He is God

Re:Verse reading–Luke 23:1-27, 32-49 (day four)

He was one of the primary players in our story…Pilate.  In his own mind, he was a man of importance and great authority.  As Rome’s representative, Pilate was responsible for maintaining order in Judea.  The truth of the matter was that Pilate was on shaky ground due to his mishandling of several prior incidents.  Tiberius Caesar would not tolerate another misstep.  Pilate was under great pressure to maintain order with the Jewish religious leaders.  He even addressed Jesus, telling Him that he (Pilate) had authority over His life.  Pilate was not in control…God had preordained the events in eternity and even the prophets had foretold the course of events.

How often do we try to take control of our lives?  Thinking that we can handle the outcome or control the direction of our lives?  There is a word…it is sovereignty.  God is sovereign over all things.  He has ordered our lives and history and we need to remember that He is God…and we are not!

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ACT

Re:Verse reading–Luke 23:1-27, 32-49 (day three) 

“If men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” It’s never the right moment, is it? You’ll wait till things settle down, till your courage wells up, till your money runs out, till your ship comes in. Are you allergic to now? You’re not going to trust him now, you won’t go with him into the unknown at this moment, you’re not ready to re-orient your confidence from the temporal to the eternal at once. That is your decision. But the present has a short shelf life. Your heart’s not getting any softer. Jesus is near now, not then; here, not there; to you, not to that other person you’re competing with. When this moment passes, hearts get hard, and doors close.

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Lent

Re:Verse reading–Luke 23:1-27, 32-49 (day two)  

When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. vs. 33

Tomorrow is the first day of Lent. This word actually means “Spring” but is most closely associated with the days leading up to Easter. As with other “seasons” of the church, Lent is designed to help think about and to aid in telling the story of Jesus. When we consider Jesus’ life and ministry we are amazed at his wisdom, insight, integrity, and divinity. When you put that into the context of his suffering and the atonement we received as a result you get an even greater picture of the sovereignty of Jesus. As we prepare for the glorious celebration of Easter, I would like to encourage you to consider the cross. Consider this gentle lamb who willingly placed himself there for each of us. It is truly overwhelming, and it should be. Thanks be to God, however, the story doesn’t end there. Will you join me as we lead up to the resurrection and consider how we can love Jesus more?

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Criminal on a cross

Re:Verse reading–Luke 23:1-27, 32-49 (day one) 

“We are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”–v 41.

Traditionally we call him a thief.  The word actually means “evil doer, so murder, robbery or kidnapping are just as likely.  His story lifts up the grace of God.  Mercy “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23)  Patient God. Long-suffering.  Pursuing a man to the door of death.

Marvelous miracle!  In the chaos and pain of crucifixion, this man still has the perception ( gift from God) to perceive his own sinfulness and the perfection of Christ.  As God opened His eyes, he called out to Christ in saving faith.

The Puritans said of this death-bed conversion, “To keep us from despair there is one story in the Bible, but to keep us from presumption there is only one.”

I must not delay!  When He comes near, I must receive Him.  Today is the day.  Now is the moment.

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Affluence

Re: Verse reading–Luke 16:19-31 (day seven)

“One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. -Luke 18:22-23

“For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” -Luke 18:25

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. -1 Timothy 6:10

A simple concept exceedingly complex in practice.  Amoral monies unwittingly transform us into nasty devils.  With $3 in our bank account we battle pride, greed, gluttony, and selfishness in a single second.  This whiff of independence causes most to fall, all the while Jesus whispers

Be on guard
affluence is steering you away
from your God.

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Listen

Re: Verse reading–Luke 16:19-31 (day six) 

The last books (chronologically) in the Old Testament where written about 400 years before Jesus was born. The books of Moses were written another 1100 years before that. That was old then, and it is old now. Antiquated. But listen to how Jesus spoke of these Scriptures, “Moses and the prophets,” as if their words weren’t antiquated at all. These weren’t archaic voices from the ancients, but God-breathed words put to paper meant to quicken the dead hearts of men and women until the end of time. God’s voice is as clear and relevant now, as it was when He first inspired Moses and the prophets to write them.

When we come to God’s Word, we are not coming to an old thing, but we are coming to words spoken by a person, to us NOW. Let’s not take them for granted like the rich man and his brothers.

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Hearing

Re: Verse reading–Luke 16:19-31 (day five)

‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

The message God has given us through the scriptures is enough for the human heart to hear and believe the saving call of our Heavenly Father.  “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Jesus would interact with people preaching/teaching the scriptures.  Not all would “hear” or even be interested.  But there were some.  He would then begin a more personal interaction with them.

Great strategy for us. Speak and share the message of the scriptures (Gospel, Biblical Truths).  There will be some who are interested and want to know more.  Continue the conversation. Invite them to trust and follow Christ.  “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Will you share so people can “hear”?

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Caught By Surprise

Re: Verse reading–Luke 16:19-31 (day four) 

One of the questions we would ask if we were doing an inductive study of this passage would be…”who was Jesus speaking to?”  Look back at verse 14…”Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things…”  The Pharisees considered wealth to be a blessing from God and a confirmation of their privileged relationship with Him.  The rich man in our story shared this common Jewish belief and was caught by surprise when he ended up in Hades.  He had no change of heart though, even there, because he still saw Lazarus as a servant to meet his needs.  He was also oblivious to the sufficiency of Scripture to call us to repentance.

Are we blinded to the obvious message of God’s Word in any area of our lives?  Forgive others…be reconciled…it is better to give than to receive…love your enemy?  Ask God to search your heart today so you will not be ‘caught by surprise.’  (Psalm 139:23-24)

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Perseverance

Re: Verse reading–Luke 16:19-31 (day three) 

“Send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them.”  If we’ve gotten it into our heads that one’s post-death circumstances after a life of selfish disregard for God and others will result in regret for a life poorly lived, this story Jesus tells should disabuse us of that notion.  The narrative clearly shows us a man who is just as self-centered and self-important now as he ever was before: “Grant me a favor; send Lazarus to serve me; accord my family special status,” etc.  Privilege is his only language.  But that was a way of thinking and living he had learned long before now.  All the years of his mortal existence had steadily formed his character, and so the way he lived life was now the way he lived death.  Is it somehow different for you?

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What Matters

Re: Verse reading–Luke 16:19-31 (day two) 

“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.” vs. 19

It was clear from both chapter 15 and 16 of Luke’s gospel that he had an affluent audience. The parable of the prodigal son also told of an excessive lifestyle that ultimately led to destruction. What is clear in these texts is not the size of their bank account, but the size of their hearts. Remember the words from Matthew that say: Where your treasure is, there your heart is also. Ultimately everything we have is a gift and resource for God’s kingdom work here on earth. How are you choosing to use your time for him. Are you spending it with your kids telling them the truth of Jesus? Are you dedicating energy towards helping our community realize the beauty of Christ as Lord? Does your checkbook reflect a life focused first on Heavenly things? These are thing matters that matter to God.

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