Evernote for Ministry Research

I’m always on the lookout for anything that can assist me in cataloging and storing resources. When I first started this blog, I wanted to give appropriate references. What I needed was a reference manager, and I couldn’t find one. Now I have Zotero, but for a while there, all my research was lost. If that ever happens to you, I wrote an article on how to get it back. It takes like 21 steps.

I also have been looking for a way to save webpages. I’ve done it in Zotero, and I’ve saved to PDF. But often I’m in a hurry, and the endless “save to” “Save as” process of saving a web page to PDF was truly irritating.

And it left you with no real way to catalog what you saved. So to write an article sometimes took hours, if not days. The worst was when I saw an article on an official Seventh Day Adventist website where they credited the man who influenced Charles Taze Russell’s corrupt theology as being “A genuine Seventh Day Adventist.”

It created a hoo-rah of controversy when I published the post, and the SDA website pulled the quote from the article.

Enter Evernote. If I’d had Evernote, I could have saved it as an article, added keywords, and then clipped the address to Zotero. No kidding. Real quick to do.

If you’re involved in Christian ministry, Evernote is a tool you need. I think the best bet is to get the Plus membership, at $32 a year. I’ve gone a year with it at the free level, but some months I’m pretty much stopped cold by the 10th day because I’m almost at my free limit. I’m either going to get the Business level (which is on sale) or the plus level.

Get into the habit of clipping things. Have a default category, then plan out an admin day every month where you go through all your clippings and categorize them into the correct notebooks, and add appropriate tags, like “quote later” “Heretic”, etc.


Embarassing Newspaper article

Years ago, I remember growing up in New England. Well, I remember it TODAY… but I grew up years ago in New England. I remember the huge media buzz about Pope John Paul was coming to Massachusetts, and the newspapers were buzzing about the details etc.
Sept 30, the stadium will be readied.
Sept 31, they will begin assembling the stadium for the Pope’s appearance
Oct. 1, the Pope will speak.

I wonder how long it took for them to realize there’s no Sept. 31?

There you go. Free sermon illustration from a man who hates Sermon illustrations.

When you preach this, please remember to point out Pope John Paul II was not a Christian. He was a Roman Catholic, believed in Salvation by Works, and was totally devoted to Mary.

Longing for the Ministry

I’ve spent years preparing for the pulpit, praying for it, studying for it, working on advancing my knowledge of it.

PreachPhoto by Andrew Yardley on Unsplash

One of the biggest disappointments of my life is the realization that this may not be what God has in store for me.

I’m really not sure, but I really would have thought that after 5 years of doing this blog, that a church somewhere would have contacted me and said, “Hey, you’re exactly the kind of pastor we’ve been looking for.”

Especially after my series’ on church planting, pastoring, sermon writing, etc.In 2015 I put a lot of work into articles on how any man can start the process of being a pastor. What it entails. How to prepare. How even to get into a seminary. How to study the bible. How to preach. How to name a church.

It’s leading me to believe that perhaps the ministry I’ve been praying for.. Is the one I’ve been doing all along.

This blog.

That realization hit me hard. I did break down and weep when I realized it. But very often, the people in the Bible prayed to be able to do one thing, and eventually had to bow to God’s will, not their own.

If God wanted me to pastor, then it would have happened already. So what I’ve got is probably this.

The essential part of the Christian life is that some get to choose what ministry they want to perform for the Lord. Others do not.
And submission to what God wants is a major part of the Christian life.

It’s truly painful to realize it.

But God’s will be done.

The Lord has allowed this ministry to me, and I’m thankful for it.

The Pastor’s Study

I’ve talked about this program before.

pastors study
The Pastor’s Study – Click the graphic to download!

Here’s a list of sermons I did a few years ago.

I think this program is indispensable. You can track your visitation schedule, contact info for congregation, library, journal entries, Sermon illustrations, and interact with your chosen word processor, presentation program, and even open your chosen Bible program – all from within this program! This literally is a Pastor’s office inside a single program!

I keep my download files (most of the time) so I could offer it – but i’d need his permission. And there’s no way to reach him right now. UPDATE 2017: HERE IT IS!!!! Click Here to download! (thanks to Worthy of Praise for changing my web hosting plan to accommodate this!)

Anyway, it’s possible to write your sermon in this program, and then print out the pages. I never used it for that, I just used it to catalog all my sermons.

