Category Archives: Devotionals

7-16-2019 Walking in Truth Devotional Update by Guy Roberson

Walking in Truth Devotional Update

Mary Anoints the Feet of Jesus

This is number 100 in this series

(John 12:1-9)

Guy Roberson

Jesus is very close to finishing His work on earth. It is six days before the Passover. Jesus had come to be the Passover Lamb for the sins of mankind. Jesus had gone to Bethany again where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived. Lazarus, just a chapter ago in John’s gospel, was dead and buried in a tomb. Martha, Mary and their Jewish community were grieving. Jesus had lingered in his travels, and his friend Lazarus had died. Both sisters tell Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” As if to say, “Jesus, where were you?” Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. And here is Lazarus, newly resuscitated, eating a meal. This was probably a meal given in celebration of Jesus. Several people are mentioned but the focus in on Jesus. The divine record tells us that Martha is serving as always, Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Jesus. John doesn’t tell us that this is the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. But, it was someone’s home and a great time was being enjoyed by all.

Some think that this incident is the same as in Luke 7:36-50. But this would make Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany the same person. The Mary of Luke 7 was an adulteress and there is no indication that the Mary of Bethany was an adulteress. It is my opinion they were not the same person and that you have two separate events. Clearly, both loved Jesus dearly and expressed their appreciation for Him in the act of anointing Him with a precious ointment.

Anointing with oil is typically a ritual fit for a king. An anointing often takes place in the Hebrew Scriptures to declare God’s choice of the new ruler—picture the prophet Samuel pouring oil over a young David’s head (1 Sam. 16:1-13). Typically anointing involves the head, not the feet, therefore, Mary seems to be doing more than just anointing Jesus. This anointing was not during His labors, but in view of the Lord’s impending departure, even as He says in Matthew 26:12, “For in pouring out this ointment on my body, she has done it for my burying.”

The Holy Word of God informs us that “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” An alabaster box of ointment: ointment was put in vessels made of “alabaster”, which kept it pure and incorrupt; and this stone was found about Damascus, so that there may have been plenty of it in Judea. The word “spikenard” comes from the Greek word nardos, which describes one of the most expensive perfumes that existed at that time. Spikenard was so expensive that few people could buy it; most had to buy one of the many cheap imitations available. But the word used in John 12:3 tells us that Mary didn’t bring Jesus a cheap imitation; she brought Jesus the real thing — an ointment so valuable that it was normally reserved and used only as gifts for kings and nobility. This was the gift Mary brought to Jesus. So, when Judas announced that the spikenard could have been sold for three hundred pence, he was saying that Mary’s perfume was worth three hundred days of salary.

Isaiah 52:7 describes why Mary felt this way: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”

Mary believed that Jesus had changed her life by raising her brother from the dead (John 11:32-44). Jesus had brought new meaning into her family. To Mary, Jesus was precious, honored, and greatly valued. In total humility, Mary dried the feet of Jesus with her hair (her glory and honor, I Cor. 11:15).

Judas looked at what had just happened and thought, “What a waste!” You wasted that fragrant perfume. Notice that Judas presents his criticism in the form a righteous sounding criticism. Verse 6 makes it clear that Judas did not care about the poor at all. Rather, he was a thief and he oversaw the money bag. The point is that Judas wanted this ointment sold for the $30,000-40,000 so that he could steal some of that money for himself. He helped himself to the money given to Jesus. What a scene: you have the dishonest, greedy heart condemning the one with the true, loving heart. There’s the greatest contrast imaginable here between Judas and Mary. One is given over to the devotion of Jesus, the other is given over to the gratification of self.

Each scene is beautiful and touching, and delightful to the heart of Jesus. Whether it be the gratitude of the repentant sinner or the adoration of the heart of the admiring saint, it brings pleasure to the blessed Lord, and calls forth His approbation. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”

How much do we appreciate the Lord?

 

By Guy Roberson

 

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7-2-2019 Walking In Truth Devotional Update by Guy Roberson

Walking In Truth Devotional Update

Salvation Came to Zacchaeus

(Luke 19:1-10)

Guy Roberson

The Lord Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, he was going to the feast of the Passover, and on the way, he came to Jericho and the record tells us He was surrounded by a crowd (v. 3).

