Deceitful Kisses

In Matthew 26:48-49 we read of the sign that Judas gave by which Jesus would be identified for those who would come to arrest Him.  Judas would betray the Lord of Glory with a kiss.  But as we read verses 48-49 the Holy Spirit tells us that it wasn’t just a kiss, it was a kiss that was cruelly deceitful.

Matthew 26:48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.

ESV

 

The word “kiss” in verse 48 is the word phileo.  It is a word for the love of friendship and it was also used to speak of displays of that kind of love.  But when it says in verse 49 that Judas “kissed” Him, it is a different word.  It is the word kataphileo.  It means to “kiss with fervency”, or it can mean “to kiss much, to kiss again and again.”

Judas not only betrayed the Son of God, he betrayed the son of God in a mock display of fervent friendship.

It brings to mind a warning in the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

ESV

 

Profuse, or “excessive” are the kisses of an enemy.  A friend would wound you when an enemy will flatter you.

A couple of thoughts come to mind in the way of application.

1.  Beware flattery.  It is the sign of false teachers to flatter people in order to gain advantage.  Be real.  Be kind and loving, yes, but let it be genuine and let it be toward all. 

2.  Beware those who flatter.  If someone is guilty of flattery it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a Judas.  We all have areas in our personalities and character that the Lord is refining and correcting and transforming.  People can struggle with this for different reasons.  Sometimes it is insecurity and just the desire to be liked.  Regardless, however, God’s word never warns for no reason.  Realize that kisses aren’t always coming from friends and be wise in your conduct and with your words.

3.  Let us be faithful to wound.  I didn’t say “let’s be hateful”.  What I am saying is that where love would wound then we must be faithful to love.  We must speak the truth in love and that includes timely correction.

4. Let us appreciate the wounds of friends.  Are you defensive?  Can no one correct you?  Are you teachable?  Are you grateful for those who love you enough to help you?

May God keep us from deceitful kisses.

By His Grace and for His Glory,

Richard

Seeker Sensitive

It is common to hear the term “seekers” in today’s evangelicalism.  Services are designed for “seekers”, strategies are birthed for reaching “seekers”, and it seems that you have done well if you have pleased and attracted “seekers”.

There are two major problems with this thinking.

1.  The Bible doesn’t describe the natural man as a seeker.  In fact, what should be startling to some is the Bible straightforwardly states just the opposite.

NAURomans 3:11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD

2.  The second major problem, in my view, is if the church is to be designed for “seekers” then “seekers” become the audience we seek to please.  The seeker becomes sovereign.  When we are done with our surveys (what do you want in a church?), and done with our strategizing, at the end of the day we have to ask who it is we are really seeking to please?  The honest answer would have to be “the people we are seeking to attract.”

It only takes a cursory reading of the Bible to know that that is wrong.  The church doesn’t exist to please men, the church exists to please God.  We don’t aim our services, and especially don’t aim our preaching, at pleasing men, but rather we seek to please the one who seeks and saves the lost.

 

ESVGalatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant1 of Christ.

This leads to my final thought.  I really do believe that we should be seeker sensitive.  I really believe that we should strive to please the seeker.  The problem in our thinking, however, is that we have missed the point as to who the seeker is.  There is only ONE real seeker.  Every other seeker, if they are truly a seeker, has been set on their search by THIS seeker.  Who is the seeker?  The seeker is Christ Himself.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

 

If we wish to focus on what matters most in the church, let us set our focus on pleasing the one who seeks and saves the lost.

By His Grace and For His Glory,

Richard

Biblical Sanctification

 

It is amazing to me how often we find ourselves heading down a road, not because we have been convinced of its rightness but only because it is a road with which we are familiar.  We have been taught a certain way, we have experienced a certain way and therefore we duplicate that way and treat it as gospel.

I think about this, this morning, in connection with the way that we seek to help believers grow in Christ.  I think about it in connection with what is often passed off as biblical Christianity, or a biblical approach to sanctification.

Let me get right to the point.  We have a seemingly endless number of books on the shelves of Christian book stores telling us how to organize and manage our lives “to the glory of God”.  We have books telling us how to communicate with our spouse.  We have books telling us how to shepherd our children.  We have books telling us how to get the most out of our friendships, and how to go about courting or dating.  We have books telling us how to manage our finances.  We have books telling us how to, how to, how to, how to.  You get the picture.

My question is, do you see the same emphasis in the New Testament?  I’m not trying to upset the apple cart, I’m asking for a moment of pause and reflection.  Is this really the approach that you see the New Testament writers taking? 

Is there some specific instruction found in the New Testament regarding these issues?  Absolutely.  But is it emphasized in the New Testament in the same proportion and to the same degree that it is emphasized in the endless 4-8 week sermon series that seem to be on a revolving platter?

