To whom little is forgiven… loveth little

7dc103cdac1af4a9ee8913a122e7d29fLuke 7:47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

 Being a second generation Christian, this passage hits home. It would be easy for me to get used to many things – my salvation, God’s goodness, and His forgiveness – and not appreciate them as I ought. Because I didn’t experience a life in the world, surrounded by sin, experiencing the painful repercussions that result because of it. However, the Lord saved me FROM those things just as much as He did this lady, or Mary Magdalene, or any other sinner. And for that I ought to be forever grateful. My prayer is that, daily, is be reminded of God’s goodness, the goodness of His forgiveness, and the joy of being part of His people and family. 

 

To preach deliverance, recovering of sight, and liberty.

poverty19Luke 4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

We understand that this passage was a prophecy of the Lord’s coming and His work. But, what a challenge these words are to those of us who preach the Gospel today. Is this not why we sacrifice, give, pray, and go? And yet, many times I fear, in the midst of “ministry”, we get caught up in programs and paperwork, and neglect following the example that Christ left us – working with needy people. Might we, as we go soul winning, do followup, and work with people this weekend, minister with this purpose in mind.

Be content with your wages..?

998895b1a35ac1eaaaa8e330ec03434bLuke 3:10-14 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

John the Baptist had just come on the scene, and is recorded here preaching a fiery message. The introductory phrase to this sermon was “O generation of vipers” – not exactly what we’d learn in homiletics class as a good intro. And yet the people responded in eagerness to his preaching. The publicans, the soldiers, and others in the crowd began to ask, “what must we do”? You’d think he’d talk about their forefathers killing the prophets. Or maybe he’d mention their moral status. Or maybe, he could talk about the whole nation of Israel and lump them in it as a people turned away from God. But John the Baptist decided to ask them to do something that really showed that they were ready to repent. He touched one of the deep issues that has a hold on the heart of mankind – their money and possessions.

To the publicans he said, “don’t take more than you should” (for your own gain). To the other people he said, “if you have food or an extra coat, give the extra possessions away”. To the soldiers he said, “be content with your wages”. I think John knew that if someone was ready to be truly repentant, and ready to live for Christ (like Jesus discerned with the rich young ruler), it is best shown in our willingness to part with money and possessions. My prayer today is that I’d take a self-evaluation in my heart and life. Is my money, or are my possessions getting in the way of what the Lord wants to do in my life? Am I willing to part with some things for the sake of His kingdom and others? Am I Covetous? Because where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.

My Father’s business

 my-fathers-business-large-image-zoomLuke 2:49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

Luke 2 gives more detail into Jesus’ early life. The thing that stands out in this morning’s reading is Christ’s passion – even as young as 12 years old, for His “Father’s business”. He was willing to forego a family event, a national celebration, and no doubt fellowship with some of His peers, for the sake of His Father’s business. And yet even after His parents confronted, Him, and He responded as He did in the verse above, they “understood not”.

Two challenges from today’s reading are, first, to possess a passion for the Father’s business. In the secular world, I’ve heard stories of rappers, actors, and athletes forgetting to eat, depriving themselves of sleep, and going to great lengths to see their passion (on the set, or behind a mic) become a reality. These things are vain, and, in most cases, wrong. But then there’s us – with an opportunity to make an eternal impact for the cause of Christ. And I wonder how much we’re willing to go without for the sake of the Father’s business.

Secondly, I see that when we make radical sacrifices or make the choices and changes, some will not understand. But for the Father’s sake, it’s worth it. Might we be willing to live and give for the sake of the Father’s business, and for the sake of His Son, who gave all up for our sakes.

They delivered them unto us

gospel_of_lukeLuke 1:1-2 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

It’s hard to isolate one thought in such an amazing chapter. 80 verses. The conception of John the Baptist. The announcement of Jesus’ divine conception. Elizabeth, Mary, and Zacharias. There is so much good stuff in here of faith, fear, belief, and the working of God in the lives of men. But in the midst of that, one brief thought stuck out to me, and it’s from the verses above.

Luke is a great book, and puts a different “twist” on the life of Christ and His ministry. But it all starts in verse two. Luke says that his declaration – the book he would write and the things in it – were delivered unto him by those who were eye witnesses. We see here one of the first instances of “2 Timothy 2:2” being played out, where faithful men take that which they know of Christ, and “deliver it” to another faithful man, who will in turn go and do likewise. Praise the Lord for those who came in contact with Luke, and shared the testimony and Gospel of Christ with him, because we have this book because of it.

The prayer today is that I’d do what these men in verse one did – to make Jesus known to others who will make Him known to others. This is New Testament Christianity.

