Archive for August, 2021

Jesus Wants to Cleanse Your Temple

The Temple in Jerusalem was a special sacred place. The temple courtyard encompassed fourteen acres with a column-lined portico all around. It could accommodate over 200,000 persons at one time.

Religious reform was needed. Religion had become ritual; worship had degenerated into works grievous to the core; spiritual truth had become hidden, hand washing had become more important than cleansing of the heart; repeating the Law was more important than keeping it. Conscience had become crushed by ceremony and the joy of worship extinguished.

How could anyone worship in this carnival-like atmosphere? The place was considered sacred, the house of God. Here the Ark of the Covenant containing the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, abided. Little wonder Jesus’ wrath was kindled.

Jesus said they made “My Father’s house a house of merchandising.” The disciples remembered the Scripture:  Psalms 69:9.

Malachi 3:1 prophesied that immediately after the forerunner, Messiah would cleanse the temple.

Christ ran out the cattle, turned over money tables and gave them dove cages to take out (Vss. 15 & 16).  Isa. 52:13 notes He would deal prudently. His reaction was controlled indignation.

Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days.”  (John 2:19) They as well as many current readers missed the point. There are two words for temple. The Greek word for temple is “hieron,” (Vs. 14) means “the sacred enclosure of buildings used for worship.”

Jesus used the Greek word “naos,” meaning “dwelling place of deity.” They thought He was speaking of the physical material building, but His reference was to His physical body being resurrected.

In disbelief His critics listened to His response and mentally recorded it to later use against Him. As they walked away they murmured about 46 years being required to build the temple. Herod the Great built the “hieron,” temple, starting in 20 BC. They missed the point. 

After His resurrection His disciples remembered this statement and then understood what He meant (Vs. 22).

Some “believed” (Vs. 23)  This term simply means they accepted facts as true.  This expression does not relate to commitment. Jesus made a clear distinction between those who were merely intrigued by signs and those who looked at the signs and saw the true significance in them.

These believed in what He did. What He desires is persons who believe who He is and commit to Him as Savior. Make sure your belief is the latter.

If you have committed to Him, does your temple (your life) need cleansing? If so, make this the moment of cleansing by employing the principles in I John 1: 9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Having our sins forgiven is a reference to our initial salvation.

Cleansing us is a reference to sins committed thereafter, our unrighteousness, being forgiven. Do you need to practice either?

Your Own Oath

An oath is a solemn pledge to speak the truth, or to keep a promise.

Part of the Olympic Oath includes, “The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle…Not to have conquered but to have fought well.” In the summary statement regarding his life Paul indicated he had a living oath. He wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (II Timothy 4:7)

The terms do not speak of winning, but that he fought and finished. He struggled. All of us have struggles. Jesus warned “in this world you will have tribulation.” Like Paul we should struggle for a worthy cause. He said, “I have fought the good fight.” The statement stresses having fought a fight worth fighting, the good fight, and fought it well. He chose his cause.

Bumper stickers reveal the causes people consider worthy of their life.

Marathon runners know not all can win, but there is honor and valor in running the race. You may not get accolades for “winning” life’s race for Jesus, but be sure you are faithful and complete what you have begun.

When you accepted Jesus as Savior, He made a commitment to you. He committed Himself to forgiving your sins, to be your constant companion through life, and to receive you unto Himself in your heavenly home.

In coming to Jesus you, too, made a commitment to Him. In summary it was to give yourself to Him, to trust Him and serve Him. That means you are to keep your focus on Him and strive to please Him. Renew your faith contract today.

John Stephen Akawari represented his home country of Tanzania as a marathon runner in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. It was late at night and most spectators had left the stadium. Over an hour after Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia won the race, Akawari entered the stadium as an exhausted, bloody, limping competitor. There had been jockeying for position between some runners and he was hit. He fell badly wounding his knee and dislocating that joint plus his shoulder hit hard against the pavement causing great pain. 

As he finally crossed the finish line a cheer came from the small crowd. When interviewed later and asked why he continued running, he said, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.” He did not triumph, but he did struggle with honor and finish the race in keeping with the Olympic Oath.

Jesus saved you expecting you in response to finish life’s race. Athletes often experience what is called getting a second wind. It is a time of renewed commitment and energy for the race. May today be a second wind day in your life’s struggle.

Ways We Learn

We learn in three ways: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

Visually we learn by what we see. These persons are known as visual learners.

Auditorily, we learn by what we hear. These persons readily learn from being told information and insight.

Kinesthetically, we learn when we process information while being physically active or engaged, that is, we learn by what happens to us. Example, if in youth we put our hand on a hot object we learn not to touch hot objects. Another example of a kinesthetic learning experience is when a child learns to ride a bike. They can read instructions or listen to instructions, but deep learning occurs via the process of doing it.

The Bible helps us learn all three ways.

Visually we learn by reading the Bible. “Study to show yourself a workman approved by God.” Reading the Bible is most often a wonderful way to learn.

Auditorily we learn by hearing Bible truth. That is why it is important to expose yourself to good Bible preaching and teaching.

