Self-Serving Thief, Part Two


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English: The Last Supper

English: The Last Supper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my last post, I talked about Judas – his background, his calling by Jesus, and some possible motives for sinning.  Today, I’d like to look more at the character of Judas.

John 12:1-8 shows Judas true heart towards people and God:

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[b]” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Judas only cared about the money.  Further, he only cared about himself. Judas didn’t care about the poor, seeing people healed, or Jesus’ salvation plan. He only cared about what was in it for him.  Let’s look at the trigger event that could have caused the betrayal:

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you,[c] but you will not always have me.”

Jesus rebuked Judas. So what does Judas do?  Let’s look at the account of Matthew, which I believe is in chronological order.  Matthew 26:6-13 is the account of what we just read about Martha and the perfume and Jesus’ rebuke to Judas.  In the Matthew account, Judas is not named. Instead, it is toward the disciples that Jesus speaks.  But in verse 14-16, we see Judas going to the chief priests:

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

So Judas was hurt by Jesus’ rebuke. His ego was crushed. His pride brought low. Instead of seeking forgiveness, Judas sought to get back at Jesus, to ruin him. As I was reading this account, it reminded me of the interaction between Cain and God. Genesis 4:1-8:

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

Wow. Isn’t this comparison startling to anyone but me?  Again, Cain could have reacted so much differently. Instead of listening to God, he killed his brother. If you read further in the account, he is sent away, but God still loves him — placing a mark on him so no one would murder him. Cain commits the first murder and God still takes care of him!

Similarly, Jesus rebukes Judas, but instead of turning, he acts on his anger and goes to meet with the chief priests. Jesus still is patient with Judas. He gives him yet more time to change. Wow. Can you just see the patience that God has for us?!

Judas was a heart hearted fool.  I like how Matthew Henry describes Judas best:

Judas, as an apostate, was guilty of the basest treachery: he lifted up the heel against Christ.

[1.] He forsook him, turned his back upon him, went out from the society of his disciples, John 13:30.

[2.] He despised him, shook off the dust of his feet against him, in contempt of him and his gospel. Nay,

[3.] He became an enemy to him; spurned at him, as wrestlers do at their adversaries, whom they would overthrow.

Note, It is no new thing for those that were Christ’s seeming friends to prove his real enemies. Those who pretended to magnify him magnify themselves against him, and thereby prove themselves guilty, not only of the basest ingratitude, but the basest treachery and perfidiousness.

No excuses for Judas. He sat under Christ’s teachings, he had opportunity for change and growth, and yet he chose to betray the Lord. Despite Jesus patience and love for Judas, even washing the man’s feet, Judas still could not accept Jesus. He let sin master him and eventually it took him over:

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side,so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him,“What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. (John 13:21-30, ESV)

Are we like Judas? Do we sit in church and listen, thinking we are walking with God but have no love for our Lord? Do we look for opportunities to love him more or are we self-seeking? When someone rebukes us in a Christ-like, loving manner, do we run away from the church or God and find ways to “get back” at them?

I have been guilty of this in the past. I will post more about Judas, but I just want to say how this study has really changed me. I feel like God is teaching me so much using this example of Judas. We can’t look at sin lightly.  We must not let it master us.  In the next few posts, I’ll try to look at how we can lean into Christ and put away self.


Lord help my unbelief


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The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...

I’ve realized that I’m having a crisis in my faith. Not a full blown crisis, mind you. More like, I need to fix this somehow or I don’t think I can keep believing in what I believe.

A problem that I have has sort of gone under the radar. It’s easy to cover up my true feelings with lots of nice sounding Bible sayings or verse to quote. And I find myself trying more and more to convince myself of this thing and yet I still in my heart can’t really grasp it.

The problem I have is that I don’t really think God is good. I know, please don’t shoot me. I would never utter such words usually, but that is what it boils down to.   God’s best for me in the past looks like a jumbled mess of death, graveyards, and loss.

