Practice what they preach … even if they don’t practice it!

“What do I do with all his books? Should I throw them out?”

Those were the 2 questions someone asked me recently over a preacher/leader who was not only a great author and International speaker he was now someone who threw all that away because he lived a double life.

So what is the answer?

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23 v 1-3)

The religious leaders were hypocrites as we will once again find out in this chapter. But what they taught and preached wasn’t all that bad. In fact, Jesus told the crowds and even his own disciples to practice what they preach. Why? Because the Word of God can withstand erroneous leaders who are bad examples of it. The truth of the Bible is not dependent on the truth of the preacher. That is why some preachers are deceived into thinking just because their books are flying off the shelves and they are being booked for this and that conference that God is blessing them etc. He isn’t. He is just using them and their office to speak the truth of His message to people who are there.

So don’t throw out the books. Practice what they preach … even if they don’t practice it themselves!

Jesus is God

It was time for Jesus to ask the questions and within the question lay the answer.

Jesus is revealing that he is more than human. He is not just the son of David which everyone knew as his genealogy but that He is Lord, He is Divine.

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22 v 41-46)

No father calls his son ‘Lord’ so why did David do this?

Apostle Peter knew as he quotes this same text of Psalm 110 in Acts 2:34.

Peter shows how David was prophesying of the coming of Christ. Let me write it like this: David writes, “God said to my Christ, “Sit at my right hand …”

God said to David’s Lord (Jesus).

David was prophesying of the Christ to come. He knew He would be Divine.

Jesus asks the question and the answer lies within that question. He knew who he was and chose the last few days before his crucifixion to reveal it.

Peter knew.

The position of Christ indicates His authority and His power.
The Bible refers to the right hand as a place of refuge and protection. A place where blessing is declared. A place of intercession. Where authority over all powers is established.
And where is Jesus? At the right hand. Therefore, Jesus is God.

Because Jesus is at God’s right hand then there is nothing you are facing today that He cannot help you through.
Call upon God’s right hand today to move in your life.

Nothing higher than this: Love God Love others.

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22 v 34-40)

What does this mean?

  • The vertical relationship is expressed in the horizontal relationship. You cannot separate your worship of God and how you relate to others.
  • Nothing is greater than the commands to love. All the other great things we can do in life are secondary.
  • Exclusivity is pride that needs to be broken. Whether a person desires to be apart from God or apart from others believing that they can do it ‘my way’ they are intrinsically wrong.
  • Whatever you long for, long for it for your neighbour. Whatever you seek then also give. If it is food then long to make sure no one goes hungry. If it is a house then have a heart for the homeless. The list goes on.
  • Let love for yourself be first transformed and fulfilled in the One who gives life abundantly and who satisfies the heart, soul and mind. Then from this place love others with the same love that transformed your self-love.

Gatherings can be religious but not righteous.

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.” (Matthew 22 v 34)

Gatherings can be powerful but not have the Presence.

They gathered together in unity.

They gathered to rejoice their enemy had been silenced.

They gathered for vision, for purpose and ‘for an assault’ (Msg)

Not all religious gatherings have Jesus at the centre.

God is bigger than any trap

“That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.” (Matthew 22 v 23-33)

Another attempt at trapping Jesus, this time from a different sect, the Sadducees. They obviously didn’t believe in the resurrection. They didn’t believe in much actually. Nothing of the spirit realm. They didn’t hold to any oral tradition of passing down the teachings. It had to be the written Law of Moses only.

So for them to come to and ask about resurrection is ridiculous. Ignore what they said, whether it be a created or actual story. Why did they come up with what they thought was an impossible puzzle to solve?

If Jesus was unable to answer he might have backed down on his belief of the resurrection and then he would be supporting them and against the Pharisees who they hated for believing in it.

If Jesus said he didn’t know whose wife she would be or if he named the husband then it would make him look foolish amongst the people.

They were not ready for the answer!

The answers of Jesus seem to go deeper than the question, to the heart and character of the one asking.

Jesus exposed these well-known Bible people as people who didn’t know their Bibles! “You do not know the Scriptures.”

Lesson: YOU DISPLAY YOU ARE BIBLE BELIEVERS BUT YOU ARE NOT BIBLE READERS.

Jesus exposed these people of God as people who didn’t know Him. They were not interested in whether there was marriage in heaven it was about the resurrection.

Jesus uses Exodus 3:6 when he states that God didn’t say to Moses I was the God of Abraham … but I am. Abraham is still alive. God is God of the living not the dead.

