Thursday, September 08, 2005

Breaking the Alabaster Box

Trying to keep cool. We are 5" below normal for rain so far this year. Appreciate the kind comments from all those who receive this. I pray it will continue to serve you and those you minister to well. May God keep you in his care - Kirk

Breaking the Alabaster Box
Here are the main points:
1. Its very costly
2. It changes the condition of the recipient and administrator.
3. Someone will criticize us for so doing.
4. It is crucial that it be done!
Jn. 12:1-8; Mk. 14:3-9
I. Introduction
A. Scripture encouraging the doing of good.
1. Depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it (Psa. 34:14) Trust in the Lord and do good; Depart from evil and do good (Psa. 37:3, 27) Do good, O Lord to those that are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts (Psa. 125:4) Learn to do good, seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless; plead for the widow. (Isa. 1:17) If you love life and desire good days, do good (1 Pet. 3:10, 11).
B. Whether it is God or our mother, there is nothing wrong in the doing of good.
1. Jesus gained favor with God and man by doing good (Lk. 2:52).
2. Even when doubted, hated, and while on the cross Jesus did good. He did so to leave us a perfect example (1 Pet. 2:21).
3. We need to do good, break the alabaster box and pour out the ointment of pleasantness upon all we meet. It is a command as we have opportunity - and who knows when it may be the last (Gal. 6:2)?
4. Do not forget to see that the good is being done, for such sacrifices is well pleasing to God (Heb. 13:16).
5. When one knows to do good and does it not it becomes a sin (Jas. 4:17)
C. The ultimate attitude of doing good (Lk. 6:33-35)
1. We are encouraged to do good without thought of upon whom it is we exercise our kindness.
2. We say “be good” as we depart, maybe we ought to say, “Do good!”
1. Sweetest act of hospitality is taking care of another’s feet.
2. The feet of Jesus were weary from searching for lost sheep. The feet of Jesus had traveled in the rugged wilderness of temptation, walked into the homes of the sick and dead, trodden the streets of rejection, stood on the sandy shores preaching the gospel of peace, gracefully treaded upon water, entered pleasant gardens, scaled mountains for prayer, been
wept on, sat down beside of as people listened, anointed, and gave out from under him on Calvary’s road where there they, in anger, nailed to the old rugged cross.
3. So to work on one’s feet was one of the kindest act of hospitality anyone could bestow upon another. It meant you really cared for that person and you would do whatever possible to make that person comfortable in your presence.
D. You remember the two episodes where feet were ignored by the host and a great lesson was taught.
1. Simon’s house - great story of abundant forgiveness - for her sins were many.
2. Last supper - great lessons on humility, sharing, and unity.
E. Today, it’s all about the shoes, back then, it was all about the feet. Let us consider some things about breaking our alabaster box.
1. Its very costly
2. It changes the condition of the recipient and administrator.
3. Someone will criticize us for so doing.
4. It is crucial that it be done!

II. What is an Alabaster box (flask)?
Alabaster containers were made from stalactites which hung from the ceilings of caves. They would break off these cone shaped natural wonders and fill them with precious oils, ointments and seal them with wax. When the container was used, all of the ingredients must be used for there was no other way to store the substance once the seal had been broken.

