Don’t Look Inside Because I Don’t Like What I Will See

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“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”   Matthew 23:25-26

Real change requires a look inside. An infected saint knows this all too well. I have tried in every other way, but my own journey says in order to make lasting change in your life, it starts with an honest look at your insides.

What does it mean to change? You know God desires it. You know there are things hindering you that He wants removed. But if you are like me, the struggle is real, and change is extremely difficult. When you are forced to look within, you know something needs addressing. You know there is something dreadfully wrong. It creeps up when we are put on the spot or someone dislikes us or we feel foolish. Something in us feels really broken, and we want to quit thinking about it as quickly as possible. We make ourselves busy, or we shift our thinking so we don’t have to deal with the unpleasantry of the wound within.

When we take time to look on the inside, to go deeper than what is at surface level, we find that things are complicated. It only takes a moment to realize, while there are good things happening, we have a really long way to go. Our garden is not without weeds. We wish we were better than we are, but we are not. And what is the result of this? It brings strong feelings of shame to our life. Shame makes us want to hide. Sometimes, it can be strong enough to make us want to curl up in the fetal position, hide in the closet or run with all our might to escape.

We want to feel whole. We want to feel like things are good and in order. We don’t want to feel empty or rejected. We avoid it at all costs. Yet, without an honest look at what is going on inside, how can we ever really change? How can we ever become like Christ? How can we ever experience the joy that is ours in Him?

Looking inside brings real fear. We are not sure we can face it and make it. It requires loads of courage to investigate deeper into our soul. If we want to change, we have to face our own sin and insecurities. We can’t be like the Pharisees who put out an image to everyone that was not consistent with who they really were in their souls. We have to face the pain, the shame, the guilt, the weakness. We have to face it in confidence that Christ’s grace is greater than our sin. That He will not leave us exposed and condemned.

How do we receive this great grace? We face courageously the depth of our sinfulness and we repent. Repentance moves us from deceiving ourselves that everything is okay to trusting in Christ’s work. Repentance produces a growing strength and stability in our inner core. It produces a change of character. It is the Gospel at work in us.

Let your complacency be disrupted by looking within. Change can only happen when we are first unsettled at our core. When we take the time to face our demons and get the help we need. Once we do, change is possible with the work of Christ and the accountability and support of others. God wants to do a mighty work in you – so have the courage to trust Him as He reveals the depths of your soul to you and changes you from the inside out.

 

Last Week of Jesus- Wednesday


Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus.

 14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.     Matthew 26:14-16

This is Wednesday of the last week of Jesus before he would be viciously killed. It’s a day of rest as they prepare for Passover. The disciples are with Jesus, resting with Him, but one slips away. Judas Iscariot make his way to see the chief priests and strikes a deal with them for 30’pieces of silver: that is about equivalent to 400-600.00 today. In that day it was enough to purchase one slave (Expdus 21:32)

600 dollars is not much to betray God and lose your soul.

We might forget that Jesus chose Judas after praying all night. They spent every day together for three years, talking, eating together, laughing. Jesus sent him out to minister. Judas shared in the miracle of feeding 5,000 people. His was in the circle of trust. Not much hurts worse than being betrayed by a brother.

And the priests were more than happy to pay Judas. They hated Jesus. They were jealous of His power, for who of them could raise the dead? Give sight to the blind? Hearing to the deaf? Heal them of all diseases? Deliver them from demons? Who could create food? Control storms? They were also jealous of His popularity for His power had garnered Him popularity, the likes of which no person ever walking on this planet had received because none had ever done what He did. They were jealous of the accolades He received from the crowd. They hated His message.

 Theirs was a message of earn your salvation by works, and His was a message of repent for your sin and receive your salvation as a gift of grace, and they hated that because they were proud and self-righteous. They wanted to earn their way in.

It was done. Jesus would be betrayed. Judas greed had won out. The Chief Priests got the last word. Satan had struck the final blow. Or so it looked… But it was all in the plan.

It had all been foretold in the prophecies. Jesus would be betrayed and he would die for it. But it was God’s plan all along. What Satan meant for the greatest victory for evil, God would use to redeem the world. Jesus endured the betrayal of a brother, the loneliesness of being a rejected leader, and the punishment of a deadly criminal all for us. He did it all so we could live free. He did it because He loved us intensely. Never forget! Never take this sacrifice for granted!

Last Week of Jesus- Tuesday

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36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

It is Tuesday of the last week of Jesus life on this earth. Jesus is departing Bethany and heading into the inner part of the city of Jerusalem for Passover. While He is starting the two mile journey from Bethany, Jesus engages in discussion with those on the road. At one point He encounters the Scribes. The Scribes, lawyers of the Pharisees, pose a question to Jesus. Their intent is not pure. They are not seeking to learn from Jesus’ wisdom nor are they just inquisitive. Rather, they want to trip Him up so that they can “catch” Him in a contradiction or blasphemy.

