Three Warnings From Jesus

Jesus taught the crowd: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12:1)

A little yeast, when worked through the entire dough, radically transforms the bread.

The yeast of the Pharisees was hypocrisy. Some of the things they said weren’t true, they lacked a consistency believers ought to have. Presumably they had a “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality.

In this short and simple teaching from Jesus, there are several warnings:

Hypocrisy is contagious. It is a lesson easily learned, because short cuts require less work. The hypocrite thinks, “I can just pretend to be good without actually needing to be good.” Hypocrisy is persistent because one hypocrite rarely exposes another, because they fear the same exposure. This is a network of relationships that says, “Let’s All Lie Together.” Hypocrisy is contagious and we must guard against it.

Sin is powerful (so is foolishness). Like yeast, it only takes a little to radically change the dynamic of the whole. You don’t need to lie ninety nine percent of the time for it to damage your life, 1 or 2 percent will lead to epic destruction in your relationships. For the Pharisees, their yeast was hypocrisy. However, I’m certain there are many “kinds” of yeast. What is one of your struggles, if it’s not hypocrisy? Gossip? Indulgence? Laziness? Pride?

Consider one more warning: the Pharisees were leaders in their communities. You may not be a formal leader in the church, but what are you passing on to others? Even the best parents pass along bad habits to their kids. Spiritually speaking, what is the “yeast” in your life that others need to look out for? Jesus was clearly teaching the crowd, “Don’t be hypocritical like the Pharisees.” Jesus is also calling us to keep careful watch over our influence.

Three Warnings:

Watch out for the negative influences, specifically hypocrisy.
Identify your personal “yeast,” if it’s not hypocrisy.
Be careful of what you are passing along.

Leadership Principles of Jesus, part 1: Matthew

A survey of the book of Matthew yielded the following reflections. But first, a few notes. (a) Reading Matthew’s gospel in two sittings showed me things I wouldn’t have seen if I was reading smaller sections. Both kinds of readings–small parts and large parts– are needed for a healthy spiritual life. (b) I read with the intention of discerning the leadership principles of Jesus. Leadership is nothing more (nor less) than influence. Every believer has influence in some arena, therefore every believer is a leader. These principles are a discernment of what it means to influence others. (c) I don’t presume to think that this list is complete or absolute! I imagine spending ten years with just Matthew would not be enough to uncover all of the teachings. (d) I did my best to remove the redundancies and clean up the confusing comments, all while keeping each one as short as possible. If you see something unclear or redundant, make a note in the comments below.

