Posts Tagged ‘Indifference’

Matthew 13:18-23 – A JACKHAMMER AND A CONCRETE HEART! – Part 4

The Jackhammer and the Concrete Heart.

Two men have impacted my life. Both of them died of cancer. For many years one of these men allowed his CIRCUMSTANCES to harden him towards those in his family and towards God. I thought my dad was about as far away from God as he could be.

He seemed to be represented by the footpath in the parable of the sower that Jesus relates in Matthew 13:4,19. Jesus speaks of HARD soil, defensive, closed and bitter towards God.

The other man also had cancer. Before he died, Bill (not his real name) said to me, “I’m an atheist and I intend to stay that way!” INTENTIONALLY RESISTANT to considering that the message of Christ might have had any relevance. He was also like the footpath in the parable but it seems to me that he had allowed the cancer to be like a PNEUMATIC SOIL COMPACTER and His heart had set like concrete.

When my dad got CANCER and it was clear that he was going to die. I think he could have responded to God in one of 2 ways. He could have allowed the cancer to harden his heart even further towards God like Bill, the atheist. Instead, he allowed the cancer to be a like a PNEUMATIC JACKHAMMER. Yes, it shook him up but it also broke up the hard places of his heart and enabled God to get through to him. Everyone of us has that choice.

In Matthew 13:19 Jesus says, “The seed that fell on the FOOTPATH represents those who HEAR the message about the Kingdom and DON’T UNDERSTAND it. Then the evil one comes and SNATCHES AWAY the seed that was planted in their hearts.”

Jesus says His message is planted in their hearts but there’s an AUTHORITY issue here. Two KINGDOMS in conflict. What King Jesus wants to GIVE, Satan wants to STEAL. The “message about the Kingdom” speaks of the RULERSHIP of Christ. The degree that things grow in my life is determined by who has AUTHORITY over my ears and my heart.

Acts 28:27 (NLT) says “For the hearts of these people are hardened, … so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to Me and let Me heal them.'”

FOOTPATH PEOPLE! Off to the side, hanging around the edges of the crowd watching people’s lives changed but always sitting at the back, unwilling to participate, paying no real attention, uninterested, hear but don’t understand, SURFACE people. NO SPIRITUAL DEPTH. Unwilling to change or grow.

The Pharisees – HARD HEARTED religious people, remind me that I have an opportunity to process what Jesus says but if I let it LIE ON THE SURFACE of my life it will never take root. If I have no real interest it’s really no wonder that what is said by Christ is snatched away. Footpath people don’t think they need it anyway.

When my Dad discovered he had cancer something broke within him and he allowed that cancer to be a Jackhammer. Yes, it hurt! But his heart became fertile soil and he received Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

The invitation Christ gives us is examine our hearts to see if we are ready to receive what He offers. God bless you today as you allow your circumstances to keep you soft towards to the things of God, responsive to the voice of Christ.

Pastor Ross

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Part 8 – Matthew 11:25-30 – WITHOUT THE ENCUMBRANCE OF GENIUS

Without the Encumbrance of Genius

Perhaps it is the reason that I embraced Christianity so easily – THE CHRISTIAN FAITH DOESN’T DEMAND INTELLIGENCE. I’m not criticising intelligence.  I have an above average intelligence level. Well, actually, although it was above average according to the IQ test I completed at School, it was more tilted towards the average side than the above part. I have imagined having an intelligence level that would ASTOUND people, but unless that miracle happens I will remain who I am, without the ENCUMBRANCE OF GENIUS and I will always have to examine things carefully before I can understand them.

Jesus prayed an unusual prayer in Matthew 11:25-27. After the cities of Korazin and Bethsaida had ignored Him and rejected Him, He prayed

“O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank You for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the CHILDLIKE. Yes, Father, it pleased You to do it this way!”

Jesus says that only the childlike can understand spiritual things. He doesn’t say childish, just childlike. I must admit I can have a little trouble with distinguishing between the two at times, but I do recognise God as my Father and I know that I am in His family.

