God is not impressed with religious routines. The transforming of the inner person — that makes the difference.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. How the world are you? Doing Alright today? Well some of you may have struck a rough day — that’s the way life is. And if you have, look up and say, “Lord, see me through this one”. Pray your way through the day and I can promise you that when the day is over, you’ll be able to turn out that pocketful of memories and say, “Thank you Lord for walking with me all through the day”. That’s what we mean when we say walk with the king. Pray your way through the day. Try it today. You’ll find that it works.
Well, a loving greeting to every one of you who fellowship with me, by way of radio, day after day. I belong to you in a very special sense, don’t I? I meet people who I’ve never seen before. They come up shake my hands and say, “I just feel like I know you”. Well of course, I’ve been giving myself away by way of radio, and it’s wonderful. I need somebody to belong to. That’s part of the personality I have. So, I’m glad you’re there. God bless you. Keep me in your prayers, won’t you? If you ever think of Bob Cook, you pray that God will keep His hand on me, and that I might be kept fresh and blessed in the Word of God. Thank you for that.
Well, we’re looking at the questions that people asked about our Lord, as recorded in Mark chapter 2. And the first question was, who can forgive sins? So He says, Lord of forgiveness. He’s the one who can say, “Son, daughter, your sins are forgiven”. If you have a guilty conscience, you’re burdened with a load of guilt about something, bring it to the Lord Jesus before another minute passes. You don’t even have to keep on listening to me, just keep bringing that guilty feeling and all that’s associated with it — bring it to the Lord Jesus and by faith put it under His precious shed blood. And He forgives and forgets and you can accept and go on. You don’t forget things. Only God has the right to forget. Everything you’ve ever heard or seen or experienced is locked into the computer — they call it the unconscious mind. I sometimes joke and say that was named for a college freshman — the unconscious mind. But that’s the computer portion of your mind, and so you don’t forget things, it’s locked into the computer. But Jesus forgives and God forgets, and you are enabled to accept and go on. That’s the way it works. Would you today take that load of guilt and turn it over to God, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee”. God picks up you and the burden carries you both in His loving arms. He’s the Lord of forgiveness, and He’s the Lord of the transformed life. The expression “new wine” indicates the transformed life. “If any man be in Christ”, said the apostle Paul, “he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new”. And the Lord Jesus, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, brings that newness of life, transformed life, and then He’s the Lord of the new wine, “Nor Lord of the new wine. The transformed life and then He is the new wine” — He’s not dependent on religious routines. “Why do the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees fast?” That was the question, “but Thy disciples fast not”?
Now, fasting is a good thing. I observe it from time to time. Well, you’d never guess by looking at me sideways, but I used to have an hourglass figure, but the sand in the hourglass has shifted, they say. Now, fasting is a good thing, and what it does is to enable you and me just to concentrate on seeking God. The fact that you lay aside food or sleep or other activities, fasting means giving up something to seek God. That’s the idea of it, isn’t it? The fact that you lay aside something, food or sleep or whatever, in order to seek God — this helps you concentrate, your mind and your thoughts and your emotions — the business at hand, which is praying, seeking God.
So, the Bible teaches the benefits of fasting. And Isaiah, of course, amplifies that and he says, “Is not this the fast that I’ve chosen to set the captive free and unloose the bands that bind people and to straighten up your own life”. “That’s what I’ll bless”, said God. So it’s very clear as you read the Bible that God doesn’t have very much respect for fasting, or other religious practices for that matter. He says, “When you make many prayers, I will not hear, I’m weary to bear them”. He doesn’t have all that much respect for religious practices per say, even though as I said you, fasting is a good procedure. Nothing wrong, nothing intrinsically wrong with it, it does you good, but God is not impressed because I miss my lunch in order to say, “I missed lunch today so I could pray”. Oh, go on. God isn’t impressed with that, but anyhow, this is the tendency — this is the tendency of human nature: to magnify the importance of what I am doing, rather than the importance of the relationship that ought to be sustained. You follow that? It’s human nature. It’s our tendency to magnify the importance of what I’m doing religiously — I’m attending church; I’m lighting a candle; I’m fasting; I’m praying; I’m sacrificing; I’m giving X number of dollars; or whatever it may be. The importance of religious things I do, rather than the importance of a relationship sustained between God and me.
