Archive for May, 2012

A Startling Contrast

May 31, 2012

“Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him,” Luke 9:32

Last week Sherry and I took Beth and John on a hiking trip.  We were amazed at the startling contrast between the temperature in the valley verses the temperature on the mountain top.  In some places the differences was 10 degrees.

This mornings readings, “Lk 9:28-48,” also present to us a startling contrast.  This section of Luke begins with:

The glory on the mountain

Jesus takes Peter, James, and John on a hiking trip.  Jesus leads them to the mountain to pray.  Once these men arrive they see more than they could imagine.  God’s glory is revealed to these men.  A voice comes from heaven reminding these men that Jesus is God’s Son.  The presence of Elijah and Moses was a reminder of Jesus fulfillment of the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of the law.  In Jesus we see our Redeemer and Lord.

The gloom in the valley

On the next day these men would come down from the mountain and they would experience the gloom in the valley.  Here the other 9 disciples had been unable to cast out a demon from a young man.  Here we see Hell’s presence at work.  But praise God we also see Heaven’s power over hell.  Jesus cast out the demon and gives the young man back to his father.  The people were amazed at the majesty of God.

In this moment we are startled as we see the picture before us.  Because of the cross, you and I who live in the valley of life will some day see the glory of God.  I John 3:2-3 reminds us of this reality.

As long as we live here we will deal with the gloom of the valley.  However we have assured victory in Christ.

Maybe this day, “You have lost sight of this truth.”  Maybe you are feeling the weight of the gloom in the valley?  If so, look forward because your redemption draws near.  Weeping only endures for the night and joy comes in the morning.  Child of God you are headed up the mountain in Christ and because of Christ.  You will arrive at God’s appointed time at the top of the mountain (Heaven) and you will bow before the glory of the Lord.

More To The Story

May 30, 2012

“Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, ‘send the crowd away to go into surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provision for this is a desolate place.”  Luke 9:12

At first glance it would seem that the disciples were truly caring for the best interest of the crowds when they suggested to Jesus that these people be sent away to find food.  But, there is more to the story.

The fact is the Disciples are clouded in their assessment of what was happening.  Yes there were 5000 men plus the women and children who had been with Jesus three days and yes they only had 5 loaves of bread and two fish among them.  This part of the assessment was clear. However the clouded part comes as these men fail to see the one who was leading them, “Jesus.”

Here was the living bread standing before them.  Here was the one who could work miracles standing before them, but they did not even ask nor did they wait for Jesus to do something.  Matthews account records, “Jesus did this to test them, for he knew what he would do.”

Brothers and sisters, “Our God is sovereignly in charge of the moments of our lives.”  Be assured, God knows the rest of the story, when you find yourself in a tough situation. Jesus knew he would work this miracle.  Jesus knew he would teach these men a valuable lesson about faith.

This morning you and I will face some tough things in our lives.  The stories will be gruesome for some but great for all who place their complete trust in the one who has written the rest of the story.

This day I challenge you to place your moments in his hand.  Allow God to write the story of how this thing is going to turn out for you.  Give him praise as the author of the story.

Why Jesus?

May 29, 2012

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him,” Lk. 8:40

This morning I am amazed and heartbroken for the masses of people in our world who have zero desire for Jesus.  Certainly I know theologically why these people have no desire for Jesus.  Paul in his writings, Romans 1:18-25, gives us a clear understanding of the depraved ways of humanity.  In Romans 3:11-19 Paul causes us to see even clearer the desires of humanity.  “There is none who seek after God, no not one.”

For those of us who know Jesus, we cry out, “Come to Jesus!”  We truly have been blessed to have our eyes opened to the truth of Jesus.  Such was the case in our More For Christ readings, Luke 8:40-9:19.

This section begins with a simple but powerful statement, “And all the people were waiting for him.”  This is amazing to me.  Certainly we know that not all of the people were waiting for Jesus as the Messiah who was coming.  For many of these people they were only waiting for the miracle worker.  However there were two who were singled out:

1) We see a daughter who is dying

The father of this daughter comes and pleads with Jesus to come.  Jesus willingly goes with this man.  As they are going, this father will receive news that will require faith if he is going to continue to walk with Jesus.

