Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fear this...

 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:4-7 ESV)
Most of us have seen the stickers on cars or front doors with houses with a picture of a gun that says "fear this."  It warns intruders to stay away.  But Jesus is speaking to His friends.  We are to fear nothing, save a healthy reverence for our Father in heaven, and that fear is to be balanced with the rest of His character, including His love and mercy.  That proper balance will keep us living to please Him, and also prompt us to fearlessly speak for Him, unafraid of any negative reaction we may receive.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The best ears...

 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.(Luke 12:1-3 ESV)
One of the things that Jesus consistently demonstrated was his ability to know what his disciples were whispering, and even more impressive, what individuals were saying in their minds. He knows it all.  He hears it all - our hidden conversations, gossip, whisperings, even thoughts, AND the motives and evil intentions behind them.  So, knowing that He knows it all and hears it all is a two-sided coin. It is comforting to know He hears every prayer, even when we don't know how to express it, but it is also very convicting to know He hears every vile thing in our hearts, while we attempt to look so clean on the outside.  We need to just come clean with God.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Highly offended offenders...

 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”(Luke 11:45-52 ESV)
The Pharisees were not the only ones who greatly grieved Jesus by their lack of response. These lawyers, or scribes of the law had been entrusted with preserving and presenting the Word of God so the people could understand and apply it. Instead, they had made it more painful to obey God, played "kill the messenger", and actually "locked up" the law to keep it from the people - an earlier version of the Dark Ages.  We might not do such severe things, but do we make pleasing God seem so hard others give up seeking Him? Do we have "fried preacher" for dinner?  Do we turn the word into secrect knowledge we try to hoard?

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Sadness of Self-fulness

 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”
(Luke 11:42-44 ESV)
Having exposed the self-righteousness of these Pharisees (and any of us witht he same tendencies), Jesus pronounces three woes, or causes for sorrow.  He is saddened that they have heard and seen Him and His Kingdom, yet continued to focuse their (our?) lives on themselves.  They live to make themselves look good instead of looking to help others. They always want people to focus on them and the wonderful things they have done.  And, worse of all, they are self-deceived in their self-righteousness, and very sadly, lead others down the wrong path - the path of self, instead of the way of Jesus.  How sad indeed, whenever it's all about me.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mr. Clean

 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.  (Luke 11:37-41 ESV)
Jesus had been in this type of situation before - an invited guest in the home of a Pharisee - yet never before had He shown such a lack of table manners.  But in the context of the larger passage here, the topic is spiritual warfare.  Soldiers do not just march in parades with well-pressed uniforms; they are called to battle - messy, dirty battle, and the cleanliness of the uniform becomes much less important. The object is not to look good on the outside, but to win the battle on the inside - the war with sin. So as we go to worship the Lord today, spruce up the outside to show Him respect, but focus more on the inside - cleansing and victory over this sin tha so easily besets us.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Let the light shine in...

 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”(Luke 11:33-36 ESV)
Light.  It pictures a few things in Scripture - especially the Word of God - His revelation in the Bible and in the Son.  We have all sorts of references in the Old Testament to the Bible as a lamp, a light, and Jesus came as "The Light of the World."  These people to whom Jesus had been speaking had had a lot of exposure to the light.  Now, what would they do with it, with Him? 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Where did that come from???

 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.(Luke 11:29-32 ESV)
These people form a crowd, waiting to hear wonderful words and see wonderful works, and Jesus lambasts them.  Where did that come from? The woman who just said how wonderful it must be to be the woman who bore Him.  She represented the complacency of those who were riding the coattails of being related to Abraham and a geneology of God's people.  Jesus rightfully shakes off such a notion, noting that Gentiles like the wicked people of Ninevah and the Queen of Sheba were much more response to the WORD than these who were demanding signs and wonderes.  In fact, they would be witnesses against them - not to the give testimony, but to be called upon by the Judge as examples of faith in what God says, a faith greater than many who claim to be God's people.  How receptive are you to His Word?  Do you jump at it's commands?  Have a heart of readiness to hear it? 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Real Relationship

 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”(Luke 11:27-28 ESV)
This woman obviously had not been present when Jesus' mothers and brothers had come to visit and couldn't get close to Him.  But Jesus is not disagreeing with her.  The idea of "rather" is "more than."  Yes, Mary and her children, and their townfolk in Nazareth, and Israel were all blessed to have the Messiah among them, but real relationship, real love for Christ, is shown by listening to what He says, and then doing it.  That's how others, and we ourselves will know we are His followers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”(Luke 11:24-26 ESV)
Having brought the unseen world of spiritual battle to the forefront, Jesus has just talked about the wrestling match where He is greater than Beelzebul.  But cleaning up the house is not the only order of business - inviting the Stronger Man into the house to set up residence is essential.  The battle rages, and without Christ things will go from bad to worse.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Inconsistent thought...