  1. Matthew 1:1-25 — God was at work before you where born, he will work after you’ve died.
  2. Matthew 4:1-11 — Defeat lies from the devil with truth from God.
  3. Matthew 4:17; 19:17; 28:18-20 — Point people to God, teach them to obey Jesus’ commands.
  4. Matthew 5:12-16 — Your faithfulness will cause others to glorify God.
  5. Matthew 4:19; 26:37-38 — Gather a team, don’t lead in a vacuum.
  6. Matthew 4:23; 8:14-17; 14-13-21; 14:13-21; 15:29-39; 20:29-34 — Bring spiritual and/or physical healing and help to others.
  7. Matthew 5:1-2; 10:5-8; 15:24; 17:22-23; 20:17-20; 25:14-30 — Use your God-given gifts to follow your God-given calling.
  8. Matthew 5:3-12 — Develop Christ-like character.
  9. Matthew 5:11-12 — Endure persecution and hardship.
  10. Matthew 5:19 — Resist setting your own agenda.
  11. Matthew 5:21-22; 27-30; 31-32 — Align your attitudes with your actions.
  12. Matthew 5:23-24 — Remove the roadblocks in your relationships to remove roadblock in your worship.
  13. Matthew 5:33-38 — Build trust through integrity with your words.
  14. Matthew 5:38-42; 6:14-15; 26:49-50 — Submit to injustice,  give generously.
  15. Matthew 5:43-48 — Love neighbors and enemies.
  16. Matthew 6:1-13; 16-18 23:5-10 — Worship in secret, not for admiration from others.
  17. Matthew 6:19-24; 19:28-30 — Work for heaven, not for earth.
  18. Matthew  6:25-34; 10:9-10 — Worry less by seeking God first.
  19. Matthew 7:1-5 — Judge yourself before judging others.
  20. Matthew 7:6 — Give the truth to those who will accept it.
  21. Matthew 7:7-11, 21:22— Ask God for what you need and pursue it.
  22. Matthew 7:12 — Treat others how you’d like to be treated.
  23. Matthew 7:13-14 — Live in the “narrow,” avoid the popular path.
  24. Matthew 7:15-23 — Judge people by their actions, but don’t just look good, be good.
  25. Matthew 7:24-27 — Listen to God’s voice and obey him.
  26. Matthew 7:28-29 — Authority comes from teaching God’s ways.
  27. Matthew 8:1-4 — Seek Jesus to be purified.
  28. Matthew 8:4; 13:52 — Never let something new in your life keep you from doing the old things which were good.
  29. Matthew 8:5-13; 9:18-34 — Believe that Jesus is willing and able to help and heal.
  30. Matthew 8:18-22 — Intentions polluted with excuses never translate into obedience.
  31. Matthew 8:23-27 — Fear forgets that God is bigger than our storms.
  32. Matthew 8:28-34; 12:22-29; 12:43-45 — We fight an unseen Enemy.
  33. Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:3-12; Luke 18-26 — Spiritual healing, the forgiveness of sins, is more important than physical healing. Jesus can do both.
  34. Matthew 9:9-11 — Everyone can have a place in God’s kingdom.
  35. Matthew 9:12 — Everyone needs Jesus, not everyone knows it.
  36. Matthew 9:14-17 — Do what makes sense—what God wants—not what makes other people happy.
  37. Matthew 9:35-36, 14:14 — Show compassion for the harassed and helpless.
  38. Matthew 9:37 — There will always be more needs than we can meet.
  39. Matthew 9:38 — Ask God to call others to service.
  40. Matthew 10:1 — Authority comes from God, not people, popularity, positions, or power.
  41. Matthew 10:11-15 — Start with people who are supportive.
  42. Matthew 10:16-31 — Spiritual leadership is opposed and this opposition should not be feared.
  43. Matthew 10:32-37; 11:27; 12:2; 21:42 — Keep Jesus first, he is our center and foundation and cornerstone. Many will question and fight this.
  44. Matthew 10:38; 16:21-28 — Leadership requires sacrifice, self-denial, and giving up the world.
  45. Matthew 10:41, 18:5; 26:10 — Welcome everyone who serves Jesus.
  46. Matthew 10:42; 25:34-46 — Ministry means meeting needs in love.
  47. Matthew 11:1-18 — Never discount or discount another person’s doubts and questions.
  48. Matthew 11:5 — Share the good news, even to the poor.
  49. Matthew 11:20-24 — Pay attention to miracles, do not ignore the often inexplicable work of God
  50. Matthew 11:28-30 — Find rest in Jesus, learn from him, live with the lighter burden.
  51. Matthew 12:1-13; 15:1-20 — Legalism is an incorrect ordering of priorities.
