Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Deceivers Will Come! - Mark 13:1-6

The Deceivers Will Come! - Mark 13:1-6
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 26, 2010 AM

Mark 13 is sometimes called the eschatological discourse, the prophetic discourse, the Olivet discourse, or the Little Apocalypse. It depends on whether you see within these verses Jesus teaching about the culmination of events, future events, if you are concerned about where it occurred, or if you believe that Mark wanted us to read about the end of the world. However, we do not find the usual visionary and cryptic language that most apocalyptic literature contains. Rather, we read more of a practical and ethical discourse and warning by Jesus to his followers. He wanted them to be aware that deceivers will come and what they needed to do about it when it occurred.

Whether one believes in the biblical narrative of the end times or not we live in a day and age where folks love to speculate about the end of the world as we know it. From movies that cater to pagan Aztec calendars predicting it or a French apothecary’s prophetic meanderings, folks love to read or watch how the world might end. This is nothing new. In this section of Mark’s gospel we find the disciples walking with Jesus and in the process of their conversation we find some enigmatic references that might refer to this subject. Jesus was concerned about his followers remaining true to the gospel. Deceivers would come to try and steer them away. Let’s find out what deceivers will come and perhaps by knowing, we can be aware of it for our own lives as well…

READ: Mark 13:1-6

Within Jesus' comments in answering his disciple’s questions, Jesus related some of his last instructions for his followers. They are to be aware of those things in the world that might pull them away from doing the task he is about to leave them with. Preaching that the kingdom of God had come would be vital after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. His warning concerns those of who would come after as well. Therefore, we need to understand that…

I. Christians can be deceived by material things! (Vv. 1-2)

1. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things! (Colossians 3:2 NIV) It is so easy for us to focus on the here and now and forget that eternity awaits all of us. Jesus began very early on teaching his disciples the basic truth to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV) The disciples were looking at the things of man, the temple “stones and buildings.” For the Hebrews the temple was everything. And, even though Herod, a half-blooded usurper, built it – it was one of the wonders of the ancient world. Jesus, however, pulls them back to reality. He responds by letting them know that even the huge stones of Herod’s temple will not last. “You see these great buildings?” he asks them, “Not a single stone here will be left in its place; every one of them will be thrown down.” They had been excited about being in the temple, watching the people prepare for Passover, and their exuberance spilled over. Perhaps they saw in Jesus a different attitude, because he had been more confrontational in these last days and he had let them know on several occasions that his ministry was coming to some kind of climax. Yet, Jesus does not want them to lose their focus on what will matter in the long term. Temples will be destroyed and "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Matthew 24:35 NIV) Jesus was pointing to a time when Jerusalem, the temple, and all of Israel would shortly lay in ruins. In 66 AD the Jews rebelled against Rome. In response, Nero dispatched an army under Vespasian. By 68 AD resistance in the north had been eradicated and the Romans turned to Jerusalem. Nero committed suicide, creating a power vacuum in Rome. Vespasian was declared Emperor and returned to the Imperial City. Titus, his son, lead the remaining army in the assault on Jerusalem. They surrounded the city and lay siege to the Jewish stronghold. In 70 AD the attackers breached Jerusalem's outer walls and ransacked the city. The Temple and its magnificent stones were destroyed. What we put our trust in today soon rusts, decays, or is destroyed by men. We would do well to not be deceived by material things!

EXAMPLE: No one person and no one thing lasts forever. Not temples or people. No matter how big the building or famous the person, we would do well to remind ourselves that the edifices we place our names on today will be so much rubble later. The Lady Gagas of the world will soon be the weird old lady has-beens. I found it interesting that Ozzy Osbourne recently spoke out about Lady Gaga in an interview with Us Magazine, saying he believes the pop star needed to tone it down a bit. Yes, Ozzie Osbourne. He related, “I do think Lady Gaga should take a break for a little while. She’s getting to be too much, and she doesn’t watch the exposure of her clothes. She’s just too overexposed. She could be the next Madonna if she played her cards right.” He added, “I like her, but I’m getting a bit sick of her.” Who will remember Lady Gaga once her clothes are rags and her makeup is washed away? Where the temple of the Jews once sat, now stands a pagan mosque. Only the gospel of the stone the builders rejected has lasted. Do not be deceived by material things.

