Monday, July 17, 2017

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In this blog, I provide encouragement and biblical teaching on seeking the Lord with all your heart, loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and living a life of holiness, righteousness, and truth.

As the Scripture says:

'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

And "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat 7:13-14)

Some of the topics covered include seeking the Lord, prayer, worship, tithing, inquiring of the Lord, hearing His voice, obedience, grace, godly attire and adornment, sanctification, consecration, backsliding, repentance, brokenness, suffering, humility, the fear of the Lord, the role of the commandments for the disciple of Christ, and the conditions of the New Covenant.  I hope this will be an edifying and encouraging experience for you that will help you to grow in your walk with the Lord.

Seeking the Lord Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God Holy Fire Baptism
Lifting Your Face in Prayer Lifting Hands in Prayer Crying Out to God Loudly
Pressing on Toward the Goal Taking Heaven by Force God Exalts the Humble and Brings Down the Proud
Whom Are You Seeking? Should you fear the Lord? Is a Woman's Hair Her Head Covering?
Aim for Perfection Obedience by the Spirit Is Obedience Optional?
Salvation with Fear and Trembling Holy Living in a Perverted World Drifting Away
The Cost of Discipleship Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Is Tithing Required?
Where Should You Give Your Tithe? Walking in the Perfect Will of God Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian
The Obedience of Faith Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross? Law of Love in the New Testament
The New Covenant Law of Love in the New Testament The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith Costly Grace The Law of Christ
The Eyes of the Lord Garments of Godliness The Three Elijahs
The Burning Ones The End Has Come Now, But Not Yet
The Happy Hunters on Fire You're Better Off Following Jesus God Chooses the Weak Things 
The Beauty of Brokenness Seeing Jesus, Loving Him, Character and Glory Hearing the Lord's Voice
Hearing the Lord's Voice Inquiring of the Lord Praise the Lord!
The Loving God Who Bids Us to Come One thing Righteousness, Peace, and Joy
Is the the Self-Help and Actualization Movement a Sham? From Self-confidence to Confidence in the Lord The Self-Help Gospel
Checklist for Revival God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He? The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer
The Flaming Sword Clean Hands and a Pure Heart The Spirit of the Law
Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy An Open Mind that Loves the Truth Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? The Apostasy Parables

The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught
The Disciples’ Prayer Is Tolerance a Virtue? Righteousness by Faith not Law
Life is Short. Eternity is Not. Noah's Ark a Type of Christ Grace, Mercy, and Peace
Ultimate Accountability Separation from the World The Knowledge of the Holy
The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness Ask for the Ancient Paths Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven
The Straight and Narrow Path Unhealthy Competition A Peculiar People
Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets Hope for You

Beware of Philosophy and Empty Deception
The Love of Jesus The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer Having a Servant's Heart
Avoiding Worldly Worship Purge the Evil from Among You Who is God?
Living a Life Worthy of the Lord Praying for the Lord Jesus Who is God? - Part II
The Way, Will, and Word of God Overcomers in This Life The Afflictions of the Righteous
Saints Alive in Jesus Bowing Low in Worship Repentance That Leads to Life
Keeping a Good Conscience Remember Lot’s Wife Called to be Blameless
If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words The Lord Will Rejoice Over You The Nature of Persecution
The Wardrobe of the Saints Filled Up to All the Fullness of God Loving Deeply
Seeking Glory from God Amazing Grace God's Sovereign Plans and Purposes
Abominations in the Sight of God Identification with Christ Alabaster Jar
Running from God Forgetting the Past Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?

Our gift of these articles by Len Lacroix is made possible in part by your gracious support of the ministry. Partner with us online.  You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Seek My Face" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38


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Doulos Missions International now offers discipleship training online through the Doulos Training School (DTS).  Please visit the DTS online at Doulos Training School to find out more about how you or someone you know can participate.
___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Was Jesus "Seeker Friendly"?

I'd like to explore the topic of being "seeker friendly," which has become so popular today. When I use that expression, I mean that in the sense that it is used in the modern mega churches that like to attract crowds. I mean it in the same sense of the seeker-safe churches that aim to please the non believers in their midst in the hopes that they will find the church to be "relevant." Being "relevant" to the world is esteemed as if it is a biblical commandment in such churches. They assume the music, the atmosphere, the way people talk and dress, all have to be such that the world can relate to them. They typically have their Starbuck's coffee bar, their strobe lights, special effects fog, tight jeans, rocky worship, worldly video clips, and short, 20-minute sermons.

