Saturday, February 04, 2017

Saturday Scripture Speaks February 4

If you haven't begun reading the Bible every day, let me encourage you to do so now. God speaks to us in His Word, and that Word is Jesus Christ (John 1:1). For me, reading the Bible daily has become a habit. I read the Bible through in one year, every year since 2001. For you, perhaps it doesn't mean getting it all in within the span of a year, but maybe a chapter a day over the course of two years. No matter which route you choose, reading Scripture and letting it infuse your life is vital to your spiritual well-being. If you aren't sure about that, try reading a verse or two every day for a month and see what happens.

"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people's faces. You won't go in yourselves, and you don't let others enter either." Matthew 23:13- 14 (NLT)

That's Jesus speaking. For those of you who have the notion that Jesus Christ was always a soft spoken, laid back sort of guy, guess again! This passage, as well as others (Jesus toppling over the money changers' tables, for example), show us that the "Lamb who takes away the sins of the world" didn't always give people the impression that He was all that gentle.

But the Bible also calls Jesus "the Lion of Judah". Yeah, a roaring Lion, in fact.

Back to the passage in Matthew. Jesus was telling the Pharisees that they were effectively turning others from salvation because of their religious laws - which were not God's laws, but rather those which the Pharisees had accumulated over time, essentially making it impossible to live and breathe without breaking one.

I think that, in the beginning, their intentions were good. They wanted to honor God and not break any of the Ten Commandments (God's original Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai).  Over time, however, they began to add more and more "laws". Keep the Sabbath holy? Don't even carry a needle and thread in your pocket because that means you might sew, and sewing was doing work on the Sabbath.

By imposing these impossible rules, the Pharisees were shutting the door in people's faces. They wanted no part of the Kingdom because it was made up of rigid rules and nothing more. And remember that the Bible says not to add to or take away from it. (Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18-19)

Jesus also said that the Pharisees didn't go through the "door" either. Hmm. No wonder we use the word hypocrite to mean those who preach something but don't live it themselves. As an aside, the original meaning of "hypocrite" means "actor". Hypocrites "act" one way but live another.

And God sees that. He sees the heart. And He says that hypocrisy turns others away from God. From the salvation that is freely offered but seldom received.

This hypocrisy is rampant in the world today and rapidly growing worse by the day here in the United States. Our politics have caused division in our country, but sin underlies those politics. Both sides of the fence are calling each other hypocrites. And the people are hurting.

Furthering the Kingdom of God, however, doesn't begin at the presidential level. It starts at home, with you and me. Maybe if we live as we preach, showing love to people who aren't of our political persuasion, praying that God blesses our efforts and heals our land, then just maybe we will see people saved and living lives full of hope for an eternity with Christ - the Lamb sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins - the Lion of Judah, the mighty Savior before whom "every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord". (Romans 14:12)

Go to YouTube and listen to this song. It will bless you.

The Lion and the Lamb by Big Daddy Weave.

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