As I look at the word of God I see a different emphasis.  I see an emphasis on GOD.  I see an emphasis on knowing Him.  I see an emphasis on THE GOSPEL.  I see an emphasis on SOUND DOCTRINE.  I see an emphasis on a right UNDERSTANDING OF THE CHURCH.  And I see these themes, and others like them, as being the main emphasis of the New Testament, and the practical details FLOWING OUT OF THIS BIG PICTURE.

To say it another way, we seem to want to begin with the details, with the practical, with the “how to”, and God’s word doesn’t begin where WE want to begin.  God’s word begins with the BIG PICTURE, with doctrine, with foundational truths, and only after we are established in those things will the writers move to talk about how it all practially works itself out.  But even then, the greatest time and space is given, not to the details, but to the large principles.  Why is that so?  Because the Holy Spirit will lead us in the application of truth if He is the one truly teaching us those truths.  He is a great teacher.  He never leaves it in the theoretical, philosophical realm.  He puts us in places, in positions, in situations where we are almost forced to come face to face with how the truth is put into practice.

Think about that today.  Think about what you are emphasizing in your preaching or in your learing, and then compare it with the New Testament emphasis.  Does it match?

By His grace and for His glory,

Richard

Monday Mornings

How do you feel preacher, on a Monday morning?  It’s not always the same, but as a pattern, here is how I feel.

I feel tired.  That is the first thing that I notice.  Sunday is behind me and there is much to reflect on.  I usually get in bed late on Sunday night because it is the time to unwind, reflect on the day, and spend some time with family.  Monday morning lets me know that a lot more energy is expended on a Sunday than most people are aware of.

I feel excited.  I’m ready to begin to dig into the new passages of scripture for the week.  This particular week I’m in the book of Jude Wednesday night, and then John 18 for Sunday morning and evening.  This week will be a week of discovery in the word of God and a week of preparing to bring 3 sermons for the people here at our church.

I feel dependent.  I know that apart from Christ we can do nothing and I also know that every single week there are important issues facing us as a church.  We watch for souls, and each soul is precious to God.  Every week there are relational issues to address.  Some weeks there are special visits to be made.  There are staff issues to deal with.  Every week brings something new, and apart from God’s grace none of us are sufficience for what we will face.

I feel thankful.  How blessed I am to be able to give my life to the ministry.  How blessed I am to be able to serve the Lord’s church.  How grateful I am that the Lord has given us such a great church here; a people who love Him and love us.

Just another Monday in the life of a shepherd.

Blessings,

Richard

The Example of Jude

Contending for the faith is not always pleasant, and it is not always our first choice, but it is a necessity.  The powerful little book of Jude is the result of necessity.  Jude wanted to write a letter in which he celebrated with us what we have together in the salvation that we have received in Christ.  Instead, because of the presence of dangerous men (vs.4), he was “compressed” to write the letter that we have.  Thank God for this inspired “redirection”.

As undershepherds we are called to contend for the faith.  We do it understanding the love that God has for His church, (“beloved”, vs.3), we do it understanding the urgency of watching for souls, (“I found it necessary” vs.3), and we do it with the confidence that God’s people are ultimately safe and God is able to keep them from stumbling. (vs.1-2, 24-25)

May God help us to be faithful in the task of fending off wolves.  Christ has told us that they are coming.  We are exhorted in multiple places to stay alert and to be courageous in the face of such attacks.  May God give great grace so that His shepherds will be faithful to the Chief Shepherd in such an important work.

By His Grace and for His Glory,

Richard

Shepherd to Shepherd

Friendship, we all need it. We especially appreciate friends who can identify with where we are, what we are facing and feeling, and with important decisions that we have to make. It is to that end that this blog exists. If you are an undersheperd to the Lord’s church, if you have been called to shepherd the sheep who belong to the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, then I am your friend and I trust you are mine.

We live in a world full of wolves and counterfeits when it comes to the care of the sheep. Paul warned the Ephesian elders against the wolves who were coming. (Acts 20) We find stern warnings and pronouncements of judgment against false teachers in 2 Peter and the book of Jude. To watch for souls (Hebrews 13:17) is no small task and no inconsequential calling. Indeed we will have to give an account for our faithfulness in this work.

We also realize that the chief shepherd is going to appear one day, and it is on that day that we will truly find out how we have done. We are not qualified to accurately judge ourselves, the Lord judges us. May we be found faithful!

It would be wonderful to be able to say that it is only the wolves that worry us and weary us, but the truth is that sheep are not always easy to care for. Some of our greatest disappointments in the ministry do not involve those who are easily identified as enemies of the cross. Some of our greatest disappointments and most painful wounds are inflicted by the Judas’ and Demas’ of the world. Those who are found in the church, those who have claimed to be our friends but who prove to be unfaithful.

My prayer is that this would be a place of encouragement, a place to be challenged, a place to interact with counsel, instruction and even correction. May every faithful shepherd who visits this blog find a friend here!

By His Grace and For His Glory,

Richard

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