However, the way we go about making disciples should be according to Jesus. So the question is whether Jesus was "seeker friendly," also known as "seeker-sensitive." I believe you will be able to see clearly from Scripture whether or not He was. Here are some passages that will reveal the answer, because they show how Jesus was not out to "win friends and influence people" according to the principles taught by Dale Carnegie. Jesus was not everyone's "yes" man who agreed with whatever they said and told them what they wanted to hear in order to win friends to Himself and make followers out of them. In fact, he often said things that brought correction, reproof, or rebuke to men. He often said things that went directly against the assumptions people made.

Following Jesus Is Harder Than You Think
In the gospel of Matthew, it says, "Then a scribe came and said to Him, 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.' Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' Another of the disciples said to Him, 'Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.'" (Mat 8:19-22)

In the first instance, the scribe confidently declared his allegiance to Jesus. But rather than giving him a big hug and welcoming him into the kingdom, Jesus told him that he lacked a place to lay His head, implying that anyone following Him may suffer similar hardships for His sake. The Lord did not use the "seeker friendly" approach with the man by telling him that it would be easy to follow Him.

In the second instance, a disciple requested permission to bury his dead father before following Jesus. But the Lord told him he should not delay following Him, even though that seemed like a valid reason to do so. He counseled the man to let others bury his father, but that he should immediately embark on following Jesus without delay.

A Rich Young Man Seeking Eternal Life
Do you remember how Jesus answered the rich young man who was seeking eternal life?

And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." Then he *said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." The young man *said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. (Mat 19:16-22).

Did the Lord try to attract this man to follow Him by being nice and agreeable? No, He told the man "if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." And He enumerated a few examples of the Ten Commandments in answer to the man's question about which ones. Then when the man confessed that he thought he had kept all those commandments, the Lord even told the man to "go and sell your possessions and give to the poor." As a result of what the Lord said, the man "went away grieving." This is not one of the "seeker-friendly" approaches being used by "seeker-safe" churches today.

Unless You Repent, You Will All Perish
Consider how Jesus responded to those who reported to Him the news about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.

"Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'" (Luk 13:1-5)

The people probably saw the fate of those Galileans as a judgment from God for their sinfulness, and perhaps they expected Jesus to agree with them. However, He did not respond like they expected. He did not strike up a friendly conversation with them, trying to find some common basis on which to build a friendship with them. He told them that unless they repent, they will all perish like those people whose blood Pilate mixed with their sacrifices. In fact, He even gave them another example to prove His point, regarding the eighteen people who perished beneath a falling tower. Telling people to repent or else they will perish is not a typical "seeker friendly" approach.

None of Those Men Shall Taste My Dinner
Another great example to consider is how Jesus responded to the man at the table with Him, who remarked about the blessedness of those who will eat in the kingdom of God. The man probably assumed he himself was among those who would eat in the kingdom, but look at how the Lord responded.

"When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, 'Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!' But He said to him, 'A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, "Come; for everything is ready now." But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, "I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused." Another one said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused." Another one said, "I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come." And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, "Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame." And the slave said, "Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room." And the master said to the slave, "Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner."'" (Luk 14:15-24)

In the Lord's response, He showed that none of those who are invited to God's banquet in heaven, and who make excuses, would ever taste of His dinner. Just because they have been invited does not mean they will be able to eat in the kingdom of God. Obviously this was not a standard "seeker friendly" approach to getting this man who was eating with Him to become one of His followers.

The High Standard for Discipleship
One last example will suffice to make my point. Jesus did not lower the standard for heaven in order to attract more people. In fact, when large crowds were going along with Him, He turned many people away by what He said.

"Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 'If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, "This man began to build and was not able to finish." Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'" (Luk 14:25-35)

In this passage, the Lord said many things that the large crowds with Him would have found hard to bear. He said that if anyone comes to Him, he must hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life. He said that if anyone does not do so, they cannot be His disciple. He said that anyone who does not carry his cross and come after Him cannot be His disciple. They must be cross-bearing followers of Jesus. Nothing else would do. He also said that none of those present there in the crowd could be His disciple unless he would give up all his own possessions. Rather than get them to say a quick prayer and treat them as one of His followers by virtue of the fact that they were going along with Him, He instead counseled them to go and count the cost of being one of His disciples. He emphasized that there would be a great cost. In fact, He indicated that it would cost them everything. These are not the words of a "seeker friendly" preacher who wants to attract the crowds to follow the Lord.

