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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Prayer Is for Real

Photo credit:  Dayle's Blog

This is the manuscript of the ninth and final sermon in the "Listening To Heaven's Infallible Teacher" series from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapters 5-7.  

Matthew 7:7 NIV “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Prayer is for real! It cannot be explained away psychologically as an expression of wishful thinking. It can't be ignored as the residual of some ancient social custom. Prayer is neither child’s play, nor is it a religious exercise. It is as much a part of life as breath itself. Prayer is first a relationship. It’s a dynamic conversation between two individuals who love, care for and enjoy one another.  It is an interaction between you and God.  

In this portion of the Sermon on the Mount, Christ unequivocally said, “Prayer is for real! Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you

In this assertion that prayer is for real, Jesus offered a pattern, a promise, and a proof (3 Ps).

For an audio recording of the sermon click the YouTube link at the end of the manuscript.

To see a video of the entire service, click this link https://youtu.be/EmR0sSs7sUU


Scripture:

Luke 18:1‭-‬14 NIV Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”


Sermon Scripture 

Matthew 7:7‭-‬11 NIV “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Text

Matthew 7:7 NIV: ““Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Introduction


Personal comments


Prayer is for real! It cannot be explained away psychologically as an expression of wishful thinking. It can't be ignored as the residual of some ancient social custom. Prayer is neither child’s play, nor is it a religious exercise. It is as much a part of life as breath itself.

If you surveyed books on prayer in a Christian bookstore, you'd find varied and often conflicting advice. Some authorities insist that successful prayer is scheduled; others favor impromptu prayer. One writer says fasting should accompany prayer, but another tells us to pray in any circumstance. Still another says that prayer is best done when alone, though someone else urges us to join with others. Some claim that prayer requires careful preparation and thought, while a conflicting authority says prayer should flow spontaneously from our hearts.


Prayer is first a relationship. It’s a dynamic conversation between two individuals who love, care for and enjoy one another.  

It is an interaction  between you and God.  

But the question still comes, though often unspoken, “Can we, in a scientific age, continue to believe in prayer?” This question is not unique to today. People have always questioned the value and effectiveness of prayer, even in the time of Christ. Some have honest doubts, some are skeptics, and still others question the value of prayer because they have observed professing Christians misusing prayer.

Naming and claiming stuff in prayer out of selfishness. 

In this portion of the Sermon on the Mount, Christ unequivocally said, “Prayer is for real! Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you

In this assertion that prayer is for real, Jesus offered a pattern, a promise, and a proof (3 Ps).

  1. First the pattern.


Jesus offered a pattern for prayer in Matthew 7:7, our text today. It is a pattern of asking, seeking, and knocking. The followers of Christ recognized that he, more than any other person, could teach them how to pray.  

Luke 11:1 NIV One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

They were fascinated with his preaching, yet they never asked him to teach them how to preach. They would sit for hours and listen to him teach, yet they never asked him to instruct them in how to teach. But when they heard him pray, they came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray” 

He more than anyone else could give the perfect pattern.

Jesus continues to stand as the supreme authority on prayer. His whole life was immersed in the spirit of prayer. He knows what it can accomplish, and he knows the power it can apply to any situation. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus outlined the pattern to be followed. Ask, seek,  and knock.

A. “Ask.” 

To ask means that we acknowledge our need and admit our own helplessness. We all experience times when we can only come before Christ asking. We are very much like a blind person on a corner who asks for someone to take them safely across the street. He asks and at the same time has nothing to offer in return. 

When we pray we can't be self righteous like the Pharisee in one of Jesus' parables.  Jean read it for us this morning.   

Luke 18:9‭-‬12 NIV To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

Well, prayer has nothing to do with personal merit or the promise of doing better in the future. Real prayer is expressed in the words of the tax collector.

Luke 18:13 NIV “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

Asking means that we acknowledge that we have a need.


When we ask for something, we have to address our need to a person.  We can't ask some inanimate object for a response. So, when we pray, we address ourselves not to a thing, but to a personal God who hears and cares.


In telling us to ask Jesus was saying that God is always approachable. He is present with his ears open, and his hands extended.  Remember what I said earlier, prayer is a relationship.  It is an interaction between you and God.  It’s a dynamic conversation between two individuals who love, care for and enjoy one another.  


Asking also means that we can pray specifically. 


