Saturday, March 31, 2012

Misguided Loyalties…………….. Part II

“…….another also said, `I will follow thee, sir, but first permit me to take leave of those in my house;'

and Jesus said unto him, `No one having put his hand on a plough, and looking back, is fit for the reign of God.’’’  Luke 9:61-62 YLT

Again, Jesus is faced with the problem of the convenient disciple.   Notice the man said, “Permit me..…”   He was trying to make a bargain with Jesus.  We are only to do what Jesus says and not tell Him what we want to do.

Jesus challenges the distracted disciple to stay focused and to be committed.  The farmer who needs to drive the oxen to plow the field must look to an object on the other side of the field and keep looking at it.  If he turns his eyes to the side, then the plow line will follow that same direction.  Following Jesus is a long term commitment.  We must notice our tendencies to get distracted and determine in our hearts to follow Jesus.

This man’s conduct stands here as a warning to all to whom God has given the privilege of preaching the gospel.

I am certain this man, like the one before him and those following in chapter 10 was a man sent out by Jesus to preach the gospel.  The lesson taught in these two verses is to be applied in its strictest sense to all who are sent of God to do His work. The lesson is clear. – We cannot serve God with divided hearts!

This man appears to have had a divided heart.  He wanted both the ease and joy of other men and the nobility of preaching the gospel.

He seems to have looked upon the work of the ministry as a sacrifice rather than a privilege.

 Be warned!  Jesus will not share His throne with anyone, not even with our dearest relatives.  He requires our hearts.  He must be first!

“My son, give me your heart and let your eyes observe and delight in my ways….”  Prov. 23:26 AMP

When we read the accounts of Jesus’ life in the gospels we find Him giving this command on many occasions: Follow Me!  You might remember Him calling Peter and Andrew, James and John by saying “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19).

When the rich young ruler asked what he still lacked in order that he might inherit eternal life, Jesus answered him by saying “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me” (Mark 10:21).  

Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Jesus’ general command to His disciples: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

When is the last time you had to make a really difficult choice in your life, in order to follow Christ faithfully?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Misguided loyalties……..

“And another one said, “Lord, I will follow You, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at home.”

Jesus said to him, “Anyone who puts his hand on a plow and looks back at the things behind is of no use in the holy nation of God.”  Luke 9:61-62 NLV

The third man says, “I will follow you Lord, but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family” (Luke 9:61).

This requested delay, in contrast to the second man, seems so trivial, does it not?  Our response might be, “Well, sure why not, what’s another thirty minutes?   No problem.”  In the case of the second man, there seem to be compelling reasons for a would-be disciple to wait to follow Jesus until after the dead have been buried.  In the case of the third man, the delay seems so minimal that it hardly appears to matter one way or the other.  In fact, we find that when Elisha did just this, he was not condemned for doing so:

…… he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him.   And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.”

And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?”

 So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant”.  I Kings 19:19-21 NKJV

Jesus does not see it that way.  He responded, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”  (Luke 9:62).

Why does He say this when the man only wants to go back and say good-bye to his family?  Jesus sets down a principle that every farmer would understand: You cannot plow a straight row looking backward.

If you want to plow a straight row, you must keep the plow lined up by fixing on some object ahead, and aiming toward it.  Anyone who tries to plow while looking backward is in trouble. It would be similar to attempting to drive while looking only at the rear view mirror.

It is as though Jesus knows that if this man went back to his family to say good-bye, he would be talked out of following Him.  His father might take him aside and remind him of his obligations to his family.  His wife might remind him that she comes first and that he is making reckless decisions.  His mother might start sobbing uncontrollably.  It was not his going back to say good-bye that was wrong; it was that doing so would keep him from following Jesus.  

After the Israelites were delivered from their Egyptian slavery, when things got tough, some of the people began to “look back” to Egypt, as though returning to Egypt would be better than going on to the Promised Land.   They went so far as to talk of killing Moses and of appointing another leader who would lead them back to Egypt.  When they looked back, their hearts were not fully committed to going forward.  So Jesus seems to be saying that anything that turns our hearts from a full commitment to follow Him should be avoided, even though it may seem insignificant, even though it may look like the right thing to do.