Putting it All Together
Through these examples from Scripture, I have shown that Jesus gave people plenty of reasons to walk away from Him. He only wanted those who were serious and willing to pay the price. He upheld the high standard of the kingdom of heaven, and did not back down one inch for anyone. He preached against sin and taught that sincere repentance is required to be saved.

Yet today so many preachers are giving people a watered-down message and making it easy for them to enter the kingdom. They are trying to attract the crowds by being "seeker-friendly" and "seeker-sensitive," but this is not the Scriptural pattern given by the Lord in His ministry. They are preaching another gospel than the one Jesus preached -- a gospel without repentance. Rather than preaching against sin, they are preaching what David Wilkerson once called "The Gospel of Accommodation." They are failing this generation. They are doing a disservice to the Lord and His kingdom, because they are giving those people the illusion that becoming a disciple of Christ is easy. And they are persuading those who make "decisions for Christ" to think that they have become true disciples of Christ, when in fact they have not, but have actually joined a false representation of Christianity.

There are many churches like these today, but we need to get back to the gospel. We need to get back to following the pattern that Jesus gave us for making disciples. We need to give people the truth and not a candy-coated message or church experience. We may get fewer numbers of people, but at least they will be true disciples, and not crowd followers.

What about you? Are you a crowd follower or a true disciple of Jesus Christ? Are you an easy believer or have you made the decision to take up your cross and follow Jesus? I hope this article has served as a wake up call for you to show you your true spiritual condition and that of your church. And if you know that you are in right standing with God, then why not share this with those you love, so they can be, too?

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you would like to become a disciple, consider enrolling in our Doulos Training School. You are invited to read The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, The Cost of DiscipleshipPopularity of the GospelMichael Shigaba's Encounter with Jesus, Strive to Enter the Kingdom of God, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, A Warning for Married Christian Couples, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, Rachael Mushala Second Testimony of HellZipporah Mushala's testimony of hell, Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the World, Life Transformation Groups, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Messages from the Lord for Catholics Worshipping Idols Only the Holy -- Three Shocking TestimoniesAngelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven
Baptized by Blazing FireTaken to HellAngelica Zambrano Second Visit to Hell
Australian Pastor Raised from the DeadNigerian Pastor Raised from the DeadRevelation of Hell to Seven Colombian Youths

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Forgetting the Past

It's natural to think back on  the past and either take pleasure in it or regret it. I want to encourage you to forget the past, regardless of whether it is something good or bad. The Lord says,

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Is 43:18b-19a, NIV)

As Smith Wigglesworth once said, “God’s plan for you is to forget the past in every way, because the future is so amazingly wonderful."

The apostle Paul was an excellent example of someone who put this into practice. He had achieved a faultless level of legalistic righteousness, and had superior religious credentials. Yet he said, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” (Phil 3:7-8, NIV)

He could have carried those things over into his walk with Christ and boasted about them, but instead he considered them as garbage compared to knowing Christ. He considered them loss for the sake of Christ. He wasn't neutral at all about them, but radically threw out anything that could cause any pride. As Wigglesworth once said, “Whatever has happened in my life up to this moment is of no importance. What matters is what God is to me now.”

Paul put it this way: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:13b-14, NIV). He practiced forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.

You cannot rely upon your past achievements for God or your past relationship with the Lord or how He has used you in the past. The important thing is how your relationship is with Him today.

God is doing a new thing. If you stay focused on the past, you will miss the new thing He is doing. It keeps getting better and better. He always saves the best for last, just as when He turned the water into wine. The master of the banquet said, "You have saved the best till now." (Joh 2:10b, NIV). The same is true in our lives that the Lord saves the best for last. No matter who you are, you can always say, "The best is yet to come," because if you are still on earth, heaven is yet future. The Lord has set before us the joy of being in His glorious presence for eternity. We know there is great joy set before us that lies just ahead. Indeed, the future is amazingly wonderful.

The apostle exhorted us to practice, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2, NIV). Notice that even Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him.

Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom 8:!8, NIV). There is no comparison between our sufferings and the glory to be revealed in us. In fact, in his epistle to the Corinthians, he took it a step further to say, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor 4:17, NIV). That means that our troubles are actually helping to bring about the glory we look forward to. It also means that if you had a balance used for weighing things and on the one side you put all your troubles, while on the other side you put the glory of God to be revealed in us one day, then no matter how many troubles you pile onto the scale and no matter how big they are, they will never come close to tipping the scales. Nothing could ever outweigh the glory to be revealed. It far outweighs anything we could ever experience here on earth, whether good or bad. If we keep that in mind, it will help us put our trials into proper perspective, as well as our greatest joys and achievements. Nothing compares with the promised eternal inheritance we have in Christ.