Philippians 4:6 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.


Max Lucado, one of my favorite authors gives three reasons to be specific in prayer 


  • A specific prayer is a serious prayer. If I say to you, “Do you mind if I come by your house sometime?” you may not take me seriously. But suppose I say, “Can I come over this Friday night? I have a problem at work, and I really need your advice. I can be there at seven, and I promise I will leave by eight.” Then you know my petition is sincere. When we offer specific requests, God knows we are sincere. 

 

  • Specific prayer is an opportunity for us to see God at work. When we see Him respond in specific ways to specific requests, our faith grows. Let me give you an example.  The book of Genesis relates the wonderful prayer of Abraham’s servant. He was sent to Mesopotamia, Abraham’s homeland, to find a wife for Abraham’s son. How does a servant select a wife for someone else? This servant prayed about it.


Genesis 24:12–14 NLT “O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.” —

Could the servant have been more detailed? He asked for success in his endeavor. He envisioned an exact dialogue, and then he stepped forth in faith. Then scripture says,


Genesis 24:17‭-‬20 NLT Running over to her, the servant said, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.” “Yes, my Lord,” she answered, “have a drink.” And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink. When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.” So she quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels.

Wow she said the exact words. The servant had an answered prayer. He saw God at work.

  • Specific prayer creates a lighter load for us to carry. Many of our anxieties are threatening because they are ill defined and vague. If we can reduce the challenge into a phrase, we bring it down to size. It is one thing to pray, Lord, please bless my meeting tomorrow. It is another thing to pray, Lord, I have a conference with my supervisor at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. She intimidates me.Would you please grant me a spirit of peace so I can sleep well tonight? Grant me wisdom so I can enter the meeting prepared. And would You soften her heart toward me and give her a generous spirit? Help us have a gracious conversation in which both of us benefit and Your name is honored. What you have done by being specific is you have reduced the problem into a prayer-sized challenge. 


Now this doesn't mean that we can make demands or put conditions on our prayers.  I am also not suggesting that 

 the power of prayer is in chanting the right formula or quoting some secret code. 


Don't think for a moment that the power of prayer is in the way we present it. God is not manipulated or impressed by our formulas or eloquence. But He is moved by the sincere request. After all, He is our Father, and as His children we honor Him when we tell him exactly what we need. 


We don't have to filter out our requests before offering them to God, but like a little child, we are to open our hearts to God. He is a good and loving Father who will answer those requests that he knows are best for us. And he will answer them in such a way as to fulfill his will for us.


Matthew 6:9‭-‬10 NIV “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.


To pray is to seek God’s will. Many times we do not know what God’s will is, so we simply let our request be made known and ask God to grant it only according to his will. This way we can pray with confidence, knowing that if we pray according to God’s will, he will hear us.


B. Ask then “Seek.” 


Seeking requires effort. In the model prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, in which Christ told us to pray for our daily bread, he was not instructing us to sit down and passively do nothing. 


Matthew 6:11 NIV Give us today our daily bread.


Rather, he was indicating that we should ask God to give us the opportunity to earn our daily bread. When a farmer prays this prayer, it means that he is asking for the opportunity to prepare the ground, plant seed, cultivate the crops, and tend the plants. 


And when we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we are praying that we will become so committed in the matter of personal soul winning and building up one another that God’s kingdom will be consummated soon.


C. Ask, seek and  “Knock.” 


The third step in Christ’s pattern of prayer is to knock. Knocking carries with it the concept of effort plus persistence. Jesus illustrated this with the story of a man who continued to knock late at night on his neighbor’s door until the man got up and honored his request. 


Luke 11:5‭-‬8 NIV Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.


So here's the question, How long must we keep on praying? 


Here's the answer, pray until the answer comes.


Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.


Luke 18:1‭-‬5 NIV Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ”


So the pattern is ask, seek, knock. 




II. There's A promise that comes if we follow the pattern 


Matthew 7:8 NIV For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.


In Matthew 7:8 Jesus offered us the promise that if we ask, we will receive; and if we really seek, we will find; and if we continue to knock, the door will be opened to us. The verbs ask, seek, and knock are present imperatives. This means that Jesus is telling us to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. We are never to be discouraged in prayer.

God promises that he will always answer our prayers. He may not answer them in our way, but he will always answer them in his way, which is the best way. He alone has perfect love, perfect understanding, and perfect wisdom.

