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Archive for June, 2011

RED LETTER JOURNEY
CRITICAL CARE
PART 3: CRITICAL SIGNIFICANCE


“What other people think of me is becoming less and less important. What they think of Jesus because of me is CRITICAL.”
Cliff Richards


“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:7-12

The definition of CRITICAL that we will look at today is “a crucial, decisive, or critical operation.”

Do you always give a child what they ask for?

Many of you may remember the 50’s TV show Father Knows Best. Those boys trusted their father and sought his wise counsel. They didn’t always listen and paid the price for their disobedience, but they knew where to go for guidance.

Our Heavenly Father always knows what is best for us.

I’m reminded of the Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” As God’s children, we may not always get what we WANT, but He will always give us what we NEED.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “It would be a terrible thing if God always gave us all we asked for. Our heavenly Father himself knows how to give far better than we know how to ask.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad my Heavenly Father has not given me everything I’ve asked Him for and I wish I’d been more obedient when He said, “No.” The worst mistakes of my life were due to rebellion against His will and His wishes for me.

In this passage we have three instructions: ASK . . . SEEK . . . KNOCK.

As a child, did you ever ask your parents for anything? If they said ‘no’ or ‘later’ did you give up immediately? Unlike me, you may have been a better child. I rarely gave up. I’d go back and back and back again until I either got a ‘Yes’ or I was told, “If you ask one more time I’m going to spank you.” (Actually, my mom said ‘whip’ but she’d be locked up in today’s society for that.)

First, Jesus tells us to ASK. God doesn’t grow weary of us asking for the desires of our hearts. The Greek word here actually means to beg or crave something. He says if we ask, we will receive. We will always receive an answer to our prayers, but sometimes that answer is NO.

Secondly, Jesus tells us to SEEK. Go for it. Pursue it. We can’t sit in our rocking chairs and expect God to give us everything without any effort on our part. We must endeavor to go after those things we desire, in accordance with God’s will that is.

Lastly, He tells us to KNOCK.

Have you ever gone to a friend’s house and stood outside their door hoping they’d open it? You don’t knock. You don’t ring the bell. You just stand there. What happens? Nothing.

Christ says, “If you knock.” We need to knock. Our Lord gave us free will and will not force His presence on us. We need to knock on heaven’s door via prayer, and He promises to always open up and invite us to come in.

Have you ever gone to someone’s house and knocked on the door, but they didn’t answer immediately? You know they’re inside. What do you do? Do you turn around and go home or knock again? You knock again – and again and again. If you’ve knocked for ten minutes and they still haven’t answered, there is a good chance they are either not at home or they don’t really want to see you.

Jesus promises us if we knock, the door WILL BE opened. He does not say, “I may decide to open the door for you or I may not.” He will not leave us standing outside. He will open it.

I leave you with a few questions?

Have you knocked today? If not, what are you waiting for?

Have you ASKED for HIS FORGIVENESS . . . SOUGHT HIS SALVATION . . . AND RECEIVED HIS REDEMPTION?

If not, what are you waiting for?

If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, He is knocking on your heart’s door. Please don’t wait another day. Click on the following link to learn how to find peace in your life.

Knock Today

And if you find it, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

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RED LETTER JOURNEY
CRITICAL CARE
PART 2: CRITICAL CRITICS

What other people think of me is becoming less and less important. What they think of Jesus because of me is CRITICAL. CLIFF RICHARDS

Following is the second installment of Critical Care based on the portion of the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 7. Today we will look at verse 6.


Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

The definition of CRITICAL that we will look at today is “of or involving a critic or criticism.”

I’ve heard the saying “Don’t toss your pearls to the pigs” most of my life. These words have always confused me. In preparing to teach this lesson to my Sunday School class, I studied several different commentaries and most agree that Jesus is basically saying, “Don’t waste the precious Word of God on those people who are intent on not only rejecting Him, but blaspheming Him when given the opportunity.”