I believe Jesus knew that this man still had a yearning to stay home, rather than to follow Him.

Later, Jesus tells His disciples, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -- yes, even his own life-----he cannot be My disciple" (Lk 14:26).   Jesus is saying in the strongest possible terms that following Him must come before every responsibility we have -- even those which we hold sacred  (1 Timothy 5:8).

For most of us, our call to follow Jesus does NOT mean we have to physically leave our loved ones.  But we may need to leave them behind spiritually in order to follow Jesus.

The problem is that this man was really looking for an excuse not to follow.  He wanted to keep his options opened.  He undoubtedly loved Jesus but he loved his family more.  He is the distracted disciple who gets real excited and devoted for a short time and then you do not see him for a while.  He is off involved in the latest trend or some other emotional moment.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Divided Loyalties………….

“Jesus said to another man, "Follow me!"

But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."

 But Jesus said to him, "Let the people who are dead bury their own dead. You must go and tell about the kingdom of God."  Luke 9:59-60  NCV

If we only had Luke’s account, we could not be certain about the fact that this man was already one of the Lord’s disciples; but Matthew makes that fact perfectly clear.

Another of his disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”  (Matthew 8:21 NLT)

This man had been called.  He was one of those like Matthew, Peter, James, and John to whom Jesus had come, to whom He had said, "Follow Me."  Being called, he was a believer.  He was a true disciple.  

He was, in fact, one of those whom Jesus was about to send out with the group of 72 gospel preachers.  It seems that he was willing to go, and wanted to go; but he desired a deferment for a while, because he had another, more pressing, more important responsibility.  Before he could go out preaching, he must first take care of his family’s needs.   He said, "Lord, let me first to go and bury my father."

Why, then, did the Lord Jesus respond to this man’s request the way He did? – "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God."

The Lord was simply saying this: -- There are others who can and will take care of that matter. You have more important things to do. There are other people to bury your father. I have called you and sent you to preach the gospel.

Without question, there are lots of dead people who need burying; but there are plenty of spiritually dead people to bury them. Those who have been called of God to preach the gospel must never be turned aside from their calling.  The only method God uses for the building of His Church and Kingdom is the preaching of the gospel.  All other that is built with wood, hay, and stubble will be burned.

 Then, there are some who attempt to serve Christ with divided loyalties, like the man in our text, attempting to be part time preachers.

They are willing to be preachers and are willing to serve Christ.  But they put off their service to Jesus, dividing their time and energy between Christ and other matters of concern and responsibility. They fail to understand that those who are called of God to preach the gospel must give themselves entirely to the work of the gospel ministry: to prayer, to study, to worship and to preaching.

“Let no one show little respect for you because you are young.  Show other Christians how to live by your life. They should be able to follow you in the way you talk and in what you do. Show them how to live in faith and in love and in holy living.

Until I come, read and preach and teach the Word of God to the church.   Be sure to use the gift God gave you. The leaders saw this in you when they laid their hands on you and said what you should do.  Think about all this.

Work at it so everyone may see you are growing as a Christian.   Watch yourself how you act and what you teach.  Stay true to what is right.  If you do, you and those who hear you will be saved from the punishment of sin.”  I Tim. 4:12-16 NLV

The gospel of Christ alone is the power of God unto salvation!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

But first let me.…

“He said to another, “Follow Me.” But the man said, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”   Jesus said to him, “Let the people who are dead bury their own dead. You go and preach about the holy nation of God.”   Luke 9: 59-60  NLV

The last two men exemplify what could be called “delayed commitments.”   Notice that in both cases the key word each man uses is “first:” “…let me first go….” (verse 59), and, but first let me.… ” (verse 61).  Notice also that in these instances no one has said anything about not following Jesus.   What they are talking about is following Christ “when,” following Christ “if,” and following Christ “after.”

These two men fully intend to be Jesus’ disciples sometime and somehow, but not immediately.  Thus we have these two offers of delayed commitment.

The first delay looks like an acceptable excuse for one’s absence, does not it?  We all know that a death in the family, especially the death of one’s father, is a valid reason for taking time off work or putting something off for a while.  