The question is, “Who is this promise made to?” It is certainly not a blank check written out to everyone in general. It is a promise made to followers of Christ who are sincere enough to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. Prayer is for real when the pattern is followed and the promise is accepted.  But keep in mind we can only be confident in this if our prayer is in God's will for us.

III. We have the pattern, ask, seek, and knock, we have the promise if we follow the pattern now here's the Proof.


Matthew 7:9‭-‬11 NIV “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

The proof is in these 3 verses. Here Jesus used the analogy of a father responding to the request of his son. Then he drove home the point that if we as frail, sinful human beings desire to answer our children’s requests, our heavenly Father surely desires to answer the requests we bring to him. 

Proof that prayer is for real is found in the God to whom we pray. It is found in his nature, his resources, his wisdom, and his love. 

Conclusion


Prayer can become real in your life if you follow these simple steps: First, decide what your need is and get it clearly focused in your mind. Second, in light of what Scripture teaches, determine if your desire is right. 

As you talk to God, get in such a place or such a state of mind that other things will not distract you. Remember that you are talking to God and not to a human being. Share with God what you will do to help bring about the answer to your own prayer. Answered prayer is more often a cooperative effort between a person and God than simply unilateral action on the part of God.

God has graciously chosen to give us the privilege of being His partners in both the physical and spiritual areas of life. Through prayer we work with Him in defeating the powers of evil and in bringing about the fulfillment of His loving purposes in the world. God established the partnership from the very beginning.

Genesis 1:28 (NLT)28  Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” 

Genesis 2:15 (NLT)15  The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

2 Corinthians 5:20 (NLT)20  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

God has a long history of accomplishing His will through people.  Often having the people who have been doing the praying do the work. 

When Jesus was teaching His disciples, He left no doubt as to who God would rely on to carry out the work of His kingdom.

Luke 10:1-3 (NKJV)1  After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.2  Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.3  Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.

God does very little on earth without you.  When we pray “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth”  we are opening ourselves up to being used by God for Him to accomplish just those things.  We all have a role to play and so that we can perform that role we have been given talents and spiritual gifts. 

Ephesians 4:11-16 (NKJV)11  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,12  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,13  till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;14  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,15  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ--16  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Since we are in a partnership and we know who the stronger and more dominant partner is we want Him to do the heavy lifting and He does but prayer shows that we want to and are willing to do our part, no matter how small that may be. 

Prayer is consenting to cooperate with God.  He works with us He doesn’t overpower us. 

Since we are in a partnership and we know who the stronger and more dominant partner is we want Him to do the heavy lifting and He does but prayer shows that we want to and are willing to do our part, no matter how small that may be.

Prayer is consenting to cooperate with God.  He works with us He doesn’t overpower us. 

Matthew 6:10 (NKJV)10  Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

This is what the partnership is all about.  Prayer is God’s way of getting His will done on earth.  The emphasis is His will not ours.  God takes our requests which we through prayer and meditation become our desires which should match God’s desires for us. When we pray we should be asking God what actions He wants us to take as His partners. 

When your prayer is finished, never forget to be grateful to God and express that gratitude through thanksgiving. Be willing to accept God’s answer, whatever it may be, remembering that God’s will is always best.

Partners with God—what a privilege! What an incentive to pray!


Invitation for Salvation 

I heard a story once about a man who worked for a train company. He manned a junction booth at an old bridge that crossed over a river. He had to manually operate the rail switches on the dated bridge tracks, otherwise the train was likely to derail and go careening off the bridge.

The man had a preschool-age son who loved to accompany his daddy to work. He was fascinated by trains and enjoyed watching them as they passed by. Sometimes he’d even get to sit in his dad’s lap and help operate the switch controls. It was the perfect playground for a little boy.

One day the boy was standing down by the river when a train was approaching the bridge. As the boy took a few steps out so he could better see the train, he tripped and tumbled headlong into the swirling waters. His father, seated in the control booth, saw the accident and knew immediately that he had only a few seconds to act before his son would be out of reach. He also knew with gut-wrenching clarity that he could not retrieve his son and get back to the booth in time to secure the train’s safe passage over the bridge. If he went for his son, the train would probably derail, fly off the bridge, and kill all the passengers on board. . After a brief pause, the girl continued. “I’ve been told that that’s what God did for me, that basically he sent his Son to die on a brutal cross so I wouldn’t have to. I’m not sure I understand it all, but if that’s true, if that’s what God is like, then that’s the God I want to believe.”


