Luke Jumbo Jet

​Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” – Luke 7:47 ESV

I love this passage from Luke 7:36-50 which was a shock to the religious people of that day. I imagine this reaction was very similar to how many “religious people” today react to a message like the one shared recently by Andrew Green, pastor of Highways and Hedges Ministries in Cookeville, Tennessee entitled:

“PROSTITUTES, DOPE DEALERS, STRIPPERS, MURDERERS, NEEDLE JUNKIES, CRACK HEADS, METH USERS! ETC… GODS GOING TO RAISE UP A ARMY OF THESE FOR HIS GLORY!”

REF: https://www.facebook.com/evangelistandrewgreen/

You see, this is where I see the active, alive, abiding, serving church — taking the Good News to the poor, the needy,  the afflicted and helping them — not just telling “others” that they had better “measure up” to the standards of the “good Christians” in order to be able to join in Sunday services. And don’t get me wrong,  I’m not advocating a life of sin at all, but I’m wondering how many polished and disciplined facades are just precariously built walls barely holding back the religious stench of death where there is no real love for God or for brother or neighbor? Only vanity uncovered yet again in some sparkly new, unfamiliar packaging.

When I see God moving in undeniable ways,  it isn’t in the “strong,  wise,  proud, and religious” — it’s in the weak,  the broken, the humble, and the needy. It’s in those who know that they need Him, that they can’t make it without Him, that they are utterly destitute and without any chance of hope if it doesn’t flow down from Him. 

If you don’t think that you have sin,  then what in the world do you have to be thankful for this Christmas season? Instead of a Savior,  do you see a tour guide whom you feel you can best with your own attempts to earn your way? 

Or don’t we all have those deep, dark actions,  or words,  or even thoughts that we would be ashamed if the wold around us really knew the depths of our darkness? Or maybe that’s just me? Maybe you all have not denied God so many times in your life to chase after the world’s relations? Maybe you all have been obedient to God and to parents and have not lied, or stolen, or lusted, or hated, or judged, or gossiped, or cursed,  or doubted? I think not. 

So I’m glad that this message came in from Luke on a Jumbo Jet. Yes, that’s what they called the popular Boeing 747, a “Jumbo Jet”, because it was big, and it transported large numbers of people to their destination. And this is true of Luke 7:47 if you understand how to get onboard the only path that leads to a destination you actually want. If you’re practicing religion, trying to be good enough out of some obligation to satisfy God’s wrath, you may have missed the whole point of Christ. In fact,  yours might be even more shocking a demonstration of His wrath than that in store for the carnal and lawless reprobate.

It concerns me how many will realize too late their own fate, the futile nature of loveless religious traditions and sacrifices,  but I know that God knows best. 

“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.  But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.” – Hosea 6:6‭-‬7 ESV


But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” – Matthew 9:13 NKJV

Gomer, Hosea, Christ

When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.” So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son.
Hosea 1:2-3 NLT
http://bible.com/116/hos.1.2-3.NLT

This isn’t Hosea finding a whore on his own and saying,  “God, make her mine.”  No,  many men have been enticed by their eyes and their flesh to chase after the harlots of this age that don’t even walk the streets,  but that peddle their bodies to men unknown from their own bedrooms over the Internet. And the same can be said for these foolish men who send indiscreet and inappropriate pictures to the daughters of God, who seek to commit incest with sisters in Christ who are to be another man’s wife. We don’t get to twist this passage into something that justifies sexual immorality, fornication, prostitution, exhibitionism, perversion – because it does not. These things are still part of the “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” that we find in Galatians 5.

No, this is God saying to Hosea that he will do as God instructs, even if Hosea is aware of the risks and danger and ridicule and embarrassment and betrayal that will come from marrying such a woman – He has to trust that God has a meaning and purpose that is more important than his own wants and concerns.

This is a different kind of faith than what is sold on TV and from behind so many pulpits that seek to make merchandise of the children of God. This isn’t a message about getting God to give you what you want now. This isn’t about living your best life now. This isn’t about God or His children participating in the ways the law breakers. This is a message about the obedience of a man of God to the calling and purpose set before him by God,  even when He knows the cost to himself will be great.