Some time ago I received a number of pocket sized Gideons Bibles with white covers to give out to the staff and residents of Shalom. Shalom is an Aged Care Facility and I work there as a Chaplain. These small New Testament Bibles are given out in Schools in Australia every few years by the Gideons. Someone gave some to us.

As I offered the aged residents of Shalom these Bibles it occurred to me that I needed to ask them whether they could read the SMALL PRINT. Few of them could. People in their 80’s and 90’s don’t often have very good eyesight for reading normal print books, let alone the pocket sized version I was handing out. It was an EXERCISE IN FUTILITY. They were literally BLIND TO GOD’S TRUTH. The only Bible many of them have now is me. Anyone want to donate some large print pocket Bibles that I can give away?

Jesus talks of a different kind of BLINDNESS. Blind due to my INDIFFERENCE to His miracles and message. Blind to His will and purposes in my life. Blind to a relationship with God because of my self sufficient attitudes.

2 Corinthians 3:14 (NLT) says “the people’s minds were HARDENED,” It is like a veil over their thinking “so they CANNOT UNDERSTAND the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.” Ephesians 4:18 describes it as having their “UNDERSTANDING DARKENED, being alienated from the life of God”

2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT) says that it is Satan who “has BLINDED THE MINDS of those who don’t believe. They are UNABLE TO SEE the glorious light of the Good News. They DON’T UNDERSTAND this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:14 (NLT) puts it this way “But people who aren’t spiritual CAN’T RECEIVE THESE TRUTHS from God’s Spirit. It all sounds FOOLISH to them and they CAN’T UNDERSTAND it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.”

Jesus makes it clear that the only way to understand God is through Him. He says “No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” (Matthew 11:27 NLT)

Now that’s AUTHORITY! Jesus stands as the ONLY MEDIATOR between me and God. (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus does the choosing and He has chosen to reveal the Father only to those who believe and come under His authority.

In John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus said,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO ONE can come to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME. Acts 4:12 (NLT) says “There is salvation in NO ONE ELSE! God has given NO OTHER NAME under heaven by which we must be saved.The only access I have to truth is to COME TO HIM and the key is faith not intelligence. It is CHILDLIKE FAITH, not genius. It is not being self sufficient but humble enough to be DEPENDENT upon Him. Nothing wrong with intelligence. I need a brain to think through these things but knowing God is not dependent upon intelligence. It demands coming under the authority of Jesus Christ.

I love the way 1 Corinthians 1:25-29 (NLT) puts it “This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans… Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes … when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. … and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”

God bless you Church as you exercise the foolishness today of believing in Christ and coming under His authority for your life, WITHOUT THE ENCUMBRANCE OF YOUR GENIUS. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

Pastor Ross

Part 7 – Matthew 11:20-24 – SLOW COOKED OR CHAR GRILLED?

Degrees of Hell?

Are there degrees of hell? I asked my friends recently this question and one of them said, “I believe Hell is a place where the presence of God and Jesus does not exist so it must be a horrible place. However, if there is any fairness to life and death (and I really don’t believe there is) then there should be degrees of Hell…this scripture certainly makes you wonder if there is. Whatever – I don’t intend to find out personally!”

Some things in the Bible are just plain difficult to understand. Matthew 11:20-24 is one of them for me. I know, I don’t have to understand everything in God’s Word in order to believe it because I trust in God who knows what He is doing. It won’t always make sense to me. I’m glad that He is God and I am not. But Matthew 11:15 (NLT) says, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” Lord let me hear, listen and understand Your words today.

So what is it that I don’t understand all that clearly? Let me set the scene. In Matthew 11:20 (NLT), it says, “Then Jesus began to DENOUNCE the towns where He had done so many of His miracles, because they HADN’T REPENTED OF THEIR SINS and turned to God.” They are unresponsive to Jesus, despite His many miracles.