 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.(Luke 11:17-19 ESV)
Jesus here warns these Pharisees against something we all should beware: Inconsistent thought.  They accused Him of driving out demons through the power of Satan.  How absurd!  He also addresses the fact that this is a double standard compared to how they viewed thier own who did so - they claimed them to have the power of God.  If they did, He did allt he more.  What inconsistent thoughts do we have to try to excuse our lack of response to God's clear truth?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mixed Marveling...

 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven.(Luke 11:14-16 ESV)
When Jesus does something, people notice, and are in awe, amazement, wonder and marvel.  But there is always a telling sign in what they do next.  Some sincreely seek Him and His word, while others criticize, seek to find wrong, or want to just enjoy the show.  For you, is Jesus a show? Someone to strike back at? Or a sovereign savior you seek to know more and more?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Much More...

 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
(Luke 11:13 ESV)
Wrapping up this encounter on prayer, Jesus reminds us that we have the greatest Father with the greatest love Who gives the greatest gift - The Holy Spirit.  Not only is He the ultimate example that God is good and wants to give; He continues to help us grow in prayer.  He is the Gift who keeps on giving: life, comfort, strength, wisdom, courage - all we need.  What an awesome, loving Father we have!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

That's absurd!!!

 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? (Luke 11:11-12 ESV)
At first glance this doesn't even seem to be a good illustration.  But Jesus was speaking to people very familiar with fishing in lakes, and with the haul their could be snakes mixed in.  And there is a certain scorpion whitish in color whose body resembled an egg, which at quick glance could be mistaken as such.   But a loving father would NEVER intentionally do so, because he loves his children. How much more then, can we expect our Heavenly Father to give us, his good children things that are not harmful for us, even though at first glance they may appear so.  He answers our reqeusts for our good.

Friday, May 18, 2012

He says...

 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.(Luke 11:9-10 ESV)
Having given a picture of what prayer looks like, and an illustration on persistence in prayer, Jesus now gives us the promise: God will answer. He wants us to ask; He is not playing hide and seek; He is listening for the knock. The key is in the opening phrase:  "And I tell you..."  Again, will we trust Him and what He says.  Will we ask, seek and knock, becuase we believe in Him?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Who you gonna call?

 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. (Luke 11:5-8 ESV)
Continuing to expand our horizons concerning prayer, Jesus gives this illustration.  Simply put, a problem has come up in life that this man cannot solve on his own.  Rather than give up and let down his guest - rather than selfishly ignoring his responsibilties, he decides to ask for help.  As we go through our day, we will have lots of responsibilities to keep, and if we think none of them will catch us unprepared, we are somewhat on the arrogant side.  Who are you going to call? Will you call on anyone?  We have someone we can always call. And He wants to answer; He wants to help.  He will do it without grumbling.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Daily things...

  Give us each day our daily bread,
 and forgive us our sins,
  for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
 And lead us not into temptation.”
(Luke 11:3-4 ESV)
Looking at this short list in Luke's version of the Lord's Prayer, it is amazing how with only a few things to remember, we often leave out more than one. (I can even remember three things, maybe four at the grocery store for a few minutes without a list, usually...) Daily bread is easy - we get hungry. But daily asking forgiveness for particular sins?  And daily taking time to forgive others (so we do not let the sun go down on our anger)?  And daily asking for God's protection and armor lest we fall into more sin and lack of forgiveness?  Jesus's battle with temptation did not end when he left fasting in the wilderness, and neither does ours.  Daily we need him to talk with Him about all these things.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

You first, Lord...

 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
  “Father, hallowed be your name.
 Your kingdom come.
(Luke 11:2 ESV)
Besides the fact that Jesus instructs us to come boldy but not like a bull in a china shop - showing the proper reverence for God, these first two statements remind us of something: It's not all about me. It's about HIM. This is a loving but respectful conversation with a real and living God, but it begins by saying: "You come first.  You were here first. You have first place. You know what is best. Your will and way is THE way to go.  It's all about you, Lord." Today, when we pray (and we should), let's remember Who we are talking to and give Him first place.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Five Little Words...

 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1 ESV)
Here, almost half way through Luke's gospel, we find a short request that will make a big difference in the lives of the disciples.  They have seen Jesus do this over and over again, and each time, things happen.  Rather than simply try to imitate Jesus in their own wisdom, they ask Him something - that is something they were often afraid to do: ask.  That, in itself is a lesson on prayer: don't be afraid to ask.  Jesus is more than willing to answer; it's as if He has been waiting for them to ask. He still is today.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Taking something away from church today...

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:41,42
Martha came to her time with Jesus with all sorts of concerns and frustrations which she needed to just lay at Jesus' feet. Mary chose to lay them down and sit at His feet to listen and learn.  Often, when we claim to "get nothing out of the sermon", it is because we have been more like Martha than Mary.  Let's all see what we can take away today that cannot be taken away - God's word planted in our hearts and lives.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” (Luke 10:38-40 ESV)
Martha had a good heart and a desire to serve the Lord.  But in all her doing she had withdrawn herself from the Lord.  She became "distracted" from the primary thing - being with Him and learning from Him.  Tell-tale signs when we become distracted are: we compare ourselves with others' service, we complain about others, and we complain that the Lord doesn't care about good old me.  How distracted have I been this week?

