For a shew

phariseesLuke 20:46-47 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.

The short thought for today stems from Jesus’ condemnation of the scribes, for the reason that their religion, their position, and even their prayers, were done for a show – as opposed to genuine devotion to Christ. My prayer is that I’d examine and evaluate myself today, and see if my prayers, my “religion”, and my position is for a shew, or for true, pure devotion to God. Convicting though this morning.

Certain trusted… in themselves

pharisee-publican-praying-jLuke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

I do understand the context of this verse, and the primary application – and it is a very good one. We understand the pride of the Pharisee, and the humility of the publican. We know that the publican was justified before God, rather than the “righteous” Pharisee. However, a phrase stood out to me this morning, and it can be tied in to many other parables and accounts in the Gospels. Scripture uses the phrase “trusted in themselves” in reference to those standing around, listening to Jesus at the time. When people came to Jesus, He either saved or healed them because of their faith in Him, or He sent them away because they trusted in themselves. There are multiple accounts of this.

As I think of how this applies to me, I am reminded of Jesus’ desire for us to trust in Him alone, not just for salvation, but for living. I think of how many times I “trust myself” as I prepare a sermon, or prepare for a day, or prepare for a ministry endeavor. How many times do we start with a half-hearted prayer for help, or for God’s spirit, His power, or for His guidance? Yes, we’ve trusted Him for salvation, but that’s just the beginning. Might we recognize our need for God in our lives, families, and ministries, and “seek Him early.”

Faithful in unrighteous mammon

eternity-jpg__700x460_q95-1Luke 16:11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

When someone preaches on standards, we are quick to say “amen” (and so we should). When someone preaches on soul winning and discipleship, we say “preach it brother”. Yet I fear that when the preacher preaches on covetousness, or wise stewardship of our finances, we hear crickets. So much of Jesus’ teaching had to do with money, and our attitude toward it and handling of it. God has given us – and especially us in America, so much to steward. And the question is, what are we doing with it for eternity? In previous verses, Jesus says to make friends with unrighteous mammon (money) for the sake of eternity. He also says that it is through faithfulness in our money dealings here that God will be able to entrust us with true riches.

So – before we make that next purchase, or swipe the card, let’s think. When a missionary with a need comes our way, let’s think. When we have an opportunity to give to something bigger and of more eternal value than ourselves and our desires here, let’s think. How are we stewarding our money? Are we making friends with it for the sake of eternity, or for the sake of our social status, comfort, or convenience? My prayer is that I’d be wise, frugal, giving, and faithful with that the Lord has entrusted into my care – for my good and His glory.

We should make merry.

prodigalLuke 15:32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

We have here one of the sad passages in Scripture. We see a son, who has grown up in the home of a loving father, who provided and cared and worked and saved for him. And yet, he came to his father and demanded his portion of the inheritance prematurely. Without a spirit of gratefulness, and without the maturity to handle that wealth and newfound freedom, he went and spent up all that he hath, riotously (wildly, without control, with bad company). After he spends all he has, we see a young man who, at one time was in the safe home of the father, no doubt waited on and looked after by the servants, with all his needs met, now, feeding pigs in the field and in the mud, planning on eating the slop that that the pigs ate to fill his empty stomach. What a sad commentary. What a tragic outcome. However, as he’s there, he thinks back to the father’s house. He thinks of the safety, warmth, and provisions. He thinks of the servants of the father, and how he takes care of them, and comes up with a plan – I will go back, and humble myself before my father, and live as a servant in his house. And thank God for a loving father. For when he was far away, the father came and met him, and hugged him, and wept with joy. He made a great feast, called all into the house, and there was a great celebration, for the lost son had come home.