I have no difficulty here. It makes sense. In fact what I like about this passage is the RAW TRUTH OF ITS JUSTICE MIXED WITH LOVE. Jesus isn’t the SWEET, DREAMY-EYED, EFFEMINATE MAN with a spiritual song in His voice like a “LET’S-PLEASE-EVERYONE” kind of preacher. He lays it on the line and I detect that it’s not without emotional heart wrenching sorrow at their subborn refusal to get right with God.

His LOVE COLLIDES WITH HIS JUSTICE as Jesus says “What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago…”

Now here’s what I find really difficult to understand. He says emphatically “I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be BETTER OFF on judgment day than you. … I tell you, even Sodom will be BETTER OFF ON JUDGMENT DAY THAN YOU.” (Matthew 11:22,23 NLT).

Tyre and Sidon were OPENLY WICKED and so were Sodom and Gomorrah. Ezekiel 26:7 and 28:11-24, shows that the king of Tyre was so openly wicked he was ASSOCIATED WITH SATAN HIMSELF! Korazin and Bethsaida in Jesus day on the other hand were not openly wicked. They were simply INDIFFERENT.

I’ve got to tell you, this messes with my mind. DEGREES OF JUDGMENT? DEGREES OF HELL? Sodom was a place of open homosexuality and pervertedness and destroyed in a rain of “brimstone and fire” from God (Genesis 19:24 NLT).

How can they be BETTER OFF? And if sin comes in degrees does hell come in degrees – SLOW COOK IN SHEOL, FLAME GRILLED IN GEHENNA, FAIRLY HOT, VERY HOT, MICROWAVE AND SUPERHEAT CRISPY???

When my one year old grandson takes a texta colour and draws in an expensive book, it is destructive but he DOESN’T KNOW that he shouldn’t do it. On the other hand my eldest grandson is without excuse. He knows it is wrong. He has FULL REVELATION of this rule and knows the consequences of such an action. Romans 7:7 (NLT) says “… it was the law that showed me my sin. …”

The key to Sodom, Tyre and Siddon is that despite their wickedness they WOULD HAVE REPENTED. Jesus says in Matthew 11:21 (NLT) “… For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people WOULD HAVE REPENTED OF THEIR SINS LONG AGO,… For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, IT WOULD STILL BE HERE TODAY.”  

Are Tyre and Sidon and Sodom going to be JUDGED ON A SLIDING SCALE dependent on the amount of Revelation they had? Julie spoke to some Monks in Cambodia recently and they didn’t know who Jesus was and asked all sorts of questions. Will they be judged according to their response to Jesus based on what they know? What about those who never have the opportunity? Will they be judged on a different scale? Whooh! Overload! Too much to sort out here. Leave that til another time!

Here’s the facts – Tyre and Sidon didn’t have a Bible that ended at Revelation and didn’t even know about John 3:16. It wasn’t fully revealed to them as yet. No miracles, no message. Yet THEY WOULD HAVE REPENTED. Korazin and Bethsaida had it all and THEY WERE INDIFFERENT. Is the sin of INDIFFERENCE higher than the murderous, homosexual pervertedness and wickedness of Sodom? Jesus says it is! How will you respond to Jesus? Any sin can be forgiven except for one – the sin of indifference to Christ.

Of course Tyre, Sidon and Sodom and its people will have to answer for a lot on the day of judgment, but they will NOT have to answer for being INDIFFERENT TO JESUS and His message and miracles. To reject Jesus and what He has done on the cross for us is the GREATEST SIN OF ALL!

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 (NLT) speaks about “…when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from His glorious power.” 

Are there degrees of hell? Does Sodom end up in the same hell as those who are indifferent to Jesus? Do they still suffer for eternity to the same degree? I don’t know how all that works! The Bible doesn’t get down to specifics and I’m not God. But it sure makes me say like my friend “I don’t intend to find out personally!”

Lord teach me never to be INDIFFERENT to You or Your Word. Thankyou that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

God bless you Church as you refuse to be indifferent to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Be eager to embrace all that He has to say for your life today. Allow His Holy Spirit to reveal His truth to you.

Pastor Ross