withdrew from attacking Judah! (See II Chronicles 16:4, 5).  So the crisis was passed!  …or was it?  Hanani the seer met Asa when the king returned to Jerusalem – and the prophet rebuked him:  “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and…not…on the LORD your God, therefore the army of…Syria has escaped out of your hand.” (II Chronicles 16:7).  Syria would later plague Judah with invasions and war! (See II Chronicles 20:2; 22:5; 24:23; 28:5).  Hanani continued:

      Were the Ethiopians…not a huge army…?  Yet because you relied
      on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand.  For the eyes of the
      LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself
      strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.  In this you
      have done foolishly…. (II Chronicles 16:8 and 9).

Although our featured Scripture is in a negative context, it is a powerful positive truth!  “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”  We mentioned in the last blog that in Jewish thinking, the heart is the seat of all the inner workings of man – from which come all thoughts, words, and deeds!  A loyal heart toward God is when one is dedicated to Him, as Jesus said in Mark 12:30:  “…you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”  And when we put this in the context of John 14:15 in which Christ tells us, “If you love Me, keep My commandments…”– a loyal heart toward God is when one obeys…the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”  It is toward those that the LORD shows Himself strong on their behalf !

By the way, there is a further lesson to be learned from King Asa.  You see, the king did not repent of his sin when he was confronted by the prophet Hanani !  It says in II Chronicles 16:10 (Contemporary English Version):  “When Asa heard this, he was so angry that he put Hanani in prison.  Asa was also cruel to some of his people.”  Three more years passed.  We are told in II Chronicles 16:12, “…in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was very severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD but the physicians.”  When sin remains unconfessed and unrepented of, it hardens the heart!  Such a person just gets further and further away from God!

I want God’s Eyes on me for good!  So I sincerely try to keep my heart – my life – loyal to Him!  Do you?

Eyes – I

March 9, 2018

Image result for photo eyes of wicked

Psalm 94:3-11

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Eyes – the Bible says a great deal about Eyes, both the Eyes of God, and the Eyes of man!  Let’s start this series with Psalm 94:3 through 11:

      LORD, how long will the wicked…triumph?  They…speak insolent things;
      all the workers of iniquity boast in themselves.  They break in pieces Your
      people, O LORD, and afflict Your heritage.  They slay the widow and the
      stranger, and murder the fatherless.  Yet they say, “The LORD does not
      see, nor does the God of Jacob understand.”  Understand, you senseless
      among the people; and you fools, when will you be wise?  He who planted
      the ear, shall He not hear?  He who formed the eye, shall He not see?  He
      who instructs the nations, shall He not correct?…The LORD knows the
      thoughts of a man….

In verse 9 of this Scripture, the psalmist obliquely refers to the Eyes of the wicked and the Eyes of the LORD.

First, let’s define the wicked:

      II Chronicles 19:2 – “…the wicked…hate the LORD….”  Hate is a strong word!  But as Jesus said in John 8:12 and 9:5, “I am the light of the world.” (see also John 12:35, 36; I John 1:6, 7).  The Lord goes on to explain in John 3:19-21:

      …this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men
      loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every-
      one practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his
      deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes to the light that
      his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

Back when I was a rebellious teenager, I ran with a crowd that got into a lot of trouble – drinking, breaking and entering, stealing, vandalism, etc.  Most of the lawless things we did back then were done during the time of darkness.  We didn’t want to be exposed by the light and to be seen!

You might say that the wicked hate the LORD indirectly, because He, being light, exposes their sins!  And so they hate the light, the truth of His person (see John 14:6), and choose to …walk in darkness…! (John 8:12 – see also Isaiah 59:9; I John 1:6).  But the problem they then encounter is highlighted in Proverbs 4:19:  “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.” (see also John 12:35; I John 2:11).

      Psalm 1:6 (English Standard Version) – “…the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”  It is not just the wicked who will perish, but their way will also perishThe way of the wicked is their lifestyle, what they have invested all their resources in – time, money, talents, etc.  It will all come to nothing for eternity!

      Psalm 10:4 – “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.” (see also Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Romans 3:10-18).  If the wicked had any concept of a Biblical God, he or she would not engage in wickedness!  For it says in Psalm 36:1, “There is no fear of God before…[the] eyes…of the wicked.

      Psalm 28:3 – “…the wicked…speak peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their hearts.”  Christ taught in Luke 6:45:

      A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an
      evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.  For of the
      abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Not just words, but all outward actions start in the heart (the Jewish expression that encompasses the inner man, including the mind – see II Corinthians 10:3-5).  This is why we are told in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.

      Ezekiel 33:11 – “‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.  Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die…? ”  In the Old Testament, as well as the New, God does not want anyone to perish in their sins!  No matter how wicked a person might be, that one can be completely cleansed of sin and free of sin’s eternal consequences by faith in His mercy and grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ! (See, for instance, Paul’s statement in I Timothy 1:15; also John 5:24).

