murder from a to z

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ARE YOU TAKING THE SON OF GOD SERIOUSLY?

Luke 11:47-51

Luke 11:47 Tragedy is coming to you! You build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed.
Luke 11:48 So you testify that you approve of the deeds of your ancestors, because they killed the prophets and you build their tombs!
Luke 11:49 For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’
Luke 11:50 so that this generation may be held accountable for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world,
Luke 11:51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation.

murder from a to z

Sue Grafton has written an amazing series of murder mysteries, beginning with “A is for Alibi.” Her Kinsey Malone series has a book for each letter of the alphabet. It is very easy to read, and addicting.

It is merely a coincidence that the names of the two people murdered that Jesus mentions happen to begin with a and z. The actual reason he mentions them is that the first murder is recorded in Genesis, and the latter in 2 Chronicles (which was the last book of the Hebrew Bible.

But Jesus’ generation witnessed his earthly ministry and still rejected his message, and would condone and call for his crucifixion. Because of this, they would be held responsible for all the murders from the beginning of time.

It is a serious thing to hear the word of God, and turn your back on Jesus Christ.

LORD, give us the wisdom to take you seriously.

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encouraging without overburdening

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RELIGION WITHOUT REST IS NOT CHRISTIAN

Luke 11:45-46

Luke 11:45 One of the experts in religious law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things you insult us too.”
Luke 11:46 But Jesus replied, ” Tragedy is coming to you experts in religious law as well! You load people down with burdens difficult to bear, yet you yourselves refuse to touch the burdens with even one of your fingers!

encouraging without overburdening

In “Killing Cockroaches”,” Tony Morgan talks about a dilemma he has in encouraging people to be involved in ministry. On the one hand, he feels the obligation to prepare people for ministry in order that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:12). On the other hand, he understands that Christ calls people to himself so that they can rest from their burdens (Matthew 11:28-30). He wants “more and more people to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ” but he also wants “people to experience the freedom and joy and peace found in Christ.”

It is a dilemma worth struggling over.

LORD, help us find the proper balance where we encourage people in their Christian walk without overburdening them.

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secret cemetery

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ARE YOU TURNING PEOPLE AWAY FROM GOD?

Luke 11:42-44

Luke 11:42 “But tragedy is coming to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of your mint, rue, and every herb, yet you neglect justice and love for God! But you should have done these things without neglecting the others.
Luke 11:43 Tragedy is coming to you Pharisees! You love the best seats in the synagogues and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces!
Luke 11:44 Tragedy is coming to you! You are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it!”

secret cemetery

The Pharisees considered graves and cemeteries as off limits because they did not want to be spiritually defiled by touching a dead body. Jesus told them that they were graves themselves, and unmarked — so anyone who touched them would be defiled. The very people in his society who were considered super-spiritual were in fact leading many to sin.

LORD, make us people who lead others to you, not turn them away from you by our sin.

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sanctification sanitation

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HOW CAN YOU LOOK GOOD IN GOD’S SIGHT?

Luke 11:37-41

Luke 11:37 As he spoke, a Pharisee invited Jesus to have a meal with him, so he went in and took his place at the table.
Luke 11:38 The Pharisee was astonished when he saw that Jesus did not first wash his hands before the meal.
Luke 11:39 But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.
Luke 11:40 You fools! Didn’t the one who made the outside make the inside as well?
Luke 11:41 But give from your heart to those in need, and then everything will be clean for you.

sanctification sanitation

The Pharisees thought that ritual purity was what matters most to God. Jesus exposed that kind of thinking as hypocrisy, because God knows us inside and out. The best way to be pure in God’s sight is to seek his will. The best way to experience the sanitation that comes from sanctification is to redirect your life toward serving others, and using your resources for their benefit.

LORD, show us how to look good in your sight, by loving others the way you do.

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a healthy eye

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WHAT DIRECTION ARE YOU HEADED?

Luke 11:33-36

Luke 11:33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a hidden place or under a basket, but on a lamp-stand, so that those who come in can see the light.
Luke 11:34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is diseased, your body is full of darkness.
Luke 11:35 Therefore see to it that the light in you is not darkness.
Luke 11:36 If then your whole body is full of light, with no part in the dark, it will be as full of light as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”

a healthy eye

Here’s what Dr. Gary Staats says about a healthy eye:

“If the eye is healthy, then all the rest of the body will be healthy and will be light. A healthy eye causes the rest of the body to move and walk in a way that does not cause one to fall or stumble over objects that one would not see. If your eye is evil, that is if you go after money as the goal of all, then all the body shall be dark. …The eye that is able to see eternity and prepare for eternity is a healthy eye, but the eye that only sees the temporal is the unhealthy eye” (The Teaching of Christ in The Sermon on The Mount, 26).

LORD, show us your promises for eternity, then help us to keep our eyes steady, focused on those promises.