This account concerning Zacchaeus is the picture of a man that was converted by Jesus, a man with a heart that was changed. Shortly before this story Jesus encountered the rich young ruler (Lk. 18:18-30) who refused to give up his idol (his riches) to follow Jesus. Zacchaeus also was a tax collector for Rome and was rich. Zacchaeus was not only a tax collector, but a chief tax collector (v. 2), meaning he had others working for him to collect the taxes.

Jewish tax collectors like Zacchaeus were despised by their fellowmen because they were known for cheating the taxpayers, and were collaborators with their enemy, the Roman authorities.

The divine record tells us that Zacchaeus was short in stature (like me, Guy Roberson). This short fellow wanted to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd. So, being resourceful, and untroubled by dignity, this short fellow ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, knowing Jesus would pass that way (v. 3-4).

Can you imagine his surprise when Jesus saw him, stopped and said, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So, he made haste and came down, and received Jesus joyfully (v. 6). However, when the crowd saw that Jesus had gone to be a guest with Zacchaeus, they complained that Jesus had gone to be with a man who was a sinner (v. 7). Their perception of him was that he was not an upstanding righteous man for the reasons stated above. But, if you could have asked them what they thought about the rich young ruler, they would have said, “that man is a righteous man because he was wealthy, which is a sign that God had blessed him (according to their view).” Since he was a Jewish ruler, he was an upstanding synagogue attendee and kept the commandments. But when esus saw that he refused to part with his god, He became very sorrowful, and said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

This story of Zacchaeus answers the point Jesus made in the story of the rich young ruler about the impossibility of a rich person entering heaven. Zacchaeus was a sinner and needed to be saved. He too, was rich and Jesus saved that man because all things are possible with God. All of us are like Zacchaeus, sinners needing to be saved. This is true of everyone apart from Jesus Christ and the gospel (Rom. 3:23). Even though our sins may not be an inordinate love of money, or illegal business dealings, etc., we have all sinned and were separated from God because of the sins of which we were guilty (Isa. 59:1-2).

Zacchaeus, however, was so affected by Jesus going home with him, that he stood up and declared, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (v. 8). And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The expression, “a son of Abraham” (verse 9)—is a reference to Zacchaeus’ faith, because those who have the faith of Abraham can truly be called the sons of Abraham (Gal. 3:7). Paul wrote that all who walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had are his sons (Rom. 4:1-12). Zacchaeus displayed his repentance and sorrow over sin by vowing to repay anyone who claimed that he had been defrauded. By God’s miraculous grace He was sorry for the crimes he had committed against God and men.

“The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The Son of God was born – he became incarnate – for the specific purpose of seeking and saving people like Zacchaeus. His work didn’t end when they crucified Him, and He is still seeking and saving men all over the world. Have you allowed Christ to save you?

 

By Guy Roberson

 

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6-25-2019 Walking in Truth Devotional update by Guy Roberson

Walking in Truth Devotional Update

Jesus Heals the Blind Beggar

 (Mat 20:29-34; Mk 10:46-50; Lk 18:35-43)

Guy Roberson

Mark informs us that this blind beggar was named Bartimaeus. This is truly another of the great works of Jesus and proves again that He had power over all nature.

Again, we have some variation in the three accounts. Matthew and Mark report that the incident took place as Jesus was going out of Jericho, but Luke tells us that it took place as Jesus was approaching Jericho. Matthew was there personally; Mark got his story from Peter, who was there; and Luke carefully researched his account from eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4). Beggars would often be found at the city gate where people are passing in and out.

Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem, with a great multitude following Him, came near to Jericho when this blind beggar called out to Him, when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” He apparently believed that Jesus was the Messiah, and that He could heal blindness. When instructed by the multitude that he should be quiet he cried out more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Apparently, this beggar had faith that the Son of David would grant his request. “Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied” (18:40-42). One of the great characteristics of Jesus was His compassion. As any human being struggling with the temptations of life, I am so impressed with my Lord’s warmth and compassion. This blind beggar must have been touched with it as well as Jesus stopped and spoke with him.

Why did Jesus ask him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Obviously, Jesus knew what he wanted. Some have suggested that Jesus wanted him to energize faith and cause it to be vocalized, or to help the person himself determine what he wanted from Jesus. The only parallel is at the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus asks the paralyzed man, “Do you want to get well? Notice that Jesus said to the blind beggar, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God (v. 43). Because Bartimaeus believed and put his faith in Jesus, he received his sight back.