If you’re the author of this program, I’d love to hear from you.

Anyway, what I did was write it in Wordsearch (now that I’m used to Logos’s much better word processor, the Wordsearch one seems hideous to me), and then open The Pastor’s Study and enter it in there.

The interesting thing for me is to begin to see how I’ve preached the verses 1 Cor. 10:13, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 2:6, 1 Kings 19:4, 1 Kings 19:18, 1 Peter 1:23, 1 Peter 3:15, 1 Thess. 4:14, 1 Thess. 5:23-24, 1 Tim. 4:6, 2 Thess. 2:13-15, 2 Tim. 2:11-13… and many more.

It’s exciting.

I’m really tickled to see in my mind the outline of the Bible, and little check-marks where I’ve preached. This can help you to focus and think, “Okay, I’m always in 1 & 2 Timothy, and Matthew…” and start looking at quoting other texts too.

If your church is actually in a building, and not a rented place or a house church, I’d make the report list and print it on the wall right next to my computer. Maybe in a gilded fancy frame.

Because it’s a huge thing, to me able to meet the Lord face to face and tell Him, “I’ve preached from every book of the Bible.”

And of course, to see His smile, and the gentle response, “And you got every one of them wrong.”

But anyway, you tried!

Download this tremendously cool ( – and free!) program! You’ll be glad you did if you’re in the ministry!


4 Reasons to Invest more time in Preaching

I’ve listened to a lot of Independent Baptist Preachers, trying to find someone GOOD to listen to. There’s remarkably few good Independent Fundamental Baptist preachers.

Now, there may be some with a gentle style, like some of the classic radio preachers. There may be some with a fiery style. There’s quite a few with a folksy style.

None of that matters if your teaching quantity in the sermon equals zilch.

Today’s IFB congregation cries out to be fed. They can go to SermonAudio or Soundfaith and listen to Marc Monte, Dan Botterbrodt, and a few others I’ve heard with good teaching quality. There was an IFB preacher I used to like, but he’s a hyper-dispensationalist, and he came under some kind of absolutely bizarre home church only conviction, where he thinks the father is automatically the preacher spoken of in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus.

No, Not so much.

You, as a Pastor, need to rapidly re-evaluate your sermon system. I know of one who works three jobs, and writes his sermons at 0130 hours Sunday morning. It’s fresh for him by the time he gets into the pulpit, but unless he’s an exceptional preacher, the teaching content can’t be all that high.

So let’s look at why you should invest some serious time into your preaching.

  1. To prove you are a workman to be approved. All Pastors will have to stand before Christ and give an account. Many, Many IFB pastors are going to be questioned on why their preaching was so slap-dash and haphazard. You want to hear “Well done” and not “I have somewhat against you.” You’re still saved, you just want to be able to stand in front of the Lord and hear that you did a good job!
  2. Your congregation is begging to be taught. You can bellow for 45 minutes every Sunday, but when someone brings you Romans 3:23 and asks you what that means, you better have an answer! To hear well done from the Lord, your congregation needs to be taught. If you’re called to be a preacher but just haven’t learned the Bible well enough to preach it, then cancel the golfing and get to studying.
  3. SermonAudio. Real Christians crave to hear the word of God. If you aren’t filling their ears with sound doctrine, someone is filling it with heresy. Listen to your congregation talk to each other at the next potluck, and listen to what they’re saying. If you hear the names “John MacArthur”, “Paul Washer”, “R. C. Sproul” and “John Piper” more than once, then you’re not feeding your congregation, Calvinists are. If you hear “Benny Hinn” more than once, you’ve got a serious problem.
  4. Up and coming pastors. What if you hear your congregation talking about “Philip Dean” and “Parsonage”? That’s not good – it means your congregation is getting ready to replace you with old grumpy Philip, and the only thing holding them back is trying to find a house for Mr. Dean! And of course, thanks to Faithful Baptist Bible College, theres many people coming out of a seminary with credentials and SERIOUS doctrine and learning.

The days are past where each preacher llives in a bubble. no kidding, it’s too easy to spot when you’re staling someone else’s work. Frank Norris admitted to one of his two congregations that every sermon he preached he stole from somebody – that’s going to be an awkward moment at the Believer’s judgment! My wife and I have literally spotted when someone has preached a message someone else wrote. -your congregation will too.

your congregation is crying out to be TAUGHT. Teach them! If they don’t like the teaching, then their pew spots will be taken up quickly by people who do. And trust me, if they’re going to leave because they’re offended that you taught from the Bible, then they weren’t going to stay long anyway!