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except the sign of Jonah

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THE RESURRECTION WILL SHOW WHAT IS REAL

Luke 11:29-32

Luke 11:29 As the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it looks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.
Luke 11:30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation.
Luke 11:31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgement with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon– and now, something greater than Solomon is here!
Luke 11:32 The people of Nineveh will stand up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented when Jonah preached to them– and now, something greater than Jonah is here!

except the sign of Jonah

What an exception! The Old Testament prophet Jonah was “buried” in a whale tomb, and resurrected, going on to lead the evil city of Nineveh to repentance, and revival. Jesus tells his followers that the people of Nineveh will “rise up” and condemn the unbelieving generation of his day. Then he says a Gentile queen will do the same. N.T. Wright says that the “explicit resurrection language” that Jesus used in this passage spoke of a great “reversal” that is to come, when some gentiles who believe are shown to be kingdom citizens, but some Jews shown to not be (The Resurrection of the Son of God, 2012).” The reality of a coming resurrection will demonstrate the reality of our commitment.

LORD, make us true to our faith in Christ, because it matters.

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worse than the first

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BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU DO WITH YOUR CLEAN SLATE.

Luke 11:24-28

Luke 11:24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a person, it passes through dry places looking for rest but not finding any. Then it says, ‘I will return to the home I left.’
Luke 11:25 When it returns, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.
Luke 11:26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there, so the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
Luke 11:27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd spoke out to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed!”
Luke 11:28 But he replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”

worse than the first

Peter appears to be alluding to this statement by Jesus when he says

“Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved. For if after they have escaped the filthy things of the world through the rich knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they again get entangled in them and succumb to them, their last state has become worse for them than their first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to turn back from the holy commandment that had been delivered to them.” (2 Peter 2:19-21 NET).

Just like in this passage itself, an apparent believer in Christ and his kingdom is playing around with mariolatry by blessing Mary instead of Christ himself. As John Henry Jowett warns, “To have known, and then to rebel translates our very knowledge into a minister of destruction” (The Epistles of Peter, 151).

LORD, replace our empty lives with your fullness, and your pure kingdom.

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gathering with him

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WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Luke 11:19-23

Luke 11:19 Now if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
Luke 11:20 But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has already overtaken you.
Luke 11:21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his possessions are safe.
Luke 11:22 But when a stronger man attacks and defeats him, he takes away the first man’s armour on which the man relied and divides up his plunder.
Luke 11:23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

gathering with him

Jesus described his deliverance ministry as a stronger man overcoming and plundering a strong man. He was intent on going throughout the villages and towns and finding those demonised, he would deliver them all. He was overthrowing Satan’s kingdom, one soul at a time.

Those who had decided to criticise and oppose Jesus had sided with the wrong kingdom. Those of us who have decided to believe in Jesus and support his work must take up the same work. We must gather with him, or else we are on the wrong team, doing the wrong work.

LORD, show us how to overcome Satan’s kingdom.

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kingdoms in conflict

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HIS KINGDOM WILL LAST FOREVER

Luke 11:14-18

Luke 11:14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the man who had been mute began speaking, and the crowds were amazed.
Luke 11:15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons,.”
Luke 11:16 Others, to test him, began asking for a sign from heaven.
Luke 11:17 But Jesus, realizing what they were thinking, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is destroyed, and a divided household falls.
Luke 11:18 So if Satan too is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? I ask you this because you claim that I cast out demons by Beelzebul.

kingdoms in conflict

Jesus knew that his ministry was not just treating single cases, just trying to do good to individuals. He understood his ministry as representing a kingdom, and one which is destined to stand forever, and not fall into oblivion. That is why he replied to the accusations that he was using Satan’s power. That cannot be, because his kingdom is the antithesis to Satan’s, and will eventually overthrow it.

LORD, may your kingdom come in its fullness, soon!

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individual service

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SPECIAL TREAT

Luke 11:9-13

Luke 11:9 “So I tell you: Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened for you.
Luke 11:10 Because everyone who keeps asking receives, and the one who keeps seeking finds, and to the one who keeps knocking, the door will be opened.
Luke 11:11 What father among you, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?
Luke 11:12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
Luke 11:13 If you then, although you are all wrong, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who keep asking him!”

individual service

We had the chance to help out some friends yesterday, painting a house they plan to sell. Afterwards, they treated us to dinner at their home. It was going to be a special treat for the kids, because each would be able to order what they wanted from the take-away menu. It was a special treat for them, because they seldom did that. When you have eight kids, individual service is a luxury. But it was a joy for the parents to give each child what he or she likes.

God is like that with us. He usually gives us all the same rain and sunshine. But he wants to treat us as individuals. He wants us to order our own preference on the take-away menu. It brings him joy to answer our prayers.

LORD, you know what we need; give us your Holy Spirit.

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