2) We see a woman who is dying

As Jesus is going with a large crowd traveling with him, someone reaches out in the crowd and touches Jesus.  Certainly we know that many people are touching Jesus as he walks.  But this touch is different.  Here is a woman who touches Jesus in faith.  For 12 long years she has been sick.  She has spent all that she has on doctor bills but only is getting worse.  But on this day, she comes to Jesus and her need is met.

Jesus calls this woman out, “She speaks out.”  Here we see the great why of all of this.  The father needed to hear of Jesus work because the news was coming that his daughter was dead.  The news of Jesus present miracle would lead him to persevere knowing that Jesus could raise his daughter from the dead.  This very thing, Jesus did.

If you were to ask these two people, “Why Jesus.”  Their response would be so powerful.  Jesus has power over both disease and death.  Oh my friends, this is the gospel.  When Adam sinned, death passed unto all men.  How do we know?  Look at the diseases among us.  However Jesus loved us so much that he came and delivered us from death.

This is why we proclaim, “Jesus alone do I trust and Jesus alone do I cling.”  Brothers and sisters I challenge you to join me in telling the world, “Why Jesus!”

The Journey, “Never Alone.”

May 28, 2012

“Then his more and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd.”  Lk 8:19

Last evening our family had the opportunity to watch a movie together that chronicled the life of a famous neurosurgeon (Ben Carson) at John Hopkins children’s hospital.  As I watched the movie my mind quickly went to the Word Of God.  In particular the passage before us in our More For Christ readings, “Lk. 8:19-39.”

Here we discover three scenes in the journey of Christ’s earthly ministry.  The first scene gives us a quick insight to the family of Jesus.  Here we discover Jesus answer to their call to come home.  Jesus remains focused on God’s will.  The fact is we can either encourage or discourage our family in their faith journey.  Make sure you are always encouraging your family to walk closer to Christ.

The second scene occupies Vs:22-25.  Here we discover more than a trip.  Jesus takes a trip with his disciples.  Along the journey tribulation comes in the form of a storm.  This tribulation reveals the truth that the disciples needed to grow in faith in this journey.  This morning I truly see my need of daily growth in the journey.

The last scene, Vs: 26-39 recounts the story of Jesus casting out a demon and the discipleship that takes place as a result of this miracle.  Here we see a man who now wants to go wherever Jesus goes.  But Jesus sends him home to minister to his own family.

In each of these passages I am reminded that the journey of life encompasses family, storms, and great opportunity. The greatest news in all of this is that we are never alone.  Our Lord and Savior both guides and walks with us on this journey.  The sad news is that sometimes we forget this and we end up walking and guiding ourselves.  In these moments we find ourselves in a mess.  We feel all alone and also helpless.

Allow me to encourage you to come back to your source of strength and direction, Jesus Christ.  This very day I prayed, “Lord help me to walk in obedience to your directions.  I am thankful for family, storms, and opportunity.  This day I praise you for always waking with me.  I can proclaim to the world, ‘the child of God is never alone.'”

This very day just like Ben Carson we must give our days to the Lord and trust the results into his hands.

Brothers and sisters, face the journey with joy and happiness today!  Our God is for us and with us.  Praise be to his name.

The True Meaning Of Lordship

May 25, 2012

Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?”  Luke 6:46

Many couples face the issue of Lordship throughout their lives.  I was reminded of this as I was listening to a pastor teach on the subject of dating.  Here is an exert from his teaching:  “One of the two parties will say to the other, ‘if you love me you will be willing to go all the way.’  The other will try to hold out, but the issue of lordship is front and center.”

For me there are several levels of discussion here.  For our time I will only deal with one.  The issue of who is Lord of both of their lives.  Jesus is quoted on Lordship in our More for Christ readings, Luke 6:43-7:17.  

In particular we look at 6:46-49.  Notice Jesus teaching:

1.  The definition of Lordship is assumed

The correct definition of Lordship according to Jesus is simply, “one who is obeyed,”  The incorrect definition of Lordship is simply, “One who is sometimes but not always obeyed.”

2.  The description of Lordship is illustrated

Jesus gives us a clear picture of the correct and incorrect definition.  The correct definition is illustrated by a house being built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.  When the storms come and the rains fall, the house will stand.  Lordship means our salvation and our entire lives are being built on Jesus Christ alone.

The incorrect definition is illustrated by a house being built on the foundation of something else.  When the storms come and the rains fall, the house will fall.  Lordship does not mean Jesus plus something or just believe in something.