Some Bible scholars tell us that this “father” has not really died yet. Therefore, what this “disciple” is saying is that he must stay home with his parents until that time when his father dies, which may be a number of years. The text doesn’t really tell us this.

So let’s give this would-be disciple the benefit of the doubt and suppose that his father died that morning, and that he’s going to be buried that night.  Now suppose that this man to whom Jesus has just said, “Follow Me,” is the oldest son.  As the oldest son, he would be expected to stop what he was doing and to handle all of the arrangements.  It is regarded as his duty.  In spite of all this, Jesus says to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60).

Do you think Jesus is being unduly demanding?   Jesus could have said to him, “I’ll tell you what, we are going to go on.  Why don’t you finish up with your father’s funeral and then catch up with us on our way to Jerusalem.  We understand this is difficult for you, so just do what you’ve got to do.  After all, it will only be a few days, so get your father buried, get your affairs in order, and then come join us.”

Jesus does not say that.  What Jesus says is rather shocking, and it is not what everybody expects.  The man’s request for a delay seems reasonable until you begin to look at what Jesus says in response.  Jesus’ response brings His divine insight to reveal the problem.  

When there is a death in the family, people are usually willing to set aside normal routines so that one’s family obligations can be fulfilled.  Jesus challenges us on this point, He says: “No, you must follow Me now”, rather than go take the time to bury your father. 

He will now tell us why.  Ultimately, it all comes down to what is most important.

When Jesus says, “Let the dead bury their own dead,” He is saying that is a job anyone can do.  More pointedly, an unbeliever (“the dead”) can handle a burial as well as a believer.  

If I were forced to choose between following Jesus and burying my father, I would have to choose to follow Jesus to be a true disciple.  Consider the eternal value of these two activities: (1) burying the dead; or, (2) preaching the gospel by which men can enter into eternal life.  The first choice does nothing that others who are spiritually dead cannot do; the latter proclaims a message by which men can escape the bonds of death and receive the gift of eternal life.  Is that not what the gospel is all about?

As part of our Christian responsibility to our family, we carry out such duties as burying the dead. But if we had to make the choice, as some people have, between following Christ and fulfilling our family duties, which would we choose?

Jesus suggests that the answer to this question should be determined according to what is eternally more important.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Volunteer Disciple……………………

“As Jesus and his disciples traveled along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Human One has no place to lay his head.”   Luke 9:57-58  CEB

The final paragraph of Luke chapter 9 focuses on three “potential disciples.”  Each of these men offers to follow Jesus.  Luke has each man give us one statement regarding his commitment.  He then reports to us what Jesus had to say to each man in response to his offer.

There is something wrong with the commitment of each of these three men. The first of these appears to volunteer unconditionally. The second appears to have an emergency, which will delay his commitment, but just for a time. The third seems ready to follow Jesus immediately, but just wants to say good-bye to his family before he leaves.  In each case, the commitment to follow Jesus seems sincere, and the level of commitment looks acceptable to the reader.

Jesus’ words in response to each man surprises and even amazes us.   Why is He so discouraging to these men?  What kind of discipleship does Jesus require?  Taken together, the commitments of these three men and the correction of Jesus are very instructive concerning Christian discipleship.

The first would-be disciple approaches Jesus with what appears to be a very simple and unlimited commitment: “I will follow You wherever You go” (verse 57). 

What could be clearer?  How could Jesus hope for any better volunteer, any better “disciple” than this?  But Jesus is obviously not satisfied, as we can see from His response: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (verse 58).

 We need to remember that we can only observe “outward appearance,” while God “looks upon the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  Jesus knows that this man cannot be a true disciple.

Even if this man’s commitment to Jesus would have caused him to go anywhere Jesus went, is following Jesus only a matter of geography?

 This first man is someone like a person that is joining the army.  He tells the recruiting officer that he will go anywhere the army will send him.  But does this mean that the man is willing to give up his stylish jeans for a neatly pressed uniform?  Is he willing to exchange long hair for a buzz cut?  Will he submit to the rigors of boot camp? Will he take orders? Will he risk his life in warfare?

