9/30/15 Worry For The Poor Is Like Greed For The Rich

Jesus looks at His apostles.  He sees in their faces that they don’t believe they could ever be in any danger of giving earthly treasures the most prominent places in their hearts, simply because they are poor men (except for Judas) and have no treasures.  And so He addresses them now, reminding them of what He has previously taught them.  “Worry is just as bad, because it accomplishes the same goal.  It places the things of this world above the things of God.  Don’t worry about having enough food to eat every day, or clothes to wear.  Your life, your body – they are so much more than what you eat and what you wear.  Remember the ravens.  They aren’t farmers.  They don’t have cupboards to store food.  But God provides for all their needs, feeding them and giving them everything required for every day of their short lives.  And aren’t you worth more than ravens in God’s sight?  And the lilies of the fields – do they sew their own clothes, or have money to purchase them?  Of course not!  But God clothes them in such beauty that they are more magnificent than King Solomon with all his riches.  If God provides for the needs of the bodies of the flowers, which live only a few days and then wither and die, how much more will He provide for you, if you will only trust in Him to do it?”

Luke 12:22-28

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9/29/15 Make God Your Treasure

One man in the crowd has been fighting with his brother over their inheritance.  Both brothers are here today, listening to Jesus.  But neither are listening well enough to understand what they hear.  They have been preoccupied with glaring angrily at each other.  The younger brother can’t stand it any longer.  He shouts out, “Rabbi, tell my brother that he needs to share our inheritance with me!”  Jesus looks into his eyes, searching his soul.  “Am I to be a judge between you?” He asks.  “Don’t concern yourselves with gaining earthly possessions – your life is not about what you have.  Listen to this story:  A farmer brings in a crop at harvest time that is a great deal more than he had expected.  He is very excited about the abundance of the harvest, but says to himself, ‘Where will I put it all?  It won’t fit in my barns.  I know!  I will tear them down and build new, bigger ones, then I will have room to store everything.’  He does this and is happy.  He says to himself, ‘Self, you are rich now!  Relax and enjoy life – you have everything you need.’  But God says to the man, ‘You fool!  Tonight you will die and your soul will begin its eternal life in hell, and then what will happen to all the goods you have stored up for yourself?  Who will they belong to?  It certainly won’t be you!”  This is what will happen to everyone who relies on earthly possessions to bring them joy and security in life, instead of trusting in the things of God.”

Luke 12:13-21

9/28/15 Trust In Me & You’ll Be Completely Free

“If you are willing to affirm publicly that you are Mine and trust in Me to pay the penalty for your sins before God, I will affirm the same before God and all the angels.  But if you reject Me and My offer to pay for your sins, I will have no choice but to reject you before God and all the angels.  Anything you do is forgivable, even speaking against Me in anger, if you are truly sorry and willing to repent and turn to Me for forgiveness.  But if you go so far as to speak against God’s Holy Spirit in your anger and unbelief, of this you may not be forgiven.  For by that time, your heart may be irreversibly hardened against God and His Kingdom.  If you truly belong to Me, though, you never need to worry about anything.  Even if you are arrested and dragged into court because you are Mine, you don’t even need to worry about what you will say in your defense.  At the right time, the Holy Spirit will give you the exact words to say and the strength to say them.”

Luke 12:8-12

9/27/15 Fear Satan & Hell, Not Death

“Most people are afraid of death.  They will do almost anything to avoid it.  But I tell you, death is nothing to fear!  Instead, you should fear the one who has the power to steal your soul and condemn you to an eternity in hell.  Fear him above all else, for this life is very short and eternity is forever.  If you trust in Me to pay the penalty for your sins, you will not need to fear anything, because your admittance to the Kingdom of Heaven will be guaranteed.  God knows you better than you know yourselves, and has sent Me to pay for your sins.  He loves you so much that He is willing to do this for you!  Five sparrows are sold for two pennies – they are worth almost nothing to man.  But God knows and loves each one, because He is their Creator.  And you are worth much more than many sparrows!  He even knows the exact number of hairs on your head at any given time.  I tell you, if you trust in Me, you need never fear death or hell.  Because even if you are murdered, when it is done you will be a living, breathing, perfect resident of the Kingdom of Heaven for eternity, and nothing can take that away from you!”

Luke 12:4-7

9/26/15 The Perils Of Yeast

Now many people are crowded around Jesus and His followers, trying to listen and see what He will do next.  They are rather excited about seeing the Pharisees put in their place.  Jesus reminds the people, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees!  I have warned you about this before, and I tell you again now.  When you make bread, you put a little bit of yeast into the dough and knead it until it is evenly mixed into the whole batch.  The little bit of yeast makes the whole loaf of bread rise.  You can’t see it being mixed in, and once it is mixed evenly you can’t tell that it is there until you see the bread begin to rise.  It is the same with the Pharisees.  They are very tricky in what they say and do, so that people fall under their ‘spell’ unknowingly.  In the Scriptures, when God warns against yeast in bread, it is a symbol of this very thing.  He uses His Word to paint pictures of the lessons He wants His children to learn.”  Now the crowd, like the apostles before them, begins to understand.  It is not real bread and real yeast that is so terrible.  It is what it represents, the insidious nature of Satan and those he uses to attempt to trap God’s people.  The Pharisees are hypocrites, actors.  You never see what’s really inside of them.  But with God, there is nothing hidden.  He knows all, and all will be revealed to everyone eventually.  What is whispered in someone’s ear in a secret basement will be shouted from the rooftops; what is secretly passed on in the dark will be shown in the light.  Live out what is in your heart, and strive to make your heart pure, pleasing to God.”