Yes, this is the life that Christ talks about when He says that we will face trials and tribulations and suffering in this life. This is the life that we hear about when we learn that we will be a peculiar people, strangers/foreigners walking through this world,  living lives clearly set apart from the ways of the world – even as we walk amongst the world and show them and teach them about Christ. And He tells us that the world cannot receive the Spirit of truth,  and that many will go to destruction,  and that if we stand faithful that we will face persecution.

Does this sound like a preacher trying sell worldly promises of prosperity in this life in order to fill the pews with dead bodies and his pockets to overflowing with their money? No,  this is about our God who searches for even one heart that truly seeks Him and wants to know Him and serve Him.

God doesn’t promise Hosea a faithful wife if he is obedient and faithful. And Good doesn’t promise us that those we love and help and serve will return or love with anything less than betrayal and treachery. Look at His example on the cross – He came to them with love and truth and they hated and crucified Him for it. And He tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him,  to not turn back, that true love is to lay down our lives for others.

This is not the sugary sweet half truths that get people excited and distracted by great entertainment and a charismatic teacher and a message that leaves them comfortable as the God of their own lives – that feeds philosophical ideals and life lessons,  but leaves them no closer to a godly, righteous life with Jesus as Lord of their lives, with His will being done in their lives. It is vanity, repackaged and sold religious materials sold by the DVD and book and thirty that bears the names of men,  and companies, instead of the name of God. It is the fleecing of the flock by the wolves, while Jesus told us that His disciples will feed His sheep (not feed off of them).

Hosea obeyed.

Hosea faced disappointment.
Hosea faced betrayal.
Hosea faced embarrassment.

Because his whore wife did what whores do, she committed adultery, she went to the only thing that she knew. Because Hosea knew God, but his new wife did not. There are many we will help and serve as followers of Christ who will hurt us and betray us, but it is not about us.

Yes, this is the hardest idol to lay down – self. It is not about you,  friend. It is about Christ who either lives in you or who is waiting for you to hear His call. And I’m not selling you rainbows and sunshine and lollipops – I’m saying, count the cost. If you believe Him,  then it is clear that there is nothing in this world worth your eternal soul,  no matter the trials and tribulations that you might face.

Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them. ” So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine.
Hosea 3:1-2 NLT
http://bible.com/116/hos.3.1-2.NLT

And after Hosea’s wife proved herself unfaithful and returned to her adultery – God didn’t tell Hosea that he had the legal grounds to divorce his wife. No, God tells him to go and love his wife again. And it even cost him to buy her back. This sounds costly, this sounds like sacrifice, this sounds like it would have been impossible for a proud man – and you’re right, but for a humble man,  submitted to God’s will it is just another act of faith.

And this act of faith wasn’t to build up or equip Hosea, or to buy Him any more love or favor from God who already loves Him fully – this act of faith was about being a clear find visible example of faith to a rebellious nation. Our acts of faith are meant to be a living testimony to a dark,  lost world – even when it has a cost – ESPECIALLY when it has a cost.

Yes, at some point,  we were Gomer and needed rescue by Christ (our personal Hosea). But if you are married to Christ in baptism,  and if He’s even bought you back from your rebellious ways with the Holy Spirit that lives in you – don’t we see that at some point we should be realizing that the world needs us to be more like Hosea? How many of us still think of ourselves as Gomer when He is telling us,

“You are forgiven, you are born again, you are no longer like Gomer, you are like Hosea. I have not only given you a new name in Christ, I have come to live in you and to bring life to the world by raising up my children. Stand up, Child of God – you are called to your pups and mission. You are no longer Gomer,  but I send you out to the Gomers of this world, like sheep among wolves. But I am with you always. Go and let them see Christ who lives in you.”

Whole Truth = Truth, Half Truth = Lies

We are naturally most comfortable with a god of puppies and rainbows and smiles and celebration – but we have less real interest in a God that is righteous and holy and pure. We are more interested in taking and leaving truth as we see fit, trying to form an idea of our own personal god as something that is more comfortably familiar to ourselves and our ways. What a twist of the enemy, to explain away the beauty of Grace by offering an empty, powerless “heaven ticket redeemable at death” instead of “a new,  born again life transformed and renewed to walk with Christ alive in you today” – to offer the half truth of “freedom from the consequences of sin” instead of revealing the whole truth of “freedom to overcome sin in our life and walk in the Spirit not in the flesh”. But since the beginning, many have been more interested in seeing themselves as gods rather than yielding to the one true God.

