Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Prayer is very important in our lives. Without our consent God can’t interfere in our lives. That is why God can work for those who live in obedience to His will. That is also why we must pray for those outside of His will. That allows Him the authority to work in their lives even though they may not want it. God has to be very careful in dealing with humans. He is not allowed to control us, but He can control circumstances and nature. Therefore, He needs our permission in order for Him to work in our lives.
You find this concept when Abraham was pleading for Sodom. God answered his prayer. However, there were not ten righteous people in Sodom to save the city. Another example of this is Moses. God could have performed the miracles by Himself without the aid of Moses. But God required Moses to do the requesting and the “rod” work in order for God to work the miracles. God works through us. Never “at” us.
Therefore, pray! Pray all day long. And pray in accordance with the will of God. As such, it is important to know the will of God. Once you understand the will of God, the rest is easy. But it does take work. Everything about the Christian walk is work. The life of Jesus was a life of work and prayer. He is our example.
Luke 18:1 to Luke 19:27
Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray all the time and never give up.
“Never give up”! I am learning this also. It is so easy to just “give up”. Very few of us understand what persistence is.
He said, "In a city there was a judge who didn't fear God or respect people.
That sounds familiar in today’s world. Few, even of those who claim to be Christian, “fear God or respect people”. We need to open our eyes and become more aware of what is going on in the world around us. Too many Christians are walking around with their eyes and hearts closed to the power of God, and open to politics, news and the world.
In that city there was also a widow who kept coming to him and saying, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'
We all want justice. As this woman was constantly coming to the judge for justice, so we are to constantly go to our Judge for justice. Many inmates write me and talk to me about how they are depending on their lawyer, or the Parole Board to do this and that for them. I always share with them that depending on man will only disappoint them. But if they go to Jesus and live as He commands, then they will not be disappoint. God has a way of working it all out.
For a while the judge refused. But later he told himself, 'I don't fear God or respect people, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice. Otherwise, she will keep coming and wear me out.'"
In our lives the Judge may “refuse” to grant us our request when and how we may want it. But if we patiently wait, taking our requests to Him, making sure our request is in obedience to His will, He will grant us our request.Then the Lord added, "Listen to what the unrighteous judge says.
We need to listen more. Even to what is going on around us. God is working. Watch and learn! Know your Bible, not your church. Then you will see the working of God in truth.
Won't God grant his chosen people justice when they cry out to him day and night? Is he slow to help them?
Will He grant “His chosen people justice”? Of course. “Is He slow to help them”? As man counts slowness, possibly. That is why we need great patience and endurance in our relationship with God. Like a parent with a child, a child may ask for something, but the parent may wait to see if that is really what the child wants, or if it was just a passing whim. But if the child keeps insisting, then the parent understands that the child really wants it. Same with God.
I tell you, he will give them justice quickly. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
Quickly? Well, maybe not in our timeline, but in His. God will take care of His own. Even if we should give our lives for God, so what? Our lives here on earth are nothing compared to eternity. Go to sleep and wait to be awakened by the Father’s hand. Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth? Not much of it here on earth any more. I have a hard time seeing it. People claim to have faith in God, but it is faith in Social Security, pensions, government, Parole Boards, church, the traffic signal, light switch, the super market and a million other earthly things. Not much faith in God.
Jesus also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves, thinking they were righteous, but who looked down on everyone else:
Three things going on here:
1. People who trusted in themselves 2. People thinking they were righteous 3. People looking down on everyone else
Lots of people in the world are trusting in themselves. Lots of pride, ego and arrogance floating around. Me, Me, Me and I, I, I. “I’m going to do this.” “I’m going to get that.” People have been growing up since the 1960’s with the world telling them they can trust in themselves. It is destroying the world.
Churches are full of people thinking they are righteous. Church-going is destroying more people than anything of the world. It gives people a false sense of security as to their eternal life. The devil could not have invented a more destructive force than the church. Keep in mind, God did not invent church. Nowhere in the Bible will you find God telling us to go to church. Church was a pagan invention to destroy man.
And of course, looking down on others is the natural outcome of trusting in yourself and thinking you are righteous. If you think you are righteous, than others must not be. If you think you are the master of your own soul, then those who are down-and-out must be inferior to you. All of it goes against the will of God. God is humble. His whole nature is cooperative, not singular. He works with others, not Himself. In the beginning, those consisting of the God-title worked as a team, not as individuals, in the creation of the world. God wants us following His example. The righteousness of God doesn’t look down on others, it lifts them up.
"Two men went up to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector.