The Sermon wrap-up

The writing of the sermon is done. As you saw, I ended up jettisoning about 50% of the work I did on it. Then why do all that work?

Two reasons. First, you need the confidence to get up and speak on a subject you absolutely know. I ended up going in a completely different direction than what I envisioned, and I think the sermon itself forced it.

The second reason is, that work is not wasted. You studied a lot, learned a lot. And the written text of a sermon is not final – I sometimes am skipping parts as I watch the congregation and their reactions – and that’s when my research will lead me to possibly offer up the definition of a hypocrite. I also ditched a sermon illustration, and held one more mentally in check. What you WRITE is not always what you SAY.

Now, for the delivery. The pulpit is not a cage, unless you only have the one microphone. I like to walk around a little. Little gestures here and there. If you’re looking at the congregation, they pay more attention. Try not to be distracted by a Deacon fast asleep in one row. It’s not always your preaching! Most Americans tend to go around in a complete state of exhaustion brought on by habitual dehydration, lack of fitness and muscle tone, and too much stimulation from television. THe odds of someone falling asleep during the service… well, it happens. That’s why you should consider a sermon on throwing out your television back in Matthew 5.

Remember, action. move around. Make eye contact. Vary your voice pitch. Go UP, go DOWN. And put some intensity in your voice. There’s room in here for intensity. It’s not a college lecture. Notice I really didn’t get into the whole “how to wash your hands in first century Israel”. I never mentioned an eggshell, I never mentioned large stone pitchers where water is kept. If your congregation perks up at this point in the sermon, by all means, deliver that. If they’re focusing on the sermon points, then skip it. You have to KNOW this material. That’s why we did about 8 hours of work on it. And don’t forget, you hae two more sermons to write this week.

The sermon ends when the congregation wakes up Monday morning. Everyone makes decisions they’re going to be more for the Lord on Sunday morning, as lunch is approaching. But as Lunch passes, so do the resolutions. If you preach it right… some of them begin to walk it Monday morning. That’s where the sermon REALLY is. It’s not you.

It’s your congregation. They ARE your sermon.

Give it your all.

The Sermon

Here is the complete sermon. It comes to about 31 minutes. you can download it here in PDF relationship-not-ritual, or copy and paste it from here into Logos and set the formatting.

Have Congregation turn to Matthew 15:1-9

Matthew 15:1–9 KJV

Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Let us pray.

We come to, in this passage, a place where we reach the heart of one of the Lord Jesus Christ’s prophesied ministries. The Jews expected that the Messiah would resolve disputes about the law. That’s why in one spot, a man in a crowd calls out to the Lord to bid his brother divide his inheritance. He knew the Messiah would judge. They had certain teachings in their writings that they had argued to a standstill, and could not resolve. When the Rabbi’s come to a place like that, they drop the issue and say, ‘It is for Moshiakh to decide.’ Literally, they expected Him to come in, kick out the Romans, usher in peace, and then sit down and say, all right, bring me the questions you could not resolve.

There’s a Chassidic story about a travelling Rabbi who went from town to town in Poland, and would speak to the Rabbi’s that gathered. And one day, his carriage driver noticed that all the Rabbi’s always asked the same question. So, he asked the Rabbi, “Why don’t i take your place tomorrow, and you take mine? I’ve heard your teachings, and heard your answers every day.” The Rabbi agreed. And at the next town, he gave the speech, got the usual questions, and gave the usual answers, and all the Rabbi’s nodded at his wisdom. Then, at the end, one Rabbi asked him a question he’d never heard before. So he said, “You’re wasting my time with so simple a question? Why, it’s so obvious, so simple, that I’ll have my driver answer it!”

The Pharisees had a question: Why don’t your disciples wash their hands before they eat? Doesn’t that make them ritually unclean? And doesn’t that make the food they eat unclean as well?

It’s a logical question. And today, we wash before meals because there’s a lot of yucky out there. Doorknobs, shopping carts,little kids with runny noses touching everything because that’s what kids do! So we wash to avoid getting some kind of horrible disease that will make you melt into a pool of slimy liquid.

