Friday, June 29, 2012

Seeing what you miss... and who gets it

 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”(Luke 13:28-30 ESV)
Like a scene from A Christmas Carol, Jesus gives a glimpse of what those are missing out on who fail to receive His invitation to the Kingdom banquet.  It is where you want to be, and who you want to be with.  Also in this picture, there is a double shock: not only are they out, those they least expected are in. There will be great grief and bitterness for those who have rejected Christ as Savior and Lord.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

You're not from here...

 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’(Luke 13:25-27 ESV)
After 25 years of living here we still get it sometimes: "You're not from around here..."  When Jesus tells the people "I do not know where you come from", He is saying: "you're not from my Kingdom."  And it isn't because they were not invited.  They had refused the invitation.  That is the great evil they have worked - keeping themselves outside the door, the gate, the household of faith.  We want to be able to say: "This is my home."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is that a "yes"?

 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.(Luke 13:22-24 ESV)
Keeping in line with His practice of not directly answering a question, Jesus introduces the parable He will use with this exhortation.  In other words... yes.  Having already pointed out our tendency toward spiritual slackness, ignoring the eternal, He tells us to head toward the door - now. Don't wait; get it in gear; become a part of the Kingdom today.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The pervasive power of the Gospel...

 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”(Luke 13:20-21 ESV)
Christianity IS so much more than a one-day-a-week religion.  Our faith is to be "mixed in" to every part of our lives.  Like the mustard seed, yeast is very small.  Though yeast (or leaven) is often used as a negative example, here it is not.  Though small, if you mix it in with flour and water, before you know it, you have dough all over the counter.  If the mustard seed is not planted, or the yeast is not mixed in to life, it does nothing.  But when we enter the Kingdom, when we trust Christ and His word, when we plant the seed of God's word and mix the yeast into our lives, great things begin to happen.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A place to call home....

 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
(Luke 13:18-19 ESV)
As Jesus continues to talk of the demands of discipleship, that is paralleled by His descriptions of the Kingdom of God.  At this time we cannot see it physically; like a mustard seed, it begins with a little faith. As our faith takes root, the Kingdom becomes the place we live - not land and castles and boundaries, as much as the place of security and contentment, knowing we are in the right place with God. He is protecting and providing for us; we are being held by Him.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's a shame...

 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.(Luke 13:17 ESV)
Jesus had said a number of things in this passage: "You need to Repent!"  "Woman, you are delivered."  "You hypocrites are so two-faced!"  It's a shame that many respond to Him not with sorry that leads to repentance, but shame that leads to hardness.  It's also a shame that the people rejoiced in... what He did, and not what He said.  For many, seeing was believing, when in reality, believing is seeing the Kingdom of God.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What's with the donkey?

 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”(Luke 13:15-16 ESV)
Jesus was the Master of illustration.  What was His point here?  The religious leaders had more compassion on a donkey or ox that his own neighbor.  He would "work" on the sabbath, making sure the animal was fed and watered, while this woman had been sitting in his presence for 18 years, every sabbath, and he did not reach out to her one.  The first time Jesus saw her, He acted immediately, seeing not only her physical need, but her spiritual one as well.  Tomorrow, as we go to worship, look around and see who is hurting. Give them at least as much attention as you do your dirty car, or tall grass, or any other "project" you've got going.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Credit where Credit is due...

 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.”(Luke 13:14 ESV)
The response to Jesus' healing the woman was overwhelmingly positive, til this official stepped in. Rather than confront Jesus (chicken?), he addressed the people, and yelled at them for coming to be healed on the Sabbath.  But (as stated yesterday), there is nothing that indicates the woman asked to be healed. She may very well had hoped so, but it was Jesus who initiated the encounter, not her.  It was He who healed, not her.  Give Him the blame (or credit), and talk to Him, not about Him.  If God wants to do some "work" on the Sabbath (and that He does), who are we to tell Him no?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Without asking...

 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.(Luke 13:10-13 ESV)
Along the journey with Jesus we have seen many people come and ask Him to heal or deliver, either themselves or a loved one.  But on a few occasions, they do not ask; He commands.  Of course, He knows our hearts; He knew why she was there and what she needed - there was an unseen affliction beyond her obvious physical one.  He reached out to her, and He reaches out to you and me. May our response be the same as hers - Glorify God - let others know what He has done.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How long must God wait?