Kinesthetically we learn through our experiences, that is, what happens to us in light of the Bible truths with which we are familiar. The Bible helps us know how to process the things that happen to us. If our experiences are properly responded to in the way the Bible says, we have a good experience. The next time something similar to that experience happens we know the value of responding that way.

We can and should learn Bible truths in all three ways. How we learn is important, however, of even more importance is what we learn.

Therefore, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” (Proverbs 19:20 ESV)

For the sake of those who learn visually show them the truth.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13 ESV)

Stayers or Strayers

Jesus Christ is looking for people who care. Do you?

He is looking for people to represent Him. Will you?

There have always been people who followed Christ. Those who have can be divided into two groups: stayers or strayers.  

John 6:66 describes the first group. Jesus depicted the challenges and demands of following Him, and “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”  Then Jesus turned with a broken heart and addressed a question to those remaining: “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:68).

They became His decals. They stuck. Near the end of His ministry in the upper room on the eve of His death He paid them one of the highest compliments He ever paid anyone. He said, “You are those who have continued with me in My trials.” In effect, “You,” He said, “stuck with me.”

They were not much to brag on and they probably knew it, but one quality they had and He stressed it. “You stayed when others strayed.” They stayed because they cared.

The philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, not one of my favorite writers; but in his book, “Beyond Good and Evil” he made a worthy observation. He wrote: “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is…that there be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”

That is what results when one really cares about Christ and His cause. There is a long obedience in the same direction. There is no turning back.

Jesus’ disciples were “harassed” and “helpless.” That is, they were bullied and could not help themselves. That is the clientele of our culture also.

Jesus took their condition to heart and was moved by compassion, heartfelt sympathy. These words mean to share with someone their experience.

Many begin their day feeling like the man depicted in the cartoon awakening. The caption: “How do you want your goose cooked today?”

If you care, you share. There is an old proverb which came from ancient Europe which states: “Shared joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”

Clearly, the way of doubling a joy is by sharing it. When something good happens and you share it with a friend, the joy is doubled.

When one receives Jesus Christ as Savior, he is accounted righteous because Christ’s righteousness is imputed to his account.

Being “accounted righteous” does not exonerate us from practicing righteousness – doing right – as He is right.

Some time ago I visited California’s giant Sequoia Forest. I was amazed at one tree known as General Sherman. It is over 200 feet high and is 70 feet in circumference. I thought surely the roots of that big fellow must go at least 100 feet deep. I was fascinated when the guide said they were just beneath the surface. I thought that must be wrong. If they are so shallow, a wind would easily blow them over. The guide explained that Sequoia trees grow only in groves. Their roots intertwine. When the strong winds come, they each hold up the other.

Jesus intends for His followers to be Sequoia Christians.

Jesus Wants to Be Your Yoke Fellow

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Everybody has a yoke mate. This passage makes it clear why it is best to have Jesus as your yoke mate.

Growing up my granddad worked a team of oxen (that shows my age.) The following will include some lessons learned from my experience with him. 

First, what was a yoke such as Jesus spoke of? It was a timber about six feet long with two bows carved out so each could rest on the neck of the oxen. Two oxen were harnessed so together they could share in pulling a weight.

Jesus extends us an invitation to come. The Greek “deute,” is a strong appeal. He earnestly wants to be your yoke mate. The invitation gives reasons why it is a good thing.

Almost hidden in the text is the little word “to,” Greek “pros” is a reference to proximity. Jesus wants to be your intimate yoke fellow.

Does “weary and heavy laden” describe you at times, perhaps even now? 

Weary is the effect. Heavy laden gives the cause. Are you carrying a burden, better yet, are you pulling a burdensome load?

Jesus as a yoke fellow offers rest. The Greek “anapauo,” translated rest means to refresh, to rest up. Sound good?

If you take Him as your yoke fellow you will learn His yoke is easy. The Greek “chrestos,” translated easy means manageable, or even serviceable. In other words, it is designed and suitable for you.

It is also light. “Light” is elaphros, meaning it is not burdensome, or overbearing.

You are going to have a burden in life, everyone does. Jesus’ offer is for a well-fitted one enabling you to be refreshed and rested up while carrying it. His offer is to share it with you.

To take Christ’s yoke means to submit to His person as the one who is gentle and meek, as one who is gentle and caring and concerned for you. It means to put yourself under His leading, to join yourself together with Him, but the difference is, He is the yoke mate and this is how He can give rest.

As a child observing my grandad working his oxen, I learned a lesson I can now, years later apply. In training a young oxen to later join the work he would on occasion yoke the young oxen with an older, stronger, more mature oxen. At first they being newly yoked the smaller, younger oxen pulled very little of the load. As it matured with its yoke partner, it was later easier to share the load with its yoke mate with ease.

The lesson of this passage is Jesus doesn’t want you to go through unequally yoked carrying a burdensome load. He wants to share it with you, preventing the load from being burdensome. Thus, He gives you rest.

Now is a good time to consciously accept Jesus’ offer to become your yoke mate, and have Him share in all your burdens, including the one you might have right now. Ask for His help in dealing with your heavy burden.