John T. Willis

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Making good decisions are always important through life. At every juncture in life at whatever age, we all encounter several choices, and many of these choices are good. God wants us to make the BEST choices. Below are a few passages which remind us of making BETTER choices.

1. The choice of a spouse. Genesis 29:19.
When Jacob fled from Esau and lived in Padan-Aram, he met Rachel, the daughter of Laban, and told Laban that he loved Rachel and wanted to marry her. Laban responded in Genesis 29:19:
"It is BETTER that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man."
Choosing a lifetime partner is very, very, very important. Each person needs to pray, take time, learn the potential partner as well as possible, and seek counsel from wise people to make the best choice. This makes for a happy, productive life.

2. The choice of the place where one should live. Numbers 14:3.
When the ten spies who had gone to survey the land of Canaan and give a bad report, the Israelites responded that they wanted to go back to Egypt where they had lived in slavery for 450 years. Their words are:
"Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become booty; would it not be BETTER for us to go back to Egypt?" (Numbers 14:2-3).
It is very important to make good choices to live in a place where YOU can serve God the best. One should seek the Lord in prayer, seek good counselors, spend time to weigh the options, learn the culture into which YOU are entering, and constantly pay attention to clues of divine guidance.

3. The choice between performing correct external religious acts and obeying God's commands. 1 Samuel 15:22.
Yahweh through Samuel commanded king Saul of Israel to utterly destroy the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:1-9) because the Amalekites attacked the Israelites on their way from the Red Sea to Mount Sinai (Exodus 17:8-16). Rather than obeying Yahweh, Saul took things into his own hands: he spared the king of the Amalekites and he spared the best sheep and cattle among the Amalekites alleged to kill them as sacrifices to Yahweh.
It is ALWAYS much easier to perform external religious acts such as singing, praying, fasting, preaching, partaking of the Lord's Supper, submitting to baptism, etc., than to obey God's commandments such as worshipping and serving Yahweh alone, avoiding and opposing the use of images or idols, refraining from taking God's name in vain, keeping the Sabbath, honoring one's father and mother, etc.
Yahweh through Samuel declared to Saul:
"Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Surely, to obey is BETTER than sacrifice,
and to heed than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15:22).

4. The choice between arrogance or self-importance and humility or service.
Proverbs 12:9: "BETTER to be despised and have a servant
than to be self-important and lack food."

Proverbs 16:19: "It is BETTER to be of a lowly spirit among the poor
then to divide the spoil with the proud."

Proverbs 25:7: "It is BETTER to be told, 'Come up here"
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble."

5. The choice between wealth or success and a genuine heart or godly life.
Proverbs 15:16: "BETTER is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it."

Proverbs 16:8: "BETTER is a little with righteousness
than large income with injustice."

Proverbs 28:6: "BETTER to be poor and walk in integrity
than to be crooked in one's ways even though rich."

These texts immediately remind each one of us about experiences which have affected our lives. Meditate on these and similar texts throughout scripture.

Share YOUR needs and failures and anticipations and ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jesus and the Sinful Woman--Luke 7:36-50

In the next paragraph, Luke relates an event that took place in a private home. But the purpose of this paragraph is to teach the nature of true religion. True religion is not limited to certain acts that occur in a church building or worship assembly. Rather, the essence of true religion is one's attitude toward God and his fellow human beings. The concern of this paragrph is people, not abstract rules that have no relationship to people. Religion that does not have personal concerns and relationships at its center is a religion different from the religion portrayed in the Bible. Jesus is the fullest revelation of God that has ever been given. Thus, when he reveals his feelings toward people and their attitudes, one can rest assured that such feelings characterize God himself, and that to be like God one must develop such feelings. This paragraph appears in Luke 7:36-50.