Jesus takes this man’s offer at face value.  He will now put this man’s commitment to the test.  Jesus says to him in effect, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. You say you will follow Me anywhere.  I do not own a home.  I do not even have a place that I can call ‘home.’  I do not even own my own bed.  Are you willing to follow Me under these conditions?”

When this man talks about following Jesus, he is thinking about accompanying Him to this or that town. Jesus says, “No, following Me requires that you imitate Me in EVERY aspect of My life and ministry.  It is patterning your life after My life, and that means much more than just being willing to move from one place to another, as romantic as that sounds.” 

Jesus’ focus is on what one is willing to leave behind in order to go.  Following Jesus requires leaving; specifically, it requires leaving home.  Jesus is saying to this man, “You don’t really understand what you’re saying.  In order to follow Me you must be willing to leave everything behind, even what you call ‘home.’”

Monday, March 26, 2012

“I will follow you wherever you go…………..”

As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”  Luke 9:57-58  NLT

If we are to understand the lessons taught in these verses of Luke 9: 57-62, we must not fail to see the context in which it is given and keep it in mind.

    ** The Lord Jesus has just finished instructing His disciples about serving Him (Luke 9:43-50, 55).

    **He has set His face steadfastly to go up to Jerusalem, to die as our Substitute (Luke 9:51).

    **He has just announced His mission in this world (Luke 9:56 – "The Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.").

    **He was just about to send out seventy of His disciples to preach the gospel (Luke 10:1).

But just before He sends out the seventy to proclaim the gospel of His grace, Luke tells us about the Master’s conversation with these three men.   His purpose in doing so is obvious…

Proposition:  If we would follow Christ, if we would serve Him, we must do so wholeheartedly, with singleness of mind and clarity of purpose.

Today we will take a quick glimpse of the first man who volunteered to follow Jesus as one of His disciples and tomorrow we will take an in depth look.

Once again, Luke wrote; “As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”    But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head”         (vs 57-58).

Matthew gives us just a little bit more information about him than Luke.  Matthew tells us that this man was a scribe:

Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”

 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8:19-20 NJKV).

This was a very religious man.  He was a scribe, a man who spent his life in the Scriptures.  But he was a lost man.  Judging purely from the Lord’s reply to his bold, confident declaration, this man had somehow gotten the idea in his head that it would be to his advantage to be numbered among the Lord’s disciples.

He seems to have thought to himself, "If this man is the Christ, if He is going to Jerusalem to establish His kingdom, I don’t want to be left out and miss the great opportunity of being a part of His royal court."

He had no idea what was involved in following Jesus.   He did not ask.   He did not care.  He was not concerned about what it meant to be a follower of Christ.  He was only concerned about what he could gain by following Him.  Besides, he was quite confident that he was up to the task, whatever it might be.

The fact that this man was a fake disciple is obvious, because those things that are both essential to and vital parts of faith in Christ were missing.

The plain fact is no one can come to God until Jesus first comes to him.  Is this not the doctrine of our Lord?  This man came to the Jesus physically, but not spiritually.

He came in word, but NOT in heart.   He came outwardly, but NOT inwardly.  I will make no attempt to say whether he was sincere or purely hypocritical. The fact is, he could not come and did not come to Jesus in saving faith.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day”   (John 6:44 NKJV).

This man had no divine call.

 He was not taught of God.

 He had experienced no conviction:

       * Of Sin

       * Of Righteousness

       * Of Judgment

There was no confession of sin, cry for mercy, plea for grace, or need of Christ.

This scribe simply decided he would join the Jesus’ club and get in on a good thing.  He was very confident he could follow Jesus anywhere and through anything.  After all, he had made his decision!  But his decision could NOT change his heart.

You can try and change a person, control them by religion, have them read the Bible daily and play “God” in their life in order to make them who you want them to be, but it will NOT work.  You cannot change them or make them repent or lead them into repentance with hidden motives.   ONLY GOD CAN CHANGE THEM WHEN THEY ARE WILLING TO BE CHANGED! 

“So then, everything depends, not on what we humans want or do, but only on God's mercy”.   Romans 9:16 GNT

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It Costs to Follow Jesus…………..

“Once Jesus and those who were with him were walking along the road. A man said to Jesus, "I will follow you no matter where you go."

