Supreme Good Samaritan

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road…So, too, a Levite…But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was. Luke 10:25-37

The parable of the Good Samaritan always give my chills. Why, you ask? I’m too much like the priest and Levite. Let me explain. Jesus told this story to reveal our own hypocrisies. We say we’re more like the Samaritan but for the most part are like the other two. Our stated enemies of the United States are Iran and North Korea. I cannot picture myself stooping down to help someone like President Ahmadinajad if he were hurting alongside the road. My first reaction would be to take him out! And then to pay for further care in case I don’t return? No way.

But isn’t that the point of this entire passage? Have we become so politically insensitive and myopic that we are not able to see truth when it hits us in the face? Someone like that doesn’t deserve our help. Exactly.

We, too, were sworn enemies of God. Then God reached down to us by sending Jesus. He could have ignored us or zapped us from Planet Earth. But he didn’t. In fact, he took it several steps further by taking care of us when we hurt.

He’s the Supreme Good Samaritan.

Hostess to the Mostest

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat a the Lord’s feet listening to what he said….Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her. Luke 10:38-42

Much has been said about this passage of Scripture. Martha was busy; Mary sat quietly at Jesus’ feet. What’s often missing is the reality that it was Martha who had invited Jesus into the house in the first place, and she gets a bad rap for being a busybody!

It has got to be intimidating inviting the Son of God into your home for tea. It’s no wonder that she went to and fro cleaning and serving and playing hostess. Wouldn’t you? No one has ever condemned her for being a poor hostess, only that she forgot to pay attention to the most important person in the world. Her sister was seated at His feet while Martha rushed around.

Still, I give Martha a lot of credit for inviting a perfect stranger into her home.

Casting that First Stone

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” John 8:3-5

We know the story because the line that Jesus says “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to cast the stone is perhaps one of the most overused and misquoted lines in the world, Christian or secular. Before we get all self-righteous about the teachers of the law who brought the woman to Jesus (after all, we know how it ends; they didn’t), we need to ask ourselves if we do the same thing today.

How so, you ask? Perhaps not to the extreme as these individuals, but we tend to skew things our way. What about the half truths we tell? They told Jesus a half truth about this woman. What about our quickness to judge a person’s intelligence or skill based on a person’s skin color or how they dress? You say it doesn’t happen. Wrong, it does. And probably more than we like to admit.

Twenty years ago in Bible school I so judged an individual. He didn’t dress up to our dress code at school (business casual) because he wore tennis shoes. He looked Hispanic and I looked down on him every time I saw him. Months later I found out that my brother in Christ happened to be from South Africa, part-time pastored a church in a rough area of town while going to school full time, and since the U.S. laws prohibited him from working full time, he and his family did what they could to scrape by. And yes, that meant foregoing new dress shoes. (would it have been so terrible if he was Hispanic and a poor  man just trying to get a Bible education? Not at all!)

You see, I cast that first few stones and they all came back to hit me right smack in the head.

Wisdom is Supreme

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Proverbs 4:7

Have you ever been around a person who was really wise? Sure, you’ve seen intellectual giants and geniuses, but I’m not talking about intelligence. I’m talking about wisdom. What’s the difference, you ask?

When I was a boy, there was a cartoon named Klondike Kat. He was always after a pesky mouse named Savoir-Faire. Savoir-Faire’s tagline was always, “Savoir-Faire is everywhere.” (It was always said with a French accent). Savoir-faire is knowing what to do in any situation. That’s a pretty good definition of wisdom. You can have all the brain power in the world but if you don’t have wisdom in how to use it, it’s meaningless.

So, how do we get wisdom?

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

Guess what I’m adding to my daily prayers!

We Win

One day the angels came to present themselves before he Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, Where have you come from?…Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger. Job 1:6-7, 12

I’m not sure whether it’s troubling or delightful to know that there are wars being waged on our behalf in heaven. We obviously don’t know the extent of these wars, the number of participants, or the stakes being “wagered.” God’s betting on us.

I know, it’s a radical idea, but look at Job. The text doesn’t say that anything was wagered, but God just wanted to show off His children. He let Satan do what he needed in order to prove a point. The battle you’re going through right now may be a direct result of Satan. God is pulling for you. He wants you to remain faithful. He want you to stick to your beliefs, even if it means you lose everything.

Every now and again we get a glimpse into heaven. We may not like what we see because it doesn’t fit our idea of what heaven’s really like. But war is being waged, and Satan will ultimately be defeated.

We win.

Victory

…and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:11

The whole point of knowing Christ, knowing the power of his resurrection, and sharing in his sufferings is victory. It seems simple, I know. But it means victory in the temporary life we live here on earth, and victory in that which is unseen, the eternal.

Have you ever watched a game where the winning team squeaked by with a win? Maybe they went ahead in the last minute after they were behind the entire match? You probably had a sick feeling in your stomach over the win. The announcers might say, “it wasn’t a pretty win, but it still goes in the win column.”

Now have you ever seen a team that outmatched, outplayed and utterly whipped their opponents? Their opponents were annihilated, demolished, crushed. You would have probably felt sorry for the opposing team if you hadn’t been rooting for the victors.

That’s the kind of victory that the death and resurrection of Jesus brings, both in the temporary and in the eternal. Utter triumph over sin. Total victory over death and hell.

Becoming Like Him

…becoming like him in his death,” Philippians 3:10

I realize it’s neither a pleasant nor an upbeat subject, but have you ever thought of what it would be like to be martyred for what you believe in? Have you ever heard the stories or seen the footage of Believers around the world who have had to suffer unbelievable injustices at the hands of their enemies and in the end say, “the Lord is Good. Blessed be the Lord.”

I’ve seen and heard it too and have wondered what it would be like. Would I be able to handle it? What would I say under pressure? And yes, would I deny Him with a gun to my head?

Think for a moment about our Lord’s last moments on the cross. He could have called legions of angels to rescue him in an instant. He could have denounced His heavenly Father. He could have dashed it all and went back to heaven with the bruises and scars he already endured.

But he didn’t.

That act of obedience is a reminder to us that we may be asked to lay down our lives for Him. He will give us the strength on that  day.

Interesting Challenge

…and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering,” Philippians 3:10

I’ve heard stories recently of Chinese believers who go to prison in order to share their faith with the inmates there. I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty sure there is a lot of suffering and misery in many of the world’s prisons. And yet, there are those who would deny themselves to the point of pain and suffering in order to witness for Jesus.

That is completely foreign to my Western mindset. And obviously it’s totally foreign to our Western feel-good, no pain society.

My point is not to deride the West for its comfortable way of life. I want to do better. We “pride” ourselves at being the best in the world in most everything. Suffering, though, is a tough one. Is it possible that we could be the best at that too?

What would it take to be the best at suffering? Perhaps we just need someone to tell us we can’t do it. In books I’ve read, many of our Chinese brethren have already said that.

The ball is in our court

Power of the Resurrection

...And the power of his resurrection… Philippians 3:10

Resurrection power. The power that raised Jesus from the dead. The power to heal and mend and protect and loose from bondage. The Apostle Paul sought to know this power, to know the “power” behind the power.

In a real sense, the power of the resurrection is that 2000 years removed from the actual event, people are still coming to know the One who was Resurrected! Lives are still being changed. Marriages are being restored. Addictions are being broken. Proud men are being humbled. Truly evil men are changing their lives completely. The world is changed each and every time someone believes in Jesus.

Yeah, it’s that resurrection power.