  52. Matthew 12:16; 16:20; 17:9; 21:27; 26:63 — Everyone doesn’t need to know everything. Wait for the right time.
  53. Matthew 12:33-37 — Words matter and they spring from the heart.
  54. Matthew 12:30-32 — Sanctification is a process, and salvation has a beginning.
  55. Matthew 12:38-42; 16:1-4 — There will always be wicked doubters, still try to answer them.
  56. Matthew 12:46-49 — The evidence for being in God’s family is following God’s will.
  57. Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:4-15 — Not everyone who hears God’s Word will accept it.
  58. Matthew 13:24-29; 36-43; 47-51 — Let God separate the wheat from the weeds, that is, the spiritual from the unspiritual.
  59. Matthew 13:31-35; 17:14-20; 21:21-22 — A little faith in our Great God will produce great results.
  60. Matthew 13:44-46 — God’s Kingdom will cost us everything, and we’re still getting the better deal.
  61. Matthew 13:53-58 — Sometimes the people who know us will never respect us.
  62. Matthew 14:1-12 — Great injustices will happen to great leaders.
  63. Matthew 14:22-36  — Encourage, challenge, and correct others according to their needs.
  64. Matthew 15:1-20; 23:16-22 — Human traditions are important, but not as important as God’s Word.
  65. Matthew 15:5-12 — Watch for false teachings, even in small amounts.
  66. Matthew 15:13-20; 20:32; 21:23; 22:41-41 — Ask questions, because they change people.
  67. Matthew 15:21-23; 26:32-35; 26:69-75 — Even good people will oppose God’s plans.
  68. Matthew 17:22-23 — Sometimes, the sacrifices we make as leaders will sadden those closest to us.
  69. Matthew 17:24-27, 22:17-22 — Submit to earthly authorities
  70. Matthew 18:1-5 — Kingdom membership is based on humility
  71. Matthew 18:6-7 — Watch that you don’t cause others to stumble.
  72. Matthew 18:8-9 — Do whatever it takes to keep from stumbling.
  73. Matthew 18:10-14 — God cares for the lost.
  74. Matthew 18:15-20 — Relational sin needs to be confronted, personally first, then involve a few others.
  75. Matthew 18:21-35 — Leaders forgive, authentically and continually.
  76. Matthew 19:1-12 — God doesn’t give up on us when we fall short of his ideals.
  77. Matthew 19:13-15 — Jesus is for everyone, don’t hold anyone back, not even little children.
  78. Matthew 19:16-27 — Do the possible and trust God to do the impossible.
  79. Matthew 20:1-16 — Do not be envious of the generosity of God toward others.
  80. Matthew 20:20-28; 23:11-12 — Greatness comes from great servanthood.
  81. Matthew 21:12-13 — The things that hinder worship need to be destroyed.
  82. Matthew 21:28-32 — Even extravagant grace can’t break the hardest hearts.
  83. Matthew 21:42-44 — Spiritual leadership helps others bear spiritual fruit.
  84. Matthew 22:14 — Grace doesn’t negate our responsibility
  85. Matthew 22:15-18 — Maintain integrity, teach the truth, be faithful to God (not people).
  86. Matthew 22:-29 — Two things build disciples: the Word of God and the Power of God.
  87. Matthew 22:37-40 — Teach people to love God, self, and others.
  88. Matthew 23:3 — Leaders can learn from hypocrites.
  89. Matthew 23:4 — Leaders don’t need to make others feel guilty.
  90. Matthew 23:13-14, 29-32 — Avoid hypocrisy at all costs.
  91. Matthew 23:23-28 — Change from the inside out, not just the outside.
  92. Matthew 23:34, 37 — Some leaders are sent to save the hypocrites, a mission field most hostile.
  93. Matthew 24:1-51 — We are not sure when Jesus will return, do not be deceived: everyone will know once it happens.
  94. Matthew 25:1-13 — Faith is prepared to wait expectantly for Jesus.
  95. Matthew 25:14-28 — We don’t just wait, we also bear fruit.
  96. Matthew 25:31-46 — This temporary life is preparation for eternal life.
  97. Matthew 26:17-30 — Endure personal betrayal for the good of the Kingdom.
  98. Matthew 26:39, 42 — Leadership is about God’s will, not ours
  99. Matthew 26:40-41, 45-46 — Leadership supports others who are struggling.
  100. Matthew 27:1-10 — Sometimes people get what they want even when it’s not what they need.
  101. Matthew 27:45 — Because Jesus was forsaken, we never will be, but sometimes it will feel like it.

