GIVING HEED TO OUR LORD’S REBUKES, PART 1

INTRODUCTION

How many of you can honestly say that you are not perfect right now? If you and I are not perfect right now, then it should not shock or offend us to be told that we still have certain blemishes and imperfections that the Lord is not particularly pleased with. God, my friends, is not content to see us live the rest of our lives plagued with the imperfections and sins that displease and disgrace Him. He wants us to change. And if we will not do that on our own—if we will not take the initiative and change what needs to be changed—then the Lord gets involved and He does whatever He has to do to get us to change.

One of the things the Lord does to change us is He rebukes us when we need it. You know what a rebuke is. It’s when someone reprimands or scolds us. Someone tells us to our face we’re wrong. When we do something that’s wrong or displeasing to God, God will oftentimes rebuke us for it.

He rebukes us by His Spirit speaking directly to us and convicting us of wrong. Most of the time, He uses people to rebuke us. Sometimes, it’s our parents. At other times, it’s the minister. Sometimes our teacher or professor corrects us. At other times, our employer or supervisor. Sometimes, the Lord uses our close friends to tell us we’re wrong. And at other times, the Lord even uses our enemies to point out the bad in us.

No matter who the Lord uses, it’s important for us to look beyond the person who’s chewed us out and understand that the Lord is behind the rebuke. It’s God who’s rebuking us. And He’s rebuking us because He wants us to change what’s wrong and get it right. And when God rebukes us we’ve got to humble ourselves, give heed to the rebuke, and let that rebuke change our wayward behavior.

I’d like to show you how our Lord’s rebuke changed the life of one of His disciples named John the Beloved.

THE OLD JOHN AN APOSTLE OF FUROR

Many of us know John as the apostle of love. If you read his First, Second, and Third Epistles, you can’t help but notice that John was bursting full of love. But what you may not have known is, John was not always the loving, compassionate person that he later turned out to be.

The most notorious example of John’s far-from-loving nature is seen in his encounter with some rude Samaritans. The time was drawing near for Jesus to be crucified. So He made His way towards Jerusalem. But He had to go through Samariato get there. Well, it was just about nightfall and the Lord and His disciples needed lodging for the night. So He sent some of His disciples into town to make the reservations. That’s when the trouble began.

Luke 9:51-53,  And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,  (52)  And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.  (53)  And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

Now the thing that you’ve got to understand is this. Jesus was a very popular Man. People from all over the region came to hear Him and get a healing miracle from Him. But the only people who didn’t flock to Him was the Samaritans. You’ll never read about them being in Jesus’ audience because they just weren’t there.  [I am aware of one exception, that being the Samaritan leper who travelled with nine Jewish lepers in Luke 17.] The only time the Samaritans were in Jesus’ audience was whenever Jesus was in Samaria. But outside of Samaria, you won’t find a single instance of Samaritans being in the crowd. They weren’t welcome anywhere in Israel. But the thing of it was, there were sick, diseased, and demon-possessed people in Samaria too. They needed Jesus’ miracles too. They wanted to see Jesus too.

So when these Samaritans heard that Jesus was in the area, they got pumped up with excitement. The Miracle Worker was in town! It was time to call a community-wide healing campaign! Yahooooo!

But when the Samaritans heard that Jesus was just passing through; that He wasn’t going to be giving them time of day; they got riled up and decided right then and there that, if Jesus wasn’t going to stay awhile, He wasn’t going to stay at all. And with that, they promptly put up their “No Vacancy” sign.

Luke 9:54,  And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

Now I fully believe that James and John really, truly, and sincerely believed that they could call down fire from Heaven and wipe out that whole Samaritan village. They’d never done it before. But they knew from Scripture that Elijah did it three times. You can read about it in 1 Kings 18 and 2 Kings 1. Anyways, James and John had been out with the other apostles working miracles on a recent evangelistic mission, Luke 9:1-6. And so, they were starting to get used to the idea of having the power to work miracles and signs.

Now what the Samaritans did to Jesus was just plain rude and inhospitable. It was uncalled for. They were wrong. And James and John, understandably, were upset and offended by the way these Samaritans treated their Lord. They wanted to wipe out that entire Samaritan village because these Samaritans were just plain rude.

Remember what I said earlier about God rebuking you when you do something wrong. Jesus turned to His disciples and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.  (56)  For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them, Luke 9:55-56.

Ouch! This was humble pie. Here were these two brothers, rightly offended by these Samaritans’ rudeness. They were trying to protect our Lord from being mistreated. You can imagine their shocked surprise and horror when Jesus put them in their place and took their fire away. I can imagine how hurt, offended, and humiliated they must have felt. It’s a wonder they kept on following Jesus to the very end. If it was us, we’d have likely quit following Jesus right then and there. “If that’s the way You’re going to do us, then good bye and good riddance! We’re out of here!”