It cracks me up when I watch preachers pontificating with amazing multimedia presentations concerning the end times. The fact remains, no matter what kind of large banner you use or what computer graphics blaze across your sanctuary screen know one knows when Jesus will return. In fact, in this area Christians can be guilty of focusing so much on the end of days they forget about the nowadays. Here in Mark we are warned that…

II. Christians can be deceived by wanting to know too much! (Vv. 3-4)

1. In fact, people who think they know so much don't know anything at all! (1 Corinthians 8:2 CEV) Later, as “Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, across from the Temple” we find that “Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him in private.” Why would these men, where some seemed to be at every important moment during Jesus’ ministry, come to him privately? I believe it was because they wanted additional knowledge concerning what Jesus had spoken about earlier. They were on the Mount of Olives, 2,700 feet above sea level, and about 100 feet higher than Jerusalem. West of them was the panorama of the temple and the entire city. It must have seemed as if they were on top of the world, being near Jerusalem and Herod’s temple. Having heard Jesus’ words, perhaps he was about to declare himself as Messiah? After all, they also knew what Zechariah the prophet had stated concerning the Messiah. That “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem… The LORD will be king over the whole earth!” (Zechariah 14:4, 9) Were the things Jesus spoke about and Zechariah’s words coming true? The disciples ask Jesus two questions. “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:4 NIV) They actually thought these things were going to happen right then and there and they wanted Jesus to let them in on it. They were being deceived, seduced, and did not even know it. What if the disciples continued in the direction they wanted to go instead of that which Jesus had chosen? Remember Judas also tries to force Jesus’ hand and betrays him. There are those in our day who want to force Jesus’ hand by trying to figure out when he will return. We do not need to know. Jesus would warn, “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” (Mark 13:33 NIV) Being concerned about Jesus’ return is not as important as being about Jesus’ ministry! We can become distracted. When we are distracted over such things, we are allowing ourselves to be deceived into thinking this is more important than serving the Lord. Christians can be deceived by wanting to know too much!

EXAMPLE: There are literally thousands of books written about the end times. From those who predicted the date to those who think they have figured out the antichrist. Millions of dollars have been spent and made in making movies and documentaries on the same subject. It amazes me that intelligent people would actually think that ancient pagans living one-step removed from the Stone Age, who never developed past a cultic savage bloody sacrificial slave infested society could possibly know when the world would end. And sadly, it is all based on a faulty set of assumptions. Their calendar ends on the year it does simply because they did not make one that went past that date. And there is a myriad of credible conflicting theories as to exactly what date, when, and why. Jesus was trying to warn his disciples to pay attention to what he has already told them and to understand the gospel and to be able to share it after his death, burial, and resurrection. Satan loves it when we focus on things that do not matter. Christians can be deceived by wanting to know too much.

Deception can happen when believers willingly allow it to occur. We often want to think that we are tricked, fooled, or are simply hoodwinked into falling for ungodly things, people, or doctrines. Yet this is simply not the case for the most part. Far too often we know we should not allow ourselves to go and do the things we go and do or allow ourselves to believe. The disciples had Jesus right there and they were being deceived! This is why here in Mark’s gospel Jesus warns that…