I’m supposed to trust God with the rest of my days when I take a look in the rear view mirror and the path is lined with gravestones and fear. At night when I lay my head down and try to convince myself that God will protect me, how do I reconcile this? How do I convince myself that God is for me, that He loves me, that He will protect me and keep me safe and hold my family in His arms when all I have known of His plan is that sometimes God’s best is letting people I love die in tragic ways.

Those are just the major things His plan has shown me. Of course there are good things in God’s plan too. I’m not even saying that God doesn’t provide blessings. And I’m not thinking that my life is supposed to be a bed of roses, but I feel like I can’t move on or trust God completely if I’m sitting here, secretly thinking that God’s best is scary and awful and that he won’t really protect me if it benefits His plan.

And if I’m being truly honest, I’m just a pawn piece in some chess game that can be kicked out of the game if necessary. That honestly doesn’t make me feel loved at all. And I realize how heretical this is of me to even say. I feel guilt about it and sadness, but I’m struggling. I want to understand it. I want to trust. But I honestly don’t. And now I feel stuck.

So Lord help my unbelief because I can’t keep this up. I need a new perspective. Mine stinks.

Be still my soul


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Sometimes I’m much too introspective. I get into my head a little too much. I think too much. I over analyze too much. It’s never good. In fact, it leaves me feeling down at times because my thoughts aren’t perfect. Far from it, actually.

I’ve had this hymn stuck in my head the last few days. I like Page CXVI‘s version of it (it’s catchy).  It’s called Be Still, My Soul:

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Even when we think we are being still, our thoughts can often times make us feel uneasy. They can flood us with doubts and anxieties and fears. They can lead us astray. Even in thinking. I find it’s the thinking that gets the best of me. I find those moments before I drift off to sleep to be the hardest ones. What is going to happen to my kids? What will happen to me? I can’t prevent bad outcomes, so what if something happens that I can’t control? What if I fall apart? What if I can’t ever be normal again? What if I lose everything? Answer: Be still my soul, for God is on your side.

You can listen to this version below:

We are His


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We move, we breath, we walk
We live, we smile, we talk
But we forget what this world brings
We forget we are hanging by a simple string
And if we knew how fragile life be
Maybe we’d love more graciously
And if we knew who held us in place
Maybe we’d thank God for His undeserving grace
For without Him we’d know nothing but death
So thank the Lord that gave you this breath
and let each second remind you of this: 
He rescued us and we are His.



A Self-Serving Thief, Part One


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For my women’s Bible Study, we are studying Judas.  To get an idea of what I have initially thought of Judas, let me start by saying I have always felt sorry for Judas. I thought at times he was a victim of God’s plan.  That God had somehow made his heart sinful.  That Judas wasn’t really given a chance to change. I didn’t like the thought of election because it meant that there was never any hope for Judas. I thought that God had sentenced him to hell from birth.  And that is about where I began when I started studying his character.

I’m glad God gives me insight and changes my faulty views.  What I thought about Judas was incorrect and what I thought about God was also flawed.  So God is so kind to change my heart towards Him and to help me understand His word better.

What do we know about Judas Iscariot’s background?

As far as we know, Judas was the son of Simon (John 6:71).  His surname was “Iscariot” which means “a man of Karioth”.  This probably means the place of origin which best fits a place name in southern Judea.  Some think Kerioth-Hezron is the place as mentioned in Joshua 15:25.  So Judas was then the only apostle to come from Judea. The others all came from Galilee.

Judas as a disciple:

Judas was called, as were the other 11, by Jesus himself. Let’s look at Matthew 10:1-4 (you can also find another account of this in Luke 6:12-16):

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

So Judas was given authority to drive out spirits along with all the other disciples that were called. Judas may have even converted people to following Jesus.