One thing we must not forget are the sins we have committed, which we have not yet repented of or asked God to forgive us for. We must repent of these and seek forgiveness from God, as well as anyone we have offended, and make restitution as necessary. Once we have taken care of these things, then we should forget about them. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1Jn 1:9). Once you have taken your trash to the dump, leave it there. Don't go digging it up again and again.

Another one thing in the past we must never forget are the Lord's mighty deeds and the wonders He has performed. These we must remember and ponder -- deeds such as His work of atonement on the cross, his death, burial, and resurrection, and the mighty acts of power He has displayed throughout history. We should remember what He did for Israel as a nation, such as His parting of the Red Sea, bringing them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. We should remember what He has done for people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Elijah, Daniel, Shadrach, Mischach, and Abednego. We should remember what He did on the day of Pentecost, and what He did for the apostles like Peter and John in the first century. We should remember what He has done for the saints down through the ages like Martin Luther, John Huss, William Carey,  John Wesley, Adoniram Judson, Ida Scudder, Mary Slessor, Smith Wigglesworth, and Hudson Taylor. We should remember what he has done during the Welsh revival, the Asuza Street revival, the Great Awakening, and the Second Great Awakening. We should remember His might deeds that He has done for us and those we love. We should not forget that we have been cleansed of our past sins (2 Pet 1:9). Let us forget the past, but always remember the Lord's great and marvelous deeds.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like For the Glory of God AloneThe Light and the GloryWhatever You Do, Do All Like ThisPleasing the LordSuccess in God's EyesHaving a Servant's HeartHoly Living in a Perverted WorldThe Difference Between a Disciple and a BelieverSeeing Jesus, Loving Him, Character and GloryWalking in the Perfect Will of GodOne ThingOur Senior PastorAsk for the Ancient PathsStriving to Enter the Kingdom of GodLiving a Life Worthy of the LordAim for Perfection, and The Wardrobe of the Saints. I highly recommend reading Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies and Holy Fire Baptism. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Running from God

There are some wonderful lessons of mercy, grace, and compassion to learn from Jonah and his experience when God sent Him to proclaim His message to the lost. Let's take a look and observe how God responded in each situation, and His sovereign control over everything as He sends and appoints whomever and whatever He pleases.

The Lord Sent Jonah
The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me." (Jon 1:1-2)

Here God appointed or ordained Jonah to go forth when He sent him to Nineveh. However, Jonah ran away from the Lord and fled from His presence. Just as He appointed Jonah, He also appointed some other things. Let’s take a look at what those were.

The Lord Sent a Great Wind
The first thing the Lord did in response to Jonah running from Him was to send a great wind. “Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” (Jon 1:4, NIV). In fact the word for “sent” in this verse may also be translated “hurled” to indicate the mighty force with which the Lord sent it.

God opposes the proud, and He was opposing Jonah, who was acting in a selfish, strong-willed, rebellious manner.

Because of the storm, the sailors called on their gods and the captain ordered Jonah to get up from his sleep in the hold of the ship and call on his God. The sailors also cast lots to determine who was the cause of this storm and the lot fell to Jonah. When they asked him about it, he admitted he was to blame and once again said that he was running from the Lord, just as he had already told them. When they asked what they should do to calm the storm, he advised them to throw him into the sea, which they did. As soon as they threw him overboard, the sea grew calm.

The Lord Appointed a Fish
The next thing the Lord did was to appoint a fish to swallow Jonah. “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jon 1:17, NASB)

The word “appointed” comes from the Hebrew word “manah,” which is used four times in the book of Jonah, meaning “sent” or “appointed.” The NET Bible translates the word as “sent”. “The Lord sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jon 1:17, NET).

While Jonah did not obey God when he was sent, the fish obeyed God when it was sent. It swallowed Jonah.

The Lord Commanded the Fish
The next thing that happened was that Jonah prayed from inside the belly of the great fish. He cried out to God and the Lord heard him. The Lord’s response to Jonah’s prayer was to give him a second chance, so He commanded the fish to disgorge him. “Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” (Jon 2:10)
Once the fish had vomited Jonah onto dry land, God sent him a second time to Nineveh.