III. Christians can be deceived by false relationships! (Vv. 5-6)

1. Let no one deceive you, my children! Whoever does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous! (1 John 3:7 GNB) Some believe that Jesus ignores the disciple’s first question and begins to answer the second. I believe he is ignoring both and answering what he thinks they need to know for the near future. Why would I say that? Notice Jesus immediately tells them, “Watch out that no one deceives you.” Literally they could be seduced if they were not aware of who was trying to trick them and why they were trying to do so. In fact, “Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.” Jesus tells them. He knew the early church would face many detractors. The impact of Jesus’ warning was not lost on the apostle John who would later write, “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (2 John 1:7 NIV) Very early on the new church would face those who would try to dissuade Christians from following Jesus’ gospel message. They would even try to use Jesus’ name and say he had given them the authority to do so! Peter would say that, “These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.” (2 Peter 2:17 NIV) We live in a day and age where far too many Christians look for the wrong relationship concerning their faith. They want what pleases them for the moment, from self-centered worship, service, or ministry to seeking after someone who can scratch their itch with fine sounding words. The apostle Paul would warn his friend Timothy, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3 NIV) We can also be deceived by false relationships of those who claim Christ but are only saying what we want to hear at the time so they can gain what they desire. We are warned, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV) Christians can be deceived by false relationships!

EXAMPLE: We are to watch out that no one deceives us. Recently the Barna Group released a study that relates six mega themes concerning today’s Christianity. He found that: 1) The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate creating weak faith and a reliance on motivation instead. 2) Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented focusing on ourselves. 3) Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life. If it does not focus on our problems, we are not interested. 4) Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating, but it is not producing long-term involvement. When the initial thrill is gone, so is the believer. 5) The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church. Homosexuality and sexual relationships outside of marriage are not seen as sinful. Situational ethics seem to rule the lives of believers rather than biblical morality. And finally, 6) the influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible. We are no longer the salt and light of the world. The church today has allowed itself to be deceived by false relationships.

The deceivers will come. Christians can be deceived by material things! Christians can be deceived by wanting to know too much! And, Christians can be deceived by false relationships! What are you deceived by?
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2010 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Your Giving Reflects Your Heart - Mark 12:41-44

Your Giving Reflects Your Heart - Mark 12:41-44
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 12, 2010 AM

The human heart is an amazing organ that pumps literally hundreds of thousands of gallons of blood through miles of blood vessels night and day for decades. Yet it can be stopped by the smallest of obstructions. The spiritual heart can be an amazing thing as well. When it is truly given to the Lord it can produce a wealth of goodness, greatness, and joy. However, it too can be hampered by the smallest of obstructions. Obstructions of greed, selfishness, an unforgiving spirit, or narrow-mindedness can stop the beating of the spiritual heart. There is a cure though and it is found in a life of sacrifice. A heart that reflects Jesus is strong in him.

Here in Mark’s gospel we find Jesus and his disciples back in the temple, specifically in the Court of the Women. As they sit there they notice those who come and go as they give to the care of the temple. In these few verses we discover a wonderful truth that a person’s giving reflects their heart. Let’s discover how…

READ: Mark 12:41-44

CPR is done in emergency situations on those who need to keep their heart pumping. Sometimes, Christians need spiritual CPR done to their hearts as well -- especially where giving is concerned. Sadly, it often needs to be applied during this time of the year. We can get so focused on the giving and getting of presents, we forget what real giving is all about. Here in Mark’s gospel a poor widow teaches us that…