Luke 12:1-3

9/25/15 The Door Is Locked, Even The Keyholder Cannot Enter

One of the Temple scribes (experts in the law of God), taking offense at Jesus’ words, speaks up, “Rabbi, you are lumping us in with the Pharisees in your accusations!”  Jesus nods and replies to him, “Yes, I AM.  And with good reason.  You “experts” in the law pick it apart and create new laws from the old, making the people’s burdens grow year by year.  And yet you yourselves do not even follow the very laws you expound upon!  You, who take great pride in the repairs and “beautification” you do to the tombs of the prophets have the same hard hearts as your ancestors who killed those very prophets.  God in His wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and torture.’  I tell you the truth:  this wicked generation will be required to pay for the blood of all the prophets from Abel to Zechariah.  I mourn for you, because you are worse than the Pharisees!  You steal from the common people the opportunity to learn and grow in faith and in the knowledge of the things of the Kingdom of Heaven, and you, hiding the key to that locked door, don’t even enter yourselves!”  The Pharisees and scribes look at each other, flames of hatred rising in their eyes.  Jesus, knowing their hearts, rises and walks out of the courtyard.  But they follow, shooting flaming arrows out of their mouths in the form of insults and questions meant to force him into incriminating himself as they go.  Jesus slips away quietly, and they are left alone, seething.

Luke 11:45-54

9/24/15 The Blindness Of Pride

“I feel sorry for you Pharisees and scribes, because you do want to please God, but you are convinced that He wants outward signs of piety.  You are meticulous in your giving, always making sure you give a tenth of everything you have, as the law commands.  You even count out individual grains of spice to make sure you are exactly accurate.  Yes, following God’s law is good and right.  But you have missed the greatest commandment of the law, to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love your neighbor in the same way that you love yourself.  If you are striving to keep God’s law in its entirety, you must start there.  Your pride blinds you to the most important parts of the law, and you leave them undone.  You take pride in always having the place of honor everywhere you go, and being seen as pillars of the community.  But you are hypocrites, pretending to be what you are not, and this will lead to your destruction.  You are like unmarked graves that people walk over without realizing what they are doing.  You do not understand what you are doing to yourselves in living the way that you do.”

Luke 11:42-44

9/23/15 Do What Is In Your Heart

A Pharisee watching in the crowd steps forward and, with much pomp, regally and loudly invites Jesus to dine with him at his home.  Jesus graciously accepts.  He turns and whispers instructions to His apostles, nods to the people, and goes with the Pharisee.  There are many people gathered at the man’s home, some waiting to dine with him and others excited to watch.  When they go into the courtyard, Jesus immediately goes to the table and reclines on a cushion to eat.  The Pharisee stares at Him for a moment, then looks around at his friends, unsure whether or not he should say something.  But he must, he is a Pharisee.  “You’re not going to wash Your hands before we eat?”  Jesus has been waiting for this comment.  He does nothing without a purpose behind it.  With a twinkle in His eye, He replies, “You Pharisees are very concerned with cleanliness.  You observe all your rituals and take care to stay away from anything deemed unclean.  But it is as if you are washing the outside of your cups and bowls and leaving the inside dirty.  Your hearts are full of pride in yourselves – the most dangerous of all the sins, because every sin stems from pride.  Remember, He who made the outside that you try so hard to keep clean also made the inside.  And the inside is the most important part to keep clean, because that is what determines who you are in God’s eyes.  Give unselfishly, out of love and pureness of heart, not out of obligation and pride at what you have and are doing.  It is not the act, but the motive behind it, that determines its value.”

Luke 11:37-41

9/22/15 The Light Of Faith

“When you light a lamp, do you then cover it so that the light does not shine?  No, you put it in a place where it will best light up the whole room.  Your eyes are like lamps for your whole body.  If you are blind, or have any problems with your eyes so that you can’t see clearly, your whole body is going to have problems.  You may see double, and be unable to tell what is real.  You may be completely blind, and be in total darkness, not knowing what is around you or which way to go.  Or you may have blurry vision, never seeing things as they truly are.  Now, if your eyes can affect your whole body in this way, consider how a heart blinded by sin will hurt you – in mind, body, and soul.  Your heart, or your conscience, is your guide to help you know which way to go throughout life.  If it becomes corrupted through sin, it will no longer light the way for you to go, and you will be in danger of taking the paths of evil.  So as you are careful to guard your eyes from harm, guard your heart from sin, so that you will not fall off the path of good.  If you are full of God’s light, it will be like a lamp shining to light up the whole world.”

Luke 11:33-36

9/21/15 Keep Asking, Keep Seeking, Keep Knocking Until You Get What You’re After

“So I tell you, be bold and persistent in your prayers, asking what you will in My Name.  For if it is in harmony with what God wants for your life, He will not withhold it from you.  But don’t just ask, try to find what you are asking for.  God can and will grant your requests, but He will not often do so in the form of a miracle.  If everything is simply given to you, what do you learn?  Nothing, except to be lazy and to expect everything to be handed to you.  You must be willing to do what is necessary to acquire what you wish.  Seek it diligently, and God will help you to find it.  And once you do find what you are seeking, have the courage to knock on the door as the man did in the story, understanding in your heart that this door may be all that is standing between you and what you seek.  Who wants to be in the position to wake his friend at midnight with a favor to ask?  Not many, I’m sure.  But the man knew he could count on his friend.  He asked, not once, but persistently, knowing that eventually his friend would get up and give him the bread he asked for.  He had sought the bread in his own home first, but finding none he continued to seek it until he remembered his friend would have bread.  He had the courage to knock on the door and wake his friend once he determined his course of action.  And he was rewarded in his diligence.  Now if people of this world are willing to give, even grudgingly, what is asked of them, how much more will God, who is infinitely more loving, grant the requests made of Him?”

Luke 11:9-10