The Other Side of Jesus

Today’s reading is Luke 19.

When the wicked servant expresses his fear of the nobleman’s severity, the nobleman doesn’t respond, “Come now. Why do you think that? I am gracious and loving. I would never take what I didn’t deposit and reap what I didn’t sow. Here, try again. This time, let me be of more help.” Instead, the nobleman condemns the wicked slave, removes his mina, gives it to another servant. Then, he goes and slaughters all the people who didn’t want him to be their king. Here is the big question. Whom does the nobleman represent in this story? Have you thought about it? Are you ready to say it? The nobleman is Jesus. Never believe that the gracious love of the Lord and King Jesus Christ means He is someone to be trifled with, taken for granted, or taken advantage of. We cannot dismiss Him, ignore Him, or defy Him and then when He comes in judgment protest, “But I thought you were loving and gracious.” For those who put their faith in Him, He is a gracious and victorious strength for deliverance, rescue, and salvation. For those who refuse to surrender to Him, He is a severe and dominating judge for punishment and condemnation. Jesus is not a two-dimensional character in a poorly developed book. He is a multi-faceted complex being who was God in the flesh. Because of His gracious love, we do not have to live in terror of His severe judgment, but we must not forget it either.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 19.

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God Knows Your Heart

Today’s reading is Luke 16.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Christians explain the grace of God for their sins by saying, “Well, God knows my heart.” This is sometimes said as if our heartfelt devotion and personal sincerity make up for our sins. “Hey, I may be mistaken about how to worship God scripturally, but God knows my heart.” We say that as if we do not recognize how terribly frightening the prospect of God knowing our hearts really is. Jesus’s words to the Pharisees in Luke 16:15 demonstrate this. Jesus makes it clear to His detractors. “God knows your heart.” And that fact does not bode well for them. God is not fooled by the outwardly righteous demeanor of the Pharisees. He knows exactly how rotten their hearts are. As Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV). God does not give His grace to us because of how amazingly devout and sincere we are in our hearts. God doesn’t overlook our sins because we meant well. After all, if that was the basis of salvation, it wouldn’t be grace, would it? Here is the amazing thing. Despite knowing our hearts, Jesus died for us anyway. He established His kingdom. We need it. None of this, of course, is permission to be an insincere hypocrite. None of this, of course, is permission to be an apathetic, half-hearted citizen of the kingdom. It is, however, a reminder that our comfort is not that Jesus knows our hearts, but in discovering and knowing the heart of Jesus.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 16.

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Saving the Sinful

Today’s reading is Luke 7.

Simon’s ultimate problem was comparing himself to the wrong person in that room. It may well be that comparing sin for sin, Simon the Pharisee had not committed as many sins as the sinful woman. By human standards, he may not have even committed as awful sins as the sinful woman. The problem was he shouldn’t compare himself to the woman. He should compare himself to Jesus. That is what we need to keep in mind. Sure, I can find people around me that are worse sinners than I am. That can salve my conscience regarding my sins. But I don’t need to be salved, I need to be saved. Only Jesus can do that. Compare yourself to Him. Realize how holy He is. Then be amazed that He came to save the sinful. Reach out and take hold of Jesus’s hand. He won’t knock it away. He does know how sinful we are, but He wants us to touch Him anyway. Praise the Lord!

Monday’s reading is Luke 8.

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They’re Watching

Today’s reading is Luke 6.

It was Saturday. Jesus and His disciples were walking through a grain field–a harmless, even seemingly pointless activity. They were just out walking, going from point A to point B. But who was on hand? The Pharisees. “Ha! We caught you. You’re breaking the Law!” Then on another Sabbath, in the middle of their time of worship and teaching, what were the scribes and Pharisees doing? Listening to the teaching? Worshiping God? Examining their own lives to see how they measured up to the teaching? Nope. They were watching Jesus so they could figure out some way to accuse Him. The fascinating thing, of course, is Jesus never sinned. Yet, they drummed up plenty of accusations to make. Fast forward to today. People are still watching. Those who don’t want to surrender to Jesus, who don’t want to curtail their sin, who don’t want to have a King other than self, are looking for reasons to make accusation. Understand, there are going to be enough things that we do that are not sinful that they will use to accuse, let’s not give them additional reasons. I am leery of even posting this because in its most extreme application, I’m essentially saying, “Don’t sin.” While that is a true and necessary instruction, I also know if we try to say we don’t have sin and we won’t ever sin again, we’re lying and don’t have truth in us (see 1 John 1:8, 10). I don’t want to overwhelm us with an instruction none of us believe we can attain. I’m not asking us to be perfect today. I’m just asking us to be aware. They are watching. We are an advertisement for Jesus. Sometimes that advertisement is the humility to admit when we messed up and seek forgiveness. But let’s remember, when we use the world’s tactics in our discussions with them, when we call names, when we get in faces, when we yell and holler and scream, when we gloss over facts to make our case, and when we pursue brazen hypocrisy, they are watching. Look, the world is going to forever throw up in our faces the ungodly Crusades and Inquisitions. We can’t do anything about that. But we can make sure we aren’t going on our own personal crusade and inquisition today. Again, they’re watching. Let’s give them something positive to talk about.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 6.

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Grace is NOT Permission to Sin

Today’s reading is 1 John 3.

Whenever someone starts explaining that we are saved by the grace of God through our Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous and not through our own good works, someone else begins to fear that we are giving permission to pursue sin. Not at all. In fact, John’s first letter is a great demonstration of that. We read yesterday that if we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to fear that if we sin, we are lost. However, in today’s reading, John explains that if we take that as permission to sin and pursue sin and continue in the ongoing practice of sin, we are not the elect, saved of God, but are children of the devil. The grace and advocacy of Jesus is the power and strength to pursue righteousness despite our failures, it is not the permission to pursue sin despite God’s will. God’s grace offers nothing to those looking to get away with sin. It offers everything to those longing to overcome it. What are you longing for today?

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 John 4.

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God’s Glory Matters; God’s Authority Matters

Today’s reading is John 7.

Why does the issue of authority matter? Is it because we have to prove we are better at keeping rules? Is it because if we don’t cross all the Ts and dot all the Is we’ll go to hell? Is it because we have to earn our way into heaven by following the pattern? No. None of these things is the reason. The reason authority matters is because God’s glory matters. When I act on my own authority, I’m seeking my own glory. When I’m seeking God’s glory, I act on His authority. It’s just that simple. Whose glory are you seeking? How can you tell?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 8

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Comfort and Caution

Today’s reading is Hebrews 10.

Because Jesus’s one sacrifice for sin actually works, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Praise the Lord! What comfort. I don’t “go to church” as a sacrifice to get my sins forgiven. I don’t pray, read my Bible, give up some sin, teach people the gospel, or any other activity as a sacrifice to get my sins forgiven. I don’t have to chase forgiveness by my sacrifices. Rather, because Jesus’s sacrifice works, I live in His forgiveness and act based upon it. But, that means there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. What caution. If I decide to ditch the sacrifice of Jesus and live by the pleasures of my eyes and flesh and by my pride of life, pursuing sin impenitently, flippantly, carelessly, rebelliously, there is nothing I can do to make up for that. There is nothing else coming down the pike to take care of that. Jesus’s sacrifice is the one that works, and it is the only one that is coming. God has no plan B. My choices are either to ignore the one sacrifice that works and lose all hope, or take comfort in the one sacrifice that works by surrendering to it and living my life based upon it. Which option will you choose today?

Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 11. Continue reading “Comfort and Caution”