 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes. Birds of the air have nests. But the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

 He said to another man, "Follow me."

But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."

 Jesus said to him, "Let dead people bury their own dead. You go and tell others about God's kingdom."

 Still another man said, "I will follow you, Lord. But first let me go back and say good-by to my family."

 Jesus replied, "Suppose you start to plow and then look back. If you do, you are not fit for service in God's kingdom."  Luke 9:57-62 NIRV

We have a calling to follow Jesus.  

Following Jesus is a life call.

It is the call to each one of us!

We must not let comforts, convenience, fleshly desires, emotions or our choices distract us from our devotion to Jesus.   Most of us do not know what it means to follow Jesus.  Once we do, then our whole lives will change and those around us will want to know more about Jesus.  Without this life commitment, you stand at odds with Jesus.

Jesus has a whole new life mapped out for His disciples. You need to closely follow Him to be on that path. Comforts, convenience, emotions, fleshly desires and preserving our life choices always get in the way of following Jesus.

Do you renege on your love for God?   

The Kingdom of God is comprised of Jesus’ disciples. This is the group of people who stand ready to unquestionably live out God’s commands.

The requirement for discipleship is that we must put Christ above self.   Specifically, the stipulation is to bear one’s own cross, a requirement that pictures the crucifixion.  In fact, a crucifixion victim carried his own cross beam to the place of death.  

 Discipleship is not a picnic.  Yet if anyone does not put Jesus above any cost, Jesus said he or she cannot be His disciple.  We count the cost of following Jesus when we place… Christ above any price!

Rumors of the execution of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani were leaked out after a source close to one of his lawyer’s contacted international media, informing them that a lower court had signed Nadarkhani’s execution papers and that his death sentence would be carried out soon, sources told Compass Direct News.

 Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is facing execution in Iran.  His crimes?  He is an apostate who abandoned Islam.  He was convicted of practicing Christianity, trying to register home churches, and the mandatory Islamic religious education of his children.  

The pastor was given an option.  Recant his faith and he can live.  His faith is his life.  He refused.   He is condemned to be lynched.

Persecution, even martyrdom, has been the cost of discipleship for Christians down through the centuries.  In many lands believers still suffer imprisonment and death for their uncompromising devotion to their Savior.  Even in nations that supposedly have religious freedom, as Iran claims to have, a person with a bold witness for the Lord may become the target of ridicule or more.

In what areas of your life are you struggling with choosing comfort over what God is calling you to do?

What specific steps of faith and sacrifice is He calling you to take?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sluggard vs. Disciple………………

Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
 Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
 Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.
 How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you rise from your sleep?”   Prov. 6:6-9 NKJV

Sluggard                                                                Disciple

Pleasure driven                                               Purpose driven

Procrastinates - Proverbs 6:9-11                                    Initiates – Proverbs 6:6-8

(a little more rest…….)

Make excuses – Proverbs 22:13                     Makes sacrifices to obey God’s Word

Proud and unteachable – Prov. 26:16             Continually learning, working, serving        

Unhelpful – Proverbs 10:26                                   Serves others, puts others first

Like smoke in the eyes

When you neglect work, you hurt yourself.

When you neglect work, you hurt others.

Stuck – like a door stuck on its hinges                        Free – Psalm 145

Joyless (always craving) – Proverbs 21:26              Joyful; you feel good when you do

Craving approval, popularity, security.                     good because you are doing what   

                                                                        God created you to do.        

There is a positive example given of the ant in comparison of the sluggard.  “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.”  This is a humiliating example for man.  Here God comes along in the Word and He addresses one whom He originally created in His own image, to multiply, subdue and to keep the earth, and He takes him to one of the smallest of the creatures of the creation and He says, “Look at that ant and learn from him.”

We have only to watch the ant for a few minutes and we can see that it is an industrious and a cooperative animal.  We can see that the ant is self-motivated. We can, also see that it perseveres.   This is a very convicting example for us.  

The ant, according to the text, has no guide or overseer or ruler, and yet she provides her meat in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest.  If you have ever tried to stop an ant from doing its work, you know that an ant does not stand still for a minute. It will hesitate if you block its path, and then find some other way to accomplish its goals.

