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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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RED LETTER JOURNEY
CRITICAL CARE
PART 1: CRITICAL SPIRITS
Matthew 7

What other people think of me is becoming less and less important. What they think of Jesus because of me is CRITICAL. CLIFF RICHARDS (1940– )

In the weeks to come, my blog will deal with a series on Critical Care based on a portion of the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 7. This is the first installment.

Matthew 7:1-5“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

One definition of critical is to make severe or negative judgments.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote: The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known.

Do you believe that’s true? I don’t know about you, but I personally have known many judgmental Christians in my day. And, if I’m completely honest, I’ve been that Christian on more than one occasion. How about you?

Several years ago, I watched one of those movies that make you ask, “Why in the world did I waste two hours watching that?” It was about a group of adults who returned to their childhood camp for a weekend retreat. While this movie had no significant eternal value, there is one scene I’ve never forgotten. One of the women considered having an affair with a married man—her childhood sweetheart. She approached a mirror and paused to stare at her reflection. Words were painted on the glass: This Mirror Is Clean – Are You? The one redeeming quality of that flick was that at that moment, the woman decided against the affair.

I’ve printed those words on my makeup mirror as a daily reminder to examine my own life. If I spend enough time looking in the mirror at that massive 4×4 protruding out of my eye, I won’t be so quick to see the microscopic speck of dust in another’s eyes. And neither will you.

Paul wrote in Romans 2, verses 1-3: You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.

We may not be guilty of the same exact sin as someone else, but God doesn’t grade sin on a curve. To Him, sin is sin is sin. Any disobedience or transgression against God is sin.

Chambers continued: Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation. I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God. Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others.

Later Matthew 7 tells us to test the fruit of others to see if they are genuine. In 1 John 4, we are told to test the spirits. Both of these passages are instructions for us to discern if someone is a false prophet or teacher. I believe there is a difference between testing someone’s actions and judging the person.

The dictionary defines it this way:

Judge is to THINK or hold as an OPINION

Test is to EXAMINE carefully, to SCRUTINIZE to see whether a thing is genuine or not.

Our opinion affects how we view others, and it is often skewed by past experiences with a person. Left to our own devises, we make judgments based on human logic and emotions. That’s why it can be so dangerous. Testing their actions requires careful analysis and examination of what they do, not who they are.

Only God our Father knows every detail of a person’s life. Only God has all the facts. Only God can make a proper and righteous judgment on a person.

If we aren’t careful, we can become prideful and think we are somehow better than others. We can judge them falsely and thus elevate ourselves to a higher place.

Jesus tells us to take the plank out of our eye so we can see to HELP our fellowmen remove the dust from their eyes. Don’t forget, when God does call us to confront someone about their actions, we are always to approach them “in love” as Paul did in his letters to the churches.

So, today, I leave you with one question.

Have you looked in the mirror lately?

Peace. Be Still.

Peace. Be Still.


A Poem based on Matthew 8
By
Deb Shirley

Are You willing, Lord, to calm the raving sea?
If not, then will You anoint us with Your peace?
Lord, are You willing to still the mighty wind?
If the answer’s ‘no,’ then comfort will You send?

Are You willing, Lord, to shift the hurricane?
Or if it reaches land, will You our lives sustain?
Lord, are You willing to halt the raging floods?
If not, then will You prove that You’re still good?

Are you willing, Lord, to cease the forceful quake?
If not, then will You soothe our souls in its wake?
Lord, are you willing when fires blaze to send the rain?
If You choose to not, then our faith will You maintain?

In our weakness, Lord, You promise to be strong.
In our trials You’re the One for whom we long.
Teach us, Lord, that on You we can depend.
Hold us in Your arms, our hearts and souls defend.

You are the One who lights our darkest paths.
Who protects us in the storm and even when it’s passed.
You are the Way, You are the Truth, You are the Life.
No other can compare! No other has Your might!

You are our Refuge and the Rock on which we stand.
You are the Cornerstone, Strong Tower in this land.
You are our Strength, our Shepherd, and our Guide.
Our Ever-Present Help, on You we can rely.

So, we will trust You, Lord, whenever storms arise.
Under Your wings secure, safe there we will abide.
And then remain with You until our dying day.
In faith, until the end, forever there we’ll stay.

Fast Friday

Mark 2:20 – But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day we remember the death of JESUS, The One Sacrifice that set us free from sin and death! As you commemorate this day, consider a day of fasting and prayer.

