Saturday, September 5, 2009

Planted by God

Exodus 20:17

I. Adapt to Providence

A. The Tenth Commandment instructs Christians to be satisfied with the situation God has given them. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” (Exodus 20:17)

B. Ahab’s coveting the field of Naboth the Jezreelite prompted Ahab’s wife Jezebel to commit judicial murder and that in turn led to the overthrow of Ahab’s dynasty; the story appears in 1 Kings 21:1-19. “And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.” (1 Kings 21:1-4)

C. Rebellion against Providence shuts doors in the world and in eternity. “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:3-6)

II. God Planted You

A. God purposely plants His people; the end result is always eternal prosperity. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3)

B. Whatever a believer’s situation may seem to be, ultimately everything works together for his good. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

C. The world is a violent and terrifying place, but it has limits; nothing is so strong as the love of Christ. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

D. The story of Joseph, from being sold into slavery to delivering God’s people from famine, illustrates the larger providence of God; no human event makes sense until the heavenly plan unfolds. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)

III. Christians Grow Content

A. Transplanting stresses trees, but that is what makes them prosper. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:11)

B. The apostle Paul illustrated the process of coming to terms with Providence and the way in which it matures into contentment. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)

C. Trials themselves are the perfecting instruments in life. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” (1 Peter 1:7-8)

D. The riches which count with God flow through contentment with His providence. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

E. God keeps those who will go to heaven from being weighed down by the world. “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:5)

Religious Operatives

Psalm 110:1-7; Mark 12:35-44 / 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

I. God Can Look Out for Himself

A. The detractors had done their best and now Jesus turned the contest back on them; Scripture is loaded with mystery for unbelievers. “And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?” (Mark 12:35) “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

B. Jesus took the debate right back to the words of Scripture; God knows His Word better than His enemies can ever know it. “For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Mark 12:36)

1. When the people of God refuse to listen to Scripture, God hands them over to their enemies; the destruction of Jerusalem loomed in the distance. “Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands.” (Nehemiah 9:30)

2. God always triumphs in the end and it is He, not we, Who will triumph. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25)

C. When the topic turns to the emperor’s new clothes, most reasonable people can understand the direction the conversation is taking. “David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly. (Mark 12:37) “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:5)

II. Be Skeptical of Religious Operatives

A. False teachers are ambitious—Christ directed people to be skeptical of people who delight in showy things that resemble the trophies of unredeemed people. “And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,” (Mark 12:38) “When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14:8-11)

B. False teachers are proud—People who value power and position do not understand the fundamental mindset of Christ. “And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:” (Mark 12:39) “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?” (James 2:5-7)

C. False teachers are greedy—Something ungodly motivates people who deny in practice what Scripture plainly teaches; bad behavior negates assertions of solid doctrine. Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.” (Mark 12:40) “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)

III. A Poor Widow’s Faith Went Further

A. The dispute was taking place at the Temple; this is the last place on earth where someone could plead ignorance of God’s demands—rich people were making the treasury trumpets sing. “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.” (Mark 12:41)

B. The woman who caught Jesus’ attention was acting from abject poverty rather than abundance, and it certainly wasn’t for show; the coin receptacles gave away what she was giving by the sound they made. “And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.” (Mark 12:42)

C. In God’s evaluation, the widow gave more than anyone else donating at that time. “And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:” (Mark 12:43)

D. The gift expressed a sincere and total reliance on God. “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. (Mark 12:44)

E. The religious operatives missed what the poor widow understood; salvation is by grace alone. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:5-8)

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