We should look at the ant, and we need to learn from the ant, and we have to gain wisdom.  Consider the ant and be wise.

What is wisdom?  Wisdom is a knowledge that takes God into account, a knowledge that applies the reality of God to daily life. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

The Bible calls us to be diligent—to be diligent in spiritual things; to be fervent in prayer; to be zealous in love; be one who searches the Scriptures daily; to realize that there is a battle and we have to be vigilant in this battle against the spiritual dangers.  The Bible calls us not to put off these things.

 Jesus knocks on our heart’s door to enter our life.  “Behold, I (Jesus) stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The sluggard's character….. Part II

“The sluggard says, There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!”             Prov. 22:13 AMP

The point is that the sluggard creates imaginary circumstances to justify not doing his work.

The sluggard is conceited and refuses to face the reality of what he is (Prov. 26:16).  The sluggard could change, but he will not listen to anyone.  He really thinks he will change one day and that there is no hurry.  In the mean time, he knows what he is doing and will not listen to anyone who tries to correct him.

Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep (Prov. 6:9-10; 19:15). It only takes a little sloth to start the individual on the path to poverty.  Laziness produces more laziness.   Always, therefore, look at sloth, not as an infirmity, but as a sin, affecting the whole man, growing upon us with unperceived power.  Allow it therefore no rest, no time to root itself. Resist it in all its forms--bodily, mental, spiritual: indulgence of sleep and appetite: self-pleasing in all its subtle and plausible workings.

Slothfulness results in things not being maintained (Prov. 24:30-34). The sluggard’s field grows over, his automobile is falling apart, his apartment or house deteriorates, his tools are rusty, his roof leaks, his hedges need trimmed and weeds have taken over his yard.  His things are misplaced.

Slothfulness brings one to poverty (Prov. 19:15; 20:4; 20:13; 24:33-34).   The sluggard’s poverty comes unexpectedly as when a guest arrives unannounced, and it comes with irresistible force as when one is robbed by an armed man.

The sluggard is dissatisfied.  He has the needs, the cravings, and the desires of any normal person, but they cannot be satisfied.  (Prov.13:4, 20:4, 21:25)

Slothfulness is frustrating to the sluggard (Prov. 15:19).

Slothfulness is frustrating to others (Prov. 10:26).

The sluggard’s position will be one of bondage.

As we think about the sluggard, we should recognize that his attitude and his sinful inclination are in every one of us.

Laziness is a sin of the heart.  It is an attitude that we should recognize in every one of us. Do we procrastinate?  Do we take the easy road when it comes to work? Are we jealous of others and think that they have it so much better than we do?  Do we make excuses for not being as productive as we should be in the work that we have?

“As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.” (Prov. 26:14)

This warning is true in our physical life as well as in our spiritual life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The sluggard's character….. Part I

“As a door turns on its hinges,
so a sluggard turns on the bed.”   Prov.  26:14  TNIV

Fourteen times in the book of Proverbs, Solomon sees fit to warn us against falling into the sluggard's ways.  Solomon sees the sluggard as a tragic yet comical figure. Poking fun of him, Solomon says, “As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed” (Prov. 26:14).

Or, imagine someone so lazy that he can't or won't even feed himself (Prov. 19:24).  The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth! (Prov. 26:15)

Throughout Proverbs, Solomon reveals to us the sluggard's character:

 He loves to procrastinate, to put off.  His motto is, "Later. Right now let me have a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest" (Prov. 6:10).  Step by little step, the sluggard gives way; by inches and by minutes, the sluggard lets opportunities slip away.  It starts out as a slow gas leak, without realizing it you are overtaken by the gas. The same with slothfulness, it starts out small but with time it increases then justification kicks in. 

The sluggard will not finish things. There are rare times, that the sluggard begins something but just to begin requires so much of his effort that the impulse to finish quickly dies.

The sluggard is full of excuses.  He's got a thousand excuses for why he cannot start or finish planting, plowing, harvesting, or whatever (Prov. 22:13).  

Of course, his excuses are just plain ridiculous.   When we start justifying our actions this should be a clue something is wrong.  Our conscience is trying to get our attention, but when we want to ignore it because we want our way, we justify our actions, sins, words………..justification for bad behavior. 

