In the Midst of Anger, Conflict, and Unrighteous Leaders

Vol. 2 No. 53 – 12-31-2017
And behold, there was a man with a withered hand. And they questions Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” –in order that they might accuse Him. Matthew 12:10

The miracle of Jesus healing a man with a deformed hand is better understood when we consider the background (the context).

There is an atmosphere full of anger, vindictiveness, and treachery. The religious left-wing Pharisees stood in the way of this man being healed. Rather than to witness God’s blessing, these leaders formed a barricade! Not unlike political leaders that think anyone’s opinion other than their pharisaical opinion is incorrect and therefore one must do all that can be done to snuff out another’s authority (even though in truth this is God’s Son). No respect, no acknowledgement of the identity of the leader performing the miracle, just anger, conflict, and unrighteousness prevailing.

The friction started over what a person could or could not do on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were irate because Jesus did not conform to their carefully crafted set of rules (something like the elites of our Washington Congress that think unless it comes from them it is not valid; just review this past year’s activity by the entrenched congress supported by the media!).

Some scholars believe the Pharisees deliberately “planted” the afflicted man in the synagogue crowd to effect a charge against Jesus. Jesus did not conform to their expectations and certainly did not conform to their scheme of how to run the society. How would anyone dare come against their agenda? They sought to embarrass Jesus, or at least discredit Him with the people. It was a 2017 strong-arm tactic in a First Century style.

The Pharisees would do anything to “win” the theological debate; however, in the process they had no compassion for the man’s physical problem! In addition, the man was expendable in their eyes; just a tool to be used toward their ends.

Notice the Lord’s concise and simple logic of verse 11:

And He said to them, “What man shall there be among you, who shall have one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it, and lift it out?

  • Did you catch the heart of God?
  • Grace is more important than any ceremony
  • Mercy is of higher priority than ritual
  • Compassion is valued over rules
  • Right is more important than what a powerful leader might say

You and I do not have a normal command over miracles by our word; however, it is no less of a miracle when we fight off protocol, peer pressure, and politically correct expectations to reach out to lead and help people – especially when they are hurting.

We may not be able to do the impossible, but we can be enabled to do what God wants. So, we may ask of ourselves, what are we willing to risk to do the important? Under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, are we willing to change our schedules, rework our giving to accommodate a need, or even challenge what others do in the name of the status quo?

We live in an image conscious society. How important is it to remember that God does not care if we look a god, but that we do His good. It is, after all, His miracle to perform.

Christmas attracted us to gatherings with many others. Thinking this time of year, for the Christian and Christian leader takes us to contemplation regarding how we might be a servant for Christ in situations we find ourselves being positioned to act. Our positioning is through God’s eyes, His hand, and His heart.

The objects on which a man allows his mind habitually to dwell determines his acts, his career, and his destiny. –C.R. Erdman

How we think, speak, and do comes from the heart. Where are our hearts today?

Wonder what it would have been like . . .

Vol.2 No. 52a 12-25-2017

  • Wonder what it would have been like to be present at the
    birth of Christ in Bethlehem?
  • To see Him in a lowly manger
  • To find the conditions that prevailed
  • To see if it looked like the Christmas cards we receive
    or, if the pictures in our story books have validity
  • To see the expressions on the faces of Mary and Joseph
  • To hear the first words of how this birth would change
    the history of the world
  • To hear about the gift of God for all humankind
  • To hear what people understood about the birth of Jesus
  • To observe the normal people surrounding the birth
  • To see Mary’s confidence of what God was providing through the birth of His Son
  • To grasp the wickedness of Herod as the child grew
  • To observe the Magi who later came to worship the newborn King
  • To have seen the tail end of the awesome guiding star
  • To hear the distant angels sing
  • To hear the excitement of the shepherds
  • What were the thoughts of these people really like?

When the Magi finally arrived, they brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They bowed in worship. Their gifts were fitting for the events to come. Gold for the family needs as they were to go into Egypt. Frankincense and myrrh for the burial spices needed following Christ’s crucifixion—Jesus was born to die for the salvation of those who would come to Him.

The Magi, following their visit, had been instructed to return to Herod. Herod wanted to kill the Christ child. That is the way of political elites who are distrustful of people taking their positions. However, the Magi, perhaps arriving from the school of Daniel in Babylon (not exactly the orient), knew to avoid returning to Herod. They were instructed through a dream/vision to return on another path.