Back to our opening illustration.  This couple will make their decision based upon who is truly Lord of their lives.  If Christ is Lord they will truly get through the storm because of a foundation.  This morning we find this in Luke 7:1-17 in two illustrations.  I encourage you to read both.

Bottom line, Who is Lord of your Life? If it is not Christ you have not hope of success in the devastation of life.  But in Christ, our Lord will see us through.

Which Is Better?

May 24, 2012

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20

A few days ago John and I had settled into our recliners in our bedroom.  The Tv was on and we were watching NBA Playoff action.  Then it happened, the dreaded thing that happens every time we watch Tv.  The dreaded think I am speaking of is, “Commercials.”

One commercial was from and insurance company where there was this scene of taste testing.  The participants were tasting two different drinks.  The one that was sweet and tasty was supposed to be representing this car commercial.  John and I failed to get it.

Much in the same way, the disciples were being faced with amazing teaching in our More For Christ readings, Lk 6:20-42.  This is Jesus great Sermon on the Mount.  Most believe we are only getting a summary of all he said in this message.  The message begins with beatitudes (The kind of attitudes kingdom people should have).  In each of the beatitudes we see the word blessed.

Often people think this word means happy, but the fact is the word means to be accepted by God.  So when we read the text here is what Jesus is saying: You are accepted (blessed) by God when you are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Jesus describes a person who knows they do not have the resources to save themselves, so they come in humility before God casting all of their lives into his hand.

Just after these blessings comes the dreaded woes from Jesus.  “Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”  This person has received all the riches they will have in this life.  In eternity they will be bankrupt because they choose to trust in something other than Christ.

In these verses we must ask ourselves, “Which is better?”  For me spiritual poverty is better than earthly resources because I am trusting in Christ and not in my own ability.  Yes being rich here tastes good but in the end it does not yield the blessing you thought.

Debating The Sabbath

May 23, 2012

And Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or destroy life?” Luke 6:9

Recently I had a very interesting conversation with a person who was working through (in their mind) the importance of Sunday worship.  This person had some very compelling reasons why they were not attending church.  Their reasons ranged from, “I have family to take care of and I have no other time to do work at home because I work 50-6o hours per week.”  Everything this person said was true and everything this guy was going through was true.

Here was my question in response, “Do you think God would place requirements on your life that are not valuable to you?”  This morning we discover in our More For Christ readings, Luke 6:1-19, a debate between Jesus and those who had placed requirements on the Sabbath.  These requirements were hindering the true purpose of the Sabbath.

As we follow Luke’s narrative we discover Jesus rationale in this debate:

1.  Jesus debated from the rationale of the Lord’s day being for our nourishment Vs: 1-6

2.  Jesus debated from the rationale of the Lord’s day being for our greatest needs, Vs: 7-11

As we read these verses we discover that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.  We are nourished as we worship the Lord.  We are nourished as we read and are taught his word.  We see needs being met as we work together in his family for his glory.

Brothers and sisters, there is no debate when it comes to the Lord’s day.  One cannot gain what we gain in Christ anywhere else.  No radio program. internet podcast, or Tv ministry can replace or come close to the value of our presence in God’s house on the Lord’s day.

I challenge you to lead the way by being faithful in your worship every week.  I challenge you to be faithful in your work with your church every week.  This is God church and we are His body.

Who Can Forgive Sins?

May 22, 2012

“Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sons but God alone?” Luke 5:21

Every day we have opportunities to live out what we believe in regard to forgiveness.  For example, you are driving in crowded traffic.  You are trying to be kind and tender-hearted to the other drivers.  Suddenly someone cuts you off. In this moment you have an opportunity.  Either you can evidence forgiveness or you can evidence frustration.

Here is a little more intense illustration.  You have had a hard day at work.  You come home about the same time others are coming home.  Suddenly you realize someone in the group has had a bad day and they are evidencing their frustration.  You are tired and now you are offended.  In this moment you must decide, “Do you forgive or do you get even.”

The fact is, “Forgiveness is not and easy matter.”  Our More For Christ readings, Lk 5:17-39, teach us that forgiveness originates with God (II Cor. 1:4) and flows through those who are obedient to God.  Case in point:

4 friends have a friend who is paralyzed.  They seek to bring him to Jesus for healing.  Their faith is so great that they will not be hindered from getting their friend to Jesus.  The scene that follows never grows old even though it is very familiar.