Sermon Audio 



 

 



Sunday, July 25, 2021

Handle the Holy with Care

This is the manuscript of the eighth sermon in the "Listening To Heaven's Infallible Teacher" series from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapters 5-7.  

Matthew 7:6 NKJV “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Matthew 7:6 on the surface seems to be in direct conflict  with last week's sermon where Jesus said 

Matthew 7:1 NIV “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

Matthew 7:6 is possibly the hardest saying of Jesus ever recorded.  Jesus Christ, who came in love to give his life as a ransom for many, is quoted as calling some of these people “dogs” and “swine.” If you or I used such words in addressing others, people would be shocked by our attitude, and those addressed would feel insulted and offended.

This verse, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces" divides itself into four segments, which we are going to discuss today—a restriction, a reason, a response, and a repercussion.  4 Rs.

For an audio recording of the sermon click the YouTube link at the end of the manuscript.

To see a video of the entire service, click this link https://youtu.be/iCnd7M8EYhI


1 Peter 1:13‭-‬23 NIV Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

Text: 

Matthew 7:6 NKJV “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Introduction

Matthew 7:6 on the surface seems to be in direct conflict  with last week's sermon where Jesus said 

Matthew 7:1 NIV “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 

This statement also appears to conflict with other statements attributed to Jesus, such as, 

Luke 6:29 NKJV To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.

And 

Matthew 5:44 NKJV But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

However, remember what I said. Jesus was not prohibiting the rule of law nor was he prohibiting making moral judgements.  He did warn however that if we made those judgements that we check ourselves first because we would be judged by the same measure we judged.  We were not to nit-pick, fault find or cut people down to our size.  That is a sin.

Matthew 7:6 is possibly the hardest saying of Jesus ever recorded.  Jesus Christ, who came in love to give his life as a ransom for many, is quoted as calling some of these people “dogs” and “swine.” If you or I used such words in addressing others, people would be shocked by our attitude, and those addressed would feel insulted and offended.

Jesus went on to say that such people are unworthy of God’s holy truths and that we are wasting our time trying to persuade them. In fact, he said that if we persist in our efforts in trying to win such people, we are running the risk of being assaulted and torn to shreds by the very ones we are trying to help.

So, let’s see if we can reconcile Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:6 with what I said last week and the other scriptures I just read of Jesus' statements and many other of his teachings about loving others.  What is the purpose of such a shocking statement being interjected in the middle of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount? What was Jesus really saying? 

This verse,“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces" divides itself into four segments, which we are going to discuss today—a restriction, a reason, a response, and a repercussion.  4 Rs.

I. First let’s look at the restriction.

 Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, ….

On the surface this command seems to call for an exclusiveness that is foreign to the spirit of our Lord, which is love. However, remember that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus was talking to His followers, His disciples He wasn’t talking to everyone.  

Matthew 5:1 NKJV And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.

His teaching was very radical at a time where there was rampant immorality and paganism. There was an ever present danger that His followers would be infected with these things.   It is not that Jesus didn’t want others to follow Him. In fact, He and His followers were consumed with a burning desire to win everyone to faith and His radical teaching that God loves everybody.  On the other hand, He was very aware of the necessity of keeping their morals pure and doctrines unpolluted. Otherwise this new radical teaching would eventually be swallowed up by the ever prevalent immorality and pagan worship. 

The key to understanding this statement “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine" is found in the word holy

Holy has four distinct meanings. 

First is “to be set apart.” 

Next, it means to be “perfect, transcendent, or spiritually pure, evoking adoration and reverence.” 

Next, it means something or someone who evokes “veneration or awe, being frightening beyond belief.” 

The last definition is, “filled with superhuman and potential fatal power.” A saint is a holy person, and scripture tells us says that all believers are saints meaning that believers are “set apart” 

Ephesians 2:19‭-‬22 NKJV Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

To be sanctified is to be set aside or to be made holy.

Hebrews 10:10 NKJV By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

When Jesus spoke of that which is holy, he was surely referring to truth (set apart “perfect, transcendent, or spiritually pure, evoking adoration and reverence.”)  

