Saturday, April 20, 2013

April 20
Giving Place

Luke 20:1-26     J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

20 1-2 Then one day as he was teaching the people in the Temple, and preaching the Gospel to them, the chief priests, the scribes and elders confronted him in a body and asked him this direct question, “Tell us by whose authority you act as you do—who gave you such authority?”
3-4 “I have a question for you, too,” replied Jesus. “John’s baptism, now—tell me, did it come from Heaven or was it purely human?”
5-7 At this they began arguing with each other, saying, “If we say, ‘from Heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe in him?’ but if we say it was purely human, this mob will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they replied that they did not know where it came from.
8 “Then,” returned Jesus, “neither will I tell you by what authority I do what I am doing.”

He tells the people a pointed story

9-16 Then he turned to the people and told them this parable: “There was once a man who planted a vineyard, let it out farm-workers, and went abroad for some time. Then, when the season arrived, he sent a servant to the farm-workers so that they could give him the proceeds of the vineyard. But the farm-workers beat him up and sent him back empty-handed. So he sent another servant, and they beat him up as well, manhandling him disgracefully, and sent him back empty-handed. Then he sent a third servant, but after wounding him severely they threw him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do now? I will send them my son who is so dear to me. Perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the farm-workers saw him, they talked the matter over with each other and said, ‘This man is the heir—come on, let’s kill him, and we shall get everything that he would have had!’ And they threw him outside the vineyard and killed him. What do you suppose the owner will do to them? He will come and destroy the men who were working his property, and hand it over to others.” When they heard this, they said, “God forbid!”
17 But he looked them straight in the eyes and said, “Then what is the meaning of this scripture—‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone?’
18 The man who falls on that stone will be broken, and the man on whom it falls will be crushed to powder.”

The authorities resort to trickery

19 The scribes and chief priests longed to get their hands on him at that moment, but they were afraid of the people. They knew well enough that his parable referred to them.
20 They watched him, however, and sent some spies into the crowd, pretending that they were honest men, to fasten on something that he might say which could be used to hand him over to the authority and power of the governor.
21-22 These men asked him, “Master, we know that what you say and teach is right, and that you teach the way of God truly without fear or favour. Now, is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
23-24 But Jesus saw through their cunning and said to them, “Show me one of the coins. Whose face is this, and whose name is in the inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they said.
25 “Then give to Caesar,” he replied, “what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.”
26 So his reply gave them no sort of handle that they could use against him publicly. And in fact they were so taken aback by his answer that they had nothing more to say.
Meditate on these scriptures today, and ask yourself:
What place of priority do I give to the Lord, in my own life?
Do I place Him and His Word first?
Or are they some where down lower on the list of importance?
If you are going to truly be a Christian....a "Christ In You".... you need to give Him first place in your life.
When making any choice........make that choice based on the guidance given to you in scripture.
When choosing a mate.....follow the precepts of God.
When making any decision, make it while staying aligned with the Word of God.

Will you fail sometimes? .... most likely yes... but the Lord will be right there to help you get back on track again.
Will you fall? .... most likely.... and again, the Lord will lift you up.
Will you place your total trust in His Word, giving Him full access to every part of your heart and mind?
That will be up to you!
But I can assure you, that giving the Lord first place in your life is always the right choice!

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19
Tender Hearted Savior

Luke 19:28-48             J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

28 After these words, Jesus walked on ahead of them on his way to Jerusalem.

Jesus arranges his own entrance into Jerusalem

29-31 Then as he was approaching Bethphage and Bethany, near the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent off two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the village just ahead of you, and there you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet ridden. Untie it and bring it here. And if anybody asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say, ‘the Lord needs it.’”
32-38 So the messengers went off and found things just as he had told them. In fact, as they were untying the colt, the owners did say, “Why are you untying it?” and they replied, “The Lord needs it.” So they brought it to Jesus and, throwing their cloaks upon it, mounted Jesus on its back. Then as he rode along, people spread out their coats on the roadway. And as he approached the city, where the road slopes down from the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of his disciples shouted praises to God for all the marvellous things that they had seen him do. “‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’” they cried. “There is peace in Heaven and glory on high!”
39 There were some Pharisees in the crowd who said to Jesus, “Master, restrain your disciples!”
40 To which he replied, “I tell you that if they kept quiet, the very stones in the road would burst out cheering!”