That was the first unfortunate event in this passage. The second is at the end. While this celebration is going on, the older brother, who hadn’t wasted his living, and hadn’t lived riotously, and hadn’t taken the rest of the money and wasted it, comes into the picture, hearing music and dancing. Upon asking one of the servants, he finds out that his brother is home, and that there is a celebration for him. He is quite upset, and when the father addresses it, he makes what seems to be a pretty fair argument. Why would we celebrate this guy’s homecoming, when I’ve stayed, faithfully, and worked, and saved, and obeyed, and I’ve never been given this type of party? And yet the father entreats (pleads with, begs, tries to reason with) him to understand, and to rejoice that the prodigal has come home.

There is so much we can learn from this passage. First, is the repercussions of leaving the Father. We must take note and beware. The second lesson is that, when a prodigal goes out into the world, and “wastes his substance with riotous living”, and comes back to seek the Father, we ought to be there, with the Father, Who has open arms, ready to receive them and help them to come home. Let us be like the loving Father, and like His servants, whom we are, loving, and ever seeking the lost sheep, to bring him back into the fold.

That my house may be filled

Give me strengthLuke 14:23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

The fall time is great. We seem to reach more people around here with the Gospel, and more people added to the church during this time than during any other time. I think the biggest reason is simple, and that reason is because we emphasize it more this time of the year. We think about bringing people in for our special days. We think about soul winning during our soul winning emphasises. And yet as I read this passage this morning, I am reminded that this is something the Lord wants us to be a part of all the time.

The Lord has a desire for His house to be full. And the “servants” who are to go look for people to fill up the house, are us. Yes, people will make excuses like they made in this passage. Yes, some will reject the invitation, like they did here. But there are people that will accept, and people who will come to His house when we go out and compel them to come in. If it means going to the highways and hedges, I should be willing to do it. If it means going to the poor, I should do that as well. Might we help to fulfill God’s desire not just during this season, but all year long – that His house might be filled. And might we pray, perspire, and persuade, and bring people in, that He might sup with them, and they with Him in His blessed house!

She glorified God. 

Luke 13:13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
A short thought for the morning: here we see a woman who, as it seems, through the influence of Satan, suffered a horrible infirmity. The Bible says she was bowed together. Most likely, she could not lift up her head. She was hunched over. Her body was convulsed, and she had not the strength to stand up straight if she wanted to. This happened 18 years ago from that point. 18 years! However, something wonderful happened. Jesus showed up on the scene. And when Jesus shows up, good things happen. With one phrase, Jesus told her that her infirmity had been removed. She stood up right then and there. There are so many things that scripture could have said after that point, but there’s one phrase it sticks out. She glorified God. Jesus has done so much in and for us. And yet, the reason for Jesus working in our lives, and, really, for all he does, is that God might be glory. This morning, might we remember that our primary purpose is to bring glory to God through our lives. Weather through the healing of and infirmity, the cleansing of a sin, a provision, an answer to prayer, or his daily working in our lives as a result of salvation, I will remember, today, that my purpose in life is to bring him glory here and abroad.


iphone_5_repair_digitizer_lcdLuke 11:24-26 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

I understand that my thoughts are a secondary application here. And yet, I was reminded of this truth this morning as I read this passage. My dad called it the “principle of replacement”. The more the Lord works, and the longer I walk with him, the more He desires to remove unwanted things from my life. Over the years, I can think of many different areas that needed fixed or removed for me to be right with the Lord.

I remember quite a few years ago now, when the Lord began to speak to me about using pirated software. We’re good at justifying ourselves, but He won that conversation. I began to get rid of the operating systems, apps, and programs that I hadn’t purchased. I un-jailbroke my phone. And I visited the “add or remove programs” window on my laptop. I further remember, a few years back now, when I realized I was too engulfed in listening to “conservative” talk radio. I almost wanted a reason to drive, so I could get my sound bits of Sean Hannity, Rush, Beck, and others. I downloaded the interned radio app on my phone so I could listen to them at home, or on the job site. And yet on a walk in the mountains, the Lord spoke to me about this, and it’s been years since I’ve listened to one of them. Further, three years ago, I realized that I was into sports radio far too much. And then I realized that these sports radio personalities were anti Bible, anti morals, and anti who we were, and infused their sports analysis with their paradigm on “life”. So I quit it. And it’s been three years now since I’ve listened to one of them. I had to delete the Fox news app so I wasn’t checking it every time I opened my home screen. And the list could go on.