III. If we are going to break the flask, these things must be recognized:
A. Great deeds cost much. (v. 3)
1. A great deed is not deemed great due to the amount given.
a. Consider the widows’ mite. In other words, the cost incurred by one may be insignificant to another. - The rich cast in much but it was no sacrifice to them. She cast in all she had.
2. Nor is a deed great because money was involved at all - Joseph forgiving his brothers. Joseph had the power of life and death over his brothers but he chose life and forgiveness so wounds would be healed and family honor restored.
3. So we may conclude that a deed is great in the eyes of God because it
cost the individual much -
a. Like Barnabas’ retirement - Barnabas sold his inheritance so people he did not know may have a temporary place to stay.
b. The church’s comfort; Many churches suffered great persecution not knowing the blessing they were supplying to future generations.
c. No one can put a price on what the Christ gave up so you and I may enjoy the glory he has prepared for those who love him!
4. What ointment do you need to administer?
a. A greater charitable spirit? I heard growing up that if you are not giving until it hurts you are not giving. Then someone said, “Well you need to give till it feels good!”
b. Forgiveness?
c. Sacrifice? Remember if it cost you little, it is no great deed and we have not broken the flask, pouring out ALL its contents, we have only eased our conscious.
5. So, great deeds cost much!
B. Great deeds changes the condition of the recipient and administrator.
(v. 3 anointing)
1. No doubt, the ointment soothed the tired bruised feet of Jesus, but it also soothed and fragrance the hands and hair of Mary. The truth is, you cannot do good, and not be blessed in its execution.
2. Our deed may or may not change the outcome of a situation, but it does change the condition of the hearts.
a. It changed the condition of Mary from a person of authority to a humble servant. (she could have had a hired hand to anoint Jesus’ feet)
b. It changed the condition of Jesus. At first he was just a guest, now he is Lord! Worthy of the best she had to offer.
3. Humility is a condition of the mind and is manifested by the actions of the heart.
4. To administer to a pair of feet meant someone had to posture themselves in a position of submission. This is what you and I must do in obeying the great commandment (Matt. 22:37).
a. The story would have been told in another way if the rich man had given abundantly to poor Lazarus.
b. The future of John the Baptist would not have been grim if King Herod had issued an edict of pardon instead of sorrow.
c. Because Paul the persecutor became Paul the servant, the church felt indebted to his every need. Their physical & economical condition changed from bad to worse, yet they felt great attachment to this humble servant of the Lord. Why? Because their HEART CONDITION changed.
5. We know every man must change the condition of his heart, from lord to servant, from master to slave, from freeman to bondsman.
6. In giving your heart to Jesus, your condition will change. You will change from confused to enlightened, from depressed to glad (Acts 8, treasurer).
a. The greatest deed you may render is giving your self to Christ! Your
condition will be changed, from sinner to saint, from wicked to holy, from scandalous to righteous, from foreigner to fellow citizen.
7. When we give ourselves to Christ we break the alabaster box of ointment on the needs of others; for God himself sends the rain on the just and unjust, the holy and the defiled. We become his ambassadors of good will on earth.
8. Pouring out the ointment of goodness upon others will change their condition and ours as well.
C. Great deeds will be criticized (v. 4, 5)
1. By those of self-centered interests or by those who don’t hear well.
2. It would not be an uncommon thing for a woman to do this deed, a man
a. Jesus had told them he was going to die. Mary recognized the reality of this statement. She heard him well and acted graciously.
3. What extreme appreciation she must have had toward Jesus in raising her dead brother.
a. When the Lord gives, he appreciates some kindness in return.
b. Why should we covet his blessings when his building is in need of repair or looking presentable? Consider the church house down the road - it is a testimony of the heart of those people.
4. Now is time to break the alabaster box to anoint the needs of others.

a. Haven’t you heard the call for good? Why postpone, delayed, maybe ignored it?
b. On the other hand, Have you thought the money spent could have been
used by the church and for the church in a selfish kind of way? Have we threatened to leave if things do not go our way? We get so caught up in saving a building that is decaying that we loose souls.
5. Remember, Great deeds will be criticized. Do great deeds anyway.
D. Finally, Great deeds are CRUCIAL, pressingly urgent. (v. 8)
1. Some things do change; do something for another while you have opportunity.
Poem: We may never pass this way again.

Through this toilsome world alas!
Once and only once I pass;
If a kindness I may show,
If a good deed I may do
For a suffering fellow man,
Let me do it while I can.
No delay, for it is plain
I shall not pass this way again!
~ unknown ~

2. God will not forget your deeds (Heb. 6:10).
a. (Mk. 14:9) A memorial is set up.
b. Security on earth (Prov. 11:17).
c. Treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19, 20).
A. Every Great Deed COST much.
1. Are we willing to pay the price?
B. Every Great Deed changes the CONDITION of the recipient and the administrator.
1. Jesus loves positive changes, don't you?
C. Every Great Deed will be CRITICIZED.
1. If they criticized Jesus - you're next!
D. Every Great Deed is CRUCIAL, pressingly urgent!
1. Neither we nor our fellowman is promised tomorrow.
E. Break the alabaster flask of love, commitment, forgiveness, charity!

1 comment:

Dutchy said...

Hi there. My name is Renee Reeves. I am the member of the Centralia Church of Christ in Centralia, Washington. It is sometimes referred to as the Twin Cities Church of Christ.

I have been a member of the church all of my life.

I run a support forum for families who are careing for a loved one with Alzheimer's and Dementia.

I have a forum with a spot called Green Pastures. I am really trying to get it up and going. I would welcome any encouraging post. I am currently working on a book entitled, "What's a Christian To Do With Alzheimer's?" Please feel free to drop by, or tell anyone you know who needs support about our site.

I look forward to hearing from you.
I have linked your blog from our Green Pastures section