They ask him which is the greatest commandment. Instead of choosing one, Jesus brilliantly encapsulates all ten commandments by alluding to Deuteronomy 6:5 (Shema). By telling them to love God with their whole being, He captures the essence of the first five commandments. He then refers to loving your neighbor, which undergirds the second five commandments. These two commandments sum them all up. The scribes couldn’t disagree with His logic. They were unable to trip Jesus up and in turn He made a profound statement summing up what two pursuits are the most important for us in life… to love God and to love your neighbor.

We make our faith much more complicated than it should be. We make it about a list of do’s and do nots; about rules and regulations; traditions and rituals. It transcends that.

Here is how I suggest you should live.You might be shocked on my prescription but I think God would back me on it:  I have two things for you to do and from there do whatever you want. I mean it, no boundaries. Live like you want with no pressure. Don’t try and live in accordance with a bunch of rules and regulations. Do whatever you want to do. I am serious. I just want you to simply follow two principles. Just two. After that you are completely free to do what you want. Two things: Love God with all you are and love your neighbor as yourself. If you do these two things you don’t have to wonder if you are living right. You don’t have to wonder if you are doing enough. You don’t have to measure up to any other standard. Just love God with all you are and love others as much as you love yourself and from there do whatever you want.

Church if we take Jesus seriously and begin to live out these two principles it will transform not only us but the world around us. Your biggest obstacle here is yourself. The biggest threat to our obedience to these two greatest commandments is that we love self too much. I don’t want you to hate yourself. As Keller said, “humility is not thinking less of yourself but rather thinking about yourself less.” Jesus is not asking you to not enjoy life or to do nothing for yourself. He is asking us to think of self less so that we make room for what should be priority in our life as Christians, to love God and to love our neighbor.

If we don’t love , then who out there is going to take us seriously? If we live the same way they do then how can we say we have anything different worth taking notice of? They need to see our love for God and love for them as consistent and genuine. If not then we are guilty of being what they call us, hypocrites.  We show our faith to be ingenue and not worth considering. Love is the key.

We need to put more effort into responding to our God in love. We do this by praying to Him, worshipping Him, and obeying Him. Those three acts speak love to our God. Find time to do those outside of Sunday. As you love God more you will begin to care more and more about others. What could you do this week as an anonymous act for someone else that shows them love and care? There are hurting people all around you. Plenty of people need your care today. Take time to do an act of kindness for them in the name of Christ. Don’t do this on display so that you get the glory. Let your actions and words point them to Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

RELIGION OR JESUS

There is a wide gap between works based religion and the relationship Jesus preached. Here are six comparisons that get to the heart of the difference. Do you find yourself struggling with some of these descriptions of religion? I know I do.

 

Religion sees behavior as the issue.                                

Jesus deals with the root of the issue.

Religion cleans up the outside.                                      

 Jesus cleanses from within.

Religion seeks approval of others.                                  

Jesus cared only for the approval of His Father.

Religion makes it all about us.                                          

Jesus made it all about him.

Religion defines you by what you do.                              

Jesus defines you by whose you are.  

Religion keeps you in bondage.                                        

Jesus sets you free.

SIN OF LEGALISM

Legalism is alive and well in churches today, and none of us are immune from its ways.

At the root of legalism is selfishness and pride.  Legalism feeds the selfish nature.  The legalist relies on willpower to do rightly, believing this pleases God and earns His favor.  This makes sense to our mind, but it is not the way God measures value.  We all need to be very thankful for that!

Legalism is appealing.  We like it because it appeals to our self-reliant nature, but self-reliance is antithetical to all that Christianity stands for.  The Gospel condemns our acts of righteousness.  Our righteousness leaves a stench to God.

It is not because we cannot do anything that is good.  It is because anything we do that is good is tainted by a wicked, glory-hungry, heart.  All our attempts at goodness are tainted by sin.

This gets to the heart of legalism.  The problem is motive; our actions are not enough.  Motive is essential.  Even Jesus said follow what the Pharisees teach, but do not live like they do (Matt 23:3).  The Pharisees did good works by following the law, but their motives were impure.

Everything the legalist does in the name of God, feeds their hunger to gain value.  And that is the problem.  It is impossible for man to earn enough value to be found worthy of God’s standard (Rom 3:23).

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being clean on the outside but rotten on the inside.  It’s all about the heart, the motive behind what we do.  When Christ has transformed our lives by the Gospel, we have a new heart, a new motive, that looks to honor God.  Christ becomes the motivating factor of our actions.  The Christian desires to give glory to God through his actions.  The legalist desires to give glory to self by their actions.

Legalism is alive and well today and takes many forms.  From style of music to versions of the Bible to facial hair to dress. It’s vital that churches preach the importance of relationship and not rules, that Jesus is exalted and not man, that grace abounds and not works-righteousness.  It is the call of the Church to safeguard the Gospel from anything that lessens the centrality of Jesus.