The Lord working with them

Mark 16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

We just finished a tremendous missions conference/revival. This Tuesday, we start our church-wide soul winning again for the fall. I also think of my SS class, and the potential there. Then, we’re gearing up for what I believe can be the greatest fall in our church’s history.  Again – so much potential. So many lost people that need Christ. So many lives that need restored. So much work to do! And yet, Christ has called us, His people, to be the ones to work the harvest.

This morning’s reading was encouraging as I look to the task ahead. I’m thankful – right in the middle of the verse that tells us that the disciples took the challenge, and were up to the task – it shows “The Lord working with them”. My prayer this harvest season is that we’d do the work, yet that the Lord would work with us, as we work for Him. I don’t want to be in the field in the arm of the flesh. And the encouragement is that He can and He will if we let Him.

He spake vehemently

100_1724Mark 14:29-31 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

Peter reminds me a lot of me in many ways. Foot in the mouth. A little hard-headed. Sometimes argumentative. Yet, in this instance – Peter made a big mistake in his argument with Christ. He argued vehemently (forcefully, intensely, passionately) that he would never deny or be offended of Christ. And yet, just about 25 verses later we see Peter cursing, swearing, and denying the Lord. The chapter ends with the words, “and when he thought thereon, he wept.”

I can imagine what Peter “thought on” as he walked quickly away from the fire. “How could I have done this?” “How could I not have listened to Jesus?” “How could I…” – and then bitter weeping and sobbing. This morning’s reading reminded me of a verse in 1 Corinthians 10:12, which says “wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall.” I am not exempt from the most despicable of sins. And my prayer is that I’d be sober, and vigilant, to take heed, and not to “think of myself more highly that I ought”, lest “when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway”. Might we realize what we are capable of, and then realize that it is “through Christ” that we will have victory over temptations, sin, and this world – walking with Him and seeking His guidance as we start our day today, all the while thanking for His grace in our lives to this point.

Knowing not the Scriptures

bibleMark 13:5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: 

Mark 12:24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?

There is a growing generation of Christians who get their theology, their passion, and their paradigm from what they watch on Youtube, read online and/or elsewhere. And yet when I speak to them, they cite the same illustrations, with the same talking points. But unfortunately, at times, what they are saying isn’t lining up with what I’ve read in the Scriptures.

In the last two chapters I’ve read in Mark, Jesus warns His men not to be deceived. In Mark 12, we see that Jesus reprimanded the Sadducees as erring greatly, for the simple fact that they didn’t know the Scriptures. Yesterday and this morning’s reading have reminded me of the importance of knowing truth. And we know that truth is found in and validated by the Word of God. I am not exempt from these warnings, or from deception. My prayer is that I, and we, would be people of the book. Might the Word of God be where I get my theology, my passion, my doctrine, and my paradigm. For when I do, I will not err, and I will not be deceived.

Two Mites

jesus-teaches-about-the-widows-mites-2015-01-01

Mark 12:41-43 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

Edmund Burke once said “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” This rings so true in God’s economy. I wonder how many times the Lord isn’t able to do a great work because through us because we come with the mindset that, because I can’t give a lot, I won’t give at all. Or rather, because I can’t do a lot, I won’t do anything. All Moses had was a walking stick. David had a little strip of leather. Samuel had two ears that were sensitive to God’s voice. Esther had a voice that she used, though trembling, to do a great work. Gideon had a lamp. And the list could go on.

My prayer today is that I’d lay my ability, or yet, lack of ability, before the Lord, and allow Him to use the little that I have, that He might use “the weak things” to see great things done for His glory. This widow lady’s giving has been used to raise, no doubt, millions of dollars since she gave it. Let us never do nothing because we could only do a little.

Nothing but leaves

Mark 11:13-14 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet . [14] And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
This passage reminds me of Christ’s desire for fruitfulness. Jesus saw a fig tree in the distance, and because He was hungry, He came to it, and desired to put its fruit to use. It looked good. It had the big, green leaves that fig trees have. The Bible makes mention of its leaves. It was fig season. It should’ve had fruit. And so the Lord assumed it would have the fruit. But because it was fruitLess, the Lord cursed it as useless, and would not use it anymore. 

I wonder what Christ would say if He inspected the tree of my life today. Would He find leaves, that look good, act the part, and seem to be fruitful, and yet, upon further examination, find a barrenness? I pray not. The Bible says that the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life (and He that winners souls is wise). Christ desires “fruit that remains” in our lives. The Bible demonstrates the “fruit of the spirit”. Might we prune (purge) ourselves of things that would cause barrenness, and ask the Lord for the fruit that He desires to show itself forth in our lives today.