Posted

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5

These words of Jesus do not forbid us to judge another’s public doctrine for Jesus says, just a few verses later in His Sermon on the Mount, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits…” (15-16a).

They do not forbid us to judge between right and wrong and to admonish our brother when he sins for Jesus also tells us, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone…” (Matt. 18:15ff.).

So, what does Jesus mean when He says, “Judge not…”? A reading of the verses which follow provides the answer. Jesus is warning against our propensity to pick out and condemn the faults in others, no matter how small, and to overlook our own sins and shortcomings, even when they are large.

Thus, He says, “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

It is hypocritical of us to condemn the faults of others while, at the same time, overlooking or excusing our own.
And Jesus warns, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

It often happens in life that we end up being treated in the same way that we have treated others. Thus, if we have been overly critical and judgmental, we are likely to learn what it is like at the hand of others.

But, of far more serious consequence, is God’s judgment. If we condemn the sins of others and are unwilling to forgive them, our Father in heaven will condemn us for our own sins and not forgive us either! Jesus says, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).

Rather than being overly critical and judgmental of others, we should first look at ourselves in the light of God’s Word; for when we compare our thoughts and desires, as well as our words and deeds, to God’s commandments, we all come far short of God’s holy expectations.

The Scriptures say, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20; cf. Rom. 3:23).

Rather than look at the sins and shortcomings of others, we ought to agree with God that we are sinners and acknowledge and confess our sins before God, trusting that He will forgive us and cleanse us for the sake of the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, in our stead (cf. 1 John 1:7 – 2:2).

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures … he was buried, and … he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3,4).

Rather than being judgmental and unforgiving toward our fellow sinners, God’s Word tells us to “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you ” (Eph. 4:32).

O dearest Jesus, forgive me for being quick to judge and condemn others when I myself am a sinner and full of faults deserving of Your just punishments. For the sake of Your holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for the sins of the world, forgive me and cleanse my heart and soul. And, move me to love others and seek to bring them to You that they too may know Your love and forgiveness and walk with You unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

Author
Categories

Posted

By now, most of those New Year’s resolutions have been broken and forgotten, and we tend to go about our lives without focus. It’s for this reason that I suggest having a mission statement rather than just a New Year’s resolution or two.

I’ve written and spoken about this before but since I often forget to stay focused, I will talk about personal mission statements once again. Most organizations and businesses have one. Why not individuals?

What do I mean? It’s important for staying focused in life to have a personal mission statement that defines an individual’s basic purpose in life — especially in this information age where everyone and everything is trying to get our attention, time, and usually our dollars. In other words, it can prove extremely beneficial to sit down and define one’s mission and purpose in life, set goals and objectives relating to that mission and then evaluate our lives and all we do in relation to that mission and to those goals and objectives.

Adopting a personal mission statement can keep one focused on what is truly important in life and turn away attention from other, often less important, matters. Life is short and, without staying focused, a person may one day have to say he did a lot of things, none of which have any lasting significance. I’d sure hate to come to the end of my life with extensive knowledge of every television episode, movie or pop song and no knowledge of what life is really about.

My personal mission statement is adopted straight out of the pages of the Bible, Jesus’ own words: “Going, then, disciple all the people of this world, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things that I commanded have you …” (my own translation of Matthew 28:19-20). Certainly, there are other good mission statements. The Bible is full of passages that would work well. How about Deuteronomy 6:4-5?

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Or, the last clause in Joshua 24:15?

As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Others may choose to write their own statements.

My mission statement starts at home, with my own family, and then branches out into the world to those I know and to those I have never met and maybe never will in this life. It can be used to evaluate everything I do and will certainly affect the goals and objectives I set for my life.

For example, if I seek to disciple the nations (the people and tribes of this world) for Jesus Christ by going, baptizing and teaching, I first need to be a disciple of Jesus myself and that involves studying the Scriptures, praying, and sharing what I have been taught from the Bible. That also means my objectives will include making time for study and prayer and also for going out and sharing.

In line with that, one of my goals as a student of the Bible is to continue working on reading and studying the Scriptures in their original languages, which requires some dedication and persistence on my part in doing more and more studying in Greek and Hebrew again.

My mission statement will affect how I use and spend my income, what I do with my time and how I relate to others around me. That doesn’t mean I must take a vow of poverty or become a monk in a remote monastery and do nothing but pray and read from ancient parchments, but it means the focus of my use of time and money is going to be toward accomplishing my mission and purpose here in this world.