But then, it is the expectation of God that one who comes to Him changes direction; changes their path of life.

We live in a time when people attend church for the cultural norm, not to really worship. It is about them, not Christ. It is about the holiday (Happy Holidays! — not Merry Christmas!). Worship is only considered if it does not disrupt the holiday plans of families. Wow! Political correctness has led people down the wrong path, to stay on the same road. Not be a part of a forever change.

Believers have to be intentional about their worship—plan the important times for their families. What do we teach our families when we cannot take time for worship due to Christmas eve or Christmas falling on the weekend, or on the Monday following Sunday, Christmas eve? Some churches rearrange their schedules to accommodate “family time.” But they open their doors a week later to make sure the church is open for the many who have spent their New Year’s Eve drinking and making merry. What a contrast we witness in today’s church!

• Churches send notices to their members to “catch up on their giving” – wonder how the early believers got their notices
• Churches redecorate their churches to “catch” the younger crowd or the unchurched. They put bright flashing lights up and paint the “stage” dark, even black. Strange churches would do this if their goal was to draw unbelievers to the light; that is what the Scriptures intend – to draw people to the light
• Churches replace worship to the glorious God with theatre to make unbelievers comfortable, to have a venue like the concerts the young people attend, cranking up the sound/volume so it will be just like the places the millennials and unchurched attend, and then to provide musicians and vocalists that call attention to themselves
• Wonder what rock group played at the birth of Jesus
• Strange what we call worship today, we have made worship about ourselves instead of toward Almighty God

The baby in the manger came as a conquering King to dethrone us and then to enthrone Himself in our hearts and lives forever and ever.

You Need To Think – Philippians 4:8

Vol. 2 No. 52 – 12-24-2017

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

It is Christmas, what are you thinking about? Believer. Preacher. Leader. Executive. Worker. Mentor. Father. Mother.

The psychologists indicate that we are not what we think we are; we are what we think. The Bible indicates this statement has a great deal of truth. It is true that if a person thinks something often enough, they will come to the stage that they cannot stop thinking about it. This is true of the distractions of life—alcohol and other drugs, pornography, crime, illicit relationships, and on and on. People caught up in wrong thinking need a renewed mind, only available in Christ.

The battle for the mind is heavy in our culture. Advertising, print, music, education, social media, TV, radio, and even cell phones occupy the minds of people. Each day we are bombarded with approximately 2000 impressions to our mind. Solomon, who did not have all our electronics said, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 7:23).

Paul writes of our safety net for believers and servant-leaders.

  • Whatever things are true; not the deceptive and illusory that let a person down; reality and absolute truth is the important thing. Does that ring true for you?
  • Whatever things are honest; not that which is flippant and cheap. Focus on that which is valuable and esteemed. Does it have honest value?
  • Whatever things are just; not setting our minds on pleasures, comforts, and the easy self-advancement. Focus on things that are right and just; pay your dues to others and God fully. Ask yourself if what you are about to enter is tainted or shady.
  • Whatever things are pure; not soiled, smutty, or shabby. Look for the stainless and chaste. What is the contamination offered in the choices you make or wear?
  • Whatever things are lovely; not bitter, critical, nor full of vengeance. Focus on the gracious and winsome. Do your thoughts produce kindness, forbearance, and right relationships? Or, do they bring strife and division?
  • Whatever things are of good repute (report); things that are fit before God and others to hear. Think twice and say nothing is a Chinese proverb.
  • The Bible says to think right and then say something that reflects the above qualities. Did you notice that each quality reflects one of the characters of Christ?.

Christmas attracts us to gatherings with many others. Thinking always ensues.

What are things that people count as excellent? What are things that people feel are praise worthy? Think on these things.

The objects on which a man allows his mind habitually to dwell upon determines his acts, his career, and his destiny. –C.R. Erdman

From the heart comes everything you think, say, and do (and it is you that will place the “stuff” in your heart that resides there). The only hope we have for a renewed mind is to come to Christ and let His truth richly dwell in the heart, the place that controls our thinking, speaking, and our doing.

Finally: The things you think toward others says more about your character than theirs. Think about that.

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