The sluggard loves sleep (Prov. 20:13; 26:14). This can refer to actual sleeping or to just lazing about, “a little folding of the hands,” talking about things of no value, watching television, endlessly surfing “You Tube”, playing video games, golfing, being consumed with professional sports, fishing, snowboarding, fb, tweeting, movies,  surfing the Internet…….. you name it and they will justify their actions and motives.  The sluggard is diligent toward folly but he is lazy toward wisdom.

The sluggard has many desires and plans and covets many things, but he will not work hard to attain these things and thus he is frustrated (Prov. 21:25-26). It is not that the sluggard does not have any ambition. He is going to do a lot of things whenever he finally gets around to it.  He desires; he covets; but he does not follow through.

The sluggard is slothful and not diligent; he does only what he has to do.

The sluggard is one who wastes time and opportunities and does not plan ahead and work hard to fulfill wise objectives.

He uses fear and lies as an excuse.  

In Colossians Paul reminds us that we have been buried with Christ in death and raised with Him to new life (Col 2:11-12; 3:1). But then he goes on to say:

“So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God).   

But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips!”  (Col 3:5,8 AMP)

In other words, we must live out what we are in Christ; we must make real in our day-to-day lives what Christ has done for us; filled with the Spirit and armed with the Word we must fight the deadly sins in our own life; or, to put it another way, we must live the consecrated life.

It is my responsibility to protect the door into my heart. “Set a guard, O Lord, before my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3 AMP).

Monday, March 19, 2012


“As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.”  Prov. 26:14  NIV

The Bible describes the “sluggard” as someone who is hinged to his bed.

A “Sluggard” is a person who is habitually lazy.

The sluggard is conceited and refuses to face the reality of what he is (Prov. 26:16). The sluggard could change, but he will not listen to anyone.  He really thinks he will change one day and that there is no hurry. In the mean time, he knows what he is doing and will not listen to anyone who tries to correct him.

The Bible does not tolerate this man.  In Proverbs 26:14 it almost makes fun of him: “As the door turns upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.”  When you go to wake him, he says, “Just a little more sleep, just a little more slumber,” and then he rolls over in his bed like a creaking door hinge.  A few minutes later, his alarm rings again, he presses the snooze button and he rolls over one more time, creaking like that door hinge.  This is the figure and the picture that the Scriptures give of the lazy man.

The lazy man needs to learn a lesson and we need to learn a lesson from the lazy man. The lesson that we should learn is that his laziness will result in poverty.  First of all, it will result in a physical poverty.  If you are sleeping, and the armed man has been in your house during the night, you wake up in the morning and your possessions are gone. The lazy man will awake someday to find out that he has nothing—that the world and its opportunities and the things that he could have had for himself have passed him by.

But this poverty is not only physical.  The poverty that will come on a lazy man is a spiritual poverty.  There is an old saying that “idle time is the devil’s playground.” That means that if a man is not productive, if he does not work, Satan will soon fill that void with temptation and with sinful thoughts.  

This makes you think of the parable that Jesus told of the prodigal son.  Jesus builds that parable around the Proverb in 28:19, “He that worketh his land, shall be filled with loaves; he that followeth idleness (but he who is idle, or lazy), shall be filled with neediness.” (WYC)

This does remind you of the prodigal son because he followed vain persons.  Not only was his time occupied with the wasting of his goods, but his time was also occupied with partying and being slothful, and he came to a spiritual dearth. There is a great danger for your soul.  

As we think about the sluggard, we should recognize that his attitude and his sinful inclination are in every one of us.

The sluggard’s position will be one of bondage.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Open or shut door……

“As the door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man [move not from his place] upon his bed.”  Proverbs 26:14 AMP

Would you live in your house if it did not have a door?

Doors are pretty important. We would not live in a house without doors because doors serve valuable purposes.

In John chapter ten Jesus makes two “I AM” statements in which He clearly states for the people in general and the Pharisees in particular what a “true” Good Shepherd should look like.  He states that “I AM The Door of the Sheep” (v. 10) and “I AM the Good Shepherd” (v.11).