The choice is entirely between you and God. Ask Him what you should do and obey.

It may not be 24-hours without nutrition. He may lead you to a fruit and juice fast or to fast from meat or sweets or something else. He may want you to fast from activities that draw you away from spending time with Him.

Whatever you decide to do, begin your fast by reading Isaiah 58.

If you need help knowing how to pray, two memorable “fast prayers” can be found in Daniel 9:1-19 and Nehemiah 1:4-11.

Just remember –
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:17-18)

Ephesians 4:14-16
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.


I watch the towering pines around my home sway with the wind. Yet, they are not moved. They are grounded to earth by a deep root system that fortifies them against the persistent breeze.

So it should be with a Christian. As the world is tossed to and fro by false teachers, we remain grounded in Christ Jesus our Lord who builds us up and strengthens us in the faith. We are not shifted here and there by teachings that do not align with scripture. We hold to the truth of His Word. We drink it in as nourishment to our souls. Rooted and established in love, we allow Christ to grow us into His image.

But is that enough? Should we be content with our own salvation and spiritual growth while others around us are led into the darkness by the enemy’s lies and deceit? No! The Bible tells us clearly that we are to “speak the truth in love” and do the work that Christ has given us to do.

For me, that work is writing, and I’m ashamed to admit that in this area of service I’m not doing my part. I’ve allowed the winds of change to shift my priorities, and instead of being grounded to Him, I’m like Solomon chasing after the wind—spending my energy and time on things that do not make a difference for the Kingdom.

God has given me a gift. I am a teacher of truth through the ministry of my pen. If I neglect that gift, it will be like a diseased pine slowly rotting away, and one day it will cease to exist. When I’m gone from this world, will I leave a legacy of truth for others to follow? Or will I leave behind empty pages, pits of darkness that allow them to be led astray by false teachers?

Today, I recommit to do my part in spreading His Word through the winds of Truth.

How about you?
What gift has God imparted to you?
Are you using it for His glory and to grow His Kingdom?

Let’s all do our part to spread His Word by whatever means and gift possible!

Other Scriptures:
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21

RED LETTER JOURNEY – THE LORD’S MODEL PRAYER
Matthew 6:9-13

Our Father which art in heaven
God is not only majestic and holy, but He is also PERSONAL and loving like a Father.
Romans 8:15-“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Hallowed be thy name
This is to recognize God and His Name as holy and sacred.
To withdraw from fellowship with the WORLD by first gaining fellowship with GOD.

Thy Kingdom come
Jesus is talking about not only the future, put the present as well. He’s talking about total surrender!
Picture yourself as a castle and God as your KING of Kings who rules over you. He is God! He has the right to rule our lives. Is He ruling yours?
Prayer Challenge: Lord, here I am. A castle (temple) awaiting your rule. Come, Father, and control the realm of my life. Be King over me!

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Do you pray for God to have His way, His will, in your life? If not, I challenge you to start today. There is nothing to fear in this prayer. God wants only the very best for you. Allowing Him to rule over you and do His will through you should bring you assurance and comfort that you are safely in His care.

How can God’s will be accomplished on earth? He can accomplish his will any way He wants to do it, but most often chooses Christians to fulfill His work.

Give Us this Day our Daily Bread
Daily means daily. Every day of our life we need sustenance. As our body needs bread (food) for its survival, so our spiritual body requires a feeding of His Word every day to sustain us and help us grow.

What does bread symbolize?
In the temple, the PRESENCE of God. (Exodus 25:30)
“Man does not live on bread alone but on every WORD that comes from the mouth of
God.” (Matthew 4:4)
The Bread of Life is JESUS! (John 6:30-35 and 48-51; 1 Corinthians 11:23-24)

And forgive us our debts AS we forgive our debtors
AS—a little word with a powerful punch. It means: to the same degree, equally, in the manner, similarly, something like.

You might as well say that you are praying …
Okay, God, forgive me something like I forgave her.
Lord, forgive me to the same degree that I forgave him.
Forgive me equally as much as I forgave them.

Why is it so important to God that we forgive others?
Because enmity in our heart SEPARATES us from God.
To keep a person from being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

2 Corinthians 2:5-8, “If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.”

Lead us not into temptation
Does God ever tempt man to sin? ABSOLUTELY NOT! (James 1:13-15; Matthew 26:41)
However, He does allow trials into our lives to grow us spiritually.

