Sinful Generation

We began this week discussing how our accountability increases as our knowledge fo God and His ways grow in our lives. Sticking with that thought, we witness the Pharisees ask again for a sign. Mark 8:11~The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. (ESV) I know in my life I have come and argued with God for a sign. I was hoping to use my best esquire skills and lawyer my way into existence. But each time I was soundly defeated. James reminds us in James 4:2-3~You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (NIV) 

The scribes and Pharisees are asking for grandeur and not accepting the spectacular works of wonder wrought in their midst. Luke says in Luke 11:16~Others, trying to test Jesus, demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority. (NIV) Perhaps you have wanted a sign. However, we don’t go to the side of a loved one’s bed and say, if you are really God, you will heal them, or if you do not heal them, you are no God at all. That is to tempt the Lord. 

Remember in Luke 4, after Jesus has fasted 40 days the Devil tempts Him. To which Jesus quotes from the Old Testament and says in Luke 4:12~Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (NIV) The scribes want Jesus to cut the sun off in the afternoon. Or, use your finger and write across the sky Jesus is Lord. You could even make something out of nothing. How about a talking donkey like Baalam? To which Christ Jesus might say, but I already have a whole herd of well you know what you are in this type of situation.

No, Jesus answers them like this in Matthew 12:39~…A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. (ESV) This foreshadows Jesus’ death where His body will lay in the tomb for three days just as Jonah rode the belly of the whale. Only to come out an again proclaim God. Jesus will spend about six weeks after the resurrection revealing Himself to many. So when He calls this generation an adulterous one, He links them with a common Old Testament metaphor for spiritual apostasy. 

Isaiah 50:1~Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins, you were sold; because of your transgressions, your mother was sent away. (NIV) (See also in Jeremiah 3:8) Jesus is not accusing them of sexual adultery, but of spiritual adultery because of their unbiblical laws and regulations. Also, they loved their religious positions and manmade traditions more than they loved God, which is spiritual adultery. 

Is there a place in your life that you are holding on to. A place where you feel the warmth and comfort of tradition, rather than the real love of a relationship with the God who created you. Your life is more than just traditions, it is to be an intimate journey with the former, fashioner and finisher or all things, Jesus Christ. Why not take time to just get alone, away from everyone and everything and give yourself wholly and totally to God in a time of worship. You won’t have to worry about who is around or watching because it will just be you and the Lord. Worship Him in the beauty of holiness.



Veiled Deception

Many very religious people don’t have a clue about how to get to heaven. They deceive themselves into thinking they are good enough or religious enough to earn a home in heaven. In our passage Matthew 12:38-50, Jesus defeats that way of thinking in a battleship exercise. Where out of the water, behind the helm our unrivaled Admiral teaches that three things are required if we want to avoid living in Veiled Deception: Increases, Alone, and The Price.

Jesus begins by sharing that our accountability increases with our knowledge (Matthew 12:38-42). Here in Matthew 12, some scribes now join the Pharisees in asking Jesus for a sign Matthew 12:38~Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” (ESV) Now scribes were considered to be experts at interpreting the Law, aka the books of Moses. Ezra 7:6~this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him. (ESV) 

In the New Testament, most scribes were Pharisees. Mark 2:16~When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (NIV) They were experts in cases in which people were accused of breaking the Law of Ole Mo. Moreover, wanting to see a sign is not a sincere request because Jesus has already provided many signs to prove He is the Messiah. Remember we are here in His home base of operation, Capernaum. The scribes and Pharisees apparently are not asking for the blind to see, the mute to speak, the withered made whole or even the sick healed; these they have seen these many times.

What the scribes are desiring is want a sign that affects the world. In other passages, we find them asking for a sign from heaven. Matthew 16:1~How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (NIV) Yeast is life-altering to flour. It is both powerful and infectious. When making bread it allows it to rise and be soft. Yet in other ways, it can damage all of the flour by infecting it with this quality, and it only takes a little. 

Today, where are you keeping the yeast in your life? Have you separated it out from all the different flours you have? Perhaps you are at a moment of inspection, where you need to set everything aside and just take time to confess your life again to Christ. To allow the Lord to reorganize your priorities and desires so that they are fully and completely aligned with Him and His plan for you. I want to encourage you that each of us must do this in our lives from time to time, and probably more often than we want to admit. Take the time and let God make all things new, again.



Poisoned

When is the last time you scrutinized your Heart? (Matthew 12:33-37) Our Lord now gives some sobering warnings in Matthew 12:33~Make a tree good and its fruit will be good or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. (ESV) In other words, the character of a person will show up in his or her fruit, and the fruit stand, which is our subsequent lifestyle. Since Jesus’ works are good, He has to be good, because fruit is like its tree. Turning to look at the Pharisees to inspect their fruit He says, Matthew 12:34~You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (ESV)

Ever opened your mouth in a moment and heard what came out of it? Then thought where’d that come from? Wow, what in the world? Jesus looks at them and says, it’s not just one or two of you spoiling the whole bunch, really it’s all of you. This means that they are a den of poisonous snakes. So, Jesus calls what He sees in them as evil because of what they have just said about Him. Out of the abundance of our hearts, the mouth speaks.

Jesus explains a good person produces good things from the treasure of a good heart. Is your heart a treasure? Have you been storing good in it? How do we do that? We begin by praying, emptying ourselves of everything, and then we turn to the word as we fill up our hearts. Layer on some good worship to fill in between the spaces, as we take time to reflect and let God’s goodness settle in us, before we stir it all up like a pot of gumbo, taking what has been simmering out to serve a world in need. 

Our hearts are where the treasures of our thoughts, ambitions, desires, emotions, and loyalties are stored. A good heart cannot produce evil, which is first revealed by our words. Matthew 12:36~I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, (ESV) These are sobering words. Good people don’t gossip, cuss, tell dirty jokes, or use the Lord’s name in vain. Jesus adds we will be justified by our words and we will be condemned by our words. 

(Matthew 12:37) This doesn’t mean our words save us. It means they are evidence of whether or not we have truly been saved by God. 

So I ask you today, what flows out of your mouth? If our heart’s desire is to draw Closer, then we are going to have to learn how to lose the French, and treasure the Good of God. Paul writes in Colossians 3:8~But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (NIV) Today be an uplifting person, who walks in the beauty of holiness, who is gracious and full of praise. Be blessed by God.