1Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.
5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”
6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.
8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”
9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
I love the story of Zacchaeus. I love the lessons in it. The truth that if you want God to change your life, He can, and will. Zacchaeus knew what he was. He knew what people thought about him. But he wanted Jesus. He wanted to change. So how does he teach us to do that?
- Lesson 1: Want to see Jesus, no matter what it takes. (v. 3)
- Lesson 2: Put your pride aside. It would have to be a humbling experience to be so small that you have to climb a tree to see. (v. 4)
- Lesson 3: Accept His invitation and answer His call. Jesus calls to us, but few answer. Be willing to accept and answer. (v. 5)
- Lesson 4: Meet Him with excitement and joy. This is your Savior! Be excited about Him, be excited about salvation! (v. 6)
- Lesson 5: Let Him find you and change you. He can. (v. 8, 10)
So there you have it, five simple lessons from Zacchaeus. They worked for him, I’m sure they can work for us too. Zacchaeus was lost, until he found the Jesus that had been looking for him.
You know, I really get tired of people coming to apologize for things they’re not going to change. I don’t feel like forgiving a mistake that someone is probably going to make again in the next hour or day. The whole I’m sorry, I won’t do it again, I’m sorry I did it again routine gets so old.
But, what I really can’t wrap my brain around is how God does it.
I can’t remember how many times I was sorry. Or how many times I was sorry, again. Or for that matter, how many times I was sorry and this was the last time. So, what I’m saying is, God forgave me knowing I would sin again. And His “know” isn’t a gut-instinct like ours, He really knows. Yet, He forgives.
So, the question is, who am I not to forgive you for some of the very things I’m asking God to forgive me for?
Colossians 3:13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Matthew 7: 3-5 (NLT)
And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Christianity is not a spectator’s sport. It’s almost like we treat it as a way to justify watching and pointing at people and their sins.
Now, I’m not saying we should have a blind eye to sin. As Christians, we are to speak the truth in love and recognize sin for what it is, sin. The issue lies in my blind eye to my own sin. If I’m so busy telling you what you do wrong, it doesn’t leave much time for me to see my own faults.
In doing so, I’ve lessened my sins and focused on yours. Instead of seeing you as a brother/sister in need of truth and love, I’ve turned you into a spectacle.
The more I maximize your speck, the more likely I am to increase my log. So, what would cause all of this? Pride. And I believe we don’t need any more people who sit around and pridefully watch wrongs. And we certainly don’t need any more that refuse to see their own wrongs.
In essence, pride see what you’ve done as worse than what I’ve done. It seeks to compare and to judge. Pride is the very log that sees the speck as being the problem.
In fact, pride refuses to realize that it’s easier to remove a speck than it is to remove a log. Pride is the spectator that makes a spectacle of your sin.
I don’t think we could ever overdo the conversation of obedience. Obedience is love. It’s such a big deal that God compares disobedience to witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). So, since we’re talking about obedience, let’s talk about Abraham.
Most people know the story of Abraham and Isaac. And the test he went through to prove his love and obedience to God. This test ended with Abraham not having to sacrifice his own son, as was the original command from God.
What I believe, is that Abraham’s obedience saved Isaac’s life. Let’s think about it.
Abraham didn’t know which mountain he was supposed to go to. “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you” (Genesis 22:2). God told him to take his son, go to Moriah and then he would show him the mountain. And of course, as the story goes, once Abraham was there a ram was stuck in the bushes which in turn became Abraham’s sacrifice instead of Isaac. But, what if?
What if Abraham wasn’t obedient? What if Abraham didn’t go to Moriah? Even simpler, what if he didn’t go to the mountain God showed him? He would have only partially obeyed God’s command and partial obedience is still disobedience.
You see, I understand the foreshadowing details of this story. I understand the parallels. I understand the test. But what I’ve recently learned is that it was complete obedience to God that kept Isaac alive. Not the ram, not perfect timing, and certainly not coincidence. Obedience.
In essence, what I believe is that God will always provide a ram in the bush, it’s just that we keep on going to the wrong mountain.
Why do we get upset with God for questioning us when He knows us better than we know ourselves? When He knows our past, present, and future, how do we find room to get testy with Him?
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
I find it interesting that Peter was hurt that Jesus asked him the question three times. Coming from a guy that denied Jesus three times, you would think he would understand the need for the repetitive questioning. But, we do this too. We get impatient with God and quickly forget the eternal patience He has had with us. We get bothered when we have to receive the same lesson, but neglect to mention that we’ve refused to learn from it. Yet, when God asks us do we love Him, we have the nerve to get offended. As if the offenses we’ve committed against Him wouldn’t be reason to ask.
God sees our hearts. So it’s not like He doesn’t know if we truly love Him. I just think that God likes to reveal our hearts to us. So sometimes He has to ask. Sometimes you have to retest. Sometimes you have to repeat. As my friend says, you have to revisit and revise. And it’s what you find on the retest that reveals what you are. It’s in those moments that you get the answers to the questions God asked you.
Every now and then, the third time really is the charm. You just don’t know it yet.
Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!
God told the Israelites that He had a command for them.
This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. – Deuteronomy 30:11
It wasn’t difficult, it wasn’t out of reach; it was the ability to choose Him, to choose a better life. He said if you choose me, you choose prosperity.
Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. – Deuteronomy 30:15
It’s pretty plain and simple.
Everyday, most of us choose to believe that we have no say in what happens to us. While some of that may be true, we do have a say in how we handle what happens. The world would have us believe there is no right or wrong choice for our life. Newsflash, there is. And we get to pick one or the other.
There’s no need to roll the dice. No Magic 8 Ball necessary. No tarot cards or horoscopes are needed. You pick.
God has given us the ability to choose. Right or wrong? Life or death? Heaven or Hell? It’s your pick. So what’s it going to be?
If I had more faith
I could move mountains.
But maybe I should serve
And wipe off the water fountain.
I could change the world
If I had more power
Or maybe I could change it
If I volunteered for an hour.
Think of what I could do
With a little more money
Or maybe I could offer tissue
To the person whose nose is runny.
Think of the possibilities
If I had a better title
Isn’t the title of servant
The most vital?
Wishing I had a better car
Is that so wrong?
Only when there is no gratitude
In your song.
More and more
We think that’s what it takes
When really it’s more love
That makes the world great.