Perhaps we should learn from this great story that our faith should appeal to God based on mercy and not merit. In truth, all mankind is like this blind man. Satan has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory

 

By Guy Roberson

 

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6-18-2019 Walking In Truth Devotional Update; by Guy Roberson

Walking in Truth Devotional Update

The Parable of the Vineyard

(Mat 20:1-16)

Guy Roberson

The disciples had asked the Lord a question, which indicated a misunderstanding on their part about the rewards that God had promised them in the kingdom.  Jesus tells the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) in response to Peter’s question in Matthew 19:27: “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Peter wanted to know what reward would be given to those who give up everything to follow Jesus. In response, Jesus explains this truth about the kingdom of heaven.  This parable speaks of rewards. It also speaks of God’s sovereignty that allows Him to give rewards according to His own perfect will.
A landowner needed to hire day laborers to work in his fields, and so he went to what we would call the labor pool and hired several workers. He agreed to pay these workers the standard wage – a denarius a day. A denarius was a typical day’s wage for a soldier or a day laborer in the time of the Lord Jesus. Needing more help, he made several more trips to the labor pool, hiring additional workers. But to these workers, he gave no specific commitment. He did not tell them what he would pay, only that he would do “whatever is right.” The last group of workers was hired one hour before the workday ended. The landowner made no specific commitment to them about how much they were to receive.
And when pay time came at the end of the day, the land owner ordered those who came last to be paid first.  That was important for those who went first to work in the vineyard so what they would be paid.  Normally, we would expect the first workers to be paid and each group in the order in which they went to work.  We learn that the way God gives blessings, is different from the way we give blessings and wages, by the very fact that He has those who go out last, paid first.  The second thing that we learn is that all the men are paid the same thing. Those who had worked nine hours, are paid the same as those who had worked twelve hours.  Those who had worked three hours are paid the same as those who worked twelve hours.  Those who had worked one hour were paid the same as those who had worked twelve hours.  Jesus is teaching us the way God’s blessings work and illustrates the principle that “the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matt. 19:30 and Matt. 20:16).  The most direct interpretation, based on the content of the parable, is that all believers, no matter how long or how hard they work during their lifetime, will receive the same basic reward: eternal life. The thief on the cross (Luke 23:39–43), whose life of service was limited to a moment of repentance and confession of faith in Christ, received the same reward of eternal life as did Timothy, who served God for years. The ultimate reward of eternal life will be given to all equally, on the basis of God’s grace in Christ Jesus, regardless how long and how much one may accomplish as a servant of the Lord.
One of the serious mistakes made was the fact that the ones who went first to work in the vineyard did not recognize the sovereign rights of the owner.  “These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.” He gave them exactly what he told them he would give by contract, and he simply decided to be generous with the other men, and yet, they did not recognize his right to do that.  Jesus doesn’t want His disciples to be characterized by the attitude that God has shortchanged us.  We must not think that we must earn the blessings from God.  Rather, we should have a sincere desire to please Him.  Furthermore, we must not be bitter about the things God may do for others but withholds from us.  Every Christian is blessed beyond measure with everything we need to serve and be faithful to our Lord and in the end we will all receive heaven and all of the glories of the throne room of God.  How could we ask for more?

 

by Guy Roberson

 

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6-11-2019 Walking in Truth Devotional Update; Guy Roberson

Walking in Truth Devotional Update

May I Sit at Your Right Hand?