Quickly, here are some things Judas experienced and witnessed as a disciple:

  • The crowds were often so big, they did not eat (Mark 3:20)
  • Jesus own family thought he was out of his mind (Mark 3:20) – think how maybe Judas saw this interaction (wow, even his own family doesn’t believe him!)
  • The Jews did not believe in their own. (John 12:37)
  • The Pharisees and Sadducees, so called keepers of God’s law, didn’t even see him as the Son of God, looking for ways to have him arrested and killed. (John 7:40-52)
  • He witnessed healings and the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, and 5)
  • Judas sat under the teachings of Jesus (One example: John 8:39-47)
  • Judas watched some of Jesus friends be accused of crimes (Plot to Kill Lazarus, John 12:9-10)
  • Judas listened to Jesus talk about his own death (John 12:27-36; Matt. 26:1-2) – Maybe he felt that Jesus had failed in becoming King?
  • Judas experience fellowship with Jesus and those close to him. He was allowed an intimate relationship with Jesus and with the disciples.

Matthew Henry says this about Judas as a disciple:

Judas, as an apostle, was admitted to the highest privilege: he did eat bread with Christ. He was familiar with him, and favoured by him, was one of his family, one of those with whom he was intimately conversant. David saith of his treacherous friend, He did eat of my bread; but Christ, being poor, had no bread he could properly call his own. He saith, He did eat bread with me; such as he had by the kindness of his friends, that ministered to him, his disciples had their share of, Judas among the rest. Wherever he went, Judas was welcome with him, did not dine among servants, but sat at table with his Master, ate of the same dish, drank of the same cup, and in all respects fared as he fared. He ate miraculous bread with him, when the loaves were multiplied, ate the passover with him. Note, All that eat bread with Christ are not his disciples indeed. See 1 Cor. 10:3-5.

I Corinthians 10:3-5 says “and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Let’s just stop here for today and think about this for a moment.  Judas was allowed all the priveleges of being one of Jesus called and chosen disciples. He was allowed a front seat to it all. He could get his questions answered, he could seek the truth, he could obtain understanding if he really wanted to. 

There is one last point I will make.  No one really understands truly what the motives were behind Judas’ treachery.  The Bible doesn’t clearly state why Judas did it. But there are clues as to what his heart really loved: money, wealth, and self.

Judas could have positioned himself in this group because Jesus was a charismatic speaker, drawing crowds and crowds of people around him. Judas saw opportunity.

Sin often starts with an opportunistic attitude, does it not? We see something we want, there lies the opportunity (temptation), we go for it and then we are in sin. So what we must take away from this is that sin is crouching at every door and it desires to have us (Genesis 4:6), but we must master it. We must flee temptation. A little thought can lead us into big trouble.

I will post more about Judas in the upcoming days. But for now, are there some little sins that you don’t pay mind to?  Ask God to help you see sin as sin and to know the seriousness of those sins. Don’t let sin have you.

Judas Goes to Find the Jews

Judas Goes to Find the Jews (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An Unbreakable Covenant


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The Israelites Leaving Egypt

The Israelites Leaving Egypt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them. (Psalm 44:1-3)

This passage speaks to me of Sovereign Election. Again, I see how God has chosen the Israelites, but drove out other nations. “But them you planted” refers to the Israelites. Here is another verse:

And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. (2 Samuel 7:10)

Why did God decide to save Israel, but “drive out the nations” around them? Because God chose them.  More specifically, He loved them. Here we see God again explaining His love for His people:

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.(Deuteronomy 7:6-7)

God chose to love them. He didn’t look at them and think them well-deserving. No. He just loved them. Why? Often times I ask that.  God, why did you choose me? There is no real answer except to say that God has grace on me for not other reason because God is merciful.

To state that I had a hand in my own salvation would be similar to the Israelites stating they had a hand in their own saving from being driven away and afflicted by God’s wrath. It isn’t true. God decided in His own mercy to save them. They had no hand in it. He made a promise to their fathers.  What was this promise? Let’s look:

Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever. (Exodus 32:13)

In Genesis 15, God promised Abraham offspring. He told him to number the stars and that God would bless him with as many as were in the sky. The land was another promise but it would be given to his offspring and they would inherit forever, even though Abraham would never see this in his own lifetime.

The Exodus and saving of the Israelites is a picture for us as Christians. We were chosen and called, loved for no other reason except that God is a wonderful King, and we are given a land of Promise that can never be destroyed. We are saved from an eternal death in hell and rescued from Satan’s grip. We don’t know why. We just know God’s love is great for us and that He has tremendous amounts of grace for His people.  There are things we won’t understand in this lifetime, but we can be confident that our salvation is real and that God calls us to Himself.