That which is sacred or holy, the pearls in this passage is the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ.

Do not give what is holy to the dogs

The dogs of Jesus day were not pets like the ones we have in our homes, but they were wandering scavengers. Scripture tells us these dogs ate the dead and licked up blood in the streets. (1 Kings 14:11 and 21:19-24) David equated evil men or evildoers to dogs in Psalm 22 and 59. Isaiah applies the term to the Jewish teachers of his day who were careless shepherds of their flock and did not warn the people of the dangers surrounding them in Isaiah 56.

Generally, in the Scriptures, the dog is a symbol of uncleanness, vileness, apostasy, and deserving of the utmost contempt. Jews used the term “dogs” often in reference to the Gentiles, showing their contempt for the non-Jew.

. . . nor cast your pearls before swine

Swine were wild, vicious, and unclean. Practicing Jews still do not eat pork because it is unclean and not intended for food. I’ve seen many pigsties in my life, and I can tell you they are filthy creatures. Would you take your best pearls and throw them into the mud and muck of a pigsty to be trampled under their feet? Of course not.

So, what exactly is Jesus telling us in this verse?

The picture here is of wild dogs and boars tearing their prey into pieces. It is symbolic of those who have a very negative view of the Gospel, to the extent that given the opportunity they will blaspheme the very name of God.

Dr. Grant Richison in www.versebyversecommentary.com writes, “These people mock the gospel as indicated by trampling it under foot and even going further in tearing apart the gospel message itself.” He continues, “We have responsibility to carry the gospel to everyone, but once we make the presentation, the responsibility lies on the individual to choose negative or positive volition. If a person chooses negative volition, then there is no necessity for any further presentation of the gospel. Once a person clearly rejects the gospel, there is no further reason to present the gospel to them.”

We find in Luke 23:8-11 that Jesus did not talk to Herod.

When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate.

Why do you think Jesus refused to answer Herod? I believe it is because Jesus knew the man’s heart. Herod wasn’t looking for a Savior, he was looking for a magician, a performer, someone to do his bidding. When Jesus didn’t perform, he joined the others in mocking and ridiculing Jesus.

In Acts 13:46, Paul drew limits when speaking to people who rejected the Word.

On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.

Did you notice what they talked abusively against? Not Paul. Not Barnabas. They talked against what Paul was saying—against the very Gospel of Christ. Don’t you love Paul’s response? “You don’t consider yourselves worthy of eternal life.” They didn’t accept the Gospel message, so Paul went to someone who would. He went to the Gentiles, and I’m so glad He did.

In reference to Matthew 7:6, C. H. Spurgeon wrote, “You are not needlessly to provoke attack upon yourself, or upon the higher truths of the gospel. You are not to judge, but you are not to act without judgment. Count not men to be dogs or swine; but when they avow themselves to be such, or by their conduct act as if they were such, do not put occasions in their way for displaying their evil character. Saints are not to be simpletons; they are not to be judges, but, also, they are not to be fools.”

As Christians, we’ve all met those who refuse to accept Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We can argue with them until we are blue in the face, wasted all our breath, and still never convince them that Jesus is the Only way to God, the Only path available for mankind.

The question is, “What do we do about people like this?” Do we just give up on them? Do we walk away and never think of them again?

I don’t think so. We can still pray for them. We can still love them. We can still cling to hope that one day the eyes of their heart will be enlightened and they will know the hope that only the Gospel gives. But once we have presented the Gospel message to them, anything more is a waste of our breath. We should not continue to give them opportunities to blaspheme Our God.

In John 6:44, Jesus tells us, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. I can’t force someone to accept the message of the cross. Only God the Father can do that. So my best course, my best efforts should be spent in praying that God will draw that person to Him. When God works on the heart, He will open it for the message to be received.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.

Instead, spend your time and your efforts on your knees in prayer. Hopefully, one day, that person will come to you with an open heart and arms ready to receive the wonderful gift of salvation God offers.

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