Friday, May 11, 2012

What can I not say???

 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37 ESV)
Having shown this teacher of the Law doors #1, 2, & 3, Jesus had left him with the obvious choice: The one who had shown mercy to the beaten man was not the priest or Levite, but the Samaritan. But this man could not get himself to say "Samaritan", so he simply described him. The self-incrimination was so strong; the comparison so marked, that the only way to resist allowing himself to be convicted and change, he put things this way.  What words, whose name, can we not say, lest it convict us so strongly that we admit we have been wrong?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3?

 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ (Luke 10:31-35 ESV)
Having laid this beaten man in front of us on the road, Jesus gives us three choices: the most respected man in the community (but maybe he was too busy serving the Lord), so how about the one who was really to be a servant(But beware we become unclean),  or, the one who had "least responsibility" to stop and do something, who automatically showed compassion and continued to do so - not just a one-time fulfilling of his "obligation".  The answer seems so clear.  There are no doors hiding the choices! It's obvious, yet so convicting.  We are often too impatient and selfish to choose Door #3.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

You can't miss him...

 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.(Luke 10:29-30 ESV)
Speaking before a crowd of people, we can almost imagine the man looking out and asking this question.  How was he to know if the person was a neighbor in need that he was supposed to help?  Jesus' answer? He will be unavoidable - like coming around a curve in the road and finding a disabled vehicle in the middle of the road.  "You can't miss him!"  Unless you try.  Who have we tried to ignore in our path the last 24 hours?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Really living...

 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
(Luke 10:27-28 ESV)
This scholar had come to trap Jesus.  The big question is "How can I be sure I have eternal life?" It's the question of all time.  For the scholar, it is "What do I need to do?"  If it's "doing", then just perfectly love God and others, and you have it made.  But, as Jesus will show, eternal life is knowing God, and to know Him is to love Him, and if we truly love Him (as the apostle John says), it will show by our love for one another.  If you think you can do it all on your own, go for it.  But if you are wise enough to realize you cannot, keep on listening...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ya can't trick Jesus

 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”(Luke 10:25-26 ESV)
As with many who came to Jesus asking questions, Jesus can see right through to our motives.  This was not a sincere question, but it was a sincere answer - actually two questions. First, "What does God say?" and secondly, "What spin am I trying to put on it?"  God has revealed His truth and made Himself perfectly clear.  But that's not always what we're looking for.  It is, however, what we need .

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Be aware of His Blessings!

 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”(Luke 10:23-24 ESV)
The disciples who walked and talked with Jesus did not realize the privilege they had of witnessing the pivotal point of human history - Christ coming to earth. They had a direct feed to all God had to say, and a front row seat to what He can do, yet at times seemed to totally miss the magnificance of it all.  We too have so many blessings - the complete Word of God, the post-Resurrection perspective, and the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us fit it all together. We are blessed beyond measure, seeing and hearing what so many longed to see.  Are we taking it all for granted? 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hidden and Handed over...

 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Luke 10:21-22 ESV)
"Little children" - when I see that phrase I think the Apostle John, and his letters. He came by that phrase honestly, having heard it from Jesus' lips.  He was one of those "little children", who in turn was entrusted to share the truths with other "little children," those who receive by faith what Jesus gives - the truth about Who God is and what He is like, His plan to redeem us, and His way of using us to pass it on to other "little children."  Enjoy being His kid today.

Friday, May 4, 2012

It's not being wowed, it's being written...

 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”(Luke 10:17-20 ESV)
Besides a not so subtle reminder here that any power they had been able to demonstrate on earth had come to them through His authority, Jesus reminds the 72, and us, of the ultimate goal - not to be able to show such power, but for us and others to respond to the Good News of the Kingdom, believe on Him and have our reservations secure in His Heavenly Hotel.  It's all about His authority, His purposes, and His Home.  Rejoice!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Too familiar???

 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.  “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”(Luke 10:13-16 ESV)
Jesus here rebuked those cities which had the most exposure to Him, His message, and His power, yet failed to respond and receive Him.  How many of us have, over and over again, heard His Good News, seen His hand at work, and grown so unresponsive?  Do you see the awesome truth and glory of Jesus? Or have you let them become bland?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
(Luke 10:10-12 ESV)
As Jesus sent the 72 before Him preparing the way for His coming, some cities did not receive them or Him.  They did not want God's Kingdom, His will, His way of salvation.   It was so close, He was so near to them, yet they chose to miss out.  It reminds me of the word scamble for "ALMOST".  One simple switch of two letters changes it to "AM LOST".  A sad response indeed - to not receive Him.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Simply Put...

 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’(Luke 10:4-9 ESV)
Following Christ is simple (not always easy, but simple.)   We don't need a lot of stuff.  We need to beware of distratctions. We shouldn't make it complicated.  We need to show and Speak the Kingdom of God to those who will receive it.