A. He was talking about the truth of the gospel which Is holy. 

Paul spoke of “the truth of the gospel” in Galatians 2:14. 

Galatians 2:14 NKJV But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?

And in John 8:32 Jesus said that “the truth shall make you free.” 

John 8:32 NKJV And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Since the gospel can do such wonderful things like making you free, why then does Jesus place a restriction on offering such truth to “dogs” and “swine”?


Jesus spent a great deal of his time preaching to the poor and those who were outcasts but He also spent  a lot of time talking to people who were religious yet lost, the Scribes and Pharisees for example. But He spent most of His time with those who had embraced him as Lord and Savior. You will find that the vast majority of his parables and teachings were directed to those who had become his followers. His purpose for doing this was to equip them to carry the gospel to the rest of the world.


John 14:25‭-‬26 NKJV “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.


Here's why.


Matthew 28:16‭-‬20 NKJV Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.


Jesus never turned down an opportunity to share the good news. 


Yet in this particular statement,  “ “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces”,  Jesus had in mind religious people who show no real interest in him and who, in fact, are openly hostile toward him and do everything to oppose him. As you read the many incidents found in the gospel accounts where the Pharisees antagonized him, you won’t find a single incident where Jesus turned and preached the simplicity of the gospel to them. 


Mark 3:1‭-‬6 NKJV And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.


Here's another one


Matthew 9:10‭-‬13 NKJV Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”


He knew that they had no desire to really hear what He had to say and that they were just looking for a way to trick or discredit Him so He really kind of ignored them.  


He refused to cast his pearls before swine.


There will always be those to whom the preaching of the cross of Christ is foolishness.


I Corinthians 1:18 NKJV For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.


These people respond to an offer of God’s grace with hate and hostility. It is to this group that Jesus restricts our sharing of the truth of the gospel. In fact, the implication is that to disobey his restriction is to do more harm than good.


B. Jesus not only spoke about the truth of the gospel He also spoke about  the truth in general. 


John 3:19‭-‬21 NKJV And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”


Where he talked about the light coming into the world. He said that people love the darkness of sin rather than light because they desire to do evil. The truth we offer on behalf of Christ is not to be thrown out indiscriminately. Our enthusiasm to reach others for Christ must be tempered with knowledge. If we attempt to force the truth of Christ on others, we should not be surprised when we are met with hatred and insults.


We had a long discussion about this in Bible Study on Wednesday and we went through 5 dos and 5 don’ts about sharing our faith with non-Christians.


If you're interested in them let me know and I'll have them for you next week.


There will always be those who say in words and attitude, “Don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up!” After you have done your best to share with others the truth of the gospel and that truth is neither welcome nor accepted, then, in essence, Jesus said,  you have done all you can do.


Ezekiel 3:17-19 (NLT)17  “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately.18  If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths.19  If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me. 




II. We just looked at the restriction now let’s look at the reason for the restriction.  


Jesus described those who refuse to accept the truth and revere the gospel, as swine or pigs, or in other translations dogs.  In the Jewish culture that was a tremendous insult.  Now as we learned last week we are not to be censorious or judgmental toward others. 

So the question is, who are the “dogs” and “swine”?  There a good description in;

II Peter 2:17‭-‬22 NKJV These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”

Now we know that  people are not born with the nature of a dog or pig. A person must choose of his or her own volition to assume this depraved nature. Christ used the analogy of a pig to illustrate a nature that has lost all sense of values. To offer “the pearl of great price” to such a person is to have that pearl trampled underfoot.

We must remember that ours is not to judge others. Our responsibility is to avoid needlessly exposing the truth of Christ to those who are completely lacking in appreciation and are sure to reject it. 

III. We looked at the restriction and the reason for it because here’s the response we get when we cast our pearls before those who reject and ridicule it. 


“They trample them under their feet.” 

Solomon captured this same truth in Proverbs 23:9 

Proverbs 23:9 NKJV Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.

There have always been those people who are repelled by the gospel and even stirred into hostile antagonism. 

To attempt to argue with such people is to do more harm than good. To try to force the gospel on them and twist a profession of faith from them is perhaps to close the door forever. 

Before they can grasp the truth of the gospel and allow it to take root, the Holy Spirit must have time to work with them. To run ahead of God and attempt to do this is to violate God’s restriction, and to be met with an unfavorable response. 