I like this commentator’s take on this verse …
John Gill . . .
Such a petition as this is often to be observed in the prayers of the Jews, “do not lead me” neither into sin, nor into transgression and iniquity, “nor into temptation”, or “into the hands of temptation”;”
that is, into the power of it, so as to be overcome by it, and sink under it; in which sense the phrase is to be understood here. We are not here taught to pray against temptations at all, or in any sense, for they are sometimes needful and useful; but that they may not have the power over us, and destroy us.

Deliver us from evil
Hebrews 2:18 – Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

This verse is often misquoted and misinterpreted. Many people think the Bible says God will not give us more than we can bear. But in reality, this verse is talking about temptation, not circumstances in our lives. Sometimes God gives us things we can’t bear so that we will depend on Him.

God will not give us more than HE can bear!

To deliver means to RUSH or DRAW to one’s self, to rescue, to deliver.
Picture Jesus rushing to our aid when we find temptation before us. He longs to deliver us if we will just allow Him to.
What better deliverance can we hope for than to be delivered from the anguish and pain of our SIN!

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever!
Is He ruler of your life today?
Are you living as if He truly has immeasurable (dynamite) power? (Ephesians 3:20)
Is everything you say and do to bring glory to God or to you?

The importance of prayer lies not in HOW we pray, but THAT we pray!

    I challenge you to pray The Lord’s Model Prayer and mean it!

I cannot say our if religion has no room for others and their needs.
I cannot say Father if I do not demonstrate this relationship in my daily living.
I cannot say who art in heaven if all my interests and pursuits are on earthly things.
I cannot say hallowed be thy name if I, who am called by his name, am not holy.
I cannot say thy kingdom come if I am unwilling to give up my own sovereignty and accept the righteous reign of God.
I cannot say thy will be done if I am unwilling or resentful of having it in my life.
I cannot say in earth as it is in heaven unless I am truly ready to give myself to his service here and now.
I cannot say give us this day our daily bread without expending honest effort for it or by ignoring the genuine
needs of my fellowmen.
I cannot say forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us if I continue to harbor a
grudge against anyone.
I cannot say lead us not into temptation if I deliberately choose to remain in a situation where I am likely to be tempted.
I cannot say deliver us from evil if I am not prepared to fight in the spiritual realm with the weapon of prayer.
I cannot say Thine is the kingdom if I do not give the King the disciplined obedience of a loyal subject.
I cannot say Thine is the power if I fear what my neighbors may say or do.
I cannot say Thine is the glory if I am seeking my own glory first.
I cannot say forever if I am too anxious about each day’s affairs.
I cannot say amen unless I honestly say, “Cost what it may, this is my prayer.”
(Anonymous)

If there is one thing I’ve discovered in this journey called life, it is that God and His Word meet every need I’ve ever had or will have.

Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

HIS WORD is ALIVE! It is ACTIVE. And NOTHING is hidden from MY GOD!

He has walked with me through every trial in my life and ministered healing through His Word. At my weakest, the following scriptures gave me strength. They breathed life into me on my journey. Maybe they will speak to you as well.

My Plans vs. God’s Plans
Jeremiah 29:11
Proverbs 16:9
Proverbs 16:1
Proverbs 16:3
Proverbs 19:21

Salvation
John 6:44

Unequally Yoked
2 Corinthians 6:14

In the Mirror
James 1:23-25

A Child of God
John 1:12

Forgiven
1 John 1:9
Psalm 103:11-12
Micah 7:19
Psalm 25:7

Being Single
Isaiah 54:5-8

Rejection
1 Samuel 12:22
Psalm 94:14

Unanswered Prayer
Mark 11:23-24
John 15:7
John 14:13-14
James 4:3

Comfort
2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Husbands
1 Peter 3:-6

Infertility
Isaiah 54:1

The Wayward
2 Samuel 14:14

Unforgiveness
Matthew 6:12
Matthew 6:14-15

When you can’t pray
Romans 8:34
Romans 8:26-27
Hebrews 7:25
Ezekiel 18:32

Renewing Faith
Psalm 77

“Lord, I pray for my fellow journeymen that You will sing over them today songs that will reach to their deepest need. Minister to their souls through Your Word. When we are weak, You are strong. Be strong in us today. Oh, Abba, thank You for Your love, Your mercy, Your grace! Amen and Amen!”

Zephaniah 3:17
“The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”