The sight of the city moves him to tears

41-44 And as he came still nearer to the city, he caught sight of it and wept over it, saying, “Ah, if you only knew, even at this eleventh hour, on what your peace depends—but you cannot see it. The time is coming when your enemies will encircle you with ramparts, surrounding you and hemming you in on every side. And they will hurl you and all your children to the ground—yes, they will not leave you one stone standing upon another—all because you did not know when God Himself was visiting you!”
45 Then he went into the Temple, and proceeded to throw out the traders there.
46 “It is written,” he told them, “‘My house is a house of prayer’, but you have turned it into a ‘den of thieves!’”

Jesus teaches daily in the Temple

47-48 Then day after day he was teaching inside the Temple. The chief priests, the scribes and the national leaders were all the time trying to get rid of him, but they could not find any way to do it since all the people hung upon his words.
Just think of it!
Jesus is coming close to Jerusalem, knowing that He will be laying down His earthly life within just a few short hours.
Rather than being distraught over his own fate, our Lord WEEPS for the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the fate that awaits THEM.....because they would not recognize that He was their Messiah.....the king they had longed for.
He knew that they were blind to His presence as the Son of God, and after having ministered to them for many months, they were unable to truly see who He was.
What deep grief this must have caused the Lord. The very people He came to save, rejected Him and discredited Him at every opportunity.
The Lord Jesus Christ wept over them..... knowing He had done all He could to reveal His divine nature to them...he wept, knowing that they did not know Him.
His heart was so tender toward them....
in another account He speaks of wanting to gather them under His wings as a mother hen gathers her chicks.
Our gentle, tender hearted Savior, loves us with that same tender heart.
Please don't let another day go by without acknowledging Him as Your Lord and Savior....
That SAME tender hearted Savior weeps over you.... wanting nothing more than to rescue YOU and give you HIS precious gift of eternal life!
Welcome Him into your heart TODAY!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18
matters of the heart

Luke 19:1-27          J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

The chief tax-collector is converted to faith in Jesus

19 1-5 Then he went into Jericho and was making his way through it. And here we find a wealthy man called Zacchaeus, a chief collector of taxes, wanting to see what sort of person Jesus was. But the crowd prevented him from doing so, for he was very short. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to get a view of Jesus as he was heading that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and saw the man and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down. I must be your guest today.”
6-7 So Zacchaeus hurriedly climbed down and gladly welcomed him. But the bystanders muttered their disapproval, saying, “Now he has gone to stay with a real sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus himself stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, sir, I will give half my property to the poor. And if I have swindled anybody out of anything I will pay him back four times as much,”
9 Jesus said to him, “Salvation has come to this house today! Zacchaeus is a descendant of Abraham, and it was the lost the Son of Man came to seek—and to save.”

