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                The Gospels in Harmony                 Sermon #333     Posted 1/31/21

Luke 16:13-17
The Gospels in Harmony  Sermon #335-21321

13  No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 
14  And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. 
15  And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. 
16  The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. 
17  And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Luke 16:13-17

     I want to be clear with many people who think and say I go too far with how I preach. Many say I am too short and pointed with my interpretations of the meanings of scripture. Well, all they need to do is read their Bibles and they will see Jesus never held back from pin pointing sin in anyone's life.
     Jesus not only gave the people parables so they could see the problem through examples that did not involve them, He also would point directly at the problem and pin it on the people deserving of punishment for such sin.
    Parables are sometimes easier to accept when it is being used to teach something because it is about someone else. It's always easier to point a finger at someone else and say they should or shouldn't do or have done that. But when the problem is pointed directly at someone they will often become belligerent and deny the accusation. 
      Here we have Jesus speaking a parable and then turning directly to the Pharisees who got the idea it was about them and began to deride Jesus.
Now what is the definition of deride?
The ESV uses the word ridiculed and the ASV uses scoffed. It can also be defined as to sneer at someone. In any form it is an action of hatred and denial. Hatred because they know Jesus knows the truth about them. Denial because they believe they are above reproach from someone as lowly as Jesus. Remember, to most of the religious elite, Jesus is just a carpenter’s son stirring trouble for them.
     Well folks let’s bring this forward and apply it to what we see in the world today. Better yet lets’ apply it to what we see in the church today. Ouch!
Yes, the Pharisees and Sadducees have not really disappeared with time.
I'm not going to get into pointing fingers at persons or religious groups or denominations. What I will do is shed light on why there are so many people who have turned away from the church. 
     When the church as an organized group focuses on bigger and better and more and more to promote itself, it has become lost. When bigger and fancier, more programs, more everything becomes the focus of a so called church it has lost sight of what and who builds the church. It has lost sight of how The Church is assembled and shown and grown.
    So many churches today must maintain an exorbitant amount of income just to keep their doors open. They have reached the point where it takes money to be a worthy and recognized religious group or organization. 
Money first and God second. They may claim it is God that is first in their agenda but without that cash flow they would cease to meet. 
    Should you as a Christian support your pastor? Yes. 
You do not muzzle the Ox. However, the work that Ox does is for the Lord, not the religious denomination or organized group. The Lord adds to the church daily when He is the first and only purpose for people to come together. Go back and read about the first church. What was their focus?
41  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 
42  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 
43  And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 
44  And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 
45  And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 
46  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 
47  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Acts 2:41-47
      First came faith and commitment to God. Then came commitment to each other---personally! The church members became one in Christ by being there for each other, not being there to put money in a box or a plate so the organization could use it to expand! God brings the increase for anyone who will put others in their care. He never lets anyone who seriously applies themselves to the good of others go without the increase to do so.
Increase in faith, increase in time, increase in ability and material goods. 
   When a church works together in the Lord, the Lord brings the increase to the church. His Church! Not the religious group with the high financial goals and budget! Not the church that has an agenda for growth by advertising and having a fancier meeting place and a bigger parking lot with a playground for the kids and all kinds of social activities.  According to men, a church that deserves to be looked up to as a role model for all other churches.
Really? Really?
    What happens to that church when it can no longer afford its upkeep and its employees and its social programs and advertising? It implodes! It caves in because it was built on the almighty dollar instead of the Almighty Lord God in Heaven! 
    The reason so many churches are losing members and closing their doors is because they do not have a personally responsible agenda. Personally responsible to the Lord first and personally responsible to its members.
42  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 
43  And fear came upon every soul:---
Acts 2:42-43
    To fear the Lord is to honor and respect and reverence and hold Him first and true in all things. It is to adhere to His Word and commands.
29  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 
30  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 
31  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:29-31
    Most churches and religious groups today are not personally responsible for each other. The only time they even come close to being one is for an hour or two on Sunday morning and maybe one hour in an evening at the church. They do not personally know each other or want to know. They do not help each other as a group or a family. Nor do they join together outside of the church just to praise God with each other. 
13  No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 
 15  And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. 
    Now the Pharisees knew Jesus was speaking about them as well as many others. The Sadducees were well known for their covetousness but the Pharisees were a close second and as they were the ones present Jesus turned to speak personally to them.
    Here was a religious group who had lifted themselves above all others by their standards of practice. They felt they deserved to be treated with respect and certainly had earned everything they could acquire and do to keep projecting themselves as the elite, the better than thou, the deserved of attention and praise.
   One religious group after another still falls into the sin that so completely consumed the Pharisees. Is it any wonder so many people have turned away from God? It is easy to see the division that such greed and arrogance creates. The hypocrisy in what they preach and what they are is blatant and it takes little more than perceptive attention to see it. Once again I use the term façade because they use the Lord to cover and justify what they say and do for their own glory. They praise the money they raise and take in for their organization while the actual members are strangers to each other’s needs.
   The Church that God lives in lives for each other.  Their focus is on honoring God by caring for each other and taking in those whom God has found worthy to be members of His Church.
47  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Satan works in numbers. God works through truth. 
Be very cautious of the popular and flamboyant groups who require regular patronage. Their god is the glory your money will buy them. 
16  The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. 
17  And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
    Seek out the small group who will put your well being in Christ above all other things. What they will have to give to you will be worth far more than notoriety and social acceptance. Brotherhood in Christ is forever and it must start with personal salvation and continue with personal brotherhood. 
That my beloved friends and neighbors is something money cannot buy! 
AMEN!
Pastor Steven Freede
Cornerstone Independent Church Ministry
2/13/21

 
    

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