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you."
(Jon 3:1-2)

In obedience to God, Jonah arose and began his first of three days walk through the city with the message, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." (3:4). The people responded well to the message and repented sincerely. “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.” (Jon 3:5). In fact, when the king heard the message, he ordered all of his citizens to repent.

“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish." (Jon 3:6-9)

That moved the heart of God, who saw their repentance and relented from sending the calamity He had intended to send upon the people of Nineveh.

The Lord’s decision not to send destruction on Nineveh really displeased Jonah. In fact, it made him angry (4:1).

He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. (Jon 4:2)

The Lord Appointed a Plant
He decided to go east of the city, set up a shelter, and watch to see what God would do. Perhaps he hoped that God would still destroy them, since Jonah complained to Him about it. “So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.” (Jon 4:6)

The next thing God did was He appointed that plant to grow up to rescue Jonah from his misery. He did it because He knew Jonah was very hot and this would make him extremely happy. But He didn’t do it just for the sake of making Jonah happy. He did it to teach him a lesson.

God was concerned about all the people in Nineveh, because if they did not repent He would have to destroy them. However, Jonah was concerned about himself and his own comfort level.

The Lord Appointed a Worm
Afterward God sent a worm. “But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.” (Jon 4:7)

The worm obeyed God and attacked the plant that God had appointed. Just because God has appointed something doesn’t mean it will last forever, because He can appoint it to be destroyed. By appointing the worm to attack and destroy the plant, God was removing the shade that the plant provided, which brought relief to Jonah’s discomfort. He wanted Jonah to see that just as the plant had been important to Jonah, the people were even more important to God. He wanted Jonah to feel the concern that He had for the people of Nineveh.

The Lord Appointed a Scorching East Wind
Finally, after God destroyed the plant he had appointed, He appointed a scorching wind. “When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, ‘Death is better to me than life.’" (Jon 4:8)

Through this object lesson, God taught Jonah about His love and compassion for people. “Then God said to Jonah, ‘Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘I have good reason to be angry, even to death.’ Then the LORD said, ‘You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?’” (Jon 4:9-11)

God loved and cared for those people of Nineveh, whom He created, far more than Jonah cared for the plant for which he did not work and which he did not cause to grow. God even loved the animals and did not take pleasure in having to destroy them either. He showed Jonah that it is right for Him to have compassion like that, which is why Jonah should have obeyed the first time, when God initially sent him.

Putting it All Together
It doesn’t pay to run from what God has told you to do. The same way He sends His people and appoints them to do a work for Him, He also sends and appoints everything else as He sees fit. He does whatever He pleases. He is sovereign and is ultimately in control of everything. He's a big God. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Rom 11:36). No wisdom, no insight, no plan can succeed against the Lord (Pr 21:30). When He appoints someone or something, nothing can stop Him.

The Lord sent Jonah to preach to the people of Nineveh and warn them of the coming destruction that He was going to send upon their city. When the prophet disobeyed and ran from the presence of the Lord, God sent a wind, then a fish, then a plant, then a worm, and finally He sent a scorching wind. See how the elements all do His bidding! The wind obeyed God, the fish obeyed Him, the plant obeyed Him, the worm obeyed Him, but Jonah didn’t – at least not initially. But God gave him a second chance and then he finally did obey when he was sent. When he finally did, many people were saved from destruction as a result. The one thing God changed His mind about, and did not send  as He initially planned to do, was the destruction upon Nineveh.

Jonah taught us that God is a God of mercy and compassion. He is the God of second chances. Just as He gave Jonah a second chance, He also gave the people of Nineveh a second chance, too. He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. He loves people and is more concerned about the salvation of many than He is about our own personal comfort.

If you have been running from what God told you to do, now is the time to repent, turn back to Him, ask for His forgiveness, and obey Him. If you sincerely humble yourself before Him, He may give you a second chance. Likewise, if you have been living in sin, away from God, living for your own self, repent and turn to God through Jesus Christ, who died for you on the cross. He loves you and wants to save you. In fact, He has already gone to great lengths to save you, but you must repent and turn to Him to be saved, or else you, too, will perish.