I. Actions reflect our heart’s intention! (Vv. 41-42)

1. An offering is not an offering unless it is freely given! Mark records Jesus as a people watcher. He loved to see what people did and he saw their intent which was frequently reflected in their actions. We find Jesus sitting “opposite the place where the offerings were put and [he] watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.” Individuals were coming and going. They were focused on placing their offerings into the “horns” which were placed in the Court of the Women. Barnes relates, “In that court there were fixed a number of places or coffers, made with a large open mouth in the shape of a trumpet, for the purpose of receiving the offerings of the people; and the money thus contributed was devoted to the service of the temple - to incense, sacrifices, etc.” As Jesus watched “Many rich people threw in large amounts.” These rich folks were the same ones who loved “to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.” (Matthew 6:5) And these were the same rich folks, who loved “to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’” (Matthew 23:7) Jesus would relate, “I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” The old adage that actions speak louder than words rings true here. These hypocrites manifested the same spirit about giving as they did about their prayer; it was done in public places for public accolades. It was done for public praise! In contrast, Jesus also watches as “a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.” We call this a “mite”, from the French, miete, which signifies a crumb, or very small morsel. The Greek word is lepton, which was the smallest coin minted at that time, worth about 1/64 of a day’s wage. It reminds us of the woman who told Jesus that, “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Only a morsel could she give and only a morsel did she expect in return, but her action speaks volumes. We live in a day and age where people actually think that their words of compassion carry the same weight as someone else’s acts of faith. There are those who measure their giving by their intent and billionaires who give a pittance compared to their amassed wealth. Far too often, however, Christians are the ones guilty of giving, like Dickens' Scrooge, mere morsels to Jesus and expecting a banquet in return. We should never forget that our actions reflect our heart’s intention.

EXAMPLE: Visible reminders are good for our lives. I keep pictures of those I love near my computer. I often reach out and touch them as I work and pray for them. These are not some good luck charm or talisman, but rather a way for me to be reminded of those who mean a lot to me. Believers should be the visible reminders of Jesus to the world around them. We should be visible reminders of his compassion, his sacrifice, his grace, his forgiveness, and his charity. Are you willing to serve, to give as you should, to witness, and to be a visible reminder to others of Christ in you? What are your visible reminders of Jesus? Open the moth-ridden coin purse of your life, unwrap your generosity this year and give of your time, talent, and treasure. Jesus would remind us that our giving reflects our heart. It is a visible reminder of who we believe in and trust with our lives.

This elderly widow taught more with her actions that day in the temple than all of the teachers of the law, the scribes, Pharisees, or Sadducees. In that moment in time one anonymous grey-haired widow woman became a teacher for millions of believers for thousands of years. I know that this never even entered her mind when she came to give her two small coins to honor God. What she did teaches all of us this morning that our giving does indeed reflect our heart. We also discover that…

II. Real wealth is reflected in a rich heart! (Vv. 43-44)

1. What we consider to be of value in life might well be worthless in the kingdom of God! There were those in Jesus’ day who thought that by the shear amount of time they gave in following the letter of the law or the volume of cash they spent would reflect well for them in eternity. Interestingly, this concept has not changed much. There are still those who think that by doing more good works or by occasionally giving large amounts of money to their favorite charity, gains brownie points for eternity. As Jesus and his disciples sat there in the Court of the Women, he watched those who came and went giving money. After noticing what the widow did, Jesus calls his disciples to him. He realizes it is a teachable moment. He tells them, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.” I betcha they immediately thought, “What! She only placed two tiny tin coins in the horns.” The others made a display of their giving and you could hear their money clanging together as it went down the tubes, but her two pathetic coins probably did not even make a tinkle as they went in. This little widow did not necessarily give more in volume, but she gave more in self-sacrifice, self-denial, and sincerity of soul. Jesus puts her giving into perspective by telling his listeners, “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Jesus isn’t telling his listeners to give everything they own to the temple, nor is he asking them to give him all they have, rather, he is relating a deep spiritual truth. A person’s real wealth is reflected in a rich heart toward God. She gave not to prove her devotion; her devotion was proven by her heart’s attitude as she gave. She trusted God to take care of her needs. Paul would tell the Corinthian church, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” (2 Corinthians 8:12) This widow woman had a rich and deep abiding faith in God and a devotion to his temple. It did not matter to her what others gave, all that mattered is what she gave. And guess what, it also mattered to God! God does not despise the humblest offering, if made in sincerity. He loves a cheerful giver. Real wealth is reflected in a rich heart!

