Jesus a man of Integrity

Matthew 22:15-22

In an attempt to trap Jesus there was an alliance formed between the Pharisees who were strong Nationalists, supporting a Jewish nation and the Herodians, Jews supporting the Roman rule of the Herods. They visited Jesus and posed the question in verse 17 “Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? ” As you can quickly recognize, this is a loaded question because, if Jesus says “yes” the Pharisees will regard him as a supporter of Rome, and untrue to the Jewish Nation. If he says “no”, the Herodians will regard him as a traitor and have him executed. (NIV footnote 22:15-17)

Jesus turns this attempts to trap him, into a moment to teach the Pharisees and the Herodians by taking the high ground. He doesn’t advocate ignoring one or the other and gives a “yes and yes” answer in verse 21 and says ….. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” In short, he reminds them that there are two kingdoms. There was the kingdom of Caesar with earthly rules, where all needed to give as required, or face the consequences. Likewise, there is the Kingdom of God that is often ignored, and has its’ consequences for ignoring.  One of the reasons I feel we often ignore the kingdom of God is because, we don’t understand the consequences of ignoring the kingdom of God.  In many cases there is no immediate consequence. By avoiding immediate consequences we feel there are no consequences at all, but eventually the consequences catch up with us. However, we must all admit that as soon as the consequence of ignoring Caesar or God hits, and trouble visits out door, we run back immediately to the kingdom of God for help.

Jesus reminds both groups that as Caesar had a standard, God has a standard. In this text, both groups of men were Jews who were there very knowledgeable of the Scriptures, noting that only the Old Testament existed at that time. They were very familiar with and understood Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Does it sound familiar to you? Of course it does because it is the foundation for Jesus’ statement “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them. But, seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “  Matthew 6:31-33. In other words for Christians, seeking God is the standard to all life. Seek the higher ground. Seek the “Jesus Way” first as Jesus was the representative of his Father in heaven.

The strange thing about this text is that in attempting to trap Jesus, the Pharisees and Herodians had to be complimentary. “They had to admit, however unwillingly, that Jesus was candid, faithful in speaking God’s truth, fearless before any man, whether a mob or king. “ (TIB Vol 7, pg 517-18). In Matthew 22:16, The King James Version states “… Master, we know that though art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man; for thou regardest not the person of men”. In the same verse, The Revised Standard Version says “….’Teacher we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. ‘…. However, I like the way the New International Version shows it in saying “….Teacher, they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance to the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are….” Here, the key is “a man of integrity”.

In this passage, the English word integrity is translated from the Greek word alethes. The Greek word alethes, when it translates to the English word integrity, has five attributes or descriptions and they are True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid.  A highlight of these attributes in Jesus, gives us examples of how we as Christians can strive to be “Jesus Like”.

  1. True – Jesus was true. There is nothing false about Jesus. In John 1:6-9, The Apostle John wrote about, Jesus to distinguish Jesus from John the Baptist. The Apostle said There is a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The TRUE light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. “ Who is the TRUE (non false) light? Of course it is Jesus.
  1. Genuine or Actual – Jesus is true with nothing false about him as he was the ACTUAL Son of God. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Who was the Genuine/Actual Son of God? Of Course, Jesus.
  1. Reliable – Jesus can be trusted because he is not only God’s Son but God’s agent. Jesus is reliable because his source is reliable. In John 8:26 Jesus said, “I Have much to say about judgment of you. But he who sent me is RELIABLE, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” Who had reliable information because he had a reliable source? Of course, Jesus.
  1. Trustworthy Able to be trusted to do or provide what is needed. Who can you depend on in a time of need or a time of joy? Who is there whenever you call on his name? Of course, Jesus. Have you ever depended on Jesus and He let you down? No!
  1. Valid – Valid is the quality of being officially acceptable. Jesus is officially accepted as God because He is God. John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John the apostle opens his gospel with a clarification of who Jesus is. Jesus is the official, factual son of God. John said it, the Bible consistently proves it and I believe it.