But the Pharisees aren’t worried about health. It’s like when I was observant, wore a yarmulke and black hat, and EVERYONE just festered to tell me keeping kosher had to do with refrigeration and health. I’ve heard it a hundred times. My answer is always, “God commanded it so that we should be Holy. Nothing to do with refrigeration or health.”

And of course, they went on believing what they wanted to, because their minds are made up.

In this case, the Rabbi’s are not open to teaching. They’re convinced they’re right. It just never occurred to them that they’re wrong. And the Lord chooses this as an opportunity to explain, and for them to learn.

This brings us to our first question…

Why do we allow traditions to violate the word of God?

1. State

It’s in man’s nature to want to have ritual, to have a tradition. It takes away that fearful “Not knowing what to do” thing. The first guy does the offering, and he may raise a hand at the end of it, because he is trying to figure out how to end this sacrifice thing. Okay, the real answer is you say “Amen” and walk away, and do some reflection on it. But that’s uncomfortable for us. So we see him raise his hand, and we think, “That’s what you’re supposed to do.” So we get up, do the sacrifice, and at the end of it, we raise our hand. Then a month or a year later, if someone doesn’t raise their hand at the end, we debate whether the sacrifice is valid.

Let me put this in terms of Independent Baptists. We’re commanded to baptize new believers. So we stretch it, and we see Baptism is the door to the Local church. So, someone who’s already been baptized but doesn’t have a letter, we often advise them, “Hey, you might want to do that baptism thing again.” Why? Were you born again all over again?

So, Jesus Christ, His disciples, and a group of Scribes and Pharisees – the Sadducees haven’t come along yet and gotten involved – are arguing about ritual cleanliness. Why?

2. Educate

Because the Pharisees have seen that washing is to be done to promote ritual cleanliness in many situations, up to and including Baptism, which is called Mikveh. So, the assumption is that we should make sure we have not defiled ourselves by eating with impure hands. You’re working in the marketplace, some Gentile comes up and buys something from you. He hands you money that for all you know was in a pig’s mouth an hour ago. It could be ritually defiled. So, now you’re afraid to eat your food, because now it could transfer the defilement into your stomach.

The Lord’s not too worried about that. He does what the Messiah is supposed to do, and gives judgment on that. Know where?

Well, that’s next Sunday, but essentially the answer is given in verse 15 It’s not what goes in you, but what is coming out of your heart. Ritual cleanliness is a minor issue, the Lord was saying. And to drive that point home, and for other reasons besides, he quite simply takes away their temple 40 years later.

According to William Barclay’s commentary on Matthew,

The scribes and Pharisees are not ill-naturedly seeking to entangle Jesus. They are genuinely bewildered; and in a very short time they are going to be genuinely outraged and shocked; for the basic importance of this passage is that it is not so much a clash between Jesus and the Pharisees in a personal way; it is something far more—it is the collision of two views of religion and two views of the demands of God.

We do have to be careful of William Barclay’s opinions, as he was a theological modernist, and denied the virgin birth of Christ. It’s recorded in R. A. Torrey’s book The Fundamentals, which every Bible Believing Christian should read at least once, that you cannot deny the Virgin Birth and still believe in the deity of Christ. William Barclay is aware of his error now. Regretfully.

But in this rare occasion, he’s partially correct. The Pharisees this early are not setting traps for the Lord. They quite simply cannot understand His reasonings. He seems to follow Pharisee teachings in some cases, because they are correct, but he then disregards others! This is completely baffling to their way of thinking!

However, Barclay is also partially wrong. This is not a “excuse me Rabbi, but I was noticing…” kind of question. In the parallel passage in Mark 7 we see in verse 2, they “Found fault.”

No kidding, they’re getting a little huffy with the Lord. “Rabbi, surely you know…!”

Now, NOTICE. The Sadducees are not involved yet! It’s just the Scribes, and the Pharisees at this point. They are outraged. Jesus Christ is eating with ritually unclean hands, in their opinions. It’s logical, to say the least. If you follow the flow of their argument, it really SOUNDS logical.

But it exceeds the written law. And this is a major point that the Lord disagrees with them. The Pharisees wrote commentaries on the 613 commandments in the books of Moses, and they called this the Mishnah. In the very center of the Mishnah is a chapter called Pirke Avos, which actually is a wonderful little chapter of folksy wisdom. The passage we’re reading today literally mentions Pirke Avot in its earliest form by name: The Traditions of the Elders.

The Pharisees are elevating that folksy wisdom above and beyond that of commentary, but up to that of Scripture.