EXAMPLE: Dave Branon of RBC Ministries asks, “Got Botox? A lot of people do. Some take Botox treatments for health matters, but many take them because they want to look young again. Appearance is so important to some Botox users that they allow themselves to be injected with botulinum toxin type A so that their wrinkles will disappear for a while. Later, the treatment must be administered again. Botox is expensive, and it comes with possible negative side effects. But that doesn’t stop people from giving it a try so they can look better. Of course, looking good is not a bad thing, but a more important consideration is how we look on the inside. How much are we willing to sacrifice to have beautiful character?” I would ask, “Are we willing to take some ‘Botox for the soul’— to inject ourselves with sacrificial giving? Like the widow?" We may find that few practice self-denial in their giving. Most give out of their abundance, what they can spare without feeling it pinch, kind of like simply throwing it away. Among all those who give, how few actually deny themselves one comfort, even the smallest thing, that they may advance the kingdom of Christ instead! I pray you are counted among those who are wealthy in their giving! Never forget, real wealth is reflected in a rich heart!


Actions reflect our heart’s intention and real wealth is reflected in a rich heart! What does your giving reflect about your heart?
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2010 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

What do you value in life? - Mark 12:35-40

What do you value in life? - Mark 12:35-40
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 5, 2010 AM

In the gangland movie, “The Untouchables,” Elliot Ness, played by Kevin Costner, moans, “I want to get Capone! I don’t know how to do it.” Malone a tough hardnosed Irish-American cop, played by Sean Connery, tells him, “You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital; you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way! And that’s how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I’m offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?” The movie is about how Elliot Ness takes on the notorious gangster Al Capone during Prohibition. Ness faced a huge challenge in trying to bring down Capone because of a corrupt Chicago police department. It was a time of greed and ungodliness fueled by people’s addiction to booze. Interestingly, before they agree to work together, Malone tells Ness, “The Lord hates cowards.”

Here in Mark’s gospel we find Jesus facing the same kind of tactics. Jesus has been challenged again and again by consecutive questioners. Each time he has deflected and met their assaults, not with knives, guns, or by sending someone to the morgue, but with wit, wisdom, and Messianic insight. In today’s passage in Mark we find Jesus kind of turning the tables on his questioners and the crowd loves it. Now he is the one asking the tough questions, yet he is getting no good replies.

READ: Mark 12:35-40

Why is it that Christians become embarrassed when folks find out they follow Jesus? Far too many of us allow the world to dictate how we are to live our lives or respond. We have falsely been led to think that turning the other cheek means being silent, self-conscious, and humiliated. Yet, if we truly think that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the father but by him, then we would do well to reevaluate what we value in life as Christians. Mark’s gospel teaches us anew to realize that…

I. In life there is value in knowing Jesus! (Vv. 35-37)

1. If Jesus is the life, then why live any other way? For us, Jesus’ comments sound enigmatic at best and make little sense. However, Jesus was offhandedly making a point concerning himself as the Messiah. Jesus being the Messiah does not have the impact today as it did then. The Messiah for the Hebrews was a promise from God. He would be an avenging king who would restore Israel and establish David’s throne. David was the real beginning of Israel being a nation. God promised David that from his lineage would come the future Messiah and the security of his monarchy, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:16) God, through the Prophet Amos, told Israel “‘in that day I will restore David's fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be.” (Amos 9:11) This is why when the angel Gabriel told Mary that her baby boy would “be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,” they rejoiced at the news! (Luke 1:32) So, when Jesus related that King David called the Messiah “Lord,” why would a king do that? How could the Messiah be both his “son” and “Lord”? Jesus’ rhetorical question pointed His listeners to the only answer: the Messiah is David’s Son, as a future heir, and David’s Lord at the same time. The Messiah is both God and man! This truth was not lost on Jesus’ listeners. And, this truth should not be lost on us either. Jesus entering into the world as the Messiah, points to his rightful place as our Savior and Lord. Believers enter into his kingdom through their faith and trust in who he is. Peter reminds us that Christians “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) Christians are King’s kids. John tells us that, “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God!” (John 1:12) Paul related, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:16-17a) What those who listened to Jesus’ words failed to completely comprehend we now fully know! In life there is value in knowing Jesus!

