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QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:

"…Like Jesus, will we talk and dine with "sinners" in our lives today? Or, do we consider ourselves somehow "above" talking and dining with sinners? …So, how are you doing with finding time to talk and dine with folks who perhaps do not yet know God or Jesus? Do you think this is something you should be doing? "

When I got saved not only did I become acutely aware of my own sins but also the sins of others too. So I have to admit that there have been times when I have had the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees. I often prefered to eat alone on my lunch break at work. It wasn’t that I looked down on my co-workers or thought that eating with them was beneath me, at least not consciously, but sometimes I just didn’t feel like being around anybody. Some probably thought I was unsociable because of it and maybe I was. If anything I need to break out of my tendency to be a loner when around unbelievers. It seems to bother some of them and perhaps isn't a good testimony before unbelievers.


GENESIS 26:17-27:46

In this passage of Scripture we see another thing Esau did which caused him to forfeit his birthright and his part in the Abrahamic covenant as far as God was concerned: Esau intermarried with two Canaanite women ( 26:34 ) which was contrary to the will of God ( 24:2-4 ) and also displeased his parents ( 26:35 ) who knew the will of God in this matter. After Isaac had blessed Jacob he charged his younger son to not commit the same error ( 28:1 ).


MATTHEW 9:1-17

Here we see an example of sickness being correalated with sin in a person’s life ( v.2 ). This is not always the reason why people get sick but sometimes it is. In this case apparently it was because Jesus said to the sick man, “…THY SINS be forgiven thee “ ( v.2 )

There are two things in this passage that point to the deity of Jesus Christ: 1) His omniscience ( v.4 ) and His authority to forgive sins ( v.6 ). Only God knows the thoughts of men and only God can forgive sins.


PSALM 10:16-18

Before I read my Bible in the morning I often ask the Lord to “prepare” my heart ( v.17 ), or to establish my thoughts. I must have learned to pray that way from reading this Scripture among others.


PROVERBS 3:9-10

Many Christians do not believe that tithing is for today but was something practiced by God’s people under the Law. However, we have already seen in this study that Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek ( Genesis 14:20 ) which was long before God gave the law to Moses. It is true that there is no command in the New Testament to tithe. Although Jesus, in rebuking the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy, mentioned their dilligence in tithing while neglecting the moral aspects of the Law. As he reminded them of the importance of observing the moral law he also nonetheless, in reference to tithing, said not to leave it undone ( Matthew 23:32 ). So it is my conviction that though tithing it is not commanded in the New Testament Scriptures it still remains a biblical principle for blessing by God and the standard for generous giving on the part of God's people. The reason that God did not make it a commandment is because He wanted it to be a voluntary act of worship in giving.

“ Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

- 2 Corinthians 9:7 (KJV)

Learned something new today-I never really thought about Isaac and Esau's complicity in overturning God's will before. Really appreciate the insight from bible.org-it certainly puts this story in a different light. I dont' think I will ever tire of reading the great literature of the Old Testament-how wonderful to know that God does not need a pious perfect person to futher His will!

As for the New Testament, today's reading covers something very close to my heart-the tendency of "religious" people only wanting to be surrounded by other "religious" people and the subsequent judgemental attitude that accompanies that tendency. I have been burdened alot lately by the loud, harsh, and even hateful rhetoric directed to people who don't believe quite like they do. I am appalled at how many Christians act like they hate the people of the world-the very ones Jesus told us to reach out to. Jesus did not ask God to take us out of the world, in fact "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." John 17:15 Jesus' strongest words for those teachers of religious law -the Pharisees. They were so busy trying to live the letter of the law and look good to themselves and their peers that they missed the whole point of God. Today's reading exemplified just that. Jesus had great compassion for sinners, and He was right there were they lived and I believe He calls us to do the same. How on earth are sinners supposed to come to know our Lord and Saviour if no one wants to even get close to them? My personal life style is to be "in the world, not of it". I pray each day for God to allow me to reflect His glory in my life-and if I do nothing else right, at least let me be a conduit for His love. I prefer my witness (by the way, that's a noun, not a verb) to be living for God's will instead of smiting people over the head with God. I want them to see what God has done in my life and how much love I have for them because of Jesus and the Holy Spirit that resides inside of me-a sinner- as opposed to showing them how perfect I am -mostly because I'm not very perfect and I don't want them to judge my Saviour because of me. There are a couple of very good books out there that address just this type of situation- John Fischer's "Fearless Faith" and "Finding God Where You Least Expect" as well as David Burchett's "When Bad Christians Happen to Good People" (He has a new one out-Bring 'Em Back Alive-but I haven't read it yet). Both of these books are very insightful for us in today's world-with very real ways to reverse this mindset. Wow, sorry about the rant, but how can we spread the gospel of Jesus Christ when so many of us act like we can't stand the people we need to reach? Especially now because I really believe time is short and God desires all to come to know Him. Will you do your part and love the sinners next to you-or will you pretend you are better than they are or that somehow their sin is worse than yours and so they don't belong with us at the feast? I pray not.