What a gift!

Prayer and how I lack


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Prayer is a hard thing for me. I think, from what I hear, it is hard for everyone.  Why is it so hard to go to God with our concerns? Why do we feel the need to do everything ourselves?  Why is it that we only cry out when we are at the end of ourselves?

One word: Pride.

What would have happened had Eve cried out in her temptation by Satan?  Things would have turned out a lot different for Eve, I think.

Yet I can’t complain about Eve. I’m a lot like her. I think I can do things my own, feel I have more insight or knowledge in an area when clearly I don’t.  I think I am my own master, my own God. I don’t consciously say these things to myself, no.  This is a much deeper sin and more deceptive sin than most. It hides behind a face that appears loyal to God, yet it isn’t. These lips deceive the deepest parts of me. These thoughts whisper that it is not sin…it’s simply using the gift God gave me to make a wise decision without Him.  How sad I am!

My thoughts focus lately on the fact that I need to pray. With prayer, I am able to see how selfish I’m being (Dear Lord, Help me prayers are fine, but when it’s always about me…something is wrong).  Prayer helps me see where I am not walking in truth.  Prayer helps me focus on loving my enemies.  Prayer helps me focus on accepting God’s love for me.  And when I pray, I don’t have time to complain. Prayer lifts my spirits and puts my focus back on God, not self. Prayer is so important and yet I fail so many times to see how good it is.

My prayers don’t move God.  My prayers allow God to work in me.  My prayers put my heart back in tune with what God wants — His will, His love for me, His plan. When I don’t pray, I put the focus back on myself.  I become my own God. And Lord knows I fail…and I fail hard.

So this week my focus is to pray, in every and all circumstance.  I can’t always open my lips to pray, but my heart is praying and my thoughts are thinking about God. You don’t have to shove yourself in a prayer closet.  Pray without ceasing, friends…in your heart, in your head, in your actions. Prayer is an attitude.  It’s not about me, it’s about the one I’m praying to.


Prayers (Photo credit: Xerones)

The Doctrines of Grace


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Cover of "Concise Theology: A Guide to Hi...

Cover via Amazon

I know not everyone believes in election, or predestination. I know it’s taken me many years to understand what it actually means and I’m still learning. I have read many of John Piper‘s answers to certain questions I’ve had. I’ve watched video’s by RC Sproul. Recently, I’ve been studying the Doctrines of Grace in John with a DVD Series by Steven Lawson. Another thing I’ve done that has helped tremendously, is I ordered a book by J. I. Packer entitled, Concise Theology.  Best book ever, I think, about getting things from scripture worked out in my brain and heart.

I do believe it is scriptural that Christ opens our hearts in order for him to come in and change us, or for us to even accept him.  We were hell bent fools before He died for us, accepting our punishment and pain.  I do believe Christ has mercy on whom he will have mercy and hardens hearts whom he chooses to harden (Romans 9).  I believe we were given to Jesus as a gift by the Father to his Son (John 17). I do believe Jesus knows our names and at the cross, He thought of those whom God had given him and died specifically for us there at the cross. He did not die for the ones he never elected — the ones who were not chosen as the love gift from His Father.

Some people say it is elitist to think you are elect. I think it is elitist to think you are not, if you are. Who are we to say God is not fair?  Who are we to judge His character? The Bible states in Romans 9:

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Isn’t it elitist to think we know better than God? J.I. Packer says this about the conflict:

It is possible for people to be enlightened to the point of knowing inwardly that Jesus is the divine Savior he claims to be, and still not be willing to admit it publicly, because of all the behavior changes that such an admission would make necessary. It is possible to try to make oneself feel good about one’s own moral dishonesty by inventing reasons, no matter how absurd, for not treating Jesus as worthy of one’s allegiance.

I could say a lot more on this subject, and probably will, but here are a few verses that I’ll add to the mix to end:

  • John 10:1-5 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
  • 2 Peter 1:10 “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13 – “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”
  • Romans 9:11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls”
  • Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”