Although we’ve already done the book of Psalms, I thought a little boost from Psalm 119 would be an encouragement to us all: Psalms 119:11, 12 “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD; Teach me Your statutes.” As we do our daily Bible reading, we’re not merely indulging in a little hobby reading, are we? Truth is for more than knowing; it is for doing! Let’s read a little more today and then apply it.
Leaven of hypocrisy — Luke 12:1
Leaven subtly and quietly influences the whole loaf. It was generally (though not always, as we’ll see in just a moment) considered a symbol of corruption, because if you let it go long enough, the bread gets really gross and inedible. Hypocrisy (not to be confused with inconsistency) is a leaven, in that it is easily seen in its practitioners — and sometimes emulated! Little by little, a whole congregation can say one thing and live another. The Pharisaic form of it had corrupted their whole movement with the hypocrisy that their traditions demanded — nullifying the word of God to keep the man-made laws. In other cases, injustices were carried out (taking widows’ houses) followed by grand gestures of religion (loud prayer, obvious fasting, and public alms giving). The means of spreading the leaven is when younger disciples see the deeds or attitudes of the “more mature” examples of real religion and follow. Older Christians, can I speak to you a word of encouragement; you may not want anyone to follow what you do, but that is out of your hands. Our examples, our consistency, our integrity needs to grow stronger and better as we get older. Others — your children, your grandchildren, and younger members of the church — are watching you to see how Christianity is done. What are they seeing in you?
Life does not consist of possessions — Luke 12:15-21
There’s just a whole lot of folks who appear not to believe this; are you one? The parable that follows this very powerful teaching has some strong words for us consider. The man who built larger barns to keep all the harvest that he would never eat is called “fool”. The term “fool” in the the Bible, of course, doesn’t exactly mean someone lacking in IQ; rather it is said of the sinful who choose to live their own ways in contradiction to what God has said. Such a person who would call God wrong or call Him a liar or say that He just doesn’t know what He’s talking about is clearly lacking good sense, and in this sense is a fool. Yet, despite the many times that we hear Jesus say it, despite the fact that we know “you can’t take it with you”, we still fight and scrap to accumulate as many things as we can — especially in our materialistic society. And for what? You’re a great accumulator, great! So is the Dead Sea.
Water comes from the Sea of Galilee down (and I do mean down) the Jordan River to the Dead Sea, the lowest dry land on the planet. Because it is so low (1388 feet below sea level), the water can go nowhere; so for the last several thousand years it has been simply accumulating (taking) and never giving. But it is truly dead; nothing and I mean nothing can live in it — no fish, no algae, no bacteria, no virus, no nothing. What a great metaphor of the person who takes and takes and hoards and keeps and never gives. No wonder it’s more blessed to give than to receive.
What does your life consist of?
A window of grace — Luke 13:6-9
Bearing fruit is a constantly repeated metaphor for Christian living. The kind of fruit is listed for us in Galatians 5:22, 23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” This parable of Jesus speaks of how God is patient with us as Christians, but how He expects even the newest Christian to bear good fruit. His patience ran out in Noah’s generation; His patience ran out with Sodom and Gomorrah; and His patience ran out with Israel. What good fruit do you bear?
Another kind of leaven — Luke 13:20,21
This leaven still bears the characteristics of subtle and quiet spreading of something, but this leaven is the Kingdom of God. Yes, evil can and often does spread insidiously, but goodness can too. What’s is your example, your attitudes, your words, your kindnesses, your counsel to others doing to spread the Kingdom?
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.