Life requires courage, and is hard on those who dare not use their gifts

11 Then as the crowd still listened attentively, Jesus went on to give them this parable, For the fact that he was nearing Jerusalem made them imagine that the kingdom of God was on the point of appearing.
12-24 “Once upon a time a man of good family went abroad to accept a kingdom and then return. He summoned ten of his servants and gave them each ten pounds, with the words, ‘Use this money to trade with until I come back.’ But the citizens detested him and they sent a delegation after him, to say, ‘We will not have this man to be our king.’ Then later, when he had received his kingdom, he returned and gave orders for the servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, so that he could find out what profit they had made. The first came into his presence, and said, ‘Sire, your ten pounds have made a hundred pounds more.’ ‘Splendid, my good fellow,’ he said, ‘since you have proved trustworthy over this small amount, I am going to put you in charge of ten towns.’ The second came in and said, ‘Sire, your ten pounds have made fifty pounds.’ and he said to him, ‘Good, you’re appointed governor of five towns.’ When the last came, he said, ‘Sire, here are your ten pounds, which I have been keeping wrapped up in a handkerchief. I have been scared—I know you’re a hard man, getting something for nothing and reaping where you never sowed.’ To which he replied, ‘You scoundrel, your own words condemn you! You knew perfectly well, did you, that I am a hard man who gets something for nothing and reaps where he never sowed? Then why didn’t you put my money into the bank, and then when I returned I could have had it back with interest?’ Then he said to those who were standing by, ‘Take away his ten pounds and give it to the fellow who has a hundred.’
25-27 “‘But, sire, he has a hundred pounds already,’ they said to him. ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘and I tell you that the man who has something will get more given to him. But as for the man who has nothing, even his “nothing” will be taken away. And as for these enemies of mine who objected to my being their king, bring them here and execute them in my presence.’”
What kind of heart do you have?
Seeking out Jesus....looking for Him in every situation....are you willing to spend time with Him every day?
He wants to have you all to Himself, so that He can work on your heart....making it pure and holy.....creating a dwelling place fit for Himself...
Sweep your heart clean of every negative thought ...every wrong desire.
Throw out all the useless things of this life... things that don't matter for eternity....just let them go!
Stop filling your heart with unwholesome and unhealthy information...
The Word tells us to focus on things that are lovely, praiseworthy, right, noble and true.
Those are worthy furnishings for the heart that is a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit of the Lord!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 17

Luke 18:18-43         J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Jesus and riches

18 Then one of the Jewish rulers put this question to him, “Master, I know that you are good; tell me, please, what must I do to be sure of eternal life?”
19-20 “I wonder why you call me good?” returned Jesus. “No one is good—only the one God. You know the commandments—‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honour your father and your mother’”
21 “All these,” he replied, “I have carefully kept since I was quite young.”
22 And when Jesus heard that, he said to him, “There is still one thing you have missed. Sell everything you possess and give the money away to the poor, and you will have riches in Heaven. Then come and follow me.”
23 But when he heard this, he was greatly distressed for he was very rich.
24-25 And when Jesus saw how his face fell, he remarked, “How difficult it is for those who have great possessions to enter the kingdom of God! A camel could squeeze through the eye of a needle more easily than a rich man could get into the kingdom of God.”
26 Those who heard Jesus say this, exclaimed, “Then who can possibly be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What men find impossible is perfectly possible with God.”
28 “Well,” rejoined Peter, “we have left all that we ever had and followed you.”
29-30 And Jesus told them, “Believe me, nobody has left his home or wife, or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, without receiving very much more in this present life—and eternal life in the world to come.”

Jesus foretells his death and resurrection

31-33 Then Jesus took the twelve on one side and spoke to them, “Listen to me. We are now going up to Jerusalem and everything that has been written by the prophets about the Son of Man will come true. For he will be handed over to the heathen, and he is going to be jeered at and insulted and spat upon, and then they will flog and kill him. But he will rise again on the third day.”
34 But they did not understand any of this, His words were quite obscure to them and they had no idea of what he meant.

On the way to Jericho he heals a blind beggar

35-38 Then, as he was approaching Jericho, it happened that there was a blind man sitting by the roadside, begging. He heard the crowd passing and enquired what it was all about. And they told him, “Jesus the man from Nazareth is going past you.” So he shouted out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
39 Those who were in front tried to hush his cries. But that made him call out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!”
40-41 So Jesus stood quite still and ordered the man to be brought to him. And when he was quite close, he said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, make me see again,” he cried.
42-43 “You can see again! Your faith has cured you,” returned Jesus. And his sight was restored at once, and he followed Jesus, praising God. All the people who saw it thanked God too.
Live your life for Jesus with passion and intensity. Don't look to the right or to the left....stay totally focused on the Lord.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16

Luke 18:1-17        J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Jesus urges his disciples to persist in prayer

18 Then he gave them an illustration to show that they must always pray and never lose heart.
2-5 “Once upon a time,” he said, “there was a magistrate in a town who had neither fear of God nor respect for his fellow-men. There was a widow in the town who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Please protect me from the man who is trying to ruin me.’ And for a long time he refused. But later he said to himself, ‘Although I don’t fear God and have no respect for men, yet this woman is such a nuisance that I shall give judgment in her favour, or else her continual visits will be the death of me!’”
6-8 Then the Lord said, “Notice how this dishonest magistrate behaved. Do you suppose God, patient as he is, will not see justice done for his chosen, who appeal to him day and night? I assure you he will not delay in seeing justice done. Yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find men on earth who believe in him?”