Referring to Jesus as a man of integrity was meant to be a trap. But, He is a True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid Jesus. With the attributes of True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid, we can only reach one conclusion. Jesus on Earth, was definitely a man of integrity. The Pharisees and Herodians, in their attempts to be tricky, were more correct that they ever knew. Jesus was and had to be an earthy “man of intergrity” because, He is in fact the God of integrity. Psalm 118:29 says Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; and his love endures forever.” The God of integrity is the source of honesty, the source of morality, the source of righteousness, the source of truthfulness and the source of sincerity. Jesus, the son of God was honest, moral, righteous, trustworthy and sincere. He was not only full of integrity, He is the God of integrity. He is the only one that Father God accepted as a “purification for our sins” (Hebrews 1:3). He is the Jesus, crucified, died, buried and arose from the dead. Jesus was a man of integrity because he is the God of integrity.

1. Edward W. Goodrick and John R Kohlenberger III, The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance, Zondervan, 1993                                                                                          2.The NIV Study Bible, The Zonvervan Corporation, 1995

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Because You are God

Because you are God, I praise You. In my attempt to praise you, my offerings and terminology may not be correct. But, you are God! Therefore, I attempt to give you my best. Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise? (Psalm 106:1-2, NIV)

“When a Christian Freaks Out!” Romans 6:11-14

Romans 6:11-14

“In the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore do no let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”

Have you seen Christians who freak out (v. lose or cause to lose emotional control from extreme excitement, shock, fear, joy, despair, etc.) regularly?  I mean someone who is prone to lose all self-control.  If you stood next to a professing non-believer when they’re in the middle of their tirade; you’d be unable to distinguish who was the unbeliever.

Have you talked to a Christian friend who was able to openly admit to “freaking out” due to a major unexpected life-event? It may have been losing a job, a home foreclosure, adult children issues, older-parent issues, or maybe even the unexpected death of a loved-one.

What can we do when a Christian is “freaking-out?”  That’s the time to encourage them to fervently pray to God. (Psalm 32:5-6) Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.”

I had an occasion just last week when I was “freaking-out”.  It was just a little thing.  My work schedule changed, unexpectedly and I allowed it to cause a domino-effect, because there were things I needed to get done before leaving home for work. My well-ordered morning schedule of the past weeks was in disarray, and I needed to either move faster, slow the clock down, or just leave some things undone.  Instead of choosing, I “freaked out” , the old sin-nature took over faster than you can imagine and it scared me to the point that I stopped, got a pen and completed a Behavioral Observation on myself.  I spoke to God, “Lord, you are too good to me, for me to act like this!”

When I finished the exercise, God had taken control of the situation, and put me back together again in an amazing way! God’s grace (Unmerited favor) is sufficient. I’m hoping that admitting to “freaking-out” though embarrasing, may help someone during a “crisis of belief” to trust God instead of “freaking-out.”

Prayer: “Lord, please help us to confidently put our trust in you to keep us and life’s situations under control before we over-react, during our crisis of belief. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Article Originally in Homewords News, July 2011

 

 

Psalm 37:25 – Bible Verse and Reflection

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Psalm 37:25

Salvation through Jesus is my personal choice. No one can obtain salvation for me. However, many of my blessings were not due to my choices, but the faithfulness of my grandparents and parents to God’s word. I pray that my personal choices of following God bring blessings to my children and grandchildren.

Happy New Year to All!

We at Homewords Ministry hope that all had a God Blessed Christmas and we pray that God’s continued Blessings be yours in 2015.

Please excuse our silence for about 45 days. Our Bible Study took a forced break because Glenda was in the hospital for 21 days, undergoing cancer surgeries.  One of our priorities at this time is to follow God’s guidance, in the daily processes of  adapting to the changes that will give Glenda a renewed quality of life.

We give thanks to God for successfully bringing Glenda and the family through a very difficult 21 days. We give thanks to God for sustaining us in the challenges ahead, as we know that the days of hospitalization are just the beginning.  We thank all of you for your continued prayers during this difficult time. Through it all we hold to; But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. (Psalm 73:28)

Toward the task ahead of renewing the Bible Studies and blogs, please continue to pray that we do God’s will, as you hear more for us in the future.

