Sandra Wyatt

Scripture Saturday ~ Hiding God’s Word in Your Heart

11:30 PM



By Sandra Wyatt

Welcome to Scripture Saturday!  Today we continue our memorization of verses found in Luke with verses 19:10…

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

“Christianity is summed up in these words: Jesus came to seek and save the lost. If we were asked to describe in a sentence the heart of the gospel, there it is.” (Piper)

I chose this verse because, I was, before I was saved, one that was seeking.  I was up in a tree looking for answers, meaning, purpose, comfort, peace.  Praise God that Jesus saw me and said, “Sandra, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” I, like Zaccheus, hurried down and received Him joyfully! With grace He came to seek and save me!

John Piper goes on to say this…
“…we live in a planet full of seekers. We are, in one way or another, tree-climbers, maneuvering ourselves to gain some advantage, to achieve some perspective, to find personal peace. And then Jesus comes. We are lost in our own seeking until Jesus comes and says to us, “Hurry and come down” (Luke 19:5). Stop your searching. Stop trying to save yourself. I have come to seek and save the lost. Our exertion is then silenced. All our seeking — our trying to reach the divine on our own — is silenced when we learn that the divine has reached down to us . . . by becoming one of us. Here we are, spinning our wheels in hopes of getting God, and then God, despite our belittling works, comes to get us. That gulf we couldn’t bridge is the burden he takes upon himself. We were lost, sinners who rightly deserve God’s judgment. And Jesus came to take the judgment for us. He suffered in our place on the cross, was dead and buried, and then on the third day was raised to life. He ascended to the Father’s right hand from where he reigns over all. Jesus sought us, and he has saved us, if we trust him. Do you believe this? Do you feel the wonder of this salvation?”

“Christ is come to his (Zaccheus’)house, and where Christ comes He brings salvation with Him. He came into this lost world to seek and to save it. His design was to save, when there was no salvation in any other. He seeks those that sought Him not, and asked not for Him.” (Henry)

Have a precious and blessed day everyone!

Jesus

His love and His Word endure Forever {Luke 21}

10:30 PM



By Mari Sandoval

We start off today’s reading as Luke describes Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, while He observes something that no one else had noticed: “Looking up, He saw the rich people putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two [a]small copper coins.He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in [proportionally] more than all of themfor they all put in gifts from their abundance; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” While some were talking about the magnificence of the Temple and probably the wisdom and skills of the people who built it, Jesus was more concerned about the contrast in the intentions of the hearts of the poor widow V.S. the rich people. Such a small contribution from the poor widow had a greater meaning to Jesus!

Do you ever feel your contribution to your Church is not enough or less than what others offer? Well isn’t it awesome that Jesus looks at what a man is, and not at what a man has, and this should let our hearts be filled with contentment, because nothing is overlooked by Him! "All things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." (Heb. 4:13.) He measures littleness and greatness by a very different measure from the measure of man. This is also true in our day to day: there are events in our own daily life, to which we give no importance, BUT are often very relevant and serious matters in His sight! 




As we continue in vs. 5-6 we find some people praising the beautiful Temple they were in. To which Jesus said: “As for all these things which you see, the time will come when there will not be one stone left on another that will not be [c]torn down.” Imagine their surprise as He spoke these words foretelling the destruction of the Temple which was object of  idolatrous veneration from Pharisees and scribes! His words were spoken in order to teach us the mighty truth that the true glory of a place of worship does not consist in outward ornaments. "The Lord sees not as man sees." (1 Sam. 16:7.) Man looks at the outward appearance of a building. The Lord looks for spiritual worship, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the temple at Jerusalem these things were definitely lacking, and therefore Jesus Christ could take no pleasure in it!! . (“The refurbishing of the temple was begun by Herod the Great in 20 b.c. and was completed in a.d. 64 by Herod Agrippa . In a.d. 70, just six years after the temple was completed, it was destroyed by the Roman general Titus and his army, who thoroughly devastated Jerusalem”. –Bible Gateway-)

The temple in which the Lord Jesus delights most, is a broken and contrite heart, renewed by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus continued telling his disciples about other major events to come; the persecution, the scattering of the Jews and the long period of time before His second advent. 17 and you will be continually hated by everyone because of [your association with] My name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your [patient] endurance [empowered by the Holy Spirit] you will gain your souls.” (Amp)

The world may deprive a believer of property, friends, country, home, liberty, health, and life. But one thing the world cannot do to any believer: it cannot deprive him of his interest in Christ's love. It cannot break the union between Christ and his soul. "I am persuaded," says Paul, "that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:38-39.)

Regarding the fulfillment of the prophecies and His second advent, our Lord said to His disciples: "Heaven and earth shall pass away--but my words shall not pass away." (vs.33) Because He has said it, He will do it! (1 Peter 1:24-25)

Finally our Lord Jesus concludes with the following advice: "Watch out! Don't let me find you living in careless ease and drunkenness, and filled with the worries of this life. Don't let that day catch you unaware, as in a trap."


“The exhortation before us should teach us furthermore the great importance of an unworldly spirit. The "cares of this life" are placed side by side with surfeiting and drunkenness. Excess in eating and drinking is not the only excess which injures the soul. There is an excessive anxiety about the innocent things of this life, which is just as ruinous to our spiritual prosperity, and just as poisonous to the inner man. Never, never let us forget that we may make spiritual shipwreck on lawful things, as really and truly as on open vices. Happy is he who has learned to hold the things of this world with a loose hand, and to believe that seeking first the kingdom of God, "all other things shall be added to him!" (Matt. 6:33.) We are to "pray always." We are to keep up a constant habit of real, business-like prayer. We are to speak with God daily, and hold daily communion with Him about our souls. We are to pray specially for grace to lay aside every weight, and to cast away everything which may interfere with readiness to meet our Lord. Above all, we are to watch our habits of devotion with a godly jealousy, and to beware of hurrying over or shortening our prayers.” –Ryle-

Becky Bramlett Austin

Who Is Over It All? {Luke 20}

3:56 AM




By Becky Bramlett Austin 

The Parable of the Vineyard is a convicting and powerful story that should make anyone stop and reflect upon life and the vast Universe and think ""Who Is Over It All?"

In this story, there is a vineyard.  The owner of the vineyard is away and has rented it to some tenants.  The owner is symbolic of God and the tenants were the religious leaders.  It was common in that day for landowners to rent out their land.  In exchange for use of the already fertile and usable property, the tenants would share the fruits of the harvest with the owner.  Sounds like a Win- Win situation to me.  But in this story, the tenants decide that they don't want to acknowledge the owner, and they selfishly want to keep the profits all for themselves. 

Sounds like they forgot that without the resources of the vineyard, they would have nothing.
The next part of the story shows the tremendous grace and patience that God has shown to his people. In this story, the landowner sends servant after servant to represent him to the tenants.  Each time they are beaten and rejected. If you read through the Bible, you see that God has also sent prophet after prophet to a rebellious people, trying to reason with them and give them opportunity to do the right thing. Finally, instead of swooping in with the law as he rightfully could have done at any time, he decides to send his own son thinking that seeing the son should make a difference.  What a picture of his grace and patience with us. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” —Romans 5:8.   

Did it make a difference that He sent his beloved Son?  Sadly, it did not.  The tenants recognized the Son but they viewed him as a barrier to what they wanted. When Jesus told this story, the religious leaders recognized that the story was about them.  Did it convict and humble them? No! Instead, they plotted to get Jesus out of the way. By killing Jesus, they thought they preserved the glory of their self righteous positions which did not acknowledge God. But, they forgot one important thing...."Who is over it all?"

The story concludes with the owner doing what he could have done from the beginning.  Jesus specifically asks. " What will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others."  Don't you marvel at their response... "Surely not!"  How many want to use what God offers for self gain and will not allow conviction to prick their hearts no matter how patiently He waits for them to repent.  How many know they are wrong but they still don't acknowledge that God has the right to judge them and hold them accountable. How many will reject the beloved son sent to die for them? Eventually there will be a day of reckoning when God will say " Enough". 

For the religious leaders, their days were numbered. Jesus was very specific in letting them know their fate. “But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him." The religious leaders felt secure in their own self righteousness which is why they stumbled over, so to speak, the bigger plan of Jesus being the security they truly needed. They didn't acknowledge the authority of God and therefore they also didn't acknowledge his son. So sad, that they didn't see the love, the patience that God showed them. So sad that they didn't work in collaboration with God to produce spiritual fruit.  So sad that they didn't humble themselves before the authority of his Son. It could have been a Win- Win situation. God wanted it to be a beautiful cooperative relationship and it saddened Him when He was rejected. But, oh, how marvelous for the rest of the world and for you and I to be given that same wonderful opportunity. 

God has provided us a vineyard to work in, in beautiful collaboration with Him.  All we have to do is acknowledge " Who is over it all! ". He wants us to produce fruit.  He wants to provide us the resources to do so, and He wants to bless us.  In turn, we are to give Him his proper place as Lord over our lives and glorify Him. Sounds like a Win- Win to me! 

x

Luke

O That We Might Know Peace! {Luke 19}

12:00 AM



By Sue Desmarais

Have you ever seen the different videos of the soldiers coming home from a tour overseas to surprise their parents, spouse, or children? I can’t resist them! I’m such a sap when it comes to a hero’s welcome and consequentially have always loved the story of Palm Sunday, but I recently discovered the story tellers usually only share half of the story; stopping at verse 40! Notice what also happened in that moment:

 “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” – Luke 19:41-44

Luke had an advantage at the time he wrote this book, for what Jesus is speaking about here had already taken place when Luke penned this. Jerusalem had already been destroyed about ten years prior by the Roman armies in the year 70.

What I hadn’t seen until now, and what I truly don’t understand is, this was to be a joyous occasion! It was a large, (some say 200,000) enthusiastic crowd joyfully proclaiming victory over their enemies and the triumphal arrival of the Kingdom of God!! Why, o why does Jesus begin to weep at this moment!?

The Greek word used here for “wept” is the strongest word used in the Greek language for weep. It would be equivalent to our words "sobbing, heaving, wretched agonizing."  As Jesus sees Jerusalem He's racked with agony and He begins to heave and sob. Definitely NOT the reaction anyone would expect at that moment! Right?

 Jesus knew this would be His final entry into the city of Jerusalem. He knew that in just a few days He would be arrested, tried, beaten and crucified. He knew that some of those very same people that were shouting, “Hosanna!” would soon be shouting, “Crucify Him!” , but He was weeping for the people; not for Himself.  

Jesus begins by saying, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace.” Wait! Why “on this day”? I discovered the reference to "this day" reveals that there is something about this particular day that makes Jesus weep, for “this day" had the potential to bring "things which make for peace." I also learned that when Jesus uses “you” in this verse He is referring to all of Israel.

Some scholars believe that "this day" is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 9:25, the Messiah would come to Israel at the end of the sixty-ninth week of Daniel which would have been this day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  

So, what exactly would bring Israel (and us) peace on that day or any day?  Repentance; a turning away from their ways of doing and being right, to faith in Jesus as the Messiah; believing the message of the kingdom! The message Jesus had preached from the very beginning of His ministry; the beginning of the Book of Luke, and the same message that had been woven throughout the Old Testament as well! But they still didn’t see! Still didn’t accept it even if they had seen. So Jesus wept for Israel like a parent weeping for a lost or wayward child. I don’t think I’ll ever look at another Palm Sunday celebration the same way again.

I know at the moment all seemed so grand, but Jesus could see through their hypocrisy to their rejection which would be coming in just a few days. He also wept because He knew of their destruction that was coming. Many that were there that day would probably not survive when Rome came to destroy Jerusalem.  He wept because He had already warned them of their own damnation coming, and still they refused to accept peace:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” –Matthew 23:37-39

As I’ve researched this passage this week two questions seemed to keep surfacing.

  • The first, do you know what brings peace to every heart? Have you believed and accepted the message Jesus came here to share? That salvation is found in Christ Jesus alone? Do you know, that you know, that you know you have that “peace”? We’ve seen today just how important it is to Jesus, is it just as important to you?

  • Then secondly, do you agonize over the lost like Jesus? Over your friends and loved ones who still to this day do not know the peace He came to offer them?

You and I NEED to be about our Father’s business, for we have “this day” and may never have another!

O Father, Thank You, thank You for Your Word. My heart is full and so thankful that I have been given the assurance of Your peace.  May it be so in each and every heart reading this post, I pray. May each of us turn, receive and embrace the gift of being reconciled to You; making peace possible because of all Jesus has done for us.  May there be no one reading this post that ever has to face such catastrophic and eternal judgment.  


And, Father, please do a work in each of us. Come in, fill us and use us, Lord, to carry this amazing message to those who so desperately need it in our world; those you agonized over that day! We thank You Lord! We give You all the glory and praise in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Humble

Humble Exultation {Luke 18}

12:00 AM



By Lisa Thayer

Sometimes I see on Facebook the quote, “No matter what life throws at us, at least we don’t have ugly children!”  I have often put my hand over my mouth when I read that.  And I have been convicted of holding too tightly to my children.  Many of you are aware that this season of empty nesting has been difficult for me – and I still have two children living at home!  Seriously, just look at the many, and I mean many posts on social media about our children’s accomplishments.  There are posts about sports achievements, academic achievements, health achievements, even religious achievements.  We are proud of our children.  We have spent 18-20 years attending every event and watched them grow and reach huge milestones. 

When I first read this chapter, verse 29 stood out to me.  But why is it included in the parable of the ‘Rich Man’?  Personally, it answered a prayer about why this season of empty nesting was so difficult for me.  I believe it is because we place what we hold dear to us first in our lives.  God, our Heavenly Father, our Creator, must be first. 

Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised.”  Verse 29 is included in the parable of the rich man because we may not always be attached to money or possessions, but people, especially our children or parents.

The end of chapter 17 ended with “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”  (17:33-35)  Which lead to the beginning of chapter 18 – persistence in prayer.  When we live by faith, we are not to give up (v. 1).  In the first parable of this chapter, a widow keeps coming before the judge.  In my current situation, I realized, I needed to remove my children from my grasp, and bring them before the Lord to have Him bless them.  And trust that the blessings He has in store for them may not be the same blessings I believe they deserve.  I learned that I need to humbly lay them before Him for Him to use them to further His Kingdom.  I have had to do this over and over, sometimes many times in the same day! 

This parable is followed by the humble tax collector.  The people I work with often grumble and complain about a lawyer they often have to work with on certain cases.  He truly appears to be a scoundrel.  Yet, occasionally I visit a different church, and there he is humbly wheeling his mother in a wheelchair up to communion.  And each time I see him, I see this humble man, not the unjust lawyer. 

I remember a sermon a few years ago about the blind beggar and it has stuck with me.  We encounter Jesus all day long and sometimes we think because He knows what we ‘need’, He should just grant it to us.  I mean after all, we are believers – He knows the number of hairs on our head, He certainly can see my present situation.  Yet there are obstacles in our way, especially in the world we live in.  If we can be persistent in faith, and come to Jesus with our specific requests, our eyes will be opened and we will see the way He intends for our lives to be lived.  Jesus asks us, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 41) – He wants us to be specific!


God is loving and He will respond to us, we have to believe He hears our cries for help.  And we receive healing because of our faith.  Persistence is not the means to earn salvation, but the by-product of a truly devoted life.  Every time there is a miracle, there is a conversion.   We must humble ourselves over and over.

Faith

Ten Lepers Cleansed {Luke 17}

12:00 AM



By Lisa Moore

We begin this chapter with Jesus and the disciples traveling to Jerusalem.  They are passing between Samaria and Galilee, and stop to enter a village.  There is a group of ten leprous men made up of both Jews and Samaritans.  They see Jesus from a distance and call out to Him.  Verse 14-17 tells us , "When He saw them, He said to them, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.'  And as they were going they were cleansed.  Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him.  And he was a Samaritan.  Then Jesus answered and said, 'Were there not ten cleansed?  But the nine-where are they?  Was no one found to give glory to God, except this foreigner?" 



Many times I've found myself skimming over this miracle Jesus performed because I'm more focused on what is about to happen once Jesus enters Jerusalem.  But when I actually slowed down and spent some time digging in deeper, I discovered the importance of having a faith filled with gratitude.



How wretched those men were.  Because of their leprosy the only people they could associate with was other lepers.  They were shunned.  They could go nowhere near their friends, their loved ones, or even their synagogue.  When people looked at them they were automatically assumed to have been cursed by God.  What a miserable, painful, and lonely existence.  Imagine their hope and excitement when into their village comes Jesus!  The One who they have heard performs great miracles, and who is their only chance for healing.  Now imagine their confusion when they cry out to Jesus for mercy and He simply responds by telling them to go and show themselves to the priests.  



In that time the priests had the final say when it came to diagnosing leprosy.  Only they could declare someone as being "clean" and free of the disease thereby allowing them back into society.  I'm sure these men, looking down at their still infected bodies, wondered why Jesus would tell them to do such a thing.  But it was in that moment that they had a decision to make.  Stay where they were ravished with disease and hopeless, or to put their faith in Jesus and follow His command.  They chose Jesus.  And as they stepped forward in trust and left to find their priests, they were cleansed.  End of story right?  Not exactly.  The Bible goes on to tell us that after realizing they had received their healing, only one of the ten, a Samaritan, returns to thank Jesus.  This causes Jesus to ask why it was only him, this foreigner who returned.  But why was Jesus upset?  After all didn't the other nine do as He commanded and leave to find the priests?  







All ten men had faith.  But it was only this Samaritan who understood who Jesus truly was.  Unlike his Jewish counterparts, He recognized Jesus not only as a divine Healer, but also as his Redeemer and his Savior.  It is this realization that causes him to return glorifying God. He then falls at the feet of Jesus in praise and thankfulness knowing he is need of salvation.  In turn Jesus tells him to, "Stand up and go; your faith has made you well." (v. 19).  



All ten of the leprous men received physical healing based on their faith.  But it was only the Samaritan who came to God in dependence and thankfulness.  Because of this, he also received spiritual healing.  Jesus expects us to show gratitude.  Gratitude, giving thanks, and a grateful heart are all a part of God's will for our lives.  And as important as it is to dedicating ourselves to following Christ in faith, it is just as important to remember to thank Him for all that He is, all that He does, and all that He blesses us with each and every day.  

Lisa Moore

Salisbury Steak Recipe

12:16 PM



By Lisa Moore
It's been a rainy chilly weekend, and my guys wanted some comfort food. This definitely fit the bill! Try throwing in some fresh mushrooms and garlic for extra flavor. Served with some creamy mashed potatoes, this rivals any diner dish!
Salisbury Steak
Meat Mixture:

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons dry mustard
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 cube beef bouillon, crumbled (or powdered beef base)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil


Gravy:
1 whole onion, halved and thinly sliced (or diced if you prefer)
2 cups beef broth, more if needed for thinning
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon seasoning sauce, such as Kitchen Bouquet, optional
4 dashes Worcestershire
1 teaspoon cornstarch, optional
Salt and pepper

For the meat mixture: Combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, ketchup, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon and some salt and pepper. Knead until all combined. Form into 4 to 6 oval patties, and then make lines across the patties to give them a "steak" appearance.

Fry the patties in a skillet with the butter and oil over medium-high heat on both sides until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from the skillet and pour off any excess grease.

For the gravy: Reduce the heat to medium and add in the sliced onions. Stir and cook until golden brown and somewhat soft, for several minutes. Add the beef stock, ketchup, seasoning sauce, if using, and the Worcestershire. Then combine the cornstarch with a little beef broth and add to the sauce if using. Stir and cook to reduce.

Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and more broth if needed for thinning. Then return the patties to the gravy. Spoon the gravy over the top and let them simmer and heat back up for a couple of minutes.

Money

Scripture Saturday ~ Hiding God’s Word in Your Heart

12:00 AM




By Sandra Wyatt


Welcome to Scripture Saturday!  Today we continue our memorization of verses found in Luke with verses 12:34…


“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”



I chose this verse because it is, in its very nature, a verse of self-reflection.  Here in this verse Jesus is asking:  What is your real treasure? What absorbs your attention and your time? In which world do you live?



There are two kinds of treasure: that which grows old and rots and that which lasts.  If we know that we have treasure in heaven, the need to store treasure here on earth disappears. Jesus is not telling us that we should not have possessions, but He does teach that possessions should be placed within proper priorities.  People and their needs matter, but possessions should not be our focus. 



I know, personally, that I struggle with the my desire for earthly possessions.  I know it is a worldly desire. I must ask myself often, “What is God’s will in this particular decision or situation. Where is my focus?  Is it on His Kingdom or on my pleasure?” I must change my response when tempted to, “I want God’s will, not mine.  I trust in You and rest in Your provision.  My true treasure is stored in Heaven and I am to glorify You here today!”


Have a precious and blessed day everyone!


Angie Benjamin

Handling Money and Possessions {Luke 16}

2:08 AM



By Angie Benjamin

The use of wealth is the major topic of  Luke 16. Wealth can be a blessing or a curse, depending on whether it is used as a means to exercise power, a tool of self-indulgence or a resource to serve others. 

In this chapter Jesus tells two parables—the unrighteous steward and rich man and Lazarus—to show that God’s perspective on riches and our perspective are often very opposed. If we want to be truly rich, we need God’s perspective on money.

Wealth's danger is that it can turn our focus toward our own enjoyment, as the rich fool showed in 12:13-21 and as the rich man of 16:19-31 will show. Money is a tool. It is an excellent resource when put to the right use. It can help to build many things of use to others. But to possess money is also to hold a sacred stewardship. Our resources are not to be privately held and consumed but are to be used as a means of generosity, as a way of showing care for our neighbor, as the good Samaritan showed in 10:25-37 and as a restored Zacchaeus will show in 19:1-10.



Jesus' applications extend in various directions. First he notes that people of the world are more shrewd than the people of the light (the disciples) are. People of this world think about how they use their resources. Even if they misuse them, they still give it thought. They think about the long-term benefits of what they acquire. Disciples should apply themselves to honor and serve God by their use of resources. They should think through their actions, both short and long term.

Money cannot come with us to heaven. Its value is limited when it comes to everlasting life. So recognize its limits and use it for others, not selfishly. To gain friends by means of mammon is to use money in such a way that others appreciate you for your exercise of stewardship, your kindness and generosity.

Jesus calls mammon "unrighteous." The NIV is too soft here, calling it simply worldly wealth (NRSV has "dishonest wealth," which is not quite right either). Mammon is called unrighteous not because it is inherently evil but because of the unrighteous attitudes the pursuit of money can produce. If money were inherently unrighteous, then all uses of it would be evil. But that is not Jesus' view (see 19:1-10). The attitude reflected here may be similar to that of 1 Timothy 6:10, where Paul says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Money itself is not  evil because of how it brings out distorted values in people.The attitude towards it can be evil. Pursuing money can make people selfish, leading them to take advantage of others, to treat other people as objects and to be unfaithful to God. It tends to reflect an excessive attachment to the world. So it is better not to be attached to the pursuit of wealth.

Possessions are a responsibility, call it time, skills and talents...their use is a test of character, values and stewardship. The one who is faithful in little is also faithful in much. So also the other way around--to be dishonest in little things is to be dishonest in much. Faithfulness with the "little thing" of money indicates how faithful we are with the big things, the true riches of our relationships to God and to others. So if we have not been trustworthy in handling possessions that produce unrighteousness, who will trust us with true riches? The true riches in this passage seem to involve future kingdom service--that is, service for God and to others. True wealth is faithfulness in serving him.

The theme of responsibility continues as Jesus raises the question about being faithful with something that belongs to another so that later one can receive reward for oneself. If someone is unfaithful as a steward, why should that person be entrusted with ownership? Handling wealth is a preparatory lesson for other responsibilities before God.

The entire chapter should make us all stop and think carefully about our attitude toward money...how can you tell if you're slave to money?

Ask yourself... Do I think and worry about money frequently? Do I give up doing what I should do or would like to do in order to make more money? Do I spend a lot  of time caring for my possessions? Is it hard for me to give money away? Am I in debt?

To ponder:
Our use of money is a goo test of the lordship of Christ.
  • Money belongs to God, not us; so let us use it for good.
  • Money can be used for good or eveil; let us use ours for good.
  • Money has a lot of power; let us use our material goods in a way that will show and inspire others to faith and obedience.


Becky Bramlett Austin

Lost and Found {Luke 15}

12:00 AM




By Becky Bramlett Austin



Have you ever lost something that was very important? Do you remember how diligently you searched for it?  Did you think about anything else?  Did you search the same areas over and over again?  

And do you remember the relief, the pure joy, the celebration that came naturally when you finally found what you had been seeking so earnestly to find?

I think we all can relate to such a situation.  When the Scribes and Pharisees criticized Jesus for allowing sinners and publicans near him, he told three Lost and Found stories that even today we can universally relate to:

1.  THE LOST SHEEP:  Sheep can get lost easily. In that day, a shepherd was very protective of all of the fold.  He was their protection from the elements, from the dangerous terrain, and from the wildlife that would devour them. If a single sheep strayed from the others, it was extremely vulnerable and wouldn’t know how to find its way back.  So too are those lost in their sins. They don’t know how to protect themselves from the dangers around them or how to save themselves.  David could relate: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, For I do not forget your commandments. (Psalm 119:176)” It’s interesting that he uses the active words “Seek”.  That is what Jesus does for us.  He actively seeks and pursues us. For thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I Myself will search for my sheep and seek them out. (Ezekial 34:11)  And Jesus further emphasizes seeking after even one: “ What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?”  Jesus came into “our dangerous wilderness”, taking on the form of a human in a very dark, cruel world just to find and save each of us. And when he finds us there is incredible joy and celebration. And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. “And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. (v6)”


THE LOST COIN: “what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?”  No one wants to lose their hard earned money.  I’m sure the woman in this story felt the impact of losing one of her 10 coins.  I can imagine that she left no crevice unchecked, no item unturned.  If it took her hours and hours, I’m sure that finding that coin took full priority and all of her attention.  Again, we see the active seeking as in the first story and also the gathering of friends and celebration when the lost coin is found.  Can you imagine God seeking you diligently because he values you dearly? “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)”

But what about the second son.  He does not rejoice that relationship has been restored between the Father and the first son. His focus is on criticizing and judging his brother.  The scribes and Pharisees were doing the same when they criticized Jesus for allowing the sinners to gather near him.  Instead, they should have been rejoicing that these “sinners” were interested in changing their hearts toward God. Are we guilty of the same?  Do we know how to truly rejoice when others draw near to God? Do we gossip and criticize or do we pray for and hope for God to work in every heart we encounter? Do we realize that Jesus came to die for every human being and as the old hymn says, “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.” Rejoice, my friend, if you were lost and now are found! Rejoice over every lost soul that is brought safely into the fold.




THE PRODIGAL SON:  2 sons.  One is given his inheritance early but he wastes it.  Destitute, and empty handed he returns to the Father.  He returns humble however and truly repentant.  The Father is so excited that his child has returned that he kills the fatted calf to celebrate the restoration of relationship.  We are like that son.  We who are given such abundant blessings and yet we squander and waste our resources on our own pursuits of selfish pleasure and ambition.  I noticed that in contrast to the other 2 stories, we don’t see the Father seek after the son.  But there was no need to. The son knew his way home and he wouldn’t have appreciated the Father coming after him. Sometimes, we need to realize that just because someone seems to be going away from God, that doesn’t mean God has given up on them.  Sometimes they know the way they should go but they have to come to the end of themselves first.  In verse 17, we see that the son came to his senses and was ready to return home. When we come to the end of ourselves, realize how empty handed we truly are and learn to value relationship with our Father above any material gain, then he graciously welcomes us with open arms into fellowship with Him. 

Luke

O That We Might Know Peace! {Luke 19}

12:00 AM



By Sue Desmarais

Have you ever seen the different videos of the soldiers coming home from a tour overseas to surprise their parents, spouse, or children? I can’t resist them! I’m such a sap when it comes to a hero’s welcome and consequentially have always loved the story of Palm Sunday, but I recently discovered the story tellers usually only share half of the story; stopping at verse 40! Notice what also happened in that moment:

 “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” – Luke 19:41-44

Luke had an advantage at the time he wrote this book, for what Jesus is speaking about here had already taken place when Luke penned this. Jerusalem had already been destroyed about ten years prior by the Roman armies in the year 70.

What I hadn’t seen until now, and what I truly don’t understand is, this was to be a joyous occasion! It was a large, (some say 200,000) enthusiastic crowd joyfully proclaiming victory over their enemies and the triumphal arrival of the Kingdom of God!! Why, o why does Jesus begin to weep at this moment!?

The Greek word used here for “wept” is the strongest word used in the Greek language for weep. It would be equivalent to our words "sobbing, heaving, wretched agonizing."  As Jesus sees Jerusalem He's racked with agony and He begins to heave and sob. Definitely NOT the reaction anyone would expect at that moment! Right?

 Jesus knew this would be His final entry into the city of Jerusalem. He knew that in just a few days He would be arrested, tried, beaten and crucified. He knew that some of those very same people that were shouting, “Hosanna!” would soon be shouting, “Crucify Him!” , but He was weeping for the people; not for Himself.  

Jesus begins by saying, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace.” Wait! Why “on this day”? I discovered the reference to "this day" reveals that there is something about this particular day that makes Jesus weep, for “this day" had the potential to bring "things which make for peace." I also learned that when Jesus uses “you” in this verse He is referring to all of Israel.

Some scholars believe that "this day" is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 9:25, the Messiah would come to Israel at the end of the sixty-ninth week of Daniel which would have been this day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  

So, what exactly would bring Israel (and us) peace on that day or any day?  Repentance; a turning away from their ways of doing and being right, to faith in Jesus as the Messiah; believing the message of the kingdom! The message Jesus had preached from the very beginning of His ministry; the beginning of the Book of Luke, and the same message that had been woven throughout the Old Testament as well! But they still didn’t see! Still didn’t accept it even if they had seen. So Jesus wept for Israel like a parent weeping for a lost or wayward child. I don’t think I’ll ever look at another Palm Sunday celebration the same way again.

I know at the moment all seemed so grand, but Jesus could see through their hypocrisy to their rejection which would be coming in just a few days. He also wept because He knew of their destruction that was coming. Many that were there that day would probably not survive when Rome came to destroy Jerusalem.  He wept because He had already warned them of their own damnation coming, and still they refused to accept peace:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” –Matthew 23:37-39

As I’ve researched this passage this week two questions seemed to keep surfacing.

  • The first, do you know what brings peace to every heart? Have you believed and accepted the message Jesus came here to share? That salvation is found in Christ Jesus alone? Do you know, that you know, that you know you have that “peace”? We’ve seen today just how important it is to Jesus, is it just as important to you?

  • Then secondly, do you agonize over the lost like Jesus? Over your friends and loved ones who still to this day do not know the peace He came to offer them?

You and I NEED to be about our Father’s business, for we have “this day” and may never have another!

O Father, Thank You, thank You for Your Word. My heart is full and so thankful that I have been given the assurance of Your peace.  May it be so in each and every heart reading this post, I pray. May each of us turn, receive and embrace the gift of being reconciled to You; making peace possible because of all Jesus has done for us.  May there be no one reading this post that ever has to face such catastrophic and eternal judgment.  

And, Father, please do a work in each of us. Come in, fill us and use us, Lord, to carry this amazing message to those who so desperately need it in our world; those you agonized over that day! We thank You Lord! We give You all the glory and praise in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Friendship

How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People! {Luke 14}

12:00 AM



By Sue Desmarais

I find that often some of the meaning of a passage can be lost over 2000 years. Take this passage for example;

“And there went great multitudes with him: and He turned, and said unto them,
 ‘If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever does not take up his cross, and follow me, cannot be my disciple.’” Luke 14:25-27 (emphasis mine)

Let’s examine this picture before us… A “great multitude”, too many to count, were following after Jesus and He turns and says to the crowd, “Come, join Me and be My disciple and your life will be glorious from this point on!!”

OK, those weren’t quite His words, but some would like to believe they were today! Just think how Jesus’ words actually impacted this great multitude!! The cross was the most horrible, heinous and hated form of punishment reserved for only the very worst criminals, but you and I could probably imagine that the corrupt Roman officials probably liked to use it from time to time to set an example for the Jewish citizens at the time; to keep them in check sort of speak, for thousands of Jews were crucified during that time and not all could have been for murders. Therefore, can you imagine how repulsive Jesus’ words must have been to this multitude pressing in to see and hear Jesus?

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and even his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever does not take up his cross, and follow me, cannot be my disciple.

I imagine a collective gasp of horror could be heard at that moment especially coming from His own disciples, for yes, Jesus had said the same to them in so many words a few chapters back (Luke 9:23), but clearly Jesus must have known this was no way to make converts and influence people!! Surely not! Could you just imagine how this must have thinned the size of the crowd? Just how many do you think were still following after Him then?

Only, Jesus did know the impact His words would have, for He goes on to list several examples where it’s feasible to count the cost before proceeding further. Choosing to follow Jesus will be hard! All will face some sort of persecution; some will loose friends, loved ones, even businesses and some would loose their lives. To say that life would be wonderful the moment you give your life to Jesus would be a lie! Therefore, we too would be wise to follow Jesus’ example here, for too many have bought into a lie, and later fall away when the journey becomes difficult.

Those who choose to follow in spite of the possible hardships must after all, “…deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow” Him (9:23). Which simply means; we must surrender all (our rights, wants, desires etc,) placing Him first and foremost in our lives and pick up our cross (our mission and reason we’re here) and follow Him each day.


Being a disciple of Jesus, or a Christian, is more than learning about him; it includes following His leading. The disciples had already “left everything” to follow Him, and the Lord had promised them “a hundred times as much” blessing in return (Mark 10:28-30). Jesus also promised that they would have trials in this world (John 16:33). But He also promised He would never leave nor forsake them and assured them that He had already overcome the world!


The Christian life is not an easier life, but the joy often times outweighs the hardships. We fix our eyes on Jesus, who “for the joy set before him . . . endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).


God has set His followers free from the bondage of sin and through the Holy Spirit; we receive wisdom and understanding on how to go forward, encouragement, and the ability to persevere. And we trust that our “present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed” (Romans 8:18).