Matt. 20:20-28; Mk. 10:35-45

Guy Roberson

As a parent, I can appreciate the mother of James and John asking Jesus to allow her sons to sit on either side of Him when He came into His kingdom. She wanted the best for them as any loving parent wants for his/her children.
However, some have suggested that Matthew and Mark contradicted each other since Matthew tells us that it was the mother of James and John that asked Jesus, while Mark mentioned only that James and John asked Jesus.
It is often said that the Gospel accounts are not contradictory, but complementary and this is another example, I believe. It is possible that Matthew and Mark simply recorded the same event but focused on different individuals. It is possible also that James and John approached Jesus with their mother to ask such an important question. The fact that the discussion between Jesus and the two brothers following the initial question is virtually identical in both books, there is no contradiction.
This story reminds us of the argument the disciples had regarding who would be the “greatest” (Mark 9:34). Apparently, they didn’t learn anything from the Lord’s teaching at that time, because here two disciples are again concerned about greatness in the kingdom of the Lord. However, there was a third time (Luke 22:24). Upon that occasion Jesus taught humility and service and the key to greatness in His kingdom by washing the feet of His disciples (John 13:4-17). Here is something wonderful. Jesus, God the Word, in heaven left all of that to come to earth to serve the needs of mankind through suffering and death.
Whether we like to admit it or not, this problem is seen over and over among God’s people today. Do you remember the game we use to play as children called, “king of the hill”? Somebody would occupy a position and the rest would try to knock or push him/her off and take the position to be king. Well we find such attitudes in the church. It may be an elder, preacher, deacon or some member who is rich or someone with a great education. In 67 years of preaching I have seen it all, I think. But, one of the things I have enjoyed about the Walnut Street church is the lack of any such efforts to either promote or seek such greatness. Along with three excellent elders and deacons we have brethren from every walk of life, and it is a real joy to see how the brethren work together and assist one another and strive for the glory of God.
Back to our study, James and John did not ask to be servants but for honor and position of power. Jesus asked the disciples “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” He questions them as to whether they realized the high price that would have to be paid to be counted worthy of the position they were seeking. They will have to be able to “drink the cup” that Jesus was about to drink. So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.” Jesus is completely submissive to the Father and will not usurp the divine order in any way. This is also a reminder that all that we get from God is according to His grace.
When the other disciples heard about the request of James and John they were indignant concerning the two brothers because they saw them seeking an advantage over them. I am not sure the others were not as guilty. “But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Jesus does not require more than he is willing to give. He modeled service and sacrifice from cradle to grave. While in the form of God, he “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:5-8). This is the great lesson we must all learn.
What are you striving for in the Kingdom of the Lord, the greatest Kingdom in all the history of mankind?

 

Guy Roberson

 

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6-4-2019 Walking in Truth Devotional Update by Guy Roberson

Walking in Truth Devotional Update

Jesus Foretells His Death for the Third Time

(Mat 20:17-19; Mk 10:32-34; Lk 18:31-34)
Guy Roberson

“Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” (Matt. 20:17-19)
Jesus continued to instruct his disciples, emphasizing, yet again, the reality of his impending death.  To his earlier announcements [16:21; 17:22-23], he added the detail that he would be handed over to the Gentiles who would ridicule, scourge and crucify him.   Jesus sets forth the details of four striking experiences that He is going to undergo in Jerusalem. He is going to be betrayed, He would be ill-treated by the Jewish authorities, those who are the spiritual leaders of God’s people are going to treat Him wrongly. He is going to be handed over to the Gentiles to be crucified. And He is going to be raised again.
“This he said in the hearing of the disciple who would act the traitor: did no compunction visit his base heart?” (Spurgeon) But, Luke said, they understood none of these things; that is, surely, they believed none of them, the saying was hid from them.
This was a picture of great suffering:  Suffering from the disloyalty of Judas, suffering from injustice, suffering from deliberate insult, suffering from tremendous pain, and suffering from great humiliation and degradation.  However, He would rise the third day, spend some time teaching His disciples and then ascend to heaven for His coronation as King of kings and Lord of lords.
How can we ever thank our Father in heaven, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit sufficiently for everything they did to provide salvation and the promise of eternal life?

 

Guy Roberson

 

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Walking in Truth Devotional Update; by Guy Roberson 5-28-2019

Walking in Truth Devotional Update

Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler

(Mat 19:16-22; Mk 10:17-22; Lk 18:18-24)

Guy Roberson

This story is about a young man who was an important and powerful person because he was referred to as a certain ruler (Lk. 18:18 NKJV) which was a considerable accomplishment. Furthermore, he was one who owned much property (very rich, Lk. 18:23). Therefore, we could describe him as a young, powerful, and wealthy man. There is also another thing that stands out about this man: He was able to say that, from his youth, he kept the commandments of the law of God. This reminds us of the statement by Paul: “concerning the righteousness which is in the law”, he was “blameless” (Phil. 3:6).