“Thank You God, for The Times You’ve Said “No”

When we ask God (through prayer) to meet our needs, we expect Him to answer “yes,” every time. We’ve already had the time to assess and examine our situation; therefore, we know that we do need God’s help. The help we want from Him (as our Father) is His endorsement, His permission, and His granting of our wish. God’s love for us and His moral attributes will not allow Him to give us His endorsement, His permission, or His wish fulfillment to all that his beloved children request of Him.

“God is just and righteous because He reacts to law—His Law. His love has a self-imparting quality that leads God to seek the highest good for His Creation (us) and to seek complete possession of us”. Psalm 145:9, 15-20a: – “The Lord is good to all he has made. You give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him.” Romans 2:2-4 “You, therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance, and patience not realizing that God’s kindness leads toward repentance?” (Cook pg. 6) Thank you God, for the times you’ve said “no.”

“God’s love seeks to reclaim those who wander from Him”. Jeremiah 50:6 – “My people have been lost; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountains and hill and forgot their own resting place. Whoever found them devoured them; their enemies said, “We are not guilty, for they sinned against the Lord, their true pasture, the Lord, the hope of their fathers.” (Cook pg. 7) Thank you God, for the times you’ve said, “No” to us economically. You’ve changed our financial structure, financial contracts, resources, job security, positions, titles, and our tenure. This has caused a domino effect in the whole world’s finance system.

“He desires to seek and to save those who are lost because of His Love.”

2 Peter 3:3-9 – “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is the coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water by water. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (Cook Pg 6) Thank you God, for the times you’ve said “no” to our hanging out with the wrong crowd.

“God is all powerful. He can do any/all things consistent with His nature and purpose. He is able to do all that He wills to do. God does what is right.” Romans 1:16-17a – “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith.” (Cook pg 5) Thank you God, for the times you’ve said “no” by preventing us from moving forward, without your direction. We were packed up and ready to go to what we perceived as the next logical step, you, God were able to bring everything to a screeching halt.

We often respond negatively to God’s refusals to us, His answers of “no.” Some of us truly grieve at the loss of God’s endorsement, His permission, and His granting of our wishes. Others may resort to pouting, complaining, passive-aggressive behavior, or by shutting down to a life-long pity party. Still others may decide to try another god who is permissive, and caters to all of their whims until it’s time for the natural and logical consequences to occur. James 1:2-8 reminds us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If anyone likes wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

When we are faced with any situation, know that all things begin and end with God for the Believer. When answers are needed, be humble and courageous enough to go to the source (God) for all answers, for the Believer.

Prayer: Thank you God, for restraining us by saying, “No.” We humbly receive your corrections with gratitude to you, in the matchless name of Jesus, Amen.

Rev. Glenda Brunson

1.All scriptures from the NIV Study Bible, The Zondervan Corporation, 1995

2.Cook, James L., Introduction to Theology, A Summery Outline, St. Petersburg Theological Seminary

(Reprint from August 2010 Facebook)

A Prayer for My Children:

Dear God, Thank you for my children. Thanks for the gift of me being their daddy. Thank you for the woman you have ordained to be their mother. As I see what they have become, it appears that we have handled what God has trusted us with successfully. All that they have accomplished is not because we have  done anything on our own. It Dear God, is because of You. So,  I simply thank You for compelling us to follow Your leadership and instructions. Because our children belong to You, and You have put them in our trust, You has decided  what You wanted them to be, accomplish and achieve. I hope we have followed the instructions of You the creator to the best of our ability. That was all that we could do. And, as I am now a grandparent, I understand that is all my parents did, simply follow the guidance of God in preparing me for life. Finally God, As my children are now parents, I Pray that they will never forget: 1. To train up their children (a child) in the way they should go and when they are old they will no turn from it (Proverbs 22:6). 2. To be righteous in the Lord, for an inheritance of success for your children, as David says, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken  or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). 3. And, to always follow the guidance of God, because “….. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. (Psalm 112 1-2). In the Name of Jesus I pray Amen