Confidence or presumption

Scripture says:

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

And scripture also says:

“Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.” (Luke 7:6)

Great faith walks the line between confidence and presumption.

Confidence is grounded in Jesus, in his sacrificial love that has graciously granted us access to God’s presence. Presumption is grounded in our actions and good deeds. It believes that God owes us something. However, assuming that God owes us anything is too much presumption.

Confidence enters God’s presence seeking mercy and grace. Presumption calls God to us in order that he might give us what we want.

God’s blessings are a gift, evidence of God’s infinite mercy and grace that he freely offers us through his Son Jesus.

God’s love is so great, so complete, so perfect, that we can’t gain any more…or lose it. God is love, and he acts independently from our actions.

We are not good enough on our own, but this reality does not undermine our confidence. Quite the opposite! Our imperfection can move us to rely more on his perfection.

We are called to be obedience, but our faithfulness should not lead to entitlement. God is not a holy vending machine controlled by prayers, personal devotions, and other good works.

Our disappointments with God can reveal our presumptions. When we become aware of them we are presented with an opportunity. At this crossroad we can uproot these selfish weeds or we can feed them and watch them grow into the unhealthy fruit of presumption.

So, what are you waiting for?

Anticipation is powerful. It sharpens our focus, helping us to ignore the irrelevant and look for what’s important. Expectation get’s us ready for what’s next. Waiting is often a necessary prelude for change.

Everyone lives with some degree of anticipation. Every morning we get out of bed with some kind of anticipation, we are expecting something to happen. We may want to do the minimum possible just to get by or we may want to climb Mount Everest Barefoot–but we all want something.

Excellent Waiting is a dual headed discipline:. We must learn to wait. And. We must learn to wait for the right things. It is not easy to ignore the alluring cry of instant gratification and we often want something that eventually ends up being self-destructive.

“Then [Jesus] rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.” (Luke 4:20-21)

IMAGINE THE ANTICIPATION, THE AIR WAS THICK WITH IT!

In this narrative we discover something worth waiting for: hearing God speak. God is speaking to us: through his Word, through the Spirit, and through others . . . but sometimes we need to wait.

Some of us are waiting for approval from someone we admire or want to impress. We look forward to entertainment, diversion from the reality. We might be looking forward to success or power or getting the next Thing.

Let’s commit to waiting for Jesus, forcing all other anticipations to become less important.

everyone ought to be a scribe

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”Hebrews 12:2 (NIV84)

I love the imagery in this scripture: Jesus as the author of our faith.

In ancient times, scribes were important. Their job was to listen to the author and record their words. The letter belonged to the author, but it was the scribe who did the work. Not everyone could write, so the scribe fulfilled an important role. Even though Paul could write, he still used a scribe!

We have a similar role in our modern world: In every courtroom, court reporters listen to everything that is said and record it.

Ultimately, it’s the job of the scribe (ancient or modern) to magnify the message of the author. It’s recorded so other people can read and hear it even though the author isn’t present.

When it comes to our life, we ought to be more like scribes rather than authors. Our calling is to follow God’s design for our lives. We are to listen for his voice and transmit his Word to the world through our attitudes and actions.

This picture undermines our selfish nature. It’s humbling to be a scribe. We want to be in control. We want to be the one who is in charge, making all the decisions and choosing that’s best for us.

Essentially, this imagery is one of obedience. We are allowing Jesus to be the author of our lives?

Why we become ashamed of the gospel

“… for I am not ashamed of the gospel …” (Romans 1:17)

What might move a follower of Jesus into a Peter who denies his savior?

The gospel calls us to be DIFFERENT, and in our world, no one likes to stand out from the pack. Just look at rebellious youths, even they all look alike (just don’t tell them that.)! Sure, the “outliers” exist…but by definition they are unique. And. Only sociopaths have no problem being rejected by others. We naturally want community, which we unnaturally pursue through conformity. to be unashamed about the gospel is to be willing to stand out and stand a part from the world.

The power of the gospel is UNCONTROLLABLE. Most of the power in the world is predictable and once it’s understood, it can be controlled. No one wants to catch a lightning bolt, but everyone knows where the location of the light switch. The power of the gospel is never subordinate. To be unashamed of the gospel is to also be humble about our own power.