Yes, it can even affect such things as diet and exercise. No, I won’t become a bodybuilder or health freak who denies the truth of Genesis 3. But without a healthy diet and adequate exercise, I’ll have a hard time carrying out my mission, so diet and exercise are important. Perhaps, if I consider them in light of my mission statement, meeting those goals and objectives will become easier.

It is connected to my relationship with my wife and our children because discipleship starts at home and with those closest to us. My wife and I have more than a few children for whom we have much love and concern — 15 children between us, 30-something grandchildren (I always lose track and then have to do a recount) — and that is quite a mission field in itself.

We want the best for them all, but our foremost wish and desire is that they all know their Maker and Redeemer and live in fellowship with Him, both here in this world and in eternity. We live to impart to each of them a knowledge of the LORD God and of the salvation He has provided for them (and for all) through the innocent sufferings, death and resurrection of the Son, Jesus Christ.

That desire extends, of course, to our church and all its members, to those with whom we have contact in our jobs, and to all the nations and peoples of this world.

My prayer is that of the psalmist: “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come” (Psalm 71:17-18 KJV).

Yes, I have gotten sidetracked at times — a lot more often than I care to admit — and the result is a lot of busyness and activity in things that really don’t matter much in the long run. For this, I’ve also repeatedly turned to Christ Jesus in repentance and received His forgiveness. Then, instead of continuing to dwell on weaknesses, failures and much wasted time and energy, I try to put that behind me and get focused again on what my true mission and purpose is in this world.

St. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14 KJV).

God grant to you His guidance and blessing as you consider setting a mission statement to guide you in your life. Make it a good one!

This is Pastor Randy Moll from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rogers, Arkansas.

Author
Categories ,

Posted

“Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:6-8 (Read v. 1-8)

The LORD God created us to be His own, do His will, and walk in His ways. When we rebelled against Him and turned to our own evil ways, He gave His only-begotten Son to redeem us that we might not be condemned but repent and turn to Him in faith and be forgiven, be His people, and have everlasting life (cf. Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Cor. 5:15).

But is He pleased with us if we only pay Him lip service and yet continue on in our own disobedient ways, doing our will and living according to our own sinful desires?

God’s people did this in the days of Old Testament Israel and Judah. They claimed to be God’s people and they worshiped Him outwardly with sacrifices and burnt offerings, but their hearts were far from Him. Instead of walking in His ways, they turned aside to their own ways and lived according to their own sinful desires (cf. Matt. 15:7-9; Isa. 29:13ff.).

What does God say? “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

God does not desire sacrifice or just going through the motions of confession. He desires that His people repent of their sinful ways, trust in Christ and His cross for pardon and forgiveness, and, as a fruit of His grace and mercy toward them for the sake of Christ our Savior, walk according to the LORD’s commandments, do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with their God.

In His Word, He has shown us what He requires and expects of His people. Rather than being dishonest and unjust, He desires that we live justly. Rather than being harsh and unmerciful, He desires that we be merciful and forgiving toward others as the LORD has been merciful to us — that we be “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven” us (Eph. 4:32).

And, rather than walking in pride and self-righteousness and thinking we can earn God’s favor with our works and service, He would have us walk humbly with our God, acknowledging our sinfulness and unworthiness and trusting in His grace, mercy, and forgiveness for the sake of the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Bible tells us that “the LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18; cf. 1 John 1:7 — 2:2). And, “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5; cf. Matt. 5:1-12).

O LORD God, my only Hope and Salvation, grant that I trust in You and Your mercy for Jesus’ sake and walk humbly in Your ways, looking for and awaiting that Day when You will receive me into Your glorious kingdom which has no end. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

Author
Categories

Posted

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him. …” Matthew 2:1-2 (read verses 1-23)

Once again, through the recounting of the Scriptures, we have heard of the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem of Judea. God the Son was made true man, born of a virgin, and laid in a manger. An angel told the shepherds in the field nearby that this Child was none other than the Savior of the world, the Messiah, and Jehovah God Himself!

Wise men (the Bible doesn’t tell us their names or how many) from a land or lands east of Judea learned of the Messiah’s birth through the appearance of a star (cf. Numbers 24:17; Isaiah 60:1ff.) and traveled a great distance to come and worship this newborn King and bring Him costly gifts.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, King Herod was troubled at their quest and inquired of the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah was to be born. They rightly understood the Scriptures and quoted from Micah 5:2, pointing out that Bethlehem was to be the place of Messiah’s birth.

But what happened after this? The wise men continued on their journey and were led by the star to Bethlehem and to the very house where Jesus was. There they worshiped Jesus and offered Him gifts.