But the thing about it is, Jesus was right. James and John were wrong. And because they were wrong, they needed to be set straight. Brethren, YOU CAN’T GET WHAT’S WRONG, RIGHT, UNLESS SOMEBODY HAS THE COURAGE TO TELL YOU YOU’RE WRONG.

Now get this. James and John really believed in their hearts that roasting these Samaritans was the right and appropriate thing to do. Doesn’t sound very Christian or loving does it?

This incident is such a potent warning and a graphic, picturesque reminder that  THERE ARE TIMES IN OUR LIFE WHEN WE THINK WE’RE RIGHT. REALLY, REALLY RIGHT. BUT UNBEKNOWNST TO US, WE’RE AS WRONG AS WRONG COULD BE.

Why wrong? Because we’re in the flesh. We’re letting our anger and emotions get the best of us. We’re not loving people. We’re hurting them. We’re not manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. We’re not walking or acting in the Spirit. We’re in the flesh. And WHEN WE’RE IN THE FLESH WE’RE WRONG. IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW RIGHT WE THINK WE ARE. IF WE’RE IN THE FLESH WE’RE WRONG. And do you know what it takes for us to see we’re wrong? The Lord’s words of rebuke…Ye know not what spirit ye are of. I’ve not come to kill and destroy, but to save.

Now nobody, including myself, likes being rebuked. No one enjoys it. It’s humbling and humiliating. We hate being rebuked. We regard it as a wrong and reprehensible thing to be rebuked. No one better do that to us! And when someone has the courage to rebuke us, we get mad, we defend ourselves, we maintain our right or our innocence. Then we get ugly and go on the attack, smearing the good name and reputation of those who dared to rebuke us.

But the thing about this kind of response to a rebuke is, it doesn’t help us any. It doesn’t change us. It only makes matters worse.

Here’s what God wants us to do. STEP 1, cool off. Regain your composure. Get back in your right mind. Anger is temporary insanity. You can’t think straight or see clearly if you’re angry. So you’ve got to calm down and get back in the Spirit. Then STEP 2, ask yourself why you were rebuked. Is there any truth, substance, or merit to the rebuke? Was it justified or legitimate? Is the Lord trying to get your attention? Are you really wrong? Once we’ve ascertained that it was the Lord who really rebuked us; then STEP 3 is, it’s up to us to admit the rightness, correctness, and appropriateness of the rebuke, confess our sin and our guilt; learn from our mistake, make things right, and work hard not to repeat that same mistake.

You see, if you don’t correct the mistake now, you’ll continue to make those same mistakes in the future. MISTAKES UNCORRECTED ARE SURE TO BE REPEATED. Brethren, you can break this cycle of needless mistakes by getting things right. YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR FUTURE BY CHANGING THE PRESENT. HOW DO YOU DO THAT? BY NOT REPEATING THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST.

You see, there are times when it takes a rebuke to correct and change us. And when we get rebuked we can’t get mad and take offense. We’ve got to humble ourself, receive the rebuke from the Lord’s mouth, confess our fault, apologize, and change whatever it is we need to change.

You see, as hated or as hurtful as a rebuke may be to us, this rebuke of our Lord was a perfect time for these disciples  to  learn  a  very   valuable  lesson  in public ministry—that lesson being, the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

In other words, OUR MINISTRY TO PEOPLE–NOT JUST THE PEOPLE OUTSIDE THIS CHURCH, BUT THE PEOPLE IN THIS CHURCH TOO–DOESN’T INVOLVE KILLING OR HURTING THEM. WE DON’T KILL THE PEOPLE WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE MINISTERING TO. WE CAN’T MINISTER LIFE IF WE MINISTER DEATH. I’m talking about being jealous and resentful of people; being cruel,  harsh, critical, condemning, judgmental, short, impatient, prejudicial, and intolerant of people. I’m talking about punishing people and calling fire down from Heaven.

Brethren, IF YOU WANT TO MINISTER LIFE TO PEOPLE YOU’VE GOT TO QUIT BEING ADVERSARIAL AND ANTAGONISTIC TOWARDS PEOPLE. YOU’VE GOT TO QUIT HURTING THEM. QUIT FIGHTING THEM.

You can’t minister life as long as you’ve got the fire. The stones. The guns. The knives. You’ve got to get rid of the instruments of death—the fleshly tongue, wicked thoughts, and sinful emotions—if you’re going to minister life.

What I’m trying to say is, the Lord’s rebuke may be hurtful at first. But if we just settle down and listen, we’ll see that the Lord is trying to teach us a very valuable lesson. He’s trying to change us so that we can be ministers of life and not of death.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 2. The new John. What an awesome transformation! Be sure to drop by and see the change.

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