IV. Here's the possible repercussion.


Jesus said that if we choose to ignore his command, we run the risk that those who reject him will “turn and tear [us] to pieces” (NIV). Christian history verifies this truth. Acts 7:51–60 recounts the story of Stephen, who steadfastly and honestly proclaimed the truths of Christ. He laid the guilt of people at their feet where it belonged. But the end result was that he lost his life.

John the Baptist, in Mark 6, confronted Herod with his sin. He was speaking the truth to a man who desperately needed to hear it, but the end result was that John the Baptist lost his head and did not convert Herod.

Jesus Christ at his trial (Matt. 26:59–68) held his peace for quite some time. Then, when asked if he was the Son of God, he replied, “Yes, it is as you say” (v. 64 NIV). The result was that the high priest tore his clothes, accused Jesus of blaspheming, and pronounced him worthy of death. Those in the crowd joined in with this spirit of hostility by spitting in Jesus’ face and hitting him. 

Conclusion


Let me clear this up. There should be no compromise for the Christian, and the Christian should make no judgment of the non-Christian. God calls His people to holiness, and He calls the world to Jesus. 


It is not our responsibility to judge the behavior of the world; God will judge them. Non-Christians will act like non-Christians. Their thinking, attitudes, and actions will reflect that of the  world. We cannot expect them to share our values or our behavior. That won’t be possible without them first having a saving relationship with Jesus


I Corinthians 5:12‭-‬13 NKJV For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”


What then are we to do what’s the remedy? How are we to relate to those who reject Christ? Are we to walk off and leave them as hopeless spiritual derelicts? Is the message of Christ simply for those who seem willing to embrace it?

Absolutely not.

There’s no better example of how to do evangelism than Jesus Christ Himself. He is the master communicator and the master evangelist. We see this beautifully illustrated in John 4, when Jesus encountered the woman at the well in Samaria.

You can read the entire encounter in John chapter 4.

Now, no orthodox Jew in Jesus’s day would ever go to Galilee through Samaria even though it was a shortcut. There was deep-seated bigotry and prejudice between Jews and Samaritans. Jews hated Samaritans. And Samaritans hated Jews.

Jesus went through Samaria anyway. 

Why did He do that? Because there was a burned-out, empty, searching, immoral woman who had an appointment with God. This serves as a reminder that the love of God knows no racial, economic, or even sinful boundaries. It also reminds us that we have to go to where people are. 

So often Christians try to isolate themselves from nonbelievers. But God has not called us to isolate; He has called us to infiltrate. That grumpy neighbor, that inquisitive co-worker, those people you’re around in your day-to-day living—they’re your mission field. God wants you to reach out to them.

We need to get out of our comfort zones. Yes, it’s challenging to reach out to someone who might look different than you do. But we need to go where people are.

Jesus did not say that the whole world should go to church, but He did say that the Church should go to the whole world. We want to invade their world with the gospel.

Matthew 28:19‭-‬20 NKJV Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Let’s say, for the sake of illustration, that yesterday you told someone about Jesus, and they blew you off. But then last night, your words suddenly came back to them like a little explosion. It was a delayed reaction.

The seeds of the gospel that you sow today may break ground tomorrow. You just want to be faithful in getting those seeds out there.

What our words cannot do, our lives can do. Some people may not want to hear anything that you say, but they are open to a real life demonstration of what the gospel of Christ can do in the life of someone else.

The challenge that is ours in light of Christ’s warning to handle the holy with care is found in some other words spoken by Christ and was the text of the second sermon in this series 

Matthew 5:16 NKJV Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

That's the answer.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your guidance. Forgive me for getting ahead of Your plans, and help me know when to stop and listen for Your direction. Your ways are perfect, Lord. 

We are recipients of your great love and the good news of your gospel in our salvation. Enlighten the eyes of our heart that we may see, that we may know what is the hope to which you have called us: the hope of eternal life. May our hearts burn with the words of the Great Commission — so that we make disciples of all nations.

We pray that you open doors in all areas which our lives intersect. May you pave the way for the conversations we will have. Make us aware of opportunities to bear witness to the greatness, the glory, and the goodness of our Savior. Give us a boldness to walk through these doors and proclaim the hope of redemption in Christ and the promise of eternal life, for the glory of Your name and for our good.


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