Attribution noticeScripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, as well as the NET Bible, where noted. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend 
Drifting AwayStriving to Enter the Kingdom of GodSins That Will Keep You From HeavenPleasing the LordLiving a Life Worthy of the LordThe Straight and Narrow PathAsk for the Ancient PathsRighteous Deeds and White RobesPracticing Your RighteousnessHoly Living in a Perverted WorldDoing What is RightYour Rewards Are Based on Your PracticeIs Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?Faith Works!The Judgment Seat of ChristThe Obedience of FaithThe Difference Between a Disciple and a BelieverRemember the Eternal Law of GodPurge the Evil from Among YouJames Agboola Revelation of Heaven and HellThe Role of the Trinity in Drawing People to GodElection and PredestinationKeeping Power of God, and The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun. Other related articles are available on the Home page. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?


“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Alabaster Jar

I would like to take a look together with you at the woman with the alabaster jar, who poured her perfume at Jesus’ feet. It’s recorded in all four gospels, so it’s like she had four cameras on her recording it from different angles. But actually there were more than four angles, because there were more than four people present when she did that. The four gospels tell us that there were others besides Jesus and His disciples, like Simon the Leper, and others who witnessed what she did. I would like to look at this event from the perspective of each of those people who were present, in order to see it the way they saw it, in the hopes that we will gain some new insights from it. Let’s begin by reading the account of it in each of the four gospels.

Matthew’s Account
In the gospel of Matthew it states:

“Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, ‘Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.’ Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?’ And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.”  (Mat 26:6-16)

Matthew placed this event as occurring right before the Last Supper that Jesus ate with His disciples on the Passover, the night that He was betrayed. He makes the connection between this event and the Lord's passion. He emphasizes the focus men had on money and the cost of the perfume when this happened. He also ties it in with the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve.

Mark’s Account
In Mark's gospel, which some believe he recorded at the direction of the apostle Peter, it states:

“While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. But some were indignantly remarking to one another, ‘For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.’ And they were scolding her.” (Mar 14:3-5)

“But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.’" (Mar 14:6-9)

"Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time." (Mar 14:10-11)

Mark, like Matthew, also placed this event right before the Last Supper, which is recorded immediately after this passage. Therefore he associates this event with the betrayal of Christ and His passion.

Luke’s Account
Luke's is the only account that does not place the occurrence of the event right before the passion of Christ.

Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner." And Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he replied, "Say it, Teacher." "A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. "When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?" Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have judged correctly." Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. "You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. "You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. "For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." Then He said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven." Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?" And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."  (Luk 7:36-50)

John’s Account
In John’s account, he places this event not at Simon the Leper’s house but at the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. He identifies Mary as the woman who did this to Jesus. However, he still has it located in Bethany just as all the other gospels do.

“Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, *said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?" Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Therefore Jesus said, "Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. "For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me." (Joh 12:1-8)

Now that we have read the account of this event in each of the four gospels with each of their different angles, let’s examine it from the perspective of each person who was present in the house that day.

Simon’s Perspective
We’ll begin with Simon, who looked down upon the woman because she was a sinner, and doubted that Christ was a prophet because He allowed her to touch Him.

“Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.’" (Luk 7:39).

Being a Pharisee, he was righteous in his own eyes. He judged both Jesus and the woman unjustly in his heart, and failed to look at himself first. While he did well to invite Jesus for dinner, he did not show Him love like the woman did. He neglected to greet the Lord with a kiss, to give Him water for His feet, and to anoint His head with oil.

The Woman’s Perspective
Now let’s see what this event looked like through the eyes of the woman herself. According to Matthew’s gospel, “A woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table.” (Mat 26:7).

She saw Jesus as Messiah, the Anointed One, and she anointed His head. She believed in Him. She brought an alabaster jar of very costly perfume with her, intending to pour it on Him. She did not normally walk around with this jar. Rather this was deliberately done especially for Jesus. No cost was too high, no gift too expensive for Him.

According to Mark’s gospel, “While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.” (Mar 14:3).

She did not just open the cover and pour a portion of it out on Him, but she broke it open. The Greek word for “broke” indicates that she completely broke it, as when something is broken into pieces. By breaking it, she rendered it unable to be used again in the future to hold the contents. She went for broke, not sparing anything, giving Him all that of the costly contents inside of it with all their beautiful fragrance that she could have put on herself and enjoyed. She gladly exchanged it for the fragrance of Christ.

According to Luke’s gospel, “And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.” (Luk 7:37-38)

She was known in that city as a sinner. We are not sure if she had ever used any of this perfume previously as part of her sinful lifestyle to seduce men into sin. If she did, then she may have trapped many men with that same perfume, by putting it on herself. But by now giving it over to Jesus, she demonstrated that she no longer needed it, because she was departing or had departed from her sinful lifestyle. This was true repentance and contrition for sin.