Generally speaking, the wicked, according to the Bible, are those who are estranged from God!  They may be judged to be fine people by society’s standards, but in God’s sight they are still locked in wickedness until they put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and are made righteous in Him before the Father – because Jesus is righteous! (See II Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:6).  We only stand as righteous before God when we are wearing His Son’s righteousness as if it were a robe! (See Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:1-5).

According to Psalm 94:7, the mindset of those who continue to practice wickedness is,The LORD does not see, nor does the God of Jacob understand.”  This is foolish thinking!  They act as if “There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1).  However, one can deny the existence of God (or anything else), but it does not change the fact of existence if, indeed, that One (or thing) does exist!  And if God does exist, as described in the Bible, “He who planted the ear, shall He not hear?  He who formed the eye, shall He not see?  He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct? ” (Psalm 94:9 and 10).  Beyond seeing, beyond hearing,The LORD [even] knows the thoughts of a man….” (Psalm 94:11 – see Psalm 139:1-5; John 2:24, 25).

So be aware of the God of the Bible, and act accordingly!  Don’t be found as wicked before Him!

Filled With Fragrance

March 7, 2018

Image result for photo Mary anointing Jesus' feetJohn 12:1-3

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Our featured Scripture is John 12:1 through 3:

      Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus, came to Bethany, where
      Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 
      There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was
      one of those who sat at the table with Him.  Then Mary took a pound
      of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped
      His feet with her hair.  And the house was filled with the fragrance of
      the oil.

We have delved into this Scripture before (see the blogs Relating To Jesus – I through III, October 28 through November 2, 2015), where we saw the three siblings of Bethany interacting with the Lord in three different ways:

      Service – “…Martha served…” (John 12:2).

      Fellowship – “…Lazarus…sat at the table with [Jesus]” (John 12:2).

      Worship – “…Mary took a pound of oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair…” (John 12:3).

But now lets focus on Mary and her act of worship, especially on what is recorded at the end of verse 3:  “And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”  Paul tells us in II Corinthians 2:14 through 16:

      Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ,
      and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every
      place.  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those
      who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  To the
      one we are the aroma of death to death, and to the other the aroma
      of life to life.  And who is sufficient for these things?

There are already two blogs written on this subject (see Gospel OdorJuly 1, 2013; and Leaving The ScentOctober 7, 2014); but this idea is well worthy of another one – especially as it is related to Mary of Bethany!  Here are some points that stand out to me:

      As Jesus said in John 12:7, “…she has kept this for the day of My burial.” (See also Matthew 26:6-12; Mark 14:3-8).  At this time, so close to the crucifixion, Mary seems to be the only one who understood that Christ was destined to soon die!

       ✞      The twelve disciples didn’t understand (see Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 9:31, 32; Luke 9:43, 44; 24:4-11).

       ✞      The Jews, including their leaders, didn’t understand (see Matthew 27:39-44; John 6:26-66).

       ✞      His siblings didn’t believe in Him (see John 7:2-5).

       ✞      Mary’s understanding and belief in her Lord seems to stem from the time she spent as she “…sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” (Luke 10:39).  There is nothing that will ever replace spending time hearing, studying, and meditating upon the Word of the Lord! (See Psalm 119:97-100; Acts 20:32; Romans 10:17).

       ✞      As it turned out, no one else got to properly anoint Jesus’ body for burial!

               ▸      He was hastily buried before sundown, the beginning of the Sabbath, upon which the Jews were commanded to do no work (see Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 2:42-46; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42).

               ▸      When the women came to complete the burial preparations, Jesus had already risen from the dead! (See Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-6).

If we are going to effectively spread the fragrance of the gospel of Jesus Christ to others, we must understand the purpose of His sacrifice!  As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:3 and 4 (English Standard Version):  “…Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…He was buried…[and] He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures….”  These two verses encompass the basics!  But remember, there is so much more to learn and master! (See Hebrews 5;11-6:3).

      The pound of oil of spikenard was very costly!  According to John 12:5, it could be “…sold for three hundred denarii….”  This was a full year’s wage for the laboring man!  It seems that Mary gave everything that was available to her!  This is another prerequisite to effectively spreading the fragrance of the gospel!

      “And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”  Everyone smelled the fragrance!  Everyone was affected by Mary’s sacrifice!  That’s what happens when the sacrifice is made on behalf of the Lord!

       ✞      Everyone was affected, but not everyone was blessed!  Remember what Paul said in II Corinthians 2:16:  “To the one we are the aroma of death to death….”  Judas experienced the aroma of Mary’s sacrifice, and it…

               ▸      …hardened his heart to betray Jesus to the authorities! (See Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10, 11).  This could be likened to Judas’ spiritual death!

               ▸      …ended in his tragic physical death!  “Then Judas…was remorseful and…threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3, 5 – see also Acts 1:18, 19).

       ✞      Many were blessed, for the aroma was of life to life!  For those who understand and accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on their behalf, truly Mary’s understanding and sacrifice for her Lord is a blessing and inspiration!  And Mary herself was certainly blessed!  For she, according to Matthew 26:13 and Mark 14:9, would be forever mentioned as a faithful and understanding woman who sacrificed deeply for her Lord!

By what do you want to be remembered?