Can egalitarian titles also be a matter of conceit and haughtiness? Can such seemingly humble labels also be pride disguised as humility? It kind of reminds me of a tongue-in-cheek saying which, according to the grapevine is popular in the Philippines: We're humble and proud of it. Jesus' discouraged the proud and arrogant insistence upon titles. Whether or not we call each other brother this or sister that is probably not so important. The fact is we ARE all brothers and sisters. That's what Jesus said.
Paul called himself a father to the Corinthians. Father means an initiator, a promoter, a sponsor, a director, a forerunner or spiritual predecessor. Reverend means someone who is loved and honored. Pastor simply means shepherd. Mister coming from master can mean teacher.
Jesus then did not condemn titles per se, but the attitude of using titles for wrong purposes, such as self promotion and self aggrandizement. The greatest among you must be a servant. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled. That's what Jesus said.
Psychological dependence on the praise of others leads to spiritual, physical, social and emotional destruction. Dependency upon others' praise makes us people pleasers rather than God pleasers. In leadership, decisions are made to please people rather than God. Warning signs of this addiction in us are if we do all our deeds to be seen by others, love attention-grabbing religious garb, love the chief seats and to be greeted with religious titles in public places. That's what Jesus said.
Other Christians also bear heavy loads. They have missed the boat on grace and mercy. For whatever reason, they have landed in the midst of Christian Pharisees who have taught them a touch not, taste not religion. They have learned all the rules they must keep in order to belong to their Ordnung or sect, but have learned little of the grace of Christ.
Such Christians have been given heavy burdens, hard to bear. Their pastors don't bear the same burdens that they expect their people to carry and they are unwilling to lift the burdens that they have laid upon their churches. That's what Jesus said. I say let God's people go free.
Legalism tends to make us hard on others and soft on ourselves, because we cannot keep all of our petty rules perfectly. It creates hypocrisy, a form of self-deception. Mature Christians acknowledge flaws easily and don't pretend. Their preaching is merciful. The best preaching is open and honest about our own vulnerability. Then we are sincere and not pretenders. We are not play-acting or putting on a phony facade. We are genuine. It's not so hard to practice what we preach if what we preach is grace instead of legalism.
On the other hand, there are criticisms of church overseers which are legitimate. When religious leaders do their job badly and are not reprimanded for their sins, the result is far more damaging. Jesus mentioned at least four valid criticisms in Matthew 23. They don't practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands. Everything they do is for show. They love receiving public honor. When church leaders fall for these traps, then sorrow awaits them. That's what Jesus said.
Josephus records that the Pharisees were held in high esteem at this time in history, and some of them even became Christians, but the movement as a whole rejected God's Messiah and his divinity. Religious leadership had become corrupt beyond repair and it was time for change.
A nation's real leadership is among its spiritual heads. But, whenever religious leaders fall for the trap of an outward show to be seen by others, and the focus is on pious attire, when priests and pastors love the best seats, when they love public prestige and high titles, then a nation is in dire trouble. That's what Jesus said.
Jesus did not deal with this matter privately but rather addressed his denunciation of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees to the crowds and his disciples. Paul also encouraged Timothy to publicly rebuke sinful leaders. Jesus strongly urges his hearers to follow the teachings of Moses that these religious leaders expounded, but not to do as they did, play the hypocrite. Any of us deserves the same criticism if we are like them. They didn't practice what they taught. That's what Jesus said.
A common phrase regarding God in the Old Testament identifies him as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Long after they had died, God said, “I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” He did not say, “I WAS their God.” Although we know very little about the nature of eternity and the resurrection, we have quite a remarkable comment in Matthew 22:32. "He is the God of the living, not the dead.” That’s what Jesus said.
God’s intent for sex from the beginning was a man and a woman in an exclusive, life-long relationship. That quarantine guarantees the necessary protection for a family and the healthiest environment for nurturing the next generation. It is a deep bond with potential for the greatest human joy, yet surely what awaits us in eternity is even greater pleasure. Heavenly relationships will not be something less than marriage, but more. After all, our delight won’t be limited by a physical body, but we will be like the angels in heaven. That’s what Jesus said.
The idea of these being kings may be correct based upon Psalm 72:10-11 where some kings were predicted to bring the Messiah tribute. The depiction of three kings in a stable is however, is probably not correct, because by the time they arrived, the family was already in a house (Matthew 2:11). Xmas is an opportunity to remember Jesus' birth and read the story in the Bible so that we can get it correct. May your Xmas be one filled with every blessing!
(Although I could go on, I will stop here with #10)
Some Christians believe that the only festivals with authority from God are those celebrated in the Old Testament. They claim that the Christian church has changed the times and laws without God’s authority as Daniel 7:25 prophesied. Is it wrong to invent days to celebrate Christ, or must we only keep the worship festivals of Leviticus 23? Old Testament festivals basically celebrated Old Testament events. No Old Testament festival celebrated Christ’s birth or his resurrection. Are we supposed to ignore these important events?
Ancient Israel added Hanukkah and Purim to its religious calendar. These events celebrated God's intervention in Jewish history and they were acceptable to him. The ancient king David also added temple worship, something that the pagan nations about were doing, yet God approved of it. The church has the same freedom to add festivals that celebrate very important things such as the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. May your Xmas be one filled with every blessing!
The most famous story about him was that a poor man could not afford the dowry for his three daughters to get married and Nicholas gave him the money. He became famous for gifts to the poor. Today in Demre, Turkey, near the ruins of ancient Myra, are two statues of Santa Claus. One is the real man and the other is the modern commercialized version. So you see Santa Claus was a real person. May your Xmas be one filled with every blessing!
It is only a hasty and careless inspection that assumes that Jeremiah is describing a Christmas tree. The Bible neither encourages, nor forbids the Christmas tree. It is a strictly neutral thing which, like all things, can be used for either good or evil. We can use it to remind us of the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, or that a righteous person is like a tree planted by the waters, and so on. May your Xmas be one filled with every blessing!
In Greek, God is Θεος (theos) and so a popular abbreviation for God has been the Greek letter Θ (pronounced either theeta, or thayta). Likewise, Christ in Greek is Χριστος (pronounced either Kristos or with a hard h-sound KHristos). So, the abbreviation for Christ is the first Greek letter X of his name (prounced either khye or khee), which looks like our English letter X. And so, a legitimate abbreviation for Christmas is Xmas. Rather than leaving Christ out with the abbreviation, I prefer to also remember the cross and Easter in the abbreviation Xmas. May your Xmas be one filled with every blessing!
In a classic war of words, the Sadducees tried to deceive Jesus into agreeing with their viewpoint. Their trap was in the form of a classic riddle regarding the resurrection – whose wife would a seven-time widow be? This was their flawed attempt to disprove the resurrection. Just as modern liberals do, they tried to minimize the power of God. How would we answer such people? Would we tell them, “You don’t know the power of God?” That’s what Jesus said.
Beginning in Matthew 22:23, some Sadducees tried to trap Jesus into stating his opinion without giving him the full story, excluding pertinent facts. Whose wife would a woman be in the resurrection if she had been married and widowed 7 times? The solution to this problem is the same with any fallacy of exclusion: fill in the missing information – there is no marriage in the resurrection. Jesus informed them of their fallacy: “Your mistake is you don’t know the Scriptures.” That’s what Jesus said.