Scripture reading for April 20th: Luke 20:1-26
“The teachers of the Law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest Him immediately, because they knew He had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people. Keeping a close watch on Him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something He said so that they might hand Him over to the power and authority of the governor.” (Luke 20:19-20)
Jesus had just told a parable of a man owning a vineyard and renting it out to tenants and going away for a long time. As this owner sent servants to collect some of the fruit as rent, they mistreated these servants. The owner finally sent his son, thinking that they would respect him. These tenants got together and plotted how to kill the son and get the inheritance. When the people heard this story, they shouted, “May this never be!” (Luke 20:18b) This was the story that the Pharisees knew directly related to them. Jesus had exposed their plan to those who would listen.
These Pharisees went right on with their plot to catch and kill Jesus, the Son of God who owned the vineyard of Israel! The found some spies who would pretend to be honest! This really caught my attention. If I was going to do an acting job, how would I ‘act honest’? Would I “pretend” to be Jesus’ disciple? Would I ‘pretend’ to tell the truth, but really be lying as to my real motive? Could I act ‘sincere’ but really have murder in my heart?
That is what these fakes did! They tried to trap Jesus by asking a trick question. They asked Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus had great discerning of spirits and saw through their trap. He turned the tables on them, as usual, asking them whose inscription was on the coin. When they answered “Caesar’s”, He told them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Luke 20:25) The coin belonged to Caesar, but they had God’s image on their soul and should give themselves to God!
When it comes to Jesus, do you listen with the intent to obey? Or are you just pretending to be honest? Jesus knows the truth and will answer you accordingly! Why not drop all pretense and make Him Lord!
Scripture reading for February 14: Numbers 13-16
Walking by faith is not always easy to learn. We are prone to be strongly influenced by what we see and what our past experiences have conditioned us to believe and understand. In my younger days, I wanted to learn to fly an airplane. Several of my friends and I got together and bought a Cessna 172 with instrument rating. I wanted to be able to learn to fly by instruments. The flight instructor would put a hood over my head so I could only see the instrument panel, and off we would go. When we would turn, or go up or down, I would watch the instruments to learn where the wings were. My mind, however, would play tricks on me. I felt like we were flying sideways or going up or down, when the instruments said we were flying level. Senses can lead us astray. When flying airplanes in clouds or fog, we must learn to trust the instruments.
The twelve Israelite spies were sent into the promised land. They were told to determine what the land was like and what the inhabitants of that land were like. It was a military assessment. God had already told them that the land was flowing with milk and honey. He had already told them that He would take care of the inhabitants. God was to them like the instruments in the plane. If they had kept their focus on what God had said, they would not have veered off course! Two spies actually did keep on course, Joshua and Caleb! They pleaded with the others to get ready to go on in and possess the land that God had promised them. (Numbers 13:30) Ten spies got their eyes on the difficulties and began to spread fear, doubt and unbelief! (Numbers 13:31-33)
The whole community got into the act and began to complain and grumble against Moses and the Lord, saying that God and Moses had brought them this far to let them die in the desert. They even talked of stoning Moses and then the glory of the Lord appeared at the Tent of Meeting. God was ticked off. He viewed their grumbling and rebellion against Moses as against Him! (Numbers 14:11, 27) God’s judgment on them was to give them what they had feared–the whole generation 20 years and older died in the desert because of their grumbling and unbelief! They all would wander in the wilderness for 40 years as punishment for their rebellion! (Numbers 14:29-35) Sin is costly! Be careful what you speak! Keep your focus on the instruments (God’s Word) and avoid a crash!