Love in Christ

As Sin crucified Christ thus accomplishing God's will to offer Him as a sacrifice there can be no doubt that the Sovereign God will acheive his object what men do. However we cannot know how he could have acheived that will had we (or other men in other times) been obedient.

I love Jesus' answer to the Pharisees in Matthew 9:12-13. He gives them an answer that subsides their anger while exposing their pride, because to themselves (and in their fear of others' views of them) the Pharisees could say "yeah, that's right we are not sick like they are" when in actual effect Jesus was talking about the Pharisees as much as the sinners and it is only each's own humility to recognize this or pride to reject this. Shouldn't the Pharisees too have realized that they were indeed sick themselves (sinners) and needed the doctor? It is akin to thinking they were "without sin".

As for Christians eating with non-Christians, as is being discussed, yes, we definitely should - though as Jesus did. It is important that we are not like the Pharisees who think they are better than the sinners. At the same time we must do so in the way that Jesus did, and this is crucial. I would leave it to each one to carefully and prayerfully consider how to do this in light of the example Jesus set (and those of the Apostle Paul). That is, obviously we must interact with non-believers if we ever hope to get them saved (and I believe the lack of this has resulted in fewer conversions), but in the right context, setting, spirit and purpose - and with Jesus clearly by our side (ideally with other Christians along as well) as to avoid any temptation yet alone, corruption where "hanging out" too much with sinners might slowly lead. Perhaps, and again, ideally, it is better to invite non-Christians to Christian events, meals, parties, etc then the other way around (I'm not saying turn non-Christian invites down, just pray about it). Each case is unique and I would trust God to show us what to do when we ask. In either case, what is vitally important is that we do not judge other sinners, or ever see them as unfit for God.

As for tithing (and giving in general), the best book I have read on this outside the Bible is 'The Blessed Life" by Robert Morris. I have heard that many well known, respected, Christian leaders (e.g. mega-pastors, authors, etc) are saying that his book has had tremendous impact on all their thoughts toward tithing and giving. I must say he does a fabulous job of explaining the principals, and why tithing is absolutely relevant to New Testament Christians. I read the book and actually got very excited as opposed to what feelings many might assume a book on such a subject would cause. I highly recommend it, your giving probably won't ever be the same!

Matthew 9

Paralytic

Jesus through His deity and powered by the Holy Spirit knew what the Pharisees were thinking. I believe he also knew the thoughts and heart of the paralytic.

He forgave his sins, because that is what the man (of faith) was most concerned with at the time.

When confronted with blasphemy charges Jesus asks which is easier to do? By physically healing the man (miracle), Jesus was giving a sign that he had the power to do the former (forgive sins). Only God could forgive sins - the Pharisees are in a quandry.

Note: Crowd still did not get it as they thought God had given this power unto men.
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Matthew - Tax Collector

I believe Matthew put himself in the gospel not out of pride, but to show Jesus came to save even the worst of sinners (a claim explicitly made also by Paul).

Matthew was the vilest man in the area. He was the worst type of tax collector. Matthew's authority allowed him not only to collect exorbitant taxes, but he could make up taxes on the spot. He also took bribes, etc.

Matthew did not have the problem of two guys in last chapter. When the Lord said "Follow me" - Matthew got up and walked away from his lucrative business. Matthew's heart and repentance was in the right place.

When confronted by Pharisees Jesus informs them that the sick need a doctor. Then Jesus uses a rabbinical saying "Go and learn". Rabbis used it as a rebuke to a person who didn't know what the should have known. In essence: Go back and study the books and then come back to me.

Using Hosea 6:6 God does not want sacrifices (rituals) done with the wrong heart. Where one just goes through the motions to be seen and does what they want right afterwards. God desires mercy. God is saying he wants your heart. (Mercy from beatitudes is a condition of someone who is righteous - who has been saved and has a regenerated heart). God prescribed the sacrifices, but they always were to be done with a heart for God. God wants the heart, then sacrifices can be done correctly.