EXAMPLE: We live in a day and age where Jesus has been reduced to a “buddy,” a means to an end, or a way to feel good about oneself. Jesus is our redeemer, prophet, priest, king, and Messiah. We forget he is God in human flesh and instead focus on Jesus being a Hallmark Hall of Fame moment. Jesus is more than a mushy sound bite for our lives. The Hebrews had reduced God’s Messiah to an avenger who would make them the center of the world and restore them to their rightful place. John gives us a glimpse of what Jesus’ Messiahship truly means for all who believe in him when he wrote, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.’” (Revelation 21:3-7) In life there is value in knowing Jesus!

The crowd liked Jesus getting the better of their overly pious religious leaders. I would also like to think that the crowd may have comprehended more than we realize. Not only did they see this popular itinerate rabbi out foxing his enemies, they liked what he said and did. Far from being similar to the religious phonies they were used to, they saw Jesus for who he was and they like what they saw and heard. In this we learn that…

II. In life we should value sincerity! (Vv. 38-40)

1. There is no substitute for sincerity in life! In concluding his public ministry, Jesus deliberately confronts the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders. It signals Jesus’ final break with these authorities. He begins a process of intimate teaching with his disciples. It is as if he desires that they finally realize his actual mission and where it would lead. Yet, as we pause for a moment, we discover something about Jesus that has always been appealing from the first moment he went to the wedding at Cana, to his trial before Pilate. Jesus was completely honest and straightforward. Contrary to those who tried to entrap him, Jesus wasn’t a hypocrite. He was sincere and in his sincerity we discover we are attracted to his teaching. The crowd that day was as well. Notice he bluntly tells them, “Watch out for the teachers of the law.” The idea here was that they were to continually watch out for these hypocrites and their false piety. Jesus tells the crowd to not be fooled because, “They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.” Like the TBN cultist of today, these men were only interested in power and greed. So much so that they would “devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers.” They wanted to wring out every ounce of money from unsuspecting widows. These vile men were in love with themselves. Jesus warned, “Such men will be punished most severely.” In Matthew’s gospel Jesus called them “blind guides” and that they were “like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.” He went on to call them “snakes” and “vipers.” (Matthew 23:23-26) Jesus told them plainly, “Look, your house is left to you desolate!” (Matthew 23:39), and all of Israel would suffer because of their ungodly behavior. The contrast between Jesus’ sincerity and their hypocrisy could not be plainer. Jesus would warn, “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (Luke 22:26) Paul would remind believers that, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) In life we should value sincerity!

EXAMPLE: What the world truly longs for is genuineness in the lives of others. We live in a world full of fake starlets and phony politicians. Sadly, many religious leaders are not much better. I believe this is why folks are attracted to individuals like Sarah Palin. It infuriates some people that George Bush is still well liked and is gaining new respect. This is nothing new. The down-home appeal found in the likes of Will Rogers, Billy Graham, Andy Griffith, or today’s Bristol Palin, attract the attention of people who desire a sincerity they do not find in the world. It is also why many are angered at the current Administration in Washington DC. While millions are out of work, losing their homes, and cannot feed their families our Government secretly gave trillions of our tax dollars away at zero or near-zero interest rates to many of our largest corporations -- including GE, McDonalds and Verizon! They secretly lent billions to foreign banks, including Germany's Deutsche Bank Securities, London-based Barclay's, France's BNP Paribas Securities, Switzerland's UBS Securities LLC and Daiwa Securities one of Japan's largest brokerage houses! Politicians do not pay their taxes and get slapped on the wrist, the President flies all over the world with an entourage of folks, a flotilla of ships, vacationing and golfing at every opportunity and spending millions in the process while folks wonder where their next paycheck is coming from. Is it any wonder then in life we should value sincerity?


In life there is value in knowing Jesus and we should value sincerity in life.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2010 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.