However, even though he was young, rich and powerful as far as this world was concerned, he was troubled and went to Jesus for help. He recognized that he did not have eternal life because he asked: “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” This question ought to be on the heart and mind of every person in the world in every generation. There is absolutely nothing more important than being saved and having the promise of eternal life. This important young man believed that Jesus could answer his question, or he would not have gone to Him. So, he is to be commended for recognizing that Jesus could answer his question. Even though he went to Jesus and referred to Him as “Good Teacher”; it seems that he only recognized Jesus as a man and not God. Jesus then forced him to come to terms about who Jesus really is by asking him “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” The word “good” in both verses 18 and 19 is Greek agathos, “pertaining to meeting a high standard of worth and merit, ‘good.’ Do you remember the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well? Jesus said to the woman Sychar, “If you knew … who it is that asks you for a drink….” (John 4:10). Jesus was trying to get her to recognize Him and I believe that is what Jesus was doing for this young man.

Jesus proceeded to tell the young man to keep the commandments and he replied that “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” With the ability to see into his heart Jesus could see that the man had made his riches his god and served them. “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Jesus was putting his finger on that which the man loved more than God. He loved his success and wealth so much that he was breaking the first commandment in which God says, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).

This was not something new. Jesus had said, “No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matt. 6:24). God had said, “You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me” (Exod. 20:3-5). What Jesus told this rich young ruler was because he loved his wealth more than God. The answer Jesus would give to anyone would be the same regarding whatever the god may be, not necessarily wealth. Wealth is not wrong within itself. What is wrong is any thing we worship more than God.

May I ask each one of us the following: If Jesus spoke to us as He did to this young man could He put His finger on something in our heart and life that is keeping us from serving God wholeheartedly? If so, may the Lord help us to get rid of it and put Him first every day we live in this world so we may go to heaven and enjoy eternal life.

 

By Guy Roberson

 

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5-21-2019 Walking in Truth Devotional Update By Guy Roberson

 

Walking in Truth Devotional Update

Let the Little Children Come to Me

(Mat 19:13-15; Mk 10:13-16; Lk 18:15-17)

Guy Roberson

“Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there” (Matt. 19:13-15).

Jesus always seemed to have a crowd around Him. People wanted to be close and to touch Him and be touched by Him, hoping for a blessing. Not only were the adults always around Jesus they were also bringing their children. Luke tells us they even brought their infants to Him.

Little children are to learn about God, love God, and as they grow, they should be taught to do God’s work on earth. Little ones come to parents from God and parents should see themselves as caretakers of these precious gifts. It is the responsibility of parents to not only provide for them but to teach them about God and help them to achieve their purpose in life. That means that we must learn to find the time necessary to give them all the support and guidance to grow as Jesus did: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).

Jesus taught us a very important lesson about the nature of little children when He said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus doesn’t say that the Kingdom belongs to little children or that they are already in the Kingdom. He says that those who inherit or possess the kingdom will be “like” these children. Jesus was speaking of the characteristics of children that must characterize those entering the kingdom. Qualities like innocence, openness, trust, receptivity and humility. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:17).

These passages show clearly that babies are not born in sin as many teach. If children are born in sin, then Jesus is telling us that one must become sinful to enter the kingdom which is foolishness. Paul declared that none who are unclean can enter the kingdom of heaven (Ephesians 5:5). The Bible teaches that children do not bear the sin of their parents (Exodus 32:32-33; Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chronicles 25:4; Jeremiah 31:30; Ezekiel 18:20). The Bible is clear: sin is not inherited. No baby has ever been born bearing the guilt of Adam’s sin. No one bears the responsibility for Adam’s sin but Adam himself.

May the day hasten when adults love and care for little children as they deserve and as God commands.

 

 

By Guy Roberson

 

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5-14-2019 Walking in Truth Devotional update by Guy Roberson

Walking in Truth Devotional Update

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

(Luke 18:9-14)

Guy Roberson

 

Jesus was making His way to Jerusalem—the place where everything written about the Son of Man would be accomplished (Luke 18:31-33). Jesus had been teaching that men ought to pray and not lose heart and had just related a story about the efforts of a widow to get justice from her adversary in verses 1-8.