She came to the Lord when she learned that Jesus was reclining there in the house of the Pharisee named Simon the Leper. She sought Him out, carrying that alabaster jar of perfume. We know that he was reclining, as was the custom in that culture, rather than sitting on chairs to eat. When she found Him, she humbly and contritely took up her position standing at His feet, weeping before Him. Seeing herself so utterly sinful as she was, and He as her Savior, she wept with sorrow for her sin. The message, though unspoken, was absolutely clear. She was seeking His forgiveness.

As her tears fell from her eyes onto His feet, she knelt and wiped them dry with her hair. This was a great act of worship, seeing His feet of greater worth than the hair of her head. His feet were dusty and dirty from walking around outside with sandals, and they had not be washed when he entered the home, as was then the custom in that place. Her tears served as the water to wash them and her hair as the towel to dry them. It was no problem for her to do this. There was no hesitation or reservation on her part. In fact, she did not stop kissing His feet from the time He entered the house. She lavishly poured out her love on Him, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

The Disciples’ Perspective
Next let’s see how this event looked through the eyes of the disciples. They saw it as a waste, since they were most concerned about the cost of the perfume. They were indignant when they saw this, and said, "Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor." (Mat 26:8-9). The reason they scolded her and bothered her like that was because their focus was on the money, since the perfume was not ordinary, but one that would have fetched a high price. In their view, pouring it out all at once like that on one person was expending it without necessity or use. They felt she was destroying it wantonly or luxuriously, squandering it, and thereby causing it to be lost through negligence. 

Judas’ Perspective
Judas was one of those who shared that same viewpoint, and who was thinking about money. “Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.” (Mar 14:10-11). It was during this particular event that Judas, who was intending to betray Christ, ultimately went off to do so in exchange for the promise of money. It is interesting that this woman’s act of love for Jesus triggered such a dastardly act on the part of Judas for the sake of financial gain. This is the nature of persecution, which is often done out of jealousy. What a contrast there was between what this woman was doing and what Judas was doing at that moment! Their hearts were in two completely different places.

Judas was a man who could be bought for a price. He asked, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him?” (Mt 26:15). Don’t ever set a price for your soul, for which you would be willing to deny Christ or compromise your convictions in any way, because if you do, the devil will surely send someone who is willing to pay it.

Being money-oriented, Judas was naturally motivated by greed, which is what made his reaction different from that of the other disciples. “But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?’ Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.” (Joh 12:4-6). He was selected by the Lord to be the treasurer, yet even as a disciple of Christ given that kind of trust, he had no problem stealing money from the Lord’s treasury box that he was responsible for. Ultimately that was his downfall, because he valued money more than the Lord.

His eyes were blinded by money, and to him the woman’s act was outrageous, not because of the money it wasted, but because of the opportunity he lost to have that money for himself.

As Paul said, “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1Ti 6:9-10). Judas is an example for us to show us what happens to those who ignore the warnings against greed and covetousness in Scripture. His longing for money caused him to wander from the faith and pierce himself with grief. He fell into temptation and a snare, because of his desire to get rich, and plunged himself into ruin and destruction. Scripture tells us that after he saw that they decide to put Jesus to death, he was filled with remorse and committed suicide by hanging himself.

Other Guests
Now let's look at the event through the eyes of other guests at the dinner in that house with Jesus, who have not already been mentioned. "The other guests began to say among themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?'" (Luk 7:49, NIV). This is yet another perspective to consider. They marveled at Him, wondering who He was, since He was able to forgive a person's sins. No one else but God has the authority to forgive sins. No other man but Jesus Christ God's Son can do so. Let's not forget that. We, too should marvel at His ability to forgive our sins. As I said in my previous article, no matter what you've done, you need to know that if you repent and return to God, He forgives and forgets. You can trust Him to do it, since He is gracious and compassionate.

The Lord’s Perspective
Finally, let’s view this whole matter through the Lord’s eyes, which is the most important perspective of all. While everyone else was judging the woman, scolding her, or looking down upon her act of worship, how was it viewed in the sight of God? We know from Scripture that Jesus enjoyed and appreciated her loving act of devotion to Him.

“Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." (Lk 7:44-47).

He saw her faith, and responded by saying directly to her, "Your sins have been forgiven." (Luk 7:48). While everyone marveled at those words, He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luk 7:50). He could see that she was a sinner who had come home.