However, here’s the problem. As I visited my phone, or sat in the driver’s seat of my car, or went to perform certain tasks on my laptop, I realized that there was a void in these areas. When driving to and from Huntington Beach every week, the car was quiet. When going onto my phone to open a certain app, I found my self staring at it and wondering what app to open instead. And so this principle comes into play. What would I replace them with? Because to be fully honest, before I began to replace these things with good things, there were temptations to go back. In my car, there were temptations to turn on other things that shouldn’t be on. On my phone there were temptations to begin using other time wasters that I shouldn’t be wasting time on. And I’m certain if I had gone back, the “last would be worse than the first”. And so many times, when I open my home screen, instead of the Fox app, I open the Kindle app, and read a book or biography that feeds my soul. On the way to hunting beach, when I am alone, I listen to good preaching, a good clip, or music that feeds my soul and draws me closer to the Lord. I’ve gotten good, inexpensive software that has served me and the purpose of my life very well. But I had to replace what I had before with something – and something better.

Many of those things above aren’t bad, but I knew the Lord wanted me to get them out of my life. And I know that as I serve Him and seek to please Him, there will be other things that He will ask me to remove from my life or from my schedule. My prayer is that I’d, first, be willing to remove those things that should be removed. But secondly, is that the Lord would give me wisdom to replace them with better things that conform me to the image of Christ, as well as that bring glory to Him and serve the purpose that He has for my life.

This principle is important for those we work with too, as they give up music, habits, thoughts, and items – we must help them to replace them with good, godly things. If not, most likely, they’ll go back, and the latter will be worse. There are plenty of Scripture from which we can draw this principle, but for sake of time we’ll stop here. Let us remember the principle of replacement.

Do thou likewise

849463109_origLuke 10:36-37 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Today’s reading was jam-packed with goodness. From the seventy disciples being sent out, to victory over Satan, to the Good Samaritan, and Mary at Jesus’ feet, it’s hard to journal just one. But today we’ll write about the Good Samaritan. In regard to this parable, Jesus’ final words are to “go, and do thou likewise”. If He wants us to do likewise, it might be a good idea to know what “likewise” is. I looked at what he did, and how I can apply it in my life with my “neighbors”.

  1. He had compassion – might God give us a compassion for the hurting, whose lives have been broken and beaten by sin. And there’s no shortage of people like this both here in our city, as well as the other side of the world. Might my heart break for the things that break God’s heart.
  2. He went to him – He didn’t stop with a feeling of pity. He did something about it. Many times I have seen someone or something that’s moved my heart and soul, and yet sat idly by. If we’re to do likewise, we must allow our compassion to move us to action – toward the single mom that needs help, or to the marriage that is about to be broken, or the into a conversation with the abused young person, or to the lost and lonely because of sin, or the poor and destitute.
  3. He bound him up – He began the messy work of binding up the messy wounds that the world and the evil had caused. We must be willing to do messy work sometimes, late nights or early mornings, binding the broken heart, healing the deep wounds that sin leaves, and mending that which has been torn apart.
  4. Pouring in wine and oil – He didn’t stop with just mending. He wanted a cleansing, and a cleaning up. He used his own resources, that he had bought with his hard earned money, and began to pour in the cleansing, fragrant agents. If we’re to follow this example, we must not be satisfied with a simple bandage, or outer solution. We must be willing to do what it takes to work and teach and give until there is a cleansing and restoring inwardly – and this takes work and time.
  5. He Brought him to the inn – He brought him to a place where he was more likely to be able to take care of him, where others were lodging, safe from the elements and from the world. I think of the church, or warmth of our homes, where people can come for a meal, a Bible study, for fellowship with others who have found shelter and life.
  6. He followed up and followed through – He didn’t leave him after he brought him into the inn, but continued to care for him, both emotionally and financially. He went back out into the highway, but came again to see if there was a need. He went back out to work, but continued to check back with the “innkeeper” to see how he was doing. Once we bind someone up, and bring them in, we’re not to stop working with and checking up on them. In essence, they’re our responsibility, and not the innkeeper’s. We are to do this until we know they’re whole. This is what the Good Samaritan did.

