Jesus’ Customer Base

When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 2:17

You look at a product on a retail website but decide not to buy it and move on. Then you notice ads for that product, and similar products, begin appearing on other websites you visit. Unless you have software installed to block such “snooping” on your shopping habits, Internet marketers are following your every move. It’s called data mining and it’s a huge business.

But it’s what marketers and salespeople have always done—attempting to get their products in front of the people most likely to buy them. You may be surprised to discover that Jesus did the same thing. He once told a group of religious leaders that He didn’t come to offer salvation to the spiritually healthy but to the spiritually sick. It sounded like He was defining His “market,” His customer base. But there was a catch: Everybody is spiritually sick! Jesus’ clever words were a way of saying to the Pharisees, “You think you’re healthy but you’re not.” The Bible clearly says, “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23).

The first sign that one needs salvation is thinking, “That’s for others, not me.”

Recommended Reading: Romans 3:10-18

The Struggle With Jealousy

1 Samuel 18:5-16

We all have expectations, desires, and hopes for our lives, but our plan isn’t always God’s best. And what we see others experiencing may not be what He has in store for us. When you compare yourself with others, watch out! Jealousy is usually lurking close by.

Consider Saul. Appointed by the Lord to be Israel’s first king, Saul was given power and godly success. But when he heard women praising David for his great victory over Goliath, he became envious and suspicious. Saul began to fear losing the kingdom; eventually, his own jealousy led to loss of relationships, position, and power.

This may seem like an extreme example. And yet, if we honestly examine ourselves, we will likely find that envy is hiding somewhere in our hearts. Try this simple test: Ask yourself, Is there anyone whose material, physical, or relational success causes me to feel displeasure, discomfort, or anxiety?

Most often, insecurity, selfishness, or pride is behind a jealous mindset. In fact, all three are evident in the life of Saul. He was scared that he would be outdone and overtaken, he didn’t want to share the glory with David, and he was insulted that a mere shepherd boy would perform better than a king.

The fallacy of envy is that we can never view the entire picture in someone else’s life. Only God sees beneath the surface of our lives. Our eyes should focus on our own walk with the Lord. He created each of us differently, and His plan for every individual’s life is unique.

At Ease in Zion

“Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!” (Amos 6:1)

Zion (or Jerusalem) was the capital of Judah, the southern kingdom, and Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom, Israel. Despite the ungodliness rampant in both nations, as well as suffering due to drought and other judgments sent by God, the leaders in Zion and Samaria were still living in decadent luxury, and most people were following their example. The rustic prophet Amos was thus called by God to pronounce coming judgment on both nations and especially on their leaders.

God’s nature and God’s principles do not change. “For I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). If God was angry with those of His ancient people who were living in affluent ease while indifferent to the sin in the nation and in their own lives, must this not be true also in modern “Christian” America? Have evangelical Christians today become “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4)? One should at least raise the question when their churches become cathedrals and their homes become showplaces, when their music stirs their feelings but not their souls, when they spend more time in “rest and recreation” than with the Lord and His Word, and when they begin to allow “the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches [to] choke the word” so that they become “unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).

God was longsuffering with Israel, but judgment finally came to them. Perhaps He has been calling to us in the earthquake and the hurricane, the drought and the flood, the famine and the pestilence, telling us that judgment is coming. Are we at ease in Zion, saying, “Soul, . . . take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19)? If so, may God stir us to repentance and rededication! HMM

Criticism and Abuse

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. —1 Thessalonians 2:4

“Let not thy peace depend on the tongues of men,” said the wise old Christian mystic, Thomas à Kempis; “for whether they judge well or ill, thou art not on that account other than thyself.”

One of the first things a Christian should get used to is abuse…. To do nothing is to get abused for laziness, and to do anything is to get abused for not doing something else.

Was it not Voltaire who said that some people were like insects, they would never be noticed except that they sting? A traveler must make up his mind to go on regardless of the insects that make his trip miserable….

One thing is certain, a Christian’s standing before God does not depend upon his standing before men. A high reputation does not make a man dearer to God, nor does the tongue of the slanderer influence God’s attitude toward His people in any way. He knows us each one, and we stand or fall in the light of His perfect knowledge.

Lord, I know this truth, but it’s so hard to “let not thy peace depend on the tongues of men.” The stinging insects are so annoying! Give me peace in Your approval today. Amen.

Hope: The Atmosphere of the Entire Bible

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil. Hebrews 6:19

In the New Testament, the word “hope” becomes one of the great words that Christ gave us. It was a word often used before but it has received new and wonderful meaning because the Saviour took it into His mouth.

Hope is the music, the drift and direction of the whole Bible. It sets the heartbeat and atmosphere of the Bible, meaning as it does desirable expectation and pleasurable anticipation!

Human hopes will fail and throw us down. But the Christian’s hope is alive. The old English word “lively” meant what the word “living” means now; the word coming from God Himself for it is the strongest word in the Bible for life. It is the word used of God Himself when it says He is the Living God. So it is that God takes a Christian’s hope and touches it with Himself and imparts His own “livingness” to the hope of the believer.

The true Christian hope is a valid hope! We have been born of God. There has been a new creation. No emptiness there, no vanity, no dreams that can’t come true.

We have no great place of beauty in this world—Taj Mahal, Buckingham Palace or the White House—that can compare with the glory that belongs to the true child of God who has known the major miracle, who has been changed by an inward operation of supernatural grace unto an inheritance, a living hope!

Your expectation should rise and you should challenge God, and begin to dream high dreams of faith and spiritual anticipation. Remember, you cannot out-hope the living God!

Where Is the Radiance?

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. 1 JOHN 5:10

I keep looking, but with little success, for a distinguishing radiance in life and testimony among our evangelical Christians.

Instead of an inner witness, too many professing Christians are depending upon logical conclusions drawn from Bible texts. They have no witness of an encounter with God, no awareness of inner change!

I believe that where there is a divine act within the soul, there will be a corresponding awareness. This act of God is its own evidence: It addresses itself directly to the spiritual consciousness.

Thankfully, there are elements that are always the same among men and women who have had a personal meeting with God.

There is the compelling sense of God Himself—of His Person and of His Presence. From there on, the permanent results will be evident in the life and walk of the person touched as long as he or she lives!

Heavenly Father, I pray that Your Church will go out into the lost world exhibiting a “distinguishing radiance in life and testimony.” As a result, may many lost souls be attracted to You, Lord Jesus.