Our text concerns the character flaw found so often in many of us regarding trusting in ourselves while despising others (v. 1). The word “despised” means “to count as nothing,” and describes the religious egotism the Pharisees repulsively personified.

Are you that kind of person? Do you think you’re a good person? Are you confident that you are better than others? If you think the thing that separates you from other people is that there is some goodness in you that is not in them, you will become prideful, contemptuous and arrogant. But if you think that the only thing that separates you from those who are justly under the judgment of God is not in you but in God’s mercy, it will make you tender and humble.

This parable illustrates two different men, the Pharisee and the tax collector (publican), with two different attitudes: self-righteousness and humility who went to the temple to pray.

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Jesus then said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

There were some similarities of these men: Both wanted to stand before God, both approached God in the Temple, a place set apart for prayer. Both wanted to enter God’s holy presence. Both had a measure of self-knowledge that they were bringing to their prayers and both came with the intention to pray.

It isn’t that the Pharisee was speaking falsely, for everything he said was true. His fault was that he missed the true nature of his blessing. As Luke states in his introductory sentence, he trusted in himself. He located his righteousness entirely in his own actions and being. Look at what was missing: There was no sense of sin or need whatsoever in this prayer. There is not the slightest sense that this man has anything that he needs to be forgiven for.

The tax collector had no means to claim righteousness. He had done nothing of merit and had broken many commands of the law and therefore, threw himself on the mercy of the Lord praying, “‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!”. There is the presence of humility and the presence of God-focused trust. Do you remember David’s prayer for his sins regarding Bathsheba? “Be gracious to me, O God, because of Your loving-kindness.”

That is why Jesus said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The world says, promote yourself, look out for #1. God says, humble yourself, seek Me first. This tax collector’s prayer should be our prayer because we all need God’s mercy every day. Don’t let pride in your achievements cut you off from God.

 

By Guy Roberson

 

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5-7-2019 Walking in Truth Devotional Update by Guy Roberson

Walking in Truth Devotional Update

Jesus Teaches the Pharisees About the Kingdom

(Lk 17:20-37)

Guy Roberson

The Pharisees asked when the kingdom of God would come. John the Baptizer had been proclaiming that the kingdom of God was near. Jesus had also been repeatedly teaching the nearness of the coming of the kingdom of God. Luke has emphasized this truth in several places throughout this gospel.

Since the kingdom of God was near, the Pharisees wanted to know when this kingdom would come. Jesus answered this question in two sections, first to the Pharisees and second to his disciples.

The Pharisees believed the kingdom would come with great signs, but Jesus countered this view pointing to the fact that the kingdom would not come as they were thinking.

“The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Jesus was not telling the Pharisees that the kingdom of God was within them. Jesus had taught over and over that the Pharisees were not in the kingdom. Who was in their midst? Jesus was in their midst, the King of Israel. Recall what Jesus said in Luke 11:20. If Jesus casts out demons by the power of God, then the kingdom of God had come upon them. What is Jesus’ point? The kingdom (the rule and reign of God) was already working in their very midst. The rule and reign of God was working through Jesus. The kingdom was arriving, and the king was in their very presence. There was no need to look around all over the place for the kingdom. The kingdom is seen in Jesus.

In verses 22-37 Jesus was teaching His disciples about the coming judgement on Jerusalem. Many have tried to make this section teach about the final judgment of all men, but that is incorrect, and the context shows that fallacy clearly. Jesus described that event as one that would not be hidden.

Before the days of the Son of Man can arrive, He will experience suffering and rejection.by this generation. “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

Observe that Jesus pointed out that “he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise, the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.”

In the final judgment there will be no where to run as the earth will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10-11) and every soul will be rushed before the final judgment. There will not be one left while the other is taken. Everyone will stand before the Lord in final judgment and give an account, as the scriptures teach (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Notice now verse 37 as Jesus gives the final description: “So He said to them, “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” In the destruction of Jerusalem there were dead bodies everywhere and the vulture were circling and gathering for their meals because of so many dead bodies. That will not the picture in the final judgment because everyone will be taken before the Judgment seat of Christ with the world having been destroyed.

The Jewish nation was being judged for their sins and their rejection of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords and God brought the Roman army against Jerusalem and destroyed the city and millions were killed.

 

By Guy Roberson

 

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