Here in the text we discover several key forgiveness points:  1)  Forgiven people want other people to experience forgiveness.  These 4 men knew what Jesus could do and they carried their friend to Jesus.  Brothers and sisters, there are many people who have no understanding of God’s forgiveness.  It is our responsibility to help them understand what Jesus said, “He did not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners to repentance.”  

2) People who have not experienced forgiveness question it’s validity.  Here in the text the Pharisees question who has the right to forgive sins.  How often do I find people who only investigate and condemn others for their sins without any desire to see them restored.  Those who understand forgiveness want to see others restored.

3)  Only Jesus can forgive sins.  He alone has the authority and ability to forgive sins.  We must come to Jesus in repentance of our own sin and we must come seeking His working in others so that they might come to repentance for their sins.  When all of this is at work in our lives, be assured we will see the miracle of forgiveness.

As we close, I wonder, “Are their people around you who need forgiveness?”  Maybe it is a co-worker or maybe it is a friend or family member?  I challenge you to discover God’s forgiveness in its heights, width, and depth.  When you do, “Miracles will happen.”

They Left Everything

May 21, 2012

“And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:11

Recently Sherry and I visited a couple who had visited our church on the previous Sunday. As we sat in their living room it was easy to see that these were followers of Christ.  We sat there and listened as they shared their story of God’s grace coming to their lives.  One the most interesting parts of their story was when God called them to move to Louisville Ky.  When they felt the call to move, they had no jobs here and they had nowhere to live.  All they had was a clear call from God.  They moved and God worked miracle after miracle.

This mornings More for Christ readings, Lk. 5:1-16, recounts the story of the early disciples leaving everything to follow Christ.  Several things immediately stand out to me:

1.  Jesus grace in choosing these men

These were fisherman.  Not the intellectual giants in the room.  They were common men who on their own could not accomplish great things.  I am always amazed that God chooses people who cannot do faith on their own.  Each time God is gloried through such obedience because it can only be God who accomplishes such things.

2.  Jesus grace in charting a course for these men

When we leave everything we are not taking a blind leap in the dark.  We are following a sovereign Lord who knows every step He wants us to take.  Ours is the task of obedience.  His is the task of leading us and empowering us.

Certainly these men were not without failure and certainly they were not without moments of wanting to turn back.  However, their God was faithful and they crossed the finish line with the certainty that God rewards those who follow Him (Lk 18:28).

This Monday morning, I believe, there could be someone who reads this blog who is battling with God over this leaving everything deal?  If this is the case, I challenge you to study Luke 5 and I challenge you to consider what will be the end result of your life work if you continue in the path you are on this day?

My prayer for you is that you will surrender to Christ fully and allow Him to guide you!!!

Now What?

May 18, 2012

“And the crowds asked him, ‘What then shall we do?'”  Luke 3:10

There are times when we are able to spot the problem, but we do not know how to solve the problem.  For example, My Air Condition quit working in my van.  I knew the problem was that it was not working but I could not solve the problem.  So I took the problem to a place where the problem could be solved.  350 dollars later the problem was solved.

Our More For Christ readings begin in Luke 3:10. John the Baptist has identified the problem of the people and he has prescribed the solution which is repentance.  Beginning in verse ten we discover the impact of this message.  Notice the response:

1) Repentant people develop compassion

John tells people who have blessed with excess to share with those who have needs.  One of the truest signs of repentance shows up in the way we respond to needs around us.

2) Repentant people discover honesty

John tells people who have been in the tax business to stop cheating others.  Only charge what is right.

3) Repentant people discover contentment

John tells soldiers to cease using their position to leverage benefit for their own lives.  True contentment comes from a life of godliness.

In this moment, I wonder if these people did what John the Baptist asked them to do?  Well we can find personal illustrations in the gospels.  For example, we find a guy by the name of Zacchaeus in Luke 19.  Here is his testimony, “Behold Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”  In this moment Jesus responds, “today salvation has come to this house.”

Question, “Do you see the now whats in your own life and do I see the now whats in my life?”  This day, we must take inventory of how we share, how we are honest, and how we are content.

I truly see this in many people’s lives and I see some in my own life, but I confess, “I need to grow in my life so the now whats will be clearly seen for his glory.”  So as you approach the weekend, I challenge you to get busy with the now whats!!!