Memphis Belle

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“And one of the Scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, ‘Which is the first commandment of all?’ Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One Lord: and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment.’” This is what it’s all about-“And the second is namely this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’ And the Scribe said to him, ‘Well said, teacher, you have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but he, and to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the soul and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ But after that no one dared to question him” (Mark 12:28-34). He says, ‘Now here’s a guy who’s getting kind of close. Here’s a guy who’s starting to clue into a little bit of what the kingdom of God is about and what I’m looking for. He says ‘You’re not far from it.’ Hopefully this guy made it. But the guy agreed, he says, ‘You know what’s the greatest commandments?’ Jesus said, ‘This is what it’s all about, this is the greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, all your thoughts, all your passions and with all your strength, all your energies, you are to love God-that’s the greatest commandment. And from that comes the next one, that you love your neighbor as yourself. That’s just gonna naturally result. Of course, as we’ve seen, being a servant like Jesus, that’s the kingdom of God [that’s the heart and core of the kingdom of God. The physical aspect of the kingdom of God comes to earth in several stages, shown in Revelation chapters 19, 20 and 21.]. And again that’s what God desires from you and I today. It’s about love, man. That’s the greatest commandment.

Verses 35-37, “Then Jesus answered and said while he taught in the temple, ‘How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David, for David himself said by the Holy Spirit, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies my footstool.’ Therefore David himself calls him Lord. How is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.” They of course, as we’ve seen, they looked for the Messiah, the son of David. They understood the promise that God made to David that the Messiah was coming, one of his descendants, and Jesus is just playing with them here, also trying to show a truth to them if they’re willing to receive it. It’s just ‘Now you say that the Messiah is the son of David.’ He doesn’t’ deny it. It’s true. But he says, ‘How does this work out? David said to the Messiah, he said, the Lord said to my Lord, to the Messiah, he said in the spirit, sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool.’ He called his descendant his Lord. Now how’s that gonna work out? And the people that are listening are like, “Cool.” They just really enjoyed some of Jesus’ teaching. The Pharisees and Scribes and Sadducees were just baffled at this. But of course, the way it worked out is that Jesus is the Messiah, is the son of David, but we realize from the gospels that Mary, she was, became pregnant by the Holy Spirit and had Jesus, who was man, descended from David [through Mary], but he was also God, he was Divine [log onto: CLICK HERE] So that’s how David could say this to his descendant and call him Lord.

Verse 38, “Then he said to them in his teaching, ‘Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the market places, the best seats in the synagogues, the best places at feasts, who devour widows houses and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” You know, when I read this, I can’t help but think of this book that I have at home called “The Fifty Years in the Church of Rome.” And the book starts right off, it’s a big book, and to be honest with you, I’ve never read to the end of the book. But I read enough to remember this story. The book starts out with this young boy, who’s the author of this book. He’s referring back to when he was young. Just the vivid memory of being at home the day after his father died. And his mom and brothers and sisters were in great distress living on a little farm in Canada and dad has died, and you can only imagine. But who shows up at the door but a priest, and the priest came to the mother and said, “Hey, you know, you need to pay me some money, if you’re gonna get your husband out of purgatory.” And she’s like, “I don’t have any money. My husband’s died, I’ve got kids to feed.” He says, “Well, your husband, he’s not in a good place, and you’re gonna pay me some money.” [My thought at this point would have been somewhat along the lines, “Where’s that shotgun of dad’s?”…But it gets better. Read on.] And this man refers back to this vivid memory. [In the church history section under the title “History of the Sabbatarian Church from Jerusalem to Oregon” you read of this same Greco-Roman church that supplanted the early Judeo-Christians and Quartodecimen Christians of Asia Minor.] And the priest looked around and said “Who’s cow is that?” And they had one cow. And she said, “That’s our cow, it’s all we’ve got. It’s the only way I’m gonna provide for these kids.” He said, “Well, you don’t have any money, tell you what, I’m gonna take your cow.” So this man referred back to being a young boy in Canada and watching mom and the kids looking out the window as the priest walked away with the only cow they had. And that’s what Jesus says is these guy’s hearts here, man-they like the robe, they like the greetings in the marketplaces, they like the best places-but they’ll devour a widow, take her home. Their hearts are so rotten, so evil. We’re told in 1 Corinthians 13, that love does not parade itself, and love is not puffed up. And love doesn’t envy, it’s just humble. It’s just not self-seeking, desires to bless. I hope that’s our hearts this morning. I hope God comes and says, ‘Man, this group, this congregation here, they’re just full of love. Look at the love, man. Look at their thoughts, even. They’re just filled with good thoughts.’

Verse 41-44, “Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury, and saw how people put money into the treasury, and many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites (which makes a quadrance). So he called his disciples to himself and said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury. For they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.’” So as they’re standing there, let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 13, and we’ll just kind of conclude with that. But as they were standing there Jesus points out this elderly lady. The religious people, as we understand, are coming by and they’re just emptying their golden coin there, and the wealthy are making sure that it’s noticed, that people understand that they’re giving, you know, thousands of gold coins, yet it really doesn’t do anything to their bank account, they have a lot more. But here this elderly lady comes up, and no one really noticed. She puts in two copper coins. These copper coins are very thin, they’re worth very little. The total value is about a fifth or two-fifths of a penny. That’s how much she put in there. But she put in everything. And she did it “As unto the Lord.” She said, “Well, this will buy me some grain today, and I need to eat, but man I just love God. I’m gonna put these two in there, and I’m gonna trust the Lord for my provision.” And she dumped them in there, and Jesus said, ‘Now that, that’s what it’s all about, man. That’s beautiful, all that she’s put in there. These other folks, they haven’t given at all, there’s no love there, there’s no sacrifice and service from the heart. But she’s clued in.’

“Love does not seek it’s own, but it seeks the good of others.” Let’s conclude as we read 1 Corinthians 13. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love [agape], I become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long, and is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” I’m so thankful that God’s love never fails. “…but whether there are prophecies, they will fail, whether there are tongues, they will cease, whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly [some translate, “through a darkened glass”], but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also know. And now abides faith, hope and love [agape], these three, but the greatest of these is love [agape]” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). I just felt the desire today just to exhort us again, God comes to our lives and he looks for fruit, and it can be summarized in one general term-love [agape love].”

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