I. The Attitude of Simon.
a. Simon invited Jesus to eat with him in his own home--7:36. But one must ask: Why did Simon invite Jesus to come to his home?
1. It could be that Simon had heard conflicting reports about Jesus, and wanted to find out for himself what king of person Jesus really was. 7:39 seems to suggest this idea when Simon concludes that Jesus is not a prophet or else Jesus would not have associated with this sinful woman.
2. It could be that Simon had heard Jesus teach, was fascinated by what he said, and wanted to hear more--Simon calls Jesus "Teacher." 7:41.
3. It could be that Simon knew that Jesus was becoming popular among the people, and he felt he could enhance his own popularity by inviting Jesus into his home for a meal. 7:37 indicates that the word got out that Simon had invited Jesus into his home, and its seems likely that Simon was anxious that the word get out. This would explain why Simon was upset when the adulterous woman cam and began to wash Jesus' feet.
4. It could be that Simon knew that Jesus had been condemning certain Pharisees, and he wanted to shame Jesus by showing him that Pharisees were not such bad people after all.
b. Simon did not welcome Jesus as an ordinary guest. He seems to have thought that Jesus would have to prove his worth before he would receive him into his home as a normal guest. He seems to ahve regarded Jesus was inferior to Simon, ro to say the least suspect.
1. Simon should have washed Jesus' feet, but he did not. 7:44.
2. Simon should have greeted Jesus with a kiss, but he did not. 7:45.
3. Simon should have anointed Jesus' head with oil to refresh and perfume him, but he did not. 7:46.
c. Simon's attitude toward the adulterous woman.
1. Simon condemned the adulterous woman because she was of a lower stratus of society than himself according to his thinking. Since Jesus was not a Pharisee, the Pharisees categorized him as a sinner--see John 9:16, 24-29.
2. Simon judged the adulterous woman on the basis of her reputation, and made no attempt to help her, or to understand why she became a harlot, or to talk with her to find out what she was really like. He was quick to think evil or her and to judge her on the basis of what others said about her.
3. Simon judges the adulterous woman on the basis of her past life, and made no effort to understand her present feelings or her future aspirations and resolutions.

II. The Attitude of Jesus.
A. Jesus' attitude toward the adulterous woman.
1. Jesus knew that the adulterous woman was a sinner, and that she was ten times worse a sinner than Simon. 7:41, 47.
2. Jesus also knew that the adulterous woman was a person who was capable of loving another person greatly. She made this clear by the trouble she went to come to Simon's house when she found out that Jesus was there, by bringing an alabaster flask of ointment (which was very expensive), and by washing Jesus's feet, giving him the kiss of greeting, and anointing him with oil. Jesus took note of all the "little" deeds of kindness she demonstrated. 7:37-38.
3. Jesus also knew that the adulterous woman was a person who was ashamed of her past, who simply believed that Jesus was the Son of God without having to be shown this by many proofs, and who wanted to become a better person. 7:50.

B. Jesus' attitude toward Simon.
1. Since Jesus knew all human beings (John 2:24-25), he must have known that Simon was a hypocrite and a critic of others before he went to his house. But he accepted the invitation, because he saw an opportunity to help this man. 7:36.
2. Jesus knew that Simon was a sinner, just like the adulterous woman. 7:41-43
a. By referring to the adulterous woman as a sinner, apparently Simon was trying to make himself look good. 7:39.
b. But when a human being sins against God, one is hardly more attractive because that person can boast of having only 1,000 sins when his fellow human beings have 10,000 sins. The point is that no one is in a position to boast of his goodness, because all of us are guilty and deserve to be destroyed. See Proverbs
20:9; Psalm 130:3-4.
3. Jesus also knew that if Simon was ever to be saved, it would have to be by the mercy of God, and by God's forgiveness. The only way for Simon to be saved is for God not to deal with him as he deserved. 7:41-43, 47.
4. Jesus also knew that Simon was trying to put on an outward show of righteousness, and therefore it would be much harder for him to admit his sins and accept God's forgiveness than the adulterous woman. Religious pride is one of the most powerful deterrents to becoming a true Christian.

III. The attitude of the adulterous woman.
A. The attitude of the adulterous woman toward Simon.
1. Apparently the adulterous woman had no ill-will toward Simon, as he did toward her. She probably felt it would have been a sin for her to think badly toward a "leader" of God's people.
2. The adulterous woman also felt very uncomfortable around Simon, because she could sense how he felt about her. 7:39.
3. The adulterous woman probably yearned for a man like Simon to help her get out of the mess that she had gotten herself into. She felt helpless and alone.

B. The attitude of the adulterous woman toward Jesus.
1. Even though the adulterous woman felt uncomfortable around Simon, she wanted to show her love to Jesus so badly that she sneaked into Simon's house, perhaps hoping he would not notice her in the crowd--7:39.
2. The adulterous woman did not approach Jesus presumptuously, but in the most condescending way she knew. She came up behind him, as a slave or a very lowly person. 7:38.
3. The adulterous woman gave Jesus all the love she could muster without any ulterior motive to receive something in return. 7:38, 44-48.
4. Thus, Jesus gave the adulterous woman the greatest gift of all--mercy and forgiveness. And when he did this, he caught the attention of the other guests. They asked, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" The answer has to be: He is God. 7:49.

What a powerful text. What a powerful message. Meditate on this message daily.

Share YOUR insights and thoughts and concerns and fears with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis