The temptation to avoid and the invitation to grasp

The temptation to avoid:

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” (Luke 4:5-8, NIV) Continue reading “The temptation to avoid and the invitation to grasp”

The Pressing IN of Faith

The gospel for reading this morning was Luke 8:40ff. There are two people pressing in: Jairus (for his daughter) and the woman with the bleeding problem.

Both needed to press in hard. Jairus comes and gets Jesus, but when word comes that his daughter is dead, the common sense thing would be to forget about it. Just go home. Bury your daughter.

But Jesus picks up Jairus’ faith.

“Don’t be afraid; just keep trusting, and she will be healed.”

We face a lot of situations where we are praying and things don’t get better. They get WORSE.

We need to sense the presence of Jesus picking us up. “Just keep trusting.”

Prayer isn’t just a walk in the park. It is also trusting in the dark.

Just keep trusting.

The Focus of Prayer

I am beginning to teach a series on prayer at our church. The text for Sunday is from Luke 10 and 11.

In Luke 10 we have the story of Mary and Martha. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. Martha was busy with serving.

Prayer is a powerful reminder to make sure you keep the main thing the main thing. The distractions will always be there. The key is to remember when Jesus is in the house, you find the time for him. The serving will be there. Things to be done will still be there.

Don’t allow the distractions take you away from the good part.

41 The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. 42  One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, CEB)

Jesus Invites Change… Without Asking

Making my way through the Gospel of Luke this week, and reflecting on other passages in other gospels, I find something interesting. In Luke 19 Zacchaeus is a tax collector wanting to see Jesus. He pays to get the skybox view (which are the better seats at a baseball field, I’m told) and looks for Jesus. As Jesus passes by, he sees Zacchaeus and invites him down. (This would show the wealth of the man, since he was the only one in the skybox.)

Okay, it was a tree… and it was free…

But Jesus goes to Zacchaeus’ house for a meal. Zacchaeus, of course, throws a party. All his “esteemed” friends were there.

We do not have any record of Jesus saying anything directly to Zacchaeus about his wealth or how he got it. In the middle of the meal, Zacchaeus blurts out, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. If I have cheated anyone, I will pay them back four times that amount.”

It turns out Zacchaeus was drunk and then reneged on his deal. (Just kidding.)

Think about this. A rich young ruler comes to Jesus asking what to do to inherit eternal life and in the process Jesus presses him hard. “Sell all you have and give it to the poor.”

That man went away NOT doing what Jesus said.

Here, there is no record of Jesus saying anything and Zacchaeus volunteers change.

What I am convinced of in the life of the believer is this: Jesus IS beautiful. And when we are overwhelmed by HIS beauty… change happens. We want HIM, not our petty little idols. We find out our aspirations just don’t match up and almost without prodding, the beauty of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit does the work. It doesn’t mean things aren’t said… but I do find stories in the gospel like this really fascinating.

Are You Ready for the Invitation?

In Luke 14 someone declares to Jesus, “Happy are those who will feast in God’s kingdom!”

Jesus’ illustration that follows gives a chilling thought: Not all will feast. Some will just refuse.

They are invited. The invitations are given without hiding anything. The invitations are given ahead of time. But people find all kinds of excuses not to come. Those who thought they would just be “in” felt it was okay to turn down the invitation. “The host will understand.”

Well, to a certain point…

Then, these chilling words: “I tell you, not one of those who were invited will taste my dinner.” (Luke 14:24, CEB)

Jesus has prepared the table. Our greatest loss will be trying to do our own agenda, taking our sweet time, and making the horrible assumption that “Jesus will understand.”

It’s not our kingdom, friends. It is his kingdom… and when he invites, will we respond?

Lord, give us hungry hearts, listening ears, and the will to respond.

The feast is ready.

Make His Paths Straight

We are on a journey in our church. This week starts our summer reading. We want to go all the way through the New Testament. This week’s reading is the Gospel of Luke. All of it.

The challenge before us is to prepare the way of the Lord. WE need to be prepared. We need to make the way expedient for our Lord.

The need of our hour is to understand the Lord is calling to his Church. We are watered down as an American Church and we need to see HIS call once again. The invitation is to read the New Testament with fresh eyes, and keep the conversation going this summer. We want to TALK through the texts as we journey this summer.

So… prepare the way. The Lord is calling. Hear this sweet, wonderful, invitation!

“In the desert
someone is shouting,
‘Get the road ready
for the Lord!
Make a straight path
for him.
5 Fill up every valley
and level every mountain
and hill.
Straighten the crooked paths
and smooth out
the rough roads.
6 Then everyone will see
the saving power of God.’”
(Luke 3:4-6, CEB)