It’s Time to Change! (Part I)

Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.  So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.  And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”  So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;  for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:1-10

Through His journey through various towns and villages, Jesus passed through the town of Jericho. Jericho was the Promised Land that the Israelites received when the Lord instructed Joshua and his people to march around the city seven times. Through their obedience, God made the walls of Jericho fall! However, over the centuries and due to Israel’s disobedience, they lost sovereignty of those lands, and now it was under the Roman Empire.

In this passage, we need find Zacchaeus who was a Jewish man living in Jericho shunned by his own people because he had decided that his success was going to come from collecting taxes from his fellow Jewish people. He used extortion as a means of living in the so called Promised Land. In reality, he had lost his true identity until he met Jesus! 

Despite Zacchaeus’ sins against his countrymen, Jesus chose to spend time with him in his house. He saw Zacchaeus as a lost sheep who needed to come back to the flock. Jesus did not seek the Pharisees because they did not see themselves as sick or in need of help. They probably had the respect of people even if it was superficial, so they did not find themselves in desperate need to change anything in their lives! However, while Zacchaeus had his wealth, he did not have the respect of his countrymen. I wonder if he had any friends except his fellow tax collectors. His only friendships may have come from those who also had had chosen to sell themselves, for a bowl of proverbial stew, to the Roman Empire. 

When Jesus called Zacchaeus’s name and went to his house, it changed everything for him! On the one hand, Zacchaeus must have felt special and accepted, but on the other hand, his sins must have been right before his eyes. What if he used the beautiful dishes of a widow who had to given up her wedding gift to pay her taxes!? What if the rug they were sitting on came from a family of six who could not afford to pay their taxes!?  What if the beautiful picture on the wall had have come from a son who gave up that which he had inherited from his father to pay his taxes!? Every place Jesus looked upon, could have brought to Zacchaeus, the memory of how he obtained those beautiful items. Finally, Zacchaeus could not stand it any longer. He wanted to get his life right with the Lord and enjoy the peace and the rest of God. Jesus’ acceptance had caused all these beautiful things to lose their value and luster. He was ready to give it all up and keep the joy and acceptance that he received in being with Jesus!

This is how Jesus works in our lives as well. He doesn’t come making demands of us to give up our sins, but He comes with His piercing eyes and a heart of love! He looks at us with acceptance and concern. In His eyes, we see that we are far more valuable than selling ourselves to a worldly version of success and acceptance! His concern is that we are genuine and vulnerable with God and are not just trying to play the role of a good Christian!

When we give Him room to come into our hearts, we cannot stand having Jesus walk around the various rooms and see the stuff that are contrary to His desires. The conviction rises up and we feel like it’s time to change! I don’t want Jesus to look at things that make Him uncomfortable to be here! He is worthy for me to let go of anything that does not please Him! How about you? If Jesus were to come to your home, what will he see? What has to change for Jesus to feel welcome in your life?


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Benefits of the Word of God (Part II)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

In the last devotional, I shared about the first portion of the passage that the word of God is profitable for it establishes us.  When the winds of various doctrines and false teachings blow, we can be firmly rooted and grounded in the word of God through being taught the scriptural doctrine.

Paul goes on to tell Timothy in the above passage that the word of God is also beneficial for reproof and for correction.

Definition of reproof (According to Strong’s Dictionary): a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested, conviction.

Reproof and correction go hand in hand. The word of God gives us the opportunity to know the truth. His word re-calibrates our conscience and brings it into alignment with the will of God. We begin to develop greater sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. The Lord uses His word to speak to us personally and,  at times, to convict and correct us. If we don’t know the word of God, we can easily get off course.  In addition, we may think we are doing just fine, but not be in obedience to God!

I was just speaking with a relatively new believer who said that he just wants to make God smile! I asked him, “How do you know what pleases God and what makes Him smile!?” He gave an example that when we’re generous towards other people, God is pleased! I explained that being generous is an aspect of pleasing God, but the Lord has a lot to say to us in His word that we need to know and obey. The truth is that we may sincerely think that we are pleasing God, but still be clueless about what pleases Him! It is like having a vision issue but not not knowing what we can’t see.  Only when we put on corrective glasses, do we find out how much we missed and how much more clearly we can see everything!

For example, Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth…” When I read that verse, it causes me to examine my words and my recent conversations with people around me. If I have allowed gossip, attitude, half-truths, or disrespect come out of my mouth, the word of God will convict and correct me. He is telling me that if I want to please Him and reflect His love to others, I need to stop behaving in that manner. Now that I know this truth, making Him smile becomes more tangible and substantive rather than offer up a sweet little prayer and walk away feeling good about myself!

We have many people who claim to know God, but they do not know His word! They are just content with a short daily prayer making them think that they have a good relationship with the Lord. Praying is definitely an important aspect of a believer’s life, but it is the word of God that sets a plumb line for our lives, and it shows us God’s way of doing life!  His word corrects our course, so we won’t cause spiritual collisions for ourselves or others. Furthermore, the scripture tells us that when we pray according to the will of God that the Lord hears us, so we need to know what His will is in order to pray according to His will!

Make time for the word of God daily and allow it to build your conscience with His truth! Make room for the Holy Spirit to use the word of God to convict and correct you as you life your life!