In Luke 18:9 it says the Pharisees believed themselves righteous. Jesus is saying go and learn, but if you think you are righteous I am not here for you, but I AM here for sinners.
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Fasting

It must have been dismaying to Jesus that it was the disciples of John chastising Him about fasting.

Jesus tells them they of all people should get that He is from God. John the Baptist said so. Fasting was typically associated with mourning, and this was a time to celebrate. The Lamb of God is here. Don't you get it - no they don't and somewhere is a big disconnect. They want to crank out their rituals of fasting a couple of times of week, irrespective of what God is doing in their midst.

The robe and wineskins need to be considered together.

So how does the present religion relate to what Jesus is teaching. It doesn't. Not because the law is wrong, but because it has turned into ritualistic actions with no heart.

You can't put my teachings onto your system the way you are practicing it. Like a new patch on an old coat it will not work.

Neither can you put my teachings inside your system. Like new wine it will burst the old skin. You put new wine into new wineskin - AND BOTH are preserved.

Do you get that. Jesus is not discarding the Law. He says grace and law can exist together. How? When you are saved and have a regenerated heart you can then obey the law written in your hearts. God has your heart first, and then the law is dealt with over time. God's main concern and the way to Christ is by obtaining from God a new heart.

Gen 26

Left Isaac who got riches from Abimelech, and subsequently envy and strife (over wells) with Philistines. Isaac had sinned, he was an ordinary man, yet God blessed him while in sin - How come?

Read somewhere that God knows we will struggle after coming to faith. He is soverign, and blessings are His to give. The blessings do not depend on our obediance (earning them), but in His soverign grace and according to His plan.

Well after the blessings Isaac was hassled and envied. However, as a result of Isaac having to dig new wells - as he moved to dig he drew closer and closer back to the Promised Land. Finally he ended up back at Beersheba - back home again.

It is there that the Lord appeared to Isaac and told him not to fear. The Lord repeated the blessing given to Abraham. Isaac must have been weary and more than a little troubled by all the problems with the wells.

Here it is that Isaac for the first time since the famine started - built an altar and called on the name of the Lord. Isaac came to repentance.

Isaac was ordinary, but his wells symbolized blessings and those blessings went to another nation. Isaac humbled himself with Abimelech and made peace. God blessed Isaac with new water.

[Note: Chapter ends telling of Esaus marriage to tow Hittite women. This was a big no-no and was against what Abraham and Isaac had said. Esau did not care for he was godless (profane) Heb 12:6

Gen 27

Frank Sinatra had a song "I did it my way". Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau are all guilty of doing it their way and not depending on God. They all paid a huge price. God's plan went forward, but some or all of these characters should have known better.

1)Isaac - Knew better. He knew about God's Will concerning his sons. You can be sure Rebekah reminded him of God's Will. Isaac (on supposed deathbed;actually lived 43 more years) planned to get his desired venison and give blessing to Esau. Ceremony should have been done with entire family, but Rebekah and Jacob were left out. Isaac did not care that Esau was godless, had despised birthright, had married Hittite wives. Isaac was going to give blessing to Esau because he liked him and the heck with God's will.

The price: Isaac got spiced up goat rather than vension, Esau got cursed (Jacob was blessed and those that curse him are cursed - Esau planned to kill Jacob), rivalry,dissension, separation and mistrust rampant in the family.

2)Rebekah - She should have gone to Jacob after overhearing and reminded him of God's will, and left it for God to handle or overturn. Instead she connived and deceived Jacob's way into the blessing.

The price: Sons left for Haran and Edom. Jacob not a in charge but an indentured servant. Mistrust with husband. estranged from sons - Rebekah died and never saw her sons again.

3) Jacob - was 77 years old. He sould have stopped his mother. He was afraid of getting cursed and not the blessing - but went ahead because he wanted the blessing very much. Denigrated God, lied, etc

The price: OVer many years. Had to leave home, became indentured servant, before Esau bowed to him, he had to bow to Esau and call him Lord. His sons later decieved the deceiver about Joseph, and for twenty years he thought Joseph was dead.

4)Esau - Esau did not have birthright stolen, he gave it away for stew. Esau was godless, and was in cahoots with Isaac to get blessing. Esau wanted the physical blessings but not any interest in the spirtual blessings of God.

The price: forever estranged from God's promioses to Abraham and his descendants. Father of Edomites who were subjected by Israel. Later sided with Babylon in the overthrow of Israel. Edomites a cursed race by God.

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