Both went to “God” to pray. The Temple is a representation of going to God. So, whether in your “closet”, by your bed, in the woods or at church, et cetera, how do you go to God?
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed, 'O God, I thank you that I'm not like other people—thieves, dishonest people, adulterers, or even this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I give a tenth of my entire income.'
“I thank you that I’m not like . . .”. We are to thank God, but not like that. We don’t thank God we are not like others. We are to thank God for all that He has provided for us. Then, we are to thank God for the opportunities to share what He has provided us to the “thieves, dishonest people, adulterers, or even this tax collector”. We do not boast about fasting or tithing or going to church or what we wear, we thank God and serve Him by what we can do for others.
"But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even look up to heaven. Instead, he continued to beat his chest and said, 'O God, be merciful to me, the sinner that I am!'
Attitude! Attitude is all that counts. A humble attitude, recognizing that God is God and we are His servants. We are to acknowledge that God is righteous and we are sinners. Nothing good lives in us. The only good we have is that which originated and comes from God. Nothing to be proud of. Everything we have is “borrowed” from God.
I tell you, this man, rather than the other one, went down to his home justified, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the person who humbles himself will be exalted."
Notice, he “went down to his home justified”, not sanctified. Justification is just the first step in the eight step process of perfection. Nothing to be exalted over. There is a long journey ahead of justification. Also, the exaltation God gives us is not a worldly exaltation. For example, God has exalted me to director of this ministry. But it is a very humbling position. I work! It is painful, hard and humbling. But I thank God for giving me such an exalted position.
Now some people were even bringing their infants to Jesus to have him touch them. But when the disciples saw this, they sternly told the people not to do that.
To be honest, I struggle with this. You see, I was raised with the notion that if you didn’t go to church on the Sabbath, you were no good and God didn’t love you. But in this parable, people bringing others to Jesus are not to be repulsed. This is a stepping process. Some people may start the process going to a Catholic Church; then, they may be led to a Baptist church; then, they may be led to the truth that all they need to do is obey as Jesus commands: stop sinning, be perfect and keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life. That’s it!
Jesus, however, called for the children and said, "Let the little children come to me, and stop keeping them away, because the kingdom of God belongs to people like these.
Therefore, let us not look down on people in their process of perfection. Let us encourage them in their coming to Jesus. Those “little children” who are coming to Jesus, no matter what the stage they are in, belong to the kingdom of God.
I tell you with certainty, whoever doesn't receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never get into it at all."
This just knocked out most churches. Most are unwilling to receive the kingdom of God as little children. This is not the same as being childish. Little children are very accepting. They believe what they are told. They are willing to be obedient. They forgive so readily. These are the ones who will be in the kingdom of God.
Then an official asked Jesus, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
More of us need to be asking that question. However, most have believed their churches. They do what their churches say and require. But few go to Jesus to ask that question.
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked him. "Nobody is good except for God.
Jesus, as a man born into this world was not inherently “good”. He had to earn His goodness.
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” Hebrews 5:7-9.
The goodness Jesus had came from His obedience to that which was “good”: the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are just and good. Only those who live in obedience to them are just and good. All good comes from God. Also, did you catch the last of that, “He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” Nothing there about going to church for eternal life.
You know the commandments: 'Never commit adultery. Never murder. Never steal. Never give false testimony. Honor your father and mother.'"
Jesus didn’t have to give all of the Ten Commandments. He was talking to a man who had memorized them from childhood. The problem was, they were in his head but not his heart. This silence is also notable. Jesus did not include church rituals, feast days, holy days, foods and sacrifices. Only the keeping of the Ten Commandments is required for eternal life. Always has been.
The official replied, "I have kept all of these since I was a young man."
Like most Christians today, he thought he had been keeping them. He kept them according to the standard of his church. But according to God, he was a failure and not ready for heaven.
When Jesus heard this, he told him, "You still need to do one thing.
“One thing”?! At first glance, we might say he got off easy. If only there was just “one thing” for each of us. However . . .
Sell everything you have and give the money to the destitute, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow me."
“Sell everything”! That may have been “one thing”, but in that one thing was the accumulation of a lifetime of “things”. Now he was asked to give up everything he had accumulated. Why? Because, greed, selfishness and coveting had marked his life. To get his eternal life he would have to change his life.
But when the official heard this he became sad, because he was very rich.
In other words, he was not fit for heaven because of his selfish character, he had lied to God. He had not been keeping the Ten Commandments. He had been breaking the tenth commandment: Thou shalt not covet.