He presents an exclusive claim in verse 7; “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”
The whole point of the story is that there are two kinds of sheepfolds – the first type was large enough to hold several flocks, it was substantially built, and was cared for by a porter or gate keeper. The second kind was often little more than a rough circle of stone and the shepherd himself lay down across the opening and entrance into the sheepfold. The shepherd was the door.  No sheep could get out and no enemy could come in except over his body.  In a very literal sense, the shepherd was the door. There was no way in or out except through him.

There is exclusiveness about the “door.”  You cannot just demand another door!
Jesus is not suggesting the there are several doors to salvation and that He is but one of them.  He says that He is “the” door.  We are not to think of many ways that we could come to God.  Jesus is saying He is the one way, the door by which all the sheep enter.

There are many things that men may think are the door to the kingdom of heaven.  But no matter what men may think religion is not that door, baptism is not that door and works is not that door.  There is only one door.

Verse eight says, “All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.”  Jesus tells us that you can tell a lot about a man’s character by the way he tries to get into the sheepfold.

There is a problem in that we are separated from God by a wide chasm filled by our sins. The situation can be also be pictured as a wall or fence separating God and man. If there is no way over the wall then our only hope is for some way through the wall, in other words, a door.

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (v.9).

The only way to enter the fold is through repentance and receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior.

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

You either enter heaven by Jesus or you stay outside.  You cannot demand another door and it is no use looking for another gate.

People, today, do not like to hear this. They want to subscribe to popular thought – that all paths, all faiths and all religions, lead to God, heaven and eternal life.

Jesus is the door to heaven.  And, it is up to Him to open or shut that door.  This brings to mind what Jesus commanded the Apostle John to write:

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”  (Rev 3:7)

The church must be careful that she does not become like the OT synagogue – a closed door. The church must strive to be like Christ – an open door to all who repent and believe.

It was 400 silent, dark years between God’s last utterances to Israel until the day that angels heralded the coming of Jesus Christ.  It was the announcement of a Door of Hope to the world.  For Jesus declared himself, "I am the Door!"

As part of the Godhead, He is the door to the sheep.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Jesus is the Door………

“As a door swings back and forth on its hinges,
so the lazy person turns over in bed.”   Prov. 26:14  NLT

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of having a one on one fellowship with a young friend of mine.  He wanted to read Proverbs 26 for a quick study of the Word.  As he read this Proverb we would stop and discuss each verse and when we reached verse fourteen I receive a revelation on this Word and how it is interwoven with other passages written about the “door” and being “lazy”.  

I began to share this revelation with him and he just jumped right in with his own view and how he defined this verse.  It was an awesome time of fellowship!

I have since then prayed and mediated on this revelation and the scriptures that I received that interweave with it.   

So…………I hope to share this week what I learned about the door and how laziness can stop us from going through the door that has been set before us.

Thank you, “Little Man” for sharing your heart and encouraging me to run with what I saw and heard!  You are a special blessing in my life!

We know what the word “door” means, but let’s revisit the definition.  Webster defines a door as:” A passage into a room, a barrier usually turning on a hinge, movable, solid, a barrier for opening and closing an entranceway, or any means of access”

A door can also represent an opportunity i.e., the door to the future, or protection to keep out weather or danger and for privacy or solitude.

There are many types of doors: trap door, stage, swinging, blind, garage, French, sliding, louver, pet door, revolving, automatic, blast proof door and a cabinet door.

A door is one of the most important “pictures” of Christianity.  Jesus represents a door, the entryway into heaven, our passage to the throne of God. 

Jesus is the way into heaven.   He keeps out those who do not believe.  Jesus gives us an opportunity to serve Him.  “I am the door into the sheepfold” (John 10:1). Jesus keeps us from danger or harm.  “I kept silent and went not out of the door” (Job 31:34).

The “I Am” analogy suggests that the Lord is: The only God, so Jesus is the only door.  No one created the Lord, so no one can make another way to heaven.  No one was before the Lord, so there is not a previous way to heaven.   No one is equal to the Lord, so there is no other way to any other heaven.

“I am the Door. Anyone who goes in through Me will be saved from the punishment of sin. He will go in and out and find food.”  John 10:9 NLV