It was an unforgettable moment for Him. He said, “Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her." (Mat 26:13). He knew that God would not forget what she did, and neither would He. In fact, by declaring it so, He saw to it that people throughout the whole world for thousands of years to come would remember what she did to Him there that day. She would be famous for this simple act, of which others did not appreciate or see any value. And it was recorded in every single one of the four gospels, which underscores its importance to God.

Jesus rebuked the disciples for bothering her and told them told them to leave her alone. He said that she did a good deed to Him, which He viewed as a beautiful thing (Mk 14:6). He recognized that she was preparing Him for burial, which was soon to happen. He said, "For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial.” (Mat 26:12). Not only was the house filled with the fragrance of the perfume, but so was He, since He was covered with it. And that fragrance surely stayed with Him and upon Him during the last supper, during His prayer in Gethsemane, throughout His arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death on the cross. The soldiers must have smelled it, as well as Pilate, Herod, and the people by whom he carried the cross on those narrow streets of Jerusalem. Since He said that it was preparation for His burial, we may assume that even when they took Him down, they would have still smelled some of it upon Him. It was long lasting. Nothing about what she did was wasted at all in His sight. It had eternal value to God. This is the nature of true worship, as Jesus taught us how to love God.

“And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and foremost commandment.” (Mat 22:37-38)

Worship is about loving God above all else. Yet in this world, it seems that most people serve wealth. This is even true of many Christians, and this indicates who their god really is. They may say they love Jesus, but if they are pursuing wealth, then that is their true master, not the Lord. Jesus warned, "'No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.' Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, 'You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.'" (Luk 16:13-15).

In that room when the woman poured perfume on Jesus, the things that everyone else esteemed highly were abominations in the sight of God. He detested their evil thoughts and reactions, which were based upon their misplaced values. God knew each of their hearts, and could see through what they were saying and thinking, all the way down to their very motives. Likewise, He knew that woman's heart and placed great value on her worship. He was pleased with it and received it as a sweet-smelling savor.

Putting it All Together
Having examined the woman’s act of pure devotion to Christ from multiple angles, we have learned many things. We saw the doubt and critical spirit with which Simon viewed it. We learned from the lesson that Christ taught him that those who are forgiven much love much and those who are forgiven little love little. We saw the criticism of the woman by the disciples, because they saw what she did as a great loss. We saw the greed in the heart of Judas, who wished he could have cashed in her vial of perfume and had the money for himself. We saw how his love of money led him to betray Christ.

We saw the event as the woman herself saw it, through her own eyes, as something very special of which the Lord was completely worthy. We saw her humility, her repentance, her contrition, her tears, her kisses, her extravagant worship, her true love for Jesus, because He forgave her many sins. As she knelt at His feet, she received forgiveness of her sins and salvation (Lk 7:48,50). Although all others were in an outrage over her actions, she had found enduring peace with God at last and that was all that mattered. She cared not what others thought. All her debts with God were cancelled (Lk 7:42).

Most importantly we saw her act of worship through the eyes of Jesus, who was immensely blessed by it. He saw her heart and knew that she was truly sorry for her sins. He forgave her and received her worship, and promised that people all over the world would remember her for it wherever the gospel is preached. It was not at all a waste to Him, but something precious of eternal value.

Let’s learn from this for ourselves and apply it to our own lives. Let’s not be like Simon or the disciples or Judas Iscariot. Instead let’s be like the woman, and repent of our sins – even with tears, receive the Lord’s forgiveness, and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let’s give Him our highest and best – our all, for which He is eternally worthy. Let’s pour out our love on Him like fragrant perfume with sincere and pure devotion.

Give Him your whole life as an offering to the King. Break it at His feet. Offer your body to Him as a living sacrifice, which is your acceptable act of worship (Rom 12:1-2). Don't let anyone look down upon your devotion or criticize you for it. Don't hold back or be stingy with your worship. For no matter how lavish your worship, it’s still it's less than He deserves. He’s far more beautiful than any vial or anything you could give. He’s more precious than the fragrant oil or the most valuable thing you have. He’s the sum of our desires and the fullness of our joy. He is worthy. Worthy is the Lord!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, where noted.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the Home page, especially The Beauty of Brokenness, One thing, Bowing Low in WorshipSeeking the Lord, The Cost of Discipleship, Costly Grace, The Nature of Persecution, Loving Deeply, Seeking Glory from God, The Loving God Who Bids Us to Come, The Love of Jesus, God Forgives and Forgets, Repentance that Leads to Life, The Lord Healed My Backsliding, and Amazing Grace. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.