“Come, let us return to the Lord . He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord ! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

“O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the Lord . “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight. I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces— to slaughter you with my words, with judgments as inescapable as light. I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. But like Adam, you broke my covenant and betrayed my trust.

“Gilead is a city of sinners, tracked with footprints of blood. Priests form bands of robbers, waiting in ambush for their victims. They murder travelers along the road to Shechem and practice every kind of sin. Yes, I have seen something horrible in Ephraim and Israel: My people are defiled by prostituting themselves with other gods!

“O Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you, though I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.
Hosea 6:1-11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/hos.6.1-11.NLT

Don’t we know that the Lord chastens  the child that He loves? (Hebrews 12:6, Proverbs 3:12, Revelation 3:19)

Don’t we know that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin,  and righteousness,  and judgement? (John 16:8)

So if we are actively living in sin and aren’t convicted about it,  shouldn’t that bring about some kind of fear of God? Some kind of wisdom and understanding of the state and destination and preparation of our souls? Shouldn’t it shine light on our blindness, nakedness, and need for belief in our hearts, not just our words or thoughts?

Lord, help us to see you as you are so that we will be convicted to lay down those things in our lives that do not bring you glory and honor. Help us to believe in our hears and to know you and love you. We have broken your trust,  we have fallen short, but we trust in your promises, we confess with our mouths that you are our Lord and Savior, we believe in our hearts that you are our adopted heavenly Father, we serve you and love you with the living testimony of the sacrifice of our old flesh nature and desires – replaced by the annointing and overflow of your Holy Spirit that lives in us. You are the only way, the only truth, and the only life – and we come to the Father through you who have led us back home through the narrow gate and along the narrow path. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, God. Amen.

Righteous? Sinner? Who are you?

Today’s Manna – Our Daily Bread
http://bible.com/116/hos.14.9.nlt
Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.

Observation
Oh what a sin it is to think ourselves wise, to set ourselves upon the throne of self exaltation in a prideful stance. If we think ourselves so wise,  if we think that we are so understanding, why do we still find ourselves stumbling? Why do we still find ourselves falling short daily of the glory of God?

Continue reading “Righteous? Sinner? Who are you?”

Don’t Point

Today’s Manna – Our Daily Bread
http://bible.com/116/hos.4.4.nlt
Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! My complaint, you priests, is with you.

Observation
People are less likely to listen and learn when we point the finger at them in judgement, because when a sword is raised towards us,  we prepare to defend ourselves,  we put up walls and prepare for battle, we run away because we are afraid that we are about to be hurt and plundered.

Continue reading “Don’t Point”

Good is good, Bad is bad

Evil does not change based on public or personal opinion. Good is good, bad is bad. One may decide to apply “relative morality” to a circumstance to try to justify actions comparatively, but that doesn’t change evil into good – it simply makes an attempt to compare one set of evils to another.

But it does matter how we use this knowledge of good and evil. Because the law can be executed unwisely by men in judgement and accusation who are blind to love – which represents a situation where truth and justice are not served.

For example, if a sheep is lost – isn’t it clear that helping that sheep is more critical than the letter of the law? Isn’t it clear that mercy, forgiveness, and love are the more perfect demonstration of God’s grace and the nature of His Spirit towards His beloved children? Isn’t this the lesson that Christ taught us about understanding the spirit of the law instead of focusing on the letter of the law:

Matthew 12:1-14 NLT
At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.” Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.) And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one! Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.

Yes, He wants a relationship, He wants us to show mercy just like He shows mercy, not cold hearted practicers of religion:

Hosea 6:6 NLT
I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.

I can stand my ground on what is right and what is wrong – while offering mercy, and forgiveness, and love, and hope for the lost – and while sharing this Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because it isn’t my job to judge the lost, it is my job to offer them this same grace that I received.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 NLT
When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”

If we are to follow Christ’s example, are we going out and sitting down with those that need this message of grace – and not in judgement, but in love:

Luke 5:27-32 NLT
Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum? ” Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Are we going out? Or are we comfortable hanging in the pew with our friends?

Mark 16:15-20 NLT
And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.

Give me the courage and strength and faith and reliance on Christ in me to go out – in Love, and to share this good news, not in judgement to strike fear and win converts, but to let others know this wonderful grace that I have, this amazing friend that I know – so they might know Him as well.

And yeah – He told us to do it. That’s probably a really good reason to do it too.