There is so much more I’d like to say, but let me close with just a bit of a personal note:

Psalm 1 begins,
“Blessed is the one

    who does not walk in step with the wicked
 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.”- Psalm 1:1-3


My husband and I began following Jesus together after we had been married for more than five years and our children were still young. That was over thirty years ago and I can honestly say, our lives haven’t always been easy, but God has definitely blessed us! When asked, I like to say that our marriage is as good as two sinners can get, for I can’t imagine a marriage being any better, though the Lord often enjoys proving me wrong. We’re also blessed with a wonderful close-knit family that also follows Jesus.

I know that had we not chosen to follow Jesus back then we would not be experiencing the joys we do today! I have been blessed far beyond my wildest dreams! (Eph 3:20) There is nothing more I seek or desire in this life that I haven’t already been given! Therefore, should God call me home today I am good to go! But I need to ask, are you?


There were many, I imagine, that turned away and stopped following Jesus that day, but I’m confident that those who chose to remain and follow Him never regretted their decision!

Faith

Free from your disability {Luke 13}

4:29 AM




By Lisa Thayer

Are you ashamed of something or many things from your past?  Have you always been nit-picky?  Maybe some people describe you as particular.   Do you hold a longtime grudge against someone?  Do you put your husband or children down?  Do you put down a coworker or boss?  Do you look at hypocrisy around you in anger or disgust?  

Do you recognize the crippling effects of these?

Are you like this woman who has been crippled by some life circumstance and even the people around you don't realize it?   Yet, Jesus, stoops all the way down to her, and calls her forward in front of everyone, and tells her she is free!  (v. 12)  Free from this bondage!  The synagogue leader hadn't even noticed her!  She'd been coming for 18 years and he hadn't seen the crippling effects of what held her hostage.  Satan is so clever!  He disguises sin from all of us.

Have you ever wondered why the synagogue leader was so upset?  Is this Jarius the synagogue leader we read about back in chapter 8?  It says here in verse 17 that the people were humbled and they glorified God.  What happens to humble people?  Have we judged these people ourselves and thought they were not worthy because they didn't treat this woman ‘right’?  Have we judged this woman? Are we being hypocritical?  Are we like this synagogue leader and have not recognized what a sabbath rest truly is?  Jesus is our rest from works now, just as He is the gate to heaven, where we will rest in Him forever.  There is no sabbath rest besides Jesus.  He alone satisfies the requirements of the law, and He alone provides the sacrifice that atones for sin.  He is God's plan for us to cease from the labor of our own works.

Last week I received an email from Sylvia Gunter and it happened to arrive a day after I began researching for my post.  I could not have said it better…

Isaiah 42:3. "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice."   Psalm 147:3. "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds to the promises of God for healing. In His humanity Jesus knew all your griefs, your rejection, your shame and guilt, your infirmities, your wounding, your suffering, your  tendencies to go astray (Isa. 53:1-6). He identified with you in every respect, because He was made like you in every way. Therefore He is able to come to your help (Heb. 2:17-18). He understands feeling bruised, broken, wounded, and barren. He turns them to shouts of joy (Isa. 54:1). He is your healing sacrifice.
Healing prayer is about applying God's healing words to wounded, helpless, and hopeless places of life. Isaiah said that God takes our wounds as an opportunity to display His glory (Isa. 61:3). That's how God can be glorified in the broken places. In the end He "will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Rev. 21:4). God can restore what the enemy plundered. He said, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten" (Joel 2:25).

Let the Holy Spirit of truth touch those things He wants to touch, and be blessed to partner with Him to do His work. Give Him all blocks to healing, especially unforgiveness, inner vows, judgments, and hopelessness. Be blessed with the healing love and compassion of Jesus touching everything from the past. Be blessed as Jesus lifts from you the scar tissue of past wounds, be they physical, verbal, emotional, or mental.

Let your spirit lead the way. Choose release, choose to open the doors of the prison of fear.  Ask the Holy Spirit of truth to minister truth, and let Him bring you into His light. Be blessed as He heals deeply at the root, not just put a band-aid to cover over the injury.

Be blessed with the comfort of the Lord for all negative emotions. Look into the face of your tender Abba to heal them all. Allow Him to minister His healing. He feeds you with gentleness and kindness, nourishing you with hope in him, drawing you deeper into His grace.

God told Hezekiah, "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears, I will heal you." It is as true today as when it was spoken then. He responds to our tears with healing. Jeremiah said, "Heal me, and I shall be healed indeed." God remains faithful to you. Rest in those words. Breathe in the love and healing of God.

Your Comforter indwells you. He administers comfort and healing in every area of hurt. Be blessed in the peace of God with His joy and strength. Be blessed in the courage of the Holy Spirit. The risen Jesus living in you is bringing you resurrection power. Align yourself with the Spirit of Christ Jesus every moment of every day. Be blessed as He washes those areas that were tender and raw. He brings back to life those parts of your being long denied or buried. Be blessed that He is everything that you need.

Your heavenly Father honors your tears that seek Him, your patience to wait for Him, your eyes to behold Him, your heart to meditate on Him, and your life to show Him forth in the power of the Spirit of Jesus your Lord.