Coveting was the root and foundation of his life. To get to heaven he had to destroy that sin. He was unwilling. How sad. Which command of the Ten Commandments are you unwilling to obey for Jesus?
So when Jesus saw how sad he was, he said, "How hard it is for rich people to get into the kingdom of God!
Compared to Jesus, we are all “rich”. We have so much. The reason many think they are poor is, they are comparing themselves to their idols. But when we compare ourselves to Jesus, we are all so rich. I have nothing. I own nothing. I am nothing. Yet, I count myself to be rich. Why? Because Jesus loves me and gave His life for me. He has touched hearts to supply what this ministry needs. Through this ministry I have everything I need to survive and do the work. Rich people do not “feel” the need of Jesus. Their Christianity may be theoretical, but theory won’t get you into Heaven. The kingdom of God requires total commitment to the Ten Commandments, not a church.
Indeed, it is easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into the kingdom of God."
In reality, no matter how you want to parse this, it is impossible to get into Heaven. Impossible! Only by recognizing how sinful we are, and accepting the life-blood of Jesus, will we be able to get into Heaven. We have all sinned. The wages of sin is death. Only by accepting the life of Jesus and His sacrifice into our own lives will we be able to “get into the kingdom of God”. That means weeping for every sin we have committed. That means STOP sinning. That means recognizing that only through the forgiveness of our past sins by Jesus will we be able to get into Heaven. That comes with hard work to overcome those sins so God can forgive them.
Those who were listening to Jesus asked, "Then who can be saved?"
No one! Not one person can “be saved”. Salvation is a work, not a state of being. Even when we are in Heaven, it will still be a work to stay “saved” in Heaven. If anyone should decide to sin in Heaven, he would be immediately blotted out of existence. We have to work out our salvation now and for eternity. We must never let sin back into our lives once we have committed our lives to Jesus. Hebrews 10:26. However, not many believe the Bible. They just go to church and think they are entitled to Heaven.
Jesus replied, "The things that are impossible for people are possible for God."
That is the only way to enter Heaven. It is impossible for man. But when man “wills” to be like Jesus; “wills” to surrender his life; “wills” to live in obedience to the Ten Commandments, then that person desires the power of God in his life. Now it is “possible for God” to give that person power to overcome sin.
However, the Bible does give us an example of a rich man getting into Heaven. Read the story of Zacchaeus. He was a rich sinner who accepted Jesus as His savior and demonstrated that acceptance by giving half his wealth to the poor and repaying 4x those He robbed.
Then Peter said, "See, we have left everything we have and followed you."
Jesus told them, "I tell you with certainty, there is no one who has left his home, wife, brothers, parents, or children because of the kingdom of God who will not receive many times as much in this world, as well as eternal life in the age to come."
I can attest to the truth of that statement. When we withdraw our feelings, emotions, wants and desires from this world and put them squarely on Jesus, we receive “many times as much in this world”. Are you willing to trust God?
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, "Pay attention! We're going up to Jerusalem. Everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.
“Pay attention”! Not many are paying attention to the words of Jesus. It is all about church, pastor, teacher and denomination. But Jesus? Not at all! We want something more exciting!
Have you gone through the Old Testament to ground your faith in Jesus by learning “everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man”? We need to do that more often. If the disciples had allowed themselves to be properly grounded in the Old Testament, they would not have had to go through the disappointment they went through. If the church had properly taught the Old Testament, the nation of Israel would have accepted Jesus. Our churches are not teaching the Old Testament today. It is all about the New Testament. But the few who are, it is all about church.
He will be handed over to the gentiles and will be mocked, insulted, and spit on.
To the disciples this must have been impossible to understand and accept. They were expecting their Messiah to ride in at the head of armies to take the throne of David and wipe out their enemies. Mocked, insulted and spit on was not in their thinking.
After they have whipped him, they will kill him, but on the third day he will rise again.
We are told “After you take the breast . . ., wave it before the Lord as a wave offering.” Exodus 29.26. To “wave” something, your whole body must get involved. You sway back and forth. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, His body, His breast, heaved and waved with emotion for the sins of the world. He was giving His body, His breast, to be beat and whipped and spit upon.
Then, “Any meat of the sacrifice left over till the third day must be burned up.” Leviticus 7:17. If Jesus, our sacrifice, had been “left over” on the third day, salvation would have been “burned up” and we would all have been lost. But on the third day, thirty-six hours after his death, Jesus rose from the tomb. The sacrifice was complete. Nothing was left over. Jesus accomplished the mission.
But they didn't understand any of this. What he said was hidden from them, and they didn't know what he meant.
