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The TREE OF LIFE weekly teaching summary from THE WEEK ENDING:
November 21, 1999

Tree of Life 11/21/99


Glory in the Lord Jesus Christ

We saw this past week that we can live perhaps fifty days without food, eight or so without water, and before brain damage we can even live about four minutes without air, but we can hardly live without hope. That four-letter word "Hope", Webster defines - "to desire with the expectation of fulfillment."

There is a desire or a longing for something then there is an expectation, an anticipation of that something happening. Combined together that's hope! That's one of the few things that we all have in common, we all have a hope about something. If the truth were known, perhaps you once had more hope than you do now because hope can be dampened. We can lose that sense of anticipation and that can have a devastating affect on life. Hope means that you can keep living in the anticipation that someday you will receive what you have been anticipating. The opposite of hope is despair, and who hasn't wrestled with feelings of despair?

PRO 13:12 "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life."

It is so easy when we are in those straight and tight circumstances to forget that our God is always there. We speak to Him in prayer though we have never seen Him. It is comforting however to remember verses like HEB 11:6 "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."

God has given us His word to keep our hope alive. These inspired writings, chapters, verses, that we read and study will come to your rescue and keep your hope alive.

We saw two such scenes this week in the seventh chapter of Luke, different stories running one after the other. In fact, the second story, verses 11 through 17, is found nowhere else in the entire Bible. It is unique to Luke's Gospel. These scenes took place in two different cities; (verses 1 and 11).

LUK 7:1 "When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum."

In LUK 7:11 "And it came about soon afterwards, that He went to a city called Nain;" These cities are some 20 to 25 miles apart. Don't let them remain Capernaum and Nain or they will mean nothing to you. Make them your city! Imagine yourself being one of these individuals who are living with an impossible situation if God doesn't intervene. Place your life in this passage and personalize it in that way.

In Capernaum, we have a man who never actually looks at Jesus face to face. He is called a certain centurion. The need on his heart has to do with one of his workmen called here a "slave" who was highly regarded by the centurion, but he was sick and about to die.

Capernaum was the base of operations for our Lord and it was a place of a Roman military installation. Thus, the appearance of this centurion and how he became a mature believer. In LUK 7:2, this centurion's slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. Now, the centurion was a Roman officer. To the Romans, virtue meant reverence and devotion to the authorities over the Roman's at that time. In the spiritual realm, this included respect and loyalty toward God, which is revealed by the exact performance of all that God requires. This is one of the reasons why this centurion was such a winner believer.

In the Roman business world, a man's word was his bond and they didn't need signed contracts. If a man gave his word, that was it! So by virtue they meant what we would call faithfulness or the ability to fulfill one's obligations and keeping one's word. In fact, the Romans had a saying, which said in the English translation, "Nothing is too difficult for the power of the faithful!" Now, this is the basis for understanding the man in our passage. And so there was a great affinity or resemblance in this man and the Lord Jesus Christ inasmuch as both men were under authority.

Our Lord Jesus Christ being God and man placed Himself willingly under the authority of His Father. The interesting thing here is the confidence this man in the Lord. Notice also, that it was not on his own behalf that the centurion made this request but on behalf of another. It was a request to heal a patient out of sight. This centurion has heard of the kingdom of heaven and he knows that this is the King. Reasoning from what be knows of the Roman kingdom and how orders are given from a central authority and how they are followed out and executed, the centurion concludes that the Lord Jesus Christ, the king of the spiritual world, must have His own means of giving orders and having them followed without Him having to be there. Therefore, he knew it was only necessary that the Lord speaks the word and the command would be followed. He was a man who understood authority!

To the Jews, our Lord touched and cured, He preached personally to them; but to the paralytic Gentiles, He cured at a distance; He did not go in person but sent His word and healed them; and yet in them He was more magnified.

PSA 138:2 "For Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name."

We have the completed canon of Scripture called the Bible and fantastic invisible assets to handle every problem in life. During the Old Testament, Jesus Christ was present many times on earth, including his incarnation. In the Millennium He will be on the earth ruling for 1000 years. However, today it is not necessary for our Lord to be here, because the provision for the royal family of God is infinitely greater than any grace provision of any other dispensation in history. To operate in faith and to trust God at His word is much greater than having the Lord come and visit you personally, Joh 20:29. Therefore, the Centurion sends elders to Jesus and they misrepresent him. They tell the Lord all the reasons why the centurion is worthy to have this request granted, when he says of himself, "I am unworthy". Our Lord knew that the Jewish elders were misrepresenting the true views and feelings of the centurion. The last thing in the world that the humble centurion would have pleaded would have been his own personal worthiness. The centurion recognizes the authority of the Lord and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in hypostatic union.

LUK 7:7 "for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but {just} say the word, and my servant will be healed."

What he believed would happen, happened, but God the Holy Spirit is going to reveal in the next example through the widow, how the Lord operates even when there is no faith.

LUK 7:9 "Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that was following Him, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith."

This is the only time in the Bible that our Lord marveled and was amazed by the actions of some other man.

The centurion, because he viewed himself as not worthy, didn't need ask the Lord to visit his house. He was content that the Lord should simply speak the word.

The Next Scene.

LUK 7:12 "Now as He approached the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother,"

If you're not like the man in verses 1 through 10, perhaps you're like the woman in verses 11 through 17. Perhaps you are dealing with a situation that is as good as done or as gone as dead. You find yourself in grief and your hope is over. What you're dealing with now is the reality of recovery because what you had waited for did not happen, your hope is shattered. In the first story there is a request, in the second story, there isn't. Maybe like this centurion you don't feel on speaking terms with the Lord. Perhaps you're the type that would send a friend to come and represent you so you ask for prayer for a certain situation. Or, you may be in the second one, where there is no request at all. Here is a widow in verse 12, the mother of an only son with a feeling of an overwhelming sense of grief and loss and loneliness.

Notice that when the Lord saw her, she doesn't say a word to Him. She never speaks to Him. All we read is that He felt compassion for her, and He said to her: LUK 7:13 "Do not weep." Is that you? Perhaps not a widow but feeling like one? Or, feeling like you're in a situation where you are all alone in what you're going through. These things are written so that we can look at our Lord's attitude, that's what we're suppose to do! It is through believing and seeing our Lord in action that we begin to experience that life. Our Lord is compassionate! We see our Lord doing things not because people deserved it but because He had compassion!

MAT 9:13 "But go and learn what this means, I desire compassion, and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

He didn't just perform miracles to prove His deity or that He was from God, His love and mercy and compassion drove His ministry, (MAT 15:32). For the centurion, just speak the word and He will come back to health. On the other side, for the widow, here is a woman too torn to pray. Both examples of those times in our life when we recognize our unworthiness and helplessness. Those times when we see that God our Father is waiting to help us. The truth of the matter is this;

"God DOES NOT help those who help themselves." "God DOES help the helpless."

ROM 5:6 "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly."

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