If we’re to “go and do thou likewise”, these are some things we must implement in our lives and ministries as we work with people. My prayer this morning is that I’d follow this exhortation and example in Scripture.

A daily cross

16_man-crossLuke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Only Luke adds the word “daily.” It is simply one word, but it’s a very important one. In Roman times, you knew that a man carrying a cross outside of the city in Roman times wasn’t coming back. Yet for us, as we have a choice, and as we live in this temple of flesh, we can bring our cross back inside the city. We’re to be a living sacrifice, and yet a living sacrifice can get up off the alter, which we many times do. And so Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, admonishes and exhorts us to make a conscious decision to take up our cross, “daily” – every day of our lives. There are three parts to cross bearing we must understand if we’re going to lose our lives, and be His disciples:

  1. First, we must deny ourselves. Oh, this is easier said than done – because I like me. I remember playing basketball, and the tenacity and grit and endurance it took to deny a good player the ball for just two minutes – two minutes! But the hard work it took to deny him the ball was worth it, as, when we denied him what he shouldn’t have for our better interests, we did well. In our lives, likewise, it takes work to deny the flesh of covetousness, lasciviousness, bitterness, pride and a temporal value system. Yet, the value of daily denying ourselves these things that the world, flesh, and devil try to throw at us, is great!
  2. Secondly, we must take up our cross. This can be equally challenging. I think of my mom, who has been given a great cross to bear. I think of Pastor Wilkerson, who was given a cross to bear. I think of Paul, who was given a cross to bear. All of us have been given a cross. It may be a trial, persecution, temptation, difficult calling, or thorn in the flesh that we wish to God we could change or remove. But that cross is always for our good and God’s glory. If we will follow Him, we must be willing to take up that cross, and to drink our cup, daily.
  3. And lastly, we must follow Him. It’s one thing to deny ourselves. But I know athletes who deny themselves for nothing more than a trophy that will burn. It’s one thing to take up a cross. I know unsaved who have taken up their version of a cross in a monastery, or through some self-denying cause, but for naught. But for us, we know Whom we have believed, and are persuaded that He is able to keep that which He’s committed unto us against that day. And it’s Him that we follow. It’s Him we seek after. It’s Him we serve. Let us remember, daily, it’s Jesus Christ we’re to follow. I’m not doing this for my dad, or man’s recognition. Because when the cross gets heavy, that’s not enough. But when we keep our eyes on Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith, then denying ourselves, and bearing our cross, is something we can do each day of our lives – for our good, for the good of others, and for the glory of God.

Bring forth fruit with patience

636049738916981001-829885414_patience1-1Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

If there’s one area where we stuggle in this fast-paced, microwave, social media society – it’s in patience. We don’t want to wait for anything. We want our fast food, and even our sit-down food, fast. We want a response to our email, dm, or text message, fast. We want our spouse to answer our call, fast. We want answers to our prayers, fast. And yet this isn’t always the model we see in Scripture. We see that many times, it must be come after a struggle through prayer, fasting, “wrestling” with God, or through importunity. And yet that’s not how we’re wired.

Might we be reminded that His ways aren’t our ways. His timetable isn’t our timetable. His answer doesn’t always come when we want it to. And yet we must trust that He knows what’s best. Might we accept the waiting periods, the trials, and the moments where we must wrestle and pray and seek Him, to work much needed patience in our lives. For when patience is worked into our lives and ministries, as we see in the passage above, that is when fruit is born. That’s when we’re perfect (well-rounded, mature), lacking nothing.