Jesus answers this question in a conversation with some Pharisees in Luke 11. After condeming them for their self-righteous, external only, judgmental religion, Jesus said Luke 11:41 “but rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you.
Note two points in His reply:
1. As always, giving is from “of such things as you have”. If we can’t give because we don’t have, God doesn’t expect it of us.
2. Giving alms (with the right attitude of course) it is an indication of how true, pure, and clean our heart is before God. Note how Jesus puts it – he doesn’t just say “then all things are clean to you”, but “then INDEED…”.
This passage along with 1 John 3:16-19 (it says the same) tells us that a willingness to share is a very strong confirmation that we have the kind of pure heart we ought to have.
Question: Why is sharing our physical goods with the poor a true indication of a genuine pure heart?
When Bible believing people are in the minority they will likely face some form of persecution. America is going that direction, and it was certainly true in Peter’s day.
First Peter says a lot about suffering because of our faith:
“Don’t think it strange” (4:12).
“Rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13).
“Do not be afraid or be troubled” (3:14).
Be good citizens (2:13).
If we “suffer for doing good and take it patiently it is commendable before God” (2:20).
One of the most interesting things he tells them is found in 1 Peter 4:8 – “above all things have fervent love for one another”. Love is emphasized earlier (1:22, 2:17, 3:8) but this verse really stresses its importance: “above all things”he says we need to love one another.
Question: Why, especially in a culture where Christians are in the minority, is it so important that we love one another?
Sunday we looked at Proverbs 26:1-11. These verses describe the condition of a fool. Its not fitting to honor a fool (1), only the rod can get his attention (3), it is futile to send an important message by a fool (6), a fool repeats his folly like a dog returning to its his vomit (11), etc.
What Solomon says next may be surprising: Verse 12 says “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him”.
As much to be avoided and as dangerous as foolish behavior is, being wise in our own eyes is worse! Being wise in our own eyes is clearly a very dangerous thing!
What does it mean to be “wise in our own eyes”?
Why is this such a dangerous attitude?
How do we guard against being wise in our own eyes?
Isaiah 40:27 expresses well the feelings of people who, because of hard times, may feel that God has forgotten them: “Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the Lord, And my just claim is passed over by my God”?
Ever feel like that?
The Jews in Esther’s day may have felt that way when evil Haman had arranged an unalterable law that decreed the extermination of all the Jews.
In our Wednesday night Bible study we are learning about the amazing way that God rescued them from this evil plan.
When we face dark and difficult days we should not doubt that God sees all we are going through and that he will keep his promise to protect and bless his people.
The Isaiah passage goes on to tell us that in such times, “those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Today’s question: What does it mean to wait on the Lord?
Recently, to help us prepare for the Lord’s Supper, we looked at Galatians 3:3 which reads, “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”.
Other versions say something like, “How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort” (NLT).
Clearly, our hope for being right with God is not in our fleshly human strength but in the forgiveness offered through Christ.
Paul uses the word “foolish” to describe one who would think otherwise. Question: What is so foolish about thinking we can be made perfect by the flesh, or by our own human effort”?”
Last night we studied a great text in Titus that concludes: He (Jesus) gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority” (Titus 2:14, 15).
We are to be zealous for good works!
This idea is also emphasized in Titus 3:8 and 3:11:
This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men (3:8).
And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful (3:11).
Question: Why, according to these verses, is it so important that Christians be zealous for good works? See also Matthew 5:16 and 1 Peter 3:12.
“”Who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?” (Job 4:7). This is the question Job’s friend Eliphaz asked Job as he tried to explain to Job the reason for his sufferings.
Eliphaz is defending the idea that when bad things happen to men it is because they are guilty of some sin. This is really a fairly common idea even today. When bad things happen we tend to think what did I do wrong? why has God allowed this to happen?
Like a lot of what Job’s friends say, there is a little truth behind what he says here. Sometimes it is true that we experience painful consequences because of sinful choices we have made. Also, in the final judgement those who have not been saved through Jesus will be lost due to their sin. But as a comprehensive answer to the problem of human suffering the basic premise of Eliphaz is false.
Whoever perished being innocent? Name some who perished being innocent and show that Eliphaz’s argument is false.
Kind of a trick question: In light of what we studied Sunday morning (Job 1 and 2) which of these is the right time to say “Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21)?
- When your plans for the day are ruined by unexpected circumstances.
- When someone surrenders their life to Jesus.
- When your car breaks down.
- When an unexpected check arrives in the mail.
- When you get the job you were hoping for.
- When you or a loved one is injured in a car accident.
- When a couple has a baby.
- When the Doctor says you have cancer.
- When the Doctor says your cancer is in remission.
- All of the above.
Last night we looked at James 2:1-13. James talks about a particular situation in which we interact with people and encourages us to obey the the command “love your neighbor as yourself”. If we do not it says we commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. The paragraph closes by telling us to be merciful and warns, “judgment will be without mercy to the one who shows no mercy”.
Question: This is obviously very important stuff. What specific type of situation in our lives is James talking about where all these important commands and warnings apply?
Sunday in Galatians we talked about chapter 3:10 -“Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them”.
Sadly that is how we Christians sometimes think our relationship with God works: If we do not do everything exactly right we are cursed (condemned).
But Paul is not talking about the gospel in verse 10 – he is talking about what they had under the Law of Moses, without Christ (read over 10-13 carefully). The gospel is different.
Later, 5:1 describes one way as “bondage” and the other (the gospel) as “liberty”.
We should do very our best to do everything we do according to God’s law. But isn’t it comforting to know verse 10 is not describing our relationship with God today?