Herod the king felt threatened by the birth of the Messiah and sought to kill Him and prevent Him from reigning on the throne of David.

The chief priests and scribes knew the Scriptures and could tell Herod where the Messiah was to be born, but nowhere do we ever hear of their traveling the short distance to Bethlehem to worship their newborn Savior and King.

The question today is: “What about you?”

You have heard of Christ’s birth and know of His sufferings and death for your sins (and the sins of the world) and of His glorious resurrection. You have heard God’s offer of mercy and forgiveness to all who repent and look to Jesus in faith for pardon and life eternal. How do you respond?

Do you, like King Herod, reject Jesus and try to silence those who would speak to you of Him because Jesus is a threat to you and to your way of life?

Do you, like the chief priests and scribes, know all the facts about Jesus and His redemptive work but still fail to come and bow before Him and give Him your praise and worship, trusting in Him as Your Savior?

Or do you, like the wise men of old, follow the star (hearing and believing what the Holy Scriptures say of the Christ Child) to find Messiah Jesus and worship your God and Savior, presenting Him with the costliest of gifts — even your very selves?

O, dearest Jesus, You are the Almighty God and our Maker. We thank You for taking on flesh and blood and coming into this world to redeem us from sin and death. We praise You and give to you our treasures and our lives. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

Author
Categories ,

Posted

Sad to say, many people flit from one congregation to another as if they are free to leave one church and join another at the slightest whim – perhaps they don’t like something the pastor said in a sermon, or they find a church doctrine or practice too restrictive. It might even be that the church holds too closely to a literal interpretation and application of the Bible’s teaching. And, it often happens when a pastor rebukes a sin in their life that they just leave and go somewhere else where their sins and evil are tolerated and accepted.

Perhaps even more shameful is the fact that other churches welcome them and take them in without rebuking their sins or even enquiring of their previous congregations in regard to their reasons for leaving.

This sad state of affairs calls for a reminder of the truth from God’s Word. And, in cases where people leave churches that are faithfully preaching and teaching God’s Word and rightly administering the Sacraments, a rebuke and call for repentance.

Christians are called upon by Scripture to leave congregations and church bodies that are unfaithful to the Bible in doctrine or practice, but resignation from a church that faithfully teaches and preaches God’s Word and practices according to it, unless it is to join another orthodox and faithful congregation, is in itself sinful. It is separating one’s self from the body of Christ in that place!

If one’s church errs in doctrine or practice, the first duty of a member is to point out the sin or error and seek to restore the church to the truth of God’s Word, leaving only after all such attempts fail (Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:1-16; Matt. 18:15-18; Acts 18:24-26).

To leave an orthodox church to join a heterodox church is sinful because it is disobedient to God’s Word, which tells us to beware of false prophets and teachers and withdraw from them (Matt. 7:15ff.; 1 Tim. 6:3-5). And, to leave a church to escape being held accountable for sin is impenitence and leads to eternal destruction.

The Bible teaches that the Church is to be subject to Christ “in everything,” and Jesus commanded that we teach “all things” He has commanded (Eph. 5:23-24; Matt. 28:20; Acts 2:42).

This means that we, as Christ’s Church in this place, are commanded to teach all that the Bible teaches, neither adding to God’s Word nor taking anything from it (cf. Deut. 4:2). We are not permitted to add our own views or the prevailing views of the world to God’s Word, nor are we permitted to soften or take away from that which God’s Word teaches. To be anything less than faithful to Christ and His Word would make us heterodox and unfaithful.

As a reminder that this is nothing new, I cite some questions and answers from “A Short Exposition of Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism” (prepared by the Synodical Conference and published by Concordia Publishing House in1912):

192. Who do we call the true visible Church? The whole number of those who have, teach, and confess the entire doctrine of the Word of God in all its purity, and among whom the Sacraments are duly administered according to Christ’s institution.

366) Matt. 28:20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

193. When do we properly use this doctrine of the Church? When we take heed to be and remain members of the invisible Church; when we, to this end, adhere to the Church of the pure Word and confession, contribute toward its maintenance and extension according to our ability, and avoid all false churches.

367) 2 Cor. 13:5. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.

368) John 8:31-32. If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

369) 1 Cor. 9:14. The Lord hath ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.

370) Matt. 28:19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

371) Matt. 7:15. Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

372) 1 John 4:1. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

373) Rom. 16:17. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

2 Cor. 6:14-18. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their Cod, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

For those using “A Short Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism” (published by CPH in 1943), see Qu. 186.

Author
Categories