Thank God we are not a heap of ashes! 1. Do you know people who believe the Old Testament God is exceedingly harsh and not the same New Testament God? 2. Have you ever done something so bad there was just no way you thought God would forgive you? 3. Do you know someone who has committed some disgusting sin and Christians will have nothing to do with that person despite his or her repentance?
Acts 2:12,13--They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, “What could this be?” But some sneered and said, “They’re full of new wine!”
One man was a Pharisee, a religious leader zealous to maintain a sinless posture. The other woman was in all likelihood a prostitute. The Pharisee invited Jesus into his home and whether by oversight or by intent failed to offer the common amenity of providing water for his guest to wash his feet. The woman, taking advantage of a custom that allowed the poor into a home for scraps, bathed Jesus’ feet with grief-stricken tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them in profound reverence and perfumed them—perhaps with the very oil she once used to lure men.
Sarah is preparing to go on a missions trip to Cameroon, Africa for two months. Through the generosity of a company that sells footwear, she was given a pair of Danner boots made of leather and Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex is a durable substance that allows the skin to breathe yet is waterproof. Unfortunately, the directions from the mission organization were explicit that only all-leather boots were acceptable.
I love to spend time with people who are searching for meaning in life. I find that often many of them grapple with tough questions. They sincerely yearn to know God. Repeatedly I find that most of these folks will not go to church. They’ve tried. They have attended different fellowships but left in frustration. Three themes regarding their disappointment emerge.
My brother, Nate, recently wrote while at the border of Hungary and Ukraine:
We are held up here at the border because they have to change all the wheels on the train. The Russian rails are built wider than European rails. Apparently the Russians after WWI decided that it would be in their interest to have a different rail system as it made an invasion more difficult. Paranoid? Maybe not. It was one of the reasons why Hitler had such a tough time advancing into Russia. Now, it is an economic headache that adds time and money to all imports and exports.
In 1903 the Russian czar noticed a sentry posted for no apparent reason on the Kremlin grounds. Upon inquiry, he discovered that in 1776 Catherine the Great found there the first flower of spring. “Post a sentry here,” she commanded, “so that no one tramples that flower under foot!”—William Poteet in The Pentecostal Minister
Orthodox Jews understand that 39 kinds of work are forbidden on the Sabbath under prevailing Halakah. The Pharisees were experts in the law. Today we would consider them legalists. We recognize them as the black and white thinkers among our friends, co-workers and relatives. In fact we ourselves may be wired as such. Every society needs law-proponents. But if taken to the extreme, legalism may spawn five serious problems.
Galatians 4:17, 5:6-- They are enthusiastic about you, but not for any good. Instead, they want to isolate you so you will be enthusiastic about them . . . For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love.
Romans 14:8-- If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
I know a man who sees everything black or white. Maybe you know him too. He is zealous for the truth. He is a defender of justice who confidently speaks for God. His critical eye is the first to spot error in others and in himself. He is meticulous in his theology, mastered in the school of answers, mindful of all the rules.
Matthew 23:23,24--Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet gulp down a camel!