Words of Faith 1-4-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Luke 19:47 - 20:8
Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him.  Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.
 One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him.  "Tell us by what authority you are doing these things," they said. "Who gave you this authority?"
 He replied, "I will also ask you a question. Tell me,  John's baptism was it from heaven, or from men?"
 They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Why didn't you believe him?'  But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us because they are persuaded that John was a prophet."
 So they answered, "We don't know where it was from."
 Jesus said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."
Jesus came to Jerusalem to make the payment for your sin and mine. He also came to confront the religion of the Temple. Jesus also confronts the religion in our own lives. How do we respond to build our relationship with Him?
We start every day. Every day he was teaching at the temple (Luke 19:47). Religion is usually on a schedule of once a week, once a month, three times a year, etc. Relationship is daily. If you love someone, you don't love them on a schedule. You don't love them with a ritual. You don't love them with rules because you have to do certain things. You love them daily. Jesus was demonstrating that a faith relationship will be daily.
There is only one way to defeat religion in your life: build a relationship with the Lord that is daily. Respond to His grace daily. Jesus wants to come down the Palm Sunday Road into your life and cleanse the Temple of your heart and then teach you daily in your Temple courts. How often? Every Sunday? Certainly. Wednesdays? Yep. But how about every day?
The text says that Jesus was teaching every day in the Temple courts. Jesus desires every day to sit with you. Spend time with you. Search the Scripture with you. Answer questions with you. To do that He must also daily cleanse you.
The cleansing of the Temple is an ongoing process. Don't you imagine that after Jesus drove out the pigeon vendors and the money changers that a few tried to set up shop again? They probably tried to sneak into a corner or behind a column. Pretty soon there would be a few more. I bet that Jesus had to go and have a talk with them again.
That is how Jesus is with our Temple courts. Every day He is there and notices a few of the old vendors are back. A couple of the old habits have returned. If you don't allow Him to deal with them, they will just accumulate. We need to allow Jesus to stroll daily through the courts of our Temple. Are there any thoughts or images that do not honor Him? Are there any actions that do not belong? Have we sold out to any concern that is not Godly? A neglected Temple is like a neglected house; it gets dirty fast.
Another way we respond is to involve ourselves with people. One day as he was teaching the people... [20:1] Religion is something you can do alone, but Jesus was with people. Relationship with God will draw us into relationship with people. Does that mean that we are never alone with God? Not at all. We know that Jesus began each morning alone with God in a secluded place. But a relationship with God will draw us nearer to people.
We engage the Word of God. One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel... [20:1] Relationship with God will involve His Word and His Gospel. His Word teaches us His ways and reveals His life and heart. His Gospel is the Good News that He has reached out to us and desires relationship with us.
We will learn to focus on the opinion of God rather than the opinions of men. There is a part of the response of the Sadducees and the Pharisees that is all too familiar. When asked a question, rather than seek the truth or ask what God's perspective was, they asked what people would think. Like so many modern politicians who test the wind direction of opinion polls to find out what their position is today, the religious politicians of Jesus' day had lost all sight of the truth. The religionists had ceased to ask: What does God want in this situation? They had long lost the real desire serve the Lord.
One of the most crippling things we get caught in is our desire to please people. Jesus was not about to fall into that trap. The Religionists were easy to derail. Jesus just asked them a question that called them to take a stand and they were caught between the opinions of people.
One of the great dangers to the church today is that we live in a religious market. We are constantly trying to sell ourselves to the world. The church often tries to be all things to all people. The church often tries to make the message palatable to the modern mind. Of course, we need to be relevant but we often go far beyond relevance to compromise the very call of the Gospel to transform the lives.
Do you remember when we started this study with John the Baptist announcing the arrival of the Messiah? He quoted Isaiah saying: Make straight paths for Him. We discovered that part of our job is to make it as easy as possible for people to get to God, but not easier than is possible. We cannot sugar coat the call of the Gospel. We cannot temper the call to repentance. We cannot take away the genuine word of judgment against sin and unrighteousness. We can proclaim the Good News that in Christ there is no condemnation. In a relationship with Him, there is peace.
Where are you in your walk with God? We would do well to ask ourselves some questions. Am I in a relationship with God or am I engaged in a religion about God? Am I more interested in rituals than I am a relationship? Or the trappings more than genuine worship? The institution more than worship? The place more than the person of God? This was the way of the Sadducee.
Am I more interested in rules than I am a relationship? How people look at me and whether I am following the rules? Are other people following the rules that I want them to follow? Am I concerned with appearances more than reality? Am I concerned about the outside of the Bowl while the inside is dirty? This was the way of the Pharisee.
What is the prescription? How do we get free from religion?
Get DAILY with God. Get Connected with the PEOPLE of God. Get into the WORD and the GOSPEL. Get FREE of the opinions of others.
O God set me free! I want to worship You in Spirit and in Truth. I want to walk with You in a genuine relationship. I want to be concerned only with your opinion. Draw me into a close relationship with You that is daily. Draw me into close and genuine relationships with people. Draw me into the Word and free me from slavery to the opinions of people. In Jesus' name.