 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”(Luke 13:6-9 ESV)
As found in the paragraph preceding this one, God is looking for change.  Three years was considered plenty of time for a fig tree to start producing, but the Owner graciously allowed more time.  Just as God was merciful to allow Israel over three years to embrace the Messiah, He is gracious to us. But grace not only accepts us where we are; it believes that through His power we can change.  Let's not keep Him waiting.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Not Fair" facts...

 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”(Luke 13:1-5 ESV)
Life is not always "fair".  The two events in this paragraph brought people to ask "why?"  Was there some hidden sin that brought this event as judgment? Though these things do happen as a result of sin in the world, "innocent" people suffer sudden death.  That's the main point - being ready at any time, not just "being good," but repentant, realizing we all have sin in our lives, even if it's "not as bad as the other guy." 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Seeing it coming...

 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?(Luke 12:54-56 ESV)
Jesus seems to like this word "hypocrite."  He has been using it frequently.  Because it fits.  He also is set on pointing out how much we fixate on the physical, while neglecting the spiritual.  God has given us the ability to put two and two together, to understand physical laws, and He has also given us the truth we need, with enough traces of being created in His image, to put the pieces together, to see Jesus as the One He has sent to bring us back to Him.  They should have seen it coming... we should see Him coming too.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Great Mover and Shaker

 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”(Luke 12:51-53 ESV)
Jesus came to save, and to sever, to deliver and to divide.  As the Light of the World, He lights the lives of those who trust in Him, and also exposes the darkness. He draws the lines between those who receive or reject. He shakes up the world.  How will we respond?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A passion for His Passion

 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!(Luke 12:49-50 ESV)
As Jesus' statements become more and more bold and demanding, He reminds us that His coming involves judgment as well as deliverance.  His commitment to accomplish what the Father had sent Him to do was consuming.  He could not wait to get to the cross and put sin to death.  But this work He was sent to do poses us with the question: how will we respond to what He has done. Will His cross become our deliverance as we accept it, or our judgment as we reject it?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One of those neglected passages...

 And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.(Luke 12:47-48 ESV)
When we think about our accountability to Christ as His followers, we like to focus on the "well done" type of passages.  What we do not like to think about is the great responsibility we have to act upon all He has revealed to us about His will.  We need to focus not on what others deserve for what they have done, but what we ought to be doing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

This life matters...

 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.(Luke 12:45-46 ESV)
As Jesus is talking to His disciples about the demands of following Him, He gives us a wake-up call.  Don't get slack and sloppy about love and holiness.  Watching and waiting means keeping His priorities straight. A good steward takes care of the other servants and maintains personal standards to all others watching and waiting with Him.  Eternal security yes; false security no.  Be alert in the way you live today.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Are you wise and faithful???

 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.(Luke 12:41-44 ESV)
One of Jesus' favorite practices was to answer a question with a question.  In this instance, when He did, Jesus tells Peter, and us, that we need to be ready, like the servant watching and waiting for His master to return.  He promises us here, as elsewhere, that we will be entrusted with more if we are faithful with what He has given.  This is the place of blessing.  But wait, there is the alternative... tormorrow....

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The thief missed out...

 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:37-40 ESV)
Last night I left the garage door open.  Never do, but I did. What if? What if the thief was looking to steal? I never would have left the door unlocked, let alone the garage door wide open. What if Jesus were to return today? Would He find us ready? Would He find our hearts and eyes open and watching and waiting? Or would our garage door, with all the stuff in our lives be pilled up, as the most important thing in our lives?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

lulled to sleep...

 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. (Luke 12:35-36 ESV)
There are times when Jesus pulled His disciples away from the pressures of ministry and life to rest, but leisure can become addictive.  It is the new American pasttime.  Rather than waiting for the Master to return so we can celebrate and find true rest, we have "gone on with life" almost forgetting He exists and is coming back, substituting our own partying and resting.  We ought to be living life waiting for Him to knock, ready to warmly embrace Him, and celebrate with Him as we ehar what He has been doing, and talk with Him about what we have been doing(knowning He already knows, but thrilled that He is interested, ready to hear all about it).  Let's live watching and waiting for Him.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fear not, fret not, oh flock of the Father...