There are lots of prophecies still to be understood. Many prophecies that have been “finished” were only finished for those at that time. But most prophecies have multiple purposes before they are completely finished. Those referring to the “Last Days” will be fulfilled again in a more compacted time period. This information will, of course, be “hidden from them” and will not understand. They are too busy going to church instead of studying with the Spirit of God.
As Jesus was approaching Jericho, there was a blind man sitting by the road begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus from Nazareth was coming by.
It appears that only the “blind man” could “see”. While the crowd was pressing in about Jesus and “going by”, only the blind man was able to see the truth about Jesus. The crowd only saw “Jesus from Nazareth”. Those in the crowd did not feel their need to have “mercy on me”. But the blind man felt his need. He saw Jesus as the “Son of David”, the Messiah who was to come to bring healing, peace and joy to the heart.
So he shouted, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Do you feel your need of mercy? Are you crowding around the name of Jesus, going to church without feeling your need of the cleansing power of Jesus in your life? Is there sin in your life that is blinding you.
The people at the front of the crowd sternly told him to be quiet, but he started shouting even louder, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Don’t let the church crowd keep you from looking to Jesus for healing. Don’t let their stern looks or happy entertainment keep you from finding Jesus. You may have to shout louder. Jesus is testing you to see if you truly want what He has to offer.
Then Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"
That just amazes me. “What do you want Me to do for you?” The creator of the universe stooping to ask what He can do for the man. If we come before the Lord, not with shouting, church praise, or chanting His name, but with humility and a sincere understanding of our need for mercy, Jesus will ask the same of you. “What do you want Me to do for you?” Make sure you have the right answer when He askes.
He said, "Lord, I want to see again!"
He could have asked for wealth. He could have asked for a home with servants to wait on him. He could have asked for a fancy “ride”. Lots of “things” he could have asked for. How about you? What are you asking of the Lord? Is it to “see” the truth?
So Jesus told him, "See again! Your faith has made you well."
There could have been many blind people in the crowd. But none were healed. Jesus didn’t give a blanket healing with the wave of his arm for all to see. Why? Jesus can’t heal or save one person who doesn’t have the faith needed for healing or saving. We save and heal ourselves by our faith. The obedience that comes from faith. (Romans 1:5). Jesus can’t do it for us. It has to come from within. You have to want salvation more than anything this world has to offer. Only you can “save” yourself eternally. Jesus has opened the door, something you can’t do, but unless you walk on the narrow way through that door there will come a time with the door will be shut and no more salvation will be offered.
Immediately the man could see again and began to follow Jesus, glorifying God. All the people saw this and gave praise to God.
Has God opened your eyes? Those whose eyes have been opened begin to follow Jesus, not a church. They glorify God, not a church. People will see this and give praise to God, not a church, denomination or pastor. Totally unlike those who claim to be “saved” in today’s world.
As Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it, a man named Zacchaeus appeared. He was a leading tax collector, and a rich one at that!
Jesus had earlier stated that it was hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. The disciples were alarmed and wondered who than could be saved? Now we are going to see how a rich man can enter Heaven.
He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he couldn't do so due to the crowd, since he was a short man. There are many in the world today who are trying to “see who Jesus” is. Many have limitations that keep them from seeing Jesus. For many, it is their church and the family or the crowd keeping them from seeing Jesus. They could stand around complaining about their problems, or they could . . .
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way.
. . . solve the problem by finding a solution. There are no excuses why we can’t “see who Jesus” is. If the church is in your way, get out. If the crowd is in your way, move. God has provided ample provision for each and every person on the face of the earth to “see Jesus” if they want to. Not one sincere person will be left to die for lack of opportunity to “see who Jesus” is.
When Jesus came to the tree, he looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down! I must stay at your house today."
Jesus Christ wants to “stay at your house today”. But to do that, we may have to come down from our lofty plans, pride, arrogance and self-sufficiency. And by the way, when Jesus calls, don’t delay, “hurry and come down” before it is too late. Leave it all behind and follow Jesus only.
Zacchaeus came down quickly and was glad to welcome him into his home.
Few come “down quickly” and are “glad to welcome Him into” their homes. Most are not willing to give up their church, their worldly ideas, opinions and riches. Jesus is not welcome. The church is, but not Jesus.
But all the people who saw this began to complain: "Jesus is going to be the guest of a notorious sinner!"
Yes, all the “good” church people will complain. They don’t believe Jesus should go to the homes of “sinners”. No, He should only go to their church and into their homes. Oh yes, our little sins are not a problem, but why would Jesus go to be the “guest of a notorious sinner”? We do the same. We watch the news, read the papers or view the internet for those “notorious” sinners and then pat ourselves on the back thinking we are “Christian” because we take our little sins to church with us.
