Posts Tagged ‘Pharisees’


Exodus 31:1-6,12-13,16-17 Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you… Then the LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy… The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’”

How beautiful is it when God reveals His desires for us? After God described the beautiful dwelling place He will live in to be with His people, He reveals that the materials are provided to the Israelites, as are the skills and the calling.

God certainly has shown total and perfect control in all He does and He has a beautiful way of using His people to achieve His objective. What then happens to great men like Moses and what is this about the Sabbath?

One great challenge we face as humans is our pride. Pride has served as a great stumbling block to many in their walk and continues to be among the greatest battles we face daily.

We today deal with challenges such as lack of self-confidence, low morale, poor esteem, low self-worth, etc. as issues that affect our personality and we try to work hard against it.

Children are taught from a young age to take charge, be leaders, be individual and confident in their presentations, we reaffirm them, motivate and inspire them, etc. to help them work away from the issues of low self-esteem.

With God, things seem to be very different. First God chooses a man who stammered, who had no face among the Egyptians or Israelites because he murdered and ran away, who was just a shepherd tending flocks and lived under the grace of his father in law Jethro.

Moses was that man and God used him to accomplish the great task of shaming the great Egyptians and freeing the Israelites from 430 years of bondage and slavery, all without an army or wealth or physical strength.

As Moses leads this great nation of over two million people across the sands of the desert to the promised land, God then establishes other men from among the nation to take up other responsibilities.

Clearly God is not in the process of making one man superstars but rather works on using each of His chosen ones to do His work when they are willing and ready.

When we are transformed by God’s love, we are each called to serve God and some may be called to be the face while others may be called behind the scenes but no single person’s role makes them any less important to God.

Further, God makes it clear to the Israelites that they were to keep the Sabbath without fail and the consequence of not keeping it was death! Seems a bit stiff as an expectation, you might wonder.

When we contrast those words of God to the words and actions of Christ in the 4 gospels, you are left shocked as were the Jews of Jesus’ day because we see that our understanding of God’s words are not complete and Jesus reveals the meaning and purpose of God’s word.

Read these passages from the gospels and think about Jesus’ response: Matthew 12:1-16; Mark 3:2; Luke 6:1-5; Luke 13:10-17; John 6:2-18; John 7:23.

On the sabbath day, Jesus healed people and ate grain from the fields and this stirred up the keepers of the law who lived by this commandment in Exodus 31:16-17 and Deuteronomy 5:14.

Jesus responded to them asking them how they felt about David’s actions when he and his companions were hungry and went into the temple and ate the consecrated bread. It was unlawful for them but not for the priests.

Furthermore, priests work on the sabbath day and that is certainly unlawful as per the law, yet they are considered innocent. The problem here was not the action but that God desired mercy, not sacrifice.

Sabbath was the day of rest from regular work but it is a day to celebrate God’s goodness to us. We are called to spend the day worshipping God. No law must be understood so as to contradict itself. Jesus Christ is the Lord of the sabbath and the day is to be dedicated to Him for His glory.

In His Loving Service,
ServantBoy

Advertisements

John 12:42-43
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

During Jesus’ ministry, his life was constantly in danger from people who were threatened by his ministry and the fear was not that Jesus was able, was the messiah, was the Son of God or was strong but it was the fact that people started to throng after him. The Jews in authority were the ones who controlled the temple and this control gave them access to immense wealth, great respect, followings of people who would give everything up for them and a life where they were always looked up to. Suddenly Jesus came and seemed to steal their thunder. I’ve often condoned them and anyone else who tries to stand against the gospel but I now see them in a different light.

I was and am sometimes like one of these men of power. It seems like pride continues to be a stumbling block in our lives specially when we overcome difficulties and seem to be comfortable. Comfortable is an uncomfortable place for me spiritually because like those men, I tend to get complacent and judgmental and look down upon people whom I consider less privileged. I am reminded today that the ones I judge must call me brother for I have been in their shoes and I do not want to be judged by the Lord by his standards. If we were to stand before God in his perfect holiness, we would be totally destroyed for we are full of sin and filth but I praise God for he has washed me clean in his son Jesus’ blood that I now can spend eternity in heaven in God’s presence. I pray that the Lord would keep us humble and never let pride or fear of man find any room in our lives.

In His Loving Service,
Vineet

PS: Sign up for daily devotionals by clicking the email subscription icon at the top right of this page or by visiting http://groups.google.com/group/in-his-loving-service. Also, share this with your friends and family who need some encouragement and direction in their lives.


John 11:47-52
Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.

A long while back, I had this deep desire to write about my interpretation of God’s work in and through time and space in the form of a tapestry. This was a really big tapestry with fine colors, intricate patterns, many stories etched in every inch of the painting but all adding up to an awesome image of perfectness and the painter was God himself. What I found most interesting was that the darker colors seemed to try to eclipse the lighter pastel shades but somehow the lighter ones were so beautiful that they were well contrasted by the overwhelming darks. God works through all of Satan’s attempts to distort humanity and achieves something far more beautiful. None of this might make sense to you but in today’s passage, it just came back to me again.

Caiaphas spoke words that were ill meant and intended death and destruction to Jesus but to Caiaphas’ dismay, Jesus was Lord over life and death and no act of man could destroy the creator himself. The only hope we as humans have in making our lives purposeful here on earth and then enjoying eternity in God’s presence is through a sacrifice that is pure and perfect, none other than Jesus Christ himself. We need to stop fretting about Satan’s damage and start focusing on Jesus. He has won the battle and we just need to give him glory and ask for his direction every step of our way.