The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge has a quote from the Talmud here, and I don’t know what tractate, because they don’t give the reference, but it reads…

The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge Chapter 15

‘The words of the Scribes are lovely beyond the words of the law, for the words of the law are weighty and light, but the words of the Scribes are all weighty.’

The Lord turns the conversation around at this point, and I’m sure the Pharisees sat there blinking, trying to figure it out! What? Huh?

The point here is, you accuse me of eating with unclean hands… yet you sit there with unclean hearts.

I think I say it every week, but I absolutely hate Sermon Illustrations. I think you all can understand the Bible, and what I’m teaching, just from the sermon. However, I understand not everyone thinks like me, so I got this out of my voluminous Bible library to help you understand this point, which I’m sure you do anyway.

3. Illustrate

Thus Saith Our Lord Ye call Me Master and obey Me not, Ye call Me Light and see Me not, Ye call Me Way and walk Me not, Ye call Me Life and desire Me not, Ye call Me wise and follow Me not, Ye call Me fair and love Me not, Ye call Me rich and ask Me not, Ye call Me eternal and seek Me not, Ye call Me gracious and trust Me not, Ye call Me noble and serve Me not, Ye call Me just and fear Me not, If I condemn you, blame Me not.

The Lord desires Relationship, not ritual

Essentially, this is what this discussion boils down to. The Pharisees teach clean hands, the Lord is teaching Clean hearts. The Pharisees are teaching the traditions of men as authoritative, and the Lord is teaching us that only the word of God is authoritative. It is from this that Baptists derive our foundational principle, the Bible is our sole authority of faith and practice.

Relationship, not ritual.

Our Second Question.

Why do we abandon the Bible in favor of Tradition?

1. State

Edersheim writes in the Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah the entire cleanliness ritual. It’s a lot simpler now. You just take a two handled pitcher, and pour water on one hand up to the wrist. Then you take the other handle, and pour it on the other hand. Say the brahchah, and dry your hands, don’t spritz water on the floor or the Rabbi will yell at you.

But back then you had to scrub one hand with your knuckles, and it had to be drawn out with a ladle. The funny thing is, unless they had two ladles, according to modern Rabbi’s, those ancient Rabbi’s were eating with unclean hands.

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8, KJV)

2. Educate

Leaving the hand washing issue, because the Lord here is pointing out it’s a minor thing, he now turns to the issue of the vilation of the commandments.

One commentary i have points out that the language of verse 5 is used in anger by the son. Apparently, he’s irritated with his father, for reasons unknown, and utters this ‘vow’ to cut off his parent from every kind of benefit he might gain from him. Essentially, He’s cursing his father and mother.. The son does not dedicate his goods or his services to the Temple; he just vows all away from his father. The Rabbis said: ‘Whoever shall say: “Korban is everything whereby thou mightest be profited,” he shall be bound.’

Since this essentially is rebellion against one’s parents, the Rabbi’s should have followed Deut. 21…

Deuteronomy 21:18–21 KJV

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

But they don’t! This is why in the book of Malachi, it reads thus… Yes, I just used the word Thus…

Malachi 2:2 KJV

If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart,

To give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts,

I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings:

Yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.

By teaching this, The Lord accuses the Pharisees and the Scribes, that their traditions are completely rendering the Law null and void by their traditions!

An example in our own time, since I’m picking on Baptism and traditions about it – is infant Baptism. Now, when anyone reads the Bible to look at Baptism, it’s pretty obvious the Bible forbids infant Baptism. You have to be born again, you have to make a profession of faith, and I’ve yet to see a month old infant do that. And since it’s pretty dangerous to shove a baby underwater, the Catholics came up with putting a little water on the Baby’s forehead. Well, that’s not a baptism. So you’re doing it wrong, for the wrong reasons, to the wrong person.

So let’s turn to the fill in on your handout…

All Protestant Denominations accept Infant Baptism except Pentecostals. Baptists are not Protestants, and reject Infant Baptism.

This is why the Lord says,

Isaiah 8:20 KJV

To the law and to the testimony:

If they speak not according to this word,

It is because there is no light in them.

If they violate the Bible, it’s pretty valid to question whether or not they’re saved. And in Mark 7, it points out that they had MANY traditions like this that violated the word of God.