Later, Zacchaeus stood up and announced to the Lord, "Lord, I'll give half of my possessions to the poor. I'll pay four times as much as I owe if I have cheated anyone in any way."
Those with the little sins don’t recognize how sinful they are, and therefore they lose out on eternal life. They refuse to get rid of the little sins. In the Bible, those who were “notorious” sinners were the ones God could use. They recognized their sins, confessed, repented and turned away from them. They were the ones who had eternal life and Jesus could use the most.
Then Jesus told him, "Today salvation has come to this home, because this man is also a descendant of Abraham, and the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost."
Yes He has. I praise God for the salvation He offered me. I thank God for not forsaking me. I thank God for seeing in me, a notorious sinner, the person He could use for His work.
As they were listening to this, Jesus went on to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and because the people thought that the kingdom of God would appear immediately.
Are you hearing people talking about “Jesus is coming soon”? That would be the same as the people back then thinking “the kingdom of God would appear immediately”. It all depends on your understanding of the word “soon”. In relation to six thousand years of earth’s history, yes. But in our lifetime? Probably not. Well, depending on how old you are. Maybe if you are in your teens. Why? Because there are events that have to play out first. Jesus can’t just snap His finger and come because you are getting old and think you need to go to Heaven. Selfish people think Jesus is coming soon for them. True Christians are not telling people “Jesus is coming soon”, but how to get ready by living the perfect, sinless and Commandment keeping life.
So he said, "A prince went to a distant country to be appointed king and then to return.
You see, there is work that has to be done before He can come.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten coins. He told them, 'Invest this money until I come back.'
If you are a servant of Jesus you are not to be yelling, “Jesus is coming soon”. You are to take what Jesus has given you, His teachings: to stop sinning, be perfect and keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life. You are to “invest this” information, His teachings, into people “until I come back”.
But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation to follow him and to announce, 'We don't want this man to rule over us!'
The same today. Churches hate Jesus. They don’t want to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments for eternal life. No! They don’t want “this man to rule over us”.
"After he was appointed king, the prince came back. He ordered the servants to whom he had given the money to be called so he could find out what they had earned by investing.
Oh yes, He is coming back. He will call you first, His servant, to give an account of the truths He has given you. What did you do with it?
The first servant came and said, 'Sir, your coin has earned ten more coins.'
Has the truth Jesus given you brought ten people to Jesus?
The king told him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.'
Then you have responsibility to give the truth to more.
"The second servant came and said, 'Your coin, sir, has earned five coins.'
Has your truth earned five more people for God’s kingdom?
The king told him, 'You take charge of five cities.'
Since you know how to teach my truth, go teach more.
"Then the other servant came and said, 'Sir, look! Here's your coin. I've kept it in a cloth for safekeeping because I was afraid of you. You are a hard man. You withdraw what you didn't deposit and harvest what you didn't plant.'
Most of those who claim to be the servants of Jesus have hidden his truth. They are busy with the world and afraid to share it with others. It is kept for “safekeeping” thinking God will be pleased with them. They will just go around telling people Jesus is coming back soon.
The king told him, 'I will judge you by your own words, you evil servant! You knew, did you, that I was a hard man, and that I withdraw what I didn't deposit and harvest what I didn't plant? Then why didn't you put my money in the bank? When I returned, I could have collected it with interest.'
The truth will be taken away from those evil servants.
"So the king told those standing nearby, 'Take the coin away from him and give it to the man who has the ten coins.'
It is only by working for the salvation of others that we ourselves are saved. We grow by sharing. The more you share, the more you have.
They answered him, 'Sir, he already has ten coins!'
Jealous people are always looking at what others have instead of working with what they have.
'I tell you, to everyone who has something, more will be given, but from the person who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.
Many who claim to be Christian have nothing. All they have is church, lies and the world. Even all of that will be taken away from them. Why? Because they didn’t have what God offered them.
But as for these enemies of mine who didn't want me to be their king—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence!'"
After the King deals with those who claimed to be His servants, then He will deal with the wicked. “The history of Israel was to be placed on record for the instruction and warning of coming generations. Men of all future time must see the God of heaven as an impartial ruler, in no case justifying sin. But few realize the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Men flatter themselves that God is too good to punish the transgressor. But in the light of Bible history it is evident that God's goodness and His love engage Him to deal with sin as an evil fatal to the peace and happiness of the universe.” PP 420.