In His Loving Service,
Vineet

PS: Sign up for daily devotionals by clicking the email subscription icon at the top right of this page or by visiting http://groups.google.com/group/in-his-loving-service. Also, share this with your friends and family who need some encouragement and direction in their lives.


John 8:3-6, 7, 9-11
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him… When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”… At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

To those who were trying to cause Jesus to falter in dealing with this situation, it must have been crushing. Not only was Jesus responding to their every taunt but he was in fact teaching them through these situations. If this was not Godly wisdom, Jesus was certainly more wise than the wisest. However, to Jesus’s accusers, do you think they learnt from this verbal thrashing? Until God the father chooses who will receive and who will not receive him, rivals of Christ will never believe. A few may but most will continue to be hard hearted and like Saul (Before his conversion), they will be riveted by this desire to disprove God but only to their own loss.

It is amazing how the world tends to revolve around controversies and of late, the press has continued to use the brokenness of Tiger Wood’s life as a platform to sell their media. Place Tiger Woods at the same place as the woman caught in adultery in the passage above and tell me what Jesus would do? Some of us may or may not have committed adultery but have certainly sinned in many ways and this has caused our relationship with God to be strained. For God, there is no bigger and smaller sin and we are not in a position to judge others, only God can. I’ve probably mentioned Tiger a few weeks back but this passage reminded me once again that we are called to stand in the gap and pray for the lost, not mock and condemn them. Which side are you on?

In His Loving Service,
Vineet

PS: Sign up for daily devotionals by clicking the email subscription icon at the top right of this page or by visiting http://groups.google.com/group/in-his-loving-service. Also, share this with your friends and family who need some encouragement and direction in their lives.

Flying Turtle


Mark 12:41-44
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,j worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

As the threats to Jesus increase and the attacks of the Pharisees and Sadducees get worse, Jesus continues to patiently teach his disciples rather than being stressed about the terrible things that are to come. What’s most amazing is that Jesus knew exactly what would happen and rather than avoiding the horrid betrayal and crucifixion, he is focussed on sharing the gospel, saving as many souls and clarifying the reality of what God wants for man. This observation he makes of the poor widow is again such a wonderful reminder about the fact that God looks at our hearts not the outward appearances we make.

We are often reminded by Jesus that he doesn’t want us to speak “Churchinese” or “Act holy” or make gestures that show we are Christian in Church specially when we don’t mean it. When we are faced with the world, what’s in our hearts shows in our way of dealing with non-Christians and our lives are a reflection of our hearts. The old widow gave all she had to tell God that her trust was completely on God whereas we will count our pennies and give what we think is right. If that’s our attitude, it will be so even when we serve God and show our love to the lost. What God wants of us is our everything, not just measured portions. If we truly understand the sacrifice God made for us, we will know that our everything will not add up to a fraction of what the Lord has done for us. Lets not count the pennies and count the cost but consider it pure joy to submit our lives to our Lord and Savior and glorify him shamelessly. He will reward us in his time and take care of our every need.

In His Loving Service,
Vineet

PS: Visit http://groups.google.com/group/in-his-loving-service to read the archives or subscribe to the daily devotionals

Nature's Perfect Mirror


Mark 11:28-33
“By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’…” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

For a man who was going to be betrayed, the kind of things Jesus did at the end seemed insane. Entering on a donkey and getting praise from the lips of common folk certainly did not sit well with those in authority there. Adding insult to injury was when Jesus entered the temple courts and threw all the sellers out and overturned the tables of the money changers. These were people who managed to work their way into the temple courts through befriending the Pharisees and they charged exorbitant rates for sacrifices and money changing because they had exclusive dominion in that place and worshippers had no choice but to buy from them. Worse than all of this was that Jesus sat and taught the people who came into the temple courts about what God wanted for their lives and this shook the very foundation of the faith at that time.

It is clear from the passage above that Jesus was not going to be ‘Shooed’ away and if these temple priests wanted him out, they would have to come up with something more than accusations. The only option they had then was to make falsified charges and take his life which was certainly what Jesus came for. He came to die for sinners and to give us hope of eternity with him through his resurrection. Are you willing to put your trust in Jesus who fought the world to clarify the truth to save us? Are you willing to stand up against the powers of this world and evil to proclaim his name above every other name? Lets not be caught sleeping when he come again. Lets rise us and share the gospel with the lost sheep and help them find their shepherd, Jesus Christ.

In His Loving Service,
Vineet

Fields of Harvest


Mark 8:34-38
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

As the pressure from the Pharisees mounted on Jesus to make the world doubt him, he traveled from place to place sharing the gospel because he knew his time was short and there were many who need saving. He dint fight back with the Pharisees because he knew how futile it was to try and change the mind of the hard hearted who had no space for a messiah in their lives. Today’s passage is one that most of us have heard but don’t enjoy much because these are not words of encouragement to the world. Instead, they are words of caution and only a genuine follower of Christ would see the sweetness of what the Lord was saying.

I am the sort of person most people might think of as nice whereas in reality I had some serious issues with sin. I still have areas of difficulty and not to turn back to my old ways is very hard. If there has been change, it was only because the Lord has enabled it in me. However, the big issue is that sometimes, we feel like God would understand if in our humanness we faltered a tiny bit. Unfortunately, that is Satan tripping us into our old selves and we need to always stand guard. To be able to witness real change, we need to hand over the reins of our life to God. When we do so, we will look foolish and ‘uncool’ to the world and might face persecution for it but we will be giving God glory. Are you willing to be shameless to the world for God to transform you and gain victory over sin or do you want to gain the world and loose eternity with God?

In His Loving Service,
Vineet

Nut Cracker in the Woods