Jesus tells a story against the self-righteousness

9-14 Then he gave this illustration to certain people who were confident of their own goodness and looked down on others: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one was a Pharisee, the other was a tax-collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed like this with himself, ‘O God, I do thank you that I am not like the rest of mankind, greedy, dishonest, impure, or even like that tax-collector over there. I fast twice every week; I give away a tenth-part of all my income.’ But the tax-collector stood in a distant corner, scarcely daring to look up to Heaven, and with a gesture of despair, said, ‘God, have mercy on a sinner like me.’ I assure you that he was the man who went home justified in God’s sight, rather than the other one. For everyone who sets himself up as somebody will become a nobody, and the man who makes himself nobody will become somebody.”

Jesus welcomes babies

15-17 Then people began to bring babies to him so that he could put his hands on them. But when the disciples noticed it, they frowned on them. But Jesus called them to him, and said, “You must let little children come to me, and you must never prevent their coming. The kingdom of God belongs to little children like these. I tell you, the man who will not accept the kingdom of God like a little child will never get into it at all.”
Persistence tells us that we should keep going...
Keep storming the gates of heaven....
Stay on our knees in prayer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ...
Persistence says..."Don't ever give up! Keep asking ... keep on seeking... keep on praying..."
Do you have that kind of persistant faith;
the faith to keep on praying and never giving up, even though you may not be seeing the results you are hoping for?
Sometimes I think we feel embarrassed when people hear us praying again and again for the same lost loved one, the same work or financial situation, the same request for clarity in some issue that seems clouded and difficult.
But the Lord tells us to keep on praying!
Keep on expecting the Lord to bring about the very best result in your situation.
He tells us plainly that persistence will be rewarded.
So whatever you do, DON'T GIVE UP!
Know and believe that YOU CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON GOD!

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15
On That Day

Luke 17:11-37    J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Jesus heals ten men of leprosy: only one shows his gratitude

11-13 In the course of his journey to Jerusalem, Jesus crossed the boundary between Samaria and Galilee, and as he was approaching a village, ten lepers met him. They kept their distance but shouted out, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14-18 When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And it happened that as they went on their way they were cured. One of their number, when he saw that he was cured, turned round and praised God at the top of his voice, and then fell on his face before Jesus and thanked him. This man was a Samaritan. And at this Jesus remarked, “Weren’t there ten men healed? Where are the other nine? Is nobody going to turn and praise God for what he has done, except this stranger?”
19 And he said to the man, “Stand up now, and go on your way. It is your faith that has made you well.”

Jesus tells the Pharisees that the kingdom is here and now

20-21 Later, he was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he gave them this reply: “The kingdom of God never comes by watching for it. Men cannot say, ‘Look, here it is’, or ‘there it is’, for the kingdom of God is inside you.”

Jesus tell his disciples about the future

22-36 Then he said to the disciples, “The time will come when you will long to see again a single day of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will say to you, ‘Look, there he is’, or ‘Look, here he is.’ Stay where you are and don’t go off looking for him! For the day of the Son of Man will be like lightning flashing from one end of the sky to the other. But before that happens, he must go through much suffering and be utterly rejected by this generation. In the time of the coming of the Son of Man, life will be as it was in the days of Noah. People ate and drank, married and were given in marriage, right up to the day when Noah entered the ark—and then came the flood and destroyed them all. It will be just the same as it was in the days of Lot. People ate and drank, bought and sold, planted and built, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. That is how it will be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. When that day comes, the man who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside it, must not come down to get them. And the man out in the fields must not turn back for anything. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife. Whoever tries to preserve his life will lose it, and the man who is prepared to lose his life will preserve it. I tell you, that night there will be two men in one bed, one man will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be turning the grinding-mill together; one will be taken and the other left.”
37 “But where, Lord?” they asked him. “Wherever there is a dead body, there the vultures will flock,” he replied.
Watching for the return of the Lord....waiting for Him to be us time for preparation.
What is it we need to prepare?
We are not to take anything with us, meaning, when He returns we will be going to Him. If we are away from our homes, we are not to look back to see if our family is coming along also... not to try to go get any of our personal belongings.
No bag to pack, no sack lunch, no bottles of water for the journey...
What then, must we prepare?
Our minds must be prepared.... ready for action.... able to recognize that wonderful moment when Christ returns.
Our hearts must be prepared.... ready to let go of every worldly thing... ready to let go of every person, no matter how dear they are to us, because at that moment, every person will be accountable for him or her self...
Our hearts must be prepared to trust Him completely with our loved ones, including our children and grandchildren.
The very moment we realize that the time has come, that our Savior King, the Lord Jesus Christ, is coming back, we must be ready to let every single thing fall away as we run to Him with abandon....seeking only to be near Him.
Are you ready?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 14
The Call to go Above and Beyond

