Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lesson 11 The Importance of the Least

Driving to Denver twice a week gives me a chance to sample some of the best radio broadcasts on Christian living. What a boost to my spiritual life! As I work on my lesson and read the commentary each week sometimes the LORD just lays it out for me-Boom. And it flows faster than I can write it. This week not so much! As I chatted with Mary Alice on the phone I remarked, “I work so hard! but it just oozes out of you.” As I replayed that conversation, I am surprised she did not respond with, “That is your problem!” With a new take on a quote I made last week;   “When we work, God watches; but when we pray, God works!”

 I am sure God has watched me running around trying to fix everything and everybody! How quickly we forget that peace and serenity we had on the mountaintop when we walk down into the routine on daily life.

Roy Hession admits, ”As long as self is in control, God can do little with us, “One must be broken to be used by God.”  Calvary Road by Roy Hession is a classic, originally written in 1950 with millions in print.  Camilla Seabolt (Executive Director at CBS National in Colorado Springs that appeared in the video last week is our) gave everyone this small book at a conference. 

She admits, “When I was a new Christ follower (over 35 years ago) a godly woman gave me Roy Hession's book "The Calvary Road." That book has impacted my life more than any other apart from the Bible.”
At that time the book could not hold my attention. My mind was on overload with new information crammed in my brain that weekend. However, when I picked up this small book this week it stirred my soul and in fact it chastised me to pray more. During the teaching time you will hear quotes from the preface and chapters on brokenness and servanthood.

How many of you read e-books? Well, I found this classic free as an ebook. It is short and jammed packed with nuggets of pure gold. Do a search and you can find links download it to iBooks, Kindle, or Adobe.
"If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." PRAY

The Importance of the Least
·        Discipleship requires self-denial (9:30-32).
·        The disciples seek self-exaltation (9:33-41).
·        Jesus desires childlike humility (9:42-50).
Back in Mark 4:34 Jesus spoke to the “crowds” in parables, but  privately he explained everything to his own disciples.  9:30-31 They were passing along Galilee, not through the cities and he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples,

Now Jesus shares the most essential truth of His Ministry "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise."
Mark 9:32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him
Matt 17:23  And they were greatly distressed. KJV “they were exceeding sorry
Their most cherished ideals were completely dashed by such an announcement, they were afraid being rebuked for questioning Jesus. Remember the strong language for last week’s lesson. This week some of His illustrations are quite graphic.

I Discipleship requires self-denial (9:30-32)
      Salvation costs you nothing, Discipleship will cost you everything.
      Salvation occurs the moment you believe. Discipleship takes a lifetime to develop.
      Salvation is something that God does for you. Discipleship is something God does through you.

Philippians 2:7  He emptied himself, taking the form of a (bondservant) slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.

But Jesus allowed the twelve to travel along the road discussing things and perhaps even arguing among themselves. Perhaps so they might be encouraged to reflect together and prepare themselves for the horrible events which He had announced to them.

II-The disciples wanted self-exaltation (9:33-41)

33 They came to Capernaum. And when JESUS was in the house he asked them, "What were you discussing on the way?" 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."

In the Old Testament there are two types of servants: hired servants receive wages and have rights. Bondservants are property. They have no rights, receive no wages, and have no appeal. Our Lord Jesus Christ used the Greek word for bondservant to illustrate the position. We have no rights, no petitions, we’re the absolute property of the master to be treated as he wishes.

Beth Moore
in her book about John: The Beloved disciple. This arguing by disciples about which of them would be greatest is after the three came down from the mountain. Maybe the others felt left out or Peter, James and John could have exhibited pride because they were chosen.
Jesus was still trying to get them to see and accept their position as servant, when He introduces a child into the lesson.

36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not (only) me but him who sent me."
William Barclay writes: “Now, a child has no influence at all. A child cannot advance a man’s career, nor enhance a man’s prestige. A child cannot give us things; it’s the other way around. A child needs things. A child must have things done for him.

Jesus is saying, ‘If a man welcomes the poor, ordinary people, the people who have no influence, and no wealth, and no power, the people who need things done for them, then he’s welcoming me. And more than that, he’s welcoming God.’” How we treat those who have no status determines our heart.
John replies inappropriately, as if Jesus had not shared a great truth. His response to Jesus’ call for a humble demeanor is more childish than childlike:

38 John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." 39 But Jesus said, "Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.  

Seriously, the 9 could not cast the demon out of the man’s son, but they want to stop this man who is casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Are we sometimes like John? Are we are so occupied with what another person is doing wrong, that we do not see our own sins?
Ladies, there will be no special corner in Heaven each of our denominations. Community Bible Study invites all followers of Christ to worship and study together in unity.
Chapter 1 Brokenness Roy Hession says, The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through us until the proud self within us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory, at last bows its head to God's will, admits it’s wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards its own glory - that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all. In other words it is dying to self and self-attitudes.
"If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."
III Jesus desires childlike humility (9:42-50).
And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men
shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.   Isaiah 2:17
1 Peter 5:5,6 Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for x“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” xHumble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
Jesus drives home the importance of 42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones (Weak believers) who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible Drowning a person with a stone tied about the neck was an ancient mode of punishment.
43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' Extreme words of our LORD and Saviour.

Rather than mutilation, I expect the Jesus is talking about “pet sins,” (pride, greed, jealousy, selfishness, dishonesty) that we need to get rid of. Like a Cancer-we need drastic measure to expose the threat and remove these sins in our life.

49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."

Our table salt, ‘Sodium chloride,’ is a stable compound. But Salt in Jesus’ time was extracted from Salt marshes rather than by evaporation of Salt water, and thus contained many impurities which diluted the taste. Such Salt was thrown out to the road where it was trampled by hundreds of pedestrians.
If we guard our witness as Christians less we become good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled by everyone. Remember we are less than perfect people. Daily we face the temptations of the world. Compromising our beliefs will dilute our influence as Christians followers of Christ.
A property of salt is it’s useful in seasoning. Likewise our usefulness is to flavor the world with acts of kindness showing the love of Christ to those who are homeless, poor, and in need. Jesus says we’re supposed to be like salt. We are to intentionally preserve His witness in this world by enhancing the lives for those less fortunate with our service, our time and our money.
Can you be salt and Light to a needy world.
This Christmas Season is a perfect time to share the Blessings God has bestowed upon you. Work at a soup kitchen, provide food or  toys for an organization that serves others, volunteer to help the elderly, spare time to assist a caregiver.
"If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."

F B. Meyer says “I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves one above the other and that the taller we grow in Christian character the more easily we could reach them. I now find that God's gifts are on shelves one beneath the other and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower.”

Are you willing to use your blessings to serve others?