That’s the background of this question: why do John the Baptist’s disciples and the disciples of Pharisees — why do they fast, but your disciples don’t? Well, he said, “The bridegroom is here, the wedding reception is still on, when the bridegroom leaves then they’ll fast”, He says. Then they’ll fast, in those days. Fasting is not something that the Lord Jesus turned His back upon, but He said, “I’m here with them and my presence is with them everyday. “Besides”, he said, “there is a certain newness about a relationship with me”. It’s like new cloth or new wine — and you don’t take a new piece of new cloth and sew it to an old raggedy garment because it will tear out. And you don’t take new wine and put it in old and rotten wineskins, because it’ll burst. But He says, “The new life needs to be applied to a transformed container”.
Now, this figures because other scriptures agree with it. “We all with open face, beholding as in a glass, the glory the Lord are changed into the same image” — His image that is — “from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord. If any man be in Christ he is a new creation”. See, old things passed away, all things become new, so that the indwelling spirit of God, according to that passage first Corinthians 3:18, “The indwelling spirit of God does transform my life so I’m able to contain the blessing of the shine and the power of God’s indwelling life”. The question is, He’s Lord of the new power of the Holy Spirit of God. Call it new wine.
God is not dependent upon routines. God is not dependent upon routines. The fact that — well I knew a man, for instance. He was very proud, in a humble sort of way you know, very proud of the fact that he get up at 4 o’clock every morning, read the book of Romans and prayed and had his devotions. Anybody whoever came through that western city, knew that this man. He was a very capable professional — meant by the way they knew inevitably before they’d been a very long, that this man got up at 4 o’clock in the morning to pray.
It wasn’t until some years after his death that I found out that although he did indeed arise at 4 the morning, and he would take a swim in the sound there, and then he would read in the book of Romans and he would pray. But it wasn’t, I say, until after he had gone to be with the Lord that I found out that very frequently, by 5:30, he was back in bed fast asleep. Well, Alright, I’m sure that it worked well for him and the Lord knew and understood, but God is not impressed with religious routines. Things that we do to same good and faithful and successful religiously — that doesn’t impress God. “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart”. He looks to see what’s going on inside. And so that’s why the Lord Jesus spoke about new cloth and new wineskins and new wine. That’s why because there is that transforming of the inner person — that makes the difference when Jesus is Lord.
So, He’s Lord of forgiveness — Lord of transformed life. Matthew the tax collector and the crook becomes a soul winner. He is Lord of the new wine, not dependent upon religious routines. Now, they come with another question. Disciples were hungry and as they went along by a field of wheat or barley — whatever it may have been — this this word corn in Mark 2:23 is an old English word that means any kind of small grain. When I was a boy, I’d read this, “ears of corn”. I thought boy, that must have been something — to take those ears of corn and bite into them without there being cooked anything. I could understand it, until I realized that later on, this is an old English word that means any kind a small grain. Could’ve been wheat or barley or whatever, and so it says, “As they went along, they began to pluck the ears of corn”. Now, this was perfectly legal, I have to explain, it was perfectly legal. It was alright for passersby to grab a handful of grain along the edge of a field and eat it if they were hungry. That was an accepted practice and there wasn’t anything wrong with it, alright? At the same time, this was the Sabbath day and so, to pick a handful of wheat and then rub it in your hands to remove the chaff and blow the chaff away of then eat the wheat that was considered to be harvesting. You were picking the grain and you were threshing it, and that was harvesting. So that that little tablespoonful of grains of wheat that you had in your hand after you blow away the chaff, that was considered to be quite sinful, because it was breaking the Sabbath. Now, that’s the background of this, you see. So, the Pharisees said, “Why do your disciples on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful?”. The Lord Jesus said, “David”, and you certainly are going to criticize him are you, King David went because he and his companions were hungry, he went right into the holy place in the showbread that was reserved for nobody but the priests. And so He said, “The Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath”.
Now beloved, I know that in my audience there are some precious people who believe that we ought to worship God only on Saturday, the Sabbath. And I’m not going to have an argument with you — and please don’t write to me and argue with me about it. The greater truth is that Jesus is Lord of this matter of one day out of seven. He’s Lord of honoring Him in a very special way, in what you say and do. So, He is Lord of forgiveness, He’s Lord of the transformed life, He is Lord of the new wine of the Holy Spirit and He’s Lord of what you do to honor Him on His day. It’s a great truth there, isn’t it?
Dear Father, today, may we know, acknowledge, and live out the Truth of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I pray in His name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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