Luke 16:19-17:10       J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Jesus shows the fearful consequence of social injustice

19-31 “There was once a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and lead a life of daily luxury. And there was a poor man called Lazarus who was put down at his gate. He was covered with sores. He used to long to be fed with the scraps from the rich man’s table. Yes, and the dogs used to come and lick his sores. Well, it happened that the poor man died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And from among the dead he looked up and saw Abraham a long way away, and Lazarus in his arms. ‘Father Abraham!’ he cried out, ‘please pity me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Remember, my son, that you used to have the good things in your lifetime, while Lazarus suffered the bad. Now he is being comforted here, while you are in agony. And besides this, a great chasm has been set between you and us, so that those who want to go to you from this side cannot do so, and people cannot come to us from your side.’ At this he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house for I have five brothers. He could warn them about all this and prevent their coming to this place of torture.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets: they can listen to them.’ ‘Ah no, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘if only someone were to go to them from the dead, they would change completely.’ But Abraham told him, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they would not be convinced even if somebody were to rise from the dead.’”

Jesus warns his disciples about spoiling the spirit of the new kingdom

17 1-3a Then Jesus said to his disciples, “It is inevitable that there should be pitfalls, but alas for the man who is responsible for them! It would be better for that man to have a mill-stone hung round his neck and be thrown into the sea, than that he should trip up one of these little ones. So be careful how you live.
3b-4 “If your brother offends you, take him to task about it, and if he is sorry, forgive him. Yes, if he wrongs you seven times in one day and turns to you and says, ‘I am sorry’ seven times, you must forgive him.”
5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Give us more faith.”
6 And he replied, “If your faith were as big as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this fig-tree, ‘Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea’, and it would do what you said!”

Work in the kingdom must be taken as a matter of course

7-10 “If any of you has a servant ploughing or looking after the sheep, are you likely to say to him when he comes in from the fields, ‘Come straight in and sit down to your meal’? Aren’t you more likely to say, ‘Get my supper ready: change your coat, and wait until I eat and drink: and then, when I’ve finished, you can have your meal’? Do you feel particularly grateful to your servant for doing what you tell him? I don’t think so. It is the same with yourselves—when you have done everything that you are told to do, you can say, ‘We are not much good as servants, for we have only done what we ought to do.’”
The message today: Isn't it enough to do only the job we are told to do?
To go only as far as we are told to go?
To serve only for those few minutes we can begrudgingly squeeze into our busy schedules?
This passage gives us something to think about doesn't it?
If we are willing to go only "so far" with God, to just do the basics, will He be able to see us as those who truly BELIEVE HIM?
He was, after all, willing to go far above and beyond for us, wasn't He?
He came here .... leaving the perfection of His heavenly home ...  to rescue us from our sinful selves....
Was this required of Him?
He came and lavishly poured out His very life for us... so that we could be saved. When we place our lives in His Holy nail-scarred hands, we are cleansed from our unrighteousness, by the POWER of that lavish outpouring of His love.
If He had not been willing to go above and beyond for you, where would you be right now?
Following His example, are you willing to go above and beyond, for Him?
Setting aside your agenda for His?
Pray for the wisdom and discernment to see when and where He calls you to take that extra step......
Pray that He gives you opportunities to go above and beyond.....for Him....