The calling of the gospel is to PURITY and HOLINESS, to a life that strives to sin less. I suspect most of the time we are ashamed of the gospel because it is a light that reveals the darkness in our hearts. To be unashamed of the gospel is to admit to being sinful, imperfect.

You should tell more lies

… there is nothing false about [Jesus]. (John 7:18)

I’ve seen people tell lies–“white” ones too–for the following reasons:

  • To ACCOMPLISH their agendas.
  • To AVERT undesirable, yet deserved, consequences for their actions
  • To AVOID conflict with others.

The first group is far too practical, they will say whatever works in the moment in order to get what they want. Justification is easy when the ends justifies the means. Rationalization is even easier when the final goal is good (for example, carrying on the work of the kingdom). An elder of a church I once said, “telling a white lie is ok if it benefits everyone involved.” I chuckled, with as much gentleness as I could muster (which wasn’t much, given the situation), I said, “that simply isn’t true, there is no teaching in scripture that supports this thinking.” These people know what they want and will say anything to get it.

The second group is far too irresponsible and they love their comfort. Rather than own up to their mistakes, they seek to dodge the consequences they deserve. “It’s only cheating if you get caught” is the mentality.

The final group is far too accommodating and they love their “peace” with others too much. The bitterness and resentment in their hearts keeps them from showing actual grace. Instead, a superficial counterfeit is used instead. It’s easy to keep the peace when we get to keep the war alive in the privacy of our minds.

 

What gets in the way of you telling the truth?

What good comes from telling the TRUTH?

[Jesus] is a man of truth. (John 7:18)

Why should we tell the truth, what good comes from it?

When we tell the truth, we follow Jesus’ example. He is our model, the shape our souls ought to take is his. The spiritual life is about becoming more like Jesus. This means fighting off the powerful temptation to bend the truth, even just bend it a “little.”

When we tell the truth, we keep our integrity. All the money in the world cannot buy back a shattered integrity. Telling the truth keeps our conscience clean and our sleep constant.

When we tell the truth, we earn trust from others. Without trust, true community is impossible. Without trust, influence is shallow. We are not called to live isolated, powerless lives. To connect and live with impact, we must live authentically.

When we tell the truth, we deserve trust from others. In our broken world, appearances are powerful. The force of some personalities naturally gain trust from others The triumph of people skills and charisma is this: like-ability gathers false support. Not only should we earn trust from others, we ought to actually deserve their trust.

We we tell the truth, we help others grow. It’s easy to play it safe and it’s common to avoid conflict. I’m not suggesting we look to start up confrontations every chance we get, but how many people are missing out because we lack the courage to say the tough thing?

When we tell the truth, in situations where we are tempted to cover up our errors, we face the true consequences of our actions. In these painful moments, especially when we choose to face them, we learn powerful lessons.

 

Let us commit to telling the truth, in all things, so that we might become more like Jesus and grow into the person God has designed for us to be.

How human is your gospel?

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)

I want you to know
In a world obsessed with gaining glory and self promotion, Paul’s example is vastly different. He is clear and direct: his teaching was not from people, not even himself. His authority came from God.

>>As a leader, when do you relish your influence too much?

Not of human origin
How we love to add to the gospel! Sometimes, we teachers, think it is not interesting enough, so we add conjecture and interpretation and present it as fact. More common, for all believers and followers of Jesus, we add our rituals and unwittingly create soul damaging ruts. DO THIS, DO THAT! Such additions undermine grace, seeking to earn and repay the extravagant gifts of God.

>>In your teaching and in your judgements of others, how have you added to the gospel?

Received by revelation from Jesus Christ
God spreads, and it’s our responsibility to listen and maintain our faith with discipline and perseverance. It’s easy to get caught up with the business of life–especially in the the face of success. However, we must not neglect our interior lives before God.

>>What is the condition of your spiritual life right now, is your heart postured to hear God?