The Bible says believers should be baptized. The protestants say infants should be baptized. The Bible shows them only baptizing born again individuals.. The Protestants call them covenant children, and insist they’re already saved because their parents are saved. The Bible says ye must be born again. The Protestants say you must be predestined. If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. It’s not my words.

It’s God saying it.

We do things at our house, at our job, in our prayer life, in our Bible reading… and we do them because it’s our habit! It’s our tradition! And if it violates or makes the word of God of none effect, then it is no less hypocrisy in our dining room than it was that day in Galilee.

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown tell us in their highly overpriced commentary,

By putting the commandments of men on a level with the divine requirements, their whole worship was rendered vain—a principle of deep moment in the service of God.

And this is what it boils down to! Jesus Christ wants to know us. If we’re born again, He wants to spend time with us. If you’re not born again, He wants you born again – and then wants to spend time with you. The only way to get some Baptists to pray is put food in front of them. But this is an issue so important to the Lord, that He even specifically adds this warning in the Bible…

Matthew 7:21–23 KJV

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

3. Illustrate

There was only one book in all my illustrations that had anything on traditions… and it was for them. That’s a sermon illustration right there! They have illustrations on Hypocrisy, but are afraid to speak against traditions!

Relationship, not ritual.

And thus brings me to my last question…

Why do we not see this as hypocrisy?

1. State

How: Jesus Christ ultimately points to the heart, and not to the letter. The Pharisees ultimately point to the letter, and the heart is up to you.

Psalm 78:36–39 KJV

Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth,

And they lied unto him with their tongues.

For their heart was not right with him,

Neither were they stedfast in his covenant.

But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not:

Yea, many a time turned he his anger away,

And did not stir up all his wrath.

For he remembered that they were but flesh;

A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

And this is the point that I emphasize, and that the Pharisees missed – or they never would have crucified the Lord – The Lord is full of compassion, and destroyed them not. He made it clear – you’re making me angry. And it’s abundantly clear that the Lord puts far more weight on how we treat one another, than how well we do hand washing, or was all of our body completely submerged under the water for Baptism.

He wants Relationship, not ritual, not traditions.

2. Educate

Isaiah 29:13–14 KJV

Wherefore the Lord said,

Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth,

And with their lips do honour me,

But have removed their heart far from me,

And their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people,

Even a marvellous work and a wonder:

For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,

And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

Because in many ways the Pharisees make an idol, a god out of learning and study, the Lord does what He always does – He mocks that idol. They worship learning and study – fine. Let them forever study, but never come to the truth.

Incidentally, this comes in the Bible just before the Lord ministers to a Gentile for the first time, the Syro-Phoenician woman. Whosoever believeth… whosoever thirsteth, let them drink… whosoever will. The Lord will turn nobody away. Nobody. Until the very end, when the Lord says, THe time is now… did you choose? Have you chosen? And if they have not, but chosen their rituals and traditions instead, His answer is simple – away with ye. I never knew ye.

Instead of traditions, Bible. Instead of theories, doctrine. Instead of ritual, a relationship with the one True Living God, who walked in Galilee and died in Jerusalem, and paid the price for us, that we could be sons and daughters of the most high.

The Lord was not rebuking Bible study. Indeed, He places a huge priority on it.

Deuteronomy 6:5–9 KJV

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

3. Illustrate

Don’t stay away from church because there are so many hypocrites. There’s always room for one more. Arthur R. Adams (b. 1861)

We must learn to have a relationship with the living God. The Risen and Ressurected saviour demands a relationship. It’s so important that He literally says without it, we may actually not be saved!

Speak the Truth in Truth

Sooner or later, every Christian reaches a point for one reason or another where they go through the motions , pretending to a holiness they really don’t feel. Sooner or later, every believer settles into comfort zones, and then traditions set in. We assume our traditions are the Scriptural way of doing things. What is not important to God is not our traditions, it is not our demeanor, but rather – our relationship to God, to Jesus Christ.

final point

Today, we can rest assured that Jesus Christ wants relationship, not ritual with His redeemed. And if you are not sure you have a relationship like that, it’s easy, it’s free. All you have to do is repent of your sins. Acknowledge your sins have separated you from an Almighty and thrice-Holy God, that you deserve only Hell for all eternity. But the Lord provided a free way for you. Accept that. Go to the Lord right now, and tell Him you want a new life, a new way, that you’ll live for Him, that He will be your Lord and Master. Ask Him to save you, while there’s still time.