 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.(Luke 12:32-34 ESV)
We hold on to stuff.  Be it for a rainy day, retirement, remembering a special person or occasion, or, as often is the case: out of fear and worry.  What if? What if I need that someday? Fortunately for us, Jesus does not tell us to sell ALL our possessions, like He did some, but He does exhort us to hand on a little less tightly - no, a lot less tightly, so we are free to give and free to trust. Let us treasure Him, the people He has put into our lives, the experiences He has allowed us to have, and most of all, that "Jesus loves me, this I know."  Those are treasures that endure.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Short version...

 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (Luke 12:29-31 ESV)
We are more familiar with the "seek ye first..." in Matthew's Gospel, but in the context of Jesus' talk on worry, this is concise and to the point:  being a believer and worrying are inconsistent with one another. His Kingdom is different than any worldly kingdom, even ones with benevolent dictators; our "job" is to trust; He will provide what we need. Whatcha gonna worry about now?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sharper than Solomon...

 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! (Luke 12:27-28 ESV)
The audience to which Jesus spoke may indeed had reason for concern about affording the basics of life, like clothing and food.  Here we are with competition in designer clothing worrying how we look when we go out.  But the worries are the same.  They focus on me having what I think I need, instead of trusting Him to provide what He knows I need.  If he provides such beauty for this temporal creation, how much more will he provide for the housing of our eternal souls. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wasting your time on worry...

 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12:25-26 ESV)
Jesus has just talked about the carefree life of the raven - fully depending on God's supply of food, like roadkill.  Most of us are beyond the Great Depression mindset of worrying about where our next meal will come from, but we do worry about our health - every little ailment seems like potential death. So we worry, which if anything takes days off of our lives.  Why do we worry? We are control freaks.  We want to be the ones to decide our destiny, including how long we live.  What Christ calls us to do is give control over to Him to trust Him with every day and every hour, and give us the full life He has planned.  He knows best; He wants the best. We can trust in Him.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Be a BIrd Brain!

 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!(Luke 12:22-24 ESV)
Jesus is in the process of telling us some important principles - foundational truths of the life of faith.  Anxiety and faith are in opposition to one another. Life is much more than the necessities of life. Even the birds know that. Their little bird brains are big enough to realize that God will provide - even the ones like the ravens who are scavengers. They don't worry like the rich farmer did about not having big enough barns; they depend on God to feed them.  We need that kind of brain, that kind of mindset - that we can trust God and not worry.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bigger Barns can be Bad Business...

 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”(Luke 12:16-21 ESV)
In and of itself, this rich man had a good, practical solution to a problem: making sure his crop did not rot.  The real problem is that he was so focused on himself and clinging to stuff, and trying to control his own future, that he didn't even think about giving his excess to others and his time and energy to the things of the Lord.  What is on your mind today?  Maintaining your property? Buying more stuff? Setting yourself up for easy street? Or...Using your retirement years for missions work?  Setting aside some excess and asking God for whom and what to use it?  Spending some more time in Bible Study and prayer so you Know the decisions you are making are what God wants you to do?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

There's more to life...

 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”(Luke 12:13-15 ESV)
Many of us would willingly say "Jesus is Lord of all," and acknowledge that He will some day judge the world.  But this man seems to realize Jesus has the authority to judge NOW.  And He does. But often we don't like His decisions, as He is able to see past our actions to our motives, our greed, our desire for Him to rule in our favor even when we are being totally selfish. We gravitate towards greed.  Notice Jesus does not just answer Him, "he said to Them," to all of us: "Beware of every way you want things to serve you." 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Reasons to speak up...

 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:8-12 ESV)
In this chapter Jesus shakes us up in a way we need it.  There's no just cruizin' along as His followers. If we expect Him to speak up and claim us as His, should we not be willing to speak up and claim Him as ours?  When the Holy Spirit moves us to speak up, should we reject His prompting.  Then He comes back to what He just said about fear; He knows us so well. We are afraid and anxious that we will get in a bind and not know what to say. Not to fear; the Spirit is here, to lead us in exactly what we need to say for each audience He brings our way.  We just need to be willing vessels and spokespersons for Him.