Lesson: YOU WORSHIP GOD BUT YOUR IMAGE OF GOD IS TOO SMALL.

The point is that Jesus is saying you are not who you proclaim to be.

You only hold to the Law of Moses (the first 5 books of the OT) but resurrection is clearly in there but you cannot see it. God is powerful, able and alive but you do not know Him.

GOD IS BIGGER. BIGGER THAN YOU. BIGGER THAN YOUR BELIEF.

Politics

“Give your taxes to Caesar” and the Jewish crowd of followers would have walked away from him.

“Don’t give to Caesar the taxes” and the Romans would have stepped in and he would have been in danger of sedition.

“But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.” (Matthew 22 v 18-22)

Jesus asks for a coin on which the image of Caesar was printed on each of them. They belonged to Caesar.

“Give Caesar’s coins to Caesar and give to God what is God’s”. That is his answer.

And suddenly the point is actually not about Caesar, but it is God.

Where is the image of God? Everyone knew they had been created in the image of God. Stamped on their hearts was God’s image. So Jesus calls them to surrender their hearts to the one whose image is all over them. He still calls us to do that today.

And they were amazed! As we are!

The trap of flattery

There is a whole lot of difference between honour and flattery.

However, they look the same.

You can be congratulated on your work, how you speak, your wisdom and how you are with people. You can be praised for your righteous lifestyle. You can have lots of ‘likes’ on social media.

But flattery strokes the ego; it manipulates; it tells you things what is not being said behind your back; the passive-aggressive use flattery as a weapon of war.

“Those who flatter their neighbours are spreading nets for their feet.” (Proverbs 29 v 5)

 “Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” (Matthew 22 v 15-17)

The religious leaders wanted Jesus to fall into their trap of making him say something against Rome. His answer was perfect as it always is.

The duplicitous are always close by.

Some don’t even know they are doing it. They think they are simply being nice. Flattery is nice, right?

We learn flattery early on in life and then some can become experts in it.

Some have friends that are actually friends with gain. They are hoping to get. Their new friend will open doors for them etc.

Secret plans are being made today based on greed and selfish need. This is spiritual warfare and the Church, the Christian, you, can be at the centre of that plan.

These comments can honour you and yet be a manipulative ruse, a dishonest ambush and as much an attack as if someone had punched you.

Be careful what is taken from you. The narcissist is never far from us.

Lessons to leaders from Jesus, 5.

We have been reading 3 parables from Jesus where he reveals to the Jewish leaders how they have failed. This is the second part of the third story.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22 v 8-14)

Lesson: Leaders are not indispensable; they can be replaced.

God’s replacements are perhaps not who the religious will choose. And who gets to sit around the table of the Lord? The poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame, the misfits, the homeless, the hurting and the lonely.

Lessons to leaders from Jesus, 4.

We are reading 3 parables from Jesus where he reveals to the Jewish leaders how they have failed.

If there is one leadership seminar that every leader should attend then it is to be found in these 3 stories.

This is the third story:

“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22 v 1-14)

Lesson: Leaders are not above consequences for their actions, v3-7.

  • If they busy themselves so much that they don’t have time for Him or worse if they use their power to abuse others in anyway then their position will warrant grave consequences.

Lessons to leaders from Jesus, 3.

We are reading 3 parables from Jesus where he reveals to the Jewish leaders how they have failed.

If there is one leadership seminar that every leader should attend then it is to be found in these 3 stories.

At the end of the second parable (the Tenants) Jesus says this, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes’? “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.” (Matthew 21 v 42-46)

40 years after the parable was taught, the Romans entered the city, flattened it and then led the religious leaders bound in chains into foreign nations. They came under God’s judgment. The stone had fallen on them just as Jesus had said.

But right now, at this moment, they still have an opportunity to respond, it is not too late. They can choose Jesus. But they won’t and he knows it. At the end of the parable when the son is rejected Jesus basically says this: ‘I may be rejected now but I will be seen as the Messiah very shortly.’

It is far better to make Jesus the cornerstone of your life. There is a key place in all our lives. Some say the capstone, the place above the door. Some say the cornerstone, the first stone in a building. Whatever it is, it is of huge importance.

What Jesus says poses such a challenging question to our churches and the people within them! Is Jesus occupying the place of huge importance? Is he in the decision making part? If he is not Lord then you may stumble over him and worst still you may be crushed by Him. Churches have closed because they rejected the Living Stone.

Lesson 3: You are not the CEO.