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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Frustrated by God's Goodness

“But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
Matthew 20:13-15

Have you ever gotten frustrated by God’s goodness? In the parable of the “Workers in the Vineyard” a landowner goes out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He finds some men in the marketplace and agrees to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them to his vineyard. A few hours later he went back out to the marketplace and found some more men standing around doing nothing. He offered to pay them “whatever is right” to work in his vineyard. So they went. This happened again around noon and again around three o’clock. Finally, around five o’clock, the land owner went out to the marketplace and found a few more men, who had not been hired, and he sent them as well to work in his vineyard.

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard called in the workers to pay them their wages. Beginning with those he hired last he began to distribute the pay. Those hired around five o’clock were each given one denarius. When the men who were hired first saw this, they expected that they would receive more. But each one of them also received one denarius:

“When they received it , they began to grumble against the landowner. These men who were hired last only worked one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and heat of the day.”
Matthew 20:11-12

Although they had received what was right and fair, not to mention what they agreed upon, they protested against the landowners generosity! Have you ever caught yourself grumbling and complaining when God has chosen to demonstrate His goodness towards someone you believed had not earned it? I am reminded of the story of Jonah. God asked the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach the gospel to them. Nineveh was an enemy of Israel. Instead of obeying God, Jonah ran. Later, after spending three days and three nights in the belly of a fish, Jonah relented and went to Nineveh. He did precisely what God had asked him to do and the people of Nineveh repented. So God did not bring upon them the destruction He had planned. This, however, made Jonah furious:

“He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”
Jonah 4:2
Why is it so hard for us to rejoice with those who are on “the receiving end” of God’s goodness? I believe, it is because, we have adopted an unhealthy attitude of entitlement rather than an attitude of “gratefulness.” We have become sorely selfish, in that we often do not recognize the goodness of God unless it is happening to us. Take the time to rejoice with someone today that God is showing His goodness towards and let’s learn to rejoice over God’s goodness with one another!

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Perfect Sacrifice- Accepted by God

(part 2)

“If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he is to offer a male without defect. He must present it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord.”

Leviticus 1:3

Anytime one of the children of Israel brought an offering before the Lord, they were required to bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting to be inspected by one of the priests. If the offering was acceptable, then it could be sacrificed to the Lord.

Today I want to encourage those of you reading this article who are NOT living a life that is pleasing to God. You have always felt disconnected from God and have grown to believe that He would not accept you even if you did call out to Him. Can I ask you this question based upon what we have learned from God’s Word: “When the person who sinned brought in their sacrifice, did the priest scrutinize the sinner or the sacrifice?”

In all the passages I have studied, I never read where the priest ever took a sinner off to the side and interrogated him about his level of sinfulness. No, rather he took the lamb and scrutinized “it” to make certain that “it” was acceptable. By coming to the priest with a perfect lamb, the man was declaring to everyone that he was a sinner. He needed to make atonement for his sins and brought what was required to satisfy the law’s demand.

Like the man who brought his offering to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, we too are sinners! Romans 3:23 declares:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Let me share with you what happened to me the day I called out to God. It happened at the First Baptist Church in Princeton, IN. back in December of 1991. Rev. Joe Wilson gave the invitation to those who wanted to receive Christ as the Lord and Savior of their life. I had nothing to bring to God, aside from a sinful life, but I came to the altar anyway. Little did I know, God had already provided a sacrifice for me. As I stood there, I wondered how God, after examining my heart, would ever accept me. Nevertheless, I confessed my sins to God and put my trust in Jesus Christ. At that moment, God peered down from Heaven and rather than scrutinize me, He scrutinized the Perfect Lamb of God (Jesus) and found Him to be perfect!

God found Jesus to be perfect and because “I” had identified myself with “Him“, God accepted me too. I received forgiveness and eternal life with God! I still look back in utter amazement and ponder upon just how much God loves me! God knew that there was nothing I could bring that would make me “acceptable”! In His love, God provided an acceptable sacrifice for me:

“God demonstrates His own love for us in this, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8

We all come to the altar of God as sinners, but God made a way for us through the perfect Lamb of God to be accepted…

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

You too can put your trust in Him and be accepted into God’s family! Romans 10:9 declares:

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Go to God! Confess your sins! Put your trust in Christ! Live an “accepted” life!

Pastor Scott Burr

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Acceptable Sacrifice

(part 1)

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
John 1:29

Have you ever stopped to consider just how radical a statement that John the Baptist was making when he made this declaration about Jesus? It was such a magnificent statement that it would have stopped people in their tracks. If John was correct, they were gazing upon a man who was going to do the utterly impossible.

For generations, the Israelites only had one way of dealing with sin. According to Leviticus 4:27-28:

“If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, he is guilty. When he is made aware of the sin he committed, he must bring as his offering for the sin he committed, a female goat without defect.”

Leviticus 4 goes on to tells us that the man was to lay his hands on the lamb’s head and slaughter it. The “laying on of hands” was seen as a symbolic transferring of sin to the lamb. Thus the man identified himself with it, and then sacrificed it. The priest then would take the blood of the lamb and put it on the horns of the altar and pour the rest on the base.

“In this way the priest will make atonement for him for the sin he has committed, and he will be forgiven.”
Leviticus 35b

This process would be a mammoth daily undertaking. It would take an entire priesthood to pull it off. Daily the people would make their way to the tabernacle with their lambs. The priest would examine each one thoroughly to make certain they were “acceptable” and then receive them to make atonement. For John the Baptist to point to Jesus and say “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” would have sounded too good to be true. The Israelites knew of no lamb that was capable of doing that! They were unaware that their endless sacrifices were but a shadow of things to come:

“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming- not the realities themselves. For this reason in can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who drew near to worship.”
Hebrews 10:1

That is why Christ had to come into the world. So that by one sacrifice He could make perfect forever those who are being made holy. When Christ came to Calvary, the ultimate brazen altar, it is here that the “Priest of Heaven” examined the sacrifice to make certain it was acceptable. He must be perfect, pure and holy:

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
1 Peter 1:19

Pastor Scott Burr