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Apparent Devotion

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Luke 7:36-50 (NIV)

36Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
48Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” 

Introduction:  A fireplace that has artificial fire, and is without warmth.

I.     The Object of Devotion

A.  To The Greater (vv. 48-49) 

Illust.:Many years ago, Thomas K. Beecher once substituted for his famous brother, Henry Ward Beecher, at the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York.  Many curiosity seekers had come to hear the renowned Henry Beecher speak.  Therefore, when Thomas Beecher appeared in the pulpit instead, some people got up and started for the doors.  Sensing that they were disappointed because he was substituting for his brother, Thomas raised his hand for silence and announced, “All those who came here this morning to worship Henry Ward Beecher may withdraw from the church; all who came to worship God may remain.” 

The example of godly leaders is helpful, but only the Savior is worthy of our worship and devotion.

Illust.: We ridicule the pagans who tried to fashion gods out of wood and stone.  But often we make pictures of God in our minds that make God ridiculously small.  A God that is too small may not be believable.  A young man once went to a minister saying he did not believe in any god. The minister said,  “Describe to me the god you do not believe in.” He listened carefully until the boy finished and said,  “Neither do I believe in that god. Now let’s talk together about a God that we can believe in.” That is what I want to do today.  How big is your God?

B.  To The Giver (vv. 42-43)

Illust.: Worthy Is The Lamb That Was Slain
Christ alone is worthy of our unreserved love and devotion:
There was once a Roman patrician girl of high birth and finished culture. “No one,” she said, “shall ever win my hand, unless he gives me proof that he would die for me.” Years passed, and one day, in one of the Roman streets, she heard an outcast Christian speaking of his Lord. When she heard, with amazement breaking on her soul, she exclaimed: “Here is One Who has died for me; to Him alone shall my heart’s love be devoted forever.”
—D. M. Panton

II.   The Origin Of Devotion

A.  Gratitude (v. 43)

Illust.: Thankfulness seems to be a lost art today. Warren Wiersby illustrated this problem in his commentary on Colossians. He told about a ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a life-saving squad.  In 1860, a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process, his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.
--- Our Daily Bread - February 20, 1994

B.  Love (v. 47) 

Illust.: A young man wrote his sweetheart that he would swim the mighty ocean for one look in her deep blue eyes. Then he added a P.S., “I’ll be over Saturday night if it doesn’t rain.”

Illust.: A four-year-old girl, hugging a doll in each of her pudgy little arms, looked wistfully up at her mother and said, “Mama, I love them and love them and love them, But they never love me back.”
How true of some Christians who are loved and loved and loved by God, but never love him back.

III. The Outburst Of Devotion

A.  Compulsive (v. 37)

Quote: Sometimes we are so afraid of emotionalism, we are so afraid of getting out on a limb that we don’t even brother to climb the tree.  We are so afraid that somebody is going to accuse us of being overly emotional or being teary-eyed that we never even express the normal, natural emotions of love, affection, and compassion toward one another.  We have arrived, we think.  We have become too mature and intellectual to express any feelings of emotion.
So as a result, in our churches people can sit with dry eyes and cold hearts hearing truths that used to cause the saints of God to weep the floors wet in front of them, cause them to shout the praise of God as they walked up and down the aisles of the church.  We are hardened. We don’t want to weep anymore. We don’t want to become disturbed. We don’t want to get broken hearted anymore.
When was the last time you really laid bare your emotions before the Lord Jesus Christ, and could say from the depths of your heart,
“My Jesus I love thee, I know thou art mine, For all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus tis now.”
---Jerry Vines

B.  Extravagant (v. 38)

Quote: Enthusiasm is contagious - and so is the lack of it.
--Unknown

Illust.: Mom used to get extravagant when company came. She would set out the good china, and clean house, and make sure everything was just right. When the company got there, they felt that they were valued highly because of the way she went out of her way. She would be extravagant to show them how they were valued. She didn't do it because she wanted to show off the china, but because she wanted to show her guests how she saw them. It was their worth in her eyes that caused her to be extravagant.

IV.The Opponent Of Devotion

A.  Undervaluing the Gift (v. 47)

Illust.: The Preciousness Of Christ's Blood
During the American war, a doctor heard a wounded man saying: "Blood, blood, blood!" The doctor thought this was because he had seen so much blood, and sought to divert his mind. The man smiled, and said: "I wasn't thinking of the blood upon the battlefield, but I was thinking how precious the blood of Christ is to me as I am dying."
As he died, his lips quivered: "Blood, blood, blood!" and he was gone. That blood will be precious when we come to our dying bed -- it will be worth more than all the world then. -- Moody

B.  Undervaluing the Giver (v. 39)

Illust.: If Thou Hadst Known
In His earthly life among men, Jesus, more than once, virtually said that if they had really known who He was their course of action would have been widely different. It was so of the whole Jewish nation. They had long waited and sighed for the coming of their Prince, but when He came they knew Him not.
A young man was taken prisoner and was to be shot at sunrise. As he lay upon the ground that night between his sleeping guards, his heart was full of bitter thoughts. Oh for a single sight of the dear ones at home! What would he not give to be free once more?
Suddenly, he saw a solitary figure steal out from behind a clump of bushes. The man saw that he was awake and began to make signs, as though trying to communicate with him. He crept nearer and nearer. The soldier thought he could see a grin of derision on the man’s face. Evidently, one of his enemies had heard of his plight and had come there to taunt him. He was mad with rage. It was enough to have to die like a dog, but this cruel mocking was more than he could endure. With a shriek of anger, he sprang up. In a moment, his guards had awakened and the entire camp was in an uproar. In the midst of the excitement, the stranger had fled, and the condemned man never knew that the one he repulsed was a friend who had come to deliver him from the hands of his enemies.—McCartney

Conclusion:

Illust.:

     The Visitor dropped in on the church service in

less-than-formal attire.  I felt pity for him when I saw his

destitute appearance. By the end of the service, however, I

realized I was the destitute one.

     Spending over an hour getting ready, I primped and prepared,

making sure my outfit and accessories were flawlessly put

together. Yet what I neglected was far more evident than what I

had spent time on - I had neglected to prepare myself spiritually

for worship. I had been so consumed with my outward appearance

that I had no time for reflection on my inward attitude.

     As I heard him singing and watched his rapt attention to the

preacher's words, I sensed it was his singleness of purpose - his

deep love of God - which brought him into the house of the Lord. I

was upbraided at my own lack of love.

     The visitor embodied the very essence of God's grace.  Grace

which looks beyond the rough exteriors and sees straight to the

heart -- to who we are on the inside.

     The Pharisee invited Jesus into his home, but not into his

heart.  (Luke 7:36-50).  The visitor, by his presence, was enough

to convince me that I would do well to spend less time on my

clothes and more time on my knees.

                         Judyann Grant

                         Light From The Word

                         Spring 1992

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